Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Doors and My Neighbor.

Door, Goal, Old Door, Wood, Input, GateWhen I first moved into my apartment about 9 years ago, I was given a ring filled with several keys.  One worked on my deadbolt, another worked on the front door lock but several didn't seem to work on anything.

A couple years later, a young man moved in next door.  He is quiet and nice to have as a neighbor.  shortly afterwards, he locked himself out and borrowed a butter knife from me to break into his place.

I think it was the following year, management had us turn in all our extra keys.  At this point, we discovered one of my keys worked on his door.  I am still not sure if my key worked on his and my apartment or if I had his key.  They let me keep it so whenever he locked himself out, he would come get the key from me.

It wasn't too much longer management decided they wanted all the keys except for the ones associated with the deadbolt.  So I turned it in and of course he locked himself out.  He was over for the butter knife again. 

I think this happened about 3 to 4 times a year.  Well he did it again, the other morning.  I left for work.  I walked out of my apartment, across the porch and he was standing there looking kind of unhappy.  It appears he'd locked himself out of the entry instead of his place.   The fourplex is set up so there is a door into each group of two and that is the door he locked this time.

Fortunately, he'd left his window open because he is a smoker and likes to have it open to keep the smoke from accumulating in his apartment.  I laughed when he told me what happened.  He even walked over to his window, leaned in and pointed to his keys on the table, just out of reach no matter how far he leaned in.

At this point, he decided to climb in through the window which is one of those half windows you crank open.  It was fun watching him perform these weird movements as he tried to fit himself in through the opening.

After a few minutes of struggling he eased himself into the building.  It is great he is tall and skinny build more like a green bean than a line backer because if he'd been any larger around, he would not have made it. 

You are probably wondering why he didn't just call the building super?  Well two reasons really.  the super is never awake at that hour and there is no guarantee he has an extra key.  I thanked my neighbor for making the day a beautiful laughter filled event.  He just laughed with me. 

Yes, I do expect this to happen again because it happens on a regular basis.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What Do You Know About Salt?

Salt, Hand, Food, White  What do you know about salt?  I have it in my house.  I have the regular iodized salt, pickling salt, and salt to melt the ice on the walkways.  I recently bought some of those fancy gourmet salts, the ones from around the world.

So let me share some information with you on ten types of salt you might just have around your house.

1.  Table salt which is exactly what it sounds like.  It is on that table shaker.  It is refined from mined underground salt, not sea water.  It often has additives such as iodine and anti-caking agents which do not work well in extremely humid climates such as Hawaii.  Mom always put rice grains in her salt shakers to keep the salt from caking.

2.  Kosher salt could be from either the sea or earth and is quick dissolving. It acquired its name due to its use in preparation of meet according to Jewish preparation rules but not all salt labeled as kosher is actually kosher meaning it does not meet all kosher.

3. Sel Gris meaning "Grey Salt" is prepared through the use of evaporation.  Ponds of salt water are evaporated, leaving the salt at the bottom..  This is also known as "Celtic Sea Salt".  It is good as both a cooking salt and a finishing salt.  A finishing salt is an unrefined natural salt used at the last minute to flavor the food.  you do not cook with it.

4.  Gros Gris is a salt with large crystals.  The crystals are large enough to use in a salt grinder.  It is best used to create a salt crust on meat.

5. Flake Salt - is made from boiled or evaporated brine.  The salt has fewer trace minerals but it is a great finishing salt for salads.

6. Fleur de Sel are crystals that are harvested from the top of the same evaporation ponds where Sel Cris is collected.  The delicate crystals are used for finishing.

7. Hawaiian Sea Salt may be either red or black depending on where it comes from.  The red comes from a mineral in volcanic baked clay while the black gets its color from added charcoal.  The crystals may also be fine or course but this is a great salt to add to meats.

8. Smoked Salt is slow smoked over a fire to help the crystals absorb the flavor.  It is great used with hearty meats or potatoes.

9. Flavored salt can be flavored with just about any flavoring such as truffles, lemon, herbs, etc.

10. Himalayan salt is mined from ancient sea deposits in Pakistan.  It ranges in color from white to pink to red and is often cut into slaps so as to be used like a plate.  The salt has the ability to hold heat at a certain temperature for a period of time so the slabs can be used to serve a variety of foods.

I have several of these salts in my house.  Its great to know more about them.  I hope you enjoyed learning something from them.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Climate Change.

Travel, Morocco, Erfoud, Sand Dune  I just got back from attending a conference in Los Angeles.  Its gotten browner and less vibrant due to a years long drought.  I checked with the shuttle driver who told me that they are in the middle of a drought and its lasted long enough for local governments to have implemented water regulations.

I know people in New Mexico who are trying to raise gardens while living under water restrictions.  This particular drought has lasted something like 10 years.  I know there are other places undergoing the same issues.

Did you know there are fewer Joshua Trees reproducing in Joshua Tree National Forest?  According to a bite on the public radio station, the youngest Joshua trees are 30 to 40 years old. They think it might be due to climate change but climate change does not always result in a drought, it sometimes means that the window of heavy rain or snow changes.

For instance, in certain parts of Alaska, it has been noted that the heaviest part of winter is no longer in mid - January but has progressed later in the year.  I just heard from a friend that they are finally getting their monsoon rains now instead of June.  Since it is so late, it is causing problems with farming.  In addition, the soil has time to dry out much more than normal and when the rains come the run-off has increased significantly.

If you every listen to the old timers, you'll hear them talk about changes.  When I lived on Diomede, a small 2 miles square island in the Bering Sea, the elders talked about how the ice used to freeze solid enough for people to walk all the way to Wales.  Wales is a small community about 20 or 25 miles away on the main part of Alaska.

I would say they might be right because their airport as not been available as long as it used to be.  Their airport forms when the ocean water between Big and Little Diomede freezes to create a nice thick layer of ice.  Last I heard instead of having the airport for 2 or 3 months, it was down to 1 month for plane service.  For the rest of the year, everything is brought in by helicopter or if its too big, it comes in by the twice yearly barge.

Do you realize that if things continue this way, everyone may end up moving north where there is still enough water to do just about anything?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ice Cream Anyone?

Ice Cream Sundae, Whipped Cream, Cherry  I woke up this morning after dreaming of soda fountains, the 50's and Happy Days.  Remember seeing that show with Al's Diner?  I realized there are not that many places that offer the escapism to another time.

I don't know if you've ever visited Main Street at Disney land (either Florida or California).  Did you stop by the eatery on Main Street near the entrance?  It served soda's and ice cream goodies.

The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor is built to take you back to a time in the past where a boy might take his lady love to for a date.  They might share a float or an ice cream sundae.  I've eaten there before and remember pigging out on the divine creations they made.

I have wondered where the term Sundae came from.  Apparently back in 1881, a customer of an ice cream shop asked the owner to pour chocolate syrup over ice cream.  Up to this point, the chocolate syrup was only used in ice cream sodas.  It cost a nickle but was only sold on Sunday's thus its name.

There was another restaurant I visited once in a great while when growing up.  It was Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor and it was decorated to look like a place from the late 1890's. Both men and women dressed from the time period to lend authenticity to the concept.

Their desserts were spectacular and sooo rich but soooo good.  They offered other a regular menu of hamburgers and other things but ice cream was what it built its reputation on.  The store opened in 1963 and by the mid 1970's,  there were over  200 restaurants nationwide.  Unfortunately after being sold to Marriott Corporation, the economy slid downwards and the chain went out of business by 1990.  In the mid 2000's after a legal battle concerning ownership, the stores were once more opened in Southern California only.  The chain is fighting to survive in a time of fast foods.

I'm sorry about Farrell's but I'm glad there is at least one place left that provides the wistful look at the past.  On a different note, did you know cones were invented during the World's Fair of 1904?  A Syrian was making waffles next door to an ice cream booth.  When the ice cream person ran out of bowls, the Syrian rolled his waffles into a cone shape and they were filled with ice cream. 

That day the ice cream cone was born and made its impact on history.  Have a good day.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A New Life

Baby, Child, Newborn, Arms  By now, most of you know I live rather far from what most people term civilization.  I don't mind being an hour by air from the closest hospital, nor do I mind being the same distance from a real store.

Due to only having a clinic in town manned only by health aides, women who are expecting do not remain here until they go into labor.  Most head into the closest hospital about one month before they are due.

This is because many times a lady goes into labor early as calculating the due date is at best a good guess.  I do know of one person who had a baby on the due date but generally mothers don't manage it.

Back to my story.  I ran into this lady on my way back to town.  When we chatted, I found out she was due in late September so I expected her to leave or have left last night.  As I came to work this morning, the runway lights were on and a plane was on approach.  This was just before 7:30.

Usually, a plane this early signals something serious and the person is being medivaced.  I checked with one of the other folks and she said the lady had a nice healthy boy at 3:30 this morning.  The plane was only to transport the mother and child into the hospital to check them out.

Fortunately it does not happen very often but it does.  One time, I was living on a remote island with a population of around 100 people.  One of the young ladies was expecting and had gone to the clinic for a checkup. The visiting doctor said she was fine and he left on the last plane of the season.  She had a month before she was due.

That night she went into labor and by morning had a healthy baby.  The clinic called in the helicopter to take her out.  On that island, the weekly helicopter was the normal form of transit but they had air planes for about 6 weeks in the spring when the ice was frozen solid.  Mother and baby were fine.

A few years ago, one of the ladies went into premature labor during a blizzard.  She was extremely lucky because two army nurses were in town so they could help out at the clinic.  Turns out she had several risk factors which made the birth more dangerous.  She survived and the baby was born.  As soon as the weather cleared up enough, a plane came out to get them.

Fortunately, women giving birth early does not happen that often.  In the meantime, everyone is happy for the new lives that join the world.  Thank you for letting me share this piece of joy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Tundra

We left town about 2 PM and headed down river.  The town I live in right now has only been here since about 1950.  There are elders here who remember moving to this location. This trip took us to a camping place about half way between the previous town and the one before it.

In the distance you can see the current town.  It has about 900 to 1000 people. The river zig-zagged across the tundra winding back and forth.  

Old Town

After going down river, across the bay and back up a second river, we passed by the old village.  All that remains of the original village is the old Catholic church.  The fish and wildlife people built  a brand new building because they are always out there but the old church will remain because people still use it.

The village existed there only for 2 years because the ground made it hard to build and it flooded so anything built was damaged. The last time I was there, I saw the remnants of a steam house.

Old Old Town

  This hill you see is actually the village before they moved to the old town.  They say this place is about 2500 years old.  They used to build sod houses that had a wooden frame with sod covering it for protection

You can still see the openings to where the houses used to be but its no longer safe to go inside.

A family is currently building a cabin among the remains where their last cabin was. One of the chaperones found a curved knife handle.

When someone died, they were buried with all their possessions.  If you came by and saw something you wanted like a tea kettle, you could leave something as simple as water in exchange for the item.  Water is considered precious and a good item for trade so the chaperone sprinkled water around the place as payment for the handle.

Older Place
 From here we followed the river a bit further to a place with two small hills.  This is one of the locations of a really old village that has mostly melted into the tundra.

This was wonderful because it had lots of Sour Dock.  Before the teacher spoke on the area, everyone picked raspberries and sour dock.  It was a really hot, hot, day and everyone enjoyed sitting and listening.

Soon after, we headed back to the camping site so we could fix the sour dock for dinner.

I had a blast and came back with racoon eyes due to having my sunglasses on.  As soon as my microSD card reader arrives, I'll download pictures so I can share some dancing pictures with you.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Digging For Clams

One day, we got the kids up fairly early so we'd be ready to go clamming while the tide was out and just coming in.

As you can see, it was low tide and the guys had to push the boats out, into the water so we could head down to the mud flats. You can't dig for clams when the water is in.

It wasn't too far away and so much fun.  

The clam digging area.

Sprinkled along the mud flats, the kids found star fish, jelly fish, and barnacles scattered around.

It was cool watching the jelly fish float around in extremely shallow water.  They were about 6 inches in diameter.  I couldn't believe both star fish and jelly fish existed this far north.

The thing about the mud, it was really really sucky in terms of if you stayed in a spot too long, you sank in and then struggled to get yourself loose.

Digging for clams.
Everyone had rain boots on.  Some folks used shovels to dig down into the muck.  It was interesting the clams were dark and matched the color of the sand/mud they lived in.

If water went into the hole, the clams started going as far down as they could.

They came out all muddy and had to be rinsed by wading a couple feet out into the river and dipping them in.

It was sometimes hard to tell the difference between a clam and a clod of dirt.

Several of the adults grabbed the fresh clams, opened and ate them raw.  No I didn't try one but I helped clean a bucket filled with them.

It wasn't long before the tide came in enough that we had to leave the area.  We couldn't wait any longer for two reasons.  First the boats were parked out a ways and we had to be able to get to them.  Second, we'd hit a part of the beach where clams were no longer found.

So it was back to camp to make lunch and have a nice afternoon.  We never got the clam chowder made because they forgot to pack the dried milk.  Instead, people took the clams home to enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed this information.  It was fun going clamming and enjoying watching the wildlife found in the water.

Have a good day.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Beauty of the Tundra

The River

  As I told you yesterday, we went out by boat to a site near the older locations of this village.  Out here, the rivers function as the roads for these people.  The only "roads" are just dirt in town.  They do not cross the soft marshy land.

We left about 2 PM after loading several boats with kids and gear, including the kitchen so we could set out.  It took about 2 hours to get there due to various stops along the way.

We drove by several fish camps which are where people go in the summer to get enough fish to dry for the winter.  We went past the old village with the old church, a new fish and game building and a building open to anyone.  Due to flooding, this village only lasted 2 years before moving to its current location.

Camping location
 We camped on a lovely flat area, next to the river.  As soon as we landed, we set up tents.  Please note the lack of trees so the boys built a nice little tarp covered area for the girls off to the right.

Believe it or not, the tundra is actually quite comfortable to sleep on because the plants and ground make it rather spongy and soft.

The first priority was to get the camp set up before it got too dark.  Of course the sun didn't set till 11:30, so we had lots of time.

The Cooks Tent
Of course one of the most important tents to get up is the cooks tent.  As soon as it was up and loaded with coleman stoves, pans, and food.  The cooks began dinner.

The first two days of the event were wonderfully warm and clear.  No rain, but when the wind died down, the gnats struck in full force. 

Most people had their heads and faces covered so they didn't have to deal with them.  They really didn't bother me much.

Bucket of Sour Dock
When we went out to visit the two older town sites, we stopped at the oldest place and started collecting some great greens called Sour Dock. 

Some plants had already turned red but there were enough green ones to enjoy.

These greens are cooked in water and added to the Akutuq or Eskimo ice cream made of crisco, sugar, water, potatoes, and greens or berries.

We found a few small raspberries nestled at the base of other plants.  It was great finding them.  We tried to pick some for later but everyone wanted to eat them.

Camp set up.
The lady you see there, is one of the older ladies who came to cook for the students.  What that means is they did some of the cooking but also supervised and taught the girls native ways.

The women teach the girls and the men teach the boys.  The jobs are divided along lines such as men hunt and women take care of the catch.

The ladies also put their bedding outside every day to air it out and be fresh that night.

Star Fish

One morning we went out to dig for clams.  I learned something when we were out.  The area has small little star fish and large 6 inch across jelly fish. 

I did not know they could be found this far north.  The kids had so much fun holding the star fish and the jelly fish in their hands.

Some of the kids discovered the jelly fish stung them.  Not bad stings, just enough to know they'd been stung.

This was where they were digging clams at low tide.  We weren't there long because the tide came in rapidly.

I'll post a few more pictures tomorrow.  As soon as I get my micro SD card reader, I'll post pictures from the dance festival the other weekend.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fish Salad

Salmon, Food, Pumpkin  Again, this entry will be a bit shorter than normal but I wanted to share this recipe with you since it was sooooooo good.  The kids caught a couple Salmon in a net they'd stretched across one of the rivers out there. 

The salmon was perfectly cooked so it fell apart in your mouth and the flavor just oozed through your taste buds.  The left over was put away for later.

The ladies who came along to cook and supervise the girls as they helped just know the recipes. They learned them from their mothers.  You get my visual interpretation of the recipe.

Fish Salad.
Cook up some elbow macaroni till done.
Flake the left over fish into small pieces.
Dice the onions and pickles.
Mix together with just enough mayonnaise so the whole salad is mixed and held together. 

I'm sorry I have not measurements as the ladies just look at it and judge.  The one who added the mayo, scooped it out and dumped it in until it looked right.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Fishing, Fishing Rod, Fishing Lures I just got back from the camping trip late last night.  We had such a good time.  To get to the camping spot, we had to go down river, across the bay and up another river by boat.  The kids fished, picked berries, and gathered greens so many of the meals were supplemented.

The place looked like a small tent city near the river with a pit off to one side surrounded by a tarp.  Over the three days we visited the place where people lived till around 1948 when the city moved and in 1950 it moved again to its current location.  We also saw the place before that.

The other morning we dug clams at low tide while watching the starfish cling to the mud, the jellyfish floating around, and the barnacles who just sat there.  Another day we picked sour dock, an edible green, used in Agutuq aka Eskimo ice cream.  We managed to find enough red berries but they were hard to find because the birds had already stripped the area of blueberries, blackberries and salmon berries and were now eating the red berries.

I plan to publish a couple days worth of pictures next week.  Another couple of days will be devoted to the dance festival held the weekend of the 11th complete with a video or two. 

I wanted to give you a preview of next week so you knew what was coming up.  I had to come into work today so I haven't gotten the pictures downloaded from the camera yet.  Stay posted for some wonderful beauty.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Going Fishing!

Alaska, Landscape, Mountains, Sky  Many of you know I teach school and the school year has started.  I live and work in a small rural village in the huge state of Alaska (we are bigger than Texas).  One of the first activities, Sea Week, is a cultural activity where the high school students head out to the tundra to camp and learn more about native ways.

So, I'll be gone from Tuesday evening to Friday night.  I'm posting a few small posters to let you know I'm alive but I doubt I'll get around to creating my regular entries before I leave.

Camping means we pile into a bunch of boats with all our gear, extra tents for the cooks, food, guns, etc.  The number of students + teachers determine how many boats will go because each boat carries about 6 passengers including the driver.  Yes we call the people who operate boats out here drivers....LOL.

After a couple or three hours, we get to our location, unload, and set up camp where we spend the next few days supplementing the food we brought.  There are definite male and female jobs such as the men hunt animals while the women look for greens and such.  It is the woman's job to prepare the food but the men eat first.

Although this is the 21st century, these roles are still being taught because it is traditional.  On the other hand, there will be times when the students are taken on a nature walk to identify plants eaten for food or used for medicine.  We are expecting to find some blueberries, blackberries, and possibly low bush cranberries although the cranberries are best after the first frost.

Blackberries, Background, Black, Dark
The blackberries are not like the ones to the left.  Our blackberries look more like a black colored blueberry but tend to be a bit harder.  They are collected and eaten in Agutuq also known as Eskimo Ice Cream. 

I'm planning on taking my camera so I can take pictures of the camping trip to share with all of you who have never had a chance to see rural Alaska.  I think many of you will find it interesting.

Have a nice week.  I'll be back on Monday.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Little Black Dress

Girl, Woman, BeautifulMy mother believed that all women should have a little black dress for all occasions.  My sister agreed with her.  She has always had one in her closet.  Me?  I'm more likely to wear black jeans with a nice blouse and jacket for an occasion requiring more formal wear but the other day I visited Old Navy.

I actually found one that I liked and bought it.  My very first little black dress.  Its one of those T-shirt dresses that fits well and folds up into a tiny space when traveling, yet doesn't wrinkle and looks smart.  I have a picture of myself and it posted in the right corner.  Yes I know, I'm probably later in getting around to this idea but I live in a place where you don't usually wear anything but jeans and boots.

I bought it because I took a trip this summer and decided I needed a dress that would work in a variety of situations.  I finally listened to my mother.  I never realized a little black dress is like a blank canvas waiting to be fulfilled.  I figured out I could do the following to it to create a variety of looks:

1.  Add a belt and wear sandals for a nice casual look.

2.  Tack some lace around the neck and low pumps for a nice afternoon dress.

3.  Pearls with high heels and you are ready for dinner.

4.  A metal chain belt with flats for another casual look.

5.  Leather belt, medium heels, and clunky jewelry for a work outfit.

6.  Bracelets, matching jewelry, and medium heels for another work outfit.

7.  A nice necklace on a chain, work jacket, medium heels and you have another work outfit.

8.  The dress and sandals for a weekend shopping trip.

A little black dress is full of possibilities and can work for any situation from casual to dressy.  I am now a believer.  Everyone should have one in their closet.  I do, now. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Traveling Without Leaving Home

The Eiffel Tower, French, Eiffel, Paris  Have you ever wanted to visit somewhere but didn't have the money?  I have dreams of going to Paris, Tahiti, and so many other places but I don't have the time or the money at this stage of life but it is not stopping me.

There are ways to see the world without leaving your home.  Due to technological advances, it is possible to see the world using something called 360 degree or Virtual Reality aka VR.  For those of you who are unaware of this, it means that someone went out with a special camera or app and recorded the scene around them. 

For instance, I might take my special 360 camera out to the lake.  I choose a spot and then record the scenery that surrounds me as I carefully turn around in a circle.  I now have a 360 video of my favorite spot.  I could keep it or upload it to my video channel.  I know people who do this all the time.

Lets start with the ones that only need your mobile device.  You Tube has a whole channel dedicated to 360 videos.  If you want to see Paris, you do a search for 360 Paris and a few pages of choices appear.

I chose the 360 Guided Tour of the Eiffel Tower.  Its actually a tour with a guide.  Although, it looks like any standard video except you can use your mouse to move around and see everything around where you are standing.   Some of these are set up to use with Google Cardboard which is a set of viewing glasses designed to make the experience even more of a surround experience.

There are tons of 360 videos at You Tube including some from Tahiti, sky diving, and surfing.  Google Cardboard is kind of like going to IMax to view movies in 3 dimensions.  It is designed to use your cell phone. 

If you want more, check out Google Street View which you can use on your computer or via an app on  your mobile device.  Google Street View allows you to choose a place and if someone made a video of it, you can access it.  The app allows you to both view and create 360 videos.

If nothing else, do a web search and enjoy the world out there without leaving home.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The History of Certain Salad Dressings

Food, Dressing, SaladWhat is your favorite salad dressing?  Is it Blue Cheese, Italian, Ranch?  Do you like it on the side or on your salad?  I like sweetened rice wine vinegar on mine with no oil but a friend loves Blue cheese.

Salad dressings have been around for quite a while but some of them have only appeared in the past century or two.  Did you know that salad dressings have been around since the Babylonians when they used a simple oil and vinegar mixture?  The Egyptians used the same dressing but added Asian spices for flavor.

Ready for fun facts about Salad dressings?  Some dressings have been around for a while. It is believed that Mayonnaise was created in the 1750's in France to celebrate the capture of a Spanish city in Minorca. 

Did you know Green Goddess dressing was created for the actor George Arliss in the 1920's when he stayed at the Place Hotel in San Francisco?  The name came from the play he starred in it was made into one of the earliest talkies.  The original recipe contained Anchovy's.

Russian dressing did not get its name from the people.  The name notes that originally Russian caviar was one of its ingredients.

Supposedly, Thousand Island dressing obtained its name due to the number of islands an the St. Lawrence River.

The original Ranch Dressing came from the Hidden Valley Ranch in California.  Visitors loved the buttermilk based dressing so much, the ranch began selling the dried product people could use to make their own.  Now you can buy it bottled on the shelf.

As far as researchers can tell, French dressing is an American creation whose main ingredients include ketchup where as Italian dressing gets its name from the herbs it uses.

Caeser salad dressing is the dressing found on the Caeser salad.  There are a couple of stories of where this originated but the one that seems most likely is the one about a an Italian  who created it in Tiajana Mexico back in the 1920's.

The following list is of the top 10 most requested salad dressings in the restaurant industry.  Is yours on the list?

1. Ranch Dressing
2. Vinaigrette
3. Caesar Dressing
4. Italian Dressing
5. Bleu Cheese Dressing
6. Thousand Island Dressing
7. Balsamic Vinaigrette
8. Honey Mustard Dressing
9. French Dressing
10. Greek Dressing

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What is Salad?

Salad, Fresh, Veggies, Vegetables  Growing up, there were four salads served in my family.  The first is the ubiquitous lettuce and tomato salad with a few other veggies all drenched in bottled salad dressing.  The second was the wonderful macaroni and mayo with a bit of pickle relish thrown in.  This was served with everything.  The third was potato salad occasionally served as German potato salad due to mom throwing bacon in it.  Finally, my grandmother's jello salad.  It was usually celery jello with canned veggies but occasionally she switched it out for orange jello with fruit made in a bundt pan.

It wasn't until I became an adult that I discovered a ton of dishes out there called "Salads".  Did you every wonder what makes it a salad rather than an appetizer or a side dish? I looked up the definition which doesn't always jive with things like Pasta salad or three bean salad.

According to one of the online dictionaries, a salad is defined as a cold dish of mixed vegetables either cooked or raw served with a dressing.  Another dictionary adds a second definition where the salad is composed of small pieces of food (vegetables, pasta, fruit, or cheese) served with a dressing or set in gelatin.  Apparently the word Salad comes from the Latin the form Salata (root word sal or salt) which means salted things because salt was an ingredient in most dressings.

According to various sources, salads have been around since Roman and Greek times.  In fact, dinner salads became popular in Renaissance times while the layered salad aka chefs salad became popular in the 18th century when it was referred to as Salmagundi. Up until the 17th century most salads were only greens with a dressing.

Around the 17th century, the Bound salads or salads with meat came into popularity.  During the Civil War, the cold chicken salad started making its appearance where it originated in Rhode Island.  As time progressed, the salads evolved into Tuna salads, Pasta salads, and Taco Salads.

Some time in the 18th century, vegetable salads like Cole Slaw, Caesar salad, Cobb salad, developed.  About the same time, dessert salads made an appearance with the Fruit Salad during the Civil War, followed by the Waldorf salad (yes its named after the hotel), cookie salads, and Jello salads.

So what is your favorite salad?  Mine is now carrot raisin with walnuts smothered in Miracle Whip.  Check here tomorrow for information on Salad Dressings.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Bakers Math

Bread, Flat Bread, Food, Bread Stamp  When I first read this term, I thought it was going to be about recipes, fractions, and standard math.  Was I off.  As I read it further I learned quite a lot about flour and measurements that I hadn't known before.

This math is based on the idea that the rest of the ingredients are expressed as a percentage of the total flour weight so the flour weight is counted as 100%.  In other words if you have 500 grams of flour, your salt might be 2% or 10 grams of salt.  If your water should be 80% then you would be using 400 grams of water. 

I never thought of baking using this method.  In addition, I read that you should not be using cups but you should have a scale to measure your flour by weight since a cup of flour can be between 115 and 150 grams.  That is fairly large difference.  The weight can also vary according to the type of flour you are using.  Is it soft or hard wheat?

The other reason for wanting to use this formula rather than measuring by cups simply boils down to the fact that all cup measurements are not the same.  Do you use a knife to level it?  Do you shake it level?  Do you use slightly rounded cups of flour?  Since not all cups are created equal, using a formula means you have a better chance of having the end product turn out better.

Baker's math is also known as Baker's Percentage or Baker's Formula.  This website explains it in detail for starting with a set amount of flour or starting with the size of the loaf you want and working backwards.

This is fortunate because I just got a scale I can try this idea with.  The best scale is one you can zero out or tare with the container you are using to measure your flour or water or any other ingredient.  I bought one that includes a bowl so next week I'll see how it goes.

Let me know if you use this method and how it works for you.  I've recently acquired cookbooks that list the ingredients by weight rather than by standard measurement.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The View

This picture was taken from my younger brother's back porch.  Mt Baker in Washington is in the distance.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Pokeman Go

Pokemon, Pokemon Go, Pokeball, Instinct  Pokeman Go, a augmented reality game, turning people from couch potatoes into active, moving, individuals.  Its all the rage.

At the bookstore children wondered around while using the app on their phones while a bunch of teenagers rushed here and there until they succeeded in their hunt.  It was easy to tell due to their cheers of victory.

When I first saw the teens, I didn't know why they were rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off.  I thought it was some sort of game like follow the leader.  But later in the day I heard a short bit on the radio talking about this game.  I had one of those moments when the light bulb went off in my head. 

The last time I heard anything about Pokeman, it was years ago and it was a game on my brother's gameboy or xbox.  I don't remember much about it because I didn't play it but my brother played it as much as he could.  He sat in front of the Nintendo console for hours and hours trying to win.  I preferred to read books.

Now, this game has returned in a form answering the question "What would it be like if the Pokeman characters existed in our world".  It requires a free app be downloaded to the phone.  The app uses the GPS signal and a clock to determine where you are in the game.  The programming is set up to overlay the virtual world with the real world so you see various characters and devise ways of capturing them.

There are 151 characters who currently populate the Pokeman Go world. Did you know that is the same number as in the original Pokeman game? There are dragons, dinosaurs, snakes, birds, and others.  Due to the GPS signal, the app has the ability to determine the correct type of Pokeman character associated with the terrain.   If you are in a park you will find more grass types while if you are at a lake, you'll see more water based characters. You'll see these guys on toilets, on the carpet, in trees, where ever the app places them.

Although the game is free, you have to spend money to buy things to help you catch Pokeman.  In addition, you fight the creature directly rather than using your army of Pokeman as in the original game.  In this version Pokeman characters can evolve into others. 

Since people are always moving around looking for more characters, this can open people up to being robbed or finding dead bodies.  Yes there are reports of robbers who have used the game to rob people, others who have ended up in restricted areas, while someone apparently found a dead body while chasing a character.

I do not have a smart phone so I won't play the game but I know that many people world wide play it.  The best thing about this game is that it takes the game player from sitting in one place to having to get up and move around.  People are now getting exercise is a fun way while they pursue their dreams. 

Do you play this game?  Do your kids?  Let me know what you think of it.  I don't need to play this to get enough exercise but for some people it gets them involved enough with the game, they might easily get 10,000 steps in a day.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Copyrights and Recipes

Cook, Cookbook, Page, Benefit From, Eat  Do you remember back in school when the teachers worked hard to make sure you knew you couldn't use anyone's work with properly acknowledges it or it's plagiarism? 

Wasn't it just a couple weeks ago that the whole issue of plagiarism hit the news when the current Mrs Trump read her speech which contained unacknowledged material from Mrs Obama's speeches?

Well the other evening, I was involved in a discussion on the explosion of cookbooks containing recipes copied verbatum from the internet and I stated I disliked this particular practice since it struck me as a from of copyright violation.  I was told recipes as such cannot be copyrighted because it is basically a list of ingredients.  It is only the comments of the author explaining things like "I prefer dark chocolate because it does not make the cake as sweet" is copyrighted.

I could not believe that so I checked it out and that is exactly right!  Imagine, you have a food blog, you create all of these neat recipes and I can come along and simply cut and paste the actual ingredients along with directions without commentary and put it in my book and publish it.  I don't have to acknowledge where it got it from or even who originated the recipe yet I lead people to believe it is mine!

I know I have recipes from my mother on an index card for recipes she got from friends and other places but every one credited if it came from Better Homes and Garden or her Aunt Margaret.  From what I can tell, she didn't have to put the source on her cards but she did because it was what everyone did.

This explains the explosion of short 30 to 50 page cookbooks filled with recipes containing both metric and standard measurements.  It explains books filled with bread pudding recipes taken from the Food Channel, or books with Korean recipes taken from an assortment of blogs and sites.

The temptation is there since recipes have no protection from being used by others and claimed as their own.  When I print a recipe I've gotten from someone else, I try to acknowledge its origin because I have feel I cannot claim it as mine.  If I start with a recipe that I've modified, I might use the term "Inspired by" but I do not feel comfortable with the idea of taking recipes from others and claiming them as my own.

I'm not sure on the following thought because I'd have to research it to know if my thought process is correct.  If the actual recipe cannot be copyrighted, can it be copyrighted if you made it and then added in comments based on your observations throughout the recipe?  Would that do it?  

I'd love to get feedback from my readers on their opinion on this topic.  Do you feel it is right to claim a recipe created by others as your own? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Things, They Are Changing!

Phone, Telephone, Communication I don't know if you ever saw some of the movies from the 50's where the daughter of the house tied up the phone by talking with a friend for hours.  Are you of an age where you'd see people standing around outside having great conversations while smoking?  Well things are defiantly changing.

Yesterday when I walked from Barnes and Nobel to Walmart, I passed three young men standing in a group outside of the sports shop but they were not smoking.  They were all furiously involved with doing something like texting on their phones.  I don't think it was Pokeman Go because they were not moving around but it might have been one of those multiplayer games created to play on mobile devices.

The people you play against might be in the next town or even in another country.  I find it interesting that you are playing a game with someone and you never see them.  In a sense playing a game this way means you miss a certain amount of body language, excitement, and companionship you have when in the same location. 

I have friends who are always replying to a text even at work.  I wonder about this need for instantaneous gratification by responding. The cell phone is changing the way people converse.  Think about it!  You can access your phone at any time, any place. You only need a signal.  You can carry on a full conversation via texting (yes I've done it but I am a very slow typist) and I get out of it as soon as possible. 

  I discovered  there are about 170 million mobile phone gamers in the United States.  Mobile games penetrate about 56% of those who own cell phones.  On average children spend 7 hours a week playing games on their mobile devices but remember this is an average so some play more and some play less.  Most of these gamers spend $26 per year on mobile games.

Did you know that there are about 4% more women playing games than men and a woman's session lasts 25% longer than a woman's.  In addition, women are tended to play several games while men stayed with one or two games.

Want to be surprised?  It turns out parents are more likely to be gamers than their teen aged children.  We are talking 61% of the parents vs 15% of the children.  That is quite a difference.

I am amazed at these stats because I honestly thought that teenagers were the highest age group of players, not parents.  I wonder why that is?  Those stats do not apply to me.  Yes I'm a woman but I do not spend that much time each day playing games.  In fact, unless it deals directly with work, I do not use a mobile device until I get home for the night.

Are you one of those parents who play games on your mobile devices?  Do you play longer than your children?  Think about it and let me know!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Heat Exhaustion? Have You Had It?

Sun, Clouds, Weather, Cloudy, Symbol I've never heard of heat exhaustion, have you?  Heat stroke, yes but not heat exhaustion.  Have you had it?  I learned about it just recently so I'm sharing it with you

Over this past weekend, I took a trip down to Los Angeles to present at a gathering of costumers. When I arrived, I collected my luggage and sat outside in the hot weather while I waited for my shuttle.  Unfortunately, the shuttle representative was not there nor could I even find the shuttle.

 30 min later, the shuttle finally arrived.  Since it was a shared trip, I went out to Thousand Oaks before coming back in to Woodland Hills.  At the hotel, I had to wait a couple of hours before the room was ready but I went over my presentations for the conference.
 Other than being tired, I felt great.

But that night, it struck!  The diarrhea forced me to awake from a dead sleep in order to run to the bathroom in less than 2 seconds.  I didn't feel bad, just had the runs.  Later that day I spoke to a friend and the heat come up in the discussion.  Temperatures have been up but its the higher than normal humidity that is presenting the problem. 

I told her about the stomach flu I had the night before and off she stated "Oh yeah, you've had heat stroke!  I've had it several times in the past couple of weeks because I work outside a lot" I was surprised because I'd always thought that heat stroke left you feeling really bad, draggy, and melted. 

Our discussion got me wondering so I checked it out on the internet.  I didn't see diarrhea listed for heat stroke but it was there for heat exhaustion.  What is heat exhaustion?  It's not as severe as heat stroke but it can be a problem anyway.  It occurs when you are exposed to high temperatures and is sometimes accompanied by dehydration.

Did you know there are two types of heat exhaustion?  One is water depletion while the other is salt depletion.  Symptoms of water depletion can manifest itself as extreme thirst, weakness, headache, or loss of consciousness.   On the other hand symptoms of salt depletion include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, muscle cramps, or dizziness. 

Bingo!!!!!!!. I had the salt depletion type of heat exhaustion because in addition to the runs, I also had minor muscle cramps.  I always make sure I have enough liquid but I've never thought about getting enough salt.  So from now on, I'm going to carry packets of a salt/sugar mix I can drop into water to prevent this type of thing from every occurring again.

Now I know why airlines provide lots of liquid and salty snacks.  It keeps people from dehydrating while traveling.

I hope this helps others.  Let me know if this strikes a chord! 

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Top 12 Most Extreme Places on Earth

Ethiopia, Flag, National, Symbols  Most of us, when we go on vacation head for places that are mostly comfortable or easily accessible.  One time I went camping with a friend who wanted to stay in Joshua Tree National Forest but I'd just had eye surgery and needed to be somewhere with a bit more humidity so I ended up at a hotel.

So people love scaling mountains, some love sailing the ocean and some search out more extreme places.  So where might you go if you were looking for extreme?  The following places are considered extreme.

1. Dallol, Ethiopia which is considered the hottest place on earth with temperatures at or above 95 degrees year round.  It is in an active volcanic area located quite close to the equator and never gets relief from the heat.

2. Oymyakan Russia - considered the coldest place on earth with winter temperatures that stay at -90 degrees on average although the coldest temperature on record took place in 1933 and reached a -122.  I'll tell you from personal experience that -90 is quite cold and its easy to get frostbite.

3. Tristan Da Cunha - a British Outpost located 1750 miles from South Africa and accessible only by using a 7 day boat ride.

4. Mawsynram, India is reputed to be the wettest place on earth, averaging more than 467 inches per year.  That is more than one inch of rain per day all year round. It is also known for the century old root bridges grown by the locals.

5.  Island of the Dolls Mexico is listed as being the scariest place on earth because the island is filled with old tattered dolls hanging from trees.  The legend goes that a young girl drowned off shore and the caretaker starting collecting dolls to ward off evil spirits.

6. Victoria Falls is the wettest place due to its largest falling curtain of water.  Around 165 million gallons of water fall over the falls every minute during the wet season.

7. Reykjavik, Iceland is classified at the farthest north capital city in the world.  Due to its location it gets only 4 hours and 7 minutes of daylight on the shortest day of the year.  It does have a great aural display.  Note - there are other cities further north that have shorter days but it is the farthest north capital.

8. Atacama Desert in Chile receives very little rain and is noted as the driest place on earth. Its soil is equivalent to Martian soil.  According to historical records, not a single drop of rain fell between October 1903 and January 1918.  Not a single drop of water!

9. The Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong has the record for the highest hotel in the world occupying the top 17 floors of a 118 floor building.  It offers great views of Hong Kong.  Its bar and swimming pool are top floors and also set records for highest in the world.

10. The Hotel President Wilson in Switzerland charges a measly $65,000 per night for the 12 room, 12 bathroom penthouse suite.  Occasionally the cost has gone up to $80,000 per night.  This is considered the most expensive place in the world.

11. The Chateau Brissac castle in France has the reputation of being the most haunted place in the world with its Green Lady ghost.  The owners allow the public to spend the night or take a guided tour.

12. For the bungee jumper, there is the Macau Tower with the highest commercial bungee jump.  It is 764 feet off the ground.  I think you'd have to be into extreme sports to enjoy this one.

All I can say is wow on many of these places.  Some might be fun to visit but I guarantee that I am not going to attempt to bungee jump off the Macau Tower or even visit the desert in Chile.  I hope you enjoyed the list.