All Hail Our Glorious Master, The Pig

November 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Mountain Top Helo

Alas again, I have been unable to keep this little blog updated.  For the past few weeks I have been busy traveling for work which tends to be less than exciting to write about.

Fortunately, I just got back from my latest out of town job and can add a few updates to what sorts of delicious cooking I have been up to.

Now down to business.

Just before I went to spend several days in the mountains, I was feeling a need for tacos.  Specifically, carnitas tacos.  Unfortunately for me, there aren’t any great Mexican food places around where I live.

People tell me there are, but apparently I am used to better.  And food trucks aren’t allowed in my city…which is stupid.  Historically speaking, food is always better out of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or food truck down some super sketch dark alley you found one storming night, stumbling around trying to sate your drunken munchies.

Although, that could just be the alcohol talking.

But all that is beside the point.  I went ahead and stole this recipe from my mom.  Not really sure where she found it but it is delicious.  And…vaguely healthy?  I’m not really sure anymore.

IMG_20131101_224131137

I apologize for the missing bite and the poor presentation, but our kitchen was a mess and I was hungry.

Ingredients:

  • 4.5lbs Pork Butt, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 c Water, approximate amount (use enough to cover pork)
  • 7 Strips Orange Zest
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1.5 Onions, minced
  • 1.5 tsp Crushed Red Peppers
  • 1.5 Mexican Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1.5 tsp Oregano
  • 1.5 tsp Salt
  • .25 tsp Clove

Cooking directions are fairly straight forward, albeit time consuming,

  1. Put ingredients in large pot; simmer for about 1.5 hours until pork is soft.  Be sure to keep adding water to keep the pork covered
  2. Bring pot to a boil until all the water has evaporated away and allow the pork to sear to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Remove cinnamon and bay leaves

This should make enough for 4-6 people depending on how full you stuff your tacos or how big your tortillas are.

Also, be sure to use Pork Butt (also called shoulder I think) because it has a higher fat content which gives the carnitas more flavor.  Next time I do this I think I will use some sort of stock instead of water as well.  If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Serve with corn tortillas, fresh cilantro, chopped onion, salsa verde, pickled peppers/carrots and non-fruity margaritas or Mexican beer.

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Dorm Grub

October 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm (Food) (, )

The Hot Dog Edition

Dorm Dog

Years ago when I was in college, I was thinking about making a website that revolved around recipes that could be cooked in your dorm with a bare minimum of effort and pricey equipment.

As such, I am always on the lookout for ways to make good food, super quickly and with as few required tools as possible.

Mostly because I started watching the Food Network back when it was…about food…and I was in college so my cooking equipment consisted of an electric water boiler and a rice cooker.

For Dorm Food, simple was the name of the game.

I created this recipe while I was still living in the dorms so I thought it would be amusing to try it with a proper stove and cooking equipment.

The above picture was made with the stove.

My house mates wouldn’t let me boil a sausage in their coffee water heater.

Ingredients:

  • Beef Spicy Polish Dog
  • Appropriately Sized Bun
  • 1 Egg, per dog
  • Red Onion
  • Brown Mustard
  • Sriracha
  • Mayonnaise

Directions provided in Dorm Format…

  1. Boil Polish dog in electric water boiler.
  2. Fry egg in rice cooker to desired doneness. I went with over easy because it adds a little lube to the bun.
  3. Chop onion and add to bun sauced with mustard and mayonnaise or toss in before the egg to caramelize them a bit if it is too strong.
  4. Insert wiener in bun.
  5. Lay egg on top.
  6. Apply Sriracha liberally.

All of the above steps can be done in a pan on a stove but for those of you restricted from proper cooking gear, the Dorm Dog can be a much needed break from dining hall food.

Serve with beer.

Now…lets see if I can remember any of the other dishes I used to make…

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The Drunken Munchies

October 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm (Food) ()

Crock-Pot Chili Verde Edition

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of this…My last batch got eaten too fast…

Last Christmas my grandmother bought me a crock-pot on my insistence because I thought it would help me save some of the last vestibules of energy I have remaining after work.  And, as with all my well laid plans, this one failed miserably.

I spend more time trying to make recipes and prepping food for my crock-pot than I ever did when I just cooked whatever looked like it could be made spicy.

This was actually one of the first recipes I tried in my spangly new crock-pot and I wasn’t disappointed.  It took a few tries to perfect the shredding process and I tried to use chicken as a vaguely healthier alternative but it wasn’t as good.

Ingredients:

  • 4 LBS Pork Loin, cut to 2” cubes
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Kosher Salt
  • Dried Oregano
  • Ground Cumin
  • Chicken Bouillon (1 cube)
  • 28oz Can Medium or Hot Green Enchilada Sauce
  • 10oz Can Hot Green Chilies
  • 7oz Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa Verde (about half a jar)
  • 6-10 Quartered Habanero Peppers, seeds in, stem off

Fortunately the cooking process is fairly simple,

  1. Put ingredients in crock-pot
  2. Mix to evenly distribute peppers and spices
  3. Cook on HIGH for 8 hours

This probably makes enough for more than 6 people but I tend to make this on weekends and for some strange reason it always ends up ready after the drinking has started and 6 is about all I can do.

As for making sure the pork shreds properly, cutting the pork into large cubes is very important.  I get my pork loin from Costco where it comes in 8-10lb packs and I don’t remove the fat because no matter what the health food nutters say, Fat Tastes Good.

I have also been recently informed that my sense of spicy is majorly broken.  I am okay with it, and if you are like me, 10 habaneros is enough to add a small kick and a pleasant sweetness.  Those of weaker constitution may want to drop that to 2-3.

Or remove the seeds.

Or grow a pair.

Up to you.

Serve with fresh tortillas, dirty rice, shredded cheese, cilantro, avocado, lime wedges, more salsa and non-fruity margaritas.

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Jarring for Dummies

October 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm (Food) (, )

Roasted Peppers

Unfortunately, I cannot claim all the credit for the idea of this delicious snackable.  It was something that the parents of a friend of mine brought to a BBQ and I loved.  But, alas, all I can remember of the ingredients were bell peppers, anchovies and oil.

As such, it is still a work in progress.  But I wanted more.  And I bought Kerr Jars and was in a desperate need to jar something.  So it was either this or my housemate.

Ingredients:

  • 6-10 Red/Yellow/Orange Bell Peppers, large (the baby ones are fine but makes you wish you picked your housemate instead)
  • 1 Can Anchovies
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Garlic (fresh or powder)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil, enough to submerge peppers in Kerr Jar

 

The process is pretty simple but time consuming,

  1. Halve the bell peppers and remove the stem/seeds.  It is easier to do it in the beginning because when they are roasted they get a bit slimy.
  2. If you have a gas stove, you can roast the peppers directly over the flame.  It is pretty quick this way and much easier to peel when you are done.  OR use an oven like me.  Because I’m lame and only have an electric stove.
  3. If you are like me, put the halves, skin side up, on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake at 350 until they start to burn/blacken like they do under open flame.  The vertical faces don’t blacken that well though.
  4. Remove from tray, place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle.
  5. Peel.
  6. Add all other ingredients (I used the anchovy oil as well) and enough oil to coat.
  7. Mix.
  8. Dump into the Kerr Jar or Jars and add more oil if necessary to cover the peppers
  9. Put the lid on and place into a pot of boiling water.  Be careful not to set the jars on the bottom.  I used a wire rack that raised them up a little.  There should be enough water to cover the jars.
  10. I wasn’t sure how long to boil them so I left them in there until I got bored.  The internet says at least 15 minutes.
  11. Remove and let them cool, the lids should pop when they seal.  If not, keep them in the fridge and eat within a few weeks.

Sounds easy right?  Wrong.  First time I used baby bell peppers and one of my two jars didn’t seal.  But that was okay because they got eaten the next day because they were delicious.

But even though one of the jars sealed, it still lives in the fridge too.  I don’t really trust my jarring abilities.  If I wanted to do this more, I would invest in one of those fancy canning pressure cookers but I got my fix.

If you do keep them in the fridge though, be warned, the oil will solidify.  It looks gross so you might get dinged in presentation so let it warm up for a bit beforehand.  Also, drain off the excess oil.  You don’t need to eat it.

Also, if you are worried about the anchovies tasting too strong or being a solid presence in the peppers when served, they don’t and aren’t.  For some reason they dissolved in mine.  I think it has something to do with the jarring process.

Serve with sliced toasted baguette and a nice spreadable goat cheese or Potato/Artichoke/Jalapeno baked thing made by your best friend’s mom.

Consume.

Side note: use the pepper’s oil on the baguettes before toasting.  It’s just better.

 

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Grand Re-Opening

October 13, 2013 at 9:21 pm (Uncategorized)

I just realized that it has been over two years since I last posted to this blog and I miss it.  I originally created this as a sort of…excuse…for the time I wasn’t working after college, so I wasn’t able to post things like MS Pong to it.

Granted, I never did much like that when I wasn’t working.  It was mostly WoW…which is tragic…cycling and pretending to be on the job hunt.

However!  Now that I am working, I don’t care.

I was deemed professional enough already.

I’m trying to get back into this thing because it was fun for me despite no one reading it; and like Mr. Alderson and Mrs. Manchester told me in high school, and I dutifully ignored, writing really does help my writing.  Who’d ‘a thunk it.

Now, back to my world of Food, Science, Tech and Books.

And Food.

It bears repeating.

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MS Pong v1.0

October 13, 2013 at 8:59 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Engineers, scientists and mathematicians gathered for a night of BBQ, fond memories and drinking in California’s most beautiful University City, Santa Cruz.  But mostly drinking.

And in the usual fashion of gatherings involving the over educated, under motivated and lightly sauced, games were played.  But when people of skill in handling balls are mixed in, variations of socially approved drinking games are bred like the bastard brainchildren of Freud and Newton.  This little gem was dreamed up by our resident beer pong aces, Matt and Steven.  I have dubbed it MS Pong cuz I’m nerdy like that…and Matt wanted to name it Matt and Steven Pong.

I have tried to capture the rules properly, but if they need to be adjusted/clarified/improved let me know and I can edit them.

MS Pong

Setup:

  • 1 Table ~4’x3’
  • 1 Red SOLO cup per side, centered (target), half full of water
  • 1 Ping Pong ball
  • 2 Players
  • 1 Hardwood floor, heavily polished
  • 2 Pairs of socks

Game Rules:

  1. Bounce lines will be placed 1/4th table length in front of each player.  Return cuppage (see rule 3) must bounce after this line for a valid return.
  2. A circle approximately 1.5’ diameter will be placed in the center of the table.  This is the service target.  When a player is serving the ball, it must strike the table within this circle or the service is redone.
  3. Ping Pong ball must be hit with hands, or any other body part, from below in an upward motion.  Hits are known as “Cuppage” because it works better if you cup the balls.
  4. If a return falls within the back court lines (see rule 1) or misses the table, the opponent gets to shoot for points.
  5. If a return cuppage is not made before the second bounce, the opponent gets to shoot for points.
  6. Bounces count if they strike either the target or table.
  7. Cuppage into the target during a rally phase count for 2 points and the opponent serves to scorer.
  8. SHOTS: Shots are made from an agreed upon distance from the table, usually beer pong shot length.  If the shot goes in the target, it counts as 1 point.  Shots that bounce off the table or the target count as serves and must be returned as per standard cuppage rules.  Shots that do not hit the target or table are misses and the ball will be served by the shooter.
  9. Winner is the first to score a set number of points.  We used 5.  Because if you suck, even that can take a while.
  10. Standard House Beer Pong drinking rules can be used.  That includes the Trolling rule.

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The Meat Hanger Part II

July 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm (Food)

I just realized that I need to add a review for the results of the Meat Hanger.

Meat Hanger Trial 1This…different way of making Beef Jerky took almost 3 days to finish drying.  At that point, I wasn’t sure it was fit for human consumption so I enlisted the help of my dear friend John to try it out first.

The result was that he didn’t get sick but he wasn’t that impressed with my Jerky.  I would, however, like to mention that he did like my oven dried version so it at least wasn’t my choice in seasonings.  After he had tried it, I gave it a go and came to the same conclusion.

The meat had taken on a much different flavor than the oven dried version like the internet had suggested.  It kept much more of the heat from the different types of chilies that I added and the rest of the flavors were a bit more toned down.  The salt, however, was much more present.

Now, in fairness to the technique, these results could have been caused by the additional few days of marination.  However, there was one underlying flavor that probably wasn’t caused by this.  The meat had a unusual flavor hiding in the background that I couldn’t quite figure out.  It wasn’t rancid meat like I feared but it wasn’t like anything I added to the seasonings.  It was only after John (who couldn’t really taste it) jokingly said that it was the flavor of the house that I realized what it was.

And great dancing Jehovah, he was right.  Those three days of blowing air at the meat made it taste a little like my kitchen, and to me, that isn’t appealing.

As a result, I have to conclude that air drying meat in your kitchen is a bad idea.  But I suppose some of you might have realized that a long time ago.

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Gadmei P83

June 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm (Tech)

I was at the theaters the other day to see the new X-men movie and I couldn’t help but notice that almost everything in theaters has a 3D version.  Personally, I don’t like 3D movies.  Almost nothing on the screen is in focus, everything is too dark and worst of all, you have to wear these ridiculous Ray-Ban knockoffs that never fit.

I don’t want to wear sunglasses at the movies.  Plus I already wear glasses.  Wearing two pairs is ridiculous not to mention annoying.

Strangely though, I bet people had similar feelings when sound was added to movies and color to television.  People probably wandered around standing on soap boxes shouting “Why do we need sound? It leaves nothing to imagination.  Plus! It’s always too loud or too quiet.  My ears are going to burst with overexertion!” and “Color?  Color?  Why do we need color?  All it does is make these people look ugly.  I mean, look at their clothes.  Honestly, wearing that color on television.  What were they thinking?”

Unfortunately, I am one of them when it comes to 3D video.  However, I just think the technology is just too young to be used on such a grand scale.  I have always been sure that eventually someone will come along with an improvement that brings 3D into the forefront like Word processing and Spreadsheets did for computers.

Maybe today is that day.

Gadmei recently released a new portable media player called the Gadmei P83 3D PMP Player.  I suppose you could liken this guy to the Kindle but for music and video instead of books and PDFs.

This little 8 inch player is the first portable 3D media player that I have come across that has a functional viewing screen.  There are a few rumors about other companies making similar devices but you can actually buy the P83, which as far as I can tell is unique.

My personal favorite part about this player is the glasses-free 3D feature.  I would be interested to see how they managed that.  But to add another cherry to this pie, it plays most video formats including…drum roll please…MKV, which I have never seen supported before on portable media players.

After seeing the P83 I was curious if there was anything similar on the market and I came across the Cowon 3D which is being promoted as the first 3D PMP.  Similarly amazing, it features full 1080p playback and an HDMI output which would make this a great deal if it had a decent screen size.  Unfortunately, it only has a 4.8 inch screen and if I want to watch HD movies on a TV, I can use my PC with an HDMI cord just as easily.

However, despite all my affection for the 8 inch P83, there are two major drawbacks.  There is only 4gb of onboard storage and I cannot find anything about the battery life, which isn’t a good sign.  Fortunately, you can buy up to 32gb of extended memory in the form of a SDHC memory card and use USB drives to increase your portable library, but that just adds clutter and detracts from the sleek design.

The price though is fantastic, only $179 which is less than half the cost of the Cowon 3D.  Something like this would be perfect for trips and holidays as long as the battery lasts more than a few hours and you don’t mind wandering around with several gigs of pirated video.

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1980mpg Car

June 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm (Tech)

For those who don’t know, yesterday was the start of the new Season 17 of Top Gear and I thought it would be a good idea to do a little piece about cars.  So, while perusing a website my sister sent me I found an article about a car that does 1980mpg.

Surely not.  Right?  I mean, major car companies have been struggling to get a car to do 50mpg.  Looking around, the only cars that can do more than 50mpg are the Nissan Leaf, Smart Fortwo electrics and the Chevy Volt, and those aren’t exactly the most exciting cars in the world.

Every year there has been a Mileage Marathon in the UK where students are challenged to design ultra-high performance cars to be raced against each other at Mallory Park.  The requirements of the race are fairly simple, use the least fuel possible to complete a lap at a minimum of 15mph.

This little wonder you see above was this year’s winner, built by students from the Kingdown School in Warminster, they trumped the second place team by more than 1000mpg.  The whole car took 4 years to complete and is made from glass reinforced plastic so including the driver, a 14-year old student from Kingdown, the car only weighs about 80kg.  To put that into perspective, I weigh 109kg.  This car is fantastic and an engineering marvel.  I wish my high school did something like this.  I bet more people would pay attention if they did.

In reality, this little plastic car would never work on the road but as a way to involve students, unequaled.

So now if some 14-year olds can build a 200mpg car that doesn’t work on the road, why can’t our enormous manufacturers make anything that will do even 200mpg that woks on the road?

A few years ago I remember hearing about GM making a prototype car that would do 230mpg and thought, fantastic!  My car only gets about 30mpg.  Imagine the savings!  Unfortunately, when GM put their 230mpg car into production it only got 104mpg.  Still this is better than the all-time favorite green car that isn’t green, the Prius.

I have to say, the Prius is one of my favorite cars as well, but not for the reasons you might think.  It’s ugly, terrible to drive, inefficient (compared to diesel and other hybrids), slow, and ugly.  But besides all that, I like it because people seem to think that when they buy it, instead of say…a Range Rover, they are doing the world a favor.  Instead, what they don’t realize is that to make a Prius, more damage is done to the environment than driving a say…Range Rover for the rest of their life.

Personally, if I wanted a car that gets 40-50mpg I would wait for the 850cc Fiat 500 to come to the US and save some money on the price of the car to use on, well maybe a new PC…and a whole motorcycle.

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HP TouchSmart 610t

June 27, 2011 at 12:42 am (Tech)

A little bit ago in a city not so far away, I was looking at new computers in Best Buy for parental use.

I don’t know if anyone who reads this has ever tried to pick out a computer for parents, but it can be more of a pain than you can realize.  I have been trying to talk my dad into replacing the box of blue screens that he has been using for the past few years but he is determined to run it into the ground.  Much like what I’m doing with my desktop…but that’s a different story.

However, this day in Santa Rosa I was looking for a new computer with John for his parents.  They are currently running a custom built desktop from ages past that John feels could use some replacing.

While perusing a painfully expensive and poor selection of desktops and laptops we stumbled across an all-in-one HP.  Typically, I wouldn’t look twice at an all-in-one PC but that’s mainly because they typically don’t have dedicated graphics which is a must for any desktop that I would use.  However, for parents who don’t use the computer for much more than taxes and internet, dedicated graphics is a waste.

The computer in question is the HP TouchSmart 610t.  The stats for the base model are average for a non-gaming home computer and the price is just about right starting at $950.  In all, it is an average box for average use.  So why did it catch our eye?

Two words, one simple concept.  Touch Screen.

I know it’s a huge gimmick, it probably doesn’t work very well compared to the Lenovo laptops and everything has touch screens these days, even my kitchen sink, but when I used this average block of silicon and plastic it made me happy.  Like a ten year old at Christmas.

It was absurd.  I didn’t understand it.  It used the exact same keyboard and scribble to text widget that the HP laptops use and I hate but on this they were fun.  The PC comes with a keyboard and mouse which you can use as well but there was some strange satisfaction of poking a 23 inch LCD and seeing it do something besides break.

The stand even allows it to slide down so you can stand over it at a desk instead of sitting in front of it.  That in itself gave me tons of ideas on how to use it but it is also fairly light and because it has wireless only really needs a power cable.  I could have it setup in my room and bring it out to the kitchen or family room whenever I wanted.  I could take it outside if I wanted to do work on the deck on a beautiful summer day.  I could take it to the living room, plug it into the stereo system and use it like an awesome iPod that you don’t hate when you realize you don’t have to have iTunes messing with every setting and file on your desktop!

The possibilities of how I can use this thing are endless.  It even has a big brother!  The 610 Quad!  If I had $1,800, that 3.8GHz Core i7-2600, 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M and Blue-Ray Player would be in my room right now.  No question…

Wait…wasn’t I supposed to be looking for parents?

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