Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back to School Memories

With LBA starting third grade this week (3rd grade!) and SoBA joining him at the same school in kindergarten, here's a list of items that "will remind you of elementary school"  [from BuzzFeed].  Of course, this is also Labor Day weekend (and you shouldn't have to go back to school until after Labor Day - but that's a different rant).
  1. Back to school supply lists - these days, the list comes out before the kids go back to school.  But I remember going out on that first week of school to get everything on the list.
  2. Slates - I'm not that old.
  3. Writing your name on the upper right-hand corner of your wide ruled loose leaf paper - The Brave Astronaut has a pretty long last name and I often tell SBA that it took me until the 3rd grade to learn how to spell it right - so no more excuses!
  4. Trapper Keepers - I was more of a blue fabric 3-ring binder (or the 5-subject wirebound notebook) fan.
  5. Being the line leader - I liked this job.
  6. Construction Paper 
  7. Getting to be Student of the Month - something clicked in LBA early in 2nd grade where he was named Student of the Month for several months in a row!
  8. Capri Suns - we had milk.
  9. Finding your friends so you can sit with them in the cafeteria - our "lunchroom" doubled as the gym, something that you still see a lot.
  10. Lunch Trays - there was a spot for the milk carton
  11. Scooters - gym was more fun with these, and it was way more fun than the rope climb
  12. Juice Boxes! - see #8
  13. Recess! - I was married in elementary school on the playground (Patty - did we ever get divorced?).  The monkey bars was our house.  Another classmate played the part of our dog (Donna Ziegler, where are you?)
  14. Elmer's Glue
  15. Nap time and nap mats
  16. Sitting on carpet squares
  17. Gym/Auditoriums - I remember being brought into the gym/auditorium to watch the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1976.
  18. Kickball 
  19. Using the card catalog and learning the Dewey Decimal System - pretty sure this isn't high on anybody's list anymore.
  20. Crayola Crayons
  21. Show and Tell
  22. That mean substitute teacher
  23. Playing games inside during recess because it's raining outside
  24. Book Reports
  25. Having the coolest lunch box
  26. The Spelling Bee
  27. Book Fairs
  28. Skate Night

Monday, August 26, 2013

Banana Boat Smores

You can only make so much banana bread.  And bananas are popular in our house - and so is grilling.

Grilled Chocolate Banana Melt
from Tablespoon via BuzzFeed

  • 1 banana, peeled 
  • 2 tablespoons miniature marshmallows 
  • 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 2 tablespoons Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, slightly crushed
  • Preheat grill to medium high heat.
  • Slice banana lengthwise and slightly open. Place on a rectangle of aluminum foil. 
  • Insert marshmallows and chocolate chips into the sliced banana. 
  • Wrap banana up in foil and cook on the grill for 5-6 minutes. 
  • Unwrap banana and top with cereal. After melt has slightly cooled eat with a spoon. 
OVEN METHOD: Cook in the OVEN at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes.

CAMPFIRE METHOD: Keep peel on banana; slice lengthwise twice, lift up flap of peel, slice banana and add chocolate and marshmallows as above. Replace peel flap and wrap banana with foil. Let the flames die down before adding banana packets directly to fire. Cook 3-5 minutes, or just until soft and melty. Use tongs to remove from fire. Carefully unwrap and unpeel banana to eat.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Baked Chicken

My mother had several recipes in her wheelhouse that she delivered with ease and proved most delicious.  One of them was her baked chicken, which was basically chicken pieces in an egg wash, covered in bread crumbs and then baked in the oven until done.  The best part of that meal was getting the crunchy pieces out of the baking pan after dinner.  There may have been some scrums between my siblings and I to get the last piece.

I spotted this recipe the other day and it made me think of her and illustrated the relative ease with which this could be accomplished for LBA and SoBA.

Oven-Fried Panko Chicken
Gourmet | October 2009
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Active Time: 20 min
Total Time: 1 hr

  • 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 10 serving pieces (breasts cut crosswise in half)

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

Stir together panko, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a pie plate.

Stir together butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl, then brush all over chicken. Add chicken, 2 pieces at a time, to crumb mixture and coat evenly on both sides, pressing chicken into crumbs to help them adhere, then transfer, skin side up, to a shallow baking pan.

Bake chicken until well browned and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes to crisp.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Let's Go Zephyrs!

Tonight is the Brave Astronaut's last night in the Big Easy and the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists. I am celebrating with an outing with a group of friends at the New Orleans Zephyrs game in nearby Metarie.  As most of you know - I have been organizing outings to baseball at the SAA Annual Meeting for the past several years, including a visit to the Zephyrs and New Orleans in 2005 (a week before Katrina struck the city).

For that past few baseball seasons, I have also been running a fantasy baseball team, named the Brave Astronauts of course.  I have finished in the middle of the pack most years - this year I have had better offense than I have had in years past, when my pitching has been strongest.  Some time ago, I saw this post about the "Ultimate Fictional Baseball Team."  It's like fantasy, fantasy baseball.

Thanks SAA for another great week in the Big Easy!  Back home again tomorrow!

Monday, August 12, 2013


Brave Astronaut is off to New Orleans on Wednesday for the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting.  I'm flying solo this year - unlike the last time when Mrs. BA and LBA (who was only 8 months old!) came to "Let the Good Times Roll!"

New Orleans in August can be a toasty place - but I am sure that some Cafe au Lait and Beignets in the morning will take some of the sting away.  Here's a recipe that I found for French Crullers (French Crullers / French Quarter - hey, I get it).  Enjoy.

French Crullers
Epicurious | April 2013
Yield: Makes 10 to 14 crullers
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

  • 1 cup water 
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter 
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) superfine sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup (135 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted 
  • 3 large eggs, divided 1 to 2 egg whites, slightly beaten 
  • Vegetable oil for frying 
  • Basic Sugar Glaze (recipe below)

  1. Place the water, butter, sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a brisk boil over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is completely incorporated. Continue to cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes to steam away as much water as possible. The more moisture you can remove, the more eggs you can add later and the lighter your pastry will be. The mixture is ready when a thin film coats the bottom of the pan. 
  2. Move the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Although you can mix the pâte à choux by hand, this can be rather arduous, so use a mixer if you have one. Stir the mixture for about 1 minute to allow it to cool. Then mix on medium speed and add the first egg. Let it mix in completely and then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, and mix in completely. Add the egg whites, a little at a time, until the paste becomes smooth and glossy and will hold a slight peak when pinched with your fingers. Be careful not to add too much egg white or your crullers will become heavy. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star piping tip. 
  3. To fry the crullers, heat at least 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until a deep-fat thermometer registers 370°F. While the oil is heating, cut out twelve 3-by-3-inch squares of parchment paper and lightly grease them. Pipe a ring onto each square. When the oil is hot, place one cruller at a time in the oil, paper side up. Remove the paper with tongs. Fry on each side until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel for at least 1 minute. Once cool to the touch, the crullers can be glazed. 
Crullers also bake very well, although they will have slightly firmer crusts than the fried versions. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pipe the crullers onto it, at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the oven door slightly and let the crullers sit in the cooling oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove, dip in glaze, and cool on a rack until the glaze has set.
Beignets, the classic New Orleans fried dough treats, use this same batter and are even easier to prepare. Simply drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the batter into the oil. As the dough puffs, the beignets will turn themselves over—but keep an eye on them and flip any that need a little help.
Basic Sugar Glaze 
Epicurious | April 2013

  • 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted to remove any lumps 
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk or water 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional) 

  1. Place the sugar in a medium bowl and slowly stir in the milk and vanilla, a little at a time, to make a smooth, pourable glaze. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday's List - Fictional Characters Names

So you think you're smart?  BuzzFeed and Mental Floss wants to know if you know the names of all those fictional characters you grew up with.
  1. The Pillsbury Doughboy - real name, Poppin Fresh.  His wife's name is Poppie.  Children? Popper and Bun Bun.  The Fresh family cat and dog are named Biscuit and Flapjack, respectively.
  2. The Quaker Oats man is referred to by staff at Quaker Oats as "Larry."
  3. Captain Crunch is named Horatio Magellan Crunch.
  4. Mrs. Butterworth's first name? Joy
  5. Jeff Albertson is the Comic Book Store guy on The Simpsons.
  6. The mom from Futurama is named Carol, some say after Carol Brady
  7. The policeman who takes people to jail in Monopoly is Officer Edgar Mallory.  Your cellmate in the jail? Jake the Jailbird.  And of course, the man with all the money is Rich Uncle Pennybags.
  8. Woody from Toy Story has a last name - it's Pride.
  9. On Sesame Street - Mr. Snuffalupagus has a first name - it's Aloysius.  Cookie Monster's first name is Sid.  Guy Smiley is a stage name - his real name is Bernie Liederkrantz.
  10. Peppermint Patty from Peanuts? Her full name is Patricia Reichardt.  And the teacher with the speech problem is Miss Othmar.
  11. Mr. Clean's first name is Veritably.  Yes, his name is Veritably Clean.
  12. If you are formally addressing Barbie, please refer to her as Barbara Millicent Roberts.  If you're looking for Ken in the phone book, you're going to need to know his last name is Carson.
  13. The patient with the interesting ailments in Operation is Cavity Sam.
  14. The Man with the Yellow Hat (from Curious George) is named Ted Shackleford.
  15. Bruce Wayne is of course, Batman.  The Penguin is Oswald Cobblepot.  Wonder Woman is Diana Prince.  
  16. A second "Larry" on the list - the bird from Twitter.
  17. Mr. Peanut is also known as Batholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe.
  18. Bibendum is the name of the Michelin Man.
  19. The Queen from Snow White is also known as Queen Grunhilde.
  20. Jughead from the Archie comics is of course, a nickname for Forsythe P. Jones III.
  21. "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" was the plea from Mr. [George] Whipple.
  22. The Church Lady's given name is Enid Strict.
  23. Casper the Friendly Ghost's family name is McFadden.
  24. His friends call him Geoffrey, but the Toys R Us spokesanimal is known as Dr. G. Raffe.
  25. Shaggy from Scooby Doo is named Norville Rogers.  And Scooby's full name is Scoobert.
  26. MacGyver's first name is Angus
  27. The A-Team's leader's full name is Bosco Albert Baracus
  28. Turtle from "Entourage" is Salvatore Assante.
  29. Though we never saw all of him, Wilson's full name in Home Improvement was Wilson W. Wilson, Jr.
  30. Bull Shannon's (Night Court) first name was Nostradamus
  31. The Skipper from Gilligan's Island and Captain of the Minnow was Jonas Grumby, while the Professor was Professor Roy Hinkley.
  32. "Sorry, I have just one more question" - Lt. Columbo's first name was Frank.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pizza Pockets

Recently Mrs. BA scored a pop-tart form for the next time she ventures down that road (you may remember her bakeoff entry from earlier this year).  Perhaps she could use her new form to make these tasty treats for our next TV watching party in the basement of the launchpad.

Pizza Pouches
Cookie | February 2009
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

  • 1 16-ounce bag store-bought pizza dough 
  • 6 tablespoons fresh or jarred marinara sauce (such as Rao’s) 
  • 6 store-bought turkey meatballs (such as Murray’s or Trader Joe’s) 
  • 6 tablespoons shredded mozzarella 
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan 
  • 1 egg 1 teaspoon milk (any fat content)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Roll the dough out about ¼ inch thick. Cut it into eighths (2 will be left over). 
  3. Grease a 6-cup muffin tin. Line each cup with a piece of dough, letting the excess hang over the sides. 
  4. Fill each with 1 tablespoon of sauce and 1 meatball. Divide the cheeses equally among the cups. 
  5. Gather each bit of excess dough up around the filling, pinching it together at the top. 
  6. Whisk the egg with the milk to make a wash. Brush it onto each pouch. 
  7. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. 
Tip: Pinch off some pizza dough, hand your toddler a rolling pin, and watch him lock in.

Friday, August 2, 2013

21 Alarm Clocks Worth Trying Out

Mrs. BA's birthday is coming up soon.  Neither of us are morning people.  We have trouble waking up in the morning.  Mrs. BA's alarm clock on her side of the bed is always several minutes ahead of the other clocks in the room (she tends to fumble with it when attempting to shut off the alarm - advancing the time).  She also uses her iPhone as an alarm clock, but I don't think it can handle the continual abuse.  I have a clock on my bedside table, too, but have started using a third clock, which is across the room - making me have to get out of bed to turn it off.

Perhaps one of these should make an appearance (via BuzzFeed).

"Aromatherapy" approaches
  1. The Wake N Bacon Clock - I mean, I love bacon, "but let me tell you how Daddy got sick."
  2. The Coffee Clock - this one's just for me, Mrs. BA doesn't like coffee
Active Involvement Clocks
  1. Clocky - you have to chase it (and find it) around the room to shut it off.
  2. Rocket Launcher Alarm Clock - unfortunately, no longer available (at least from the website linked)
  3. The Carpet Alarm Clock - you have to put your feet on it to turn it off - for how long?  when can I lay back down?
  4. The Flying Alarm Clock - well time does fly (in the form of a helicopter propeller, which you must find to stop the alarm.
  5. Defusable Alarm Clock - hit the big red button and the clock counts down to an explosion.
  6. The Ramos Alarm Clock - you have to put in a preset pin number into the clock to turn it off (and it's $450 - for that kind of money the butler should put the pin code in for you).
  7. The Barbell Alarm Clock - you have to do 30 reps/lifts before it will shut off (perhaps this belongs under Punishment Avoidance?)
  8. Sfera - designed by students, it hangs above your bed, you hit it to snooze, but every time you hit snooze it goes up several inches toward the ceiling.

Punishment Avoidance Options
  1. The Donation Clock - want to hit that snooze button again?  fine, $20 bucks is going to your least favorite people.
  2. The Drill Sergeant Clock - after playing reveille, the drill sergeant begins to insult you until you get up
Anger Management Issues Clocks
  1. Smash Alarm Clock - it is designed to be smacked to be shut off.  However, the dent stays until the next day.
  2. The Paper Alarm Clock - you crumple it up to shut it off.  But do you then need a new sheet of paper for the next day?
  3. Mr. Bump - sadly, no longer available.  Resembling a bouncy ball, you throw it at the wall to shut it off.
  1. The Hot Rod Clock - Mrs. BA, Start Your Engines!
  2. The Grenade Alarm - also, fortunately, no longer available.
  3. The Target Clock - not from Target, but a clock where you shoot it to turn it off.
  4. The Director Alarm Clock - like a clapboard in the movies, snap it down to turn off the alarm
  5. The Silent Alarm Clock - you wear a bracelet that vibrates when the alarm "goes off" - shake your wrist to activate the snooze.  Do the vibrations get worse if you don't get up?
  6. Pull Cord Alarm Clock - before going to bed, pull the cord for the length of time you want to sleep. The cord slowly retracts and goes off at the appointed hour.