Archive for the ‘spring’ Category

Excursion

4 April 2010

My friend Ron wished to go to Hawk Mountain for his birthday, so his wife e-mailed a bunch of friends and got together a small gathering for a huge lunch and a short hike. I was pleased to attend!

We met at 11:45 at the Port Clinton Hotel, in Port Clinton, PA, which prides itself on serving huge portions.  I think their burgers must start with more than half a pound of ground beef.  I had the Mushroom Swiss burger, and it was cooked perfectly to my medium-rare specification.  The four of us shared a large order of fries, and we were unable to finish them.  I couldn’t finish my burger, either, though it was very yummy.

After lunch, we loaded the four of us into a Mini Cooper for the short drive from Port Clinton to Hawk Mountain.  After putting on our hats, choosing our viewing equipment and cameras, and paying our trail fees, we crossed the road to the trail.

The weather was beautiful – warm and sunny, but not too warm and not humid.  The sun was lovely through the still-bare branches of the woods, and there was a perfect breeze at the rocky lookout points where the sun was strongest, so nobody got too hot.  It was my first time visiting the mountain, and the trails were busy and the lookout points were getting a fair amount of traffic.  Families with small children, groups of teens, random people who seemed to just want a place to sit and talk on their cell phones.  Why come to such a nice place to talk on your phone?  I suppose it beats talking on the phone inside your house.  But it seems awfully public for one of the conversations we heard.

We saw a lot of turkey vultures, which are not that special, in my opinion.  They are found all over Pennsylvania.  But while we were at the North Outlook, which has an excellent view down the valley the birds fly up, the Hawk Mountain interns there pointed out a bald eagle, which took its time soaring by.  That was pretty special.

It was also pretty special to relax in the outdoors, to laugh and joke, and enjoy the sunshine!  And never fear, I wore sunscreen and did not get a burn.

I’m really glad I got out into the woods this weekend!  Happy Birthday, Ron!

Our hike

Spring training

21 March 2010

I have a feeling training in the Spring is going to be a lot more pleasant than Summer training later this year.

The weather has been beautiful this weekend and we have been taking advantage. I have been walking, and Greg has been gardening. Today I saw two magnolia trees in full bloom, a lot of magnolias in bud and partial bloom, many crocuses, tiny daffodils smaller than crocuses, pansies, and lots of people out working in their gardens! This was on a walk of about 3.5 miles, which I did in a little over an hour. It was a good walk!

On Friday I took a personal day from school to attend the NSTA convention in Philadelphia. I planned ahead to get of the train at University City, so I would have a two mile walk to the Convention Center before attending any events. All worked perfectly, and I wore my pedometer to count my steps. It is half a mile between my house and the train station, adding another mile to my day’s total. The one thing is I can’t figure is how far I walked on the floor of the vast exhibit hall, or going back and forth between sessions at the convention center, the Marriott, and the Loews Hotel. I am guessing, since my pedometer read 17914 at the end of the day that I must have gone at least an extra 2 miles while at NSTA, but I cannot truly tell.

Saturday I had initially planned to attend NSTA, but after the past several weekends being very busy and really only “1-day” weekends, I decided to give myself a 2-day weekend and stayed home.  I managed to get in 40 minutes of DDR, and a LOT of good sleep!  I feel much better for all the extra sleep!  Last weekend I was at our local AAPT meeting on Saturday, the weekend before that I spent all day Saturday in Brooklyn with Science Bowl, the weekend before that I enjoyed my friend Sarah’s company on Sunday, and the weekend before that was Physics Olympics on Saturday.  So even though I am looking forward to Spring Break next week (starts March 27!), I felt like I really needed two days of weekend. It was great!

Now if only I had finished all this grading…

PS: you can keep track of my walking training on my new Training Log page.  Click on the link on the upper right when you are on the home page!

Cosmetic Surgery

18 April 2009

I do this every year.  Well, one year my husband did it instead.  We remove 90-95% of the rose biomass in the front garden, going from this:

rosebefore

to this:

roseafter

in the space of an hour.

I like this task.  It is one of the very few gardening tasks I actually enjoy.  I get to do it standing up.  It doesn’t take long.  The results are immediately obvious.  It keeps my mind active as I make multiple decisions on where to cut with the following goals in mind:

  • make the canes shorter than waist height
  • keep the plant “airy” without a lot of center growth and without criss-crossing canes
  • remove diseased bits
  • guide each plant to grow in preferred directions (i.e. up and sideways, not out over the driveways on either side)
  • leave a few leaves so the plants can still get energy from the sun

It’ll seem like no time between now and when the roses are once more taller than me.

Cheer Up!

14 April 2009

There are lots of good things in the world, so despite the fact that I have grades due this week (and I’m not done grading, duh) and it is cold and rainy and I keep feeling chills and my lesson plans were made all topsy-turvy for a day (it’s only Tuesday, it’s only Tuesday, deep breath), THERE ARE REASONS TO SMILE AND BE HAPPY!

1) My highly intelligent husband who blew the GMAT exam out of the water last year was accepted into the graduate program of his choice, to start this fall.  And his work will pay for it!  Yay!  Plus he will still be earning a salary!  Double Yay!

2) I discovered yummy ice-cream sandwiches at the H-mart that contain vanilla ice cream and red bean paste (yum, red bean paste!) and while I don’t have any left the photo still makes me smile because they are shaped like FISH!

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3) A friend of mine from college has the most amazing Easter resurrection video on her blog today, that DEFINITELY makes me smile!

4) There is more than enough chocolate, tea, and cheese in my house to get me through this week of getting grades completed.

5) Rainbows!  Rainbows are happy!

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I’m sure there is more but I can’t think of what else will make me smile right now…I think it is time for some tea!  And then grading!

Sakura

11 April 2009

Every year, Subaru sponsors a cherry-blossom festival in Philadelphia.  Jenny invited me to join her and her brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews in enjoying Sakura Sunday, in Fairmount Park.  Since I am trying to learn Japanese, it seemed like an excellent idea, and fortuitously it was a beautiful day and the beginning of Spring Break, so I felt no pressure and had no agenda.  Whee!

Jenny and I stopped at the H-mart to pick up some sesame- and nut-free snacks (one of her nephews has allergies) and some green tea, and parked a pleasant walk away from the festivities.  We found a place to park our picnic supplies, and had time to enjoy some drumming by the Swarthmore College taiko drummers and some dancers doing traditional dances before taking the tour of the Japanese House, Shofuso.

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It is especially nice to see these things with Jenny, who has lived in Japan and knows Japanese and about the culture.  She was able to explain that the artist who painted the sliding screen-walls of Shofuso, Hiroshi Senju,  lives part time in New York and part time in Tokyo and painted the screens with a sort of spraypainting technique.  Also, the pond in the garden is in the shape of the kanji for “heart” (you can’t tell that from my photos, though—see my flickr set) and the roof is thatched in an old technique that is dying out even in Japan.

After lunch, I wandered around the festival and caught a glimpse of the Cherry Blossom Queen (Erisa Kazui, in the US to visit Philadelphia’s and Washington DC’s cherry blossom festivals).  I entered a drawing to win a trip to Japan (I won a t-shirt, which I have not received yet), looked over the go games, the carp windsock making table (nobody over the age of 8 seemed to be participating, so I just watched), and the origami tables.  In addition, I found out that the “Dr. Robot” sumo robot wrestling people do children’s parties and school visits, and took some pictures of the calligraphy.  I also bought some kimono fabric: two swatches of silk and one of cotton.

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Sakura Sunday was an ideal way to kick off my break, which started out fairly productively (I sewed, I accomplished some schoolwork and some housework, I bought a Japanese textbook (again with help from Jenny, THANK YOU!), but which has since tapered off into procrastination.  Ah well, I will remember the fun I had as I sit at my desk trying to finish up the grading I left for the last day of vacation.

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More Spring Stuff

22 March 2009

My husband has decided to try planting vegetables this year.  He decided this before Michelle Obama decided to have a vegetable garden at the white house, and has been pondering where to put the seeds he ordered.  I’d like to put in some rosemary, which I have always kept in a pot, but which I’ve seen survive the winter a couple of blocks away so I want to try it in the ground now.  I have to wait until all the veggie seeds are in the ground, though.

I know some of the veggies will go in among the roses, but today was pea-planting day.  Yes, we know peas are supposed to be planted on St. Patrick’s day, but it was pretty chilly here on the 17th and it was rainy the day my husband took a day off from work, so today it was.

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Now, I did not see the seed packet these came in, nor did I look closely at the seeds (it isn’t my project, after all), but I trust that my husband planted peas and not mini-marshmallows.  If these grow, I’ll try to remember to post more photos!

Fiiii-nally

22 March 2009

I am very glad that it is spring.

The longer daily period of sunlight, the blooming flowers, the lack of upcoming science competitions to prepare for, all contribute to my lighter mood!

I love that the crocuses that I planted over a year ago are in their second blooming season and they have clearly multiplied!  I have had snowdrops blooming since January, and they got buried several times in snow.  But now, I have many crocuses!  Look!

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That last photo is of the mini daffodils that are next to bloom…soon!

I hope you are also enjoying spring!

Leftovers

15 May 2008

Tonight was leftovers night.  I was very excited.  Leftover macaroni and cheese, my favorite since childhood.  Not the blue-box type, but made with homemade sauce started with a butter and flour roux.  Add warmed milk and thicken slowly over medium-low heat.  Then add extra-sharp cheddar and stir until it melts in.  Pour over cooked macaroni and top with crushed saltine crackers.  Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top.  mmmmMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I had some leftover green beans and leftover potatoes, and I cut those into bite-sized pieces and added them, with a sliced radish, to some leftover baby lettuce from last week’s CSA share.  Balsamic vinaigrette topped off my salad.

No leftovers for dessert.  Just a fresh strawberry or two, from this week’s CSA share.  There weren’t very many, but these are fresh, local, red-all-the-way-through, super sweet strawberries.

Gourmet

11 May 2008

It is CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season finally, and on Thursday we received our first 2008 share of organic vegetables from Lancaster Farm Fresh: baby salad greens, spinach, radishes, mushrooms, and asparagus. We are splitting the share with another family, and we gave up romaine (there was only one head in the share) but gained the full complement of asparagus in exchange. The large quantity of salad greens means we are eating salad with every dinner, because we will almost assuredly get more salad greens next week. Fruit shares start later this month…I’m hoping for strawberries! I’m also very much looking forward to a succession of peaches, watermelons, and finally apples at the end of the season. Last year we enjoyed new potatoes, an abundance of heirloom tomatoes, and more fresh corn than we could eat, and we are hoping for an equally abundant season this year!

Cooking with local food feels virtuous and tastes delicious. The shorter the distance the food travels from farm to table, the lower the carbon emissions from the transport and the fresher (and yummier) the food. So what are we cooking up with our bounty?

Friday night we had Jeanne Lemlin’s Fettucine with Asparagus in Lemon Cream Sauce (from her book Quick Vegetarian Pleasures) and a side salad. Tonight we are planning to make calzones with spinach and mushrooms, and a side salad.

But it is this morning’s breakfast that is referred to in the title. Recipe details follow.

Yesterday my wonderful husband made a batch of English muffins. I split one and toasted it. I spread both halves with herb butter, placed a layer of chopped French breakfast radishes on that, and added some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then I topped each half with a fried egg, cooked sunny-side up but placed upside-down on the muffin halves, with the yolk broken and running over the radishes. A little more salt and pepper, and I was ready to dig in.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm.

It was not pretty enough to take a photo, but I wish I could give you taste-o-vision over the internet. If I had a restaurant this would be on the brunch menu.

English muffins

1 pkg active dry yeast
1.5 cups lukewarm water
2 tbs sugar
4 cups flour
0.5 cup dry milk powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tbs soft butter or margarine
1.5 tsp salt
white cornmeal

Dissolve yeast in half a cup of lukewarm water. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup water, sugar, 2 cups of flour, and milk powder. Add yeast mixture and beat well. Add egg, butter, salt, and 1 cup flour. Stir until the dough cleans the bowl. Spread the remaining flour on a board, turn out the dough onto it, and knead for 10 minutes. Return the dough to a greased bowl and let rise until doubled.

Turn out the dough on the floured board and pat out to almost the desired thickness. Sprinkile well with cornmeal and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut carefully with sharp cutter. Put on sheets of waxed paper sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled.

Bake on an ungreased griddle with temperature a little lower than that used for pancakes, 7 to 8 minutes for browning each side.

Herb butter (adapted from Guy Clark at Fork & Knife)

1/2 pkg cream cheese or neufchâtel cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 clove garlic, put through a garlic press
fresh chives, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped
(you may substitute whatever herbs you have available—these were what I have growing on the deck currently)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Let cream cheese and butter come to room temperature. Add all remaining ingredients and combine with fork. Pack into a ramekin or custard cup and refrigerate until firm.

Pi day

13 March 2008

I had to explain this to someone recently…but I won’t say who. Pi day…you know, 3.14…right. THAT pi. Well, I teach a bunch of nerdy kids, and while I don’t usually celebrate pi day (it is more of a math thing) my AP class decided we are having pies tomorrow to celebrate. Conveniently, we have a double-period class, so we may actually do some physics as well as eat pie.

It also happens to be the last day of class before spring break, so the pies celebrate that as well. I am making ice cream pie. Mint-chocolate-chip ice cream pie, with a chocolate cookie crumb crust and a layer of ganache on the bottom.

Thinking about pie makes me think of all the yummy peaches we had last summer from the CSA we joined. We had peach pie for about three weeks straight, I think. Now that was good pie! Some of you may not know, but when we got married, we had pie instead of wedding cake at our reception. I hope nobody minded too much.

None of this is to say that I don’t like cake–I do like cake. I love cake! I am not that into icing, but I love cake!

Here’s the pie:

Mint chocolate chip ice cream pie