I’ve been stranded alone in my house for a full week now, after Donette flew out to KC to spend some time with family and friends. (KC? In January? Yeah I tried to point out the flaws inherent to that plan, but was ignored as always.) Well, I guess I’m not technically alone; I’ve got these two idiot puppies to keep me company. And keep me company they do, whether wanted or not. They are both rather high maintenance for lil’ things. Overall I’ve been pretty bored, but I did get out of the house and have some fun on a few occasions. Saturday was particularly notable, in fact. My friends picked me up and we headed out for some rather random adventure. We didn’t have much of a plan, so we kind of made one up as we headed due west out of town. The first destination was easy; It was noon, so lunch was in order. After a brief discussion (and finding a few of our first picks closed,) we ended up at Marlene & Glen’s Diner in Plymouth. I like to go there every now and then… It has character, not to mention calories. It also has about two dozen health code violations at any given moment, but I can overlook that for a good turkey melt. After a meal, we ended up going directly across the street to Prospect Cellars, one of our favorite wine tasting rooms. For being a favorite, we don’t get there very often, so it’s always enjoyable when we actually make it. Don’t want to wear any places out, you know. It was good as always, and as we were leaving one of the ladies suggested we try 24 Brix just down the street… And our second destination was decided. We gave it a thumbs up, or at least it is worth a second visit sometime in the future. From there, we made a little longer drive to Jackson for some grocery shopping at the vaunted Schwingle Meat Company, aka The Carnivore’s Toy Store. It is quite a place, definitely worth a visit if you come out this way some time. I picked up way more than I intended, it’s easy to get carried away. Meanwhile my friend Michael engaged in a rather amusing conversation with the girl behind the counter. He needed some pork to throw on the smoker for the games Sunday, and it stands to reason that theirs would be wonderful, and as a bonus inexpensive. They went back and forth for at least a good ten minutes; He’d ask a question, she’d open the door to the back and yell it at the butcher, then relay the answer. After a painfully lengthy repetition of this process, he decides “I’ll have a six pound bone-in shoulder.” She hollers back through the doors again, and then comes back to report “We don’t have any right now.” Nice. OK scratch the pork. We found plenty of goodies they DID have though, so we threw them in the cooler and took off for nearby Sutter Creek. We didn’t do much there, just kind of looked around at all the fun stuff. It’s a nice little town. From there we drove back closer to home, ending up in Shingle Springs at one of our favorite haunts to watch the evening football game. None of us had a particular interest in the game, we just kind of hung out and enjoyed the day. All in all, a fine way to enjoy a weekend afternoon. I’m a little light on pictures this week it seems, but I found a few.
I guess the new year is here, ready or not. I suppose I am obligated to come up with some resolutions? If so I had better get on it, because I don’t have any yet. Somebody sent me this list the other day:
- Cut down trees in the woods and hand make a log cabin couch.
- Attend Harvard business school stage 1.
- Read 24 books. Business, phycology/sociology, relationships, communication, negotiation, leadership.
- Attend MIT Sloan business school stage 2.
- Start a new company, Water-Core inc. to provide shower systems to homeless in cities.
Uh yeah, wow. Mine probably won’t be quite so… “ambitious.” Try not get fired? Remember to feed the dogs? More along those lines. If I DID make a list, one of them would probably be “visit some new local breweries.” Check that one off, we did that Saturday. Gee, this resolution stuff is easy. We used to go to the breweries around here every now and then, but haven’t been to any in a long time. Not in 2019, I am sure. So, I wrote up a little trip plan and we headed out around noon Saturday. First stop was Burning Barrel, just down the hill in Rancho Cordova. I didn’t NOT like it, but honestly my favorite thing we tried there was the pizza from the food truck outside. The brews weren’t bad, but the pizza was great. Next stop was Claimstake, also in Rancho. Most in the group insisted we’d all been there before, but I don’t recall that being the case. One of the benefits of having a poor memory, everything is new. OK, it DID look a little familiar, but then again they all look pretty much the same. From there, it was on to two of my favorites, New Glory and then Device. My goal was trying only new places, but then again I like sticking to the known good spots so I mixed these in. Can’t go wrong with either of them, I definitely liked them better than the first two. All in all, a successful day; The group agreed we need to plan another tour, in the opposite direction. We’ll see if we ever get around to it.
Man I am all out of sorts. Since I posted about Christmas last time, I feel obligated to title this one “New Years.” As I was reading somewhere the other day, the holidays will get a person all messed up. Don’t know what day it is, don’t know what is about to happen or has already happened… It’s just chaos. I cannot in good conscience post a recap my awesome NYE party though, because as far as I know it hasn’t happened. And honestly, very likely won’t. I’m holding out hope though.
As for Christmas, it was a good one. We even put up “the tree” this year, which is just about as festive as we feel compelled to get. We also hosted the “Christmas-Day-Eve” dinner at out house. We usually join in the fun at our friends the James’ holiday celebrations out here, so every now and then we try and host one of the events at our house. Always a great time, but wow do they have a big group. We ended up with 25 plates, and that doesn’t even count a few random little-uns I saw running around. A crowd that size takes just a little more preparation than I am used to, but luckily we were able to call in some help. I broke out both the briskets I cooked last weekend, and that covered the main dish, if barely. (Side note – I reheated them with my sous vide cooker; Fantabulous. That is the way to go.) We also made a huge pot of beans, and a bunch of delicious sides and appetizers showed up. And desserts… Oh my. I was all happy that nearly all the food was eaten, and then after everyone left we had an entire counter full of cookies, candy, popcorn, pies… Good grief. Let’s just say our diet hasn’t been real healthy the last several days.
Here’s a dish we whipped up Sunday night, off Food Network. Short ribs were on sale at the store, and it’s been pretty wintery outside, so it sounded like a solid plan. It came out pretty darn good! I’d say I followed the recipe relatively closely; I used fresh linguine for the pasta, because I don’t even know what taglia-whatever is. I didn’t use the chocolate either, because that just sounds weird.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces chopped pancetta (about 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 pounds short ribs
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup red wine
1 pound fresh or dried tagliatelle
4 to 6 teaspoons shaved bittersweet chocolate
Place the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Cook the
pancetta until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and pulse. Once the short ribs are browned, carefully add the mixture from the food processor to the pot. Return the pancetta to the pot and stir. Add the rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, beef broth, and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another hour and a half, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat and bones from the pot. Discard the bones. Shred the meat and return it to the pot. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta and 2 to 3 minutes for fresh. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pot and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, if needed, to moisten the pasta. Transfer to serving bowls, top each bowl with 1 teaspoon of chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.
Well, my website is back up. For how long, I cannot say. If you didn’t notice it was down… It was. Quite broken. It’s been kind of sketchy for some time, and after my Big Christmas Upgrade of 2019, it finally just “went away.” No errors, just a shiny white page where my years and years (hours and hours? minutes and minutes?) of work were previously displayed. A good bit of ciphering later, it came back. It seems to have something to do with rebooting my fancy web server. The optimal resolution here would seem to be “never, ever reboot,” but unfortunately that just isn’t quite practical.
And what else have we been doing, outside of learning to restore sql databases? Well, not a whole lot. Shipping out some Christmas presents, getting a few Christmas presents, the holiday norm. Saturday I got the always-exciting joy of firing up my smoker and cooking the Christmas briskets. I went with a new plan, and for once it worked out. That afternoon we joined some friends for a big-screen showing of Christmas Vacation at a nearby theater, and after that around town for some generic holiday cheer. When we got home in the early evening, I fired up the smoker, put on two briskets… And went to bed. Gasp. I am starting to get enough faith in that thing that it can be left unattended for quite some period of time. Naturally, I woke up around 3:00 in a mad panic that the holiday meal was ruined, but upon dashing outside in my shorts and bare feet found it quite steadily cooking away. Indeed, it ran just fine until around 8:30, when it finally ran out of fuel. Like magic, I tell ya’. Initial sampling of the brisket indicates positive results, I’ll be hoping for the best Wednesday at dinner.