Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One more thing...

... before we go into the new year and I forget about this craft! As you may know, I have a crab cookie cutter, and while I got my fill of crab-shaped cookies this year I wanted to make one more craft during the holiday season. That's when I saw this craft and modified it for you to make:

Nautical Cinnamon Ornaments

(I looked up "cinnamon crabs" to see if I could tie it into a Crabday, but no luck there, folks.)

What you need:

3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup + 2 tbsp cinnamon
Tools: bowl, cookie cutters, a straw, and ribbon or string

That's it!

Mix the applesauce and cinnamon in a bowl. You can use a spoon or your hands. This stuff is messy! I used a spoon first then finished kneading with my hands at the very end before rolling it out.

Total honesty moment here: I didn't know if my mixture was perfect. I watched this video and the woman says, "If this mixture seems too dry to you..." and I was all, "How do I know if it's too dry or wet?" I based it off of how frustrated I got when cutting the shapes out: if they crumbled (which they did), I added a bit more applesauce. If they stuck to the inside of the cookie cutter (which they did), I added a bit more cinnamon. It wasn't pretty, but at least I smelled good while doing it.

So, back to rolling out the dough: put the mixture between two sheets of plastic wrap then gently roll out to about 1/4-inch thickness.

Cut your shapes and place them on a baking sheet. Once they're on the baking sheet, you can use the straw to poke out little holes for your string or ribbon. You need to do this before they're baked!

shapes set and ready to be transferred to the baking sheet

Bake these bad boys at 200 degrees F for 2.5 hours. You can also simply leave them someplace dry for 1 or 2 days if you don't want to run your oven for that long. I did a slight combination of the two (I ran out of time with this craft and needed the oven to bake our Christmas ham!) so I let them dry for a day after they had baked for an hour and a half.

Once they're nice and dry, you can decorate them with paint or metallic markers, or leave them plain. Hang them on your tree and enjoy the warm scent of cinnamon for holidays to come! (Just don't eat 'em! Seriously. Don't.)

Some of the finished ornaments! (See the other crab ornament back there?)
Adam wanted the crab to have different colors
on the tips of its claws like a white-tipped mud crab:

Rhithropanopeus harrisii, aka cute little mud crab!

We saw these little guys all over the place when we lived on Long Island. I'm also a bit smitten because some of them are Polish (albeit invasive from North America), just like my husband and me! (We're Polish, not invasive.)

Oh geez, this post got away from me. Onward to the New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Merry Christmas!

This holiday season was another one filled with friends, family, and cookies! Sherry Tamone hosted another cookie cooking extravaganza and this was our haul:

cookies, good company, and wine!

She made several crab sugar cookies for us to decorate. I took advantage of some of the broken ones by making this Frankencrab:

"I'm a monster!"

He reminded me of all the crabs and lobsters I've seen with multiple claws where they should only have one. No one can really pinpoint why that happens, but I imagine it's some sort of crossed signaling that occurs during regeneration and molting.

this claw belongs to an edible crab (Cancer pagurus) found off of the UK - 
normally their claws have a crushing strength of 90 lb/square inch, 
so I wonder if this one has 180 lbs/square inch!?!?

Frankencrab or not, everyone deserves a happy holiday!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sitka Spot Shrimp in Prince William Sound

I spent the first week of December on a boat in Prince William Sound looking for whales! I mean, can someone pinch me? That degree is really paying off!

(thanks to Jess from the Prince William Sound Science Center for this photo)

Anyways, I was out on the Auklet for a long term monitoring project and our first night out we had so many Sitka spot shrimp!

What a catch! And they're all headed too... weird...

No, they're not a new invasive species - they were just purchased for dinner.

Amazing! Thank you again to Gerald for feeding me right!

Spot shrimp range into Prince William Sound normally (remember this project where I processed spot shrimp, coonstripe shrimp, and pink shrimp from PWS?), but the ones we ate were caught off of Sitka. The fishery is great because they are mainly caught in pots meaning fishermen aren't dredging up a ton of bycatch in order to land these tasty crustaceans!

After polishing off all the shrimp, we used their shells to lure any fish under the boat toward our camera. And let me tell you, the pollock seemed to enjoy the shrimp just as much as the humans!

the smelly allure of shrimp carapaces!

fishy action caught in Rocky Bay!
(photo courtesy of Dave Janka

It was an amazing trip and I'm so glad I was able to nerd out not only with whales and fish but with my beloved crustaceans too!