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About Mistr

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    Madison, WI


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  1. Mistr

    Mistr enjoys the ride

    I am proud of Elf. They got up early (before noon) twice this week to go to medical appointments. Plus they have taken on the deck project and it is looking really good. I was afraid we would have to replace the stairs they were so bad. Elf got them cleaned and sanded down to new-looking wood. Now freshly-stained wood. Today's appointment was for an eye exam. That means my errand for tonight is to go with Elf to buy glasses. Elf just needs me along to pay for them. Hmmm, that said, I could just give Elf money and send them off. Options, options. After we got home I realized I needed to make fruit salsa and guacamole because the produce I bought on Friday was rapidly heading past its prime. Elf did dishes while I chopped things. They could tell I was running out of steam and asked what they could do to make my evening better. I asked them to pack up the soup stock from the crock pot. My original plan had been to finish making soup tonight. I have the best kid ever. As it turns out, it was a good thing I went along on the glasses expedition. Elf has a unusual prescription for a young person and their lenses were more expensive than they expected. Not bad in the general scheme of glasses, but not $95 glasses either.
  2. Mistr

    Mistr enjoys the ride

    It's more of a method than a recipe. Prep: toast the almonds. You can use slivered or sliced, either are good. Keep an eye on them, they go from toasted to burnt quickly. Set aside. Slice an onion into long strips. Like you are going to make dice, but skip the last step Wash the beans and trim the ends and icky bits. I usually cut them in half, so the pieces are about 2 inches long. Cooking: In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, brown the onions in oil. Olive oil is good. Cooking them slowly allows them to caramelize more and have better flavor. Add the green beans. Turn down the heat to low if it was higher. Sprinkle with salt. If you are feeling fancy you can add thyme and oregano. Stir and cover the pan. Check every now and then to make sure that there is enough moisture and nothing is sticking. Add more water if the beans are not tender and the pan is too dry. Once the beans are nearly done, remove the lid. Add a lump of butter. Stir and let cook until done. Add the almonds and mix. Everyone in my family likes these. Including Elf, and they don't like onions.
  3. I'm glad to hear that things have calmed down. I was hoping that the rioters would be satisfied with causing havoc for a weekend and then head back where they came from to boast about it. I hope you get caught up on sleep and have a calm end of the school year.
  4. Mistr

    Mistr enjoys the ride

    Aside from eating too much ice cream, I was highly virtuous this weekend. The vegetable garden is DONE. Tomatos transplanted and supported by cages, basil, cilantro, salad mix, beans and marigold seeds planted. I know it is late. It was still May, it counts. Dumbledore and I cleaned out the chest freezer. It is defrosted, clean, inventoried and organized. Go us. I got all my tax info together and made an appointment with our tax accountant. I know this should have been done months ago. It counts. I went to the store and got a new electric sander when my old one exploded as Elf was sanding the deck stairs. I handed it to Elf and told them they could read the instructions and figure it out. It works fine. Yay for adulting all around. I finished plying the dyed silk. Pictures to come later. I cooked spinach/mushroom quiche and made green beans with almonds. Elf grilled chicken. We have food. Friday night I did the grocery shopping instead of having an evening off. I used to shop on Fridays after aikido. Turns out that Friday is still a good time to shop. There were piles of boxes ready to be stocked in the aisles, but very few people. Good choice. I tied up the raspberries. This lets people mow and will make harvesting them much easier. I also beat back some of the branches that attack unwary mowers. I finished writing the training schedule for our new person and got it to my boss. Talk about 11th hour, but it counts. There was no goofing off, no zen and no exercise. Dumbledore and I did go for a long walk to talk about the events in the Twin Cities and destress. Trees and water helped a LOT. I had a long talk with my mom. Her view of the protests watching TV from a suburban retirement community are different than what I'm hearing from friends in the city. I'm not surprised, but not happy about it either. On the plus side, my aunt is doing better and my uncle brought her over to visit my mom. My aunt was really sick in the hospital a few weeks ago and mom was worried she'd never get to see her again. The doctors still don't know what happened to her. It sounds kinda like a stroke. No one is making any long term plans, but at least the short term news is good. Now I'm off to mow the lawn while Elf stains the deck. Dumbledore already did a big section of it. The joys of homeownership in summer.
  5. Mistr

    RES: FEL Down

    I'm glad your back to the office events went well. Sorry the weather has not been good for biking. Getting out on your new ride sounds like lots of fun. We are living in interesting times.
  6. I smiled at the image of you being happy to have a flat so you could talk to people. Getting out running sounds like a good escape from being in your house all day. Not getting away from people at work like you usually do, but there is plenty of other stress to get away from these days. I'm glad the glute video seems to be doing some good. I have a pile of resistance bands in different colors. Physical therapists love them. I hear that weight training people do too. You can do lots of strength training with the heavy-duty resistance bands. Yum, crabcakes! I'm curious to hear how you can make heart of palm taste anything like crab. I like fake crab, but at least that is made from seafood.
  7. Mistr

    Mistr enjoys the ride

    Hey folks, I've got some feels I want to share. My hometown is a war zone right now. Here is what I hear from my friends, not from the media. The murder of George Floyd happened in my old neighborhood. Just 8 blocks from my house. A block from the funky new yarn store that is a social spot for the fiber arts community. That is one more black mark on the already hideous record of the Minneapolis police. People are upset and protesting. That has been happening mostly peacefully around the government center downtown. The rioting is a whole different thing. I don't know if protesters were involved in the burning of the third precinct police station a couple days ago. I do know that the vandalism and looting of other buildings in the area was led by white men who are not local. Certainly not local to the neighborhood. One caught on video might be an agent provocateur from another police jurisdiction. Last night a science fiction/mystery bookstore was burned to the ground. My friend and former roommate works worked there. The owner posted that rioters broke the front windows and sprayed accelerant on the books before lighting it on fire. This was planned, not just some random thugs taking advantage of the chaos. He said there were no police or National Guard troops to be found, even though most of the buildings along that commercial area were on fire. This morning the mayor of St. Paul said that all the people who were arrested for rioting last night were from out of town. The far right is taking advantage of a racist act by the police to cause massive destruction to homes and small businesses. Another friend and her family were working on putting out fires on her block last night so their house wouldn't burn down. Yesterday local people went to the area of the Thursday night riots with brooms and trash bags to clean up. They left bag of groceries on the steps of a church for people who can't get food because all the groceries are closed. The community is together to support each other. People are scared and furious. Furious at the police, furious at the rioters. Here is what a friend just posted on FB. He said it was okay to share. This afternoon, I was going around trying to help with the cleanup, and deliver supplies where they might do some good, when I hit a place of mental and physical exhaustion. I found a place to sit down, and just let my mind race where it needed to. I was startled out of my chaotic thoughts by a community elder who had walked over to ask if I was ok. I started to tell her that I was, when I realized I was crying...and I just broke down. She stood there, radiating calm as I ranted about how we'd tried so hard, for so long to protest peacefully, and to get the community to wake up and do something about the murderous thugs in uniform, and how all we got out of it was bitching and complaining about blocking traffic, or for making it hard for people to do their Christmas shopping. How those very same people who dismissed the whole thing, were now desperately trying to change the narrative, as if property destruction was somehow more important than human lives...and, and, and... When I'd finally wound down, she put her hand on my shoulder, and said something I will never forget. "Oh sweet one, no wonder you're in so much pain! You've taken the weight of the whole world on shoulders...no one can handle a load like that! You've seen the pain, and tried to help stop it. You've identified the problem, and tried to address it. You've been beaten down by how few people can even see the problem...but you're still here trying to help. That's all any of us can do. Just keep helping, keep trying, and don't take on the weight for the evil that others do." And then she hugged me while I cried some more and thanked her. Take her as your example, and don't allow this insane situation make you lose hope, or to let it make you feel useless. Find the next constructive thing that you are capable of, and move on to that. Together, we can make it through this. I look out at the sun on the grass in my quiet cul-de-sac and feel like it is a sham. All the comforts of civilized life are fragile. They depend on people working together and sharing values. If too many people opt out of that compact, they fall apart. The problem is not the working people opting out, it is the rich who think they can milk the system. Look at Flint Michigan, without drinkable water. Look at Amazon, not taking care of their employees as they profit from everyone needing essentials delivered. Protesting is important, but it is not where lasting change happens. We need to hold our political leaders accountable. Under normal circumstances I would drive to the Twin Cities, stay with friends and help. With COVID-19, that is a bad idea. What I am going to do is write to my major and city council and ask what has happened to deal with police violence here. Like Minneapolis, we had non-violent protests about police killing a black man a couple years ago. I don't want our next stage to look like what is happening in my hometown. 😰
  8. I'm glad that you are getting to do lab work again, even though there are some glitches to work out. Here is my take on making bread. I have not made specialty bread like foccacia. Mostly regular white or wheat bread - homestyle rather than artisan. Advice from my grandmother - stir it a bunch with a spoon before adding all the flour. You can develop the gluten by stirring rather than kneading. After you have stirred the thick batter for a bit, stir in the rest of the flour a half cup at a time. It is ready to knead when all the flour is added or you can't stir it with a spoon anymore, whichever comes first. It is a good idea to let it sit a few minutes before kneading. That lets the last flour you added absorb water and get less sticky. As Paul said, flour measurement is difficult. You can get an accurate mass for your flour, but there is no easy way to know how much of that mass is moisture absorbed from the air. Consider the recipe as a guideline rather than a precise formulation. Start with a little less than the recipe calls for and see how it behaves. You may have to add an extra cup of flour if your house is humid. The type of flour you use makes a difference too. All purpose flour will stay sticky even when it has been kneaded enough. I remember the first time I used bread flour. My dough actually got smooth and elastic, like it says in the recipe! Dough with all purpose flour will get elastic, but not smooth. As Paul said, you would have to really work at it to over-knead by hand. I figure that when the dough stops sticking to the bread board in a 5-second test, it has incorporated enough flour. You can keep kneading several minutes after that point to give a tighter texture to the bread. Less gluten development means it can't hold air bubbles as well. How fast it rises depends on your yeast and the temperature of your kitchen. We just got new yeast and it is MUCH more active than the old yeast. If your yeast seems sluggish, give it extra time at the batter stage before adding all the flour. I have a recipe that mixes the yeast, liquid, honey, salt and part of the flour, then let it sit for 30 minutes or until bubbly. After that it calls for adding the rest of the flour. You can tell the first rising is done when you poke the dough with a finger and the impression stays down. If it pops back, the dough is still rising. Timing on this is flexible. You can punch it down early and still get good bread. There is also such a thing as waiting too long. The yeast will stop because there is too much CO2 and the gluten can get over-stretched. That is bad. It sounds like that might be what happened on the second rising when your loaves collapsed when you slashed them. I would expect risen loaves to just separate a bit when slashed, not to fall. Your oven probably has hot and cold areas. Most home ovens do. You can test this by cutting squares of bread (think home-made crutons) and setting them in a pattern on both racks in your oven. Bake at 350ºF and monitor how fast they brown every 5-10 minutes. If you put a little butter on them first and take the toasted ones out, you won't waste any bread in the experiment. I knead my bread on the kitchen counter which has a smooth laminate surface, or on the dining room table. The table is at a better height for putting my hips into the kneading. It feels a lot like rowing exercise. I have a bread board that I put on the table. A large, smooth cutting board would be a good substitute. I hope these suggestions help. Your biscotti look amazing. Congratulations on successful baking and grilling!
  9. Mistr

    Mistr enjoys the ride

    Yeesh, it's been a week and it's only Thursday. I had a good three-day weekend. The weather report predicted rain on Monday so I worked like a fiend on Sunday to get the front garden bed done. It is a curved section about 10 x 10 ft between our driveway and the sidewalk. I finished digging up the weeds that were there, turned over the soil again to break up clods, raked it, then transplanted daylilies. The daylilies were growing in other garden beds in places I didn't want them. That was a lot of physical labor. Turns out that squats are a good exercise to prepare for digging with a garden fork. There were about 4 dozen daylilies when I was done. That's counting the big clumps that wouldn't pull apart as single plants. There was some room left on the edges of the new bed, so I planted the snapdragons and moss roses there. I got those plants on a whim when I was shopping a couple weeks ago. I also planted more moss rose seed to fill in the bare spots. The front corner now looks like a garden instead of a neglected empty lot. I also mowed the front yard because all our neighbors mowed. Dumbledore did the side yard. Elf is currently off mowing duty so they can concentrate on the deck staining project. After all that effort on Sunday, the weather was nice on Monday. I gave myself permission to really truly take a day off. That made me feel better. I did get some things done in spite of that. Dumbledore helped me get my summer clothes down from the attic and I swapped them for my winter clothes. This is the latest I can remember ever doing the summer/winter swap. This spring has been cool up until Memorial Day weekend. I haven't missed having short sleeve tops other than exercise T-shirts. Dumbledore grilled steaks and I made the rest of dinner, plus did dishes. Elf says it is now their turn to do dishes. Hopefully that will happen soon. <crosses fingers> For fun things, I finished spinning the dyed Bombyx silk singles and played Caesar III. The silk is about the thickness of sewing thread. I will make it into a three-ply yarn so I can use it for lace. I started plying today. That is going to be more challenging than usual. I already have the next 1oz bag of dyed silk from the dyeing workshop ready to spin. I'm glad to be making progress on working through my stash. Work has been busy again. We have a new person starting on Monday. I redid our training plan to include a mix of on-site and remote trainings. We'll see how it goes. Our last trainee was an internal candidate with years of experience at the company. I'm concerned about bringing in someone brand new when we can't have him sit and observe the senior people do their jobs. He's a smart guy, I'm sure we'll figure it out. I'm way behind on everyone's threads here. I hope you are all doing okay. Today is rainy again so I can do computer stuff instead of more gardening this evening. I finished one of the back yard beds yesterday and got another one started. Another hour or so and I'll be caught up.
  10. Mistr enjoys the ride Life is likely to keep taking strange turns. My goal for this challenge is to relax and enjoy the ride. I did pretty well last challenge with balancing fun activities and chores. I want to expand on that trend this time. I just picked up Caesar III, an old computer game that I started playing in grad school. I never finished it ('cause grad school). I still enjoy it a lot. This is my promised reward for doing chores. I'm offering myself a 2-for-1 deal. For every 30 minutes of work, I get to play for an hour. In practice I haven't been using all my play time. I started this past weekend and got a lot of chores done. My other main fun thing is spinning. My next fiber to spin is the silk on the right in the photo below. The green/blue silk on the left is already spun and just waiting to be plyed. I'm going to get that done first because it is really fast to do. I got the silk at a dyeing workshop two years ago, which makes it the newest fiber in my stash. I have knitting and embroidery projects going too, but those are not calling my name as loudly right now. Keeping up with exercise is important to make my knees happy. It makes other parts of me happy too, but my knees protest painfully when neglected. I'm doing the NF basic kettlebell workout alternating with core yoga or NF yoga. I just started learning to do Turkish get-ups, which are not part of the NF circuit. I'd like to add in silk reeling exercise too. In a perfect world, I'd like to lose the 10 pounds I've gained over the last 6 months. Realistically, I will concentrate on eating veggies and protein and keeping snacks to a minimum. Going to bed on time is not exactly a goal so much as a promise I made to Dumbledore. He is trying to go to bed earlier and me being up makes that harder. Why is not clear to me, since he is usually at the opposite end of the house in the evening. In any case, I promised and it helps me get enough sleep. Sleep is good for my outlook and productivity. Overall my main objective is to keep a good attitude.