Homemade Salt

When I tell people about the local foods party (now an annual tradition!), that which I get the most comments about is the homemade salt. Because I've had so much fun making my own salt, I thought I would share with you the process so you can make your own salt too (assuming you live near a salty body of water)*.

First step is to harvest the sea water. Needless to say*, the cleaner the water the better. I try to take my water from below the surface so as to avoid floating badness, such as oil and gas, but away from the bottom where lurks grunge such as fish poop and sand. In my experience, a liter of water will make about a half cup of salt.

Next, you need to find a shallow pan. I've tried both a metal cookie sheet with shallow sides and a pyrex 9x13 baking dish. The metal cookie sheet more quickly evaporated the water, but scraping the salt away was more difficult than in the pyrex, plus, I was a little unsure about what chemicals/sealers the salt might have bonded to on the metal. My solution is to contain the water in the pyrex and let the pyrex rest on the metal sheet like this.

When you've got your pan set up, find yourself a sunny spot. Decent wind helps too. As the water evaporates, add more, little bits at a time, so the bottom of the pan is continually covered. On average, I would pour about one cup of new water in per day, depending on the sun and the wind. After about a week, the salt build-up on the bottom of the pan starts to be significant. In my experience, the sun has a hard time completely evaporating all the water leaving you with damp, hard to spread salt. My solution is to throw the near finished pan of salt (just the pyrex, not the cookie sheet) in the oven after it's been used. The residual heat is more than enough to finish off the drying process.

Presto, now you've got some homemade sea salt.
Thursday August 23 2007File under: food

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Local Foods and Local Fun

I'm pleased to announce that this year's local foods party was a resounding success, although anyone who stopped by knows that already. Round about 30 people contributed to a menu of over a dozen dishes of all* local ingredients. Recipes and tips were exchanged as well as origin and often times history of the ingredients ("The currants were from the neighbor up the street and the apples from my own tree.", etc.). It was truly delicious food for the body and, for me, food for the soul.

For those of you unfamiliar, a bit of history: last year I conceived of the idea of having a collaborative meal where all ingredients were from the local area, as arbitrarily defined as a 100-mile radius (this is not a new idea and has been gaining lots of media attention recently). The idea is to understand where our food comes from, appreciate what northwest Washington has to offer, capitalize on the bountiful season, and do it all in an inspiring, educational, and fun way. The party went extremely well and drummed up much enthusiasm and discussion. (A write-up of last year's party including pictures and a menu can be found here).

This year's party wouldn't have been nearly as successful if it hadn't been for all who those who contributed and participated. Being able to share my enthusiasm for local foods and getting such a positive response is what makes it so much fun. Also, a big thanks to Andrew and Ma for the pictures (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Hey, I got an idea: let's do it again next year!
Monday August 20 2007File under: Anacortes, food

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BdW Version Update

Inspired by IHJ post about improvements and upgrades (kudos to Chris for the homegrownedness of them), I thought I would share a few of the improvements that have gone on here since the last upgrade. Most have been kicking around for a while, but have mostly gone unnoticed because of placement, etc. (not that any are fancy enough to warrant fanfare...)

Link Blog: Following Ryan's example (see right hand column under all the pictures), I've added a link blog. This is for the interesting/useful sites that I come across in my daily web meanderings that I want to share but don't want to make a dedicated post about. The most recent links can be found down the left hand column or you can view them all at the archives.

Ads: So I added ads. I'm hoping that they are unobtrusive, helpful, and possibly even profitable. I'm up a whopping $1.98 currently. Feel free to click on them. Every now and again, good stuff pops up there. Currently, they are located far down the left hand column on the main page, at the bottom of People's Guide to Anacortes, and at the bottom of any permalinked page.

Permalinks: I've improved the way BdW permalinks. A "permalink" is a link that will always point to a given post (even if it is years down the road). Now, the page will have only the one post and the comments associated with that post along with an abbreviated left hand navigation column. Permalinks are great for when you want to send a specific post to a friend* or link to a specific post from your blog. To get the permalink, just click on the title for any post.

Comment Encoding: Over the years*, there have been some issues with cutting and pasting links into the comment area. I think I've got all that worked out, so paste away.

Coming Soon: I've got a couple more support pages coming soon, including an about page that will hopefully be useful to new visitors and a resume page to showcase all the web design work I do. Since I know you will be holding your breath, I'll be sure to point out when I get those launched.

New Match Em! sets: Unfortunately only one reader submitted their own match set for addition into Match Em! (Thanks Joe!). I added in a couple more sets as well, so be sure to check them all out.
Friday August 17 2007File under: coding, blog

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Skimboarding

One thing about living in the same place you grew up is that friends who have moved on to bigger and better things always return for a visit. This week is one of those times where loads of people are all back in town, from Boston, Quebec, Yukon, California, and more. And when so many people are around, lots of activities ensue.

The activity du jour was skimboarding (previously covered here). With new boards in hand and enthusiasm to beat the band, we found ourselves a great sand bar down at Rocky Point for some schralpin'. To kill time until the tide was right, we all tried our hand at building sand castles. And after the tide passed, we investigated various ways of hucking ourselves into the ocean.

Yes, besides the bumps and bruises, a sun burn, and the extremely sore legs I will have tomorrow, this skimboarding mission was an complete success.
Wednesday August 15 2007File under: Anacortes, misc

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Wiffle Ball

The universe often sends out its energy in waves. The wave of late has been wiffle ball energy. Having not played (or thought about) the game in ages, the opportunity to play two games in almost as many days is the universe's way of telling me it has been too long.

Game 1: It was no contest. Team Birthday Boys trompled the heavily favored Hometown Heroes 11-2. I hit one over the fence in the fatty-batty inning to really put the nail in the coffin. The score, however, doesn't do justice to Hometown Heroes. They were worthy opponents. Perhaps next year, a rematch is in the wind.

Game 2: (also covered here) There must be a resurgence of wiffle ball in Bellingham because bats are difficult to find. We found possibly the last bat in town after visiting a number of stores. But with equipment in hand, we got down to business. The Flying Platypi held their own in this 10-10 tie, even with the disadvantage of missing out on the fatty batty inning. (Those $2 bats just don't last as long as they used to, even when pre-wrapped with duct tape.) Again, it was a fun game where everybody won.

Yep, wiffle ball isn't just for kids. It is good fun for late twenty-somethings clutching desperately at their long gone childhoods. Or wait, maybe that is just me. Anyway, thanks to all that made it such a fun time.
Tuesday August 14 2007File under: Anacortes, misc

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Match Em!

With all this trivia that has been floating around in my head and life of late, I had to find an outlet. What I've come up with should prove to be lots* of fun.

The game is Match Em, and as the name suggests, it is a matching game. I consider it accessible trivia, because even if you don't know each and every one, you can usually reason out at least a few correct answers. The game also tracks the average score of everyone who has played for a given data set. Examples of data sets currently included are Painters and Paintings, States and Nicknames*, Car Makes and Models, and much more. So try it out. Let me know if you have problems or questions. (Please to note: it hasn't been tested on any Macintosh browsers. If you try it out on one, let me know if it works.)

The part of this whole shebang that I am excited about it the ability to add new data sets easily. For this, I was hoping that I could call on you, dear reader, to help out. What matching sets can you come up with? Send me (via e-mail or the contact page)* anywhere between 7 and 14 matching items in a given category. In about a week, I'll add all [appropriate] submissions to the game.
Sunday August 12 2007File under: games, coding

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Filler

It's been a busy time for me recently. On the work front, I've been housesitting and mixing concrete (don't worry, not together). On the fun front, it I spent some time at the Anacortes Arts Festival*, checked out the always wunnerful Spoonshine show, did another fun trivia night at the Back Porch Cafe, and learned to play guitar hero.

Since I've been so busy*, I haven't been able to give the old blog the time it deserves. And because I don't want anyone who visits to be overly disappointed, I thought I'd throw up this little filler post. Don't worry, I've got a few posts brewing that will be ready soon.

In the meantime, see how many of these robits you can name. Our team did about as well as we did on the last picture identification round: badly. (Oh, and I neglected to get the actual right answers, but I figured you either know you know them or you don't, so the answers are rather superfluous.)
Wednesday August 8 2007File under: Anacortes

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Dream Science Circus

I consider myself somewhat of a circus arts snob. I've seen enough shows in my life to know what is good, creative, skillful, and professional. I've dabbled with enough of the skills to have the respect for those who do what they do well. While every show is different, many are too often the same. That is not the case with Dream Science Circus.

This is the third year Dream Science Circus has come through Anacortes, each time to a positive reception. This year, they performed in the depot, rather than their circus-style tent of years past. The new venue was probably easier for setup and had more comfort for the audience, but the loss of the tent did take away from the atmosphere a bit. The performers, though, did a great job conveying an other worldly atmosphere.

As for skills, there was juggling, lots of acro-balance, contact juggling, vignettes, aerial acrobatics, and more. The emcee, while good, drew out the in between bits a little too long for my liking which led to the whole show running a bit long, esp. for some of the children in the audience. I could have done without the plot all together, but like I said, I'm kind of a snob like that.

What was best about the show, for me, was the familiarity with the people. The circus is based out of Bellingham which has a close knit circus arts group of which I am lucky enough to be on the fringes of. To see performers on stage that I've juggled with and seen improve over the years is just plain neat.

Did I mention that I like circuses?
Sunday August 5 2007File under: Anacortes, juggling

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Kwik-E-Mart

As most of you already know, the Simpsons Movie opened this past weekend. And as most of you might suspect, I went and saw it on opening night. I'm giving it a thumbs up! Good plot, good inclusion of the characters we have come to know and love*, and lots of good jokes. All in all, it was just like paying $10 to watch a good, long episode without commercials. Anyway, I enjoyed it muchly.

Since the Simpsons Movie is kind of a big deal to me, I tried to think of ways to make it special. I immediately* discounted the idea of dressing up like Prof. Frink. Camping out for tickets was also out of the question due to the 105 degree heat. Luckily, one of the 12 or so 7-11s that have been converted to a Kwik-E-Marts is in the Las Vegas area. (I've heard confirmed reports of others in Seattle (thanks, Siri) and Washington D.C. (thanks, Izak) Bingo.

Most notable at this particular Kwik-E-Mart was the number of other slack-jawed gawkers roaming around with cameras. Good thing there was lots to take pictures of. Life-sized replicas of many characters were placed around the store, although the Jasper from the freezer had been stolen. There were Simpsons-themed foods and drink available as well. The Buzz Cola was sold out, but there were Squishees a-plenty. I enjoyed a nice sprinkled donut. There were also little subtleties around that made it quite fun, like dashing uniforms for the employees and other quirks.

On my way out, I struck up a conversation with the cashier* who told me how well the promotion is working for 7-11. He said that in the Las Vegas area alone, they made over $30,000 in two weeks off the sprinkled donuts alone. Not bad at all.
Thursday August 2 2007File under: travel, movies

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110 in the Shade


A few nights ago, Emily and I went up Red Rocks Canyon to the Super Summer Theatre. The venue is gorgeous with the red rock cliffs surrounding a grassy lawn and professional stage. Everyone brings their blankets and chairs, along with picnic dinners, and enjoys an evening outdoors watching legitimate theater. Because it is a couple thousand feet higher than Vegas, the temperature is bearable, some might even say pleasant*.

110 in the Shade was the name of the play we saw, not a description of the weather where we were seeing it. And I guess I should call it a musical instead of a play. There was lots of singing. It immediately brought to mind that Simpsons episode about painting the wagon red. Hilarious. It also struck me as completely the opposite of what kind of experience one might expect to have in Vegas. Rather than high gloss, air-conditioned casino entertainment, it was more old-timey community-oriented fun.

While the atmosphere was spectacular, the temperature was bearable, and Pei Wei hit the spot, we opted to beat the crowds and head out early before we found out if Lizzie hooked up with Sheriff File and if Starbuck made the rains come. I imagine it all worked out. All in all, it was an awesome evening.
Monday July 30 2007File under: travel, misc

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