laundrylineLaundry on the line.

IMG_0208Weird asparagus.







Hey! New logo up there! What do you think?

We’re all friends here, so I’m not sure why I continue to bore you by talking about the weather, but… dang. This winter. It’s been 20 years since we’ve had consistent, Midwest winter. Twenty years! My kids have never experienced this, the kind of winter where I make all kinds of references to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter even though this winter is nothing like that winter; as far as I know, the trains are still getting through.

At any rate, I’d think the ten-day forecast was actually funny if it weren’t for the GDMF potholes in our fair cities. I wish I was kidding. Instead, I’m mad that it continues to be cold and I’m mad that there might be more snow and I’m mad that my car is suffering because of the roads. MAD. Last week we saw several inches of snow, slush raining out of the sky, a really nice warm-up that helped melt the foot of snow on the ground, a tornado watch, and an inch of rain in 30 minutes on top of all the snow. Tonight’s low temperature: Two degrees. Barf. Jim called this month “Apruary”, and I think it works for me.

There were a couple BYI radio segments in February. I talked about food in bowls here and I blabbed about making your own yogurt here. I have something else in the hopper for that first week in March (also known as next week). BYI video #1 is being edited right now; we have music thanks to my friends at Automatic Empire (thankyouthankyouthankyou). BYI #2 is scheduled to be shot next week, if it’s NOT TOO COLD. Here’s a hint as to its subject matter:


I have lots of other ideas, too… but first I need the weather to improve so we can GET OUTSIDE.

My Whey or the Highway

There’s something in the air. Friday I went to lunch at Sitara with my future writing partner, the awesome Chef Alisa DeMarco, where we commiserated about not having time to really get down all day in the kitchen (in her case, her home kitchen) to make something DEEP; Saveur mag came out (that day, maybe even?) with online content talking about “project recipes“; I’m bored, I think that’s what it is. I think we all are. This winter is endless. Endless! I just wanted to go outside, or do something inside, or WHATEVER. I DIDN’T KNOW. Gah.

So I made yogurt. In a machine. A machine that has been sitting, brand new and untouched, in the cupboard above the oven for 5 years, when I bought it in a fit of pique right around my 40th birthday. [It should be noted that my mother also had a yogurt maker that she used a few times before relegating it to the back of a cupboard, so I come by this hereditarily.]

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I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned my oven woes/whoas. Making yogurt is probably something I would have tried to do in the oven, but the ol’ Visualite is nearing 70 years old, and has decided that her only temperatures are Pretty Damn Hot and Really Fuh-reaking Hot. This will have to be addressed at some point, but that point is not now. It’s been this way for about 8 years, so I’m kind of used to it, but anything requiring precision or overnight heating is unwise. So I got out the yogurt maker and went for it.

What’s cool about making yogurt? It requires only a couple of ingredients, it doesn’t require a lot of babysitting, and it saves the recycling bin from a glut of containers. It feels awesome and thrifty and downright powerful to make a staple food from leftover staple food – chicken stock from a chicken, sourdough bread from starter, more yogurt from starter yogurt. It also tastes pretty damn good. I’m glad I did it. It was incredibly easy. I’m a dork for letting the maker sit in the cupboard for so long. So, thanks, yogurt maker: Until the oven gets fixed, you will not be condemned to the same fate as the panini press, the Foreman grill, the juicer, the food dehydrator…

Two Days Are Not Enough

I believe a 4-day work/school week would work to our advantage; two days is never enough time for this household to get its act together.


I want to be where these gull prints are. The photo was taken last March in Florida, and while we had winter here last winter, it was nothing like this winter has been. Ergo, we’re planning another trip. I’m already making shopping lists in my head and thinking about the fruit stands I’m going to visit and wondering if there are any new restaurants. We have been going to the same place since 2002 and have only missed one year, 2005, since then. We bought our house at the same time the trip was supposed to happen that year. It was worth it. 909 has been, and continues to be, good to us.

I was thinking that today might be the day I inventory my seed-starting stuff – the lights, the trays, etc. It’s been too cold in the basement to start seeds, though. I wish I was kidding. We’ve had so many days/nights in the single digits here that the basement is just cold all the time. Forget starting seeds – I barely want to go down there to switch the laundry. I haven’t ordered any seeds yet, partially because it’s so freaking cold down there and also because our food co-op does such a great job of bringing seeds in early, thus enabling my laziness and lack of adventure. But it also really saves time and it’s nice to support continued good behavior on the part of one of my favorite local businesses. Thanks, CGFC! I’m sure I’ll be in soon… and then ordering seeds for stuff I plant later in the season.

Oh! The first radio BYI of the year aired locally late last week and is now available on the internet right here. “Ramen Shaman” should be ready by the end of the month, and then we head right into shooting the next one, plus continued radio pieces… it’s a busy time, yet it still feels so hibernatey. There’s a warming trend in the forecast for early next week… I hope it thaws some creativity and motivation around here in addition to the snow mountains.

Bowl Season


I think it must have been when my brother was a young teenager – so sometime back in the late 1980s – that I first heard the phrase “Jethro Bowl”. FROM MY MOTHER, YOU GUYS. Marc (my brother), like boys that age since the beginning of time, was given to eating large amounts of cereal. His preferred bowl-fare was very sugary and extremely tasty and my mother refused to buy it, so what did he do? He went right out and got himself a job hauling newspapers and heaving the golf bags of rich dudes all over a golf course so he could buy his own damn cereal and nobody could say a damn word about it. Anyway, I’m not saying she made the term up, but she definitely was saying it back in the day.

I’m bringing it back tomorrow in 2014’s first edition of BYI. What would you fill a Jethro Bowl with this time of year? FOBYI Douglas is threatening to bring over chicken and dumplings this weekend, which it appears we’re going to need, so… how ’bout you?

Alternative Landscape



As yet another snowstorm begins to take shape over the midwest, I’m dreaming of my young childhood topography.

There’s a power even in this photo, which I took about two years ago, that I can’t really describe; I know people feel this way when they see prairies and wide open skies, and forest with bits of mountain poking up, and rivers cutting through rolling hills.My love for the beach – and for Florida’s very rare undeveloped beaches in particular – has nothing to do with beach culture or vacation livin’ or Margaritaville – it’s about Nature and elements, and I confess I feel much closer to those things on the beach than I do anywhere else. It’s where I spent my young childhood, and its pull is powerful.

Weak Week

Last week was a bit flattening.

There were reasons, most of which I won’t go into here except to say that sometimes the stars just DO NOT ALIGN and EVERYTHING IS CRAZY SOMETIMES and, occasionally, I DO NOT LIKE BEING A RESPONSIBLE-ISH ADULT.  There was also the weather to deal with:



Saturday morning! Thunder woke me up! It rained slush out of the sky! Uncool, February first! I retaliated by circling about $200 worth of seeds in the Seed Savers catalog and about $1000 worth of kicky clothes in the Title Nine catalog (Seed Savers will win when the chips are down, because TOMATOES). It’s cold again with more snow on the way, apparently, so I’m retaliating further by roasting a chicken and making brownies.

[One note about that latter retaliation: Our Tappan Visualite (as in, this oven has a WINDOW!!) oven is old. Like, it might be 70 years old. It still works, but with caveats. Fine, I’ll bake things, she tells me, but there will be NO temperature regulation whatsoever! I just get hotter than hell! Lately, it’s been Oh, god, you know, nope. Nope. Not today. We always coax her back into action, but I feel like the end might be near. Our kitchen, like our house, is very small (something I’ve talked about before on the radio) and very not-updated. Its vintage nature is not on purpose – it came this way – but I kind of like it the way it is and do not want anything super-fancy to replace ol’ Visualite when she gives up the ghost. I think about this, and how much it will cost, a lot. Because it will cost – a lot.]

We had a great shoot last week for the “Ramen Shamen” episode of BYI that’ll be done at the end of this month (AT THE END. OF THIS MONTH.) I “helped” make noodles for the ramen, and we all peeled a few eggs, and Mark & Leslie were so damn gracious about our totally being in their way (and in their faces). THANKS, YOU GUYS.


Leslie pretending not to notice BYI DP Tim Meyers


As things got closer to service, the fine humans from the Cracked Truck came in to help make noodles as fast as people could eat them. (Note the foreshadowing on their URL)

crackedKieffer & Daniel from Cracked getting all noodly with it

Seeing the Cracked guys come in to lend a hand did my heart good. These are young guys, entrepreneurs, who aren’t thinking just about their success. They want to see others in this community succeed, too.

Lots of people came to the back room at Pizza-M to hang out and eat noodles and take photos of the noodles and of each other. It was quite fun to watch people start gathering after their work days were done, and the whole thing felt very current day downtown Urbana. It’s exactly what we were hoping to capture.

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The first radio piece of 2014 will air this week. One of its inspirations: A cupboard devoid of clean bowls. I hope it sounds as interesting on the air as it does in my head.