Month: January 2012

Dinner Tonight: Seasoned Albacore Tuna with Baby Broccoli and Mashed Potatoes

Made something interesting for dinner this evening. A month ago we picked up these frozen Albacore Tuna steaks at Trader Joe’s.

I took them out of the freezer this morning and put them in the fridge. Perfectly defrosted by the time I got home from work.

Seasoned them with the Szego fish spice, and a little bit of garlic/salt/parsley mix.

Put down enough peanut oil to coat the bottom of a frying pan and then placed the well seasoned tune in the pan, about 3 minutes per side.

Also sauteed some baby broccoli in butter and olive oil. Used the garlic/salt/parsley mix again and added crushed red pepper flakes. Delicious!

The fish was served with a little half Meyer lemon, and some mashed potatoes we had left over. Yes, home made mashed potatoes not that shit from the box.

The Meyer lemons are interesting. They have a very mild tang to them, in fact the sugar content of these babies is slightly higher than a normal lemon. It went VERY well with the fish.

Now we’ve tried tuna steaks before but never did the oil in the pan searing. Won’t ever forget to do that again. A thin sheen of oil is enough to put a delicious crust on that fish!

A lot more fish is working into the diet but I worry about the mercury exposure. I just got a recent issue of Make magazine and it’s all about bio sensing and one of things they mention is one person who drew their own blood and measured mercury content, then ate some fish and did a reading again and noticed the mercury levels spiked.

And to think, Marvin Gaye was singing about fish full of mercury almost fifty years ago.

You have to ask, where the hell did all that mercury come from?

Does car exhaust contribute to asthma clusters?

Check out the following:

Click it to embiggen it!

Notice that the darkest green is clustered RIGHT around the highways?

From the site:

the average annual asthma-related Emergency Department (ED) visits per 1000 population by tract. Note that tracts are based on population (target: ~4,000) so they tend to be much larger in more rural or suburban areas.

So it appears they’re normalizing against residential tract location of the victims.

When are we going to stop playing the game? When are we going to admit that benzene and the other harmful exhaust chemicals have a dramatic impact on human health?

Who needs fast food when you can do it yourself?

So this morning I baked a batch of cheddar shortbread biscuits. We cooked up some sausage patties, and I did a little folded egg.

Sliced the biscuits in half, laid the patty down, then the egg, then some nice shredded sharp cheddar.

Hands down better than anything you’d get at the fast food places.

Total process time:

Biscuits: 30 minutes from start to finish.
Eggs: 3 minutes
Sausage Patties: 8 minutes.

Now the biscuits and sausage were concurrent so total time really was only 33 minutes.

Get in your car, drive to McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s or any of them and you spend at least 20 to 30 minutes doing that.

And better, the biscuits, there were 18 of them. So there’s leftover. And cost wise, a bag of King Arthur All Purpose flour costs me $3.27 and I use three cups worth out of a 5lb bag. It comes out to about 12oz. of flour, and there are 90oz. in a bag, so 43 cents worth of flour

The sour cream costs $2.29 and I use the entire container.

The cheese is $3.29 and I use 4oz. or say 80 cents

Salt, baking powder and baking soda total up perhaps 50 cents. Butter is one half stick. So if a package of 4 sticks, my half stick is 37.5 cents.

Total cost for 18 biscuits:
$4.40 – just 24 cents a biscuit.

The sausage patties were a bag of 18 for $4. We used 4 patties. Total there is 88 cents.

Eggs – four eggs. A dozen is $3.28 so $1.09 here.

So for the 4 sausage, egg and cheese biscuits we total out at $2.93 each.

Santorum should look in the mirror occasionally

He most recently accused the President of the United States of hubris and snobbery.

You might ask why he says this?

I found this quote from July of this year in which President Obama said:

“A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can out-compete countries around the world. America’s business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game. That’s why we’re working together to put an outstanding education within reach for every child”

-President Barack Obama, July 18, 2011

Note that LAST part, “within reach for every child”. Not that every child would get a college education, but that they be ABLE to get that education.

Granted, not every child is college material. Sadly enough there are some that will never have the cognitive ability to make it through college. But the President lays out a case that every child should have the OPPORTUNITY to go to college.

And Rick Santorum is getting his panties in a wad over this?

I suppose I’d make Santorum apoplectic with my proposal which I’ll detail below:

1) Break out of the 18th and 19th century educational model. We’re not preparing farm workers or even factory workers anymore. Focus on math and science, but lets not get too lean on the language arts.

2) Enhance teacher standards. I’ve seen a number of teachers who I truly believe received a bad education. Let’s reform the system and evaluate both before they get into a classroom, and in their first 180 days. Then supplement their education using government money to keep them up to date on the latest methodologies for imparting knowledge.

3) Bolster the state colleges. Infuse enough cash so that tuition is a fraction of what it is now. Hire good professors, focus on new educational paradigms, and make it so EVERY child has the OPPORTUNITY and ABILITY to attend those schools.

4) Ultimately take over the private schools like Yale, Harvard, Brown et al and NATIONALIZE them. Make them NATIONAL Universities. Wouldn’t that be something. Allow them to be academically selective. If the feeder schools are doing their job, there shouldn’t be a problem there.

Finally, if anyone is guilty of hubris and snobbery it’s Rick Santorum himself.

Warmer than usual here in RI

So today I got the Zipcar and we did the shopping, hit the post office, etc.

Now when I left the house this morning I noticed two things. First that the temperature was mild and that the sun was VERY bright.

Coming back from dropping off the Zipcar I checked the weather application on my phone and it was 61F. I thought it felt a little warm.

If this is winter then I’m all for it. I know we’re only 17 days into winter proper but it has been a highly unusual progression.

The only snow we’ve really gotten was back on Halloween and that was only a light dusting that was pretty much gone by November 1st.

Beyond the frigid temps at the beginning of the week, it was 14F when I left the house one morning, this is a welcome temperature change.

But it hasn’t rained all that much either. I suspect we’re going to see serious water shortages come spring. But I suspect spring will follow the pattern it’s followed the last few years. We will get inundated with rain which will alleviate any shortages. In other words, a wet spring.

But as I mentioned earlier, our average annual snow fall is 34 inches. By this time we’ve gotten about 18 of those 34 inches but there hasn’t been a speck of snow so far.

I am loving it. I don’t relish shoveling heavy, wet snow. I also don’t care for walking on iced over sidewalks.

So this is ideal. I always said I’d like the winter daytime temps to hover in the mid 50’s to mid 60’s during the winter. And with climate change, that must might come true.

Escaped my notice but this blog is now six years old!

I started blogging on December 17th, 2005. So this past December the 17th this blog turned 6 years old. I’m also currently at the 1,970th post which averages to 328 posts per year.

So we now start my 7th year of blogging. It should get interesting with the Republican Clown Cavalcade, the LGBT rights fight still bubbling on, and technology is marching along quite nicely so it provides plenty of blog fodder.

So happy New Year to all and keep on blogging.

Tolls, and how ridiculous it’s getting

One thing I completely spaced on in the prior posts was the tolls on the NJ Turnpike and the George Washington Bridge.

Prior trips it cost $8 to cross the GW Bridge, and $9.05 to traverse NJ.

But with the turn of the calendar it meant increases in the toll rates. Going down to NC I paid $9.05 on the NJ Turnpike.

Returning I paid $13.85 on the NJ Turnpike, a total of $4.80 more, or 53% more!

The GW Bride, I used to joke that for $8 per car the fucking bridge should be plated in gold. But now it’s $12 so I say the bridge should be made of gold, or a nickle gold alloy.

But then I thought about it. You have to pay all those toll collector because not everyone has adopted EZ Pass yet. Hell, I haven’t received mine yet and I ordered it on December 20th. They took the money, but no EZ Pass. I’m going to give them another week before I email and rip the RI Bridge and Turnpike a new asshole.

But one interesting thing I noted. In NYC they actually paint a white/purple/white stripe around the lanes open for EZ Pass only. Nice touch!

Musings on driving

In my prior post I alluded to the differences in road surfaces and driver differences between my home state and the state I was visiting.

In this post I’m going to write about the driving experience in our trip to and from North Carolina.

One thing I’ve found is that leaving between the hours of 4AM and 5AM on both ends means you’ll miss all the crap. Coming from RI through New York takes 2 hours. Normally it takes 3 to 3.5 hours but since you’re outside the commute times and on a Saturday or Sunday you aren’t tied up at the George Washington Bridge, drive up, pay the toll and drive off.

Getting up that early is rather hellish but well worth the effort. You can reliably do 80MPH to 90MPH if you so wish and I so wished. Put it this way, the distance between home and our destination was 645 miles. If you eliminated the tolls, and kept the highway somewhat clear you could get there in 8 hours at 80MPH, or 7.1 hours at 90MPH.

It bring me to the law and my interpretations thereof. The left lane of the highway should nominally be used for passing. In my view, the left lane is for serious violations of the speed limit, hence the 80MPH or more during most of the trip.So get the hell out my way!

The early thing also helps to avoid the obvious speed traps. They seem to be more prevalent in MD and VA. If there’s one thing about police it’s that they are predictable. And in VA you really want to come prepared with surface to air missiles for the aircraft they use to clock speeds.But if you understand the rhythms of policing, like the general schedules they keep you pretty much know when to speed. And when you do see one with someone pulled over, proceed to speed once you’re a couple miles away from the scene. He’s likely the ONLY one on that segment of highway.

But if there’s one thing that makes me insane it’s the people in the left lane who like jacking on the brakes for no apparent reason, like going around a mild bend in the road. All you have to do is back off the gas momentarily to negotiate a curve. Had a Nissan Sentra with MA plates on it in front of me that did that constantly. Finally had to break the rules and pass on the right.

 

 

The Annual Holiday Travel Post

Let me start with differences of driving in North Carolina and driving here in Providence, RI.

Driving in North Carolina is interesting. It’s nothing to go 30 or 40 miles to get to a grocery store. But for the most part the roads are fantastic. The major highways (U.S. 17 and U.S. 64) are well striped, and have reflectors everywhere. The roads are also VERY smooth, no potholes, no major issues at all. But then they are sparsely traveled and they don’t get winters like we do in the northeast so I believe that might be why the roads are so good.

And the people. Here’s where the comparison starts. In North Carolina, specifically the northeastern region, if one happens to be in the left hand lane of the highway and you move up on another car in that same lane, they’ll move right for you.

It’s amazing. Do the same here in RI and you’ll have to basically move one lane to the right, pass the offending bastard, then cut them off.

And the roads here in Rhode Island are absolute shit! The highways are pretty good but most local roads like the street I live on, and also on Atwells Ave, Manton Ave, Charles St. etc. are pock marked and it feels like riding down a washboard.

I note they want to put a .03% tax on stock and bond transactions but I say that isn’t enough. I say put a 5% tax on the $6 Trillion. It would mean $5 billion or so per state EVERY YEAR. Maybe some of that money could flow to the municipalities so they could repave the horrid streets. For the City of Providence it would mean $128,205,128.21 which would pave a LOT of streets.

Enough ranting. We got there around 4PM on Christmas Eve. For our nephew we chose a My First Kawasaki set with a guitar and keyboard. You had to see my nephew when he got it. He’s a little ham. He’s playing it with his arms stretched above his head like a rock star. It was too cute, he was really digging the new toy. So it has served it’s purpose, it amuses my nephew and annoys my sister in law. You have to love a gift that serves a dual purpose like that.

And of course I got to deliver a nice little zinger to my sister in law, she noticed the drum kit pictured on the back of the box for the guitar and keyboard and asked if we’d gotten that too. I took the opportunity to say “No, we didn’t get it this year, but there’s always next year!”

And yes we’ll probably get him a full drum kit. Should be fun to see the look on her face. I’ll probably capture that on video for posterity sake.

Otherwise it was a quiet week. Well, mostly quiet. I didn’t suffer my usual withdrawal from not having a net connection. I got to catch up on some reading. I finally finished a book titled “Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil”

Here’s what I want in an electric vehicle. A range of 300 to 400 miles on a charge. Four wheel drive with motors on EACH wheel, no transfer cases, differentials, etc. Quick recharging, in the 10 to 15 minute range. And a price point below $20,000. All of that is completely feasible from a technical perspective. But it will take political will to make it happen.

I got to rest quite a bit, despite having to help Keyron move some heavy furniture from his mom’s house to the shed.

And then there were the new blinds we purchased for her. We managed to get one set of blinds up in the living room. The wood was SO hard and the tools so dull, for example the point on the Philips head screwdriver was flat, that it took close to three hours of constant cranking to get two screws into both sets of brackets.

Finally told the MIL that power tools were a NECESSITY for this project and that if she couldn’t find anyone to hang them we’d come back in May with the necessary tools to put them up easily. I didn’t say it quite like that but I did say “If I’d known we’d be hanging blinds I would have brought my tools with me!”

My rest was disturbed a bit one morning when I heard this incessant buzzing sound. I looked out the window to see small airplanes dive bombing the fields. They were spraying for mosquitoes.

Other entertainment included watching a number of movies. One in particular sticks out because at the beginning I figured out who Joshua REALLY was. Yep, old Yeshua Ben Joseph aka Jesus Christ. He did the requisite healing, and the raising from the dead. Don’t think I’m getting religion, I’m just very familiar with the stories in their central text, the Bible.

Also watched Billy Bathgate. Interesting enough movie about a kid who worms his way into Dutch Shultz’s mob in the 1930’s and then manages to walk away alive after meeting with Lucky Luciano.

On the Friday before we left we went up to Virginia Beach, VA to visit with Keyron’s uncle Ike, his wife Lee and aunt Irene. Had a good conversation with Ike about the way this country is going and I mentioned my above calculations about the $5 Billion to EACH state EACH year. He liked that a lot. He drive truck so he sees the crumbling infrastructure and understands that the money could in part be used to rehabilitate the crumbling infrastructure in this country.

Had baked chicken, fried chicken, corn and green beans, macaroni and cheese, overall a very good meal in Virginia Beach.

However the Mac and cheese, well Keyron admits the one I make is actually better. It’s a very old recipe I use dating back to Thomas Jefferson.

Ate some good food too. Collard greens, roasted chicken, pork chops with sour cream and dill sauce and then there’s the turkey meatloaf. Cousin Norma prepared that one and you couldn’t even tell it was turkey. Nice!

I did the pork chop dish and served with rice and some caramelized Brussels Sprouts de-glazed with some red wine. I like those because they aren’t mushy like normally prepared sprouts. You get the sweetness of the caramelized cut face, and then the wine gets absorbed into the sprouts and gives a whole different flavor profile.

Not a lot of sweet stuff this past week. And I left the iPod Touch at home, I use that less and less these days ever since I got my Android phone. But I have to transfer the recipes I keep on that iPod over to the phone, or at least to my computer.

I’ve now been tasked by Keyron with preparing the macaroni and cheese dish and perhaps shortbread biscuits for a family reunion in May. Who knows, maybe I’ll even throw in a batch of corn bread.

Yes – I’ve become quite the cook. I love trying out new recipes. There’s a slow cooker based pulled pork recipe I want to try. If it is similar to or better than Nixon’s Carolina pulled pork barbecue we’ll probably do a couple of those too.

Also managed to get a little stargazing into the picture. Here in the northeast it’s damned near impossible to see anything because there is so much light pollution. A pox upon the politicians and developers who thought uplighting was cool.

But down in Gum Neck there’s but one or two street lights as the community doesn’t pay for them, you do. Interesting concept. But it means the skies are clearly visible if there isn’t serious cloud cover and this week proved fortuitous.

For example, here is Orion with all it’s stars:

Orion

So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the last nine days now you know.