December 01, 2005

More Delays...

Welp, got notice from HR today - my new closing date is April 12 2006.

So let's take a look...
Original closing dates to current:
June 2005
October 2005
December 2005
February 2006
April 2006

It was a one year closing date, so this is almost 2 years! I'm not really upset, though, it's all more time to save up for the house. In fact, I'd already budgeted funds until April - so I was kind of expecting it.

Posted by JAY at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)

Roti Recipe

Roti is a pan fried Indian flatbread that is usually eaten with curry in the caribbean. My past roti making attempts haven't always gone all that well. Today, however, it actually turned out pretty well, so I thought I would put notes on making it in the future.

My main problem in the past was an overly stiff dough. More water and a slightly sticky dough worked much better. Next time, I think I'm going to try adding a bit of shortening.
[modified recipe Jan 1 2006]

Roti

2 cups flour (I used an unbleached, whole wheat roti flour)
1 tablespoon shortening
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
water
oil

Whisk/sift together the dry ingredients - using only 1/2 the flour.

Rub the shortening into the flour between your fingertips.

Stir and add water until you have a very sticky liquid-y dough (about 3/4 of a cup, usually).

Gradually add and stir remaining flour in until the dough is gathering in a ball and cleaning the bowl on the spoon.

Knead in more flour until the dough is soft but not very sticky. You should have used most of the flour called for, but a little less or more won't matter (depending on how much water you added and ambient conditions).

Divide the dough into 4 balls and let rest covered with a damp cloth for about 10 minutes.

Roll each ball out to about 8-9" in diameter, brush generously with oil. Cut a slit from the center of the circle to the edge and then roll it up into a tight cone and back into a ball.

Let sit covered with a damp cloth at least 15 minutes. The more time you leave it, the easier rolling it out will be, just make sure that you keep the cloth damp.

Roll out and fry in a medium hot cast iron skillet. Brush the skillet very generously with oil for each roti and brush the top side of the roti before flipping it.

Posted by JAY at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2005

Foundation Walls

Despite being delayed until April, they seem to be moving along at a fair clip. I missed a week and thus don't have pictures of the walls in their forms. It looks much bigger than when it was just the footers on the ground.

Posted by JAY at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2005

Bell Customer Service

Yargh. Got my Bell bill, and the issue I dealt with last month hadn't been fixed. I talked to a customer service rep who told me he was going to remove the extra charges and take me off the plan that they put me on without telling me. He put me on hold for a good 10 minutes while he supposedly "re-billed" the calls. The bill I just got shows that I'm still on the plan and no adjustment to the bill.

Argh. Called Bell and the CSR, Dave, said there wasn't any record of the transaction. He credited me the money and gave me a reference number. He said it would take effect immediately. I'll call tomorrow to make sure it went through.

Posted by JAY at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

FIrefox 101: Block Flash Elegantly

I'm not terribly against Flash ads and banner ads. However, Flash ads on one of my frequently visited pages (tv listings, and they're not getting a link because they're being inept) was freezing Firefox. I don't know who's fault it is, the Macromedia plugin, Firefox or the content creators... but yeesh.

Enter Flashblock. Knowing that sometimes you DO want to view the Flash content, it simply replaces flash content with a button that you can push if you want to view the animation. It works beautifully.

Posted by JAY at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2005

Upgrading Moveable Type

Ok, the spammers have been relentless lately.

So I belately upgraded to MT 3.2 to get rid of them, following Sean's lead. Everything seems to be running smoothly.

Posted by JAY at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

Categorically Speaking

Worked a bit on the templates that create this website.

Noteably, I added a Category menu to the sidebar menu which can be used to view restaurant reviews, or get some context in my long search for housing. Some work is needed, perhaps, on the archive template, a table of contents at the beginning would be nice!

Also, the New Year's Resolutions have been taken down. They were sad and pathetic (and not met due to life interference...)

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

December 09, 2005

Recipe: Chicken Fingers and Oven Fries

It was truly Fry-day today (yeah, dumb pun, suck it up). Actually, I've been cooking deep fried stuff since Wednesday, which is why the pictured chicken fingers are so dark even though they're not overcooked. This is the last time I'm using this oil! Something about fried food... I deboned my chicken breasts myself, since they were on sale with the bone still in them.

Read on for the recipes... they're both fairly easy.

Oven Fries
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2-3 potatoes per person, scrubbed and cut into wedges.
Toss with a generous amount of heat proof dried spices (thyme, rosemary, oregano, chili/cayenne)
Toss with enough olive oil to coat.
Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, curved side down.
Sprinkle with generous salt and black pepper.
Stick in the oven (don't worry if it's still heating up)
Roast for about 40 minutes, until golden and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Serve.
You can turn the heat down to 270 degrees F until ready to serve up to an hour or so, just to keep warm.

Chicken Fingers
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 egg, beaten with a couple tablespoons of cream/milk
1/2 C flour for dredging the chicken in
1/2 to 1 C breadcrumbs (with more reserved in case you run out!)
Dried herbs: thyme, cayenne, black pepper, italian seasoning, rosemary, whatever
Salt
Oil (about 2 C, depending on pan)

Season the chicken with all the herbs that you're using (about 1 TBS total, easy on the cayenne pepper unless you want it spicy), then healthy pinches of salt and lots of black pepper.

Season the breadcrumbs with more of the herbs, about 3 tablespoons of them, plus about 2 teaspoons of salt and a lot of black pepper.

Dredge the chicken in flour, then dip in egg mixture, then roll in crumbs. Put it on a rack until cooking.

Heat about 1 inch of veg/peanut/canola oil in a very deep pot/pan (it'll bubble!) to about 350 degrees F. I use my neat thermometer, if you don't have one, then a cube of bread dropped in should brown in about 10 seconds or so.

Fry the chicken fingers without crowding them too much in the pan, flipping them as needed, until nicely browned.
Watch them carefully, they don't take long at all!

Drain on paper towels.

Posted by JAY at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2005

House From Above

Woot! My minor modification to the cms.pm file worked and now I don't have to add my usual class/border code to the images that I upload, it does it for me... Anyway, other than some earth moving and some cladding, there was nothing different about the house this week. This is a nice picture of it, though! It was taken from the upper story window of the townhouse facing it!

There are some other houses like this one further up the street. They're a bit further along, so I went and took some pictures of the framing and walls in case I miss them for my house. It was wicked cold and windy today.

Posted by JAY at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2005

Fast Recipe: Steak and Italian Rice


This was soooo good and only took about 15 min total. I'm home alone today and feeling a bit under the weather, so I'm just sleeping and eating today (yay!) I medicate with food. This is actually just half the steak, but I ate the whole thing, it just wouldn't fit on the plate. It's cut up because I was reading while eating and didn't want to have to cut my meat. The rice isn't really italian. Recipes follow.

Grilled Steak

Rib eye steak, slightly less than 1 inch thick
salt and pepper

In a heavy (preferably cast iron) pan, spread and heat about 1 tsp of oil at very high heat.
Salt and pepper your steak generously. Pat surface dry with paper towel to help browning if wet.
When the oil is SMOKING, put the steak into the pan. Don't move it around or scrape under it.
When you start to see blood drops beading on the surface of the steak, flip it with a spatula.
Lower heat to medium and cook to just UNDER desired doneness.
Let rest in a plate for 3 min. while preparing the rice.

Italian Rice
Leftover cooked rice, whatever you have
Mozzarella cheese, chopped
Onions, chopped/sliced
Garlic, minced
Grape tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
Chili flakes
Salt and Pepper

Short version: Microwave the rice and cheese till melty, fry the rest of the ingredients in a hot pan, add garlic, and toss together.

Detailed version:
Heat the rice in the microwave (covered) while the steak cooks.
Toss the cheese on top of it (as much as you want) and microwave for 30 secs more.
Fry the onions in a generous amount of olive oil in the steak pan (either to the side of the steak or after)
Add the chili flakes (as much/little as you want) and the tomatoes at high heat.
Add the grape tomatoes
Lower heat slightly, add the garlic, cook until you can smell the garlic aroma (30 secs)
Toss with the rice and cheese.

Posted by JAY at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2005

Restaurant: Big Papa's Trattoria

Went to Big Papa's Trattoria on Thursday for the office Christmas party. Most people left after that, but I had some work to do at the office (sigh) so I went back to finish it. Anyway. It's an Italian chain restaurant with an extensive menu. I selected the calamari appetizer ($5) and Linguine Fruitti di Mare ($9).

The calamari was excellent. It was tender, lightly breaded and fried. It was served with a tangy tzatziki to dip it in on a bed of romaine. It was great. The calamari was just barely cooked and very flavorful. The portion size was quite large - perfect for 2, though when my tablemates didn't eat very many, I ate them all.

The seafood pasta, by contrast, was lack-lustre. An immense portion of linguine was only sparsely dotted by seafood, and the advertised crab meat was imitation crab - when you can see the crab, but not taste it - it's imitation and was mushed up throughout the sauce, which was overly thick and gummy. It was also too heavily spiced, and tasted more of spices than tomato.

Atmosphere and service was perfectly accepable. But if I were to return, I'd skip the entree and just get the calamari.

Big Papa's
16655 Yonge St.
(south of Hwy#9 in Weston Produce Plaza)
905-830-9292

Posted by JAY at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

Floor Joists


Things proceed apace - maybe this closing date wll actually stick! I'm relieved that they're using solid wood floor joists. Some of the Hillmark homes (Ballantry?) in the same subdivision use a crappy composite joist made out of a narrow piece of chip board framed top and bottom with 2x2s. I guess it'd be easy to drill through for wiring, but I wonder how many holes you can put into it while maintaining structural integrity. The Rosewood homes us regular joists, too.

The next thing to find out is what kind of water piping I get. The Hilmark homes are getting copper while the Rosewood homes are getting the new plastic piping. I'd prefer copper, since it's tried and tested. Who knows what'll happen with the PVC waterlines? (Actually, I'm sure they'd be fine, since they've been used for drainage forever - but what about drinking safety?)

Posted by JAY at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2005

Canada is Pagan

Canada is legislatively becomingmore and more Wiccan as time goes by. The Supreme Court has redefined indecency, basing it on harm done instead of community standards. The ruling explicitly legalizes private sex clubs. Wow. Basically, harm none.

While part of me is really squeamish, I'm more impressed than dismayed.

“Grounding criminal indecency in harm represents an important advance in this difficult area of law.”
-Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin

PS. Happy winter solstice!

Posted by JAY at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Dinner

This year is the first year that the parents have been away for Christmas. They're in Florida visiting some family. Of course, that leaves me at home to answer all the family that I don't know who are calling to wish my parents a Merry Christmas... Lisa took advantage of their absence to invite over Michelle, a friend from work. Because we were kinda entertaining while cooking, I forgot to take pictures of the Christmas dinner:

Roast turkey with stuffing
Cranberry sauce
Gravy
Roasted cauliflower with cheese sauce
Green beans and red pepper
Roasted potatoes
Apple Pie
Pecan Pie

Posted by JAY at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2005

Reupholstery

While the parents are away, I thought that I'd reupholster the kitchen chairs that have spent the last 10 years in the basement. We've been using white plastic deck chairs since the real chairs got too ripped up to use. The parents had bought some new vinyl/leather to re-cover them, but never got around to it.

I'm not really doing a very professional job - just cutting out shapes and stapling it to the seat. No sewing involved. It looks ok, but not great... definitely better than what it was. Now I just need some screws to attach them back to the frames...

Posted by JAY at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2005

Midnight Steak

Mmm, steak makes a wonderful midnight (well, post-midnight) schnackie. I wasn't really hungry, but I felt like relaxing with food and going through some scanned comics. It was perfection. My steak lasted for the 5 volume set of comics that I was reading. Same with my big glass of water... Mmmm...

I've gotten in the bad habit lately of drizzling a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over my steak... It's evil, but it tastes sooo good!

Posted by JAY at 02:04 AM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2005

Cinnamon Buns Recipe


This pecan pie was kinda overbaked, so it wasn't nice and glossy.and runny. So I only ate that one piece and gave the rest to Lisa's friends who seemed to enjoy it. (Blech!) Even the pastry was kinda tough - I think I put too much water in it.

These, on the other hand, were delicious. I think I'll cut back juuuust a bit on the filling, they're just a bit too rich. But for a yeast bread, they were made pretty quickly. They probably have a TON of calories, though. Click on Read More for the recipe.

And this was my dinner today. The cheese sauce and gravy and rice were all leftovers. The huge chicken breast (topped with mozzarella) was $1.50 on sale ... yum! I just grilled it with salt and herbs. So yeah... waaay too much eating going on over here.

Cinnamon Buns

This recipe is sorta adapted from here I wanted to use quick-rise yeast so that I could get the whole thing done and baked in a couple hours.

Mix:
1 1/2 cups water at 130 degrees F
1/4 cups sugar
1 tbs melted butter
1 tsp salt

Stir in this mixture:
2 cups flour stirred with
1.5 tablespoons instant "quick" yeast

Add flour gradually and knead until you have a soft dough (10 min):
1 1/2 cups flour (approx)

Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes while you mix:
1 cup butter. soft
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon, or to taste

Roll the dough into a 16x10 rectangle, spread with the mixture and roll up along the long edge.
Cut the roll into 12 pieces and arrange in a 9x13 pan on top of parchment paper (butter the sides of the pan if it's not non-stick).
Cover with a damp cloth and let rise 1 hour in a warm damp place until almost doubled in size.

Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 325 degree oven.

Posted by JAY at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)