Archive for May, 2007


31 May, 2007

The House will be hosting a nopal planting “party.” I have an abundance of edible cactus paddles and invite all interested parties to plant them in pots, or in their yards. The benefits of growing and eating cactus are myriad, but to name a few highlights:

  1. The paddles may be grilled, stir-fried, or boiled (and served as is, or in salads, salsas, tacos, etc.);
  2. The fruit may be eaten (carefully), made into jam, or used to make the celebrated “Prickley Pear Cactus Mead”;
  3. The cacti are rather cute when small, and totally impressive when large;
  4. This particular opuntia species grows like a tree from a single paddle. It is not invasive and does not spread;
  5. Though they will guzzle water if given the chance (as all cacti will), they are naturally drought resistant.

More information and photos later. I can provide the cactus and shovels, but I will need some help getting soil and pots. In the House-of-Yes, -Crangie, -Stackie, -ChezJess neighborhood, we can even have a walkabout to each residence to plant in the yard. Otherwise, we can pot cacti in the driveway here.







Wednesday night Indian.

31 May, 2007

I imagine my readers tire of my food posts, but last night’s meal was really good and worth mentioning. I was able to do lots of the cooking while blogging and working on some experimental pages with Nvu, the Mozilla composer. Special thanks to FlipperGrrl and Hottbutt for contributing the lion’s share of the ingredients, most of which came from local farms.

  1. Saag (spinach, usually with paneer, but last night with mushrooms, tomatoes, and mock chicken (mock chicken courtesy of the tiny food girl);
  2. Chickpeas in tomato broth;
  3. Pan seared vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus) with garlic and turmeric;
  4. Salad (courtesy of Hottbutt) with mango and avocado.

Naturally, lots of Indian spices (in due measure): cinnamon, black mustard seeds, chile peppers, cumin, corriander, ginger, etc..

Quarry jumping season has started!

30 May, 2007

Coburn and I went to a quarry the day before Memorial day. The water was cool, but not bracing, and the top six inches was decently warm (read: pool noodle = good). Here’s a teaser trailer on YouTube (click the thumbnail to view). Note: this video was taken by the Pearl-of-Surl a couple years back, and it is silent.


Saturday night dinner–simple Thai

27 May, 2007

Just a quick post describing a great dinner Coburn, Ho-tep, TimmyB, the tiny food girl, and I shared this evening:

  1. Thai steamed mussels with holy basil leaves and lime dipping sauce;
  2. Green papaya and carrot salad (with a little mint from the garden);
  3. Jasmine rice.

Simple and delicious. The market had Maine mussels on sale, and we all love Thai.

Years ago, Kingmaker taught me how to bake mussels. He sprinkled washed mussels with coarse grained kosher salt, placed them on an oven-proof baking dish, and stuck them in the oven (perhaps 450 degrees) until they popped open. That’s another fine way to cook them, and even simpler.


21 May, 2007

We recently put the meat grinder through its maiden voyage at the House. TimmyB decided to have hamburgers for lunch yesterday. The grind was initially perfect, but we made one assumption that was wrong: We thought that lots of meat would be trapped in the spindle (and that is why it was backing up, as you can see it begins to do in the video). To remedy this, we put the ground meat back through to press the unground meat out (and when that did not work, we put in some hamburger buns, which also did not work). The real problem lay in that some connective membrane (the kind you find between fat and muscle) had blocked the 3/16″ holes in the plate, sort of like putting saran wrap over the holes, so the meat really had nowhere to go but backwards. Once we removed the obstructing membrane, the grinder worked great, but by that point we had mashed most of the meat to a pulp and had a bunch of bread mixed in. Lesson learned. Perhaps we need to be more careful in cubing the meat; perhaps tightening the lockring more securely would have prevented the problem from happening in the first place, because the cutting knife is supposed to rub quite hard against the mating plate. More as we experiment. For the record, the burgers were great! We only used some olive oil, salt and pepper to season the meat.

Below is a teaser thumbnail…
Click (here), or on the thumbnail, to view the video.





TimmyB’s over-easy kung-fu superpower video

20 May, 2007

TimmyB demonstrates his skill at cooking over easy eggs without utensils!

Click (here), NOT on the thumbnail, to view.

Egg Flip


Protected: Sing me to sleep….

19 May, 2007

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New house brew… Oatmeal pale ale

19 May, 2007

Time for a pale ale, but I could not resist the call of all the Quaker old fashioned oatmeal in the cupboard. Recipe is for 10 gallons. This is an intermediate level brew. By the way, the house brew posted on 4-18 was tasty, but I overhopped with the Nugget/Perle combo. The resulting bitterness tasted somewhat sour (but not harsh). This time, I’m going for more hop aroma and flavor by dry-hopping.

  1. 1# oven-toasted US 2-row barley
  2. 2# crystal malt, 120 lovibond
  3. 1/2# Quaker old fashioned oats
  4. 12# light liquid malt extract
  5. 1 oz. columbus hops (90 min)
  6. 1 oz. magnum hops (90 min)
  7. 1 oz. nugget hops (90 min)
  8. 2 oz. magnum hops (10 min)
  9. Nottingham dry yeast (for 5 gal); US-05 dry yeast (for 5 gal)

Steep grains in grain bag for 1 hour at 152 degrees (I know the oatmeal should mash at lower temps first, but I’m impatient today) (I heated 3.5 quarts to 165 degrees and added grains to stabilize at 152). After an hour, remove grain bag and sparge (rinse) with a several cups of 175 degree water. Transfer, along with liquid malt extract to kettle for full wort boil. Hop as scheduled, yeast as printed.

I would like to add that, because of some siphoning issues when transferring to the carboys, I lost a large quantity of wort–about 2 gallons. I could have added yeast to the 8 gallons, but I decided to top the carboys off with water instead. This will have lowered the specific gravity of the beer (and the alcohol), but that it fine this time around. I will, however, be installing a spigot into the bottom of my kettle to facilitate transfer.

Up yours, Kraft…..

18 May, 2007

A rainy Friday comfort food dinner:

  1. Homemade macaroni and cheese with bleepin’ vegetarian sausage. If you don’t have a recipe, google it.
  2. Steamed broccoli (with some baby bok choy and sugar snap peas thrown in)
  3. Fava beans simmered with olive oil and garlic

Phlat Tire Weizenbock

9 May, 2007

I am up in RI visiting Candycane on my “accidental motorcycle tour.” Providence seems like a decent enough place, but what makes it particularly cool is that it has five (5) homebrew stores! Today we will brew a beer based on Charlie Papazian’s “Phat Fired Weizenbock.” I’ve decided on the name “Phlat Tire” not because anything is wrong with Goldwinger’s motorcycle, whose steward I currently am, but simply because of a whim. Anyhoo, on to the recipe:

6.6# Munton’s Wheat malt
.5# wheat dry malt extract
.25# light dry malt extract
1# 120 lovibond crystal malt
.5# chocolate malt
.25# caraffa A malt
.25 oz magnum hops (60 min)
.25 oz saaz hops (60 min)
1 oz mt. hood hops (10 min)
1 oz mt. hood hops (flameout)
1 oz perle hops (flameout)
Safbrew T-58 dry yeast

The Accidental (Motorcycle) Tourist: 5-07.

8 May, 2007

I’m currently in the process of acquiring and bringing [to c-ville] a 1976 bmw motorcycle for Goldwinger. Lots of good stuff to write about, but you will have to check back……

After picking up the motorcycle, I headed north to Rhode Island to tune the bike, decompress, and visit Candycane and Zoot’s farm.

One of our good meals, though I am out of my element on things like the “George.”
Mezze of (vidalia) onion salad (vinegar and salt), green onions, watercress, carrots, cucumber and hummus;
Saag with chickpeas (don’t forget the tomato paste);
“Grilled” zuchinni and eggplant on the “George” (brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt/pepper).

We walked around Providence today, starting at the mall, going through Brown University and way into the ‘burbs down Hope street. Finally (after backtracking), we ate lunch at Kartabar, opting for a three seated table beside the open window. The “tuna carpacio” was great; the Medeterranean burger was good, too (and rare meant rare).

There are a lot of motorcyclists in Providence, but Candycane and Zoot noted via observation over lunch that, around here, they roll up nice and loud, and then spend tons of time (like 90 minutes) standing around on the street talking with their buddies or other bikers about their bikes and/or various parts, pointing at this and that component (like tassels on the handlebars!, or exhaust pipes!). You can see them from afar, talking in signs: “revving” their wrists as they boast about their adventerous ride into town, lowering and spreading their palms from the waist out to describe the cruising speed at which their Harleys smooth out (i.e., stop shaking), making whoop-de-doo signs to describe terrain, etc. It really is a laughable riot, and truly, they do not leave their motorcycles’ side. Wankers, all. Guys like that make folks like TimmyB and me look bad. I did not see one vintage bike or even one new BMW; just Harleys and custom choppers. I’d like to see bikes like this on a tour in Mexico…(rant over)

On to Philly to see JennRN. We went to a great bar, which seemed like a regular dive bar, except they had one of the most esoteric draft beer selections ever and, in lieu of predictable pub food, options on the menu like grilled lamb, Hoegaarden steamed shellfish, and many other tasty options.

Left Philly. Took 76 west to 81 south, through MD and WV. I cut east at Front Royal and took the scenic route back to Charlottesville: 540 to 231, to 29, to 230, to 663. Goldwinger’s bike is awsome.

Flashback: 4-22-78 /// 5-6-07.

4 May, 2007

I will be traveling to Philly this weekend to check out the King Tut exhibit at the Franklin. In honor of this, and of the fact that we have just passed the 29th anniversary of Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live performance of King Tut, I would like to encourage my readers to watch the video (Click here).


Steve Martin performing “King Tut.”



Wednesday night mezze.

2 May, 2007

We will be eating well tonight: It’s a middle-eastern night.

Onion salad with vinegar, mint, and sumac,
Orange and radish salad,
Mushrooms sauteed in olive oil (a Cypriot dish),
Rice with spinach,
Spicy shrimp (a Moroccan dish),
Ful Mudamas (Fava beans),
Hard boiled egg,
Fresh scallions and green bell pepper,
Pita bread,