Our Neighborhood

Took a bit of longer lunch today.  Thought I was due since I distributed draft documents for my newest deal a full five days before I promised them.  Most of my working group knows me too well so my accomplishment will elicit little more than yawns, but I am still impressed by my ability to decimate deadlines as other struggle to meet them.  My secret?  Do the same work for 23 years.  You will get really good and efficient.  And continue to care.  Definitely not a super power, but hard to be sure.  They don’t make many comic books featuring bond lawyers.

Lunch?  The Orchard!  I’ve loved this place for years, but never went enough because they didn’t offer vegan cheese for their iconic pizzas.  Times are changing.  One of the owner’s sons moved in down the street and after a few introductory conversations, I asked if he’d make me a pizza with Daiya cheese that I’d bring in.  He said sure.  Between asking and getting there, he said some of his vegan relatives had recently done the same.  Today I went with Daiya in hand and shortly thereafter a pizza appeared. It was terrific!  It is clearly of a style with medium thick crust, rectangular shape and toppings on top of the cheese, but I am a fan of all styles of pizza, this one included.

I ordered the vegetarian pizza.  It includes lots of various veggies. More than I typically want on a single pizza, but it was an easy order.  All the veggies were fresh and delicious.  The crust was light and crisp with just the right amount of fat to be pleasing.  Being able to enjoy that pizza in a space that has been open since 1903 really made it special for me.  That, and the fact that my neighbor’s brother, who was behind the bar, knew I was coming and was a delight to get to know.  These people care about you and your business.  Become a regular.  It can only get better.

Pizza without beer is sad.  You won’t suffer that fate at The Orchard.  They offer a good variety of craft beer, running the gamut from hoppy ales to milder lagers and a few seasonal offerings to boot.  I enjoyed a Southern Tier Pumking with my inaugural pizza.  My first but not my last.

Unofficial word is a person should be able to walk into The Orchard and order a vegan pie by 2016.  The sons are working on their father.  Until then, bring in a bag of Daiya and blame your behavior on me.  I do not think they will blink.  I’ve paved the way.  You are welcome.

Funny thing about an owner’s perception of new markets–they might think they know the market based on what their customers request.  That has to be an imperfect measure with the vegan market.  How many vegans study menus and/or Happy Cow before heading out the door?  I do and I can’t be alone.  So we as a group don’t go places that don’t offer us anything or little and the proprietor never hears from us.  They don’t know we are out there.  This proprietor knows we are out there.  People do ask for vegan pies.  But do they know how many of us are out there?  Call!  Show up with Daiya!  Make it happen!  I want to have another joint that I can call a home away from home.  Don’t you?

What else?  After such a good lunch experience, my companion and I headed to Maserati of Albany (naturally).  I love cars but know very little about these rare machines.  A dealership opened down the street from the Orchard (in a former RV sales lot), so today was the day to learn.  I was greeted as soon as I stepped out of my car and then left to peruse the lot.  They had a bunch of Maseratis.  Sedans and coupes.  I noted two models–Quattroporte and Ghibli–ranging from $100 k to $150 k in round numbers.  Seemed like a lot of dough to drop in an RV sales lot, until you think about how much RVs cost.  I did see a used Maserati for $40 k.  About $20 k more than I am comfortable paying for a car, but it might be fun to check out if your purse strings are looser than mine.  I will say my father would have died to see such fancy cars covered in dust.  He’d buy and tape to the hands of every salesperson California dusters so they could keep the fleet looking up to snuff.

That’s about it.  Frida is still chugging.  Walks a bit slower on the second half of her walk, but recent tests indicate her kidney function is the same as it was a year ago.  Looks like she just might live forever.  Here’s hoping.  ft

I’ve pedaled some locally but not nearly as much as I should during the pleasant season.  Already regretting that.  That’s how I know it is October without looking at a calendar–the season of regret.  Sigh.  I’ve still been cooking up a storm.  Ethiopian.  Mexican.  Things with kimchi.  Tweeting about it instead of writing here.

Twitter.  I guess it’s a good thing.  It’s easier to write short posts than long blogs.  Probably more fun to read, too.  @randypedals if you want to have a go.  This post is roughly 5,700 characters.  With a 140 character limit per a tweet, this post would need to be broken up into 41 tweets.  But if I tweeted the concepts in this post, they’d amount to little more than this:

@TheOrchard1903 Thanks for the vegan pizza!  Vegans–bring Daiya today or wait until 2016.  #fingerscrossed

@MaseratiAlbany Thanks for letting us drool on your inventory!  Saving pennies (for the $40,000 used car)!  Lexi = best salesperson eva!

That’s probably better than this long winded post, but I will keep writing here too (if only because my mom asked me to).

I note that The Orchard has 410 followers on Twitter (now 411).  Maserati Albany?  Two (now three).  To be fair, The Orchard has been around longer than Maserati (established as a company in 1914 and in Albany since [earlier this year?]).  So it really isn’t a fair fight.  Let’s give the newcomer a chance to catch up.

Be well!

Just This

Watch me.  It is what Frida would ask you to watch if she had a blog, and you can stream it on Netflix, yo!

Frida 09.15.15


I buy my chilis from the Mexican grocery on Central (the shelves of which, by the way, didn’t seem nearly so bare a week ago when I bought a throw pillow sized bag of beautiful pulla chilis for $8).  That said, they rarely have and I don’t need New Mexico chilis, but I made a bag appear on my doorstep nonetheless.NMC

I formed the idea by seeing them in a recipe for berbere from Teff Love.  I made a batch of berbere with costeña chilis from the Mexican grocery that came out great but there’s nothing wrong with a few more dried peppers in the pantry.  Incidentally, I learned New Mexican chilis are sold labeled either hot or mild.  I’ve seen so many recipes calling for New Mexican chilis and none have ever specified the heat.  Since the recipes have been for Thai curry pastes and now Ethiopian spice blends, I guess they want the hot kind.  Chilis are complicated in a good way.ONMC

So what to do with the New Mexicans?  The bag had a recipe for red chili sauce that used twelve of the twenty-eight peppers I received.  On it!NMCSo

The recipe stuck pretty close to Mexican chili sauce recipes I’ve seen–stem, seed, soak, blend, sauté–but this one was thickened with a roux.  Worked well.  Only tweak I’d make in the future is to add less salt.  I hesitated as I added two teaspoons of salt to the blender (no going back!), but I trusted.  Too much for my palate, but not enough to ruin the batch.  I just finished a quarter cup on chips as I typed. NMCS

If you buy these chilis and make the recipe on the bag, leave out the salt to the end.  At that point everything is in the sauce and the simmering is done, so you really know how much is needed.Muddy Paws

Frida is doing very well.  The heat slows her some but not enough to concern.  This morning she enjoyed a walk through a very mucky mud puddle.  When will her story end?  I’d hope for never, but that’d be wrong.

Take care!


I ordered a 6-well donut pan from USA Pans.  It arrived today so I got right to work.  The recipe I cobbled together for my cast iron heart pan yielded a bit too much batter (the donuts baked over the edge of the mold a bit), so I adjusted the recipe downward.  The second reduced batch worked well in this pan, so here you go.First Donut 08.31.15

Baked Chocolate Cake Donuts with Boozy Chocolate Ganache

(Shh.  They’re vegan.)

Makes 6 full size donuts


Whisk Together Dry:

1 C flour (I used 1/2 all purpose and 1/2 whole wheat pastry)

1/4 C cocoa powder

2 T ground flax seeds

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

Whisk Together Wet:

1/3 C sugar (not wet, I know, but this is where you want it)

2/3 C soymilk

2 T Miyoko’s soured coconut milk (plain unsweetened yogurt, apple sauce, mushed bananas or more milk should also work fine)

2 T canola oil

1 t vanilla

Combine Dry and Wet.

Fill wells about 2/3 full.  I used a tablespoon and ladled the batter into each mold twice–first one side of a well and then the other.  If you put the same amount in each well, this recipe should be just the right amount for this 6-well pan.

Bake at 350 for 14 minutes.


1/2 C chocolate chips

1 T soy milk

1 T booze (I’ve enjoyed bourbon and mescal)

pinch salt

Once donuts are cool, microwave the ganache ingredients for 20 seconds then stir for a good amount of time.  The ingredients will continue to melt and smooth out as you stir.   If you can’t get it smooth, microwave 5 seconds more and stir again.  Repeat, until the ganache is smooth.  25 seconds worked for me.

Dip the donuts in the ganache and then allow to cool.  Eat one then pedal somewhere.Biking around Loon Lake 08.29.15


Smaller Victories

Last night I pedaled to Tampopo to eat a bowl of ramen before the first meeting of the Unofficial Olde English Scotch Club.  The vegetable ramen without “spicy” but with Sriracha was very much to my liking.  While there, I learned you can sit on the back side of the right hand counter, so I did.

Then to the first of hopefully many meetings (at the Olde English Pub and Pantry), where the entirety of the membership in attendance enjoyed a glass of The Macallan 17yr.  Obviously a very fine drink.

I noted that the Olde English Pub and Pantry has on tap Captain Lawrence Brewing Company’s Grapefruit IPA.  Everyone who speaks of it says it is better than Ballast Point’s Sculpin Grapefruit IPA.  Odd that the CLGIPA is not listed on the Captain’s site, but there is a Citrus Queen.  Anyway, the keg of  the CLGIPA at Oliver’s is kicked and Dan at the Olde English said that although they have four 1/2 barrel kegs, they once kicked a full 1/2 barrel keg in an evening (that’s 124 16 oz pours).  I guess that means I should soon get there again.  IMG_1313

Today the garden shared two bright red Padrón peppers (as well as kale, cukes and tomatillos).  I’ve never had luck growing peppers of any variety, and this year is no different.  Before today, my four Parón plants have produced roughly one pepper each.  Oh how I’d love to be inundated with Padrón peppers!  I’d fry, salt and eat a basket full with a bottle or two of beer.  Three hours from now, of course.IMG_1311

While I worked at the garden Frida made her way into the shed.  She never showed interest in going into our prior dog’s house in Omaha so never thought to buy her a house when we moved here.  I wonder if we should try.  That, or maybe a proper shed would please her.  She was reluctant to leave this one.  Anything for this dog.

Time to go.  Take care.

Fish are Cool

I used to fish as a kid. I was told fish don’t feel pain.  That worked some but I always kinda wondered.  Not enough to stop fishing, but enough to make it less fun.  mot

Today I googled it.  This was the first thing that came up.  Sounded like it might be kind of fun (for a vegan) to read, but it wasn’t.  Made me sad, actually.  I had forgotten there was a thing called catch and release and that it made some people feel better about fishing.

I don’t think often or deeply about animal rights.  I pretty much stop with the golden rule.  In the context of catch and release fishing, it probably isn’t persuasive to people who fish to ask would you want to be hooked, hauled somewhere you didn’t mean to go and then released.  They’d say something along the lines of “fish don’t feel pain the same way we do.  They have a different physiology.”  I don’t know.  They don’t know.  Impasse?

How about another road?  Instead of catching people with hooks, let’s use the example of express kidnappings.  Seems like a pretty good parallel to me–the victim isn’t often hurt and the kidnappers don’t get a whole bunch of money, so where is the harm?  Sure, the victim is rattled and maybe out of breath, but they are soon on their way.  jot

Scientists will continue to torture inconvenience animals to answer this question and so many others, but I can stop with the golden rule.

Hey Dad.  Don’t take this the wrong way.  I loved fishing with you.  One of my best memories.  We were who we were.  Today?  I’d love to make tamales with you.  Something tells me you may have encountered tamales as a kid in Oklahoma.  Either way, let’s make tamales together soon.

Time to do laundry.  Have a good one.

These Things

I spent a day at my inlaws’ place and oh what a time I had.  They have 14 acres of woods through which my father in law used to cut trails.  He hasn’t in a couple of years and I had a moment, so I had a go at it.  Lawn tractor time!IMG_1284

Although his tractor had been recently serviced, the ten year old battery sitting without a charger for a month did nothing to help start the beast.  He has jumped it with cables and his car, so that is what I did.  Easy as pie.  On to the trail cutting.  The land isn’t level and is bisected by a stone wall, so you have to cut two separate trail systems and then connect them with a weed whacked path.  The first set of trails went pretty well until I high centered the mower on an unseen rock.  Wasn’t hard to do since the vegetation was between knee high and head high.  I didn’t want to get off the mower because the seat has a sensor that shuts off the mower  if you get up.  I was pretty sure the battery wasn’t charged enough to restart the mower.  So I sat for a moment before doing what had to be done.  I got off the mower and pulled the thing off of the rock.  Not easy (understatement) but I managed to free it without breaking myself.  As I feared, it wouldn’t restart, so I pushed it to my car which was very luckily not far and downhill.  Second jumpstart and off I went to mow the second set of trails on the upper seven acres.

These were much worse.  Very uneven land and very high vegetation.  No sign at all of the previous trails.  My memory didn’t help much either.  Despite taking great care, I managed to get the tractor stuck many more times in many different ways.  Once I beached it in a gully so that the front and back frames were on ground and the drive wheels were unweighted.  I was able to carefully rock back and forth out of that predicament without dismounting.  Another time I was pointed downhill and managed to wedge a small tree between the nose of the tractor and the wheel.  It wasn’t going anywhere.  I didn’t want to walk down the hill and tell my father in law that his tractor was stuck up the hill, please call for help, so I did what I had to do–dismounted, killed the engine and lifted the front of the tractor off the tree and pushed it about five feet up the hill.  The thing weighed a ton.  Not sure how I did it (embarrassment induced adrenaline helped) without hurting myself, and low and behold the battery had enough juice to get the thing started.

Should have quit then but I was possessed.  After all that turmoil I wasn’t going to stop until I had a complete trail system.  After all, it is Frida’s favorite thing in the world to hunt around those trails for rabbits and poop and whatnot.  Onward for Frida!  Not long after, I got stuck again.  This time I saw Lacey wading through a field of blackberry bushes (thorns and all).  I’d been gone too long and she was worried.  I waived her over and got her seated on the thing so I could push while she drove.  Together we got it mostly done and it was clearly time to call it quits.  Clear because Lacey brought reason into the mix.  Thank you Lacey!

I managed to eat, sleep and socialize, but the next morning I didn’t hesitate before having another go.  Most of the hard work was done, but the two trails were still not connected.  I started with a  weed whacker and cleared a connecting trail over the rock wall.  Then back on the mower to finish the job.  I was ten times as cautious this time, didn’t get stuck once and the trails are done.  Sad thing is I didn’t even get to walk them with Frida.  We’ll have to head back soon.  Hopefully my nephews will enjoy them when they get home from camp.  It is a magical place and is all but inaccessible without the trails.

Phew!  What else?  Glad to be home and have a look around the garden.  I picked from the ground a pound of fallen tomatillos.  I now have a quart of tomatillo sauce from a recipe in Rick Bayless’ Authentic Mexican.  Next I whipped up roughly five pints of butter from Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry.  I doubled the recipe because the butter is supposed to freeze well.  I now have what I expect will be a year’s supply of homemade vegan butter.  If you are local and want to give the recipe a go, hit me up for a container of lecithin.  I was glad my co-op had a bottle, but it is a huge bottle, at least a quart, and I only needed 4 Tbs. for a year’s supply of butter.  That works out (without careful math) to enough lecithin for 18 years worth of butter.  Seriously.  You’d be doing me a favor to ask for a 1/2 cup or more.  The butter?  Beautiful color and texture and I like it better than Earth Balance.  Give it a go!  IMG_1287

Anything else?  I plucked from the curb a broken beach chair.  Didn’t seem broken on my first inspection but I expected something was wrong or it wouldn’t be at the curb.  When I got home, I saw that a nut on a pivot bolt had pulled through the aluminum tubing and the tubing was cracked at the other end as well.  I second of chin scratching yielded a memory of a saved aluminum shaft from my previous weed whacker.  I could barely believe it but the tubing was the exact size and even had a hole drilled through one end that was the exact size I needed to replace the broken piece.  I had to drill one more hole and then about a dozen pilot holes for the screws that hold the cloth seating surface in place.  With that in place, the chair was almost as good as new.  Only almost because I damaged another piece of aluminum tubing as I wrested the broken pice free.  If I had a pop rivet gun I could have easily disassembled it and put it back together with ease, but I’ve been dragging my feet on buying the gun.  Maybe this will inspire me to make the buy.  Anyway, a hose clamp is now supporting the tube I cracked and it all seems to be fine.  I’ll try it out tonight in the driveway.IMG_1282

Lunchtime.  Take care.