Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dinner with Royalty

We have returned from Florida and a family reunion. One of the biggest things the kids were looking forward to doing at Disney was a dinner with Princesses. Their excitement was very cute. I could only hope the experience lived up to their expectations.

The dinner was in the Norway section of Epcot. The plan was to go to Epcot in the morning. Leave around noon. Have lunch in the van on the way back to the condo. Get everyone a nap. Go back to Epcot and dine with the Princesses. Then wander around Epcot after dinner.

Everything was working according to plan until about 4:45 when we were driving back to Epcot. The sky got a little dark. Then the rain started. Then it turned into a monsoon. With the wipers on high, I could barely see out the windshield. In the heavy rains, I missed a turn. Turned out to be a lucky error. By the time I got turned around and parked at Epcot, the rain was passing. I think I hadn't missed the turn, we would have gotten soaked. So we arrived 15 minutes late for our dinner with Royalty. Fortunately, computer problems had slowed the restaurant down and there wasn't a problem getting in.

When our name was called, we moved into another room where we were greeted by Princess Belle. I don't know how they do it, but this lady looked, acted like, and sounded like Belle. After picking my daughters' jaws off the ground, we posed for some pictures and were brought to a table.

 A waitress (who was actually from Norway) took our drink order and directed us to an appetizer buffet. The food was pretty good. There was a typical salad bar and a selection of several traditional Norwegian options. I was impressed. During the appetizers, four other Princesses come out and start going from table to table. Kind of like the bride and groom at a wedding. All were very friendly and true to character. There was Princess Jasmine,

Snow White,

 Princess Ariel,

and Cinderella.

They signed autographs and each graciously held a "Hi Abby!" sign so we could send pictures to our niece.

The entrees came out out (I had a traditional fish dish) followed by a plate of desserts for the table to share. A very nice dinner with Disney Royalty.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chef Ric Orlando on Chopped

Spoiler Alert- I talk about the show's results.

Tonight's "Chopped" featured local chef Ric Orlando. Normally, I don't watch Chopped. The show is chefs preparing courses out of a mystery basket and the mystery basket is filled with things that probably shouldn't go together. While I do like watching professional chefs cook, Chopped seems more like making chefs dance and jump through hoops to win some money.

I made a point to watch tonight to see Chef Orlando compete. I have yet to eat at one of Orlando's restaurants, but they have been on the longtime to-do list. Getting a reservation this week might be tough after the show.

In the end, it is Chef Orlando against a younger chef. The younger chef had the line of the show during one of his asides. He said, "Chef Ric has been cooking longer than I've been alive." Could be taken as a slight dig at Orlando's age, but I think it should be taken as a compliment to Orlando's enduring passion for his craft.

In the end, Orlando brought some pride to the Capitol District with a win. Congratulations, Chef. Once all the hub-bub dies down, I will have to stop by and try a jerk dish.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's a small world after all

Suitcases are everywhere. The house is in chaos. It can mean only one thing - Family Vacation. We are off to see the big mouse that lives outside Orlando. The kids are very excited. And by kids, I mean Allison (age 6), Casey (age 4), and Grandpa Eddie (age 82). He doesn't really seem to be showing it, but according to my mother he has been giddy ever since the trip entered the planning stages.

Tomorrow afternoon the girls will fly for the first time. It will either go very well or be a nightmare. If it is a nightmare, my apologies to those sitting near us. The weather looks crazy hot, but we should be near a bunch of pools. The place we are staying has a mini water park. No Trader Joe's nearby, but there is a massive Publix. Never been in one. I love walking around a nice supermarket that I have never been in before.

When we get back from Florida, we are off for a family reunion weekend. I won't be around a computer until July 26. Kind of weird. Hope I don't go through withdrawal.

Being a forgetful blogger, the last few things I have done happened without pictures. The best was making home made mayonnaise. I did it because Michael Ruhlman told me to. What can I say, I'm a lemming. All you people getting an egg share with your CSA deliveries should try it. Especially if you have a stick blender. It is very easy. Combine an egg yolk, good pinch of salt, the juice from about a third of a lemon and about a tablespoon of water. Buzz it with the stick blender. With the blender going, slowly pour in about 6 oz of canola oil. That was it. The whole thing - prep, making it, and cleaning up- only takes a few minutes.

I do not like mayonnaise. It is an ingredient. I work with someone that can not only eat a tablespoon of mayonnaise, he enjoys it. It's not right. But home made may in a dressing for a cole slaw made with CSA cabbage - really good.

I had a minor setback with the tool. It is going to work, but the scrap pipe I got is not regular, off the shelf pipe. The design will definitely work, but I doubt it will be ready for mass production. I have other ideas for a more common tool. Maybe I'll build another one, or maybe I'll put the money toward and Angle-Izer and play with arch design. The other tool problem is the JB Weld did not hold the nuts for the thumb screws. I don't think I can fault the JB Weld for that though. The nuts are small and being attached to round pipe - there wasn't enough surface area to develop a good bond. I will either thread the holes in the pipe and put thumb screws on that way, or break down and have a friend hit it with a weld. So Tool 1.0 will work, but will not be easily reproducible.

We also stacked hay for the cows. This Sunday, 300 bales of hay went up into my father-in-law's barn. First, you get to load 300 bales of hay onto trailers and climb around tying it all together. Then you get to stack 300 bales of hay in your barn. It is hot and dusty up there. But you can not beat the quality of the beef.

In other steer news: Steers LOVE corn. The hot days in May caused about 3 pretty good sized barrels of corn to get very moldy. And malty. And fermenty. And stinky. In a flash of brilliance, I came up with the idea of  burying the corn in a large pile of composting manure. Tractor digs a hole in the pile, dump the very stinky corn into the tractor bucket, fill the hole, then cover the hole. A few weeks later, it will all be dirt. The steers dug into the pile and have been eating it. They jump on the pile, kick the pile, push it around with their noses - they want that nasty, stinky, moldy and now shit-covered corn. So far they haven't gotten sick. The pile was going to get moved today. Seemed like a good idea at the time....

See you at the end of the month.

Monday, July 5, 2010

This Shouldn't Make Me This Happy

And yet it does. I was giggling a little while I worked on my Indispensable Tool last night. Everyone had gone bed and I took the opportunity to go out to the garage and do a few more fake welding. The epoxy welds that I have done so far are very strong. I had already glued 4 or 5 pairs of nuts together on Thursday. They all worked, no glue on the threads and thumb screws went through without a problem. I picked the two nicest looking pairs, put them on some bolts and glued them over the holes in the pipe last night.

Also, over the weekend, I used my father-in-laws table saw to make a pretty square piece of 1/2 inch plywood. It measures 6 inches by 6 inches. I glued it to the lazy Susan hardware last night too. Not sure why we are picking on Susans everywhere, but we do.

And here's how it looks from the top after the glue set up.

So far, JB Weld has worked very well on metal to metal bonds and wood to metal bond. I might have a few ideas for this stuff at work. I've been impressed.

I just glued the pipe with the thumb screw bolts to the hinge. The hinge will get centered on this piece of plywood.

Home stretch....just have to pick up a cheap 90 degree bracket and a hose clamp. Might finish tomorrow night. I'm starting to think I could actually build this oven.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Busy Round here

Haven't posted it a bit. Falling way behind my twice a week goal, but there has been a lot going on. First, we are packing up, getting on a plane and flying to see the big mouse in the middle of Florida. Kids are thrilled. They have wanted to "go to where Mickey Mouse lives" for some time. I'm of the mindset where it is great as a kid, but just so-so as an adult. I'd rather hit a beach or take a cruise. My father loves going. A few years ago, he mentioned wanting to go when the kids were ready. Not sure he remembers saying it, but he said it. While the kids are probably 1 to 2 years younger than I'd like to them to be for this trip (lots of lines and patience required), my dad is going to be 82 this year. We offered my folks the option of coming with us and they took us up on it. My mother says my dad doesn't show it, but he is giddy. Hope he is giddy after 9 days with us in Florida in July. Has to be July - school schedule ruins everything.

Last weekend was Allison's 6th birthday. Usually we bring the kids to pick out a cake. General chaos surrounding the week prevented that. It was the last week of school for both kids - ending on Wednesday for one and Friday morning for the other - and there was shuffling around who was where. I've been going to physical therapy (note to blog readers - don't screw up your shoulder, it is a real hassle getting it back). Throw in planning the trip and there wasn't much free time during the week for cake ordering. On Thursday afternoon, I called the Price Chopper in Latham to order a cake to be picked up around 3:00 on Friday. They said no problem, what do you want. Well, she would like "a rainbow and a big heart and pink and red flowers." The woman on the phone was reluctant to promise they could do that. I told her it was for a 6 year old, their best effort would be fine and I gave them my cell number in case there was a question. No one called and here's what we got (rotated for reasons unknown):

She was very pleased with the cake and everyone liked it. Kudos Latham Price Chopper bakers. On one of my many lunchtime visits to Hannaford, I noticed some Mastrianni pizza dough in a cooler. I was planning to grill and this is one of my favorite ways to cook pizza dough. Let it proof (I left the bag open in my cube for the afternoon), split it in half, roll each piece into a log, cook indirectly with charcoal on the grill. Cool, slice, eat with butter. It is also excellent it grilled clams

I have also been scheming my Indispensable Tool. Here's what I've got so far:

I will need a few days to put it together. I am going to try and use this JB Weld instead of a real welder. I'm trying to design a tool that anyone can make, and not everyone has a friend that can weld. I do, so if this doesn't work they way I hope, I might have to call in a favor. So here's the plan: The long silver bar is threaded on one end. I will be able to attach thing with a nut there. The silver bar also slides tightly into the longer black bar. I drilled two holes in one end of the black bar so far (hopefully that is it).  The 3 little screw to the left of the JB Weld have 2 nuts on them. Tonight, I used the JB weld to weld the 2 nuts together without being welded to the screw. I made a few extras, hopefully 2 work. These welded nuts will get welded over the holes in the black bar. Got it so far? On the plate are 2 thumb screws. They will go through the nuts and tighten on the silver bar. This way, the length is adjustable. The black bar gets JB Welded to the hing. The hinge gets screwed to the center of a boar (not in the picture). The board gets attached to the lazy susan hardware in the bag near the hinge. Ta-da.

Hope it works. I picked up some artsy fartsy OO flour. I've got to start working on homemade pizza dough.

Not sure if I'll be back until after the 4th. Got some beer, fireworks, and our first CSA delivery in the near future.