Friday, January 31, 2014

Food Friday: Frittata with potatoes, ham, peppers, and feta cheese

Another cold Sunday rolled around and it was time to find something to eat.  So I went through the pantry to see what I had. I had eggs. I always have eggs.  I had some potatoes, cheese, some ham.  My initial thought was to make the fried potatoes scrambled egg thingy, but then I decided to try my hand at a frittata.  I had never made one before but I had recently watched a cooking show were the chef made one.

Ingredients:

  • Four eggs whisked
  • About 1/3 cup chopped peppers
  • 1/4 cup shredded ham
  • 1/2 cup shredded red potatoes
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350. A frittata is basically a baked egg pie.  I worried that the twenty minutes in the oven wouldn't be enough to cook the potatoes and I hate undercooked potatoes.  So I took the shredded potatoes and dumped them in a cast iron skillet with oil, salt and pepper.  They cooked for about five minutes.


I then let the pan and the potatoes cool for a few minutes. I didn't want them to start cooking the eggs before I had them in the oven.  I mixed all the ingredients together dumped them in the  cast iron skillet and into the oven the whole creation went.



Twenty minutes later I had a frittata.



It was ok if not great.  I would say with a few other things, some toast or fruit, this makes enough for two people.  By my lonesome I only managed to eat 3/4 of it.  I also learned frittatas do not reheat in the microwave well, so I ended up throwing the uneaten part out.  Next time I'll just use three eggs and cut everything by a quarter.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It's So Cold...

HOW COLD IS IT?



As most of you may be aware we are experiencing some really cold temps here in North America.  Temperatures have been below 0F for days on end with windchills (what it actually feels like) dipping to -30F/-34C.  Needless to say(though I am going to say it anyway) it has not been pleasant out.

Take this mornings drive to work as an example.  Note: I don't have a garage. Not only were the windows frosted over on the outside but there was also ice on the inside.  At less than three years old I would assume my car would have no trouble starting. I turned the key and the starter motor made a low ru ru ru sound.  Luckily after a few seconds it roared, well as  much as a Ford Fiesta engine can roar, into life. The gear shift felt like it was moving through molasses the fluid was that thickened. The number one thing that blew my mind though was the LCD display panel. LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display ie, there is liquid in there.  The display changed very slowly.  I tried to get some video of it.





And this was after the car ran  for a couple of minutes.  Imagine what it was like when it first started.

I am usually a big fan of winter and snow but I am so done with this one.  I think it is time for me to take up my Dad's yearly mantra of: Next winter I won't live here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Music Monday: Jimi King's Top 30 smooth Jazz songs of 2013

I have to come out. I am a fan of smooth jazz. Or smoothies as we call ourselves during our basement meetings were under dim lights we listen to secret copies of Oli Silk.  Almost everyday I listen to smoothjazz24/7.  It does a great job of annoying my coworkers.

Jimi King, well known in smooth jazz circles, runs the station and recently put together his list of the top thirty smooth jazz songs for 2013.  I made a spotify playlist of the thirty songs from #30-#2. That's correct #2. For some reason US spotify doesn't have the #1 song.   So I've embedded a youtube version of it below the spotify playlist.  Note the songs go from #30 to #2.  Chanps Elysees is number #30




Sunday, January 19, 2014

Stagnant in a world of wanderers

It seems that in the modern world everybody spends their lives on the move. People move from job to job, place to place, and in many cases relationship to relationship.  I don't move much.

I follow the blog of a twenty something who in four years has lived in three different countries, wandered aimlessly around the world for six months, and held about eight different jobs during that time. This behavior isn't only the purview of the twenty somethings. I have another online friend who has moved and changed careers three times since turning forty.

I on the other hand have lived in the exact same town (technically it is three towns joined together) for the last thirteen years.  Post graduation I have worked in the same industry. I have now lived in the exact same apartment for five years.  This would make sense if I was married with children.  My town is a great place to raise a family.  But alas that never happened. Perhaps my stagnation explains why every time I visit a new City or Country while traveling, I want to move there. Whether LA, Rome, London, Paris, after a trip I daydream of living in that place. Often I fantasize about mundane lives in these places.  What would it be like to be a bartender on the Cote d'Azur.  I'd clean and lock up the bar and then head home through the ancient streets at three in the morning. You would think I would fantasize about being a famous actor or rich gambler.  Nope I am a taxi driver in Paris or a programmer in London. 


Sunday, January 12, 2014

My New Years Post

The in thing this New Year is not making resolutions.  I am joining in the moratorium. But this doesn't mean I am just going to let 2014 slide by. I am quite sick of just floating about with no intention.  2013 all life seemed to be on hold and nothing changed for the positive.  I do have hopes and intentions for this coming year.  I am going to lay them out in three questions I will answer on December 31st 2014. How do I feel about 2014? How am I a different person after 2014? What did I accomplish in 2014?  Much of this comes from a self-help/life coaching thing a friend of mine helped me through.

How do I feel about 2014?

  • Content with what happened
  • Glad to have lived it
  • Willing to move onto 2015
  • satisfied with the decisions I made

How am I a different person after 2014?

  • I am fitter and healthier
  • I think more about how my actions affect me and others
  • I follow through on what I plan to do 

What did I accomplish in 2014?

  • I got out of credit card debt
  • I wrote a bunch
  • I will have learned some of a new language

Friday, January 10, 2014

Food Friday: Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Earlier this week as Wintermageddon2014(tm) descended on me I knew I would need some good winter food to see me through.  I searched through my pantry and came up with enough stuff to put together a passable beef stew.  Even better I could make it in the slow cooker which makes the whole process really easy.



Ingredients: 


  • About 1lb of cubed beef (It can be pretty cheap because the hours in the slow cooker will make it tender)
  • a cup of chopped carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 16 oz of tomato sauce (I usually use tomato juice but didn't have any)
  • 26 oz beef stock
  • Some randoms peppers that were about to go bad
  • cup and half of potatoes cut into large chunks
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
What I wish I had but didn't

  • Some mushrooms
  • noodles

Preparation: 




Easy peasy, chop up the carrots, potatoes, and peppers.  Then just toss everything into the toss everything into the slow cooker. If there isn't enough liquid to cover just add water.  Put the slow cooker on low and just walk away for eight or nine hours. You gotta love that slow cooker ease of use.

Results:

Like usual I forgot to get a picture of the final product, but it was delicious.  And like most soups and stews it got better over the next couple of days.  The stew can last three days in the fridge or be frozen for several months of storage but with it cold and snowy in nowhere Illinois, mine didn't last.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Special Report: WINTERMAGEDDON2014


No Music Monday this week. Instead you get a special report from our news desk: WINTERMAGEDDON2014!!



The first inklings of the horror to come, came when I was told the expected high for the next Monday was 0. Then came the news of a snowstorm before the arctic temperatures.  As the weekend drew closer the forecast grew more dire. The expected snow amounts increased 2 - 4 inches, 4-6, 8-12 and the expected high for Monday went down and down 0 , -4, -9, -10.  I being hearty midwestern stock didn't worry. Though I did have to cancel a trip up to my parents.

The Saturday before WINTERMAGEDDON2014 dawned nice and warm.  The temperature lingered above freezing most of the day.  I enjoyed the pleasant day by going to my second home, Buffalo Wild Wings and watching the nfl playoffs. On the way home I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things I needed to complete my slow cooker beef stew (Food Friday post coming).  You would have thought the world was ending.  I could best describe the place as a madhouse. People ran through the aisles filling their carts with almost anything. I saw people paralyzed with confusion. They would pick up an item from the shelf, stare at it like they had no idea what it was, and then move onto another item. I laughed to myself.  I thought "you probably will be able to order a pizza tomorrow."  I went home and snugged myself into bed expecting to wake up to snowmageddon.

Sunday I woke up and rushed to the window like it was Christmas morning. Disappointment set in. Barely an inch of snow cover the ground and it wasn't even snowing.  Stupid weather people had been wrong again. It started snowing again but not too badly.  Boredom grew as I sat at home and I decided it was the playoffs and I would go to Buffalo Wild Wings snow or no snow. The streets were all plowed, the mini mall parking lots was cleared.  Many people were out shopping.  I had made a good decision I thought to myself.  And yes the Pizza Hut was open and delivering.

Buffalo Wild Wings was open. At first I sat alone but soon more and more people started coming in.  We ended with a pretty good crowd of almost thirty people. As the customer count grew the weather got worse. My twitter feed filled with reports of impassable roads and accidents.  At one point a Subaru got stuck in a snow drift outside the BWW and some toughened people went out to help dig him out.  It took almost thirty minutes but finally triumphantly, the rescuers returned with the driver to celebrate their victory. We greeted them with a round of applause. We formed a tight band of refugees. It did not matter whether you were a Bears fan, or Packer fan, or even the few 49rs fans who were there.  We surmised that if we ended up trapped it wouldn't be a bad way to spend a night. We had food, a billion tvs, and some benches to sleep on. They had officially closed but let us stay till the end of the game. Worried by the report that they had stopped plowing because the roads had gotten to dangerous I set out home. I trecked home easily. First off I only live like two blocks away so it wasn't far.  Secondly the streets were all cleared and plowed. Once home I covered the windows with sheets and ate my beef stew. Many others were not so lucky.  Before I went to bed I read that 100 semis were stranded.

They predicted correctly about the temperature.  When I woke up this morning my thermometer read -12.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

A New Year and a new plan


Any readers left from my old blog might remember several years ago when I tried to live on $100 for a month.  Well to kick off my year of fiscal responsibility and freeing myself from credit card debt I am doing it again this January. What does living on $100 mean? What will I be paying for?  Obviously, rent and other standard reoccurring bills (mobile phone etc) do not count against the $100. Out of the amount I have to pay for food, entertainment, gas etc.

Just like last year I will be cheating.  I have a bunch of gift cards I got for Christmas. I filled up with gas on the 31st and I have a nice stack of video games to play for entertainment.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

A little birdie told me that the Slackers Guide to Life project might just be restarted.  Stay tuned to this space for more info.