Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, OK!

rust eats away

Here is some smily rust for you!
(Seen in Susquehanna Depot, NY State, on an old Erie railroad box car, which had seen better days. More photos from this place in my photostream.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A great thing, if you get minimized

Awesome mailbox #36, originally uploaded by Hobo Matt.
I love things like this, whimsical and well-designed. Do you think any mice will find their way up?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No way out, no way in...

What were they thinking? This must be the end of the world.  Really.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Taxonomic inaccuracies in the food world

Most times I don't care if people can tell the difference between a cow and a deer, a bee or a wasp, or a crow and a turkey vulture, but when authors and publications that are very particular on being accurate in one area don't even bother to check the ID on other things they write or talk about, it really bothers me.  Such as food magazines that proudly distinguishes with fancy words between the top and bottom of a pig, different varieties of kale ('grönkål'), and have different words for types of Italian vinegars depending on the region they come from.  If you are that picky, and pride yourself on it, as a publisher you should check everything and ask the experts when you enter new zoological and botanical territory.

Here are two recent examples:
On Bon Appetit's website there is a blogpost about what to do when you get a fly in your soup at a restaurant.  Good post, interesting comments, however...  the accompanying photo is of a soup bowl with a... guess.... a CIKADA (they are also called locust).  A giant cikada, obviously dead and spread out with its wings in a very unnatural position to resemble a monster fly. I have to ask my family dipterist (that is fly guy) if there even are that big flies in the real world.  But still, why not just say it is a cikada in the soup? The photo is from istockphoto and the photographer said it wasn't a fly, but that wasn't clarified by Bon Appetit, who bought the right to use the photo.  It is like saying you are looking at a pork chop when in fact you are seeing a bison or reindeer steak. 

Second example was a recent article in New York Times about the world-famous restaurant Noma and its chef René Redzepi, who cooks with local (= Aal of the Nordic countries in fact), sometimes wild, ingredients such as wild beach plants, reindeer, wild roses, and puffin eggs. With the article is a photographic slide show of some of the dishes and ingredients, gorgeous photos, but with some big errors in the descriptions.  The small fuzzy flower buds of the 'oxel' tree (whitebeam in English) was renamed "axel" tree by NY Times.  Rose hips ('nypon') turned into rose petals. And a photo of the local pine cone is described as a thuja cone (photo on right, different thuja species look a bit different, but never like a pine).  These things matters, not only do they miseducate but in the case of the thuja, you do not want people to go out there and chewing on these toxic plants. Especially not if you are pregnant, since the toxin can cause miscarriages. I am sure the Danish chef knows what he is doing, but the journalists weren't getting it right, and yes, NY Times have been notified, but not fixed the errors yet.

It is impossible to know personally all the correct names of the 1.7+ million species in the world, but I think we should at least try to get it right as far as we can.  Or maybe I am too picky.

(Thuja cone photo by Luis Fernández García, Creative Commons license, on Wikimedia)

Friday, July 23, 2010

OK snapshot: Hot dog

More of inner-city zoology. (Mer av storstadsfaunan.)

The last days of building...

on our new wooden deck at home. A so called "altan" in swedish. It´s a "must-have" in Sweden today, urbanised people can´t stand to trot on grass anymore ;-). We had a stone paving that needed to be removed because the rain water collected alongside the house. So now we have the wooden deck instead. It´s been a slow continuing progress building it, carefully measuring twice before using the saw. Wishes from the wife (me), like having a door in the deck to put things down under it, slowed it down.

As always, our comic sketcher Berglin has something to say, (swedish, sorry folks!)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Face your pocket

I found this on the web through a link in a newletter from the swedish website FOTOsidan for photographers. Great website by the way, but for now the topic is "Face your pockets". A project to inspire people to empty their pocket on a scanner and make an arty self-portrait. You can see more photos here and upload your own.

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Jersey birdlife in summer

Forster's Handoff, originally uploaded by Billtacular.

Things are happening along the New Jersey shore - birds are flying, eating, feeding, swimming, diving, attacking, sleeping, and breeding. Here is a photo by Bill Lynch of two Forster's terns at Brigantine, a great birdwatching place. Enjoy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

OK snapshot: Urk på burk?

LS comment: Urk in Swedish means 'ick', but 'burk' means can. Someone lost
a letter someplace.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

OK snapshot: Högt och lågt (high and low)

Februari till Juli, + 60,9 C.
February to July, 142 degrees difference (in Fahrenheit).
Stockholm in heat and cold.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stamp of the Day: Garbage pickup

I have to admit that I never thought there would be stamps about garbage disposal ('sopor'), but there is.  And from Denmark of all places.  Relevance to this blog?  There is garbage pickup at our house tomorrow, and since LA is at Astronomy Science Camp this week it fell on me to get the garbage can to the road. I took the opportunity to wash about 8 waste baskets and garbage cans from the house with the garden hose, a step in the right direction of getting a cleaner house. I found these stamps while I was looking for stamps on the theme 'sweat', because we are having a horribly humid day here in New Jersey.  Did you know that we sweat calcium and magnesium, and even small amounts of lead? Hot and humid weather... not fun. I can feel the metal being excreted through the pores...

From times past - no more telegrams are swishing by (photo for EH)

This photo of an old telegraph pole with glass insulators was taken two days ago in downtown Endicott, New York State, where there were many of these along the railroad line. Nobody had cared to harvest these glass insulators for selling them at $10/each in New York City's antique shops. Telegrams are no longer sent, and these lines and poles sit here like a fragment of a past that is long gone, like many other things in this area of southern New York State. Old road signs, store fronts, milk jugs, abandoned industries and rusty railroad bridges, it is all there. Sad to see, but I rather see them even if in a bad state, than have them being eaten up by McMansions, WalMarts, and enormous anonymous parking lots outside megamalls. During our little roadtrip we stopped at two historical diners to eat some classic American food, but more about that later.

Never stop loving

Never stop loving, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.
The Sourland Mountain in New Jersey has some interesting street art graffiti. Seen yesterday, on Ridge Road.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

OK snapshot: Fina fisken (Fine fish)

LS comment: Very traditional Swedish summer lunch - pickled herring (matjes
type), boiled potatoes, salad, and boiled egg. This is what I grew up on,
well, we did have pancakes and oatmeal too :) (and other things). It is
great food!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July today

Google is celebrating Rube Goldberg's birthday and US Independence Day at once...

A nice view on hot summer days...

Ice crystals, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

Remember January? This is what it looked like - ice crystals along a little brook in the Sourlands Preserve in New Jersey.

Pickling and jamming

So far this year I have made 18 pints of pickles, that is about 9 liters. And I also made half-sour pickles that are whole cucumbers fermented in salt-water for a week and then eaten directly, and they turned out to be really good! I don't think they will last long in the fridge. (Click on photos for larger images, all on my Flickr account.)

home canning
For the first time in my life have I canned the American way, which means that you have special glass jars and lids that are processed in either boiling water or steam to sterilize the content after the jars have been filled. The jars are called Mason or Ball jars, and are really easy to use. These jars were invented in the mid 1800's, and I think it is amazing I never saw them in Sweden. So smart design! After sterilization you can store the canned food at room temperature (but lower temp is better).

Making red currant jelly at home
The lids have a rubber area on the inside of them (orange), so you heat the lids (simmering, no boiling), and then put them on the top of the jars with screwtop metal band to hold them not too tight in place. During the sterilization, extra air will come out through the lids and after the boiling, when the contents cool the jar will be sealed along the rubber edge and under negative pressure. You replace the lids each year, but can reuse the glass jars and the metal bands that hold the lids in place during sterilization.  If you find a jar that doesn't have a properly sealed lid you shouldn't eat the content, they might have spoiled and be contaminated with bacteria. So you want to hear the 'pop' when you open a new jar.

Making red currant jelly at home
When we grew up in Sweden people would preserve food in jars too, but nobody ever boiled the jars. Maybe it worked better there, with less risk of food spoilage because people had better and colder storage places for jars. I didn't hear anybody worry about botulism in Sweden, but here it is a big scary deal and people die from it, and mostly from improperly processed homecanned food. So I learned how to sterilize and can fruits and veggies this year. Last Christmas I got this bomb-proof pressure-canner pot from PP, and I am putting it to use! Here are the basic steps:

Making dill pickles at home
Making the syrupy brine to pour over pickles - water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and some dill stems for flavor.

Making dill pickles at home
Cleaned jars are filled with homegrown cucumbers and waiting to be filled with hot brine.

Making dill pickles at home
Pickles can be either long spears or slices. PP prefers spears, I love slices, so I made both.

red currants
For the first time we got a real harvest of red currants this year, and they were delicious. I made red currant jelly (röda vinbärsgele) of most of it. My grandmothers used to serve red currant jelly with Sunday beef roasts.

Making red currant jelly at home
Red currant jelly is made from red currant juice. You boil the fruit and then strain it to get the juice without the skin and seeds. Then you boil the juice and add sugar so it gets a jelly like texture when it is cold - this step took much longer than I expected. This picture shows the jelly at a full roaring boil.

Making red currant jelly at home
At the same time, the jars were sterilized in boiling water. I used our pressure canner for this and for the boiling-water sterilization of the filled jars, but without the heavy steel lid.

Making red currant jelly at home
Filled small jars (1/4 pint, ca 1 dl) with red currant jelly, ready to be sealed with lids and metal bands.

Making red currant jelly at home
The closed red currant jelly jars are put into the water bath to be boiled for 10 min.

red currant jelly - done
Red currant jelly - finished! Heaven in a jar.

Last Sunday's lunch - as American as it gets

Stewart's - orange heaven, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.
Last Sunday we drove to Stewart's in Flemington and had a real American old-fashioned fast food lunch. I know, maybe not so healthy, but very, very good. Here is our lunch tray (Swedish in parenthesis for those of you who want to practice your linguistic vocabularies):
  • Hot dogs with sauerkraut, relish, and mustard (varm korv med surkål, bostongurka, och senap)
  • French fries (pommes frites)
  • Fried onion rings (friterade lökringar)
  • Fried zucchini sticks (friterade squashbitar)
  • Hamburgers (hamburgare)
  • Ketchup (ketchup!)

Mmmm, very yummy, but the onion rings were a little too thick. The french fries were great, and had the skin on them, the best way to make them.

LS snapshot: What happened to my car?

The grammar police is needed here... :)