Wednesday, September 29, 2004

My Father-in-Law, the Plumber (and HVAC Guy)

My wonderful, amazing father-in-law volunteered to install radiant floor heat in our house. This is no small job. We are transitioning from forced hot air, oil to a super efficient gas boiler with tubes of warm water running underneath our entire first floor. The second floor will be heated by baseboards. We are also going from one zone to two (that means there will be a thermostat on both floors).

The work started back in August and it has been slow going. Our "contractor" has been driving to our house on Saturdays (from Cape Cod!) to work on it and the past two weeks, he's taken off from his real, paying job, to work on our house during the week. The biggest reason it has been taking so long is because nails from the wood floor had to be grinded down on the underside of the sub-flooring, which is also the basement ceiling, in order to install the plates that hold the tubing. This took forever! Now, the work is going much more quickly.

The other day, Matt's dad gave us a tour of the new system, which is nearly finished. I can't get over how complex it is. It looks like a mad scientist experiement, actually. I also can't believe he actually volunteered to do this for us and I wonder if he's had any moments of regret.

Here are a couple of pictures of the new system:

Pipes and valves leading to boiler below.

Plastic tubing filled with warm water and antifreeze (the pink stuff) running all through the basement ceiling, wich will heat our floors from below.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Blue Berry Pancakes

I often crave pancakes or waffles on 3-day weekends. Something about an extra day at home triggers the need for a leisurely breakfast with something that requires more than pouring milk into a bowl of cereal. Waffles are easy to make in my nifty waffle iron. Pancakes on the other hand are one food that I am just no good at making. Luckily for me, my husband seems to have a talent for flipping flapjacks.

I always make the batter from scratch. No Bisquick here! (Sorry, Mom.) The trouble comes when I start cooking them. I can't seem to get the pan to the right temperature. The pancakes always come out burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. Now, you probably know that I do like to cook and I think I'm pretty good at it. Pancakes just give me trouble.

So this weekend, after I mixed the batter ingredients, I left the cooking to Matt. The pancakes came out perfect! No raw middles or burnt surfaces. His trick is to not use any cooking spray or butter, which has a tendency to burn and turn a dark yucky color. Between the non-stick frying pan and the oil in the batter, no extra fat is needed.

Just over a month until the next 3-day weekend! I have plenty of time to practice my technique. Or, I can just leave pancake duty to Matt.