Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I Really Hate.......

 This past Thursday evening, I flew into Anchorage to attend a technology conference. Yes, it has been awesome with all the programming, robotics, and all those other wonderful geeky topics. 
 Kleenex, Tissue, Paper Towels, Clean
Unfortunately, by last night, my nose started running.  Every time, I got comfortable enough to sleep, my nose clogged up and I had to get up, blow my nose and try again.  All night long, it went that way.  I hardly got any sleep.  I didn't feel too bad but the first thing I went for after breakfast was some sort of cold medicine.

I don't know the area, I don't have a car but I was lucky enough to discover the hotel across the street carried some stuff.  Yes I bought it and popped it all day long.  At the end of the day, I went over, picked up something for dinner and then took a short nap for a couple of hours.

I realize I should stay in bed and sleep all night but I am like a kid on Christmas eve.  I'm afraid, I'll miss something important.  Tomorrow, I'm going to learn about creating apps in Swift, more about google classroom and so many more exciting topics.

I don't want to miss anything.  Which is why I stuck around so late rather than go back to my hotel room to sleep.  I hate being sick under normal circumstances but I hate it even more when I'm on the road.  I can never get enough orange juice, enough sleep, or enough of my routine designed to help me get better faster.

I assume I am not the only one who hates getting sick while traveling.  I know we all have our list of things we do to get better fast so we are not stuck in bed, even when we really should stay there.

I love drinking hot peppermint tea but I don't have access to any.  The fumes keep my nose cleared up.  I alternate with honey flavored black tea which helps make me feel better overall.  I love sleeping by I always seem to have way to much to do.

Please let me know what you do when you get sick on a trip and how you keep from having to miss important conferences.  I know we all have it happen, so share your secrets.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Homemade vanilla

Drying, Vanilla Beans, Mauritius  The other day, I wandered through one of those cooking stores specializing in oil, vinegar, and vanilla.  I've never seen so many types of vanilla.  It appears the type is based on where the bean came from.

I enjoy making things from scratch just because I know exactly what is in it.  I realize that its often much easier to pop over to a store and just buy it.  Sometimes, it is great being able to make things from scratch just to see how its done.

So for making your own vanilla from scratch, it really isn't hard.  It only requires a nice bottle which will take at least 8 oz, 7 vanilla beans, and one cup of 70 proof vodka or rum, bourbon, or rum.

Step 1: Split the vanilla beans long ways or into pieces depending on which fits better in the jar.
Step 2: Add the vodka or other alcohol to the beans in the bottle so the beans are completely covered.
Step 3: Cover
Step 4: Shake a couple times a week
Step 5: Wait about 8 weeks and your vanilla is ready to use.

The type of vanilla bean used will determine the flavor of vanilla you end up with.

 I realize many readers may prefer a vanilla made without alcohol.  Yes, it can be done.  The directions are basically the same except you would use one cup of glycerin. Another way to make alcohol free vanilla extract without glycerin is as follows

1. Slice 8 vanilla beans in half. Place in bottle.
2.  Add 1/4th tsp of salt.
3. Add 1 cup of filtered water.
4. Cover with lid.
5. Place in the refridgerator.
6.  Shake once a day for four weeks.
7.  Shake a couple times a week for another 4 weeks.
8. It should be ready in about 8 to 9 weeks.

Enjoy making your own vanilla.  Let me know what you think.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sorry About Yesterday.

Suitcase, Old, Travel, Traveler, Pack  I thought I'd set an entry to publish yesterday but in my haste to get it all done, I forgot to hit the publish button.

It was one of those days where I had to finish off everything I had on my desk before getting ready to catch the evening plane.  I had to turn in papers for a meeting next week that was canceled due to people being out of town.

I got all my lesson plans on the desk, every answer on the worksheets so the sub can copy the work on the board.  It is too hard to find a sub who can do the math, so I have to provide all the answer.

Two members of the basketball team and their coach kept getting bumped from the 9 person planes.  Most people are used to checking in at the ticket counter, going through security, waiting at the appropriate gate till boarding happens.

Out where I am, you check in via phone with the agent who tells you, they'll all when the pilot contacts them.  So you hang around at home till you hear the pilot over the VHF.  You then call the agent to make sure this is your flight. If it is, you get a lift up to the airport and wait in or on your vehicle (truck, ATV, or snow machine) until the plane lands.

Once the plane lands, they unload the mail and cargo, let people off, set up additional seats, then load up.  They either head to the next village, or they head back to their home base.  It is really cold if the wind is blowing hard.  The plane is a small Navajo Caravan carrying no more than 9 passengers.

Once you get to the hub and transfer to a larger airline with a larger plane and you have to go through security.  If you are precheck, you get to leave your shoes on.  If its winter, you still have to take off all your winter gear, coats, hoodies, etc. It feels like you are doing a strip tease. Once you get through security, you put it all back on because you have to walk out to the plane, climb the portable stairs much like those movies from the 50's and 60's. 

I'm happy to announce that although the basketball players missed their connecting flight, we were able to get them on the last flight out of the Hub into Anchorage so they would have enough time to get to the games by leaving at 5:30 in the morning.

Have a good day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Versitile White Sauce

Salad, Dressing, Healthy, Food, Green  I firmly believe that every cook should be able to make a basic white sauce because you can do a few things to it to create a variety of other sauces.

I know everyone has their own basic recipe.  Mine is as follows:
1/4 cup butter, gently melted till just liquid.
Add 2 tblsp flour into the butter.
Mix and keep mixing over medium heat until it thickens and turns a beautiful golden color.  Add 1 to 2 cups milk slowly while stirring to keep it from  clotting.  Keep stirring till it thickens to the proper consistency.  Finish with a bit of salt and pepper. You are done.  I should tell you these are general measurements because I always eyeball them as I cook.

I've seen recipes which used arrowroot, cornstarch, or potato starch to thicken the sauce.  If you use one of these, you would melt the butter, add most of the milk but you would keep a 1/4 cup of the milk back to mix with the powder.  Add it to the heated milk and stir till thick.

Now what can you do with the sauce?  Tons of things.

1.  As it is thickening, add grated cheese, keep stirring till fully melted and mixed.  I often use a provolone or smoked Gouda to give it a smoky flavor.  This is the sauce, I use on my macaroni and cheese dish.

2.  Sometimes, I saute finally chopped mushrooms in an increased amount of butter, fish the mushrooms out, add the flour and make a thinner sauce by increasing the amount of milk.  When its ready, add the mushrooms back in for a mushroom sauce to add to the pasta.

3.  Add a variety of herbs in the butter as its melting and make as normal.  I like this poured over eggs on toast to add a bit of flavor.  Occasionally I add a sprinkle of Parmesan or Asiago just before its done to create depth.

4. Add garlic to the butter as it melts and use this white sauce in your lasagna instead of tomato sauce.  I've often added chopped dried vegetables to this mixture to add more nutrition to this.  Try this white sauce with Asparagus.  It is good this way.

5. My mother used to make the white sauce, add it to cooked ground beef and mushrooms.  She served it on noodles and called it Goulash.

6.  My father likes to add vegetables and chicken to a white sauce, pour it in a pan, cover it with mashed potatoes and calls it Shepard's Pie.  On the other hand, he puts a crust in a pie pan, adds the meat/veggie mixture, tops it with another crust and calls it a huge pot pie.

7.  Make the mushroom sauce, add it to green beans, top with onion rings for your own version of green bean casserole.

As you can see, having a basic white sauce in your cooking repertoire is perfect because its the starting point to other fantastic dishes.

Let me know what you add to your white sauce and how you use it.  I'd love to hear more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Crazy Weather

Blizzard, Snow, House, Winter, Cold  Yesterday, I woke up to howling winds which pushed all the loose snow across the landscape from the mountains to the sea.  It was nasty.  It plastered snow to the windows and cut visibility to the basketball court.  It was not a day to be out.

At work, we had a late start because the pipe bringing water into the building froze solid so we had no running water.  School was cancelled for the kids but we still had to work.

I got quite a bit done but the wind caused the internet to go down as I was writing my column for this blog.  I finally went home to a frozen pipe at my apartment.  So things got snarky last night.  The wind continued howling but later that night, I got a text saying the water was working once again at work.

This morning, I woke up to more howling wind, more blown snow, and more cold wind chill when the wind whipped across my body.  My neighbor caught me before I got very far.  Work had been cancelled due to plumbing issues.  I promptly turned around, went home, and crawled back into bed for another couple of hours.

I just know wandered over to work to check out the internet.  Its up and running so I'm getting caught up with a few things including all the paperwork I need done before I head off on a business trip.  The plumbing is still down.  The maintenance guys are in the building discussing the problem.  I can report the wind is still howling but there is no snow being blown.  I think it moved all the loose snow already. 

The unfortunate thing about current events is since school was cancelled today, we have to have a make up day on Saturday.  I'm out of town but I'll leave easy work, for that day.  I had to pop over to district office to check on something for my trip.  On the way out, I spotted a snow machine plugged into an outlet.

I suspect the owner did this so they could start their machine when work was over.  I spoke with maintenance about the plumbing problem.  It turned out, one of the pipes had a leak they fixed so hopefully we will have school tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the plumbing issues seem to have extended to my neighborhood. 

We are having all these issues because the amount of snow is much less than it should be.  Snow is an effective insulator.  About two-thirds of the town has above ground pipes so if snow does not cover them properly, the liquid in them can freeze and block things.  The school is above ground and its pipes hug the underside so they are exposed to the cold blustery wind.

One year, the boiler quit two days in a row and the third day a major pipe burst flooding about 5 rooms including mine.  They spend the day cleaning up the mess but it was another few weeks before they cleaned the carpet with a fungicide.  Until they cleaned it properly, the room stunk like mold, making it impossible to use it.

Have a good day.