Posted in Baking, positive directions

Make the world better

I have written before that my life was always “half a block away.”  We lived half a block from a very affluent neighborhood, and the geographical distance was a metaphor for so many aspects of my life.

One of those areas was obviously money.  While my “other side of the street” friends had parents who drove them to school, I walked or paid my own bus fare.  They bought lots of new back to school clothes every fall.  Many of them were given cars when they turned 16, and so on.

As children on the wrong side of the street, we were given an allowance, just so we had money.  It was $1/week.  It wasn’t a lot, but my parents wanted us to understand the connection between work and income.  We had money making opportunities, which were chores with a choice.

shirt-iron-8-front Continue reading “Make the world better”

Posted in Uncategorized

Mango and avocado salsa

This salsa post made me so very happy this morning.

foodbycamilla

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Salsa is one of my favourite things to make in the summer months. Salsa is a fantastic condiment, especially when it’s homemade, it’s fresh and bursting with flavors.Salsa is the perfect accompaniment to any summer dish. Salsa is also versatile and can be used for much more than just tortilla chips. This colourful  mango and avocado salsa is easy and fun to make! Mango and avocado pairs so well. The combination of mango, avocado, lime, onion, chilli and cilantro, is sweet, spicy and absolutely delicious.Serve this colourful salsa with grilled fish or chicken.This salsa not only works as a topping for tortilla chips,  but also as an incredible filling for wraps and tacos, as a substitute for the traditional tomato- based salsa. This salsa can also be served in a salad. My personal favourite is this mango and avocado salsa, served with grilled salmon and quinoa.

Ingredients: ( makes a medium bowl…

View original post 73 more words

Posted in Desserts, Humor

Things I learned while painting

Brush-Paint-Pantene-400x250Painting is like going to the bathroom.

No, it’s not a relief.  Far from it.  Painting echoes toileting inasmuch as the instant you are perched precariously on the ladder, hoping the paint doesn’t splatter on the floor below, the phone rings.  Of course as soon as you have descended, put the brush down somewhere other than on top of your pashmina and trotted to the phone, they have hung up.  That is if you’re lucky.

This being an election year, should you pick up, the possibility exists that a robotic voice you can totally trust, exhorts you to vote for this or that candidate, for or against a ballot measure or just reminds you that if you don’t share their opinion, you are pond scum. ……. Best to stay on the ladder.

Synchronized Swimming is good training for detail painting.

Continue reading “Things I learned while painting”

Posted in Breakfast, I didn't know I could do that, Solutions

Technology is great

We have a friend.  He has a wife.  His wife is a compulsive TV shopper; she likes to shop but doesn’t necessarily ever use her purchases.  In some cases, we are the lucky recipients of her impulsive credit card waving.  She shops, we enjoy.  Everyone is happy.

One of the first things we received from our friend was an electric pressure cooker.  It’s an entry level pot – none of the fancy “push one button and forget it” types of things, but a hugely useful device nonetheless.  The handle sports a wrapping of purple electrical tape to protect my hands.  There is a notch in the handle because the first time I used it, I didn’t secure it properly and, at temperature, it went shooting across the room.  A slightly dinged handle was one of the better potential outcomes, and I am grateful.

Last week I did a pulled pork in it, which was widely praised at our neighborhood picnic for its tenderness.  Pressure cookers excel at tender, but today I want to extol its virtues on another cooking problem – fresh eggs.

If you buy your eggs at the local Shop till you Drop Emporium, you have your choice of several types of eggs ranging from basic white from the massive chicken farm, to the brown eggs (also from the chicken farm, but they’re brown so you think they’re better) to the “cage free” and organic cage free at top dollar.  The one thing all the options have in common is the length of time from hen to store; generally by the time STYD (Shop till you Drop) puts them on their shelf, they are at least 10 days old.

The great news is, eggs last a long time.  They are designed to be kept warm for 3 weeks while the mother broods over them, till they hatch the cutest little things you’ve ever seen.  Really, they’re adorable.  Your 10 day old eggs are quite fine.

Do you know how to test to see if an egg has gone bad?  Put it in a bowl of water.  If it floats, throw it away.  When the egg is laid, there is an air sac formed.  As it ages, the sac fills with air and when there is enough air to float, the egg is old.

All this is interesting and delightful reading, you say, but why an electric pressure cooker and eggs?

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From Pinterest – photo credit unknown

So the issue is with some fresher store bought eggs, but especially if you’ve sought out local small farm eggs.  The shell adheres quite well to the freshly laid protective inner membrane and makes peeling a hard boiled egg a pain in the patoot!   For those who enjoy fresh eggs, you probably know not to contemplate a platter of deviled eggs with the whites unscathed by the peeling process.  Until now.

Enter the pressure cooker.  The difference between the altered atmospheric pressure and simply boiling an egg is that the membrane breaks down in the pressure.  I swear to you, your eggs will peel perfectly and evenly every time.  Cross my heart and hope to smell like Sulphur.

Easy Peasy Egg Peeling

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: absurdly easy
  • Print

Place as many eggs as you would like into your pressure cooker.  Cover them with cold water.

Place the lid on and set the timer for 5 minutes.  The timer begins its countdown when pressure is achieved, so the 5 minutes is cook time under pressure.  Depending on how many eggs and the associated amount of water, it can take an additional 5-10 minutes before the timer begins.

As soon as the 5 minutes under pressure have passed, release the pressure by opening the quick release valve.  Keep your fingers away because there will be a lot of hot steam coming out quickly.  Open the lid and transfer the eggs to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

When cool, hit the egg several times against a hard surface to crack the shell, then marvel as the perfect hard boiled egg slides out of its protective casing.

You’re welcome!

Posted in Challenges

A small stone

Rose and Xubie June 2011I have written about my friend Ava, who raises grass fed beef and lamb.  If you’ve read anything I have written about her, you know that she cares passionately about the health and well being of farmed animals, and runs her ranch firmly on those ideals.

In January a large portion of their livestock was seized and Ava and her partner Ross were charged with animal negligence.  They have not been to trial or had guilt established, but a special prosecutor brought a civil case against them, seeking forfeiture of their animals.

I will let you read about their case in her own words, but know that I am posting this because the implications for Ava’s ranch are dire, but equally important, are the ranches and farms of hundreds of other small agriculture producers.  You see, if any of the specious charges stick (which all the evidence points to them being innocent), case law is established and will affect ranchers both large and small.

Why are they going after Ava?  Because, most importantly, small ranches do not have the financial wherewithal to weather an extended legal battle.  When SmallRanchA throws their hands up and allows for a default judgment, it is a much easier victory than having to go after TexasSizedBeefProducts, Inc, who have legal defense teams and huge budgets.  The default judgment then allows attorneys to go after Bob’sSmallRanch and then Sue’sSmallGoatFarm and Herb’sLambandPorkPlace, using the law obtained because SmallRanchA couldn’t put up an adequate fight.

So is this an isolated incident and Ava is really actually a habitual animal abuser and worthy of 50 lashes and hot boiling oil?  Absolutely not.  This is happening all over the country to small farms and ranches to the extent there is an activist group which has formed to publicize and fight the growing attempts by [insert villain here] to shut down small agriculture.  Farm to Consumer Legal Defense fund (http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/) is involved in thousands of these cases, and I applaud their efforts.  They are able to help, but only so much and only so quickly.

Right now, today, Ava and Ross are waiting on the judge’s decision on the forfeiture hearing.  The judge has indicated they may have to put up a bond for their animals which could be as much as $100,000.  They have already exhausted everything they have to get this far and are urgently asking for help.

Will you be a small stone, helping David to take on Goliath?  Any contributions help.  The pledgie site went up yesterday and there is already over $1500 pledged for their fight.  Will you help?  Anything is appreciated.

Will you also pass this on to your social media contacts?  We need a groundswell of people who value the hard work small farmers and ranchers put in, so our food is wholesome and nourishing.  If there were 100,000 people willing to give $1, the goal would be met.  If they were willing to give $10, we would only need 10,000!  It’s a worthy goal, it’s attainable and it is URGENT.

Read Ava’s story/donate here:  https://pledgie.com/campaigns/29403

Ava’s blog is here: http://raparadiseranch.blogspot.com/  She hasn’t updated it in a couple of years, but it shows her heart and conviction on well raised animals.

You can connect with her on Facebook:  Ava Denton

Posted in Health, positive directions

Things left behind

Facebook is an arguably great tool for keeping in touch with other people. It is also an enormous time sucker, with promoted content and lots of links by well meaning acquaintances, which can occupy you until the trumpets sound and Jesus comes in the clouds. You know what I mean, don’t you?

Skinny mirrorToday, I was sucked into an interesting article about what a woman missed when she lost over half her original body weight. It is a very articulate list of unforeseen consequences and well worth the read, if only to shed insight into the thoughts of people more or less adiposely enabled than you.

Before you think, “well I am not really interested in what fatty has to say,” know that the author is now a personal trainer and contributor to a website devoted to fitness, nutrition and health.

Posted in Britain, Pickles, Vegetables

Swede is not necessarily a nationality designator

We used to have chickens.  We loved our chickens.  Our new neighbor who bought a house behind us loved our chickens.  Her granddaughters would come and play with them and she thought that was marvelous.

The granddaughters moved out-of-state, and some of the charm of chickens fell away as well.

The neighbor came over one day and told us the chickens were causing flies to congregate in her breezeway and we needed to do something about it. Reluctantly we gave all our chickens to a feed store to re-sell.  We turned over the ground, gave it several good coatings of lime and declared it to be a chicken free zone.

About 3 weeks later a knock on the door and a card in the hand identified the health inspector.  The neighbor had seen no improvement, grown even more weary of the flies and had pulled in the heavy hitters.  I took the inspector to view where the chickens had been.  She observed, sniffed, made notes and said, “I don’t see what else you could have done.  It all looks good to me,” and off she trundled to report to the neighbor. A little while later she came back, knocking again on the door to follow-up.  While she was speaking with the neighbor, she did notice an inordinate amount of flies, but doing a little investigation, she pointed out if the neighbor would clean up the messes her dog left in her own backyard, the flies might not be as big a problem.  Oops, with a side of “Is my face red?” Continue reading “Swede is not necessarily a nationality designator”

Posted in Meats

Paint it Black

Seattle rain - KOMO newsToday is a no watering day.  After several weeks of lovely summer weather, Seattle’s upper atmosphere scrubber has arrived to bestow droplets of water with dust and pollution clinging to them, onto our grateful lawns and gardens.  Tomorrow, the bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle will become a reality once more.  I know, with a title of Paint it Black, you were expecting the Rolling Stones.  Maybe next time. 

The rain woke me up.  Apparently the cries of the parched ground urged the incoming weather system to speed its advance and ferocity.  And the cats are not happy about it.  Finicky creatures, they prefer being dry, so will eschew the great out of doors, with the myriad of trees on which to sharpen their claws, choosing instead to make toothpicks out of our door frames. Continue reading “Paint it Black”

Posted in Sauces

There are 10 kinds of people

Ten… those who understand binary and those who don’t.* Do not despair if you do not understand the title and first line.  Keep reading and all will be revealed at the bottom.  If you did chuckle, well done!

Actually there are 2 kinds of people in the US:  Mayonnaise people and Miracle Whip† people.  Oh sure, most people in public pretend to be mayonnaise people, as it is ubiquitous in restaurant settings, but in private, where it counts, there are those who will not eat an after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich with anything but Miracle Whip. I don’t even need you to think about what type of person you are, you were way ahead of me in self-identifying in the last paragraph, right?

Growing up, we were a Miracle Whip family.  I loved Miracle Whip.  Really.  It was a source of much parental discontent, in the same way I took baths which were too frequent and too warm.  After I left for college it became a joke.  My parents would take the Miracle Whip jar and mark the line indicating the amount of remaining product.  When I returned at the next break, the majority of the remaining white goodness would still be there.  Following my visit, there was usually a new jar purchased and a new demarcation line. Continue reading “There are 10 kinds of people”

Posted in family, Meats, Pickles, Solutions

Taking out frustrations

Cheese mutilationMy mother bought me a book when I was a teenager.  It was her way of talking to me directly about an uncomfortable subject.  She had taught me that in polite conversation, you don’t talk about politics, religion or sex.

The book was not about religion or politics. Continue reading “Taking out frustrations”