More cooking

October 18, 2009 at 10:36 am | Posted in family, food | 4 Comments

It’s stew season! Last week we altered a BC (Betty Crocker, from the plaid cookbook) recipe. It called for butternut squash, but one squash gave us more than double the amount of squash called for! One of the reasons we like this particular recipe is that it has red wine.

I don’t have the recipe in front of me, but here’s a brief sketch. Brown a pound of stew meat in oil and drain it. Then simmer it in a cup or two of red wine, a couple of minced cloves of garlic, a cup or two of broth, and some spices (thyme, oregano, salt, pepper) for about 20 minutes. Then add 4 to 6 cups of stew veggies cut into 3/4 inch cubes (we added onions, garlic, butternut squash, and celery) and simmer for 1/2 hour or until the veggies are cooked. Then take 1/3 cup of plain unsweetened yogurt and 3 Tbsp flour mixed together with some of the broth and mix it in. Stir it in and let it simmer some more to thicken it, and it’s done.

The red wine and yogurt are really the only things that make this recipe different from your basic stew. We’ll often do this sort of thing in a crock pot and let it cook slowly the entire day. When it’s done in a crock pot, we put the meat on the very bottom so it cooks relatively quickly. The meat should be relatively low in fat, or trimmed of fat, since you won’t have a chance to drain the fat as in the above stove-top method. Then the onions and garlic go right on top of that so their (relatively strong) flavors get the most chance to cook into the stew. Then everything else. Do this in the morning (you can cut the veggies the night before), turn on the crock pot for eight or so hours on low, and you come back from work to an awesome meal.

Last night Jenny & I made an apple pie. Straight out of BC, but I substituted unsalted butter for shortening. I almost ruined the pie crust, though. I added way too much water. I used all the tricks that Morgan from the co-op gave me, but I added too much water. It was way too sticky, and it was sticking to the wax paper like crazy even though I sprinkled the wax paper liberally with flour before rolling. When I finally got it into the pie plate, it was all holey. So I just gathered it all up, formed it into a ball again, added a few more Tbsp of flour, and it was fine. *whew!* I got lucky.

I also made my second attempt at a lattice top. The last one I made was too tightly woven; you couldn’t even see the apple filling underneath! I wove this one more loosely, and you can see the apples inside. It was bubbling over at the very end (smokey!), and when I took it out of the oven I decided to tip the pie and drain some of the liquid. I was thinking this would make the pie not quite so wet, so the slices would hold their shape better. I hope it doesn’t turn out too dry. Even if it does, we’ll just have to serve it with ice cream FTW!

My next food post will probably be about sauerkraut and sauerbraten. Kurt gave me a fantastic sauerbraten recipe back in college, but my Dad’s side of the family has been making suaerbraten since before I was born. So I’ll probably have to do both recipes and compare them to make a final judgement as to which will be “my” recipe.

*Post edited to incorporate Jenny’s corrections to stew recipe*

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Time to crawl out from under this rock

June 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Posted in family, life, martial arts, math, motorcycles | Leave a comment

Hi all,

Just some quick update stuff. I wanted to mark my return to the blogosphere with something deep and/or profound, but nothing’s coming to me. So it’s just non-deep and non-profound me here.

Dad and Sandy are coming to visit in 9 days. Excellent. It’s also giving me/us an excuse to get some delayed house projects off the back burner. Good stuff.

I haven’t been motorcycling much since Jenny hurt her back a while ago. The few solo rides I’ve taken have been good, but I’ll be glad to have my riding partner back in the saddle. Best not to rush the healing of these back injuries, you know.

I’m doing the REU again, and the team I’m directing is making progress. They also seem to be enjoying the work, which I’m glad about. I also finally got some comments and suggestions from my editor about the paper I submitted last year. Essentially, it’s recommended for publication after serious revision, but the editor’s notes are detailed and thorough. I’m digging in.

I haven’t gone back to TKD this summer, and my attendance last year was sporadic due to work. I need to get going with the physical activity, though. The gut does grow without it.

There it is. Nothing deep or profound. I told you.

Life update

October 21, 2008 at 8:58 am | Posted in conference, family, holidays, life, math | 1 Comment

Well, the semester is in full swing as you, dear reader, may have guessed by the infrequency of my entries alone.  But life doesn’t stop, that’s for sure.

Last weekend I took 10 students to the Fall 2008 MAA Seaway section meeting, a local math conference. The talks were very cool, and many students told me they had a great time. I was also the chair of the student program committee. Last meeting in the spring, there were only 2 submissions for the student talk session, so this time we decided to supplement student talks with other things, like math jeopardy and an ice cream social. We also had two faculty give an workshop for undergraduates on how to craft a math talk. Lots of good stuff for our students. Then we got 12 submissions for student talks! We had to get help to cover all of the rooms we needed to fit all of these activities! In the end, though, I think it was a success. And we have some ideas to make the arrangement of activities better next time.

Some family have been going through some pretty rough times, and there is nothing I can do about it. That’s weighing on me and making it hard to concentrate on anything. Life sucks sometimes.

This weekend we’re going to do some preparation for winter. We’re going to store the motorcycles, and put the trailer out of the garage and beside it, covered with a tarp. Then we’ll have the motorcycles winterized in one bay, and the car in the other. I should replace that broken window in the garage door, too.

Thanksgiving at our house is on, and we’re going to have folks over again. Hopefully we can avoid the plumbing disaster this time around.

Over Columbus day weekend Jenny and I visited some friends and relatives. The relatives were Martin, Uta, and Tanta Martha who were visiting from Germany. Tanta Martha knew me when I was a nipperkin. She nicknamed me “schlingel,” which loosely translates as “rascal,” a nickname that stuck to me with my Oma (Martha’s sister) all my life. This will probably be her last visit to the states, so I just had to make the trip. I made two different holiday liqueurs, whose recipes I learned from Oma, and brought them to share during this visit; they were a hit. I really improved the coffee liqueur this time. We also had a great visit with our dear friends Edz and Sacha. One of these years we’ll get them up here to chill with us in the north country.

Academic advising has begun. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s time to start thinking about next semester already. On the other hand, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to be teaching in the 2009-2010 academic year, so it shouldn’t be so hard to believe.

Time moves so fast. I should make some time to think long term about life and what I want out of it. I did that over 10 years ago when I was working as a waiter in a restaurant, and I set myself on this course, got back into school, and now I’m a mathematician and professor. But it’s about time for a long term view again. I’m not going to be switching careers or anything, but I need a better balance between work, home, family, etc. Jenny and I talked about that a bit on the car ride back from the visit with the german relatives. Putting it off to the “break” between the semesters doesn’t work. There is no better time than now.

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