Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Fall!!

I can't believe how the days fly by sometimes.  Summer is gone and now it's fall, my favorite time of the year.  We've been busy here at the West A House.  School and work, going here and there, meeting new people.

It's been a busy past month since I was here last, the Missus and I went to Dave Matthews at Qwest Center a few weeks ago.  It rocked as usual.  They played a new song, "Black Jack", it was awesome.  I hope the studio version turns out as good as the live version was. 

A week after Dave, we went back to Omaha and met some folks at Mt. Fuji for the first and hopefully annual "Mid-West Mai Tai Meet-Up".  We had dinner in a Tatami (tea) room with three other tiki-minded couples then migrated downstairs to the Mai Tai lounge for drinks and conversation.  Another couple joined us in the lounge and for a first time event, 10 people made for a nice party.  I look forward to doing it again!

Have a good week and if you get tomorrow off, have a nice Columbus Day.

And now for some pictures!!

Pupu ribs and ginger pineapple fried rice.

Hand carved tiki "Nui Niho" by "Lake Tiki"-Dave Hansen of Milwaukee.

Hot bowl of smoked pork three bean chili.

Gigantic fish float lamp by Trader Bill from Newport Beach California.

Ecstatic people getting Mt Fuji shirts. Thanks to Silverline for the picture.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day

Here's hoping you had a nice day today.  Sorry if you had to work.  We made the most of our weekend by traipsing all over Eastern Nebraska.  We meandered up North 14th Street to Martin's Hillside Orchard and picked raspberries, apples and some of the best peaches I've ever had.  That prompted a nice batch of peach cobbler when we got home.  Probably make some sauce or syrup with some of the raspberries for pancakes.  And I know some of the apples have apple crisp in their future! The orchard is a nice excuse for a drive through the countryside to see the coming of fall.  Some trees are changing, the corn is drying.  The weather was perfect.  Decided that beef would be featured this weekend so I grilled up a platter of kebabs and the crowd went wild.  Okay not really, but the kebabs were devoured.

We loaded up the wagon the next day and wandered around Mahoney and Schramm State Parks.  The aquarium at Schramm is a popular spot for us and The Boy is always fascinated with the fish.  Especially "Big Blue" the huge catfish.  We explored the canyon ponds of the Gretna Fish Hatchery up into the bluffs on the north side of the Platte River.  One canyon pond was full of carp and another pond further up had great looking trout. Very cool!  

After lots of hiking we motored east, crossed the Platte into Louisville and searched for ice cream.  Finding none we ventured north through South Bend, past Mahoney Park again and found frozen treats in Ashland.  
All the fresh air and excercise made me hungry like a bear so I grilled steak for dinner.  Sauteed shrooms and broccoli too.

We rolled out to Seward today and hung out with the better half's family for lunch and conversation.  It was a great three day weekend and I hope yours was too.  Have a great week!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Dinner

Hi there!  Spent a lazy afternoon in the pool today, it was pretty chilly but we got used to it.  Tomorrow and Tuesday look to be possible swim days and that's probably about it for the season.  I like the fall season the best and I'm looking forward to it again this year.  I don't mind the fall yard cleanup, it get's you outside in the fresh air.  I've got some minor exterior house projects to finish up then too.  I hope you've had a good summer, you've got a couple weeks left.  Let's hope for a nice long Autumn! 

I ran across a recipe for some enchiladas a few weeks ago so that's what we had for dinner tonight.  It's not the usual enchilada but it was mighty tasty.  Here we go.  Using pecan wood, I smoked two pork loin, four tomatoes, an orange bell pepper (red is preferred) and a hot red pepper.  Smoke all of this for 40 minutes, the pork cooks until medium doneness.  Cut the pork into bite size pieces and set aside. Remove the skins and seeds from all the veggies.  Puree them in the blender along with some onion and garlic.  Simmer this sauce for about 15 minutes and give it a shot of salt and some chopped cilantro as you take it off the heat and set it aside. 

Sautee more onion in a large skillet until it's soft and nearly translucent.  Add some garlic and the pork and sautee this for a few minutes.  Then add some cooked drained black beans, chicken broth and chili powder.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer it until the liquid is mostly gone.  Prepare the corn tortillas the way you like to eat them. Fried, microwaved or like I do, tossed onto a hot gridle.  Place some filling and some Jack cheese on each tortilla, roll em' up and place in a baking dish.  Cover the whole lot with some of your sauce and top with more cheese.  Bake until the cheese is to your liking.  15-20 minutes.  EAT!!

Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Goodbye Sweet Zoey

We had to put Zoey down this morning.  The last couple of weeks have been pretty rough.  The vet said she had congenital heart disease and it was amazing that she lived as long as she did.  We adopted her from the humane society and we think she was 11 or 12 years old.  We promised her that she wouldn't ever suffer again like she had before we adopted her.  I remember her being so emaciated her front legs almost touched when we brought her home.  She must have been beaten because if you touched her anywhere near her tail she would cower from you.  She grew out of that and was quite the specimen!  We knew she had a heart murmur but she was very strong and such a sweet dog to the very end.  She loved being in the front yard where all the neighbor kids would give her attention. 

Williamsburg Vet Clinic was very kind and let us use their special quiet room, we laid on a soft blanket together, Zoey was given the injection and was gone in less than a minute.  My heart said "no" but my head said it was the kindest thing to do.  We stayed with her body for a little while and we'll get her cremated remains in a few days. 

She was a wonderful affectionate gentle dog and I will miss her.  Boxer's are such clowns and Zoey was no exception.  One time she chewed up a stuffed toy and that was it.  Never trouble, loved everyone she ever met. 

Goodbye monkey girl, I love you.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekend Eats and Treats

Since the Mai Tai Lounge in Omaha is not a convenient place for me to practice my tiki hobby, we're planning a tiki hut/bar in the backyard next year.  With the house all spruced up now, part of the the plan is to make a little "escape from reality".  We'll build a bigger deck and in one back corner I plan to construct an A-framed hut of sorts and load it up with my tiki treasures.  I've been steadily collecting mugs, artwork, carvings and other Polynesian paraphernalia.  I got two of these cool fish float lights from a fellow member at Tiki Central.  Awesome! 

The Boy had requested bbq ribs the other day so I obliged him Saturday evening for dinner.  What with Ribfest in town the last several days, it seemed the tasty thing to do! I got two fresh racks from Sam's club
Saturday morning, put a sweet/smokey rub on them and rested them in the fridge for several hours.  I have read on several barbeque sites that pecan is the Cadillac of wood to use for smoking so I used that.  The chunks of pecan don't have an in-your-face smell and they don't emit much smoke during the cooking process.  But man does it give the meat an awesome taste.  I smoked them slowly for two hours then mopped on some homemade sauce the last thirty minutes of cook time.  Dem bones was good eatin'!

Tonight was a simple Thai chicken sate and some roasted zuchinni and onions from the garden.  Odd combination but pretty darn tasty! 

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

All Spiffed Up

After replacing the siding, we shot new paint on and brush painted the trim and windows.  It's a damn big yellow house! 

Before:  Polished Oak with Hunter Green Trim

After: Quiet Veranda with Fossil Butte trim and Vanilla Milkshake shutters.

Thanks for stopping by!

The Excuse To Rent Machinery

When we decided that the house needed the rotten siding replaced and a whole house paint job, we thought, "We can do that".  My company owns a nice set of scaffolding but after lugging it home and setting it up we realized it was no where near tall enough for what we were doing.

One of our neighbors said he'd rented a "boom lift" for trimming tree branches at his parents acreage.  I checked it out on the internet and the next day we went to NCS Equipment and rented a Genie Boom Lift. What a great machine it turned out to be and we couldn't have done the work on the house without it.  It has a max height of 55 feet and a reach of 29 feet which allowed me to swing up and around the house while I was doing the siding and while the Missus and I then painted the house.  Being towable, we could change the machines position to reach everywhere we needed, including the 30 feet straight up from the driveway.

Off comes the siding.  I left the Celotex insulation attached and covered it with the Super TUFF insulation which was triple ply.  More insulation is a good thing!  Taped all the joints and hung the new siding. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Well, Hello There!

Hey how's it going?  We're still here at the West A house doing pretty good for the most part. It was a wee bit warm today wasn't it?  I've been asked by a few folks (Steve and Ryan in particular) to get back to posting. 

I'll spare you the boring details but lets just say I have some stuff saved up for future posts.  And I've done a few things in the kitchen/on the grill that you might want to try.  Or not! :)

We've had a busy busy summer and it's pretty amazing to think that school starts again on the 18th.  Not to say that summer will be over, hardly.  The dog days are upon us and maybe a bit early this year.

We've had a wonderful summer of swimming, walking in the mornings and evenings, cruising around town and just generally having a good time as a family.  Except for that 10 day period in June.  Did I mention that this year I deemed "Year of the House"?  Well I did.  The crappy siding we chose when the house was built was rotting.  It wasn't properly sealed/primered at the factory and then not properly caulked by myself after it was painted.  It had to come down.  Fortunately it was just the north side.  The east and west sides are a different material and it appears to be okay.  The south side will last until we put vinyl or steel siding on.

I can post one picture from the start of the project, the rest of the pictures are on film not yet developed.  That will be for another post.  The Missus and I did all the work to save money on labor and it turned out great.  A lot of hard work but it had to be done.  Next time someone else can do it.  All of it was rotten at the bottom of each 4 x 9 foot section, and over twenty feet up to the roof peak.

I want to invite you all to the Mt Fuji's in Omaha on September 25th.  You can read about it here or check out the cool promo that Ryan (see above) made.  I'm excited to get back to Mt Fuji's and hope to see you there!

Time to wrap this up with some tasty weekend treats.  Some grilled shrimp and roasted asparagus, very tasty.  Simple marinade of sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, coriander, garlic and lime juice.  Today I made a stuffing of sautéed artichoke hearts with garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. To this I added sun dried tomato, goat cheese and fresh basil.  Rolled that up in some chicken breasts that I pounded out to about a quarter inch and then grilled them.  I should have tossed some apple chunks on for this I think.  It was pretty good.  Put some balsamic and more goat cheese on garden tomatoes for a side.  Aren't good tomatoes about the best thing ever? 

Thanks for hanging in there with me, more posts coming soon!
Have a good week and please stay cool.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tiki Tower

Please visit TikiTower if you can. If you see something you like, buy it!!  I did.  I get no kickbacks from Robert but I sure got a kick out of the artwork he did, mounted on a solid slab of wood all tiki style.  "Cosmo at the Moon Palace" is going up on the wall as soon as I get home from work (night shift boo hiss).  

His artwork is digital, put down one layer at a time from the background to the foreground.  Very cool stuff and a very cool process.

I'd love my backyard to look like this one day although I probably won't have the chimp and snake! Eeeek!!  Now if we can just get a hybrid palm tree to survive Nebraska winters I'll be set.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunshine on my shoulder, WOULD make me happy....

Talk about your Seattle like weather today. I thought it was supposed to be cruddy Saturday but it was beautiful. I hope you got to enjoy the weekend anyway.  Yesterday I worked till noon, forced the family to help me grocery shop, put 2 coats of polyurethane on some baseboard trim that we finally purchased (we've declared 2010, Year of The House).  I'll document the new pre-hung front door when that project happens. I laid in our new hammock for a bit in the sun, very nice and I was almost asleep when either a dog or The Boy ran past and whacked me! All in good fun of course. (Shakes fist in general direction)

Today the missus did her weekend cleaning she likes to do (stress relief). We walked to Coddington Market hardware store and purchased a load of veggies that she then planted in the mist/rain.  If just one of the tomato plants produces well this year, I'll be happy. Should be some garden activity in a few weeks/months.

Had some tasty eats this past week, smoked pork loin (leftovers for pork chili, hat tip to The Dish), low and slow barbecued chicken thighs (a repeat, and much better this time) and spicy grilled pork and mango kebabs.  The kebabs were the winner, dry rub of chili powder, cumin, oregano, granulated garlic.  Toss the cubed pork with olive oil, them sprinkle the rub on and toss well again.  Getting decent mango chunks proved tougher than expected as my mangoes were too ripe, dang good but too ripe.  The fruit wanted to fall apart on the grill but turned out really tasty.  Have to try that one again soon.  The final dish was served with a reduction of orange and lime juices, some honey and a bit of salt. 

Yes, I eat a lot of broccoli!

Have a great week everybody!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

To all the Mothers out there today, I hope you have a wonderful day.  To Mindy, Bonnie, Ginger and Cheryl, we love you here at the West A House! And the Boy and I will be thinking about you all day.  You are our Sun and we revolve around you. Thank you for all you do for us every day of the year not just today.

Now on to the food!

Roasting carrots and brussel sprouts in the rain, pork chops and roasted asparagus, Cinco de Mayo shredded chicken soft tacos, Angus steak with roasted new potatoes, baby button mushrooms and Vidalia onions, shrimp sate and sticky rice.

I hope you're all enjoying spring so far (except for that blasted wind).  The tulips are pretty much gone but the Iris are opening and the lillies are getting ready to pop.  All the cold crops are doing well in the garden, onions, mixed greens and peas. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

So I've been really busy at work and in the evenings the last couple of weeks.  Lots and lots of yard work with everything growing and sprouting and turning green again.  Sadly our American Willow had three large trunks develop rot from ants and they came down the other day in the 40 mph wind gusts. 

I've kept the Tiki flame burning brightly this spring with the arrival of Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's newest book last month.  I've been waiting for my copy since I ordered it last August.  I greedily tore open the package and the book opened upon the brand new South Pacific Punch recipe (see bottom) so I made two to christen the book!!  Delicious!  I can hardly wait to explore this book from cover to cover.

I will be back to blogging food and beverage very soon loyal reader!  I have to tell you that the other day I grilled some chicken with a simple lemon-mustard glaze and roasted some asparagus spears in a veggie basket on the grille at the same time.  The spears were just tossed with olive oil and cooked up very nice.
Anyway, my creative wife took some leftover chicken and some asaparagus and made the most delicous chicken salad I've had in some time.   Along with those she added some chopped red onion and a bit of black pepper and coarse ground mustard.  It was delish!

See you soon!!

South Pacfic Punch
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh orange juice
.5 oz passion fruit syrup
.5 oz falernum
2 oz gold Puerto Rican rum
1 oz dark Jamaican rum
shake well with ice, pour unstrained into tall glass, garnish with fresh
mint sprigs  (I used a pineapple leaf since I had no mint that day)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gai Yang, Thai Barbecue Chicken

Our last trip to Vina and Viet Hao markets didn't produce everything I've been wanting in the kitchen.  So I ordered some Healthy Boy brand sweet soy sauce from Import Food.  If you can't find it in Lincoln, they probably have it.  I ordered quite an assortment of staples and I'm looking forward to some more Thai and Vietnamese dishes.  But not to worry, Vung Tau is still on speed dial!

Last night I made a marinade for the chicken of oyster sauce, sweet soy sauce, garlic, fresh ginger, salt, pepper and satay seasoning from Penzeys.  Rinsed the chicken in cold water, patted it dry with paper towels and put it in a dish deep enough to let the marinade cover it.  Before I poured the marinade on, I rubbed the chicken with lime halves.  The longer you marinate this, the better.  If you're pressed for time, let it sit for at least two hours.

When I got home this evening, I quick thin sliced a cucumber, half a red onion and a whole deseeded jalapeno.  In a bowl went a half cup cider vinegar, sugar and salt.  Whisk this up till the sugar and salt are dissolved and toss in the veggies.  Chill this in the fridge while your grill is heating and while cooking the chicken.  I put the chicken skin side down right over the hot coals for no more than a minute to sear the skin and give it nice grill marks.  Then moved it away from the heat, covered the grill and 40 minutes later it was done.  Serve some sticky rice and sweet chili sauce with this and you'll love it. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bún chả giò (Vietnamese for delicious?)

The better half and I have been going to Vung Tau at 27th & Y Street for a while now. They have some of the best food I've ever eaten. It's a local family run restaurant and you're going to go there for the food and not the ambiance! But you really should go, really!

We've talked about the possibilites of making some dishes at home so we read up on the subject and decided to jump in. There are several good places on the internet to do research and thankfully Lincoln has become diverse enough I wasn't worried about finding what we needed. We went to Vina Market and grabbed some goodies to make the dish.

First let's make a sauce called Nuoc mam pha. "Mixed fish sauce" comes with some of the meals we have at Vung Tau and without it, you won't be happy. The basic recipe is this, 1 part lime or lemon juice. (I used lime and 4 tablespoons to set my ratio) 1 part fish sauce. 1 part sugar and 2 parts water. To this I added two teaspoons each of minced garlic and hot pepper flakes.  Heat in a sauce pan on medium high until the sugar dissolves and then cool it in the fridge. 

The main dish consists of coarsely chopped fresh greens, sliced spring onions, bean sprouts, a handful of mint leaves, and sliced cucumber. Over this add some rice noodles (vermicelli), roasted peanuts, roasted or grilled pork, and fried spring rolls.  I spoon the nuoc mam pha right over my bowl so it trickles down over all those good things.

I had a nice pork roast from Leon's hollering at me so I marinated it earlier in the day in hoisin sauce, molasses, brown sugar, minced Bird's eye chili and garlic, red currant jelly and Golden Mountain Sauce. After marinating 6 hours, I slow cooked it over some of that Cowboy charcoal until it was 165 degrees internal temp. 

We love this dish and even "the Boy" ate it!  And I'm thinking about having it for lunch again today!

Have a good week! Stay dry and I pledge to post more for the five of you who still read this!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bali H'ai May Call You....

Any night, any day, In your heart, you'll hear it call you: "Come away...Come away." Bali Ha'i will whisper in the wind of the sea: "Here am I, your special island! Come to me, come to me!"

I took the better half to South Pacific at the Lied Center Saturday. It wrapped up her birthday which was earlier this month. If you got the Journal Star last Sunday the 21st, she was the one in the cute pink dress on the cover of the Celebrate section.

South Pacific was great. Great cast, great vocals, great production. It was a thorougly enjoyable performance and the three hours went by fast. I sat there looking at the set with the huge palm tree and rolling beach dunes and the island Bali H'ai in the distance. Really had a longing to get to French Polynesia soon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Winter Nature

We've seen a Cooper's Hawk in our backyard during the winter months. It's been doing a number on the rabbits and birds. Tuesday it mauled some kind of bird on our deck railing leaving a bloody feathery mess.

I don't mind really, animals are amazing to watch. I wish the hawk much success thinning the population of rabbits. Maybe a few squirels too!

So I was surprised Wednesday to get these pictures of a Golden Eagle in an email. I don't know who took the pictures or where but Thank You just the same. What an awesome display of nature.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nasi Lemak

This looks really really good. Drop by Lincolnite and check out this post. The pictures are beautiful and the food looks delicious. I'll be doing some research for recipes and try to make some of these dishes. For sure some nasi lemak, the Malay national dish. Coconut milk cooked rice with chicken, peanuts, anchovies and hot sauce. Mmmm! I love the smiley face in the tomato slice.

Thanks Mr. T for letting me use one of your pictures!