The boonie is inside and it’s fecund. Heavy with peppers, I’m wanting to ensure it could survive our stepping away for a few days. Last year I was a lot more cavalier about it all. This time I’m experimenting. I’ve mentioned plant water spikes already, now its time to worry about lighting.

Lighting is provided with these bulbs, day and night timing with these inexpensive timers, and the final element is a light fixture stolen from the computer room. I was (and am) looking for small portable light fixtures with a nice parabolic back stop so I can direct a beam of light at my large plant. Anyone know of someone selling office fixtures that can handle 60 watt bulbs anymore? A check of Office Depot showed fixtures that could only handle 13 watts.

The plant light bulbs are huge, with a ballast that puts a 100 watt “equivalent” bulb to shame. In the picture below, the smaller bulb is the standard 60 watt replacement bulb.

Small and locatable. That’s what I need, and will be looking for.

Update: Target has desk lamps that work well.

I marvel at how my tropical pepper, the Guam Boonie, continues to produce when the weather is so cold.

With the boonies, 3 are alive, for sure. One looks good. The other four look more and more dubious by the moment, but I’ll keep watering them for a while. But I’m coming to the conclusion that I’ll need to grow a couple more plants from seed to really have the number of healthy plants I want. My wife thinks I took them out too early. Perhaps. Perhaps I have to lose the few that can’t survive winter to keep the ones that can.

I’m buying and putting into containers a tomato variety called husky cherry red. I’m hoping they are good container plants, though I’m reading that they can get 50 inches in height. I also bought a Japanese eggplant, because my daughter wanted one. I have no special hopes for the plant, but if it does well, so much the better.

If the plants get too big, I’m going to make cylinders of rabbit wire, drop them over the pots, and hope that keeps them growing.

The surgery was a success, and the boot is gone. There are lingering pains here and there, but I can fit into a shoe for the first time in months, as opposed to wearing slippers. I can be decent company for someone going out. That’s definitely a plus. So I went out, tried Kampai, a steak, seafood, and tapas joint, in Lawrenceville, located where the On the Border used to be. Nice place, I liked it. Photos and a review shortly.

My boonie peppers are alive but not doing well. Some may have died. I need some warmer weather, about 80 during the day and better than 50 at night to be sure. Till then I water them and keep my fingers crossed.

The New York Times has an interesting article on the effects the lack of slaughterhouses have on the locavore movement. Higher slaughterhouse standards are causing slaughterhouses to close. Therefore, farmers trying to supply regional meat are having to book time for slaughter before animals are being born.

Finally a pic. I got a new scale – the Ozeri – that could weigh to the gram. The spice mill I finally devoted to sichuan pepper left my daughter bereft. Before, the mill had black pepper and she was enjoying being able to grind her own. I bought another. I’ll make sure that one stays pepper oriented.

Ozeri scale versus the one we've had for 25 years.

It has been raining all week, and although my peppers have not sprouted any new leaves yet, the buds on the stems are more pronounced and they look healthier overall. I’m hoping the rain lets up and we get some sunlight in a bit. Lots of rain, however, can’t hurt plants that have been inside and watered perhaps once a week.

Doing a search for bike trails near Snellville, I found a spot called the Arabia Mountain Trail. It’s rated “easiest” by the Single Tracks site, but that’s exactly what we need to begin. I don’t need to be challenged right from the start, I need something the whole family can do. That it has a starting point in or near Stonecrest Mall can’t hurt either.

I had a  large work related party this past Friday. The party was held at a Taco Mac in the Dunwoody area. I have photos and a review, but not today. Soon. I also managed to sneak into Perseopolis for a 3pm meal. That went over nicely and I’m hoping to write about it pretty soon as well.

I met a dietician last Wednesday. She was pleased with the progress so far and made a few simple suggestions. She said I shouldn’t eat a whole serving of chocolate at once; that 1/2 a serving would be more appropriate. In this context we’re speaking of the common 70% cocoa chocolate bars. A serving of one of these usually runs about 200-240 calories, maybe 15 to 18 grams of fat and between 15 and 20 grams of carbs. She also suggested eating most of my fats of the day in the earlier meals, rather than loading on fats at the end. She was of the opinion that eating to meet a calorie goal shouldn’t be pushed. Eating a balanced meal with a few less calories isn’t so bad an idea.

I haven’t been able to implement all these suggestions completely, but when I have, it’s lowered my blood sugars a good 10 points, both at night and in the morning.

When I left the hospital, I was told that if I could even lose 5% of my weight, I’d be much better off. Let’s just say I’ve had my first weighing at home that’s at the 5% mark. I’ll probably weigh higher at times for the next couple weeks but here’s hoping the trend continues downward.

It’s the first day this year that you can put plants out for at least a week and there is no forecast of freezing. So I put out my boonie peppers and will let them live in sunlight for a while. They have no leaves and appear dreadfully dry in parts, but the root trunks of these bushes are a bright green and the stems have what look like little buds on them. I’m crossing my fingers. I need to fertilize them, I think, until I see leaves perhaps, but after that I have to stop feeding them for 6 weeks in order to get flowers and fruit. We’ll see. This is the first season I have fully grown plants at the start.

Bare of leaves, but stems are green.

Some quiet conversations at work dredged up a coworker who is a type 1 diabetic. He was recommending a sweetener called agave nectar. I’ve seen this in honey-like bottles at Alons in Dunwoody. I’m told it has a lower glycemic index than most sweeteners and he uses it to cook with. I’d be curious about recipes with agave.

After what seemed like way too long, we purchased bikes. I now have a bike for every member of the family. With my foot issues, I need a way to do aerobics without putting too much weight on my feet, and biking seemed reasonable. Just, most of my life I was biking with single speeds and these have gears and all. Any general advice for the care and feeding of bicycles from readers would be appreciated. I’d like to have a small toolkit just for the bikes, because the brakes ended up a little messed up when I got them off the bike rack. (My cars are too small to carry bicycles inside. I had to buy the bike rack first.)

Otherwise, my foot problems have flared up again as I prepare to go to the alumni bash. Hopefully it will turn out well, even on one and a half feet. Wish me luck!

You know, the Japanese do not eat sushi or tempura routinely. Those dishes are reserved for special occasions.
Japanese guest, at my brother-in-law’s Thanksgiving party.

The Chamorros have a few dishes that are signatures, and as my family encountered them a number of times during the Thanksgiving holidays, I thought it appropriate to introduce these dishes in context. In almost all cases where we were served food, the centerpiece of the meal, the first thing on the table was a finadene sauce. I’ve spoken of finadene before. It’s a sauce based on soy sauce, lemon juice (or vinegar), scallions, and boonie peppers. Finadene is a ubiquitous flavoring component in the Marianas, found even in the local Kentucky Fried Chickens. In the absence of boonies, my wife has had good luck with Thai (bird) peppers. But Thais can be 50,000-100,000 Scoville units in heat, while Professor Marutani of the University of Guam has shown me quotes that place the heat of the boonies in roughly the same range as jalapeno peppers, or about 4000 Scoville units. To note, my wife usually freezes her Thai peppers first.

Home made Finadene sauce.

Kelaguen is a Micronesean version of ceviche. However, instead of being applied largely to fish, the most common forms of kelaguen are chicken kelaguen (recipes here and here) and beef kelaguen(recipes here and here). This is not a staple, but a side dish and used for special occasions.

Chicken kelaguen

Red rice is a staple Chamorro dish, and the rice is colored with the red pigment of the achiote bean. The blog Scent of Green Bananas has an excellent article on Chamorro red rice. The bean imparts a subtly different flavor to the rice, which I can only describe as “duskier” or “darker”. This kind of red rice is not the same as Japanese red rice, which is sweeter and more a dessert. Achiote (or achote) can usually be purchased at places with a strong Hispanic influence, such as Atlanta’s international markets.

Chamorro red rice.

A Micronesian cultural resource I’ve recently encountered is the Guampedia. They have placed online dozens of recipes. Among other things, more exotic forms of kelaguen (venison, yellowfin) are presented among the recipes.

As Filipinos came to the island of Guam, they brought along some of their foods. Lumpia are common on Guam now, and when I was there, pancit could be found in almost any village-wide fiesta, and most of the combination gas station-store-restaurants that pepper the island. There are many different kinds of pancit. To give you a feel for the various recipes, we’ll list six (here, here, here, here, here, and here). Of these, the version by Chaos in the Kitchen more closely seems to resemble what my family can cook locally.

The noodle I’m more used to is a larger yellow noodle, but my sister-in-law has been getting good results with rice stick noodles, which we found at Assi Supermercado (as my wife says, “look for the shrimp”).


This results in a much lighter product, as below.

home made pancit

Home made pancit.

If there is anything I’d love to see in a Filipino restaurant in Atlanta, it would be a good pancit. I miss it far more than lumpia.

This is a photo of my first red boonie pepper:


Though inside and losing their lowest leaves, the boonie peppers are still flowering and the peppers still growing and ripening.

I dropped by the Royal Oak Pub and they have told me the Dunwoody Group will be opening a new restaurant in Cumming within the next two weeks.

And my father writes, and claims that the first grill he had was not a 55 gallon drum. Instead, he says

My first “Texas Hibachi”  wasn’t a 55 gallon drum.  It was (is, since I still have it) made from an old fashioned cast iron wash pot.  The top is one scrap disk from a disk plow with a pipe welded to it for a smoke stack.  A thin oil drum would have rusted or burned out years ago.

Now my memory and his disagree. I recall a 55 gallon drum grill he used early on, and that it burned out. By the time we’re in Louisiana, my father does have the grill described above. But memories are tricky things, especially those of young children. That might have been a neighbor’s grill I remember from my early days, not my father’s.

My boonie peppers are inside these days, the weather became too cold to leave them outside. They showed a lot of sensitivity to temperatures below 40 degrees F ( 4.4 C) and were wilting. When the weather warmed up to 50 degrees F the leaves began to recover. We only needed to see one day of that to bring the plants inside. I didn’t need my boonies to die in the freeze.

I’ll note the peppers look different from pepper pilot seeds as compared to the seeds from floralys (see my original article on boonies here). Pepper pilot peppers are a dark green, while the floralys peppers have the light yellow shade of banana peppers. Eventually they’re all supposed to turn red in the end, but it is interesting, noting the color variation between two different vendors.

pepper pilot derived peppers

pepper pilot derived peppers

peppers grown from floralys seeds

peppers grown from floralys seeds


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