A little blog about the life of a somewhat lost dreamer....looking for my grace in this crazy world.

28 August 2015

Let's chat about cookies...

Personally, I love a good warm gooey one... or maybe a nice crisp one.  Especially with coffee or tea... but the cookies I'm chatting about now are the ones that the internet uses to track where we go, what we see, and what they feed us.

When I logged into the blog earlier this week to share a picture of my owls I found a notice waiting for me...

"European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you. Learn more about this notice and your responsibilities." (Link was disabled by me, so you can't go learn more from here.)

When I viewed a few other blogs I see this notice floating at the top:  This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Click on the "Got It" button to the right to acknowledge this "cookie notice."

I don't see the notice when I look at my blog, so I thought I'd make note here.  Google does employ cookies. I know this because I can see how many people have been to my blog, what country they are from, what browser they were using, and what posts they looked at when they were here. What else they may employ or do with the information they receive, I have no idea.

I don't have any third part affiliations (at least that I know of), and I track none of you with or through any third party affiliation.  I do, from time to time, look at the analyticals that Google provides to see what y'all are looking at and maybe where you're from country wise.  So, if you prefer that Google NOT obtain whatever information they get from you visiting my blog, you must not visit, because I am just not technologically savvy enough to know how to turn the darn things off. 

That said, I do hope you'll keep dropping by.

24 August 2015

A parliament of owls...

Finally got back into the studio this weekend, this is what came of it...

These are actually five separate paintings.  Two of them are already abandoned, but I can tell there are more to come.

19 July 2015

The mad scientist experiments continue...

I haven't been creating artistically a great deal lately... although, I did just get back from vacation where I did abandon 17 pieces, so that counts for something...right?






While I haven't been creating artistically, I have been creating.  I've canned 18 jars of jam... cherry, blackberry and strawberry (although, I'm suspicious the strawberry may end up being more an ice cream topping rather than real jam).





But, here's what I'm most excited about... another "mad scientist" sort of experiment. I'm a huge fan of real food, the sort that is not processed, or processed as little as possible.  And recently I've been playing with fermented foods, which some claim have whole host of health benefits. (If you're interested in finding out about that just google "health benefits of fermented foods.) I've got the naturally fermented ginger ale down pat now, and make about a gallon a week.  I'm playing with pickling some veggies, but that's still in the early stages, so nothing to report there yet.  But, what I've REALLY wanted to do was brew some kombucha tea.  Oh my goodness, how I love kombucha tea.  But at $3.59 for 12 ounces, it's tough on my budget. The only problem is, to brew kombucha you have to have a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), otherwise known as a mother.  (You can google that too, but I should warn you, it's not pretty.)

Those are tough to come by.  At least around here where, when I mention it, I'm looked at as though I may be an alien, which, by the way sort of describes the look of a SCOBY pretty accurately. You can order them online, but I'm a bit suspicious ordering something like this from someone I know absolutely nothing about.  There are companies that are very reputable, but their SCOBYs can be pretty expensive.  So, what's a girl to do?

Grow one, of course.

After lots and lots and lots of researching online it seems one can grow a kombucha mother from a bottle of raw, unprocessed kombucha tea.  At least, maybe you can.  A by product of brewing kombucha (and any fermented process) is a wee bit of alcohol.  Of course, that causes all sorts of folks to get up in arms, so the process of mass manufacturing kombucha (the sort you can purchase in the grocery) was changed in 2010 and now it might not work.  Worth a try though, right? 

My local Meijer store carries a few bottles of kombucha, but they are flavored.  My local Trader Joe's doesn't carry it at all (what's that all about???).  So, off I go to Whole Foods where I know they have plain, unflavored kombucha.

Since I know me so well, I knew I'd mess with it each and every day, and I needed to not do that.  So I decided to give it a try right before I left for vacation, that way it could grow (if it did grow) in peace while I was gone. I'd found all sorts of "recipes" about how to grow the SCOBY, so I didn't just give it a single try, I experimented with three different methods. 

After a week, here's what I've got... (see, told ya it's weird and alien like, isn't it?)


For this method I used a couple of jars of plain, raw kombucha and good old fashioned sweet tea.  I poured off about half of each bottle of the kombucha leaving only the "dregs" you find in the bottom of the jar. I mean, I had to have something to drink, right?  I brewed some black tea, added sugar (1 cup tea, 1/4 c sugar), then tossed the tea that was left in both bottles, along with all those floating strands since those are important, in once the tea was cooled.  I covered it with a coffee filter and screwed on the jar band. Note that no metal touches the tea in any way...metal is the enemy.

A week later, I have a SCOBY... Yay!


This batch used the same process... brewed tea, cooled, and then half a bottle of kombucha (the part with the dregs), covered with a coffee filter.  Only this time I had ginger flavored raw kombucha, and I used only half of one bottle.  The SCOBY grew here too, a little more lumpy granted, but it's growing!


And, finally, the third experiment...  which has netted me the prettiest, if you can call these things pretty, SCOBY... Half a bottle of plain, raw kombucha tossed into a jar and covered with the coffee filter.  And, a week later... a SCOBY. 

All three look happy, healthy and growing beautifully.  In another week the mad scientist experiments continue, that's when I'm going to brew my first "real" batch of tea... keep your fingers crossed for me.

Anyone else out there kombucha fans?  Anyone brew your own and have tips for me?  I'd definitely love to hear them!

In the mean time, I'm off to make some strawberry and basil jam... and check on those veggies I've got pickling...

23 June 2015

And, the experiments continue...

So, being the mad genius (or maybe I'm just mad) that I am, and considering the success I have had with the drinking vinegars, I decided to try a few more experiments...

Along side a jar of peaches (that are sitting in vinegar for yet another drinking vinegar) is a happily fermenting jar of home made ginger beer.  I started a ginger bug about a week or so ago and it's gone beautifully, so this weekend I made the base and added the bug... and last evening I tried it to see how it's going.  It is lovely...nice bite of ginger with gorgeous little bubbles of carbonation created naturally by lacto fermentation.  It's going to be left alone for another day or so to get the carbonation up there, then I'll tuck it into the fridge and enjoy.  I still am amazed I got this to work.

But what I am REALLY amazed with, and still can't believe works, even if I did it myself are these meringues. Aren't they gorgeous?  You'd never guess that they're vegan, would you?  Yup...vegan.  That means no animal products... no egg whites were involved in the making of these meringues.  So, what was?


You'll never believe it.  Like I said, I made them, and still don't believe it.

I follow a blog called The Chubby Vegetarian.  GREAT blog, amazing food and recipes, and all vegetarian.  A bit ago he shared a link to their Facebook page sharing something found over on The Kitchn about these meringues.  I went, checked out the video, STILL didn't believe it, so had to try for myself this weekend.

What makes it all so unbelievable?  These meringues are made from the fluid you drain out of a can of garbanzo beans.  Ewwwww.... gross, right?  Seriously, how can that work, and wouldn't they taste disgusting???

Ever up for a challenge, I experimented...and this is how it went.


I drained off the fluid of the garbanzo beans I was going to make hummus from.  Tossed it into the bowl of my Kitchen Aid with the whisk attachment, and started to beat... thinking to myself, "How long should I let this go before I toss it down the drain?"  Within a minute I had something that looked like a foamy, white meringue.  I added sugar, just like I would in meringue, and within another couple of minutes I had the most amazing, silky, glossy, gorgeous "meringue" I've ever made. 

Oh, but we all know, this couldn't taste like a meringue, right?  I mean, it's from garbanzo bean liquid.... eww.  First I tasted just the tiniest little bit I could on my finger tip, then I tasted more from a spoon.  Guess what it tastes like?  Meringue.  Silky, gorgeous, amazing, perfectly textured, meringue.

It pipes just like meringue.


And if I hadn't baked it for too high a temp, they would have come out a perfect, crisp, beautiful, white meringue cookie.  Instead they were a bit over browned, beautiful, crisp meringue...  only, with no egg whites, is it really a meringue?

Doesn't matter, they were amazing!  Will I be doing this again?  Heck yeah!  Next time I'm going to treat them like a French meringue and see if it will hold up.  I'll let you know what I find out.

09 June 2015

So... about the shrubs...

I'm not talking about the green things outside... I'm talking about shrubs that you drink, also known as "drinking vinegars".  Ever heard of them?

 
They are WONDERFUL!!! I gave up all versions of soda about a year ago.  No particular reason, I just seem to have lost a "taste" for them.  But these...wow! Tart and a little sweet too, filled with the brightness of fruit, and, best part... I am in control of what's in them.  And there's nothing in here that I can't pronounce.  I'm on about the fourth batch of them now. What's not to love?

So, just in case you have ever wanted to be a mad scientist, or just try something totally new (actually, these are really old, they've been around forever, and were particularly popular in colonial times), let me share how...

It's equal parts of very ripe fruit (you can add herbs as well if you'd like), sugar and RAW vinegar.  There are many ways to make these, but the one I am currently using goes like this...  Chop and/or mash up the fruit a bit in a glass bowl.  Add an equal amount of sugar.  Allow that to sit 5 or 6 hours to draw out the juice of the fruit, and then drain the juice and sugar off.  Make sure to squish the fruit to get as much of the juice as you can.  Then toss that mixture into a glass jar with an equal measure of RAW (the kind with the mother in it) vinegar. 

Then you wait.  I'm not a chemist, but apparently there is some chemistry going on in that jar.  The bacteria in the vinegar (that's why you user raw vinegar) starts to eat the sugar.  Over the course of a week or so what develops is this amazing syrup... you smell the vinegar, but you smell the fruit even more.  Then it's time to drink it...

Mix anywhere from a tablespoon to an ounce of it in a glass with sparkling water.  Add ice and you have the perfect summer drink.  It's also great in just plain water with ice... and, while I haven't tried it myself yet, I hear they are amazing in cocktails too.

So far I've made peach, peach with ginger and blackberry.  Next on the agenda is strawberry, blueberry with lemon balm, and I'm thinking about peach with basil (one of my favorite combinations).

I've also got a ginger bug in the works... it's like a mad scientist's lab around here these days.  I'll let you know how they all work out, and I'd love to hear from you if you've made any!



08 June 2015

Life is too short...

Like most days I was up at “the butt crack of dawn” (as one of my co-workers always says) through the weekend.  After cleaning the house, cleaning out the fridge and dead heading all of the flowers in pots outside the back door I decided I needed to run out and get a bigger pot for the ficus tree.  It was still early and most of the stores wouldn’t be open for a bit yet, so I drove through the area on the way to Lowe’s.  In one of the store windows was an adorable summer dress, so I made a mental note to come back to check it out after I got the flower pot. 

A little later, great big red pot and more potting soil, maybe even a couple more plants that I didn't need, all tucked away in the trunk, I went back to the store.  The dress was still adorable, and I just have this weakness for summer dresses… I’m in skirts and dresses from the first warm day until the last one through the year… so I found a mirror and held it up to me to decide if I wanted to go try it on. 

I was so disappointed when the hem hit about three inches above my knee.  I’m “older” now you know, so I should be more “appropriate” according to popular opinion.  As I started over to hang the dress back up two beautiful women, who were obviously older than I, were looking in the same area.  One of them was just in love with a bright pink and orange number.  I over heard her say to her friend, “Oh, I just love this… I wish I could wear it.”

To which her friend replied, “They have it in your size, why can’t you wear it?”

“It’s for a young girl, these colors are way too bright for me,” was the first lady’s reply.

Again, from her friend, “Are you serious?  Are you going to let someone tell you what you can and cannot wear just because you aren’t 20 or a size two anymore?  You’ve earned the right to wear any damn thing you want to wear."  She went on to say, " I’m sure as heck not going to let anyone or anything tell me that I’m too old to wear or to do anything I want. It’s no body’s business, and if they want to judge me, let ‘em.  Just lets me know they're the kind of people I wouldn’t want to be around them anyway.”

She’s my hero, and she’ll probably never know it.  I’m glad she was in that place at that moment to remind me that this is my life. People are going to judge me regardless of what I do, so I might as well cause as many scandals as I can along the way… even if those scandals are just in the imagination of those who are judging.  At least it gives them something to talk about.

I don’t know if her friend got the hot pink and orange number, but I definitely got that adorable little dress I liked… higher than usual hemline and all.  And I did have to smile a little when the cashier looked at me, then the dress, then at me again... for a moment I think I saw a twinge of judgment happening there. Every time I look at this dress I’ll be reminded that this is MY life, and I will do whatever I damned well want to, because life really is too short... even if, or maybe especially because, I’m “not 20 or a size two anymore".

03 June 2015

So, Cloth Paper Scissors got in touch today...

I received an email earlier this morning from Cloth Paper Scissors about their new Zen Doodle Coloring Book. They've asked me to share with you that they are using one of my little doodles for a contest they're having. All you have to do is download the page, color it, and upload it to their online gallery. They are giving a winner art supplies! You can find out all the details at the link below, but hurry, they are picking a winner June 10th!

So, for all of you who keep telling me that I should color my doodles... get over there and color one, who knows, you may win some great art supplies!!!


You can find all the information HERE.

(There's also a 40% off coupon good June 3 through 7)

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