Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Busy Weekend

Lately I have had virtually no interest in cooking, which basically means no interest in anything.  I thought I handled the switch from carnivorous to vegetarian cooking reasonably well, but low-carb/carb-free cooking?  I have no frame of reference.

One evening last week the weather cooperated with some rain and cold, so I figured a variation on tortilla soup would be a reasonable offering.  It was not terrible.

This last weekend, Denise was kind enough to find a two-man auger (post-hole driller) at a local rental yard, to give me a little something to do.  I needed to drill holes for some railroad tie posts that will be anchoring the retaining wall at the top of our hill.  Now a two-man auger is difficult for a lone man to operate.  And while it's not unreasonable to run a two-man auger with one-man and one WO-man, the thought of me and Denise running one was a little disquieting.  Fortunately, that nice Pim boy from next door came over and helped me out.  We were also helped out because it's still early enough in the year that the clay soil around here hasn't completely turned to stone.

Denise is suddenly motivated to make some improvements on the dump that is our domicile.  Consequently we went shopping late Saturday afternoon for some new patio furniture.  Went into the Home Depot for a few miscellaneous items and came out with a new Martha Stewart Living Cedar Island Wicker seating set.  (It's very comfortable and actually nicer looking than the photo on the web site suggests.)  Left the stuff in the truck overnight; being somewhat beat I didn't feel the need for lounging in the yard on Saturday evening.

Sunday I tried to get back in touch with my Renaissance Man, dabbling in a bit of mechanical engineering, culinary arts, construction, agriculture, furniture assembly and fermentation science.

Started off the morning repairing my Toro weed-eater.  I will get in trouble for that last phrase, because weed eater is someone else's trademark.  I use the phrase because many won't know what I mean if I say line-trimmer.  Anyway, the gas line was broken off in the fuel tank.  My trip to the Home Depot on Saturday was in part to purchase a repair line and some torx fittings for my socket set, with which to disassemble said trimmer.  The repair went surprisingly easily and I managed not to set myself on fire while spilling gas everywhere.

I moved on from trimmer to chain saw and spent a ridiculous amount of time nearly getting the thing to run.  In the end, it would not run, but did not cut off any of my appendages either, so I call the a success.

Took a break from the tool repair and switched to the kitchen.  One thing that Denise has had success with lately in the garden is cabbages; we have more than we know what to to with.  So, I started a little experiment in lacto-fermentation; sauerkraut.  The ingredients are pretty basic, cabbage and salt.  A little touch of water, something to weight everything down with and time.  A week at least until we can try a taste, but up to four if Alton Brown is to be believed.  Will report next weekend.

The sauerkraut made barely a dent in our cabbage inventory, so I also made a batch of Kung Pao Salad, a recipe I sort of ripped off from the Wildberries supermarket in Arcata.  It's supposed to have green and red cabbage, broccoli, green onions, peanuts and a dressing of ginger, chile paste, honey, tamari, rice wine vinegar and a touch of sesame oil.  Alas, Denise planted no red cabbage.  We were able to supply green cabbage and scallions from the garden and broccoli from the CSA.  Out of tamari, I substituted Bragg's Liquid Amino.  I love this stuff.  Denise is trying to learn to.

Soon I had to face the furniture.  I think Martha Stewart is willing to have her name on this stuff because she's not the one assembling it at her house.  It was a little bit of a nuisance to assemble and would have been impossible if I hadn't been able to chisel some welding slag out of some of the bolt threads.  The furniture comes with separate sets of nuts and bolts for each piece of furniture and the nuts and bolts each come with these goofy little stamped metal wrenches for the tool-challenged.  They need to STOP IT!!!  If someone doesn't own at least a basic set of sockets and crescent wrenches they have no business buying the "some assembly required" brands of furniture at a home improvement center.

I eventually got back to working on the retaining wall, cutting up ties with a combination of circular and hand saws since I could not revive the chainsaw.  I wrestled a half-dozen of the posts into the holes before calling it a day.

At this point I was pretty fully beat and filthy.  On my way to the shower it occurred to me that Leo does not care if I'm naked.  Most people would be taken aback or avert their eyes (or maybe gouge them out) at the sight of a naked man strolling from bedroom to bathroom, but Leo had no reaction at all.  I attribute his general lack of interest to the fact that Leo is a dog.  From his dog's vantage point there is no meaningful difference; I smell the same, naked or clothed.  What's more, it was certain that I was not hiding any treats on my person.

After bathing I started a batch of beer, a Black IPA, which I hope to have bottled and ready for consumption in time for Nick's return from Italy.  While the beer was brewing I cooked dinner.  Since it contains no carbs, we decided on one of our CSA steaks.  A very nice Porterhouse, smothered with mushrooms, with steamed artichokes, beets and a small baked potato.  I liked it very much.

After all of that I was too tired to blog for an evening or two, so here it is Tuesday.  Tonight I decided to make another pass at low-carb cooking.  Decided on Eggplant Parmesan with a side of Tofu Shirataki Fettuccine, a miracle low-carb substitute for your standard pasta.   The directions should have caused a sense of foreboding.  "Parboil for 2 to 3 minutes...to reduce the authentic aroma."  ?????  Authentic in this case turns out to mean fishy.  They needn't have worried about the aroma.  The trick would be reducing the authentic texture.  A little like raw squid.

But enough rambling for one evening.  More on the gardening next time.


Blogger Tee said...

Hi :) How do you steam your artichokes? I tried for the first time last week and it ended up looking pretty... disgusting. Yours looks much more appetizing. I read a blog that said to add garlic, lemon and a bay leaf to the water. Maybe I steamed it for too long?

May 18, 2011 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

I have heard about using those things in the water. Sometimes I use the lemon. It might help keep the color. But usually I just steam them in the water. Cut off top and cut off bottom so won't rock. Then cut tip of any other pokie leaves. Takes awhile depending on how big they are. You can check them by piercing the bottom with a fork to see if tender. Can't give you may more hints than that! My plant is producing like gangbusters. Hopefully there will still be some when you come down this way.

May 18, 2011 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger khanten said...

Just reading about all the stuff you do on your weekends makes me exhausted!

May 21, 2011 at 8:09 AM  

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