I’m not that Casey Peel

10 years ago if you googled Casey Peel, you’d find me and a picture of a child named Casey getting a sticker peeled off of his hand. I didn’t have a really strong web presence, but I was working at IBM and journaling on my personal website. A few years later I started blogging and publishing IBM Tivoli Directory Server troubleshooting documents, so my presence on the web grew.

Then in 2005 a guy with my name was arrested in Brownwood, TX for manslaughter. Brownwood is only 2.5 hours away from Austin where I was living at the time. Nothing warms your heart like knowing that someone searching for you online might think you’re a killer. Rest assured, I’m not that Casey Peel.

About 5 years or so ago while I was living in Denver a photographer from Fort Collins, CO with my name started pushing his web presence. Fort Collins is only an hour north of Denver. Thankfully his photography is quite good so being mistaken for him wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But I’m a terrible photographer — I’m not that Casey Peel.1

Then last year a guy from Tennessee with my name started making a name for himself as an MMA fighter. Thankfully, Tennessee is a long ways from Seattle. His fighting name is “The Jackhammer”. I’m not that Casey Peel.

We all are competing for similar account names on various web sites. Every once in a while I get an email through gmail destined for the photographer. The photographer registered the short URL I wanted for Google+. The fascinating thing to me is that we’re probably all related. There aren’t that many Peels in the US compared to the number of Smiths or Jones.

The past week I’ve made a concerted effort to ensure that my personal web page, blog, and social media sites all tie together and the information on them reflects my unique characteristics. I’ve included my name on my web page and blog (which, oddly, wasn’t there before) and linked in my resume. I’ve made sure that Google and Bing have access to the right sitemap.xml files and my blog and web page are fully indexed with them. I want to make sure that someone looking for the uber computer nerd named Casey Peel in Seattle can find me. Yes, I’m that Casey Peel.

1 I did have the thought of trying to meet him next time I’m in Denver and seeing if he would take my photo. We could call it Casey Peel by Casey Peel.

Multigrain bread-machine bread

After several weeks of experimenting, I finally found the perfect recipe for multigrain bread in my bread machine. The original recipe had some challenges for me: it didn’t rise enough, we can’t handle the dried milk, and we prefer honey to sugar. I make this often enough now that I’ve pre-combined the seeds into individual packets for quicker assembly.

Multigrain bread-machine bread

  • 3/4c almond milk
  • 3/5c water
  • 1.5T butter
  • 1t salt
  • 1T honey, heaping
  • 1T molasses, heaping
  • 1.5c white flour (Red Mill all-purpose unbleached white)
  • 1.5c wheat flour (Red Mill 100% stone ground whole wheat)
  • 1.5T gluten (heaping measure)
  • 1.5t rapid rise yeast
  • 2T sunflower seeds
  • 1.5T sesame seeds
  • 1.5T flax seeds
  • 1.5T millet
  • 1.5T quinoa

Combine almond milk, water, and butter in measuring cup and warm 50s in microwave. Add rest of ingredients in the order shown. Use the rapid wheat cycle and start immediately (rapid rise yeast needs the warm liquid to best activate and a delayed start could cool the liquid too much).

Update 1: I’ve discovered that if you make this often, mixing a few batches of the seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, millet, quinoa) into small zip-lock bags makes throwing this together a lot easier.

Update 2:┬áThe original version of this recipe called for 3/4c liquid. I’ve found that using a full cup makes for a more reliable loaf.

Update 3: Further tweaked the recipe to make a 1.5lb loaf.

Multigrain bread, blueberry jam, and a cup of chai

This morning I enjoyed a cup of homemade chai tea while munching on some homemade multigrain bread slathered with homemade blueberry jam. My sabbatical is delicious.

Daniel and I go through a lot of bread and a lot of jam. Between toast and PB&J sandwiches1 (our favorite hiking lunch!) we eat about a loaf a week and go through jam pretty rapidly as well. Knowing how much I love blueberries, Daniel began making homemade blueberry freezer jam a few months ago and it is awesome. I throw some in my morning greek yogurt to boot.

Bread-wise we love the multi-grain Blues Bread from Dave’s Killer Bread. Bread really isn’t that hard to make, particularly if you have a bread machine, so for the past 6 weeks I’ve been experimenting with a multigrain bread recipe. Every few days poor Daniel has to suffer the smells of freshly baked bread wafting through the house. The original recipe got rave reviews and many people have had success with it, but not I. The first loaves were too dense. They rose, but not much. After many iterations I’ve almost mastered the recipe and within 2 hours we can go from raw ingredients to a warm loaf of bread. I continue to refine my recipe to incorporate more whole wheat flour, but so far so good.

That brings us to chai tea. I really enjoy the chai tea lattes from Starbucks, but it’s really hard to justify spending the money when you’re on an unpaid sabbatical. So I started buying liquid chai tea from the grocery store and just adding it to almond milk in the mornings. But chai tea isn’t (or shouldn’t) be that hard to make — it’s a mix of black tea and spices. So yesterday I started venturing into making my own chai tea. Yesterday’s recipe was not a success. Today’s was better and I’ll be iterating over it for a few days.

It’s comical to me that none of this stuff is hard to make — nor all that time consuming — and it’s taken a sabbatical for me to slow down enough to enjoy the process.

1 Well, at least I have PB&J sandwiches. Daniel eats sunbutter and jelly sandwiches from homemade sunbutter (which is just sunflower seeds beaten to smithereens in the food processor).

Blueberry freezer jam

I love blueberries. And living in the Pacific Northwest we have tons of locally grown delicious blueberries readily available. Several months ago Daniel worked some magic in the kitchen and came up with this tasty freezer jam recipe:

Blueberry freezer jam

  • 1 lb blueberries (~2.5c), these can be fresh or frozen
  • 2T red wine
  • 2T honey
  • 1T lemon juice

Combine all ingredients into a 2 quart sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. Use a potato masher (or a fork) to squish the blueberries as they warm (warning: this can get a bit squirty!). Continue to simmer and stir until you have the right consistency1. Remove from the heat and let cool, then put into jars and put the jars into the freezer. Pull them out into the fridge as you need them.

1 What’s the right consistency you ask? That’s a bit of a challenge as the jam will solidify further as it cools. When we think it’s done, we take a small spoon full and place in a small glass bowl in the fridge to cool it down and check on its consistency. You’re mostly looking for something you can spread on bread, mix into yogurt, etc.

One month into the Sabbatical

It’s been about a month since I started my sabbatical and I’ve almost reached the point where I don’t know what day of the week it is.

There’s been hiking, pottery (and more pottery), impromptu days out at Alki, art walks, game nights, book reading, bread making, farmer’s markets, converting DP’s codebase from CVS to git1, brunch with friends, Pride, and celebrating nation-wide same-sex marriage (or as we like to call it now: marriage). Daniel and I purchased tickets for our 2-week trip to DC in August and have an outline for where we’re headed to Europe in September with Jonobie.

Today at noon we’re heading to Critical NW which is billed as Burning Man in the Pacific Northwest. We’ll be there all week glamping and … well, we’re not exactly sure what else which is oddly the point!

1 Yes, I voluntarily converted something to git and updated our deploy scripts to use it. My new motto: git is less shit than CVS.