Friday, August 29, 2008

Student Life

Yep, I know I must be back to school now. It's 11:30 pm, and I have to get up tomorrow at 4 am to go out sampling marine algae. I'm still up because I have a bio oceanography, physics, and chemistry lab that I need to do write-ups for, a speech to prepare, 6 chapters to read, tons of homework problems to do, and sampling equipment and paperwork to gather up and prepare. And it's only the first week.

Oh boy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Preserving Summer

Some how this summer I got bit by the canning bug. With school starting tomorrow, I doubt there will be much time for me to continue, but I don't feel too bad about what I got done:

  • 2 quarts + 3 pints tomato sauce
  • 6 pints applesauce (3 cinnamon, 3 plain)
  • 11 half-pints blueberry syrup (much more than the recipe said I'd get!)
  • 5 cups blueberries in the freezer.

I have some cucumbers from the farmer's market that need to be used up, so I may try a can or two of pickles some night after classes or after I collect samples next weekend. Or I may put away the stockpot for now and focus on learning to knit in my free time (yeah right, what's that?).

Blueberry Syrup (from Ball's Preserving Website):
8 cups blueberries , crushed (about 3-1/2 lb)
6 cups water
1 Tbsp lemon zest
3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands (I used half pint jars)

Combine blueberries, 2 cups of the water and lemon zest in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and boil gently for 5 minutes. Transfer to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl and let drain for at least 2 hours.

Prepare your boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use.

Combine sugar and 4 cups water in a clean large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook until temperature reaches 230°F (my thermometer only went to 220, so I just guessed...). Add blueberry juice and bring back to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Pour hot syrup into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process the jars in the canner for 10 minutes. Remove onto a clean towel for at least 24 hours before checking the seal.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Last Week of Freedom

Only two more days and then my days of freedom are over. It's so sad! And I still have so much to do! Things kept coming up, so I never ended up picking blueberries, but if the weather is decent tomorrow I'll go out and see what I can get. I'll also need to pick up some more canning jars, since I'm almost out of the pints and the quarts won't fit in the pot I'm using for a canner. Never to fear though, some of the quarts will be used to make jack-o-lanterns in October and others will probably be used for soup/cookie/brownie mixes.

Monday and Tuesday I spent several hours meeting with my faculty adviser for the PG&E project, and have gotten all the paperwork caught up for that. I wish the Feds would figure out how to make a decent spreadsheet, explain what exactly they want, and eliminate at least half of the paperwork! I guess it gives me experience in filling all these stupid forms out, and how to keep good scientific records and notes, but really, for what we're doing I shouldn't have to be keeping track of all this. If I would have known I'd be doing all this I don't think I would have taken this position, or at least I would have tried to get a better hourly wage. If I can get a group together, we'll go out next weekend at 6:00 AM to collect samples for the third quarter. Not what I want to do with my first weekend of the school year, I can tell you that.

I also got my hair cut on Monday. It was almost to my waist, and I wanted to keep growing it out, but it was really damaged, so I chopped it all off up to a few inches past my shoulders. I didn't like it at first, but my head is much lighter now, and I don't feel that I need to keep my hair pulled up all the time. With so many hours in labs, though, I'll probably have it up most of the time anyway.

Yesterday I was called out on a sea lion rescue (which is why the berries didn't get picked yesterday). We ended up not going out until 5:30 in the evening, and drove all around Big Lagoon looking for a place to get down the cliffs somewhere close to where the sea lion had been reported. Eventually we had to use a rope to climb down the cliff where it was about 10-12 feet tall and then walked along the beach for a good half mile at least. We never ended up finding the animal, and the tide had already come in and was starting to go back out, so whatever tracks that might have been left were gone. Hopefully the sea lion's out there somewhere swimming around happily, but realistically he's probably not. So back we trekked and used the rope to climb back up the cliff. I'm feeling a little sore today, but mostly it's from where I was carrying the heavy net on my shoulders.

Well, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow I want to pick up the house, pick berries, start the syrup cooking, and take care of a bunch of other little things so that David and I can enjoy our last free Sunday together before going back to the grind. I probably won't end up getting everything done, because I'm lazy like that, but even if I get most of it done I'll be happy.

P.S. Oh, I forgot to mention this before. Before leaving for the Alaska Adventure, I weighed at my parents house and was 243 lbs. When we got back I was 225 lbs., and now I'm hovering between 219 and 222 lbs. (I've been weighing every day, but have started only weighing once a week now). I guess only eating trail mix and hummus for two weeks was a good thing!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Vegan 100

Hannah posted this in response to the similar Omnivore's Hundred and I thought I'd go ahead and play along. Probably won't make it by the end of this year, but maybe I'll try to eat all of these before the end of next year. I haven't crossed anything out, because I'm willing to try anything, but I think there's a few things on here I'll probably end up passing on, or at least save until the very last day ;)

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. PiƱa colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back At Last

Sorry I've been gone for such a long time! I got back from Alaska July 19th or so, and then only had a couple of weeks to pack, clean, and move out of our old apartment and into our new one. Then we were unpacking, had company over twice, and have just generally been busy. I haven't been on the computer much the last month or so (I know, I'm shocked too). Also, my laptop has a virus, and hasn't been repaired yet, so getting on the computer has been a little trickier than normal.

But life has been very very good. I've spent the last two weekends canning 15lbs. of tomatoes and 10 lbs. of apples from the farmers markets, and tomorrow plan on picking fresh organic blueberries from a local farm and freezing some and making blueberry syrup with the rest to can. I wish I would have asked Cousin Diane a long time ago to teach me how to do all this canning. It's a lot of work, much more than I really thought it would be, but it's a lot of fun and makes me feel good knowing I'm doing something that hundreds of women have done before me and many others are doing the same thing this time of year. In the next few days I'm picking up some knitting needles and yarn from a fellow freecycler and will start teaching myself to knit.

With school starting on the 25th, I'm starting to feel a change in pace though. I won't have much time to do all the things my "domestic homemaker" self would like to (knit, canning, try making soap, baking bread), and am starting to gear up for the stressful, high-paced "student/working woman" self that is going to have to deal with my tough course load. I'll be taking physics, chemistry, biological oceanography, and oceanography seminar for a total of 15 units and about 20 hours of lab every week, not to mention day-long trips on the R/V Coral Sea every other weekend or so. Whew. I can feel my stress level rising just thinking about it! I'm also still the project director of the PG&E Marine Sampling program, and will have all that to deal with and take care of, plus my part time job at HSU School of Business. Most days I will leave the house at 7 am and not get back until 5:30-6:00 pm.

I sometimes feel bad about having to rely on my parents for financial support, but when I think about it, it really is like they're paying me to "work" at school. I'll spend about 35 hours a week between classes and homework (not counting weekend trips), and if I made $8.00/hour (less than what I'm making now at either job), it works out to over a thousand dollars a month that I'm not able to earn because I'm going to school. Looking at it that way, I feel a lot better about it, and it makes me want to do my absolute best, just like I do at a "real" job.

I'm off now to make a grocery list for tomorrow and to see what sort of school supplies I will need.