Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cabbage Rolls !

New-World Stuffed Cabbage

Taste of Home Recipe Book, 1st Edition
1994, pg. 65

1 medium head cabbage
1 can (16 oz) sauerkraut, divided
3 bacon strips, diced
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tlbs Hungarian Paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (16 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup long grain rice, cooked
1 lb ground turkey
2 tlbs chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten

Remove core from head of cabbage. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil; boil until outer leaves loosen from head. Lift out cabbage, removed softened leaves. Return to boiling water to soften more leaves. Repeat until all the leaves are removed. Remove tough center stalk from each leaf. Set aside 12 large leaves fro rolls; reserve the balance to use as the recipe directs.

Spoon half of the sauerkraut into the bottom of a Dutch oven; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels. In drippings, sauté onion and garlic until tender. Remove half to a bowl to cool. To remaining onion mixture, add flour, paprika and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and broth; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

To cooled onion mixture (in bowl), add rice, turkey, parsley, salt, pepper, egg and bacon; mix well. Place about 3-4 tablespoons on each cabbage leaf. Roll up, tucking in sides. Place rolls, seam side down, on sauerkraut in Dutch oven. Cover with remaining sauerkraut. Chop remaining cabbage leaves, place over sauerkraut. Pour tomato mixture over all, adding water to cover if necessary. Cover and bake at 325º for about 2 hours.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Notes: For faster preparation, I usually have the rice & bacon already cooked from some other meal. I also use canned beef broth & canned pre-minced garlic. I don't like parsley, so I don't include it. The most time consuming part is getting the cabbage leaves off the head, (actually, the bigger the head is, the better). My cabbage rolls always end up looking like little balls, rather than the uniform logs in the picture. Of course, you can substitute ground beef, pork or textured protein instead of turkey. The rolls at the Polish Festival looked bigger, seemed to be the standard log shape, and had a lot more rice (no sauce). I also like to fix this around November, when I get the fresh Verboort Sauerkraut. It's got a milder flavor, and is kind of firm, almost crunchy. I often double the ingredients and make extra for lunches & quick meals later in the week.

Snabulus Caption Contest

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just Another Beautiful Sunday

We've been graced with a gorgeous dry and mild September. We decided to take off last Sunday while things were still dry and warm. Our first stop was at the Wildwood Recreation Area for a few miles of hiking. On the way home, we stopped off at the Portland Polish Festival to soak in more of the international culture that permeates our fair city. Although we have no Polish blood, we were drawn by the thought of dance, costumes, beer gardens, and pierogies. Well, off to the pictures...

The MiniSnab hangs out in front of the Cascade Streamwatch underwater display. Small Coho Salmon fry can be seen behind her swimming around in a real habitat.

Here we stand in front of the rushing waters of the Salmon River.

Although autumn is fast approaching, flowers are still in bloom here in the foothills of the Cascades (there were some beautiful orchids, but the pictures came out blurry).

A boardwalk was built across a boggy wetland area. Most of the critters appeared to have buttoned down for the winter, but the winds rattled the cattail reeds and some unknown and unseen water fowl gave off an occasional squawk for us.

After driving off of the flanks of Mt. Hood, we headed to St. Stanislaus Catholic church for the Portland Polish Festival. Here is ladybug trying to hide the beer sign from me.

Here are some dancers. As a side note, there was a very nice exhibit honoring Pope John Paul II in one of the buildings.

Kids always do a great job of dancing. The music was like a polka, but definitely with a Polish and even Russian sounding twist. All in all, it was an enjoyable afternoon spent.

Fort Bean Update

Well, I ran out of gumption and the rains were coming.

It was time to waterproof Fort Bean and save the siding until spring. My Cheeto-stained mouse-softened wrists (well, Ry-Krisp and hummus-stained is more like it) were rattled after sawing about 50 or 75 cuts and pounding a few hundred nails. So I tacked up my entire unused tarp collection and bought that shiny black one you saw to keep the thing going until spring.

Radio Flyers make decent coffee tables when you get right down to it. The ribbons were actually leftovers from the 2004 and 2005 Independence Day parades in our neighborhood.

Clear plastic makes for ahm-bee-ahnce in lighting. The roof has both tar paper and plastic, so hopefully that will be enough. My neighbor gave me enough of his excess asphalt shingles to do the whole roof. Good deal and much appreciated.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Yet Another Sign The End is Near

Leave it to Japan to take yet another "innocent, family-oriented" mainstay of American culture and turn it into a sexual (or should I say "sexist"?) turn-on...

I'd say it lends a whole new meaning to the term "golden arches".

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Snabulus Caption/Debate Contest

I couldn't embed the image, as it is strictly copyright controlled (for obvious reasons). Check it out.

This eerie cloud appeared over Spain recently. Naturally, the Catholic Spaniards ("Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!") immediately claimed it was the face of Jesus.

However, many disagree, and there have been a lot of different opinions as to whose face it really is. Suggestions have included Ringo Starr and Osama Bin Laden. What do you think?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunny Day at Mt. Angel!

Well, I've just had about the best day so far someone could have! I left at 7:15 am for Mt. Angel, to meet up with a friend, and later some family members. It was a beautiful drive, and no traffic. I had a great time visiting and meeting her two children for the first time. She was kind enough to let me park in her driveway, and then I walked downtown to meet my sister & dad at the Fructsaule- "the Harvest Monument is a symbol of the boutiful harvest and of the goodness of creation." (from the Schedule of Events pamphlet). This year's theme is Harvesting Joyful Memories..Growing Future Dreams! (Please note, the picture is from last year's festival)

I really like how the vendor booths decorate with hop vines, wheat stalks, and other natural materials from the fall season. Many also include lights, as the festivities continue long after dark on Friday & Saturday. I was excited to meet another friend & her husband, who were working one of the many Knights of Columbus booths. It's serendipity like that really "make my day".

There's so much to see & do (the cool Car Show, the Kinder-garten, Weibentanz, Bier & Wiengartens, The Abbey, the Russian Museum, etc.) that you can really spend the whole day.

Secretly too,I think I really enjoyed this particular visit to Mt. Angel's Oktoberfest as I didn't have the little bean, so I was free to wander & explore as much or as little as I wanted!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fort Bean Update

I realize this is not the most exciting blog subject but since building a fort is more fun than sitting behind a keyboard, I didn't have much of a choice. It got too dark to show you, but the roof is framed and the plywood is nailed down. For this winter I am going to use roofing felt (tarpaper) overlain by a tarp to keep the rain out. I will figure out a roofing material next year. I may tarp the walls too depending on time and weather; I'm not sure yet.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Fun Night Out!

Last night, I was priviliged to attend the opening of an exhibit by Lillian Pitt, a Native American artist, who has also done several public works here in Portland. The exhibit is at the Oregon Historical Society, and the opening had wine, fancy hor d'ouvres, & a chance to hob nob with Portlandia glitterati!

Lillian's work was impressive, and I most liked the installations, sculpture, and jewelery. She does alot of contemporary work, but of course, I'm most intrigued her pieces that involved ancient petroglyphs.

I have to admit I was sorely tempted by her silver jewelry depicting her verion of the petroglyph called "Crow talking leave of the family" (see the petroglyph link above & scroll down, you'll see it). The silver bracelet was $350, and the matching necklace was $120! (you'll need to scroll down to the very bottom to see the pieces I'm talking about). I spent about 2 minutes thinking about how I could explain the purchase to my husband before reality set in... She's also been able to have Pendleton Woolen Mills make a limited edition tapestry of the same subject. My daughter was captivated by the Coyote & Stick Indian Mask pins.

There was also a traditional Blessing by an artist friend of Lillian's, Rick Bartow, who spoke about her incredible generousity & her work with young aspiring artists. He invoked the 4 directions four times, used an eagle feather, and chanted a Native American healing/blessing song near the end. He stated that to get the song, his elder (teacher?) had gone through Vietnam, they both had hard times in life; "we went through alot to get this song" were his exact words. It was very moving, and truly set a sacred & respectful tone for the viewing of Lillian's pieces.

Now I just need to win the lottery...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pictures on Demand

At the request of at least two people, here are a few pics from the fort and patio project

This is the current state of the structure. I need to buy a couple things to get the roof supports on. I still have lots of 2x6s so guess what the siding is going to be? My hammering hand hovers near hamburgeration.

Here are the lovely and stupid 4x4s planted into the deck slabs. Whose bright idea was that? (The cat is Jeebus.)

Does anybody need about 28 cinder blocks? Here they are. Time to learn about Craig's List I guess.

Road Kill May Help Solve the Energy Problem

At least the German inventor who came up with a machine that produces cheap (less than a fifth what is paid at the pump there) diesel from a mixture of garbage and dead cats claims that all the animals he has used thus far were roadkill.

Yes, you read that right. Cheap diesel from garbage and dead cats. The inventor claims he has already used his homemade fuel to drive more than 100,000 kilometers.

Naturally, animal lovers in his native country are not amused. The German Society for the Protection of Animals claims federal law specifically prohibits dead cats or dogs from being made into fuel.

Hmm...I wonder what other weird things German law specifically prohibits...

Sheesh. This gives a whole new meaning to, "Put a tiger in your tank," doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Turning a Deck into Fort Bean

When we bought this house, we inherited a number of do-it-yourself projects from the previous owners. Among these were a badly framed set of rooms nailed together in the garage, a mushy bathroom floor from an incorrectly installed bathtub, plumbing segments connected with automotive hose and an untreated grey-wood deck with an elevated area that we assumed was for a hot tub. There were several other items of lesser importance schlocked together throughout the place that I won't bore you with.

Thanks to some people who are way smarter than me, most of these items were fixed and the remainder were ignored. I've never liked it, but this year the ugly untreated deck finally got to me. It had to come out. One day, my brother came over and we started pulling nails out of boards and slowly dismantling the thing. I wanted to see if some of the wood was salvagable, so we tried to keep most of the boards intact. After removing the main floor of the elevated "hot tub zone," we found about 25 four-by-fours held into the ground with cement apparently to keep the hot tub from collapsing the deck.

Most of the post were held in place by a 2 foot deep, 10-12 inch diameter slug of cement (with a 4x4 in the center). It took a few days of hard work to get those puppies out of the ground. When Seymour helped me unload them at the transfer station (garbage dump), the buggers weighed in at about 1000 pounds. They charged about $45.00 to take it.

Eventually we removed the deck structure and we got a few more surprises. There are two cement slabs under the deck. The good news is that we can use these as a patio. The bad news is that a chunk is busted out in scallops every two feet or so to make room for 4x4 supports for the deck. Yeesh! Hadn't these people heard of deck kits? Either we dig them out leaving a heavily damaged cement area or figure out a use for them. I am thinking of creating an open air gazebo-like area where Wisteria can grow over a part of our patio. If I do, the 4x4s will stay.

At the end of the project, we ended up with a great number of 2x6 boards left over. I am using these to create Fort Bean for the MiniSnab & friends to hang out in. I have a plan in my head that is derived from an amalgam of different tree fort plans, shed plans, and modular dwelling plans perused from books and the Internet. To be honest, I've never done anything like this before and I hope that the new shelter is sturdy enough to last a few years. I have a few restrictions like an extremely limited budget and a need to make most of the structure out of nothing but 2x6s.

So far I've framed the floor and covered it. It is very remiscent of the tent platforms at a few Boy Scout camps I attended in my youth. I've framed all four walls (one will have a plexiglass window) but still have some nailing to do to get them all hooked together. I am going for a sloped roof, but I need to figure out if my scroll saw can handle the angles needed for supports (which are 2x6s). I did manage to buy a couple of sheets of plywood and some tar paper for the roof on my limited budget. A tarp will probably cover the roof until spring when I will decide on a roofing material. I'm winging it, but so far it is working.

Wish me luck. I hope my intuitive civil engineering skills are up to the task. So does the MiniSnab.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Snabulus, an Organic Depiction

This is an analysis of this blog generated by the Organic HTML website.

Bamboo, blueberries, and blogging. Mmm, mmm good.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Snabulus Caption Contest

In case you were wondering, this is some kind of tomato festival in Spain.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Pacific Crest Hike: Epilogue

I woke up the next morning in the comfort of a hotel bed. There was a dampness at the end of my right big toe and it was quite sore. The nail was discolored as well. I wondered whether a blister formed under the nail. There was a black spot at the base of my other big toe nail, but it didn't hurt so I ignored it. Although I hadn't mentioned it much earlier, my bronchial cough was nearly constant now. These factors along with our sore muscles and tired bodies convinced as that coming to Diamond Lake was a smart move. Our daughter, the MiniSnab, would be disappointed that we weren't going to spend another week in the Sky Lakes Wilderness to the south, but she would survive.

We showered again, went to breakfast, rested for a bit, then packed our backpacks. We had three hours to kill before our ride showed up, so we washed clothes at the laundromat, ate some lunch, and walked around waiting for the MiniSnab and Aunt Schvester to show up. We ate lunch and checked out all the watercraft, etc. The gals showed up and we made a short trip to the store, then I drove on out. It turned out that the MiniSnab was not overly keen on a weeklong hike with her parents, so that was a relief.

We entered the northern side of Crater Lake National Park, paid our $10 and headed on in. The road to the rim of the crater closely paralleled our planned Pacific Crest Trail route. The Lodgepole Desert Dust Circus turned into Les Champs d'Enfer (the plains of Hell). As we entered the Pumice Desert (the official name for Les Champs d'Enfer), the blast zone of Mt. Mazama after it collapsed into Crater Lake, the trees gradually turned into a bare pumice field. After the water-poor first 40 miles, we had no regrets about finishing the last 17 with no water and no shade. Good call to drive it in an air-conditioned vehicle instead.

We reached the rim road and found the first turnout to view the lake. Since I was driving, I saw the lake only in glimpses at first, but its sheer size was distracting. We parked the car and got our first view of this truly wondrous place. The deepness of blue in the waters was something I'd seen hundreds of times in pictures and yet it still hit me like a tons of bricks. It was no wonder that this was a sacred place of the Klamath Indians.

We eventually continued on to the Mazama Village Store for a potty break then onward to the town of Fort Klamath to check in to our hotel. We were soon out of the forest and into the golden grasslands north of Klamath Lake. We found our hotel, the Aspen Inn, and checked in. The people that run the place were friendly and full of information about the area. In fact, they gave us a guide to the region which they participated in creating. We found our room, unloaded our food into the refrigerator (no restaurants for miles), and settled in for the day. The grounds of the Inn were nice and green. The water source for the Fort Klamath area is an artesian well and the water table runs just over a foot under the surface. I found out during an after dinner walk that free-flowing water going into roadside ditches is a haven for mosquitoes. I noticed I was getting bitten, but not until the MiniSnab informed me of several on each leg did I realize that the walk was over for me. I slathered on a think layer of Bullfrog sunscreen which the skeeters apparently thought was sugar plum pudding. That raised my visible mosquito bite total for the trip to probably 30 or so. I was not amused.

We headed back to the Park the next day to view the wonders of the area. We bought crap at the visitor's center, watched a ranger explain the features and forms of the Crater Lake area, and gawked at the number of people and the places they came from. Many languages bubbled forth as we passed different groups of people. License plates showed that this was truly a national park. I found my attention eaten up by the vastness of the crater, the unexpected largeness of Wizard Island, the distant details of the crater walls, silhouettes of trees against that brilliant dark blue, and the shorelines transitioning from gray rock, to gray water, then tropical green, then teal, finally to blue. I took many pictures, but pictures are not the same as wrapping your eyes around the vastness of the place.

Digression: I've always found that places with great views always create a quiet place inside me that draws me to just stay and look; to let my mind wander out and touch every rock, tree, and cliff and to perhaps zoom over the areas like a bird of prey, but instead of mice of chipmunks, my prey is beauty, detail, and evidence of the story of the place. Always there is the pull back to where I belong among people. A voice asking where to go next or a fly landing on the forehead is the trigger that does it. End of Digression.

In addition to the Visitor's Center and the view from there, there were other attractions around the lake. The Annie Creek canyon carves its way through a formation of gray, soft ash forming steep walls. Along these walls are places where hot steam and water (called fumaroles) pushed their way to the surface some time in the past. The rock around the fumaroles fused and became harder than the surrounding ash deposits. As the creek eroded the ash, the harder rock around the fumaroles remained leaving pinnacles that look like open-air stalagmites. There is a place in the park called, The Pinnacles, where this can be seen in great detail. There are other mysteries in the park such as The Phantom Ship and the Crater Lake lodge that I will leave to the gentle reader to discover.

We headed back to Fort Klamath and checked out the Historical Museum. A Civil War reenactment was going on at the time. The museum itself was small and most of the items within were civil war uniforms and weaponry. Fort Klamath was found during the Civil War and 2,000 troops were stationed there. Obviously, there were wartime implications to the deployment. The guy running the general store said outright that he sympathized with the South and that the war was not about slavery, but about state's rights (like the right to keep slavery legal). Funny, I didn't see any Southern states defending state's rights on marijuana or the right-to-die initiatives...but I digress...again. Since we are Americans, the side that won, we opted to buy as little as possible from this guy.

After our second night at Aspen Inn, we loaded up, thanked the owners for their hospitality and good will, and headed north on Highway 97 through Bend and Madras. We stopped at the Warm Springs Indian museum since Aunt Schvester hadn't been there before. I saved a few bucks on admission by hanging out with the guy running the museum that day. I didn't catch his name, but he had some perspectives on how things are at the reservation that I hadn't thought about before. Some of the living conditions there are pretty bad. I am not a big gambler, but it reinforced the fact that the cash flow brought in through casinos is important to changing this situation.

We drove on home from there and settled back in to our lives at home. Each night I took off my socks and I would see more fluid where my toe touched. It was also becoming red around the nail, so I went to the doctor for that and my bronchitis. He confirmed that the toe was infected and that I could lose both my big toenails. He prescribed antibiotics (OmniCef) that were used for both the toe and the bronchitis. The toe healed up quickly, but the bronchitis took a while longer. It might have been viral, so the antibiotics wouldn't have helped.

Ladybug and I are both excited about the prospect of getting out into the wilderness again both on shorter weekend trips or on a better-planned longer trip. We learned a lot about what we needed (more salty food and bread) and what we didn't need (3 million pounds of trail mix). We will definitely fit our plans to our physical condition better so we can enjoy more and grunt less. We also thank you for sharing a bit of our lives as we embarked on this adventure.

Friday, September 02, 2005