Don’t Look Now, But The Mariners Aren’t Terrible

by A.J. Coltrane

Gene Brabender. Just because.

Gene Brabender. Just because.

Every conversation I had about the Mariners this summer seemed to go the same way:

Me: “How about those M’s.. they’re doing ok!”

Them:  “The M’s suck.”

Me:  “No, they’re really about a .500 team. They’re average.”

Them:  “Eh. I’m pretty sure they suck, or they’re going to suck soon.”

Me:  “No, the franchise has finally begun to recover from the damage that Bill Bavasi did.”

Them:  *Shrug*

(You’ll notice it was always me initiating the topic. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since I’m one of the handful of people that pays attention at all to the M’s results.)

In all seriousness though, they’re not bad. They have some good starting pitching, headlined by Felix. They have three position players that could be the base of a solid team in Cano, Seager, and Mike Zunino. The bullpen was excellent overall this year, though I always view the status of the bullpen as “transitory”.

I’ll be interested to see the Vegas line for wins next year. I’d guess it’s going to be somewhere between 78 and 83 wins. 81 wins would be .500.

That sounds about right to me.

Container Garden Update — September 29, 2014

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.

September 30, 2014 post here.

The final harvest took place last year on October 7. This year it happened on September 28. Last year we got 226 pounds out of the EarthBoxes. Yesterday’s harvest brings us to 270 pounds of produce for 2014. Improvement!

Here are yesterday’s twenty-three pounds of peppers:

140928 peppers

Overall we harvested 31 pounds of peppers in 2014. Next to the cat are ten pounds of King of the North. In the center sheet tray are two pounds of hot Pasilla peppers. Last year’s final pepper harvest is pictured below:

The October 7 harvest.

The October 7 harvest.

By weight it’s about 50% more peppers, though to be fair we also allocated more space this time. I think that 2014 shows more “red” as well.

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks breaking everything down. Last night we borrowed SeattleAuthor’s dehydrator for the Pasilla and Thai Hot peppers. He’s right — they’re so aggressively toxic that the dehydrator needs to go outside, otherwise stinging fumes fill the air.

Overall it was a pretty successful year. As a group everything that ripens, ripened better, especially the tomatoes. The yield was up somewhat when looking at 1-to-1 comparisons. Even though six of the 12 boxes fell over at some point the plants were still more productive. And we learned more things that we can apply to year three, such as the importance of support for the boxes…

“Recap” posts coming soon.

Linda Keaton’s Scooby Snacks

In one of those whoops moments. I managed to post this before I had it finished.

Last month, the Iron Chef family lost a very dear friend, Linda Keaton. Linda was known in many circles as “The Rabbit Lady” as she volunteered at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle for many years taking care of and educating the public on rabbits. To many of the close friends in the Iron Chef Family, she equally famous for bringing an appetizer to parties which many years ago we dubbed Scooby Snacks because of their delicious and addictive qualities. It won’t be the same without Linda at our gatherings, but fortunately she did show me how to make the snacks and the tradition can be carried on. The recipe is pretty easy to make (the below recipe makes about 40 pieces) and can easily be scaled for a larger quantity.

The Software

  • 6 oz. (2 cups) shredded extra sharp cheddar
  • 2 cups green onions chopped
  • 5 tablespoons of bacon bits
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 6 oz. (1 ½ cups) shredded chicken breast, poached and cooled
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup margarine


The Recipe

Poach the chicken breast in water for about 20 minutes until done. Remove from water, let cool and while it is still slightly warm, shred into bite sized pieces.

Combine cheese, onions, bacon bits, ginger, garlic, mustard, chicken and egg in a bowl and mix until well combined. Fold in the mayo until incorporated. Refigerate until needed.
Combine flour, cottage cheese, salt and margarine in a bowl. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to the flour mix and knead the dough until it becomes slightly sticky (you may not need all of the water). Let sit for 20 minutes. Roll out onto a floured surface into roughly a 16” by 12” rectangle (although it may be easier to divide the dough in half and roll out in 2 batches, just make sure the dough is rolled out to a uniformed thickness). Cut the dough into 2” by 2” squares. Add about a tablespoon of filling to the dough and fold over to form little mounds (they should be about that size of a half dollar coin).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.


I have tried a few variations of this recipe (that is going to be in a forthcoming post), but the two suggestions that I have are to use real bacon instead of bacon bits (you may have to add a pinch of salt depending on how salty the bacon is) and to use a mustard with a touch of heat – a spicy brown mustard, good dijon, horseradish mustard or jalapeno mustards will all work here. The recipe can easily be converted to vegetarian – just replace the bacon bits with a vegetarian alternative and the chicken with an equivalent amount of butternut squash that has been cubed into 1/2 inch pieces and roasted. The snacks can be served either hot or cold, but they are better hot.

Marvel Puzzle Quest Builds And Character Colors

by A.J. Coltrane

By request. Note that the builds differ based upon intended use, teammates, or preference:

Character Rarity Build 1 Build 2 Build 3
Invisible Woman **** 3/5/5 - -
Nick Fury **** 3/5/5 5/5/3 -
Wolverine **** 5/5/3 - -
Character Rarity Build 1 Build 2 Build 3
Beast *** 5/5/3 - -
Black Panther *** 5/3/5 - -
Black Widow *** 5/3/5 - -
Captain America *** 3/5/5 - -
Captain Marvel *** 3/5/5 4/5/4 -
Colossus *** 3/5/5 - -
Daken *** 5/5/3 - -
Daredevil *** 5/3/5 - -
Deadpool *** 5/5/3 - -
Doctor Doom *** 5/5 - -
Falcon *** 5/5/3 - -
Hood, The *** 5/5/3 - -
Hulk, The *** */*/5 - -
Human Torch *** 5/4/4 5/3/5 -
Iron Man *** 5/5/3 5/5/2 5/5/1
Loki *** 5/5 - -
Magneto *** 3/5/5 - -
Psylocke *** 5/3/5 - -
Punisher, The *** 3/5/5 - -
Ragnarok *** 5/5 - -
Sentry *** 3/5/5 - -
She-Hulk *** 3/5/5 5/3/5 -
Spider-Man *** 3/5/5 - -
Storm *** 5/3/5 - -
Thor *** 3/5/5 - -
Wolverine *** 5/3/5 - -
Character Rarity Build 1 Build 2 Build 3
Ares ** 4/4/5 - -
Black Widow ** 3/5/5 - -
Bullseye ** 5/5 - -
Captain America ** 3/5/5 5/4/4 -
Daken ** 5/5/3 - -
Hawkeye ** 5/5/3 3/5/5 4/5/4
Human Torch ** 5/5/3 - -
Magneto ** 3/5/5 4/5/4 -
Moonstone ** 5/5/3 - -
Spider-Man ** 3/5/5 4/1/5 -
Storm ** 5/5/3 - -
Thor ** 3/5/5 - -
Wolverine ** 5/3/3 5/4/4 4/5/4

And the color chart:

Character Rarity Yellow Red Blue Purple Green Black
Invisible Woman **** Active - Active - Active -
Nick Fury **** Active - Active Active - -
Wolverine **** Active - - - Active Active
Character Rarity Yellow Red Blue Purple Green Black
Beast *** Active - Active - Active -
Black Panther *** Active - Active - - Active
Black Widow *** - Active - Active Active -
Captain America *** Active Active Active - - -
Captain Marvel *** Passive Active - - - Active
Colossus *** Active Active - - - Active
Daken *** - - Active Passive - Passive
Daredevil *** - Active Active Active - -
Deadpool *** - Active - Active - Passive
Doctor Doom *** - - Active Hidden - Active
Falcon *** Passive - Passive Active - -
Hood, The *** Active - Passive - - Active
Hulk, The *** - Active - - Active Passive
Human Torch *** - Active - - Active Active
Iron Man *** Active Active Active - - -
Loki *** - - - Active Hidden Active
Magneto *** Active Active Active - - -
Psylocke *** - Active Active - - Active
Punisher, The *** - Active - - Active Active
Ragnarok *** - Active - - Active -
Sentry *** Active Active - - Active -
She-Hulk *** - Active Active - Active -
Spider-Man *** Active - Active Passive - -
Storm *** Active - - - Active Active
Thor *** Active Active - - Active -
Wolverine *** Passive Active - - Active -
Character Rarity Yellow Red Blue Purple Green Black
Ares ** Active Active - - Active -
Black Widow ** - - Active Active - Passive
Bullseye ** - - - Passive Hidden Active
Captain America ** Active Active Active - - -
Daken ** - - Active Passive - Passive
Hawkeye ** - Active Active Passive - -
Human Torch ** - Active - - Active Active
Magneto ** - Active Active Active - -
Moonstone ** - Active - Active - Active
Spider-Man ** Active - Active Active - -
Storm ** Passive - Active - Active -
Thor ** Active Active - - Active -
Wolverine ** Passive Active - - - -

Rick Bayless’ Tomato “Carpaccio” Salad

by A.J. Coltrane

The Actual Title is much longer than that — Heirloom Tomato “Carpaccio” With Tomatillo Salad, Avacado and Fresh Herbs. LWN recipe link here.

The recipe:


  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/4cup (lightly packed) cilantro leaves
  • 2 1/2tablespoons light vinegar (like cava or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1/4cup good-quality olive oil (or unrefined corn or peanut oil)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, usually about 1/4 teaspoon, plus addition for the sliced tomatoes
  • Salt
  • About 1cup Thinly sliced red onion (preferably the long, skinny
  • About 6ouncestomatillos, (preferably the small purple tomatillos – about 6 of them), cut into eighths (about 1 cup)
  • About 6ounces cherry tomatoes (preferably a mixture of red and yellow – about a dozen), cut in halves or quarters
  • 4 to 6medium-size ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • medium-sized avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • generous tablespoon roughly chopped fresh herb (cilantro is an easy choice, but don’t overlook basil, lemon balm, or anise hyssop – even arugula – or mixture of your favorites)


In a small, ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the unpeeled garlic, turning regularly, until soft and blotchy black in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool until handleable, then peel off the paper skin. In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, cilantro, vinegar, oil and pepper. Process until smooth, then taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon.

In a medium bowl, combine the onion, tomatillos and cherry tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of dressing. Let stand while finishing the salad, stirring from time to time.

On a very large platter, lay out the sliced tomatoes in as close to a single layer as possible.

Just before serving, dot the tomatoes with the avocado and sprinkle with the herbs and fresh-ground pepper (I like the pepper pretty coarse for the tomatoes). Drizzle with the dressing, then pile the tomatillo salad in the center, and your impressive tomato salad is ready to serve.

Some pictures:

Roasting the garlic. This is my new go-to way to roast garlic cloves. Turning on the oven to roast garlic seems so wasteful:

140919 roasted garlic

The tomatillo salad, before dressing. We used Sun Gold tomatoes because that’s what we had. (And Apple Cider vinegar as a best substitute for the recommended Rice Wine vinegar.) On the attempt that we served to company we scaled back the quantity of tomatillos a bit. Also, we decided that smaller tomatillos = better:

140919 salad

The “Carpaccio” element. Black Krim, Taxi, and Tigerella:

140919 carpaccio

The finished salad:

140919 combined salad

It’s a really nice recipe. As I mentioned, we scaled back the tomatillos a little bit for company. There’s a nice balance of sweet, fat, acid and salt. Every bite allows the opportunity to mix and match textures and flavors. We especially liked combining Sun Golds with tomatillos. Two thumbs up.

And since we’re overdue for a girl cat pic:

140920 girl cat

WSU couldn’t quite pull it off against Oregon.

Container Garden Update — September 21, 2014

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.

September 22, 2013 post here.

It seems like only yesterday…. Here’s July 24:

140724 overview 2

And today:

140921 tomato zuchinni

The cucumbers are behind me for this picture. Over the last few days we’ve pulled the tomatillos, Romas, Krims, and Oregon Spring tomatoes.

Continue reading Container Garden Update — September 21, 2014

NFL Playoff Odds

by A.J. Coltrane

From Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight site. NFL playoff odds based on current record:

resized chart

The most interesting thing to me is the huge swings in probability that can take place early in the season — a season can functionally be over after the first three games.

3-0 — 75% playoff odds.

2-1  – 53% playoff odds.

1-2  – 25% playoff odds.

0-3  – 2% playoff odds.

If at any point a team is .500 or below then they’re worse than a coin flip to make the playoffs. Really, a team needs to have at least two more wins than losses to feel reasonably comfortable about their postseason hopes.

I’m guessing there’s going to be a fair amount of freaking out around Seattle if Sunday doesn’t go well for the Seahawks. After seeing this chart I might be a little less inclined to ignore the freakout.

Still, the 1-1 Seahawks are making the playoffs regardless of what happens against the Broncos.


Lunch In A Box Is Back From Hiatus

by A.J. Coltrane

I often used to go to It’s a website featuring tips and ideas using bento boxes. It got me excited enough about the process to buy a bento box for myself.

She’s now back from a four year “break”, with a few new posts since May. The archives are worth a look if you’re at all interested.

Late edit –   This Top Tips Link is a great place to start.

Container Garden Update — September 14, 2014

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.

September 15, 2013 post here.

35 pounds of stuff today, 47 pounds for the week(!) We’re now over 200 pounds of produce for the year.

Today’s harvest. It mostly covered the dining room table:

140914 harvest

Tuesday looks paltry by comparison:

Continue reading Container Garden Update — September 14, 2014

A Quick Weeknight Pizza

by A.J. Coltrane

A big disadvantage of preparing a two-hour dough is that it’s not enough time for enzymes to liberate natural sugars from the flour. The flavor suffers as a result, and the color is rarely as nicely carmelized as seen on longer-rise doughs.

Last week’s Batali dough got me thinking about adding sugar, or honey, to a quick mid-week pizza. The formula below is influenced by that last recipe, omitting the wine but increasing the water content:

Ingredient Measure Baker’s %
AP Flour 400g
Water 260g 65
Salt 9g 2.25
Honey 1 TBP
Instant Yeast 1.5 tsp
Olive Oil 1 TBP

That’s a lot of flour — the same amount as goes in the No-Knead breads, or even two medium size pizzas. For a single pizza I’ll more often use 200 or 300 grams of flour, scaling back the other ingredients as needed. This was a thick pizza:

140909 pizza

Chopped fresh tomatoes, mozz, basil. The crust was finished with an herbed olive oil. (A post on that later, it’s a nice local producer. We purchased the oil at the farmer’s market.)

The recipe:

1.  Knead all ingredients at low speed for 10 minutes. Let rise two hours. Preheat oven to 500F.

2.  While the oven is preheating, halve the tomatoes across the equator and squeeze out the worst of the juice. Chop the tomatoes, basil, and mozz.

3.  Very lightly oil a pizza pan, apply the stretched dough. Top the dough with the chopped tomatoes.

4.  Bake for 10 minutes. At the 10 minute mark sprinkle on the mozz.

5.  Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and strew on the basil. Lightly brush the crust with olive oil.

The pizza would have been improved by using somewhat less flour, and possibly by swapping out the AP flour for Bread flour. Marinating the tomatoes in garlic would have been good too.

I was fairly happy with it overall. I think it’s the “right track” for quick weeknight dinners.