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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Breakfast Sausage

We have often gotten a pig from someone local to us over the years that I have lived in Iowa, and this year was no different.  Oddly, we haven't done a lot of sausage but last weekend we had an unexpected brunch that we hosted (all the family home and it was Father's Day, so no room at the local eateries for those with a big party).
Here is the sausage that we made:
  • 2 pounds ground pork
Combine all the ingredients and chill for 1 hour. Use within 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. For immediate use, saute patties over medium-low heat in a non-stick pan. Saute until brown and cooked through, approximatel

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice

I love the long days this time of year.  The longest day of the year!  While the day is, technically speaking, an astronomical occasion, its historical and cultural significance extends far beyond the relative length of the daylight. The word solstice itself comes from the Latin, from sol (sun) and stare or sistere (to stand or stop), and its celebration dates back to ancient pre-Christian tradition. For the Greeks, it would, according to some calendars, mark the start of the new year—and the month-long countdown toward the Olympics. It was, too, often the annual occasion for the festival of Kronia, to honor the god Cronus, the patron of agriculture. The day was marked not only by the typical feasts and games, but by an even more remarkable occurrence: for once, slaves could participate in the festivities along with the freemen, joined in equality for a single day.
For the Romans, the solstice was the occasion for another unique exception to everyday life: on the first day of the festival of Vestalia, married women could, for one day only, enter the temples of the vestal virgins. There, they would be allowed to make offerings to Vesta, the goddess of hearth and home.
Many Native American tribes celebrated the longest day of the year with a Sun Dance, while the Mayas and Aztecs used the day as a marker by which to build many of their central structures, so that the buildings would align perfectly with the shadows of the two solstices, summer and winter. In many European pagan traditions, the solstice was called Litha, a day to balance the elements of fire and water, while for the druids, it was, simply, midsummer, a night and day with properties like no other. According to tradition, certain plants—St. John’s wort, roses, rue, verbena, and the like—acquired properties on the year’s shortest night that they wouldn’t have if picked at any other time. And on this evening, if you were very lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of faeries, who favored midsummer to reveal themselves to the common folk.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's Time For Local

Last weekend I made a dish that used only things that we had either canned from our CSA last year or had gotten that week from them.  It was just a good feeling to know that what we were eating was supporting people who lived in our community.
One of the things that I love about our CSA is that they partner with other farmers in the area and offer a range of things that are grown in our neighborhood.  I like everything about that.  I like staying a bit away from factory farming.  I like the one stop shopping aspect of it.  For about half the year I really do not shop much because in addition to vegetables, we get eggs, fruit, chicken and pork through our CSA.  We could even get coffee this year!  Okay, that is roasted locally, not grown here, but there is something about buying food outside that is appealing.  We go to the Farmer's Market mostly because we love the atmosphere.  We do get some things that we don't get enough of from our CSA, like melons.  In any case, it is just nice this time of year.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

The short story is that if you are a fan of Tim Burton movies you will enjoy this movie.  It has all of the essential elements that he brings to the table, which for me is that a very creepy story is told with a certain combination of flair and humor so as to lessen the creepiness and augment the elegance in a way that is charming.  The costuming is up to his usual standards, which is outstanding, and the set design and sound are spectacular.  Miss Peregrine alone is just astounding to behold.  Her dresses match her demeanor and her physical presence to a tee.  The problem is that the story is long and convoluted and so if you cannot wait to get to the plot points upon which the story turns, you will definitely find this to be a slog of a movie.  I watch this sort of movie for the diversionary entertainment of it all, and so I was in no way disappointed, and I believe it can be that way for others.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Parenthood

Raising children is something that you really learn to do on the fly.  I had a much younger sibling growing up and I babysat a lot, so I definitely had a reasonable idea about the logistics of caring for a baby and young children.  What none of that prepared me for was the decision making aspect of parenthood.   And it turns out, that is the part that really matters.  My spouse and I have had some agonizing decisions to make over the last almost three decades of parenthood, and it is almost like we are starting from scratch each time.  So much of what we do as parents is largely without a play book, and it requires a partnership that is rock solid to manage to stay together, stay balanced, and hopefully do right by your family.  So I really appreciate everything about raising kids with my husband, and one day a year, give him a shout out.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sixty Years of Marriage

Today marks my son's fifth wedding anniversary and we are celebrating my parents sixtieth.  My spouse and I have three decades under our belts.  It is something that we apparently do for quite some time in my family, and while I think that while in almost every way the celebration of a marriage is really up to the two people who participate in it, the ability to stay together as a couple over hard times and good ones is something that we as a society should indeed take note of and support.  For one thing, it makes family gatherings relatively uncomplicated.  Or at least less complicated.  There is always the tension between your family and mine, but on a number of occasions we have successfully brought both sides of the family together, and that works well.  The other is that humans need people they can count on, and long term relationships lend that kind of stability to us.  I happen to know quite well that when the going gets rough, quite a few people get going, and you are left with the few who matter.  Handling adversity is all part of the life we lead.  So raise a toast to those who manage to do it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rosewater (2014)

This movie, which is based on a book about a journalist who was detained in Iran after a contested election, is exactly the sort of story that Jon Stewart would have highlighted when he was the host of the Daily Show.  He took a leave from the Daily Show in order to write and direct the movie.
Maziar Bahari was a journalist and filmmaker who returned to his native Iran in 2009 in anticipation of upcoming elections.  The hard-line sitting president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is opposed by  his popular reformist challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi.  As Bahari sees, Mousavi has strong support among young, educated and urban Iranians, while Ahmadinejad, in addition to appealing more to the poor and unlettered, has bolstered his support with massive government hand-outs. Though Mousavi has been leading in the polls, there are ominous signs on several fronts, and he loses in a tainted election.
While he’s covering the election before being arrested, Bahari (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) gives an interview to one of Stewart’s colleagues in which he jokes about being a spy.  After violence erupts after the election, Bahari is arrested.   Later, in prison, he will try to explain to his brutal interrogator, a man he nicknames Rosewater for the cologne he wears, that this was all a joke and "The Daily Show" is satire, not news.
The concept of spy talk being offered up for laughs, though, is obviously one that Rosewater can’t grasp. And no wonder: it’s entirely outside the frame of reference of a pious torturer whose life is dedicated to the defense of Iran’s theocracy and its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. In one sense, the two mindsets we see colliding in that interrogation room–one medieval, one modern–form the crux not only of “Rosewater”s drama, but also of Iran’s ongoing struggle over its identity and place in the world.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Martinez Gin Coctail

Here is another gin cocktail made with Hendrick's gin.  This is an excellent trend that we have been on, that is what I have to say about our post-England cocktails.
Character:
Bitter , Herbal
Skill Level:
Novice
Ingredients:
2 Parts Hendrick's Gin
1 1/2 Parts Sweet Vermouth
1/5 Part Maraschino Liqueur
Dash Angostura Bitters
Dash Orange Bitters.
Preparation:
Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker and shake hard over ice. Strain into martini glass and garnish with orange zest.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Sheridan Inn, Sheridan, Wyoming

Sheridan, Wyoming is the site of many a pitched battle between the US Army and the Sioux, the Crow, and the Cherokee around the time of the Civil War.  George Custer was famously killed just north of the city, and the old Fort McKenzie is now a VA hospital.
The Sheridan Inn, one of the great historic hotels in the United States, has been renovated and yet maintains it's nineteenth century charm.  As one of the original Sheridan,  hotels, constructed in 1892, the Sheridan Inn was conceptualized and developed by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. As part owner, “Buffalo Bill” directed hotel management, and even auditioned new members for his touring company show from the front porch.
Each of the twenty-two rooms have been revitalized to reflect on “Buffalo Bill” and twenty-one other key characters in his life.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Receiving Blanket Mania

There are some things that are very satisfying to do, and one of them is to turn out a highly useful product in a short period of time for a low cost.
Here is the story.  I have been in a number of quilt stores in different cities.  That is a really nice side effect of having gotten back to quilting about a quilt a month (on average) for the last year, leading to my sense that once again I am indeed a quilter.
A very real part of quilting is the community of people who share the obsession with fabric.  We have local shops and we support them, of course, but when we are out and about we check out what other shops have and there is always something designed by somebody local and there are favorite patterns that my own shop doesn't have, and there are fabrics that I can't resist and haven't seen at home.  So it is really just a side effect of all that that I went down the rabbit hole of making oodles of receiving blankets.  I saw them in two different places, asked about the pattern, got a mini-tutorial at the Quilter's Fix in Sheridan, Wyoming and came home to make enough to have a stand at the farmer's market should I choose to.  Feels pretty good!