Simple strawberry spinach salad

This is a recipe we learned from a friend of ours. I added the almonds and onions for a little extra something something.

1 bag fresh spinach
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
½ cup sliced almonds
½ red onion
raspberry vinaigrette

Wash and dry the spinach and place in a salad bow. Slice the strawberries into nice flat pieces and toss into the bowl. Slice the onion so you have nice long thin pieces of onion. The thinner the better. If the onion is very large only use ¼ of the onion. Throw the onion into the bowl. Toss in the almonds. Dress with about ¼ cup of dressing to start with. Toss the salad and taste. Adjust dressing to taste. Serve!

As always please leave comments and suggestions.

Chillin' and grillin'

I have recently become obsessed with deal website, especially ones that offer freebies. I have all manor of samples and tee-shirt showing up in the mail. Recently I found a great freebie download. It is a grilling guide from Martha ‘Hardtime’ Stewart. It is from her satellite radio show and has recopies from her and other gust chefs. You can grab it at:

http://www.sirius.com/marthastewartlivingradio

I tried the Whole Chicken Spatchcock and I will never roast a chicken on the grill any other way. The other recipes sound really good as well and I can’t wait to try them.

With this chicken I cooked it with the recommended wood chips for smoke. I did have a little trouble with the indirect heating on my grill. I figured out that the trick is to leave the off side on full heat and then keep your food side on low heat until the BBQ reaches temp. Make sure you turn your food side back on low after each time you open the lid to glaze. This is also the first time I used a meat thermometer for cooking and it is a great investment. I am always worried about underdone chicken and this removed all the guesswork without cutting into the bird.

Anyway I am super stoked about grilling season and this was a great way to really kick it off. Please leave comments and if you have a great recipe you want to share let me know and I can throw it up as a guest post.

No need to get owl(bear)ly

Our heroes continue to search the forested valley for the correct flames to lead them to the Feywild. After defeating the Korrads they got their barings and headed north. They came across a blue flame cauldron guarded by a group of Satyrs. The group made quick work of the piping pests with the help of an elven ranger named Cale. Cale has also come to the valley looking to gain access to his ancestral lands in the hopes of removing the growing undead threat.

The party made their way back to the orange gate they came through to find that a group of Owlbears thought it would be a great place to move into. While Cale skirted around the party, the rest of the group fought off the feathered fiends back to back.

The party had three different flames; red, yellow and blue. They now have to find the correct combination to let them forward.

Just a note. The current players are as follows:
Josh plays the Human Wizard Kane Shadowsedge
Ray plays the Teifling Cleric Hesikiah
Rob plays the Half-Elf Paladin/Sorcerer Varis
Gary (who joins us via Skype) plays the Human Warlord Didymous. Gary did not join us for this last session.
And new to the group is Brodie who plays the Elf Ranger Cale.
There are also a few others who sometimes play. At this time I don’t think they are continuing in this campaign but I do have room for one more player so we will see.

Also this is my first post via email. I hope it works right.

Love’s labour’s (and data) lost

This one goes out to all the kids who nearly failed that exam due to technical difficulties.

My sister and an exchange student staying with my folks both ran into this issue.  It was just before report hand in time and both suffered a major data loss.  My sister lost half of her 12 page report and the exchange student lost all of her French presentation. (Though since she was from France I think should should have just stood there and said ‘Volia!’)

Anyway here are two methods for the safekeeping of very important data.

Method #1: Email.
The email method is great but only works on files smaller then 10MB.  This is great for files that have lots of text and don’t contain video or a lot of pictures.

Start your document and save it on the computer under my documents.  Name it myreportname-date-time.  As you work on it, save it by clicking on the disk icon or pressing ctrl-s on your keyboard.  Now, every 30 minutes to 1 hour (set yourself a timer), make sure you go to Save As (under the File menu or under the odd windows bubble for Office 07).  Save it in my documents using the same formate (myreport-date-time).  The name will be different because it has a different date and/or time.  Now, email yourself the most recent copy.  You now have a back-up and you will loose at most the 30 minutes to 1 hour since your last backup.  Your computer could just blow up and you sill have a recent copy of the report.  The report is also named very nicely so you can always tell which is the most recent.  When you are done with the report, make sure you save your last copy and email it to yourself.  You may want to name it myreport-final so you know it is the last one.  Once you have handed in the report to your teacher you may then (and ONLY then) delete all the other copies of your report.  Hang onto that final one just in case you need to go back to it.

Method 2: USB drive
This method is very similar to method 1 but uses a USB drive which can handle the larger files.  Create your presentation as normal and save it in my documents using the naming format my presentation-date-time.  Copy that file onto the USB drive.  As an extra safety precaution you may want to remove the drive from the computer after each save so in case the computer decides to bust into flames you already have the drive in your pocket.  Two things to note, do NOT remove the drive until you are sure it is done saving.  There should be some kind of light on the dive that lets you know when it is in use.  The second thing to note is I have never seen a computer burst into flames so this is not something you should be worrying about.  If your USB drive starts to run out of space, you can delete some of your older saves but I recommend keeping at least the last 3 saves on the drive.  If you find yourself running out of space before 3 saves I recommend picking up a larger USB drive.  Again you can name your last save as final and after you have complete your presentation you can go back and delete the older copies of the file.

I hope that helps students and others handling important documents.  I felt really bad that I wasn’t able to help out my sister and although it is too late to save her report, maybe the next one will be safe.

Who are ubuntu?

So I did it.  I installed Linux on a PC.  Granted it wasn’t my PC but I did it!  I installed it on a PC I was setting up for a friend.  It was an older box and didn’t have a Windows XP licence with it.  All he wants it to do is run a few displays and I figured Ubuntu should be able to do that.

For those of you who don’t have a clue what I am talking Linux is an operating system (Like Windows or Mac OX) and Ubuntu is the flavor.  It is touted as the most user friendly version of Linux.

The install went really well.  You have to go to the Ubuntu website and download a CD image (called an ISO).  You then take that disk image and burn it to a CD.  I used a free, open source program called InfraRecorder.  The only thing I had to do was set the program to allow overburn.  Once I had the CD I dropped it into the CD drive on the machine.

I won’t go through all the details but the install went very smoothly and the operating system runs well on the old hardware.  Ubuntu automatically updated the first time I logged into it and much to my delight the entire update process took about 30 minutes whereas it took me 2 evening to finishing updating a new Windows XP machine.

So far Ubuntu has been very easy to use.  Anyone who has played around a little bit with computers should be able to find what they need.  The nice thing about this OS is it comes with everything you need.  It has a word processor, web browser, power point (like) program, spreadsheet, photo viewing and photo editing software, audio software and more.  All of these come with the OS and they are all free!

So far I have been very impressed and I am excited to keep playing with it.

Fresh salsa

Nothing is better with a nice light beer sitting on the patio.  This makes a good batch of salsa.

2 cups diced tomatoes (I use roma)
1 small onion (diced)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 jalapeño pepper de-seeded and finely diced
1 tbsp diced fresh cilantro
juice from 1 lemon
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

combine all the ingredients and refrigerate for about 10 minutes.  Taste it and adjust salt and lemon as desired.  Mix well one more time and serve with some blue corn chips (just because I like to be fancy.  It works great with any tortilla chips).  Goes great with some homemade guacamole!

One pan Chicken Fajitas

Here is how I make fajitas.  It is pretty simple and fairly healthy (I think).

1 large chicken breast
1 sweet pepper (any colour)
1 small onion
4-5 white mushrooms
1 can black beans
1/2 cup salsa
4 tbsp chili powder
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 cups diced lettuce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6-8 12″ soft tortillas
salsa
sour ceram

Turn your oven onto about 200F.  Throw your tortillas onto a baking sheet and let them get warm in the oven.

Cut your chicken into long strips and throw into a large frying pan (I use my wok) with the oil over medium high heat.  Cook until chicken is just about brown.  Add the garlic, chili powder and 1/2 cup of salsa to the chicken and let the chicken finish cooking.  Please note always make sure your chicken is fully cooked before adding your veggies.  Another helpful and healthy tip is that if your chicken starts to stick to the pan, don’t add more oil, instead add a little water to the pan, the chicken should un-stick quickly.

While the chicken is cooking, dice the pepper, onion and mushrooms.  Cut the veggies into long strips to match the chicken.  Once the chicken is cooked, throw in the veggies.  Once the veggies start to soften, drain and add the black beans.  Once the beans are warm, remove the fajita fill from the stove.

Remove the warm tortillas and you are ready to eat.  The nice thing about fajitas is that everyone builds their own.  Just have them spoon some fill onto a tortilla, throw on some cheese, salsa, lettuce and sour cream, and then roll.  They are a one pan meal that combines your meat, veg and side all into one.  If you want to add something else you can’t go wrong with chips and fresh cut salsa or maybe some mexi-rice.