Archive for May 2008

A Few Days Off

originally posted at

I had a few days off this week. My good friend Burke was coming in to visit from Germany (he’s not German) so I took Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off from work and we spent a bunch of time driving around doing various things. Seems like now we didn’t really do much at all but it was well spent I think because I was tired at the end of it for sure. Burke is a bit the opposite from me, terminally skinny, eats constantly. I gained 2 pounds back while he stayed at my house, mostly because we ate out so much. It was fun though, we managed to go to Yapona and had some good sushi even though we made the newb mistake of going on Monday night. I broke Anthony Bourdain’s cardinal rule (more or less). Fortunately I seem to have lived to tell the tale. Honestly it was pretty good though I could tell the difference. Amusing anecdote: I have had a similar experience everywhere in Utah when ordering the ama-ebi (sweet shrimp) sushi. Every time they take my order, and then sullenly return to the table a couple minutes later with the news that they are ‘out’ of sweet shrimp. I love sweet shrimp because it is delicate and succulent and pretty, but mostly because it is elusive and rare, apparently. So at this last trip to Yapona I was joking to the cute waitress (who did a great job by the way) that every time I order ama ebi anywhere in Utah they are always out and I have come to suspect it is some kind of inside joke for sushi joints to put it on the menu but never actually serve it. She assured me that they did, in fact, have ama ebi and would bring it to me promptly if I were to order it. So I did.

She took the rest of our order and headed back to the kitchen, only to return seconds later with the hang-dog look of a person defeated. She reported the sad news: no ama ebi.Cry

In any case, everything else was good. We also ate at a great new taco place in Provo, at Brigham’s Landing. I can’t remember the name right now but it was quite tasty and very different from what I expected. I ordered basic chicken tacos and was rewarded with five little fresh made corn masa tortillas with grilled, marinated chicken, red onion, and cilantro and a well stocked salsa bar to compliment them. It was quite nice. I went for lunch, which for me usually consists of a Larabar, so I was looking for something light and not too filling. This was about perfect except I ended up giving the fifth one to Burke because I had eaten enough already. I think they would do better to let people order the tacos as they wish a la carte, I would have ordered 3 of different variety (they had a spit roasted combo of what looked like ham, pork, and chicken that they were shaving slices off of for some other type of taco). I can imagine people would probably actually order more that way, given that most people tend to be a bit gluttonous when presented with small individual portions available for variety ordering.

In between eating all over the place, we also went to see Iron Man. For me it was my second time and Burke’s first. I think he enjoyed it though he didn’t really say so. I loved it almost as much the second time around. It’s quite a fun show and the only thing I would change would be to make it slightly longer so as to give Jeff Bridges more screen time as Obediah Stane. He really did a great job, I seem to enjoy him in pretty much anything I have seen him in. Plus, Gwyneth Paltrow is very cute as a redhead, probably her role I have enjoyed the most in recent memory.

I have to say I’m quite proud of myself, during this short vacation I managed to not miss a single day of my normal schedule of exercise. If I had I probably would have gained five pounds instead of two.Laughing

Now it’s back to the grind to catch up on all the work that needed me while I was away, actually I caught up on a lot of it yesterday so today shouldn’t be too bad as long as no one pulls a standard ‘Ooops, it’s Friday and I left everything till now but it has to be done by Monday. Sorry, Jon, you bail me out!’ kind of move. I’m not holding my breath though.Wink

Happy Mothers’ Day to all you Mothers!

originally posted at

Happy Mothers’s Day. My Mom is the best, of course. She’s British, from just outside London and has a bit of an accent still, so that’s extra cool.

Mom raised a family of seven children, six of them boys no less. She taught us so much about life and how to treat each other and how to approach the world. Not to minimize Dad’s efforts, he is awesome too, but he was at work a lot of the time and didn’t have to put up with a lot of our insanity and wild behavior. Mom was always there. She didn’t work a traditional job like a lot of mothers do these days because she wanted to have time for the family but what she did was more than a full time job. She helped with homework, church activities not just for the kids but for huge events with hundreds of people attending too. She cooked a real, healthy meal pretty much every day at the same time as caring for pretty much the whole neighboorhood too, whenever anyone was sick, or had a baby or a death in the family, she made extras to take around so whomever was having a hard time didn’t have to worry about feeding their family too.

All six boys are Eagle Scouts, and my sister Heather took awards in several activities and competitions for 4H. Mom hurt her back pretty badly assisting during the birth of a foal (that’s a baby horse to you and I) a number of years ago but it doesn’t really slow her down. She is visibly in pain sometimes but she doesn’t seem to let it change her desire to make sure everything gets done and done right, and to make sure that no one is ever left wanting. All through our time in school she either participated in or led the PTA type groups and helped out with all kinds of activities and outings. Sometimes it was a little tiresome to have your mom show up at school but she never embarassed me! Well, not too much anyway.Embarassed

For the last 10 years or so she has been very active politically, serving on the Lindon city planning commity and eventually being elected to the City Council. I think she has now served 2 or 3 terms and is in the midst of her 4th, if I rememeber right. She isn’t always the most popular council member with her fellow representatives but you can tell they all respect (maybe even fear?) her because she sticks to her principles and doesn’t let people get away with shady deals and things that are not in the best, long term interest of the town.

Mom also spends a lot of time each week on Genealogy research for our own family and one full day a week at the Family History center in Salt Lake City teaching other people how to do research on their own. She also travels to England every few years to see family and do more hands-on research in parishes and graveyards there where our extended family and ancestors live(d).

Oh, and she still cooks dinner for the whole family every Sunday. With all the spouses and grandkids we’re now a group of over 15 most weeks. It’s pretty crazy but she keeps a handle on it all.

Here is a picture of her in 2004 holding my neice, Marissa. We were on a family camp for a couple days and this was on the way home. We stopped to take some pictures and walk around a nice little canyon area.

My Mom Is The Best!

I love you Mom, you’re a great example to your family and to women everywhere.

Olive Oil. No, not the skinny girl.

originally posted at

Recently this new brand of olive oil showed up at my local Super Target store. It’s less expensive thant some of the other high quality olive oils, about $10 a bottle (others are $14 to $18) and it tastes wonderful. It’s Australian, which is obviously not Italian, but it has a similar bright and fresh taste and obviously cooks just the same. So far I would say it is similar in every way to any of other commonly available olive oils I have found and since it is a bit less expensive and comes as either a mellow flavor or fruity flavor (I prefer the fruity flavor, meaning more olive flavor, not Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit flavor) I’m sticking with this stuff for now. Best part, you can go to their site to join their tasting club and they’ll send you a fancy oilive oil tasting glass. Wicked cool.

Along with this great olive oil, of course I have to have some balsamic vinegar. I have a new favorite there as well. Basically balsamic vinegar gets better with age and concentration, so this being a 20 year vinegar means it is better than the 1-3 year stuff you find for a couple bucks a bottle most places. The best part is that it really does taste better but it doesn’t cost a lot more like some other aged vinegars. I’ve tried a couple 15 year and 30 year vinegars that I didn’t like as much so this is a nice balance of price and quality. It is from Super Target as well. It’s expensive enough to use only in things like salads or other applications where you will taste the vinegar itself as opposed to use in recipes where it will be cooked or reduced down anyway (which can improve the flavor of most vinegars regardless their age).

Pretty much every night I make a nice, big salad of leaf lettuces and tomato with a dressing of these two ingredients plus a little fresh ground black pepper. I’ve tried at least 20 to 30 other bottled dressings and I keep coming back to this simple combination.