Category Archives: Food

Long Pants

To the garden.  In my car.  If I could shut off my brain, forgetting about the environment, my health, noise, all of that, I’d find a reason to drive every day.  I’d pedal for fun when the weather was nice, but drop the temp some, add wind and some rain and my car becomes a super cushy and fun way to get around town.  Too bad they screw up everything up so surely.  Oh well.  Today’s trip was fun.

I pulled out the last of the cabbages, all of the celeriac and some of the dinosaur kale.  Quite a load for the second of November.  Not much left in the ground.  Just a bit of kale (and that looks pretty scrappy).  After the freeze forecasted for this weekend, the garden will be done for the year.

I won’t put up more sauerkraut.  Instead, I will quarter and roast a few of the cabbages.  I brush on olive oil into which I have whisked salt and pepper and give them four hundred degrees for ten minutes on each of the two cut sides.  The others?  Maybe a soup.  Maybe some runzas.  Maybe some indian preparations.

Celeriac?  Not sure.  Never have grown it, bought it or even tasted it.  The leaves and stalks are clearly celery like, but stronger.  Pretty bitter, too.  I think I will roast some of the roots.  Maybe the googles will help.  Let me know if you have favorite preparations.

Kale is easy.  I’ll make half with oil, garlic and lemon juice.  This is Lacey’s favorite.  The other half in a stock with onions, garlic, tamari and miso.  Learned that from Lagusta (and it is my favorite).

Dad is getting sprung from the hospital today, having made great progress the last couple of days.  He’ll need physical therapy three times a week for some time, but he has to be very excited to be headed home.  Three cheers for my dad.  Three more for my mom.  She’s been there at his side the whole time.  Even his brother came to help.  Quite a team.

The programed thermostat is offering the evening’s heat ration.  Reminds me that Lacey will be home soon.  Very happy to have nearly completed another work week.  Ready for the not working.

My best to you and yours.

Preparations

The big blow is headed our way and we are ready.  I don’t mean to suggest that our preparations will protect us from inconvenience or injury.  I only mean we have done all that has occurred to us (short of buying a generator).  I filled all of our growlers and other large glass containers with water.  I cleaned our gutters.  I checked the batteries in a couple of flashlights.  I emptied the ice maker so that it can make another bucket.  I filled the tub with water (so that I could scoop buckets full into the toilet tank for a few flushes if the muni pumps stopped pumping).  I picked up dog poop (not afraid it will become a projectile–I just have learned that hard way that poop is easier to pick up before it has been rained on for five days).  Lacey and I raked a few bags of leaves (more will come down with the wind, but it feels neighborly to keep up with it as best as one can).  Our efforts all seem kind of silly in the face of what is coming, but I’ve welcomed the distractions.

What else can keep me off of the Weather Channel?  Horseradish!  I dug up a few roots and set to grating.  I’ve read many warnings and remedies intended to protect me from the pungent fumes, but I routinely ignore them all.  I enjoy both the work and from time to time becoming overwhelmed by the airborne oils.  Today when it got to be a bit much I simply knelt down below the counter on which I was grating and worked over my head.  Worked like a charm.  The photo above is the grated horseradish before adding salt and vinegar (to stop the oxidation–the longer you allow the air to work on the grated root, the hotter it becomes).

I was in Chicago last week for some continuing legal education.  I love that town more each time I visit. I really enjoyed seeing folks biking all over the place.  More than I have ever seen while there.  Great food, too.  I had nice meals at Do-Rite Donuts (they offer one vegan variety each day–the rosemary lemon was amazing), Native Foods (the Greek Gyro bowl was super yummy and healthy and the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger blew my mind), the Green Zebra (high zoot but still very comfortable) and even the Wiener’s Circle (who would have guessed they offer a pakora-like veggie burger–not sure it is vegan, but it isn’t the kind of place I am comfortable asking questions).  Click the link for Wiener’s Circle if you click any.  It is hilarious.  Also got a nice styrofoam container of West African chow from a food truck operating in front of the hotel.  Rice, plantains, greens and some spicy red sauce.  No way that was vegan (I watched him take the red sauce from a tray with hunks of beef), but it was very special nonetheless.

What’s with all my slackness about food?  I still consider myself vegan, but I’ve relaxed my standards while traveling.  It is difficult to get enough to eat on the road, so I make small exceptions here and there.  If I have time and my bad toe allows it, I will walk a mile or two to eat at a vegan joint, but I can’t make that happen every time.  When I eat at an omnivore’s place, I try my best to avoid meat and dairy, but I don’t pepper the servers with questions (unless they seem like they might know what the heck a vegan might be).  Instead, I order things that are commonly vegan and don’t get upset if the food that arrives isn’t 100% critter free.  I am not proud of it, but it’s where I am at.  The market will save me from these small lapses as more and more locals ask their restaurant owners to offer more ethical chow.  It is getting easier all the time.  

What else?  My friend is headed to Costa Rica to pedal in a grueling three day mountain bike race.  That’s him on the left (I grabbed the image from the close of our last iChat), looking as fit as all get out.  I’ve long known he is crazy but his skill and preparations keep him safe so I have nothing but admiration for him and his pedaling exploits.  Good luck to you sir!

Last but most, do you know my dad?  He is in the hospital recovering from an operation to replace a valve in his heart.  He seems to be doing great, but I am sure he’d benefit from you sending kind thoughts his way.  He is such an incredibly brave man.  I am so proud of him.

That’s enough.  Just five hours until the wind and rain are to arrive in earnest.  I’ll be thinking of you and yours as you all face the storm.

So Much (Not Really)

I went to visit my parents.  On the flight out I read Just Ride (A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike) by Grant Petersen (founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works).  My expectations were low, as I have been learning from Grant since 1993.  Nearly as long as I have been learning from Lacey!  Would Grant have anything new for me?  Not much, but if you haven’t been following his teachings and want to enjoy bicycling, I’d strongly encourage you to give it a read.  Can’t loan you a copy (because I don’t own one), but I am sure the library from which I borrowed it would do so happily.

What did I learn?  Four things.  It’s good to check your blood sugar levels even before your doctor says to check.  It is easy to do, as you surely know someone with a tester.  I do, and they were happy to check for me.  I scored an eighty-nine (and anything below one hundred is good).  Done!  Next!

No one pedals circles.  Not even the pros (someone hooked a bunch up to sensitive testing devices and confirmed this).  So no need to connect feet to pedals and think about pulling up.  I already didn’t give a poo, but I did think about this age old advice on occasion.  Don’t need to again.  Next!

Crank length.  Also something I don’t think about, but I do believe most of my bikes have 170mm cranks and would feel a little funny if I knowingly encountered cranks of another length.  Should be obvious, but it wasn’t to me until Grant said it, that another 5 or even 10 mm isn’t that much difference.  Take out a ruler and check it out.  Infinitesimal!  I won’t show you how I spelled that before the spell check placed me on the straight and narrow.  Wow.  Next!

Burpees!  Grant pointed out how crappy bicycles are at making us fit.  Knew that, but for some reason (probably somewhere in the neighborhood of I Idolize Grant) I took to heart his suggestion of doing sets of burpees.  Monday I did nine, then eight, then five, then four, then three, then two, then one.  Rested ten seconds between each set.  Notice the gap in progression between eight and five?  I meant to fill that in with seven and then six, but I was too toasted!  Felt it Tuesday and didn’t try again until today.  I did the full set!  I hope this will become a habit.  Have you tried it?

Unless you’ve stalked, er followed, er paid casual attention to, Grant for a couple of decades, you’ll likely learn more.  So read it already!

The visit with my parents was superb!  Nice talks, some quite intense and others lighter, filled most of the time.  Of course we shared good meals.  My parents are omnivores, but have zero bad things to say about veganism.  They didn’t even need to shop for my visit.  They have a fridge full of alterna-milks.  They put coconut oil on toast.  They slow cook huge vats of pinto beans and eat some with most meals.   Mom did buy me a nice cappuccino coconut ice cream.  When traveling, the food search can often be kinda stressful.  Not when visiting them!  Nice meal out at The Asylum in Jerome, AZ.  It was all dolled up for Halloween, and what a view!

My parents have a personal trainer, so one morning while they were working out I took a drive to look at trailer homes.  Still obsessed with trailer homes, and Sedona is an amazing place to check out some well preserved older ones.  As I was meandering through neighborhoods I followed signs to the Sugar Loaf trailhead. Didn’t know anything about the walk and didn’t have anything with me (not even water).  The sign at the trailhead made it sound doable, though, without provisions.  Just a mile to the summit.  I set off and soon met a guy named Papoose and his cool black german shepherd mix.  Turns out he was originally from Schenectady.  Yikers!  Anyway, Papoose said the walk is easy and I’d be fine.  He was right.  In less than 30 minutes I was on top.  Quite a view.  

Why does my head look all warped?  Do I need to work on my posture or was I standing on a vortex?  I’ll go with the latter.  Anyway, the walk to the summit of Sugar Loaf is the kind of walk you could do every morning to get the blood pumping a bit, and there many folks on the trail, most with dogs, doing just that.  Also encountered a group of six mountain bikers in full lycra suffering up the hill and over the rough rocks.  Each one that passed had an excuse.  Something like “It gets tough after six days of this!”  Or “I needed a warm up!”  One was walking his bike and said “I should be riding this!”  I felt sorry for them.  They need to read Grant’s book.  Pedaling should be fun.  Didn’t look like they were having fun.  It was a great trail for walking, so why not walk it?!

On the way out of Sedona, headed to the airport, the air was filled with balloons.  Only two in the pictures, but there were six or more all in.  Pretty magical farewell to a magical place.  

Got back Saturday and Sunday we were delighted to visit the home of a cousin I had never met.  She just moved here with her husband, two kids and their dog.  My aunt was visiting, too.  I think she is my aunt anyway (I am not so good with family trees so I use aunt and cousin pretty loosely).  If you read this and I have it wrong, please correct me.  Or not.  Your call.  The evening was terrific, with an outstanding vegan chili on the stove.  So spicy!  People are usually kind of conservative with newcomers at their table.  If my cousin thinks she was being conservative, she must have some serious spice chops!  Didn’t bother me (on the contrary, I enjoyed it) and Lacey didn’t even notice it was hot (Lacey must be pretty tough, too!).

What else?  I made it to the garden where I pulled out all the tomatoes and harvested half the cabbage, as well as more tomatillos.  Quite a load on my front rack.  I covered it with a towel to keep tomatoes, tomatillos, five heads of cabbage and radishes from getting free of the bungee net.  Looked pretty odd.  Big and lumpy, like I had lord knows what in there.  A gallon and a half of sauerkraut is on the counter.  I added to the salted cabbage carrots and pears.  Should be nice.  Also have souring in brine a bunch of green tomatoes.  I added to that crock a habanero pepper, too.  I was worried about the pepper’s heat, but the brine doesn’t seem too spicy.  Can’t wait to try soured spicey green tomato pickles!

That’s enough for now.  Eleven hundred and seventy-five words.  Too many!  Hope you are well.  Bye!

So

The heat has broken, and it is my fault.  I moved my office to the basement to beat the heat, so the heat went away and I’ve moved the office back upstairs.  Not a big deal.  Just a laptop and some piles of paper, but apparently enough of an effort that, having made it, the forces decided to screw with me.  No matter.  It felt good to be a little cold on the ride to the garden this morning.  Restorative!

We took to the driveway with a bottle of New Mexico’s finest bubbly to celebrate the arrival of pleasant temps.  The wine wasn’t fully chilled so as soon as I pressed on the cork with my thumb it shot skyward with a huge bang.  Champagne everywhere and me counting my eyes (still two).  The cork landed seconds later–I heard it hit–but it hasn’t been found.  Who needs Estes rockets?

Lost about a glass and Lacey and I made the other four disappear in short order.  Frida started to clean the drive, but the bubbles made her sneeze so she left the rest for the flies.

Work isn’t so bad just now.  I’m taking advantage of the convergence of a free hour and tolerable temps to fire up the oven for a roasting session.  Turnips and poblano peppers got the heat treatment.  

A pressure cooker filled with garbanzos is also happening.  The turnips and garbanzos will top salads tonight.  The poblanos will get whizzed with tomatoes, onions, garlic lime and cumin to make a salsa.

The garden is offering up so many cucumbers just now.  I bring home six a day.  I have the season’s second gallon of pickles fermenting now.  Cherry tomatoes and beans are also coming home.  It is a good time to be a vegan.

I’m laughing at the uproar over Chick-fil-As gay marriage controversy.  One comment was something like I won’t eat a nugget filled with hate.  Is anyone really surprised that the president of this company is mean?  He built a business choking chickens!  That much indifference to the lives of so many beings can’t be limited to chickens.  He’s gotta spread it around some, and spread it around he has.  If you are going to boycott Chick-fil-A, don’t go next door to KFC or Popeye’s.  Send a message of true love and skip all the joints frying up critters.

Lacey brought me home this little cutie!  I named him mang (’cause he is a man and he has a mane).  Lacey hadn’t heard the term, so this link is for her.  I love him so.

That’s about it.  Be well!

Seventy Eight Degrees…

…feel like heaven when napping on a bed next to a wide open window.  But oh the humidity!  Do anything other than sit still and you are reminded you are enveloped by water logged air.  The water in the air mixes with sweat on your skin and you quickly look like you just finished playing in a sprinkler.  

Yesterday a present arrived for the Bridgestone RB-2.  I wasn’t surprised because it was from me, but I hope the RB-2 was.  New tires!  Panaracer Pasela TourGuard 700 x 28s.  The RB-2 came with new tires, but I have strong opinions about tires.  They must inspire confidence.  The tires on the RB-2 did not inspire confidence.  Panaracers do.  I also like the look of tan sidewalls.  That’s a mark of my age.  All this really tells my dear readers is that I had $70 more dollars than I needed to live.  The world is silly and I am not helping.  

I hate putting on tires.  I pinch as many tubes as I install successfully.  Yesterday I installed both new tires without ruining a single tube.  I couldn’t do a victory dance because the modest exertion required to install two tires used up all remaining energy.  I couldn’t even take the bike for a test ride.  Until today.

I pedaled a mile to my friends house, then straight home (because he wasn’t in).  The 28mm tires pretty much fill up the available space on the RB-2.  Notice the lack of space between the rear brake and the tire in the photo above.  More space in front (click on the sec on preceding photo to examine the tolerances more closely), but if you want to run symmetrical tires, the smaller gap determines max tires size.

With 95 psi of air they ride like high pressure tires.  Fast and uncomfortable.  I  could fill them to 75 psi and enjoy a smoother ride straight away, but then I’d have to pump them up sooner.  So they go to 95 and then I let them drop over a month or so to maybe 55 before I notice pumping is required.  Repeat until bike is passed on.

I pedaled to the garden today and harvested produce for donation to Squash Hunger.  I pulled out eight turnips and filled big bags of collards and mustard.  Another gardener threw in a zucchini.  I pedaled the lot to the co-op, and then home.  Growing too much always makes me feel bad.  My frugal side wants to hoard it all and then I eat the oldest stuff first and then the new tender stuff becomes old and yucky before I get to it.  Produce isn’t wine.  Better to enjoy it young (or let someone else enjoy it).  I hope to pick nice stuff weekly for donation.  That way, whenever I get through the gallon of greens in the fridge, the garden will have only nice new produce to enjoy.  Everyone wins.

On the way home I stopped at a garage sale.  I got an unglazed clay vessel from Germany that in which I will bake bread.  I have two now.  Both from garage sales.  I also got a Ouija board.  

Lacey and I sat with our hands touching the indicator for five minutes and it didn’t move.  We’ll try again later (maybe drinks help).  I also got a ball cap from the 1993 Clinton Gore inauguration.  Swank.  Oh–and a carrier for downhill skis and poles, a  jade plant, a Scrabble Sentence Word Game and another ball cap from a Troy bar.  Wowza!  Best $7 I have ever spent.

Last night was Mahar’s.  I had a cask Wandering Star Thunderbolt.  The makers call it an American IPA.  Good.  Hoppy.  Amber?  Maybe that’s the American part of it?  Just used to lighter IPAs.  Who cares, really, but I just wouldn’t have guessed it was an IPA until I went to their site.  Lacey had her ushe–a Belhaven Twisted Thistle.  We needed those two pints.  Apparently Lacey more than I.  For the first time ever Lacey beat me to the bottom of the pint!  Wonders of wonders.  Curry House worked their magic on a dish of chana masala.  Best I’ve ever tasted.  Then home to watch a French film about the plight of Gypsies during WWII.  Korkoro.  Overall it was tough to watch (sad), but  there were some beautiful moments here and there.  Give it a shot.

That’s enough of the story.  Hope you are well.

Eighty Degrees…

…feel wonderful when sitting in the shade.  Not bad, either, when pedaling at a moderate effort.  I woke up at 5:00 and pedaled to the garden to water.  Just seventy then and it felt like winter on my skin (I scandalously expose six inches of leg (between long shorts and tube socks), arms below my tee shirt sleeves and the whole of my face and neck–oh my!).  I am loving these early morning sessions.  A little watering.  A little weeding.  Some hunting for cucumbers.  I ate the first ripe cherry tomato today.  I felt bad for a moment–like I should have brought it home and cut it in half to share with Lacey.  I got over my guilt as I made it disappear in the middle of my garden in a quiet park watching the sun rise with the miraculous  tomatoey flavor whispering sincere forgiveness.  Soon there will be dozens to eat.  So many we will come to loathe them.  Hard to believe as I savored the first, but it happens every year.

I am not always so lucky.  I saved all the cucumbers I picked for the crock without tasting one.  In they went and they are half way to sour.  The crock smells so good.  Not as strong as kimchi–it doesn’t greet me at the door–but I am reminded that pickles are at work when I come into the kitchen.  Lactobacilli thrive in eighty degree water.  

Turnips!  Just a short row and still more than I care to bring home.  I need to pull them out and get them to the co-op for delivery to food shelters.  Sorry to the food shelters that I didn’t grow extra heirloom tomatoes, or sweet melons or even crisp peas.  Just so many greens, so many roots and the cucumbers that I hoard.  Beans later this year.  They are climbing up the cages now.

I saved the gallon of bitter greens.  I blanched the lot of it for about five minutes and then added some new broth.  I surely lost some vitamins but it is better than laboring through the gallon or, worse, tossing it.  I’ve eaten big bowls for lunch two days in a row.  Ten more lunches to go.

I did all that I could for work, so I pedaled to the home improvement store for a new hose splitter for the community garden.  Looks like the proper moniker is “brass 4-port manifold” (I’ll use “B4PM” as a shorthand).  I had donated a B4PM so that we could have hoses for each quadrant of the garden.  Each tap has its own on off valve.  One of the four valves was stuck in the half open position.  The control lever still moved, but it no longer changed the position of the ball that controls water flow.  It looks like a fellow gardener attempted a repair–the plastic control lever was either pounded with a stone or gnawed upon.  Their repairs didn’t take.  

When I got home I disassembled the valve.  Its a ball valve, so a control lever turns a stem with a blade on the end.  The blade mates with a channel in a ball that controls water flow.  This valve’s demise probably started with calcification of the ball.  The mineral build up made the ball difficult to turn.  The users at the garden, myself included, turned the lever harder until the plastic channel in the ball became deformed.  

When the channel was sufficiently deformed, the blade turns freely in the enlarged channel without changing the position of the ball.  I suspect this valve would have lasted longer if the manufacturer had specified a harder material for the ball.  Chromed steel, for instance.  The 4BPM would have cost a couple of bucks more, but could last years instead of one.  How long will people accept throw away products in the interest of saving a buck?  What can we do to turn the tide?

Global thinking aside, I needed a new ball.  After 22 minutes on hold with the maker’s Utah office, I learn they can’t send me a bag of balls.  They only have complete B4PMs and control levers.  Why stock control levers?  They are plastic covered metal and withstand stoning and chewing.  Does anyone ever require a replacement lever?  Stock replacements for your cheap plastic balls instead!  Apparently they weren’t going to call China to have balls shipped to me.  They offered to send a new B4PM, which is nice, but I don’t want a third so I declined.  I guess I should have accepted it and used it for parts.  I dunno.  Seemed silly.  Sillier still?  I could get military grade balls made of exotic metals from these folks, but I suspect the price would exceed my charitable budget.  Anyway, I’ve already bought a replacement B4PM and can reassemble the old B4PM with the bad valve in the closed position and use it as a B3PM.

Random idea.  Maybe not so random.  Probably too much thinking about plumbing and/or one too many episodes of Mad Men.  Here goes.  A tagline for some super butch industry.  Maybe a truck maker.  We put the man in manufacturing.  Stupid sexist, sure, but it makes me laugh that I thought of it and it isn’t on Google yet (the quintessential test of originality).  Whoever wants it can have it for free.  Maybe just send me a trucker cap with the tag line on it.  The other side of the coin?  Is it possible I just came up with the phrase womanufacturing?  Google says no.   Back to it.

After hooking up the new B4PM at the community garden, I was off to the co-op for groceries.  You know I bought another bag of cherries.  Cold from the fridge, they cool me from the inside out as I eat five too many every time.

Abrupt subject change here.  When did reading poetry become optional?  We are forced to go to school.  We have to pay taxes.  We are scoffed at if we don’t wear helmets.  Take a decade away from poetry, though, and no one raises a finger.  That should change.  Start here.  SFW since it is poetry for goodness sake.

Oh yes!  It’s Friday!  I am pleased beyond measure.  Just a few hours left of work, but that will pass.  The groceries are bought and the heat has all but stopped the grass from growing, so we’ll have time to listen to cicadas pulling long notes on their tinny one string 1/64th sized violins.  I’m thinking of trying out a recipe for mojitos with basil and oranges.  Join us, please, but know you’ll be forced to eat pickles and take home a jar of kimchi.  Sorry–that’s non-negotiable.

p.s.  Dill pickles on burritos are gross.

A Crock

It is hot as all get out here.  We slept in the basement, the three of us sharing a 3/4 sized mattress (an out of general production size that is between a twin and a full).  I woke up at 4:30 and pedaled to the garden to water.  The sunrise was beautiful.  I brought home five more cucumbers to add to the small stash in the fridge and came up with two and a  half pounds.  Too few for a full gallon of pickles, but I will add to the crock the few that present themselves tomorrow and Saturday.  

I love fermenting pickles.  Few ingredients and they are all beautiful.  The yellow liquid is pickle juice from last year.  I was going to add some to the crock but didn’t in the end.  Who wouldn’t want to spend a week in this bed?  

We still have two gallons of pickles from last year.  An embarrassment of riches.  We must eat more pickles!  Each year I put fewer plants in the ground, but I need to further limit planting.

We went to bed at sunset and the basement is quiet so the fireworks didn’t bother Frida.  It can be such a stressful day for dogs.  Our neighborhood was mostly quiet during the day, too.  We sat out on the drive with a drink at 5:00 p.m.  and didn’t hear so much as a lady finger.  I was a big fan of fireworks as a kid.  Inch and a halfers and bottle rockets were my favorites.  I didn’t have a dog at the time.  A big sorry to all the dogs I stressed out with my noise.

Lacey’s alarm just went off, so I should work on breakfast.  Much law work today, but I don’t need to start for a couple of hours.  It has been quite a morning already!  I hope yours was nice, too.