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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Vacation

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Vacation

So sorry that I haven’t been around, but I went on an AWESOME vacation!  My parents invited my siblings and I (and our significant others) to go on a cruise.

Parents chillin in the room

My brother opted out, as he wants to save his vacation days for later, but my sister and her husband did go.

Ish and Allen

The nice thing about this trip was that it left out of Baltimore, so no pre-travel for me!  This was actually the second time I’ve taken this same trip on the Carnival Pride.  I’ve heard from other people that they prefer other lines such as Royal Caribbean, but I had a good experience on Carnival both times.

What I love about cruises is that you have to worry about NOTHING.

Towel Monkey

You have your room, you get a card that is your key, your payment method, and your ticket to getting on/off the boat.  That’s really all you need, other than a bathing suit, a towel, and sunscreen.  Plus, there is no real traveling.  I didn’t have to fly to the islands, I just boarded a boat and ended up at the beach.

Towel Bunny

LOVE it.  Some down sides to cruising is the timing of the excursions and the cost of extras.  I dislike arriving at a gorgeous beach at 7am on my vacation and then having to be back on the boat by 2pm.  What is that???  I’m on vacation!  Also, if you want to buy a mixed drink, be ready to shell out $10 each.  It stinks.

My parents are professional cruisers, so they have imparted the tricks of the trade on us.  You can bring

Towel Dog

some water bottles on the trip, so my advice is to pour some clear liquor in some water bottles to bring on.  I was able to get a full bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced

Towel Dino

Rum on in my suitcase as it was hidden within my shampoos and stuff.  Ernie tried to get some bottles on, but since he didn’t pack any toiletries (I had them all), the bottles were easy to find, and they were taken from us. (My bad)  Lesson: put your liquor in empty water bottles.

Anniversary Serenade

We celebrated our two year anniversary on the trip.  After a rocky start to they day, I got to lay on the beach, check out a conch grave yard (awesomeness!), and hang out at a shack.  This was not any shack.  This shack had every version of conch you could

Rum punch!

eat.  Which, my mom managed to do…  I ended up getting some fried plantains and I may have also drank two

Me (doing something)

rum punches…  Unfortunately there was probably orange juice along with pineapple juice in the rum punch.  I was done for the day.  Not because of the alcohol, but because of the juice.  So, it kind of sucked at dinner when I couldn’t eat anything but some cake (I couldn’t NOT eat my anniversary cake!).

Port Lucaya (Freeport)

It again rained while we were on Half Moon Cay, which sucked.  I did get to snorkel

Flowers

for a bit, so that was awesome, but the rain was pretty steady for more than an hour and a half, so it wasn’t just a quick passing shower.  There really isn’t much to do on the island anyway, as it is owned by the cruising industry.  I do

Flower

like Freeport, mostly because you get that “I’m in a foreign country” experience.  To get to the beach/shopping, you have to take a taxi.  It’s a $5/person charge, but the funny thing is that the taxis stuff as many people as possible into a single taxi.  It’s hilarious.  There’s also usually no air conditioning.  And you may stop on the way to buy like $5 in gas so you don’t break down….  Ah, foreign

Debating drinks

travels :).  We discovered when we got into the straw market that the bar where we had the buckets of rum had closed down :(.  Not cool.  We did enjoy a drink called a painkiller, which was delicious.  We tried to get another on the way out from this discount bar.  But he made us long island iced teas instead.  Not what we asked for, but really cheap….  My mom may have stopped for another drink in the terminal area as well….

Vannah

Drinking while being T-Rex

As for the activities/entertainment, I think you get what you want to make of it.  I went to trivia pretty much every day.  I love trivia, so that was a great late afternoon activity for

Ladies Night

me.  I don’t play Bingo so much, nor did I want to pay money for it, so that was out.  I did go see the comediens that were on board.  Two of them were ok.  They each had their moments.  But the third was a lady and she may have been the funniest person I’ve seen in real life.  She was awesome.  The

Ladies Night Food Aftermath

shows at night are only ok.  I do love musicals and all, but review shows aren’t my thing.  Though the last night was the show where some of the guests play different stars and sing.  OMG, awesome!  Elvis was so bad yet so good.  I enjoy cruising, but Ernie didn’t like it as much.  Even with the boat as big as it was, he still felt confined.  Plus, he’s not a lay out/get sun/read/listen to music kind of person, so the days at sea were extra difficult for him.

This is what I came home to:

PUNIM!

And Garden updates:

Zucchini and cukes

Japanese eggplant, radishes, lettuce, yellow squash

Garden Update Week 5

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Garden Update Week 5

I know I’m late with this posting.  But, I hope this is worth the wait!  I have some new changes to the garden.  The first being that I picked pretty much ALL my radishes.  The second is that I had to put up some cages to hold up the tomatoes and the eggplant.  The last is that some of my stuff is not really taking.  It looks like the beets, garlic, and onions are not really taking.  I’m thinking it got a little too hot this spring, so these colder items didn’t get a chance to take.  Not sure, but that’s what I’m thinking.

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I had about a million radishes, so I ended up pickling the radishes (I had some from a CSA as well) and canning them.  Hopefully I’ll do this more this summer 🙂

No Knead Bread

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No Knead Bread

I am not comfortable baking.  Which is funny as I’m a scientist that has to follow protocols very closely.  Yet, when it comes to baking/cooking, I prefer to be able to do things a little more freely.  So, I’ve been avoiding baking bread as I’ve been afraid I was going to mess it up.  I decided I wanted to get over this fear.  So, I found a recipe that was reported in the New York Times for a No Knead Bread.  I combined it with this one reported on Serious Eats to make my version.

No Knead Bread

  • 3 cups flour (all purpose, bread, whole wheat, white-wheat)

    Bread Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 5/8 cup water
  • corn meal or more flour for dusting

In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients and mix well.

Dry Ingredients

Add in the water.  The dough will be very sticky, so don’t worry about that.

Mixed Ingredients

Cover with plastic and set aside at room temp (70 ish degrees) to rise for 12 to 24 hours.  (I did 12)

Covered Dough

At this point, if you won’t be able to cook your bread in two hours, place the dough in the fridge and keep covered.

After rising

The dough can sit up to 5 days in the fridge.  I let it sit 4 days.

Bread after resting in the fridge

Dust a cotton towel or slipat with corn meal or flour.  Flour your hands and transfer the dough to the towel and shape in a ball.

Dough before two hour rise

Dust with more flour/cornmeal and cover with another towel to rise for two-ish hours.

Dough covered

In the last half hour of rising, turn on the oven to 450 degrees and place the container you will cook the bread in into the oven.  Use a cast iron, enamel, stainless steel, pyrex, or ceramic container.  You can add some slits into the top of the bread, but it’s not necessary.  Add dough to the hot container.

Dough into hot container

Cover with the lid of the container and cook for 15 minutes.  After the 15 minutes, take the lid off the container and return to the oven for another 15 to 45 minutes.  Take the bread out and allow the bread to cool on a rack.

BREAD!

A few notes: I felt like there were a lot of steps to make this bread.  Yes, the bread turned out WONDERFUL and had a slight sourdough taste to it due to the resting for a few days.  I loved the holes that formed in the dough to make it look more artisan like.

Inside the bread

But I don’t know if the work for this is going to be that much more worth it versus doing some kneading.  I  might have to do a comparison.  Best part?  Eating home made bread with home made jam on top 🙂

Bread with Jam

Why I Run Part One

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I haven’t always been a runner.  Actually, I went to occupation therapy for many years when I was younger as my coordination was so terrible.  I played some sports in middle and high school, but I was never great at them.  Plus, I always played sports like volleyball and field hockey (goalie) where I didn’t have to run far at all.  So, the idea of running was pretty foreign to me.

A few years back a friend’s dad was very sick with melanoma.  She wanted to do something to raise money for melanoma and for her dad.  So, she asked me to run the Miles for Melanoma 5K in Wilmington, DE.  I couldn’t not do this in support of her and her father, so I agreed.  Unfortunately Big Don died before we could run the 5K, but we both still trained to do the race.

So, in an effort to learn to run (and yes, I needed to learn HOW to run) I decided to try the Couch to 5K program.  The program starts with you doing a 5 minute walk warm up then alternating between 60 seconds running and 90 seconds walking.  You do three workouts a week for a total of nine weeks and work up to running for a full 90 minutes.  I ended up getting a little nervous during week four and repeated it.  That’s the beauty of the C25K workout.  You can repeat as necessary.  I also felt that I wanted some music to accompany my runs, so I downloaded a podcast that had music and the cues for when I needed to change the walk/run.  I listened to Suz, but I also downloaded the podcasts from DJ Beatsmith.  Both now have podcasts for 10Ks as well, which is great.

In an effort to push myself a bit farther, I signed up with some lab mates to run the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April of 2010.

Amy, Aleisha, Caroline, and Myself

This was to be my farthest race ever.  I didn’t train with any of them, though I went with two to the NCR trail in March of that year to get in a long run (found out that I don’t like the NCR trail) and got my first introduction to Back On My Feet.  I finished and was super happy/proud of myself for doing so.  But, I wanted to push myself just a bit farther, so I decided to sign up for the Baltimore Running Festival’s half marathon.  Again, I finished, but I ran alone, and I ended up hurting myself a bit during the training.

So, I joined Back On My Feet (BoMF) just before the Running Festival and had my first run not long after.  Had I not joined BoMF I KNOW I wouldn’t have continued running.  More about this organization and it’s impact on me in the next posting…

Garden update Week 4

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Garden update Week 4

We had some MAJOR rain in the area on Friday night.  There were a few tornadoes even (not close to me, but close enough).  But the reason I’m mentioning this is that Friday night when I came home from dinner my container cucumbers were on the ground.  I righted them, but some damage has been done.  The leaves are looking pretty limp and the flowers have all dried out.  I’m hoping I can bring it back.  My cucumber plan in the garden is doing a bit better at least!

I thought instead of posting everything this week, I’d show what I started to harvest!  Yes, harvest!!!!

Squash blossoms, radish, basil

I harvested more than one basil leaf.  I just had used it right away.  I was trying to recreate a strawberry basil drink I’d had earlier in the week.  I even used some awesome strawberries from a CSA pick-up I got as some friends are on their honeymoon.  My version was not as good, but still fairly tasty.  And my other pic:

Cucumber

So, here is the ONE cucumber growing on my “dying” container cucumber.  I’m hoping some brothers and sisters join it!  Oh, and that radish was delish.  I totally ate it right after the pic.  I dipped it in a little Earth balance and added some sea salt.  ZOMG good 🙂

Veggie Egg Rolls

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Veggie Egg Rolls

I thought I’d start off the new month with an easy to make recipe.  I don’t pretend to be gourmet, though sometimes I wish I was.  But most of the time I need food that is filling, fast, and delicious.  It’s also a bonus when I make food that my husband likes as well.  This is one of those recipes.  I used to LOVE eating veggie egg rolls from a take out restaurant, but I felt SO guilty eating a big roll of fried food.  So, I decided I wanted to make my own baked version.  Let me say that this version is by no means a final one.  I would change some things around next time, which I will mention at the end of the recipe.

Baked Vegetarian Egg Rolls

  • Egg Roll Wrappers (I used Nasoya, but I just received some vegan coconut wraps you could try)

    Ingredients

  • Package of coleslaw mix
  • 3/4 cup frozen edamame
  • 2/3 can of water chestnuts chopped
  • 2/3 can of bamboo shoots
  • 2 tbsp + rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • Sriracha

Heat sesame oil in pan on medium high heat and add frozen edamame.  Allow the beans to cook for a bit, maybe two minutes or so.  Add in the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and stir fry for a minute or so.

Edamame, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts

Add in the package of coleslaw mix and stir.  You may need to add this in batches.  After the cabbage has cooked down a bit add in the vinegar, soy sauce, and sriracha (if using).  Stir to combine and cook for just a minute more.

All ingredients in

Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.  On a clean surface take one wrapper and place so that it looks like a diamond.  Add about two tablespoons of filling to the wrapper.

Place filling in wrapper

First fold the bottom corner up over the filling.

Fold up the bottom next

 Next fold in the two side corners.

Then fold in the sides

 Lastly, roll the wrapper until it’s completely covered.  Don’t pull too hard as the wrappers rip fairly easy.  Repeat this process until you finish with all your filling.  Mine made 14 rolls with lots of wrappers left over.

Assembled rolls

Place rolls on a greased pan and either spray the tops with spray olive oil or if you want an egg wash.  Place in a 400 degree oven for 15ish minutes.  I would check on them after about 10 minutes and see how much longer they may need.  Take out the rolls and enjoy!

Done!

What I would do differently next time….  I would use my wok.  I think I could get a better crunch on the vegies this way.  My inside wasn’t mush, but I wanted a bit more of a bite.  I might also try pan frying my egg rolls so that they get more of a sear to them.  Again, I think this recipe is really versatile and can be changed around to whatever you may have on hand.  I would love to have put mushrooms in this, but my husband would have killed me.  You could easily add chicken to this to make it meaty or add tofu if you prefer over edamame.  Again, easy peasy.  Also, these freeze REALLY well.  I stuck a few in the sandwich sized ziplock bag.  I put them in the fridge overnight to thaw and they were fine when I went to use them.  Oh, and USE SESAME OIL for sure.  A little bit goes a long way, but it totally adds a depth of flavor that this recipe needs.  Just remember to store it in the dark as it can go rancid fairly quickly.