Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More Sillyness From Yours Truly

Hi all! So, like, any new readers out there now that I've passed 2000 page views? Anyone? Hello... ello... ello...? Hmmmm, nice echo, cool. No worries, I can always write this now so that when I'm rich and famous everyone will be flocking here (like sheep to the slaughter HA HA!).

Back to Alaska; then and now


During my many decades in the frozen north, I was into many sports. I didn't like the team events (although I like watching them for the strategy). For a while I ran (among other sports, more later). I did the cross-country races in high school, and afterwards ran just for the heck of it.

One year, I decided to get in shape to run the Equinox marathon in Fairbanks --oddly enough, held on the fall equinox, Sept 21. So I spent the summer (in Anchorage while tossing freight around for work) getting in shape. I'll spare you the details, with this one exception...

I decided that on one of my rest evenings after work (resting from running) to hike up Wolverine Peak in the nearby mountains. Fairly short (4 to 6 miles, I think), and not that steep (4000 feet, could've been 4500???) so it wouldn't be a problem doing it after work since it was light till almost midnight. Oh yeah, I forgot a water bottle.

After a mile, I got bored with hiking and started running... I ran to the top... not stopping, no water. The rocky, loose sections weren't bad since I'd practically grown up outside. The snowfield crossing was easy, except when a foot would break through and "posthole" in the deep snow --ouch.

The last mile was the easiest since it was along a ridgeline --2000 foot drop down either side! Wee-hoo, keep running!

Anyways, at the top some other folks there looked at me like I was crazy (they were right). One guy asked if I was training for the Mt Marathon race. No, I think I might do Crow Pass though, however I'm training for the Equinox up in Fairbanks, was my reply. Yup, I was definitely CRAZY!

A quick swig of water from one of them, and I was off down the mountain. Fastest miles of my life, that was. Got down to the parking lot, drove home.

Did it again the next day.


Ummmm, I get winded cleaning the pool...


Damn those Frenchies! How dare they have a bike race in the middle of the night? Do you know how much fun it is to stay awake (and coherent) till 2 and 3 am for 3 weeks straight (without getting to sleep till noon the next day)? Let me tell ya something: me and mister caffeine are DEFINITELY on good terms. Last night was a rest night, which means I got to sleep --wee-hoo!

I'm more than majorly bummed about Mick's wipe out; he could have won the tour with that breakaway, damn. Also, being a fellow Adelaidian, I wish Stuey a fast recovery from his 9 broken ribs, punctured lung, and broken shoulder blade. Now you know why I don't race!

Like everyone, I don't think the chicken will hold yellow through the time trials, and Cadel is in good position. However: I'm REALLY rooting for Moreau now (a frenchie) cus he's been the only GC contender to actually make attacks! Good on ya, mate!


Did you guess the number of doors (entrances)? SEVEN! Cool, eh?

Did I mention the solid timber staircase at the end of the marble (real marble) tiled entranceway?

Did I mention our master bedroom is 348 sq feet?

Remember, you can't bring your guns down here to shoot me! Nyah, nyah!

Food Stuff:

Sorry, I'm late with this and I've got a dinner to cook for the clan. Next entry will be all about food though, promise!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Just a quickie... and a house update

Well, well. A few more days have come and gone, MY how time flies as we get older! My back actually continues to get better, I hope to be able to take real bike rides soon :)

Speaking of bikes... Dave's Le Tour Update: The blokes have just finished the first mountain stage, and a summit finish is up for tonight. We all know that Vino and Klodi are hurting from injuries. In fact, Valverde has said that he and his team want to drop Vino on the last climb tonight (local Aussie time). Ummmmm, Vino has an overall podium finish under his belt, whereas Valverde had yet to even FINISH a TDF. Ah, kid, shut your mouth!

I'd like to think that Vino is playing poker with his injuries, but they do look pretty bad. And it's hard to imagine Klodi riding through the mountains with a broken tailbone: OUCH.

I'd love to see Cadel take the overall, but I think the team has had to do too much work for Robbie the first week. Same thing with Sastre; CSC worked damned hard for Fabian and Sastre isn't a world-class time trialist.

I'll make a prediction here, and it's based on both Vino and Klodi's injuries being bad. Final GC: Levi, Moreau, Mick. Not the 3 I'd have picked if there hadn't been many wipeouts the first week, and I do have good reasons for not picking other favs (involving team politics). They are basically the 3 GC contenders who are the SOLE leader for their team, their ENTIRE team is behind them, and they haven't had any bad spills on the flats the first week. How's that for logic? Oh, yeah: they can all time trial!

Oh, I was very happy with Gerdemann's win, been watching him for a year: Good Kid!

House teaser:

Did I tell you there are FOUR bathrooms? Well, there are! Did I mention that the entranceway just inside the double glass doors is marble tiled? Oh, perhaps I haven't... Well, it is!!!

Go ahead everyone, guess how many doors there are (the double glass entranceway counts as ONE). The person who gets closest gets a virtual hug and a virtual swim in the pool.

Food Stuff:

I've got a recipe for shrooms for you, but that'll have to wait till later. Instead, you get a pic of the finished peanut butter cheesecake with hot chocolate sauce topping, Try not to drool on your monitor, eh?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Warning: This Blog Is Rated R

Free Online Dating

Can you believe it??? I get an R rating... huh? Here I am, semi-retired, and I have a blog about cooking, Alaskan stuff, stupid stories, and some pointless ramblings.

Apparently, that site searches your recent entries for keywords, and rates the blog based on keywords.

The keywords that earned my an R rating were: hell, crap, hurt, kill, knife. Well, well, I guess I'm more violent than a Hollywood movie now :)

Food Stuff:

Referring back to yesterdays recipe, to get the frozen cheesecake out of the pie dish, float it in a sink of very hot water. This is why you butter the dish even though it's not being baked. One minute floating in hot water is enough to melt the butter, and the pie (still frozen), crust too, pops right out!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Back to Alaska (sort of)

Back to ALASKA!!! (and part of the new house)

No, no... I'm not moving back to the "frozen north". The title of this pertains more to the fact that it's been YONKS since I've written anything about Alaska. Now, for some reason, every single person I've met down here in Oz is fascinated with Alaska --many of them think it's part of Canada (if only!!!!). There's also lots of online folk (I'm guessing big city types) that seem to love Alaska.

Whoops, it's now the next day... my how time flies. I'll bet none of you even noticed that 24 break in my typing, eh?

Alaska story: This was on one of my bicycle trips from Anchorage to Fairbanks (360 miles). I was with a good friend of mine, Rich, and we were doing the trip on our mountain bikes set up with road tires (I've ridden knobby tires all the way to Fairbanks, and let me tell ya, IT'S HARD!). It was a beautiful fall day, late August, sunny, warm (by Alaskan standards, bloody-well cold by Aussie standards) and we were having a grand time.

It was also still tourist season... campers and winnebagos abounded --the shoulder was wide and they were all cool while passing, no worries. As we rode up one hill, we both decided to take a short break. We leaned our bikes up against the guardrail and sat down on the six-foot wide shoulder. That's when we noticed the pavement was very very warm :) Since both of us were somewhat lazy, we decided to lay down and stretch out on the nice warm pavement next to the guardrail.

On retrospect, it was not a good idea...

Picture this: Two bikes leaned against a guardrail on a road in the middle of nowhere, and two guys stretched out on the roadside. Now, any Alaskan would drive right past; because they KNOW there are very few chances for Alaskans to work on their tans (we had taken our shirts off). However, after about the 10th kindly, elderly tourist stopping to ask if we were ok, we hopped back on the bikes and continued to Fairbanks.

Moral to this story: What Alaskans think of as normal, the rest of the world thinks is a little bit crazy.

Tidbit (or two) about the new house

Did I mention there is a pool??? Did I? Well, there is! This is an L-shaped pool that's 29 sq meters --that's 315 sq feet, larger than some apartments!!!! Wee-hoo, I'll be spending a LOT of time in it this summer.

Did I mention the FOUR patios and the walk-around second story deck???? Well, I have now! I'm a smug bastard, eh?

Did I mention the parquet flooring and the sunken lounge in the 3rd family room??? Oh.... I can hear the teeth gnashing from here! TTHHHHBBBTT

There's only 5 palm trees dotted around the grounds, and I don't have any grape vines so I'll have to find a neighbor with some vines so I can make my homemade dolmades this season... Gotta have some drawbacks, eh?

The tour! I'm not normally a fan of the beginning flat stages, but HOLY SHIT did anyone see the last 60 k's of stage 3? It was great to see the chase, and even better to see what Fabian was able to do at the end in yellow! Go find a highlight vid, you won't be disappointed.

Food Stuff:

Peanut butter cheesecake with hot chocolate sauce

What you need:

For the crust:
1/3 to 1/2 pound of crunchy chocolate chip cookies
2-3 tbsp melted butter --slightly cooled
1 tbsp milk

For the Filling:
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 pound softened cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar

For the chocolate sauce:
1/3 to 1/2 pound dark chocolate --chopped coarsely
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream

What you do:

In a food processor, process the cookies until the are a fine texture. Then add the butter and milk; process some more.

Press the crust mixture into a buttered pie or flan dish. Chuck it in the fridge for an hour to harden and set.

For the filling; add the peanut butter and cream to a small saucepan, then mix/whisk over low heat until it's combined. Let it cool. While that's cooling, mix the cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixers (you know, the kind with the beaters you licked as a kid?), until it's smooth. Then stir in the peanut butter mixture thoroughly.

Put the filling into the crust (duh), then chuck it all in the freezer overnight.

The next day...: Just before serving, make the hot chocolate sauce. Put the dark chocolate and butter and cream in a small saucepan and heat slowly while stirring (you don't need a double boiler for this).

Then (here's the easy part): slice the frozen cheesecake and top with the hot chocolate sauce.

In case you hadn't guessed, it's rather rich... I'd suggest very very small pieces...

Monday, July 09, 2007

The move from Hell, stage Last!

Gosh howdy folks! This is the Move From Hell, stage last.

Before I get to stage last, did anyone watch stage one of the Tour last night? That was the most exciting sprint finish I've ever seen, and Robbie is a damned incredible bike rider. 6 or 7 years ago I didn't like him, but he has matured with age and grown up a lot. If you didn't see it, folks are already calling it a Miracle Finish. Just watch it!

Getting back to the move... I was planning on doing a whole huge long story about it, but I've kinda ran out of steam. So l'll do a summing up.

IT RAINED!!!!! I know that may not surprise many of you, but we've been in a drought for a few years. Guess what? The drought broke, which would normally be good news. I just wish it had waited 10 more days, blech. I had the truck for 9 days --should have been seven, oh well. I got wet but was able to dodge showers well enough that nothing got soaked. Oh, the help I was supposed to have on the heavy and/or bulky stuff didn't materialise --what a shock! Fortunately, I was able to do it all myself... what FUN!

I somehow managed to find space in the new house for everything. That's pretty amazing considering this house doesn't have a huge garage like the last house. However, it does have quite a few features that are very very very very very nice. I'll tell you about that next time --I promise.

Getting back to the Tour. I thought that Fabian's ride in the prologue was incredible and that there wouldn't be any big dramas till stage seven. Boy was I wrong! What Robbie's team did and then was he did in the last 15 k's was the stuff of legend. He's won 178 races in his career and many people are already saying it's his best ever. Go watch the highlights, then see if you can find someone who recorded the whole thing (like me) and watch the last 30 to 40 mins. You won't be disappointed.

Food Stuff

A simple, tasty lamb soup.

You can do this with pretty much any meat, I just happened to have some off-cuts left from a side of lamb the other day. Also, lamb is darned cheap down here.

What you need:

A pound or two of lamb offcuts
lots of dried basil
carrots, peeled and sliced
potatoes, peeled and diced

What you do:

Fill a big pot with a lot of water, put in the meat. Add salt (at least a few teaspoons), ground black pepper, and basil (at least 2 teaspoons).Boil for an hour or so --covered so it doesn't reduce. Let it cool, then strain and add the liquid back into the pot after skimming the fat off*. Pick all the meat off the lamb pieces, toss the fat and bones away.

Put the meat, the potatoes, the carrots, and more basil all in the pot with the broth. Cook till carrots and spuds are done to you liking. Then eat with good fresh bread.

*There are several ways to de-fat broth. Let me know if you are interested, always happy to help.

Oh, this is even better the next day!