Aerogarden Redux

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wow, talk about blogfade. Eight months later, and I never reported back about the Aerogarden? How sad!

Ok, here we go. It rocked. Well, still rocks. I had a good four months or so of herbs. I finally let it die when I ran out of nutrients and got herbs planted outside in dirt. It was extremely bountiful, more than I actually used. Poor dill... I never figured out what to do with you. But the Aerogarden lived up to its press, and was basically no maintenance, and just kept growing.

Around May, I got it in my head to eat healthier, and switched out the herbs for the Mesclun Mix kit. Again, it's worked great. Had a big leafy bunch of it tonight. Good taste, no cleaning needed because it hasn't been outside. And lots of it. The first batch was a little light for two people in one harvest, but then I was out of town a week and it went crazy. Right now, I'm harvesting things and eating it just because it's getting too crazy. Love it. And unlike buying greens from the grocery store, if I can't eat it for a couple days, it doesn't wilt and grow bad.

In other news, since my last blog I've turned into a regular Apple fanboy. It's rather embarassing. I started with an iMac... got a MacBook Air because it was frustrating switching between OSX and Linux when I switched machines.... Then I updated my wireless network from an old Linksys a/b/g WAP to a Wireless Distribution System using two Airport Expresses and an Airport Extreme. And finally, I stood in line on release day for an iPhone 3g.

Yep, I've given up control of my mind to Steve Jobs. And it's a pretty nice place. Mac OS X is a decent Unix. I'm still doing my blog with Emacs, I have TeX installed, and my SBCL development environment. And, I can use fun toys like Illustrator and my Wacom tablet. I'm a traitor for using more closed-source software, but I'm happy. Oh well.

It's good to see the work Free Software still needs to do to catch up. I'm always amazed at how far Linux has come (having started when there were folks that thought X was too much of a resource hog) but Mac OS is still ahead in some areas. For instance, Spotlight is amazing. Fast, useful. On Linux, I always turned off Beagle because it was slow, had a terrible interface, and didn't index enough of my stuff. (Typical Mono app.) Evolution... well, I hated it, but I'm using iCal in conjunction with Gnus. Good UI goes a long way.

Aerogarden: Herbs year round?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I love credit card reward programs. Pay off your card every month, and it's as close to free money as your likely to find. That makes it easy to spend those reward points on stuff you wouldn't buy otherwise. It's like Christmas!

Since I didn't get one for Christmas, I used some of my points on an Aerogarden. I'm hoping it'll solve the age-old problem of having fresh herbs in the winter. I may live in St. Louis, but we still get enough winter to kill or make dormant most herbs. My mom's a gardener and runs some grow lamps for herbs, but even she has trouble keeping them alive and bountiful all winter. Might have something to do with the cats drinking their water....

Well, I'm not a gardener, and the Aerogarden is designed for people like me. It's a small, self-contained aeroponics garden. It comes with grow lights, built-in timer, circulating pump, and a starter set of seeds in nifty pods. It even has little greenhouse lids for the pods to use while germinating. In theory, I should have plants sprouting in a week and I should be able to harvest them in about five weeks. Talking to my mom, that's crazy fast: if this works out, I'll be really, really happy!

Out of the box, it looks very good. It was packed very solidly, with very simple unboxing instructions right on the top. The box was even closed with a tab that shows they expect folks to rebox their Aerogarden in the summer, and they made it easy to do. The docs on assembly and starting the garden were very clear. Assembly consisted of "press A into B until it clicks", and then plugging it in. I have it set up in a corner of my kitchen right now... I'll report back in a about a week, when I should see leafy shoots coming up.

The value of variety

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's a rare thing when I find out I'm part of a hot controversy in the food world. The New York Times had an article recently on the extinction of the entree.

"I think the entree has been in trouble for a long time," said the chef Tom Colicchio. "Eating an entree is too many bites of one thing, and it's boring."

More people seem to be ordering a bunch of appetizers instead of a single appetizer, to be able to try more tastes while eating the same amount of food. I've actually been doing the same thing for Thai takeout for some time. King and I has a lot of great Thai entrees, but I can resist getting some of the Thai ravioli, satays, and potstickers. Even getting a single order of Pad Thai is more than I can (or should eat) in a sitting.

Last night, I had a potluck and the pile of different food was fun in a much different way from my normal dinner parties. Usually, I'm a food control freak: I spec out the menu, select wines that would carefully coordinate with the food, hand-pick a selection of guests from different backgrounds. Last night, I just invited thirty folks I knew, told them all to bring some random food, and hoped it all worked out. It did!

We had Beef Bourguignon, thai-style peanut noodles, scalloped potatoes, butternut squash, wassail, an amazing but scary dip that seemed to go well with fruit, cheese, crackers, and anything else we put in there, baclava and pettifores, and more that I can list right now. It was a lot of fun and a big change from my normal pace.