Been busy

Just a quick little run down of all that has happened in the past couple of months.

First off, Sunday I did the unthinkable and actually graduated from College, yes me. Took me some 12 years to do so, but now I am done. After waiting such a long time, I figured it would be best to actually walk through ceremonies and everything.

After which we had quite the raging party at our new place, good smattering of people from all areas of our life showed up. It was a good feeling to know that even at 30 myself and my friends were able to kill a keg and quite a bit more. All of my close family showed up from MT, so it was like a little family reunion of sorts.

Speaking of our new place. No longer are we living in Uptown just off of Calhoun. Instead we purchased a place in South MPLS, right off of a bunch of bikeways. Super cute house and everything that we could possibly need in a place. Large garage, lots of bike storage in basement, huge yard with gardens galore and a cute little pond flowing over. We did have out hands busy trying to get everything ready for family and the big party, but now that it is over, out place looks awesome and we are excited to start into some sort of routine.

Also, I am stepping down at the cafe I have been running for the past almost 2 years. I would rather spend my time with the dog and GF instead of killing myself at work. Right now it is looking like I will be working mostly bakery shift, coming in doing the bread baking early early in the morning. This will give me weekends off (sunday monday) and I will be home by noon everyday. Just about ideal if you ask me!

That is about it, figured a once a year status update would be appropriate.

If anyone has any ideas on what fruit trees to plant, let me know. We are going to be ordering them in the next few days and would like to get them in the ground soon! Zone 4 if you are wondering.

Happy New Doggo Day!

I must admit, I am surprised a little that this happened.  The last dog I had living with me was back in Missoula some 10+ odd years ago.  It wasn’t as if I was somehow opposed to the idea of getting a dog, it just didn’t wasn’t high on the agenda.  Even when I was a home owner and had all the yard and space, poochinos didn’t have a place.  That all put aside, I would like to introduce the newest member of our household.

Everyone give a big how-do-you-do to Merckx…

Oh for cute!

Oh for cute!

Older cutie, half blue heeler and half shepard, all awesome.  One of the nicest dogs I have ever met.

Here also is what I like to call a teaser photo.

That was me hauling a trailer full of compost and coffee from a catering gig in NE Minneapolis.  The xtracycle itself wasn’t beefy enough, so I had to add on the trailer.  There may be quite a few photos like this one coming from a certain brother and myself in the next few months, that is all I am going to say.

And now, I go back to studying and writing papers.

Hey Look!

Another fun link!

Enjoy watching me pinbone the trout, good stuff!

http://www.utne.com/2008-10-12/Environment/Sustainable-Seafood-An-Utnecom-Exclusive-Recipe.aspx?blogid=26

5 credits left..

Turns out amazingly that despite this whole General Manager job, I am still just 5 short credits away from finally graduating!  That means I need to in short order start planning for life after getting my undergrad degree.  There isn’t much in terms of job possiblities for someone with an anthropology degree that happened to take 12 years to complete.  With the end close at hand, it would behoove me to start planning.

As it stands right now, I am more than not likely to study for the GMAT and apply to get my MBA somewhere.  I was able to eek it out of my many years of undergrad without accumulating ‘too’ much of student loan debt; grad school on the other hand is an entirely different ball of wax.  If I were to attend grad school, I wouldn’t do so unless there was some security of increased income.  Going to school for the love of knowledge is one thing, but racking up 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of debt is a scary proposition.

Aside from all that, between school and work I have kept quite busy.

We did get reviewed again at the cafe, always a plus.

Good ‘ol brother of mine doesn’t update his blog all that much, so many of you might now know about his good deeds over the past weekend.  He along with some other MPLS bike people (my girlfriend inlcuded) have been hard at work over the past couple of weeks trying to make sense of all the bicycle related deaths here in the Minneapolis area.

First off he made this website.

Then, they arranged for a memorial ride, which had close to 300 attendees!  Amazing.

More here.

And here.

Again here.

Once more here.

I am not sure if all of those videos and links work, but Jer was interviewed giving a speech in front of 4 or so cameras and hundreds of people!  Amazing yes?

But, it is raining here and I need to ready my newest poor weather bicycle.

Soup

First things first, this post is dedicated to Mi Padre in honor of his birthday!  Happy birthday pops!  Sorry I didn’t send you a card, with school and business at work, it slipped my mind until a couple of days ago.  So, I hope you can forgive my forgetfulness as I wish you the most wonderful of birthdays!

In food news…  It has been a wonderful year it seems for crops.  The majority of the farmers that I know are all exstatic with their yeilds, and the quality has been stellar as well!  In the past week I have had the best sweet corn, watermelon, and tomatoes that I have ever been lucky enough to try.  The six+ months of barren wasteland is negated right around this time of year when the best of the harvests come to fruition.  I have started a new 5 times a week habit of riding my bike down to the Farmer’s Market and buying produce for the restaurant.  For the first couple of weeks of summer I was using primarily the xtracycle to haul produce, that was up until a month ago when I purchased a new cargo trailer for my bike.  Not to knock the xtra or anything, but hauling 30-75# of produce is easier with the trailer vs the long tail.  I try to make it to the market everyday, though M-F are best in my opinion.  Something about the touristic nature of weekends at the market just leaves me frustrated, I go to the market on a mission.  The simple fact of the matter is that I have way more control buying at the market, control over pricing and control over quality.

On that same note, here is a picture of the soup I made tonight with ingredients purchased entirely from the market.

Market Soup

Market Soup

Although to be honest Dancypants purchased everything, I just used what she left me for her weekend reunion with German/Norwegian Camp Peeps.

Not on the food front…

I started classes again, just two this semester.  I am so close to graduating I can taste it!  If I were able to go full time, I could have possibly been done this semester, that is how close I am!  As is, it will be either spring or summer semester, depends on how a few of my transfer credits are treated.  It will be nice to finally finish, the last time I graduated was when I finished 8th grade wearing a black rayon short sleeve shirt and a black tie, I felt quite gangster.

It has been busy with catering at work.  Strangely enough, I have moved on from only cooking to do some catering sales, a bit of a change from my normal experience.  In the past couple of weeks, I have executed a bar mitzvah for 300 people, wedding for 100 and an event for a certain downtown/NE hair college breakfast, lunch and dinner 250-350 people 4 days straight!  That last bit could partially be why I put a 16 hour day in yesterday, either that or because I am a chump, one of the two.

Finally, this happened a couple of months ago, but I almost got my ass kicked and my bike stolen by a group of 14-16 year olds.  Had I not been weighted down with 60#s of Maple Syrup and 20#s of fish I would have been able to sprint away.  Also had I not ridden well over 100 miles to volunteer at a farm the day before, that could have helped my chances too.  Click on the picture for more info.

(Oh and on the biking front, I am pretty much on pace to ride 6k this year!  At least if something else doesn’t hinder my progress (like life.)

Thanks!

I would like to report to all concerned that the MS150 went awesomely!

We were a little concerned at the forecast Friday morning, the wind was gusting at 30-40 mph and there were quite a few storms brewing on the horizon. We dropped our camping gear off at fillbilly’s place (his mom who actually suffers from MS played sag wagon for us). Once we were no longer encumbered by our luggage, Jana, Sven, Karl, Fillbilly and I all set out to ride to the registration point in Blaine (about 20 miles north of Phil’s house). The ride up was fantastic! I chose to ride my new xtracycle, which is absolutely fabulous to cruise around on. The same 30-40 mph wind that I was afraid of did a swell job of pushing us north to the starting point, save one flat tire we made near record time.

One in Blaine, they checked our gear and bikes and we hopped on the bus headed towards Proctor Minnesota just a few miles south of Duluth.

It started sprinkling a little when we were setting up our tents, so we had to work fast to get everything ready. I was quite happy to have traded in the massive old tent I once owned for a sleek two person northface. All-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner at the high school followed… Totally awesome!

Now here is where things got a little ridiculous.. We got our bikes and headed the .75 miles from the high school into the bustling downtown area. What we thought particularly funny was that many people actually caught the shuttle bus for the exact same journey. Almost 4000 bikes with riders and the idea of riding didn’t make it into the heads of 99% of the populace. Karaoke and 7 dollar pitchers of PBR followed, Jess and Annie did a fantastic rendition of Tiffany’s “I think were alone now“. In bed by 11:30, which was good considering we were awake by 5:45! Gotta love camping.

The ride at first was quite the display, riders of all skill levels going every speed imaginable. Some people looked as if they were going to die within the first 5 miles and others seemed nice and fresh even at the end (most of our group fit into the later category). My stubborn self pushed the front of the line for most of the day, which if nothing else kept me from being embarrassingly dropped.

My favorite part of day one had to have been the chopper. You see I saw this giant US Army helicopter off to the side of the trail. Quickly and without thinking I took an immediate right, not really remembering (or maybe caring?) that there was a line of 7-10 people following me. I used the opportunity to take the most awesomest of awesome pictures, but also managed to cause a wreck (it wasn’t really my fault and I don’t want to go into it!).

The cool thing about the MS150 is that the ride is so dang supported, you really need nothing other than a water bottle to get you between the stops (10-15 miles apart!). There is copious amounts of food, everywhere, first-aid stations and bicycle repair stands. We ran into Bryan and Josh at the second stop, they both seemed a little grumbly having to deal with all the hybrids that were in poor condition when they were put into storage last fall. Turns out the two of them had been out until 6am riding around duluth, normally not too bad but when you have to be up by 7am. They looked much better by the time we got to Hinckley..

Being part of the ‘golden gears’ club, quite a few of us were able to partake in some perks, such as special biffys and free beer at Hinckley. One stop along the way was actually decked out with a vast array of home-baked goodies, which was a welcome change from the pre-packaged crap we were dealing with for most of the ride. Speaking of packaging, that is one major gripe I had with the ride, considering how much waste was being created, I would expect there to be some factoring for composting or at very least recycling! I think I will have to draft up some sort of proposal to the MS people to hopefully steer them towards a greener event next year. Easy stuff like switching to sugar cane fiber plates, using compostable bags and cutlery would make a huge difference in the environmental footprint left behind.

In Hinckley… There were Mosquitos… Sven had a good idea…

The second day was great, we had a tail wind and made good time back to Blaine. Once in Blaine, we met up with Jer and the Periodontist who were supposed to be our brains for the last portion of the trip. We were planning on making it a century for the day by biking back to the cities. Tom discovered a major flaw in his fork and had to call his wife in for an emergency pick-up, that left Karl, Sven, Jana, Fillbilly and myself to bike back. Not 1 mile from the Velodrome we run into Bjorn and Curly who were biking up to see a little track racing before hitting the Coon Rapids Dam. Poor Bjorn smacked right into the tail of Curly and fell to the pavement getting some serious road-rash in the process.

By the time we made it back to our place we were at mile 97, three short miles left to go. Our stuff had been delivered to Fillbilly’s so we pretty much had to bike back to Longfellow, though this time with a stop along the way for dinner at the T-Rock. Jana and I passed 100 miles damn near close to where I took this picture last winter.

The last 6 miles of the trip were encumbered by 40+ pounds of gear, which slowed us down a little. Not that I minded that much, it was nice to just take it easy and cruise for a change.

The next day I was surprisingly not sore, which I take to be a good sign. Hell yesterday I put another 45 miles on the bike and it felt plain easy; I think this is gearing up to be another high-mileage month.

Again, thanks to all of you that helped me reach my goal of 1000 dollars! I never would have been able to without your wonderful generosity and kindness. To think at first I was worried about making the minimum of 300 dollars worth of donations!

And… I will try to blog more… When I have the time…

Organic Bread Flour

So, from my little stat program I have noticed that the majority of the hits to my blog come from people interested in “Organic Bread Flour”, which I must have posted about sometime a couple of years back. Now, I honestly do not know much more about organic bread flour than I knew back then years ago, but I do know what we use now.

For our bread, we use a flour that is not actually categorized as ‘bread’ flour, but is just plain regular white flour. Our main source of flour comes from Swany Mills which from that link has a scant 4 employees! Swany organic white flour, while not marketed as bread flour, is quite high in gluten and works well for all of our breads and what not. 90% of the time, unless you are working with some crazy recipe, all purpose flour has the sufficient glutens and proteins needed to make good bread. Making sure that it is kneaded enough to make the glutenal matrix is key. We also had really good luck with Heartland Mill Flour, but it wasn’t quite local enough for our needs. Although Kansas isn’t ‘that’ far, it is far enough that we wouldn’t be able to put it into the local category. Swany works well as it satisfies both of our goals, local and organic. Both flours are great for most bread purposes.

Whole Grain Milling is our source for non-white flour. They have a fantastic pumpernickel and rye flour as well as a whole wheat bread flour that produces a nice product. While they are a local company, it is my understanding that they sometimes buy other grains in order to keep up with a demand that surpasses the farm’s capacity. Everything is certified organic and of good quality (they also make corn chips of both blue and yellow corn grown on their farm). I am have been a strong supporter of WGM’s product a couple of years now, and will be in the future to be sure.

So…

That is about all I have to say about organic bread flour, there is a good chance I am forgetting something as it is getting late and I am coming off of three 11-12 hour days in a row. Not to mention I have a field trip to Peace Coffee tomorrow morning for all the newish employees.

And now I post some random picture that I lurve from my Flick-ah…