Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Year Ago, then Snow!

About one year ago, we moved into our new home in Fort Collins, CO. What has changed since then? Many things! (Details forthcoming.) One of the most visible changes being that the owners painted our house "Forest Service Green" a month ago. Fancy!

And, we went from a high of 77 yesterday, to three inches of snow (and still accumulating) tonight! Crazy Colorado weather... Asher loves it!

Time to break out the snow boots!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ellen vs. Homemade Soy Milk - part 2

The soy milk experiment was a success!! From 577 grams of soy beans ($2 worth), I made ONE GALLON of delicious milk!

Here's what happened today:

Turning the beans into a foamy paste: Moderately Easy

I drained the soaking beans and put them in the processor with some water. What made this slightly harder than totally easy is that 1) I have a four cup food processor so I had to do it in lots of batches and 2) I didn't process the first couple of batches long enough so I had to repeat the processing. The goal with this is to make it thick and foamy.

Boiling the soy bean mixture: Easy But Incredibly Messy
I added the thick foamy mixture to some pre-heated water. Even after splitting it into four different pots, it still tried to overflow.

Separating the Soy Milk from the Okara: Easy but HOT
After 20 minutes, it was time to separate the soy milk from the fibrous bean part, called okara. This is done by pouring the whole mixture into a cotton muslin bag and then squeezing the bag to get all of the soy milk out of the okara.

If you are using regular plastic kitchen gloves to do this, I would recommend putting on liners underneath the gloves.

And that is it! We have soy milk. Now to make the tofu...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ellen vs. Homemade Soy Milk - part 1

Jon and I have been eating more vegan than not lately which means more soy milk and tofu. After a conversation with some friends of mine and the discovery of this site, I decided that I wanted to try to make my own soy milk and tofu.

This is a many day process so I'm going to blog about it as I go, which means you will get my totally uncensored opinion of how hard or easy it is. Today involved the purchase of the soy beans and the soaking.

Buying organic soy beans: Easy
I found organic soy beans at the Fort Collins Food Co-op. If you live in a town with a food co-op, you should definitely check it out. We buy all of our bulk items at the coop and recently had to shop at a Whole Foods when we were out of town and wow is the Whole Foods bulk section ridiculously small (Take that, Whole Foods! Your bulk food section is miniscule!) Anyway, here are the soy beans in all their organic and inexpensive glory:

You will notice in the instructions that the recipe calls for one pound (or 500g) of soybeans. It is kind of unclear how much soy milk I will end up with but $1.59 for each batch is pretty great.

Measuring out the beans, cleaning and soaking them: Easy
I used my kitchen scale to measure out the beans and kind of half-ass rinsed them since they looked pretty clean and there were definitely not any stones.

Here are the beans before rinsing and soaking:

And here they are in their water:

So far, so good. Tomorrow the real fun begins.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flashback: Hamburg, Germany

Just over a year ago, Ellen and I decided that it was time to escape the oppressive heat wave in Berlin. (This year the high for the upcoming week is a lovely 76. Time to go back?) Ellen had looked up several old friends, including one in Hamburg, Germany. This was our next destination. When we arrived, Anke, our hostess, already had big plans for us. Our first order of business was to travel downtown... by canoe. We learned that Hamburg has an extensive canal network, including more bridges than either Amsterdam or Venice.

Vid Link

That evening, we were taken to the very swank hotel-top bar: 20up. My favorite part was the view from the restroom...


On the way back home we took a stroll through the Reeperbahn past HerbertstraƟe and learned that you can identify a prostitute by the fanny-pack that they typically wear - not in back - but in front. It's important to keep an eye on the cash.


The next day, we decided to learn a bit more about the city and so we jumped on another free tour from Sandeman's. The tour stopped at some churches, including St. Peter's which housed the oldest art work known in Hamburg: these door handles from 1342...

Saint Peters Door

We also stopped at St. Nikolai, which was nearly destroyed by air raids during WWII...

Nikolai 1

Nikolai 2

In a darker part of German history, we passed by the MeƟberghof, which housed the company that manufactured the Zyklon B pesticide used in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The figures on the outside are original... and extraordinarily creepy.


On a happier note, here is a poodle...


Hamburg has a huge port and was part of the Hanseatic League. This puppy sits atop the shipping house originally owned by Carl Laeisz. His "pet name" for his wife Sophie was "poodle." Now that's love. Other shipping houses along the tour also had some pretty interesting architecture.

Accounting House 1


Accounting House 2

We ended the tour in a modern area of town being heavily developed next to the new Symphony Hall, presently under construction. It should be pretty cool when completed. Watch its progress here.


We wound down the evening with a wonderful meal prepared by Anke and a few glasses of wine. The fresh ravioli she had picked up at the local market that morning was better than any we had in all of Italy. Absolutely.


The next morning (very early), we said our goodbyes to Anke and headed out to listen to some organ music and then wandered over to the fish market.


As to be expected, lots of vendors...

Fish Market

And, fish!


I wasn't ready for the cold slab of skin-on fish, so I purchased the Americanized version. Not too bad.

Fish Sammy

This guy could wield a butcher knife like it was his job. Wait. It was his job.

That's a Knife

Anybody want to buy a pigeon? Hamburg has you covered.

Birds For Sale

Finally, here are a few miscellaneous pictures from around the city that you should see:

This was not a handicapped person. Just a dog in a department store. Love it.

Supermarket Dog

Interracial gay marriage card in the same department store. How times have changed in 60-odd years. Good job.

Two Guys, One Cake

Specialized tools for brautwerk. Serious business.

Braut Tongs

And.... that's a wrap for Hamburg! Thanks again to Anke for being such a wonderful host to us!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Year of Firsts: Fort Collins Urban Assault!

First the bike camping and now our very first Urban Assault - we are on a roll with firsts! We participated in this city wide bicycle scavenger hunt last weekend and boy was it fun!

One tip if you do attend: there is a prize at the end for "style." There were lots of good contenders this year.

The ride started and ended in the New Belgium Brewing parking lot and, as is to be expected, involved copious amounts of BEER!

Some "activities" at the ride stops:

Diving for cans of New Belgium beer:

Slip and Slide!

The best ride end ever: a wet bounce house on a hot day!


Convinced yet that this is a good time? Sign up next year and ride with us!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Our First Bicycle Backpacking Adventure!

Guess what we did last weekend? We went bikepacking! Or, perhaps more accurately, we embarked on our very first sub-24 hour overnight bike camping trip, also known as an S24O.

We started from our house in north Fort Collins with our bikes loaded up with gear.

The 10.5 miles to Lory State Park involved 6.4 miles of lovely separated bike lanes over relatively flat terrain and then 4.1 miles of almost completely uphill roads with no shoulder. We arrived at the park hot and sweaty to find, coincidentally, my Mom and Dad and some much needed ice water. They claimed they were out looking at houses but we think they were spying on us... :)

We pedaled into the park, locked our bikes at the picnic site across from the trailhead and loaded up our packs. Did I mention that we had to backpack in to our campsite? 

We started the entire trip kind of late in the day so we had to move pretty fast to hike the four miles in to the backcountry sites before dark.

We made it just as the sun was beginning to set and were able to get our tent up before it got dark. We went to sleep pretty quickly after dinner but not before a moment of mild alarm as we heard a strange noise that sounded like a bear. I am proud to say that we didn't panic although in retrospect our plan to throw our trail mix at the bear and flee the scene screaming might not have been the best. Fortunately, we realized after a little while that the sound was probably coming form a bird. A weird bear-bird.

In the morning, we had a quick breakfast, broke camp and headed back down the mountain along a different route.

The trail we took down was way more scenic than the way up and we enjoyed views of Arthur's Rock and sweeping vistas of the foothills meeting the plains.

Once back on our bike, we flew down the road (4.1 miles downhill this time - wheee!) and stopped at the totally adorable Bellvue Bean for some lunch. We had a pleasant time relaxing on their back patio and hanging out with one of Asher's very elderly cousins. 

The remaining after-lunch miles were a piece of cake and we arrived home sweaty, dirty and happy. We're already planning our next trip - anyone want to come with us?