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Quote Monday goes camping

::Ollie getting out of the shower at the campground::
Ollie, to the feet under a different shower: “So, I see you’re done with YOUR shower!”

That boy can start a conversation with anyone…

Me: “Oh no, I forgot my hat and now my head is in the sun.”
Ollie: “Well, I could ride on your shoulders, and then my hat would protect you too!”

Evie: “I’m going to go talk to Grandma about going to the store.”
Me: “Honey, it’s too early, the store’s not open yet.”
Evie: “Well, there’s no sign saying we can’t talk about the store when it’s not open.”

Me: “Can you say thank you to Grandma for buying you that shirt?”
Ollie: “Well, I picked it out.”

Me: “Don’t fall asleep right now, we’re going to stop in a minute.”
Ollie: “You know what? I don’t fall asleep on purpose, I only fall asleep on accident.”

For only the price of a coffee…

I am just so tired of this argument.

These days, everything is Kickstarter or Indigogo, pledge drives or pleas for donations. “Oh, for only the price of a coffee, you could support this, or donate to that!”

Well first off, Mr. Rockefeller, I don’t know who you pal around with, but I don’t know anybody that drops $5 on coffee and doesn’t think twice about it. Maybe on a special occasion to splurge or something, but I guess if you have the kind of money where you spend $5 a day on coffee without blinking, maybe you should be donating some of it.

Coffee club at work cost $0.20 a cup. Twenty cents. So you’re not asking me to give up one cup of coffee, you’re asking me to give up 25 cups of coffee. Twenty five. You’re basically asking me to give up drinking coffee altogether.

That better be a hell of a magazine.

And that’s just your fundraiser. What about the 15 other people who want me to donate to them, “just the price of a coffee”? I can’t bankroll everybody, and I don’t want to. Donations are no way to run a business. Maybe there isn’t a market for some things. Maybe the market is already over-saturated. Maybe you’re just not that good at running a business. I don’t know.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t mind buying a product to support something that I want to support. I even donate on occasion. Just don’t make it seem so trivial. “Oh, just the price of a coffee! So simple!”

It’s not so simple. It’s money. If it were so simple, you wouldn’t be asking me for it.

Garden 2014

I haven’t had a post yet about the garden this year, but it’s going as strong as ever. Lots and lots of tomatoes (15 maybe?), as well as kale, swiss chard, strawberries, and two extremely under-performing basil plants.

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There is also some mystery squash / pumpkin / cantaloup / the Audrey II slowly exploding out of / taking over the chard. We didn’t plant it, but it seemed too big and healthy to pull. A little TOO big and healthy at this point, but we might as well see it through.

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In addition to the garden, we added an additional “garden annex” in the parking lot out back. This one is mostly maintained by the kids, who planted everything, keep it watered (more or less), and eat the peas. Evie’s in charge of the pots, and Ollie is in charge of his “box”, which was made by Grandpa Ron as a birthday present.

parking lot garden

Ollie had two specific things he wanted to plant in his box. His “flowers” – bachelor button seeds given by Lisa that he’s been dying to plant for years…

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…and his pumpkin seeds. Last Halloween, Ollie dismantled several pumpkins at school and saved approximately 200 pumpkin seeds in a box for MONTHS. He was so excited to plant them, but I thought there was *no way* that they would grow. Until, sure enough…

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Unfortunately, the strawberries were really popping while we were on vacation, so we mostly missed out on those. However, we did get enough from elsewhere for Sara to can more than 20 pints of strawberry jam. We also did some mulberry jam, so if you were planning on poaching mulberries from around the neighborhood, too late!

With our jam supply secured for the year, we now wait in hopefull anticipation for all of those tomato plants. Next up, salsa!

 

Quote Monday has/needs hair

::Ollie started petting my leg::
Ollie: “Oh, I thought that was a dog, so I just started petting it.”

Evie: “Daddy, you do NOT have bangs! HA HA HA HA HA HA!”

Yeah, yeah, daddy’s baldness is endlessly funny.

Me: “Ollie, unfortunately I think we need to cut your hair for the summer, so you’ll be cooler.”
Ollie: “Cooler?”
Me: “Yeah, cooler for the summer.”
Ollie: “Cooler to people?”
Me: “Less warm.”
Ollie: “Ooooh. Well…how can we make me cooler to people?”

Chocolate Covered Bacon Toffee (aka Bacon Crack)

First Friday Food began with me guest-posting on another blog, so it seems fitting to host a guest recipe of my own.

Today, fellow author Beth Cato (as you may know, we shared a table of contents in OOMPH) stops by as part of the Clockwork Cookie Blog Tour to talk to us about her new book, as well of two of the most wonderful things in the world: bacon, and toffee.

I think I might have just picked out the first recipe for Baconfest next year…

———————-

Hi! I’m Beth Cato. I’m here to share some sweet-salty-savory goodness and to introduce you to my book.

My debut novel, THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, comes out September 16th from Harper Voyager. It’s a steampunk novel with airships, espionage, and a world tree that seriously plays favorites. Here’s the back cover summary:

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

You can also read the full first chapter over at Tor.com. It can be found at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most any independent bookstore.

Now, on to the Bacon Crack!

I’m an author, but I’m also somewhat infamous for my cooking. Every Wednesday over at my site, I post a new recipe in my Bready or Not series.

This recipe makes bacon into addictive candy. The first thing you taste is chocolate, then the sweet of toffee, and then the smoky, salty taste of the bacon. The pieces are small and it’s easy to keep popping them in your mouth.

It’s called bacon crack for a reason.

Chocolate Covered Bacon Toffee (aka Bacon Crack)

Modified from Wine and Glue

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (should make about one cup)
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Prep the bacon and have it ready. Layer a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and make sure you have a space where it will fit in the fridge.
  2. It’s toffee time. In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter, sugar, and salt. Stir regularly until the mixture boils and comes to a 285 degrees F. (Yes, a candy thermometer is necessary here.) The temperature is slow to start but once it gets above boiling, it goes up quickly.
  3. Once the mixture has reached the right temperature, quickly stir in the almonds, and then the bacon. The fat is going to melt off the bacon immediately and separate from the rest of the mixture.
  4. Pour it all into the jelly roll pan.  It will start to set quickly, and the bacon fat will be liquid and on top. If you can, lift the pan with one of the corners pointed down and pour off the fat into the glass measuring cup. Get as much of it as you can, turning the pan and dripping from the opposite corner as necessary. OR–because my mixture didn’t set and wanted to slide off–grab some paper towels and blot the fat from the top.
  5. Let the toffee set for at least two hours in the refrigerator. Move to the freezer for an hour. Once frozen, break it apart and store it in there as you prep the chocolate.
  6. Melt the chocolate using the microwave or a double boiler. Taking a few pieces of toffee out of the freezer at a time, dip it in the chocolate, setting it on wax paper to set.
  7. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

OM NOM NOM.

Beth Cato’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, a steampunk fantasy novel from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

Radiant

some pig

That’s some pig…

Founding Farmers – A Bad Experience

I don’t know if I’ve ever written a bad review of a restaurant before, so this is somewhat of an unfortunate first.

As I mentioned on the D.C. post, we had planned out a few special restaurants well in advance. Founding Farmers was one that we were particularly looking forward to. On top of the fact that several people have told me it was their favorite restaurant in D.C., it’s mission of supporting small farmers and buying local, organic ingredients when possible is certainly right up our alley. A restaurant that composts!

And the food was, overall, pretty good! But there were a series of increasingly bizarre mishaps that were sort of impossible to ignore. It could be that we were just unlucky or had a particularly bad waitress, but I believe indicate a larger problem with the way the restaurant is run.

The first incident was that we got the wrong appetizer. Now, before you jump down my throat, this was no big deal and probably wouldn’t even have been worth mentioning if not for everything that came after. It was quickly and painlessly resolved.

However, when the meals came out, we also received a wrong entree. I can’t stress enough how much I don’t like to send food back or make a fuss at a restaurant, but in this case the kids had ordered a plain hamburger (no cheese), but instead received a blue cheese bacon burger. The waitress even said, “Hamburger, no cheese!” when she set it down on the table. Evie will not eat cheese of any kind, but especially loathes blue cheese, so I had no choice but to ask for a new one.

Unfortunately our waitress had disappeared and it took quite some time to get a replacement. Now again, even at this point, it was no big deal. It was the next incident which was really the kicker.

After we exchanged the burger and started to eat, Sara said, “My salad is wrong too. This has olives on it.” So we once again flagged down the waitress and explained there had been another mistake. Naturally, she was flustered. “No, that’s the salad you ordered!” she insisted. “I don’t remember which salad I ordered, but I really don’t like olives, so I’m pretty sure the one I ordered didn’t have olives,” said Sara. “I wanted the one with the grapes and the dates?” “No, I’m sure that’s the one you ordered,” insisted the waitress again. “I’m sure of it.”

She went off to get the menu to prove it to us, and at this point I know Sara was feeling like maybe she accidentally said the wrong salad. But when the waitress got back and showed us the menu, the salad listed said:

Farmers Salad

Baby Lettuce, Avocado, Dates, Tomatoes, Red Grapes, Almonds, Parmesan Cheese, Champagne Vinaigrette

“Yes, that’s the one I ordered!” said Sara. “It doesn’t say olives.” “Well,” said the waitress in a snotty tone. “It doesn’t list everything.”

This is where it started to go off the rails. Yes it does too list everything, and furthermore olives are a pretty significant ingredient. We’re not talking about some extra sunflower seeds or something; adding olives to that salad significantly changes the character of the salad. You can’t add olives and not mention it; Sara is not the only one who doesn’t like olives. In retrospect, there didn’t seem to be any dates on the salad, so maybe they substituted olives for dates? But, again, you can’t not mention a substitution like that.

But furthermore, if there are unlicensed olives on a salad and someone complains about it, you can’t get snotty with them! Get snotty at the chefs or manager or whoever authorized dates-for-olives, but not at the customer who didn’t want the olives!

“Do you want us to make you a new one without the olives?” asked the waitress, extremely put out. “I’m really sorry,” said Sara, “but I really don’t like olives.”

It took quite a while for the new salad to come out, so by the time Sara got her meal, the rest of us were finished. We had originally planned to get dessert, but at this point we thought it best to just cut our losses and run.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t over yet.

When the check came out, I made sure to triple check it, especially with the wrong appetizers and everything. It just seemed likely there would be a mistake. There wasn’t…until she brought my credit card back. The amount charged to the credit card was not the same as what was on the bill.

“What do I do?” I asked Sara. “They couldn’t have added gratuity for just us, right? Do I just subtract the difference from the tip or something?” “You have to tell her,” said Sara. I really didn’t want to. I mean, I didn’t want more grief, I just wanted to get out of there.

The waitress was apologetic and made jokes about our table being the “cursed” table, but honestly, this was a bridge too far. It took her FOREVER to correct the bill. The kids were getting squirrely, and we were feeling very frustrated. I don’t really understand why we didn’t jump to the top of her “to do” list at that point, if for no other reason than just to get rid of us.

It should be noted that, at no time during any of this, did a manager come over to talk to us or did anybody mention anything about taking something off the bill or anything like that. Of course, I didn’t ask to talk to a manager or anything (and I really don’t think I ever would, short of the food actually murdering a member of my party), but, I don’t know, it just seemed like it might have been appropriate.

So, despite the food being generally good (would it be petty at this point to mention the deviled eggs and potato salad were meh at best?), I can’t in good conscience recommend Founding Farmers.

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