Friday, March 30, 2012

Hobby Quest: Geocaching

It's been the winter that wasn't here in Indiana, and I won't lie - aside from my allergies going crazy and occasionally worries about the state of our polar ice caps, it has been awesome.  Last weekend, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and got out our bikes for the first ride of the season.

We rode to the south side of town and were playing on the swings when Matt said, "hey! we should see if there are any of those geocache things here!" Turns out, the nearest one was only .1 miles away, so off we went. 

Thus began the impromptu hobby quest adventure of geocaching.   Geocaching is kind of like an adult treasure hunt, in which you use a GPS and clues to track down a hidden box with junk in it. You take a piece of junk and, in exchange, leave a piece of your own.  And you sign your name on the little teeny tiny log book.  

Our first one didn't take too long to find, thanks to the hints on the app. There it is!

We ended up doing 4 hunts and were successful in two of them.  

Hobby grade: B+

- More fun than I expected.  It added a sense of corny adventure to our normal bike outing

- There are a TON of these to do!  We live in BFE, and there were enough to occupy us many more weekends.  So never a risk of running out. 

- There were some downsides.  2 of them we couldn't find.  Matt demonstrates disappointment: 

-To have the best experience with this hobby, you need to be more prepared that we were.  Not that you need lots of gear, but you definitely want a pen to sign the log, and be wearing older shoes for walking through mud. 

- You get weird looks as you climb and hunt for a small box/container in very public areas.  We actually had a guy come over and talk to us when we were looking for one near the Public Works building (which we never found...).  

- look at HOW TINY this one is.  I don't know how Matt saw it. Do you see it??

- This is kind of a seasonal activity.  I guess we could hunt for them in winter, but ew.  No thanks.

- we both had some trouble operating the phone app.  Apparently, compasses and directions are not strong points for either of us. 

So yay!  A hobby that is cheap, free, and fun.  We both enjoyed this quite a bit, I think, and if the rain holds off, might look for some others this weekend.  Don't worry, I'll still be subjecting Matt to juggling and basket weaving at some point.  Even better, why don't YOU take 10 seconds of your life to respond to this poll and tell us what hobby you'd like us to try next. 

UPDATE:  Matt just got home from work.  He got poison ivy from this adventure! So add that to the list of potential negatives.  I've never had poison ivy in my life, so I assume I'm not allergic.  Matt, on the other hand, breaks out if he's near the stuff.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When life gives you asparagus...

--I wrote this a few weeks ago but am just now posting it... so weather references are a bit off--

Last week, asparagus was on sale at Meijer for 99 cents a bundle.  If you're not a price checker, then let me tell you: this is an amazing price.  A co-worker was on his way to Meijer in the midst of our hailstorm on Friday, and bless his heart, he picked up 2 pounds of it for me while he was over there. mmm....

Usually, we just saute or bake asparagus and eat it as a side dish, but we found a recipe in the Simply in Season cookbook for a Sausage - potato- asparagus scramble and decided to try it.  And then we got really crazy and used sweet potato instead of normal potato. I had never cooked with sweet potato until recently and it is one of my new fave ingredients.  Better flavor, healthier, and it doesn't take as long to cook! And, it's prettier:

I can't say it ever crossed my mind to use sausage, asparagus, and sweet potato in the same dish, but turns out, it's really delicious.  The sausage gave everything a spicy, salty zip; the sweet potato added excellent creamy flavor, and the asparagus added good crunch.  Next time, I'm going to try to come up with a way to make ground turkey work as the meat, because if there's one downside to this dish it's the calorie and fat content of the sausage. I like to think that the sweet potato and asparagus balance it out to make it at least moderately healthy?

Sausage Asparagus Scramble
adapted from Simply in Season cookbook

Cook together on medium-medium high heat:
- 1 lb. spicy italian sausage
- 1 medium onion, chopped

Drain fat

Add to skillet:  3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped; 1/2 c. water
Cover and simmer about 5 minutes on medium heat

Chop the asparagus, and add.  Cook, uncovered, 5-10 additional minutes (until sweet potato and asparagus are at desired level of softness).  Stir occasionally.

Colors!  (and check out me getting all fancy with my food photography!)

Eat!  We served over rice.  Add salt and pepper if desired (but we didn't think it needed any).

Seriously.  This sounds like a bizarre combo but was really really good (not to mention cheap and quick) - we will be making again. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I find it hard to believe that there are people in this world that don't like blueberries.  Freaks! That's what they are (yes college roommate, I am talking to YOU). To me blueberries are the king of the fruit world, and they are so packed full of antioxidants that we are actually supposed to eat them. Win! If only all healthy foods tasted like blueberries.  Life would be perfect.

While browsing Pinterest the other day, I found this recipe for blueberry coconut baked oatmeal, from the food blog "Family Fresh Cooking." We make our own granola most weeks, but as I looked this recipe over, I loved that it had no dairy, no added sugar, and would take less time to make (and dirty up fewer dishes) than granola.  More win!

The recipe is, I presume, just fine as it is (probably better).  The reason I am posting my version is that the original recipe calls for steel cut oats.  I don't even know what steel cut oats are - but I'm guessing that since I could only find one type of quinoa in our entire town that steel cut oats might be even harder to find.  What I had on hand was a ton of old fashioned rolled oats (also known as "big red things of oatmeal), and I had to significantly adapt the recipe.  I also, as you'll see, did add some sugar.  Just a teeny little bit (and I used real coconut milk instead of unsweetened) - with the thought that then I wouldn't need to add sugar to my bowl to sweeten it up.

But definitely look over the original.  There are 1,000 ways to change the base of this recipe for what you like and have on hand, plus her pictures of blueberries are pretty.

Preheat oven to 350

Mix together:
- 3 & 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (I honestly don't know what would happen if you used the quick oats... just a warning).
- 1/2 t. ginger
- 1/2 t. sea salt
- 1 t. baking powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 c. sweetened coconut milk
- 1 & 1/2 c. frozen blueberries
- 1/4 c. coconut (honestly... next time I will probably leave out the coconut)
- 1/4 c. almonds

Stir up. pour into a lightly greased 9x13 pan (or, if you like yours a bit thicker, 8x8)
Bake for 35 minutes.  it might be a bit runny, that's ok. Stick it in the fridge overnight and it'll be fine by morning.

Before baking:

The original calls for a blueberry sauce.  This is entirely optional, but I made it this morning and YUM. Just toss 2 cups frozen blueberries into a pan with a tablespoon of water. Heat on medium until it starts to get saucy and sizzly, and squish the berries with your spoon. 

This is definitely not the normal baked oatmeal of childhood summer camp, which was delicious but loaded with brown sugar.  This isn't sweet at all, so you may need to add some splenda or brown sugar to your bowl if you think it needs it.  Heat up, add some almond milk and blueberry sauce, and eat!  I ate a piece 2 hours ago and am still stuffed. 

mmm.  Last thing.  If you're worried about the cost - it's not too bad.  Aldi has oats, frozen blueberries, and almonds for significantly lower prices that Kroger and Walmart. Kroger has a store brand of Almond milk - though honestly, we usually by the Silk brand because it's only 25 cents more (because it always seems to be on sale... I think we are the only people in this town that buy it) and there's more choices (like unsweetened).   I can't wait till August when we can go blueberry picking and try this out with fresh berries. nam nom nom.