Tuesday, May 25, 2010

finished front/side and backyard bench

We finally (mostly) finished the front/side yard and, in the process, also finished the bench in the backyard.  Remaining to do in the front is to run drip lines, plant a tree, and put up some string for the hops.

In the course of working on the front yard, we had to take out some dirt.  There was a perfect place for it - in the storage bench.  They had a great idea, and put some thought into creating a storage bench, but it still just didn't work very well.  The smallest thing would clog the drain in the bottom (where does that drain go, anyway?!).  In the end, it was just a haven for spiders and mildew.  Now, it was a place to put the extra dirt from the front, and a place for the leftover stone from the wall/steps.  With an extra row of stone, we created a very usable bench by the fire pit - makes perfect sense.  And we've got another little planter area (to which I need to run some drip lines as well).

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cheese Opening!

I finally couldn't wait any longer to open my first cheeses... and it was the perfect opportunity on Sunday.  My homebrew club, the Hetch Hetchy Hop Heads, were having a picnic.  I knew at least Jim would be able to appreciate them and give me some good advice going forward with my cheesemaking.

The blue was a bit strong, but after cleaning it up, it looked good.  Half of this cheese was eaten during the picnic, so I guess it wasn't too bad.  A cracker definitely helped soften the stronger bite of the cheese.  Jim likened it more to a gorgonzola than a blue.

The manchego wasn't quite a manchego.  It was a bit harder - more like a parmesan.  It turned out really salty.  I think I also left it in the brine too long, or it was the second brining that I did to help keep the mold away that really made it salty.  At the picnic only about a quarter of this cheese was eaten, so you can see the blue was more popular.  Erich had a good suggestion - that this cheese would work very well on a ceaser salad (sort of replaces the saltiness of a anchovie, right?).

At least this encourages me to continue and improve my cheesemaking... I made edible cheese after aging for a few months!   The brie fiasco really set me back as far as motivation, but this weekend helped a lot.  That dedicated cheese fridge might be justified afterall.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Weekly Mountain Bike ride - 5/12/10

On this week's mountain bike ride (every Wed. at 5:30), my coworker, Jason (I know, it gets confusing sometimes), thought to bring his helmet-cam.  So, I thought I'd share some photos.  This was the Waterdog trail in Belmont.  Since it's the closest to work, this is the trail we'll ride the most.  It's getting busy, so we might look to taking the trek up to the trails off Skyline soon.

This week's ride, Simon took us on his usual route - from the top of Carlmont, take some steep switchbacks, ride the crest, then loop back a bit lower.  It's all single track, so that's fun.  The initial climb is a real leg burner though - not the warmup like the fire road off Lyall which I'm more used to.

Speaking of biking, today was Bike to Work Day.  I finally decided to participate... thinking, "it's just a couple miles" and I don't have any meetings today or anything like that... It turns out it's 4.4 miles.  I rode a little harder than I needed to, so I was unexpectedly a bit warmer when I got to work.  At least the helmet hair wasn't an issue.  And, it was actually faster than driving (or at least just as fast).  I think the ride home may be faster too, even though it's uphill.

Dealing with traffic wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - even over the "dreaded interchange".  Actually, the Holly overpass wasn't tough at all if you want to wait for cars and ride in the shoulder.  The toughest part is crossing lanes to get into the left turn lane.  And with a pack on your back that swings wildly, it's not easy to look over your shoulder (note to self, traditional backpacks are better).  Anyway, it's definitely a unique perspective that I will keep in mind next time I design some bike lanes and reconfigured or new roads.