Sunday, February 25, 2007

Succulent Spam

Yes, fair readers. Fried. Spam. Musubi. Welcome to Maui.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Yum Drum

Details to come... Or entry to be erased :)

Oh yeah, that was good *urp*

I had googled for "bbq turkey leg recipe" and one of the top hits was Festival Turkey Legs, and began This is supposed to be the authentic recipe used by turkey leg vendors at fairs and festivals...

Works for me. I love turkey legs at places like the Renaissance Faire. Go on then, click through to the link, and tell me how many times you re-read the second ingredient, "1 (2 liter) bottle lemon-lime flavored carbonated soda". Ok then!

But you know what, it works. It's a great recipe. If anything it was a bit salty, but that could be my fault. It's definitely worth a try if you like this sort of thing!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cappuccino'd Capillaries

Mmmm, coffee gooooooood

Recently I've been on a quest to make the perfect cappuccino. Or at least a damn good one. And I've mostly succeeded; I now far prefer to make my own cap than spend $3.50 at Starbucks. (OK there's a lot of things I'd rather do than spend $3.50 at Starbucks).

I cleaned up the old Krups that I think my folks gave me back when I was in college. I've had it a while. I ran it through a decalcification cycle (white vinegar) and took it apart where I could to clean out old (very old!) stuck coffee grounds. Then, I started to experiment. It makes a great espresso, with really nice crema, when the coffee is tamped properly. That took a while to figure out; I finally bought a tamper and realized I hadn't been pressing my grounds nearly hard enough before (they say 20~30 lbs of pressure, but really, how the HELL do you know what that is?!). I also bought a thermometer for the milk, and immediately realized I hadn't been getting my milk hot enough either. Somewhere along the line I'd come to believe that the right temperature for the milk is the temp at which the metal milk steamer pitcher is too hot to hold. Bollocks. It's too hot to hold for my fragile little fingers at about 110º, maybe 120º if I'm not awake yet (but will be then!!). Proper temperature is 150º~160º. Get a thermometer.

My steamer makes a very nice froth without too much effort; in fact it can make too much froth and overflow the pitcher before it's at temp. I've found that 1% milk makes entirely too much froth, so 2% seems to work better. Also I get more of the thick 'creamy' milky stuff to cap the coffee with (before I dump a load of foam on top) with the 2% than the 1%. However I've noticed that I really don't have that much of it, and if I really wanted to venture down the latte-art path, I wouldn't have what I needed.

So the other day at Trader Joe's I noticed a milk I hadn't seen before; the "cream top" milk. It instructs you to shake before using, as the cream naturally rises to the top, and the fine print notes that it's actually a non-homogenized milk. I thought this would be interesting to try.

This morning I used it for the first time. Wow! What a difference. I got a GREAT milky cream out of it and poured the prettiest cappuccino I've ever made out of it. Then the foam on top was thicker and more solid than any I've made before and made for quite the gorgeous drink. I should have gotten a picture, so will try to do that tomorrow. But yummy.

By the way the frothing guide I read a long time ago (and probably should read again) is at

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cat's Cookies

Ok this is just funny. We've had a mouse in our midst for some time now. We've always known someone lived in the walls, and we occasionally found "evidence" of said someone, but never ever saw the little bugger. Until we put our house on the market, that is... then His Fuzziness decided that it was prime time to make an appearance! We've had little sonic emitters to keep him away, but all they really did was chase him to another part of the house.

Today, I caught him.

We have a little brick 'wine cellar' made of loose bricks, and he ran into that. So I started disassembling the cellar and using the bricks to build a wall around him. When I picked up the last brick, of course he was under there and had nowhere to go. From there it was a simple case of dropping a plastic cup over him to scoop him up.

I had to find something to keep him in, and found a half-empty clear plastic cookie container. Perfect. Out went the cookies, in went a few holes on the lid, and one scared mouse.

Only after the dust settled did I notice the name of the cookies on the cookie box.

"Cat's Cookies"

Now that's funny.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Walls are for Climbing, Lofts are for Drinking

For the last few years, I've been taking my little girl to a climbing wall in San Jose called Touchstone. It's been great fun; at home, she climbs the walls… couch… me… so she's a natural here. She gains great confidence and incredible pride when she gets to the top. And, it's a nice daddy-daughter bonding experience. When I first started taking her though, my idea was that it was something we could do together. In college I used to climb a lot, (at least until someone dropped me on an inverted ascent and I couldn't walk for 3 months or climb for a year), and I thought this would be a chance to get back into it. Unfortunately that never worked out, since when we go together, it's about HER climbing and not me. There really is no opportunity for me to climb when we're together. But that's fine.

So I decided to go last night on my own for the first time. First time bouldering or climbing in well over 10 years. Wow. But what fun. Of course, I have zero strength left. Where I used to be able to fist lock into a crag and literally hang there indefinitely, last night I realized that muscle failure can and will occur after some pretty simply finger grips. But so what, it was fun. And I'll go back.

So, props to Touchstone. Great place. Great people. Great fun.

Then for dinner I decided to try a place in San Jose I've been wanting to try for a while, called LOFT. The sign on the door is something like LOFTBARANDBISTRO in some clever typographic way. It's a cute, trendy looking place from the outside, and it advertises a martini bar. Cue class for San Jose.

Unfortunately the bartender (on the ground floor bar at least) wasn't that interested in making a good martini. Maybe that's not fair, but you decide. It's not like the place was busy… the three piece jazz band that would start playing in 15 minutes was enjoying a beer at the bar. The only other guy in the place was someone who looked like they just walked off a construction site and was enjoying a cold Corona. I asked if he could make a Vesper martini. He said "hmm, haven't made one of those in years…". I asked if he had Lilet Blanc, he said no. OK then, no Vesper for me.

A Vesper martini, by the way, is my new favorite drink. It's the James Bond original martini, from the book (and movie) Casino Royale. It's fantastic, and goes like this:

• 3 ounces gin
• 1 ounce vodka
• ½ ounce Lillet Blanc
• Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon peel.

Anyway, so no Vesper. I ask to see a martini menu. He hands one over but shrugs and says "all the best recipes are up here", tapping on his oddly partially shaved head. So I say, "then what would you recomm…". Before I can finish the thought he starts reading from the ceiling a list of all the sweet martini type drinks, and I can't get a word into his ramble… Lemon Drop, Cosmo but I would like something Chocolate, but you know the Vesper isn't sweet so Keylime, Peach, seriously, hello? I don't want a Appletini, Rasberry *sigh*.

So I finally order a dirty martini, made with Level vodka. He proceeds to put so much olive juice in it I could hear the olives screaming for some back. The martini is as sweet as a Lemon Drop. Then the bartender proceeded to get back to his conversation on his Sidekick. Oh, and $10 seems a bit much for a Martini in San Jose. This isn't Manhattan for f'sake.

So much for a Martini Bar. I so wanted to find a good one, too.

I ate there as well. I asked if the salmon was fresh or frozen. They said fresh. Quite sure it was frozen. I asked for grilled veggies instead of steamed. They came steamed. I asked again, the waitress came back and explained that the veggies were partially blanched ahead of time and so all they could do is maybe try to sauté them a bit. Mmmm, partially pre-blanched carrots and beans. I don't think Anthony Bourdain would be impressed. To be fair by the time I got my pre-blanched, lightly sautéed veggies they were decent. At least they were crisp, if not bland. But honestly, not the experience I was expecting from a supposedly trendy hot spot in San Jose.

Come on San Jose… you can do better than that!


It's not a great picture; the weather wasn't ideal. But here we go... the new Audi