Check out my fiction -
Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Paprika Pork

We did this in the crockpot last night. It turned out very moist and tasty. This makes a basic pulled pork so you can dress it up with whatever sides or sauces that sound tasty to you. Serve it on sandwiches or with mashed potatoes or just eat it. It's that tasty.

Paprika comes in a variety of flavors. It's ground chili peppers so it ranges from sweet to spicy. The smoked variety is really good with this kind of dish. Paprika is usually associated with Hungarian cuisine. It isn't the same as chili powder, it's a different variety of pepper. Here, go read the wikipedia article if you want to learn more.

Paprika Pork

2 lb boneless pork roast (I used a lean sirloin roast)
2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 T. paprika
1 t. Italian herb mix
1/4 c. peach jam
1/2 c. water

Put the roast in a small crockpot (1-2 qt). Sprinkle with spices and herbs. Spoon the jam on top. Pour the water over everything. Cook on high for 1-2 hours, until it's hot. Turn to low. Cook another 4-5 hours. Shred pork. Return to liquid and cook for another 30 minutes.

Serves 4-6 people.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ebook Bonanza!

Six ebooks by six authors are up for grabs in this contest. We're promoting our signing event on St. Patty's Day, but since these are ebooks, anyone from anywhere can win. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and enter. You might find some great authors to follow and some great books to read.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

These really hit the spot, not too sweet but plenty for a tasty treat. And the frosting? It was really good, enough that now I want to figure out how to make peanut butter twinkies with it as the filling.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. honey
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
4 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. jelly

Cream butter and peanut butter with sugars. Add baking powder, salt, and eggs. Beat until very creamy. Stir in oatmeal. Spread in a greased 9x13 baking pan. Spoon jelly over the top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Let cool.

Top with peanut butter frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting

2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 T. milk

On very low speed, cream powdered sugar, shortening, and peanut butter. Add milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Top bars with frosting and serve.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Data Collection is Killing Me

News from the trenches: the war on indifference continues...

I'm neck deep in data collection for my project right now. Getting school teachers to respond and agree to let me use their class as guinea pigs is harder than I thought it would be. I've got some preliminary numbers I could crunch, but I'm trying to get the full amount before I do that step.

My project doesn't look like much: a one-page survey for school kids to fill out after a field trip. Thirteen questions. But there's a ton of work that goes into those things. And even then, I'm not sure it's going to work.

I'm trying to measure changes in curiosity about astronomy due to a planetarium field trip. It's harder than you'd think. First off, no one agrees on a definition of curiosity, what it is, why we have it, or what we could do to generate it in ourselves or others. Second, surveys are harder than they look. I'm finding the physical layout matters as much as the wording of the questions. How the questions are arranged on the page, what fonts I use, everything affects the outcome.

So why do this at all? I run a planetarium for my day job. Our stated mission is to increase curiosity. We want kids to go home with more questions than they came with. I haven't found anything out there that can measure it without asking for an hour or more to fill it out. That's why the extremely short and simple survey is essential to my project.

We're currently running on a gut feeling about how we're doing. I'd like to have something more substantial. If we don't know how we're doing, how can we figure out how to improve?

Now back to the data collection...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Spicy Teriyaki Tribbles

Whoops. Late to the party today. It's been a long week. Here's a good, easy recipe for all you Star Trek fans out there. Enjoy!

Spicy Teriyaki Tribbles

2-3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. water
1 T. siracha or tabasco sauce (or leave it out if you want the mild version)
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. garlic powder OR 2-3 large cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 c. finely minced onion

Dump the chicken in a large crockpot.

Mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and siracha. Don't worry if it has lumps, you're mostly trying to spread the heat of the chili sauce out. Stir in the ginger, garlic, and onion. Pour it over the chicken.

Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours until very tender.

Serve with gakh, if you have it, or rice.

If you want to use regular chicken thighs, it's fairly easy to skin and debone them. If deboning scares you, just leave the bone in. Who says tribbles don't have a skeleton?
Peel off the skin and discard. It adds a lot of fat and doesn't cook well in the crockpot.
Slice each thigh lengthwise to get to the bone. Pull out the bone and discard. Remove any lumps of fat and discard. Roll the thigh back into the same approximate shape.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review Time

No fiction this time. I've been buried in non-fiction research. Most of the books and articles are dry and hard to read but they have great ideas so it's worth the pain. But a few books have stood out as not only great idea sources but enjoyable reading. Here are two:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts, by Susan Cain

Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It, by Ian Leslie

Quiet was a revelation to me. I knew I was an introvert, but didn't really understand what that meant for me. My husband always said he was an introvert, but he has too many traits of an extrovert. Understanding who we are and why we function the way we do is crucial to building good relationships. I've really been struggling the past year with a lot of things, relationships particularly. I think I know why now. Read the book. It's an eye-opener.

Curious is for my research for my thesis. I'm dealing with trying to measure changes in curiosity for my project. It's more difficult than you'd think mostly because it is hard to measure something you struggle to even define. Curiosity is one of those weird things where everyone knows what it is, but no one can come up with a definition that everyone agrees on. It was a fun read and well worth the time.

Next up on my reading list: lots of dry dull boring papers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing beats the smell of cinnamon rolls baking. Except maybe eating them fresh and hot from the oven. These take some time to prepare, but they are worth the wait.

Cinnamon Rolls

2 c. hot water, very hot bath water temperature, about 115° F
1 T. yeast, or 1 packet
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. powdered milk
1/4 c. butter
2 c. white flour
1 T. salt
1 egg
2-3 c. additional flour

1/2 c. softened butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
3 T. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 c. raisins, optional
1/2 c. diced dates, optional
1/2 c. craisins, optional
1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional

1/4 c. butter, melted
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla
2-4 T. milk

Place hot water, yeast, sugar, powdered milk, and butter in a large mixing bowl. Stir until mixed. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until yeast is foamy and bubbly. Add 2 c. flour, salt, and egg. Beat for 3-5 minutes, until the batter forms elastic strings. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for an additional 2-3 minutes until smooth.

Cover and let rise for 1 hour until doubled in size. Punch down.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12x18 inches and about 1/2 inch thick. Spread with 1/2 c. softened butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Add raisins, dates, craisins, and chopped nuts as desired. Roll up, starting from long side. Slice into 1 inch thick slices. Place cut side up on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375° F. Bake sweet rolls for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on the edges.

While rolls are baking, mix melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make a thick glaze.

Drizzle over hot rolls. Bake an additional 2-4 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 18-22 rolls.