June 16, 2009 – Debate Nationals Preview

All this week Claire is in Birmingham, Alabama participating in the national debate championships.  She is in the “Congress” portion of debate and sent us a few snapshots via email.

This is the five points district, an entertainment district.

Claire sends the following explanation for this photo:  “This is a keep Birmingham beautiful sign…I was joking that I was helping contribute to the cause, so we took a pic.”

I’m not sure if it should concern me that of all the pictures she sent, not one was of a debate topic, but more of Birmingham nightlife and tourist locations 😉

one year ago…”Strawberry Season”

June 15, 2009 – Drying Strawberries

We’re getting close to a loss on what to do with all the strawberries. The easiest is to freeze then whole on cookie sheets and then put in freezer bags. This year we are going to try drying them for the first time and I’ve overdocumented different drying methods below. All the pictures below show on the left side of the photo what they looked like before drying and the right side shows what they looked like after they were dried.

dried strawberries

This photo show berries cut in half lengthwise and put cut side down.

This tray shows sliced strawberries.

This tray was sliced lengthwise and put on the tray uncut side down.

Finally, whole berrries put on the tray.

As for results, the easiest to take off the trays were the berries sliced lengthwise and put cut side up.  None of them were difficult to remove, but the lengthwise down were easiest.  Our dehydrator has the flexible sheets – it was easy to bend those – if you were using a rigid drying tray, it would take longer to get them off.  The whole berries took a long time to dry, even though they were all the small ones.  I’d cut them all next time.

The dried berries turned out better than I expected, taste-wise – so we’ll be doing more.

one year ago…”Emma at ISU Basketball Camp”

June 14, 2009 – EZ Barn Door

Today I’m going to pass on a neat trick to rebuild barn doors.  Our barn has entry doors with separate top and bottom doors.  The interior cross-member bracing fits into slots built into the door frame.  The first time I tried to build a replacement door, I measured and built the complete door perfectly square in the shop and when I went to attach it, found out neither the frame, nor the adjoining door was square, so I ended up cutting and shaping the new “square” door to fit and it took way too long.

build barn door

A neighbor saw my struggles and offered a bit of advice – forget working in the shop and build the door in place.  The first step is to nail the interior cross bracing into the slots on the frame.  Just nail the boards in with small finishing nails, because after the door is built, these nails will be pounded out as the door swings open for the first time and either pulled out backwards or pounded into the board.  The top picture shows the two interior boards temporarily nailed in place.

build barn door

Next, measure and attach the exterior boards. In this case, they were all slightly different lengths.  You’ll notice that in this picture the white door trim is split near the threshold.  This bothered me, so shortly after this photo was taken, I got the tractor out and was able to use the loader to push in the bottom threshold beam back into place and replace the white trim board with one straight piece.  The boards are nailed or screwed in place and the hinges attached while the door is still nailed to the frame.

build barn door

After the hinges are on, just tap out the door and remove or pound in the finishing nails holding the first two pieces in place.  Here’s an interior door of the completed door (minus painting).

one year ago…”Nearby Tornado Cell”

June 13, 2009 – Emma at Dorian Music Camp at Luther College

This last week, Emma was at Dorian music camp at Luther College in Decorah.  She has been practicing faithfully and it paid off for her as she earned second chair.

Here she is after the performance.  The concerts are wonderful – there are choir, jazz band, orchestra, and concert band performances.  In addition to practicing for the concert six hours each day, there are other classes – one that Emma was unsure of, but that she enjoyed, was a modern ballet dance class.  As a parent, it is rewarding to be able to expose your children to excellence in their craft and watch them explore new endeavors.

Both grandmas came to watch the concert as well.

one year ago…”Statewide Flooding”

June 10, 2009 – Road Hay

Is it free?  Is it easy?  Do kids like to help? Sign me up – it’s “road hay” season again. The county sickle-bar mowers have cut the long grass along the sides of the roads and it seems a waste to just let it sit there.

We can always use organic material, whether for bedding, composting, or in this case, Martin is spreading it around in the area close to the chicken coop where all the plants have been beaten down.  It’s easy to scoop up with a hay fork and Martin likes to pack it into the pickup truck with the topper and we can get quite an amount in one trip and then decide where it will do the most good.

one year ago…”Bad Feeling about Next Few Days”

June 5, 2009 – News Flash – Crunch Berries Aren’t Real Fruit

It has recently come to my attention that a judge refused to grant damages to a woman who claimed damages after eating Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries for four years. She sued for damages from false advertising after finding out that crunchberries were not real berries and in fact, were not fruit.

The judge did not look kindly on the lawsuit, in part because “This Court is not aware of, nor has Plaintiff alleged the existence of, any actual fruit referred to as a “crunchberry. So far as this Court has been made aware, there is no such fruit growing in the wild or occurring naturally in any part of the world.” Thus, since the plaintiff was unable to locate any waving fields of flowering crunchberries, her claims were summarily dropped.

This falls on the heels of a similar case whereby “froot loops” were discovered by the court not to contain any fruit, and the plaintiff dismissed as a poor speller.

I suppose as a result of these failed cases, my pending cases against “Special K” not really having any “Special Potassium” and my recent discovery that grape nuts contains neither grapes nor nuts may be in danger, especially if the case is heard by either the crunchberry or froot loops judges.

one year ago…”Enough Already – Battered by High Winds”

June 3, 2009 – “Classifoods”

Here’s another interesting approach to marrying editorial content with advertising in a print newspaper. This kind of coupling of content with ads has made Google rich – now here’s an example of a print paper – the paper serving the Bar Harbor, Maine area – melding features with local food advertising.

ELLSWORTH:  The Ellsworth American and the Mount Desert Islander today launch a new advertising vehicle for people who grow, raise, sell, eat or admire food. That vehicle is a classified ad that, instead of appearing in the Classified Advertising section of the newspaper, is published in the Arts section where the weekly food, restaurant, recipe and wine features appear. It’s a new concept “marrying the ad to the news content.”

New concepts call for new names, so we have dubbed these new ads  – Classifoods.

Here’s a really new concept: the ads are free this month. Free ads are one per customer per week.

General Manager Terry Carlisle cooked up the idea after attending a workshop in Boston at the annual New England Press Association (NEPA) convention in February.

At the NEPA convention this year, one of the presenters was encouraging us to think outside the box using classifieds as an example. Why do they all have to run in the back of the newspaper? Why not marry them with their news content if that makes sense? He showed an example of a successful food classified page that was running in the Lifestyle section of a newspaper next to the food page.

It was a recipe for experimentation.

To introduce Classifoods to readers and advertisers, the newspapers are offering the ads for free for the month of June. After that, regular classified rates apply.

Any food-related goods and services can appear in Classifioods – from seeds that grow into food to kitchen sinks where we clean up after a meal. Our first issue features a wide variety of foods, including pet foods.

one year ago…”Fruit on the Way”