Until recently, I played hockey, though not well. I coach soccer for Excel and Santa Cruz City Youth Soccer. I'm a husband and Dad to three great kids. See the photos section to see just how cute they are.
I love cooking and gardening. We own five chickens and are starting to get quite a few eggs from them. My son and I collect, paint and play with Warhammer 40,000 miniatures. My daughter is starting to get into the painting as well. I enjoy reading, everything from graphic novels to fiction, non-fiction and technical books.
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Or, you can try to hire me
I've completed a game along with Carlos Camacho called Z1. It is a space shoot-em up inspired by Gyruss.
It's not quite as polished as I would like it to be, but it is something to be proud of given the little amount of time we had to work on it. I kept a dev journal on tumblr if you are into that. Otherwise, please go vote for our game.
January just finished, and Spring is still a month and a half away. I've been thinking about and planning my garden.
I started by looking through some seed catalogs to get a general idea of what I wanted in my garden this year. After the bazillions of tomatoes last year, I want to give the soil a rest from nightshade and plant some more diverse crops this year. It's been a few years since I've done corn, so this year I'm going to devote a big section to corn. Nothing beats fresh picked corn, and I can use the stalks as filler for my compost bin. I've ordered the seeds, got my seed starter ready and now just need a couple of hours to get it all started.
I'm doing beets again this year, they did well and we all loved them. In addition, I'm trying some new onions. They are supposed to be day length neutral, which might be better suited for this area as we are really close to the day length cutoff. Despite previous failures, I'm going to try cucumbers again. I'm going to grow them among the corn to act as a living mulch along with pumpkins and peas.
Like last year, I'm doing potatoes again. I have already ordered potatoes online and should get them mid March. Even though I made some mistakes last year (dug a few of them way too early) I am hopeful that this year will be as good if not better. It was really nice having fresh grown potatoes last year. Particularly the varieties you don't normally get in the store.
Last Fall, I started some garlic. It is all in one bed and seems to be doing well. I just started cutting down the greens as they come up. They give a milder garlic flavor to dishes you put them in. I worry that I should have been cutting them down earlier, because they are going crazy after having cut them back. I've just been keeping the bed mostly weeded otherwise. I am really looking forward to trying out the 5 different varieties I've planted... A "helpful" worker threw away all of the markers I had for the garlic so I have no idea what variety is where this year. It will all be a surprise.
I've planned and thought. Ordered and bought. Now it's time to go outside and turn the garden beds, add the fertilizers and compost, and get those seeds started. Here's hoping you are as excited about this spring and summer as I am.
So, I bought these bags to grow potatoes in and some potatoes to go in the bags. I got new soil, added fertilizer and watered them as directed, but it took quite some time for sprouts to poke out of the soil. I was really worried that my potato experiment was going to be a failure.
As you can see from the picture, the potatoes are growing quite well. That is one of the six bags. The concept is quite simple, you plant the seed potatoes down near the bottom, cover with a couple inches of soil and keep them watered (but not flooded.) When the plants are about 8" high, add about 4" of soil. As the plants keep growing, keep adding soil until the bag is full as shown to the left here. I'll keep them healthy through watering and maybe another application of fertilizer. Once they've finished growing, the stems will wilt and die back. That's when you are supposed to stop watering them, they'll be ready to harvest after that.
There's a whole science to storing potatoes. I wish I had time and yield to get into that, but I have a feeling that we'll use up most of the potatoes by around Thanksgiving. For my tomatoes, I have it all figured out. Canning tomatoes is simpler than canning most things, because they have such high acid they can be canned at regular boiling temperature. What I did before was to cook down a bunch of tomatoes, run them through a french mill and then can them in regular jars. I'll probably also do some salsa like I did last time. I'll try and post the recipe for that when I get to it.
My tomatoes are doing pretty well, considering the cold start we've gotten on this summer. I'm trying to water them even less this year to see how it affects growth, yield and flavor. I've talked with many people that have completely dry farmed their tomatoes, and it seems like it should work. Especially this year as the temperatures have stayed fairly low here. Here's hoping the temps pick up before wilt sets in.
Lastly, I finally got around to building a real compost bin as recommended in a book. It is four feet by four feet by four feet, which doesn't sound that big until you actually build it and it's sitting there in your yard. But I've already got it about one quarter full of all sorts of yard trimmings and whatnot. What the chickens don't eat of our table scraps is going in there now. I hope to have some nice compost for the garden next year.
Yes, I know, it is still ugly. But much less ugly than before, right?
Did some other housekeeping and a few changes to the comment system to try and keep spammers out. They are persistent, kinda like gophers. Wish I had a deadly trap I could use on them...
Make a batch of this on Sunday and use it for everything from main dish to sides to refried in burritos throughout the week.
The real key is to let the beans cook with just the ham shank and nothing else for a long time before adding salt and acid. If you try to cook them with salt and acid form the beginning, the beans will turn out really hard. So, don't take shortcuts with this.
- 1 lb beans (pinto is good)
- 1 ham hock or shank
- 6 cups water for soaking
- 6 cups water for cooking
- Splash of olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, cut into pieces
- 1 T tomato paste
- 1/4 cup vinegar (apple code vinegar is good)
- 1/2 sprig rosemary
- 1 t fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
Soak your beans in 6 cups of water for at least 6 hours. Drain and rinse the beans and then add them to your pot with the ham shank and 6 cups of water. Turn the heat on and let it simmer for 2 hours.
When the two hours are almost over, start the rest of the ingredients. I like to cook everything down before adding it to the beans to let it develop it's flavor.
In a separate saucepan, add the olive oil and chopped onions with some salt and pepper and let those go low and slow. When they've just started to get color, up the heat to medium and add the garlic and herbs. In a minute those will start to smell heavenly, then add the carrots and stir them around, adding more salt and pepper. When the carrots smell good, add the tomato paste, the fresh tomatoes and let those just start to cook before adding in the vinegar. Let that cook down into a goopy mess. It should taste really, really strong right now. It has to in order to stand up to being mixed in with the beans and their liquid.
This is when you stir the two together. Taste for salt after you've thoroughly stirred it. Give it another ten minutes to come together in the bean pot and then serve.
Variations: Sometimes I'll add a big handful of shredded kale and other leafy greens. They go really well with the ham flavor, and add nutritious greens to your diet.
I don't know whether to call this a pot roast or a stew. It cooks like a pot roast, but serves like a stew. Excellent on these cold winter nights.
- 7 bone roast
- 1/2 to full bottle red wine
- 3 T flour
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3-6 cups beef stock
- 4 potatoes cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 4 carrots cut into 1/2 inch thick coins
- 8-10 pearl onions
- 1T olive oil
Start this dish in the morning to give it a lot of time to cook slowly in the oven.
Set a large dutch oven on the stove with some olive oil, and cook the sliced onions low and slow until they are just turning color. Remove them from the pan and reserve them in a bowl.
Mix the flour with salt and pepper (and any other spices you think might be nice) and use that to coat the seven bone roast really well. Turn the heat on under the dutch oven to medium high, add more oil if needed and set the roast in the pan. You're not trying to cook the meat through, just cook the flour and get some color from the meat and juices. Flip it once (carefully, it's heavy and unwieldy) and cook the other side as well.
Preheat your oven to 300ºF
Remove the meat to a plate for a moment. Up the heat to high and add the wine to deglaze the pan. Expect some sputtering. Stir up all the yummy bits and return the roast to the dutch oven. Add the root vegetables and pearl onions. Crush the garlic cloves and add them along with the bay leaves and any other herbs you might want to add (rosemary would be nice). Throw in the reserved cooked onions. Cover with the beef stock and bring to a simmer.
Once it has simmered a couple of minutes, cover and throw the whole thing into the oven. After it's been in there at least an hour, you can cut the temp to 250ºF and let it cook all day. You'll know it is done when the bones come out without any effort. If you don't want the root vegetables to be that mushy, feel free to add them an hour or so before you intend to serve it.
I remove the bones and use a spoon to make rough portions of meat and serve it as a stew in bowls with a slice or two of crusty bread slathered in butter.
If you've participated in a farm share or are growing greens in your garden then you know what this is about. There is some green that you've never really used before and now you have a ton of it.
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1-2 T olive oil
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 t vinegar (balsamic, champagne or some other fancy vinegar)
- 2 handfuls of greens (spinach, bok choy, chard, broccoli rabe, cabbage, orach, beet greens, anything else that you get that is leafy and green)
Heat oil over medium heat in a pan large enough to hold the greens mounded high. Add the minced shallot and a little salt and the pepper. Once that just starts to cook, add the garlic and let that just get fragrant before adding the greens and a little more salt.
The greens should wilt and cook down nicely. The thickness of the leaves will determine the cooking time, you just want them wilted nicely and almost cooked through before adding the vinegar and tossing well before taking off the heat.
This recipe works with any leafy greens that you might have, and acts as a satisfying side to any meal in the spring and summer.
When beets are in season, we could have this every day. You'll be surprised how many greens this can work with.
Use rice wine vinegar and add a splash of fish sauce, serve sprinkled with sesame seeds for an asian tang.
Sauté onions and carrots, add the greens and finish with the juice of one lemon for a different twist.