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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 5/2/10 - 5/9/10

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Homemade Hamburger Helper - It's Pretty Good!

(Resubmitting to correct photo error)

From 2010 05 01 Hamburger Helper

So here it is.  This is the Chili-Cheese Hamburger Helper-like recipe that I stole from Suzanne McMinn's blog "Chickens in the Road".  About a woman who lives in rural West Virginia.

Like I said before, we grownups aren't huge Hamburger Helper fans in the first place, but since our kids love it so much, we served this up and they enjoyed it just the same.  At least this time I felt better about what I was serving my kids.  Yes, I still served them up enriched macaroni (i.e., not whole grain pasta) but this time I know that I could control the sugar, salt, and I know that this dinner is trans-fat free (unlike Hamburger Helper)*.  Also, the homemade version included a teaspoon of sugar in the seasonings, which I prefer to the high fructose corn syrup in the boxed seasoning packet.

It was certainly less salty than the boxed version, and the kids noticed that, but Jacob still ate more than the adult servings Dave and I had.  Timmy did his usual: picked at the dish and only ate what we made him eat so he could have a dessert later.

In the future, I *could* incorporate whole wheat or veggie pasta, ground turkey instead of ground beef, and I'd like to try some of the other flavors.  I plan to make up a packet and take it on our camping trip in a couple weeks.  I look forward to attempting one of the Italian flavors.

*Note about the trans-fat.  The box of Hamburger Helper I had last week had "partially-hydrogenated soybean oil" on the ingredients list, yet on the Nutrition Facts label it indicated 0g of trans-fats.  This is misleading.  What the "0g" actually means is that there's less than 1/2 a gram of the product in the package, so the company can round down.  It's a math trick, that's all.  There *IS* naturally-occuring trans-fats in beef and other red meats, but in trace amounts, and it hasn't been proven to have the same harmful effects as the man-made trans-fats, which are produced to help shelf-stabilize foods with fat.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nebraska Discoveries 4: Historic Fort Crook & SAC Chapel, Offutt AFB

Today I'm sharing some of the history on Offutt AFB.  Unfortunately, everyone can't just get onto Offutt.  You need to have a military ID card to get onto the base freely, or make a friend with a military member who can sign you in as a guest.

As mentioned before, I started using this software to track my runs. The software doesn't seem very stable on my iPhone (probably because I downloaded the free version and they want my money before it works the way I want it to...). So this isn't the most accurate thing out there, but it's fun to give it a go.

So here's a map of the most recent run I performed:

If you choose "view full" in the lower left, then select the satellite map (or Hybrid), you can see that I'm running the perimeter of a large field. This is the parade field of what was formerly Fort Crook, which was the original military installation that is now the home of Offutt AFB. Fort Crook was established in 1888, and was completed in 1894.  Today, many of the buildings surrounding the parade field are from their original mid-1890s construction, including the buildings of "General's Row" which are seen in the background here from the late 1890s:

And here are the same houses today, the same ones as on the left side of the above photo:

Anyhoo, the run around the parade grounds takes me past these houses above, and also past the SAC Chapel seen below.

From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club

As you can see, it clearly wasn't built in the late 1800s. It was built in the late 1950s during the height of the SAC empire.

"Wait...wait...wait! What in the world is SAC?"

SAC = Strategic Air Command. During the Cold War, SAC commanded the air and land arm of the strategic nuclear triad. Since this was two-thirds of the triad, it goes without saying that SAC wielded a lot of power and influence. Learn more about SAC here.

About a year ago, I took a tour of the SAC Chapel while helping a girlfriend search for wedding venues. One of the things Christian military members often struggle with is balancing the commandment "Thall shalt not murder" with having a profession that involves taking other lives if need be. Stepping into the SAC Chapel was surreal to me, since in this case, there is a celebration of the numerous SAC units and its lineage from the birth of the US Air Force: the 8th Air Force. Surrounding the beautiful stained glass windows are prayers asking to protect America's Airmen and memorials to the mighty warriors that have defended America's values.  Some history behind the most prominent of these windows is offered here.  And a nice succinct history of the chapel is also offered here.  I particularly like the last line of the history, "The stained glass windows of SAC's Memorial Chapel depict the duality of its mission — messages of hope and guidance are mixed with the grim imagery of global nuclear warfare."

From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club

Okay, I got a kick out of this one. I have to wonder how many times airmen were alerted during church back in the height of the Cold War.
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Major Mom the Geek Strikes Again...

Just showing off one of the gizmo gadgets I'm trying out here. This software is in my iPhone.  It ties into the GPS in the phone and records location, distance, speed and time.  I've downloaded the free version, which has some sort of screen saver glitch that prevents me from stopping the runs in time, so it isn't 100% accurate, but it's good enough for me.  In fact, in this case, the GPS didn't kick on until I was about 6 houses down from where I started running, so this route is about .1 miles short.

I love that it's translating into route information and elevation data.  You can even see that I run opposing traffic if you zoom in enough :-)

For more oohs...and on "Show Elevation" towards the bottom. This is one of the hillier runs I do, and my knees usually pay me back for about 24 hours after this run.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hypothesis Successful!

Yesterday morning I posted about the Hamburger Helper we were planning for dinner. I predicted that our dinner would be a beef-based gravy and it turned out that's exactly what we ended up with.

I know I had promised just a comment at the bottom of yesterday's post about the outcome of the Hamburger Helper. But this was worth a separate blog post because of a suggestion from a friend (which I'll mention below).

So here's what we ended up with:

From 2010 05 01 Hamburger Helper

Howie's vomit? No..."Beef Pasta" flavored Hamburger Helper.  Let's show it nice and up close for you:
From 2010 05 01 Hamburger Helper

I don't know about you, but I don't find this appealing looking one bit. It tasted edible, and only Jacob liked it...I can't believe I loved this stuff as a kid!  My hypothesis was correct in that the flavor of this dish was based on a creamy beef gravy. You add milk along with the browned beef and water. If you manage through the preservative-y saltiness, you can taste a beefy-type flavor.

Why is this a separate post? Because when I posted this picture to my Facebook page, one of my friends, who maintains a gluten-free household, brought this blog post to my attention. Homemade Hamburger Helper! Without the preservatives, sodium and other unpronouncable ingredients! Yay!

I was thinking that Hamburger Helper would make a good camping meal, so I'm looking forward to this alternative! Now, to choose a flavor, Suzanne made so many options!

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