Christmas 2009

One of the many amazing things my new camera does is take really nice photos in the dark, without a flash. This is great. Here’s one from Christmas Eve, looking out the window of JeJu in Fort Collins, where my dad and I had sushi.

Salmon and tuna sashimi, and a rainbow roll. I would support Christmas Eve sushi becoming a permanent tradition.

After quite a few years of dog-less Christmases, we were pretty well inundated with dogs this year. This is Annabelle, a friend’s dog who spent the week with me, with my dad and sister:

And of course Clementine, my favorite canine photo subject:

Clemmie moves at the speed of light during most waking hours, which poses a challenge to any photographer. Sometimes she will hold still for 1/60th of a second, which is luckily just the amount of time a shutter needs to be open for an indoor photo.

And then there’s Z’nah and Cooper, who have proven to be pretty much useless at any sort of watch-dogging:

And finally, the non-canine crowd:

Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 4:15 pm  Comments (3)  

Holiday Ornaments

There were some fantastic new ornaments on the tree this year. Here are a few of my favorites.

The aardvark:

A hand-blown glass ball:

An adorable robot:

A metal pheasant:

A whole bunch of folded cranes, which my sister sent to me a few years ago when I was in Portland:

A tent:

And some nicely reflective red balls:

Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Breakfast at Lucky’s

Rebekah’s birthday brunch at Lucky’s Cafe in NoBo (Broadway and Quince).

We had the privilege of dining under Elvis.

Blueberry pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream.

My banana-walnut pancakes.

Thanks to rigorous training by our father throughout childhood, my sister and I are quite accomplished pancake-eaters.

Published in: on December 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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G(h)ee wiz!

Last fall, I learned how to make healthy butter.  Ghee has many beneficial properties, which you can read about here.  It is also delicious. Marzilla likes it in her oatmeal.  I like using large quantities of it to make scrambled eggs, and fried eggs, and anything in a pan on the stove, because it doesn’t burn like regular butter.  And it’s delicious.

Here is how to make ghee.  Take a package of unsalted butter – I like to use four sticks, because that’s how much my ghee jar holds – and put it in a saucepan.  I learned that pyrex is the best, if you can find a pyrex saucepan (which I can’t), or stainless steel with a heavy bottom.  I think it’s mostly just important not to use anything coated with a non-stick substance, like teflon.  So I use a metal (sticky! *gasp*) saucepan, because that’s what we have around here:

Unsalted butterNext, you want to melt the butter without burning it. Because all of the knobs on my stove are upside down, this means I turn the dial to off.  Which theoretically equals medium heat.  I keep a close eye on the melting butter, and turn it down a bit if it seems to be getting too hot.

Melting butterOnce all the butter is melted, turn the heat down to medium-low (between 7-8 on my special stove, or 2-3 on your normal stove).  It should be making little bubbles, and big burps once in a while, but not burning!

Simmering butterIt should cook like this for about 40 minutes.  Now, I have not entirely mastered this part yet.  According to other ghee makers on the internet, the ghee should get foamy, then the foam should dissipate, then come back again much thicker and heavier.  I have yet to see this happen in such a straightforward manner.  I think that’s ok.  My ghee is still delicious.  The goal is to cook away all the water, and have the milk solids settled on the bottom and also floating on the top.  The ghee should be nice and clear, and bright yellow.  The foam on top may be sort of golden and crusty looking:

Crusty foamNext, you want to pour the ghee through some sort of straining device (I use a coffee filter or cheesecloth nestled in a colander, or conical tea strainer) and into a clean jar.  I take the precaution of warming the jar up first, because I learned that pouring hot liquids in cold glass jars makes them explode!  Which is exciting, but then you lose your hot liquid.  Before pouring the ghee through the strainer, some people scoop the crusty foam off the top – taking care not to mix it back in.  I’ve done it both ways, and scooping the foam seems to just make the straining go faster as it doesn’t get clogged as quickly.

Straining the gheeSet your jar of ghee in a safe place to cool overnight, without the lid on.

Cooling ghee

Depending on the temperature of your house (and some other factors I have yet to figure out) your ghee may or may not become a nice yellowish solid.  Sometimes my ghee is sort of grainy and liquidy, sometimes it’s completely liquid (when my apartment is in its burning inferno mode), and sometimes it’s solid, like I feel it should be.  Part of the wonder of ghee is that it does not need to be refridgerated – no concrete butter effect!  Use it on toast, in oatmeal, for sauteing, or any sort of cooking that you would normally use butter.  Yum.

Published in: on April 29, 2009 at 6:57 pm  Comments (2)  

One thing I learned on my vacation

Ok, I would like you to imagine a few things.  First, picture a nice big plate of cashew chicken, like what you can get at a Chinese restaurant.  Next, imagine a big bag of cashews, on the shelf at the grocery store, next to many other bags of cashews.  Think about the size of a cashew, and how long it takes to eat one.  Or ten.  Now, look at this:


This is a cashew, still in its shell.  One cashew.  This is how big it is, in my hand:

Cashew in my hand

And here is a bowl of cashew fruits.  The nut is in its shell, at the top of the fruit.  One nut per fruit:

Bowl of cashews

This bowl of cashew fruits would yield about ten cashew nuts.  Which I could probably eat in a minute (or maybe 20 seconds if I was trying).  Now imagine your cashew chicken dish again, and the bags of cashews in the grocery store.  Picture each of those cashews inside their shell, attached to the fruit… and think of all the other people eating cashew chicken, and buying bags of cashews at the grocery store.  That is a heck of a lot of plant matter for one little nut.

The cashew fruit is edible, if one is determined to eat it, but the shell contains toxins and should not be eaten.  The fruit makes your mouth feel dry and sticky, like eating a green banana, and the flavor is extremely tart.  Once you get past the tough skin, the inside is full of a very watery juice – which can be pretty enjoyable in 100 degree heat.

I’m still trying to figure out how the heck there is enough space in the world to produce all the cashews I’ve encountered in my life.

Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 9:43 am  Comments (4)  


This has been circling my brainwaves a lot lately:

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

It’s one of my favorite stanzas from “Desiderata,” and has been a really nice meditation lately.

Another meditation I could benefit from contemplating more often:

Try to be

more like the dog.

The Dog

Cooper, zen master.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 21, 2009 at 11:09 am  Comments (2)  

Of yak and other loves.

My knitting and spinning habits have gotten a bit out of control lately.  I finished the hemlock ring blanket, I just need to block it so the edges don’t curl.

Hemlock ring blanket

Hemlock ring blanket

Hemlock ring blanket

Hemlock ring blanket

And here are four skeins of yarn I spun recently:

My lovely sister gave me this fiber (from the Estes Park wool market).

My lovely sister gave me this fiber (from the Estes Park wool market).

I'm not sure what I did with the tag for this one.  I think it might be merino...

I'm not sure what I did with the tag for this one. I think it might be merino...

This came from a wool market in Canby, OR.  Handyed by Abstract Fiber, in Portland.

This came from a wool market in Canby, OR. Handyed by Abstract Fiber, in Portland.

This is 50/50 brown yak and merino.  Naturally dyed by Tactile, a fiber arts studio in Napa, CA.

This is 50/50 brown yak and merino. Naturally dyed by Tactile, a fiber arts studio in Napa, CA.

Published in: on February 8, 2009 at 10:30 am  Comments (3)  

Dooooooowntoooooooooown… things that are funny

Illicit blogging-while-“working,” eep!

Note: it’s entirely possible that the following things were so utterly amusing to me due to the complete lack of mental stimulation during the four preceding  hours at my desk.

While doing lunch-break errands this afternoon, I saw two things that induced instant giggles.  First, on the way to the post office, two blocks from my office, there was a man on the corner playing his homemade drum set – consisting of the usual buckets and bottles, and also a BIKE RACK!!  The bike rack had apparently been unscrewed from the pavement (a little disconcerting that this is possible), to become a portable component of the drum set.  Imagine something like this:

Plus this:

City of Portland bike rack

City of Portland bike rack

 Any potentially illegal aspects aside, this is one of the more awesome things I have seen downtown.  He was completely rocking out.

Next gigglefest encounter… this sort of bicycle:


Ok, not exactly this bicycle... but this is what Google thought I was talking about, which is equally hilarious.

Ok, not exactly this bicycle... but this is what Google thought I was talking about, which is equally hilarious.

With this sticker:

This is funny for many reasons, primarily because it is such a hipster thing to have that bike plus that sticker.  Silly.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 28, 2009 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Whole Lot of Awesome (AKA sauerkraut)

Today Mahria and I made a new (to us) kind of crock-pot stew.  It’s called “Hunter’s Stew,” and I learned about it from one of the three cookbooks I got for Christmas – A Tale of Twelve Kitchens, by Jake Tilson.  Into the crockpot went:

  • A whole lot of sauerkraut
  • A whole lot of red cabbage
  • A WHOLE lot of buttery, sauteed onions
  • Italian sausages
  • Mushrooms
  • Two chopped apples
  • Ten pitted prunes
  • Chicken stock and red wine

It simmered for about nine hours, and was…. awesome.   We ate the stew with a loaf of beer-walnut bread from the bakery around the corner from my office (which I patronize most days, given the amazingness – aka butter content – of their croissants).  Beyond containing both prunes and sauerkraut and still being delicious, I am fascinated with this stew because it apparently is best about a week after it’s made.  AND, also awesome, you can continually add more ingredients as the days go on – bacon (#1 on my list to toss in the pot), random meat bits, veggies, more sauerkraut, etc etc.  Obviously, this is my new favorite source of nutrients.

And now for a photo montage of some of the more interesting components of my stew (photos courtesy of the Internet):


Red Cabbage!

Red Cabbage!

Mushrooms! Or one really big mushroom!

Mushrooms! Or one really big mushroom!

Italian Sausage!

Italian Sausage!





Red Wine!

Red Wine!

It has become apparent that the Internet is greatly lacking inspirational photos of both chicken stock and sauteed onions, and has an incredible abundance of prune photography.

Published in: on January 22, 2009 at 9:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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Me Llamo Llama (y te amo)

It’s probably best to start this conversation with a song (please, just click the link, and don’t forget to turn up the volume).

Now that you know all about llamas, I can tell you about my knitting project.  I am knitting the infamous (on the Internet, everybody knows about it) Hemlock Ring blanket.  Adapted from a 1942 vintage lace doily pattern by (the also infamous) Jared Flood / Brooklyntweed, the blanket is made using bulky yarn and larger needles, and has many additional rows of a feather and fan pattern to increase the final size.  Jared’s beautifully photographed blanket here, his add-on chart here.

I’m knitting my blanket using pea-green baby llama yarn.  Awesome.

Hemlock Ring Blanket

Hemlock Ring blanket, knit with Elsebeth Lavold's Peruvian bably llama yarn.

If you plan on joining the massive clan of Hemlock Ring blanket knitters you should know that Row 35 ends with a knit 1, contrary to the written pattern.  I did a lot of pondering over this row, before turning to the Hemlock Ring Knitalong (yep, one word) Yahoo group for clues (the issue was immediately resolved, these people know what’s up).   You should also know that I somehow ended up short a couple stitches on Row 37, or shortly after, which means either my counting got off somewhere (likely), or the pattern for an earlier row is slightly off.  I would like to blame Row 35.  Whatever the cause – which I was unable to discern even after much long division and multiplication combined – I solved the issue by making two stitches in the next row.  It’s lace, a couple more holes shouldn’t matter.

Published in: on January 6, 2009 at 8:45 pm  Comments (3)  
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