Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Drop Biscuits

I've been making biscuits for as long as I can remember. So long in fact, my original recipe called for a 1/2 cup of lard. This one's on the healthier side of that, and borrowed from Lauren Ulm. I'm still not entirely sold on Earth Balance margarine, but it's not bad once baked.

2 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tbs Earth Balance margarine
2 tbs shortening
1 cup soy milk plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Mix flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the margarine and shortening working it until the dough seems crumbly. Add the soy milk until just combined. Place the dough on a floured surface and roll into 1-inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or glass, cut the dough into circles and place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes at 475 degrees or until golden. 

Gimme Some - Peter, Bjorn and John

We've been listening to the new Peter, Bjorn and John album, Gimme Some, for the past couple of weeks. It's more of a straight ahead indie-rock sound than their previous albums: buzzing guitars, pounding drums, quick tempos, and short songs. They don't quite sound like fellow Swedes, the Hives, but Breaker Breaker sounds like something the Buzzcocks might have written back in the day. Here's the lead off track. Sorry they haven't posted a video for it yet. Enjoy boppers!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Flavia de Luce Mysteries

Jenni picked up these great little novels last month. They're not particularly travel related, but they were a fun read, and they might be fun to take along on your summer journeys, especially if you have a young reader along with you.

Set in 1950's England, these award winning novels by Alan Bradley feature the crime solving skills of Flavia de Luce, an 11 year old chemistry enthusiast who always seems to find herself in the thick of things when bad things happen in the tiny village of Bishop's Lacey.  

Surprisingly complex and suspenseful, the mysteries are filled with humor and told in Flavia's singular voice. They have about everything you can imagine in a mystery set in post-war Britain; an aristocratic family living in a crumbling manor house, quirky servants, eccentric, gossipy villagers, bumbling police officers, and the odd dead body popping up under mysterious circumstances every so often.      

You learn a little bit more about the characters with each novel, and the fictional village of Bishop's Lacey really comes alive. Throughout you have the indefatigable Flavia out to prove she can solve the mystery before the police can.

I believe there will be 5 novels in the series, and I don't doubt we'll be picking them up as well.  Great stuff.

iTranslate iPhone app

My first job after college was working in the international marketing department of a graphic design company. I remember spending hours translating our documentation and business letters into one language after another, piles of dictionaries and how-to books littering my desk and covering my floor. My associate, Pascal, looked on in horror as I butchered one language after another.

Well, those days are gone for good. We live in an age of Rosetta Stones, online translators, and apps for our smartphones that can translate in the palm of our hands or speak for us. I have thankfully retired from the world of international marketing, and I can only hope that Pascal found fame and fortune with the marionettes she was so fond of making.

I have several of these translators on my phone. I can't speak to the superiority of any one in particular. They all work on the same basic principal, type or speak phrase that you need, and the translator provides the translation for you. Text to Speech has come a long way but it still doesn't sound exactly natural. I like all the various voices iTranslate has to offer, but I have to admit I haven't bought any of them. If you have a favorite pass it along.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Catherine Tate - Posh People - The Aga Saga Woman

I loved the Catherine Tate show. I think of the first clip every time I pick up my organic vegetarian eggs.

Oven Fries with Lemon Rosemary Salt

These fries make a nice snack or side for lunch or light dinner. The boys and I threw these together along with some pizzas for our friend Bobby who was visiting from New York. 

Lemon Rosemary Salt
1 - 2 Tbs fresh rosemary
1 lemon zested
2 -3 Tbs sea salt

Combine ingredients using a mortar and pestle adding enough salt until the mixture seems dry.

3-4 russet potatoes

Wash the potatoes to remove dirt and slice into fries an inch or less thick. Soak the fries in cold water for 2 hours or overnight. Then parboil in salted water for 5 or 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Place on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 420 degrees for 20 minutes or until crispy. Sprinkle with the lemon rosemary salt and serve.