Archive for January, 2013

Saturday Morning

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

It’s Saturday Morning. My Infinitely Patient Spouse is exercising in another part of the house. Her current nutritional regimen precludes our usual breakfast together, so I have decided to make myself a fluffy omelet using found materials. Leftovers, if you will. The kitchen equivalent of folk art.

I start by cueing up a soundtrack of random selections from one of my playlists. Steve Jobs kicks things off with a medium-tempo tune by Bill Kirchen, the “King of Dieselbilly.”

Next I locate the skillet, and the lard. Yep, lard, hand-rendered by Casey Z, a fellow laborer in the telecommunications world, and somewhat of a Renaissance man. From the refrigerator, I also rescue the remnants of red and green bell peppers, some marginal whiteish mushrooms, three fresh eggs, and the last chicken thigh of a batch I baked last week. From the pantry comes a yellow onion, and a jar of Tico’s peppers, grilled jalapeños, side business of another co-worker.

Choppables, and two forms of chicken

I chop the choppables, add a small spoon of the lard to the hot skillet, and commence to saute. Once they are done, into a bowl they go. Doc Watson is flat-picking in the background.

Then I separate the eggs, whites in one bowl, yolks in another, and whip the whites using an old hand mixer. I fold the yolks into the fluffy whites, and dump the egg mixture into the skillet as Stevie Wonder croons a tune.

Yolks, whipped whites, and a mixer

While the eggs cook over low heat, I lay two pieces of multi-grain into the toaster oven, and set its timer for stun.

I’ve just noticed an elderly avocado on the counter that looks like fair game, so I half it, neatly de-seed it, and peel the halves. Then I slice the good parts into a pile on the chopping board, and squeeze some lemon onto it as Roy Orbison sings about a pretty woman.

The eggs and toast continue to cook, as Leon Russell takes the stage.

Eggs cooking in the skillet

When I decide that the eggs are ready, I spoon the sauteed mixture onto half of the eggs. The moment of truth draws near.

Getting close!

Gently I fold the other half over the plethora of ingredients. There is probably too much stuffing for a picture-perfect omelet, but what am I going to to – leave some behind? Here’s where I find out whether the eggs were really ready. And its not bad – maybe a smidge over-done, but perfectly serviceable.

Flipped

I lever the omelet onto a plate, then add the avocado slices on top. I sprinkle on a little more lemon juice, and a dusting of seasoned salt, and finally top the whole thing off with a dollop of medium salsa from a huge jar left over from a Mexican party meal last summer. (The stuff lasts forever if you just shake it up occasionally.

Looks like breakfast to me

Bill Kirchen launches off into an extended version of his signature song, Hot Rod Lincoln, keeping me company as I dig in. In the middle of devouring the omelet, I realize it has no cheese, but I’m perfectly content without it. It’s everything I hoped it would be. And Doc Watson plays another folk tune from beyond the grave.

Almost gone. What, no cheese?!?

Finally it’s time for me to stuff the dishes into the dishwasher, and wash up the cooking tools. Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris serenade me through the suds and the spray.

Clean cooking tools

And, with perfect timing, my IPS walks into the kitchen just as I stow the last knife, and asks, “Have you had breakfast yet?”

All I need to do is show her the picture.


Once again, the camera at hand was not really up to the task of a photo-essay. I apologize to your eyes, and promise to do better next time. I should also warn you that I cook like I do most everything, with more gusto than skill. Ingest accordingly.

Concrete and Cocktails

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Thirteen years ago, an apparently persuasive fellow convinced his wife that he could make their replacement kitchen countertops using concrete. Today, DEX Industries ships their architectural concrete products world-wide. DEX was founded by that persuasive fellow, whose name is Craig Smith, and interior designer Lauriel Leonard. The DEX showroom and manufacturing plant are located in an industrial area in downtown Atlanta, not far from Turner Field.

The current exhibit of the Museum Of Design Atlanta (MODA) is titled The South’s Next Wave: Design Challenge. In conjunction with this exhibit, MODA arranged for DEX to host an after-hours tour of their plant. Craig and Lauriel graciously led us through the factory, guiding us around heavy equipment, concrete pieces, and over water troughs, as they explained how they got started, and how they learned through trial-and-error to manufacture these unique products.

In retrospect, I might have made a tactical error in calling it a “date” when I invited my IPS to the event. I believe the comment she posted was “Living large, people, living large.”

Are we done yet?

I thought the fact that they were offering free drinks put it firmly in the “date” category. Much to learn clearly I have.

Living large, for sure.

Let me hasten to add that the material DEX uses is not your Father’s Oldsmobile’s driveway’s concrete. They combine fine-grain cement in shades ranging from white to dark with aggregates (clear, colored, stone) and even optional artifacts (exotic seashell sections, bottle and glass segments) to make countertops, sinks, tubs, tiles, exterior building finishes, and more. The finishes are sealed, then buffed or polished.

This picture shows a modernistic, white double sink in the foreground, with sample slabs in the background (click the image for a larger view).

Sink and samples

This photo shows some of the aggregate samples displayed in their showroom. The table is also made with the DEX process, and there’s another sink example in the background.

Aggregate samples on table

DEX has always had an ecological consciousness. The reclaimed factory building they use includes natural lighting through large overhead windows that were part of the original building. This green consciousness led to the discovery of an optical fiber plant in north Georgia that was regularly throwing away tons of high-purity silica glass chunks, very clear and very hard. These chunks (shown below in a variety of shapes) are left over from the melting-and-drawing process used to produce optical fiber for telecommunications.

DEX figured out how to crush and size these glass pieces to produce DEX Glass, a unique and useful aggregate they not only use in their own products, but which they also sell to other manufacturers for similar uses.

Optical fiber remnants, and DEX Glass bags

The plant employs a variety of workers, including interior and industrial designers, sculptors and other artists, and experienced construction and renovation contractors. Some of their most critical jobs are performed by the woodworkers who build the crates and boxes that protect these heavy products as they are shipped to their destinations.

The final picture, below, shows an automated polishing machine in the background, on which is resting a piece of external building finish in white concrete. Such pieces are cast using custom rubber molds, also made by the DEX production staff. In the foreground is a section that will be assembled on-site with other pieces to form a large architectural planter, custom designed for a specific building installation.

Polishing machine, building finish, and planter section

It was a pleasant visit for me. The faint aroma of cement throughout the factory brought back memories of my ready-mix plant work with Superior Steel Fabricators. The broad span of mechanical and artistic processes Craig described so lovingly was really fascinating to me. And my Infinitely Patient Spouse really was a good sport about it.

But I’m pretty sure I owe her a Real Date now.

These pictures were taken on a older Blackberry, because I had no idea that I would want to document the trip until I got there. For a full description of DEX, and some much better photos, check out their web site: DEX Industries.