Lenten observance

I am “giving up” Internet browsing at home for lent. I would give it up at work too, but It is sort of what I get paid to do. I just added the rules to my router (recently upgraded to Linux), and I should have it set to allow only non-browsing traffic through to my system here, and the iBook.

Here are my reasons:

  1. I spend too much time doing nothing on the computer
  2. I spend too little time playing with the kids
  3. I spend too little time reading *real* stuff
  4. When I have the Internet to browse, I am too lazy to take pictures
  5. The Internet is not my spiritual guide
  6. God is just waiting for me to pay attention (I really should not waste his time)
  7. I am being a poor example to my family
  8. My muscle is slowly turning into fat
  9. The Internet is mostly a pointless waste of time
  10. It is too easy to stay up too late
  11. My wife is prettier than this stupid screen
  12. I really should get started on my cheese-making hobby
  13. teh internets r stoopid

Practically, this will mean that I will not be checking blogs or doing pointless research at home. I will still have access to email, and chatty type stuff, but no surfing. Fortunately, this blog is actually on my home computer, so I may still post…

Who’s with me?

Mama’s Carnitas

We have started planning a single meat dish each week that provides a basis for many sub-meals throughout the week, and provides a single source for all meat eaten each week. Last week it was carnitas, using a recipe provided by mom. While overseas, many holiday meals were celebrated with Mexican fare rather than American, and carnitas was usually on the table.

This particular dish ends up providing the base for 6 other meals which either use the meat, the broth, or both. Here is how it usually works:

  • Carnitas:
    • Quesadillas (using the meat with black beans and salsa)
    • Tortilla soup (using the meat and the broth, with black beans, tomatoes, yogurt, and tortilla chips)
    • Black beans and rice (using the meat and the broth with rice, salsa, tomatoes, and cheese)
      • Burritos (using the meat, the black beans and rice, and condiments)
      • Chipotle rice soup (using the broth, the meat, and the black beans and rice)
    • Tacos/Burritos (using the meat)

The recipe:

Mama’a Carnitas

1 bone-in pork shoulder (about 7 lb.)
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
1 large onion, quartered
1 Tablespoon coriander seed (whole)
1 Tablespoon cumin seed (whole)
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 canned chipotle chilies in sauce or 4 whole dried chipotles
2 bay leaves

To a 7-8 quart pan, add all ingredients. Add enough water to cover the pork. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until meat pulls off easily with a fork (5-6 hours).

Remove meat from pot and shred into a casserole dish. Bake pork uncovered in a 450 F oven until lightly browned and sizzling, about 20 minutes.

I neglected to take pictures this time, but I promise to take some next time.

Remarkable milestone

We have reached a point where we have a new coffee drinker in the house. She has arrived at this point according to the rites and traditions of the family.

I remember my graduation to coffee drinker in Butuan (yes, at 12!) when I began dumping nescafe, sugar and powdered milk into hot water. I now shudder at the thought, and know that my daughter will know good coffee before she even starts heading for Starbuck’s when she has her own car.

Rosemary’s sourdough

I have not baked bread before. I think I have “made” bread in the bread maker, but I have never actually made bread by hand from start to finish. Last week I started working on a sourdough starter that uses kefir to provide the flora. On Thursday B used the starter to make some white French baguettes that were quite tasty. She used the starter only, no added yeast. This is what I was hoping for; a sourdough that is strong enough to work on it’s own. So I started throwing ingredients together yesterday. Some whole wheat flour, some white. Honey, olive oil, and rosemary and it was ready to rise.

Rosemary's baby sourdough

I left it overnight, and it just about doubled. When I tipped it onto the baking sheet it deflated, so I let it rise some more. I was feeling a little impatient, so I put it into the warm (100F) oven for a while. It rose again, but it was obvious that it would overflow the baking sheet, and the surface was drying out. I decided to punch it down, and split it. The dry parts and the caked flour added a whole lot of character. After about 30 minutes at 450F in the oven they were done, and smelled great. The rosemary was really coming out!

Only a mother could love...

I did not use a specific recipe or follow any directions, but I did what we usually do in our house when we are thinking about cooking something new: I browsed through several sourdough recipes, looked at a few forums, and then just went at it. i could probably write it all down, but I am not sure I would call it a success, maybe just a non-failure.

It is what is inside that counts...

I will tell you how I made my starter. After encouraging stories from Peter and his kefir sourdough success, I looked around on the Internet to see how others were making their kefir starter. There seem to be many variations, so I just did what i thought would work. I mixed some flour and water together to make a watery paste, and then added kefir. I added enough flour to make a batter and then left it on the counter. The next day I fed it some more flour and a little more water. It had started bubbling by that time, and looked like pancake batter. I did the same thing that night, and the next morning. By the end of the second full day, it smelled and tasted quite sour, and had begun to foam around the edges. B used 4/5 of it, and I used what was left to start over. Pretty easy, if you have kefir handy, and it does not take the week or so that traditional sourdough starter takes to get going (so I hear).

Tasty rosemary

Provocation #12

Christendom is a society of people who call themselves Christians because they occupy themselves with obtaining information about those who a long time ago submitted themselves to Christ’s examination – spiritlessly forgetting that they themselves are up for examination.

Provocations are taken from Provocations: The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

Freezer land

Over the last few weeks our world transitioned from a bleak muddy brown to a crisp and sparkling landscape of extremes. Today the high is 4°F, but this morning it was -1°F with 20+ MPH winds. The sun has been out, so it seems like a cheery Michigan winter outside, but only those with full snow suits are out and about (mostly speeding around on snowmobiles). We did have plenty of opportunity to get out before the frigid temps took over, and enjoyed the frozen lake and snow for a good week. Things should be more bearable outside later in the week, and we look forward to even more outdoor winter fun. We are thinking of harvesting some lake ice to build with…

I took some picture from the first weekend with a real good freeze on the lake and some significant snow. It warmed up to 38°F that day, and the following day it piled on the snow. It was a great day in the snow with Peter, and we were able to get some good skating and sledding in before EZ broke his arm (again). It was the final of three injuries that he sustained that weekend, and the most serious. Earlier he crashed his sled into a trailer hitch because he did not understand what I meant when I said “Remember to bail out if it looks like you might crash”, but he did not bother to clarify (what a time to *stop* asking questions). He hurt his ankle, but ended up just fine. Later, he was running on the ice and slipped and hit his head. Also not serious, but he has this way of screaming that lets onlookers know that not only did it hurt, but he it totally pissed off about it, and someone should pay. At the end of the weekend (yes, Sunday), he and A asked if they could slide down the basement stairs while we were at Gma and Gpa’a house. Sure, have fun. It turned out that they were sliding down on their knees, and the stairs were pretty steep. A few minutes into this activity that blood-boiling scream erupted from the basement. EZ decided that he was going too fast, and tried to stop himself on the second to bottom step, and flew forward. A was crying because his scream made it seem like he had been impaled, and she thought he had hit his face or something. He calmed down, and we thought we would see how things went that evening. B took him in to get x-rays in the morning, and his arm was fractured. In the same place as last time. And the time before that. Somehow, the glow-in-the-dark cast made it all seem worth it.

Slaves at work

Ice hockey puck

A is ready for the next shot

My alien

Take me to your leader

We are indoors this weekend. I am making yogurt, kefir sourdough starter, and carnitas, while B is reconstructing our bed canopy, rearranging the bedroom, creating a reading corner in the studio, and doing general organizing. The kids have been reading, fighting over said reading corner, washing dishes, and sweeping. Overall is has been a rather productive cold weekend.