Friday, April 26, 2013

My New Kitchen

As I've mentioned, I recently moved to a new apartment, so yet more new challenges to cooking and baking. Actually, the last apartment had a pretty big and spacious kitchen with lots of cupboard space, it just lacked drawers. Yes, that's right, there were no drawers in the entire kitchen. What it did have, and what we learned pretty quickly to make full use of, were cupboards with pull out shelves. So when I started unpacking boxes and putting things away in the new kitchen, I almost completely overlooked the drawers! Luckily, my boyfriend Greg took care of filling them up for me.

The challenges I now face with the new kitchen, and this is probably something most apartment dwellers can relate to, is a lack of cupboard space. Also counter space. There would be quite a bit more counter space if the built-in microwave didn't hang down, leaving only about two inches of space between it and the counter-top. My own microwave was superior to this one in that it had a turntable (I haven't even seen a microwave without one in decades), but I went ahead and got rid of it anyway since I didn't see much need for two, and there was no place to store it. 

Greg and I keep talking about getting tables and such to extend the counter space, but so far all we have is my old computer desk that is really more like an overgrown TV tray. It holds Greg's coffee pot (mine is relegated to the top of the fridge until I can find another place (or use) for it) and our odd assortment of travel mugs. I know it can take time and money to set up a proper space, but I admit to feeling frustrated over this. I hate living in an unfinished home.

Another interesting point to our new kitchen is the fridge. It looks like a normal fridge from the outside, if a bit dated, but inside, it's extremely shallow. There is also a giant crack the wraps around all three walls, and now a thumb-sized chunk has been knocked out of the bottom after I dropped a mostly empty plastic syrup bottle into it, exposing the insulation beneath. Everyone assures me this isn't a problem, but I can't help feeling a bit concerned about a badly cracked fridge, and not just because I'm worried about leaking time energy or the Silence. (No hash marks have appeared on my arm yet, and if anyone has been wiped out of existence, I wouldn't remember.)

Interesting thing about the stove, too: the front right burner doesn't work. It's one of the larger ones, too, so if I use my large sauce pans or frying pan, I have to use the back burner, so cooking has been kind of annoying due to the reach. This also means I can only cook with one large pan at a time. We put this in the move-in report weeks ago, but no one has been by to fix it. 

The oven portion, on the other hand, has proved to be stronger than any other oven I've had in a rented space. It also has a delay-cook feature and an automatic shut-off feature (near as I can tell), which is very interesting and I'm sure useful to some people, but as it didn't come with an instruction manual, and I've never had such a system before, I probably won't be using it. I can't tell if it actually has a timer, so I've been using my dented egg timer instead. The only indicator for the oven having reached its "pre-heated" temperature is a red light going off, which is nothing new to me, but to Greg is a real mystery. He insists every oven he's ever had has always buzzed or dinged. He has had a great many less ovens than I have, and very few of mine have been so fancy. The last apartment's oven didn't even have the red light, so we estimated. A great many things were either under-cooked or took 10 to 30 minutes longer to finish cooking in that oven than the recipe prescribed.

We've done a fair amount of cooking so far; easy things like stir fry, mostly, or chicken sausages, and a lot of pancakes. I should have a new recipe up here for next week. We don't have internet yet, and I have been finding very little time to stop in at the library to use theirs. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Schwartz's Deli of Montreal

After crossing into Quebec, I was pretty happy I'd been brushing up on my French. I studied Parisian French which is admittedly different from Quebecois, but it was enough to read menus, signs, and, most importantly, road construction warnings! After a few days being surrounded by French in Montreal, it was almost surreal to run into not only English, but New York accented English. At least, I used to associate it with New York. Now I'm associating it with really tasty meat sandwiches and guys in paper hats.

Greg had heard about a place called Chez Schwartz, previously known as Schwartz's Deli, and I think now known simply as Scwartz's. That's what the front window and the post card I bought said anyway. Whatever you choose to call it, this place, it turns out, is incredibly well known not just by tourists, but locals also frequent the deli, some enough to be called by name. When Greg asked if he spoke English, the waiter laughed. I think he preferred it, and I didn't notice any French being spoken in the deli. (Chinese, yes, though by patrons only.)

If you go to Montreal, you should eat at Schwartz's. You should also know that it's going to be very crowded, possibly with a line out the door. (The optimal number for a party to sit quickly and comfortably seemed to be two.) Trust me on this, though: it's worth it. There are alternatives to meat sandwiches (which means beef, by the way) – chicken, for example – but if you are capable of eating meat (beef), ORDER IT. It is so freaking delicious. We had our beef sandwiches with fries and Cokes. I also dipped bits into HP Sauce, which Greg knew from England. It tastes like America's A1 Sauce, but better.

Because it is so crowded and the deli is on the small and narrow side, they might seat your party at the same table as another party, which I know freaks some people out. I didn't have a problem with it. I was lost in sandwich paradise. Truly.

The space is so narrow, in fact, that a man in a motorized scooter who had previously been seated was having trouble getting back out after his meal. A local who knew the guys at the deli was standing by the door chatting when one of the men behind the counter called out to her, “Lucy! Make like Moses!” She helped the customers who couldn't see the man in the scooter part – like the Red Sea – and help him exit.

Everyone there seemed to be in good spirits; the crowd was just part of the experience. I can't remember for sure, but I think Schwartz's is cash only. It certainly gets you in and out faster. And don't forget to tip! The first group at the table with us were Chinese and didn't leave the waiter a tip, so when Greg and I rose to leave, he reminded us that we had to leave a tip. Since we had already left one, this prompted us to leave a bigger one. The staff definitely deserves it for all their hard and busy work.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Unexpected Break Time

Hey! Guess who has been without internet and even a computer for the past few weeks! Yep, that'd be me. Our internet was turned off two days early before moving, then I couldn't find my netbook's cord and it ran out of charge, and the new apartment doesn't have internet yet. With so much going on trying to get the new place organized and unpacked, I haven't had time to drive to Ann Arbor and use their internet until now, and I have only a short break between my two jobs. I am really hoping I can return next week with updates. I'm just rolling with the punches.