Friday, May 31, 2013

A new love

My neighbors got a new kitten last November, a beautiful Maine Coon, fluffy, loving, gentle, outgoing and I enticed him to friendship already which is not difficult with Maine Coons. His mom and dad  were a white cat and a gray tabby, I have to smile when I look at him. The cutest are his two white cheeks in the gray tabby head.  He comes over to me to be petted and cooed at and has dedicated his first summer to exploring his new neighborhood. At the moment he goes by “The Kitten”.

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He still thinks he can be invisible by laying low in the lawn.

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Grape Cucumber Salad

Summer has finally arrived, out of the blue, with humidity and temperatures in the upper eighties as if to say, “what? Me” Late?”. Today, it is muggy and sunny, and the AC went back into the bedroom window for the summer. It was a busy week again, and I am relaxing with PBS Masterpiece Classic “Jane Austen Regrets”.  I am not sure where my recent love for Jane Austen comes from, but it must be the romance and the beautiful British movies.

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Finally, there is no more waiting for summer, there is only summer living from now on. In addition, the house is clean, it is Friday night and the weekend will be sunny and warm, to. What to DO? It feels like Memorial weekend is just a week late.  The salad today was a mix of English cucumber, diced celery and seedless grapes with dill, lettuce and balsamic vinaigrette. Refreshing!

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

It's a new day, it's a new life...... and the sun is back! Hopefully, things warm up and dry out. So, no more sour puss faces!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rain.. bow chard

It is more of the same around here. Rain and painting. Home depot was like Best Buy on Black Friday – everyone seemed to remember home improvement projects. 5 Dollars off a gallon of paint was not too bad either. A fresh coat of paint and rearranging furniture makes the house look it had a major update.  

Tomorrow the sun will be back, finally.  The ducks in the garden puddle might have to move back to the river. I am more than ready for the first heat wave, and being painted myself, in color tan. Lunch was a bunch of rainbow swiss chard with garlic, white wine and parmesan cheese, and radishes and cherry tomatoes.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Weekend, the rain version

I don’t think the pictures need much explaining. Despite summer temperatures in much of the US, the Northeast is rained out until Monday. Cold, too. Oh joy. I am keeping myself busy with projects so I can enjoy the summer once it arrives with a brand new house.

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At least the young rhubarb like the onslaught of rain lately.MD_3

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At least the painter’s beer is on summer time. I can only hope.

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Rainy day project.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Strawberry Apple Kale Quinoa Salad

On the ipad front? It still crashes and I will have to send it in. Oh well. Things looked better on the lunch front. I cooked a cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water in the rice cooker (brown rice setting), and was ready to make a quinoa salad: a half chopped apple, a handful of sliced strawberries, a sliced kale leaf, some salt, a few pine nuts, and a dressing made with 1 TB tahini, 1/2 lemon and 3 TB of hot water. Fabulous!

quinoa_strawberry_salad

And then the ipad crashed



Other people are kept up by babies, I am kept up and robbed of sleep by computer problems. I've had my first IPad since it was released, several years ago (3?). It was love at first sight. Then I really started to use it as electronic notebook with handwritten notes using the Noteshelf app. Your endless notebook! You can project your notes in meeting, send sketches to your colleagues, and always have all notes on you. Notebook love fest! Last fall I bought an iPad mini just to make it all more compact.

So, you can image my dismay when the Noteshelf app started crashing on me yesterday when I wanted to enter some new notes about a meeting. I tried several times, and the app always crashed. I gave up and waited until I would get home.

I started looking into a solution at 7pm and was still trying to fix it by 3am. By that point I had backed up the data to my Mac and the only option was to reset the IPad to factory settings and restore the IPad from a backup. The major conclusion was (still is) that the file that Noteshelf saves was corrupted and adding it back to a restored Noteshelf app still will not make the app start. -- I lost so much data I could have ripped my hair out. Yes, brave new world of electronic notebooks. The benefit would be to throw out things you don't need, but I'd preferred on my own terms! Note to self (and everyone): backup your IPad/IPhone data regularly! I am still trying to contact the makers of Noteshelf if the problem can be helped.

The other major problem was that the IPad still crashed. Constantly, with all application. It would write panic files to the diagnostics file. "SDA stuck low". Sounded very hardware-y.

I went to bed, and by 6am I was awake again. Since I could not fall back to sleep I decided to give in to my obsession about fixing the problem. How about recovering an older backup from Time Machine? I fiddled with the operating system and terminal window, navigating the Time Machine disk, but could not find any other backups that ITunes already told me about. I tried to restore the noteshelf file to my 1G IPad, but Noteshelf on that IPad would not start up. Thus, something wrong with the file. So, I decided to start with a clean slate (of notes), but the IPad would still crash every 2 min, and it is no way to work.

I was close to contacting Apple and pleading for a replacement, believing it must be a hardware problem, worrying that they say No way, jose, and I have to pony up money for a new one.

Until I found this on an Apple forum, and it WORKED! I did a different type of restore, a DFU restore, which I guess really wipes the machine clean, and set it up as a new IPad plus manually installed NoteShelf from ITunes (since I had paid for it already). And, low and behold, it works again! No more crashes! Happy Dance! -- Now, if only I could find a way to restore my Noteshelf data, I would hug the moon. --- so, in the hope that this might help someone else with a similar problem, I am posting it.

This is what helped:

Get all your data synced off the device, which is different from backing up in iTunes. If you're concerned about losing text messages you can pursue 3rd party software to extract them. When you're POSITIVE that you're not concerned with losing anything run a DFU mode restore on the device (youtube it). When this process is finished, select to set up the device as new, as opposed to restoring from a backup, and then sync your data manually back onto the device. I definitely quit all apps on my devices a few times a day, rarely power them off, hard reset every once in a while for fun, and I experience virtually no crashes. Maybe one app once a month. If this doesn't solve your issues, then you have a legitimate reason to ask Apple to replace your device. In or out of warranty is the only remaining question at that point. Hope this helps. I've seen this work countless times on my customer's products.

Youtube video to DFU reset your ipad.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grandma’s marbled Bundt cake

It is rainy and unseasonably cold for May. But who am I to complain when big sections of Oklahoma are laying in shambles. Nevertheless, the day called for something cozy and warming, a fluffy, fresh baked Bundt cake, marbled, with the chocolate. This recipes was voted ‘world best Bundt cake” a few years back in Switzerland, and it makes for an absolute soft and fluffy texture. The trick? No cacao powder but melted chocolate, and… light cream.

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Grandma’s Bundt Cake

recipe for a small loaf form or a small bundt cake

  • 150 gr sugar with a packet of Dr Oetker Vanille Sugar
  • 150 gr soft unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 90 g light cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 180 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 ts backing powder
  • 100 g dark chocolate (or chocolate chips)
  • 20 g mini chocolate chips (separate)
Preparation
  1. Spray Bundt cake form or loaf form with baking spray. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. With a hand or stand mixer mix the butter and sugar and the vanille sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add one egg at a time, and mix well.
  4. Add light cream and salt, and mix well.
  5. Mix flour and backing powder, and carefully add to the dough. Now, separate the dough into 2 bowls.
  6. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish. To avoid burning the chocolate, microwave in 30 second intervals and mix the chocolate in-between. Should be melted in 2-3min. Mix the melted chocolate and the chocolate chips to one half of the dough.
  7. Place some of the white dough first in the cake form. Add the chocolate dough, and finish with a layer of white dough. Draw a fork through the dough layer to get the marbeling.
  8. Bake cake for 50 minutes at 350F. 
  9. Remove cake from oven, rest for 10min and then remove and cool.
  10. Add powdered sugar before serving.

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Layering the chocolate and white dough.

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Fluffy, light perfection!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Stopping time

This morning started out with predicted rain, which dried up early in the afternoon and then the sun came out. Even better since the late afternoon sun lights up the newly painted part of the living room and the kitchen. The middle of painting, layers of coats, cleaning up floors, bare  feet and everything else can be tiring, especially if it involves intricate painting of French windows but the results are worth it, to be enjoyed for years. This brings me to the thought that in some occasion time should just stop like after painting the house, a fresh trip from the hair stylist or the freshly mowed lawn. But alas, it is downhill from the peak until, well, next time.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cat love

Yes, some start early to love 'em kitties (and be loved back). Click here if you want more animal cuteness.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fiddlehead Tart

Today was my day to play, after a week of work and painting the house. The day started out gray and cold, and it was not the weather I had envisioned for a first summer trip to the coast. I puttered around and the day was almost gone but by 4pm I got on the road because I knew I would regret tomorrow if I had given in to laziness and excuses. Magically, the clouds disappeared and the sum came out. By mid-May, the days are quite long and so a late trip would still be worthwhile.
Sometimes, it is all in the drive anyway. A drive, sunshine, the landscape flying by, the clouds and the thoughts and mind recharge.
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My favorite barnyard was open, including a new wooden horse.
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My favorite coop, the Belfast coop.
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Besides the chives seedlings, a tiny chihuahua was waiting for his owner. He was so tiny and vulnerable, easily to be scooped up and taken away. But this is Maine, and we all trust each other. 
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Or bring the big black dog to protect the little white one.
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Backstreets of Belfast.
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All walks typically bring me to Chase’s Daily for a meal. This time, for dinner, since Friday is the only day Chase’s serves dinner (besides breakfast and lunch). As usual, their fare is vegetarian and from their own farm.
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Dinner only one day a week translates into ‘booked solid’ every time but there are seats at the bar.
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A business woman’s handbag: Kate Spade handbag with Macbook Air, Tuscan Kale and a piece of parmesan cheese.
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While waiting for dinner, I did something old fashioned: reading the New Times in paper form and being in Cannes for the film festival.
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I had ordered the daily special: Fiddlehead Tart with goat cheese, herbs and an egg custard with early greens. It was perfect.
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An entire mini tart with a rustic crust for me.
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Here is a glimpse of the chef (white apron).
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After it was all said and done (eaten) I headed out for short walk.
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Yes, this is Maine. A lot of old cars.
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Everywhere. Because, it is almost all in the drive. And the rest in the fiddlehead tart.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Quinoa salad

I started a new project. Painting my house. That is the insides, just a new coat of eggshell since the woodstove is doing a good job keeping us warm and coloring the top of the walls in a Martha Stewart dusk shade. Cats are helpful and observe the spectacle from underneath the canvases.  They think it is all a wonderful game, furniture in different places, lumped together, canvases on top, new places to hide out and not to be found.

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I converted the quinoa from the other day into a quinoa salad. There are few necessary ingredients: something crunchy like celery, something satiating like chickpeas (or fava beans), something herbal (basil?), something oniony (green onions?), and some fruit (grapes). Dressing is almost not necessary if the quinoa is cooked with some flavor. For my version of ingredients at hand I used chickpeas, green onions, celery and strawberries. Perfect!
Bea also has a great recipe: quinoa salad with fava beans.
quinoa_salad

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rinsing Quinoa

The sun is back but it is cold. The citrus kiddos got rolled back into the house. The winter wool sweater is unearthed from the was-winter pile. Brrr. Today, browsing throughan absolutely Target I found something new in the Giada for Target section that I don’t have yet: a fine mesh sieve, perfect for rinsing quinoa. Swiftly taken home I tried it out for Trader Joes tricolore quinoa and my favorite quinoa recipe. Not just a bland water+quinoa mix but the whole shebang with butter, onions, garlic, wine and quinoa. Unfortunately I was out of white wine so red wine had to do but the acidity of the white wine might be better. Nevertheless, wine adds flavor.

First. rinse the 1 cup quinoa. (in the Giada di Laurentiis fine mesh sieve from Target. Or something else that does not flush the fine grained quinoa through the holes.)

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Next, fry a chopped onion in 1 tablespoon of butter until slightly brown. Add 2 small garlic cloves, microplaned, to the pot. And the rinsed quinoa, and toast it for 1-2 minutes.

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Now, add a 1/2 cup of white or red wine, mix in, and cook off the liquid. (You are left with the flavor but without the alcohol).

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Add 1 cup of water, some salt and thyme, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for about 20 min or fluffy. --- Serve or use it as a start for a quinoa salad.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Grandma Day

The students left town. Since I did not make the farmers market yesterday I went to the one in the next town over. It was rainy and cold, no one wanted to get out of bed. After some basics (salad, bread and goat cheese) I ceased the moment and finally start painting the ceilings. It was already on last summer’s project list, but I never got in the mood to get started. One ceiling down, three more to go. I talked to my mom and she laughed that the ‘grand-cats’ had send her a grandma card for mothers day. Tomorrow the sun’s back, colder, but I am ready for summer.