Saturday, January 31, 2009
(And I'm not even from the South - so "ya'all" isn't even a 'natural' term for me!)
Okay, for starters, there's a borderline pornographic pic + recipe here... No, I didn't use that particular recipe, but the photo made me giggle 'til margarita shot-up my nose, so I felt it was worth sharing, at least!!!
I actually Googled "How to cook Beef Tongue" and got a buttload of "hits." Here's what I ended up with (merging most of 'em into ONE) (My modifications are noted in [brackets]):
1 3 lb large beef tongue
1 Onion, quartered
1 Carrot, sliced [I used about 6-8 baby carrots, actually]
3 Ribs of leafy celery
6 Sprigs of [fresh] parsley
3 Bay leaves
10 Peppercorns, cracked [actually, I ground the peppermill about 15x]
[3-5 Cloves fresh garlic, sliced]
[3-4 Bouillon cubes]
[4-5 Tbs Onion flakes]
[*Addendum: Might want to add a bit of salt to the water! No, I don't know how much - but I ended up needing to "salt" the meat slices when I ate it the next day.]
I started out by scrubbing the tongue, then soaked it in cold water for appx 90 minutes (changed the water about 3 times).
Then I filled a large pot (I'm guessing it's appx 5 qts +/-) with cold water. Enough to cover the tongue + appx 2". Then added the above ingredients. Put it on the stove... Brought it to a boil, then covered it, and turned it back to "simmer" (low, rolling boil). Let 'er boil for about 60 mins/lb. So, about 3 hours in my case. I did stop, midway through, to flip the tongue over (it kept wanting to float to the top and the topside would tend to dry out. I covered it w/the wet veggie matter).
After appx 3 hrs, I pulled it out and plunked it into a bowl of COLD water. Grabbed a pair of cooking shears, a knife and a fork, and proceeded to "skin" the tongue (outer surface of the tongue turned white during cooking). I did my best to "preserve" the meat underneath and actually did a halfway decent job of "skinning" it (Plunging it in cold water was a *very* good idea!).
It seems pretty tender, now - but, after skinning, I decided to plop it back into the pot 'o water/veggies on the stove to let it simmer a bit longer...
[Addendum: I'd turned off the burner, but let the tongue sit in hot water for appx an add'l 20 minutes. You definitely *don't* want to overcook it, or it'll get tough and gross!]
I did slice a hunk or two off of it - and it tastes GREAT!
Although, personally, I am more "familiar" with Beef Tongue as cold-cuts/lunch-meat. I'm anxious to put it in the fridge, then thin-slice it with my Deli-Slicer tomorrow. I'm *sure* it'll make deeeeeee-licious sandwiches tomorrow!
Okay, that's it from my world! Hope I haven't grossed anyone out TOO badly!!!
...it's so damned ironic sometimes!
Okay, Two (long-winded) Blurbs - then I'll be on my way!
1 - Okay, this is less "Irony" than "Adding Insult to Injury:"
So, after yesterday's run-the-truck-thru-the-car-wash-with-a-full-bladder debacle (No, I didn't wet myself! Thankyouverymuch!!!)... And - BTW - this wasn't the CHEAPEST Wash they offered - Ohhhh nooo! This was the $9.00 "Touchless" Wash option, with Bottom-Blast, and Wheel-Wash, and Clearcoat Crap, and Blow-Job, and Whatever...
Well, I walked out to the truck this morning and it looks even WORSE than it did before I ran it through yesterday!!! Whatever Ultra-Premium Clearcoat Whatchamacallit Krep they sprayed on it seems to dry as WHITE spots. I've got a damned polka-dotted black truck now!!!
2 - This one falls under the "Irony" Category:
So DH is in Deutschland right now. Berlin, to be precise. And he had a little bit of free time today (he flies home tomorrow), so I'd asked him to run to the grocery store and pick up a hunk of Raclette Cheese (something I've not been able to find around here - and even if I could, I doubt it'd be as good as the Real Deal). Raclette is a semi-firm cheese from Switzerland (that smells like old people's feet!!!) and it's really tasty when melted and poured over "other stuff."
We actually have a Raclette Grill and it makes for good "Dinner Party Fare." More on Raclette (it's a cheese, as well as a style of meal) here - if you're interested...
Then I got to thinking... Ooooh, something else I absolutely CANNOT find around here (and this is gonna sound Super-Gross to some, I'm sure!) is Beef Tongue - which is, like, a Bavarian delicacy.
Now bear in mind that my dad was stationed in Germany during WWII - and he had a definite fondness for German Food. Some of it was pretty weird, I'll admit. But since I grew-up eating this stuff, it doesn't seem strange to me, at all (Now my mom and sister would have *nothing* to do with most of his bizarre culinary creations! But I loved it! - Guess that's why I was always "Daddy's Girl!")
Now this was "back in the day" when Delicatessens were small, independent shops with all kinds of meats and cheeses and whatnot (and grocery stores carried mainly Oscar Mayer ham, bologna, Head-Cheese [ICK!] and maybe turkey!). I also have a vague recollection of standalone Butcher-Shops as well! (Heck, I even remember the clink-clink sound of the Milkman delivering BOTTLES of milk - to our house, even! Okay, *now* I'm showing my age!!!)
(Requisite Digression: "Gather 'round, kiddies... Let me tell you about the Old Days when you could pull into the
Gas Service Station ["DING-DING!"] and 3-4 neatly-dressed guys would appear to fill your tank, wash your windshield, put air in your tires, check under the hood, ANNNNND you could "Fillerup with Ethyl" for less than five bucks!")
("No-No-NOOO! I *don't* have Dementia or Alzheimers! It *really* was that way!!! Go rent 'Back To The Future!' You'll see!!!")
...Nowaways, all of that has been absorbed into the local Mega-Grocery-Store. And the Grocery Stores cater to, well, the General Public - most of whom would think "Beef Tongue?!! Ewwwww!!!"
The last time I saw beef tongue offered was at a rinky-dink little New York Style Deli up in San Rafael (which is a HELLUVA long drive from here!).
Anyway, I shot-off an email to Rog last night - unsure of whether he'd get it in time (Berlin is 9 hours ahead). Then I realized he probably couldn't just walk into the local grocery store and ask for "Beef Tongue" - I needed the proper German words.
I tried Babelfish but couldn't come up with the right translation. I ended up calling our local German Restaurant, Teske's, and asked if there was anyone who would translate it for me! Sho 'nuff, they had a german-speaking waitress who gave me the translation and even spelled it out for me!
"Rinderzunge, geräuchert" is smoked beef tongue, if anybody cares!
Well, we exchanged a few emails, and Rog made his way to the grocery store. He found the cheese, then proceeded to the meat counter. Well, the lady at the meat counter didn't speak a word of English! He told her what he wanted, and he was able to discern that they didn't have it - but couldn't tell what else she was saying! Luckily, there was an Old Hippie at the store (Rog is an Old Hippie Magnet!), who did Sprechen Sie Englisch and Deutsch and was able to convey that Rog would have to go to the Butcher Shop across the street.
In the meantime, the question arose about whether or not Rog could actually bring a meat product back into the states!
He chose not to get the meat which - as I discovered @ 3:00am - is a prohibited item anyway! ("Das ist verboten!") So I emailed him back and agreed that it was "just as well" that he didn't get it.
So this morning I started Googling - trying to determine if there's any way to find/order a beef tongue. The "key-word" seemed to be to Google "Smoked Beef Tongue" (I'd Googled "Beef Tongue" in the past and really didn't have much luck). But when I added the word "Smoked" - I got a hit! Found a place, Bavaria Sausage, in Wisconsin that sells all kinds of Bavarian Fare and *does* carry Beef Tongue (Yay!). So I went ahead and ordered one...
At this point, I'm really, really CRAVING beef tongue! So I'm good now. Just have to wait for FedEx to deliver it (hopefully sometime next week).
* * * * *
Yeah, well Guess What?!! I went to the "higher-end" Grocery Store this morning: Nob Hill (it's the only store that carries Hood Calorie-Countdown [Low-Carb] Milk). Normally, I'd just get one or two things there, then do the bulk of my shopping at Lucky ("The Low Price Leader!") - but it's Saturday, and I didn't want to deal with the crowds.
Sooooo annnnnyywwaaaaaaaayyyyy.. I'm wandering through the meat section, right? What do I spy in the Bizarro-Organ-Meat Section (next to the liver, and tripe and Gawd-knows what else)???
Gawd-Damn!!! They had one lonely fresh Beef Tongue!
Swear-to-GAWD I have NEVER seen that carried at ANY of the stores around here!!
Well, into my cart it went!
So now I gotta hit Google again and figure out how to cook this monstrosity!!!
Too friggin' funny if you ask me!
Anyhooo... I'll post the results after I satiate my Beef Tongue Jones!
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm takin' tomorrow off to run some errands, get my hair touched up, and probably putter around in the yard for a few hours.
I'd started hacking-down some of the cannas a few days ago. I normally use an ancient pair of K-Mart Hedge Clippers (the old fashioned "chop-chop" monster-scissors variety). But with the quantity of stuff that I have to hack down, that really wasn't the most productive tool...
So, while thumbing through the Sportsmans Guide Catalog, I spied a machete for a decent price. "Heeeeyyyyyy!!! That could work!" I could don my fedora and hack-and-slash my way through the jungle, Indiana Jones Style, right?
Welllllll... For twenty bucks, I shouldn't have had my hopes set *too* high! But the item description clearly said stuff like: "Whack! Clear foliage with a single swipe!" and "fine razor's edge with "toothy" serrated saw on top."
Okay, they were right about the toothy serrated saw (which I haven't tried b/c I've already got a good pruning saw). But the "fine razor's edge" is cerainly open to debate!
"Well, maybe if I whack REAL HARD..."
Nada! Not even on wimpy half-dead cannas - which are just fleshy-stemmed plants, maybe 1" in diameter.
At first, I was worried "What if I slip and hit my leg?" - and envisioned myself with some gaping, gushing leg-wound. HA!!! This thing wouldn't cut warm butter!!!
I wouldn't even attempt to cut anything woody with this thing. It'd probably bounce-back and I'd end up giving myself a concussion!
I have an ePal whose S/O is into knives, so I've sent off an inquiry. What little Googling I've done seems to indicate that inexpensive machetes aren't worth the effort to even TRY to sharpen. :::sigh::: I'll hope for a better answer than the one I'm expecting to get!
So I suspect I'll be doing LOTS of deep-knee-bends and hacking away - ever so slowly - with our antique hedge clippers tomorrow...
But once it's done, it's done! (At least for THIS season!)
Then, if my energy holds out, I'll probably whip out the cordless drill and jigsaw - and think about building my Self-Contained Planters. Then maybe rummage through the shed and try to retrieve my Jiffy Peat Pellets so I can start my tomato and pumpkin seeds in the bathroom.
It's supposed to be 69* and sunny tomorrow - so it'll feel good to get outside!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
* * * * *
Okay, DH is out of town again.
And the weather is starting to turn NICE again (Ooops - Not Good!!!). It's still a tad chilly for full-on gardening (although I do still have more cannas to chop down - and TONS of weeds to pull!).
It's also too early to start any serious planting b/c nighttime temps are still dipping into the 30's. But that doesn't stop me from "planning" next year's garden! (Damn those seed catalogs!!!)
I've already ordered a buttload of seeds from TomatoFest. I've never actually ordered from them before, but they're somewhat "local" so I'm hopeful that the varieties they grow/sell will do well here. I'll start the seedlings in the bathroom window-sill using 3 Mini Jiffy Greenhouse thingies (with Peat-pellets - I bought about a bazillion pellets off of eBay a few years ago!). I've had "so-so" success with them in the past (they don't transplant SUPER-well, unfortunately).
I'll also start some of them in my hydroponic Mega-Garden. The plants I started hydroponically, last year, did *not* transplant-to-dirt well. But the plants that I left in there (roasting in the greenhouse, all summer long) did EXTRAORDINARILY well. Verrrrry prolific producers - especially when you consider that I'd planted them in 16 oz plastic drinking cups (and never potted-them-up)! I had a TON of tomatoes - but I have to admit that the dirt-grown 'maters did taste a lot better than the hydro-grown...
And I'll undoubtedly end-up making a trek to Ben Lomond at some point, this spring. Love Apple Farm grows/sells a wide variety of SUPER-COOL tomato plants. And, toward the end of early-spring, they generally have a Seedling Sale.
I've tried other growing experiments:
One was making a planter out of a 2 liter soda bottle. Topper's Place has the instructions for that (Note: I used a drill for making the holes - rather than a soldering iron - either way would work, though!). Might be a fun project for any gardening moms with wannabee-gardener kids, actually (Gardening+Recycling=About-As-"Green"-As-You-Can-Get!). The pop-bottle planters were actually good for starting seedlings (for later transplant), and I did manage to keep one Micro-Tom tomato alive, in the soda bottle for most of the season (But Micro-Tom Tomatoes are itsy-bitsy-small!). IMHO, I didn't think it was one of my more successful experiments. Still, it's a good "Green" thing to do - and it really *did* work well for starting seedlings (I didn't have any deaths from transplant shock, anyway).
One Utter-Failure (for me, anyway) was the Topsy-Turvy tomato planter. I'd planted yellow cherry tomatoes in that and it did grow - but it was verrrrry leggy (in spite of being in a very sunny, very hot part of the yard). Watering it was kind of a pain b/c I had it hanging pretty high-up (and you need a STRONG hanger for it - once you water the plant, it's verrrry heavy!). I did get quite a few tomatoes from it (although the dogs probably ate the majority of them!). But overall, I really wasn't impressed. But that's just me! Maybe I just had lousy luck!
(And yes, I'm sure I'll "try it again" this year!)
I would *never* discourage ANYONE from trying New Things in their garden!
Soooooo... Along those lines....
Paul James, The Gardener Guy, is My Hero! He's a bigtime organic gardener who hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma. His show, Gardening By the Yard, is on HGTV - and it really is one of my favorite shows! It used to be on every Saturday and Sunday morning - and that's how I'd start my weekends: Plant my @$$ in the recliner with a cup of coffee, watch Paul James, then get "inspired" to go toil in the yard. Even Rog knew better than to try to talk to me while Paul James was on! "You got somethin' to say - you'd best wait 'til the next commercial break, Bucko!!!"
Well, friggin' HGTV, in it's infinite wisdom, keeps changing their format, and shuffling shows around - to the point where I almost never watch that channel anymore! They moved GBTY to friggin' 7:30am EST on Sunday mornings (Yes kids, that's 4:30am, Pacific!). Now I think it's on @ 4:30am Sunday, and 4:00am Tuesday - or something like that. Of course, they never ANNOUNCE the change, or anything. The only way I find out about it is when I fire up the DVR (Yes, Rog - bless-his-heart - has set the DVR to record "My Show!"), and see that GBTY didn't get recorded (@#$%!!!!).
Ya know - I don't even care that 70% of the episodes are re-runs - I GOTTA have my Paul James Fix!!!
Sooooo Anyhoooooooooo (Yes, I digress!)..........................
A couple-three years ago, Paul featured a Self-Contained Tomato-Planter System. Even though, admittedly, he's not a huge tomato fan. Details of the show are here (I reluctantly post a link to HGTV's site! I'm p*ssed at them!). It looks like a pretty cool gizmo and, in fact, in a subsequent episode - during a Q&A segment - someone had asked how the tomato planter was working out and he said it was doing an awesome job (or words to that effect).
Wellllll... I got a flier for an Earthbox with a recent purchase. I looked into it and thought "Hmmmm..." But @ $29.95 + 7.95 shipping (apiece!), it seemed a bit steep. Not outrageous, but I'd like to experiment with several of them - and that could "add-up" real quick!
I really like the idea of the self-watering feature. I'd tried a few container-grown 'maters last year and my biggest problem was keeping them watered. The hottest, sunniest spot in our yard is on the [solid concrete] back patio (so I can't easily run the automatic sprinkler lines to them). And since it's sooooo sunny and hot, they tend to dry-out Super-fast!
So I "Let my fingers do the walking" - not thru the Yellow Pages, but good ol' Google! I found a couple of sites that offered-up DIY Plans for making your own "Self-Contained Gardening System."
This one has the best instructions - and I'm giving credit where credit is due! Josho's Home-Made Self-Contained Gardening System. I think I'm gonna build me one-a them!
This afternoon, I ran over to Big Lots and bought a 6 plastic bins [18-gallons] with lids. $5.00 each, less 20%-off coupon. And I stopped off at Home Depot and picked up 3 pond baskets for $2.47 apiece. I've already got 1/2" sprinkler tubing that I'll use in lieu of the PVC pipe. We've already got the jig-saw and drill, so I think I'm Good-To-Go. Added Bonus: Big Lots had 1.5 cubic-foot bags of soil for $5.00@ (again, less the 20% off coupon!). So, all-told, I think I'll end up with three COMPLETE planters for less than $20 apiece - "SCORE!!!"
I think I'm going to experiment with plastic mulch this year. Maybe plant one with red-plastic mulch; one with silver (I'll use a mylar "space blanket"); and one just using the plastic top drilled with holes.
So I'll be tinkering around with making my planters this week...
Another New Experiment this year will be growing a Giant Pumpkin. I bought some Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkin seeds. I don't think I'll be growing any Record-Breakers this year (since it seems I should have started soil-prep last year!), but it'll be fun to give it a try! Those, I'll grow "in the ground" over by the back gate. I've done nothing to improve the soil back there (yet!). But I plan to dump some compost and steer-manure, and create a kinda/sorta "raised" mound where I'll plant the pumpkin seeds and hope for the best...
Yep - I think "Spring Fever" is starting to kick-in now.... (But DAAAAAAMN, we need more rain!!!).
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Honestly, there hasn't been all that much going on lately. The last couple of weekends, we had extraordinarily nice weather. So I spent a fair amount of time puttering around in the yard. Posted about that, yes... And yes, I did manage to get all of the fruit trees pruned and Rog sprayed 'em with Dormant Oil/Fungicide stuff... Annnnd I started hacking down some of the dead Cannas (They'll come back - with a vengeance!)...
Plus, I managed to yank out all the dead plants from my raised veggie bed. I'm hoping to add a layer of leaves and compost and maybe another bag of topsoil and/or steer manure to that so it can get amended into the base before I start my next season's garden. The Hounds are eager to do their part to "help" with the cultivating. Of course, their idea of cultivating more closely resembles "excavating!" And now that the rains have started, that makes for a damned muddy mess! (Muddy Paws + Ugly '70s Brown Shag Carpet = Well... Not much!!!).
...Now why can't The Hounds can't exercise their "cultivating"/"excavating" abilities in the hard-packed CLAY soil elsewhere in the yard??? (Ohhhh, excuse me - I guess they prefer the nice "fluffy" soil in my raised bed - Of COURSE!!! Silly me - what WAS I thinking?!!)
I have installed new low-wire fencing/borders that *should* keep my Little Helpers OUT of the garden now!
* * * * *
Yeah, so... I *really* enjoyed the gorgeous weather we were having. Record-breaking temps into the mid 70's! And I did get more than a twisted thrill (or two) from calling Joisey Kathie on the phone (who was hunkered-down and doing her best to get through ice-storms!) - just to let her know I was heading out in Shorts-And-A-Tank-Top to go work in the yard... (I was definitely "feelin' the love" when she responded!)
...But it was a "bittersweet" kind of enjoyment - because we DESPERATELY need rain.
In fact, we took a little drive last weekend and stopped off at Chesbro Reservoir. Chesbro is one of several reservoirs that supply our drinking water. Located west of Morgan Hill, in the lovely Santa Cruz Mountains, it's the lake where we do most of our sailing b/c it's not TOO huge, but it *is* nice 'n deep with pretty decent winds (afternoons can get rather "challenging" even!), and it has a terrific launch ramp. (Long-winded boat-restoration project and sailing stories here - Warning: Sound!)
Well, we snapped a couple of photos w/Rog's Camera Phone and things are looking... Well, "dismal" would be a gross understatement! Chesbro was built back in the 50's when they dammed up a valley surrounding Llagas Creek. Evidently, there was a road and a bridge that went over Llagas Creek back then. I had no idea b/c it was at the BOTTOM of the reservoir, right?
Here's a shot from last weekend:
Note: Off to the right, I've indicated where the "normal" water level is! Yeah, Chesbro Reservoir is turning back into Llagas Creek! Not Good!
Just for point of reference, this page has a little bit of Chesbro's history, and also has an aerial view of the reservoir when it's full. Our bridge pic was taken at just-past the mid-way point "up" the lake. Right above where it widens and "juts-out" to the right, then starts to get narrower.
And here is a shot of the launch ramp:
I figure it's probably about 15' (or more) from the bottom of the paved part of ramp before you begin to hit "mud!" And I guess that floating dock doesn't stand a chance of floating anytime soon! Plus, you can clearly see the dam in the background and where the water-level is *supposed* to be!
So yeah, we definitely DO need rain. LOTS of it. In fact, the prognosticators are already shrieking "Drought!" "Water Rationing!" And, honestly, THAT would suck because my Garden sure as hell *ain't* a Xeriscape!
Fortunately, the nice weather has left us and we've had *some* rain. Although it's mostly been just piddling/wimpy showers, so far (Naturally - they hit when I need to commute to the office!) (And Californians can't drive fer sh*t in the rain!!!). We actually need some serious downpours, and a LOT more snow in the Sierras (since much of our water comes from Hetch Hetchy and the Sierra snow-melt).
So fingers are crossed for some more wet-weather!
Won't be long before I start b*tching and moaning about wanting to see the sun though!!! (I GARE-OWN-TEE!!!)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
And it's just plain "dangerous territory!"
Nevertheless, it's no big secret that I tend to lean toward the left-end of the spectrum. Although, by San Francisco Bay Area Standards, I'm actually kinda "Conservative." But many folks in the South would probably consider me a complete Left-Wing-Nutcase...
In any event, I decided to work from home today, so I could catch the Inauguration on TV.
Pretty damned inspiring, if you ask me. I even got a little choked up in spots (which is *definitely* not ME!).
Barack's speech was Right On The Money and... [Must consult thesaurus!] Hmmm... Encouraging, Heartening, Motivating, Stirring (Stringing 'em all together is a bit over-the-top! So no!)
Well, Inspiring really is the best word, I think!
I just really, really hope he can lead us out of this mess! So far, I'm encouraged. Let's see what the coming weeks and months bring our way.....................................
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
And our "Green Bin" is packed full of branches and limbs. I still want to keep at it, but I may have to pile up the limbs (someplace?) in the meantime. Actually, we're pretty fortunate here in that they will scoop up green waste off the street, so maybe I'll just go dump the bin and hope "Code Enforcement" doesn't slap us with a ticket (b/c Gawd-Forbid - it's not Trash Day yet!).
Yeah, so I'm about to head out and start hacking away at the Plum Trees. Or at least one of 'em!
Both of the plums are *very* healthy with tons of new growth every year. So they're gonna be a pretty big job. Yep - that'll be a "One-At-A-Time" chore!
* * * * *
Man, then I gotta tackle the raised Veggie Bed. HA! I'd deluded myself into thinking I could have cool season crops and I planted a couple of cabbages, some radishes, onion sets, garlic bulbs, and carrots. Sounds nice, right?
Yeah - and with the Wonder Weiner-Dogs - we don't have problems with gophers, rabbits, or other small critters.
What I have trouble with is the fact that the Wonder Weiners fancy themselves vegetarians!!!
Yep, over the course of the last couple of months, my little Quadrupeds have positively decimated my Winter Garden!!! I've got little trenches where my root veggies were, and little craters where my cabbages lived! Grrrrrr!!!
Funny, they really don't mess with my Summer Garden (although they have snagged their share of tomatoes - but there's enough of 'em that it doesn't bother me all that much!). I think it's because - during summer - the dogs have a lot more Supervision (since we're outside all the time!). So in winter, they're free to forage madly, I guess.
It still p*sses me off!!!
Innocent? I think NOT!!!
So - after the trees are pruned, I'll rip out what's left of the veggie garden and toss it in the compost bin. I bought newer wire fencing - where the wires are closer together. Hopefully the sneaky little buggers won't be able to get in there!!!
Okay, well, I'm off to chop down some trees!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
(Sorry - couldn't resist!)
* * * * *
Okay, this is the time of year when I'm not necessarily "happy" about the number of fruit trees we've amassed in our "Backyard Orchard!"
Yep - It's PRUNING SEASON! Which means I get to play with one of my Christmas Presents: Santa-Rog brought me a pair of Felco-21 loppers (Santa-Rog is Cool!).
Actually, I may be a little late tackling that chore (I know we're *way* late on the spraying schedule - we were supposed to have hit 'em with Dormant Oil at EO November, December *and* January! (okay - not too late for the January spraying at least!).
So yeah, we've got 2 peach trees, 2 plums, an espaliered apple (with 6 different varieties of apple grafted onto it), and a cherry tree (2 different varieties there).
When I moved in, Rog had one peach tree and one dead pear tree.
Rog - who is *not* a gardener and does not have "Farming Genes" (My mom grew up on a sugar-beet farm. And my Dad was *big* into growing veggies - especially tomatoes - when I was growing up). I definitely inherited the Gardening Gene and I'm pleased to say that I *do* have a bit of a green thumb!
But I digress...
So when Rog moved into the house, he thought it would be nice to have fruit trees so he paid someone to dig holes and plant the 2 trees. Evidently, he figured that nature would take over from there...
By the time I came on the scene, the pear tree was stone-dead (it just gets too cold here). And the peach tree had NEVER seen a pair of pruning shears! It was completely out-of-control! It was probably about 12' wide and - at the time - probably at least as tall. It was also a very prolific producer of super-delicious, super-sloppy-juicy [but small-ish] fruit! I did attempt to tackle the pruning and get the tree back under control. Bummer-part was: I didn't think it'd produce fruit on brand-new growth - so to hack it back too far would've meant no fruit for the season. So I pruned it as aggressively as I dared - while still leaving enough prior-year's-growth to ensure fruit for the season...
Well, it continued to produce TONS of fruit. And, in fact, in the early-spring, I'd gotten into the habit of culling some of the baby fruit so we'd have fewer, but larger peaches. Rog came out and saw me doing that (I think this was a couple-three years ago) and told me to stop it! So I did.
Well, later that season, the quantity and weight of the fruit became more than the tree could support. The main trunk broke - about 1/3-1/2 of the way down - and we lost almost half of the tree! I did saw off the trunk, above the break - but I couldn't cut too much off or it surely would have died. Consequently, we were left with a vertical crack in the main trunk. I thought, for sure, that "his" tree was a Goner. There was *lots* of remedial pruning that winter! But still, I couldn't cut back *below* the crack b/c that would have taken away too much of the tree and it likely would have perished (Generally speaking, I think you don't want to take off more than 1/3 of the top-growth when you prune).
So, the following spring, I bought a second peach tree (white peach, early-bearer - which worked out well, actually!). I figured it'd be best to have another peach-tree on standby - in case Roger's tree gave up the ghost. In the meantime, it's been very nice because we now have TWO peach harvests! One in early-to mid-July and one in mid- to late-August! Mmmmmmm!
Anyway, the original peach tree is still hangin' in there, but I can see that's it's pretty sick. I had to remove lots of dead (and dying) branches this year. I'm also trying to cut back the "width" somewhat (it's still about 12-13' wide!) because the branches really can't support the weight of the fruit and I have to keep propping 'em up with chunks of wood/old pitchforks/tie the branches to upper limbs, etc... I'm doing some really serious pruning this year and *hoping* we can save the tree - even if we have to sacrifice a season's worth of fruit. But I'm not overly optimistic (there really were lots of dead MAJOR branches).
* * * * *
Ahhhhhh... The Joys of "Advancing Maturity!" There was a time - not that long ago - when I could've tackled pruning ALL of the trees, AND started hacking back some of the other winter-dead plants in ONE DAY. That's no longer the case, unfortunately.
I did manage to prune the ONE tree today - and I'm telling myself "That's Okay!" Hopefully I'll find some free-time in the afternoons this week and I'll tackle the rest of 'em One-At-A-Time. White-Peach is next. Then the Plums (Santa Rosa and Satsuma - The Satsuma is orgasmically deeee-lish! And they both make AWESOME jam!). Cherry and Apple oughtta be pretty quick since they're both relatively small trees.
I gotta say - the weather was absolutely PERFECT for yard-work today. Mid- to upper-60's and sunny! Perfect "shorts and tank-top weather!" And I'm "Self-heating" so even it if was a little cool - my own @#$% metabolism would take care of any chill (provided I wasn't already coated in sweat, of course - Grrrr!!!).
Actually, it was fine. And it really felt good to get outside for a couple of hours today!
Unnnnfortunately - much as I'd like to get "Spring Fever" - I know we need TONS more rain, so let's hope we get some!
Just let me finish the Winter Garden Chores first!!! =-D
Saturday, January 10, 2009
* * * * *
Well........ So far, So good!
I think I'm mostly past the "Carbo Detox" stage and I no longer feel like a Snail on Quaaludes.
In fact, dare-I-say-it? I think I actually have a little more energy now!
I've even been taking the stairs at work - rather than the elevator! (Although it's not like I work on the 50th floor or anything - but still!).
The Biggest, Most-Dramatic Improvements have been:
- No more Bolus [Novolog] Insulin (and, in fact, I'm reducing the Basal in small increments)
- Blood Sugar has improved DRAMATICALLY.
(Just a few weeks ago - I was thrilled when FBG was under 140 - seriously! 140 was my threshold! Now I get p*ssed when it's over 110! And that's just in the last week or so!)
I can't find where I was tracking my BG#'s a year ago (I'm sure I was - I just can't find it!), but I was able to go back to Feb 1, 2008 and see that, on that day, my FBG was 211. Two-Hundred-Eleven!!! And it would consistently go UP from there!
I won't recount the veritable cornucopia of pharmaceuticals I've gone through in the past year - what with my doctors "practicing" medicine on me - other than to note that when we FINALLY started insulin, things got even worse! March's FBG Average was a whopping 211! The High was 264! Eeeeek!
I was a Freaking Zombie back then. Seriously! I couldn't even get out of bed in the morning!
So, I'm sure any Diabetic Readers will agree: For me to have finally achieved FBG's in 80-90's is Abso-Freaking-Lutely Fan-F**king-Tastic!
Also, since starting "Militant LC" my BG swings have decreased significantly!
Just for grins, I went back thru my spreadsheets for part-of-December and all-of January to see what the High/Low Ranges were, by day (Yes, I'm a Geek! Remember, I'm a "Systems Analyst" so I do have a little bit of "Anal" in me!). December High-Low swings were pretty dramatic - sometimes as much as 160 points in a day! From a low of 66 to a high of 226 - (Although that *was* on Christmas Day! But that wasn't too far out-of-the-ballpark for me). Actually, the "average daily swings" seemed to hover around 80-100 points a day back in December.
Since starting Low-Carb, the swings have mostly been under 40 (although I've had a couple of "indiscretions" and my numbers reflect that)
I've also had one Hypo since going back to LC. So I'm in the process of dialing back the Basal in "Baby Steps." My Basal is Humulin R U500 which is 5x the strength of regular insulin. In fact, it's supposed to require special (tuberculin) syringes. But those are hard to come by, so my Endo has "converted" the Rx so it can be used with normal syringes. In any event, I take the U500 3x/day. And I'm in the process of reducing the dose by 1 unit (equivalent to 5 units) for each dose. Presently I'm at 22u 3x/day (equivalent to 330u/day). I'm hoping I can eventually cut back to 15u 3x/day. Still much higher than the "average diabetic" - but I'm not your average diabetic, unfortunately!
(Bear in mind that - when I was at my worst - I was taking 25u of the U500 PLUS 60-100u/day+ of Novolog. Yes kids, that's equivalent to almost 500u of insulin PER DAY [and only maintaining "marginally" good Blood Sugars at the time @ appx 140]. My short-term goal of 15u of U500 3x/day would put me at the equivalent of 225u/day. And that's about as low as I think I can go - at least until I start to lose some SIGNIFICANT weight!)
Nevertheless, this is a HUGE improvement. My numbers are better and I feel better!!!
Sounds like a "Win-Win" to me! I just need to stick to it!
* * * * *
Much as I'd like to report a "Win-Win-Win," unfortunately, the weight loss doesn't seem to be happening - yet. Of course, since I'm still weaning myself off of carbs - I've allowed myself a bit more "freedom" in the quantity of food I'm eating - as long as it's "Legal" and Low-Carb. I think once Ketosis fully kicks-in, I should reach a point where I don't have much hunger and the intake will decrease naturally (Although I should note: I'm not "stuffing my face" non-stop! But some of my food choices are pretty damned heavy in fat and calories. Like fried hamburger, eggs, bacon, cheese, etc. Very "filling" but not very kind to the waistline, unfortunately!).
And I haven't been *quite* as Militant as I'd hoped. Maintaining CHO intake under 20g is pretty damned challenging. I've actually stayed more in the 20-30g range (with a couple of blips into the 50-60g range - and yes, I "feel it" when that happens - I feel hungover the next day!)
Plus, I think that ultimately the quantity of insulin I'm taking is going to prevent any dramatic weight loss (at least the Humulin R seems to be less-likely to pack-on the pounds - as compared to the Analogs). I'm *hoping* that, as the Basal decreases, and I stick to LC a bit longer, maybe the weight loss will follow.
Jenny did make a good point on her site about how Metformin may prevent the "dramatic" inital weight loss that most Atkins Dieters experience - so I'm clinging to that little factoid and doing my damndest not to get discouraged. Unfortunately, I can't find exactly *where* she posted it - but it's somewhere on her Blood Sugar 101 Site!
(She's published a book that is a definite Must-Read - even if you're not diabetic. If you're "predisposed" toward Diabetes [as I was - "Thanks, Mom!"] you MUST buy it - or at least read through her site! I *really* wish I had!!!)
At least I haven't GAINED any weight. Not even through the Holidays (and, in my mind, not GAINING weight thru the Holidays is *almost* like Losing weight!)! I'm actually still at my "Pre-Cruise" weight (Cruise was in October - and yes I *did* gain weight that week!) (And promptly lost it once I got home!).
I'm still about 100# heavier than I should be (actually, probably more than that), so I've got a looooooooong haul ahead of me...
FWIW: *Most* of that 100# took up residence AFTER the Diabetes Diagnosis (12/27/07). All those f**kin' drugs were really messing with me - BADLY (The sulfonyureas were simply AWFUL - and the initial experimentation with various analog insulins were equally bad! If not WORSE!) (Analogs=Bad for Weight Loss. That's been MY experience, anyway - YMMV).
And, to top it off, when you're THIS heavy AND you feel like a Snail on 'Ludes... Well, the very idea of "Exercise" pretty-much goes out the window. Merely getting out of bed in the morning was more "exercise" than I could bear, sometimes!
* * * * *
So, that said, I am THRILLED to have my BG#'s "Under Control" (I can legitimately say that now!) (Did I mention that my last A1C in November was 6.2??? Okay, I'm not in the "5% Club" YET - but it's still pretty damned good when you consider that my Starting A1C, last year, was over 11!!!) and I'm DOUBLY-THRILLED that I have some energy.
No, I'm not signing up for the Boston Marathon or anything, but I'm doing the next-best-thing: I'm going to go out to my garden and start tackling my Winter-Maintenance Chores this weekend. I intend to prune and spray the fruit trees and start chopping back much of the now-dead Cannas...
That may not *sound* like much - but it's a start!
Okay, signing off for now.......
Monday, January 5, 2009
And this is the week that The World returns to Work.
My job is such that, normally, the very last couple of weeks of the year are D-E-A-D. All of my New-Year Implementations are *supposed* to be complete and I get a couple weeks of downtime to file away last year's stuff.
This year, unfortunately, I didn't get that "break" (too many clients waited 'til the Last Minute to get their implementations rolling). And now things are back in full-swing again
Add to it, the Christmas Cold/Flu on top of the General Holiday Madness... And the fact that DH's company was on shut-down - which meant he was here 24/7 for a week-and-a-half (Love him dearly - don't get me wrong - but there is NO ONE on the PLANET that I want to be with 24/7! Not even MYSELF!!!)...
I was pretty much reaching the end of my rope (Stress-wise!).
Yep - I'm pretty-much ready to go back to my normal routine!
So today was a WAH (Work-At-Home) Day, and Rog went into the office. I suspect many of my clients are slogging through emails and generally getting back-into the daily grind. Although (lucky me!) I did have three conference calls scheduled today. I got through 'em, but all I could think about was how much I enjoyed having the house All To Myself!!!
Even the dogs settled back into their normal routine: sleeping in the guest-room most of the day - as opposed to playing the "Let-Me-In/Let-Me-Out" Game 542,968 times a day!!! (Pandemonium reigns supreme when Papa's Home!).
I did manage to squeeze out a few loads of laundry; Cleaned the kitchen; Started a batch o' Smokey Pork Roast... And - Get This! - I vaccuumed up the Christmas-Tree-Poop and started putting the living room back together!
Yes, vaccuuming - for me - is a Big Freakin' Deal!
June Cleaver, I ain't! (That's the Understatement of the Year!).
Funny Story there: When I first met Roger, he had a maid who would come in once a month to tackle the dusting, vaccuuming, toilet-scrubbing, yada-yada stuff. He *did* do his own laundry back then (although you'd never guess that now - based on the whining I hear when he's about to run out of clean undies: "I'm gonna hafta go COMMANDO!!!"). Well, when I first moved in, I started tackling some of the light-duty household chores. First was laundry (And yes, I regret that decision - to this day!!!). And I'd do a light wipe-down of the kitchen couple-three times a day. And, over time, I became the Dishwasher Fairy who made the dishes magically load themselves into the dishwasher - and also caused them to levitate and make their way back into the cupboards... (To be fair - I *did* pretty-much take over the kitchen when I started bringing in matching dishes and flatware and cutlery that actually *cut,* and cookware that didn't flake-off Teflon into our food...).
Well, a short while after I'd moved in - but before Rog began to fully grasp the concept of learning how to express one's desires in a manner that was inoffensive to the recipient (This is an ongoing lesson, by the way. Rog is a notorious "blurter" and doesn't always - ummm - THINK before he speaks!). He was still in Kindergarten as far as that lesson goes, but I *do* applaud his efforts in this particular instance!
Anyway, after I'd moved in, Rog decided to try to broach the subject of Aida, the maid, and was there any way that I would be his Domestic Goddess/Dream-Come-True, right?! It's kinda hard to relay verbally b/c there were lots of non-verbal messages going on in this exchange. But the conversation went something along the lines of this:
"Well, I have a maid, Aida, who comes in once a month..."
"Really? That's nice." I replied.
"And, well...." [I can just tell that he's DYING for me to jump in and say "Oh no, Dear - *I'll* take care of the house!"] "Well, there's two of us here, now..." [Pregnant pause]
"Uh huh." [I have mastered the Art of "Denseness," where appropriate"]
"Well. With two of us here, things get a little messier now." [Pause, yet again... His mind is ticking away and he's realizing that things aren't going as planned!]
"Uh huh." [Mama didn't raise no fool!]
"Well, I think I'll have Aida start coming in every three weeks instead..." [Good Answer!!!]
So yeah, we still have Aida take care of the scubby-vaccuming-dusting chores. Yeah, I work-at-home most of the time - but the keyword there is "WORK." Yes, I have a fulltime JOB! Yeah, I can squeeze in laundry while I'm on conference calls and whatnot - but I definitely don't have the time for full-on Housekeeping (and, quite frankly, I suck at it anyway!!!) (Just ask my mom!!!). But since Aida's not gonna be here for a couple more weeks, I figured I'd break down and vaccuum the living room :::GASP!:::
So that was MY excitement for the day! Well that and making my pork roast.
* * * * *
Here, I'll even share the recipe (Straight from my Rival Crock-Pot Booklet)!
The recipe is actually for "Hickory Smoked Brisket" - but I use it for Pulled-Pork instead.
3-4 lb Beef Brisket [or Pork Shoulder or Butt Roast]
1/4 cup Liquid Smoke [Hickory or Mesquite - whatever you prefer]
1/2 tsp Celery Salt
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
Place meat on a large sheet of aluminum foil. If there's a fatty-side, make sure the fatty side is on top (you want the fat to drip-down and cook *into* the meat to keep it tender).
Sprinkle with seasonings and pour liquid smoke on top. Wrap the foil around the meat, seal it up and put it in the Crock-Pot. Cook on low 8-12 hours, or High 4-6 hours.
I would think that if you were doing brisket (I never have!), you'd stick to the directions and when it was all done, you'd remove the roast. Slice and serve warm with juices over each slice.
So here's where I get all creative:
I used 3 cloves of fresh, minced garlic and 4 Tbs onion flakes (in lieu of the powdered stuff). And tossed in a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary (discard before serving). Also, about halfway thru the cooking, I added chopped fresh onion (about half of a large onion). I also added cooked bacon pieces.
I generally overcook the hell out of it, til the meat falls apart. Today's roast was almost 6 lbs (and had to be squished forcibly, into my 5 quart crock-pot) so I'm cooking on High for 8-10 hours [it ended up taking 9 hours]. Once it reaches the "starting to fall apart" stage, I'll remove the foil and dump the roast in the crock pot. If it's too liquid/fatty, I'll use a turkey baster to suck out the excess (set aside, in a bowl, in case I need to add it back in)
Once it really starts to fall apart, I'll grab a knife and a fork and pull it apart into little chunks. Dig out and discard the bone (if applicable). Then I usually pour-in tons of BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's Hot 'n Spicy mixed, half-n-half, with K.C. Masterpiece Hickory or Mesquite) and let it simmer for another hour. Makes AWESOME pulled-pork sandwiches!!!
This time, since I'm on my Low-Carb Kick, I won't cook it with BBQ sauce (might add a little drizzle on top, later).
Or - one recipe I'm dying to try (haven't, yet!) can be found on Jenny's Blood Sugar 101 page: Indispensable Low Carb Treats.
The roast is actually quite tasty - even without the BBQ sauce!
Oh, and for a variation on that whole recipe: I've done something similar to make Hawaiian Kahlua Pork. In order to nearly-duplicate the Hawaiian (cooked-in-a-pit) flavor, you need to wrap the roast in (Banana, Canna or Ti) leaves *inside* of the foil and sprinkle it generously with Sea-Salt and Liquid Smoke (Remove the leaves when you take the roast out of the foil).
Optional - you can also add 2 cans of spinach during the last 2 hours of cooking (I've not tried the spinach option myself - so can't comment on it!).
I made Crock-Pot Kahlua Pork, as a side dish, for a BBQ this past summer and got RAVE reviews (from Native Island People and everything!!!)
Anyway, it's deeee-lish and actually pretty easy to make if you're into the Crock-Pot Thing...
* * * * *
Regarding Militant Low-Carbing: I did GREAT the first day. But I'd forgotten that Rog set us up with a lunch-date on Saturday. A former colleague of his, Jerry, got hit HARD with the Bubble-Bust and is currently jobless and homeless. So we took him out to lunch. We went out for BBQ Ribs - but I kinda broke the Militant Low-Carb rule (I suspect Armadillo Willie's Sauce is NOT low-carb!).
I jumped back on the wagon yesterday, but I need to get thru the Three Solid Days of Low-Carb to fully de-tox! I feel like a Zombie right now (Ugh!)
On the Plus Side: For the Militant Low-Carb Days, I've needed NO Bolus insulin AT ALL! And my BG#'s have remained pretty-damned flat (70-130, for the most part). Hell, I might even be able to dial-back on the Basal, at this rate!
* * * * *
DH is home now, so no more blogging now. I'll try to update later!