Saturday, December 20, 2008
I also found a germinated seed in a lemon. I've decided to try to grow it. Who knows, in five or ten years I could be cooking with Meyer lemons from my very own tree. I imagine it would be very productive, as R's family's tree, the parent of the seed, is always dripping with lemons.
In other cool news, I'm now a published author. To be fair, it is in the family magazine, but still. Here it is.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In typical San Diego fashion, Monday's rain was followed by a very sunny Tuesday, as it can't rain two days in a row here. It poured again today, but it looks to be getting back to normal for our Christmas visitors. However, nature has left a little gift in the mountains - snow! Totally going snowboarding this weekend.
Really, though, it hasn't been all work and contemplating the weather lately. There has been some cooking going on as well. Today I made teriyaki chicken from scratch, which was super easy and much tastier than the stuff from a bottle. I've also cooked up various winter treats, but I'll have to share the recipes later, as I want the treats themselves to remain a surprise.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Now is also the time for picking out Christmas gifts, particularly as we hope to do the majority of our shopping from Amazon. We've been checking out Dr. Seuss books for the nephews, which has been an exercise in nostalgia. R and I both seem to want to give the Dr. Seuss books we read when we were little, which, I suppose, shows the impact of good books on young minds. I could clearly hear my mother reading some of the lines when Are You My Mother? showed up on the search menu, and I couldn't help extending my neck and craning my head to the side the way she would when she read the oft repeated title phrase.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Now that the 90 degree days seem to finally be behind us (knock wood), I've started to plant a few cooler weather plants. I planted two kinds of lettuce, beets, and radishes. I'm really quite excited to get back to gardening.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I suppose you had to be there. It really was quite exciting.
I made a couple of quiches for Thanksgiving (my family, though they are quite capable cooks, has a habit of making inedible food, such as stuffing and things in Jello). I decided to try out a cheddar and black pepper pie crust, but I think it was overwhelmed by the flavor of the rest of the quiche. I think I'll stick with this crust recipe (but without the sugar, as the sweetness was a little odd with a savory quiche).
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
What that means is I will be taking my temperature every morning at the same time before I've gotten out of bed and making a little graph. It will help determine when (and if) I'm ovulating. I've even bought myself a tricked-out thermometer.
Why would I do such a neurotic activity, you ask? Well, as it turns out, the pill messes with your body a bit. It generally takes 1-3 months for one's cycle to get back to normal, but the effects can last for up to a year (this is also why all the people I know who hadn't used the pill prior to trying hit the jackpot right away, while everyone else takes closer to six months, which is the time frame our doctor gave us). For someone who had a cycle you could set your clock to, unreliability is really disconcerting, particularly when you're hoping that the delay means babies. So, in order to make sure everything is working okay, and to give me the impression that I'm actually doing something, I'm joining the temperature charting bandwagon. Yay.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
We decided to play Frisbee golf this morning. The kid in the group behind us was clearly playing his first game, and was very impressed by some of R's drives. He decided R was the Happy Gilmore of Frisbee golf, and started pestering him to make a Happy Gilmore parody movie involving Frisbee golf. Thankfully, he left about midway through the round.
R's mom recently came back from Ireland. As is the case when she visits her homeland, she brings back goodies that can't be easily found in the U.S., usually Tayto crisps and assorted Cadbury candies. During the course of the evening, crisp sandwiches came up as a topic of conversation. R and his family reminisced fondly, while I expressed my disbelief. I clearly am missing something.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The blogging also wasn't helped by the exhaustion I keep feeling in the evenings. Come 10 o'clock, I want to go to bed. Unfortunately, I've been going to an advanced AutoCAD class twice a week for the past three weeks and wind up getting home about 10 pm, which means that Monday and Wednesday are something of a wash. I've been learning all sorts of useful things, but it has been exhausting. It really gives me more respect for my parents, who both went back to school in the evenings to get they bachelor's degrees when my sister and I were little.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Two warnings, though. The recipe doesn't mention when to add the cup of warm water, but if you start mixing the dry ingredients with the milk without having added it, you'll wind up with permanent lumps. Also, adding almond extract to the cream cheese frosting makes the cinnamon rolls reminiscent of bear claws. Next time, I think I will try them with it.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Well, just as an object lesson for the rest of you NaBloPoMoers out there, if you find yourself thinking oh, I'll just post later, you're just lying to yourself.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
I hope I can read them all in time, but I have been doing more reading lately. I read during lunch at the office, as I am all by myself, and two days a week I also have a couple of hours between work and an evening class I'm taking. I'm a lean, mean, reading machine right now.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
What I still don't get, and probably never will, is how gay marriage would make other people's marriages "invalid." It isn't as though people are going down on one knee and saying, "Darling, would you exclude gay people with me for the rest of our lives?"
No, marriage is about love and commitment to one person, and the two people involved (and perhaps god, if you're into that sort of thing) are the only two that matter. My marriage is no less valid if other people's marriages are shams. Shit, plenty of heterosexual marriages fill that slot. Just because some people get married on a whim in Las Vegas, Britney Spears-style, or for money, green cards, or accidental pregnancies, it doesn't mean that my marriage is less well thought out and personally meaningful.
And to all those people who voted for Prop. 8 because they didn't want their kids to learn about gay marriage in school, I ask you: how much does marriage feature in the curriculum currently? Pretty much not at all.
Okay, I think you're all sick of politics now, so I think I'm done with the political posts. Back to the usual tripe!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
No on Prop. 8! Don't put discrimination into our constitution!
That is all.*
* Your own opinion, of course, may vary.
Hopefully, though, I won't be crashing at 10 pm tonight, as I will be attending the first of 6 AutoCAD classes and will be getting home around that time. The class is a follow-up to one I took a few years back which was really helpful and informative. If I'm going to be doing this for a living, I might as well be good at it.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Sometime during my walk to the kitchen, I realized it wasn't Monday.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Now, I'm sure you're wondering what the hell I mean by that statement. "Are you giving out years-old Laffy Taffy?" No, though I doubt time would affect that particular confection. R and I just have this horrible habit of buying candy at Costco. We wind up eating a few pieces and satiating our desire, then are stuck with the rest of the package. Worse still are candy mixes with flavors we don't like. We bought a box of Tootsie Roll Pops and it had all sorts of nasty crap. So what did the kids who came to our house get? Watermelon, blue raspberry, and lemon-lime Tootsie Roll Pops. Oh, and mint patties. We've also got a jug of those.
Apparently Halloween is also my opportunity to be mildly snarky to pre-teens. Particularly the older ones, many of whom don't even bother with costumes. I felt fine giving candy to the teenager who was taking his two little brothers trick or treating, but the same did not apply to the bevy of teenage girls escorting one slightly younger boy. "What are you?" I asked.
"A Power Ranger."
"Ah. So you all must be... his harem?" They giggled awkwardly. I only gave them one piece of candy each, even though I was eager to get rid of the stuff.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A few years back, the warehouse where my office is located used to be the clothing dispensary for the base. Apparently someone hasn't yet realized this fact, as yesterday we had a fairly steady stream of guys with bad haircuts and funny hats coming to our door wondering if they could get dress blues or P.T. clothes.
On the food front, I made a few things that were good, but that I wouldn't make again without alterations. I thought the mapo tofu was delicious and R agrees, but he thinks next time I should leave out the tofu and put in some broccoli instead. Orange olive chicken had two strikes against it in R's book (namely olives and the whole fruit with meat thing), but he found it edible. I think the general technique would be useful for making other dishes with a creamy sauce, possibly over pasta.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Ever since we received an ice cream maker, R has been asking me to make caramel ice cream. Apparently he meant 'ice cream with caramel in it,' but when I finally got around to making the requested ice cream, I took the request at face value and started looking for a recipe for caramel-flavored ice cream. When I didn't find one, I decided to get creative.
Inspired by this recipe's transformation of a jar of Nutella into ice cream, I decided to try combining a batch of caramel (I used the recipe from The Perfect Scoop, but any recipe would probably do) and a can of evaporated milk. The results were amazing. Rich, creamy, and so very caramel-y.
R says next time I should include a caramel ripple.
Caramel Ice Cream
(utilizing the recipe for creamy caramel sauce from The Perfect Scoop)
- 1 c sugar
- 1 1/4 c heavy cream
- 1/4 t coarse salt
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
- 1 can (12 oz or so) evaporated milk
1. In a large, heavy sauce pan or Dutch oven, spread the sugar in an even layer. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring to encourage even cooking. When it starts to stay melted and darken, tilt the pan and continue stirring.
2. When all the sugar is melted and turns caramel-colored, remove from heat and whisk in half the cream. One everything is dissolved, add in salt, vanilla, and the rest of the cream. If any chunks of sugar remain, cook over low heat until they melt.
3. Pour caramel into a bowl. Add evaporated milk, and whisk until incorporated. Refrigerate the mixture until chilled, then use your ice cream maker to freeze it.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tomorrow I go in to fill out paperwork, though I won't see my actual job site until Monday. I'm going to be working at the location of the project, rather than the main office where I interviewed. I have no idea what this job is going to be like. It's a little nerve wracking. I'm not even sure what to wear.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I had a job interview yesterday. I came back from it feeling like I wasn't really what they were looking for, but I recieved an e-mail last night saying that they wanted me. At the end of the interview, they said that there were also other applicants and that they would get back to me. The pessimist in me thinks that there weren't other applicants, but that they had to decide if I was the best they were going to get (as the job posting had already been up for 20 days).
Whatever the reason, though, I got it. I'll be a AutoCAD drafter for a telecommunications company (a slightly redundant title, as CAD stands for 'computer aided drafting'). Just in time, too, as all this staying home was starting to make me slightly loopy.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Playing World of Warcraft.
What else, you may ask?
Not a whole lot else, I tell you.
A new patch for the game came out on Tuesday, and ever since the servers came back up, I've been pretty much glued to my computer. I was planning on making bread on Tuesday, but then 2 pm rolled around, the servers came back up, and I was lost to the world. You see, they've put these achievements into the game, giving you credit for doing all sorts of things. I think it is the slightly anal-retentive side of myself, but part of me finds them irresistible. So, for the past several days, I've been exploring zones, acquiring pets, cooking, fishing, learning first-aid, and running through low-level instances. All in order to see little achievements flash up on the screen.
Hopefully this mania wears off soon. I've got other stuff to do!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Now, I've got a single disclaimer here. This is just the contents of my feed reader. There are certainly many other great blogs out there, but, given that I have limited time, I can't read them all. So, if you're not in here, I still love you, but I'm probably not reading about your exploits regularly.
Currently in my feed reader:
A Teacher's Education
Adventures in Teaching English (and other cute-ish stories)
All or Nothing
Anna in Spain
Bento Corner (Seems to be inactive at the moment.)
Bright Minds (Also seems to be inactive.)
Chocolate & Zucchini
Coconut & Lime
Cooking Cute - a bento site
DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary
Follow That Elephant!
Garfield Minus Garfield
Geninne's Art Blog
I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?
Kuala Lumpur Daily Photo
Life: The Illustrated Education
Life: The Ongoing Education
Living the Good Life
Lunch in a Box
Old Photos of Japan
One Green Generation
Order of the Stick
So... What Else, What Else, What Else?
Soy and Pepper
Stuff White People Like
The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook
The Daily Coyote
The Human Marvels
The Pants Press Sketchblog
Tokyo Girl Down Under
Vera's Particular Sketchblog
Things I look through in my spare moments:
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ("Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip")
A really sweet manga. Downright relaxing to read. It can be found here and here.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Yes, I've discovered the joy that is selling my possessions to other people. I've been (and still will be) dropping off loads at the Good Will stop by my house, but it is nice to get a little money from some of the clutter we've accumulated over the years. It will be nice to only have one fondue pot again.
In cooking news, I made bacon and leek risotto. Nice, but I don't know if it needs to actually go in the cookbook, as, once you get a hang of the basic risotto formula, this is a simple variation.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
In spite of the non-fall temperature, I've been making all sorts of fall foods. Maybe it is to spite the weather, or maybe it is all the delicious fall recipes people have been posting, but I really just want to make warm comfort food right now. I've tried out two different cottage pie recipes (this one was a bit better than that one, but I think I'd add some veggies next time), clam chowder (good, but not rich and creamy like we wanted), and veggie chowder (quite tasty). Now I just need the weather to cool down so that the soup won't make me sweat.
Monday, October 06, 2008
In any case, I tried out a quick version of the much lauded no-knead bread recipe. I think R hopes I will make it every week. (I might even, too, as it was very easy.) The accompanying article states a variety of flours can be used in the bread, which I might take advantage of to use up the various nonstandard flours I have acquired. Got to lighten up the load for the future move.
Speaking of lightening the load, I've been working to purge the house of things we don't use. If anyone wants crutches, a yoga mat (slightly cat-nibbled), or a picnic kit, please feel free.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Now, normally living within flyover distance of an air base isn't actually that big a deal. Occasionally helicopters leave one needing to pause the TV, but it isn't a daily event. During the air show, however, they pull out all the stops and let the screaming jets deafen the locals. Yay. Quite the fun weekend ahead.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I've always wondered how so many people can spend themselves into massive debt. Watching the commercials on daytime TV, however, I think I've found a contributing factor. There is so much useless shit out there designed to solve nonexistent problems and someone must be buying it. I mean, really, cooking pasta is not so much of a momentous challenge that you need a special container for it. Nor is your dog suffering from you clipping its nails (unless you really suck), so forget about the doggy pedicure device.
The really sad thing, though? I'm pretty sure my dad would buy some of this stuff.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Needing to get moving on the whole employment situation, I started looking at substitute teacher applications. However, the thought of returning to the classroom left me anxious, so I applied to some jobs in Washington for Rich (with his approval, of course).
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Now, I'm sure I'm probably not the first person to notice this, but at the end of the ride, when all of the kids of all the nationalities sing together, they're all dressed in white. Only by whitening can everyone come together in peace and harmony. Unsettling, perhaps?
Splash Mountain, though, is the ride with the most palpably creepy dialogue. At the end of the ride, after Brer Rabbit saves himself by tricking Brer Fox into dumping him back into the brier patch he had been trying to escape in the first place, you find Brer Rabbit and the bluebird sitting on the porch of Brer Rabbit's house. Among other things in the sequence of dialogue, the bluebird says (in a very condescending voice), "The brier patch is where you were born, and the brier patch is where you'll stay!" Apparently wanting to explore and move up in life is not a Disney virtue.
... If this is what I think of in Disney World, I think it means I need to get out more. I must have no life.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Anyway, the honeymoon was awesome, but I'm a bit too tired to go into much detail at the moment. Having never been to the southern portion of the country, the cultural differences certainly stood out. Every restaurant and fast food stand seemed to have pulled pork sandwiches. There was plenty of "high, hard hair" (as I have heard it previously described), large bodies, and more tube tops than one should in the course of a year. Everyone seemed to have some sort of accent. Most importantly, everyone was really nice and seemed genuinely friendly. A nice place, though incredibly humid. The camera even fogged up!
(That would be me up there on the balcony, in the pink t-shirt.)
One of our biggest fears when scheduling the honeymoon was hurricanes. Lucky for us, both avoided our area and we only had a couple days of rain to deal with. Of course, thanks to the Internet, one's friends tend to be located in diverse areas, and what seems like a lucky break for you (such as a hurricane not hitting Florida) may not be so lucky for them (the hurricane instead hits Texas). So whether you just missed the hurricane, helped out the evacuees, had to deal with associated weather, or survived the hurricane itself, I'm glad everyone out there seems to be in one piece.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Saturday, September 06, 2008
And here we go!
In case you can't tell, it was really bright up there. Poor R could hardly see anything. I was but I silhouette against a blinding background.
Moment of truth here. Does it fit?
Aww, we're so happy. I really was just overjoyed throughout the wedding. It all felt so right. There was definitely crying from other parties standing up there, but aside from one little choke, I didn't notice.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
- No matter how tasty, I can't eat an entire batch of smoked oyster risotto on my own, and the stuff is just not appealing the next day (or any day thereafter).
- Ice cream and sorbet is always good, even though some people may think otherwise.
- I know I'm not here to talk politics, but I'm somewhat enthused by McCain's choice of running mate. Really, though, I think either candidate would do better than the current president. That guy is just embarrassing.
So, I am intending to set up some post of wedding photos (borrowed from friends) for during the honeymoon. Hopefully that won't fall by the wayside during the packing tomorrow. Wish us luck (that we won't wind up in a hurricane)!
Monday, August 25, 2008
"Hey," I said, "I'm changing my name."
"Alrighty," said they, "have a new card."
In a few days, I'll head down to the DMV to change the name on my driver's license. After that, I get to talk with various other places and get my passport replaced. The whole process really seems so uncoordinated and arbitrary for something so important and routine.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I finally managed to make some pepper jelly that was actually spicy, after a very disappointing first batch made with the recipe from the canning cookbook. Same recipe, but this time I left in some of the seeds, particularly those of the Thai peppers I used. The recipe makes about twice as much jelly as the book claims it should, which means I have all the more to share with slavering friends and family.
Ice cream creation continues unabated. Nutella ice cream met with rave reviews all around, and was even described as "the best thing I've had in a long time" by a friend of mine. Coconut ice cream was found to be delicious by the only coconut lover in the house (me), and recieved a passable review from my husband. Even though I was forced to use sweetened shredded coconut, as none of the supermarkets around me had unsweetened, it still turned out quite nicely.
R, although thrilled by my love of cooking, feels I have a knack for picking recipes that he won't like. Some of my recent trials have given more evidence to said theory. In my quest to use up an open bottle of red wine, I made barlotto with red with and mushrooms, a recipe from that risotto cookbook I am so fond of. R, being un-fond of mushrooms, took a rain check on that one. I also made romesco sauce (conveniently using ingredients I already had in the pantry, particularly a half bag of almonds I didn't know what to do with) and served it with cauliflower steaks. R tried it, but found the bell pepper flavor to be overwhelming, at it is something he isn't fond of. I suppose I will have to take these things into account when cooking for a family, as, without torturing R, I will want him to set a good example for the kids and eat a little of everything. No more portobello paninis then, I guess.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
So, to soothe my bruised ego, I instead set about making some strawberry stracciatella ice cream (very tasty, by the way) and foraged for fruit in my backyard. I had realized the day before that my neighbor's cactus was a prickly pear when I saw that they new lobes it had grown were actually ripening fruit (so I was actually a little excited at this unexpected opportunity to try one that very day).
I ever so carefully plucked the fruit, grasping it with two fingers on the spaces in between the black spots, which are full of tiny spines. Even so, I managed to get a few stuck in my fingers. I took it inside and rubbed it with a paper towel to remove the spines and then washed it.
After cutting off the skin (and making sure there weren't any stickers waiting to stab my tongue) I tried a bite. The fruit had an interesting flavor, like a cross between a papaya and a pumpkin. Unfortunately, it was filled with many small seeds, meaning that each fruit only had a small amount of meat. Definitely a food of desperation.
Additionally, I found myself stabbed by small, near-invisible stickers throughout the rest of the day. As R hilariously kept reminding me, "Don't pick a prickly pear with a paw. When you pick a pear, gotta use the claw!" Yeah, I got it.
The plan for prickly pear jelly has since been scrapped.
Friday, August 15, 2008
I think what bothers me most about this whole situation is that my mom didn't really know my sister and me when we were teenagers. My sister started to live full-time with my dad early in 6th grade (a little before she turned 12). I did the 1-week-at-one-house-1-week-at-the-other thing from 14 to 15.5, after which I started living full-time with my dad. My mom saw us maybe once a month. Less, after she called the police on me for refusing to go to church.
Now, this is all ancient history. When I started this blog, I specifically told myself I wasn't going to use it as a forum to bitch about my mother. Why am I bringing this up now? The answer is simple: kids, specifically my plans to have them shortly. Even though we're so very different, I'm afraid I'm going to turn into my mother. More specifically, I'm afraid my relationship with my kids will be like mine and my mother's. None of this is helped by R's conviction that we're going to have daughters.
This is probably how my dad felt when my mom was trying to convince him to have kids. My dad's blood-father bailed on my grandma when my dad was 3. He had a step-dad from 9 to 19 (his "10 year dad," as he refers to him), but the guy was a traveling salesman who was often gone and was exhausted when he was home. My dad wasn't really sure how one was supposed to act as a father.
In the end, I suppose I will muddle through. My dad certainly did. Instead of repeating my mom's mistakes, I'm sure I will make different ones. There certainly are daughters out there who have good relationships with their mothers. Perhaps I'll do okay.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Red Wine Risotto
from Risotto: With vegetables, seafood, meat, and more by Maxine Clark (recipe slightly condensed, as I am tired)
- about 6 c. hot chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 1 small celery stick, finely chopped
- 3 T. pancetta or prosciutto, finely chopped (optional) (I used bacon)
- 2 1/3 c. risotto rice
- 1 1/4 c. full-bodied red wine
- 1 1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt & pepper
- chopped fresh parsley, to serve
1. Put the broth in a saucepan & keep at a simmer.
2. Melt half the butter in a large saucepan, then add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until transluscent.
3. Add the pancetta & cook for another 2 minutes. (I just added bacon I cooked separately.)
4. Add rice and stir until well coated & heated through.
5. Pour in wine & boil hard until reduced by half.
6. Add broth a ladle at a time, keeping the rice as a simmer & adding more broth before it dries out. Repeat until rice is creamy but still al dente (15-20 minutes).
7. Season with salt & pepper, then mix in Parmesan and remaining butter. Cover and let rest, then serve sprinkled with parsley.
Needless to say, this risotto was pleasant enough that I wanted to share the recipe with you. As R put it, it was not the very best risotto we ever had, but it was still good.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Well, that probably has more to do with my new toy than anything else, as today was rather overcast. This wedding was really my opportunity to pimp out my kitchen. Amongst the other cool swag (new pots and pans, culinary torch, that mixer that everyone else has), I received an ice cream maker.
Having been wanting one of these for a while (and having it residing on my gift registry for the last several months), I had started to collect ice cream recipes to try once I acquired said ice cream maker. The first we tried was the dark chocolate sorbet recipe found on Chocolate & Zucchini (though originally from The Perfect Scoop, which I have since ordered). We could almost stop the explorations into ice cream making at that one recipe. It is so good! Rich chocolate flavor, with little chocolate grains throughout - you'd hardly believe it was an incredibly simple recipe. I bought some nice chocolate for this inaugural run, but I bet it would still be good with standard chocolate chips, meaning it wouldn't even require a special trip to the store. We've pretty much decided that, barring new flavors from Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry's, we're going to be making our own ice cream from now on. Next up: strawberry stracciatella.
Friday, August 08, 2008
I do feel a little jealous that she was partying and getting drunk with my family the night before my bridal shower, but I think I can forgive her. They also love her, so I suppose it is okay that they like to spend time with her whether or not I'm there. At least they took pictures.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Now, don't get me wrong, I think it's going to be great, but just the thought of what is left to be done leaves me pooped.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Well, I may have been so busy with grad school and wedding stuff that I didn't update, but I didn't stop doing the important stuff (namely, watering). Thanks to this continued effort, I've now started to see the payoff. Tomatoes! Peppers! Radishes!
My Thai pepper plant is just dripping with peppers, as you can tell from the photo, but even though the peppers were large they remained green. Finally, they've started to turn red. My bell peppers have started to turn orange, and even my lone poblano chile has taken on a deep green-red hue. I've decided to make some pepper jelly and toss in a few of the Thai peppers, just for added kick.
Even after several failures (dang rabbits. They also ate a bunch of jalapenos), I decided to try planting radishes again. Apparently the planter I planted them in was far enough away from the fence, and the radishes have grown to maturity. I'm pretty sure I've grown the world's cutest radish, but I might be biased.
Just so you know, that tomato is tiny.
I've also planted my centerpieces for my upcoming nuptials. I think they've turned out quite nicely. Plus, one they are finished with that role they will go live in the backyard of a friend of mine (well, I'll probably keep one). Dual purpose!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The last big thing left is finalizing the ceremony. Earlier this evening, R and I chopped out the soppy bits from the sample officiant speech. We've tasked our roommate with figuring out the opening for the ceremony. Something funny, if possible. Poor guy.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Mentally, I think we're feeling the strain. R and I have been having wedding dreams. Something always seems to go wrong.
In R's most recent dream, he and I had gotten the date of the wedding wrong thanks to some quirk of Outlook. Everything was scheduled correctly, the guests arrived, but we weren't ready. We all took a walk on the beach, then decided we would just have to wing the ceremony. As one of our wedding gifts, we were given a tiny box that contained a tiny terrier. It was only a couple of inches long and ran around yapping. R wondered why someone would give us a dog, particularly as we prefer large dogs.
In my most recent dream, way too many people showed up for the wedding. They were jamming people in for the ceremony--it looked like a concert. There were people lining the stairs and people hanging off the nonexistent balcony of the building. I had forgotten my jewelry and my dress was stained and didn't fit right. Finally, the wedding party started walking down the aisle, my sister stumbling in last wearing massively tall shoes and a short white afro wig. I finally walked down the aisle to applause and cheers of "You go, girl!" (For some reason, there were a lot of black people in the crowd, even though I personally don't know many black people.) My roommate then started out the ceremony with an enlightening parable about testicles.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
At the lowest point in the trail, right were R thought to himself "It would really suck to get injured right here," I hit a rock, my foot slipped off the pedal, and the gear wheel sliced open my leg. I got off my bike, took one look at my leg, and sat down to apply direct pressure and wait for R to come back to get me (and bring the first aid kit).
We then had to walk out of the canyon while our roommate raced home to get the car to pick us up. We then spent several hours in the emergency room. Apparently the place was really freaking busy. Anyway, I got two cute little stitches. My first from things other than surgery. I'm so proud!
We've decided that the garter will need to go on the other leg. Glad I have a long dress!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Though these communal birthdays are a thing of the past, something chocolaty seemed like the ideal gift to give my grandfather at tomorrow night's birthday/hooray-for-finishing-grad-school dinner.
Even though I was not very successful with the white chocolate saffron truffles, I decided Maya Gold truffles would be hard to mess up. Having learned my lesson from last time, I didn't boil the chocolate (only the cream), and the truffles firmed up quite nicely!
Unfortunately, my grocery store didn't have Maya Gold chocolate bars, so I had to make due with Spicy Maya. As these bars lack the hint of orange found in the original bars, I peeled a little bit of orange rind and let it infuse its flavor into the cream. Delicious! The only thing I would change would be the fact that I used unsweetened cocoa powder on the outside of the truffles and it is a little more bitter than I would like. Perhaps next time I'll mix in a little sugar. Still, I think my grandpa will love them.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Now, I'm a little slow getting around to things (so much other stuff to do) and this recipe requires an overnight soak for the rice, but I got my act together and made it today. The rice was so good that I wound up spoiling my appetite for dinner a spoonful at a time! So, I did what the recipesmith does and just had a delicious bowl of Thai sticky rice nectarine for dinner.
What? You were expecting some other fruit? Mango, perhaps? Well, that had been the plan, only the mango I had sitting above the fridge, though it smelled delicious, was brown and odd inside and clearly not fit for human consumption. I'm not very good at ripening mangoes at home. I always leave them for too long. Luckily the nectarines I picked from R's family's backyard on Sunday were also delicious with the sticky rice.
In other happy news, I had my last day of summer classes today and finished up the paper for my masters project. All I have left is to present it on Friday, and then I'm all done. I can't believe it!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Also, much to my delight, I got to try out a recipe R would probably object to: peanut sesame noodles. Any sort of peanut-flavored dish just reminds him of peanut butter, though this one is so savory and delicious and filled with other flavors that the peanut flavor is not overwhelming. I've actually been tasting the leftover sauce all evening, it is so good. I can't wait to try it with soba noodles (I used somen, like in the picture, which was also delicious). Make this recipe!
Well, as long as you aren't allergic to peanuts.
Friday, July 11, 2008
- Figure out music for ceremony
- Finalize music for reception
- Make time line/schedule for the event
- Get dress hemmed and bustled and buttons sewn on top section (has to wait until my petticoat arrives)
- Get R fitted for his tux (should be happening this weekend)
- Get a haircut
- Give R a haircut (2 weeks out)
- Figure out how to decorate patio for ceremony (Do I want an aisle runner?)
- Paint little containers for favor/seating assignment plants
- Buy plants and plant centerpieces and favors (not until closer to the date, so I don't have to water them for too long)
- Buy parakeet grit to cover soil in centerpieces
- Make bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages (day before)
- Find stockings
- Figure out the jewelry situation
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Sunday, July 06, 2008
On the 5th of July, part of my evening was spent making chocolate risotto. I'd purchased the ingredients a while back, intending to make it for my mother's visit, but due to laziness and a bit of skepticism on R's part, I'd put it off until now. The results, however, converted the two of us into true believers. Chocolate risotto is delicious! A new classic!
Perhaps due to my cooking it a little hotter than recommended, or maybe my rice wasn't quite the same, my risotto turned out a bit runnier than the one in the picture on the original website. Next time, I think I will add a little more rice. Still, it's a keeper!
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Blog Response #3: What is your 2020 Education Vision?
Looking into the near future, I think the event that will have the most significant event on the whole compulsory education complex will be the retirement of the baby boomer teachers. Looking at the teachers I know from that generation, specifically my mom and step-mom, I can tell they are definitely excited at the prospect, no matter how much they love teaching.
After the baby boomers retire, schools find themselves missing a large chunk of their returning teachers. New teachers will come into the profession, much as they have, but continued high rates of attrition (made worse by the retirement of mentor teachers and school leaders) will lead to teacher shortages. I imagine that 2020 will probably be a turning point for education, though the field will go in one of two opposing directions.
The first direction, the ideal one, would be for schools to reduce teacher hours and institute formal mentoring programs. During an extra free period, novice teachers would meet with more experienced colleagues for advice, planning tips, and even (hopefully) to share materials. By giving teachers a little more time to plan, network, grade, and contact parents, attrition rates will decrease. School curricula will be refined, while at the same time becoming more inventive, thanks again to the increased planning time.
The second direction, the non-ideal but more probable one, is that the prerequisites for going into teaching will be lowered in an attempt to shovel more bodies into classrooms as fast as possible. The constant influx of new inexperienced teachers will hinder any attempt to institute school programs and policies, as participants will change from year to year. Staff development will also suffer, as many new teachers leave prior to or immediately after completing induction. In an attempt to counteract the inexperience of the majority of the teaching staff, more schools will adopt prescribed curricula, decreasing educational flexibility and experimentation.
Wow, that was depressing. Time for a gratuitous cat picture!
moar funny pictures
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
How do I know this? Simple. Who is it that I get chain e-mails from? My middle school students and my mom.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
In any case, here was the menu last Sunday:
- Caramelized spicy peanuts
- Garlic brandy shrimp
- Caramelized onion and leek tart
- Pasta with butter, Parmesan cheese, and pepper
The meal was a smashing success. I really can't recommend the shrimp recipe highly enough. Simple, fast, and completely delicious. Everyone loved it. R was quite jealous that I got to eat what little was left over, so you can tell this recipe will be made again in the near future.
The tart (inspired by this recipe) was good, but I think it could have been better. I caramelized the onions and leeks, spread them on a sheet of puff pasty, grated a little cheese on them, then baked (no fennel seeds for us, thank you). The sides of the pasty wound up puffing up, but the onion-covered parts did not. Next time, I think I'll bake the pastry on its own for a bit before adding the onions, just to give it a little more volume. Still, quite a successful evening.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Our assignment is to talk about our digital story ideas, the culmination of which will be appearing on TeacherTube later next month for your viewing pleasure. Here is what I have so far.
In a final aside, I never realized how much cool stuff is available for free on iTunes. The iTunes U section of the store is full of edifying podcasts and I have completely fallen in love with it. I spent my workout today listening to a lecture/interview about Islam and the West from Open University and have downloaded a whole series of podcasts to brush up on my Spanish.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Seeing as my mom has come for a visit this weekend, I've been trying out all sorts of new recipes (as well as pulling out the old favorites) so that I can finally convince the woman that I know how to cook. Apparently she needed to see it to believe it.
Anyway, I decided to try out these interesting looking truffles in honor of her visit. Fortunately I had gotten a large jar of saffron at CostCo for a very reasonable price a few years back, as otherwise this recipe would be quite expensive. As I was trying to measure out the necessary half gram of saffron (don't let that comma fool you), I found out that my scale can't measure a half gram of anything. How inconvenient! So, I would up using a large pinch of saffron. I also managed to screw up the order of the recipe by throwing everything in the saucepan instead of just heating the cream and other ingredients and then adding them to a separate bowl of chocolate, which resulted in a longer cooling time and a softer texture. In the end, though, it was the taste that did this recipe in for me. Maybe I put in too much saffron, maybe the saffron should have been ground instead of left as threads, or maybe it is just that I'm not the biggest fan of white chocolate, but I didn't really care for them (this being said, I'm still looking forward to trying the same woman's recipe for maya gold truffles).
They are, however, very tasty in muffin form. Inspired by these Cadbury Creme Egg muffins, I decided to make some saffron white chocolate truffle muffins of my own. I added a little bit of melted truffle to the batter and then placed chunks of truffle in the uncooked muffins, but I think it would still be pretty tasty if you only added melted truffle to the batter.
Saffron White Chocolate Truffle Oatmeal Muffins
Oatmeal muffin recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book
- 1 1/3 c flour
- 3/4 c rolled oats
- 1/3 c sugar
- 2 t baking powder
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 beaten egg
- 3/4 c milk
- 1/4 c cooking oil
- saffron white chocolate truffles
1. Preheat oven to 400* F. Grease twelve muffin cups or use paper baking cups. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In another bowl combine egg, milk, and cooking oil. Add liquid ingredients all at once to dry ingredients and stir until moist. Melt a truffle or two in the microwave and mix resulting liquid into muffins.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Place marble-sized piece of truffle into each muffin cup. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool muffins on a wire rack and serve warm.
Monday, June 16, 2008
My other story is more of the heartwarming sort. One of my sixth grade advisory students received a number of awards at our end of the year ceremony. When we had adjourned out back to feast on watermelon, I went over to congratulate her. Our conversation went something like this:
Sunday, June 15, 2008
As a last-minute Father's Day gift, I wound up making some caramelized spicy peanuts this morning for my dad and grandpa. This was after making a batch of caramelized spicy sunflower seeds and finding them completely irresistible. They're not hard to make and watching the sugar transform in a flash from liquid to sandy solid and then caramelize is really cool. Now that I know how to give nuts crunchy sugar coating, I'm enthralled by the possibilities of what else I could dust them with afterwards. Chocolate? Bacon salt? Ginger powder? The possibilities are endless.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The first day of school is still fresh in my mind, with the terror and the wondering how I would make it through the year, yet here we are. It seems like so little time has passed, probably because the beginning and ending are so clearly demarcated in time, but I suppose a lot has happened. I've moved from being nervous and sweaty to confident and apathetic. I know I can do this now. I also know I don't want to do this for a living.
I left the school positively giddy. My last day of teaching is over! Tomorrow is just supervising yearbook signing for the sixth graders! I'll likely never see any of the ninth graders ever again! Sure, I still will have to go to work Friday and Monday to close up shop, but no more students!
During my afternoon bike ride, however, I found myself not being able to breathe quite right and being (quite irrationally) annoyed at R because he could ride faster than I could. I wasn't really mad at him, but my throat was feeling all tight and painful, as were my tear ducts...
Yes, apparently I was more affected by the end of school than I had initially realized. A few of my students really were quite interesting people, and when you spend every day with a group of people for nine months it is somewhat natural to get attached. I think a few of them are even going to miss me too. I had several conversations along the lines of:
"Bye! See you next year!"
"Uh, no you won't. I'm moving. It's been fun. Have a nice life."
At which point in time I received several hugs. Somehow, though, I don't think they'll miss me quite as much as I'll miss them. I suppose this is what keeps people in teaching.
Still don't want to do it again, though.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Of course, this is just the first week without evening classes and also the last week of school, so I could just be feeling giddy. Anyway, I decided it was time to harvest some of the apples from my lovely apple tree and make applesauce. I love applesauce and I also hate to see things go to waste, even bird-pecked apples. Given that my garden appears to be feeding all of the local wildlife, it is really no surprise that the majority of the apples have a few divots taken out of them, if not large chunks.
The recipe I used was from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving I recently bought, along with some tools to keep me from dropping jars of jam into boiling water and scalding myself. I'll tell you now, the can lifter they have make canning much less frightening than it was when I was using my standard-issue tongs. I'm also glad the whole thing is no longer a two-man operation.
This is the first recipe I have tried out of this book, though I have bookmarked a few others. There are definitely some odd ones (the page opposite applesauce has a recipe for "strawberry smooch," whatever the hell that is), but it seems to have enough good recipes and tips to make it worth the money. Makes a darn tasty applesauce.
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about 4 quarts (I got 6, but I think I like a thinner applesauce)
- 12 lbs. apples, peeled (or not, if you're planning on using a food mill like I did), cored, quartered, treated to prevent browning, and drained
- 3 c. granulated sugar (optional) (I wound up using 1 c. to take the edge off, as a few of the apples I picked were still a little green)
- 4 T lemon juice
- cinnamon (optional)
2. In a large saucepan (more like a vat), combine apples with just enough water to keep them from sticking. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5-20 minutes, until the apples are tender (time will depend on the variety of apple and their maturity). Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
3. Working in batches, transfer apples to a food mill or food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth. (After all the apples were out of the water, I reserved ~ 4 c. and poured the rest out.)
4. Return apple puree to saucepan. Add sugar, if using, and lemon juice; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking (you can also add some of the reserved apple-water to loosen things up). Maintain a gentle boil over low heat while filling jars.
5. Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 in. headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot applesauce. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
6. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Way back on Memorial Day weekend, R and I were invited to a barbecue. Aside from bringing meat, I knew the one thing people my age want but always forget to bring is salad or some sort of vegetable. Perhaps it is because our parents always brought some sort of odd salad to potlucks, but the people I know rarely think of anything other than main dishes and desserts. In any case, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to whip up a quinoa salad that I had been planning on making that week anyway.
As I don't care much for green peppers, I substituted red ones and seasoned the water used to cook the quinoa, but other than that left the recipe pretty much as it. It turned out quite nicely (and I have several other people to back me up on that), and made a large number of portions which I was able to eat throughout the week.
The other recipe I tried recently was blue cheese mac & cheese, which was, as you might guess, totally awesome. As long as you like blue cheese, that is. We're thinking that next time we might add in some bacon, just for extra awesome.