Thursday, January 22, 2009

Goodbye, Melon Man

A tear-streaked Mrs. Yam woke me last night to tell me, "Tim the melon guy died!" You see, Tim was a marvelously generous man, a consummate salesman, a caring farmer and a really decent guy. We learned much from him about gardening over the years and we've been absolutely spoiled by his melons.

These were not the hard, tasteless balls of water you get at a grocery store, but a collection of melons from around the world; varying in color, shape, texture, smell and taste in ways unimaginable before we crossed paths. Each variety so vastly different from the other that they almost seemed to be completely different fruits. A fruit so enticing and refreshing that it was nearly the only thing that keeps the Darlin' Mrs and me going throughout August's sweltering days.

We've purchased tomato and pepper plants and were thoroughly lectured on how to plant them and when to trim the leaves. His business in Belle Plaine seemed really busy on the days we'd load up the car with flats of everything from cuckes to "3 Pot" peppers. Running around those busy weekends, he still always had time to stuff a couple of new peppers onto our cart and, with a wink, say how much we'll love these.

The Farmers' Market won't be the same without you, Melon Man. My love and sympathy to Lori and kids. I hope you can keep it together...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Kent could change his to an odometer, Scott could have a pounds lost and George's could be a "number of doughnuts made."

More info here

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Me darlin' Mrs and I have been trying our hands at preserving food by canning, freezing and vacuum packaging for last couple of months. We've made pickles from beets and carrots (both successes and perhaps the Mrs will post the recipes) and we've preserved cruciferae by making sauerkraut and kimchi. Both are bog simple and something that you really want to be eating now that we're in the cold and flu season because they're bursting with all manner of nutritional goodness (lactobacteria and vitamin C for starters).

Kimchi is nice because you can mix up a bowl of it and then let it set for just a day or two before the, uh, aroma completely takes over the house. The ingredients are easily obtained and the preparation isn't complicated or lengthy. You can also make this as authentic as you want by trying to obtain the ingredients, but I would just start with the simple stuff.

Remember, kimchi is the food of the everyman, so don't get fussy and don't expect a specific recipe. You're basically adding salt and flavorings to cabbage and letting it sit for a couple of days, so don't stress out about not having the right stuff. You only really need chinese cabbage (bok choy or pak choy), salt, garlic, ginger and chili powder or paste. You can add daikon radish, carrots, fish sauce and green onions if you need more authenticity.


  • 1 kg head cabbage
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • Korean chili powder or chili paste to taste (2 tbsp or more for a big cabbage)

Quarter and core the cabbage and then chop into 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide pieces. Put the cabbage in a large container and sprinkle with half of the salt. Toss the cabbage with your hands for about two minutes, working the salt into the leaves. Add the rest of the salt and repeat. Let stand about an hour. You should have a bowl of slightly withered cabbage with liquid on bottom. If you want a more juicy kimchi leave it, otherwise pour out most of it. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine and cover the container with plastic wrap. Leave the container in a cool place for 1-4 days (depending on how, uh, pungent you like your kimchee). Put in sterilized containers and keep in the fridge indefinitely.

You can add some of the optional ingredients from above (1+ cup shredded carrot, 1+ cup shredded daikon radish, sugar (to taste),fish sauce (to taste - start with 2 tsp) and even dried shrimp if you want) for a more authentic flavor. I have to say, considering the price and the ease of creation, I'll probably never buy kimchi again.

The kimchi will become more lively with age, so if it gets a bit much for an appetizer, consider making kimchi jigae or kimchi stew.

That is, if your sensitive Minnesotan sensibilities can handle it...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Dear Mr. Soucheray

[I did not link to the article that I am rebutting as I do not wish to give him any more traffic. It seems that a favorite trick of "journalists" is to write some screed against bicyclists and let the "Yeah, I hate 'em too" crowd spew the same arguments that were just written and send we bikers into a frenzy. You can find it easily enough if you need to read it.]

I won't even pretend that what I say will reach you, you a man that measures manliness by the number of cylinders you own, whose own radio show is called "Garage Logic." Your column is yet another small-minded attack on those who ride their bikes in the winter, complete with the tight pants and jersey insult that seems to be mandatory in columns such as yours. A column that purports to compare our "work ethic" with "rural mail carriers, cowboys and Alaskan fishermen in small boats" and then goes on to call us morons, struggling to "try to keep the machine upright in the worst of all possible conditions." He then passes on a conversation with another news personality about how Reusse would run over a biker if they fell down in front of him and "squash them like a bug."

Mr. Soucheray, your and Reusse's thinking isn't out of the norm, it's something I deal with. You see, I'm one of those "morons" in a "snowmobile suit" riding in "all possible conditions." I hear the hatred you and your fellow motorists have for us expressed often, hatred that seems based on nothing more than brightly colored jerseys and the fact that we are on the roads "in all possible conditions." Why do you hate bicyclists? You claim that you've made peace with two-wheelers, but I doubt that. Your column betrays your prejudice by its very tone and fact that your "peace" still allows you call names.

Why the hatred? Do you believe that you as a motorist have the right to smooth and happy motoring without the unpleasantness of delay. It seems that you and others believe that once in your car, you should have a clear path to your destination and anything that deters that causes you and yours to become peevish and angry. Is your anger more than just with bicyclists and the fact that ANYTHING that stops your forward progress (e.g., bikes, pedestrians, construction, even other drivers) should be taken from in front of you?

Why the hatred? Because you are stopped from using roads by bicyclists whose numbers are diminished? We've gone from innumerable hordes to just enough to keep you from the streets? Or is it because you've been inconvenienced by someone on a bike, someone who has the temerity to actually use the same road as you, AT THE SAME TIME! Someone who has made you drive slowly when you should have the freedom to go anywhere, at any time, at any speed that you wish. To have unimpeded access to every road. They DARE to be in front of you? They're slow and THEY'RE IN FRONT OF YOU! This is the crime?

A crime punishable by death, it appears.

You and Reusse think that you can be judge, jury and executioner because someone rode their bike slowly in front of you. Your only duty is notify the garbageman to come and get the body. Is that it?

Mr Soucheray, people already act like you -- the only difference is that they are slightly more cowardly in that they just leave dead or maimed bicyclists by the side of the road and drive off without the benefit of a phone call to the clean-up detail. You see, bicyclists have been killed by motorists quite often as of late, and they didn't even fall off in front of the car. Four bicyclists were killed this past summer, by drivers as inconvenienced as you and Reusse.

Again I ask, why the hatred? Is it really because someone is on your road and they're not going fast enough? Are you in that much of a hurry or do you just feel that you're entitled to clear roads all of the time? Are bikes some toy that should be discarded when one gets a driver's license? Or is it like the preacher or Senator that rails for anti-gay legislation because they hate what they are deep down? Do you want to ride your bike?

I don't understand you, either. I don't judge my toughness by how much gasoline I use. I don't think that nature is better from the back of some noisy, stinking petrol-powered monstrosity. I can get around on my own, without the help of climate-controlled comfort. My organs work well enough to get me where I want without assistance and I am able to stand biking not only in worst of all possible conditions, but when it's nice too. Do you see us out there and wish you could do that?

You can, you know.

You sadden me. I expect someone with your bully pulpit to be more thoughtful, but then again, I don't measure my manliness by my cylinder count (4 - one car) or the size of my garage. I wonder how many bicyclists have kept you off the roads or if it is really just a notion that you've been sold, the notion of Happy Motoring. There is no such thing and it's not because of the bicyclists.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Arts & Crafts time...

The most expensive implement of my winter riding apparel is my pair of Mukluks. For those who are not of Northern Minnesota/North America, Mukluks are insulated high-top moccasins originated by our aboriginal folks. Mine are a pair of moose hide with wool felt liners made by Mrs (ex) Steeger from Ely, Minnesota. These are windproof, waterproof (when treated) and really, really warm.

I've had mine for about a decade and I've replaced the sole of them once already a couple of years ago. This year, I've noticed that they aren't as insulating from the ground as they had been, so it's time to re-sole them. Since recycling is the new Black, I'm taking some old wool sweaters and felting them to be re-used as insulation for other things. One of those things is this...

Felting wool consists of disregarding the instructions on the tag and cooking wool things in hot water and drying them in hot air. Sure, you can't wear the sweater anymore, but now the dwarf-wrap is a tightly bound thick piece of material to be used in our arts and crafts project. Washing a non-washable 100% wool sweater in hot water and drying it at high heat will shrink the daylights out of it and give you something unwearable, but something infinitely craftable. Me darlin' Mrs shrunk down a coupla old sweaters that were full of holes and my first project is to re-sole my mukluks.

Take a piece of felted wool, and measure your insert by tracing around it with a sharp knife. Finish the cuts with a pair of scissors and stuff that piece into your old boots, voilà, new soles. Wasn't that easy kids? If you learn to sew, you can make whole new inserts for your snowmobile boots or mukluks from old sweaters.

I'm learning to sew again. No, it's not girly, it's constructing things, you dink. Deal with it.

Soon, (when I learn how) I'll teach you how to make a great winter cycling hat from old sweaters. But we'll have to learn how to sew, won't we? Things that need insulation when biking are best insulated with wool, right? Why not take cheap wool and make new fabric from it and make fabulous things with it, yes?


Empty tank again.

I'm back to riding to work full time. I've decided that waiting for this cold to go away is pointless and I'll freeze the li'l bugger into submission since being nice hasn't worked.

It was 9°F (-12°C) and a slightly magical dusting of snow was falling as I left home. The color of the blue-gray sky combined with the twinkling snow and the muffling effect snowfall has made the environment that much pleasant to bike. For those who hang the wheels when the leaves begin to change, you are missing the best time of year to ride. The colors, the temperature, the sounds are something you don't see, feel or hear any other time. It even tastes differently -- the road salts used leave a wicked metallic taste in my mouth. The cold leaves me streaming liquids and suffering from hot and cold at the same time.

It's all part of riding.

The one problem I have is that when I get up in the morning, I'm not hungry so I don't eat breakfast until I get to work. This lack of fuel nails me about three-quarters of the way into work when my tank goes below E, as it were. I really have to push it to finish and when I arrive at the office, I'm not hungry for a half hour or so. Funny that. I try to eat, but I'm not interested. I know I'll pay for it on the way in to work, but I just can't do it. I don't have ready what would spark my appetite: a hot, savory breakfast (e.g., a bagel with egg and cheese or black pudding and eggs or eggs on a biscuit). Cold oatmeal or fruit isn't something that warms the body and soul before heading out into the hoary streets of Richfield, it seems.

Perhaps I could modify my morning routine and add a cup of tea with milk and sugar, but that assumes co-operation with the animals and I don't think that's going to happen without a lot of barking, hissing and complaining from all parties. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, git on yer damn bike and ride. Wool is good and is your friend.