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At the very end of December 2013 I had a bay window installed by Comfort Windows. This is a very pic-heavy, non-food ultra-boring homeowner post of my experience with them. 4 months in to 2014 and I still consider their work acceptable if you are looking for a company to install a new bay window in your house. TLDR: I had an overall positive experience and am satisfied with the results thus far.

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This was my original window. When we first were looking at the house, the seat was completely covered with carpeting, the front of the window was covered by thick shrubbery up against it. The inspector said the bowing/give at the top of the window was fine. Once we got in the house and removed the carpet covering, we saw that the damage was because of water damage at the base of the window and the carpeting had been retaining that moisture and contributing to the damage. I don’t hold this against the inspector, as he was as thorough as he could be during the inspection, and if he had flagged it as an issue it would have added yet another time-consuming issue to the closing process and I’d have likely lost out on my locked-in interest rate and pay a higher rate over the life of the loan.

Any way, the window was a problem. I had three window companies out for a quote. One had a showroom that was REALLY far. Another sent a rep I didn’t jive with (but had good follow-up customer service). Comfort Windows was the last company that came. They landed solidly in the middle of the two companies for window price. What sold me on them were a few things: initial impression of the salesmen, proximity, and a lifetime warranty on the window that is transferable to the next owner. The window was $3,130. It was measured to fit, and the middle window is the largest size available without changing price. Any way, I just put this out there since I feel like there is not a lot of information out there in this area on window pricing.

In terms of scheduling, Comfort Windows was a bit of a disappointment. I paid my deposit ($1k) the day I walked in their showroom in September and selected a window (I was waffling between bay or bow). They contacted me after about a week or so to come back to my house to remeasure and assess the window with one of the installation staff (they said they don’t normally do this, but for some reason they just wanted to be extra sure with my window). After that it was radio silence for a while while they made my window. Another thing I liked about Comfort Windows was that they are fairly vertically integrated – they have their own production facility, and everyone that works for them is an employee – no independent contractors or third parties involved. Any way, they said my window specs would go to the factory and gave me a time-frame for installation at the end of October/beginning of November. In November, I started contacting my rep and found out that production was delayed, and my installation would be delayed. Then I had to call up and find out that my window wasn’t even in production. Long story short, I had to get a bit assertive mid-December and my window was installed just before Christmas. I was mainly in contact with my rep, but there are two scenarios that come to mind: The production facility was running behind and no one updated me, or my rep dropped the ball and didn’t put my order in when he said he did (since he told me it was in production, and then not in production). But either way, once I gave them a deadline they worked to fill my order in that time. My own mistake was not requesting an installation date in writing, newbie home owner here. Next time I’ll know better.

Okay, boring homeowner first world problem stuff out of the way, on to more pictures. The installation employees arrived on time and were done early. They were very personable and pretty much ignored me while I stood around watching them and taking pictures. They had the original bay out in under an hour. I would say I was impressed with it, but watching them remove it made me realize how little there was to it. I’m not sure if it’s just how things were done when it was initially put in, but their assessment was that it was out too far and completely unsupported, which is why it started to sag in the first place.

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More water damage.

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Water damage all around!

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The baseboard heating pipe against this wall froze during the first Arctic Freeze of Winter 2013, and I got to see that it was because it was mainly a wood board and some insulation keeping the outside out. I am happy to report that I have not had any more problems with freezing pipes since the new window was installed.
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All gone! They were very clean and quiet.
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Ignore the Christmas detritus in the background.

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The view from inside looking out.

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Reinforcing the seat for the new window.

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The Comfort Windows team easing the new window into place.

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Bay windows nowadays are attached to a support beam in the house with an anchor to prevent sagging. I must have asked and double checked about this a dozen times just to be absolutely certain I wouldn’t have similar issues in the future.

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Wrapping the new window and former hole in metal took the longest. They were very detail oriented for this process. It took 2 hours, easily. I was glad I didn’t attempt this myself. Seemed really tedious.

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This seemed like something they needed to do in order to fill in the gaps left by the old bay window. My sales rep said it would be flush with the rest of soffit when he initially came out, but it seems like the installation crew did an assessment and determined this was the best fit.

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Here was some water on the house that the previous window let in. Glad this was caught before it got any worse.

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More of the tedious wrapping process.

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Inside. The bottom is weird because that’s where the old window seat came down to (and thus started the never-ending wallpaper removal project).

 

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New window! This definitely lets in some nice wind and cross breeze now that spring is making its way here. The cat is also really digging the seat and peering out on the neighborhood. I did not receive any compensation for this post (I wish), but posted it merely for more open discourse on the topic and to increase transparency in the market.

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The Fuj mentioned some new dishes on Taiwan Noodle‘s menu over the winter, and after the third or so mention, I asked him and Elise to meet Albany John and me there for a meal recently, and they kindly obliged.

First up: Spicy Shredded pork stomach ($3.95) on the left, 5-Spice Beef Shank on the right ($5.95). Hefty portion of beef in that dish. Served cold like deli meat, still very meaty. The pork stomach is served over a bed of peanuts. It’s can taste a touch gamey, but if you order the fried pig intestines it tastes mild by comparison.
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The onslaught of shareable plates. Wood ear in the fore front, adding in the fried pig intestine (the red stuff top left) and scallion pancakes. Woah, the pig intestine was some stuff yo’ A-ma or Yeh-Yeh would be eating. That stuff was intense. Albany John is an old man at heart and he loved them (thank god, because the rest of us were not into them).
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Squid rings! These had a nice breading and chew on the squid. I could eat a plate of these on my own. They had a side of seasoned salt, which was already in the batter. They said it wasn’t really necessary, and it wasn’t, but I guess they’ve had enough people ask that they now just bring some out.
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Wonton soup on the left, and a dish from a new part of the menu – baked rice. This baked rice was seafood. It was a gravy type dish over rice. Kind of like baked fried rice, but with gravy. I’m not a huge rice fan, but I was really into this dish.
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Pretty sure I ate close to half of this on my own.

Oh wait, did we also get Xiao Long Bao? I think we did, but I must have been too busy gobbling them down! Haha.

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Marshmallows! I’ve been making marshmallows lately using Butter’s basic marshmallow recipe.
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They’re great with a little cocoa, especially if you put in peppermint oil. Daniel B. loaned me his kitchenaid mixer before he hightailed it off to New Jersey. Instead of languishing in storage, it had been languishing on my shelf. So at least I know I don’t need a big ole Kitchenaid taking up space in my kitchen. But I figured that I should TRY to use the mixer while I have it. And what likes a big stand mixer more than marshmallows?

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Here’s what I started out with – sugar, gelatin, corn syrup, peppermint essential oil, and powdered sugar. I had Knox gelatine sitting in my pantry, but have since purchased Great Lakes Unflavored Beef Gelatin from Amazon. It’s cheaper per lb than the Knox packets, and unlike Knox, there is no SMELL. OMG, Knox smells like a freaking barn once you hydrate the powdered gelatin. So it’s better and cheaper than Knox. Sign me up. But if you’re not sure you’re going to do much with gelatin the Knox will be fine as an intro. The flavor thankfully doesn’t linger into the final product. But then again I made mine aggressively peppermint-y.

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Corn syrup, granulated sugar, water. Boil for a minute, then add it to your soaked gelatin in the kitchenaid mixer.

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Whirl around for about 10 minutes, add in peppermint oil (I used about 10 drops for a VERY aggressively pepperminty marshmallow), then whip for 2 more minutes.

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Parchment paper in a pan – plop in your marshmallow and even it out. You can put powdered sugar on top and press with more parchment paper for a more even look, but I wasn’t terribly concerned about that with my first batch.
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Let it sit for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Then sprinkle more powdered sugar on a piece of parchment paper (parchment paper is your friend, here).
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Gently pull off the parchment paper.
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Almost there…
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Sprinkle more powdered sugar on top. The sieve really helps reduce the amount of sugar you’d use than if you tried this by hand.
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Use your handy dandy bench scraper or sharp knife and start cutting away!
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Once you have some squares or shapes, roll them in more powdered sugar to keep them from sticking.

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Surprise your husbear with hot cocoa and fresh marshmallows in the morning when your project is complete!

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Spring is here, which means my winter of tarts will likely be coming to an end. Or maybe I’ll just start using seasonal stuff in my tarts.  I bought a few tart pans, and my favorite is this Fox Run 14″ x 5″ tart pan. The shape makes me happy.

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I’ve been using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for a sweet tart shell that doesn’t really shrink. It’s pretty awesome, and the best part is it’s all made in the food processor in a cinch. The recipe makes a bit more than you’ll need for the tart shell. By the way, Smitten Kitchen’s Whole Lemon Tart is also an awesome recipe. The filling is SUPER lemony and also made entirely in a blender (which I <3 for clean up). I made that recipe with a full tart shell recipe in a larger circular tart pan, and oh man was that ever a hit.

This particular pictured filling was cheesecake with some random bits of fresh strawberries (that were going south quickly). Cheesecake fillings are super easy – cream cheese + sugar + stuff (this can be cream, sour cream, milk, egg… something to thin it out a bit)
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The recipe makes more than this rectangular tart pan needs, so I flipped over a mini muffin/cupcake tray and wrapped some pieces with remaining dough. Filled with some whipped cream and aww, yeah. Yum! They are very tan because I forgot about them while par baking the tart shell in the background. Filled with cream, they just tasted like crunchy pie crust. Cream fixes everything, right?

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Albany John picked me up a hard shell lobster meal from Sea Fish Market and Grill in Newton Plaza in Latham. It was $9.99 for a steamed lobster with two sides  – he went with waffle fries and grilled veggies. The waffle fries had some kind of extra coating on them to make them very crunchy. Love. So much love for the waffle fry. They traveled very well, too. Although everything in Latham is just 10 minutes away, max.

Lobster was great – it was a female and had some eggs inside. I love female lobsters and their egg sacs. Sea even sexed the lobster for Albany John. He’s a sweetie like that and will ask people at the fish counter for a female lobster because he know how much I like the roe. A lot of people will look at him funny, but he tells me Sea was very accommodating.

Albany John says everything was very clean inside. I’ll have to check it out myself in the near future. It’s nice to have a seafood place so close to home. Fin in Guilderland and Saratoga are awesome places, but for some reason I just don’t make it over to either location when they’re open. It takes me a bunch of schedule planning to get out there. Has anyone else been to Sea in Latham?

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Hodgson Mill posted a recipe for “Gluten Free Baked Beignets“. I used quotes because there is no way you can all these beignets in any way, shape, or form.  However, they are perfect as gluten-free scones. Not as light as wheat-based scones, but pretty decent for coconut flour scones. Hodgson Mill took my criticism well on Twitter. But seriously, don’t confuse these for beignets. It’s like calling a dinner roll a funnel cake. Two completely different things.

I don’t have any issues with gluten, but I will jump on any recipe that uses coconut flour. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Baking in my Bathing Suit has been gluten-free lately, and she came over to help me make these.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

2T Warm Water
1 t yeast
1/2 t sugar
(Proof the three above ingredients if you want, otherwise just toss it all together)

1 C Gluten Free AP Flour
1/2 C Coconut flour
2 T Sugar
1 t baking soda1/2 t xanthan gum
3 T coconut oil, melted
1/2 C milk
1 t lemon juice
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract

Combine all of the dry stuff, then drizzle in the melted coconut oil and mix so it evenly distributes and looks kind of clumpy. Then add in the liquids (including the proofed yeast, if not, toss in the yeasty trio now). Mix well.
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Here’s what it looks like when it’s all combined and mixed. Then you cover it and let it rise for about an hour.

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Put some parchment paper on the baking sheet you intend to use. Sprinkle with some gluten free flour
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Plop the risen dough on this sheet, then knead/fold it for a little while so the dough comes back together.

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Then roll it out into as much of a rectangle as you can make, he he. (Straight lines are not my strength)

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Then cut into triangles. Or however you want them shaped.

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Spread them out a bit on the parchment-lined pan. Then cover and let them rise another +/-30 minutes. (note: I made these in winter, so my house is cooler and a 30 minute rise time is normal. In the summer this may be reduced to less than 30 minutes)
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Here’s how they look after poofing for a half hour. Wow, lookin’ pretty scone-y.
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And here they are fresh out of the oven. 400F until the edges just start to get a slight tan. I think this was about 8 minutes for my in my convection oven.
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Figured I’d try them tossed in powdered sugar in the spirit of beignets. Also because these aren’t very sweet.
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They looked pretty, but you can leave the powdered sugar off your own. Not much stuck to them.
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But these gluten free scones were great with some freshly macerated fruit!

 

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The Good Morning Cafe is expanding to become Good Night Noodle, a pho-centric Vietnamese restaurant.

They had a gathering of local bloggers one night to try out some of the the dishes that Good Night Noodle would feature.

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I’ve been following Good Morning Cafe for a while, but never managed to get up there (as I am a horribly late person and I just don’t leave my house early enough to get to breakfast places). This was also an awesome chance to learn more about GMC and their commitment to buying locally, easily summed up by their motto of “eat good * do good * feel good”.

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It’s a clean, open space with plenty of tables. Now, breakfast is always problematic for me, but dinner is much easier to add to my calendar. Good Night Noodle is projected to open in April 2014.

The Capital Region as a whole doesn’t have too many Vietnamese places – there’s Kim’s, & Van’s in Albany (and I know, I know so are My Linh and Pho Yum, but both of sit on the high side of menu pricing), Saigon Spring in Clifton Park, and soon Good Night Noodle in Ballston Spa. And it’s worth the drive.

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Shrimp Summer Rolls – with the addition of red bell pepper for a textural crunch.

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Vegetarian summer rolls also with red bell pepper. Good Night Noodle prepares Vietnamese food a little bit differently than most traditional Vietnamese restaurants. There is more of a focus toward using local produce and meats, and 95% of the menu will be gluten-free (and that 5% will mainly be dessert).

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Perfectly wrapped spring rolls!

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Pho condiment platter of hoisin sauce, Thai basil, cilantro, limes, jalapenos, and bean sprouts.

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Quick pickled veggies in apple cider vinegar.

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Chicken meatball pho. This was an awesome broth. Actually, all of the Good Night Noodle broths are awesome. Full bodied and warming but not too rich or heavy, which tends to be my broth preference. This was rich with chicken flavor. This bowl would be considered a small and will retail for about $7 per bowl. There will be large options available as well for $10-12.

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The bowls from the Good Morning Cafe were a bit on the shallow side, and Good Night Noodle has an indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the start-up and initial operating costs of setting up Good Night Noodle. This will include deeper bowls for more broth in their pho, among other kitchen upgrades/purchases.

The chicken meatballs use toasted rice flour, coconut oil, and aminos (aminos in place of soy sauce). It’s a great spongy texture – kind of like a fish cake, but chicken-y. It’s an awesome addition to pho – delicious on its own, but also great for soaking up a bit of pho broth. Once Good Night Noodle is open there are also plans of a chicken meatball sandwich.

Ok, more on the broths – the veggie broth is SO rich, thick, and delicious I’m going to have a hard time picking which soup I’d want – veggie, chicken, or beef. Normally I’d just brush off the vegetarian broth and likely go for beef, but this vegetarian broth really gives the other broths a run for their money.

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Dessert! Orange Blossom Cupcakes, and the best vegan cookies I’ve ever had.

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