Sunday, July 29, 2012

Seasonal perfection!


My girl and I receive a box of regional organic fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis - this assures that we have fresh, local, seasonal stuff in the house and we are forced a bit to assure that we use it before everything goes bad.

Currently, tomatoes are in season. We have been getting a LOT of tomatoes lately, and while this isn't a bad thing, it has been so hot lately that neither of us is really excited about cooking in the evening when we get home. This means that the traditional pasta sauces, stews, etc. that usually use up the tomatoes are not very appetizing when you think about standing over a steaming pot of sauce in a sauna-like kitchen.

My girl said that she'll make a tomato salad:


For two moderately hungry adults:

6 super fresh, organic, absolutely perfect tomatoes - we chilled ours, BTW
1 package of the finest feta cheese you can get your hands on
1 large, beautiful red onion

Your best olive oil, mild and fruity
Well aged Balsamic vinegar, preferably from a small company who has been bottling the stuff since the time of the Romans.

Freshly cracked pepper and ground red Hawaiian salt to taste

Cut the tomatoes, carefully removing the stem. Cut the onions into half-rings. Crumple the feta over the tomatoes. A lug or two of olive oil and a splash of the Balsamic. Carefully grind the salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, while considering the artisans and farmers who worked hard to bring you the finest ingredients possible. Eat on the balcony in the evening with a piece of fresh bread to soak up the heavenly oil and vinegar left over in the bowl.

You may think that I am overdoing it with the descriptions here but we did use the best stuff that we had, deciding that it was time to use it. Most of us have really good ingredients around the kitchen but we always seem to save them, opting for the lower quality product. I can tell you, it makes such a difference in the flavor. This was more of an experience, an epiphany, than a small meal.

This is also the reason that you should eat things that are in season. All of the great chefs go on about this but it's far too easy to pick up those horrible hydroponically-grown spheres of red water that are weakly passed off as "tomatoes" during winter and early spring.

Wait instead.

Wait to have vegetables that are bursting with flavor. By doing this, you respect something that was daily life for billions of people in the past and that, via modern technology and globalism, no longer is important or relevant. The wait is absolutely worth it. I would put money on it.

I haven't eaten this simply yet so well in quite a while. I can assure you, I was thankful for it.

I bid you Peace,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hey Rattlesnake, what's fer supper?!?


Something I hope to do more often is share with you all some of the really delicious things that my girl and I make for dinner.

Tonight, we had kohlrouladen, a.k.a Cabbage Rolls!


A hearty meal to say the least.

The recipe we used:

2 old bread rolls
1 head white cabbage
1 kg ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 egg

1 tsp. Garlic powder
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp.Pepper
1/2 tsp. Hickory salt

1 Liter water
200 grams uncooked bacon bits
Packet of brown sauce mix
Butcher's string

Begin by softening the rolls in milk or water. Bring a large pot of water to boil and place the cabbage in with the bottom facing up and allow to blanch. remove the cabbage and peel off the outside leaves. Repeat this until you have enough leaves.

In a mixing bowl, place the ground beef, softened rolls,egg, and half the finely chopped onion. Knead vigorously, adding the spices.

Once mixed, take two or three cabbage leaves, overlap them and then add some of the mixture (about the size of a stick of butter). Wrap the leaves around the meat and then tie the little packets off with butcher's string.

Heat a pan to high and add butter. Place the rolls in the pan and fry on both sides until lightly brown. Remove and then make your sauce, first by frying the bacon bits and the other half of the onion in the pan. Make your brown sauce according to the directions and add to the bacon and onions.

Once the sauce is done (should be a tad watery) place the rolls in the sauce and cover. Simmer for an hour. Serve with mashed potatoes.


Guten Appetit!


Bits and Pieces


This little gem kept me busy yesterday.


It is a band that I wrap around my right ankle to keep my chainrings from eating my pants. being that I am a man of great and mighty stature, I find that things designed for your standard stick-legged 50kg German Man simply do not fit me. Plus, I wanted to make one of my very own so that I could have something that stood out.

I used a touch over 6 meters of neon yellow and reflective black paracord (3m each color) and the standard locking 24mm Karlie Dog Collar buckle. The knot I used is the Blaze Bar from J.D. Lenzen. As usual, I got about a quarter of the way through and turned over, only to realize I had been tying it incorrectly. Oh well, only about 30 minutes worth of work to undo. I finished by pulling the running ends through the last two knots on both sides - that way, I could adjust it if necessary.

In use: It worked this morning... this afternoon it slipped down and made an attractive bracelet for my ankle! I just finished putting drops of hot glue on the back to give it a bit more grip. I also think that I wrapped my pants leg around the wrong way and it unfolded. I guess I'll see tomorrow.

As promised - a better picture of my bike!


I went shopping and realized that I said I would take a better pic of the Kalkhoff. I must admit, it's a great bike. Really comfortable and well made.

For those of you who are interested in such stuff, I found a way to attach my Hazard 4 Kato to the rack:


As you can see, I used two Maxpedition TAC-LINK polymer carabiners (the orange thing in the upper left) to attach the bag at the sling points directly to the rack. It works fairly well, although it's a bit of a pain trying to unclip one side at a time and it flops a tad when I go over bumps. This is a temporary solution at best but, hey, a dumb idea that works isn't a dumb idea.

So, that's it for right now. I bid you Peace.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Knots For Peace and Freedom...or something like that.

“Friendship is a knot tied by angels' hands”
- Anonymous

One of my newest hobbies is knot tying/paracord weaving. I must admit that I was heavily inspired by the work of a single man in the 'Net, "Stormdrane." You can find a link to his blog in the link list - I would encourage you to go there and see the skill and artwork that this man creates.

During my absence, I took it upon myself to find something to do with my hands that was creative and produced a useable and tangible result, at the same time didn't require a workshop or tons of specialized tools. One day, while searching for something completely different, I happened upon Stormdrane's blog and I remembered that I had tried (rather unsuccessfully) to make things out of paracord while in the military. He not only made cool, useful everyday things that were beautiful but he linked to where he learned it - J.D. Lenzen of FusionKnots (his website is also in the list.)

Watching a few of J.D.'s instructional videos on YouToob showed me that it was possible for even a klutz like me to tie knots. So, I tried it one night with a bit of rope I had lying around the house and found that not only was it fun, but it required concentration to assure that everything comes out right at the end. Even better is the fact that you can usually untie what you have done if you realize a mistake has been made. Finally, I have the opportunity to make cool stuff and/or improve the function or appearance of things I already have.

Now, my lovely girlfriend has expressed concern that everything in our home will either be:

A - made of paracord


B - covered in paracord

Despite the fact that I don't find this to be too bad, I assured her that this was not the case, as there are other types of cordage out there that are just as easy to work with so it doesn't always have to be paracord. She rolled her eyes in frustration...

In the end, I find a kind of peace in the repetitive nature of knotting. I love doing a knot over and over to the point that I can do it without looking at a video for instruction. I encourage you all to try knotting a bit today.

As Stormdrane says - "Knot Responsibly" ;-)


Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Journey is the Goal... isn't it?

Since about a week and a half, I have been riding my bike to work. Sorry for the crappy pic of my new ride. I took it with my iFone while grocery shopping and it's the only one I've got right now. Hey, at least I have a picture...

Needless to say, riding to and from work is not only a way to get fit and enjoy nature before slogging in the Corporate Mines, it's an ongoing process of seeing what works and making adjustments as needed to assure that riding is a pleasant and satisfying experience. For me, the journey is not enough - although this is a large part of why I have decided to start riding - the process of making my bike a harmonious extension of myself is something that has fascinated me and that I have striven towards since I was a teenager.

Back in a thinner time, I was a cyclist. That means, I wore a casing of insanely colored Lycra and rode a incredibly thin-tired road bike hundreds of kilometers a week. These days, I'm a fat guy in street clothes on a bike with both a dynamo driven light AND fenders. Oh, how the mighty have fallen... At any rate, I didn't choose to be a cyclist - my parents bought me a Schwinn Traveler in light blue for my 15th birthday. I wanted a cool freestyle bike, 100% sure that with the right bike, I would be able to do all those cool tricks I saw on TV without any sort of practice. Instead, I got a road bike and was tossed involuntarily into another world.

As I rode the new bike and became familiar with the basics like riding position and using the gearing to ride farther and more efficiently, I came to realize that my bike was rather cheaply equipped. I had made some friends who rode regularly and the snickered endlessly at the balloon-like width of my tires. To remedy this required me to get new rims. This, logically, meant I had to get new tires. Since I now had less rolling resistance and was able to get supercool 16mm wide slick tires, i had to stop wearing my Nikes and get some cycling shoes. This, of course meant new shoes AND new pedals.

I think you can see where this all leads.

When I finally got rid of the old girl, the only Schwinn-issued part of the bicycle left was the frame. Even the fork had been replaced. I had done everything within my limited funds to make that heavy steel frame as close to the Colnago I had been dreaming of as possible. Every part exchanged was to either improve efficiency or to save weight - usually both. My parents never really understood it but they didn't complain when my weekly wages for feeding the cats, mowing the lawn, and taking out the trash were spent on some new thing for the bike. Of course, now that I am older, my desire to constantly improve my bike hasn't left me. My girlfriend doesn't really understand it either. ;-)

Anyway, I'll keep posting about the various changes regarding my bike.

Keep riding!