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January 16, 2018

Iced in, Austin 1-16-208

The whole city is pretty much shut down at the moment. It was 25F when we woke up and it started to sleet, Schools are closed and people are urged to stay off the roads.

icicles austin 2018 78746

We have actual icicles on our house here in Westlake.

ice and sleet austin texas westlake 78746 2018  

sleet and ice austin west lake hills tx 

Did I ever show you the finished green deck space? Well, it's too cold and frozen to use today. Remind me to show you at a later date if you can't stop by for a glass of wine when the weather warms up. You can see the layer of sleet and ice on the decking. Ferns up there are dead from the freeze we had earlier this year while we were in VT.

Hooter doesn't seem to care. He just sits there peering out of his Owl Box, watching the yard like it was any other day.  

Hooter in his Owlbox not caring about the sleet

XR Sauce, Roasted Chiltepin Pepper Sauce

I have just learned that our wild pepper plants are not Pequin, but are Chiltepin Peppers that are often mistaken for Pequin, those being more elongated and slightly larger.

We have multiple bushes that grow and spread wild. More peppers than we can harvest. It's a time consuming process. Kat has devoted chunks of time to gathering them from the bushes.

chiltepin not pequin peppers austin 78746 tx 

After the harvest, they get rinsed and cleaned from any debris. Then they typically set out to dry of excess moisture before I process and prep for aging. We had all contributed and there was a rather large amount of peppers. We spread them out on a sheet pan to dry, and placed that sheet pan into the oven to free up counter space. Of course, I forgot it was in there the next day, and went to preheat the oven. #1 son was the first to notice, "whatever you're cooking sure is spicy!" Soon we were all coughing and noticing the discomfort of the chili smoke now billowing from the oven. My face and nostrils burned all night after that exposure.

We managed to save most of them. Some were burnt beyond salvage but most were not completely burnt. From this accident, XR sauce was born. R denotes ROASTED.

chiltepin pepper sauce pequin austin texas 

We noticed this batch features a beautiful garnet color when settled. Slightly darker than the usual X Sauce we make.  

xr sauce austin modhouse  

roasted pepper sauce xr 

It's pretty good. We might even roast some on purpose, or maybe even roast them in the smoker, XRS sauce? 

xr sauce austin texas west lake hills tx spicy 

That lovely ruby color did return after the sauce settled.  

January 10, 2018

Vermont Winter, shoveling and sledding

hardwick rochester house vermont 

The flight from BWI to Manchester NH is less than an hour. We drove from NH to VT. We went to check our Vermont home in the winter. It was -21F the morning after we arrived (twenty one degrees below zero!). The kids stayed in and played Nintendo Switch. The house was very warm and cozy. We were thankful to be so comfortable. 

When it warmed up to positive temps... 

fisher covered bridge wolcott vt jan 2018 snow

Fisher Covered Bridge

fisher covered bridge Wolcott Vermont winter snow 

We went to Marshall Hill in Stowe for sledding. 

marshall hill stowe vermont sled run 


stowe vermont winter jan 2018

The building at the bottom of the hill is an Elementary school. The children were out playing in the snow for recess when we arrived. You wouldn't see that in Austin. School would've been canceled and they have indoor recess if it were cold out. It was like 5 degrees out and they still have recess in VT.  

sledding marshall hill stowe vt


The boys were so inspired, they created a sled run in the back yard of our home in Hardwick. 

sled run making machines hardwick vt 


back yard sled run hardwick vt 

It was so great to see them cooperating, and laughing together. Their usual language of "YOU SUCK!, Your FACE!, You smell, STOP IT!!" seemed so distant. This moment here made the whole winter trip worth while.  

sled dude hardwick vt 

asian snow bunny of hardwick vermont

Kat spent over two hours shoveling the driveway.. She claims to not like cold weather. Yet she has an undeniable smile all the while.

vermont 15 in winter jan 2018 at night 

The road conditions were not the best. Especially at night. We mostly stayed in Hardwick after the sun went down.  

hardwick rochester house vermont 

downtown hardwick suspended bridge in the snow jan 2018 winter 

We did find time to stop at a few breweries and meet up with a friend for a beer.

burlington beer co vermont brewery


hill farmstead vermong jan 2018 mosaic citra ipa 

Hill Farmstead is just up the road from us. Their Citra IPA is on the left, and Mosaic on the right.  

prohibition pig double bantam ipa twins 

Prohibition Pig 

prohibition pig double ipa bantam  

Red Barn Brewing Danville Vermont VT jan 2018 

Red Barn Brewing is near our place in Danville 

red barn brewing danville vt near joe's pond keiser pond 

vermont technology at red barn brewing  

January 09, 2018

Fell's Point, Hampden and Frederick, a brief Maryland visit.

fell's point christmas tree snow winter 2017/18

We made a day trip up to Baltimore to visit a few landmarks. Fell's Point was a winter wonderland, The boys had so much fun clobbering each other with snowballs.  

fell's point snowball fight pier fells pt 

snow ball fell's point baltimore maryland harbor 

fell's oint winter snowball fight baltimore md 21231  

paul schuster metal sculpural handrail 3341 falls road baltimore md hampden

The sculptural handrail at the home we renovated in Hampden still stands. It's out of service since they replaced the stairs with some that were at a more reasonable angle. I'm always glad that nobody has removed the metal rods that I twisted to serve as a handrail the short time we lived there. Mostly, they are for looking at, no longer "functional art". Well, I did use them one more time to get up those crazy steep stairs for this pic.

paul schuster artist baltimore hampden handrail metal falls road 

3341 falls road baltimore md hampden handrail 

The pic above is from 2000, when it was new. Our 1974 Volvo 164E can be seen at the street level.  


Butcher's Hill 1999, and 2017, she's still my baby.  


and we made time to meet up with friends in Baltimore and Frederick.

baltimore mobtown bowman 

January 08, 2018

Quick trip to DC, to water the plants

Po Po (Chinese Grandma) asked if we would have a chance to water her plants over the winter break. We obliged and the five of us went to DC area to water her plants. We were also tasked with starting the car (I also bought a battery tender to keep it charged) and we started her gas range. Mission accomplished, we did some sightseeing while we were there.

dc metro gallery place

We took the Metro.  

gallery place dc metro stop 

Enjoyed lunch at Rasika, at the chef's table.  

chef's table rasika dc indian   

smihsonian american portraig gallery dc 

Spent the day at the Smithsonian American Art/Portrait Gallery. 

smithsonian dc art american 

Notice #2 son doesn't have a jacket. He did lose his brand new jacket in the art museum. We were lucky to find it. It's a constant struggle replacing his water bottles, lunch boxes, back packs, jackets, hats and gloves.

smithsonian art dc 

smithsonian american art dc 

Kat is happy that we found the jacket. It's a big building and it wasn't until we were leaving that she noticed it was missing.  

churchkey dc craft beer  

Kat and I also made time to meet up with friends at Churchkey. If you are a craft beer fan that has been bitten by the hazy and juicy NEIPA craze, those offerings from The Veil and Aslin are nothing short of amazing. Both are available at Churckey.

aslin and the veil dc area nova craft beer neipa 

If you're not familiar with this style of beer, you may find yourself asking "is that orange juice?'. It's beer, but it has a low bitterness yet featuring new varieties of hops and yeast strains that give off a floral and citrus qualities. Hazy juice bomb beer for sure. These beers have to be consumed fresh. Those hazy hop proteins start to clump after a few weeks and the flavor falls off. Get it while you can!