Monday, June 29, 2009

Operation: Make Bacon Begins

Bacon Ingredients

I gathered my supplies this weekend for Operation: Make Bacon.

Bacon Preparation

Then I prepared the Pork Belly by cutting off the skin (Full Disclosure: There were nipples on the skin and I was grossed out a bit but it didn't stop me from telling Scott about the nipples. Yes, he was grossed out too).

Bacon Massage 2

Next I mixed the sugar, molasses, curing salt, pepper and salt together before massaging it into the bacon. I massaged and massaged until all the spices were fully massaged in.

Bacon Bag

Finally the bacon pieces were placed in a plastic bag which was then put in the fridge where it will rest for 7-10 days. I have to flip the meat and massage it daily. After 7-10 days, it should be dark red and that is when the smoking begins.

Look for that installment in 7-10 days...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lavender

PolkaCake

I was recently given a bag of lavender sugar by a very generous co-worker. She might have also been the person who told me that lavender in food is an up and coming food trend but I can't say for sure.

Either way, she sparked my experimental juices and I decided that lavender cupcakes needed to be baked. I searched through a few cookbooks and couldn't settle on just one recipe.

Lavender Cupcakes

In the end, I decided to base my experimentation on "White Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting" from 125 best Cupcake recipes by Julie Hasson and I do have to say that this book really has the best cupcake recipes. I haven't had a bad one yet.

I decided to use lavender extract with the vanilla extract while replacing half the sugar with the lavender sugar. I also left out all coconut since I was aiming for lavender and not coconut.

Unfortunately I did not have enough powered sugar on hand for the frosting but then I remembered that powered sugar is just corn starch and regular sugar so I used those items and the frosting turned out great. I also added some food coloring to the frosting to make it look more lavender-ish.

Delightful Cupcake

Lavender-Vanilla Cupcakes with Lavender Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lavender sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp lavender extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Beat together sugars, butter, eggs and extracts until smooth.
4. Alternatively mix in flour mixture and milk, beating until smooth.
5. Spoon batter into prepared cupcake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
6. Let cool for 10 minutes before frosting with Lavender Cream Cheese Frosting.

Lavender Cream Cheese Frosting

6 oz cream cheese, room temp.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lavender extract
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1. Mix cream cheese, butter and extracts together until light and fluffy.
2. Slowly beat in 1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Gradually beat in remaining amount until you reach desired consistency.
3. Add red and blue food coloring to the frosting to make it "purple" if desired. I had a hard time getting the color just right but I think they turned out.

Year of the S(ox) - Midpoint

Blue Socks

We're almost at the midpoint on my Year of the S(ox) project and I'm chugging away full force.

I recently finished two pairs of socks. The first was a simple sock in Socks that Rock in Azure Malachite. This skein was yarn was actually the very first Socks that Rock yarn that I had ever encountered. I won it in some contest somewhere a very long time ago. I'm glad that I finally used it because the colors are so lovely.

Crows Feet Finite

The second pair of socks that I finished were my Crow's Feet socks in Malabrigo Sock.

I had a bit of a problem with these socks initally because I was knitting them on size 0 needles instead of size 1 as the pattern indicated. When I finally ripped them out and added some stitches, the pattern fell into place. I love this pattern and I love this yarn which mades for a pretty perfect pair of socks.

Crows Feet Done

I have two more pairs of socks (Child's First Socks and Charade) on the needles and am working fast and furious on them.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yellowstone Video



I've been playing around a bit with video and made one of Scott and I's trip to Yellowstone. The sound isn't perfect and the images are small but still I like it!

It was a fun process and I hope to create some more just as soon as I figure out how to get the video from the good video camera into the program. Yep, there is a learning curve here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 6, 7 & 8 (Or The Final Damn Post about Yellowstone)

Perfection

We spent out sixth and seventh days in the Grand Tetons which are really the most lovely mountains that I've ever seen.

Grand and the General Store

We spent most of one day in Jackson Hole, WY nipping into shops and re-filling my book supply. It's amazing how many books one reads when they don't have a computer or tv to distract them.

Tetons

Scott and I then explored the Menor Ferry area which was really cool! There was an old cabin and a general store along with a "garage" for the wagons, etc. Additionally they were re-doing the ferry and said that it would be available for use later in the summer. The ferry is made of wood which occasionally needs to be replaced as we all know that water and wood do not mix very well.

Lewis and Clark Motel

We next moved on to Bozeman, MT which is one of my all time favorite cities. I think if I lived in Montana, I'd want to live in Bozeman. While there Scott and I saw the movie "UP" which was so good. I want to watch it over and over again like I did with Wall-E.


Scotts Hudson burger

On the eighth day, we headed home but stopped in Coeur d'Alene to eat at Hudson's. Gourmet magazine was right, these burgers are GOOD! Hudson's is small and does not offer sides but the burgers, oh the burgers were delicious!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 3, 4 & 5

The Open Road & YIP.149

So back to the tale of Scott and Rebecca in Yellowstone. On day 3 of our road trip, we finally arrived in Yellowstone. First though we stopped at the Lewis & Clark Caverns outside of Bozeman, MT.

Lewis and Clark Cavern

Except for the bats, the cavern was AMAZING! I loved the colors and took a ton of photos but only a few turned out. It was still a great experience and should Scott want to go again, I'd be willing to sit in the car and knit while he explored. Once was enough for me.

Moose

Once in Yellowstone, the animals came out of the woodwork for us. We saw three bears, a moose, mountain goats, antelopes and of course a ton of elk. Scott was awed and I was in love.

Helen's Buffalo Burger

We ate dinner at Helen's Corral Drive-in and I re-newed my love for the buffalo burger. Yum! I seriously survived on these when I worked in Yellowstone. The food in the park is so terrible, but ummm wait that story comes later in this entry.

Basin at Norris

Day 4 was spent exploring the Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, the Lake Yellowstone area and Yellowstone Canyon. All areas were breath-taking and amazing.

Yellow Canyon

We enjoyed lunch at Lake Yellowstone and spotted a Yellow-Bellied Marmot. I do love me some Marmot even though they are rodents and squirrel-like and I do not like the rodents nor the squirrels.

Claw Foot Tub

After a day of exploration, we decided to partake of dinner in the Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room. I ordered the Idaho Trout Fish Tacos figuring it was a simple dish and local and fresh (maybe). So first the wrong order came out and I probably should have taken that dish but I didn't. Then my fish tacos came out and as I lifted the tacos to eat them, I was overwhelmed with a fish smell. Now I know Trout tends to be fishy BUT you should not smell FISH like it's been lining your bin for a few days. I had a few bites which was a mistake because let's just say my tummy was a bit off all night and well into the next day. Yes, I have to day it, I had the dreaded food poisoning.

Boiling

Day 5 we spent in the Old Faithful region of the park, checking out the geysers and hot springs. Unfortunately it was a colder day and the hot springs gave off a lot of steam, making for poor photos.

Old Faithful Blows

We also spent a long period of time checking out a very large Buffalo herd. I do love watching the Buffaloes.

Buffalo Herd

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 1 & 2

Columbia River Gorge

The Yellowstone Road Trip started off mid-morning on a Saturday. I packed up the car, pushed Scott toward the car, waved goodbye to the cat and we were off!

We stopped for breakfast in Bellevue, just across the I-90 bridge from Seattle before heading over the first of many mountain passes.

As Scott drove across Washington, I worked on my Crows Feet socks. I also made sure to point out interesting road kill and kept mentioning how beautiful Washington is.

T-Rex (aka Awesomesaurus) & YIP.146

We stopped just outside of Vantage, Washington to check out the Petrified Forest where we also found the dinosaur, Awesomesaurus. Unfortunately after seeing the dinosaur, the Petrified Forest was not as awesome.

We next zoomed our way to Spokane where we had a delightful dinner with my Grandparents along with my Aunt and Uncle. They had the most delicious skewers and I brought cherry pie. All in all a good feast.

Day 147 (147/365.2) Braids in Idaho

The next morning, we slept in a bit before heading over to Coeur D'Alene to check out Hudson's burgers which was unfortunately closed on Sundays! Boo!

Berkeley Pit Entrance

We instead had lunch at Denny's and headed toward Butte, MT. One of my friends is from Butte, so we got the inside scoop on what to check out and where to eat. We stopped at the Berkeley Pit and took a ton of photos of the pit filled with murky water.

Scott Approves of Pork Chop John's

Dinner that night was at Pork Chop John's where I tried the Pork Chop Sandwich. Now lest you think the Pork Chop Sandwich has a big piece of bone in it, let me tell you that it contains no "Chop" but does contain yummy pork! It was a delicious yet inexpensive dinner.

Pork Chop Sandwhich

We spent the rest of our evening soaking in cable television in preparation of our time in Yellowstone where there was no TV, cell phone service nor wireless. It was nice to slow-down and be away from technology but at the end of the day, I love my technology!

Waiting at Pork Chop John's

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Home Sweet Home

YIP.147 Stardust Motel

We're home from an amazing week of road-tripping to Yellowstone and back again. We started out with much excitement and had great adventures along the way. We sure missed technology and swore to always travel with our laptops in the future.

T-Rex (aka Awesomesaurus) & YIP.146

I ended up with a touch of food poisoning (damn that terrible food in the Park, no seriously just eat the ice cream, it's safer), Scott got to see so many animals in the wild that I think it blew his mind and in the end I got to take my love to Yellowstone where I showed him my heart. Yellowstone really is the home of my heart, the place I keep hopes and dreams, a place of wonder for me. It was pretty awesome sharing that with Scott. I think he may have left part of his heart there too.

The Shores of Lake Jackson in The Grand Tetons

I'll be posting pictures to Flickr all week and sharing our vacation stories on the blog.

Now it's time to prepare for re-entry into the real world. I'm not sure that I'm quite ready to yet to give up on the vacation world though.
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