We keep floundering between a couple weeks of eating really well and then a couple weeks of binging on chips and macaroni & cheese. A friend of ours just finished a Whole 30 and has said great things about it. I figure our diet could use a kick start, and as I’ve noticed in the past, the only real way I will commit to following something 100% is if it’s strict. And Whole 30 is strict. It’s easier to list the things that you can eat: Meats(grassfed, organic, pastured, etc), Fish(wild-caught, sustainable), Fruit(preferably organic), Vegetables(preferably organic), Healthy Fats(not chemically extracted). Now here’s for the quick rundown of things you’re not supposed to eat: grains, legumes, processed anything, added sugars (even natural ones, like honey), dairy, corn, alcohol, chemically extracted fats (think canola, etc), white potatoes. The white potatoes thing seems fairly arbitrary, but they’re not all that full of vitamins and minerals, and they’re super starchy. Plus, if you could eat white potatoes, I’m willing to bet most people would just subsist on french fries and potato chips fried in tallow or lard. Not ideal for one’s health.
|We still have a few things to take out of the fridge, most notably, cheap beer, feta, lemon curd|
I conned my father in law into coming over and helping us make a final push towards getting Duckingham Palace safe for the ducks. This included moving the ceiling joists, building doors, and putting up the “belting” where the large holed wire meets the small holed wire. He got that and more done! They also installed the valve on the pond outlet so it will hold water, and we put the ducks in their enclosure. I still have a little bit of grading to do, both inside and outside the pen, and we need to get the upright boards stained for the remaining 2/3s of the enclosure and then install them. Just little things right now that aren’t affecting the quality of life of the duckies. My biggest project right now is excavating a bigger drainage hole for this duck pond water. After 5 days, it has begun getting a little rank.
I am a solid week late on this update. We bought our ducklings 7 full days ago. They are fucking hilarious. The woman we bought them from (they were $5 each, if you’re curious what ducklings go for) had done a pretty incredible job of taming them, despite having the moms overseeing their upbringing. The batch we got was 2x 6 week old ducklings, and 3x 4 week old ducklings. The size difference is really only 2 weeks of growth. Ducks grow like weeds! Since we can’t yet tell which ducklings are going to end up being males, and which ones are going to end up being females, I’m giving them ALL female names, then as they begin showing signs of being male, change the males names to foods. So far, their names are Allison, Ina, Audrey, Martha, and Katniss. Katniss had her name changed. She was Marilyn initially, but once I saw how adept she is at both hunting flies, and evading my capture, she got the name of the famous huntress from Hunger Games. And no, I’m not super into that movie. All of this first group of photos is day 1. The dogs WANT to eat the ducklings.
Also, videos. I am not generally the kind of person who appreciates videos on blogs, so please feel free not to watch them. But if you are, and ducklings are hilarious, watch them making funny noises while they drink water, and then go for a swim.
Last summer, my friend Ivana and I entered the Sutter Home’s “Build a Better Burger” competition. Our arrangement was that we would each submit the same number of recipes, then if either of us got chosen as finalists, we would take the other along as our sous chef, and split whatever winnings we got. Unfortunately, Sutter Home wasn’t as impressed by our burgers as we were, and none of them were finalists. But Sutter Home was wrong, and our burgers were awesome. Since part of the contest rules were that none of the recipes had been published, I wasn’t able to post about them on my blog until now. But here is the first burger. It’s not incredibly original, but it was delicious, and had some interesting components that made it better than the average teriyaki burger… you know… because I made it. Contrary to my regular cooking style, every amount, instruction, and variable had to be accounted for and written down, so the ingredients list, and instructions are uncharacteristically detailed. Enjoy it now, because it’s not gonna become a regular thing! Photos are bad cell phone pics that are a year old. Oh well. These were delicious.
I still haven’t gotten the pond up and running. And by up and running, I mean gluing the valve onto the end of the drain pipe. That is literally all it needs to hold water. Unfortunately, I went out there with part of my plumbing fitting assortment, put teflon tape on the threads, tightened everything down, then realized that I put the wrong fittings on the fucking valve. And the best part is that I can’t get them off. I am a weakling, and I can’t find a strap wrench the right size. I have also not told Craig this, so I’m sure when he reads this, he’ll give me a hard time, then maybe help me get them off and I can try again with the right fittings. Damn it, Laurel!
Ok. So I had to use a week of vacation before I lost it at the end of the month, so I took the week off and decided to put some effort into the duck pen and finally FINISH IT. I haven’t entirely finished it, but I have done everything that I am capable of doing on my own. When Craig winds down after the match he is going to this weekend, hopefully he can get together with his buddy and move the roof supports (so I can put the “lid” of more welded wire fencing on the pen), and build my 2 doors (one of the 4 foot openings is going to have 2x 2ft wide doors) so I can put the wire on them as well. That’ll make it predator resistant. I am hesitant to call it predator proof before we have any evidence of anything trying to get inside. Either way, once those things are done, all we need to do is carry the dog house inside and put it on the already leveled area and get some food. I can take my time making the auto filling waterer and getting the pond filled (however this is literally a 10 minute fix once I get the fucking fittings off the valve) as they are not essential to the short term health and well-being of the duckies. We will also need to get up the outer fascia (sandwiching the wire fencing between the posts and it) and cross-supports. Those probably need to be done before the ducks move in, I hear they tend to be skittish, and loud hammering/screwing/tons of strangers probably isn’t the ideal way to make friends/encourage egg laying. Luckily, I have already stained most of the lumber that’s going up, so it’ll be pretty plug and play.
Regardless… Here’s what I got done on the duck enclosure this week…. I finished adding the fencing to the rest of the walls. It is also buried to prevent digging predators. I dug out and levelled the flat area in front of the duck enclosure. Its dimensions are approximately 4×16. This gives me a nice little “patio” to keep bins of food, some sort of straw bale storage solution that I still haven’t worked out, and maybe a little adirondack chair to chill in and watch the ducks hang out. It also gives the doors a flat area to swing open, and looks nice. We lucked out and my in-laws had some really fancy retaining wall blocks leftover from a project that they gave to us for another much larger future project, so I stole some of them to build a retaining wall around the patio area. They look way nicer than the rocks that I was planning on using.
Digging on this portion of the project took probably 5 hours, plus an additional 2 hours of carrying 80lb blocks, setting, and leveling them. My body hurts. My arms are all scratched up from carrying the blocks, I got a sweet sunburn, and I have several mystery bug bites (even one in the middle of my back…) that I don’t entirely understand. But you know what? It feels damn good knowing that we are really getting much closer to being done! I’d love to be the slavedriver wife and make Craig just get his portion of the project completed, but he has been reloading every night trying to prepare for a match this weekend, and I’m not quite in all out shrew mode yet.
A few weeks ago, we had a small bbq. I made hummus. But I didn’t make just any hummus, I made Smitten Kitchen’s Ethereally Smooth Hummus. It was pretty good. In fact, I got a lot of compliments on it when I have never had hummus-related compliments before. That got me to wondering… if the defining characteristic of the hummus – the time consuming part, of course is what makes it great, or the rest of the recipe is. You see, Ethereally Smooth Hummus’ shtick is that all of the hulls are removed from the chickpeas before you blend up the hummus. Deb proclaims that it took her 10 minutes to pop a can’s worth of chickpeas out of their hulls. I doubled the recipe (we can eat a lot of hummus!) and it took me nearly 2 hours. Of course, I was camped out on the sofa and watching TV while I did it, so it wasn’t really that much of a bother, but it was markedly more time than one playing of Inna Gadda Da Vida. Regardless, I was supposing to Ivana that it would be interesting to see if the marked difference was the composition of the recipe, or the removal of the husks. So began The Great Hummus Showdown®.
Please excuse these photos. They were taken with a cell phone in bad lighting at a friend’s house(yes, I took a container of chickpeas with me to peel at a friend’s house. What?).
I wanted this to be as fair as possible, so I used the same batch of dried beans, the same jar of tahini, the same head of garlic, and squeezed all of my lemons in to one container so that their juice would mix. I am pretty serious.
I just wanted to show you the strange thing that happens to peeled chickpeas when you grind them…. The turn into the texture of brown sugar. Unpeeled chickpeas are similar to a natural peanut butter, but the peeled ones get powdery.
Then I didn’t take any more photos. That’s how I roll. Regardless, I made both batches identically. Then I made a batch of pitas, and brought it all to work.
Then I did a blind taste test and asked everyone which was superior. Most people paused, or retasted. When pushed, all but one said that the peeled chickpea hummus was better. Many of them, without prompting, also said that if it was any more effort, they’d definitely go for the other one though, because they were that close. So there you go. I will not be peeling chickpeas anymore. There really was an almost imperceptible difference – definitely not the time expenditure, at least in my experience.
Fairly lightly for the last few months. This is not consistent with the all-out coat blow that he did the first year or so that we owned him, but according to my research, it’s not uncommon for malamutes to shed more gradually as they get older. Regardless, it’s been obnoxious. And I’ve been patiently waiting for things to thin out a bit before I gave him a bath. But the situation hasn’t resolved itself, so, knowing we’d have a few days of nice hot weather to look forward to (he takes a full 24 hours to dry fully), I just did it. And then we went to a friend’s house for 4 hours or so. And when we returned… there was hair everywhere. Even after owning malamutes for this long, it was the most surprising amount of hair I’ve ever seen. And his fur was falling out. Not in mats, but in smears. He would walk by you and leave a full handful stuck to your pants. The best part of this is the near constant fight that we’ve been having about brushing? Over. He was very itchy after the bath (this is normal, and not indicative of poor rinsing, he just doesn’t like being wet/clean), so he let me go to town on brushing him. We were able to forego the usual antics of him running away, hiding under the coffee table, standing coyly out of my reach, flopping around like a toddler on a sugar high, booping me, snarling, groaning, whining, grumbling, and trying to fit my whole hand (with the brush) in his mouth while also vocalizing, and get straight down to business. Some spots even felt so good he did the leg shaky thing when I went over them. As is evidenced in the photo, he is still quite fluffy. He has a lot more fur to go, but this is what accumulated on the floor over the course of the 30 hours post-bath.