Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Ring In The New Year With A Little Humor

My favorite lolcats over the past year:

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Favorite Posts over the Past Year

Okay, I've posted a list of the top 5 most visited pages on my blog over the past year (which can be found here) and said that I would put up a list of my top 5 favorite posts. I looked them over and I came up with 11 posts which are my favorite. I like them best either for their pictures or for what they say, or both. Here they are in order from oldest to newest:

Weeping Camels

Magical Gardens

Nelson-Kennedy Ledges

Bog Walking

Our Spider Walk, or, Finding Wolf Spiders at Night

"Well-behaved women seldom make history."

How To Make A Mummy

Crab Apple Adventure

Colorful Crab Apple Jelly

In which I get lots of quality help with my leaf raking efforts

Choosing a Yule Log from the Forest

Sunday, December 28, 2008

In Defense Of Food and Tomb Raider Underworld

While waiting for Tomb Raider Underworld (a Christmas gift) to load on my computer, I have been reading In Defense Of Food (another gift).

The result is that, while anticipating all of the wonderful adventures I'll be involved in as Lara Croft, I suddenly feel the need to go out and buy a bunch of fresh broccoli.

End of year stats: My Top 5 Most Visited Posts

I started this blog back in April ('08), so the list doesn't represent a full year, but here are the top 5 most visited pages on my blog for '08, counting down from #5:

#5 - Graceling

#4 - Heart-touching video clip - Christian the Lion

#3 - Why We Need Darkness

#2 - The Pink Sari Gang

And the #1 most viewed page on my blog in '08:

#1 - Back from the battle at the end of the world - Ragnarok XXIII - with pictures

Soon I'll put up my top 5 favorite posts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jayne Cobb hat

Posts will be scarce . Busy knitting this hat:

Firefly fans will understand.

It was a gift request from my son. When Jayne pulled that hat out of the box sent by his mother and uttered the words, "A man walks down the street in a hat like that, you know he's not afraid of anything," my son said, "Mom, I can you make me that hat?"

I took the picture to the yarn shop to match colors. The girl behind the counter said that lots of people make that hat, known in knitting circles as the Jayne Cobb Hat. Visit the Smariek Knits blog for patterns and links to patterns and more pics.

And I still have to knit a scarf and another non-Jayne Cobb hat by Christmas. What am I still doing on the computer??

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vietnamese (Saigon) Cinnamon

This image from

When I was little, I would often plunk a cinnamon stick in a cup of tea and when the tea was gone, I'd eat the cinnamon stick, relishing it slowly. The sweet-hot flavor was strong and intoxicating. It was my favorite.

It had been many, many years since I had last eaten a cinnamon stick when I tried it again last year. I had made some spiced cider for a gathering by heating a pot of cider with a handful of cinnamon sticks. When the gathering was over and I was cleaning up, I came upon the cider-infused sticks in the pot. Oooh, I thought, this will be yummy!

I grabbed a stick and took a nibble. Hardly worth writing home about. I tried all of the sticks, and none of them had much oomf. Since then, I've occasionally tried a stick or two, but the experience has never been what I remembered as a child. All of the sticks have tasted almost dusty, with only an inkling of flavor - nothing like the intense burst that thrilled my tongue when I was younger. And these were McCormick cinnamon sticks, the same brand my mom used when I was little.

And then a few days ago I was reading about vanilla extract on the McCormick Spice website when I came across this Cinnamon Field Report. It describes the two sources of cinnamon McCormick uses:

Indonesian cinnamon, also known as Korintji, has a delicate flavor — warm and sweet with a touch of spicy.


Vietnamese cinnamon is from a large, older tree and yields a stronger, bolder taste profile similar to cinnamon red-hot candies. ... Vietnamese cinnamon, also known as Saigon, is the most coveted and exotic cinnamon available. Though, in America, we’ve only been able to enjoy its premium taste during the past decade, Saigon is well worth a try. The word for cinnamon in Vietnamese is que (pronounced “kway”). Saigon cinnamon has double the amount of volatile oil of Korintji. The volatile oil is what delivers the flavor and aroma — higher content means greater intensity.

Other sources say that the Vietnam war disrupted the supply of Vietnamese cinnamon to the U.S and that it has only been available again for about a decade.

I was little during and just after the Vietnamese war - in fact my cinnamon stick eating days were in the 70's. So either McCormick had a huge stock of Vietnamese cinammon and sold it throughout the 70's, or the cinnamon in my mom's spice cupboard dated from before the Vietnam war, because the cinnamon that I ate back then was definitely the Vietnamese, or Saigon, cinnamon.

How do I know? Because McCormick now sells the higher quality Vietnamese cinnamon under their Gourmet label. It's pricier than their other cinnamon. But luckily, during the holiday season, lots of spices are on sale - including McCormick's Gourmet label cinnamon sticks. I bought some today. When I opened the jar and inhaled, I smelled heaven. I nibbled a stick ... flavor exploded in my mouth. My taste buds haven't been this happy for decades! Mmmm. This is definitely the same cinnamon that intoxicated me when I was a girl.

If you like cinnamon, try the Vietnamese stuff. You'll be oh so glad that you did.