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|Friday, February 14th, 2014|
|Sunday, January 27th, 2013|
|Sunday, December 16th, 2012|
|Sunday, February 5th, 2012|
|The sweet rewards of procrastination
When we lived in Veneta, I brewed up six one-gallon batches of mead (most of them were more properly melomels). They blew off big time in my brewing cabinet, and I cleaned up the mess a bit, put clean airlocks in all of the bottles, and... didn't exactly forget about them, but ignored them.
Some years later, when we moved back inside the Eugene city limits I took them along, and stashed them in the top shelf of our pantry, thinking, "I'll deal with those soon." That was over a year and a half ago.
Today I was siphoning a couple of five-gallon batches of cyser into carboys to clear, and I decided while I was at it to finally deal with the ancient one-gallon batches.
The necks were filled with crusty residue, the outside covered in sticky dust, and the bottoms were coated in sludge -- in some cases an inch and a half thick. But I sampled them anyway. One batch of cyser and a batch of sweet mead were undrinkable; I'm not knowledgeable enough to be able to diagnose what did them in, but they weren't worth the trouble of doing anything but flushing them down the drain. But the remaining four were pretty darn good.
So I siphoned them into clean jugs, and they're all lovely and clear and delicious.
The first thing that comes to mind is that I should have a series of parties to share around a gallon at a time. It strikes me as being similar to the Victorian mummy unwrapping parties, which is an unpleasantly ghoulish thought... but I guess since I made these mummy meads, and they're not people after all, I can get over my moral disgust.
|Monday, December 26th, 2011|
|Holiday libations and a minor feast
I made this one as written, and I wanted it to be a bit creamier and peppermintier. So then I made it with equal parts of all of the liquid ingredients, and I liked it better. 2 ounces of each ingredient filled my martini glass to the brim... 1.5 ounces of each ingredient would be plenty.
This recipe made a nice homemade-feeling eggnog, with very little work, and filled my blender carafe to the absolute limit! Due to the ingredients I had on hand, I replaced all 20 ounces of the dairy with half-and-half, and used a couple of ounces of white rum, a couple of ounces of brandy, and four ounces of Jameson whiskey in place of the four ounces each of spiced rum and brandy listed. I think the half-and-half worked fine, but I do enjoy spiced rum in my eggnog, so I'll have to make a point of having that on hand next year.
For Santa Claus, we made sugar cookies. (I need to find an easy icing solution before next year... I think pasteurized egg whites are readily available in the grocery store, so I may try out the companion icing recipe). For Christmas Day breakfast, French toast. For dinner, lentil sausage stew with sour cream; I like to replace the celery and greens with the stalks and leaves of some red chard.
|Saturday, November 12th, 2011|
|Jack-o-lantern pics and Halloween notes for next year
This is my Cthulhu jack-o-lantern:
Riley requested Minnie Mouse, and Joellen delivered (using this pattern) with some fine lines:
I did a little asymmetrical face on a little punkin:
Last but not least, Joellen's 50-lb. masterpiece:
Note to self: I got two 150-piece bags of candy from Costco, and handed out two pieces per trick-or-treater, and pretty close to all of it was gone by the end of the evening. And the last trick-or-treater came by at about 8:30.
|Thursday, July 28th, 2011|
|Tuesday, May 24th, 2011|
|A glimpse of Dreamland
Google Maps has some pretty detailed shots of Area 51.
When I first heard about the aerial photos feature in Google Maps, this is one of the first things I looked up. The photos weren't nearly as good then as they are now.
Of course there's nothing especially revealing (at least not to me) in these photos, but one thing I find interesting is the parking lots full of white cars and trucks. Whatever else goes on there (and I fall squarely on the skeptic side of that issue), it must be an incredible logistical challenge to maintain a facility big enough to need cars to get around, that requires what is obviously a pretty large staff, in a very remote location. And keep it more or less a secret.
|Saturday, April 23rd, 2011|
|Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011|
|Brand new person
The delivery went smoothly. Joellen and Emily are both doing well.
|Sunday, February 20th, 2011|
The other day, we had a bit of an urgent childcare need. My mother-in-law Connie usually sits a six-month-old relative during the day, so she agreed to bring her over to our house so she could sit Riley, too.
That afternoon, I called to check if Connie needed anything, and during our conversation she stopped and said, "Riley, I don't think that's a good idea."
In the background, I heard Riley reply, "I'm just jumpin' over the baby."
|Monday, February 14th, 2011|
|Prize-winning Valentine's Day cookie
We had a cookie-decorating contest at work, and I took third prize!
First and second prize were awarded to friends of mine, people I know well enough that they've been to my house. I wonder what that says about me, that my friends are better-than-average cookie decorators.
|Saturday, February 12th, 2011|
I dreamed I had a hoverbike, modelled after the speederbikes in Return of the Jedi. It was definitely a toy, four or five feet long and made of plastic. But it was strong enough to hold me. And it ran on three AA batteries.
Just before I woke up, I was gathering a helmet, extra batteries, a timer. Planning to take it onto the Fern Ridge bike path for some serious experimentation. How fast could it go? How well did it take corners? How did the brakes work? How long would the batteries last? Could it handle uneven terrain? Hills? Would it fly over water? Most importantly, how fast could it go?
|Tuesday, February 1st, 2011|
|I should cook more!
A recent XKCD is awfully familiar.
Coming home and starting dinner and then eating an hour or more later doesn't work out for us, so I've dusted off the ol' slow cooker for our most recent efforts to cook more. My secret (aaaah, I just told the whole Internet!) to a hearty stew is a can or two of Italian recipe stewed tomatoes, and I found a recipe for lentil sausage soup that's turned out very well.
|Sunday, December 26th, 2010|
|The saga of Jamie
Christmas Eve morning, Joellen headed downstairs with wee Riley for the usual morning routine. On the couch was a snoozing body in a bulky hooded jacket.
Now, we've recently had a death in the family, and we have a bereaved relative staying with us. So Joellen doesn't panic. She concludes we're unexpectedly (but not unwillingly) hosting a young adult niece of hers from out of town, surely invited in late at night by the aforementioned bereaved relative. So she goes about her business in the kitchen, lets the dog out the back door. Then she approaches our sleeping guest, gently touches the hooded head, and says, "Are you okay?"
The gentleman sits up. "Yeah, I'm okay." Disoriented.
Joellen now knows she's not dealing with her young niece. "Who are you?"
"My name's Jamie."
"What are you doing here, Jamie?"
Still disoriented. "I came last night... with the people...."
"I don't know what people you're talking about." Joellen decides now might be a good time to get wee Riley out of the situation and get some backup.
When she wakes me up to tell me there's a strange man in our house, I frantically throw on clothes and head down the stairs. I don't know what I'm going to do about him, but I'm not going to leave him alone down there.
When I get downstairs, it's empty. No one on the couch, no one in the bathroom. Front door ajar.
I head out the front door and there's a gentleman standing in the street, facing our house. One of the sleeves of his black jacket is muddy. When he sees me, he avoids eye contact, and walks away. I assume it's the couch-sleeping stranger, but I didn't get a description from Joellen. And I don't really know what to say. What do you say to a guy who may or may not have just taken an unauthorized nap on your couch?
I go back in the house to take a quick inventory. No sign of a break-in. Stereo untouched. CDs untouched. Presents under the tree untouched. Bereaved relative's laptop untouched. So, we haven't been robbed. But there is mud on the couch.
I head for the back yard, which has a good view of the main way in or out of our subdivision. No sign of the stranger.
I compare notes with Joellen, and she confirms that the gentleman I saw was the one who was on our couch, who identified himself as Jamie. I fire up the computer and look up the number of the Eugene PD. They tell me that since he's gone and there doesn't seem to have been a crime committed (after he got into the house, anyway), there's not much they can do.
So that's the saga of Jamie. Based on his hazy statement that he came with some people, and on his rapid vanishing act, I assume he's connected with someone in the neighborhood. I think I left the front door unlocked when I went to retrieve something from the car the night before. I reckon he got drunk with a group of my neighbors, he followed them into the subdivision, he somehow got separated from them, and he wandered through the first door he saw. I imagine him looking around, saying, "Where the heck did everybody go?" before he passed out on the couch.
So is he out there, telling this story in reverse? Is it the sort of story you tell other people?
|Sunday, May 30th, 2010|
Our new fridge has a water dispenser on the front.
We have a toddler in the house.
|Friday, January 8th, 2010|
|Thursday, November 26th, 2009|
|On cranberry sauce
I love discovering that the best way to cook something is the simplest. I contributed turkey and cranberry sauce to the Thanksgiving feast with my wife's family this year. I had some glitches with the turkey (I should make turkey a few times through the year to practice it), but my cranberry sauce was definitely successful. I used this recipe, and it was so quick, simple, and delicious that I don't know why anybody ever buys that canned cranberry jelly. I didn't add the optional pecans, though that sounds good. I added a dribble of vanilla extract and some ground cinnamon after the simmer, and it rounded it out nicely.
A few years back I used Alton Brown's cranberry dipping sauce recipe. I enjoyed it, but it's more work and a lot more ingredients than the recipe above. It also makes a lot more sauce from the same twelve-ounce bag of fresh cranberries. A lot more. Way more than you could use on three turkeys. And it wasn't nearly as popular at dinner time, so I had a ton of leftover cranberry sauce.
That's how I discovered that good cranberry sauce is really yummy on vanilla ice cream.
Joellen, on the other hand, was in charge of pies this year. She made her late grandmother's crust recipe from scratch, and we disassembled, steamed, peeled, and pureed fresh pumpkin for filling. The hard way really does make a better pie.
Cranberry sauce, though, wants to be simple.
|Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009|
|Saturday, September 26th, 2009|
|Wii games on my feet
The Wii has some innovative controls, and one of the nice ones is the balance board. But I can't help thinking that game designers are really missing the boat.
Nearly all of the Wii games that employ the balance board (as the primary or optional control) are sports or exercise themed. As a fat gamer, I'm really not that interested in sports and exercise. I mean, I know I need more exercise, but an exercise theme doesn't motivate me to play.
Because I know I need exercise, I like that the balance board gets me on my feet and makes me move them around. But I don't like that it just makes me feel like I'm exercising. If I liked exercise, I'd be doing it already. I want a game that motivates me to exercise, but isn't about exercise.
What I want is a strategy game that has an option for using the balance board as a basic control. Not as a dexterity, balance, or timing challenge, but just as left-and-right control buttons, that I have to use constantly through the game. Make a game that gets me on my feet and makes me step up and down on the balance board constantly. And is addictive to play.
Do they still make good Nintendo strategy games? I remember playing Romance of the Three Kingdoms on my NES for hours on end. Or something like Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. Those are the games I really want to play.
But I want to play 'em on my feet.