Monday, July 30, 2007

The Quest For Perfect Okra (The Never Ending Saga)

Most days when I take my usual route to work, I pass a house which is adjacent to lot which contains a fairly large garden. A garden is so large in fact, that only a retired gentleman would attempt such an undertaking.

The gardener/farmer often has a sign in his yard indicating what veggies he has for sale. Last week okra was added to the list of tomatoes, squash, and peas. As I drove past Friday morning I resolved by swing back by on my way home to acquire some okra.

Friday evening I did stop by. Unfortunately no okra was available. I was informed by the gardener that he cut the okra every morning and that it went pretty fast. I thanked the gardener for his time and promised to return soon, except much earlier in the day. Today I stopped in again. This time at 6:50 AM. The gardener was about half way down one of many rows of okra when he spotted me. He returned to the driveway with a 5 gallon bucket full. He remembered me from Friday and asked if I had returned for some okra. I purchased two pounds which was barely a dent in his bucket. I also bought a greenish-red tomato.

This evening I once again attempted to fry me a mess of okra. And make some corn bread. The cornbread turned out bad. Really bad. The okra was good, but it could have used a little salt. (This weekend we discovered that we were out of salt which probably isn't a bad thing.)

I decided last time I fried of a batch that I needed to use less oil, less heat, and less meal. And so I did. For the two pounds of okra I used 3 heaping tablespoons of cornmeal (mix). This turned out to be just about right. Basically I put the okra in a bowl, poured the meal of the top and agitated it until all the okra was evenly coated. There was no excess meal remaining in the bottom of the bowl.

As for the oil, I put just enough in the skillet to cover the bottom. Barely. I had previously decided that frying okra was not really about frying okra, but rather about cooking out the moisture. With this reasoning, perhaps false reasoning, I decided that the cooking process should be more similar to sauteing.

Wikipedia defines sauteing as a method of cooking food that uses a small amount of oil (or fat) in a shallow pan over relatively high heat. It is my opinion that high heat is not necessary, but that medium heat should suffice. This may be flawed thinking. My reasoning was that turning up the temp would only create a mess as the oil would splatter everywhere. But wait, I didn't have much oil in the pan so perhaps this wouldn't be a problem. Regardless, I stuck with the medium heat.

The okra took quite a while to cook. Perhaps because the heat was too low. Perhaps because I had too much in the skillet. Perhaps both. Next time I will attempt to reconcile this situation.

One other thing to note. I think I 'stirred' the okra to often. This is my opinion because more seeds seemed to be liberated from the pods than I had noticed in the past.

The final result I would call a success. It looked right. It was not burnt. It was not oily. It was not to mealy. It could have used a little salt though. And perhaps some fresh corn meal.

Ssh! Don't tell, I cut up a green tomato and a three pieces of pickled okra and added then to the batch. A little something something.

To be continued.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

High Humidity, thou art no friend of mine.
Fall is still six weeks away.
Or so I was told today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Live From The Living Room

...of Terry's apartment that is. We travelled to Georgia to visit my seester today. The trip to the water park was rained out. :) The kids swam in the pool at the hotel (while I napped) and then we went to a movie. We saw Nancy Drew. Woo hooo!

Tomorrow we are going to the aquarium. Did I misspell that? Did I misspell misspell?


Monday, July 16, 2007

It was a fine weekend

Saturday I took the turnip truck to the the Greater Tennessee Valley Antique Car Show. A stunning 715 vehicles were registered at this show.

My trip to and from the show was unique. I left the house shortly before 7:00 AM. A quick stop to top off the tank and I was on the road. The trip was 25 miles and it took about an hour. I route was mainly 2 lane roads but I did have to get on a 4 lane highway for a couple of miles. No problems though.

Two of my neighbors decided to accompany me to the show. Brian drove his '66 Mustang and Guy his '72 Chevrolet Pickup. We brought a tent, some chairs, and a couple of coolers. The shade was a nice relief from the warm sun.

The truck got a lot of attention. A whole lot of attention. Most were amazed not by its age (1925), but rather by the fact that it was a Chevrolet. It was not the oldest vehicle there. A gentleman from nearby Athens, AL had trailered in a 1925 American LaFrance fire truck.

Great Show.

Bug'n in July 2007

This weekend was also the VW show in Decatur. It was a two day show so I was able to go to it on Sunday. I took quite a few pictures and learned a lot about the little VWs. The cars are fascinating. A good mixture of vintage and newer, original and customized. The entire show is held under a large pavilion which is nice and cool even in July. This is my favorite show to visit. And there is definitely a Beetle in my future, though probably a very distance future. (I have to finish the 1972 GMC first.)

GMC Update

Sunday afternoon I removed a few more rivets from the new/old LWB frame. Only ten more to go and I will have everything off the frame that I need. I can then start the sand blasting process on the rear suspension componenents.

I will eventually need to remove the leaf spring brackets from the old/old SWB frame. This will be a minimum of another 16 rivets I will defer this task for a while.

This weekend was very busy. I think I need another weekend to recover.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It was announced yesterday that there would not be a 2008 F1 USA Grand Prix.

Tomorrow I am taking my oldest truck to a an antique and classic car show.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Monday Tuesday Wednesday

The last three days have followed a common recipe for me.

0) A full day of debugging embedded wireless protocol software.
1) A couple of hours in the driveway with a grinder and a power drill removing rivets from an old truck frame.
2) A few more hours doing home work for that crazy abstract modern algebra class.

(I am pleased to be done before 12:00 tonight!)

We have decided that there is no practical application for abstract algebra. None whatsoever! I would go futher and claim there is no use for it at all, but that would be a lie. As far as I can tell though, its only real use is as a prerequisite for another mathematics class needed only by some crazy fool attempting to fetch a masters or phd in mathematics. Not me though.

The dissassembly of the new old new truck frame is coming along nicely. I say new because it recently arrived here so it is new to me. I say old because it is 35 years old and most vehicles won't last that long. And I say new because relative to the '25 pickup, the '72 is still a spring chicken.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Today was the British Grand Prix. This season has been awesome. Go Masa! Go Kimi!
And That Is A Good Thing!

It has been a long weekend and that is a good thing.

This afternoon I didn't get back to the rivets. And that's OK.

This evening I took several trips around the block in the turnip truck so that I could give everyone a ride. Some neighbors came over to look at the truck. I ended up giving them each a ride and then I took a truck load of kids for a round. I let the adults drive. They seem to enjoy it after getting over their initial concern that perhaps the truck is fragile! If it were fragile it would not have lasted since 1925.

Weekend Getaway

Ginger and I made a quick weekend getaway to Nashville Friday & Saturday. We stayed in a hotel near the Opryland Hotel. We enjoyed a nice dinner there and took and indoor boat ride. The Opryland Hotel is an amazing place to visit.

Saturday we visited the Lane Motor Museum. Ginger found a few cars she wanted to bring home. Unfortunately we were not in the Tahoe so we didn't have room for them in the back. My favorites were the Fiats (especially the Topolino [think Italian Volkswagen Beetle]), the Austin Minis, the Morris Minis, the MGs. Here is a complete list of their cars. Take a look at the Honda S600 and S800 , and the Datsun 1200. (There is a Datsun 1200 in a junk yard near here.) These are definitely some cool convertibles.

Saturday after returning home I removed 22 rivets from the pieces of rusty metal. No small task. I believe there are another 28 to go. Maybe Sunday.

Saturday was 07/07/07 in case you missed. Were you feeling lucky?

The 4th

I started the 4th with an early more trip to Pitts Salvage yard in Athens. I had arranged to purchase the back half of the frame of a1972 Chevrolet Pickup LWB complete with all the suspension, brackets, and the 12 GM differential. I got a really good price on it too!

I borrowed Lott's trailer and Ginger's Tahoe. David M. rode shotgun. The entire trip took about 2.5 hours. Once home I unloaded the big piece of rusty metal and began planning how to disassemble it as quickly as possible. I am sure my neighbors love looking at it.

I did manage to get the differential, trailing arms, and coil springs separated from the frame and stowed safely in the shop.

I still need to remove 50+ rivets to get all the brackets I want removed from the frame and the frame disassembled. That will be no small task. In the past it has take about 10 minute per rivet. I will need to find a quicker method or this could take forever.

In the Presence of Greatness

We celebrated the 4th by attending a party at the White House. The kids enjoyed playing in the pool and the food was great. BBQ chicken, pork, and ribs. Mmmmm. And fresh corn from the garden.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Rusty Parts Is Rusty Parts

Operation trailing arms is now underway. I spoke with the gentleman at the automobile salvage yard today. He and I came to an agreement on a price for the rear differential, the trailing arms, and all the necessary brackets to attach said parts to a frame. I have also arranged to borrow my neighbors trailer in the morning. And Ginger's Tahoe.

Two friends have expressed an interest in riding along to the junk yard in the morning. The more the merrier. I expect they will both back out in the morning. The 4th of July can be a very busy day.

The junk yard is an amazing place if your interested in automobiles. In some ways it is very sad place. Rows and rows of deteriorating vehicles. It can also be an exciting place. Rows and rows of old trucks and cars. Every make an model you can imagine. For a truck guy there is nothing like discovering an old forgotten Chevrolet Apache in the middle of nowhere. A Mazda guy would be amazed at all the old RX-7s. Another nearby yard has a half dozen VW bugs: A couple of early 60's models with metal dashboards and 6 volt electrical systems, a super bug with a sun roof, etc. And yet another yard has an old '50s Nash Metropolitan (in pretty good shape), a '50's Studebaker Commando (in not so good shape), and the rusty skeleton of a early '50s Ford pickup. Each junk yard is so very unique, almost like a car show, but no one remembered to wash and wax the vehicles. Don't bother going to search for an old muscle car though. Those were all crushed years ago.
Two Bits

Jordans remaining quarter requirements:

Pennsylvania - P
New Jersy - D
Connecticut - D

New Hampshire - D


Ohio - D

Illinois - P
Alabama - D
Maine - D
Missouri - D

Michigan - D
Florida - D
Iowa - D
Wisconson - D

Oregon - D
West Virginia - D

Nevada - D
Nebraska - D
North Dakota - D

Washington - D
Idaho - P
Idaho - D
Wyoming - P
Wyoming - D
Utah - P
Utah - D

Oklahoma - P
Oklahoma - D
New Mexico - P
New Mexico - D
Arizona - P
Arizona - D
Alaska - P
Alaska - D
Hawaii - P
Hawaii - D

I have updated my quarter list. Thanks Terry.

Below is a list of the state quarters that Princess Bri still needs. She is not concerned about the mint marks.










New Mexico

Monday, July 02, 2007

Leaf Springs, Coils, and Trailing Arms

I made a quick trip to the salvage yard last week to look for a replacement differential. I found several correct for my year model of truck, but they are all intended for trailing arm suspension trucks. Mine has leaf springs. I could convert the brackets from trailing arms to leaf springs but it would be some work.

Last year I started thing about swapping the truck from leaf springs to trailing arms/coil suspension but decided against it for a couple of reason. It would take extra time/effort. The major benefit of making the swap is that the truck will ride smoother, more like a car than a truck.

Now with the differential housing needing to be replaced, I revisited the idea of swapping to the coil suspension. It definitely makes more sense now. Perhaps that is because it is what I wanted to do in the first place. Or perhaps it is because the parts are readily available for a coil truck but not for a leaf truck.

So now the plan is to pick up an old rusty differential housing and some trailing arms at the salvage yard. It's like Christmas in July.