Saturday, May 29, 2010

pfefferkorn takes on world record and memorial day complacency

Updated 30 May 2010

Just talked to Scott: the new (unofficial) world record and soon to be a Guinness world record for farthest distance paddled by a woman on moving water is held by Katie Pfefferkorn at 192.1 miles. She finished with 12 minutes left on the clock, but was near a mile marker, so it was easiest to catch it on film to make it official.
--West Hansen via

Katie Pfefferkorn, that bolt of Kansas sunshine who never seems to drop her wing paddle, solos past Paseo Bridge construction on her most recent world record attempt. Pfefferkorn, who broke the previous mark for the longest distance paddled by a woman in a 24-hour period less than a month ago, hopes to put in 200 miles before her day is done—which should happen at 7:45 am Sunday. Scott Mansker and Russ Payzant, a major part of the MR340 brain trust, are providing support and verification for the attempt.

Friday, May 28, 2010

our national debt, 18 million gallons and counting

Funny stuff from BP Public Relation

Thursday, May 27, 2010

livestrong, die, or take performance-enhancing drugs

While some cycling fans, many of whom coincidentally seemed to be Reaganites, steadfastly stood by Floyd Landis' claims of innocence, readers of this blog will know that I never gave either Landis or Reagan much credit for being anything other than big dopes. However, just because Landis is the dopiest, angriest, most vindictive former member of the peleton doesn't mean he can't occasionally tell the truth.

Lance Armstrong has been the other big bully in cycling for years and bullies are yellow. Landis is Armstrong's 2nd teammate to accuse the 7-time TDF winner of systematic doping. Armstrong won the first case against Frankie Andreau and is winning the second one against Floyd in the court of public opinion. But should he? How is Lance any different than Barry Bonds? It's yet to be proven that Bonds took performance enhancing drugs to become the all-time home run king but everyone believes that he did. Only the superficial American cycling fan doesn't understand the fact that sure Lance has done more victory laps down the Champs Elysee than anyone in the history of cycling but that doesn't mean he's wasn't using. Listen to Lance and his coach when he speaks to the public, you'll hear him talk about being clean now and how he never had a positive test for performance enhancing drugs in his career.

The beloved and current US road champion, George Hincapie, sounded a lot like Mark McGuire the other day when he said he'd rather focus on the current state of cycling. Hincapie's sponsors (not the Steroids Anonymous ones!) would probably agree. A lot of cyclists can make similar statements about being clean today (ignoring yesterday) but no one else has Lance's seven TDF victories. And in America, we're all about winning. We're all about not getting caught. And we're all about being white.

It's hard to defend Landis because he has been such a bitter loser. Obviously what pains him the most is that he was doing what everyone else was doing at the time and he was the one who got caught and labeled a cheat. And others are seen as heroes. The timing of Landis' allegations during the Tour of California demonstrate just how bitter he remains. Landis, a former mountain bike world champion won the inaugural Tour of California. Now, he rides for a middling team that can't even buy entry into the event. And to make matters worst, Armstrong comes out of retirement and now all the media wants to do is talk about Lance. Lance. Lance. What a great guy. And his foundation. Awesome. All the time Landis is thinking, Jesus (forgive me, I have forsaken you), but I was just as good as this guy except I got caught and then burned by the system. This guys does it and he's a hero?

I don't think you've heard the end of this story but a lot of people with money and influence sure hope it goes away soon. Among those I count Radio Shack and the Livestrong Foundation. When the bottom line suffers, people take notice. Listen closely to their arguments against Landis and you'll discover that they always focus on labeling him and not on the issue of whether on not the accused took steroids during the time in question. Landis claims he spent as much as $90,000 a year on performance enhancing drugs. That should be pretty easy to prove if Landis cooperates. Authorities won't be able to access the finances of other riders who were implicated so all this will be hard, if not impossible to prove.

Ask yourself this. If Landis spent this kind of money to dope then the other top riders who claim innocence spent nothing? Also ask yourself this. Why are you so eager to find Barry Bonds guilty in the court of public opinion but not Lance Armstrong?

One of the more damning allegations, that the $100,000 contribution that Lance gave to the US anti-doping agency was in reality a bribe. UCI director. Pat McQuaid, strongly denied these allegations but this is one that should be pretty easy to uncover. For example, how many other $100,000 contributions did/does Lance routinely give and how many does UCI receive? We know the answer to the second question-none.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

pat metheny–orchestrion: visual reviews of aural entertainment

Pat Metheny: Orchestrion, 7 May 2010, Uptown Theater, Kansas City, MO. Attendance ~1500.

Other reviews:
pat metheny trio

Thursday, May 6, 2010

grass is stupid

OK. The lawnmower was secured (with a Kryptonite lock) to a tree late last summer lock to prevent property redistribution. The key was then lost for the next 9 months and lucky for us, most of this time was fall and winter. Then came spring, and rain.

Finally today, the key, having been hiding in the bottom of a dish, serendipitously resurfaces like a daylily. Then, 15 minutes into pushing the mower through foot high grass we encounter one of the many boulders lining our raised beds and KAPOW, THUNK. DUH.

All of which leaves me to believe that unless it's getting you high, grass is really stupid.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

signature dish

By now you've probably discovered that much of what your parents told you was wrong. Maybe they meant well, or didn't know any better, but rest assured, ignoring their advice, like that of the high school principal, was sometimes the right thing to do. Example: Playing with your food. Chef's who did not ignore this childhood advice staple are likely busy today running a fast food hot line. This may result in consistent product but it's better to eat playful, real food.

I recently learned of the poor person's sous vide from my pal Ebban (not his real name!) who, when not trying to corner the market on fresh water in the desert, is steeped in MacGyver re-runs. Apparently Hulu, unlike the rebels, can find it's way deep inside a fortified bunker outside of the Green Zone.

Sous vide
, for the uninitiated, is French for "under vacuum". Tony chef's have been spending thousands on complicated vacuum cooking apparati for several years but turns out you have everything you need in your pantry. And here's how to do it.

Instead of vacuum sealing the item to be cooked you place it in a zip-lock bag and remove as much of the air as possible. To cook the item you'll need a clean cooler and some hot water. The trick with sous vide is to maintain the cooking fire (in this case hot water) at the desired finish temperature. Never more and never less. The item bastes in its own juices until it reaches the desired finished temperature. And a cooler is designed to do precisely that—hold temperatures steady for long periods of time. Recently we tried this method on a couple of filets and were astounded as how easy it was and how well and precisely it cooked the meat.

First, season the meat with pepper and salt, place in an Ziploc bag and seal tightly. Squeeze all the air from the bag as the food will need to directly contact the cooking liquid with no air spaces between. Make sure the bag is secured closed to prevent water from leaking into the bag.

To cook beef mid-rare (160° F) fill a small cooler with hot water from the tap and then add heated water from a teapot to bring the entire bath to 165-170°F The water bath temperature will drop slightly once you add the food which is why you start a few degrees higher. You must use an accurate instant read thermometer to insure the temperatures are correct.

Place the Ziploc bag(s) containing the filets in the water. Place a small lid on top to keep the bags fully submerged. Close the lid and then after a couple of minutes check the temperature and if off by more than a few degrees, adjust up or down as necessary. Close the lid and wait another 30 minutes before checking the water temperature again. If needed, adjust the water bath temperature by adding more hot water but never get it hotter than your final desired temperature. After 1.5 hours the filets will be cooked to perfection. You'll know it's done because the juices will have come out of the meat and it will be brown on the outside. You're doing the same thing that you do with any other heat source, you're setting the proteins in the meat. Let the filets stand for 20 minutes and the quickly (on the grill or in a pan) char the outside for 30 seconds. You will be astonished at the tenderness of the meat.

We served our sous vide cooked filet mignon with a slice of no-knead, pecan semolina bread and an apple-cauliflower soup. For desert, a signature dish of home made fresh strawberry and pineapple candied fruit jellies, no added sugar, just pure juice and all the yummy goodness one can stand.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

one moment in time

Photographers are capturing a moment in time (May 2nd, 2010 @ 1500 hours Greenwich Mean Time) in an effort to create a worldwide photographic mosaic. Here's our submission: Sunday morning ride taking as we were rolling down the street approximately 1 mile from the Worldwide Anthill Headquarters.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

salted tomatoes

We're not posting recipes since we're on sabbatical but inspired by a blogger who has posted some 9,000 images of everything he's consumed over the past 5 years we thought it apropos to share a few meals of the last several months. Savvy cooks only need an idea to figure out the recipes anyway so let's hope these inspire you to get happy in the kitchen.

Starter. Roasted carrot, golden beet, apple, and red pepper soup. Winter heaven.

Some pasta. Roasted califlower and almonds with acorn squash puree. More winter heaven.

Every since I saw Lidia Bastianich discuss salted tomatoes I've eschewed my former habit of ignoring all store-bought tomatoes and now use this technique to make them worthy of being in the cook's repertoire. Of course they'd be better with fresh tomatoes but those are only available for a couple of months a year. Look for the ripest ones and use only Roma or plum varieties. Tomatoes must be blanched in boiling water and the skins removed. Then sprinkle liberally with rock salt and place in non-reactive container. Drain for 4 hours. Then toss with olive oil, minced garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Let stand for 24 hours in the fridge. Excellent base for all sorts of dishes including several below.

For example.Salted tomatoes with bleu cheese and pecans. Or Stewed Chicken with asparagus.

Then there is line caught Pacific Halibut from Alaska, second only to the Alaskan Copper River King Salmon for flavor, texture, and yummy goodness. Cube, season, then quickly poach for a stew or tacos.

A couple of fruit tarts, each with a nut crust, for desert.] althought I've practically forgotten how to make these. They're only as good as the fruit.

Don't forget the leftovers. I love leftovers almost as much as the meal. Especially when the $100 turkey is involved. Heritage turkey on a plate of garlic mashed blue potatoes or an open-faced sandwich on homemade bread. Both with a cranberry confit.