Saturday, February 25, 2006

Low hanging clouds of smoke and fire alarms

A few weeks ago, my Food Network newsletter had a bunch of pizza recipes and I caught an Emeril cooking show where he made some pizzas. I got the bug and decided to make a pizza.

I downloaded a recipe for a Roasted Garlic White pizza which sounded really good and Friday evening, I set off to make it. It was a whole pizza from scratch, roasting the garlic and making the sauce and crust.

I've made pizzas in the past and not had successes with the crust. I've had them grow larger than I expected and stick to the towel covering them, but I was sure this was going to be different. I had just watched Emeril do it!

The sauce tasted great (garlic and a touch of cayenne pepper for some spice) and the garlic roasted up nice. But the crust was not good.

At first, it was too moist and sticky. I got it to not stick to me, the board I was rolling it out on and finally got it on the pizza peel and assembled the pizza. Fresh mozzarella, fontia cheese, crumbled bacon - boy, I was getting excited for it.

I got ready to slide it into the oven and on to the pre-heated stone and I couldn't get it off the pizza peel. I called Heather for help and we got some spatulas to help slide it off. But the crust was too delicate. It was mangled.

Then, in the very hot oven, cheese began to melt and run off. A chunk of crust had broken off and was burning on the bottom of the oven. We pulled out the racks and pulled out the crust, but the damage was already done. Smoke was pouring out of the oven. On the good side, it imparted a nice smoky flavor to the pizza.

On the bad side, it filled the whole house with smoke. The smoke alarms were going off, eyes were burning, it was terrible.

The mangled pizza cooked up okay and in the end, it tasted very good, but it just wasn't the eating experience that I like to have.

I've got to figure out how to make a good crust or just cheat and buy a pre-made crust.

Today, the oven is on clean cycle and the piercing smoke alarms have been going off again. I got them shut off before Heather got home and to my surprise, she brought me a scale model of a MINI Cooper to help make up for the bad dining experience. She's the greatest!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I now know why they don't stop

Since moving here to Washington, both my wife and I have noticed that people don't pull over for emergency vehicles. I've confirmed my observations with other California transplants as well.

The first time I almost got run over when I slowed down for an ambulance, I assumed that maybe the law was different in Washington. In California, U-turns are allowed, except where they are expressly prohibited. On the other hand, in Washington, U-turns are illegal except where the sign says you can make them. But not pulling over for emergency vehicles, come on. That had to be the same.

This morning, on my drive to work, I now understand why.

This was on the back end of a police cruiser (yes, I just busted out my camera at the interstection and took a picture of the cop car - Copwatch, call me if you need me). The only time you see it is once the cruiser has passed you, which won't happen if you don't pull over. If they want to make a reminder like that, it has to go on the front of the car and printed in reverse. Now it is perfectly clear - they want you to pull over, but haven't been able to get in front of everybody to tell them that.

Funny thing, I saw another sticker just like this on a Jeep Cherokee with fire department stickers on it at the grocery store this evening.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

February MINI drive

On Saturday, Alec, Chase and I went for a drive with Puget Sound MINI. It was a lot of fun - we started in Auburn and tooled around some curvy roads there and then took some backroads through some small towns, through Tiger Mountain and ultimately into Issaquah to XXX Root Beer (one of the last in the country).

It was a lot of fun to get to meet other MINI owners and see their cars. The drive was fun, because I got to see new parts of Washington and as it was a clear day, the views of Mount Rainer were great.

I recorded the route with my GPS and saved it with photos in Google Earth. Check it out! Playing the route isn't the same as driving in a MINI, but you get the idea of where we went. There are pictures embedded as placemarks along the way.

Why does it always happen at night?

Why do kids always get sick in the middle of the night?
Why does the smoke alarm back up battery always die in the middle of the night (and then it chirps every two minutes until you replace the battery)?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Girl's Prosthetic Leg Stolen a Second Time

Girl's Prosthetic Leg Stolen a Second Time

There is something wrong when somebody steals some one's prosthetics. It is akin to knocking over a guy in a wheelchair or not holding the door for a blind person.

But when it happens a second time? Somebody is just messing with her.

It's just wrong. It's not like somebody else could use them? Is there another 16 year old girl missing a leg - who miraculously has a new one the next day?

Not right.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lazy Saturday

This weekend is going great! Saturday morning had a very nice start to it and the weather was great. So, while Chase was at swim practice, Heather, Alec, Parker and I went for a walk in downtown Issaquah.

We walked down a trail from the pool and community center down to Front Street. Along the way, we saw some modern art and a whole lot of pregnant ladies, which are art themselves.

There is an inactive rail line in Issaquah and it looks like they've made a small train museum out of it and Alec and Parker enjoyed playing on the train tracks. Hopefully, they know the difference between real tracks and old tracks.

As we walked back to the pool, to pick up Chase, we stopped at the Fisher Brothers Butcher and bought some beef jerky and German hunter's sausage. Again, that place is so cool.

We headed to lunch at Su Casa, which has been recommended to us as the best Mexican restaurant in Issaquah. It was pretty good. It is a family run place - we were seated by the daughter, who really knew her stuff. They were out of the kids menu, but she was able to tell us what was on it and make recommendations for our kids. As to the grown ups, the food was very good and the plates very large. I'd have to agree the restaurant was very good.

We headed home and were trying to figure out how to spend the rest of the afternoon. With the great weather we've been having, the peaks in the Cascades have been calling to me. They must have been calling to Heather too because she said that she wanted to go to a road that we can see on a mountain side.

The road is pretty distinctive and I'd found it on some topo maps I had bought, so we headed out for a Saturday drive. It was great, we took some small backroads (202, Tolt Hill Road, 203) which took us to Highway 2. We headed down Highway 2 towards Skykomish and then to some National Forest Roads. Very quickly we got into thick trees and one lane dirt roads. It was great to get off the pavement onto dirt. Since it is still wintertime, the road soon became a trail (really ruts in the snow). As we got to the intersection where the road started heading up the hillside to where we can see it from our house, it hadn't been traveled enough to have ruts, I decided that we should turn around. The map did show that it probably wasn't passable too far, because it was shown as a seasonal road (and the winter season was "winter activities/snowmachines").

At the turnaround point, there were several cars parked. We had arrived as one guy was putting his cross country skis on top of his car to head home and another guy (in running shorts) came running down the trail we had wanted to drive up. Definite hard core winter people.

It was ironic, because the kids had come straight from swim practice, still wearing flip-flops. Parker was wearing shorts. But I wasn't going to do anything stupid and get us stuck - I've been stuck enough in Alaska.

We turned around and instead of heading home, we went to Steven's Pass, hoping to see sunset. The mountains are high enough around the road that there wasn't much sunset to see, so we stopped at the ski area for dinner. Again, funny looks from the skiers in their snow gear and my kids in shorts and flip-flops.

After dinner we headed back, through the small towns and back roads of Washington. All in all, it was a great drive - about 4 hours and 159 miles. I'm so happy Heather got the "let's go there" bug. I really like being so close to the outdoors here in Washington, it is a great place.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cooking themes

Two weeks ago, I decided to have a theme for the dinners that week. I chose Comfort Foods. It kind of started with the contribution of the Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes at our dinner with Roger and Gina.
Monday night was mushroom risotto.
Tuesday night was Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese. The kids really like it, even though 1) it is spicy and 2) it isn't Kraft from the box.
Wednesday night was polenta and grilled sausages.
Thursday night was lasagne.
Friday was back to the usual friday night pizza.

But it continued. For my birthday, I received a crepe pan and a grill pan with panini press. So all this week, I've made panini. Panini for dinner, panini for lunch when I've worked home. It is great. I've printed up all the panini recipes from cooking light and am looking for more. Heather isn't usually big on sandwiches for dinner, but she seems to really like panini. Which is good, because they are easy, fun and good to eat. I really like the gooey melted cheese!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Not so good day

Today was not a very good day.

My day was not unique for my work group, so I don't write this for any empathy or sympathy. I'm hoping for some kind of catharsis (this is the first time I have also ever used catharsis in writing). We've been working for about a week on a forecast model that many people in the company are waiting for. Some days it seems futile and some days it feels like we are working in circles. Some days it feels like we are working against each other, although we are all working for the same goal.

When you have a bad day, you do different things to make you feel better.

Traffic was pretty thick today, so I couldn't drive fast - and living in Washington, fast isn't very fast. But while I was driving, I listened to White Zombie. Loud. It was nice.

At my kids swim practice, my daughter and I went back out to my car. Walking through parking lots with kids can be nice, because they'll let you hold their hand. They may think that you are just holding them to keep them safe from cars, but having a little hand in yours feels really nice.

Assorted Thoughts

In the dining facility in college, they had a juice blend called POG. Not only did it have a great name, it was very good too! It was a blend of Passion Fruit juice, Orange juice, and Guava juice. I was at the grocery store the other day and saw some. As you can imagine, I bought it. It is a hit at home (except for with my wife, as she has gotten us on a 100% juice kick, where it is only 11% juice).

Chartreuse and soda is refreshing. Chartreuse has an herbal taste to it, but it is cut nicely with soda, plus it has a green tint to it. It has a Hemingway feel to it. I can imagine him sitting in a sidewalk cafe, writing in a journal, drinking Chartreuse and soda on a hot European afternoon.

My little boy is really a small man
This morning, I was going upstairs to check on my daughter's progress with getting ready for school. As I came up, he was just walking out of his room, waking up. In true man fashion, he was still half asleep scratching his butt. It was hilarious.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Your rights and responsibilities as a citizen

Today, I exercised my right and responsibility as a citizen... for the third time since we've moved here. We've almost been here six months and there have been three elections. Every other month!
In California, they say they have mob-rule politics where any one can get an initiative on the ballot with some signatures. Even the govenor uses it to get around the Legislature.
But here - it is just crazy.
Two of the three votes have been municipal elections, but can't they just roll them up all into one? I'm sure that an election, even one with only two questions has to cost money...
I just don't get it!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Photo retro blog

I downloaded a bunch of pictures of my phone and here are some photos that I should have posted on the spot, mobile-style


At the Post Office

Some people don't like to take their kids to the Post Office because of the long lines and the grumpy employees. I say take them and put them to work! We were sending 60 Christmas letters - we did have to alternate tongues. The second photo was taken just before he dropped the whole pile.

The only picture from Snowboarding

At the gas station
See that icon on the bottom row, second from the right? What does it mean? I understand the international NO symbol - but is it saying no putting the gas pump in the car? Huh?