Thursday, July 21, 2016

2016 CSA Week 6: Slawing It Up

This week we get:
Fennel (4 bulbs)
Fresh onions
Green beans
Cherry tomatoes
Heirloom tomato
Cucumbers (3)

I am almost ready to cry uncle at this point in the CSA game.  I'm never home on the weekends and I just don't have time to deal with it, but here goes.

I'll make a slaw to eat for lunch with the cabbage, some of the fennel, some of the radish, and some of the dill.

I'll eat the rest of the radishes and the tomatoes raw.

Dr. BB eats the green beans pretty well, so he can have those for lunches and days he is home for dinner and I'm not. I can eat the rest raw.

I think I'm going to try to pickle the cukes with the dill, but I really need to figure out how to do that, so if you have an easy pickling recipe, let me know.

Who the fuck knows what will happen with the onions. I'll probably give them away to anyone who walks into my house.

I still have zucchini from last week that I'm going to turn into zucchini bread as soon as I finish this entry.


Updated to add:
This only used one of those giant zucchinis from last week. I'm doomed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Vexillology 101 - 99% Invisible on TED

I don't think I've ever made it a secret that I adore the Chicago city flag. But I think I have failed to explain exactly why I'm so crazy about it.  It has to do with Roman Mars. It strikes me as odd that the only mention of the podcast 99% Invisible on this blog is from almost three years ago, but what can I say? I can't tell you my every thought. ANYWAY. Roman Mars is obsessed with flag design and talks about it pretty regularly on his show. Start here and here. And one thing Roman Mars and I agree on is that Chicago's city flag is awesome. 

I came home from work today and I was sort of down. Traffic was bad, I was tired, and the cat wasn't going to feed herself, you know? So I watched the TED Talk that Roman Mars gave about flag design. And it made me happy.

So go forth and spend 18.5 minutes of your time watching Roman Mars, listening to his sexy voice, and thinking about how very much he looks like my husband.  It's worth it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Vacation Day 6: Where My Mom Gets to Go on ANOTHER HIKE

We woke up, ate breakfast, and sat around and stared at each for awhile.  I was planning on meeting some friends, but I didn't have to be anywhere until 6 in the evening, so we brainstormed ideas for the day.

Activity 1: We went to see Finding Dory.  I was crying by about thirty seconds into the thing, was slightly bored through the middle, and was laughing hysterically at the credits. I think it's worth seeing, but I'm not entirely sure it's one of Pixar's best. I did like how the film dealt with differences in ability. I feel like some critics thought it was a bit ham-handed, but I thought it was on the nose for a children's film. It showed how patient and careful parents are with children with disabilities, it showed Marlin freaking out and losing patience with a disability he was well aware of and then feeling horrible for that (as well as Dory being very understanding of his apology), and it showed other people accepting disability as just part of life.  I thought it was much more nuanced than many critics gave it credit for and I think children should see it.

Activity 2: We wanted to go to the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Unfortunately, the parking lot was full and there were ill-behaved children running around, and I knew that I would lose my shit if I had to deal with that. My mom is much more chill than I am, but she agreed that it probably wouldn't be much fun. So we left. ABORT.

Activity 3: We ended up at Rogue River Park. We walked around the main trail in the park and only ran into half a dozen people in the two hours we were there. It was pretty great and definitely a win in terms of quiet and solitude.


Then we went back to my mom's house, I packed up, and went over to visit some of my friends from high school.  We played Cards Against Humanity (which, oddly, I'm REALLY horrible at) until the wee hours of the morning, but listening to my friends laugh made me laugh SO MUCH. It was great to be around people who have known you for so long that a sidelong glance holds the key to an entire conversation.
Then I slept on their couch, woke up and went for a walk, and then drove home.  No more vacation posts should be expected!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Vacation Day 5: In Which My Mom Never Wants to Walk Another Step

So today began with a breakfast at our hotel. I put on a dress without really thinking (because it is JULY), but when I got outside I realized it was cold.  I quickly changed into jeans and we headed down the road to see if the Shipwreck Tour was on. It was!  It was also never going to get out of the 60s today, it was overcast and occasionally spitting rain, and I realized that I was going to hear an "I told you so" about the conversation I had with Dr. BB about leaving my sweatshirt at home (IT IS JULY!!!).  Mom and I marched into the gift shop and purchased windbreakers for $19.99 (hers in pink, mine in purple).

We hopped on the Lady Michigan with about twenty other people, two deckhands, the captain, and the volunteer docent.  

The Lady Michigan has two wells at the bottom of the boat in which there are glass panels you can huddle around to see the wrecks in the water.
People huddling.
There are lots of wrecks in Thunder Bay, not least of which is because people used to be encouraged to just sink their old ships in the marina.  We saw two of these types of "purposeful" wrecks in the Shamrock and the Harvey Bissell.  We then went to an unknown ship that was actually discovered on one of these very shipwreck cruises a few years ago. Then we went to see the William P. Rend and it was amazing. I actually hadn't planned on taking any pictures from the wells because I thought they wouldn't turn out (and the NOAA photos on those links are better than anything I could do!), but here you go.
It's the spine of the ship!
After this, I was excited to see what else I could see and you know what happened? We spent more than 25% of our 2-hour tour ($30 a person!!!) LOOKING AT A FUCKING CEMENT PLANT.  Apparently the thing used to be a polluting nightmare, but has since cleaned up its act and the captain used to work there and he talked incessantly about it and I guess I kind of care, but I was there to see shipwrecks, not discuss industry. I was pissed at the last 40 minutes of our tour.
Fucking cement plant.
If we'd been less impatient yesterday, we might have known we'd see Little Red, the Alpena Light, from the water today.
It's for sale if you want it. The Coast Guard doesn't.
I actually have a lot of quibbles with this tour. The volunteer docent often didn't turn on her mike, so who the hell knew what she was saying? Even if she did turn on her mike, the amplification was pretty much nil, so if you weren't within hearing distance of her, you couldn't hear it. Also, she just wasn't very knowledgeable. Other than one cute story about a dog surviving a shipwreck, all she provided was the name of the ship, the year it went down, and how deep it was.  And I don't even want to talk anymore about the cement plant tour.

So, the museum from yesterday gets a five out of five stars. The tour itself gets three out of five. It was kind of expensive and I had such high hopes after reading the Trip Advisor reviews and having such a great time at the museum that it was a bit of a let down for me.

We left Alpena and headed south down Lake Huron to the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse where we wandered around, being sure to stay on the path because of threatening signs about the prevalence of poison ivy. We paid $3 a piece to climb to the top of the tower.  The museum wasn't very interesting, but that didn't stop us from spending the better part of an hour there.
We then kept going on US-23 South towards the Tawas Point State Park (where we had to pay $9 for ANOTHER daily "recreation passport) to see the Tawas Point Lighthouse. For $5 each, we got an interesting tour of the lighthouse in which four different volunteers spoke about different historical time periods in the lighthouse's history.  We also got to climb the tower of Tawas Point, so it was a win-win for climbing lighthouses today.
The state park was pretty amazing in its own right. While we waited for the lighthouse tour to begin, we wandered around some of the trails and beaches. Tawas Point itself is constantly changing so many of the beaches are currently underwater while others are getting larger. Mom and I were particularly amused by the "pet-friendly beach" that was entirely underwater (see the bench in the collage below).
Then we walked the two-mile loop of the Sandy Hook Nature Trail. My mom is not always the most active of people and my guess is that she's going to be glad to see the last of me tomorrow when I leave and she won't have to walk another nature trail until I see her again.  This particular trail was lovely and mom and I had it all to ourselves and I took a million photos, but if you've made it this far in the post you've already seen a million photos, so I will leave you with this adorableness.
Then we drove to my mom's house where I called Dr. BB and started typing this.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Vacation Day 4: There's Good Food in Alpena, MI

Today, we got up, breakfasted at our hotel, and then drove up to Alpena, Michigan.  Once we got there we ate at this amazing diner, Take 5 Deli, and if you ever find yourself in downtown Alpena, EAT THERE. They make the sauerkraut daily. And the guy running the register gave me a Caramel Apple Cookie for free on my way out the door. So good.

We went to Alpena because we wanted to go on a shipwreck tour.  We booked our tickets ahead of time, but when we arrived, we were told that it was cancelled because of the weather. It was super windy here today, so no tour for us.  We rebooked for tomorrow morning (FINGERS CROSSED the weather cooperates) and toured the attached museum, the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

The museum was wonderful. There were interactive exhibits, a scavenger hunt (which I think was meant for kids, but mom and I had a blast doing it), a theater with three excellent films on a repeating playlist, and excellent photographs of shipwrecks.  The whole thing could have been kind of gruesome (I mean lots of sailors died on the Great Lakes), but it walked a line between over romanticizing and explaining how important these wrecks are for understanding the maritime history of the US.  The Great Lakes have super well preserved shipwrecks because of the cold freshwater and the photographs really did take my breath away.
Once we got outside the museum, we were at the Heritage Trail, which we promptly began walking on. It was a lovely walk punctuated with signs explaining the history of the area.  It was seamlessly integrated with the information from the museum and I'm actually glad we spent the time doing this and I think it will make our tour tomorrow (FINGERS CROSSED) much better since we now have all this background.

So I bought some postcards at the gift shop and we headed out to find the Alpena Breakwater Light. Let me tell you, because this seems to be hard information to come by, if you want to see this "lighthouse," you need to go to Bay View Park in Alpena and then walk the municipal breakwall. The entrance to the breakwall was closed because some dudes had just poured some concrete, but mom and I jumped the fence. MY MOM JUMPED THE FENCE WITH ME.  It's a beautiful park, but not much of a lighthouse. 
But I would walk this again even if the end result is a silly looking Sputnik thing, you know what I mean?
At this point, we were stumped for things to do in Alpena, so I dug out the scavenger hunt sheet from the Heritage Center and noticed I had written the note "wildlife sanctuary?" in the margins. I also wrote notes on words I needed to look up from the displays (oxbow - a U-shaped bend in the course of a river) and questions I still have (why were there so very many horseshoes on the doomed ship Regina?).  Anyway, we headed off to Duck Park and Island Park because that was apparently the thing to do.

I would have stayed there all day if I had the chance. There was a section of pine forest, dunes, prairie, and of course there was water all around.  I also walked the whole thing in flip flops, so it wasn't challenging at all. There's even a handicap accessible path through the majority of the park.  If you ever find yourself in Alpena, come here right after you eat at Take 5 Deli.
Last, but certainly not least, we ate at Burgies on the  sole  basis of Yelp reviews and it was so delicious I almost cried when I was done with my bleu cheeseburger. Alpena sure has good food game.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

2016 CSA Week 5: Rooting for the Roots

This week we got:
Cucumbers (2?)
Zucchini (2?)
Garlic scapes
Cherry tomatoes
Heirloom tomato (ONE! only ONE!)
Green kale
Photo courtesy of Dr. BB
Honestly, I'm on vacation and haven't given a thought to any of this. I'll eat a bunch of it raw (tomatoes, radishes, cukes, and beans).  We'll grill the zucchini, probably do an egg dish with the kale, and desperately try to give away the beets because we officially know we don't like the beets.  We still have mountains of scapes from the last couple of weeks, but we'll keep working on them.  I'll make a scape pesto with the basil if the basil is any good when I get home.

Vacation Day 3: Dogs and Ice Cream

We woke up and drove to my sister's house, where we ate lunch and played with the dogs.

Then we drove into Midland where we went visit The Tridge, which is a three-pronged wooden bridge. I have struggled with bridges ever since the I-35 bridge collapsed when I was living in Minneapolis and I feel slightly queasy whenever I have to go over one. This was no different, but it's really cool. It is surrounded by a park and there's a put in to the Pere Marquette bike trail. Overall, it was pretty cool.
The three of us then went on a daily tour of the Alden B Dow Home and Studio.  Dow, a son of the Dow Chemical Company founder, was a Frank Lloyd Wright student who became famous in his own right. Unless you are a dedicated fan of mid-century modern architecture, I am pretty sure you can save yourself $15 and skip this tour.  We weren't allowed cameras, either, so I have no photos to show you, but I can tell you that even if orange carpet was a thing, orange carpet should never have BEEN a thing.

What I was most excited about during the whole day was ice cream at Whippy Dip after dinner. I just love saying Whippy Dip.  Stop whatever you're doing right now and say it out loud. Whippy Dip. Didn't that feel good?  Ever since my sister moved here three years ago, I ask her about Whippy Dip regularly. Been to Whippy Dip recently? Any new specials at Whippy Dip? What band is playing at Whippy Dip tonight?  WHIPPY DIP. 

(Small maple walnut in a waffle cone.)
Then we went back to play with the dogs some more. What dogs?  Oh, let me introduce you.

This is Red, my mom's dog. He is the fattest Pomeranian you have ever seen. He doesn't like men, but if you have a vagina, he will give you all the cuddles you can handle. He's always happy like this and I adore him so much that I threaten to dognap him on the regular.

He's lazy, though, and when I took him for a walk around the block, he almost died of exhaustion. But when my sister brought out a miniature hula hoop and lifted it a couple of inches off the ground, he almost broke my heart with cuteness when he walked right through it. 

The other little dog in our herd is Little Bit. She's a mutt who belongs to my sister and her husband. I've never met a dog who will play fetch as much as this little girl will. It was in the eighties today and pretty humid and I threw balls that she chased down and brought back to me for almost a half an hour.  Since Red can't be bothered to do anything physical for longer than fifteen seconds, this was amazing to me.

Little Bit has only met me a few times and she's always slow to warm up to me, but by the time I took her for a walk and we played fetch, we were the best of friends. 
Then my mom and I came back to the hotel, I put in a few minutes in the gym (ICE CREAM), and answered some work emails.  Tomorrow: more Great Lakes fun.

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