2019 - Week 33 Cooking Results


I missed early tomato picking, as we were on vacation, but got back and there were some nice tomatoes at the market. As to not annoy my wife to much, I’ll be playing this card infrequently.

Coconut-Creamed Corn and Grains

I forgot to add the fried onions on top. Which probably would’ve added something to the final taste. It was ok, without it.

Tinga de Pollo

As my plans for the week changed, I put the chicken for this away in the freezer. Thursday I packed up over 5 pounds of Iowa Blueberries to freeze and pull out over time.

Sausage over Potatoes

More like combined with potatoes. I’ve been cutting and mixing the sausage with the potatoes, both from the market, both very good.

Pork Burgers

This was my Thursday, meal. Good things.

2019 - Week 31, 32 Cooking Results


So this was had right before we left, and the day after we got back. Clearly I need to adjust a bit to cooking again.

Sloppy Sammy’s

For whatever reason, I have been craving these lately. I whipped them up without to much issue. I used dry mustard, as I did not have any yellow mustard on hand (adds to grocery list)

Melted Mozzarella on Toast with Fresh Tomato

I came up with this idea as I walked through the Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market. Mozzarella from Lost Lake Farm, bread from La Mie and Tomato from Grade A Gardens.

Summer Trip 2019 - Seattle - Family Reunion / Vacation Notes


On the positive side of the Boeing airplane nonsense, I had to drop off the cats at the boarding facility a day early. I was fooling myself to think I could just run and drop of the cats and then make it to the original flight. I spent 30 or so minutes hanging out with the Freyja, Loki, and Máni while they settled in. I made several adjustments to the shared environment and finally placed the blankets we laid out on the other bed inside the cat crates where Máni and Freyja settles in. As I finally left, Máni wasn’t pleased, but seemed settled in. Freyja was napping (but clearly not pleased with me, but to be fair, she hasn’t been pleased since we started her medication). Loki was still familiarizing himself with the area.

As I finished my other chores for the day, I tried to figure out what else to do and realized that some (most) of my random not doing something vacation days ends up with me taking a nap. As I need to wake up at a very early hour (3:01 am), taking a midday nap did not seem wise.

We both kept expecting to see the cats or feel them as the wander through our legs. It was hard not to have that happen.


I awoke a bit before my alarm to go to the bathroom. I did check the time and thought with 10 minutes before the alarm, it wasn’t worth it to get those extra minutes. Our day officially started at 3:AM.

The Des Moines airport was surprisingly busy at 5:AM. My suitcase weighed in at 48 pounds and Shannon’s at 46. The engine starter apparently had a bit of an issue and it took them a bit to swap from line to airplane only power.

We ate at Schlafly / the pasta house. I had a beer for second breakfast at the St Louis airport. The sausage for Shannon’s omelet tasted like pizza sausage, not breakfast sausage, which I suppose makes sense.

I watched as a man near me entered CC information to pay for internet access. I am curious if this is a commonly used vector of attack. It is an open WiFi access point and yes we are many thousands of feet in the air, but people could use it to capture data. Though I suspect it would be a low capture attack making it not generally worth it.. but if you happen to be on a flight...

We drove to our AirB&B, settled in then headed to downtown Seattle. We ate at a stunning meal at The Butcher’s Table. Each of the parts were just so well thought out and prepared. It is, by far and a way some of the best meat I’ve had anywhere. The scallop, was down right crispy on one side while being perfectly done. The Rainer cherries just bursting with flavor. That steak though.

Near the end of the meal we started to loose the excitement of the day and being up for 20 or so hours made plans to get some groceries and call it a night.

After a kitchen tour and some discussion, we headed to Haggen Food and got some breakfast and etc provisions and headed back and called it a day.


We did a number of touristy things. We started off the day by heading over to the MoPop to look and see a number of popular cultural artifacts. It does have a nice collection of things, but doesn’t really seem like it has a natural flow to it. We did see a number of things that were fascinating. Guitars, fashion, fantasy, horror… The Prince exhibit reminds me we need to head up to Minneapolis to go to Paisley Park.

We walked over to Tilikum Place Cafe and had some Dutch Babies (Classic and Savory) along with some sides. It was pretty good.

We headed back over to near MoPop and headed up the space needle. This was clearly playing a bit with my limited fear of heights (the more direct the angle I can see down, the worse I do). I felt my anxiety rising as we went up the elevator, it settled back down, then we went out on the viewing section, and it started to rise again (Shannon was doing just fine). We took some photos, and then headed down to the glass floor deck. This was… problematic for me. I did ok on some blacked out parts, but the glass itself I only made one trek out on.

I was glad to take the elevator back down to the ground.

We then headed over to Chihuly Garden and Glass. This was really cool. I have had an appreciation of glasswork for quite a while, and this was certainly a prime example of what can bet done with glass as the medium. After recently seeing the glass competition show on Netflix, you get a general idea of how hard it can be (and prone to failure). The presentation was wonderful. I really enjoyed the outdoor section where the glass sculptures were interspersed amongst a flower garden.

We headed over to QED coffee and had some cold brew to hang out for a bit while we decided what to do next. We headed over to the Ravenna neighborhood and wandered about for a bit before heading to Junebaby for dinner.

We had:

  • Buttermilk Biscuits and pure cane syrup

  • Cast Iron Flint Cornbread with sorghum molasses

  • Pimento Cheese house mixed pickles & house saltine crackers

  • Nashville hot chicken livers zucchini, celery & citrus vinaigrette

  • Jerked Pork Chop cherry tomato, peaches & lima bean puree

  • Catfish Geechie Boy cheese grits, sweet onion, yellow cauliflower & pepper sauce

  • Chocolate Cream Pie with oat toffee

So many things, so much excellence. I also had Holy Mountain’s Inosculation, which was very very good. I was happy we made the trip to go there and have quite a wonderful meal. As we both got up too early, we called it a night and headed back to the AirB&B to chill out for the evening.

I imported an uploaded 10 gigs of photos. I still have them on the card, as I want to make sure they make it back down before removing them. From the card. Still on the first of 3 cards so this shouldn’t be an issue.


Reunion day 1

This day went ok. We went to the Nordic museum and toured the displays. It was an interesting, if light take on Nordic history and how it spread into the region.

Afterwards we headed over to the Ballard locks and garden. Certainly and interesting thing and we actually saw a seal in the larger lock as ships started to line up to make it into the larger lake or ocean (couldn’t tell). The salmon weren’t running so the ladder wasn’t being used much at all. It would have been interesting to stay to and watch the whole event, but as that would have taken hours and time is limited.

We tried to head over to see the Fremont troll, but this didn’t work very well. After several tries we parked in pickup parking to a quick photo and then headed out.

Instead of trying to park near pikes market, we parked near MoPop again and took the monorail down to near the market. I believe my sister said it wasn’t worth it and halfway through the first ride, I realized this was true.

Pike’s market was busy. I understand the charm to some point, but as someone who takes the market seriously, it seemed a wasteful trip. We stopped at Rachael’s Ginger Beer and that was pretty good.

We took the monorail back and headed to eat dinner with the adults (parents, children, s/o). Lots of conversation happened.

We headed back to the AirB&B for sleep.


Reunion day 2

We headed to Snoqualmie Falls and waked around to shoot a few photos. We then headed up to Twin Falls to meet up with the family.

This was a bit harder to get to and after pushing myself a bit too hard a couple of times and the seeing a switch back trail, we headed back (under minor restrictions right now).

People returned and a significant contingent headed over to Small Fryes (Fall City) to have a lunch. For its placement it had shockingly good burgers and fries.

Shannon had a desire to see the Twin Peaks sign so we headed to where maps told us it would be. After having to figure out why CarPlay wasn’t working (rebooting the Subaru system), we headed there. After a nice drive through the woods and hills, we ended up where multiple sources says it should be, and not finding it. We found out it might be only up for the festival. We started heading back to my sisters and she thought she found something so after a few false starts and some... less then well cared for road, we ended up at the exact same spot. It was generally funny and we found out where some of the best blueberries come from (a you pick farm right near there). We then headed back to spend the afternoon with family.


Reunion day 3

We met at the Bellevue Botanical Garden for family pictures. This is a 50+ acre garden with multiple styles. It was a nice and calming place, and as soon as the pictures were over, we set out to take a number of photos of the flowers and plants and bees (there were at least 3 types). One of my brothers, sisters, and her husband headed up to Woodinville to visit Woodinville Whiskey. We got a bit of a tour and sampled the whiskey and then bought a few things. (This is no way will replace my standard, but it’s nice to have another bottle). I bought the rye that was quite nice. This was apparently recently obtained by ta giant conglomerate. What can you do. Due to timing and weight, I do not think that I’ll be able to bring much more home than this.

We headed back to my oldest sister’s and I, after trying to take a nap, helped my younger brother pull off a pulled pork BBQ dinner with all the fixings. This involved following directions, and maybe a few judgement calls, and some follow through. It’s nice to just follow the lead, confirm what you are supposed to do then execute.

My second oldest sister put together a slide show of pictures and etc related to my grandparents, and Dad and Mom told a number of stories related to these slide shows. I saw the pictures of my grandpa’s old gold mine that I visited a few years ago and some of the stories behind it.

This was followed by Homemade ice cream, strawberry rhubarb sauce, and sugar cookies (paternal grandma) which was delightful, along with my oldest sister’s husband reliving a part of their trip to Italy by making flavored ice (don’t quite remember what ti was called, but it was enjoyable).


More downtown Seattle

We started the day a bit late, and headed over to the Olympic Sculpture park. We wandered around the park for a bit. Took a number of photos. It seems like a number of people were parked out for Seafair related events. It’s a nice park, a good segment for pictures and etc. We headed over to the SAM (Seattle Art Museum) and went around for a bit and then walked over to Fran’s Chocolate (big fan) and then over to Biscuit Bitch.

Biscuit Bitch was quite good, and beside a handful of flipping each other off, the staff tended to be really good at what they do with good food and quite good biscuit. I’ll admit they are of a different style then my favorite but still quite good.

We headed down to the older neighborhood of Pioneer Square. We then headed down to the Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. So this is clearly a thing for tourists for the most part, but still quite an interesting thing to do. It was a nice telling of the story of the beginning of Seattle. I will admit the poop geysers were quite funny and the “sewing” circles (prostitutes). Well told stories set in an example of an old part of Seattle. It was enjoyable. I added one of the Speidel books to my to read list.

We were let out and headed over to Smith Tower. I do have an interest in architecture and distinct old buildings almost always spark my interest. We went on a self guided tour, with the distinct decoration and Alaskan marble. We headed up to the observatory deck. We walked around the outside with beautiful views of Seattle and then sat down, chatted and each had a cocktail. Later during another tour, we found out that the pyramid at the top of the tower is an actual apartment. I do no think I could live up there, but the idea in and of itself is fascinating.

We took the time to head back to the suburbs.

While eating dinner at the Tipsy Cow, I was fascinated by the young couple and the baby they were slowly feeding. The baby went from seeming to be excited, to pondering on if he actually liked the experience of the food that he got, to looking around, then asking for more. He never seem pleased about the food, but ponderous about the situation.



So RAMROD refers to Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day, my sister’s friend has participated so she suggested we are doing a DAMROD (Driving). I reached out to one of my brothers, and then reached out to my oldest sister and we left earlyish in the morning to head southeast to head around to see some the mountain. I started by picking up my sister, heading further south to pick up my brother then southeast to head towards the roads around the mountain.

It was a nice trip with a couple of my siblings and wife. Not overwhelming like having the entire family go to a place. We looked at this guide to drive around and see the various places of Mount Rainier. Because we planed, we knew what we absolutely wanted to go to and what we thought it was ok to skip. I knew I wanted to go to Suntop and Sunrise points, as, for some reason I like to drive at really high driving points. Suntop was a bit more challenging to get to as it seemed far less traveled to. Though the Parks Service volunteers there said it can get really busy during the weekend. While we were there it was the 4 of us, the two volunteers and near the end of our time up there one more person joined us. It was quite the view, though I completely understand the trepidation of both my siblings as we were driving up and down the mountain (it is never fun to see a cliff so close to you, even if you are in a car.

We tried to stop to see Skookum Falls, but didn’t have much luck in seeing an actual falls, the stream nearby was quite nice though.

We headed over to Sunrise Point, which was a much easier drive, but still seems a bit precarious. There were quire a number of people up here and we wandered around the area for a bit, while I took a number of photos. It is quite calming to be around where traffic and people are at a minimum and you can see a lot of natural beauty around you. I generally feel relaxed in that type of area (unless their will be a lot of hiking involved).

We headed to Tipsoo Lake and after an initial impression of the lake being tiny, we cross to another part and saw larger section of it. It was immaculately clear and easy to see through the water. The water allowed for a nice mountain meadow to grow around it. After a nice small hike around the two segments of the lake, this is where things went a bit off kilter.

The U Turn (Google Maps needs better U-Turn indicators)

I turned the wrong way out of Tipsoo lake. Google Maps, in its infinite wisdom, decided to send us to a safe U Turn location. So it sent the car into the national forest near by, past a bunch of parking lots, some simple turn offs, some viewing areas and to the head of the Bear something Trail. It told us to head up there. The, what I suspect, forest service road. The road got rougher and rougher. We started to have doubts, but we started to see some camping areas, not campers, mind you, but camping areas. We went up further and further where we passed a man in a camper (not sure how he got it up there). I used the climbing and descent controls on the Outback rental and was glad to have them. There was a cabin just past the man in a camper, and we turned around, when the maps told us to take a U-Turn (location). It was I think a 10 mile detour to take a U-Turn. Luckily we found it funny (as our trip earlier in the week we looked for the same sign twice), and headed back down (the decent control came in super handy and made it much easier to get down on the rough, dusty, rutted road).

We did eventually make it to the next point we wanted to go to (Shannon’s call), the Grove of the Patriarchs. This was a bit of a hike to get in there. There was also quite a number of trees and overhang making it tougher and tougher for me to take pictures. I need to practice that a bit more. It was still beautiful to see a large number of very old trees. Some had fallen, some were still growing, some of the fallen trees were slowly being grown into by new trees. There was a suspicion bridge in the middle of the trail, that went over a very cool stream (probably would be much more water in the spring). The first pass was, a bit anxiety inducing for me, but the second wasn’t near as bad. It was a nice hike in and out.

As we took a bit of a detour, we were running a bit later then expected. So we skipped a few stops (not on either of our must see lists) and headed towards the Reflection Lakes (no wrong turn this time). There was a breeze in the mountains and because of that it was difficult to get a clear picture of a reflection. My brother, did, however, find a nice feeder into the lake that was mostly still and a few shots were taken there. We did see our first part of larger wildlife. A deer was lunching on some trees and flowers and grasses while wondering around the trail near Reflection Lake.

The deer gave us a bit of a fright as we slowly followed it back to the parking lot and it trotted across the road to a much denser part of the forest. The deer did make it across, but there were cars nearby.

As we talked about the next stop, we decided to go to Paradise, as perhaps it was open and we could see a few things and use some modern facilities (also, who doesn’t want to say they’ve been to paradise?). Things had started to close down, but we were still able to use facilities. There was a very pretty mountain meadow leading up into the heights. But at that point in time, the sun had nearly done her job for the day. So we decided to head out. So we started driving out of the park. It took a bit before we got directions again (Google Maps apparently also made an update which dumped all my cached maps). Eventually we got directions back to my Brothers, and after a bit of discovery we found a place to eat.

Long day, the Outback came in handy on the trip to be sure. It was nice to spend so much time with a couple of my siblings.


The last day of Seattle

We took it easy. Our flight left at 5:45 AM on 8/7 and our car drop off was at 4:00. This made for a very early morning, so there was no sense of staying out super late.

We hit the last two items on the Seattle Pass, the Seattle Aquarium and the Argosy Harbor Cruise. Apparently we chose the wrong time of the day to go to the Aquarium as it was filled to bursting with children (summer groups, YMCA groups, etc). Midway through our tour we headed over to eat seafood with those that were left from the family reunion (Brother, sister, her husband, and our parents). It was a nice meal and we had a good time. We finished the Aquarium (who knew sea otters were so big?), and headed over to do the cruise. This was about the only time that we were there that I kind of wished I had my hoodie that I brought with us. It was chilly on the bay. The guide described a number of things and some of the history and a few of the boats that were docked. It was interesting, even though he wasn’t the best talker. I may have gotten a bit too much sun that day, but no burning, so that’s pretty good.


So uh, the Las Vegas airport still allows smoking indoors? The hell you say.

As we landed in Des Moines, we took a taxi from the airport to home so we could get our car and pick up our cats. I do have a lot of sympathy for the taxi drivers being replaced by other apps (but their app is also kind of garbage), but we didn’t want to wait. So The taxi took us home, after a bit of suggestion from me (to avoid rush hour), his car died near Drake University. After a bit of struggle he got it restarted, but it certainly did increase the anxiety about getting to the cats on time. But I made it there, and retrieved our dear ones from Smitten Kitten. They whined quite a bit on the way home, once we got home, they seem quite a bit relieved. Freyja seems to be favoring the carriers, but is heading out and about a bit.

So here are my takeaways from this trip.

Seattle traffic can be annoying (mostly due to the confusing road configurations), but people are generally polite and follow the speed limit, except Maseratis. Every Maserati we came across was driven by an asshole.

If you have a washer / dryer, pack less stuff, and do some laundry on the overnight. This allows for more stuff to take back (beer or whiskey for example).

Planning is good, cause it gives you ideas of what and when to do things and what restaurants to go to, but they should remain flexible. We did way better then the Dakota, Denver trip to not over schedule.

I drive through Flagg in Des Moines, cause it makes me feel like it is a forest road, this is now a slight impression of what it actually is.

I was talked up to the outback, but glad I had it (though not the price tag). I made my best effort to get the most out of the outback that I could. After driving it a bit, and Shannon’s Honda Civic, I really want to get a new car. I do like all the extra features and control, but it’s not in the plans now.

2019 - Week 30 Cooking Results

Sausage over Potatoes

Good again.

Hoisin Sesame Noodles with Pork

This was ok. Not near as good as the Sambal Pork noodles.

Egg and Bacon Sandwich

Scrambled eggs, bacon, some sausage patties, Toasted some bagels. Combined in any manner desired.

Taco Salad

Good as always, I was going to use beef, but but some bought some chorizo from Crooked Gap on Tuesday.

Pork Burgers, sort of like last week.

So these went pretty well, the sauce made a good addition to thin, extra seared pork burgers. Not much to report here. However, as we were coming upstairs to go to bed we saw lil Ms Freyja on the stove, licking pork fat out of the pan. Yeah…She’s clearly my spiritual cat daughter.

2019 - Week 30 Cooking

Yesterday I raced through the market, because of the coming heat, I was able to get out in under an hour (even would’ve had to wait for 15 minutes for Mars Sidebar to open). It did not leave a lot of time to hesitate or chat. Looking at the pictures of things, apparently I missed a few things. Oh well.

2019 - Week 29 Cooking Results

Corn Cacio e Pepe

This was very simple to make. I even used the food processor to shred the cheese and make the creamed cheese. It was quite good and took almost no time. Now that corn season is finally showing up, I may have to redo this soon.

Lemony Chicken Stir Fry

I debated making this last night, as the heat was breaking but had not quite yet broken. I thought about using the Sauce from the Smash Burger and make a chicken sandwich instead, except that I had almost 2 pounds of chicken to use. I read over the recipe again, and figured it’d not be that stressful to make. I started the Basmati rice, prepped the parts, moved the dishes along, then executed the cooking. It went pretty quick after that, generated it’s own little sauce withe rendered chicken fat and the other ingredients. I don’t think it was as lemony as last time I made it, but who knows.

Spicy Pork Meatballs with Nuoc Cham

Shannon was not a fan of the Nuoc Cham, which I can understand, it’s a bit out there. I thought the combination of the two was pretty good, though. I uh…had run out of local bought ground pork, I felt extremely guilty and made a special trip to at least pork that raised better then average. Still feel bad.

Chicken with Mozzarella sandwiches

Seared the chicken, topped with Mozzarella, only thing I guess could’ve been better is to add like a spicy romesco sauce or something to it. Simple dinner.

Smash Burger Alfresco

I used some wonderful beef for this, and sort of followed the directions. Set off the smoke detector a bit, as I do. Piled the patties on nice buns. Good things.