Thursday, February 28, 2013

A big step forward and some gravy

I don't always take stock in future plans and long term work related goals. I'm more of a do my job at 110% and take what comes my way. I'm good friends with the owner and I was shocked when he told me I'll be running the place in 10 years.
I wasn't sure how serious he was until we talked yesterday about a very near future hiring of someone to take some of my current time killing duties so I can focus on some other areas of the business. I'm pretty excited to see where it will lead, not bad for teaching myself everything I know and going about a lot of things blindly. I have no idea what the future will really bring, in any aspect of my life, but I'll keep giving it my all.

This makes me spend more time and energy at work, but I did manage to work on a new gravy. Someone in the house likes applesauce with pork chops so I had to come up with something... no applesauce in the house.

1/2 onion chopped
1 T worcestershire sauce
1 T White/Apple vinegar
1/4 C Water
1/3 C Maple Syrup (the real stuff, c'mon folks)
1 T chili powder
Salt (if you use it, I don't).. about 1/2 tsp

I heat this up to a boil, then use it as the basting/roasting sauce. Here is what it looks like on top of some pork chops before going into the oven.
Once you are done cooking whatever, thicken the sauce into a gravy like this:
Then make buttermilk biscuits that look like this:
and for a special treat open a box to see what's inside!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The great panic is great

The great panic is getting better.... Oh hell no. Perhaps if you want 10mm, 7mm or some .300 otherwise there isn't anything locally and the prices online are silly. I certainly understand profit, it's not a bad word, I just hope that most people didn't need too much. I'm stunned by the shortage, and we've seen shortages before, but this one is the worst yet. I was after some cleaning patches but wandered around a few sporting goods and firearm stores. I have an odd knack at finding things, 3 boxes of .308 was in the wrong stack so that was a nice find. One store now has a lottery Friday mornings so if you aren't first in line you have a chance at the popular rifles. A lottery... for rifles and pistols.
Another large sporting goods store has a paper sign on the doors stating 'no ammunition in stock'. I checked and sure enough, there have some 12 gauge and very little of that. A sad state of affairs we are in.

I'm at the American boulder series rock climbing finals. Amazing feats of strength, balance and flexibility. It's a reminder that the body has to be prepared as well as the mind and supplies. I'm having a good time meeting a lot of young people who cant communicate, can't look you in the eye, and who's entire life revolves around climbing boulders. I'm getting paid, no complaints, no one else would be here until 22:45. I think I scared some people by saying hello... Probably should have sent a text?

 Speaking of fitness, I added 20 pounds to my bench, that's now an increase of 105 pounds since the end September. Some of the weight is just relearning a little, the rest is all hard work. I have a new workout partner, he is young, scrawny and weak. He does show up on time, listen and spot correctly so it's perfect. He will see big gains really fast if he keeps it up. Last night we swam and I had him walk along the pool so he could see the proper swimming form and technique. I swim fast apparently, he had to speed walk to keep up with me. I worked on backstroke while he worked on drinking a lot of pool water, but he ended up swimming half a mile... something to be proud of for anyone. Snow is heading this way, still have 8 inches in the yard from 2 days ago, maybe we will get the moisture we need, or at least close. That would be welcome.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekend cooking and magazine control

I've read a few blogs that talk about things letting up a little in the great panic. I'm glad there is availability of things for some people, here in lovely Colorado Springs, there isn't crap. The high capacity magazine (more than 15) has a good chance of being passed by the legislature, and should have a final vote in the next 7-10 business days. It also requires background checks for all firearm purchases, including private transactions.
What the wording doesn't cover is how a citizen proves the magazine they have is grandfathered in. This means you are automatically a criminal unless you carry a receipt with you, or some other way to prove. Innocent until proven guilty has become a running joke in society, here is another case proving such.

Letting up... I don't think so. I'm not a panic buyer but I am ordering a few things today, just in case. While they might not be things I need, a few extra pistol magazines won't hurt. xdm 19 round 9mm, taurus 18 round pt92/99... new school and old, a grand mix. If the legislation passes, I'll have to have other people order things in and then road trip out of state to pick them up.

As of checking the new right now: The Democratic-led House voted Monday to ban large-capacity magazines, placing a limit of 15 rounds for firearms, and eight for shotguns. Lawmakers also passed a requirement for background checks on firearm sales between private parties.


I had a busy weekend doing prepper like things. Vac sealed some burger since I can't pressure can right now. I need to buy a propane single burner so I can keep the heat/pressure up. Some people have luck using a glasstop stove but I'm not wanting to risk it. I'll get a burner this weekend.
Vac sealing wet things can be frustrating, if it pulls too much of the juice, it won't seal. Bag 1 went just fine:
You can see that bag #2 had to much juice and didn't seal properly. I made a second effort with a new bag and ended up double sealing it to be sure, it had a lot of juice around the seal line:
The difference was the top bag has patties instead of blocks, I should have made them all patties for ease of sealing.
I needed brown sugar so I ran downstairs to the grocery store and picked up a bag for general use from 1/12, I keep it separate from my long term supply. I use brown sugar in my spaghetti sauce:
The entire Saturday dinner was from food storage. 3 cheers for not going to the store. I keep about 40 pounds of spaghetti noodles, next Costco run will add another 20 or so. My weekend fight night dinners can use 4 pounds.

After posting the recipe for chocolate sheet cake, I had a craving all week and finally gave in.
This is before the oven, trying to get the air bubbles out. It was not as successful as it could have been, I was lacking patience.
While waiting for the cake (18 minutes), I had some zucchini bread I put away last summer:
All thawed and ready for tea!

Out of the oven, cooling down awaiting the frosting. I decided a very thin layer of frosting was in order, if I was going to eat cake I wanted it a little healthier than normal.
Those dots all over the cake are powdered sugar that didn't get mixed in very well. Did I mention I lacked patience this weekend? It doesn't matter, there is only 1/2 a cake left, I sent a lot home with the in-laws after dinner last night. We had them over for steak and 'taters, salad and buttermilk biscuits. Everything but the steaks was from food storage.

Here is a shot of the kitchen lights, now that they are all up and running:
 Main lights are on a dimmer switch, something every kitchen needs.

Once the window trim is done, these will really stand out against the background. We are still debating on what kind of blinds we want. I'm leaning towards what we already have, adjusting the height/number of slats.

Enjoy your week, be productive.... or find the end to the internet. Again.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A great valentines dinner

Not that we celebrate a lot of holidays, or even saints like Valentine, but it's still nice to surprise one another. After 17 years, it's still the little things that usually make all the difference, and hopefully will work the same magic in another 20 years.

We are house and dog sitting, we don't have room for a dining room table this big.
 Pot roast, bell peppers, baked 'taters, salad, bread and some chocolate dipped strawberries. Little candy hearts on the place mats... how cute!
 The cork was a little brittle but once in a while you get to bust open a really good bottle of wine. 1996 Opus One, one of my favorites when I let myself drink. $120 a bottle 17 years ago, didn't look up a value for today, we just enjoyed something sitting around for a long, long time.
This isn't a wine, it's not really a port, it's hard to say exactly what it really is. It's from Santorini, Greece and a tablespoon after dinner makes you warm and fuzzy inside.

It's been a busy week, back on my game after being in Orlando. I've got a lot going on at work and at the gym. I've doubled my workout intensity and added some more for each night, it's paying off fast but it's very demanding. Trying to pick up more running and maintain the muscle I've gained is going to be really hard but I'm making a big effort.

I'm also craving chocolate sheet cake, I shouldn't have posted the recipe... I'll make one this weekend.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chocolate sheet cake

Since I'm not into the doom and gloom right now, and other negative aspects that can creep into life, here is an awesome recipe. It didn't transfer over from notepad very wall, but here it is anyhow.
It's not low fat, it might kill your arteries, but it's yummy. The finished texture should be a little heavier than normal cake but not brownie-like.
This is mother in-laws recipe that I've been using for years.


In large bowl sift together:         2 cups sugar
                                                    2 cups flour

Put in small sauce pan:         1 stick butter or margarine
  Bring to boil and pour        1/2 cup Crisco
  over flour sugar mixture    4 TBS. cocoa
                                             1 cup hot water

Add to above mixture:           1/2 cup buttermilk
                                              1 tsp. soda
                                              2 eggs well beaten
                                              1 tsp. vanilla

Batter will be thin!

CAUTION: use a newer sheet pan if available, or be sure it's greased & floured really well. You don't want it to stick.

Pour into well greased & floured 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" x 1' pan

Bake 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes, it cooks fast, test it like a normal cake but watch the edges.


5 minutes before cake is done

Put in large saucepan:                1 stick Butter or Margarine
      Bring to boil stirring            4 Tbs. Cocoa
                                                   6 Tbs. Milk (or so)

Remove from fire and Add:    1 box Powdered Sugar (about 2 cups, not sifted)                                                  1 tsp. Vanilla
                                                1 cup pecans chopped (optional but nobody likes nuts in cake.... right)

Stir (beat?) well and spread on warm cake with a knife, being careful not to press too hard.

CAUTION: Don't just dump the whole pan of icing in the middle of the warm I did the first time!  It will just make a giant hole in it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Goodbye Orlando

I'm glad to be going home, even if I somehow misread my itinerary 5 times and showed up to the airport 4 hours early. It beats the Monday morning traffic and security lines, so it's not all bad.

It was in the 80's, high humidity and just really nice weather. I ran everyday, getting the sweat pouring out of my body within a mile. I hit the resort gym once as well, of course it was empty, why would people want to be healthy on vacation. The pool was avoided but there were a lot of people sitting there with towels, wraps, etc. trying to cover up. If you are proud to stuff it in, be proud to look like you do. If you are sitting there in your shorts or biking and aren't comfortable with how you look, make a change. 

The convention was somewhat of a joke. There should have been a big line of cocaine when you walked in the doors. Many industry business owners wonder why they can't progress and grow, and yet they are they same people to run right over to the booth that has 'naughty nurses' handing out propaganda on direct mail. I just can't stand it, all the golfing, sports, booth babes, sexism, direct mail, stupid signage, etc. There was even a discussion by a large group of business owners, at one reception I attended, on if the country stars brooks and dunn and tim mcgraw were gay.... not about why they are failing to sell more, service more, support more, etc.

Part of me is very happy that 95% of the industry is like this, it's great for my pocket, but it's a horrible acidic taste in the customers mouth. It's not like information, for any product, isn't available... it's all over the internet. Consumers often know more than the salesperson, including how much they are willing to pay. Why not embrace this model, like we have, and give your customers a great experience instead of being so concerned about the price. If you grow your sales, you can grow the number of widgets in your area. If you have a lot of widgets in your area, you can take care of those same widgets (at reasonable prices) and keep the customer happy for the entire product life cycle.

Yup, just make a giant snowbank out of cocaine. I would welcome it, seeing people in horrible suits diving in and snorting it up. Just like the 80's.

I met with a dozen of my current vendors, thanked them for what they do, got/gave some advice, etc. I love to meet people in person, relationships mean a lot, it's not always about saving a few bucks or jumping ship to the newest latest thing. I often field 20 phone calls and easily 400+ emails a day from someone who has the perfect product. This convention is the same, thousands of booths all with the best idea ever. The industry won't change for another 10-15 years, then the old school people will have retired and people with broader thinking will have taken over.

In other news:
I just heard the words 'domestic terrorism' on the TV behind me. Nothing like stirring it up with a couple of words, have to keep the masses informed. Sort of like the security line I just went through. The TSA agent actually said that if you set anything on your laptop, once it's in the plastic bin, they have to re-run it... it's for your safety to not set anything on the laptop. My backpack is checkpoint friendly so I don't need to take it out, just unzip the bag and lay it out. Easy.
I did chuckle, the false sense of security lines make me just about throttle someone.

Oh, a development in the shooting in Chicago. What shooting? The one of the girl who sang in the presidents inauguration of course! There couldn't possibly be anything more important in Chicago than that, certainly no one else has been killed there in the last month. She was smart,  had a bright future, etc.... so only stupid no life people should be killed. What is wrong.... OH, it's the media, I forgot.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Orlando anyone?

I'm heading to Orlando in the morning for a few days. I figured if anyone is in the area and wants to grab lunch and BS, let me know.
The weather looks to be nice, 75-85 degrees, perfect for some nice long sea level runs. I also will be able to catch up on sleep.

There is also some work to be done, convention hustle and bustle.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The odds...

I made a facebook remark about the drone in the Alabama hostage situation. Just one little post. 30 minutes later I look out the window at work and there was a drone over the city going in for a landing at Peterson AFB.

I couldn't make this stuff up. I even had witnesses.

I mean how awesome is that. My next facebook remark will be about raining gold and silver bars. That might be my last post ever actually, umbrella might not work.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Good morning

Besides a party UFC fight night party for 12 people, cheesecake to die for, brownies from heaven... I didn't know what else happened this past weekend until I read the news.
I'm often just a little simplistic and isolated on Sundays.
I love looking in the new oven, watching the butter and shortening melt while the buttermilk biscuits are baking. It's only weird if I pull up a chair.
There are secrets to baking and good food, especially biscuits. You aren't making hockey pucks, be gentle and only knead a little bit. 3 tbs of shortening and butter (cold), cut into the flour so you have chunks in the dough. Flaky, amazing... and you can watch the chunks melt and absorb into the biscuits via. the oven window. I cut the biscuits with an aluminum can, very fancy.
You know you have food storage when every container you ever place on the table has an expiration date on it (even if syrup on biscuits isn't my thing). The towel is keeping the biscuits warm, the black tea is getting me going. We had a great Sunday morning breakfast together, sometimes it's all a couple needs to make life perfect.