Monday, March 31, 2014

Flying to a Field Near You

The Tin Dog
One of the more dramatic changes in our household was my husband getting his pilots license and buying a plane. It is something he has always wanted to do. What I didn't expect is that my daughter would fall in love with all things aviation. Who knew?  We have a Piper Cherokee that we fondly named the "Tin Dog." For the Whovians out there, yes, it was named after K-9. It seemed like the perfect name for the plane and it has stuck. It really is like K-9.  I think it has the same technology-- look at the control panel and see for yourself.

1977 technology at its best
Airplanes have opened a new world for us. We are amassing a different body of knowledge and think with a different perspective. An example is the  weather. We think of weather in terms of flying conditions. Is it too windy to fly? What do the clouds look like? Words like  "glass cockpit," "cleco," "FBO," and "flaps" have entered our working vocabulary.

Unconsciously, science and math have taken a front row seat in our house. We compute how far we are going, how long it will take us to get there (and compare it to driving),  how much fuel we need, and weight allowances. We are fascinated by how the plane works and the physics of take offs and landings. I never knew the science behind a soft field takeoff could be fascinating but then my safety had never been at stake until I was in a small aircraft taking off from a grass strip. You think also about the afternoon heat and air turbulence (I try to sit in the front on the way back).
The grass strip we landed on - really- we landed here
Our hope is to visit small towns this spring and summer and explore. Did you know that there are 1000s of small airstrips throughout the United States? Really - here is a link to them FAA Airport Data and Contact Information. I am hoping that many of these have farmer's markets nearby and I can get some fresh produce and fly home.  One airport on the top of my list is the Amana Airport. It is next to the Millstream Brewing Company. How great is that? Of course we would have to spend the weekend because it would be unfair to Steven to fly to a brewery and fly back in the same day. (FAA rules require 8 hours minimum from "bottle to throttle".)

This past weekend, we went to Anita, Iowa. It was about an hour and half flight. We flew at approximately 4,500 feet. It is a gorgeous view. The lakes and ponds glitter likes jewels when the sun hits them.  The world is beautiful. On the trip there we were excited about going to a new destination and exploring. It made for a great adventure. (We were also hoping for a clean restroom).
The view out of our plane
Anita, Iowa is a small town (about 1,000 people) in Southwest Iowa. The draw was a grass strip airport and a state park with a lake that was about a mile walk from the airport. I was shocked when I saw the grass strip. It really was a grass strip (about 2,900 feet long). You probably wouldn't want to land here at night because there are no lights. When I saw where we were supposed to land, I thought really???? We are going to land there??? There are small orange cones marking the runway. Thankfully we landed just fine and went into to town to explore. We found a gas station, walked through down town and headed for the lake.
Wind turbines by the lake
On the way we saw some extraordinary wind turbines, as well as, the old fashion type.
An old fashion windmill
We walked around the lake, enjoying the incredible views of the lake and surround farms. Realizing that we were starving we stopped for a picnic lunch of cheeses, crackers, hummus, pita, and salami. It was a perfect lunch. After lunch, we headed back and flew home.  On the trip back we were thinking about the place we just visited and looking forward to getting home. I pondered dinner and what I was going to make. The only way the day could have been more perfect is if there had been a farmer's market. We even had a hawk soaring with us for a short time before it flew on.  Know of a place you think we should fly to- that we can get to in the Dog? Please let us know--especially if there is a great place to eat or a farmer's market. We are always up for an adventure.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Bacon

Yummy pasta goodness
I did my research and picked a CSA (community supported agriculture). The one I picked is Fair Share Farm in Kearney, Missouri. I am quite excited.  Fair Share Farm  requires one half day of work at the farm so the family and I will be picking and washing some veggies. I am looking forward to our day on the farm although I expected we will be quite tired after our half day of work.
On the sign up day we received a bag of spinach. We a farmer hands you spinach, you make pasta. Yes, another pasta. I seem to be on a pasta kick. I had some asparagus so I threw that in too and some tomatoes and bacon. I wish I had some fresh peas that would have been yummy. Maybe next time.

Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Bacon

1 Pound (454 g) Box Pasta
4 Slices of Bacon
3 Tbsps of Olive Oil
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
Approximately .5 lbs (227 g) of Asparagus, Chopped into Pieces
Salt, To Taste
Pepper, To Taste
Red Pepper Flakes, To Taste (Optional)
A Couple Handfuls of Spinach, Roughly Chopped
12 oz. (340 g) Tomatoes, Diced (or if Cherry Tomatoes Cut in Half)
Parmesan Cheese, Grated

Cook the pasta according to package directions (reserve 1/2 cup (118 ml) of pasta water) and drain. While the pasta is cooking, cook the bacon and set aside. Pour olive oil into a large skillet (I use cast iron) and heat to medium-high.

Lovely lovely spinach
Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add the asparagus, salt, and pepper (and red pepper flakes if you want some spice) and cook for about 2 minutes.
Stir frying asparagus
Add the spinach, cooked bacon, tomatoes, cooked pasta, and pasta water.
Adding all of the remaining ingredients and heating to wilt the spinach
Stir to combine and heat until spinach wilts. Add cheese. Season to taste. Enjoy!

The bottom line would I make this again? Yes, it was delicious.  Next time I may try a different cheese or different veggies. I think whatever I bring home from the CSA will likely work.