Sunday, September 16, 2012

Too Many Tomatoes...

This summer was long and hot...which is apparently the prefect weather for growing a garden. Our garden grow into a jungle this year and we have more tomatoes than we know what to do with—I've been picking a pound or two a day since the beginning of August. So, I had to come up with a couple of easy ways to use and preserve this amazing bounty (and waste as like as possible).

Fresh Sauce

I planted two varieties of cherry tomatoes this year and they produce more fruit than the other varieties I planted. We've had so many, I could have stocked the local grocery store—there is no way we could eat them all ourselves.

I came up with a very easy way to use them and store them for later...freezable pasta sauce.  This sauce has a wonderful fresh taste that really showcases the flavor of the sweet little tomatoes...and it's fat free! It could not be more simple to make. Here's how to do it:

1 to 2 pounds of cherry tomatoes
3 to 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 to 10 leafs of  fresh basil
1 tsp crush red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 to 2 tsp white pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend the tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a food processor and then pour them into a large sauce pan. Heat the tomato liquid over medium heat. Once the liquid is cooking add the other ingredients.  Cook it until the liquid thickens up—about an hour.

At this point, you can either serve it over pasta, or add chicken stock and cream to make a soup. What ever you don't use can be frozen and used throughout the winter. 

Freezing Instead of Canning

I planted two Roma tomato plants with the intention of canning them, but I discovered a much better way to preserve them...freezing!

Canning is labor intensive and you need a lot of ripe tomatoes on hand at one time. My Roma plants have produced lots of fruit, but I have not had a great enough quantity of ripe tomatoes at the same time to make canning worth while. Freezing has worked out for me much better because I can do small batches. Once or twice a week I freeze what's on hand.

The process is simple. Blanch them in boiling water for about 1 minute, peel them, pop them in a freezer bag, and done! Since I started preserving my Romas this way, I've discover this works for the large heirloom varieties I have too.

Now I'm looking forward to a winter filled with yummy sauces, soups, and stews made with summer fresh tomatoes from my own backyard!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bye Bye Long Tresses

When Charley and I got engaged three years ago I started to grow my hair for the wedding. At the time my hair was short—about chin length. I'd worn it short for many many years, but I wanted to wear it up for our wedding, so I started to grow it.

After the wedding I'd grown attached to it and kept growing it. I'd heard about organizations like Locks of Love and considered donating it as some point—but then a one night last summer, while I was surfing  YouTube for videos of my favorite band (the Avett Brothers, of course) I came across this video and I was inspired:

This was the first time I'd heard of Wigs for Kids. I did a little research and what I learned made me sure Wigs for Kids was the charity I wanted to give my hair to. They work with salons around the country to give kids who suffer from hair loss (do to cancer treatment or conditions like alopecia) wigs, hairpieces, or hair prosthetics—whatever they need—completely free of charge. Amazing!

The only problem was Wigs for Kids requires more hair for donation than other charities—12 inches, which is 2 inches more than Locks of Love.  So I'd have to stick it out longer. Last summer, when I decided to donate to Wigs for Kids, I had about 6 inches in length. Thirteen month later, and almost all of the way through this wickedly hot summer, I finally had enough hair to make the donation. Hooray!

Here's a few pictures of the big day:





I have to say, it was much more emotional to part with my hair than I thought it would be. I'm more of a short hair kind of a gal, but I guess I'd become attached. It was part of me, I suppose. But it was also a relief to get rid of it—I felt like I was myself again. And it was exhilarating to know that I was doing something that would help some child somewhere rebuild their self esteem. What a crazy mix of emotions. But well worth it. In fact, I've just decided, I'm going to do it again. And I invite you to join fact, I challenge you to join me. If you're game, let me know...maybe we can get a fundraiser event in the works.

Thanks to Wigs for Kids for the great work you're doing and thanks to the Avett Brothers and Crackerfarm for inspiring me. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Introducing Alice!

Last month Charley and I welcomed a new member to the family. Her name is Alice, and she's the most adorable puppy you've ever seen. She's a Pug/Boston Terrier mix...sometimes referred to as a Pugston or Bug. We've had her for a month and she's already double in size. She's a handful, but she's also loads of fun.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Work of Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier - Self Portrait
A few weeks ago Charley and I attend a taping of This American  Life beamed live into our local movie theater. It was fantastic! It included all the wonderful elements you usually get on the radio show, plus dynamite visual elements like dance and film. The show was great from start to finish, but if I had to pick a favorite part it would have to be the segment about Vivian Maier, who, until that evening I'd never heard of. I find her photography and her story fascinating. 

Vivian Maier may be one of the greatest street photographers of the twentieth century, but until recently her work and talent were undiscovered.  She spent most of her life working as a nanny for several families in the Chicago area. She was a loner and a hoarder who was known to speak her mind. In her free time she strolled the streets, snapping  thousands of photos with her Rolleiflex—photos that she never shared with anyone. No one saw the beautiful, haunting images she captured until 2007, when over 100,000 of her negatives were discovered in a storage locker auction. 

Here are some of her amazing photos: 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

AntiGravity Yoga at Westminster College

This is one of the reasons I love my job at Westminster College. Yesterday I got to try AntiGravity Yoga as part of a demonstration for the local media. Westminster is currently the only college/university offering Antigravity Yoga classes  in the U.S. Our instructor, Tamer Begum, is a Westminster student and is the nephew of AntiGravity creator, Chris Harrison. 

The class was so much fun...and a great full body workout. I'm pretty sore today. 

Westminster College
That me in the front (Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Westminster College
(Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Westminster College
Tamer Begum helping me into a pose (Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Westminster College
(Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)
AntiGravity Yoga is a hybrid that combines traditional yoga poses with aerial arts, Pilates and dance. For more information about Antigravity Yoga click here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Paris for a Day

While we were in London last month we decided, what the heck, let's fly to Paris for the day. So we flew out early one morning and flew back that evening. Some of us were exhausted, some of us were hung-over, and the weather was gloomy, but we had a great time. We had two wonderful French meals, visited the Musee d'Orsay (amazing!), and strolled through beautiful parks...and Charley eat five pastries (three short of his goal).

Here are some photos I took that day:

Lovely lady

Old and new


Old bike

SACREBLEU! (lovely shop window and my reflection)

Statues outside Musee d'Orsay

No caption needed...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

London for a Week

Last month we had the opportunity to visit my cousin, Natascha, and her husband, Duncan, in London. It was amazing! We had a fabulous time. Here are the highlights:

  • We visited lots of museums: the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Modern, and the Natural History Museum...and the Tower of London.
  • We eat tons of incredible food. The highlight was dinner at Roast where I eat a rabbit, cider, and Herefordshire snail pot pie...amazing!
  • I was introduced to the delights of the Full English Breakfast, which consists of (for those of you who don't know) piles of breakfast meats, eggs, tomatoes, baked beans, and black heaven! And can I just say, black pudding is magical? I'm totally obsessed with it. Happily, I've already located a store on Salt Lake that sells it.
  • We saw oodles of amazing art. We saw the Lucian Freud Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and a Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern. Both exhibitions were fantastic and once in a life time experiences. 
  • Natascha and I attended the Royal Ballet's production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It was spectacular, but sadly our seat were not very good. We had a great time anyway. 
  • And most importantly...I got to hold an owl!! A real live owl!! Talk about once in a life time.

Me and an owl!!
Baby owl at the Natural History Museum
Mews houses in my cousin's neighborhood (South Kensington)
Tower of London

View from the inside of the Tower of London out
Charley with wings

Natascha and I in Hyde Park

Charley and I in Hyde Park

Pretty London street

Our wonderful hosts

London scenery

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Heart Portland

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of my best friends in Portland, Oregon – and it was lovely. I’ve been to Portland many time and I’m always enchanted – this trip, my first in over two years, was no exception.

I was visiting my friend Nicole (who I’ve known for 18 years) and her delightful family. We had a great time eating, shopping, and going to the ballet.

 Day One – Lots of Buses

First we went Tasty n Sons for lunch. I had the best roast beef sandwich I’ve ever had.
Roast beef at Tasty n Sons
Then we went vintage clothes shopping in a bus…yes a bus. The shop Lodekka is located in an old double decker bus. I found a lovely 1950’s dress for summer. I can’t wait to wear it. 

Vintage Dress Shop Lodekka
Later we had dinner in a bus…yep, dinner in a bus. We had grilled cheese sandwiches at the Grilled Cheese Grill, which is one of Portland’s many food trucks with a permanent location. The dining room was a converted school bus. The grilled cheese was mediocre, but eating in a school bus was fun.

Day Two – Giselle and Ice Cream

On the second day we attended a matinee of Giselle preformed by Oregon Ballet Theater. The performance was designed for children and they only preformed the 2nd act – Nicole’s daughter, Naomi came along. She and I enjoyed every minute of the afternoon. 

Nicole, Naomi, and I with a costume from Giselle
That evening Nicole and I sneaked out for some gourmet ice cream from Salt and Straw.  Salt and Straw is known for their ice cream which is handmade in small-batches using only all-natural dairy with the best local, sustainable and organic ingredients. I was intrigued by their strange and exotic flavor combinations…and of course I had to try some of the wackier flavors.

I sampled Bone Marrow and Smoked Cherry (delicious) and Pear with Blue Cheese (also delicious), but finally ordered Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Black Pepper (super delicious). 

Day Three – Shopping and Biscuits

On the third day Nicole and I explored her neighborhood (Alberta Arts), did some shopping, and had a wonderful lunch at Pine State Biscuits before I headed home.

The Reggie Deluxe at  Pine State Biscuits 

I’m not kidding you when I say the biscuit sandwich I had was one of the best things I’ve every eaten…It was really amazing. Fried chicken, bacon, cheese, a fried egg, and the best gravy I’ve ever had, all piled up on a delectable biscuit…heaven!