around 11am i took mauricio to prospect hill park in union square to get a bird's eye view of boston and the nearby landscape. along the way i wanted to show him points of interest, but a few times he kept on talking about something else and i didn't want to interrupt him. he seems to be more interested in chatting than actually sightseeing. of course anyone who rarely takes photos is probably not the most observant when it comes to noticing things anyway. the tower was undergoing renovations, but we stepped over the barrier tape undetected, as the workers were busy inside the castle itself to notice us. mauricio seemed to really like the view and kept thanking me for showing me. i think he's the first of my roommates that i have ever brought up here.
on our way back, we stopped in market basket. i needed to get some groceries (most importantly eggs for my pastel de nata recipe i'd be trying later today) while mauricio needed to pick up lunch and some snacks for his busride to new york city in the afternoon. yesterday alfonso had already taken mauricio into his first american supermarket experience (the whole foods on cambridge street next to MGH), but i was showing him a more local side of grocery shopping. i could feel mauricio experiencing sensory overload. in spain his used to smaller grocery stores, with less selection. besides the abundance of choices we have here in the US, a visit to market basket is also a patchwork of different shoppers from a myriad of cultures, all converging at the same "watering hole." mauricio seemed less inclined to explore than trying to accomplish his mission of getting lunch and snacks and drinks. as for me, i opted to get a store-bought lunch, the ham and provolone gourmet sandwich for only $3.99.
we got back to the house by 12:30pm. mauricio packed up his things then lounged on the couch waiting to leave at 1:15pm. i ate my sandwich, which turned out to be quite delicious, and a real bargain that i ended up only eating half, saving the rest for later.
after mauricio left it was my turn to lounge on the couch. i did send out another cancellation e-mail to constellation energy, my father still wants to leave them despite the hard sell last night promising benefits that should've been delivered during the previous year-long contract. there was mentions of retroactive reimbursements, but it all sounded like a scam to get my father to agree to another 2-year contract, in which case the benefits and rebates will mysteriously disappear again. better to stick with nstar/eversource, the devil you know.
i left the house for star market to pick up a few things on sale (clementine oranges, dorito chips). in the late afternoon i got hungry again and finished the other half of my sandwich. the couch seems to have a built-in sleep-inducer because soon i became drowsy and dozed off. around 5pm i crawled into my own bedroom hoping to take a short nap before dinner.
that's when my mother called me. she was angry that atlas glen-mor came by the house earlier to fill up the heating oil tank. with gas prices at an all-time low in many years, my mother was expecting a considerable saving on heating oil this winter. but when she looked at the bill she was shocked that they charged her $2.95/gallon. a check on the massachusetts energy website has an average heating oil price of $2.33/gallon for last week, down to $2.28/gallon this week. my mother asked me to call to complain.
i spoke with mike and told him the situation. even he knew the state average price, and gave me the pitch that atlas glen-mor is a full service company so there are additional benefits hence the higher price. i told him with gasoline prices dropping to record low, it didn't seem right that their heating oil price was still so high, and i told him that my mother was so angry she probably wants to switch to a different company. he then told me that he could lower the price to $2.33 (the state average) and deduct it from the bill, just to keep us with them. he also tried to sell me on the value of a price lock contract, but i told him i'd discuss it with my mother first. i then called my mother back, who seemed to be happy with the result, and didn't want to leave atlas glen-mor just yet. i personally think heating oil prices are probably lower than $2.33 at this point. if they have such flexibility with the prices, why not just give us the low price to begin with? heating oil companies all seem a little bit shady.
by that point i didn't feel sleepy anymore and decided to try my hands at making pastel de nata AKA portuguese tarts. for the filling i used the following recipe: 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 cup of whole milk, and 2 egg yolks. i heated the mixture on low-medium heat until it became thick, before dipping the pot in an ice bath and adding 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.
while the filling mixture was cooling, i worked on the shells. i used a leftover roll of pie crust. i rolled it out and trying to shape it into a long rectangular sheet before rolling it up and cutting it into a dozen medallions to go into the dozen mini tart tray. i then pressed the medallions into the tart molds. the recipe called for baking at 480°F for 30 minutes, but i decided to go high heat at 550°F for just 10 minutes, for quick browning (my oven can only go up to 550° anyway).
after 10 minutes i checked the oven. the custard filling was bubbling, with some browning away from the center. i could see the edges of the pastry turning dark brown and i knew they were getting burnt, but the filling didn't look done yet so i baked them another 10 minutes. the filling browned even more, but the crust was definitely burnt at that point. next time i'll use some filo dough pastry for the crust. even out of the oven the custard filling was bubbling, but it finally stopped after a few minutes.
once the pastel de nata was properly cooled, i tried one. i was worried the pastry would stick to the tray, but the baking had turn the crust into a hard shell that it simply popped out. the crust was dark, not yet burnt but close. the filling wasn't very good either: the consistency was okay, but it tasted way too sweet, definitely have to pull back on the sugar next time. i still had some mixture left over, which i poured into a ramekin and baked it for 20 minutes to make a custard-filling pudding.
i bought some tortellini from market basket but i wasn't in the mood for a big meal for dinner, so i heated up a box of pizza rolls instead in the oven (was already preheated anyway, didn't want all that heat to go to waste).
later in the evening i took a hot bath. it's been a while, i forgot to add the bubbles, and only realized it later when i was getting out.
after midnight i was hungry again and heated up a cup of korean instant noodles.