Archive for January, 2013

Pork N Oats

January 31, 2013

Not lunchmeat. A while back, I stumbled across a recipe for carnitas, which as far as I can tell is Spanish for meat things. I’m not a primaltologist, but it looked interesting, so I made it while MJ was off on a trip. Most excellent. When she came back, I made it for her. Major fail. The first one was fork-tender in an hour. This one was still awash in water an hour and a half later, despite the fact that the interior temp of the meat was 180F.*

That’s not the point of the story. The point is, I had a cup of what was essentially pork broth left over, so the next morning, I used it in oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of pork broth from failed carnitas experiment, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove..

Results: Outstanding. Not overly porky, and the cumin gave it some nice spice. Not sure I want to ruin a two pound pork roast before breakfast, but I’ll be definitely on the lookout for a less Heath-Robinson way of preparing it.

Rating: *****

*So it wasn’t fork-tender. It was, however, food-processor-tender

Beefy Oats

January 24, 2013

This is a follow-on to the chicken lunchmeat oatmeal I wrote about last week. This week it’s beef lunchmeat. As with last week’s, it’s the remnant of a package of sliced beef that MJ bought for a dog club do.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of beef broth.  Maybe 1/4 cup of sliced beef lunchmeat, chopped to your liking. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove..

Results: Not as good as the chicken. For some reason, beef doesn’t make it in oatmeal without a lot of doctoring up. This might work as the basis for something more elaborate.

Rating: *****

Garden Gantt

January 20, 2013

A Gantt chart is a tool for project management, developed by Henry Gantt back near the turn of the last century. It’s a horizontal bar chart that shows start/stop dates for various parts of a project.

In order to help plan my garden, I’ve developed a Gantt chart of my own. You enter the start date and duration, and it displays that information using a horizontal bar on the calendar.

Gantt Chart Calendar

Gantt Chart Calendar

Here’s the file. It’s in .xls format because WordPress won’t allow .ods (but it will allow .odt, go figure).

I based it on the writeup in the Squidoo blog

There’s two steps to building the chart.
Step 1. Write the formulas to define the status of the calendar cells.
Step 2. Define the cell formatting, based on that status.

In Step 1, you begin by numbering the dates across the top. In my case I used weeks from February 1. Then, in a set of columns at the left, you provide the start and stop dates. The duration isn’t actually necessary, but we’ll see how it helps in a minute. Finally, you write a formula in each cell in the calendar area for it to take on a 0/1 value, depending on the relation of the date of that cell to the start/stop dates. The pseudocode formula is:

IF (StartDate<=DateOfThisCell AND DateOfThisCell<=EndDate)
THEN ThisCellValue = 1,
OTHERWISE ThisCellValue = 0

As an example, for cell H11, the LibreOffice spreadsheet formula looks like this:
IF(AND($D11<=H$2, H$2<=$F11),1,0)

In Step 2, you format the cell with the formula so that it shows up white if it’s value is zero, and some other color, say green, if the value is one. That’s a two step process itself.

Step 2.1 is to go to menu item Format/Styles and Formatting and define two new format styles, let’s call them GanttON and GanttOFF. In the first one the cell background and font color are both green. In the second one they are both white. Changing the font color makes the numbers invisible.

Step 2.2 is to tie the style to the cell value. You do that using the Format/Conditional Formatting menu choice. For cells with a value of 1, set the contitional formatting to GanttON. For cells with a value of zero, set the contitional formatting to GanttOFF.

Now we tweak the Start/Time/End cells. Keep in mind that there are two basic approaches to planting — direct seed, and transplanting of seedlings started earlier.

Direct seed is simple. It uses one row. If you are planting in the Spring and want to know the harvest date, then you enter the Start date (say, date of last frost), and growing Time. The harvest (End) is determined by these two numbers: End = Start + Time. If you are planting for a Fall harvest and want it ready before a certain date, then you use Start = End – Time.

For transplants, you need two rows. The first row is to time the seedling growth up to some specific transplant (End) date, so Start = End – Time. The second row is time from transplant to harvest, so End = Start (transplant) + Time.

To tie the two together, you make the Start of the outdoor growth equal to the End of the transplant growth.


January 17, 2013

We don’t eat a lot of processed meat. Every now and then, MJ will contribute to snacks at the dog club, and will take in, among other things, a couple of packages of lunchmeat — beef, chicken, etc. If there’s any left over, she brings it home, and we’ll eat off it in a desultory fashion. I don’t like it much, because it is too salty. I’ve weaned myself off of a lot of salt as part of my ‘stay alive long enough to stay alive longer’ program. On the other hand, I’m not fond of plain oatmeal because it needs salt to taste like anything but cardboard….hmmm.

Setup: One cup chicken stock, 1/3 cup oatmeal, whatever amount of chicken lunchmeat you think goes well as breakfast, chopped. Potato flakes to thicken. I added the meat right at the start, and it didn’t seem to cook out the flavor.

Results: Tastes like chicken. Cries out for something more — paprika, garlic, …..gin… Actually, poultry seasoning and onion powder did quite well.

Rating: *****

My Trip To Japan

January 10, 2013

I have scrubbed and expanded my description and have now enshrined it as a permanent page. You can find it in the column on the right.

Cougar Oats

January 3, 2013

We’ve been eating our way through a big can of Cougar Gold cheese that we got for Christmas. Well, Christmas, 2005. And it’s MJ what’s been doing the eating. There’s too much crystalline grit in CGC for me. But that won’t keep me from trying it in oatmeal! I mean, the grit just adds to the roughage, right?

Setup: 1/3 cup oatmeal, 3 tbsp potato flakes, salt. Slightly less than one cup chicken stock, topped off with a screw-top Pinot Grigio. A few grinds of a pepper/herb/lemon combo. Scant 1/4cup of CGC, crumbled (it crumbles good). Put the potato and cheese in after the ten minute cook time. Grind pepperish on top.

Results: Undistinguished, but good. The cheese was in long enough to melt but not long enough to fodu-ize. The melting also did away with the crystals. ….Well, most. I feel my incisors crunching some even as I type.

I won’t go out to buy a can of CGC just so we can have this, but if it’s sitting out on the kitchen counter, I’ll consider it.

Rating:  *****
I’m trying something new for the New Year. Rating the Oataku recipes on a 5-star scale. One star means it tastes like oatmeal. Three means it’s something I’ll keep in mind to make if the ingredients are there. Five means I’d serve it to company.