Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Oh, just a whole bunch of random shit. And photos.

Ugh. I just hate going so long without talking to you guys.

I get all, "Oh, I'm sure I'll come up with something meaningful by the weekend and then I'll write it up full of scrumptious swears and it will be like nothing happened."

Like I never all the way mixed up my life and routine and then went on acting like I was going to be able to keep all non-work related aspects of my life unchanged.

Well, we all know I'm a delusional ass, so let's not act so surprised.

But yes, I have been delinquent in my posting.

Happens, I guess.

So, the good news is that I am making this shit happen right now, but the bad news is that I have no direction, so that is when we go to the photos on instant upload to see what the fuck I've been up to that I want to tell you guys all about.

Usually this involves food or food, so let's just start with food and see where that takes us:

We resurrected one of Bubba's smoked tri-tips from Chesty and almost blew our brains out with deliciousness last night.

I pulled the first spring onions yesterday when I was pruning back the dill and discovering lots of oddly shaped radishes. Asses.

I brought some of my basil over to a friend's house the other night and she proceeded to make me a drink fit for a fancy person. Which I am most certainly not.

I had a hair appointment on Valentine's Day, so obviously I brought my hairdresser a Valentine of vegetables. Because I'm, like, 80 kinds of weird. Just not the harmful type of weird. That's an important distinction.

I made those annoyingly awesome chocolate ganache cupcakes for Bubba and it got sort of colorful in my kitchen for a hot second.

Mostly because of my new crazy ass silicone cupcake cups.

I ate so much of this frosting while I was making the cupcakes. Seriously. I didn't end up making dinner because I was so full from frosting. Way to go, me.

I redeemed myself with this badass salad. It's not particularly photogenic, so I'm not sure why I took a picture of it. Or why I'm showing you. 

Made a little Best Sauce Ever. Yep. with my cuddle-worthy wooden spatula

Ooh! I forgot about this, but I totally made the pumpkin mascarpone soup again and WHOA is it still just as good as I remembered. 
So, food is done. Mostly. I mean, depending on whether you count the garden as food.

Which we do. In the future beans will be here. For now, only my neighbor's gorgeous tree and a tipi.

Future beans having a day outside. They were into it.

This is my first full season with my pink lemon and it is looking pretty promising. Also, there's a big ole lemon on there, so it's going to really go into a cocktail here at some point. That's how I'll know it's a success anyway.

To sow spring seed, one must wear one's coveralls even if it's just mostly for the pockets and so that I don't tear up the running clothes I'm wearing underneath because I'm too impatient to change clothes between running and gardening. 

I liked having monster beans hatching on my grow rack so much, that I may always start my beans indoors first. It's just too hilarious. RAWWWWWWWWWWWWR! Sorry. That could not be helped.

Hi, Tallest Monster Beans. I'm sorry that I didn't lower the light right on top of you like I know I should have. That's why you're freakishly tall now and no one will want to be your friend at school. 

Sort of hard to tell from this crap phone photo and the mounds of dry leaves, but the front yard meadow is sort of looking decent right now. And it's about to look way better. And then it'll look sort of blah for a while, then haggard, then ugly and then HEY! It looks kinda good again! And we'll have gone full circle. 
I didn't even know how to hold it is how odd this radish was.

This has been a rather radishy winter. Kinda nice, actually.

I mean, how fun does that look?

Too bad I'm just eating this and thinking about how hot our summer's going to be if the garden is this warm all winter.

Especially since I'll be working in the greenhouse that today -  IN FEBRUARY MIND YOU - was 111 degrees.





Ugh. I shall perish.

First though - ship a shitload of hydroponic basil.

First actual shipment. Very goofbally selfie. Favorite hat

OK - I'm done.

That was a lot of random photo barfing. Good job hanging in there. Sorry that my posts have gotten all spastic, but I'm allowing myself room to veer ever so slightly off my long trod path of strict discipline because if I don't, I'm 100% sure that my I will melt the fuck down in the brains.

But for sure YAY SPRING!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Not all about the fish this time.

So, you know what I've been doing aside from working all the live long day and then making room in the liquor cabinet for new gin?


Yeah. I've cooked some stuff recently that was rul good. 

And I baked a thing that was rul good. 

And I have a crush on a new vegetable. 

Because that's a thing a person can have - a crush on a vegetable. It's called love, people, and I encourage you to try it.

In my case, I have Bubba and Jada and life and this muther fucking parsley:

It's as big as my fork, milder than your typical parsley and, after a light frost, is just a little bit sweet so that you go, "WHATTHA YUM?" when you first try it.
Everyone, I'd like you to meet the fourth member of our love square - Giant of Italy parsley

And before you get all, "You can't love parsley like you love Bubba..." and other nonsensical shit, do remember that I tend to get a little overexcited about vegetables

I mean, right?

And I have tasted a lot of types of parsley and grown a lot of types of parsley, so it's not like I just tried it for the first time and declared it the soul-fillingest parsley of all time. 

It's totally not like that. 

Because, until I just had this parsley the other night with butternut squash ravioli I awesomely froze for myself a few months ago, I just grew parsley because it was an herb I chopped up and put in the base of every soup and meatloaf and meatballs and a billion other things I make because parsley is a standard.
If by "Standard", I mean "BITCHIN", which I do.

Or am I the only one that puts parsley in everything? Is this maybe a personal problem I have? Is it possible that I don't really want to lay down my life for this variety of parsley now that I've enjoyed its riches in my mouth which sounds really really bad?

No, none of that can be right.

Mostly because it sounds absolutely lewd.

And, while I do love this parsley, I don't want to, like, marry it or something.

I just want to eat it with every meal. 

Or whatever. I'm sort of a slut for food lately because I keep getting really good stuff from work and then from my garden and then my lovely Bubba who announced that he'd like a chocolate cake which prompted me to (accidentally) find the world's most incredible chocolate cake recipe.

So yeah, fuck vegetables for one second - chocolate cake.

That's the real story here.

Just you try to look away. IT'S AN UNDOABLE THING.

Firstly, I'll warn you that the recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, so while 100% awesome and worth it, you need to be prepared to dirty every tool in your kitchen twice and have to do dishes in between projects.

Because this recipe is a total project.

Like, I had a strategy going into it (make the frosting first, put it in the fridge to firm up, THEN bake the cake, etc)(hey, that's a strategy!)(Shut up.) and there was proprietary shopping involved and then there was lying down with a cocktail involved after I finished baking and frosting this cake. 

Sort of took it out of me, all of that mid-stream dish doing. 

But I can say that it's the best chocolate cake I've ever tasted, Bubba nearly flushed his wedding ring down the toilet when he took his first bite and declared he loved it more than anything in the world and even my not-sweets-eating boss was "stoked" on it. 

The only things I did off-recipe were to bake it in a 9x12 glass dish as a sheet cake rather than as cupcakes, not try to fill the thing awkwardly with ganache and then I put a bit of this awesome vanilla bean baker's salt on top. 

Then Bubba pledged his love to me (as long as the cake is joining us) for the rest of his life. Again. Because he did already do that once when we got married. Before I learned how to make this cake. So, like, I know he didn't just do it for the cake.

Can you imagine?

Anyway, I am also going to shill like the shilliest shiller from shilltown right now:

Yeah. I grew that. 

And, FOR TESTING PURPOSES ONLY, I brought it home from the farm to make sure that it was, um, shelf stable - yeah, that's it - and also edible. 

"Edible" is the lamest word for this basil.

Then I felt crazy and like a seasonal cheater when I actually went into a grocery store (FRIGHT) and bought sweet red bell peppers. 

In winter. 

Like a total traitor. 

I mean, they're still organic and they're actually from our ranches in Mexico, but eating bell peppers in winter feels wrong and naughty.

So, spank me. Because my enchilada peppers are THE FUCKING MOST.

At least I put some of the cilantro from work on top. Ripped it out of the ground myself earlier in the day. 

And also some of these chives.

Gee. Hope there's enough for the harvests.

So yeah, cooking, working, eating, skiing Utah, riding and running the Santa Cruz mountains, emptying and refilling the liquor cabinet, repeating - that's what's been going on over here. 

Come at me, bro.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Everything I said last time except the opposite.

It's kinda sweet how I naively think I've figured out a few things in life. 

These things I know how to do. 

And I KNOW that I know how to do them because I've done them wrong a bunch of times (or one tragic time) and then right a bunch of times (or a few triumphant times), so I feel confident when I say that YES, I know how to, like, do that kind of shit.

But the funny thing that I haven't yet learned how to do is how to NOT say I know how to do something until I've first done it successfully once and then repeated the thing successfully again.

That's what I should do.

But instead, I just go declaring victory when victory hasn't yet even been proven a single time.

I'd make a terrible scientist. All declaring YAY! I've found the cure for cancer! after just making Kool-Aid in a flask or something.

Anyway, today's lessons in Finny Doesn't Know Shit About Shit are as follows:

Dr. Fischoeder's Cleaning Lady, Consuela, doesn't clean a damn thing.

In fact, she makes more of a mess than Dr. Fischoeder and it's pissing me off.

Is that Consuela I see growing on the treasure chest? Why yes it is.

It would seem that Consuela is colonizing the fish bowl. Edging Dr. Fischoeder out perhaps or perhaps just making herself at home and commandeering items that she deems to be her own.

I take.
So all of that nonsense about the moss ball being "like a cleaning lady for the fish bowl" was complete crap. 

Not that I really announced to the world that it was The Truth And Nothing Else, but I did repeat what I'd been told by the dude at the aquarium store and that was a mistake. 

Don't always trust the stoned freak working at the aquarium store. Noted.

And then there are the paperwhites.

Damnitall if I didn't think I'd finally won the battle of These Things Fall All Over The Fucking Place just a little too close to the paperwhites so that they heard me and then rebelled.

Yeah. If these flowers weren't so fucking beautiful and didn't smell like heaven and weren't being so hilarious, I probably would have ripped them out of their vases just for mocking me and making me a liar, but they are and they do and so I haven't.

Can't fall over in a vase this tall you say? IS THAT A FACT?

And while this has nothing to do with me being wrong, but more the seasons being off or our tree being absurd, our tree thinks it's fall.

January, November - what's the diff?

I mean, who couldn't use a little fall in their winter?

Even Jada's confused by this tree.

Yeah. Nice try out there, awesomely beautiful but crazy tree.

And then, because I I was feeling bakey, I made the best chocolate cake of my entire life last night.

Also the cutest napkins ever, courtesy of my delightful sister who knows me very well. 
Yeah, if you're looking for a chocolate cake recipe and none of your good-for-nothing cookbooks that claim to have all the recipes in the world in them (Hi. Joy of Cooking. Not as thorough as expected.) have a recipe for just plain chocolate cake, go to Cook's Illustrated and be free.

Thankfully, Bubba had the bright idea for me to scan all of my Cook's Illustrateds into my tablet and then start using that for my recipes, so I just had to search my tablet for "chocolate cake" instead of leafing through a thousand pages of magazine to find it.

He's a smart one, that guy. Which is why I let him eat cake straight from the pan with his hands like a fucking animal.

I used this recipe for chocolate cupcakes, but made a sheet cake because I'm a sunuvabitch like that.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Blame the basil or Dr. Fischoeder or the paperwhites or my hat or whatever

I could get all oh I'm so ashamed that I haven't posted since, like, November, or whatever and oh I'm so sorry, people and shit, but I'm not and I won't.

See, friends, I've been working my tits off over here trying to get my newly designed hydro system to grow a saleable crop of basil before the year is out and YAY DONE.

On day 363 of 2014, my first harvest was loaded on the truck. All 70 pounds of it.

Farewell, babies. Mama loves you. Now get the hell out of here before 2015 comes and you make me a liar.

Nothing like dragging shit out until the last possible moment to make a good impression on the boss.

So yeah - it's been ALL BASIL ALL THE TIME in my life since July (well, really since a while ago) and I've hardly done anything else, but here I am to say...hi!

Missed you guys.

Also, Mr. Fischoeder got a new accessory.

See, Bubba's been traveling a lot. LIKE, A LOT. Like, going to China twice in a month and then Colorado and then Vegas and then London and then London again a lot. And we haven't gotten to hang out and indulge in our ongoing stream of senseless bullshit silliness like we're used to, so now he pranks the fish to see if he can get me to laugh hard enough to vomit.

My life is very romantic, yes.

So, the day before he left for his most recent trip to China, we had lunch. He came down to the farm and took me out for noodles.

And next to this one noodle joint in the midst of a billion Mexican restaurants is an aquarium store. One that I actually went into after our noodle lunch to get some random shit for my hydro system (it's really something to be The Weird One in an aquarium store, by the way. Load of freaks in there.) and the same place where I got Mr Fischoeder's cleaning lady, Consuela.

What I did not know was that Bubba went into said aquarium store, hung out with my favorite turtle for a while and then did a hilarious thing.

And later that day, when I was standing at the bar sorting mail and decided to look over at Mr Fischoeder and Consuela between recycling a thousand catalogs of bullshit, I nearly honk-laughed myself into the grave.

Yup. Treasure chest.
Now, I didn't vomit, but when I lay gasp-honking for air on the kitchen floor, Bubba knew exactly what had happened and left his suitcase mid-pack to show his naughty face and pretend ineffectively to have no idea why I might be happily laughing myself to death. And also to see if I was going to laugh-vomit.

He is hilarious. And also a perfect gentleman.

And Mr Fischoeder, who's actually recently been promoted to Dr. Fischoeder and moved to a lit and heated location on the grow rack so that he and Consuela would survive the cold winter, is getting used to his elevated status in life.

He's started pooping behind Consuela is how I know.

Civilized, this guy.

And I finally cracked the code on the fucking paperwhites.

You know - those little white daffodils that smell incredible/reek balls (depending on who you ask) and grow in gravel in a little bowl in your house in winter when everything else outside is hiding under snow/unraked leaves?

They look awesome at first and green and pretty and then suddenly they're too tall for their bowl or whatever and Aw shit the paperwhites fell over and I have to, like, tie them up with a piece of rustic twine or something to keep them from crash landing on the floor while also keeping them from looking stupid?

You know.

Well, not this year. This year I win the paperwhites game. Which no one knew they were playing, but we all were.

The hurricane vases were my secret weapon in this game against the paperwhites.

"GET TALL, YOU FUCKS!" I screamed.

"YOU CAN NEVER GET THAT TALL!" I screamed some more.

And then Bubba came in from the garage to find out what the hell was going on and then realized what was going on and then just went back out to the garage to contemplate a few decisions he's made in life.

But oh. OH do I just win.

Fuck you, paperwhites. Right in your sweetly beautiful flower faces that I love.

OH! And Bubba got me this sweet hat for Chrismahanukwanzawhatever...

The basil was very impressed by my hat.
And if you think I didn't consult the basil on the look of my new hat then I don't even know you anymore.

So, yeah, kinda random I know. But I couldn't let the year end without saying hi and telling you that I'm doing a passable job at work, our fish is potty trained, I outsmarted a plant and I wear woolen hats in an 88 degree greenhouse.

Priorities in life. I have them.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mr. Fischoeder gets a cleaning lady

Probably I haven't told you that I got a fish.

Please enjoy the fish's ironic backdrop because we know he does.

Not that I haven't caught fish - I've definitely told you about that - but that I have an actual fish living in my house. In a bowl. A fish bowl.

Like a pet fish would.

And like any pet fish, his name is obviously Mr. Fischoeder.

Because we love Bob's Burgers and when you love that show and then you get a fish, what the hell else are you going to call it? Ravioli?

No, that was for my pre-Bob's Burgers fish. Now, though, there is only one name - Mr. Fischoeder. Because it sounds like Fish Odor and that's amusing.

Every time I feed the fish or stare drunkenly at him in his big bowl (now anyway, he used to live in a tiny glass vase and before that in the ill-fated and useless AquaFarm), I laugh.

"Hehe - Hi, Mr. Fischoeder. You look lovely today, Mr. Fischoeder. You have no odor, Mr Fischoeder. Come face cuddle me, Mr. Fischoeder."

And so on. Because I'm a child that's also really easily amused.

Do those exist? I may be the first.

Anyway, so I have this fish with the amusing name and the pretty fluttery fins and also a semi-sordid history with pet fish.

Like, during my undergrad I basically rented some fish to swim around in a fish tank in my apartment and keep me company while I lay hungover on the floor with my hair stuck to the carpet with barf.

And also to entertain the maintenance guy who came around every so often to unclog my kitchen drain that was definitely not full of aquarium gravel.

Oh no. Never ever.

Once I graduated, I promptly returned to the aquarium store from which I purchased this little school of tetra and gave them back. They took them, quarantined them, and then started what I can only imagine was a mildly lucrative fish rental program for strange undergrads that have no time or the sobriety level for normal pets, but can't be left alone while they muddle through their hangovers.

I imagine. I don't know. That's what I would have done if I were an aquarium store owner.

Then about eight years later, when I was working on a new product at Google and it finally came out of beta, my cheeky sunuvabitch of a coworker got us all beta fish in little bowls with little gravels and ha ha he he ha.

My beta fish was blue and cheerful and I named him Ravioli because obviously.

He swam around in that bowl for almost a year and a half until one day I came in and he was not so much a fish, but a cloudy mass vaguely resembling a fish. It was a wee bit grody, but I gave him a proper burial and sent him to the great fish bowl in the sky toilet.

Farewell, Ravioli. You were a regal and trustworthy friend. Or something.

Then I quit that job and my life in high-tech to be a farmer. But instead of being a traditional farmer, I became a hydroponic farmer and got to also grow food the aquaponic way, and that is with fish.

About 400 koi, to be not exact at all.

And also a few sneaky hider catfish that swim along all dark and sneaky at the bottom of the dark tank so that you don't know they're there until you drain the tank and OH WHOOPSY who's that on the floor? Sorry, buddy.

But I was mostly really good to those fish. I made sure their feeders were full, clarifier was emptied regularly, airstones were pumping away and all that fun stuff that aquaponic growers do to keep their fertilizer machines working away happily. I even answered questions from snide bullshit hippies who gave me beef about how I was exploiting another creature for my own gain.

"You seem like fun!"


Anyway, then I got the AquaFarm. I'll spare you the stupid details, but basically after running the aquaponic lettuce crop for a while and then having 18 people tell me that I should get one of the AquaFarm things "just to try it out and see if it works even though you keep rolling your eyes like that", I got one and it didn't work just like I knew it wouldn't.

Or something like that.

Basically, yes, it grows microgreens. Hooray. I don't need a $70 over-engineered fish tank to grow a few handfuls of microgreens. I have a jar for that. I think it cost me around $1 a bunch of years ago when I got a flat of them for $8 so that I could can some jam or something.

The other stuff it was supposed to do, like grow basil and lettuce, were, um...false. Even from starts I brought home from the greenhouse that had been growing fine in my work aquaponics system, they just sat and sat and then eventually keeled over and died in the thing. Because it doesn't have any light and Mr. Fischoeder, the resident fertilizer machine, could only poop so much.

Mostly though, it was the light.

Anyway, whatever. The AquaFarm got disassembled and put away in the shame corner of the garage for a future Goodwill outing and Mr. Fischoeder got downsized to an abandoned flower vase with a few bits of gravel but with a prominent spot on the bar.

He socialized a lot back then because we did. He got a lot of attention swimming round and round in his wee bowl because it was so damn small he couldn't do much more than go round and round.

Poor guy. He was probably sea sick. If a fish can be such a thing. Which I'm sure they can't.

Anyway, Bubba was horrified at the guy's living conditions, so eventually I upgraded him to a big boy bowl - a proper actual Fish Bowl. And to fancy it up further, I poured a good portion of my sea glass collection in the bottom because I felt guilty about his former living conditions and was afraid he was going to file an HR claim against me with management.

HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT! Maybe we should have named him Archer?

But, here's the thing with a fish bowl that doesn't have a filter or plants filtering it - it gets dirty and needs cleaning. Which, no thank you.

I mean, I did it, because of my extreme and ongoing guilt and also because I don't like dirty things, but I was not a fan.

So, to get to the point of this random ass post, today while I was at the aquarium store getting some random ass shit for work, I had a random ass encounter with a very nice woman who was essentially buying a cleaning lady for her fish tank.

See, here I was standing in front of the glass case and a wall full of pumps and filters and handle jugs of Anti-Ich juice with my back to a billion aquariums humming away full of fish with my thermometers and humidity sensors and I look over to see what the lady next to me is getting and all she has is a plastic bag with a green ball in it.

"Uh. Whatcha got, there?" (Because I'm friendly sometimes.)

"I don't know, but it's cute!" (Because other people are sometimes adorable older gals making impulse purchases.)

"Hell yeah it is! What does it do?" (Because I always swear.)

"Um...entertain me?" (Because this is who I want to grow up to be.)

"It's a moss ball, ladies, and it doesn't do much more than look pretty and clean your fish's water." (Because aquarium store owners can only listen to so much nonsense before they have to interject and ruin our fun.)

"Ooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh." In unison, of course, because this woman is a kindred spirit.

"I want one." (Because I'm greedy)

"YAY! Isn't it funny what entertains us?" (Because she's adorable.)

"Indeed it is. Do you think I could pet it?" (Because I'm retarded.)

So, yeah, while I was out getting stuff for work, I bought my fish a cleaning lady.

Tell me, Moss Ball, do you do windows?

He's stoked.