mjgradziel.com michael j. gradziel
A decade and a half long record of life as I know it.
Mike, most recently:
Last weekend I felt proud of my successful search for bottled rosewater, which led me (accompanied by sir Norman, in the stroller) to a little Indian grocery on a side street over near the train station. It came from Pakistan in a small glass bottle, and it was concentrated enough that I used just a quarter teaspoon in a Saudi Arabian semolina cake recipe. The cake is basically the Middle East's version of cornbread doused with maple syrup: semolina flour, baking powder, and clarified butter, baked till golden and then drizzled with a lemon and rosewater sugar syrup and left overnight. The cake gets cut into little diamond shaped pieces decorated on top with slivered almonds, and is served with whipped cream. It's coarse, heavy, sticky, and nice though not something I'm likely to crave. This means I am not likely to use up that bottle of rosewater, unless I find some other ways to use it. However before gulping it down in tea or a smoothie I was anxious to know more about pesticide residues: most flowers are heavily sprayed, there being little incentive not to do so, and I wonder how well the Pakistani rose petal supply line keeps their sources clean and honest. In my research into the mostly undocumented and therefore probably insignificant dangers of tainted rosewater, however, I discovered plenty of instructions for making good clean rosewater at home. It turns out that no special distillation equipment is needed. I made several ounces in less than ten minutes using petals from my back yard! It is not quite as intense as the bottled stuff, but has the same flavor and is actually more appealing being less industrial-strength. Here's how I made it: 1) gather a couple fistfuls of petals from the most fragrant roses, from fully opened flowers. 2) Put an inch of water in a big pot. Set a metal measuring cup in the middle with water in it so it won't float. Get this boiling. Have ready the pot lid upside down with ice cubes and some cold water in the lid. Put the rose petals in the hot water, set a small bowl on top of the measuring cup so it sits up above the boiling water, and set the ice filled pot lid on upside down. Simmer for five minutes. The ice will melt, the condensed rose vapors will drip down the underside of the lid into the central bowl, and when five minutes has passed there will probably be lots more rose essence to extract if you add more ice to the lid. Surely there is an optimal combination of time and temperature. There is probably also a way to make other amazing distillates like bay laurel and douglas fir. This is tempting to try, but I do not need another project! I will, however, start hoarding petals from the choice roses to make tasty rosewater icecubes!
favorite photos -
archived writings -
the house -
textile collection -
cast iron -
baking bread -
our wedding -
kingdom plantae -
Photos and Commentary . . . follow the links:
- Another year and a few more trips: San Bruno Mountain, Marin coast camping, 2015.
- Late Summer and Autumn: Sausalito, Massachusetts, Half Moon Bay 2014.
- Road Trips with Baby: January Travels to Monterey, Big Sur; Southern California in August January - August 2014.
- July through December. before and after baby. 2013.
- Arizona, Yosemite, and Seattle. the west from south to north. March-June 2013.
- Iceland to see the aurora borealis, ice, and furry horses. March 2013.
- Mendocino, Humboldt Redwoods, Mt Diablo, San Francisco. December 2012 - February 2013.
- Massachusetts and the fate of the albacore tuna September- November 2012.
- Sierra Backpacking and other summer trips. July-August 2012.
- Botswana and South Africa, and the big waterfall on the Zambezi. July 2012.
- Boston - fried clams & canoeing. Also, a trip to Santa Barbara. Spring 2012.
- Yosemite, almond trees, Pinnacles Monument, San Diego, and a weekend in LA. Spring 2012.
- Alternating weekends in California and Massachusetts. November - December 2011.
- Boulder and Big Basin, and upstate New York. August - September 2011.
- Southern India and Sri Lanka, two weeks of travel four days of wedding ceremonies. June - July 2011.
- Utah and Arizona, a trip through the desert. June 2011.
- San Francisco Spring 2011, and Massachusetts too. May 2011.
- Wedding party, chalupas, cows, elk, and beer. All in one weekend. April 2011.
- Wine country, hiking, other trips. Fall 2010.
- Taiwan, a land of excellent food. August 2010.
- Pinnacles National Monument, and Emigrant Wilderness. June - July 2010.
- Unknown Coast, successful second attempt to see tidepools. May 2010.
- Yosemite with snow, Colorado, giant surf, and Pasadena revisited. Winter 2010.
- Lobster and Leaves in Maine and the Maritimes. October 2009.
- Hiking on the south border of Yosemite, and the Painted Dunes of Lassen. Summer 2009.
- Big Basin Redwoods, the Berkshires, and other things in the Bay Area. August 2009.
- Point Reyes and the Sonoma Coast, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Carmel-by-the-Sea. 2008-2009.
- Southern Italy: Two weeks from Calabria to Naples. A wedding, beaches, mountain hamlets, and much pizza. July 2008.
- Zion Canyon, the Subway canyon, Kanarra canyon, Bryce Canyon. June 2008.
- California wildflowers, snow and ice, Montana, Massachusetts, San Francisco, Anacapa Island, and other travels. 2008.
- Northern Argentina. Buenos Aires, Iguazu, Salta and the northwest, San Juan. November 2007.
- Climbing Mt. Whitney, berry picking, San Francisco, Catalina Island, and other weekend fun. Summer 2007.
- Lassen National Park, Rocky Mountains, Mt Baldy, Los Padres National Forest, San Francisco, New York. Spring 2007.
- New Zealand. Sixteen Days South with Joy Nov - Dec 2006.
- San Francisco, New York, High sierra hiking. Summer trips and photos. 2006.
- Monterey, Grand Junction, Tahoe, Antelope Valley, Sequoia National Park. 2006.
- The middle of Asia in the middle of winter. Beijing, then west to the frozen center of the continent to find mosques and mutton, among other things. Dec 2005 / Jan 2006.
- Sequoia NP Backpacking, Joshua Tree. A last hike in the sierras before winter, and a trip to the desert. Nov-Dec 2005.
- New York and MA in October The leaves turn color and Grandpa turns 90. Oct 2005.
- Berkeley, San Francisco, Wyoming, Santa Ynez, Palisade Glacier hike. more summer trips Aug-Sep 2005.
- Newport Beach kayaking, Laguna Beach, Rose Bowl fireworks. July 2005
- Sierra hiking at Pine Creek at the edge of spring. June 2005
- the Giant Burger, an American celebration.June 2005
- Finding New England, A tale of what lives and lies along 1300 miles of New England roadways.April 2005
- Desert wildflowers, Joshua Tree, Yosemite. weekend trips. 2005
- Cycling in Mexico, Joshua Tree, Yosemite via snowshoes other fall fun. Fall 2004
- Iqaluit and Pangnirtung in the Canadian Arctic, a land of ice and wind and carnivorous bears. August 2004
- The road to Texas, on the best business trip ever. June-July 2004
- Channel Island Camping, Paddling Castaic Lake, Sierra hiking. More trips. Summer 2004
- Winter camping, beach in Baja, Joshua Tree, and other news. Spring 2004
- French Polynesia: Tahiti and Moorea. December 2003
- Phoenix Arizona, San Gabriel Mtns, California Desert. and the adventures from it. Fall 2003
- Chasing the sun, six thousand miles west from Massachusetts to California. Summer 2003
- Peru, Bolivia, Chile. Seven weeks solo. Mountains, rainforest, desert, and beach by bus and backpack. Summer 2003
- Climbing Algonquin. To the top of the second highest peak in the Adirondacks. March 1, 2003
- Notes and photos. Malibu beaches, Adirondack snow, RPI campus; weekend trips and photos. Spring 2003
- Southern California. Three months of hiking, road trips, mountains, beach, and desert. Summer 2002
- Mountaineering in Mexico. A week of climbing on the volcano Citlaltepetl, bustling rural markets, desolate hill towns, busy city streets, quiet alpine meadows, frozen ice gullies, wild taxi rides, and fine dining in central Mexico. Spring Break 2002
- East Africa: a climb to the top of Kilimanjaro and a week in the Serengeti. Winter 2001
- Adirondacks, Catskills, and White Mountains: Hiking and paddling in New York and New Hampshire. 1999-2003
- Southern California. Scuba diving, hang gliding, snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, trail running, sailing, surfing, canoeing; Yosemite, the High Sierras, the Mojave Desert, Mexico, the California coast, the Colorado River, Las Vegas, Hollywood, Santa Barbara, San Diego, then a cross-country road trip to South Carolina. January-July 2001
- Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada. A return to the Algonquin highlands: gourmet cooking and beautiful sunsets on the wild but peaceful Canadian lakes, an evening in Ottawa, the Montreal nightlife... summer 2000
- That '77 Honda Civic, the perfect adventure machine... summer 2000
- Paddling the Connecticut. Two paddles and a canoe on the Connecticut river, fishing south.summer 1999-2001
- Katahdin: a weekend in the Maine woods; Owl Mountain, Baxter Peak via Cathedral, the Knife Edge... summer 1999
- Alaska, Three weeks and 1500 miles: camping on the banks of the Yukon, hiking in Denali National Park, exploring glaciers and mine ruins in Wrangell-St. Elias... summer 1998
- Hong Kong and Beijing, Exploring street markets, cycling through villages near Beijing, the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Imperial Palace... summer 1997
Mexico to Canada on the PCT, Dad's account from the trail in 1978.
New York to New Orleans by bicycle and riverboat, 1944. Grandma's story.
Questions or comments? email mike-at-mjgradziel.com
Most photos are mine or Joy's (credits to others are in image captions); please credit us where appropriate.