Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Pirshki-palooza!

It's always good to have a back-up plan.  My back-up plan for when this engineering career goes completely to shit is to to do computer and networking consulting.  It's also good to have a back-up plan for the back-up plan.  If all else fails, I will buy a food truck and sell Pirshki on the streets of Toronto.

Pirshki, for newcomers to the blog, is one part of the holy trinity of TBone Family Christmas Meals.  Pirshki, Meat Sticks, and Roll-ups.  I'm drooling just thinking about them.  I considered a food truck concept that would serve all three of these epic dishes but I'm pretty sure that much concentrated awesome would result in my being trampled by an impatient mob of newly enlightened food fanatics.

Each of the three dishes would pose their individual challenges for preparing and serving in a food truck environment.  Pirshki won the focus for being the most "streetable", easiest to eat on the run, for having the most crack like properties of addiction, and, hopefully, the easiest prep and serve properties of the three.

But could I be successful with just Pirshki?  The stuff is heroin in fried dough, true enough, but it's still just one thing.  I started thinking of different recipes that I could use to back up the champ.  I had half a dozen alternatives that I thought might work but I needed some third party testing to validate these concoctions.  We didn't have much going on this weekend so I decided to spend it cooking Pirshki and Pirshki Alternatives for evaluation by Jen, my brother, and sister-in-law.

Saturday was filling day.  Most of the recipes had a ground beef base, like the original.  But there was also shredded chicken, pulled pork, and chopped lamb to prepare.  It was a carnivore's dream!  Oh, and a pot of quinoa for the hipsters.  I felt I had to at least offer a veggie Pirshki option even though it burns my soul to leave meat out of a dish.

Sunday morning I got to work on the dough.  I had always dreamed of a quicker, faster way of doing Pirshki dough.  I've finally accepted that the only way is the way my mom does it.  No compromises.  There's a lot of prep, and rising, and punching, and kneading, and more rising with this recipe.  But the end results are worth it.  The bread maker's going to be collecting a fair bit of dust after this experiment.

When the dough was finally ready, I packed 8 different recipes into about 70 Pirshki balls.  After years of neglect, I dug my deep fryer out of the basement.  Pirshki are traditionally pan fried but for a food truck, it would have to be deep fried or nothing.

And then the tasting.  The clear winner was still the original recipe.  There's just something about that combination of ingredients that is magical.  There were some strong contenders though.  The Buffalo Chicken and Mexican variations were popular with everybody and the Blue Cheese Burger was very tasty for those who liked blue cheese.  The Pulled Pork BBQ was almost there but needs some work on the sauce.  I was alone in liking the Rosemary Lamb and, surprisingly, the Kooky Quinoa.  Very polarizing dishes.  Jen had some suggestions that would likely really help the veggie option but I think I'll just keep those in my back pocket for now.  The Cheeseburger was kind of bland but, again, some good suggestions that I'd likely implement to make a Bacon Cheeseburger down the road.

So, at the end of it all, a lot of work but some really good feedback.  I got a bit of a taste of what it would be like to assemble and cook Pirshki on the fly.  Could I actually make a go of a food truck?  I think so.  The product is amazing and people would go nuts over it in downtown Toronto.  Am I actually going to do this then?  Not likely.  But it's always nice to have a back-up plan.

Friday, 27 July 2012

IT Memories


This is exactly how I recall feeling when I worked in IT.  Oh, the booze I drank back then.  I had my own keg fridge!

Original link from imgur.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Careers

Yesterday I learned that "Colon Hydrotherapist" is an actual job.  And I chose engineering.  Dang it!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Paying the Piper

Hey, remember when I had that wisdom tooth pulled out last month?  Yah, good times.  Well yesterday was the inevitable follow up.  The pressing issue of a decaying half tooth had been resolved and now it was time to evaluate what state 15 years of dental neglect had left the rest of my mouth.

So there I am, back in the chair.  And it starts out casual enough.  Just some x-rays.  Fantastic.  Maybe that's all they need to do for the evaluation?  Just some x-rays and a frank talk about how 15 years is too long between dentist visits.

The hygienist comes back and puts the developed x-rays on a back-lit board beside my chair.  I analyze them while waiting for the dentist to put in his appearance.  Hey, they don't look too shabby!  I have a lot more fillings than I remembered having but everything else looks like a pretty consistent shade of grey.  No obvious dark spots to my admittedly untrained eye.  I'm still clinging to the hope that the people touching my mouth phase is over for this visit.

The dentist finally shows up and steps on the neck of that notion and puts a bullet in its head when he whips out the sharp pokey sticks.  After some chit chat about the healing around the wisdom tooth extraction, he proceeds to stabbing me repeatedly along my entire gum line with that cursed fucking dentist pick.  Guess what!?!  My gums started bleeding!  He explained this to me.  That my gums were bleeding.  Obviously a result of my negligence and NO correlation to the fact that he had just jabbed a sharp pointy implement into that soft tissue a hundred times.  No, no.  GOOD gums, HEALTHY gums are impervious to such assaults.

Eventually he finished turning my gums into hamburger meat.  Please god let this be over.  But no, we now move from jabbing the gums to jabbing the teeth.  I am wigging out just remembering this event.  I hate, HATE, the feeling of metal on my teeth.  So I gripped the fuck out of those armrests and tried my damndest to stay in my happy place.

Eventually, he stopped.  The total damage was three cavities, one bad filling to be replaced, a shit load of cleaning, and the small matter of removing those last three wisdom teeth.

Yes, after 15 years of dentist-free joy, the bill has come due.  I am going to be intimately familiar with that dentist chair over the next couple months.  There's no question, this is going to suck.  So was it worth it?  Was 15 years without some weirdo's hands in my mouth, stabbing my gums with a sharp stick, and giving me shit when they bleed, worth these next 3 months of compressed dental activity?  Yup.  I'll suck it up and deal with this now and going forward but those were a sweet 15 years.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Precious

So, anyways, glad I got that bit of nastiness out of my system.  Back to happier thoughts.  My wedding ring came in the mail yesterday!  I'd post a picture but Jen has hidden it until the wedding day.  I did manage to try it on before it got hidden and it is so incredibly boss.  Tungsten carbide ring with a carbon fibre inlay.  An engineer's ring, to be sure.  And there's some significant heft to this beast.  I do feel a bit pimpin' with it on.

Probably not too classy to mention the price but I was pretty surprised to find how much of a bargain it was on overstock.com.  The shipping process is a bit painful and they ended up just tossing it on our front porch for anybody to run off with but for the price it's still a recommended shopping experience.

Can't wait for ring day!

Edit: Put up the picture from overstock.com.

WWILTPITFTW

Been a lot of love in the air recently, leaving not a lot of time for this segment of TBone Today.  But that changed Friday as I learned of the fucknut in Colorado that decided to shoot up a theater of people watching a midnight presentation of The Dark Knight Rises.

I think I might have shook my head and it could have ended up at the back of my mind, cynically displaced as another warped demonstration of America's love affair with guns.  But reading about the victims changed that.  Learning about the brother who died shielding his sister and her boyfriend, the 3 month old baby, the severely wounded mother asking for her 6 year old daughter who died that night.

I was, and am, furious.

I'm usually wary of media lynch mobs.  Jonbenet Ramsey, the Atlanta bomber, even O.J. Simpson.  They get so sure of themselves when it's impossible to know anything with certainty.  But there's no ambiguity with this asshole.

They caught him with his weapons.  His apartment was rigged with explosives.  This is the guy.  With certainty.  No need for lawyers or courtrooms.  It's just a question of what to do with him.  People are, obviously, looking for the death penalty.  But that is not a quick or just penalty in my humble opinion.

My modest proposal would be to auction off the rights for each bone in his body.  The winning bid for each bone would receive a ball peen hammer, a cold chisel, and 5 minutes with Mr. Douchefuck to break the bone they bid on.  Proceeds would go to the families of the victims.

At the very least, I think the district attorney should decline to prosecute and just release him in downtown Aurora.  Give the community a chance to work out their own feelings about this cluster turd in person.

But first, I'd very much like to punch him in the face.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Lockout

Ever heard of this movie? Yah, not too many people have.  But it has Guy Pearce in it and I'll always give his projects a chance. Like Trainspotting for Ewan McGregor, Memento earned Guy Pearce a lifetime pass for crappy movies. And this movie is crappy.  Horrible.  Avoid at all cost.  The production values are of a "made for TV" level and the script is even more laughable.

This turd pile comes to us courtesy of one Luc Besson.  The craftsman who has delivered one of my favourite flicks (The Professional) and one of my most despised (The Fifth Element). Lockout definitely falls into the Fifth Element pile.  Take that for what its worth.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Beertown

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!  Guys, guys, guys! Sit down!  There's a place in Cambridge called BEERTOWN!  Check this place out here.  So, 30 craft brews on tap?  100 more bottles to choose from?  An intriguing menu featuring a slow cooked meat on poutine?  Yah, I was going to check this place out.

We went there tonight and it, honestly, lived up to all expectations.  I'll always prefer a bar that features their own brews crafted on-site (Huether Hotel, Clocktower Brew Pub), but having a bar that has even half of these beers on tap is a glorious runner-up.  Most of these beers would be familiar to anyone who has crawled around the LCBO beer section looking for something different but having them on tap is a huge luxury and there were still a few surprises in there.

Tasting paddles are available with 4 beer samples.  I went with the seasonal selection to start.  There was one that was almost a lemonade.  Very different but very good.  My second paddle came with a Hawaiian Pale Ale that claimed to have been made with pineapple.  I couldn't really pick up on that pineapple taste but it was a damn fine beer.

So the beer selection is a winner.  No question.  But the food?  Delicious.  The garlic bread alone is worth the trip.  So good.  For my main I went with a beef brisket poutine with sauteed onions and mushrooms.  This was probably the best poutine I've ever had in my life.  And, yes, it was made with real cheese curds for those poutine snobs out there.

Entertainment-wise, no shortage of TV's for all the latest sports activities.  This place will be very popular come hockey and football.

Yah, I'd recommend this place to just about anybody.  The prices aren't any great bargain but you are definitely getting what you paid for.

Dish Washing

This pretty much sums up my attitude towards washing dishes:


Jen disagrees that this is a valid methodology.

Original link from imgur.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Bull BBQ Pit

Had lunch in St. Catharines yesterday. Friends of ours had spotted a place downtown called The Bull BBQ Pit. We checked out the menu online and knew we had to try it out. We've been watching a lot of food network lately and the BBQ joints have been a real focus recently. I didn't think we'd get to a decent BBQ place north of the border so this was a real find.

And the meal more than exceeded expectations.  I had beef brisket and pulled pork sliders along with an order of poutine. The meat and BBQ sauce were fantastic.  Jen shared some of her burger and it was delicious too.   I wanted to order every single thing off that menu.  Wouldn't have cost much either as there's nothing on the menu that's over 10 bucks.

I really hope they're successful. I want to go back there on every trip back to Niagara just to support them.  I want franchises of this place to open up across Canada (starting in kitchener).  We talked to the owner/chef for a bit and he said he's been pretty happy with business so far. I wish them all the success in the world because they certainly have a product worthy of it.

Ce-RVix Removal

This weekend was the end of the road for my trusty old Ce-RVix.  Sent her off to a farm down the road.  The final straw was Jen mentioning a noise coming from underneath the car the last time she took it out to the store.  I drove around the block when we got back from the cottage and there was indeed a significant rattling.  Didn't take long underneath the car to spot the rear drive shaft hanging off the mid hanger bearing.  The u-joint connecting the shaft to the rear differential hadn't just failed, it had evaporated.

Enough.  I was completely fed up.  One of the guys at work has a son who works at a Honda dealership and he said that they see this quite a bit.  And you have to replace the whole shaft, you can't just replace the failed joints.

I'd been a huge Honda cheerleader up until this year but this was just too much.  These are disposable vehicles.  I don't think I'll ever consider another Honda after this.  There was no warning about the u-joint, no noise, it just disappeared. 

So it's gone.  Traded for the cost of 3 years of snowmobile storage.  Not a great end.  I do have to remind myself of all the trips and snowstorms it got me through.  All the loads it hauled.  I could have just removed the driveshaft and kept it as a front wheel drive vehicle.  But I just wanted it gone.  The space it took up was more valuable than the car itself. 

And so ends the mighty Ce-RVix.  Not with a bang but with a whimper.  And a lot of rattling.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Coffee

The coffee at work is shit.  It's free, but it is still shit.  My thermos from home will usually get me through the morning but there are often days when I need some more fuel and I absolutely dread pouring a cup from the sludge machine in the lunch room.

I'm not alone.  Everyone in the engineering office hates the coffee.  We've tried various solutions.  We've lobbied management for a better bean, we've made trips across the parking lot to the McDonald's, and before vacation I'd started bringing in two thermoses.  Other people point out maybe we should be focusing a little more on engineering and a little less on coffee.  Those people fail to comprehend that coffee fuels innovation.  We deride and shun these people.

But I think I've got this little problem solved.  I was feeling a little nervous about spending a week at the cottage without my Keurig machine so I bought a smaller unit just for the cottage.  After the cottage, I brought it into work.  It now sits on my desk in full defiance of all 5S mandates.  And I've made my first cup and it is glorious!

There's still some kinks to work out.  I need to install a water delivery system and maybe a small fridge for cream.  But, for now, I am quite pleased with myself.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Masterchef

Things were winding down one night at the cottage and we started flipping through the channels of the Bell dish.  My sister practically squealed when she saw the show Masterchef was on.  I'd never heard of it but there wasn't much else on so we gave it a try.

And this is a terrible show.  I mean terrible.  The concept is a reality TV show where a bunch of home cooks are competing to get the title "Masterchef".  I knew this was a lost cause when I saw that one of the contestants was a cowboy.  A friggin cowboy in the kitchen.  With the hat and everything.  Fuck off.

Yah, I'm sure he was just randomly chosen.  People trying to get on these shows will alway get a schtick to make sure they stand out.  But they're not really like that.  This friggin guy was from South Carolina!  Not too many cowboys in Myrtle Beach last I checked.  But he was carrying himself like he was straight off a Texas ranch.  This is not reality TV.  It is fake.

And you look around at the other contestants and you can see how the producers had gone about selecting them.  There's the heartwarming story of the woman with a disability, the tatooed "rebel", the "nerdy" bookworm with fake hipster glasses, the annoying douchebag, the athlete, and the completely useless reject.  Ridiculous.

The format of the show is standard reality show fare.  Some competition to give somebody an advantage, then another competition, and then somebody gets the boot.  Should be 15 minutes of television.  But they drag each moment out with dramatic cuts and pauses and commercial breaks and replaying the shots from before the commercial break again after coming back from break.  It is so fucking annoying and I don't understand how producers don't realize how cliche all this shit is by now.

For the 30 or 40 minutes that were left of this show, I ragged on it totally and completely.  There was no maximum setting to the contempt I had for this show.  And then the very next day, there was ANOTHER brand new show!  And I spent THAT hour ragging it out even more!

It was so fucking stupid.  These fucking people are just whoring themselves out for a few minutes of television fame.  And they're such bitches.  I know it's all prompted but listening to people bitch about the other people in a competition is just plain dispicable.  It is no understatement to say I fucking hated this show.

And when I got home I immediately set the PVR to record every new episode of Masterchef.

Fuck.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Cottage

Whoo!  Yah, so anyways, thanks everybody for the congratulations and well-wishing!  We did end up celebrating by doing close to nothing today.  So nice.  But I should make note of what we've been up to in the week leading up to the big proposal.

A couple years ago (pre-Jen), the TBone clan had rented a cottage on Haliburton Lake.  It was a pretty nice location and a cozy cottage that had everything we needed.  My fishing expeditions were incredibly futile.  My brother, Shane, had the luck that week and caught enough to do up a fish fry for the family on our last night.

This year we had decided to try it again.  My brother-in-law, Morgan, did all the research and ended up getting us this place.  Check out that link.  This place is like one of those home and garden TV shows.  It was fairly ridiculous.  But we settled right in like we owned the place.

Morgan had also procured us a boat for fishing.  We got right to it our first night there.  Kamaniskeg Lake is a beautiful body of water and it looked jam packed with high potential bass features.  We had high hopes.  I struck first with a medium sized pike.  There was a couple other wee fish but we felt we were on the right track.

We weren't.

The next 6 days saw the three of us trying every single nook and cranny in that lake, throwing everything in our tackle boxes out there, and our net return was a handful of rock bass and one decent sized small mouth.  Shane caught the small mouth on the next to last day and his frustration was at max.  Morgan and I were relieved that Shane had finally caught something that warranted some fish batter.  You can imagine our shock when he threw it back in the lake.  His explanation was that that fish was obviously the last small mouth in the lake and should therefore be left to repopulate.

So we didn't catch much fish.  But our fishing expeditions weren't without excitement. As we worked our way North in search of bass, we found ourselves in a beautiful bay at the opposite end of the lake from our cottage.  We had finished our fruitless pass of the shoreline and I turned to the outboard to get us out of that barren wasteland to get to the next bay where SURELY the fish would be waiting for us. 

The motor wouldn't start.  I pulled and pulled and finally got some sputtering and then it died again.  Morgan pointed out that the Oil Level/High Temp light was on when the engine was on.  When I managed to get the engine started again, the light was indeed on and I looked around to confirm that there was no water coming out of the back of the engine that would indicate the cooling circuit was working. 

We beached the boat to take a closer look.  Everything looked intact, there was nothing blocking the water intake.  We scratched our heads and let the engine cool.  While I was waiting, I wandered into the woods a bit to take a leak.  I happened upon an old camp fire with half a dozen fish carcasses that somebody had recently cooked up for a shore lunch.  The evidence that there were fish in the lake and that it was possible to catch them was quite humorous to me.  Shane didn't laugh.

We got the engine running again and started back.  It didn't last long before it overheated again.  We started rowing.  This is a big lake. We had a long day ahead of us.  While Shane rowed, I poured water over the engine to try and cool it off enough so we could get 10 seconds of thrust before it overheated again.

We got out of the bay.  We had a long way to go.  Thankfully a local resident named Ralph happened along in his 150HP ski boat.  He towed our boat to his dock and then sped us home to alert the guy we'd rented the boat from.

At that point, Shane was done.  No more fishing!  We left it alone for a day.  During that time Morgan had negotiated a ski boat from the boat rental guy in exchange for our faulty fishing boat.  With our plusher ride, we convinced Shane to give the fishing another go.  We hit a couple spots without any success and then ended up close to Ralph's place.  Ralph had told us this spot was guaranteed to give us some fish.

It didn't.  Alright, we were going to go right to the North end and then call it quits.  Except we couldn't get the boat started.  We spent 10 minutes trying to get it started.  And it finally started but we were sweating at the prospect of trying to paddle this beast anywhere.  When it started, I looked up and Shane was waving.  I looked around and Ralph was out on his dock ready to come out and tow us again.  We laughed.  But we also went straight home before the fishing gods had any more fun at our expense.

So that was the fishing.  A big part of my week but everybody else was making the most out of this getaway.  Jen was having a blast  with the kids, out at the dock, organizing scavenger hunts, making chocolates, doing crafts.  The kids really took to the water and were constantly jumping in and out of the water.

We had a great week, weather-wise.  Actually, my only complaint was that we never had that one rainy day that we stayed inside to play board games or watch movies or play euchre.  Days like those are vivid memories from my childhood summers at my grandparents' place on the lake.

Aside from that, I think it was a great week and the kids will have their own fond memories to look back on when they take their one week of vacation from their soul crushing office jobs.  Yah, good times.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Boom!

So this just happened:

We just got back from a week at a cottage we'd rented with my parents and brother's and sister's families.  And I had this diamond ring lying around.  And there was nothing on TV.  So, I proposed.  And I proposed Pinterest style!


There was great relief when Jen selected the box beside "YES".  Could be because the "NO" box was so small.  But oh well, she's stuck with me now!  

Further details to follow but there won't be a big ceremony.  There WILL be a big party at some point though.

The down side to my little plan was to do this at the END of a week of cottaging.  We're both a little too pooped to go celebrating.  For now we're happy to be home, together, looking forward to the next steps in our lives.