Monday, August 31, 2009

Kitchen Re-enabled plus a Reward

Finally - Finally we have our sink back. Two months of figuring what to do and tussling with what decision to make and it is done - exactly the way we wanted it. And because I have been such a very good born again Aztec and have offered many a co-citizen to the alter, WE WERE LUCKY ENOUGH THAT OUR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE PAID FOR IT! Including the replacement of the counter top! Thank you kind insurance company. An extra raiding party out this weekend for sacrificial victims in your honor.

Happy Cooking Times

As an extra reward, we have accumulated many, many, many points from our main credit card over the years and since they are talking about reducing their value we thought we should start using them. One result is our acquisition of this beauty.

Allez Cuisine!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Some Simple Dishes

One of the things I learned early on when starting to cook was the use of some simple flavor combinations that can serve as the base for a number of different preparations and improvisations as well.

I was grilling this weekend and wanted to make a number of dishes but not have to do any research. I started with a couple of preparations that used a standard Asian flavor base of oil, sherry, soy sauce, and brown sugar.

Pork Marinade - I was making country ribs (more of a roast than like spare ribs). To the base I added ginger, garlic, Thai basil and miso (a fermented soy bean paste with a sweet salty flavor). The meat was marinated for 5 hours, browned over the grill and cooked over indirect heat with the grill closed for and additional 25 minutes.

Spicy Jicama Salad - The dressing used the Asian flavor base with the substitution of rice wine vinegar for the sherry. I added some Chinese chili garlic paste (you can find this in most grocery stores) for the heat. To the dressing I put shredded jicama (a Mexican vegetable that is quite crispy and sweet) and let it rest for an hour to let the flavors meld.

I also had a simple tomato salad with just good olive oil, basil from the garden, salt and pepper. When you have great tomatoes from your garden or a farm stand, you don't need any more.

Corn is also in season here. I made a simple side dish by grilling some previously steamed corn, and some red bell peppers while I grilled the meat. I then cut the corn off the cob, chopped up the peppers and mixed them up. Incredible how good such a simple dish was.

Bon Apetit

Friday, August 28, 2009

Remember - Happy Birthday

Not anyone's specific birthday. Just the song.


Because evidently (according to healthcare pro Lovely Laura, GF of Lakeview Coffee), there is an expert internationally on hand washing and the key is vigorous friction for a specified period of time. That period is about 15 seconds or the amount of time it takes to sing one verse of Happy Birthday (if you aren't speed singing).

The regular washing of hands has been shown to be the best single thing we can do to prevent the distribution of disease especially things like the flu.

So remember - Happy Birthday with vigorous friction.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rewards of Appeasement

So de-I you say, it seems that this Born Again Aztec religion would be a bit difficult to maintain. After all going on raids through various parts of your city to find ritual victims and sacrificing them in your backyard is bound to lead to some dissatisfied neighbors not to mention the possibility of explaining freedom of religion to local authorities, no?

Certainly these are issues but then any person of real faith deals with issues from a society that tolerates but does not really condone faith. Ah but the rewards...the rewards. I in particular, like to sacrifice to Ztibroeriwtoh, the Aztec god that protects travelers. Let me give you an example of what life is like when you have the favor of the travel god.

I was scheduled to fly to Chicago yesterday for my monthly trip with a change of planes in Denver. On Monday, I was notified (via email, text, and telephone...thank you United for thoroughness) that my first leg from Albuquerque to Denver was canceled. I call up United and there is nothing they have that will get me there on time. They want to send me on USAir through Phoenix which means I have to take a 6 AM flight (2 hours earlier) to arrive at the same time. I don't like that especially since I got upgraded to business class on my Denver to Chicago leg. But there is a flight on Frontier that leaves at almost the same time as my original United fight. However, it is officially 5 minutes short of the legal connection time and I will need to change terminals to get to United. I decide to opt for this. If I get a favorable seat towards the front, can make sure that my bag is with me overhead, and there are no delays, I will be in good shape.

Everything goes exactly as hoped for. I get 8C, pretty ideal on the isle toward the front. There isn't even anyone in the middle seat. Sweet. Room overhead for the bag. Flights on time. No problems. You think this would have happened without my appeasing the appropriate diety? I think not.

For more information on setting up your own Aztec sacrificial temple go to

Monday, August 24, 2009


After much gnashing of teeth and rumination we made a decision related to the broken sink (broken in June). We decided we really want things the way they were - no alterations and that meant a new counter top (long story re: putting Corian) over the brackets blah blah).

We put in the order. They came and did the measuring. They are suppose to have it ready to put in this week. I'm really looking forward to being able to use my kitchen again.

Got a call from the contractor this morning - The counter top people somehow forgot to order the material. No estimate of when it will be ready.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Derf Cooks!

Wife is in Chicago visiting Motherrocker et al and giving them the benefit of her better than professional class painting services. Agent W is also out of town getting ready for the birth of their grandchild number two. So Derf invited me over for home made pizza which I have photo-documented.

Derf working his dough

Derf is a real lover of olives on pizza

Rolling out the pizza

He's recently discovered Trader Joe's sauce as a new addition

Assembling the pizza

Derf doesn't believe in the 'minimalist' approach to pizza.
This one had pepperoni, and two kinds of olives

The finished product
The smell of that pizza it's, it's, it's...getting dizzy...don't know what's happening...

....Arrrggg must eat pizza...grrrr....mmmmm

Dinner is served

And the wine was good too! Actually I select most of his wine so if it sucks, I take the blame.

The New Me

One of my partners gave me the nickname - The Badger.

Evidently I don't exactly have rapier wit and insight but more just relentlessly pursue my objectives until they succumb to my ravenous attack. I suppose that goes well with my de-I moniker as well.

We were in Pasadena last week when another partner - Fighter Pilot Girl - noticed this in the window and decided it was the perfect representation of yours truly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Travel Survival Tricks - Part..I forget

I'm in LA for the first time in about a year and as usual I'm driving all over the place. I ended up with a meeting ending at 6:30 PM out by LAX with my hotel for the night being in Pasadena. This means going smack through down town LA. I thought I'd miss the rush hour. Ha, ha this isn't Albuquerque. Rush hour never ends. Plus there was night game at Dodgers Stadium backing up the traffic. Any way I didn't get to the hotel in Pasadena until 8:15.

So It's almost 9 by the time I get a chance to eat dinner. I'm at a Westin, a nice place with a good rate through Hotwire, and I figure I will just go to the hotel restaurant. These are almost always rip off joints (don't get angry at me Jules!). One peak at the menu where they want 27 bucks for a simple pasta. Get out of here that's insane.

So I take a walk out and luck out because a block away is a chain, McCormick and Schmick. I'm not a big fan of chains but this one has consistently good seafood and good value. With the bad economy, they have a bunch of value stuff on the menu like fish tacos for 10 dollars. I got a glass of sauvignon blanc, a bowl of mussels and the tacos and came out for only a couple of dollars more than that pasta was going to cost in the hotel.

So remember don't eat in the hotel!

Shortest Electronic Device Use Ever

A number of people have encouraged me to get away from the wi-fi hot spot world get a wireless phone device that would have my computer connect to the internet via a cellphone connection. In theory, this has lots to recommend it by because it would mean no searching for hots pots but having connection anywhere there was phone signal.

There is a new device being sold by Verizon and Sprint called a Mi-Fi which accomplishes this but connects to your computer through its wireless port and allows more than one user. Pretty cool. Not cheap each month but it would allow me to eliminate a hot spot subscription.

We got the device. I spent three hours on Friday trying to make it work. Finally got my computer and it to talk to each other but couldn't get on the internet. Went to various places around town to make sure it wasn't a cell phone signal problem. Called Verizon help line. They were no help at all.

On Saturday, I packed up the device and we sent it back (got it back within the three day window to get a full refund and out of the contract). Subscribed to a second hot spot service that greatly expands the outlets I can get and my net is 33.3% less. Will try again next year.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Cooking From the Garden

Wife's garden is really putting out this year...No not that kind of putting out...I mean producing lots of fruits and vegetables.

I found we had a score of tomatoes and green chiles plus a single zucchini. For some reason the squash are not doing well this year. The following dish took all of 45 minutes to make and comes in at under 400 calories for a nice big bowl. And it's very tasty and nutritious to boot.

Tomatoes and Squash
Green Chile already peeled and seeded.
Our chile is not very hot this year (all the rain we've had I think)
Since this is a regional specialty you could replace it with bell pepper roasted (or not) or put in some other hot pepper flavoring.

Sauteed onions and garlic - the backbone of most soup/stew dishes

Beans are providing the protein/filler role. I chose black beans for this.

The tomatoes and zucchini chopped and added. I didn't bother to peel and seed the tomatoes because it was already late.

I had a left over grilled chicken breast so I decided to put that in as well.
Once I added the beans I put in a little chicken stock base (I use Better than Broth brand) and a little water to thin things out a bit. Salt and pepper were the other flavorings - pretty basic but the chile and the tomatoes were the main flavor components.

The finished dish

Friday, August 14, 2009

Marital Bliss Communications Tips - 2

More from the annals of the very long wed.

Partner 2 asks partner 1, "You are frustrated that I don't express appreciation for the work that you do. I think I'm doing that. What can I do to make sure your know that I do really appreciate it?"

Partner 1 - "Email me."

Communication - Key to a Long, Strong Marriage

Those of you who are relatively new to the marriage cycle with only 5, 10, or 20 years experience, I am going to pass on the wisdom as figured out by Wife and I as we are finishing our 36th year of "uninterrupted bliss and harmony".

Communication is the key. Let me show you an example from last night of how this works.

Partners 1 & 2 are having dinner. In the course of the dinner conversation a frustration breaks out when partner 1 doesn't understand what partner 2 is saying. Details are not important here.

1 suddenly decides he/she is not hungry and ups and leaves the table leaving food on plate and goes upstairs to watch TV.

2 finishes dinner and cleans up carefully putting 1's food away. 2 goes and watches TV.

After 45 minutes 1 comes down to normal TV spot downstairs.

2 walks by room and gives brief smile and gets brief smile back.

1 - "Are you still talking to me/"
2 - "Of course, I'm not the one who went away"
1 - "I'm hungry"
2 - "I'll get your dinner"

2 brings dinner to 1. Brief discussion of issue ensues. 1 summarizes.

"We're in our 60's. I fully expect us to have the same arguments when we're in our 80's"

Mutual laughter and kisses between 1 & 2

The End

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Economy's Turning

Things have been really, really busy at work. We have a number of new jobs and there are additional leads. Take my word for it, I know the ups and downs of the economy before you ever read about it. It is present in the attitudes of our clients and the work we do or don't do. About three months ago I started getting "normal" non-crisis work for the first time. Now we're really starting to get a good deal flow of plain ole companies with normal issues related to growth, dealing with getting out. So take heart.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Garden Eating

The garden is producing abundant quantities which is giving me lot's of opportunities to cook with what we have. Today a lot of tomatoes were ripe along with some leaks, basil, blackberries and raspberries. So the menu was pasta with fresh tomato sauce and fruit salad.

Tomatoes, Leeks and Basil

Tomatoes Processed and Leeks Cleaned
The trick with the tomatoes is to cut them in half, take out the seeds, then crate the flesh out with a box grater. All you will have left are the thin skins. Much, much easier than the parboil, skin, seed method.

Leeks Sauteing in Olive Oil with some Black Olive Paste
I later deglazed with a little white wine

Tomato Puree added with Basil, Salt and Pepper

The Finished Dish
I actually made the sauce in the same pot as the one I cooked the pasta in. I put in the cooked pasta and let it cook with the sauce for a couple of minutes and added a little fresh grated Parmigiano Regiano

Wife meanwhile added the berries to some cantaloupe, grapes and cherries

The whole process took us 45 minutes.

Bon Apetit

Monday, August 10, 2009


While in CT, reading to my Dad 38 pages of 8 point type Excel document listing everything not salvaged from the fire including the description, the count, the unit value, the total value. Example - 20 cans of tuna, salmon, sardines at $2.50 each.

Reading to him the entire introduction, rules and regs of the assisted living place he will be holed up in until his home is rebuilt.

An entire peach tree ripening at once and the processing thereof - thanks Wife!

Travel schedule for the rest of August.

8/16-19 - Me in So Cal
8/20 - 24 - Wife in Chicago
8/25-28 - Me in Chicago

Why are we not in Chicago the same time? Fate.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back from Connecticut

It was a long three days helping my Dad. Having a fire where you are forced out of your home and where you lose so much of your belongings is a tough thing for anyone to deal with. I am in awe of my father who is almost 86 and mostly blind to be able to handle things. Fortunately I was able to be of help but it is frustrating to be so far away and not be able to be there. I spent 3 hours on the plane this morning writing 5 pages of detailed explanation for all the members of our family so I'm a little burnt out on writing about this. Maybe sometime this week I'll have a bit more energy.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In Connecticut

I'm just about done with my three days with o-I/Dad and finding out the full scope of stuff associated with his house fire and aftermath. I've go crappy internet and have to go to the public area to get a signal plus we've been working long days. I will get more detail out tomorrow on my flight home.

Monday, August 3, 2009

So Nice to Stop

I'm sure my micro cadre of readers know that when I write seriously (uh about .05% of my posts), I wax philosophically about how life is not meant to be a cake walk but is a series of challenges for us to over come and grow by.

There's been a lot going on in the de-I world in terms of challenges - Father's house burning down, child out of work, child's child with serious learning/speaking disorder, sink broken leading to having to replace counter, transmission needing replacement, etc., etc., etc. But don't cry for me Argentina. The business is hanging in there, no fatal illnesses, all are dealing with their challenges (what more could a parent ask for?), no one is living in Afghanistan or Zaire.

One of the real blessings of going though those challenging periods is how much it makes you appreciate all those little pleasures. This weekend with the whole Gary incident, I was possibly feeling the challenges a bit more. As Derf's wife Agent W was out of town working, I Derf if he come over to de-I Towers for as I said a much needed time of doing nothing with alcohol.

Derf obliged. He arrived around 4 PM. We toured the garden eating a peach of the tree and munching on berries. We sat down on our patio outside and drank some good vodka and olives. After an hour or so, I went inside and whipped up a salad from leftover grilled mahi-mahi, capers, and mayo, another salad with leftover chickpeas, oil, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and chives from the garden, a couple of artichokes from the fridge steamed and a sauce of sour cream, half and half, and dijon mustard washed down with a nice Chablis. Followed that with a little cheese and nice 10 year old Burgundy.

Eating, drinking, talking, enjoy the incredible quiet. Around 7:30 we go upstairs to our deck looking west to watch a fantastic sunset with a little pisco (a Peruvian brandy). Once the sunset is over, we went to the deck looking east to watch the moonlight mountains. Derf headed home around 11.

Not that complicated - taking a little time out - appreciating what you have.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

de-I Outfitters Need Your Help

It has been a struggle to get my fledgling hiking guide business really going. Perhaps the continual misjudgments of distance, climb, heat, weather accompanied by near dire experiences has colored potential customers desire to book with us.

So you can imagine my surprise and glee when Gary from Nova Scotia contacted me for a guided tour of the La Luz trail. I don't even know how he found me. I got Gaius Derf to accompany us since he is a real affectionado of this trail.

We went really early so we would have Gary avoid a lot of the heat. The hike was great and we got to the lookout point (4.5 miles) at around 8:30 AM so we got to see the sun starting to shine on the mountains

The early morning sun brought out the red in the rock.
It was about this time that things started to go downhill. Gary pulls out this sunscreen with a floral scent. Never heard of anything like this before. It must be a Canadian thing. Anyway Gary is putting this stuff on and it is strong. I'm not thinking a whole lot about this until suddenly a hummingbird shows up. I wrote last week about my near death experience with the killer hummingbird. I started to tell Gary that I didn't think that this floral sunscreen was such a good idea. He laughed at me but the hummingbird was being very persistent.

Then it nicked his ear and blood started to flow.

Before we knew it a dozen birds showed up all swarming Gary...then it seemed like a hundred. Gary was trying to swat them and fight them. Derf was ready to wade it when I stopped him.

"Derf don't go! We need to check if he signed is release document!"
"Release document?"
"Yes, my insurance company said that in any kind of unusual situation I had to make sure that I have a release form signed allowing us to act on his behalf."

So I flounder through my pack but I'm not finding anything.

"Gary, did you give us your release form"
"I think it was in your introduction pack."
"On page 358?"

"Uh de-I, I think it might be bit too late"

Well who would have known? They were vamire killer hummingbirds! When they all flew off all there was was a shriveled up hunk of poor Gary. So what the heck were we going to do? Well the first theing to do was to get rid of the body. I mean losing a hiker to killer vampire hummingbirds is not good for business. Fortunately we're over a big ole canyon in the wilderness so over the edge goes what's left of Gary.

But now the question arises, what are we going to tell the next of kin? I need your help. How should we spin this to ensure the continuation of de-I Sandia Outfitters? The winning entry gets a free weekend with hiking at de-I Towers.