This past month we’ve managed to put in new French doors and our old cement porch is finally history! That’s the good news. The bad news is the first week our porch was demolished, we had to use a cinderblock to step up into the kitchen. This is manageable if you’re not carrying anything, but difficult if you’re lugging in a cooler full of food, bottles of wine, and laundry. Should I mention that it was pouring rain, too, and the soil below turned to a big messy puddle of mud?
In case you’ve forgotten what the old cement porch looked like, here it is.
In the process we also put in a new kitchen window and while I would have liked it to be even bigger than it is to really maximize our view of the property, I had to stay within budget and order a simple replacement window that supposedly was a few inches larger. On the outside of the house, it doesn’t look that much bigger, but it’s centered and guess, what, the windows actually open! How cool is that? (Really, when you’re doing a house renovation of this magnitude, you’re just happy that anything works.)
On the culinary front, I decided to try a new bread recipe, baguette to be precise, from the late labor leader Albert Shanker. Since I had been using a New York Times recipe for years that I wasn’t particularly fond of (the dough was always really gooey and difficult to work with), I thought it was time to not only try something new but hopefully more manageable, too. I also wanted something that I could make in our toaster oven (the one that doesn’t toast) so thought making “mini baguettes” might be feasible.
I made the dough beforehand and brought it up to the house. I let it sit, then cut it in half and tried to fashion each half into something that resembled a baguette shape but in reality looked like a hero.
I popped each loaf into a baguette form and put it in the toaster oven. Since I was afraid that “misting” or throwing in a cup of water to give it the steam effect the bread would need to make it crunchy would cause my toaster oven to catch on fire, (or maybe even the house), I added a metal drip pan filled with about half a cup of water and put it in the oven. It appears that this oven is afflicted with the same problem as my oven on Long Island — one half of the oven cooks faster (and hence darker) than the other half! This meant, one baguette turned out darker than the other. I let them cool a bit and while the desired crunchy top was achieved, I thought they could have spent a few more minutes cooking.
With the bread we had a simple lunch of marinated white anchovies (thanks for the gift Mom!).
And some burrata, tomatoes, and a few leaves of basil I managed to steal from the garden.
It’s just then I realized our contractor had taken off the front of the house, too!
Now even though I was attached to the old “look” of the front of the house and the columns, the scale was all wrong, not to mention the fact that it was actually about to collapse from all the rot! (Really, I was always terrified whenever anyone was actually standing under that part of the house!)
We did keep two of the columns though and are trying to think of something we could do with them.