They Grow Up So…well, eventually

The Boy really surprised me this Father’s Day. Part one of the surprise is that he actually remembered the day, although that may be thanks to Kat. The next part of the surprise is how nice a gift he got me. It was relevant and not cheap (Calphalon bakeware to replace some of the cheaper things banging around in the kitchen). Finally, we were at the local media store (books are such a small part of their stock) and he ran off to buy a t-shirt. He used that t-shirt to wrap the pans! Not only generous, but ingenious as well. And the shirt was Doctor Who themed, so bonus points there.

All around, I could not have asked for a better recognition that I’ve got some sort of place in his heart. Maybe this parenting stuff is working after all.

Tivo vs. MythTV

It’s been over a month since my MythTV DVR committed suicide and I replaced it with a Tivo from my cable company. I think I’ve explored the features enough to be able to deliver a decent comparison of the two. Overall, I think I’d be very satisfied with a Tivo if I’d never used MythTV. Let me go into some more detail.

Continue reading Tivo vs. MythTV

Fake Big Mac

Once again, my imaginary friend Kenji has inspired yet another winning meal. If nothing else, he was able to produce a great recipe for the “Secret” sauce for a Big Mac. We only had larger sesame seed buns (there was no way I was going to glue hundreds of seeds to smaller buns), and thus we made 1/6 lb patties instead of 1/10 lb micropatties. Overall, a great success. Who knew that nuking onions on low for ten minutes made them mild? Yay Kenji!

Merry Christmas

This has been a great Christmas morning.  I got five new books, Alex seems to like his new skates, Kat and I have been having a blast with her Buckyballs, and breakfast was awesome.  Kat found a great recipe for salmon hash and asparagus.  Served with a fried egg atop the pile, with mimosas (and faux-mosa for the boy) on the side…such decadence!

We wish you and yours a great Christmas and a great new year!

Patty Melts Are Awesome

In previous installments of “Gary cooks whatever Kenji does,” we’ve tried the Double-Double Animal Style and some sliders. The latest was the patty melt. I’m a big fan of patty melts, so making them at home with two kinds of cheese seemed like a winner of a plan. They were yummy, and the onions ended up so caramelized they stuck in my teeth like the halloween candy we’re noshing on this week.

In a stunning upset, the sliders remain as Kat’s #2 choice of the three, while the Double-Double of course reigns supreme.  The Boy and I both prefer patty melts over sliders, but agree with Judge #1 that In-N-Out rocks, even in clone form.

Maybe I’ll try that Roast Beef Poboy next, that looks like an interesting sandwich…

Paper?

As much as I’d like to think Gary and I have been married for 10 years, it has only been 2. 2 years of his recipes out of Cuisine magazine, gifts for no reason, always opening my car door first, paying for my tattoos, taking care of my every whimsy and never saying no. Okay- he did discourage my lip piercing which my piercer forbade me to get and refused to do anyway. Whatever.

At the risk of his old flames or wannabes reading this, I can say without a pause that your loss is my gain. Gary, or G-fly as I often refer to him (you’ve heard him rap, right?) is the best human I’ve ever met. Best friend, best lover, best driver, best travel companion and in a couple years, best roommate to have in California. 2 down and a lifetime of anniversaries to go….. Go Bearcat!

Sliders

Following the success of the faux Double-Double, last night we attempted to duplicate Kenji Lopez-Alt’s slider recipe.  OK, recipe may be overstating things, how about method instead? I thought it odd to make fried burgers last time; you can imagine how difficult it was to get past the concept of steamed burgers. And, 1.2 pounds of meat to make a dozen burgers? That can’t be right.

Anyway, they turned out quite like the sliders you may love or hate – oniony, cheesy, moist, and a little messy with a pretty high bun-to-meat ratio. Although sliders were Kat’s idea, she found them to be not as much to her liking as the In-N-Out style burgers – I wholeheartedly agree.  Alex, on the other hand, ate four of them. The sliders do have the benefit of being much easier to make, with far fewer ingredients to juggle (making your own secret sauce, slicing tomatoes, leafing lettuce – none of those are needed for sliders). But, the D-D have the benefit of being quite a bit tastier.  Sliders are a bit of a one-note song, while a nice Double-Double Animal Style is a near-symphony of ground meat goodness.

Next on my burger hit parade?  Maybe patty melts.  I love me some patty melt…

Stupider Computer

After two evenings of boot disks, operating system CDs, external drives, SATA drives balanced precariously atop an open case, and a couple of hard ciders, it appears the great computer meltdown of 2010 has been repaired.

Sadly, after all the effort, I still don’t know what was wrong. The computer stopped booting without an error, so I tried to fix it with a variety of different tools.  Some of them may have introduced other errors, or exacerbated the original error, and somehow it all ended up booting again around 6pm today.

Things which I tried which did not help: fixmbr, fixboot, copy partitions to a spare SATA drive I have lying around (waiting for that new build I’ve been planning for nearly a year now), copying NTLDR, hiding and unhiding partitions, making partitions active and boot, and pulling out hair.

Things which I think led to the fix: editing the boot.ini file via a Linux boot disk to point to partition(2) instead of partition(1), ensuring the recovery partition does not get assigned a drive letter in XP. And possibly the cider.

And this is why I have several USB drives about, as well as why I experiment with live distros on USB keys so I’m not completely flummoxed when everything goes pear shaped.  I still don’t trust this machine, though.  Flaky like croissant dough.

Bread is easy

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this great book my baby got me for Xmas – Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  We’ve had cheddar bread, sun-dried tomato bread, brioche sticky buns, pizza, naan… Good stuff, and not remotely difficult.  Alex made a couple loaves without assistance (guidance sure, but I never touched his dough!).  Here’s the most recent, a chocolate ganache-filled brioche loaf.

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Armadillo Uprising

I’ve lived in Texas for 9 of the past 11 years. In all that time, I’d never seen a living armadillo. These stupid little critters are splattered all over the highways, but I didn’t see one actually moving. After so many years, I might be forgiven for thinking that the armadillo is actually a fictional creature, like the jackalope. I’ve seen plenty of dead jackalopes in souvenir shops, so it’s not too far to stretch for the fictional armadillo theory.

This weekend, Kat and I went on one of our occasional walks through the local nature trail, down by the water. At the beginning of the trail, we caught sight of a rabbit scurrying down the trail, which is a rare enough sight that we already felt lucky to have made the trip. As we continued down the trail, we encountered cardinals, squirrels leaping across the trail, and finally we came to a grassy field between trees and water.

Yes, that is indeed a live armadillo thrashing about, looking for bugs. The next day, we walked out there again and caught sight of another armadillo. Finally, the day after that, we went for a walk near a local campground, and a third armadillo walked across the road in front of us.

Thus begins the armadillo uprising of 2009. Mark your calendars.

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Naan Better

Yesterday was a near perfect day. My morning began with a highly anticipated package finally arriving, (Gary’s Valentine ‘s Day present). The huge box is stashed in our bedroom closet so shhhhh…

Then my much-needed chinchilla shelves arrived via UPS. I spent the next two hours happily constructing my chin’s extreme new condo. I spent the next 30 minutes sipping tea in front of his cage and watching him explore his new digs. Then my boss at the Nature Center called. He bought me a Merauke blue tongue skink! I rushed over to see her and she is a looker. I named her Meredith. Gary was due home soon so I jetted back and made him drive me back out to the Nature Center to see and photograph Meredith. Afterwards I picked up my new glasses and contacts. I look so smart now.

After a wee rest, (it was my day off after all,) I helped Gary make dinner. He made me Indian food, (chicken korma to be precise). It was perfect but I distracted him at one point so the bread got burned beyond recognition. We watched TV and looked at pics of Meredith before we settled down to sleep. After our customary “I love you”s I turned to my beloved and said- “Bar naan, it was a perfect day.” His response? Sine Qua naan.

Ah- you gotta love him.

Food and booze

I would like to point out that not all fruitcake is bad.  Alton Brown’s Free Range Fruitcake, for example, is yummy as heck.  And, unlike many fruitcake recipes, it only takes a week or two to age, not months and months.  Some recipes start with, “gather your ingredients in July…”  Not for me, buddy.

Of course, now my coworkers think that I only make desserts with a solid alcoholic base. In the past month, I’ve brought in Black Forest cake (kirschwasser in several places, as well as port wine), panettone bread pudding (rum), and now the fruitcake (rum and brandy). I am not a lush, honest.

Someone must think we are low on wine, because I came home to a ridiculously large box, containing a very generous gift basket and four bottles of wine.  Kat was heartened to see at least one bottle of white.  We have about ten reds but no whites until today.  Whoever sent this (the card was unsigned), thank you.  You rock.

Back home

Galveston_01.jpgGalveston_02.jpgGalveston is still a mess, a month after Hurricane Ike. They only just reopened the cruise terminal, but the traffic lights didn’t work and there were a lot of boats in places boats don’t normally rest, as well as large piles of debris.

Very easy drive back to San Angelo, with almost no traffic the whole route. The dogs were excited to see us, and wondered if we’d brought them back a turtle to eat, or perhaps just one of the rum cakes. We’re glad to be home, and Kat’s already looking at cruises and shore excursions in the Eastern Caribbean. Better check the savings account…

Weekend Wrapup

First, thanks to all who wished me happy birthday this past Saturday.  I appreciate it.

The lovely Kat put together an unusual method of gift-giving – a scavenger hunt. I wandered around the nature center, following her rhyming clues, hoping not to be told to put my hand in the viper cage. It was a very cool haul of presents, including a few pans to be used for various stir fry and baking needs, as well as a few books I’ve been looking at. Of course, the cocktail shaker got a good workout this weekend, making a few batches of raspberry margaritas to accompany the Serrano ham-wrapped figs.

Sunday morning we hit the lake, after applying what appears in retrospect to be insufficient amounts of sunscreen. Kayaking across 3 miles of placid water, watching for critters, and watching The Boy splash around in the water – good times.  The eventual “seen animal” list included a bevy of turtles, a flock of birds, a swarm of dragonflies, a school of jumping fish (none near the fishermen, though), and a couple water snakes. The first snake was a cottonmouth (aka water mocassin), which was swimming away from the crazy humans at a good clip. It must have been at least 4 feet long. The second slithery critter was a diamond-backed water snake of much smaller size.  It popped up and then slipped beneath the surface, never to be seen again.

We also discovered that paddling a tube is not very efficient (no bow or stern, so you tend to paddle clockwise and counter-clockwise rather than forward).  Well, The Boy discovered this, after much instruction on the proper angle of attack for the paddle.  Then, we discovered that The Boy likes to paddle the kayak.  Come back here, you little monkey!

Overall, a great birthday and good weekend. Now, if my coworkers would just stop saying, “Got some sun this weekend, eh?”  SO original.

Turkey Day Review

Ham, mashed potatoes, bacon & leek dressing.  Cherry/Orange scones with whipped cream.  A cat that meows so much it must be using the sound as sonar.  Two dogs that don’t know how to sleep without people under them.  One boy who got to put up ornaments and didn’t break any.  One hot woman who gave me a new fuzzy robe to stay warm. High temperatures of 40 degrees.

And now, finally, three days late, Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.

Cheers.

Party!

The comfort food party went very well. Mashed potatoes and pot roast disappeared like they weren’t even there. Plenty of ham soup for leftovers this week. Yum.

And, the secret dessert can now be revealed. It’s an orange chiffon cake, with mocha butter cream frosting, garnished with sugared rosemary, cranberries, and meringue mushrooms. NovParty_8 It was supposed to have one more sawed-off branch on top, but it was unbalanced and so it went to Alex’s other house with him, along with some meringue mushrooms. He was very happy.

And everyone liked Kat.

Home Architect

Played with Broderbund’s 3D Home Architect this weekend. Considering how limited the number of pieces of furniture are to choose from, this does look quite a bit like the view from the den into the living room and kitchen, if I were sitting in the PapaSan chair. Which I do, when I’m waiting for the dog to finish sniffing every single plant in the back yard.