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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Eclairs



This is my first Daring Bakers Challenge. I was excited to find out it was eclairs, because 1. I like them, 2. I can make pate a choux in my sleep, 3. I'd never made eclairs before. We used Pierre Herme's recipe for chocolate eclairs from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme and the challenge was set up so that we had to use the choux recipe exactly as written, and use either the exact same chocolate pastry cream filling or the exact chocolate glaze.

Well, I knew right off that I wanted to use raspberries in mine, and the logical place to put them was the filling, so I made a raspberry puree, added a couple teaspoons of Chambord and sweetened it.



Then, I added most of it to the chocolate pastry cream. I added a little extra chocolate to the pastry cream as well, to try to thicken it a little since I knew the raspberry sauce would thin it. I think I needed either a lot more chocolate or a little less raspberry. It wouldn't hold its shape nicely when I piped it into the eclairs.



Proof that you don't need a chinois. I used a sieve and a wooden spoon to make the puree.



See how red those raspberries are:



The recipe had a lot of fiddly steps, and there are a lot of things I would do differently if/when I make these again. The pate a choux was far too eggy for my taste. I would cut the five eggs to three whole eggs and two egg whites. I would also use bread flour to try to keep them crisp longer.

One sheet of my shells deflated instantaneously when I opened the oven. They still worked for the recipe, but they didn't look as nice. The baking instructions for these had you vent the oven part way through, and other people said they had better results skipping that, and then letting them cool all the way in the oven with the door open and the racks partly pulled out. Some said that piercing the eclair shells immediately to allow steam to escape also helped.

Also, although the glaze was lovely and dark, bittersweet chocolate, it didn't really taste different than any other ganache would, so I would skip the separate chocolate sauce recipe and addition, and just use a good ganache.

The pastry cream was wonderful, though, and except for the issues I brought on myself, I wouldn't change it at all. I kept spooning it into my mouth, and there was a ton of it left over. The recipe said it would make between 20 and 24 eclairs, and I found that I could squeeze about 18 out of the dough, there was just enough glaze and about twice as much pastry cream as necessary.

I used them as Jerome's birthday dessert, and everyone loved them.



We made up for the egginess by piling on the pastry cream.



I couldn't post about them earlier, because I couldn't give away the surprise. Overall, I enjoyed making these. I liked the challenge of following the rules and coming up with my own interpretation to these at the same time. Thank you Tony and Meeta for this month's challenge. I look forward to trying next month's.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Finished Object Friday: Better Late than Never

My finished item won't be shared until tomorrow, so keep your eyes open.

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Poor Richard (No Almanac)

Please pray for Rich. He had a 20 hour work day yesterday (started at around 6:00 a.m. and worked until 3:15 a.m., with a "lunch" break to shower at home), and this was after a 14 hour work day the day before. Tonight we should be back to normal, because the deadline for the projects he's been working on was this afternoon, and he's finished. It's been hard on him, though, between the work stress, the lack of sleep and trying to take care of Yasmina when he's home and spend time with me, and actually see his children.

Our relationship was mostly IM and phone calls over the last couple days, because one of his projects with the deadline today was given to him Monday. The children and I actually would go up to his office to visit with him, so he could say hi to the children, and talk to them a little bit. He works two minutes from our house. The last week and a half have been even busier for him in his regular duties anyway, because he no longer has an assistant, and the new guy doesn't start until Tuesday, so he's been doing all the budget, monthly report, paperwork, leases, coordinating stuff on the field, plus all the maintenance on his own. On top of that, this has been moron week.

Saturday, while we were getting cleaned up after breakfast, Alexander knocked on our bathroom door to tell us there was someone at the door with an airplane emergency. Rich jumped out of the shower, dried off quickly and threw on some clothes to get to work. I showered and when I got out, he was back home. This is not normal if there is an emergency. He came in telling me how angry he was.

One of the line guys from an FBO here had a customer come in looking for his plane which was being worked on in the avionics shop. The avionics guy wasn't there and the hangar was locked. So, they called Rich. The airport office is closed on weekends and holidays, but Rich always has his cell phone and pager on for real emergencies. He has learned only to answer after hours when it is the FAA, the tower or if it is someone he has scheduled with, since most of the time it is people who can't be bothered to remember the gate codes, or want to chat about contracts that should be done during the week. This reduces his after work junk, since most people don't leave a message when it is something stupid, and he can screen out the work week things until the next work day, and if it is something that does need to be dealt with that day, he can tend to it once he's heard the message. He checks his messages from the pager as soon as he gets them, and he checks his messages on his cell phone a million times a day.

When the line guy didn't get an immediate answer, he sent the customer to our house! Rich runs out expecting a plane down, only to find that it was a doctor who wanted to get his plane. He said the avionics people told him it would be ready for him to fly (as in fixed and on the ramp) on Saturday (turns out they said no such thing), and he told my son that it was an emergency. He told Rich he was a doctor and needed to get to an appointment in Bend. Well, it turns out that those two facts were true, but not related. He was going to an investment meeting. Rich asked Alexander if the man actually used the word emergency, and he said he did. Also, the instruments were still out of the plane, so he couldn't go anyway.

So, Rich reamed out the line guy, and sent an e-mail to every business owner on the field reiterating that nobody was to come down to our house without invitation unless there was an actual emergency (which he clarified and defined for them, making reference to airport employees who do dangerous illegal things on the field because this same FBO still has in their employ someone who did such a thing last year), asking them to respect our privacy. He said that one of the recipients would know why this was being sent and the others could guess. This is also the same FBO whose owner complains to Rich about the snow when it is snowing, and asks Rich what he's going to do about it. Evidently, Rich has the power to change the weather. Would that it were so. We'd have far more 70 degree sunny days, I can tell you that.

I'm thinking of dropping off the children in their lobby later, so I can get some errands run while they watch the kids. We've had people come by our home for work reasons that are not emergencies before, usually evenings, some Saturdays, and I am always tempted to ask where they live so we can go have a picnic in their yard, use their things or ask them for babysitting. I have never understood why these people think it's okay to show up uninvited and unannounced to our house to deal with work things that should be dealt with during work hours. I have never tried to go to a store manager's home to ask about the store even when I knew where he lived.

That was Saturday. A little before 6:00 a.m. yesterday, Rich gets a call from one of the employees of another FBO on the field. He can't get into the field because of this SUV which is still blocking the tower gate, which is the main gate. Rich went down to see what the deal was and why it was still there, and asked around and found out the FAA had been blocked entrance by this same vehicle. Oh, and there were rows and rows of parking less than 10 feet from the gate. The security people had taken the license plate number of the car and the end number off the jet when they came through at around 2:15. So, he tried to contact the people who run the jet that was on the ramp, he had assumed it was the company people's car, the folks who sit in the back. Nobody answered, there was nobody around the jet, so he called to have the vehicle towed at around 6:30.

A couple hours later, he gets a call from someone claiming to be a part of the crew from the plane. He's angry because his car's been towed. Rich told him what had happened and asked him why he didn't simply park the car. The guy gets belligerent and says they were in a hurry and they were right there in the jet, so why didn't anyone talk to them. Rich asked him where he was based, and had he ever been at any airport anywhere where it was okay to block a gate, let alone the main gate. He told him that another manager would have towed it after 15 minutes, not four and a half hours. He also told this guy that they hadn't been able to get a hold of any of the crew or the bosses, and there were lots of people around who tried, and who were certainly making enough noise to get their attention (Rich suspects they slept in the jet). Then, he tells Rich that he's going to be out a couple hundred dollars because of Rich. To which Rich responded that no, he was out a couple hundred dollars because he couldn't be bothered to park his vehicle in one of the many parking spots less than 10 feet away from the gate.

So, the guy asks him what he should do. Rich told him the name of the towing company, and said he could get their number off the fence in front of one of those nearby parking spots and to work out with them what needs to be done. 20 minutes later, Rich gets a phone call from the towing company. They are calling to make sure this guy is lying and that Rich hasn't just lost his mind. The fellow called them, this time he said he was part of the maintenance crew, and said that Rich told them to bring the car back. It was a stupid lie, really. Didn't he know that they would call to check? Anyway, he told them to charge as much as they wanted to give him his car back, and had to call the jet's company headquarters to have it sorted out and make sure this never happened again. Then, he got to get back to the regular daily work and budget stuff and monthly reports and a construction revision that was handed to him.

We're waiting for more stupid aggressive dog walkers to show up, someone to land gear up and for people to start harvesting from our garden this week. I'll be standing guard with a shovel.

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Works for Me Wednesday: Keeping Hydrated



We all know how we're supposed to drink enough water, and more when it's hot. It's good for your body, it's good for your skin, and it helps you lose weight. The only way I like to drink water is arctic cold.

The way I make sure I get enough water to drink is to take old individual juice bottles, wash them in the dishwasher and fill them about a quarter to a third of the way with water, seal them and freeze them. I just grab a bottle, fill it with water, and I have nice cold water. I refill it until the ice completely melts. Then, I grab another one.

If you want to avoid the poisonous Chinese plastic, you can use glass bottles just as easily, but it's even more important to fill them only part way, otherwise you can end up with exploded bottles in your freezer.

As an added bonus, having these ice bottles in the freezer helps it to work more efficiently.

Having ice cold water readily accessible works for me!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Harissa

I thought I would post with a recipe of this quintessential Arabic condiment. There are all sorts of Mexican hot sauces on the market, Thai and Vietnamese hot sauces are readily available as well, but it's hard to find Middle Eastern hot. I hadn't made it since the Easter before last, and when I made it this weekend, I wondered why. It is quick, easy, and really belongs in the refrigerator at all times.

So, here I offer my recipe. Please understand that except for the whole items (i.e. the chiles and the lemon), all the numbers below are completely made up. I put in what looks good to me and fiddle with it until it tastes and looks right.

20 small, dried red chiles
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted cumin seed
1 tablespoon toasted coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne powder
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil

Soak the chiles in hot water for about an hour. Get all the other ingredients ready while they soak. Pour off the water and set aside.

Traditionally, you'd use a mortar and pestle and grind the garlic with the salt to make a paste, then add the drained peppers, the spices, grind those down and add the lemon juice to make into a slurry, then drizzle the oil into your mix and grind the whole thing into a thin paste.

I dump the whole mess (not the water, drain the peppers) into the blender and whir it up until everything is a nice liquid. Also, if you don't have time to toast the seeds, it will still be nice, but not as good. If you are out of the seeds, add what looks like the right amount of the powder. Not the best option, but it will still taste good. So, your best option is the toasted seeds, then the seeds untoasted, then the powder.

Serve this with meat, falafel, ful mudammas, stuffed grape leaves (waraq ounab), on warm pita bread or with a spoon. It has a kick to it, but it isn't just hot, there is a great flavor there. We like hot food here, but we are no chileheads. If it's so hot it burns your taste buds off, what's the point?

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Monday, August 25, 2008

I'd Like to Thank My Parents...

and of course all my fans, because without you, I'd be nothing. This is for you Arabian Knits readers!

Seriously. I was given an award. Somehow I didn't realize it until just a couple days ago, and then I forgot to post about it. Because that's the quality consistent blogging you've come to expect from me. Anyway.

Grace from Lovin Comfort Knits gave this:



to me. Neat, huh? I get to put a button in my sidebar if I want to and everything. This is intended to be done in fun, so I'm treating it as an opportunity to share my favorite blogs of the moment. I'm also going to focus on blogs that I don't think are as generally famous as some are (though a couple of them are, but they are hilarious).

These are the rules:
1) Paste the award logo onto your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who nominated you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs (this is where it gets difficult - I may be adding more later).
4) Put links to your nominees.
5) Leave a message to your nominees about the award.

So, without further ado, in no particular order, here are my nominees:

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Menu Plan Monday: August 25 (with Reviews)



I finally made the Crockpot Indonesian Chicken I did it as written, except we were out of peanut butter, so I used almond butter, added red pepper flakes, the juice of a lime and sesame seeds. It did need some sugar, perhaps because we, too used natural nut butters with no sugar added, so I added about two tablespoons of brown sugar, and would add a quarter cup next time. It was delicious, but so salty! I think I would add a little more liquid in the form of chicken broth as well, just to keep the sauce from thickening too much, but that might be because of how quickly it cooked. On low, mine cooked in less than five hours, and that was with starting the chicken from frozen. So, watch your pot.

Also, the Crockpot Gyros? Complete winner. We used half beef and half lamb. This is the third recipe I've used from this blog (each time I've changed them a little, but the spine has been good on all of them), and we've enjoyed all three. I was worried that making the gyro meat in a crockpot would taste steamed and not like the stuff we get at the $2.99 gyros joint in University Place (which is really good, but nothing else there is good, only get the gyros), but it was just about perfect. We definitely beat $2.99 a piece, too, and we made a ton. I made sure to cook it on high, since in my experience cooking meat on high in the crock makes it firmer than cooking on low. However, because I made about three times as much as she did, it ended up taking a little longer to be cooked all the way through, probably another hour, so keep that in mind if you make a larger portion. I added about two teaspoons of salt to the meat, also (for three and a half pounds). I made my laban bi chiyar, rather than her recipe for the tzatziki (do I look Greek?), and I took the opportunity to make harissa, because I've been craving it and this was a good excuse to make some. We rounded it out with lettuce, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese and we used the onions and garlic from the crock in it, too. Everyone loved this.

Since we found these

at our local market for an incredible deal, we scrapped our dinner plans Friday and made these little water bugs, with blanched broccoli raab and garlic cooked in good olive oil, served over pasta with shavings of parmesan cheese, a salad on the side and marionberries and cream for dessert. It was so good. It isn't every day that you find jumbo fresh water prawns. With the heads. And legs. And claws. For less than $9 a pound. It was a splurge, and I only picked up eight of them, but it was a nice addition to our dinner. They turned bright pink and the blue legs/claws turned dark red when we cooked them. We ate them like mini-lobsters.

I also found out that their regular price for local, live mussels was really inexpensive. It is nice having a real local market. They know us, everyone there is cheerful, smiles at you, jumps in to help out, they are trained extraordinarily well. They know about their products, they have tons of samples, because their products are high quality and sell themselves and they are willing to get things for us that they don't have. Also, the produce guy told me when the best time was to come to pick up the discarded greens to feed our poultry. Their prices do tend to be higher, though not always, but so is the quality, and if you shop judiciously, you can still keep a good budget. Since they select locally grown/raised/produced as much as possible, we do try to get those things as much as we can afford. If you live around the Peninsula area, e-mail me and I'll tell you how to get there. If it requires crossing the bridge, you're probably better off going to Metropolitan Market so you don't have to pay the toll.

Since we had lots of leftovers last week, and with our menu change Friday, I've put some repeats on this week.

What is on your menu this week?

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympic Apathy

I'd like to say that we've been boycotting the Olympics because of principle. That I didn't want to watch a competition which celebrates individual achievement in a socialist nation. That we disagreed with participating in an international event in a tyrannical, communist, dictatorial regime, what with the forced labor, the forced abortions and the family planning enforcers, with the people who brought us Tianamen Square and Chairman Mao.

The reality is that we are bored by them. Over the past 20 years, they have become less and less interesting. There have been more events added that aren't really worth it, in our opinions, and then there's the whole thing of this being an amateurs' competition, but then allowing professional athletes on some team sports. That's not even touching the ridiculous scandals.

We barely even registered the Olympics this year. Have you been keeping up with the Olympics?

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Boys. Beautiful.

Blurry.



Took this picture at the library yesterday, but I was holding Yasmina with the other hand, so the shot was really shaky. I wanted to get a picture of them with short hair, though.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Bacon What?


I found this at our local market the other day. Bacon Salt. Bacon salt? It is, apparently, bacon flavored salt. It comes in three flavors.

Here is the perplexing part: It is vegetarian and, AND certified kosher. What?! Why would a vegetarian want bacon flavored food? Why would someone who keeps kosher get bacon flavored food? Rich suggested it might be for converts.

I will admit to buying flavored salts and fancy salt. We love the Salish Alder Smoked Salt we get from Artisan Salt Co. (we get it at the grocery store). Fleur de sel makes me swoon. We use sea salt and kosher salt for our everyday use. We have za'atar, celery salt and even that generic seasoned salt which we buy solely for making Chex mix.

But, bacon salt? I'm not sure about that, and I am a huge bacon fan. I looked on their website, and in our small town alone, there are four stores that carry their products. Down south near you, Rachelle, there are five stores that carry it, just in case you're dying to get your hands on some. Being vegetarian and all.

So, has anyone out there tried it? Is it good? Is it as good as bacon? I'm dying to know.

Okay, I just read their story. That part is pretty cool. They also seem to have a pretty good sense of humor about themselves and their product. I also found that they hail from our area.

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Finished Object Friday: August 22

I actuallyhave completed something this week, but it is a surprise, so I can't post about it. I'll be able to do so in a week or so, though.

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Breaking A Rule

I am breaking one of my rules about discussing politics on this blog. If you know you have a huge disagreement with me about politics, it may be best for you to go look at posts about cooking or our family or knitting or some other blog right now and return when I'm not talking politics anymore. Also, re-read my disclaimer above.

I have been watching the interviews from the Saddleback Forum, and reading (and re-reading) the transcripts to try to get an understanding for what was said without being influenced by body language and facial expressions. And can I just say right off the bat that Rick Warren sounds like he's campaigning to be the presidential pastor?

Obama says that he is convinced that there is a moral element to the abortion issue and debate. Wow. I'm assuming he also is convinced that the sky is blue, water is wet and fire is hot. I'm sure there are people who found this to be a profound statement and a deep concession to the opposing side, but it was simply a general stating of the obvious, regardless of which side one takes.

He also repeated the trope that abortion has gone up during the Bush administration. This is demonstrably false. The Guttmacher Institute's own findings (the research arm of PP) are what show that the abortion rate is dropping.

He says that he wishes to reduce abortions and has added that goal to his party's platform, yet he is the only Democrat who voted against a Born Alive Act. I believe he is the only senator period who voted against it. He has lied about that, and now his own campaign is admitting that they put out incorrect information, but they are still focusing on how others are pointing out his record and how mean and unfair that is, rather than the fact that he has tried to hide his record, lied about his vote and the wording of the bill he voted against and the laws of Illinois at the time. He accused the NRLC of lying about him when they presented his voting record. He owes them an apology. Regardless of one's views on abortion, an infant born alive after an abortion attempt surely counts as a person according to the law and common sense. He, in fact, voted to protect an infanticide that is recognized as such by people on both sides of the issue, yet, he is the one insulted? Even Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi voted for the Born Alive Act in the senate. Even NARAL did not object to these bills!

I imagine for a lot of the people watching, hearing that there have been over 40 million abortions since Roe v Wade was a shock. Considering that number doesn't include any multiples (ie, if there are more than one in the uterus, it is still considered one abortion), or selective reductions, that number is not high enough to be accurate. His statement that he thinks America's biggest moral failure is not living up to Matthew's teaching [sic] (it was Jesus' teaching, actually, but nice job looking up a bible verse online) of doing unto the least of these as we do unto the Lord does not square with his aggressive commitment to the sacrament of abortion. He has consistently had NARAL's 100% rating for his voting record. Apparently, there are some least of these who aren't as least as others.

edited to add: Now there's the issue of his half brother in Kenya(in case you don't like/trust the other source). Another least of these that doesn't count, I guess. Apparently, we are supposed to help the least of these, unless they happen to be related to us and require us sacrificing our own money. Why is it that those most likely to ask us to dig deep into our pockets for higher taxes to help the poor almost always seem so reluctant to do anything themselves to help the poor in their midst, personally? If he didn't speak out on the importance of everyone spending more to help others, it would really be his own account (and between him and his God) whether he helped his half brother or not, but we're supposed to shell out for all sorts of questionable results programs while he doesn't even get held accountable for not helping a family member. Unbelievable. And please spare me the Cindy McCain argument, her sister was being raised in a middle class home, this is less than $1 a month folks, in a shanty, and Obama is the one campaigning on how much we should help the poor. They have met before, twice, once two years ago, and Barack Obama does not deny that this is his half-brother. I'm beginning to think that his greatest moral failing as a nation answer was a confession.

It turns out that both the candidates knew what the first two questions were going to be, and that Obama actually was given one more question (the one about an emergency plan for orphans) ahead of time than McCain was (the Saddleback people never got to tell McCain about that one) and both were given the broad themes of the interview. It seems bizarre to me that Obama wasn't able to answer these questions better. Surely, especially in a forum taking place in a church, he would know what to expect in terms of social policy and moral issue questions? He seemed ill prepared for those. Does that mean there is nobody in his entire campaign who thought to vet those issues? The McCain people basically said there wasn't much there that they didn't expect, and that they had actually prepared him for a few more issues than were touched on in the forum. (Incidentally, I think the question about which justices they wouldn't have nominated was an unfair question, though Obama's saying that Justice Thomas didn't have enough experience shows an intense amount of chutzpah, given his own level of political experience. Also, the no repercussions questions was dumb, because, obviously this was not the case.)

So now the Obama camp and his supporters are trying to accuse McCain of cheating. This is becoming kind of a standard operating procedure for when liberals don't get the outcome they like. There is much less evidence of McCain cheating than there was for the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Hmmm. As for the cross in the dirt story, there is evidence from other POWs that this is what happened, and that McCain told them about it long ago. Evidently, Chuck Colson has a similar story. Are we to believe that he also is now being accused of cribbing from the Gulag Archipelago? And this is supposed to discredit McCain. The people who are saying that are showing, yet again, a great lack of knowledge about Christian symbolism. The cross, that is the major sign for Christianity. The reason there are so many similar stories has more to do with that, than any plagiarism. Just like in the early Roman persecution, Christians made the symbol of the fish in the dirt to let people know they were Christians/where the next church meeting was to be/etc. That there were so many incidents of it wasn't because all the persecuted church was just making up stories. That people are using this to discredit McCain shows that they cannot find anything else with which to discredit him.

I just don't buy the newfound religiosity of the left. Obama's references to religion and faith seem like he looked up "how to speak like an evangelical" on google. His pastor, who he has chosen to be under for over 20 years, who he has spoken of as a moral model and spiritual advisor, who speaks publicly and politically, seems to spend more time on politics than on the gospel. Please don't get me wrong, I don't mean that he has no right to speak about politics, but when his sermons are stump speeches, and hateful ones at that, it makes me question his knowledge of the scriptures and church history. He doesn't speak about political principles one can find in scripture, he speaks about politics, period. And a particularly bizarre version of it. Yet this is who Obama chooses to look to for spiritual guidance. The denomination itself is moving further and further from orthodox Christianity toward universalism and secularism. It certainly has the right to do that, but to represent it as traditional Christianity and Christian thought is misleading at best.

So, frankly, I don't believe Obama's religious talk, anymore than I believed either Clinton's rediscovering the faith of their youths when their ratings got low, or Howard Dean's sincerity and depth of faith when he said that his favorite book in the New Testament [sic] (it's in the Old Testament) was Job, but that there was a difference of opinion about the ending - he seemed to think was punitive rather than redemptive. They try to sound like they have deep faith and knowledge of faith, but instead sound phony. I am more likely to trust a person's faith (regardless of religion) is sincere even if he has failed or is deeply misguided, if he at least knows the basics without stumbling or relying on cliched religious speak, even when I disagree with the conclusions he may draw. This isn't about a difference between private faith and wearing it on one's sleeve, this is basic 101 knowledge and understanding. It's elementary level, not graduate work. Nobody is asking any candidate to be a theologian. The verse from Micah Obama referenced is a good one, but walking humbly with our God means that we submit to His rule, not find a way to make our rules His. A priest I know says that a text without context is a pretext, and that is what I see from the social left (to distinguish them from the people who are further left with regards to fiscal policy or foreign policy, but not social policy).

So, when people who are so dedicated to secularism and are so opposed to traditional religion try to put it on like a jacket it rings false. It also shows that they think that religious people are too stupid to realize that they are trying it on like a costume. When Obama made his infamous gaffe about people clinging to God and guns, it wasn't just that he made an extremely insulting statement, it was that it never occurred to him, to his staff, to his speech writers, to his entire campaign that it would be seen that way. It is normal for them to think and believe such insulting things about religious people. They believe it so much that they believe everyone else does, too. Then, they add a few God bless yous and references to prayer and hope people won't see their contempt for traditional religion. Also, I just don't believe, based on his track record so far, that he truly wants the American people to know him. I also don't believe that he trusts the American people, based on his statements so far. He has a serious credibility issue, as far as I am concerned, and that does not give me confidence that he is the right man for the job.

Now, don't take this to mean that I am all over McCain. I disagree with him on several issues, I think he's wrong ideologically on some specific issues, I don't like his moral past with regards to his marriage, though I respect his war procedure more than the current administration's, and his voting record reassures me a little on some things.

I'd really rather vote no at the polls in two and a half months than elect either of these men. Maybe we should just try four years without a president and see what we get? There were three candidates I could get behind when the campaign started back in 1995, but one by one they dropped off. However, when one has at least some connection to my political, social and fiscal values, and the other guy is on a different planet than mine, well, I guess I know who I'll vote for - though, I may be holding my nose when I do it.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday: August 18



Happy Birthday to Jerome! Happy Birthday to Jerome! Happy Birthday Dear Jerome! Happy Birthday to Jerome!

Today is Jerome's second birthday. He had no preferences for his birthday meal, so I am making something I think he will like well and that is relatively easy to eat.

Two Great Things About Jerome
1. His delight and joy, which are contagious.
2. His good manners. It always surprises and pleases people to hear him ask for something pease or say scusing or thank you much.

We did have a meal given to us last week, and had a, well, not unexpected, but forgotten visit from a priest who was in the area. For some reason, I thought he was coming this week, instead of last week. So, there are some repeats for both this week and next week in the works.


Italian Beef
Olive Oil
4 pounds Beef Round Roast
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
1 cup beef broth
7 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Season beef roast liberally with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown the beef on all sides in the olive oil over medium high heat.

Place roast in large crockpot with whole, peeled garlic cloves all around the meat. Deglaze the skillet with the beef broth, scraping all the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle the oregano, basil, pepper flakes, salt and granulated garlic over the meat. Pour the liquid and all the bits from the skillet over the meat. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

Put the crock in the refrigerator overnight.

To serve: Slice meat thinly and heat in the defatted broth in a pan on the stove. Pile on crusty rolls with sauteed onions and peppers and pass the broth to dip the sandwiches.

What is on your menu this week?

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Heavy Hearted

Today's celebration was bittersweet. We had a feast to honor and thank our priest and his family for their service to our church and to our families, personally. They have been leaders, workers, companions, friends, family. They have set up and torn down our sanctuary each week for seven years, the wife has led music, their sons and daughters have been acolytes, one son played drums for worship, they've read scripture passages, hosted bible studies, cleaned up, made meals, babysat, helped marriages in trouble, families dealing with hardship, they've celebrated success and joy with us, they have prayed with and for us, played with us, feasted with us. We love them, and think ever so highly of them. Rich has said that Fr. Joe has been the best pastor he has ever been under, and he was a good friend to Rich as well.

So, I made the meal that Fr. Joe has been wanting again for about a year, and something he wanted to share again as a church family. Other people made things for them that they liked. We wanted them to know that they have our love and that we all want good for them. I decided at the last minute, to make cornbread for their oldest son, Jordan, who has been in love with my recipe since he first had it. He has actually babysat for a pan of that cornbread to himself rather than pay. However in our cooking spree late last night, I forgot about it, so I will have to do a drive by cornbreading soon.

However, today's occasion came about because they are no longer our priestly family. Today was the last Sunday that Fr. Joe, Marthie and the rest of their family served at our church and worshiped with us. It is going to be sad and difficult without them. Knowing it's been coming has been hard, and knowing we won't be in each other's lives each week and many days each week is breaking our hearts. They have been closer than friends and family, and we began missing them when we first found out in June. Today is exactly two months since Rich and I first found out, and we have been grieving ever since. It is hard to imagine our daily and weekly life without them, and tears have been flowing quite a bit over those past two months.

I am sad for our children, who will no longer see their children as often. Sad that we will no longer be leading their children in Laudate, that we won't be able to watch them grow up day by day as we have over the past five years. We have seen their sons grow into godly, intelligent, handsome, strong young men, who will make wonderful husbands and fathers, who will lead wherever they go. We have seen their daughters grow into godly, beautiful young women, with grace and kindness, the loveliness we all wish for in ourselves and in others. This is the closest relationship we have ever had with a church family, and especially with the clergy. Our lives have been intertwined almost from the beginning of our time with them. We have laughed and cried, we have had hard words, and we now are parting ways.

Each Sunday, as we awaited this parting, was like a little funeral, and I don't know what next Sunday will be like with them gone. This separation has a finality to it as well. Fr. Joe will no longer be Fr. Joe after today. He is leaving the priesthood entirely, and leaving our church to join another church, where he will be under another priest. This leaving has been a tearing of our hearts, a breaking. They leave on good terms, and we wish them well. They are heading East, to Orthodoxy, and it is a good church. It is just a hard thing that has pain marked all over it.

Things like this always change relationships, but when it is clergy leaving, it is always more complicated. We are fortunate that this could be done without rancor, but it is hard to think that we will no longer share the deep relationship we have had. They will rightly become more involved with their new church, and we will be involved with this church. This is how it ought to be. I cannot help crying a little about it, though, at this tearing apart.

I am sure that our new priest will be a fine leader, and that we will grow to love him as we have loved this family, but this is a hard path that I wish we did not have to walk. We've left churches because of moves, and kept good relationships with the people and clergy, and we've had clergy move because of chaplaincy, and kept good relationships with them. This time, it is more difficult. It is a relationship breaking, and it will take some time before we are all healed again. I think it is going to be hard for our new priest, as well, since ours is a small, intimate, closely entwined church family, and all of us are wounded right now. It will be tough for us to welcome him in as he deserves.

We have had a hard week, explaining to our children what is to come. We waited, as we weren't certain how it was to work out and what the timeline was, so we didn't want to worry and unsettle them for a long time. We will see how they deal with it in the days to come. Except for Alexander and Dominic, who have slight memories of our old church, this is the only church and the only rector that our children know of as their own. Fr. Bryce, who we love so much, is a priest we visit, and who visits us, not their priest, even though he married us and baptized them. This hurt is so deep and raw right now. I feel like we could all weep for months.

Even the transition, so pragmatic and practical, has been painful: Who will take over the keys, the altar guild, the church checkbook, the contact numbers, who will make sure there is good coffee for coffee hour, etc. Things that should be easy and normal now hurt. Then, there have been all the lasts: The last bible study as a church, the last eucharist together, the last Sunday service, the last men's breakfast, the last St. Martha's Guild, the last Laudate with them. Rich is preparing for the diaconate, and he had hoped he would be serving with Fr. Joe. Though he is honored to serve the church in general and whomever the bishop sends as priest, he had been looking forward to serving as a brother to Fr. Joe, as well as a son.

A silly part of me enjoyed thinking of the possibility of our children growing up together and possibly falling in love. If Amira and Christopher are already married, after all, perhaps Alexander or Dominic could marry Tori. I intended to put the cornbread recipe in a note to Jordan, so he can make it for himself now that he's a man and heading to college, but forgot that along with a few other things.

Fr. Joseph, who has been such a gentle friend, trusted confessor, model father, and spiritual leader, Marthie, who has been one of my best girlfriends, shared road trips, campouts, inside jokes and tears, Jordan, who we have seen grow from an awkward adolescent, who was sometimes a bit too harsh and insensitive, to a man, full of kindness and humility, Spencer, who has grown from a child and wisecracker into a spiritually mature young man, whose gentleness and love of children has survived all of his changes, Laurel, who could be flighty, is becoming a graceful young woman of substance and beauty, Riley, whose humor and conviviality has entertained and cheered us, who shares the rest of his family's love and gentleness with children, we won't get to see grow up as closely (and we'll never get to have him in Laudate), Victoria, closest to Alexander's age, has been a help and friend to us and to our children, Christopher who was a nursing baby when we first met, and now is entering kindergarten, and becoming quite a sweet little boy, we love and miss you all. May God be with you and make your burdens light, may He grow ever closer to you as you strive to grow ever closer to Him.

There has already been some good in all of this. Today's service and our meal together were already a healing. I have more to write about on that score, but for now, the grief is still strong. Lord, have mercy on us all. Please pray for us, for our priest and his family, for our church, for the man sent by our bishop, under the Holy Spirit's guidance. We all need the healing.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Mama Bear

I usually try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and offer credit. I have a short temper, but it is quickly extinguished, so it takes a lot to make me angry at someone. I flare up and cool off and move on.

There is one exception to that: If someone hurts my children in any way or causes them pain.

Tonight, before our evening prayers, Rich and I had to have a talk with our children that we were hoping we'd never have to make. We were hoping the circumstances could change, and it would have just been a hard time that we, their parents, went through, and we'd tell them about it much later, if at all. That is not to be.

I mentioned here the hard time that we've been going through for almost two months now, and the time came when we had to explain, as much as we could, to our children. Tonight was the closest I've gotten to outright anger, because our explanation meant that I got to watch my three oldest sons tear up and cry, and all I could do was wrap my arms around them and cry, too. We comforted them as much as we could, but they are so sad, and it broke our hearts to have to introduce this sadness to them.

Amira didn't really get the import of what we were saying, but it will not be many days before she understands it all too well. Jerome will likely have some hard times over it, but I don't expect him to remember this for very long.

It is a pain and burden that has been imposed on us. Please pray for us, our children, our friends.

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Finished Object Friday: August 15

Remarkably little finished this week. I got some yogurt made, did the grocery shopping, and made a lovely dessert of honey sweetened ricotta with fanned figs on the top, drizzled with some more honey for the end of a meal with a visiting priest. He came over last night (his wife was unable to make it) and we shared a lovely meal (changed from our menu plan to accommodate someone else being here), and had wonderful conversation and even were able to sing some hymns. He taught us to sing a Swahili hymn that he had learned from some African bishops in our communion. He had great stories from our world wide convocation as well.


This photo turned out pretty blurry, but this was the best shot of all I took, and we have no more dessert because we ate it. Hey! That's another thing I finished.

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Evil Deer Return


These creatures are so cheeky! They marched right across our yard as pleased as can be, so I scared them off by taking pictures of them. This morning there were only two, we often see five or six.


Then they headed down the hill toward the fence.

Elijah looked out his bedroom window and told us that they had moved down to our garden where they started nosing around the gate. They know where the gate is! They don't go to any other part of the fence.

I sent Alexander down to chase them off. Amira has been telling us how much she wants to eat deer burger and it's almost September.


Anyway, here is a photo through the trees in front of our fire pit. I don't know if you can make out Mt. Rainier through the haze, but it's there. I may just see it because I know where it goes and am used to seeing it there.

We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. I think we can put up with the deer to live in a place like this. But, we might be inviting every hunter we know to come get their fill of venison come September.

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What's in Your Refrigerator?

I was reading this and started thinking of what I always had on hand in our refrigerator.

So, my list (I may have to bring the list up to 20):

Evidently, we focus on dairy here. What's always on hand in your refrigerator? Post your list and link back to this post and leave a comment so I can nose around in your fridge.

I think I'll do another list like this about my freezer.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Crockpot Enchiladas

I made the Crockpot Chard & Corn Enchiladas last night, and it was really good.

It made up for the dinner I made the previous night which, though it qualified as food, left Rich and me wanting to wash our tongues and kill some neurons that might have recorded the experience. I've already figured out how I would fix it, and may try later, but will wait until the memory isn't quite so painful. The woman who offered the recipe made no promises about the flavor, and we now know why. I knew it was cheesy whitebread food, but was not prepared for how much we would dislike it. I thought it would be homey and Americana. It was cheap and filling, though. After tasting it, I ate rice crispie treats for dinner that night. It is rare that I miss on a meal, and it has been years since we disliked something this much. Fortunately, the children ate it just fine, and it's all gone now.

Back to the enchiladas. Aside from nearly doubling the recipe for the filling, I made several changes. I used about three cups of cooked chicken for the meat, substituted chard for the spinach, which I chopped up into bite sized pieces, and used almost an entire large bunch of chard, frozen roasted corn from Trader Joe's instead of canned, creamed corn (I just don't use that), adding a little sour cream (I would use an entire pint in the filling next time), sliced and diced a whole jalapeno, instead of measuring two tablespoons, grabbed a large handful of cilantro to mince, and added a can of olives, roughly chopped. I also used half cheddar and half pepper jack for the shredded cheeses, and upped that to about three or four cups between the filling and the topping. Also, I layered the tortillas with the filling rather than rolling them up. I would grease the bottom of the crock next time. I used the canned enchilada sauce, with a pint of sour cream for the sauce over the top. We passed salsa verde to serve with it.

I bought the sauce and the salsa, though we actually had everything at home to make them. I just didn't realize it until after I'd bought it. So, next time, they will be homemade. We didn't need to add any salt between the canned sauce, cheese and olives.

I cooked it in our 6.5 quart crockpot on high for two and a half hours, which was a touch too long. This could probably be made in the oven faster than in the crockpot, but it was deep and gooey and nice, and the crockpot is good for if you need to leave the house.

Overall a good recipe, though I've changed it a little from the original. I thought I would miss the onion and garlic I normally would put in something like this, but we really didn't. It was in the salsa and in the enchilada sauce, so I'd definitely keep it in those when I made them. I was surprised at how flavorful the filling was (I tasted it before putting it in the pot), considering I was using unseasoned chicken and adding no salt or spice. The cilantro, jalapeno, sour cream and cheeses really seasoned the chicken, corn, chard, and olives pretty nicely. This one is another keeper.

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Shameless Self-Promotion

I have entered a recipe contest that isn't a recipe contest. It is a popularity contest. The recipe isn't judged on its merits, as far as I can tell, but on how many votes it gets.

So (you know where I'm going with this, right?), you can go vote for my recipe up to 10 times a day through August 31.

I'm just saying.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reason 786,159,432 that I Love Him

I was dead tired yesterday. So tired that when I was trying to comfort Yasmina, I fell asleep on the floor at a ridiculously early hour while holding her. Rich told me to go to bed with her, and just try to rest while he shut down the airport. I heard him take the car, which was odd because he usually takes his work truck, though if he thinks he'll be waylaid by people talking to him about work he takes our car. I woke up again around an hour later, and didn't hear him in the house. I was too tired to think much about it, though, and I knew he had a couple other things he needed to do around our garden, so I assumed he was doing that.

This morning, I woke up and Rich and I were getting ready for the day, when I came to the dining room and found this:



When I saw them, I asked where they had come from and he wrapped his arms around me and said it was magic. He told me they were for his wife who didn't even get flowers when she had a baby.

Then he told me what really happened. We had gotten our grocery rewards back yesterday, and among the rebates for the store and coupons was a coupon for $3 off cut flowers. I had been wanting some flowers for a while, and he saw how worn out I was getting so, he took the coupon, one of the rebate checks (our groceries are free this week!) and went to the store. There was a buy two get one free deal on a dozen roses, so he used his rebate and coupon on that. They were a killer deal anyway, which I can completely appreciate.

He also picked up a couple frozen pie crusts, because we've had some cherries waiting to be combined with cranberries in a pie that I've been too tired to do lately. He said he figured he'd stop asking me about it and figure out how to do it. He cracked open one of my cookbooks and modified a cherry pie recipe to make his pie. At midnight. While bouncing our daughter who was not nursing and having tummy trouble. So I could sleep.

When he came back to the bedroom around 1:30, I asked him what he'd been up to with her, and he said he was just puttering around the kitchen. Sneaky man.

Three dozen roses and pie for breakfast. He's nice to look at, too.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Enough to Bring Tears to a Mother's Eyes

Even though we all slept in and had brunch rather than breakfast (which is usually a recipe for a bad day here), all the children did their chores well and cheerfully after breakfast. Alexander finished his work and went to help Dominic with his work. When I told him he didn't need to do it, as he had already done his own work, he answered by telling me that it was fine, he just wanted to help his brother. Dominic and Alexander are now folding laundry together while discussing the books they've been reading with much animation and excitement. Amira and Elijah came into the room to watch Yasmina smiling at us ON PURPOSE, and Amira had three of her dolls wrapped up in a blanket and has been carrying them around nicely like a good little mother, Elijah is playing gently with Yasmina in the gymini now that I've put her down and is pulling the ring on her little musical elephant so she can hear her music. Jerome is napping right now, but will be up in a minute for our afternoon snack (no point in making a full lunch when they ate breakfast at 10:30, and will have dinner around 5:30).

There is no yelling, no crying, no pointless arguments, no shirking of duties. Our work is getting done, I was able to deal with laundry and am planning the cooking projects to do with the children this week. It's a good day.

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Souvlaki Report


This photo was taken after we'd eaten quite a bit. Rich looked at the rest of it and said it looked really good, and I should blog about it.

We tried this recipe for pork souvlaki this weekend. Actually, we used the marinade on both pork (country ribs cut up with my razor sharp knife) and chicken. Since Rich does the grilling in our family, he put the skewers together and then made vegetable skewers rather than just grilling the crookneck squash as I had intended. He cut up an onion, a jalapeno, one of our anaheims, a yellow squash and a tomato and put those on sticks, too.

This is basically the marinade my mom used on grilled chicken my entire life. The difference is that she used fresh parsley instead of oregano of any kind, and she put lemon juice in it. I followed his recipe, except that I increased the oregano and the garlic. I would keep that the same, but add my mom's parsley and lemon juice to make it perfect. Also, I just pureed the whole lot in the Cuisinart, and would do it that way again. It takes almost no time, and the only significant time in this recipe is the few hours marinating the meat.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well using the rather fatty, not as tender, country ribs worked for this. His recommendation of pork butt was not what I'd expect, but we went with a similar cut of meat (that we happened to already have in the freezer), thinking most people would use a more tender, lean cut. This was astoundingly good, though. In the future, I will definitely be using this marinade, with the additions I mentioned, on pork, chicken, lamb (though my green lamb is still a favorite around here) and even chuck cubes.

We cooked ours about five minute per side, rather than four minutes, and they were still tender, and had a nice crust on them. This is definitely worth making, and I would recommend playing around with this recipe. My mom used it on pieces of chicken, and you could mix it in with ground beef or lamb to make grilled kofta.

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Menu Plan Monday: August 11



We will be using a lot of the produce we picked up at the farmer's market this weekend in our meals this week. We'll also be using some of the produce from our garden as well. I have a repeat this week, as we moved things around last week.

Also, there is at least one meal that is subject to change, as our priest's wife is planning on sending us home with a meal at our Home Group, and it sounds like one other lady from church may also be bringing one for us.

I will post recipes upon request.

What is on your menu this week?

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

PSA: Seeded Watermelon

I took some of our watermelon to my mommy bible study on Friday to share for snack. Every single mother there asked where I found it because they had such a hard time finding seeded watermelons, and (join in on the chorus) "seedless watermelons don't have much flavor."

So, since I love my readers, I will share where to find the seeded watermelons. It won't help everyone, but anyone who is in Washington has a chance, and perhaps even people in Oregon and California. Grocery Outlet has a great price on these large, firm, ripe watermelons. We picked up ours for $5.99 each, and they were easily 20 pounds a piece.

This has been a public service announcement sponsored by Arabian Knits.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

To Market to Market



Our family hit the farmer's market today. I was going every week when they first started up, picking up plants and greens and what not. We haven't been in at least a month and a half, however, and wanted to take the family and see what we could find. Since it coincided with Kerry's carnival, I thought I'd do a write up. I forgot to take pictures of the family while we were there, but I did take pictures of what we bought.

We have a nice, though small, farmer's market here. Considering it is a semi-rural fishing village, I've always wished it were larger, but this year it had to become a little smaller, because the field where it normally is held was taken for some other purpose. So, now it is held in the parking area of a bus stop/park and ride.

Even still, it is a lovely place, with great people, beautiful produce, glassware, wood and metal work, artwork and photography, knits, homemade soaps and beauty products, honey and bee related products, pony rides and activities for children, great food to eat and music. Also, the salmon man! I love buying fish from him. He and a friend have a business. The friend does the fishing up in Alaska for salmon, freezes it and flies it down here. The salmon man smokes some, fillets and vacuum packs some and sells it, with recipes and samples for all who stop by his booth. There is a booth where you can buy sauces and dips, a master gardener booth where you can bring your gardening problems and questions, tons of plants for sale, a coffee roasting company, and a bakery booth. Not to mention the cut flowers. Later this year (ours runs through October), there will be figs, antique apples and pears as well. I think some of the farm stands sell eggs as well, but since we get our own, I don't pay as much attention to it. This is just in our little town. If you go up the highway a bit, you'll find a local produce stand, and several farms where you can buy right off the farm, as well.

This week, we found a lot to take home. I passed on the Russian Red Kale, as we have lovely Nero di Toscano growing here quite well. I may pick up some garlic next week when we have used what we have here. We brought home two bunches of beets, 10 anaheim peppers, four yellow zucchini, two large bunches of multi-colored swiss chard, nearly three pounds of the aforementioned salmon and a wonderful established long type eggplant in a pot. There were beautiful carrots there, but we had just bought about 10 pounds of them last week and we aren't close to being through with them yet.



We have a hard time growing eggplant here, but this one has plenty of flowers and a couple eggplants already growing on the plant.



We're hoping that by putting the pot out in our garden where the water will get to it and it will have full sun, we might get a few more. Rich said that even if we only get four or five eggplants off this plant, it would have paid for itself, and it will certainly be fresher and of higher quality than the battered globe eggplants we find at the grocery store.



So, how much did we pay for our haul? $46.65 for the whole lot, fish and plant included. We were able to pay the people who do the real work with this food, get our things much fresher and more locally, most of it organic, and those that weren't certified organic were still raised that way (they just didn't pay to have the certification process which is a pain in the rear to get). While we are working toward growing more of our own food, and we have some things doing well in our garden this year, this is a great way to supplement it and learn more about how and what to grow in our area. We're heading back next week.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Finished Object Friday: August 8

We have finished one month of Yasmina's life.



If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Making Mayonnaise - the Photo Edition

I posted the recipe here. Now, I will post the photos of the process. I was taking my own photos, so there is no shot of me blending it, but then, I think you can figure it out. If you can't tell, this is a double recipe of the mayonnaise. My jar just holds a double recipe.


The ingredients and tools

Lemon juice

Ingredients in the jar

Add the oil

Finished mayonnaise.

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More Grilled Pizza

Talked to Rich about how he grills the pizzas and he says you need to make a cool spot and a hot spot on the grill. With gas, you set one burner on low and the other on high (although he says medium is enough on some). If you can't do that, you can jury rig it by tenting one set of burners with foil to cover the flames. On a charcoal grill, you just put the hot coals on one side and fewer on the other side.

You grill the rolled out dough on high for a couple/few minutes, then flip it and move to the lower heat side. Put your sauce and toppings on quickly and grill for another three to five minutes, with the cover on. Check the bottom of the pizza to make sure it doesn't burn, and take the pizza off when the toppings are melted and warm.

Here is another method of grilling pizzas that looks interesting.

We may get a chance to try out both our method and this other one soon. Our children's godfather might be here with his son this month to help us with some projects on our house. I've promised them that there will be grilled pizzas for them if they arrive.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Don't Buy Cook's Illustrated

or Cook's Country or America's Test Kitchen. I was never really a great fan of their recipes (I much prefer Fine Cooking), and now I'm really no fan of theirs. I think I have one of their cookbooks, and I'm thinking of burning it now. I don't use it, and I certainly won't want to pass it on to anyone else.

So, why am I so mad at them? Apparently, they believe that they can create new copyright laws out of thin air, and harass people over these imaginary laws. Melissa posted a modified (by about five changes) potato salad recipe that she made, starting with their recipe. She credited them as her inspiration, though legally she did not have to do so. They responded by demanding she remove her recipe. Her recipe. Why? Because it was based on theirs and they do not allow any modification to their recipes. So, somehow posting her recipe, which began with theirs is now copyright infringement, and even though they acknowledge that it is no longer their recipe, it isn't allowed somehow because their recipes are supposed to be perfect.

warning, the following entry does include vulgar language:
Read about it here.

Her interpretation of copyright is correct. The list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted. Even if it could, hers was no longer their list of ingredients. Only the recipe text, and only if it is somehow written in a way outside of the standard, mix, add, pour, jargon can be copyrighted.

I will never buy another copy of their magazine or one of their books, we already don't watch their show, and now I will never use a recipe that came from them. I hope they get all sorts of bad publicity over this.

ETA: I saw this link to a parody of their method in the comments at Melissa's blog.

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Menu Plan Monday: August 4



We were able to get some great deals on cantaloupe and seeded watermelon this weekend. I truly dislike seedless watermelons. The flavor is insipid. There is something about whatever it took to breed the seeds out that also bred much of the taste out. So, we are always on the lookout for real watermelons. There is an entire generation of children that do not know how to spit watermelon seeds! I also was able to pick up veal soup bones for very little, so I'll be making some stock this week. I bought whole chickens on a good sale, and put them in the crock pot last night to cook up the meat for other meals. I'll be separating the meat from the bones and fat today, and then using the juice in the crock pot, the bones and fat, along with some vegetables, herbs, peppercorns and a little salt to make stock from that. I almost always make stock when we roast poultry, so we use the whole thing up, but this way I have precooked chicken meat in the freezer for tacos, casseroles, etc, and can season it as I wish later.

This past week, Rich turned our leftover fish into these amazing fish tacos. He fried up corn tortillas to make into taco shells, quickly heated up the fish in a frying pan and put it all together with lettuce, tomatoes, thinly sliced jalapenos and some fresh mozzarella (because we didn't have queso fresco or goat cheese). It was astonishingly good. Lisa ate some, even though she'd already had dinner out while she was about town.

Anyway, I'm having a hard time thinking up meals this week. Lots of melon. We still have four meals in the freezer, though one of them has broccoli in it and Yasmina does not do well when I eat broccoli. She and Alexander were the only two whose stomachs couldn't handle something I ate, he couldn't cope with turkey, of all things, and now we have this broccoli issue. Anyway, I'm thinking that we're going to use up some of those freezer meals, to make my life easier.

We're going to try to get more raspberries from the girls in our homeschool group. They are less expensive than in the stores, the money goes straight to those who worked for them, we get to help a local homeschooling family and the berries are fresher. Winning all around. Since much of our gardening got pushed aside this year, and we've been battling the deer, we don't have a ton in our garden, though the kale and cabbage and onions are doing very well. We're planting some cole crops and quick growing things like radishes, beets and lettuce as fall crops. Remind me in a month to plant the garlic, too.

This is Lisa's last week here, so we'll be taking our traditional trip to get manicures and pedicures together, and probably go out for drinks afterward. This may also affect our menus this week, as we may decide to make different things or go out.

I will post recipes upon request.

What is on your menu this week?

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

And the Winner Is...

Kristine! So much for never winning anything.

Please excuse the lateness of this. The wireless was acting up yesterday, and I couldn't get it to work long enough for me to post the notice. Thank you to all of you for your birthday wishes and for playing along.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Finished Object Friday:

I'm glad I still have some participants. I know it will take some time to get more people posting, but I enjoy seeing what other people have made.

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.

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