November 18, 2009

Possum Fried Wonton’s

Filed under: Food — dann @ 1:51 pm

Man I love me some Wontons! Making them can be a bit tedious and quite time consuming, but still, they just fly off the plate and into your mouth. Here is how I do it:

You’re going to need wanton wrapper. They usually come in packs of 50 I believe at most grocery stores. I usually find them near the tofu in the produce section. You can get them at an asian grocer too and they may have different varieties and be cheaper. The Hamtpon Oriental Market sells them frozen in packs of 100 for a bit cheaper than the regular grocery stores around here.

I usually use Pork but sometimes I may use shrimp or a mixture of pork and shrimp. You can get ground pork or some pork loin and grind it yourself in a food processor. I fry that up in the wok or pan being careful to make sure it doesn’t clump together; a fork is helpful with this. Once it is good and cooked I’ll drain it and remove from the wok leaving a bit of fat in there.

I typically chop up some garlic, cabbage and mushrooms into very small pieces and grate a carrot and some ginger; careful to keep all components separate. I fire up the wok again and drop in the garlic for a few seconds and then add the cabbage and carrots. Stir fry that for a minute or so and then add the mushrooms. Another minute or so and I add to that the ginger and some soy sauce. Finally I readd the pork to mix it all together and toss in a pinch or two of chinese five spice powder.

Becareful not to use too much soysauce and make the mixture to wet. Regardless, after letting it cool you’ll want to drain off any liquid before filling the wantons.

This is when it starts to get a bit tedious, especially if you are making a lot of wontons. Follow the directions on the wrapper on how to fill and shape the wontons. Usually I get a small dish of water, lay the wonton down, dip my finger in the water and coat the edges of the wonton wrapper with the water. I put about a teaspoon of filling down, being careful not to overfill. Fold one corner to the opposite corner making a triangle. Press down the edges, pull the three corners in and pinch them togther. It’s that simple.

I head up some peanut oil in the wok or frying pan (you could probably use a deep fat fryer for this if you want). I typically use enough to cover the wonton’s about halfway. Drop the wontons in for a few minutes and then turn. I typcially fry them until they turn a light golden brown. Your taste may varry.

Serve with plum or duck sauce and enjoy!

November 16, 2009

Dann’s Chicken and Noodle Dashi

Filed under: Food — dann @ 11:27 am

I love to cook. For those who have listened faithfully to TLLTS the past year have probly heard me chopping and sizzling my way in the kitchen since my wife has been attending classes Wednesday nights. I love to cook Southeast Asian and South American cuisines the most. The colors, the different ingredients, all appeal to me. I can get lost for hours in the local Asian market, much to my daughters’ chagrin both who want to bolt within five minutes because it smells too fishy.

One of my favourite dishes is Dashi. Dashi is a type of broth made from shaved benito and seaweed. I usually make the dashi the night before starting with 5 cups of boiling water. To that I add a nice size chunk of Kombu and a packet of shaved benito flakes. You can get benito flakes at most upscale grocers like Wegmans or an oriental grocer. I prefer the package that comes with individually portitioned packets. Becareful to read the ingredients as some times they throw other flavorings and spices in there like MSG. I prefer my benito straight.

I let it all boil for a minute then turn off the heat to sit for anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour or whenever I feel like finally straining it. Discard the flakes and kombo, they have finished their duty imparting the flavor to the broth.

The next day I take some chicken thighs, usually one or two per person and chop them up into nice 1 inch pieces. I prefer thighs because I find them the sweetest part of the chicken. Just enough meat with some fat. I like cutting the meat from the bone myself. Some recipies have you remove the skin, but I like to keep it. That’s just me.

I also cut up some bokchoy into mouthful size pieces along with whatever else I feel like putting in at the time: Carrots, green onions, yellow onions, and always shitaki mushrooms. WIth the shatakis I remove the stem and score the caps with an “X” careful to not cut through the cap. Sometimes I will add a bit of lemon grass to give it a tart taste.

I usually prepare the noodles I am going to use. Sometimes chinese egg noodles, sometimes bean threads or maybe udon. Whatever catches my fancy that day. Prepare those as per the package, weigh on the under done side. While the noodles are cooking I usually prepare the rest.

I boil the dashi with 3 tbls of both Light and Dark Soy sauce. Sometimes I may add a dash of sugar to sweeten it or a few shots of Mirin. I throw the chicken in there for about 10 minutes. If I am using carrots I’ll throw those in about 7 minutes or so because they require a bit more cooking than the rest. If I am using lemon grass I will add that now so the flavor escapes. Crush it up a bit to release the oils.

After the chicken is cooked I’ll add the onions and green onions, bokchoy and shitaki’s for a few minutes. At this point I usually cover the pot for a bit until the added vegetables are finished. I make sure not to overdo the vegetables retaining some crunch.

Finally I add the noodles, take it off the head and mix it all up. Serve in bowls with chopsticks and damn is that some good eating. Make sure you remove the lemon grass before serving.

November 15, 2009

Bad Happenings Heaped On

Filed under: Life — dann @ 2:15 pm

A Nor’easter blew in Thursday morning halting just about everything in the Hampton Roads area including schools, my work and around 3:00 our power. That means the server was down. So if you went to and met with failure, that is why. We spent most of the day relaxing, catching up on sleep. Man, I slept more than the dog I think.

Friday was more of the same weather wise. No school and no work, the roads were flooded out. Still no power too, but it was daylight and we could actually do stuff. I set to cleaning out my office while the wife and kids cleaned the rest of the house. Man did I ever put a dent in that hell hole. It is actually presentable.

The wife went for a walk and learned that we should not expect power to be back on until after 10:00 p.m. on Saturday. So we made the call and arranged for the kids to go down to visit Grandma as we both had work the next day and did not want to leave them home with no power.

Luckily we did not have to drive the whole way. My sister-in-law met us just inside the North Carolina border a point only about 3.5 hours from us. That is when the most terrible of tragedies happened. About 10 minutes after we left the meeting point I went to pull up my Sansa Clip to play some Lonely Island when I noticed the audio cable was a bit tight, like it was caught on something. Yeah, it was caught on something alright, it was caught in the door. I recalled having a bit of trouble closing the door when I got out at the meeting point and thought it was the seat belt. Well I cracked the door and pulled up the audio cable with a broken tip and no Sansa. I was bummed.

Sad Dann, broken sansaI called my sister-in-law and we drove back to the meeting place which was her husband’s, mother’s house, fingers crossed the whole way, but alas, the clip was dead. It was found non-functional with a cracked screen in the driveway after we had pulled out. I was majorly bummed.

Well, we had some great discussions on the way back at least and to our surprise, the power was back on when we got home. Well, we shipped the kids off for nothing but on the bright side, the wife and I got to spend the weekend alone!

The power was on, but the cable was still out. Cable did not come back until some time Saturday night. We ended up having a great weekend just hanging around the house. I made mint meatballs on Saturday and then home made gnochi with a cream tomato sauce on Sunday. We watched I Am Legend, the first two episodes of V, and caught up on Daily Show, Robot Chicken, Venture Brothers and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Good times!

Tomorrow the wife has to go pick the kids up. That is a long trip for her, but at least she gets to see her mom. She’ll be back home Tuesday which leaves me all by lonesome tomorrow night. Maybe I will do something techie.

November 9, 2009

Huarache Trail Run

Filed under: running,Technology — dann @ 10:37 am

This weekend I got to take my Huaraches off road for some trail running. Saturday was a nice morning run on Trillium at Sandy Bottom National Park in Hampton. The leaves had blanketed the ground making it very tough to see what I was running on and believe me, running over a root is not very comfortable. Still the Huaraches held up very well and running barefoot like this would have been extremely difficult. I made the loop plus some for about 4.5 miles if I recall correctly. I really enjoy Sandy Bottom, there is little traffic and a lot of wild life.

Sunday morning I hit the trails around Noland park, a five mile loop. About 5.2 or so if you make sure to take all the extensions. Noland is usually pretty busy, but that early in the morning I was surprised how little traffic there was. After completing the first look I decided to do another in reverse. Believe me, but the 8th mile, my feet were hurting; but I managed to make it non-stop.

Noland has the added benefit of hills, which is something you don’t get much of in this area. But their hills are also accompanied by stops where strips of grating have been placed to reduce errosion. It can be a jarring run if you are not careful There were fewer roots to content with but a few spots where the path was covered in broken oyster shells. Lucikly I could run in the grass along the side.

I don’t think I will make 10 mile runs a regular event just yet. I still need to build up a bit more. Probably drop back to 7 or 8 for a bit until I get my feet and calves up to speed.

Finally, I somehow destroyed my phone in the ordeal. I put my phone in my bag with a nice large tub of vaseline to prefent chafing and nipple burn and my water bottle. At the end of the run the phone would no longer recognize the sim card, which was ruined (I got a replacement) and now the keys don’t work right. I’m not sure what did it? The water did not seem to leak. Was it just getting knocked around? Was it drenched in my sweat? Who knows. I hope to have a replacement by tomorrow (insurance plan hooray!).

Alas, I we were offered a phone upgrade at the AT&T store but that would lock us into another 18 month contract. Our contract is up in July and I’d rather jump to Verizon or something and get an Android phone. No way I am dropping bucks on an iPhone.

November 6, 2009

Mythbuntu Upgrade, Sansa Clip and Spam

Filed under: Life,Linux/FOSS — dann @ 10:28 am

My Insignia player died – boohoo. It started faltering about two weeks ago when I noticed it was not playing certain ogg files. The the other day the voices on the audio track were serverly low. Most of the melody and percussion were fine but the voice track was almost inaudible. This made it incredibly diffcult to listen to podcasts.

I got permission from the wife and ordered a 2gb sansa clip off newegg for $39.99. It’s a small black player about 2.5 inches tall and 2 inches wide – about half the size of the insignia. It weigh about half as much too. That is probably the most difficult thing to get used to, it’s dimensions and weight. Holding it is rather odd because so light.

Navigation with the device is great and I like how it saves the positon of each file you play. So if I want to stop a podcast and listen to music I can go right back to that podcast where I left off.

Speaking of podcasts, I like how it allows for a separate podcast and music directory. That makes going to what I want all the easier.

Thus far, I give the sansa clip 2 thumbs up, a great purchase.

Today I decided to upgrade my mythbuntu from hardy to intrepid. Yeah, I’m way behind, I know. The upgrade was pretty smooth but my old xconfiguration did not work. That was a simple run of nvidia-xconfiguration and I was back in action. Soon I will upgrade to jaunty and then probably karmic. Whoohoo!

Finally, spam is just getting out of hand. I’m glad there are many tools for dealing with it, but man does it make using the interwebs and running services problematic. The amount of spam we were getting on the tllts laconica server was ridiculous. I’ve implemented some more measures to handle this and so far they have held up.

People take a good thing and destroy it all in the hopes of making a buck. Damn, oh damn!

November 3, 2009

When You Screw Up It Stinks, Make Sure You Got People!

Filed under: Life,Linux/FOSS — dann @ 11:46 am

When the person who usually fixes the problems causes a big one it really stinks. That was my mistake at work today. I pushed some code to production expecting things to go as normal only it did not. And lo was I to behold 10 minutes later my mistake when payments started failing. That is a very stressful feeling when you are under gun to find the problem and fix it. Not a fun thing to do. But one point is paramount, you have to admit you mistake and let it be known and fix it.

The problem was simple, the fix was quick but 20 minutes had gone by and there were 133 payments afterwards to adjust manually on my part. Regardless when my work was finished it was in the hands of the account managers to work with the customers. That my friends is where it is most important to cultivate relationships.

More often than not “techie” people are categorized as anti-social and at times socially hostile. While there is some truth to that, it behooves each individual, techie or not, to learn and implement proper social skills. When the time comes that you mess up big time, thoes relationships will pay off as your team will have your back. You can depend on them as they have come to depend on you and you can tap those relationships to help you out of a bind with as little negative impact as possible. When a mistake makes everyone’s life more difficult, having solid, supportive relationships that you have built will get you and everyone else through with as little damage as possible.

Do not neglect those around you my friends, and practice friendliness and humility. It pays off in the long run!

October 19, 2009

First Haurache Run

Filed under: running — dann @ 6:03 pm

Today I finally got to take my haurache sandals out for a run and it was very interesting. You don’t get that same feel of the surfaces as you do with barefeet but you can feel the textures of the ground, particularly when running of pebbles and such. I find myself not paying as much attention to the road in front of me because of this and I’m not sure that is a good thing. I noticed I had to focus on my form a bit more as I tended to sway back to old habits.

I Hope to try mixing it up a bit by going barefoot for a distance and then putting on the haurache’s. I cannot wait to take these on a trail run.

October 16, 2009

Walmart – wtf?

Filed under: Life — dann @ 7:30 am

Last Saturday I was checking out at Walmart. I was looking for a place to set some frozen pizzas so they would not get crushed. I was in the aisle with the soda coolers and looking on top of the cooler I found two chicken wing bones. I thought to myself: “Of course!” I mean come on! It’s Walmart! What do you expect?

Case in point, take a look at People of Walmart for more validation of this sentiment.

But then I got to thinking… In any other store, had I found chicken bones I would have been appalled and considered never shopping there again. Now I will say given the amount of traffic that goes through the Walmart I usually shop and that they are open 24/7 I have to say they do a pretty darn good job keeping the place clean. But then again, is it the actual store that is appalling or a segment of the people shopping there? Do I want to shop in a store people treat like a garbage can?

Sure Walmart is synonymous with cheap, mass-produced, imported goods from a company that undercuts the local mom and pop establishments. But if you are going to shop there, at least show some respect for the employees and the people of your neighborhood.


October 13, 2009

Home Made Huaraches

Filed under: running — dann @ 10:15 pm

my huarachesWhoohoo! My Huarache kit came today and I set about getting me some fancy footwear. The 4mm Cherry Vibram sole is wicked! Man was it a chore to cut out though. I used a utility knife and it had me sweating like a pig.

I admit I was impatient and did not wait to go to the store to get some hole punches, so I set to cutting some holes myself. That was the worst. I think the next time I do this I will definetly have hole punches; that took longer than tracing the foot, cutting the vibram and stringing the leather laces.

Well for a first time try they are interesting. They may look a bit crappy but hell, I did it baby!

If you are interested in trying to make a pair yourself you can get kit over at Barefoot Ted’s shop. Kits range from $25 to $35 US or you can buy custom made huaraches starting at $60. If you elect to go with the kit make sure you get the right size sheet of vibram. They come in 9×11″ or 11×12″

Have a good run!

October 11, 2009

Bad News, Sad News, Good News

Filed under: Life,Technology — dann @ 8:54 pm

Well the sad news is that my boss of the last three years is leaving the company to take a job in Kansas. Not only was he a great boss but he was probably the best software engineer I have ever met. This guy was a coding god and it was great to learn under him. I wish him the best of luck in the future but I know where ever he ends up, he’s gonna do a bang up job.

The bad news, well, it’s not that bad really, but the division in my company that I work for has been transferred to another division. In the process of doing this, the shared resources we a lotted from our team to the original division are not coming with us. We lost two engineers, two web developers, a top level manager and our system administrator. It sucks losing team members like this. Even more, we are being moved from the 16th to the 13th floor. Uh-oh! Unlucky 13.

On the flip side to this, that means the remaining engineer and myself have to step up and take the project over. That means doing it our way, the way we think it should be done with hopefully some guidance. Had my manager not taken the job in Kansas we would have lost him anyway in the move. Alas, it is sink or swim for us and we aim to finally take the project to the next level.

Now the good news! Erin is being laid off! Why is that good news? Well that is going to force her to get her Massage Therapist Certification all the sooner, no dilly-dallying around; not that I think she would have. She has until mid-November to get things cleared away on that end and then hopefully she will roll right into her new career full time or with a bit of a break.

The tough thing about her leaving her job is that she already does Massage Therapy work as a grad student level in the clinic at the school she went to an has the opportunity to work in their partner saloon. But until she gets certified she really cannot work anywhere else nor get paid the full salary. Thus, we have to be careful how many hours she works like this after she gets laid off or she cannot get supplemental un-employment until she finds a full time gig. That would be a serious hit to our income which stinks. I need me monies! I am falling behind on comic books and computer equipment!

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