Saturday, December 27, 2014

Where did I leave off

Well sorry to leave you hanging but there was a major disaster that included lemon juice and my personal, handwritten, cookbook of over 75 recipes. There was much crying and a decision to create a better way of storing my personal notes and recipes. Granted many of the recipes in  it were just a list of ingredients, temperatures to cook at, and time to cook. If anyone was to read it they had better know what order to mix cookie dough together, or that crepe batter needs at least 3 hours standing time before using. If they did not know these things then they were screwed as I cackled away in my kitchen.

Sadly I will have to try and salvage what I can and start again. But dear readers I plan on storing back ups online in my cloud, which means it will be easier for me to share the recipes with you!

Happy Holidays, and Season's Blessings!


Friday, December 12, 2014

French Lemon Cookies from Russia

Odd title yes, but these cookies are exactly that. I received this recipe from a friend in Russia, and spent the better part of an hour translating it and discussing spoons and their uses.

I suggest doubling the recipe because you can't stop at just one!

Makes 32 cookies


1/3 cup butter, melted
3 tbsp powered sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch salt
zest of a lemon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp starch, corn or potato
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup powered sugar for tossing hot cookies in

While mixer is running add the butter, sugar, juice, salt, baking soda, and starch together.

Once well mixed begin to slowly add the flour till you have to knead the dough together. The dough will be greasy, but don't add extra flour!

Roll into logs that about 1-1.25" think. Wrap tightly with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Top one is already wrapped

For the next hour go shake the limoncello, do the dishes and change the laundry.

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with ungreased parchment paper.

Using a sharp knife cut the logs into coins that are about 5/16" thick and place on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 mins. Prep a baggy with the remaining powdered sugar.

Once cookies are removed from the oven pop them into the baggie with sugar and shake it up so that they are covered.


Limoncello update!

Day 2 and it has a noticeably yellow color

Thursday, December 11, 2014

5 Gifts of Lemons

As finals came to a close and the heavens opened up over California I baked, cooked, and canned my way through the better part of 10 pounds of lemons, and have another 10 pounds to contend with, but that is for another day. If you have spent time in California you know that we are the gardens of America with our produce crops and orchards, and nearly every block can boast an overflowing lemon tree. Well on my cycling trips through my town I came across a house with orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees. I bookmarked the location in my mind and decided to come back when the owners were home to see if I could pick some. Well luck was with me Tuesday! I started my ride with the thought to swing by the house and see if I could get some fruit to keep me busy through the storm. Turns out the owners where preparing the garden for the storm at the same time and Theresa and her lovely, but gruff, husband allowed me to fill my bag full of lovely mandarin oranges, ruby grapefruit, and the loveliest meyer lemon tree I have ever set eyes on, with a bumper crop to boot.

With my prize in my over filled basket, and a short trip home before I tackled my 15 mile cycling trip, I dashed in and weighed the bag. OVER 20 POUNDS! I was floored and my cycling trip was less about me listening to my book  and more about me thinking of all the lemon recipes I love. So over the next 5 days I'm sharing the top 5 of my favorite recipes that are perfect for the holidays:

If you are reading this right now grab some vodka, 2 lemons, and a hand peeler. In 2 weeks you can have Limoncello, but it can be ready in 7 days to give as gifts!

Ingredients & Tools:
To start:
2 lemons
1 L vodka, 80 proof min, 100 preferred

In a week:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Funnel that can fit in the bottles
Large bowl

Using a peeler, peel the zest of the lemons and avoid getting any of the pith (the white stuff). A little pith is okay, but too much and you'll get sour results.

Take a swig of the vodka to create room in the bottle, and put the zest in. Screw the top on tight (I use Smirnoff and it has a screw on top).

Put it into a sunny area and every day shake the bottle for 7 days. I like the top of my refrigerator because I know I'll see it and remember to shake it.

Now begin your search for the perfect gifting bottles! I prefer the ones with the EZ caps that are attached.

Ignore the experiment to the left. The bottles on the
right contain my current batch of limoncello on day 1.

7 days later...
Now what you have is lemon extract and to make it palatable you're going to take the sugar and water and make simple syrup. Just heat the water and stir in the sugar till it dissolves.

Strain the lemon extract and discard the zest (don't eat it, it's awful). In a large bowl combine the syrup and extract to taste. Ladle into the bottles with the help of the funnel, and if you have some nice zesting skills feel free to grab a lemon and add a few strands of zest to the bottle.

Now let it sit for 7 days to develop, and at this point you can give it away with a little instruction of what date to open, and that it should be chilled when served.

Personally I drink it straight, but you can also make some great cocktails with it!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thank You and Happy Birthday

A thank you to our veterans, and Happy Birthday to our Marines.

Special thanks to my boyfriend Daniel, who is currently deployed, my good friend Luke, who though is retired from the Marines is quick to remind everyone that once a Marine, always a Marine, the members of the VFW Post 8911 for a great spring when I bartended for them, and members of VFW Post 7263 who taught me so much as I grew up volunteering there for over 5 years as a youth.

I love and miss you all. 

Thank you

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weight on the Mind

This past week I went to my doctor for my annual check up and get my medical forms for running for the next year filled out. Interesting fact, when you're sponsored by companies in sports oftentimes you're required to have your doctor fill out a medical waiver for you, just like when you were in school. This year started like all the other years, I was measured, weighed, but then when the nurse entered my information into their computer system a large screen popped up and declared in large red letters that I'm obese.

 Venus Of Urbino by Titian 1538

Now this is not news to me. The only time I have been in the weight range for my height (5'1", 114-130 lbs) I was barely eating, riding my bike for an hour to and from school, had PE, dance, and sword fighting 3 times a week, each for 1.5 hours (so roughly 13.5 hours a week). During the summer I'd be down to about 7 hours of exercise a week with sword fighting and bike riding, and I'd always go back up to 150. That was my body's comfy place as a teenager, and even then my doctor was always lecturing me about my weight. 

I've been hearing the weight loss lecture for 22 years now, and I'm sick of it. I was 5 years old when my mother was lectured about my weight (she just went through weight loss surgery to help with her diabetes), in high school I took cooking into my own hands as soon as I got a job and went vegetarian, but I have always been at least 20 lbs over weight unless I'm starving myself. I'm used to always getting The Lecture when I visit the doctor.

Venus with Organist and Cupid by Titian 1555

This time my doctor gave my papers a look over and then skeptically asked me how do I think I can run a half marathon at my weight. She then was a bit surprised, but receptive, when I pointed out earlier this month I ran a half marathon, and I'm already back to working on my feet and riding my bike everywhere. She and I discussed my low blood pressure (too low is an issue, just like too high), my weight, my diet, my knees, my anemia, and she smiled as she signed my papers and told me to keep up the good work. Though not eating crap and exercising I've avoided common family issues like diabetes, poor circulation, high cholesterol, and fertility issues, as well as kept my anemia in check. I'm not on medications, I might need to be in 10 years to raise my blood pressure, but at this time it just increases my risk for a heart attack. Sometimes the cure is honestly worse then the disease.

Yes, I'm over weight, but still my doctor smiled and said I'm perfectly healthy. Even with the recent movement to accept people that aren't perfectly thin I find it surprising to find such a nice and open minded doctor. The positive attitude I received from her really does make a difference in my day and my running. Instead of feeling guilty I was reminded that I'm doing well and to not stop just because of people's opinions. Sure judge me for eating bread, and the jiggle in my arms, but I can still lift a 50 lbs bag of flour into my cart with one hand, am currently sore from weighted squats and push ups, and can put my male friends into headlocks. I'm strong, and still described as one of the most feminine looking women many of my friends know (big boobs do help). While you worry about every calorie, I'm sitting over here thinking of switching from butter to duck fat in my French Onion soup.

Being thin is not my goal. Being healthy is, and it seems I'm there.

Great message, annoying song and video

Monday, August 25, 2014

Conservation as a Lifestyle - Part 2: Letting go and focus on what matters

I lead a Conservation Lifestyle. My life is not about having the newest clothes, being popular, keeping up with the celebrities or going out and partying. What I care most about is my friends and family, my cat, my boyfriend, and being a productive person. The things that will matter to me when I die.

If you focus on one thing long enough you'll most likely eventually achieve it. I have an attention span that is worse then my kitten's (she spends most of her time sleeping or focused on it), and I therefore have focused my life in general by trying to improve it in all aspects of need, and being a good person in general. Clothing, transportation, food , shelter, and water.

Before I jump into the needs I need to say one of the things about trying to be a better person is that there will always be room for improvement. I do not claim to be a good person, but let others decide that for themselves (and then promptly don't care what they think). I try to always buy local from small businesses, then from stores in my area, and if that fails I turn towards online. I know my neighbors and drop off baked goods for them since one full batch of anything is too much for me while my boyfriend is deployed, and they help me when I need something like wood cut for a trellis. I support our troops and have worked and volunteered at VFW Posts since I was a preteen, I support our police and loved working with them in the past and hope to do more with them in the future, I run half marathons for charity (I have to raise so much to be allowed to run), and I am always here for my friends (be it help moving or a smack upside the head when they need reminding to not be stupid). I am however prone to bitchy to the stupid, the egotistical, and the douches. Yes there are times that I laugh and smile after pissing someone off that I feel had it coming to them. I'm not a saint, but I believe in Karma and hope to keep things in balance.

First need I'll started with is clothes. A few years ago a friend of mine cleaned out her closet because the fashions have changed, and she gave them to me. I donated what was a bit too trendy for my and kept that which could easily be paired with jeans or a t-shirt and let the rest go. Easy place to start, but then over the last year I've taken it further. With the growing problem of finding clothes that fit me properly I have turned to making my own. I buy American designer patterns, printed here in the states, buy the majority of my fabric for my clothes from American mills and printers, and get it mostly all right here in the Bay Area. I have to put time and effort into it, but the clothes I wear around my house and to work are the same 5-10 items every day, till the wear out. My work clothes consist of a pair of slacks, black shoes, and a white shirt that I wear only at work. They come off as soon as I'm home and this preserves them amazingly well. The dresses, skirts, and shirts I make are only worn on special days when I'm running errands or going out. My single pair of jeans and my favorite flats with a t-shirt are what I wear to class. I only buy things when I need them. My closet is not bursting, sure it feels like I can always use more socks, but unless something is on sale or clearance I'll pass. I'll have forgotten about some amazing full price item in 2 weeks usually, and if I haven't I'll wait another 2 to go get it. Sometimes it is now out of stock, sometimes it is suddenly on sale, but it keeps me from buying things on a whim.

Second is transportation. I live in a small town, but even when I lived in a city most of my grocery shopping was done with a roommate, or I walked to get what I needed. When I moved to Sacramento I spent 3 months saving $600 worth of overtime to get my bike so I could cut down my gas consumption. Using gas is pricey, wasteful, and lazy. Through hard work over the last 6 months I've cut my gas consumption by 75%. I go through only a tank a month in my little Honda Civic that gets 320 miles per tank, and that is mainly spent on going to see friends in other cities. I bike to the bank, my grocery store, fabric store, work, school, and the post office. I have a detachable basket that limits the amount of stuff I can buy while at the grocery store causes me to really think about what I need (head of cabbage or 6 pack of beer was an issue once). This simple task of biking helps my health and has allowed me to explore the trails, parks, and neighborhoods. There is really no downside to this unless it rains, but rain is never a downside.

Third is food. This is a huge one for be because I really do love to eat and I have cats who need to eat healthy food as much as I do. For them I know I will spend about $60 on food per month between their Taste of the Wild food (canned and dry), Lycine supplements and treats. For myself the fact that I work at a restaurant helps my grocery bill hugely. I get one meal free at work if I work for over 6 hours, which I do 3 days a week. On those days I might only have a Don Lee vegan patty for breakfast, and skip dinner altogether as my work has huge servings. On my days off I usually gave a vegan patty or toast for breakfast, a BLT or soup for lunch, and dinner might be homemade pizza or pasta, depending on how well I've planned. Planning is such a large part of how I cook. I have to prep pizza dough the day before so it can slowly rise in the fridge, I make my own pasta and have to have enough on hand. But mainly I need to have the basics around my house to create the meals. I'll go into more detail later, but a well stocked kitchen can be your best friend.

Fourth is shelter. My home means a lot to me. I make most of my own decorations and am lucky to have artistic friends. I only buy household items on sale and in bulk, I ask for the nicer things I lust after but don't need for the holidays (my high tea set was one), and I keep it clean. The fact that I live alone means I know all the messes in the house are mine, and when I had roommates I knew that a mess was the the #1 thing that could annoy someone faster then loud music. I've almost always rented from friends and family, and in exchange for lower rent I take on extra chores, fixing the house up, or spend months house sitting. The most I have ever paid in rent was $750 for a tiny studio in downtown Capitola, but I've had places for as little as $200 a month if I didn't mind having to drive someone around one day a week, or that I had a dog to look after.

Lastly is water. With the drought this is one that is very important to me. I have let the yard go brown, I cut 8.5" off my hair, and now only shower every other day for 5-7 mins. When I step into the shower I have a timer set to go off at 5 min and by that time I'm either ready to get out or just need to finish rinsing. On the days I don't shower I have a facial cleaning brush that I use to keep my face clear. For the garden I only water while I'm back there in the early morning or evening. I pull weeds, harvest plants, and turn soil while moving the sprinkler around so that it waters a few plants at a time. When I planted my fall crops I planted some squashes in the front yard and slowly some of the grass is coming back, but mainly I rejoice in the fact that I don't have to cram them into the backyard with the other plants.

Conservation is a lifestyle. We have limited resources on this planet and without proper care we'll be making worse problems for our grandchildren then we made for ourselves.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Conservation as a Life Style - Part 1: How it started and led us here.

This is not news, but California is in a bad drought. Bad enough that people will be seeing the affects in years to come as our food prices rise and our landscape is altered. This is one of the many signs that is telling us we need to review our lifestyles, make changes, and strive for something better.

Water is the blood of life and we humans are 55-60% water. The fact that California, the maker of most of our country's produce, is in this crisis is something that affects our entire country and everyone needs to take stock of their own lifestyle. 

We Americans are living a lifestyle that was started by the fact that we won World War 2. Now I'm not saying that it winning it was a bad thing, the problem stems from our attitude after we won the war. We suddenly became the world's super hero, we were untouchable, we are #1, we deserve the American Dream for saving everyone and we'll show the world what that dream is!

Deserve. Now that is an interesting attitude. When the boys came home from the war they went back to work, but suddenly the government took the stance that we were the new world police and our people deserved the American Dream. They encouraged people to buy homes, cars, and to go to school. Still nothing wrong, except that people starting feeling that they needed to keep up with the Jones. Suddenly you were uncool if you were middle class and without a TV, car, owned your home, and could support a housewife and 2 kids. With this American Dream that we were fed, people overnight became inadequate (hello huge rise in depression). In the 60's Americans continued to play world police in Vietnam, and trying to lead the world on what the best life style was with outlandish seasonal clothing, food, newer faster cars, and suddenly with the color TV we all needed to start upgrading our gadgets as well. In the 70's we had Nixon Shock which caused inflation to triple. For those of you that have not taken an economics class I'll explain. We all know Newton's Third Law of Physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, well this can be used in economics as well. When inflation suddenly rises or falls it will eventually correct itself, but it is slow to do so. The recession that was from the 70's and lasted to the early 80's was the reaction of the inflation, and it was not helped by a generation of people that had been told from the crib that they deserved the American Dream that their parents bought. We kept buying, upgrading, borrowing, funding wars, and promising the people of the examples of the lifestyles they should strive for. By this time we have our parents generation growing up, and now students loans became normal. They were told that they needed the education to get the American Dream, but the price tag was beginning to get disproportionate every year. 

Now we're here with my generation which has crippling debt, no idea of how to do things themselves, and this idea that we deserve the newest items. We have not been taught to conserve, fix things, or take care of ourselves. We have teens and people in their 20's that still believe that the government will fix it, that we can hire someone to fix things, that we'll always be able to throw money at it till we run out of money or it gets to be a crisis at which point the government will come bail our asses out. But the government is more concerned about staying the world's police, about not offending anyone's religion, and is struggling to keep up the best lifestyle. 

We need to let go of being the best and having the best. We need to start looking around ourselves and stop watching things online. One of the reasons I think reality TV and the Sims is so popular is because we feel that their lives are better and more interesting then our own. We long for those clothes, phones, hair styles, make up, and lifestyles. The drama is more exciting and gets our blood pumping easier and faster then say, fixing the garbage disposal. I mean if the stars can have someone come in and just replace something why can't I? We're both Americans and deserve the same things. But what we forgot along the way was that we do not deserve anything, and our needs is all that we should ask help for after we have truly tried and failed to provide them ourselves.