Archive for February 2015

Steak and Asparagus Stir Fry

February 27, 2015

2015-02-26 19.07.45Last night, Paula and I were talking about what to do for dinner. We had some thin cut steaks in the refrigerator. They were a bit thin for cooking on the Foreman Grill and we don’t have a gas BBQ grill (forbidden by our condo rules). So I suggested doing a stir fry. In our house, he (or she) who proposes, disposes.

So here’s what I did. I cut the steaks into half inch strips and put them in a bowl. I added about 3Tbs of Worcestershire sauce, 3Tbs of Terriyaki sauce and 3 Tbs of Balsamic vinegar (to tenderize). I let the meat marinate in the bowl for about 45 minutes.

Then I sliced a medium onion and added it to the frying pan. Add 3 Tbs of Olive oil and the onions. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the meat mixture and cook for about 10 minutes. I then added a package of frozen asoaragus (just happened to have the frozen asparagus on hand). If we had fresh, I would have used it. Cook another 10 minutes,

Finally I added a Tbsp of flour to thicken the sauce in the frying pan.

2015-02-26 19.07.50Meanwhile, just before all this started I put on a box of Near East Rice Pilaf to cook which takes about 25 minutes. Serve the steak and asparagus over the rice.

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General Tso’s Chicken

February 23, 2015


So, inquiring minds want to know. Who was General Tso and why did he have a chicken dish named after him? I was having a conversation with my daughter-in-law Theresa about Chinese food (of the American variety) in general and General Tso’s chicken in particular.

According to Wikipedia, General Tso probably refers to Tso Tsung-t’ang who was a Chinese statesman and military leader in the late Qing Dynasty. He was born in 1812 and died in 1885.

He served in China’s northwestern regions, quelling the Dungan revolt and various other disturbances. There doesn’t seem to be any particular connection to him. The roots of the dish seem to lie in the post-1949 exodus of Chinese chefs to America. So the answer is no, the General did not actually eat this excellent dish.

Here’s the full Wikipedia entry on General Tso’s Chicken.

Now for some of the recipes. There are tons of recipes to be found. Here are just a few. (Click on the hyperlink).

From Food.com

From Allrecipes.com

From SeriousEats.com

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

February 20, 2015
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Entrance to the library/museum

Yesterday, Paula and I visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. The trip was organized by San Pedro Assistance League. We had a bus full of people make the hour and a half trip. This is my report. Simi Valley is located about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.

I am no particular fan of Ronald Reagan. There are those that would have him considered for sainthood. Not me. That being said, I still found the museum interesting. The museum covers the high points. You won’t see much about Iran Contra for example.

Our group of 40 something seniors were divided up into four groups and each group was assigned to our individual docent. I had trouble at times hearing partly because she couldn’t seem to speak loud enough and partly due to background noise.

There is also an app you can down either for iOS or Android. The app is sort of a self guided tour. Unfortunately, it is not free. ($2,99 I think).

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Bust of Ronald Reagan

There are plenty of statues of the former president. Here is one of them. There were many more. The library tried to cover the high points of the presidency.

There is a section on the white house along with a replica of the oval office as it was during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

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The “HMS Resolute” Desk

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Fireplace with portrait of George Washington.

 

 

There is an entire section dedicated to presidential travel. There is are many limousines. Some of the limousines belonged to other heads of state including Saddam Hussein, FDR, Eisenhower, Eva Peron to name a few. I’m not sure why all of the limos are there. There is an Air Force One and a Marine One helicopter. We were allowed to enter both aircraft but not allowed to take pictures. The Air Force One of Reagan’s time was a modified C130 (military version of the Boeing 707). It was pretty cramped inside. It’s no wonder that current Air Force One’s are based on Boeing 747’s. N27000 was in service until 2001 when it was replaced by the Boeing 747.

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Marine One

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Air Force One

Here are some of the pictures of the limo’s.

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Popemobile

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Eva Peron’s Ride

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FDR’s Limo

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Presidential Limo (License Plate “GIPPER”)

There was a big section on the Berlin wall and the diplomacy initiatives with the Soviet Union. Lots of pictures of Gorbachev and other world leaders of the era. There were some artifacts of the wall as well as replicas.

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Wall segment as seen from the east.

 

There are also sections covering First Lady Nancy Reagan along with some of her gowns. There is a section covering the assassination attempt in 1981. Our final stop for the day was the Reagan Library Cafe. They had some excellent split pea soup. Paula and I also split a piece of chocolate torte. Very tasty. That’s enough for now. If you want more you can Google Ronald Reagan Library. There is tons of stuff available online.

Sausage Lasagna

February 17, 2015

2015-02-17 13.30.44Tuesday evening is we have Mike and his family over for dinner. That means that on Monday morning Paula and I are scratching our heads figuring out what to serve. Yesterday, we decided to do Lasagna. We hadn’t done that in a while. Sometimes we do a baked zitti sort of dish. Same ingredients except using zitti instead of lasagna noodles. Sometimes, I do the cooking, sometime Paula. Lasagna is my dish, so I do the cooking this time.

So without further ado, here is my recipe for baked lasagna.

Ingredients

2 jars of pasta sauce. We tend to like the various “Paul Newman” sauces. Today we used a jar of his “Sockaroonie” and jar of tomato basil. Choose what you like. I guess I’m too lazy to bother doing my own sauce from scratch. So sue me.

1 medium onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, diced

3 Tbsp Olive oil

1 12 oz package of ground sausage meat. There are usually several variations available at the market. One of these days I will try making with the hot spicy sausage variant.

1 15 oz container of ricotta cheese (we usually get the “light” variety made with skim milk)

1 egg

1 package of grated mozzarella cheese. I think it is the 2 c size. (ditto on the “Light” variety)

1 package of lasagna noodles. Here’s the thing that annoys me. The one pound package gives you more pasta than you can use to fill a 9″x13″ pan. 1/2 the package is not enough. So I count out about 15-16 pieces of lasagna pasta and save the rest for later.

Directions

  1. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Occasionally, I’ve seen suggestions on how to do no-boil lasagna. Don’t do it. It sucks. Boil the pasta. No shortcuts. Drain in a colander.
  2. Saute’ the onions and garlic in a large skillet. When the onions and garlic are translucent, add the sausage meat. Cook until the sausage is cooked through.
  3. Add one of the jars of sauce and stir.
  4. In a medium size bowl, mix the egg and the ricotta. The egg makes for a texture that is easier to spread onto the noodles.
  5. Now for the putting all together part. Spray a 9″x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.
  6. Put a layer of sauce (from the other jar that didn’t go into the meat). then add a layer of noodles.
  7. Add a layer of the meat sauce and then add a layer of about 1/2 the ricotta mixture.
  8. Put down the second layer of noodles and repeat with the second half of the meat sauce. Add the rest of the ricotta.
  9. Another layer of noodles. Now add a layer of the sauce without the meat. Add a layer of the mozzarella.
  10. Now put down the final layer of noodles. Add the rest of the sauce. Add the rest of the mozzarella.

One of the nice things about this dish is that one can do all of the prep work early and then just put in the oven when your guests are due to arrive. Indeed, tonight I won’t even be there since I will be at a Shrine club meeting. Lasagna tastes better as leftovers anyway. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Zucchini

February 16, 2015

no zucchiniTime to tell a story. Today we were at the supermarket. This particular market starts you off at the produce section (after you’ve stopped at the Starbuck’s). These days there are lots of fruits and vegetables to choose from. But there is one vegetable that I will absolutely not eat. Zucchini.

Paula knows that I do not like zucchini. To paraphrase the imitable Dr Seuss, I will not eat zucchini at home, I will not eat it at a restaurant. I will not eat it at lodge. I will not eat zucchini boiled, fried, sauteed, etc.

There are other green vegetables that have been famously disliked. George HW Bush was famous for his dislike of Broccoli. He once famously said:

I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.

That didn’t make the Broccoli Growers’ Association very happy. But I digress, back to the subject at hand, zucchini.

This is my story on how I came to dislike zucchini. Back in the day, before I had met Paula, love of my life. mother of my children (we’re talking early 1970’s here folks) I came to be living with a women who shall remain nameless. So this young woman had a fondness for having a home garden.

I am an engineer by trade and never particularly cared much for bothering with growing things. So one fine summer, My POSSLQ (an acronym coined by the US Census bureau to mean “Person Of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters”) started a home garden. One of her crops was zucchini.

And while we are talking about POSSLQ’s, here is a poem by Charles Osgood:

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands and crystal brooks
With silken lines, and silver hooks.
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
If you would be my POSSLQ.

You live with me, and I with you,
And you will be my POSSLQ.
I’ll be your friend and so much more;
That’s what a POSSLQ is for.

And everything we will confess;
Yes, even to the IRS.
Some day on what we both may earn,
Perhaps we’ll file a joint return.
You’ll share my pad, my taxes, joint;
You’ll share my life – up to a point!
And that you’ll be so glad to do,
Because you’ll be my POSSLQ.

We had a prolific crop of zucchini. By August, we had way too much zucchini. We couldn’t give the stuff away. If you don’t harvest zucchini in time, it will continue to grow and grow and grow. It will soon grow to be the size of a watermelon. There are only so many ways that one can cook zucchini, but it is still zucchini. Overripe zucchini gets very big and very tough. Think consistency of a two by four.

So as our relationship began to sour as it did that summer, I began to link my dislike for overripe zucchini with my former POSSLQ. So for me there will be no Zucchini, EVER.

The Theory of Everything

February 14, 2015

I’m on a roll here folks. Last week, Paula, Mary and I went to see “The Theory of Everything” starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. This is the opposite of date night. This is the night where we take my mother-in-law to the movies. This is the true story of Dr Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane Wilde discover that Dr Hawking has the incurable disease ALS.

everythingThe movie starts before the onset of the disease and through the time when he discovers the disease. The movie gives us a brief glimpse of Stephen Hawking’s life.

Once again the set direction is outstanding. You feel that you have been transported back in time to the 50’s and 60’s. Eddie Redmayne nails his characterization of Hawking. I kept thinking, How’d he do that. One actually believes that you are watching Hawking. Amazing.

Theory of Everything has been nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress.

We’re trying to make it through all of the Oscar nominated films but I don’t think that we will make it. Sigh.

Once again, great film, Go see it.

The Imitation Game

February 14, 2015

Last night, Paula and I went out for date night to see “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. This is the true story of Alan Turing who was a gifted mathematician during WWII. Turing was responsible for the cracking of the German Enigma Code machine. He had created a computing machine that eventually could decode the imitation gameGerman transmissions.

The title refers to what is also known as the “Turing Test” where a human being and a computer are located behind a screen. Then a person asks questions of the person and the computer and tries to determine which is the computer and which is the person. It is the gold standard for artificial intelligence. IBM’s “Watson” is considered to be on the leading edge of artificial intelligence.

Anyways, the story begins with Turing applying for a job at Bletchley Park. Turing begins designing and building a computing machine to decode the German transmission. Decoding by hand up until that time was not making any progress. The code setting were changed every night at midnight.

Cumberbatch does a wonderful job of portraying Turing. You actually believe that he is Allan Turing. I was amazed at the set decoration. You feel that you have been transported back in time to war time Britain.

Allan Turing committed suicide in 1954 after being prosecuted by the British for being a homosexual. He recently received a posthumous pardon from Queen Elizabeth II in 2013, along with a formal apology from Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Keira Knightley plays Joan Clarke who is another gifted mathematician. She worked with Turing in Hut 8 at Bletchley Park. The movie depicts her troubles finding acceptance with a society that felt that a woman’s place was in the home, not working decoding Nazi messages.

So “Imitation Game” has been nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director. It seems that actors today seem to be less likely to change their names to something more pleasant to the ear. Back in the day, you would have Roy Scherer Jr changing his name to Rock Hudson or Marion Robert Morrison changing his name to John Wayne.

Outstanding movie. Go see it. Coming next, review of “The Theory of Everything”