Friday, June 29, 2012

Duchess Does It Fresh

There is a chain of restaurants in southern Connecticut called Duchess. I always loves this place. Earlier today on the ride from Albany to Fairfield we stopped in one for lunch. The chain is like a McDonalds and better in every way but fries. Here's the counter. Pretty standard.

Their signature burger is the "Big D." And since we loved the burger, my friends Derek's nickname became Big D.

What always bring me back to Duchess is their hot dogs. They have a great "dog with the works and bacon." Crumbled bacon in the bun must be a Connecticut thing. A simple but fantastic Connecticut thing. What is a dog with the works and bacon? Bacon goes in the bun and gets topped with the dog. The dog then gets topped with mustard, relish and kraut. Heaven in a bun.

I took time out from inhaling the dog to show you the bacon in the bun.

Good eating. By the way, my brother is next to me and making fun of me for taking pictures of hot dogs.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I've been listening to a bunch of podcasts while typing away or driving at work. In a conversation about goals, it was suggested that one's goals should get written down. If they are written down, they are not just a bunch of "wouldn't it be nice" ideas floating around in your head. So as we enter the second half of 2012, these are the things (in no particular order) that I want to accomplish before the end of December.

1. Finish the damn kitchen. Grout, tape, molding, prime, paint, caulk.
2. Weigh less than 200 pounds. I don't remember the last time the first number of my weight was a 1.
3. Run a 5k. Without slowing down to a walk.
4. Make another batch of Modernist inspired bacon.
5. Participate in one of the local food swaps. I'm thinking of trading Italian style sausage or pancetta.
6. Cure something out of the new book Salumi which comes out at the end of August.
7. Make pizza. I have sooo many recipes to try. Plus I've got to light up that Firedome.
8. Clean up the basement. It is currently a pit of despair. But just clean, not refinish.

I could probably come up with two more but this isn't a Top Ten list. Hopefully there are at least 8 future posts about reaching each of these goals.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Progress

The sign is up at the Trader Joe's...

And the hiring tent has been open for business all week. That kid at the left table might be a little young to stock shelves though.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I just got back from Utica. Earlier this morning, I was in a seminar on Magnetic Particle Testing (it was actually more interesting than it sounds) when my phone vibrated. I looked at it and the call was coming from the elementary school.

When you get an unexpected call like that, you get an "oh no" feeling. I've gotten them in the past and for the most part everything is fine.

Nurse: Your daughter fell during recess and banged up her knee. She's fine, but I just wanted to call and let you know.


Nurse: Your daughter is complaining her ear hurts. I don't see anything wrong but there is a lot of wax.
Me: Thank you. That happens every so often. We'll flush her ear tonight.

That kind of stuff. But you never know if it is going to be "You need to come get her NOW and bring her to a doctor" or even worse. Plus, I'm in Utica. I can't be there in 10 minutes. I never think these thoughts until I get an unexpected phone call with the school's caller ID on your cell phone.

It wasn't the nurse. Today's call was from the Kindergarten teacher. She was calling to let me know that she had nominated my youngest daughter for an award and that Casey had won this year's Kindergarten Friendship Award. She went on to describe the award and why my daughter deserved to win. It was quite an impressive list. Casey brought home a nice award to hang up in her room plus her name is going to get engraved on another award that stays in the school lobby.

Like the post title says, proud.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

At Girl Scouts, each of my daughter's filled out a Father's Day card to go along with the numerous drawings, paintings, cards I received earlier today. Here's what they wrote:

My dad is special because....
Allison: he cooks dinner
Casey: He loves me.

I love when my dad:
Allison: cooks my favorite mac-o-roni
Casey: gevs me coces and gevs me lolepops
Translation: gives me choices and gives me lollipops

The best thing to do with my dad is:
Allison: to tell jokes
Casey: play games and play Drosom
Translation: play games and play Draw with Friends. When you guess a picture correctly, the screen says DRAWSOME! so that's what the girls have renamed the game.

I wish I could buy my dad:
Allison: a lawnmower he could drive
Casey: a Cokc Book
Translation: A cook book

The most important thing my dad has taught me is:
Allison: my sight words and how to spell things.
Casey: is my ABCS.

My dad's favorite thing to do is:
Allison: play drawsome
Casey: play on his phon (phone)
They are right. I really do love my new phone.

My dad's favorite place to go is:
Allison: to Grandma Esther's
Casey: the groshe stor
Translation: the grocery store

I want to thank my dad for:
Allison: teaching me how to spell sight words
Casey: Loveing me and feding me.

The largest puzzle I have ever worked on

Tiling is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Except in tiling, you have a cool wet saw that can cut the pieces to fit.

If you remember, the counter-top project began in February. It took a little while to pick a tile for the back splash. Then once the tile was picked, it took a little while to go and order the tile. In fairness to the tile place, the tile came in three days early. Then the tile sat. And sat.

This week week, I took a day off and worked on the kitchen. I started around 8;15 in the morning. I worked non-stop until 4:45. Then I had to get a little dinner ready so we could be at the softball fields by 6:00. A whole interuption free day to work and I only got two of the three walls done. I naively thought I'd get it all done. And the remaining wall was the most complicated. I spent about 6 hours tiling that wall today. Now, all the tile is up waiting to be grouted. Oh, and I changed out all the electrical outlets for new ones too.

So after the grouting, all that's left is...some Sheetrock repair, molding installation and painting. Maybe someday. I was trying to get done for a gathering next weekend, but there is a girl scout thing Monday, I'm in Utica Tuesday and Wednesday, and the house is trashed...New Goal: Be done by Thanksgiving.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Words of wisdom

"I smell something. It smells kind of good and kind of not so good."

Allison on the smell in front of the Burger King on Route 9.

Berry Picking

Ever hear of Flat Stanley? The idea is that a kid, usually a first grader, makes a Stanley on a piece of paper, cuts it out and mails it to someone. They take it all over the place snapping pictures along the way. Then you put it all back in the mail and show the creator where Flat Stanley has been. Last year we sent a Flat Stanley to Maryland....this year we got one from Maryland. Funny how that works. Flat Stanley had a good weekend. He went to 2 birthday parties, a diner, a softball game and strawberry picking.

The strawberry picking was inspired by two things. First, this post at All Over Albany detailing the local farms with pick your own berries. And second, the third comment on that post from someone named Lu who wrote:

"Grocery store strawberries cost exactly the same. Since they grow close to the ground you can't even fill up on berries in the field. Seriously, I don't see the point."

Wow. Well after reading that, I wanted my kids to see the point. The three of us (4 if you are counting Stanley) headed out to Best Berry Farm this morning. I'd say the whole trip including a stop to get a drink took a little over an hour.

The girls and Flat Stanley headed into the field with great enthusiasm...

They did a great job picking. We had brought two boxes and filled both up. A lovely woman weighs the empty boxes before you go picking. Very friendly place. Here's Flat Stanley resting comfortably on some berries being weighed. In case you were curious, Flat Stanley weighed in at 0.01pounds

That hour was time well spent. The girls "see the point" and I think we will be making this an annual trip. The berries were $1.75 a pound and we picked about 8 pounds. As I type, about 2 pounds that were macerated with sugar and then blended with cream are chilling to become strawberry ice cream tomorrow. We've probably already eaten 2 pounds too. Blueberries were still a few weeks out. If we are around, we'll definitely head back out to Best Berry Farm for those. Although we'll be short handed. Stanley will be relaxing back in Maryland by then.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Play Ball

Even though it can get a little hectic, I've been enjoying the softball season. I even had fun working my day at the concession stand (the little girl checking out her ice cream options was confused when I warned that I just sold the last lobster, but the lady behind her thought it was funny). Anyhow, tonight was a nice night for a game.

Here's my older daughter at bat and pitching. And it's not right, but ever time she goes to the plate to bat, I have the music from The Natural in my head.

And here's one of my younger daughter getting ready for a career in coaching. I was too slow with the camera, but there was a better shot of her studying the players on the field with her arms crossed and that never satisfied look coaches can have.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Meat Tenderizing

Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Chef Adam Perry was on to plug his new grilling book. In the segment, he and jimmy took a large, two bone prime rib roast and beat it with baseball bats. The theory was that a flatter surface would create more crusty char on the outside.

I'm OK with flatter for more char. The damn bats seemed so dumb and gimmicky. If you were buying high quality beef, that was a $50 or $60 roast. Even a cheaper supermarket Black Angus roast that size is probably $25 or $30. The meat he cut up looked good, but it also looked slightly less beaten. But seriously, a bat? I should just stop watching TV. I'm addicted to the stupid box though.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A year of watching what I eat

I had my ups and downs. Some weeks were harder to eat relatively healthy compared to others. All in all, it was a successful year of weight loss. Last May I weighed in at 243.3 pounds. This morning I weighed in at 213.8. My morning weight tends to fluctuate between 212 and 215 pounds making me down about 30 pounds. I'd like to break the 200 barrier but I don' t know if I can do it. I think my biggest hurdle is to stop having a second dinner around 10 at night.

Getting exercise was the biggest change of the year. I walk a lot more than I used to. Also take the stairs more often than in the past. Time Warner set me back a little when they changed the free Exercise on Demand channel. Some of those were pretty good workouts. One exercise guy said the hardest part of a workout is actually starting the workout. There's a surprising amount of truth of truth to that. I've tried to start P90x twice. I've had some elbow issues in the past and there's something about the pullups that bother's my right arm. After two weeks of the program, I get a stiff neck.  Could be operator error.

The exercise leads me to another fairly recent milestone. While on a treadmill at the conference last week, I jogged a tick over 3 miles without stopping. A personal distance record. Granted, it was flat and at a set pace. I tend to go a little faster on my own and need to take a break every so often. Plus hills make a big difference. I'd like to participate in a 5k sometime. If I can make it around the neighborhood without stopping, I'll sign up. Maybe the Crossings 5k this fall. We'll see.