Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An increase in light gives an increase in darkness

When my son was four years old, I took him on trip to see some of the places I remember visiting as a child.

One of the places I took him was Crystal Cave near Kutztown, PA.  The cave has been a tourist attraction for over 140 years.  It's known for it's unusual rock and, of course, crystal formations.  

Like any indulgent parent,  we visited the gift shop where he picked out a child-size miner's helmet equipped with a working lantern.  He immediately popped the helmet on to his head and off we went to do the tour.  

The tour guide pointed out formations of interest and talked about the history of the cave.  We reached a point in the cave where he warned us that they would be turning off the lights so that we could experience total darkness.  I explained to my son what was about to happen and he said he wasn't afraid.  

My brave boy!

They turned off the lights and we were engulfed in complete blackness.  For only a moment though . . . almost as soon as they lights were off my son flicked on the light on his miner helmet.  Yeah, that kind of ruined the experience for everyone else on the tour.  But it sure was funny!


Sauteed Spinach and Green Beans With Garlic

3 Cups Frozen Green Beans
10 Ounce Package Baby Spinach
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Heat a large skillet and then add the olive oil.

When the oil is nice and hot throw in the green beans and season with salt and pepper.

Add the spinach and let that wilt down, stirring occasionally.

Add in the garlic, lemon juice and the butter and stir over low-medium heat. You don't want the garlic to brown but you do want it to cook for about 5-10 minutes and incorporate all the flavors.

Taste and re-season if needed.  Remove from the heat and serve!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Paradise by the dashboard lights

I came accross this photo on the ever hilarious People of Walmart site and that got me to thinking . . . is it actually possible to bake cookies in a car?

Apparently, I'm not the only one to wonder this same thing.  It has tried and it has succeeded.  By no means does a car's internal temperature does it reach oven temperatures but it does get pretty darn hot.

One test was done by a newspaper in Springfield, Illinois.  During their experiment, the car mostly maintained a steady 175 degrees Fahrenheit temperature over a four hour period.  The result was cookies that were actually cooked and edible, although not browned and crunchy like you would get from a baking oven.

A reporter at a television station in the Austin, Texas are performed a similar experiment, but he took it further.  He was going to try to bake cookie, muffins, and biscuits. His test spanned three hours and the internal temperature of the car reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  His results said "the cookies looked like they were done, and the biscuits had risen to an inch. However, it was going to take a little longer for the muffins to be finished."  However, he didn't offer any taste test results.

Another newspaper in South Bend, Indiana performed the experiment with similar results.  Their experiment lasted 3 hours with the interior of the car reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  They gave staffers at the paper samples and they were declared "not bad" and "good".  And, the car was left with the "unmistakable aroma of fresh-baked cookies."

Anyhoo . . . the point is this . . . it get's really really  hot in your car when it's sitting under a blazing sun. On an 80-degree day with no ventilation, the temperature in a car can rapidly reach up to 131 degrees.  Leaving a child or a pet in a car for just 10 minutes could easily result in damage to the brain and vital organs, heat stroke, dehydration, seizures, and death.   

Roast Beef over Egg Noodles

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Beef Bouillon Cube in 1 C. Hot Water
1/3 C. Cooking Sherry (Red)
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1/4 Tsp. Onion Salt
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch in 1/4 C. Water
4 C. Cooked Noodles

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan.  

Add left over roast beef and stir in bouillon cube (with water), sherry, soy sauce, garlic and onion salt. 

Heat to boiling. 

Reduce heat; blend cornstarch (with water). Stir gradually into meat mixture. 

Cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils (about 1 minute). Serve over cooked noodles.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Think Pink - A woman should be pink and cuddly for a man.

I was driving to work and, out of the blue, I thought to myself . . . "why is pink considered a girl color?" So, now endeavor to uncover the mystery.

Pink is soft and sublime, so pink is for girls, right?   So what does that make me.  I'm pretty sure I'm a girl but I am neither soft nor sublime . . . I'm more crusty and obnoxious.  But that's neither here nor there.  

Anyhoo . . . as it turns out, pink and blue have only recently been assigned to girl and boy; recent being a relative term.

Thomas Gainsborough, English portrait and landscape painter in the late 18th century painted men, women, boys and girls is what would be considered clashing gender colors . . . at this point in history the color stereotypes had yet to be established.  You’re probably familiar with Blue Boy . . . but did you know that he also did a painting titled Pink Boy?

It seems that assigning the colors to gender is a later 20th century happenstance . . . as late as the 1950’s.  In fact, there was a time not too long ago that the opposite was true . . . as recently as the early 1900’s 

Red was considered a fierce color . . . the color of warriors.  So, it would make sense that since pink is a watered down version of red that it would be associated with boys . . . the warriors to come.     

At the same time, blue was considered delicate and dainty . . . also, considered the color associated with the Virgin Mary  . . . thus, more appropriate for girls. 

If you take a look back  . . . American didn’t have this color association for boys and girls.  In fact, in the early 1800’s, boys and girls were dressed alike from birth into early childhood.  They were typically dressed in long white cotton “gowns” and as they grew older more appropriate clothing was available to allow for more mobility in toddlers.  But, the same outfits were still considered appropriate for either sex.

This change seems to have come about after World War II when blue was used extensively for men's uniforms; therefore, blue became associated masculinity. 

A campaign launched in the 1940's encouraged women to “Think Pink”. In what I think was a misguided attempt to make women conform to what society expected of the perfect specimen of femininity and womanhood. 

And here we are today . . . girls pink / boys blue.  Some people actually believe that if you dress a boy in pink or purple that it will somehow influence their child’s sexuality.  

Well, I may not be into pink . . . I'm not sure I even own any pink clothes . . . but I do have a pink gun.  :P


Cher's Beefy Bruschetta

  • 6 Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 Vidalia Onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil, separated
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 4 Slices Leftover Roast Beef, sliced thin
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Whisk together chopped garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and basil.  When combined slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Add tomatoes and onion.  Let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Mix in sliced roast beef and cheese.  

Top with tomato mixture and sprinkle on a little cheese.  Turn off the heat and cover to allow the cheese to melt a little.  

Serve immediately or keep chilled until ready to use.

By the way . . . the Pink Panther is a boy . . . just sayin'

Saturday, August 27, 2011

You can kid the world. But not your sister.

Sibling rivalry . . . my sister wasn’t my rival, she was my nemesis.    She spent most of her unoccupied time torturing her little sister . . . that would be me . . .

I tried to stay out of sight and out of trouble’s way; trouble mainly being my sister.  Unfortunately, trouble often found me.

Being small and meek didn’t mean I wasn’t above retaliating.  Vengeance came at a price . . . generally getting the snot kicked out of me . . . but sometimes settling the score was worth a few bumps and bruises.

Our mom was a single parent which meant she had no choice but to hold down a job while trying to manage a household and two growing girls.  We lived in the sticks on top of a mountain 20 miles or more away from anything remotely resembling civilization.  This meant that our mother had a lengthy commute to and from work everyday. 

That meant a lot of time alone at home fending for ourselves.  For me that meant reading books, climbing trees, playing records or watching one of the two channels our television antenna managed to tune in.  I’m not sure what my sister did but whatever it was I’m sure it was nothing good.

When she got a boyfriend, I couldn’t have been happier.  Finally her attention would be diverted from me . . . the poor sucker . . . let her torment someone else for a change. 

The boyfriend was the kid from up the road.  His Gramma owned the little store that had everything from penny candy to milk.  So my sister spent a lot of time there but sometimes they would be at our house hanging out.  He was nice enough, he never bothered me and he was the focus of my sister’s attention so it was all good.

My sister and I shared a bedroom.  One day I went up to our room to get a book or a toy or something and ending finding more than I expected.    There . . . in my sister’s bed . . . under the covers . . . was my sister and the boyfriend.  Apparently, I surprised them both.

“I’m telling mom!!!” I announced.  Ah yes, vengeance was mine!

“You’re not telling mom anything” she said, feigning coolness.  “And, besides, we were just taking a nap.”

Okay, I was just the kid sister but I wasn’t born yesterday.  I watched the afternoon Soap Operas and read Janet Daley novels.  I knew the difference between napping and nookying.  You don’t nap on top of someone and there was an awful lot going on for a couple of teenagers who were supposedly sleeping.

“I’m telling mom!!!” I repeated and proceeded to tear-ass out of there to hide until our mom got home. 

It was that exact moment when I perceived a slight shift in the balance of power in our relationship.  For once, I had the upper hand and I was going to leverage every ounce of that power to my advantage.  Oh, she was going to be in soooooooooooo much trouble.

I told on her . . . yes indeedy I did-did-diddly!  And she got in a whole heap of trouble . . . yes she did-did-diddly!  It was awesome.  There was a talk with my sister.  And then there was a talk with the boyfriend.  And then there was a talk with my sister and the boyfriend.  It was awesome!!  Of course, I was banished to the bedroom while all this talking was going on.  But, it didn’t matter . . . she was in BIG BIG trouble and it  . . . was . . . AWESOME!! That and my side of the bedroom was right over the room where all that talking was going on  . . .

After that, I never walked in on them again.  I guess they took their napping elsewhere.

Well, they eventually got married . . . are still married, in fact . . . and my sister claims she was . . . uhm . . . unsullied . . . yeah, yeah that’s it . . . unsullied when they wed.  Uh huh . . . I ain’t buying what you’re selling, sister!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Walk straight, my son - as the old crab said to the young crab

I’m going to plagiarize Hubby by sharing one of his favorite anecdotes.

When he was a kid, his family had a vacation home on an inlet in southern New   
Jersey.  They would spend the summer there swimming, fishing and crabbing.

They would take skipping rocks to a whole new level.  Instead of using flat stones like everyone else in the civilized world, they used the crabs they caught.

They would take the crabs and lay them on their back on the palm of their hand.  And, then they would rub their belly which would relax and hypnotize the crabs. 

They would then take the crabs and fling them across the water.  As soon as the crabs hit the water they would wake up and their legs would flail as they skipped along the surface of the water.

I'm not sure if that's cruelty to animals or not but it must have been hysterical to watch.

I poked around a bit to try to find out why rubbing it's belly makes it got to sleep.  I didn't fun much, but what seems plausible is that being held upsidedown boggles their itty-bitty nervous systems.  but, then again . . . who doesn't like to have their belly rubbed?


Triple Orange Sour

1 1/2 fluid ounces vodka
1/2 fluid ounce triple sec
2 1/2 fluid ounces sweet and sour mix
1 1/2 fluid ounces fresh orange juice
1 slice orange

Pour vodka, triple sec, sour mix, and orange juice over ice into a cocktail shaker. Affix the lid, and shake until the outside of the shaker has frosted.

Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice, and garnish with a slice of orange.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

If cats could talk, they wouldn't

Hubby and I rescued a kitty from an animal shelter about 6 years ago.  She was (and still is) cute, fuzzy, stripy and endowed with some serious cattitude.

When we got her home we put her in between us on the couch.  We were eating dinner . . . Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and corn . . . and she immediately stuck her face into my mashed potatoes.  She was (and still is) a meat and potatoes kitty.

As far as cattitude goes . . . she got it in spades.   She looks all cute and sweet and innocent but beware!   She’s a bapper, a bopper, a chomper, a stalker and a chaser.   She’ll give you dirty looks when she’s pissed off, shark eyes when she’s on the attack, innocent face when you know she’s done something evil.  She’s a lot of fun. 

So, I came across some fun facts about cats and I thought I’d try to apply them to our fuzzy baby girl.

You probably never thought about a cat as being either left- or right-pawed, but over 40 percent are either lefties or righties. That means there’s quite a few out there who are ambidextrous. Luckily for them, they can probably operate the can opener with both paws …

Yep, she’s ambidexercat for sure.  When she goes in for the bap its all paws on deck.  Bap bap bap.  Thank goodness she doesn't have thumbs.

Warm or Cold?
Food that is. Cats don’t like their food too hot or too cold. They like it just right. And for them, just right is room temperature, just like their prey would be in the wild. Cats are indeed the Goldilocks of the animal world.

True . . . the Fuzz likes her food room temperature.  If I give her something out of the fridge, she’ll let it warm up before she eats it.  And, if we give her nibbles from our plates, she’ll let it cool off before she goes for it.

In Living Color
Cats see in color, so your new paisley frock in orange, purple, and yellow won’t be lost on them. They also have fantastic night vision, and only need one-sixth of the light humans require to see. So don’t go getting your cat night-vision goggles.

I don’t know if she’s a fan of my purple tee-shirt or not, but she can definitely see very well in the dark.  Bap bap bap.

What’s in a Name?
A group of kittens is called a “kindle” (yes, just like that fancy new electronic book device available now), while a group of adult cats is called a “clowder.”

Well, since she’s only one cat then I guess she’s a clowd.

We all know the meow sound, whether it’s questioning, scared, happy, or imperiously demanding dinner. Curiously, cats only meow at people, not at other cats.

This is interesting because I’ve actually only heard the Fuzz meow twice since we’ve had her . . . an outright meow, that is.  She’ll whine and yowl and growl and even hiss on occasion.  It’s funny that when she’s talking to you she almost always ends in a question.

Four-Legged Mood Rings
Cats are highly intuitive creatures, and they are more than able to pick up your mood, especially from your tone of voice. They know when you’re yelling at them (though they often don’t seem to care). If you need your cat to calm down, try speaking to her in a soothing, loving voice. You’ll be amazed.

She may know our moods but she doesn’t really give a sh!t.  But if one of happens to be under the weather she tries to make us feel better by becoming a cuddle-kitten.

The Ultimate Strawberry Lemonade

(makes 2 pint-glass servings with ice)

3/4 cup sugar
2 large lemons, microwaved for 30 seconds
2 cups water
1 cup of frozen strawberries, microwaved for 1 minute (you could use fresh, but I think the frozen works better here)

In a blender squeeze the lemons and add the rest of the lemon, rind and all. Pour in the water and sugar. Add the strawberries. Pulse until everything starts to come together and the rind is starting to be processed. Remove the blade (or place the entire contents of the blender into a microwavable pitcher) and microwave for another 2 minutes. You can do all of this on stove top if you’d prefer, but the microwave is easy and quick. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, then strain into glasses loaded with ice. Enjoy!

**Note: I like to microwave the lemons to release more of the juices, and microwaving the strawberries does the same sort of thing. I like to microwave it all together at the end to release more of the oils in the lemon rind as well as dissolve the sugar. Any of these things you could do on a stove.**

Add some vodka, ice and blend for a Seriously Ultimate Strawberry Lemonade!