Sunday, December 28, 2008

See ya later alligator

Ted's Range Road Diner

As part of my Christmas eat until you're stuffed food tour, I found myself at a restaurant some where near Owen Sound. As it was dark, and some of the roads were closed due to snow and flooding, and that James was driving I had no idea where we were. At least not on a road intersection kind of way. I did manage to get the GPS location coming out of the restaurant.

North 44.633952, West 80.662562

It's Ted's Range Road Diner.

What makes this restaurant interesting is that they have things like alligator and elk on the menu. They also have more "normal" meats like chicken, bison, an assortment of fish, and lobster to name a few. Your friends who might be less adventurous can eat without worrying about having something odd being digested in their system.

As soon as I saw the menu on the wall I knew I had to try the gator as an appetizer. It's rare these days to be able to eat something new and different without travelling to far off places. Eating gator in Owen Sound Ontario seems odd, kind of like eating a burger at a seafood house. It's not like there are gators crawling around in snow boots around these parts.

Gator nugget

The gator came to our table looking a lot like a chicken nugget or more accurately a tiny schnitzel. The meat was pretty lean and tasty. It was difficult to get a full on taste as it was surrounded by fried batter but it wasn't so off putting that I wouldn't try it again should the chance arise. Also it was yummy enough that the appetizer didn't last long. See ya later alligator.

Elk loin, the special special

As a main dish I ordered the Elk. Specifically the Elk loin special special. There were the specials then there were the specials of the specials known by the waitress as the special specials. The elk was covered in a nice meaty gravy and tasted like beef steak mixed with a hint of liver. As I'm not a huge fan of liver I wasn't really that impressed with the taste of Elk. However the one thing that was really good that came with the Elk steak was the homemade horseradish sauce. Not too hot, where you can feel tears running down from your eyes, but far from being bland. It was great stuff.

In the summer I'll have to return to try the food again.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Beans

Beans being soaked and prepped to be used as next test subject

About three days ago I bought a slow cooker also known as a crock pot. It's a 5 quart (what the heck is a quart?) version that I picked up at Canadian Tire for only $25. It's seems so odd that you can buy any kitchen appliance that cooks food for so little money but there you have it. Amazing! It's probably the best value I've gotten in years.

As it's only been three days, I've only made three things in it since cooking times range between 12 and 18 hours so far...
  1. pork pot roast
  2. chicken with tomato sauce
  3. a two bean corn chili
After a few experiments cooking this way I am dumbfounded that the meat tastes so dry. After all it's being cooked in liquid for hours. What the heck? My pork pot roast tasted drier than my pork pot roast I cooked a while back using a conventional oven. It seems like such a shame to use an animal to make sub standard food.

The chicken, the second trial run, was just as dry. Eventually I fixed it by making it into a thick chicken stew, by adding more water and cooking it a bit longer. Both dishes tasted fine but the meat was dry.

After doing a bit of asking around the answers I have come across to solve this problem boil down to two explanations.
  1. the meat being cooked is too lean
  2. the food is not being left to cook long enough
I will have to do more research and get back to you. In the meantime I can say that the crock pot technology is great for making mushy carrots and celery which would be great in a soup or a stew of some kind.

I am currently cooking a bean chili. I'll let you know how that comes out. It smells good for whatever that's worth.

First test subject: carrots and celery on a pork pot roast BEFORE

carrots and celery on a pork pot roast AFTER

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Pumpkin, taken yesterday. It's cold but no snow.

The news sources predicted a big snow storm today. After playing a short session of Warcraft I decided by 1pm I'd venture out into the snowy blizzard. Specifically with the intention to head toward the beach. It's been a while since I've gone off to shoot down there in winter like conditions and perhaps thought that I was getting to be a little lazy, photographer wise, in the last few months.

I dressed for the part by wearing thermal pants (trousers for you people overseas), gloves, two balaclavas (head socks), boots, a polar fleece top, snow goggles and my EFC coat. My Earth Final Conflict coat is pretty old now but it's great to do crawling around in snow.

Today, cold and snow.

I left at 1pm. The walk down required a bit of effort as snow had already started piling up on some streets. The closer to the beach the more trudging involved. My goggles were fogging up and my hair managed to find it's way to the hole in the balaclava and started coming out. Stupid hair. I'll be happy to have short hair again.

Photographing trees facing the wind in a blizzard.

Empty playground

The safety fences.

some snow patterns on the boardwalk

Some neat patterns in the snow created by the wind.

Icy rocks and freezing water

At one point I took the goggles off to see through the camera. It was then I noticed my eyeballs being pelted by small ice pellets flying around in the air. The snow was blowing sideways and there was thunder in the air. I've never actually heard thunder during a snow storm before. I kept wondering if there was lightning somewhere.

I took some random photos all the way down to the shoreline. Next to a life guard station there were a bunch of rocks that had formed ice on them. I stepped up onto a cement slab to take photos. That was a mistake. I looked out at the water and noticed a huge wave hit the end of the cement. Rather than dissipating like the previous waves this one kept coming. Eventually I found both of my feet underwater. The wave had drenched my legs half way up to my knee. I felt water fill my left boot. It was time to go home.

Boot filling with water. I'm taking photos while running away from the lake.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cornbread Revisited

Indiana Jones and the Corn Bread Monster.

I made corn bread today. I'd been yearning for some for the last two weeks but lost my Joy of Cooking book in a bunch of moving boxes. As I result I went out to get another copy. I figured I'd get the hard cover version as it has more recipes and just in case I find the other copy.

It turns out there's a new edition out right now. It's the 75th anniversary edition. I never realized the book was that old. My mother owned a copy and I've had at least two copies in the past. In one version I noticed they took out a lot of the interesting stuff due to technological advances.

It's hard to believe plastics were not yet invented or refrigerators had replaced ice boxes when the book originally came out. Recipes and preparation of hunting game was taken out as we city folk get further away from living off the land directly. The 75th edition puts a lot of stuff back in. Woo.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cool Programmers

Screen grab from World of Warcraft the bestest game ever.

It's now sunday with not too much to report. As in I've been playing World of Warcraft (WoW) now for a week. It's pretty nice to have some down time. One thing that I thought I'd share because it's so "freakin' cool", I went fishing (yes you can fish in Warcraft - something cool in it's self). I caught a 17 pound catfish... and I can use it a a club! (see picture above) It's the nerdy programmer in me that thinks the warcraft designers should get some kind of medal for doing nerdy things like this.

The attention to some of the details and the vast size of the game is incredible. Amazing even. Did I mention using a fish as a club?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Back to the real world

continuing with my previous entry...


The revisit to the land of Arzeroth commenced at 2:00pm (That's the land in the World of Warcraft for those that aren't cool enough to know). It ended at roughly 7:00am, about 19 hours after the start time.

I would have kept playing if it wasn't for three reasons...
  1. My body started to hurt
  2. I was starting to get tired
  3. There's an alarm clock that can be set in the game
Believe it or not but it was actually the third point that kept me from going for a few more hours. My back started aching hours earlier and my hands were cramping up (also hours earlier). I could have probably sat in front of the computer for another few hours easy. Sitting in front of a computer comes easy for me as I've been doing that since grade 5 while teaching myself the Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code on Dad's Exidy Sorcerer.

Days turn into nights and nights into days as I used to sit coding all nighters and for days on end, working some little project, learning a language, programming some video game, or designing a font one pixel at a time. It's amazing how much time was spent working on stuff that no longer exists.

Enter the alarm. I think it's new or at least new since I played the game last January. The alarm clock feature can be set in advance, much like a regular alarm clock, and you can have a customized message pop up in the middle of your game. Something like "Take out recycling", which is what my message said.

Being awake after a night of computer play isn't anything new. I didn't care if I was awake during sunrise, my hours have been pretty off-kilter lately anyway. Ever since getting back from Portland. Yeah, I blame the trip to Portland and all the fun that ensued.

It's not the jet lag, I think it's the party lag. Keeping up with the Montrealers (ie. Georgia W. Tush) is a full time job for sure. Deemed "Best Canadian Evar" by Justice Feelgood Marshal, Tush is the template for social butterflyness. Who can go to sleep when all that cool social stuff is going on? Portland. Three Days. Roller Derby. Friends from across North America. Sleep? We can always get sleep later...

Which brings us to three or so weeks later and my sleep schedule is still nutty.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Case of the Mondays

Eeek, there's snow!

While I generally don't ever have a "case of the mondays" as I don't work regular hours or regular days for that matter. Today, today would be the exception. I would freely admit to the mondays or at least today getting to me a bit. I woke up to snow. Lots of snow. It was also cold, very cold, winter cold out. It's descember, it's Canada, there should be snow. That doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

A few years ago I would have ran down to the beach to freeze my ass off and take some pretty snow photos in -40 degree (with the wind chill) weather. Today, however, I realized my refrigerator was happily filled over the last week (by me - wow). For once I had a food storage unit with actual food in it, stuff like meat, pre-made curry chicken, fried rice, even vegetables, and fruit. And they were recognizable (not moldy - exhibit A, exhibit B)!!!

Yep not just a fridge with condiments, real food, pre-made food, food waiting to be prepared food. It was right up there with finding out I had a four months supply of toilet paper (actually I don't have a four month supply but you get what I mean). It's the little things in life that make it truly worth living. Filled fridge, toilet paper, one's health, shelter over head (maybe not in that order), and the ability to not have to go in to work.

The only thing that could make the day better was an internet connection, a pre-paid two month subscription to the World of Warcraft and some movies to watch over the Christmas holidays. I could barricade myself in until January. Oh wait, I do have all that. Woo woo!!!

See you next year.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I feel blue

Icy blue photo manipulation

I had some free time today so I thought I'd fiddle around with photoshop a bit. I wanted to make a new desktop backdrop. I also wanted to fiddle with my macro lens. Soooo....

The above photo is a macro shot of the underside of an ice cream container that had been sitting in my freezer for a few months. The underside was covered with ice crystals.

I took it outside and shot a few pictures in the sunlight. Then transferring it onto the computer I added some blue. The original photo was black and white.