Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giving thanks for eating

Thanksgiving was a quiet one in our house. We were just thankful for eating. Voluntarily eating. The only one who's done that in the previous week was Martin. All the rest of us were down with something nasty. Emilie had it worst - five days of high temperatures, only brought down by drugs, then back up at the end of the 6 hours when she had to take the next batch. Even when the fever stopped, she was just sleeping for another day and a half. But, by thanksgiving, all of us were in an ok shape. Still sick, but recovering. And so we were appropriately thankful on thanksgiving. Martin made an excellent non-traditional-thanksgiving meal - stuffed mushrooms (ok, that is traiditional), chickpea and pasta soupy italian thingy, pork tenderloin, and homemade ice cream. Mmmmmm. Hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Folding fitted sheets

I saw the reference to this on another blog I frequent, Chez Larrson: how to fold fitted sheets, by Martha. I was skeptical: is foolproof really foolproof? But it is! So simple now that I know how to do it! Gone are the days when the fitted sheets were just a jumble of fabric bunched together. Everything else might be messy around this house, but not the fitted sheets :).

Thursday, November 13, 2008


From two weeks ago, moose in our driveway. It still amazes me anytime I see them how much they tower above our car. Even the young ones.

(Hairy) woodpecker and other animals

Another visitor by our house: a woodpecker. Based on the red head, and the not-too-short beak, it is a hairy woodpecker.

Emilie knows many animals in her animal book. For the woodpecker, she pecks at the page with her finger. For the crab, the fingers run sideways across the page. The squirrel eats seeds like this (and Emilie knows to put her hands by her mouth like a squirrel that eats). And, the favorite of everyone who's an adult and sees Emilie doing it, a gorilla that thumps its chest. I just really wish Skype had a way to record the video. That way, I could have captured my dad doing a gorilla, as well as my mother. Now we will have to try to get the grandparents from the other side of the family to do a gorilla too...

Emilie also very enthusiastically barks anytime she sees a dog, either real or drawn. A sort of 'woof', very cute. And she meows. And sometimes moos and bah bahs.

Back to real animals: both Emilie and Sonja loved the little mouse (ok, not a mouse, a vole) that we caught two days ago in the house. The mouse should not have gone into the chocolate drawer. It really should have known better than to try to touch chocolate, in this house. After I caught it (in a roll of screen material that was also in the same drawer, that I use to dry mushrooms or cranberries in the summertime), we left it in a bucket and watched it. Emilie came to check it out, then went away, then came back... and away, and back. After the kids had gone to bed, I took it outside, and left it in the snow a hundred yards from our house. Together with a little something to help it adjust to its new surroundings - a few nuts, a cracker, and some shortening (fat). Hopefully it is doing well. Hopefully it won't find the way back to our house.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Great Horned Owls

Yesterday evening, we had two great horned owls by our house. Two of them. Hooting away. Every now and then, they looked at us (the kids crying, the dogs playing), but for the most part, they were unfazed by us and were looking out over the treetops and hooting away.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Salmon chowder

Below is the recipe for the salmon chowder we had tonight. First, here's what we're eating this week, for future reference and ideas of what to cook:
- Veal scallopini with prosciutto and sage, served with risotto, from Italian Regional Cooking by Rosemary Wadey
- Pasticcio (baked casserole of ground lamb with pasta) from the Anchorage blogger scribbit
- Salmon chowder, modified from a recipe in the Fiddlehead cookbook (unfortunately Martin just told me the restaurant, in Juneau, is no longer there)
- Hearty lentil soup from Fiddlehead cookbook
- Beef with juniper berries from Every Night Italian
- Chicken cooked under a brick (or dutch oven in our case), from the Mark Bittman's blog on NYTimes

Salmon chowder
based on the Smoked Halibut Chowder in the Fiddlehead Cookbook.

For the salmon, fry
a handful of bacon, chopped
in a pan over medium-high heat. When the bacon fat is released, add
a filet of salmon (1.5 lbs or so in our case)
skinside down first, then flip it and remove the skin. Cook until just done, or turn off slightly before since it can get cooked up a bit in the chowder. Break into pieces of desired size. In the meanwhile, do the chowder base, then add the salmon to it once it is done.

For the chowder base, fry
a handful of bacon, chopped,
4 Tbs butter
in a pan over medium-high heat. Once the bacon is cooked to desired crispness, add
1 carrot, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 small onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 small ribs celery, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
Stir and cook until the vegetables are soft and aromatic, then add
6 Tbs flour
and cook briefly, not browning. Add
6 c fish stock
2 c milk
2 bay leaves
2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
And cook until vegetables are just about done, 15 minutes. Add salmon with its bacon, cook until both the veggies and the salmon are done.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spare parts for home appliances

Back in July of last year, I did an "unapproved purchase" as we call it (without consulting with Martin), and bought a Black and Decker blender called Crush Master in order to make smoothies. Yesterday, when we wanted to crush some fresh strawberries for ice cream, a small plastic part that was attached to the metal blade disintegrated.

I called the official 1-800 spare-parts number about buying the broken part, since it is one of the parts that is listed as "consumer replaceable" in the manual. Lo-and-behold, I was quoted a price of $27.95 for that part plus shipping. They have to be kidding! That's how much the whole brand-new blender cost, give or take a couple bucks. Considering that all I need is a small piece, that everything else is still fine (the motor works, the glass jar is fine, etc), I find it ridiculous that the replacement part is as expensive as the whole she-bang. Just promotes the whole throw-it-away culture.

So, here is my game plan: write to the company about the costs of spare parts. Look for a second-hand blender of the same model, or just a working second-hand blender. Or, if all else fails, buy a brand-new blender of the same type: for the same price as one spare part (and no warranty), I will have a working blender, a spare part for everything else, and another 1-year warranty.

Addendum: Based on Amazon reviews of the Black and Decker Crush Master, I am far from alone of having that plastic disintegrate. Stay away from this appliance!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


So, we continue to skijor, though I will have to take a break for some time.

Martin going skijoring with Sonja and the dogs this afternoon. Picture taken from our porch, as Martin skis down a steep access trail we built this fall, to get from the small ridge on which our house sits to the trail.

Yesterday, I went skijoring with Emilie in my jacket, the way natives up north carry their kids. This jacket, given to us by Barbara and Christoph, is excelent for that purpose: it has a cord running along the bottom that can be tied tightly (below Emilie's legs), as well as another running across the chest, which can also be tightened (below Emilie's butt). And it is big enough to fit Emilie and still be able to zip it up. Emilie often falls asleep if I wear her like that.

Unfortunately for me, yesterday, as we were skijoring on the road, the dogs pulling pretty well, I hit a piece of gravel on the road. This ski stopped, and I went flying forward, landing on the right shoulder, left knee, and central nose. Well, may be not the nose, but I think I hit it with the pole? Who knows. It is the shoulder which causes me the greatest concern. (The knee is black, the second time this season, but otherwise OK.) I think I heard a soft snap as I landed, and now cannot lift my arm up much. Based on x rays, it is not broken, which is good. Could still be that one (or more) of the four muscles which are used to lift up an arm snapped. Time will tell. In the meanwhile, Martin will be taking the dogs out.

Here is Emilie, sitting on my jacket the way I put her down, after we came back some other time when I carried her in my jacket. Temperature was cool, around 0 F. To make sure she didn't lose her shoes and gloves, I put regular socks over all four limbs. That works pretty well. The camera was a bit fogged up. But it is a good way to carry kids. No sling required. Warmer than a baby carrier (the backpack style), since her feet and arms and body are in my jacket.