Vegetarian Goetta? Aw, heck yeah! I got your recipe right here!

Cincinnati is a strange place.

Strange customs. Strange sayings. Strange food.

Mmmm. The food!

Having gone vegetarian a number of years ago, I rarely ‘miss’ meat. I don’t really even think about it anymore. But there are things that I do miss from back home like Gold Star Chili, Graeter’s Ice Cream, and Goetta.

Now, Goetta’s definitely a strange one, and it’s uniquely Cincinnati in the sense that, besides scrapple in the NJ / DC corridor, you won’t hear about this elsewhere or even have a reference for what it’s similar to. The traditional recipe is a combination of leftover pork (post-processing), steel cut oats, onions, and a variety of other spices, the likes of which vary from family to family / recipe to recipe. I’ve not had goetta in a good number of years because of the vegetarian journey I’ve been taking, but that all changed last year when my Dad took me to Melt in Cincinnati’s Northside community. They had a vegetarian Goetta sandwich that was absolutely divine.

And it drove me nuts. Being in Pensacola, FL makes it difficult to stock up on this stuff, so I did what I usually do when there’s something I really want to eat again but cannot afford it or cannot obtain it: I figure out how to make it.

It took 7-8 test batches before landing on the following recipe, an amalgam of several traditional goetta recipes, some vegetarian cooking common sense, and a few ideas offered by family and friends. Let me reiterate this: goetta does not have a single, end-all recipe, so what follows is simply what I’ve come to enjoy for any number of reasons.

Rustypants’ Vegetarian Goetta

1 c Steel Cut Oats
1 c Bulgur Wheat
1/2 lg onion, pureed
6 tbsp real butter
2 c vegetable broth
1.5 tsp poultry seasoning
1.5 tsp ground sage
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 c cooking sherry
1/2 tsp pepper flakes (or more or less)
2 bay leaves

1. Soak the oats and wheat together in water for 4-5 hours. Drain leftover water.

2. Add all the ingredients together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium / medium-low and continue to boil, stirring frequently (say, every 5-7 minutes). Mixture will begin to thicken after a while and won’t “boil” any longer, but it’s still not done. Maintain the heat and stir frequently. Keep stirring. Keep cooking. Nope. It’s still not done. That’s right – keep stirring. Keep cooking.

Now, here’s the trick: You want your goetta to stay together, right? So you can slice it and cook it in a loaf-like way. Well, your mixture needs to become thicker than wallpaper paste. Thicker than glue. It needs to be so thick that you’re wondering how much more you can possibly stir it. It doesn’t need to be dry like play-doh, but it needs to be difficult (way difficult) to stir. There can’t be any “juice” left, just a paste-like consistency. (I’m gonna say that the double-batch of this recipe takes no less than an hour from the time I put all the ingredients together in the pot and when it’s finished)

3. While you’re waiting, get a 9×9 square glass pan, spray some Pam (or spread some butter) in the pan. Once you’ve determined it’s done, you need to pop that stuff right into the pan, smooth it out on top, let it sit on the counter for an hour or two and cool off, then saranwrap that sucker, pop it in the fridge and let it “set” for at least 8 hours.

4. In the morning, slice that loaf up into 1/2″ slices, put some butter in a pan, and fry the hell out of it!

Mmmm-mmm! You just made some damn fine goetta!


A photo posted by scott (@rustypants) on

Big (old) Dog vs. Great Blue Heron, pt. 2



We don’t take Dolby out to the beach nearly as often as we used to. Back in the day he’d follow us up and down the shoreline as far as we could go, chasing after crabs, taking a dip in the water here and there, sniffing after weird stuff washed up on shore, and running pell-mell after errant pelicans, seagulls, and Great Blue Herons.

But Dolby is nine years old now. He’s slowed down quite a bit in the last couple years and having arthritis in his hips hasn’t helped that. Some days, just seeing him trying to get into the car is a painful thing to watch. So we’re more selective about when we take him down to the beach where the shifting sand makes walking more difficult.

We took him to Pensacola Beach with us this past Thursday. He walked maybe 30 yards one way, then 30 yards the other with us, but finally took up residence on the beach blanket while Lise went hunting for shells and I went hunting for perspective.

The sun was already near the horizon and was shaping up to be a very nice sunset. I noticed a Great Blue Heron had landed 30 yards away from us, so I mounted the camera on the tripod, turned myself around, and took a few shots. I asked Dolby who it was that was down the beach from us, and he got his excited-puppy look on his face, his ears perked up, and he searched the shore for what intruder I might be inquiring about.

I watched him for a few seconds, determined that he was more than likely not going to move, and went back to zooming in on the GBH and getting a few more shots.

Now, I noticed the heron quickly turn its head, but I didn’t realize why he’d done it. UNTIL. Until the fuzzy black butt of my dog appeared in the frame of my next shot. He didn’t get as close as he used to, and he was more bumbling than running, but he gave it a good try.

And of course I have a series of shots to prove it and an overly long story to tell of our sweet old boy.

Anticrepuscular Rays

One thing about Pensacola sunsets that has blown my mind since we moved here is this optical illusion known as anticrepuscular rays. It’s not an everyday thing, but it’s frequent enough that I’m not surprised when I see it. IMG_2751sq This shot is from Christmas Eve just as the sun is setting. Because of how those rays appear, one might think that this is looking due West, after the sun has actually set. This is not the case, however! This view is to the East, and the point where the rays converge is the exact opposite of where the sun is setting in the West.

Quoting the website “Atmospheric Optics” ( “They appear to converge towards the antisolar point, the point on the sky sphere directly opposite the sun. Like crepuscular rays they are parallel shafts of sunlight from holes in the clouds and their apparently odd directions are a perspective effect. Think of a long straight road, it converges towards the horizon but turn around and it also converges to the opposite horizon.” IMG_2753sq Sometimes I get so focused on the sunset itself that I forget to turn around and see if this effect is in play on that night. Thankfully I did, as this is one of the most amazing displays of anticrepuscular rays I’ve seen yet.

Cycling Jackets: A Learning Experience

It’s only taken me about 3.5 years, but I think I’m learning.

When I really got into cycling (for fun, for commuting, for health), I didn’t have a lot of money to spend. Several years later I still don’t. Now, it’s been obvious to me that despite the amount of money I had to spend to get a couple of good bikes and outfit them, I’m saving money in the long run on gas / wear & tear. I don’t skimp on the equipment I buy to outfit the bikes, because I know that if I buy the best gear now, they’ll last longer and perform better.

So why in the name of all things velo do I attempt to skimp on clothing??

Truth is, “cycling clothing” has always struck me as ridiculous, both in pricing as well as design. I didn’t take up cycling so I could attempt to pack my 45 year old, 230lb frame into skin tight lyrca team kits and spend more on them than on either of my bikes! I wanted to be able to climb on the bike and go, not worry about whether I needed to look like Lance Armstrong to go shopping or to work.

But the realization also hit me that I needed something other than just a hoodie, my jacket of choice for many years. So the hunt for a cheap cycling jacket that could be used in all situations (even off the bike) began.

The Jackets

Four cycling jackets in three and a half years.


#1 – Izod XFG Packable Jacket

Almost 4 years ago, this jacket was seen at the local Izod outlet store with a normal pricetag of almost $50. It was on sale for $25, plus a promo was running, knocking it down to $15. “Waterproof” and windproof, it seemed like the perfect answer to my needs as a cyclist here in Pensacola. I sweet talked the salesperson and she sold me a second one (bright orange) so that together I spent $25. How could I go wrong with this, right?

The Problem: While this jacket is mostly waterproof and windproof, it also doesn’t breath even a little bit. It’s like wearing a thick plastic trash bag. On top of that, the back hikes up, exposing your shorts and the end of your shirt. In the end, I may as well have not been wearing a jacket at all, as I wound up as wet from sweat and the encroaching rain. I still wear this jacket occasionally as just a windbreaker, but it generally just takes up space in the closet now.

#2 New Balance 360 Degree Jacket

Waterproof. Windproof. Lined sleeves. Vents in the front and large vent on the back. Reflective strips. Packable. Front-pocket MP3 player slot. 2 zip pockets. It seemed perfect. On top of that, it was $20 down the street, marked down from $90. A dream come true! All my questions answered! It was perfect! We danced and sang together, rode together in the rain, braved the brisk air and everything was great

Until… The Problem: It’s a very loose fit, which I was initially ok with, but that got to be a bit irritating, having everything flapping about willy-nilly. But then, the real problem: As with any piece of clothing, it eventually needs to be washed. Whether it was the washing machine or the jacket, that sucker came unthreaded at the seams, shredding at 2 large spots. This was a month after getting the jacket. And of course, this was bought on the cheap as it was the previous years’ style. There would be no returning the jacket. I did go back to where I bought it and found an XXL (my normal size is an XL) marked further down to $15. Bought it, but this thing wears like a tent (which means it doesn’t get worn at all).

#3 Alpinestars Night Mission Jacket

For almost a year, I’d been without a specific cycling jacket. Always on the lookout, always shocked at the prices, I’ve settled for old hoodies that do a barely decent job as long as it’s not raining. Then, in my quest for cheap, I saw this jacket on The Clymb. Now, I should know better than to try and order clothing online, but the deal was so good ($30, down from $110)… So I did some research on it, looked for information outside of The Clymb’s site, and from what I could tell, it was going to be a winner! Waterproof, windproof, and a hood that could be removed, and apparently 2 vents (under each arm). The only size they had left was XXL, so after some agonizing, I pulled the trigger.

The Problem: Where to start? Hah. Well, to begin, this thing weighs several pounds. It’s crazy heavy. It’s also hot as hell. No reflective strips. There are also no vents in the jacket (apparently only the current version of this jacket has vents, the one I was buying was the previous years’ style). I figured I’d just do the best I could with it, but having gotten it in September when the temps are still in the 80-90 degree range, I couldn’t really test the thing out. Then it got chilly. That’s when I realized this: IMG_2393

I must’ve not only gotten last years’ style, I also got last years’ “slightly irregular” cast-offs. That zipper doesn’t close all the way because the other end has been sewn in wrong and can’t be undone. Furthermore, the top of this jacket is crazy stiff – the zipper top jams into my neck causing extreme discomfort and irritation. And, of course, two months later there are no returns on this jacket. Looking at Alpinestars’ website convinced me not to even bother contacting them. Yet another useless jacket taking up space in the closet.

#4 Louis Garneau Kamloops Jacket

Waterproof. Windproof. Breathable. 2.5 ply nylon ripstop. Large back pocket. High fitting collar. Rear vent flap. Mini-light tab. Reflective tape front and back. Pro-fit. Nevermind that I didn’t understand what several of these things meant, it looked slick. At $47, it was almost $100 less than the MSRP, got good reviews, and I felt that given all the research I did on it before I took the plunge, I thought I’d be ok getting an XXL from Competitive Cyclist’s website, and even if it was just a little too big, that’d be alright.

The Problem: Oh, goodness. Well, this beautiful jacket arrived in the mail and as I pulled it out of the box, I thought, “Damn, son, that’s the noisiest jacket I’ve ever heard… is there cellophane inside this thing?” Alas, there was not. It was then that I understood what Max 2.5 Nylon Ripstop meant. No problem, I thought. It just needs to be broken in, right? So I put the thing on and suddenly understood what pro-fit means: Dudes with broad shoulders and long torsos should probably not buy an XXL, as it will be too small. Yep. The fabric jams right into my armpits, and extends just barely an inch below my stomach. And the noise it makes while it’s on? I mean, I’m deaf and it’s loud enough to be annoying to me. None of this is the company’s fault, however: it’s my own.

What I’ve Learned: 

Having now spent almost $200 on these four jackets, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

  • I’ve always had difficulty buying shirts due to a very long torso – at 6′ tall, I have a 29-30″ inseam – most of my size is up top. This will also cause problems with cycling clothing as well.
  • Ordering online from closeout / clearance websites or from clearance bins on normal websites is probably not a good idea, as the ability to return this stuff is near non-existent.
  • A corollary to the previous two points is that I cannot try these items on, and now know from experience that it’s difficult to measure for dimensions when different styles have different fits (even within the same company).
  • I didn’t / don’t understand some of the terms that come with these jackets, and even after researching them, I really needed to have seen it rather than just read about it. Cycling obviously has many categories, from recreational to professional to commuting to sport. Some of the “fits” are not going to apply to me, either because of my “category” or because of the long torso / less-than-muscular physique.
  • Cycling jackets are insanely expensive. Deal with it. I need to buy a jacket I can actually try on first, and have the expectation that I’m going to be spending an insane amount of money (for me) but with a jacket that will actually fit and do what I want it to do.
  • For $200, I could have gotten a good, appropriate jacket (or two) by now. (This, of course, also has to be tempered with the understanding that I don’t have $200 lying around and we use credit cards for emergencies only, not so we can keep up with the neighbors).

Now: I still need a jacket! The hunt continues…

Scenes that remind me I’m watching a movie…

Tonight, while watching the movie Argo, a scene from my past caused me to suspend time for about five seconds, think hard, and have a mental dispute with the filmmakers.

When they drop the needle onto the record, it looked like they dropped it on track four of five. When the song started and John Bonham’s familiar boom, tap, boom boom-boom, tap intro to When The Levee Breaks kicks in, I thought, “Wait. Waitwaitwait… that ain’t right. That’s the last song on side two.” Lise saw the look on my face as I backed up the film and watched it again. As I explained to her what was going on, she said, “Get out. You remember that? I don’t believe it.” “Oh, REALLY?!?” I replied, having already decided I needed to hit the garage and dig through my LP’s and find the proof.

I thought hard as I found the album, wondering how they could’ve made such a simple but fundamental mistake.

And naturally, they didn’t. As I looked lovingly at the LP cover and slid the album out, I realized: This sucker only has eight tracks on it.

And two things struck me:
First, I’m old. The fundamental mistake was mine.
Second, I am become my father.

Except he probably wouldn’t have forgotten that there are only four tracks on each side of Led Zep IV.

Still waiting for Hurricane Isaac

In the week+ since we were warned that a tropical storm was brewing down south and looked to be heading towards Pensacola, we’re still waiting for the effects. Heck, we’re still waiting for just about anything from this system that doesn’t look like any other day on the Gulf Coast / Florida Panhandle.

On Sunday night our school district cancelled classes for Monday and Tuesday. I hopped on the bike that night and went around taking pictures of the clear skies and beautiful sunset down by the water.

Monday night, Lise and I went out and took more pictures – what a contrast! The clouds and strong winds are about the only thing that tell you that there’s a hurricane out there, but the difference between the top and bottom picture, taken almost exactly 24 hours apart, is striking!

Still waiting, Hurricane Isaac!

Regarding the Chick-Fil-A Gay Marriage “Controversy”

I wonder if part of the extreme reaction to (CFA president) Dan Cathy’s words aren’t necessarily from what we already knew (that he is Christian, that he opposes same-sex marriage, that he runs his company by Biblical principals), but from the words he chose, that people advocating for same-sex marriage are “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

“As it relates to society in general I think we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake out fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Cathy said. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.” *

It smacks of Pat Robertson and others who place the blame for things unrelated at the feet of a this or that group of people. It also smacks of folk who continue to insist that America is / was a Christian nation, and that somehow our state / federal laws are all derived purely from the Bible or that Christian standpoint.

Does that make sense? I’m not saying that this is exactly what was intended, or that this is what people are reacting to, but this is what I take from the articles I’ve read in a couple newspapers since last night (I’ve been completely out of the loop on this). Nothing else about the situation surprised me except the extreme nature of Cathy’s comments regarding God’s judgement against America because gay people want the right to be legally married.

It seems that there would be a more graceful way of saying: I (and by proxy, my company) oppose the right for gays to be legally married.

But even as I type that, irony washes over me as I begin to wonder, “Which company will be FIRST to come out and say, ‘We completely support gay marriage! Come, eat our chicken sandwiches instead!!'”

McD’s is my bet.

*(I took Cathy’s quote from this article in the Washington Post:


(an aside): The question of marriage in America in regards to this issue seems to come down to whether we’re a religious (Christian) nation or not. If we are, then by golly, we shouldn’t let gay couples marry. But if we’re gonna champion equal rights for all (and most other areas that are controlled by the government are, at least in theory, set up this way), then gays should be allowed to marry.

Are we a Christian nation? No.  Therefore, gays being allowed to marry in America should not come down to a question of religion.


Stormy Skies: A Study in Contrasts

It’s difficult to explain the enormity of some of these storms that pass through Pensacola and the speed at which they develop. A panoramic might be the only way to show it, and even that won’t show it correctly. This sucker is moving over the top of us right now. I saw it in the distance, jumped on the bike, went to the closest decent vantage point near the house (2 miles away) and shot a few.

Being a Yankee from Ohio, I’m used to slow developing storms that, when they hit, they envelop the entire area and take all damn day to move through (if not longer).

Here in semi-tropical Pensacola, scenes like the picture above are commonplace. One section the sky is blue, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, etc. etc. and a half mile away, foreboding storm of death, doom, and destruction.

Ain’t complaining. Personally, thunderstorms are my favorite things to sit on the front porch and watch.