Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Naked Sunfish - Iceland

I promise to return to my Iceland series later this week. I haven't forgotten about it, just been busy, in part writing this travel piece.

If you didn't know I wrote for the Naked Sunfish (cuz you haven't been following me on Twitter or Facebook) I do.

This round I did a travel piece and not my regular Hopscotch.

I cannot say enough good things about the Naked Sunfish. It is a labor of love and every issue is better than the previous. It is an honor.

So - go check out Iceland - A Beautiful Study in Ambiguity and Irony

Monday, August 29, 2011

Music Monday: Don McLean American Pie

This weekend felt more like fall than summer. Autumn is in the air. The kids and I went to a large farmer's market on Saturday. I love this market, it is big, with so much fantastic local produce. Lots to choose from, but it is crowded. If it were just crowded that would be one thing, but it is crowded with some of the rudest people I have ever run into. Three old ladies nearly ran the kids and I down, clamoring for melons. One older lady hit E in the head with a bag of produce,  she was completely self absorbed. I am not sure how I feel about the families who come to this crowded market with their double stroller and two large dogs. Really? I am all for family time, but the sidewalks are so crowded and the dogs the size of ponies.

It wasn't all bad. We ran into some friendly dogs and we listened to some great live music. L was taken with the man singing and playing the guitar. We loaded up on the items I needed and and wanted. It was wonderful.

Now is the time of year when berries are a thing of the past and the first apples are appearing in our CSA. We are seeing less lettuce and more root veggies.

I think there is something decidedly American about apple pie.

As we all know, I eat a gluten free diet, among other things. Pie for me flew out the window about 6 years ago. This is a pity, I grew up eating my grandmother's fantastic fruit pies. All summer long we had a variety of wonderful pies. H's mom made decent fruit pies also.

Since giving up working for the man, I have taught myself to make pie crust from scratch and experimented with various fruit fillings. I even made a pecan pie using some coconut nectar a friend gave me. None of this I can eat. Not even a tiny taste.

While I have perfected some decent gluten free baked items, many of which I have shared here, for the most part gluten, I have decided, is part of what makes most baked goods good. It is integral to their character.

But those apples.

Beautiful late summer apples. They are so good. So good and pretty that I hated to just default to apple sauce or make yet another gluten free apple crisp. I wanted an apple pie. So when I saw one of my Tweeps was experimenting, I thought I would try too.

The key I decided is in the flour mix. You cannot go straight rice flour or sorghum flour. It has to be a blend. Recently I bought a bag of Namaste Flour Blend.

This blend contains sweet brown rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, sorghum flour and

xanthan gum.   

My first try I uses my standard double crust recipe and subbed the 2 cups of flour for two cups of this blend and proceeded normally. I then rolled out the crust and made no pan crust on the pizza stone, folded up the sides partially covering some apples sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and away we went.

It was too much crust, but it tasted good.

Yesterday, I decided for book club, I would try making a tart or as one of the very astute ladies in the book club pointed out, a galette. Again using the same plan as before, I made my normal pie crust using 2 cups of the Namaste flour blend and one stick of organic butter and adding 2 tablespoons of sugar. Then using the food processor, I add water by tablespoons until the dough begins to ball up. (about 6-7 tablespoons of ice water.)

I rolled this out on wax paper, carefully formed it in the tart pan and then popped in the fridge over night.

The hard part is rolling. This dough has no stretch. I normally get a double crust from this recipe when I use normal flour, but this same version using the gluten free flour blend is only going to yield one single crust. Gluten equals stretch.

Sliced apples the next day, layered them in the pan, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and dotted that with butter.

It looked so pretty.

Here is a before shot, just as I popped it in the oven.

and the after

The apples held up nicely, but released their juices, which blended with the sugar and cinnamon and butter to make a moist filling and the crust is perfect. The ladies at book club loved it and I thought it worked beautifully. My next step is to try for a real pie. I think I can do it. This flour blend seems to have what I need to make a short crust, which isn't crumbly.

So while you dream about apple tarts and apple pies and crisp, short satisfying gluten free pie crust, why not listen to American Pie by Don McLean. While this song is sad and wistful, I have always liked it. The gentleman at the market was singing it and L was dancing and that I think is the test of a classic, can it reach beyond the generation who created it? Does the music still resonate? Do we still think about it, even after he who created it faded from existence?

Kinda like apple pie??

Thursday, August 25, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge

I am doing something fun and creative this September. A Photo Challenge. I know I am a writer, not a photographer but I love the idea and I need something to jump start my creativity! (Maybe I will write some poems to go with the photos. Who knows.)

Allison over at Show &Tell is sponsoring/hosting the challenge.

I will be posting daily photos on this blog. She also has a open flikr set up, the 411 on that route is here.

So hang on and let the clicking begin.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Music Monday: We Speak No Americano

This week we are feeling light-hearted here on the Edge! Saturday night H and I went to L's Summer Showcase at her dance studio. It was out in the park at the amphitheater.  If mosquitoes were fleshing eating bugs, my legs would resemble Swiss Cheese. Instead I look like I am having a repeat of the chicken pox.

The girls got to act as dancers and choreographers for this show. So much talent. These young women have talent and passion for their art.

A group of the older girls choose this new to me song and then they danced the hell out of it. The dance was well executed, fun and flirty.

I think this song is great and the various videos on You Tube are funny too.


Yolanda Be Cool and  DCup - We Speak No Americano

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What's in a name?

I recently discovered that others, who feel the same way about protecting their online identities and exercising their right to choose, how much, when, to whom and under what circumstances they will allow online intimacy to occur have started a new website to share their stories.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my relationship with what has become known as pseudonymity. I referenced the Ting-Ting's songs - That's Not My Name. That post by the way was one of my most read posts in the history of this blog.

I urge you to go check out the website My Name is Me. There are some amazing stories being told. It is important for all of us to have the right to choose, when and how we choose to build intimacy in our day to day lives, both in person and online. Our world is very different now and it is not impossible to have a friend across the globe you have never met before. It is not impossible to build virtual communities.

For some people letting it all hang out makes sense to them, to others, like me, we are cautious for a variety of reasons. As I said before, it really is up to the person disclosing, where they choose to draw the line.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Music Monday: End of Summer

I cannot believe summer is over already. Time flies. It was a good summer. E had some fantastic field trips with his Explorers group. He has looked forward to this for YEARS! Since his sister did it a few years ago.

L has done some camps and relaxed this summer. She is fun to have around the house. We have not gone swimming as much as she would have liked and we have not done ALL the fun stuff she wanted, but we did have some good times and it was truly the relaxed summer I wanted for her. The pressures of school are alot for little ones and I think having a time to relax and do what she wants to do, was very important.

So while on one hand I am looking forward to school and the regular schedule, I have to say, I am going to miss having the kids around...

So as summer fades to fall - all I can say is it has been a cool summer...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Music Monday: REM and Scropions and the tanking market

REM - It's the End of the World as We Know It.

Scorpions - Winds of Change

I held off writing today, I was watching the stock market. Something I used to do all the time. Now I am a casual observer.

I hope everyone is happy now. Today most of you lost somewhere close to 6.6 % of your 401K's value  (if you took an investment advisers advice and bought the Index fund - or buy the market), give or take a few basis points. (basis points, look it up, it is how bankers talk percentages.)

How many of you dear readers vote? How do you make that selection? With your mind or your heart. Is the financial solvency of this country as important to you as bullshit social issues that have no business being part of the legislative agenda? Is your family's financial solvency as important as those social issues. By my unscientific estimation more legislative energy goes into meddling in our bedrooms than into actually solving the very real financial problems staring us in the face.

The fact of the matter is as a nation we spend way more than we take in. It is simple as that. We exempt businesses from paying taxes, which I think is silly and frankly we must be one of the only countries doing that. making money in the US means paying your fair share. (Um, hello GE I am talking to you!)

Our nation's economy looks alot like the room featured in the REM video and I am willing to bet you that half of the Congress people couldn't find Gorky Park on a map and better than 3/4 quarters of Americans have no clue where it is either. (But I bet they can find the Jersey Shore and tell you the names of the whiny women on Desperate Housewives.) We are a nation of lazy, greedy, short sighted, individualists. No one wants to take responsibility for anything - and the Congress actually thought it would be ok going on vacation when they left the FAA unfunded. (And FYI the airlines had given themselves a 7.5% untaxed raise while collecting those un-legislatively collectable taxes) WTF? Vacation is a perk most of us have to earn, not an entitlement people. What happened to working harder there guys?

The debt crisis and the credit downgrade is no laughing matter people. We are a huge international player and we used to be the gold investment standard. Nothing was better than US treasuries. NOTHING. It has been a long time since I would have considered buying a US government debt instrument, for a lot of reasons.

I hope this sucker punch to your 401K accounts wakes you up. When you vote in November I hope you know who had your back when it came to minding the federal checkbook.

The Winds of Change are blowing indeed... I am thinking moving up wind or up North might be in everyone's best interest or better yet shit canning most of Washington, their bullshit and their obvious self interests... they serve at our pleasure and right now, I am 16 kinds of displeased.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Iceland Inspired: Traveling with Kids and the beauty of a guesthouse

I know you want pictures, but it is my series and I am writing as things bubble forth, it will be worth the wait, I promise.

So L is almost 9 and E is 6. We have not stopped traveling but traveling is harder with young children. They have sleep schedules, nap times, grumpy times and short attention spans. There are limitations in terms of how much walking, looking, trekking and the like they are willing and frankly capable of in any given day. H and I spent many an afternoon in our hotel bathroom when we went to Germany the first time with L in tow, when she was 20 months old, in an effort to get her to take a nap. It was not fun, it made H very grumpy.

I will admit kids have crimped H and I's wanderlust just a bit. Or so I had thought. This trip, we all traveled well, managed to be sweet and even tempered and we had a great time. Part of this is the kids are older and I have learned how to manage them a bit better. One has to be realistic.

I knew I was in trouble on our honeymoon, when after weeks of stress, a long ass flight, lost luggage and some wacky timezone insomnia, we sit down by the pool, for a day of relaxation and tranquility pool side, H, five minutes in says to me, "I am going to go check out the other pool." Then 5 minutes later, "Maybe I will go for a swim." Five minutes later, "Are you really going to sit here all morning? Don't you want to go for a walk on the beach?" I finally said, "Do you want to go for a drive." That was the last time, the entire trip we sat by the pool. H is not a sitter. He is a doer. He likes to trek.

H treks with the strength and determination of a bull. This is a great thing really. One of the things I really love about him. Give him a map, point him in a direction and he can find anything. He is ready and willing to adventure. We did this on our first trip to Europe. We had some beginning points and end points and we made up the rest as we went along. We ask locals what they like, what do they think is worth seeing. We look through the guidebooks and free local papers. We are urban adventurers.

Little kids can make this sort of wandering harder. They want to eat at certain times, sleep at certain times and can be picky about food, sleeping conditions and the like.

For a while this was a confounding muddle, now I think I have worked some of the kinks, again some of it is the natural aging process and some of it is proper planning.

Sleep, I have found is the key ingredient to happy and manageable, agreeable children.

Behold the power of a suite. Sleep is also the key ingredient to happy and patient and unfrazzled parents.

My advice, spring for a suite.

(Also, I have to say, for me, given my food issues, a kitchen or access to a kitchen is a must. I jut cannot eat in a restaurant night after night, playing roulette with my tummy.  Also I find that the kiddos do better with lunch out and dinner in.)

In Iceland, I found a Guest house with an apartment, which was like a suite. I found this by letting google do the searching. It was a total score.

Butterfly Guesthouse, centrally located, clean and breakfast is included. It was exactly what we needed and the owners were super friendly and helpful. There was absolutely nothing we did not like about this guesthouse. I would happily stay there again in a heart beat.

 (this is from their website, in all 405 pictures I took, it never occurred to me to photograph the Guesthouse.)

I had a feeling going in, that this would be the best bet. Why you say? Because I got a good vibe from the email exchanges and the telephone call. I went with my gut and it was right on. It helps that H and I have stayed in many European guesthouses and we know what to expect.

I really cannot say enough nice things about Thuridur and Jon's charming guesthouse. It was super clean, there advice was top notch and they have a car available for rental also.

The kids felt at home and comfortable and it really was worth every penny.

We arrived late Monday night and their son met us, guided us upstairs and to my surprise and delight, there was milk in the fridge, a selection of cereals and teas. Perfect. The kids needed something in their tummies before we crashed after a long day of travel. This had been my concern about arriving late, but it turned out well.

We took Tuesday easy, allowing the kids to "sleep in" and then just had an unstructured day of grocery shopping and wandering. We were early to bed Tuesday night, thus getting ourselves easily on Iceland time. Sure we "lost" a day of trekking time, BUT the kids were manageable because they were well rested for the balance of the trip. H chaffs at this notion. He wants to see it all. With kids however - one must balance seeing it all with enjoying that which you do see. At least I think so.

Next Up - How we spent our amazing Wednesday!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Music Monday: Death Cab for Cutie LIVE

This week I am featuring a band, who I have discussed before in one of my first Music Monday posts. I am re-featuring them, because last week I went to their concert. It was a last minute decision and I am so glad I made the choice to go, even though it might not have been the best thing to do before heading out on a 7 hour road trip. But then, it is about living life and not always doing the best thing.

If you want a professional type concert review, might I suggest you check this post out, which a tweep of mine wrote. (Casey's review is totally worth clicking thru, just sayin! You know you want to.)

For me, the tone deaf, musically clueless, it is less about the music and more about my own senses. I like music that makes me feel. If I am really honest, I am into the lyrics... what the song makes me feel. The musicality is secondary. That said, sometimes a collection of guitar rifs and thumping drums, do make my bones rattles and give me chills, but in general, I am no judge of musicality.

Therefore I have often had a love hate relationship with Death Cab. Musically I think they are great, lyrically, they often grab me by the heart and shake me. As I stood outside, on a relatively comfortable late July night, it hit me. Not only do I generally like their sound, appreciating the musical variety, I am in awe sometimes of the precision of their lyrics. I think their music is precise too, I think they are inclined to be musically perfect, but it is the overall economy of words and the precision of each word that keeps me coming back. This is not poetry of the ambiguous. This is pointed, sometimes sharp and sometimes sentimental. Always moving. This is music with a profound message, if you are willing to really listen. Sure sometimes there is a catchy tune, but that is just the hook, for those on auto-pilot, it makes for charming mood music, but if you listen with your heart as well as your ear, I think you will find an unexpected depth and soul.

I do anyway.

I found these clips on you tube! I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed last week's show.

And one of my favs.

The show made me think and I think there will be more poetry, more things to explore. What is music after, if not poetry brought to life.