Friday, December 29, 2017

Not Good Art

Now that Christmas and Thanksgiving are past, I felt I could finally talk about this image from BHG in 2016.

The photo credit is a person named Andy Lyons, with "Prop Styling" by Sarah Cave.

What was the title? "Turkey with Gonads"?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Back to Meat

Some weeks ago I posted a recipe for marinated tri-tip steaks, and promised that the next time we made the dish, I'd do a better explanation of how to cut the tri-tip into steaks.

The red arrow is the point where you want to begin slicing.

Working in cuts of about an inch or so wide, you work back from that point, which allows steaks cut against the grain of the muscle -- the first step in tenderizing a cheap cut of meat.

Kind of an aside from the topic, it's not a budget-breaker to get a good knife. I bought a Victorinox 6-inch chef's knife, perfect for my rather arthritic little hand, and I use the bejabbers out of it. Worth every penny, and it just glides through the meat.

There -- that's the first cut of steak. Tiny, but that's okay. They get bigger. You can kind of see the grain of the meat running from bottom right to top left at a 45 degree angle.

As the strips get wider, you just cut them in half when you're done with each strip. Don't peel that fat off (except for the fibrous top layer, which looks like skin and is nasty) because the marinade turns the fat into a seasoning bomb.

The part of this roast that had me a bit peeved was the area where you can see the grain, where the butcher had trimmed the fat away. Dangit, when I buy an "untrimmed tri-tip" I want my fatty goodies.

So there you have them, lovely little fat-marbled steaks that will soak in that marinade and make your eyes roll up in your head as you eat them, beautifully caramelized on your charcoal grill.

I'm still loving turkey leftovers from Christmas dinner, but just looking at these pictures again makes me want to rummage in the freezer for a tri-tip. Maybe for New Year's ... can I substitute a tri-tip for pork and sauerkraut and still have New Year Luck?

In other meat news, Bernie rolled out his LEM sausage stuffer (his Christmas present) yesterday and made up a batch of his excellent sausage mixture. It went smoothly and easily, and we ended up with nine pounds of gorgeous, delicious sausage.

Looks just like Peachey's Farmers' Market back in Amish country in Pennsylvania in the early 80s. Yum.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Blue, Green, and Yellow

Every six weeks or so, delivers a 44-lb bag of dog food to our porch. It's inside a box, and to minimize the movement of the bag of dog food, the box is then stuffed with brown packing paper.

Last year I used the brown paper as Christmas gift wrap -- with sprigs and spots of color to decorate up the neutral tone.

This year, I thought I'd try something different and dye the wrapping-paper-to-be with Rit liquid dye. I had a number of wads of the packing paper, so I put the hottest tap water I could get into a kitchen trash can, added a big pot of boiling water, a whole container of Rit Royal Blue (8 oz), and stuffed the paper in.

Some of the packing paper more or less disintegrated into shreds; some made some really cool patterns (the second batch will be the wrapping paper), but the color was INTENSE and infected my imagination, as I happened to have squirreled away a heavy corrugated cardboard panel that came with my studio Football TV.

With some purchases of green and yellow Rit, I set to work, dyeing paper and unfolding it on the front lawn to dry.

Armed with the dried papers, a couple foam brushes, and Mod Podge, I more or less completed this decoupage torn paper panel today.

I say "more or less" because there are a couple areas I want to tweak, including removal of the blue stripe in the ochre area.

It was a ton of fun, and I look forward to trying other projects like this.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The New Stove

This was a sight I hadn't seen for 16 years -- the fireplace minus the Buck Stove insert.

I can remember the winter I insisted on getting an insert -- electric rates had skyrocketed and we were enduring rolling blackouts while PG&E scrambled trying to buy energy. Some nights I sat with my shoulder nearly in that firebox, trying to stay warm, getting madder and madder by the hour.

The Buck Stove insert heated our whole house ever since.

Nevertheless, it wasn't really what I thought it would be. Like a lot of people in unfamiliar circumstances, I didn't really know what questions to ask. I wanted a woodstove that I could feel radiate the heat, that I could put a kettle on top of and have the water warm to provide a little humidity for wood burning's dry air.

The Buck Stove didn't do that. Even when it was burning hot, hot, hot, you could put your hand on the top and not be burned. To get the stove's heat out into the room, you had to run the fan.

But that was the other problem. As dust accumulated over each winter, (and this is the Central Valley, whose dusty conditions gum everything up) the fan would imbalance slightly and rattle at certain speeds. By each Spring, I was so sick of hearing a running fan I couldn't wait to get out to the studio for the quiet.

This year, we did a little research, and just happened to walk into Valley Fire Place the day after a woman saw her new stove and decided it was "too small." She sent it back to the store. What mad coincidence -- this was just what we were looking for! So since it had been unpacked (but never used) VFP gave us a discount on it. Nice.

And there it is, on its adorable little legs, awaiting installation.

We did a winter configuration of furniture, moving the big table out into the front room, the little table into the kitchen, and the rolling island to the side under the bird pictures on the wall. We know what a wood stove does to the temperature in a room, and we wanted plenty of space in front of the heater so that we could bring chairs in if we were in need of great heat, or just lounge on a rug on the floor, basking. (I used to wrangle with our border collie Desi and the two cats for the hot space in front of our wood stove when we were back East in Pennsylvania.)

We had been scheduled for installation on the 17th, but yesterday VFP called with news of a cancellation, did we want the stove in early? Considering that we knew there was rain on the way, and a bit of a cold snap -- oh, yes, we did.

 By nightfall, it was in, standing on the hearth like it should always have been there. A chindi rug -- again, how about the coincidence -- that was supposed to arrive Thursday also arrived Wednesday morning, so as soon as the work was done, the new rug went down.

And within minutes of starting our first fire in the new stove, Kermit realized that a certain Great Dane mix with no undercoat never had to be cold again.

See the screen? We're probably going to use that for the forseeable future -- that little stove gets HOT!

The dear lady who thought the stove was too small ... bless her heart. She was probably wrong, unless she was trying to heat a whole mansion; we're certain this model will heat our house AND my garage studio for all but the coldest days of the year. I wish I knew who she was, I'd send her a thank you note.

Know anyone who wants a Buck Stove insert?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Morning in the 2017 Fall Garden

I haven't been very successful at growing cabbage in the garden -- up until now.

Last year I tried purple cabbage, and some of them looked gorgeous, (but not all) and the flavor was a little astringent for my tastes. This year is green, and they are simply breath-taking.

The cabbage you buy in the store is round and light green, but I can attest from experience that those big blue leaves make a wonderful golumpki. I used to buy whole cabbages untrimmed when we lived back East, and freeze some of those big leaves for winter cabbage rolls. I look at these plants and see not only golumpki, but blue leaves for stir-fry, and for fried cabbage with onion as well.

Years roll by more quickly all the time, so this morning, I decided to take portraits of my current garden so I remember what worked, and how beautiful vegetables can be. The full set of portraits can be seen in my Flickr account, Palmprint Gallery.

This morning was also our first foggy morning, dressing the garden in wispy whiteness. My pictures were taken just after the fog lifted.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Too Cute Dog Haiku

A hot afternoon. 
Long walk this morning with me. 
Kermit needs a nap.


Why I decided to buy a six-pack of lisianthus this past spring is a mystery to me. I paired them with some yellow and red striped zinnias in a half wine barrel in the front yard.

Never did like the way the planting looked. Although the two varieties were supposed to be the same height, the zinnias on the outside row got much taller than the lisianthus, and what should have been a pretty arrangement looked like a car wreck.

The zinnias got yanked out. I allowed the lisianthus to remain only because of how many buds were forming. I thought maybe they'd grow on me, so to speak.

They did not, but even though I loathe them, I have to admit that they are magnificent. All the visitors to my garden comment on how lush and lovely they are. Maybe I dislike them because they are too perfect -- to me, they look like the fake flowers people put on graves in cemeteries.