Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Phone - Successful Synching

I got the new phone today. Spent an hour figuring what was the best new plan. Couldn't move any data over so maybe the problem was the phone itself. Got home - wouldn't synch. Figured out I don't have the latest version of the synching software. Downloaded and installed it. Got everything synched.

Hoping for pictures tonight of Lasagna making with Agent W and Gaius Derf.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blog Block

I've had at least 4 really good posts in my head over the last week and none of them have made it as far as my even having opened up blogger :(

I think the fact that three of them were cooking related and I'm not picture enabled at the moment had a lot to do with it.

But I'm going out to get a new phone tomorrow so hopefully that problem will be resolved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

That Big L on the Map Would be New Mexico

If you happened to be up around 7 AM Mountain (6 Pacific, 7 Central, 8 Eastern, 7:38 Erie County,PA time) and were looking at the Weather Channel site you would have noticed this big ole L on the U.S. map on the lower part of the map with a blob of white and pink around it.

That would be New Mexico where we are having snow today. People think of us as Phoenix but we are a lot higher in altitude. The further north you get the more mountainous it is and the more likely to have snow.

But at least here in Albuquerque we have a pretty good attitude toward. We just stay inside until it melts. Usually that's within 4 to 6 hours of the end of a storm. I'm glad no one is flying in to see us today.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Waving the White Flag

In my latest attempt to get my cell phone/PDA to sync again with my computer, I followed the advice of the T-Mobile technicians and went the Microsoft's website for Windows Mobile where I found reams and reams of information including suggestions for fixing synching problems...all of which I had already tried.

What I did not find was any, and I mean any, way of communicating with them directly. No phone number, email contact, help inquiry form, nothing, nada.

So I spent an hour or so researching new smart phones.

In spite of my having truly put in the effort to try and fix this problem, I'm going to have to punt and get a new device.

Not happy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cell Phone Woes

There's fabulous sunset tonight that I'd love to share with you. I'm going to be cooking this totally from scratch kick ass Asian Crab Salad that I'd love to show you pictures of.

But I can't

Because I still can't get my phone to sync with my computer. Today, I finally got time to call T-Mobile. Great guy (thanks Freddie). We tried a bunch of stuff. He confirmed a bunch of stuff I did earlier was correct. The's not my synching software and its not the device. It has to be the Windows Mobile software on the phone. So I need to go to Microsoft and see if I can find the answer there.

Mike in St. Louis, why aren't you in my neighborhood to fix my IT problems? I'd cook for you and ply you with good wine.

Or maybe the dark side will take over and I'll just by another device (noooooooooo)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Effect of Circumstances on Experience

It is a well known phenomenon that our perception of enjoyment is influenced by the circumstances we are in. I was reminded of this drinking a beer today.

What were the circumstances?

I am just short or meeting my quota for frequent flier status on both of the airlines I fly on regularly. DREADFUL! To combat this, I organized a few days of intense flying. Today after meetings in the morning I did a flight and back from Albuquerque to Denver. That only took the afternoon. And now I'm catching a flight to Monterey California where I will do a meeting before coming back on Thu. And I will cap it off with jog back and forth to Phoenix on Sunday. All requirements taken care of.

So both the flights I'm on to and from Denver are really, really hot. I need to grab a bite to eat in Albuquerque and get a sandwich with a beer. Nice big frosty beer. It's been a long day (first meeting started at 7). Hot airplane cabins filled with people. Man that beer (Newcastle for those who care) was GOOOOD!

Was it better than any other Newcastle I've ever had? Don't know but it was great today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

I've been a bad blogger. Work has picked up substantially (which is a very, very, very good thing...think $'s coming in...very good, yes, very good) so I'm into the 10-12 hour a day routine. No complaints on my end after a very slow period but it doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging.

On top of that my cell phone will no longer connect to my computer so I can download pictures. There goes all the cooking demos with pictures which is my usual means of dealing with blog block (picture is worth a thousand words right!). This is too bad because I've done some interesting cooking recently.

Hopefully, as we move into the holiday weeks, I will have a bit more time.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's That Time of the Year

No, no, no. Not the Holiday Season. What were you thinking.


We know this because we got a communique from Agent W that once again Aimee the Huntress has started off the season by putting the Suzuki of Mass Destruction into overdrive with three kills already to her credit! Two possums and chipmunk to date.

The de-I Roadkill Challenge gives all of you who wish to turn your autos into vehicles of extinction a chance to confirm our position as the apex predator in the ecosystem (at least until we extinct ourselves). The Roadkill season goes from November to March. Who ever succeeds in dispatching of the most non-sentient life forms in the course of their normal driving patterns (no off road driving executions are accepted) is the winner.

The reward for the winner is a dinner based entirely on the kills of the winner. Last year we feasted on venison, raccoon stew, and squirrel pie.

Ladies and Gentlemen - start your engines.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Healthcare Debate Rationality... something that seems to be practically non-existent. However, if you'd like to read something that is non-histrionic, apolitical, polemic free, and rational, I strongly advise you read this post from a fellow blogger.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Letter to Santa Claus

Granddaughter Y showed me her letter to Santa Claus and I asked her to put a post-script in it for stuff I wanted. She said no way. If wanted to write Santa I needed to do so myself. Therefore...

Dear Santa:

I have been a very good guy this year. I sleep on the sofa when Wife tells me I'm snoring. I traveled to Chicago to cook Thanksgiving dinner for Motherrocker. I performed baby bed duties for newborn A and even changed one diaper. I regularly give my friends lots of alcohol to drink.

I would like 4 ounces of real Russian mallasol beluga caviar, one each large white and black truffle, a real French goose fois gras and a bottle of vintage champagne at least 20 years old.

I know this may be a bit on the extravagant side but I've never written before so I assume my account with accrued interest is pretty substantial.



Monday, November 23, 2009

40 Wonderful Hours in Albuquerque

Actually it was get home from CT Sunday at 10:30 (that meant catching a 6 AM flight out of CT). Do laundry, go through all the mail, do the accounting, etc.

Then today I had six meetings. Got home at 6 PM. Got the mail, did the accounting. Now I'm getting packed so I can catch my 7:15 flight to Chicago tomorrow.

Psst don't tell Motherrocker but I'm really there under cover and on Saturday am going to spring her and repatriate her back to New Mexico.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Connecticut UConn Huskies...

...symbol of might to the foe...

(UConn beat Notre Dame in football last night)

...fight, fight Connecticut...

(In South Bend!)

...its victory let's go...

(Charlie Weis at the end of the game looks like he's walking to the guillotine)

...Connecticut UConn Huskies...

(How come I don't know any Notre Dame graduates?0

...victory again for the white and blue...

(If you know any you'd like to kick while they're down just send their emails to me) GO, GO, GO, GO Connecticut, Connecticut U!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quick Post from the East Coast

I'm doing my quarterly visit to Father O-I. Things are a lot calmer than when I was here last time just after his house fire. He's not ecstatic in his temporary digs but at least there is stability. I continue to be amazed at the growing relationship between my sister and him. She's doing more and more for him and gaining more responsibility as a result. She's getting her long held wish to be an accepted member of his life. Amazing.

I'm just happy to be of help and have a good relationship which as I've written numerous times in the past was never to be expected earlier in life.

Very grateful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

In-Law Envy

I was with a couple of my friends this weekend - a rare guys night together - and the two of them were bemoaning the status of various in-laws, a son-in-law and daughter-in-law respectively. Much was said about what was happening and not happening and their frustrations being far away and not really being able to influence what was going on.

I was left out in the cold. My two son-in-laws have pretty much left me out in the cold. They're responsible. Good parents. Good husbands. Deal with life's challenges. What a bore. How I suppose to join the bitch fest?

Totally irresponsible if you ask me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The de-I Portable Grandbaby Bed

Mandatory Reading for the Married or Soon to be Married Set

I'm back in Albuquerque International Sunport and I WILL get on this flight and make my way to Chicago. There I will link up with Wife, and see newest grandson with Motherrocker and John the Armenian.

Also in the news youngest daughter AinA is now engaged and scheduled to be wed in France! All other travel this year has been canceled and attentions refocused.

AinA posted a link to this article from the New York Times. This is absolutely mandatory reading if you are married or going to be married.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Not a Good Start

Get up at 4:15 to catch my 6:15 flight. Get there - the flight has a mechanical problem. Minimum delay is 1 hour probably more. I won't get my connection. Later flight gets me there too late for meeting. They will patch me by phone but it's going to cost me a lot of billable hours.

Hope this is not a harbinger of the rest of the travel agenda.

Doing the Traveling Thing Again

At least once a quarter it seems that the confluence of unrelated business and family requirements leads to a whacked out period of travel. Hence the next two weeks.

Today - one day trip to Southern California (leave at 5 AM come home about Midnight)
Sunday - On to Chicago
Wed - To Connecticut
Sunday - Back to Albuquerque
Tue - Back to Chicago
Sat - Back to Albuquerque

De-I, keeping the air travel system solvent.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Far Would One Go

You know that I travel a fair amount. Between my offices in Chicago and LA that I visit once a month, my kids who are all over the freaking country and the world, my Dad in Connecticut, and Wife and my love of travel for ourselves, it adds up.

I've also written about how important holding a high frequent flier status is for ensuring more comfort and especially protecting you when things go wrong with the air travel system (I know that's a shocker that things ever go wrong with the air travel system).

So a few weeks ago I was reviewing my statements on my primary carriers, United and USAir and I find out I'm up shits creek! I'm not even close to getting my status again. All the cost cutting during the first part of the year has come back to haunt me. What am I going to do.

USAir turns out to not be such a hard one. They're hurting and they need their loyal passengers so they have a promo that allows me to make 3 flights and I get enough segments to keep me in the program.

United is the bigger issue. It's my carrier for all my long trips. And we use those miles for all our big vacations. The business class seats we got to New Zealand were worth many, many, many thousands of dollars. So I don't want to lose this but I'm way short on segments and over 10 thousand miles short on actual miles (you usually can qualify be hitting a target of either segments or miles).

So my brain is working. How can I arrange a trip where I pack in 10 thousand miles of travel in a few days and not cost me a fortune.

I start by researching going from Albuquerque to the West Coast to the East Coast and back. Not enough miles. The US is all that big. I'd have to go West, East, West and back or something like that. Then I'd have to start paying for a place to stay a couple of nights. And all those flights - what if I hit bad weather?

Next I looked at flying to Hawaii. I could crash with my brother there. But it was pretty pricey and I still didn't get enough miles.

Then I thought about going to Amsterdam and crashing with daughter AinA. I found I could get some really good prices - around $900 bucks. Of course the thought of flying 20+ hours both way in coach with a day off in between wasn't very attractive but what the hey, it would be a small sacrifice to remain among the ranks of the exalted and get those miles for our next travel extravaganza.

I mention my plan to Wife who is very good at doing her eye rolling and deep sighing internally. She says, "Have you called the airline? Maybe there is way for you to buy the miles you need and then you wouldn't have to kill yourself like this."

I doubt this but decide it can't hurt. I call the United. United may be a dysfunctional company but almost all the agents serving their frequent fliers tend to be really pleasant, good, and helpful. The agent I get confirms that you cannot buy miles. We're having a very pleasant conversation. She confirms that I'm no more nutty than most of the frequent fliers and it is common for us to be scrambling at the end of the year.

She checks my account and tells me that I've missed some promotion they started in September that gives double mile credit from 9/15 5o 12/15. She puts me on the promotion and tells me it will be retroactive. We calculate the mile I've flow to date plus the miles I'm scheduled to fly and BINGO I'm 55o miles over the 50K target. How cool is that. Thanks Wife.

It would have been nice to see AinA and here husband to be though.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Being Alone

Wife went to Chicago early Friday morning as daughter, Motherrocker, is really close to giving birth to her second child (our fifth grandchild). This is a week earlier than we expected so we were scrambling to figure our how to take care of everything as Wife will now be gone for the entire month of November.

This means a lot of time alone for me. And that's OK. Because it has come to my awareness in recent weeks that I really like being alone. With all the travel I've done over the decades for business by myself, I really got used to it. And as I've gotten older my desires for quiet and solitude have increased.

I never really thought about this too much until few weeks ago when I was having a business lunch with two young lawyers. They were talking about going to Las Vegas and the games they like playing there. When they asked me what I liked, I had to tell them that I don't like Las Vegas because I can't stand all the noise and the people. And I mentioned that I'm pretty much a hermit and love being alone. I might as well said I was cannibal. People are social creatures. Look at all the people that love going to parties, or bars, or shows, or sporting events. I avoid them all. Too many people.

Is it really all that odd? I suppose so.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Slow Roasting

On our trip to New Zealand our last meal featured this awesome lamb dish. When restaurateur told me the cooking process, I was intrigued because I've never heard of it before. It is essentially cooking something very, very slowly over a long period and then finishing it in a very, very hot oven. The result gives you an exterior that is crispy but an interior that is like something that has been braised.

I played around with it for the first time with a pork shoulder (Boston Butt) last week and got good results. This week I attempted a chicken and a vegetable dish.

I started with a simple flavoring mix of salt, pepper and Hungarian Paprika

Put your bird into a large, heavy pot

Rub with your spice mixture.
Note I've turned the bird upside down.
It will give off fluid and I want the white meat that dries out to stay moist.
Add a little bit of fluid...not much at all. I used white wine.

Cover firmly with foil

Then put on the top.
This double seal is important to keep in all the moisture.

Cook in a 285 degree oven...that's right 285
The chicken only took 3 hours. My pork roast which was about 4 pounds took 6 hours.
Let the chicken cool in the fluid (breast moisturizing)
Then take it out and let it cool.
(I'm not sure this part was necessary but I was making it ahead of time)

Then cut into pieces.
I nuked the pieces for three minutes just to bring them up to heat.
I put the pieces, skin side up, in a pan that could take high heat.
That's heavy duty aluminum foil with plenty of Pam - No cleaning when done!
Finish the cooking at 500 degrees for about 20 minutes until the skin is good and crisp!

Did the same exact process with potatoes and leeks (one of the last things harvested from Wife's garden)

Leeks have a lot of sand in them so you clean them like the chard I explained last time.
Put them in water, agitate, the lift out of water into strainer. Repeat until water left no longer shows sand.

Into the pan with just salt, pepper and a little canned chicken broth.

Cook exactly like the chicken - 285 for three hours

Here's what it looks like at the end.
The leeks which were very tough came out soft and wonderful.

Finish the same way at 500 degrees. The leeks start browning and getting very caramelized.

Don't waste those giblets!
Put them in with the leftover canned chicken stock.
Simmer for an hour or so and you have the base for a sauce.

This sauce was just the stock from the giblets, a little of the juice from chicken cooking reduced with a little sherry and half & half.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Beauty is Where You Find It

I was in Pasadena California on business and woke up very early on Friday morning. I drew back the window coverings and had a chance to watch this spectacular sunrise.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Two Dishes to Try

We had guests over for dinner on Sunday and I wanted to try something different and came up with a couple of ideas based upon stuff I'd done before or seen on TV with some alterations.

The first was a fish pate and the second was a gratin of swiss chard.


This is all about making use of what you have hanging around because I made it from with the leftover fish I had from a whole baked fish with a parsley garlic oil that I made for Wife the night before.

Leftover fish

Anyone who made some simple fish fillets and had leftovers could do the same thing (though probably not if they were battered).

I didn't have quite enough fish so I cooked up some frozen shrimp with the same olive oil, garlic and parsley flavoring and then added the leftover fish to meld the flavors.

Fish and shrimp warming up in flavored oil
All you do next is put the whole thing in a food processor and blend with a little half and half.

Blended fish and shrimp
I added some finely chopped onions soaked in water to get rid of the sharpness and put it into a serving container.

Finished product
Served it with french bread and tortilla chips as a nosh before the sit down meal started


I like making mini portions of things to serve as a first course because it allows for portion control. I like working with vegetables because you can be lighter and save room for the main course. I especially like Swiss Chard. It has a lot of positives of spinach with less of the negatives. It's a bit firmer. Less bitter.

Processing any of the greens is a bit of a pain.

First you wash them real well to get rid of any dirt

With Chard you need to separate the stems and the leaves because the stems have to cook longer
Parboil the stems in a big pot of water for about 4 minutes then add the leaves and boil for another 4 minutes. Drain. Then put into a big bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain again. Grab handfuls and squeeze out the water. Then chop it up.

This is what you end up with
Make simple cheese sauce by making a roux of flour and butter, whisking in milk, then adding small pieces of cheese - the cheese choice is yours. I like fancy schmancy cheeses but to be honest I'm sure a good quality cheddar would be just fine. Put your Chard into a large bowl and add enough of the cheese sauce so when you taste it it has a nice flavor but is not all soupy. Put it into little oven proof ramekins - in this case these are creme brulee dishes.

Sprinkle with some bread crumbs and olive oil

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Wonderful Realization

New Zealand was a fabulous place. So much beauty.

We're back home now and into our day-to-day life. Always tough to get back to real life when you've had a great vacation right?

But as I have been going around town here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I've looked at our mountains, our vistas, our beautiful clear blue skies, our fantastic weather. And I've looked at the beautiful house we created for ourselves. And I came to this realization. Yes there are beautiful, beautiful places out there like New Zealand. And yes there are lots of lovely, wonderful houses with views and everything out there.

But every day I actually live in one of those beautiful places and get to live out my daily life in it. I live in one of those beautiful houses with vistas and views and everything.

How cool is that?

How wonderfully fortunate am I?

And I feel very grateful indeed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blogged Out

After all the intense blogging of the three weeks in New Zealand, I find that I am just not getting to the ole posting page with alacrity. I like to blame it on work and the time I need to focus on that. And I certainly have had things that I would normally write about. But the truth is I think I'm just a little burnt out. I'm sure I'll be fine in a few more days.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Camera Sherpa and the Photogarpher


Purpose of the Camera Sherpa is:

To facilitate the photographers desire to achieve their true artistic goals by fulfilling the mundane activities a photographer needs done to physically take pictures

such that the photographer overcomes obstacles inherent to any photographic effort that are preventing them from achieving their true personal goals,

so that the photographer is able to accomplish their artistic goals and a satisfied photographic experience results.

Camera Sherpa Functions:

  • Be responsible for the transport of all camera gear whether my mechanical device or by bodily transport
  • Assist in the setting up and take down of gear as appropriate
  • Be prepared to protect photographer and equipment from elements
  • Provide food and shelter for the photographer
  • Provide reconnaissance for all potential places to ‘pull of the road’ in order to ‘catch the shot’
  • Research all meteorological information so the photographer can adjust the itinerary as appropriate to have the best light
  • Be aware and make suggestions of potential shots – keeping in mind your position and never forgetting who is the artist

Three Weeks in New Zealand Seen Through the Photographer

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Final NZ Foodie Post

For our last meal, I asked our B&B host to recommend a restaurant that had excellent lamb for me and excellent fish for Wife. She made a reservation for us at a Pedro's, a Spanish restaurant.

We started with seafood appetizers - for once modest sized portions appropriate for just tempting the appetite. I went with their version of small eels which is the whitebait I've tried in omelets twice before. Wife does garlic shrimp. They do the whitebait in the same manner. The shrimp were excellent. I'm not sure what the huge uproar is over whitebait. Just doesn't seem to have much flavor to me.

Whitebait in Oil and Garlic

Garlic Prawns

Then we went on to the main courses. Wife had a filet of hake. It was very good but after our meal at Fleur's Place it was just a little less. The lamb I had was a whole roasted shoulder. It was HUGE...and DELICIOUS!

It was very different from other lamb preparations. Since I live safely a hemisphere away, he gave me the recipe. You cook the lamb at a low temperature with a few herbs, garlic, olive oil and white wine for a long time - 5 hours or so. Then you finish it in a 500 degree oven for about 20 minutes to give it an extremely crispy crust. The result is a lamb that is tender like a pot roast surrounded by a crispy exterior. It was addictive.

Filet 'o' Hake

Lamb Extrordinare!

Because of driving and our different dishes we were drinking wine by the glass. For the lamb our waiter told me to leave the selection to him. He chose a syrah from Hawkes Bay that had a great nose - almost like a cabernet - but that characteristic dryness I've come to enjoy with New Zealand wines.

It was a great end to our dining in New Zealand.