Monday, August 24, 2015

The granola bar recipe

granola bars

Recently, friends shared some granola bars with us... granola bars that their daughter had made.  I don't mind a good granola bar... my husband isn't a big fan of granola bars.  But these granola bars were WONDERFUL!  They were chewy and oaty and nutty and not too sweet.  These granola bars were the KING of all granola bars.  The family was leaving on vacation the next day, but they were kind enough to accommodate my request for the recipe, and they sent it to me before they left.  Being only a week away from my own vacation, I saved the recipe, put it aside, and then promptly forgot about it.

But last week I was reminded of the recipe, and more importantly, those granola bars, and I went back to the recipe.

Now, I've posted about recipes before, so you know that I like the rules and the formulas, even though I occasionally go 'off-track'.  But I like the rules and formulas  (yes, I know, I already said that, but I really like rules and formulas).  This recipe was more about going off-track than providing any sort of rules or formulas.  The ingredients list included entries like '2 or 3 cups', and it had more items that were optional than items that were required.  And in case the reader of the recipe was still feeling a bit constrained, at the end of the recipe was a long list of ingredients that you might want to substitute or add in.  This was NOT a Laurie-sort of recipe. The formulas were fuzzy and the rules were almost nonexistent.  The friends' daughter had included a couple of comments about things she'd done differently -- this did NOT help.

But boy oh boy, those had been some really outstanding granola bars.

So I put aside my pouty face, went to the cupboard, and dragged out all sorts of mandatory, optional, suggested and implied ingredients.  I went to work, trying to be the free-wheeling, unconstrained being that I am most definitely not.
And I was worried.
I was worried that we might like the granola bars and I would never know how to repeat them again, and I was worried that we might not like the granola bars and I wouldn't know what not to do, in the event I ever made a second stab at this.  So as I added each ingredient - listed or not - and as I measured the ingredients I was adding  (really?  2 or 3 cups?  what am I supposed to do with that suggestion?), I made detailed notes about what I was doing.

The resulting granola bars were BETTER than wonderful!  They were the TZAR of all granola bars! They were more than outstanding, they were phenomenal!

There now, see why it was such a good idea that I made a note of everything I did!

And then I realized that I'd forgotten to add the shredded coconut.  And the shredded coconut would have been really good.  I mean ... Really.  Good.

So.  Apparently I'm going to have to try this recipe again.  Except that this time, I'll simply use MY notes of ingredients and measures... and just go a tiny bit off-track and add a handful of shredded coconut.  Yeah, that will work.

By the way, in case you were wondering, those granola bars went great with a nice cup of tea.

I don't generally post recipes here, but it only seems fair, this time.  So in case you're interested, here is the original recipe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A real fish story

A few weekends ago, we were looking at a bad marine forecast.  Sure, the onshore weather was going to be fine, but some offshore storm moving up the east coast was going to leave us with choppy seas, and significant winds.We knew better than to try to get to our favorite boating/fishing spots... but that still left us with plenty of alternatives.  We headed out on Saturday to an area that was somewhat protected.... but after getting tossed around, decided to head closer to our home port.  Conditions weren't unsafe, they were just unpleasant.

We let out the trolling rigs, and went up and down the shore a few times, catching small fish - below the legal limit.  All of those get tossed back into the water, with the admonition "Grow!"  After all, there's always next year.  :-)

But then --

We caught a 'keeper'.  Minimum size of 28"...  and this one was 34", well over the legal limit. What a magnificent fish!   We cleaned it up, took it home, and turned it into 5 dinner-sized packages.  4 went into the freezer, and the fifth we enjoyed that night.

Sunday, conditions on the water were no better - perhaps a bit worse.  But that was ok. Although the weather was choppy and it was a bit breezy, the day was warm, and it was pleasant being on the water. We returned to the location we'd ended up the day before. Once again, we caught some undersized fish, and returned all of those to the water.  Once, we even had two fish on the trolling rig at the same time!  But as we always told Dad -- No!  You cannot add up the totals.  The minimum size applies to each individual fish!

Our day was nearing an end... and we considered it a success.  No fish in the fishbox, but we'd had plenty on the hook, and we'd had an enjoyable day.

And then we caught one more.

Now, these are striped bass that we're fishing for.  They're a very powerful, muscular fish.  So even the 'schoolies', the undersized fish, are fun to catch.  But this last fish was far from a schoolie.  Even before we saw it, we knew this was a big one.

This last fish measured 36 inches.  That's right, 3 feet of fish!

But of course, we'd caught a 34" fish the day before.  And there's only two of us.  We like fish, we eat a lot of fish, but I'd just added 4 more meals to the freezer.

We looked at each other, we looked at the fish, and we threw this outstanding specimen of a fish back into the water.  We couldn't say "Grow"...  the fish was plenty big enough.  So as we threw the fish into the water, we called out "Be Free!"

We went home, feeling very good about ourselves.  And what do I do when I feel good?  Why, I have a cup of tea, of course.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Move Your Butts

Ok, people.... pet peeve time, here.

I've known a lot of smokers in my time - after all, doctors didn't begin to link lung cancer and cigarette smoking, until around 1950.  Even by 1960, only a third of all doctors believed that cigarette smoking was bad for you.  So when I was a child, a significant majority of the adults I knew, were smokers. And once someone becomes a smoker, it's very difficult to quit.

But this post isn't about those who began smoking before the risks were known, or those who began smoking long after the risks were known, or even the difficulties of quitting.

This post is about the NASTY and DISGUSTING  and INEXCUSABLE habit that some smokers have, of leaving their butts wherever they happen to be.

No, I'm not talking about a fire hazard.  Yes, I know that many such smokers will make the argument that the remains of a cigarette are biodegradable, so there's no reason why it shouldn't be ok to just leave the butt on the ground.  But I'm not buying that argument.

First, most cigarettes today have acetate filters.  That acetate filter takes many years to decompose.   That's not what I call biodegradable.

Next, that filter is full of a wide variety of toxic chemicals; after all, that's the purpose of the filter. Every time a smoker drops their cigarette butt into a storm drain, or on the street or in a gutter -  where the next rainstorm carries it into a storm drain, or on that nature trail, the wind and the rain carries that butt into the water system.  What happens then?  Those toxic chemicals leak out into the aquatic ecosystem.   Yes, the aquatic ecosystem is large.  Yes, one cigarette butt is small.  But there's not just one, they add up.

Dog owners aren't allowed to leave dog poop on the ground; we expect dog owners to pick up after their dogs.  And dogs aren't harmful to your health.

If the cigarette butt is cold enough that it can be left on the ground without causing a fire hazard, it's cold enough for the smoker to put it in his or her pocket.  If the thought of that makes you go ewwwww   --  well, that's what I do every time I see one of your butts on the ground.  And if you really don't want to put it in your pocket, then you can carry around a little plastic bag until you get home, just like dog owners do.

Yes, I do realize that there are some smokers who clean up after themselves... and this post is not aimed at them.  Re-read the beginning... this isn't about smokers, it's about smokers who leave their butts around.

I'd say I feel better now that I've had my little rant.  But I don't.  Because before I sit down to my much-needed cup of tea, I have to go clean up the cigarette butts that are in my yard.