12/31/2009

Building the Smoker

Way back when I first got into smoking meats, and before I decided to invest in a real smoker, I built the Alton brown Trash can Smoker. It worked so well I immediately purchased a real smoker. In preparation for smoking my BACON!, I converted it into a cold smoker. I went to Home Depot and purchased a second garbage can for $22.00. I had a long length of thin aluminum dryer tubing (never used) and some other parts. First thing I did was attach the Aluminum tubing and reducer to the new trash can at the bottom using pop rivets and duct tape on the inside.
I Attached the ducting with a large hose clamp. Attached a computer power supply fan to the top of the can on the opposite side.
The finished can looks like this.
I attached the other side of the hose to the old smoker and duct taped it in place.
I will be using a hot plate to generate the heat for the smoke. As a test I powered on the fan, lit some paper towels and put them in the old smoker. In a few seconds smoke came out. and after traveling through the long tube it was cooled by the outside air. Here is the results.
Unfortunately I do not have the meat ready to smoke yet, so I will start curing it this Wednesday and smoke it on the weekend.

12/30/2009

The Once and Future BACON!

Well..... After a long absence, I finally have something to blog about.

IT'S BACON!!!

I have been wanting to make my own BACON! for a while now, but I had to wait till the outside temperatures were low enough for cold smoking. That means I have a narrow windows of opportunity over the next month or so. Cold smoking requires temperatures of 70 degrees or less. Today I went to Hobe Meats at 6044 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ and picked up 2 whole pork bellies (frozen, skin on). They were $4.99 per pound. Total was over $100.00 (if your gonna make BACON!, make a lot). I will be using the Alton Brown Cure for this, and will probably smoke them next week (once I build my cold smoker). Stay tuned.

10/23/2009

Hardware Review: Optimate Pro-S

The Optimate Pro-S is a battery charger/de-sulfator, made by Tecmate. The model I purchased came from www.batteryxpress.com and is the older version. The difference between the 2 is in the styling and the new model lets you choose the type of battery connected to it.

I purchased this battery charger because I have a growing collection of sealed lead acid batteries removed from uninterruptable power supplies. Many of them are completely dead but some may be just sulfated.

The unit claims to be able to recover a battery with as low a voltage as .8. It is primarily designed for "power sport" Lead acid batteries, used in ATV's, and motorcycles, but will work on any 12 volt lead acid battery.

Once I received the unit I selected some batteries, including one that had .5 volts. I expected the one with only .5 volts to fail but would try it anyways. As expected the .5 volt battery did not even register with the charger. I attached the battery to a standard charger which did not see it either. So I tricked the regular charger by jumpering a good battery to the bad battery while it was on the charger. This started it charging. Once it got to about five volts I hooked it to the Optimate. Interestingly enough it did not do a desulfate which is strange for a battery of this age (I later found out why). I left it on the charger for 24 hours but it was a no go.

I decided to just try batteries with at least 12 volts. It took a call to the manufacturer and some experimenting, as the instructions are written kind of like a run on sentence in a computer program. Here is what I found. If the charger is turned on when connected to the battery (manual says to do this) it does not check if the battery is sulfated even though the manual says that is the first thing it will do, however if the charger is connected to the battery after it is turned on it will test for sulfation. It appears that this is a bug in it's programming. The newer unit is supposed to be better behaved. The unit is supposed to indicate if a battery is good, ok, or bad using 3 lights, Green, Yellow, and Red. With combinations of the Green and yellow light for readings in between good and ok. I was never getting an indication of whether the batteries were any good. Just to test I hooked it to a known good battery and left it overnight. In the morning it registered good. So I started trying other batteries. I quickly found 2 other batteries that were good and I didn't know it.

I also found that If you repeatedly desulfate a battery you can revive it. Case in point I have 5 batteries that would not register as good, bad, or in between. I found that if I cycle though the batteries, letting each battery rest after its desulfating cycle, over time the resting voltage slowly climbs up. This worked so well that a battery I found that had a date code of July 1996 was brought back to good condition. Only testing will tell if it really is good, but the results were surprising.

I have also ran it on several of my car batteries, to see if they are still good, and they all are. I probably should have paid extra for the newer version, but once I got the kinks worked out, I am quite happy with the unit.

Update 5-6-10 None of the sealed lead acid batteries I tested, were revived enough to be used in a ups again. They could be used for other purposes but the UPS's would reject them.

Update 6-24-2012 From further research and testing it appears that the claim of reviving totally dead batteries is not possible. As my experiments showed.

10/20/2009

Drunkest Guy ever

2001 Space Odyssey Drunk

Old Timey Drunk

Remixed


This was too funny to pass up.
Note that this is appears to take place at 10:48am on a Tuesday.

10/09/2009

Restaurant Review: Eden's Grill

Looking for new or different places to eat, I keep tabs on a website called Feasting in Phoenix. First I read the reviews and if a restaurant is interesting to me I check it out on the Maricopa county Website. I see how the restaurant does on it's inspections. The go/no-go decider for me is if a restaurant has "EVER" had roaches reported. If not, I will check it out. So recently I went through the website and found several restaurants I could try. Today we went to Eden's Grill. Seth at Feasting in Phoenix gave it a decent review so decided to try it out.

The restaurant is pretty long drive from our house. It is not a very big place, nice and cozy. The staff are very friendly. We started with the houmous which came with pita bread, it was creamy but it could of used a bit more spice. I ordered the Gyros plate, and Kathi ordered the Chicken and Gyros plate. My plate was a lamb and beef gyro (very good and not overly spiced up), it came with basmati rice that was flavored with something like Garum masala and it had golden raisins and almonds mixed in (very good). It also came with onions, some flat bread lightly seasoned with cinnamon and sugar and a small side of a yogurt sauce. Some of the Gyro meat had a sweet candy like sauce on it. Kathi's came with Gyro meat, and a small chicken fillet kebab. Hers had most of the stuff mine had except no flat bread with cinnamon. Kathi really like the rice. The only problems with our meal was that it was enough food for 4 people. We ended up taking most of it home for later. This restaurant is well worth the drive.

9/30/2009

Monkey

Demotivational poster. Monkey: I am not one

Demotivational Poster

Cloning: Just because you can do something... Doesn't mean you should.
Yeah I know, and old Photoshop, just trying out a program I found to make motivational posters.

8/27/2009

Best Bread EVAR!

I have been searching for years, experimenting, trying different recipes in my attempts to find the perfect, easy to make bread recipe. I have 3 (Three) bread machines. I have tried to make sourdough starter and sourdough bread, in most cases what I got had more in common with beer than bread. Nothing had that perfect mix of:
Nice crispy crust.
Chewy Texture.
Great flavor.
Nice big bubbly holes.
Didn't require lots of work.

Until now.

Yesterday In what was probably my last attempt I googled "crispy bread crust" and stumbled upon the greatest non secret on the Internet, "Bittman's no knead bread". Everywhere I clicked people were raving about it. I read several blogs and even found the original video that shows how to make it. I had to try it immediately. First here is the video:

Now the recipe:

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast (Fleishmann's Highly active yeast)
1¼ teaspoons salt
Room temperature or cooler water.
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly, then add 1 & 1/2 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap (not air tight). Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at room temperature, between 70 & 80 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles and has expanded 2 to 3 times original size. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself 4 times (DO NOT SQUISH).

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball do not squash or knead. Generously coat a cotton tea towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats (no plastic). When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is okay. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes (check every ten minutes), until loaf is beautifully browned. If not sure take the breads internal temperature, it should be between 190 and 195 degrees. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

Makes One, 1½-pound loaf.

The hardest part of making this bread is transferring the risen dough to my dutch oven without it collapsing too much.

Several points to know if you want to make this bread.
Watch the video.
Do not use regular yeast.
Do not skimp on the salt.
If you use kosher salt use 1 and 3/4 teaspoons.
Do not pat, punch, squish, or otherwise rough up this dough in anyway.
You must use a dutch oven or some other lidded pot at least 1/4 inch thick.
When mixing the dough, the instant it comes together in a single mass, STOP cover it and walk away.
Just before you put the dough in the heated dutch oven cover the dutch oven bottom with cornmeal or wheat bran, DO NOT spray with Pam or use oil as it will instantly smoke and make the bread taste funny.
If you want a crispy crust the next day, place the bread in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Here are the pics I took.

The first picture is right after I mixed it, The second was The next morning about 12 hours later (it makes snap, crackle, pop sounds). I forgot to take a picture just before I shaped it 18 hours later, or after it was shaped.

The third picture was taken after I removed it from the Dutch oven and the last picture was after Kathi and I ate some of it. I actually over mixed it or the bubbles would have been bigger.

Now the science:

The reason for the instant yeast is that it is mixed with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) yeast get hyper active in the presence of vitamin c. Regular yeast could be used but you will need 3 times as much and it still won't give you quite the same results. The salt is there to slow down the yeast, and because it is not overly mixed the individual salt grains create localized areas where the yeast don't grow as well. The hyper active yeast make big bubbles in the dough. Letting it ferment for 18 hours adds flavor to the bread. If you smell it just before you shape it, it will smell a little bit like booze, as the yeast have turned some of the natural sugars in the bread to alcohol. Folding the bread 4 times creates crevices, when the bread is turned upside down in the dutch oven, these crevices open up and allow steam to escape. The dutch oven creates a miniature steam injection oven which is what makes the crust perfectly crisp.

8/01/2009

Home Invasion (or Ratatouille?)

About 3 am I got up and was in the kitchen. I heard a noise coming from our range hood. It was making a clicking/banging noise similar to what it makes when there is a storm outside. The vent has a damper valve to prevent air from blowing back into the house. However it was never installed correctly by the previous owner. Anyways I looked outside and there was no wind blowing.... Hmm... oh well, back to bed!

Around 7am I wake up and go into the kitchen, The noise is still there, and there is a whole bunch of sticks, twigs, and debris on the stove??? I look under the hood and the filter is ripped up (but not all the way through). I wake Kathi up and tell her I think something is stuck in the vent pipes above the stove (I'm thinking cat, cause I have had that happen before just not here).

I pop the vent filter off and clean it, I look under the hood at the same time as Kathi does and a small pair of beady black eyes are staring back. Kathi freaks out."aaaaaahhhhhh! A RAT!!!!"

I quickly locate my pellet gun (luckily it had 2 pellets in it). I pump it up, take aim and...... I can't pull the trigger. I move the safety, take aim...... and can't pull the trigger WTF! Meanwhile the rat is trying to get out of the vent through the fan (which was not on), after messing with the BB gun again I realize I forgot to push the bolt forward. I fix that, take aim and...... Pop! Headshot!.

Ooooh.... right..... rats bleed and flail about after being shot in the head. So the rat falls through the opening and onto the stove, where it twitches and squirms for a few minutes.

Here is a picture, but you will have to click the link as it's a little gory.

SO! Once Remy stopped twitching I picked it up with a paper towel by the tail and put it in a ziplock freezer bag and straight into the trash.

GREAT! now I gots to clean up this mess. So down comes the range hood and everything on the stove gets a bath in bleach water, a salt shaker, and some decorative items on the wall get tossed.

Now a trip to home depot to get all the right parts to fix the vent and block the vent on the roof with mesh. While leaving Home Depot we ran into Gerry Meek. We return and after much cursing, etc. we get the vent fixed, the range hood back up, and I blocked the vent on the roof with mesh. Once on the ground I drink about a gallon of water as it is about 110 outside and I burned my ass, legs, arms, and anything else that touched the roof. But all openings on the roof, etc are rat proof now. I'm gonna take a shower!

Too bad for "Little Chef" though....

7/19/2009

Bizarre Foods II

The crayfish I had caught on our trip to Woods Canyon Lake, had been flash frozen on dry ice. I had brought them back and kept them in my freezer until this weekend. So, after spending an exorbinate amount of money catching these little buggers,
we finally got a chance to cook them up and eat them. Here is what 11 pounds of uncooked crayfish looks like.
I fixed up 2 pots with salt, lemon juice, generic crab boil, hot chili powder and cayenne pepper.
I put 4 pounds in one pot and the rest in the other, boiled the little suckers for 10 minutes and let them sit for 15. I served them up with butter and in small batches so they would stay warm.We all had quite a bit of them, including Sean who really like the tail meat. I even sucked the heads of a couple of them, though I don't know what the big deal is, what you get out of it just taste like the water it was boiled in. It wasn't bad but it wasn't a big thrill either.
These crayfish tasted way better than the frozen ones you used to be able to get from Walmart, not fishy at all. The flavor was closer to actual Lobster than anything else. Plus Woods Canyon Lake is a very clean lake, So I'm not worried about any contamination. My attempts at purging worked very well, but some of the larger ones could have been purged a bit longer. Though the whole meal still only amounted to a lite snack.

7/13/2009

The Man, The Woman, The Lake, and the tiny little water bug things. (Vacation 2009)

07-05-2009 - After many months, Kathi and I finally get a vacation, and a chance to use our trailer for more than a day or two.

After over preparing (and packing everything you could think of) for several weeks, we loaded up the truck and trailer and left for the Aspen campground up on the Mogollon Rim. We left way earlier than we needed so the truck would be less likely to overheat hauling the trailer up the steep grades to get to the Rim (glad I got the towing package).

Kathi slept part of the way up. Since we could not check in at the campground till 2pm, we stopped at the visitors center just up on the Rim. Kathi slept in the car while I sat around and watched the piles and piles of campers leaving from the Woods Canyon lake recreation area. After a while I got board and we drove to Heber to see if my relatives Betty & Russ were at their cabin (they weren't). We stopped by Kathi's cousins cabin which was for sale for $138,000.00.

We checked in at 2pm, setup camp, and crashed for a while.
We went to sleep pretty much when the Sun went down.

07-06-2009 - I was up with the Sun (Kathi was up... and then back down again), and went down to the lake, I set my crayfish trap and also tried catching some using a small fishing pole with a large hunk of chicken on the treble hook. I caught about 5 good ones this way. A couple of hours later I went back to camp and got Kathi. We came back and I did some fishing. I didn't catch any fish but when I pulled in my trap I had 14 crayfish in it. I reset the trap and did more fishing. At one point there was a very young kid on another part of the lake that was trying to catch some minnows. We know this because his parents were trying to get him to come back to the car because they were going home. Brian (we know his name was Brian because his parents kept yelling it across the lake) was wailing and blubbering "I want to catch a minnow". This went on for some time with various family members screaming across the lake that he needed to leave and even promising ice cream, etc. There is nothing more ridiculous than a small child wandering through the mud and water of a lake up to his waist carrying a small bucket and a minnow net, blubbering the whole time that "you hate me", and repeating over and over "I want to catch a minnow". At one point he caught a minnow, then after transferring it to his bucket, he tripped and fell, spilling the minnow, prompting more wailing. Eventually he worked his way out of the lake and left, never realizing his dream of catching a minnow. Around noonish the shade was gone and it got quite warm, so we went back to camp, napped, had dinner, and returned later that day to check the trap. there were only 4 crayfish in it. I baited the trap
and threw it back in the lake.
video
Total crayfish for today 23. I began purging the crayfish at camp using a 5 gallon bucket, and an aerator powered by an inverter and a car battery.

07-07-2009 - Up again with the Sun. Froze the previous days crayfish. Went to the lake and checked the trap and there were 35 crayfish in it plus some minnows. We spent most of the day at the lake. After trying once again to catch a trout using a drop shot, and corn, I decided to try one of the minnows caught in the crayfish trap under a bobber. I finally got some nibbles, and something on the line. I reeled it in and had caught a trout. We checked and baited the trap again that night. there were 3 more in the trap. Total crayfish for today 38. I cleaned and froze the trout in the ice chest full of dry ice.
07-08-2009 - Once more up with the sun. We checked the trap and I had 48 crayfish. I did not reset the trap as it is not productive enough in the daytime. Since I was low on dry ice we drove in to Payson. We stopped at a restaurant called "Tiny's Family Restaurant". where the food was meh. We went on to the Walmart, I picked up some extra shirts, a couple of flashlight bulbs, and some minor fishing supplies. We returned and rented a boat at 10:45 trolled around the lake seeing the sites, and not catching any fish.
Kathi wanted me to take her picture but as the lake was pretty crowded an opportunity did not arise, so she took matters into her own hands.When I went to return the boat, after the first battery died, I connected the second battery. For some reason the boat was reeeeaaaallllly slow. I looked at the battery and noticed the wire on the positive terminal was smoking. It seems the positive lead had worn down to only 2 or 3 little wires. I stripped the insulation and connected the wire again. We were once again on our way at a much higher speed. We got back to camp and I took my daily shower (a trailer with a shower is awesome). I made dinner. For Kathi I cooked up the trout, and I had a Ribeye steak.Kathi also had her daily shower. Back to the lake and set my trap for the night. Although I had been charging the battery for the aerator, the voltage got too low in the middle of the night and the inverters alarm went off. It's a lot of fun freezing crayfish in the middle of the night. The moon was out and high in the sky, so I did not need a flashlight. It was absolutely, totally quite.

07-09-2009 - 4:30 am, up early to take pics..... I SAID 4:30 am up early to take pics.... Come on Robert get your ass up! So I dragged myself out of bed, and woke up Kathi. Those pics are for a later post, here are some pics using Kathi's camera.


Afterwards we checked the trap, and found more than 40 crayfish, but only 32 were keepers.
We returned to camp, charged the battery on the trailer and the one for the inverter (something I did every day). I was a bit bored and so we decided to hike along the side of the lake to the general vicinity of the off limits Eagles nest. On the way we found some very tame chipmunks, and fed them peanuts, pumpkin seeds and raisins (they did not like craisins).
video
video
Somewhere along the way we must have brushed up against either some poison ivy. I got a small rash on my right hand and Kathi got rashes above her knees. We returned to camp after picking up some calamine lotion and setting my trap. That night we did some stargazing, and Kathi got to see her first shooting star. I saw 4. We both saw a satellite or possibly the International Space Station. Then to bed.

07-10-2009 - Up with the sun to find that the trap had been pulled in and left in shallow water (by some asshole), but it did have 19 crayfish in it. At 07:40 Kathi rented a boat again and we proceeded to troll around and not catch any fish.
We did however get some pics and video of the eagle and it's nest.
video
We returned to camp for a while, showered and decided to try not catching any fish again. So off to the lake, which was very crowded. I found a shady place next to "Valium dad" and his kids, they may have been the people who messed with my trap as they asked about it. I had not brought any bait. I tried several lures and gave up.
I did catch a minnow with my net and used that as bait. I caught a crayfish accidentally with the minnow, and removed his tale (which continued to flick) and used the meat as bait. I did not even get a nibble. After a while we had to leave as a storm was coming.
We got back to camp and it started to rain. It rained for about a half an hour. So we did some packing, had dinner and went to bed. Sometime in the middle of the night I got a really bad headache. I got up and took a vicodin which helped me get back to sleep. (queue ominous music).

07-11-2009 - Woke up and I still had a really bad headache (not a migraine). I just couldn't do anything. I felt flushed, slightly woozy, but not dizzy. I thought maybe I was slightly dehydrated even though I had drank lots of water all week (in fact almost nothing but water). Kathi did most of the packing. I managed to do some. I drank 2 bottles of water and felt good enough to help complete the packing and get the trailer down, and connected to the truck. We drove to Payson even though I felt miserable. When we got to Payson I followed the signs to an urgent care and saw the doctor there. They checked my blood sugar (120), and did an EKG (normal). They pronounced that nothing was wrong except I was dehydrated or had an electrolyte imbalance. They recommended Gatorade. So we left and picked up some. I drank about a quart and felt better. The drive home was mostly uneventful if not hot, and I did worry about the truck on some of the grades. We got home, unloaded the truck and tried to relax. The total number of crayfish (weighing just under 11 pounds) was about 160 (safely in my freezer), and they only cost me about a couple hundred dollars.

I won't go into what we found in our back room when we got home....

7/07/2009

Jawbone Prime Review

For almost 2 years I have owned one of the original Aliph Jawbones. Recently I thought I had run out of the ear loops. The problem with them is that body oils or sweat causes the rubber to dissolve and the nickle plating to rub off, so you get only about 6 months out of one of them. The other problem with the original Jawbone is that it is very uncomfortable to wear after about 5 hours. So last week I ordered the new Jawbone Prime.

I got it and immediately noticed how small it is (about on half to one third the size). Supposedly you do not need an ear loop to wear one. The buds that come with it are designed to hold it in your ear without them. Well...... That is fantasy. Here is reality.

The only ear bud that would hold the device in my ear was the largest one, but it was so tight it was painful. The other buds would only work (sort of) with the help of one of the loops. I tried wearing it for about a week and gave up. Any movement of my jaw caused it to pop out of my ear. The other major problem is that because I was constantly having to mess with it I was inadvertently hanging up on people and turning the device off. There are 2 hidden buttons on it, both can be pressed accidentally buy just holding the device.

Luckily I found my last ear loop for my original Jawbone. I contacted Aliph for more and they refused to sell me any. I did find some on Amazon.com and other places. I have 2 on order. That should last me at least another year.

Aliph likes to sell the jawbone as some kind of fashion statement or jewelry, instead of selling it based on it's awesome noise canceling abilities. Personally it is not attractive, but that doesn't matter as I couldn't care less if it looked like a wad of gum shoved in my ear as long as it worked and stayed in place. I am not the only one who thinks this. check out their forums for other peoples reactions. I spoke with some people at a local phone retailer and they report that the only people who buy them are those that reasearched them and want them for their noise canceling abilities, everyone else chokes when they see the price.

Maybe in another year I will give them a try, hopefully they will get their act straightened out.

6/27/2009

Chopped Review

I usually don't critique TV shows but this one really bugs me. The Food network has a show called "Chopped" The premise is:

Take 4 chefs.
Have them make a dish.
Give them "secret" ingredients.
One of theses ingredient will be weird or just doesn't go with the other.
Have semi famous food critics critique the food.
"chop" the chef that can't make something good with the ingredients.
Repeat until only one chef is left.

This is how it really goes over.
Take 4 chefs.
Give them "secret" ingredients.
One of theses ingredient will be weird or just doesn't go with the other.
Have snarky self obsessed critics berate and belittle them unmercifully when they can't make something absolutely awesome using a crappy combinations of ingredients in a ridiculously short amount of time.
Film the loser as he/she leaves the building practically in tears.

Seriously, whats the point?

6/22/2009

Penny's in Heaven

Sometime in 1996 we acquired Penny from Marjorie. Before that she had lived with Karen, and prior to that with Kathleen in California. At one point there was a website catscan.com. where you would put your cat on a scanner and scan them, then upload the picture. Here is Penny's catscan.
Shortly after we got her she began to gain weight, so fast in fact we thought she had gotten pregnant even though Karen insisted she had been fixed. Turns out she was just eating a lot. I put her on a diet and she was only allowed to eat about 3/4 to 1 cup of food a day but did not loose an ounce of weight, even on cat diet food. At her heaviest she weighed about 15 pounds.
One of the surprising things she did was beg to be petted. Here is a video of her doing this.
video
She was still doing this up until about a week ago. She would often wake Kathi up to be fed, even though I was the one who fed her. She loved to sit on my chest and rub the back of her head on my chin. Her favorite food of all time was crab legs. Here she is pestering Kathi for some.
WANT!

About a year or so ago she started loosing weight. in the space of a few months she lost almost 10 pounds. she also became real picky about her food. so much so that we had to buy her canned cat food to get her to eat. Here she is partaking in one of her favorite activities "rolling in the dirt".
As you can probably tell she is very skinny in this picture. She loved to be outside. When ever we let her outside she would roll in the dirt, eat grass and sit either under our plum tree or under our grape vines. Now she rests forever in one of her favorite spots. This morning Kathi and I took her to the vet to be put down. Over the last several weeks she had been getting worse. She was barely eating, and could not even jump up on the couch to sit on my chest. It was so bad that sometimes the only way I could get her to eat was to chew my food and give it to her.

Last Saturday 6-21-09 was the last time she ate anything. A kingly meal for a cat. Kathi was having crab legs again and giving penny all she could eat. She must have ate at least a half a cup.

J.C. got a goopy eye last week. We cleared it up with eye drops. Sometime after that Penny got the same, but in her case she was having trouble breathing, wouldn't eat, and was barely drinking water. this morning we took her in to be put down, we thought it was best as we suspected she had a broken tooth and other problems.

The vet confirmed that she had a respiratory infection, at least one broken and abscessed tooth, and a lump on her thyroid (the reason for her weight problems). They gave her a sedative with some pain killers in it, she slowly fell asleep with Kathi and I comforting her, and then they gave her the injection to stop her heart. She went quickly, we wrapped her in one of my old t-shirts and took her home for proper burial. She will be greatly missed.

6/17/2009

Restaurant Review: La Taza De Oro Bistro (The Gold Cup)

Update: Restaurant Closed some time around 10-2009

I was informed of a really good Mexican restaurant near my house "Asi es la Vida" (This is the Life). I had been trying to have lunch there all last week but was too busy. Today I happened to go by there at lunch time, but noticed they were changing the sign. Seems they are under new ownership (oh well I will try it anyways). The interior of the restaurant is very brightly painted. However all the tables were set like you might find in a high end restaurant. I was presented with a menu by one of the servers who seemed surprised to see me there. I was asked if I wanted Chips and Guacamole (you bet I do), and a drink (Pepsi). There was not a lot of people there, a Doctor waiting on some other people, and a couple came in later.

My appetizer arrived and it was a nice mound of guacamole with the chips embedded in it, in a ring. I was also presented with 3 small bowls containing Pico De Gallo, a red chili sauce, and a green sauce (possibly a tomatillo sauce). The Guacamole and chips were very good, with just a little too much onion. The 3 sauces were all quite good (hot but not too hot). I order as my entree the Adobada described as "Fillet of Pork tenderloin with Guajillo Peppers and garlic, served with Chilaquiles, beans and rice". I got mine sans beans. While I waited, my drink was refreshed without my prompting (which is good).

When my meal arrived I was surprised as most Adobada I have had consists of chunks of slow cooked pork served in a spicy but not overly spiced red sauce (lots of red sauce). This was a thin grilled (tender) tenderloin medallion with a thin coating of the Guajillo pepper and garlic sauce. The rice looked like what you would get from a Japanese restaurant. I had never had Chilaquiles so I started with that first. The sauce was quite good and not overly spiced everything was piping hot. The rice while not colored red like most Mexican rice was really good and spicy (even with carrots, corn, and green beans in it). The vegetables in the rice were very well cooked. Finally I tried the Adobada. Wow this was really good. It kind of caught me off guard and so I looked in the direction of the severs and one came over to see what was wrong. I had to inform them that nothing was wrong it was just that the food was really good.

I finished up and got my bill. They neglect to inform you that the chips and guacamole is extra, but no matter at $3.95 it was well worth it. The Adobada was $10.00 and I did not catch the price of the drink. No matter. I highly recommend this restaurant. While this is not the Mexican food I am used to (the Americanized stuff) it is more authentic then you will find in most restaurants in Phoenix. Check it out.

3602 N. 24th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85016

5/27/2009

Hab da Pumpkin

The Long awaited sequel to Baman Piderman, Find da Sandwich:

video

5/22/2009

Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt

Behold the Glory that is the Three Wolf Moon T-shirt, Be sure to read the reviews.
You must buy one!
Pickup some Tuscan Whole milk too.

5/10/2009

Movie Review: Star Trek (The Lamest Plot)

When will hollywood learn that the quickest way to make a crappy movie is to use "Time Travel" as a plot device, and so it is that we come to the polished turd that is "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (no not that one, the new one).

While were on the subject lets throw the canon in a corner and take a massive crap on it. Then take the pieces that didn't get any shit on them and throw them back in to the movie willy nilly.

I almost didn't go to see this movie when I heard it involved time travel. I mean the instant you bring TT into a movie it is nearly impossible to reconcile the paradoxes thus created. Seriously.... Deranged miner blames Spock for the destruction of Romulus so he "ends up" going back in time and once there decides to exact revenge on Spock by destroying Vulcan and Earth. Oh yeah Spock also "ends up" going back in time 25 years after that, and mean ol' Romulan guy is waiting for him, captures him and then proceeds to destroy Vulcan (and kills Spock's mom too the big meanie), and now we have 2 Spock's in one time and some junk that makes "Black holes" called "Red Matter" (imaginative name ay! cause it's matter, and it's red... get it?), and all the history of who, how, and what is thrown out the windows (the canon). So if Romulus is destroyed what would be the point of attempting to make peace with a race who's planet will be destroyed in a supernova some time in the future? You figure out the logic (or lack thereof) behind it all.

Next up lets change some of the characters.... Like making Spock and Uhura hot for each other (what, Ohhhh!, Huh?). Wasn't it Nurse Chapel who was hot for Spock, Oh... Right she's not in this one. Oh and Uhura rooms with a green Orion slave girl with a bad body paint job (cause Starfleet needs horny oversexed controlling women in it's ranks). Well make Scotty an eccentric guy with a little alien comic relief dude for an assistant. Then there's the reckless, yet some how always right Kirk. Except Kirk was never reckless. Spock is played as a brooding know it all (borderline EMO) douche bag who flies off the handle over the slightest insult, and don't even say "yo mama" to him. Then for good measure toss in a little bit of Sulu and Chekov (just a little cause we don't know how to develop their characters). Though we will make Chekov an over reactive spaz. Then there are the Vulcan's who have suddenly become snotty eugenics types who conveniently have emotions whenever they feel like it.

Now the ships and equipment... The inside of the ships vary from hospital like sterility with a touch of art deco discotheque thrown in, to what looks like a large chemical plant , sewer plant, or maybe a brewery. The hand phasers did a silly mechanical switching from stun to kill. The giant mining ship looked like it escaped from an episode of Babylon 5. For a utilitarian device it has a lot of unnecessary nasty/evil looking spikes and protrusions all over it. I could just see some Romulan ship designer having his design rejected for not being SCARY enough "damn the cost! I want my mining ship to scare the piss out of an asteroid before I strip it of minerals". The Enterprise looked like Chihuly Thew up and out came the plans.

Okay... Enough Bashing, now to the things I did like about the movie.

The CG and special effects are top notch. The battle scenes are nice and messy, and sometimes when we are outside the ship there is no sound (just like in real space). We get to see the Enterprise maneuver more like a fighter jet then wallow around going only left and right like they did in most of the TV series.

There were some quite funny, but mostly irrelevant moments throughout the movie. There is even the gratuitous red shirt who gets killed. Doctor McCoys Character is nearly spot on, and he spouts a few of TOS cliches. We actually get to see Captain Christopher Pike do something more that go "beep" or even "beep.... Beep....". The original communicator even makes a couple of cameos.

For the most part though they might as well have made the movie about a completely different set of characters that had nothing to do with the original.

Go see it, but try not to think about it too much or you'll end up bashing it on a blog nobody ever reads (oh wait).

4/30/2009

Carlsbad Tavern Habanero Cheeseburger

The other day I picked up a copy of snoozeweek because it had a story about Star Trek. While looking for the story I happened upon an article about the 50 best hamburgers in the U.S as chosen by Bobby Flay. I don't know how they picked them, but doubt they tried "every" hamburger in "every" state (I digress). Anyways I looked to see what was the best hamburger in Arizona and they had the "Carlsbad Tavern Habanero Cheeseburger".

I have eaten at CT many times and never tried it, so today I tried it. At first I almost chickened out because the description states "This burger may cause temporary blindness or loss of hearing." But you only live once.... (twice max). While waiting for my order I noted 2 tables away an older couple in their late fifties had ordered the same thing. The waiter had come over to them and said "I told you it was hot" The guy had only take a couple of bites out of his and looked mad. The woman had eaten about half of hers. The waiter asked if they wanted a box and they said no. The woman stated that she liked spicy food but this was too spicy. They left almost all of their food. While waiting another couple sat down 1 table away and the woman wanted to order the CTHB. The waiter warned her that it was VERY HOT. She chickened out and ordered the Green chili burrito, the guy ordered something that looked like chili, but wasn't. Neither of them finished their food or took any home, leaving enough food for 2 or 3 meals.

Finally my CTHB came and I took a bight, it was hot but not anywhere near as hot as I thought it would be. Being lean ground beef it was a bit on the dry side. It came with fries and a small salad. The salad had their house dressing "jalapeƱo ranch". The fries were coated with something that made them crunchy (if it was spicy I couldn't tell). The hamburger was "meh". If you like spicy food you should try it, but otherwise it wasn't super wonderful. The waiter seemed surprised that I finished it. I overheard another waiter say that most people can only eat about half of one, then they start sweating profusely. I would say compared to the "Sun pork" I had at some Chinese Restaurant, and the "Chile Colorado" I had at Arriba's this was number 3 with the "Sun Pork" being so hot I couldn't finish it and didn't sleep all night, and The Chili Colorado being almost to hot to finish.

I have eaten at CT many times before, and of the things I have tried I would recommend the "Carlsbad Ribeye (excellent)". the "Prime rib Quesadilla (Very good)", and the "Carne Adovada plate".

Update: On a later visit I ordered the CTHC and on that occasion it was about 3 times hotter than the first time. It was so hot that I almost couldn't finish it. The next day I had serious stomach problems (repeated trips to the restroom), and a bum that looked like a Japanese flag! Eat this burger at your own peril.

4/14/2009

We didn't start the flame war

Not safe for work, Not safe for children.

3/27/2009

Purple Potatoes

Ever since the episode of Dirty Jobs that takes place on a potato farm where they grew blue, purple, and red potatoes (colored on the inside), I have wanted to try them. Since they aren't sold in any store I can find in or around Phoenix I ordered some a couple of years ago from some smug organic farm. They were seed potatoes and so were rather small. I was able to make a fair sized batch of mashed potatoes from the blue potatoes. Yes the resulting mashed potatoes were blue. The purple potatoes I ordered at the time were fingerling's and not good for much. The reds were small also. I planted them and did not get good results. Ok... I got NO results. Sure they sprouted etc. but the blistering summer heat here killed them rather quickly. Although a couple of the plants still survive so we will see. Anyways...

Several months ago Eric called me and asked if I was interested in some purple potatoes from the Pikes place market in Seattle. I said yes and he sent me 5 pounds, however... When they arrived they were in bad shape and I had to throw many of them away. the remainder I ended up planting.

Last week I found another smug organic potato farm in Maine that sells eating potatoes and ordered 10 pounds from them. I got them last week and despite the bad packaging they arrived in good shape. Why did I order them from an organic farm, well because you can't get them from anywhere else because your average mister and misses consumer thinks that a potato is white on the inside and ONLY white on the inside, any other color is either poisonous or would taste funny (whatever). Since mister and misses consumer aren't likely to buy these any time soon you won't find them in your local produce aisle. To recap my reason for ordering them is because they are blue, red, or purple, and NOT because they are organic.

SO... Here is what they look like on the outside
Not very big, and below is what this particular type looks like pealed. The ones Eric sent me were completely Purple.
Once placed in the water they immediately turned the water blue and during cooking the water turned aquamarine.
They Mashed up to a nice pastel purple.
Here they are served up with some chicken gravy and some of Alton Browns recipe for homemade Fried Chicken.
Some things to know about these Purple, Red, and Blue potatoes. They require a slightly longer cooking time (about 5 minutes longer), and they seem to have more starch in them so they will be a bit thicker. otherwise they taste exactly like.......... potatoes. Kathi said they would be great for an Easter dinner. The Blue and Red variety's make Blue and Red mashed potatoes. However I found that the Blue potatoes will be kind of gray when first mashed, then as they are exposed to the air they will turn bluish purple. The purple ones get darker purple after being exposed to the air. I have not made the Red potatoes yet.

3/25/2009

Only the Japanese!

This is supposed to take place in Vietnam. I defy anyone to find large tracks of deserts and camels in Vietnam.

3/22/2009

Luke Days 2009

Yesterday we went to Luke Air Force Base for Luke Days. March 21st and 22nd 2009. First let me say that whomever thinks that an airshow should be held in March in Arizona should be shot. To anyone out there thinking of holding an airshow in Arizona these are the only months to have one.... Ready.... got a pencil? November, December, and February. That's it. Second how is it no one had the idea to sell umbrellas at the airshow? Third, whats the point of having security, and a list of what you can and cannot bring in, then completely ignoring said list (sometimes).

So it began:

I wanted to get there before 9am but I guess not (I'm not bitter). Anyways we got there about 9:30, there was a mile long line to get into the parking lot. While waiting in this line we caught up with the line to get into the base and we let Mike and Daniel out to hold our place, while Chris and I parked the vehicle. Once we parked the car we found Mike and Daniel. These 2 OLD people behind us had a fit because they thought we cut in line. It mattered not to them that we explained that we all arrived at the same time and that Mike and Daniel were holding our place. The said they made their own family go to the back of the line (dumb assess). The old people failed to notice that other people up ahead were doing the same and their sacrificing their family was in vain. The line continued to grow and folded back on itself twice to the point that it was about 3 miles long. We did not get to the gate till around 11:00 (the airshow started at 10:45). The security screening was a joke. They funneled everyone through 4 lines, the 2 lines on the left were for people with bags. Seriously they should have had at least 2 gates open. The 2 bitchy old people didn't bring anything so they got in before us anyways (dumb asses). Backpacks supposedly weren't allowed in, yet they allowed people in with them. They spent all of 5 seconds looking in my camera bag and did not even look under the stuff on top (who knows what I might of been hiding in there). When we went to the airshow at Goodyear airport in 2006 there were dogs sniffing everything (but not this time). I do have to admit that the probulator mark 6 is less painful than the mark 5 or 4 (they chafe). Once inside we made a beeline for the flightline and found a spot right up to the fence. I later learned some people waited over 2 hours to get in to the parking lot only to give up and leave.

First thing we did was setup our chairs and (those of us who brought them) umbrellas. I then drank a liter of water. Chris set out to find an umbrella and buy some food and more water. I gave Daniel a Radio released his bonds and he ran off to take pictures of any and all airplanes he could find, as well as climb in as many as he could.

Before the F-22 Raptor was to fly Daniel came back with some Chicken Tenders and french fries. We watched the Raptor fly, which was awesome (way... way... better than the Thunderbirds), but just before it was supposed to join up with the P-51D, P-47, and A-10 for the heritage flybys I heard the pilot report a failure with the hydraulics, and it had to land early.

The remainder of the airshow was standard stuff (except for an aerobatic Helicopter). We all were quite hot. Daniel kept trying to steal my shade. This group of Chinese guys who were near us disappeared for a while, except for one who fell asleep. They returned for the Thunderbirds. During the Thunderbirds they sounded like a pack of paparazzi photographing Paris Hilton's Merkin.

For some reason all through the show someone saw fit to interrupt it constantly by running large buses back and forth right in front of the spectators. And I am not sure what this dudes job was but he was sure in a hurry to do it.
This was the first airshow I have been to at Luke that they had actual "armed" guards everywhere. Really?!?! Oooh I felt so safe. I'd like to write more about the airshow but it was too damn hot and too damn crowded to see any more.

So here are some pics.
Oh... One more thing. Redbull your drink sucks, and covering every cool looking aircraft in the show with your crappy logo sucks the big green one. Same goes for you too Geico.

I'd like to thank the following:
DiHydrogenMonoxide.
The people at Quantaray/Sigma for making a crappy zoom lens (90% of my pictures are blurry).
Luke Air Force Base for their ambiguous, silly, and un-enforced security rules.
My good friend hydrocodone (for my back) without you I would not have made it through the day.