So I’m sure even those of you not in the U.S. have heard that our government has been shut down for a week and a half, with no signs of re-opening. If you are not an American citizen, you are probably wondering what kind of country thinks that’s an acceptable idea. If you are an American citizen, you’ve probably been affected in some way, large or small. I’ve been affected quite directly in that I’m a government contractor and have been furloughed, meaning I’ve been forced to take a leave without pay from my job. And unlike federal employees, I won’t be paid back. It’s starting to trickle down and affect my life in other ways, too: Dogue Hollow, currently desperate for money, might not get the Combined Federal Campaign check we usually get in October. My father – a retired special agent – is worried he may not get his next pension check. I was really looking forward to attending my first board meeting of the Friends of the Potomac River Refuges, but it was cancelled because the refuges are closed. My birthday has probably been ruined because I’d planned to spend it at Chincoteague NWR. ALL THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS ARE DRIVING AROUND NORTHERN VIRGINIA ALL THE TIME! (Seriously, everyone thought that at least traffic would be better than usual, but it’s just as bad, if not worse!)
So there’s a lot of frustration here. Philosophically, I am very angry. Disgusted with our Congress. My government has given me plenty of reasons not to trust them, but I think taking my job and salary from me takes the cake. How can I have any faith or trust in them? They clearly do not have the well-being of myself or any other citizen in mind. It’s funny; they’ve taken away the two places I spend the most time: my job and the wildlife refuge (no sense linking to it because the website currently redirects to the Dept. of the Interior (even their WEBSITE is shut down!). Remember how in my last post I mentioned the sign in the refuge that says “Welcome to YOUR National Wildlife Refuge”. Well, apparently it’s NOT mine: it’s the “government’s”.
Okay, I’m starting to get worked up. Next thing you know I’ll be blasting Rage Against the Machine and pumping my fist in the air. I AM outraged, but I don’t want you to think I’ve been sitting around feeling sorry for myself, because I’ve barely had time to do any sitting! I’ve been putting in some extra time with both the raccoons and the raptors, and I’ve been spending time with my brother (also furloughed) and a good friend, and I’ve been taking care of a stray cat, and I’ve been canning up a storm, and I’ve been discovering new music, and basically being furloughed is EXHAUSTING! And I haven’t even had time to do half of the things I want to do. I feel more harried at times than I did when I was working! I have no idea how that’s even possible.
I have been canning a lot, but other than that I haven’t spent a lot of time cooking new things I could be blogging, somewhat surprisingly. Often by the time I finish up canning something, I’m ready to make something quick for dinner. But yesterday my friend and I had lunch at a restaurant that makes their own in-house potato chips (Old Bay flavored to boot!), and there’s been a deluge over the last couple of days, so after running around in the rain all day yesterday, and helping raccoons this morning, I decided to spend a little extra time on dinner tonight and make some homemade potato chips (crisps for you non-Americans) to go with some veggie burgers. I’m not really sure it even warrants a post, but I figured it was a good excuse to check in with you guys! I’ve made these before, but here are some pointers I picked up tonight:
- A lot of recipes on the internet specify russet potatoes, but I used less starchy red potatoes.
- You should really use a mandoline to slice the chips, but paper thin is really too thin. 1/16″ or so is a little better.
- Peanut oil is traditional, but olive oil works fine.
- These go from not done to overdone FAST. Check the chips pretty much constantly and remove those that are done immediately, then return the pan back to the oven to finish up the others.
- As the chips finish, I like to remove them in a single layer to my wooden chopping block. They cool very quickly there without building up any condensation. Within a couple of minutes, I can move them to a bowl where they stay crisp.
- You can try blotting off the oil with a paper towel, but the chips are fragile, so it’s easier to try to keep the oil to a minimum in the first place.
- I was going for salt & vinegar flavor, but found that I couldn’t really taste the vinegar if I drizzled it on before cooking. Instead I salted them before baking, but just spritzed with a little malt vinegar right before serving.
Baked Potato Chips
large potatoes – I used 2 large red potatoes and ended up with enough chips for 2-4 people
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a mandoline to thinly and evenly slice the potatoes about 1/16″ thick. If you have time, soak the sliced potatoes in cold water for a while to remove some of the starch, then drain them well. Brush a thin film of oil on a large baking pan and arrange the chips in a single layer, then brush a little oil over them. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Bake just until golden brown. They will in all likelihood not finish at the same time; remove them with a thin spatula as they finish. Let cool in a single layer.
I’m not yet able to share any pictures from the raptor rehabbing I’m getting involved with, but I can talk about a raptor visitor we had in our yard. I showed you a Cooper’s hawk that was patrolling our bird feeder back in March. Well, we had another one here last week, this time a juvenile. If you look back at the older post, compare the difference in coloring between the adult and the juvie.
I have mixed feelings about him. On one hand, HE’S TRYING TO EAT MY BIRDS, which I just think is rude. On the other hand, that’s what hawks do: they eat smaller birds. It’s his prerogative. And also he’s beautiful!
Look at him hunting down my songbirds! Damn him!
Look at him looking at ME! ISN’T HE AWESOME? Seriously, how can I be mad at that face? I love raptors; can’t help it!