Friday, May 30, 2008

Baking milestone!

For the first time in my life, I actually finished a jar of yeast! For most of my adult life, I've been throwing out expired tinfoil *packets* of yeast -- I've never even aspired to using up jars of yeast. But I have been baking so much of late! Here are the recipes that are responsible for this culinary feat:

No-Knead Bread -- best crusty European-style bread ever!


No-rise pizza crust (see a trend here? I'm not a patient baker yet....)
Mix and set aside for 8 minutes:
.25 oz package of dry yeast (a little more than 2 tsp)
1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 c. 110-degree water

Pour this over:
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp salt

Mix well with a heavy spoon, then knead for 2 minutes. Press into a 12'' circle, place on lightly greased pan and stretch to the edges. Top and bake at 500 degrees for 8-12 minutes.

Our other favorite recipes, which I just realized don't use yeast, I'll include just for the fun of it:

Popovers -- we *love* these for breakfast...

1 c. milk
1 c. flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt

Blend eggs and milk, add flour and salt. Mixture should be the consistency of (unwhipped) whipping cream, add milk if it's too thick. Pour into greased muffin tins, filling about 2/3rds. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 for another 10-15 minutes or until golden. Makes 10-12 popovers.


Crepes from the Ratatouille Cookbook:

3 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp melted butter
Put all ingredients in blender in order listed and blend until smooth. Scrape down sides and blend again. Set in fridge for 30 minutes or overnight.
Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup into pan over medium heat (we use cast iron and a notch or two below medium. Cook about 45 seconds on first side, and 30 on the other.


There, now if I lose the scraps of paper I have some of these recipes on, I'm safe (as long as the internet doesn't go away! Or Blogger....)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

CHICKS!!!!

We got chicks! And boy are they cute! We got one Rhode Island Red named Ginny (from a book series called Harry Potter), one Black Austrolorp named Minerva McGonigal(again, from Harry Potter) one Turken (it looks like a buzzard!) named Sybill Trelawney (yes, you guessed it: it's from Harry Potter too) and one Buff Orpington that will be biggest of all named Madame Maxime(all of the names are from Harry Potter.)

All of them seem to be doing good. They're all very small, and want to explore all of their new home, but they're babies so they also just can't resist falling asleep! They go run all over their cage and then start getting sleepy and doze off and fall on their nose. Then one of the chicks wakes up and starts cheeping and then the other chick gets woken up and then she goes back to sleep (in a better position.) They're SO, SO, SO cute!!!! :D

I can hear them peeping and cheeping now.
We built a nest for them out of socks(i think they like it.)


They're all so cute, well maybe with one exception: the Turken, like I said: it looks like a Buzzard!!! :O

But even she's cute.

Here's some pics!!
Enjoy! :)

(By Maddie)

Here's the kids at the feed store:


















And here is Ginny, our very needy Rhode Island Red (she cheeps loudly every time she notices we've left the room and *loves* to fall asleep curled up in one of our hands. What a doll!), Sybill Trelawney, our very goofy looking Turken, Minerva our handsome Australorp and a fuzzy bottom that belongs to Madame Maxime, our Buff Orpington.
















Here is Ginny, falling asleep on the feed trough...



















And a closeup of crazy Sybill

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Okay, I didn't really mean it.

Today there was a storm, and a big one too! We could hear thunder or something in the background. It hailed too. Now, what was the cause of this? Answer: A tornado.
No, I'm not joking. We didn't know this till we went to a farm supply store to get chickens, they said they were going to get some aurucana chickens--well, chicks.
It turned out that the aurucana chicks they had shipped in were NOT aurucana chicks.
They were Rhode Island Reds!

We bought some stuff for the chicks though: a waterer, feeder and some chicken food.
And that's where we found out there was a tornado that was devastating Windsor and Loveland (well, sort of: not as bad in Loveland.) We watched the weather and looked at some of the videos that were being taped by a helicopter. Wow, I'm glad that storm missed us! In fact it barely did! There's cottonwood branches all over our front and back yard!

There's even a power line that got knocked down on the road!

Now it's over: just some thunderstorms.
(You can hear them from here!)

Well, that's the most exciting thing that happened today. There's other things that happened: a piece of hail I found that was about an inch long. And that's it except for the tornado and the thunder i can hear right now from our porch.

Hope everyone that's reading this blog can't say they have been in a tornado, or at least one that hit a bit too close. I think we're lucky it missed us.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No snow!...Is that good or bad?

No more snow! It's spring, and we're gardening like CRAZY! 5 beds so far and we're building more! Only 4 of the 5 garden beds are planted, but we're making and planting more. We have plans for many garden beds and maybe even chickens!

I hope we get chickens.

We also have weeds in our gardens, and in our yard--actually, all over our yard.

We have 2 garden beds full to bursting with strawberries, one with broccoli rabe, radish, boc choi/pac choi, etc. and one with peppers and seeds (the seeds being beets and maybe cantaloupe. We can't remember!) And the last one was not (and still is) not planted.

We have a school yard behind our house, and the sprinklers go off almost every evening to water it. Which also helps us: some of the water gets sprayed over the fence and into our yard.

Well we don't have to water our yard too much! It's just a little sprinkle that manages to get over the fence though. Oh well (acually it just waters the weeds we have growing by our fence!)(no thank you!)

Anyway: that's our garden, in all it's crazy-ness!

Hope you enjoyed the post! :D

Back from CA and frantically gardening!

We had a fast, full and very fun trip to CA, flying in on April 30 and staying with my folks for four or five days before everyone packed up and headed to the beach at Camp Pendleton.

For much of April, my mom had been getting call after call from the beach cottage rental manager at Pendleton, trying to get her to change the week of our stay because a big "rap concert" was going to happen the week we were there and it would be noisy and not appropriate for a family vacation. Turns out, they finally admitted, that they wanted our beach-front cottage for a dressing room for the musicians.

My mom refused to be buffaloed, either out of that weekend or out of a beach-front cottage, though they did move us a few cottages down the way, which was fine, as it still fronted to the protected cove in which the kids like to splash.

We had no idea what we were in for.

When we drove up to check in, we could see an enormous stage scaffolding that looked like a roller coaster erected on the sand just to the north of our cove. This was Monday, and the concert wasn't until Thursday night. While my mom checked in, I picked up a flyer advertising a "Benefit Concert for the Troops" featuring Janet Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Clint Black, NE YO, Blind Melon, ZZ Top, Girlicious and Jessica Simpson, among others. We were both stunned! No wonder they wanted our cabins as dressing rooms, with all these different stars (and in fact, we were one of only two families that refused to switch reservations, the rest of the cabins were empty and waiting to be staged as dressing rooms for the entire week.)

So for the next several days we watched roadies erect lights and sound systems and we clambered over long black snakes of electrical cord on the jetty each time we made our way down to the main beach. Then on Wednesday, the LA people began to arrive, the handlers and hair dressers and those-who-take-care-of-things. For the first time in our years of visiting Del Mar beach, Steve, with his ponytail, ceased to feel like a sore thumb standing out in a crowd of buzz cuts.

Crews started hauling furniture out of cottages and trucking in leather sofas and barstools. They tacked signs up on each unit -- Girlicious Dancers. Pamela Anderson and Kathy Griffin (this was on the cabin right next to ours, much to Steve's delight). Jessica Simpson. (I'm pretty sure I saw her posing for photos the day of the concert on her back patio, but as I'm utterly clueless on the pop culture front, I didn't recognize her. I remember thinking that her dress was retro and ugly....)

On Wednesday evening, Janet Jackson and her dancers rehearsed for several hours with an excited squad of marines who got to march on stage in formation and then be overtaken by Rhythm Nation dancers. It was interesting to watch her, wearing sweats but fully made up and gorgeous in a Michelle Pfeiffer way, walk through her routine with a bored expression that looked almost angry. From time to time, she would burst into a dazzling smile that utterly transformed her. Stage presence is such a fascinating chemistry to see in action! We watched a ventriloquist with a "Dead Terrorist" dummy (definitely bizarre, but oddly compelling) run through a couple of his routines for the cameras, which is when we began to realize that this was more than just a concert here on Pendleton. It turns out, the entire event was filmed and will be broadcast June 1st on NBC. Thursday morning, Blind Melon rehearsed and NE YO and I think Snoop Dogg did as well, though it's all blurred together already.

All this was going on as we built huge sand castles, collected sand dollars and rescued a sea gull with a fishing lure hooked in the webbing of its foot. Maddie patiently fished with my Dad for hours until she caught a flounder, her first catch large enough to keep (and eat, a couple of days later at home. Steve, wonderful Dad that he is, gamely gutted and filleted the creature, while the rest of the grownups cringed and Maddie looked on with interest). It was a fascinating, if surreal, juxtaposition of high pop culture and mundane beach holiday.

We had originally planned to leave the afternoon of the concert but were too star-struck to miss it. So we got to see the Girlicious dancers practicing to the strained strains of ZZTop (boy, they didn't sound like they were aging well as musicians) and Steve rearranged the patio furniture so he could (somewhat more) discreetly spy on Pamela and her pink miniskirt as she arrived with a retinue of handlers.

As the evening approached, the beach began to fill up with marines and wives and girlfriends and rough looking young men from Oceanside who must have gotten on base thanks to buddies who had enlisted. We wandered unchallenged for the most part behind the scene, ambling past Clint Black's dressing room to see him pacing and waiting his turn (The other family who was at the beach with us, a couple with a neat 9 year-old boy named Luke, went up to him and had Luke's picture taken with Black. They said he was very nice).

The kids were put off by the sheer volume and crowds, so after a brief tour of the concert-grounds with them, my folks and Steve and I took turns sitting in the cabin and attending the concert. I really liked Snoop Dogg's performance -- he archly performed an undoubtedly cleaned up version of his rapper persona; I thought he was very charming and engaging and gave it his all, which impressed me. Janet Jackson came across as very professional and dedicated to her craft as well, rehearsing several times before the performance.

The music went on for hours and ended with a small fireworks show that I was too exhausted to stay awake for, even though it exploded right above our cove.

Most performers left as soon as their set was over and the roadies began tearing things down in the wee hours of the morning. We checked out on Friday and headed back to Fallbrook, exhausted but thrilled by our backstage pass.

After too-brief visits with some California friends, the kids and I flew back to Colorado (while Steve drove the Echo home) and we have spent the last week settling in, enjoying warm spring weather and gardening like fiends.

I feel pressed to get everything in since the growing season's so short, but I'm definitely running out of steam. We do have the two strawberry beds, the raspberry bushes and the fruit trees that we put in before we left, and now we have a big bed of onions and two beds of peppers, zukes, beets and melons, and a line of sugar snap peas growing. our winter bed is getting long in the tooth, though the bok choi was fabulous and the spinach and lettuce are still producing. Nobody's eating the radishes though and the carrots weren't thinned enough so they're still tiny. Oh, and I let the broccoli rabe go to seed because I couldn't figure out when exactly to harvest it.

I'll try to get some green beans in and a few more melons in before I give up and turn my energies to weed control, and I bought Steve some tomato plants that he'll get in the ground soon, along with the other grape vine he bought before he left.

I can envision so much more growing, but it'll have to be next year and the year after that perhaps!

Some vacation photos, which you can click on to enlarge:
A starfish my dad found dried out on the bay, which we successfully revived by returning it to the water.















Here's Blind Melon rehearsing the morning of the concert. Note the uniquely Marine Corps stage set!















Janet Jackson, rehearsing again the day of the concert. I filmed this from our patio, so the sounds a bit off as we're behind the speakers...
video








The seagull we saved, a day before we realized why it was so easy to get so close to it, poor thing...



















Maddie and Steve made some crazy sand swirls on our empty stretch of cove...














Famous neighbors



















Here's our piece d'resistance, which, like all the others, did not stand the test of time and tide. Our cabin is in the background with the red chairs. Pamela's is just to the left of it. One building over was Jessica S. and the Girlicious dancers, and Clint's was another building to the left of them.

















The proud fishergirl and her grandfather!


















My new favorite pop music artist...

















A couple of shots of Snoop Dogg's performance