Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Doctor Who: the visual by DK Publishing.
As always, the books I am exposed to are strictly at the mercy of my child’s whims. I feel pretty lucky, then, that my boy has pretty good taste. I have never been forced to recount those Disney stories, like Cars or anything about the dread purple shall-not-be-named dinosaur.
Thanks to my impulse purchase of a couple little Doctor Who figurines, my kid has developed a fascination by this newly trendy BBC science fiction. Unfortunately for him, this insanely awesome, flashy, full of weird monsters and robots and aliens show is TOTALLY inappropriate for a four-year-old. The old enemy of the Doctor, those weird metallic creatures, the Daleks, (one of the figurines I got was a Dalek) are cool looking and murderous. I can’t show him alien robots killing dozens of people!
To appease him, I tracked down a song from the 80’s about Doctor Who, and picked up this visual dictionary from the library. For hardcore nerds, this might be insufficient information; it mostly focuses on the last couple seasons of the series. For normal people, this visual dictionary, full of big full-color photos and brief descriptions of just about every aspect of the show, is fun to look at and far less scary for a kid than the show. And he gets to walk around shouting, “EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!” without being exposed to actual human extermination.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Okay, I know that this is a very regionalist show to be writing about. But maybe your neck of the woods has a similar show. I am also using this as an excuse to celebrate the new development that PBS now has a channel on Roku! (Really, I’m not paid to sponsor them; I consider it poor man’s cable so any new developments are noteworthy to me.) What’s great is that all the nationally broadcast shows are available any time for DVR-less folk such as myself as well as local programming! For me, this means Oregon Field Guide.
OFG is one of those shows for me that is like a big comfy blanket you wrap around yourself to feel safe. If the outside world is too noisy and stressful, watch a piece about Oregon’s brown pelican population, or the oak prairies of the Willamette Valley. Watch people canoe in the sun. It’s lovely. They also address a lot of important issues, such as invasive species and habitat destruction. These are hot-button issues in Oregon.
If you live outside of Oregon, you really ought to see if there is a similar program in your area. Otherwise, you can go to OPB.org and stream some episodes from the comfort of your own big comfy blanket.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
Most of us don’t enjoy getting out of bed early every morning. Even when you do get to catch that coveted thirty extra minutes of sleep on the weekend, starting your day often seems like more of a chore than it should otherwise be. After all, we ought to cherish every day we get to spend with our friends, family, and loved ones, right? Right! Just after I hit snooze a couple more times….
I’ll admit that I’m one of the worst when it comes to waking up in the morning, especially if it isn’t for anything new and exciting like catching a red-eye to kick off a fun vacation, or getting in line early at a hot new brunch spot. But why is that? I’m certainly capable of waking up in the morning, I just don’t want to. Many of you probably suffer from this same problem, which I have decided is mostly due to a lack of motivation (or caffeine).
Motivation is a very powerful thing and while everyone has different incentives that get them out of bed, I wanted to share with you one of the main things I’ve come to look forward every morning: coffee.
A lot of people already drink coffee in the morning, but I never could. I simply cannot drink the regular hot drip-brewed coffee for the life of me. It does worse to my stomach than eating a whole jar of jalapenos soaked in Tabasco sauce and doing a belly flop into a cold pool (not even waiting the requisite 15 minutes after eating). As you can imagine, this means that coffee has never been a big part of my morning routine. However, I’ve discovered that I can drink espresso (and cold-drip) by the gallon without any problems at all. In fact, I’ve learned that there are a number of other people whom share a similar experience. Wish-you-could-be coffee drinkers, rejoice!
While espresso usually means an expensive coffee machine or a quick visit with your local barista, it doesn’t have to; you can make great-tasting espresso right on your stovetop.
A Moketta (Moka Pot) is a little Italian style coffee maker. You simply fill it with water and espresso grinds, and put it on your hot stove. In about minute’s time, you have a fresh shot of espresso (or two or five, depending on the size of your Moketta). Order a couple tins of Italian espresso grinds like Lavazza or illy, and you’re all ready for the full experience. It’s surprising just how good of an espresso a Moketta makes. So good that it’s forever ruined the burnt taste of Starbucks.
Now, there are a lot of people out there who likewise swear by the French Press method of making coffee. While French Press coffee is good, it’s just a bit messy for me.
So why does coffee work such miracles in the morning? Part of it is due to the caffeine, and the other part is due to the caffeine. But seriously, I really like the taste of coffee and I’ve come to look forward to it in the morning, which is an ideal time to enjoy it. On the occasional weekend you can even replace the sugar with a splash of Kahlua. Now you’ve really got a cup of something special to look forward to! Don’t drink coffee? Teas and Yerba Maté provides you with an alternative caffeine fix.
In any event, everyone has a different reason for getting up in the morning: coffee, a hot shower, the fear of missing work and not being able to pay the bills on time—whatever. So, what gets you out of bed in the morning? Are you fortunate enough to have been born a morning person, or have you created a carrot (or a stick) for yourself? Let us know in the comments below.
Post by Alison Hein.
Grave oversight! There are no potato recipes on this blog. Crispy, salty, buttery potatoes are the foundation of the perfect breakfast. Only my waistline prevents me from potato-gorging on a daily basis. 😉
Maybe twice-baked potatoes were your favorite childhood Thanksgiving treat, or perhaps later you preferred “loaded skins,” smothered with sour cream, bacon and cheddar cheese and backed with an icy cold beer. Historically, people love to stuff (and eat) potatoes. In 1876, Estelle Woods Wilcox recommended topping “Potatoes in Jackets” with breadcrumbs and cheese. Filling choices are wide open and limited only by one’s imagination.
So, crack an egg into the pillowy center of your stuffed potatoes. Add smoky paprika and bake them nice and hot. Strew with fresh chopped chives for some green crunch and a bit of sharpness. Grab your fork and let the yolk of the egg mix with the buttery, salty, smoky potatoes for a twice-baked breakfast in bed that’s worthy of gorging.
1 Russet potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 tablespoons milk or cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon paprika
Fresh chopped chives
Preheat oven to 375°. Scrub potato thoroughly to remove all dirt from skin. Allow to dry fully. Using a sharp-tined fork, pierce several holes in the potato to allow to cook evenly. Coat potato with olive oil and sea salt. Wrap in aluminum foil, and bake until cooked through but firm, about one hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool. This step can be done the day before.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350°. Slice potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out insides of potato halves, leaving enough potato intact to support the skin. Place scooped potato in bowl. Add butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash or beat until smooth but still somewhat thick. Place a portion of the mashed potato back into the scooped–out skin. Make a raised border around the potato edges with the remainder of the mashed potato, leaving a hollow in the potato large enough for the egg. Sprinkle with paprika, retaining some to use later. Place stuffed potatoes into a baking dish. Crack eggs one at a time into a separate small dish, then slide gently into the mashed-potato hollow. Bake at 350° until egg white is fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with remaining paprika, garnish with chives and serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
King Midas: the Golden Touch by Demi
Today’s bedtime story comes to us from the lands of ancient Greece and from the skilled hands of Demi, who has authored and illustrated loads of great books, most, if not all, are either biographies of spiritual leaders, (Muhammad, St. Francis, Rumi, etc.) or retellings of folklore from around the globe. We grabbed one of the latter on our most recent trip to the library, the story of King Midas.
I thought I knew the story pretty well: Midas made Apollo (or someone) happy and they granted him a wish. As we all know, the foolish king wished for the golden touch. I never realized that this was just the end of the story! Turns out that FIRST Midas angered Apollo, who gave him donkey’s ears. (I had thought that was part of a Grimms’ fairy tale.) And the LATER he please Dionysus, who granted him the fateful wish.
Anyways, if you haven’t been exposed to Demi, she does really great retellings of tales, both well-known and obscure. In King Midas, she does a great job of mirroring the style of ancient Greek imagery. It’s not too short and not too long and a story which is sure to captivate kids. Imagine turning your child to gold on accident! Whoopsy!