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Sunday, July 29, 2012

My 10-yr

That was about the lamest lame to ever lame. I don't know, maybe my expectations were too high, but honestly, for $40, I expected much more. I think we could have done without the waiters passing around "fancy" appetizers (salmon mousse in a cucumber? Okay.) The place was sparsely decorated with South Kitsap Wolves memorabilia, and the appetizer buffet left a lot to be desired.


There were decorated cupcakes with our logo in fondant etc, which were cute. I'll give 'em that. I'm sure those weren't cheap to make. But the appetizer buffet, seen in the pic above (for about 100 people?) was pathetic. It was slices of cold pastrami/roast beef, with olives and what looked like fillings for a fajita (mushrooms, peppers, onions) but nothing to put them on besides these bite-size pieces of sourdough.

Yes I know, you're probably thinking "reunions are about the people, not the food!". But in all honesty, you could hang out with these people any time. We all found each other on the "South Kitsap Reunion O'Two" FB page to get the invites etc, so it's not like they're out of contact. Reunions aren't the same as in the old days - Facebook made sure of that. The whole thing was coordinated and planned through it. The turn out was still lame, however. 100 people is nothing compared to our graduating class of over 600. And in actuality, there were 900 seniors. I mean, sure, the point of the reunion is to meet up again. But we could have done that without the $40 surcharge. A cheaper rental location for one.

We had a DJ at least. And the fact that 90% of the music played being from the 90's was a nice novelty at first, but then it was mostly rolling of the eyes after that. Hardly anybody danced. Once they got liquored up (at the charge bar that had very little to offer with a huge cost for the drinks depending on difficulty) the dancing began but only for a very short while. This song always seems to get them started, though:

video
It sounds like he's singing "Down Down boulibase" 
That's just the foodie in me I guess

Our mascot is rockin' it

I did get what I wanted, at least. Two people that of course I didn't recognize because I was ignored all through my HS life, came up to me and were shocked at how good I looked. I had lost about 70 pounds. I'd also switched out my glasses for contacts, was wearing make-up, and my hair was straight (and dyed). I looked nothing like I did in HS. I didn't have to worry about making conversation with anyone, though. Nobody else came up to us (as in me, my friend Mary who I came with, and Lisa - someone who also hung out at our table in HS). We basically spent the entire evening talking to each other, which was nice, but also quite boring in all honesty. Justin should be relieved that he didn't have to go (and I'm very relieved that we didn't end up spending then $80 dollars) he would have wanted out of there by 9pm.

The only highlight of the evening was a raffle. A lot of the raffle items sucked. They were giving away emergency road kits, and $10 gift certs to frozen yogurt (which I won one, but the damn place is in Port Orchard). There was one prize for $50 dinner cert to Clearwater Casino in Poulsbo, which would not have been worth the drive for me, and $150 something or other that the guy nobody knew won. lol

Apparently there was another reunion going on next door. Their music was much louder. Turns out it was Central K's 30th, and they were rockin' out better than us. Like, to the point where several of the people went over there to party instead. Mary and I went over to check it out, and I as I heard "Yeah 3x" by Chris Brown, I was so there lol. We only stayed for a few minutes though. By 11pm we decided we'd had enough and went home. 

So, it wasn't really a waste. But a good time? I suppose if you were a popular student and knew half the people at the reunion then probably. But for Mary, Lisa and I? Not really. Wished they would have had games, or contests, or something. But, oh well! There's always the 20th, I guess!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cardboard Smoker - Alton Brown Style

This has been quite the ordeal. Not building the smoker, mind you. That was easy. For instruction on building your own cardboard smoker, please refer to the Good Eats episode Where There's Smoke, There's Fish, and jump to about 12:40.
Anyway, it was the hot plate giving me the trouble. Finding one was hard enough. I wanted to buy one at a store and didn't want to wait for shipping, but where to find them? I tried Ace first, which Alton had suggested on Twitter. Nope. Then I tried Lowe's, and they were telling me hot plates were sold mostly at places like Fred Meyer and Target. Luckily, I found one at Fred Meyer: this model , which had some decent reviews, but one major flaw: A safety feature that automatically shut off the machine when it got to a certain temperature. I tried smoking the fish regardless (I'm doing the trout application, found here) but when it turned off, the smoking would stop, and the internal temperature of the box never reaches/reached 160, where it needs to sit at in order to cook/smoke the fish effectively.
So, here lies the dilemma. The fish is not cooking - we needed an immediate fix. We couldn't buy something else at the store - there was nothing. The only other option was to open it up and see if we could remove the temp auto shut off. Justin and I have very little experience with electronics beyond basic computer components. This was actually much simpler, as there is no computer chips involved.

This is how it looked after we fixed it

This is what we had to remove in order for it not to shut off. But it also connected the other wires together. So, we had to take the wires out of the protective case and wrap them together

This is a pic of how the sensor looked in the unit. It was just screwed in. Those four wires u see above it were attached inside the box, before

Crude, but effective. Hopefully it works and it won't burn up or auto shut-off any longer

So, as of right now, I'm smoking my trout. I think it's working. Still need to get the box up to 160 degrees.





Wish me luck! If this works, I'm moving up to some bigger items, such as Salmon, and eventually, Pork Butt - if I can get the little hot plate to reach 220.

UPDATE:

We were completely wrong lol. Well, not completely. It still auto-shut off, and we realized that it was because of this little nipple-shaped piece near the knob. It would begin to bend as the heat rose inside the unit, which touched another piece, thus separating them and cutting the electricity. So, we thought it would be a simple fix: Bend out that piece of metal so that they would have no chance of touching. However, I believe that stopped the unit from being able to vary its temperature, and the only way to turn it off was to unplug it. (Also, we put the temp sensor back in and put the wires where they belonged, because we knew that wasn't the problem) It worked for a while. The box even got up to about 180 degrees accidentally (it still skyrocketed even after I unplugged it), but then, it just died completely. Not even after it cooled down would it start again. So, we looked inside. Nothing was melted or burnt. It had to have been the sensor. The thing about removing the sensor though, is that you can't just remove it - it breaks the connection to the other wires. So, when we removed the sensor, we rewired the unit back up (using thermal crimpers to hold the wires together this time) and it turned on just fine.

I think I was lucky that I had really thin pieces of fish!! Even with all the hassle this created (after it stopped functioning, I just took the fish out and cooked it under the broiler for about 3 minutes) the fish was cooked and tasted smokey and was so damn delicious. I would do this again in a heartbeat. Now that the unit functions, I'll try my hand at smoking more trout, and as long as that works, I'll move onto salmon!



Monday, July 9, 2012

Thank you, Marion Laney!


This story goes back a number of years. I met a man online (chatroom) in 2001, when I was only 17, named Josh. He lived in Texas. We found out that we had a lot in common and we hit it off well and became a couple. In July of 2002 we met in real life for the first time, and in December of that year, he moved up to WA to live with me. But anyway, back in '01-'02, he wanted to show me a video he'd made with his webcam, using foam nunchucks, because he was really into martial arts.


video

This video is very precious to me, because on March 8th, 2005, Josh passed away. This is the only video I have of my late fiancee.

As time went by and technology advanced however, Microsoft decided that it didn't want to include old Win98 codecs into its operating systems anymore, and suddenly, it would no longer play. I would get audio, but no visual picture. I was doomed to never own a copy of his video. I only had it uploaded on Myspace in 2006, which could disappear at any time.

When I went to visit Myspace recently, I realized that I could share my video on Facebook, which I did, stating in the header that I could no longer play this video. That's when Marion Laney swooped in to the rescue. Mr. Laney, who was previously the Director of Photography for my favorite culinary show of all time, Good Eats. Who told me that he could possibly convert my video and give me something that I could play on my computer. I was more than elated. I was ecstatic. I couldn't believe that Mr. Marion Laney could possibly help me with my dilemma!

And lo and behold, what you see above you is all because he was able to convert my video.

So, Mr. Laney, I humbly thank you from the bottom of my heart. What you did may have been a simple fix, but to this girl, it means the world.



Sunday, July 8, 2012

Locked Out

I was reading someone else's blog (okay fine, plug: http://thoughtsfromparis.com/) and he was mentioning locking himself out of his place and that reminded me of the one time I did.
So, I thought I'd briefly recount my experience. You know, this is a memory blog.

So this was back when I was living on Huson street, in the non-house. (I prefer to think of it as a house converted to apartments because it looks like a house, and it looks [and is built] like a conversion, even though the landlord tells me it's not. Whatever.)

Sure as hell looks like a house, doesn't it?

Anyway, I lived on the top floor and I was heading out to work one morning. I always had my keys hanging up next to the front door so I could grab them on my way out. I headed to the car, and realized I didn't have my keys.

[Cue the 'Oh shit' moment]

So, I panic. Justin is at work, and I know I locked myself out of the apartment. Calling a locksmith would not only cost money, but make me late for work, and I was not about to be late for work for NOTHING. I was working as a temp at Hospice House and hadn't been there for very long, yet. Temps are easily replaced, and I sure as hell wasn't going to get replaced.

So, what do I do? I decide to break in.

Not having barely 4 feet between my door and the neighbor's (which I think might have been an empty apartment at this point) I start slamming my shoulder into the door. Now, I wouldn't be doing this if I at all cared. The apartment itself is shitty as f*ck. I wake the neighbors downstairs and tell them it's okay - I locked myself out. Annoyed, they basically shrugged me off and went back inside. Now, I don't know what this says about the door, but it only took me about 7 slams before I managed to splinter the wood on the other side and pop the door open.

I grab my keys and head to work. I was not late, of course, because I'm a super early person. And that gives me yet another tally for a reason why being super early to everything is beneficial. lol

Oh, on an unrelated subject, I told mom how awesome my Dyson was and how I bet it would vacuum up what her $1,500 Kirby missed. She said no way.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

In a Pickle

There are not a lot of things that I can eat on my hCG diet. Finding new ways to cook very boring and bland choices can be difficult. However, one such way is pickles. Cucumbers are one of the things allowed on my diet, and thanks to either Dr. Simmeons, or the fact that it was 1950's Italy I'm not sure, he counts cucumbers as a vegetable (as he does tomatoes, thank goodness; because I'm only allowed two fruits a day. It might be the sugar and carb content.) But I can technically have unlimited vegetables on the list.

Now, I hate the taste of cucumber, but pickles I can eat straight from the jar. And they're really simple to make. And no, I'm not talking about fermented dill pickles, or sweet pickles, but plain old "refrigerator" pickles.

It was harder to find a 1 qt jar with a sealed hinged 
lid than it was to make these pickles.

What are "refrigerator" pickles, you ask? Well basically, instead of being fermented whole for a week, they soak in vinegar and spices and take on the surrounding flavor of the "brine". Plus, they need to be refrigerated! They aren't preserved, so they will only last you two months, but my first batch lasted under a week (as in, I ate them all).

Once you have the spices, it's very cheap to make your own. As large as my spice pantry is though, I did not have any mustard seed, celery seed, or turmeric (or the pickling spice) so I had to go out and buy them all. I didn't realize that celery seed and turmeric were so expensive! I was lucky though, and got all my spices for half off. Now I have enough to last me a lifetime of making pickles.

Even the prep for the jar is simple. With a V-slicer or Mandolin (which is what I have), it makes quick work of the cucumbers. All you need to do is smash the garlic, and cut the half an onion vertically in order to make strips. (Also, interesting fact - if you wait until the vinegar pickling brine is simmering on your stove top, you can cut the onion without fear of crying, as the vinegar in the air prevents it. Cool, huh?)

Anyway, if you are interested in making these, which I highly recommend, you can watch this video where I got the recipe from. (Yes, it's Alton Brown, and yes the recipe is slightly different than in his "American Pickle" episode). And enjoy!