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yearning (ideals rev. 2)

This morning's sermon was a revision of a sermon I preached this summer, with the middle gutted and retooled. If you've read my past sermons, you'll keep bumping into familiar bits.
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YearningCollapse )

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Life

mom (calling): Jamie! Jamie!
me: yes?
mom: Tell me what to do.
me (handing her pants and a top): Well, you could get dressed.
mom (holding up pants): ... How do I put these on?
me: Well, um, you put one leg in one side, and the other leg in the other side. Is that what you mean?
mom (putting on pants): "What's wrong with me?"
me: "Um, do you mean mentally, or physically? What do you mean?"
mom: "I don't know."
me: "Well, you have alzheimers, and you have congestive heart failure. ...Would you like some coffee?"
mom: Yes. And then will you tell me what's wrong with me?
me: "Mom, the mental fog is alzheimers, and the physical stuff is congestive heart failure."
mom: "What did I do to get myself in this position?"
me (handing her coffee): "Nothing, mom, life just happens. This is life."

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keurig flavours

A list for myself, to keep track of my impressions of the keurig "k-cup" flavours I try. Posted publicly on the theory that others might also be using or thinking of using keurig, and I always like to peruse reviews.

(Purples are keepers.)

• Caribou caribou blend -- 2 stars. Slightly bitter flavour, watery, not rich. Poor finish: slight unpleasant aftertaste.
Caribou sumatra -- 5 stars. Pleasant earthy flavour, balanced acidity, pleasant finish.
Coffee People Donut Shop -- 5 stars. Excellent flavours, nice blend. Not at all acidic or bitter. Cheerful up-front flavours: very little finish.
Coffee People kona blend island style -- 4.5 stars. Closer to a varietal than a blend: nice up-front flavour with a mild earthy undertone. Not bitter, not too acidic. Mild finish.
• Diedrich sumatra -- 3 stars. Pleasant, but weak flavour, extremely light finish. There's not much "there" there.
• Emeril's big easy intense -- 3.5 stars. Pleasant but narrow up-front flavour, very mild aftertaste. Nothing bad here, but also nothing to rave about.
Green Mountain extra bold sumatran reserve -- 5 stars. Good strong rich earthy flavour, balanced acidity, not bitter, nice finish. fair trade.
Green Mountain Nantucket Blend -- 4.5 stars. Good medium-rich taste, not bitter. Pleasant earthy finish.
• Green Mountain extra bold Kenyan AA -- 3.5 stars. Pleasant enough, but a bit weak for an 'extra bold.' Nice varietal. Balanced acidity. Pleasant earthy finish.
• Green Mountain extra bold summer safari blend -- 3 stars. Weak for an 'extra bold,' not unpleasant, but also not rich. Mediocre finish. fair trade.
• Tully's kona blend -- 4 stars. Good strong flavour, not too acidic.
• Van Houtte Pérou -- 2.5 stars. Mildly bitter flavour, slight earthy initial finish followed by mildly bitter aftertaste. Not unpleasant, but too weak for a varietal. fair trade.
Van Houtte Kenya Kilimandjaro extra bold -- 4.5 stars. Nice varietal: one clean flavour. Full-bodied flavour holds into finish.
Van Houtte Africana -- 4 stars. Nice full flavour for a medium-bodied blend. (Pleasantly?) bitter notes continuing into finish. fair trade.

I'm still adding to the list. I'm also still tweaking ratings. The tastings are separated in time, and it's sometimes hard to discern whether today's 2.5 stars is really better than last week's 2 stars, or if they're about the same. I'm also much more inclined to retaste and compare the higher rankings than the lower.

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keurig

So, I took one look at how much I was spending for two people to get daily coffee at Dunkin Donuts, and promptly decided it was time to replace my poor dead coffee machine.

One of the reasons I hadn't done this earlier is that my old coffee machine lived upstairs, in an alcove off my living room, and even before it died had fallen into disuse. The only kitchen in the house is downstairs, and I share it with my mother. (By 'share,' I mean I purchase all the food, I do all the cooking, I do most of the cleaning except when I basically *force* my mother to do dishes, and my mother ransacks/destroys/messes up whatever she can reach. Think the worst housemate you ever had, give that housemate an out-of-control six-year-old child, and that's living with mom.)

So I didn't want to deal with putting a coffee machine where mom would have access to it. And while I do have a bathroom -- two of them, in fact -- complete with sink, neither sink is well-shaped to deal with cleaning a carafe.

So, I've bought a keurig. It's got a good reservoir of water which doesn't need to be filled every day, and which doesn't need daily washing. It makes each mug of very hot coffee (temperature can be controlled if one wants less heat) in about fifteen seconds, after an initial 4-minute warm-up period which it can be programmed to do automatically (it's got a digital clock/timer.) Each pod -- thus each mug -- costs about 46¢* (5 for $2.30, 24 for $10.99.)

There's a wide range of folks who make 'k-cup' pods: for flavour testing I've ordered 5 pods each of
• sumatran reserve organic extra bold from green mountain coffee
• dietrich coffee sumatra
• caribou coffee sumatra
• wolfgang puck sumatra kopi raya
• coffee people kona blend island style extra bold
• tully's coffee kona blend extra bold
• green mountain coffee kenyan AA extra bold
• green mountain coffee summer safari
• green mountain coffee nantucket blend

Clearly I favour indonesian / island coffees!

The sample pack which shipped with the keurig also included flavoured coffees (vanilla, hazlenut) and twinings tea (earl grey,) as well as other brands of coffee (gloria jean's, emeril, van houtte.) One can purchase coffee, tea, and hot cocoa pods.

It's possible also to buy reusable pod inserts to use if one grinds one's own beans. When I had my own kitchen to myself, I always ground my beans, but given the distance between the machine and the kitchen sink, the lack of mess is worth using the pre-packed pods, and the mug I had this morning (Green Mountain extra bold sumatran reserve) was delicious.

I did have to go looking for reasonable prices on these k-cups -- buying from Amazon generally puts the cost per cup over $1.00! -- but 46¢ per mug seems fairly reasonable. (When I was grinding my own beans, I never did the math to figure out how many 9.25oz mugs I got out of an $11 bag of beans, but 24 doesn't seem *that* far off.)

Mmmm, maybe I'll splurge today, and treat myself to a second mugful... maybe a caribou blend?
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* edit: with the "warranty" code at keurig, one can get 96 pods for $25.11 shipped, or about 26¢ per pod. It's a one-time only deal, but shopping carefully one seems to be able to find other deals like this. I've never seen such pricing variety in a product:
Green Mountain Nantucket Blend, box of 24 for $22 at Amazon: 92¢ each
Green Mountain Nantucket Blend, box of 24 for $13.95 at Green Mountain: 58¢ each
Green Mountain Nantucket Blend, box of 24 for $10.99 at Kenoza: 46¢ each

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garden musings; cross-posted to fb.

Musings à la last year's garden thoughts, with an eye towards learning to plant the right garden for me. Comments and thoughts are welcome.

Tomatoes: This year I planted an unknown variety of cocktail tomatoes, from the seeds of Backyard Farms delicious delicious tomatoes. They are growing stunningly well, and I'm pleased with the decision. However, it's late July, and they're not ripe yet! Normally I grow Early Girls; next year I'll plant both varieties.

Cucumbers: I've always planted cucumbers, and they grow well, but I still haven't hit on just the variety I wish to be growing. Anyone have a favourite eating cucumber?

Radishes: I did better than last year, but I think I'm still growing these too close together, resulting in not-so-very-meaty radishes. (The exception was a radish of last year's variety, not one I sowed this year.) I really think I want korean daikon radish, in any case. Must find weird specialty seeds!

Corn: I will never ever grow corn again. The plants growing are very satisfying, until they start attracting earwigs. Not only do the earwigs destroy the corn, but they bleed all the pleasure out of growing it. I hate bugs, and corn is cheap and plentiful; there's no reason I need to grow it.

Watermelon: Whatever attacked my watermelon last year liked young embryonic leaves. Starting them inside was the right approach. Nevertheless, they languished in June, just barely not dying. Now that it's regularly very hot they're finally flourishing and flowering. Short of buying some sort of artificial lighting equipment, I think this is the best I'll do in New England.

Cantaloupe: An impulse buy, the only veggie I didn't grow from seed this year. No fruit yet, but they're looking healthy, especially considering the terrible state of the seedlings I bought at Home Depot. (I bought them for the same reason one gets a pound puppy -- I wanted to rescue them.)

Strawberries: Perennials, and yummy, so, yes. Not much to say.

Chives: Perennials, grow like weeds, good.

Basil: Easy to grow, although I forgot to take my own advice from last year. Starting them inside and transplanting is wiser.

.......

I still need to obtain asparagus roots and plant them. I neglected to plant peas, and should do so next year. Why haven't I ever grown leeks or scallions? I bet they grow as well as chives. I really miss wild blueberries, and wonder if it's possible to get them to take here, or if they'd require a sandier soil.

edit: Spinach, Jamie, spinach. Why are you not growing spinach?

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Abundance, rev. 2

I'm trying to get caught up on posting my manuscript sermons. This one is from, oh heck, August perhaps?

abundanceCollapse )

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reflected light

Bah, the iphone camera doesn't do it justice, but it was gorgeous tonight.

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(edit: sorry for the previous giant inline image: I blame the lj iphone app!)

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whoopie pies

By popular demand, I post my whoopie pie recipe. By "my" whoopie pie recipe, I mean entirelysonja's hubby's whoopie pie recipe, which is absolutely delicious. :)

This is a lightly modified version equivalent to about a half-batch of John's. It yields 10-12 good-sized whoopie pies. Double the recipe for a "full batch!"

Preheat oven to 350°

Sift together dry goods:
½ c cocoa
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
small pinch salt

In mixing bowl cream:
¾ c sugar
½ c butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk --> (set white aside: you'll need it in a moment)

In measuring cup mix:
½ c sour milk
½ c hot water
(can alter proportions to account for the amount of sour milk one has, as long as one ends up with 1c liquids.)

Add dry goods and liquids to creamed mix, alternating between them, until all is well mixed.

Drop onto ungreased cooking sheet with a small scoop or large spoon. (I *highly* recommend using an air-insulated sheet such as this Wilton sheet.) Bake about 11 minutes.

Cream together:
½ c butter
1 egg white
½ lb powdered sugar
vanilla to taste (2T?)

Allow baked shells to cool fifteen minutes; pair them up, and fill them with the vanilla yum.

Bon appétit!

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plantings

Musings on this summer's plantings, with an eye towards next summer! Comments and thoughts are welcome.

Tomatoes: this year I planted early girls, because I planted them late! This was the right decision, and they look as if they'll last into the fall. Do the same next year, but if planted earlier, supplement with late-season plants too.
Cucumbers: another staple I've been growing for years. Next year be more attentive to the variety planted: I've never grown "English cucumbers," and am not sure how viable the poor unisex plants are in a backyard garden, but I think this may be what I want. Mine look pretty enough, but have less taste.
Cabbages: a keeper, but consider slug control so as not to lose all the outer leaves.
Radishes: I did these wrong. I'd like to try again? I believe I sowed the seeds too close together, and while I did thin -- actually, I thinned very carefully, and replanted the thinned-out plants -- two months later I have lovely greenery and little flowers and the roots are still skinny things which look just like normal (if red) roots, and nothing like a nice round radish. Help?
Peas: I had one pea plant this year given to me by a friend, which yielded three delicious pea pods. Plant rows of the darned things next year?
Basil: Much smaller plants than I used to grow in Virginia; I'm guessing it's a climate thing. Many seedlings got eaten by bunnies or some such before reaching sustainability. Next year start seeds inside, rather than sowing directly where the bunnies live?
Broccoli: A mixed bag. The first plant I harvested produced absolutely scrumptious brocoli; the second I soaked and scrubbed and soaked some more, and was still finding spider-silk and bugs. Is broccoli just a buggy plant? I haven't even harvested the last couple, because the whole process was so distasteful. I think I need to grow plants in which the bugs can easily be washed off? Or did I do something wrong?
Watermelon: An utter failure. Sowing outside led to seedlings which were quickly eaten. Sowing inside -- very late in the season because I'm desperate and felt I needed to do something -- has yielded one sorry seedling, which I am still nurturing with misguided hope.
.........
Asparagus: Growing all over the neighbours' yard, and absolutely stunningly delicious. I was entirely unable to find seeds locally. Figure out how to acquire seeds from the neighbours' plants? (Right now I see little buds, I think, but I can't identify any seeds on the plants, which are regularly mown down perhaps before seeding?) Or purchase some online?

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