Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Banging Iron

You all may know that one of my birthday presents this year was a blacksmithing class! Gwyn thought that it would be fun, and oh my goodness was it.

We had seen this demonstrating at the Watch City Festival in Waltham back in May, that was put on by Prospect Hill Forge. We were slightly interested, and picked up a brochure, just in case. As the flyer sat on the kitchen counter, the desire grew. Both of us started talking about it more and more. And then my Birthday came around and I opened a card filled with fictional blacksmiths and a certificate for two people to attend a 'Basics of Blacksmithing' class.

You should all go here and check out the site for this place. It is ran by these two guys who want the craft to live on, and so they teach. The forge is set up with 4 stations and lots and lots of tools. The first hour Carl, or Karl... I don't know... went over basics of the forge, starting with safety, then more safety (there is a lot that can go wrong, smashed toes, cut off fingers, burned body parts...) and then covered the process for the project the 7 students were going to work on. We were making 'S' hooks. If you don't know what an S hook is, think about it, and what you are thinking of is most likely right. Or you can scroll down to the finished product. After going over the process, he paired us off so that two people would share a forge and anvil. I was paired up with Mike, an old steel worker who had biceps the size of torso; Gwyn was pared with a young artist. Then we got to work. Mike and I alternated heating iron and whacking it. There was some bending in there... and some twisting... But in the end We had ourselves an S Hook.

I am sure that in the future there will be more classes. It was awesome. I wish that I had a space to do that all the time. 
Action Shot, tapering down one end.
Gwyn getting ready to do the same thing.
It takes some finesse to efficiently heat the piece.
Adding a curl to the end of the taper.
Gwyn getting some instruction on the bending.
There is one more forge to the right.
We did it!
Final product for the whole class. Mine is in the center (90 degree turn) Gwyn's is on the bottom.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Poll: Rock, Paper, Scissors cadence

Recently Gwyn and I were solving a decision by playing rock paper scissors. This was common place for me in college, and it may or may not be how I got on Bill's Costco membership instead of Jake. Anyway, It became immediately clear that we had different understandings.... no, not understanding... we had different traditions revolving around the cadence of the game. So I ask you, my broad audience. What is the correct way? Or at very best, how do you play?

1) To start the game someone counts: "One, Two, Three, Shoot." On each of the numbers people, making a fist in one hand and a flat surface on the other, pound the fist in to the flat hand to keep the beat. Upon reaching the 'Shoot,' each player shows their play.

2) To start the game someone says: "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot." As above, on the first 3 words, the players pound fist to hand to establish a rhythm. Upon the 'Shoot' word, the players reveal their play.

3) To start the game someone says: "Rock, Paper, Scissors." Same as #2, however when 'Scissors' is said the play is revealed.

4) I don't know what... anyone who does it different than me is just silly. ;)

Seriously, let me know if there are any other ways to play this game! Also, you should cast your vote to the right so we can keep track. 

Update: On Life

The past three weeks Gwyn and I have been blessed with visits from both of our respective parents. My parents came out to visit for two weeks, and Gwyn's parents came out this past weekend. It was so awesome to have both sets over! We certainly had a great time. Lots of game playing, sightseeing, eating of food. It was sweet! I am sure that as I get pictures I will post them.

Thank you Mom and Dad! I wish you were still here!
Thank you Mr. Rohrer and Mrs. Rohrer! I am glad that I got to spend time with you.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Chocolate Mint Chocolate Cookie

Mint and Basil. Rocking the window.
As part of my apartment gardening experiment, I found that mint is a very aggressive and prolific plant. I saw that there was a vine that was threatening my chive plant (also known to be aggressive) so I decided to pull the mint out of the railing planter and re-pot it in a jar for inside.

This turned out great! And the mint is still really aggressive, trying to grow in to the window glass... or the drywall... or another pot that I put next to it (I now have two plants!). Needless to say I had to find a good way to use all of this mint, Gwyn made some mint lemonade, and we added some mint to our coffee, but still I was growing faster than we could use it.

I decided to modify a chocolate chocolate chip cookie recipe to be a vessel for the mint. The cookie revived the mint very nicely, possibly one of my personal favorites from the Sunday cookies. So if you have a overzealous mint plant, this is the right thing to do with it.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Chocolate Mint Chocolate Cookie

1 cup soft butter
1 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Cups Chocolate chips (8 oz by volume, I just used a bag)
2 cups Fresh Mint (3-6 sprigs, 18 - 40 quarter sized leaves)

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 12 Minutes

Pre Heat oven to 350

Cream the sugar, brown sugar and butter to a nice soft consistency. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well mixed.

Gwyn helped me out on this adventure!
In a different bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Once well mixed together, slowly add to butter/sugar mixture. Mix well until dough forms.

Finely chop mint leaves, the finer the better. Add chopped mint and chocolate chips to dough, fold until well incorporated.
Go from this...
...to This!
Place spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet, bake for 12 minutes. Remove, and cool.

Enjoy the lovely mint overtones with a great chocolate cookie.


I have gotten behind on my Sunday cookies! Both here on the blog, and at work. At least for here better late than never. Work is just going to have to deal, as with my parents coming out, they are not getting cookies anytime soon.

These are a family favorite, as Gramps cannot have Chocolate, my mom would make these all the time. A wonderful use for cream of tartar and a good solid cookie.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 - 2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

+ Cinnamon Sugar to coat

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes per batch

Pre Heat Oven to 400 Degrees

Follow the cookie pattern: cream butter, shortening and sugar until well mixed. Beat in the two eggs, keep mixing until well blended.

In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients (Flour, CoT, Baking Soda, Salt). Slowly add to sugar mixture. Keep folding/mixing until well mixed and soft looking.

Pour cinnamon sugar on to a plate. Take spoon full of dough, roll in to ball and then roll around in the sugar, getting it well coated. Place on ungreased nonstick cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees. You want the bottoms to be brown, but the tops to be light. Remove from pan, let cool.

Wish you were here Gramps!
Cookies can not really get too much easier. Enjoy!