When we got the call that necessitated our trip, I had about 2 pounds of very fresh strawberries in the fridge. Not only that, I didn’t have time to cancel our veggie box, so I had fresh rhubarb in the fridge. Instead of tossing out the berries and vegetables, I decided to do some quick preserving.
Most of the recipes I found for strawberry (and strawberry rhubarb) jam suggested that pectin was a vital ingredient. I had the pectin, I didn’t quite have enough sugar, though. This made a bit of a loose jam, but it’s quite tasty.
6 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
3 sliced rhubarb stalks
Put in large pot over medium heat to start to soften. Add 3 oz of fruit pectin and cook. Add 5 1/2 or 6 cups of sugar and cook until thick.
Because I was just doing this as a last minute thing before we left, I didn’t do any real preserving. I just dumped the hot jam into clean jars, let them cool over night and then stored them in the fridge.
When we got back, I tried some of it. Very tasty on toast. It’s loose enough to use as an ice cream topping, but has enough structure to work as jam.
Overall, I’m pleased with my attempts at jam so far. These are not picture-perfect foods, but they’re quite tasty and I think the only way to get better is to practice. I think we’ll enjoy this.
Filed under Cooking, Food
We went to Maker Faire yesterday. We’re both still feeling grotty, but I did get some pictures.
The absolute best part of this trip, though, was the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir.
We had a family emergency that necessitated an emergency trip to the UK at the end of April. Not quite how I wanted to spend the first 2 1/2 weeks of May, really. We budgeted 2 weeks to accomplish all we needed to do, but managed to get all of it done in 10 days. Our options were to move flights forward, or actually spend a couple days doing touristy things. We decided to do touristy things.
First up was a day in Bristol. We stayed at a lovely little B&B right in the heart of Bristol. On Monday we wandered through town and down to the docks. I took a ton of pictures of boats and the docks and the harbor. Initially it was grey with a light drizzle, but it started clearing up around 11.
We visited the ss Great Britain, the first iron hulled ship ever. It was a pretty amazing example of engineering. The ship itself was really neat and a marvel of Victorian engineering. But the lengths they’ve gone through to preserve the ship is also amazing. The ship is parked in a dry dock, with the lower hull separated from the air by a glass roof. There are massive dehumidifiers and air exchangers inside that keep the air dry enough to stop the ship from rusting.
We spent about 2 hours wandering under, on and inside the ship. There were a couple school classes there, including one dressed in period costumes. They were so adorable, I had to get a couple shots of them.
After we finished at the ship, we walked up to the Bristol Cathedral. By this time the sun was shining brightly and I got some lovely shots of the inside
By that point the stress and jet lag caught up with us and we went back to the room and napped for a few hours. Then we found cocktails and some Indian. It was a very nice, relaxing day out.
Filed under Life, Photos, Trips
The cats have been horribly anti-social in the bedroom in the morning lately. Hissing, swatting, growling, just generally being horrible to each other. It’s been so bad Valeria has totally stopped sleeping on the bed, and she’s been a bed cat since we first stopped locking the ferals in a cage for bedtime. I think the scratch across her nose that took weeks to heal may have had something to do with her abandoning of the bed, but it made me sad my foot cat wasn’t around.
Last week I decided to get some Feliway. I know a lot of people use it and have success with it, but I’ve always been a little suspicious of how well it worked. The claims seemed a bit out there, much like many of the homeopathy claims. But the label claimed there was a real active ingredient and so I thought I’d give it a try.
I installed the diffuser in the bedroom yesterday. Last night, Valeria slept on my feet. This morning Grover came up to visit and Momma Cat did not start a fight. Neither of us had to play referee. We had three mellow, relaxed, happy cats with us. The difference was amazing. I am so sold.
I was noticing a difference, but didn’t say anything. A little while later Steve says, “that stuff really seems to work.” Totally unscientific, but we both noticed the change.
I’m now considering getting one for downstairs to stop Amelia and Valeria from fighting when the food bowl starts to get even slightly empty. Except that it amuses us to watch the slapping.
Since we have oranges…
I tried orange peel beef from a recipe I found on food network. It was reasonably tasty, but there wasn’t enough sauce. I also nearly smoked us out with the capsaicin in the air. *cough*cough* I can’t stomach paying nearly $14 a pound for flank steak, so I used top round. Since it was a much more tender piece of beef, I skipped the baking soda marinade.
Next time I might try this alternative recipe, which looks very similar but with a bit more sauce. I’m not convinced by the ketchup, though.
I served it with some wok fried snow peas.
Yummy dinner, and not horribly difficult. It was one where a proper mis en place was necessary, though. Everything goes so fast with stir frying that there’s no time to do prep work while cooking.
Filed under Cooking, Food
One of the downsides of doing the NoBo running class last year was that we didn’t get much opportunity to go to the Farmer’s Market. Saturday’s I was up at an early hour to go run with the group, and then on Sunday, I was more interested in lounging in bed than getting up and going shopping. Yes, there are actually multiple markets on multiple days within a 5 mile radius of here.
We started heading out a few weeks ago and the first thing I noticed was ORANGES. So many oranges. Initially we were just getting blood oranges and then using them as a margarita ingredient. Last weekend, though, I decided I wanted a bit of a project and decided I wanted to make marmalade. I found a process on EvilMadScientist and decided to give it a try.
We headed out and got 10 pounds of Valencia oranges.
After washing them, I peeled the skin and then sliced them.
I ended up chopping about 8 oranges (maybe 5 pounds) and dumping them in our heavy Staub pot. I added just enough water to barely cover them (7 cups), then simmered them for about an hour, stirring about every 15 or 20 minutes. After they started to cook down, I added 7 cups of sugar and then kept cooking.
I cooked to 220-221 degrees and then put the mix in clean canning jars. This is where it got a little weird. The temp hit 215 and sat there for about an hour. The temp would just would not get above that. I think, honestly, I overcooked it, as the resulting jam is incredibly thick and almost dry. Tasty, but thick and closer to fruit leather than jam (oooh, I just had a thought of marmalade balls covered in dark chocolate… but that’s another post…).
Eventually it did get to 221 and I jarred it and processed it.
I’m ruling it a qualified success. It tastes great, the texture is just a little off. But as it was my first attempt at any kind of jam, I am reasonably pleased. I’m not sure if the texture is due to too much cooking or too much sugar or too much pith. Must do more research.
Filed under Cooking, Food
One of these days I’ll come to terms with “to busy for words” is our state of being, not just a temporary existence. You’d think after 10 years, I’d get that. Maybe I’m just in denial.
Yesterday, though, we headed out to Half Moon Bay for lunch at Half Moon Bay Brewing. It’s one of our favorite “beach” restaurants. We had a great table looking at the harbor and watching the tide go out. After lunch, we headed out down the beach towards pillar point.
Wow! I had no idea there was that much beach there. And so many happy, happy dogs playing in the surf and chasing each other and getting tired out. We followed the path around and ended up on the far side of Pillar Point just about at peak low tide.
TIDE POOLING! Neither of us were really expecting to go tide pooling, so we didn’t go very far out. And I’d managed to hurt my thumb cooking on Friday and was being overly protective, so I don’t have many pictures. But it was a lot of fun and I’m so ready to go back again.
Today we hit the farmer’s market for some steak and the fixings for a steak dinner (fingerling potatoes and spring asparagus). And some blood oranges (my current fruit fixation).
Looking at the amount of citrus we have in the house AND the leftover half bottle of wine we made sangria this afternoon.
1/2 bottle of random wine (Goats do Roam in this case)
1/2 blood orange sliced into thin rings
1/2 lime sliced into thin rings
1/2 apple cored and sliced into thin rings (are we sensing a pattern here?)
Mix everything together in a jug.
Let sit for a while.
Add in a glug of brandy, a glug of raspberry spirits and a squeeze of honey.
Mix and serve.
Quite a pleasant drink for a lazy (hah! Steve’s actually working, I’m handling emails while plotting to make marmalade next weekend with a bounty from the farmer’s market) Sunday.
Filed under Cooking, Food
I picked up running again in January. Then stopped in February for a variety of good (and some not so good) reasons. Last Friday I went out for a run that was pretty awful. My pace was slow, my heart rate was really high. All in all, I was so focused on just getting it done, I ignored quite a few warning signs.
I paid for it, though. About 20 minutes after getting home I started getting a headache. Within an hour it was a full blown migraine. Another hour and I was counting down to the time I could take more painkillers and wondering if a hammer to the head would make it better.
Seriously unfun Friday night. Most of the pain was gone by Saturday morning, but I wasn't exactly feeling good. Call it a headache hangover.
The worst part was it really made me loathe to actually go out and run again. “Avoid migrate triggers…” is great advice. But it meant I wasn't real into trying again.
I decided I'd do another run today. I budgeted myself 30 minutes, decided it was not about pace or speed or anything more than just going out and putting feet to pavement. I drank multiple pints of water before heading out, took a multivitamin and two 'vitamin I' as I left the house. When I got back I had some nuun water and another pint of water.
I'm happy to report that while I have a minor headache, it's nothing compared to Friday and it may even just be stress from today not running induced.
It really wasn't a hugely successful training run, but it did convince me that running wasn't always going to result in a day and a half recovery. I'm thinking things were bad when I set out. My heart rate on Friday's run was really high, even compared to today. And today I cut quite a bit of time off my pace from previously.
New things learned from this:
- Watch the heart rate. If my heart rate is high even when my pace is slow STOP RUNNING.
- Drink before a run.
- Drink after a run.
- Don't run when angry.
I am glad about the time change, though. I can run after work and not have to worry about being out alone in the dark. It feels stupid and overly cautious, but I just do not feel safe running in the dark.
I feel like I’ve been ignoring this blog recently, but I’m kinda surprised to see it’s only been 10 days since I last posted. It feels like a lot longer since I’ve even thought of blogging here.
Food has been … weird. Nothing has been tasting good lately, although I’m really sure we’re cooking just as tasty and awesome as we normally do. Last night we went out to Threeseasons in Palo Alto. I’m a little nervous because they’re making so many menu changes (and that’s often the sign of a struggling place), but all their food is still really good and there were clearly regulars coming in and the bar was full.
We had one of their sushi rolls and some oysters on the half shell and they were incredibly tasty. Food! Tasty! Who knew? Of course there were Happy buns and some lamb skewers. We finished off with Yellow Tail shooters. A very, very yummy meal.
Filed under Eating out, Food
It’s been that kind of week.
Last night I woke up out of a nightmare where some guy was selling off bits of the company and we were powerless to stop him. He was giving away 50% of our equity, and keeping all the money from that. Weird.
Today has been full of calls, including some where I couldn’t make my clients happy. I hate that. But it’s 5:30 and I give. Uncle. I’m done.
Blood orange margarita
1oz lime juice
1oz blood orange juice
3oz gala gala (or other triple sec)
Shake over ice. Serve straight up. Fall down.
EDIT: I should probably add this makes 2 drinks. Not one. Not unless you really want to fall down.
Filed under Cooking, Food