Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bar stool desk

A desk for Cliff.

Now that he's gotten himself more and more into photography, a desk for his laptop (for image processing) was bubbling up as a real need. He also needed a place to do his paperwork, and store a few items.

I looked far and wide on Craigslist for a desk with the dimensions we needed, but I couldn't find anything...too short, too long, to wonky looking, too beat up...and don't even get me started on what people think their their stuff is worth!  I could find nothing that would work.  I decided we should build one, and the bar stool desk was born.  A quick Google search would show me that I wasn't the first to think of this, but what I found did get my finishing and decorating idea motor running!

For a couple of days I checked Craigslist for used bar stools before I found some that would work. A married couple, on the last day of their garage sale, had a pair of solid wood bar stools in exactly the style I was hoping to find. We dickered down to $30 for the pair. Perfect!

It was time to design/build a topper. I got the idea for the topper from the one that makes up my own desk. It was purchased from Pottery Barn years ago, but the idea is a good one. Build 'pockets' for the seats of the bar stools to rest in, which keeps the topper from shifting.

The bar stool seats were about 1-1/2" too wide for the dimensions needed, so Cliff trimmed them down just a bit with the table saw. You can see the sawn edges here.

The bar stools are unattached to the topper, but the 'pockets' keep the topper from shifting. Easy to take down for moving. Topper upside down, showing the 'pockets', first without the bar stools...

...and with.

The topper has a cove edge, which Cliff added with the router. I love that thing. I think it's my favorite wood working tool. It gives everything a finished off, professional look. Sometimes I look for projects that require a routered edge, just so we can use it.

The topper upside down, showing the coved edge.

...and right side up.

A good sanding and finishing project is next, but for now, you can see how things look, and get a sense of how easy this is. The routered edge takes a specialty tool, but even just a basic pine board, sanded and finished, can sit atop a pair of barstools, for a quick and easy desk.

Total cost? $55. I love it, and more importantly, so does Cliff.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pesto baked eggs

With a rather significant cutting on my basil plant two days ago, I decided to make pesto. I didn't have any pine nuts, and they are very expensive, so I rarely use them in pesto, anyway. I used what I had, which was pecans. It was a basic pesto recipe; basil leaves, garlic, salt and pepper, and my prized Barouni olive oil from Joelle Oil.

I don't cook with my Barouni olive oil, because I often worry that it will lose something in the high heat, but in a pesto? It's the creme de la creme.

With quite a bit of pesto on hand, the plan for my weekend is a series of pesto recipes. I'm in a pesto kind of mood.  First up? Pesto Baked Eggs.

The first time I made baked eggs, I used a marinara sauce, which I didn't love, but the overall recipe was quite good, so it got me to thinking. Why not just tomato slices vs. the sauce? Easier, cheaper and the tomato slices would add nice texture to the dish.

This one couldn't be easier and the pesto takes it from very good to exceptional. This is a gourmet flavored/textured dish that prepares like a beginner's recipe.


1 large (or two small) Roma tomato
4 eggs
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
Pesto (buy it, make it...whatever you wish)


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter the bottom and sides of two baking ramekins (1 cup size).

Layering from the bottom up, to each dish, add 1/4 of the tomato slices, two 2 eggs, 1-1/2 tablespoons of heavy cream, the last 1/4 of the tomato slices, and 1/4 cup of the Gruyere cheese.

Bake for 8 minutes.  Raise heat to broil, and remove from oven when the cheese begins to brown, 1-2 minutes.  For runnier eggs, decrease the initial baking time.  For firmer eggs, increase it.

Remove from oven, top with a generous dollop of pesto, and serve with a side of crostini.