Backyard Adventureland: Part III – Enter Rongo

Now that Pele is doing her duty spewing magma around my yard, I thought it was time to get another character from the Enchanted Tiki Room started. For the second round I chose Rongo, the “god of agriculture.” Why, pray tell? Well, because our vegetable garden isn’t fruiting enough. And when it does the squirrels steal it anyway. So I was thinking “god of agriculture…maybe make some more growth and act as scarecrow.”

So after two nights of painting, and a day of getting a spine installed (lawn stake, wood glue), I cleaned up his lines and painted his backside brown so as to add a first layer of seal. Three or four coats of polyurethane and he’s going to look GREAT with the vegetables in the garden!


Who do I think I am?

Did you ever watch that TLC series “Who do you think you are?” where they take a celeb and the fuck out of them and find out that they were related to xyz famous historical figure? It caused us to get an membership a few years back and I found out a lot about my family and heritage. I think.

For father’s day my wife and daughter gave me an Ancestry DNA kit, which is either going to validate my results or point us in a different direction altogether. I thought it might be fun, before spitting in the tube and whatnot (if I spat in the tube right now I’d come up 25% avocado, 50% coffee, and GMO chicken) to take a guess at what I think the results will be in 6-8 weeks.

YES, this isn’t a post about baking. YES I’ve continued to bake. NO I haven’t written about it because frankly we’ve been doing yard work and playing in the inflatable pool and such. We even started going to an Episcopal Church. Perhaps we’re trying to live a little more of an Unplugged life.

I think we’re going to find the following trends in my bloodline:

  • England/British Isles I’m guessing 55-75%
  • Ireland 5-25%
  • Western Europe (German) 10%
  • Southern European 0-5%
  • Native American 0-5%

If my work is at all correct, my people came to the Americas from Scotland 250 years ago, with some late mix-ins from Prussia. There is rumor of native american blood in my family, but no one seems able to prove it, and when we were traveling through the Mediterranean I felt like I looked like I fit in WAY too well, but I have not familial records to prove it. I wouldn’t be surprised to find some Iberian/Italian/Greek DNA in the mix somewhere, but if I’m judging based on complexion that could also be Native American giving me an olive-y tone, right? Who knows. This is so fascinating. At any rate, when I get my results I will share here and see just how far off base I am and how little I really know about my family history. 😀

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Yiaourtopita (Greek Yogurt Cake)


Continuing my why wasn’t I born Greek baking saga was pretty easy. Baklava was a huge success, family and coworkers were duly impressed. It was delicious. While my mother-in-law was in town we had planned to grill, but that was canceled by a torrential downpour. One thing that didn’t get cancelled was my Greek Yogurt Cake, or apparently in greek, Yiaourtopita.

This cake was interesting. The recipe I used from was fairly straightforward, but it called for self-rising flour and baking powder. I thought the two didn’t go together, but whatever. Per the recipe I started out by whipping egg whites into a meringue, then I folded in the dry ingredients, set it in a cake tin, and popped it in the oven.

When I was done it popped right out of the tin, and cooled off. It was dense, like a pound cake (another english-name for this cake is Greek yogurt pound cake apparently) and was a well balanced sweet but not too sweet. The lemon and orange zest gave it a nice fresh scent.


Now, if you’re less interested in the cake than in the continuing saga of my Greek obsession, you’d be amused to know that we’re redoing the front yard. While shopping for flowers for our new flower bed, I found a 5′ tall or bigger statue of Atlas holding up the sky. The sky was a planter box. I was willing to drop the $$$ to buy this thing, but mommyPrimate (who is wise and responsible) managed to distract me away from it with her fine understanding of distraction.

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Scones


Baking in the morning is generally not something I do, because who the hell can do anything precisely before about 6 cups of coffee? Well, my mother in law was in town last weekend and she’s a delightful little lady who apparently sees my instagram posts and wanted baked goods.


About the same time, mommyPrimate had just started a new job, and she had a few things to get done on Saturday. Funny enough, the only time anyone can focus meaningfully on anything is when babyPrimate is napping, so mommyPrimate needed the morning to work. As luck would have it, she had a plan for breakie already that was basically a frittata and scones, so I said, “Don’t you worry mommyPrimate, I will handle this!” Then I guzzled my coffee and got to baking.


So scones are actually damn simple. I quickly put the dough together, formed it into a circle, brushed the top with egg, and popped it in the oven.

When this came out of the oven I felt like I’m basically a fucking magician. They were a little lighter than scones I’ve had in the past, not too sweet…delightful.

Scones are a go!



This weekend, Mrs. Primate, babyPrimate and I loaded into the car (on Thursday, actually) and drove 3.5 hours or so over to my father-in-law’s place in Houston for the Easter holiday. I love going to visit he and his wife. They’ve got interesting opinions, are fun to talk to, and they live in a really cool (and heavily Korean) neighborhood.

grandpaPrimate and yiayiaPrimate were eager for some time alone with babyPrimate it seems, because at nap time for a first two days we were there they kicked us out of the house with a “don’t you worry about the baby we’ve got it from here, go out and enjoy yourselves.” So we did.


Our first big adventure was IKEA (read: meatballs) where we got some stuff we’ve been eyeing in the catalog for the kitchen and some containers for our growing flour collection. I also picked up a new Lingonberry jam, and a Cloudberry jam because I thought “it’d be fun to put a Scandinavian twist on macarons!” That’s next week’s baking project, I think.

Anyhow, after wandering through IKEA where I took like 8,000 steps according to my Fitbit, we drove over to Super H Mart…a Korean mega-grocer. IT WAS TOTES LEGIT, BITCHES.


So when you walk in the first thing you might notice is the LOUD K-Pop blasting from the speakers, and the fact that there is a cosmetics booth at the door. Every big store in Korea has cosmetics up front, I’d say. The produce section was beautiful, and damn that bok-choy looked good. All the labels were in Korean with smaller print for English descriptions on some items. Definitely helpful to know how to read Korean and what they call things.


Anyway we just picked up a couple basics. You know, sentimental favorites from a bygone era.


Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Basic White Bread


Basic white bread is supremely useful. I feel particularly proud of this loaf as it was a) aesthetically pleasing, and b) delicious for sandwiches this morning.

I feel like I have this basic loaf down pretty well. It’s easy to make without the use of a mixer or any other special equipment (other than a baking scale), and the extra bit of effort that goes into kneading it by hand sure makes for a fluffy loaf.

This proves that anyone can learn to bake their own bread, and that flour isn’t actually evil.

Tis the season to lie to yourself.

It’s January, and every January a large portion of the American populace says “this is the year I will get in shape.”


Well, I’ve gotten in shape before, recently gotten out of shape, and a few months ago I started getting back into shape. I run a few nights a week, though I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off for the holidays. I plan on adding lifting back into the equation for the first time in a couple of years here in the next few days.

A lot of people fail, though. They start with the best of intentions and end up giving up. They haven’t learned the secret of fitness yet. Lie to yourself.


Talk to someone who runs long road races, like half-marathons and marathons. They’ll be all like, omg I love running! Running is the best thing in the world! You don’t need to take those anti-depressants anymore, just start running! Running will make all of your troubles go away! Bullshit.

Running hurts, being out of breath sucks, and there’s nothing intrinsically fun about it. Same with pretty much everything.

  1. Running: Not fun.
  2. Lifting: OK, but makes me puke sometimes.
  3. Yoga: Also OK, also makes me puke sometimes.
  4. Cross-training: Barf-city
  5. Cycling: Hurts the taint.
  6. Rollerblading: It’s not the 90’s anymore, but it hurt then.

The reason people don’t quit these endeavors is because they’re good enough at lying to themselves to make it believable.

It helps if you can lie to yourself and pretend greek yogurt with nuts and honey is just as delicious as a full English breakfast, or that spaghetti squash really is close enough to “pasta” to count (actually,spaghetti squash works in my book.)

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: What a crock of Boule.

I’d say the time when I ate the healthiest was when mommyPrimate and I lived in Korea. You see in Korea you’d often be asked “do you like bread, or rice?” because the good lord above knows that no one could possibly ever like both.

At any rate, the bread available in stores was largely crap, and mommyPrimate became quite the baker making our weekly bread in a tiny little convection oven we bought on GMarket for like $30.


Anyhow, as we approached the new year and became obsessed with The Great British Baking Show (because who isn’t obsessed with it?) I had the thought that maybe if we were going to indulge in the crusty carb-y goodness of breads we should bake them ourselves.


So this morning I manned up and fired up the stand mixer, let my dough proof, misshaped a rough ball, and then called mommyPrimate over to fix it into a nice dough ball, preheated the oven and all that, and slid my first loaf (oh god. “slid my first loaf” heh!) into the oven, and let it go.

This is what came out of the oven, and I don’t think it’s too shabby for my first attempt at bread. Perhaps if I had involved mommyPrimate a little more (and I should have, honestly I’ve never been the best at using my resources effectively) it would have been a bit prettier.

At any rate, the house smells like fresh bread, and my daughter is fighting her afternoon nap with the determination of a Samurai, so I’ll leave you wondering if it turned out edible or not. (It’s still got to cool, calm the heck down.)