Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween 2005

Pictured is the pumpkin that Renee and I gutted on Saturday. We put it on the porch to signal our participation in the holiday. Then we promptly went out ourselves to collect ill gotten booty. For a hint of the majesty of Renee's costume, visit my Flickr account...

It was warmer than last year, and drier than the year before. If only I had not had this nasty cold. I was sucking on cough drops the whole time we were out there. Definitely takes some of the fun out of the holiday. I barely managed to get this trickle of photos up before running out of steam. So to wrap this post up, Halloween 2005 was a success, even with coughing. Take that, viral evil!

Sunday, October 30, 2005


I got a lot done this weekend, but I still feel like I missed doing more, since I've been feeling run down with some respiratory infection. Call it a cold, but no sniffles or sneezes, just coughing and rough lungs and sore throat. I'm hoping it's short-lived, especially as tomorrow evening is Halloween, my favorite holiday.

Last night we carved the pumpkin. Renee did all the carving, after I did 90% of the scraping and scooping. I was going to take a picture, but slacker that I am, I had let the battery of my camera go flat. I'm recharging it, and will try to get a picture up in the next day or so.

Renee has her costume, custom-built by her. It's all black, tight pants, dark shirt, furry boots, cat ears and a crimson cape. She initially thought she'd be a 'super cat', but now she's thinking she might be 'Darth Kitty'. If I can just hold out, I know it will be fun. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Rhythm of Life

So I was watching this video (very good, by the way), and the song just got stuck in my head. It took me awhile to nail it down, it's The Rhythm of Life, from Sweet Charity. I'm pretty sure I saw this movie when I was very young, but I don't remember it. More likely, I saw it while working the night shift at a ski lodge in my twenties. That's where I learned to love Fred Astaire, after all.

I'd like to buy it, but I'm not sure it's available. Sure, you can buy the CD for the current Broadway revival with Christina Applegate, but that's not the one in the commercial. The singer in the commercial does sound like Sammy Davis, Jr., who sang the movie version, but the sample on Amazon sounds like a different arrangement. I wonder if it's a remix? A few years ago I bought a remix of Elvis Presley's A Little Less Conversation. They used his original vocals, lots of filters, synthesizers, and what not to punch it up. I think something like that was done to The Rhythm of Life.

Well, I'll keep an eye open for it, and in the meantime, maybe I'll try to rent Sweet Charity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Three Umami and a Little Lady

Saturday afternoon I mixed up a batch of the fajita marinade that we enjoyed so much, and threw in a pound of chicken and a pound of pork. After refrigerating it for twenty-four hours, I sauteed a medium red onion and one jalapeno. I chopped the meats into one inch cubes and added them to the onions. Then I opened a can of diced tomatoes, added them and two diced roma tomatoes, and cooked the whole shebang for another ten minutes over a medium heat.

It was all very juicy, so I strained off some of the juice, and put the mix into a bowl to cool. We had it for lunch on Sunday, wrapped in flour tortillas. It was very tasty. Monday night, it was even better. I'm adding this to my permanent recipe book. Now I'm thinking about variations. Jean suggested some sort of lettuce or celery, or cabbage. I must ponder...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who Is He Talking To?

Okay, some fairly spirited swearing here, if that sort of thing bothers you, but I was laughing uncontrollably by the ending: Yes.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Jean got me hooked on sudoku, the constraint solving puzzle that's enjoying a surge of popularity right now. This is exactly the sort of puzzle I love, which runs on pure logic, solving a puzzle based solely on reasoning out the constraints present in the starting conditions (a previous obsession of this nature: pixel puzzles). To be frank, I've been skipping posts on the weblog because I've spent me spare evening time solving sudoku. Initially I was running through paper puzzles available from, but I just bought the Astraware Sudoku program for my new Palm Pilot, and I use that now. Wait for the novelty to wear off, and you'll probably hear from me again...

Summer Squash and Corn

Meaty main courses were not my only goals this weekend. I pulled a recipe out of Aprovecho: A Mexican-American Border Cookbook (neat book from the library). The ingredient list runs sort of:

  • 2.5 pounds zucchini, thinly sliced

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen corn

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the other ingredients and cook, stirring. The book says five minutes, but I cooked it ten or fifteen, and it seems just perfect to me. This is hella tasty!

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This weekend's main course was Chicken Cordon Bleu. Pretty tasty, rich as befits a three umami dish. I'm afraid the chicken breasts were my master, as I was unable to pound them thin enough to make for a decent roll. The four 'cordons' were big honking fat things, and I had to cook things twice as long as the recipe called for. But the taste and moistness were spot on, so in all, a success.

I got to thinking tonight about the 'umami' notes in this dish, both with the pork and the sodium from the ham curing, and the swiss cheese. This makes this a very filling, hearty dish. I got to wondering if I could make a similar trifecta of umami with some variations. How about chicken (not very umami, but a good base), pork (lowering the sodium content, but retaining the umami traits of pork) and tomatoes (one of the few vegetables with a high umami quotient)? I thought I'd dice the chicken, shred the pork, rough dice the tomatoes, and cook them in a light oil, like EVOO or saflower oil. Then toss this in with some pasta, such as farfalle. Or maybe make a layered dish like ravioli. Or wrap the umami mix in a corn tortilla! Ooo, getting excited here!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Last night my Palm m500 went toes up. A soft reset brought it back to life briefly, but it died again, then again. The final time, it made a pretty pattern on the LCD before giving up the ghost completely. It's now unable to synch, unable to start, nada.

Unlike my friends who used one, and have since outgrown it, and unlike the buzz on the 'net, where everyone and his brother proclaims that we will all just use PDA/cellphone combos (ugh), I'm not ready to depart the PDA club. So I went to Fry's over lunch and bought a Palm Tungsten E2.

A couple of years has passed since I bought the m500, so it's entertaining to me to compare some of the specs:

screen160X160 mono320X320 color
processor speed33 MHz200 MHz
memory8 MB26 MB

Of course, the E2 is a higher end model, and I have to say that it's fit and finish is cheaper than the m500's. Still more horsepower than I need. It's charging as I write this. I have no idea if it will be satisfactory, but I wanted to note it here so I'll be more aware of the exact lifespan of this unit.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Weekend Recipes

I see I've pulled a 'Tom', in not posting for nearly two weeks. So just to prove I'm not dead, I'll share my latest recipe experiments:

Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken (this link is behind a free registration firewall, and will likely disappear behind a subscription firewall in a few weeks). This is a really simple recipe, and tastes great. It is very spicy. Not too hot, really, just 'floral' spicy, though it's true that there's cayenne in there too. The thing I like most about this recipe is that you cook the ingredients (onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, chicken stock, chicken), then you puree it in a blender! That was a lot of fun. Oh, and set aside the chicken before blending. I chopped the chicken into 1/2 inch chunks, and added it back to the puree for a bit more cooking afterwards. This recipe makes a lot of soup (the chicken stock alone is seven cups), so I'm freezing some of it. I loves me soup!

Pork Loin with Prune Sauce. This came out of some magazine Jean has, so I don't have a link to a recipe. It's another really simple recipe. Really simple. Thinly slice an onion, cook over a low heat with a tablespoon of EVOO. The aim here is to soften, not caramelize. Add finely minced two cloves of garlic and cook a little while longer. In a separate saucepan you'll prepare 3/4 cup of chopped prunes, ?? cup of apple cider and a teaspoon of cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, then simmer over a low heat until reduced by half. Throw the mix in with the onions.

In the meantime, cook your pork loins, first searing in a pan (couple of minutes) then baked in an oven at 400 degrees. When they're done (internal temperature around 140 degrees), take 'em out and pour the prune sauce over 'em. Serve and enjoy.

I think I need to marinate the pork loin with something, as to get them cooked properly toughened them up. Or next time I'll substitute pork tenderloin and make medallions, as the sauce will work with that too.