Hummingbird nectar recipe

Whoo-hooo! We got hummingbirds galore!

About 3 weeks ago, a rufus hummingbird decided to let us know they were back in the area by flying up to one of our regular bird feeders by the kitchen window. We immediately made up the standard recipe of 4 parts water to one part sugar, and put it out in our three feeders.

Apparently, we hit the start of the hummers moving back into the area, because we attracted more of them than we've ever seen before. All four of the local species have shown up, Rufus, Anna's , Calliope and Black-chinned.

Baked Tomato Sauce

This is a rather modified version of the one presented on Alton Brown's Good Eats program on the Food Network. Baking the tomatoes first gives the sauce a very rich flavor and allows some of the sugars to caramelize nicely.

Unlike the Alton Brown version, I use a variety of tomatoes from my garden, and I don't remove the seeds. Saying that cooking the seeds will cause the sauce to be bitter is an old myth that they obviously never bothered to test out. The fact is that the juicey goo that surrounds the seeds is one of the most flavorful parts of the tomato.

As for the varieties of tomatoes, I grow several types of heirloom paste tomatoes as well as regular heirlooms and cherry tomatoes. Whatever I pick goes into the batch whether red, yellow, pink or black; paste, beefsteak or cherry they all go in.

If I'm using cherry tomatoes, they go in the gaps between beefsteaks or if I have a lot of them, they get a pan of their own that goes in the oven an hour after the larger tomatoes have started baking.

I also went with dry herbs because it is a waste to use fresh unless you are overloaded with them. In fact, I think that the dry herbs make for a better flavor given the extended cooking time.

And lastly, I cut the wine from the recipe. Adding the wine did not release any special tomato flavors, it just gave the sauce an overpowering flavor of alcohol. If you like your tomato sauce to taste like booze, go for it. Personally, I lke the tomato flavor.

Chinese Garlic Chicken

I just started harvesting one of the garlic for this year, so I thought it was time to post this Garlic Chicken recipe. This is the version of this recipe for those that LOVE the stinking rose, so be warned that the garlic level is pretty high on this one. The other spices are pretty tame for one of my recipes because, in this dish they are just supporting actors and garlic plays the lead.

While I have been using fresh from the garden garlic cloves, this recipe is just as good with decent store bought, or even using the chopped garlic in a jar from Costco. The resuting dish just comes out a little different, that's all. In fact, I rather lke the results with the jarred garic as it seems to carmelize a little better than the fresh, but you give up that fresh garlic bite.

General Tso's Chicken

This is my version of the simply wonderful recipe that I found in The Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo. This is one of those cases where I stick very close to the original recipe, as it really is that good.

Traditionally this dish is made with chicken thigh meat, but I find it is just as tasty using breast if it is what I have on hand.

Mongolian Beef Recipe

Mongolian Beef was one of the first Chinese dishes that I fell in love with back in my early carnivore days. I never had much luck reproducing the same texture at home until I found a recipe that recommended deep frying the strips of beef for a short time before stir-frying to finish things off.

This is the fairly simple form of Mongolian Beef with only the strips of beef and the scallions served on top of fried bean threads. If you like other things like bell peppers, onion, or water chestnuts go ahead and add them during the stir-fry portion, remember, it is your dinner, make it the way you like.

This is a modification of that original recipe that I found, making it hotter and making the sauce a little clearer with the addition of a little broth. I also found that the original ended up with a little too much oil in it for my taste.

Jambalaya (Creole style)

There are just about as many ways to make jambalaya as there are ways to make chili. This is a Creole-style Jambalaya that uses tomatoes so it comes out with a sauce that is very red in color. I keep planning on playing around with recipes to make Cajun-style without the tomatoes, but this one is just so good that I never seem to get around to making it any other way.

Dairy-Free Chicken Pot Pie

After looking around for a good, dairy-free, chicken pot pie recipe that used quality ingredients, we came up with this one. As always, using veggies fresh from the garden makes it better, but it is still mighty tasty if you use frozen peas and carrots and such.

We choose to use spelt flour, but whole wheat works just as well. We figure that commercial foods tend to use wheat, so we generally use spelt in all our home made goods for the nutrional variety.

Cool tool to help pick colors

We're currently going through the hell that is selecting colors for the kitchen and dining room. I'm the first one to admit that I don't have the interior designer's flair for picking paint colors. Hell, I'd rather go to the dentist than deal with picking colors.

It isn't that picking the main color is so bad, you just find one that you like and go with it. What sucks is trying to find the other colors that will go with it, for the trim and accents and such. There are lots of books that tell you how to do it, but they either give you a few simple examples, or they are loaded up with theory that doesn't really help those of us that are color challenged.

Satay Peanut Sauce

Anyone that has ever ordered satay at a Thai restaurant is familiar with this tasty peanut sauce. While it certainly goes well with the traditional chicken, beef or pork satay, you can also use it to make a rather tasty stirfry by adding it to your wok for about the last 45 seconds of cooking.

Holy Basil Beef

This is one of my favorite 10 minute Thai stir fry dishes. It is a delicious, simple dish with an easy to adjust heat level. While it is definitely better with Holy Basil, it is still quite tasty if you substitute with regular thai basil.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

This is the version of tuna casserole that my mom made while I was growing up. I loved this stuff, and never understood why people made fun of it. Once I got a little older and tried some of the "standard recipes" it suddenly made more sense why tuna hotdish was so despised: Cream of mushroom or onion soup as part of the white sauce!

Mom's version is made with a sauce consisting of milk, flour and mayo. In my opinion, this gives the dish a much better flavor.

Playing with AdSense

I've followed the workings of AdSense for a while now, but I've just never gotten around to playing with it much. As it is now obvious if you look to the right, that has now changed.

I'm playing with AdSense modules in both Drupal and Wordpress. While they are useful enough to start with, I would really like to put together a system that gives you a lot more control of all your ads. Doing something like being able to set specific overrides depending on what page is showing.

There are so many advertising options out there that might be appropriate for certain pages, but not of general interest around your website. Things like an affiliate link to Northern Tool when talking about a home generator, but I don't think I would want the affiliate link showing up for a page about sewing drapes.

Playing with themes

I just changed the theme to this site. Up till now, I was using the standard on that came with drupal.

The new theme is FriendsElectric, and it runs with the PHPTemplate engine instead of the standard engine. I'm looking forward to tweaking it around some to bet my own look to the site.

I'm also going to play around some with the positionaing of the various blocks, I started out with some on both the right and the left, but that took up all sorts of space when I wanted to print out a recipe. I'll probably put some back over on the right after I get the printable pages working.

I also want to mess around with putting up ads, but in a sensible fashion.

Wordpress experiment

Since I went and applied for a job at the college to help them select and set up their Content Management System (CMS), I decided that I should start aquainting myself with more of them than just the one that I am using on my current website.

Wordpress is blogging software that I looked at for my own site and discarded for a couple of reasons. First, Wordpress is blogging software, and I wanted the ability to make my site more of a community site than just a blog.

Second, and an even bigger turnoff for me, was that Wordpress doesn't have threaded responses in the comments. That means that if you comment on my story, and 10 people comment after you, but before I get a chance to repond to your comment, all those other comments will be between your comment and my reply.

Since this is a learning situation I went and set up a Wordpress test site to play with. Who cares if I like it or not, it is just so I can be conversant in Wordpress when I'm talking to someone about various CMS for a job.

Added chat to the site

I just added a module called Chatbox to the site. A friend of mine was looking in to chat software, and I decided to give it a go to see how it works out.

To use it, you will need to register and login. Then go down the left column to find the link to join the chatbox. I set the refresh to 20 seconds for now, at least till I see how much of a load it puts on the server.I doubt that it will be all that much, and I will be able to crank it up to a 10 second refresh after a while.

Of sourse there needs to be a couple of people around at the time for it to be of any use. I'm online most afternoons.

URLs, full, absolute path and relative path

When putting links on one of your pages to other pages on the same site, there are three basic choices:

  1. Full URL - This is the protocol + domain + path version where there is absolutely no mistaking where you are intending to point. An example of this would be
  2. Absolute Path - This version does not include the domain name, but does have the entire path name from the root directory down. This version always starts with a "/" instead of a directory name, filename or a ".". And example would be /directory.file.html
  3. Relative Path - This version is generally the shortest and points to the target relative to the current position in the directory tree. If you are in /dir1/file.html and you have a link to "../file1.html" you would move up one directory and open /file1.html. If you linke to "dir2/file2.html" you will go down one level to /dir1/dir2/file2.html because it will look for dir2 relative to your current location in dir1. Link to a file "file3.html" and you will end up at /dir1/file3.html.

Dairy-Free Potato Leek Soup

This is the version of Potato Leek Soup that I came up with so that Laurie could enjoy the fresh leeks from the garden without any dairy products added. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that the aditions of cream and butter are highly overrated. I used a canola margarine spread for the sweat and rice milk to replace the cream, and I think it came out better than most traditional versions of this soup.

CWIhosting sucks!

We have been hosting BGT at CWI hosting for at least three years now, and they have finally succeeded in running us off.

For much of that time we were happy with their service, they would reply promptly whenever we would submit a trouble ticket. Their prices remained high for the amount of bandwith and disk space we were allocated, but as long as we were getting good service there wasn't much point in switching just to save a few bucks. Not to mention, we were still well within our bandwidth limits, so why tempt fate by moving to a different server.

Scoop sites and SPAM

Lately I've been trying to come up with some ideas for some new websites, and some of these sites seem to be better suited for software like Scoop than Drupal. I'm actually a member at sevarl Scoop sites and really like the interface, as well as the ability to rate comments and gain Mojo.

The big problem is that Scoop sites are now being targeted by spammers, and there are no effective tools available to help deal with them. The idea that users will vote down story submissions that are full of spam seems to be valid, even on non-tech sites, but the only sites where users gain enough mojo to be able to hide spammy comments seem to be the tech-centric sites. That just doesn't work out well. And if you enable diaries, only admins can delete spammy diary entries.


Welcome to my personal corner of this interweb thingy.

I'm actually the webmaster on several different sites, but this one is where I intend to put all my personal rambles and rants, and to experiment with whatever I please. Few, if any of you are going to be all that interested in everything that I write, so I'll set up the RSS and Atom feeds so that you can just follow along with what interests you.

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