Sooo Busy!
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So, this is the last couple of weeks of the semester, that really suck.  It's amazing how many opportunities to do fun things have come up, when I really don't get to do much of anything except work on my paper and grade papers.  Fortunately this misery will be over in a couple of weeks, one way or the other.  I've got several things in mind to post once I have time. 

For those who don't read Brian's blog, he's doing something cool next week.  I totally agree with him that electronic communications technology has fundamentally changed how we relate to each other, in ways we don't really understand.  He's decided to abstain from it for a week and instead try to interact with people via more traditional means.  I'm not a full participant in this project, but I definitely endorse it, and I hope we do have some people stop by to say hello.  (Anybody who needs to contact us in some major emergency can still call me.)  Go, Brian! 


Milk Delivery
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Our family's current dairy arrangements involve a gallon of raw milk a week.  We pick it up at our CSA, which is probably the next most convenient thing to home delivery.  It's a little more milk than we can conveniently keep up with drinking, but we've discovered ricotta cheese and the joys of baking with sour milk, and are just getting the hang of making yogurt, which I suspect may be the tipping point.  Raw milk is expensive, $10/gallon.  When we joined this program, it was more of a trial basis than a wholehearted commitment, so we've been reviewing our options. 

Today I found out that Oberweis Dairy offers delivery service in our area.  This sure would be handy.  They have a decent if not fully comprehensive menu of dairy products, plus some logical additions like eggs and ice cream, plus a long list of other random convenience foods.  Delivery is weekly with a flat delivery charge of $3.  Their regular milk is ~$6/gallon (no mention of bottle deposits) -- I'm not quite sure how that compares to the going rate. 

Pros and cons: the Oberweis milk is in glass bottles which they collect and reuse.  It would save me a dollar, apparently.  What about product quality?  Their website is full of feel-good rhetoric; whoever wrote it knew all the things I wanted to hear, and said them all very vaguely.  The only concrete fact they can put out there is no rGBH.  Similarly, they're happy to give tours, but only to organized groups, and the tour actually consists of a "behind-the-scenes video presentation."  One of the prime markers of trust for me, in the producers who sell to our CSA, is the willingness to have you stop by and check out their operation.  I've never actually done this, mind you, but (perhaps illogically) it's still important to me.  Our raw milk is in plastic jugs (I should ask them if they could reuse them, which just occurred to me) and comes to us from Newburg, MO, which is a bit over 100 miles, so it's not like our arrangements with them are 100% as environmentally friendly as they could be. 

All the same, without doing any more research, I don't have any real indication that Oberweis is running an operation that I'd approve of  significantly more than any commercial dairy.  Also they seem like a pretty large-scale outfit, and the raw milk comes from a person.  While I don't feel really strongly about raw milk from a philosophical standpoint, I'm pretty keen on eating food that is good, and in that category it definitely does beat out the other stuff.  We've really been doing well recently about eating things that conform to our theoretical standards, and I'm reluctant to do anything that sounds like moving backwards.  Definitely not to save a dollar a week. 


This is better
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I tried to like that last style, but couldn't manage it.  This one is better.  Also, I've enabled anonymous commenting, since somebody pointed out to me that otherwise only Livejournal users can comment.  I would have fixed that earlier if I'd noticed. 

How to Make Mustard
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A condiment of which we are fond.  We're also resistant to spending money and generally inclined toward doing things ourselves.  And, as it happens, we have a source for buying mustard powder in bulk quantities which makes the following cheaper than buying jars of mustard. 

-Mix equal parts mustard powder, vinegar, and water in a small saucepan.  Add more mustard, maybe 50% more, to something like proper consistency.  Simmer a few minutes until everything is thoroughly combined and slightly thickened. 
-While simmering, stir in any of the following, to taste: some salt, a little red pepper, a spoonful of horseradish, some whole or coarsely ground mustard seeds.  Brian invented this recipe, so in the original spirit, throw in whatever you feel like. 

This is so easy to make.  And it contains no carrageenan, sodium benzoate, yellow #5 or any other crap I can't identify.  And it makes me feel like a genius.  Look at that! 

I'm going to try mayonnaise next.  We switched several months ago from some god-awful chemical-laden generic miracle whip to actual mayonnaise, on the basis of its containing fewer ingredients we can't pronounce.  There's a perfectly good recipe for this in the Joy of Cooking, which can't be that hard.  I am horrified by the contents of commercial Thousand Island dressing, which Brian likes; turns out it's easy to mix up out of other stuff.  I've posted here before about our efforts to put stuff on pancakes other than pancake syrup.  We've even discussed trying to make ketchup over the summer.   I suspect homemade ketchup is a tasty tomato-related condiment which you'll like just fine if you don't pretend it's the same thing as Heinz.  We'll have to make up a recipe for that, though, since the only ones I'm aware of are the "can 30 pints" variety, and I want to try it before I commit to all that!  

This reminds me, actually, of a thought-provoking post by jedimomma a few weeks ago.  It's completely true (once I thought about it) that most condiments don't actually need to be stored in the refrigerator.  But if they were made from food, I wonder if they really would? 


I want to CLEAN
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Today it is spring!  It's supposed to be in the 60s for almost a whole week, and only rain once.  I'm so excited.  This morning we went to Bayer's Garden Shop and got some stuff, so we can spend the weekend doing garden-y things.  Tomorrow we're going to bottle our beer (assuming it will finally be done fermenting).  In any case, the wonderful weather has me feeling very energetic, and among other things I really want to clean.  Alas, between grading and all the fun stuff we have planned for this weekend, I don't know when I'll next have both time and energy.  Maybe Sunday, when it's raining.  Oh well.  I did bike to work this morning, and it was wonderful.  Hooray for spring!

I was thinking...
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What do you find to be really, deeply satisfying?  I was thinking this morning that I should take inventory of these things more often.  I suspect I waste a lot of time on other stuff. 

Not a complete list, but the things that currently spring to mind:

growing, cooking,  & eating really good food
loud techno music
having things neat and organized (not that I'm good about doing this)
anything to do with France
relaxed time with friends (just the right amount)
19th-century literature

What about you?

Today's Recipe
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Chocolate Raspberry Clafoutis     Gourmet magazine, March 09

Somewhere between custard and cake lies the clafoutis, a simple French country dessert traditionally made with cherries.  In this version, your blender does most of the work.  Active time: 15 min.

12 oz fresh raspberries (2 3/4 cups)
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 to 3 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

-Preheat oven to 400 with rack in middle.  Butter a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. 
-Toss berries with sugar and let stand 15 minutes.
-Blend rest of ingredients except chocolate in blender till smooth.  Scatter berries with juice evenly in baking dish, then pour batter over top.
-Bake until slightly puffed and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chopped chocolate.  Cool to warm, about 20 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

I found this yesterday and think I might make it tonight.  I have some frozen blackberries that ought to do the job.  I love simple, fruity desserts like this.  

LOOK at this brussels sprout recipe
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Okay, I guess not everybody loves brussels sprouts as much as I do.  But come on, just look at the picture on this recipe. 

Damn.  Can't figure out how to lift the picture.  You'll have to go look at it yourself. 

Anyway, from 101Cookbooks.com: 
Brussels Sprout Salad
very finely shredded raw sprouts
toasted hazelnuts
shaved Parmesan or other hard salty cheese
simple olive oil & lemon juice dressing

Sounds delicious. 



Tricked by the Forecast
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It was supposed to be sunny and 50 degrees today.  I carpooled to work with B, but brought my bike, intending to enjoy the nice weather while riding home.  Instead it's turned out to be 40 and drizzling.  In terms of what to wear while bicycling, that's a much different proposition. Stupid thing. 

In other news, we're going to do some brewing this weekend.  We haven't done that in a long time, so it should be fun.  And it'll be our first attempt at all-grain brewing, starting with real grain instead of malt extract, which may be an adventure.  All-grain has more steps and requires more equipment, but in theory is considerably cheaper, so I hope it works out well. 

What to Put on Pancakes
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I'm partly brainstorming and partly calling for suggestions here.  We've given up buying pancake syrup, on account of it contains no actual food and isn't that tasty either.  I've been working on coming up with alternatives. 

-Maple syrup: a bit pricey (though you naturally use less) but delicious. 
-Honey: hmm...a bit too sweet.
-Molasses: ...not quite sweet enough.  
-Butter and powdered sugar: B likes, I don't mind, but it's a bit dry.  Don't inhale.  
-Powdered-sugar frosting: solves the previous problem, but deciding what I think of this one.
-Vanilla yogurt: I like this.  Good in combination with:
-Jam: always good.  Gets melty and wonderful when you warm it up.  
-Fruit: one of my favorites.  Works well with berries, homemade applesauce. 

Could a person make their own syrupy substance?  Plain sugar syrup wouldn't taste right, but would be made from cane sugar instead of chemicals.  You could flavor it with...vanilla?  Cinnamon?  I don't know, orange or mint?  That might be weird.  Maybe sugar syrup could be used in combination with honey or molasses to make something just right. 

Any thoughts?

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