Monday, August 18, 2014

Watermelon Margaritas

Last week was the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists.  And there may have been some drinking.  This week, LBA and SoBA and at Camp BA's Sister and Camp Nana, respectively.  There may be more drinking.  Perhaps one of these lovely summer coolers.  From Sugar and Charm

Refreshing Watermelon Margarita
  • 3 ounces fresh watermelon juice 
  • Juice of 1.5 limes 
  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed orange juice 
  • 2 ounces tequila 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or agave 

Add all of the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain over a glass with ice.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's A Beautiful Night for Baseball!

Tonight is the annual outing where I invite 200 of my closest archival friends to a baseball game during the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists.  With the SAA Annual Meeting here in Washington, DC this year, that means the Washington Nationals.  Tonight, the Nats will take on the Pittsburgh Pirates (which was the team that we saw the first time I organized this outing, lo these many years ago).

Here's a post that came out on BuzzFeed back at the beginning of the baseball season on why "Baseball is the Best Sport for Anxious Fans." (click the link to see the associated pictures with the text below)

We all know the horror of watching your closing pitcher blow a lead. But for the overall anxious among us, baseball provides invaluable respite.

  1. There are 162 games in a season. Day One! So filled with hope! With so many games on the schedule, losses are easier to stomach than in other sports… 
  2. Each game is roughly three hours long. So over the course of a season, you invest an unspeakable amount of time and nervous energy into baseball that might otherwise be pent up in anxiety.
  3. Baseball stadiums are significantly less stressful than arenas for other sports. Your team is down by 5 runs? Shrug it off, go buy yourself a $25 hot dog. So get out there, the sun’s good for you. Just don’t forget sunblock.
  4. The pace of the game is rarely stressful due to its slow pace. We all know those strikeout, fly out, ground out innings. Which gives you time to get to know your favorite players and their quirky personalities.
  5. However, something exciting could happen at any moment, which helps keeps your focus on the game and not on external stressors. Honestly, whose day wouldn’t be made better by a Bartolo Colon home run? 
  6. Following the game closely could actually stimulate your brain in a calming way.
  7. Diving deep into the world of complicated statistics can be tranquilizing for the more obsessive of us. 
  8. Nostalgia, considered a reprieve from emotional distress, goes hand in hand with baseball. Much has been written about the traditional and ritualistic nature of the game. Richard Skolnik says “Baseball memories are said to be memories of America’s youth, and to represent rich receptacles of traditions and values as meaningful as the greater socio-cultural context in which the game is played.”
  9. Even after the stressful end of the season, you have a long offseason to recover.
  10. Yet nothing puts a smile on your face like waking up and realizing pitchers and catchers are set to report that day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

International Left-Handers Day! Celebrate with me!

Today is known as International Left Handers Day (and yes it's also the day after Mrs. BA's birthday).  It's also the middle of "SAA Week" here in Washington DC, the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists is underway.

The Brave Astronaut is left handed, and despite my urgings, thought I was going to get SoBA to be a lefty, but that doesn't look like it will come to pass.  But here's a list of 59 others that "if the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, then they (we) are in their right minds!"
  1. Robert De Niro - "are you talking to me?"
  2. Angelina Jolie
  3. Prince William
  4. Robert Redford
  5. Sarah Jessica Parker
  6. Barack Obama - the last several presidents have been left handed.
  7. Keanu Reeves
  8. Jerry Seinfeld
  9. Nicole Kidman
  10. Julia Roberts
  11. Bill Clinton - see?
  12. Lady Gaga
  13. Seth Rogan
  14. Mary-Kate Olsen
  15. Owen Wilson
  16. Bruce Willis
  17. Lisa Kudrow
  18. Morgan Freeman
  19. Diane Keaton
  20. Mark Wahlberg
  21. Tom Cruise
  22. Tim Allen
  23. Matthew Broderick - so if both he and Sarah are lefties, what about their kids?
  24. Justin Bieber
  25. Oprah Winfrey
  26. John Slattery
  27. Ben Stiller
  28. Emma Thompson
  29. Paul McCartney
  30. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  31. Jay Leno
  32. Demi Moore - sigh.
  33. Prince Charles - sure there's a father-one, see #3
  34. Celine Dion
  35. Bill Gates
  36. Martina McBride
  37. Drew Carey - there's a lot of funny on this list.  I'm pretty funny.
  38. Matt Lauer
  39. Whoopi Goldberg
  40. Richard Simmons
  41. Jon Stewart
  42. Goldie Hawn
  43. Ron Perlman - The Beast!
  44. Pierce Brosnan
  45. Teri Hatcher
  46. Kevin Richardson
  47. Dan Aykroyd
  48. David Bowie 
  49. Spike Lee
  50. January Jones - so should Roger and Betty have a thing?
  51. Eminem
  52. Ashley Tisdale
  53. Dennis Quaid
  54. Ed O'Neill
  55. A.J. McLean
  56. Niall Horan
  57. Greg Kinnear
  58. David Letterman
  59. Jim Carrey

Monday, August 11, 2014

Brie and Butter Grits with Honey and Raspberry Compote

Doesn't the title of this post make you weep with joy?  I get a little misty eyed.  I might need to take several moments if this gets prepared in the Launchpad Kitchen.  From Food 52

Brie and Butter Grits
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1 pinch salt 
  • 1/2 cup grits or polenta 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 2 tablespoons Brie cheese 
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons honey 
Raspberry Compote
  • 1/3 cup fresh or frozen raspberries 
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds

  1. In a medium pot, bring the water, milk and salt to a boil. Add the grits and lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally. After 2 minutes, add the butter, the Brie, and 2 tablespoons of the honey. Taste to adjust the sweetness according to your preference. Simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes and serve in a bowl.
  2. For the raspberry compote, simply add the raspberries and the sugar to a small pot and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Top the grits with the slivered almonds, raspberries, and add a bit more honey or brown sugar if desired. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Nixon Resigns!

Forty years ago, the words above are what was on the headlines of most of the newspapers of the day.  Having announced his resignation the day before, the 37th President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, left the presidency - becoming the only man to resign the presidency.  Nixon was facing almost certain impeachment over the Watergate crisis any may have very well been removed from office after a lengthy trial.

I remember very clearly - the Brave Astronaut family was on vacation at the beach when my parents called me in to watch the television - telling me to watch, this was something I would likely never see happen again.  Forty years later, it hasn't.

Nixon of course went on to "rehabilitate" himself and became an elder statesman before his death in 1994.  The pardon he received from his successor, Gerald R. Ford, certainly helped, too - although Ford took a lot of heat for pardoning Nixon.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Campfire Potatoes

Mrs. BA likes the summer - she likes flank steak.  She likes to have baked potatoes with her flank steak.  I could probably sell her on these. From Epicurious.

Campfire Potatoes
Bon App├ętit | August 2009
by Maria Helm Sinskey

Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 16 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter), halved 
  • 3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 4 unpeeled large garlic cloves, smashed 
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves 
Preparation
Place potatoes in medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons coarse salt. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Return to saucepan. Add remaining ingredients to potatoes; toss to coat. Cool.

Arrange four 12-inch squares aluminum foil on work surface. Divide potato mixture among foil squares and place 1 garlic clove atop potatoes on each square. Crimp to seal. Store packets at room temperature up to 2 hours or in refrigerator up to 2 days.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place potato packets on grill and cook until heated through and sizzling, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. Transfer packets to serving plate and pierce foil with grill fork to release steam. Open packets carefully (hot steam will be released).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars

I am a sucker for good strawberry-rhubarb items.  And the Smitten Kitchen has not steered me wrong.  Now I just need to get Mrs. BA to make these for me.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp Bars
Adapted from One Bowl Baking
I’m starting to think that these bars might be magic. First, they taste like dessert, not health food, thank goodness. But, they just happen to be pretty low in sugar, butter and use a chock-ton of oats. You could replace the butter with coconut oil to make these dairy-free, and as there’s no egg in it, they’d also then be vegan. You could use white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour to make them even more wholesome, and although I didn’t audition it, I suspect a gluten-free baking flour mix would work here too, because the plain flour isn’t a majority ingredient. You could eat them warm with a scoop of ice cream or cold for breakfast with a dollop of plain yogurt. And you can make them with whatever is in season; the original recipe calls for thinly sliced apples and adds cinnamon to the crumb mixture but too impatient for spring/summer, I used strawberries and rhubarb. Oh, and did I mention you make the whole recipe in your baking pan so it literally could not be faster? Seriously, what are you waiting for?

* Updated with two changes to reduce softness: I did a bunch of retesting and have come to the following conclusions: the bars are more crisp and cookie-like (as photographed here, and sadly, not what everyone was getting, based on comments) without the heaped 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and with an additional 1/4 cup (and even up to 2 tablespoons more, yes, really) flour. These amounts are now reflected below. They’re tender when they come out of the oven but once chilled in the fridge, become cookie-like in their crisp base; I recommend keeping them in the fridge. I’m so sorry if any of you were disappointed in these bars; I hope you’ll find the recipe now to be as wonderful as promised. 

Yield: 16 small bars, or 8 large ones;
Recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9×13-inch baking pan, where they will come out a little thicker
  • 1 cup (80 grams) rolled oats 
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) plus up to 2 tablespoons (15 grams) extra all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup (95 grams) light brown sugar 
  • Heaped 1/4 teaspoon table salt 
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional, but helps firm up the filling) 
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar, divided 
  • 1 cup (125 grams) small-diced rhubarb (from about 1 1/2 medium stalks) 
  • 1 cup (155 grams) small-diced strawberries 
  • Powdered sugar, for decoration, if desired
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. For easy removal, line bottom and two sides of 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. No need to bother (and no greasing needed) if you plan to serve them right in the pan, as I did.

Place oats, 3/4 cup flour, brown sugar and salt in bottom of baking pan and mix. Pour melted butter over, and stir until clumps form. If the clumps feel soft or look overly damp, add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Set aside 1/2 cup of the crumble mixture. Press the rest of the crumb mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Spread half the fruit over the crust. Sprinkle it evenly with cornstarch, then lemon juice, and 1/2 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Spread remaining fruit over this, and top with second 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Scatter reserved crumbs over fruit and bake bars for 30 to 40 minutes (firmer fruits will take longer), until fruit is bubbly and crisp portion is golden and smells toasty and amazing.

Let cool in pan; I do this in the fridge, where they become crisp once chilled (less so at room temperature). Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Store leftovers in fridge.