Friday, June 24, 2016

Food Friday: Ditilini, hot and sweet peppers, and red sauce

We had some ditilini pasta in a jar in the pantry.  We also had some Hot and Sweet Cherry Peppers one shelf below the pasta.  As I was trying to use up the food in the pantry and in the refrigerator, I decided that ditilini pasta and Trader Joe's Hot and Sweet Peppers were a match made in heaven.  For me, at least.

2 cups dry ditilini pasta (small round tubes)
4 hot and sweet peppers, finely chopped
2 cups prepared red pasta sauce

Cook the ditilini to your preferred done-ness in heavily salted boiling water. (You really do want a lot of salt in pasta cooking water. It makes a HUGE difference in taste.  Try it next time!) When done, drain, then put back in the same pot and immediately add the chopped peppers and red sauce.  Stir well and serve.

You can top it with lots of things.  I put grated Parmesan cheese on one and kale chips on mine.  It was pretty good.  Dear One went back for seconds and was very happy to eat the remaining bits the following day!

Ditilini Bowls.  There is Parmesan on the right.  Kale chips were eventually added to the left bowl.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Temple Bunny in the Roses

We were at the temple and as we walked out to our car through the glorious rose garden I saw a little movement.  Stopping, I saw that it was a small brown bunny.

The bunny was not very skittish but it DID move so it was hard to snap a good picture.  See if you can find him!  I am calling Waldo so....Where's Waldo?

After watching Waldo for a little while I went on to the car.  When I turned from Waldo, on the other side of the walkway in the greenery was his sister just getting ready to cross over to the roses.  When she saw me, she immediately turned and ran back into the security of the tall leaves.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Watercolor Fun: Balloons!

When I was teaching a family history class this spring I had the blessing of having a famous watercolor artist (Ann Semprebon) in my class.  She offered watercolor lessons to me in exchange for more family history helps!  Is that a deal, or what!!!

So on Tuesday I went to her class for the first time.  She is starting from the beginning with me:  how to use the brush. I have loved each of the few classes I have previously attended but have never learned this stuff.  I have a LOT of work to do in learning how to manipulate the brush to get the effect I want.  Of course,  that assumes that I know what effect I want to achieve, I guess.

At this point I just want to put paint on paper and make it look like something.

When I finished playing with color at the end of the class I had about seven or eight cards full of color....not nice washes and not glazes but still, color.  One of the class members said, "You could make that into balloons!  That had never occurred to me but when I looked at the card with open eyes, there were some balloons!

Here they are:

Balloons discovered in color play at watercolor class.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Watercolor--The First Cardinal

One night while I was visiting M came home from work and said, "Let's paint tonight!"  I was thrilled.  I opened YouTube and went to a tutorial.  She wanted a bird to paint so we found one.

This cardinal is my cardinal.

Because I try very hard not to make comparisons,  I will just say that I am happy enough with this guy. 

Our process was to watch the YouTube all the way through.  We liked it and thought it was do-able so we went back to the beginning and started watching again.  Megan stopped it after a few brush strokes and kept it up until we were done.  She took a great deal of care with her painting.  I more or less slapped it together. That is what it looks like, too!

When I got tired of the cardinal I just drew some pine needles without remembering what they looked like on the original.  I sort of don't mind how mine came out....

Perhaps I will do more work on this bird.  Especially the beak.  I love M's beak.

PLUS, I like her green Frog Tape!  I use blue painters' tape, which works great, BUT don't you just love the green tape?!

This is the video we used as our inspiration...

In looking at the original and then looking at our paintings, I see that both of us have birds sitting very dignified and upright.  The cardinal in the YouTube is more relaxed and bent over on the branch.

When I showed our birds to Dear One, he said they were too fat, that they did not look like the slim and sylph-like cardinals at our bird feeder (when our bird feeder was still up.  No bird feeders now because of the bears...).

My thought is to try this again, after I have re-worked the beak on the current painting.  Of course,  I need to get the kitchen cleaned and tidy, the workroom organized, the garden weeded, and so on or I will feel guilty painting...

Monday, June 20, 2016

Newsy Bits: The Airport--Not Very Interesting

So recently I was flying home again.  Yay!  Always wonderful to go on a visit but getting home again is such a blessing.

This time I had found a wonderful "businessman's carry-on" at a large thrift store. I had seen such a bag when a scientist was in one of the genealogy classes I teach.  He brought his computer and other stuff to class in it.  I always have such a struggle getting stuff from Point A to Point B.  This rolling bag really caught my eye. I started investigating on the internet to see what I could find.

WELL!  Every bag I saw seemed to be of inferior quality or VERY expensive. I kind of gave up on the idea of purchasing one.  Unless I found one in a thrift store....which I did.

On Thursday I mailed home all the books I had acquired on this trip, along with several other rather heavy items that would fit in the flat-rate box.

Packing was a matter of sliding my clothes and medical items, etc into the large bag that I was going to check.  I had purchased some WONDERFUL freezer containers which took up a large part of the bag, but which were so light as to make the bag only 46 pounds at the airport.  That was good news. I had hoped not to have to remove anything and carry it on.  Leaving stuff was not an option!

Putting my computer, watercolor paints, low-tack tape, cardinal painting still on the plexiglass board, along with my camera and lens into the "new" businessman's rolling carry-on made me very happy.

The second piece of carry-on was my black zippered duffle-sort-of thing.  Into that I put the small red zippered bag the nice lady at AAA gave me when I stopped in at their office for maps and tourist books some years ago.  In the red bag I had the food for the next morning since I did not want to have to buy food on Sunday morning even though my favorite airport food place (Currito---they have a fabulous Asian salad and dressing--probably 90 percent sugar) is at the arrival airport.  I also had my headphones and planned to add my purse so I could shove the whole thing in one piece under my seat on the airplane.

On the way to the airport we had stopped at Franz's Bakery Outlet to pick up some raspberry-filled cake donuts. Yes,  filled cake donuts.  I discovered these at a Franz Outlet in a different city and just knew Dear One would love them.   I purchased an extra box and gave to daughter and grandson who gave them a solid thumbs-up.  So far I have managed to avoid eating one.  Anyway, these were also stowed in the small red zippered bag.

Finally I am getting to the point.

The big bag was checked through.  I had my stroller, businessman's bag, black duffle, and purse.  The stroller was taken away from me by the TSA agent to be scanned manually at great length. I shot all three other items through the x-ray rollers and stepped  through the x-ray portal.  Surprisingly I stepped through and was not asked to go back through or step aside to be wanded.  Yay! That never happens.

My luggage was not so lucky.  Every. Single. Piece. caused problems!  That has never happened before.  I was TSA Pre-checked so I should have been able to just walk through with no problems BUT that option apparently closed at 5 PM.  At this point it was 8:30 PM.  The computer in the bag had to be checked for explosive residue.  No problem. I am glad they do it.  However,  the bag was seriously packed. It was a pain to get the computer out to check and even harder for the checker to put it back together.  The black duffle had the food, as I mentioned. I did not mention that part of the food was in an insulated bag with a bottle of ice to keep it cold.  The ice had melted.  That is a no-no, so that was thrown out.  I never did find out what the issue was with the purse, though as I am writing this it occurs to me that it might have been the small bundle of paintbrushes I got at Dick Blick's.

So, another exciting airport adventure.  Well, it does pass the time.  Two more hours until lift off...

Friday, June 17, 2016

Food Friday: Kale Chips

Two years ago or so I heard of kale chips.  Daughter-in-law A made some for me.  They were fabulous.  I tried making them along the same lines as how you roast other vegetables.  Obviously I had not listened to the directions because cooking them at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes did NOT work!  Nothing but ashes left.

This morning I arose, cleaned the kitchen where I was staying, and started again making kale chips.  I could not find olive oil.  So...I used the spray bottle of some kind of unknown oil.  I could not find the kosher salt.  So...I used the mineral rock salt that was in a grinder which grinds exceedingly fine.

This time I set the oven temperature at 350 degrees F.  I put the washed, dried, and broken-into-bite-sized-pieces of kale that had previously been stripped from the kale ribs on a Silpat-lined pan.  After spraying them with the no-name oil, I sprinkled them with a mixture of equal amounts of granulated garlic, granulated onion, and salt then some ground black pepper.  I sort of fluffed everything up in hopes that the kale would be coated on both sides with the oil and seasonings.

After five minutes in the oven, I removed the pan and moved the kale around then returned to the oven for another five minutes.  It was pretty close to done. I gave it another 2-3 minutes then pulled it out to cool and finish crisping.

A bunch of kale made two pans of kale chips...because you want the kale to be in a single layer.  You really do.  Don't kid yourself that it will come out really well if you have the kale piled thickly on the pan.  It only takes about ten minutes to bake so do yourself a favor and divide it into two pans...

This is a picture of half of the kale.
When the second pan  was done, the container was heaped with kale chips.  Nice green crispy kale chips.  The only problem with them was they did not taste very good. I was using someone else's recipe and alternate ingredients.  Do yourself another favor by using olive oil drizzled over the kale and perhaps add some chili powder to the garlic, onion, KOSHER salt, and black pepper.  This stuff tasted like nothing. What a disappointment.  Totally my fault for not waiting for someone in the house to tell me where to find the right ingredients.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Gardening: The Front Garden As I Left It

With the planned trip to visit granddaughter G's graduation I had to rush some plants into the ground in the front of the house.  These plants had been languishing beside the house underneath the water spigot for more than a week and were beginning to look rather wimpy.

Finally I put them into the ground.  Hope springs eternal and all that stuff, so I hope when I get home they will look better than they do here.

Front Garden: 27 May 2016

To the left you can see the flourishing rhubarb plant.  In the background are four tomato cages with tomatoes inside, one of which is Amish Paste Tomato for the first time, the others being heritage tomatoes of some kind whose names I have forgotten.  In the middle you can see green leaf lettuce interspersed with marigolds to keep the bad bugs away.  Hope, again!  To the right you can see red leaf lettuce.  In the sort of empty-looking part are some itty-bitty leeks, some garlic planted from seed last summer, and some chives that have been divided.  In the front of the garden you can see the lawn...