Monday, March 26, 2007

It's gettin' hot in here!

We've been busy. There's been a good deal of dinner attending and imbibing of alcoholic beverages. I rather enjoy free alcohol. It's a good way to supplement the alcohol that I pay for. We've somehow managed to squeeze in good CO adventures in, though. We went to the Denver Art Museum for the "Making Metal" event. They had a good deal of metal related art events throughout the museum and out front they had professors and students from the University of Colorado doing live pourings. We watched the bronze pouring, which was both freaking cool and terrifying.

You can see here the furnace being removed from around the crucible, which is insane hot. I can't even believe they let us stand as close as we did. If you look close you can see a woman holding her child in terror, while a child holds a man's neck in similar terror. Little did they know there would be more and with each new development, things would get hotter.

Here you can see two men of the huskier variety trying their best not to burst into flames. It was a tricky business. In mere moments this hot glowing cup filled with molten bronze being held by salad tongs was to come far too close to my face. It was a bit exhilarating.

Do you see? Things were on fire! This was maybe a foot from my person. There were children standing next to me openly discussing moving beyond the magic rope that divided the crazy people from the lookers on. They wanted to go help these people pour. Even the flames couldn't convince them that touching anything on the other side of the rope was a bad idea. Children are often not as smart as I think they are. Perhaps they're just more adventurous than I am.

Again, do you see? The bronze is HOT! I also like this one student's desire to stand out in the crowd by going with the space suit variety of protective clothing. I appreciate this kind of gusto, especially here in CO where brown leather is so popular. Little did I know this student would later disappoint me.
They put a penny in the hot bronze to teach the kids some chemistry. All of us grown ups already knew what they were trying to show us. *Cough* You can sort of see the green in it, which was the copper burning off and then there was a flurry of smoke created by the zinc, I believe. I wasn't taking notes, although I should have been. Isn't it illegal to destroy legal tender? Does it still count if it's just a penny? I also learned that bronze is about 96% copper. This was the professors gentle way of telling her student not to smash at the plaster too violently lest he hit the actual casting and make an unwanted mark in it.
All of those cylinders are the casts from the students. I found myself imagining amazing things. I thought a bit about Jeanie in the bottle waiting to come out. Inside all of that wax filled plaster would be beautiful busts or hands or stunning examples of pure form or of pure function. Something.
Imagine my disappointment when I was greeted by none other than ... The Lion King.

That's right, folks. There was an adult Simba looking me right in the face. I know it's hard to tell in the photo, but in person there was no mistaking it. You can sort of see the mouth opening for a roar. This student in the space suit confirmed that it was indeed his vision of Disney's beloved Lion King. I immediately left and went for a beer at Pints Pub, which is just a block away. They have nice cask conditioned ales and a sick number of scotches. They also have fries covered in curry and gravy. I like it there. It's a nice place to knit. This made me feel better about Simba and his space suited creator. I hope that he can come up with more than that in the future or else being an Art major might not be the right path for him. Maybe he should take up knitting.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Something new!

I'm going to try a picture or two. I don't really have any on this computer because I took them all off after realizing I had very little memory. I'm in the process of eliminating this problem, but for now, I'm sort of stuck. If it works, there will be a flurry of photos and stories to go with them. I like stories, so I'm hoping it all goes well.

This is a dog painted up like a panda. It has, for the past few days kept me from taking a long walk off of a short pier. It's odd to me that such a simple thing can keep me from leaving my new perfectly wonderful job and sleeping all day. It's better than an alarm clock. I shower thinking of the moment that my computer will load and I can look at this glorious photograph. I'm sure everybody has seen it already, but I don't care. It's fantastic.

And now on to another fun image!

I like to look at this drawing and point at all the lymphnodes that I no longer have. It would probably be easier to point at the ones I do have. I downloaded this picture at the point in my life where I suddenly had to know for unfortunate reasons where all the lymphnodes were located in my body.

This all seems to work, so I'm hopeful about the future of this blog. It will grow increasingly more attractive. I like to cater to folks that prefer their words broken up with pictures. This weekend I'll work on posting more interesting photos, which will undoubtedly inspire me to write something interesting or at least not boring. It will not be about the movie, Rocky Balboa. I can promise that.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Irish Whiskey Marmalade

Recipe makes 3.6-4.5kg/8-10lbs (Isn't it funny to weigh marmalade in lbs? Maybe I don't make enough canned items.)

-1.3kg/3lb Seville oranges
-Juice of 2 large lemons
-2.75kb/6lb/13.5 cups sugar, warmed
-about 300ml/.5 pint/1.25 cups Irish whiskey (It is also quite good with a small batch bourbon, even one such as Knob Creek tastes quite good)

+Scrub the oranges using a nylon brush and pick off the disc at the stalk end. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze the juice, retaining the pips. Quarter the peel, cut away and reserve any thick white pith, and shred the peel - thickly or thinly depending on what you prefer.
+Cut up the reserved pith roughly and tie it up with the pips in a square muslin (cheesecloth) using a long piece of string. Tie the bag loosely, so that the water can circulate in the bag during cooking and will extract the pectin from the pith and pips. Hang the bag from the handle of the preserving pan.
+Add the cut peel, strained juices and 3.5litres/6pints/15cups water to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1.5-2 hours, or until the peel is very tender (it will not soften further after the sugar has been added.)
+Lift up the bag of pith and pips and squeeze it out well between two plates over the pan to extract as much pectin as possible. Add the sugar to the pan and stir over a low heat until it has completely dissolved.
+Bring to the boil, and then hard boil for 15-20 minutes or until set. To test, put a spoonful of marmalade onto a cold saucer. Allow to cool slightly, and then push the surface with finger. It is set if skin has formed. If not, boil longer.
+Skim, if necessary, and leave to cool for about 15 minutes, then stir to redistribute the peel. Divide the whiskey among 8-10 warmed, sterilized jars and swill it around. Using a small heat proof jug, pour in the marmalade.
+Cover and seal while still hot. Label when cold, and store in a cool, dark place until required. The marmalade will keep well for at least 6 months.

I realize now that I was mistaken about the pouring over of the whiskey. You actually pour the marmalade into the whiskey, but the results are about the same. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Of good times and bad

I have a recipe for "Irish Whiskey Marmalade." When I first saw this recipe I was worried that the whiskey was going to be reduced and in general cooked away. But this was not the case. You go through the pains of making the marmalade and pouring it into the jars and then to complete the recipe you pour the whiskey on top and seal the jars. This creates a beautiful layered and encased look.

This is how I try to rap my mind around good times and bad in my life and in the lives of those that I care about. Sometimes the only good is the bit of whiskey that's in the jar and sometimes the good is the large amount of marmalade.

Right now it feels a bit different than usual. I feel like I am the good-times-whiskey (this is not just because I drink too much) surrounding the bad-times-marmalade of others. My life is moving on in a positive direction. Not only do I have a good job, but I am on my way to being debt free and saving money for some very important things. The snow is melting here in my part of Colorado. Purim brought hamantaschen from Mike's parents' temple on Saturday. My sock club package was waiting for me on the porch when we came back from a grocery shopping trip that cost 30 bucks less than normal because we bought more fresh veggies and fruits than our usual processed foods. A new place to knit opened up in our area that has wonderful coffee and wonderful folks. I am, in general, feeling very fortunate right now. This has thrown me head first into a vast sea of guilt.

Why am I doing so well when all those that I care about seem to be in the middle of the worst times of their lives? What makes this worse is that I have no idea how to help. So, I do the only thing that I can. I offer to make them socks. I have an unbelievably long list of folks to make socks for right now. So, I am knitting my little heart out. Stopping for very little. The arrival of my sock club is like the arrival of comfort food. Mike cooks the food to make folks feel better and I make the socks.

In the previously mentioned recipe, there is far less whiskey than there is marmalade, but they look very cozy in the final jar arrangement, as if they are engaged in a comforting embrace. And maybe this is part of it. Maybe some of us do well when others are not doing so well so that we can support each other in times of need. I'm not sure.

So, to all of those out there that are in pain right now, I am not entitled to the sadness I feel at the knowledge of your pain. However, if there is anything I can do, let me know. I'll be the whiskey to your marmalade. Let me embrace you. I have hugs to give.