Saturday, September 24, 2016

Call To Arms

We have received the command.

As commander of record of the Eldership de-Intimidator, you are requested and required to assemble your crew for departure star date 20160928. Your mission, should you chose to accept it (understanding that you really don't have any choice at all in agreeing to accept it) will be a part exploration and part showing the ElderFleet Command flag to existing contacts. Details forth coming.

As is the case with all our missions, ElderFleet Command does not actually ever provide a full ship's compliment. Command staff is expected to recruit, or in extreme cases use a press gang, to find staff. First Officer Wife and I, knowing that ElderFleet Command provides no money for staffing, gave up on trying to recruit staff long ago. Sadly, our efforts to press people onto our ship also have not worked well. I suspect this may be due to the fact that either 1) the desirable potential crew are substantially younger and faster than us and pretty much laugh at our efforts to catch them, or 2) the crew that we could catch is even older and more decrepit than ourselves and would require taking care of them rather than take care of us.

The answer of course is for First Officer Wife and I to fill all the jobs on the Eldership ourselves (something we've become quite adept at), put various versions of our names in each of the positions, and collect all the pay that accrues to those positions. Thank goodness Wife is a top notch accountant and can make all these moves look pretty opaque. It does allow us to run a kitchen on the Eldership that meets my culinary standards.

We are running around taking care of all our provisioning and expect to be ready on time for our scheduled departure.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Long Trek Home After A Puzzling Conclusion

We came back to the big ABQ yesterday after our lovely week with family and others on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (aka as the OBX to those in the know much like the town we were in, Corolla, is pronounced CA-row-la).

We left a day early, Saturday, because we thought every one would be heading out on Sunday, plus the airfare was much cheaper. But it was still a bitch to get off of the Outer Banks. It took us 45 minutes to go 7 mile (it's just a single lane road until you cross over a bridge to the mainland. Then there were numerous other traffic delays so what took us 2 hours to get out took us almost 3 to get back. 

Then we had the joy of flying on the micro sized regional jets to get home. Actually if you want to make a CRJ 700 feel like total luxury (our plane from Houston to ABQ), fly a 3 hour flight on an Embraer 145, quite possibly the most uncomfortable plane I have ever flown on (and I have flown the ER 145 many times unfortunately).

All totaled from portal to portal it was a 12 hour trip...Booooo!

BUT, for all who are wondering, before we left there was the frantic last effort by Team Puzzle to put their 1000 piece over the top.

One of the key members of Team Puzzle had to leave early so only two of the three stalwarts were left to push the effort to completion.

The Final Push

A Job Well Done
And on to Happy Hour

Friday, September 16, 2016

Family Non-Trip In Photos

In Ohio
 Even our Wife's family has been infected with de-I clan food obsession.
 Wife's Bro as the Waffle Master
 Wife took charge of bacon to ensure some was to her liking.
A lovely picture of my SiL but in all honesty this burger represented everything I don't like about American food culture.
The general environs of the house my brother rented.
We an 20,000 of our closest vacationing friends

How long does it take to learn how to work the microwave?
Evidently 10 minutes
Beginning the 1000 piece puzzle early in the week
Enjoying the pool - de riguer
Our official grill man - the nephew-in-law in his happy space

The puzzle continues

Food? Duh?
My Southeast Asian Meal with Cambodian Amok, Thai Curry, and Malay Beef Rendang
My super awesome cooking nieces
Carving an entire ribeye into steaks

While the puzzle continues
Wife and I head to Historic Corolla
Historic lighthouse
Historic outhouse
Historic photographer
The puzzle never ends
I'm sure when you travel to rentals and bring 'just the essential' cooking implements that includes as my nieces said, their sous-vide machine.

Steak night
While the puzzle continues
And the sky is finished

Monday, September 12, 2016

How To Get People Really Mad

We're currently in Corola North Caroline. This was preceded by a stop in Homerville Ohio. I know you think de-I is barnstorming the 'states in play' for his nascent Emperor of the Universe campaign.

But no we're on a visit to family. My brother has rented this humongous house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The recent tropical storm did not effect things too badly and their doesn't seem to be anything else coming up that will spoil things. This was a great opportunity to see my brother, sister-in-law, my two grown nieces and nephew-in-law. And as we were on our way east we decided to stop in and see Wife's older brother and his wife.

We had a real nice time in Ohio. The brother and sister-in-law read extensively so we had all kinds of deep conversations. They also live in the country in an Amish area where all kinds of food stuffs just seem to be so tasty. It's probably all my imagination.

Before we left, I was telling a number of people about doing this as I have a business things that need to be coordinated when I come back. They all said "that sounds like such a nice trip you're going to be taking."

I replied, "Oh this isn't really a trip. It's only 10 days long. We don't really call something a trip unless it's at least 3 weeks to a month."

I learned this type of comment does not endear you to many people.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Dinner or How I Knocked Many Things Off My Bucket List

Funny as in 'not normal' as opposed to 'ha, ha'.

Last Sunday we had friends Dr. Debbie and Cabinet Lady (I need to change their blog names as one has retired and the other is soon to) over for dinner. They had never made polenta from scratch and I was showing them how.

On the Thursday prior I had gotten a flu shot. I had no reaction to it to speak of until Saturday night when I felt I was coming down with something. On Sunday I had a full fledged upper respiratory infection, as if I had caught the flu.

We were plating everything up and coming to the table (it was around 6:30 PM) and I suddenly felt very ill like I was going to throw up. I dashed to our master bathroom. Nothing was going to come up but I was suddenly shaking like I was freezing to death, was terribly cold and my breathing was labored to the point of being hard to even function. I managed to get on a vest for warmth and went back to the kitchen and announced, "Something weird is going on!"

I collapsed on the living room sofa and Wife and the two ladies jumped to my assistance. Wife was very calm. They got blankets plied on me. They tell me my lips were blue. Every muscle seemed to be spasming. My upper thighs were going so bad the pain was agony. During all this mentally I was very lucid. I tried to use yogic techniques to slow my breathing but I had no control over my physical functions. So you are in this bizarre space of mentally being alert and aware while being totally helpless as your body flails around and gasps for breath.

Wife called 911. During the call she mentioned that I had recently been diagnosed with asthma. the operator asked if I had an inhaler. I was able to direct them to where mine was. They sent the paramedics to the house. Within 10 minutes or so of using the inhaler, my breathing started to calm down as did the spasms.

The paramedics arrived...9 of them! I guess it was the slowest day ever in violent Albuquerque and they were bored out of their mind. Either that or they get a bonus if they arrive there first. I was clearly improving but we made the call to go to the emergency room. By the time I got there I was feeling substantially better and all metrics were improving. Within an hour and a half of arriving, I was pretty much normal They were most concerned with how the episode had affected my heart so they had me stick around for another four hours so they could do another EKG and look for markers in my blood.

We (a crotchety old male nurse and I) convinced Wife to go home and wait until the tests were over.  This 1)  got her out of sitting for hours in a freezing ER room in an uncomfortable chair and 2) allowed me to get some sleep as I was no longer guilty about Wife being freezing in the uncomfortable chair.

By 2:00 AM the tests had been done and everyone was happy to let me go. It took another couple of days to get back to feeling fully okay after all the trauma.

So what caused this?

We don't know. We have three different theories offered by three different healthcare professionals.

Theory One (the ER doctor) - Taking the flu shot caused me to either get a viral infection or aggravate one I already had. The combination of infection, flu shot and asthma caused this reaction.

Theory Two (the Pharmacist) - Said the flu vaccine had dead viruses in it so can't cause you to get the flu. He thinks I have an allergy to some protein in the flu vaccine and therefore suffered an allergic reaction.

Theory Three (my Doctor) - She feels something triggered an asthmatic attack. That can in turn trigger a massive surge in adrenaline causing the spasms.

Theory Three would explain as well why as soon as the inhaler took affect I started to get better. I have problems with the other two because why would it take so long (three days after I had the shot) for some reaction to occur related to it?

In conclusion we don't really know more that we did before BUT we are starting a process of asthma control which is about the best one can do. I am, however, very happy that I can now take a number of things off of my life experience list.
  • Be a 911 Patient - On the whole an interesting experience seeing the whole thing unfold from the patient side of things. Don't need to do it again. Thanks for the opportunity
  • Go on the Ambulance Ride to the ER as a Patient - Again interesting but not necessary to be repeated
  • Go to the ER - As bad as every says it is (in terms of the waiting around, not the quality of the care though they forgot to tell me they were holding me for the four hours until we were an hour into the wait). Definitely not interested in repeating.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Don't Believe In The Bermuda Triangle Eh?

Son-in-law 3A dubbed The Tower as 'The Bermuda Triangle of Technology' upon observation of the many issues Wife and I have with technology that cause those in the tech support industry to start their work with the words, "Hmm, I've never seen that before!"

We're on our way east for a short trip to see various family members. (In the de-I travel world anything under two weeks barely even qualifies as traveling at all!). As this just precedes one of our major trips there was lots of stuff that had be done before we left. And as usual the Bermuda Triangle was up to its usual tricks of mischief. To whit:

  • Our irrigation controller decided that it was not going to accept any programing no matter how many times Wife reset it. 
  • She arranges for some one to come and replace it. They are to call her to let them know when they are arriving. Her cell phone dies.
  • In the middle of the day suddenly every email I send through my Outlook bounces back as having spam content. 
  • I call my ISP. In the middle of the call our less than 6 month old phone system stops accepting any outgoing data - voice, keyed in data. 
  • I have to call back using my cell phone and start all over again. 
  • The problem with the ISP is not resolved
Welcome to the Bermuda Triangle

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cooking Up A Storm

I may have given up 'Entertainment Performance Cooking' but that doesn't mean that I've given up cooking. In fact in some respects I'm cooking as much as ever especially as it concerns making things for later use.

The last two weekends have been jammed backed with food processing. Last weekend was all things chile. This broke down into the roasting of fresh chiles from the garden and the processing of red chiles that had been harvested and dehydrated in the past into condiments.

I may have mentioned in the recent past that in spite of some crazy weather my tomatoes, chiles and herbs did fantastic. Not that I get any credit for that since Wife does all the garden maintenance.

When the weather finally got wetter, it seemed that the chile was going to rot before it got red so I decided to do the traditional New Mexican Green Chile Roasting

 After they are roasted, you let them cool and then peel and seed...AN INCREDIBLE BITCH OF A JOB! It took me hours and my hands were burning for hours afterward. The chile is also pretty darn hot BUT it has a very good flavor.

Then it was on to the Red Chile Condiments.
I love two of them.
Harissa - from North Africa, I use it on sandwiches, on eggs, I put it into soups and stews to give them a kick.
Sambal - I make a Malay version and I use it with all kinds of the other Southeast Asian curry pastes I make and with fried rice especially

The recipes for these call for you to combine the ingredients, then blend to a paste. They don't tell you anything about getting rid of the skins that are on the chiles. I solved the problem this year by processing all the red chile into a paste and then making the condiments

Red Chiles soaking
 Ground up chile with all the skins on the left and then the nice smooth silky skinless paste on the right

This weekend I was processing smoked meat and making Southeast Curry Pastes

I have been on a quest for making pulled pork. I'm getting very good with the smoker as far as getting the right flavor balance. Essentially what I do is for all large cuts of meat, I brine them with the BBQ rub spices in the brine and no rub on the meat when it goes in the smoker. For thinner cuts of meat, I use the rub only but let the rub sit on the meat overnight before I smoke.

As the smoker doesn't work well in cold weather and with another big trip coming up and the fact that once you turn the smoker on you use the same amount of energy whether you do one piece or you fill the thing up, I decided to go whole hog (ha, ha, pun intended) and fill it up. I had 15 pounds of pork shoulder for the pulled pork and two full racks of spare ribs (I like them better than the baby back ribs)

To get the meat to right internal temperature for it to 'pull' easily, you have to smoke it for around 12 to 13 hours. So I was up at 4:00 AM to start the smoker and get up to temperature and had the shoulders on at 5:30 AM. The ribs take about 7 hours so they went on at 11 AM. I've learned to add an hour to all the estimates of the times I've found on line. The results were really spectacular (he says with extreme modesty).

Meat at the end of the smoking process

One plate of smoked meats and sides
These meats freeze really well. The ribs in particular, we can just take out a couple each, let them defrost for a couple of hours and then heat them up in the microwave.

The last thing I did was make Malay and Cambodian Curry Pastes. The bugaboo here as been getting these to be smooth. Going on line, everyone says that the food processor just doesn't do it. You end up with a grainy product and the flavors don't amalgamate well. But if you try to do it the old fashioned way of pounding everything in a mortar and pestle it takes for ever and it still is hard to get all those hard roots (ginger, galangal, tumeric, garlic, shallots) to become a paste. So what I did this time is grated every thing first. Since a lot of ingredients were in the freezer, I by accident found that they grate much easier (especially the lemongrass) if they are frozen. The result were my best textured curry pastes yet. 
(Sorry no pictures)