A couple With Chicken

Two chicken recipes that I made recently need to be written down so that I don’t forget them.

The pizza one was simple — there were a few thighs left over in the freezer, and I wanted to do something a little different with them for a pizza. So, I grilled the chicken with salt and pepper, then cut it into littlleish pieces appropriate for a pizza. Add two cloves of garlic, finely minced, some cilantro, a good squeeze of lime, and some thin sliced fresh grape tomatoes. Put that all on the pizza under the cheese, and yum. Home run on that one. The only remaining piece was even good the next day.

Chicken Lime Cilantro Pizza

And then, in the “I’ve got all these things out, and I need food, and I can’t open the fridge because of a power outage” category, there’s a chicken stew. This one turned out pretty easy with a nice subtle flavor. And helpfully, it’s a one pot meal of stuff that I had available when I had no lights. So, on the one propane burner: one diced onion, cooked till softening, then added cut up chicken thighs. Then, in went some cut up carrot bits, and a bunch of rose fingerling potatoes in half to one inch rounds. A quart of water or so, and some basil, salt, and maybe other herbs that smelled good. Simmered for 20 minutes or so in the dark till the potatoes were soft enough. Yummy enough to do again, even if I’m not prepping by candlelight. (Though to be fair, the adults liked this more than the kids did).

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Catching up with Christmas Dinner

I going to finally write this post, after saying every year that I should and then not doing it, since it could be really useful next time around. Especially considering that the timing this time around was more perfect than I could have possibly planned for and less stress than last time. Oh yeah, and I’m doing this on two burners and one oven. (And a wood stove)

Preparing Christmas dinner

To be done a day or more ahead of time:

  • Turkey — brine for 24 hours in fridge, then let rest dry for 24 hours in fridge. Following the cooks illustrated brining guide for roasting, using the low sugar version.
  • Stuffing — best done a day ahead, kept in the fridge in a ceramic pan, then heated in the oven for an hour before serving. Half a quart of broth to the 6ish quart pan of stuff.
  • Cranberry Sauce — a day ahead, or whatever. Keeps well.
  • Dough for rolls — make and rest in the garage overnight (40f), form into rolls Christmas Eve, leave in kitchen to proof slowly.
  • Chocolate peppermint cheesecake for dessert

The day of, for eating at lunchish time.

  • Rolls in early, any breakfast foods (german pancake, coffee cake) need to be out of the oven by 4 hours prior to eating.
  • Turkey in at T-4hours @325, foil on breast and legs, olive oil and butter for basting occasionally. Foil off after an hour or so.
  • Potatoes (Yukon gold) in to parboil for 10 minutes at T-2hours. Oil in metal nonstick pan to preheat for roasting, dry them, and they should be in the oven by T-1:30.
  • open wine, check quality
  • Simple gravy, butter roux, turkey broth, touch of soy sauce
  • Iron linens
  • Prep mashed sweet potatoes and carrots and parsnips for cooking around T-1hr
  • Turkey out to rest at T-1hr, at 165 degrees, foil covered
  • Stuffing in the oven at T-1hr. Oven to 425 or 450
  • Prep salad, assemble except for dressing
  • Carrots and parsnips, Mashed sweet potatoes in serving dishes, covered, on back of wood stove to keep warm
  • Prep Brussels sprouts, soak in cold water for 15 minutes
  • Soup on to heat T-30m
  • Check stuffing T-15m
  • Warm rolls in oven T-15
  • Heat Brussels sprout water, start cooking when soup is served.
  • warm meat platter on wood stove
  • Open wine
  • Serve soup course T-5min
  • Carve turkey, bring out other food
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Power outage again

So, the power is out again. Third time this season, and this time it’s been over dinner time. (The second was fun, the parents had just arrived, and dinner was just about ready when click. I had to go shut down the computers, and then the smoke detectors, since the extractor fan was somewhat necessary off that dinner.)

I love how quiet and peaceful it is in the house with nearly no electronics running. The only noise is the hiss of the wind, the occasional banging on the walls from kids needing something after bed time and the distant roar of the neighbors generators. There are pings and clicks from the wood stove, little cat paws on carpet. (And now, tapping on the iPad to type).

So far we’ve been out from 4pm till 11pm. The Internet is up for a few minutes on battery, but that’s not going to last long.

Edit: Total outage was from 4pm to midnight, then again from 7:30am to 9am. The second outage was complicated by the generator at the well not powering the pump properly. There’s going to be some debugging on that when the weather is a bit better.

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Catching up with Christmas Presents, a review

Quick reviews of a couple of the more surprising presents.

The good: Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. Awesome 5 star book for preschoolers. It held the entire family’s attention when read aloud, 3 times in a row. This was far and away the best book this time around.

The meh: Lego City,The Mine. It’s a big set, lots of stuff to make and play with. That part’s good. Unfortunately, the mine part, with its rocks and mountain, conveyor and crane are really fragile and fall apart when the kids play with them. Lego is normally better about that, the other sets that came in were definitely better on the durability front. ( though one of the helicopter rotors seems to fall apart, but that’s probably more of a rough play thing than a design flaw)

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The rainy season

After just one weekend and a bit of the rains returning, the land has nearly forgotten about the 80 days of no rain… The chickens’ rain barrel is full to overflowing, there are wind blown pin needles and branches everywhere, and we’ve had our first ext ended power outage of the season. Early this morning, I woke up to the sounds of UPSes complaining, and later, I woke up to the sound of a 3 yr old complaining about the lack of yogurt or milk or light switches to play with.

Ah, winter. The other 9 months of the year.

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iOS 6

Just updated to iOS 6 on the iPad. Nice enough, except…. Maps.

Langley is not on Hat island, and it doesn’t take over an hour and two ferries to get there from Freeland.



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Summer Begins — a day early!

July 4th was the first day of the year that I did not wear a fleece outdoors. It was warm enough that I was able to go out in just a tshirt, from doing outdoor stuff in the morning, to the Maxwelton parade, to the bonfire at night. It was warm and sunny with only a few puffy white clouds. Summer. July 3rd, when we have fireworks? Cool. Gloomy. A little rain.

Since summer actually begins on July 5th around here, the only explanation I have is that the weather is off by a day due to the leap year.

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Christmas Tree Burn

We has our annual summer solstice christmas tree burn yesterday. Noble firs are much less impressive than the other kinds of trees we’ve had. This one still had a bunch of green needles, and the stiff, widely spaced branches didn’t hold the needles quite close enough to have a good FOOOMM factor. It took several minutes for all the needles to burn, and even then, we had to push some of them down with poker sticks.

At least we had perfect weather, for a weekend that was supposed to be a washout, it was 70ish and sunny all afternoon, with no clouds as dusk fell and the stars started to come out. The kids finally got to bed by about 11ish, when it was nearly almost truly dark.

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Adventures in Powerline Networking

One of the little issues with the house is that the wifi and the DSL are on one end of the house, where everything is nicely networked with Gig-E, and most of the wireless clients are on the other end, where there’s no data wiring at all. And, there are either a couple of exterior walls or a really solid door in the way. So, in the main living area, I’m seeing 300k/second transfer speeds over a wireless A/B/G/N network. Enough for a iTunes stream to the airport expresses, but not enough to reliably do streaming movies.

While it might be possible to get into the little attic spaces and run some ethernet, it’s not for the faint of heart or those sensitive to confined spaces. So, I was hoping that I’d get powerline networking (HomeAV) to the rescue. Picked up a Netgear XAVB1004-100NAS, as it seemed to get decent reviews from Newegg. Nominally, it’s 200Mbps, or full duplex 100. Practically, it’s… less than that.

On a single extension cord, with both halves on opposite sides of the same plug, I got about 8.5 MB/sec, which is within spitting distance of fully saturated. Unfortunately, that’s with only about an inch of copper between them. On the same branch circuit, it’s not bad, and you still retain most of the performance. But once you cross the breaker box, it’s all downhill from there.

The most convenient plugin spot had only marginally better performance than using Wifi, using one of the airport expresses as a repeater. (That’s the 900k/second spot). I was planning on running the powerline networking there to give the airport express an ethernet connection to extend the wifi, but there was very audible interference through the stereo speakers.

So, falling back to plan B, I mapped out the bandwidth of the powerline networking to all the outlets in the main room. The next most convenient locations all had worse bandwidth, including one location that only got the occasional ping through, but no data to speak of.

Plan C, the final idea, was to put the Airport base station in the entry way, and connect it to the fastest outlet that isn’t in my office. At least that gets it through the door and in a near line of sight to most of the wireless clients. It’s a run of less than 20 feet, and still I lose about half the available bandwidth. But it projects the wifi into the living room far better than before. It’s also enough to get Facetime into the far corner of the house, at least, if you set the iPad on the right part of the table. There’s still a little interference with the stereo noticable only when the house is quiet, but a ferrite bead on the power cord cuts it by half or more. It’s only when there’s a bunch of network traffic, not constantly on the carrier like when the powerline networking plug was on the same outlet.

Ultimately, the solution is to climb into the attic, crawl through some small person sized holes, drill some cable sized holes, and run some cable. But that’s not going to be an easy or clean job that I can do in an hour in the evening.

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New Table

New Table

New Table, with helpers

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