Thursday, December 31, 2009

Merry Mozzarella

With bitter cold temperatures and gusty winds keeping us inside we tried our hands at making mozzarella. Santa brought a kit that included all the necessary ingredients, except for pasteurized (not ultrapasteurized!) milk, and step by step instructions. The milk is the key ingredient. Modern pasteurization practices that heat milk to very high temperatures denature the milk proteins (for our geeky science readers) and render the milk unfit for making cheese. We bought milk from the Rhode Island farmers cooperative which worked just great as you can see below. We have dreamed of making mozzarella since reading Animal Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, who's description of homemade mozzarella makes your mouth water. We topped pizza with our own garden tomato sauce and the fresh mozzarella, paired with a Merlot we received for Christmas......mmmmm.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas

photo by Diane Sobolewski

On December 27th we traveled to East Haddam to The Goodspeed Opera House with Joann and Eric to see Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas. The Emmet Otter character and film was created by Jim Henson. Last year the good folks at Goodspeed turned the Christmas story into a play with a cast of characters that included both humans and puppets. The production was terrific, and so were the views of the Opera House, and the Connecticut River. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner at the River Tavern before making our way back home.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Counter Revolution

Christmas Eve, all is still, not a creature is stirring ... except at HHR where the elves are busy preparing the upstairs bathroom. These elves needed to eat plenty of cookies so they could carry a 170lb granite counter top up two flights of steps! Fortunately all went well, and the evening was completed with a meal of French Chicken in a Pot and Chocolate Bread Pudding.

The elves look a little tired.
The granite is in place (and is in one piece!).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

We woke early on Christmas morning to a bright sunny day and started with a long brisk walk. We enjoyed a relaxing day at home, talked with our loved ones, opened a few gifts, and went for a lovely dinner with the extended Panosky family.

Opening new possibilities for the Face of Produce, thanks to Andrew and Brenda in Kelowna BC

Bruno, Mark and Don enjoying Mr. Nicholl's Nuts and a beer

Tropical Fruit Trifle (Sheri and Bruno's contribution from HHR)

Happy Christmas to all!
Bruno and Sheri

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Vacation Begins!

Today started at 6 a.m., our normal "wake-up" time for work, WIDE awake, without the alarm, even though it was Christmas Eve and we are officially on Christmas vacation. Sighhh, still it was nice to know we didn't HAVE to get up.

It is a bright sunny morning and balmy (24°F) by recent standards. We are drinking tea, warming up for a walk and looking forward to doing some cooking, a little work on the bathroom renovation. Later today Joann and Eric are coming by for dinner and installation of the granite top in the bathroom. How many scientists does it take to move a piece of granite? A few photos of what's happening around HHR:

Kokee is still enjoying the snow from the storm. We think she missed her calling as an Avalanche rescue dog. Who needs an avalanche beacon when you can just carry a tennis ball. You can see it for yourself, click here.

Which color did we choose? Our final answer!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dreaming of a white Christmas

We had a lovely dinner in Westerly with Eric and Joann followed by the Granite Theater's annual production of "A Christmas Carol". We stepped out of the theater into a winter wonderland, that soon thereafter was declared to be a blizzard while driving home.

It snowed heavily all evening, and we woke to 18-inches (maybe more?) of light, fluffy snow. Perhaps we should have bought eggs after all? Many thanks to Mark who had our driveway cleared by 10 a.m.!

Friday, December 18, 2009

While everyone else is still shopping....

We have our decorated our tree, strung lights outdoors, and have finished our shopping, so our days before Christmas will be putting together the pieces of the upstairs bathroom renovation puzzle. The walls turn blue and green tonight, stay tuned for updates, provided we survive the impending storm (we haven't bought eggs, milk or bread!).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Texas Turkey

In between work trips to LA, Puerto Rico, and back Puerto Rico again Sheri spent a week in Texas celebrating Thanksgiving her extended family. She stayed with Mimi in her brand new apartment in Kruse Village in Brenham, and also spent time in Industry where Aunt Cindy and Uncle John live. Others traveled to the Texas country-side including Kerry (Sheri's sister) and Brandon (Fort Collins, CO) Michael (Sheri's brother) and Janel (Bozeman, MT), DiAnn and Mike (Pittsburgh, via their new home Raleigh, NC), cousins Sara and Chris came from Houston along with their families. It was crazy, and SOO much fun all at the same time. The festivities included plenty of food, a few long walks with Dixie and Iggy, the traditional white elephant gift exchange and of course a grand Thanksgiving buffet .

To see more photos of the visit in Texas click here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First Snowfall

After an all day rain on Saturday, the temperatures dropped and we received our first snowfall! It was not enough for us to snap on skis, but it was a beautiful sunny morning. We are well on the road to catching up to Texas for snowfall for the year!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Hangman Hill Thanksgiving

Its a perfect autumn day in Connecticut, and we'll be heading out to the garden to do some end-of-year harvesting after our breakfast of tea and oatmeal. Wherever you are on this Thanksgiving holiday, have a fantastic day and dont forget to eat some turkey!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bathroom rennovations

After just a few weeks of being without a major rennovation project 'in-process' we have embarked upon a major rennovation of our upstairs bathroom. Last weekend, between back-to-back work trips to Los Angeles and Puerto Rico, we disassembled the vanity, sink, toilet, and ripped up the existing vinyl floor. This week the re-building process started with the installation of a new marble tile floor. So far so good, despite the help of several cranky cats. The next step is to re-wire the lights and start to make a new vanity.....wish us luck!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sacred Shakers and Eilen Jewell

On Friday night we headed west to Middleton, CT for dinner at ION (It's Only Natural) and then on to Weslyan University to see the Sacred Shakers and Eilen Jewell. We got hooked on the Sacred Shakers last year when their CD arrived in our Christmas stockings. According to the bio on their website "For The Sacred Shakers, there's nothing finer than old-time, country and blues-influenced gospel music. Think Hank Williams, The Carter Family, The Stanley Brothers, Son House, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Beginning in 2005, that music drew a small but ever-widening circle of some of Boston's finest musicians and vocalists together at the Country Gospel Brunch concert series. In short order, The Boston Globe described the group as "a local Who's Who of all-star roots musicians." "

We couldn't miss the chance to see them live, and we were NOT disappointed! Seeing them live was a real treat. Listen to them perform "I'm Gonna Do My Best".

Eilen Jewell who sings with the Shakers played the second set with the Eilen Jewell Band. The contrast of the American roots music (Eilen Jewell) to the Gospel music (Sacred Shakers) was interesting. Also, it was fun to recognize Jerry Miller (guitar) and Johnny Sciascia (bass) who we have seen play music with Mark Erelli. The roots music scene in New England these days draws a lot of local talent and we are pleased to be able to see such great music so close to home. We couldn't leave without buying the Eilen Jewell CD "Sea of Tears", check out a live performance of the title track "Sea of Tears"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Surf Dog Rip Curl Ricki

I read about Patrick Ivison and Surf Dog Ricki this weekend and was intrigued. The photos were amazing, but I suspected the video would be better. I was right!

Surf dog Rip Curl Ricki (Ricochet) and Patrick Ivison, a quadraplegic adaptive surfer got together to tandem surf on August 20 at Del Mar beach. Surf Dog Ricochet & Quadriplegic surfer Patrick do tandems & Party waves

Sunday, November 1, 2009

RWP Jack-o-Specatular

On Friday night we went to the Roger Williams Zoo in Cranston, RI to see the Jack-O-Spectacular, which features 5,000 lighted jack-o-lanterns along a trail that winds through the zoo. We were accompanied by Joann, Eric, Gene and Kathy and enjoyed a warm October evening along with hoards of other New Englanders. It was very well done, with entertainment to keep us distracted during our wait in line (this is in addition to Gene or course) and themed jack-o-lantern groupings with music. We highly recommend it. Best time to go is mid-week or ~9:00pm (Friday Oct 30 was pretty busy, duh!). Despite the crowds it was a fun evening and we'd do it again!

The Feature Display
(note: the background lights are small jack-o-lanterns in the trees, very cool)


"Where the Wild Things Are"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened....

On Saturday we were invited to join Gene and Kathy for a visit to East Haddam, CT to see "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" at the Goodspeed Opera House. We had never seen the musical, but heard glowing recommendations about the hilarity of the show, and evening with Gene and Kathy is always great fun.

We had a really nice dinner in Ivoryton at the Copper Beech Inn beforehand, and then made our way to the theater. The theater is beautiful, and the setting on the Connecticut River is breathtaking. The show was everything we expected, and more, plenty of talent, good humor making for a very fun evening. In spite of the "chucking rain", a phrase used by our friend Andrew to describe alpine weather that leads either to an epic or a fester, we enjoyed a great evening out. It turns out swanky dinners and posh theaters are okay in the rain.

Friday, October 23, 2009

National Mole Day

Hope you are celebrating in style on this 23rd day of the 10th month. October the 23 (10/23) is the holiday, "Mole Day", honoring the unit. The day is used because of the unit in the equation of 10 to the 23rd powerA mole has 6.0221415×10^23 atoms or molecules of the pure substance being measured.

As you can tell, it is a quiet Friday night at Hangman Hill. Maybe we should get out more?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cardoon Festival

Saturday was the first annual (?) Cardoon Festival at Hangman Hill. We planted cardoons (Cynara cardunculus), a member of the thistle family, for their "succulent leaf stems" that taste very similar to artichokes. "If you love artichokes, you will love cardoons ", so they say. That was all we needed to plant cardoon seeds in early summer.

By September the cardoons were nearly 4' high, and with cool autumn temperatures in the air, Bruno and Nick (Bruno's father) began the harvest process by wrapping the plants in burlap to blanch the stems. The blanching process takes place while the plant is still in the ground, and protects the stems from light. This is necessary for removing any bitterness and to reveal the sweet flavors that make this vegetable a gormet gardener's favorite.
Cardoon's at last!

It was this "big" (until it got away?)

So, in early October when Jerry(Sheri's father) came for a visit, it seemed like the obvious time to harvest and sample the cardoons. So with spade in hand we dug the cardoons, and Bruno carefully stewed and sauted them. Our good friends Jen and Mark were game for trying the cardoons, so they came for a dinner that started with cardoons and steamed artichokes (for comparision), followed by Chicken Mirabella (this is another blog entry!). Don't let those smiling faces below fool you, the cardoons were terrible! Bruno's reaction says it best. The cardoons were possibly the worst tasting vegetable any of us had ever had. Perhaps we need to hone our garden blanching skills, or move on to another unique vegetable for next year.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dishwasher: Chapter 3

We are getting back into the swing of work and home after a nice vacation that included some time in the Adirondacks and Cape Cod. We were pleased to find garden full of produce when we returned so we hare busy processing tomatoes, freezing green beans and cheering on the cardoons which are blanching in the garden. The cardoons should be ready for harvest next weekend, stay tuned for an update.

This weekend started out with sunny, but increasingly cooler temperatures. We spent much of Saturday in the yard and garden chopping down trees, spreading mulch, planting irises and harvesting raspberries (they are still going!). After a pancake breakfast on Sunday, we embarked on the latest development with the dishwasher repair, replace and install saga.

During our week of vacation, while Bruno's parents were visiting, the door of the new dishwasher developed the ablility to open far enough to allow the rack of plates roll off the door and onto the floor. While Kokee thinks this is great fun, especially when the plates are in the "to be washed" stage, the rest of us are not so amused.
Armed with tools, mirrors, and a sense of humor, we pulled out the dishwasher and re-engineered a new a stop mechanism to replace the original "doomed for failure" design. We really know how to have a good time!