Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tally Hair Cut

Tally got a new hair cut today. She had really bad matted ears and the groomer really cook them down short! Kinda cute puppy like :) and fits better into the anti-Reg bed.

Hair cuts usually cause social upheaval within the Sharples home. It's hard to describe.... Reggie basicly goes nuts. Not as much any more... but ... he seems to think tallys a real looker -and spends a couple of hours licking her ears. Tally's head is aways soaked when he's done. Yuck. So also feels a new found sense of self-confidence and challenges Reg on things that she normally wouldn't. I uploaded a video at the bottom which is a perfect example. Reg has one spot he always lays on the couch and that's reggies spot. He'll shove Ben out of "his spot". So it's totally weird that after hair cuts, tally HAS to sit there and fights Reg over it (while he's licking her head...) Strange.

This is an ongoing project. Ben build this yarn spinner a while back...out of a hook, stick, and a couple of CD's. I'll let him explain later But this is how it's spun....
And this is what you make it into!

Growling video....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Food Alchemy: Mustard

This post is basically just a teaser trailer for my next project, mustard. Mustard is profoundly effected by biological processes (well, possibly considered chemistry, since it is largely an enzyme driven process, but since I am a biologist I am claiming for biology). Ground mustard seed has no relation to the condiment we are all familiar with. This is because there is a reaction that has to take place for the transformation (or Alchemy) to something good. Allyl isothiocyanate (the compound that gives mustard its heat and characteristic flavor) has to be produced. This is done when an enzyme in the seed is activated by addition of water. The interesting part of this whole process is that the mustard levels of this chemical change greatly in time. Immediatly after combining water to mustard the flavor is bland, but after 10 minutes it is nearly unbearable. Good mustards need to age for at least a week (for spicy mustard, longer for more mild) to cut the heat a bit and develop more complex, less bitter flavors. As a fan of mustard I am excited to give this a try, though I wish I had a good source of baby food jars for all my samples... nope, not going to have a baby just for the jars. As an aside, I am especially excited for Sweet and Spicy Apple Mustard

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Eventful Weekend

Happy Chinese New Year!
For 7 years Ben and his high school cronies have been celebrating Chinese New Year. They constructed a Dragon head and body to parade around the city. The thing is pretty impressive. They have been using the same dragon head (made from paper mache and chicken wire) and adjusting to be the head of the animal for every year (pig, dog, rooster, ox, etc). Apparently that same paper mache head gave up the chinese-ghost this last year and Caron made a really awesome one out of fabric for 2009!

The times I have been with them we went to UVU or BYU campus and the public response has been fairly positive. This year they choose the movie theater at Jordan commons. And who is at Jordan commons theater on a friday night? EMO TEENS!! The intial reaction from the crowd wasn't so supportive. I think it was Melinda that figured out that if she (who was the head at the time) chased them ..... it became funnier. :) So lots of screaming teen girls and a group of emo boys with mohawks and stretch pans even joined in!
Ben with the dragon head... (the eye is kinda falling off)
After ward we returned to Carons place and partook in chinese pot luck. Ben made Peanut chicken stir fry. VERY good.
These are my dogs. They are strange. Reggie is camped out in the bed that was supposed to be for tally but claimed it as his own. A year later .... it is NASTY. So i tossed it next to the door to remind myself to throw it out. Sure enough.... Reg is still camped out in it. Maybe i'll figure out some way to wash it. We bought Tally her own bed and i picked a small one that she fits in pretty snuggly ...thinking that Reg wouldn't try to claim it -- however yesterday I caught him sitting on it.. his butt barely fits in it.
Maybe just a little small....
The Shark Project.
Okay... These shark cupcakes were for Ben's work party that was 'tropical themed'. These dang things are so labor intensive I would advise against making them.
The whole thing is a calorie BOMB!

Cook up some cupcakes and then cut a twinkie at a slant, glue to cupcake with frosting and shape the face a little.
(Invite your little brother over to eat the shark butts so you are not temped too)
Freeze em! Rock hard. This is key. You'll then warm up some gray frosting in the microwave so that it's not face meltingly hot -- but warm and liquidy. Then dip those suckers!
This... is.... hard. If your twinks are not frozen everything starts to sag and come apart in the warm frosting. So build just a couple extra for you to screw up on.
I know it looks like i skipped a step here.... but after the dip-a-shark is dry (not a bad idea to freeze them again). You'll add the blue water frosting (DON'T USE WHIPPED FROSTING ON ANY OF THESE PROJECTS), Coca chips for eye, fruit roll up for mouth and white frosting for teeth. (oh, and the fin is a thin mint cut in that before you dip it)
Because these things are so time consuming to make only make like 6 and then do the rest of the cupcakes as white doughnut light savers things, and under the sea gummy deals.
The best part of this project was the son of Ben's boss - about 9 years old - came up stairs during the work party for a drink and we offered him a shark. The look on his face made the whole thing worth it! ....".... okay.... I can do this again".

Oh - and i won these cheese balls. Currently using them as dog treats.
Ben's head. Longer hair on his face then his head.
Cheese ball?
Cheese ball?
I know she's hairy. She has an appointment this week.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Hair

Ben has really beautiful hair. And it's a terrible shame that it wasn't 10 inches long so we could donate it.

It all started last spring when the boys of PharmD 2011 had a hair growing contest and Ben outlived everyone by like 10 months. :)Man, does he love that hair. It's long enough to pull it all back into a pony tail! However, I think it became too much work to keep it out of his eyes and tired of the teasing over hairbands. As a farewell, this morning we styled it up big and wavy. ...
And in honor of the Chinese New year we created a 'traditional' chinese male hair-do....pony tail in the back - the rest TOTALLY SHAVED OFF. :)

.... I think he kinda looks like Warf from Star Trek....
This is finished product -- doing some type of Dragon Ball -Z move.
(Ma - I'll make sure it's all even by nursery on sunday.... :))
Fetters- please no jokes about how much Ben loves the chinese :) And if any one wants to donate some beanies to keep his little head warm - it would much appreciated.


I don't remember where I first heard of these, but ever since I did I thought they sounded awesome. There is just something about pickles that has captured my attention lately, and not just cucumber pickles, but all pickled vegetables.

So I chose the basic dill chips for my fried pickles. They had to be quite dry so I strained and dried them.

This is my cornmeal mixture that I coated my pickles with. Pretty basic stuff, just cornmeal, salt black pepper and some herbs. I used some buttermilk and egg as a liquid dredge.
The battered chips, ready to freeze so the batter stays on during frying.
The finished product! Since they are originally from the south I decided that a cornmeal batter would be more authentic, but in hindsight I kind of wish I would have used the flour recipe I saw, as I thought the cornmeal was a bit coarse. Either way they were quite good.

Progress report

Yeah! Thank you Muffin for this awesome sweater book. The goal is create a sweater in less the 3 years and more then a week. With these #9 needles and double yarned-- I'm flying through it. :) I only hope that I can figure out how to keep the stripe pattern on the sleeves.

No update on Baby milward sweater - It's got a cross pattern in it I just can't seem to get.

The t-shirt rug is coming along but I think that I've made the strips too thick. Considering pulling apart and trying again.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Craft ADD

Some times I get into a funk of wanting to do too many things at once. I've started several projects that I've committed myself to finish. Please join me in then journey.

First is this cute baby sweater for Jen's baby Milward. I've tried to make these baby things but with no real purpose. This time I have a purpose and a dead line. It is like 6 months from now... but still gives me plenty of time. This cute pattern is from Debbie Bliss Baby knits - beginner ... so it should be pretty easy.

This is a hippy colored scarf I made for my bro who is 'freezing his face off' in Lockhaven' Pennsylvania. It's not really fancy and I need to work the ends in.. which is my least favorite part. I'll make Ben pose in it when I'm totally done :)

This .... I just really want to make. I have been wanting to find a sweater pattern that takes more then one week and less then 3 years. Which is the time difference between my last 2 sweaters. I have been 'ojo-ing' this book for some time and my favorite Muffin gave it too me for Christmas. After this sweater warm up project - I'll be making something for you!:)
This is kind of ridiculous....but I have all kinds of old t- shirts, cutting into strips, using my monster needles to make some rugs for the house. I've been cleaning the carpet like on square foot at a time and I'm tired of it. So I'll just cover it up.

Stay tuned for Ben's newest 'Food Alchemy' post - FRIED PICKLES.

Food Alchemy

The other day I was describing what really gets me going as far as food goes, and I ended up describing it as food alchemy. The process of transforming one food into something completely different. Now I understand that many types of cooking could fit this definition, so it is kind of a contrived phrase, but I like the sound of it. I am going back to the basics in food preparation, trying to overcome the first challenges faced by an agricultural society, food preservation. Most of these challenges were met with our own favorite microbial workhorses, the lactic acid fermenting bacteria. They allowed the first dairy farmers to preserve milk as cheese, to keep your pork as dry sausage, and to turn cucumbers and cabbage into pickles and sauerkraut. Yeast is another microbial force which has been tamed and now helps us with lots of things, bread and beer principle among them. So I will detail my forays into food alchemy here, starting with last night's project: Yogurt!

The starting material, millions of bacteria, hungry for lactose (milk sugar) and milk, supplying that lactose. I added a bit of powdered milk to the liquid just to thicken things up a bit.

As was the process for mozzarella you have to heat the milk, astute observers may note that my temperature probe looks different. That is because it is, sadly my last one died, it kept insisting my house temperature was 157 degrees, which I assure you it was not. Anyway, then milk is heated to 190ish for about 20 min, this is a step I left out of my last attempt at yogurt, which yielded something more like buttermilk, which is also tasty. After research I found that this step changes some of the casein (soluble milk protein) so that it gels better, resulting in a thicker yogurt. The milk is cooled and inoculated with commercial plain yogurt and left to incubate.

My incubation temp was a bit low at 106, but I added some boiling water and wait 3 hours. Meanwhile... Rock Band!!!

Then, Yogurt Alchemy!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Muffin I was looking through your recommend craft sites... and look what I have been missing out on!

crochet axe and chainsaw

No comment needed.


Crazy knitted creations found at:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dan is the Man!

Dan is the man because his grocery store actually had rennet tablets, derived from the intestinal mucosa of calves. This is significant because it is required for making cheese, a project I have been looking forward to since we got internet in the apartment. We went to 3 other stores first, but finally found it at Dan's. Yeah!!! So the cheese I was looking at making is mozzarella.

This is calcium chloride, a chemical sometimes added to homogenized milk to make it better for cheezing (The homogenization makes the fat particles smaller and harder to globulize [made up word] and can lead to worse cheese) I didn't use it this round though, maybe I should have.

A bread I made yesterday and left in the fridge to bake today. It turned out very pretty and quite tasty, I am getting a better idea about this bread thing, even if it is taking me a bit longer than I would have liked.

So the idea behind mozzarella is to acidify warmed milk with citric acid (most normal cheeses are acidified by lactic acid bacteria which create an acid as a metabolic byproduct). Rennet is added to stabilize the resulting curdled milk.
This is the stage where the milk has separated into the curds (little white clumps) and whey, a yellowish translucent liquid. My cheese here has curds that are way too small, probably because I added the citric acid too quickly. At any rate, the resulting concoction is cooked to further separate the solid and liquid phases.

The whey is strained from the curds and left to drain for a while, you then salt and microwave the curd, which expels more whey and makes the curd stretchy and elastic, which can be formed into a ball.
My formed mozzarella ball flattened a bit, but tastes awesome with some black pepper and olive oil on my latest bread :) Success!!!

Hello, Cupcake!

For Christmas, Ben got me a book called 'Hello, cupcake!' A really fun book of decorating cupcakes. Definitely not good for my thighs --- but so fun make!
Check out the website... I know that you'll want one...

My first experiment are sunflowers....
- Chocolate cupcakes
- Green frosting
- Normal sized and mini oreos
- Green tootsie roll (warmed up then rolled out and shaped into leaves)
- One 'can' of white frosting (some colored green the rest colored orangeish/yellow)
(I didn't get to do this -but you can put a red m & m with little bit of black frosting... into a lady bug! Awwww...)

This isn't the best one... I would suggest making sure your piped frosting is cold/cool. It makes things not as runny. (Oh -- you don't need a special bag for the piping. Use a ziplock bag with like 6 strips of scotch tape around the tip. Cut the tip in a 'V' shape)

Bellow is the needed supplies for owls. SUPER easy.
- fudge frosting
- oreo's in half with junior mint for eyes
- 1/2 oreo cookies for ears
- Nerd candy banana's for beak.