Saturday, February 27, 2021

Cheeseburger buns

 The recipe for the aforementioned buns.

I've had this recipe for many years, but I can't remember exactly where it came from.  Obviously a magazine, but which one?  Probably either Taste of Home or Bon Appetit, the only two cooking magazines I ever had subscriptions too.  I'm guessing it's Taste of Home, as 'Cheeseburger Buns' seem a little low-brow for Bon Appetit.  Low-brow, but not low taste.  

You could experiment with the fillings, depending on what you had on hand.  It's kinda like a pastie, although the dough is different.  I prefer this bread-dough covering to the shortcrust covering of a traditional pastie.  It's lighter and sweeter.  Just make sure the filling is fully cooked before it goes inside the buns.

The week's news

I have the weekend off!   Woohoo!  Work has been very busy lately.  Not customer busy, although we had over 100 people on the sledding hill last weekend, but paperwork busy.  Which is a lot of my job.  I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say that working for the government involves a lot of stupid bureaucratic crap.  Not exactly an epiphany, I'm sure.

I don't have any big plans.  The whole pandemic thing, you know.  I will be making a large vat of wild rice soup this evening.  O wasn't feeling well last week so Hubby brought our last frozen bag to him.  Time to make more!  I'll use leftover ham from Wednesday's ham supper.

Last night's supper was biscuits and gravy.  Which meant this morning's breakfast was biscuits and gravy with fried eggs on top, a favorite with all our kids.  And me.

O and E went up to St. Cloud to visit her family last weekend, so we're skipping our weekly visit with them for a bit.  Hubby did drop off a batch of cheeseburger buns (homemade buns with meat, tomato sauce and cheese baked inside) to him on Thursday, so they still got a free supper, sans socializing. 

G had a Knowledge Bowl tournament yesterday.  No other students were at the school, everyone was socially distant and he agreed to wear two masks, so we let him go.  His team got 4th place out of 23.  Way to go G!  He's also been spending a lot of time on the Seterra geography website, trying to break speedrun records.  If you ever need a geography nut for a trivia match, he's your guy.

B is currently downstairs firing off Nerf guns.  Over the years we've amassed a large amount of guns and ammo, so every once in awhile he goes downstairs and fires off numerous rounds.  It's a bit of a stress release.  Sometimes the cats go with him and chase after the bullets as they ricochet off the walls.

Melting snow and ice puddles in the yard.

Temps have been in the 30s and 40s this week, which means a lot of our snow has melted.  The farm fields behind our house are bare, although we still have snow and ice in our yard.  Open black fields warm faster than grass-covered lawns.  The snow-melt has turned our driveway into a mushy soup of gravel and dirt.  But the chickens are happy that we've opened their door and let them outside again.  They just have to step around the glacial lake in the middle of their run.

On Monday Hubby gets his annual physical, and I get my second COVID vaccination.  Several of my coworkers who got theirs this week were hit the next day with fevers, aches and migraines, so I'm anticipating a day of partial sick leave to recover.  Hopefully my immune system learns how to deal with the virus, and remembers the next time I'm exposed.  And hopefully the vaccine is good against the various mutations cropping up around the country.  And hopefully the rest of my family can get their vaccines before the end of summer, so we have some time to travel before the start of the school year.

Seedling setups

My seed-starting setup has changed over the years.  I've always used fluorescent lights for starting seeds, with mixed spectrums to suit my different plants.  Fluorescent lamps have different Kelvin ratings, with the lower spectrum good for vegetative growth (leaves) and the higher spectrum good for flowering and fruiting.

What I've attached the fixture to, however, has changed.  My first layout was in the unfinished basement of our farmhouse in Ortonville.  Hubby suspended the fluorescent fixtures from the ceiling joists, and placed a table underneath the lights for the seed flats.  The fixtures were hung on long chains, and could be raised or lowered depending on how high I wanted them to be.  

Tomato seedlings on the floor, under lights.  2011.

My next design, also in the Ortonville farmhouse, was two card tables in the dining room.  I hung the lamps under the tables, and had the flats on the floor.  The flats would be on top of boxes to bring them closer to the lights, and as the seeds grew I removed the boxes to lower the flats.

When big enough, seedlings went onto the sun porch.

When we moved into the house on State Street in New Ulm, I took a break from starting seeds.  I relied on mail-order seedlings and my local nursery.  Which is just fine, but you have a smaller selection to choose from.  Several seed companies, including Seeds Savers and Burpee, offer mail seedlings for certain species including tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, brassicas, kale and herbs.  Mail order seedlings are also a lot more expensive.

I have a few aloe plants.

My current configuration is set up in our sun room.  I bought wire shelving from Menards, and used metal chain and hooks to hang the shop lights from the bottoms of the shelves.  The shelves are different heights, so I can adjust the distance from seed to light by using different shelves as well as adjusting the chain lengths.

My first scallion seeds didn't grow, so I've replanted more.

At some point I'll probably bite the bullet and invest in expensive LED fixtures, but for now my cheap shop fluorescents work just fine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Loose ends

Like I've said before, I'm a bit of a hoarder.  Not 'stacks of newspapers and piles of garbage' hoarder, but more of a 'don't throw away a perfectly good skein of yarn when you may want to crochet an afghan someday' hoarder.  Over the years I've collected a few dozen perfectly good skeins of yarn, just waiting to be used.  I got most of them from garage sales during the 80's and 90's.  

Mom's old business card

My mother was an antique dealer, and when I was younger she would take my sisters and I with her on her garage sale expeditions.  We would always go to the same area - south Minneapolis, where she knew the streets by heart.  The night before our outing she would go through the garage sale ads in the paper, making a list of addresses that we would go to, in order from first to last.  South Minneapolis, at least the older part of the residential area, has streets named in alphabetical order.  Aldrich, Bryant, Colfax, Dupont, etc.  I think that was part of the reason Mom chose that area.

A candid of Mom in her antique-filled kitchen, 2006

We'd leave early morning to get to the best spots first, sometimes before they opened up.  Mom was not afraid to knock on a door and ask to get in early.  She loved the hunt, the excitement of finding something rare and interesting.  She wasn't in it for the money -- if she found something valuable that was significantly under-priced, she'd give the seller more money than they were asking.

While my mother looked for antiques, I would look for other things.  Mainly books, albums, weird odds-and-ends, and craft supplies.  In 9th grade I had taken an elective class called 'Creative Textiles' and learned knitting, crocheting, sewing and quilting.  I can honestly say it was one of the most useful classes I ever took in high school.  

My collection of crochet hooks

About twenty years ago I started crocheting an afghan using my hoarded yarn.  I've worked on it on and off, a little at a time.  Every few years I'll get a bug in my ear and bring it out, do a few squares, then tire of it and put it away.  I chose a simple granny square style, easy to make and pretty to look at.  I decided that I would make a 'crazy afghan' (similar to a crazy quilt), with multiple colors in multiple patterns. 

Sounds great, doesn't it?  However, I didn't figure that every time I used a color, it meant two ends of string to tie off and weave back into the stitches.  Weaving in these ends takes a lot of time.  So far I've got 72 squares made, each with three to four colors, which means about 400 loose strands of yarn to be woven.  Some of them I had already done, there were still about 200 to do.

A few loose ends dangling

Two days ago I brought out the afghan.  I took a look at all of the strands hanging down, and decided to do something about it.  So I grabbed a small crochet hook and began weaving.

This afternoon I finished tying up all the loose ends.  Now I can begin making squares again, nibbling away at my hoarded yarn supplies.  When it's finished, it will become a gift for one of my sons.  Which means that I'll need to make two more.  Let's hope I live that long!

Loose ends all tied up

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Dueling fish fries

 You can tell it's Lent in our very Catholic town.

We chose the NU Girls Fast Pitch.  Four pieces of fried fish with potato salad, coleslaw and cookie.  Yum.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Cake and custard

Hubby played Egg Fairy again on Tuesday, delivering 6 dozen eggs to friends around town.  Then I took another dozen and made an angel food cake.

It came out pretty well.  Not picture perfect, but very tasty none-the-less.  I didn't use cake flour, so it's a bit more dense than normal.

I enjoy sliced bananas and a bit of chocolate sauce on top of my cake.  The boys like lots of chocolate and fsssht, which is what we call Reddi-wip.  Hubby eats his very thin sliver of cake plain, without adornment.  Stupid borderline diabetes.

Since angel food cake uses only egg whites, we had a bunch of egg yolks left over.  Hubby decided to make a custard with them to try on his morning oatmeal.  We make custard fairly regularly, whenever we make banana cream pie or sticky toffee pudding.  It's pretty easy.  For the non-adventurous cooks out there, Bird's makes a good custard powder substitute.  Just add milk. 

Maybe I'll have my next piece of angel food cake with custard on top, uniting the egg whites and egg yolks once again.  Or maybe that would be like mixing matter and anti-matter together.  I'll let you know if I rip a hole in the fabric of time and space.