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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Tuna Cakes

My kids mostly hate fish. They don't like it. They won't eat it. Except for certain types like particular brands of fish sticks. And these tuna cakes.

They're fast and easy to make. They don't have any wheat or milk ingredients, so everyone can eat them. They're also really good with the tartar sauce recipe I posted last week.

Tuna Cakes

2 cans tuna packed in water, drained
2 c. mashed potatoes
2 T. chopped pickles or pickle relish
2 T. mayonnaise
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. dill weed
1/2 t. black pepper
2 eggs

Mix everything together. Heat 1 T. oil in a non-stick frying pan. Scoop out the mixture 1/4 c. at a time into the frying pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, flipping carefully. Cakes should be golden brown when done.

Serve hot with tartar sauce.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Fun

I'm home with a stupid cold, snorking into tissues and watching Netflix and doing homework. If only something good was on the TV. I'm watching The Tomorrow People, Ghost Whisperer, and various nature documentaries. Way too much teen angst in TTP, too much girly crap in GW, and too much voiceover narration in the nature documentaries.

What have you found on Netflix that's any good? The best comment will win a free ebook of your choice from my published list. One other commenter, chosen at random, will win a random prize.

And don't forget to enter my giveaway for Brain Candy. That contest ends on Thursday.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Tartar Sauce

Running behind this week. Here's a quick sauce for you that goes great with fish.

Tartar Sauce

1 c. mayonnaise
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. dried dill weed
1/4 c. dill pickles or spicy pickles, chopped small (We love Famous Dave's Devil Spit Pickles, but only a couple of slices. I used home-made mustard pickles for the rest.)

Stir everything together and let it sit for about half an hour. Serve with fish sticks or other fish. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Giveaway Time!

Who's up for a giveaway? How about a fun silly scary story collection? All righty then. One ebook copy of Brain Candy coming up to one lucky winner.

Here's the links to buy it:

Kindle

All other ebook formats

And just for Halloween, I'm putting it on sale until the end of October for only 99 cents!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Watchagot Stew, Bean Style

We had watchagot stew again this week. For those who don't know, this is the soup where someone asks, "What's for dinner?" and the answer is, "I don't know. What cha got?" You then open the fridge and see what you got. That gets thrown together in a pot to make watchagot stew. Get it? Got it. Good. (Bonus points if you get the movie reference.)

We have a lot of old food storage items in our basement right now. Long story, but we inherited most of it. Some of it is ours that we just forgot about because it got stored in the wrong closet. It's amazing what you discover when you clean out your basement. My husband found a ten bean mix that needed used, so he dumped 3-4 c. of dried beans in a crockpot and soaked them overnight, then cooked them the next day. He was staring at the beans and wondering what to do with them. Plain beans are not very tasty. So we dressed them up with what we had. It turned out pretty tasty.

Watchagot Stew, Bean Style

3-4 c. dried beans, any variety (lima, pinto, black, red, kidney, garbanzo, lentils, split peas, etc.)
6 c. water
1 t. salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1/4 onion soup mix
5 tomatoes, chopped small
1 bell pepper, chopped small
1 onion, chopped small
2 c. ham, chopped
4 carrots, sliced

Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse. Add enough water to cover beans. Cook on low in a crockpot for 6 hours, until mostly done.

Add in everything else plus whatever else you have laying around that needs used that smells like it would go with the other flavors, like zucchini or green beans or corn. Cook on high for 2-3 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Turn to low and hold for as long as needed.

Makes about 3 quarts of soup.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meteorite Basics

From space.com - thank goodness it's only a painting!
Meteors. Rocks that fall from space. Who doesn't love a space rock? Okay, I'm weird. I admit that. But I do find meteors fascinating and I'd love to share some of my fascination with you.

Where do they come from?
The easy answer is: Outer space. But where in outer space?
Meteorites come in three basic types: iron, stony iron, and stony. There are more technical terms for them and they are further classified, but for now, these three will work. (If you want to know more, check out this website.)

Iron meteorites are by far the easiest to identify. They are an iron and nickel mix, but mostly iron. Anytime geologists or meteorite hunters find a blob of metal, especially one that shows crystalline structure, they know they've found a meteorite.
Stony iron meteorites are a little more tricky to spot. They're a mix of iron-nickel and silicate minerals, like clay. Stony meteorites are very difficult to find unless you can track them falling. They're very similar to rocks you'd find on the surface of Earth. Surprisingly, a lot of stony and stony-iron meteorites contain quite a bit of water and carbon compounds. If you remember news stories from quite a few years ago, astronomers were surprised to find amino acids, basic building blocks of life, present in meteors and comets. These compounds are sometimes called "organics", not because they were created by life processes, but because they are carbon-oxygen-hydrogen long-chain molecules that are the same as those produced by life processes. Things like methane and ammonia.

So what would they look like if you analyzed them in a spectrometer? You'd get a readout of the basic chemical concentrations of different elements. Take a look at the graph halfway down this page. See how the concentrations of silicates (SiO2) are different for meteors from Mars, the moon, or other known asteroids? That's one way we can tell they are meteorites and not Earth rocks.

Back to the question of where they come from. Chemical composition will give us a clue to the original body. Most meteorites come from asteroids, although we do have some from the moon and Mars. Different asteroids have different compositions but they are still pretty similar to each other. All of these have minerals in different proportions than rocks from Earth.

From space.com - a Martian meteorite
The other way we find out where meteors come from is to find our how old they are. Age is usually determined by using radio-isotope dating techniques. If you've heard of carbon-14 dating, that's the process we're talking about, except with space rocks, scientists usually use rubidium-strontium because it has a much longer half-life. (This site has a great experiment to illustrate what a half-life is. Basically, it is the amount of time needed for half of the radioactive atoms to decay to non-radioactive atoms.) When a rock is melted, it resets this clock. So when a volcano erupts and the lava cools, if we found the age of those rocks, it would be essentially zero.

Our solar system formed about 4.56 billion years ago. Meteorites from the asteroid belt are all about that age. Rocks from Mars are about 1.5-4.5 billion years old. Rocks from the moon are about 3.3-4.4 billion years old. The oldest rock on Earth is about 4.37 billion years old. Most of the rocks on Earth are much younger because Earth is so dynamic and is constantly recycling rocks. Mars and the moon are pretty much dead, geologically speaking. Not much is happening with erosion or renewal of the surface on those bodies.

What would you think if we found a meteor that was dated at 4.89 billion years old? Or what if it gave an age of 6 or 7 billion years? It most likely came from outside our solar system, or it was a chunk of pre-solar system space dust that survived the formation of the sun and planets and other bodies. Whatever it might be, a rock that old would be an incredible find.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Tossed Salad

Yeah, this is an easy one. But it's been that kind of week. What do you like in your salad? This is one of my favorite combos.

Tossed Salad

4 c. shredded greens - leaf lettuce, spinach, spring mix, etc.
1 D'Anjou pear, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/3 c. red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c. sliced radishes or daikon
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1/4 c. fried onion topping or croutons, optional

Toss greens in a bowl. Sprinkle pear, pepper, radishes, almonds, and cheese over the top. Drizzle the dressing over everything. Serves 2-4 people.