02. November 2010 · 1 comment · Categories: Cooking, Random · Tags: , ,

I made some turkey and quinoa meatloaf over the weekend, which was quite delicious! I can probably afford to not pre-cook the quinoa with it, as there was plenty of residual moisture at the end of baking it. I even took the trouble to germinate the quinoa before cooking it, so technically it should have been far more nutritious. *shrugs*

The Apple Disaster still tastes awesome!

When did honey get so blasted expensive? I just loaded up on a couple bottles of it for sweetening tea (while fighting off this headcold), and they set me back nearly $15! I don’t recall it ever costing quite this much, but I really have not purchased this much honey in quite a few years.

Oh yeah, and the honey kick? It appears that it has some antimicrobial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Additionally, studies have been done that demonstrate the ability of honey to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, although most of these are in a topical application of the honey. Regardless, implications for it preventing recurrence of rhinosinusitis is a huge perk if it will help diminish this infection in my sinuses.

On that note, now that I’m on a steady dose of pseudoephedrine1, I’m finally on a mild upswing after yesterday’s utter misery. Hopefully it will continue throughout the week, and I can be >95% by the weekend!

Now, back to watching Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb!

1Pseudoephedrine is the only nasal decongestant that really works worth a damn for me. I’ve tried some very hefty doses of phenylephrine with little luck in actually clearing any congestion. So I’ve committed to just using Mucinex D (or similar) decongestants; they’re loaded with 10mg/hour (in a 4 or 6 hour dose, 40/60mg respectively) pseudoephedrine and really hit the spot (although it leaves me a little brain-spaced for its duration).

My weekend didn’t exactly take a fabulous start. Considering I didn’t get home from the lab until 0:04 Saturday morning, my sleep schedule has been atrocious all weekend. I only garnered about five hours of sleep that night, so between errands early on Saturday combined with working on my presentation for the upcoming department research day, I had to crash for a couple hours for a nap. I wish I could have pushed that a little earlier on, because shortly thereafter I headed over to Clark Dever’s for a good ol’ gathering they were throwing. Unfortunately, I showed up relatively later on in the original schedule for the shindig, and most of the guests had left. I did get to meet a couple folks there, but poor Clark and Susan were just too beat at that point of the week (but I still appreciate the invite and food I got to try). Luckily, I at least did come out of it learning how to open up a crab and get at the goodies all bare-handed.

Saturday was a 50/50 bust for productivity. Got presentation work done, shitty timing on a social event, watched TV into the wee hours of the morning (running on the odd sleep schedule), so thank god Sunday was a little more coherent. I made round two of some delicious lentil and pasta soup (see below, left). The soup was fantastic much like the first time. I had intended to swap out half of the orzo for barley, but I realized too late that I was out of barley. I’ll have to save that for next time.

In addition to this, I also made some (long since craved) Vietnamese imperial rolls (see above, right). They were delicious, but they needed some more kick to the filler material. I think I might have overdone the amount of rice noodles that I was supposed to use, so that might explain the mild flavor. Next time, I’ll probably also try to use the rice wrappers instead of the easy-peasy egg roll wrappers.

I’ve got more to fill in on, but right now I need some more sleep. This week’s going to be a bit crazy, much like last week, but I’ll make it through. I always have so far, and will continue to do so (at least until my brain snaps, or I develop Alzheimer’s)!

After a couple weeks of eating like crap1, I feel an urge to purge the ick from my system. I spent nearly two weeks finishing off a batch of homemade mac’n’cheese (made something like 3-4 quarts worth in the end), beef and mushroom stroganoff, a tray of brownies2, and I still haven’t touched some leftovers from last weekend at Shannon Pub and cheese from the wine’n’cheese night with my friend who was in town. No wonder I feel like crap! All that food, loaded with fats and relatively devoid of any real vegetables.

I picked up two bags of frozen blueberries, one large bag of frozen strawberries, a quart of relatively non-additionally-sweetened yogurt, and have plenty of limeade in my freezer to make fruit smoothies every morning this week to go with the oatmeal I plan to eat virtually every morning. Additionally, I made some more of my apo-meat spaghetti last night3 to tide through the week as lunch leftovers, and some hard-boiled eggs or fruit-laden Aldi-brand yogurt if I’m craving some harder protein at some point. There are some bell peppers and onions in my fridge dying to be used in fried rice for dinner4, and some sweet corn in the freezer that’s been taunting me for a couple weeks now!

I guess it’s not a true purge by any means, but my body does a great job of craving some legitimate vegetables when I’m due. Ever since I got hooked back onto tomatoes in high school, I get cravings for them almost weekly if I don’t get any. I used to despise broccoli, and now it’s the first (hot) green veggie I crave when I want something greenish and not sweet5, followed quickly thereafter by spinach (cold). Onions have always been tasty (even raw), mushrooms I need to experiment more with fresh (used canned ones so often over the years), and I’m actually contemplating *gasp* cauliflower! I saw a delicious bisque recipe for it; sure, it’s not so healthy, but I damn near never eat cauliflower. Perhaps I’ll make a recovery from that much like I did with pork chops and steak from my younger years6. Holly did get a nice start on that food a few years ago by broiling the cauliflower; that was actually fairly tasty!

1Not total crap; just relatively unhealthy. Homemade cooking can taste fantastic, but boy sometimes can it be a little deleterious to my own personal health.
2The brownies were a stupid move. I had a craving for them one night, ate two of them post-baking and my craving was sated.
3I still had a couple quarts left from the last time I made a batch. I’m selling myself a lot easier on it without any meat in it; I don’t have to worry about having/picking up any ground meat for it, and it almost tastes better as long as I have plenty of chunky tomatoes in it!
4Note to self: need to cook up rice tonight so it’s ready to go tomorrow or later this week. I seem to be more of a man of the moment; if I can’t make it right now, I won’t make it. I need to work on my patience and planning with my cooking in those cases.
5Green and snow peas are my automatic go-to food for greenage cravings. They’re sweet to my palate, so I gorge on them on salads…mmmm!
6My mother bastardized some choice food items when I was younger. She would broil pork chops and steak to beyond well done; they were tough and dried out, and I couldn’t stand it. I never enjoyed eating steak until I got to college and finally indulged in eating some medium-well steaks. Ever since, it’s always medium or medium-rare. Similarly, she would boil (and often overcook) broccoli and cauliflower. Broccoli I got over quicker because I liked the taste of it cold, but cauliflower got to the point it made me want to gag. It’s a miracle I’ve gotten to the point that I will even purchase it of my own volition!

It has been a slow couple of weeks. Since my parents sprung for a new computer case as a sort of birthday gift, I have been working on getting a network-attached storage (NAS) box up and running using the extra hard drives that don’t presently have a home. It is a beast of a case, but it provides plenty of room for expansion1, and it appeared to be among the quietest options available. I was heavily considering Silverstone’s LC20 HTPC case, but its lack of significant cooling means it would run loud as hell2. Regardless, I have the old parts reassembled in the new case and up and running. I’m just trying to troubleshoot some issues running FreeNAS, but it seems to be significantly easier to manage than EON or MilaX. It has done a fine job of setting up the arrays and shares (and even runs a BitTorrent server via Transmission!), but the network interface keeps tanking out for no good (identifiable) reason. I have to manually bring it up and down with ifconfig re0 down and ifconfig re0 up directly from the machine, and then it works fine again. WebGUI isn’t affected or anything. Quite bizarre!

I’ve gotten back into watching Furi Kuri (FLCL) again. I forget how funny the series is once you get past all the ridiculously convoluted plot setups. All the innuendos and references to other shows/series is just hilarious!

The food plans from the last blog post turned out fine. I would have had some pictures of the cheesecake, but it disappeared before I could snag some! I will likely make more, so I’ll sneak some pictures up once some is made again. It had just the right amount of peanut butter flavor, so I shan’t be tweaking that portion of the recipe at least! The homemade macaroni and cheese turned out nicely, but it was a little lacking with the cheese portion. I could really use a bit more broccoli in it next time, and bacon would make a fine substitute for the pancetta, especially some smoked bacon!

This week has a little more ambitious plans for cooking. I’m making my homemade spaghetti with toasted ciabatta tomorrow night. Wednesday night I’m making some crock-pot beef stroganof with egg noodles. Lastly, some other time this week I’m making tater tot casserole and homemade mac’n’cheese (yes, again, I need to get the cheese right!) when I find some free time. I have to do the casserole sooner than later so the beef doesn’t go bad, but I think I’ll leave the mac’n’cheese for the weekend.

Social plans? I think I’m doing my weekly trip to The Place, although that remains to be seen. I have no plans set up for St. Patrick’s Day, but that certainly does not mean I can’t be convinced to go out and do something last second. So we’ll see!

1I needed at least six 3.5″ HDD bays for the existing drives I wanted to put in. Ideally, I was looking for storage on the order of ten to include all of my spare drives.
2The Silverstone unit only has 2x 80mm fans pre-installed, while the Antec has 5x 120mm fans and a large 200mm fan on the top. Larger fan = lower RPMs to achieve same air flow. Lower RPMs = less noise!

Firstly, errrr, ummm, wow, my “Archives” link to the right is horribly broken. I need to do something about that. But anyhoo…

This past week has been a more interesting one for a variety of reasons. Last Saturday’s opening concert of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra was fantastic. The pieces weren’t quite as aurally powerful as last year’s opening pieces, but what they lacked in symphonic power they made up with in fantasy! Gil Shaham put on an amazing performance with Pablo de Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, opus 25. It was such a beautiful and lively piece, and watching Shaham literally playing with his solo on the violin was just mind-blowing. I completely forgot how fun it is to watch these superb musicians have fun with their music. He looked like a little kid as he was playing: the excitement in his face, his bodily motions and just the way the music came out. Simply superb!

Sitting in row L was a perfect view of the stage, and I kid you not it feels like the perfect seat. I look straight ahead at the conductor’s podium, about as close to dead center as I can be. Thankfully, this is the seat I have for the other nine concerts in the season. As a perk for opening night, I was sitting next to a spouse to one of the second violinists. She’s originally from Idaho, so we shared a little reminiscence of the Midwest and talked about how life has been in Buffalo since we both came here. Her husband has played with the BPO for the past 30 or so years, so as she stated she’s been “spoiled” by attending nearly every concert for free. Can you see how green my face is right now??

I finally went down to the Elmwood Farmer’s Market last Saturday as well. I was pleasantly pleased with the selection of items down there, albeit I was disappointed to not see Niagara Landing (at least I don’t recall seeing them) in order to acquire some of their blueberry wine that I got to try at the Taste of Buffalo over the summer. I did get to pick up some leeks, homemade pasta, fresh apples and a loaf of Polish placek. I know I’ve had the placek somewhere before, but I really couldn’t remember where.

All in all, Saturday was a wonderful day!

Since then, I’ve been trying to hurriedly keep making dinners each night from scratch. I sort of gave up on that tonight from the stress load. The rest of the nights it turned out well, however. Spaghetti with chicken meatballs turned out better than I thought it would (for completely lacking bread crumbs, I had to sub crushed crackers instead). I’m getting much better at making veggie fried rice. Expeller-pressed peanut oil seems to make a world of difference (plus I love the smell), cutting my onions much coarser adds a world more flavor, and the bags of mixed frozen vegetables is an easy fix to getting that “mixed veggie” style to the fried rice without cutting up a bunch of random vegetables. I’ve even got hulled sesame seeds in bulk to sprinkle in, on, or over when I’m done! Tonight was supposed to be turkey and leeks in cream sauce, but that will just have to wait for Friday night now, as I do not think I’ll have the time for that tomorrow evening before the Ben Folds with the BPO concert.

I started my lease for my new apartment back on July 15th, so I could at least start moving some stuff into my place prior to my trip to the Midwest to visit friends and family. Unfortunately, I think I only got four or five car loads of packed materials over there prior to making the long drive back to North Dakota. It was probably not the ideal way to do things, but compared to how much more stuff I moved after coming back from the Midwest, I’m a bit glad that I did start my lease two weeks earlier (although it bit me for an additional half-month’s rent). I only just turned in our keys to the old place Wednesday of this week, which was cutting things far closer than I would have anticipated. Granted, our lease was up to expire on the 15th, but being that we both Holly and I had at least two weeks overlap between our old and new leases, there wasn’t any good reason to be out of the apartment early’ish. Oh well.

Elmwood living has been a nice and fairly interesting change in my lifestyle since I have moved down there. The apartment is situated on a rather busy corner of Lexington and Ashland, just a block or so off of Elmwood Avenue itself. I’m not even a 50′ walk across the intersection to a nice lil’ pub/bar called The Place, which inadvertently disappointed upon my first visit there, Wednesday of last week. They had just had their draft feed lines cleaned that day and the keg pressures were all out of whack; you couldn’t get a decent glass of beer out of any of them! Just a tall glass of head…unless that’s the part of a draft you appreciate. Then that would have been your night to make a killing there. Instead, I then ended up having a couple bottles instead and a club for some dinner. I probably could have done without the beers with the size of that sandwich! I ate about half of it before I was too full to finish. I definitely need to stop in there again (and more often), but as of yet haven’t quite gotten back over there.

My dear friend Rob casually tossed out the thought of hitting another bar that night (as The Place closes at 10pm during the summer season when many of the locals like to visit outside of town for beaches and such, so it was explained), so we walked a mere two blocks from my place where we ran into the Thirsty Buffalo. To be honest, I don’t remember a terrible lot of the our excursion there. We promptly took ourselves a couple of seats at the bar, both ordered a tall glass of what I personally thought was some foul beer (Brooklyn Lager, but it tasted to me like it was soaked in birch chips or something), and after that continued the night with mixed beverages to err on the safe side (we couldn’t see drafts from our seats, and I wasn’t about to keep asking between glasses what they had to try out). Lordy, I was expecting them to come out in the typical lowball (or similarly sized) glass that I’ve come to expect from every other bar; goodness no, they came out in a solid 12oz glass, and they came out strong. Our bartender must have been pushing those drinks at least 1/3 to 1/2 Crown in my whiskey 7’s. Tasted wonderful, but they took me out in an awful hurry. Between four of those and a free round of shots with the bartender, she pretty well did us under for the night. I’m definitely tempted to go back there to give the food a try (on a night when I could use a bite), and guaranteed to go back to get some more of those lovely-strong whiskey 7’s.

Both bar visits left me in rough shape Thursday. Very rough shape. I had to hold off on any more alcoholic excursions until after finishing moving the rest of my items from the old apartment and getting it cleaned out and turned back over to the landlord. So to celebrate that occurrence, I figured I’d treat myself out to Nektar just last night, a bit further down Elmwood from my place. They have a lovely riesling that was just dry enough to my liking (too many of the rieslings I try are on the slightly too sweet side) so I indulged in a few glasses of that with an appetizer and just enjoy the atmosphere. The restaurant apparently does not really pick up until around 9 or so, so coming in at 7 I was able to enjoy the atmosphere a little more and chat it up with the bartenders there. Brian apparently is a seasoned veteran in the establishment and lives nearby, so he was able to recommend a couple choices for places to shoot some pool at. Four glasses of wine and an order of stuffed peppers later, I was set to relax for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately, the banana peppers lost so much of their kick during the making I imagine, so the stuffed peppers weren’t nearly as hot as I would have liked. They were very good regardless of that situation, however. Again, I’ll likely be returning there in the future to try out some more of their food menu…they’ve got calamari and octopus on their menu!

As I was picking up a couple items this morning from Wegmans, I decided to pick up some extra fiber english muffins that I saw there. Recently, I’ve tried some extra fiber whole grain bread and found it fairly tasty, so I’m exploring these high-fiber grain products a bit more now.

Apparently I did not read the package as well as I thought I had. I assumed they were extra fiber whole grain english muffins after I scouted through the different varieties and picked one up. Upon making breakfast this morning, as they were in the toaster oven it started to smell a bit like pancakes with maple syrup! I thought I must be smelling someone else’s kitchen, or something under the burners as I was making the eggs. I pulled them out of the toaster oven, and lo and behold that was the source of the sweet smell. I checked the bag: honey wheat english muffins. Interesting…

I finished cooking my eggs, and assembled them into little sandwiches with the english muffins with a little bit of cheese on them (even one of them with a slice of canadian bacon). I swear, they tasted just like the McDonalds McGriddle breakfast sandwiches. Better, actually, as I don’t like how sweet the sandwiches from McDonalds are.

I think I’ve found my new breakfast kick. Just add a fruit, and I think it’s all around healthy!

P.S. I always try to cook my eggs without any butter/oil unless I’m craving that buttery taste to them. This sandwich solution kind of negates my need for that taste!