Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crabapple flowers close up

Crabapple flowers
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Crabapple flowers

Crabapple trees
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Flowering crabapple trees

Crabapple trees
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a grove of crabapple trees flowering now, on the Mattabesett trail, just off Mt. Pisgah.

Crabapple trees

Crabapple trees
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I took a short hike along the Mattabesett today, on the section north of Cream Pot Road, up to Mt. Pisgah. The sky was ominous, but it never rained.

This is a view along the trail. I believe these flowering trees are crabapples.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Food for the week

Over the last year or two, I've mostly been brown-bagging my lunch to work. I've been a lazy brown-bagger; mostly I'd dump half a can of soup into a microwaveable container, grab a cup of yogurt and a snack, and I'd be done. Since I work in an office with a fridge and a microwave, eating lunch at my desk is all too easy.

Maybe it's just a phase, but for the last couple weeks, I've gone back to cooking meals in one huge batch and bringing individual servings to work for lunch. I really don't like cooking. My motivation for doing this was to try to get more green leafy vegetables into my diet, and to eat less salt (canned soup is far too salty in general).

This week's recipe:
1 large bunch of organic red chard - $2.87
2 15 oz cans Eden Organic chick-peas (garbanzo beans) - $3.60
1 15 oz jar Ethnic Gourmet Punjab Saag Spinach Sauce - $3.60
8 new potatoes (small potatoes) - $1.00

This is a sort of stew so it doesn't matter too much how you cook things, but I did it like this:
  • Cook the chard in a large pot till tender (about 30-45 mins), meanwhile microwave the potatoes till barely tender (10 mins).
  • Remove chard from pot, leaving remaining liquid in the pot. I didn't dry off the chard after rinsing it clean to begin with, so there was a lot of liquid, maybe 2 cups.
  • Add Spinach Sauce to the liquid in the pot, bringing to simmer.
  • Add potatoes and chick-peas to the pot, let simmer 10 minutes.
  • Add chard to pot. Stir. Done.
Prep time: about 30 minutes. Cooking time: about 30 minutes. Servings: 6-8. Cost per serving: about $1.60.

I've frozen the extra servings for use over the next week or two, since I don't like eating the same thing day in and day out. I felt a little trepidation before trying it, but it worked out really well - flavorful, not excessively salty. Quite nice.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why I recommend "Breakfast of Champions"

by Kurt Vonnegut

I finished reading Breakfast of Champions, which is a deeply sad book. Wiki describes it as satire. I suppose there’s some humor here, but in general what I find is a well of despair. I have to give it two thumbs up for just how painfully despairing Vonnegut was able to make it. It is populated with characters who are filled with “bad chemicals” and who lack free will. Here’s a snippet:

“Listen: Bunny’s mother and my mother were different sorts of human beings, but they were both beautiful in exotic ways, and they both boiled over with chaotic talk about love and peace and wars and evil and desperation, of better days coming by and by, of worse days coming by and by. And both our mothers committed suicide. Bunny’s mother ate Drāno. My mother ate sleeping pills, which wasn’t nearly as horrible.”

And so on.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tank the fifth

Fifth fill-up today. Total miles: 1613. Trip miles: 387.2. Gallons: 7.653. Price per gallon: $2.939.

Screen mileage: 53.8 mpg. Tank mileage: 50.6 mpg.

The weather is warming up. I had a few highway trips on this tank.

After filling up, I drove the car to work, which is about a 15-20 minute 7.5 mile trip. When I reached work, the screen claimed I had averaged 66 mpg, which seemed too good to be true. Indeed after a couple of more trips to work, it's now down to about 53 mpg again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

Last week, Kurt Vonnegut died. I'm reading Breakfast of Champions in memoriam.

I really want to like his work. I've read a couple of his books: Galápagos and Slaughterhouse-Five, with mixed results. I'm giving him another whirl.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tank number four

Fourth fill-up today. Total miles: 1226. Trip miles: 266.0. Gallons: 5.738. Price per gallon: $2.899.

Screen mileage: 47.7 mpg. Tank mileage: 46.3 mpg.

Temps went south for a while. Spring went back into hibernation.

Immediately after filling up the tank I made a highway trip of 155 miles. The screen tells me I did 54.6 mpg for that trip, which is quite pleasant. I wish I'd get better city mileage.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Third tank

Third fill-up for the new Prius today. Total miles: 960. Trip miles: 334.2. Gallons: 6.918. Price per gallon: $2.819.

Screen mileage: 49.4 mpg. Tank mileage: 48.3 mpg.

I made two longer distance trips on this tank (more than 30 minutes). Most trips were under 30 minutes, mainly back and forth to work. I bet the increased mileage is due to an increase in temperature. Spring has sprung.