Totally Unwanted Effort

You may remember that early December I got a new job and a pay-raise to go with it.  Well, couple of weeks, things at work move slowly sometimes, ago I was told that all the paper work was finally done. I would finally be getting my raise and also back-pay from the first of the year.  So as soon as I heard that I did the necessary calculations and then went to Pictureline‘s website to start planning for the newest addition to my “glass” family; the coveted 105mm Nikor Micro lens.  Alas, my dear wife also started doing calculations as well, and determined that a new dishwasher was in order. But, but, but…. 🙁 I am never going to get that lens.

But we really did “need” a new dishwasher.  So I collapsed to the overwhelming  pressure of the responsibility of being a husband and father.  After doing some shopping around we found a good deal on a dishwasher.  I even went and measured the old dishwasher everything was going to be wonderful.

The day of delivery came and the great unboxing was upon us. I removed the old dishwasher and checked the connections. Connected the new washing machine.  Started pushing in the new one and… Wait what.. Why did it stop?? What the #@@%^ it can’t be too tall, oh wait it is. 🙁

The previous owners had put new tile into the kitchen and gone around the cabinets. Perfectly, acceptable  solution, except that it meant the cabinets were now 3/4 of an inch shorter than standard.  And don’t even ask me what I measured because I don’t know.  I then spent all of my free time for the next three days either grinding and chiseling out tile, lath, and thinset, or being completely frustrated with how the whole @#!!# !@%@!##$ process was going..  because deep down in my heart I KNEW that the installation of a Nikon lens onto a Nikon camera would have only taken 3 seconds max.  Oh well I guess clean dishes are worth something right????

Fontina Artichoke Poppers

1lb Fontina Cheese grated, but almost any melting cheese could be substituted
1/2 cup chopped Artichoke hearts
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup spinach chopped and drained
2/3 cup Mayo
1 Tbls granulated garlic
Juice from 1 lemon
A couple of pinches of Salt and a grind of Pepper

Mix everything together and refrigerate over night. The next day remove from the fridge form into inch diameter balls. I used a disher (small ice-cream scoop) it make it super easy. Once you have all the balls formed put into the freezer to harden for a couple of hours.
In a heavy pot put in 3 inches of oil and heat over med-high heat until 350-375 degrees. Beat 3 eggs in a shallow dish cover the popper in the egg wash and then move to the breading (recipe follows) let sit for a couple of minutes and repeat (I like a double coating of breading). Move in batches to the oil and fry until golden brown and delious. Serve with a sweet Thai chili sauce.

Makes 24 poppers.

3 large eggs
1/2 lbs of Panko Bread crumbs
2 tbls Paprika
1 tbls ground pepper
1 tbls chyeane pepper

Thai Chili Sauce
1 tbls Sambal
1/4 cup Corn Syrup
1 tbls sugar
1 tbls Rice vinegar
Mix and serve.

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Chile-Lime Lettuce Wraps

4 lbs Boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts.
1/4 cup of cooking oil. I recommend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but really any would be OK.
2 tbls Hot chili powder
Juice and zest from two limes
1 head of butter lettuce

Remove and trim the excess fat from the chicken. Place chicken in a non-reactive bowl (read glass or stainless steel) add chili powder, lime zest/juice, and oil. Let set for minimum of 2 hours, but overnight would be better.

Remove chicken lightly salt both sides and then grill on medium high heat. The outside grill or if it is snowing outside a cast iron grill pan works wonders. 😉

While the chicken is grilling prep your toppings.

For toppings I used
Green Onions
Cotija cheese (a dry crumbly cheese similar to pressed ricotta and is incredible)
Sliced Habaneros or Jalapenos
Sour cream with lime juice and chili powder added to it.

Once the chicken is cooked and has rested for 10 minutes slice, place in the lettuce leaves, add toppings, wrap, and enjoy.

This would of course make an awesome salad. Yummy, cheap and not nearly at bad for you as most my recipes. 🙂

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5th Annual Studio Lighting Photowalk

So this was the third year I was able to attend the Studio Lighting Meetup put on by Photowalking Utah. This year I felt like my photowalking partner would be able to handle the lines should come and enjoy the festivities. Unfortunately, with my crazy busy week I was wiped out, and I slept until after it had already started. We still made it though and Chey was able to get some great pictures. As always the models were amazingly both beautiful and gracious. The hosts were knowledgeable and fun. And of course Rich Legg was a impressiveness organizer and donation plate passer. I got a couple of ok-bees (yeah made up word) but nothing great (the focus is a little soft on both of them 🙁 ).  But I love helping Chey find her vision and make some great pictures in the meantime. Mark your calendars for 12 months from now and we can meet up there and shoot some memories. 🙂

And a couple of mine…

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Wild, Wild West

Last week we had a ward party, and I was volunteered to do photos for the couples that came.  This was literally the first time that I have been asked to take pictures for someone.  I have to admit I was very nervous freaked out.  I had no idea what it was going to be like, or how I would do.  I was told to show up 30 minutes early and they would have a backdrop in place and I would be taking pictures there.  I got there and they had set up this back drop up that fit with the theme of “Valentine Fiesta.”  Things were a little cramped so we moved a few things.  It was still close so I choose to use my 35mm for the pictures at the backdrop.  I know it is not the best focal length for portraits, but I am pretty happy with the results here are some of my favorites.

The YM President was good enough to pose while I was setting figuring out my exposure.  At least until he found out I was actually taking pictures. 😀

So then these two yahoos jumped in.

Photo nerd Alert

Is this super rock star lighting, no. But, then again, that is not what I was asked to do. So a 60inch umbrella to the subject’s right and about 7 feet up and a 24inch softbox to the left at shoulder level for fill and to hit the background a little. Both with hotshoe flashes set manually and fired with cheapee radio poppers. Camera was in manual as well; set at f/4 and 1/160 of a second.

And what’s a “fiesta” without beating the “stuffing” out of a paper mache animal. This guy was a very serious about making sure that the pinta and anything else that got in the way was destroy

My favorite picture of the night. She said I wouldn’t be able to get a picture of her so I had to get all photo ninja. To get this shot I was hiding in a dark room shooting through and open door into the kitchen.

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Smok’n Good Texas Brisket

AKA Why you want to be my friend. 🙂

I have been working on a brisket recipe ever since my brother returned from his Texas mission.  This was by far my best.

Like many of my recipes it is very little on ingredients but heavy on time and technique.  This was was on my grill/smoker for 10 hours, and it was worth every second. :D.

Texas Style Brisket

1 10lb brisket (A brisket has two pieces a “point” and a “flat” I like to cook them together)
1 lb of Kosher salt (don’t worry you won’t use it all)
1/2 cup ground Pepper
1/3 cup granulated garlic
1 cup Apple Cider vinegar
1 cup Brown sugar
2 tbls dry mustard
1 tbls red pepper flakes
2 cups water

The night before the big day remove the meat from the package and rinse.  Add the pepper, the garlic and a cup of salt to a bowl and mix well, then take the mixture and cover the meat.  Take remaining salt and coat well.  Place on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let sit over night.

On the morning of the big day 10 to 12 hours before dinner time.  Start the charcoal in a chimney and start soaking wood chunks.  While the coals are getting to temp take the meet and rinse, and dry well.  Lightly salt and add a dusting of pepper.  Place in the smoker and smoke for 6 hours between 200 and 225 degrees.  After being on the smoke for the 6 hours place in a foil tray add the water, sugar, vinegar, mustard, and the pepper flakes. Cover with tinfoil and continue the cooking process at 200 degrees for the remaining 4 to 6 hours until the meat will tear apart easily. Slice against the grain and serve.

Optional BBQ Sauce

1 cup Ketchup
1/3 cup mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

After removing the meat from the foil tray. Take any liquid and cooking chunks and remove to a pan. Add the ketchup, mustard and the vinegar bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and blend.

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Well Seasoned

So I turned 40 this week. I am not sure what I think about that… I’m not sure if I am happy with the life that I have forged. I feel like I do very little that makes a difference in the world. Before my wife get all, well you know. I have the greatest family, and while not perfect I am a good father and provider. I have a good stable job doing things that I find interesting and rewarding about 30% of the time. All things considered things in my life are great I am truly blessed and I recognize that fact.

But being who I am I want more. I want to be somewhere further ahead of where I am. At 40 I expected to be more than I am, and the only one to blame is myself. I could take more chances, but fear holds me back. I have tasted failure and am still paying the price. I could put myself out there more, but I tell myself I am not ready and people wouldn’t like me. I have a “interesting” and possibly offensive personality in real life. So I put up a wall that is there to protect people from me, I would rather be lonely than cause hurt. On the internet I am different I can edit myself as I type, my “internet personality” is more of who I would like to be.

I’m not here looking for sympathy or a pat on the head. Those are always appreciated though 😉 I just wanted to post something today and this is what came out.


FYI this is one of my favorite 2011 pictures I just could never create a post for it.

Book Review: The Cause

Honesty up front:  The author is a friend and gave me a copy of his book.  Also I am not a book reviewer just some guy who wrote a review.

So I actually enjoyed this book. Which I will admit surprised me; I have read books for friends before, and well to be frank I would rather scrub my eyes with sandpaper than read some of them again. It helped that I am a big fan of books/movies that make me think about what would I do in the face of impossible choices.

The cause is set in a “perfect” world where one never is tired, never gets old, there is no crime, no hunger and every night is one big party. What would you do to have that? What would you give up to have that? Those are the key question that are central to the book.

The hero of the book was a fleshed out character who I really enjoyed following.  His story was compelling and interesting. However, other characters were more cut-outs and fairly generic.

Many thing that were critical to the plot where actual left vague and I think it was intentional. Really in life how many things do we depend on that we really don’t know how it work it just works.

It was a very easy read and once I was able to steal my daughters Kindle away from her for an evening I was able to read most of the book. The book does have need of a good editor as there are a few errors and grammatical problems throughout. Nothing serious and once I was latched onto the story I didn’t even notice them.

Overall, this I give this book 4 out of 5.  I really liked it.  The story was enjoyable, the main character was interesting, and it was an easy read.  The downsides are the editing problems and some of the side characters need a little fleshing out.

It is more than worth the $.99 that it will cost you at AMAZON.  To read more from Clint Stoker (LINK)


These incredible potato-pasta-pillows are one of the fondest food memories that I have from my mission.  Every missionary in Italy (that I met anyway) remembered their first Gnocchi experience, and they all went something like this… “I kept eating them until I was full and then a half an hour later I thought my stomach was ripping open.”  You see these light little pillows of goodness expand greatly with water (at least that is what I was told)

This is a great home made pasta recipe for beginners.  It doesn’t require a lot of extra tools to make, a flat surface and a fork is all you need. Although I do recommend a good bench knife and a potato ricer. You can pick up both of these for less than $20 from a local kitchen supply store.  Also, it is a fairly forgiving recipe and loves simple easy sauces. Seriously, my favorite ways to eat these is to grab a handful (6 to 8) right from the freezer drop them into boiling water. Then remove to a bowl that has a little cream and some Gorgonzola stir around until the cheese is melted and enjoy. Another similar idea is a little garlic a little butter and grated Parmigiana Reggiano. Literally a 10 minute meal.


1 lb russet potatoes peeled
2/3 cup of flour it may take more or less than this it just depends on the water in the potatoes
1 egg
optional 3 cloves of garlic

Start by boiling your potatoes just like you would for mashed potatoes.  I boil several cloves of garlic along with the potatoes and mash them in as well, but that is entirely optional.  Remove from the water and set aside to cool.  While the potatoes cool make a volcano out of the flour. Once the potatoes have cooled to the point that you can handle them mash them and add it to the flour add the eggs and start gently mixing it all together

Once it is kneaded well it should be soft, but dry to the touch.  After it has come together divide it up into working sized pieces. Then use your hands to roll it into 3/4 inch ropes.  Once you have the ropes shaped cut them into 1 inch pieces. Then roll the individual pieces on the back of a fork to create ridges to catch sauce.

To cook bring pot of salted water to a boil place the gnoochi in the water and when they float pull them out of the water with slotted spoon, or better yet a spider.

Sauce, Plate, and Enjoy!

PS I completely realize that most of the recipes that I put on this blog go against the current food trends of “fast, easy and delish,” and I do so unapologetically.  However, this one really is easy and fast.  In less than a half hour you can have fresh made pasta on the table, and in the freezer for easy meals later on.  Give this one a try, seriously.

Pasta Bolgnese

To help with your New Years Weight Loss Resolution. < wink, wink ;) >

There is a little know fact in America. That is that pasta needs to be matched to the sauce. For this sauce choose a big hearty noodle like rigatoni or penne rigate.

This is my favorite dishes in the whole world. It is also one of the simplest as far as ingredients and methods.  The trade off is that it is a fairly time intensive process.  There are no shortcuts, and each step is critical to the end product.

Pasta Bolgnese

2 cups Mirequoix
1/2 stick Butter (I know you think Italian you think Olive Oil, but you would be wrong.)
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground  beef
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can tomatoe sauce
1/2 can tomatoe paste

These brown bits on the bottom of the pan is the fond (foundation) of this recipe. They should be there at the end of each ingredient step until you add the tomatoes.

Start by melting the butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter stops foaming and starts browning add the Mirepoix along with two pinches of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper.  Cook on the same heat until fond (brown bits of goodness on the bottom of the pan) forms the more the better so keep scraping the bottom of the pan.  Fond is the key to this dish and each ingredient is added only after fond starts to form from the previous ingredient.

Add the meat and repeat the process until things are sticking to the bottom of the pan again. Add the milk repeat. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until very dry and everything is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and scrap the bottom of the pan thoroughly to get all the fond into the sauce add the sauce and paste. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 4 hours. Taste add salt as needed.

Also it can be a messy recipe. Be sure to have a lid loosely covering the pot to help catch some of the splashes.

Cook the pasta just short of Al Denne drain add back to the pot along with one cup per pound of pasta and allow pasta to finish cooking in the sauce. Don’t for get to stir or you will have a mess on the bottom of the pan. Plate add more sauce on top and go crazy with the Parmigiano Reggiono

Yes I know this is a long complicated process, but trust me it is soooo worth it.

PS I read some where that people pay more attention to picture captions than anything else. Was that true??

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