Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Now This is Easy!

OK, let's say you're a young guy. Your hard working. Maybe you have this great girl friend who you've unwittingly nearly given a a concussion during a bad dream incident. And you say, "I need to make this up to her by cooking her a great meal." But you don't know squat about cooking. And you want to keep your daily calorie content to around 1300 a day. What to do!

You go to de-I's blog for great, easy, easy, low calorie meals, of course.

This is a meal that requires virtually no clean up and a guarantee that anyone can do this. The meal is entirely cooked in a 425 degree oven. The key is the power of cooking in an enclosed packet (aluminum foil is the easiest). All you have to do is put the base food ingredient in with some flavorings, close the packet, bake, open, and serve.

For my meal today, I served a fish fillet, mushrooms, and baked potatoes

I seasoned the mushrooms with salt, pepper, paprika, a little oil, and a touch of wine (very little)

My fish is flavored with slices of garlic, ginger, drizzled with soy sauce, and a little sherry

Close the packets. The potatoes have been cooking for about an hour and the packets go in for 15 minutes (total cooking time - 1 hour 15 minutes)

Take out the food, open it up, and serve.
The enclosed packet steams the food with the flavorings creating its own sauce.
Notice the under layer of foil. That ensures that you keep that pan clean if you spill some of the sauce as you take the food out.

And you say, "de-I, is this low calorie". Why thank you for asking, yes it is. .80 of pound of the fish (opakapka in this case) is 370 calories, the potatoes, another 300 (go light on the butter my friend), the mushrooms - less than 100.

Now here's the great part. You can use any flavoring you want. Use something prepackaged. Use salt, pepper and chili powder. Use whatever you like.

I guarantee if you try this you will be pleased. It's easy, tasty, minimal cleaning, healthy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Why I Love New Mexico

There are many, many things I love about living in New Mexico and Albuquerque in specific. Just one of them are the fabulous sunsets we get. One of the big reasons we did our addition was the fact that our house did not let us really see them. Now with our expanded view we get to enjoy them almost every evening.

I took these pictures over the last two nights. They are not all that different from what we see most nights. Sigh.

I love these next two shots. If you look closely you will see that the clouds are building up in the shape of the mountains below.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Reputation - Besmirched

I have spent years developing my well refined reputation for leading hikes in the Sandias of specific quality and experience.

When people hike with de-I's Sandia Outfitters (Our motto: You have nothing to lose but yourself), they don't just want a walk in the mountains.

They expect the distance they're hiking to be underestimated. The climb to be underestimated. The weather to be colder than anticipated. Or hotter than anticipated. They are looking for the unexpected thunderstorm, the hail, the beating rain downpour and lightening. They understand that bouts of potential hyperthermia and heat prostration are signature cards of our hikes. Unexpected plowing through snow drifts in May? Not a problem.

But what they don't expect is what happend today.


Both Wild Bill and Gaius Derf were with me. We went up. The weather was nice. We went down. The weather was nice. No volcanos. No earthquakes. Nothing. Just a nice hike in the mountains.

Trust me. This will not be repeated.

Friday, June 26, 2009

If You Know Business Owners in Trouble

I don't normally write too much about business on this blog. However, there was a post today from Terri, my bud in kidneylessness, that brought up again how important it is in this very difficult transforming economy to do things in a different way. Doing it the same as always may be a path to liquidation.

If you know any business owners that have taken it across the head and are having a difficult time coping with the downturn, you might want to forward this article to them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another Morning Image

We've had a very wet and cool spring this year by New Mexico standards and this is moving right into an early monsoon. You have to understand that we only get 10 inches of rain a year on average. Our relative humidity during this time of year can be 10% by the afternoon or less! This year we're running at around 30% so we're all running around complaining about how humid it is. (I know Mike and Jules in St. Louis, Nonna in TN, Pulisha and Tim de Buffalo in Florida are rolling on the ground laughing at this thought).

But one result was a cool scene during my morning walk in the foothills with the bulk of the city shrouded in clouds but certain other sections bathed in light.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

You Can Worry About It...

...You can obsess about it...You can rail about it.

But nothing is going to change.

I'm talking about all the discussions and work attempting to reform and revise our health care system...a system that has had cost escalating faster than any other segment of the economy...a system that very few users find empathetic or understanding or effective - in spite of all the crap spouted out about it being the best in the world. In spite of all that dissatisfaction nothing is going to really change because of two facts.

  1. As a society we are afraid to die and are unwilling to accept death as a natural part of life.
  2. The medical business has taken the first fact and turned it into a gold mine.
Almost a third of every healthcare dollar spent is spent during the last year of life. Study after study after study has shown that the most cost effective and beneficial use of funds is in preventative healthcare.

But who, when their own life is on the line a loved one's is on the line, is going to say no don't spend that ultra expensive care to keep me or my loved one alive? Not many of us that I know. Not even myself. Not when we have the alternative. Should I have gone through all the expense related to donating a kidney to my sister? Did it really make sense from sociatal economic standpoint? No. But I never even questioned it.

If you are a professional, a drug company, a hospital, All the dollars in the industry are to be made in expensive tests, expensive procedures, expensive care that extends life a few months. And knowing that people will use the expensive tools if they are available, they make more and more. And the industry makes more and more money.

We could totally change the economics of the healthcare system if we would all allow people to die sooner with less dramatic care spent to add that extra month or two. But it's not what we want nor what we will accept. And those who make money off of it know it.

It is a rule of politics that the tacit will of the populace prevails. It may not be the expressed will but the will that causes people to act or acquiess. In the case of the USA, we'd rather go bankcrupt than accept a moment left of our life no matter how unpleasant thos last moements are or how much they cost.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Definition of Insanity

By all accounts if you continue to do the the same behavior over and over and expect a different outcome you are lacking in sanity.

Faithful readers will remember it was only last week that Gaius Derf, faithful hiking companion (since Wild Bill seems to have gone to earth recently), and I were dying in the 3 miles, 700 foot climb from hell to get back to our car at the end of our climb up the La Luz trail. As were finishing the ordeal, I made some sarcastic comment to Derf to the effect that I never had these kinds of experiences when I hiked by myself. Then I amended my statement by clarifying that I also had these experiences when I hiked with Wild Bill to which Derf ominously said:

"And the common demonimator would be????"

Let's fast foward to Saturday. I have proposed a lovely hike that I wrote about last year that starts on the other side of the mountain on the Cienaga Trail (2.2 miles, 1720 foot climb). This is the only real hard climbing part. Then you reach the Crest Trail follow it finally descending in a loop that ends up being 11 miles all together. But this is much less difficult than what we did last week and is wonderfully covered with trees and shade. I brought plenty of water and food. What could go wrong?

Look at this. How bucolic. A lovely. It's going to be a great day.

Gaius Derf making great work as we ascend

The weather had called for 87 degrees and a 30% chance of rain. In Albuquerque, they are always predicting rain with rarely a drop in sight. As we got higher and toward the crest line, all the ground and plants were wet, it got darker and darker. Colder too.

When we reached the crest line we found this.

That's lots of clouds, wind picking up and rain approaching. About this time we got socked in. The temperature was in the 50's, it was raining. I wasn't taking too many pictures as we were focused on getting through it. Our boots had so much water in them when you took a step little spouts came out the shoe lace holes. In my mind, as I put layer upon layer on until all were used up, I was saying to myself, "now I know how people die of hypothermia in the middle of summer."

I did have time to snap this of Derf yelling
"What have you got me into this time!"
With the cold and wet we didn't stop until we reached our start. It's the first time that I've gone 11 miles in the mountains without some sort of rest stop to get off my feet. With the fighting to stay warm, I was beat. (I think I say that every week). But it all the weather had blown over and we were actually stripping layers by the time we reached the last section of the hike.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Easy Marinated Chicken

A number of you (of my 10 faithful readers) have commented on cooking complexity and how it is intimidating. I'm going to show you a method I got from Alton Brown's 'Good Eat's" show that is simplicity itself. I guarantee that you will be able to add tons of flavor with a minimum of fuss or effort. I've used this with all kinds of meats both large (halves of chickens, roasts) and small (pork chops, boneless chicken breasts)

The key is to understand that you start with a base with which you can then alter things to your taste.

Marinade Base:

  • One large onion
  • Two carrots
  • Some oil (1/2 to 1 cup) - olive oil or otherwise
  • Some wine or beer (1 cup)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Don't get too hung up with measurements! Marinating this way is very, very forgiving.

Flavor Options:
You can use these as you so choose - there are no rules. However because of the technique, you will be imparting a lot of flavor so I tend to not put in too many different flavors at once.

  • Dried or fresh herbs - In one version I put a ton of fresh sage and rosemary from my garden because they are so flavorful. Put in what you like.
  • Garlic - a lot or a little as you like
  • Spices - the one I'm doing in this example uses a Hungarian inspiration
  • Liquid flavorings - soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, etc.
Sample - Hungarian Inspired Chicken

Here are all the ingredients that I used - Onion, carrot, green pepper, fresh parsley, fresh thyme, olive oil, wine, black pepper, salt, Hungarian paprika (lots), saffron (very small amount)

The large vegetables are just rough cut. Everything else gets dumped into the blender.
That's not too hard. Is it?

Blend to a pulp
Looks gross
Don't worry. Nobody's going to see it but you.

I went to the effort of cutting a whole chicken in two because I like the way it turns out.
You can use pieces

Put chicken and marinade in a ziplock bag
Let sit for a couple of hours
The longer the better - even overnight
If more than a couple of hours put into the fridge

Take out of bag and wipe of marinade
You can actually wash it off if you want ( I did that for a nice meal with pork cutlets earlier in the week) or you can just roughly get it off with your hands to leave more flavor on.

Cook as you would normally
I grilled these on the fire
You could pop then in the oven at 375 for an hour and you'd be fine

Easy, minimum cutting, forgiving of measuring, fast, lot's of flavor, open to creativity - give it a try.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Landmark Hike

The La Luz Trail is the landmark hike of the Sandia Mountains taking you to its highest point. The trail from its start to its end is 7.3 miles and climbs 4000 feet. While I hike the lower section fairly often, I only rarely have gone all the way. On the other hand it is big favorite of Gaius Derf so we decided to do it this weekend.

Our original plan was to climb out and take the convenient tram down. Unfortunately for us they don't open the parking lot to the tram until 9 AM and we were there at 6:30 AM. So we opted to leave the car at the trail head knowing there is a trail from the bottom of the tram back to the trail head parking lot. More on this later.

A view of our destination Sandia Crest from the parking lotYes there are bears here but I'm faster than Derf now so it shouldn't be a problem.
(Heck, I let him off the hook for the Aztec sacrifice)

Our destination at about the 2.5 mile mark

Views from the around 5 Mile mark

Derf enjoying the scenery

Looking down the valley toward the City of Albuquerque

Looking Northwest across 40 miles to the Jemez Mountains

At the Five Mile mark
The notion that you only have 2.8 miles left is very deceiving. Over the first 5 miles you climb a total of 21o0 feet. That means you climb the remaining 1900 feet over that last 2.8 miles...meaning double the rate of climb. In addition the majority of this is done over massive,long rock slide.
Gaius Derf making his way up the rock slide

A couple of shots of the mountain

Uhh, an accidental shot of a rock

We were pretty beat by the time we got to the 'saddle' marking the end of the big climb.

Our destination (almost) the top of the tram

Looking north and south from the tram

Our nice end, the tram down...not
Gaius Derf failed to mention that the hike back to our parking lot was another 3 miles with another climb of over 700 feet. Since we are back down at our original altitude it is substantially hotter...not fun. But we made it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sacrelige...and Revenge

You will remember the miraculous events of last weekend when an errant wine drop spilled to form the shape of a heart...the beating heart...a holy symbol to those of us who are ardent born again Aztecs.
We had of course turned this area into a shrine in honor of Huitzilopochtli and Quetzalcoatl .

You can imagine my shock, my dismay, my horror when I came back from business meetings to find the site desecrated, obliterated from the face of the earth.

This was of course intolerable. Vengeance would have to be wreaked. There is only one way to do this in the Aztec faith. And that is to go to war and obtain captives for sacrifice.

And if one is going to do a proper Aztec sacrifice one has to have a proper temple. Now I'm sure you can imagine that there is a fair amount of intolerance here to Aztec practices. It's not like you can just drag people up in a public place, extract their hearts and throw there bodies down the steps and not have your neighbors poo pooing what you're doing and complaining to the authorities about the public litter from the bodies, or that you're endangering various birds to create your ritual dress.

So to avoid unnecessary complications, we have a sort of dual purpose pyramid/alter in our back yard.
Our Family Pyramid

Old Outdoor Table Converted into Sacrificial Alter
Please don't pass this post on to any of our neighbors as we wouldn't want to get anybody's guard up just yet.