Day 88

I went for a walk in the beautiful spring weather today and snapped some photos. I went through the Shakespeare Garden behind Tech, and there were a lot of good photos, but actually the one that kept catching my eye was one of the clocktower I snapped on my way home.

Day 87

First Tuesday Night Dinner of Spring Quarter!

Rachel made vegetable risotto and I made dessert. I attempted to recreate an Engadiner Nut Torte I had over break. It was a fairly successful recreation, although it ended up with more liquid caramel in the center. I might try tweaking the recipe a bit next time to reduce the amount of caramel and also mixing the nuts 50/50 with walnuts and pecans. Also, caramel is so much easier to make than I thought. It just requires a lot of patience and a lot of faith. But really if you just put sugar in a pot with a tiny bit of water it turns into caramel eventually.

Anyway, recipe after the photo.

Photo of the Day

* 2 ½ cups sugar
* 2 ¼ cups shredded walnuts
* 1 1/3 cups cream
* 1 tbsp honey
* 4 cups white flour
* 1 cup softened butter
* 1 egg
*1 pinch of salt
*1/4 cup water
*dash nutmeg
*dash cinnamon

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and flour in large mixing bowl. Add butter, salt, and egg and mix (hands work best). Add water as necessary to achieve pastry consistency. Divide dough into 2/3 chunk and 1/3 chunk and refrigerate while preparing filling.

Put 1 and 3/4 cup white sugar in medium sauce pan and add 1 or 2 teaspoons of water. Heat on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Caramel will form in about 30 minutes or less. Sugar begins to brown at first, then melts, forming amber colored liquid.

Remove from heat and add honey and cream. Return to heat and boil approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat again and add nuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take dough out of refrigerator and roll out to approximately quarter inch thickness. Spray pie pan with grapeseed oil. Line pie pan with larger piece of dough. Spoon filling into pie and cover with smaller piece of dough. Trim edges and seal as attractively as possible. Cut small hole in center of pie to vent.

Cook in bottom section of oven for 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and firm. Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Things to try differently next time:
*Caramelize 50/50 walnut/pecan mixture in honey before adding to caramel
*Reduce amount of caramel and increase amount of nuts.
*More cinnamon
*Sprinkle powdered sugar on top

Finished Product

Day 86

Spring definitely sprung while we were away from Evanston! The flowerbed by the purple Northwestern sign is a riot of color. This photo was not retouched at all, the colors really are that bright!

School Spirited Flowers

Day 83

The air-conditioning guy came this morning and fixed the AC unit in the beach house! Yay! Although I have to say, that at 79 degrees with a cool sea breeze through the house, we weren’t suffering too badly. I believe in my head it feels like summer, and I suppose that if all summer felt like this it would be wonderful in Florida, but I keep having to remind myself it’s only March!

We lazed around while the AC guy worked. I figured out how to make tea. After the AC was cooling again we slathered on the spf 100+ and headed out to the beach. We played Frisbee, I though I would be horrible, but my aim was actually quite passable after a few practice throws. We also collected some shells. Apparently I have a thing for yellow ones, as every shell I picked up turned out to be yellow or orange.

We played by the tide-pool rocks for a while and then sat in the shade underneath someone’s boardwalk and played in the sand. Sam is quite artistic and crafted quite a monster.

Needless to say I spent the whole time taking photos. The grand total was 675 photos. I expected there to be only about 7 truly remarkable photos but was pleasantly surprised to find there were a lot more. I’m not sure if it’s a testament to my photography skills or just that I had highly photogenic subjects who were willing to pose for me (I’m looking at you, Sam!).

After a couple of hours we headed back to the beach house to hose off and get ready to depart. We grabbed lunch at a beach bar dive, threw our sheets and towels in the dryer, and headed for home.

The drive back to Orlando was as painless as the drive out. Sam kept us entertained with her music selections. I dropped everyone off at Daniel’s house but had to dash out because my parents (who I think are enjoying the fact that I’m 21 far more than I am) were taking me to a wine dinner that night at the Everglades Restaurant.

The evening was quite fun (especially since I wasn’t sunburned, thank you spf 100+). The guest of honor was a master sommelier in training, DLynn Proctor. He was of course knowledgeable and quite affable. He gave excellent notes about the wines we were drinking and communicated his passion for the subject with great enthusiasm.

Dessert was a wonderful duo of cheese (Reypenaer 1 year aged Gouda and Petit Basque) as well as an Engadiner Nut Torte, which I definitely plan on attempting to duplicate.

After dinner there is always a raffle, which my parents never win. Tonight, with beginner’s luck, I won a bottle of 2009 Beringer Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, which should be excellent to drink… in fifteen years or so.

Official Photo of the Day

Sam modeling for me

Runaway Frisbee

Daniel Contemplating the Ocean

No trip to the beach is complete without a piggy back ride

I call this Sam's "Movie Star Look"

Daniel demonstrating his marshal arts moves

Sam uses her District 9 inspired hand to grab Daniel

Daniel works on the sand sculpture

Self-portrait of Daniel in Dani's sunglasses

Day 82

Today Daniel, Sam, and I drove up to Crescent Beach near St Augustine to spend the night at the beach. Daniel’s family has a beach house up there that is literally 30 feet from the ocean at high tide. We ended up taking my car because it had an iPhone/iPod connector hooked up to the sound system. I always think the drive is going to be longer than it is but most of it is in a straight line so it’s a very easy drive.

We left Daniel’s around 3pm and were installed in the beach house by about 5pm. We went for a very nice walk on the beach (after applying spf 100+ sunscreen, at least for us northerners).

Dinner was a the Oasis, a sports bar/seafood shack farther up A1a. Daniel single-handedly polished off a pound of snow crab, although Sam and I got a head start on our sandwiches because apparently the Oasis only has three pairs of crab claw crackers! How can a seafood restaurant only own three pairs of claw crackers?

It was dark by the time we returned to the beach house and the stars were coming out. We decided to wait to go stargazing until later, when they’d really be bright. In the meantime we watched District 9, which I’d never seen before. It was directed by Peter Jackson but didn’t have very much in common with Lord of the Rings or, as the back of the box seemed to suggest, Bladerunner. Definitely not sure where they got a Bladerunner comparison from. Still, it was an interesting movie and we enjoyed it. We also ate s’mores during it, although they were raw due to a lack of cooking appliances.

After the movie we went outside and stargazed, discovering that we all had a deep love of space as children. Sam had an app on her phone that you could point at the sky and it would show you what constellations you were looking at. We found Orion, the Big Dipper, and Cancer, as well as Mars and Saturn.

Around midnight we took towels out to the beach and lay on our backs. Daniel told ghost stories. He’s really good at it!

After about an hour we were getting cold and a little sleepy so we went back inside and called it a night. There’s nothing like ocean air for a good night’s sleep!

Official Photo of the Day