Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kuma's Corner

I'm SO behind in posting... I'm sorry for that. Well enough groveling, let's get to the meat.

After the motherboard upgrade, we went to Kuma's corner. My best bud Kevin works there as a chef and has been trying to get me to go for ages. It's a bar and "gourmet" burger restaurant that plays various types of heavy metal / speed metal / etc. and names their burgers after bands in the genre.

I ordered the Lair of the Minotaur per the server's suggestion. It was a serious beef patty with brie cheese, sauteed onions, bourbon soaked pears, and some sauce... bbq i think. Anyways, it was great. We also ordered some calamari to start, it was also fantastic with fried japaneos and rosemary. Feast your eyes on this:


- Andy

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Motherboard Upgrade

Like many savvy geeks out there, I've assembled my own PC from a pile of parts procured from computer stores both online and in "real life" and as a result, my PC is not a finished product but a process of continuous upgrades. I presently run a Core 2 Quad at 2.6ghz with 8GB of RAM, a GeForce 8800GTS video card, 24" widescreen LCD and a secondary 19" LCD, and 4x250GB SATA disks. One of these days I might get a blu-ray reader/writer.

Over the past year I upgraded my motherboard from a Pentium D to a Core 2 Quad, also swapped my RAM and got a new video card. A friend of mine was still running on a Pentium 4 class AMD, so I offered to help him put my leftover gear into his PC. We needed to run to MicroCenter at one point to pick up a CPU cooler because I couldn't find my old one.

After all was finished, he had a Pentium D running at 3ghz, 4GB of RAM, and an ATI Radeon All-in-Wonder X800-XL video card. Pretty sweet!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Talk like a Pirate Day

Today is Talk like a Pirate Day.

Arrrrgh... shiver me timbers...

A young sailor was sitting in a bar having a few drinks when he looks over and sees a pirate. The pirate has a wooden peg-leg, a hook for a hand, and patch over his eye. Unable to resist, the sailor asks “How’d you end up with a peg-leg?”

“I was swept overboard during a fierce storm,” says the pirate. “and a bloody shark bit off me whole darn leg!”

“Holy cow!” said the sailor. “What about the hook, how’d you get that?”

“Me crew and I were boarding an enemy ship, a fierce sword battle ensued. One of them cut me darn arm!”

“Absolutely incredible!” gasped the sailor. “And the eye patch, tell me how you got that?”

“A bloody seagull dropping fell into me eye,” replied the pirate.

“Umm, you lost your eye to a seagull dropping?” asked the sailor, admonished.

Embarassed, the pirate answered “It was me first day with the hook.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Best Things in Life are Inherited

A Simple Salad, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

My grandfather used to make this sald pretty regularly. It's simple: black olives, pickled banana peppers, and anchovies. Drizzle a little of the anchovy oil on the salad and you've got a great snack. You can have some bread with it, but it's good all by itself.


- Andy

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dealing with Loneliness on the Road


TravelBlogs ran this article about dealing with loneliness on the road:

Dealing With Loneliness on the Road - Part 1

I thought I'd give my 2 cents, since I've traveled solo quite a bit.

When I first had to travel for work, it was to England for a weekend. I was traveling with a coworker that I knew fairly well, so it wasn't very lonely. My second major trip was to Sydney -- alone. I must admit, I had a considerable amount of trepidation about flying for 20 hours and arriving in a city where I knew absolutely nobody! The panic was such that I actually considered telling my company to send someone else or hire local contractors to do the work they needed me to do. The main fear was not about the flight or the distance from home, it was about doing it all alone.

Now I've been back to England by myself several times and took a few solo trips to continental Europe. I've been back to Sydney alone and spent a "lonely" weekend in San Francisco recently. I find the solitude very peaceful. Also being alone provides an unadulterated perspective on everything. At first, I would find myself reaching for a partner to tell them about the cool things I'd see... like an itch on a phantom limb. Over time, I learned to write down notes and started to carry a camera. Now I love traveling alone! There is no substitute for companionship in life, but a notebook, some reading material, and a camera go a long ways toward rectifying a partner-less journey.

- Andy

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Duck and Andoulle Sausage Gumbo

An Emeril Lagasse Recipe

This duck and sausage gumbo recipe is from Emeril Lagasse and I got it from the Food network when I searched for "duck and andouille sausage gumbo" on their recipe finder (I have very specific tastes!) You could certainly substitute a 4-5 lbs chicken for the duck. I've actually done that before. Be sure to skim the fat off while it boils or you'll end up with something really, really chickeny and greasy!

The roux is the hardest part of this recipe... just keep the heat medium-high and DON'T STOP STIRRING. Emeril says it should turn the color we want in the time it takes to drink two beers. I don't drink that fast, it takes me ~30 minutes. If you're doing it right, your arm will be tired and it will smell like toast.

Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2006
Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Yield: 12 servings
User Rating: 5 Stars

1 (4 to 5-pound) duck
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups small dice onion
3/4 cup small dice celery
3/4 cup small dice green, red and/or yellow bell peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 (12-ounce) bottle stout beer (recommended: Abita Turbo Dog)
6 cups dark chicken stock, or chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
5 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds andouille sausage (or other smoked sausage), cut into 1/2-inch rounds
Steamed white rice, for serving
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves

Rinse the duck under cold running water both inside and out. Remove any excess fat at the cavity opening and at the neck. Use a sharp boning or butcher's knife to cut the back on either side of the spine. Remove the spine and reserve for stock. Cut through the breastbone of the duck to give you 2 halves. Cut the legs from each half as well as the first 2 digits of the wings. Set the legs aside, and cut the breasts in half horizontally.

Season the duck with 2 teaspoons of Essence. Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hot. I actually start by browning the sausage and removing it before putting in the duck. This way the pan will be all oiled up with sausage fat. Place the seasoned duck, skin side down in the pan and sear until golden brown, about 7 to 8 minutes. Turn the duck over and sear on the second side as well for an additional 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the duck from the pan and place on a platter while you make the roux.

Add the vegetable oil to the pan as well as the flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir the roux continuously over medium heat until the color of dark chocolate, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the onions, celery and peppers and garlic to the roux and stir, gently until the vegetables are slightly wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour the beer over the vegetables and stir to incorporate. Add the stock/water to the pan with the thyme, bay leaves, Essence, cayenne pepper and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the sausage. Stir the pot well to ensure that the roux and the stock are well blended. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the gumbo to a boil; then lower to a simmer. Return the seared duck pieces to the pan and cook (skimming any foam and fat that may rise to the surface), for 1 hour and 30 minutes. After an hour and a half, remove the duck pieces from the gumbo and place on a platter to cool. Once the duck is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and meat from the bones and add the meat to the gumbo. Discard the skin and bones and re-season the gumbo, if necessary.

To serve the gumbo, ladle 1 cup into a heated soup bowl with 1/4 cup white rice. Garnish with the green onions and chopped parsley.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William Morrow, 1993.

- Andy