Monthly Archives: November 2014

Glazed Bacon for Thanksgiving

On Saturday Pam and I joined some friends for a Thanksgiving feast, which was dubbed Franksgiving (Friends + Thanksgiving). The turkeys were smoked. It the first time I had smoked turkey, and I was impressed. Stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, cranberry relish, green bean casserole, a salad, and other good things made up the meal. We also had a pie line-up after the main meal and an appetizer line-up before. I made glazed bacon.

I saw the glazed bacon recipe recently in a New York Times article (Thanksgiving Recipes Across the United States). It was the Pennsylvania entry.

I’ve baked bacon and coated it with brown sugar and pepper before, but this recipe throws Dijon mustard and red wine into the mix.

Glazed bacon drying on a sheet of tin foil.

A picture of the glazed bacon before I cut the pieces into thirds.

 

It turned out well, though it was a bit stickier than I expected. I also doubled the recipe and had a substantial amount of the glaze left over.

It’s been a long time since I worked with bacon.

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A New Raised Vegetable Bed

My winter project around the house is to redo the backyard. With the quarter in session it is tough to find time for this task, but I have been fitting in bits of time here and there. Last week I developed a design for a raised bed for vegetable production. On Saturday I picked up the lumber. Sunday I built it. And finally this weekend I set it up.

A raised bed in the backyard.

It is 5 feet long and 3 feet wide, constructed from unfinished redwood. Each side has two 2 x 6 boards and one 2 x 4, with a 4 x 4 used in the corner. I set the screws and used hardwood screw caps, which I painted sage green. I’m curious to see how the wood ages. Most sources I consulted recommended leaving redwood unfinished–so that is what I did.

I filled the bed with soil and two different types of compost. I’ll be keeping an eye on the chemical properties of the substrate, but I think it should be an ideal growth medium. I’m more concerned about how much sunlight the site gets, but that is something I cannot control. Our first crop will be some lettuce and spinach; I planted them from transplants.

Another view of the raised bed, with some of the unfinished backyard in the background.

The next step for the backyard is to put in the brick walkway. I’ll be grading it and putting down a sand base, then figuring out which type of brick to use. I’m leaning toward a classic red brick right now. After that will come the small patio for our table and chairs, followed by the plants. I’m hoping the winter break provides time. . .

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A Quick Trip to Colorado

One of the joys of loving someone is the opportunity to meet the people that person treasures. In the meeting stories from the past take on new life. Suddenly the characters have a physical reality, albeit one altered by time. This past weekend I made a whirlwind trip to Colorado to meet some dear friends of Pam, Mimi and Cal.

A photo of Pam and me with Mimi and Cal.

A photo with our gracious hosts.

We toured the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder, CO on Saturday. It was the first time I have had to wear a beard net. It was an enjoyable tour. Outside the factory we saw many prairie dogs–which somehow I had missed in previous trips to Colorado.

A prairie dog, possibly smelling herbal teas.

A prairie dog, possibly smelling herbal teas.

Following the tea tour we drove through Boulder and to the mountains. We had lunch by Barker Meadow Reservoir. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing. The elevation at the reservoir is 8,183 ft above sea level, which seems quite high considering I live at 85 ft.

Barker Meadow Reservoir on a blustery November day.

Barker Meadow Reservoir on a blustery November day.

From there we went to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. We hiked some of the Horseshoe Trail. It was a relatively warm November day, yet parts of the trail were snowy.

The Horseshoe Trail in November.

The Horseshoe Trail in November.

I ran ahead to the Greenfield Meadow, but I did not manage to find a spot with dramatic panoramic views. The rocks, evergreens, white birches, and snow made for a beautiful setting.

A scene from the Horseshoe Trail.

A scene from the Horseshoe Trail.

We drove through Golden on the way home, seeing the stream that Coors made famous. On Sunday we attended Littleton Bible Chapel. After the service we had lunch at White Fence Farm in Lakewood. And then it was off to the airport to travel back to California.

Mimi and Cal were excellent hosts. They treated us to meaningful conversation, wonderful food, and new sights.

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A Quick Fall Update

The fall is flying by. On Friday evening and Saturday morning we had rain on the Central Coast–very exciting! The rain put a bit of a damper on Halloween trick or treaters. Pam and I had a large stash of candy and a jack o’ lantern by our door, but we had zero visitors.

Jack, our friendly doorkeeper.

Jack, our friendly doorkeeper.

The fall quarter has been going well. In my classes we have several experiments underway. This week we will be using data to try to explain plant health. Fun stuff.

pH Experiment Salts Experiment

Last night I ran some tests on the water and soil around the house. It is the application of what I am teaching. I’m trying to figure out why some of the plants in front of the house do not look healthy, and I want to build backyard raised vegetable beds that are productive. It turns out we have some nasty soil and terrible water (I’m not surprised). With a pH of ~9.0 and an electrical conductivity of 0.04 mS/cm (in a 1:5 dilution), the soil in front of our house is not well-suited for the plants we’re trying to grow. I need to get the pH below 7.0 and the EC to 0.50 mS/cm (in a 1:5 dilution). I also need to improve the drainage and air-holding capability of the soil, so that will involve some aerification and amendments.

Of course now that I get home after work when it’s dark all outdoor projects will move along at a snail’s pace. . .

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