Thursday, November 19, 2020

Good Eats, Beautiful Weather, Dog Photos, etc

I love cold weather foods! Lasagne!
Cod baked with herbs and buttered bread crumbs:
Served with pasta with fresh tomato sauce and steamed veggies:
Another Working from Home Situation. Absent-mindedly grabbing an apple when you have forgotten that You Are Obligated to Share Apples. I often eat apples while I work, so I don't think about it, then I'm like, "Why are you all up in my grill? Oh."
The trails have been packed enough by multiple skiers and snowmachiners, so DL and I went for a walk last weekend with the dogs running loose. The light was so lovely that I brought a camera. Cricket happy!
Thistle happy!
Happy, happy! Joy, joy!
Here it is! Our holiday card photo. Right behind our cabin!
That lovely, lovely light:
Bluebird skies:
Oh check this out. We passed a friend on the trails, and Cricket screamed at her (because that's what Cricket does). Later that day, I got a facebook message from her. And now I have an eyewitness statement that this little cuddler runs like a hellhound and wails like a banshee!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Lion Head Photos

This post is for one Ms. ALP, who now lives in Montana and misses my lion heads. :) So the next time I made lion heads, I took photos so I could assemble a recipe post.

Some notes: Lion heads originate from the region around Jiangning, which is near my mother's ancestral region. They are oversized meatballs traditionally made with pork and napa cabbage, although you can substitute any large-leafed green that has a similar texture and contains a lot of water (like bok choy). The dominant flavor is ginger, and the magic is in the water that is released from the veggies as they steam. It gets flavored by the meat and the flavors in the meat and is great spooned over rice.

Pork is the most common meat of that lattitude of China. Historically, they have chickens, but eggs tend to be more valued than chicken meat, so the chickens remain alive. Similarly, they have cows (well, a yak-ish buffalo-ish critter), but they are valued as working animals and also tend to live to old age. Anyway, all that being said, I make them with beef because I'm an animal-welfare-snob who only buys free-range meat, and free-range beef is more more readily available in American stores than free-range pork.

My mom made these in a wok, but it's hard to manage the thermals in a wok. Much easier in a heavy pot with high thermal mass. I use an enamel-covered cast iron, but also have used an iron skillet. However, my skillet doesn't have a decent lid, so I use aluminum foil to cover it to steam. As the napa cabbage shrinks, I push down the foil and it gradually changes from a foil dome to a flat foil lid. :)

Here is the recipe I copied from my mom's handwritten green binder cookbook when I left home!

Here are the raw ingredients:
My kitchen supervisor is ready and waiting!
Chop up the green onions and ginger like this:
Ok the recipe calls for a torn up piece of bread, or a slurry of cornstarch and water, but I use cracker crumbs. So mix the meat, the cracker crumbs, the green onions and ginger, and add some soy sauce, some dry white wine, and a generous sprinkling of white pepper. Then form giant meatballs and brown them (in a bit of oil if your meat is very lean).
After the meatballs are browned on the surface, remove them from the pot. Tear the napa cabbage into palm-sized pieces, line the pot with 2 layers of them, and nestle the meatballs all comfy inside:
Then cover with another generous layer of napa cabbage (it's hard to have too much... they shrink a lot and contribute so many good juices), and pour a bit more soy sauce on top:
Turn the heat down super low, cover, and let cook undisturbed for about 30 mins. You should just barely hear the steam sizzling out from the napa cabbage as it cooks. If it's too quiet, turn the heat up notch. If it's too sizzly-steamy-violent-sounding, turn the heat down. When it's done, the top leaves will be cooked:
But it's the bottom leaves that have all the magic! The meat juices will have come out, and the cabbage water will have come out, and those bottom leaves will be braised in juices. Serve over rice!

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Biggest headline today!

At the top of the page, the Minor News reported on our snowstorm!
LOL! I think it is hilarious and very appropriate that the Minor News has not said one single peep about the election until today, when they had to acknowledge that Something had Occurred in the Lower 48, and that it was Kinda, Sorta interesting. Although not as important as our snowstorm.

Well, in one night, we went from deep cold to a 60 F degree rise in temperatures and 10 inches of fresh snow!

I think the ladies are enjoying retirement. What do you think?
Uh-oh. Cricket has gone flat.
Today, we went skijoring. So much fresh snow! But look how sweet and patient the ladies are while I put on my coat and mittens. If they were still racing dogs pre-retirement, they'd be jumping up and down and yelping!
Plenty of snow now! For part of it, it looked like the trail had been broken midday yesterday, so there were only a few inches of fresh powder. there were also quite a few low, burdened trees and branches to dodge.
The light was very pretty!
Still some gooshy stuff on our creek crossing though.
The snow started to get deeper on the main trail.
And then we passed a spur where the person yesterday either started or ended laying track, and were in virgin snow up to the girls' bellies!
Our biggest challenge today.
At this point, I decided that we'd go to the top of the ridge where it connected to another popular trail, and if trail had been broken on the other side, we'd continue on. Otherwise, we'd turn around and come home. Breaking that much trail was just getting too tiring for a recreational activity!
Still deep snow at the top!
Here is video of us breaking through it. Look at how they dive through the tall snow!

Uh-oh. Still unbroken snow on top of the ridge!

Few, the opposite trail had indeed been broken, so we had an easy run home (though dodging overhanging branches the whole way).

Such good girls! But now Thistle is sulking at me because I won't share my pumpkin seeds with her. Dogs aren't supposed to eat pumpkin seeds, are they? (Every now and then, she picks up her head so she can flop it back down and make a Dramatic Noise.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Good Morning!

I don't remember a lot from Catholic school, but I do remember that one day grumpy ol' Monsignor C was out ill, so we got a guest priest to teach us Religion class, and he taught me something I still use. He said, if you live well, you can face each day with courage in your heart and peace in your soul. You want to wake up each day and say, "Good morning, Lord! What are we going to do today?" instead of "Good Lord! Morning!"

Monday, November 2, 2020

Hello Winter! Brrrrrrr

This was my brilliant idea for socially distanced trick-or-treating. I prebagged treats and put them out up at the top of the driveway. I normally only get between 0 and 3 trick-or-treaters, but when my neighbors heard of my plan, they wanted to join in, and also keep our neighborhood kids in the neighborhood this year. It worked out great! I posted a photo on our neighborhood facebook group when my treats were ready to go:
And other neighbors posted their photos as well!
Creative hosting strategies!
People even posted photos of the kiddos prepping candy bags for their brethren, before heading out themselves.
I don't even know what this pumpkin is made of... a dyed snowball, perhaps?
Totally socially distanced!
Some people got super generous!
The fire station even hosted a table!
Another creative host!
Redneck humor.
My neighbor right across the way.
At some point, it got dark enough to light my own pumpkin!
My neighbor down the road had had this display up for weeks! It even blinks lights through the eyes and makes noises! Thistle and Cricket WOOF at it on our morning run.
My neighbors up the road the other way built up a bonfire and got dressed up to greet the kids from 6 feet away!
Another action shot with Grim.
I'd say that the neighborhood trick-or-treat was a success! I made 24 baggies, and I saw at least 15 cars pull up at the top of the driveway. I even saw some of the kiddos getting out of the car all dressed up! I guess in this era of Facebook and instagram, there is no longer any such things as "all dressed up and nowhere to go" because you can take photos and share them via social media. So the kids got all dressed up, although nobody saw them for more than a glimpse, and I'm sure they have photos for their grandparents and friends.

The next morning was brrrrr-tacular! So we did a shorter walk. We have a 4-mile loop, a 5.5-mile loop, and a 14-mile loop. We did the 4! Cricket's paws were cold.

She licks them warm again after our cold walks
Their pawfuzz is growing in, but it's not quite there yet.
Then this morning--this! BRRRRR!
We did a short run today. In a few months though, this will feel balmy! Every year, we have to acclimated all over again.