Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seedy & Garlicky

I realized today that I hadn't baked bread for nearly 2 weeks!!!! I miss fresh bread, and Ross was pining for some as well. 

So after work I got right to it. I didn't feel like cracking out a cookbook though, so I made something up. 

Jenn's Seedy and Garlicky Bread 
First mix together: 
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast 
1 1/2 Tbsp salt 
1 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
3 1/4 cups warm water

Then add 1 cup of seeds - I used golden flax, roasted flax, and sesame because I had them on hand. 


Then add:
 2 1/2 cups whole wheat
2 cups unbleached while wheat 
1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1/2 cup rye flour 

Mix together until it is even and leave to rise for 2 hours. (I took a nap during that time and I'm not sorry about it!) When it is finished rising, flour the counter top and your hands and divide the dough into 4 even parts. Form the dough into loaves by folding it over itself and let it soak up a little extra flour. Slash the formed loaves with a serrated knife, and leave them to rise on a pizza peel lightly sprinkled with cornmeal for another 20 minutes (or in a greased loaf pan if you do not have a pizza stone.) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 F. 

I wrapped the other two loaves in foil to freeze until I am ready to use them. This dough isn't wet enough to store in the refrigerator like this one. 

Boil 1 cup of water and place in an oven safe dish in the oven (like and old pie tin) and  then slide the loaves onto your pizza stone and bake the loaves for 30 minutes, or until that lovely brown color and fresh bread smell fills your home. 

I burned my hands trying to slice these too soon! Let them cool a bit. 

I finally got to slicing and decided we were having fancy sandwiches on fresh bread. 

Looks at all those seeds! The garlic hint within the loaf was amazing as well. 

I made a turkey, roasted red pepper, caramelized onion, cream cheese and jalapeño pepper jelly sandwich with a side of roasted sweet and regular potatoes topped with more caramelized onions. 

Caramelized onions are incredible. 

I really enjoyed biting into a sandwich with soft, still warm fresh bread tonight. I haven't had the energy lately to do a lot around the house since I've been sick, but this really reminded me that it was worth it! 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Fun & Games

Hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing Memorial Day - we would have loved to BBQ with our families, but as they live in either Minnesota or Colorado, it was just the two of us.

Well... we did have a few visitors today! 

We took it easy today - slept in, finished season 6 of The Office, made lunch and dinner, and went on a really cool walk to Big Rock Garden! I had no idea that there was a sculpture garden a mere two miles from our house - and what a neat place it is. I definitely didn't go walking with my camera, however, so we will return soon to share pictures.

Dinner tonight wasn't very appropriate for the holiday, but I sure enjoyed it! 

All organic carrots, broccoli, chicken and brown rice cooked up in a homemade orange sauce.

Although this sure felt holiday appropriate! My grandparents always had ice cream sandwiches during the summer... so I figured this treat was a great way to kick off the summer. 

Dislike: single serving packaging. 

Like: vanilla ice cream surrounded by chocolate that melts in your mouth. =) 

Then, since we watched entirely too much TV today, we opted for an evening of games to continue what we started last night; Golf (R-1/J-0) & Nurtz (R-2/J-1

We started with Sequence - LOVE LOVE LOVE this game. 

Ross usually dominates at this game - but tonight we ended up each winning one for a total tally of R-3/J-2.

Ross and I LOVE board games and card games - which made us miss our family even more since the games are more fun with more than two people! 

Like Killer Bunnies - way better with more than two people, though we still had fun. 

This game is probably the most ridiculous game ever - and it has nearly 1000 cards!!!! And the rules encourage you to barter, blackmail, and scheme... 

The object of the game is to collect the winning carrot. 

The winning carrot is decided at the beginning of the game (though no one knows which one it is) by the way this smaller carrot deck it cut. The carrot on the bottom wins. It is essentially a lottery. 

To get carrots you can buy them, get a "Choose-A-Carrot" card, steal them, or win them. 

To win the game you must have a bunny - but to prevent others from winning there are obstacles like weapons or feedings that could kill others' bunnies. There's a LOT more to it... and I'll tell you if you ever want to play with us. 

There are even some that we created, (I know, suuuuuper nerdy) like this one of Ross' - "Oven Mitts." 

Ha ha ha ha ha ha - Ross had to play the game like this! Until he offered to make a deal with me - a bunny in exchange for taking off the mitts about 20 minutes later. Then - as soon as I had the bunny I used "My Big Fat Bunny Wedding" which stated that the person who the card was played on had to share half their carrots with their spouse. That was 6 carrots for me! 

I ended up winning but it was a fiasco! The winning carrot card was missing and had made it's way into the regular deck, so we could never collect it - however, I have the next one up and went out first. So, technically, R-3/J-3.  

Whenever we teach this game to people for the first time they are pretty sure we are making things up. (For instance, if you have the card with your zodiac sign, and that's the winning sign, and the current sign, then at the end of the game you get to steal everyone's carrots but one. That has happened to me before - it was the last day of Aries, my sign, and it was the winning Zodiac! Our friend John is still bitter about this nearly 2 years later...) 

 I don't blame them. It does sound like we're making it all up... but we're not. At all. 

Have you ever played Killer Bunnies? What is your favorite card/board game? 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sights, Smells and...


Yes, I have an announcement to make: this past Friday my nasal passages opened up! That means that for the first time in a couple weeks I could smell flowers...

Anyone know what these beauties are? I'm not super flower savvy... 

But they are in bloom all over our yard and all over the neighborhood! 

... and I can finally taste my food again!!! I have still been feeling a little cabin fever - and since I was finally feeling up to a little activity, we decided to walk to Bob's Burgers & Brew for dinner to celebrate (my nasal passages opening, yes, it is a BIG deal.) The Barkley location is only about 15 minutes from our house - and I was craving a burger - which doesn't happen very often. 

Ross doesn't really want me to take pictures of him... 

But I am so happy to be out of the house - and I loved the sun beating down on my back! 

Bob's is the local version of your Applebee's or Chili's - appetizers, burgers, wraps, and BEER. One of my students from the time I served in AmeriCorps - her uncle owns this place, which I think is pretty cool. And I just had to get my favorite brew - Mac & Jack's African Amber. This is probably one of things I will miss the most when we leave the PNW. 

Ross ordered the Western BBQ Burger with Jo Jo's. 

And I got the Jalapeño chicken burger - boy was my mouth a burnin'! Jalapeños almost always give me the hiccups - and we had no water! Thankfully I have a husband who loves me and ran after some H2O. It was incredible to really taste all the flavors, the beautifully charbroiled chicken burger, the spicy and sweet sauce and the crispy Jo Jo's.  

If any of you are curious, or if not I'm going to tell you anyway - I went to the ENT to see what was going on with my sinuses. A chronic sinus infection (I knew that) but besides the heavy regimen of antibiotics I'm also using a steroid nasal spray short term to open my nasal passages and help get the infection out. The steroids kinda freak me out... but I'm also pretty desperate to be healthy; if it helps in the recovery I suppose it is alright.

 I am going back for a follow up in 3 weeks to see if there is anything else - and it looks like I have a deviated septum that might have to be surgically straightened. However, I've heard such mixed reviews about it - my Stepdad said it helped a lot, but my sister said she hasn't noticed much of a difference. 

Have you or someone you know what this surgery? Did it help?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Queen of the Sun

Sorry for disappearing for a week! My on-again off-again (mostly-on since March!) sickness appears to be a chronic sinus infection - and last week it took a turn for the worse. Mucinex and decongestants have stopped even temporarily relieving symptoms, the nasal rinse used to work magic but no more, I've been running a fever for a few days, the pressure in my sinus is intense and my poor nose is raw. I went to the doctor and they prescribed a very strong regimen of antibiotics and referred me to an ENT for the second time in my life.

When I was younger I constantly had ear infections, and in high school I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out - this was supposed to help and prevent future infections. Perhaps it did for a year or so, but I have been plagued with frequent sinus infections for most of my life. It was terrible last year when I was working in a public school so I decided I was never going to work in a school or daycare for my own quality of life. However, since Ross is working at the Y he brings things home to me that I would rather he left at work!

But I'm definitely not the only one who is sick. The bees are sick too! 

I went to see this documentary on Colony Collapse Disorder last week at the Pickford with my friend Lauren.

Colony Collapse Disorder is a phenomenon where honeybees simply never return to their hive. The film ventures around the world and visits a variety of beekeepers from "migratory industrial" to biodynamic to roof top beekeeping. The exact cause is unknown but it is attributed to a variety of causes such as the Varroa mite,  but also environmental causes such as pesticides and as well as the stresses of migratory beekeeping. 

***Here's an update from my friend Luke since his dad is a beekeeper - "they've figured out what has been causing colonies to collapse- beekeepers had been using an insecticide just strong enough to kill the mites on the bees, but it weakened the bees... and stayed in the comb so the bees sensed the mild poison and would leave to form a hive somewhere else. Now that they've realized the chemicals stay in the comb, they've been replacing everything with formic acid (naturally produced by bees and ants) and the bees are on the rebound!"

I had never heard of migratory beekeeping before - and this was perhaps the most fascinating part of the film for me. Essentially, in the spring the monocultures of the agribusiness world need bees - a whole lot of them - to pollinate their crops. Thousands and thousand of acres of monocultures are pollinated by bees that are packed up on semi trucks and driven across the entire country for two weeks only. Many colonies don't survive the trip, let alone the waiting time before they are even loaded onto the truck. And after two weeks there they must be transported elsewhere - because the monoculture is so vast that there is nothing else for the bees to survive on. 

And that is just one of the many problems with monocultures - if the bees had a variety of crops to eat then they could stay in one place and that would promote healthy bees. Also, the natural diversity of crops would limit or eliminate the use of pesticides which would create a less stressful and toxic environment which would promote healthy bee colonies. 

Life on earth is all interconnected - and yet I never realized how utterly dependent I am upon pollinators for my very existence. If it weren't for pollinators like honeybees we wouldn't have apples, or almonds, or artichokes, or flowers, or honey. Basically, agriculture wouldn't and couldn't exist. When I am sick I know to see a doctor for help; the bees, however, have no doctor. They do have the wisdom and care and love from beekeepers around the world that are practicing traditional and holistic methods as well as striving to protect them from pesticides and free from stress. 

I would highly recommend that you take a look at when and where this film is playing in your town and check it out. It is extremely humbling to realize that your life and your vitality is completely dependent upon pollinators - and perhaps the next time you stop to smell the roses, you might thank the honey bees for all the work they do. I certainly have begin appreciating them in a new and profound way. 

Have you seen the film? What did you think?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Picnic in the Park

Isn't is BEAUTIFUL!?!?!

Yes. This is my morning commute on my bike - isn't it lovely?

 I LOVE that Bellingham has many "rustic sidewalks" that you can enjoy on your way from home to school, work or play. There is also talk about expanding and improving them. 

Today was a combination of all three - school, work and play

All three happened here at Avellino - wonderful local little coffee house.

 Everything they make is top notch. 

Like the [homemade] caramel americano I enjoyed so much I nearly drank it all before a picture! 

And their quiche which had so many wonderful ingredients I can't remember them all!

Play included catching up with my friend Sarah (the one who taught me how to make Beer Bread!) over iced coffee. We caught up on life and dreams and talked about one of my favorite topics - food! She told me about a book she just finished reading called Eat Right for Your Type - your blood type! Interesting stuff! 

Then she had to be a good student and head to cognitive psychology, so I went to work entering in 400-some test scores from the Environmental class I am a TA for. Then I used some time to finish up a school project I have been working on for the Environmental Education program at Lutherwood before meeting Ross for more play at Cornwall Park for a picnic! 

 Ross proposed to me while we were both on summer staff at Lutherwood in 2009... if you want to know how, just go dig out your childhood board game Mouse Trap. 'Nuff said. 


Sun +

Husband & Wife +

A park +

A picnic blanket from Nicaragua +

a turkey sandwich +

an orange + 


I HATE PEELING ORANGES. Thankfully my mother-in-law gave me an orange peeler! 

One side is for slicing the peel - 

The other flat side is for digging under it and peeling it off! Like magic. 
Now I eat oranges more often - silly, but I will not eat an orange if I have to peel it with my fingers, I just can't stand it. One of my quirks? Perhaps. 

After lunch we chatted, Ross read his book which always sparks fascinating conversation, I practiced Yoga in the grass, and we even napped a little in the sun.  Then it was time for Ross to head to work, so we biked our separate ways.  

I came home and decided it was time to transplant a few seedlings...

And to plant a few other things... I am trying "compact" cucumbers, mini-rainbow carrots, radishes, some lettuce and herbs. I have no idea what I'm doing - but I hope something grows!!! 

Then it was time to make dinner, watch a few episodes of The Office (I'm a latecomer to the show - I just started watching last month from the beginning!), wish Ross good luck in his hockey game... and off to bed! I was exhausted! 

Are you planting a garden of some sort this summer? 

Last year I had a mini herb garden on our balcony that I made the mistake of calling my "pot garden." Lesson learned, it is a container garden. Geez.