Greasy stuff

(Potato latkes, frying up in a pan.)

I think my blog is unintentionally turning into a food blog.

I made potato latkes today.  It was all that talk and writing and reading about them that brought on the craving.  I’ve never made them before so I followed the recipe in a book I received for Christmas (we had an early Christmas this past weekend): How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food.  The author of the book, Mark Bittman was on the Today Show either yesterday or today (or some day recently) frying up latkes and that pretty much clinched it for me.  Or maybe it was the food and drink newsletter from the Chicago Tribune featuring latkes.  I wish I’d saved the link for the article as I can’t find it now.  It was an interesting article about the history of potato latkes and the significance of the oil, rather than the potato, that is important in the Jewish tradition.

Whatever the case in terms of reasons why I got it into my head to make latkes, the universe conspired, I craved, and today I grated and fried.

(It should be noted that the latkes weren’t really greasy but this post is following one called “Sticky Stuff” so I went with what came to mind.)

My father made potato pancakes when I was a child.  I think those were pretty rare occasions, but I do remember him making them.  He used his mother’s recipe.  Or at least I think he did.  I’ll have to ask him the next time I talk with him (probably tomorrow).

As mentioned earlier, I’ve never made them before.  Eaten them, yes.  But made them, no.  It was a pretty simple, straightforward kind of thing.  Potatoes, onions, eggs, and in my case, breadcrumbs (matzo meal is traditional), along with some salt and pepper to season them.  Oh, and the oil.  One of the recipes I read states as the final ingredient “too much oil.”  I used about an eighth of an inch of canola oil.  I grated the potatoes and onion (by hand, mind you, because it burns more calories and uses much less electricity than the food processor, plus I wanted them course) into a strainer and let them sit a bit to drain.  Then squeezed the whole mess for good measure, just to get them good and dry.

I beat an egg and mixed that and some breadcrumbs into the potatoes and onion mixture.  I heated the oil in a frying pan, then dropped the potato mix into the oil by huge spoonfuls, flattening them out with a spatula.

Eventually I ended up with this:

Okay, it’s a dreadful picture.  Not enough light, too close to the latke, etc.  But you get the idea.  And you can kind of see the oil frying around the edges.

We had them for lunch.  I served them with homemade applesauce and some Greek style yogurt in place of the traditional sour cream (because that’s what I had in the fridge).  Yummy, yummy, yummy.  I’m glad, though, that I only made a half batch as even that was more than two of us can eat in one sitting so I have a few leftovers.  I’m hoping they’ll reheat okay in the oven.  Or maybe I should put them back in the frying pan?

Suggestions on reheating are welcome.

Winter has been very strange this year.  We’re in a snow-ice-rain pattern.  The rain came down so heavy last night and today that I’m wondering if we’ll float away soon.

I guess that’s it from the Bogs for now.

Merry Christmas to all!  May all your Christmas dreams and wishes come true.

Sticky Stuff

I had a wonderful weekend.  My sons and their entourages were here on Saturday and Sunday.  We celebrated the holidays a little early by opening our gifts on Saturday.

Yesterday morning we made pancakes.  The youngest of us all, Princess Emma, did the stirring of the batter and picked chocolate chips to go into some of pancakes.  We made blueberry pancakes, too, along with a couple of plain ones just in case someone preferred a basic, no frills, kind of pancake.

(Pancake batter.  Winter Solstice 2008.  Photo © Robin)

Veggie “sausages,” orange juice, and locally-tapped Ohio maple syrup filled out the rest of the meal.  Vermont is famous for their maple syrup.  Here in Ohio we try not to advertise the delicious goodness of our maple syrup because that way we can keep more of it for ourselves.  Among the 100+ trees M and I planted a few years ago, there are plenty of sugar maples in the mix in hopes that someone someday will be tapping them for syrup.

Tapping of the  maples in Ohio usually begins about six weeks after the winter solstice.  The change that causes the sap to run begins in late January or early February in southern Ohio, making its way north by March.  It is said that if you drive around Geauga county here in northeastern Ohio in late February or early March, you’ll find sap collecting buckets on every sugar maple, even on those maples located in towns.

The tapping season is relatively short in Ohio (4-5 weeks, I believe), but the length depends on the weather and the trees.  Day and night temperatures need a big swing between them, oscillating from above freezing in the daytime to below freezing at night.  The barometric pressure has a role in here somewhere, too, but I’m not quite sure what that role is.

Sap tapped late in the season is the most flavorful.  It is said to have a “bark.”  But if you wait too late and the trees are starting to bud, the sap will produce “buddy” syrup which has a more earthy, vegetative taste to it.  Most people prefer their syrup with a bark.

It takes a lot of sap to make syrup.  You need 35-45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.  That translates into 3-4 taps per gallon.  In terms of nutritional value, maple syrup has as much calcium as milk.  The problem with this claim, as I see it, is that not many people are going to drink a glass of maple syrup.  But it is nice to know you’re getting a little calcium with your sugar.  Maple syrup is also a good source of potassium.

I have no idea why I started rambling about maple syrup.  I meant to write about the weekend.

I guess I’ll just leave it the way I started:  I had a wonderful weekend.  🙂

What book am I?

I got this from Bibliomom.

You’re Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you’re
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You’d
be recognized as such if you weren’t always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.


For those of you who might be missing out on the snow….

It was nice and quiet outside before I turned on the camera.  I was hoping to capture something of the hush and peacefulness, but as soon as I started recording a siren sounded in the distance.  I started over a couple of times due to a variety of noises, then decided to go with the last one with another siren sounding in the distance.  It was getting dark.  A video shot in the dark wouldn’t have shown the snowfall quite so well.

The road out front is covered in snow.  I’m hoping for enough to go cross country skiing tomorrow.

This and that

I had a fantastic birthday weekend.  M and I went to visit with our granddaughter and her parents.  I don’t think I could have asked for a better gift.  I was feeling some angst about turning 50 (I didn’t realize how much angst until afterwards) and the Exquisite Emma was the perfect remedy, giving me a much needed attitude adjustment.

I came home filled with  joy and love.  There’s nothing like an Emma-fix to help me prioritize things in life.

In case anyone is looking for words of wisdom now that I’m half of a century old, I will tell you this:  Being 50 isn’t nearly as difficult as anticipating 50.

(Swim lessons.)

One of the things we got to do was watch Emma at her swim lessons.  She’s like a fish in the water!  I thought she was swimming quite well, and it’s good to see that she’s not afraid of the water.  It was nice, though, just to be a part, albeit small and just a watcher, of one of her activities.

(Touching bottom.)

I have better photos, but as you  may recall, I’m not posting clear images of Emma on the blog anymore (unless enough time has elapsed to have changed her a bit).

It snowed while we were away.  Not here at home, but where we were.  I think we must have brought the snow storm with us.  Or perhaps it’s true that I do have a superpower and that superpower is the power to bring on snow.  Either way, we got a few inches of the white stuff.  They aren’t as prepared to handle the snow there as they are here.  The roads were pretty bad for a while on Saturday afternoon, with cars slipping and sliding their way into accidents.

Besides spending time with Emma, we had drinks and dinner with friends on Friday evening.  It was fun and I came away with a great gift/book:  Fifty Things to Do When You Turn Fifty: Fifty Experts on the Subject of Turning Fifty.  The first essay in the book was written by Garrison Keillor and offers the best piece of advice:  Stop Complaining.  There are more bits of wisdom throughout that one essay, as well as in the others I’ve read.

A big thanks! to my friend for giving me the book.  I’ll be sure to return it when you turn 50.  (When is that, anyhow?)

Sunday morning, when I woke up, I felt much better than I had in ages.  Free, light, glad to be past the stress of anticipating such a big milestone.  I received some beautiful gifts from M, although really, just the trip itself and being with him and family was good enough.  Still, the earrings are very nice.  🙂

We had dinner at Lindey’s, a lovely restaurant in the German Village section of Columbus.  The food and service were excellent.  There was a small SNAFU with our entrees.  M had ordered the duck and it wasn’t ready when the rest of the food was prepared to be brought out so he had to wait while we started our meals.  A manager stopped by to check on us and to apologize for what happened.  I’d heard something going on in the kitchen just before our food was served (someone saying “the lesson for tonight is…!”).  M mentioned to the manager that the problem is we’ve all watched Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, and know that the food should be cooked so it’s all ready to be served at the same time.  The manager laughed and said it certainly was a kitchen nightmare for the cook staff.

We did all enjoy our food, and it should be noted (in case that woman from Harpers Ferry stops by again) that we neither asked for nor had any of our meals comped.  I’m such a slow eater, anyhow, that M was finished his dinner before I finished mine.  Even with a 5 minute or so head start, I can’t beat him to the clean-plate finish.  (Or to the put-the-rest-in-a-box finish.)

(Luminaries in German Village.)

After dinner we took a little stroll around German Village where they had luminaries lining the buildings.  There was even a band out on the street playing Christmas music.  The photos I took are all pretty terrible (it’s difficult to take night shots without a tripod), but they’ll give you a general idea.

Your eyes are ok.  It’s the pictures that are blurry.

The snow, the lights, and the music all combined to put us in a festive, very seasonal mood.  Some of the businesses had treats out (Lindey’s had s’mores and the chocolate shop had cookies and hot chocolate).  I was too full from dinner to partake, but Emma had a s’more and a cookie.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, and a wonderful way to spend my 50th birthday.

If you don’t see much of me around here in the coming months, blame it on Emma’s parents.  They gave me 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die for a birthday gift.  I’ll be busy reading.  I’ve decided I can’t die until I’ve read all 1001 books so I expect I’ll be alive for a very long time to come.  I already have a start on them, having read some of the classics as well as the modern novels, but there are still plenty left for me to read.

It’s cold and gray and gloomy here in the Bogs today.  The sun was supposed to put in an appearance but I think someone forgot to book it.

A quick Move 2008 update and then I am outa’ here.

  • Total mileage for the year:  983.361

I’ll be at 1,000 very soon.  Yay!

A good start

I’m off to a good start for my 50th year on the planet.  M and I went down to the exercise room and worked off some of the celebratory food and drink we’ve been indulging in this weekend.

5.1 miles of working it off for me.

Thanks! to my body for being strong and relatively healthy in spite of all the abuse I’ve heaped upon it.  I’m beginning to truly believe my body is my best friend as it surely does put up with a lot from me and still manages to come through.  I may have aches and pains, but if I exercise regularly, my body is very good about keeping those aches and pains down to a manageable level.  My body occasionally rewards me with pain-free days when I’ve been very, very good.

The most important thing I’ve learned about my body is that it likes to be in motion.

A huge THANKS! to everyone out there who has wished me a happy birthday.  I appreciate your good wishes and your friendship.  Thank you.



It’s snowing like crazy.

And the wonderful thing about it is that I got to play with my granddaughter in the snow.  Watching her have fun was better than blue skies and sunshine.  To me, she is the equivalent of blue skies and sunshine.

I think I may have spent too much time without my gloves (taking pictures, of course).  The tips of my fingers are hurting.

That sounds like a good enough reason to keep this short.

Thanks! to the Exquisite Emma for smiles, laughter, snowballs, fun, and tons of joy.

By the way, today is the last day of my 40’s.  The last day for me to be 49.  Tomorrow I’ll be 50.

I’m not sure what I think about that…

Not that it matters what I think.  After all, it is what it is.