Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Home made Hot Sauce


I love hot sauce!  No habanero, no scorpion peppers, no ghost peppers, good old-fashioned sauce.   I want it hot, but i want to be able to taste the ingredients, like salsa.  I found a recipe for homemade sauce a couple months ago and I'm now on my second batch.  It comes out somewhere between Tabasco® Chipotle and Cholula®.  I use half and half white and cider vinegar for a little different background taste.  If you want to try this, I sincerely recommend that you use fresh spices, it makes a lot of difference. None of those canned powdered whatevers that should have been removed from your cupboard back in 2009!  I get all my spices at the Savory Spice Shop,     http://www.savoryspiceshop.com

One more note:  wash your hands a couple or three times after making the sauce and before touching any part of your face....  just sayin'.
In a blender or food processor, combine:
1/2 tsp leaf Cilantro (not ground)
1/2 tsp leaf Mexican Oregano (also not ground)
4 whole (seeded) smoked dried Serrano chiles
1 Tbsp granulated onion
1 tsp granulated garlic
2 Tbsp ground New Mexico mild red chiles
1/2 tsp sea salt
... You'll probably have to seed the dried chiles yourself - be patient, and thorough. You'll like the sauce much better without the seeds.

Grind to a powder, transfer dry ingredients to an intermediate jar or bowl unless you have a wide-mouth bottle like this one to mix and refrigerate in: --------->>
Add:
1/2 cup vinegar (half and half white and cider)
Use some of the vinegar to clean out the blender/processor, you want every last bit of the ingredients in the bottle.

Bottle and refrigerate.  I have no idea how long this might keep in the refrigerator, that would depend on your fridge's temperature, etc. I use it too fast to pay any attention.  I have had a bottle last as long as a month.....because I used it that fast.


Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Better Safe Than .......

 I always have had the outlook that if the whole situation goes up the flue, I'd rather be prepared than not.  Starting as far back as I can remember, Dad and Mom always had the capability of packing up and "headin' fer the hills' at the drop of a hat.  I think it was the desire to get up into good fishing territory that spurred them to be prepared.  That and having grown up and lived through the depression.  I was in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts too, and we always had quick access to our 'camping stuff' back then as well.  Light, warmth, communication, food, shelter, and protection -- the basics.  I'm getting closer.
  
 

There's no lack of goodies out there, but I'm trying to do this as cheaply as I can without a lot of compromise in quality.  I already have a bunch of stuff, now I'm fiddling with it, trying to make it lighter weight, more compact sized, and so on.  Fun - and it may very well be useful, the way things seem to be going.

No, there's no picture of my weaponry - none of anybody's business until they're looking at the business end of it.  Let's just say that I can make life a distressing and hurtful place for somebody who wants to be obnoxious.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Differing views

This morning in the park (twenty degrees and windy -brrr) I found a few oak leaves floating in the shade; here are some different views - different light by moving my camera position six feet...



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday Morning Miscellanea

As I usually do, I had my camera with me when I was walking at the park this morning; the sun was just hitting the tops of the trees, and there was a pair of wood ducks sitting on the bridge railing, discussing possible nesting sites (I think).  Couldn't resist. 
1/800 at f/3.5, iso 800
1/160 at f/3.5, iso 800

1/200 at f/3.5, iso 800

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ice In Transition

The ice on the lake this morning seems to be confused: 

The water level came up last night with snow and rain, then things froze before the water level fell during the night.  This is what resulted. 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Parts & Pieces

Just a quick snap of my D300 with the Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 and AC3 zone controller.  Also, the power cable from the camera keeps the MiniTT1 powered on without using the TT1's 2450 coin cell, which is a bit hard to find at the local grocery.  
I'm really having a lot of fun with all this Pocket Wizard stuff.  

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Ow, that was bright!

The camera has grabbed me again; i've got so many hobbies that sometimes I lose track (was going to say focus, but that might be too much) of one or more of them for a while.  I got interested again in flash pictures, and particularly remote flash.  

By remote flash, I am talking about rf(radio-triggered) flash vs. the excellent CLS™ {Creative Lighting System} already built into all the Nikon cameras and Speedlights that operates via infrared light, and thus is limited to line-of-sight applications.  I love the Nikon CLS system - it's very versatile, does absolutely everything--but it's hard to use outside in really bright sunlight, and of course if you want to place a flash somewhere that's completely hidden from the camera, you can't access it via CLS.  

So, I went on the search for some Pocket Wizard units.  I found a couple items used, in local camera stores or on eBay, and purchased the rest from Pocket Wizard® dealers, notably B&H Photo.  

Wow!  Fun stuff.  Now I'm having to give myself a refresher course in portrait photography, and fill-flash in general, because with the Nikon system it's brainless.  Oh well, always something to learn.  

So far I have a MiniTT1 and two FlexTT5s for Nikon, 
an AC-3 zone controller and a PlusIII for some special 
fiddling using relaying.  
The PW stuff has been fun to learn, and I may be on the track with some of the things I've tried in the past month or so.  My first project was the Kerosene Lantern in the Barn shot [published in the blog on February 2nd] using one remote flash 
hidden out of sight in the barn, gelled with a full cut CTO gel to make its light nice and warm.  
Lots of nice comments on that shot, so I guess it's all right.  I think I could have done better, but I feel that way about most things I do....  



Kyri teaches at Arapahoe Community College, 
and the  College asked her to turn in a head shot
(I'm assuming for the course catalog or an ID-card
so I had another thing to try.  This is the shot  she 
eventually picked; it was done with two flashes, 
a sofrbox, and a warm-surfaced reflector.  More fun!

I suppose I'll be adding some more pictures to the blog, taken with off-camera flash and the PW units from time to time as I discover more things to do with them.  I will say that it's a blast to be able to trigger a flash a hundred or so feet away from inside a building.  All sorts of possibilities.  More tk.

Life Passages

A few days back, on February 20th, our little house lion, Glory, stepped from this life into the Summerland.  We found Glory nineteen years ago, as a still-wet newborn kitten, under a shed near where Kyri was living at the time.  His momma was nowhere to be found, so we scooped him up and rushed to the emergency animal clinic, where we were told he probably wouldn't last out the day, certainly not the week.  But, the vet told us, if we were determined to try, he would give us some kitten formula to try, but he said we most likely couldn't get him to eat.

Kyri cuddled and fed the little squirt every few minutes for a couple days, starting with a hypodermic syringe, then a doll's baby bottle, and so on.  He became attached to her, and her other cat Oliver, and "Uncle Oliver" showed him the ropes, how to clean himself, where to poop, and so on.  This was quite a relief to Kyri, who had been bathing him in the bathroom sink.

So, the little guy who was supposed to die at a few hours old lived almost nineteen years.  In human years, he would have been 119 years old this coming August.  I guess he was supposed to come to us.  He was never sick a day in his life, and was a wonderful companion; he spent most of his afternoons sleeping on my shoulder, and curled up with Kyri every night, keeping her neck warm.  He was bright and cheerful for so many years, only in the last eighteen months or so losing a good portion of his eyesight from cataracts, and his hearing faded pretty badly, which made him a little jumpy and grumpy and easy to startle.  He was only in mild discomfort the last day and a half of his whole life, but his digestion pretty much shut down, and he couldn't stand up very well the last few hours, so we knew it was time.

We held and cuddled and warmed his little body through the first hours of his life, and at the end, we held him in our arms as he took his last few breaths on this plane.  Thanks so much to Caring Pathways, who sent out one of their mobile vets to assist him on his way.  We laid him to rest in a nice sunny spot in the garden, with a catnip sock, wrapped in his favorite blanket.  

Blessed Be, little guy.  See you down the road.

I have hundreds of shots of Glory, this is one from a year ago.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Playing with Remote Flash

A couple weeks ago I picked up a used Pocket Wizard FlexTT5® for the Nikon from my local camera store, after reading lots of literature about Pocket Wizard™products.  PW radios for the Nikon allow you to use iTTL (thru-the-lens metering) for any number of remote flashes.  Then a few days later I bid on and won the companion MiniTT1®, and started playing.  For me, the results have been impressive, and I've been having a ball.

This shot is a good example.  I wanted a winter shot with the kerosene lantern to 'look like' the only light source in the barn, but by itself it doesn't cast enough light to properly expose the rest of the stall.  So, MiniTT1® on the camera, FlexTT5® under an SB-900 Nikon flash, on a small tripod behind the wall in a corner, gelled to match the really warm light from the lantern.
Nikon D300
28mm f/1.4 lens
1/30th second at f/8, ISO 400
Nikon SB-900 flash, full-cut CTO gel
...Lantern: W.T. Kirkman #2 Cold Blast

Sunday, November 10, 2013

We didn't have the "green thing" in our day

I have seen this multiple times, the most recent was on 'off-camber.com'.  I'm only 66, but I remember lots of the things mentioned here.


Seniors, don't apologize for not
"Being Green"....

Recently while checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the 'green thing' in our day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.  So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our
scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the "green thing" in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile  item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the "green thing." We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.
And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then?

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off...especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smart ass who can't make change without the cash register telling them how much.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

New and very useful camera accessory

I saw this a couple-three months ago on Kickstarter, and I thought it might just solve a problem I have noted with my early morning perambulations.  The Camera Clip, by Peak Design Ltd.  I walk around the lake at the park each morning for exercise, and I always have my cellphone with me.

I think my phone (Apple iPhone 4s) takes very nice pictures, but it is a pretty small lens, and not great resolution compared to my Nikons.  I just hate having a camera on a neck strap swinging around, banging me on the chest, and swinging out in front of me when I bend over to look at something on the ground, always have.

Enter the Camera Clip®.  Lightweight, attaches to most belts, bag straps, backpack shoulder straps, purse straps (I suppose), and provides a secure, quick place to clip your camera.  They have some nifty accessories for the Camera Clip as well, for very large cameras and very small POV-type video cams.

The camera plate comes in three varieties, an Arca Swiss plate, a Manfrotto-style, and a 4/3 plate for smaller cameras.  The camera plate will also allow you to attach your camera to the proper tripod easily, or the whole clip will attach to a tripod via a tripod screw.

You should check them out:  http://www.peakdesignltd.com.

The Camera Clip and camera plate  
                         
The Camera Clip on my shoulder bag
My Nikon clipped to my bag

Saturday, September 07, 2013

So, I've had the weather station

software up and running for a week now, and in general I'm pretty satisfied with the Davis WeatherLink product.  The weather station will run with Weather Display®, but there are a couple of irritating setup and communications quirks that WD has with newer Davis stations.  The WD software asks if you have a revision B data logger, and the revisions are already up to revision E.  And, the software simply will not save the setup file properly, so every time you fire up the software you have to go into the configuration screen and once again, tell WD that your Davis station does NOT have a revision B data logger.  Grrr.

On the other hand, WeatherLink® has its own foibles.  The software's appearance looks very '1995'-ish, no high color graphics here.  Looks like it's not been rewritten since about the Windows95® era.  And, of course the console has it's own stubbornness.  The console resets every night at midnight, period.   At least WD will allow you to reset the data stream (not the station) at any hour of the day you might want.  I do my weather net reporting at about 0630, so I prefer it to reset at 0700.

At present, WeatherLink will grudgingly allow you to connect to the Citizens' Weather Observing Program (CWOP) run by Russ Chadwick at NOAA, and there is an expansion module so you can send your data to the Weather Underground site, but that's about it.  Oh, and don't bother with the Davis WeatherLink website, unless you've ponied up the big bucks for the WeatherLink IP data logger and subscribed, for $30 yearly to the service.  Whereas, Weather Display pretty much allows you to send data to anybody, including Twitter and Facebook.

Overall I'm very satisfied with the station, the data logger and the software, just picky little stuff that still irritates me a bit.  My CWOP findu address is http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/wxpage.cgi?call=n0erg and I'm on Weather Underground at http://www.wunderground.com/q/zmw:80110.1.99999
 




Thursday, September 05, 2013

GREEN CHILI

I admit it, I'm a green chili addict.  I have no idea how this 

happened, but I sure know when.  Do you remember your first bowl of green?  So, the Indians, we are told, needed a way to keep bugs out of their drying and dried foodstuffs; happy accident that they discovered the chile pepper in all its multiple green, yellow and red varieties.  Green chiles have been shown to aid in the production of endorphins, the brain chemicals that make you feel "good."  This is a great thing for me.  

We use a lot of these great pungent peppers, I make green chili, posole, green chili & pork, and green enchilada sauce, we add them to hamburgers, put them on top of steaks on the grill, ..... and on and on.  

Just put up this year's batch, about a bushel and a half mixed mild and medium heat, roasted with a few heads of garlic.   If used judiciously, they will almost last us through the winter...

I wouldn't want to live around Hatch, New Mexico because it's too hot in the summer, but I wouldn't mind being right smack in the middle of green chili heaven during harvest.

Roasted, peeled, and bagged ready for the freezer

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Stormy Weather... IV

I will get off the weather station bandwagon eventually, but it's a part of my environment and interests that's changing, so to me, it's "news."  Your mileage may vary.

This morning we had a tiny touch of rain, which my older weather station would never have picked up -- its rain measuring system has a resolution of .04".  Anything under four hundredths of an inch it doesn't register.  That's ok, that is why we have an analog (manual) rain gauge to verify with.

That being said, the Davis has a rain measuring resolution of 0.01" or 0.254mm.  That's a pretty fine measurement, and requires that the rain gauge be almost perfectly level.  The Davis has a little spirit level right on the base of the rain gauge, so it's easy to set up correctly.  Nice!

At any rate, the indoor console showed that we'd received .01" of rain, so I immediately went outside to  cross-check with the analog rain gauge, and sure enough, exactly one 100th of an inch in the analog gauge as well.    A few minutes later the Davis read .02, and the analog gauge was right at .02 as well.  I'm a happy guy this morning!

Note:  This shot was taken at an angle, the sky above the station is clear of branches and leaves... ;)


Monday, August 19, 2013

Stormy Weather..... Part III


Ok, I'm done for the present.  And, not a moment too soon, it's already 88℉ outside and it's only 11:45.  Is this the 'dog days of summer' already?  I removed the anemometer from the post, and mounted it to a  pole which gives it another bit of altitude.  The anemometer is now right at ten feet above ground level, and the sensor suite is at five feet eight inches.  The next thing I need is a part that goes into the indoor console, so I am done for the outside.  Oh, I also mounted the official NWS four-inch analog (read manual, look at it and dump it by hand) rain gauge on the post, at six feet.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stormy Weather....... Part II

Update from yesterday, when I started digging the hole for the post, and got a few coats of paint on the post.  So, I crawled out of bed this morning, took a few ibuprofen® for the aches and pains from digging the hole yesterday, slapped another coat of paint on the post, and went to breakfast, then back at it.

Got the post in the hole, braced it so it was plumb in all directions, and proceeded to fill and tamp, fill and tamp.  If you fill an inch at a time, then tamp it down hard (I used a four by four and a sledgehammer) you can get it pretty darned stable.

It took about an hour plus a couple of iced tea breaks to get it absolutely straight up and down, and all tamped in, with the turf replaced.





Using my long carpenter's level, I marked the holes for the Sensor Suite and the Anemometer bracket, then drilled some 3/16" pilot holes for the lag bolts.  Here's the Anemometer and bracket bolted up to the post:  Note, I purposely left 2/4" of free space between the top of the bracket and the top of the post.  I will be installing a copper (brass, tin, whatever) cap on the post to hopefully deflect rain and snow melt--maybe the post will last longer.

What looks like a rock on a string in the background is, in fact, a piece of rose quartz tied to a ten-foot piece of 12-gauge wire which is soldered onto the end of my G5RV antenna.

The vertical piece of wire seems to help with some of the intermediate-distance in state stations on the morning weather net.

There's another ten foot vertical wire tied onto the other end of the G5RV, and it's tied down to the support system for that end of the antenna.

Also note the power lines in the background; about thirty feet from the weather station pole... Can't get away from power-line QRM in Englewood, no buried utilities, all hung from poles, some of which were put up in the 1920s.

I will be moving the anemometer to a 1-1/2" pipe eventually to get some more altitude on it - it comes with forty feet of cable, so you have the possibility of having it quite a ways up in the air, if you're not concerned about lightning.....

Next, I lag-bolted the ISS (Integrated Sensor Suite -Temp, Humidity and Rain) to the other side of the post, so the solar cell could face the proper direction.....South, since we're north of the equator, duh...:  Also remembered to leave room for the metal cap I plan on putting on top of the post when I drilled the pilot holes on this side.
I must comment at this point, on the excellent instructions, well thought-out mounting scenarios and all the proper hardware provided by Davis.   There are clear concise  instructions and diagrams where necessary, a very complete manual for the console, and a quick reference guide as well.

This is really a top-notch station!




















After tie-wrapping miscellaneous items into place and cleaning up the installation, all that was left to do was plug in the anemometer to the SIM (Sensor Interface Module) and install the battery in the module. At that point the Sensor Suite started broadcasting, so I went inside, plugged in the console, and........"Bob's your Uncle"!  The system's firing on all cylinders, and ready to go.  I did have to adjust the date and time, and enter my latitude/longitude and elevation.  That's it!



All in all, a great, low traume experience - Thank you, Davis!!



Next project, after a couple more paydays, install the computer interface module into the console, and maybe the daylight fan-aspirated radiation shield for the temp/humidity sensors.  Right now, the Davis' sensor is six feet off the grass in the middle of the back yard, and reads 90℉.  The Oregon Scientific sensor is at ten feet, in the shade of the fireplace on the north side of the house, and reads 89.8℉.  I may not need the aspirated shield.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stormy Weather, .........

I have a weather station on the roof, and it's been a very good piece of gear for about twelve years; lately it's developed a couple hiccups, and since I need to have an accurate station running all the time, I thought it time to replace it.  This time, I definitely went with the high-priced spread, a Davis VantagePro2.  Expensive, but a great reliability record, and an absolute top performer.  I am going to set up the new station in the back yard, and eventually I'll have a Stevenson screen there for some analog instruments.  Time to take the station down off the roof and clean up the look of the roof a little--it's bad enough with all my antennas up there.  I received the station last night via UPS, and just started to unpack it today when I snapped this shot:
In the midst of a few cat toys...






































The proper way to install this station in the back yard will require a post on which to mount all the various sensor packages, anemometer, solar charging panel, etc.  I got a nice redwood 4x4, and slapped some paint on it; while it's drying, I started the hole.  Roots, roots -boy have I got roots!
Got more paint on the post than on me this time!  Yay!
Surprising what you can do to roots with a sharp axe.  An hour and a half later, and I have a hole ready for the four by four.  It will be dry-packed, a method we learned from an old friend when planting a twenty foot maypole one year.  If you are patient and do it right, it will make a very permanent installation.  All the roots chopped out, and ready to go after another couple coats of paint in the morning.
Check the pile of cut off roots by the gloves!
More to come as I get everything up in the air and communicating with the indoors console over the next week or so.  Watch this space..............







Sunday, August 11, 2013

Morning Sun on the Lake

Occasionally, things work out so that 
I can get down to the park to get my morning walk in early.  Some people think early means 'before brunch' but to me, early indicates sometime around or preferably before sunrise.  When I do get my duties on the weather net taken care of and I find myself out and around around six or so, I always like to have at least the cell phone camera handy.  Lots of activity just before sunrise, all the animals are doing their morning search for food, the ducks are performing their morning ablutions, the air smells clean and fresh..... you get it.  Yesterday I managed the feat.  The park had been closed off the night before for a city picnic and fireworks display, but most of the trash had been collected and taken away.  I was just getting into my stride for the morning exercise when the sun peeked up over the eastern tree line.  Just a few sunbeams on the lake, highlighting the early morning mist.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Alien bugs

Not really aliens, but strange.  I believe this might be a Greengrocer cicada, Cyclochila australasiae.  If not, someone will surely correct me.  Noisy damn bugs; their empty carapaces are all over the patio this year.  This one had just crawled out of its carapace, letting its wings dry out.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Really?

You Simply Cannot Make This Stuff Up Department

I was in the liquor store this morning to buy a bottle of dark rum - not for me, you understand, although I have had my share of fermented sugar cane in the day.... I wanted to change my recipe for Bay Rum Aftershave/Cologne.  I normally make it with West Indian Bay (Pimenta racemosa) essential oil, Clove essential oil, and White Rum.  Just for the sake of a change, I thought I'd get the additional richness of a good Añejo Rum.  While perusing the shelves for just the right plonk, I came across this:
Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale.

Really?


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chillin' at the Mall

     Went to the Mall yesterday, to attend the grand opening of one of our favorite Tea Shops, Ku Cha, which up till now has been in Boulder only.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but with the price of gasoline these days, I can't justify running up to Boulder every weekend (100 miles round trip) to see what's new at the tea shop.  Much more convenient down here.  The Boulder shop certainly has its charms, probably three to four times the size, with the whole area for tea ceremonies and so on behind the rest of the shop - the overhead for that much space in Cherry Creek would be killer.  Nonetheless they are doing a nice job in the space available, not too crowded, a good selection of all of their products.  All in all very nice; I hope they give Teavana a run for their money, although as Teavana is a wholly owned subsidiary of Starbucks, they can pump a lot of cash into their stores.  Photo from Cherry Creek Shopping Center
















After some lunch at the excellent California Pizza Kitchen we wandered around for a while, letting our whimsy guide us around the shops for a while.  While passing by one of the areas where one can put up the feet and watch a bit of TV, I spotted this couple "chillin' out at the mall." That, or the most boring game in history was on the tube.



Saturday, April 20, 2013

Last night we attended yet another of Rob Leavitt's great cooking classes.  This one is the Gourmet Classics Made Easy class.  We learned to make Steak au Poivre, Fettuccini Alfredo, Potatoes Dauphinoise, Steak Diane, Shrimp Scampi, Veal and Chicken Picatta, Sole Veronique, Chicken Parmesan, Marsala and Cordon Bleu, Trout Amandine, Filet Mignon .......classics!  Along with all the wonderful sauces for the dishes, Bordelaise, Hollandaise, Béarnaise, Alfredo.  And all in four hours!  And all done, mind you, in a conference room, no kitchen!

Here's the first combo dish, Steak au Poivre with Potatoes Dauphinoise, Asparagus and Hollandaise.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I've been having a lot of fun
with my wet shaving hobby lately.  Lots of razors, shave creams and soaps, brushes and stuff o play with.  At least it's a cheaper hobby than some.  My latest acquisition is an ultrasonic cleaner for the razors.  Of course it also works great on what it was designed for, jewelry.  If you're ever in the market for one of these things, don't buy the super cleaner they will try to sell you.  We just use hot water with a teaspoon of dish detergent and a couple tablespoons of ammonia - works at least as well as their dollar-an-ounce stuff ($15.95/pint) and costs pennies.


Now that's what I call a biscuit.  And that's after I already attacked it with knife and fork.  Lucile's Creole Cafe makes a fine breakfast biscuit, it's about four inches square by four inches thick.  I couldn't resist their homemade blueberry preserves , had to have a few bites before I managed to get the camera out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I had mentioned a couple of times to my wife that I wished I had a way to carry my gaiwan along with me so when I could brew up some tea I'd have teapot and teacup handy.  A few days later, voilá.  She likes to make and decorate things, I need things - works out very well.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

     Kyri got me a journal for Yule; from Renaissance Art Leather in Santa Fe.
 http://www.renaissance-art.com  Amazing work; hand made, hand-cut paper, old style sewn binding.  Can't miss with one of these.  The paper is lined on one side, and unlined on the other so I can use the unlined sides for drawings and photos and stuff.  My penmanship is way too bad to write on the unlined sides.   I'm impressed.
Here's a quick shot:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Russell Means passed away this morning, age 72

After all the funerals I have attended, all the friends and family I've buried, I'm still amazed at my naïveté.  I still think that some people should be allowed to live forever.

Gentle winds, clear skies, a fine horse and good hunting, friend.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More of my Country in the City fascination

After I feed and clean up after the horses in the pre-dawn gloom, I have been in the habit of late, of driving to a conveniently nearby park to walk around the lake and get some additional but much-needed exercise.  I have been watching the maples and cottonwoods, birches and one lonely new little gingko tree for a week now, hoping to get one last good shot before the leaves all get blown away.  The weather prognosticators' dire auguries of sixty-plus mile per hour winds for this evening fresh in my mind, I thought I'd better get over there this morning and do the deed.  I'm a big fan of "country in the city" as you probably know by now, and this shot, luckily presented to me about 0730, was just the sort of thing I wanted.  Shot with my iPhone (eye-phone -- the camera gets more use than the phone). From the 'burbs, that's the way it looks from here early on an autumn morn.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Best Camera

With all the billions of dollars spent in the course of a year on photographic equipment, particularly cameras, one would think that we would have figured out by now what the absolute best camera is, or should be.  Umpteen megapixels, ISO 100,000 and up, through the mirror/split mirror focusing, 30 frames per second, video, etc. etc. and on and on and on.

However, I am of the opinion, shared by many photographers and folks in the general public who do not share that particular addiction, that the best camera is the one you have in your hand at the moment. I think there's even an app for that..........

I don't like to walk for exercise carrying a big camera unless I am walking someplace where I have a reasonable expectation of capturing animal life or stunning vistas of nature.  Not where I normally walk.  But, I always have my phone.  And it does a heck of a job.
I really like getting out to walk in the early morning around sunrise; best light in the world except for sometimes sunset.

And that's the way it looks from here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall is definitely on the way, IOS 6






Although we received hardly any moisture this summer compared to what we normally (in Colorado? No normal here at all) receive, summer is gone and fall is loitering in the doorway, ready to come right in.  Snapped this at sunup this morning in the park during my morning walk.  Looks cool and damp and just a little mysterious back up the creek there.







IOS 6 has a few nice updates; I am impressed with the work they have done with Siri, the Apple Maps is very nice, even if they lost a whole city in England (Luton no longer exists, apparently) and the updated camera app now does simple, quick panoramas.  No extra steps at all; fire up the camera app, touch options, select panorama, click and pan the camera until it beeps at you telling you it's done.  No stitching, no muss no fuss.







Thursday, September 13, 2012

Now, that's a tomato!

Now, that's what I call a tomato!  We planted a couple of heirloom tomato plants and a grape tomato plant this year, and so far things look pretty good.  We have been getting a regular harvest of the grape tomatoes, about a double handful every day, and we have lots of really big green heirloom tomatoes that should start getting ripe pretty soon.  I hope so, as we don't have a lot of growing season left.  Although, the way this year has been going, we may stay warm until  Yule.  The morning temperatures are still in the fifties, so my fingers are crossed.  We did some soil enrichment with a half and half mixture of horse manure and freshly ground wood chips from trimming the hedge and trees in the back yard.  The tomatoes are only (!) about eight feet tall and six or seven feet in diameter.  Next year I think I'll plant them farther back in the garden and give them some more support.  This year I put up the standard wire towers around the plants, and they were woefully inadequate after about six weeks into the growing season.  Right now the plants are being held up by a climbing rose bush.  Live and learn.  The swiss chard and peppers are doing well also, the onions didn't make it this year.  Nobody in the surrounding villages had any luck with onions either.
___Later.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sourdough

I may finally be on the right track with my efforts at baking sourdough bread.

  • The starter must be fully active, foamy and ropy, full of yeast, bacteria and gluten.
  • Add ingredients at the right time, don't just glop everything in the mixer and turn it on.
  • Kneading by hand is the only way I can tell what the dough is doing, so I now finish kneading by hand.
  • Oven temperature must be pretty stable, so warm it up quite a bit of time ahead of when you expect to put in the bread.
  • Let the dough rise on it's own, don't get in a rush!
As you can see, I got a much better rise (the loaf in back) compared to my usual flat dense loaf (the one in front).  The taste has been pretty good, but the lighter loaf is much better overall.

Western Welcome Week parade, 8/18/2012

For the last three or so years, my wife Kyri has wanted to drive her horse cart in the Littleton Western Welcome Week parade.  The first year, she felt that her horse needed some extra 'bomb-proofing' before she wanted to expose him to hundreds of clapping people, fire trucks, marching bands, and so on.  Last year our sponsor came down with a relatively serious medical problem and didn't get the application in on time.  This year, lots of things came together properly.  

We are now stabling the horse within a mile of the parade staging area, so she didn't have to wrangle horse trailers, flatbed trailer with cart, parking, and so on.  She was able to harness up and drive the horse to the pre-parade staging in just a few minutes.  

Kyri's very good friend Barbara just started a new business this summer, and became the 'sponsor' for Kyri's entry.  The weather was perfect, everything came together just right, and the parade was a resounding success.
Kyri, Barbara and Tootles, Kyri's horse Liath




















And, Monday morning following the parade, Kyri got a call from the Western Welcome Week organizers, and was asked to come pick up her award.  How about that,  First Place, Equestrian Horse Drawn Commercial!