The food. Oh my god, the food. I fear I have to leave that mostly out of this post. I've discovered that the biggest thing in my budget is food. I actually feel kind of good about that. The reason? 5 months ago, nearly 100% of my food budget was restaurants and take out. Now? Only $30 was take out. The rest was stuff I cooked myself from fresh organic ingredients, a lot of which were locally sourced.
The big thing that got me fired up about cooking? Having some time to dedicate to it over the holidays was one, the other was refinishing my cast iron cookware. Last year a friend from a former job gave me an old cast iron dutch oven and skillet. I used the oven a couple times to make baked beans using this 90 minute no soak bean recipe. Thing was, there was a lot of corrosion. I made some mac-n-cheese in the same pot, and it looked like I had added pepper. It was all corrosion from the surface. I put it off for a long time, but eventually figured out how to fix it.
I soaked it in oven cleaner for about 6 hours, then hit it with a stiff bristle brush (non-metal) and rinsed, dried off on the stove, then coated in oven cleaner again and soaked for another 10 hours. After that, it all came off great. Then I heated the oven up to 350 and cooked it for a couple of hours to get rid of any moisture, coated in bacon fat, then turned the oven up to 500 and put the oven back in upside down. I ended up having to disconnect my smoke alarm because of that. An hour there, then 15 minutes cooling off and a second coat in oil, this time virgin olive oil. Back in the oven.
When it came out, it was the most beautiful pot you'd ever seen.
I didn't take too many pics, but here are some of what I did for the skillet a few days later.
The first is actually after the first overnight soak, it was way more crusted. The stuff left just shows how thick the carbon was coated on.
This is after about 8-10 minutes on high on top of the stove.
The final product photo is from my old phone and blurry and doesn't really do it justice. This pan is beautiful, but I still haven't had a chance to cook anything with it. Still, it's a major upgrade to my kitchen to have these things.
Anyway, over the holidays I made
- Stuffed Shells
- 1lb Baked Beans w/ Sofrito
- 4 quiches
- Roasted Potatoes
- Um, a ton more stuff...
It's nice to actually have a fridge full of food and not have to worry about cooking too often. It's a trend I'm hoping to encourage. I want to write more about this but really, it's probably not that important. It's just eating a lot of my time. 4 months ago, it was almost all take out, even though I know how to cook. Now I'm going through food so much faster. I bought eggs 6 at a time, and would often toss them out for being old. I've had more than a dozen eggs in my fridge for most of the last month. My vegetable trays are always filled. There's usually about 40 dollars worth of cheese and salami for snacks. Quiche and potatoes? 10 minutes. Lasagna and a side salad with garlic toast? 12. Burrito, chips, salsa and quac? 25.
I really need to get stuff to make some enchiladas.
The real difference in my food the last 2 weeks has been incorporating sides. Nothing fancy yet, but more than one course at a time. Also a trend I want to continue.
New Phone : Samsung Galaxy Note II
A few years ago when I got my phone, I really didn't know much of what to look for. For a lot of my adult life, my computer has been my only connection to the outside world, I haven't had even a cell phone.
So to me, the HTC Evo 4G looked fine. But I didn't research it well enough.
And it SUCKED.
Still, I was stuck with it until I could renew or change my contract. So now that it was up, I'd been doing some research. It seemed like the Samsung Note 2 was one of the better options on the market. The thing that I really liked was the idea of the pen. I'm not sure why, but it seemed like that would make it much much better.
There's also that fact that it's a quad core processor. Like a quad 1.6 processor. My last desktop at home was like a 1.8 quad core. It had 8 gigs of ram and a 512mb video card, but still - here's a device with nearly the same power as the thing I was using as a hardcore desktop development machine last year.
So when I got the new phone, it was a completely different experience from the old one. Even just doing things like surfing the web or facebook were light years better. It didn't take long to get the hang of things, surfing twitter and facebook in split windows, etc.
That would have been enough . I was overjoyed at how awesome everything worked. But then I started doing more and more research into the phone.
That's when I learned that I could draw on it.
I spent an hour tonight looking for an entry in a sketchbook from about 10 years ago that showed a tablet PC for drawing on. Back then it was just a dream, there was no possibility. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn't have it. I didn't want to learn to use oils or printing presses or anything back then, I wanted digital. It just didn't exist.
Today, I opened up applications on my phone while it sat on my desk, and then spent the entire day drawing.
I haven't spent more than 5 minutes on any drawing in 10-12 years. Here's what I did today:
I know these aren't really great, but still... It was drawing on a pressure sensitive screen with a pen and the ability to change brushes and colors and layers and sizes. I've wanted this for so, so, very, very long.
It also, it awakened things in me that hadn't been touched for decades. My artistic side, my sense of seeing the world in a different way, as something to be rethought and changed... All back...
Here are some of the things it was able to do with the camera with a few new apps:
Seems like it really wouldn't be hard to turn shots like this into things that I could edit and draw on and enhance and turn into graphic novels or awesome illustrations or well, really, anything...
It is really odd when you hit things like this. I now know exactly where I need to be focusing my efforts if I wanted to get back into design, what devices I'm going to need, etc. It's exceptionally exciting to see something I dreamed of two decades ago totally real.
Think of what history would have looked like if the artists of the past had the devices we have now? A pocket notebook to jot watercolors was a staple of many artists. Now? A pocket phablet like the Note 2 could serve exactly the same purpose. And we are actually only a few years away from being able to set up an easel with a frame, stretch some glass over that frame, and paint in clear tones over a live picture, captured to video and replayed with your designs over the top.
Anyway, yeah, that's not really all that is awesome. I spent an hour or maybe a bit more skyping with my dad on it, that was really pretty seamless and awesome, the first time that I'd tried video chat on a phone device. I now have management of all my credit and bank accounts from one place, and can budget and plan and review what my income actually is. Mint.com is really great for that. I found out that I'm actually pretty average for credit score now. I used to be really horrible, but now, not really bad. Still, no assets and I can't seem to get loans or credit cards, but hey, average is better than bottom barrel.
I also have my bank account on my phone now. That let me deposit xmas checks from family with my camera.
Seriously. Think about that. 5 years ago? Did anyone even THINK that was on the horizon?
Anyway, it is 12:30am, but I will be posting more about what I think of this device. At a later date. Tonight, it's time for sleep.