Sunday, January 23, 2011

Paul gets a hobby

I've been trying to convince Paul he needed a hobby for years now.  Actually I've been trying to convince Paul for years that vacuuming was not a hobby.  First he tried gardening.  Then it was baking.  Next he tried woodworking.  I was pretty sure we found a winner when he tried photography, but nope nothing ever came of any of them.

What to do, what to do...?  If only there was a hobby based on an activity that Paul loves.  Hmm...We've already established Paul's love on vacuuming, and I sure hope there's no hobby associated with that.  Paul loves to putter, um, no hobby there.  What does Paul love to do?  Oh, yeah!  Paul loves beer.  And guess what?  Paul has always wanted to make beer!  There you go!

So his kids bought him a pot big enough to cook his wort.  Some kind, generous, thoughtful person (ahem) bought him a propane burner for his birthday, and Paul cashed in some Home Depot gift cards to cover the cost of a propane tank, and quick as wink, Bob's your uncle and Paul is making beer.

The first couple of batches he'll be using a prepackaged IPA mix just to get a hang of all the steps.  Once he's comfortable with all that he'll get into the fun stuff like buying grains and hops, and making his own wort, etc., etc., etc.

Anyway, Paul mixed up the batch today, and hopefully in two weeks he'll be bottling!  I'll keep you posted.

Thursdays with Heather: Asian Art Museum

Last Thursday Heather and I went to the Picasso Show at Seattle Art Museum.  An added bonus is free entry to the Asian Art Museum if we went within a week (showing them our ticket of course).  So, guess we did?  

If you haven't been to the Asian Art Museum you really are missing a treat.  Not only is there some fascinating art that dates back centuries -- CENTURIES!!! -- but it sits in the lovely Volunteer Park.  You could spend a whole day roaming the grounds, enjoying the grounds, the reservoir, the water tower, and the conservatory.  

Both Heather and I are interested in photography, and we're thinking about having a photo shoot one Thursday a month.  Volunteer Park will definitely be on our list.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Zoom-In Tacoma

I was invited to participate in a fun project called Zoom-In Tacoma.  It was connected with the Postcard Project in that the artists who made a postcard were also invited to participate.  The featured photographers were:  Peter Serko, Sharon Styer, Theresa Tavernero, Elayne Vogel, Jim Robbins, Becky Frehse, Paganucci Design, Mick Klass, Duncan James Livingston, Steve Russell, John Carlton, Dan Hill, Rick Semple, Tom Holts, Lance Kagey, and myself.
Kevin and Celeste in front of my photos.

The Artists' Reception was held Thursday at Mavi Gallery, and there were lots of people milling about.  I had a lot of fun meeting up with friends I hadn't seen for a while, and enjoying everyone's work.  If you get some time, stop by and check out the show.  Mavi Gallery is also showing some great work by William Quinn, William Turner, and Christopher Mathey.

Elayne and Claudia enjoying the show

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A new blog!

I know.  I thought the same thing -- another blog?  I can't even keep my first blog updated on a regular basis.  But then I started noticing things, like how most of my posts were about cooking, and most of the blogs I read are about cooking, and I thought why not?  I'll start my own cooking blog.  And so I have.  It's called Cooks from Books.  I've copied the first two posts of this year, but starting tomorrow I'll have a brand new post.  Check it out, and tell me what you think.

50 in 50, Day 1

Last night marked the beginning of my quest to cook 50 new recipes in 50 days, and I made Fresh Bean Stew with Corn and Acorn Squash. I had to substitute a few items (canned black-eyed peas for dry, and flat leaf parsley for the cilantro) but I don't think it hurt the dish too much. The stew was tasty, and had a nice smoky base from the chili powder, and a bit of a kick from the cayenne. My only complaint (and a very picky one at that) was the dish wasn't very...pretty. The corn and flecks of parsley added a bit of contrast to the brown stew, but I was hoping for a bit of color from the acorn squash. I know you're thinking what is she talking about? The stew looks fine. Which is what Paul said so I'll let the matter go, and not bring up that I used a flash which lightened things up, etc. Speaking of Paul, I will definitely try this again since he really liked it.

Fresh Bean Stew with Corn and Acorn Squash
The Complete Vegan Cookbook
Yield: 4 main-dish servings

2 cups shelled fresh cranberry beans or black-eyed beans
2 cups peeled and diced acorn squash
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large which onion, diced
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen kernels (see note)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a stockpot combine the beans with the acorn squash, stock, chili powder, oregano, and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a small skillet and saute the onion over medium heat until nicely browned, about 10 minutes, then stir into the beans. At the end of the 20 minutes simmering time, add the wine, garlic, salt, cayenne, and 3/4 cup of the corn kernels. Return to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.
Place the remaining 3/4 cup corn kernels in the blender with the cilantro and 1/3 cup of water. Puree the mixture, then add to the beans and cook an additional 15 minutes, until the beans are tender and the liquid has reduced to a thick consistency. Serve hot.

Note: If using frozen corn kernels, place them in a colander and rinse briefly under warm water to melt off any ice crystals before adding them to the dish. If using fresh corn you will need about three medium ears to yield the 1 1/2 cups of kernels.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

50 Days, 50 Recipes.

I love cookbooks. I love to curl up on my recliner all cozy in a blanket pouring over the recipes like they're pages of a romance book. I drool over the photos, and imagine how everything must taste. Every once in a while I take a spin at cooking the recipe.

It's also fun for me to scroll through Amazon's cookbook section and add titles that interest me to my wishlist. If I'm a good girl then Santa, I mean Paul, gives some to me for Christmas. And I must have been a very, very good girl because for Christmas I received A Great American Cook (Jonathan Waxman), The Greens Cookbook (Madison Brown), The Complete Vegan Cookbook (Geiskope-Hadler & Toomay), Heathy Cooking for Two (Frances Price), The Best Soups in the World (Clifford A. Wright), The New Whole Grains Cookbook (Robin Asbell), and I've been pouring over them for the last three weeks.

Today I sat down and wrote a list of all the recipes I want to try. I came up with 50, and decided to challenge myself to try one recipe a day. I already know what's cooking tonight: Fresh Bean Stew with Corn and Acorn Squash.

I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.