Sunday, June 29, 2008

For the food and science geek crowd

Tara sent me this link referring to the above product. This is such an out of left field name, yet so perfect. I remember Avogadro from high school chemistry and my engineering classes in college.

Too bad I don't like guac.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

No karma tonight at all

So Tara and I are trying to figure out where to eat tonight. Eventually she IM's me via Yahoo (I was in the living room, she was in the bedroom) suggesting Stacy's Smokehouse. It's about 8pm and I thought they close at 9pm. So I get my outside clothes on and go and tell her we probably need to hurry. She wasn't worried, because the New Times review said they are open until 11pm on Sat. Cool.

So we get there at about 8:45pm and there's not a soul or car anywhere near Stacy's. Parking lot is empty, all the lights are off, and all we need were some tumbleweeds to pound the point into our heads. It seemed very odd they'd be closed on a Saturday, especially since only a few days ago they got a rave review in the AZ Republic. So I drive west down Indian School while we ponder our options. I suggest Chompie's in the PV mall, since we've been there well after 9pm before. Tara agrees and we head up.

We arrive at 9:06pm to watch someone locking the doors below the ironically flashing neon "OPEN" sign. The hours on the window confirm they now close at 9pm. So now we're starved and 0-2. I wonder if PV mall made them standardize their house to coincide with mall hours or if they have shorter hours during the summer months. Either way, we're screwed and I'm starting to feel like I'm back home in backwoods Maine again where you can't eat out after the sun sets.

Eventually we end up at CPK in Desert Ridge. They are open till 11pm. I had a half Miso Salad and Tara had a penne pasta dish. We both can't wait until she gets a full-time job again so we could go to the places we really like that are open past 9, like Hana or Benihana (no relation). Or, as our dinner rambling suggested, Capital Grill, Binkley's, Kai...

Friday, June 27, 2008

My other can't wait movie this summer...

I love the post-80s, noirish Batman ushered in by Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns". The early 90s B:TAS had a great visual look (prior to it's WB-ization) and it actually introduced future villains into it's continuity prior to their turn to evil. "Almost Got Him" is one of my favorite episodes.

I loved "Batman Begins". Now comes the first review of "The Dark Knight" from Rolling Stone.

Iron Man (awesome), Wall*E, and TDK.

It's turning out to be a great summer.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grilled Marinated Chicken breast (and a bit)

I few days ago I stumbled across some food videos on's Dining area. One of them showed how to make a simple vinaigrette marinade. Apparently vinaigrette's are always a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar, plus whatever herbs and spices. Their recipe was for balsamic, oil, garlic, dried thyme and dried basil. Put them all into a blender and mix well. Here is what I used:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic (our fresh garlic wasn't so much anymore)

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend well. I meant to marinate two chicken breasts, but the ones I took out of the freezer ended up being a full-sized boneless breast and one that was barely a tender. I tossed them into a Ziploc and poured enough marinade over them to cover. I still have enough leftover marinade for a second run once the other breasts thaw. I let them soak for about six hours. The video only marinated for 30 minutes, but I like to do it longer.

I fired up the grill, oiled the grate, and put the chicken on. The "tender" cooked in about 7 or so minutes. I took it off and it we tried it. It was really good. The larger piece took about 12-15 min. It ended up very moist and good flavor. Tara made some orzo to go with it. I'll probably try it again tomorrow night (if Tara doesn't mind and the chicken is thawed) or Thursday.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sneaky Buggers

During my post-gym F&E visit, I was nearly run-down by one of their employees when he grabbed a cart and bee-lined towards their front meat cooler. I did a quick scan and didn't see any 1/2 price stickers, so I started to look at their main meat cooler. As I did, I noticed him rummaging around in the front cooler. In the far back, under a few other packages, he took a 1/2 priced 12-pack of hamburgers. I jokingly commented that they stash the good ones. He then grabbed a SECOND one from back there and said he had been "saving" it for a coworker, but I could have that one. So I got 3lbs of burgers for only $4.51. Not too bad. Tara wrapped them and stashed them in our freezer for future use. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wall*E opens Friday. I can't wait.

I love most of Pixar's movies. While Cars and A Bug's Life are technically (given their respective releases) impressive, their stories didn't enthrall me. The Incredibles is probably my favorite, with the Toy Stories, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille close behind. For kids, you can't go wrong with any of them. My nephews love Cars.

I always look forward to the new Pixar movie. They are masters at the art of trailers. They frequently create exclusive footage for them, like The Incredibles' teaser with Mr Incredible hilariously and heroically strugging with his belt buckle. The Wall*E trailers have done a great job of slowly building up Wall*E's personality first and then expanding the movie's perceived world from Earth to a whole galaxy. Yet I still don't feel like I've seen the whole movie from the trailers, which is frequently the case with most other films.

We probably won't see it opening weekend. I shudder to imagine the crowds of screaming kids who are going to mob the theaters. We'll probably do a late show July 4th weekend or something. The little kid/sci-fi geek/movie buff in me are all chomping at the bit.

Plus Tara's getting sick of me giggling every time I see a clip or hear his name. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Somehow I only found out today that Bill Dial died earlier this month. Not a name I'd know, except he wrote one of funniest episodes of "WKRP in Cincinnati", "Turkeys Away". TV was pretty desolate in the late 70s, but WKRP was and is one of my favorite TV shows ever. WGN recently ran a slew of episodes on their 70's Night on Sundays, and that was one of the eps. From Les's Hindenburg-inspired narration to Mr. Carlson and Herb battered and covered in feathers, it's a classic. Unfortunately all the great music in the show has been replaced on the DVD sets with generic music, otherwise I'd have them in my collection.

Bill Dial also was involved with "Simon and Simon" and various Star Trek series. Still, I always laugh to myself (usually out loud) when I think about "Turkeys Away".

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Grilled Teriyaki Albacore steaks

I love a good teriyaki-marinated piece of tuna, so I decided to find a simple marinade for the albacore I got yesterday at F&E. I found this one at It's nice and basic:

1 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely minced
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 cup soy sauce *I used Kikkoman Light Soy*
1 cup sugar *I used dark brown sugar*
2 oz Jack Daniels (or other whiskey or rum) *I used Jim Beam*

I ended up with way too much marinade, but that happens. Luckily we had all the ingredients (the Jim Beam was purchased for a chicken marinade a couple years ago that we loved, but can't find the recipe anymore) so I mixed them up this morning in one of our big glass bowls. The albacore pieces only totaled about 1/2 a pound, so I could probably have cut the recipe in half or more. I put them in the marinade for about two hours, turning them halfway through.

At lunch, I turned the gas grill on low and once it was up to temp, I cooked the first piece for 3 min/side. It came out really good. I was still hungry, so I cooked the smaller second piece for 2 1/2 min/side. It was sorta wedge shaped and the thickest part was still just a tad less-cooked, but for a sushi person like me, it was fine. They were cooked all the way through, so this wasn't a sear at all. They had a nice sweet flavor, but not overly strong. We have a piece of frozen tuna in the freezer that will probably be great cooked this way. I can't wait.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


What a dominant victory. I love it. 22 years is a long time but that just makes it all the sweeter. :)

Today's cheap finds

I hit F&E after the gym today. They had some wild caught albacore, cheese tortellini, chicken ravioli, ground pork, and pineapple slices all for 1/2 off. We'll see how they work out. We'll do the pasta with some Alfredo sauce tomorrow night. I'm thinking of doing a simple teriyaki marinade for the albacore and then grilling it on our electric grill. The pork went into the freezer.

I got some 1/2 off unpasteurized OJ there last week and it was really, really good. It's fun hitting them after my workout and seeing what they have. It's fun trying to plan a meal with what they have on special.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I go out to light the grill tonight so we can cook some burgers. As I open the lid, I notice that the far left burner was left on. And I hadn't closed the valve on the take like I usually do. So my less than two week old tank of gas was now probably over Eastern Canada...

I grabbed a new one at the supermarket down the road and a few more hamburger buns as well. Still, I'm not happy when I do stupid stuff like that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rib Results

Well, they didn't come out good. I cooked them for about 3 hours and they probably could have used another 30 min to an hour. They were a bit tough and quite fatty. It could just be the cut we got. They seemed to taste OK, but I have a thing against eating fat (can't stand the texture) so I didn't eat much. Luckily Tara spiced up some baked beans and that made a good dinner along with the cole slaw.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Rib For All Seasons aka Pork Fiction

Last week before I went to sleep, Good Eats repeated it's pork ribs episode, A Rib For All Seasons. They looked really good, but with Tara still looking for a job, we decided to wait until she finds one to try them. Today after my first day back at the gym since before we hit triple-digits, I stopped by Fresh & Easy. They actually has a couple slabs of baby back ribs 1/2 off, so I snagged one. I wanted to get two, but in case they come out badly, I didn't want to risk it. So I printed out the recipe and mixed up some rub. I deviated from Alton's rub since we lacked some of the ingredients. Instead of cayenne pepper, jalapeno seasoning, and Old Bay, I used ground mustard, barbeque seasoning, and Mrs. Dash. He said you could cater to your own whims for the remaining 1 of the 8:3:1:1 ration anyways. I just finished applying the rub and stashing them in the chill chest for the night. I've never done ribs before at home, so this should be interesting. The recipe looks really simple, so it'll be interesting to see if it's a keeper or not. I'll post an update tomorrow night.

Oh, and if you left comments recently and haven't seen them appear, it's because I completely forgot I was moderating comments on here... Sorry. :) They should be on here now. :) Thanks Geggie and Andy for your patronage. :) We really need to hook up sometime for dinner (A) or when you're in town (G). I know Geggie and Tara can compare their Camrys. Andy and I could probably trade Audi North Scottsdale service horror stories. :) I'm still baffled as to how they broke your windshield installing a TCU...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Little Saigon Restaurant - Glendale

Vietnamese is one of my favorite cuisines. It's not very flashy, like Thai or sushi can be, but there are some solid dishes that I love. Pho goes without saying. It's one of my favorite soups. The Vietnamese version of egg rolls, when done right, are like crack for me. Ditto for fresh spring rolls. I also like the bun dishes with pork, both shredded and roasted. And of course banh mi. I used to be able to get them for $2 at a place near my last job in Dallas (technically Carrollton).

Unfortunately, Tara had a bad experience at Avina's old location once when she went without me and generally has a hard time finding something she will eat at most Vietnamese places. Usually I'll go by myself at lunch or if she's got other plans on a weekend day, I'll try to plan something. She was working on Saturday, so I decided to get me some good old VN food. I was torn between hitting Davang's and getting a banh mi or trying someplace new. Fellow blogger and Audi-phile Andy has had many positive posts about Little Saigon in Glendale. I've seen it the few times I've been in Old Town Glendale but have never been. Since I had nothing else planned, I decided to make the trek.

It's about a 20 mile trip one-way and when I got to the 19.7 mile mark, I realized my wallet was somewhere still at home. So I headed home, found it, and headed back. Luckily gas is cheap...

When I finally made it, I parked across the street and entered the restaurant. I was directed to sit anywhere, so I sat in the room with the main counter and kitchen. I looked over the menu. I had looked at it online before I left and knew they didn't have banh mi. I thought about getting an order of deep-fried egg rolls, but at six to an order, I wasn't sure if I could finish them all. Instead, I got fresh spring rolls (grilled pork, shrimp, rice noodles) and a rice vermicelli bowl with grilled pork and pieces of Viet egg roll. I stuck with water for a drink.

My spring rolls came out so fast I thought they'd been pre-made, but they were very fresh. The rice noodles were still warm. I really enjoyed them. They came with the usual peanut sauce and hit the spot.

My bun bowl came out in a few more minutes. Due to a server miscue, I got two of small bowls of sweet fish sauce (nuac mum, I believe), which is fine with me. I love the stuff. I tried one of the egg roll pieces and immediately wished I gotten them for an appetizer. Dipped in the fish sauce, they were perfect. The pieces of grilled pork were sweet, again something I love. It may have been the two helpings of fish sauce I dumped over it, but it was all nice and sweet. Exactly how I like my bowls.

Service was good. It was basically just me in the one room and I could hear another party or two in the other room. The owner(?) waited on me and checked in often by basically talking to me from behind the counter.

I really liked my meal and hope I can make it back in the near future.

Little Saigon is at 7016 N 57th Ave. It's just north of the Glendale Ave/57th Ave intersection, on the west side.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Back To The Grill

After procrastinating for months and months, I finally got around to refilling the propane tank for our gas grill. I managed to miss all the great Winter and Spring grilling weather, although the first night we used it was unseasonably cold, around 50 degrees. Still, you can't beat the taste of hot dogs on the grill. Unless it's Jordan's natural casing hot dogs cooked on sharpened sticks over a bonfire on a frozen lake in the middle of Maine, but I digress...

We've slowly ramped up our outdoor cooking. I started simply with hot dogs and hamburgers to get my grill legs back. I grabbed Tara a couple 1/2 off New York steaks at F&E last week with mixed results. The first one was good, the other very gristly. This past weekend I was down at VonHanson's and grabbed some cooked brats for only $2/lb, since they were out of their awesome hot dogs. I also got Tara a ribeye steak. We hadn't tried their ribeyes yet, so this was a leap of faith. The previous ribeyes I'd gotten at MidWestern Meats and they were very good. I'd planned on stopping by there, but they were still closed for Memorial Day week. So it was VH for ribeye, brats, and a little over 2lbs of their meat candy (aka double-smoked bacon).

I cooked up some of the brats for me tonight and the ribeye for Tara. It was nice not having to boil the brats first and just slap them on the grill. I used some of our leftover VH store-baked hot dog buns and they were really good with just a little honey mustard. I cooked Tara's steak on each side for six minutes and it came out perfect. She seasons her steak with a good dose of salt for 1/2 hour before washing that off and applying fresh-ground pepper. The steak had great flavor. I'm not a huge beef fan, but this was some really good moo flesh. Tara was in heaven.

I need to find some more grill recipes to branch out a bit, but I still love the basics.