Monday, August 23, 2010

Home Improvements

An old saying goes something along the lines of he who owns a home is always coming out of a hardware store.  How incredibly true that is!

Since moving into the new house, we haven't gone crazy, but we've gotten some stuff done here and there.

Old Fridge
First was the fridge.  The one that came with the house was pretty small (maybe 3/4 size?) and didn't have a lot of shelves or drawers.  You can see by the photo that it didn't even fill the space that was available.  Please also note that the wine bottles are decorative and were accumulated over time :)  So I posted it up on craigslist and got it the heck out.

New Fridge
Also from craigslist, we got a new (to us) fridge.  We watched the average price and waited for just the right deal.  The fridge we got needed a little work from a service man but when you put the upfront cost together with the cost of the service call, as well as the money we got from the old fridge, we were still quite happy with the deal we got.  The new fridge was an off-white color (the color that the handles are in the photo) and we really wanted it to be white.  So we got some appliance paint from Lowes and went to town on that bad boy.  I was quite pleased with the turn out!


You may have noticed in picture of the new fridge above that the cabinet above is missing.  We decided to move that over the stove so that we could hang a new microwave under it.  This was quite a project actually and we learned a lot.  But in the end, we're very happy with it and it is nice having a microwave that doesn't take up extra counter space.  You can't tell but this project came

 complete with learning how to install a new outlet (located inside the cabinet) for the microwave.

A simple but very useful project is pictured below.  It doesn't look like much but it is a compost bin. There are lots of expensive and complicated bins out there but, given the simplicity of this one, no one who has space for one has a reason for not having one, using this model.  The one thing I still want to do is cut a large hole in the plywood cover and install some small-hole chicken wire so that the compost can breathe better.  All in good time.

Compost Bin

The other project worth mentioning is the dog door.  We had one in the house we lived in before that and I think we (and the dogs) were spoiled by it.  So we got one and went through the hassle of switching doors around, cutting a hole in the door,  etc.  But it was well worth it.

Lucy coming in from the porch

It should also be noted that, in addition to house projects, Leni has gotten lots done down in the garage.  I won't even pretend to know what all of it is but he spends time down there and every time I peak in, he seems to be happily busy.

Here's to continued productivity!

Keep It Real!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A New Mexico Tradition

Certain states are known for particular things.  Iowa has its corn.  Wisconsin has its cheese.  Georgia has its peaches.  Illinois has its honest governors.  In case you weren't aware, New Mexico is proud of its green chiles.

About half way through the journey between here and my parents' home in Tucson, AZ, we pass through a tiny town (less than 2000 people) called Hatch, NM.  Hatch is where many if not most of New Mexico's green chiles are harvested.  This is one of my favorite signs in Hatch that we pass:

Hatch, NM
Leni and I have been cooking with green chiles ever since we arrived in New Mexico and until this point, we've been limited to frozen ones.  It is now, however, chile season!  At the store, green chiles can be purchased in bulk.  It's fantastic.   

Today was green chile day at the Moore house.  After church, we went to the store, and bought a 30 lb bag of hot green chiles (we don't mess around here).

After paying for them inside the store, we took them outside where a nice man placed them in a giant roaster to roast them up.  I won't try to explain how wonderful the place smells.  Just trust me that it is heavenly.

When the chiles were done roasting (10 minutes maybe?), we took them home and got to work.  The skins needed to be peeled off.  We placed them in a bath of ice water which really helped.  The skins came off much easier than when we tried without the ice water.  I would sit at the table and peel them and then Leni would come get them and rinse them in the sink to get final skin remnants and seeds off.

Notice lack of goatee...happens every summer

Once the chiles were completely peeled and rinsed, the final step was to place them in bags for freezing.

We are now set for many months of cooking with fresh green chiles as opposed to the canned stuff from the grocery store.

In case anyone is wondering, this truly was time-consuming project.  Including a break for Leni to mow before it started raining, and about a combined hour's worth of phone calls I took, this process took us between 6 and 7 hours.  Ridiculous.

Of course we had to try them out!  For dinner, we tried a burrito recipe from our Green Chile Bible cookbook.  I really enjoyed it.  Check it out here!

Keep It Real!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Both Sides of the Issue: A Follow Up

Note: If you have not read my blog post from earlier this month, Can't Keep Quiet, you should read it before continuing on in this particular post.

A friend from my old stomping grounds in Wisconsin recently started a blog.  We here at Snack for Later wish to extend a warm welcome to former camper, fellow Camp Gray Staff Alum, and author of the new blog, Its Hard to be Humble.

The first post from Its Hard to be Humble was a response to my aforementioned blog post, Can't Keep Quiet, which dealt with my opinion of the Vatican's stance on the ordination of women in the Catholic Church.  Although our points of view still differ, I did find the response to be well written and clearly thought out.  Even in my disagreement, I can still appreciate an author who can state his or her side of an issue and still be respectful.

That being said, in my own quest toward humility, I thought it only appropriate that I make this other point of view available to my readers.  If anyone is interested in the response to my post from a well-educated seminarian of the Catholic church, it can be found here.

May this reading and the convictions of your own heart lead you to your own opinion, both in this matter and all others (because hey...election season is upon us!)

Keep It Real!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Save a Cow, Eat a Vegetarian

I like meat.  Plain and simple.

And I'm fairly broad in my definition of "meat" as compared to others.  If it grows off bones of a living creature, it is meat.  This includes beef, pork, chicken, fish, you name it.

The older I get, however, the more meat grosses me out.  I'm not saying that a juicy cut of steak doesn't sound good right now, because it does.  But the more I learn about how animals are raised and treated in typical farms and feed lots, the less I can stomach the products that come from those places.  

Loyal Snack for Later readers may remember a rant I had on the blog almost exactly a year ago having to do with how horribly chickens are treated before showing up in your freezer.  This year, it's all about beef.  For the last few years, the only red meat that has been in my house has been venison shot by Leni's dad in Texas.  Now that we live farther away from that source, Leni's getting excited to apply for some hunting tags here in New Mexico, as soon as our residency allows him to do so.  In the mean time, we've run out of ground venison (still got some sausage!) and are looking for other options.

Store bought beef just isn't an option.  Let's consider, for a moment, the life of a cow in your typical ranch that raises mass amounts of cows for the beef industry.  If it survives its life as a calf and avoids the veal slaughter, a cow will eat a mixture that is mostly corn and hormones.  The hormones will help the cow grow disgustingly huge so that it will yield more marketable beef.  Ever seen a bunch of cows break into a cornfield to bust into the corn crop?  Probably not.  In all likelihood, if you've seen anything eating corn in the natural world, it was either birds or humans.  The truth is that corn doesn't provide the nutrients that cows need.  But because it helps the hormones in growing the cow beyond what its body was designed to be, it all of the sudden becomes a "good" thing to feed cows.  In addition and as you might expect, the corn makes the cows unhealthy and as a result they, belch and pass gas  - A LOT, which releases methane into the atmosphere.  

Methane is 23 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.  A single cow raised as described above can produce 26-53 gallons of methane per day.  This is about equal to that of a car that is used for a round trip work commute and errand-running in just one day.  How many cows are contributing to this?  Glad you asked!  1.5 billion.  You do the math.

I'm not evening touching on how inhumanely these animals are treated, either in life or in death.  Mostly because I'm an animal lover and can't handle the photos that the research would yield.  But I know what happens and it is horrific in most cases.

I know there are doubters out there.  I can actually think of a couple readers of Snack for Later who probably don't buy into this.  Think about this though: today on two separate news shows, there were stories about children in the U.S. hitting puberty many years earlier than they should.  Seven and eight year olds are going through this process at a ridiculous young age before they are socially and emotionally ready, let alone physiologically.  Early puberty also increases the risk of cancer, even for these young children.  Experts are still defining the causes of this but are saying that chemicals and hormones from our food are major contributors to this issue.  

So to all of you who poke fun at these concepts, I encourage you to look into it for yourself.  If you are going to knock something, at least be educated about it (which, by the way, is my general opinion of politics as well).  I just bought 60 lbs of organic, grass-fed cow from Soaring Eagle Ranch, less than 100 miles from where I live.  While you are worsening your health by gorging on fatty, chemical-enhanced, hormone-pumped fractions of animal,  I'll be taking meat out of my freezer that I know will be good for my health, not detrimental to it.

Leni loading up the freezer!

On one of the aforementioned news shows, Dr. Frank Biro, Director of Adolescent Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital was asked what can be done at the home level to prevent the problems created by early puberty.  His answer: "start living green".  

That seems to be the answer to a lot of problems these days.

Keep It Real!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Can't Keep Quiet

To say that I'm slightly disgusted right now would be an understatement.

Most Snack for Later perusers know that, although I am a cradle Episcopalian, I worked in Catholic youth ministry via two Catholic camps for 10 years.  While the two different denominations overlap in beliefs in more places than they disagree, there are, indeed, some points of division.  Over the years, there were, on very few occasions, times when I disagreed with the stance of the Catholic church.  But as I said, those situations came up pretty rarely and, knowing what my role was, I generally just kept my mouth shut and it wasn't a problem.

These days, no Catholic organization signs my paycheck.  And even if they did, I wouldn't be able to contain the feelings of discontent I have over an issue I heard about today.

Last month, the Vatican revised its procedures regarding how to deal with the priest abuse scandals as well as the bishops who try to cover them up.  That's fantastic.  Three cheers for that.  What I'm not cheering on, however, is the fact that Pope Benedict XVI added a caveat to the statement that was produced.  It said that the ordination of women is a "grave crime" that is on par with pedophilia and would be subject to the same procedures and punishments that will be doled out for sexual abuse.

I am absolutely horrified by this.

I'm not one to tell the Catholic church how to conduct itself.  Who is eligible for ordination is one of the beefs I have with Catholicism but I always dealt with that before by simply not being Catholic.  I believe that eligibility for ordination should be determined by prayerful discernment, not gender or marital status.  That, among other things, makes the Episcopal church a pretty good fit for me and so long as others respect that, there isn't a problem.  For that reason, I've always respected the different rules in the Catholic church, even if I disagreed with them.

So it is fine with me if that particular denomination does not ordain women.  What bothers me, however, is the negative point to which the ordination of women has been elevated in the past few weeks.  To say that a woman, who is giving completely of herself to serve her Church, is to be compared with someone who abuses another soul in the most shameful and vial way possible is utterly asinine.  I can't think of a worse insult.

I'm proud to go to a church that has, on its clergy staff, two female priests.  Give it another six weeks and it'll be three.  I dearly love all three of these women and can see how much better our church is for having them and the niches that they fill.  To say that their ordinations (whether or not they are in the Catholic church) are no better than a man I personally know who is currently in prison for sexual conduct with a 5-year-old makes me so angry I can only laugh for lack of not knowing what else to do.

Having worked in Catholic youth ministry for as long as I have, it is safe to say that most of my friends are Catholic.  I've talked to a few and have found that all of them are as disgusted by these Vatican statements as am I.  I think it is probably fair to assume that most Catholics in general feel this way.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female;  for you are all one in Christ Jesus."    ~ Galatians 3:28

If anyone is in the area and has some time, come get this soapbox.  I can't seem to get off of it.

Keep It Real!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Weddings: Los Alamos Edition

The past weekend was a whirlwind.

It all started back in the summer of 2005. It was my last summer at Camp Gray in Wisconsin (sigh). On staff that year was a goofy guy by the name of Nick Simson. He was silly and humorous and an all around good guy. When I saw him at a college friend's wedding in Flagstaff, a week or two after camp finished, I was caught off guard. Why am I seeing this kid at an event with a whole other circle of friends. It was like my worlds were colliding. I had forgotten: he was a student at NAU and friends with some people I'd known when I had been a student there myself years earlier. Weird, but cool.

I saw him again at my brother and sister's wedding a year later. Less of a surprise but I never imagined I would see him ever again.

Until he asked my sister-in-law's sister, Eleanor Aldrich, to marry him.

If you are playing at home and keeping track, the answer is "yes". The Aldrich sisters are now both married to guys named "Nick". This should make for some confusing conversations later.

Nick and Eleanor (are you keeping up?) live in Tennessee. Their families both live in Arizona. So naturally, they decided to get married right here in Los Alamos, NM where I live, so as to make this a simpler event for me to attend. In reality, the Aldrich family has roots in Los Alamos, so it wasn't that much of a shocker that they chose this as their wedding venue.

On Thursday before the wedding, Leni and I headed down to Albuquerque where the respective Bachelor and Bachelorette parties were hosted by Nick and Claire Porter, the Best Man and Maid of Honor. We headed back very late to Los Alamos that night so that we'd be there in the morning when my parents arrived. There were many wedding-prep projects to do on Friday leading up to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner later that night.  Not to mention all the decorating that had to be done the morning of the wedding.

The wedding venue was the rose garden around an old lodge right downtown. Fuller Lodge used to be part of the boys' school that was here in Los Alamos before it was appropriated by the US government so that the lab could be built here (briefly mentioned in a previous post). Now, the lodge, and the surrounding property is an historic landmark of Los Alamos County. My dad officiated. The wedding was held at 11am in an effort to avoid afternoon monsoons. It was beautiful and more importantly, everything was just what the bride wanted. I could have done without the direct, hot sunlight.  In fact, here's a tip.  If you don't want me at your wedding but feel as if etiquette requires me to have an invitation, make it an outdoor wedding.  I'm pretty much done with that.  If you do want an outdoor wedding and want me to be there, have it in a pool.  

After being at the lodge from 7am-3pm yesterday, I was ready for a nap when I got home.  Many congrats to Nick and Eleanor and I hope to see them next time they visit the Southwest to see family!

The fun continues!  Currently residing at our house, including regular residents and guests, are 6 people and 8 dogs.  I'm thinking of it as revenge on our neighbors who don't control their yappy dog.  

Keep It Real!