Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Utah State Fair

This year's butter sculpture was a version of American Gothic. When I go to the fair it is the first thing I want to see. The whimsy of the idea of sculpting out of butter is just charming to me. I did like the rockstar cows better. If you check out the link, it is the story behind our local butter sculptor. 

 Since my sister Meesha moved back to Utah, we decided that we needed to go play and do the fun things our husbands and kids thought were lame. The State fair was our first outing. My goal was to get some cool pictures more than anything else, but I decided that I need to take a class or something. I am not willing (yet) to put in the money to buy a good camera, so all I do is cell phone photography, and I just don't know what I am doing wrong. Everything comes out blurry and dull. I try to sharpen and brighten after the fact, but that just makes everything look artificial. Oh well. Here is the best that I got below.

 Fancy feets.
 Piggy mama and babies.

 This was the petting tent. If you don't think about these animals being harvested for food it is a lot more fun... :)
 On the spot spinning lesson.

 Baby cowses.

 and baby ducks!
 I love listening to the judges. They talk about the lines they are looking for on the animal,size, and proportion. It reminds me a lot of the bodybuilding competition I was in. Same concept I suppose.

 These goats cracked me up. They were making the wrong sound! They sounded like Ma in Babe.
 Look at this fancy animal! So glossy and perfect I had to snap a picture. then I noticed the guy leading was matching. Do you think that was on purpose?

 Here is where they make them perfect for judging. They were shaving, and spray painting, combing, trimming and polishing. Fascinating. ALSO like the bodybuilding competition!

 It is tradition to be a little bit naughty at the fair right? This was pineapple ice cream in a float with passionfruit juice. 8.50!(overpricing is also a fair tradition) but it was delectable.
 We took it in with us to the free circus that was part of admission. We only stayed for the trick dogs and the trapeze artist.
 She was amazing though! Once she was done, a clown came out, and the float was gone, so we left. We aren't big circus people. No exotic animals in this one either as far as we could tell. That was a relief. The ethics worry me anymore.

 We finished up at the flower exhibits, which made me want to plant dahlias even more. I can't believe the size of these guys. Maybe Meesh and I will hit Gardner village next!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Neighborhood Labor day breakfast, and Century bike ride.

 Just so everyone knows, I have the coolest neighborhood ever. My neighbors hosted a big Labor day breakfast this week. They cooked up a bunch of hash-browns and pancakes, and everyone else brought a dish to share. Their tables and chairs kind of fell through at the last minute, so we were able to help a bit with that, bringing our tables, and some of the other families chipped in tables and chairs too. 


It was such a nice time with everyone talking together, and the kids playing. Just idyllic.

 Brenda and I were planning on doing the Wonder Woman century race this year (a note on this --it is really a non-competitive ride, but the course is marked with aid stations, you have race numbers, and there is a start and finish --I time myself for sure! So to help people to understand what it is like, I often call these races). Anyway, about a week and a half out, they put out a 5.00 coupon on registration and they sold out right away. Suddenly we were looking at racing in about a week on the Goldilocks course.

 Brenda was going for a slightly shorter distance, so last weekend she and I started out together, but she turned around at the 30 mile mark (to get in a 60 mile training ride) and I kept going on my own. 
 I saw some beautiful lonely country out west, until I hit the 40 mile mark on my Garmin and turned around towards home. I was so tired and hot at mile 70, I laid down for a few minutes on a shady sidewalk in Spanish Fork before finishing up the last 10 miles. I was about out of water. That makes things worse.

 But yesterday morning I was raring to go. The air quality had worried me all week. We have had a number of fires in the area, and it smelled like smoke everywhere. So hazy, and they were recommending not to exert yourself outside. It was a personal miracle for me when my little selfish prayers were answered and we got rain the day before the race, clearing out the air in the whole valley. Not that I haven't been praying like crazy for the hurricane victims, and those tormented with fires out west, not to mention the Mexican earthquake people! So many people suffering I just felt guilty to ask for my little thing. I know Heavenly Father doesn't mind though. He still loves me and my little concerns.
 This is a well set up race. I feel like they made a lot of progress from their first time setting it up in Provo last year. A lot smoother. I was bugged at the misplaced signs near the end of the course saying "2 more miles" and "1 more mile" --those signs were 1 .75 miles apart, and the last mile was a mile and a half long! When you are running on the fumes of willpower, it is hard to be tricked like that at the end of 100 miles plus!

But I did finish. Yay! The weather was just perfect. Overcast most of the time, not too hot, sprinkles on me once or twice, but just enough to be refreshing. I couldn't have custom ordered better weather.

My sweet husband was such a support this year. He replaced the clips on my shoes for me, reset my bike computer (I thought it was dead and was going to toss it!), and went over my tires with a fine tooth comb to pull out latent spines so I didn't get a flat on the ride. He loaded my bike up for me the night before, and unloaded it at the end of the ride. He even drove the truck home and let me ride home with my dad. Sometimes we forget that with every achievement, there is probably somebody else sacrificing to help make it happen. I am grateful.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Conserva di melanzane

 I tried giving them away. I tried making them for dinner as often as I could, but still, STILL I had a bonanza of eggplant this year. 
 My Italian mama friend Silvana told me they make a conserve of these guys. I read about it a little online, but ended up kind of twisting her arm to come over and help me to use her recipes. Now a conserve, to us, sounds like jam. But these are more like marinated artichoke hearts. You kind of pickle them in vinegar, and then layer them in jars with extra virgin olive oil and spices. 

We did two different recipes. The first one, we partially peeled and sliced the eggplant, and then salted the slices well and put them in the fridge overnight to shed water. 

The second one we boiled the slices quickly in white wine vinegar (the only kind Silvana likes), salted them a bit,

 and then pressed them with a weight (we used a heavy mug full of water).
 Everything went in the fridge overnight.
 The next day we rinsed off the salt for the first set of slices, and squeezed them by hand. They then got a quick boiling vinegar bath.

 Then we got realistic and used more weights. We pressed the vinegar ones out further too. 

 Using rocks from my yard at the end to press.
 One set of slices we layered with thin slices of garlic cloves, oregano, and red pepper flakes,
 and of course the oil! The second set we layered with fresh basil and mint leaves (just a touch of mint), the garlic slices, oil, and finished off with a tiny bit of red pepper. Because as Silvana says "Mama mia!" we probably made the first few jars too hot with so much red pepper. The flakes were from my cayenne plant in the garden last summer, and I think this pepper was hotter than she was used to using.
We had to let them sit a while to settle, then topped with one more layer of oil, sterilized the lids, and closed them up. She tells me they are best after a few weeks. I am keeping them in the fridge just in case. In the food safety classes I took for catering they kept warning us of onions and garlic under oil, so I am playing it safe. I just hope I can keep from scarfing them all down before they are ready!