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Monday, November 30, 2009


I rode a couple laps up to Johnson Drive and over to Mastin waiting for the Trek Group to arrive tonight. Then, to my delighted surprise, we essentially did what I've been begging for ever since we went off Daylight Savings Time. We get back to Trek, I'm always 'Lets do another lap!'

Well, this time we got almost back to Trek and doubled back, added a leg on. It was a beautiful night for riding, upper 40s, not much wind, and that final descent down 55th made us all feel like cycling gods.

Then, after, the Dos Reales margarita: I think this is a sports energy drink. You get your vitamin C from the citrus, there's calories and salt, it puts back what the bike took out — with interest.

I ended up with 20 miles even (about 4.4 of that on my own), averaged 12.1 mph, topped out at 26.7. Can't think of a better way to spend a Monday evening.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pizza Land

After a 20 mile bike ride, who doesn't want to spend two hours in the kitchen, on his feet making three different pizzas?

I know, this is a universal desire, but I'll share with you anyway. Experimenting with dough recipes again, going back to a wetter dough, closer to Jill Santopietro's as far as the flour/water mix, but kneading longer and doing the fridge rise like Alton Brown does. Sort of following a 2 cups flour to 1 cup water recipe, adding a teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of wheat gluten, 3/4 teaspoon bread machine yeast, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and then kneading it for 15 minutes in the Kitchen Aid on high. My 'high' may not be what yours is, my Kitchen Aid is somewhere between 47 and 63 years old, doesn't crank like a new one would.

But to hand-stretch/toss the dough and get a thin crust with puffy handles, you've gotta develop the gluten big time. The dough I made this evening to replace what I used, I moved the knead time up to 20 minutes to see if I can't get an even stretchier dough.

Made an alfredo/prosciutto for Em, a sauceless pepperoni for Mo and for me...

I know, it's a rut if I always make the same pizza. But I mixed it up a little. Caramelized onions, fig, bacon, Gorgonzola and baby portobello mushrooms this time. See what I did? I added mushrooms so it's not the exact same pizza I keep making.

I asked Em if she thought it was possible to get sick of pizza, have it too often. She tried, but couldn't quite get her mind around the idea. Me either.

Chilly & Hilly

Really wish I could have done this yesterday or Friday instead. It was 45ºF when I set out this afternoon. A wee bit nipply.

Really a pretty good ride, 20.3 miles, but it kills me that I get a four day weekend, with two really really good riding days weather-wise and they're the two days I don't have time to ride.

Went out to the end of 55th, climbed that booger of a hill up Albervan to get out of it. Once you go west of Rosehill on 55th, you're committed to some hill action no matter which way you turn.

Only saw one other cyclist the whole time I was out.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stuffed Pumpkin

I posted a Facebook comment that I was getting ready to stuff a pumpkin and a friend asked 'with what?'

Well, right off the bat, I'll ditch the shuck and jive and give you the recipe.

Stuffed Pumpkin

1 pie pumpkin (3 lbs or so)
About 10 oz. croutons*
3/4 stick butter
1 onion, chopped
About a dozen black mission figs, halved
1/2 cup cashews
6-8 oz. shredded Gruyère cheese
2 oz. crumbled Maytage Bleu cheese
1 cup chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. rubbed sage
1 tbsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste

Scrub the pumpkin, then hollow it out (set aside the seeds for roasting), getting all the stringy stuff out. Caramelize the onions in the butter in a skillet, adding the garlic and spices after the onions are almost totally transluscent, toss in a bowl with croutons, cashews, figs, 3/4 of the Gruyère and all the bleu cheese. Stuff it in the pumpkin, really packing it in. Slowly pour in the chicken broth (it'll take a while to percolate down into the pumpkin if you've stuffed it firmly enough). Pack the cap on the pumpkin and bake at 350ºF for 90 minutes; remove cap, top with remaining Gruyère and return to 350ºF oven for 30 minutes. If necessary, at the end of the 30 minutes, you can turn the broiler on for a few to brown the cheese a bit.

*I used a bag of 'cheese garlic' and a bag of 'seasoned,' though since you're adding seasonings anyway, if I'd found plain ones I probably would have used them.

This is very similar to the stuffed pumpkin I made last December from a recipe in the Kansas City Scar, but with some tweaks based on other stuffing recipes. The cashews and figs are an addition, and I used a bit more butter this time. I think the Scar's recipe called for Valdeón bleu cheese, but really, Maytag is a great cheese for this and about a fourth the cost. I think you could get away with substituting another sharp dry cheese for the Gruyère, if you were so inclined. I may on my next stuffed pumpkin (I have another stuffing recipe to try and another pumpkin to try it in).

Took this one to my Dad's for Thanksgiving (I know it's Saturday, big families have to schedule things creatively). My stuffed pumpkin seemed an exotic addition, but also seemed really popular once people tried it.

And it wasn't without stiff competition, my bro and his wife brought a corn souffle that was spectacular, my step-sister made a cheese and fruit thing that was delicious, it was a very lucky pot luck sort of deal.

Of course, I ate too much of everything and I'm paying for it now. Shouldn't have gone back for seconds...

Great fun with the family, too. Puzzles were broken out, as tradition dictated. Mo really got into one of them, a challenging 1000 piece, and for real she made more progress that me and my step-sister combined while her attention span lasted. Mo loves her a good puzzle.

Then we went to the Overland Park Arboretum for the Luminary Walk. Wow. I almost begged off on this part, but I'm so glad I didn't.

My camera isn't really the man for the job, and I didn't have a tripod, which led me to using stationary objects as ersatz monopods, but I never stop trying to get the shot even when it's impossible.

Friday, November 27, 2009


My friend Rachel is what you'd call a pomegranate booster. She loves the things, makes a point of eating at least one every day when they're in season.

I'm 40 years old and never ate a pomegranate in my life. I think the seeds may have been in a salad at a catered event one time, and I've had Orbit gum that was supposed to be 'Positively Pomegranate' but I'd never eaten the fruit.

Bought one a few weeks ago and it went soft before I got around to trying it. Bought a couple more today and didn't fart around, cut these puppys open and started digging out the seeds.

Em really loved getting the seeds out. So much so that she was ready to have me just start eating so she could play with the remaining fruit.

The seeds alone are good, but even better when mixed with plain yogurt. So I owe a big thanks to Rachel, it's a shame I made it halfway through a life expectancy without ever eating a pomegranate, and I think without her egging me on I might have made it all the way through ignorant of this earthly delight.

Happy Black Friday

Today would have been the day to ride my bike. Holy cow, it was short sleeve, no-need-for-a-jacket weather.

But I picked up the girls early for the weekend because the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster was working, and it didn't seem right to go get them and then immediately try to find someone to watch them while I went and rode.

Plus, there was business to attend to. Shopping, not for Christmas stuff, but for groceries. Going to my Dad's for Thanksgiving tomorrow and I wanted to take a stuffed pumpkin if possible. Lucked out, the Whole Paycheck Market has them. I think the canneries bought up all the pie pumpkins that normally make their way to the grocery store because of the shortage this year. But the certified organic stuff, they're not going to pay premium prices for pumpkins that go into their regular brand; and even if they tried it, I doubt there's enough certified organic pumpkins to make a difference in the shortage Libby and those guys are dealing with this year.

Whole Foods ain't cheap on anything, but their pumpkins aren't remarkably expensive either.

I got some Gruyère while I was there, the cheese the recipe in question calls for (well, it also calls for Valdeón bleu, I'm substituting some Maytag. I think I might throw some cashews, figs and baby portobellos into the mix this time, too.

After we got back from shopping, I noticed the cute young couple across the street was doing the leaves in their yard, and that except for them, me and one other neighbor are the last remaining stragglers on that front. I was a worse offender, too, because I haven't mowed the lawn since (I think) some time in August.

I really don't want a yard, but ignoring it hasn't made it go away so far. I got out the mower and chewed up the leaves a bit, conscripted the honyocks into getting the ones on the driveway into the yard so I could mulch them up, too. First time, I think, the whole decade I've lived at this address, that I got the leaves out of the driveway before spring.

And we put up our Christmas stuff. Em helped big time. Most of the pepper light strings I bought a couple years ago had gone dark. I'm not very patient when it comes to trying to isolate which light is keeping the whole gang from lighting up. It pisses me off they can't wire the lights some way so that when a bulb burns out, the rest of the string keeps glowing.

But for the most part, I buy lights that were cheap to begin with a week or two after Christmas when Wal-Mart just wants to be shut of the stuff. So a string of lights I paid 50¢ for two years ago, I don't mind (much) just chucking.

But the pepper lights were special, and all but one pepper swag had gone dormant. Thing is, they're just regular lights with soft plastic pepper covers. So Em stripped all the covers off the burnt out strips and put them on the strings of lights that work and voila.

Brought the tree up and put it together, and the girls had fun hanging all the ornaments on it. We even have a tree skirt this year, something I must have bought on an after-Christmas clearance last year because it was still in it's package.