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Monday, September 28, 2015

Recipe Review week of 9/21/2015

Happy Monday! 

It was a weekend playing and doing house stuff.   Saturday the Folks, Andy-dog and I went to Jay Cooke St. Park and enjoyed a slightly damp and foggy 5.5 mile walk in the woods.  Leaves are barely turning, grass is still green, and the air smelled so good!   The Thompson Dam must have been open because the water was simply roaring downstream.  Very impressive. 

Fog was lifting but still pretty dense as we finished.  Duluth can be like that - anything along the lake and up the St. Louis River is sometimes socked in with fog for days. 

The Meal Plan:
Sun (L) Brats and baked beans   (S)  leftover barley risotto
Mon (yoga)  leftover brats
Tues -  Stuffed Poblanos  didn't get made
Wed - leftovers
Thurs (yoga) chili, cornbread (from a box) and pumpkin pie
Fri - leftovers
Sat - TBD

KFC Barbeque Baked Beans (  gluten free
A co-worker brought this to our Country Fried Chicken Potluck back in June and I loved it! I finally got the recipe and immediately made it...with a few changes.  I used dried beans I had pre-cooked.  Because I tossed the cooking liquid I added two cup water.  Two cups would have been better - made for a slightly saucier dish.

Per my co-workers recommendation, I doubled the bacon and onions.  

I forgot to add the vinegar - because I was using dried beans, I wanted to make sure they didn't turn out tough or chewy and was going to add at the end  Oops. 

While easy and delicious, this could use a bit of background heat - just a splash tho!  I also think some bourbon added before baking would be really good - maybe 1/8 of a cup so it doesn't end up booze-y?    Many ways this could be played with.  Enjoy! 

2 15oz cans small white beans, undrained
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tsp minced onion (I used about 1/2 cup)
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I used four slices)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
dash pepper
dash garlic powder

1) Preheat oven to 350*
2) Pour entire contents of 15oz cans of beans into covered casserole dish.
3) Combine water and cornstarch, mixing until cornstarch is dissolved.  Stir mixture into beans.
4) Add remaining ingredients to beans, stir, and cover.
5) Bake for 90 minutes or until sauce thickens.  Stir every thirty minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.   

Red Pepper, Corn, and Black Bean Chowder (Ckng Lght June 2015)  vegetarian option, gluten free
This was super easy to assemble, especially since I "broiled" the peppers on the grill while cooking dinner.  Then I was able to let them steam as I ate.  Rest came together in no time at all, and my lunch was ready for the week!   Flavors on this are bright, with a hint of heat from the chipolte.  Use less chipolte if you don't care for zing.  I made this as directed, skipping the garnishes since I was transporting in a lunch box.  Made four lunches. 

1 cup chopped onion
photo from
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 broiled red bell peppers, skins removed
2 cups unsalted chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh corn kernels
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons plain 2% Greek yogurt
4 tablespoons cilantro
4 lime wedges 

Sauté onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat 3 minutes. Place onion mixture, broiled bell peppers, chicken stock, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and chipotle chile in a blender; blend until smooth. Return to pan. Stir in beans; simmer 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir in corn kernels and salt. Place 1 cup soup in each of 4 bowls; top with 2 tablespoons plain 2% Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and 1 lime wedge.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chicken update!

Lookit this! 

One of our Ameracauna's (aka the "Bernadettes") has started laying!  I knew we were getting close and it's finally happened.  The Husband said he found the egg under the four nest boxes he created, which doesn't surprise me, really.  It's a nice cozy cubby. 

Egg in the middle is from the Ameracauna.  First eggs are always so little! 

Supposedly, when one begins to lay, the rest will quickly start as well.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Recipe Review Week of 9/14/2015

Summer is slowly winding down up here in the Northland - weather has been absolutely fantastic this fall.  Continued warm temps of 60* to 73*, some moderate rain showers passing through to help with fall recharge and keep the grass nice and green (much to the Husband's irritation).  Fall flowers are still blooming and just a hint of color is starting to show in the leaves.  Great time to take an hour or two and enjoy sitting out on the porch for weekend and some evening meals.

Which brings me round to last weeks meal plan, which imploded in a spectacular fashion all because of one oops on my part, which I will discuss in a moment.   Cooler temps also means bread baking has started again; at least that was successful.

Our main flock of chickens hasn't started laying yet, though everyone keeps telling me they will do so "any day now".   What the main flock of chickens has decided to do, is start going over the 6' high fence.  So far we've shooed back in one Amy and Red, on separate days.  Goofy birds.  They get out, then they want back in.

So here are the new recipes:

Cuban Bread (New Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton)
If you enjoy baking bread, this is an awesome book.  It has become my go-to.  With one exception, the recipes turn out consistently good bread.  Clayton offers three ways to assemble in any recipe: by hand, stand mixer, or food processor.  I do by hand and by stand mixer.  

This is a very simple bread to assemble and bake.  It makes two loaves - one for freezing and one for immediate eating.  Because it doesn't have any fat in it (shortening/butter/oil) it is not a long lasting bread and best eaten right away.  This makes great toast, and would probably make awesome French toast as well. 

Herbed Wheat Berry and Roasted Tomato Salad with Grilled Chipolte Chicken Breasts (Ckng Lght, Aug 2015)
COLOSSAL fail, which was ENTIRELY my fault.  Allow me to explain:   

I love wheat berries, and when I saw this recipe I was thrilled!  Dinner one night, then lunches the rest of the week.  I thought I would be efficient and slow cook my wheat berries to save me some time.  Smart, right?  Exccepppt...what I tossed into the slow cooker wasn't exactly wheat berries.  It was barley.

Oops.  I quick rummaged around my freezer looking for those darn wheat berries.  Nary a berry to be found.  I must have used them up prior to The Remodel and not yet replaced.

But!  Barley can be subbed for wheat berries, so I proceeded forth.

Annndd forgot that water and cooking time needed to be adjusted.  I ended up with the plumpest barley I have ever seen!  It was a bit like plump mush.  Oy.

I plowed ahead, dubbing this barly "risotto".   It...kinda worked.  Not my best meal, but not so bad to be tossed.

But, that wasn't the end.  I forgot to buy the chipolte in adobo for the chicken.  So those just got grilled plain.

And so I ate the barley "risotto" for the rest of the week for lunches.  It was decent - not something I care to repeat, but decent and filling.

I'm not going to type out the recipe because it is fuggly long.  Cooking Light hasn't yet posted the August recipes to the website - which is odd for them.  I'll try to remember to come back and link.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Remodel Update - September

And Lo!  It has come to pass that the kitchen remodel is officially complete!   Last week the contractor came and installed the final components:  the back splash, one drawer, and replaced one drawer face.

I am doing a happy dance!

Unfortunately, it does not mean I'm completely moved back in and everything is in it's place... I'm getting close, but still not quite there.  In fact, I was reflecting (cursing) this morning over one of my cabinets with all the tupperware, the blender, the food processor, the strainers was all higgle-de piggle-de and everything was falling out.  Yeah, a bit of organization yet awaits.

I will also admit, I think picking out the back splash was probably the most difficult part of the whole remodel.  It was hard to find something that complimented the counter top.  I don't know how many times I was at the tile place, picking out yet another sample to haul home and prop up in various places under different lighting conditions.

In the end, the Husband and I settled on a cream colored subway tile with just a hint of variation.  I really love how everything came together!  

Before I put everything back on the counters.

Different lighting
Close up!
And that, is a wrap.  If I remember - and if the kitchen is clean enough - I will post a couple pics of the completed project. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Live Wire by Harlan Coben (Myron Bolitar #10)

Live Wire (Myron Bolitar, #10)Live Wire by Harlan Coben

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  Harlan Coben published his first Myron Bolitar thriller, Deal Breaker, in 1995, introducing a hero that would captivate millions. Over the years we have watched Myron walk a tight rope between sports agent, friend, problem solver and private eye, his big heart quick to defend his client's interests so fiercely that he can't help but jump in to save them, no matter the cost.

When former tennis star Suzze T and her rock star husband, Lex, encounter an anonymous Facebook post questioning the paternity of their unborn child, Lex runs off, and Suzze - at eight months pregnant - asks Myron to save her marriage, and perhaps her husband's life. But when he finds Lex, he also finds someone he wasn't looking for: his sister-in-law, Kitty, who along with Myron's brother abandoned the Bolitar family long ago.

As Myron races to locate his missing brother while their father clings to life, he must face the lies that led to the estrangement - including the ones told by Myron himself. If we thought we knew Myron Bolitar, Coben now proves we didn't. An electric, stay-up-all night thriller that unfolds at a breakneck pace, Live Wire proves that Harlan Coben still has the ability to shock us anew. 

Read as an audiobook.

To say this volume was fast paced would be an understatement.   It was a whirlwind of characters, emotional roller coasters and twisted mystery.  Almost...dare I say it...too much so?  I also found this book had darker undercurrents than previous books, which added to the overall intensity.

My main complaint with the last several books, and this has become a cumulative complaint, is Myron's obsession with his parents growing old.  It's as if his character simply cannot accept change: he didn't want his parents to move to Florida, he doesn't want the neighborhood to change, he wants what his parents had in the 2.5 kids, white picket fence and barbecues in the back yard.  A nostalgia for something seen through his younger, more innocent and unsullied eyes.

On the other hand, I appreciate the human aspect to the story.  It adds realism to a book when characters grow, change, and reveal things other characters (and the reader) didn't know.  It adds and emotional depth and interest.

Point in this book - when Myron finally confronts his 15 year old nephew and sister-in-law.   Myron puts his foot down and tells the 15 year old, "I am the adult here, you are not."  This was a side of Myron we hadn't seen before, that I don't think Myron had seen before.  This was new. This was good.

And of course, all the usual suspects are back:  Big Cindi, Win, Esperanza, Ellie and Al.   We have the emotional tug of war from his parents, from Esperanza, from the sister in law Kitty, from his long standing former pro-tennis stars, from Win. Gird thyself, the punches come from unexpected places.

Recommended if you've read the first 9 in the series.  Not a stand alone book. 

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Oregon 2015

I'm back!  Again! 

Labor Day weekend found me once again in Corvallis, OR, visiting my sister Karen, the Nephew and her Husband.    Weather remained coolish overall, which I was not prepared for.  Warmest it got was the day before I left, a mere 75*.   After I left, Corvallis was expecting 90*.   I Just missed the heat, darn it!

Mt. Hood
The itinerary:
Thursday - arrived in Portland at 1030a.  My sister and her Husband picked me up and we went to three yarn stores:  Happy Knits, Close Knits,  and Yarntastic,  a fabulous Italian restaurant called Luce, and Willamette Valley Vineyard winery south of Portland.  

Ripe grapes at Willamette Valley Vineyards
Friday - Karen and I headed out and went to Oregon Knitting Company Domaine Drouhin Winery, and Red Ridge Farms - an olive oil grove north of Corvallis (south of Portland) in the Dundee region.  Fabulous!  Later I went for a walk with the nephew in the neighborhood - needed to stretch the out a bit and look at the mountains. 

Red Ridge Olive Oils/Nursery/Winery
Saturday - we had a morning appointment for pedicures, then we picked up two of Karen's co-workers and Karen's MIL and went to a winery south of Corvallis called Brigadoon.  We enjoyed several glasses of wine while overlooking the vineyard and surrounding hills, and noshing on chocolate dipped strawberries, small pastries, savory shortbread cookies, and stuffed mushrooms.  The food was unexpected and a pleasant surprise.  Later I went for an evening walk with the nephew in the neighborhood. 

Sunday - a quiet morning knitting, a bit of gardening in the Sister's community garden plot, and a stop at Stash yarn store in Corvallis.  I had been doing a CKAL with them as part of the Stephen/Steven B Colorplay Tour so I had to show off my nearly finished project.  I say nearly finished because I had about 1 hour of bind off left!

Me at Stash!
Later we were invited downstairs for dinner at Karen's in-law's apartment (which is the one right below theirs).  And, again, went for an evening walk with the nephew in the neighborhood. 

Monday - watched my sister clean house (she was joking that she was almost ready for my visit!). then we grabbed the nephew, MIL and all went for a longer walk in a nearby nature area.  Afterwards, we hung out at the apartment, and I went for an evening walk with the nephew in the neighborhood.  Packed.

Tuesday - Up at 3a to catch a 4a shuttle back to Portland.   Had plenty of time to get a good breakfast - I got to watch the sun rise over the mountains while enjoying some blueberry pancakes.  Back on the ground in Minneapolis at 200p.  On the road by 230p.  Met The Husband in Hinkley for an early dinner (he was down there for a meeting so it worked out perfectly).  Home by 630p to unpack and catch up a bit. 

Trips are done for the year, which is okay by me!  Time to catch up on house and yard projects, do some fall biking, hiking, and sitting on the porch.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Conspriator by CJ Cherryh (Foreigner #10)

Conspirator (Foreigner, #10)Conspirator by C.J. Cherryh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb:  Cajeiri is the young son of the powerful leader of the Western Association-and he has become a target for forces bent on destroying his father's rule. For Cajeiri is the first ateva to understand the humans living among them-an understanding that threatens his own race.
The jacket blurb for this book is generic to the point of pointless, since the story revolves around Bren, the Dowager, and the young gentleman Cajeiri as the characters and plot moves forward. Towards what, remains to be seen...

The politics in the Capitol have forced Bren from his temporary residence to his home on the coast, which he decides isn't such a bad thing.  A visit and some relaxation are long overdue.  What he leaves behind is one very disgruntled Cajeiri, who takes it upon himself and his companions to follow the pahdhi to his coastal estate.  Just when the dust is settling from this unexpected turn of events, the young gentleman and his companions end up in a pickle when a boat they "borrowed" is pushed out to sea on the tide.  The town comes to the aid of the youngsters and everyone is brought back safely.

A visit to the neighboring estate to express thanks on behalf of all uncovers an assassination plot and an entrenched political rival to Cajeiri's father in an allies house. With the help of the Dowager's forces, the rival fraction is ousted from the peninsula.  The book concludes with a rather stunning meeting between the natives of the peninsula, the Padhi, and the Dowager. 

In my opinion, this was one of the more interesting Foreigner books.  Much of the plot surrounds Cajeiri, the troubles he gets into and Bren's reaction to those troubles.  The padhi still assumes too much of the guilt in regards to Cajeiri's actions, when it isn't Bren's fault.  The young gentleman is headstrong and resourceful.  If the Guild can't keep track of the boy, how in the world does Bren think he can?

What we also see is just how much Bren has integrated himself into the culture of the Atevi, and he admits as much to his brother Toby and his girlfriend Barb when they come to visit.  Human norms, such as hugging and effusive greetings are now unfamiliar and awkward for Bren, and he finds himself in this odd place of not really belonging in either world. 

There is also a thread of political action happening just below the surface which is subtle, and I'm sure pertinent to forthcoming books. 

Recommended if you've read the first 9 books in the series.  Not a stand alone book.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Recipe Review from 8/31/2015

Yes, yes, I KNOW it's been forever since I've posted about a new recipe!  It's just been that kind of month - a four day anatomy training down in the Cities, a trip to Spokane, two days of harvesting wild rice, and now my most recent adventures - which I'll discuss in the next post (hopefully).

The meal plan;

Sun (B) eggy sandwiches with gravy
(L) Broccoli and Bacon Mac 'n Cheese
(S) Chicken Verde Tacos
Mon (Bkgrp)  leftover tacos
Tues - either leftover tacos, or pasta with tuna and sauce
Wed (I'm on adventures!)

Lunches - Chicken Nicoise Salad, fruit, yogurt, luna bars

Sausage, Gravy and Egg Sandwiches  (Ckng Lght Sept 2015)  vegetarian,
This was a "Duh! Why didn't I think of this!" recipe.  I do eggy sandwiches about once a month, but I've never thought to put this combination together.  I did downsize the recipe to feed two of us (we don't have a microwave to reheat pre-made frozen sandwiches in).  I also simplified buying a package of sausage patties, rather than futzing around and making my own.

The Husband ate his open faced; I did mine as a complete sandwich, so there's some versatility here.  Recommended!

Recipe as written serves 6, with the option of freezing a portion.
1/2 pound turkey breakfast sausage
photo from Scifi with Paprika blog
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 3/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Dash of ground red pepper
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 light multigrain English muffins, split and toasted

1. Divide sausage into 6 equal portions; pat each portion into a 3-inch patty (about 1/4 inch thick). Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add patties; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer patties to a plate. Reserve drippings in pan.

2. Combine milk and next 6 ingredients (through red pepper), stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add mixture to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 3 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add eggs; cook 4 minutes, stirring until curds form.

4. Divide eggs evenly over bottom halves of muffins. Top each with 3 tablespoons gravy. Place 1 sausage patty and top half of muffin on each sandwich.

To freeze: Separately cool sandwiches and gravy to room temperature. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap. Place sandwiches in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; freeze. Fill ice-cube molds with gravy, 3 tablespoons per cube. Freeze until solid; transfer gravy cubes to a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag, and return to freezer. Store sandwiches and gravy for up to 3 months.

To heat: Remove sandwiches from wrapping; wrap each in a paper towel. Microwave at HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Place gravy cube in a small microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave at HIGH for 1 minute; stir with a whisk until smooth.

One-pan Broccoli-Bacon Mac n' Cheese (CkngLght, Sept 2015)  vegetarian option
This is touted as being a 25 minute meal, and with prep and assembly, this closer to 30 minutes. be fair, if I hadn't dropped a jar of spaghetti sauce on the floor with spectacular splatter range, it might not have taken me quite so long.

I did this pretty much as written, noting that for a vegetarian option, skip the bacon and use a vegetable broth.  Make sure you use a LARGE skillet.  My 12" was on this side of being too small.  Give yourself some stirring and mixing room, and make sure you have a lid handy.   Recommended. 

photo from
2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped (optional)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups unsalted chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 (10-ounce) package frozen butternut squash puree, thawed
10 ounce uncooked large elbow macaroni
3 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided (about 1 1/4 cups)

1 Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan.

2. Remove all but 2 teaspoons bacon drippings from pan. Add garlic to ­drippings in pan; sauté 30 seconds.

3. Add stock, milk, and squash to pan; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

4. Add pasta; cover, ­reduce heat, and ­simmer 5 minutes, ­stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli; cover and cook 3 minutes or until pasta is done and sauce is thickened.

5 Stir in salt, pepper, and 4 ounces cheese. Sprinkle bacon and remaining cheese on top. Cover; let stand 1 minute.

Chicken Verde Tacos (Ckng Lght, Sept 2015)  gluten free
Easy. Peasy.  I downsized to feed one.  My only note would be, make sure your salsa verde isn't "jalepeno" salsa verde.  That's a bit on the hot side even for this gal and definitely a no-go for little tastebuds.

Otherwise, recommended for an hot summer night, or if you need dinner on the table fast. 

photo from
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1/2 cup prepared salsa verde
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
1/3 cup canola mayonnaise (I used plain greek yogurt)

1. Combine chicken and salsa in a saucepan over medium heat; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
2. Heat tortillas 20 seconds on each side over an open flame or according to directions.
3. Combine cabbage and mayonnaise in a bowl; toss to coat.
4. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top with cabbage mixture.


Chicken Niçoise Salad (Ckng Lght, Sept 2015)  gluten free 
This was for my lunch and was easy enough to pull together.  I did it while catching up on some work on the computer and doing laundry.   My only complaint with this recipe is, it's a single serving. I kinda said screw that, and made extra to last at least a couple three days.   

 I also bought a rotisserie chicken and shredded it, instead of a single chicken breast (seriously?  who the heck buys one chicken breast?).  I then used the leftover chicken for the Chicken Verde Tacos (above)  If I end up with any leftover chicken after that, I can freeze and use at a future date.  So much simpler than cooking all these single pieces of chicken.

But, it's the dressing that pulls this together.  OMGosh!  Loved it!  Tangy, sweet, creamy and oh so simple!  This could easily become a summer favorite.  
 Honey-mustard vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon canola mayonnaise
photo from
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar

 Cooking spray
1 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast half, cut lengthwise into 6 strips
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces red potatoes (about 2)
1/2 cup green beans, trimmed
1 cup mixed salad greens
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon pitted kalamata olives, sliced

1. To prepare the honey-mustard vinaigrette, combine mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons water, and honey in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add vinegar, stirring with a whisk.

2. To prepare salad, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Add chicken to grill pan; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. Cut 3 chicken strips into 1-inch pieces. Reserve remaining 3 chicken strips for another use.

3. Bring potatoes to a boil in a medium saucepan filled with water. Cook 18 minutes. Add green beans; cook 3 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. Drain. Cut potatoes into wedges. Top salad greens with chopped chicken strips, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, and vinaigrette.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Wild Ricing 2015

After a two year hiatus from ricing - one year the rice was poor and the other year I suspect I was busy - my friend Tom and I were out on the water again.  We riced for two days, in nearly perfect weather: overcast and on the cooler side, but not too cool.

We are combining our efforts with several other people; individually (ie, pairs - it's a two person job) we don't harvest enough for the processing places to want to deal with.  Collectively, though, we can get 200lbs and then the processing places will handle the rice.

After two days and two different lakes, Tom and I harvested 67 lbs.   After processing it should yield just over 30 lbs, which will be 15 lbs each.  Nice!

So what does ricing involve exactly?  As I mentioned above, it's a two person job.  One person slowly poles the canoe around and the other person knocks the rice into the boat.  There are all sorts of regulations on the size and weight of the knocking sticks, the length and type of duck foot and pole, when you can start (9a) and end (3p), and more.

This is also assuming you don't mind sitting in a canoe full of spiders (I counted 7 different kinds), rice worms, ladybugs, grass fleas, and flies.  

On a really good  year, a experienced pair can easily harvest 80-100lbs of rice.  We...are not quite so experienced.  And it wasn't a really good year.  Rice conditions are very dependent upon the weather, water depth, temperature, and lake conditions.

Still, it's a boat load of FUN when we can go!  I absolutely love ricing! 

What a wild rice lake looks like in Northern MN.  Grass out there is about 5' tall.

This was 47 lbs of rice.
View from the bottom of the canoe. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey (Expanse #2)

Caliban's War (Expanse, #2)Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening to spread out into the solar system.
In the vast wilderness of space, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been keeping the peace for the Outer Planets Alliance. When they agree to help a scientist search war-torn Ganymede for a missing child, the future of humanity rests on whether a single ship can prevent an alien invasion that may have already begun.

I'm about two week's behind in writing this review.  I wanted to finish the book before I left for Worldcon, with the best of intentions to write down my thoughts during the evening when I had some downtime.


So.  A belated attempt to pull my thoughts together.
I really enjoyed this book.  Reading Leviathan's Wake first is a must.  Which my book group did here: Leviathan's Wake.  Caliban's War had everything that's makes space opera, "Space Opera". 

Caliban's War is a face paced space opera that bounces between four points of view:  James Holden, captain of the Rocinante, and his crew have stumbled upon something very, very nasty on Ganymede.  Prax is on Ganymede when one of the mirrored solar arrays crashes to the tiny moon, destroying everything - but the only thing he cares about is who kidnapped his daughter.  Avasarala is a politician doing political things.  And Robbie, marine, was the only survivor who saw the Thing that ripped apart her platoon which kicked off the whole book. 

The characters have real people problems:  the panic over a lost child, a partner walking out on you, wanting nothing more than to go home to a spouse's loving arms.  This aspect helped to balance what could have been overwhelming space - a planet destroyed, pending war, fear of the unknown thing growing on Venus. 

I thought the different pov's were nicely balanced and were engaging enough that I wanted to know how the authors were going to pull everything together.  There was just enough politics to balance out the "western vigilante" with the human touch to keep any one aspect from becoming too much. 

And have I mentioned the ending?  No...of course I haven't.  To say this was a stunner would be an understatement.  Didn't see that one coming at. all.

I must go read the next book...

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