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EarthBox 2014 Recap — The Peppers

by A.J. Coltrane

2013 Pepper recap here.

The final 2014 harvest:

140928 peppers

The 2013 harvest came to 22.2 pounds of peppers from 11 plants — 2 pounds per plant. This year we bumped it up to 18 plants and got 31.0 pounds. That’s 1.7 pounds per plant — a 15% reduction in yield, though that’s close enough to call it the same. About half of the fruit ripened this year, which was a big impovement over last year’s ~20%. (The tomatoes ripened better as well. Not a coincidence I’d bet.)

The table:

Hot Variety Count Weight/per Total Weight
Anaheim College 64 1 2.4 2.4
Hungarian Hot Wax 1 0.9 0.9
Jalapeno 1 2.8 2.8
Thai Hot 1 0.5 0.5
Sweet Variety Count Weight/per Total Weight
Alma Paprika 1 0.4 0.4
Cute Stuff 1 1.6 1.6
Gourmet 2 1.1 2.2
Gypsy 2 2.8 4.7
Karma 1 1.6 1.6
King of the North 5 2 9.9
Pasilla Bajio 1 1.9 1.9
Tequila Sunrise 1 2.2 2.2

I’m thinking that somebody mis-labeled the Pasillas (the center front sheet tray pictured above). The Tilth description says that they get 8″-10″. We got little 1″-2″ fireballs that looked more like Thai Hot peppers. It could be that the Pasillas were actually Thai Hot peppers. The foliage was super similar, and completely tangled up.

140906 thai hot

We lost a few more sweet peppers than I would have liked to (I think) earwigs. The diatomaceous earth that was applied late in the year may or may not have slowed down the bugs.

140906 Gypsy

Peppers are one of those plants that we can never grow too many. They’re attractive, low maintenance and always enjoyed at the table. Overall I was happy with the outcome.

140921 anaheim

I’m thinking maybe we increase it to two jalapeno plants in 2015.

More Appointment Viewing

by A.J. Coltrane

Saturday sees Dak Prescott and # 1 Mississippi State play Kentucky. 12:30, CBS.

This week’s Sports Illustrated cover:

prescott141021

Then Colt McCoy starts for Washington on Monday Night Football:

mccoy141021

It very likely represents an aggregate “peak” for those two, but…  FUN!

Container Garden Update — October 19, 2014

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.

Row covers:

141019 cold frames1

Everything is arranged under the deck. The afternoon and evening sun hits the boxes — I *think* there’s adequate light.

The south end. These boxes get direct afternoon sun for a couple of hours, at least:

141019 cold frames2

The bit of green visible through the row cover:

141019 pak choi spinach

Pak Choi in the right-hand box, interplanted with spinach. The box on the left is a mono-spinach box.

One more overview:

141019 cold frames3

The cold frame separates the two “banks” of boxes. There is another box with carrots inside the cold frame.

In theory the row covers will break the worst of the wind and rain. The microclimate should be vaguely warmer, calmer, and drier.

It may be that the “right answer” is to build cold frames to go over the row covers. Maybe next year.

—–

Row cover link. The 5′ width fits nicely over the 9 gauge wire frames. It cut easily to the length needed.

 

The GNOIF Big Sandwich Bread

by A.J. Coltrane

I’ve been making a sheet-tray sized sandwich for every GNOIF over at least the last two or three years. The bread components of those sandwiches have all been riffs on focaccia.

The most recent ratios:

Ingredient Measure Baker’s %
Flour 600g
Water 420g 70
Salt 14g 2.33
Honey 1 TBP
Instant Yeast 1.5 tsp
Olive Oil 36g 6

The “Flour” for the pictured bread is 50% Gold Medal unbleached AP flour and 50% King Arthur bread flour. I added a small amount of honey to try to improve the browning, which seemed to work ok. It’s largely the same process as “Potluck Focaccia” — I’ve settled into a preferred routine for focaccia it seems:

1.  Combine all ingredients in a mixer and combine on low speed for 10 minutes. Lightly oil a parchment lined sheet tray.
2.  Pour the dough into the sheet tray, gently coaxing the dough towards the edges of the pan. Cover and let rest 2 hours.
3.  Preheat oven to 425F.
4.  When the oven is hot, drizzle a small amount of oil on the dough. Gently coax the oil over the surface.
5.  Bake for 15 minutes, turn the tray 180 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes.

141004 focaccia

This one is roast beef and ham with swiss. The flavored mayo (which one guest mistook for mustard) included olive oil, salt, “Montreal Steak Seasoning”, and a healthy dose of horseradish. (The pungency of the horseradish is likely what crossed him up.)

There are now 14 posts that reference focaccia on CheapSeatEats. It still trails pizza, which gets at least a mention in 55 posts (though I’m sure there’s some overlap)… We clearly love us some flattish breads.

 

Winter Planting Lead Time

by A.J. Coltrane

I’m attempting to at loosely nail down the timing for starting winter vegetables, with the thought that we could harvest all winter and into the spring, rather than just waiting for the spring growth.

The idea is to select winter hardy plants and have them mostly full-grown by whenever the cold and lack of sunlight stops their development. It then becomes an issue of figuring out when that “growth stops” date is. It’s gotta be sometime in the next four weeks, right?

The table below is intended to take at least some of the “figuring” out of the equation. The “Days” is days to maturity.  The dates in bold along the top are potential “growth stops” dates. Most of the plants that we’ve selected are 30-50 days to maturity, with a few outliers running as much as 75 days or longer, so I’ve centered the table on 50 days:

Days Sep-10 Sep-24 Oct-1 Oct-14 Oct-28 Nov-14
25 Aug-16 Aug-30 Sep-6 Sep-19 Oct-3 Oct-20
30 Aug-11 Aug-25 Sep-1 Sep-14 Sep-28 Oct-15
35 Aug-6 Aug-20 Aug-27 Sep-9 Sep-23 Oct-10
40 Aug-1 Aug-15 Aug-22 Sep-4 Sep-18 Oct-5
45 Jul-27 Aug-10 Aug-17 Aug-30 Sep-13 Sep-30
50 Jul-22 Aug-5 Aug-12 Aug-25 Sep-8 Sep-25
55 Jul-17 Jul-31 Aug-7 Aug-20 Sep-3 Sep-20
60 Jul-12 Jul-26 Aug-2 Aug-15 Aug-29 Sep-15
65 Jul-7 Jul-21 Jul-28 Aug-10 Aug-24 Sep-10
70 Jul-2 Jul-16 Jul-23 Aug-5 Aug-19 Sep-5
75 Jun-27 Jul-11 Jul-18 Jul-31 Aug-14 Aug-31

As an example, assuming a 50-day maturity, and targeting October 28 for “growth stop” gives September 8 as the date to sow the seed. Ideally the plant will be 90%+ developed whenever the brakes hit.

Of course, I could have just consulted this. (link)

winter-gardening-chart-2013

The thing with the Territorial Seed Co. table is that the harvest dates are all over the place. That’s likely because they’re actually doing it “right”, or it’s how the majority of their customers choose to do it, but I’m hoping that “the other way” works too. We’ll see.

GNOIF: Monsters, Murder, And Mayhem — The Recap

by A.J. Coltrane

GNOIF # 14 recap — Monsters, Murder, And Mayhem (Death and Destruction themes.)

Games That Got Played — Bang!, Dead Fellas, The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, Zombie Fluxx, Get Dr. Lucky, King of Tokyo, Last Night On Earth, Mr. Jack N.Y., Mystery of the Abbey, Poo!

Games That Didn’t Get Played — Betrayal At The House On The Hill, Dead Money, Dracula, Guillotine, Mr. Jack (Pocket), Zombie Munchkin, Small World, Vampire Hunter, Zombies!!!

We played more different games than usual — 10 last night. The average is around seven. That’s partly because people were earlier arriving overall, partly because the crowd split off into smaller groups, and also because no one game dominated a big group for a big chunk of the evening. The largest games were Bang! and Fluxx, which are both games that move briskly and end quickly.

I love Last Night On Earth. We played the Die! Zombies Die! scenario. The object is to kill 15 zombies before sundown (15 turns), and unfortunately for the Heroes:

1.  The Zombie Lord knew what he was doing.

2.  The Heroes were betrayed by a lack of reliable weapons. At one point we had three Revolvers, all of which were discarded due to lack of ammo after the first (missed) shot. We had two sticks of dynamite, but no “fire”..

Despite all that, Johnny the Jock almost managed to bail the Heroes out, going on a rampage with the Chainsaw as darkness approached. He succumbed to the fever after cutting a wide swath through the undead. The Father had already martyred himself to stop the worst of the Zombie Lord’s machinations. The Zombies were victorious with time to spare, though the ending was exciting, and Johnny died an epic death.

We’ll get ‘em next time. Thanks for playing all!

Yelp And Michelin Do New York

by A.J. Coltrane

By Nate Silver, posted on his Five-Thirty-Eight site. The piece looks at the correlation between Yelp reviews and Michelin stars in New York. “Yelp and Michelin Have The Same Taste In New York Restaurants”  (Please excuse the messiness. I didn’t feel like spending my evening winnowing out the hyperlinks):

…Yelp and Michelin largely agree on the best restaurants.

Michelin revealed its 2015 ratings for New York on Tuesday. I took each restaurant on the Michelin list and looked up its Yelp rating. I also looked up Yelp ratings for restaurants that have lost their Michelin stars since Michelin first published a New York guide in November 2005. This serves as a control group for “Michelin-esque” restaurants that are no longer performing up to the guide’s standards.2

Firstly – (VORB is an aggregate of Yelp review volume and quality and Michelin ratings.):

…There’s a reasonably strong correlation between Yelp and Michelin ratings. Of current and former Michelin-starred restaurants, those with the highest VORB scores are Le Bernardin (28.7), Eleven Madison Park (28.2), Gramercy Tavern (27.7),Daniel (26.6), Per Se (25.9) and Jean-Georges (23.3). Four of those six restaurants have three Michelin stars, the top rating. The exceptions are Daniel, which was just demoted to two Michelin stars, and Gramercy Tavern, which has one.

And:

By contrast, most of the restaurants with the lowest VORB scores have since lost their Michelin stars, (and in some cases have also closed). The bottom five are the defunct Vong and the still-open LautPok Pok NYLan Shengand A Voce Columbus. Mind you, these aren’t the worst restaurants in New York. I’d personally vouch for a couple of them as being pretty good. But the standard is high, and Yelpers feel they’re closer to average than to the top tier…

…The restaurants to have lost their Michelin stars have 3.83 Yelp stars on average, barely better than the average for all restaurants citywide. Each additional Michelin star translates to about 0.2 additional Yelp stars. The one-starred Michelin restaurants have an average Yelp rating of 4.02 stars. The Michelin two-star restaurants have a Yelp rating of 4.25. The Michelin three-star restaurants average 4.47 Yelp stars.

That’s what I found the most interesting — relatively lowish Yelp reviews tend to foreshadow the loss of Michelin stars.

Finally:

Outside of the canonical European cuisines (French, Italian) and “new American” food,12 Michelin seems to struggle. Thai restaurants and Indian restaurants, for example, have often won Michelin stars only to lose them a couple of years later. It’s almost as though Michelin is cycling through representatives of these cuisines at random — putting forth some effort to increase the diversity of its list but not going to great lengths to identify the best examples.

Which… I don’t know… The list can’t be all European or they’d never hear the end of it. I’d like to think the Michelin reviewers just couldn’t come to a consensus due to lack of familiarity, but who knows? And maybe I’m cynical thinking that maybe they’re cynical..

I’d assume that the Yelp reviews are influenced at least somewhat by the Michelin rank, but maybe that street runs the other way too? Michelin would have a hard time convincing diners of the authoritative quality of their guide if they favored restaurants unpopular with the unwashed crowdsourcing masses.

Anyways, lots of food for thought.

 

 

Who’s That?

by A.J. Coltrane

Breakfast on Saturday was at the Elliot Bay Brewery on Lake City.  The Mississippi State/Texas A&M game was on the TV.

The MSU quarterback made a pretty throw on the move….

Me:  “Who’s that?”

My Dining Companion:  “Oh no.”

….

See, everytime I say that phrase it indicates in a new Man Crush. And I never shut up about who I saw. I deposit that thought places like this.

The most recent “Who’s that?” was Colt McCoy (as a Freshman). Earlier “Who’s that?” athletes have included Kevin Garnett and Randall Cunningham.

So… Meet Dak Prescott:

He's basically the same size as the Defensive Lineman(!)

He’s basically the same size as the Defensive Lineman(!)

A little bit of research this morning shows that he’s currently the #13 NFL QB prospect (linked above), and he’s SI’s frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. Prescott is listed at 6’2″, 235 pounds, though he’s likely both shorter and heavier than that. (For comparison, Marshawn Lynch’s listed weight is 215.) From what I saw he throws a nice spiral and has excellent touch and accuracy. I’ve read that his best comp is Tim Tebow, except that Prescott can throw, and he has a nice, over the top motion, rather than Tebow’s mess of a delivery.

Dak Prescott

And then the bartender changed over to the Ohio State game… Which makes MSU appointment viewing soon.

Hence the “Oh no.” from my dining companion. (That, and I won’t shut up about it.)

Container Garden Update — October 4, 2014

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.

October 7, 2013 post here.

141004 watering cans2

We still had summer vegetables growing at this time last year. They’re long gone by now this time around, replaced by winter vegetables:

Bunch Onions

Bunch Onions

I’m still figuring out when to start winter veg, and what varieties do best in cold/long storage conditions. As an example, small, fast, round radishes do best in the spring and are intended to be harvested promptly after they’re ready. Longer maturity “carrot-shaped” radishes tolerate being held in the ground much better. Actual carrots have 4 or 5 different broad types as well. This is all new to me — just like I assumed that *all* vegetables did well in the heat of summer, it never occurred to me that different varieties of certain vegetables prefer either fall/winter or spring.

It may be that the vegetables in the EarthBoxes have been direct-seeded too late in the year. In the future we may start them in pots a month or so earlier an then transplant when the summer veg has been cleared out of the way. As it is, the plants in the whisky-barrel containers are well ahead of the EarthBox plants. Pictured below are spinach and cilantro that were started about a month ago (I should have labeled the date next to the new sowing.) I left the dill in place that’s now around two months old.

141004 dill spinach

They’re covered with bird netting because something — I think squirrels — had been digging in the newly exposed dirt. The carrots below are protected from flies with tulle:

141004 carrot

That’s carrots in the foreground, bunch onions under plastic in the middle, and romaine/arugula in the whisky barrel. I’m guessing that the whisky barrels don’t drain well enough for the alliums, which led to the shallots rotting this spring.

Other recently planted boxes include mache/parsley (interplanted); mache/cilantro (interplanted); spinach; pak choi; more bunch onions; mache; dill; and leeks. This afternoon at least one of the tomato boxes is going to become shallots.

It seems everything is doing better in the cold frame, so the open boxes got plastic-covered hoop houses. More pictures next week. Hopefully there will be something to show.

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.