Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Protected: The Nerve!

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

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Protected: A Week In The Life. ***Guest Blogger: Lars***

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

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Q1: Did you know…

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

… Joan Jett’s biggest hit was/is a cover?

A1: Yeah, me neither.

Q2: Do you care?

A2: see A1

Ah well, if she was an inspiration for The Donnas, I am ok with that.

The guitarist reminds me of Johnny Thunders (prolly not a coincidence).

I said HIT IT!

Protected: Maximilian

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

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Working with Constraints

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Wow. Here’s an entertaining video that I stumbled upon quite accidentally.  It’s some guy covering a fun (and dance-inducing) tune from Daft Punk:

A song this good, made with the constraint of one solitary musician’s talent, makes me think of how oftentimes constraints can actually foster creativity.

When the video above is over, hear The White Stripes succinctly express that sentiment with this song:

Sometimes we need to keep our rooms small and our ideas big (and not get distracted with superfluous options).

Constraints, in whatever we do, can force us to use our limited resources, whatever they may be, to focus on what’s important. Would Picasso’s Guernica be better with some colors? Would A Farewell to Arms be better with more adjectives?

Ok, there’s certainly a limit to how far one can take this “constraint appreciation,” as I agree that “nothing destroys the spirit like poverty.”**

Thanks for abiding my poorly-articulated quasi-philosophical ramblings.

Oh, and should you be compelled to leave a comment (I do like getting comments), please comment here; not on Facebook. I no longer read Facebook because, well…

“… if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”*

I think it was starting to make me more stupider.


*It sounds better in German: “Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.” –Nietzsche

**Oh snap, did I just quote Jane Austen? Yep, I’ve definitely gotten more stupider.

What’s old is Neu

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

This blog has changed.  It used to be a lot more about food and recipes, but now I worry that I’ve turned it into a boring repository for family photos and vacation slides.  There are few things more banal and tedious than being subjected to someone else’s purportedly cute children’s photos and travel stories.  So if you think this blog sucks now, I may be able to provide some explanation and perhaps dispel some easily and, however understandable, incorrectly drawn conclusions.

1) I still cook– a lot.  I still enjoy cooking for the family and Cati and I have divvied up the evening responsibilities such that I usually cook dinner, while she bathes the little ones.  On weekends, providing we don’t travel, I cook even more.  That’s the funny thing about a blog.  A blog is not a dependable way to get to know somebody, it can be a heavily abridged version of one’s life (like this blog).  Most readers of this blog probably have no idea that I still play drums for the Northeast’s third most popular KISS cover band.  Okay, that last statement is a lie– or is it a lie? See what I mean?

2) A lot of the recipes from which I’ve been working recently are from America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated.  I can’t just go throwing up their recipes on my blog.  I’ll link to their website for what I have been doing.  I’ve learned that for some recipes, you get what you pay for.  I used to search the internet for recipe suggestions, but that is like using the Billboard Top 40 to identify the musical geniuses of our time (Ke$ha?  Really?).  The television show and magazine are fun and rigorous, and chocked full of info that have made me a better cook.  I especially like how the pace of the television show, America’s Test Kitchen, makes the Food Network cooking shows look like television made by people who drink Four Loko.

3) is a much better website for food related posts, and frankly, I can’t compete.  It reminds me of something Cati and I saw on TV a few years ago, and still laugh about today.  Apparently, Paris Hilton “wrote” a book and went to a book signing to promote it.  Well, there was a protestor at the event with a sign that said “Hey Paris, don’t write a book; READ A BOOK.”  This blog is Paris Hilton and is Leo Tolstoy.

4) Blogging time is a little harder to come by these days.  I’m not using that as an excuse, though.  People don’t have time to do anything, we make time for the things we consider important.  This blog is, and has been, a nice way to capture our memories over the years.  You, my dear readers, just by being readers, force me to be more thorough and articulate than I would be in some half-assed journal.  So, like, uh, thanks for that ‘n stuff, ok?

Well without further ado…

The holidays were nice.  Watching how excited Nina would get was fun.  She didn’t completely grasp the whole Santa story, but she knows he is an important dude.  She was at first intimidated by him, but then she became very friendly when she saw him at department stores or the mall.

For Xmas eve, Cati and I bundled up our little peanuts and we all went for a stroll through the neighborhood to admire the lights.

Then, after the walk, we put the kids to bed and enjoyed a “once a year” dinner of paté, caviar, smoked salmon, jamon iberico, lomo, tortilla (eggs, not corn), grapes, dates, membrillo (quince paste), a nice goat’s milk cheddar, crackers, and champagne.  I bought the caviar from Whole Foods.  It was produced in California– never again.  It was not good.  I’ll stick to Beluga from now on.  Overall, the dinner was delicious, and I didn’t have to spend the entire day preparing it.

The tortilla recipe I used came from America’s Test Kitchen— it came out very flavorful, and a lot less greasy than traditional recipes.

The combination of the membrillo and the goat’s milk cheddar is very good.  Look for these items in your grocery store– they go very well together.

Northern New Jersey and NYC were slapped with a major snow storm the day after Xmas.  It was great not having to go anywhere and enjoying the snow from the warm indoors.  I almost felt guilty watching Cati do all that shoveling as I sipped coffee from inside the house (JUST KIDDING– I didn’t feel guilty at all– KIDDING, I actually did all the shoveling).

Nina was so excited about the snow, she quietly left the room and put on her hat and boots.  Then, she stood by the front door yelling “Mamá! Papá! Vamos!”

Two important things to point out in the photo above– 1) she’s still wearing her pajamas, and 2) she’s putting on her backpack to show she’s serious about leaving.

My folks had planned to come for the Thanksgiving holiday, but were unable to make it, so I gave them a do-over and we cooked a Thanksgiving feast for their arrival.  I made the turkey as recommended by ATK, and it came out perfectly cooked.  The gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato, Catalonian spinach,  stuffing, and borscht were all made from classic/generic recipes.

Being that my father was born and raised in South America, grilling while he is visiting is kind of required.  So I bought a pair of beautiful ribeyes and a pair of New York strip steaks and fired up the charcoal grill (note: not the same day as the turkey feast– that would have killed us).

We also had some South Amercian cole slaw, roasted asparagus, sauteed beet greens, and a nice bottle of Spanish red wine to accompany the steaks.  Those ribeyes were enjoyable on a visceral level– they were so good that words fail me.  I should mention that I used a process recommended by ATK to get that characteristic steakhouse char on the steaks, while not overcooking them.

Also, there are two other recipes that I took from America’s Test Kitchen (have I mentioned how much I like that show and their cookbooks?).  These are “chicken breast in mustard and dill sauce” (we didn’t have dill, so I used scallions).

and we have become mildly addicted to their “Thai lettuce wraps” (in beef and turkey variations).

Natalia is getting increasingly chubby (in a good way) and more mobile with each week.  She’s a fat and laid-back jolly baby.

She brings a much-appreciated yin to Nina’s non-stop action yang.  Note Nacho in the background doing what he does. He is the one who sleeps the most in our house these days– lucky dog.

The Invention of Lying

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

She’ll say anything to avoid a diaper change.  God forbid we take 3 minutes from her 17 hours of play per day. 

We know that she knows what “ca-ca” means, because she used to tell us when her diaper was full.  She quickly realized that telling us resulted in a swift diaper change; so now she denies she has anything in there– even when the entire room smells like hot sewage; she denies.

Also, Cati and I were recently told that children play in ways to prepare themselves for adulthood.  We notice that Nina often emulates adult behavior as a game.  Well, this past week, I found out why I used to love to build models and play with Legos as a child.  I think it was to prepare me for assembling IKEA furniture as an adult.  Holy smokes…

Building the “Bjornholmen” (Apparently, that’s Swedish for “TV cabinet from hell”) was way harder than any model F-16 Fighter Jet I built as a teenager.  It took me six-hours and became a personal challenge.

A Blogger Send-off

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Our blogging buddies threw us a little good-bye party.  We were flattered and had a really nice time.  The food was extraordinary.  We went to CCK.  Here are some photos:

Cati checks out another diner’s plate while Nina looks at the camera:

Peking duck– the best we’ve ever had.

Fried Eggplant:

Mushrooms and greens (front and center) and flounder (top left) after a go-round the table. 

Pork belly and mustard greens– the 8th deadly sin is pork belly (mmm mmmm). 

We had a great time and feel lucky to have such swell pals.  Thanks, good people of the internet. 

Unrelated– you must try the Eggs Haizlip at Miss Albany Diner.  Grits, eggs, and sardines in mustard sauce.  If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind breakfast, this is it.  Or maybe their Ugly Eggs– scrambled eggs with mushrooms and anchovies.  These dishes are not necessarily representative of the food there.  They also have a french toast that my wife cannot resist (no fish-products included).  We are going to struggle to find a place like this after we move. 

I also went to an Albany Patroons game with some friends for the first time this weekend.  What a fun time. 

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds.

We’ll miss you, Albany.  We won’t forget how good you’ve been to us.

I am the eggplant!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

So, we decided to make some eggplant pizza.  Our version is a far cry from Mama Mia’s, but it’s pretty good. 

I salted and rinsed the eggplant slices prior to crisping them up in a little olive oil.  I probably didn’t have to fry it, but I didn’t want it too mushy, or worse, spongy.  I grated some mozzarella and added some dried herbs.  We cheated a lot– sauce in a can and pre-made pizza crust from the co-op. 

Before 12 min at 450F


On another night, we had some great steaks from the co-op as well.  Nacho prays for a spontaneous plate-disintegration. 

On the grill.

Charred outside, rare inside; the way we likey.

Also, Nina has really taken a liking to white truffle and cream of asparagus soup served with a dollop of herb chevre, see:

I kid; it’s rice paste. 

For no reason, here is a picture from the Strunz and Farah concert we attended at the Egg with our friends T&A.  (Who doesn’t like a little T&A?  Set to music, no less!) 

Also, it’s true; Albany, our dear friend, we are moving away from you.  We won’t ever forget you though.

You Rang?

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

So we went from this…

to this…

…in one short plane ride.  No one likes it except Nacho.

When the mercury drops, Cati and I enjoy few things more than some core-warming soup.  Man, there is just something downright cozy about a bowl of steamy broth on a cold day.  We found two places here in Albany that scratch that itch quite well– CCK Chinese and Arirang Japanese, Korean, and Thai; both on Central Ave. 

CCK, or “if if what” as my wife calls it (get it? she’s Spanish– Ha, I kill me sometimes) is the real deal.  Great Chinese food is their forte, not English.  Check out the specials posted above the cash register; they are only in Chinese. 

Cati and I had some wonton soup, dumplings, fried tofu, and the braised yee mein with beef.  Cati’s favorite dish is the Buddha delight, but they were all out on our last visit. 

Celinabean has a far-superior post on this place here.

Arirang is a real find too.  I know that I have derided multi-ethnicity restaurants as being sub-par jacks-of-all-trades-masters-of-none, but we only stick to the Korean food when we go.  As for sushi, my palate is spoken for, thank you very much, and why would I want Koreans to make Thai food for me?  That’s like having a Greek chef make haggis– no thanks.  Maybe I’m guilty of restaurant racial-profiling, but I like the chefs that prepare my food to be of the nationality of the cuisine in which they specialize (or at least trained there for YEARS).  Even then, it’s still no guarantee that the food will be any good.  It’s just a stereotyping tool I use to save time.  [wink]  Am I just a food-bigot or does anyone agree with me on this one?  Anyone?  [crickets chirping]

I digress, back to Arirang.  The (Korean) food there is quite good.  Have a look at the dumpling soup and seafood stew Cati and I had on our last visit.  The soups were so warm and flavorful we were reeling.  Plus my soup was so spicy, I was super content.  And who doesn’t love those little Korean plates of kim chee, potatoes, and fish cake…mmmm.  I have to be quicker with the camera if I want to get photos of the appetizers.  The dumplings lasted for 0.43 seconds. 

I had their tasty bibimbap on a previous visit.

Celinabean scooped me on this place too (see here)…and naturally, she did a better job.  “Drats, foiled again!”

Here’s an enjoyable Stones’ video circa 1978 (you didn’t post this, Celina– so there!!):

Look, even Nina likes the video…”yep!”