Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wheat Grass

"You know what the difference is between a brown thumb and a green thumb?", Maggie (my mom-in-law) asked me after I whined about not being able to keep any living plant alive for very long.

"Practice.", she said. She's right...so practice I did.

I ordered this awesome kit from wheatgrasskits.com and followed the instructions. By the way, the grass is suitable for juicing. A couple days later, the grass started to grow...


Elgy couldn't wait to nibble on the young sprouts!

Havi, on the other hand was not quite sure what to do so John thought he'd give her some tips. She refused to be a copy cat.
I was SO proud of accomplishing 4 inches of growth!



I set Maggie up with some seeds to grow for Yazzi and Bindy Sue, who love it (pictured here, taken by Maggie). Except when I finally saw the wheat grass in person, it was over 3 feet tall, LOL!!

John says he's going to capitalize on my brown thumbs to thwart the growth, if not kill, weeds in our neighbor's yard.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe

Since I've found this Whole Chicken Crock Pot recipe from RecipeZaar.com, I can't stop making it. That is because it is so easy and delicious...the meat of the chicken falls off the bone, it's moist and finger-licking good!

The recipe is basically a dry rub that goes over the whole chicken (then refrigerate the fowl overnight if you have time) and place over a bed of chopped onion to cook for 4-6 hours.



The heavenly smell of the slow-cooked chicken made our mouths water upon entering the door (and no doubt tortured our girls!). When you've been out on explorations all day, it is nice to have the main dish ready to go.

The meals are endless, served with sides or shredded to make tostadas or Arros con Pollo. YUM!!

Lost City and St. Thomas

This Sunday we journeyed to the ruins of a city established long before many civilizations (the Lost City) and a historic town once buried under water--all this right in our very own backyard!

The sign says, “Pueblo Grande de Nevada: Existing today as a 30 mile-long series of adobe ruins, this “Lost City” was once the home of an ancient Anasazi Indian Civilization. Beginning with the Basketmakers (300 B.C. - A.D. 700) & followed by the Pueblos (A.D. 700 – 1150) this valley was inhabited by a sedentary population of Anasazi farmers. They grew corn, beans, squash and cotton on the valley floor (the high ground was used for housing). Watered by the Muddy River which sources at Warm Springs, 25 miles north of here living in pithouses and later multi room adobe pueblos. These people maintained a rich culture as manifest by archaeological museum was built in 1935 to preserve the remains of the great civilization which suddenly disappeared CA. A.D. 1150, possibly due to severe, widespread drought.” –Lost City Museum. Maybe even diseases, enemies or they've exhausted the soil. Whatever lessons to be learned about surviving on this land was lost with the city.

But first, a quick stop for breakfast at Purple Fez Bistro inside the CasaBlanca Resort and Casino in Mesquite. I ordered the Deuces Bonus: 2 eggs, bacon, sausage patty, hash browns and 2 pancakes (or biscuits and gravy) for $4.49 (can't shop, cook and clean up for that!).

Then we were off to browse the Lost City Museum.


Displayed inside were baskets, pottery, cross-section miniature models of the pithouses and Anasazi pueblos, and an original excavation sight. Amazing to see the works of these amazing basket and pottery makers. Besides the little gift shop, there was lots of history on Lake Mead's Cold War legacy (a B-59 bomber on the lake floor) and a factory (to build Hoover Dam) underwater. So much to show so I've uploaded the photos to my Flickr album for Lost City and St. Thomas.

After checking out the reconstructed life-size pueblos and storage units, we drove closer towards home to the historic town site of St. Thomas, settled by Mormons in 1865.


Story has it that when the stateline shifted from Utah to Nevada, the resdients were faced with taxes in arrears payable in gold. Rather than paying, they left* and other people claimed their abandoned territories. The Hoover Dam construction and flooding forced residents to leave the town in 1935 and the town has been covered by the waters of Lake Mead until recently.

In 2003 Lake Mead water levels dropped drastically, exposing building foundations of mansions and wells (some with no guard rails so please be careful; I would not want to fall down there).

It was a fun day (and boy am I sore)!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yum Ham (Spicy Ham Salad)

Because I don't know the origin of this Spicy Ham Salad, I gave it a generic but descriptive name. All I know is the dish was always present at birthday and wedding celebrations...and I LOVED IT! It is not often that I make it but when I do, it never sits around very long.

To describe how this salad tastes, I would say "ceviche-like" in that it is salty, sour and spicy! So if that is not your taste, I won't be offended if you skip this post. If you are in the adventurous mood to try something bold, here is my recipe:

The reason I list the ingredients before the amount is because this recipe is all about proportions. Use more of what you like and less of what you dislike.

Ingredients
Vermicelli Noodles (6 to 10 oz. pack)
Ham (about 8 oz. (½ lb.) block of ham like Jennie O's or pre-sliced ham)
Onion (½ of large or 1 whole sweet or yellow)
JalapeƱos (4 to 6 seeded or unseeded, depending on your threshold for heat)
Fish sauce (¼ cup)
Garlic (3 teaspoons crushed)
Lime (1 whole, squeezed)
Lemon (1 whole, squeezed; if you don't have one or the other then make sure to have two of each)
Sugar (1 teaspoon, white)
Black pepper (1 ½ teaspoon, grounded or freshly cracked)

Vermicelli
1) Bring about 2 quarts water to a boil and turn off.
2) Soak 4 to 6 bundles of vermicelli for about 2 minutes. I like more noodles so I soak 6.
3) Drain, rinse with cold water and squeeze excess water out (or you might have mushy salad).

Cut noodles in half with sheers so the noodles are easier to eat less you wanna play out the kissing scene in Lady and the Tramp.

Thinly slice ham, onions and jalapeƱos. Combine in a bowl with vermicelli.

Whisk together
  • ¼ cup fish sauce (or less if you're not a fan of salty things like I am)
  • Garlic (3 tablespoons)
  • Juice of lime (1 whole squeezed)
  • Juice of lemon (1 whole squeezed)
  • Black pepper (1 ½ ground and/or freshly cracked)
  • Sugar (1 teaspoon)
Pour mixture into main bowl and mix. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour for juice to form. The salad gets hotter the longer you refrigerate but too long and the garlic will make the salad bland. Enjoy!!


Clouds

The sky over Las Vegas is usually a perfect, cloudless blue so whenever I see clouds, especially pretty clouds like these, I have to take a photo.






Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rally Against Budget Cuts

There was a huge rally on campus tonight against the proposed state budget cuts, 51% to UNLV alone (The governor wants to chop 2.6-percent from the K-12 budget and 36-percent of the budget for higher education, 51-percent of that cut coming out of the pockets of UNLV*.). This was too much after the last round of cuts when the state realized there will be a budget shortfall.
News of the cuts mobilized students, faculty and staff from community colleges and universities who crowded the lawn holding hand-made signs with messages like, "Legalize and tax", "Don't delete my degree", "Buck fudget cuts" and "Cut school, Increase prison".

Since I had a couple hours between work and class, I went to see the rally for myself. The issues surrounding our state's budget will affect me as a staff member and student of the university. The timing of budget cuts couldn't make for a better discussion in the class I'm taking, Higher Education Finance. I thought the class was right down my ally given my occupation, interest in finance and background in higher education.
Our semester started this past week and my class this past Thursday. Surrounded by a small group of students, all doctoral candidates, I was the only exception having only a bachelor's degree. I glanced at the outline of topics on the whiteboard: inflation, future values, ratios and economics. Great, I thought. Only through a miracle did I manage to get an associate's in economics and B.S. in finance. I never thought I'd revisit those subjects again (at least I had hoped). To be fair, I truly enjoyed math, economics and finance but they didn't like me and, sadly, were not my greatest strengths. And here I found myself facing numbers, formulas and ratios once again as they relate to higher education and institution funding.
By the end of the night, I had hoped the words of my professor would come true..."the numbers will sing to you". I hope so...because right now, they're screaming run while you can, LOL.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where’s the Chicken?

Strange … there's no chicken in this Chicken Linguine. I guess that's "Lean" Cuisine for ya, LOL!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hijacker Havi

How is that, of all the things on my desk, Havi manages to find the little cap to my flash drive? One of the many times she spotted it, the curious girl picked it up in her mouth and leaped off my desk where she then placed the cap on the floor. Resting next to it, she gingerly covered the cap with both paws as if to declare firmly, THIS is mine. Then she launched into animating her new-but-old toy-of-the-moment, jumping to and fro, batting it around like a hockey puck, LOL!!

Under normal circumstances I would have immediately taken possession of the cap to avoid a house wide search later on--only to struggle in gaining a hold of it from underneath the couch or refrigerator. This time, she was too darn cute! I didn't have the heart to deny her enjoyment from such a simple little thing.

~-Update-~
When things were too silent, I knew she had parted with the cap because it was where her paws could reach. Sure enough it was underneath a rolling drawer. Seeing that she wasn't around to beg for her toy, I reunited the cap with my flash drive.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Historic Railroad Hiking Trail

Of all the times John and I took Lakeshore Scenic Drive to launch our boat at Lake Mead Marina, we never thought to explore a hiking trail that starts at the beginning of a little parking lot before the park entrance. We've only noticed cars parked there and have always wondered about the points of interests along the path of the historic railroad hiking trail.

Upon the suggestion of John's parents, who have taken the trail a couple times, we decided to embark on a little journey of our own on President's Day. Soon our we were walking along what use to be a railroad track that began construction in 1931. The story of the railroad hiking trail is a fascinating one if you would like to read about it.


(View from parking lot)

(Start of the trail)
Being outside and taking the 7-mile round trip hike was tempting, especially since the weather was gorgeous. I looked back at the trail head where we parked upon the homes nestled in the hills of Boulder City. I wondered if John and Maggie could see us from their home.
The view of Lake Mead itself is absolutely beautiful like the ones in these blog images. Soon we reached the first tunnel of five, all which are oversized (approximately 300 ft. in length and 25 ft in diameter) to accommodate the transportation of equipment to Hoover Dam.
Most of the visitors we saw on the trail were riding mountain bikes; people of all ages were exploring the trail. Though we could have brought our bikes but I would have been too challenged to stay balanced over gravel to admire the beautiful view of Lake Mead. Click on the photo to see a larger panorama of Hemenway Harbor.
Walking through the tunnels felt like we were in the movie, Stand By Me, running away from home.

Boy would we have been a couple of unhappy kids if we were actually running away from home, LOL.

We went through several more tunnels before we found ourselves on the top level of the parking lot for Hoover Dam. (The last part of the trail zizags down ramps to the parking area so bicycles are not allowed.) The shot below is a panorama of Hoover Dam and construction of the highest bridge in the U.S. and second highest in the world at 1,500 feet above sea level.


On our way back to the entrance of the trail, we parked on a rock to have a picnic and watched the traffic to Arizona pass by.

(Can you spot John camouflaged among the rocks, LOL?)


Then it was time to head home and dust ourselves off.


A nice hot bath was in order and boy, oh boy was I sore from the hike for the next couple of days!