Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shh. You're in the Library.

Although some of these pictures may inspire you to gasp loudly. Nice job US getting several on the list. Was somewhat surprised to not see the Library of Congress on here. Go see the pictures, they are stunning. Hey, C in DC - one of your former employers made the list! Some of these Incredibly Intricate Libraries are pretty awesome also.

The 25 Most Beautiful Libraries in the World
(from BuzzFeed / Flavorwire)
  1. The University of Coimbra General Library, Coimbra, Portugal
  2. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  3. University of Salamanca Library, Salamanca, Spain
  4. The Trinity College Library, aka “The Long Room,” Dublin, Ireland
  5. Old Library, St. John’s College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK
  6. Philological Library of the Free University, Berlin, Germany
  7. Central Library, University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
  8. The Harper Library Reading Room, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  9. Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
  10. George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  11. Queen’s College Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
  12. Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK
  13. Duke Humfrey’s Library, Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
  14. Suzzallo Library’s Graduate Reading Room at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  15. The North Reading Room in Doe Library, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
  16. La Sorbonne Reading Room, Paris, France
  17. Codrington Library, All Soul’s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
  18. Cornell Law School Library, Ithaca, NY
  19. University of Michigan Law Library, Ann Arbor, MI
  20. Pontifical Lateran University library, Rome, Italy
  21. Powell library, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
  22. Widener Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  23. Fisher Fine Arts Library, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  24. Pitts Theology Library, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  25. Bapst Library, Boston College, Boston, MA
I think I saw some of these books on the shelves in the pictures (video from kottke).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mac and Cheese (and Bacon)

This recipe appeared at the launchpad a few weeks ago and it quickly made an appearance on the table. It will likely get made again. Be careful of the garlic, it cooks quickly and if it gets too toasted, it overpowers the dish. I saw the recipe in that woman's recipe magazine but it is from Emeril Lagasse.

Emeril's Three-Cheese Baked Macaroni

  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar (6 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (1 ounce)
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni 6 minutes (it will be undercooked). Drain. Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium and add bacon. Cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon mixture to a medium bowl. Add macaroni and stir to combine.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and evaporated milk. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne, nutmeg, and cheeses; mix well. Add macaroni mixture and stir well to combine. Transfer to an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish or 2-quart gratin dish. With a spoon, gently spread mixture to form an even layer. Bake just until sauce is bubbling at edges, 12 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Brave Astronaut clan are staying home for the holidays. Many of you are aware of the troublesome trip we had while going to visit with my family. Thanksgiving has been off the board for several years now and it is possible that making the trip at Christmas may soon follow. It's just too hard with LBA and SoBA in tow. Unless we are spending Christmas somewhere warm.

Tonight will be spent with Mrs. BA's family and then tomorrow morning we will all be waking in our own beds to see what Santa has brought us. It is also LBA's birthday - so the day will start out as Christmas and end as his birthday. We are having C in DC and her lovely family over for dinner (it's OK Mom, there are people coming) and the Christmas China will be coming out.

Tonight I will likely read a Christmas story to the boys before they head off to bed. Maybe this one.

My fervent wish to all of you, as always, is that you will always be able to hear the sound of the sleigh bell. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wait, Today's Not a Holiday?

I guess I have to go to work then. For those in the know, today is my birthday. Finished your shopping yet? Here's a few ideas for the Brave Astronaut you love.

Three-Person Chess
A chess variant board to accommodates three players, without compromising ANY of the rules, strategies, or competitive challenges. There are only a few changes that must be followed to maintain order where the teams border each other. More here.

There's also the "vertical" version of chess.
It includes a "last move" marker hung around a recently promoted pawn-turned-Queen signals to an opponent that without an equally crafty counter, the game will end soon. It's only $300.
From Hammacher Schlemmer.

And remember, there is always the list of the five greatest toys of all time (from Wired via kottke).
  1. the Stick
  2. the Box
  3. String
  4. the Cardboard Tube
  5. Dirt

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's My Birthday!

Mrs. BA loves me. This is my birthday cake for tomorrow.

Buttercup Bake Shop Caramel Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup Caramel (next recipe) + 1/2 cup water, mixed
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Bake at 350º. Grease and flour two 9x2" cake pans.Line bottoms with waxed paper. Sift dry ingredients and set aside. Using medium speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Add dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with caramel mixture, beating until smooth. Put into pans; bake 30-35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cool completely on wire racks.

Make frosting by melting butter, brown sugar, and cream in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let come to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and cool 20-30 minutes. Add sugar, beating with mixer until smooth. If too thick add a bit of cream. Frost cake layers when cold.

Makes a 2-layer 9" cake.
Serves 10-12.

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
Combine sugar and water in medium-sized pan. Stir occasionally over medium-low heat, until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Let no sugar stick to sides of pan. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring, until the syrup becomes a deep amber color, about 15 minutes. To prevent the syrup from becoming grainy, use a pastry brush dipped into cold water to brush down any sugar crystals sticking to the sides of the pan. Swirl the pan occasionally for even browning. Once the syrup turns deep amber in color, immediately remove from heat. Slowly and carefully add the cream to the syrup (mixture will bubble vigorously), whisking constantly, until cream is mixed in completely. Return pan to medium-low heat, stirring until sauce is smooth, about
1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

Will keep for 1 month. Makes 3-1/2 cups.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

States Stereotypes

Stereotypes aren't cool. Funny, but not cool.
Seen on Huffington Post and BuzzFeed

This post is another hint (following the post in November) to what is coming to Order from Chaos in 2012). Figure it out yet? Check back, right here in three weeks. Bring a map.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Recipe - Donuts!

When Mrs. BA and I got married, we eschewed the traditional wedding cake and went with a Croquembouche (basically a tower of cream puffs). It was awesome. Here's a kid-friendly version that would be a hit at most tables this holiday season. From Epicurious.

Doughnut-Hole Croquembouche
December 2007

This kid-friendly version of a classic French Christmas treat subs doughnut holes for the traditional cream puffs. They're attached to a Styrofoam base to form a tall cone, which can then be decorated with candy or artificial leaves bought at craft stores.

Yield: Makes 1 croquembouche

  • About 70 doughnut holes of any flavor
  • Assorted candy decorations such as M&M's, Red Hots, licorice balls, and silver dragées
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup with 1 teaspoon water stirred in
  • Purchased or homemade chocolate or caramel sauce (optional)
Special equipment
  • Clear tape
  • 18-inch-tall Styrofoam cone (available at floral shops and craft stores)
  • Waxed or parchment paper or aluminum foil in color similar to doughnuts
  • Cake-decorating turntable (optional)
  • About 70 toothpicks
  • Thimble
  • Cloth leaves (available at floral shops and craft stores)
  • Using tape, cover cone with paper. Place cone on turntable if using
  • Arrange 1 ring doughnut holes around base of cone, placing as closely together as possible. Insert toothpick through each doughnut hole into cone to attach doughnut hole to cone, leaving end of toothpick sticking out (you'll push it in later with thimble)
  • Attach second ring of doughnut holes above first, again packing tightly and staggering so doughnut holes in second ring are not directly above doughnut holes in first ring.
  • Continue in same manner to attach remaining doughnut holes. For top tiers, if desired, slice off small amount of each doughnut hole on side facing toward cone to make shape more tapering. Finish covering cone with 1 doughnut hole attached to top of cone.
  • Using thimble, push in toothpicks until not visible.
  • Decorate by pushing candies and leaves into gaps between doughnut holes. If candies won't adhere, dip in corn syrup-water mixtur before attaching.
  • If desired, drizzle with chocolate or caramel sauce. Croquembouche keeps, covered loosely with aluminum foil and refrigerated, 2 to 3 days.
Test-kitchen tip: Shredded coconut on a platter around the croquembouche can give the feeling of snow. For a healthier option, substitute round cherry tomatoes or cherries for the doughnut holes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

First Snow of the Season

We are expecting our first "real" snow of the season tonight. It is not supposed to amount to anything, but here in the DC area, you never know how people will react. I need to go to the grocery store soon, but there isn't enough money in the world to send me there tonight.

The Brave Astronauts are heading out this weekend to get our Christmas Tree - continuing a tradition of cutting our own at a farm in Northern Maryland. We will make a day of it, joined by the OSG family, ArchivesNext and J in PA. I guess it's time to start decorating - and I guess cards will need to be addressed and sent. And a Christmas letter needs to be written, the shopping completed, plans made . . . . I truly have miles to go before I sleep.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

- Robert Frost

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Because everything is better with chicken, especially something that was already good to start with!

Double Barbecue Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Chicken
from Betty Crocker

Mouthwatering and moist, this grilled chicken gets flavor from bacon and two kinds of barbecue sauce, one tangy, the other creamy with a kick.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Makes 4 servings

White Barbecue Sauce
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 slices packaged precooked bacon
  • 2 teaspoons barbecue seasoning
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  1. Heat gas or charcoal grill. In small bowl, stir together white barbecue sauce ingredients; cover and refrigerate until serving time.
  2. Wrap each chicken breast with 2 slices bacon, stretching bacon to cover as much of the breast as possible; secure ends of bacon to chicken with toothpicks. Sprinkle both sides with barbecue seasoning.
  3. Place chicken on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 5 minutes. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the barbecue sauce. Cook 5 to 7 minutes longer or until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F). Turn chicken; brush with remaining barbecue sauce. Serve chicken topped with white barbecue sauce.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Girl Scouts (cookies)

Back in September, Girl Scouts of Nassau County celebrated their 100th Anniversary by planting 100 trees at Camp Blue Bay in East Hampton, NY. As most of you, my faithful readers, know, my mother was a lifelong girl scout and spent several weekends at Camp Blue Bay.

That's not to mention the number of years she served as "cookie mother" and our living room would be crammed full of cartons of cookies that we were unable to have. Have a look at the chart above - where do you fall?

Now, I have also spoken of the many girl scouts (and girl guides) that came through Nassau County (and my house) over the years as part of the International Hostessing Program, which my mother co-chaired for many years. I don't recall this being utilized by any of them - but I guess it's new.

Happy Birthday to the Girl Scouts! Thanks for everything you've done. And Happy Birthday to my sister!