Sunday, March 30, 2014

Grateful Guinea Pigs

My friend Tristan Dalley designed this amazing logo for our 2014 Walk to Cure Arthritis team, the Grateful Guinea Pigs. The team name comes from what medical research test subjects are nicknamed: guinea pigs. I have a kind of rheumatoid arthritis that doesn't respond to the usual medications. So I get to be a guinea pig for orphan drugs. Orphan drugs are developed through an FDA program to fund research and development of drugs and biologics intended for the safe and effective treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S., or that affect more than 200,000 persons but are not expected to recover the costs of developing and marketing a treatment drug. The Arthritis Foundation works with the FDA's Office of Orphan Products Development to lobby for funding and research for rare forms of arthritis. Being on the cutting edge of medicine is scary sometimes, but I am a grateful guinea pig.

If you'd like to donate to the Arthritis Foundation through our team's fundraising website, please go to

If you'd like to purchase some Grateful Guinea Pigs merchandise, 10% of the price will go to the Arthritis Foundation.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Zoe's European Shoes

Zoe got new sneakers (with 'Z's), for her European walkabout (3-year old version). She is currently breaking them in by holding them in the air.  Like so:

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Homemade Cottage Cheese


After an unsuccessful attempt at making homemade cottage cheese, I achieved delicious curds. The difference? I used the suggested calcium chloride. The results was a nice break in the curd. You can see how well the curds stayed together once they were cut and being reheated. I didn't stir the curds, but I did swirl the pot to help distribute the heat. I followed the directions in Ricki's Basic Cheese Making Kit from the New England Cheese Making Supply Company. The only thing I also wasn't too concerned about was only raising the cheese 2 degrees every 5 minutes to get to the required 110 degrees.


After draining the whey from the curd, I had a big solid mass. Once crumbled, it looked more like cottage cheese, but didn't have the smooth curds like store bought cottage cheese. I also did mix some cream into the cottage cheese at the end to moisten it.


I feel ready to tackle feta next!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2012



I saw this bug on my tire this morning. It was about the size of my thumb, so around 2 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide. That's what I call a big bug.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Homemade Sand/Water Table

To keep the Wee Bairn entertained this summer in our Wee Backyard, I cobbled together a sand and water table out of an old planter and some bins from IKEA.
Now I've got a space between the two bins that won't fit another bin, but looks a little sad.
Any thoughts on what should go there? The gap is about 14 1/2 inches deep and 10 7/8 inches wide.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Awesome Shortcake

I have no pictures to share because we ate these up so fast, but if you have strawberries, they are worth making. Recipe for Shortcake Biscuits 2 cups AP flour 2 T sugar 1 T baking powder 1/2 t salt 8 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 1 cup heavy cream Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture until butter is pea sized. Add cream and mix until moist. Kneed gently. Roll out until about 1 inch thick. Cut into biscuits. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream. Delicious.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Back in September of 2008 I read an article in the New York Times Magazine's Recipe Redux column about challah. Four years later, I finally made it. Not the 2008 version, which, much like the article, is offensive on a lot of levels. I made the 1976 version. Well, I made my food processor version of it. In fact, I've made it about seven times in the past three months, and I think I've perfected it.

The original recipe from Sarah Schecht of Brooklyn appeared in an article by Craig Claiborne in 1976. I’ve divided it in half, given food processor directions, and braided like a sane person instead of in an eight-strand braid. However, the pictures you see in this post are actually of a double batch following the instructions below (literally, I made it once, then made it again . . . otherwise it doesn't fit in the food processor, or in any bowl I own to rise) and then following Ms. Schecht's instructions for braiding, which even I could follow.
I highly recommend using Penzeys Ceylon cinnamon, which has a heavenly, ethereal taste, unlike the heavy ground bark you get from your average grocery store cinnamon. I used Penzeys cinnamon blend this last time, and while it is leaps and bounds better than grocery store cinnamon (which is probably stale China cinnamon), it might have resulted in challah too breakfast-y to use for lunch sandwiches.

If you are planning to use your challah for sandwiches, allow the second rise (the one after you braid it) to continue a little longer. On cold days, I let it rise more than an hour. The challah pictured here rose for two hours and 15 minutes in a kitchen with an ambient temperature around 71 degrees. The reason traditional challah might fall apart when you cut it for sandwiches is because it is supposed to be easy to pull apart to share on Shabbat, like a loaf of dinner rolls.
2012: Challah
  • 4 1/2 C unbleached flour, plus additional flour for kneading
  • 1 t dry active yeast
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 C plus 2 T plus 1/8 t sugar (save the 1/8 for the egg wash)
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs (save one for the egg wash)
  • 1/4 C plus 2 T canola oil
  • 3/4 C lukewarm water
  • Place the flour, yeast, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and sugar in the food processor bowl. Pulse to combine.
  • Add the vanilla, 2 of the eggs, and the oil and run on bread setting for 20 seconds. Add 3/4 c lukewarm water and run again for 20 seconds. The dough is ready when it doesn’t stick to your hands. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then lay a clean towel over that, and let rise for at least an hour.
  • Turn the dough onto a flat surface and knead briefly. Cut off 1/3 of the dough, knead quickly, shape into a ball, flour lightly and let rest for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining 2 pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a 12-to-15-inch-long rope. Continue with remaining balls.
  • On a baking sheet lined with a Silpat non-stick baking sheet liner (or analog), align the ropes, side by side. Gather the tops together, one at a time, pinching down to seal. Braid them. When braided, gather the bottom ends of the ropes and pinch them together.
  • Cover the loaf with a towel and place in a warm spot until the loaf is doubled in size, about an hour. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Beat the remaining egg with the remaining 1/8 t sugar. Brush the loaf with the egg wash. Bake until puffed and golden, about 45 minutes.
Makes 1 loaf.

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