Saturday, August 31, 2013


Working weekend pour moi. Only 8a to 1 but still it kills most of the day. Splurged on a big breakfast though buttermilk biscuits, bacon and eggs. It's a holiday. It'll keep me going until dinner as long as I have a banana during the day.

Betty the Beagle spent the day at the vet yesterday checking for issues around the chocolate. No apparent pancreas problems and her liver numbers, while still high, are down by half which is great news. They gave her an iv to beef up her fluid and she is on a chicken and rice diet for a few days. This morning she had aged basmati with a poached chicken tenderloin with a bit of scrambled egg. Spoiled rotten.

Supposed to be a rainy weekend so I don't expect we'll be overly busy. Everyone have a great holiday weekend.  I guess we find out this weekend if we embarrass ourselves in the Middle East once again.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dead Is Dead

It sure looks like the moneyed elite are going to get their way and have as commit war crimes again. It doesn't look good for us pacifists. They've dragged out the old lie that getting dead from poison gas is so much worse and some kind of "red line" that it just absolutely requires us to kill some more. You know it's a lie and a damned silly one at that. All the people dead from the alleged poison gas are just as dead as if they were blown up by a car bomb or shot point blank with a handgun or picked off at 400 yards by a sniper. Dead is dead and they don't care how they died.

The reality is that it is too late to make whimpering noises about how awful it was that these poor folks died by poison gas and not by a bullet. Is it going to make it all better if some more of them die at the hands of a Tomahawk cruise missile or an F-16 strafing run? The time for action was some 100,000 Syrians ago when there was some chance of heading off a generation of hate. We're pretty much too late now.

An accurate "test" of any action and especially any action that will likely result in the loss of innocent lives is to assess who will benefit from the action and who will benefit if there is no action. From my perspective the only folks that will benefit from spending 20 or more million dollars "making a statement" are those selling cruise missiles and other weaponry and it should go without saying that this includes those elected using copious amounts of money from the "bomb and gun sellers". I sure can't see how anyone(except maybe grave diggers) are going to benefit from more of the same crap that has killed so many of them over the last few years. Show me where I am wrong here.

In the end we'll just have another Middle Eastern population that justifiably hates us and is an active recruiting ground for terrorists. On the bright side, that many more haters will give the NSA and CIA all the more reason to listen to every grunt you make on the toilet. Freedom!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Last Night

Tonight is the last night with our friends from the UK. Unfortunately, I have to work from 5 to 10p but I will see them in the morning before they head to the airport. The roofer just left and I should be good to go on the roof leaks...all the boots replaced and new shingles around.

I made a quick tomato sauce for pasta for everyone's dinner (except mine!). It'll be up to Madam to do the pasta and salad and whatever when they get back from their excursion. I guess my dinner will be a banana and some pistachios though I am going to have a couple of peanut butter crackers before I head off in a few minutes.

Miss Betty seems none the worse for wear from her chocolate eating adventure but it is toxic to dogs. Maybe she threw it up quick enough to minimize the effects?

Our last beagle ate a whole Whitman's Sampler one Christmas(except for the Jordan almonds) and survived many more years. Once nice side effect was all the glittery poop for a couple days from the foil wrappers.

New Dog Trick

Betty the Beagle has learned a new trick. She has discovered that if you tug on the dining room table cloth that all kinds of nice treats just come raining down within easy reach. Madam and our guests headed out early for downtown to visit Minimonk, have a nice lunch and ride the new Skyview ferris wheel. I was out at the gym when they left and I came home to find the chocolate cake, apple tart and assorted other goodies scattered around the dining room and living room. There was good chunk of cake and some apple slices and , of course the bakery papers from the take away cake boxes and the plastic wrap from the apple tart left over from dinner last night. The only thing left on the table was a bowl of fruit and a slice of red velvet cake and a bakery box of cookies. Another good tug would have gotten that as well.

After cleaning up that mess I went to the bedroom to change from my workout clothes and discovered even more chocolate covered bakery papers, crumbs and a nice pile of chocolate barf with kibbles. She looks a little "hang dog" but I don't think she feels all that bad about it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dribble Update

Just had the roofer by and he confirmed my suspicion that the boots around the plumbing penetrations on the roof are deteriorated to the point of leaking. It appears only the one is leaking now but I'm having them replace all 5 of them.  With the $50 Angie's List coupon it'll come to $660 which considering the age of the roof and all isn't too bad. They are a week or so in backlog so let's hope we don't have another frog strangler before we can get it fixed. It is really disconcerting to get Chinese water torture while you are on the throne.

Populist and Refreshing

It is nice to see Democrats taking the lead for a change. Barbara Lee has introduced HR199 to address the "backward incentives" corporations have that allow them to deduct the costs of executive compensation. You can read the details at the Orange Satan.

Under the current rules, the more a firm pays its CEO, the more the firm can deduct from its taxes.
To be clear, corporations can compensate their executives as much as they’d like. The idea is to prevent corporations from passing the buck to the American taxpayers.
My bill would eliminate a “backward” incentive for excessive compensation, which the bill defines as more than 25 times that of the lowest paid workers at the company.

This is a good thing and there is a petition at the above link if you think so too.

It's Still Raining

Third day off and third day of rain. Grass needs mowing and the garden needs attention in the worst way. Got very little constructive accomplished yesterday other than a few greenhouse chores. I did manage to get a small fence built around the composter yesterday. Betty the Beagle has suddenly developed a keen interest in seeing what is inside and even managed to learn to open one of the clean out panels on the bottom so it was necessary. She is not amused.

Out guest from the UK arrives tomorrow morning so there is some shopping and stuff to do today so it is probably just as well I am rained out on outdoor activities. Our friend is a vegan so I need to punch up our fruit and vege inventory. I also need to do a couple of prepare ahead things for when I am working at the dinner hour(the first being tomorrow night). I did manage to get a few nice butternut squash from the garden this year and red peppers are in good supply as well. That means a nice roasted red pepper and butternut squash soup is on tap for tomorrow night. I've also got Japanese eggplant in sufficient quantity for a meal.

I am actually going to have  to buy zucchini and plum tomatoes as well as some arugula and assorted other things. How embarrassing! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dribble, Dribble On My Head

So as is my routine, I was up about 2:30 this morning to go to the bathroom and as I was standing there I felt a drop of something on my head. Strange. I turned on the light and looked up and there was a steady drip, drip of water coming from the bathroom fan and the unmistakable stain on the ceiling. Rats. Judging from the noise coming from the gutters last night it was a pretty good frog strangler and it's still raining but, for the moment, pretty light but I guess a trip to the Depot is in order to get roof cement or whatever. If it does, by chance, quit raining long enough I will check the roof over the bathroom and slap a little more goop on the vent penetration which is where the water is probably coming in.

I was so looking forward to these three straight days off. So much to do in the garden but now it has rained for the first two. Not so much done so far.

Why does this stuff always happen when you are expecting the arrival of a house guest in a couple of days?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekly Bread

Update: I should have mentioned more clearly that this is basically a "no knead" type of bread. The extra moisture in the recipe allows for quicker gluten development so you don't have to spend a lot of time kneading to get good texture. 

Most of you that have been around here awhile know that I bake bread pretty regularly and usually weekly. Mostly it is sourdough whole wheat but there are times when something else strikes my fancy. Being a tinkerer I diddle with my basic bread recipe on occasion but I think I have pretty much settled on what I think makes a pretty nice loaf of "everyday" bread. Good for morning toast or good for a sandwich. Not too chewy but not too weak either and with a fairly close crumb and no big pockets to let the filling run out.

First of all you need a fairly wet dough which makes gluten development much easier which is important when you are using whole grains. To get a good flavor you need time and a sourdough poolish or yeast poolish is the answer.

I use King Arthur flour almost exclusively. It is easy to find in most grocery stores and it is very good quality. I use the KA All Purpose, White Whole Wheat, regular Whole Wheat and Bread flours. What follows is the recipe and method for my "daily" bread.

Daily Bread

The day before you need to refresh your sourdough starter or make a regular poolish. I keep about a cup and a half or two cups of my sourdough starter in the fridge and to it I add 200 grams of filtered water and 200g of all purpose flour. This is mixed well and covered and sits on the counter overnight and gets all bubbly and excited. If you don't have a sourdough starter(you should) you can make a regular poolish with 200g of water and 200g of all purpose flour along with a teaspoon of active dry yeast(or a 1/2 packet). This sits covered overnight as well.  Hint: make sure you use a big enough bowl for your poolish as it will grow overnight and you don't want it crawling around on your counter in the morning.

For the dough:
300g of white whole wheat(KA) or regular whole wheat
200g of bread flour
400g of poolish(either a good chunk of your sourdough or the entire regular poolish
300g filtered or bottled water
17g of salt ( I use kosher) mostly dissolved in a couple of Tbsp of warm water
1Tbsp honey

In a large bowl mix everything but the salt water until it is thoroughly moistened and there is no loose flour. Let this mixture sit covered for 20 minutes or so to let all the flour fully hydrate and the gluten begin to develop. After this rest add the salt water and using your hands fold this together until all the water is absorbed. Yes it is a squishy mess but the water will absorb with a little folding. BTW folding is where you take the edge of the dough, pull it up and over the center and press down and  then turn the bowl 90 degrees and do it again. When all the water is absorbed cover this slightly stickly dough and set it aside to begin the bulk fermentation.
Here is where folding becomes important. You will need to do a fold on the dough about every half hour or so. In each of these folds you need to make four folds. Using wet hands, bring the dough from the side and up and over, turn four times to get all the dough handled. Roll the dough over, cover and set aside until the next folding. You will notice the dough changing with each fold and rest and after 5 or 6 folds the dough will begin to come cleanly from the and  want to stick to itself instead of your hands and the bowl. You will also notice that the dough is rising a bit more with each fold and turn. When you reach this stage your bulk ferment is done and you can form loaves.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, cut in half and form the loaves of your choice. Put it in bread pans or keep it free form. The key to a nice loaf is pulling the dough into itself to form a nice skin on the top. Don't worry if you don't get perfection here it does take some practice and this is a bit of a wet dough which takes a little more practice and experience to get right.
Hey, the ingredients are pretty cheap and the actual time needed for direct attention is fairly small so even if it so bad you feel like you have to feed it to the birds or ducks you've gained some experience.
Anyhow, let the loaves double in size and then you bake.

I bake at 425F but that's a personal choice. My loaves usually take about 30 minutes. I also use a pan of water in the oven to add some moisture which helps a nice crust develop.

Give it a try and good luck...homemade bread is worth it. I gotta go fold and turn now.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dog Days My Foot

Another even cooler day in Atlanta. Only 63F with a slight drizzle to boot. It is nice to sleep with the windows open but I fear what this kind of variant weather portends. The last time it was this cool was in 1892 and even then it was only 70F.

I have to work from 4 till 8pm today and it will be crushingly slow because of the weather. The cool plus the rain will make it worse than normal. To add insult to injury I am scheduled as the self check person which is the worst of the worst. Most of the time you just stand there and the time creeps and creeps. Occasionally you get to help some idiot try and figure out how to operate the thing which is geared toward your average 4 year old. Lots of fun. Then there is always the joker with something too large or heavy to scan that insists on doing self check. Let's just say a 4 hour shift seems like an 8 hour.

After today's short/long shift I have a whole three days off. If it stops raining I will try and get a couple of more raised beds built. I can do that without too much damage to the soil as I won't be doing much digging. I may even get some fall stuff planted(probably only spinach, roquette maybe sugar snap peas) and I may even get some broccoli seeds started in flats. I'll have enough raised beds ready to handle that. Of course, I still have to start the garden clean up. Pull out the disappointing tomatoes and clean up the squash beds. I did get all the corn machete'd down the other day so when it is dry enough I can till that under.

Everyone enjoy your weekend and if you are in the Atlanta area...bundle up.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WTF with the Weather

It's the middle of August in Atlanta and the high today was 77F. This is very weird. It was a perfect day to work in the garden but with the latest rain it was actually too wet to actually play in the dirt. I did get the corn chopped down and the compost spread but that's all.
Back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Where's The TIme Go?

I can't believe its been two weeks since my last post here. Sorry for the inattention. Not really that much to distract me other than work and trying to get the garden beds done and do all the household late summer jobs like pressure washing and such. I've got two days off to work on more chores after I go the gym.

On a sad note we have discovered that our little rescue beagle Betty as liver issues that appear to be untreatable. We'll just continue to make her comfortable and loved for whatever time she has left. She's a cute little girl and very loving and seems to appreciate everything we do for her. We'll see how this all plays out.

I'll try to do a little better around here.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

August Already

Can't believe it is August already. Even though it has been a horrible summer for us gardeners here in the Southeast I am still trying to get something meaningful out of the soil. Getting peppers and a few measly tomatoes but overall a disaster. Nothing canned and just a little corn frozen. Still time to maybe get some summer squash replanted and harvested by frost and maybe some beans. My second crop of corn (heirloom Country Gentleman) was ravaged by racoons but I did manage to rescue 4 lousy ears out of the thirty or forty I should have had. What fun.

Today I am finally going to get going on the raised beds. Got enough block for two 4x12 foot beds. You'll remember that I was going to get started a couple of weeks ago but on my initial trip to get the block I backed my wife's Explorer through the garage door which precipitated me having to replace both hers and mine. Between work and rain that's all done and now I can get back to plan.

Got guests from the UK coming the end of the month and Madam is adding daily to my 'honey-do'.  Before I can start on my garden beds this morning I have to redo the front beds out by the mailbox and plant two Ilex Japanese holly she purchased yesterday. Not a big job but it will take a couple of hours. I won't get to pressure washing the deck, removing the rosemary that is over grown by the deck and replacing it with the plants I have from cuttings in the greenhouse or the many other items on the list on this day off.

Not much of a chance for rain today so I should be able to get some good progress made but I am back to work tomorrow. The good news is our 'coolish' weather is continuing and we will have another August day where the temperature doesn't get to 90F. Everyone have a great Sunday.