Monday, November 28, 2011

Eggs, Not Just for Breakfast, Except When They Are

Breakfast for Dinner at the launchpad moved recently (to accommodate a friend's school schedule) to Tuesdays. While pancakes are the most common item served, we have had waffles and french toast in the rotation recently. There is talk of introducing some egg based products into the schedule as well (we will often have quiche the next day if there is leftover bacon).

Perhaps omelettes? Funny story . . . my sister and I were cleaning out my parent's house several years ago, and we disposed of an omelet pan that had clearly seen better days (and probably not seen the light of day in several years). But we got caught(? !) and had to try and replace it. Thanks eBay. Maybe we could have just downloaded this video instead.

If we are searching for additional egg products, I might try these - because everything is better with bacon. I "transcribed" the recipe from the video (linked above).

Bacon-Wrapped Eggs
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1lb. bacon
  • shredded cheese (cheddar probably works best here)
  • chopped fresh herbs (chive, dill, thyme, your choices)
Cook the bacon on medium heat until browned but not crisp. Set aside to drain and cool. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin or ramekins with bacon slices. You may spray the tins / ramekins with non-stick spray. Cover bottoms with chunks of bacon. Crack one egg into each bacon cup. Season with salt and pepper. Top with cheese and herbs. Bake until set (approximately 15 minutes).

Of course, there used to be those times when we would go out for breakfast. But now all I want to do in the morning is sleep.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving #2 - A Potato Alternative

As mentioned here with last week's recipe, the Brave Astronaut clan will be on the road for Thanksgiving - making a short (and hopefully quick) trip to Wilmington, DE to share Thanksgiving with Mrs. BA's family. LBA is off from school on Wednesday and Friday and SoBA is off on Friday. I am taking Wednesday off and Mrs. BA is going to spend the night on Thursday with her sister and come home with the boys on Friday. I'm going to work. There is some part of me that may be interested in some of the Black Friday deals - but my background in retail may keep me away from the stores - no matter how good the deal.

There has been little discussion about the menu for Thursday, although I am certain there will be turkey. I posted my vegetable choice last Monday and I am a big fan of the mashed (Mrs. BA believes they are really, whipped) potatoes. Although this recipe certainly has merit and could make a good alternative.

(I will say that I was not overly impressed with the recipes that I stumbled across leading up to the All-American Holiday. Perhaps the Christmas lineup will be better.)

The remaining question is how many desserts will there be? And will I be able to drive home by myself and still reach the steering wheel?

Roasted Potatoes with Bacon, Cheese, and Parsley
Gourmet | November 2007
by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez
You've encountered a million potato-bacon-cheese combos in your lifetime, but in retrospect they all seem to be rehearsals for this one, a classic of Miraglia Eriquez's Calabrian grandmother Mary Pacella, who immigrated to Brooklyn in 1934. Crispness abounds, from the bacon to the slight crust on the roasted potatoes, yielding to creamy, very potatoey interiors.
Yield: Makes 8 (side dish) servings
Active Time: 30 min
Total Time: 1 1/2 hr

  • 3 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 inches in diameter)
  • 6 ounces bacon (about 6 slices), halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in lowest position.

Generously cover potatoes with cold water in a 4-quart pot and add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a small sharp knife, about 12 minutes. Drain. Cool potatoes to warm, then peel and cut in half crosswise.

Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until cooked through but still flexible. Drain on paper towels, reserving fat in skillet.

Brush bottom of a 15- by 10-inch shallow baking pan with oil and half of reserved bacon fat. Sprinkle potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and arrange, cut sides down, in baking pan. Bake until undersides are golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Turn potatoes over, then sprinkle with cheese, bacon, and garlic and drizzle with remaining bacon fat (if fat congeals, reheat briefly over medium heat). Bake until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

Cooks' notes:
  • Potatoes can be boiled and peeled 1 day ahead and chilled in an airtight container.
  • Potatoes, without cheese, bacon, garlic, and bacon fat, can be baked 6 hours ahead and kept, loosely covered, at room temperature. Turn potatoes over and proceed with recipe, baking a little longer. If baking at same time as stuffing, leave oven temperature at 425°F.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where Am I?

Coming soon - a new series to Order from Chaos! Any ideas on what it is?

I have had a book idea in my head for some time - it's a book about the layout of the streets of DC and how the state avenues were placed. In my spare time, I might actually get it done some day. I even have the title ready, "Where Alaska meets Hawaii." Have a look at this video to see an intrepid DC resident have a ride around all of the state avenues. Then you can have a look at this mesmerizing video of an individual's cross country trip by car over the course of 7 days (don't worry, the video's not that long).

By the way, with Christmas a little more than a month away, if you are looking for ideas for the Brave Astronaut that you love, this map is pretty cool.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Presidential Beer

As most of you know, most Fridays is Pizza / Movie night at the launchpad. And what good is pizza if you don't have a nice cold beer. Some time ago, I spotted this article in the Washington Post Food Section. While it certainly evokes memories of the President's "Beer Summit," Presidents and Beer have a long history together.

Evidently Thomas Jefferson used to make beer at Monticello. The recipe has been unearthed and curators / brewmasters at Monticello are now making Monticello Reserve Ale for sale. For an archivist / historian, it should be mandatory drinking.

Keeping in the Thomas Jefferson vein, today marks the 72nd anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial. Faithful readers may recall the memorial holds a special place in the hearts of the Brave Astronaut and Mrs. Brave Astronaut, as it is where I asked her to marry me. Of course, I remember that night - we spotted a sign that listed a number of things the National Park Service prohibited at the memorial (at that time, dancing was not listed). Since proposing marriage was not on the list, down on one knee I went.

And so here we are, almost ten years later, still happily married and parents to two great boys. Love you Mrs. BA!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipe #1 - Brussel Sprouts

I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that next week is Thanksgiving. That only means that Christmas is right around the corner as well. Last year the Brave Astronaut clan had a beach Thanksgiving, celebrating at our friend's condo, where we had turkey and all the fixings for just the four of us. It was a lot of fun.

This year, we will be traveling to Mrs. BA's sister's house in Wilmington, DE for the day. I have long given up on traveling to NY for Thanksgiving. The traffic has become unbearable and not worth the stress it causes. I am contemplating asking my father to see if he is interested in coming to the launchpad for Christmas - as we have no plans to travel north (faithful readers may recall last year's trip to NY that took two days to complete).

Traveling to someone else's house for Thanksgiving means I have less control over the menu. Growing up, there was always more dessert to look forward to after the meal and the possibility of the 9:00pm turkey sandwich was available - not so, unless we liberate some leftovers. Pearled onions were always on the table as my mother made them (even if they were frozen from a box) because her mother would have wanted them. I made them several years as well and have actually developed a taste for them.

As to vegetables, I wouldn't mind seeing these on the table this year. I know that many hate them, but they are one of my most favorite vegetables.

Annie Lau's Garlic Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts
Epicurious | October 2011
by Molly O'Neill
One Big Table
San Jose, California
Annie Lau is ethnically Chinese, born in Malaysia. Her husband is ethnically Chinese, and born in Hawaii. The couple moved to San Jose in the late 1990s and their kitchen is a laboratory where their regional and ethnic influences meet local ingredients. Neither had seen to Brussels sprouts before moving to California, but after numerous attempts, they devised a recipe to bring out the nutty sweetness in the little cabbages. The final recipe, Ms. Lau says, "is an experiment in laziness. The less you do, the better." Try to pick similar size sprouts.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, outer leaves trimmed, then halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and light brown. Add the Brussels sprouts and turn heat to medium-high. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Do not disturb for about a minute, so the edges caramelize, then toss. Leave for another minute or more. If the sprouts have not picked up enough golden color toss again. The more caramelization (browning) you get, the better the flavor (high heat is key!). Be careful not to overcook, though, as that releases that nasty sulfur odor that puts people off Brussels sprouts.

3. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Source Information
Reprinted with permission from One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking by Molly O'Neill, (C) 2010 Simon & Schuster

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Cars

We recently became a one-car family. The car that I bought a few years ago, a 1998 Volvo, finally got to the point where the amount of money it required to fix (and make it road worthy) was more than we were willing to spend. We are managing (Mrs. BA and SoBA are bearing the brunt of it - as they are on Metro everyday now - and it makes them both a little motion sick).

We may look at getting a new car sometime next year, but right now it is pretty nice to not have a car payment each month. There are certainly no lack of resources from which I can conduct research on car buying. There are of course unlimited options as to what kind of car we might get for our second car.

Unfortunately, I cannot have my first car again. It was a 1982 Mercury Zephyr. It was yellow and looked like a cab. I beat the hell out of that car. When it came time to get a new car, the transmission had failed to the point where the car would no longer go in reverse. Parking became a real problem. The Washington Post reported back in May that the Ford Motor Company has decided to shutter the Mercury brand.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Where will you be when the Revolution Comes?

Today is Friday November 11. It is Veteran's Day in the United States. A day to remember all those who have served our nation.

As I have indicated here before, I had a previous career as a Social Studies teacher, teaching American History. I was also an American History major in college. Now, much has been made this year to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the US Civil War, but let us not forget the first real war that made a difference for Americans, the Revolutionary War.

Here's a list of myths regarding the American Revolution. There might be a quiz later. There is more information at the link (from Smithsonian Magazine).
  1. Great Britain Did Not Know What It Was Getting Into - the British Government was prepared to counter the colonies actions with military force as early as January 1774, when word of the Boston Tea Party reached London. A secondary question was also considered: Could Britain win such a war? The passage of the Coercive Acts — or Intolerable Acts, as Americans called them sought to punish the colony of Massachusetts for the Tea Party. Parliament also installed Gen. Thomas Gage, commander of the British Army in America, as governor of the colony. This was a huge miscalculation. In September 1774, colonists convened the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia and planned to embargo British commerce until all British taxes and the Coercive Acts were repealed. The British government (under Prime Minister Lord North) still believed the Americans would pose little challenge in the event of war. Government leaders and King George decided that backing down meant losing the colonies.
  2. Americans Of All Stripes Took Up Arms Out Of Patriotism - While the term “Spirit of ‘76” referred to the colonists’ patriotic zeal it is not entirely true. Soon enough the colonists discovered how difficult and dangerous military service could be and enthusiasm waned. It required an Act of Congress in 1777 that mandated men who enlisted must sign on for three years or the duration of the conflict, whichever came first.
  3. Continental Soldiers Were Always Ragged And Hungry - Accounts of shoeless continental army soldiers leaving bloody footprints in the snow or going hungry in a land of abundance are all too accurate. The Army’s supply system, imperfect at best, at times broke down altogether; the result was misery and want. But it, too, was not altogether accurate. American forces received shipments of heavy clothing arrived from France at the beginning of the winter in 1779. Conditions faced by the troops varied widely.
  4. The Militia Was Useless - America's first settlers adopted the British militia system, which required all able-bodied men between 16 and 60 to bear arms. Some 100,000 men served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. However, some Americans emerged from the war convinced that the militia had been largely ineffective. Militiamen were older, on average, than the Continental soldiers and received only perfunctory training; few had experienced combat. This was demonstrated at Camden, South Carolina, in August 1780, when militiamen panicked in the face of advancing redcoats. Throwing down their weapons and running for safety, they were responsible for one of the worst defeats of the war. However, in 1775, militiamen had fought with surpassing bravery along the Concord Road and at Bunker Hill. Nearly 40 percent of soldiers serving under Washington in his crucial Christmas night victory at Trenton in 1776 were militiamen. In New York state, half the American force in the vital Saratoga campaign of 1777 consisted of militiamen. The militia had its shortcomings, to be sure, but America could not have won the war without it.
  5. Saratoga Was The War’s Turning Point - On October 17, 1777, British Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered 5,895 men to American forces outside Saratoga, New York. It was a loss of nearly one-quarter of those serving under the British flag in America in 1777. It resulted in persuading France to form a military alliance with the United States. But Saratoga was not the turning point of the war. There are four other key moments during the several years the Revolution was fought that can be identified. First was the combined effect of victories in the fighting at Concord in April 1775 and later at Bunker Hill near Boston. After the bitter defeat of Washington at Long Island, the second turning point came with Washington's sneak attack at Trenton in late December 1776, he achieved a great victory, destroying a Hessian force of nearly 1,000 men; a week later, on January 3, he defeated a British force at Princeton, New Jersey. The third event did not take place on a battlefield, when Congress abandoned one-year enlistments and transformed the Continental Army into a standing army, made up of regulars who volunteered—or were conscripted—for long-term service. Finally, the campaign that unfolded in the South during 1780 and 1781 marks the final turning point of the conflict. Unable to quell the rebellion in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, the British turned their attention in 1778 to the South, hoping to retake Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Although the British enjoyed several early successes, the colonists were not broken. In April 1781, unable to crush the insurgency in the Carolinas, Lord Cornwallis took his army into Virginia, where he hoped to sever supply routes linking the upper and lower South, but ultimately led to his surrender to Washington at Yorktown.
  6. General Washington Was A Brilliant Tactician And Strategist - It is a generally accepted idea that the American Revolution could not have been won without the leadership of George Washington. In fact, Washington’s missteps revealed failings as a strategist. In August 1776, the Continental Army was routed in its first test on Long Island in part because Washington failed to properly reconnoiter and he attempted to defend too large an area for the size of his army. In the fall of 1777, when Gen. William Howe invaded Pennsylvania, Washington committed his entire army in an attempt to prevent the loss of Philadelphia. During the Battle of Brandywine, in September, he once again froze with indecision. Later, Washington was painfully slow to grasp the significance of the war in the Southern states. For the most part, he committed troops to that theater only when Congress ordered him to do so. Washington also failed to see the potential of a campaign against the British in Virginia in 1780 and 1781, prompting Comte de Rochambeau, commander of the French Army in America, to write despairingly that the American general “did not conceive the affair of the south to be such urgency.” Indeed, Rochambeau, who took action without Washington’s knowledge, conceived the Virginia campaign that resulted in the war’s decisive encounter, the siege of Yorktown in the autumn of 1781.
  7. Great Britain Could Never Have Won The War - Once the revolutionary war was lost, some in Britain argued that it had been unwinnable. In reality, Britain might well have won the war. The battle for New York in 1776 gave England an excellent opportunity for a decisive victory, but General Howe let Washington and his army slip away. Britain still might have prevailed in 1777, when London ordered Howe to advance up the Hudson River and rendezvous at Albany with General Burgoyne, who was to invade New York from Canada. Though the operation offered the prospect of decisive victory, Howe scuttled it. Believing that Burgoyne needed no assistance and obsessed by a desire to capture Philadelphia—home of the Continental Congress—Howe opted to move against Pennsylvania instead. He took Philadelphia, but he accomplished little by his action. Meanwhile, Burgoyne suffered total defeat at Saratoga. After 1777, both Washington and John Adams assumed that unless the United States and France scored a decisive victory in 1781, the outcome of the war would be determined at a conference of Europe’s great powers. It was only by Cornwallis’ stunning defeat at Yorktown in October that cost Britain everything but Canada.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Presidential Papers (and Libraries)

Today is Election Day. In one year, Americans will head to the polls to either reward or punish President Obama with a second term. It should be an interesting year, if not very, very long.

As I think I have said here before, I work for the federal government in an agency that among many other things, oversees the presidential libraries for all of the presidents from the latter half of the 20th Century. Presidential libraries and the papers that fill them became federal records in part to the 32nd President of the United States (and Honorary Archivist-in-Chief), Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Prior to that point, US Presidents had the option of taking their stuff and doing with it what they wanted.

Thomas Jefferson, our third president, was rightfully concerned with this lack of organization regarding presidential papers. In 1801, he wrote a letter about the "lack of a safe deposit" for his papers. The letter exists in the collection of the National Archives, in the records of the Department of State.

Many of the papers of the early presidents have been lost to history. There are some collections here and there, but you are not likely to find a great deal of material on Millard Fillmore or Martin Van Buren. The Library of Congress was the early beneficiary of no presidential library system and many presidential papers collections may be found there.

Below is a list of the Presidents and where the majority of their papers reside (the link is to the Miller Center, which also provides a list of locations of presidential papers). At the end of the list is the aforementioned Presidential Libraries, part of the National Archives. There is already discussion of where the Barack Obama Presidential Library will be. Unfortunately, it's looking like Illinois and not Hawaii (that would have been a sweet job!). And, for that matter, if things don't start looking up, that library is going to be needed sooner, rather than later.
  1. George Washington - at the University of Virginia
  2. John Adams - at the Massachusetts Historical Society
  3. Thomas Jefferson - a prolific writer, his papers are everywhere, here's about 27,000 of them at the Library of Congress
  4. James Madison - also at the Library of Congress
  5. James Monroe - at the College of William and Mary
  6. John Quincy Adams - here's an example of how widely scattered presidential papers can be - but as with his father, the bulk are at the Massachusetts Historical Society
  7. Andrew Jackson - at the University of Tennessee
  8. Martin Van Buren - another extensive list, with the bulk at the Library of Congress
  9. William Henry Harrison - the majority of Harrison's papers were destroyed by fire in 1858, but there is a microfilm collection at the Library of Congress.
  10. John Tyler - most of Tyler's belongings (and papers) were destroyed during the Civil War, what remains of his papers is at the Library of Congress.
  11. James K. Polk - many places, but mostly at the Library of Congress.
  12. Zachary Taylor - Library of Congress
  13. Franklin Pierce - the Library of Congress (shocking), but also material at the New Hampshire Historical Society.
  14. Millard Fillmore - the man from Western New York brought his stuff back to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Archives.
  15. James Buchanan - the only President from Pennsylvania, the majority of Buchanan's papers are held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
  16. Abraham Lincoln - most likely the most written about President, there are Lincoln Papers everywhere. But he also has a Presidential Library and Museum (but it's not part of the Presidential Library system).
  17. Andrew Johnson - the University of Tennessee undertook a project to centralize Johnson's papers.
  18. Ulysses Grant - though I am really confused by this, the Ulysses Grant Papers are held at Mississippi State University. People know that's in the South, right?
  19. Rutherford B. Hayes - you'll note I didn't dis President Hayes above - one of the only 19th Century Presidents to have his own presidential library.
  20. James Garfield - when you get killed in office, a lot of people tend to write about you and go looking for your stuff. Garfield papers are widely scattered (as this list shows) and the bulk of the material are at the Library of Congress.
  21. Chester Arthur - there is a very limited collection of Arthur's papers at the Library of Congress.
  22. Grover Cleveland - the only man to serve two non-consecutive terms (see #24) - his papers are also at the Library of Congress.
  23. Benjamin Harrison - there is a Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis, IN, but the bulk of his papers are found at the Library of Congress.
  24. Grover Cleveland
  25. William McKinley - assassinated in office, McKinley's papers went to the Library of Congress
  26. Theodore Roosevelt - the youngest man to serve as President, TR went on to live for many years after leaving office. After his death, his papers went to the Library of Congress.
  27. William Howard Taft - the bulk (!) of Taft's papers are at the Library of Congress.
  28. Woodrow Wilson - the last President to come from the Commonwealth of Virginia (the mother of the Presidency), Wilson is also the only president to have a Presidential home / museum located in the District of Columbia. His birthplace in Staunton, Virginia is home to his library and museum.
  29. Warren G. Harding - what there is of Hardin's papers (his widow destroyed much of his papers allegedly to clear herself of any implication in his death) is at the Ohio Historical Society.
  30. Calvin Coolidge - the thirtieth President has a presidential library and museum located in Northampton, MA.
  31. Herbert Hoover - Hoover decided after Roosevelt started the Presidential Library system that it was a pretty good thing (and he needed all the help he could get to try and restore his image) so the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library is found in West Branch, IA.
  32. Franklin Delano Roosevelt - the FDR Presidential Library (in Hyde Park, NY) is located next to the Roosevelt family home. FDR designed the library.
  33. Harry Truman - "Give 'em Hell" Harry's stuff is at the Truman Library in Independence, MO
  34. Dwight Eisenhower - Ike was born in Abilene, Kansas and as a result that's where the Eisenhower Library is.
  35. John F. Kennedy - the Kennedy Library (in Boston, MA) sits prominently on Boston Harbor.
  36. Lyndon Johnson - the most recent presidential library that I have visited, the Johnson Library is in the state capital of Texas, Austin
  37. Richard Nixon - After many discussions with the Nixon family, the Nixon Library opened in July 2011 in Yorba Linda, CA
  38. Gerald Ford - OK, I like(d) Jerry Ford, but the only president to not be elected to the job has a Library in one place (Ann Arbor, MI) and the Museum somewhere else (Grand Rapids, MI). And it's not like there close - they're two hours apart. What does that say?
  39. Jimmy Carter - the Carter Library is in Atlanta, GA, not Plains, where the peanut farmer President hailed from.
  40. Ronald Reagan - the Reagan Library (in Simi Valley, CA) also holds the plane (Air Force One) used by President Reagan while in office.
  41. George H.W. Bush - the first Bush Library is in College Station, TX on the campus of Texas A&M University.
  42. Bill Clinton - the Clinton Library is in Little Rock, AR
  43. George W. Bush - the [still being developed] second Bush Library will be located in Dallas, TX on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Coffee Heath Bar Ice Cream

I noted with some sadness the other day that Friendly's, one of the greatest places of my youth is in trouble. The article notes that Friendly's was born during the Great Depression and the recession of nearly 100 years later is threatening to wipe it out. Go get those Jim Dandy's while you still can, folks.

Friendly's plays a role in my family not just for me. It was also where my sister worked for several years. And some time ago, the one where she worked was planning a celebration to commemorate its 40th anniversary of serving Long Islanders ice cream.

Now I like ice cream. I don't think that anyone would debate that with me. I am not sure what does my ice cream choice say about me? But I really want this flavor to be real. I am going to have to break out the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker at home and whip up some ice cream. So here's a recipe that I certainly would make. Now.

Coffee Heath Bar Ice Cream
from Simply Recipes

The "via" instant coffee packs at Starbucks work great for this recipe.

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups cream
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 ounces of Heath bars or other English toffee
  1. Combine the milk, 1 1/2 cups of the cream, sugar, brown sugar, instant coffee, espresso powder (if using), vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat the base until it begins to steam, whisking continuously.
  2. When the base begins to steam, pour one- half cup out of the pan and into the egg yolks, whisk immediately. When completely combined, add the yolk mixture back into the rest of the of the base, and heat until the mixture reaches 170°F, or until it coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove immediately from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve. Add in the remaining cup of cold cream and let chill for several hours, preferably overnight.
  4. Hit heath bars (still in their wrappers) repeatedly with the back of a wooden spoon, until they are thoroughly crushed. (You can also put the toffee into a plastic or paper bag and do the same.) Place heath bar pieces into a container and freeze while you churn the ice cream.
  5. Pour the base into an ice cream maker and churn according to your ice cream maker manufacturer's instructions. Remove ice cream and stir in heath bar pieces.
Makes a little more than a quart.

Friday, November 4, 2011

LBA and SoBA new Bedroom

It's almost time for LBA and SoBA to move into the same bedroom. They currently have their own rooms and beds but we are planning to move them into bunk beds in the same room. The other bedroom will become a playroom / dressing room for them.

There is currently a lot of discussion between Mrs. BA and I about what color the room(s) should be painted. Maybe we could choose from one of these. Although Mrs. BA does have some ideas - and I'm evidently not allowed to pick the color. Allegedly, the last time I painted a bedroom, it came out pistachio green.

Barring some large cash infusion, LBA and SoBA's new bedroom will not have a water slide like this bedroom does. Both LBA and SoBA like Star Wars but there will be none of these (that I'm aware of). I'm not spending $500 for the book. Nor will have have a giant Calvin and Hobbes mural.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Show us the Monuments"

First, what movie is the above line from? (Remember, it's pizza/movie night at the launchpad - but this movie is probably not being shown until after LBA and SoBA are in bed). Still don't know?

Living in Washington DC is pretty cool. I never get tired of the views and all of the great monuments that are all around the capital city. You may have heard that Washington had an earthquake back in August, which damaged the Washington Monument. After seeing this video, I understand (I was in Chicago when the quake happened, depriving me of one of my bucket list items - being in an earthquake). The link above is to DCist, from there you can get to the videos from the National Park Service, or click here, you want the "500ft level video view" videos.

Once you're done shaking, here's a list of some myths about the many monuments and statuary around DC for your enjoyment.
  1. There are 13 hands on the Iwo Jima Memorial. Nope, just twelve, no Hand of God.
  2. Fine. There is no such thing as the "Hoof Code" i.e., "the number of hooves in the air on equestrian statues tells you how the person died. Two hooves in the air means the person died in battle, one hoof means the person was injured in battle, and all four hooves on the ground means the person survived battle unharmed." But I don't believe it.
  3. There is a bible buried under the Washington Monument. Well, not under, but among other things, there is one in the cornerstone.
And another list of those obscure monuments that you really have to look for if you want to see them. No, I'm not telling you where they are. Go find them yourself!
  1. The Albert Einstein Statue
  2. The Maine Lobsterman
  3. Sonny Bono Memorial Traffic Island
  4. The Run-over Fireman Monument
  5. The Women's Titanic Memorial (dedicated to Kate Winslet, just kidding)
Then again, you could try to get here to have one of the best views in the city. Call your congressman (and then call me - because I want to go, too).