I needed to stop at the grocery store for a few things on the way home this evening. I sent Dorothy a text asking what she wanted for dinner and she said that for a vegetable she wanted unshelled edamame. For some reason, I took this picture of the frozen food aisle at our local Safeway. So, I give you Frozen Foods.
Monthly Archives: October 2012
Interesting to me that I have grocery shopping themed photos two days in a row. Not that interesting, I guess. Anyway, ran up to Costco for a few things after work today. I liked the patters made by the shopping carts in the parking lot.
I drive past Lake Needwood most mornings that I drive the carpool. Today was such a morning and with the rain we’ve had over the last 24 hours and with the fog that was so thick this morning, I decided to stop for a few pictures. This is a picture of an island in the middle of the lake, looking through the fog. Quite a peaceful scene, but of course I had to leave and get to work. What I need is a laptop and a lawn chair. Oh, well.
For Dorothy’s 16th birthday we went out to dinner with her two grand mothers. Here are the four girls in my life, my mom, daughter, mother-in-law, and wife. I’m a very fortunate man.
If you like seafood, specifically shrimp, squid, scallops, and mussels, and you don’t mind a fair amount of heat, you could do a lot worse than the Pad Poh Tack at Thai Pavilion in Rockville. You can temper the heat a little by avoiding the “green beans,” as Kendra called them, or you can eat everything, as I did (except the mussel shells, of course). The flavors are quite good, although it lived up to it’s three-pepper rating.
From the Thai Pavilion menu:
54. Trang PAD POH TACK
Combination of shrimp, squid, scallops, and mussels sautéed with lemon grass, galangal, chili paste, and kiffir-lime leaves.
I stopped at Lake Needwood again today on the way to work to get a brighter picture of the lake. I really need to keep checking to see when the leaves turn, because this is going to be quite pretty then, I think. This morning there was more sun, although it wasn’t high enough in the sky to hit most of the lake. There was a light mist rising from the lake, which gave it an other-worldly feel. Of the left side of this photo there was a small boat with two people fishing. I wonder if they caught anything. To be honest, I’d rather have been fishing myself, than going to work.
This isn’t necessarily a sunset to win any awards but it’s still pretty. We haven’t had a lot of good sunsets lately, at least not that I’ve noticed, so I was happy to have this one. When I first spotted it, the sun was still up and the picture would have been better if I had gotten it like that. By the time we found a place to pull over and then walked 100 yards to a good vantage point, the sun was gone and this is what we were left with.
I find chili interesting from a cultural perspective. Most everyone knows what they mean by chili but it’s fairly common for us to mean different things. One person’s ideal chili is another person’s waste of time. For some, chili has beans, for others (like me) beans are just wrong. I suppose there really isn’t any one chili recipe that can be called “authentic” to the exclusion of all others. That’s not to say there aren’t ingredients that are inauthentic, even if they happen to be traditional in particular places. For instance, cinnamon is certainly traditional in Cincinnati but it’s not particularly authentic. As far as I’m concerned, pasta and beans fall into this category. Chili, to me, never has beans in it. You certainly can put beans in chili but as far as I’m concerned, it ceases to be chili as soon as you do.
Anyway, this is what I put in my chili. We start with about 5 pounds of chuck roast. You can use ground beef but I prefer to start with a known entity. I chop it up pretty fine but you could easily cut it into fairly sizable chunks, since it’s going to fall apart by the time you’re done. The next ingredient is not authentic, I’m pretty sure, but I like to add some salt pork. You could easily use bacon or pancetta if that’s what you have. I cut it up into fairly small (0.5cm) pieces and then cook it until it’s a bit crispy. I add the beef, a little at a time, to that. It’s important to turn the temperature up to high so you get some good browning of the meat. At medium temperatures you’ll just stew the meat.
While that’s happening, coarsely chop the onions and put them in a food processor with the peppers, minced garlic, fresh thyme, ground cayenne, cumin, oregano, coriander, and salt. Shown here are large, dried Ancho and smaller Chipotle chilis, which are smoke-dried jalapeños, as well as fresh Anaheim chilis. Not the hottest combination but the smokiness of the dried peppers is important. You can control the heat with the ground cayenne. Shown here is a little less than a quarter cup, which means this will be a mild chili (you have to gauge your audience). A full quarter cup or more, or perhaps a chopped up scotch bonnet (Capsicum chinense) or two and you can bring the heat up as high as you like.
For this amount of chili, I needed to process it in two batches because my vintage Moulinex La Machine II won’t hold that much all at once. If you find that it’s too thick to chop well, pour in a bit of the beer. Once it’s been given a good whiz, add it to the meat that’s been seared in the pot. Add the rest of the beer (or all of it if there isn’t any in the onion mixture). I find that using a pot that’s way too big is easier than one that’s just barely big enough so I use a great big pot. At this point, you can cover it well, turn the heat down to low, and let it simmer for a couple hours. In this final photograph it’s just started but in a couple hours it’s going to be a rich, dark color and really yummy.
That’s about it. For this batch, Dorothy asked me to add two cans of chopped tomatoes, which is fine. Or you can blend that with the onions so there aren’t any tomato pieces. Or leave it out entirely. It’s up to you. If you must add beans, then I can’t stop you, but it won’t be chili, as far as I’m concerned. I prefer to eat chili with fresh, chopped onions, grated cheese, and sour cream.
Well, we did it. We planned and gave a surprise party for Dorothy. Lots of people say that don’t want a surprise party. Dorothy meant it. We did it anyway and she wasn’t particularly happy with us. Still, look at how many friends she has. And of course there were others who couldn’t be there (and a few who had to leave before I took this picture). It was a beautiful, cool, breezy day and everyone, except possibly Dorothy, had a good time. Thank you all for coming.
For her birthday, our good friend Spencer gave Dorothy a dozen custom made cookies. They were made by a young woman named Mariel who does business as Belle Vie Cookies. I’ve had a lot of cookies in my time and I have to say, these are really, really good. In fact, a couple times we’ve cut one cookie into four pieces because a whole cookie is too much. They are made without preservatives so they won’t last long, although they won’t last long in any case.
I didn’t take many pictures today. That happens when I’m in my office all day and don’t really do much else. So, this evening I took a few pictures of Anaheim peppers that were left over from the chili I made on Saturday (for Sunday).
This is Cuddles. Cuddles is a red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) and he’s happy this evening because a new heat lamp was bought for him. Now he’s nice and warm. Nothing says “let’s cuddle” like a warm, semi-aquatic turtle, don’t you think?
It was a beautiful day today and I decided to get out of the office for a few minutes and wander in the empty lot next to my office.
I’m not sure what these are, actually. I didn’t really look at them well enough to identify them. They’re pretty though. I didn’t have a tripod with me, but I used a nearby tree branch to help steady the camera. Still, not as sharp a picture as I’d like.
A man once said, “if there is any magic in the world, it’s contained in water.”
It’s great to have flowers booming this late in the year. We have a frost warning out for tomorrow evening but so far, we’ve been spared. This cosmos is growing in a pot on our driveway and it’s a cheerful sight. I have a rose that’s still got a lot of blooms, as well. How can you not love that? Won’t be much longer, though.
In her art class, Dorothy has been looking at the works of an artist named Vik Muniz (http://www.vikmuniz.net/, requires Flash). He is a photographer whose photographs are of art that he creates with unique media. For instance, he reproduced a photograph by Hans Namuth of the artist Jackson Pollock making a drip painting. His reproduction was done in Bosco syrup. He “drew” Marlene Deitrich (among others) out of diamonds. And side by side Mona Lisas out of peanut butter and jelly.
In that vein, Dorothy did the portrait shown here of Edgar Allen Poe out of bits of his works. I think it turned out quite well.
Or should I title this, “get off the road!” We spent a relaxing (not!) five hours at the MVA but at the end of it all, Dorothy was awarded a permit to drive a motor vehicle (with considerable and reasonable restrictions). She got her learner’s permit. Woohoo!
After church this morning I was outside enjoying the beautiful fall weather. The sky was blue, the clouds were puffy and white, and there were turkey vultures all around. They aren’t the most attractive of birds, I know, but I like them anyway. Their huge wings and the way they soar give them a bit of majesty that their bald, red head cannot quite take away.
I love living in a fairly cosmopolitan area. In particular, I’m glad that we can get ethnic food from the four corners of the globe. Whether we have a hunger for Thai, German, Iranian, Jamaican, Chinese, Ethiopian, Greek, Brazilian, Afghan, Japanese, Italian, or even Burmese (to name only a few), we can easily find it close at hand. There are also small groceries and specialty shops where a surprising variety of products are available. For instance, only about three miles away we can shop for a hookah. It’s not something we shop for often, but if the situation arises, well, we know where to go.
Dorothy had no school today because it was the end of the quarter and teachers were doing grading. She took the opportunity to spend a couple days with her friend, Stephanie, at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. Saturday evening the campus was pretty quiet because it was their fall break, as well, but she was able to get a bit of a taste of college life. Today she went to classes with Stephanie and then I drove up to pick her up after work. Messiah has a pretty campus and before we left I took a minute to take a few photographs including this one of the covered bridge across the Yellow Breeches, which runs through the campus.
What a beautiful day it was today. Cathy called and asked if I wanted to go for a walk during lunch time. We walked around the block from work, which is about a mile and a half around. I took a few pictures of deep red sumac leaves (both Rhus copallina and Rhus typhina), Virginia creeper berries (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and, as shown here, porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata). It was named Vitis heterophylla but is now classified in a different genus to the grapes, which are similar plants.
In addition to the various berries and leaves that I photographed on our walk around the block today, we happened to see a heron fly overhead. I barely had time to get my camera up and snap off a shot before it went behind a tree and then over my office building and out of sight. It’s not a great picture because I needed to crop it down a bit, but it’s better than nothing. I love to see these huge birds wading in the shallows but I think my favorite thing is to see them take off and fly.
The wonderful fall weather has continued and the trees are starting to take note. There is still a lot of green but more and more yellow. Here and there are splashes of early red. I love the red trees. It used to be that I only really liked the bright, orange-red of (for example) the maples. Now I like the purple-reds, the clarets, the maroons, and even the deep rusty-reds of the oaks. Still, there is something to be said for a happy red maple on cool autumn morning. Even nicer that it’s right out my back door.
Most references I’ve seen list this rose as growing to a size of three to six feet tall and three feet across. With the mild winter we had last year and the hot dry summer, mine has grown to about seven feet tall and nearly as far across. Actually, it’s getting a little too big and I’ll probably prune it back fairly hard this winter. On the other hand, I don’t think there has been a time since spring when there weren’t at least a few flowers open on it and there have been a few times when it was absolutely covered. The fragrance is wonderful and strong. On warm, humid days (not too uncommon here) it hits you as you walk up to the front door.
I don’t think this is a great picture but I do like flowers with sunlight shining through them. It’s hard to capture, though. I wanted to get a back-lit bloom but without a lot of past-their-prime flowers around it, so there were only a few to choose from. This is the best I got without going in for secateurs. If I had done that I would have missed the light, in any case.
I stayed home from work today because my back had given out. Eventually I was able to get up and once up I was a bit better. Getting up and down was still pretty hard, though. A little after 5:00 PM it started to rain quite heavily. I took this picture of the rain pounding on the glass table in our back yard. Taking pictures of rain isn’t very easy because if you focus on the rain, everything else is out of focus. If you focus on the background, you cannot really see the rain. Also, if you use a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the rain, it doesn’t look like rain. If you use a slower shutter speed, it’s just grey. In this picture you can at least see the water splashing on the table.
You can always tell a dogwood by its bark. But this time of year, the leaves are fairly easy to spot, as well, because they turn such a beautiful, deep, rich red. These are on a small dogwood that self-seeded in the front garden before we bought the house. It’s actually one of the few trees in our yard that I have no complaints about. It’s in a good spot for a small tree and it gives us a couple good seasons, with flowers in the spring and the wonderful fall color now. This one is a keeper.
I took more fall color pictures today but decided to post this picture, instead, for a change of pace. These are telephone wires, I’m pretty sure, on the back of a shopping center. We were waiting for a pizza that the girls bought for lunch. They had planned on empanadas but the place that sold them has closed although the sign is still there.
Another beautiful day today. I had a meeting in the next building over and I decided to take my camera with me. On the way back I wandered a bit along the woods and took some pictures of colored leaves, some honeysuckle berries (Lonicera maackii), and these maple samaras. I like the pattern of the veins in their wings.
It’s my week to drive the carpool to school which means I go by Lake Needwood on the way to work. It was a beautiful morning today with a pale blue sky and the autumn colors just about at peak. It was a bonus to see lots of geese on Lake Needwood, as well. How could I not stop and enjoy it for a few minutes?
I decided that I’ve had that mountain picture up as my banner image for long enough so I took a slice out of today’s picture as a replacement. Gives the site an autumnal feel.
It’s our week to drive the carpool and as we left this morning it looked like I had missed a wonderful sunrise. There was a little pink left in the sky but not enough to make me run for my camera. Getting a good sunrise in our neighborhood is a bit hard, anyway, because there are so many trees. When we had picked up everyone and arrived at the school, I found that with the lower horizon there, because of the open area behind the school (i.e. the soccer field), the sunrise had not entirely finished giving us a nice display. This is actually five vertical images, stitched together to make one horizontal image.
With apologies to the late Mark Heard, I’ve given this post the title of one of my favorite songs, Appalachian Melody. It’s so sad when anyone dies young but we particularly miss those with exceptional talent. Mark was only 40 years old when he died in 1992 of a heart attack. I hum and sing this song to myself often, particularly at this time of year, of course. “How peculiar liking old dead leaves against the sky.” I do, because there is something more than meats the eye.
Actually, I think this photograph would make a really good jigsaw puzzle.
Appalachian melody drifting softly down
Instruments of gold and red and brown
You can read the rest of the lyrics to this song and to Mark Heard’s other songs on www.markheard.net.
I’ve got three posts for today with pretty varied subjects. The first is Orion, the son of a coworker. He wouldn’t smile for me, which is understandable. I know I’m a little scary looking to kids who don’t know that I’m mostly a Teddy bear. Even his “I’m not sure about this man” look it adorable, though. Thanks (and thanks to your mom) for the visit, you really brightened up my day.
Of all the tree nuts, I’m the most conflicted by walnuts. Cashews are my absolute favorite, and I love filberts and pistachios. Pecans and walnuts, however are a bit more complicated. I like them well plain, just as they are. It’s also hard to resist such things as pralines or pecan pie. Walnut and maple syrup is a pretty amazing match-up, as well. When it comes to crushed walnuts on brownies, though, I’m a little less enthusiastic. I’m not really sure why. I obviously like the taste alright, and I don’t object to filberts or cashews combined with chocolate.
Anyway, most of the walnuts you buy in the store are from Juglans regia, the common walnut, also called Persian, English, or Carpathian walnut. What you see here are J. nigra, the eastern black walnut. They are a harder to get out of their shells, which are significantly thicker and harder than their more genteel counterparts from the old country. They also have a more intense flavor, however, making it worth the effort. Since there are so many of them on the ground in the empty lot next to my office, I went out and collected a big bag of them this afternoon. I’ll let the husks dry a bit, clean them off and then crack them in a vise.
The second picture here is not really related to the first except it was taken on the same outing. These are leaves of the willow oak, (Quercus phellos).
Of course we were not really underwater but we had dinner at Tara Thai this evening with Mike and Krystal. As tara is the Thai word for water, their decor is water related. This is a semi-abstract photograph take upwards from our table towards the wall.
We went over to my mother-in-law’s today to clean out her gutter and do a few other things. I heard and then saw a hawk overhead but by the time I had my camera it was gone. I sat for a while under the carport watching a chickadee bouncing around but couldn’t get any pictures of it. As I waited,though, this big red-bellied woodpecker came and landed very close to me, too close, in fact, to fit in the camera frame. Unfortunately it was a bit dark under the trees and the picture is blurry, but it was cool, anyway. He only stayed long enough for three quick shots and was gone.
I didn’t cook and neither did I eat this steak. But I did take a picture of it. I’ll leave it at that.
Hurricane Sandy has reached us although in the morning, when this was taken it was only raining. The rain started last night and was going to be with us for a while. It hadn’t gotten windy yet, but that was coming. We have a little problem with water in our basement and we knew it was going to be an issue today. It only comes in at one spot and part of the problem is rain that falls in this spot, between our patio and the bilco doors and steps down to our basement. So, we put a tarp out to direct the rain out from the house in that area. This is Cathy, pretending to be the intrepid weather man, standing out in the pouring rain to get the forecast out.
We had about 6.5 inches of rain between Sunday evening and this morning. It rained pretty heavily yesterday afternoon and into the night. It was still coming down this morning but not nearly so hard. It will be nice to see a blue sky again.
When I got to work, the little pond between my building and the next was filled up. Normally it is about two feet deep in its deepest parts. When it rains hard, it can get as much as about 15 feet deep before it overtops the spillway built at the lower end. You cannot quite see it in this picture, but there is a notch in the middle of the wall and the water is coming through that. Last year, on September 8, it had overtopped the entire wall and was coming in all around this enclosure. So, this isn’t the highest I’ve seen the water, but it’s close.
Yesterday I asked for blue sky, today we got some. It wasn’t a clear blue sky but there was enough to make a pair of kitten britches, as we used to say. Odd saying, that. I wonder what the world of Google might have to tell us. Hmm. Here’s what I found in The Sailor’s Word-Book: An Alphabetical Digest of Nautical Terms, Including Some More Especially Military and Scientific, But Useful to Seamen; As Well As Archaisms of Early Voyagers, Etc. by the late Admiral William Henry Smyth, K.S.F., D.C.L., &c., published in 1867.
DUTCHMAN’S BREECHES. The patch of blue sky often seen when a gale is breaking, is said to be, however small, “enough to make a pair of breeches for a Dutchman.” Others assign the habiliment to a Welshman, but give no authority for the assumption.