Archive for December, 2014

Anime worth watching, 2014

December 30, 2014

I’ve been pretty regular about announcing to the world the anime that I thought weren’t worth watching, but what about the good stuff? What anime from the two dozen or so shows I watched in 2014 would I recommend to my friends and family? The following are all keepers, shows I plan to order once they come out on DVD in the US. First off, the five new shows:

Young, immature, calligrapher exiled to rural island, where the local farmers and (mostly) their kids teach him what’s important in life. Even though I don’t particularly like shows that highlight kid’s antics, this was a good one. Family show.



Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
High school girl falls in love with classmate who is also a manga artist. When she declares her love, he thinks she’s just a manga fan, gives her an autograph, and invites her to be his assistant.

Nothing more romantic than a bicycle built for two.

Nothing more romantic than sharing a bicycle built for two.

The anime plays off his cluelessness against her fantasies. Large, varied cast, all well developed, and most in gender-bender roles. (more…)

Buttered Oatmeal

December 18, 2014

For Thanksgiving, MJ made a very nice compound butter — butter with otherstuff added — for topping the potato dressing. Now, most books on compound butters will mention oatmeal only in the same paragraph as jam-based butters. Apricot jam, sugar, and butter go quite well on the standard sweet morning oatmeal (it’s the oatmeal that’s sweet, I don’t know what your mornings are like), particularly when mixed together beforehand. But of course I’m a savoury oatmeal kind of guy, and so I have no problems with taking a compound butter you’d put on a potato and putting it on a dish of oatmeal instead, particularly one made with a good strong lamb broth.

In this case, the butter was made with sour cream, garlic powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Not particularly herbal, but it was designed for topping my grandmother’s potato stuffing.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, a a dinner tablespoon of the compound butter of your choice, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove, and the butter when you put it on the table.

Results: Excellent. It opens up a whole new dimension of oatmeal flavor exploration. Of course, it does rather go against the idea of oatmeal as a healthy breakfast.

Rating: *****

Postcard from Pearl Harbor

December 14, 2014

Written 73 years and four days ago. Note that the censors were a little slow. Not very informative, but I guess they couldn’t say more.

Front Side

Back when "penny postcard" meant something.

Back when “penny postcard” meant something.

Back Side

No mention of any incidents involving the Imperial Japanese Navy

No mention of any incidents involving
the Imperial Japanese Navy

My brother just found this in a box of old papers.


My Grandmother’s Stuffing Oatmeal

December 11, 2014

She is?

Actually, it’s not my grandmother’s stuffing. It’s something that started out to be, but lost its way on the way to being something else entirely. We were making it for a Thanksgiving not-exactly-a-potluck Dinner. MJ started out all enthusiastic about recreating an authentic stuffing experience, but then got into the cooking sherry. First change was, don’t peel the potatoes, ’cause we’re running late. Then, all we had was a packet of gizzards — no hearts, livers, or necks. Yeah, and the bread. It had to be gluten free, which kindof kills the whole point. After that, why not add celery, ya know?  So we ended up with something that was not quite, but almost, totally unlike my grandmother’s stuffing. Tasted good though.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two big sloppy dinner tablespoons of a suitably festive potato stuffing (call it 1/4 cup), one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato before you add the oats. It’s like risotto, needs breaking down.

Results: Very good. Filling. One might even say, Stuffing. Goes well with hot gravy poured over it. Would probably been even better if it were closer to the original. I’ll put it in the holiday rotation.

Rating: *****

Oatmeal Risotto

December 4, 2014

Sometimes I go overboard. MJ was off on a trip, and I had a bunch of boneless chicken thighs. There was a good looking recipe for slow cooker rice and chicken thighs (with onions and mushrooms), so why not. Except I didn’t have any regular rice. Well Arborio will do just as well, right? Wrong. Arborio is designed for risotto, and wants three cups of water per cup of rice, instead of one or one and a half. By the time I was done I had enough risotto-style rice to feed a family of four for a week. Longer, if they didn’t like their kids.

Next day, I started on the long process of using up all that leftover rice, and the first place was as an oatmeal extender.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, 1/4 cup of risotto, one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the rice before you add the oats, so the glutenous mass can break up properly.

Results: Very good. All the flavors came through, and the overall result was something you could serve as a side-dish for dinner. I don’t plan on making it again.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned – 2014

December 1, 2014

So this is really, truly, 本当に the last garden report of the year. Our first hard freeze hit on November 11th, and the second one this weekend. Temperature 18″ down in the KHG on a 28F December 1st noon, after a 10F weekend, was 42F. Used up the last of the lettuce last week, and will use up the last of the tomatoes this week. Last year we had a smaller harvest, but we still had tomatoes ripening indoors in mid-December.

1. Hit hard by powdery mildew this summer. Garden plants, ground cover plants, and plants in the front yard were infected. Go for mildew resistant strains of everything.

2. The small greenhouse worked well to get the plants through a variable Spring. Was positively humid inside, which attracted mosquitoes. Try hanging flypaper.

Yard Crops
1. Can’t do much with the area that’s in deep shade. Avoid next year (although part of that might have been the mildew).
2. Hops netting worked well, but was too narrow at the top. Need to reposition the hooks, or add new ones.

1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

2. Try more miniatures

3. Work even harder on getting the labeling right

4. Daikon are not container plants, not even in big containers.

Keyhole Garden
1. Abandon Section 4 as a berry farm. Too much work for too little return. Plant to peas and beans this year.

2. First pick of one pea plant last Summer gave about five pods, with four or five peas each — call it twenty peas per plant. One serving seems to be about 80-100 peas (I’ll confirm next dinner time), so we need 4 or 5 plants per person per meal. Which means I plant at least 20 plants next time. Six lima bean plants made two small servings.

3. Replace all the covers with the redesigned versions.

4. Re-do all of the irrigation hose. Set it so each section can be watered individually.

5. In early Spring, rebuild the SW corner of Section 1. Consider re-coring the center basket as well.

6. Plastic bottle cloche covers worked well.

Review of Last Year’s Plans
1. Early fertilization helped. We don’t generate enough kitchen waste to support four KHGs. However, watch the nitrogen.
2. We did better on tracking dates, but not good enough.
3. Did not have as much of a blossom-end rot problem, but specific cultivars did poorly. More Ca.
4. Hops did well. Don’t think I’ll need any more plantings.
5. Planting squash in the ground cover zone didn’t work. Mildew was at least as much of a problem as location.
6. Didn’t plant long beans, and the lemon cucumbers got mildew.
7. The big cherries did well in the containers. Next year will try them in the hanging baskets. Also try some additional cherry varietals, to get a wide range of colors.
8. Removing the keyhole kneeholes worked, but one does need steps to get up on the dirt.
9. Labeling still needs work
10. Slugs not as much of a problem this year
11. Moving from 2×4 to 1×1 helped lighten the KHG covers. I think I need to separate the chickenwire from the plastic as well — second plantings need chickenwire.

Next Year’s Plan
Section 1
Tomatoes and squash. Try beefsteaks again, but with a different watering plan. Seriously look for mildew resistant varieties of everything.

Section 2
Brassicae. Cabbage, mostly. Make one last effort to grow daikon

Section 3
Peas and beans and greens (oh my). Plant lots earlier. Deb Tolman says to try amaranth, since some of those have a 30-day to harvest cycle.

Section 4
Not quite sure what to put in here. Maybe just a cover crop. Figure out the best way to fit it into the rotation.

The Schedule

Move everything up about a week
early Feb – Start seeds indoors
early April (60 days later) – move to greenhouse

early May — transplant
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen