Friday, October 27, 2006

Like Sands Through The Hourglass...

Howdy kiddies! Glad you could all make it here today. I'm hoping that I just might have something entertaining for you this time. Going by how many comments there are, I'd say I'm *perhaps* entertaining one or two of you each post.

Ok, that's cool. I can handle that. Remember, in 2032 I invent a really cool item that transmits your thoughts to your blog (but only the thoughts you want). This revolutionizes blogging and I am hailed by the entire known universe. This is one of the reasons I'm putting my thoughts into the keyboard now for the use of future historians trying to dissect my life.

Blarf! Ok, that bit of crapola is out of the way. Should I bother writing about the worst drought in history here in the driest state in the driest continent in the world? No! Of course not! You'd much rather read stories of my youth in which I actively tried to kill myself...

Which brings us to your second favorite segment: story time with unkie dave.

We are going waaaaay waaaaaay back into the mists of time... back to dave's oldest memory! Not surprisingly, it involves dave hurting himself. This was even before I left my face on the pavement (it grew back, thanks for asking).

My first broken leg.

Do any of you remember having a swing set in your yard when you were a wee little tyke (brat)? Well, we had one back in the trailer court. Yeah, yeah, I can hear the jokes about "trailer trash" now. But this was a different trailer court. The wilds of Alaska were right next door, moose routinely visited, black bear sign abounded (don't step in it), and the wolves of the Chugach Pack could be heard howling.

This story is not about any of the wild critters though, this about me trying to amputate my leg in my own back yard (do trailers have a "back yard"?).

Back to the swing set... I can hear you now, "but dave, how the hell do you break a leg on a swing set without falling?" Ah yes, this was one of those really cool swing sets back before the days of lawyers and personal injury lawsuits and corporate negligence. This was back in the days when kids were allowed to be kids and if they hurt themselves then they learned from it. Ummm, as an aside; I learnt a LOT when I was growing up (and I'm still learning!!!).

Are any of you old enough to remember the swing set apparatus in which kids sat on either side and swung back and forth? No? Imagine a metal pole coming straight down from the top of the swing set (actually two of them parallel lined up longitudinally to the set, but that's beside the point) and a couple of bars perpendicular to that pole with a seat on either end for the little brats to sit on. Oh, there were some frills, like foot posts, and some bars to grab onto and a hard plastic seat on each side.

Now, as the little kids would swing back and forth, the two support poles would move through around 120 degrees... back and forth... rather rapidly... You may be able to imagine what would happen if some dumb little 4 year old (me) had his foot slip as he was leaning forward with all his might. No? You can't? I can... the little kids foot slips forward and wedges the leg it is attached to firmly between the two poles just as they are going from an obtuse angle to an acute one. Can you imagine what then happens to the leg of the kid as centrifugal (centripetal actually) force swings the swing along it's pre-destined arc? I'll tell you what happens...

The leg goes SNAP... and quite quickly too...

That's all I remember except being in a cast for a while and not being able to play on the swings till the damn cast is off, bummer.

My first emergency room visit and I don't even remember the hospital! Oh well, I guess a century or two of hard living will do that to a bloke.

Ok, this was perhaps a pretty lame story cus my memory is hazy, but I thought it had to be told.

Food Time:

I guess before I start with sourdough recipes, I'd better tell y'all a little about sourdough starter. Here we go:

Sourdough starter is a wonderful thing to have and to use. You may notice that the term "sourdough" is used in conjunction with gold miners and crabby old Alaskans. If you wanted bread out in the middle of nowhere, it was (and still is) easier (and tastier) to keep a jug of sourdough starter with you than yeast or baking powder. Also, there's no rising time with sourdough. It does take a bit longer to bake, but with a good bed of coals (or a modern oven) that's no worries.

The best way to get sourdough starter is to borrow some from the cabin down the road. If you aren't fortunate to live in a cabin dwellin' type place, then here's what you do to make your own sourdough starter.

What you need:

1 or 2 small spuds (potatoes), peeled
1 to 2 cups (237 mls) of H2O (water)
1 to 2 cups (237 to 474 mls) of plain flour
2 tbsp (30 mls) raw sugar
a pinch of dry yeast

What you do:

Boil the spuds till they are really really soft. Drain, then mash. Add some water till it's a good slurry. Add the sugar and the yeast and stir. Then add the flour while stirring until you have a thick, soupy type mix.

Put it in a covered glass bowl or jug. Stir it a few times a day for 3 or 4 days, then it'll be ready to use. It'll be good and bubbly and smell damned good.

Coming up next: what to do with the starter... Biscuits!

Oh, yes. I almost forgot: it'll get a wee bit, ahhhh, aromatic... I keep mine in the garage.

You can continue to use the starter pretty much forever. I've been working off the same bowl for over a year now (had to restart when we moved). The trick is to leave at least a cup of the liquid starter in the bowl and then 'top it up'. You top it up with equal parts water and flour, a bit of sugar, and some yeast if you think it needs it.

I really can cook... haven't you noticed yet????

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Prelude To A Mauling

I'm very sorry to disappoint all my loyal readers, but I do feel that I have to tell you I've never been mauled by a bear. Seen lots of bears, but never been mauled by one, so perhaps the title is a little misleading.

However, I have been mauled... By the biggest Mall in the Southern Hemisphere! Ah, yes: Westfield Marion Shopping Centre. We'll just shorten that to The Mall.

Story time with unkie dave is actually going to be about The Mall. Don't worry though, I'll be getting back to my rough, tough childhood in the woods, never fear. This is more about my rough, tough Mall adventures down under. This could get long, as I don't have an outline to work from... I'm not a writer!

The Mall will safely hold over 200,000 people before the fire code folks even start to think it might be a bit crowded. That means the ENTIRE POPULATION OF LOS ANCHORAGE WOULD FIT INTO THIS MALL. Did I mention it's the biggest mall in the Southern Hemisphere? Oh, wait, yes I did, sorry.

The place is HUGE! And noisy! And HUGE! And busy! And HUGE! Did I mention it's the biggest mall in the southern hemisphere? Ok, that's getting old so I'll stop that now.

You can buy anything you want there... ANYTHING! Hell, I even bought ole Rocket Butt there (stay tuned for a future post, ain't spillin' the beans today). You can have oral surgery done there. You can buy a guitar there. ALL banks have a branch there. You can buy naughty underwear there. You can buy a car there. There are 3 bike shops there. You can get really overpriced coffee there. You can eat any ethnic food you can think of there. You can book a cruise to Antarctica there. You can get your car fixed. You can see a lawyer. You can see any movie you'd like. You can buy enough timber to build a house. Ok, I'll stop now.

When I first moved here, we lived in a house one street back from The Mall. It was very handy. Never drove anywhere... you just walked across the street for whatever you wanted.

Now that we've been out in the hills and woods for a while, I've noticed a few things about The Mall. Shall I tell you what they are? Of course I shall:

1) It's noisy
2) It's loud
3) It stinks
4) It's really noisy
5) It's really loud
6) It really stinks

That's just what you notice trying to find parking...

Walking to an entrance is like taking your life in your hands, and once you get inside it's even worse! Good luck when it's crowded! Gaaack, I've never seen so many inconsiderate b*stards before. If you are carrying a box under your arm, I can guarantee that it'll be knocked out by a passerby within 30 secs. Jerks. Getting a shopping cart through is LOADS of fun. I've often thought of putting on dark glasses and walking through The Mall with a white cane. I'd have a friend with me to "guide" me just to give the Maulers a chance to be nice. I'm POSITIVE that the cane would be stepped on and I'd be knocked around every ten seconds.

This past holiday season, The Mall was open all night on christmas eve. I did not go anywhere near it. I was asleep like any sane person would be. I do have a story from a lady I know who works in one of the shops there. She works at the ink cartridge place where we buy ink tanks and laser toner from and she related this to us the week after x-mas.

All stores were open till 200 am, and many of the large ones till 500 am (imagine that, working/shopping till 500 am christmas morning). She closed of the cartridge shop at 200 am and walked 50 yards to a place to get a new telly on sale. She then bought the telly, loaded it into a shopping cart and went through The Mall as she was parked at the far end. SHE DIDN'T GET OUT OF THE MALL TILL 500 AM!!!!

Let me recap: Off work at 200 am. 50 yds to store. Buy telly. Check out. Walk through The Mall with telly in a shopping cart. Exit The Mall at 500 am. THIS IS JUST TOO FUCKING WRONG! She said it took almost 90 minutes from leaving the store with the telly to the far end of The Mall... That also means the other 90 mins to walk 50 yards, pick out a telly, and pay for said telly.

Gee folks: do you think The Mall was just a wee bit overcrowded? I've actually been in there when there were 150,000 people in it and it wasn't anywhere close to that bad. There must have been over 300,000 people there... 1/3 the population of Adelaide was in the damn mall at 200 am of christmas morning!!!!!

You shopaholics would've LOVED it!

I promise that next post will be more ramblings of my youth, should be fun. Oh, and someday I'll tell you the Rocket Butt story...

In the meantime: FOOD!

This'll be one for you vegetabletarians: Cream Of Mushroom Soup.

This'll make up enough soup for four hungry adults to have for dinner, and you'll even have a bowl left over (maybe).

I hope you don't get tired of soups from me; they are easy, they are quick, and they are very healthy (at least mine are).

What you need:

One can of campbells cream of mushroom soup
one can opener
one cup of milk

JUST KIDDING!!!! It's been yonks since I've had soup out of a can.

What you need:

1 kilo (two pounds) of fresh, raw, button mushrooms
one small onion, finely minced
olive oil
dash of lime juice
1 tsp dried tarragon
ground white pepper
a few cups of milk
freshy shredded parmesan (not the stuff that comes in a green canister)
fresh basil leaves

What you do:

Rinse the shrooms and chop em in half (doesn't have to be neatly done). Toss shrooms and onions in a wok with a tbsp or two or olive oil, sprinkle on the dried tarragon and the lime juice. Cook quickly over high heat for 3-5 minutes, tossing/stirring regularly. Set aside and let cool for a few mins.

Add some of the cooked shrooms/onions and some milk to a blender, blend till smooth. You'll probably end up with two blender-fulls. Pour it all into a thick-bottomed pot and simmer for 10-20 mins. Add more milk if you'd like. Stir regularly.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

For serving: ladle soup into a bowl, and then sprinkle with fresh parmesan and a couple of chopped fresh basil leaves. Serve with piping hot fresh bread.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

You've Ruined It!

The title works best when said in a cool Smeagol voice, and don't forget to keep nassty chipss.

Well hello folks. So, like, what the heck did I ruin? Ha! I didn't ruin nuthin'. But I'll tell you a story about how a beautiful, wonderful, scary cross-country ski trail was ruined. But first; a bit of a back-story...

Oh wait, I know what you are thinking: if I keep up with a cool story and a cool recipe every day then pretty damned soon I'm going to run out of stories and cool recipes. I've got you fooled! Umpteen decades of experience in the wilds of Alaska (haven't even started on the Aussie stories yet) and umpteen years of home cookin' (I like to eat) means I shouldn't run out of material until at least the 51st of March, 2287. Oh, yes, for those of you who don't know, the number of days in a year was changed to 867 in 2200 cus all the asteroid impacts slowed the orbit of the Earth. I'm making a note here for the future historians --you're welcome.

Back to the ruination of what was once a really awesome cross-country ski trail.

For those of you who have read all the entries so far (damned boring, weren't they?) you would know that I was on my high school cross country skiing team (and the running team too). You may also have gleamed the info that we trained at Kincaid Park in Los Anchorage (very close to Alaska).

We trained at Kincaid before the trails were lighted. We trained at Kincaid before there was a stadium. We trained at Kincaid when the old military bunkers were still there (they were great for bb-gun fights, but that's another story). We trained at Kincaid when none of the trails were marked. We trained at Kincaid when the trails weren't groomed. In other words, we had fun skiing through the woods --that's putting it mildly.

There's a wee bit of a difference betwixt "old" Kincaid and "new" Kincaid. I'd say about the difference between a primordial forest and a ten lane expressway. You can probably guess which I prefer.

Many of the downhill sections in "old" Kincaid were named: Compression, Horseshoe, Niagra, Slalom, etc. I always feared Slalom. Why? I'll tell you why.

Firstly, it was downhill (that's cool, but there are no brakes on skis). It wound through trees --these weren't the trees you see in a Warren Millar powder movie... these were TREES! Six feet in diameter! Really big, huge kid-eating TREES.

Secondly, the trail wound through the trees, of course. Did the "slalom" trail wind through the trees properly? Not a chance. Did you turn AFTER each tree? Not a chance. Every turn was JUST BEFORE A TREE --remember, these aren't little tiny wussie trees you can crash through. If you weren't wearing brown-colored britches at first, then by the last (fifth) turn JUST BEFORE A DAMNED BIG TREE I can certainly guarantee you were afterwards.

That last turn --left BTW-- was one I'll always remember. It was almost always dark or twilight. Remember, this is Alaska in the winter in the late afternoon so there wasn't much light. I remember the two huge roots from the base of the evil tree sculpted into the icy, hard-packed joke of a turn. I remember the huge crack in the bark that most certainly swallowed skiers/kids whole. I remember the imprint of the face of an unlucky kid just above the crack that had to have ingested his body.

Everytime it came time to avoid that last tree (by turning left on an icy trail with only thin cross-country skies to vainly attempt to carve a turn), I could never take my eyes off the imprint of the face above that crack in the bark. If you assumed that nine times out of ten I wiped out/bailed out into the deep snow off the trail as I flailed around that last corner while trying not to stare at the tree, well then you'd be right.

I lost count of the number of times I wiped out on that last corner, and the number of times I skied that trail. It seemed the only time I ever made it was during a race --must've been the extra adreneline I guess.

I never hit that tree, but I was sure I would many many many times...

Fast forward the tape a few decades...

High Summer. dave riding through the trails of "new" kincaid on a mountain bike. dave is savoring the wide trails, the sandpits at the bottom of a descent (good thing I learned how to go over handlebars when I was young), the glorious views over Turnagain Arm, the greetings from other trail users as we ride past each other. Ahhhhh, bliss. Even the moose were friendly. Butterflies float over the fields, rabbits play with the foxes, and joy was in the world.

dave decides to go and relive his childhood on the "old" trails of kincaid... The trails suddenly take on a distinctly menacing tone, the underbrush clogs the trail and obscures the wheel-breaking roots... The devil's club thorns grow by three inches and scrape huge divots out of unsuspecting legs... Darkness descends... The trees whisper evilly to each other... The brush rustles with the movements of unknown beasts... Ah! Great! Back to normal, just like dave remembers it!

Approaching the descent of Slalom, dave attempts to recollect each turn. No such luck, besides that was in the snow on skies and this is on a bike in the dirt. "At least I'll have brakes," thinks dave --quickly testing them.

"Wait a sec, that was the first tree! But no turn???" Odd thoughts rush through dave's brain -quite quickly too. "Hey, there went the second, third and fourth tree and STILL no turns?" Our hero passes the fifth and final tree and STILL no turns --but he did notice more face imprints above the crack in the bark of the fifth tree.


I couldn't believe it... the go*&%$$%#*&@##@$@@#ed parks and rec as@#$%%##@es straightened out Slalom. They made a mockery of a once feared descent --b*%%%rds even left the sign up "Slalom"! As if that's supposed to appease the demon that once lurked there. Now, countless kiddies on skies will arrive home WITHOUT having to change their undies; lucky little brats.

Isn't this where I'm supposed to say something about not being able to go home again? Stuff that! I've never grown up and I ain't gonna now. Gonna go see if Horseshoe is still there and what it looks like in the dark...

Coming up soon: dave and another concussion.

Food time, wee-hoo.

Real Men Don't Eat Quiche: They Make It First And Then Eat It!

Yummy, scrummy. Tell any redneck truckdriver sourdough crusty old fart (could be me!) this: Eggs, Bacon, Shrooms, Seasonings, all tossed together and cooked. They'll SALIVATE! Then tell them it's a French dish called Quiche Lorraine. Wee-hoo! The fun you can have embarassing neandrethals!

This quiche dish is based on the classic Quiche Lorraine recipe from France. I have made some modifications, so I'll call it "Dave's Quicke". Oops, Quiche...

What you need:

2 large slices of bacon
10 (or so) fresh button mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp dried tarragon or 2 tsp fresh
pinch o sea salt
pinch of ground white pepper
six eggs
a cup or two of milk
12 thin tomato slices
fresh tarragon leaves
fresh basil leaves

What you do:

Cut the bacon into 1 cm square pieces. Cook em till they are almost crispy-like. Put cooked bacon pieces in the bottom of a glass pie dish (no, you don't need to butter or coat the dish).

Sautee the quartered shrooms in the bacon fat and add the lime juice, dried tarragon, sea salt and white pepper while stirring (tossing, if you have a wok) the shrooms. Cook them for 4 to 5 mins. Add the cooked shrooms to the pie dish. The shrooms will smell really really really good.

Whisk the eggs and add enough milk to the eggs so that it'll fill the pie dish. You can always "err on the side of caution" and have extra egg/milk mixture for an omelette in the morning. Pour the beaten eggs and milk into the pie dish.

Chuck the pie dish into a pre-heated oven at 180 C (360 F) --CAREFUL! DON'T SPILL IT!!!!! and cook for 30 mins. Then take the *almost* cooked quiche out and top with thin sliced tomato, fresh tarragon, and fresh basil. Put it back in the oven till it's done (about ten mins more).

Eat and enjoy!

Damn, I should be charging for these...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Creek Climbing

How the heck do you climb a creek anyways? Weeeeeeeeelllllllll, I guess I'll just have to tell you.

But first, a pubic (public) service announcement from yours truly (no, you don't get roses... there'll all mine, damnit) going out to all of my loyal readers --I think there are four of you now, WEE-HOO!

Ah, right, the PSA: Do not under any circumsizes (circumstances) expect any of dave's stories to be in any sort of chronological order. However, you do have the right to expect them all to be true --that's cus they ARE true. Also, the names have not been changed to protect the guilty, cus, you know, like, they are guilty.

OT Do you like my gratuitous use of commas?

Oh, another Pubic Service Announcement: this post could get long. If you are reading it at work (shudder) then that's just too bad for you, I hope you are on your break.

If anyone cares, this weeks cress is ready for cropping, my coriander (cilantro) thicket is coming along nicely, the lettuce looks great, and I've just used a WMD on the damn caterpillars on my herbs. Don't worry, the WMD is a naturally occuring bacteria that doesn't harm any other insect (spiders are my friends) or bird or mammal or lizard (the blue-tongues in the garage eat all the cockroaches). I will protect my mint, my russian tarragon, my chocolate mint, my thyme, my catmint, my sage, my oregano, my basil, my mexican tarragon, my parsley, my purple sage, my mushrooms, my lettuce, and my marjoram from the damn things. Fortunately they leave the garlic alone. Nothing touches the rosemary (except for my shears, the damn things will colonise the garden given half a chance).

The snails haven't tried to have a go at the chinese lantern plant this season, I think it's getting too big for them. They've also given up on my outdoor chrysanthenum and it's about to do its first bloom of the season. I totally kicked major butt of the aphids on the roses last year, so they haven't even tried it this year. I have nice roses. Nothing eats the palms, and the hydrangeas I started as cuttings two years ago are going great. I've moved the mushroom farms into the garage, NO snails will ever get another of my shrooms, damnit!

I'm letting the english and french lavender run riot this summer, there's about five of each out front. There's an odd bush out front that I can't identify, but it smells much like licorice/aniseed (if that makes any sense). I smell so good that after I finish pruning it I want to pretend I'm like the cat and lick myself. Ok, grossness over... for now...

Alrighty mates, story time with unkie dave! Todays episode is Creek Climbing.

Going waaaaay back in thyme, I believe I was 7 or 8. Had to be cus it was between me leaving my face on the pavement but before my first broken arm and way after my first broken leg (still gotta tell you about that). I still had both eyes back then (ok, that was a fib... I have neither eye now).

The family (me, doug (older brother by 14 months), old fart (dad), and mom) were invited to spend the weekend on a friends powerboat in Whittier. Note: this was back when you could only get to Whittier by train. Note Note: you can still see all of Whittier in 5 minutes at a slow walk.

We agreed! We'd never been on a boat that size (later learned it was only a 25 footer...) and it seemed like the Queen Mary. The forecast for the weekend was good --in Alaska that means the raindrops will be smaller than bucket-sized, the wind won't get above 40 mph, no hail, and no snow.

I vaguely remember the trip to get to Whittier so I won't bore you with made-up crap. Neither do I remember Whittier (does anyone??????).

Here's what I remember: heading out of the bay on the boat, the salt spray everywhere, getting yelled at to get off the deck or I'll fall (this was before life preservers were invented and those weird orange vests everyone else was wearing just looked dorky). Ah yes, first time on the ocean... VERY VERY VERY COOL!

Shotgun cove disappeared in the distance and we rounded the headlands... the Waves Got Huge. They were Towering Black Monsters waiting to thrash any boat with the temerity to venture forth into the vast unknown ocean. I later learned they were only four footers and it was only blowing 20 knots... oh the shame...

The waters calmed when we turned left into Pigot Bay. Cool place. It was me first and only time there but I do remember it well (at least the important part, you know, creek climbing). The boat was anchored (I didn't help) and the grups unwound for a bit. Since Doug (my older brother by 14 months) and I had done pretty much nothing for the last hour, we were getting, shall we say, rather restless. Wee-Hoo, the Old Fart (dad) to the rescue.

The Old Fart suggested (he threw our rambunctious asses into the dinghy) that we go ashore and expore the beach. I need to put in an aside here for you folks in the lower 48: Don't think of sandy, warm beaches! Think of gravel, kelp, rocks, driftwood, and forest to the tidemark. Oh, did I mention in was around 35 F, which was just slightly warmer than the ocean or any of the creeks feeding into the ocean? I didn't? Well I have now.

So we "beached" the dinghy and put it up above the tidemark and went exploring. We quickly found a trail. The trail went along the bank of a creek. Creeks in AK are not your typical, idyllic, meandering brooks you might see in the picture books. Real Creeks carve unknown paths through the forest, thunder down cliffs, and yank trees out by their roots. This particular creek made those ones look tame.

The trail started to narrow as the creek climbed the mountain. Several times the trail crossed the creek and we followed... we got wet... we got seriously fucking wet... a few times the Old Fart had to haul each one of us across while he stood in the creek cus the swirling whirlpool we had to cross was over our heads (thanks dad! I won't put you in a nursing home). Sometimes we were able to scramble across the logs that straddled the creek.

It was only later we learned the trail wasn't really a trail, but more of a bear track.

Never saw a bear but boy did he/she start leaving some serious sign. The Old Fart figured (rightly) that as long as we continue to make as much noise as possible (Doug and I were always good at making LOTS of noise) we'll never see a bear. He was right, but we did see lots more bear sign.

"What's bear sign?" you ask. Plainly stated: bear shit. The warmer it is the closer the bear is (I'll leave the temp determining to your fertile imagination). Oh, 12 inch diameter paw prints sorta kinda helped us figure out that it was a bear track.

On up the creek we went... The bear trail soon disappeared off one side (smart bear) and we slogged through the downed tree trunks, the swirling waterpools, the sharp rocks and the dank forest on our own. We went STRAIGHT UP THE CREEK for a while cus there wasn't even a passable bank on either side.

Eventually, the Old Fart must have felt pity on his two little offspring as he suggested we head back down the creek. WEEEE what fun! It was so much easier! Slipping over the slick rocks, sliding over and under the mossy tree trunks! What fun! Avoiding the bear scat! Screaming our fool heads off as we plummeted down the *fucking cold* creek! Oh the joy! Disney could've made a fortune by making this into a theme park ride --dunno how they'd get the bear sign in though.

By some grace of my guardian angel (more about that later... much later) we arrived back at the "beach" intact and everything attached. There wasn't a single dry spot on any of the three of us, but we didn't care. We had FUN!

Arriving back at the anchored boat (they waited, YEA!) my mom took a look at the three of us and freaked. Three blue-lipped, bedraggled, shivering, quivering, COLD, masses of human flesh must have shook her sensibilities a wee bit. Oh we were babied! Dry clothes, blankets, hot chocolate (the Old Fart got schnapps in his, bastard), all in front of the heater in the main cabin. Oh, and FOOD. Lots and lots of WARM FOOD.

Our little toes were shriveled-up blue ice cubes, we had bruises everywhere (and I mean everywhere). Well past the stage of goose-bumps we were... And yet, there was a strange, odd, unholy, light in my eyes... DAMN DID I HAVE FUN!

Over the next few years, whenever we were anchored out in a cove (we got our own boat (it had sails) --but that's another story) I would bring up the suggestion of creek climbing. Mom (bless her heart) would usually rescue me after a few minutes of the Old Fart holding me down while Doug tried to beat some sense into me.

Was this the Beginning with my warped love of the cold and the Outdoors? Or was it just the first physical manifestation of a deeper problem? Time will tell so stay tuned!

Onto one of my favourite (favorite) things: Food

Hamhock soup

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know, another damned soup recipe. I mean come on dave, we all know how to make soup from scratch. One can 'o' campbells and one can opener! No worries!

Well for those of you who feel like trying the soup I made yesterday, you may read on. For the rest of you... too bad cus you are missing out.

Here's what you kneed for dave's special homemade hamhock soup:

One cured hamhock
lots of water
mix of beans (any assortment of dried beans works great)
dried lentils
dried peas
one diced potato
1 tbspn sea salt
1/4 tspn white pepper
one chopped onion
1 tspn dried basil
1 tspn dried oregano
1 tspn dried tarragon

What you due:

Plonck the hamhock into a big pot, and fill with H2O. Simmer for 2-3 hours, keeping the water topped up. Remove from heat and remove the hamhock and let it cool on a cutting board. You'll find the fat and skin pretty much falls off the bone. Take the meat and shred it using your fingers. Half the shredded ham will be for the soup, the other half will be for pork and beans the next day. You can toss the bone, or give it to the dog.

Skim the fat off the ham soup stock. To the skimmed ham stock add the mix of dried beans, lentils and peas. Simmer for an hour. Add the diced potato, sea salt, white pepper, chopped onion, and the three herbs. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Add half the shredded ham from the hamhock for the last 5 minutes.

Serve hot with fresh homemade wholemeal bread.

This is very very very very tasty!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Haunting We Will Go

Before I get to the meat and potatoes of this post, I thought I'd share something with you... Remember when I told you how to make Dolmades? Something you may not know about me is that I tend to tinker with recipes until it's juuuuuuust right.

For even better dolmades, add a small handful of sultanas (raisins) to the stuffing mix while you are frying it up. Also add a tspn of fish sauce to the chicken (or veggie) stock you are going to cook the dolmades in.

Your taste bud will love me!

On with the show! Cus the show must go on!

I haven't posted for a few days, but it's not like I don't have anything to tell you or that I've run outta cool food stuff or that I've run out of stories. Never fear, none of those three things will ever happen. This also won't turn into an abandoned blog, no matter how low my viewership is (is it in negative numbers yet????) Besides, in a hundred years from now historians will want to know my mind in these early years so who am I to disappoint my future billion readers.

I've been hiding in the woods. Not overnight camping, but a lot of hiking around. This spring we are having beautiful weather and I don't wanna waste it at a keyboard. Actually, our spring is way too sunny and warm for this time of year and we are in for one of the worst droughts in history, sigh...

Nothing special has been happening, this weeks cress is sprouting, my coriander (cilantro) thicket is going well, just planted a bunch more herb seeds... blah blah blah, yadda, yadda, yadda.


Story time with unkie dave:

We are going to jump ahead to high school --don't worry, I'll be getting back to my youth. I was on the x-country running team and the x-country skiing team. Never was I any of the top blokes or blokettes, but I had fun.

One weekend very early in the running season, me and another bloke went for a run. At night, in the dark, in the forest, on some weedy overgrown trails in Old Kincaid (yes, I grew up in Los Anchorage --shut up). Now, back then in the stone age, kincaid park was NOT what it's like nowadays. It was so much Cooler! Did I mention it was creepy and dark at night? My superpower of being able to see in the dark had already kicked in at this point in my life, but that just meant I could see much much more movement in the dark shadowy underbrush.

Did I mention it was a totally clear night with a full moon? No, I hadn't? Well I have now.

I'm keeping you in suspense here, so I'll just tell you what happened: We ran to the back entrance (about 2 miles), ran for an hour through the trails, then ran home.

Oh, wait! We saw Something really cool and then heard (and saw, I swear!) another Something that wasn't so cool.

Something really cool: The aurora came out while we were in the woods. I've seen em lots of times before and since, but this time stuck in my mind. Red, Greens, and Blues all radiating from a central point directly overhead. Colors cascading and shimmering over the entire sky! No city lights for miles and no sound for miles. It was VERY cool.

We stopped and stood rooted to the spot on the trail watching the dancing lights overhead. After 10 mins or so... we HEARD something. I saw some underbrush move about 50 feet away from us. Keith heard the underbrush rustle but couldn't see it move. Yeah, we know there are lynx and black bears and a host of other critters there, but the trails were just begging to be trode upon by us that night.

Two streaks of humanity shot out of that clearing so fast I'm sure we broke every world record for speed there ever was. As we were hauling some serious ass I glanced back for a moment and I SWEAR I saw a pair of yellow glowing eyes in the underbrush RIGHT WHERE THE MOVEMENT WAS! If our coach coulda seen us sprinting the last three miles needed to get outta the park, then our ticket to the olympics would've been punched right then and there. We even picked up our speed when I told Keith I saw glowing eyes.

The next day several people who live around the park area reported hearing thunder during the Aurora show, but it was just the sonic boom from two very very fast and frightened kids.

Aww, heck. It was probably just my imagination. Ummmm, when's the next full moon.... (insert twilight zone music).

Food time!

Veggie time: green beans with extra goodies.

This actually has meat in it, but for you vegetabletarians, just don't use the bacon and cook it all up with a tbsp or two of olive oil (you'll probably want a bit of salt though).

What you need:

Half a kilo (one pound) of FRESH, RAW green beans, tips removed
One red capsicum (red bell pepper), seeded and sliced
Handful (metric handful) of peanuts or cashews.
Two strips of bacon
A tbsp or two of peanut butter

What you do:

Cook the bacon in a wok or a good fry pan till it's just done, but not quite crispy. Remove and let cool. Toss the green beans and bell pepper strips into the bacon fat and cook em (fry) for a few mins --moving them constantly, don't let them burn!. Toss in the peanuts or cashews and the peanut butter. Cook it all up till the veggies are cooked but not soggy --stirring and moving them constantly. Crumple up the bacon and toss the bacon bits in at the end.

Serve hot!

It really only takes 5 mins for the cooking, and the prep work can be done while the main dish is cooking. This is a big hit with the clan down here. Even my bro-in-law who doesn't like most veggie dishes loves this.

You're welcome.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Oh My Stars and Garters: I'm LATE!

for a very important date! It involves me, The Most Wonderful Woman In The Entire World, and two of the most wonderful homemade pizzas (with dave's special sourdough pizza crust) that there ever were invented.

Fortunately, I've bailed myself out food wise, cus I've got one ready for you.

But I don't have a usual, rambling, disconnected, disjointed, stupid, dumb, smartassy, post for you. Have no fear though! I can always pull something out quickly:

Story time with Unkie dave:

Imagine this: You are seven years old and you've just swam through the canal in the lake behind your house. This is no tame, retarted, timid, lake or canal... This canal is only four feet deep, but has another four feet of muck which suck at the feet of a little brat. If the poor, unfortunate child is unlucky enough to put his foot down, then the little moron KNOWS it will be covered in LEECHES. Needless to say, the little idiot learns how to swim very very very very well without ever touching the bottom.

Now imagine you are the little dork and you've just climbed BAREFOOT up the 3000 foot bank on the other side of the canal (I swear! It was that high!), and you have nothing on but your shorts (very familiar for dave later in life --foreshadowing...). Ah, that's IT! Just shorts after swimming across the leech infested canal.

Now imagine that you (dave) are all happy at getting through the canal with all of your blood, and you are running and jumping merrily (gaily?) along a rabbit path through the tundra to get around the lake to get home.

Now imagine that your bare foot post-holes straight down into the what was semi-solid tundra. Then imagine a boatload of wasps come pouring out of the hole, and they are very intent on finding every single square inch of exposed skin of the dumb, stupid, moronic, little kid (you know, dave!).

Do you remember the song "The Streak"??? Well, needless to say, that was me that day. I've never ever ever ever been able to run that fast --not through a lack of trying, but that's another story.

Ok, food time:

Fake Neufchatel Cheese

This cheese is from Switzerland, and it's pretty hard to get the real stuff outside of Europe. HOWEVER, I (dave) have come up with a pretty damned good approximation for it and it's VERY VERY VERY easy to make.

Neufchatel is a creamy cheese, great for spreading on goodies that need a spread --you'll find many uses for it, trust me! In fact, you'll never buy philly cream cheese ever again!

What you need:

2 cups of fresh homemade plain yogurt (yoghurt)
some sea salt
cheesecloth (or chuxcloth for you folks down under)

What you do:

Place the cheesecloth (or chuxcloth) in a bowl, then plop in the fresh, homemade, plain yoghurt (yogurt). Lift up the four corners of the cloth and tie it around your sink faucet (spigot) with the bowl below to catch the whey (the whey makes great veggie soup stock. Hell, you can drink it straight!). Let it drain overnight --ummm, do I need to tell you not to turn the faucet on while it's draining? No? I thought not.

Once it's drained and *fairly* firm (might take an extra day, heck you didn't need the sink anyways, right?), then spread the curds out on a wooden cutting board. Lightly salt them and then mix well with a good chef's knife. Ahhh, yes! How to mix the curds with a knife... Use the knife blade to pile the curds up, and then "cut" the curds. Repeat till you think it's mixed enough. This should only take around 10-15 secs if you know what you are doing with a knife.

Chuck the curds into a container, put a lid on, toss it in the fridge, and then the next day you'll have the best damned creamy cheese you've EVER tasted! No lie!

Variations: you can easily add the following to the "curd cutting" process: roasted garlic, minced onion, chives, smoked salmon, mint, tarragon, coriander etc. Ahhh, I don't suggest using all those together, DUH! Oh, yeah: if you'd like it to be yellow then mix in some turmeric (a very small amount).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy Little Vegemite

Vegemite... I'm sure all of you up in the "other hemisphere" have heard the term: Vegemite

There was a telly commercial yonks ago down here with a couple of happy, sappy ankle-biters singing a song,"...We're happy little vegemites..." It was in black and white so down here that means in the early '80's. Not really, 50's I believe.

In case you are interested, Kraft (tm) now owns Vegemite. They were going to try to compete with it down here with their own version, but they just decided to buy the company and keep the name and recipe as Vegemite. Pretty fucking shrewd marketing, eh?

OT: you may have noticed my use of eh? at the end of some sentences. The proper pronuskiashun should be the Canadian type of eh? I believe it would be a long "a" in dictionary terms. Remember when Bob and Doug McKenzie were popular in the Lower 48? In the early 80's lot's of folks would be saying "Take off, eh?" Since I'm from the interior of Alaska (NOT Los Anchorage) I knew a lot of Canadians so I kinda picked up the "eh?" thingy.

Back to Vegemite...

So, like what the hell is Vegemite? Yes, I heard you ask that! Not only can I see in the dark, but I can peer into cyberspace too.

Vegemite is "Concentrated Yeast Extract". And it's a dark brown colour (color). And it has a VERY strong flavor (flavour). And it's "one of the world's richest sources of Vitamin B". And it has a VERY strong flavour (flavor). Did I mention that it is strong tasting?

It should be used as a spread on toast or a sandwich (usually with butter --in fact, the butter in our butter dish has brown streaks in it... FROM THE VEGEMITE YOU PERVERTS!!!!) It should not be used as a "dip" as some dipsticks in the US do when they are first presented with a jar of Vegemite. If you use it as a "dip", then you will HATE it for the rest of your life and all of your future lives too. Forewarned you are.

What the hell does Vegemite have to do with today's post, and where the hell is Storytime with Unkie dave? Yes, I heard you ask that too. The answer is that you'll just have to wait till the recipe section, so there!

Storytime with Unkie dave:

Dave and a Lynx (note, this story involves bicycles, but it's not a "cycling blog thingy" so it's safe for normal folk)

Back in my youth in Alaska, I used to ride a mountain bike pretty much everywhere. Oh I can here you now, "But dave, mountain bikes weren't invented when you were a youth, sheesh, BIKES weren't even invented then!" So true, but the youth I refer to is my late 20's, so there.

This story takes place on one of my bicycle rides betwixt Squarebanks and Anchortown, 360 miles (side note: 30 hours on a fully loaded mountain bike, thank you very much). I was heading north with a friend of mine, Rich. Rich was also one of my fencing students, cycling bud, and racquetball partner.

We were getting close to Denali park, going uphill, beautiful sunny fall day, and we decided to take a break. Unfortunately, there was no place to take a break except for the shoulder of the road (8 foot wide shoulder, wee-hoo). So we leaned our bikes up against the guardrail and stretched out on the warm asphalted road shoulder. Did I mention it was in the middle of Touron (Tourist + Moron) season? Well, it was.

Imagine this: you are a couple of grey (gray) haired old geysers in a winnie-bago driving through Alaska on the trip of a lifetime and you see two cyclists stretched out on the shoulder of the road in the middle of nowhere. Naturally, you'd stop to see if the dummies are ok. MANY FUCKING HUNDREDS OF BLOODY GOOD SAMARITANS LATER, Rich and I decided to ride on and find a "quieter" place to stop. Fortunately, we found one.

Early the next morning (5 am) we were back on the bikes heading north --Shut Up! I'm getting to the Lynx!-- cus all the weiner-bago type Tourons were still asleep and we figured we'd have the road to ourselves. We were right.

Picture this: Dawn, clear sky, mountains all around, total silence (I know how to oil my chain). A hundred meters (metres, yards) up the road a large, four-legged, furry critter detaches itself from the bushes and warily stalks across the pavement.

At first you think it's a wolf, but then you notice the HUGE tufted ears (werewolf perhaps????) and high hindquarters. As you ride closer, two massive luminous eyes turn towards you and you see they aren't wolf eyes, but cat eyes. Gee, you didn't know cats are made that BIG. Four large furry paws pad silently across the road and disappear into the field you are approaching --the paws took the cat with them too.

As you ride pass the field you and your friend scan the meadow for any evidence of the BIG CAT's passing. You slow down to try to get a good look... Seeing nothing, you are just about to stop to have a better look... You happen to look down... You notice that less than 10 feet away from you in the underbrush are the two biggest eyes and the two biggest ears you've ever seen on a furry critter. You also notice the BIG CAT is hunched down, GETTING READY TO POUNCE!

That was the day that I learned how to REALLY sprint on a bicycle --Hell, Robbie McEwen could've learned a thing or two from us that day.

Ahhhh, good ole adrenaline and endorphins...

Ok, food time:

Remember all the stuff about Vegemite earlier? Well, this is called Olivemite. As much as I'd like to take credit for the name, I can't. A few months ago myself and The Most Wonderful Woman In The Entire World were driving through Mclaren Vale --it's a great place, over a hundred wineries right at the doorstep! Take a note, dave: blog about wineries soon.

Anyways, we stopped at an olive shop to get some specialty olives and we noticed they had a jar of something labeled Olivemite. It was fucking GREAT! Bought some --wee-hoo! Had a look at the ingredients later on and I thought to myself, "Shit, I can make that! And it won't cost much either."

So, here is how to make dave's Olivemite

What you need:

200 grams (just under a cup) of pitted Kalamata Olives***
1-2 heads roasted garlic
olive oil

*** Don't use regular black olives... It will taste like shit if you do --you've been warned

What you do:

This is simple. Chuck it all into a food processor and process it till it's done. The more olive oil you add the creamier it is.

Your taste buds will thank me for this one, guaranteed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

harder Yakka

Remember that post a while back Hard Yakka ? Well, this was the pic that was supposed to go with it:

Man, this hat stinks

See? That's me hard at work!

more later today

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Moose, Mooses, Meeses, Mices?

Alrighty all you liberal artsie degree type folk: what's the plural of Moose? I didn't do too well in liberal arts type classes (obviously), my forte (that's the *stiff* part of the blade) was much more the "hard sciences" type stuff. Not to say I'm not liberal or that I gots gunky grammar... Oh shit, this post is really starting to go NO WHERE.

Back to the drawing board --chalkboard in my day, we didn't have them thar fancy-dancy dry-erase doo-hickey thing-a-ma-bobies.

I have a shitload of stories to tell you from my university years (ahhhhh, 12 wonderful as an undergrad...D-Day would be proud) but I'll save them for later. Well, except for a quickie (wink) right now: I had four years of Petroleum Engineering... The more I learnt of "The Oil Patch" the more disgusted I became. The following statement should (hopefully) be the last political/opinion/worldview comment to appear here: All the bad crap you've heard about oil companies is all true, and the really bad stuff doesn't even make it out (I picture atv and snow-cat chases and machine guns on the tundra...). So I could not work in that industry despite the fact that I'd've been one of the best damned engineers around (provided I could get a cute secretary to write reports for me) and quite possibly the best damned whistle-blower around.

Enough of that CRAP! You didn't come here to read that shit, you came here to peer into the deep, dark, dank, disgusting recesses of dave's mind. Well hell, who am I to disappoint the huddled masses? Heeeeeerrrrrrreeeeeee we go!

I'm working on a fairly large post, it might span several entries and I won't bore you to death with the details. Suffice to say (if Harper Collins is reading this) it would make for a very entertaining read for the untold bored masses. Until then, you'll have to put up with my daily (not really) bullshit (yes really).

Remember how I told all you city folk that growing up in Alaska was "different"? Of course you do, after all it was just the last post. This is a Moose Story, and has nothing to do with bikes.

Story time with Unkie dave:

The first (of many) moose encounters with dave! --or at least the first one dave can remember.

Doug (my older brother) and I were on our way to school one fall day. I was 5 or 6 years old and he was 6 or 7 (I leave it to you to work out the math) and we were running late. We were running so late we were really RUNNING! Now, to get to the school the quick way required a run through the woods. These were not just any woods, mind you. These woods stretched hundreds of miles through the little ole Chugach Mountain Range (yes, I grew up in Anchorage, but at least then it was still Alaska!!!!!!). Doug and I normally didn't venture too far into the mountains though, and today was no exception as we were running late (did I mention that yet?).

The wild critters, however, had no qualms about venturing anywhere the woods were... (foreshadowing moment)

I was running like crazy to catch up with Doug (my older brother, in case you'd forgot) and as I rounded a bend in the path I ran smack into him. Fortunately, he didn't flinch when I ran into him (he's tough), cus if he had we'd've both been DEAD, KILLED, TRAMPLED into little, tiny, squishy, kid-sized splats on the trail.

There was a Mama Moose standing perpendicular (I learnt the word later on) on the trail and she was standing there right after a blind corner. Her calf (I learnt that word later too) was (thank every god, spirit, goddess, fairy, angel, you can think of) on the other side of her, so that Doug (my older brother) and I were not betwixt them.

So how close were we????? Keep in mind that mooses (see??? that's why I asked earlier!!!) weigh a LOT and are pretty fucking tall to little blokes... Put the palm of your hand on your nose, and focus on your fingers. THAT'S HOW CLOSE WE WERE TO HER BELLY!!!!! I kid you not. Picture two little (doug was taller than I --but not anymore) 5 and 6 year olds with their faces glued to the belly hair of a 1000+ pound mama moose with a calf.

The only thing that saved us from being turned into ground kid burger was the fact that we weren't between (betwixt) her and her calf.

Do I remember anything of that day at school? Not a chance in HELL! Suffice to say, I made it to school with clean skivvies --too scared to poop. Actually, I really don't remember anything at all school-teaching-type-wise for many years afterwards. I guess I could say it scarred me, eh? Either that or I just didn't give a rats ass about school at that point in my life... you decide!

Now on to the important things in life: Food!

I'm going to give you a biscuit recipe from an actual recipe book... No, wait. It's not *really* a recipe book. I'm assuming y'all are familiar with the works of Patrick McManus. Oh good, you are. Funny bloke, ain't he? Anywho, I have a very well worn copy of Whatchagot Stew that I peruse (read) every now and then --side note: my old fart has his McManus books autographed by McManus, and yes, his sister really is a Troll.

There is one thing I always change --I don't use shortening. Very very very very bad stuff for you (more about that later). I substitute butter in this recipe. Oh, I also use half milk and half sourdough starter sometimes.

Baking Powder Biscuits:

What you knead (need):

2 cups (473 mls) flour
1 tbsp (15 mls) sugar --I use raw sugar
4 tspn (20 mls) baking POWDER
1 teaspoon salt --use sea salt, 'k
1/2 cup (125 mls) slightly softened butter --this was shortening in the original
1 beaten egg --remember, a chook egg, not an emu egg
2/3 cup (150 mls) milk --you can use skim if you'd like... Heathen scum

What you do:

In a bowl (duh) combine and mix the dry stuff. Then cut in the slightly softened butter with the tines of a fork until the mixture appears granulated (cool word, eh?). Remember dave's easy way to soften butter? Just leave it out of the fridge! Mix the egg and the milk (and beat the egg some more just cus it's fun), then add to the bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon*.

Knead the very soft dough on a floured surface (add more flour if kneaded (needed)) and then roll out to around 3/4 inch (1.905 cm) thick. Cut out rounds with whatever circular cookie cutter is handy --I just use an upturned glass, very easy.

Put 'em on a baking tray close together and bake for 12-15 mins at 210 C (410 F) or until they are done.

These biscuits are PERFECT for "Biscuits and Gravy". If I have to tell you how to make gravy then I knead to do a "remedial" cooking post.

*Poll: how many wooden spoons do you have in your kitchen, and do you use them all routinely? See, now that I've got some readers I can start asking questions** of y'all!

**dave's poll answer: I have 12 wooden spoons of various shapes and sizes in MY kitchen, and they are all used regularly --none of 'em for spanking kids.

And now back to our normally scheduled program... No, not really as I don't watch much telly. But I can tell you kiddies to hang tight and stay tuned as the first of many wasp stings will happen to dave --or at least a young dave.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Another Sick Puppy

So have you ever had one of those sinus infections where you can breath but the pressure in your sinus cavity is poised to pop your eyeballs out, you think that at any moment weird alien gunk is going to start spurting out your ears, you're not hungry cus of all the post-nasal crap you've been swallowing all day, you take more than your alloted two naps, you're coughing up bloody phlegm, there's putrid green gunk leaking out of every orifice? You have? Holy shit! You'd better get in to see a doctor! Damn, mine isn't nearly that bad.

Actually, I felt like I was going to die this morning. However, a long, hot, steamy shower sure did help. 3 cups of echinacea tea and a shitload of vit C later and I'm fairly functional today --The New Dave: Fairly Functional!!

But I did take more than my share of naps this morning and afternoon; I'm been taking napping lessons from the panther so I've learned from the master.

I've been slack in my posting, but that should be over now (fingers crossed as he blows more crap outta his nose).

I've got a story for you! But before you get the story (oh the suspense dave), I've got an Alaskan/Aussie thingy do for you to peruse (that's fancy language meaning "read it, damnit").

MOSQUITOS (they're called mossie's down here --remember, aussie like to truncate and shorten words).

An Aussie Mossie:

Ah yes, the gentle, benign flying insect that might have the temerity to try to harvest your blood. Such a little thing... Hardly a buzzing sound at all, tentatively flying around you wondering if you'd be receptive to it's advances. So delicate, so little... Even the prick from it's probiscus is dainty and only itches for an hour --heck it hardly even swells up. Sigh... the harmony of nature at her finest.

KA-BOOM!!!! (dave, make sure you insert some cool music here) The heavens open up, lightning forks across the sky, thunder rolls over the serene setting... "Oh My God," exclaim nature's harmonious masses, "What is happening?"

The mighty wingbeats of The Creature cause a sonic boom on each down beat, every time a leg touches down a mountain is crushed, roos flee for their lives, cow's are drained in a single slurp... Yes, a newly hatched baby Alaskan Mosquito has arrived down under.

It's flightpath is modeled and jumbo jet-liners are routed hundreds of miles away, lest each of the 500 passengers turn into an appetizer for the Beast Insect From Hell.


Wouldn't that make for a great 1950ish sci-fi movie? Hell, I'd pay to watch.

To sum up: Aussie Mossie's are wusses, and Alaskan Mosquitos will kill you and fly away with your dehydrated carcass.

Story time with Unkie Dave:

The story of why dave's face looks like it does.

dave was maybe 4 years old at the time. Now keep in mind that back in those days kids pretty much watched themselves, no one had heard of personal injury lawsuits, and kids were kids. Also keep in mind that Alaska was your backyard (or at the foothills of the mountains you lived next to.

So, kids could BE kids growing up in Alaska a hundred years ago (give or take a few decades).

Doug --dave's older brother by 15 months-- was riding through the "neighborhood" with his friends. dave (Doug's younger brother by 15 months) did not want to get left behind AGAIN, so he was pedaling as fast as his wee little legs could go. Training wheels??? Ha, you've GOT to be joking, right?

dave was not looking where he was going (this trend continues for a loooooong time). All of a sudden, by accident, (thanks Arlo) dave's front tire hits a big ole rock in the middle of the street. dave flies through the air for a long time (I don't remember this part) and lands face first on the pavement (I don't remember that part either) and leaves a bloody big bloody streak on the street. Actually there were three as I must have tried to catch myself with my hands before my face hit (it didn't work).

Apparantly my brother or one of his friends was either looking back or (more likely) heard me screaming. Again, no recollection of this from dave either.

The next thing I remember was sobbing on the phone to my mommy that I'd hurt myself. I'm sure Doug must've dialled mom at work, but I really don't know. Was this dave's first concussion? Probably not, but we'll go with this being the first as I can remember part of it.

Next thing I remember is getting stitched up at the doctors office. How did I get there? Beats the hell out of me, but boy I was getting stitches EVERYWHERE! My chin, both cheeks (face cheeks dummy), forehead, and a big ole bandage type thing on my nose and on my hands. I must've looked like Frankenstein's monster for a while. I'm sure both eyes were black too.

Fortunately, they were the kind that dissolve on their own and little kids tend to grow fairly quickly at that age, so (believe it or not) no lasting scars! Heck, I've even had someone tell me I'm handsome now (she was drunk, or maybe I was...).

Did dave learn anything? Not a chance in HELL! Oh, wait, I do go over the handlebars a little more gracefully these days --but, yes, I do still go over the handlebars.

Coming soon to story time with Unkie dave: dave and the moose, dave and the wasp, dave and the hatchet, dave and the wasp, dave and the wolverine, dave and the wasp, dave and a bike, dave and a wasp, dave and another bike, dave and more moose, dave and the lynx, dave and the wasp. This list will continue indefinitely as I had a GREAT childhood, in fact some folks would say I'm still having a great childhood, wee-hoo!

Food time!

Dave's dolmades

Yeah, I know, there are probably more ways to make dolmades and more things to stuff em with than you can shake a dick --oops, I really meant stick, damned keyboard-- at. But I feel I might as well tell you the way I make mine and you could give it a go if you'd like.

Oh, dolmades are stuffed grape vine leaves.

What you need:

15-20 vine leaves (fresh is best, pick em early!)
one clove of garlic
1/2 cup (4 oz) raw rice (any long grained variety is fine, I use Basmati)
2 tbspns crushed peanuts (already salted and roasted and shelled)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2-5 mls) dried mint
2-5 mls (1/2 to 1 tsp) dried tarragon
1 scallion (spring onion) including the green part up top
2-4 tbspns (30-60 mls) minced onion
olive oil
2 to 3 cups of chicken stock (or veggie stock if that's your preference)
1 tbsp of couscous (or some kind of tiny, round pasta)

What you do:

I'm going to describe the whole process of preparing the vine leaves, if you only can get your hands on the canned or bottled variety then you can skip down a bit.

Pick 15 to 20 vine leaves from the vine growing over your pergola outside your kitchen window (anyone jealous?). Note, when picking, snip then right at the leaf base so there's no stem at all. Rinse them well. Lay them flat in a steamer, one on top of the other. Steam them till they just turn from bright green to olive drab.

Before the leaves dry, lightly brush each leaf with olive oil, being careful not to tear them, and stack them on a plate. You'll use a fair amount of olive oil here, be generous.

After all the leaves are oiled let them cool.

While they are cooling, prepare the stuffing.

Fry the minced onion in olive oil for 3 to 4 mins, then add the crushed peanut, the couscous, the scallion, the mint, the tarragon, and more olive oil and fry for another minute. Keep it moving (easily done with a wok, just give it a good shake and flip every 10-20 secs).

Add the raw rice and more olive oil and fry again for 3-4 mins. Keep it moving, folks. You'll know the rice is ready when it goes from translucent white to opaque white (yes, it's still crunchy and sorta raw at this point). Set the mixture aside and let it cool.

Place a vine leaf flat with the "rough" side up. Place a SMALL amount of the stuffing (we're talking barely more than a teaspoon --remember, the rice and couscous are gonna swell up) towards the base of the leaf. Fold the left and right sides over, then roll up towards the tip. The bundle should seal itself with olive oil. Place the bundle in an oiled (olive) baking dish. Continue till you run out of stuffing or vine leaves.

Oh, last night I had leftover stuffing mix, so I made a great crab sauce with it to go on top of the steamed blue whiting (it's a fish).

Once your baking dish is packed, slowly pour the chicken stock (or veggie stock, or fish stock)) over the bundles until they are just about covered. Cover and bake at 185 C (365 F) for 30 mins. You'll know they are done when the leaves are very very tender, they plumped up nicely, and there's almost no stock left.

Carefully take them out of the dish. No, don't tear em! Didn't I tell you to be careful? Put em on a plate to let cool (pack them together) and lightly brush with more olive oil. Once they are cool you can handle them without tearing so turn em over after they are cool, cover with cling wrap and let them sit overnight.

Eat and enjoy! Oh, did I mention they are very healthy?

I know it seems like a lot of work, but after a couple of go's it's pretty simple.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rose Tint My World

No, this post has nothing to do with Rocky Horror (ahhh, those were the days...) but knowing me it could easily degenerate into something along those lines.

Where was I??? Ah, right! The roses out front are blooming already, very cool. Blood red ones, white ones, pink ones, light red ones, yellow ones. All looking nice and purdy and aphid-free. I did prune them late this winter (HA! you call that winter!) but, well hell, everything grows down here.

Panther update: The black-furred, fanged, horned, winged, beastie is now all better. We were woken up at 1:30 am this morning for the Dawn Patrol to commence --he's got a couple of days to make up. Had to get one last pill shoved down his throat this morning, but the blood loss wasn't too bad this thyme (gee, why am I so light-headed today?)

I've noticed that my last few recipes haven't been "CookBook" type. So today, for those of you still learning your way around the kitchen, I'll be putting in an actual real recipe with amounts and ingredients lists. And... It'll be a dessert! And it'll be bloody well EASY.

But until I get to the recipe section, you get to put up with some totally non-connected crapola from me.

I was thinking of writing down (typing in) a list of all the wild critters I've seen both in Alaska and Australia, but then I realized (realised) I'd better take a few days over that list cus it's going to be f*cking huge! Ever seen a Lynx in the wild? They are very very pretty. Wolverines are very pretty too. Oh, moose tastes good, so does roo. Ever seen a huge male Orca come up behind your little boat and do the open-mouthed Jaws thing? Wee-Hoo, what fun.

So, then like, WHAT the hell am I going to type so that this doesn't turn into a gardening and food blog...? Aha (said Martin Gardener), I'll tell all you big city folk stories about growing up and living in Alaska.

Story time with Unkie Dave!

How to breed a better moose

A good friend of mine used to live in his cabin in the outskirts of Salcha. A moment about Salcha: if you were (or are) a city bloke and drove past it you wouldn't even know it's there (except for the Knotty Shop). So being on the outskirts of it means: in the middle of fucking nowhere.

He also hunted (he also fenced, but not as good as me) and fished and trapped and all that Alaskany goodness. He would bring over moose meat or salmon fillets and I'd cook it and eat it. Worked great.

One day during moose season, he saw a moose that would feed him for the winter. He was a ways away and his rifle was new (but he had sighted it in). First shot kicks up the dirt in front of the moose; moose continues doing NOTHING. Second shot missed but was closer; moose looks up, looks around, then continues doing NOTHING. Now, Andrew is a good shot so I'm guessing the sighting was off. Third shot, miss, but closer. The moose has done NOTHING! Three loud rifle shots...

So the fourth shot did a HUGE FAVOR TO THE MOOSE GENE POOL in the Tanana Valley. Oh, and it tasted good too.

I know, the story wasn't really about me, but I still chuckle about that dumb moose. I have many many wildlife encounter stories involving me and huge furry things that don't like people. Oh, and no more of them involve guns cus I've never carried one in the wilds of Alaska (I'd definitely want one in a big city in the lower 48 though.)

Coming up next on storytime: dave's first bicycle encounter --or-- Why dave's face looks like it does and why he's used to blood loss and why he know's exactly how hard pavement is (you can learn a lot when you are five years old).

Food time:

This is a dessert. See! I remembered that I promised you a dessert! There's still a couple of brain cells left to rub together up in the ole noggin.

Butternut pumpkin and ice cream

What you need:

one butternut pumpkin
some vanilla ice cream (homemade is best)
some type of grill

What you do:

Slice the raw butternut into inch thick slabs leaving the skin on --save the seeds, great for roasting. Put the slabs on the grill over a good bed of coals, NO FLAME. They'll take about 20-30 mins each side. You'll know they are done when each slab is very soft and nicely browned on each side (that's just the sugar in the pumpkin --very tasty).

Place each slice in a bowl and remove the skin. Oh, the skin helps it hold together as it gets softer and softer while grilling. Top each slab with a generous amount of vanilla ice cream (chocolate or other flavours don't taste as good) and then consume immediately while the pumpkin is still hot and the ice cream hasn't fully melted.

That recipe is a dave original, feel free to share it, no worries. It's damned good tucka.

Unkie dave signing off

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

One Sick Puddy

I know, I know... Y'all think it's a typo in the title since by (buy) now you are all sure I'm "One Sick Puppy"... But no! there is a sick puddy-tat in residence down here.

Before I tell you about how sick he is, I feel that I should clear up something about the title in yesterdays (uploaded today) post. Now, those of you down under obviously know about Hard Yakka, but it strikes me (3 times! I'm out!) that you folks up in that "other" hemisphere may not know what I'm talking about. Hell, even more so than normal.

Yakka means "bloody hard work, mate. Pass me that stubbie." So you can see that "Hard Yakka" means "Really fuckin' bloody-well hard work". NOW does it all make sense?

Back to the story (ramble):

The cat has been listless for two days now... I actually noticed it 1.895 days ago when he didn't want to go outside on the roof and kick the shit out of the neighbors cat that had the temerity to intrude. Ok... Let's see: Massive black panther with 2 inch fangs and inch long claws that goes on the prowl at 3:02 am every morning precisely 2 minutes after waking me up by telling me of the latest burglar dismembering (fortunately, my cavedude background enables me to not only chuck the panther out, but also to get those nasty blood stains out of the sheets), check. Massive black panther who eats 10 pounds of raw kibbles a day, check. Massive black panther who jumps the 8 foot fence and terrorises the school next door, check. Massive black panther who frightens us all when he starts purring cus we think it's thunder, check.

Well now... It's amazing how a little thing can get a panther down. I knew there was something wrong when I didn't feel 100 pounds of fur on my tummy the other day. Hmmm, cat doesn't want to do anything and curls up in cat-cave. Cat pouts all day. Something's WRONG with the cat!

Vet checks him out (while wearing rhino hide shoulder length gloves) and here's what the verdict is: The cat pulled a muscle in his back! Yes folks, one two (too) many headlong dives off the balcony has rendered the huge murderous beastie into a whimpering "help me", tame, puddy-tat. Even more amazing is that he is almost six. He was born on All-Hallows-Eve --explains a LOT! and is just coming into middle-age. So what happens? His back goes bung! Oh can I relate...

But, he's all better now. My arms, legs, and chest are all bandaged up and I should have full use of all my limbs soon (someone's gotta hold him while a pill is shoved down his throat). I guess All's Well That End's Well, or some such crap.

Coming up next after this break: FOOD!!!

Cornbread --and lots of varieties thereof!

Now, basic cornbread is very simple, very quick, and very tasty. I'll give you a VERY basic cornbread recipe first, and then I'll give you a whole sh*tload of ways you can make that thar loaf taste amazin'. Koo-all, I can type with an accent.

So, firstly, a basic, bland cornbread (like my use of commas?)

What you need:

1 cup (237 mls) flour
1 cup (238 mls) cornmeal (or polenta)
2 tbspns (30 mls) raw sugar
1 tbspn (15 mls) baking powder
1 splat of softened butter --note, to soften butter just leave it out of the fridge, duh. Oh, one dave splat is exactly 16.3141592654 mls
enough water or milk to make a sticky dough

What you do:

Chuck into a bowl the first four things. Mix em well. Then work the butter into the dry mixture with the tines of a fork. Then add H2O (water) or milk till it's a sticky dough (use a wooden spoon here, you can ditch the fork now). Put it into a buttered breadpan and bake for 30-40 mins at around 180 C (360 F). When it tests done, well then it probably is.

NOW THEN: How to REALLY make cornbread!

Start with the above recipe, mainly the first 5 things (that means everything except the liquid stuff).

Cornbread #1) Add an egg to the H2O or milk

Cornbread #2) Add some dried chili (chilli for you UK folks) flakes before adding the liquid stuff

Cornbread #3) Add some diced cheddar cheese b4 adding liquid stuff

Cornbread #4) Add some cooked corn kernals b4 adding liquid

Cornbread #5) Cook some bacon. Crumble cooked bacon into cornbread mix b4 adding liquid

Cornbread #6) Use the rendered bacon fat in the liquid --very very very tasty

Cornbread #7) Use sourdough starter in place of the water or milk Make a note, dear readers, many many many good thing to do with sourdough starter (and even how to make the initial batch)

Cornbread #8) Chuck in any kind of seasoning you want

The possibilities are endless! BTW if you combine #1 through #8 inclusively, then you get a real kick-ass cornbread.

Do any of you young whipper-snappers remember the ole joke from geometry class? No? Well, I thought naught (not). It goes like this:

"Pssst," you say while nudging your buddy (or buddette) in the ribs. "What's the formula for the area of a circle?"
"Dummy," he/she/it says, "it's pi r square."
Then you look incredously at him/her/it and say, "No! Pie are round. Cornbread are square."

Ummm, I guess you had to be there...

Over and Out, time to go look for a panther on the prowl.


Hard Yakka

Me Old Fart says: "Everyone has to work." I do feel that before this goes any further at all, I should explain a term or two.

I have two (2) Old Farts... Hoo-boy, this one could get ugh-ah-lee

The ole ancient piece of cr*p (rose food) computer sitting unused on the desktop of The Most Wonderful Woman In The Entire World is always referred to as "The Old Fart". Ahh, the 'puter you morons. DON'T get me in trouble --if y'all put me in the doghouse then not only am I going to have to hang out in it, but I'm going to have to make it first. Hey! That could be cool! Jacuzzi, hot taps, cold beer fridge, dee-lucks mattress... Dang, this sounds pretty cool! Ok, off to the doghouse with me, wee-hoo.

The other term for Non-young Gaseous Disturbance is me pappy. Yes, I call my father "The Old Fart", and guess what? He likes it (but he doesn't eat his wheaties). His Harley has the license plate GREYPOWER --I think he's converted it to a trike now. When he still had his race car I was really hoping he'd name it OLD FART but that didn't happen.

As you may have guessed, the Old Fart and I get along quite well (especially since I never plug it in --whoops, wrong old fart).

He really has said, many many many many many times, "Dave, everyone has to work."

Sooo, without any further ado, here's a pic of me hard at work:

(This pic will not appear since every single time I try to upload a pic to blogger the connection time's out. In fact this in now the fourth time I've tried to upload the text version)

Dang, this hat STINKS (this caption would have made much more sense with the pic)

(This whole damn post would've made more sense with the pic).

On with a RECIPE!

This one (1) isn't food, sorry. I know y'all folks from the future who are perusing my wonderful archives would like to see another beautiful, stunning, aromatic Dave Creation (I won't mention anything about looking in the toilet), but I thought I'd do a pubic (oops) health service recipe instead.

Accchhh, it burnssss ussss

Anyone who has ever let themselves (yup, it's our own damn fault) get sunburned jump up on one leg right... about.... NOW! Whoa! Cool, the tide just turned!

In all seriousness (yeah, right, dave) there is a surefire cure for sunburn so that you don't peel, you don't hurt, and it's a nice tan colour (color). Would you like to know what it is? Awwww, you're so cute down there on your knees begging... rollover... play dead... fetch...

As much as I would like to take credit for this, I can't. The credit goes to The Most Wonderful Woman In The Entire World. Here it is:

Lightly rub in aloe vera juice. NOT aloe vera cream! The creamy concoctions are loaded with cr*p. Just the plain (plane) juice. You can get it at any health shop.

Next, rub in rosehip oil (straight outta the bottle) till your skin won't take anything up no more.

Lastly, rub on some sort of moisterizer (like Cetaphil or Sorbital) to "seal" the surface so the aloe vera and rosehip oil doesn't evaporate out.

Ahem... THAT'S IT!

I take Visa, M/C and PayPal; thank you very much.

Oh, remember: Folate daily!


Ummm, that's Folate, not Foliate

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tranks and Yanks

AAAAHHHHHHHIIIIIGGGGGGHHHHH!!! There, now that I have your attention... I woke up with a rather odd sensation betwixt me shoulder blades this morning. No, I lie: I didn't notice it till I tried to move out of the damn bed!

I'm sure y'all're familiar with the Johnny Cash song Sunday Morning Sideways, but take that pain and put it right to the left of my right shoulder blade. Hey, word game: let me switch the left and right and see where the pain ends ups... Here we go: take the pain and put it left to the right of my left shoulder blade... HEY! Whaddya know! My back is asymmetrical! Ha, it's just a trick of grammar and math cus after having seen the x-rays of my back I know for sure that it's not symmetrical (and I knew for sure I didn't want a pickle --thanks Arlo).

Nonetheless (allthemore????) I decided to face the day. Checked to see if the stain on mum-in-laws chair was dry (I stained the wood I used to repair it, dummy), it was. So I put the rocking chair all back together again (didn't need help from the king's horses and men) and brought it inside. Hmmmm, nope, pulled muscle in back still hurts.

Next up, I bounded up the stairs and did my push-ups. Note, I try to do 5 pushups at the top of the stairs each time I go up them. On a normal day (at least normal for me), I'll do at least 100 or so. Nope, back still hurts, damn.

Plop my lazy ass in front of the 'puter and see if I have any readers yet... Nope, no comments from y'all --I know you are out there, I can see you in the dark depths of cyberspace. Damn, back still hurts.

Ok, let out the dawn patrol (vicious black panther with 2 inch fangs goes out on the roof), make tea and coffee, water everything, set up some vids to dub to dvd, sit on the toilet (oops, you may not have needed to know that). Nope, damn, back still hurts --especially during the wiping part.

Get on with the day, hoping the ultra-strenuosityness of my day will loosen it up. Nope, damn, back still hurts.

Ok, time for some chemical warfare... Let us see, if memory serves me right (thanks, Kaga), then copious amounts (that means a sh*tload) of C2H5OH administered orally for a few hours (get your HEAD out of the gutter) acts as a powerful muscle relaxant.


















Hey! Whad'ya know! It works! No more pain, and as a bonus, I got rid of all the rest of those pesky brain cells. Weee-hooo!

Time to set up the hammock for the season, it's 82 outside (in the shade) so I think the jacket can stay inside. Springtime down here is very nice... I'm getting pretty darned acclimated as we don't even bother with the a/c till it's over 100. Boy am I getting tan! Plenty of folate protects the skin too. Oh, BTW if any of you (3, maybe 4, by now) need a surefire cure for sunburn just let me know.

Edit: We, the revered Iolian translators, would like to take this opportunity to remind the huddled masses that dave's readership was SIGNIFICANTLY lower at the time of this writing than the untold trillions nowadays.

I due believe I promised y'all one of my most revered recipes... Never one to forget my promises:

Dave's long-awaited, long-promised, extra-special, deliciously yummy, highly fattening (not really), cinnamon bread recipe!

Here's what you need:

3 eggs (you know, the kind chooks lay, NOT Emus)
1 3/4 cups sugar (a cup is pretty darned close to 250 ml --237ml if you care)
1 cup olive oil (extra virgin gives it a slightly bitter taste, just use a regular virgin)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract (real or imitation, it don't matter --except the price)
2 tablespoons (30 ml --although if you are in the UK it'd be 40ml) orange juice
3 cups flour (NOT self-rising!!! Duh) ummm, that's 750 mls for those of you who can't
multiply 250 ml x 3
1 teaspoon salt (5 ml)
1 teaspoon (see above) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (a bit more than 1 ml) baking powder
2 teaspoons (10 ml) cinnamon powder (mmmmm, yummy --and healthy!!)
1/2 cup sultanas (raisins) or nuts (Heck, use both and however much you want! Walnuts are great!)

Here's what you do:

Beat eggs until light, add the sugar and whisk the heck out of it (you can cheat and use mechanical assistance, but it's much more fun with just a whisk).

Stir in the olive oil, vanilla and orange juice, mix WELL.

Chuck in all the dry ingredients while stirring (you'll have tossed the whisk in favor of a wooden spoon by this point).

Add the sultanas and nuts then mix again (same wooden spoon works fine here).

You should have a fairly thick (not as thick as cookie dough, though) batter (and it tastes yummy at this point too).

Turn the batter into two greased and floured breadpans and then bake them suckers at around 190 C (375 F) for about 50 minutes (3000 seconds) or until the bread tests done (tap it, skewer it, or however you like to test bread).

Slice it up and serve! Great with butter or melted cheddar cheese. It's best hot, and it nukes well for reheating a slice or two.

See? Sea!? C! I really can cook.

Enjoy your day everyone,

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Captain Caveman!

And Lo-Behold, came the booming voice from above: Go Forth and be Handy! And the dudes were Handy, and it was good. But then, a Bad Thing happened... Dudes started to lose their Handiness, and the Handy jean (gene) was no longer passed down from father to (illigitimate) son... And the world saw their Handiness being threatened, and some brave, kind, Handy soul would have to step up to the plate (or wicket), and bring Handiness again to a world long bereft of a Handy Dude. Lo, I am that Dude: I am Handy. No worries, mate, pass me that stubbie.*

*excerpt from the book of dave, found 1232 ad (after dave) in a musty garage buried under power tools on a long abandoned planet-- translation by a select team of revered Ionian scholars.

So, like, in case you hadn't guessed, I am Handy. Hell, I even have all my fingers despite my natural curiosity.

Do you wanna know why? Would you like some examples? 'Course you do. Read on!

--Note: read the following in a caveman type voice (you know, the stereotypical hollywood kind), it'll be much more fun, promise. Oh, don't forget to add the grunts intermintantly--

Family want spend money for step-stool. Dave make step-stool instead. We all happy.

Gutters need cleaning. Dave clean gutters. Dave find leaky, rusted out gutter. Dave fix gutter.

Family need new shelf unit. Dave make shelf unit.

'Puter software barfing. Dave reconfigure software to make it work.

Deck railing rotten. Dave replace railing.

Carpet stained. Dave shampoo carpet.

Data from 13 year old hard drive on puter that doesn't work needs rescuing. Dave rescue data.

Sleepers (railroad ties) in garden landscape sliding down. Dave shore up and fix and make look pretty.

Mom's chair broke. Dave fix.

Need stand for new keyboard. Dave make keyboard stand.

'Puter printers jacking around. Dave take sledgehammer from fixing sleepers and fixes printers.

Logs need choping. Dave chop logs.

Cave clan hungry. Dave cook. and cook... and cook... and cook some more...

Tree branches dangerous. Dave climb tree and lop branches --then Dave chop wood.

Water all over bathroom. Dave fix sink drain with plumbing scillz.

Leak in roof. Dave fix leak. Dave go into roof crawl space with spiders and take up wet insulation and put down fresh insulation.

Bike needs repair. Dave fix.

Other bike needs repair. Dave fix.

Other other bike needs repair. Dave fix.

Other other other bike needs repair. Dave fix.

Other other other other bike needs repair. Dave fix.

Other other other other other bike needs repair. Dave too fucking tired of bikes to care.

Family needs driven somewhere (like driving dave insane). Dave dutifully drive family.

This list can go on, but I think y'all get the idea: I am Handy! Woof! Grrr!

on with the food:

Hey, I promised ya last time: fun (and legal) things to do with a steamer. I do sometimes keep a promise (full respect to Ornela Mutti), you can trust me twice.

I am not going to go in to all the health advantages of using a steamer (well, actually I might in one or two places, sorry), but I will tell you a lot of cool things you can use a steamer for (I'll stay with the food related ones though).

Firstly; Bamboo or metal? Well, they are both cheap and they are both readily available. The downside to bamboo is that (in my humble opinion) it's harder to clean and if you aren't careful after a while the bamboo steamer can give the food a rather, well, "soapy" flavour (flavor). The downside to a metal one is that if you go cheap you could end up with aluminium (aluminum) one (Alzheimers anybody????). Soooo, stainless steel it is! With a lid too (duh). Try to get a 3 (three) tier one if you can.

Secondly; What can you steam? The question should actually be, "What CAN'T you steam?" I'll give you steamy (nothing x-rated though) recipes in later posts.

Fish and veggies are pretty obvious and standard things that leap to mind when most folks think of a steamer. And those folks'd be right.

How's about the steamer water in the pan under the steamer (assuming you have a stove-top variety)? If you've been steaming veggies, then you now have a panful of great veggie stock; use it wisely. The same applies for fish (I hope you'd've figured that one out on your own, but just in case...); it makes a great start to a fish chowder (foreshadowing: stay tuned for a chowder recipe!!!!). So make sure you're steamer pan is clean cus you'll want to use the water from it. You can also start sauces with it to have with the same meal --be creative.

I can hear you now: "Well shit, dave. I already have a steamer, and I use it. What good is this crap gonna do me when I know it already?" Damned good question Mrs Foul-mouthed dudette. Please note my use of gender equality, gotta gives the gals their equal share, eh?

Two things to steam you may not (or just plain "may") know:

1) Cauliflower greens. Yeah, you know, the crappy fugly lookin' outer leaves you callously rip away and toss out when you are preparing a cauliflower for sacrifice to the Great God Gastro. I've got knews (news) for you: RINSE 'EM AND STEAM EM!!!! The have a cabbagey flavor when steamed, but much better than cabbage. They are great and very highly nutritious.

2) Broccoli stems. Uh-huh, you read that right. After you cut the "flowers" off a broccoli, DON'T toss that stem. Slice them lengthwise till they are about asparagus size. The easy way to do this is first slice one lengthwise, then lay a half flat side down and cut it again. Continue till it's the size you want. Once they are steamed the taste much like asparagus, only BETTER! Top with dave's special Hollandaise sauce (I find the lime juice and tarragon variation suites my pallet (the fleshy one in my mouth, not the wooden ones in the garage).

Next post coming up will have a real kick-ass recipe! Every single time I make this for friends (or enemies, or anenomes) I always get asked for the recipe. So I have decided to put pen to paper (how the hell am I going to get the ink off the damn screen now??) and inform the ignorant masses of one of dave's "most requested recipes".

There! That outta hold ya, eh?

Outta here,

Oh, yeah: Clan cold. Dave make fire.