Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Hollywood Tail

Back on November 1st, we discovered two kittens abandoned in our yard. After a daring rescue, they were cold and flea - infested, but adorable.
Unfortunately, David is allergic to cats. So we had to find them a forever home. We emailed; tweeted; and put flyers up in the Department of English, Comparative Literature, and Linguistics, a known cat person hang out. But there were no takers.
Then our friend Bridget, a recovering cat breeder, stepped in. She fostered the remaining kitten (yes, :( DO NOT TELL OUR CHILD) and nursed it back to health and flea-freedom. Then she found it a forever home with a mom and two sons who just lost their elder cat ... in San Jose, which is over a six hour drive without traffic. In trying to find a ride for the kitten, by then named, Oliver, she contacted a friend who is an animal wrangler in Hollywood. Not only did the animal wrangler volunteer to drive Oliver to San Jose, but she lined up some work for him. 

As it is not kitten season, Oliver was able to command a four digit payday for two days of work. He was the model in a photo shoot for Shutterfly.
Now, Oliver has earned his initial veterinarian visit and neutering fees for his forever family and gas money for his ride up the coast. 
While Oliver's story has a happy ending, please remember that if you find young kittens in a relatively safe area, such as in the grass or on a sidewalk, it’s best to leave them alone. Mom is probably moving her babies or out looking for food. Check out this post from the ASPCA for more information. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Piesgiving

So I invented a new pie this Thanksgiving. 


It uses the Salty Pluff Mud Pie filling from the New York Times wonderful dining section containing a recipe from all fifty states for Thanksgiving.  But instead of a regular pie crust, which I always find at odds with Mud Pie, I made the crust out of NYTCCC dough without the chocolate chips.  I buttered the pie plate, then covered the bottom and sides with about 1/3 inch of dough.  I popped it in the fridge overnight.  Then I baked it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
At this point, it looked like there would be no room for filling, but I popped it back into the freezer to chill until the filling was ready and it settled down a bit.  Then I followed the Salty Pluff Mud Pie recipe.

It came out of the pie plate easily and held its shape well. It was AMAZING!  The bottom perimeter of the pie, where the proportion of crust sometimes fails and ruins the whole thing, turned into this caramelized, chocolately, yum.  It was alchemy.
Before serving, I dusted the top with extra fine sea salt, which truly does bring out the flavor of the chocolate, and topped it with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Siblings Study Statistics

It's been pretty quiet here at Gnomicon.  But if you're wondering if we're still up to our usual shenanigans, the answer is yes.  For example, Bob and Sarah just collaborated on a post over at Medical Law Perspectives:
CDC Study Shows Skyrocketing Skin Cancer Costs; What Lawyers Can Learn By Examination and Persuasive Presentation of Statistics.
We even made illustrative bar graphs based on hypothetical data sets.  Yup, the family that critically reviews use of statistics in the public media together stays together.  Or some other catchy adage referring to the Common Core standards for high school math.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

I Might Have Invented a New Cookie

What happens when you volunteer to make cookies for a fundraiser at your kid's daycare and you discover at 10 p.m. that you're 1/2 stick of butter left?  You discover a whole new cookie: peanut butter bacon cookies with banana buttercream frosting.  That title is a mouthful.  How about Elvis Cookies?  Or if the Elvis Presley estate is concerned about that, how about King Cookies?  Salty, fruity, peanuty, bacony goodness.  You don't have to like the sandwich to love this cookie.

King Cookies
Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C cold bacon grease
  • 1 3/4 C crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 C PB2
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
Procedure
  • Cream together butter, bacon grease, peanut butter, PB2, white sugar, and brown sugar for at least 10 minutes. 
  • Beat in eggs.
    In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add your dries to your wets and mix slowly until totally combined. 
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight, or as long as you can stand to wait.
    When you're ready to bake your cookies, take the dough out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature. 
  • Preheat the oven to 350.  
  • Roll into 1 inch balls and set on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand to about 5/8 inch thick.  You might have to push the edges back towards the center with your fingers if the edges break.  
  • Bake for about 14 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake. Take them out and allow them to cool on the cookie sheet.

Banana Buttercream Frosting
  • 1/2 C mashed fresh bananas, not frozen (cold banana will make the butter harden)
    1/8 t citric acid (1/2 t lemon juice could be used as substitutes)
    1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 3 1/4 C confectioners' sugar
  • yellow gel paste food coloring (optional)
Procedure:
  • Mash together the banana, citric acid, and vanilla.
  • Cream the butter alone. Add half of the confectioners' sugar 1/2 C at a time, creaming it in completely after each addition.
  • Add the banana mixture. Take some time to cream this in, scraping down the bowl completely a few times to make sure the butter isn't separating and stuck to the side of the bowl.
  • Add the remaining confectioners' sugar 1/2 C at a time, creaming it in completely and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • Add the gel paste food coloring until the frosting reaches a shade of yellow that will reassure nonbelievers that this is really banana-flavored.
Assembly:
  • Check that the cookies are no warmer than room-temperature.  If they're at all warm, the frosting will melt and possibly slide off.
  • Frost the the cookies thickly.  The volume of the frosting should equal the volume of the cookie to balance the salty/bacony powerhouse of the cookies with sweet/banana-y awesomeness.
  • Twirl the frosting in the middle to make a little pompadour. Get it?

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 http://ocwalktocurearthritis.kintera.org/gratefulguineapigs

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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