Home In Disarray

March 27, 2014

My new favorite thing on the internet.

My new favorite thing on the internet.
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Probably not funny if you’re not an art geek, but I know that my community college Art History professor would love this, and yes… it is my favorite thing on the internet ever.

http://the-toast.net/2014/03/27/two-orthodox-monks-invent-byzantine-art/

Posted in: Art, Misc
March 25, 2014

Baked Krab Rangoon

Baked Krab Rangoon
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Yes, that’s Krab with a “K.”  Fake crab is made out of a fish called pollock, plus a ton of other stuff.  It’s not great for you, nor does it taste appreciably like crab, but it’s tasty, cheap, and easy to work with.  I bought a package of Krab to make Krab & Swiss grilled cheese sandwiches, but had a lot of extra, so I figured I’d better come up with something that uses a lot of it.  Since we had part of a package of cream cheese leftover in the fridge that was not earmarked for anything, and I had a few packs of gyoza wrappers in the freezer waiting for a noble purpose, I decided to make Krab Rangoon.

ingredients for krab rangoon

With something like rangoon, there is so much other stuff going on flavor-wise that it really is pretty unnecessary to use real crab.  The photo above is really more of a guide than anything.  I’ll provide a comprehensive ingredients list later, but those are the items that I found on most of the rangoon recipes online.

fake crab

Ingredients:
8oz fake (or real, if you’re rich) crab
1.5 packs (or 12 oz) cream or neufchatel cheese
1 large scallion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne (sriracha or gochujang would be great here too)
1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
~1 Tblspn fish sauce
1 large package gyoza or wonton wrappers(wonton wrappers seem much more common, but I used what I had on hand)

krab rangoon filling

*Soften your cream cheese.  My microwave has a cream cheese soften setting (I actually use this far more often than I’m comfortable admitting)
*Mix in finely chopped scallion, plus all the dry spices.  Taste.  It probably needs salt.
*Add in tamari.  Taste.  It’s probably missing something.  Add a few dashes of fish sauce.  Yes, fish sauce.  I love fish sauce.  I use it in lots of stuff, like chicken noodle soup, to add a little je nes se quois.  Used sparingly, it doesn’t taste at all as funky as it smells.  Used a little more liberally, it doesn’t either, provided you match it to the flavors you’re going for.  Using it fairly liberally in this application made the dish, IMO.  If fish sauce makes you nervous, add a dash, mix, taste, repeat until desired depth of flavor is developed.  I think I probably used more than a tablespoon, but since I didn’t measure, I can’t be sure.
*Flake your krab in, and stir to combine.  To taste test the filling, I put it on a cracker.  You could also crisp up a wonton wrapper in a hot pan or your preheated oven and try that. The cracker was easier.

krab rangoon filling

*Lay out a few wrappers, and place a tablespoon or so of filling on each one.  Get a small dish of water and use your finger to wet around the outside of a few wrappers at a time.  Fold as desired.  I folded mine in half, sealed, then folded the little wings over and sealed those together to make little dumplings.
*Lather, rinse, repeat until you’re either out of wrappers or you’re out of filling.  If you run out of filling first, fill the remainder of your wrappers with nutella, you won’t be disappointed.  If you run out of wrappers first, put the rest of the filling into a ramekin, top with parmesan or swiss cheese, bake, and spread on crackers/bread/your lover.
*Place on a greased pan, and spray fairly liberally with cooking spray (this is necessary to help them brown and crisp nicely without drying out too much).  Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, turn over, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the desired level of golden brown glory is achieved.

We ate these plain, but if you wanted to serve these with a sauce, they’re traditionally done with sweet chili sauce (which is epic).

Posted in: Cooking, Food
March 24, 2014

A little bit of progress on Duckingham Palace

A little bit of progress on Duckingham Palace
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The pond drain project has been a bit of a saga.  The preformed pond liners are made of HDPE (high density polyethylene) which is a plastic that is pretty much designed to be minimally reactive and not stick to anything, including glue, silicone, etc.  It’s the type of plastic that milk cartons, gas cans, and garbage cans are made of.  It makes a great pond liner as it repels water and is inexpensive to produce.  It makes a terrible surface to try to seal to though.

Not counting on the used pond liner to be anything more than flimsy and flexible (it is extremely both of those things), I decided to sandwich the part of the liner that I’m drilling between 1/4″ sheets of polyethylene in  an attempt to add some rigidity to the surface that that we mount the drain on.  But I had to buy a special type of glue designed specifically for adhering to HDPE.  It has been a bit of a cluster, but we are trying to “overbuild” the drain portion to prevent too much leakage down the road.  I’m still not sure if this glue is going to be particularly effective in sealing the 3 layers of HDPE together, but at this point it’s the only option, and I am hesitant to try investing much more money into trying to make this work.  Either way, we will have some clamping from the shower drain that I got, so I am counting on leakage being minimal.  Craig is far more pessimistic, but here’s hoping I can prove him wrong!  Here’s the pond liner (curing)in an unused corner of the family room that has begun collecting various duck-related paraphernalia.

gluing sheets of HDPE to a pond liner

I also began excavation for the pond, however having it in the family room has made it a little difficult to effectively “fit” the hole to the pond, but I used the measuring tape and I think I properly situated the drain location.

excavating hole for preformed pond liner
excavating hole for preformed pond liner
excavating hole for preformed pond liner

As I’ve been digging, I’ve also started collecting rocks(and scavenging from other parts of the yard) to build up a small “retaining wall” around the downhill portion of the pond and lay around the pond to reduce mud.

rock collection
rock collection

If we get a break in the rain this week, I’ll get the tops of the posts cut off and start “framing” the ceiling portion of the pen so I can get the roofing installed before the wire goes up.

Posted in: Ducks
March 17, 2014

And we have broken ground on project duckway

And we have broken ground on project duckway
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I really am not sure why I made a project runway reference.  I have literally never seen the show.  I suspect the reference has a little to do with the fact that I am deliriously sick with the cold from hell.  Anyway.  Things needed to happen this weekend, despite the weather.  You see, the beginning phases of construction hinged on my father in law’s planning and visionary skills, and he will be out of town next weekend.  The following weekend I will be working, and the weekend after that, we have a rifle match.  So you see, if we didn’t accomplish the preliminary build this weekend, it would be a whole other month before I managed to force the guys in my life to build me this enclosure.  And I’m pretty sure I would have burst if I had to wait a whole other month before even being able to get started on the rest of the projects that will be necessary to prepare the space for the ducks.

I was so determined that we would be working on the duck pen this weekend, I was prepared to be Stalin-like in my whip snapping, but really, we all worked together and strangely enough, it was one of the most amicable projects that we have ever worked on.  I suppose because Craig is entirely ready for me to shut the hell up about the ducks already, and knows that the only way that’s going to happen will be to just build the damned thing and get it over with.  I’m totally OK with that.  I managed to also rope a friend into helping out with the whole ordeal.  We started out by laying out the holes for the pier blocks.  It turns out that laying out a square on an uneven slope based on a rickety wobbly old fence is an ineffective way to do so, and will result in needing to redig literally every hole that you already dug once.  There was a lot of digging. But after lots of measuring, math, calculations, me standing back and letting the men-folk do the figuring, discussions of final design choices, etc, we got the preliminary framing completed.

The next portion of this will be to drill the hole in my pond liner (this makes me very nervous) and install the drain, then dig a hole in the enclosure to sink the pond in the ground. Also, we need to install our “rafters” or whatever they’re called that will be used to support the roof and top netting.  After that, the entire outside needs to get excavated so that I can bury the wire fencing material in the ground to prevent jerkface raccoons and cats from digging under the fence and having duck snacks.  After that gets completed and the fencing is stapled onto the frame, we put the remaining horizontal pieces on (effectively sandwiching the wire between the uprights and horizontal pieces), start cross-bracing,and install doors.  Then it’s just a matter of getting the roofing up, grading, bringing in their house, installing the feeder and waterer, gathering supplies, and actually getting some dang ducks!

I’d have liked to have gotten a little more done, but we got totally rained out, and my nagging cough turned into something more akin to a moderately incapacitating cold, so I am taking a short break from digging and monkeying around in pouring rain.  So much for Stalin-like determination.  I think I’ll go look at some more videos of ducklings and blow my nose.

Posted in: Ducks
March 5, 2014

Just how quickly does red hair dye fade?

Just how quickly does red hair dye fade?
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Pretty quickly.  I got my hair done on Feb 13th.  This is a photo that I took on the morning of the 14th.  The color is accurate.  My hair was RED.

I wash my hair almost every day, however the visible red “wash out” stopped after my second shampooing, so who knows.  Nearly 3 weeks later, here’s where my hair color sits.  Based on the last go-round with the dye job, it’ll stick at about this color indefinitely.

Sorry about the weird myspace angles.  I was in the car and I am the master of taking awkward selfies.

Posted in: Misc
March 4, 2014

Duckponics – In the planning stages

Duckponics – In the planning stages
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If there is one thing about my personality that I cannot stress enough, it is that I obsessively research, plan, and prepare for things.  Well, that is… things that in the grand scheme of things do not matter that much.  Things that you can generally pretty easily change and/or fly by the seat of your pants on.  Things that require careful formulation, design, or attention to detail?  Those are the types of things that are far less fun to plan.  I liken this to a 6 year old planning her future wedding, and then as a 30 year old being totally unable to decide on vendors and particulars.  That’s where I am in the planning stages of my duckponics setup.  I might as well be doodling my crush’s last name on my spiral notebook and cutting pages out of hand-me-down bridal magazines from my aunt.

Ducks need ponds.  Swimming makes them happy, allows them to keep clean, and many ducks need water to breed.  Ducks are also totally disgusting.  Based on my understanding, any new duck owner is woefully unprepared for just how disgusting they make pond water.  They will carry mouthfuls of dirt into the pond, then swish it around to rinse the dirt away and hopefully leave tasty bugs in their mouths.  They shit everywhere.  They carry their food into the pond, and their preferred method of eating vegetables is floating in their disgusting pond water.  As a result, many duck owners get plastic kiddy pools and dump/refill them every day.  But a) that wastes a lot of water, b) kiddy pools are pretty unattractive and c) I am not going to be out there every day no matter what dumping and refilling the pond.  I need something a little more self-sustaining than that.  Using a larger volume of water should allow me to go longer without changing anything out, and if I can figure out a way to collect the water, I can use it to water the garden.

For Phase I,  I found one of those hard plastic pond liners on Craigslist for $50, and convinced my mom to go pick it up for me with her little trailer.  And she did.  And now I have it.  I’m going to cut a hole in the bottom and install a sink drain in it.  The sink drain will be plumbed into 1.5″ PVC pipe, and the whole thing will be buried into the ground.  Due to the nature of the slope, I should be able to to either excavate a hole out, or just run it out the side of the slope.  At the end of the pipe will be a 1.5″ PVC ball valve ($6 on amazon) and then a “T” which will allow me to plumb the remainder of the duckponics setup in during Phase II, while still allowing for me to drain the pond as necessary and drain the water into a bucket, can, maybe even hose and irrigate the yard.  The pond will be sunk into the ground all the way on the uphill side, and require a small retaining wall on the other side, which I will use to hold in gravel and river rocks (the purpose of surrounding the pond in rocks is to help reduce the amount of soil that gets carried into the pond).

Phase II will include adding a rubbermaid watering trough or similar (once I find a sweet deal online), a pond/waterfall pump, and one of the $18 planters from Costco (I already have one of these that I converted into a self-watering planter and you can’t do better for the price)  The basic setup will include the rubbermaid tub plumbed up to the duck pond, and both of them sitting on the same level.  Water can flow freely between the two with the ball valves open, and it’ll be easy to isolate one or the other to flush out part or all of the system by simply closing either of the ball valves.  Them being on level with each other should allow me to lose electricity or take the pump offline without any overflow issues.

The trough will have 2 false bottoms(made from the egg-crate light diffusers they use for fluorescent lights.  One will be several inches off the bottom, which will hopefully allow the worst of the sludge to settle out.  On top of the false bottom, I’ll have a much coarser version of this milk crate prefilter with the pump inside, and on top of that prefilter setup, I’ll have a secondary false bottom towards the top of the trough that will allow me to set in pots for stuff like pumpkins, lettuce, and kale (all of the leafy greens will be fodder for the ducks).  The outlet of the trough will go uphill to connect to the bottom of the costco planter, where the water will then be forced through increasingly fine filter media before hitting the top, and squirting out a hole that’s been drilled towards the top.  I haven’t decided yet whether the pot will be inside the enclosure or outside.  My gut says to leave it outside, as it’ll be easier to grow stuff like water lettuce without the ducks having access to it, plus, they’ll have more space inside the pen.  From a logistical standpoint, I am concerned that there may be a little dribbling, and being able to sit the pot on the edge of the pond may be the only way to effectively collect the water and get it back into the system.  I suppose we will see how it all works out after I have it set up, as supposing isn’t going to accomplish much.

Long term, I hope that this will help filter out some of the waste and keep the water clearer for the ducks, as well as contribute to growing some healthy green fodder for them  I’m sure I’ll still need to drain the system every now and again, but it’ll be easy to repurpose that wasted water for nonedible and cooked food garden irrigation, and add the sludge from the bottom of the pond and sump to the compost.

Posted in: Ducks
March 4, 2014

Duck pen plan

Duck pen plan
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This whole duck thing has taken longer than expected.  That is due primarily to scheduling conflicts, and bad weather (who’d have thunk the weather might suck in February).  It also has a little to do with me having a few necessities in terms of design, and those conflicting with Craig’s version of how the pen needs to look.  Mostly, that the entrance to the pen be in the near corner of it, that the south half have clear corrugated plastic roofing, and that I be able to walk upright inside of the pen.  After much discussion, argument, a little yelling and fit-throwing on my part, and I wore Craig down.  We both gave up things that we believe will make the place functionally or visually better, but we have finally come to an agreement.  It is a freaking relief.  Upon coming up with our compromise, which is essentially just a 12×12 box(ironically, quite close to my initial desires), I cornered my father in law and we came up with a materials list.

We will sink 12 pier blocks into the ground and connect our uprights, which will be 4x4s to them.  This keeps the lumber off the ground and gives the pen a pretty solid foundation.  Then we’ll run 2x4s as horizontal cross pieces.  On the “right” 6 feet in the pen there will be corrugated plastic roofing, which will allow light in, but keep at least some of the rain out of the pen, giving me a dryish place to put their house, feeder, etc.  The other 6 feet will be covered in wire fencing to keep things like raccoons from eating the ducks.  It will slope down from the front of the pen to the back of the pen, allowing for the roof to drain, and hopefully most of the moist messes to drain down hill as well.   I’m going to wrap the pen in 1×1″ wire fencing on the bottom 2 feet, and run that wire down into the ground about another 1 ft and bury it to prevent digging animals from making their way in.  The top portion of the pen will be probably 2×2 or 2×4″ wire fencing, as well as the unroofed side.  I’ll have 2x 2ft wide doors, as I was hoping for a 4 ft opening, but from a structural standpoint, my FIL believes it’ll be easier to support 2 2ft wide doors versus 1 4ft wide one.  Makes sense.

I will make another post shortly with details on my “duckponics” setup, but it’ll start with the pond, which is a necessity in any duck setup.  Many people use blue plastic kiddy pools, but they’re just so ugly, I know it’d be a tough sell for Craig, and I’m not particularly fond of them.  We were able to find a pretty large preformed black pond liner on Craigslist for $50, which is nice, considering something that size tends to run in the $300 range new.  The pond liner will get sunk into the ground as far as is possible, and then surrounded with gravel and rocks so the ducks are less likely to drag mud, straw, etc into the pond.

Posted in: Ducks