Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Green onion bread recipe

1 1/3 cups warm milk
1 envelope of yeast
1-2 tsp salt, depending on your sodium proclivities
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
3 cups bread flour
A whole lot of green onions (I used two entire stalks of these)

1) Dissolve yeast in warm milk in a large mixing bowl. Let stand ~10 minutes until foamy. If you have a lot of time on your hands, use conventional yeast. I use the quick-rising kind.

2) Whisk in the salt, pepper, egg, and one cup of the flour. Whisk until smooth.

3) Switch to a wooden spoon and beat in the rest of the flour gradually. When it gets too difficult, flour your hands, dump it onto a floured board, and continue by kneading.

4) When it is smooth, smoosh it out flat, add half the green onions, knead, and then smoosh it out again, add the other half of the green onions, and knead again.

5) Oil a bowl, smoosh the dough into a round lump, put it into the bowl, and then turn it over so the top and bottom are both oiled.

6) Cover it with a wet towel and let it rise until doubled. If making the night before, you can let it rise in the fridge. If you are impatient, you can put it in the oven on extremely low heat, then kill the heat, and let it sit in the residual heat to rise. Depending on how you encourage it to rise and whether you use conventional or rapid-rise yeast, this can take 20 minutes to 12 hours to double in volume.

7) Punch down the dough, shape it into a round, score the top with a cross, and put it onto an oiled cookie sheet. Cover with a wet towel and let rise until nearly doubled. As in step 6, "let rise" means use any method you like based on your time and patience!

8) Bake in preheated 375F oven for 40-45 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you thwack it with your finger.

I use this as a generic base for all kinds of yummy savory breads. Instead of or in addition to the green onions, you can use any fresh or dried herbs, grated cheddar or any other hard cheese (like pepperjack! yum!), olives, nuts, etc. You can also eliminate the pepper if you'd like. Don't forget to reduce the salt if you use something salty, like olives or pesto.

You can also reserve a bit of the egg from step 2 and use it to brush on the top before baking for a nice finish. You can also use all-purpose flour, but it will be less airy and chewy (more cakelike).


This is adapted from a recipe by Deborah Madison, the famous vegetarian chef.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

First Snowfall!

Oh yeah, oh yeah! How fast can you run?

Wahahahaha! I'm gonna get her! Only early and late in Winter is snow sticky enough for use in snowballs or snowmen.

I can pack much less water, now that we can eat snow on the trail!

Dan coming up the valley:

Happiness is ripping through the snow with your best buds.

Autumn in her element.

Linden catching snowflakes!

Are they pooped!

The strawberries are a lost cause:

Linden and her feeties!

Two lumps of wabbit:

A cold-weather favorite at our house--pumpkin stew with white beans, caribou sausage, and kale. Sometimes my pumpkin turns to goosh, but it's still darned tasty.

Green onion bread. I am actually getting through our crazy quantities of green onions.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Peck of Gold

Dust always blowing about the town,
Except when sea-fog laid it down,
And I was one of the children told
Some of the blowing dust was gold.

All the dust the wind blew high
Appeared like god in the sunset sky,
But I was one of the children told
Some of the dust was really gold.

Such was life in the Golden Gate:
Gold dusted all we drank and ate,
And I was one of the children told,
‘We all must eat our peck of gold.’

--Robert Frost

All of the gold-influenced names around here--Gold Hill, Goldstream, Gold Flake, Gold Nugget, etc--date from the Gold Rush, but in the Fall, you can really be convinced that these names come from the crazy yellow birch and aspens, and the aggressive Autumn light adding gold on top of gold, to dazzling effect.

And as long as we don't have snow, we have dust. Fine, glacial dust that gets under our nails, into our clothes, and all over our cars and homes. It's clean dust, mind you, far preferable to urban grime with its associated carcinogens and human-originated cooties. But not so aesthetically pleasing! I find that I spend most idle moments at red lights cleaning my hands.

The only thing we lack to make Robert Frost's scene is wind. But I'm not sorry about that!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Weather report

After a slight cold snap earlier this week, it is warmer today, but unfortunately too late for my impressive collection of green strawberries, which has already given up the strawberry ghosts.

Earlier this week, on a startlingly clear day, I was surprised to see the Alaska Range entirely covered with snow! It won't be long for us, now! We have a hike planned this weekend, so maybe the dogs will get to play in snow. I can already see them smiling and running around like loonies!

Shower Mysteries

We have a rather nice shower in my building. It got new fixtures and a general cleanup over the Summer, and it's nice and has lots of water pressure, which, despite my child-of-drought-country guilt, I love. The problem is, it attracts people who don't even work in this building, some of whom I suspect are not even affiliated with UAF, and dang, I get annoyed when people just take their sweet time in the shower, knowing people are waiting. How inconsiderate! There are also the following sources of befuddlement:

1) How come I always have to wait for someone to finish showering, but when I come out, no-one is waiting outside for me?

2) How come I shower at roughly the same time each day, and this person for whom I have been waiting is never the same person twice? I mean, how weird is that? Where does this steady supply of random shower-users come from?

3) What in the heck are people doing in there after they are done showering? I mean, when I hear the water shut off, I think to myself, "Oh good, not much longer now." But then some (actually, most!) people then proceed to spend twenty to, on one memorable occasion, forty minutes in there! I timed myself once, when I knew no-one was waiting outside for me, so I could be sure not to rush and throw off the timing. I came out of the shower, looked at my watch, dried myself, put on lotion, and got dressed. Then I looked at my watch again. Seven minutes had passed. What in heck are people doing in there? I used to think it was girls putting on makeup or doing the other sundry girly things that I find inexplicable, but guys do it too!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Midweek miscellany

Yesterday morning was damp enough for pretty serious frost:

So I gave up on my poor little green strawberries, and picked the one edible one:

Tastiest potatoes on earth:

Crazy carrot:

The girls relaxing:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Campus Moose

Mamamoose and behbehmoose, off Farmer's Loop:

Happy Equinox, everybody!

From this point until the Spring equinox, you lower 48 folks will beat us for daylight hours. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A cold day on Wickersham Dome

Tomorrow is the first official day of Fall, and today, it got cold. At 9 a.m., there was still frost on the ground, but it was lovely to walk on frozen mud instead of slipping and sliding around.

We went for a quick walk up Wickersham Dome, and brrrrr! I'm sorry to say that I didn't wear enough clothes, so had to cut our hike short. Don't the girls look happy, though?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Misc Photos

Fuzzy wuzzy warm fuzzy cuddly wuddly huggable squishables (I seem to be failing at respecting the dignity of my Proud Alaskan Dogs):

Moose on campus, with twin calves. I think I only got one calf in this shot, though.

Alaskan green onions:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Misc Food photos

Tripodic carrot:

The most delicious raspberries in the world:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bye-bye cranes!

I love that they migrate between my old home region and my new one. I feel like they are my kindred spirits. Only, honking and cackling, which I do not.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Peas on Earth

Look at these gorgeous peas! I don't recall seeing peas at the Farmer's Market last year, so these were a wonderful surprise. I shelled them tonight, gave the pods to the doofi, and will cook them tomorrow. Afterwards, we will have internal peas. :)

The on-campus reindeer are very curious about Autumn and Linden. Whenever I walk them down there, the reindeer all stop what they are doing (they will even interrupt their own nap), saunter over to us, line up against the fence, and stare at us with their big, gentle brown eyes. I cannot fathom what they are thinking or why they want to stare at dogs. They never come stare at me when I am alone.

Don't they look so placid and sweet? When we leave, they always follow us along the fence, continuing to stare.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Alaskan Cheese

Yesterday, the nip of colder weather finally started to get to me, so I thought bending over a pot of hot liquid sounded acceptable. I get local milk from Northern Lights Dairy in Delta Junction, thanks to middleman extraordinaire, Alaska Feed. Most of the nationally-available brands of organic milk, such as Horizon and Organic Valley, pasteurize at an ultra-high temperature so it will store for longer (the labels say three weeks!), but it denaturizes the milk proteins and makes the milk unsuitable for cheese-making.

Anyway, here are photos of my Alaskan mozzarella, with rennet and citric acid from the good folks at New England Cheesemaking Supply.

My curds and whey:

Heated ball of mozzarella curd ready for stretching:

Finished log, ready for slicing for salad with fresh tomatoes, but jarred pesto (my basil died):

Thank you Northern Lights Dairy! Without you, I would have no fresh cheese.

Two fuzzballs. They are getting quite energetic with the cooler weather. I can't wait until ski season starts!

And now, a question for you readers... Any suggestions of what to do with whey? I'd bring it to Autumn and Linden's former family for their pigs, but they haven't been coming to the Farmer's Market lately, and I don't feel like driving to Two Rivers just to avoid a few dollars of wasted whey. What else can one do with whey? I see recipes for breads and stuff, but they only use a cup at a time, and I want to use up the whole gallon. Thanks!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Well now it's hitting where it hurts!

Bee colony collapse disorder does not seem to have affected Alaska, at least not the Interior. In fact, I believe 2006 was a record year for bees and wasps and other sorts of stinging stripy things that pollinate. Our then-landlord discovered then, somewhat belatedly, that he was allergic to bee stings, and went to the hospital and took weeks to recover.

However, this Summer, the bees have been inactive due to the unusually cool weather and constant rain. Quite a few of us home gardeners would come home to find bees sitting on our flowers, baaaaaaarely aaaaaable to juuuuuuust mooooooove.

Yesterday at Alaska Feed, the friendly sales clerk informed me that there was no more honey for the year from the apiary in Delta Junction that supplies Alaska Feed with their local honey. Not yet having put the pieces together, I asked why. She explained to me, "It's the end of Summer! No more bees!" I retained my blank look. "But you guys had honey all through last Winter! I thought you, you know, stored honey through Winter. To sell to me." But the honey supply for the year has already run out. Local honey is still available at the Farmer's market, but the sellers there charge about 1.5 what Alaska Feed does. :(

Friday, September 12, 2008

Polar Bear in Barrow!

With photos here.

The mind (in this case, mine) boggles. If I were 10-15 yards from a polar bear, I would probably:
1. Cry
2. Pee myself
3. Shit myself

But these people took photos!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

PSA from a friend...

The Enforcer over at 2:00 for roughing brings us a public service announcement. I am embarrassed to say that I was not the first to reassure you, since I work in physics.

Edit. If you're really interested in how to destroy the earth, here is an interesting website for you.

Bits and Pieces

So first of all, Arctic Engineering is the biggest and most culturally and racially diverse class I've been in since my lower division classes at Berkeley. I was completely surprised. Apparently, it is a requirement for Professional Engineering registration in Alaska.

An interesting way in which "diversity" in Fairbanks differs from "diversity" in the Bay Area is that, in the Bay Area, most Asian and black people are American. But up here, quite a few black people are African, and most Asians are from Asia. We also have a really high rate of international adoption up here. I have never before seen so many children whose race doesn't match that of their parents. I think it's nice that love can truly cross all barriers.

My other bit of commentary for the day concerns Linden. Whoda thought that one of the World's Most Perfect Dogs would attack the neighbor dog? Who is eleven years old. And lives on a chain. Isn't that a bit like kicking out a cane from underneath an old lady? Way to go, Linden. Geeze! Of course, it's quite difficult to remain angry at this:

And that's the whole problem with disciplining Linden. She's so cute and so dense that it's like disciplining a brick wall. A brick wall with a photo of Knut on it. When you scold her, she looks neither ashamed nor defiant, which are the hallmarks of a good and bad dog, respectively. Instead, she looks at you with big, blank eyes and a big smile on her mouth. And she pricks her ears forward like she is trying so hard to comprehend why you are shouting and why you are taking dog biscuits to the neighbors instead of to her and Autumn. Sigh

Thank goodness the neighbor's dog is okay! But I still feel terrible about it. :(

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Plagiarism, she lives

You would not believe how many hits this blog has gotten this week from people using the search criteria "how I spent my holiday," which leads to this post.

Write your own school essays, kids. Writing is a good and useful skill to have and practice. Besides, I think your teacher wants to know how you spent your holiday, not how internet writers spend theirs.

In other news, engineering classes are enjoyable thus far. I find that I can grasp even theoretical engineering better than I can wrap my mind around even applied physics. Of course, my motivation level is higher in engineering than in physics, so that helps. Applications of engineering can make immediate contributions to human welfare, however small. Applications of physics, on the other hand, tend to be grander, loftier, and may move the entire human race forward in the quest for Understanding the Universe. That sounds romantic enough, but such goals have always seemed just a bit too quixotic for me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fall Falls Along the Chena

With their papa on a different day:

Here are the bunnies looking cute. Even Mr. Grumphus Bumfus Bunn B. Doofus is looking uncharacteristically cute.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

So the Fall Semester Begins...

It started last Thursday, actually, but since my classes only meet Monday through Wednesday, I start tomorrow. I will be taking Arctic Engineering, Elastic Stability Theory, and three thesis credits, in addition to my research assistanceship. Both of my scheduled classes are in the evenings, so I am free to schedule my daytime hours however I find convenient (within the constraints of the other people I work with, of course).

When you are a grad student doing research, your time is tight, but fluid. I am thankful for this and find that it suits both my personality and what I am used to. In the Silicon Valley, salaried engineers almost always work over 40 hours a week, but we are not paid overtime. However, on the flip side, the time that I took off was equally loosely managed. No-one even recorded the time I took off for personal business. It was just sort of understood that since I worked 45-70 hours per week with no overtime pay, it was perfectly fair of me to take off the time I needed without getting all nitty-gritty about reporting my vacation or sick leave.

When I was growing up, my mother worked for the federal government. She worked 9 hours a day, four days a week. On the fifth day, she alternately had the day off, and worked an 8-hour day. This summed to 80 hours every two weeks. Later, after having been working in industry for several years, I recalled this with a sort of awe. No-one had ever managed my time that carefully, and no-one ever would. I'm not sure what part of my personality gives me this, but I would be very resentful if anyone tried to schedule my hours exactly, even if the sum total of hours is less than what I would have planned for myself. I have worked in such jobs before, and it didn't bother me then. And obviously, taking classes imposes such restrictions, and I'm not so resentful about those. *shrug*

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fall Photos

Fall brings the best food (the Alaskan King Crab was frozen from Winter)::

Hangin' with my buds:

Red fox on campus:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pistachio Scans

Here is the entire nut, in profile:

Here is a slice taken along the z-axis of the view above:

And here is a screenshot of the rendered 3D model of the above slice:

Cool, huh? You can see the nut, the shell, and the skin of the nut that is peeling off inside the shell!