Purple Potatoes

Ever since the episode of Dirty Jobs that takes place on a potato farm where they grew blue, purple, and red potatoes (colored on the inside), I have wanted to try them. Since they aren't sold in any store I can find in or around Phoenix I ordered some a couple of years ago from some smug organic farm. They were seed potatoes and so were rather small. I was able to make a fair sized batch of mashed potatoes from the blue potatoes. Yes the resulting mashed potatoes were blue. The purple potatoes I ordered at the time were fingerling's and not good for much. The reds were small also. I planted them and did not get good results. Ok... I got NO results. Sure they sprouted etc. but the blistering summer heat here killed them rather quickly. Although a couple of the plants still survive so we will see. Anyways...

Several months ago Eric called me and asked if I was interested in some purple potatoes from the Pikes place market in Seattle. I said yes and he sent me 5 pounds, however... When they arrived they were in bad shape and I had to throw many of them away. the remainder I ended up planting.

Last week I found another smug organic potato farm in Maine that sells eating potatoes and ordered 10 pounds from them. I got them last week and despite the bad packaging they arrived in good shape. Why did I order them from an organic farm, well because you can't get them from anywhere else because your average mister and misses consumer thinks that a potato is white on the inside and ONLY white on the inside, any other color is either poisonous or would taste funny (whatever). Since mister and misses consumer aren't likely to buy these any time soon you won't find them in your local produce aisle. To recap my reason for ordering them is because they are blue, red, or purple, and NOT because they are organic.

SO... Here is what they look like on the outside
Not very big, and below is what this particular type looks like pealed. The ones Eric sent me were completely Purple.
Once placed in the water they immediately turned the water blue and during cooking the water turned aquamarine.
They Mashed up to a nice pastel purple.
Here they are served up with some chicken gravy and some of Alton Browns recipe for homemade Fried Chicken.
Some things to know about these Purple, Red, and Blue potatoes. They require a slightly longer cooking time (about 5 minutes longer), and they seem to have more starch in them so they will be a bit thicker. otherwise they taste exactly like.......... potatoes. Kathi said they would be great for an Easter dinner. The Blue and Red variety's make Blue and Red mashed potatoes. However I found that the Blue potatoes will be kind of gray when first mashed, then as they are exposed to the air they will turn bluish purple. The purple ones get darker purple after being exposed to the air. I have not made the Red potatoes yet.


Only the Japanese!

This is supposed to take place in Vietnam. I defy anyone to find large tracks of deserts and camels in Vietnam.


Luke Days 2009

Yesterday we went to Luke Air Force Base for Luke Days. March 21st and 22nd 2009. First let me say that whomever thinks that an airshow should be held in March in Arizona should be shot. To anyone out there thinking of holding an airshow in Arizona these are the only months to have one.... Ready.... got a pencil? November, December, and February. That's it. Second how is it no one had the idea to sell umbrellas at the airshow? Third, whats the point of having security, and a list of what you can and cannot bring in, then completely ignoring said list (sometimes).

So it began:

I wanted to get there before 9am but I guess not (I'm not bitter). Anyways we got there about 9:30, there was a mile long line to get into the parking lot. While waiting in this line we caught up with the line to get into the base and we let Mike and Daniel out to hold our place, while Chris and I parked the vehicle. Once we parked the car we found Mike and Daniel. These 2 OLD people behind us had a fit because they thought we cut in line. It mattered not to them that we explained that we all arrived at the same time and that Mike and Daniel were holding our place. The said they made their own family go to the back of the line (dumb assess). The old people failed to notice that other people up ahead were doing the same and their sacrificing their family was in vain. The line continued to grow and folded back on itself twice to the point that it was about 3 miles long. We did not get to the gate till around 11:00 (the airshow started at 10:45). The security screening was a joke. They funneled everyone through 4 lines, the 2 lines on the left were for people with bags. Seriously they should have had at least 2 gates open. The 2 bitchy old people didn't bring anything so they got in before us anyways (dumb asses). Backpacks supposedly weren't allowed in, yet they allowed people in with them. They spent all of 5 seconds looking in my camera bag and did not even look under the stuff on top (who knows what I might of been hiding in there). When we went to the airshow at Goodyear airport in 2006 there were dogs sniffing everything (but not this time). I do have to admit that the probulator mark 6 is less painful than the mark 5 or 4 (they chafe). Once inside we made a beeline for the flightline and found a spot right up to the fence. I later learned some people waited over 2 hours to get in to the parking lot only to give up and leave.

First thing we did was setup our chairs and (those of us who brought them) umbrellas. I then drank a liter of water. Chris set out to find an umbrella and buy some food and more water. I gave Daniel a Radio released his bonds and he ran off to take pictures of any and all airplanes he could find, as well as climb in as many as he could.

Before the F-22 Raptor was to fly Daniel came back with some Chicken Tenders and french fries. We watched the Raptor fly, which was awesome (way... way... better than the Thunderbirds), but just before it was supposed to join up with the P-51D, P-47, and A-10 for the heritage flybys I heard the pilot report a failure with the hydraulics, and it had to land early.

The remainder of the airshow was standard stuff (except for an aerobatic Helicopter). We all were quite hot. Daniel kept trying to steal my shade. This group of Chinese guys who were near us disappeared for a while, except for one who fell asleep. They returned for the Thunderbirds. During the Thunderbirds they sounded like a pack of paparazzi photographing Paris Hilton's Merkin.

For some reason all through the show someone saw fit to interrupt it constantly by running large buses back and forth right in front of the spectators. And I am not sure what this dudes job was but he was sure in a hurry to do it.
This was the first airshow I have been to at Luke that they had actual "armed" guards everywhere. Really?!?! Oooh I felt so safe. I'd like to write more about the airshow but it was too damn hot and too damn crowded to see any more.

So here are some pics.
Oh... One more thing. Redbull your drink sucks, and covering every cool looking aircraft in the show with your crappy logo sucks the big green one. Same goes for you too Geico.

I'd like to thank the following:
The people at Quantaray/Sigma for making a crappy zoom lens (90% of my pictures are blurry).
Luke Air Force Base for their ambiguous, silly, and un-enforced security rules.
My good friend hydrocodone (for my back) without you I would not have made it through the day.


Chaparral Bass

Today Kathi, Chris, and I went to Chaparral park in Scottsdale. We got there around 8:00. We were trying for Trout but not having any luck. We even tried for leftover catfish, and bluegill. Around 10:45 I decided to go walk about. I started walking south around the park. I got about 100 or 200 feet from where Kathi, and Chris were and I cast my line with an old beat up rattle trap on it. In one area on my second cast I thought I had snagged my line. I saw a large bass on it, but it got away. I decided to cast again in exactly the same spot and caught the 3 pound bass below.
I let it go.



I had to have an MRI done due to some inner ear problems. I asked the Tech to give me a copy on CD, so just to prove to those that would doubt, I do have a brain.

And here it is.
Here it is again Labeled.


Canceled Crestock

I canceled my Crestock account and had them delete my images. I site their severly inconsistent reviewers, and lack of return on images sold.

While they maintain that they "only accept images of the highest quality" I have found that they reject images that were accepted by dreamstime, and accepted images that were rejected by dreamstime (they did not know I have images on dreamstime). They accepted some of my (really bad) first attempts at Stock Photography. Then there is the paultry return on a sold image. Most images I sold returned only $0.25 and on very rare occasions I would get $1.00.

I am not the only one who has had the same problems. Their forums are full of similar complaints. With some "professional Photographers" having had whole batches of submissions rejected (200 to 400 images) because one or two pictures in the batch did not meet their standards.

Maybe some day I will try using them again, but not until they get their act together.

They did not remit my $7.50 for the images they sold.


Bacon Tasting Part VIII

Today I tried Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon.

I wasn't sure I would get to try this bacon as it is very pricey, between $19.00 and $22.00 per pound in some cases. I happened to be at AJ's fine foods and stumbled on it. It is $8.95 for a 12 oz. package, that's $11.94 a pound.

Here is the review from an MSNBC article:

"Despite the company’s claims of using particularly lean hogs, our tasters found this bacon “very fatty” with “hardly any meat,” and many complained of its “overwhelming smoke flavor,” which was akin to eating a “wood-burning stove,” or “ashtray.”"

When I opened the package I thought I would be disappointed. Usually bacon's with a smokey reputation smell like smoke as soon as you open them. This bacon did not. I cooked up 3 slices and within a few seconds of hitting the pan the bacon began giving up it's smokey goodness. This bacon is not as smokey as Newsom's. The tasters at MSNBC must have gotten a different batch, or are not used to heavily smoked meats. I would say this batch was a medium smokey bacon. Just the right amount of smoke for someone who may not be used to it. The bacon had a perfect amount of salt, just the right amount of sweetness, no overwhelming ham taste, and in my case almost a 50/50 meat to fat ratio. This bacon barely curled, but did have a little more water in it than I would like. The smokey after taste lingered for a good 30 minutes after eating it.

This is a gentleman's bacon.


Photography Road Trip II

Generally I would write up a long post about something we did, but since Chris & Mike did such a good job, I don't have much to write about. Check out their blogs by Clicking on their names. Here are some of the pics I took:
Chris & Mike having a snowball fight.

A Bigfoot Sighting!

Three Bro's

Some HDR Pics:

Are you a Photographer?

The most ridiculous collection of Bike's, motorcycles, snow mobiles, lawnmowers, and other crap you will ever see at "All Bikes" in Rye, Arizona.
On another note, someone forgot to load up my heavy coats so I was stuck wearing 2 light jackets. Here is my home surveillance video of the culprit loading the van. Note in the upper right hand corner of the screen that he puts my coats in the back of my truck, loads some of the stuff into the van then walks right by them.

Later I called Kathi and here she is taking them out from the back of my truck.


Poor Mans HDR

This technique is good for fixing up an image if you do not have software that can do single frame high dynamic range processing. As an example here is a picture I took outside of Payson, AZ:
I took this picture on a tripod with the flash set to rear sync. The picture is not particularly bad, the sunset is nice but a little bright. The background behind us is almost completely black.

Step one - in Photoshop press Control J to create a duplicate image.
Step two - on the menu bar select Image/adjustments/desaturate.
you should now have 2 layers, one that looks like the picture above and the other that looks like this:
Step three - with the desaturated layer selected on the menu bar select image/adjustments/invert.
Step four - with the second layer selected change the blending mode to soft light.
Your image will now look like this:
The image is "technically" perfectly exposed but doesn't look quite right.

Step five - with the second layer selected from the menu bar choose Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur. Move the slider all the way to the right. Click OK.

Your Second layer will look sorta like this:
Your completed picture would then look like this:
Notice that the Sunset has been slightly darkened and the dark background has been brought out. My wife and I have also been ever so slightly darkened as well.

You can now Merge the layers down, convert to 8 bit, and save as a jpeg if you want.

This technique works best on 8 bit jpeg's. It works ok on some 16 bit pictures.

To automate this process you can create an "Action" and assign it a function key, on my computer I have f2 set to do this. Consult your Photoshop help on how to create an Action.

Pure Gold

Let's see more of this!


Photography Road Trip

Yesterday Chris, Mike, and I went on a road trip early in the morning. We left at 06:00 in the general direction of US60 east. We went through Superior, and Stopped off the side of the road a couple of miles east of the Queen Creek Tunnel.
The temperature outside was 30 degrees. We took some pictures of the Brush and a fence covered in frost.
None of these pictures I took are sellable as they are not completely in focus. We froze our asses off, and went back to the tunnel to take some more pics. I tried to do some light trail pictures but it was too bright for that. I did take a picture of an old water generating plant near the tunnel.
We then drove on to globe, sight seeing along the way for anything worth taking a picture of. We found an old Diner by the side of the road and took some pics of it.
Some where between Claypool and Globe I took some pics of a train.
I had to remove the road name before I could upload them to Dreamstime. The road name was Toledo, Peoria, & Western.

While in Globe we found a restaurant called "Chalo's Casa De Reynoso".
We got there just as the doors were opened. The Chips were crispy but not tough. The Salsa was very flavorful, nice and spicy. The hot sauce strangely was as spicy as the salsa but had not much flavor. Chris and Mike ordered 3 cheese enchiladas and a cheese crisp each. I ordered a Cheese enchilada, Beef enchilada, and a Taco. The portions were large for the price we paid. The cheese enchilada was excellent. The cheese was completely melted and the enchilada sauce was very flavourful. The beef enchilada was filled with what I would call red chili burro filling. Good but little spice. The taco was excellent the tortilla was perfectly crisp and the filing was very finely shredded beef, with just the right amount of spice. The service was cheerful and friendly. The bill not including tip was $32.00 and change. While waiting to pay the bill another person in line told us that the owners had another restaurant at 3138 S. Mill, in Tempe. We will have to check that out later.

After that we headed back to town. We stopped at the Bullion Plaza Museum. Admission is free. There is a reason for this. It looked like a yard sale inside. We saw the entire museum in about 10 minutes. Before leaving Mike engaged the two older ladies in conversation and because of this it took us another 20 minutes to leave.

We did a little bit more site seeing and went home.


Hunting for Nothing

Today we went to the FMR again. When we arrived the sun had not yet risen, and there was no fog this time. The moon was full so I took some pics, only one turned out really good. I had to work some magic to get the moon to look correct and have the picture properly lit.
The previous 3 pictures I submitted 2 weeks ago were not accepted, for reasons I figured they wouldn't be. They were over processed. Oh well they look cool anyways.

We drove a bit further in to avoid any atv'ers, although there weren't many out this weekend. On the walk out I saw not one single cotton tail or jack rabbit. Chris shot a Quayle, Mike didn't see any rabbits either. I did come across the trailer we found out there before. I also found an unreadable sign on a pole more than half a mile from the nearest dirt road. Chris found a place where someone excavated a hole recently for some unknown reason. He also found a large plywood target that was setup on the side of a hill.
We hiked to a small mountain/large hill and hiked up to see what was on the side of it. From below it looked like someone had built a small platform or building out of flat rocks, but when we got up there we found it was just a volcanic outcrop of cracked rocks.

On the way back I stopped to drink some water. I put my rifle over my shoulder, took my water out of my fanny pack, and at that moment a large cottontail broke from cover. I never even got a chance to shoot at it. The same thing happened to Chris earlier in the day. About a quarter of the way back I stopped to take a breather, Chris was to the NNE of me and fired his shotgun at something. That caused a Jack Rabbit in the brush ahead of me to break. I shot at it several times but my rifle stove piped and it got away.

When we got back to the vehicle Chris and Mike took some pics, and we went home.

Each of us hiked about 4.2 to 4.3 miles.


Bacon Tasting Part VII


Another let down. The other day I tried "Vande Rose Farms Applewood Smoked Bacon". As reviewed by the Grateful palate, and other sites. This bacon was raved about.

Here is the The Grateful palates review:

"Ranger Danny's Tasting Notes: My favorite. Lovely appearance, exquisite balance, remarkable meat. All this needs is a fork and knife. 4 oinks. Ranger David's Tasting Notes: One of the best bacons ever! Taste and balance are tremendous. It all starts with with a great pig, man."

Here is the review from this article:

"Tasters raved that this bacon — which scored a distinct few notches higher than the rest of the lineup — has it all: “Nice balance of sweetness to salt, great deep complex ham flavor, very meaty,” with a “faint fruity taste, sweet and salty.” Extra-big slices and “genuine” smoke flavor were big hits with our tasters."

Now my review:

This a dry cured bacon. Rubbed with brown sugar, salt, pepper, etc., then smoked (so they say). I found this bacon to be almost completely devoid of smoke flavor/smell. The bacon was a bit on the salty side, the texture of the meat was close to that of tender beef jerky (a bit dry), and had a mild ham flavor. The fat had a sweet flavor to it, and there was a LOT of fat on the cuts I got. The fat was extremely tender and almost creamy (not chewy at all). This was the only bacon I have ordered (so far) to come in a retail package like store bought bacon. If it wasn't for this packaging I would have thought my bacon had been switch for some inferior store brand. This is awfully pricey stuff for .75 lbs of bacon, that's right, for about $14.00 you get 12 oz. of bacon. That makes this bacon $18.66 per pound. This is bacon for some poor little rich kid that "don't like strong flavors, or smells". Meh!

Need more proof check here.


Hunting in the Foggy Desert

Today we finally got to go hunting for the first time since the end of spring. As usual we went to the FMR. When we arrive there was a light fog over the desert. This is the third year in a row that we came out here in November and there was fog. The sun was rising from behind a mountain and the fog was thick enough you could look at the sun with out any protection. I took several pictures, one of which was good enough to submit to dreamstime.
There were a lot of ATV riders (fleas) camped out in the area, we found a place away from them and I took some more pics, 2 of which I submitted to dreamstime.
Chris went off to make a happy bush sad, at that time he flushed a Jackrabbit. The only one of us that had a firearm ready was me, I attempted to shoot it with my .357 pistol but it was too far away. We set out in a north westerly direction. I got a jackrabbit about 15 or 20 minutes into our walk. I saw another one about 15 or 20 minutes after that but it was too far away. we walked a total of about 2 miles each round trip. When we got back near the car we found this.
I'm curious how it might have got here as we were nowhere near the impact area. We took a break and then went in a south easterly direction. Mike got a cottontail just minutes into the walk, and I got one shortly after that. We got out about a half a mile but there were so many "fleas" we turned back. I walked about 3 miles, Chris about 3, Mike walked about 4.

Generally I don't like the desert, but in the winter and early spring it is one of my favorite places to go. When it is really foggy it can be a little spooky, since you sometimes can't see more than 50 yards in any direction, everything is totally quiet (except for the water dripping off the plants). When something does break and run it can be quite startling. It is also challenging as you have a very short time to react before the rabbit disappears in to the fog. It is an experience I will never forget.


Bacon Tasting Part VI

Ahhhhhh...... Bacon.

Today we try "North Country Smokehouse Applewood Smoked Bacon" Here is The Grateful Palates description:

Artisan: North Country Smokehouse
Tasting Notes: A bit more savory than the cob-smoked offering from this producer, but same thick cut. This is a precocious little bacon that will surprise you with its moxy and flair.

Like "Newsom's Old Mill Store Hickory Smoked Country Bacon" this bacon has a strong but pleasant smoky taste, and is not at all salty. It is very savory, with a bit of a tang to it. This bacon has more water in it than the other bacons, but not a lot. The package states that it is cured with maple syrup, and while it does taste slightly sweet, it does not taste like maple syrup. I detect a note of creosote (but in a good way). Ham flavors are prevalent but not overpowering. The fat on this bacon is where the flavor lies. This bacon tends to curl a bit while cooking. This is comfort bacon.


Bacon Tasting Part V

Once again I was let down, I misunderstood what the label on this last bacon "Nodine's Smokehouse Double Smoked Bacon" mean't.

Here is the Grateful Palates description:
Artisan: Nodine's Smokehouse
Tasting Notes: Our only double-smoked style. Intense smoky flavors. Delicious with omelettes, chilaquiles, and huevos rancheros.

I guess they got a different bacon than I did. This bacon gets it's double smoke name from the fact that it is smoked once with hickory, and then again with juniper berries. Whatever the case this bacon had little smoke flavor, and was not salty. Nothing to write home about.


Bacon Tasting Part IV

I admit I had high hopes for this next bacon, "Tripp Country Ham-Country Bacon Brown Sugar Cured" as it's description intrigued me:

Tasting Notes: Brown-sugar cured, with a mysterious secret recipe that includes red pepper and cinnamon. Thick cut. Meaty, complex flavors. Juicy. Great intensity with a slight spice. Fantastic!

This was a thick cut bacon, but for some reason it looks like the slab was cut in half as the pieces were shorter than the others. This bacon had much more fat than the other ones, as a result it curled the most out of all of the bacon's I have tried so far. This bacon is a bit on the salty side, and it has a taste I would describe as kind of sour. I could taste nothing of the red pepper and cinnamon. This could be because I eat some pretty spicy food and would not notice it. My wife however does not like spicy foods and did not report it as being spicy. As I said before this bacon had the most fat of any of the bacon's, in fact a couple of pieces were about 95% fat. This bacon had a light but pleasing amount of smokiness about it. The sour taste I mentioned above reminded me of "Farmer John Ends & Pieces", which this bacon taste almost exactly like. Once again there was very little if any sweet taste about this bacon. The bacon was definitely juicy. An OK bacon.


Bacon Tasting Part III

The verdict is in on "Dan Philips Special Brown Sugar Hickory Smoked Country Bacon" it is too salty and not hickory flavored enough.

Today I tried the "J. Samuel Whiting Bacon" here is The Grateful Palates" Description:

Sweet aroma, thin and crunchy. Perfect balance like a fine cut diamond. Sweet and powerful, almost fruity. Addictive, soft, lush, judicious use of fat and sublimely balanced. AWESOME and hedonistic. Very unique, sweet, yet savory bacon. Kids love all bacon, but they will especially love this bacon made by J. Samuel Whiting Meats in Pennsylvania.

I find this description interesting as it does not exactly describe this bacon. The Bacon I got was wide, and very thick. On the label it said it was cured with maple syrup and brown sugar, as well as hickory smoked. I found it had practically no hickory flavor or smell at all. I believe that when the bacon was being made a truck load of hickory wood drove by, but that was about the closest this comes to being hickory smoked. It is definitely sweet, but not too much. This bacon taste more like ham than any of the others. The bacon was tender and not at all salty. When they say that Kids will love this bacon they would be correct. This is not a bacon for the adult palate, unless your "milk toast". I could not detect any flavor reminiscent of maple syrup in this bacon. The bacon does have a sweet smell when cooking, there is a bit more fat on this bacon, and it did curl more than the others, but by "curl" I mean it barely curled. This bacon is on par with what is available in your local grocery store. Final verdict... Meh!


Bacon Tasting Part II

Sunday I cooked up a slice of the "Newsom's Old Mill Store Hickory Smoked Country Bacon" for Chris who promptly swooned under it's influence. He even went so far as to try and lock me in my shed so as to get the rest of the bacon. I served the rest as a desert after dinner to several members of my family. all who tried it liked it (yes some people refused to try it).

This morning I cooked up a batch of "Dan Philips Special Brown Sugar Hickory Smoked Country Bacon". My initial reaction was one of a let down. I may have over cooked it a little, and mixed with eggs and toast, didn't allow the full flavor to come through.. Kathi reported it wasn't her favorite, and tasted sour. I thought it was very salty. However just a few minutes ago I cooked up a small batch for tasting purposes.

Here is The grateful palates description:
Artisan: Gatton Farms
Tasting Notes: This is my own, secret, private cure. Only Charlie Gatton and I know the recipe. I set out to custom design the perfect bacon and I think this is it. It has an incredible balance between sweet, hammy pork flavors and salty, savory flavors. The flavors are intense and the meat is succulent. A bold new bacon that stands up and says 'Eat me!'

My review:
This bacon is not as heavily smoked as the previous review, but it is definitely more smoked than your run-o-the mill bacon. one thing I have noticed with these Bacon's (so far) is that when cooked they shrink but they do not curl. Thus making for even cooking. anyways... This bacon has a nice smoked flavor, the ham flavor is more apparent then the previous bacon. The bacon is sweeter than the previous but I would not be able to identify the sweetness as coming from brown sugar. The bacon is salty and the saltiness varies with the width of the bacon. The narrow sections of the bacon are very salty and the wider ends are more sweat. This bacon is slightly more chewy than the first one. Personally I would expect a bacon with the words "Brown Sugar" to have a prevalent brown sugar/molasses taste which it does not. At times the hickory flavor explodes from the bacon and other times it is not as strong. All in all a good bacon.