Saturday, January 30, 2010

Curtiss P-40N Warhawk

I like war planes with teeth, they seem much more fierce. :-)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quizzical Wednesday - Thinking

You Think Objectively

Your brain works best when you are able to think in steps.

You like procedures and routines. You are good at staying focused and on task.

You are excel at developing workable solutions to difficult problems. You simply look at the facts.

You have an excellent memory, and you are a quick thinker. You can sort out what's important from what's not.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Help Haiti

I'm finding the news out of Haiti harder and harder to comprehend as the rescue and recovery efforts continue in Port-au-Prince. I am overwhelmed with emotion when I see pictures like these, hear of the growing death toll and read that aid workers can't get supplies and assistance to those in need. It is just so devastating.

But then I hear stories about survivors being found 8 days after the quake and news that $220 million dollars that has been donated to relief organizations I feel a bit more optimistic that given enough time and assistance the citizens of Haiti just may be able to put their lives back together again.

As a Habitat for Humanity supporter I have received almost daily updates of the activities on the ground in Haiti from the information supplied by the Global Disaster Response team. Habitat is not "new" to Haiti, they have been working to provide adequate housing there for 26 years and in that time have provided 2,000 families with housing through new home construction, progressive building, home repairs and improvements. They are currently working to erect quake-resistant homes for the some of the estimated 1.5 million Haitians that are homeless. The homes are simple steel-framed "core houses" and cost roughly $3,000 each to construct. They are doing this despite the fact that the Habitat offices were destroyed in the quake.

I am passionate about my work with Habitat because I believe there is no greater basic human need than a roof over one's head. Habitat provides that to people all over the world regardless of race, education or religion. If you are looking for a way to help in Haiti, I urge you to donate to Habitat's efforts there, you can do so by clicking on the banner below.

Habitat for Humanity International - Haiti Earthquake

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 350,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.75 million people. For more information, or to donate or volunteer, visit

Thursday Funny - Truly Sleepless in Seattle

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quizzical Wednesday - Teaching

You Should Teach Second Grade

You are an excellent communicator and instructor. You would take teaching seriously.

You know how to present a subject in many ways. You are good at coming up with examples.

You are both supportive and challenging. You know when to push, and you know when to praise.

You have a lot of energy, and you don't get discouraged easily. You don't give up on people.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quizzical Wednesday - Life travels

You Hike Through Life

Your journey through life is challenging, exhilarating, and at times difficult.

You are curious about the world, and you're willing to go off the beaten path to satisfy your thirst for knowledge.

Your mind is always alert and churning something over. You enjoy solving problems, and adversity makes you feel alive.

You are both independent and skeptical. You often need to see something with your own eyes before you'll believe it.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Yesterday marked a milestone in my life. Yesterday was my 7-year "cancer-free" anniversary.

Seven years. Wow. Although this anniversary was different than the others I've marked as this one just a regular Sunday. I didn't think about it much, actually I forgot about it until late in the day. I was not consciously trying to *forget* it but rather had a lot of projects happening simultaneously. When it did occur to me I though about sending a tweet or writing a blog entry but then opted for other activities including my latest baking triumph.

It isn't that I don't care about 7-years and it isn't that 7-years isn't significant, it is. I've always been a bit timid about celebrating too quickly or too hard because you never know what is right around corner. After all my mother had a recurrence of her cancer within weeks of celebrating her 5-year mark and it scared me to the core.

While lying in bed last night, trying to get my brain to shut off and sleep to take over I thought about why the day hadn't been more emotional than other anniversaries had been and the thought that came to mind over and over again was... "Time heals all wounds." Time has certainly lessened the sting of the physical and emotional scars of cancer. Time has made me more confident and less afraid of losing my life. Time has made me feel more normal.

So here is to SEVEN, I'm looking forward to hanging out with you for a while and not just because you started off with a clean scan and a *good* call from the doctor, but because you seem more stable and less emotional than 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Challah: BBA Challenge #6

It feels good to be back in the swing of things and back to baking bread every weekend. I was looking forward to Challah. Since reading the section on braiding bread in the preparation to start the BBA Challenge I have been dying to braid me some bread.

Challah: BBA Challenge #6, originally uploaded by JewellsinSEA.

This was an uncomplicated and easy bread. Mix, proof, knead, proof, shape, proof, bake. I completed the tasks while doing some other projects around the house. I was excited about the braiding but also thought it would be far more complicated than it was. I'm really pleased with the results and hope that it tastes as good as it looks.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Casatiello: BBA Challenge #5 (#bba)

With the holidays behind me it was time to begin the BBA Challenge again. Over the weekend I created Casatiello which is an Italian variation to Brioche with meat and cheese tucked inside for a savory treat.

Casatiello: BBA Challenge #5, originally uploaded by JewellsinSEA.

I chose to make mine with salami and sharp cheddar cheese as I prefer it to provolone. I started the recipe a bit late in the day but was able to complete it before bed. The initial proofing time of 90 minutes didn't yield the size Reinhart suggested so I gave it a bit more time with no change so I moved ahead. I was pleased with the results. It is not only beautiful to look at with also beautiful to the palate. The richeness of the bread mixes well with the savory flavor of the salami and the cheese.

Next stop is Challah. I've been excited about braided breads since completing the reading prior to beginning the Challenge, so I think Challah will be fun!

Recipe of the Week: Classic Pound Cake

In 2009, I discovered some fabulous food blogs which have provided me with new skills, new ideas and a whole lot of new recipes. As a result I have decided to start a regular post of my own recipes in some feeble attempt to repay my debt to all those that have provided me recipes and ideas that have won me praise. Every Friday I will be posting a new recipe. Not all will be my original recipes (sources will always be cited) but they are sure to be crowd pleasers.

First up, Pound Cake. Don forwarded this recipe to me via IM last summer which prompted an in-depth discussion. I had never considered why it is called Pound Cake, it just was. Maybe it was because that is what Sarah Lee wanted it call it, I didn't know. So you can image the "Aha!" moment I had when I realized that it earned its name because it is traditionally made with a pound of the four major ingredients. If you weren't aware of that fact you can read more about it here.

I made it for the first time a few days later and was delighted with the results. It was the best Pound Cake I've ever had in my entire life. And I though Sarah Lee was good, hah! You can see additional pictures of the preparation here. Enjoy!

Pound Cake, originally uploaded by JewellsinSEA.

Classic Pound Cake

Yield: 2 loaves (24 servings) or one 10-inch tube cake

6 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 package (8 ounces) cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces
2¾ cups sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
4 tsp pure vanilla
3 cups sifted cake flour (see note)

Let eggs stand at room temperature about 30 minutes or until they are room temperature (no more than 2 hours).

Generously butter and lightly flour two 8-by-4-by-2-inch loaf pans or one 10-inch tube pan.

Using large bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cold butter about 2 minutes on low speed, occasionally raising to moderately high speed for 5 seconds to dislodge butter from paddle. Add cream cheese. Beat on low speed 3 minutes with occasional short bursts on high speed to dislodge mixture from paddle.

Beat butter and cream-cheese mixture until waxy and well-blended. Still mixing on low, add sugar in a slow, continuous stream; this should take 1½ to 2 minutes. Add salt. Continue creaming butter and cream-cheese mixture for 5 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl once halfway through. Increase speed to medium; continue mixing 2 minutes more, scraping once.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating 20 to 30 seconds after each addition or just until each egg is fully incorporated before adding next egg. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl after first three eggs. Beat in vanilla with last egg.

Gradually add about 2½ cups of flour on low speed, mixing until just blended; this should take about 1 to 1½ minutes. Turn off mixer. Fold in remaining flour by hand with a rubber spatula, just until combined.

Turn batter into prepared pan or pans. Shake pan or pans gently to distribute batter. Run a spatula in zigzag pattern through batter. Drop filled pan or pans from a height of about 6 inches onto kitchen counter to dislodge any large air pockets.

Place on center rack of cold oven. Turn oven setting to 300°F. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1½ hours without opening oven door for the first 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Bake 1 hour 45 minutes for tube pan.) Test for doneness by carefully inserting a cake tester in center. Cake is done when tester comes out clean.

Transfer to cooling rack. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before serving.

Note: You can substitute 2½ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour in place of cake flour.

Source: Scott Peacock, Seattle Times: Tips — and a recipe — for the perfect pound cake

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Brioche: BBA Challenge #4 (#bba)

Coming off the triumph of my fabulous bagels, I decided that I couldn't make just Brioche alone. I decided that this rich and yummy creation deserved to be served with something fabulous so I created an entire meal around it. I made a beef tenderloin with a wine reduction sauce, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. It was yummy!

Brioche: BBA Challenge #4, originally uploaded by JewellsinSEA.

Reinhart gives three options for Brioche: Rich Man's Brioche, Middle Class Brioche and Poor Man's Brioche. I opted to make the Rich Man's Brioche because I was intrigued by the OBSCENE amount of butter it called for. The process was uneventful but I only rested the dough for the minimum time and was surprised that it hadn't chilled as thoroughly as I had hoped. When I do it again I will certainly chill it overnight. I don't have true Brioche molds but I do have some metal molds for making Taco Salad shells and I decided to use those. They baked up beautifully as seen above.

The following morning I made french toast with some of the leftovers and have now ruined myself for anything besides Brioche French Toast. Wow!

With Thanksgiving and Christmas looming around the corner, I decided following the Brioche to take a 6 week break from the BBA Challenge to deal with the wonderful *challenges* of the holiday season. With the new year will certainly come new bread!

Thursday Funny - Billy's Balloon

Dedicated to my brothers. They will know why.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Bagels: BBA Challenge #3 (#bba)

The idea of making Bagels scared me. Terrified me. Bagels are one of those things that are made by professionals, not me. I read and re-read the recipe to make sure that I had all the steps down and began the task.

Bagels: BBA Challenge #3, originally uploaded by JewellsinSEA.

A few weeks prior to my bagel making adventure I stumbled across this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread on Pinch My Salt. Being a BIG fan of Pumpkin Spice anything, I couldn't wait to try it. So when deciding about the type of bagels to make I knew I wanted to try my hand at a Cinnamon Sugar variety. I followed the recipe precisely and was oh so pleased when they came out of the boiling water looking very bagel-like. I then coated the top with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and baked them. They were delightful, especially with the Pumpkin Spice spread. And I was SO proud of myself for conquering the terrifying bagel recipe and for making up my own variation and having it turn out perfectly. This is a huge confidence booster for me. Hopefully from this point on I won't be so damn afraid of every recipe turning into a disaster.

Quizzical Wednesday: Direction

You Are North

Like a Viking, you are assertive, decisive, and dominant. You seek power and destroy those in your way.

People admire that you are so confident and independent. You seem to have the world figured out.

Sometimes you come across as pushy and aggressive... not that you mind! You like being seen as tough.

You make a fairly good leader, especially in times that require grit and ruthlessness. You are a warrior.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Artos (Greek Celebration Bread): BBA Challenge #2 (#bba)

The second recipe in the BBA Challenge is Greek Celebration Bread. Reinhart gives several different variations to try, I chose the basic Artos to begin with. I'm still feeling the need to stick with the basics and not venture off too crazily and didn't want to create a Greek Disaster Bread.

The above picture is the bread right out of the oven. I really loved this recipe. I loved creating the barm starter and I loved the savory scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice penetrating the house as it was baking. It was really beautiful once it had been glazed and the sesame seeds were added, I wish I had taken a picture but I forgot.

This is a recipe that I could see myself making again and think it would be fabulous for the next time (or rather first time) I decide to host a brunch or shower.

Next up... Bagels. Still scared.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Anadama: BBA Challenge #1 (#bba)

In October, I started the BBA Challenge. I completed a recipe weekly until mid-November when I decided to take a break for the holidays. I have completed the first 5 breads but haven't completed the blog posts yet so I will be catching up over the next few days.

I spent the first week after purchasing the book reading the 100+ pages of background and education at the beginning. I was fascinated by it and in the end was glad that I took the time to read it. I loved reading about Peter Reinhart's adventures in bread making and took to heart that bread making should be a distraction free experience so that you can really experience it. I set out to pick up the ingredients for the first recipe with an incredible amount of enthusiasm.

Anadama: BBA Challenge #1, originally uploaded by JewellsinSEA.

Anadama is a solid grainy bread with roots in New England. It takes two days to complete the process but the task for the first day is simply preparing the sponge (a mixture of cornmeal and water), the rest of the work is done on the second day.

My biggest fear with baking bread is that it won't rise. Every time I leave a recipe to proof (rise) I cross my fingers that it will actually rise. I don't know where this fear comes from because I have never made a recipe that didn't rise. The initial proofing worked marvelously with the Anadama but I didn't do an adequate job of punching it down so the final loaves were bigger than they should have been and had some air pockets. I'm still struggling with beating the air out of the bread that just an hour or so before I had been hoping and praying would rise. I hope this stupid fear will go away with time and more experience.

I liked the end result and used it for sandwiches and toast throughout the week. Looking forward to next week's challenge which is Greek Celebration Bread and dreading recipe #3 which is Bagels. Scary.

2009 in Cities

I guess this is an annual thing now that I've done it twice, you can read last year's list here. The following cities are places I have visited for long day trips or overnight trips in 2009:
I was "out of town" for a total of 31 nights in 2009, that is 8% of the year. 2009 was filled with adventures and amazing experiences. Here hoping that 2010 is filled with many more!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Never a Year Like '09

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Six blocks from the Space Needle and we can't see a damn thing thanks to the weather. It was still a great celebration with friends! :-)