December 03, 2004

Unpacking

Went and helped DaveB unpack/assemble his new condo. He and his parents had spent the day moving all the stuff, so the job was mostly done. After that we got dinner at Moxie's. I had a 3-mushroom sirloin steak that wasn't terrific, but I enjoyed the company and conversation.

Posted by JAY at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2004

Comment Spam

Over the last couple of weeks I've gotten a lot of comment spam, which tries to increase Google page-ranking by posting links to their websites. It's not a big deal because I tend to go in an mass-delete them with SQL in the database. However, I thought I'd try a better solution: MT Blacklist. We'll see how it turns out.

Posted by JAY at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2004

Too Cold

Bah! I'm not swimming today. It's too cold!

Posted by JAY at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

Recipe: Garlic Pasta Plus

This was soo good that I had to eat 2 servings. So now I need to swim, after all. It's an Italian pasta with garlic - except with stuff that I had around tossed in - like bacon fat instead of olive oil! The recipe (with less fatty alternatives) follows. Hmm, according to the timestamp, this recipe took less than 12 minutes to make - not counting the time that the water was coming to a boil. I typed this up as I was finishing my second helping.

Garlic Pasta Plus

fettucini

1/4 cup olive oil or bacon fat
1 shallot/small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
shrimp (optional)
cauliflower (optional)
green onion, chopped
fine bread crumbs
lemon juice (optional)
salt, pepper

Boil the dried fettucini according to the directions, in well salted water.
If your shrimp/veggies are frozen (mine were), defrost them in the boiling water first.
(Veggies should be boiled until tender - a strainer makes defrosting easier.)

While the fettucini cooks (usually about 10 minutes), heat the oil in a large fry pan over medium heat and cook the shallots/onions until translucent.

Add the garlic. Stir, then add the shrimp and veggies. Stir until the shrimp are cooked bright pink.

When the pasta is done, strain it (don't rinse) and then toss it into the frying pan.

Toss the pasta and oil together over heat.

Toss in a handful of bread crumbs and the green onions.

Season generously with salt and pepper.

Serves 2 (or cook more pasta - proportions don't really matter)

Posted by JAY at 05:26 PM | Comments (0)

Mixed Virtue

Feeling virtuous because I swam for a whole hour, trying to work off at least one of those helpings of pasta. Feelin' guilty - because I totally cut someone off while swimming. I stopped and apologized, but I don't think the guy was mollified since he left the pool shortly thereafter. Oh well.

Posted by JAY at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2004

Peppermill Woes

Sigh. My peppermill is broken! This sucks, because I use freshly ground black pepper in almost everything. It looks like the glue between the grinding mechanism and the case has come loose, leaving me unable to open the damned thing.

Luckily, I'd just read a review of this peppermill in one of the cooking magazines (yes, I'm pathetic) that I read. Apparently, it's the king of all peppermills. I'm going to try to find a retail store in Canada that I can buy it at.

Posted by JAY at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2004

Credit Card Woes

Oh man! In the past month I've had THREE problems with my credit cards! What the hell?

In the middle of November I got a call from my Mastercard company telling me that they had detected fraudulent use of my card. So they credited it back and I got a new one. However, the day after I talked to them, I got a card in the mail. That confused me until I saw that my card had been expiring so this was a new card - but not the NEW card with a different number!

When I got my VISA statement, there was an internet charge there (by some internet billing company). I haven't even used that card for months - in fact, I don't even usually open the statements - I just stack them. Luckily, I opened this one!

And just now, while I was looking over my Mastercard statments to reconcile my books, I found a duplicate transaction from yet ANOTHER restaurant. Argh. What a pain!!

Posted by JAY at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

Tech/Me/Hate

Technology, money and I have not been gettin along recently. Added to the credit card woes, this morning my work PC hard drive crashed on me. Yesterday, the virus scanner kept insisting that the script I was writing was a virus and deleting it. (And it deleted some others that I subsequently looked for during a conference call and made me look stupid.) Then, I got home today and BAM! the power goes out for a couple of hours. I start looking at the credit card bill and notice that Swiss Chalet double billed me for lunch about a month ago. The telephone bill comes and it looks like they charged me for my credit card being declined.

They didn't, despite the line item for the "Adjustment for credit card payment declined". There's also a line item for "Payment received Nov 16 - Thank You" that apparently is not the line that successfully went through... apparently THAT'S the payment that was declined.

Clear as mud, huh.

Posted by JAY at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2004

Tempering Chocolate

Made some almond bark for the people at work today (it's some "12 days of Christmas" thing where people sign up for a day and bring snacks.) I don't usually temper white chocolate because you can't see the white bloom on it anyway. However, dark chocolate needs to be tempered because the white streaks are unsightly.

I'v never tempered chocolate before, but I had my electronic meat thermometer handy, so I figured I'd give it a try. Insructions follow (though the link above is the source). It seemed to work well... my test sample of untempered chocolate bloomed white while the tempered chocolate stayed nice and dark.

Melt 2/3 of the chocolate in the double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water that is not touching the bottom of the container holding the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate until it reaches a temperature of approximately 45イ/113ェ.

Remove the top of the double boiler containing the chocolate and place it on a towel on the counter.

Beat in the remaining 1/3 of chopped chocolate letting the mixture cool to approximately: 31イ/87.8ェ for semisweet chocolate, 29イ/84.2ェ for milk chocolate, and 28リC/82.4ェ for white chocolate.

Mixture should be smooth and glossy. Hold at that temperature by moving the container on and off the hot water while you dip or mold your chocolates.

Posted by JAY at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

Holiday Cooking


Spent most of yesterday baking stuff for tomorrow at the office. We sign up for making treats. On the menu is lemon bars, almond bark and chocolate chip cookies... pictures and recipes later.

Posted by JAY at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

Moving Help

Went this afternoon to help DaveB move some of his old furniture and garbage out of his apartment. It's too bad really - most of it was still in fairly good condition, just a bit dated. Someone swiped a side table from where we put it at the front of the building, so that's good, at least.

Posted by JAY at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

Recipe: Lemon Bars

You can take a look at them here.

This recipe is being put here so that I don't lose it. This recipe came from a cookbook I borrowed from the library in grade school. I can't remember the title, but it was "Big Book of Cookies" or something like that. It's very simple and quick to make (at least with a Kitchenaid stand mixer).

I've added the zest of the lemon to the filling to make it even more lemony but not more sour. Using a microplane grater for this works very well - it gets just the yellow part and just cuts it off gently.

Lemon Bars

Crust:
  • 1 c butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c powdered (icing) sugar
  • 2c flour
Cut together like pastry with 2 knives until the pieces look like peas
Press into greased 9x13 pan (or line the pan with parchment paper).
Bake for 15 min at 350 and let cool

Filling:
  • 4 eggs
  • 2c white sugar
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbs lemon juice
  • zest of 2 lemons
Beat eggs/sugar with a whip/whisk attachment until thick and smooth. It'll fall from the spatula in thick ribbons. This will take 10 min, or about 3 with the Kitchenaid stand mixer.
Add the rest and mix well.
Pour over baked layer and bake for 20 minutes.
Let cool, then cut and dust with powdered sugar.
Posted by JAY at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2004

Prime Rib Dinner

Tonight's dinner was an awesome prime rib (on sale at Loblaw's this week) with a reduction of porcini mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, shallots and sun-dried tomatoes.

The beef was awesome - slow roasted at 250 degrees F. The reduction was great on the beef but a bit too acidic on the rice. It would've been perfect on mashed potatoes, but I already had leftover rice in the fridge. Tomorrow, maybe.

Posted by JAY at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2004

Crab Sh/nack

Was feeling for a snack. Nothing too sweet or too salty. Went searching in the freezer and came up with a couple of king crab legs. A bit of steam later and they were delicious!

I was kind of impatient, so I didn't do anything but cut open the shell and eat them. Next time maybe some melted butter and black pepper would be nice.

Posted by JAY at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

Global Footprint

I've got a fairly small ecological footprint, just 4.2 global hectares when most Canadians require 8.8 hectares. Of course, it helps that I live close to work and don't drive.

Does it surprise anyone that 2.8 of those hectares are dedicated to food? Yeah, I eat a lot, with meat or dairy in almost every meal. I answered that 1/4 or my food is processed, but that might be high - it was just that the only other choice lower was " Most of the food I eat is unprocessed, unpackaged and locally grown" and definitely most of the stuff I get is at least packaged.

So if I stopped eating, there'd be more than enough food for everyone! I'd basically have to turn vegan to reduce the planet's needs to 1 planet.

Posted by JAY at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2004

Exhausted

I don't know why, but I feel totally exhausted. I'm nodding off sitting here at the computer. I've been getting a fair amount of sleep too, so I'm a bit confused.

Posted by JAY at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

Showering

So I took my first shower in the morning before work. I wasn't going to take a total shower because I had showered last night. I was just going to rinse off - then I couldn't resist ducking my head under and shampooing.

After work today I took another long shower because I had been around cigarette smoke and needed to get it off me.

Now I'm wondering if I want to exercise, because I'd have to shower again - and 3x in one day is a bit strange. At least I'm not paying for the utilities!

Posted by JAY at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2004

Still Wiped

I was so tired coming home that I slept fitfully on the bus. I've been known to miss my stop going to work in the morning but this is the first time I've missed the LAST stop at the GO station coming home. I came around a few minutes after the bus pulled out of the station with the "Not in Service" light going.

Who knows where I could've ended up? (The bus depot somewhere, I imagine.)

I totally blame Tad William's excellent book War of the Flowers for keeping me up last night.

Posted by JAY at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2004

Emergency Room

Well, I just spent 2.5 hours in the emergency room. It was pretty surreal.

My food has been fighting back lately. Yesterday I got sliced up by some cans that I was trying to open with a broken can opener. Today I was eating a salmon filet (filet, mind you!) and a bone got lodged in my throat.

6 hours later, even after eating fried chicken and potatoes (yes, a second dinner) it was still there and getting sore. I tried to get it out myself - I could feel it with my fingers! - and nearly threw up. Three times. Argh.

So I check the Internet for what to do and the first three sites I visit tell me to go to the hospital because it can pierce the esophagus and you can die. I'm like "wha? FINE, then!"

Feeling like an idiot, I throw on a pair of sweat pants and start walking to the hospital. As I leave, it occurs to me that brushing my teeth would be a good idea if someone's going to be staring down my throat. So I do.

Strangely, the triage nurse gets me signed in faster than my mom did when she was having a mini-stroke-like-thingy. I get led to a curtained room and told to strip and put on a gown. I'm thinking "I don't have any underwear under my sweat pants... and what the hell? It's my throat!" Before I can voice my objections, though, the nurse amends it to just my shirt. OK.

I waited for an hour before another nurse (also named Jason, strangely enough) comes in with an IV bag! He tells me that the doctor might want to use some anesthetic so it'll save time if I'm already on an IV. I'm thinking: "It's just a bloody fishbone!" What I say is: "Um, I was just expecting someone to shine a flashlight down my throat and rip it out with tweezers."

A bit of negotiation follows:
"I'll be gentle."
"I think I'd like to wimp out."
"That's OK, we'll leave it for now, then"
"Thanks."
"No problem, it's your veins."
Whew! And ew, it sounds like we're negotiating something else (change the last word). Ok, now stop laughing before I kick your ass.

Finally, another hour later (I'm probably last on the list, and I don't blame them!) the doctor comes in to take a look. He sticks a light and popsicle stick down my throat and sees the bone. I sheepishly explain to him and the 4 nurses/orderlies/students following him that it's not a big deal but the Internet told me to come in. He nods and mentions that piercing the esophagus can be dangerous.

He ends up going for a some tweezer thingies but still can't get it out. So he goes to find a "headlight", a cool fiber optic spotlight that he can wear on his head. He tells me to pant like a dog to prevent gagging and say "Ahhh".

OK. First thing: I'm glad I brushed my teeth before going to the hospital. Second: Panting in and out while saying "ah" is pretty much impossible. Try it. It's pretty much a porno loop. Third thing: Telling him this while he has my tongue painfully gripped in a piece of gauze is also impossible. And oww!

Anyway... I end up almost throwing up in his face. I barely avoid this by throwing myself backwards and covering my mouth with my hands. He looks relieved and comments that he might have gone too far down.

The bad news is that he can't find the bone anymore. The good news is that I don't feel it anymore, either. We conclude that it must've been dislodged by his tweezers and went down my gullet. (Drat, I kinda wanted to take the bone home!)

I'm just glad he SAW the bone the first time and doesn't think that I was making up stories. Yeesh. My throat feels fine now, just a bit swollen, but my stomach is still upset.

Posted by JAY at 02:40 AM | Comments (0)

Decor Centre

Also, went to the Decor Center with Dave K. Lots of nice tiles and cabinetry to choose from... like 20 of each or more, all standard! Also, apparently my builder tiles the ceilings of bathtubs, which is kind of nice (the paint always seems to peel there).

More, with pics, tomorrow.

Posted by JAY at 03:04 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2004

Snow Dump

Jeez, there's a lot of snow coming down. Between the time I left home and went back to work, there was another 3/4 foot of snow on the ground. It makes for pretty miserable walking. Although I'm sure that it's even worse for driving, so I should count my blessings.

Posted by JAY at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2004

Decor Centre

Going back in time (before the hospital trip!) back to the Decor Center. This was an exploratory mission - apparently, they won't have prices for my subdivision for a while. However, all of the stuff remains the same. There was a really good selection. To the left you can see most of the standard countertop finishes (I can't afford the upgraded stone or Corian countertops). You can also see a selection of standard floor tiles - though this is only one third of them. There were 2 more panels of standard tiles and 2 more with upgraded ones. Whew!

I can also buy appliances from the builder. A standard set of 5 appliances would apparently cost about $3700, but they don't offer a gas stove, so I won't be getting that, at least.

I've got $3000 in upgrades already paid for, and I'm willing to add maybe another $1000. In rough order of what I'd like to get:

-fridge*
-drawers for the upstairs bathrooms*
-corner units for the cupboards*
-roughed-in central vac (depends on price)
-upgraded carpet underpadding
-washer/dryer (if there's any money left)

*mandatory

Still working on the color schemes.

Posted by JAY at 01:26 AM | Comments (2)

December 27, 2004

Jax Snax

Mmm, Jackie gave me a plateful of Christmas cookies! Of course, they were all gone in one night. There were lemon-raspberry squares, french chocolates, hazelnut shortbread, strawberry thumbprints, pecan tartlets, peanut butter cookies and, my favorites, Neiman Marcus cookies. Yay!

Posted by JAY at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

Boxing Day Buys

Well, it's a day late but I went to the Cookstown Outlet Mall and spent more money - money that I should be saving for my down payment! Oh well. These were really good deals.

The best deal was a Paderno 4L saucepan. Regular $135, this one was only $64. It's a "second" - there are some cosmetic defects in the aluminium disc on the bottom and it was further marked down for Boxing Day. Actually, they had forgotten to take down the sale sign, so it was supposed to be more expensive.

I also picked up some mini tart pans for half price (inspired by Jackie's mini pecan tartlets, I guess!). Finally, I also picked up a set or Pyrex glassware with covers for $13 (regularly $31).

Now I'm really tired...

Posted by JAY at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2004

Furnishing Jason

Vince and Nives donated a lovely coffee table and two side tables that they didn't need anymore. They're rattan, though very substantial as the rattan is woven around a wooden frame. They also had glass custom cut to fit the indentation in the tops of the tables. I've left the glass wrapped in the protective foam until I move. Thanks guys!

Posted by JAY at 09:48 PM | Comments (1)

Don't start...

... what you can't finish!

Sigh. I just put a HUGE pot of scalloped potatoes in the oven to cook. It's made in the classical manner, with a seasoned loose white sauce (ok, I added bacon). It'll probably take about 2 hours+ to cook, and I'm kind of tired.

I made it because I'm out of rice, don't have any meat thawed and had a lot of dairy in the fridge - cream, milk, cheese (for the crust at the end). I'm a bit worried that the white sauce is a bit thick, but we'll see.

Posted by JAY at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2004

Stupid Oven

Argh! The oven fuse blew, and now my scalloped potatoes aren't cooked! Wah! Strangely, unscrewing the fuse and putting it back in seems to have fixed it partially. I'm getting power to the top element now.

Sigh. Hopefully it fixes it.

Posted by JAY at 01:12 AM | Comments (0)

Scalloped Potatos

The scalloped potatoes taste really good, so I thought I'd jot down some notes. This is a pretty classic scalloped potato dish, made with a creamy white sauce. I've added bacon for flavor (I don't cook vegetarian!) and a gratin crust of breadcrumbs and cheese.

It tastes good hot or cold. The best is to chill it in the fridge so that it can be easily cut and then broil it with more breadcrumbs and cheese.

Loose Herbed White Sauce
In a 2 liter+ saucepan:
Fry 3 chopped strips of bacon till crispy.
Add 3 medium sliced onions, black pepper, salt and fry.
Add 1/4 cup of butter and melt.
Stir in 1/3 cup of flour and stir for 7 min.
Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic.
Whisk/stir in 1 cup cream and 2 cups milk
Bring to a boil, stirring.

Potatoes:
Peel and slice thinly 6-8 yukon gold potatoes

Layer the potatoes and sauce in a large buttered casserole.

Bake covered at 375 degrees F until potatoes are soft (about 2 hours)
Bake uncovered for a while, until top is a bit crispy.

Optional:
Uncover, sprinkle breadcrumbs and grated cheddar. Broil until cheese is bubbling.

Posted by JAY at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 31, 2004

Tsunami Relief Fund

Please donate if you can.

Posted by JAY at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)