Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pinewood Derby

The Boyo had his first ever Pinewood Derby today!  It is much different these days than it was when I raced my little cars lo those many years ago.  The track is aluminum and eight lanes instead of wood and four lanes.  There is high tech computer software to track heats and races and on and on and on...

His car raced eight times against other cars from the pack.  He got third place three times, second place three times and won two of his heats!  Best of all he was a gracious winner and a gracious loser.  Always cheering for his car, but sincerely congratulating the guys who beat him.  Not many other kids did that.  And none were as enthusiastic about their car.  I was a very proud Daddy.

As for building the car... We worked as a team.  I cut the parts and did some shaping, then he glued it up, sanded it and painted most of it.  I did the eyes and smile at his request.  We both worked on the wheels and he even did most of the wheel installation.  He did a great job!  So here is his car... Lightning McQueen!

It was a bit of a challenge, but I got off lucky.  His first design choice was the dragon from 'How to Tame Your Dragon'.  I love that kid, he is such a good sport!

More Later

Monday, February 14, 2011


For Valentines Day, my sweetheart got me a new pan and silicone spatula to pan sear some supper.

A couple of nights ago, I made seared chicken with cashew and feta.  It was OK, but didn't sear really well in the non-stick pan.  So the new pan is conventional and sears VERY well!

To break it in, I made the recipe that I had made in class.  This time I got a picture!

Behold, Turkey Tenderloins with Bacon and Spinach!

Sauce made with chicken broth, cooking sherry, a little cream, some butter and roasted garlic.  And the bacon and blanched baby spinach, of course.  The Wife inspired me to make JUST the sauce to spread on toast.  That's a project for today!  Tasty stuff.

More Later

Friday, February 11, 2011

Epicurian Adventures

Last night I attended my very first culinary class.  It was a community education class - not the start of a new career.  Eighteen people had gathered at one of the local high schools very nice home ec. departments to learn to pan sear meat and make pan sauces.

The chef was from the Cities and has a little restaurant up there.  He brought six recipes and all the food required to make them.  We listened carefully to him as he demonstrated a few things we'd need to know to make our dishes.  He also broke us into six teams of three and each team was assigned a dish to make.  I was on the team making pan seared turkey tenderloin with spinach and bacon. 

He also gave us a general recipe for pan searing consisting of seven steps, that use four categories of foodstuffs and covers a wide range of meals.  It is really quite simple.

Make a list of meats, a list of liquids, a list of chunky stuff, and a list of herbs, spices, butters and such.  Liquids are such things as chicken or beef broth, cooking wines or sherrys, cream, fruit juices, vinegars... that sort of thing.  Chunky stuff is fruits and veggies, dried or otherwise.

Then you just choose a meat, a couple of chunky things, some liquids and some herbs and such and follow the seven steps to searing and saucing!

We used Conventional frying pans, the NON non-stick kind, and he was big into silicone spatulas, though we used a wooden spoon and our sauce turned out yummy.

I did learn a few interesting things that I didn't know.  Patting meat dry to remove the wet protein coating helps it not stick as much to the conventional pan.  Better ways to peel ginger and how to butcher an artichoke. 

One of the three team members on our turkey team decided he would rather do the steak recipe, and so right off the bat it was just me and one other person.  We had our hands full, but managed to make a pretty tasty bird dish!  When all was said and done, we got to cook and sample the following dishes...

Boneless Pork Chops with Dried Cranberries and Mustard
Chicken Breast with Roasted Tomatoes, Black Olive and Goat Cheese
Chicken with Braised Artichoke
Rosemary Mushroom Steak
Salmon with Curried Leeks
and of course, the Turkey Tenderloin.

It was gastronomically delightful!  I even liked the artichoke, which I have not had that much of.

Now I am prepared to sear and sauce for my family, who will reap the rewards of my adventures in cooking class!

More Later

Saturday, February 5, 2011


So I've signed up for three sprint triathlons for this summer.  That's right... three.  Pigman near Palo, Ia.  Rochesterfest, here in my town.  Hickory Grove, which was my very first one last year.  I'll also be signing up to do the Tour de Kirkwood down where my brother lives.  He is signing up too.  And I think my Dad may be joining us for that one as well.

After the intestinal troubles I've been having, I am realizing just how lucky I am to be able to do these sprint tri's.  And also how much work is involved in training for them!  My gut set my training back by a couple of weeks, and now I'm playing catch up - trying to get my running miles up to where they should have been by now. 

Of course, I'm also being cautious, because I don't want to push myself into injury.  My gut is still a little twingy too, and that has cut a run or two short.

But I am still super motivated to do these tri's.  Mostly because of how great I felt after the first one I ran.  I knew I was not anywhere close to my USMC fitness levels.  Back then I was running 7 minute miles for the 3 mile runs.  But I felt much better than I had in months.  Maybe years.  And the training was a lot of fun! 

This year my goal is weight loss and building up those old muscles again.  Times are a close second.  Most of all, I want to improve my running.  So I will be doing more running than last year.  Hopefully by the end of the season I will not only have met and exceeded my goals, but will still be alive to enjoy the rewards!

So if I can train for four triathlons this year... almost anyone can.  What's your excuse for not doing something like this?  :)

More Later

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Today the boyo is having his first ever hot lunch at school.  He is so excited and is even willing to miss out on peanut butter and jelly to eat the school offering.  Trying to get him to eat anything but PBJ's for lunch has been a challenge, and even when we ask him what he'd like for supper his answer is often PBJ's.

So this morning I have a little time to write that would ordinarily be spent fixing a lunch.

I reflected on how the recent medical fun could have gone for me.  Surgery, colostomy bag, more surgery, long hospital stays, maybe even (extreme, I know) death.  It could have been so much worse.  On my return visit to the doc, he told me there is a 1 in 5 chance that this will happen again.  And if it does happen sooner rather than later, I'll probably have to have the surgery and all the rest.  Except the death, I hope.  I'd really like to avoid that.  I could have elective surgery that would take the risk down to 3- 5%.  But that would require surgery, which I really want to avoid.  So I'm hoping to be one of the 4 out of 5 people that it does NOT happen to again! 

I thought about the interesting notion of transitioning from a health care worker to being a patient.  Just the sort of patient that I have sometimes picked up and transported.  And for the briefest moment I was a little saddened by the prospect.  But then I remembered I am also transitioning from calling myself a Paramedic as a job, to calling myself a Knifemaker, or an Artist, for a job.  Switching vocations, learning new things.  Watching my kiddos grow up. 

Life is full of transitions.  Some pretty lousy.  But many more very exciting and fun.  I suppose the lesson I need to learn is to accept the transitions and be able to appreciate the experience of each one.

Still, I'm a little sad sending my little boy to school without a packed lunch.

More Later