Things I Now Cook in the Oven

I’m not sure what prompted me initially to Google “Cooking bacon in the oven,” or something close to that.

But I did, and in a small way, it has changed my life.

I used to fry bacon on the stovetop in a skillet, which is a somewhat time-consuming, labor-intensive method. The way I do it, I am constantly monitoring the progress, turning the bacon strips over and over, making sure it gets just crispy enough, but not too crispy.

But cooking it in the oven is So. Much. Easier.

Various recipes on the interwebs will vary slightly, but here’s one that’s pretty straightforward and is pretty much how I do it.  It works for both strip bacon and cottage bacon. (Cottage bacon is leaner and, where we buy at at the Fred Meyer meat counter, is more or less round in shape, which makes it perfect for bacon cheeseburgers.)

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(Every so often, though, I will still buy strip bacon and fry it on the stovetop. I do this, because it is a better way to render the fat and pour it into a glass jar to save in the refrigerator for when I make corn muffins, using my grandmother’s recipe. I’ve tried other types of shortening in the past, but they’re just better when I use bacon drippings.)

Then, earlier this year, it occurred to me, Can I make hamburgers in the oven? Why, yes, yes I can.

And they’re So. Much. Better. Juicy, not dry and carbonized. Twenty minutes at 350 to 375 degrees (our oven runs a little cool), turned once at 10 minutes. Then finished off under the broiler to melt the cheese. (Plus, you can cook up all the patties and save the extras for later.)

Then today, I asked myself, well, how about corn on the cob? Well, yes!

Roasting them with the husks on probably works better if you have time to soak them for a few hours. Otherwise, you can wrap them in foil.

Let’s just say that tonight’s dinner was perfect-o!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Kitty Quilt

Reviewing old blog posts, I saw that I mentioned the first two blocks for this quilt in January 2016.

kitty quilt

After making more blocks, sewing them together, and quilting the top, I finally sewed down the binding the other evening.

It’s a fun quilt to look at, but it was kind of a pain to quilt.

I had this idea to quilt each kitty differently — which I did do. But because of the prints in each cat, it could be somewhat to very difficult to see the chalk marking for the hand quilting.

 

 

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Our Oregon Coast Vacation: Wildlife

This time two weeks ago, we were in Crescent City, California, after attending my 40th high school reunion in Ashland, Oregon.

While there, we saw the first of several wild creatures — in this case, a whole bumch of seals lounging in the harbor.

seals

We also saw some pelicans on the beach.

pelican

At one beach, while Tim was wading in the surf, I spotted this little guy on a nearby driftwood log.

lizard

Midweek, we camped a couple nights at Sunset Bay State Park, on Cape Arago.

Wednesday morning, July 26, there was a tidepool exploration with a park ranger. I tagged along after her for about half an hour, gathering bits of information about what there was to see.

We looked at limpets and barnacles . . .

limpets

. . . and tiny snails. At first glance, these were just little black dots on the rocks. You had to get very close to see that they were snails. I didn’t have anything to put in the photo for size comparison, but I would say that this little guy was less than one-eight inch in diameter.

snail

I also saw a fair number of anemones, but I didn’t go out far enough to see any sea stars. The range shared a story about one time when she was leading a tour of a bunch of middle schoolers. She told them that it was okay to gently touch the tentacles of an anemone and feel it try to grab one to your finger. She described how the fat in our fingertips protects us from the anemone’s venom. However, unbeknownst to her, some of the boys were daring each other to lick an anemone. One of them later complained that his tongue felt numb.anemone

I also got a good look at some coralline algae.

coralline algae

Each one of those little segments is an individual; they aggregate to form what looks like one big plant.

The second morning at Sunset Bay, I was headed over to brush my teeth, but crossing the path ahead of me were a doe and her fawn.

fawn

Before we left Cape Arago, we visited the lookout at Simpson Reef. I had heard the seals barking from farther south at Cape Arago, and had been able to see the seals through my camera’s zoom, but got a better view at the lookout.

arago seals

There was a fellow there with a scope set up aimed at an elephant seal, which he was allowing people to look through.

I also got a picture of a bird with its breakfast, though it didn’t seem to be in any hurry to eat it.

seabird

At the second campground we stayed at, Cape Lookout, there was a swallow’s nest near the restrooms. I might not have noticed except that in the evening the two parents were swooping in and out of the passageway, which prompted me to look up. At first, I only saw two hungry chicks.

feed me

But the next morning, I could clearly see that there were three.

3 swallows

I also got a picture of one of the adults perched on a door handle across the way.

swallow

And lastly, before leaving the campground, I saw a waxwing perched on a branch.

waxwing

 

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Our San Francisco Vacation: Residential Architecture

sf4

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Regarding Apples

Earlier this year, I asked my husband to save the seeds from the Honey Crisp apples he cuts up for his lunches.

I thought it would be fun to plant some and see if one, or more, would sprout.

From reading The Botany of Desire and At the Edge of the Orchard, I know that apples are heterozygous. I know that, in the event that a tree from one of these seeds ever bears fruit, that it will most likely bear little, if any, resemblance to the apple it came from.

But that’s beside the point.

Mostly, I planted the seeds to see if anything would grow.

Of the several seeds I planted among three pots, two sprouted.

One has since withered, but the other seems to be doing just fine.

apple sprout

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Our San Francisco Vacation: Strolling Down Memory Lane

My family lived in the East Bay area of San Francisco until we moved to Houston, Texas, in 1972 when I was 13. Talk about culture shock. But that’s another story.

For a period of time from around 1982 to 1985, I lived in the south bay, just north of San Jose. On a couple of occasions, I spent some time in the City, but not a lot.

So for all practical purposes, I’ve been gone for 45 years.

For our anniversary trip this year, my husband and I spent a few days in San Francisco. It was a lot of fun.

We purchased a CityPass  which gave us free fares on Muni buses and trains and the cable cars, as well as admission to several museums. We had upgraded to include the Alcatraz tour, which was interesting. Beside the old prison, the island is a nesting spot for a variety of birds to rear their chicks. We saw *a lot* of really cute seagull chicks.

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We also visited the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum.

I have distinct memories of the CAS, particularly the alligator pool, the dioramas of taxidermied animals, the planetarium, and the pendulum.

What didn’t register at first — lo these many decades later — was that the museum we visited two weeks ago, was not the same museum of my childhood.

After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, both the CAS and the de Young were razed and rebuilt.

Here’s a picture of the CAS I grew up with.

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Here’s what it looks like now.

CAS

The alligator pool, as I said, is still there. Though its only occupant currently is one albino alligator named Claude. (When I was a kid, there were at least three or four toothy critters languidly lounging down there.)

However, the renovation had saved the unique seahorse iron railing.

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As part of our visit, we took in two of the three planetarium shows that day. (I love love LOVE planetarium shows. When I lived in Eugene, I took in a few at the WISTEC there.) (Apparently, it’s called “The Science Factory” now. Not sure what to make of that. Can you manufacture science? Sounds akin to an alternative fact.)

Anyway, it didn’t register on me until the host/emcee/scientist mentioned at the beginning of the second show that this was not the planetarium of old. It was bigger — larger dome, more seating — and was digitalthe old projector had been retired, as well as the silhouette of the San Francisco skyline.

projector

I always thought that projector was the COOLEST thing. The way it would slowly rotate during the show and make it appear as though the stars were moving like they seem to do throughout the night.

Ah, memories…

And the de Young had been rebuilt, as well.

Here’s what it looked like in the 1960s ( I suppose).

old-deyoung3

The only memory I have of visiting the de Young when I was a kid was one time when there was an exhibit of Van Gogh paintings. I guess this was before museum administrators figured out the advantages of timed entry, because all I remember is waiting in what seemed like an interminably long line of people waiting to get in.

Here’s what it looks like now.

deYoung_Exterior-Day_0

We also took BART over the the East Bay, to El Cerrito, the city of my childhood.

We disembarked at the El Cerrito Plaza and walked up Fairmount Avenue, toward my old grade school. At first, the street names were unfamiliar, but about halfway there, I saw some I recognized.

I suppose the main entrance to the school looks the same, though I don’t recall the curvilinear features. It seems, however, that the color is different. I don’t remember it being off-white, but rather some shade of forest green. But I might be wrong.

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When I was a student there, we didn’t have a “mascot.” Somewhere along the way, they became the Harding “Tigers.” A wing has also been added to the west (to the right in the photo). Back in the day, when I was in 5th or 6th grade, some portables were placed there. I think one of them housed a small, embryonic library. Until then, there had been no school library.

We continued on up towards my old home at 411 Bonnie Drive.

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In the past, I’ve seen interior photos on Zillow, though they’re not currently there. I think the kitchen has been remodeled, and the downstairs has probably been finished.

The color is different. I think it was sort of a light pink when we lived there. And there were two or three trees out front, on a little grassy strip that is now paved over. Birch or beech, I’m not sure. My dad planted them, I think, after he and my mom purchased the home in 1953. At some point after we moved, I think the city prohibited them for some reason.

And when we lived there, the mail was delivered through a slot in the front door. Now, there is a mailbox on the front porch.

After we left El Cerrito, we met up with my nephew and his girlfriend for brunch. Afterwards, they kindly drove us by my grandparents’ old house in Berkeley.

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It looked much as I remembered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our San Francisco Vacation: On Gates

In some cities, the houses have interesting doors.

There are a few of these in San Francisco, but it’s more about wrought iron gates.

Many feature sinuous, curvilinear designs.

 

Some are similar, but still different.

 

Some are fancy.

 

Some are more plain.

 

Some eschew curlicues.

 

In addition to gates, there are iron railings.

 

 

 

 

 

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