Thursday, January 29, 2009

Field trip!

Sheila and Anders are ready for their field trip....

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ginger Ale

I watched the "ginger" episode of Good Eats the other night, and Alton Brown made his own ginger ale. Here's my version.



Ingredients

  • 2 oz. ginger (by weight, no need to peel)
  • 7½ c. cold water
  • 6 oz. sugar (by weight)
  • ⅛ t. active dry yeast
  • 2 T. lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Place ginger and ½ cup of the water in a mini-chopper (a blender might work), and puree.
  2. Combine ginger/water and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover and let rest for 1 hour.
  3. Strain syrup into a measuring cup. It should be relatively cool by now.
  4. Funnel the syrup into a clean 2-liter bottle, followed by 4 cups of the remaining cold water (this should be enough to bring the combined temperature of the syrup and the water to or below room temperature). Now add the yeast (you probably want to do this without the funnel, so that the yeast doesn't get stuck), followed by the remaining 3 cups of cold water. Cap tightly, shake, and leave at room temperature for 48 hours.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Make sure to open at least once or twice a day to release excess carbonation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Always in motion

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Morning bread snack

Anders really enjoys eating a nice piece of whole wheat bread. We cut off the crust and give it to him in a bowl. He usually squeezes one piece desperately, and maybe takes some pieces out of the bowl, puts them back, takes them out... But along the way, he manages to eat most of the bread.



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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tissue blizzard

Sigrid somehow lost track of the fact that the tissue box she had placed behind herself, for safekeeping, was no longer safe once Anders joined her on the couch. The result was predictable.


Well, the scope of the resulting blizzard may not have been predictable.



A good time was had by all.

Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!

"Caps!"


"Caps for sale!"


"Fifty cents a cap!"


That was quite a performance, Anders.


Take a bow.


The inspiration for this entry will be familiar to most, but if not, it's Esphyr Slobodkina's classic children's book, Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business.

The Lemon Kid

Anders really loves playing with those plastic lemon containers that hold lemon juice.


No, really, he does!


Ok, that's much better.

It turns out those lemons are not exactly water (or more accurately lemon-juice) tight. So we had to wash an empty one out and fill it with water. Anders is ok with that.



Saturday, January 17, 2009

Martinis Я Us


Blind Martini Tasting
The Gins:
Beefeater
CapRock
Damrak
DH Krahn
Hendrick's
Junipero
Gordon's
Leopold's
Old Raj
Sarticious
The Pretenders:
Ketel One
Stolichnaya
The Vermouth:
Cinzano Extra Dry
The Ratio:
4:1
The Garnish:
None
Shaken or Stirred?
Stirred,
with 3 ice cubes,
for about 12 seconds


I started with a dozen eight ounce bottles.


I labeled the bottles A–L (in random order) and then filled them each with 4 ounces of one of the gins (or in the case of the two pretenders, vodka). I noted the letter-to-liquor correspondence on a sheet of paper that I then hid away.

For each bottle, I emptied its contents into a cocktail shaker, added 1 ounce of vermouth, 3 ice cubes, and stirred with a chopstick. Ten quick counterclockwise stirrings, followed by ten quick clockwise stirrings, five more counterclockwise stirrings (about 12 seconds total), and then the mixed cocktail was funneled back into the bottle.

Sigrid than applied new labels, 1-12, over the letter labels, noting the number-to-letter correspondence on a sheet of paper that she kept.

The bottles were then refrigerated until the guests arrived. On the table, we had ice water for drinking, squeeze bottles of water for rinsing, and a rinse bucket for rinse water. We also had fruit, cheese, pate, olives, crackers and bread for snacking. Guests were provided with a list of the mystery martinis, with room for taking notes. After everyone had had a chance to taste, Sigrid's key and mine were combined to unveil each martini's identity.



Verdict? Intoxicatingly fun. Some thoughts:
  • Next time, less vermouth. The 4:1 ratio I used is a bit drier than the International Bartender's Association's recipe for a dry martini, way drier than Boothby's recipe from the late 19th century (which called for equal parts gin and vermouth), but not as dry as the martini you're likely to get in a bar these days. So maybe 6:1 or 8:1 next time.
  • By luck of the draw, the two vodkas ended up as the last two martinis, which meant that taste buds were a bit wiped by the time we tasted them. Only one person (UPDATE 1/20: two people, actually) managed to pick them out.
  • A six ounce martini (4 ounces gin, 1 ounce vermouth, plus some water taken in during the mixing) is enough for many tasters. Some guests didn't taste all twelve offerings, but even bottle #1 was half full at the end of the tasting (which was fine, because I started remixing them and serving them as full-size martinis).
  • One guest, who for over eight years has raised questions about my taste based on my ordering of Beefeater martinis, found that he actually likes Beefeater martinis.
  • Another guest found that in her tasting notes she had described her standard gin as "watery," but found a new favorite gin (sadly for her pocketbook, it was possibly the most expensive gin on the table).
  • One intrepid vodka fan, who sat out the tasting but sniffed most of the gins, found that the Damrak is, to her, quite tasty. Very light on the juniper.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Unpacked

A little more than four months after we moved in, I think we can declare ourselves unpacked. We unpacked the china today, because the sideboard we ordered arrived.




Anders likes the new buffet (what makes a piece of furniture a sideboard versus a buffet?), too.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Picnic lunch

It was a wonderful, sunny day out today. Sigrid and I had lunch on the back deck as Anders explored its every corner. After we ate, Anders had some veggies.




Saturday, January 10, 2009

Playdate

Amari came to visit. She's quite a gorgeous little girl, as you can see.



Anders was a very poor host, and kept grabbing the toys Amari was playing with. Amari would get nervous and a bit upset, and scrunch up her face and hoot with worry.



But I found that if I snapped enough pics at just the right moment—typically, the very moment Anders was beginning to grab a toy back from Amari—I could get some that looked like they depicted two babies playing together beautifully.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Messy eater

The books all say we're supposed to let him try to feed himself. It's not a pretty sight.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

No pictures!

This may be a photo blog, but sometimes it's time for a photoless entry.
Well, ok, maybe one photo.

Anders has been having a rough time for the last few days. He's in Day 4 of his first cold. Hopefully, the worst is over—he seemed a lot better tonight, as I put him to bed, than last night. And last night was way better than the night before, which was a complete disaster for Baby, Mommy and Daddy.
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