Tag Archives: WGOM featured

Initial Time We Play A Game With Two Letters For The Second Week After The Fourth Of July

Just in case the guy on KFAN has got his intellectual property ducks in a row with his Kickstarter thing, I will not refer to this game by the same name he has given his version. Instead, this will be the initial time I "host" a game for the second on this platform with the following rules:

1. I will give you two letters (for example, "K.P"). All the items that week will be a two-word answer in which each word begins with letter in the appropriate spot. The answer can be a person, place, thing, or other two-word phrase. For example, if "K.P." are the letters, then one answer might be Kirby Puckett. Another answer might be "Krakow, Poland." And so on.

2. I will provide six clues for each answer. The clues will be provided one-at-a-time.

3. If you believe you know the answer, make a Spoilered guess in the thread. The point will go to whomever correctly identifies the answer first. If you submit an incorrect response, then you can no longer submit for that particular answer.

4. The participant with the most correct answers at the end of the week wins. (If there is a tie, then I will have tiebreakers for only the participants in the tie.)

5. You're going to be on the honor system, but you should not be using the internet or other resources.

The letters will be revealed, and clues for the first phrase will commence at 9:30am.

Leaderboard

Numerology

While in Scandia, I've been cleaning out scads of stuff:  basement -> garage -> recycling.  Today was spent cutting out SSNs and account numbers from old papers so I don't have to burn them in the Firepit (PITA).

Came across this (from an earlier family cookbook I did a while back).  See how well you do with no help from the I'webs.  Honestly, I couldn't even remember some of the answers.  A lot are obvious.  Some you'll never get.  Spoiler guesses.

1.  26 = L of the A.

2.  7 = D of the W.

3.  1001 = A N.

4.  12 = S of the Z.

5.  54 = C in a D (with the J's).

6.  9 = P in the SS.

7.  88 = P K.

8.  13 = S on the A F.

9.  32 = D F at which W F.

10.  18 = H on a G C.

11.  90 = D in a R A.

12.  200 = D for P G in M.

13.  8 = S on a S S.

14.  3 = B M (S H T R).

15.  4 = Q in a G.

16.  24 = H in a D.

17.  1 = W on a U.

18.  5 = D in Z C.

19.  57 = H V.

20.  11 = P on a F B T.

21.  1000 = W that a P is W.

22.  29 = D in F in a L Y.

23.  64 = S on a C B.

24.  40 = D and N of the G F.

25.  76 = T in the B P.

26.  50 = W to L Y L.

27.  99 = B of B on the W.

28.  60 = S in a M.

29.  1 = H on a U.

30.  9 = J on the S C.

31.  7 = B for S B.

32.  21 = D on a D.

33.  7 = W of the A W.

34.  15 = M on a D M C.

35.  13 = P on a C O.

36.  0 = P E has this E N.

37.  66.5 = L of the A C.

38.  28 = B in the H F.

39.  500 = M away from H.

40.  33 = Highest D of S R of F M.

41.  16 = R in the P C.

42.  364.4 = Length of H B in S.

 

Third Fourth Fifth Monday Movie Day: We Won’t Need Roads

What do you guys see for the future of movies/cinema? How soon do you think the theaters will come back, if at all?

Also, they're having a series of pop up drive in movies in the parking lot of a nearby sports arena, but it's like $30 a car. $50 for a "preferred location", whatever that means. Not worth it just to watch The Goonies.

And of course, what have you been watching?

Pepper’s Summer Watermelon Cocktail

I've always been happy to leave the cocktail mixing to the pros, but while sheltering in place, I've been playing around. My younger son is really into watermelon these days, which made me wonder how watermelon might work in a cocktail. I came across this recipe, and after a little experimentation, I might just have found my favorite summer cocktail. It's not to sweet and has a spicy kick that I can't get enough of. Plus, the watermelon "ice cubes" are genius.

Planning note: you'll need to prepare the infused vodka, simple syrup, and watermelon ice cubes ahead of time. This might seem like more work than you want to do for an easy summer cocktail, but it's really not all that much. If you're making cocktails at home, you likely already have a jar of simple syrup in the fridge. And I've found that the extra watermelon juice is a great addition to fruit smoothies, which I've been making regularly for the boys.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 oz. jalapeno-infused vodka
  • 1 small, seedless watermelon (or a package of cubed watermelon), from which you'll make juice and ice cubes
  • 1 lime, juiced to yield 1 tablespoon juice
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • splash of sparkling water or club soda
  • lime wedge for garnish (if desired)

DIRECTIONS

To make the jalapeno-infused vodka:
Measure your desired amount of vodka into a mason jar. (I've done this with 4 ounces and 8 ounces.) Slice 1 jalapeno pepper into rounds and add to mason jar. Put the lid on and let infuse for 30 minutes. (This gets quite spicy quickly, so you do NOT want to forget about it and let it sit for hours!) Strain out pepper and seeds and return vodka to mason jar. Store at room temperature until ready to use.

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To make the cocktail:
Cut watermelon into cubes approx. 1.5 inches square. For each drink you plan to make, throw four cubes into a ziploc bag and freeze for 2 hours (or longer). These will be your ice cubes. Take about a cup of watermelon cubes and liquefy, using an immersion blender, full-size blender, or food processor. Note: I strained the juice the first time I made it, but I found that by not straining it, I get more watermelon flavor in the drink, which I prefer.

Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz.) watermelon juice, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon simple syrup, and 2 oz. jalapeno-infused vodka. If you have a cocktail shaker, shake it all up and strain into a glass over your watermelon ice cubes. If you're shaker-less like me, stir vigorously and then pour into a glass over your watermelon ice cubes. Add a splash of sparkling water (I probably use about 1 oz.). Garnish with a lime if desired. And enjoy!

The Nation Has An Appetite: The House Special

Though it's occasionally a chore, one silver lining to the whole pandemic situation is that we're basically cooking everything in house. We very occasionally get something from outside, but I think we do that on average maybe once every two weeks. While it's fun to try new things, or at least get creative with ingredients before they go bad, that's still a whole lot of cooking that needs to be done. This naturally means we've all got a few go-to's that we can pull out quickly, or at least easily.

Now, we've got a home with young, picky-ass kids, so our house specials are very boring and basic. Tacos, macaroni, various non-threatening noodle and pasta dishes, but that's pretty much as far as it goes. Japanese curry is about as exotic as it gets with them. Jane and I have been trying all sorts of stuff, but the same namby-pamby retreads are the only sure things around here (yeah, I'm bringing that phrase back).

What dishes are in top rotation in your homes when you need a quick and easy win?

Talking to Kids about Race (Especially for White Parents)

With all that's been going on lately, how are the Citizens with young kids handling it? I want to share some thoughts, tips, and resources, in case they're helpful. And if you don't have young kids but know someone who does, please feel free to share this with them.

First off--do you really have to talk about race with kids? Can't you just tell them that everyone is equal and let them figure it out from there? Nope! The world is not colorblind, and neither are your kids. A while back, I read the book NurtureShock, which has a great chapter called “Why White Parents Don’t Talk about Race.” You can check out an excerpt here. The key takeaway is that even very young kids see skin color differences and that not talking about race results in kids jumping to conclusions that are probably not what you wanted them to have.

And think about it. Once kids hit a certain age, they're going to hear things at school, from kids on their baseball team or in their gymnastics class or from someone at in their scout troop. So wouldn't you rather have given them a certain level of knowledge and understanding for when things come up in situations you're not a part of?

Telling a kid that a cop killed a Black man in your community is wrenching. When we told the jalapeno, who is nearing ten years old, about George Floyd's murder (omitting graphic details), he asked "But why?" in this voice that broke my heart. I was glad that at least we've been talking about race and racism for a long time already with him. When you have already been talking about race with your kid, in a moment of crisis you're not starting from zero.

So where do you start? I probably have a bias toward books, but I also think they're a great way to have a conversation about something without making it about your kid or their friend or anything that feels more personal.

Here's a great list of picture books you can use to start these conversations: 31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance.

For the youngest kids, you can preorder Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi, which comes out on June 16. And here's a list with more great board books for babies and toddlers.

For a resource specifically about police violence toward Black men, there's a good book called Something Happened in Our Town that's also been made into a 9-minute video you can share. I like that it includes both a white family and a black family in the storyline. Consider watching it with your kids as a way to launch a conversation. If you get the book, there is a lot of information for parents and educators about how to talk more with kids.

Earlier this morning, I read an article in the Washington Post specifically about the need for white parents to talk about race with their kids. There were three key points I found helpful.

1. Include books, TV shows, movies, music, etc., by nonwhite people as a regular thing for your family. And expand your circles to include people of different ethnicities. The article didn't mention this, but supporting minority-owned restaurants and other business would be another great thing to do.

Our actions speak at least as loudly as our words, and kids pick up A LOT just by seeing what we do. Remember that if you're only reading books about Black people when talking about slavery and civil rights, you're not sharing a complete picture of Black life.

To find good, diverse book for kids that aren't specifically about racism or oppression, a great tool is the Our Story app from We Need Diverse Books.

2. Educate yourself and your kids accurately about history. The article doesn't mention this, but I think doing so also gives you the background so that you can speak up as needed in conversations with your kids' teachers to advocate for a more accurate, more inclusive curriculum.

There are lots of lists circulating right now for what adults can do--here's one with a lot of good resources. And here is a graphic with some great books--the caption includes suggestions on what to start with if you're feeling overwhelmed.

One key book I read last year was An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People, which has helped me have better conversation with my kids about our country's history, since my own education in school was profoundly lacking when it comes to Indigenous history.

3. Talk often about current events and things you're seeing on social media. We white people are so often uncomfortable talking about race because we didn't grow up doing it. But by making it a regular part of conversation, you and your kids will start becoming more comfortable having these conversations at home--and out in the world.

Keep in mind that you're not going to have one conversation about race with your kids. Like everything important in parenting, it's something that will come up repeatedly. And your conversations will expand and deepen. And kids will ask questions sometimes when you're not ready for them. But remember that your kids don't need you to have all the right answers. They just need your willingness to talk.

Finally, if you've made a donation in recent days, talk to your kids about the place you're donating to and why. When I was a kid, I had no idea my parents donated anywhere, and while I get the instinct to not call attention to it, I didn't really understand that donating was important because we weren't talking about it.

So I hope this is all helpful, and I wish all the parents out there lots of strength and support today and every day!

Milk Crate Container Garden for the ‘pocalypse

After Doc S (I think) mentioned that we were going to run into shortages of produce as supply chains were stress out by the pandemic Dr. Chop and I got down to business planting vegetables and herbs. We try to grow stuff every year, and every year we lose most the crop to the insects. This year we were able to spend a lot more time in the yard and we were able to kill enough caterpillars to keep the peppers and squash alive. And now we've got peppers for days. We also installed a bird feeder which I think has a positive effect on the insect problem as well.

As I mentioned in the CoC we got an Aero Garden at the start of the year, and we've been able to produce several heads of lettuce, spinach, and herbs. Currently, we've got chives sprouting, a new head of spinach, and bok choi growing to be transferred to the containers. We've always grown food stuff in containers, including our citrus, fig and olive trees, because the soil in New Orleans is suspect to begin with and the flooding from Katrina didn't help matters. We've found that you need to use high quality potting soil, compost, and an occasional fertilizing in order to get enough nutrient into the containers to provide good growth.

While out walking the neighborhood I found several milk crates littered in vacant lots, and the idea sprouted to turn them into square foot garden boxes. I had some stupid expensive dirt and ground cloth delivered for free (I heavily tipped the driver) from the local garden shop. I measured the crates - 12 x 12 x 10 3/4(h), so I cut the 48 inch long cloth into 14 inch wide strips with excess to account for seam allowance.

I laid two strips across each other at their centers and sewed 2 sides together. I decided that doubling the cloth on the bottom would slow drainage, and add an extra layer of protection from weeds and other intruders.

 

 

Then you gather up the corners and sew them face to face to make a box

 

 

Repeat for the remaining 3 corners and you've got a ground cloth box.

Instead of making these cloth boxes to match the actual size of the crate, I made them much taller so that I could wrap the excess over the top to keep the pressure of the dirt from spilling out of the bag.

As a side note, making sweet potatoes from a sprouting sweet potato is the easiest, and one of the most satisfying horticultural endeavors I've ever undertaken. I put the sprouted spud in a clear cup of water and let the roots grow out and alien looking purple leaves and veins multiplied quickly under the grow light of the aero garden. I was a little late getting these into the boxes for them to produce large potatoes, but they'll certainly make a bunch of tubers.

Third Monday Movie Day: Anti-Binge

You'd think I'd have more time to watch things right now, but I strangely don't. The whole of my pandemic viewing has been about 2.5 seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine (which, fine, it's hilarious). This isn't a lament or anything, just something that mildly surprised me when I thought about it.

Are you up or down in total consumption? And, of course, what are you consuming?

Worth-the-Extra-Effort Baked French Toast

Confession: I'm not great at making French toast on the stovetop. I don't know if it's that I'm not using the right bread, not using the right recipe, or don't have the right temperature for the griddle. But that's okay because I much prefer baked French toast anyway. You put in all the effort the night before, and then in the morning you just have to stumble out of bed, preheat the oven, and make yourself some kind of caffeinated beverage while the oven does the rest.

A while back I shared an easy baked French toast recipe. This is the one to break out when you are feeling extravagant. It makes a whole lot, which is great because the leftovers are also delicious. If you want to go all out, this spinach and potato breakfast hash is great alongside it.

INGREDIENTS
French Toast
1-2 tablespoons butter to grease pan
1 loaf crusty bread
8 large eggs
2 cups (16 oz) whole milk
1/2 cup (4 oz) heavy cream
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (yes, tablespoons is correct!)

Topping
1/2 cup (2 oz) flour
1/2 cup (4 oz) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
approx. 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 stick (4 oz.) butter, cut into pieces

TO PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE
Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan with butter. Cut the bread into cubes (1" square or smaller) and place in the pan. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Add milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla and whisk everything together. Then pour it all over the bread. Cover the pan tightly (I use plastic wrap) and store in the fridge overnight.

Make the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a separate bowl Add the butter and use a pastry cutter to mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. (Be careful at this stage; I once flung a large piece of butter out of the bowl and onto the kitchen floor while doing this.) Transfer mixture to a Ziploc bag and store in the fridge.

TO BAKE
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Take the pan out of the fridge and sprinkle topping on evenly. Bake for 45-60 minutes. The shorter time gives you something that is very bread putting-esque in the middle, while the longer time gives a firmer, less squidgy texture.

Scoop individual servings onto plates and drizzle with syrup. (A little syrup goes a long way here.) I like to serve with some vegetarian sausage and fresh fruit.

Recipe source: The Pioneer Woman

On Reading (or Not) and Book Awards

Once upon a time, I read books. Mostly, I read books during my bus commute. And when I had to stop commuting, I stopped reading. Sure I read for work and I read for my kids. But I haven't yet managed to find a time in the routine for reading whatever the heck I want.

However, one bit of good news for book lovers is that a pandemic isn't enough to stop book awards from being bestowed. I talked about the Minnesota Book awards here in 2014 and 2017, so now that another three years have passed, the time has come to once again bring up our fabulous literary community. There was, of course, no in-person gathering, but I was watching the livecast as it happened, and thanks to the accompanying chat, the event was surprisingly celebratory and truly did have a feeling of community and mutual support as authors cheered one another on. I even have it on good authority that the brother of a certain WGOM citizen was even in (virtual) attendance. (I kind of loved that cocktail attire was still recommended despite the fact that we were all in our homes.)

You can check out the livecast here if you'd like. And the full list of winners is here.

And, well, there's just one other little thing. I have a rather special connection with one of this year's winning books. And seeing it win may have been a little bit exciting. This particular book meant a lot to all of us involved with it. If you're curious, you can check out the story behind the book.

So what are you reading? Or wishing you had time to read?