Thursday, January 31, 2013

Relationship Danger Signs

This is an article I should have read and memorized at the age of 13.  Unfortunately, it wasn't written yet, so I had to learn the hard way.

Read and pass on to any youngsters in your life.  Many of these tips work for both genders.

Knowing that your judgment is clouded, it’s important to enter any serious relationship with both your head and your heart. You need be able to distance yourself from the powerful emotions you’re likely feeling in a new relationship so that you can notice any red flags that might indicate that you’re destined for a relationship from hell. This is doubly important if you’re considering marriage.

But what sort of red flags should you be on the lookout for? While every man has his own personal relationship red flags or deal breakers, psychologists and marriage experts have found there are a few general red flags you should be aware of. Most of these are patterns of behavior in your partner that will likely (not definitely) result in a troubled relationship down the road.

Because people are usually on their best behavior at the beginning of a relationship, some of these red flags won’t appear for awhile. According to Dr. Van Epp, it’s usually around the three-month mark that deep-seated patterns start to manifest themselves. This delay is why he and other relationship experts recommend that you take romantic relationships nice and slow.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spicy Sake Ahi

I gotta admit, I love Trader Joes.  Great folks, good food and unbeatable prices.  When one opened up here, I wondered what all the fuss was about, but when Mrs. Wraith insisted we go, I found myself amazed at the selection and value.

Last time we went, we ended up bringing home some ahi steaks, and I decided to make an experimental marinade.

Here's what you'll need:  Ahi steaks, a Ziploc bag, green onions, soy sauce, chili garlic paste, sake, ground ginger...

...and ground mustard.  Chop the green onions, reserving some of the tips for garnish.

Add 1/2 c soy sauce, 1/3 c sake, 2 tsp chili garlic paste,

And 1/2 tsp each of the ground ginger and ground mustard.

Close the bag and shake well to mix.  Add the ahi and marinate for a couple of hours.  Sear each side, then cook about 10 minutes on medium-high heat.  Garnish with onion tips.

Mexican Twinkies

Living in the Southwest, there's a lot of culinary bleedover from our southern neighbors.  Since our Twinkie supply appears to be in jeopardy due to the Hostess bankruptcy, I figured I'd spread the word that there is hope for the sweets-deprived.  I present to you the Turbo-Twinkie:  El Gansito!!

These things make Twinkies look SO last century.  Sponge cake, unwhipped cream filling along with strawberry jelly, all wrapped in chocolate and garnished with chocolate sprinkles.  Guaranteed to blow your diet straight to hell, but well worth it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


There are quite a few feral cats running around our little part of the world, including a couple who come to visit us on a regular basis.   I've noticed there's quite a few cats like this around--fluffy and narrow-faced. Maybe we're starting a whole new breed.  They're too skittish to get near, but they've gotten mostly used to us, or at least used to the food.  Meet Stumpy and Cloud:

That was taken on a nice day, as opposed to today, when it's been pouring rain and the poor little bedraggled things were sitting on the back porch begging.
Some folks ask why we bother feeding strays.  It's a double layer of home protection, really.  Spike, Sam and Glock take care of any vermin that gets in, and hopefully, Stumpy, Cloud and their buddies will keep them from getting in from the start.
Besides, they're cute little guys, and it's kinda sweet having a couple of contented puffballs relaxing on your porch.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On idiocy

Wraith:  Hey, they have Hello Kitty squirt guns now!

Mrs. Wraith:  Really?

Wraith:  Yeah, and a 5 year old girl was just suspended for just talking about hers.

Mrs. Wraith:  Why, because it's a squirting pussy?

Wraith:  (chuckle)  Good one.  No, apparently it constituted a 'terroristic threat.'

Mrs. Wraith:  I like my explanation better.  It makes more sense.

Wraith:  Point.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Mrs. Wraith puts up with

Mrs. Wraith:  I bought some intellectual reading material yesterday.  Holds up a copy of Astronomy magazine, with a big headline reading, "When Stars Go Bang."

Wraith:  You know what happens when stars go bang.  Astronomers film it and they make star porn.

Mrs. Wraith:  Omigod...

Wraith:  Bowm-chicka-wow-wow...

Mrs. Wraith:  Heads into the bedroom.  I'm not listening to you...

Hey, she had her chance to run away, and she still said "I do."

It's not an unexcused absence!

The dog ate my homework cold ate my plumbing.  Really.

The moron who built this place ran all the water on the property through a shed out back, with a shutoff valve that was nonfunctional.  So when the uninsulated pipes blew up from the recent cold snap, there was no way to stop Prescott Falls other than shutting off all the water to the house.  This is not helpful for such things as cooking, washing the resulting dishes, flushing the toilet, or basically anything.

Now, there was a positive side, at least for me.  When the first thing you see in the morning is a beautiful naked woman standing in the bathtub looking like an even hotter Venus on the Half Shell, that can't help but make your day a little brighter.  When said woman is doing so for the purpose of taking a shower from a couple of cooking pots with stove-warmed water(and definitely NOT happy about it), however...

Well, it is what it is.  Luckily, one of our brothers in the Eagles is a plumber, and managed to solve the problem once and for all, at a more-than-reasonable price.  Once it gets warmer, I'm tearing that damn shed down so that one stone may not stand upon another.  I'll use the lights, sink and AC in the garage, the siding to fix some broken skirting, the frame for firewood, and the leftover drywall and shingles to throw at solicitors who ignore the sign.

As for the leftover concrete pad?  Maybe a big-ass BBQ pit, or if we can score a great deal on a hot tub...

Anyway, I'll be back in full swing in short order.  And Glock just jumped up in my lap and farted.  You probably didn't need to know that, but if I have to suffer through it, you at least have to read about it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I've thought the same thing...

"Man has dominion over the animals, a right as fundamental as others we have to protect and sustain our family. But it's a role that should be exercised, not just with pride, but with humility, honoring the stewardship we have been charged with, just as we should honor the laws of our God and our community."

Take some time and RTWT at Home On The Range

Cookin' it Old School: Pork Chops in Sour Cream Sauce

When my mother passed away, I had about six days to travel 1600 miles to another country, get everything squared away, and get back.  I couldn't take nearly everything I wanted to, but I made sure to grab her cookbooks, which included some very old ones. I find it fascinating to see how folks cooked when they were closer to their food, before the days of instant this and microwave that.

We did a Costco run the other day and came back with, among other things, a 9-pack of pork chops, each one of which is the approximate size of a Cadillac. So I broke out this gem:

(Sorry...I've no idea why my phonecam keeps rotating things and getting all weird.)

...and found a great recipe.  My changes are annotated below the copy.

Pork Chops In Sour Cream Sauce

4 shoulder, rib or loin pork chops or pork steaks*
1 1/2 tsp instant minced onion or 2 tbs chopped onion*
1/8 tsp instant minced garlic or 1 clove garlic, minced*
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup catsup or chili sauce*
2 tbs brown sugar
1 bouillon cube or 1 tsp instant bouillon*
2 tbs flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream

In fry pan, brown chops on both sides.  Add onion, garlic, 1/2 c water, catsup, brown sugar and bouillon.  Cover and simmer 30-40 min until tender.

Combine flour with 1/4 c water.  Remove chops to heated platter, add flour mixture to cooking liquid.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens.  Reduce heat, add sour cream.  Heat, but do not boil.  Serve over meat along with noodles or rice.

*  So, we only used three of these chops...the damn things are about 1.5" thick, and it's more than enough for us.

For onion, I had some shallots that were almost past their prime, so I minced and substituted them.  Shallots are right there in the onion family, if a little stronger.  Should have a little more bite, but nothing too drastic..

For garlic, I tossed in about 2 tsp of pre-minced garlic, because, well, garlic.

The choice between ketchup and chili sauce was obvious; when cooking from a mass-produced American recipe book, use the highest heat they recommend.  For Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and other cuisines, use caution.  Chili sauce it is.

I did the bouillon cube, since I wasn't going to open a can of beef stock for a freakin' teaspoon.


It made a very nice, understated but enjoyable and filling meal.  A thick, comforting sauce with a noticeable sweetness blanketing the whole experience.  I'm thinking of tossing in some hot sauce or hot curry powder next time to spice it up a bit, though Mrs. Wraith isn't sure about the idea.  Either way, it's a keeper.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

First try at Korean cooking: Dakjim (닭찜)

Well, we had some chicken defrosted, so I got my honky self over to Maangchi's site for some ideas.   On Sunday, I tried my hand at making Dakjim, Korean braised chicken and vegetables.

There were a few alterations necessary.  Mrs. Wraith misunderstood when I asked her to pick up dried red peppers, so I tossed in some red pepper flakes at the beginning.  I also left out the cucumbers and sesame seed garnish.  And I ended up using bean stock for noodles(hey, you try finding starch noodles in Prescott).

So how was it?  Excellent!  Just enough fire; a kaleidoscope of subtle flavor, and very filling.  But if this is considered 'four servings,' I'm amazed your average Korean doesn't weigh 500 pounds.  We didn't even have it with rice, and we had leftovers for half the week.

"Ko mab sub ni da," Ms. Maangchi--I can't wait to try more of your recipes!  고맙습니다.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I gotta try this

Looks like a great way to cook stovetop steaks.  Welcome Off The Meat Hook to my Cooking blogroll...!

When my time comes...

...unless it's quick and brutal, like a vehicle wreck, meteor strike or whatever, I hope they let me see my cats.

Like this lady.

If you have to go, that's the way.

Cats and Christmas presents

I was Goth when Goth wasn't cool.  This was back in the late '80s, when you couldn't just go down to Goth In A Box Hot Topic and buy a ready-made look.  You had to find stuff yourself, make it yourself or know someone who could.  We were known as "Darksiders" and "Grave Rockers," and persecution was ten times worse than today.  Not only did the general public look at you askance, but the punks, skins and hessians would gladly kick your ass just for being Goth.  So I confess to a smirk when today's Goth kids cry about being misunderstood and persecuted--kid, you have no idea.

Damn, I got old somewhere.

Anyway, my ex-wife sent me a great blast-from-the-past Christmas present--a double-disc set by one of my favorite bands from back then, The Mission.  It's Carved In Sand and Grains Of Sand, with a whole mess of bonus tracks that I'd never heard before.  Great lady, my ex.

(Apparently, if you don't use Chrome, you can't upload your own images on Blogger anymore.  Good to know, I guess.)

So I've been travelling back in time on my way to work lately.  Part of me wishes I could literally do so, so I could slap the hell out of my younger self and tell him to get off his ass.  But I think most people would welcome the chance to do that.

I'm fixing to try my hand at Korean food tonight, so I'll post up the results soon.  And one more thought...

I know I wanted to stay out of politics with this blog.  But, since the entire nation is once again obsessed with victim disarmament 'gun control,' I'll just say this:

You can have my Glock when you pry him from my cold dead lap!!

(Yep, that's Glock the cat.  Feline Labe.)

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Chili

There's apparently a butt-ton of superstitions concerning foods you're supposed to eat or not eat on the first day of the year.  Seems that spinach, pork and black-eyed peas will give you the wealth of Bill Gates, the drive of Donald Trump and the looks of Fergie or Will.I.Am.  Conversely, if you eat lobster, crayfish or anything with wings, your house will catch fire and your cat will die.  Or something like that.

Anyway, my lovely bride insisted that we get with the good-luck foods for our New Years' dinner.  Not to distrust that the Lord has things well in hand, but I figured both we and America needed all the luck we could get this year, so I agreed.

Luck was with us in the taste department at least, as we found a great recipe for Black-Eyed Pea Chili.  Modifications were necessary, both for the availablity--or lack thereof--of ingredients and the fact that I can't stop tweaking every recipe I find.  I'm weird like that.

Black-Eyed Pea Chili

1 tb. olive oil
1 large onion,  diced
3 small sweet peppers, diced (I used one yellow, one orange and one red to add a splash of color, but if you don't care, neither do I)
1 lb. lean ground pork
1 jalapeno pepper, diced(or one small can of pre-diced jalapenos)
2 cloves minced garlic (or two tb. pre-minced garlic)
1 tb. chili powder
1-15oz. can of black-eyed peas(drained)
1-28oz. can crushed tomatoes(with juice)
1/2 c. chicken broth

Heat the oil in a large pot at med-high.  Add the onion and saute until soft(@ 3min.).  Add garlic and cook about one minute.  Break up and add the pork, cooking for 4-5minutes until cooked through.  Stir in peppers and chili powder and cook about 1 minute more.  Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer (stirring occasionally) for 20-25 minutes.

Don't forget the shredded cheese, sour cream and other garnishes that enhance chili of every kind.

Good luck, and good eating!