who's the ECL?

My photo
Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm not BAD evil, more like devil's food cake evil.

Monday, December 20, 2010

a block from the epicenter

I'm down here in the Bay Area for the holidays, and we had a little pre-Christmas celebration Sunday morning. My sister and her family are spending Christmas with her in-laws in Florida this year, so we exchanged our gifts and stockings with them early.

There we were, still in our PJs, wrapping paper in tatters, the nephew more excited about the box than the gift (isn't that how it always is with kids). I was sitting on the couch next to Mom, when I heard a low rumbling sound. I thought it was a plane flying low overhead, but then with a loud BANG the house threw itself suddenly to the right, and then the low rumble moved on.

An earthquake! How California. It was a wierd earthquake, because instead of a little shaking and rumbling it was just one loud jerk. But then again, it was kind of cool. You can say that about an earthquake when it is only 3.1 on the richter scale. Those big ones....not so much.

Later on, the news mentioned our little earthquake and pinpointed the epicenter to a street not too far from our house. In fact, one block away! So glad it was a teeny earthquake, considering.

3.1 magnitude quake in Los Altos

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

(Not So) Fit to Curl

women's round robin curling Last night Cookie and I were at the local ice rink, inside of a shopping mall, after hours with ten other people. We all had funny black grippers over our shoes and were clutching brooms. The chatty gentlemen standing at the head of our semi circle were talking about safety on the ice, how to get yourself in the hack, and how to glide off down the ice pushing a big granite rock.

Yes my friends, we were learning to curl.

I tell you, the sport looks funny when you are just watching it, especially if you are new. Even admitting that I am a bit of a curling fan, watching the local league finish up their games before we ambled onto the ice made Cookie and I giggle. It all just looks so dorky.

Aha, and then we started participating, and dorky it wasn't any longer. It was fun! It was difficult! It was a cardio workout! Those stones can go down the ice faster than you think, and when sweeping, you've got to run/hobble sideways while scrubbing with a lot of pressure on the ice, without bumping into the other sweeper's broom or the stone. (I failed at all of those tasks.)

Throwing a stone is complicated, too. There's the fact that on your lead foot, there's a piece of slick teflon that will let you glide/slide/careen down the ice. That foot with the teflon doesn't feel stable at all. The other foot is resting in the hack, and one hand is holding a balancer thingy while the other hand (opposite side from your slippy foot) is the stone. The stone needs to be held in a certain way, and rotated gently in a certain way as you let go of it. There's a lot to think about.

It kind of went like this:
Okay, foot in the hack. crouch down.
Okay, holding the stone.
Okay, holding the stabilizer.
Okay, put your foot on the glider. WOAH.
Okay, sort of stand up and draw back your glidey foot WOAH
and then push off and keep your balance and hey i'm gliding! and ohyeah letgoofthestone heydidiremembertoturnit ithinkidid wow it is going slow i can't believe i just curled! wow it did not go more than ten feet this is HARD.
can i go again?

It was pretty fun. There were four instructors to the 12 of us learners, so they split us into two teams of six each and we played a game. Which basically meant that of the 12 rocks thrown, maybe four traveled far enough down the ice to make it into play.

I would like to thank Cookie and Scott for sweeping my stone past the line to make it into play, even though it was nowhere near the target. Good sweeping blue team!

I am sore today. I was breathing hard last night. I see why John Mosley wrote a book about conditioning for the sport. I can see why they call it a sport. Cookie and I were really excited afterwards. The league is starting up again in January, will we join up? Stay tuned to find out, folks.

Living in Portland and want to curl? Check out The Evergreen Curling Club.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

FFWD: Speculoos

I don't think I've ever had proper Speculoos, or Speculaas, or Belgian/Dutch Spice Cookies. I've made them before but since I have no idea how they are supposed to taste I don't know if what I've made is a good Speculoos. But at any rate, I enjoy them but I think I like a spicy Swedish gingersnap better.

FFWD: Speculoos

I also have discovered that when I bake cookies, which isn't very often, I like something easy and yummy, like a good ol' drop cookie. All the fancy cookies which require rolling into logs and chilling or rolling out into sheets for cut-outs is too much for my lazy brain.

FFWD: Speculoos

I have sandwiched caramel between spicy Swedish gingersnaps to great success, so I decided to do so with these.

FFWD: Speculoos

The caramel was too soft so it gooped out, but I think that just makes them more delicious. I also tried nutella (good), and homemade strawberry jam (not my favorite).

FFWD: Speculoos

All in all, a good cookie; I like the brown sugar and spices, but I would prefer something as spicy as a Swedish gingersnap.

Friday, December 03, 2010

FFWD: Leek and Potato Soup

I love a good potato-leek soup, in fact my mom served one as a first course to our Thanksgiving meal last Thursday. Mom uses almost equal amounts of potatoes and leeks, where Dorie's recipe is 3:1 in favor of leeks. So I was curious how this soup would turn out.

FFWD: leek and potato soup

This soup was really easy and pretty quick to put together, which seems to be the recurring theme with Dorie's dishes. Maybe it is just the recipes we've chosen for these two months, considering how busy this time of year is, or maybe all of the book is quick and easy. Which would be awesome, but once in awhile I might like a challenging 7-page recipe a la Rose's Heavenly Cakes, but I may be shooting myself in the foot for saying that. I am terrified of dealing with live lobsters, and I think there's a recipe or two where that will be necessary. Quick and easy--that's fine. Just fine.

FFWD: leek and potato soup

Back to the recipe. One onion and a few cloves of garlic are softened in butter, then everything else is added and brought to a boil. "Everything else" includes the leeks and potato, fresh thyme, chicken stock and milk. I thought the fresh thyme was a nice touch. All this is simmered for about 20 minutes and then you've got some choices ahead of you.

You can leave the soup chunky or puree it to whatever degree suits your fancy, then you can serve it hot or chill it, which brings it closer to Vichyssoise. Considering I was just finishing a cold and was really hungry to boot, I pureed just enough for one bowl and slurped up my soup.

Mmmm.  Quick and easy is wonderful!  

FFWD: leek and potato soup