I kneaded to do this…

Oy, the puns…

For my birthday, I received a class on whole grains and baking at the the King Arthur Baking Education Center in Norwich VT. What a great time! The class was instructive, and even after baking for years, I learned a few things.

Namely, that the reason I make leaden loaves when using whole wheat and whole grains is that I add too much flour. The dough for whole grain breads is incredibly, almost unbelievably, sticky. It stuck to everything–my hands, the dough scraper, I mean everything! But, the end results speak for themselves:

Whole wheat sourdough loaves, from starter.

Whole wheat sourdough loaves, from starter.

In addition to the whole wheat sourdough, we made a seeded whole wheat bread with their Harvest Grains blend:

Left, whole wheat sourdough boules, Right, Seeded whole wheat batards.

Left, whole wheat sourdough boules, Right, Seeded whole wheat batards.

Doesn’t take long before one gets into fresh bread…I also made a stop at Sugarbush Farms, makers of some of the best cheddar cheese I’ve ever had:

Vermont bounty...

Vermont bounty...

Again, it’s so amazing to live in the Northeast, where you can take a class at King Arthur, then go pick up some incredible cheese, in just over an hour or so from home.

22

11 2009

Laws and Sausages

Otto von Bismarck is famously quoted as having said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

I used to work as a lobbyist, and I concur on the law portion of the quote. However, I recently embarked on the process to make my own sausages, and since I have control of what goes in, it’s honestly nowhere near as disconcerting as seeing legislation being crafted.

Homemade sausages.

Homemade sausages.

I always seem to have help when I am in the kitchen…

Ralph doing quality control work.

Ralph doing quality control work.

22

11 2009

Ever wonder…

Women’s magazines are forever referencing different fruits when describing the shape of the female body.

Have you ever wondered where they got the notion, to, say, refer to a “pear shaped” figure?
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No? Are you sure?
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It was hard to eat that pear, it was so cute. It had a bottom!

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13

11 2009

Sweet Ride…

Well, I drive a rather predictable and reliable vehicle, however dull.

Given the chance though, this would be a fairly sweet (ha, ha!) ride, but probably not great on the highway with SUVs.

Do you think it runs on chocolate?

Do you think it runs on chocolate?

25

10 2009

What compelled this warning?

Recently, I decided to get rid of a bunch of random and obviously unused furniture that I had been storing in a PODS unit. I came across the following sign:

Um...

Um...

I certainly hope that this was spurred by lawyers run amok, and not any kind of actual event. Seriously, “check inside…for children and animals…”?

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01

10 2009

Ralph, in Autumn

Ralph, our wonderful dog, had a nice long walk this last weekend. He’s getting older–around 11, the vet believes–but he still loves his walks and while he is slowing down he has streaks of puppy-like behavior.

I truly love this animal. He adds so much to our lives.

Ralph, considering the change in seasons.

Ralph, considering the change in seasons.

28

09 2009

Be a good neighbor

Several of my Facebook friends pointed to this piece today, alarmed at the implications of the story—the gist of which is that somehow Bible study is being singled out in this case. The piece most of them linked to does not mention how many people this Pastor was having over on a weekly basis, and I asked but didn’t receive a response. Actually, that isn’t true—one person did respond pointing out that weekly football parties, sewing clubs, and so on are also disruptive. (For those who haven’t had the opportunity to review the stories, Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary are in a dispute with San Diego County over the use of their home for a weekly Bible study group.)

So I did some poking around, and the pastor is quoted in another article as saying there are typically “around 15 people,” and while they “usually” park on his property “sometimes it spills over into the cul-de-sac.”

It’s time to take a deep breath.

This pastor, who has been hosting more than a dozen people at his home (located in a cul-de-sac) once a week for FIVE years doesn’t seem to have spent too much time thinking about his neighbors. It feels to me like they were just waiting to have a reason to complain, and when one of the Bible study participants (allegedly) hit the vehicle of one of the neighbors, the complaints to the county started. I’m a pretty understanding person, but if one of our neighbors hosted 15 people (and let’s be honest, if he’s saying 15 it’s probably more likely than not around 20) once a week for five years, I’d be pretty put out too.

So, the county very correctly investigated this, most likely trying to determine which (not if) county ordinances have been violated. Most areas do have ordinances that restrict land use, and maybe it’s the number of people involved, maybe it’s the weekly nature of the meetings, but it’s entirely possible that these meetings do violate an existing land use ordinance. For example, the events listed above: Football parties are seasonal activities, not year round. Sewing clubs? Not part of my repertoire, but I’m pretty sure that when I lived in Chicago, there were village ordinances that placed restrictions on reoccurring weekly activities—due in large part to the number of women in the area who had turned Mary Kay, candle, and Pampered Chef parties into what amounted to at-home businesses by having said “parties” weekly and screwing up traffic in residential areas. You also cannot hold a yard sale every single Saturday—it’s considered a business at that point.

It’s not just religious activities that are targeted here, but you wouldn’t know it for the hue and cry. A few thoughts/questions:

Did any of the neighbors ever tell this couple that this activity was bothersome? If so, why didn’t they arrange to mitigate the problem—say, by carpooling as many as possible to reduce the number of cars in the area? Or, how about limiting the number of people there weekly—rotate the group, again, to reduce disruption to the neighbors?

If the neighbors didn’t try and solve this before it reached this point, bad on them. But if they did, and the Pastor ignored it, or resorted to the “it’s our house, we can do what we want” position, then shame on him. Regardless, not realizing what impact he was having on his neighbors isn’t exactly Christian either, now is it?

When you live in a community, you should take your neighbors’ feelings into consideration. When you don’t, the county will do it for you via ordinance. And when you violate those ordinances, either unintentionally or willfully, expect someone to do something about it.

Just don’t make a federal case out of your inability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

To me, those neighbors were incredibly patient. Dozens of people, every week—the fact that there haven’t been multiple complaints for a while is rather remarkable. I don’t care if you are holding a Bible study, a cooking club, or Wiccan ceremonies, if you live in a neighborhood, it’s just not appropriate to subject your neighbors to this every.single.week.

29

05 2009

Thankfully, something to laugh about…

My husband competes in motorcycle rallies, and was in one over the holiday weekend…and had, as he put it, “an incident.”

All is well, but the laugh of the day (and I’m so happy there is one) came a day later. The stage captain asked him “were you recently married?” My hubby: “yes, just last month–why?” Stage captain: “when we got to you, you kept using the words wife and girlfriend interchangeably. We weren’t sure who to call…”

Again, thankfully, LOL.

26

05 2009

Chocolate…yum

I attended my first-ever chocolate tasting last evening, hosted by Dancing Lion Chocolate. What a great time–not only did I get to taste some amazing chocolates, I met some really nice people too.

Having attended more than my fair share of wine tastings, I knew what to expect in the way of identifying scents, mouthfeel, primary and secondary characteristics, and so on. The nice thing about chocolate tastings though, is you get to consume the chocolate, rather than spitting it out as you must do at a wine tasting, lest you get too snockered to even remember what wines you’ve had. (Sidebar: one of the funniest pieces P. J. O’Rourke has written, in my opinion, was a wine tasting with Christopher Buckley, where the two of them actually drank the wines and kept taking tasting notes. It’s included in his book “CEO of the Sofa.” Hilarious.)

My favorite chocolate of the evening was a Tainori chocolate from the Dominican Republic. I thought it really opened up considerably as it melted, and I loved how it developed. A close second was a Palmira chocolate from Venezuela.

It’s always encouraging to see what passionate people produce. I’m fortunate in that New Hampshire seems to be a place where these types of foodies not only exist, but are actually findable. I get my coffee from a micro-roaster in Nashua called Riverwalk Cakery, and amazing cheeses from Butter’s in Concord. I’m thrilled to be adding another terrific local source/producer to the list.

23

05 2009

About

I’m Jen Zingsheim, this is my personal blog. While I’ve been working with blogs and posting to others for a while now, this is my first attempt at publishing in my own space. We’ll see how it goes…

21

05 2009