Blog Archives

Pizza Oven Construction at The Folly

We started work on the pizza oven for the Carnival this morning (actually, I did very little work, but documented the endeavor with pictures). Looks like we just missed the thunderstorms that are rolling in for the afternoon. Joy Bridy ran the workshop (I believe she said this was her third outdoor oven.)

Building the base

 

Leveling the cooking surface

 

Looks like a couple of more weeks to go…

From our sister blog, Panhandle Vegan:

Fighting the Battle of the Fruit Flies…

It’s that time of year… getting warmer outside but still not so hot that we have to close up the house and turn the Air Conditioning on. That’s something we avoid until the last minute.

The problem, however, is that, in this weather, the fruit flies start to swarm around the vegetable and fruit scraps waiting to go out into the garden and make our cooking area very unpleasant.

This morning we started our campaign which was 100% successful last year over a couple of days. We built fruit fly traps which draw the little devils in by the gross and get them out of our way.

We start with a small Ball jar. Into that we put about 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, a little water and a few drops of dish soap. Some people add a piece of banana to the mix – something fruit flies love – but I haven’t found it necessary.

On top of the jar we stretch tightly a piece of plastic wrap, or a small sandwich bag, and seal it around the neck with a rubber band. Then we take a toothpick and poke about 7 or 8 holes in the top.

That’s it.

Put the Jar (or 2 or 3 of them) in the infestation area and pretty soon the problem will be gone… and you can count the number of bugs either floating on top (new captures) or lying dead on the bottom. I’m up to around 60 with one jar which I set up about 3 hours ago.

A jar with the vinegar/soap mix lasts a couple of weeks and then can be refreshed with a new mix. Keep the traps going until the problem disappears or the start of heavy air conditioning season (you may have to overlap the two.)

Mother’s Day Brunch in Frederick, MD

We drove down to Frederick to meet Bud and his fiancee, Rachel, who came up from DC, for Mother’s Day lunch at the Cafe Nola.

Bud and Rachel

I hadn’t eaten here before, but Elly has been here several times as her AIGA meeting takes place around the corner twice a month. The Nola has plenty of vegetarian and light selections (I had a great French toast) and their coffee was particularly good.

After brunch we walked over to Frederick’s Community Bridge Mural, the great trompe l’oile painted bridge that looks amazingly like three dimensional stones, statues, gates and crests. Bud and Rachel were surprised when they got up close and found everything was relly flat and just painted on.

A section of the Bridge Mural

Bud, Rachel and Elly looking at the Mural

If you get the chance and are in Frederick, MD, this is worth visiting.

Product of the Year! Lunch Bugs!

Did you know that lunch theft is a big problem? Apparently, people at work are finding their sandwiches being stolen from the coffee room refrigerator. Well here’s the solution everyone is waiting for: Lunch Bugs.

Lunch Bugs are sandwich bags with bugs printed on them to help deter lunch theft. They’re basically a variation of the already-existing mold-bags and will run you $7 for a 24-pack. That makes them almost $0.30 apiece. You may find this expensive… but, then again, it’s less expensive than going hungry at lunch time. And NOBODY will ever touch your sandwich!

You can buy them at Archie McPhee of course. I’ve got to get some of these.

An afternoon of Mushroom Innoculation…

Elly and I attended a great afternoon affair at Laurie and Bob’s five acre farm on Engel-Moler Road. And what was the purpose of this get together that drew a couple of dozen conservationists, Sustainable Shepherdstowners, and your average local mushroom enthusiast? Why, to innoculate oak logs with mushroom spores so that they can be put in the dark to grow and develop edible shitake mushrooms for the Fall.

The process is fairly simple, but requires a lot of muscle effort and concentration. The logs that have been cut and stacked which will be used for the innoculation are put, one at a time, across a couple of sawhorses. Then holes are drilled all around each log at approximately four inch intervals.

Once the holes are drilled, small pegs with the preset mushroom fungus in them are pounded into each hole with a hammer or a rubber mallet.

After the pegs are malleted into the logs, each one is covered with a coat of melted wax which is brushed onto the top of the peg. At the lower left corner of the close-up photo you can see the splotch of wax on top of the peg. In the upper right of the picture is an exposed peg that hasn’t been waxed.

Finally, the finished logs are stacked. They will be covered with a fabric sheet to keep the light out and the logs will be kept damp.

We followed up the afternoon activities with snacks and conversations and a mini-concert of bagpipes and drums. Lots of fun and learned a lot about growing mushrooms.

Noodle Research… the new project.

My wife has been involved in Sustainable Shepherdstown, our local “what the town needs to do to survive if it becomes impossible to go anywhere else” organization. One of the ideas she has had for a business to set up that we can do locally, fulfill our Vegan eating requirements and be remotely interesting to do is a Pasta Making Company. So I’ve been researching all kinds of pasta shapes and noodle making machines and recipes.

So far I’ve found over 100 pasta and noodle shapes and product made from every kind of grain and non-grain that you can think of. Of course, a good many of the recipes use eggs, which are a Vegan no-no, or dairy products (which all can be replaced by soy or nut-milk products)… so before I can experiment with some of these, I’ll have to know what’s available locally or near-locally.

Then there are the machines, both electric and hand-cranked, which would be important for mass production. They run from the really inexpensive to the very expensive manufacturing giants. Setting up an original budget list for this project is going to require an armful of business costs, so all of them have to be considered and compared with potential earnings to see if this is really a profitable proposal.

In reality, this is just the first of many project ideas I can see Sustainable Shepherdstown instigating. But for a retired guy, it’s something to do.

Being a Vegan is paying off…

(co-posted with Panhandle Vegan)

It is now the beginning of September and I am 10 months into being a Vegan… and I have lost 50 Pounds 0ff my 385 pound start (which means I’ve lost as much as Marie Osmond did on Nutri-System, but I am still not pretty!)

If I continue this way I should have at least 60 pounds off by the end of my first year (my ultimate goal, as folks who read my stuff know, is 150 pounds… at least another year away and probably two.)

Now it’s time to increase the exercise (I can actually move around more than I could when I started. Amazing!)

I’ve been cooking…

…and I just finished making the sugar-free, vegan, organic carrot cake with vegan cream cheese frosting. It took me about an hour altogether, giving me a chance to unload, load and start the dishwasher as I waited for parts to cook or stand.

The original recipe is over at my Panhandle-Vegan blog where I am about to list the modifications I made.

I haven’t tasted it yet… I’m waiting for Elly to get home from School.

I have great confidence, however.

New Year’s Eve… Elly and Bill at Home

Yup. No parties, no restaurants, no fireworks… we’ll stay up to see the year turn into 2010 and then go to bed and sleep our way into the next cycle.

I’m cooking a new Vegan Macaroni and Daiya Cheese with Mushrooms casserole and some steamed organic carrots as the evening’s treat. Sounds very simple, but smells and looks (and hopefully tastes) pretty good.

We’ve been keeping a pretty tight budget while I’m out of work… all things being equal. Where we used to do at least a movie a week, we’re doing one every two weeks or longer (saw UP IN THE AIR yesterday when we went on the Wednesday discount food shop at Common Market in Frederick… great film. Loved George Clooney.)

So we’re sitting around watching food competitions on TV (on Food Network) after spending much of the afternoon filling in on-line job applications while watching a Burn Notice Marathon on USA Network. The snow we had this morning got iced over by some rain and I guess the roads around Shepherdstown are a mess anyway.

Not a bad New Year’s Eve at all.

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