Food Blogging

Since changing my eating habits to a plant-based, whole foods diet I have started avoiding the more well known food websites that offer nutrient-poor and calorie-dense foods. Rarely will I peruse Food Network or Epicurious as I once did looking for delectable foods to tempt my palate. These “commercial” sites rarely provide the sort of foods I want to consume.

I don’t claim to be a food blogger, while I have recently added a ‘Recipes‘ category not sure I have what it takes to be a successful food blogger. Many of the recipes I started with were collected over many years. Some have a source, such as my mother, who is a fantastic cook (as is my sister for that matter) others have been lost in translation.

It does seems that food blogging is in vogue, based on my recent foray into the world of plant-based cooking. Everybody seems to have a food blog and many of those food bloggers have something to promote and sell. That’s not always a bad thing, as there have been some great cookbooks I have been exposed to, such as Lindsay Nixon’s Happy Herbivore and Everyday Herbivore. Some may not look further than Dr. John McDougall and his wife Mary, who have authored The New McDougall Cookbook and The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook.

It seems that everyday I am finding new recipes I want to cook, some unique such as Malai Kofta and Ful Mudammas but as simple as black bean burgers with baked french fries and salt-free ketchup. Recently I have been on a chickpea kick, not sure why. I have been making baked falafel probably twice a week. Last night it was a smashed chickpea sandwich courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. Who says you can’t feel satiated and eat healthy at the same time? You can! It just takes a little work and creativity.

It has been a wonderful journey being introduced to so many recipes from a plethora of plant-based sites. Unfortunately not all these sites follow the guidelines I eat by, based of the research and experience of Dr. John McDougall. Many food bloggers may call themselves “vegan” this or “vegetarian” that, but could possibly include foods such as dairy, oil and those high in fats in their recipes…and even meat. Yes, it’s possible to be a fat vegan. In cases such as these it’s as simple as modifying the recipe to fit your lifestyle. Sometimes that is easier said than done.

Many of the older recipes I collected I was looking to “McDougallize” by removing the oil, dairy and meat from them. Not always possible. How do you replace 4 breasts of chicken, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken and 12 ounces of Velvetta cheese to create a healthy (Non) Chicken Spaghetti? Sometimes it’s not worth the time and effort to modify recipes when the results will be less than desired. That’s what makes McDougall so easy to get accustomed to. It’s can be very simple meals to prepare and eat.

Here are some of the sites I have bookmarked over the last 8 months with the intentions of making some of the recipes as seen. While I haven’t gotten to all the recipes I know I won’t go hungry.

100 Days of Real Food
Chef Chloe
Eating Bird Food
Fatfree Vegan Kitchen
Fifteen Spatulas
(The) Gracious Pantry
Happy Herbivore
Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes
Low Fat Vegan Chef
Post Punk Kitchen
Sodium Girl
Straight Up Food
True Love Health
(The) Vegan Version
Vegetarian Guide
Vegetarian Nutrition
Zoey’s Kitchen

Italia Destiny

As a big fan of Italian football my expectations were low as start of the 2012 UEFA European Championship approached. After the Azzurri crashed out in South Africa in 2010, I thought their approach this season didn’t provide enough experience to compete on the international level. Yet their convincing 2-1 victory over Germany in the semi-finals has reignited the excitement we experienced in 2008 when Italy defeated France to win the World Cup in Germany.

There are only a few holdovers from the 2008 World Cup team, including world class keeper, Gigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo, both of whom bring experience and leadership to the 2012 UEFA squad (DeRossi and Barzagli were also on the ’08 squad). The 2010 World Cup was a forgettable event for Italy. Injuries to both Buffon and Pirlo, as well as an aging Azzurri saw them crash out in the group stage, finishing last. It was truly a low point for Italian football.

Enter Cesare Prandelli, succeeding 2006 World Cup manager, Marcello Lippi, who was a favorite, but rather set in his way when it came to the “old guard” who has worn the kit of the Azzurri. Prandelli wasn’t afraid to make changes, which he did. Many of the well known, now aging footballers were not recalled for international duty, the up and coming younger names got their chance.

Expectations, in my mind were not high entering this tournament, but the team did seem to have a good mix of old and new. It comes as no surprise that Buffon (119 caps) and Pilro (88 caps) are leading the way for Italia at age 33 and 34 respectively. On the other end are the young guns, players like Mario Balotelli, 21 years old (13 caps) and Riccardo Montolivo, 27 (36 caps) and Claudio Marchisio, 26 years old (25 caps). These will be names representing Italy in Brazil in the 2014 World Cup.

While their success in Euro 2012 has been wonderful, I believe it could be short lived. It’s great to see Balotelli playing very well (4 goals) and better yet, keep his head together and playing like the up and coming superstar he could he. There’s also some good younger talent in the midfield, but no “maestro” like Pirlo to control the game. I like Daniele De Rossi, but he is more of a defensive midfielder and doesn’t manage the game like Pirlo. We might have to wait and see, Pirlo will be 35 when the World Cup rolls around, he might be available for Brazil.

Mario Ballotelli has been playing above expectations. The knock against him has been his “disciplinary problems” a few years back at Inter while Jose Mourinho was manager. “Balotelli continued to be the subject of racist chants throughout the season, becoming the focus of Juventus fans even during games not involving Inter, leading to Juventus being fined twice and the club ultimately punished with a partial stadium closure” (source). Now at Manchester City under Roberto Mancini, Ballotelli has been playing much better. During this tournament he is garnering consideration as player of the tournament.

More pressing issues are in goal. Behind Buffon is a total of 7 caps between  Salvatore Sigiru (age 25) and Morgan De Sanctis (age 35). At age 34, I could see Buffon returning for one more shot at glory in Brazil. Hopefully during that time we could see another keeper step up and represent the national team. The only other recent call up was Emiliano Viviano (6 caps). Buffon’s leadership and experience has made the best keeper in the world and has put Italy into the position they are in now, to possibly win Euro 2012 when they face Spain on Sunday.

Regardless of the outcome this weekend, Italy’s national team and fans should be proud at how the team has come together and played the last month. It does provide fans with a bright future with young talent being capped. Still there are some questions to answer. With any luck it will be the guidance of Prandelli and the combination of young talent and experience that wins the Henri Delaunay Trophy and allows Italy to qualify and be competitive for World Cup 2014.

Cat Scratched

With a renewed enthusiasm, I returned to the garage to spend some time working on the Cougar the past few days. Assisted by a power drill and an army of wire wheels I went to work on the surface of the engine compartment. I still had a considerable amount of surface rust, paint and 40 years of gunk to clean off before spraying with a rust inhibitor and hopefully a primer. I made some very good progress as well, pulling hoses and wiring harness out of the the engine compartment to allow more room to clean and prep.

Wednesday I went and purchase a new Mikita 4.5″ grinder. My neighbor had brought his over last week and the speed at which the grinder cleared away the gunk, rust and paint was amazing. I figured it was money well spent and most likely something I would need down the line. After my son and I got home from Home Depot I pulled the Cougar midway out of the garage and made a decision to work on the inside of the trunk. This area is worse than the engine compartment as it suffered from a fire years ago. Taking a closer look at the underside of the trunk, there is heavy rust, but nothing that will compromise the structure.

I plugged in my new toy, put on my safety goggles, gloves and ear protection and went to work with the grinder. I had hoped to clean most of the floor of the trunk while standing where the fuel tank sits. About 15 minutes into grinding, the grinder kicked and caught the tip of my left index finger. One look and I knew my day was done. The grinder (11,000 RPM) had gone right through the gloves I was wearing and I saw a pool of red start to spread. After a few expletives, I removed the gloves to look at the injury. While not pretty I have a gash in top of my finger and the amount of blood made the injury look worse than it was (I believe). After cleaning with water and wrapping a towel around the finger I cleaned up the garage and pushed the Cougar back into the garage. I was off to the urgent care facility.

My son and I spent the better part of an hour, as they cleaned and addressed the cut in the finger. The doctor gave me the two options, leave the wound to heal itself, which would heal funny and promote possible infection or sutures. We decided on sutures, which I was fine with then suddenly got hit with a cold sweat and suddenly lightheaded.

The nurses laid me down from a sitting position, gave my oxygen and put ice packs on my head and behind my neck. About 5 minutes later I was feeling better. They told me this was common in males for some reason. After 3 injections of Lidocaine, two at the base of the index finger and the third in or near the wound, she began to stitch the wound. A total of 4 stitches later and gauze dressing and I was ready to leave urgent care.

When I got home I relaxed and waited for the Lidocaine to wear off. Once it did the finger was throbbing and sore. Some how the bandage had fallen off and the finger looked terrible, but worse it was very tender and sore, as to be expected. I am to follow up with my family doctor on Monday, but could remove the gauze dressing after 24 hours for bandages.

I now look at this as a learning experience. Never take safety lightly. I thought I was okay with the protection I had in place, but will need to reevaluate that when I get past the injury and start working on the Cougar again. I had a pair of lightweight leather gloves on, but next time around it will be a heavier pair of work gloves when using the grinder. Thankfully the injury was not worse and this will serve as a reminder to me when working with power tools to exercise caution. Hard lesson to learn. Might have to take a picture as an ugly reminder later.

2012 ARRL Field Day

Contest: ARRL Field Day
Date: June 23-24, 2011
Mode: Mixed
Period: Starts 1800 UTC Saturday; ends 2059 UTC Sunday

20 / 6 / 17 / 2
15 / 0 / 5 / 0
SCORE: 96 (TIME ON: 1 H 06 Mn)

SOAPBOX: It’s not really an event I look forward to since it’s not a “true” contest, yet many treat it as such. That is not the reason why I am not fond of Field Day. Last year I operated ‘1E’ or emergency power using a portable generator. With all the problems I encountered I only hung around for about 3 hours, got bored and turn the radio off. This year, I was hoping to use FD as a stepping stone to better my ability to run a frequency, but that never happened. I did spend about 5 minutes on 20M and only received 1 call that I could not pull out of the noise. Conditions were rather sloppy and after 30 QSOs I called it quits. For me radio should be enjoyable and during this time period I was not having fun. Why continue?

With or Without Direction?

When I took ownership of the 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7 in 2003 I had no idea just what this project would encompass. Without any knowledge or hands on experience prior to acquiring this car I was able to find an online resource as well as a local car club that assisted me, providing information and sources to help me learn about the Cougar.

I believe my initial problem was not prioritizing the work, having a good starting point as opposed to just starting to tear the car apart. I chose the later option and soon I had a huge pile of parts, but nothing really got accomplished. After further discussion I decided to work on safety related items. Let me preface that by saying the drive down from Santa Rosa was shaky at best. The steering was terrible and it wasn’t until I torn down the front end and rebuilt it I found out why. After completing the front end I moved to rebuild the back end.

Prior to this work I had the transmission repaired in 2005 by a local shop, followed the be exhaust system. Once the front and rear end rebuilds started the cat was on blocks for about 11 months. Once completed I made a hasty decision to remove the engine in April, 2006. Reflecting back, it was probably a good idea, albeit a bit costly. Yet like the front and rear ends, the exhaust and transmission this work needed to be accomplished. Thankfully it was still during a time I had money to pay for the work on the 302 engine being rebuilt.

With more time falling by the wayside, I became discouraged with the Cougar. I was making very little progress, mainly because of my family and work responsibilities. When the engine returned about 4 months later (2006) I had was bitten again. Much like previous attempts, time and money were against me. I was able to find time to start cleaning the engine compartment with the goal of painting it black and reinstalling the engine.

That puts me where I am today, in a quandary as to where to begin. With the small repair made last week in the engine compartment I am thrilled to be finding some time to invest into the Cougar. Making the car drivable in the near future isn’t the current goal. I feel with many of the major parts removed from the car it could be in my best interest to fix what’s broken or replace parts due to age before working on the body in order to prep it work painting. Thankfully I have a friend who is an expert in the bodywork and painting of cars to help lead me.

The cleaning of grime, the sanding of rust and removal of sprayed undercoating continues. I am still thankful the car is not a rust bucket. While there is quite a bit of surface rust, I don’t have any major areas that will push though, like the battery tray did. I can’t even put a time frame on the completion of the cleaning of rust at this time. The engine compartment is about 90% cleaned at this time and I still need to remove some hoses and wiring harness, as well as the steering column before I can finish the remaining 10%.

I also need to inventory the new parts I have. As I mentioned, I spent quite a bit of money on new parts that are still in the box. I never opened them since I was not ready to replace them. So while I am still without a real starting point, I have much work to accomplish. Maybe jumping around from area to area is way to go. Who knows maybe it will be sooner than I expect that I could have accomplished enough work that the Cougar might actually start and roll with a driver behind the seat.