27 April 2011

Still safe!

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Remember this?  It's amazing how much things change in just over a year.  Although, one thing remains constant, she is still an angel!

23 April 2011

Eggfest 2011

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It's that time of year again!  The time has come to strip down the kids and color some eggs!  An event that used to be held on the kitchen floor has been moved to the dining room table.  Ari, Emilie, and Piper are a year older and a year wiser, and they colored those eggs like a well oiled machine.  They colored those eggs with such precision and efficiency, they may be able to keep their shirts on next year.  Although, with Thomas in the mix, who knows what will happen.  The kids had a blast and we ended up with some beautiful eggs.

BEFORE




AFTER





(I love the way Ari's hand looks in this picture)

22 April 2011

Earth Day on Mars!

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This is an image of Earth and the moon taken by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  From space, the Earth is seen to go through phases similar to those of the Moon.  In this picture, Earth looks so delicate and beautiful.  Let's view it and treat it the same way on the surface.

Happy Earth Day!

20 April 2011

Falafel

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I don't know exactly how it happened, but our family has become quite the fan of falafel over the years.  I think it all may have started when I worked at The Sunspot years ago, going to the natural food trade shows; a vendor gave me a free falafel mix.  With the mix, all I had to do was add water, leave it be for about fifteen minutes, portion, and fry.  It was easy and delicious, and it was a nice change of pace.

Fast forward a few years and I wanted to try to make my own falafel.  I found a recipe online and made a batch.  The falafel I made from scratch wasn't that much better than the mix I used, so I kept using the mix whenever a craving hit because it was easier. 

Fast forward another couple years, and imagine my delight when I saw that Alton Brown would be doing a chickpea episode of Good Eats.  Well, I was very delighted, and the episode did not disappoint.  Not only did AB give me a fantastic recipe for falafel, he also gave me a great new hummus technique, but that's another post.

After the episode aired, I knew I would be making the falafel on Friday night.  It came together very easily, and I was happy to have another use for my meat grinder.  I actually portioned the falafel on Thursday, so all I had to do was fry them of Friday.  I love low stress dinners, and this was about as low stress as it can get.  But the proof was in the tasting.

Unlike the previous falafel recipe I used, AB's recipe is much better than the mix.  It is definitely worth the effort.  The flavors are not muddled and the texture obtained by grinding the chickpeas is very nice.  The bit of heat from the cayenne pepper is also a nice touch.  Bye-bye mix, I have a new way to make falafel!


Falafel
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

Ingredients
•1 pound dried chickpeas, sorted and rinsed
•1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
•1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
•2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
•4 small scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
•2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
•2 quarts peanut oil
•Pita bread, warmed, for serving

Directions
Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl and cover with 2 inches of cold water. Soak overnight.

Place the cumin and coriander seeds in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet and set over medium high heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds give off an aroma and just begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the toasted spices to a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Set aside.

Drain the chickpeas. Combine the soaked chickpeas, ground cumin and coriander, garlic and scallions, salt, black pepper, baking powder, cayenne pepper, and parsley leaves in a medium mixing bowl.

Pass this mixture through a meat grinder or stand mixer with the grinder attachment fitted with the smallest die. Alternatively, you can divide the mixture in half and process one half at a time in a food processor, pulsing 10 to 20 times.

Scoop the mixture into 1 1/2 to 2-ounce portions using a 2-inch diameter disher. Place on a half sheet pan lined with parchment. Can be held hold at room temperature for up to 2 hours before frying, or covered in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat the peanut oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F. Adjust the heat to maintain temperature. Gently place the falafel, 1 at a time, into the hot oil. Fry 4 at a time until deep golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a half sheet pan lined with a cooling rack and topped with a paper towel to drain. Repeat until all falafel have been cooked. Serve on warm pita.

14 April 2011

Strawberry Blueberry Pineapple Preserves

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Strawberry Blueberry Pineapple Preserves.  Or maybe I should call them Blueberry Strawberry Pineapple Preserves.  Either way, it's a mouthful.  Oh!  I know!  P.B.S. Preserves!  It rolls off the tongue nicely, and I'm sure the folks at Sesame Street would love it.

For my second canning experience, I decided to go off the cuff and come up with my own combination.  I was sold when I asked Ang and Michael if they thought strawberries, blueberries and pineapple would make tasty preserves and they answered with a resounding 'YES'! 

I have never heard of pineapple in preserves, and I don't know if they are supposed to be used in that way, but I figured, what the heck, I'll give it a try.  I referenced a strawberry preserve recipe I found on the internet and got to work. 

In a large pot I combined fresh strawberries, frozen blueberries, and canned pineapple (juice and all) together with sugar and some lemon juice, and set it on the stove.  I brought the mixture to temperature and used the same frozen plate test I did with the orange marmalade.  Once the mixture quickly jelled on the frozen plate, I was ready for the jars.

The whole thing came together quite quickly, but the proof was in the taste.  Not having any biscuits around this time, I had to settle for a piece of toast.  The flavors were sensational!  The strawberry and blueberry flavors shine, and the pineapple comes through as well, even though most of the chunks practically disintegrated while cooking.  It has the perfect sweetness for my taste, as well. 


My second canning experience was a success and it was exciting to try something new.  I was also lucky enough to get dozens of 8 oz. jars from Margie, chock full of canning memories past.  All but guaranteeing many more canning adventures to come.

11 April 2011

Get ready to get dirty

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It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.  This year Emilie joined the fun as we planted seeds for our garden.  The kids didn't really need me, but I was eager to help.  I distributed the seeds and they gently placed them in the dirt.  Ari was a wonderful teacher for Emilie who did not hesitate to get her hands dirty.  This has become quite the tradition.


Items to be featured in our garden include:
Tomato (Wisconsin 55)
Cherry Tomato
Basil
Jalapeno
Cantaloupe
Cucumber
Pea
Leaf Lettuce
We are going to put the basil and jalapeno plants in their own pots and put everything else in the garden.


I can only imagine what it will look like in a couple of months; and you know I'll keep you posted!

06 April 2011

Bullets and Creamer

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As I eagerly anticipate the return of Mythbusters, I thought I would share one of my all-time favorite segments from the show.



I think this is one of my favorites because it caught me completely off guard. Speaking of being caught off guard, I can't leave out this myth.



The bullets fired verses dropped myth is perhaps the most amazing thing I have seen on Mythbusters. I can't wait for the new episodes!

05 April 2011

R.E.M. 31

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31 years ago, R.E.M. performed for the first time.  "Blue", the twelfth and final track on Collapse Into Now, has the feel of "Country Feedback" meets "E-bow the Letter" meets "Belong."  Some of my favorite R.E.M. songs.  "Blue" is the only song on the album whose lyrics are not included in the liner notes.  I found the lyrics online and wanted to share here as part of my R.E.M. birthday celebration.

video

Feels circus left the stakes a broken ropes useless mug
The ties that bind, ha ha
I can be bad poet
Street poet
Shit poet
Kind poet too

Subway
Almost 4AM
Halloween night
Had enough to drink to make my own party
All my fellow writers in half costume, half asleep
Half silly, gone to seed

I don't mark my time with dates, holidays, faded wisdom, locked karma, whatever's
Convenient

I am made by my times
I am a creation of now
Shaken with the cracks and crevices
I'm not giving up easy
I will not fold
I don't have much
But what I have is gold

I sing in platinum
I dress in brass
I eat in zinc
Let it pass

Compare a toast
I like that
I understand courage
I still roll with the shout of a character I was married to today
I try to see outside myself
I understand the eyes
Excuse all the highs
Sorry
I am sorry
Ha ha

I like you, love you, every coast of you.
I've seen your eddies and tides and hurricanes and cyclones.
Low ebb tide and high, full moon.
Up close and distant.
I read you like the sky, the sea, the ocean, the sun, the moon.
Blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue blue, blue, blue, blue, blue.
Naked and blue.

Breathing with you. Touch. Change. Shift. Allow air. Window open. Drift. Drift away. Into now.

I want Whitman proud. Patti Lee proud. My brothers proud. My sisters proud. I want me. I want it all. I want sensational. Irresistible.

This is my time and I am thrilled to be alive.

Living
Blessed
I understand
Twentieth century
Collapse Into Now

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