Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rhode Island Coast RIde


Tandem ride on Saturday June 12 2010. The Rhode Island coast is a great place to bike: smooth roads, flat, relatively little traffic. Rural seacoast towns, the Westport city signs even saying "A Right to Farm Community". Starting at Westport Elementary School we went south to Gooseberry Neck (photo above), then north to Tiverton. South along a beautiful srip along the Sakonnet river, then on to Little Compton for lunch, including fantastic local strawberry shortcake. Route is shown below. Click on "Show Details" for more, and you can even vicariously share the ride by clicking on the "Player" link once you are at the Garmin Connect page.



Got lucky with the weather. Despite threats of thundershowers, we only had brief periods of real rain, and temps were warm enough to avoid a chill depite our blazing speed.

Photos show views of Sakonnet river and an example of the many types of beautiful stone walls seen along this route. Could do a full photo album just showing these walls, and surrounding plantings. Hydrangeas are abundant, at this time of year just beginning to show mature flower blooms (should have taken a photo!). Also saw lupines, and of course the ubiquitous invasives mutliflora rose and honeysuckle.
The dock at Westport Point combines commercial and pleasure uses. Saw a sign "Shellfish Hatchery" and these lobster cages.
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thomas Sims and Learning from Big Mistakes

Visited Charleston South Carolina, March 17-22, in search of sun and warm weather, bloom, inspiration and R&R. Always a welcome place, they have a Garden Festival in March-April.

It's hard to visit Charleston and not think about history. It's everywhere, well promoted and supported. It's also hard not to feel remorseful and more, reflecting on slavery in our country's history. I learned and relearned much from reading "A Short History of Charleston" by Robert Rosen. Also some great exhibits at The National Parks Service exhibit at the Fort Sumter Visitor Center. At the Visitor Center I read quotes from Abraham Lincoln, shocking, but exhibiting an acute pragmatism, along with a reminder of how we are shaped by our surroundings. Full text of the Visitor Center Exhibit is available online, another example of the treasure of our NPS. See pg 15 for the Lincoln quote that shocked me.

Today's Boston Globe ran a story on the Thomas Sims Fugitive Slave incident. Despite being a progressive town, in 1851 Boston city government complied with the new Fugitive Slave Law, and dramatically escorted Thomas Sims back to slavery in Georgia. An idealogical hotbed for abolitionism and human rights, Boston citizens did not find a way to stop this. The Caning of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner in 1856 in the US Senate chamber is also mentioned. I had to look it up because I'd never heard of such an outrageous action, comparable in some ways to Joe Wilson's "You Lie" not a physical threat, but delivered publicly.

The very well-written article by Steve Puleo, also makes a "take home" point: great big mistakes can teach us the error in our ways, and then, foster actual ACTION. I would add, the power of pragmatism being stronger than we acknowledge, uncomfortable or inconvenient consequences are usually required. Sometimes however, just realizing the horror is enough. And it made me wonder, what are the mistakes we are making now, in our personal and collective (political) lives, that should be shocking and energizing????

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Short Love Story

Ok, what was the last really good love story movie or book you read? No, Casablanca doesn't count. Away from Her might. But if you have 16 minutes, you might like this. If you like it, you might consider leaving some comments at YouTube.



"Validation" is a fable about the magic of free parking. Starring TJ Thyne & Vicki Davis. Writer/Director/Composer - Kurt Kuenne. Winner - Best Narrative Short, Cleveland Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Jury Award, Gen Art Chicago Film Festival, Winner - Audience Award, Hawaii Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Comedy, Breckenridge Festival of Film, Winner - Crystal Heart Award, Best Short Film & Audience Award, Heartland Film Festival, Winner - Christopher & Dana Reeve Audience Award, Williamstown Film Festival, Winner - Best Comedy, Dam Short Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Film, Sedona Int'l Film Festival.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"It's Just Dough"

I asked a friend of mine, who was a chef, for advice on making pizza dough. I had the recipe, but I wanted to know the arcane secrets and rituals held close by the trade. He admonished "It's Just DOUGH", with little additional explanation. We mixed, kneaded, punched down, rolled out. I've been doing it for years. Can't say that it comes out the same each time, but it's always delicious.

Just Dough (for pizza, or hard dinner bread/rolls)

1 Package Quick-Rise dry yeast
1 Cup Hot Water (about 120 degrees F)
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Salt
2.5 Cups Bread Flour (or, I usually mix All-Purpose with Wheat at approx 1:1)
1 Tablespoon Coarse Corn Meal

  • Mix yeast with water in medium-size mixing bowl.
  • Stir in 3 Tb olive oil, salt.
  • Add in Flour.
  • Knead for 7 Minutes, then allow to rest at least 15 minutes.
  • Begin Preheating oven with pizza stone placed on a shelf in middle to 475 (at least 450 F).
  • Divide dough in half, roll out to 11" rounds.
  • Sprinkle pizza peel with corn meal.
  • Transfer dough to pizza peel.
  • Brush top of dough with olive oil.
  • Add desired toppings. Consider adding herbs after baking.
  • Bake at 475F on a pizza stone (essential for crisp crust; I haven't tried a perforated metal pan, which might work).
  • Usually done in about 15-20 minutes - watch closely, check by lifting with an ovenproof tool.
  • Remove the whole pizza stone from oven when done - you need very heavy oven mitts because the stone is VERY VERY HOT.
  • Cut with pizza wheel, leave pizza on hot stone to keep crisp.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Local Fest at "Not Your Average Joe's"

I've always considered "Not Your Average Joe's" a reliable restaurant. I'm glad that one is conveniently in Arlington center (MA). But I was pleasantly surprised by the creativity and flair they are now showing in their "Local Fest" menu, featured in August. I stopped in for lunch one day last week.

Often chefs will make a nod toward use of local ingredients, by offering them in one or two appetizers and entrees. The "Local Fest Menu" at NYAJ's is a full menu, offered in addition to their regular menu. Not only food, but excellent local craft beer (on draft) and wines are featured.

I was tempted to try the locally harvested Semolina Scallops entree. After much deliberation I opted for the Smoked Chicken with Succotash and Polenta when I saw that the chicken was from the Smokehouse in Roxbury. This camera-phone shot doesn't do the dish justice - the meat was juicy, tender and very flavorful, permeated by a smoky taste, but not to excess. The innovative take on succotash worked well, incorporating tiny tomatoes just as tasty as they should be in mid-August along with a flavorful green. The polenta was also quite good, and perfectly cooked. In addition to the Cisco "Sankaty Light" lager, other local beers were available, including the Wachusett "Blueberry Ale".

The chefs at NYAJ's have risen above and beyond in the challenge to showcase local bounty. One can only hope that this will become a regular feature of the menu. Bravo!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Team Darryl Granola Bars

Team Darryl is a group made up of friends and family of Darryl Goss. Darryl is an extraordinary person, who I was lucky to meet while we both were riding our bikes in the 2006 "Tri State Trek" fundraiser for the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS-TDI). Darryl has ALS, and has inspired us all by the way he is meeting the realities of this disease.

Team Darryl rode bikes and worked as support crew for the Tri State Trek in 2008. Together Team Darryl will raise over $20,000 in 2008, which goes directly to fund research at the ALS-TDI in Cambridge MA, a non-profit biotech company with the sole mission of finding a cure for ALS. I'm not sure what the total for all riders is, but I think it is more than $400,000! On September 21 2008, some members of Team Darryl met to have some fun riding bikes again, in the 2008 "Hub on Wheels" ride through the city of Boston. I made the Granola Bars using the recipe below.


"Team Darryl" Granola Bars

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried apricots or dried mango, finely chopped
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup nonfat powder milk
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey (use buckwheat for stronger malty flavor)
1 cup almond butter (can sub peanut butter or cashew butter)
Canola oil (just enough to lightly coat baking tray)
Salt

Preheat oven to 350F

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well with wooden spoon.

Oil baking sheet (10x14" fit well) with canola oil; spread mixture flat and evenly. Salt the slab lightly, or to taste. (Salt was not in original recipe but I think it helps both in taste and for replacing salt lost during activities like biking or running or biking or hiking or biking. Remember our leader Mat Mendel's advice: "Enjoy the pickles!")

Bake 10-15 minutes, until just showing signs of crispness around edges, or to your preferred degree of toast.

Let cool completely, then cut into bars (but leave in pan). I used a pizza wheel and knife.

Place uncovered in fridge or freezer to harden.

Remove bars from pan and wrap individually with waxed paper or foil (wax paper is the greener option).

This recipe was published in the Boston "Weekly Dig" newspaper, and was attributed there to "Kevin Hays, Category 4 bike racer and speedy metabolizer".
If you like the Team Darryl Granola bars, please consider making a donation to help Darryl meet the extraordinary expenses he is facing to cope with ALS. You can give me (Joe) a check for any amount made out to "FBO Darryl" or mail it to FBO Darryl, 14 Connecticut Avenue, 2nd FloorSomerville, MA 02145.
If you want to join Team Darry, and ride or crew for the 2009 Tri State Trek (July 24-26 2009) just let me know, and I'll ask our mascot bear to pay you a visit!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Barbequed Shrimp Recipe

Here is a favorite recipe for BBQ'd shrimp, of a style you might find in New Orleans, where sometimes crawfish might substitute for the shrimp. Traditional presentation would be with sauce coating shrimp with shells intact. I usually do the shelling in the kitchen prior to cooking the shrimp in the recipe. Another alternative would be to prepare the sauce only, and then cook shrimp "on the barbie" outside. Don't be daunted by the long ingredient list. Some can be left out, or have fun improvising. Thickness of sauce can be tweaked by chef too.

1/4 cup butter (half stick, cut into chunks)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary leaves (a mortar and pestle is helpful)
2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1/4 chopped fresh)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dry white wine (Gewurztraminer or Pinot Gris work well but anything tart is fine).

2 pounds large shrimp (can be in shell or peeled, as you prefer).

In a large wide skillet, melt butter and saute garlic on very low heat for two minutes only. You don't want the garlic to brown at all. Stir in bay leaf, rosemary, paprika, black pepper, lemon juice, basil, oregano, salt, brown sugar, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 1 minute.

Increase heat to medium, add shrimp and shake to coat with seasonings, about 2-3 minutes. Add wine, heat, being sure to not overcook shrimp. Serving suggestion: in bowls with sauce poured over with crusty french bread on the side.