Oktoberfest Birthday Blitz

A birthday celebration in the form of an Oktoberfest party?
Sounds awesome to me!

Worth noting:
  • Giant steins being passed around among a group of friends are AWESOME.
  • The German chocolate cake from Wuolett Bakery is AWESOME.
  • Friends that dress up in goofy ensembles to celebrate your birthday are AWESOME.
  • The freshly made beer and pork bratwurst from Everett's Food and Meats are AWESOME.
  • Boots of Jaeger Bomb shots lead to insanity.
  • The 50 liter kegs of Bitburger from Zipp's are AWESOME.
  • Husbands who throw you an Oktoberfest birthday party are AWESOME.
  • Shots of blackberry brandy are totally underrated.


[where: 55406]

Happy Birthday, Nachos!

Today, the beloved dish of many celebrates its 65th birthday.
So let's give it up for the epitome of ideal food that we call Nachos!

It's Nacho Birthday

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling too hungry
For the ends of olives and nacho cheese.
I love thee to the level that I love
sweet, creamy guac, by sun or candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for steaks;
I love thee purely, as they turn from pears.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old tastes, and with my childhood's craves.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost soup, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after lunch.

[where: 55406]

Pumpkin Carving Madness

This weekend we picked up 25 pumpkins for carving purposes.

Reason being, this upcoming Saturday, at my Oktoberfest Birthday Blitz, guests will be carving pumpkins upon arrival.

I say upon arrival because knives should really be put away before the kegger gets tapped, if you know what I mean.

I noticed Ray Villafane's pumpkin carving prowess on Boing Boing, and became even more ENTHUSED about the pumpkin carving this weekend.

Check out Villafane's pumpkin carvings.
Dude has mad skills.

[where: 55406]

EPA Answers My Questions about our Superfund Yard in Minneapolis

After writing this post, I sent an email to the EPA regarding our questions about the EPA Superfund cleanup project going on in our south Minneapolis neighborhood.

Here are the the questions I posed and the responses I received from the Tim Prendiville, EPA Remedial Project Manager:

- Are there are alternatives to replacing the lawn with native species or a rock garden? Would the EPA consider using native species for replanting?

We start with the premise that we will replace like with like. So if someone has a chainlink fence, and we need to replace it we will go in planning to replace it with a chain link fence. However, we are willing to be flexible in our approach to the restoration of the properties. In considering requests like those you've proposed people need to keep in mind that we are not doing this cleanup to improve people's landscaping. We are doing it to provide a safe yard. The controlling factor in considering these types of request is that our work cannot result in a "betterment" of the property. Practically speaking this means that we will not replace one item with another item that is of a higher cost. We would have to look at the cost of replacing a lawn with native vegetation before we could agree, but it sounds like it is possible. However, replacing a lawn with a rock garden would not likely be o.k. because of the increased cost of materials and labor. We may be willing to consider a situation where the owner independently negotiates with the contractor for a rock garden, but EPA would pay for a portion of that work equivalent to what reseeding the lawn might have cost. The owner would be responsible for overseeing the installation of that material themselves.

- Should we hold off on installing that new sidewalk and patio that we were going to install?

If people have plans for work like that I have told people not to necessarily hold off. I cannot say when cleanup work on the property will happen. It may happen next summer, but it also may take a few years to get done. This is because we have close to 500 properties to cleanup and also because we don't know when funding will be available to start work. The earliest we could start this work would be next summer. So my advice to people is to just do what you think you need to do, with the understanding that you should try to follow the suggestions in the attached fact sheet* - "How to reduce accidental intake of contaminated soils". Once we start work we will try to avoid taking equipment over sidewalks and patios, but some times it is unavoidable. If we damage it we will replace or repair it.

- Who pays for all the water necessary to re-establish the plantings?

We are still working on the exact specifications for the landscaping contractor, but generally we include several weeks of watering after the planting. The idea is for us to water the reseeded lawns until they have started to grow. At the same time they will water any other plants that were replanted. After that initial period of planting and watering it will be the homeowners responsibility to water the plants.

-Will they be removing the soil directly next to our house? Will our foundation be compromised? That's a lot of soil to remove and if it cracks while they are working, we could have issues down the road.

The excavations require a slope at the sides of the excavation to avoid side walls from falling into the hole. So by necessity we would not be able to dig immediately next to a house. Our desire is to stay away from the foundation for the very reasons you are concerned. If digging close to the house is required we likely would hand dig that area.

Before starting work we will video document the condition of the property, including the condition of the foundation. A copy of the video will be provided to you. We will do the same when we are done with the work. This is to protect both the homeowner and the contractor when it comes to claims of damage. If we damage something we will repair, or replace it.

-How will water drain off our property? The last thing we want is water running into our house the first time it rains (or snows) more than an inch.

Our goal is to return the property to its original condition, to the
extent that we can, including drainage. There have been instances where the ground sloped toward a house before we started and we sloped it away when we were done to improve drainage. We try, as best we can, to match the original compaction of the soil to make sure the ground drains the way it originally did. We have run into some issues with drainage in the past, but we have always returned to correct any problems if we caused them.

-Are they going to cut down our trees so they can remove the contaminated soil? We're not particularly attached to our trees, but we'd like to know.

We generally try to hand dig around trees to avoid damaging the root systems and have been pretty successful up to this point. If there is some question about whether a tree will survive even hand digging we could do additional sampling to make sure the soil needs to come out from around the tree, or just agree to remove the tree and replace it when we are done. These questions are going to come down to property specific issues that we will work through with the homeowner before we start work.

* click on these thumbnails to view full size imag

[where: 55406]

Backyard Burning in Minneapolis

Looks like Minneapolis has something to say about people with fire pits in their backyards at the Star Tribune online.

The problem with wood smoke, said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, is that it contains hundreds of toxic chemicals, almost like cigarette smoke.

Burning also releases lots of fine particulates, he said. Some get stuck in the nose and throat and cause irritation and coughing. But extremely fine particles penetrate into the deepest part of the lungs, Edelman said, causing inflammation that provokes acute breathing problems for those who have asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory diseases.

Concerns about wood smoke from recreational burning are similar to workplace complaints about people who wear strong fragrances, he said.

"People have a right not to have their health and well- being impaired by what other people do, especially if what other people are doing is not necessary," Edelman said.

John Seltz, air policy supervisor for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said that it's not necessary for the state to regulate recreational burning, because ambient air quality is generally good. However, he said, that doesn't hold true for someone just downwind of a smoky fire who is getting a heavy dose of pollutants. "In individual nuisance situations, cities will have to try and work them out," Seltz said.

Personally, I'm not up in arms about health risks from back yard fire pits. Whatever I'm doing on a daily basis is much worse for me than my neighbor's occasional wood smoke.

[where: Minneapolis, Fire Pits, 55406]

Our Superfund Yard in Minneapolis

Have you heard about arsenic contamination in South Minneapolis?

If not, an area in South Minneapolis has been declared an EPA Superfund area due to arsenic contamination from an old fertilizer plant. Nearly $18 million from the Superfund will be used to replace lawns contaminated.

We received a letter from the EPA this week regarding our property. Our's is one of the residences that will have the entire 12-18" of the topsoil removed and replaced by the EPA next year....from what I understand, both our entire front yard and back yard are contaminated.

I am grateful for the cleanup effort. I'm also glad we planted our garden in hanging buckets using growing soil that we purchased.

I have a feeling we'll need to learn to love dirt and mud....really embrace it. It's gonna be a messy, messy project digging out 12-18" inches of topsoil from our rather large city lot and replacing it, especially when you add a dog into the mix. I will be zen about it, and consider it my "earth" year...a chance to focus on that magical element made of stones, sand, clays and humus.

I'm building a list of questions about this project:
- Are there are alternatives to replacing the lawn with native species or a rock garden?
- Should we hold off on installing that new sidewalk and patio?
- Who pays for all the water necessary to re-establish the plantings?

[where: EPA Superfund, South Minneapolis, 55406]

Our Hanging Garden

Last fall while I was at a conference with a bunch of farmers and ranchers, I was complaining that while we have a big back yard, the only sunny spot is where the dog does his thing, which is less than ideal for a vegetable garden.

A colleague of mine from the AfroEco Group, who specializes in urban gardening, offered me this advice: "Do an upside-down garden. Take advantage of the sunny spot and keep your dog AND the squirrels away from your veggies." Throughout our lunch break, he gave me the basics.

I came home enthused and throughout the winter I was pumped to start experimenting with the upside down vegetables. Gerg was game, and helped with the logistics.

This photo was taken on the first day.

First, gerg made sure the house was structurally prepared for the extra weight.
- We drilled holes in the bottom of the buckets.
-Then we fed the plants through, roots pointing upwards. We wrapped moss around the roots to help hold the plants in place.
-Finally, we filled the buckets with good soil, hung and watered them.

We selected these green buckets, which were formerly pickle buckets at a local burger joint. We purchased them for $2 each. Because they were already food grade, we didn't have to worry as much about chemical residue. We scrubbed them well, and planted.

This photo was taken on the 34th day.
-Large, strong hooks are in order. A 5 gallon bucket full of wet soil and plant roots isn't light.
-Strong, solid fascia boards are in order as well.
-We purchased a watering device with a longer neck, so we could water the plants while they were hanging. One advantage to the upside down bucket method is a lot less watering when it's dry outside.

The final result was 4 productive plants: 2 tomatoes, one pepper, and one basil. Go here to see more photos of the project. Not one tomato was stolen by a squirrel. Not one. BOOYAH!

[where: 55406]

The Hook in that Cadillac Escalade Commercial

I had to know what that hook was in the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid commercial. You'll know what I'm talking about when the song hits :39.

I have a thing for elecktro. Basically, I can't get enough.

Thanks to the Shazam application on our iPhones, we were able to figure it out.

Band: Justice

Song: Genesis

Album: Cross

Worth Noting, for ButterBurger Lovers

I received an email today which may interest a few ButterBurger lovers I know...I'm looking in atrain and IIII's directions.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Join us October 7th as we celebrate our 24th year of mouth-watering ButterBurgers and fresh frozen custard. Just drop by your neighborhood Culver's and enjoy up to five $1 single ButterBurgers."

[where: 55406]

jP American Bistro - Closed

I was saddened when I read this today:
JP’s American Bistro Closed. Tragic.

I don't know anyone who ate there and DIDN'T enjoy it.
I, for one, wanted to kiss the chef the last time we were there.
It couldn't have been the food. The food was so darn tasty.

In Dara's blog, JP is quoted saying:

The construction [endless, at Lake and Lyndale] finally got to us. With the economy, the construction, Minneapolis property taxes—after our first year, because the property had been redone, our taxes went up by three-thousand dollars a month. Nobody had budgeted for that. The construction was supposed to happen in one year, but they came back and started on Lake Street, and at some point you have to cut your losses.


You can read the following statement on the jP website:

We are sorry we have to announce the closing of jP American Bistro after 5 and 1/2 years of serving our community. We want to thank all of the countless people who graced our doors and gave us a chance to serve them. It was a privilege and an honor.

Please stay tuned to our website for future updates. We are sorry we won't be able to serve you this holiday season but for those looking for holiday gatherings contact JP directly.

Once again, from all of staff past and present, thank you for sharing all of your memories, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, engagements, hopes and dreams. With the deepest repsect, Namaste.

jP, Cheryl and Evie


BOO! I say, BOO!

[where: Minneapolis, JP American Bistro, 55406]

Green Tomatoes Everywhere!

Sure, you can ripen some of them on your windowsill or in a paper bag, but what are you going to do with the rest of those green tomatoes hanging on the vine in your garden??? HMMMM?? What ever will you do with all of them??

Every year, I make big plans for my green tomatoes, but I usually just end up making fried green tomatoes because they're easy to make, and they taste good with marinara, which I make using the ripened tomatoes.

This year, I want to make green tomato pie, yo. I've had it before, and it tasted similar to apple pie. Maybe a green tomato crisp would be easier....and healthier because it has oats in it - right?

[where: 55406]