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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Snow Guy Heads for Home, with Mama Lee's Zucchini Fritter Recipe

If Sunday was a snow day, Tuesday was any kind of weather you might want. The sun shone, the wind blew. It rained, it hailed, it snowed. The sun shone again. It rained, it snowed again. At one point there was lightning and thunder (less than a mile away from us) WHILE it was snowing! Even the news station meterorologist commented on that.

If you skip down a couple of days, you'll see the Snow Guy on our front patio. With the rain and warmer temperatures, he is now on his way to his very cool home to meet up with his friends.

(Photo revised by Australian artist, Harmut Jaeger, using some of his art work)

During last week's sub-freezing weather, it seemed that soup was the answer to the chill. With temperatures near 40 today, we were in the mood for lighter fare. I keep a lot of frozen veggies for winter, but couldn't resist some small young fresh zucchini in the store the other day. So I tossed some things together to create Mama Lee's Zucchini Fritters:

For 2:
Heat about 1 T olive oil in a small skillet on medium heat
Chop about 1/2 cup onion into small pieces, add to skillet
Chop small about 1/3 cup bell peppers (I used frozen red, green, and yellow for color), add to skillet just as onion starts to soften
Grate about 1 cup fresh zucchini, add to skillet as peppers start to soften
Turn heat low
Beat 2 eggs in a medium-sized bowl.
Add salt and pepper
Grate about 1/2 cup cheddar (or other) cheese and add to eggs.
Drain the lightly-cooked veggies of any moisture, and add to egg mixture.
Sprinkle in enough flour to make it all stick together in a loose batter.

Heat a small amount of olive oil on a griddle, add a tablespoon or two of butter if desired. (Be honest - who doesn't desire butter?)
When the butter is bubbly, drop large spoonfuls of the batter to make four fritters. Fry until golden brown, turn once and fry the other side.

You could also add chopped green onion, parsley, vegetable seasoning etc. as desired.

This was yummy with some fruit on the side! (And no, I rarely use a recipe, and yes - we rarely have exactly the same thing twice.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

About the San Francisco Earthquake

A stereo view card of the Refugees' camp at the ball grounds in Golden State Park,
in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.
Many tens of thousands of residents were displaced or homeless after this great disaster.
Card published by The World Wide View Co., Photo (screened print) by Griffith & Griffith

We tend to use terms such as “steady as a rock” and “solid ground” and “down to Earth” to describe stability and immutability. But in fact, our earth is a molten ball of melted rock covered with thin slabs of solid material that float, slip, slide, ooze, fracture, sink, collide, subside and that sometimes melt, flow, and spew. Meanwhile our little planet is whirling around our sun, in a solar system that is traveling through space at incredible speed. It’s enough to give you vertigo, and reading a book such as Simon Winchester’s A Crack in the Edge of the World can make you a lot less sure of your footing.

This book (Harper Collins, 2005) is ostensibly about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. As he usually does, Winchester uses the San Francisco earthquake as the major “character” in a story that covers a great deal more – plate tectonics, the Gaia theory, seismology, and other aspects of what scientists have come to call “The New Geology” – the revision of geological theories since the mid-1960s.

Winchester undertook a journey across the North American Plate – starting in Iceland at its Eastern perimeter, and traveling across the United States to San Francisco, thence to the northern reaches of Alaska. In order to understand what all this has to do with the San Francisco earthquake, one simply needs to read the book and make the journey vicariously with Winchester, who as always imbues his story with excitement, tension, humor, human interest and anecdote. Nor is he ever afraid to give his personal reaction to a town, a person, a book, or a theory.

Although he is a consummate researcher and made use of many experts in compiling his information, I’d have to quibble with his reference to the death of David Douglas in Hawaii. Winchester relates the old pit and bull story, which was considered to be highly suspect at the time, and has since been disproved by witnesses who came forward long after the fact to testify that Douglas was murdered and tossed into the pit with the bull to simulate an accidental death.

As for the San Andreas fault, Winchester uses a train-car analogy that make a fine clear image of what happens when it generates an earthquake. And as for timing – he brings forth a persuasive argument that another slippage is overdue and likely to occur at any time, but fairly certainly within the next quarter-century or so.

I was disappointed with the inside of the dustjacket – which cleverly unfolds the way that the jacket for The Map That Changed The World does. However, whereas the “Map” jacket had a large depiction of William Smith’s beautiful map of the geology of England and Scotland, the inside of this jacket has only reproductions of some of the disaster scenes from the San Francisco earthquake. Larger renditions of the endpaper maps of the North American Plate and of American earthquakes and volcanoes (and the author’s route), plus a better “close up” of the San Andreas fault itself, would have been far more informative.

Meanwhile, I’m not taking the ground beneath my feet for granted any longer.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

How to Enjoy a Snowy Day

Snow was forecast, and snow it did. It's not all that usual for us to have more than an inch or two here in the southern Willamette Valley of Oregon, but this time it was a good five inches up here on the hill.

For some reason we got very little done today - never mind that we didn't want to drive anyplace - it was just that the snow falling in fat wet flakes was so lovely to watch from the windows.

It did feel odd not to see children out playing in it - we used to see them sledding on the steep street across from us, making snowmen, tossing snowballs. Finally in mid-afternoon the kids across the street started rolling around in it. They never accomplished a snowman though.

Gary went out to knock snow from the shrubs and small trees - it was so wet and heavy that it was bending them down. He was kind of like a kid out there, messing around in it. When he didn't come in I went out to look for him. Poor guy - he stayed out there to enjoy it for a tad too long....