Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dang, I'm old.

I remember when the only modifications I cared about involved vehicles that went very very I'm concerned with modifying a sprinkler system.  Yep, I'm officially an Old Fart.  I'm still not rocking the black socks and garters with bermuda shorts, though...yet.

So I've got four sprinkler systems on this house.  The previous owner set them up on two different timers, for reasons I will never comprehend.  Here's the timer he had operating the lower two sets:

Yep, it's an old mechanical timer, which you actually had to screw pins into, in order to set.  On the back, it's engraved "Property of Fred Flintstone," which gives you an idea of what I was dealing with.  A while back, I was wandering around the local Ace and found a timer on clearance that didn't involve screw-pins, wheels or pterodactyl spit.  So I replaced Timer Number One.

OK, that worked well, but the upper sprinklers were still:

a)  On another timer

b)  On a timer that had been beaten to hell by the wind and wasn't working great anymore. 

So, time to get rid of this thing that had been unceremoniously tacked to the phone pole out back.

When I opened it up, it just got me more curious about the mental capacity of the previous owner.  This thing has 12 terminals.

He could have run every sprinkler in town off this one box, yet he went with the Stone Age POS pictured earlier, for the lower system.  Apparently, it was easier than running 100' of wire.  Maybe in his world.

It took me a while to get it all set up.  I tore apart the old wiring, put it together using the new input wires to the Orbit timer, ran the ground to the old ground in the upper system and couldn't understand why it wouldn't work.  I ran around in circles, both physically and mentally, until I realized:  "Common Ground" means COMMON, you jackass!!  So I ran another ground wire from the lower system ground and it worked like a charm. 

And so now all the sprinklers run off one timer.  A more pathetic thing to be proud of, you will probably never find, but I'm happy about it.

For my next trick, I'm going to do something about this...

At least I know my way around bikes better than household electrics.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Steak Marinade

Mrs. Wraith prefers her steaks unadulterated, but even she thinks this turned out well.

1 cup roasted red pepper-infused olive oil (You can make this yourself, or, optionally, add one chopped red pepper.)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon-style prepared mustard (Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon...?)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper (Alternately, substitute "Lavender Pepper," available from [Terra Verde Farms is NOT compensating me in any way--I just like a lot of their stuff.])
1 medium onion, sliced
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced

Mix. Marinate meat. Cook. Eat.


Best enjoyed with a cold beer, IMNSHO.

This is simply a base. Mrs. Wraith has serious stomach issues, but considers this flavorful and not painful. Feel free to add your choice of hot sauce and other stuff.

For every one pound of ground meat, add:

3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp horseradish

Mix thoroughly, cook to taste(I prefer rare), and then try to tell me your guests and family don't love 'em!

Indian/American Chicken

Got some chicken defrosted but you're at a loss for a recipe? Take heart. I just put together an Indian/American fusion dish that turned out pretty good.

Get a casserole/baking dish large enough for the chicken to lay flat. Grease well and fill with chicken. Salt/pepper chicken to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375, and grab a large mixing bowl.

Dice one small to medium yellow onion.

Add it to the bowl, along with:

One can of Cream of Chicken soup.

Two cloves of finely chopped garlic (or two tsp. minced garlic).

Two tsp. hot curry powder.

One tsp. Dijon mustard.

Mix ingredients thoroughly, and coat chicken with mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Mrs. Wraith liked it, but said it had a touch too much fire(I used garlic jalapeno mustard in place of the Dijon, though). If spice isn't your thing, substitute mild curry powder.

Any suggestions for new ingredients to try are more than welcome.

Southwestern Curried Tater Tot Hot Dish

Anyone who's ever lived in the Northern Midwest is familiar with the "Hot Dish," or what strange other tribes call a "Casserole." It's some good stuff, as comfort foods go. It's easy to make, it's filling...and it's more bland than Mitt Romney eating a cucumber and white bread sandwich in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. So, in my own inimitable style, I decided to fire it up a bit with an American/ Indian/ Southwestern fusion vibe.

Southwestern Curried Tater Tot Hot Dish


1 lb. ground beef

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 chopped white onion

3 tbsp bread crumbs

3 tbsp curry powder

1 tbsp rubbed sage

1 tsp cayenne (red) pepper

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1/2 soup can milk

1 32-oz pkg Tater Tots

Preheat oven to 375. Crumble beef and garlic salt into 9x 13 baking dish, add onion, sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Combine the rest of the ingredients, mixing well, and pour over meat mixture. Top with closely-spaced Tater Tots and bake for 1 hour.

Comfort with a betcha!

Mozzarella Tilapia

Mrs. Wraith thinks it's a keeper.  A very quick and simple recipe, and it's even healthy.

1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. curry powder
1.5 tsp. dried parsley
salt & pepper
basil olive oil
2 tilapia fillets

Preheat oven to 400*.  Combine the first four ingredients in a shallow dish.  Season fish with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and dredge in the ingredient mixture.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes.

As always, feel free to experiment with different variations.  If you've come up with a good one, let me know!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Six. Years. Old.

No, I'm not talking about a young Scotch, an old tequila or that McFry I found under the seat of my truck that still hasn't decomposed.  I'm talking about the drummer in this amazing video.

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I am dumbfounded.  Rock on, Avery!!


UPDATE:  OK, I don't know why the embed won't work.  Try THIS.