"Some calls it madness...I calls it HiDeeHo." - Cab Calloway
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Saturday, September 20, 2003


Yet more culinary triumphs from the kitchen of your favorite Gourmancer!

We had mashed potatoes left over from dinner last night. I didn't just drown them in garlic butter and scarf them down, oh no. I turned them into two loaves of bread that look oddly like giant potatoes themselves. If you take about 1-1/2 cups of mashed potatoes, 4-1/2 cups of flour, 1/2-cup of warm water in which you have mixed 1 tablespoon of proofed yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar, and a quarter of a stick of melted butter, all mixed and kneaded as per usual, you've got a dough that only takes an hour for two rises and another 45 minutes to bake. Julia Child, the author of this recipe, says this is a good one to make "on a whim." I suppose if you're used to making a pain de campagne that can take up to 3 days to do properly, 2 hours is fairly spur of the moment.

Also, I rediscovered snickerdoodles. All you have to do for those is make a chocolate chip cookie dough (preferably with all brown sugar and butter), leaving out the chocolate chips and using a full assload of cinnamon and maybe a pinch of nutmeg and cloves...um. Yeah. Mo helped me with these, in that she measured out a dozen, rolled them in the cinnamon sugar and placed them properly on the baking sheet. You can't tell which ones she did and which ones I did. Good girl.

I have been asked to convert my notorious brownie recipe to a vegan version. Hm...I mean, the substitution for butter would have to be margarine, but what can make a good substitute for the eggs? Eggs are almost all albumin, water and cholesterol by composition. I'm not sure you can make a decent brownie without eggs. I think maybe (blurgh, uck) soft tofu with some extra water and more melted margarine might work. We'll have to see. And we'll have to leave out the milk chocolate chips and dig up some vegan chocolate with coconut oil or some such.

Poor Josh and Mo will have to be my guinea pigs. Oh not the horror of eating my goodies! Oh no!

posted by Julie Neff  # 9/20/2003 02:17:00 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


Today I walked about 12 miles in 3 hours, give or take. Granted, I wasn't carrying anything heavier than a bottle of water, but I had to cross some good-sized hills along the way.

I felt very much like, for want of a better term, an AD&D ranger. Traveling very light, following a trail that was poorly marked and overgrown, staff in hand, noting who had passed recently, discerning what was scurrying in the undergrowth without actually seeing them (squirrel? chipmunk? gopher? snake? bunny? some teenage hunters?), leaving as little of a trace as I could and on my way to an old holy site - the Stone Elephant.

This huge boulder, a glacial erratic and landmark in the southern kettle moraine, was a place where the local Potowatomi (the same ones who partied out on Bald Bluff, presumbaly) would make offerings and make pilgrimages.

It was indeed a REALLY big rock. Aside from the Rockies and some rock formations I've seen in places like Tennessee and up in central Wisconsin, that was the biggest freaking rock I'd ever seen.

By the time I reached the Stone Elephant, I had hiked 6 miles over the varied terrain, and I was a bit foot-weary. I sat for a bit. It occurred to me that, incongruous as it may seem for someone who needs lung capacity and endurance for the hike, I had brought my cigarettes with me. And a lighter. I thought, well gee didn't the Potowatomi make their offerings via smoke and tobacco sometimes?

So, in homage and a moment of sensory indulgence, I had a cigarette, an American Spirit as a matter of fact. I packed out the filter of that one to be thrown away at home, and crumbled up the contents of another at the base of the boulder. I asked, as politely and with as much spiritual dignity a white girl could muster when in a First People's holy place, for more rain. In deference to the totemic Smokey the Bear, I used a splash of my drinking water to make sure the fire was totally out. Only you can prevent forest fires.

I then hightailed it out of there, as it occurred to me that I had no watch and needed to be home when Mo was done at the dentist.

I wonder if it'll work. Watch the skies, people of southeastern Wisconsin. If it rains, think of me smoking at the Stone Elephant and then half-jogging away the 6 miles it took to backtrack to my car.

(By the way, for someone of my size, at the pace I was traveling, I think I sweated off about 700 calories into the dry forest air. Hoo! Some workout. Walk, have a smoke, walk some more. I can dig.)

posted by Julie Neff  # 9/17/2003 05:52:00 PM


There is something up in the world of the raptors. With the half-moon as background in the sky, up and over to the northwest, there are what looks like hundreds of birds circling in some random formation.

A few of these birds broke away from the pattern and came closer, close enough that I could identify them. They're hawks.

Is this usual hawk behavior? Can an ornithologist give me a heads-up? I've seen crows, vultures, ravens, geese, cranes, blackbirds and other songbirdy-finchy types in mass flocks, but never hawks.

This bodes. Time to take a reading of the auspices. The small mammals amongst us (Mr. Willybutton? Miss Wooga?) had best hide.

EDIT: Lo and behold, there is a type of hawk that migrates in flocks and is relatively common in southeastern Wisconsin. The broad-winged hawk has bands on its tail and, as the name suggests, rather broader wings that you might expect. So. Mystery solved, but no less mysterious.

posted by Julie Neff  # 9/17/2003 10:58:00 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


Apparently I age at one-third the rate of calendar years. Cool!

The rest of me feels about 30.

My inner child is ten years old!

The adult world is pretty irrelevant to me. Whether
I'm off on my bicycle (or pony) exploring, lost
in a good book, or giggling with my best
friend, I live in a world apart, one full of
adventure and wonder and other stuff adults
don't understand.

How Old is Your Inner Child?
brought to you by Quizilla

posted by Julie Neff  # 9/16/2003 04:20:00 PM


Josh's sister-in-law Stacy sent this out. I want to know if there any Shrubophiles out there who can rebut this unmitigated idiocy on the part of this administration.

If you can't get through this list without wanting to throw up, I'll understand. But pass it around anyway. This is the nail in the Iraq War's coffin for any sane, thinking individual, regardless of their political stripe (thanks to TomPaine.com and the Center for American Progress)...

To get some perspective, here are some real-life comparisons about what $87 billion means:

$87 Billion Is More Than The Combined Total Of All State Budget Deficits In The United States.

The Bush administration proposed absolutely zero funds to help states deal with these deficits, despite the fact that their tax cuts drove down state revenues. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

$87 Billion Is Enough To Pay The 3.3 Million People Who Have Lost Jobs Under George W. Bush $26,363 Each!

The unemployment benefits extension passed by Congress at the beginning of this year provides zero benefits
to "workers who exhausted their regular, state unemployment benefits and cannot find work." All told,
two-thirds of unemployed workers have exhausted their benefits. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy

$87 Billion Is More Than DOUBLE The Total Amount The Government Spends On Homeland Security.

The U.S. spends about $36 billion on homeland security. Yet, Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) wrote
"America will fall approximately $98.4 billion short of meeting critical emergency responder needs" for
homeland security without a funding increase. [Source: Council on Foreign Relations]

$87 Billion Is 87 Times The Amount The Federal Government Spends On After School Programs.

George W. Bush proposed a budget that reduces the $1 billion for after-school programs to $600 million --
cutting off about 475,000 children from the program. [Source: The Republican-dominated House Appropriations

$87 Billion Is More Than 10 Times What The Government Spends On All Environmental Protection.

The Bush administration requested just $7.6 billion for the entire Environmental Protection Agency. This
included a 32 percent cut to water quality grants, a 6 percent reduction in enforcement staff, and a 50
percent cut to land acquisition and conservation. [Source: Natural Resources Defense Council]

$87 Billion Is $30 Billion More Than The Budget For The Department Of Education

Enough said. [Source: The Daily Show]

posted by Julie Neff  # 9/16/2003 09:51:00 AM


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