Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter Musings

Hello once again!

About a week ago, we celebrated my husband's and son's name day, St. Anthony, which occurs on January 17. The Greeks typically celebrate name days for the saints that they are named after. So many Greeks are named after saints, like John, George, Nicholas, Mary, Anthony, Peter, Paul, and so on. Since my name is Hypatia, which is not a saints name (but from an ancient female mathematician in Alexandria), the closest I come to celebrating my name day is March 31st, which is St. Hypatios day.

We are in the heart of old man winter, cold and blustering and white with snow! Received several inches of snow today. Everything was blanketed in majestic white. Since I'm a stay at home mom, had already done the shopping yesterday in preparation for the snow. Stayed home and enjoyed it. So of course our son had to go out sledding, and we joined him. First we made a hill and with his sled, went on top of it and flew down the hill.

Made a wonderful bean soup today from stockpiled cans of beans. I like to always have extra cans of something (beans, beans, and more beans - ha!) around, just in case, for an emergency. I periodically run through them and see if the expiration date is near. Today I found a few cans of kidney beans, and garbanza beans expiring this month, so I made the following soup, which was scrumptious! It's great when the weather is cold outside. I have the recipe below. Good for 9 servings. Enjoy!

Patty's Bean Soup

3 cans Kidney Beans
1 can Garbanzo Beans
2 large carrots, sliced
1 celery, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/5 cabbage, sliced
2 zuccini, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 large can crushed tomato (sauce)
1 cup uncooked macaroni (or tiny shells)
virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Add all the ingredients (except zuccini and pasta) to a large pot filled with 2/3 water. Let cook over medium heat for half hour to forty minutes (until carrots are somewhat tender). Add zucchini and pasta. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Spoon into bowls and top with shredded cheese. Ummm...good!

If you try the recipe, let me know.

Take care and stay warm!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Radon trapped in air filters, dehumidifier

We purchased a Frigidaire dehumidifier from Lowe's in Hagerstown, MD a few months ago. We put it downstairs in our basement to remove the moisture from the basement. Periodically we test our basement for radon using our geiger counter. We hadn't done it in awhile so we tested it yesterday and the background radiation was 35 cpm which is ok.

The astonishing thing that happened is that our geiger counter gave a very high reading when we approached the Frigidaire dehumidifier. When I removed the filter that was encased in the dehumidifier, the filter itself read 515 cpm!!! We were flabbergasted. Apparently the filter was trapping radon in it and thus the high reading of alpha particles.

Given that, we turned off the dehumidifier and let it sit overnight. Today, twenty four hours later, the filter was back to normal and the reading was 35 cpm.

My worry is that the filter traps the radon particles in it and makes the dehumidifier a source of radiation. To the unwitting consumer who periodically removes the water bucket which is located near the filter, or spends time around the dehumidifier, it could be a source of radiation contamination.

I wrote to the company and recommended they check into this matter and try and reduce the amount of radon that gets trapped in the filter.

I will notify the Consumer Safety Product Agency on this matter.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Greek Star

Recently I was contacted by the editor of the Greek Star newspaper (in Chicago) for a book review of The Greek Maiden and the English Lord. I was quite surprised and yet pleased at the same time. This is the first time a newspaper approached me, and this particular newspaper has been around for decades.

Writing a book is not easy, folks, and once it is finished (it took me 3 years), the work does not end there. We authors need to promote and market it, and get it out there to the public. These newspapers do us a great service in helping us get the word out there about our books, so I am quite happy about this recent situation. Dissemination is a very important part of writing a book. I know of authors that write their books and then do nothing in promoting them. No one knows about their books. I think that's a shame. All that effort gone to naught.

Another bit of good news is that Hagerstown Magazine will also do a writeup of my book and is expected to come out in the Feb/March 2011 edition. Looking forward to reading that. Let's see, where else can I get the news out?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2011! Chronia Polla in Greek!

Our family has a Greek tradition every New Years and that is the Vassilopita bread. The day before New Years, I spend hours preparing this bread. It is a rich, sweet bread that is almost a cake because it contains milk, butter, sugar, and eggs. The secret to it becoming light is to not overload it with sugar and eggs. Some recipes call for using more than one cup of sugar and 6-8 eggs. Don't do it! I did it one year and regretted it. My bread did not rise and was hard and lumpy and didn't even make it to the paximadi category (toasted for dunking in coffee). After the ingredients are added and mixed and let sit for at least 4-5 hours, the dough is punched down and then a small coin wrapped in aluminum is inserted into the dough. After another hour of rising, it is baked. The next day, we celebrate New Years by cutting the bread into slices, with each slice designated for each person of the house, and we also include a slice for Jesus. This year I was the lucky receipient of the coin, which tranlates into having good luck for the year. So I was very pleased with that!

My family likes to play games together. Often, we pull out the Scrabble game and play it, or we'll play Trivia Pursuit, and such. So we did some game playing on New Years, plus piano playing, and watching a good old movie. We had a very nice, enjoyable time. Our New Years meal was roasted lamb with roasted potatoe/red peppers/eggplant. I always like to make pumpkin pie around this time of year, so we had a slice with lavish whipped cream on top. Another holiday pastry is the finiki, or melomakarona. There are at least dozens of versions on the Greek recipe, but the one I chose was simple - orange juice, olive oil, sugar and flour. Inserted in it was a honey/walnut mixture. Then it was baked and dunked in a honey syrup. The finikia turned out large, but very yummy. My husband said for me to keep that recipe! It was so good.