Thursday, June 23, 2011

Andie's Big Adventure: Planning, Planning and More Planning

Recently we were at the beach with our friends the Tuckers, and Jenn was asking what was going on with the temporary relocation (I prefer that to the term "move", which implies a permenant thing). I was retelling a few items, including the ferry trip, the house we rented, etc. To which Jenn replied, "Oh my god. You guys are so... ORGANIZED. You've gotten all that taken care of already? You're months out! We'd probably be packing up the car to leave and go "oh, maybe we should look into a place to rent for while we're up there." Because we just totally do not have it together to that degree."

And I said "Maybe. But the big difference is that you'd be fine with going with the flow. We would most assuredly NOT be OK with that. We would freak. The term "roll with it" does not apply at 305."

Let me refresh your memory as to who we are dealing with, here.

Show some love to Natalie Dee for this design, y'all.

So it's appropriate that in preparation for this excursion, 305 has been transformed and looks more like this these days:

That's right, people. We're going to execute this thing with the military precision of Operation Overlord. Or better. Because there's not much that will send me into having a come-apart faster than The Unknown.

Look. I know it's a shortcoming. I know that it's indicative of a far healthier psyche to be flexible. Adaptable. More relaxed. But at the ripe old age of 44, I'm beginning to finally accept the fact that I'm not that guy. Girl. Woman. Whatever. My parents will confirm that even as a little kid, I absolutely COULD NOT enjoy what I was doing unless I knew "what's going to happen next?". Once I had a plan mapped out in my tiny little neurotic brain, I was happy as a clam. And I'm still very much that way. I need to know what. I need to know when. I need to know where. I need to know how. And I need to know it all long before I get in the car and pull out of my driveway and point to the Great White North.

So here's what we've accomplished so far.

We have procured lodging.

We have gotten passports and filed for all the visa stuff we need.
Yes, Pootie had on pants. He'd been outside trying to give himself skin cancer.
We have mapped the route, determined our overnight stops, and located pet-friendly accomodations.

We have (probably prematurely, given the dog situation) booked the ferry. (The dog situation is the only reason we haven't actually reserved the aforementioned pet-friendly accomodations since we don't know for sure which ferry we'll be taking. Yes, it's causing some internal anxiety for me, thank you for asking.)

We have located the local Costco.

We have ascertained what the most likely equivalents are for our Harris Teeter and Target and mapped them.  We have researched restaurants we want to try. We have contacted the local pet supply place to make sure they carry Dinky's particular brand of Hard Crunchy Bits.

We (and by "we", I mean Pootie, in this instance) have written an extremely detailed household operations manual, um, list for the future occupants of 305. We have made arrangements for our mail. We have plotted to turn the screws on Sprint so they'll give us a reasonable calling plan.  We have obtained parkas (I got mine for my June birthday from my parents! North Face! Woot!). We have retrieved our almost unused LL Bean boots from the attic and made sure they're still intact. We have made preliminary lists of things (mostly clothing) that we're going to pack in boxes and have shipped to us once we leave. (We'll be "sending for our things" - all Old School and stuff!)

I'm sure I'm leaving some things out.

I told you. I do not mess around with my neuroses. We plan hardcore. I am professionally unbalanced about leaving my home.

But hey. You know what? I'll do what I have to do for my own emotional comfort. Doing what I can to alleviate anxiety on the front end will help me actually enjoy this experience instead of being wound up tighter than a two-dollar watch for the week it takes us to get there. Which makes me just heaps of fun to be around.

So I'll be picking some serious nits until we leave in August. Trust me. We'll ALL be happier.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Crab Cakes

Man, do I love crab. LOVE it. And I got my hands on a good, fresh pound of it at our local seafood place this weekend. It's not Krab.

It's crab. Wonderful, salty, glorious blue shell crab.

Hey there, good lookin'.

 That I didn't have to shell.

Get most of the water out of the crab meat. The wetter this mixture is, the more you'll risk the cakes kind of falling apart on you in the pan. Add an egg, a cup of breadcrumbs, a teaspoon of dijon mustard, 4 Tbs. of mayo, 1/2 cup of diced red bell pepper, 1 1/2 tsp. of Old Bay, 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt, the juice of half a lemon, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and mix it all together gently.

Stick that mixture in the fridge for at least an hour. Then pull it out and put a large pan over medium heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Patty the crab mixture out into about six patties and cook until they're nice and golden brown, then flip them over gently and cook on the other side.

I had some nice farmer's market fingerling potatoes in the oven while all this was going on.

I tossed them with a little olive oil, salt and

They roasted at 400F for a little too long. Pootie was late getting his workout on. I hate that. You SHOULD cook them for about 40 minutes.

A green salad with fresh tomatoes and a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and we were set to go. I managed some restraint and had a few crab cakes left for lunch.

If you'd like to vroom these crab cakes around your kitchen, here's the .pdf for you.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Walt's Velvet Corn Soup

I've really got to get a new (better) picture of the two of them.
As I've mentioned before a few times, Heather and Walt used to live next door to us. We love them, so when they moved, we kept them. We see them not often enough for us, but probably enough for them. I guess they like us OK. Heather did bring me back THE most awesome Christmas decorations from Disney EV-ER. A collection of all of the Disney villains. That's my kind of woman, right there.

Walt is... well, he's Walt. I don't think there's anyone who doesn't like him. Or know him. We had a joint July 4 party once and about 2:00 AM I was standing on the porch with Heather, looking at a BUNCH of people in my backyard and said "Heather? Who ARE these people?" She said "I have NO idea." At our Halloween party Walt changed costumes once an hour.

Well, you get the point. Walt is fun.

As it happens, he's also pretty skilled in the kitchen. An embarrasingly long time ago, Heather and Walt invited us over for dinner. Walt REALLY wanted to cook us his Asian soup and skewers and man, am I glad he did. He also graciously agreed to let me blog it. Which is good, because I probably would have anyway and just counted on him not reading it and busting my chops. It was a better dinner than I've cooked in quite a while. (I'm in a slump). Add the excellent company to it, and it was a great evening, as usual. Here are some very bad stealth pictures of dinner. (I used my phone - I figured it might be conspicuous if I took the real camera and started setting up lights and stuff in the kitchen.)

Well, OK, this one - maybe not so stealth

Dregs of the soup. Do not let the picture fool you. It was WONDERFUL. This, boys and girls, is why you never, EVER, use a flash.

My not-finished-thank-god-there's-more-left dinner plate.

Pretty tiny cupcakes from downtown. I love the Reese's one. Thanks to me, there almost weren't any left for Knox and Bennett.
Walt was generous enough to share his recipe for the corn and shrimp soup, and you should be grateful. It was SO good. But you know, that's Walt. He's that kind of guy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Blueberry Squares

This is actually the recipe for my apple squares, but (obviously) with blueberries instead of apples. This recipe lends itself well to almost any fruit. I've made them with strawberries, peaches, blackberries, plums... well, you get the idea. It's a perfect quick dessert, and most ingredients you probably have on hand. If you don't, it's probably time to head to the grocery anyway.

First, preheat the oven to 350F. Then melt a stick of butter.

Yes, of course you can use the microwave. I don't have one. Never have, as an adult. Haven't seemed to need one.

While the butter is melting, dump a cup of flour and a cup of sugar in a large-ish bowl.

Add 1/2 tsp. of baking soda, 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg. Sometimes, when I'm feeling all crazy, I throw in a quarter tsp. of ground ginger. I know. You're thinking, "Simmer down, there, wild woman!"

Add the melted butter and a large egg.

Mix that together a little, then add a cup of blueberries.

Or sliced strawberries, or diced peeled apple, or chunks of plum or blackberries, or whatever turns you on. And is preferably in season.

Mix the fruit in gently. Try not to mush it all up.

Put it into an ungreased brownie pan (or you could use a 9 inch cake pan if you don't want squares) and spread it out. The batter will be pretty thick.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.

These lend themselves well to a scoop of ice cream (well, OK, there's not much that doesn't, but these especially do) or they're great just plain. For dessert. Or breakfast with a cup of coffee. Or a snack with a cup of tea. Or just anytime standing over the kitchen sink.

Here's the .pdf if you'd like to test drive them in your own kitchen. (Recipe below if you want it in the blog):

                              Andie’s Blueberry Squares

1      cup           blueberries (preferably fresh)
1      cup           sugar
1      cup           all-purpose flour
1      stick         butter, melted
1      large         egg
1/2  tsp           baking soda
1/2  tsp           cinnamon
1/2  tsp           nutmeg
1/2  tsp           vanilla extract
1/2  tsp           salt

1. Mix together all ingredients. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, or until tester
comes clean from center.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SodaStream: Not (really) a commercial

This blog is a special request (holla, Ronda!).  I do take those, by the way. I just don't ever get any.

Here at 305, we love us some seltzer. Neither of us drink cokes (do I have to reiterate that down here, "coke" covers all the sweetened carbonated beverages? I didn't think so.) but we love the fizzy water. We've been buying canned seltzer forever and would go through two cases a week. That's 24 cans of seltzer weekly, for those of you like me who are math-challenged.

Enter the SodaStream into our lives. Our friends Marc and Sara got one. We'd seen them, but weren't sure they'd make the water fizzy enough, that it wouldn't go flat, blah blah blah. They gave us a test run and we were sold.

Allow my beautiful assistant to demonstrate.

He's enthusiastic about his job.

It's a pretty simple contraption. You get two thick bottles (I think you can choose other bottle options - this is what we got), a CO2 cartridge or two or more (depending on how many you want) and the sprshhhter. (That's a highly technical term.) You will need to provide tap water. I guess you could use bottled water, but that kind of eliminates the lower-waste benefit of this, and you're not getting flouridated water. Don't get me started on that. It's a soapbox issue of mine.

To make seltzer, Pootie fills the bottles to the fill line.

Then he screws the bottle onto the sprshhhter.

Then he pumps CO2 into the bottle until it makes a very rude noise three times (the sprshhhter, not Pootie).

And BOOM! Presto! Fizzy water!

Yes, that's a Berner on that glass.
At this point, you could flavor the water. They have little bottles of stuff like lemon, orange and berry that aren't sweetened and are pretty good, and they also have sweetened mixes. We haven't tried those - as I said, we're not really into cokes.

We keep two bottles in the fridge. They'll hold their fizz for about a day or two, although we usually have emptied them out before the end of the day and replaced them.

When the CO2 cartridge runs out, we take it to Bed, Bath and Beyotch - I mean Beyond - and exchange it for a refilled one. Yes, we've already found where to get them exchanged in Canada. (That's just how we roll around here at 305.)

A hand model, I ain't.
We figure in a year, we're saving roughly 1,248 cans from recycling. And it saves us money, too. And we're getting flouridated fizzy water. Win- win!

So if you're looking for a nice gift for your dad for Father's Day, and he likes fizzy water (or cokes), here's an idea. I'd get one for my dad, but they already have one. (I'm seriously hosed for Father's Day. Accepting any suggestions.)

So check it out at the SodaStream site. Frankly, their video is better produced than mine, but also cheesier. Well, kind of. Thanks for the help, Pootie.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Andie's Big Adventure: Logistics. And Not Food.

For those of you who are interested, I thought I'd post a short update on the status of our impending temporary relocation to Newfoundland.

We have, as I've already mentioned, procured lodging for our stay. Here's the house.

The blue house is ours. The cars aren't. We're not there yet.
Here is another view from out in the bay. I guess the photographer was treading water.

Again, blue house to the right. We are going to build a fort on the "hill" behind the house and if you try to stalk us, we will roll boulders down on you.
We may be able to see whales and icebergs from our deck. Which is pretty awesome.

So between searching for things like the Canadian equivalent of Target, and where the local Costco is, we're planning the actual trip.

This is something of a logistical challenge, since we will have Dinky in tow.

Hi there! I'm large, and rather unhelpful! I'm not towing ANYTHING.
Our biggest quandry right now is the ferry. We have to drive 4 days to Nova Scotia. When we get there, we have to take a (very large) ferry over to Newfoundland. The one we've booked is a 15 hour overnight one that lands about an hour and a half from St. John's, our final destination. Excellent. Eat dinner, go to bed, wake up and we're almost there.

Unfortunately, someone's wide furry butt won't fit in the largest kennel they offer. And the crate he WILL go in doesn't fit in their kennel room. We have been talking to the ferry officials and they are trying to figure out how to accomodate us. I suggested we put a hat and pants on him and just let him stay in the cabin with us, but they said no. (Imagine!)

I am sure it's because they know he'd be mobbed by chicks. And paparazzi. And who needs that kind of headache when you're trying to run a boat?

We have to wait until the captain who will be running the ferry at the time of our trip (Cap'n Pete) gets back from vacation. The very nice lady (Martina) at the Ferry office is going to ask if there's any other place we can put the crate. Our other alternative is take a shorter ferry ride (6 - 8 hours) and leave him in the car, which we can't access while the boat is underway. That unfortunately lands at the other end of Newfoundland, leaving us with an 11 hour drive after we get in.

Not ideal all around. I'm not thrilled about leaving my poor dog alone in a car with strange noises and weird motion for 8 hours, or having another 11 hours of driving on top of the four days we'll already have spent in the car. With all our stuff.

Hey y'all! Looky here! We're in Newfoundland!
So right now, we're in a holding pattern.  Cap'n Pete gets back from vacation July 1. We won't know anything until then. Which means we can't really plan the trip and the stops and make hotel reservations yet. And I think that Pootie is experiencing some kind of hold up with visas or some other paperwork. They probably found out about my blog.

Have I mentioned that patience isn't my strong suit?

For now, I guess we wait. Meanwhile, if anyone has any advice on road tripping with a large canine, I'm all ears.