My salsa recipe

I wish I could remember where I found this (and in my head, I hear one of my co-workers saying, “If only there was some way you could search the internet for information you need…”). I probably put my own spin on it, so I’m gonna claim it as my own. When I want to make fresh salsa (which is usually after a month or so of putting up with lousy store-brand picante sauce), this is what I make.

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Achievement unlocked: I chose poorly… (30/200)

I’ve also been sitting on this one for a while, but I’ve been plenty busy tweeting about it, so I don’t feel entirely out of the narcissistic loop.

Nearly a couple years ago (would it really have been that long ago? Crazy), I had an HDTV and wanted the latest-and-greatest version of DVD to go along with it. Weighing the two options – HD-DVD and Blu-ray – I went with what seemed like the best choice at the time: a Toshiba HD-DVD player. I dumped a bunch of my DVDs, replacing them with small red cases holding beautiful HD copies of great movies. Hell, I went as far as ordering a $40 copy of The Prestige from Amazon UK, since licensing made it only available on Blu-ray in the States. Then, about a year ago, the ride came to a screeching halt: Warner Bros. pulled support for the format, and just like that it fell apart like a [insert analogy other than "house of cards"]. I’ve been kicking myself ever since, secretly loathing the monstrous box sitting under my TV, wishing I could replace it with something that wasn’t a failure.

Just before my birthday, I bought a Sony standalone Blu-ray player. Yes, I’ll admit, conventional wisdom would have been to buy a PS3, but it was $100 more and one current-gen console in the living room is quite enough. My first titles were: Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Casino Royale, and Die Hard. I’ve added several more since then, and upgraded Netflix to send me BDs.

But, like with DVDs back in 1999, it frustrates me that some films aren’t available on Blu-ray…and, ironically, it’s mostly the same films. Star Wars. Indiana Jones. That sort of thing. Not to mention Pulp Fiction, Gladiator, Back to the Future, The Quick and the Dead, Seven, the Alien series, most of the Pixar films (come on, no Incredibles?!?), and a crapload more.

I wound up keeping the HD-DVD player. Rearranged the home theater, stacked the Blu-ray on top of the HD-DVD, gave them both the HDMI inputs on the TV. That way, I can wait to replace Transformers or the Matrix flicks.

Something tells me that in two years it’ll be obsolete, but right now, I don’t care. I love high-def.

Achievement unlocked: You haven’t seen that?!? (20/200)

I’ve been sitting on this one for a long time. Mainly, because the two drafts I wrote didn’t do the subject justice, so instead I’ll just keep it brief.

So, I watched Night of the Living Dead, one of the three films on my list. This was about a month or so ago. Frankly, it didn’t leave much of an impression, other than that it didn’t leave an impression. It’s hard to go from the visual extremes of modern horror films to the tameness of the ’60s – even for a film that must’ve shocked its original audience!

I still plan on watching at least Spaceballs – I get more crazy looks about not seeing that than any other film.

Sharing a recipe: Mazzi’s salad dressing

One of the things I miss most from Oregon, other than the Black Butte Porter, is Mazzi’s. In the grand scheme of things, there’s better Italian food out there, but it’s a restaurant that is intertwined in my life like no other. Growing up, it was the only place my cash-strapped parent would take the family, so it was a real treat. When I started dating Melanie, it was our first date. A couple years later, it was one destination on our craziest Valentine’s night ever (my truck broke down, we ran into my parents there, then later went to see 12 Monkeys…which is what happens when she lets me pick the movie). It was our last anniversary before moving to Texas. I’ve never missed a meal there without getting their salad, with its crisp greens, peppery radish wheels, and pungent house dressing.

Years ago, I found The Mazzi’s Cookbook, a nice collection of their best recipes. Problem is, it’s all wrong. Yes, the ingredients are right, and making recipes from it brings me back to so many points in my life. But, sometimes, the instructions lead to frustrating results – cooking the eggs too long for the alfredo, for instance. I’m convinced that they did this on purpose so that you’d simply visit the restaurant, but sorry folks, can’t afford the airfare for that. Their insanely good dressing is one of those recipes. Batch after batch, I’d wonder why it turned out great one time, broken and runny the next (still good, but without the creamy texture that made it wonderful). It finally dawned on me – of course, it’s an emulsion, and you can’t dump in the oil all at once! So, here’s my adaptation of the recipe. I’ve halved the recipe – it makes too much for a pint jar, or most recycled dressing bottles – corrected the instructions, and made some minor adjustments to the ingredients (sea salt and white pepper). After you make this, you’ll never go back to store-bought dressing. Enjoy!

Mazzi’s House Dressing
Adapted from The Mazzi’s Cookbook

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 oz water, boiling
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 tsp dried Greek oregano
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

1. Combine together the vinegar, water, granulated garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and fresh garlic in blender. Process until combined.

2. Measure together both olive oil and vegetable oil. With blender running, slowly pour in oil. The dressing should thicken and lighten in color. If oil pools at the top of the running blender, slow down and let it all combine. Refrigerate. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

Variations: I’ve changed up the vinegar with good results. Balsamic was pleasant, but too sweet. White wine vinegar was milder, but still good.

Achievement unlocked: Dirty deeds done dirt cheap (10/200)

With $30 in store credit burning a hole in my pocket, I drove the half-mile to the nearest Circuit City. They were having a sale on Guitar Hero controllers – $19.99, a steal. I couldn’t find anything else in the game section that used up the remaining $10.01, so I thought, hey, I can get an AC/DC album. In three aisles of music, they had one copy of Stiff Upper Lip (sorry, latter-day AC/DC isn’t the same), one copy of Highway to Hell (not my favorite, despite the title track and “If You Want Blood”), and about fifty copies of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. I had my heart set on High Voltage, but DDDDC would have to do. There, 10 points out of the way.

My achievements for 2009

I’ve never been a new years resolution kind of guy, but for some reason I thought it would be a good idea this year. But, I wanted my own spin on it. Instead of one or two vague “I want to lose weight” or “I want to travel more” cop-outs, I’d do a list of Xbox-style achievements. All the Xbox Live Arcade games have 12 achievements for a total of 200 points…so, that’s what I’m doing in 2009. Without further ado…

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My first post

I’m just posting this so I can get the “page not found” error to go away.

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