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

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

...Is not a train! My remodeling for the year is almost finished. The kitchen is done and looks beautiful. The walls in my new office space are painted. All we have left is putting the trim back on the walls and rearranging furniture again. I'm excited to see how everything is going to look when it's all put back together. The office space used to be our tv room off the dining area. We moved the tv to another room. The space is going to be office and homework center when we're done. Oh, it's also where our zombie frogs will live.

Here's some pictures of the kitchen, before, during, and after:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Ferengi Chicken

Continuing the Star Trek theme, here's a fast, easy meal that takes two pots to cook. Yep, I'm the queen of fast, cheap, and easy. Food that is.

Ferengi Chicken

1 T. oil
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken, cut in bite size pieces
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 c. carrots, diced small
1 lb bag frozen mixed cauliflower and broccoli
1 c. ketchup or catsup
1 c. crushed pineapple
1 t. ginger
1 t. garlic powder
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. brown sugar

Mix together ketchup, pineapple, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sugar. Set aside. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and onion. Cook, stirring often, until chicken is mostly done. Add carrots. Cook 5 minutes longer. Add frozen vegetables and sauce. Stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve over rice.

If you prefer the sauce thickened, use 2 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 c. cold water.

Monday, October 22, 2012

An Interesting Book

My husband has been helping clean out his parents' house. He keeps bringing home old books and other stray items. I couldn't resist a few quotes from this one:

Cats, by Grace Pond and Angela Sayer, 1976

page 5 - "The felines are carnivorous or flesh eaters, using their thirty adult teeth in a scissor-like action to tear their food apart." That really makes you want to own cats, doesn't it?

page 51 - "Cats which become very soiled, for example having explored the chimney, or the coal-hole, may be bathed, as is virtually the only way to remove soot, coal-dust, or any other greasy substances from the cat's coat. It is usually necessary to have two people to bath a cat, one to hold on to him and the other to do the washing." Cats aren't clean, they're just covered in cat spit. And they don't mention the medical team standing by to suture the deep slashes and puncture marks from bathing the cat.

And my favorite:
page 83 - "Maggot Infestation is generally only seen in long-haired cats following a bout of sickness or diarrhoea, when small plugs of feacal material remain matted in the coat around the rear end. A blow fly then lays its eggs in this mat and within four days the horrified owner will notice the cat's extreme distress and agitated behaviour, and see a large cluster of maggots which have hatched out." What a lovely picture this paints!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Recipe - BBQ Tribbles

I've been hanging out on Ravelry lately, talking crochet and getting in touch with my inner Star Trek geek. There's a group on Ravelry that does Star Trek missions with knit and crochet. It's been a blast playing with them. Plus Ravelry has hundreds of free patterns available. If you knit or crochet, it's a great community.

One of our missions is to craft something to help us connect with the Klingons. It's supposed to be a diplomatic mission. Crafting a basket of tribbles for them is out of the question - tribbles hate Klingons and Klingons hate tribbles. Unless they're barbecued. I'm posting this recipe along with my crocheted stuff for this mission. So get in touch with your inner Klingon and enjoy some BBQ tribbles this weekend.

BBQ Tribbles

2 lbs skinned tribbles (or 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs)
1/2 c. jam or jelly (peach, apricot, or grape preferred)
1 c. barbecue sauce

Place tribbles in a 3 or 4 quart crockpot. Pour jam and barbecue sauce over the top. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Oscar the Grouch is a Time Lord

I admit, I watched Sesame Street for many years. I haven't watched for the last ten years or so, mostly because the show got too Politically Correct for my taste. And I can't stand that horrid little red manipulator named Elmo. *shudder*

I've come to the realization that Oscar the Grouch is a Time Lord.

1. He has funky hair that never stays where it belongs. Plus he has very expressive eyebrows.

2. He has a very long scarf that he uses as a tool. (Mostly only in the holiday specials where he has the garbageman Sully take his garbage can to the ice rink...)

3. He does strange, inexplicable things without giving any reason for his actions. (See above)

4. He eats very weird food. Pickles and ice cream are the most normal of his dishes.

5. He has several companions - Slimey the worm and the elephant, to name two.

And the clincher -

6. His garbage can is MUCH bigger on the inside. Oscar has a swimming pool, bowling alley, ballroom, and movie theater inside that thing.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Sweet Pickle Relish

My sister gave me this recipe years ago. It's a great basic pickle relish, sweet and tangy. Use it wherever you usually use pickle relish - hot dogs, hamburgers, tuna salad and sandwiches, deviled eggs, etc.

Cucumber Relish

4 c. ground unpeeled cucumbers
1 c. finely chopped green pepper
1/2 c. finely chopped sweet red pepper
3 c. finely chopped onion
3 c. finely diced celery
1/4 c. pickling salt
3 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. vinegar (5% acidity)
1 T. celery seed
1 T. mustard seed

Combine all vegetables in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt, cover with cold water. Let stand 4 hours. Drain thoroughly, pressing out all excess liquid. Combine sugar, vinegar, and seeds in larg pot. Bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in vegetables, simmer 10 minutes. Pack in hot jars, process to seal.

For canning, check out these books and sites:
USDA Guide to Home Canning (PDF download)
Ball (brand of canning jars) site
National Center for Home Food Preservation

Monday, October 8, 2012

Messages of Hope and Inspiration

This past weekend was the general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Twice a year, the whole church gathers, at least virtually, to listen to church leaders. The messages are uplifting, full of hope and love. It was what I needed this last weekend.

You can listen to any or all of the talks here: (Yes, they do translate the talks into many languages if English isn't your thing.)

If you need some light in your life, try listening.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Onion Relish

Are you sensing a theme here? It's canning and pickling season. Lots of fresh produce around just begging to be turned into wonderful pickles, preserves, and relishes. These are fairly easy to make and usually safe for home canning, just keep the kitchen and jars as clean as possible and use a good quality vinegar that says 5% acidity on the label.

This one is another good one for burgers and hot dog toppings. It's got a nice onion flavor that isn't too overpowering.

The summer we tried this recipe out, I got a 50lb bag of onions for about $15. Great price, great deal, but that was an enormous pile of onions. We made at least a dozen batches of this relish. The kitchen reeked of raw onion for a week. We sat around the table crying our eyes out as we peeled and chopped onions. Lots of bad jokes happened.

If you have a salad shooter grater type thing, use it for the onions. Just use a coarse grating blade. Makes it go much faster than trying to chop it by hand.

Onion Relish

1 quart finely chopped onions
2 c. finely chopped sweet red peppers
2 c. finely chopped green peppers
1 c. sugar
4 c. vinegar
4 t. salt

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pack into hot jars and process to seal.

For canning, check out these books and sites:
USDA Guide to Home Canning (PDF download)
Ball (brand of canning jars) site
National Center for Home Food Preservation

Monday, October 1, 2012

Celebrations and Ceremonies

Today is my mother-in-law's funeral. It's also my brother's birthday. Both have me thinking about milestones and the way we mark them.

The older I get, the more complicated my feelings about birthdays. Remember being a kid? Your birthday was almost as big as Christmas. My parents weren't big on parties or presents, but I usually got a cake. My birthday was supposed to be my special day. Most of them were a big disappointment. We were either at a family reunion where I had to share my cake and candles with several aunts, cousins, and other relatives or something else obnoxious happened. I had my tonsils out right before my twelfth birthday. By the time I could eat cake, it was long gone. These days, each birthday is a reminder that I'm not getting younger.

Funerals are a tricky subject. For my husband's mother, it will be a celebration of a life well lived and a woman well loved. Because of my faith and my religion, death isn't a final ending. It's only another step in our journey of existence. But the funeral isn't for the deceased, it's for the family and the friends. It's a way to find closure. It's a necessary step in grieving.

Another common milestone in life is marriage. Many societies also have a coming of age ceremony to celebrate the passage of a person from childhood to adulthood. Without these milestones, we may become lost, anchorless. These help provide the framework for a social structure, the basis for many traditions.

What are some of your favorite traditions or celebrations? Have you created a set for your fiction stories? Are there traditions in fiction books that bother you? What and why?