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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Great weekend

This weekend was really quite lovely.  Not what I expected in many ways, but lovely nonetheless.

Friday Shawn and I were planning on playing the Life Care Center in Port Orchard, but it was moved to next week.  So we got together and worked on some originals instead – finding harmonies and working out the arrangements, that sort of thing.  Then we put together a full 3-hour set list so we’ll be ready for gigs.  I was once again struck by how much I value these musical friendships that I’ve made recently.  There’s something so special in having at least a few people around you who share the same feelings and joys, and with whom you can share the crazy excited thoughts that run through your brain when you get random song ideas!

Well, after a couple of hours we headed for the Alderbrook, which was fabulous as always.  The crowd was good, the drinks were great, the scenery was incredible.  We played about a set and a half, then Robert Poole and Robert the flutist jammed for a bit.  The band actually went outside and sat down near the water while the guys did their thing!  😉  Then we headed back in to take over again and, lo and behold, Mike Pratt was in the house.  So when we got back up I dragged Mike on stage for a few songs, including a Travis Tritt duet and a group jam on Mustang Sally that had so many people we didn’t all fit on stage!  Before we knew it, it was time to shut down, but the party didn’t stop there.

Since several other musically inclined folks had showed up by then, we all ended up out on the patio around a fire pit, passing around a guitar and making up harmonies to all kinds of wonderful songs.  It wasn’t heaven, but it was pretty damn close, being outside with the music and the dancing and the people and the fire and the water and the stars…  Unfortunately, as the night wore on a very well-lubricated individual showed up and began making too much noise.  This of course Cannot Happen at a respectable establishment like the Alderbrook, so we were promptly removed from the scene.  That’s right, the BAND got bounced!  Priceless, eh?  It’s okay tho, I really had to get home to give Gumby his meds.

By the by, I got refills for him yesterday and I’m really happy!  See, I have to cut one of his three meds in half, and the pill is large and round, hence it tends to crush rather than break clean.  So every 4th pill or so ends up wasted.  (It’s still cheaper than getting the next smaller size and giving him 2 morning and 2 night!)  Well, to make a short story long, the pills are shaped differently now, so they cut easily and cleanly.  *happy dance*

Okay, back to the weekend…  Once again I missed my swim lesson, but this time it was because I had a class to teach at the same time, not because I’d been up too late the night before.  So I did my class, which went very well indeed.  Hopefully I will see my students back for project classes!  I’m really on the fence about teaching up there.  It’s hard to schedule, since my calendar changes around so often.  And the classes are set around 3 months in advance!  So it’s difficult.  And when I end up canceling other plans to drive 17 miles and teach a single student…  Well, let’s just say that the cost-benefit equation isn’t favorable.  But lately I’ve been having lots of multi-student classes, which makes things more palatable.  As you can see, I have reasons for wanting to quit before the next session starts.

But my class did go well, and after that I had a good chat with Jon about Navy issues while we moved more of Albert’s things out.  I’m going to sit down with Jeff the recruiter (Should I go all Mr. Rogers and capitalize that?) about the officer programs.  Jon suggested I go in as a yeoman, spend the first year getting my Bachelor’s, then go for a commission and the big money.  Not a bad plan!  And worth considering, since the band thing doesn’t seem to be happening.  }:-(

Saturday night we were at the Man-Pub, which was not nearly as busy as it usually is.  Perhaps everyone was nursing sunburns, what with the beautiful weather!  Honestly, it felt like we were a little off…  Not sure what the deal was, but to me it felt like we were trying too hard and it just wasn’t working.  I know Shawn was – he pretty much lost his voice by the end of the night!  We were both struggling to get some of those songs at the end.  But we (once again) overfilled the stage area – Tim and Kim Silke came out, so of course we had to drag Tim up front to join us.  We ended the night with Southern Cross and Seven Bridges Road, which was absolutely fabulous.  I love singing with these guys – the harmonies make me sooooooo happy!

Today I had anticipated playing at the Downtown Market, but as it turned out they had entertainment lined up already.  So…  I slept in.  😀  Can’t argue with that, huh?  Got down to Evergreen in time for my set at Kitsap Pride, but unfortunately that didn’t go as well as I anticipated.  First of all, the audience disappeared just as I started.  (The drag queens performed, then Michael spoke, then Derek Kilmer spoke, during which many people departed.  *phooey*)  So I stood up to a greatly depleted audience – and promptly started playing in a different key than I was singing.  *facepalm*  And more people left.

The rest of my set went well, and in fact they kept me for a couple of encores, which was sweet.  But the best part (aside from having friends come out specifically to see me play, which always gives me warm-and-fuzzies) was that I met some gals who live right down the hill from me!  So I made some new friends, and we’re gonna get together and jam some time.  How cool is that?!?

Went home, stopping on the way to drop booth stuff in storage for daMama and to hit the grocery store for a few things, and commenced with the domesticity.  In particular, the making of chili and the baking of various breads.  I was planning on white bread, wheat bread, corn bread, and banana bread.  Unfortunately, I did not realize that my milk was nasty – so much for the wheat bread!  And I took too much time on the other things, so the white bread wouldn’t have time to rise before I went to bed.  So that was out.  And then I ran out of cumin, so knowing that my chili wouldn’t be ready tonight I said “to hell with it” and put the cornbread off till tomorrow.  So…  Um…  I has banana bread muffins.

All in all, the weekend was lovely and fun and filled with many wonderful memories.  Not at all what I expected…  But isn’t that just how life works?  Tomorrow morning I’ll be meeting a couple of the other vixens at the garden, and we will break our fast with banana muffins and coffee, and then work our ass ends off to feed ourselves and our families.  So I guess it’s time that I put the last nail in this weekend’s coffin and hit the hay.  Good night all, and let’s all enjoy another week filled with unexpected surprises!

Wow, has it really been a month?

Apparently it has.  So here we go with the updates:

I have yet to hear back form the Navy Band about whether I’m accepted or not.  My recruiter hasn’t heard anything either, and he may or may not be getting tired of me calling him.  😉

Albert has moved back in with family in anticipation of me leaving.  It’s really weird to be broken up, but I am enjoying the peace and quiet.  Not to mention the lack of TV in my home!

I’m trying to get out more, especially spending more time with musical people and friends who I’ve neglected.  I’ve said “Sorry, I can’t” to so many invitations over the past few years, it feels great to say “I’ll be there” instead!  It’s running me a little ragged, but mostly because I’m not managing my time well enough.

My workouts have been inconsistent at best, though I’m seeing a little bit of improvement in the holding-of-breath-when-swimming department.  The brain is still NOT PLEASED with the fact that I’m doing hard physical work and am unable to breathe whenever I want.  Kinda turns me into a gasping mess at times…  So I go play mermaid and wear flippers and swim around underwater so I can’t cheat and take a breath when I’m not supposed to.  It’s hard, but still kinda fun.  And I try to go with daMama and Rosi instead of alone.

I’m back into too-busy-to-bother-with-food mode, so if I turn into a skeleton just buy me a sandwich k?  Make it a club with cheddar and light mayo please.  I’m not starving myself on purpose, it just kinda happens…  I’ve been watching the Food Network while on the treadmill tho, which makes me hungry for two reasons and then I’ll eat something.  Plus, it gives me all these great ideas which makes me WANT to cook later.  Not that it helps all the time!

Spending more time with musical people has made me want to write better.  In fact, I spent some time with Mike Pratt last week, and I’m basically feeling shamed into improving!  LOL  Not that he’s less than gracious about his own abilities, but he’s a very talented and skilled songwriter and I’m feeling motivated by exposure.  In fact, tomorrow I’m going to a songwriters’ show and (if I can get the cojones up) I’m going to play a few of my songs – to a room full of other songwriters.  This, my friends, is a very frightening prospect for me.  All y’all people who don’t want to sing in front of me?  I’m in your shoes now.  I have to take my inadequate, half-written pieces that need more help than I’m presently able to give them, and present them not only publicly, but to a group of people which will include at least a few folks who have done this for much longer than me and are consequently much better at it.  I am not looking forward to it.

I’m going to leave things there, since I have to jet to Silverdale and teach a class now.  I know I say this all the time, but I’ll try to update more often going forward!

Building Kitsap Businesses

It’s no secret that the economy is bad and local businesses are in trouble.  It seems almost every other day I hear about another local business closing its doors, and sometimes it feels like half the storefronts in the county are empty.

But there’s a quiet resurgence of small business in the county right now.  It’s being led by groups like Washington CASH and Washington Small Business Development Centers.  These groups are providing small business owners (like myself) with the tools and resources we need to rebuild the local economy from the ground up.  In fact, Kitsap County has proven to be one of the most effective areas in the state for small business seed money programs!  We do more and go farther in this area when we’re given the opportunity.

How can you help this trend grow?  By patronizing local businesses as much as possible – go to the “mom & pop” flower shop down the street instead of ordering a bouquet online, and hire a local handyman instead of calling the big box store on your next home improvement project.  By purchasing locally grown food – sign up with a local farm for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share, shop at the farmers’ market, or buy the produce at the supermarket that has the “locally grown” sticker.  By keeping your money local – instead of patronizing a large national bank, pull your money out and put it in a local bank or Credit Union.

All these things will keep money in our local economy and build our community up, instead of sending our money out-of-area or out-of-state, or even out of the country!  Kitsap County has existed as a kind of “bedroom community” of Seattle for too long.  Many of our residents can’t afford to buy a house here, and our graduates leave the area in droves as they look for work.  Let’s all do what we can to build the local economy and keep Kitsap dollars here in Kitsap.

Stuff I learned today

I had a fantastic chat today at the Co-op office with one of our Member-Owners.  Rene and his wife own a business doing aquaponics, and they’re working with the University of Hawaii (!) to experiment with different types of fish in aquaponics systems.  For those of you who don’t know, aquaponics is sort of like hydroponics, in that you grow plants without soil, but instead of using chemical fertilizers, you link a fish tank in and let the fish make the fertilizer.  (It’s actually a complex system that involves several steps and a couple types of bacteria to metabolize everything properly, but that’s the quick version.)

Now, I’ve read a bit about aquaponics online, but never really talked to anybody about it.  And we all know how perfectly reliable the internet is…  Yeah.

So first of all, it turns out that I was looking at the wrong kind of fish.  Some sites recommend using tilapia fish, since they grow pretty quickly and don’t require as strict of temperature controls as some other types of fish.  Unfortunately, Washington State law prevents importation of tilapia.  So that’s pretty much out.  Rene has been using rainbow trout, which are great for temperature in this area, but they require oxygen levels that stay within a pretty tight band.  So they’re getting a special license from the state of WA to work with Chinese catfish, which have a much broader range on both temperature and oxygen levels.  Hell, these fish can gulp air if they have to!

But that wasn’t all I learned talking to Rene.  We also discussed the warehouse growing movement, where in Chicago and many other cities, people are putting UV lights in warehouse space and using aquaponics to grow food year-round.  This is not only cool because it can bring fresh food into urban food deserts, but it allows for complete control over the environment.  Why is that so helpful?  Because it turns out that plants don’t need large amounts of natural sunlight to grow.  In fact, many plants don’t need more than a couple of hours a day under UV to grow.  That much power can be generated easily by rooftop solar panels, keeping costs down while protecting the plants year-round.

Know what else is cool?  Plants also don’t need to be kept on a 24-hour cycle.  You could conceivably run plants on two 12-hour cycles of light and dark, fooling the plant into thinking two days had passed and getting it to grow twice as fast!  Heads of lettuce in a month.  Radishes in 10 days.  Tomatoes YEAR-ROUND!!

Now, of course there are drawbacks.   Of course!  For one thing, what about pollinators?  What about worms?  What about microbes?  Not to mention, plants exist naturally in a world with lots of other bugs.  Some are beneficial, some not so much.  But some of the “bad” bugs are actually good because they feed the good bugs.  Without the “bad” bugs, the good ones would starve and there wouldn’t BE good bugs!  So it’s an incredibly complex thing, to create a whole ecosystem from scratch.  It’ll be somewhat simpler, of course, without soil.  But still, it’s a huge task and there’s a million things that can go wrong, or can get out of balance real fast.

And of course, there might be some consequences to this that we don’t know about yet.  Perhaps after three or four or ten or fifty generations of plants like this, certain genetic traits will come out that aren’t good for us.  Maybe the tomatoes start producing an enzyme that helps them absorb UV light better, but when you eat them it turns your teeth purple.  I don’t know!  That’s why they’re called unforeseen problems.  We don’t know what they’re going to be, but we know they’re going to happen.

Still…  I want to try it!  So as always, I’m adding to the list of stuff I’m going to do when I have a home and land and the ability to put up a 10×20 prefab building in my backyard so I can play Farmer Frank.

Dandelions

What do you think of when you see those bright yellow flowers in your lawn or garden?  Do you make a beeline for the weed killer?  Maybe you should revise your dinner plans instead.

Yep, I’m talking about eating dandelions.  That’s right, they’re edible!  What part?  ALL OF THEM.

The leaves (especially when they’re young) can go into your salads, or when they’re older (and a bit tougher) saute them with a little garlic and onion.  The flowers can go into salads too, or if you like you can actually batter and deep-fry them!  And then of course, there’s dandelion wine, for which you use just the yellow parts of the flowers.  The root (you know, every gardener’s least favorite part of the plant) is also edible, and is at its best between fall and spring when the colder weather causes the plant to convert starches to sugar.

Dandelions grow anywhere, propagate like wildfire, and are chock-full of important minerals and vitamins.  There’s iron, calcium, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, a slew of B-vitamins, and vitamins C, E, and D.  All in high concentrations!

There’s only a few plants that are really similar to dandelions, and in America the most common is coltsfoot.  You can tell the difference in a couple of ways, but the easiest is to look at the leaves.  A dandelion’s leaves are long and skinny, with distinct saw-tooth edges.  Coltsfoot leaves are rounder, kind of heart-shaped in fact, and they’re hairy (sometimes on both top and bottom, sometimes only on one side).  Coltsfoot won’t hurt you if you do eat it (it has medicinal use to suppress coughs), but it’s not quite as good for you as dandelion.

So next time you see one of these guys and start thinking mean thoughts, change your perspective.  And eat the darned thing!  That’ll learn it…

Thanks to http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Dandelion.html from where I got the picture and some of the nutritional info.

Scratching in the kitchen

No, I don’t think that came out right.  COOKING from scratch!  Yeah, that’s better.

It all started with that silly cornbread.  Yeah, I bought some corn meal and followed the recipe on the side for sweet cornbread muffins.  They were a hit with the family (and I loved them) so after a while I started thinking of other things I want to make from scratch.

Then it was chicken soup.  That was partly because I was feeding the cats cooked chicken, and I didn’t want to waste the bones and scraps.

Now, I have homemade marinara in the fridge, I’m improving the spices of my chili recipe, and today will be breaking out the masa and making corn tortillas.  Just for the fish.

I guess I’m getting some cabin fever, but I don’t really want to get dressed and go anywhere I don’t have to.  So instead, I go into the kitchen.

Since when did I become this domestic?!?  Knitting, baking, cooking, what’s next?  I don’t want to become Martha Stewart!!!

Nah, it’ll never happen.  First of all, the cats eat anything decorative that they can reach.  Hell, I can’t leave any open space in the up-above, lest I walk into the kitchen and find a cat up there!  Second, I don’t have the patience to do decorative stuff on a large scale.  I get bored too easily!

But maybe I’m channeling just a little bit of my grandmas.  I’d like that.

But not the pot-smoking, sun-worshiping, drunk-riding-on-horseback-home-from-the-bar bit of Grandma.

I’ll skip that part.