Monday, June 30, 2008
Pickled Garlic Scapes
4 pint canning jars and lids, sterilized
Approximately 5 dozen garlic scapes
5 C white vinegar
3/4 C water
1/2 C pickling (or kosher) salt
2 tsp whole peppercorns
minced hot peppers, optional
Make sure the jars and lids are sterilized first. Combine the vinegar, water, and salt in a pan and start it heating. Then stuff the scapes in the jars. I found it easiest to wrap the scapes into coils and twist the top end around the rest of it, then pile them in the jar; otherwise they come uncoiled and make life a challenge. If you have a small child around, have them place the coils in the jars; smaller hands would make things easier. Divide the peppercorns between jars and add hot peppers if you like; I used about a teaspoon in one jar. When the vinegar is boiling and the salt has dissolved, pour the vinegar over the scapes in one jar and put the lid on right away - the hot scapes will uncoil and try to escape, making it hard to get a good seal. Repeat. Label and refrigerate for at least 10 days before eating. (Or process in a water bath for 10 minutes, label, and store.)
The biggest deterrent to canning is getting out my canner and heating up the water in it - it takes forever. So for experimental pickles this year, I plan to use the refrigerator method; if I like the pickles, I will can them properly next year. We'll see how these turned out in 10 days.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Allium and Cheese Quiche
Make a quiche crust and line the pan with it.
Chop 4 garlic scapes. Slice half a dozen green garlic (or green onions). Dice 1/2 a sweet onion. Place all in the pan and spread evenly around the crust. Top with enough grated cheese to cover evenly; I used cheddar, but other flavors would work well (or scatter with some crumbled goat cheese).
Beat 4 eggs and add 1/2 cup of milk, a little salt and pepper, dried chives, and some Italian herbs, if you have any on hand. Pour evenly over alliums and cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes and serve warm.
Any leftover quiche is good for breakfast.
For the rest of the garlic scapes, I might make some pesto, which freezes well and is tasty with late-summer vegetables, or use them in cooking. But I will probably try pickling them, which sounds like fun. The recipe calls for combining white vinegar and water with a little sugar and salt, heating it and poured it into a canning jar full of scapes. The jar is then closed tight and refrigerated for two weeks. Finding ways to use them in sandwiches, salads, and other dishes could be fun - unless my kids eat them straight from the jar first.
(Allium is the family that includes all the garlic and onion varieties.)
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
It will be an interesting week.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
2 pounds of hamburger
1/2 C. corn kernels
1 small can of diced green chilies
1/2 tablespoon of chili powder, adjusted to taste
Combine and form into patties. Cook as usual, adding salt when the burgers are turned over. For cheeseburgers, use cheddar or pepper jack. Serve on a bun with thin slices of sweet onion (such as Walla Walla or Vidalia). Top with salsa, guacamole, black bean sauce, or your favorite Mexican condiment. Serve with tortilla chips and salsa.
(Actually, my inspiration for this was a jar of spicy pickles I wanted to use up - then I forgot to get them out of the fridge, so they are still there, waiting to be used. Sigh.)
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Part of the problem may be that they couldn't decide if they were writing a travel guide (all the hotels and restaurants are listed at the end of each section, with contact information) or a food book or a memoir. They have written travel guides in the past, especially travel-to-eat books, and this reads like one that they have tried to doctor for a wider audience. Unfortunately, they miss. There is little to make this a good book for armchair travelers or foodies. Other than the lists of ingredients in lists of dishes, there is little exploration of the various food traditions; comparisons between related food traditions is limited to a couple of comments in passing, although Creole foods rate a slightly longer discussion. In spite of the advance research that the Jamisons appear to have done regarding each stop, the various hotel rooms get more paragraphs than the cultures they pass through and the end result is very much a sense of "It's Tuesday, so this must be Belgium".
The Jamisons have a few writing quirks that can be irritating, too. They can't decide if they are writing in the first or third person, so they refer to themselves jointly with "us" or "we", but then refer to themselves individually by name, giving a sense that a third person traveled with them and is describing everything. The dialogue is equally off-kilter; they write it the way people write, not the way people speak, making it sound stilted. In many cases, simply getting rid of the quotation marks would improve the way it reads without diminishing the interest or personal touch.
If you want to replicate their journey, the information you need is all here. If you like reading travel guides, this will be a fun book to read. If you prefer good food or travel writing, stick to Mayle or Trillin.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Magpies provide the sound track for the lilacs' scent. The family that lives in our yard spends at least an hour every morning discussing the day, at full volume; their caws are more musical than crows, but not any quieter. The young magpies look like their parents but are a bit smaller, and they move in less confident ways. They are also much more curious about the house and yard than the adults, and spend more time on our deck. A week ago, a juvenile on the deck ended up inside the house when my daughter opened the door; it took a few minutes to capture it with a towel and get it back outside, where it sat quivering in a corner of the yard for a while before flying away.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Garden flowers are enthusiastically blooming, too. Lilacs all over town are in bloom, although my north-facing bushes are holding off a week or two. Bleeding hearts are thriving in my shade garden; the anemones and lilies of the valley will bloom soon.
Friday, June 13, 2008
A mother passing by her son's bedroom was astonished to see that his bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then she saw an envelope, propped up prominently on the pillow that was addressed to Mom. With the worst premonition, she opened the envelope with trembling hands and read the letter.
It is with great regret that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Dad and you. I have been finding real passion with Stacy and she is so nice, but I knew you would not approve of her because of all her piercings, tattoos, tight motorcycle clothes, and the fact that she is much older than I am But she's not only the passion of my life, Mom, she is pregnant. Stacy said that we will be very happy. She owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. We share a dream of having many more children.
Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone. We will be growing it for ourselves and trading it with the other people that live nearby for cocaine and ecstasy. In the meantime, we will pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Stacy can get better. She deserves it.
Don't worry, Mom. I'm 15 and I know how to take care of myself. Someday I'm sure that we will be back to visit so that you can get to know your grandchildren.
Your Son John
P.S. Mom, none of the above is true. I'm over at Tommy's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than the report card that's in my center desk drawer.
I love you.......Call me when its safe to come home.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Although my journal usually consists of words upon words, my favorite pages are those when I am drawing the world around me, especially when I can integrate words into the drawing. Hannah Hinchman taught me how to do this with her book A Life in Hand, which showed me how to use a journal to record all of life, both visually and verbally. I have discovered that slowing down to draw something makes me focus on it, and I remember it better even if I never look back at the page; the quality of my drawing is irrelevant (although I have enjoyed seeing it improve over the years). I have drawn lots of nature/field journal pages, but I have also drawn my kids in all stages of growing up (although now that I think about it, not recently); I'm not good at faces so they are all faceless, but the lines of their heads and bodies brings the moment back to me as well as if I had a photograph. When I am agitated, nothing settles me faster than trying to draw something; when I am calm, drawing comes easily.
I think I'll go find something to draw in my journal.
Here is a video of an over-the-top Rube Goldberg contraption spanning two houses and designed to open a pair of curtains. My favorite Rube Goldberg video is one Honda made to advertise the Accord; all of the components of the machine are car parts, and some advertise car features when they are in action (like the strength of the speakers). There is nothing like looking at Rube Goldberg's machines to make you appreciate the machines that actually simplify our lives.
Buffalo Wings Wrap
Place a burrito-sized tortilla on a plate and layer on it (in order):
Very thinly sliced iceberg lettuce (no, don't substitute good lettuce for this; stay authentic)
Celery, sliced into small pieces
Bottled blue-cheese dressing
Chicken strips, warm or hot
Bottled hot-wing sauce (we used Jack Daniels' brand)
Wrap the tortilla around the fillings and eat. The heat will depend on the hot-wing sauce you use and how much you add. One wrap with two pieces of chicken was plenty for me; my teen boys ate two wraps each.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
It won't last long, but it is a dispiriting way to start the day.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
My son wanted to lick the slug because he had heard that it would make his tongue go numb; I had no idea why this was so, so as an unreasonable mom, I said no. But it turns out he was right, and safely so: the slug's slime contains an anesthetic which temporarily causes moist membranes (like a tongue) to go numb when they come in contact with it. I guess I should have let him lick it, then let him figure out why it worked.
Friday, June 6, 2008
This use of a letter to stand for a specific but unknown time is the same as in algebra, where x and y stand for specific but unknown numbers. In this case, D+3 = June 9, so D must be June 6. Similarly, if x+3=9, then x must equal 6.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
On the coast, we of course need to eat seafood, so we stopped at a seafood place on a pier near Bay City (Pacific Oysters) and tried a variety of items. We agreed that oysters on the half-shell aren't our favorites, at least not when they are so big that they require two or more bites to eat; we actually prefer Rocky Mountain oysters. The crab and shrimp disappeared quickly, and we made it half way through a bucket of clams before we were too full to eat any more. The hit was the clam chowder, which was so good that we got some to go for later. On the way back, we picked up several pints of Washington cherries from a roadside stand and ate them the rest of the way to the campground and all evening; my kids ate so many that I can't understand why they don't get sick, but they don't. Now they know more about what grows out here, and they have a series of tastes to help them remember the Oregon coast.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
On the way out, I availed myself of another big-city experience and bought a street paper, written from the perspective of homeless people and sold by them as a way to make some money. The papers give me a glimpse into how people deal with challenging circumstances; I find them much more interesting to read than the magazines sold in the grocery store check-out lines.
Cheese is one of those amazing foods that range from comfort food (open-face grilled cheese sandwiches) to challenging tastes (blue cheese and ginger snaps). As M.F.K. Fisher once noted, "Cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love." When I was growing up, cheese came in orange or white, the latter usually with holes, but there is a whole world of tasty options out there, with their own pairings and times. The French have known this for ages: Charles DeGaulle famously asked, "How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?" Of course, with options come snobs: "People who know nothing about cheeses reel away from Camembert, Roquefort, and Stilton because the plebeian proboscis is not equipped to differentiate between the sordid and the sublime." (Harvey Day) But no matter - cheese is still a great part of any meal.
We'll celebrate Cheese Day a day late, when we stop at the Tillamook Creamery tomorrow and pig out on squeaky cheese.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
From 1940 through 1945, power plants in the west produced 47 billion kWh of electricity, enough to make:
- 69,000 airplanes,
- 79,000 machine guns,
- 5,000 ships,
- 7,000,000 aircraft bombs,
- 5,000 tanks, and
- 31,000,000 shells.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Different wind patterns create different dune shapes. When there is a strong prevailing wind and occasional crosswinds, it creates seif dunes, long and swordlike. Moderate one-way winds produce transverse dunes, long, wavy dunes perdendicular to the wind direction. Strong one-way winds create parabolic dunes where sand is plentiful and barcham dunes where sand is scarce; they are both crescent-shaped, but face opposite directions. The Bruneau Sand Dune is a stellate, or star, dune, created by winds coming from different directions and forming several arms to the dune.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The third type is the most boring both in name and shape: block lava is just about what it sounds like, squarish chunks that look pretty much like rocks everywhere. But it was explosively ejected from the volcano during an eruption, so it has a dramatic history.