Sunday, September 13, 2009

Almost Good Eats

Almost Good Eats
If you are one of my many (4) faithful blog readers then I’m sure you have noticed a large number of food related blogs, and if you know me at all you know I am a little (lot) obsessed with Good Eats on Food Network. If you have never seen it, you don’t know what you have been missing out on. The shows focus on a single food item and consist of 50% science, 50% history, and 50% cooking (it is a power packed 30 min). If you have seen the show then you have probably realized that most of my cooking blogs are either loosely or directly based on good eats episodes.

Recently I have decided that there are enough of these that they probably deserve their own blog with just the food, and without all of this baby jibber jabber. On this new blog hopefully you will join me for my delicious triumphs, and horrible disasters.
So please enjoy…

Almost Good Eats

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Billboards I like to argue with 3

As Promised
Billboards I like to argue with 3

Nothing is worse that political ads. TV, radio, but this is clearly the worst thing I have ever seen. First of all lets talk a little about capitalization. I think we all agree that if you want to YELL while typing all you have to DO is write in ALL CAPS. So let read this again, this time with the yelling in place, which is clearly what that child is doing. Sometimes it is acceptable to write whole lines in all caps, but then you have to stick to your guns. You can’t not capitalize Is and the CAPS it up on “THAT EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW”. While we are on the topic of EXCLAMATION, in 5th grade my teacher told me that if you use exclamation points unnecessarily that your story (or billboard) will read like a Japanese comic book. Well maybe that is what they are going for with this color scheme, so lets move on to sentence structure NOW!

It is hard to get what the author is going for, just by the subtle overtones. However, I’m pretty sure they meant to say “Is that (in) a child’s best interest”. As it is written it sounes like the 4 days with his dad is the thing that he is interested in that is the best for him, or maybe the favorite of all of his interests. Moving right along, I think they want to say “Is that equal protection of (the) law?”. Unless, of course, they are talking about Jude Law… or maybe LAW is an acronym. That must be why it is capitalized.

My informed wife informs me that a colon can be used to start a list of items, address an individual, or to identify a character in a script. So this billboard either wants Judge Blockman to reform family court NOW, or this is a line from a script in which Judge Blockman is a character. I like to think it is the later. I am also not ruling out that this is just the start of his to do list (it is a work in progress).

Maybe I am being too critical. The red, yellow, and blue scheme is almost patriotic.
Let’s take a step back and look at the billboard as a whole. The child is clearly very upset. I assume he has been reading this billboard, or maybe he wrote the billboard. That actually makes a lot more sense. This really seams like something a 5 year old wrote. The Capitalization, the grammar, the punctuation, this all seems very much like this child wrote and designed this billboard. It is actually pretty impressive.

So I guess I am torn. This billboard makes me very angry and I want to punish its creators, by doing the opposite of what they are asking me to do, but I am not really sure what that is. Is this a pro or anti Judge Blockman billboard. Are they torturing children? I really have no idea. The more I read this the more confused I am. Perhaps I will have to go to the website to find out what the hell is going on… And perhaps that was their plan the whole time. Well played Judge Blockman

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Almost Handicaped

Almost Handicaped

While pregnancy certianly has its ups and downs, one of the best thing is the sweet parking at select stores. I'm not sure that telling pregnant women that you are one step above being in a wheelchair is quite the message stores should be sending, but as long as I am reaping all the benefits I will not complain.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Painting Baby Gutzmer's Room 2 of 3

Painting Baby G’s room 2 of 3
If any of your friends have striped a room you’ve already heard the horror stories. It is substantially more difficult and time consuming than just painting. There are numerous things that you can mess up that will make things infinitely more difficult. OK, So you’ve heard the warnings of your friends who’ve tried, you realize the work, and you still want to try the stripes. Here you go.

First a note on colors and types of paint, I highly recommend picking the color you like and then picking a color one lighter on the card. Some people I know have decided to do the same color in semi-gloss and flat. They have all regretted this, as the flat paint is ridiculously difficult to clean. If it is a child’s room satin is a good easy to clean choice. If it is a kitchen or bathroom you could bump it up to semi gloss, but its your room so pick whatever you want.

Pre Requisite: Painting Baby G’s room 1 of 3

1) Planning Planning Plannnig
Here an ounce of planning can save you hour of difficult painting. First of all measure all of your walls, doors and, windows and make a little diagram. Now, since you have already painted your base coat you will want to avoid repainting all of the suckiest parts. A standard paint roller is 9” wide, so if you make your stripes 9 – 10” wide they will be the perfect width to hit with one pass of a roller.

So your goals here:
-Have the corners lie in the middle of a stripe. If you do not have to add more trim at the corners that would be great
-Minimize the number of corners you have to repaint.
-Minimize the trim you have to do
Use your diagram and mark out where the stripes will be, trust me it seems like extra work but it will pay off in then end.

EG: Baby G’s room had 5 internal corners, 2 of which had door trim an inch away. I avoided all of those but 1, and that one had >3 inches on either side of the corner making is suitable for the small roller. I did have to sacrifice and repaint the trim between the doors.
2) Taping Taping Taping
I used the blue tape (it was on sale), but they also had some green tape that was supposed to make cleaner lines, more on that later. I would not recommend the beige tape, but I would recommend shelling out the extra money for the wide tape. I used the 1” tape which was kind of narrow.

Get your measuring tape and start measuring out the distances you have carefully planned. After you have a couple marked, take a tack and stick it in one of the marks. Now you can just hook the end of your tape on and mark away. As you are marking put a small x in the sections that you are planning on repainting. If you are using 10” stripes the math should be pretty easy. If you are using 9” stripes just remember that all of the digits of multiples of 9 add up to 9. ie 27 => 2+7=9 also you can just increment the 10s and decrement the 1s. Or just learn your damn multiplication tables.

Once you have the top of the wall marked go back and mark the bottom in the same way. You may be tempted to use a plumb line to just make the lines as vertical as possible. You shouldn’t.

Brief aside about visual acuity and statistical tolerancing:
The human eye is very good at determining if lines are parallel, but not as good at determining if they are vertical. So as you are making your lines and you are shooting for It is much better if you are off like / / / instead of / \ /. Now what this means to you. If you use a level of a plum line any error would be random and you would be more likely to end up with the dreaded / \ /. By contrast if you measure uniform increments from the wall even if you have the same quantity of error it will be virtually unnoticeable on the wall.

e.g: On one wall I miss measured the bottom lines and was off by a whole inch from the top lines. The only reason I noticed the one set of lines that were /, the rest of the lines were virtually unnoticeable.
3) Double check all the lines
OK last chance. Take a good hard look at each line. Make sure your x’s all alternate properly. take a good look at each line. Here is a good time to use your plumb line. Once you start painting it is too late.

4) Set lines
One of the major pitfalls of masking tape is feathering. If there are any small gaps between the tape and the wall the paint will wic under the tape creating a feathering effect along the edges that you don’t want. The easiest solution is to use a hard rubber roller to make sure all of the tape is adhered firmly to the wall.

5) Now for the painting
And by now you should be old hat at this. If not, see painting baby Gutzmer’s room 1 of 3, step 6 – 10. Everything should still be clean from the first time and you have already done your masking. So:


Roll it up


6) Remove the tape and admire your handy work / notice your mistakes
Now for the fun part (according to Cara) Grab the tape and gently but firmly pull it away at a 30 deg (pi/6) angle from the wall and from the line. It should come away cleanly without peeling any paint. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

7) Touchup
Grab your brush again and carefully go around and find all of the many small imperfections that fill your heart with shame. Go over it once with the light color and once with the dark color. If you did not have anything to touchup congratulations you’re a better man than I.

8) Admire your handy work
It’s been a lot of time and a lot of effort, now time to show all of your friends, take some pictures, write a blog?
nice sharp lines

Friday, June 05, 2009

What a Great Time to have a Baby

What a Great Time to have a Baby

As I have been talking to Cara and looking at baby things it’s dawned on me, what a great time to be having a baby. We have several friends in the area who have either just had babies or are about to. There is all of this excitement in the air, and come-on… babies. And as an added bonus the in-laws gave us a bunch of baby stuff that they are done with. It really just seems to be the perfect time, and not just a great time for us personally but the best time to have a baby in the history of medical science.

Did you know when we (30 somethings) were born the instance of maternal mortality and infant mortality were both 10 time what they are now, and astoundingly when our parents were born the chance of death during child birth was ANOTHER 10 times more than that. Even more astounding is that these figures do not stop there. Since the dawn of modern medicine child birth has gone from a toss of the 100 sided DnD dice to a relatively safe experience of bringing a new life into the world.

During the past 50 years numerous advancements have been made in child birth that have brought us to this point in time when deaths during childbirths are measured out of 100,000s instead of 1000s. Once one of the prime causes of maternal death, extreme parinatial and postnatal hemoraging, can now be treated by drugs and in extenuating circumstances blood transfusions. Infection once the third leading cause of maternal death is now virtually eliminated thanks to antiseptic delivery rooms, and antibiotics if necessary. Obstructed labor which used to account for 1 death in 1000 births, can often be safely resolved without surgical intervention, and that is just the mothers. The benefits for infants are far too numerous to mention in this forum.

Premature babies have a achieved unparalleled survival rates, even at terms that would have been considered impossible even a few years ago. The understanding and care for these tiny miracles has made leaps and bounds. Moreover, the with adequate preterm care, most premature births can be avoided or delayed until they are closer to term

It is a little scary to talk about problems during pregnancy and birth, but thanks to the constantly improving standard of care it is less scary all the time. It is certainly true that women have been having babies for 100,000 years, but they have really gotten a lot better at it in the last 50.

Another huge leap forward in childbirth in the last 50 years has been the use of prevention and education in the battle against birth defects and other potentially dangerous conditions. One of the most effective and proven means of prevention is the use of a simple inexpensive prenatal vitamin. These have been shown to greatly reduce the occurrence of several types of birth defects.

As new and expectant mothers have had more access to education about food and nutrition, birth weights have steadily increased. With prenatal monitoring through ultrasounds and regular checkups at risk babies can be identified earlier, giving parents more options in their care and treatment than ever before.

In addition mothers also benefit greatly from prenatal care. Once life threatening conditions like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes can now be diagnosed early and managed effectively so that mothers can still go on to have successful pregnancies, without danger to themselves or their unborn child. As an interesting note these problems were likely not recorded in the above statistics because they would not necessarily present at child birth.

The benifits of basic prenatal care and access to medical care have done so well in the industrailized nations that they have set up programs in developing nations with some tremendous results. Astounding drops in infrant mortality and maternal mortality, thanks to modern medicine.

While the health and welfare of the mother and infant are certainly at the forefront of most parents minds there are some other less tangible changes to the birthing process that have occurred over the last 30 years that have made the process much more enjoyable for the parents, and even in the last 5 years opportunities exist that our mothers could not have dreamed of.

While camping last weekend I had a discussion with my friend Mark who is also pregnant. He asked how involved I planned on being in the delivery. My answer: “Extreamly to overbearingly” we laughed. He was a little more squeamish than I am and was really only interested in holding his wife’s hand. The mere fact that there are choices to be made, however, is a huge leap forward.

There are options available to parents today that were not even considered 30 years ago. The availability of in hospital water birth, private birthing rooms, and the other creature comforts are things that were not considered when I was born. I look forward to being in the delivery room and cutting the cord. I can’t think of anything more beautiful than being with my wife during this important moment in our lives.

However I also understand that sometimes things do not go as you plan and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. I have done a fair amount of research (disgusting research) on the different types of birthing, and I feel like between Cara and I we will be able to make informed decisions as we go. We would love to have a natural birth. We would love to do it without an epidural. I know no one wants an episiotomy, but the best laid plans of mice and men go often wrong go oft’ astray. It is in these incidences that we can use our ability to adapt and survive like our ancestors before us. If something does happen i do not think our experiance will be any less special, and in the end, if things do not go perfectly, and interventions have to be taken, our baby will not be any less dear to our hearts, any less special, any less loved.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Painting Baby Gutzmer's Room 1 of 3

Painting Baby Gutzmer's Room 1 of 3

As Baby Gutzmer approaches I have been informed that it is time for the oldest of baby traditions, painting the baby room. This goes all the way back to a conversation overheard in an early cave.

♂How do you want to decorate the baby's room.
♀I don't know I was thinking of a nice gender neutral green
♂That seems kind of bland
♀maybe some two tone green stripes
♂I was thinking of a mural of me and my friends hinting and killing some buffalo
♀I think I would prefer the stripes
Club... thump

and so the first baby mural was created

I lacking a club ended up settling on the 2 tone green stripes.
So please to enjoy the first of my 3 part series "Painting baby Gutzmers room"

1) Move the furniture out of the way. Seems easy enough. Get it out of the room or away from the walls there should be 4ft of clearance around.

2) Take off all of those faceplates. You could mask them, but it is way easier and cleaner to remove them, and as I'll investigate later masking is not all it is cracked up to be.

3) Clean... Clean... Clean

If you want the paint to be nice and smooth and not to peel off in a year you want to start with a surface that is nice and smooth and CLEAN.

Start with a broom sweep the whole thing paying special attention to the cobwebs that you did not even notice were there.
Now get your favorite bucket and make a dilute cleaning solution with your favorite household cleaner. Make sure it is not too strong you do not want to leave any residue. Take a rag and get it slightly damp and wipe down the entire wall. If your walls were immaculate to start with congratulations, you are the cleanest person I know.

If you are a little anal like me you can do an additional quick rub down with a scouring pad. I like the giant ones they sell at sams. Especially if you are starting with a semi-gloss or high gloss, this will scarify the surface to allow for better adhesion.
Oh, and keep that rag and bucket around, it will come in handy

4) Masking (optional)
This is the point in the painting process where you break out multiple rolls of tape and go to town coating every inch of your trim... right? Maybe not. Lets consider the pros and cons
-All that time and effort to put the tape everywhere
-Once the tape is on you tend to get sloppy since that's what its there for
-Feathering (the little bit of paint that wick under the tape and get on the trim anyway)

With a good brush and a steady hand you can get just as strait (or better) trim lines with out all of the taping, but more on that later. I do like the tape for the trip that is close together or where it is really close to an inside corner, and there is not enough room to maneuver a brush. The easiest way is to get it even at one side and then to pull it strait and line it up at the other side, smooth it down tight and if IF the wall is straight the tape will be perfect.
5) Put down a drop cloth
It doesn't need to be fancy that old sheet set will do just fine, but it does need to be there. No matter how careful you are sooner or later a drop will fall, and if it is on carped it is not easy to clean. If you want to shell out $8 for a real drop cloth it is worth it.
6) Now use those free pint stirrers you got to stir it up nice.
When you are done wipe them on the rim as you pull it out, now you don't have AS much paint dripping on all of the news paper you laid out. You did lay news paper out right?
7) Pick your worst bowl, Tupperware, margarine container and dump some in (carefully)
or $0.89 for the pro container with the wipe off wire.
8) Cutting in
Ok, I promised you deliverance from all of that masking and here it is. Professional painters don't mask and neither should you. And your brush will set you free. First of all throw away that $1 brush with the plastic bristles that are always falling out.

If you want to do a good job start with a good brush. Look for good bristles that are split at the ends, a nice chiseled edge that will let the bristles fan out as you pull it across the wall, and a solid mounting and handle. You don't need to go crazy but if you spend $8 in 6 years, you will be glad you did.

Dip your brush into the paint about a half an inch as you go the paint will slowly creep up the brush, but keep it as close to the bottom as possible. Wipe off the excess, and get ready to paint. Start 1/2 in away from the edge and slowly pull the brush into and across the trim. As you do the bristles will fan out into a knife like edge (hence cutting in). keep going until the edge is just touching the trim, and move it straight down the edge.
Congratulations! a nice clean edge with no tape and half the time.
Oh and make sure you still have that bucket and damp rag around just in case.

9) Once you have the trim "cut in" turn the brush 90 deg and get a good couple of inches to make room for the rollers. If there is not room for the roller, then use the brush for as far as you need.

Now that you have about 1% of the wall covered you are home free. 90% of the work is done, and it is time to bust out that roller. Pour the paint in the roller pan and load up the roller. Make sure you roll out the excess on the pan, and head to the wall. Start with one big W (or M for the democrats) and then keep moving back and forth in the same pattern until the the area is completely covered. The key here is to press firmly into the wall. Use a little paint and apply it evenly.
One roller should look about like this. Get as close as you safely can to the edges since the paint from the roller really looks a lot nice.
10) Repeat steps 8 and 9
But good news. don't really worry about getting right up to the trim. As long as you're within an 1/8 - 1/4 in that's close enough. It should go twice as fast.
11) Cleaning Cleaning Cleaning
Now that you're done spend 20 min to clean all of your tools. Rinse the brush thoroughly and soak it in some warm water. If the paint is dried on you can use a wire brush to clean the... brush. The rest you should be able to rinse out with a garden hose. I do usually just throw away the roller, I have tried reusing them and they always seem worthless the second time no matter how much I clean them.
Now that We've got the base coat down we're ready for the stripes.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009



Several years ago when we got our mixer and some of the attachments I convinced Cara to let me spend the couple of extra bucks to get the sausage stuffer tubes. It has been a long time and I have taken a fair amount of flack for the unused sausage tubes. A couple of weekends ago I finally had the extra venison and time to finally make my first batch of sausage. warning may not be suitable for vegetarians.

1) Cleaning Cleaning Cleaning
You want good sausage you need to clean everything. Counters, mixer, bowls, utensils, clean it all. Got it all squeaky clean? Good, now you're ready for the next step.2) Sanitize Sanitize Sanitize
Really these are good starting steps for any cooking project. a 10% bleach soln should do nicely, and as an added bonus you can just spray on and let it dry, you do not even need to wipe it down.
3) Get your ingredients
Now if you are making sausage you are going to need some fat. My recipe called for pork back fat, but to my dismay no one seemed to stock it, though the Schnucks butcher said he could save me some. I figured bacon would work just as well.
4) Set up the equipment
from left to right: 600W mixer w/ meat grinder attachment, clean plates for transfer, large sanitized cutting board, large knife extra sharp, 2 large bowls for catching ground meat.
5) Cut the meat
For my meat grinder this meant rectangular prisms about 1" x 1" x 6"
6) Into the grinder
Nice and easy let the grinder do the work. This does add some heat to the meat so the colder is starts the better, I usually pop mine in the freeze for at least and hour or 2 before cutting.
Multiple batches, different meats, have to step out for a bit...
you know it:
clean clean clean
sanitize sanitize sanitize
I suggest running a couple of pieces of bread through the grinder to force out the majority of the meat.
I like to make mine w/ venison, hence the need for the extra fat. As delicious as it is venison really does not have a lot going on in the fat dept.

That's a lot of meat
7) Weigh and measure all of the ingredients.
I used a couple of recipes I found on line, one good eats, and one random.
8) Mix it up
I started this with the paddle and quickly realized that was going to make a ginormous mess. The dough hook did much better kneading the spices into the meat, and don't forget the secret ingredient, morton tender quick adds the real sausage taste... ummmmm sausage.
9a) ♫ Pack it up nice ♫
Now here you have a couple of options patties or links. I chose about 2/3 patties, mostly because it was a lot of meat and the patties were easier. spread a 24" piece of foodservice film (saran) out on the counter. Get a 1lb handful of sausage, form it into a cylinder, and TIGHTLY wrap it up into the film folding in the ends as you go. Pop it in the freezer and you've got sausage suitable for patties.
9b) Stuff it
The links get a bit more complicated. First the stuffer tubes need to be fitted onto the good ole grinder. Slide your collagen casings (no intestines for me) onto the tubes, and clip off the end.

hold it tight and twist off the links as you go