i spent the day updating the 3 interactives for client N after receiving a packet of changes last night.
my next roommate is due to arrive late saturday afternoon early evening. i wrote him a lengthy e-mail today with instructions on how to get from the airport to my house. i really haven't had a chance to take advantage of these final days of roommate-free living because i've been busy with work.
my father stopped by in the late morning asking if he could borrow a bike so he could ride back to the cafe after dropping off the car to get the muffler replaced. i let him borrow the fuji. "where's the car?" i asked him, until i realized he brought the smaller toyota camry instead of the roomier honda element. i didn't think the bike would fit but he carried it with half the bike dangling out of the trunk.
i took a quick break to retrieve the jetter road bike from the basement. since the rear wheel of the ross gran tour was busted (broken spokes), i figured i could take off the rear wheel from the jetter and put it on the ross since they're the same size (classic road wheel 27x1-1/4"). the wheel fits, but the alignment is skewed so that it's closer to one side of the frame. i believe the recommended fix is to adjust the spoke tension by tightening all the ones on one side, then loosening them on the other. it might not be worth it to fix, but since i doubt anyone will ever ride that jetter bike, i could just do it for kicks and experience points.
i also learned that the ross gran tour has a 22" frame, while the jetter is a 25". pau - who's 5'10" - could ride the 22" gran tour but i don't think he could handle the 25" frame.
somehow i wasn't satisfied tinkering with 2 bikes, so i went into the basement and dragged out the scwhinn le tour that's been hanging from the foosball table handles for many years. i tried installing the jetter rear wheel on the schwinn, but it had the same alignment issue.
after some oatmeal for lunch, i did a bit more work before taking another break in the late afternoon to check up on my community garden plot.
even with the trunk all rotted, my two squash plants still had a lot of green leaves, though the powdery mildew infection has definitely spread. there was no more squashes to harvest so i decided to simply uproot the 2 plants and throw them away. maybe if i'm ambitious i could grow some late season vegetables in the empty spots.
the big surprise is the number of acorn squashes. there are 3 dark green and 2 pale ones. the dark green means they're probably ready to be harvested, but i'll let me season for a few more days. this is all from a single plant that was hidden behind the rows of squashes and tomatoes and thai basil, but now that most of those other plants have died off, it's taking advantage of the freed-up space. since it's a squash, powdery mildew has infected some of its leaves, but it has a habit of spreading out so infection is localized.
my father actually ran into me in the garden. he was riding the bike to the mechanic to pick up the car and saw me while riding down sacramento street. i showed him some of my acorn squashes.
20 minutes later my father stopped by my house to return m fuji bike. after he left, i took a few more bike photos:
the ross gran tour ii is almost a clone of the schwinn le tour. similar-sounding names, center-pulled brakes, cotterless cranks, lug frame, even the design looks the same, although the schwinn has more details. i don't know the age of the ross but the schwinn (through its serial number) was manufactured in 1974. maybe the ross is a later knockoff?
i got caught up in cleaning up the bikes so i didn't start making dinner until 6:00. it was going to be a long night of cooking, as i first make fresh tomato sauce, then later combined some of that with ground beef to create a meat sauce for some spaghetti.
thank goodness i took good notes the first few times i made tomato sauce last august (first, second) so i basically referred to them for instructions. this time around i had 11 tomatoes. i never mentioned how long i boiled them, but found a source online that said only 30 seconds, or until they peel. i used a stock pot with hot water from the electric kettle, boiling them in 2 batches. the first batch was quick, and i rushed to take them out when i noticed the tomatoes were actually splitting open. the second batch took much longer for some reason, several minutes, and i probably over-boiled them because they weren't as red and were more soggy.
peeling tomatoes is actually pretty fun. the next part was the messy part, as i quartered the tomatoes so i could remove the seeds. i forgot why you need to do this, i think i remember reading that the seeds give a bad taste to the sauce (sour? bitter? seedy?). but i got tomato juice all over the counter, and a few times when i squeezed the tomato slices to remove the seeds, i squirted juice everywhere. once i collected all the tomato flesh and juices, i crushed the tomatoes a little bit with a potato masher.
i used my industrial strength found food processor to quickly shred an onion and a few garlic cloves. i hand-chopped a cup worth of garden-fresh basil leaves and a single cayenne pepper. i sauteed the onion-garlic puree first until most of the liquid was gone, before adding in the rest of the ingredients: tomatoes, basil, hot pepper, 2 cans of tomato paste, 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of baking powder, and 1 tsp of salt. sugar and salt i could taste to figure out if i need to add more, but baking powder is a bit harder. i also didn't know how much to add, but saw someone online suggesting 1/8 tsp per 2 cups (i estimated i had 8 cups of tomato sauce which is a conservative number, i had way more than that). then i saw online that some people were using baking soda, so i wasn't sure if i even used the right ingredient, but according to my notes i used baking powder the last night. in any case, the sauce definitely wasn't as tart. in fact, it had a very mellow flavor, almost too mellow.
i sort of regret adding the brown sugar because tomatoes already have a certain sweetness to them. i tried to counterbalance it with more salt. i didn't want to overdo the sodium, and normally i try to avoid adding salt because of my high blood pressure.
i was also hesitant about the tomato paste, but from my last experience, the sauce takes far too long to thicken without the addition of paste. i should do some more research to see if this is really true. the idea of adding processed tomato paste to fresh tomato sauce seems like cheating.1
i let the sauce simmer for an hour on low heat, occasionally returning to the kitchen to stir the pot and give the sauce a taste. the flavor definitely improved as time went on, a very complex and savory taste that was spicy and sweet and tarty and salty all at the same time. my earlier fears were all unfounded; the sauce turned out perfect. maybe i was just hungry, but it's definitely like no tomato sauce i've ever tasted. i just don't know if it's worth all that effort. certainly for the end of the summer when you have a surplus of fresh garden tomatoes, but any other time, i'm just as happy with tomato sauce from a jar. it's certainly a labor of love creating sauce from tomatoes.
once the sauce was done, it was time for round 2. i cooked up my ground beef in a separate pot. because it was only 75% lean, there was a lot of fat, so i spooned out all the meat after it finished cooking and poured out the fat. keeping it healthy! back into the pot went the ground beef and approximately half of my tomato sauce. at the same time i was boiling some multigrain spaghetti noodles (even healthier! although it took a few minutes longer to cook because of its whole wheat properties).
i didn't get to eat until almost 9:00, 3 hours later since i began cooking. although the sauce looked pretty thick in the pot, mixed with noodles it was more liquid, but the pasta soon sopped everything up so when i finished eating there was nothing left in the bowl.
i've been watching copper, the new BBC america drama about cops in post-civil war manhattan. seriously gritty and unapologetic, very different from the usual police drama. in the first few minutes, police detectives ambush a gang of criminals, kill them all and loot their bodies, and one detective politely decline pleasuring from a child prostitute. oh 1860's new york city! and all this week i've been watching the republican national convention; not actually watch, but just had in the background while i did other things. tonight was the last night with surprise guest star clint eastwood introducing mark rubio who then introduced mitt romney. can't wait to see the democratic national convention and what kind of speech obama will give (because, you know, the man gives good speeches).
1 i did a little research, apparently there are tomatoes used for making sauce (like roma tomatoes) and tomatoes used for uncooked eating (like these big round ones). don't know if the sauce tomatoes would create a thicker sauce though, but worth considering for next season.