Saturday, April 15, 2006


(Originally posted on Saturday, April 15, 2006 by Tim)

Remember a few weeks back when I said I would tell you once I managed to bench press 185 pounds? Well?I lied. I actually managed to lift 185 pounds shortly after made that post. I was very excited at the time and raring to make a quick post. Then I got the idea I should make a quick graphic representing a barbell with 45 and 25 pound weights for the post. Shortly after that, I looked at the clock, remembered that it was a school night, and went to bed. Two or three busy weeks preparing for and presenting at a conference followed (note the lack of posting last week) and here we are.

As you might guess from the title, I?ve managed to bench press 195 pounds at this point. I?d be real excited, but that was three workouts ago. The last two workouts have been pretty poor. I think it?s a combination of bumping up the weight of all my exercises and eating too much before I lift.

It?s spring here and everything is blooming and starting to leaf out. The dogwood in the front of the house has flowers, we have daffodils and tulips in the yard, and all the trees I planted last Fall are beginning to get leaves. I heavily pruned the grape vine in the winter and I?m relieved to see that it is starting to flower. Even the woodchuck is running around looking fat and happy in the back yard?at least when the dogs aren?t out.

I?ve also fashioned a slow watering device I plan to use on the trees and grape vine. It?s essentially a 5 gallon bucket with a small whole drilled in the bottom. It delivers the 5 gallons of water slowly over 30 to 60 minutes. This gives it plenty of time to soak into the ground around the tree as opposed to running off. I think it will do the trick.

As another sign of Spring, the War of the Dandelions has started again. The little yellow buggers have arrived in force this year. I carpet bombed them with weed and feed early last week. Their side has started to take heavy casualties. The next phase of the operation will involve surgical strikes with a bottle of Ortho. I found a web site that generates random names for military operations. Using it, I decided that the name of this year?s campaign will be Merciless Ocelot. I?m not sure what the dandelions have named their campaign. Probably something lame since they don?t have internet access.

Another thing that happened this week is that I discovered yogurt and granola. While I?m not going to claim this is original or creative, it is quite yummy. Here?s the ?recipe? I use.

Yogurt and Granola
1 cup Dannon vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup granola cereal

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

Cathy purchased some plain yogurt for making this last night. It?s good with plain yogurt too, but I like the vanilla better. I think that fresh blueberries with the plain yogurt might be pretty good. We?ll have to try that next week.

On the annoying side of things, our house got egged sometime last week. They actually broke a window in the upstairs bedroom and ruined a set of curtains. I?m currently debating whether to hire someone to fix it or try to do it myself. We have five groups of suspects. It has to have been one of the following.

1. One of Cathy?s students
2. One of my students
3. Some local kids
4. The spaniel mix next door
5. The dandelions

A comprehensive approach to the problem seems best. I?ve decided to strike back at all 5 groups to make sure that I don?t miss the culprit. To account for the possibility that one of our students egged the house, I have decided that Cathy and I should fail all our students this term. I?m having difficulty convincing her of this course of action for some reason. If you get some time, send her an email.

To retaliate against the local kids, I?ve decided to start supporting efforts to remove soft drink machines from the schools.

To get even with the dog next door, I?ll give her a stern ?Bad dog? next time I see her.

Finally, to settle the score with the dandelions, see above.

You might wonder why I suspect the spaniel mix next door. First, she barks at me when I?m out. More importantly, there was some dog poo next to a pile of egg shells in the yard. It was located on the street side of the fence, so it couldn?t have been our dogs. Coincidence? I don?t think so.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Tofu and veggies baked in parchment paper

(Originally posted on Saturday, April 1, 2006 by Tim)

I found a hilarious article on the BBC web site today. Apparently, some artist has made a statue of Britney Spears giving birth to her son on a bear skin rug. She is naked and on all fours. The statue is supposedly a tribute to the pro-life movement and the artist has been taking flack from both sides. The pro-choice people are protesting because it?s pro-life. The pro-life people are protesting because it?s got naked people in it. The best part of all is that Britney had a cesarean section.

It?s been a big week for cooking here. I think we have made three new meals. Cat made a tasty corn chowder and I made the two other meals. The meal from last night was rice and beans. The triumph on that meal was that I cooked the beans from scratch while deftly avoiding burning the house down. To accomplish this, I used a high tech gadget called a crock pot. Outside of the lack of copious amounts of smoke, the recipe didn?t turn out the way I wanted. I was aiming for Mexican style beans and I ended up with something closer to spicy baked beans. I plan to cut the sugar in half and add some cilantro and cumin next time. I?ll post a recipe once I have something I like.

The other recipe that I made was fennel and tofu baked in parchment paper. It?s a modified version of something I found in a magazine while Cat was getting new glasses at the optometrist. The original recipe called for scallops, but the tofu from our Kung Pao tofu recipe made a fine replacement. The fennel root gave the dish and interesting flavor. I was expecting it to be very licoricey. Instead, the fennel added some heat with a mild licorice background.

Tofu in Parchment
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 15 oz can of white beans (drained and rinsed)
1 fennel bulb (halved, cored, and thinly sliced)
½ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 lb Kung Pao tofu

Kung Pao Tofu (just the tofu part)
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbs Japanese rice wine or sherry
2 tbs cornstarch
½ tsp salt
Lots of fresh ground pepper
1 lb extra firm tofu (cubed)

The day before the meal, mix all of the Kung Pao ingredients except the tofu. Toss the tofu in this mixture and marinade overnight in the refrigerator .

Pre-heat oven to 400oF. Place marinated tofu in a greased baking dish and cook until the outer coating begins to just slightly brown. Remove tofu from oven.

Mix tomatoes, beans, fennel, parsley, oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Place 4 sheets of parchment on the counter and spoon the bean mixture in the center. Top the bean mixture with the tofu. Cover with 4 more sheets of parchment. Fold up sides of parchment to seal edges and bake at 400oF for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cut parchment open, and spoon the contents onto plates. Make sure to be careful of the steam when you cut open the parchment package.

Working with the parchment was a pain. It didn?t hold the folds I made very well. I?m thinking of using some of those black office binder clips on the sides next time.

I was surprised by how well this recipe turned out. I didn't expect it to be all that good. Cat's comment was, "If you didn't think it would be any good, why did you try it." I guess I just wanted to play with parchment parchment paper. It's like bubble wrap for your oven.