Arachnaphobia

So I don’t just cook.  Surprising, right?  I also do biology stuff, some of which involves frolicking running about in the great outdoors.  I think I’m a pretty critter friendly kind of gal.

I’ve rescued baby birds and squirrels, and even rats.  Rescued a few grown squirrels, too (from the cats).  Word to the wise, they bite like, well…rodents.  A can/squirrel grabber or thick gloves can be very handy in these situations.

Kitchen Kat is not the culprit in that story.  He is definitely indoor only kitteh material.  Like, afraid to stick more than his head out the door!  The kitchen is a good place for him 🙂

I really don’t even mind insects.  But spiders…. we’re talking a whole different ballgame here, kids.

I think I was initially warped by that whole Little Miss Muffett thing.  Then I found out what curds and whey are, and was further warped.

When I was a kid, we lived out in the country.  In the woods, by the bayou.  Sound familiar?  And yes, this is the place I’m actually planning on building our palace on the bayou!

One memorable night, a spider crawled out of my hair onto my face while I was trying to get to sleep.  This was the first infringement of my personal space by the aforementioned beasties.  Needless to say, Mom and Dad were not amused by the bloodcurdling screams issuing from my bedroom after lights out.  Especially after they saw the tiny culprit on my bed.  Sensibly, I had abandoned said bed and was clinging halfway up the built-in bookcases on the other side of the room.

There were always the banana spiders.  At least, that’s what we called them.  Big, but at least they mostly stayed in the trees.

Unless you weren’t watching where you were going and walked into a web.  That story ends up with a GIGANTIQUE spider plastered across your face.  😦

Then there was the night of the tarantula.  Now, there are tarantulas that live in the woods out there.  Large wolf spiders are much more common, but the occasional tarantula happens.  When I saw the tarantula in my bedroom, I ran into the other room to get my Dad, as there was no way in Hell I was getting close enough to combat the huge thing.

Guess what?

I never slept in that room again.

I suppose I should be thankful that we of the Western Hemisphere do not have any species of spider that eagerly looks to take on a human.  And wins.

I hear stories from Australia that make my toes curl.

Meet the Sidney Funnel Web spider.  With inch long fangs that will pierce LEATHER.

Those inch long fangs dripping venom make a tarantula look friendly.  Almost cuddly.

Remember that trip of a lifetime to Australia that you always wanted to take BEFORE you learned that almost all of the wildlife, terrestrial, aquatic, and marine, as well as the plants, were just waiting for their window of opportunity to kill your goofy butt for invading their territory?

Don’t know about you, but I’ll be going to New Zealand.  I like sheep.  Sheep are just fine. As a bonus, they only have 4 legs!

Even when they insist on nibbling at my clothing.

Jackets are replaceable.  😛

Back in the Groove

Finally the thanksgiving madness is over.  It seems I have a week or two until the Christmas madness begins.

This is the time of year that I’m actually happy to have a VERY small family.

Hubby, Rat Boy and I traveled last week to Hubby’s family reunion.  For me, it was more like a “meet the greater part of his family” week.  I felt like I was in a Pauly Shore movie at times.  🙂

I had a massive meltdown the week before we went, wanting to impress with my mad kitchen skillz.  Instead I promptly turned into my mother…who does not go into the kitchen except to clean after Dad cooks!

I exploded turnovers.

I created the cracked surface of Mars instead of pie crust.

I baked cranberry muffins that could be considered deadly weapons.

We journeyed for 7 hours to the designated location.  It was totally worth it, though.  Hubby has a wonderful family.  🙂

Did I mention that I hadn’t met most of them until now? ( I had met 2…we shared turkey and tofurky with 20!)

After all was said and done, we had a fantastic feast, thanks to Hubby’s tribe.  And I got to see sea turtles in rehab, go to the beach, and fly kites.  Overall, it was great!

After another 7 hour drive it was time for some pizza 🙂 and then a shopping excursion yesterday with Mum.  Today I restock the kitchen, and might even be able to remember how to cook something edible!

Hope everyone had a fabulous Turkey Day!  And that nobody sprayed you with pepper spray if you were brave enough to go shopping on Black Friday!  😛

Lemon Blueberry Bread

I’m starting a new policy.  When descending upon friends with my family swarm, I propose to bring baked goods to increase our desirability as couch-surfing guests!  😛

And…I got goodies to bake other nomable stuff with!  My very first Pampered Chef stoneware… a bar pan.  Now I can make even better bar-type baked yummies!  Thanks again Aggie!  🙂  (Especially since Mum wants me to bake her 3 batches of brownies for a party!)

I was hoping that the blueberry bread would be a hit last weekend, and it was.  Go me!!!  Even the kids who won’t eat anything (I am not naming names) ate this and loved it.  It is quick and easy to create, and it looks pretty too. 😀

Could you ask for more???  No cut pics though, since this loaf was a gift.  Yumtastic blueberries throughout the bread, with a lovely hint of lemon.  😛

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray with oil, or butter a 9x5x3 loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.

Use an electric mixer to beat 6 tbsp butter until softened, then add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.  Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating in well.  Stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tbsp lemon zest.  Turn the mixer to low to add the flour mixture and  1/2 cup milk, alternating additions to begin and end with the flour.  Mix only until combined, then gently fold in about 2/3 of the blueberries.  I used a pint of blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and sprinkle the remaining blueberries evenly across the top of the batter.  Then bake 55 to 65 minutes, until the bread is golden brown.  Cool in the pan about 10-15 minutes, then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack so that the sides and bottom don’t become soggy.

 

Taking Root

Having crossed our great state of Texas 6 times in the past 3 weeks, I’m feeling a bit beat up.  Maybe it’s residual motion sickness.  Whatever.

A few things have kept me going, besides the awesomness of my family and friends.  One of them is Bloggess.  Because I feel a bit like Copernicus looks.  And I need hugs, too.

Since I’m really not up to actually murdering anyone today, I’ll also share with you all the end of the Basil rooting experiment.  It’s still alive and looking good, by the way.  Go me!  😛

The water is that interesting shade of brown due to the seaweed solution which I had dumped into the plain tap water.  Seaweed stimulates cell growth, so I was trying to be kind to the little rootlet before manhandling it.  And then the dirty work!

Looks happy, right?  Especially with a dish of yummy pasta with meat sauce sneaking into the photo!  Life is a juggling act…on one foot when you have a tiny kitchen.  😀

I’ll try really hard to have something more foody tomorrow.  Honestly, I just couldn’t find the motivation to visit the kitchen today, other than to make coffee this morning!  Maybe it was that yoga class last night.

After missing so many classes from being out of town, I could barely walk to the kitchen this morning.  😦

I struggled on…the coffee was worth it!

On the Road Again

Summertime.  August.  Hot…goes without saying I suppose, since most of the country seems to be having ridiculously hot weather.  And we are trekking across Texas again!  Visits to Aggieland generally include a stop at the Trollbead store.

MMMMMMMMM…pretty!

The glass beads, similar to Pandora, but I think prettier, are hand blown glass from Denmark.  Every bead is slightly different, even when they are the same bead, because of the actual handcrafting, almost unheard of in this day of mass production.  A trip to the Trollbead store requires an open schedule, companionship, and an iron will…or a spending limit on the bank card!  They should have a sign:

At least it’s only detrimental to your pocketbook.  😛  Now, if I could just rationalize that shopping = exercise!

Should be back home in a day or two, getting prepared for schooling Rat Boy, and trying out some new recipes I’ve been perusing.  Meanwhile, remember…

because it’s Texas after all!

Polygamy in Texas!

You heard me.  Polygamy.  For the Beer of the Week, we have Polygamy Porter.

It’s a long story, but I’ve got time!  😛

When Rat Boy was 8, we went to the beautiful state of Utah to visit an old chum of mine whose son just happens to be the same age.  On the way there, we visited Carlsbad Caverns and the bats.  We drove over the continental divide at 2 A.M. with only the moon and some 18-wheelers for company.  We traveled old Route 66 to Flagstaff, Arizona (yes, I DO love the song).  We saw the sky blue waters of Lake Powell.  We took a couple of unplanned detours, but rolled into Moab, Utah about 10 P.M. after having planned to be there around 6!  We also saw a Mountain Lion (felis concan) crossing the road and managed NOT to hit it!

As newcomers to the awesomeness that is Utah, the first place we stopped was a bar & grill to get a bite to eat…and a beer for me.  This was my first encounter with Polygamy Porter.  Somehow, I ended up with a glass in my purse.  STOP JUDGING ME!!

When we came out, refreshed and ready to hit the hotel room, I discovered that I had locked my keys n the car.  The AAA guy arrived speedily, and proceeded to work on getting the car unlocked…for almost 2 hours.  So I had another several beers while we waited.

 

They had great pizza too!

As I was leaving the market this weekend, I saw a 6-pack of Polygamy Porter!  Imagine my surprise.  Of course, I brought it home, and it’s just as good as I remember, which sadly I can’t say about everything.

Polygamy Porter is brought to the world by the Wasatch Brewery, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Now, I’m aware that Mormons, a.k.a. The Church of Latter Day Saints, do NOT drink adult beverages.  Heck, they don’t even drink caffeine!  I really wonder how they do that, but we can discuss my coffee habit another time.

This is a light porter, weighing in at only 4% alcohol.  Nonetheless, it is not light on taste.  It has a rich, slightly chocolaty, toasted malt flavor which is quite pleasing.  The drinkability factor is high, even in the heat of summer.

So I got to use my glass, which up until now has been serving a purely decorative purpose.

 

 

This is not a highly carbonated beverage, so no big head of foam.  Nor does it make you feel heavy or bloated.  I would recommend it if you can find it locally, or if you’re in Utah!  🙂

It was a little better on tap.  But then again, what isn’t?

Home Again

We arrived home in good order last evening, after trekking back across Texas much faster this trip, as the other drivers apparently had shaken off their Friday lethargy and had returned to SOP (driving 85 to 90) so we made good time…Rat Boy and my nephew ensconced in the back seat.  Started out with a quick trip to Starbuck’s for driving coffee.

Nephew is visiting for a week so that Grandma can take the boys out to enjoy every activity that she could think of which could be enjoyed by adolescent boys.  They had to get up at 9.  🙂

Kitchen Kat was happy to see us.  He didn’t even hide under the bed!

Planned to post this yesterday, but somehow my computer was immediately hijacked upon our arrival, so I just read a good book and patiently waited for the boys to switch to X-box.  Waited, and waited…then went to bed.

Today, I’ll get to the market and stock up to feed 2 teenaged boys…and Hubby.  You’d think they were out actually doing work all day the way they eat!  So there should be lots of fun food to share this week.  And I’m heading out to the pool for daily laps (which haven’t been daily lately) before it actually reaches 100!

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