Sunday, April 30, 2017

Following the Great British Baking Show - Swiss Rolls

I have been inspired to bake. This all started when watching the Great British Baking Show that dropped on Netflix recently. Watching the first challenge of the first episode of the first season on PBS - Swiss Rolls, something in my brain said "Hey, I want to do that!". So, with the help of my friend Nancee, we organized a Swiss Roll cooking and eating day. Then I discovered that for almost every episode, there was some baked creation I wanted to try - sometime mundane things like English Muffins, but more often the most outrageous items like - Princess Cake and Wind Torte. So I decided that I am going to take this inspiration and learn to be a better baker by baking through the episodes of the show.

I know, food blogs have been around for years now, and I would be surprised if what I have to offer provides anything earth-shatteringly new to the game. Then again, my blog is my personal diary than it is anything else, so the world will have to somehow manage with more electrons and bytes devoted to pictures of delicious baked goods.

I am not sure what exactly about Swiss Rolls that caught my imagination - the simple, but tricky sponge, the myriad of flavors and fillings that can be used, the wonderful swirls in the finished product. Most likely, it is a combination of all three.

Nancee and I choose different flavors for our Swiss Rolls - mine chocolate and orange, hers pistachio and cardamon. I was terribly nervous about getting the sponge right, and getting the roll pretty, and making ganache (which I had never done before).
But in the end, it turned out very delicious.

And since then I have made another chocolate Swiss Roll.

And now that I know what I am doing and inspired by all the possible flavor combinations, I see many more Swiss Rolls in my future.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Photo of the Day: Apetalous

The flower of the Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), is the state tree of Missouri. The flowers are apetalous(i.e. lacking petals). The showy part of the flower, just beginning to unfold here, is actually the sepals, not the petals. The Missouri Department of Conservation has more information about the flowering dogwood. 

Three other dogwood species are native to Missouri: Rough-leaf Dogwood, Alternative Dogwood, and Gray Dogwood. They aren't as showy as the flowering dogwood, but are still beautiful plants. And while we think of dogwoods as understory forest trees, the Rough Dogwoods is actually found in prairies, old-fields, and other open areas.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Photo of the Day: Catkins

I love catkins! The name, the way the dangle like jewelry from the branches of the tree, their cylindricalness. However, being wind-pollinated flowers, catkins are also a vehicle of suffering for people with spring allergies.

Global climate change is expected to increase pollen allergies world-wide in two ways. (1) By extending the growing season in temperate climates, it provides plants with more time to produce pollen. (2) More CO2 in the atmosphere means bigger plants (remember the basic photosynthesis equation? CO2 + Water (in the presence of sunlight and chlorophyll) = sugars + O2. Just think of sugars as more plant mass, and you get the picture. Of course, it isn't exactly that simple but then, nothing in ecology is.

If you are interested, you can read this blog post by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

and here is a link to primary research about the expand in pollen season for Ragweed in NA.

#climatechangeisreal #savetheepa #savetheusda#factbasedrealityforthewin #catkinsrock

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

DeVoss Debacle

Well, the Republicans in the Senate just voted in the most unqualified candidate for Secretary of Education. Their votes were bought and they sold out the American children. They should be ashamed. And they should be worried....people are angry. They may, for now, tell themselves, that those calling are not real constituents. That those protesting are being paid from some unknown, and very wealthy entity. They can fool themselves into thinking their positions are safe. 

And what can we do?
We can vote them out of office. 
We can keep the pressure on until they are forced to hear us.

2018 - 8 Republican Senators are up for reelection. 
Keep these names in mind. Work to oppose them and support the candidates who run against them - be it more moderate Republicans in the primary or Dems in the general election. 

If you haven't paid attention to Kansas in 2016 - many conservative Republicans were voted out of office at the primary in favor of moderate Republicans. If you haven't paid attention to KS - guess what the main issues was for this was Education. 

These 8 Senators must be the focus - vote them out of office. Let them know that the future of America's children is not for sale.  

Roger Wicker - Mississippi 
Deb Fisher - Nebraska 
Bob Corker - Tennessee
Dean Heiler - Neveda
Ted Cruz - Texas
Orrin Hatch - Utah
John Barrosso - Wyoming 
Jeff Flake - Arizona 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Words have Meaning File: Massacre

Massacre: an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people.

When I was 8 or 9, I read the "Little House" book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, not uncommon for girls my age at the time. In one of the books, they are talking about a massacre that happened in a nearby town. At that age, I was privileged enough to not know massacre meant. I did, however, know the word mascara, and this is how my child's brain interpreted that passage.

I knew this wasn't right, that it didn't make sense, but I was 8 and just kept reading. It wasn't until I was a few years older re-reading the books that I understood.

Yesterday, Kellyanne "Alternative Facts" Conway, complained how no one talked about "Bowling Green Massacre" as she used it as justification for the EO banning Muslims from 7 countries. Of course no one talks about it, it never happened. Two men were arrested on terrorism charges, but there was no massacre, no one was shot or hurt.

However on Jan. 29th, 2017, a White, Nationalistic Canadian - Alexandre Bissonnette - massacred 6 people in their place of worship, while injuring another 19. Why aren't we talking about what we are going to do to keep us safe from radicalized white neo-nazi's? Oh right...because they are running the White House right now. They are blatantly lying to the American public to further their own self-interests.

Remember - words have meanings and those meanings are powerful regardless if they are used correctly or if they are misused.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Starting with a small change

About a month ago, I had a Monday off of work. Before I got out of bed, I had decided I would rearrange my bedroom that day. And I did - almost everything found a new place: the bookcase, one dresser, the bed. I removed a lot of the extraneous clutter from the room (just,,,don't look in the guest room yet). It felt good. I needed a change. This new arrangement of furniture resulted in a nice chunk of open floor space.

The change in the room itself is most important in that it has been a catalyst for other, better, changes in my life. I had fallen into some bad habits. Waking up and going straight to the computer to check Facebook was the worst offender. I wanted to create new habits. So, I told myself I would make up the bed every morning. Before I did anything else (morning trip to the restroom excluded), I would make up my bed. And I have, never to perfection, but done. I also made a place for a hamper, a place for dirty cloths to live. I know - as an adult of my age, these are things that I should have already been doing. But, the past couple of years have been tough, and the events of those years drug me down to a dark place. In that place, I didn't care about things like made-up bed and dirty clothes in a hamper. In that place, getting out of bed and putting clothes on my body felt like a Herculean accomplishment on some days.

Without the covers  and dirty clothes all over the floor, the open floor remained open. I decided that I would make good use of that space. I would start a morning yoga practice. Right there in my bedroom, in that open space. I had begun to have an inner image of my self as a gnarled, squat oak tree. My muscles felt tight, my joints ached. I felt like I was folding in on myself, unable to stretch out into the world.

So, after making my bed, I would turn on Pandora, get out my Yoga mat, and do yoga stretches for 5 songs. Just 5 songs. That seemed more doable than focusing on getting a certain number of poses done or setting a timer. And for the last 31 days, I have done so for 24 of them. Even when visiting my Mom. Even at Cattle Raids. A couple of days lost when I had an infected tooth, when on my period, when traveling in the morning.

And I have seen changes. I have gone from 18 - 20 minutes in the morning to 27 - 30 minutes. There have been concrete physical achievements - my fingertips on the ground in triangle pose, my head to the ground in wide-legged forward bend, deeper twists, getting past the point when it is my hamstrings that are the barrier for most poses.

There have been intangible changes as well -more energy throughout the day, feeling stronger, laughing more. That inner image of the gnarled,squat oak - well the oak is beginning to straighten and stretch into the light.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Garden 2015 - The Plant in the Mug

Senecio vitalis - Blue Chalk Fingers

A succulent. I planted it in Pepin's broken Huscarl Mug. It seemed appropriate somehow. I am looking forward to seeing how this plant grows.

In the sun.
On a cloudy day, 
The Stem