Them is fightn words

About once a week for the last month or so I’ve been in a room full of people from all walks of life and I’ve brought up Wikipedia as an information resource and it’s validity.
I would strongly suggest you do the same and then ponder what you witness. The observation of this disruptive site in the eyes of about 100 people has been one of the most facinating things I’ve ever observed.

Come on ya’ll, give it a try and let me know what you see when you do.

The value of a hand made thing


I got a package from my Mom today.  In it was this knit hat and the following note:

Like her mother and grandmother before her, she’s been knitting things for us.  In a world where you can buy a knit hat like this for a dollar, I cannot stress the significance of a hand made item.  Think for a second about wearing something that your mother touched every inch of.  Stitched every stitch. My Mother MADE the thing that’s keeping my head warm.  Because she made it, I have a connection with her through my hat, and there’s absolutely nothing silly about that.

Behind my parents couch is a basket.  In it is two knit blankets.  One made by my Mother’s mother, and one made by her Grandmother.  Both of those women were simple people, but a small peice of their work lives on in something they made by hand 30 years ago.

I’m the oldest of my parents children.  I’m the only one that remembers my great grandmother.  My daughter is the oldest of all of my parents Grandchildren, and only she remembers my grandmother. My Brother, Sister, Son, and 3 Nephews stay warm in the winter in my parents house through the work of two women in the 1970’s that they never knew.

The next time you think about buying something you can make, make it instead.

A hat you buy at WalMart for a dollar is a commodity.  A hat you make for someone is an investment in your legacy, and a priceless gift.

Thanks Mom

THE Recipe: Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

Hello Everybodies!
This is Julie, Michael’s wife. I’ve hacked* his site because I need to tell y’all something. Something very important.

Something important about cookies. These cookies, actually.

They’re very important. Exceedingly important.

 

They contain elements from the three major food groups: liquor, chocolate and bacon.

You see what I mean? Don’t be a Scrooge. Make the cookies.

The fate of Tiny Tim rests in your hands.

 

The things you’ll be needin’:

16 ounces of nice and fatty bacon
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted and chilled to room temp
1/2 cup bacon grease, chilled to room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark Whisky (or substitute with a nice bourbon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chopped up into wee bits, your preference)

The stuff you’ll be doin’ with ’em:

We begin with bacon. Cut it up into square pieces, 1/4″ to 1/2″ squares or there abouts. They’ll get smaller as you cook them.

Get out your bacon frying pan or griddle or whatever tickles your fancy. You might want to take this part slow, because it’s gets a little crazy here.

Isn’t it a little early to be crazy? No, it’s more efficient this way. Shutup.

Keep the heat on low. Now while you’re slowly cooking your bacon, you’re going to want to drain the fat that comes off of it and pour it into a measuring cup. (be careful here, don’t spill. Also, very hot bacon grease and cold glass do not mix, so don’t, like, refrigerate your glass measuring cup or something and then pour bacon grease in it. It won’t be pleasant.)

You can stop draining your bacon when you get about a 1/2 cup of it. If you get less, don’t worry about it, you’ll just add more butter later.** Toss any extra. Put the bacon grease in the fridge for it to cool off for a few minutes.

Finish cooking your bacon until it’s nice and crispy. Not burnt, mind you, just crispy. Set it aside on a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool. If you have any bigger bacon bits, this is a good time to scrunch them up until they are all about 1/4″² or so. (smaller is ok, too.)

Melt your butter in a sauce pan. Don’t boil it or anything, just make it liquid. Then let it cool off with the bacon until it’s about room temp.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. (The Google tells me this is equal to 176.67º C. That’s pretty darn particular, Google.)

Sift the “dry” ingredients together in a smallish mixing bowl. (flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder)

Put the cooled butter and chilled bacon fat in your mixer bowl. Add the white sugar, brown sugar, whisky and vanilla, cream it until it is well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time- this is why it’s important that you chilled your fat. Hot fat + raw eggs= omelette. Ew.

Gradually beat in your “dry” mix.

Stir in the cooked bacon pieces and chocolate bits. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets at least 3″ apart.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until they turn into a golden brown, chewy, salty and sweet cookie with a bite of bacony excellence. It’s magic!

 

This will make about 3 dozen cookies, but for sake of my thighs, I’ve only made three tonight.***

 

Put three cookies on your Mr. Face plate. Snarf down two of them immediately.

 

Then make hair for Mr. Face with the last cookie.

Then eat his face.

Then dance.

Lovels to you all,

JD

* By “hacking”, I mean I asked him for his password and he was crazy enough to give it to me.

** The goal here is to have a full cup of fat. So if you only squeezed 1/3 of a cup of fat from your bacon, you’re going to want to melt 2/3 of a cup of butter now.

*** Refrigerate your leftover dough; it should keep for up to 5 days or so.

We’re moving because of the people we become when we’re where we’re going

We’re moving.
We just got back from a holiday weekend at my parents house.  Long time residents of the Chicago area, two years ago they built their dream home in North Carolina, picked up their lives and moved to the mountains.  They spent quite a bit of time during the process and some time after the move wondering if this was the right decision. It was a bold move that many of us don’t ever have the courage to take.

I’ve always loved Western North Carolina.  I was first in the Asheville area in 1994, just months after moving to Andrews Air Force Base. I’ve talked about moving there ever since.  There’s something about the outdoors, mountain rivers and the people that keeps drawing me there.

Having my parents there is a huge draw, but that’s not the real reason we’re moving.

We like who we become whenever we spend more than a few days there.

Our kids are now 12 and 15.  They are typical intelligent and thoughtful people, but like Julie and I, are often drawn into the busy suburban life.  They bicker like good siblings should, but it sometimes gets nasty.  They have a hard time finding interesting things to do because it’s easier to be entertained than entertain yourself.

We often find ourselves stuck in the race with everyone else in America. Suburbia beckons us to “Do MORE and DO IT NOW!”.  We spend our lives running as fast as we can. We’re rich (if you have cable TV you’re RICH btw), well fed, and miserable.

The last few trips to the Asheville area have left us different people.

Our kids find themselves mentoring other people. They go for walks and discover the world.  They talk, and THINK. They spend time learning from the adults around them, and teaching us about their fresh perspective on the world.  They talk to each other (yeah okay, that’s weird).

All four of us find a creative boost that only the connection with nature and disconnection from suburban life allows.

On the trip home we were stuck in holiday traffic. Our 6 hour trip turned into 11.  That’s enough to melt ANY sibling relationship down into a slobbering mess, but it didn’t happen.  They remained patient and understanding and it’s spilled over into today.

We’ve started the process of moving.  It will take us about a year before we can call a mover.  We’d appreciate your support and understanding as we try and make this dream we’ve talked about for years come true.

My parents “next door” neighbors own a white water rafting company.  Their bumper sticker says “Living the DREAM” and that sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

An update on my book

I’ve been working on a book for about 2 months now with a working title “A New Kind of Hero”.
It was originally going to be entirely based on the Google Lunar X PRIZE but has been broadened in scope a little (okay, a lot) to include heroes outside of that particular competition.  This was necessary to keep the theme of the book in focus.

Answers to some FAQs that I’m getting:

  • I’m not sure if I’ll announce who the people who will be featured before the book is finished
  • I do not have a publisher.  I’m planning to be creative in publishing, but would certainly entertain talking to a traditional publisher.
  • The timeframe for the the manuscript to be complete is sometime in February 2011 with a target publish date of the end of March 2011.
  • If you’re a fan of Evadot, then you’ll be familiar with the feel of this book.  The book is really an extension of many of the ideas we’ve explored in writing and on the podcast.