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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sign of the Times

I think it's a pretty tiny fraction of the populace that's actually got to worry about gluten. But a larger percentage I think have been fooled into thinking that if it's gluten free it's naturally better for you.

I guess Jesus would want us to be inclusive both of people who are incredibly sensitive to gluten and people who imagine that gluten must be harmful if so many foods are boasting about being gluten free. So we have gluten-free communion.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Barney Aliss Plaza

I guess since I've lived in Kansas City my whole life, I should have parked in the 1,000-car garage below Barney Allis Plaza before, but I hadn't. I've parked in the Folly's parking garage when I've been to events at the Marriott. Elsewhere for things at Bartle, Municipal Auditorium, and so on.

Of course I've passed through the area by bike a few times, but I guess I'd never actually been up on Barney Allis Plaza proper, which is really just the roof to the aforementioned giant parking garage.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Return to the Moon

Took Mo back to Moon Marble by popular request.

We caught the end of the last marble-making demo, looked around a bit. She wanted a shark, but it was one you're supposed to put in water and let it grow over the course of days. I doubted she'd leave it alone or even let me submerge it to begin with so I said no.

My inner child, though, got a cute little die-cut model of an SR-71 spy plane.

Hummus is Yummus

I made two batches of this. They're both the same except the second one adds smallish green bell pepper, three Thai chili peppers and a Lunchbox Red pepper.

In a Kitchen-Aid food processor purée: 1 lemon 13.5 oz. canned drained chickpeas 1 tbps. minced garlic 1/4 cup tahini 1/4 cup olive oil 1 tsps salt 1/2 tsp. cumin A few twists of freshly ground black pepper

That's it. You could add black olives or pretty much any other savory flavor you enjoy to this. Basil, I suspect, would be good here, as would curry leaves, citrus zest, any number of other things.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Consensus KC Mental Health Forum

This was Corinna's brainchild a couple of years ago, kind of became her albatross more recently. I attended one of the planning meetings with her when I was off work after my surgery and it's astonishing anything can get done with such a large and diverse steering committee.

Secretary Sebelius was on hand, as were the mayors of KCK and KCMO, and various luminaries from local media outlets and whatnot.

And because of the nature of the topic (mental health), there was a very real risk the whole show would be about how fantastic pharmaceuticals are, how people should be accept their diagnoses as lifelong conditions requiring those fantastic drugs, and how maybe we should go back to the days of easy forced medication and involuntary committals just to see if it maybe knocks down the number of shooting rampages in our country.

Those messages were presented, of course, but recovery movement messages got heard, too, largely thanks to Corinna's relentless efforts.

She got to deliver part of the message herself, that full recovery is possible. After outlining her own experience of diagnoses, prescribed drugs, suicide attempts, shock treatments, she was like, 'So I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt.' At which point she started throwing some of the shirts I designed for her business out into the crowd. I didn't see Sebelius speak, but I hear she went for a half hour and I guarantee she didn't get the kind of reaction you get when you throw radical propaganda on t-shirts into a crowd that's partly already radicalized.

Mo had fun with the art wall, and with the snack bars along the edge of the ballroom, which were rich in lemonade, fruit and granola bars.

As far as those mass shootings go, people are often at pains to say that folks with mental health diagnoses are mostly harmless, but the thing is almost everyone at some point in their life is eligible for one of these if they get in the right doctor's offices when they're in the right situations. Could you reduce mass murders by locking up everyone who ever got diagnosed with something (including me)? Sure, I suppose you could but then you might have pretty good luck locking up everyone who's ever eaten at McDonald's—I'll bet you somewhere near 100% of all violent criminals have.

I guess you have to ask how strong the correlation between having a Big Mac Attack and going off with a 30-round magazine is.

I'm not really being all that facetious here. If you wanna lock up everyone who might have a touch of PTSD for the safety of everyone else, I have to wonder who's going to hold the key? Because we all have a touch of it.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Yeller Sauce

I had a lot of yellow tomatoes, so...

The KBX vine, a hybrid based on one of my faves, Kellogg's Breakfast, produced a ton of fruit last week, and I added some miscellaneous yellow tomatoes from other varieties, and my Sun Gold and whatnot to make a golden marinara sauce.

I bought some Sauvignon Blanc wine to use in the place of Chianti, even used yellow peppers for the heat (Yellow Pequin and Hungarian Yellow Wax). We'll see how much it darkens as it cooks down, and of course there was lots of home-grown fresh basil in there which might tend to make things green.

Golden Marinara

About 18 large yellow tomatoes (and a dozen or more small ones), about 2/3 of them pureed, 1/3 just diced
1/4 cup minced garlic
1-1/2 cups Sauvignon Blanc wine
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 large white onion, diced
4 fistfulls fresh basil
13 Yellow Pequin Peppers
1 Hungarian Yellow Wax Pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
Sauté onions in oil until translucent, combine in crock pot with every thing else and cook down on high with the lid off overnight.

I guess we'll also see how much heat those Yellow Pequin and Hungarian Yellow Wax contribute, too.


At first I worried that the basil I'd added would turn the golden sauce green. By morning, that was no longer a concern as the sauce had turned completely red. Orange-ish maybe, but red. I guess if I want to make a golden marinara I'll have to use a shorter cook time. As it is, I added mushrooms at about the 24 hour mark, grilled some chicken and boiled some rigatoni and called it dinner. The sauce was pretty darn hot, capsicum-wise, but quite delicious, much better than Marinara 1.0.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This Isn't a Story About Kickball

These pictures aren't even from this week. I had to work on a freelance project after the cardiac rehab I went to after working my regular job on Monday this week, so no time to carpe brewski and see a few friends.

I don't have a grand narrative about the week before when I did stop by Kickball on Roanoke. I humbly submit that these pictures tell the whole story, people play as hard as they feel like playing, or they don't play at all and hang out with good friends in the bleachers. Sounds kind of blah when I put it that way but as you can see, it's neat.

What's mainly on my mind this evening is gardening. I've been researching pepper varieties to grow for next year, possibly starting some from seed myself to get varieties that will scratch various itches. I want to grow very large bell peppers, lots of sweet salad peppers for pickling, too. Not so into the extra-hot stuff. Peter Peppers are fun for their visual impact, but capsicum is too cheaply had retail for me to bother growing much of anything hotter than Thai chili peppers and jalapeños. Those Thai peppers would be off the list, too, but one little bush yields so much and it dries so easily. I could skip a year or two and not run out of home grown crushed red pepper, so I might not even include those next year, but at least I never accidentally bite into a skinny little chili thinking it's going to be a mild salad pepper.

Aside from learning of pepper varieties such as Early Sunsation, Orange Blaze, Giant Marconi, Friggitello, Corno di Toro and Antohi, I've been taking mental notes for the tomato beds. I don't think I'll do 36 plants next year, not so much because that's been too many tomatoes, it's been about right for the most part, but because I want to grow more sweet peppers and something's gotta give. I might cut back to as few as 24 tomato plants to make room, that'd free up two beds for peppers. My general inclination is to grow more of everything every year, but I think we're reaching a sort of critical mass in our yard where there's no way to do that without dropping a crop or two. Now I'm even wanting to experiment with heirloom corn, and corn takes some room, so...

The tomatoes that are definitely coming back is a pretty long list, so we'll see if I can actually trim it to 24 plants. KBX, for sure. Sun Gold, Black Cherry, Cherokee Purple, Berkeley Tie Dye, Carbon, Paul Robeson, these are non-negotiable. But then there's a whole herd of varieties jockeying for spots on the second tier.

Oh, and speaking of KBX, gotta go. Researching golden marinara sauce recipes to make use of the butt-load of KBX I've harvested this week.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cannery Row

So we have had a tsunami of tomatoes this year, as James Worley would put it.

That's led me to finding things to do with more tomatoes than I can eat or give away. This was, just so you know, the goal when I ordered 36 tomato plants last February. I'm not sure it was too many, maybe too many for a summer that includes bypass surgery. But even that timed out relatively well, I had most of the tying and pruning attended to before I went under the knife and things weren't too out of control when I got back to at least picking tomatoes. With a little help from a few friends anyway. I am recalculating for next year's garden, making mental notes about tomato varieties I have to grow no matter what, and adjusting for the fact that I need to at least double, maybe triple, my sweet pepper production and that might come at the cost of a few maters.

So I made my famous Indian (red dot, not feather) Chutney, also some marinara style pasta sauce, and a lot of salsa. Normal times, each one of these would have gotten its own blog post complete with recipe and digressions about the recipe but I've kind of been too busy for that.

I should probably explain the borderline pornographic pasta sauce label: I made these in a hurry, no time for ingredient lists and whatnot. The train of thought that led to this was the fetish some people have elevated 'organic' gardening to (there is no other kind, as far as I know, you can spray what you want and it's all carbon based life, ergo 'organic'). If you're going to have a fetish, why not make it orgasmic gardening, right?

What these sauces all had in common, aside from lots of tomatoes from the garden, was our 18 quart roaster, which works as a slow cooker (you can set it down below 200ºF, though for this more like 250ºF is about right). Leave the lid off and you can evaporate quite a bit of water from pureed and diced tomatoes, getting concentration of flavor and caramelization of sugars without making your whole kitchen a Jackson Pollock study in tomato stains.

The marinara was the biggest hit, and that two gallon batch looked like a lot until we went to can what we hadn't eaten and wound up with only three quarts to put away. If, as I suspect, the tomatoes that haven't succumbed to disease are about to put on a final push of production, I might have to make more of that one. We have the most of the salsa, both because it happened to be the biggest batch, and because we blended part of it with corn and black beans. Even straight, the salsa is not as hot as I feared when I put a Trinidad Scorpion and a couple of Peter Peppers in the mix on top of quite a few jalapeños and Hungarian Yellow Was peppers. With the corn and black bean addition, it's downright mild.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


When I built up my Long Haul Trucker, I did some homework on pedals and found some that claimed to be the biggest, grippiest platform for someone like me who prefers to ride unattached. They're good pedals, and they're far from wore out, so I'd have been riding them for a long time to come.

But Corinna managed to wear the bearings out on the pedals for one of her bikes, and the pedals she got to replace them had me green with envy. Even bigger, with spikes that grip your shoes or boots. I wanted me some of them pedals.

For my birthday, she kept saying she'd been to the Linotype store to find me some lead type from the old days. Which sounds plausible enough given that I'm a graphic designer, but she said she'd been to two Linotype stores looking for just the right thing and hadn't found it. Besides the fact that she pronounced it 'li-nə-ˌtīp' instead of 'lī-nə-ˌtīp' I couldn't figure out how a company that is long out of business had more than one retail outlet in the Kansas City metro area. What kind of antique malls was she shopping at?

Kind of like the 'nose hair trimmers' that turned out to be my Brooks saddle, what she'd actually gone and done was get me some huge, grippy platform pedals like the ones I'd been coveting on her bike.

Now all I have to do is get healed up enough to ride again.

Millions of Peaches

When I met Corinna, I was into gardening but mainly tomatoes and peppers. I guess that's still true, though I am excited about our asparagus beds, and I did plant quite a bit of fall and spring stuff last season. But Corinna, she was into growing everything.

Well, not absolutely everything. Stuff like sweet corn that can be had super cheap at City Market if you're willing to buy in bulk, corn takes up a lot of space in a garden. But we've even been pleasantly surprised at how good garden grown carrots and onions are, and those normally fall into the 'buy it at City Market' column.

But the biggest difference between us was on fruit trees. As in, she planted four of them when the ink on her home mortgage was still wet. Me, the only fruit tree I ever thought of growing was a cider apple variety such as Kingston Black (still might squeeze one of those in up front). I'm a fan of figs, too, and since I learned of hardy figs there's a good chance one of those is coming in. But Corinna, she's all about the fruit trees. Not just ours, she'll harvest anything someone else isn't utilizing, peaches, pears, apples, even crab apples (good for adding acidity and pectin to jams).

One of those fruit trees she planted out back, though, the white peach, it's just going berserk. These photos do not show the whole crop, the branches were still heavy with fruit when I took them, and Corinna had done considerable drying and canning already by this point. Cue the Presidents of the United States of America, millions of peaches, peaches for free...

Hearing Corinna talk about what all she's going to do with these peaches is kind of like hearing Bubba from Forrest Gump talk about all the shrimp recipes his family knew.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Fridays by Car

I would normally only do First Fridays by bike, but since I'm off the bike recovering from open heart surgery, well...

After driving around interminably looking for a parking spot I finally found one. I was literally just about to give up.

A few minutes later, I couldn't believe I'd almost skipped out on this. It's such a great party.

And so much great art.

The other day I was at City Market (another frustrating place to try and park) and overheard a woman on her cell phone describing where she was at. "I'm at the most amazing, huge farmer's market..."

And that's exactly what I think of the First Friday art walk in the Crossroads. It even has a small farmer's market of its own (Bad Seed).

I didn't buy any heirloom tomatoes at Bad Seed, but they looked so good I could have. If I weren't drowning in the same at home. 36 vines might have been overkill, or it was since we had a good growing season. If the weather had been like the last couple of years, it would have been about right. And too much is better than not enough.

We actually started out in Midtown at the Buttonwood gallery where I met Bob Walkenhorst showing his paintings. Bob Walkenhorst of the Rainmakers, I didn't know he was a visual artist as well. Jeff Porter was showing stuff at Buttonwood as well, not sure if any other people you'd think of as musicians who were showing there.

We wound our way through a bunch of galleries, all of which seemed to have something surprising on show.

There were lots of bands on offer, too, set up on sidewalks. And food that ranged from grocery store vegetable trays to high end catered fare, almost all accompanied by inexpensive table wine and the occasional Boulevard beer.

Probably the highlight, art-wise, was at the Leedy-Voulkos, where Stretch was showing. Stretch of Grinders fame. I've met him before, but in the Grinders context, not so much in the artist at an opening role. He had a pint of hooch in his pocket but didn't seem to be drinking it himself, it was for pushing on people who walked up to meet him. "You look like you could use a hit," he'd say, holding the pint out to see if someone would take it. Pretty freakin' smooth, I have to say, if you're going to market yourself as an artist, that's the way to do it.

His art had an awfully violent subtext to it. Lots of guns, brass knuckles, vaguely ballistic looking items, and so on.

I took a picture of this woman at Leedy. She was looking so exhausted and forlorn, and I thought I was being sneaky but right before I could open the shutter, she saw me and smiled. So much for great moments in street photography.

I have noticed when it comes to photographing people in a public space that shooting more actually puts folks at ease more than shooting less. They might notice at first hearing a shutter, seeing a big-ish SLR, but when they decide you're shooting everything they tune you out mostly.