Monday, March 31, 2014

Day Zero Project #37: Have a Lord of the Rings movie marathon.

The Lord of the Rings movies are long. Like "take up an entire weekend" long. The good part is that they are pretty good. So on a weekend when we felt like this:

It was good to own these:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day Zero Project #61: Bake brownies.

It would seem that I am in the portion of this project where I am spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen. I'm not sure why so many people have goal's to bake more, but I'm happy that they do. I've always loved cooking, but dessert is something that I tend to shy away from making (likely because my wife is excellent in that department).

But, I'm nothing if not a slave to the list, so I found myself in the kitchen making some sort of dessert for the third week in a row. This time it was brownies. I knew I had some strawberry jam from a few weeks ago that I needed to use up, so I decided that I would try and make a Peanut Butter & Jelly Brownie.

When it was all said and done, they turned out just okay. After the last few successes, it was a bit of a crash back to reality to make something that wasn't really good.

Here's the abbreviated series of steps that lead to the creation of these brownies that will in no way teach you what you need to know if you want to actually make them:

1) Start with a ton of peanut butter. My wife has dreams where her entire diet is just giant mounds of Jif, just like this.

2) Mix a whole bunch of stuff together, throw some jam on top and then you have this:

3) Bake that for some minutes, cut it into small pieces, and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day Zero Project #47: Take a family portrait.

The entire household at the moment: myself, my wife and our little bunny, Snickers.

Image inspired by something I saw on the Internet, but can't remember where otherwise I'd give some credit. Certainly it was by someone much cooler than I, so thanks to them!

Day Zero Project #33: Say yes to everything for one day.

Whoever made this goal most likely had the intention to use it as a way to open themselves up to the endless possibilities of life that our typical safe selves would never do. After all, it's easiest to say "No," but no great adventure has been undertaken without an initial hesitant "Yes."

How much would our lives be different if it was always a "No"? What if my wife would have said "No" when I asked her out in October of 1997. What would my life be like if I would have said "No" to leaving Iowa, or if I said "No" again when the time came to move to Florida?

What if I would have said "No" to doing a list of other people's goals? Then I wouldn't be doing all this weird stuff, you wouldn't be reading it, and we'd both have a little more free time to show for it.

Perhaps not the best example on that last one, but you get the idea.

All that said, saying "Yes" to literally everything is the pursuit of the young. I know what I like and I seem to have a growing appreciation for avoiding things that will kill me as I get older. So rather than approach this goal with eyes wide open, I did my best to schedule this for a day when no one would ask anything of me.

And this was simply because I know the people around me and if I was to answer everything in the affirmative I'd end up shopping with my wife and buying too much stuff and then hanging out with my friends having too many drinks and a hangover that lasts 24 times as long as it took me to drink the alcohol in the first place.

For the most part I managed to avoid all human contact and made it a full 24 hours without offering a single "No" to the world.

For the full day the only things that I had to do that I didn't really want to were:

1)  Walk to the grocery store even though my allergies were acting up and the mere thought of being outside made me want to curl up into a little ball and cry for a bit.

2) Watch as Kate bought more tea even though we have a full pantry full of way too many types of tea. It sort of hurt to agree to more tea as I'm a bit of a minimalist when it comes to stuff in my house.

3) And the most painful, I had to eat one of these little Nutella snacks:

Does anyone even like Nutella? I was hungry and it certainly wasn't what I wanted, but my wife suggested that I eat it and I was in no position to decline, so it was adventure time!

And if eating a snack you don't want to eat is the worse thing that happens, then I'd say that the day was successful.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Day Zero Project #31: Pick fruit from the tree and make pie.

Last weekend we had to go to Fort Lonesome in Lithia, FL to pick a bunch of strawberries to make organic jam, so in the hippie version of killing two birds with one stone I made sure to make my way over to their orchards and pick some oranges from their trees in order to make this pie.

Oranges...on a tree!
Yes, oranges are not the ideal fruit for making a pie. If it was summer, I could probably find some peaches or something. If I still lived in Iowa or Connecticut, I could have found some apples. But I live in Florida and it's March, so oranges are my option.

Yours truly, picking fruit off a tree.
Cutting up oranges and throwing them into a flaky crust seemed incredibly unappealing. Plus I remember something from a few years ago when I tried to fry some oranges and it basically sucked all the flavor right out of them. So, I was left with taking those oranges, juicing them and baking them into a meringue-style pie.

While this was a good, and most likely tasty, plan, I did overlook the fact that it would be hard work. I had to juice oranges. I had to boil a mixture of those oranges and a whole bunch of other stuff until it turned into a weird, thick delicious concoction. Then I had to make meringue, which is surprisingly difficult considering it's just a few different basic ingredients.

Anyway, I did all that (and did it well, if I might say so) and then baked it for awhile and it came out tasting quite good. Here's my picture-by-picture rundown of the process:

Get some oranges

Turn those oranges into orange juice
Cook those with sugar until thick and put in a crust
Beat eggs for 40 years until you have meringue
Bake it for awhile until it looks awesome
Eat it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Day Zero Project #34: Make organic strawberry jam.

The first thing that a person has to do before making organic strawberry jam is to track down some organic strawberries. Preferably not ones from Whole Foods that are going to set you back about $34/pound. Lucky for me, I happen to live in Florida and, extra lucky for me, it happens to be strawberry season.

With that in mind, we packed up the car and headed to Lithia, FL to a little organic farm called Fort Lonesome.

And how do I know for sure that this place grew organic strawberries? Just look at this sign. Hippies = much higher portion of organic goodness. And 300% more patchouli smell. Also, they say they are organic and they seemed like trustworthy people, so I'll go with it.

So after a quick walk through the onsite trail, we came across the strawberry fields where we'd be doing all of our work.

I picked a bunch of strawberries.

My wife picked a bunch of strawberries.

And pretty soon we had a two whole bunches of strawberries. Which is a good thing because I needed about two pounds just to make a little bit of jam and I needed another four pounds or so just to snack on during the car ride home, because they were delicious.

When we got home I set about taking all of those beautiful, red berries and destroying them through a series of steps showcasing my ineptitude in making jams. If you want to make your own jam at home, here's my secret: copy someone else. What do I know about making jam? Nothing.

But this person at does, so go here and use their recipe.

Basically, clean your strawberries and throw them into your blender:

Then you turn that on and hope you have a blender strong enough to turn that into strawberry liquid. Don't drink it. It's good stuff, but then what will you make your jam with?

Take that liquid, add a whole bunch of sugar, some lemon juice and boil that FOREVER, stirring it often. And by forever, I mean 45 minutes. It seems like a really long time but put some Mouth of the Architect on your iPod and it's only like 3 songs. It'll fly by.

After that's thickened up a bit, we'll dump it into a sterilized Ball jar This liquid-ish mix is good stuff but, again, I encourage you to restrain from eating it. We are trying to make jam here and we're so close. You will end up with something that looks like this that you will refrigerate until it cools and magically turns into jam.

And what to do with this delicious concoction? It's certainly too fancy to be wasted on PB&J sandwiches. A fine jam likes this deserves a fine dessert. How about some mascarpone cheese with chocolate mint and a balsamic reduction? Yep, that'll do.

Also, ignore the advice I just gave. Is there anything better than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

No. No there isn't.