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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Home Made Caesar Salad - Number 5!

Oh my gosh, I'm in HEAVEN!

Today, my son Rob taught me how to make homemade Caesar Salad.
My favorite!
You just can't get the same taste from a bottle!

Here is the recipe and instructions in case you'd like to try it!

You will need the following ingredients:

1 fresh egg yolk

1 clove garlic, minced very finely or grated. Rob used a microplane zester for this.
It really shredded the garlic clove into a fine paste. He explained that the smaller you mince/shred the garlic, the more area is exposed, the stronger the taste. So we only used one clove of garlic and buddy, it was STRONG!

 Zest from about 1/3 lemon. 

About 3 inches of anchovie paste (from a tube) or 1 anchove fillet, finely mashed. I loved using this anchovie paste. I found it at the market near the canned fish. It's nice because it will keep a long time in the tube, so there's no waste.

A mixture of half olive oil and half vegetable oil. You can use one or the other if you prefer, but I like the flavor of the mix.

One head of romaine lettuce. (per person)

 Good parmesan cheese, grated.

Croutons (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste

A Whisk

* * * * * * * * *

Here is how he put it together:

  • Separate the yolk and put it in a bowl.
  • Save the eggwhite for another day
  • Add garlic
  • Add lemon zest
  • Add juice from the lemon (1/2 or whole, depending on how sour you like it)
  • Add anchovie paste
Begin whisking ingredients together gently, 
but firmly, 
using a back and forth movement.
Do not whisk so hard you make foam!

Once these ingredients are really well mixed 
you will add the oil, 
pouring it VERY SLOWLY.

I can't express how important it is to add the oil SLOWLY, almost a dribble, 
as you continue to whisk with the other hand. 
If you add the oil too fast,
the dressing will "break" or separate.
As you add the oil and whisk, whisk, whisk,
the dressing will get thicker and thicker.  

Add oil until you are happy with the thickness.
It can be as thin or thick as you like.
I prefer it very thick!

Taste the dressing and adjust the ingredients to your taste,
adding salt and pepper to season.
Now, this will make enough for about 4 servings 
so if you're one person, take about 3/4 of the dressing out 
and you can keep it in a container for several days safely.  
Add the lettuce and toss. 
Add the cheese and croutons and toss.

OH.... MY.... GOSH!
This is the BEST salad!


Make a meal of it by adding a sliced grilled chicken breast on top!

Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Building the CarBed in the Mercury

Yesterday I spent the afternoon directing Joe as he built the carbed in my Mercury Tracer. Having taken out the front passenger seat last week, I wanted to build a bed that would have storage underneath to carry my felting supplies, and that would be accessible, but not necessarily READILY accessible. This is where I'll store fiber and tools that I only need to get to once a week or when I'm starting a new project.

The first thing I did was to fit 3 plastic bins into the space, 
one deep, and two shallow. 
The bins are this type:
At first, they would not fit. Oh NO!  
But when I removed their lids, 
I was happy to find out they fit like a glove! 

Next step was the bed itself. Joe had in his storage an old folding closet door. It was the perfect width and had hinges down the middle. I really wanted something I could open up easily to get to my supplies when needed, so this seemed like a good idea.  We put the two back seatbacks in the down position and slid the door into the car through the trunk. With just a few cuts to fit around the seatback I wanted left in the UP position, it would be perfect!
 We measured and cut and measured and cut 
until the board fit.

As you can see, there was Portland's July rain to deal with. We kept having to run under cover, but eventually we got the board to fit. We also made at least one mistake. You can see a cutout we made, then had to repair when I realized it could be left in for more legroom. Good thing Joe's a carpenter!

The bed now fits on top of the boxes - 
Joe put a couple of 2x4 legs up in front, 
and a brace between them. 
He wired the legs to the frame, 
using the bolts that held the original front seat in place. 
Open and get out supplies

Closed position
It's possible to take the bins completely out also. 
Not easy, but manageable. 
The large bin comes out first, 
then the two smaller ones. 
The small bin on the bottom will hold supplies 
I rarely need to access.

Next, I needed some insulation from the cold coming up from underneath. I was sure I took photos of the padding, but apparently my phone didn't store the photos. So here is a photo from the internet of what I used. It's a blue Walmart camping pad. Cost is about $6. 
I had Joe screw this to the top of the bed on the DRIVER's side, using washers so it wouldn't tear. It's stiff and didn't want to stay in place easily. Now it's attached along one side. We put in three points of attachment. This way I can lift the lid without having the pad go flying off.

Next, I needed a foam mattress. Having purchased a lot of foam for cakes and toys, I knew it was going to be expensive. Last week, I checked at Joann's, where prices are generally affordable, and was horrified to see their couch-sized foam pad was $80. Kowabunga!

I wasn't sure what I'd do about that. Then, while looking at camp stoves at Fred Meyer, I passed their hardware section and of all things, they had camping foam pads, 4 inches thick, for $19.   I was a happy girl!

Last night, I went to buy my foam pad. They had 3. Two were filthy and one was slightly damaged. I asked to speak to the manager and showed him the damaged pad, which had a 1 inch divit in it. He gave me a 10% discount. Hooray!  Getting the pad into my tiny car was, well, interesting, but I managed to get it home where I got my handy-dandy electric carving knife out.  

You can buy an electric knife at charity or Goodwill shops. I think I paid $2.99 for mine. People don't use them much, but they cut foam like butter and I love mine!  With Emma's help taking photos, I marked the foam with a sharpie pen, and began making cuts.
Good Lord, I'm fat! I need to walk off this belly!

I cut the foam to fit tight between the frame 
and the back seatback which is staying UP. 
This way it won't shift. 
 I made a cut around the console 
so I can still shift and use the cupholder 
when I am driving.

And that's it! 

Could I have done it without Joe? Probably. The tools we used were a skillsaw, a jigsaw, a screwdriver and a chisel (to move one of the hinges up when we cut off the end of the door). But it sure was nice to have his help! So if you're a gal and doing this, I suggest you grab some guy whose legs aren't painted on and see if he'll help you. It'll make things go much faster if you have someone with experience working with you.

I now have a bed in my little Mercury Tracer! 
I plan on going camping this weekend to try it out
and see if any kinks need to be adjusted. 
I'll take photos and report back.

Until then, I'm working on a felted SunMan face 
to try to get the sun to shine in rainy Portland. 
Here he is. 
Still need to firm him up, 
but I'm liking him!

I'm off to take Emma out for the day.
Until next time, 


Monday, July 18, 2011

Salad #4: Thai Slad with Peanut Sauce

It's been a while since I posted my salad recipes. I hate to admit it but not having a computer sort of "tweaked" my life. Maybe that's a message from the Universe?

Anyway, here is Salad #4 in my 7 Salads for 7 Days series. It is a lucious Thai Salad with Peanut Sauce. It's a hit at potlucks and even the kids will like this one!

Thai Salad
Makes 2 cups of Dressing
This salad can be altered to fit your own taste. The dressing is also great as a dip for veggies or for lettuce wraps. 

 1 cup Raw Almond Butter (you can make this by putting raw almonds in food processor) 
 ½ cup Pure water or more to thin the dressing 
 4 tablespoons Fresh lemon juice 
 2 tablespoons Fresh ginger, chopped 
 ¼ cup Pure organic maple syrup or honey 
 3 tablespoons Nama Shoyu, Braggs, Tamari, or Soy Sauce 
 4 tablespoons Sesame oil, cold pressed 
Cloves of garlic 
 ½ Serrano or jalapeno chile, omit if you do not like spice

Use any combination of the following (or other) vegetables.

 Carrot, sliced like matsticks or shaved
Purple Cabbage, thinly sliced
Daikon Radish, sliced like matchsticks or shaved
Bok Choy, minced 
 Green Onions, minced
Red or Green Pepper, thinly sliced
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Zucchini or Crookneck Squash or both, thinly sliced or shaved
Portobello Mushroom or some other 'meaty' variety, optional
1 tablespoon Raw Cashews, minced, optional
1 tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, minced, optional
Orange or tangerine sections, peeled and/or chopped into bite sized piece 

Dressing:  Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until the garlic, ginger and chile are pureed. If you do not have a blender, you can finely mince the garlic, ginger and chile and mix the dressing by hand. So this meal could be appliance free.

Salad:  Mix salad ingredients – please feel free to adjust the salad part of this recipe to vegetables you like and/or have on hand. This tastes really great if you top with green onions, minced cilantro and minced cashews. Using a food processor will save you time, but not mandatory.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fixing My Laptop Keyboard

Last week, the keyboard on my Dell laptop stopped working.
It just acted fried!
I took the laptop into Best Buy, where I had purchased it,
and where it was 

I was thinking they'd just fix it,
no problem.

Surprise, Surprise!
 The Geek Guy looked at it and said,
"Well, it LOOKS like there's water damage to the keyboard, 
and if that's the case, we can send it in, 
if there IS water damage, 
they will just send it back to us unfixed.
In addition, we will charge YOU 
$30.00 for postage!
To my knowledge, there has been NO water spilled on this keyboard.
I'm the only person using the laptop.
But the guy sounded so convinced that there WAS water damage, 
I decided to consult with my computer geek youngest son.
He took a look at the keyboard. 
There were some marks on the keys, 
probably from my sweaty little fingers, 
not from something being spilled.

We looked up the replacement keyboard online.
$16.99  plus postage for a total of $21.

Hmmmmm.... thought I.

"Is it difficult to replace?" I asked him.
So we ordered the replacement keyboard.
It arrived yesterday.
Today I took the laptop to his house.
He looked online and found detailed instructions for replacing the keyboard.

I watched as he took out the battery,
Removed the screw securing the center control cover from the battery bay
Popped off the plastic lining surrounding the keyboard.

Pulled the keyboard away from the base and carefully unplugged the two very tiny ribbon cables.

Next he put the NEW keyboard in, in reverse order, first plugging the tiny cables in, then setting the keyboard in place, snapping in the plastic lining, replacing the screws, then replacing the battery.

The entire process took him about 15 minutes.

The function keys still would not work, so a little research told us we needed to download the keyboard driver. We found it online and

Everything works great!

And it cost a total of $21 instead of $30.

EZ as PIE!
I can do this if I need to again.
So can you!

Later, I'll commence the posting on making my Mercury into an RV.
But for now, I"m happy to finally be back online.
I missed you!



Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Bosc Pear and Spinach Salad

I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July!

We had a great time at Ft. Vancouver yesterday! We arrived about 2 pm and stayed until after the fireworks show. There was plenty to do, and Emma had a great time exploring the fort and bouncing in the bouncy house. We ate snowcones, strawberry shortcake, and watermelon along with the sandwiches brought from home. Cameron bought Emma some chicken strips during the firework show and she was pretty happy!  

The traffic wasn't bad at all, but we had decided NOT to park in the paid parking lot and instead found street parking so as soon as the show was over, we hit the car and the freeway for a pretty painless drive home.
* * * 

Today, I'm back on track with my 7 salads for 7 days. 
Here is the recipe for today's salad, 
a lovely combination of sweet and savory 
with Bosc pear and fresh spinach!

By the way, if you find pears, but they're green,
you can ripen them by laying them out
on newspaper in a single layer
for a day or two
or putting them in a bowl
with a ripe apple.

Not all pears are yellow.
Some varieties are red, brown, or even green when ripe.
Check with your produce person 
to see whether the pears they are selling are ripe
if you are not sure.

Here is a wonderful link
where you can learn 
about all the different
pear varieties:  All About Pears

For this salad, it's important to have a crisp pear
rather than a soft one.
But please don't throw away bruised pears.
Simply cut out the bruised part and eat the rest.

Also, this recipe says to peel the pear,
but I do not peel them.
Most of the fiber is in the peel.
Just wash it well and forget peeling it!

Baby Spinach Salad with Bosc Pear and Pecans
Serves 4 (or 2 if this is the main course)

1 firm pear

You can use a firm pear of any variety.
4 green onions
1 teaspoon celtic or sea salt
4 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
½ lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon raw honey or maple syrup
1# baby spinach leaves (or spring mix greens)
1 palmful parsley and/or cilantro leaves, chopped
⅓ cup chopped pecans
Celtic or sea salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper

Peel and core pear. 

Cut into bitesized chunks.

Chop green onion finely. 

Toss pear and green onion with sea salt, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and honey or maple. Allow to marinate for 5-10 minutes.

Add spinach leaves, chopped herbs and pecans and gently toss with. 

Season with salt to taste. 

Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Getting to the Top

Getting to the top of a long climb is always so satisfying!
I think that's why I love long treks.
There are so many goals to set,
and when you reach them,
you feel so much better,
emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Here are a few photos of me
upon reaching the top -
Some are from 2006 and others from 2009.
It's good for me to see how out of shape I was in the beginning,
and how much better I looked and felt at the end 
of the 3 months of simply walking.

Exercise does not have to be strenuous to work.

Some great memories!
Oh wait! That's not me!
Getting to the top of the Pyranees was a great achievement for me! 
The walk, while grueling, was ethereal. 
And reaching the top felt like a great accomplishment.
At the top, beginning the descent.
The descent was worse than the ascent!
At the top of Alto Perdon

Alto Perdon is out of Pamplona. It's not so much the length of this climb, but the steepness that is difficult.  By now, however, I'm beginning to lose weight and feel less winded.

This next photo is of me in the ruins of San Anton.  This is not at the top of a hill, but me at the top of my game. After only 3 weeks of walking, I've lost a lot of weight, and am feeling healthy and fit again!

Me at San Anton

Close to Monjarin is the Crux de Ferro. At the top of this hill is a cross, where you leave stones and wishes. I missed this on my first Camino, so this little climb was important to me in 2009.

The next hill was from Monjarin into Molinaseca. The scenery was fantastic!

Next, the dreaded climb into O'Cebreiro! This is a deal breaker for many pilgrims. Beginning in Vega del Valcarce, the scenery was beautiful and the walking easy.The track was smooth, winding past villages that seemed to have fallen out of a history book:

And then, the trail became a bit more rocky
And then it became downright "stony and steep!"

Up... up... UP  we went!
My thighs burned.
It was a matter of walking 10 steps, then resting... walking 10 steps, then resting.

Then, when I thought I couldn't make one more step
TA DA!  I made it to Galicia!

A few weeks more of walking, and reaching Santiago was the biggest thrill of all! Here I am coming out of the Pilgrim's Office where I received my Compostela for walking the Camino. Can you tell I'm pleased?
I'm also 20 pounds lighter! I no longer ache in the mornings and I don't get winded.  I guess my point to this post is that a person does not have to go on a special diet or take pills to lose weight. Just get up and MOVE!

Here I am a few months before my walk. 
It's embarrassing how out of shape I'd gotten:
Here is me after returning home from my last trek:
Quite a difference, right?

The sad truth is I'm back to about the weight I was in the first photo. No excuses except menopause and inactivity. This is a MAJOR reason for planning my next walk, which hopefully will begin May 2012, if the world doesn't end    

I'm ready to get back into shape!
Are you?

For now, I'm walking in Forest Park and the Arboretum. 
Oregon offers many wonderful hiking trails 
for anyone who has the desire.

My point is... if I can do it, you can do it!
It's simple.
Get off your duff and walk!

* * *
Note:  If you are interested in walking the Camino Santiago, 
but are not quite ready to go it alone, 
consider joining Annie
on one of our small, affordable Camino walks. 
For more information see our website 
at this link: AnnieWalkers Camino