Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How About That

Well, the Jambalaya turned out not bad.  A little too spicy for Kristin but...damn was it good.

So, what's Jambalaya?  Jambalaya is a sort of...ragu, I guess?  And it depends on the style; you can do either Creole or Cajun.  Cajun has less tomatoes and more heat.  But basically, it's tomatoes, a mixture of meats and seafood, the appropriate spices (depending on style), some broth, the "holy trinity" (green pepper, onion, celery) and rice.  You basically cook everything together in one pot, and it comes out great because the rice consumes much of the liquid.

As far as meats go, it can be any kind of poultry or pork.  Seafood is generally shellfish.  It's also optional; as long as you have a mix of the meats, seafood or both, it works.

An alternate spin on it is using pasta instead of rice.  You just put the pasta right in when it's boiling and let it cook.  Uses fewer dishes, and the consistency is still pretty damned perfect; I didn't even need to strainer.

Now, I added my own spin to it by throwing in some basil and, on a whim, kidney beans.  Either way, I have enough to feed an army.  If you like spicy food, it's damned good.

I've also just revamped the recipe by cutting it in half; my current recipe made enough to feed my whole family, so...yeah.  And it's rediculously filling...I thought my chili was that robust!

So, for next time:  Instead of broth, a tallcan of dark beer.  Half of everything but the seasonings and veggies.  Half the chipotle.  Half the pasta.

So, that's the Jambalaya out of the way.  All I have left is to make Huevos Rancheros and some sort of vegatable concoction for Christmas Dinner and my food docket will be clear for other things.  Like chili.

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Dutch Oven

Today is the day that I embark on my quest to make Jambalaya On Linguine.  Or something slightly more snooty...However, that's not today's topic so much as an announcement.

Today's topic is...Christmas morning breakfasts, actually. 

Christmas morning breakfast is, at least to me, as important as the dinner.  Mostly because it involves the family the gathered at the table.  This will be the second year that Kristin and I have been together (anniversary #2 next Tuesday), and it will be our second Christmas morning breakfast together. 

When I was single, I did Christmas AM breakfast with my parents and siblings, and Dad would usually make Egg Foo-Yong, or Eggs Benedict...whichever one we didn't make, we'd usually have on New Year's Day.  But I gotta say, my Dad makes killer Egg Foo-Yong.

Last year Kristin and I did Eggs Benedict, and it was good.  Not my best (I'm finally getting the texture the way I want it), but it wasn't all that common.  Now I make EB once a week to change up the spice mix to find that perfect balance, so it's not going to fly this year.

So, the plan this year?  Huevos Rancheros.  The colours are nice and festive and I can only dodge a promise for so long.

Now, for the uninitiated (this includes me), Huevos Rancheros (or Rancher Eggs) is basically fried eggs served on corn tortilla shells topped with salsa.  It can be served with guacamole and/or some sort of bean concoction.  Some people add rice on the side.

So, there's no meat or rich sauces, but I can at least excercise my heat demons.  Notice I said exercise.  I love heat.  It doesn't necessarily return the sentiment, but it can make a good dish frickin' great.

The way I'll be making it will be fried eggs topped with salsa on heated tortillas with guacamole and a mix of kidney and refried beans.  Anyone who knows my cooking style knows that nothing I make is ever that simple, so I'll leave what I actually do with all of that to your imagination. 

I have the recipe all planned out, so it will only be a matter of getting the ingredients and putting it all together.  Then "Yummy, yummy! In my tummy!" and "Please, sir.  Can I have some more?".

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two Reviews and Latest Project

'Mornin'\'Afternoon\'Evenin'!  So I compensate for time zones, what of it? 

Anyhow, I finished two video game reviews, one for Band Hero and the other for Far Cry 2.  Both titles appear on the XBox 360 and Playstation 3.  My reviews are based on the XBox version of each.  I'm not a big fan of Band Hero's content, but that's because I'm not a fan of pop music.  The game itself is fairly solid; I just don't like it.  Far Cry 2, on the other hand, is one of the best first-person shooters that I've played since Doom; it's one of my favourites.

As for what I'm "working" on, it's a two-fold effort.  The first part is creating a new resumé and cover letter to apply to The Source.  While sales is not my forté, selling gadgets can be because I'm passionate about them.  I'm a little slow because I prefer to sell on a needs-based agenda (meaning yours), and I prefer it this way. It simplifies customer service when you sell customers things that actually suit them.  They also tend to actually trust you.

The second part is that I'm working on producing some clinics for my Dad's company, Connections.  The first is a basic computer use clinic aimed at people who've just bought a computer and want to know how to use it and maintain it.  The course will be based around Windows.  I think I'd like to start with Windows XP and go up to Windows 7 because lots of people are either still running computers with XP or buying Off-Lease/Refurb machines with it installed, so it would be very appropriate to still cover that.  People are also still using Vista and if buying Off-Lease/Refurb, will also be subject to buying a machine with this operating system, so it can't be ignored either.

I doubt we will ever do a clinic specifically aimed at Linux, but time will tell.

Quite a bit of the basic computer use clinic is already planned out.  Each component needs to be subdivided into the different subjects that we'll be discussing and then I'll have to figure out to change it from IT-speak into English-speak.

I'm also going to piece together a clinic for parents who will be buying game systems for their kids this Christmas - or anyone for that matter.  Game systems were pretty simple until the XBox came along and networking became part of the mix.  Now the bloody things are media centres, and it isn't just the latest incarnation of the XBox. 

And basic networking no longer applies now that game systems stream audio and video.  You can even connect them to a music server.  But, to use all of their features properly - specifically anything internet-related - you have to do things with your router that just weren't necessary, even with the original XBox.

That's where this clinic comes in.  The clinic will include how-to's as well as guides for each system that demonstrate exactly what needs to be set up so that you can use it as you'd like.  It'll also cover things such as internet carriers, bandwidth and the like.  I may also incorporate some other nifty surprises, although I'm not yet sure what I want to throw into it just yet.  Some computer networking will have to be part of it, because anyone setting them up for XBox Live, the Playstation Network or Nintendo's online services will need to have an idea of what they need to putter around with as well as the potential consequences.

That said, I need to get some rest and recharge my batteries.

Until next time...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blog Entry Numero Uno, First, Premiere, What-Have-You

Hi everyone, this is my new everyday blog.  Here within, you'll begin to come across opinions on computer and gaming tech, new ways to do old things (and I promise I'll try to keep it simple), video game opinions and maybe even some of my recipes (for food, not computer builds).  I'll also be posting some business-related stuff here when there are things to advertise.  Rest assured, everything posted will be relevent to me.

For those who are new to me and who I am, my name is Nathan.  You may call me Nate if you like.  I like video games, cooking and reading Science Fiction or Fantasy.  I live with my girlfriend in Northern Ontario.  I like to watch movies but I rarely go to the theatre.  I like music, although my preferences tend to veer toward heavy metal, electronica and classic rock.  There are few genres I actually find intolerable, but I respect the Men's Law Of The Car Radio. 

For those who don't understand this unwritten law, it goes as such:

The owner of the vehicle is the owner of the music playing devices found therein;  The party to which ownership pertains is the sole executor of the content to which will be output from these such devices.  Refusal to adhere to such is a violation and grants said executor universal right to extricate said violating party or parties from the vehicle at any point and for an indefinite period of time.

I think that was convoluted enough, how about you?

I have five game consoles and I have been actively gaming (excluding arcades) since I was 7.  I currently am playing Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires on my XBox 360.  It's an older title for the system, but I enjoy it nonetheless.  I post game reviews on a site called Raptr under the display name "Nate_On_Raptr".  If you're reading this on my Facebook page, you've already seen the updates as I play and review games.  Otherwise, it's worth a look, at least if you're a gamer.  Note that none of the user-generated content is subject to censorship.  Please respect this.

At the moment, I'm currently reading The Da Vinci Code.  For those who are wondering if I've been living under a rock, the answer is "No".  I'm well-versed in my Vatican conspiracy theories, plus I prefer hard sci-fi or epic fantasy.  Not to say I haven't read a Tom Clancy or Stephen King book in my time, but I was busy getting into Alistair Reynolds when the Da Vinci Code came out, plus I was also re-reading A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin in anticipation of the 4th book coming out. 

That said, I've just mentioned the reason behind me reading The Da Vinci Code.  See, A Game of Thrones - the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire - has been adapted to a TV Miniseries format (which is good, an 800 page novel never makes a good 3 hr. movie) that is coming to HBO, and I wanted my girlfriend to read the book before we started watching it.  She would, if I read The Da Vinci Code.  So, I finished reading The Serpent War Saga series by Raymond E. Feist (good series, by the way) as quickly as aI could without missing anything and I'm now 107 pages into the Da Vinci Code.

I'll admit, it's alright.  It's a page turner, but I'm not honestly sure if I like it.  It's exactly as I expected it to be.  I also find Dan Brown's attention to detail a little inane sometimes; who cares if Silas is carrying a Heckler & Koch USP .40, how many people actually know what it is?  How many people care to actually research it?  Do I know what it is?  Yes, I've played enough tactical shooters to know what the entire USP line consisted of.  I even know what USP stands for.  It still doesn't matter.  I'm not even going to go into what I think of his hypotheses, especially since the book isn't even about that; it's pulp fiction about Catholic church and symbology.  There's nothing wrong with that, but man, people need to take things at face value sometimes.  I'm guilty of not doing that, myself, so I get it.

So my girlfriend has told me that she has posted some thoughts on A Game of Thrones.  I'll just say:  Read it.  It's one of the best fantasy novels written in the mid-90's.  And it forgoes a lot of the magical Dungeons and Dragons stuff - and there's nothing wrong with that, either.  But it's a nice break to come across a fantasy book steeped more in politics than spellcasting.  It still has its fair share of knights and lore, but it is definitely a much more conventional - and realistic - world than you'd expect.

That said, I'm out of drivel.  Until next time.