Sunday, January 25, 2015

Detroit Architecture

Detroit has amazing architecture. Some of it is in ruins, some of it is restored and used daily.

Bill and I were in Detroit for the NAIAS (North American International Auto Show, or Auto show for short). As we left Cobo and headed to lunch, I was keen on taking photos from the car of some of the amazing buildings the Motor City has to offer.

I snapped these while we waited at stop lights.
 I cleverly snapped a picture of the name over the door.
 Again, I captured the name of the building. I'm so clever.
 This is the Guardian Building. 
It supposedly has an amazing lobby. "Supposedly" because I've not seen it and am told about it by everyone; mostly my husband every time we pass the building, or cross the county line into Detroit.
 Buhl Building (see, I did that so if you asked, I would know)
 The County Courthouse, behind the man walking, almost out of view. It is not currently in use.
 I was actually taking a picture of the red brick/stone building in the middle of this photograph but then I noticed the skyscraper behind it. Bonus!
This is the Presbyterian Church (?) See? I didn't take a photo of the sign and now I don't remember. 
It is a church for sure. Let's just stick with Presbyterian.

And this, this is downtown from the top of Cobo Hall. This is a photo from last year. It was gray, more gray and more shades of gray this year. 
 This is from the RenCen c. August 2013, when we were in Detroit for our anniversary. You cannot see the roof of Cobo Hall (I was hoping you could).
This is looking down from our room. You can see the line of traffic into the tunnel (to Canada), at the top of the photograph.

There are also many abandoned buildings that people flock to and refer to as "ruined porn". There are books and blogs full of photos of these buildings. 

Slowly, very slowly, it seems as though life is being breathed back into the city. There are sections of the city that are full of life and bursting with energy. Then you pass through blocks of unending blocks of burned out shells of buildings. Stately homes and neighborhoods, empty and lonely. A ghost town of the present. It's eerie and beautiful all at the same time. It feels like you're in another country, a country torn apart from war. 

Detroit has a lot to offer but it continues to be the ugly step-child. Architecture buffs, historians, and hard-working citizens don't know what to make of it. It's a good example of too much sprawl. Everyone moved to the suburbs and left the city to rot. A few stayed behind and stood their ground. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have Detroit. She's making a come-back. 

And while I won't ever make the mistake of taking the Grand River exit off of 696 where I called Bill when I got to 7-mile and he was heard throughout the Barnes & Noble screaming, "LOCK YOUR DOORS & TURN AROUND!!!" I will go to the Motor City any chance I get. I will go to Tigers games, the Auto show, and other events. I will go for delicious dinners, to visit friends, and to fly out of DTW. I will take pictures to share, to show you and everyone else that Detroit is not the ugly step-child, but the prodigal son. Returning to the former glory to celebrate the best thing that it's known for… 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Not your average hummus

Last week at work, Melanie was eating spinach and artichoke hummus.

That sounded delicious to me, so guess what I did?

I searched until I found a recipe that appealed to me. My search wasn't as easy as I had expected it to be. A lot of Spinach and Artichoke dips popped up. I had to weed through them to find the hummus version. A hummus version that didn't require baking or cooking.

I want to throw everything into the food processor and pulse it 'till it's right.

Which can only mean one thing. If I'm writing about it, I made it.

The recipe I found was on a blog. And the writer actually did suggest cooking the spinach. But, "ain't nobody got time for 'dat" so that was when I searched again and randomly picked another recipe which did not require cooking.

Back to the original recipe/blog. She suggested "popping" all of the garbanzo beans out of their shells. She said it would make for a creamier hummus.

Now I haven't made hummus since we lived in Savannah (I think) and I burned out the motor on our poor little small capacity mini food processor.

The hummus I remember making wasn't as creamy as I had hoped. This blogger said that by removing the shells your result would be a creamier hummus.


So I grabbed a bowl, the empty garbanzo bean can, and the strainer full of rinsed garbanzo beans and plopped myself in front of the tv. I watched an hour long show on the DVR in the time I shelled all the beans (two cans worth). Which means I spent forty-five minutes working on those beans.

It really wasn't that difficult to do, just a little time consuming. Actually, I found it to be slightly therapeutic; popping each bean out of the shell.

Then, I got to work making the hummus. I tried it that night and it was good. The blog suggested I let it sit overnight to let all the flavors meld. When I tried it the next day, it was even better.
I have a few friends who lovingly tease me about all the homemade things I make. Like homemade syrup (I don't tap a tree, I just use brown sugar), or homemade peanut butter.

This reminded me of the peanut butter. I shelled every single peanut. I think it took me around two hours (I wasn't paying attention, all I remember is I was watching the Olympics, I think it took around two hours though). But in that case, the results were minimal. The peanut butter was good, but the pound or two of peanuts I had shelled resulted in a teeny tiny dish of peanut butter. I'd rather pay for the natural stuff at the store.

For hummus, it's the opposite. The price of a can of beans (or for this recipe two cans) far outweighs the cost of ready-made hummus. It's the tahini that gets you at the beginning. But that too eventually pays for itself because I used all of two tablespoons for this recipe. The tahini comes in a 16oz. jar. That means I can make hummus fifteen more times.

As I think about all the additions, I start to wonder which is actually cheaper, but since I keep the other ingredients on-hand (olive oil, garlic, spinach, artichokes, salt & pepper), I'm calling it a moot point.

Then, add in all the work it takes. Shelling the beans; time-consuming but definitely made for a creamier hummus. The food processor did the rest of the work.

I think the hummus speaks for itself and I will continue making it from scratch. Which means I'll have the money to buy orange juice. But that's another post for another time.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 Shoveling and 5ks

I forgot, and I threw away my calendar before I tallied how much I shoveled in 2014. But since I kept track in 2013, I can only guess that it was at least the same if not more. I wrote about the snowfall in 2013 here.

If you read that, you'll note that I said I could keep track of it on my Fuel band. Except I wasn't very consistent because the numbers that it recorded made me feel like I wasn't really doing any work. I got a little frustrated so I just kept writing everything down on the calendar. I only kept track of shoveling twelve times on my Fuel band. I know I shoveled a lot more than that. I guess I could go look it up in my journal. I'm sure I kept track of it there.

So while I kept track of it on the calendar, I completely forgot all those numbers when I took down the old calendar and hung up the new. That wouldn't have been such a big deal because I could go fish the calendar out of the recycling. Except by the time I remembered and realized what I had done, we had just taken the recycling to the giant bin. The calendar, and all those numbers, are gone forever.

In that post, I also wrote about how many miles I ran in 2013. Well I did keep track of that on my Fuel band for 2014 and while it doesn't give me distance, it did keep track of time. I can tell you for sure that I ran eighty-three days and walked ninety-four. Which would average out to 360 miles (and that is a complete guesstimate). So that's ten miles further than 2013. At least.

And I didn't shovel (except the porch once) at all this last November because of my broken hand. Then, it didn't hardly snow in December. I have shoveled a couple of times this month, this week in fact.

I'll keep moving this year and we'll see how well I keep track of numbers.

I hope it motivates you to move!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Not your typical croutons

There are a lot of great combo's out there in regard to food.

Let's name a few:

peanut butter and chocolate

fries and burgers

cookies and milk

pasta and garlic bread

tomato soup and grilled cheese

Oh sure, there are plenty more but it's the last one I'd like to write about today.

I'm sure this won't come as a surprise to my parents to learn that I didn't like tomato soup until probably late elementary school age. And that was most likely because I had it with grilled cheese. I remember, after that, having it with kids I babysat for and they were insistent that I use milk when I made the well-known canned version. From there, tomato soup has always been in my cupboard.

As I've become more and more of a cook, I've found several from-scratch tomato soup recipes and one in particular that I have added to my regular rotation of dinners.

Grilled cheese has typically been a part of the dinner. Again, what else could possibly make tomato soup better?

There is one thing, but it's not really anything different, but it changes everything.

I was reading a magazine last year that suggested tomato soup and, wait for it…

Grilled cheese croutons!

I like adding croutons to my soups and tomato soup was no exception even when I'd have a grilled cheese with it.

But making the grilled cheese sandwich into croutons, even I was skeptical at first.

If you like dipping your grilled cheese sandwich into your bowl of soup, these croutons take it over the top. Let me assure you that it is amazing. It will change your tomato soup experience. The bread soaks up the tomato soup, but it stays crispy because it's been grilled. Delicious!

I recommend using a gouda, American, or even a Monterey Jack cheese (or a combo is also yummy). It's as simple as making a grilled cheese sandwich like normal. Then, after letting it rest so the cheese doesn't make a mess, cut the sandwich into pieces. I found that using regular sliced bread, cutting it into sixteen pieces (in half, in half again, then turn and repeat) makes the pieces just the right size.

You can make the grilled cheese croutons ahead of time and then pop them into a toaster oven to reheat it, or you can top your soup with them immediately.

I hope that next time you make some tomato soup, whether it's from a can or not, that you'll try grilled cheese croutons. It's good for your soul. Or at least your soup.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Is it a flower, a plant, or...?

What do you see?

I was just telling Bethany about this flower/plant while we were watching "The Muppet Christmas Carol".

Now what do you see?

If you didn't see Gonzo before, do you see him now? The "nose" on the flower is a bit straighter than Gonzo's nose; in fact, a few years ago I took a picture of this same type of flower/plant and it looked more like Gonzo. I don't know if that photo was on the stolen laptop, my other camera, or if it's filed away on our back-up disk.

It doesn't matter, because with a little stretch of the imagination, I think you "get the picture" (pun intended).