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Posted by on Jul 15, 2013 | 3 comments

DIY Kids: The Popcorn Taste Test

DIY Kids: The Popcorn Taste Test

On my day hosting Camp Del Ray (our 5-day, 5-family summer camp co-op), in addition to the DIY bubble wand activity, I conducted a popcorn taste test as a combined activity and afternoon snack. I thought up four different toppings both savory and sweet, and one I figured would for sure challenge their palates. In secret, I got the toppings ready:  evaporated milk and dried dill (top) – the more challenging of flavors, sprinkles (right), Heath bar (bottom), Mac ‘n Cheese powdered cheese (left). I made a big pot of plain popcorn on the stove and while it was almost done, melted butter in the microwave. The butter helped the ingredients stick to the popcorn, like the sprinkles. I then put a little of each kind on a plate with a piece of paper next to it, to use for voting.  This is number one, the “dill dip” topping. The kids each took a turn trying each one, one after another, and marking a tally for “Yes” or “No”...

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Posted by on Jul 3, 2013 | 2 comments

A Picnic Perfect Yard Sale Find

A Picnic Perfect Yard Sale Find

I bought these 3-tiered stainless containers at a yard sale this Spring, thinking they were too cool to pass up – a convenient rationalization for buying yet another yard sale treasure. When we were invited to hear a concert on the lawn at Wolf Trap, Matt and I decided we’d put the container to perfect use by making accompaniments to the bread, cheese, and salad our friends said they’d bring. In one container, I drizzled a bit of balsamic vinegar over some basil from our garden, a few heirloom tomatoes, and Rainier cherries, pitted and cut in slices. I put the remaining whole cherries in another container, over a few ice cubes to keep them chilled on the drive. Matt used some of the basil to make a pesto, with garlic, olive oil and walnuts to go in the last of the three containers. I was surprised by the depth and diameter of each section and the volume of food we could carry in each. There’s a set of...

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Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 | 0 comments

Michael and Jordan’s Home Brew and DIY Kegerator

Michael and Jordan’s Home Brew and DIY Kegerator

The urge to make beer at home seems a logical next step for someone who likes to drink craft beer as much as Michael does. He became a home-brewer by investing about $500 in the supplies and storing the beer in recycled beer bottles and growlers. He makes a new batch of beer about every other month, and also brews ciders. Jordan brought delicious bottles of their home-brewed hard apple cider to our recent food swap. When Michael’s parents remodeled their kitchen and their old refrigerator came available, Michael decided to up his game and install a kegerator. Jordan was dubious at first about adding a huge appliance to a small, unfinished basement room, where their basement bathroom didn’t even have walls yet. But she eventually relented after Michael said she could paint the front with chalkboard paint. It’s a great way to list the ciders and beers they have on tap and the dates they hooked them up. What is a kegerator? Quite simply, it’s a refrigerator modified...

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Posted by on Jun 27, 2013 | 0 comments

Summer Perfection: Rum-Soaked Cherry Cocktail

Summer Perfection: Rum-Soaked Cherry Cocktail

I came home with a jar of rum-soaked “cherry bombs” from the Spring Del Ray Food Swap, so I challenged Matt, my husband and in-house mixologist, to create a cocktail starring this delicious, hand-made maraschino liquor. He first put two cocktail glasses in the freezer to chill and then pulled out a decent all-purpose rum. He juiced one grapefruit and a lime. Then measured out 1 full ounce of grapefruit juice and 1.5 ounces of fresh lime juice and poured the juices into a mixing glass. He added roughly 1 teaspoon of super fine sugar to the juices. And poured in 1 ounce of the maraschino liqueur. He put ice in the shaker. And 4 ounces of rum over top of the ice. And shook the entire mix for about 10 seconds. He strained the mix into the chilled cocktail glasses. Last, he garnished each one with one of the soaked (and quite potent) cherries. Matt based this cocktail on the recipe for a Hemingway Daiquiri, or “Papa Dobles,” as they...

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Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 | 0 comments

Birthday Cupcakes from the Furloughed Fed

Birthday Cupcakes from the Furloughed Fed

When Leslie and I met Danielle during the tour of her amazing DIY home renovation (part 1 and part II of her story can be found here) we didn’t know the EPA attorney had a secret talent — baking and cake design! And, she’s making a part-time job of it. As a federal employee faced with the furlough, she wanted something to do to make up for the loss of income and extra time, so why not make some money doing what you love. The discovery of Danielle’s talent came at an opportune time as I was also looking for a special cake for my husband Mark’s birthday. Logistically, I knew I wouldn’t be able to surprise him with homemade cupcakes, so I gave Danielle a call. Since Mark is the assistant coach of our son’s baseball team (and a huge baseball fan as well), I decided cupcakes resembling baseballs made sense. The plan was to bring them with us to Cinema Del Ray where we were meeting friends for a picnic...

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