Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas in Sitka

At the last minute we decided to take the ferry over to Sitka for Christmas. The ride over is only 4-hours long on the fast ferry and the trip over is a really enjoyable ride. The schedule works out pretty good for us - over on Thursday morning and back on Sunday night. Sitka is such a pretty place and it is always nice to visit. The Ferry service had the lounge area decorated with holiday lights and a tree. Since we have been traveling so much and just getting moved into our new house, we didn't get a tree up this year. So it was nice to see one.

It was pretty gray going over and back and with the limited daylight we had about 1-2 hours each way that was in the dark. But besides a bit of gray and a few drizzles, the sea was calm and very little wind made for a smooth ride.

Going through the narrows I always look for deer that might come to the beach in search of seaweed or other sea vegetables. But they must hear the vessel coming because I never see any.

Sitka has 4 small boat harbors that you can walk around and we spent time on each visit looking at boats. There are many people who live on their boats and they often decorate with holiday lights. We've picked out a few boats that we really like and sometimes they are even for sale but unfortunately, the price tag doesn't make it feasible. This time we noticed that there were a lot more boats with "For Sale" signs in the windows. We even found one that we might call on.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of the Year Indian

Since dining in Denver, in October, India cuisine has been on my mind and finally found some take to make a few dishes this week. We made Rogan Josh, spicy lamb from northern India and Aloo Gobi, a delicious cauliflower dish with tomatoes and potatoes.

Rogan Josh
8 garlic cloves, crushed
2 1/4 in piece of ginger, grated
2 t ground cumin
1 t chili powder
2 t paprika
2 t ground coriander
2 lb boneless leg or shoulder of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 T oil (or ghee)
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cardamon pods
4 cloves
2 Indian bay leaves
3 in piece of cinnamon stick
3/4 c thick plain yogurt
4 strands saffron, mixed with 2 T milk
1/4 t garam masala

Mix garlic, ginger, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and coriander in a large bowl. Add meat and stir thoroughly to coat meat cubes. Marinate in fridge 2 hours.

Heat oil in heavy-based saucepan over low heat, add onions and cook until lightly browned. Remove from pan.

Add cardamon pods, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick to pan and fry for 1 minute. Increase heat to high, add meat and onion, then mix well and fry for 2 minutes. Stir well, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and fry for another 3 minutes or until the meat is quite dry. Add 1/2 cup water, cover and cook 5-7 minutes until water has evaporated and the oil separates and floats on the surface (I didn't see last part happen). Fry meat for another 1-2 minutes then add 1 cup water. Cover and cook for 40-50 minutes, gently simmering until the meat is tender. I took the cover off for the last 5 minutes or so to help thicken the sauce.

Stir in yogurt, add saffron and milk and blend. Season with salt. Remove from heat and sprinkle with garam masala.

Now the Aloo Gobi was really very good and we will definitely make this again. I think it would be good with eggplant too.

3 T oil
1/2 t black mustard seeds (we used crushed brown–that is all we had)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
7 oz potatoes, cut into cubes
1/4 t ground turmeric
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 1/2 t garam masala
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
3/4 in piece of ginger
1 t sugar

Heat oil in deep, heavy-based flying pan over low heat. Add mustard seeds, cover and wait for the seeds to pop. Add onion and potato and fry until browned.

Add turmeric, cumin, coriander, and garam masala to the pan and fry for a couple of seconds. Add the tomato and stir until the spices are well mixed. Add cauliflower florets and stir until well blended. Stir in ginger, sugar and 1/2 c water, increase heat to medium and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with salt.

Don't be fooled by the picture - I didn't make any naan! Instead I though it would be easier to make a buttermilk biscuit with chopped up green onions mixed in. I made some with minced garlic and some that were plain. Next time I'll flatten them down a bit more. They rose higher than I expected.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Felted Slippers

On our recent trip down to Colorado to visit our good friends, the Holmbergs, Tim I decided to celebrate Christmas early and give them their gifts, especially since there was some finishing touches that had to be made.

They all received much too large slippers that needed to be felted to the right size.

Crazy Holmbergs before the felting:

Ok - I have to admit that I got one of the sizes wrong. I thought Logan was a size 16 but his shoe size is only a 13. So his slippers were a little big and had a long way to go to shrink to size.

We thought maybe he should just wear it as a hat…

It took a lot of hot water and many hours swishing around to get the fibers to mess together and shrink, but we finally had success!

Before: After:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Archived list of birds from the deck (old)

Since we've moved into a new house, which also has a deck we thought that we should start over with our observation list. Here are the birds we saw from 2007 to Oct 2009 from the deck of our house:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Drive-by Olive Garden

On a recent trip from Las Vegas to Glenwood Springs we made plans to stop over in St George Utah to have dinner at Olive Garden. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed and we got into St George too late for dinner, too late for dessert, too late for a drink.

It was after midnight but Utah closes up pretty early!

On the way back to Las Vegas we did drive the highway in the daylight and saw what we missed along the way.

At certain times throughout the route you get into some really beautiful red rocky areas which I think are more beautiful than looking at the Grand Canyon. I have only been on the rim of the Grand Canyon so I may be mistaken, but there are so many dramatic viewpoints along I70 that if I hadn't taken the route more than a couple of times, I would want to continuously want to stop. I've made note of several spots where I'd like to stop and explore when we aren't in a hurry to get to our destination.