MaryParadox

September 2, 2010

Sierra Buttes Spring Epic Trailwork, May 16th

Filed under: Bikes, Travel — maryparadox @ 3:23 pm

After two days of riding everyone went out the trail and did trailwork. This wasn’t much of a payment for all of the amazing treatment we’d received except for the fact that there was poison oak EVERYWHERE. I covered myself in technu, wore long sleeves and pants, and washed in the ice cold river afterward but I still ended up with poison oak covering half my body. And not the good half.

Lunch.

Peter started doing some basic pruning during his trailwork.

But then it morphed into this dramatic trail widening project which involved moving large boulders. Every man that walked by the project wanted to get involved and eventually pretty much everyone was working on the same 15 feet of trail.

Overall people only worked from about 10am to 2pm at the latest. We probably cleaned up a couple hundred yards of trail, and we probably all got poison oak, so overall it was a good day.

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August 6, 2010

Sierra Buttes Spring Epic Biking, May 15th

Filed under: Bikes, Travel — maryparadox @ 10:10 am

On the second day in Downieville we got to ride another new trail called the North Yuba Trail, which goes between Downieville and the Indian Valley Campground where we were staying.  Peter rode from the campground into Downieville and I took a shuttle into Downieville and started from there. The trail stewardship picked us all up as a group, drove us into town, and dropped us off at the Yuba Expeditions bike shop.

Sierra Buttes Bike Shop, Downieville, CA

I rode with our new friends up First Divide and then we turned around to meet Peter back at Yuba Expeditions for lunch. You can see Peter and I right in the middle of the photo above with our helmets on, recovering from our lunch. Photo source. After lunch the whole group of us went back down the North Yuba Trail back to our campsite. It was pretty far so I’m glad I didn’t ride up with Peter, though I can imagine it is fun both directions as it was a very rolly trail.

The trail was beautiful and really fun to ride. I’m looking forward to riding it again. I was tired by the end and ended up getting my front wheel jammed in between two rocks and then flipped over the handlebars. Luckily there was only a three foot drop at that point of the trail so I didn’t fall very far, but I didn’t almost knock out my front teeth (but managed to put my hands in front of my face). I broke my rear break handle out of the socket as well as bending by whole chain ring.

Sierra Buttes Spring Epic BBQ

In the evening back at the campsite there was a BBQ, fund raising raffle, and much drinking and mayhem. Peter and I are to the right of the giant stove talking with our new friend Heather and the coordinator for the Sierra Buttes trail stewardship. Photo source.

The Sierra Buttes team cooking up dinner.

July 7, 2010

Sierra Buttes Spring Epic Biking, May 14th

Filed under: Bikes, Travel — maryparadox @ 1:22 pm

Peter and I went mountain biking in Downieville a couple of weeks ago. We went as part of a large group who were invited because we are members of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (i.e. we donate money for trailwork). The weekend included two days of mountain biking and one day of trail work.

On the first day we went for a ride which started in this tiny town called Forest City (population around 10-20 people). First we did a loop that started and ended in Forest City and had us riding through some snow banks and a river crossing. One part of the trail was either just created or just redone because it had been cleared by a machine to be about four feet wide.

At the end of that ride the Sierra Buttes team had a little care van set up with fruit, chocolate, chips and drinks. I think I ate a half a watermelon all on my own.

We then went on another ride which went quite far out of town and required a *grueling* road ride to get back to forest city. The dirt part was really fun but it will be a while before that road climb allows me to remember it. Luckily Peter helped me up the hills or I think it would have taken me all year just to ride back.

After the up hill the Sierra Buttes team was waiting with another care van but this time full of chips and margaritas.

At the end of the day we went back to the campsite we had picked out and ended up sharing it with a couple of really cool girls. They were way more prepared then we were and had all sorts of snacks and were really generous. We made new friends!

January 18, 2010

Portrait of Penny

Filed under: Kitties, Photography — maryparadox @ 1:20 pm

Messing around with the macro feature on our new camera…
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October 30, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes

Filed under: Cooking, House — maryparadox @ 4:27 pm

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I went to a house warming party the other day and met a girl there who was frying green tomatoes. Her name was Kelly and she said that it was actually pretty hard to find green tomatoes since you can’t buy them in the store that way, which was sad since she really loved fried green tomatoes.

The tomato plant in our back yard, after giving us an amazing yield, has a load of new tomatoes on it which don’t appear to be getting ripe, probably because the weather has changed and the nights are colder now. So I invited Kelly so we could help each other out and another friend joined us for the experiment. My kitchen is in the middle of a remodel so we put together a table out of saw horses and hung out in the dark.

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The recipe went something like this:
Pick a bunch of green tomatoes, preferable ones which are just about to be embarrassed, but not quite.
In one bowl mix two eggs with some milk.
In another bowl put about a cup of regular white flour (we don’t recommend wheat, it tasted strange).
In a skillet pre-heat about 1/2 a cup of vegetable oil (we used canola).

Slice the tomatoes about a quarter of an inch thick. Dunk the tomatoes in the egg mixture then coat them completely in the flour.
Place the tomatoes in the skillet and let cook on each side until golden. Place cooked tomatoes on a plate with a couple of paper towels on it to soak up the excess oil. Salt to taste.

They were good! Not quite like anything else I’ve eaten, the tomatoes tasted almost fruity.

Another interesting thing I learned is that the tomatoes which had already started to change color, and therefore weren’t good for frying, but were far from red, were delicious! I’d been avoiding them, but had never actually checked to see what they tasted like. It ends up they are delicious, and taste almost salted. Since that night I’ve been eating them over toast and cream cheese. Mmmmm!

October 22, 2009

New Glorious Mini-Camera

Filed under: Hsinchu, Photography — maryparadox @ 5:31 pm

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Thanks to Peter of course!

September 20, 2009

Lamb Roast

Filed under: Cooking — maryparadox @ 9:18 am
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Lamb roast with fresh vegetables.

Now-a-days I end up working until about 8pm at night, because I work with engineers in Hsinchu, Taiwan. This means that I don’t have time to make dinner at night (I still go to bed at 10pm and get up at 6am) and I have been really missing home cooked means. So I’ve started a new plan of cooking large meals on Sunday nights and eating that for 3-4 nights. For my first big meal I wanted to cook a pot roast, mostly because I remember my dad making it so well when we were camping in Australia. So I emailed my dad in Australia for advice. Here is are the ingredients and details of what I did, and his original email below. You should try it, it was really easy and fed us for a week!

My ingredients:
1.5lbs lamb roast
3 small pumpkins from our yard
Random assortments of mini carrots, fingering potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, onions, garlic

For the gravy I didn’t pour off any fat because I didn’t see any,and I didn’t add any salt or pepper, just garlic and onion. I didn’t strain it and it was salty, savory, chunky and fantastic. I wouldn’t normally make gravy but it totally made all the different. You didn’t have to put much on your food to make it taste 100% better.

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Midget pumpkins from our yard.

“Hi Honey

Actually cooking a good roast lamb dinner is pretty taxing. It seems the more you try the worse it gets, but if you just throw it together it works great. A good gravy covers a multitude of sins. The 2 major problems for me is undercooked veggies and overcooked meat so be prepared to take the meat out early and cook the veggies hotter and longer. With the veggies cooking them hotter will make them crisper anyway.

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Vegetables from the farmer's market.

Here are some tips.
1) Pumpkin cooks quickly, potatoes slowly and carrots very slowly. So cut pumpkin into big pieces, pots smaller (About the size of an egg) and carrots cut into 1/4 length ways. This for a piece of meat about 1 – 2 pounds.
2) You do need to put some oil in there to transmit the heat from the air to the food without drying everything out. I use Canola and EVOO mixed.
3) Buy your meat from the Muslim butcher about 3 blocks from you. Make sure there is some fat on the cut, don’t be afraid to ask the butcher for advice, I had long discussions with him about food. Lamb is not marbled like beef so the fat which contains most of the flavor is on the outside. You turn right outside your house go down about 5 blocks and turn right again.
4) If you cut into the meat and it is not done enough nuke it for 1 minute, that will cook the insides for you, but make the meat bloody tough.

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The browned lamb roast before putting it in the oven.

Method

Preheat the oven to 400ºF while you prepare everything else.
The Veggies:- Get a plastic bag and put in there a glug of oil, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of white pepper. As you prepare the Veggies put them in the bag.
The Meat:- Generously cover with salt and white pepper and fry it in a hot baking pan on the top of the stove with a little oil until it is burnt brown on all sides.
The cooking:- Put the meat in, smoosh the veggies in the oil etc in the bag and pour them around the meat, add an onion cut in half and 5 – 10 cloves of garlic. (for big roasts I just cut the top off a head of garlic and put the lot in.) Sprinkle a bit more salt in as it will make everything brown up.
Heat:- If it not sizzling it’s not cooking, use your ears not the Temperature gauge of the stove.
How do you know it is done: The meat will usually cook before the veggies as we do not cook huge cuts these days, poke it with your finger. Medium rare will be rubbery, well done with be dead to the touch. Alternatively poke something into the deepest part of the meat, and watch the drop of fluid that comes out. Clear is probably overcooked, pink is just right and if it says BAA!! it is probably not ready. Check the veggies by poking them with something thin and sharp. If soft then that is good.
The end:- Take the meat out when done wrap in foil and put on a plate on top of the stove. If the veggies are done put them in there too.
The gravy.
1) Regular gravy:- Pour off the excess oil but try and keep the water soluble brown stuff that is under it. This is your flavor. A little oil left is OK and the following steps will emulsify it and hide it. Heat the baking pan on top of the stove until it is pretty hot. Put 1- 2 cups of water into the pan to deglaze and stir with a wooden spoon and scrape the brown stuff until it dissolves, it is caramelized sugar and is water soluble. Smoosh the onion and garlic into the mix. In a cup put say 2 teaspoons of flour and mix it in and pour into the pan. Keep stirring until it boils and thickens. Too thick add water. Too thin add flour and boil again. To tart it up you can add any or all of the following. Worcestershire sauce, grey poo poo mustard, German beer mustard a couple of drops of Tabasco, smooshed up rosemary leaves, an OXO beef cube.”

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The whole pot before putting it in the oven.

March 10, 2009

Greatest.Gluten.Free.Brownies.Ever.

Filed under: Cooking — maryparadox @ 8:48 pm

If you asked me the proverbial question “cookies or cake?” I would answer “Brownies!” For me cookies are too sweet and cake is too dry. Brownies come out moist (or downright gooey if you under cook them like I do), chocolaty, and if they are good, not too sweet.

I have a wheat allergy (which is different from gluten intolerance, which is called celiac disease) which means that I’m limited when it comes to brownie recipes. I do some baking and some cooking but haven’t really tackled the challenge of wheat-free cooking (well, I tried once and it was a complete disaster, without gluten things tend to be dry to the point of dusty) So instead of attempting to create the perfect wheat-free brownie I have instead sampled every single gluten/wheat-free brownie mix available at my local hippie food stores. Since I’m also allergic to corn, soy, milk, peanuts, and walnuts, I chose mixes that also excluded those things.

I here I present to you the results! Imagine the countless hours of dumping mix into bowls, stirring, baking, and eating that I have sacrificed to bring you this mecca of brownie!! It was torture I tell you. Pure torture.

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Mmmmmm. Greatest. Brownies. Ever. Even if I could eat wheat!

Actually the truth is that I do eat wheat semi frequently, just not in large quantities. I think these brownies are good even weighed against the normal flour variety. My theory is that when the the makers of these brownies were in their test kitchen they responded to every uncertainty by saying “add more chocolate!” Of course I also add a cup of chocolate chips when I make them (luckily Peter usually has a giant bag of dark chocolate chips, milk chocolatechips , and chocolate nibs laying around).

This brand, Namaste, also has a pancake mix and a muffin mix that are wheat/gluten free. I tried the pancakes and they were awesome, now I can’t wait to try the muffins. I couldn’t find this brand at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco but it was available at Whole Foods, which means you can get it just about anywhere.

Did I also mention that you can freeze the brownies after they are baked then eat them right out of the freezer??!!

February 15, 2009

Fajitas

Filed under: Cooking — maryparadox @ 6:17 pm
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Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.

My sister and I were talking recently about wanting to eat out less and cook at home more. We both lamented having only a couple recipes each that we would cook at home on a regular basis. I know that there are a million recipes out there, but I feel like there are only a few that succeed in making it into my weekly repetoir. My requirements are a little silly — don’t leave me with ingredients I can’t use for anything else (bunch of fresh parsley anyone?); don’t dirty every bowl, pan, and utensil in my kitchen; make a large enough batch for leftovers; be tasty as leftovers; be healthy; be largely vegetarian. Yeesh!

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Toss together so everything is well coated.

I have a recipe for fajitas that I got from an old friend and I have modified over the years to be the vegetable-centric rainbow-fest I’m about to show you. This recipe is great the next day and is easy to modify for each person in the family. For example, I eat it in a bowl without a tortilla (I’m allergic to wheat and corn), with avocado and cheese. My boyfriend eats it with a tortilla with spicy salsa, topatillo, or kimchi (he’s Korean). It’s also great with fresh tomatoes or shredded cabbage on top. I didn’t even think I liked bell peppers until I had this recipe, and now I love them, so I suggest giving it a try, you could easily cut the recipe in half.

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Preheat a *large* pan.

Fajitas
5 medium bell peppers of assorted colors — make a different color every time or mix them all together to make a rainbow
1 medium onion (any color), chopped
5 large garlic cloves
1 small lime
1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
1 heaping teaspoon ground coriander
5 tablespoons Worcestershire
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 chicken breast, sliced

Optional:
tortilla, four or corn
shredded cheese
tomatoes
avocado – yum!
salsa
shredded cabbage

Slice bell peppers from top to bottom into thin slices and put in a large mixing bowl. Add onion chopped into thumb-nail size pieces. Add Pressed or minced garlic. Squeeze the lime juice into the bowl. Add the cumin, coriander, Worcestershire, oil, and chicken. Toss together. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this point you can let the concoction sit overnight or cook immediately.

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Add ingredients when pan is hot. Don't add liquid!

Get out the largest pan you can find, add a little olive oil to coat the bottom and heat on high until HOT. Put the contents of the mixing bowl into the pan, but leave any liquid in the bottom of the bowl behind. Cook on high until onions have become clear.

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Done when onions are glassy, chicken is cooked, and peppers have become soft.

Serve over warmed tortillas or directly into a bowl. Add optional toppings to your liking. Enjoy!

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Enjoy :)

February 4, 2009

Storm Clouds

Filed under: Ceramics — maryparadox @ 10:29 pm

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I’ve been working on a crazy “cloud” project for the last several months. I got this idea of making a cloud out of Southern Ice clay, which is translucent, and turning it into a chandelier with little teardrop shaped crystals to look like rain. It didn’t come out quite right, the cloud looks more like popcorn than cloud, and it cracked along the bottom, but hey, it’s a first try. The method I used (shaping it around newspaper) also caused lots of folds, hence the difference thicknesses and the storm-cloud affect. I actually rather like it, but wouldn’t want to have to repeat the process. Next time I’m going to try either forming the cloud around animal balloons and Saran-wrap or making a plaster mold.
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I also had some trouble tying on the raindrops. The monofilament was stiff enough that if I tied a single line to the drop it caused it to stick out a a funny angle. Instead I put them on with loops of monofilament line, using a crimp bead at the top inside the cloud to secure it. It just occurred to me I could have probably used thread and I wouldn’t have had this problem…

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