Weeknight Flatbread With Rye Flour And Greek Yogurt

A weeknight flatbread recipe that looks and tastes like more effort than it really is-

As an example, an easy flatbread recipe might be something like:

Combine 300 grams AP flour, 185 grams room temperature water (65% hydration), 6 grams kosher salt (2% of the flour by weight), and 1 tsp instant yeast in a stand mixer. Knead on low speed for 8 minutes. Cover and let rest 1 hour. Divide the dough into 3 balls, cover, and let rest another 30 minutes. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Stretch the doughs out into loose rounds 6-8″ across. Brush each side of the discs lightly with olive oil, and cook 2-4 minutes per side until done and browned to taste. Wrap the finished breads in a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.

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The Poker Chip Diet After Year One

One year into the Poker Chip Diet and I think it’s going pretty well. I lost 25.4 pounds this year, which represents a little less than 10% of my January 1, 2021 bodyweight. My goal was 25 pounds, with 35 pounds as a stretch goal:

A picture from January. 35 total poker chips representing one pound each. Weight to lose on the left. Weight successfully lost on the right.

It’s really nice having lost some extra weight. My joints and back feel better. I don’t snore as much, or grunt when I bend over anymore. I’m sure there are other internal parts of my body that are happier with less fat around too.

I’ve moved enough of the chips to the right that I think I’m feeling too much sense of accomplishment and too little motivation, so I’m going to reset the chips:

The new goal is 10 more pounds, with 15 pounds as the stretch goal. Even 10 pounds would put me at a reasonable and healthy sustainable weight that ideally I could maintain into old age.

The other new goal for 2022 is to try to go for a walk at least 4 days per week. Walking works well for me because I can’t get halfway through the exercise and then quit for the day. At that point I still have to walk home. I began 2021 by going for walks daily, then things happened and for a while walking was no longer a priority, and I never restarted the walks. I think getting in at least some walking will improve my muscle tone and hopefully make me less likely to get injured doing routine things around the house. It should make my joints feel better too.

For me the weight loss has been about food discipline — portion control and monitoring my total daily calorie intake. I’ve been weighing in at least weekly — if I’ve been slack the scale doesn’t lie about it. If I feel like I’ve leveled out then getting on the scale daily helps, too many cheat days become very obvious very fast.

So there’s that. At least one more update to come in the future.

Happy Holidays

2021 Container Garden Recap

Our yield for the year was 112.6 pounds from 10 EarthBoxes. This is a lower amount than when we started gardening, but higher than the last couple of years. I think the factors that have led to the lower yield include:

  • Aging potting soil. We’ve replaced a good portion of it over time but salts may be building up and/or the soil may be getting denser. How much this negatively impacts growth I’m not sure.
  • In 2019 and 2020 the weather included lots of wildfire smoke during the peak growing season.
  • We’ve been sourcing the plants from different places since the pandemic started. Historically it’s been the annual Seattle Tilth Plant Sale, but that hasn’t been a real option the last couple of years for us. We’ve been buying the plants from “reputable nurseries” instead, so I’d like to think the sourcing isn’t that big of a deal.
  • We might be cramping the plants on the patio. The right answer might be to grow more shorter plant varieties. It feels like the patio might be getting less sun than in 2013, due to trees growing bigger all around the property.
  • I think the early enthusiasm for gardening has worn off, and we’ve been relatively shorter on free time the last couple of years, so I’m not doting over the plants like I had been. I’ve sort of pivoted to “maximum output relative to work input.”

Overall it felt like everything “popped” sort of late but in any event we still got a decent yield by year end. The “pounds” amounts below are for the full box or boxes

Marketmore Cucumbers – 1 box, 4 plants, 21.1 pounds. This is lower than some years, though the fruits themselves kept good shape and taste all season. The quality was better but it felt like the plants were shorter than usual.

Black Beauty Eggplant – 1 box, 2 plants, 1.4 pounds. The first year we’ve grown eggplant of any type. My feeling is that the eggplant box could have been in a sunnier spot though at the height of summer it may have gotten to hot on the patio for the plants to be happy. They set fruit really late, so the fact that we got any at all was a pleasant surprise. If we do eggplant again we’ll move them to a different location on the patio and *possibly* try hand pollinating to help things along. Additionally: I think the plants themselves were mislabeled and they were actually Chinese or Zebra eggplants – they were relatively spherical and had stripes.

Carmen Peppers – 1 box, 6 plants, 8.8 pounds. This is right in line with the 1.5 pounds per plant we’ve seen from Carmen Peppers historically. They ripened well overall and we lost very few to critters. Our favorite peppers to grow come though again.

King of The North Peppers – 1 box, 6 plants, 3.8 pounts. These kind of got out-competed by the Carmens. They were adjacent to the Carmens but the Carmens flopped on top of them to some degree. Not a great yield but again we lost very few to critters — 3.8 pounds is “fine”.

Black Krim Tomato – 1 box, 2 plants, 12.5 pounds. This represents a below average yield for this variety. On the bright side almost all of the tomato plants either ripened on the vine or ripened after harvest. We grow these every year for the terrific earthy flavor and this year lived up to expectations.

Green Zebra and Tigerella Tomatoes – 1 box, 2 plants, 11.5 pounds. Planting to tomatoes that look that much the same next to each other wasn’t the best idea. The Green Zebra was the weaker of the two plants, so I’d guess the total yield is more Tigerallas.

Oregon Spring Tomato – 1 box, 2 plants, 20.2 pounds This represents a below average yield for what is always a top performer. They still ripened first, though I think we lost a few pounds to critters taking a chunk out of semi-mature fruit.

Roma Tomato – 2 boxes, 4 plants, 26.8 pounds. Below average yield again, but literally everything ripened. We ripened all of the unripe and semi-ripe tomatoes on cooling racks on the floor of the kitchen near a heater vent. I think the air flow and warmth helped ensure ripening rather than rotting. We grew plants from two different farms and they seemed to produce equally well.

Tromboncino Zucchini – 1 box, 2 plants, 4.3 pounds. Another downer year for a plant that is relatively more labor intensive than some other possible choices. It may be that we need to hand pollinate these for a better yield, or put them in a location where they get more sun.

We also got more basil than we could possibly use from the EarthBoxes, as well as a good amount of beans and scallions. The raised beds provided a nice amount of asparagus, rosemary, thyme, chives, and garlic chives.

Overall that’s 73 pounds of tomatoes and the freezer is full of tomato sauce. We enjoyed fresh cucumbers and tomatoes over the summer. If we’re going to spend “extra” time in the yard then producing our own food feels like a rewarding time-sink.

I Might Have Co-Opted The Sweater Drying Rack

About a month ago it was pretty much the end of basil season here North of Seattle. Any additional growth would be a “bonus”. This year I didn’t wait around until basil turned purple — I proactively cut best looking 3-6″ everywhere on the plants and hung them on the sweater drying rack:

There are also oregano sprigs laying across the top of the bars on the left-hand side. The stuff that was too small to hang on its own wound up on a window screen that we laid flat between two chairs.

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Alphabetical Sorted List of Games on Doc and Pies 412 Retro Arcade Cabinet

We recently purchased the Doc & Pies 412 game arcade cabinet. I may do an in-depth review of what we think in a later post. A few bullet points:

  1. It has a lot of the games we wanted. Of the 412 games we’ll eventually play probably 30-50 of them, and about 10-20 of them we’ll play frequently. Winners (for us) include Ms. Pac Man, Pac Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Galaga, Galaxian, Sinistar, Lady Bug, Bump n Jump, Tetris, Dig Dug, Raiden, Xevious, Zaxxon, Burger Time, and Mr. Do, as well as modified games like “fast shoot Galaga”.
  2. Any game that requires a “spin” controller won’t play well, to the point where they’re not worth bothering with. This knocks out some favorites like Tempest, Arkanoid, and Tron. There is no “roller” controller either, which knocks out Centipede and Millipede if you’re serious about them. Q-Bert also won’t play correctly — I think that’s because it’s a 4-way joystick and not an 8-way joystick.
  3. The volume controller can only be accessed by removing four screws on the back of the machine. There’s a significant difference in loudness between some games. We wound up setting the volume on the low side and leaving it.
  4. The games, annoyingly, are not loaded alphabetically into the machine. Because I couldn’t find an alphabetical list anywhere — below is a list of all games sorted with their associated game number. Ours is printed out onto four pages. We used colorful paper and laminated them, the lamination should dramatically increase the life span of the lists.
  5. Overall it’s not perfect, but it’s fairly reasonable considering the price point. It’s a fun looking box. We selected the Galaga stickers but it’s available with others:

It’s about 40-50 pounds and fairly substantial. We’ll see how it holds up — it coughed today when we turned it on, but so far no other glitches.

The list of games is below the break-

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Container Garden Update — July 10, 2021

The weather has been cooperative North of Seattle so far this year. No overcast and rainy May. No smoke filled skies from wildfires. We’ll start seeing Harvests Of Things in the next 10-14 days, which is right on pace with when it’s been nice outside for most of the summer.

An overview pic from the “front”. The camera is pointed mostly East, slightly North:

That’s tomatoes on the left, peppers in the center, and basil on the right. On the back left are the Tromboncino zucchini, on the right are cucumbers, and behind the cucumbers are pole beans.

The first cucumbers are nearly ready:

We had a day in the 100’s recently. The basil absolutely loves that, though I’m guessing concrete and the garden area must have been over 110 degrees:

Last year we made a big bag of “Italian Seasoning” with oregano from our raised beds and the basil. I see another big bag or two in our future.

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An Improvised Ultomato Stake Trellis, And An Update To The 2014 A-Frame Trellis Post

I originally posted about the A-frame style trellises in 2014. The external links on that post are dead now, so today’s post includes an update with a few close-ups and explanations of the details of construction.

First the improvised Ultomato trellis:

I’m hoping this is a more stable answer than putting the stakes directly into the boxes — almost every year at least one pepper box has toppled over on a windy day when the plants are heavy with fruit.

This was done with 60″ Ultomato stakes and held together with cable ties. It barely covers two 30″ EarthBoxes lengthwise. The commonly available 48″ stakes would work too, but would only cover one box. The “X’s” at the ends are 24″ wide.

I built this by myself, though an extra set of hands would have been very helpful, especially in the early stages. I wound up creating both “X’s”, then leaning one against a wall and loosely attaching the cross-pieces to the “X” leaning against the wall, then attaching cross-pieces to the “free end” I was holding up. Then I again tightened all the ties once it was standing on its own. It all fell over a few times but eventually it cooperated.

The cross pieces pictured below are separated by 12″, which is the length of the Ultomato clips:

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The 2021 Garden Plant List

By mid-season the garden should look something like:

The 2018 garden in July

We’re trying something new this year — eggplants. (All plant descriptions are by Seattle Tilth unless otherwise noted. My additional “Ed” notes are in italics.)

2 Black Beauty Eggplant, 1 box. (partial Bonnie Plants description): Plants produce pretty, prolific harvests in warm weather—keep them well-watered and harvest often. Pick the fruit before the glossy, dark skin begins to fade. (The color and glossiness of the eggplant determine the best time to harvest, rather than the fruit’s size.) Grows beautifully in garden beds or containers. Add a cage to your eggplant to help support stems when heavy with fruit. Place in full sun, and feed regularly. Matures in 80 days.

4 “Marketmore” Cucumbers, 1 box. (Ed: I’m not sure what exact variety these are. Historically we’ve grown) Marketmore 76 – 63 days. Open pollinated. In the Marketmore series, ‘Marketmore 76’ is very popular with organic growers due to its high level of disease resistance. This dark green slicing variety produces abundant, high quality, uniform fruits about 8 inches long with a wonderful cucumber flavor.

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Pizza Pinwheels, And Other Kitchen Notes From The Week

The weather has been unusually warm so the arugula decided it was time to bolt. We enjoy arugula on pizzas and in salads. Friday night was a pizza / flatbread with blue cheese, arugula, pine nuts, and thinly sliced steak. What I thought was more interesting was Monday’s Pizza Pinwheels:

Pizza pinwheels with finely chopped pepperoni, shredded mozzarella, and minced arugula

We served these with a red sauce made from last year’s tomatoes. The dough recipe is very easy:

300 grams AP flour, 50 grams greek honey yogurt, 165 grams water, 6 grams kosher salt, and 1 tsp instant yeast. Let the dough rise for an hour and do one or two stretch and folds (optional). Let the dough rise for another two hours. Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll the dough out thinly into a rectangle about 12″ x 8″. Sprinkle on chopped pepperoni, shredded mozzarella, and any other finely chopped herbs/aromatics that you like. (Don’t go overboard on fillings because it still needs to be able to roll up. ) Roll up the dough so that you have a tube 12″ long. Cut into 3/4″ to 1″ pieces and place on parchment or a Silpat. Bake for 15-20 minutes rotating the tray halfway through baking.

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