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Bread (The Food Not The Band)

Posted on Monday, January 7th, 2019

Dave!I can pinpoint when my love affair with bread began... Elementary School. The cafeteria had these amazing rolls that defy description. But I'll try for you. They were dense without being heavy. They were drenched in butter for fantastic flavor. They were everything I love about bread. You used to be able to buy extras for a quarter. I bought a ridiculous amount of them. I even took them home for my mom because they were just that good.

Then I graduated to Middle School and that was the end of it. I never had them again, though I would often think back to those heady days of breaded bliss.

I'd eat a lot more bread over the years, of course, but none of it quite compared.

Then one day at a family holiday dinner, my sister-friend's mother-in-law brought homemade garlic bread. And there is was... the bread I had been missing for decades was on my plate.

Naturally I was immediately obsessed. Turns out it's a sourdough hybrid that uses both sourdough starter and yeast to rise. This means you can get good flour density without being heavy like a brick. And it wasn't sour despite having sourdough in it. I ended up taking a jar of sourdough starter home with me so I could make my own. For years I rarely bought bread, I made my own.

Then tragedy struck.

When I moved to my new place, I accidentally left my starter out in my car for a week. I thought it would be fine since it was winter, but when I finally remembered it, the poor thing was in pretty bad shape. I could never get it to rebound, and eventually it developed a reddish-pinkish hue and had to be thrown out.

My life was in turmoil back then, so it was easier to just buy bread, and I forgot about making it.

But then it was served at Christmas dinner last month and I fell in love all over again. I was given another jar of starter and have been making my own bread again ever since...

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

So good.

Lately I've been experimenting with the amount of flour I add. More flour results in denser bread that's not too dry, if you don't overdo it. Less flour results in a higher rise, when you want flakier bread or use it to make cinnamon rolls.

And this time I promise to take good care of my starter so he won't ever go pink again.

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Categories: Food 2019Click To It: Permalink  3 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Potato Chip Hauntings

Posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Dave!Lay's potato chips were on sale at the grocery store so I bought a couple bags. And while I love them plain right out of the bag, I was craving the chip dip that my mom used to make. It was the same dip that my grandmother used to make. I think she got the recipe from the mother of one of my mom's friends. Since both my mom and grandma are gone now, I guess I'll never know for sure where it came from. One of a million things I should have asked about but never did.

Here's the base recipe...

  • 8oz. cream cheese brick, softened.
  • Two heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise.
  • Splash of lemon juice.
  • Garlic powder to taste.

It's good just like that, but there are optional add-ins if you're wanting something more exciting...

  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce (for non-vegetarians).
  • Two heaping tablespoons of sour cream.
  • Ground pepper to taste.
  • Cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Minced garlic to taste.
  • Dash of hot sauce.
  • Chopped scallions (or chives) and paprika as a topper.

   
Tonight I just made the base recipe with a little cayenne. It was exactly what I needed.

And everything I didn't.

It's been seven months since my mom died and there's always something there to remind me that she's gone. If it's not the pictures of her on the wall or cream cheese dip, it's something else.

Everything else.

There doesn't have to be a ghost for you to be haunted. All it took for me was a bag of chips.

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Categories: DaveLife 2019, Food 2019Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Bullet Sunday 502

Posted on Sunday, March 10th, 2019

Dave!Stop worrying your pretty little head over whether Spring is here or not here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Free! As I've mentioned more than a few times on this blog, I'm a huge fan of Alex Honnold. He's a world-famous free solo rock climber who recently rocketed into the limelight because of the Oscar-winning documentary film Free Solo (sadly, I didn't get to see it in IMAX like I wanted to, and ended up renting it). I first heard of the guy in 2007 or 2008 after he free soloed Yosemite. At first I thought he was a lunatic with a death-wish, but after reading numerous interviews over the years, I found him to be one of the most philosophical, funny, genuine people on the face of the planet. And the most talented athlete on earth...

If you haven't seen free Solo yet, it's absolutely worth your time. It's an amazing film that changed my perception of Honnold yet again. But if you want to see Alex being the Alex that I became obsessed over the past decade, here he is (watch to the end, because it gets better as it goes on)...

It used to be that every year on Christmas as a part of my "End-of-Year Checklist" I would Google Alex to see if he was still alive. Now that he's so incredibly famous, I don't have to. If something were to happen to him I'm sure the entire world would know.

   
• Zero Stars! When I had to start eliminating carbs, the transition from "regular" to "sugar-free" sodas was a tough leap to make. What made it easier was Coke Zero, which is far and away my favorite carb-free pop (followed by Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet A&W Root Beer, and Sunkist Orange). One of my favorite sodas, Stewart's Orange Cream, has no diet equivalent... which is why I was thrilled to see "Coke Zero Orange Vanilla" at my local Safeway...

Coke Orange Vanilla

Holy shit what a horrendous load of toxic sludge! It tastes nothing like an orange cream soda, but instead tastes like an extremely artificial vanilla cola with a weird orange aftertaste. Really gross, which is why I am mad I bought an entire 12-pack. Looks like I need to investigate adding a hint of vanilla to Sunkist Diet Orange Soda to see if I can get what I'm looking for.

   
• Life! Ricky Gervais is one of the most brilliant minds in entertainment, and I'm always looking forward to what he's doing next. Turns out it's the Netflix series After Life, and it's one of my favorite things he's done thus far...

The show has a rocky start because his character is pretty awful. But the 6-episode series is a journey that ends in a very different place, and it's a worthwhile trip to take. With all the horrors I've been facing these past couple years, it's nice to run across something that is saying exactly what I need to hear. Highly recommended.

   
• Stick! One of my favorite kitchen brands is OXO Good Grips. I ended up replacing almost all my bakeware with their stuff and was happy with that... at first. Then I found out that my "non-stick pizza pan" can't even cook biscuits without them sticking like cement...

Non Stick Sticking on OXO Good Grips

Even worse? The bread pans and jelly roll pan are rusting under the folded edges. And so... I guess OXO Good Grips is no longer my favorite kitchen brand. Really sad that I wasted my money on this garbage.

   
• Billions and Billions! Wealth inequality is something that I don't really think about because there's nothing I can do about it. Obscenely wealthy people own this country and get to decide how things are going to be. The fact that what they decide inevitably benefits only them (and their pocketbook) regardless of how it screws the rest of us... or the environment... or whatever else is in their way, is just our sad reality. Which is why shit like this is so unsurprising...

Thinking that these horrible people will ever have to pay for the lives they've destroyed is laughable.

   
And, on that note, I guess we're out of bullets...

   

How Now Tasty Bao?

Posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Dave!Last night I headed to South Coast Plaza to bask in all the things I will never be able to afford to buy. It always amazes me how some of these high-end stores have like... a mere fifty items for sale... yet manage to pay the obscene money that the rent must cost. Until I realize that selling just two $8000 purses a week means that a store would clear $64,000 a month. Then it all suddenly makes sense.

Easter is a big to-do at the mall. They decorated up an entire wing to be Springtime fantasy town in America...

Easter at Costa Mesa Mall

Where you can get your kid's photo taken with a creepy robotic Easter bunny...

Easter Bunny at Costa Mesa Mall

For the adults? Pieces by the late, great Alexander McQueen were on display...

Alexander McQueen Display

So... fun for all ages then!

The first thing I did was buy two-and-one-quarter glorious pounds of something I could afford... California Crunch at See's...

See's Candies California Crunch

"Would you like them wrapped?

"Please! Lord, yes! If you don't wrap them, they'll never make it home."

The second thing I did was head to The Apple Store.

=sigh=

I desperately need a new laptop. It's literally the only tool I need in order to work while I travel. I went to the Apple Store to once again take a look at their MacBook Pro, thinking maybe I was being too critical in my previous assessments. So I start typing on one. Again. Which I find almost impossible... it's so uncomfortable, and I'm making more spelling errors than I'm spelling words correctly. So I ask the Apple sales guy "Do you ever get used to the keyboard? Does it ever start feeling normal?" His response? "I don't know that you ever really get used to it... it's more like you adapt to it..."

And so I walked out buying nothing.

There was a time that I was such an Apple whore that I bought shit just because it had the Apple logo on it. Now I have grown to loathe the company and their shitty products so much that I don't even know what to do with my rage. The Apple Developers Conference is coming up. If they are going to announce a new MacBook Pro, that will be the time. Will it have a keyboard you can actually type on? Who knows? If not, I guess I see if I can repair my SEVEN YEAR OLD MACBOOK, which is far superior to anything Apple currently has for sale.

Oh well.

The third thing I did was meet up with Jordan Ninja, Atomic Bombshell, and family, for dinner at Din Tai Fung. This is an amazing dumpling restaurant that has all kinds of amazing dishes on the menu. It also has a statue of Bao in the lobby!

Bao Dumpling Statue at Din Tai Fung

If you don't know Bao, it's an amazing Pixar Short cartoon...

Needless to say, I ate entirely too much.

And because I never learn my lesson, I decided to eat entirely too much at lunch today as well.

At the recommendation of Jordan Ninja and Atomic Bombshell, I decided I wanted to visit France while in Orange County because I am a fanatic over French pastries. 15 minutes walk from my hotel is a French cafe called Moulin, which has a beautiful display of pastries to drool over...

Moulin Pastries

This place is pretty amazing. I am a sucker for a good cream puff, so I ordered a "St. Honoré." Apparently my pronunciation was accurate enough that the woman behind the counter assumed I spoke French. Everything tastes eerily authentic. Down to the taste of the flour and the way the cream reacts when you cut through it. And, because I am a glutton for punishment, I got a croissant as well...

Moulin Pastries

And now... I'm close to exploding.

Good thing I'm on my way home before I can do any further culinary damage.

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Categories: Food 2019, Travel 2019Click To It: Permalink  5 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Perfect Home Pub Fries

Posted on Friday, April 19th, 2019

Dave!I am beyond exhausted. Taking care of Jake as he recovers from his fall is a full-time job. A big chunk of my day is spent trying to make sure he doesn't have to exert himself. Whenever I see him hobble up to something and look like he's going to jump up, I go running to lift him up instead.

Day and night.

When what I really need to be doing is working.

Though today I did end up taking time to make some greasy pub fries, which are my favorite thing to eat right now. Last week I documented my efforts so I could blog about it, but then travel happened and Jake happened, so I never got around to it.

Anyway...

I Love fries.

Problem is that here in the USA they usually suck. Either they're undercooked and not crispy... or they've been sitting for too long... or they have no flavor... or they're entirely too salty. Way too many things go wrong, and they usually do.

My favorite fries are from the Netherlands. They really know how to cook a potato! Most places in Europe do. And they're usually cooked-to-order, so they always taste their best.

But here? Not so much. And so... last Summer I started making my own fries. Here's what I've found makes the best fries after dozens of batches and months of trial and error...

  • Russet potatoes. Nothing cooks up like them. No other potato I've tried works as well. And I've tried a LOT of potatoes.
  • After slicing, a vigorous rinse in cold water is essential. Agitate them with your hands as the water runs over them.
  • Soak for three hours in ice water in the refrigerator. Most recipes say overnight. I found no benefit to that, and three hours is perfect...

Making Home Pub Fries

  • Fry in small batches so the oil doesn't cool off too much when you add the potatoes.
  • When you pre-fry for 5 minutes at 300°, USE A THERMOMETER TO CONFIRM 300°! Any hotter and you will brown them, which is bad. After blanching, drain on brown paper bags (preferred because they don't sick as bad) or paper towels in an oven set no higher than 300°...

Making Home Pub Fries

  • Increase temperature of the oil to minimum 375°. Though 400° is better if your fryer can go that high. Cook until desired golden brown. I prefer a dark golden because the flavor is better...

Making Home Pub Fries

Making Home Pub Fries

  • Salt and pepper are essential. A dash of paprika is nice. BUT DON'T OVER-SEASON! You don't want to kill the flavor of the potato! If you like a spicier fry, use seasoning salt or hot pepper salt. But, again, don't over-season! The potato flavor will be buried...

Making Home Pub Fries

  • With the skins on, the flavor is so nice that you don't really need sauce... but mayo/ketchup is great!
  • You need more potatoes than you think. Two large russets per person. Or three if you are having me over to dinner.
  • Enjoy!

As for oil... I just use the cheapest vegetable oil I can find. I cook with it 3 or 4 times until the refuse accumulation is too high. They recommend that you dispose of the oil in a milk carton. I don't drink milk, so I let it cool completely, pour into a bowl, freeze, then scoop into the trash before I take it out.

And there you have it! Perfect fries you can make at home!

And now it's back to taking care of my poor cat.

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Categories: Cats 2019, Food 2019Click To It: Permalink  3 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Bullet Sunday 509

Posted on Sunday, April 28th, 2019

Dave!I don't mind my allergies splitting my head apart thanks to everything in the valley blooming at the same time... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Thrones! I may be in the minority here, but I felt that the majority of the latest episode, The Battle of Winterfell, was embarrassingly bad. Everything was filmed so dark that it was almost impossible to see what was happening. Even worse, much of the action was shot way too close, so even if you could see what was happening, you couldn't tell what was going on anyway. They literally could have just skipped most of the episode, had somebody summarize what happened in two minutes, and the result would have been practically the same for me. Disappointing. Though I'll be the first to say that the ending was exactly what I wanted to see. w00t!

   
• Trek V2. The CGI effect upgrades they gave to old Star Trek episodes back in 2006 are pretty great. Definitely helps then to hold up for modern audiences. Recently I was watching Tomorrow is Yesterday for the hundredth time and found myself forgetting what the old effects looked like. So I looked it up on YouTube and found this...

Right off the bat I found something surprising...

Tomorrow Is Yesterday Opening Title

ZOMG! PLEASE NOTE THAT THEY REVISED THEIR VIEW OF THE PLANET BECAUSE IN THE FUTURE THEY KNOW THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT!!!

Funneh.

   
• Vegetarianism Fail. When I first became a vegetarian back in 1986, eating out was a challenge. Pretty much all you could do was ask for a grilled cheese or try to find a salad without meat on it. Now-a-days it's so much easier. Except at my local "V.I.P." theater. Their big "thing" is wraps. They've got quit an assortment of them. Every last one of them with meat on it. Even the "Veggie Extreme" is SO EXTREME that it has chicken on it! Baller!

Extreme Veggie Wrap... WITH CHICKEN!

Since they didn't have a vegetarian option, I asked if they can substitute avocado for the chicken. Nope! But they can leave the chicken off and charge me $1.25 for avocado though! Fuckers. If you're not going to have a vegetarian-friendly option, at least allow a reasonable substitution!

And so... French fries it is. Except... it literally took them THREE TRIES to deliver my fries. They'd walk in the theater. Wander up and down the aisle. Then leave. Then come back. And then... it was only because I FLAGGED THEM DOWN that they managed to find me, even though I had to give them my row number when I ordered! Needless to say, my fries were cold... not "unwarm" BUT FUCKING COLD... by the time I got them. Pathetic. Some "V.I.P." experience.

   
• You Spin Me! Most of the time I scan the episodes of Fallon, Myers, Corden, and Kimmel on my DVR for the guest, then delete as many as I can. The only reason I watch is if there's a guest I want to see. Like Paul Rudd. And his appearance on Fallon did not disappoint. Paul and Jimmy remade Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round...

For comparison's sake, here's the shot-for-shot next to the original...

Epic!

   
• Let Them Implode. Long ago, back before I started weaving Buddhist precepts into my Path of Life and gave up weapons of violence, I was proud to be a member of the National Rifle Association. This was back when they were dedicated to promoting gun safety and advocated for reasonable restrictions when it came to allowing people access to firearms ALONG WITH defending Second Amendment rights. Now that they are a corrupt organization in the pocket of gun manufacturers who prey on people with nothing but fear and lies, I fucking detest the NRA and everything they stand for. Nothing would make me happier than to have the entire organization be flushed down the toilet like the fucking pieces of shit that they are. And take NRA cheerleader Dana Loesch with you. She's fucking garbage too. Bring back the NRA whose principles were rooted in responsible, safe gun ownership. If we can't have that, then please let the whole fucking thing implode.

   
• Wall Chowder. Every time I have to listen to bullshit about President Trump's MASSIVELY EXPENSIVE WALL... all I can think of is how drones powerful enough and large enough TO CARRY A PERSON OVER THE WALL ARE CURRENTLY USED FOR CONSTRUCTION! And, like everything tech-related, they are just going to get cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Somebody in Mexico could buy a couple and earn a fortune FLYING PEOPLE OVER THE WALL. Make no mistake... Trump's wall is a stupid, STUPID, STUPID, FUCKING STUPID waste of money. Within 5 years it could be rendered obsolete. Or be obsolete within 10 minutes, considering tunneling under the fucking thing IS AS EASY AS DIGGING A FUCKING TUNNEL. And now I'm filled with rage. Again. Forget the horrendous damage to the environment and migrating species that will be severely impacted... WE CAN'T FUCKING AFFORD IT NOW THAT ALL OUR TAX REVENUE IS GOING TOWARDS TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY! Exactly how big of a fucking deficit do we need?

   
See you on the flip-side, bullet fans.

   

Tuesday is for Nachos

Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

Dave!Last night I took care of work, then met up with friends on their last night in Vegas so we could go out to a late dinner. We ended up walking to Fatburger, which was fine by me because they not only have a great Veggie Burger (Boca Burger patty) they are now selling Impossible Burgers too! Can you imagine? Not one, but two vegetarian choices? At a burger chain? It's like they think vegetarians are real people or something!

Today was all work all the time, but I did manage to get away for a late lunch at my beloved Nacho Daddy (complete with a Long Island because I just can't help myself)...

Nacho Daddy Nachos!

I prefer the location in Old Town at the end of Fremont, but The Strip location is also pretty great.

After that it was back to work. I thought I'd grab a quick cup of fray from Pinkberry at Crystal Shops but was shocked to find that it was CLOSED! When I asked about it, I was told that all three of the Pinkberry locations in Vegas are now gone, including the one at The Tropicana...

Pinkberry Vegas Closed!

Well that blows. I wonder if Pinkberry is in serious financial trouble or they just couldn't make a go of it in Vegas?

It was probably for the best, because I had dinner lined up with long-time blogging friend KC at Il Fornaio. Lucky me, they had the butternut squash ravioli at this location just like they do at the downtown Seattle restaurant...

Ravioli at Il Fornaio!

The walnuts inside were chunkier than what I'm used to, but it was still a pretty fantastic dinner.

After saying goodbye to KC, I decided to walk next door to the Park MGM so I could see the $550 million worth of renovations that got sunk into the hotel and casino from when they took over The Monte Carlo. It's nice, but not overly-extravagant. The lobby has a very cool wood structure in the ceiling that is supposed to look like tree roots or something. I'm not quite sure how they managed to cut-and-paste things together so seamlessly, but it's pretty nifty to look at...

The Lobby at the MGM Park Hotel

The Lobby at the MGM Park Hotel

The Monte Carlo was always kinda an enigma to me. They advertised as a luxury brand, but the hotel and casino never much lived up to it. Sure there was marble on the floors, high-end fixtures, and such, but it always felt dated to me. When I stayed there a couple years ago I didn't think the rooms were very luxurious, that's for sure. Now that the Park MGM has taken over, it seems as though things are back on track. It's a nice-looking property in the public spaces anyway.

I had read somewhere that Britney Spears was setting up residence in the Park MGM, but she was nowhere to be found. Instead, Bruno Mars was playing a show in their theater. No idea what that's about. Now that I think about it, I haven't heard much of anything about Britney for a while now.

And there's my last night in Vegas. Tomorrow morning I'm back at work until 10:30am, then off to the airport so I can fly out and drive back home to my cats in the afternoon. It's always tough to watch them wandering from room to room looking for me and coming up empty. Especially since Jake still has a bit of a limp yet.

Crossing my fingers for an easy day of travel...

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Wednesday is for Burger Breakfast

Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

Dave!I had to wake up fairly early this morning to check into work. Once I had some things handled, I had time for a leisurely shower and... surprise surprise... breakfast!

Beside myself with joy at the prospect of being able to actually have breakfast for once, I tried to think of what I wanted to eat. All that came into my head was the Fatburger I had when I arrived on Monday night. It was everything I could want in a meal. I thought I would look up Fatburger's hours to see if there was time to stop on my way to the airport.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only is Fatburger open 24/7... they are serving burgers all hours of the day and night!

Fatburger Veggie Burger for breakfast it was...

Fatburger Breakfast!

It was everything I dreamed it would be.

The weather has been really nice these past couple days. Warm and breezy, but not hot enough to be uncomfortable. It's almost enough to make me want to stay a couple more days. Almost.

This time around I'm staying at New York New York because it's where my friends were staying. It's also close enough to my work that I could walk instead of taking pricey taxis. It's a pretty nice hotel, even if the rooms are fairly basic. It certainly has my favorite skyline of all the Vegas Strip hotels...

New York New York Hotel in Las Vegas on a Sunny Day!

My room was in that light orange tower, fourth from the right. I was actually on the North side facing The Park... something I didn't know until I finally looked out the window this morning...

New York New York Coaster Out My Window!

Two things...

1) I kept hearing "wooshing" sounds and assumed it was the wind. Turns out it's the roller coaster. The occasional sounds of people screaming were not people whooping it up on The Strip... but people riding said coaster.

2) The Park MGM hotel used to be The Monte Carlo. At the very top there is a "hotel within a hotel" with luxury suites that used to be called "Hotel32." I note that now the "hotel within a hotel" has been renamed "NoMad." I've actually been up there when it was Hotel32 and it was pretty spectacular (seriously, Google for photos of it). I can't imagine what it must look like after the remodel.

   
And now I'm at the airport waiting to fly home. As if that wasn't good enough news, I was upgraded to First Class for the flight home (which is pretty cool considering I was upgraded to First on the way down too...

First Class Upgrade!

   
And now it's time to head home so I can drive home!

   

Thursday is for Shitty Sonic Fries

Posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Dave!It's not like I can say my life is boring... I have been lucky enough to travel the world, meet interesting people, and do really cool stuff... but when I'm not doing that my life is as mundane as it gets. Oftentimes I question why people read this blog* when most of the time all I've got going on in my life is cats.

Take today for example.

I woke up at 5:30am, which is about average. I then check my personal email, see what's happening with my East Coast Facebook peeps, then check my work email. At 7:00am Alexa alerts the cats that it's breakfast time, so we all go downstairs where I feed them. I then do household cleaning and chores until around 8:00am when I hop in the shower and get ready for work. I am usually out the door around 8:30-ish for my 7-minute walk to the office.

I try to be out of the office at 4:00 (today I left at 4:10) and walk back home.

Today there was some excitement when I spotted an old cat with patches of fur missing walking through several yards until it decided to rest on somebody's porch (no idea if that's where home is)...

Old Cat Taking a Walk!

Once I got home at 4:20, I worked until Alexa chimed for the cat's dinner at 6:00pm. Since I received a notice from Home Depot that my carpet squares had arrived, I decided to run to The Big City (20 minutes away) and pick them up. Afterwards I wanted to have fries for dinner, but was too tired to make them by hand. I was going to drive to McDonalds, but Sonic was closer so I went there.

Huge mistake.

I rarely go to Sonic because they don't have vegetarian options. I only go there when they are having an ice cream promo or some kind of drink special. I've never had their fries before. AND I WILL NEVER HAVE THEM AGAIN! Holy crap! They were not very fresh, barely warm... AND THEY WERE GUMMY! As in, you had to chew through their saggy, bleak texture in a way that is usually reserved for gummy bears. And then there's my OREO Sonic Blast (AKA a McFlurry). The first third of the cup was as expected. A good distribution of OREO pieces that were large enough that they tasted like OREO. The second third was just OREO crumbs. Just a dust, really. And the final third? NOTHING! NO OREO AT ALL!

OREO-Free OREO Blast from Sonic!

How the fuck did Sonic get to be "America's Drive-In?" Their half-assed food is a blight on the entire country!

Oh.

Never mind.

Anyway... I head home and immediately get to work carpeting my Cat Bannister Tray when I arrive around 7:10pm. The squares were way thin, but surprisingly nice considering how cheap they were. The good news is that I have lots of spares if my cats decide to destroy the ones I installed...

Carpeted Cat Banister Tray

And that was that.

At some point I'll build the cat-stairs up to it so it's safer for Jake and Jenny to get up there... add a shelf under the upper window so I won't go out of my mind with worry when Jenny leaps up there (nearly two full stories above the stairs below!)... and then my project will be completed. At least until I think of something else to add to it.

Around 7:40pm I threw a load of clothes in the wash then finished up a work project a little after 9:00pm.

Then it was clothes in the dryer, catching up on television, clothes out of the dryer, and I was in bed at 11:30pm so I can blog this then start it all over again tomorrow.

Thrilling, I know.

But hey, not every day can be an expedition to Antarctica.

   
*Yes, people actually do visit this blog. A lot. The interactivity I had from the heyday of blogging is long gone, but my wide variety of topics and daily updates means that Google sends scores of people here every day. Though it's not all search results... most days the number of people coming here directly is fairly substantial. No, I don't know why. You tell me!

   

Bullet Sunday 510

Posted on Sunday, May 5th, 2019

Dave!It's Cinco de Mayo! It's also great day to be alive... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Chewy! Peter Mayhew, most famous for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies passed away this week. He sounded like a wonderful, generous man...

Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca!

Rest in peace, sir. You crafted a character that captured my imagination and made me love a walking carpet.

   
• Mattress Wars! This is some shady shit right here...

I never trust online review sites. I rarely trust reviews on any site. Unless it's coming from somebody I know and/or trust, it's just bullshit noise. And yet... I still read them in an attempt to be informed as to my purchases. =shrugs=.

   
• Boca? Last year Kraft abandoned their Original Boca Burgers and Vegan Boca Burgers. They instead came out with a new "Boca Burger" which is nothing like the original despite still saying "original" on the box. It tastes like shit. The Vegan burger was discontinued entirely. Recently on their Facebook page, they unleashed this steaming pile of bullshit...

Our consumers told us that their experiences with our vegan burger were better represented by a turkey burger. With this new insight, we renovated our vegan burger to better deliver on taste, texture, and flavor under the new “Turk’y Burger” banner.

Vegans no longer want a vegan burger, they want a turkey-tasting burger? Yeah that sounds like it totally happened. Now that Kraft has completely abandoned all the things people loved about the Original and Vegan Boca Burgers, hopefully some other company will step in and make an ACTUAL Original Boca-inspired burger that people actually want to eat. Personally, I think Kraft is run by lying pieces of shit who just wanted to make a cheaper burger, didn't give a crap if it tasted nothing like a Boca Burger, then decided to sell it with outrageous levels of lying. Whatever. Not buying it. Go fuck yourself, Kraft. Why buy Boca Burger if you weren't interested in making Boca Burgers?

   
• Chalk! I ran across this video on chalk, of all things, and found it more interesting than I thought I could...

I haven't used a chalkboard for decades. But after watching this? I have an overwhelming desire to get me some Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk and write on one! Probably cost me $5 to buy a stick, but apparently it's an experience that needs to be had.

   
• Deep Sky! I've professed my love of all things GigaPan more than a couple times. But now they've got something really interesting going on. They've combined thousands of photos from a tiny area of sky about the size of the moon in the sky. The result? A Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!

This is so cool...

Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!

And zoom...

Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!

And zoom...

Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!

Yeah, you'll want to head over to the GigaPan site to play with this yourself. It is positively astounding the number of galaxies that can be found in such a small section of our sky. Google says that the average number of stars in a galaxy is 250 billion ± 150 billion.

   
• Follow the Money! Veronica Mars is one of my favorite television shows of all time, which is why it's so great that it's getting revisited. First with a movie... now with a new series from Hulu...

Here's hoping that it's the first of many new seasons!

   
• Boo Pricing! Recently Hulu lowered their prices. Apparently they understand that with so much new streaming competition that they need to be competitive. Netflix, on the other hand, is taking the opposite tact. Recently when I visited their site I was forced to accept their new pricing before they would even let me access the content that I pay for...

Netflix Price Increase!

Well... let's see... Netflix has canceled all the Marvel shows (the reason I signed up in the first place), so I suppose this is where I tell them to take their price increase and go fuck themselves with it. Except... they do add a comedy special I enjoy from time to time. So I guess my solution will be to drop the service, then pick it up for a month a couple times a year. Maybe if everybody does this, they'll get the fucking message. Because, sure, I love having original content (when it's good) but there's a limit as to how much I can afford to spend on it.

   
• Thrones! The first part of this episode was exactly what it needed to be... the calm before the storm. And then the storm began. And while the result of the initial encounter was tragic and earlier than expected, it WAS expected. There are a list of things that really must happen before the story ends. And we're almost there. So now it's all about the unknowns. There's things you'd like to happen. Things you'd hate to happen. Things that, hopefully, unexpectedly happen. And two episodes left for it all to happen in. Hopefully in way that makes sense, which the back-end of this episode really did not. Does nobody ride ahead and make sure that your way is safe any more? Insanity.

   
• It's Not Me It's You! Last Sunday HBO unleashed an episode of Game of Thrones that took 55 nights to film. It was a massive battle that had been building for years, and was an epic sight to behold. At least it would have been had they not filmed it so fucking dark that you couldn't see a damn thing. It was a horrific mess. Even when there was light enough to see something, they filmed it so close that you still couldn't tell what was going on. Needless to say, a lot of fans were extremely pissed off. Now the cinematographer for the episode said that It's not Me, It's Your TV Settings. Which is a load of shit, of course. I have a high-end 4K television and a fiber internet connection. I black out my entire living room when watching. This is NOT my fucking fault... or that of my internet... or that of my television... or that of my viewing environment.

Thrones Too Dark!

The cinematographer's job was to create media which could be displayed and understood in the way that people would be consuming it. Namely, streaming over the internet with compression, limited gamut, and a normal television. Not in an idealized fantasy theater with Blu-Ray 4K Ultra HD signal and a $15,000 OLED TV. Which means he completely, utterly, and totally failed to do his job. And fuck him for saying otherwise. My hope is that HBO will listen to their customers and spend the money to re-key the lighting, then rebroadcast it so people can actually see the shit. If not? Fuck them too.

   
And that's all he wrote for bullets this week. Tune in next week when I'll try to find more to complain about!

   

Death by Pasta

Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Dave!My favorite cuisine by a wide margin is Italian. So many vegetarian dishes, and almost all of them are amazing. From pasta to pizza, I could eat Italian day after day and never grow tired of it.

Until I actually eat Italian day after day and grow tired of it.

Several months ago I became obsessed with developing the perfect Cacio e Pepe recipe. Italian for "Cheese and Pepper," this is the Official Pasta Dish of The City of Rome and I've been hooked on it since I first had it there back in 2000. It's a deceptively simple dish because it has only three ingredients... pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, and freshly ground pepper. But, in reality, it's tough to get it right.

The first mistake I made was following recipes from popular cooking sites that added all kinds of extra ingredients like butter, cream, or cheeses other than Pecorino Romano. I'd try recipe after recipe and get frustrated because it tasted nothing like what I had experienced in Rome. Eventually I found out why... just like with "Americanized" Fettuccine Alfredo, we fuck it up by adding extra shit that ruins the intended taste.

The second mistake I made was using spaghetti noodles. This is actually not terrible... I've eaten it in Rome made with spaghetti noodles. But, unlike an Italian chef, I cannot get consistent results. What you want are tonnarelli noodles, which are essentially "spaghetti alla chimaera" or "square spaghetti." Since tonnarelli doesn't have the edges rounded off, the noodle has more heft and doesn't cool quite as quickly. This pasta can be difficult to find in smaller markets, which is why I almost always end up using linguine (No. 7) noodles, and they work perfectly.

The third mistake I made was not using fine enough grate on my cheese. You must use the finest grate you have... the cheese should be almost a powder, not shreds.

The fourth mistake I made was not so much a mistake as it was a lesson. I was using plain old peppercorns right from the jar. Ideally you want the larger sized peppercorns (called tellichery) that you toast fresh before grinding. The larger peppercorns are less spicy, but more aromatic, and giving them a toasting before use helps bring out the flavor.

Once all that is handled correctly, you've pretty much won the battle.

After dropping my pasta into water which has come to a full-boil (a little salt is fine, but no oil) I blend the finely grated Pecorino Romano with a little bit of ice water to form a paste.

When the pasta is almost done being cooked to al dente (7 minutes for me), you take some of the hot, hot, boiling-hot pasta water and mix it with the above paste until you get a creamy sauce. The starch from the pasta water along with the heat has weird emulsive properties and you absolutely DO NOT need to add cream.

From there I wait for the pasta to finish cooking properly (an additional 2 minutes or 9 minutes total for me), then quickly drain, toss with the cheese sauce, add freshly-ground pepper (a bit coarse is better), then top with shredded cheese (shredded on top is fine... inside you want it almost powdered).

Amazing.

I like a lot of cheese on my pasta. Like, a lot of cheese. Pecorino Romano has more of a punch to it than Parmigiano-Reggiano, so using a lot of it can be a bit overwhelming. In recent years I've taken to making the same recipe as above, but substituting the Parmigiano-Reggiano so I can use extra and maintain the flavor profile I'm looking for. I also like my Cacio e Pepe to be a bit on the dry-side (too wet and it doesn't stick as easily to the noodles) so I use less pasta water than what is authentic.

After finally getting the perfect recipe, I found that I had been eating so much of it that I was sick of the stuff. Then last night I was suddenly craving it again, and this was the result...

Cacio e Pepe Pasta Dinner!

Delicious. Except... there's at least 150 fat calories and 50g of carbs right there.

This is not a healthy dish.But it is tasty. My all-time favorite pasta, as a matter of fact (a close second is Fettuccine Alfredo, which can be constructed similarly to the above, except you use thinly-shaved egg noodles instead of tonnarelli and butter instead of pasta water).

Boy... it's going to take a lot of will-power to not have this for dinner again tonight.

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Bullet Sunday 513

Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

Dave!The summer heat has arrived, but it's cool here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Mufasa! I'm mostly indifferent to all these Disney live-action remakes, having taken a pass on Dumbo, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, and the rest. The exception being The Jungle Book, which was exceptional. And now there's another I will absolutely be tuning into... The Lion King. I mean, just look at this screen grab...

Simba and Zazu from The Lion King!

The teaser trailer sure looks great...

And, the icing on the cake? Disney wisely got James Earl Jones to reprise the role of Mufasa...

Simba and Zazu from The Lion King!

While nothing could ever replace really good animation for me, really good CGI can also be fun.

   
• Fake! I don't know what's more impressive. Bill Heder's incredible impersonations... or the "Deep Fake" technology that puts their faces over his...

I'm going to go with "both" on this.

   
• Codex! One of the highlights of my visit to Milan, Italy was a visit to Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Library of Ambrose) so I could view pages from the Codex Atlanticus, a collection of works and writings by Leonardo DaVinci. Much to my surprise, they've now put this master work online, which you can look at here. It's pretty spectacular stuff...

Codex Atlanticus Online!

Codex Atlanticus Online!

Codex Atlanticus Online!

All too easy to lose a lot of time exploring.

   
• Cracker! Remember the good old days when you wanted to eat crackers in bed... AND THE FUCKING PACKAGE WOULD ACTUALLY OPEN AT THE SEAMS INSTEAD OF YOU HAVING TO RIP INTO IT LIKE AN ANIMAL?!?

Stupid Saltine Cracker Package Won't Open!

So stupid. How difficult is it to go back to packaging that actually opens, PREMIUM BRAND SALTINE CRACKERS?

   
• Burnt! I guess the money for all those golf trips has to come from somewhere. But cutting wildland firefighting jobs ahead of fire seasons that just continue to get worse and worse is insanity. Guess this country is literally going to go down in flames.

   
• Once More For the People in the Back! I've posted this before. It can't be shared enough...

I keep seeing misinformation as to how tax brackets work over and over and over and over again. I can't believe that there are people who don't get it.

   
And that's a wrap. if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, don't overheat!

   

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