Kids & Parents

30 minutes Or 75 minutes, whatevs...

Kitchen Timer

Mark Bittman, you're killing me. I made your Spaghetti and Meatballs with hope in my heart and I made it in 30 minutes! (times 2.5)

I completely understand your argument that mise-en-place is an overly fussy step for home cooks. The only time a home chef needs to have everything ready is for stir-fries where everything comes together rapidly. The preparation of the mise-en-place works well in a restaurant where a cook is moving all the time and has several different dishes going. If a restaurant chef has a moment after something has started, they better get going on the next order. If I prep everything ahead of time that means I'll have small six to ten minute breaks between recipe steps which sounds terribly annoying. I could either do a few six minutes chores and forget to stir the onions or I could prep along the way.

Why I Garden #42

Lanceleaf Coreopsis blooming

Lanceleaf Coreopsis, aka Coreopsis lanceolata L., is yet another native perennial growing in our yard. Lanceleaf Coreopsis is a member of Asteraceae (the Aster family) and it has been blooming for the past month or so. While this flower is currently a single plant, I'm hoping it will spread via rhizome or seed across our yard.

More Info:

Plant Fact Sheet - Lance-Leaf Coreopsis

Coreopsis lanceolata

Why I Garden #41

Mexican Hat flower closeup

Yellow Prairie Coneflower & Mexican Hat are two color variations of Ratibida columnifera a native, perennial flower we have scattered across our front, side and back yards. Once I learned to recognize their leaves in the early season (sometimes a native plant can look like a weed to untrained eyes) these yellow and/or red daisy-like flowers started growing around our home. Bees love these tough and colorful coneflowers.

More Info:

Why I Garden #40

Common Yarrow in bloom

Common Yarrow, a.k.a. Plumajillo, blooming in our front yard. Another native perennial, yarrow has slowly grown and spread despite the ongoing drought. With a little rain it blooms and the pollinators love it.

More Info:

Wikipedia - Achillea Millefolium

USDA - Plant Fact Sheet - Common Yarrow

Banking on the Harvest

Petaluma Seed Bank interior 2

Why do banks give up these incredible buildings? The answer is probably very boring and financially sensible, but LOOK at this building and tell me do you prefer an ATM?

Anyway ... on our recent (and too short) northern CA vacation we made a trip to the Petaluma Seed Bank. If you enjoy seed catalogs, you will love this place. We browsed for quite a while and made small withdrawal (i.e. we bought some seeds).

More Info:

Getting a Charge at OAK

OAK Airport - Electric Car Charging Stations

The EcoFamily recently flew (a direct flight) into OAK for a long-awaited vacation. Walking out of the airport we noticed a new addition to the parking lot; electric car charging stations. It turns out that those charging stations are FREE (beyond the cost of parking at OAK)!

Can You Fix It?

Broken - Storm Door Latch and Coffee Grinder

Stuff breaks. This is a fact of life. But, is that stuff fixable?

Here are two recent examples of broken items from our home, a storm door latch and coffee grinder. The storm door was fixed by replacing the inside latch. The coffee grinder wasn't fixable (yes, I took it apart to attempt a repair). The coffee grinder, although it lasted 25+ years, is disposable. The storm door was designed with replaceable parts (latch, handle, screen, etc.)

DIY Coffee Roasting

Roasting Coffee - cooling beans

I am a big DIY nerd. Sometimes that leads to complicated, long term projects that take over your life. Fortunately, some DIY projects are ridiculously quick and easy. Case in point: roasting coffee. While I'm not a coffee connoisseur, I grind my own beans and we have four types of coffee makers (drip, moka pot, french press, pourover). I had read many self-described coffee geeks wax rhapsodic about roasting their own coffee. Frankly, I was leery of over-complicating my simple morning coffee habit.

Fixing a Broken Heart

Repaired Strong Mountain Bike Frame

The heart of a bicycle is the frame. The fork, wheels, bars and stem, saddle, pedals, etc. are vital, but they all build upon the frame. I've ridden many and owned a few bikes over the years and have determined through trial and error what I like to ride. I was despondent last fall when I discovered a crack on the chainstay of my mountain bike. I found a loaner bike to ride and pondered the fate of my well loved hardtail...

Slow and Steady Brings Results

Tortoise and the Hare

Over the past several years I've made incremental improvements to the building envelope of our home. Adding insulation above the garage ceiling is the latest in a string of insulation and weather sealing DIY projects. My slow and steady wins the race approach has chipped away at our natural gas usage. But, have I come to the end of the low hanging fruit?

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