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T Minus 7 Days to National Turkification November 16, 2012

Posted by Mitchell in Food.
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Thanksgiving draweth nigh! Are you prepared? I’m nearly there, myself. I have a few more things to pick up. Normally we do Thanksgiving at my parent’s house with Mom cooking the turkey and side dishes with my Dad doing the dressing. This time it’s going to be different. I’m cooking the turkey and we’ll have dinner here. They’ll still do all the side dishes and dressing and bring it all here. Over the years Mom has tried all sorts of ways to cook “the perfect turkey”. She finds new techniques in magazines and on cooking shows. Unsurprisingly, Martha Stewart has often played a role here. Still, things never quite seem to go the way they do on TV. Go figure. There’s one way she’s never tried though, and that’s the way I’m going to do it: deep frying baby! 

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve heard that deep fried turkeys are the best, but isn’t it terribly dangerous?” Yes, I’ve heard this very often myself. But I have a couple things going for me – 1) I’m not a moron, and B) Alton Brown. Shortly after last Thanksgiving I found out he did a “Good Eats” show were he showed how to brine and deep-fry a turkey very safely. This is the method I’m going to use, right down to a T. Happily somebody uploaded it to Youtube. Here’s part one:

I bought the burner, the pot and the big brining cooler on Amazon. Free shipping for Prime members! Amazing. Also, they’re the exact same ones that Alton uses – look for the Bayou Classic brand items for frying, Igloo for brining. Tomorrow we’re going to pick up the turkey at Whole Foods. I’m looking for a Mary’s Heritage Free Range turkey. No Butterball here, which by the way are all slaughtered in accordance with Halal standards. They label very few as such though.

I’m hoping and expecting that this will be the best turkey ever. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out!

Happy Thanksgiving! November 24, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Food.
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As per usual I will be dining with the Parental Units this afternoon. A our Thanksgiving meal Dad’s cornbread dressing is actually the star and everything else is the side dish. Maybe next year we’ll have the meal over here and I will cook the turkey. I really, really want to do this:

I’ve never had a fried turkey, but I’ve heard they’re awfully good.

Oh, and thanks for everyone who still drops by this place. I know it’s not been very good lately but I am going to try to be better.

In Other News… May 3, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Bad Times Ahead, Food.
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Today the Army Corp of Engineers are going to blow up a levee in Missouri and flood about 130,000 acres of our farmland. Because of the Osama Bin Laden thing this is getting no interest in anything anywhere, but this will likely impact all of our lives in a few months a hell of a lot larger in terms of food prices down the road, not to mention the people who actually live and work in that area immediately. Why are they doing this? Well, ostensibly it’s to save the downstream upstream town of Cairo.  This is being billed as preventing another “Katrina” except that it isn’t as the scale of the results are hardly comparable. No, this is actually for another, much more worrisome problem entirely.

Stock up on food & water folks. We’re in for Ugly Times.

Edited – this is to relieve the already Mississippi flooding in anticipation of expected additional flows that will hammer upstream flood control devices. They have to pull the plug now for the flows already coming down stream. There are additional “plugs” that may have to be pulled as it works it’s way down. This could be Real Bad.

Pappa’s Got a Brand New Bag February 15, 2011

Posted by Mitchell in Food, Leather.
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More Saddlebackian Leathery goodness:

This is the small satchel and it was one of Dave’s Deals a week or so ago. I just couldn’t resist. Actually I’ve started to regard these things as necessary utilitarian items rather than expensive indulgences. This thing will be great for an emergency first aid kit or tool bag. There was one of the backpacks in Dave’s Deals that I almost pulled the trigger on too. It’s gone now of course. Oh well, there will be something else there soon.

On another matter I took The Parental Units out for dinner last weekend and we visited The Golden Steer for the first time. This is a nice steakhouse that’s been around since 1958 – a thick slice of Old Vegas. The Rat Pack and Elvis used to eat there, among many other celebrities over the years. It was fabulous. Definitely equal to any of the other nice places we’ve been to here. If you’re ever in town I really recommend it. It’s on Sahara just west of the Strip on the north side of the street. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once you’re in it’s like you’re transported to another era; all the waiters are wearing tuxedos. Expect to pay a bit though – dinner for three was about $260 with the tip.

Good Gravy November 17, 2010

Posted by Mitchell in Food.
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This post is inspired by a discussion over at NSKMD.  Go read that then come back here.  Done?  Good, now you’re up to speed.

I’m not much of a one for cooking. When I’m at home I’m mostly a sandwich guy.  I used to be a cook in my younger days and frankly detested it.  That said, I love food and one of my favorite things of all time is a plateful of biscuits and gravy.  You know what is the hardest thing to find in any restaurant anywhere?  Decent biscuits & gravy.  The biscuit half isn’t too hard, lots of places have pretty good biscuits.  But finding good, brown gravy is nigh impossible.  No, pretty much everybody serves up the same fluffy white sausage gravy.  Which is Jimmy Dean’s brand gravy BTW.  It was what we used at IHOP and I recognize the flavor everywhere.  It comes in a big, frozen tube.  Anyway.  Mom makes the best brown gravy I’ve ever had and she taught it to me.  It’s actually made up of pretty simple ingredients and not too hard to make.  Mostly it’s just getting the timing of each stage right and not scorching your flour.

Get out your pen and and an index card and write this down:

3 tablespoons All purpose flour
3 tablespoons of bacon grease (or other critter squeezin’s)
1 can of beef broth (Campbell’s double strength) + 1/3 can of water
Pepper to taste

Put your critter squeezin’ in a large-ish skillet and put it on medium-high heat.  Add the flour and stir constantly.  You’re going to cook flour until it just turns over brown.  This is the ticklish part.  If you don’t cook it long enough it’s just going to taste like flour.  Leave it on too long it will scorch and you have to start over.  When it’s just the right brown take off heat (see below), add the liquids and stir like mad. It will thicken quickly, stir to avoid making lumps.  It will be a bit loose at this stage so you put back on heat and stir until correct thickness. Add pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

This is the right color brown.

Heaven on a plate
Food of the Gods.

Gettin’ Up In My Grill May 28, 2010

Posted by Mitchell in Food, Home.
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Another thing I bought last weekend was my very first grill!  Yes, it’s a bit odd that I’m 40 and only now own a grill, but I don’t like to cook in general so I just never got around to it.  I guess it goes back to being a cook in my younger days and I generally hated those jobs but I didn’t have any other marketable skill so that’s what I did.  Anyway, my new way of eating dictates that I avoid pre-cooked, pre-packaged foods and most white-flour carb-type stuff which eliminates, ohhh about 90% of the stuff available in the typical grocery store.  My idea is to grill up a bunch of fresh animal things on the weekend that I can dole out through the week for lunch and dinner.  This lets me avoid doing a lot of cooking and yet makes it easier to stay on the diet.  That’s the plan anyway.  But enough jibber-jabber – let’s meet the meatcooker!


This is the Char-Broil Quantum Infrared grill. One of the guys at work raved about his infrared grill and couldn’t recommend it high enough. I looked at several at Lowe’s and Home Depot and was considering a somewhat less expensive, yet bigger conventional grill.  But there’s just me and I don’t really need a big, four-burner grill so I went with this one instead.  Interestingly, Home Depot and Lowe’s sell similar yet slightly different versions of this grill at the exact same price.  I went with the Lowe’s version because the store was a bit closer.  The Big Thing about IR grills is that the heat is indirect so it’s supposedly more even heating while protecting against overcooking but it’s still really hot.  So far I’ve only used it once for a bunch of chicken breasts and they turned out very good.  Here’s a close-up of the business end of the thing:

I didn’t do a bunch of research on grills before I went out and got this one and the reviews I’ve read since then are a bit of a mixed bag.  It seems that Char-Broil grills are a bit prone to rusting.  Fortunately since I live in the driest desert in North America I don’t see that being too big of a problem :-).  Another complaint I read about this is how the holes get clogged easily and then it stops working right.  But then there are a bunch of others that absolutely love this thing.  I guess I’ll find out on which side I’ll be on soon enough.

So, since I’m new at this grilling thing, any suggestions from the Peanut Gallery?  Any advise and/or recipes are welcome!

Trance Thursday March 25, 2010

Posted by Mitchell in Food, Health, Music, Never Give Up, Never Surrender!, Trance.
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Even as we mull the relative immanent damnation or salvation of our country there is still time to pause and enjoy some of the cool things we have now.  One of which is a trance hit from a couple years ago – Who Will Find Me by DJ Shah featuring Adrina Thorpe.  This is the soft acoustic version, so even if you’re not a big fan of the heavier beat dance / trance stuff you’ll still like this one:

One of the things I like about this genre of music is the tendency for artists to make multiple versions of their best songs.  This one has at least seven that I know of, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find still other versions out there remixed by other artists as well.  I always enjoy listening to different takes on songs that I really like. 

Thanks for the visits and I’ll type some more at you later.

 The Litany Against Cake*

I must not eat cake.
Cake is the diet-killer.
Cake is the big-sugar that brings total obliteration.
I will face the cake.
I will permit it to pass by me but not through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its pudgy path.
Where the cake has gone there will be nothing.
Only the diet will remain.

*Apologies to Frank Herbert

Recession Just Got Worse for the Big & Tall Clothing Store March 10, 2010

Posted by Mitchell in Food, Health, Shrinking.
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 100 POUNDS!!

As of this morning I finally cracked the three digit barrier on my weight-loss journey!  Technically, it’s 100 and 1/2 pounds, and yes, I celebrate each 1/2 pound victory.  Oh sure, 100 is just another number and doesn’t have any real significance outside of a base 10 numerical system, but it is an important psychological achievement nevertheless.  The last few weeks were very frustrating for me since I wasn’t making much significant progress.  Hell, I was at the 98 pound mark for about three weeks and the complete inability to lose even 2 measly pounds in that time was extremely discouraging, even after really going at it that last week.  I had hit the dreaded “plateau”.  As far as I’ve come in the months since last summer I still have way too far to go to fracking plateau.  Obviously, I needed to make some changes – what had worked pretty well so far just wasn’t working anymore.

I Had To Get Medieval on My Ass

The rules of the diet and weight loss game aren’t really all that hard to understand: shovel less food into the pie-hole and move the butt more.  If calories in < calories out then weight goes down.  Easy peasy!  Of course, it’s the implementation part that trips us up and serves as the basis for a multi-billion dollar industry.  The mind is willing, but the flesh is very, very weak.  Particularly when you’ve got so much of it laying around like I do.  The first thing I decided to do is take a hard look at the pie hole end of the the equation.

Over the last few months I let a lot of little things back into my diet.  Little snacks that I used to have occasionally were now much more common or a lot bigger (hell, sometimes even both) than what I used to eat.  A tablespoon of ice cream every couple days was now several teaspoons every day, for instance.  All that had to go.  And bread.  I LOVE my sourdough bread and it was hard to give up previously.  So I started eating it again.  Just a slice here and there at first you know, but now it too was pretty much every day.  That’s gone again.  I’ve been eating too much fruit as well, so I cut that way back.  Anyway, you get the idea.  Less food overall and WAY fewer carbs than I was indulging in.  I have to be a carb-hawk anyway because of the Diabeetus, but my blood sugars have were behaving so I wasn’t as disciplined as I was when I started.  I’m back to non-starchy veggies, lean protein, moderate fats (it will be a cold day in Hell indeed before I give up my cheese) and what sugar/carbs I get from some fruit.

New Butt Moves

Next I reasessed my exercise routine.  Previously, 5 days per week of grinding it out for 41 minutes on the treadmill was sufficient.  Note that I’m moving it pretty good while I’m on there – this ain’t strolling.  I have it jacked up to the highest incline and I averaged around 4.75 mph.  According to the calorie computer on the treadmill that’s good for over 1,000 calories per trip.  I’m usually too tired afterward to do much else and don’t have much time anyway so that’s pretty much all I would do.  It used to be good enough.  I think my body got used to this routine and I don’t get the big calorie bang anymore.  Now I cut the treamill down to 26 minutes, but do it at a higher intensity and use the rest of the time getting to know the weight machines and another 10 minutes of body weight exercises at home.  And I get away from my desk for about 15 minutes at lunch and do some juggling with my set of juggling balls that weigh 3 pounds each.

I started all this on Monday.  I’m now hungry and sore.  I also kicked out 3 pounds in two days. 


We’re Gonna Fight It May 18, 2009

Posted by Mitchell in Food, Home, Science & Technology.
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Isabelle has her good days and her bad days.  I guess I tend to write these updates on bad days when the the Blue Bird of Optimism gets its butt kicked by the Black Bired of Despair.  Today the Blue Bird decided it was time for smash-beak payback.

Last night she did better with the hand feeding than she has in a while.  I ran out of the food the vet gave me last week and started her on some different Fancy Feast stuff mixed with water.  Maybe that’s been one of the problems:  too much of the same thing all the time.  I’m going to have several flavors mixed up so she gets a lot more variety than she has been getting.  I also figured out a different way to approach her with the syringe so I’m not doing from the same side of her mouth all the time.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she was just sore over there.  Gentler feedings = less stress = less barfings hopefully.

I did finally speak with the vet last night at 7:30.  Her office is actually closed on Sundays but I don’t think she actually takes many days off.  The new medicine is in and it did have to be made special for the dosages but it’s not terribly expensive at $24 per bottle.  I dunno how many doses per bottle but I figure at least 20 so that’s not bad.  The vet is also arranging that I get it at cost so it’s even less than what it could be.  I asked her how long it would be before we saw results and she said it would probably be a couple weeks, but she’s seen cases that turned around faster than that.  I’ll pick it up tomorrow.

Isabelle isn’t in any obvious pain, and occasionally she displays flashes of her old self when she jumps up on the bed or couch to join me for a little while.  I don’t think she’s ready to “go gentle into that good night” just yet and I intend to give her the best opportunity that I can.  I’ll see if I can get some lunchtime flexibility to come home during the afternoon for an extra feeding.  I think I probably can and it would probably help a long way.  Also my night class is over for a bit and that will help too.

By Grapthar’s Hammer we’re gonna beat this thing.

New Blog On the Block January 12, 2008

Posted by Mitchell in Destined for the Gulags, Food, Shrinking.
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Well, I started another blog – Fat Man Blogging.  As you might expect from the title, it’s where I’m going to record my efforts to lose weight and related information.  Why another blog, when I hardly ever do anything with this one?  Because I can and it’s free.  Also, I want to keep a tight focus without a bunch of extraneous stuff.  I am going to try and keep it updated every day.  Drop by if you’re inclined!