Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

When you look at the structure of the brain it's made up of neurons.........There are 100 billion of these nerve cells.  Each of these cells makes about 1,000 to 10,000 contacts with other neurons.  From this information people have calculated that the number of possible brain states, of permutations and combinations of brain activity, exceeds the number of elementary particles in the universe.

--V.S. Ramachandran

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Out and about

I'm having trouble keeping my blood pressure under control these days. My doctor is doing his part in prescribing stronger doses of medicine and I'm trying to do my part by meditating,  losing weight. and getting plenty of exercise.  Usually, I walk a mile or so along the highway that runs in front of our house but yesterday, just for a change, I walked the perimeter of our ten acres. If I walked along four straight lines to form a square ten acres that would be a little more than half a mile, but I stretched it out to almost a mile by...

walking down this lane and back...

then around the north end of the pasture....

down this trail to the creek....

up the gravel bed where I found the bear scat last December...

I paused long enough to check out the swimming hole. The grand
kids will have fun here this summer.

I walked to the south end of our woods. The only sounds were birds
fluttering in the brush and the wind in the trees. To paraphrase a poem
 I once heard,  "In February when  south winds pierced my solitude,
 I found  peace on Peach Eater Creek."

Around the south end of the pasture and back to the house. Not
a bad cardiovascular workout.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Birthday Party

Our family makes a big deal of birthdays, especially a baby's first.  Saturday we had a grand party for our great grand daughter Gracen.

Dorothy made cupcakes for the occasion

Cherry Chocolate

Red Velvet

Everyone brought dips, chips, melted chocolate for dippng marshmallows, salsa, quacamole.
The birthday girl

Now to wash the cake off.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Quote of the Day

The most fatal illusion is the narrow point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.

--Brooks Atkinson

Hot Pastrami

Pastrami sandwiches have always been a favorite around our house. When we lived in California we bought them served on French rolls but in the eastern part of the country the traditional way is on rye bread with mustard and pickles.  Since Dorothy gave me my new smoker I've been wanting to attempt to make that delicious, spicy meat.
So, hear are the details:

I bought  a 5lb corned beef brisket in brine, rinsed it thoroughly and cut almost all the fat off. (I left about 1/8 inch layer.)  I prepared a dry rub consisting of 3 Tbs ground black pepper, 2 Tbs ground coriander, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 Tbsp paprika.

Then I rubbed all sides of the brisket with the dry rub mixture.

 I placed the brisket on a length of heavy duty aluminum foil drizzled with vegetable oil then wrapped it tight. Then I wrapped it two more times in foil, placed it in a roasting pan then into my smoker set at 240 degrees. It cooked for five hours.

Next, I removed it from the smoker and let it sit on the counter until it cooled to room temperature, then into the refrigerator over night.

The next day I used an electric slicer that I borrowed from my sister Rita and produced a pile of deli thin slices of pastrami.

We served them on rye bread with mustard, pickles, and banana peppers. This photo is of Dorothy's sandwich. Mine had twice the amount of pastrami.

I also made an apple pie.  Dorothy tells me I added too much shortening because the crust wouldn't stay together. As you can see the top crust is just a patch work of dough. Not very pretty but we ate it warm with a scoop of ice cream and it was quite tasty.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Quote of the Day

"We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be."

--Anne Lamott

What I'm reading now

Have you ever heard of the word "homogenocene"? Neither had I until I read this book by Charles C. Mann. It describes the ecological era we are now living in where biological diversity is diminishing and the world's ecosystems are beginning to resemble each other. In his first book 1491 Mann describes the world before Columbus "discovered" the Americas and in this tome we learn how the world has changed since the voyage of Cristobal Colon. Can you imagine Italian cooking without tomatoes? or the Irish without the potato? Both these foods were introduced to Europe as a result of the Colombian Exchange, a phenomenon that occurred as  ships began to ply the oceans in a quest for gold and silver to fill the coffers of European monarchs. While precious metals were being plundered and New World civilisations were being destroyed a process began that altered the world as it was known  then. This book explains how the Spanish not only took silver from South America back to Spain but also sailed to the Philippines where they met Chinese merchants who traded silk and porcelain for the silver. The silver became the basis for the Chinese economy.  The most interesting thing about the book is how it explained that the biggest changes occurred from the plants, animals, and diseases that were often transported in both directions across the seas. Coffee came from the Near East to South America, potatoes from the Andes to Europe, Sugar from Asia to the Caribbean. Diseases killed millions after being introduced to people who had no natural immunity to them. 1493 is an interesting read. Over 400 pages but it will hold you interest to the end.