Saturday Afternoon Open Thread

Gerald’s mother has been in an out of the hospital for the past week, and she was readmitted Thursday night and had a major cardiac event and has been there ever since. To help take the load off him and his wife, the kids have been staying with me so he can stay at the hospital. It’s been fine, but they can be a touch exhausting at the time. I think what I notice the most is the constant incessant chatter. It’s just nonstop. It’s not that it is irritating, it’s just that I am not used to it. No opportunity to vocalize is left unused. If they were dogs, they would be Thurston.

Also, I have had more discussions about farts in the last 48 hours than in the previous ten years.

At any rate, last night we had burgers, beans and franks, and fries with milkshakes for dessert, and this morning we got up and took care of their dogs and mine, and then drove up to the seasonal opening of the apple orchard. They had never been, and I was excited about getting some apples, so it was a fun time. We even got to do a fun rendition of “he’s touching me he won’t stop touching me DOMINIC GOD DAMNIT STOP TOUCHING HER OR I WILL TIE YOU TO THE ROOF LIKE AUNT EDNA.” Picked up apples for my parents, my brother, and me- they had ginger gold, zestar, and one other whose name I forget.

Tonight for dinner we are doing fajitas, rice and beans, and street corn with grilled peaches and ice cream for dessert. I’m afraid to even think about what godawful movie they are going to make me watch.

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I have seen a couple questions about the new website in the comments of other posts. It is still underway, just currently working on the database to deal with the 85 billion comments and images that need to be recombobulated or whatever the technical term is. It won’t be long. Watergirl will update some time soon.








Sunday Night Open Thread

Another busy weekend here at Home, Crap Home. Got rid of the petunias, which were dying, cleaned up a bunch of the garden, organized the foyer (FYI- when I am bitching about not being able to find it in two years, someone remind me that I taped the key to the cedar chest INSIDE said cedar chest), got a dozen broccoli plants in containers on the deck, and did a bunch of various other stuff. Here is the re-organized up foyer (and yes I will straighten the photos):

This was an important project. I used to have a table under the window and a big chest to the left of it. I wanted to put a bench there under the window but could never find one I liked, and I just couldn’t shell out 500 to have one custom made, and I also never had a place to put my flags and umbrellas and most likely in a few years the cane, so I just did this. My fall and winter boots are in the cedar chest, and I can just put a mat down to the left of it for spring summer shoes. Then when the seasons change, put the summer stuff in the chest, etc.

I forget if I ever showed you this, but if you remember when the house was finally finished and ready to move in, I snapped a photo of the crew. I finally got it framed and gave mini ones to all of them, and it is now hanging by the doorway- it’s the first thing you see when you walk in!

It’s so funny to look at because the boys were SO YOUNG and even though it has only been a couple of years, they have grown so much. Dom (lower right with the Dumbo ears) is every bit of 6’3″. I swear every time I look at him he has grown an inch.

Steve and I are now relaxing:

Also, because we live in the dumbest fucking timeline, this happened:

Have fun with those 72′ purple irradiated alligators, Betty.








Steve Appreciation Post

I have been super busy and have not even had the normal amount of time to write vile things on twitter, so I thought I would apologize and post some Steve pics.

Steve and I have been together for about six years now (btw I have been officially sober for five years now- I missed my anniversary again and remembered the other day when I was cutting up cabbage for another run of sauerkraut and this time was using a bottle of dry white wine and some of it splashed in my face while tamping it and I thought “awkward” and realized I had once again missed my anniversary), and I have really lucked out. He continues to become more and more interesting every day and has really turned out to be a special cat.

He’s a very strong presence, which is great, as Rosie and Thurston can be quite overbearing, but he holds his own. He’s chatty, and you know when he comes in a room, but he is also super affectionate. He absolutely loves to be hugged, which just cracks me up. He likes to jump up on the arm of my chair, drape his front paws over my chest and keep his back legs on the armrest, and then will lie there for hours while I hold him:

It’s really bizarre (not to mention hard to get a picture in that position), but he loves it. He also likes to sleep on the side of the bed, and wake me up for attention:

He will sit like that forever while I gently rub the insides of his ears until he falls asleep and/or drools on me. At night, when I am asleep, he somehow manages to arrange himself so we are spooning, and I often wake up and he is sleeping in my right arm.

Steve has really turned into just an outstanding cat. I am a lucky human.








In the Kitchen with John- Horseradish Sauerkraut Prep

I picked up some fine cabbages, including some pretty red little things, and since I have done a couple runs of sauerkraut and feel my fermentation game is pretty solid, I decided to experiment a little bit. Earlier in the week, I took a daytrip with my traveling partner Breyana to Zanesville, Ohio, to the Ohio Stoneware factory outlet. While there, I picked up some weights that were missing from the crocks I inherited, as well as some nice lids, and I got them at a steal because I took “imperfect” ones which were only half price. So, I had all the items I needed, and I got to making some sauerkraut.

A couple quick notes- as always, I am not telling you this is the right way to do it, the best way to do it, the fastest way to do it, etc. I am just showing you how I did it. Part of the fun for me is just experimenting and playing around and seeing what happens. Second, as always, before you do anything make sure your knives are sharp and your work space and counters are clean so you can have room to work.

First up, clean and prep all your ingredients. I cleaned up four heads of cabbage, four mini heads of red cabbage, a red onion, and I cleaned and prepped some horseradish root:

knives, a pot of cabbage, a bowl of shredded horseradish, and a red onion

Second, you need to weigh out your cabbage and measure your salt. This is crucial- too much salt and you will kill the fermentation. I always use three tablespoons of salt per 5 lbs of cabbage, and I had about 16 pounds of cabbage and horse radish so I used 9 tablespoons of salt and put it in a container. As you can see, I have my crock in a clean sink ready to go:

canning salt, paper with measurements, dutch crock in a farmer sink

At this point, it’s just time to start shredding. Again, I like to do it by hand, as my knife skills are good enough that I can get a pretty consistent cut with a little intentional variation for texture. If you prefer super fine cabbage, or just don’t want to do it by hand, you could use a food processor. I don’t even have one anymore after mine broke, and I have to say I don’t miss it. By the time you pull it out of storage, re-clean it, assemble it, use it, clean it again, and put it away, it’s just easier to do everything with a knife. But ymmv and you may not feel comfortable with knives or a mandoline.

sliced cabbage on a cutting board next to a knife

I then throw the cabbage in the crock, and each layer I add a little of the measured salt and some of the horseradish:

shredded cabbage in a crock with salt being poured in

Once you get a good bit in, it’s time to tamp it down and start working the cabbage and horseradish. I inherited my dad’s tamper (which was his grandmothers), and I like to tamp it all down, and then reach down with my hand, pull from the bottom, and circulate it it, macerating it and working it:

cabbage in a crock with a wooden tamper

macerating cabbage in a crock by hand

You just keep doing this until you run out of cabbage. As you can see, it will look like you are going to run out of room, but you won’t- as you work it, it shrinks in size:

full crock of cabbage and horseradish

As you are doing this, you should notice the salt doing its magic and pulling the moisture out of the cabbage. Just keep tamping and manually circulating the cabbage for a while until you have enough brine to cover the cabbage:

cabbage macerated until it is covered with brine

As you can see, the cabbage has released enough water that a natural brine has been created. I’ve read about people adding water, but I have never needed to- I use really fresh cabbage from local farms, and they are plenty juicy that I have never needed to this. At this point, it is time to do one final round of tamping, and then to cover it with cheesecloth:

cheesecloth covering brined cabbage

I measure out the cheesecloth, and then I use a butter knife to push it down the sides so that the entire surface is covered. It is also very important that you take a clean, damp rag, and clean out the crock above the water line. You can research it on your own, but this a lactic acid fermentation, so you don’t want any crap or residue above the anaerobic environment you are creating to become a bacterial mess. Finally, place your weights on top of the cheesecloth, and make sure the cabbage is covered with the brine completely. You should have at least an inch of water:

stone weights on top of cheesecloth covered with brine

As you can see, you have now completely covered the cabbage, created the necessary anaerobic environment for the fermentation process to take place. You then simply place a lid on the crock and store it for however long you want it to ferment. The fermentation time can vary- I like to do about two weeks. I’ve found that a 14-15 day ferment leaves you with a crisp kraut which you can then cold pack and put a couple in the fridge to use or give away, with plenty left over to process in the canner. Others like to go longer. It’s really up to you.

Additionally, some people check every couple of days and skim any scum off the top. I don’t. I just make sure it is clean and properly done, and then basically it is fire and forget. I put the crock with the lid in a cool shaded area, put a reminder on my phone, and in two weeks I will check it. I basically act like I do when I am smoking something- “looking ain’t cooking.” If I like what I see, I will can it then. If I think it needs another day or two or even a week, so be it.

As always, YMMV.








I’ve Been A Terrible Blog Host

I have been busy in meat space doing people things. Here is a video of Seth’s kittens to make up for my absence:

Also, this has been a great summer for birds. I went to the fern today to take a picture of you all, and the third bird harvest had already been completed and they were gone! Grand total of 11 birbs hatched on the front porch this summer. Not bad.