Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving at Stinson Beach 2011

Sometimes you just need to say what you are thankful for.  I'm thankful for my family and friends.  I'm thankful for this awesome planet we are on, and all it's people, plants and animals, not to mention oceans, and land.  Here's a little family video highlighting some of what we enjoyed this Thanksgiving.

Jib Jab with Tim
This is my 150th blog post.  I'm at nearly 4,800 unique views. (If you wonder what that means, ask in the comments below.)

Why all the Jib Jab?
It's really been a fun project for me.  I think the most fun is finding someone or hearing from someone who's found some tiny bit about my blog they enjoy.  It's just plain exciting, and makes me happy.

A question I get regularly is, why do you do it?
To be honest, I ask myself that question regularly too.  It's a weird thing.  I can say, I definitely enjoy the writing, and shooting and editing the photos, and the composition, and thinking about how I can convey something, share something I've enjoyed, and pass it on.  I appreciate connecting with my family and friends and soon to be friends, and the blog is one way to do that.  I know 100%, some don't understand why I do it, and some would never do it.  Some say, why don't you just talk to people?  Or why don't you just send email to your friends and family?  Or, aren't you worried someone might find out (who you are, how to access you, security, something). Why do you make it public?  Well, this is where it gets tricky.  I hate the idea I'm offending anyone unintentionally.  At the same time, I love meeting new people.  I like someone accessing me.  I just plain like it.

What's next?
Just some ideas.
1)  Get a DSLR.  Okay, I do like the point and shoot.  I still have more to learn there.  That said, I would love to experiment with the new DSLRs today.
2) Move to Word Press.  I think it's just a better venue.  Blogger has been great, and it's so frigging easy.  Anyway, I see WordPress as taking it to a new level.
3)  I've said it before, I am saying it again.  I want to see if I can get more people engaged in dialogue, or some sort of back and forth.  It's really what I love about the whole thing, and really, I love having people who read it, and look at it themselves, and maybe or maybe not mention it when they see me.  I do get a charge out of seeing anonymous visitor counts going up.  Someone is reading!  I would like to encourage more conversation for those that would enjoy it.  Not sure what to do here, but something I would like to explore.  Along these lines, I would like to have guest posts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Butternut and Red Lentil Soup

Sometimes the best recipes in the world are the results of improvisation.  This soup is just that.  We are concentrating on getting ready for Thanksgiving, which means a lot of things.  I can't help but think about what I am thankful for.  In a way, it's too much.  I don't want to even say.  But Thanksgiving day sums up so much of it.  I love being around family and friends.  I love just hanging around, I love the cooking too.

Back to the soup.  It's a combination of broth from turkey soup we made a while back and froze.  The butternut squash I got, just because I wanted it, and baked it.  Like a lot of things Kirsty makes,  it's a bit of winging it, so the recipe won't be precise.
This is an image of the baked squash.  It's pretty much a gorgeous saturated orange color.

1 whole butternut squash
     halved, seeded and baked 1 hour at 350 degrees in 1/4 inch of water on a cookie sheet
1 quart turkey broth (unfrozen)
1/2 large onion chopped
1 leek white and light green parts chopped
2 Tbsp curry powdered
1 Tbsp ginger powdered
1 Tbsp garam marsala powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 pound dried red lentils

Saute onions and leek in butter and olive oil to a nice caramelized color.  Add the red wine to get all the goodness from the pan.  Reduce red wine.  Add to turkey and squash in a large pot.   Mix with the immersion mixer.  If you don't have one, either try the Cuisinart or blender.   Add spices and simmer.  We realized it was thinner than we wanted, so next came the red lentils.  I haven't seen these at the regular store.  We were at the Afgan market is where I found these.  They're tiny, relatively speaking, and a fairly bright (for beans) kind of orangish red.  They were about twice the price of the regular lentils, for what that's worth.  These lentils only took about 15-20 minutes to soften, and it's ready.  Salt and pepper to taste.  We garnished with spicy pumpkin and butternut squash seeds.

Jib Jab with Tim
This soup is one of those moments where everything just works.  It was so frigging good, especially the aftertaste, which was sweet and rich, I think the key is the combination of the lentils and squash.  I'm kind of excited about the butternut squash too.  It's a beautiful color, and a really sweet and delicious flavor, including the seeds, which we toasted, spicy seeds.

 Mom just had her birthday last week.  I'm not sure if she would mind me saying, she's 78 now.  Yep, she's still working.  I think she's talked about retiring about every year for the last 10 or 12 years.  She's a school nurse in an impacted school.  She still travels around the world, and out to San Francisco, where she's reading about a guy named Steve Jobs, pronounced Jobes. 
    "It's Jobs, mom. "
    "Oh, is it? Okay.  I wonder how Jobes got along with anyone?" 
    "I think some people had a hard time with Jobs, mom."
These are the spicy sweet pumpkin and butternut seeds.  I've toasted them in the oven, but these were done in a pan, and actually, now I think this is the way to do it.  Essentially, nothing in the pan, just the seeds.  Then add the seeds to the oil and spices.  That's it!

What's next? 
Yes, there are those peppers.  I've got a huge number of them.  I've been eying a bunch of recipes, and what I'm looking at is either exactly a recipe my sister-in-law shared for hot pepper sauce, or something with some oil.  The vinegar version I've made, thank you Jackie, and it turned out so good, and so easy.  I've got a couple jars in the fridge, one for Jackie.

The fridge is getting a little cleaned out, maybe to be refilled with Thanksgiving leftovers.  What a wonderful cycle.

What else? 
My cousin's twin boys.  Are they my cousins?  Or nephews?  I have no idea.  My cousin in Marquette, Michigan has twin sons, William and Daniel, or Bill and Dan.  They're going to join us for Thanksgiving!  I'm pretty excited about it.  They live in San Francisco, both fascinating and handsome and nice young men.  Their grandmother, my aunt Kallie was such a special person, and an important part of my life.  It's a special thing to connect, and have Dan and Bill for Thanksgiving.

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

I've been thinking about Thanksgiving for a few days, and even picked up a few things, like a couple pumpkins for pumpkin pie and butternut squash which Kirsty made awesome butternut squash and lentil soup.

My sister made these spiced seeds based on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine.  The problem with the Cooking Light recipe is exactly that, they were too light, so she doubled the spices, and added the paprika and Santa Fe chipotle chili powder.

1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Hungarian smoked paprika
1 tsp Santa Fe chipotle chili powder
1 tbsp canola oil


Put seeds in a saute pan on medium for about 4 minutes, just till they show a hint of browning.  They'll actually pop a little.  Mix up the spices then add the oil and seeds.  Cool seeds on a paper towel, single layer deep.

Jib Jab with Tim
I was wondering if the butternut squash seeds would be any good roasted, and they are.  Actually, we liked them better than the pumpkin seeds, which were really good too.   The butternut are fatter, and the hulls less-so.  All in all, these do have a bit of sweet, and mostly spicy, and altogether delicious.

Kirsty made some exceptional soup today.  So delicious, using our homemade turkey broth, the butternut squash and then she wanted to thicken in up, so we talked about adding potatoes, black beans, cannelloni beans, but we settled on some really good red lentils.  I'm going to do that recipe next.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hiking in Seattle, Olymic Foothills/Puget Sound

Brian and Bula took me for a walk in this beautiful wilderness area north of Brian's place.  He lives in Mukilteo, just across the Sound from Whidbey Island.  I've got to ask Brian again, the name of the area, about a ninety minute drive away, north.
 Boulder River Trail, Boulder River Wilderness - Puget Sound / Olympic Foothills WA
I did a little research, and Brian said this area is called the Boulder River Trail just beyond Arlington, about 20 miles, almost to Darrington.  You take a right on a nearly unmarked road off 530, called French Creek Road or Road 2010.  Parking and the trailhead is about 3.5 miles in.  In a nutshell, this is a gorgeous area, maybe typical of the Pacific Northwest.  Wet, drizzly, rainy, waterfalls, huge cedar, if not redwoods, huge maple, and others, lots of waterfalls, and moss and ferns and very dense.
We had an incredible hike to conclude my awesome trip to Seattle.  Bula is two, and a near-white golden retriever.  He's a total retriever, jumping in the river, sniffing the trail for creatures, and always waiting for his dad. Really nice pup.

Brian and I go way back.  As far back as any friend I have.  It was quite a treat to get together again, the first time I've visited him in his new home.  Ironically, we talked about the challenges of being parents, again and again, realizing what a challenge we were to our parents.  Ah, poetic justice.  I wonder if my parents will read this, and get a chuckle.

A man and his faithful friend.

Brian and Carol's view.  There's Whidbey Island across the Sound.  Ironically, this is where Rich and Cindy my new friends from the Bay area also have a house Rich has told me about.  Jennie, another friend from high school met my new friends Cindy and Rich on Whidbey.  Amazing coincidence, and all part of that connectedness.  :-)   Jennie Shortridge is an author who has inspired me with her writing, and now has helped my new friend who attended her writing workshop on Whidbey.

The bridge becomes a photo theme.

 These waterfall photos are taken after Brian gave me a photo tip.  I adjusted the shutter speed to about 1/10th of a second.  It gives the water that flowing look.  Very cool.  Thanks Brian! Brian is an awesome photographer now, and when we were kids.

Here's Brian's photo of the mushroom we found.  I really like how the light glows from the base of it, and the short depth of field creates twinkling hexagon reflections in the background.  These things weren't everywhere, which made it kinda special when we found them.  Nicely crafted photo Brian, nice job.