Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Early blooms at Red Butte Garden

Pink Magnolia

Things are slowly beginning to bloom. I love the way the color slowly sweeps over the garden.

This tree is amazing. In the Fall it was covered with yellow berries. Now, it has thousands of furry . . . what are they? The word "catkins" comes to mind.

I love these. They grow early and small like crocuses, but they look just like tiny irises!

More of them. Blues and violets.

She definitely has more hair than she used to

Also, better balance.

So tiny!

He looks like he is racewalking here. Did I ever tell you about the time I was roped into the racewalking event at a track meet? (I believe Beth participated as well?) The really embarrassing part is that I got second place.

Junie regarding the world with suspicion

I always love seeing what's happening behind the main subject of the picture (here, Junie looks patient)

Cooking Hard-Boiled Eggs at High Altitude

I've read a million (no, really: a million) different methods for "perfect" hard-boiled eggs, ranging from vinegar in the water to old eggs to ice baths to whatever else. Many of them stress that you shouldn't really "hard-boil" the eggs, but instead bring them just to a boil and then let them simply sit in the hot water for a certain amount of time, to ensure the egg won't be rubbery. It sounds plausible, but none of these methods have ever worked reliably for me!  I haven't been able to find many methods that take high altitude into account, and maybe that's the problem.

Anyway, of course it ended up being my mom's method that works for me every time. I don't know why I kept looking online when I should have just asked her. (In fact I DID use her method when I was living at home, but later I forgot and sought "cooking experts" online instead. Let that be a lesson to me.) I make no promises, because each of those other million methods made promises: "this works every single time," "this never fails," "the shells come off in huge elegant pieces," "the yolks are buttery-smooth"---and each one of them STILL didn't work. Which tells me there must be a bunch of other variables involved.  But anyway, for anyone who is searching for how to cook hard-boiled eggs at high altitude (just in time for Easter!), this way works for me.

1. Put several eggs in a saucepan (try to pack them in fairly tight so they don't have too much room to roll around). Cover them with cold water, add some salt to the water, and put them on the stove over high heat.

2. Bring the water to a boil.  I had a cooking teacher who made us learn to hear the difference between boiling and non-boiling water in a lidded pan (so we didn't have to lift the lid and let all the heat out).  Anyway, stick around close so you can listen (or peek in) to know when the water starts boiling.  As soon as it does, put a lid on the pan (if it's not on already), turn down the heat to low, and set a timer for 12 minutes.

3. When the timer rings, turn off the heat, take the pan off, pour out the boiling water in the sink, and re-cover the eggs with cold water. (Do this a few times, since the hot pan will heat the cold water pretty fast at first.)  Let them sit in the cold water for 5 minutes or so.  You can then refrigerate them for later, or peel them.

4. When you do peel the eggs, do it under cold running water. I think this helps break the bond between the shell and that under-membrane beneath (?).
UPDATE: Sam actually thinks that peeling them under WARM running water works better, and I think I agree. We've had more success with this lately, anyway.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bunny-go-round

*Disclaimer: This is not a "DIY" (is that purely a written word? Because I find "do-it-yourself" much easier to say, and "DIY" confuses me even when I try to say it in my head) by any means. It's really just a gratuitous excuse to show you these cute bunnies.

I'm so tempted to buy everything at Eastertime, because everything has bunnies on it! I have to mentally repeat to myself when I'm at the store: "Must--not--decorate--entire--house--with--bunnies." (I would add, "Must not dress little girls in bunny clothing all the time"---but then, why not?) So, recently, with admirable restraint, I passed over many other bunny-festooned objects at Pier 1, and only bought these five little moss bunnies-on-sticks. (See how I phrased that, Sam?) I had no vision for them, but I knew something would come to me and in the meantime my children would enjoy hopping them around the house.

A few days later, in a flash of inspiration, I realized they looked like carousel bunnies. So I made a bunny-go-round for them.

I'm not very good at projects like this. Even when I force myself to do things like draw pattern lines and use a ruler, I can't visualize what I need to do before doing it, so I always end up just jumping in and hoping something works before I burn through all my supplies on failed attempts (a very real danger). When all else fails, luckily, my Resident Artist can usually find some workaround for all the hasty mistakes I've made.

Thus, I don't attempt to give you any instructions here. I used dowels and wooden beads and Styrofoam and craft paint and rickrack and scrapbook paper and hot glue and posterboard and a plastic cake board. (Which is a sort of microcosm of the crafter's world, when I think of it.) And I just looked at pictures of carousels and  fiddled around with it all until it sort of held together. So it's a bit crooked and there's a part where the rickrack ran out so I had to draw in the rest of it with a yellow marker (no one will ever notice!), but it does actually turn, which I felt that it must do. And it does have bunnies on it, so we'll call it a success.

And they really are so cute, these little mossy hoppers with their halos of sunshine!