October 27, 2009
Check out Jimmy... just soakin' up the essence of the fall in the serene calm of Laughry Creek.
Got a lot of great shots on my birthday day trip starting with the early morning drive over to Darian's. The morning sunrise lit the sky in a dramatic display that I could best describe as beautiful pollution :)
We put into Laughry and did 16 awesome miles of some rapid moving water. I think it was running about 1.5 and it was definitely some fun water all the way down with two very small portage points from some fallen trees.
I was home by 5:30 or so to change the oil in the truck, meet the inlaws and have cake with the family. Another year down and I still believe less is more. No gifts or anything complicated, just a quick outing to air out the brain, then back to roll around with the kids and eat some wonderful wife food. Aside from thinking about an eminent vasectomy, life is good.
October 23, 2009
Here are some real nice shots of the wine cellar taken by my friend, Jim Kinker.
Here's just a little business in the wine cellar around the end of summer. All these pics were taken by my friend, Jimmy Kinker. Since I'm never in my own pics, I really dig it when he comes over on Thursdays and takes great pics of the goin's on.
Jim has a new found interest in the elderberry wine... maybe because he has access to a lot of real good ones! Together, we've rustled up enough berries to make a solid 10 gallons this year. Even after that, we had our "apple smash" that gave enough juice to make 20 gallons of apple wine.
As we nestle down for the winter, we can kick back and feel good that we truly harnessed the essence of the summer and fall this year, and we have the bounty to prove it.
I hope you and your family are maximizing your enjoyment of the present.
October 18, 2009
300 lbs of Syrah grapes pressed into pure magic. It was Syrah Specter!
A visit to Dave and Sara's made for a great food, wine and friendship experience. It's almost as if the fall saw us coming and gave a couple beautiful days to accomplish the tasks at hand. The pressing at the Specters was a good primer for the smash at the Kinkers.
After a very organized process or pressing the Syrah and getting it under airlock, great lasagna, jalepeno poppers and couple fine Pinots were on hand! I very much enjoyed myself as I helped a friend and knocked another notch in my knowledge post
All said and done, let not the most important bit of knoledge be forgotten. There's all kinds of ways to get the juice out of your media at hand. When you're dealing with grapes, you gently press. When you deal with apples, you violently destroy! In both cases, the end product is something to be hailed, enjoyed and most importantly, shared.
October 18, 2009
The first annual "Apple Smash" yielded 47 gallons of cider and a few hours of great fun among our family and friends.
The word for this weekend is most certainly "extraction" - that is, getting the juice from what mother nature has given us. Gently pressing, or violently smashing, it's all good. On Saturday, I helped the Specters press their grapes in Dave's refurbished grape press. On Sunday, we did our "1st Annual Apple Smash" using the cider press my dad refurbished but never got to use. Many years later, it finally did it's maiden smash. Two truckloads of green, red and yellow apples, a dedicated cart, wash, cut and smash crew, and we have 47 gallons of liquid gold. Everyone took home more then enough, and I have enough left to make 20 gallons of apple wine... and 5 gallons of Apple Jack.
Thanks to Dave and Sara Specter, Mark and Tracy Webster, Libby, the kids and my wonderful wife Susan. Special thanks to the Kinkers for providing the beautiful venue, the means, and some mysteriously good coconut curry soup.
With a week of gloomy, dank, cold rainy weather a week before, and a frost the night before, it turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL day and a perfect end to a summer with a very strange crop cycle. I look forward to doing it again next year!
October 08, 2009
I missed HighEd Web this year. But, I didn't *really* miss it. Here's the classic web 2.0 scenario where by following the tweets and rants of attendees and checking out the online presentations of the speakers, you pretty much get the ideas for free :) Lemme see... it's my guess that someone named Jared put on a REALLY bad presentation? Sorry buddy... I really do sympathize.
Innersync also had Steve Williams representing and his debriefing was a really positive one. We don't think of HighEd as a mechanism to net new customers. Sure, we go as sponsors, with a booth, but we never expect to walk out with a signed contract. We look at it as more of an opportunity to talk to customers, attend the sessions and stay on top of the latest trends.
Campusuite again turned heads because of the new features we've introduced since the 2008 HighEd conference. Most of those features were a direct response to the woes and needs of the people we spoke to last year. Like many products, our product evolves via the needs of our customers. "Less, really is more." I say it so much, co-workers roll their eyes. But when we set you up a demo and let you in to kick the tires, you immediately begin see how these tools let you do stuff... fast! You do it in a clean, easy-to-understand system and that's really what it all boils down to.
Steve caught up with several Campusuite customers, including Xavier University and Ross University and got some good feedback. He also, again met up with old colleagues that we look forward to seeing at each years conference. New partnerships were discovered and the latest ideas in the collegiate arena were shared. This is big for us, because now we have a pocket-full of new direction. We will more responsibly leverage the social movement, take a second look at customer and application security, and always keep the customers experience in mind. Each year, HighEd truly allows us to fill up with what ails the collegiate customer the most. And there's what drives us towards the next years conference.
After this years visit, we confirmed we're on the right path. We have a solid product that provides a positive experience, a well-documented support site, a base of loyal users driven by the desire to build a better web site. We want to thank our loyal patrons and partners and we look forward to a bright and prosperous future.
October 04, 2009
Here's my collection before seasoning. Notice the grey finish? As cast iron becomes seasoned, it turns black and the surface becomes smooth like glass. That's the sign of a natural non-stick surface.
I have all kinds of cast iron. Today, I decided it was time to clean and re-season all of it. There are a few key pieces that sit on my stove top and I've decided that it was time to break out some additional pieces. Particularly, a nice sauce pan with a lid and a double dutch oven (for lack of a better term). In all, there were two No. 8 skillets, a No 14 skillet (yeah, the big daddy) two waffle irons, two regular dutch ovens, the double dutch oven, an egg poacher, a cornbread pan, a muffin pan, and a star-shaped muffin pan. There was a sauce pan and lids for about each of them! I really needed another oven, or two, for the task. My oven was working at 250 degrees all day.
Anyone who cooks with cast-iron can never turn back. I'm ready to ditch everything else I have and commit to cast-iron cooking! Having your cookware properly seasoned and maintained only increases the performance of cast-iron. Here's how I did it:
Seasoning your cast iron
1. Clean your cookware real good. It's OK to use a mild soap as you scrape off any junk. I used a wire brush and scouring pad to get it as clean as possible. A wire brush is good for rust (also a clue that your pan is not properly seasoned.)
2. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.
3. Dry everything off real good. You don't want any water on it before the rub-down with oil.
4. Rub it down using a paper towel. You can use canola oil, but I used Crisco vegetable shortening this time. I have used bacon grease in the past. People have used lard, bacon grease or ham fat or any other saturated fat. Saturated fat will stay in your pan much longer so while it may seem weird, think of it as cooking breakfast in it. Each time you cook, your surface becomes more seasoned. Go crazy... season it with bacon grease, we're talking cast-iron!
5. Let it cook in the oven for 2 hours. After two hours, turn off the oven and leave the pans in it to cool in the oven. Now if you have to do multiple oven loads like me, that may not be an option.
When the pans come out, grab your hot mitt and give them another rub down with a cotton wash cloth or something that you can work fast with. Just shine it up and that's it folks. Repeat this process as often as you like. Even better, cook with it... a lot! Bacon and anything greasy or fatty adds to an awesome seasoned surface. Eventually, with proper cleaning, your pan will achieve a natural non-stick, smooth-as-glass surface.
Cleaning your cast iron
When you clean your cast iron, be sure not to use high detergent soaps. Some will argue it's OK to use a mild soap, but I do not. If you need some scouring action, throw a little kosher salt into the pan under your faucet and get a scrubby or something to grind up the junk. Soaps will de-season your cookware. It will take off the black and you will begin to see the silver of the cast-iron again. You want your cookware to maintain a nice, even black shine.
When done washing, give a quick towel dry and then put it on your stove burner to completely dry it out. Don't over cook the pan here! A minute or two should do it. Leave it on just long enough to dry out.
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