August 01, 2005

Impulse Purchasing

Heh, I think I'm already experiencing buyer's remorse. I just bought a Magic Bullet online. Oy.

It took a confluence of marketing to get me to buy this gimmick: my sister and a coworker started talking about one, a cheesey infomercial was on TV today, Canadian Tire had a free shipping coupon and the price was about the same as in the infomercial.

Actually, the infomercial had 2 for $120, which is a bit cheaper (not once you add the $56 shipping and handling, though). I just wanted to try one, not two. So I guess we'll see.

Why I need one of these is beyond me. I already have a Kitchenaid stand mixer and a cordless hand blender. Sigh.

Read some mixed reviews online - 1/2 the people seem to think it's great, the other half hate it.... oh well, we'll see! There's a 90 day return policy, so...

Posted by JAY at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2005

Boating

We went out again this year on the Bondy boat. Trev and Rucell couldn't make it this year, but Erich and Catherine brought they're adorable 1 year old Gaby, who seemed to enjoy the rocking motion.

Mrs. Bondy made a delicious chicken meal with the on-board BBQ. We docked at Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay. Dave and I went out in their new dinghy (fast!) and I explored the campground a bit (snakes and poison ivy).

I brought some brownies, which everyone seemed to enjoy, but I had screwed up the recipe by measuring the flour incorrectly (scoop and level instead of spoon and level). I'll have to try it again, they were a little cakey and crumbly.

Posted by JAY at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2005

Driving

Spent today driving my sister pointlessly around Alliston. Passed by the Cookstown Outlet Mall and picked up some stuff - oven racks, garlic presses... that sorta thing.

Posted by JAY at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2005

Back Ribs and Brownies

Price Chopper has pork back ribs on sale. Unlike side ribs, these don't have to be slow cooked because they're already tender.

A quick rub of black pepper, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin followed by broiling under a hot flame was all that it needed. Homemade BBQ sauce and a bit more broiling resulted in tender ribs in about 15 minutes (start with the underside up and flip 1/2 way through). The parents were raving.

Also, I remade the brownies that I screwed up on Saturday. This time I weighed the flour and got moist, dense, chewy brownies. (Also, put some coconut in.) Recipe and pictures to follow.

Posted by JAY at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2005

Recipe: Classic Brownies

It's essential to measure the flour in the more modern way. Without sifting, stir the flour in the container, then spoon it into the measuring cup before levelling. This will give you about 4 oz per cup of flour. Doing it the old way (scoop and level) will give you up to 6 ounces, making the brownies crumbly and cakey. This recipe was loosely adapted from America's Test Kitchen, who ticked me off by not including the amount of flour in the recipe.

Classic Brownies

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F

Prepare a 9x13 inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper (covering the bottom and about 1.5 inches up the sides). You can simply take a single large piece and fold the corners so it stays in place. I rubbed it with a bit of vegetable shortening, but I think you could probably skip this.

In a small bowl, whisk together:
1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 oz)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder

In a large bowl melt
3/4 c butter, cut into chunks
6 oz unsweetened chocolate (full squares), chopped
Microwave at 50% power for 1 min, then in 20 second increments at 50% until melted. Stir between every session.

Whisk in, one at a time:
2 1/4 c sugar
4 eggs
1 tbs vanilla

Fold the flour mixture in thirds into the chocolate mixture until uniform.
Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out.
Sprinkle with
1/2 c chopped walnuts (they need not be toasted, they'll toast on top)

Bake in the preheated 325F oven for about 35 minutes. Test with a toothpick. You want there to be some moist crumbs on the toothpick. If you get batter, it's undercooked. If it's clean, you've overbaked it.

Let the brownies cool for about 2 hours before lifting the parchment paper out and cutting into squares.

Variations:
Add chocolate chips to the batter
Sprinkle with sweetened shredded coconut
Add a bit of cinnamon to the batter to give an exotic eastern chocolate flavor

Posted by JAY at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2005

Rib Dinner

Back ribs can be made really quickly, because they don't need the slow cooking that side ribs do to be tender. This dinner was made in abou 45 minutes. Corn was microwaved, BBQ sauce was made from scratch, as was the salad dressing, basmati rice was on sale at Superstore, and the ribs were on sale at Price Chopper.

Posted by JAY at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2005

Frying Tips

Some neat tips for deep frying seafood:

Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to the 2 cups of flour/starch mixture. This will give an awesome golden brown.

Wait for the hissing bubbling sound to die down and then the frying is done. This is the point when the water has fried and evaporated away.

Posted by JAY at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

Pork and Pah

Cooked 2 pork tenderloins for dinner. They were really good but illustrated the need to never overcook lean cuts of tender meat. I gave them a herb rub and browned the outside in a skillet before baking them in a 350F oven.

When the internal temperature reached 140F, I took them out and let them rest (they raise about 5 degrees). One was slightly higher than that - it reached 150F. It was noticably less tender and juicy than the one that only reached 145F.

I also made a crabapple pie. The crust turned out great and the filling (for once) was the perfect texture - moist but not runny. I think the secret is that if you add more sugar, you have to adjust the amount of flour added to the apples.

Posted by JAY at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2005

Teflon in Sticky Situation

I kind of want a non-stick frying pan. But in all the news lately, they're going on and on about how perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used in manufacturing Teflon, is a likely carcinogen. I'm having trouble finding any reliable resources to confirm the safety/danger of using non-stick cookware.

I can't seem to find any really unbiased studies either way. Dupont, the manufacturer, claims that there is no PFOA left in the product after it's finished. They further claim that PFOA doesn't cause cancer. Surrre.

Mind you, the opposing information comes from individuals and groups like treehuggers.com. Okaaay, yeah. The hyper-environmentalists always have their conpiracies and agendas as well.

It seems pretty clear from the consensus that PFOA is a likely carcinogen. But there is NO clear consensus on whether items manufactured with PFOA contain or can release PFOA at a later date.

The American EPA is still studying the matter, with its results due sometime next month. So I guess I'll wait for those.

Posted by JAY at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2005

Upgrades

Mary Anne at work is buying a house in the same subdivision as I. Her house is a bit further along than mine, so she got called in to do her upgrade selection. The stuff she chose includes most of the stuff I want and she was kind enough to sendme the prices.

Oak stairs $1700
Corner cupboards in the kitchen $350
Roughed in central vac $500
Drawers in the master bathroom $342
Extra drawers in the kitchen $172?

Plus
Extra cable TV drops
Decora fixtures

I don't know if I can afford the staircase or would prefer to do something else with the money. On the one hand, it can't really be retrofitted. On the other hand, it won't add $2000 to the resale value of the house, either. I guess I'll have to see if there's other stuff that I want.

Posted by JAY at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Happy Returns

Remember the Magic Bullet that I bought? I took it back to the store after making a smoothy.

It worked passably well, but no better than an ordinary blender. You had to shake the thing to get all the ice crushed at the bottom. I don't often blend drinks like that anyway and I already have a hand blender (from Sean) to do the other stuff. So yeah, I just wanted my money back! Hopefully the credit goes back onto the same month's bill.

Posted by JAY at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2005

Office Flood

There was a major storm today. Water started pouring in through the ceiling and t was bad enough that we had to stay late in the office turning off circuit breakers and computers. We also had to drape plastic in the LAN room. Bunches of the ceiling tiles collapsed due to the weight of the water over them. It was kinda fun actually.

Posted by JAY at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005

New Mattress

The other day I went with Sean and bought a memory foam mattress topper from Sam's Club. I bought the king sized one because I have a twin sized bed - so I'll fold it in half and have a double pad. They didn't have any of the twin sized ones in stock. They come compressed into a tight wad about 1/6th the size that it will be expanded. I had to leave it for 3 days to fully expand back into shape, so tonight's the first night that I'll be sleeping on it. Hopefully it's comfortable!

Posted by JAY at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2005

I'm In the Money!

Ok, it's not a lot of money, but hey...

Got back my last month's rent from the landlord. I had left early because of extensive flooding. I wasn't really sure I'd ever get the last month's rent back, it's been a while. Apparently he was on vacation. The apartment? Still not fixed up yet. I don't envy him all the arguing with the insurance companies.

Posted by JAY at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)