Thursday, September 28, 2006


It's Pomegranate season!

All of you who have never tried a pomegranate stop reading this now, go to your local grocers and pick up a pomegranate. Look for one that is hard and feels dense. You should be able to get it for two or three bucks. Bring it home and score it around the circumference with a knife. Use your brute strength to crack that puppy open, pick out a seed or three and pop it into your mouth. Hmmmm.

I picked up a couple on the way home tonight to have with our trout (disappointing trout though - I should have picked up a tuna steak). I whipped up a salad of Romano leaves, pecans toasted with adobe chili pepper, roasted squash (from the other night) and pomegranate seeds. It was very good.

Pomegranate seeds go well on salads and fruit based desserts. I'm sure you could whip up a nice salad dressing with them. We just like to eat them, straight up. I'm thinking of attempting to make jelly out of them this fall if I can find a sale. That should be interesting.

So stop surfing and go shopping!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In a parallel universe

Every once in a while, when I have had a bad day at work, I think about other career paths I could have taken. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do. Breaking software for a living is fun, challenging, and it seems to be something I’m good at. I have no intentions of giving it up. But occasionally I think about other paths I could have taken if I had opened my eyes a bit during high school. Here are three that I have considered lately:

1. Crane operator. We have the new medical school going up beside PEER Group and there is a very large crane right in the middle of it. I don’t have a window seat yet (sigh) but whenever I walk past a window I think about the crane operator and what he/she is doing. I think I could do it; I am not too afraid of heights and I’m pretty good at taking orders. I suspect they get paid well too.
2. Stone mason. What could be more satisfying than building something out of rocks? It would last forever (if built well) and look good to boot. If I was a stone mason I would be well muscled (as opposed to now). They used to be looked down upon as ‘just a trades worker’ but not anymore. They are in quite a high demand. Look for me to do a stone mason-ish project in the spring.
3. Cook. I love to cook. If I was at a restaurant I could cook all the day long. But the hours are pretty bad and I would never see my wife. But I would get paid to get better at making food – that’s hard to beat.

Those are the jobs the pop into my mind these days. What other careers to do think about when your day has gone into the toilet?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pizza pizza pizza pizza

Tara and I have pizza 3 or 4 times a month. We love pizza and it is fairly healthy (we use mozzarella and feta which are both lower-fat; only the pepperoni could be considered 'unhealthy'). Pizza is also a pretty quick meal and there is always leftovers for the next day's lunch.

Some people are amazed that we make our own crust. They think it takes too much time or is really hard. It's neither. And once you have done it a few times, you won't go back to store-bought crust except in an emergency.

The recipe below is isn't the best crust I make, but it is the quickest. Perfect for when you come home after work and are hankering for something carby and cheesy.

Richard's Homemade Pizza Crust (1 extra large pizza or 2 medium pizzas)

1 Cup warm-hot water
1 Tbsp honey
1 package yeast
2.5 C flour (some combo of white and whole wheat)
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp olive oil

Step 0. Preheat the oven as hot as it will go. We crank ours up to 550F

Step 1: Dissolve the honey in the warm-hot water and then dissolve the yeast in the water.

Step 2: Mix the salt and oil into the flour and put into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the water/honey/yeast mix.

3. Slowly incorporate the flour into the liquid. Mix the dough and kneed for about 5 minutes (the longer the better)

4. Shape into a ball and let rise for 10-15 minutes.

5. Roll out into one or two disks as thin as you like. Top (the less the better) and bake for ~10 minutes or so until the crust and cheese are browned.

Total time, with baking - 40 minutes.
Just a few ingredients Liquid in the well Let it rise Hmmm, ready for the oven

a. The longer the dough rises the better. If I have time in the morning, I make the dough then and throw it into the fridge.

b. If you put the pizza on a pizza stone it will get a better crust - but don't roll the dough out too thin or the crust will burn before the topping cook. If the pizza consistently sticks, put it on a sheet of parchment paper. It'll scorch a bit, but it won't burn.

c. If you have a wife/husband, get them to prepare the toppings while you are making the dough. Seriously.

d. Use real Mozza. This is something that I have just discovered; real Mozza (ie, in a ball) makes a better tasting pizza (as opposed to block cheese). The cheese will be the most expensive part of the pizza, but I can get one recipes worth of cheese for $4.50. Not bad for a meal, IMHO.

e. This ultra cheap wine is perfect with a typical pizza. Available at the LCBO.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Advice - how to turn 25lbs of cooking mags into a binder full of recipes

The magazines I have lying aroundSo I need some advice and I know that those who read this are full of advice.

I have a substantial number of cooking magazines. About half of them are the amazing and free Food and Drink (from the LCBO - even if you don't partake in alcohol, go in and grab one). The other half are Gourmet. There are some other smatterings of Cooks Illustrated, Savour, and Bon Appetit. I have some Fine Cooking mags but they are too nice to chop up.

Unfortunately the magazines are mostly ads and articles that, while interesting, aren't worth keeping. I want to just keep the recipes; with the vain hope of making a majority of them (probably not going to happen, but I want to keep then anyways).

So I got this idea from my wonderful sister - just cut out the recipes and stick them in a binder. A very good idea - I can probably reduce the whole lot to a single (large) binder.

But there is the question of how to do it en masse? I don't really want to tear them out - that can be messy. Below are a couple of options I've considered - both of them involve removing the spine of the magazine and then picking out the pages with recipes:

1. Find a willing friend with a table saw and saw off the spines. This is probably the quickest, but I am a little afraid that it won't be good for the saw and/or the magazine sheets.

2. Find an old, heavy-duty paper cutter, guillotine style. Then I would slice off the spine with either my brute strength, or hook up a pulley or hydraulic jack system to do the dirty work. But I don't know if I can go through 75+ pages with a paper cutter...

So - I'm calling on you guys to help with this question - how can I transfer my cookbooks to binders? Any one who has a good suggestion that gets used will get a free dinner - they can even chose the recipe from the binder!

Monday, September 11, 2006

2 new things I love

Two new things I love.

1. Jars of Clay album Who we are instead. I know the CD has been out for almost 3 years now, but we just picked it up (or rather downloaded it from itunes). The album is more bluegrass (if that's the right word) then previous albums. It has the wonderful ability to make you feel happy and melancholy at the same time. It you enjoyed Jars early works but haven't bought any of their stuff recently, I highly recommend it.

Their new album Good Monsters has had some pretty critical acclaim, but I haven't listened to it enough to decide for myself.

2. Gridwars 2 (download). I'm not much of a gamer. Sure I have an XBox and a few games, but that was a gift from work - I would have never bought it for myself. But this game is something special. It is quick and twitchy, but there is also strategy and thinking. If you have a relatively recent machine and you want a quick diversion, grab the game (while it is still available).

Tonight I have wasted about an hour on it already. My highest score is in the low 300k.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Painting done - yaaaah

The painting in the living room and dining room is finished (except for a couple of areas that need to be touched up). We are very happy; we were able to sit down and eat for the first time in a week this evening. Hmmm grilled chicken, tomatoes and baslamic vinegar and mixed veggies.

Two rooms down, Six to go :)

The dining room The living room Soliel our cat

Saturday, September 09, 2006

New house - new paint

So Tara and I are painting our living room and dining room. Tara and her aunt picked out the colours. We picked up the paint last weekend and started the task of moving furniture, removing wallpaper, priming, taping and painting. I finished the last coat on the trim this afternoon (while Tara was at work) and after I post this, I am going to take off the tape, make any touchups that are needed (there is always needed touchups) and start taking the plastic off the furniture. Hopefully we can have everything moved back before we head out for the evening...

I'll post a pic of the finished product. But this is what it looked like before (with the furniture of the previous owners)

OSAS Horse Show

Last weekend was spend getting ready for and going to the OSAS horse show. We didn’t know if the weather would cooperate for us, but it did and a good time was had by all.

Horse show preparation for the non-rider involves heading out to the barn the afternoon before to pretty up the horse. The order of operations is:
  1. Brush the horse
  2. Wash the horse
  3. Dry the horse
  4. Re-brush the horse
  5. Braid the long hair of the horse
  6. Clip the whiskers off the horse
  7. Spray the horse with showsheen
  8. Paint the hoofs
  9. Blanket and stall the horse
  10. Pray that the horse doesn’t roll in its own manure before you get back to the barn in the morning.
Of course, no show preparation is complete without first a trip to the tack shop. We went to the local one in town who hooked Tara up with all she needed (plus a saddle to try out).

The day of the event was overcast but the rain held off for the most part. Tara (and I) had a great time. King and Tara got two 5th places (walk/trot/cantor and hunter over X's) and a 1st place in walk/trot (her prize was a black bridle)! Results here.

Our good friends Darren and Hannah showed up for the last class Tara was in (X's). They had never seen a horse show before and I think they had a good time.

And now for some fun pictures…

King (and Tara) taking a bath What a big face you have!! Tara - ready to show them who's the boss What form! What grace! Who put the standarnd in the way?? My first place wife
My fifth place friend :)