Saturday, August 27, 2011

Game of Vikings, Game of Wood

We made some sets of Kubb. One for my sister and one for the Steele cabin. Also known as viking chess, its a game where you throw wooden dowels and knock over wooden blocks. Its a fine, fine lawn game introduced to us by some fine, fine folks out East. We thought we'd introduce it out West and gain fame and notoriety that way. So we started with some blocks we had cut.

We sanded them down.

Sand, sand...
Sand 'em down good.

Real good.
And then painted them. Here is our second set in progress. Sadly, somehow, we didn't get a shot of the final product with the awesome design Heather made for it. The blue and orange were very striking with astylized leaf design we put on it.



Here's the first set I tried my hand on. For my Moose-loving sister.


Kubb in action. Game of warriors and seafarers.

Too fast to see sometimes...



The sound of the dowell knocking the kubb is so satisfying.

Definitely a game where you don't want to get behind.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Much Better Blog

Check out one of my other blogs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bread

She kept saying "bread is forgiving," as she mixed the ingredients with her hands. Calling for more flour. Getting her husband to heat the honey/molasses mixture. She was blind, but she still made bread every week, and was teaching us her special recipe. Trying her recipe on my own, I hoped it was true.

I had to change some things. We were almost out of white flour, so it was going to be mainly wheat instead of mainly white. I was halving it too, and realized only once I'd finished the dough that we'd stopped taking notes once the dough was done, so I didn't know how long to cook it or at what temperature. I hadn't really expected to get past the "add flour until it's just right" part of the recipe though, so what's a couple botches more or less?

Not that I'm horrible at bread, but it seems so hit and miss. Such a mystery. Like when to use a comma. I remember deciding to make some Challa bread as a teenager and it went gangbusters. But I had a friend with some whipped butter on hand to garnish the top which really helped. I tried again a couple years ago thinking it'd go perfect with some lemon curd I was attempting, but the yeast didn't rise. The recipe said to put the yeast in warm water, but my definition of "warm" didn't match the yeast's. It was a dismal. I have since learned that "warm" means as hot as it'll come out of most taps.

So it was with a mixture of apprehension in past attempts, new knowledge of my old foe, and faith in my mentor's attitude about bread that I approached this new recipe.

It was wonderful. It turns out that tasting delicious buttered and be-jam-ed bread that I made myself is one of life's really sweet moments. Couldn't get over it all night.

And it wasn't a fluke. My second batch was just as good. Or better?!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Love vs. Hate


A week ago we got 20 lbs of Fresh, New Jersey blueberries. They're coming out our ears, and they're awesome. We've been putting them on and everything we can think of. This morning we're low on cereal--cause blueberries are awesome on cereal--and I was thinking of what else I might make for a fancier breakfast that could include blueberries... blueberry oatmeal!?!

Now, I hate oatmeal. I really hate it. No matter how many times I've tried it, it is always the foulest mess of pottage. Other than partially rotted soybeans covered in raw eggs, mustard, and soy sauce, I don't know if there's anything I'd rather eat less. My childhood was largely spent trying to avoid choking down my mother's oatmeal. Gagging on it when I had to. Trying to disguise the taste with heavily jammed toast and silently crying when the toast ran out before the oatmeal. (Nothing against Mom. She loved the stuff and was just trying to feed 10 kids.) But I hated it. And if I avoided it at breakfast, fine, but then that's lunch. Not having it for lunch? Well, by the time dinner came, it was a cold, gelatinous chunk of gag that I was going to eat if I was going to eat anything. I never tried to see if my parents would hold to their guns across multiple days, but those nights alone in the clean kitchen eating the last bowl were bitter indeed. Sigh. Anyway, in spite of my mother's many many attempts, I never got used to it. Hate it still.

But I LOVE blueberries! Big, juicy, plump, full of antioxidant blueberries are awesome in shakes, on cereal, in pies, in jam, in cakes, in muffins, in waffles--in tons of stuff I love, the blueberries make it better. I remember driving home from Yellowstone one year through Idaho and stopping at every--EVERY--road-side huckleberry stand we saw. I never got sick of it.

This is the first time I have ever been excited to make oatmeal. I looked up a recipe online, ignored the orange zest it called for and got to work throwing salt, cinnamon, honey into the oatmeal. I was extremely self-satisfied with myself for this awesome idea and kept wondering why my mom had never thought of doing something this delightful with oatmeal. Maybe because it was zucchinis and apricots coming out our ears instead of blueberries in which case I'm extremely grateful she didn't come up with throwing in whatever surplus plant we had on hand. But I was feeling like a champ. This was gonna turn everything around. The oatmeal was nice and creamy. The blueberries and broken a bit and everything was turning a nice blue. This was going to be the exact opposite of every oatmeal I'd ever had. Redemption by blueberry.

I took a bite. It... tasted like oatmeal. I added some brown sugar, made sure I got a blueberry in there. The blueberry was great. A burst of warm, sweet flavor. Took another bite. Missed a blueberry. Meh. It's kind of a draw. Though maybe a win for blueberry since I am finishing the bowl. I'm not hating this oatmeal. I just don't love it. Which is a huge improvement from hate.

It's certainly not the bluebegeddon I was hoping for, but making oatmeal palatable is no small feat. And I'm willing to try this again with some recipe modification or perhaps a new recipe.

Also to try: Blueberry Grits, Zucchini Grits (grits are to me as oatmeal is to my mom).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fireflies


We got back from Utah recently. It was great to be there, and I was really missing the mountains, family, friends, and how close everything is when we were driving to collect 20 lbs of blueberries and there were fireflies EVERYWHERE. Really. Every field we passed had swarms of fireflies. It was awesome. One point for PA.

My attempt to capture the magic... can you see them?

The fields of bioluminescent magic made me wonder whether fireflies--or lightning bugs as I keep calling them in my head--are as fascinating and grotesque as glow worms. They're no more abominable than you're average bug, but evolution and development have created an ironic tragedy for them.

Today I'm at the library and checking out some old National Geographics and happened upon a picture of a jar full of fireflies with a short bit about how the firefly is in decline. All over the world they think populations are falling although they're only starting to keep a tally. They think loss of habitat and light polution are the main culprits. I think of a lone firefly looking for that elusive love and losing him or her amid the distant flashing of headlights, business signs, and bright parking lots.

With firefly populations in decline, China is of course working on a replacement.

Not sure how PA's population of fireflies is compared to the past, but it's lovely to see.

Here's a video which I couldn't tell if it was catching them. But it did a bit. Gives you some idea.
video

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Macbeth


Three witches tell the warrior Thane
That King Macbeth cannot be slain
He kills the King;
His fortunes swing.
Birnam Wood to Dunsinane.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Limerick Shakes Part 1

It's been a good long time, and I've been wanting to blog but wondering what about until I got this itch to do all of Shakespeare's plays in Limerick form. Was going to tweet them, but they're just a tad longer than tweets allow. So we'll try them here.

Hamlet

There once was a rotting in Denmark
Which turned the Prince's mood dark.
The ghost told Ham
of his Uncle's scam,
Meanwhile Poland annexes Denmark.

Ok, so I used Denmark twice, but they both rhyme with Dark.