Photos of readers

Today’s “reader’s photos” are of Darrell Ernst, and the captions are his (and indented). I importune you once again to send one or two photos and a bit of text explaining them.

I do hope this crisis passes sooner rather than later but compared to how many other folks are faring we are doing fine. Boredom is a problem but we fight it as best we can. We’ve managed to continue to exercise some though we’ve had to get creative with that. We also spend much more time than usual watching TV, but at least we are doing it as a family! Mostly we’ve been binge-watching The Great British Baking Show. Which leads to the first picture.

To ward off boredom and create some cheer, we’ve been doing a lot of cooking. For a good while prior to this crisis the whole family had been on diets of various sorts and there wasn’t much real cooking happening. Everybody had been fending for themselves because we were all eating different specific diets. But since the “lock down” we’ve all fallen off our wagons. We’ve been baking all kinds of stuff. I’ve done a bit, but most of the baking has been done by my wife and daughter. Breads, cakes, cookies. All from scratch. Last week they made a truly outstanding cake that involved liberal use of limoncello. A beautiful light sponge with a lemon creme patissiere (best I’ve ever had) accompanied with a honey & lavender cream in which the honey and lavender were perfectly balanced and subtle. While they’ve been doing most of the baking I’ve been doing pretty much all of the other cooking. Some old favorites, and some new things too. The first picture is me in the kitchen working on some rice and some black beans. Turned out to be the best black beans I’ve made yet.

Switching categories to the general “Reader’s Pics” category, this second picture is of me having fun doing one of my favorite things. Funnily enough, though I’ve done a lot of it, I don’t have many motorcycle pictures, at least not ones with me in them, and this is one of the few I could find. This picture is from several years ago from a trip I went on with a few friends camping in the mountains and riding for a week. The picture was taken by a photographer who sits all day on a notorious stretch of mountain road and takes pictures of everything that goes by. I never noticed them. We used to do trips like this quite often but unfortunately they’ve tailed off in recent years. If money were not an issue I’d have at least 10 motorcycles and I’d be taking trips like this one and spending a weekend at the race track every month.

JAC: I asked Darrell what the bike was, as I knew some people would want to know, and he said it was a 2005 Yamaha YZF R1 (1 liter displacement). Another friend told me that this bike was fast and scary!

54 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    What sort of beer is that, Darrell?

    • darrelle
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I don’t remember for sure. Either Sam Adams Winter Lager or Dead Guy Ale. Both were / are in the fridge and they are similar in color.

      • GBJames
        Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Cool. Pass me one of the Dead Guys.

        • darrelle
          Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          I’d love to.

          • GBJames
            Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            Much obliged. 😉

    • Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I told you people would ask!

      • darrelle
        Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        🙂

  2. merilee
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Excellent chopping/ mise en place Darrell! I made some excellent black beans recently, ones which I will never be able to reproduce, as they involved some cryptic leftover “seafood stock” I had in the freezer, and a very smoky ham hock. I find fhat some of my best dishes evolve like that.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes they do! And you, at least I, can never seem to replicate them.

      The only really different things I did for this batch was I used applewood smoked bacon instead of sausage (usually andouille) and, the big difference, I used Cognac. Never thought to try that before and it worked great. Better than I ever expected.

      • merilee
        Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Love applewood smoked bacon. And Cognac? Don’t think I have any around, Do you have an Instant Pot? It’s great for doing beans in an hour instead of four.

        • darrelle
          Posted April 29, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

          We’ve talked about getting one but have never actually done it. I guess I’m gonna have to ‘fess up about the beans. For the first time ever (no, really!) I used canned beans this time. I didn’t have any dried beans in the pantry. Surprisingly, they were still very good. Enough Cognac and bacon will fix just about anything.

          • merilee
            Posted April 29, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

            🙀🙀 canned beans! You’re fo4given. I had a ton of dried black beans at home and InstaPotted enough for an army – way too much for one recipe of anything. I thus have 2 or 3 quart yogurt containers full in da freezer for next time. I had kind of poohpoohed Insta Pots until I read Melissa Clark’s comments in the NYT. She had an assignment to check them out and got hooked. She’s written a great little cookbook of real recipes to accompany the pot. I also have a great book of INdian recipes for the It’s great for making stocks as well. It turns itself off. Plus you can sauté stuff in it before applying the pressure. PS I am not a paid lobbyist for InstaPot

  3. Debra Coplan
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like you have your own bakery at your house. That is what I miss as I am not in baking mode right now, but love desserts.
    I could use some of that sponge cake over here…It sounds wonderful.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      There is nothing that can improve the mood in a house quite like the smell of baking.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a bike to die on. I went through a period of bike riding, fortunately when I lived in a smaller city, Waco, Tx. However, when we moved to Dallas I sold it and never went back. The problem always with a motorcycle is – you can be dead right.

    • Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, me too, unfortunately. Loved it my (indestructible) 20s.

      Now? Not so much. Especially with all my various orthopedic issues. Putting a bike down (even a push-bike, which I ride nearly every summer day) is just … unthinkable.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      You’re not wrong. It is certainly easier to die on a bike than in a car. Seems like cars, minivans and trucks try to kill me pretty much every time I ride on the streets.

      • Posted April 29, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Before quarantine I commuted on a bike and it felt like ‘they’ were always trying to kill me too. But I do think motorcycles have it much worse since they are in the mix and going much faster.

    • Mark
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      I rode dirt bikes through my teenage years. Later as an adult I bought a Yamaha Maxim X – a 700cc, 4-cylinder, 5-valve, liquid cooled shaft drive motorcycle. It was a beast!

      I also live in the DFW area, and where I rode the traffic became so bad that it was too dangerous to ride anymore, so I sold it.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Oh yes, I don’t live there any longer, left the area for the last time in 1995 but it was nuts. Waco was like living in the country compared to that DFW. Sell the motorcycle and get a tank.

  5. JezGrove
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Black beans and rice came up here a few weeks ago, and I mentioned that my own efforts could never match those of my wife’s aunt Hilda. (She had lived in Cuba as a young woman, which is probably where she acquired her skill. She made it back to Spain before that became impossible – her brother Luis was not so lucky and was trapped for decades.) Sadly, Hilda has since died – she was transferred from her nursing home to hospital with a kidney infection but then died of pneumonia before Spain managed to get the coronavirus under control. RIP.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      That’s terrible JezGrove. I’m sorry to hear that.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Bike looks like it could keep pace with the famed Vincent Black Shadow that got a shout-out in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. 🙂

    • darrelle
      Posted April 29, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Classics, both of them.

  7. Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Cool Darryl, nice photos. Oh, I used to love my motorbikes: Triumph 750 Bonneville, Yamaha 250 Enduro. My wife would veto any bike now (aside from my push-bikes).

    It’s very clear you do lift a lot! 🙂

    • darrelle
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Jblilie.

      I lucked out. Back in 2002 after many years of not having a bike I was sitting on a new model Yamaha Warrior in a packed showroom in Daytona Beach during Bikeweek. I’d never before had any interest in a cruiser, but this one was speaking to me. From some distance away across a crowd of people my wife caught my eye and carefully mouthed, so I could read her lips, “You should get that bike.”

  8. walkingmap
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Frantoia EVOO excellent choice.

  9. Mark R.
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    My wife loves to bake bread, and was going to use this lockdown time to do some baking…problem around here, there hasn’t been any yeast in the stores since this all started. Wednesdays are grocery store days, I’ll try again tomorrow. For whatever reason, we keep forgetting to check Amazon. I’ll get it from them if the stores are out again.
    We’ve fallen off our diet wagon as well. Gotta enjoy life as best you can right now, and eating and drinking what you want adds some needed pleasure.
    Cool bike photo…I had a Honda Trail 70 as a kid, more of a “mini-bike”, but it sure was fun bringing it on the family camping trips.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      We just received an order of yeast from Amazon yesterday as a matter of fact. We too had trouble finding it at the local grocery store. We managed to scare up 3 small packets.

      I learned to ride on a Honda Trail 50! I was about 7 and my much older cousins said, “here kid, have fun.” I did, trying like hell to keep up with them and my older brother who were all riding 175s.

      • Mark R.
        Posted April 28, 2020 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

        Yeast! Who knew? Thanks for the Amazon tip.

        Didn’t know Honda had a Trail 50. Mine’s wee brother. Cool. The T-70 on pavement could hit 50mph with a smallish human riding full throttle. Not actually safe for young dardevils, but never I went sideways. And your Trail 50 inspired you onwards unlike my ride.

        • Mark
          Posted April 29, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

          Honda made the Mini-Trail 50. When I was a kid I had a Trail 70 (CT70), and my younger siblings each ha a Mini-Trail 50. The CT70 was strange i the that gas tank was under the seat.

  10. Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    That limoncello cake sounds fantastic! And complicated. Honey and lavender cream! Mmmm-mmmm-mmmm….

    • Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      That bike is pretty cool too!!

    • darrelle
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      It didn’t seem to be too complicated, but then, I just watched.

      The creme patissiere was probably the most complicated, at least for novices like us. I did have some input on it. I suggested altering the recipe a bit because it had you adding raw flour with several other ingredients, including liquids, all at once. I suggested making a light roux with the flour first, which entailed adding more butter to the recipe as well, and then adding the liquids. Worked great. I mean, more butter’s not ever really bad is it?

      • Posted April 28, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        Butter makes everything better So does bacon!

        • merilee
          Posted April 28, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

          +2

  11. Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Sounds as though quarantine is treating you well! My wife has been tweaking a chocolate chip cookie recipe and I am now ruined for any other chocolate chip cookies. It is a finicky process, however. Enjoy your cake and beer!

    • darrelle
      Posted April 29, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Thank you musical beef. It’s good to see you around. I hope all is well.

      Fancier cookies are all well and good, but it is hard to beat a good chocolate chip cookie.

  12. rickflick
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I someone asks me if I “ride”, I think of my 10 speed gathering dust in the basement.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 29, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Now I’ve got a “Fat Bottomed Girls” (Queen) ear worm.

      Get on your bikes and ride!!

      (Oh shit, definitely not kosher these days.)

      • GBJames
        Posted April 29, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        That comment just inserted Spinal Tap’s Big Bottom into my brain. Thanks, I guess.

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Ive been obviously eating at home, so eating better in that I don’t expose my stomach to bad things that hurt it. My gut is mostly much happier now.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 29, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Yeah, there are a few positive things about being in “lock down.” But all in all I’m looking forward to the end!

  14. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Nice bike.
    I have never tried a big modern Yamaha although did have slight incident on an old Yammy 350 two stroke.
    That’s when I found out rear brakes do not work well to actually slow a bike down.
    A clevis pin fell out of the bit that held the brake cable to the the drum brake activating lever.
    After a few Italian bikes I stuck with Suzuki.
    I have GSXR 1000 2007 sitting, mostly in bits, but excellent condition, in the garage.

    I haven’t ridden for a while and I developed tinnitus from bikes and work which is now sensitive to the wind noise in the helmet.

    When I did last ride it, I thought I would try a hard acceleration, which is rarely legally possible.

    And after my consciousness caught back up I was half a mile down the road and realized that I had no idea what I had passed in that mighty blur of a rush.

    Anything could have happened and I realized that my old bod and brain may not be up to the speed of these things.
    Although you do acclimatize if you do it enough, sort of, the speed of them especially when you get into the powerband is phenomenal.

    Thanks for the pictures.

    Food is a chore for me though.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 29, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      I’m partial to Yamaha (I’ve got 2 in the garage at the moment, the other a 2002 Warrior), but I did own a Suzuki Hayabusa for many years and loved it. Should have never gotten rid of it. I decided to sell it after we started really hurting from the economic crash of 2008. At the time I had 3 bikes and, sadly, decided the responsible thing to do would be to sell a couple of them. Damn near cried watching the guy ride away on it.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted April 29, 2020 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        I would have loved to try a Busa just for that extra grunt.

  15. Paul Matthews
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    So many of the photos of readers are a bit of a tease: they’re wearing a mask or their face is obscured in some other way, the photo is from fifty years ago, it’s an artist’s simplified impression of them, etc. So we end up not really knowing what they look like now. It’s nice to have an absolutely clear view of a regular reader/commenter!

    By the way, I don’t have time to read all comments, but there are some regular commenters whose contributions are invariably thoughtful and insightful and that I try not to miss. Darrelle is one, as is GBJames, who was featured a couple of days ago.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 29, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Thank you Paul.

    • GBJames
      Posted April 29, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      You do realize, Paul, that this could be an entirely fake image of Darrelle! We’re only taking his word for that beer being Dead Guy Ale! This could just be an extension of the UFO coverup we discussed yesterday!

      • Posted April 29, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        LOL. Really. This is not common for me. 🙂

  16. Cate Plys
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Oooh, could we get any more info on those black beans? I’ve got the beans, applewood bacon and cognac—any other tips?

    • darrelle
      Posted April 29, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      First I have to confess, for this last batch I cheated and used canned beans because I didn’t have any dried beans. I’ve never done that before, but surprisingly they really were some of the best I’ve made.

      First I cut about 4 rashers of the bacon crosswise into about 1/4″ (.5 cm) wide pieces and then rendered them slowly in a large pan, stirring occasionally, until the bacon was crisp. I then removed all of the bacon and set it aside, while leaving all the rendered fat in the pan.

      Next I added finely diced onion, carrot, celery and 2 large bay leaves to the pan, seasoned with salt & fresh ground pepper, and gently cooked them until they’d softened a bit. (1 large onion, 2 each medium carrots and celery)

      Next I added the beans, 2 cans, well drained and quickly rinsed. Usually I use dried beans and pre-cook them. After the beans went in I added chicken stock then more salt and fresh ground pepper. I can’t really say how much stock with any accuracy but it was less than a quart and more than half a quart. The amount is not critical at all, it’s just a matter of preference regarding how soupy you like your beans. I like a good bit of liquid with mine.

      Next into the pan was the Cognac. Again, I’m not sure how to quantify the amount accurately. It was something like a good 2 count pour. If I had poured it into a whisky glass it probably would have been about 2 fingers.

      I let all that simmer gently for 30-40 minutes. Before serving I added the bacon back into the pan, then spent a few minutes tasting and re-seasoning.

      Usually I use dried beans. I rinse them, cover them in water, bring to a simmer for a few minutes, change the water and then let sit overnight in the fridge. Next I drain and rinse the beans. Once back in the pot I add very rough cut, like when making a stock, onions, carrot and celery. Also bay leaves, a smoked ham hock or similar and salt and pepper. Sometimes I’ll add fresh herbs tied up in a bundle. I cover the whole lot in chicken stock and simmer until the beans are done, anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. When done I remove the ham hock, veggies and herbs. At this point I use these pre-cooked beans pretty much as I described above for the canned beans. Often I use the stock that I cooked the beans in too. Seasonings can vary wildly. Anything from very simple salt and pepper to Thai curry (works really well with black beans).

      • Posted April 29, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        I’m writin’ this down …


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