Monday, December 31, 2012

Project MCP: 13

The final challenge for project MCP was 13, "Take a photo representing the number “13″."

While going on a walk today I was pondering how to show thirteen when I got an idea, I could use shoes. With six people we have a plethora of shoes and I could easily dig up thirteen pairs. To show the new year I could have one pair be an outrageous pair of high heels surrounded by the various shoes of my family. Everybody is represented from sneakers, to cleats, and boots.

A nice way to round out the year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Trapped

trapped by Teckelcar
trapped, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Every time I sit on the floor this is what happens, the red boys immediately pile onto my legs. And there they will stay until I shove them off. With the red boys having a combined weight of well over fifty pounds,  I don't sit on the floor very often. I am very much trapped in place. I get very sad looks whenever I attempt to reposition. It is nice to be loved, but this is a bit much.

This winter break we have been watching the extended versions of the The Lord of the Rings. Which is a whole lot of movie watching and as a result I have ended up on the floor a few times. So I think it is safe to say that the dogs have become indirectly big fans of the LOTR movies.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Waffle Crab

Crab Waffle by Teckelcar
Crab Waffle, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The waffle maker we got Max has proven to be a great success, he loves having fresh, homemade waffles (almost) anytime he wants. The rest of us have been enjoying waffles as well since since Max can only eat so much waffle at one sitting and it would be a shame to waste the batter. Nate and Rebecca have been the main beneficiaries and once in a while I get to eek out one for myself.

This rather crabby looking waffle was the result of my having just enough batter to make half a waffle. As I pulled it out of the maker I noticed that some of the excess batter had spilled onto the other half and they looked a bit like claws. A generous dollop of whip cream and two blueberries later, waffle crab was born.

I think it's the funniest thing I have ever inadvertently created and it will probably never be recreated.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yorkshire Pudding

yorkshire pudding by Teckelcar
yorkshire pudding, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week I made a glorious yorkie pudding. They always tasted great, but were sadly lacking in the puff factor. This time, however,  I completely nailed it. Instead of all flat and sad looking this one had all the wonderful hills and valleys of a true Yorkshire pudding.

I think I finally got it figured out between the batter, temperature, drippings (with just a bit of butter to pad it out), and rack placement. It was a delicious accompaniment to a lovely bit of beef that Meryl picked up for our midwinter feast (we have a deal that she picks out the meat and I cook it with all the trimmings).

All and all a lovely meal was had by all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Artist of the Week: Cake Pops

Rebecca by Teckelcar
Rebecca, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is the cutest baker ever.

One of Rebecca's presents for Hanukkah was a cake pop pan, a tiny little tray with a silicon top that snaps over the whole thing that produces golf ball sized cake balls. Very cute and not something I would want, but completely up Rebecca's alley.

She was delighted and on our first free afternoon we made a whole mess of cake balls. About half got tossed into the freezer and the rest were stuck on lollypop sticks I had leftover from an earlier rock candy making venture. For the frosting I melted some dipping chocolate (later on moving onto chocolate chips) and broke out our large selection of quints, colored sugars, jimmies (sprinkles), and nonpareils.

Rebecca had a a wonderful time helping me make the batter and decorating her creations. She was all set to do them all, but I pointed out I had only so much storage space for the finished cake pops. We could decorate more at a future date once the current ones were eaten up. The finish product was very tasty to behold and to eat. I would say it was a successful present that lets my girl do her own thing.

So guess what she'll be making in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Drop

A merry Christmas to all my friends that celebrate. Here's a movie to put you in the right frame of mind, courtesy of Laura over at Fetch My Flying Monkeys.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

This is not your normal Christmas tune, it was arranged by Brad Gordon for a movie in 1967. Here is what he has to say about the song:

In 1967 I went to Italy to score a Christmas Western starring Lee Van Cleef. It was called "Death Rides a Sleigh". Here's what played over the main credits. The film itself has tragically been lost. The version of this music with Lee Van Cleef singing has also-- but not so tragically been lost.

I love it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Project MCP: December Challenges

Menorah by Teckelcar
Menorah, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I had a very hard time with most of December's Challenges, the lone exception being the fifth and final- take a photo representing the number “13″. Of course I haven't done it yet, but I feel far more optimistic about it than the other four challenges.

So what is my issue you may ask. Well the other four are all about Christmas and I kind of chaffed at the emphasis on all things Christmas. Now I admit that we do go to my mom's at Christmas time and enjoy her tree and exchange presents, but it's her holiday, not ours. Instead of the official challenges I did my own spin on each one.

The first challenge was "Capture a photo of a favorite piece of Christmas decor." I substituted Hanukkah for Christmas and took a picture of my favorite menorah. Way back in 2006 I did a whole post on this particular menorah, go over to here to get the whole story.

latkes maker by Teckelcar
latkes maker, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The second challenge was "Christmas is full of traditions – Take a photo representing the word “tradition.”" This one is pretty much on target for the challenge. I decided to submit two pictures for this particular challenge. The first of the two is the picture of Nate I featured back on the 12th. Latkes are the traditional food during Hanukkah and we traditionally attend our synagogues Hanukkah party and pitch in the latke making. It's a fun picture of Nate in action with far less blur than normal. Nate is normally camera shy and so active that a good number of his pictures are a study in motion blur.

making houses by Teckelcar
making houses, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The second photo for challenge number two, Tradition, is of Max making his gingerbread house during the last day of school before winter break. It has been a tradition for a number of years that the fifth grade class makes gingerbread house to take back home.

The preparation for the party starts earlier in the week when the parents came to school to glue graham crackers to empty milk cartons. On the big day each child is given a foam tray with a house, an ice cream cone, and a peep snowman. Frosting and a boat load of candy is spread across the tables. The kids have  great time decorating their houses and sneaking in a few bites of candy.

Seventh Night by Teckelcar
Seventh Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The third challenge was "The Christmas spirit – Capture a photo of the Christmas spirit." Again it's all about Christmas. I decided to go the route of "Festival of Lights" as the stand in for the Hanukkah spirit. I love this picture I posted of one of our other menorahs on the seventh night. The tiny candles together shine brightly and, for me at least, symbolize the hope that is Hanukkah. That we will survive and at times triumph against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Keeping the faith is the true light and spirit of Hanukkah.

Which brings us to the penultimate challenge of December, Twas 2 days before Christmas, and all through the house…Snap a photo of your Christmas wish.

Lighting together by Teckelcar
Lighting together, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Well I don't have any Christmas wishes per say, so I'll just go with my wish that my children continue to love and support each other. I took this picture with my cell phone on December 14th, the penultimate day of Hanukkah (it's kind of neat the way that worked out). There was no squabbling as Nate helped Max with the menorah. The picture is horribly grainy, but the composition and lighting are wonderful.

Hopefully next year, if there is a next year for the Project MCP, will be a little less focused on Christmas. I did have fun with pictures, but I would like the challenges to a bit broader.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Boy and his Waffle Maker

A Boy and his Waffle Maker by Teckelcar
A Boy and his Waffle Maker, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This is possibly the best present ever.

On the last night of Hanukkah we gave Max his very own waffle maker. He has been wanting us to get one for years, but I just wasn't interested in getting a single use kitchen appliance. Then a few months ago a friend got her son a waffle maker for his birthday and that got me thinking.

So it was on my mind as I cruised the aisles of Kroger getting odds and ends. When I saw the waffle makers on display I realized that would be the perfect present. A little different, but it would be the right thing to get. I called Larry and he agreed, so into the cart the waffle maker went.

I admit I was feeling a little trepidation before Max unwrapped his present, but I think that smile says that we were right.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Artist of the Week: The Eighth Candle

Jacob by Teckelcar
Jacob, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Jacob and his high school"s band.

Last week was their winter concert and amongst the various holiday songs was "The Eighth Candle." This not the first time I have seen it in the program, but it was the first time the band was deemed to be ready to preform. I like that the director chooses a range of songs, from relatively easy to those that require the students to stretch. This  year the band was up to the task.

Clocking in at just under eight minutes, the song is a long and difficult piece. The performance wasn't perfect, but the kids did a solid job. The level of play is ever so much higher than middle school and as a result the concerts are a treat to attend.

Hopefully the video will finish being processed and y'all will be able to enjoy The Eighth Candle.

Hooray, it's ready! Enjoy. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baking With Julia- Finnish Pulla

Finnish Pulla by Teckelcar
Finnish Pulla, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Ha! I did it! I'm back on schedule, at least for now.

This week's baked good for Baking with Julia was Finnish Pulla and the host is The Daily Morsel.

The bread is absolutely outstanding, it is a slightly sweet bread with a wonderfully fluffy texture. The cardamon adds a wonderful flavor to the bread and made the kitchen smell amazing while it baked. My loaf isn't as pretty as the others, I couldn't be bothered to roll out the dough to the full 36 inches. Two feet was enough for me and I ended up with a chunkier loaf.

Looks aside, Jacob and Nate loved it and I almost had to beat them off with a stick. Half of the loaf is gone and I expect the rest will disappear tomorrow. I will certainly make this bread again, the boys said they want it every week. I see it at most a monthly thing, cardamon is just too expensive to bake with on a weekly basis. Either way this recipe gets a big thumbs up from me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Highlights from Antarctica

Just a neat video of a tourist's perspective of Antarctica. Very nicely done video of an amazing trip, one I would like to take sometime.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Eighth Night

Eighth Night by Teckelcar
Eighth Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The eighth and final night of Hanukkah.

You can see in the background Nate lighting the other menorah. It worked out fairly well with the two menorahs with different teams lighting each night. The only moment of strife was the night Rebecca realized since she started on the first night she wasn't going to get to light them on the eighth night. Luckily at age 11 she got over the disappointment rather quickly and it did not mar the rest of the week.

I think this has been the nicest Hanukkah we have ever had.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Seventh Night

Seventh Night by Teckelcar
Seventh Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Such cheerful lights on such a sad day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sixth Night

Sixth Night by Teckelcar
Sixth Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Tonight Nate gets to light the menorah.

Meanwhile I'm happy to report that I starting to see the light at the end of the holiday baking marathon. I'm working on my last double batch of chocolate chip cookies. Tomorrow the kids will drop them off at their respective teachers and I will be done with the schools. Then it's just odds and ends ranging from the kennel to the recycle guys.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Artist of the Week: Latkes!

brothers by Teckelcar
brothers, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Nate, not the goofball behind him.

Nate has decided that he no longer wants to be photographed, he turns his head, throws his hands up, and sometimes flings himself onto the ground. It has become a sort of game between us. He'll see me with my camera in hand and instantly goes on the defensive while I try to sneak in a shot when his attention is elsewhere. The result is that I get a lot of random shots of arms and legs with an occasional gem like this with an endearingly goofy Jacob in the background.

latkes maker by Teckelcar
latkes maker, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Fortunately he is not completely impossible, if I stamp my foot Nate will allow me to take a few pictures of him. So I was able to capture him in the act of making latkes.

Our congregation had it's Hanukkah last Sunday and Nate wandered into the kitchen whilst Meryl and I were cooking up the last of the latkes. He wanted to help out so we showed him the ropes. The oven is an ancient behemoth and was a bit intimidating with the pans of sizzling oil, but he was soon pitching in and making latkes.

Freed from the stove I was able to scrub down counters and clean up the bevy of food processors that had been pressed into service. It was nice having an eager extra pair of hands.

Fifth Night

Fifth Night by Teckelcar
Fifth Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Now it's Rebecca's turn to light the menorah.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baking With Julia- Gingerbread Baby Cakes

gingerbread cake by Teckelcar
gingerbread cake, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Or in my case, one week late gingerbread cake.

I have no excuses about this one, I simply spaced making it. Which is a shame, it would have been a good dessert to bring to our congregation's Chanukah party last Sunday. I did fairly well with keeping up with the deadlines until a fe months ago and then the wheels came off.

Anyhoodle, the host for Baking with Julia's Gingerbread Baby Cakes was Karen's Kitchen Stories. The recipe is a snap to make and I was very happy to see both ground black pepper and minced fresh going into the batter. The best gingerbread, at least in my opinion has a nice peppery edge. The only problem I had was a brief moment of panic when I realized how much molasses was called for. Two whole cups! Luckily my pantry is well stocked and I had another bottle stashed in the back.

As for the eating, well I will update this post in the morning. I thought this would make a good breakfast treat.

Update:
And the verdict is in, it is scrumptious. There is a great depth in flavor and the cake is very moist. Max didn't care for it, nor did Rebecca(considering she dislike gingerbread in general that was to be expected). Jacob, Larry, and I thought it was excellent and well worth repeating.

Fourth Night

Fourth Night by Teckelcar
Fourth Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Third Night

Third Night by Teckelcar
Third Night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It is Max's turn to light the menorah.

The Maccabeats - Candlelight

A fun reworking of Mike Tompkins' a cappella version of Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" by the Maccabeats. A big hit with my crowd.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

First and Second Nights

first night by Teckelcar
first night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
And thus marks the start of Chanukah.

Saturday was the first night and it got off to a late start. First of all we had to wait about an hour after sunset so that we would be truly done with Shabbat, then I wanted to wait until Larry was back with Max and Rebecca from their respective futsal (aka indoor soccer) games, and finally then was the whole issue of Jacob being away with band. Luckily boy was back home by 9:30 and we were able to squeeze in the candle lighting before the dynamic duo got shuffled off to bed.
.
Second night by Teckelcar
Second night, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Tonight, the second night of Chanukah, was a bit easier to pull off. Today we had our congregation's annual Chanukah party from about 6 to 8 pm and were able to get back home at a decent hour to light the candles. As you can see by the two pictures we are working off of two menorahs. While digging out menorahs I found two unused boxes of candles.

So yay, I don't have to find more candles. It is not always easy to find Chanukah candles in the Richmond metro area, so I tend to stock up when I find them. By having the two menorahs in action the kids will have plenty of opportunities to light the candles.

Happy Chanukah!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Birthday Week

key lime carnage by Teckelcar
key lime carnage, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
There are a whole lot of birthdays going on around here this week. Monday was Larry's and tomorrow, Friday, is mine. Add in another family member in between and you have a busy week.

The key limes I'm featuring here where used to make Larry his birthday cheesecake. He liked the key lime cheesecake a few weeks so much he requested that to be his birthday treat. Juicing the 20 odd limes was a bore, but the juicer made it go quite a bit faster. Plus the rinds look very pretty with the inner membranes having a sort of swirled effect.

I'm not sure what we will be doing for my birthday since we'll be busy carting kids around to soccer and lacrosse on the actual day. It looks like I'll be going to Five Guys with a rather smelly Nate after his lacrosse practice.

I think at some point this weekend or next Larry and I will duck out for a proper birthday dinner for the two of us.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Artist of the Week: Annual Challenge

the picture 2012 by Teckelcar
the picture 2012, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I successfully completed my annual challenge of the holiday card photo last week. It's not an easy crowd to wrangle and this year was no exception.

Max was bound and determined to hold a dog this year and it took a fair amount of positioning to get John balanced on his lap. John and Max kept sliding off the deck box. Max refused any help from Nate, he said he could do it and by gum he did.

The rest of the crowd just wanted to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible. As a result the shenanigans were kept to a minimum. They have finally learned that the more cooperative they are the faster the photo shoot.

I wasn't thrilled with the location, on top of one of our deck boxes, but it did work out. Jacob picked it by strolling out the door and hopping on top and pretty much saying this would be the spot. The rest of them piled on and that was it. Case closed.

Next year it'll be of my choosing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Say What

Say what by Teckelcar
Say what, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This is one of John's classic expressions, I have never had a dog that could look so beleaguered.

He certainly has no good reason to look so put upon. Yes there is a boy flailing about on the floor behind him, but that is what passes for normal around here. I think the worst thing that has happened to John, at least in his opinion, was the time I bodily dragged him away from a dying raccoon.

Silly dog.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Ritterschlag

A variation on a damsel in distress with a bit of education thrown into the mix.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Morning Sun and Frost

sun and frost by Teckelcar
sun and frost, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It looks like my new camera will be arriving Tuesday. In the meantime I've taken apart the old one and had no luck getting to the heart of the matter.

He's dead Jim.

At least I was able to assemble it and have it functioning at the same level, ie the LCD screen lights up and promptly announces "zoom error" and doesn't focus one whit. I did have one screw leftover, but my engineering son observed that I had improved the camera and made it more efficient since it now uses less materials. Either way I felt good about at least giving a last ditch effort before chucking the whole mess.

frosty berries by Teckelcar
frosty berries, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
On the photography front I have been learning the limitation's of my cell phone's camera. It take decent photos for what it is. The focus isn't quite up to snuff, I had to establish the minimum distance when taking this particular set of pictures. The details of the frost on the berries was very hard to capture. I had to keep pulling back to get the crystals in focus and even then it was a rather soft focus.

I like the camera feature, but I'll be much happier then my camera arrives.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Project MCP: First Signs of Christmas

Frosty bow by Teckelcar
Frosty bow, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The final Project MCP challenge for November was the first signs of Christmas.

Now the stores around here have had their Christmas stock out for well over a month. So technically the first sign was the inflatable lawn Santa I saw waaay back on September 28th in Walmart. The only reason I can peg the date so precisely is because I took a picture with my cellphone and posted it on Facebook. For the purposes of the challenge I have decided to ignore the early birds, instead I'll focus on my neighborhood.

The first true signs of Christmas has been the appearance of bows on the mailboxes along my morning dog walk. In my neighborhood, people wait for Thanksgiving before setting out their decorations. Yesterday It was cold and bright, the frost hadn't melted by the time I got out with the dogs. I was able to take this picture with my cellphone. I'm still working on the ideal distance for my phone's camera, but I think this shot came out fairly well. I like how the frost is more of an accent and makes the bow a bit more interesting.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fancifying

For the past two weeks I have been fitting band students for their winter concert uniforms, tuxedos for the boys and full length dresses for the girls. Or as Jacob put it, getting everybody all fancified.

It is a far from easy task as the outfits had only been separated by gender, the sizes were all higgledy-piggledy. Plus they were all tagged with the students' names from last year, returning students would get the same outfit, swapping out the pieces they had outgrown. From what was left over I had to sort out what was available and do my best to get them in the right size. Two boys had to wait a week until the right size jackets came to light and another... well he was the last one I did and we settled on the lesser of two evils. A good fit in the shoulder and arms trumped one that he could close that made him look like he was playing dress-up.

The girls were much easier, no measuring for shirts and only one article to try on. Though the sizing was a bit peculiar. I had one girl that had lifted weights over the summer and needed to go up a size to accommodate her more muscular build. I found the next size up and it was an even tighter fit, two sizes up and it was perfect.

By the end I got to be pretty good at just eyeballing what size would work. Nothing made me happier than pulling something off the rack and having it fit on the first try. All the kids were a delight to work with and all of them thanked me for helping out their teacher. It was a real pleasure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Artist of the Week: Sous Chef

Rebecca by Teckelcar
Rebecca, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Rebecca is this week's artist for her fabulous contribution to Thanksgiving.

I think I have mentioned before that Rebecca has become my sous chef. She chopps vegetables, fetches ingredidents, measures, mixes, and is a general help in the kitchen. She is always ready to help, apron on with willing hands. Rebecca does far more in the kitchen with me than I ever did with my mother.

I taught myself how to bake while in high school because I wanted cakes and cookies. Actual meals didn't happen until I was in college studying abroad in England, the utterly appalling dining hall food motivated me to learn how to cook. Now when I go home I cook with my mother, decades later than my daughter.

cranberry relish by Teckelcar
cranberry relish, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Anyhoo this is about Rebecca and what she made for Thanksgiving.

Last year I found a ridiculously easy and very tasty recipe for a cranberry relish over on Manolo For the Big Girl. Rebecca wanted to help so I printed it out and gave the task to her. It was a hit and now it is Rebecca's contribution to the feast. All I have to do is pull the sheet out along with the food processor and make sure we have all the ingredients. I really enjoy having my own "little chef."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hobbled

I broke my camera Friday.

I had put it down on what I thought was a safe place whilst corralling dogs and children for the annual photo. As I but over to boost up John I brushed against the camera and snagged it by the strap. It teetered and then fell onto the deck.

It wasn't a particularly far fall, but... the lens was out.

Which is a very bad thing for a digital camera. They are notorious for the lens barrel jamming if knocked about in the extended position. If you are lucky you can jiggle it back into alignment and it should work. My camera's lens barrel, however, was well and truly stuck and thus rendered inoperable.

Therefore I need a new camera.

Luckily it was black Friday and I was able to find a sweet deal on a decent little Cannon point and shoot that fulfilled my odd requirements, namely a viewfinder in addition to the LCD screen and powered by AA batteries. It'll take a while to get here, but that is my penance for breaking the camera. Until I get it I will be limited to my smart phone. So for now my photography is hobbled.

Monday, November 26, 2012

SPIN

This is a short film that tries to find that perfect moment and all without a single word of dialogue. A clever movie that is fun to watch right to the end.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mmm, Turkey Pot Pie

pie by Teckelcar
pie, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers. I used to be that I was stuck with a boatload of meat and after a couple of days we would all be sick of it.

Then I discovered the joys of the homemade pot pie.

With my scratch crust I have a meal the whole family likes. I had to wait until today to make it, because not everybody has been home for dinner the past couple of days. So there was much happiness among the kids when they saw me making pie crust and chopping up leftover turkey meat.

All that is left of our dear departed turkey are the bones, I think I'll be making soup in the near future.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ginger

ginger by Teckelcar
ginger, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Part of the traditional big Thanksgiving  run up for those cooking  is the buying of the ingredients. I try to minimize last minute store runs, but alas there always seems to be that one ingredient. This year it was the acorn squash, I completely forgot about it until the Wednesday before.

Then there is the one thing you can't find. One year it was sage flavored sausage, I had it improvise with plain and load up the stuffing with sage. Another year there was the great pumpkin shortage, fortunately I had a can hidden in my pantry and I was able to make my pumpkin pie. This year it was crystallized ginger, an important ingredient for our cranberry relish.

I went to three different grocery stores, two didn't even carry it and the third was sold out. I could have gone farther afield, but I decided my time was better spent making my own dang ginger. I settled on Alton Brown's recipe and used a pound of fresh ginger. It was pretty straight forward, however it took me twice as long to cook down the ginger syrup mixture than the 20 minutes sited in the recipe. I used my food processor to slice the ginger using my ultra fine blade so as to get consistently thin slices. The end result was well worth the effort, I have a boatload of very flavorful candied ginger that is full of zing. I love the stuff and I can eat it like candy. It's a very nice that I can now make my own.

Oh and I picked up the neatest trick for peeling ginger, use a spoon!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

feast by Teckelcar
feast, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
It was a splendid Thanksgiving this year. I got all formal with the table and pulled out the fancy tablecloth and napkins to go with our wedding china and the family silver, but kept it real with an informal dress code.

The menu was traditional with a hard core execution, it was all scratch with the exception of the bread crumbs from the stuffing. Heck I even made the candied ginger for the cranberry relish. Mind you the ginger was a more of desperation thing when I couldn't find any in three different supermarkets, Ground and fresh ginger were not a problem, but crystallized/candied was either sold out or nonexistent.

flat biscuits by Teckelcar
flat biscuits, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
As for the food, well it was all good, even the flat buttermilk biscuits. I *think* the scalded buttermilk was still too hot when I added the yeast and thusly killed the little buggers. Oops. The dough never really rose, but I gamely plowed on and baked them anyway. Turned out it was a good call, because the flat biscuits of doom actually tasted pretty good. I was afraid they would be like hard tack, but instead they were chewy and delicious. The kids even want them for breakfast tomorrow.

So I hope y'all had a tasty and fun Thanksgiving, I know we did flat biscuits and all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Artist of the Week: Map

Max by Teckelcar
Max, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Max. He is pictured here holding one of his many (and I do mean many) Lego creations. However, as I'm sure you have guessed, I'm not featuring his Lego build. Instead it is a map.

A map that was greatly admired by his older brothers.

Originally Max was going to draw all over his map. He likes to make battle scenes and then do a sort of live action narration as he draws the battles. Kind of like animation that is all done on the same page. From what I gathered Max showed the map to his brothers right before he was to draw the battle.

Max's map by Teckelcar
Max's map, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
And I'm glad he did.

Jacob and Nate told Max not to do another thing to his map, it was too cool to draw over. They convinced Max to bring the map to me so that I could scan it and print out a copy, which was a very nice thing for them to do.

And so here is Max's map, deemed to be cool by a 14 year old and a 16 year old.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baking With Julia- Best-Ever Brownies

Hooray! I'm actually baking/posting on the official day!

Sort of, kind of. The picture will have to wait until tomorrow because I can't take a decent picture of a brownie indoors when it's dark out.

But! We have brownies! And that is always a good thing.

As always this is being done under the auspices of Baking with Julia via Tuesdays with Dorie and the host this time around is A Beautiful Mess.

These are very good brownies, nice and gooey with a fudge like texture, just what I like in a brownie. But best-ever, I don't know. They are wee a bit fussier to make than my regular brownies that have garnered me a first place ribbon at the county fair. A recipe,  mind you, I got off of the Baker's chocolate box. I'm not sure if I'll make these again, I'll have to see what my in house panel of judges thinks about them.

Oh and I almost forgot to add, I extended the baking time a good 10 minutes. I use an eight inch brownie pan vs the nine inch called for in the recipe, which gives me thicker brownies that need a bit more time to cook.
brownies by Teckelcar
brownies, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.

And here is the promised picture. The brownies along the edge of the pan were a bit more cake like, but move a bit more to the center and it's fudgey goodness.

Nobody has remarked about the brownies being any different, apart from one snarky boy who hasn't had one, but was reading whilst I type (heathen). I thing they are a touch saltier than the norm, but quite good. I'll stick with my tried and true, however it is nice to try alternatives.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Big Catch Animation

A silly little movie that is worth watching. The seagulls are what did it for me.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Project MCP: Veteran's Day

VA War Memorial by Teckelcar
VA War Memorial, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Last week's photo challenge was Veteran's Day, with an idea of documenting those who served and I truly planned on doing that last Sunday and/or Monday. But life intervened and I didn't get out as I intended. I did however find a wonderful tribute for my movie Mondays, so I wasn't a complete slacker.

This weekend I had at least one trip up in the Richmond area and I thought a trip to the Virginia War Memorial was in order. It wouldn't be as nice as it would have been on last Sunday, but I had the time blocked out and it was a half way decent day. I like cloudy days and there was a good breeze blowing to get the flags moving.

I tromped around taking pictures for a good 20 minutes. A bit more sunlight would have been nice, however the somber sky was the right note. The wind, on the other hand, was perfect. The memorial overlooks the James river and a good stiff breeze had the flags snapping. It was not a problem to get a shot with all eight flags in the picture unfurled. For those wondering, the flags are Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Merchant Marines, Virginia War Memorial, and the POW MIA in the middle of the arc created by the other seven flags (the US flag and the Commonwealth of Virginia's are located far off the frame to the left). To the left of the flags is the shine engraved with the names of fallen Virginians that also houses the statue Memory and the Torch of Liberty.

It is a lovely sight and I'm seriously contemplating coming back on Pearl Harbor Remembrance day, aka my birthday.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fighter Jet, Err Car

fighter car by Teckelcar
fighter car, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Cars for the most part are boring. Sometimes you get to see an exotic such as a Lotus, or antique like an old Chevy. License plates are a bit more interesting, but again nothing terribly dramatic. But every now and then you see a car that screams photograph me, and last Sunday I saw such a car.

What initially drew my eye was the ridiculous amount of stickers covering the back end. It was an unbelievable collage slapped willy-nilly and completely covering every surface, rear window included. As I walked around the car it got even better.

The owner had painted a shark mouth on both sides of the front end.

Wow.

I thought it was great and I had to take a picture. This ranks right up there with the yellow volksie I found last year. I wonder what oddity in the parking lot I'll find next.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birthday Cookies

cookies by Teckelcar
cookies, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Meryl requested that this year instead of a cake she would like cookies for her birthday, specifically sugar cookies made the way she remembers.

They had to be large, about 4 inches across, a 1/4 inch thick, and smothered in nonpareils.

Done, done, and done.

I warned her that the cookies would have scalloped edges. I wasn't going to buy yet another cookie cutter when I could use one of my four inch tartelette pans. Meryl was fine with variation and in fact decided it looked very nice on the finished product.

I dropped off the cookies today on her birthday and they were a huge success. They were soft and just the right size. She told me I could have loaded on more nonpareils, but that changed after Meryl ate a cookie. I had completely nailed the cookie she was hankering.

Happy birthday Meryl, I'm glad I could bake you the treat you wanted.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Artist of the Week: Charming

John by Teckelcar
John, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is John and surprisingly it is not for digging holes or eating dirt, his two most favorite activities.

This past weekend we had Rebecca's birthday festivities. She had a rather grown-up affair (at least for 10 and 11 year old girls) of a movie followed by a treat. Four of her good friends came out and I did the driving since Larry was off chaperoning and working at a marching band event.

I arranged for the girls to come to our house first since I wasn't sure which showing of "Wreck it Ralph" or for that matter which theater we would be attending. As the girls arrived in fairly rapid succession, they were delighted by our dogs. Normally I view Dell as the ambassador for the breed since he loves everyone, but he only lasted about 5 minutes. Apparently 5th grade girls overwhelm the poor dog, he ended up retreating to a few rooms away. John, meanwhile lapped it all up. He was happy to be the center of attention and didn't even mind being picked up.Heck he even tried to worm his way onto the van when we left for the movies.

When we got back he was very happy to be fussed over by the girls. At least two of them announced that they loved our dogs and wanted to get ones just like them. I think John as a very nice dog, but I never thought he could be a poster pup for dachshunds. In fact he is a real pain in the keister when around unfamiliar dogs, barking and leaping about. I guess he's just a people oriented kind of dog that loves the attentions of girls.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baking With Julia- Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

buttermilk crumb muffins by Teckelcar
buttermilk crumb muffins, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Well a week late, but hey it is Tuesday and I baked something!

For the full recipe you can head on over to this week's host, easier than pie. If you want the whole Baking with Julie story you need to go over to Tuesdays With Dorie. Okay now that I have gotten that out of the way let's get down to brass tacks.

I really like the simplicity of this recipe, no mixers are used, just your fingers, a fork, and a spoon. They knocked together very quickly and I was eating them an hour after I started, a big plus in a household with two teenage boys. They are a bit sweet for my tastes (mind I am still happily eating them), but the overall flavor is wonderful. They are like a very simple coffee cake with a nice soft texture. My only problem was that if I hadn't fully greased a well in my muffin tin the muffin would stick, I used two forks to run around the edges and pull them out. I think this recipe is worth revisiting.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Zoom

zoom by Teckelcar
zoom, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Happy birthday to my kid in perpetual motion.

You are smart, funny, kind, a huge worry-wart, and the most active child of a very active brood. You really can not sit still, which makes this picture Rebecca took of you so very, very appropriate.

14 years ago you barreled into our lives, happy birthday Nate.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Project MCP: Low Light

low light by Teckelcar
low light, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
With the shorter days and the sun hanging lower on the horizon, this week's Project MCP challenge was low light.

I took this picture of John this morning. I saw him napping in a patch of sun and realized this was my picture. I was able to fetch my camera without to much disturbance and fire off a few shots from a discrete distance.

When I took this particular photo I knew this was the one. The focus is a bit off, but the composition more than makes up for the slight blur around John's head. Other than a bit of sharping, this is what I saw in the viewfinder. No cropping or fooling around with the contrast. I'm rather pleased how the picture came out.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Artist of the Week: Superior

At Attention by Teckelcar
At Attention, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
This week's artist is Jake, or Jacob as he prefers to be called now, and his high school marching band. After a few years of a dry spell they earned the much desired "superior" rating at the state level assessment, which is a very big deal.

The band has been working very hard and this is the best show I have seen. During their first assessment this year they just missed the superior rating by half a point. Inspired, the band redoubled their efforts and were able to pull it off at their last competition of the year.

It's been a good year for the marching band and if they are able to garner another superior rating with orchestra this winter they will be a State of Virginia Honor Band. So keep of the good work, you have done something to brag about.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Go Vote

I voted by Teckelcar
I voted, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Well I've done my civic duty.There was an actual line thus year and I was voter 1,100 and something, a new record for me. Normally the voter total is much lower when I meander out mid morning.

So go and vote. I don't care who you vote for, just do it.

Monday, November 05, 2012

The God by Konstantin Bronzit

Wonderful animation of an all too familiar situation. I found this over on Films Short and in the brief film write up we learn it was created in 2004 by a Russian animator who later on created an Oscar nominated film in 2009.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Whose Bed?

Whose Bed by Teckelcar
Whose Bed, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
Nate has been wanting the dogs to sleep with him for quite some time, a few months ago we relented.

I'm still not overly thrilled, at some point something will get chewed, but there has been an unexpected bonus. Max is more inclined to stay in bed when the dogs are in the room with him (he and Nate share a room).

As you can see the dogs are usually with Nate. I got this picture in the morning when Nate was sleeping in. The dogs had been fed and let out and had returned to their favored sleeping spot. Poor Nate has barely any room on the bed. That, however, is the price you pay when the dogs are on your bed.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Cold

Cold by Teckelcar
Cold, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
The temperature has taken quite a dip lately and it has been downright cold the past few mornings. It is supposed to be warming up, but I don't know. Either way the warm weather is clearly over.

And I like that.