El Gringoqueño

All a man needs out of life is a place to sit ‘n’ spit in the fire.

What Has Been Going on Around Here?

*Crickets chirping*

Been busy, you know, with work – unrewarding, brain-dead, unfun work.  I think, and most people have probably noticed for themselves, when one is not fully satisfied with what one is doing, the creative juices don’t flow anywhere.  You blame it on being busy, but really, when you’re busy and fulfilled, you seem to have boundless energy for new projects and creative endeavors. 

Lately, I’ve been swamped with making websites, programming web-apps, and sys-admin work. 

Sigh, but I’m so fed up with making websites… I think I want to take a sabbatical and run a rickshaw service someplace for a year – get paid a little bit to run tourists around, get some exercise, and get some perspective.  This computer stuff is really really getting on my nerves.  Sometimes I wish the Internet never existed – ssh, don’t tell anyone.

There is some good news, though.  This website now runs on a Quad Core 64bit monster machine… well, not really a monster, but better than before.  It’s got 8 gigs of RAM, 64 bits, and 4 cores – all in an economical package.

What I really want is dual quad cores on 45nm transistors, with 32 gigs of RAM.  That’d be a smokin’ server.

Oh, you know what did make me feel a little bit better a while back?  Actually, I hadn’t realized the funk I was in and why, until Barack Obama won the North Carolina Primary and virtually tied in Indiana.  I exhaled.  Finally.  I hadn’t realized I’d been holding all that anxiety.  Now, if America doesn’t make another stupid decision in November, I think our long national nightmare can come to a close and we can begin to clean up this mess.

It’s not that I’m looking for a savior.  I hope America isn’t looking for someone to be the strong man, lead us to the promised land, and make decisions for our poor widdle overtaxed heads.  What we need is to get this monkey off our back, a monkey with the initials George W. Bush… not that I like to name names or anything.

What else?  Cooking?  Here’s what I’ve been working on recently:

Home grown wild yeast starter

  • Consists of equal parts flour and water. Let sit out until it smells like beer.
  • really, that’s it.
  • Okay, so I had to take a page from Belgian beer brewers and encourage flies and bugs to fall into the mixture. It seems that they carry yeast on their legs to help the fermentation process along. Anyway, after a couple of weeks of dividing and refreshing the starter, it really takes on a good beer-like smell and begins to make decent bread. You have to make bread more frequently than I do for it to get really good, but that’s another story.

Mayonnaise

  • one clove of garlic
  • Puerto Rican spices (adobo – a mixture of salt, pepper (black and white), garlic and a bunch of other stuff I’m too lazy to read off the ingredients.
  • 1 cup blended olive oil (extra virgin has too much taste. You want something more innocuous)
  • 1 fresh farm egg
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar
  • Use an immersion blender to emulsify the product into a mayonnaise consistency.
  • *Optional: I also blend in two tablespoons of non-fat yogurt. It smooths out the taste and cuts the calories a bit.

Chicago style pizza dough (using said wild yeast)

I totally guesstimate the dough, but here’s the rough procedure.

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 packets of quick acting yeast  or 1 cup of wild yeast starter if you’re me.
  • 1 cup of corn meal
  • 1 cup of wheat flour (or stone ground wheat or some other blend that you like)
  • And enough high gluten bread flour until you get dough. You do know what pizza dough should look like right?
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • I knead the bread (by hand) until it begins to take on a springy elastic like quality. You can just tell. Fold and press, fold and press, fold and press. You’ll be able to tell in about 10 minutes of kneading when it’s ready.
  • Next you need to let it rise. If you’ve taken the instant yeast route, you’ll have 40 minutes or so to wait before topping and cooking. If you’ve used wild yeast, be prepared to wait most of the afternoon. I typically start in the morning.
  • Top with your personal pizza sauce recipe (I’ll share at some other time), some sort of meat (Italian sausage?), mushrooms, onions, peppers, cheese etc. and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so. The top of the cheese should get a hint of gold browning. If you oiled the pizza pan with olive oil or shortening, your crust will be nice and crisp. I love that!

Pancakes

  • 1 3/4 cups of milk (low fat or no fat)
  • 2 heaping tbsp of non-fat yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • and enough cups of regular all purpose flour until the batter is… I don’t know… pancake like… you know what pancake batter is supposed to look like, no?
  • After you’ve heated up the griddle, add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the mixture.  It will foam up increasing the volume a bit so make sure you didn’t use too small of a bowl.  Your pancake batter will now be light and fluffy. 
  • *Optional: you can add fruit to this too. I like two grated apples and cinnamon or strawberries and bananas. Top with whipped cream and maple syrup. Yum!

Hey, this turned out to be a pretty long post, huh?  I guess my creative juices actually have been flowing.

1 Comment

  1. Not to be Polly Anna-ish here but "working" in a slowing economy is good, new prospects makes it even amazing. After 7 years of hard work ANYBODY needs a sabbatical, but I think your hobbies provide you with micro-sabbaticals.

    Your hobbies such as the prison ministry, building furniture, bicycling, and cooking take you away, though briefly, to a parallel universe where you exercise other parts of your personna. Faced with a different context your creativity quickly starts flowing – goes to show you are not tapped out but need a new means or process.

    I am sure at this point you can build sites in your sleep, but its your micro-sabbaticals that keep you fresh even when you say otherwise.

    BTW, reading your recipes is not half as fun as tasting them. I love the fringe benefits here…

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