Thursday, January 18, 2018

Where's Fred When We Need Him?

Sadly, Fred Rogers left us fifteen years ago next month. Like my mother (and last year, my father) I sometimes think, how would they react to what's going on right now? Mr. Rogers would know what to do.
  • Last April, kottke.org posted a link to Twitch.TV that was streaming all 886 episodes of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. (I don't think the link is active anymore - but you can also watch episodes on Amazon Prime) I would be fine killing some time over there (if I wasn't living in the alternate reality of the West Wing when I can).
  • One month later, kottke again posted about Mr. Rogers, this time about the sweaters that he wore throughout the years.
  • Then in November it was announced there was to be a documentary film about Mr. Rogers, titled, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" The first trailer dropped this week.

"Love is at the root of everything
All learning, all parenting, all relationships
Love or the lack of it.
And what we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become."
- Fred Rogers

Monday, January 15, 2018

Chicken in Milk

I know what you're thinking.  How can that be good?  Roast Chicken is a popular Sunday dinner at the Launchpad.  I'm always looking for gravy with my chicken, this might do the trick.  From Jamie Oliver via BuzzFeed.

Chicken with Milk

Ingredients
  • 1.5 kg free-range chicken
  • olive oil
  • ½ a stick of cinnamon
  • 1 good handful of fresh sage
  • 2 lemons
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 565 ml milk

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
  2. Season the chicken generously all over with sea salt and black pepper, then fry in a snug-fitting pot with a little oil until golden, turning the chicken to get an even color all over.
  3. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the oil left in the pot. You'll be left with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan which will give you a lovely caramel flavor later on. 
  4. Put your chicken back in the pot with the cinnamon, sage leaves, lemon zest, unpeeled garlic cloves and milk.
  5. Cook in the hot oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until cooked through, basting with the cooking juices when you remember. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce which is absolutely fantastic.
  6. Pull the meat off the bones and divide it onto your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato, if you like.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

2018 New Year's Resolutions

It's been a while since I've made resolutions, possibly because I'm bad at keeping them.  But you, dear reader, can hold me to these.  I'm resolved to do these things this year.

  1. I resolve to play golf at least once a month, when conditions allow.  (To that end, Mrs. BA did give me a gift certificate to play at least one round, once the ground is no longer frozen solid.)
  2. I resolve to go to the movies at least once a month.  We do go to the movies as a family fairly often, but I would like to go to the movies (and maybe dinner) with Mrs. BA a little more regularly.  LBA has reached an age where he can be trusted to watch over SoBA and they can be left for a period of time, provided we are not all that far away.  I also gave Mrs. BA a movie gift card so that we can get started on this right away.  We have already seen "The Last Jedi" in January, but that is not to say that we couldn't go see something else (or even see "Last Jedi" a third time).
  3. I resolve to not run around like a crazy person every morning as we try to get ourselves out of the house to school and work.  Part of that is getting out of bed before 7:00am, part of it is going to bed at a reasonable hour (which I have been doing of late), and maybe some of it is one of these wonder products that I need to help me.
  4. I would like to lose some weight this year.  Yes, yes, I know we all say that, but I really should do it.  I'm 50 now, with a variety of ailments and aches that would be alleviated by dropping some pounds.  I bought a bicycle last year that has not seen a great deal of action and it should.  My FitBit tells me that I get between 6,000 and 7,000 steps a day - but I would like that number to be the 10,000 daily goal that is recommended.  My goal is 20 pounds.
  5. I would like to be a better father to LBA and SoBA.  I don't think that I'm doing an awful job - but having lost my father last year, I am reminded that it would be nice if my boys have more good memories than bad ones of me.  I need to be more patient (especially with SoBA, who seems to know exactly where my buttons are that cause me to lose my mind), yell less, and be more aware of what's going on with their lives (LBA is officially a teenager now and that brings a whole host of other issues with it).

Monday, January 8, 2018

Gateau au Yaourt (French Yogurt Cake)

LBA and SoBA enjoy yogurt almost every morning.  They, like their father, also appreciate the sweeter things - so perhaps this cake might make an appearance.  Mrs. BA is the baker at the launchpad, so she would have to be on it. From Food52 via BuzzFeed.

Gateau au Yaourt
Makes one 10-inch cake

Ingredients
  • 250 milliliters (1 cup) whole milk plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 160 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 scant tablespoon) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80 milliliters vegetable oil (slightly less than 4oz.)
  • 250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt 

Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350° F and line a round 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Fold the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, mixing only until all traces of flour disappear. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden and a tester comes out clean.
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Slow Cooker Pizza Dip

Growing up, when my mother would make spaghetti, once the sauce was done and simmering on the stove, I would often take a piece of white bread and put some sauce on it as a little "amuse-bouche" before dinner.  This recipe would make me feel a lot like I did back then.  Recipe from One Sweet Mess via BuzzFeed.

Happy New Year to all!  If you're in the vicinity of the Launchpad, you should stop by for our New Year's Day Open House!

Slow Cooker Pizza Dip
Yield: 8 servings
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients
Pizza Dip
  • 1 pound sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can pizza sauce
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Garlic Bread Dippers
  • 1 French baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4-1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Directions
Pizza Dip
  1. In the insert of your slow-cooker, add green peppers, onions, garlic, pizza sauce, and parmesan cheese. 
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and red pepper flakes. Brown the sausage until it’s cooked through, breaking it up with your spatula or wooden spoon as you go.
  3. Add the cooked sausage to the slow-cooker with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Cook on low for 4 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in mozzarella cheese right before serving.

Garlic Bread Dippers
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a sheet pan with the French baguette slices.
  3. In a small sauce pan over low heat, add the butter and garlic cloves. Cook until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Once the butter is melted, add the salt and Italian seasoning. Cook on low for two minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Using a pastry brush, coat the slices with the butter mixture. Top with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Crock Pot Lasagne

The Brave Astronaut Birthday fell on a Wednesday this year.  Don't fear, the clan appropriately feted me for my big day.  But on the day itself, I opted for lasagne, and because it was a Wednesday, I used this slow cooker option. From Tastes Better from Scratch via BuzzFeed (I substituted ricotta for cottage, because cottage cheese, is well, eew.)

Merry Christmas to all out there!

Slow Cooker Lasagna
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 5

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large onion , chopped *
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 29 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 8 oz. pkg regular lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat brown the ground beef, Italian sausage and onion.
  2. Add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, tomato sauce, sugar, and water. Stir and simmer 15-20 minutes. (You could make the sauce in advance!)
  3. Spread a fourth of the meat sauce into the bottom of your slow cooker. Arrange a third of the noodles over the sauce (break the noodles to fit, if necessary).
  4. Combine the mozzarella, ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese; spoon a third of the mixture over noodles. Repeat layers twice.
  5. Top with remaining meat sauce and sprinkle with extra mozzarella cheese, if desired.
  6. Cover and cook on low for about 4-5 hours or until noodles are tender.
Recipe Notes * You could substitute 1-2 Tbsp dried minced onion.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Brave Astronaut Turns 50!

Today marks the day that I mark my fiftieth spin around the sun.

Here's a list, numbered one to fifty with some facts about the Brave Astronaut.
  1. Time difference (1 hour) between home and Bermuda, where the Brave Astronaut and his siblings traveled earlier this year to scatter our parents ashes, in accordance with their final wishes.
  2. Number of Brave Astronaut children - LBA (who turns 13 on Christmas Day) and SoBA (who turns 10! on the 30th).
  3. How many siblings I have - I'm the youngest.
  4. Number of book ideas I have in my head: one novel, one historical fiction, and two non-fiction books - I have about 200 pages of the novel written and outlines for the other three.
  5. The number of permanent members on the United Nations Security Council that hold veto power (the US, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom).  In high school, I was a member of the Model UN Club and attended several mock UN meetings.
  6. The number of years between me and my next sibling.
  7.  My house number of my home growing up.
  8. The number of places I have lived: Syosset, NY, Albany, NY for school (2 different dorms at the University at Albany, Poughkeepsie, NY (first an apartment, then a house), and three places in Maryland (Bethesda, Rockville, and our current home in Cheverly).
  9. The number of cars I have owned (I think that's right): a 1982 Mercury Zephyr, a Nissan Sentra, a Mazda 323, a Mazda 626 hatchback, a Mazda Protege, my mother's old Ford Taurus, a Volvo sedan (bought on the Internet - don't do that), a Mazda 5, and the current Brave Astronaut Clan Car - a Kia Sorento
  10. The number of US Presidents under which I have lived - and I hope to make it to number 11 sooner rather than later.
  11. The number that remains when you subtract my mother's age when she passed (76) and my father's age (87) on his death earlier this year.
  12. Number of emails currently in my work email box
  13. Number of cards in a suit of playing cards (ace-king).  I enjoy playing cards, specifically a family game known as Liverpool, a contract rummy game.
  14. The number of years between me and my oldest sibling. 
  15. The number of rooms, including the side porch, foyer, and attic at the Launchpad.
  16. In 2018, the number of years that I will have been married to Mrs. BA
  17. The atomic number of chlorine, which is used to keep the Cheverly Pool clean.  This year, I was elected as President of the Board of the pool.
  18. The number of years that I have been organizing baseball outings to my national professional organization (the Society of American Archivists) - Since 1999, I have brought about 1500 archivists to 20 baseball games over the past 16 years (for three conferences there was no baseball to be had and for 4 of the meetings, we went to more than one game).  In 2018, JAL Tours will be putting together the 17th Annual / 22nd Game SAA Baseball event here in Washington DC.
  19. The number of national professional Annual Meetings (Society of American Archivists) I have attended since becoming a professional archivist.
  20. The number of either elected or appointed positions that I have held or currently hold - I have been active in my profession an well as in my community.
  21. The number of years I have been an archivist (the Rockefeller Archive Center for 6 years, the International Monetary Fund Archives for 4 years and my current position at the National Archives for the past 11)
  22. Approximate number of people in the United States that share my last name - and they are all related to me.
  23. How many years I have been playing golf.
  24. The number of people in my extended family (one mother-in-law, 8 related to Mrs. BA, 7 on my side, and 4 in the Brave Astronaut Clan).
  25. The estimated number of primary characters in The West Wing, one of my favorite television shows of all time. Jed Bartlet is my President!
  26. The number of people who have not yet replied to the invitation of the Brave Astronaut Clan to our New Year's Day Open House - if you're in the neighborhood, you should come by!
  27. The number of states in the United States that I have visited (from west to east: CA, AZ, CO, NM, TX, LA, WI, IL, OH, AL, ME, NH, VT, MA, NY, RI, CT, NJ, PA, DE, MD, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL)
  28. The age at which Billy Joel released The Stranger.  Billy Joel is my favorite artist - I have seen him in concert many times.
  29. The track from which the Chattanooga Choo Choo departs in the song by Glenn Miller.  Songs of the big band era were standard fare for me growing up at home.
  30. The minimum age requirement for US Senators.  I considered politics as a profession.
  31. The number of flavors sold by Baskin-Robbins.  I am a big fan of ice cream.
  32. How many years have passed since I graduated high school - 1985 - Go Braves!
  33. The number of reference requests that I have already responded to in this fiscal year, which began in October), it is my primary work responsibility.
  34. How old I was when I got married to Mrs. BA
  35. How old Mrs. BA was when she married me (until yesterday we were in that point in time when I was two years younger than Mrs. BA - her birthday is in August and we were married in May)
  36. The number of strikes one would have to bowl to achieve three perfect games (300-300-300).  When I bowled regularly, my average was about 145.
  37. The approximate number of different golf courses I have played on since I began playing golf.
  38. The number of slots in a standard roulette wheel.  I am serving again as the co-chair for my son's school's Casino Night fundraising night, in February.  You should come!
  39. Number of active members in our local church's men's club, for which I currently serve as President.
  40. The number of hours in a standard work week - I work full time.
  41. The title of a song by Dave Matthews, one of Mrs. BA's most favorite bands.  When we were first dating, I helped get her really good seats to a Dave Matthews concert at the Meadowlands
  42. Number of MARAC Meetings that I have attended since becoming a professional archivist
  43. My lowest golf score for nine holes.  Now that I'm 50, I think I should play more golf.  I had long ago set a goal of playing consistently in the 90s for 18 holes by the time I was 50.
  44. The number of characters in the novel that I have been working on, on and off, for the past 10 years or so.
  45. Number of emails currently in my personal email box
  46. The number for the next President.  And that individual cannot get here soon enough.
  47. The P-47 Thunderbolt was a World War II fighter plane.  My father was constantly building models of planes, ships, figures - although he was fond of tanks, primarily.
  48. The number of seats available in the chapel where Mrs. BA and I got married.  Naturally we invited about 85 people.  Seventy showed up.
  49. The uniform number of Ron Guidry, longtime New York Yankees pitcher.  I have loved baseball for years, played a little, watched a lot, and coached both LBA and SoBA's teams.
  50. Slang for the police - something I think I can say I've never run afoul of, except for speeding tickets and the occasional camera tickets.