Thursday, June 21, 2007

Incipient Cerebrations

Incipient is one of those pet words of mine... I like the word, but I feel sort of sorry for it. Incipient is too often misused as a synonym for incessant or as some mangled form of insipid, which is itself generally being misused by the writer or speaker.

But I've wandered from where I was originally headed. When I set up my cool little Razr to do moblogging the other night, I quickly fired off a rapid secession of posts to Blootered, only to delete them later. It wasn't that I was displeased with the results... to the contrary, the process was simple and quick and cool beyond words. The problem lied in not being able to write. I could post a photo with a title and short caption, but my twelve-key phone made text entry so trying that I couldn't write more without going insane. So, as I sat here at my computer at 2:00 a.m. listening to Fade Into You by Mazzy Star playing on a loop it suddenly hit me that the moblogs reflected just my most incipient thoughts.

The beginnings of a thought.
The spark of a coming cerebration.
Idea embryos.

So I decided to create a new place for my moblogs... somewhere that I could send a quick pic and a word or two.

Incipient Cerebrations

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What's on the Grill? Salmon!

Salmon, the other pink meat.



Wowzers... tonight I made my very first meal off the Cooking for Engineers website I wrote about a couple weeks ago...

I opted to go for their Grilled Salmon recipe from Michael Chu. The results were absolutely amazing.

The soy-maple glaze is a real sticky mess, and it made a complete disaster of the grill and my basting brush, but it was well worth it. (Imagine dipping your basting brush in peanut brittle when it's still "liquid"; that was about the result I had.) The end result was fantastic, and all the kids gobbled it up like mad:



I'd say this is a great salmon for people who don't like salmon. Unfortunately my wife, who fits into that category very well, wasn't home tonight and didn't get to try any. I'm quite certain, though, that when I make this again in a few weeks, she'll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Engineers rock!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Moblogging rocks!

My first blog created entirely on my cell phone. My exciting night.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Epitome of Laziness...

Camera phones used to drive me nuts... but it is nice to always have a camera on my hip for those times when I'm sitting at a red light and look down to see idiocy like this:




{edit: I've been told by Emily that it looks sort of like this is a clear mat over the top of a yellow stripe, which is not the case at all... Yes, it is a charcoal colored carpeted mat that they painted right over the top of..}

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What's on the Grill? Taco Night!

I've wondered before why it is that most grilled beef taco recipes call for grilling the steaks whole, and then shredding or cutting the steaks into strips. It always seemed to me that if one were to slice the steaks first, then marinade them before grilling, the marinade would permeate the steaks more thoroughly, making for a yummier steak. Mike grills one hell of a thin-sliced Korean steak, which made me decide that there was absolutely no reason I couldn't trim the steak the same way and grill it for tacos.

In addition to the steak, I needed some shrimp. Since reading about Zoe's prawn sandwiches several days ago, I've been absolutely dying for some grilled shrimp. As luck would have it, I found some shrimps on sale, and decided to marinade them in the same chili pepper marinade I used on the beef. (Peppers dried and frozen from my garden last year!) At the last minute, I also wrapped half the shrimp in bacon, to eat as an appetizer:



I learned a couple lessons... First, bacon grease makes BIG grill fires. I wish I had the wherewithal to have snapped a picture of the inferno, but I was busy running in circles trying to figure out how to save dinner. I haven't lost this much hair on the back of my hand and arm since the backpacking stove incident of '06. The bacon grease fire didn't start until after the shrimp was off the grill and the asparagus and tamales were on the grill. In the future, the bacon-wrapped items will go on the grill last.



Next, it might be that most people grill the whole steak before slicing because they have learned from experience that it's easily possible to loose five or six dollars worth of steak through the slats in the grill when the steak is sliced so thin. Keeping that in mind, the taste was soooooo incredible that it was worth the few pieces of lost meat... perhaps next time I'll use the little seafood grill-topper thing (The one about which Mike furrows his brow and says in his most condescending tone, "If your grill were properly cleaned and oiled, you wouldn't need one of those things.)

Somewhere between saving the veggies and tamales from the bacon-grease inferno and opening another beer, I completely forgot that I had intended to make a homemade mango salsa and to grill the tortillas for a few seconds before serving, so I had to serve the tortillas right out of the bag and use a jar of black bean and corn salsa I had handy.

The end result was absolutely fantabulous and was a hit with the whole family:

Yawn...

It's midnight. Your wife doesn't feel good and went to bed at eleven. There's nothing on TV. You left your cigars at work. You've already busted Mike's chops enough for one day. What's a guy to do?

Well, you could stumble upon the Nobel Prize website and into their educational games section...

It's 2:38 a.m. You're out of beer, but you've managed to score 198,124 on the Laser Challenge Game, designed the house on lot #2 in Conductive Valley (you're gonna have to visit the site for an explanation) and you've earned your conductive polymers certificate.

You're not a dork.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Perfect end to a Good Day

Bad photo... but it pretty much sums up my day...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hey... Don't Judge Me!

So what? Some people pose for pictures with their wife, some pose for pictures with their kids, I just happen to pose for pictures with my electronics, there's nothing "dorky" about that!



It's not a fancy monitor by modern standards, but it's my first flat panel ... (a 20" Acer widescreen) and I'm pretty pleased with it, as you can tell. Thanks to my friends at buy.com for the wonderful deal on it.

I think I'll call in sick to work and stay home playing video games...

(Update from later in the day: On second thoughts, I'd better clarify: That last line was a JOKE. I did go to work,I would never call in sick to play video games... I don't want this showing up in some psychotic person's deposition or anything.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What's on the grill? Artichokes.

As usual, being one of my two evenings off a week when I can actually grill for the whole family, the kids are forced to be subjected to something they've never eaten before. I've been doing this for over a year now, since I decided one night that they were way too picky and needed to broaden their horizons somewhat. Tonight was Artichoke night.

They've had artichokes before, many times not even realizing it. I love artichokes and will throw a bunch of hearts into a chicken dish or fry them in with the meat when I'm making cheese steaks, and the kids have either liked it, or not complained too loudly. I've never made a whole artichoke before, though.

I removed the pricks from the bracts and boiled the 'chokes for about 15 minutes before quartering them and marinating them in raspberry basalmic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and some other dried herby stuff that I don't recall off the top of my head.

While they were marinading, I decided to try and make a homemade lemon mayonnaise to serve with them. I grilled some bisected lemons:



Although the directions said to grill until "well charred" I got a little worried because shortly after I took the above photo, it seemed as if an awful lot of lemon juice was dripping into the grill. I removed the lemons pre-maturely, which I believe contributed to an overly-lemony mayo. Follow directions, Eric.

While the mayo was chillin' I threw some burgers and the 'chokes on the grill:



In the end, the 'chokes were a huge flop with everyone but Zachary and I. Tonya's extremely honest evaluation was, "That's the worst thing you've ever grilled." Zach tore into his artichoke quarter and even ate the bitter stem. I think the marinade was a bit strong for the others... I'll give them a month or two to forget about the experience, then I'll try a milder artichoke recipe.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cooking for Engineers !!

(Please forgive the gratuitous second posting within one hour, but this was too good to pass up!)

I don't know how I never found this before... being that I've searched the Internet long and hard for all things nerdy and many things yummy, but I just stumbled across this while waiting for my ribeye sandwich to warm up:

Cooking for Engineers Dot Com.

While I'm certainly no engineer, my father did leave me an engineer's genes (funny, I first typed "engineers jeans" which, of course, imparts a whole new and strange meaning to the phrase.) My engineer's genes explain my uncontrollable desire to dismantle and rewire all things plug-in-able; the end result in my case generally being a non-working thing that was previously working just fine -- but I digress.

I knew I was hooked on the Cooking for Engineers site when the first article I read (a wonderfully cerebral explanation of heat transfer as it relates to steaks) included the phrase, "Remember, the heat capacities are listed in terms of mass, not volume. It would take roughly 1000 times the volume of gas (temperature dependent) to have the same mass as water or oil." and when the author's bio was, "Burr Zimmerman has 11 years of (amateur) cooking experience, 9 years of chemical engineering experience, and 7 of trying to combine them."

This is a website you have got to check out.

Now, back to my ribeye (since it's been the appropriate amount of time for the optimal temperature gradient to be reached between the charred, yummy outside and the pink, yummy inside.)

What's on the Grill? SMOKE.

I'll just start out by saying that after this...


...when I woke up this morning, my farts smelled like hickory.




I did something I hadn't done for a couple years, and which I'm sure all you "real" grillers out there will scoff at: I bought a bag of those nifty little smoking pellets. They look like rabbit food, you wrap them in foil, and smoke pours out into the grill. They're a little more expensive than buying the wood chips, but if you're in a pinch for time (as I was) and don't have time to soak your wood chips, these little boogers are a life saver.

Anyway... since I ended up with four teenage girls at my house for dinner last night (in addition to my regular brood) I had to run out and buy a few extra ribeyes:



Once again, the grill was filled edge-to-edge with meat, and I had to cook the food in shifts. Tonya ended up frying the Asparagus on the stove, which turned out pretty good, while I did the eggplant on the grill. I still haven't found an eggplant concoction I'm satisfied with, but it was pretty good last night:



Oh, and as it turns out, when you get a bunch of teenage girls together they all get self-conscious about how much they are eating and hardly eat a thing, I had two and a half ribeyes left.

Well look at that, it's noon... time for a ribeye sandwich!

Monday, June 04, 2007

My Flickr Thinks I'm Gay!

Several years ago Jeffery Zaslow over at the Wall Street Journal had a hilarious article titled, Oh no! My TiVo Thinks I'm Gay! (editorial note: Shortly after the article was published, WSJ changed the title to: If TiVo Thinks You Are Gay, Here's How to Set It Straight because they were reportedly worried that the "Oh no!" part of the headline somehow implied that there was something wrong with being gay.) I remember one blogger at the time offering, "If Tivo thinks I'm gay, I'd hate to think what Amazon must think of me!"

Four years later I seem to have run into a similar problem. TiVo has me pegged correctly as a nerdy overweight straight armchair adventurer... but Flickr apparently thinks I'm gay, and it's all due to this photo:



(At this time I should probably interject the obligatory P.C. Seinfeld disclaimer: "Not that there's anything wrong with that")

Shortly after posting this photo, my Flickr account began getting befriended by several Flickr members who I didn't know. As is customary, I checked their Flickr profiles out, only to discover that the preponderance of their photos were of young beefcake guys. Looking at that picture of myself again, I can't help but think, "Boy, I sure am handsome" ... but I maintain that it's not a "gay" looking photo at all. My good friend Mike happens to agree with me and said, "I like that picture!" (On second thoughts, and after looking at that picture of Mike again, let me retract that: I might not be offering the strongest of defenses here.)

Anyway ... next time I have a good cigar out on a nice sunny day, I'll be posing for a re-take of that photo -- with a stripper on each arm.

(um... a female stripper, that is.)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

That Little Show-off!

As I mentioned in my first installment of What's on the Grill, my little brother, who I sorta stole the whole What's on the Grill idea from, is quite an accomplished cook: well trained in the ways of culinary mastery. My cooking ability, on the other hand, derives from one single source of motivation: I like to eat. It just so happens that the best way for me to satisfy my desire to eat is to cook, and my favorite way to cook is on the grill. Mostly due to the flavor and the whole testosterone thing, but in no small part also due to the easier clean-up...

Anyhoo... the other day my little brother saw the picture from my last What's on the Grill posting and decided he had to one-up me. The below picture arrived on my cell phone:



Now I honestly have no idea what that is... looks like some sort of beast of the earth topped by perhaps a cucumber that is retaining a pocket of bean sprouts or something... or, it could be the new edible chia-pet. Either way... looks pretty, don't it?

Not content to have bested me with his dinner preparation ability, he then sends me a picture of dessert:



I believe I'm looking at some sort of raspberry-chocolate crepe... and it looks goooood.

Of course, I wanted my brother to see what my family ate for dessert that night, so I promptly sent him this picture:



I have obviously been bested... his kitchen kung-foo is very strong.