Friday, May 22, 2009

May be taking a bit of a break....

I have school to complete in the next few weeks, and I just lost someone I care deeply about.

I wanted to take a moment and say a few words about my stepdad...

Belton "Brian" Hammond came into my life when I was almost 19. I had just moved out on my own at that time, and while I didn't recognize it then, I was REALLY in need of a good father figure in my life.

For the past 21 years Brian filled that role for me. He had no children of his own- and it is possible that he did not realize what he was getting into when he stepped into our lives, but he was a DAD to my sister and I, and he was GRANDPA to our children.

Brian passed away unexpectedly on Saturday morning. He went very peacefully in his sleep. He was such a kind, kind man and I am just going to miss him terribly.

Monday, May 11, 2009

May be the best meal in the worst cafe...

Over the last 13 years that I have been employed at the Boeing Company,I have had some really nice opportunities:
  • I got to land a 767 and then crash one in the flight simulator.
  • I got to listen to BonnieDunbar talk about her space shuttle experience
  • They paid forme to get both my undergrad and now my MBA.

Overall, Boeing is a good company to work for. I can only think of two negatives:

  1. Parking is horrible, and
  2. The food in the cafeteria really sucks.

About a year ago, I boycotted our company cafeteria. Being fairly frugal, my husband and I try to plan ahead and bring lunches from home. The cafeteria (or "food simulator" as it is affectionately known by my engineering team) is pretty expensive and the quality of the food they serve leaves a LOT to be desired.

Today was one of those days where we were rushed to get out the door,and while I had a good breakfast, our lunches were not packed. I was hoping to eat off site, but we carpooled and my husband was stuck in I resigned myself to lunch in the Boeing cafeteria; I figured that I could either make myself an $8 salad (healthy, but expensive) or a $2cheeseburger (cheap and fairly nasty)- I would probably regret both later, so I headed downstairs and get it over with.

Much to my surprise, chef Martin Yan was visiting today. (How could I ever have predicted that?) He was at the entrance of the cafeteria,displaying his knife skills for a crowd of hungry (and no less relieved)co-workers. A very good lunch was served for $8. I had orange chicken and a lettuce wrap with rice and a potsticker. I threw in a small cupcake, because I felt like celebrating my good fortune.

Couldn't snap a picture as cameras and picture taking are prohibitted within the Boeing site- you are just going to have to believe me really was Mr Yan, and the lunch was fabulous!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May be the best drive in Washington....

Simon and I took a little Sunday trip up Chuckanut Drive yesterday. Exit 231 off of I 5 North takes you through the small town of Bow, Washington and all the way to Bellingham.
The view is spectacular along this forested road, lots of wonderful seascapes along the way.

The best reason for going up Chuckanut Drive (in our culinary opinion) is Taylor's Shellfish. Some of the world's best Oysters comes from the waters along Chuckanut. We stopped at the farm and picked up a dozen Oysters for dinner and a bag of manila clams. We also snacked on a package of smoked oysters on the way home.

To prepare oysters and clams you must first clean them. This is a simple process. For the oysters just soak them in cold water for about 20 minutes, then scrub them with a brush.

For the clams, do the same, but we add a few tablespoons of corn meal to the water.

We placed the cleaned clams in a steamer with a lid. Gently boil the water. The clams will all open up when they are done. (If the clam doesn't open...don't eat it.)

We prepared the oysters on a small fire pit in our yard. We let the firewood burn down to coals and placed a metal bbq grill on top. The oysters were set on the grill, with the flatter side of the shell on top. As these cook they will spit out some of their juices and you want to retain as much of this fluid as possible, so having the deeper side of the shell act like a bowl is the key. After about 7-10 minutes the oysters will begin to make a popping noise. Remove the oysters from the grill. I used an oven mitt in one hand to hold the hot oyster while using a paring knife in my other hand to open the shell. (I could not find an oyster knife at our local shop so had to improvise.) The technique worked quite well. It didn't take long to get all 12 of the oysters open.

I served the shell fish with a nice tossed salad, some crusty artisan bread and a butter sauce:

1 Stick of butter

3 Tsp tarragon

1 clove garlic

A dash or two of tabasco sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste.

May You Know How Much You Are Loved and Appreciated...

I love you MOM!

Friday, May 8, 2009

May Beer Review...Introducing my brother, Dennis

This is my brother Dennis:

Dennis likes beer.

He likes beer so much that he has decided to write a monthly beer review. He has been posting on his facebook page, but he has given me exclusive rights to include this month's review in my blog. Enjoy!

In heat drink wheat! May beer review of Flying Dog in-heat wheat hefe-weizen ale.

Okay so I'm usually pretty good about my promises. Last month I promised you that I would be reviewing a trappist ale...Well, This month I did drink a nice trappist monk style ale called Omegang. I truely enjoyed it..every drop. Unfortunately with it's ABV of 8.4 large bottle size and the mood I was in while drinking it I had a little trouble in the writing department. I have still kept my promise a few months ago about laying off of my reviews of IPAs. This month I feel we need to ring in Spring with what used to be one of my favorite styles of Beer that I regularly ordered when I lived in Germany. Ladies and Gentlemen the Hefe-weizen...Beyond being another example of the exception to "i" before "e" except after "c", hefe-weizen is a nice spring/summer drinking beer.

FLYING DOG BREWERY'S "In-heat Wheat Hefe-weizen. Denver, CO

POUR: Like a hefeweizen should pour. Nice thickish beer with a suitable airy head... As the hefe is poured in a nice cloud of yeast fills the glass in beautiful swirls.


A NOT SO SHORT, but important, sidebar about pouring Hefeweizen: _____________________________________

Hefeweizen is not served on Draught in Germany. It is strictly a bottle beer. There is a reasoning behind this. "Hefe" means "yeast" in German and is added as a top-fermentation to the beer. This yeast will settle to the bottom of the bottle and is supposed to be poured into the beer last when it is poured to glass. This is accomplished by leaving just a little beer in the bottle and setting it on it's side for a moment and rolling the bottle back and forth. You can also swirl the beer around in the bottle and to get all the yeast you can. This yeast is then poured at last into the beer where it will fall down through the beer and cause a secondary chemical reaction in the beer that creates a unique flavor. This seemingly long ritual for pouring this kind of beer is worth it and can't really be accomplished when served from a keg. I don't know about you, but I'm not going to try and swirl the yeast out of the keg. The best glass to use with this kind of beer is also a tall bulbous weizen glass. This is a requirement in Germany, but usually only a lucky happenstance here in the Unites States. A tulip shaped challice style glass will do in a pinch for taking in this ale's aromas as well but I still prefer the weizen glasses.

As if that wasn't enough...a little more about the glass (thank you Wikipedia)

A wheat beer glass is a glass that is used to serve wheat beer, known also as Weizenbier/Weissbier or Weißbier. The German glass generally holds 0.5 litres with room for foam or "head". It is much taller than a pint glass, and is considerably wider at the top than at the base, with a slight hourglass taper toward the bottom. This design purportedly allows greater production of foam, as well as increased exposure to air when the glass is tilted back. In other countries such as Belgium, the glass may be 0.25 litres or 0.33 litres.Because of its unique shape, extra care must be taken when pouring a beer into a wheat beer glass to produce the desired head volume. The traditional method of pouring Weißbier is to first rinse the glass with cold water, then, without drying the glass, hold the bottle and glass almost horizontally while slowly pouring the beer. When the level of the beer touches the lip of the bottle, slowly begin to bring the glass upright. When there is less than one inch (or a few centimeters) of beer left in the bottle, swirl the bottle vigorously to pick up the sediment and create foam, which is poured on top.[1] If done correctly, the foam should just crest the lip of the glass without pouring over.Another method is to open the bottle and put the glass over it. Then turn both. Take the bottle out of the glass slowly while the beer moves from the bottle to the glass. This must be done very slowly, without fast movements.Due to the top-heavy weight distribution and relatively thin glass, care must also be taken when touching glasses while toasting; one should touch the thicker bases of the glasses instead. Most wheat beer glasses have a relatively large surface area in proportion to their volume, which causes them to warm quicker than steins or pilsner glasses.


ABV: 4.7

COLOR:Amber and cloudy

NOSE: Yeasty and rounded with orangey citrus hints.

1st IMPRESSION: I am propelled in my memory to springtime in Stuttgart! Heavenly smooth and authentic flavor of wheat and yeast.

2nd IMPRESSION:thick and creamy with orange and clove flavors dancing about on my palate. There is a warmth and almost comfort that comes from drinking this ale.

MUSINGS: I am very happy with this ale. It is the most authentic hefeweizen I have had in long time that was domestically brewed. The one critical point I have for this beer is the same as I have for most beers in the United States and that is that it comes to us in a 12 oz bottle. German beer bottles are bigger and you don't fill the .5 liter glass nearly as well as you can with the German bottles. I guess I will just have to drink two of them.

PAIRING: breaded chicken or veal with a nice stocky white sauce over spetzle (a german dumpling that reminds me more of noodles than dumplings) perhaps some julienned green beans and carrots. Grilled chicken or even trout would be nice with this ale too.

Next month's beer I will be trying again at the trappist style ale. (but no promises)

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day, May Day, May Day...

Just a little information I learned today....
The distress call actually has nothing to do with May Day (the first of May)....I wondered this myself and did a little research. The term is derived from the french : 'venez m'aider', meaning 'come help me'. The call is always given three times in a row ("Mayday Mayday Mayday") to prevent mistaking it for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call.
This month I will be focused on finishing school! (Happy Dance!) We have also started to work with a designer and a landscaper to finally get our home improvements underway. We have sent out a distress signal- so to speak. It has become quite clear that neither of us are particularly skilled in the DYI department. We also don't have time with our jobs. I calculated that I can work one hour of overtime a week and save my self 4 hours per week in house cleaning. Plus we are bolstering the economy.
Whichever way you slice it, our next goal is work-life balance. Simon and I are wanting to embark on a healthier lifestyle and to be able to come home to a home that is warm and cozy and clean. I am eager to start sewing again and to get my vegetable garden growing. I think the trick is to make time for things you love and hire out the rest of it!