Author Archives: Belle
Author Archives: Belle
Do you know that you can enjoy hammock camping without trees? One day you may find yourself camping open spaces where there are no trees to hang your hammock tent but you can still use it.
There are different methods that you can take to use your hammock in the event that there are no trees.
When you intend to use a hammock tend in a place where there are no trees, there are mainly four things that you should consider.
The first one is to ensure that you can meet the distance that is required for hanging your hammock. You must have an average distance of between 10 and 15 feet to hang your hammock. This distance can help you identify the ideal anchor points or posts.
The second thing is to ensure that you have sufficient height below your hammock. You must have a clearance of about two feet so that you do not wake up touching the ground.
The third aspect is to decide the hanging method you want to use as going to be illustrated below.
The last thing is to consider your favorite spot to hang your hammock.
When you discover that there are no suitable trees to mount your hammock, you need to be creative and resourceful. Surely there is no way that you can lie on the ground especially if you have your hammock.
There are different methods that you can use to make the hammock tent work without trees.
You can use any poles or posts that you can find within the vicinity to mount your hammock. For instance, you can make good use of fence posts, telephone poles or hiking poles if you know that you are going for camping where there are no trees. You just need to identify poles that are sturdy enough to sustain your weight when you relax in your hammock.
However, some state and national parks are placing posts specifically meant for hammock campers in different places. If you happen to camp in such park, it would be a big plus since you do not need to stress about finding poles to hang your hammock.
Other hammocks come with portable stands that are designed for backpackers. When choosing the hammock with stands, you must be careful to consider the ones that are compact and light. Backpacking is usually a tedious task so you do not need to overburden yourself with extra weight.
If you are going camping in a place like a beach, having your own hammock stand is probably the best option that can guarantee you quality hammock experience.
It is crucial to make sure that the hammock is suitable for the stand before you set it up otherwise you may fall. You need to test the safety of the stands before you sleep.
The other creative way of hanging a hammock without trees is to use boulders. However, as a work of caution, this method of hanging a hammock on boulders can be dangerous. You need to be careful the boulders can be slippery which can lead to unprecedented falls.
The other important thing that you should remember when you decide to use boulders is to make sure that the hammock straps are strong. Boulders can be abrasive and that can cause wearing of the ropes that support the hammock. You need to make sure that the hammock is safe and secure before resigning to sleep.
When you are camping in a place where there are sparse trees, you can also use the other side of your truck to support the hammock. You can find a sturdy tree then park you beside it. Make sure you leave considerable distance that is required for hanging your hammock. You can hang the other end of the hammock on the truck and the other one on the tree and can enjoy good comfort than sleeping at the back of the van.
Apart from using the above methods for hammock camping without trees, there are also certain things that you should know if you are a beginner.
The following tips can help you to improve your camping experience as well as safety.
Though it comes from the toughest muscle on the cow, tri-tip steak is delicious and it requires good marinade.
However, some people do not know how to cut this steak or whether to cut it cooked or not. As such, this post gives you some tips that can help you to cut the tri steak to serve your guests.
Tri-Tip is a cut of meat that is obtained from a cow and it comes in a triangular shape. The right side is shorter than the left side upon closer inspection.
There are only two tri-tip cuts that can be obtained per each cow. You can also recognize the seams of fat that run from the top to the bottom on this cut of meat.
The meat is popular among many people and they often experience about how to cut it. Other characteristics of tri-tip include low-fat content, has two different directions of fibers of beef, rich in flavor and very tender. This type of meat is also found in only specialized butchers since it is very rare.
Many people wonder whether it is proper to cut the meat before it is cooked or after. It is recommended that it is best to cut the meat after it has been cooked. To cook tri-tip steak, you must use an open pit with live or red oak chips.
Before cooking the meat, you can rub garlic powder, salt, pepper and you can serve it with macaroni salad, pinquito beans as well as garlic bread. You must cook the meat at 130 to 135 degrees F but the center is thick hence it can remain with a pinkish color.
When cooking is done, leave the meat to rest for 15 minutes so that the juices can settle. If you rush into cutting the meat, you can end up with dry steak after the juices escape.
When the meat is ready for cutting, you need the following items:
A wet towel under the cutting board is also essential to prevent it from moving. This is a safety precaution meant to protect you against any harm. It is recommended that you should cut the tri-tip steak into thin slices for easy chewing and making it tenderer.
Each cut of tri-tip steak usually weighs up to 1.5 to 2.5 pounds and it can serve about three or four people. If you are serving the meat along with sandwiches, then you can serve more than four people.
Cutting tri-tip can just be confusing but it is not a very difficult task to do.
The first thing that you should do is to cut the meat into two halves. You should be guided by the direction of the grains on the meat. On each half, the grains run in the opposite direction.
The seams usually run in straight lines from top to bottom and your first cut should dissect the tri-tip into half. You should further establish how the seams run after dividing the steak into half. You can start by cutting the first half and make sure that you do it in a perpendicular line to the seam.
This particular method where you cut the steak perpendicular to the seam lines is also called cutting against the grains. The method is ideal in that it helps to maximize the tenderness of the meat. When you finish cutting the first half, you should also identify the grain from the seam on the second cut.
You can repeat the same action that you performed on the first half to the second cut. You should always cut on the bias and be able to identify how much the seam changes on the second cut of the tri-tip.
When you follow the perpendicular line strategy to the seam when cutting the tri-tip steak, you will realize that it gives you thin slices that are tender.
If you do not cut the meat after cooking, it can be difficult to chew and it can also lose its flavor. It is essential that you cut the meat into thin slices that are easy to chew. You should always bear in mind that cutting a tri tip follows a follows a particular direction.
The underlying thing when you decide to buy tri-tip steak is that it is rare and there are only two cuts on each cow. When cooking this type of meat, you can use a variety of recipes that satisfy your needs.
Cooking is not an issue but cutting the tri-tip steak can be confusing hence the need to know the skill of performing the task.
A hammock tent is your best companion when you go out camping since it gives you comfort during resting time. The coming of the summer season often means the increased frequency of hiking and camping activities.
However, summer also comes with other things like mosquitoes that can spoil your camping experience.
While many people are used to staying in tents during their camping expeditions, these temporary shelters can be heavy, contain too many components and take a long time to set up.
But, there is a better replacement of the traditional tent in the form of the hammock with mosquito net tent.
The hammock with mosquito net tent is specially designed to ensure you comfortable sleep during the night. There is nothing so irritating like waking up to a mosquito buzzing sound during the night or having an itchy face in the morning.
There are many advantages of getting a hammock with mosquito net when you decide to go camping. There are different types of hammocks that are made of durable and high-quality nylon tents that also consist of mosquito nets.
The mosquito net is designed in such a way that it will keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay at night. With this particular type of hammock tent, you can enjoy the fresh summer breeze in the open at night without any fear of mosquitoes.
A hammock with mosquito net is lightweight and easy to carry especially when you are going hiking or camping. The kit is good for your back if you intend to travel long distances on foot. You do not wake up with back pain due to heavy load.
The other important aspect of the hammock tent is that it is easier to set up compared to traditional tents. You just need to identify a place with two strong trees with a short distance between where you can suspend your hammock from both ends. The mosquito tent is also foldable which makes it easy to carry.
A hammock with mosquito net is also versatile in that you can use it for various purposes such as hiking, traveling or camping. You do not need to worry about overnight shelter when you are traveling since this special type of hammock tent is handy for the purpose.
You can also use the tent for relaxing in the backyard when you want to enjoy the warm temperature of the summer night.
A hammock tent that consists of a mosquito net is very comfortable and it is designed to ensure that mosquitoes have no access to you while you are sleeping. The tent also gives you a comfortable sleeping area in the open. This particular product is suitable for different environments since it consists of durable material that does not easily wear out.
However, some hammock tents with mosquito nets also have their shortcomings. Some of the products with the best features are expensive and this can limit your choice.
The other issue is that other tents consist of a very delicate mesh of the netting. They should always be handled with care otherwise they can be easily damaged.
Hammock tents with mosquito nets can be very big but the truth about them is that they cannot fit two people. You cannot share this tent with your partner. The straps on the tent are also shorter for hanging and this is another factor that you need to check when you buy this particular product.
When you are intending to go camping or hiking, you should make sure that you get a hammock with mosquito net tent. This is a great alternative to the popular traditional tents that are mainly used by people on hiking, camping or fishing expeditions.
The traditional tents can be inconvenient compared to hammock tents which are easy to set up.
A lot of hammock tents can easily fold up and they perfectly fit in small bags and they take up small space in your backpack. You also need to decide whether you need a waterproof tent or one that dries quickly when you purchase a hammock tent.
There are also tents that are only suitable for dry weather. It is also crucial to ensure that the tent suits your desired length to avoid inconvenience when you are out on a camping expedition.
The comfy of sleeping suspended in the air is also amazing and it makes your camping experience memorable. Hammocks also make your outdoor trip easy since they are convenient and easy to set up.
Apart from keeping the mosquitoes away while you sleep, the net also helps to keep away other small insects that can disturb your peaceful sleep in the open.
Other hammock tents have bug nets which help to ensure that pests also do not disturb you at night.
Are you considering purchasing a grill?
Then, you might realize that there are different grills that you can choose from. The problem is that you need to make sure that you know the different type of grills and you should make sure that you know which one is going to be best for you. This is the full guide about the different types of grills. So that you can make sure that you choose the right one.
This is the most popular backyard grill. This is mostly because it is easy to use. These gas grills run on propane gas or natural gas. The gas isn’t that expensive to refill. You should look for the best gas grill for outdoor BBQ parties or indoors.
It is great for those people that are looking for a grill that you can set up and use immediately. No more waiting for the charcoal to heat up and no more charcoal clean up afterward. Maintenance is a bit more expensive, because of all the valves and gas that needs to be refilled and maintain. The taste of the meat isn’t like the normal BBQ smokey taste, because there isn’t any smoke involved. You can choose between different sizes and different quality. Some are really expensive, while other gas grillers are more affordable.
Charcoal grills are those grills that are the traditional way of Barbequing. It gives the great smoking taste, is great to enjoy family time while you are preparing the grill for the BBQ. Maintenance is really cheap, but cleanup will take a bit longer than with the gas grill.
This is a great grill for those that are looking for the traditional BBQ. The smell of charcoal and the taste of the BBQ meat. The thing that people don’t like about the charcoal grill is the fact that you always need to have charcoal at hand. And, it can take a bit longer to start grilling the meat. Cleaning the grill afterward is also taking a bit longer than with the gas and electric grill. Buying the charcoal grill is cheaper than with the gas grill and the electric grill. But, you need to remember the added costs of the charcoal every time you are barbequing.
If you are looking for an electric grill, you need to make sure that you know that you are getting an indoor and outdoor grill. With this grill, you don’t need to have gas or charcoal to be able to BBQ. However, electricity can be costly if you are barbequing a lot.
This is a great option if you are living in an area where you are prohibited from grilling on gas or charcoal. It is safer and easier to use as well. When you are using an electric grill, you should know that the smokey taste will be lost. This is because electricity can’t produce smoke and fire. It is easier and faster to clean, and maintenance is a lot cheaper. The thing that you should know is that it is more expensive and you are able to purchase cheaper and more expensive versions.
There are a couple of things that you should consider when you are choosing your grill. What taste do you want at the end of the day? Do you want the smokey taste or just want to BBQ with friends and family, and doesn’t mind the smokey-less meat?
The maintenance cost is also really important to consider. With the gas grill, the maintenance costs are the highest. The charcoal grill takes a longer time to clean and the electric grill can give you high utility bills. The price is also really important to consider. You want to take your budget into consideration, but you want to have a grill that is going to last and that will be value for money. The cheaper the grill, the lower the quality will be.
The last thing that you should consider is if you are looking for a portable grill that you can take with you when you are going on holiday. Or, if you are looking for a grill that you can only use at home. Gas grills are hard to transport, because of the different equipment that you need to take with you.
With this guide to the different types of grills, it will be easier to decide which one you should consider. And, you will know the benefits and problems that you can expect with each grill. This guide is making it easier to know the maintenance costs, what the meat can taste like and what experience you want from the grill.
Do you want to have a quick BBQ, or are you looking to spend some time with family while you are barbequing? It is a lot easier to choose your grill if you know the different types of grills.
Recently, as some of you may know, I’ve been staying at an ashram in southern India. Kerala to be exact. And while I had my Julia Roberts fantasy of eating, praying and loving going into the experience- I didn’t quite come out of it with enlightenment (or a crazy Texan friend that was way too up in my business).
Despite these setbacks, I did come out of it with some awesome traditional Keralan recipes and increased flexibility (four hours of yoga a day does have some benefits, and being able to bend in weird positions is one of them).
The rules of the ashram were pretty intense (read: get your ass out of bed at 5:30am every morning) and the diet certainly matched this strict and regimented atmosphere. I’m talking no alcohol (fine), no drugs (that’s legit), only vegetarian food (no harm there), and no garlic or onions (wait *record stops* WTF?!).
Yup, no garlic. No onions. What else is there to eat you may ask? I don’t know. But I was not happy about it. According to some yogic principles of belief, onions and garlic fire up your system too much, whereas a yogi lifestyle should be more calm and relaxed. I think I would have been more relaxed had I not had to praise elephant and monkey gods every evening, but whatevs. I rolled with it.
What I found really interesting was the incorporation of coconuts into literally everything. Coconut chutney, coconut curry, coconut oil (amazing for your hair by the way), coconut juice, coconut gumbo (just kidding), and of course- coconuts! As a (coco)nut myself, I was loving it.
Me being very happy about this coconut
Keralan food is certainly delicious and the coconut is just one example of its unique flavor. Another traditional dish is the dosa, which is kind of like a crepe that you eat with other curries and vegetables. Idlis are spongy rice cake/dumpling things, and they’re also pretty good. We often had pineapple curry, red rice, and cabbage salad- though I’m not sure if that’s cheap ashram food or staples in Kerala- anyone any ideas?
Keralan Thali, served on banana leaf
All in all it was a nice experience. Different, but nice. I entered the ashram very tense, very hard and very angry from dealing with all that India is, and I left surprisingly refreshed, with a new attitude and reinvigorated for the last leg of my trip. Yes I could have woken up more for morning meditation, or learned the Sanskrit prayers, but I did what I could. And so I give myself an A for effort.
And a B for Biryani.
Last Friday I experienced something that I never thought would happen to me so early in life- a private chef came to my house and cooked an entire Shabbat meal for me and 10 guests. Is this a joke? No. This is reality, people.
Thanks to Jerusalem Village, an organization based in Jerusalem that helps young people connect to each other through interesting events and groups, I was able to invite 4 friends and 6 strangers into my house for a night of food, drinks and many laughs. The concept behind it is to get new “olim” (immigrants) and native Israelis to meet over a shared Shabbat experience in an intimate atmosphere.
When I heard this- I jumped on the offer. Jerusalem Village provides the ingredients, the chef, and even a portable kosher kitchen- great for me since the kitchen I have now isn’t kosher and I always want to invite my more religious friends, but can’t. Thursday night the food was delivered, and early Friday morning we got to cooking. For 6 hours. Naturally, we started drinking early.
the menu for the evening- drum roll please…
And while I’m looking forward to hearing from Orit Bon Apetite (the chef who graciously came over and planned an exquisite meal) about the specific recipes, I can’t actually speak to them right now as I was strictly the sous chef. It was so nice not having to worry, but just be a helping hand. And so while I can now roll grape leaves like a mother fucker, I can’t really say what the exact recipe is- yet.
In the meantime, here’s a classic recipe for an Israeli night cap, or as one Israeli guest described it as: Israeli water!
Viola- you’re now Israeli!
**If you or someone you know is looking for an unforgettable experience, I would highly recommend both Jerusalem Village as well as Orit Bon Apetite for a more private or intimate occasion. Seriously people, she makes miracles happen in the kitchen.
Remember that time I spent New Years Eve rocking out in the middle of nowhere Connecticut at a Jewish food conference? Oh yeah., that happened. Since 2010, I’ve been attending the annual Hazon Food Conference, and this year was no different than the rest- simply incredible. One of the many sessions I was able to attend was about making beer at home. And while I’m still working up the courage to make my home-brew dreams a reality, for now I thought I would share this interview with Baruch Rock, who taught a session on home-brewing during the conference.
When I was sixteen, I was a member of 6 person team who spent five weeks with the student conservation association in Clearwater National Forest, Idaho. At the end of our stay, as we were preparing to leave the wilderness, I recall our team leader talking to a ranger about some home-brews that he had left for the ranger in the fridge at the station. Curious, I inquired as to what that meant, and that’s how I learned about the freedom to create tasty beverages in one’s home was a possibility. Alcohol had nothing to do with it, the freedom of my wilderness experience was palpable and this seemed like another way to express the identity I was forging for myself at that time in my life.
For me, taste is more than just what the sensory areas of my tongue and the interpretive centers in my brain tell. Taste derives from the wholeness of any beer, where were the ingredients sourced? Are they local? Are they organic? For me, taste is also about associations, memories, experiences, surrounding the beer experience. I say this humbly, but the best beer I ever tasted was an all-organic porter that a friend and I brewed up in his kitchen in Alfred, New York when I was a Sophomore in college. It was delicious, refreshing, everything I knew home-brewing could be.
As Charlie Pappazan teaches in his home-brewing guide: “Relax, don’t worry- have a home-brew.” This advice is essential, have fun while you are brewing and brew with friends. I would also say, be clean, be clean, be clean- make sure your brewing materials are properly sanitized, it is time consuming, but worth it!
My house on Shabbat!!! Blue Mountain Brewery in Virginia, Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California and Brooklyn Brewery in New York. ~Thank you Baruch for sharing your wisdom with us and letting us get a glimpse into the life of a home-brewer. Baruch’s message regarding taste is so beautiful, and a great reminder to all of us when indulging in the small pleasures of life! Enjoy, y’all!
Malabi is a Middle Eastern pudding traditionally made with orchid root and milk and topped with shredded coconut, cinnamon, nuts or in this case- goji berries. It is basically sahlav, cold and turned into pudding format.
What you really need to know is that once you make the magical drink of sahlav, you can stick the leftovers in the fridge (preferably in adorable tiny teacups) and have pudding for breakfast the next morning.
“In Jerusalem, before the days of coke and lattes, tamarind drink and soos (made from licorice twig) were the typical refreshing summer beverages; their winter counterpart was sachlav”
I got this recipe, like most other things I’m cooking up these days from the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi- if I haven’t said it yet: go out and get this cookbook. It’s been on countless gift guides across the web, and really, what foodie wouldn’t want such a gorgeous cookbook?
Whisk cornflour together with 100 ml of the milk to make a paste. Pour the remaining milk, water, and sugar into a saucepan and heat so that the sugar dissolves. When the mixture begins to release steam, whisk in the cornflour paste. Continue to whisk until it turns into a thick custard. Remove from heat and pour into your holder of choice: wine or champagne glasses make for a classy dessert. For a more homey feel pour into tea cups like above. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Garnish with coconut/ nuts/ cinnamon/ berries- whatever you like!
January 2013 has been quite the roller coaster ride. I started three (yes, you read that correctly) new jobs, I’m moving apartments, my website re-design launched, and I’m still trying to keep this little ol’ blog running smoothly. While I’m definitely counting my blessings, I’ve also had zero time to myself.
And so, on Tuesday, when the elections were happening in this country, and I found myself with a day off from work- I knew it was time to bake. I’ve been doing pretty well on my resolutions list – listening to episodes of This American Life and The Moth, are pretty easy- getting my finances in order is a slower process, but with the help of Ramit, I’m on my way.
I read about this recipe for olive oil cake from Kim Boyle’s Good to the Grain cookbook via Heidi awhile back. It intrigued me so much- olive oil? In a cake? As you know by now, I’m a huge fan of olive oil– I wrote my freakin senior thesis about it.
So as the gods has aligned it to be, I was set up with some time to myself to finally breathe, beautiful weather (which, by the way, totally affects my mood), and all of the right ingredients. Rosemary from my container garden, Trader Joes dark chocolate brought from my lovely boyfriend on his recent trip back home, and even artisan olive oil from a farm in the North. It was time.
I hope this cake makes you as happy as it has made me. The rosemary gives it a really nice subtle flavor, and with big chunks of quality chocolate, as well as smaller shavings- the chocolate permeates throughout the cake. Bring it to a potluck or savor it for a few days in the morning with a cup of tea. I wish you all a relaxing weekend- take some time for yourself, and if you can, try an olive oil cake to match your happy mood.
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup olive oil (the better quality olive oil you have, the more of that flavor will come out in the cake)
3/4 cup milk (I used organic soy milk)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped – give or take, I think a bit more next time would be lovely
5 ounceschocolate (70% cacao), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar for top crunch
Serves 8 -12.
Prep time: 15 min – Cook time: 50 min
In case you have some spare time whilst awaiting impending doom a la the Sandy variety – here’s a list of 13 reasons why you should eat local. This list comes from the book, The 100 Mile Diet, which I read this past summer.
If you’re looking for an interesting read about one couple’s journey into eating local food (within a 100-mile radius of their home in British Columbia, Canada) for an entire year- definitely check out this book. Thoroughly enjoyable, and not pretentious at all. They ate potatoes for like, months. That’s commitment right there.
Do you have any more reasons to add? Please share your tips on why eating local is great in the comments!