Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

I hope the holidays were happy ones for anyone stumbling across this post.

This seems to have degenerated into a semi-annual sort of affair, it being almost exactly six months since my last update.

The latest news on Jacob is that he is coming to the finish line for all the procedures relating to his crash.  The most recent event was his visit to Loma Linda on the Monday after Christmas for the start of the implant process to replace his missing tooth.

The process involving cutting through the gum and then drilling a series of sequentially larger pilot holes into the bone, until an anchor can be screwed into place.  That anchor will be left for several months to allow (hopefully) the bone to grow in securely around the implant.  Once that is accomplished, they will install a little screw-in base support and then finally Jake's dentist will install a new crown.

So now we have new art work of Jake's facial innards...

Not nearly as dramatic as his earlier panoramic x-ray, but it does make a nice portrait just in time for the holidays.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Well, a year has passed and a great lot has happened in that time. Jacob is doing quite well, having completed his freshman year at Humboldt State University and nearly all of his surgeries and miscellaneous procedures. About all the remains now is to install the implant to replace his missing tooth.

I thought I should at least commemorate the occasion with a brief post. If anyone expresses an interest I can elaborate on what all has transpired in the previous six months or so. And if not, I will just let this thing fade off into oblivion. For now I think I will go to bed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pursuit of Hoppy-ness!

I have given up all pretense of any regular update to this blog. As it is I figured that "Well, it's been a week or two since my last update, guess I post something." Only to find out that it's actually been three weeks since last we spoke. Oh well, frankly, I have been so busy at work lately that I have had absolutely nothing of interest happen that I'm able to blog about.

I did get a fair amount of project related stuff accomplished this last weekend, almost none of it actually planned. The only item that I really had intended to do was the dry-hopping of my latest endeavor, California IPA. I'm not actually sure what makes an India Pale Ale a California IPA, but no matter, the sample I had at MoreBeer in Riverside tasted extremely promising. Anyway, I boiled up a batch the weekend before last, sometime around when the Chargers were going done in flames against the New York Jets.

Dry hopping is a new technique for me, something I should probably not be attempting at this point. I mean if I can't accomplish the basic techniques to my own satisfaction, why would I start throwing new wrinkles into the mix. But the siren song of the IPA won me over. I picked up a packet of Citra hops at Morebeer last week. They smelled FABULOUS, but then I'm a hoppy kind of guy. Hops in fact are interesting little buggers. I guess interesting little gals, as I have learned that they are actually female flowers.

Anyway, I'm dry hopping the beer in my secondary fermenter as we speak. Next weekend to the bottles, a couple weeks worth of fermentation and another couple for aging and my around the end of February maybe I'll have a beer to drink.

I continue to consume my Holiday Ale, the taste actually having grown on me. I was a little disappointed at first, maybe because I didn't age it long enough, but it's a somewhat serviceable beverage.

The other projects I completed last weekend were mostly Leo-induced. It POURED rain here over most of last week and the yard is a complete mud bowl. Needless to say, Leo has the sense to stay out of neither rain nor mud, so every evening we return home to find him soaked, dirty and freezing. He got a bath about every night last week just so we could let him in the house. So, Denise decided the dog needed a covered area to get out of the rain. One would think that the garage would be sufficient, but he refuses to stay in there. So, I spent a good chunk of Saturday putting up plastic roofing sheets on our patio cover trellis. It's raining now, the patio is staying relatively dry, but the whole endeavor is likely doomed to failure for one simple reason; Leo will probably not stay under the damn thing.

In addition to the cover, Denise decided the dog needed a raised platform under his bed, someplace to sleep under the new patio roof. I dutifully built the dog a new bed, which he seems to regard as some sort of fiendish trap. So far Denise has only lured him onto the thing once, with copious doggie treats, but alas the mattress slipped as he was getting off it and now he's more afraid of it than ever.

Another lesser feat was installation of a hot water recirculating pump for our bathroom. I think I mentioned previously that because our water heater is so far from our bathroom that we have to run about 2-1/2 gallons of water down the drain whenever we want to shower, just to get to the hot water. We were saving the cold water in buckets and using it to water the garden, but in the midst of the rainy season that was pretty pointless. The new pump seems to be working well, operates on a timer, so that nice hot (or at least tolerably lukewarm) water awaits for my morning shower. We'll have to watch the electric bills to see if this whole plan comes back to bite us.

Multiple other projects ensued, but my favorite was either the Tempeh Shepperd's Pie that I made for Sunday dinner or maybe it was the half-dozen Caipiroskas that I mixed up and consumed. (Actually I modified the recipe; halved the vodka and added some club soda - very refreshing after a long weekend of projecting. And a very satisfying way to use up the glut of limes from our tree.)

But enough about me. Both boys are now back in school, Jacob having left on Thursday the 14th to make the drive with a couple friends. Sounds like an epic trip, leaving Temecula around 8:00AM and arriving at Humbolt around 2:30AM on the 15th. He is now taking classes in natural resources, communications, logical writing(?), guitar and Aikido.

Denise was finally able to schedule Jake's surgery for his wisdom teeth removal and bone graft. We have that to look forward to in March.

Nicholas is winding down his college career, hanging out with his girlfriend, snow skiing up at Tahoe, spending money he doesn't have and having a generally good time. Can't say as I blame him. Oh, and he is now a vegetarian. Not sure if he's gone the whole vegan thing. I'm pretty sure beer is still allowed in his diet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Two Birds, One Stone

I'm multitasking. I just completed upgrading the Internet circuit to my office (well, technically I just swapped a cable from one router to another; one of our network services techs in Minnesota did the real work.) So I am both testing Internet connectivity by updating my blog and simultaneously killing time while waiting the arrival of Jake's flight from Sacramento at Ontario Airport. Since time flies I figure it easily qualifies for one of the two birds being killed.

I guess I should 'splain why Jacob is in Sacramento. A new quarter started at UCD for Nicholas on Monday, so he had to head back up to Davis on Saturday night. Jacob tagged along for the ride to visit a friend in Sacramento.

I thought the original plan had been for them to leave Sunday morning, since they had both been gone about all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They returned home late Saturday afternoon and Jake immediately decided they should head for Davis that evening. So, they didn't get on the road until about 7:00PM and arrived in Davis sometime around 3:00AM, according to my wife who received the safe arrival text message. Oh, to be young again. Being college students they can apparently run all night. I would have been quietly snoozing behind the wheel until an abrupt end in oncoming traffic.

Anyway, Jake is coming back home tonight. Has to be here for an appointment with the orthodontist and for no end of pinochle games with his Grandmother who arrived at our hovel on Sunday.

My sister Jackie and her husband Mike brought Mom up from San Diego. They also brought their new puppy, Abbie-something. She is quite cute. The dog that is. Which is not to say that Jackie and Mom couldn't be considered cute. I better stop there before I get in trouble.

Leo loved his new cousin dog, but then he loves all dogs. The two of them ran around like maniacs in the backyard, wearing themselves out. You can check out the chaos here.

I had planned to do a little tailgating party for my family when they came up, serve a little lunch and watch the Chargers game, which is always on TV. As it turns out the game was not on in Temecula, apparently the network having decided that since the Chargers had already clinched the division title they would show some other game instead. Jackie and Mike are huge Charger fans and I'm sure hugely disappointed by my failure as a host, but polite enough not to spit on me.

They did get a free lunch out of me, and some Hot Brazilians, so the trip was not a complete loss. Falafels with Tahini Sauce and a Green Lentil Salad and a Toasted Pecan/Red Lentil Pâté (more of this vegetarian stuff.)

Now, here I have to make a confession that I might have been a little hard on Tyler Florence in an earlier post about his Ultimate Chili Dog recipe. The falafel recipe was by Tyler Florence and was pretty good, although I probably should have added a little more salt and a lot more crushed red pepper to satisfy my tastes. I also made a Tyler Florence black bean recipe in my new pressure cooker (Did I mention that I bought myself a pressure cooker for Christmas?) and converted them into vegetarian black bean burgers. Also very good. I think the secret to my black bean vegie burgers was one key ingredient in the black bean recipe; a smoked ham hock. OK, IT'S MEAT, but it was just a very little meat, so I think it should still count.

I should make one small aside about this vegetarian cuisine; all this black bean and lentil and general legumieness has a certain, shall we say, less-than-totally-pleasant byproduct. Man, I was starting to feel like the Hindenburg. Anyway, I found the perfect restorative: Carne Asada Breakfast Burrito. I can't think of a better way to cure a vegetarian overdose.

Anyway, I think I will have to keep this short tonight. Need to wrap it up and head out to the airport. More later. Bye.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year...

...and a belated Merry Christmas! As always, I had intended a pre-Christmas post to wish you all the best but failed miserably.

Christmas was exhausting. Not Christmas itself necessarily, but all the prep the week before hand. I had a couple projects to complete that took most of the week.

Nicholas decided that he wanted to build a patio seat for his Mother, a gift to replace the current bench that is rapidly deteriorating out on our deck. I helped with the design, assembly and, of course, the purchase of the materials. He did a serviceable job as shown...

The bench is still unfinished a week after Christmas. Nick presented it to his mother with a classic ploy; "I didn't paint it because I didn't know what color you would want." I don't know how many times I've used that one, but it never gets old.

Christmas day was good, if a little over the top. Leo received two squeaky toys both of which were pretty much dead within 15 minutes of their receipt.

The big boy has for some reason decided that he will not suffer a squeaky in his presence. Once he's got the squeaker and the stuffing extracted he leaves the gutted carcass on the floor and moves on to better things.

We had a few get togethers over the holidays, my family at my sister Jean's in Newport Beach and Denise's family at the Universal Citywalk. At the Citywalk we ate at Samba, a Brazilian churrascaria, which, in case you have never experienced one, is a sort of carnivores dream. They serve all manner of skewered meats, all-you-can eat. They give you a little green-light, red-light sort of thing. As long as you have the green side up the meat keeps coming. The meat is tasty, but the concept is really a little bit disgusting. On the plus side there were a few scantily clad Samba dancers for entertainment, one of whom pulled a couple of my nephews and sister-in-law onto the dance floor. That's entertainment.

On the other plus side, I had a Hot Brazilian. No, I wasn't waxed. Samba served some interesting cocktails based on Leblon Cachaça,, one of which was a Hot Brazilian. Recipes are at the web link.

This week was mostly uneventful. Jake had yet another followup at Loma Linda, a point of discontent, as we had hoped to get his oral surgery completed over the holiday break. Instead they scheduled the followup and now can not get him onto their surgery schedule until sometime in February, which will create another logistical problem, getting him home from Humboldt for the surgery and causing additional lost class time. Oh well, slowly but surely we are putting this stuff behind us.

Nick invited a friend, Teresa, to spend a couple days in Temecula. Teresa is a recently converted vegan and was coming into dangerous territory at my house. I actually cook a lot of vegetarian recipes, but usually cheat in various little ways. For instance, a vegetarian recipe calling for vegetable stock usually gets chicken stock instead, because I stock chicken stock and not the vegie stuff.

Anyway, always up to a challenge I made a vegan dinner of Curried Red Lentil Soup and a Chickpea Shepherd's Pie (with mashed potato/cauliflower topping). I thought they were both pretty tasty. This was also good practice, since Nick informs us that he is planning to become a vegetarian, or at least a pescatarian, starting this year. I may join him as a vegetarian, but the kind of vegetarian who still eats meat.

Last night we had dinner with the next door neighbors to celebrate the New Year. I made a variation on the jalapeno/cucumber Samba cocktails for the ladies. Did not manage to make it to midnight however as I was completely spent and in bed by 11:15.

Anyway enough for now. Here's wishing you all a Hot Brazilian in the New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birth...

... ein minuten bitte! It's supposed to be Happy Birthday to ME!

Yes, it's my birthday today, so I'm celebrating this morning with a breakfast of Huevos Benedict Parmessan, a recipe that I think I may have documented in a previous post. The major difference this morning is that I am having Denise assemble everything, so we'll see how she does. (OK for her first attempt as it turns out, although I had to make the roasted red pepper sauce.)

Interestingly, I harvested the eggplant from our garden this very morning. It's just weird; less than a week from Christmas and the garden is still prodigiously pumping out a plethora of produce. It's supposed to be winter.

For my birthday present to myself I think I will experiment with chili recipes in search of the ultimate chili for chili dogs, chili fries, chili burgers and the like. I've tried this in the past with limited success.

I decided to do a little research on this morning, reviewing chili dog recipes to use as a sort of jumping off point. One of the first hits on the search was Tyler Florence's recipe for the Ultimate Chili Cheese Dog, which I have made once. "Hated It!" First of all, this is a misnomer; it could appropriately be called the Ultimate Ketchup Cheese Dog. The sauce is sickeningly sweet, the result of ratio of 1 teaspoon of chili powder to 2-1/2 cups of ketchup. Call me old fashioned, but I generally think chili should have a little chile in it. Of course, I should have known. Tyler Florence is, or at least was, the spokes-chef for Applebees, which is to dining what Thomas Kinkade is to fine art.

(I should accept at least a little of the blame here. As I read the recipe I thought, there is no way there can be enough spices in this recipe. I forged ahead anyway and suffered the consequences.)

Anyway, less than a week until Christmas and both of the boys are now home on their Christmas breaks. Nick actually arrived last Monday evening and has been hanging out at home (and drinking my beer) for most of the week. Jacob, having secured a ride from Arcata with a friend, arrived today in the wee wee hours of the morning. I haven't actually seen him yet as I was asleep when he arrived and he is still sleeping in.

Nick and I have been running our annual obscure Christmas film festival. We traditionally start the Christmas holiday observation with a viewing of the Muppets Christmas Carole on the weekend following Thanksgiving. After that any movie is fair game as long as there is the slightest reference to Christmas. Bull Durham for instance; Crash Davis' line "I believe in opening your presents Chrismas morning, not Christmas Eve." Or The World is Not Enough; Denise Richards as nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones. This week it was Band of Brothers, because of the Christmas scene in Bastogne.

Denise has been working on getting the house fully decorated for Christmas and we spent the better part of an evening trying to get Leo into the holiday spirit by posing him in a Santa hat. Unfortunately, Leo thought of it more as a chew toy.

Quick jump to the future...

It's now Sunday, the 20th. Denise made me stop blogging to go shopping with her, so I didn't get this finished and posted yesterday.

We finished up my birthday with a trip to the Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens. We were joined by my Mom, sisters Terry (and husband Jon), Jean (with husband Joe), Kathy (who needs a husband like a fish needs a bicycle), Jack (and spousal unit Mike), niece Emily, and friend Mike Griffin. With Denise and the boys it worked out to 14 of us. Dinner was delicious. I had the Mac 'n Beer Cheese along with an assortment of fermented grain beverages. For dessert I received a complimentary Beer Float in which perfectly good beer was ruined with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

So it is now Sunday, the boys have vacated the premises to do a little Christmas shopping. I am recording the Chargers game so that when the boys return we can do a little virtual tailgating. Watch the game, grill up some chili dogs, nachos or whatever. I'll be giving my experimental chili a try on the dogs, but I think the recipe will need a little tweaking. After bitching about the absence of chili in Tyler Florence's chili recipe I overcompensated with perhaps a wee bit too much Chipotle in mine. May not even be able to taste the dogs under that sauce. I believe it's a step in the right direction though.

In case anyone is interested here's what I tried...

4 dried New Mexico chiles (stems and seeds removed)
4 dried California chiles (stems and seeds removed)
4 dried Chipotle chilies (I think I'll cut this to 1 or 2 next time I try this)
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound habanero pork sausage (homemade) or ground pork
medium onion finely diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
3 bay leaves
fresh ground pepper
olive oil
12oz canned Pabst Blue Ribbon

Place chiles in chicken stock, bring to boil and simmer 30 minutes. Puree cooked chiles and stock and PBR beer in blender, then force through a fine wire sieve to create chile sauce.

While chiles cook, brown ground beef and pork in olive oil. Remove browned meat and saute onions until soft. Add garlic, spices, bay leaves and saute a few more minutes. Add meat and chili sauce to the onion and spices. Simmer until chili reaches desired thickness. Eat.

Remember that this is a work in progress, so plan accordinginly. I am open to suggestions for improvement, as long as no one suggests ketchup.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Overdue Post, Thanksgiving Update, Pearl Harbor

I apologize. I was trying to be more proactive about posting updates to this blog, but the calendar tells me that it's now been two weeks since my last update.

I've been in a post-Thanksgiving funk for the last week and half or so, partly because I picked up a cold on the Friday of Thanksgiving week (the remnants of which are still with me), probably in part because my boys had to leave and head back up to school so I have no one to play with and partly because I experienced one of those falling incidents that start to affect you when you are old and infirm.

Actually, this happened a couple weeks ago. I had gotten home early and was trying to take care of a bunch of projects in the yard while there was still a little daylight. Taking a short cut across Leo's bed on the garage floor, his blanket completely wrapped itself around both my legs and I went nearly face first into my roll-away tool cabinet. I broke my fall, mostly with my right thumb, and managed to avoid the toolbox, but I very nearly ended up replicating Jake's little incident. I am fairly certain that I broke my thumb, but the thought of spending an evening in a Temecula Urgent Care center was too much to bear, so I administered an ice pack (frozen peas) and alcohol (bourbon, I think) and finished what chores I could.

I had fallen, but for the time being at least I was able to get up. But the inevitable, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" can't be too far away. What's in store for me now; LifeAlert? The Clapper?Stepping on the accelerator instead of the brake and crashing through the DMV?
On top of that I've been going through a lot of old photographs and have started to realize how little I've accomplished. My Dad survived the depression, served in WWII, including servicing B25s aboard the Hornet in support of the Doolittle Raid, worked on Craig Breedlove's Spirit of America world speed record attempts on the Bonneville Salt Flats, raised six children, took his wife on occasional trips to Hawaii, the Caribbean, etc. I cook a pretty good Thanksgiving dinner and that's about the end of my resume.

Anyway, I have been depressed, that is until tonight when I received this email...
Hi Hanten.....

I'm not 100% guaranteed if Im still going to send this e mail, but I should write it or Ill go crazy....I dont know how else to say it..... I have a crush on you. been dreaming about you non stop and I'm shy to let out my feelings to you...youll understand why if you knew who this was. I might regret this another time, though I think I want to tell you now. I wrote a hidden blog post for you it is
secret blog for Hanten
I hope I'm not making a stupid decision although after writing this I know I have to click Send
I have omitted the link, because it is, after all, a secret blog for me. Imagine how happy I am now to know that someone, somewhere has a secret crush on me. And imagine how much happier I'd be if the person actually knew my name.

Anyway, now I'm in a good mood, so I can try to catch up on all the info I should have posted long ago.

To further enhance my mood I decided to observe the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by watching a movie that truly recreates the trauma of the event; Pearl Harbor. A two-DVD extravaganza of pain and suffering, for the audience at least. Jeez, what a horrible flick. This is a movie that had to have been made to go straight to Mystery Science Theater 3000. I feel much, much better having spent the entire first disc bagging on the copious flaws in the film. I may even watch disc two.

Actually, the movie Pearl Harbor spends a considerable amount of time (the entire second DVD) on the Doolittle Raid. So, I've decided to watch the disc in hopes of seeing an actor playing my Dad, but the film makers don't seem to think there was anyone actually aboard the Hornet to service the bombers. Oh well, they also seem to think that Jack Daniels bottles had bar code labels in 1941.

So, now that I've dramatically improved my mood I can provide a brief update on T-day and subsequent activities.

I spent most of Wednesday cooking anything that could be prepared in advance, killing time waiting for Nicholas, who arrived safely at our happy home later in the day. Having done a lot of cooking in advance, I thought that Thursday would actually be pretty simple, but for some reason the kitchen was busy all day again.

The boys, Denise, Leo and I were joined for Thanksgiving dinner by sisters Kathy, Jackie and Jackie's husband, Mike.

(Sorry, a short aside, Pearl is playing in the background and Ben Affleck and the rest of his B25 crew seem to be winning the war in the Pacific single-handedly. Apparently we needn't have sent all those Marines to Iwo Jima, etc. It's over now, thank God...the second disc is mercifully short at 45 minutes.)

Dinner was ultimately quite enjoyable; BBQ Mesquite Smoked Turkey with roast garlic mashed potatoes, chipotle smashed sweet potatoes, spinach-chorizo stuffed poblano peppers, traditional dressing, cranberry sauce and jalapeno-cranberry relish, a delightful salad care of Jackie and pumpkin pie a la Kathy. Oh, and home-brewed Imperial Blonde Ale, which seemed to be pretty well received, even though I was a little dissatisfied with it.

For after dinner entertainment I introduced my sisters to Mav TV and the program Body Shots, in which cocktail recipes are prepared by a bartender between a pair of blonde-bikinied-bimbos who occasionally venture opinions along the lines of "Wow, these look great. I sure can't wait to suck one down!" It is one of the single most stupid things I've ever seen on TV and I've seen the Sham-WOW, so that's going some. Mav TV also features a show called Fitness Beauties which consists of nothing but video of some woman, OK fairly attractive woman, working out on fitness equipment. No narration, just an instrumental soundtrack. Apparently it's for guys who are too big of losers to actually join a gym to ogle women. With this show they can ogle within the privacy of their own homes. Mav TV is seriously bizarre. It's like programming for the perennially juvenile. I fit right in.

Anyway, on Friday Nick and Jake helped me launch another batch of beer, this time cooking up a holiday ale, which I hope will be decent and ready to serve by Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed. I'll be bottling it some evening this week barring some sort of crisis.

Accomplished very little beyond that over the holiday as by Saturday I was starting to feel pretty crappy with this cold. Stayed in, watched some football and played a few Pinochle games with the boys and that was about it. Unfortunately, they had to leave at 0'dark-thirty Sunday morning to get Jake back up to Davis for his 2:30PM Amtrak connection back to Humboldt. Got up to see them off around 5:00AM and then went back to bed.

In addition to the normal sort of care package that Denise trys to send off with the boys I sent the remaining stock of Imperial Blonde off to Davis with Nick. He seemed to like it and with him having little in the way of beer budget I figured it was going to as good a final resting place as any.

So the boys are back at school and I am sinking further into decrepitude, but at least we will be seeing them again soon for the Christmas holiday.

Oh, BTW my ESB was pretty much DOA. I don't know for sure how I screwed it up, but Extra Special Bitter is not my forte. It's pretty much undrinkable, but mixed half-and-half with soy sauce made a pretty serviceable Tri-tip marinade. So, that got rid of one bottle. Now what to do with couple of cases. Maybe a little beer-battered fish and chips? I'll have to work something out.