gag-gle noun \ˈga-gəl\ : a group, aggregation, or cluster lacking organization, which is exactly how I feel about my family every day.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Project "Eat the Dough"

This summer we are formulating cookie recipes to be safe for just eating the dough.  Our first recipe was the classic chocolate chip and it turned out delicious. Here is the recipe we used:

2 1/4 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp milk
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Microwave flour uncovered on high for two minutes. Stir to fluff and remove clumps.*
2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large mixer until creamy.
3. Stir salt into milk and mix into butter/sugar mixture until incorporated.
4. Gradually beat in flour.
5. Stir in chocolate chips.
Refrigerate until ready to eat. Makes about 2 dozen 1-oz scoops of dough.

*Heating the flour is optional, but flour has been known to carry pathogens, similar to the way lettuce does, and since you can't rinse flour, heating it will kill them.

We tried some dough right away, and froze scoops of the rest for later use.

Heath kids and Itri kids aprons on and ready to "bake"!


I went to Cuba with a class from Westminster College. I took the class for science credit, and we did talk about organic farming, geological formations, and healthcare, but mostly it was a historical and cultural trip.  And it was awesome.
The group boarding Transtur bus 3707 for the first time. We traveled by bus to all the locations we visited: Havana, Vinales, Playa Larga, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Santa Clara.

First picture of me in Cuba! this is at Hotel Copacabana with the welcome drink- it tasted like a lemonade?

Lunch in one of the many private homes that has been converted into a restaurant

The picture doesn't do it justice, but this beautiful building is next to that dilapidated high-rise in the background. This was a theme all throughout Cuba: newly restored structures standing next to crumbly safety hazards.

At revolution square, in front of Carmello Cienfuegos, a pal of the infamous Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. 

Revolution square in front of Carmello and Che.

El Capitolio, under restoration

National center for the performing arts

Asymmetrical Cathedral at Plaza de la Catedral

Walking the streets of Old Havana

Famous sculpture representing the "special period" after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Cuba fell on extremely hard times.

Skyline of Havana from a fort across the bay

Home of famous writer Ernest Hemingway, who loved Cuba and was friends with Fidel Castro

All those sculptures in the background are ceramic tile mosaics by artist Jose Fuster

The table and pavilion where we ate were likewise covered in tile mosaics

My favorite representation of Havana from the Cuban Museum of Fine Arts

Visiting an organic farm after the rain meant that we had to wear these attractive plastic bags on our feet

Isis, who has toured America giving speeches on organic farming techniques, gave us a tour of her farm.

A stop in Cojimar, a small fishing town where Hemingway docked his boat, Pilar. Hemingway is honored with a bust that was paid for by the residents of the town. 

Me giving a presentation on soil biology in organic vs. conventional farming

Inside the old presidential palace, which used to be the home of president-by-coup Fulgencio Batista, but is now "El Museo de la Revolucion".

It's behind glass, so hard to see, but this is the Granma, the boat used by Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara, and others to return illicitly to Cuba to start the revolution.

Sun burn after walking through Havana

We visited a rural farm in Vinales, were we tried a cane juice drink, served out of an orange. I got to operate the mechanical press that squeezed the juices out of the sugarcane. 

We reached the farm by horse.  It was not like a typical tourist trail ride and I loved it!


The crocodile farm was super cool. They raise them for conservation and commercial uses.

Zapata swamp, where we got terribly bug bitten (I'm like 99% sure I must have Zika by now) but got to see TONS of crabs running to egg-laying grounds, bunches of flamingos and other birds, and the wetlands and mangroves in general.  (This was one of the sciency days).

In Cuba, they have "casas particulares" where families can rent rooms in their homes as one of the few ways to legally make money aside from a government wage. I found my casa!

Me eating pork with the Bay of Pigs just a few dozen yards away.

The Bay of Pigs (where there was that famous failed US-backed invastion)

Pizza place in Cienfuegos.  Pizzas are surprisingly delicioso en Cuba.

On the cobblestone steps in Trinidad, where they have live music in the evenings

Picture of the Casa I stayed in in Trinidad (picture from the bus, hence the glare)

Cobblestone street of Trinidad

Memorial that houses the mausoleum of Che Guevara

Hotel de la Plaza, was beatiful in the lobby, not so much in the rooms.

That mini-step into the bathroom got me every. time. 

An upper-class family home that had been converted into a hotel in Cienfuegos

Che is everywhere in Cuba. His face blankets every item in the tourist shops, finds its way into the art of all Cuba's artists (which are surprisingly many) and dots the streets and official publications. Of the three faces, he's the third from the left.

Cigar factory. A must while visiting Cuba. This is a pic of the store, we weren't allowed to take photos inside the actual factor, which is not automated but has hundreds of workers that hand-sort tobacco leaves and roll each cigar.

Lunch in Havan

Street in downtown Havana
At breakfast in Playa Larga, we all found the hilariously translated “dry candy” to be super yummy!

We visited a health clinic to learn about the healthcare system in Cuba. This sign was on the wall in the entrance.  It’s about how bad smoking is for you. But then the waiting room smelled strongly of smoke.

The guy in the white coat was the doctor who spoke with us and showed us around.  He’s wearing a marauder’s map shirt. He said he was a Sytherin.

Another Che I came across as I was walking in Havana

Havana market- fruits and meat