Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kian Pics

Uploaded some pictures of Kian. Birth through our last trip down there in Sept.

4 Corners pics

Uploaded some pictures of our ride down to Four Corners. Mostly pics between Ouray and Durango. Some very beautiful country.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Shrimp Cocktail

I decided to make some shrimp cocktail this weekend because we were going to Becky's house for dinner. Rather than the normal "shrimp and cocktail sauce" dish, I decided to actually make a shrimp cocktail salad so to say, with a bit of a Costa Rica flare to it, and put it in avocado halves. Wouldn't have even though about writing it up; other than the fact that Becky took the left-overs to a neighbors house and they liked it so much they asked for the "recipe"... so here goes :)

1.5 lbs 51-60 count pre-cooked peeled shrimp
1 yellow bell pepper
1 green chili
1/2 red onion
1/2 12 oz jar Heinz Chile Sauce (Chili sauce! not Cocktail Sauce)
1 lime
3 avocados split in half with the seeds removed

  • Pull the tails off the shrimp and cut into 4 pieces
  • Dice pepper, chili and onion in small pieces (maybe 1/8th inch square)
  • Mix shrimp and veggies and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime
  • Add about 1/2 jar of the Chili sauce. You don't want it too soupy, but enough to coat it.
  • Rub lime juice on the flesh of the avocado so it doesn't brown.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add more lime juice if you want it more tangy, more chili sauce if you want it more sweet or tomato flavored.

Scoop out a bit of the avocado flesh making a "bowl", but leaving some avocado, and fill it with the shrimp mixture.

You'll have extra which you can serve in a bowl, nestle the avocados in the extra, or whatever fits with how you want to present it.

We ate it about 45 minutes after preparing it, but I've eaten it immediately after putting it together as well.

Takes maybe 30 minutes to prep. You might be able to use small salad shrimp and it would be faster, or use raw shrimp and "cook" it in the lime juice for a few hours; but I like the 51-60 pre-cooked shrimp the best.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

4 Corners

As I mentioned on Durango Diner, last weekend we went to the Four Corners Rally. There is a ton to do, but folks we were going with didn't want to stay for the entire time, so we planned a pretty fast trip. Head down on Friday, taking the long route through Montrose and Ouray, go down to Ignacio on Saturday, and then head back on Sunday going to South Fork, up 285, across 50 to Canyon City and up 115 to home.

I notified folks at work about 6 weeks previous that I'd be taking that Friday off. We planned on leaving between 7:00 and 7:30 from a meeting place about 30 minutes from our house, so we planned on leaving home about 6:30 AM. About a month out my boss mentions that we need to head out to DC that weekend. OK... what days, since I'm taking Friday off, remember? OK. No problem, we'll go Mon - Thur. That's kind of cool because many times we fly on Sunday and then you basically just lose a day of being off. Since I'm on salary we don't get paid for overtime... although we charge our internal customers. Yeah, weird and one of my pet peevees/hot-buttons, but I'll save that for another post. Anyway, out Mon and back Thur, getting into the springs at 9:05 PM. That's cool - should be home by 10:00 and plenty rested for the trip the next day.

The business trip is pretty good - a few frustrating/boring parts, but some really good productive sessions as well so that is all cool. We get to the airport with plenty of time to spare and get on our flight... and then we sit there for 2 hours on the plane because "there is some weather mid-west that we want to avoid". We finally take off and are told "Even though we are 2 hours late, you'll probably make your connecting flights because Dallas is having weather problems and so the planes are way behind." We have 50 minutes to make our connection... and are 2 hours late. Yeah - the math isn't hard to figure out. Anyway, we get into Dallas and all get off the plan at separate times. Hans is off first, and when I come off he is no where in site. I see that our flight has been delayed (Yah!) till 9:30... and its 9:28 now. :( - Everyone else comes off and says Hans already figured gate C- and we are in Terminal A. He is waiting by the train. So we rush over there and the train takes *forever*. But finally it arrives and we jump on, get off, and RUN through the terminal. We get to our gate, "Sorry, the plan is already backing away." Now I'm starting to sweat it... Come on... I've got a rally to go to. Not to mention hotel fees that I can't back out on at this late date, so if we miss the trip, we lose the $$.

Lukily Hans is in the "Admiral's club", so we go there and a guy hooks us up with tickets. "OK, here is what I can do. I'll get you on a confirmed flight to Denver (close enough)... tomorrow at 1:00 PM" (What???) "But there are two flights out tonight, one at 10:30 - so you better rush over there, and if you can't make that one on standby, you can roll over to the 12:00 flight and maybe make that one."

Ok - so there is still a chance. So we quickly head to the gate and get there... and there are people everywhere. There are 63 people on standby. Hans is #4 and the rest of us are #23 - #27, with me being #26. Folks tell me, "You can take my spot so that you can get home and do the rally, if I don't make it I'll only be late for work." Which was a great thought, but turns out you can't do that. Anyway - they call Hans and it looks like he is going to make it; but then a pilot shows up for the jump seat and he misses it by one.

We FINALLY eat dinner at 11:00 PM and then head to the other gate. Get there and there are 63 people on standby - but Hans is #1 and I've moved up to #16. So the odds are looking better - but the last gate only 3 people made it on standby. So we figure Hans will go but maybe not the rest of us. He uses some upgrades to bump us up to first class, in the hopes that will improve our odds. They start boarding and he is called immediately and disappears onto the plane. We are then watching the "standby monitor" and watching our names move up the list. There are quite a few people hanging out - not looking good. Then they start calling people in groups of 5, "Mr Jones, Mrs Smith, etc., etc." - no one shows up! They wait maybe 30 seconds, "Last call for Mr Jones, Mrs Smith..." - nothing. So we just jumped 5 places, then the next group... no one. Then the next group, a few folks show up. We are within 5... we wonder how many seats they have open and whether we'll make it or not. Then they call our names, and we rush the counter. :)

We make it on, and first class no less. I thought they said they didn't have any food service, so I conk out. Its almost 1AM and I've got a rally to leave for at 6:30! I sleep the entire trip and we get to DIA and Hans says, "Man, you didn't even enjoy the cookies, nuts, drinks or anything - see if I ever upgrade you again!" I think he was *half* joking... but he had to spend a ton of upgrades to upgrade 4 of us. Very cool of him.

We land at DIA get a car and head home to COS, grab the jeep and my head hits the pillow at... 4:45 AM. Set the alarm for 6:00 and a little over an hour of sleep and I'm up, quick shower (skipped washing my hair or shaving), and I throw on my leathers, load the bike, and off we go. (Luckily we packed before I left so it only took a few minutes to get everything onto the bike).

We get to the Safeway right off 24 and there is everyone we are going with, most of whom we didn't know. But there is Wes Rutter! - which was very cool. Old friend from Impact and turns out he is a friend of a friend and going with us. All in all we had 14 people and bikes on the road were at least 7 with sometimes up to 11. There were two trucks with trailers and some folks trailered their bikes either down or back and some trailered them off and on during the trip.

The buzz of being on the bike kept me awake and I did pretty good. About an hour out I was driving down a stretch that was pretty straight, with hills on both sides, when I caught sight of a 4 point buck (western 4 point, thats 4 points on EACH side), in mid-flight leaping onto the road from the left side... about 30 yards in front of me and me going 70 or so. Heart-pumping, a quick light squeeze on the brakes and release of the throttle, and he hits the road, leaps from the left lane onto my lane, and I'm about 15 yards away and realize he is going to clear the road, and so I let off the brakes. We flash by him and he is gone and Tina catching a flash of brown out of the corner of her eyes says, "Was that just a deer?"... "Yeah". OK - so I'm totally awake now!

The rest of the trip was really good, although I did zone a bit for a while when Tina was riding in the Hummer with a friend. Next stop I told her that so she got back on the bike and the rest of the trip was pretty good. Going down the million dollar highway (Montrose, Ouray, Silverton, etc.) was BEAUTIFUL. Someone at work told me, "This part of CO is pretty, but that part is the prettiest part of the state." and after seeing it, we agree. Lots of twisties, mountain roads, etc. Great riding. One girl did dump her bike, but it was right when she stopped and her feet hit the gravel and she just teetered over. No harm done, other than a bit shaky. The last 30 minutes or so it starting raining... hard, and I couldn't see very well (I'm going to have to rethink my goggles or something) and was going very slow, which slowed up all the bikes behind me. About 30 miles out from Durango I pulled over and wiped them off and told everyone else to go ahead and the Hummer could just stick with me. Tina was back in the Hummer by now because she didn't want to go over the mountain roads on the bike. But then 2 miles later we got to the place we were staying. None of knew it was going to be so far from town, but it was in a great place and we were so glad to see it sooner than we expected.

So... some cat-naps on the plane, 1 hour of sleep, and then a 10+ hour bike ride down to Durango. It was all good and quite the adventure and a great ride!

This is already quite long for me, so I'll just quickly wrap up the rest of the trip. Into Durango for dinner that night, which is a great ride down the valley. Next morning back into twon (after discovering that a bear had messed with one of the bikes during the night - but luckily didn't hurt anything) and ate at the Durango Diner. Then down to Ignacio to check out the rally. It was a pretty good street rally. Ate some good food. Tina got a great jacket she's been wanted to get. Saw one for $175, and then found one she liked even better for only $75 that matches her chaps. Rallies are great for this kind of thing. Visited with the Bad Pig owner. We always stop in and talk with him. Last time in Red River we talked with him and his wife, discussed grand children, etc. She wasn't with him this trip because her son was in the hospital - serious but recovering, so that is good. (Our prayers are with you guys). Tina got some good discounts for some of the girls with us that wanted to get some Bad Pig clothes. She always does. He laughed when we asked where his wife was. He said everyone was asking. The night before he was in the bar after setting up, and this girl walks up behind him and says, "Hey... what are you doing in here without your wife! I'm keeping an eye on your and telling her if you don't behave." He called her laughing and told her she has spies everywhere. :)

We spent a couple hours there and then Tina was getting hot, so we headed back "home". Hit a bit of rain on the way (looked like it might be worse) and so after stopping quickly at the Durango Harley store and getting some stuff, we returned "home" w/o getting any food or anything. Back into two later that night (which again is a very nice ride) and headed home way after dark. I don't like driving at night, but with someone in front of me it wasn't bad... and I came to ride; so all was good.

Up the next morning, back into town and a quick bite at McDonald's and then home up over Wolf Creek Pass.

All in all a quick, and somewhat exhausting several days, but well worth it. I had great plans for Monday, having been gone a week - like mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, etc. Instead I checked the mail, paid some bills, and zoned in front of the TV with Jaime all day. But like Peter Fonda said in Wild Hogs, "Ride hard or stay home!"

I'd go back down there again. The rally was... ok. No where near as cool as Red River, imo - but the ride is awesome and it was still a good place to check some stuff out. I *definitely* want to go back to the area. I'd like to spend more time there and check out more of the area. Actually go down to Farmington, NM, over to Cortez, hit Utah, etc. Perhaps we'll go that way some trip down to Tucson. We'll see...

Chuck Schumer - who votes for this guy?

I have no idea of Senator Schumer's voting record, and good things he might have done, etc. - but I can't believe after how he lied the other day, that anyone would re-elect this guy. I truly hope he gets beat in the next election, even if it is by another Democrat. Here is part of what he said:
The violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from al Qaeda, said to these tribes: "We have to fight al Qaeda ourselves."
As noted on numerous web sites, including Hugh Hewitt and RadioBlogger; its not so much that he even believes it, its that he felt it would be politically savvy to say so as an anti-war liberal. When is someone going to hold these guys accountable?

Coloardo Helps Hillary become president?

In Hugh Hewitt's article, As The Campaign Turns, he states:
To win in '08, the Dems will need to get one or more states President Bush won in '04, and the best bets for Hillary are Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Nevada, and Virginia --in roughly that order of probability.
I guess I never really thought about it. I know that because of the size of Denver and Boulder, CO frequently votes for Democrats, even though the Springs and much of the rest of the state vote Republican. But I guess I just never thought about it long enough to realize that Hillary might take CO and in doing so gain the presidency. What a depressing thought.

On the other hand, looking for a silver lining in his statement (and based on other things he said in the article), with CO being one of the important states, there is a good chance many candidates will be here, and that could be interesting.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Italian/Chinese Stir-fry Chicken and Veggies

Wanted something quick the other day and was at Whole Foods and they had some great looking Spring Onions - which sparked the whole thing. Decided to stir fry some chicken and veggies. I could get the ingredients and throw it together pretty fast the next night or two when getting home from work.

Chicken Breasts - I'd just grill them, that way they'd cook pretty fast and I wouldn't have to prep them much. Just through them in some Teriyaki sauce, grill them, then slice them after cooked.

I wanted something fresh and green... so I got the Spring Onions, some snow peas that looked really good, and then figured I'd throw in some cabbage I had at home.

So the next night I get home from work and immediately start dinner. (I usually get home a bit late and we are all hungry so I get right after it). Threw the chicken in a ziplock bag with some sauce to marinate for a few minutes and turned on the electric skillet. Chopped the onions and went to put some oil in the skillet and ... ok, wait... What would really be good is an Italian dish! Yeah... olive oil, garlic, these fresh veggies and maybe tomato paste! So I poured in some olive oil, threw in the onions, and then grabbed the chicken and threw it on the grill before the Teriaaki could soak in too much; not that I was opting for Italian rather than Chinese.

Added a bit of broccoli, some sliced up cabbage, and then after cooking for a few minutes minced garlic and the snow peas. Then threw in a few small cans of mushrooms as well. After a few minutes pulled the chicken off the grill, sliced it and tossed it in and let that cook a few more minutes till everything looked done. Then added a small can of tomato paste and stirred until the paste was mixed it. Thought about adding some basil or oregano, but wanted the flavor to be pretty pure.

It was fast and great. I probably wouldn't do the Teriyaki again - but the chicken had been in it for such a short time it didn't add much flavor. And the snow peas in the "Italian" dish were really good. Their sweet flavor and crispy texture were really nice with the deep rich flavor of the tomato paste.

Everyone loved it and it was a hit. :)

Durango Diner

Went to the 4 Corners Rally last weekend. More on that later. But as you know, I'm always on the lookout for some great "road food". Got in Friday night and Saturday morning we were meeting in the Denny's parking lot before heading down to Ignacio. The small group we were with wanted to go to Starbucks, which I'm usually up for but: a) I'm not doing carbs and needed some protein, and b) I was on a bike trip and so was on the lookout for road food. We headed down Main Street and passed a few places that looked good on our way to Starbucks. Once there I told the others that Tina and I were going to look for somewhere to get breakfast and we'd meet up with them at Denny's at the appointed time.

Heading back up the street I was looking at store fronts where I saw a number of bikes parked. Numerous bikes parked in front of a building early in the morning is either an indication of a place to sleep or a place to eat. :)

I almost missed it, but there was a sign that said "Durango Diner" about a small store front wedged in between two other builds. I said "There we go" and Tina said, "Where?" She hadn't even see it, the front was so small. "Diner" mixed with the look of it screamed "road food" to me. So we stopped and went it.

It was awesome! :)

The building is pretty narrow. A small set of tables up front, all full, and then a long counter. On the right are all the grills and cooking areas, running about 1/3 the length of the building, with about 3 feet for the cooks to work and then the counter running the length of the cooking area, and then a few tables in back. Just enough room between the wall and the counter to get by, and then enough room between the counter and the grills to cook. So we grabbed a seat at the counter, right across from where all the action (cooking) was going on.

There were at least 3 cooks. One making hash browns (to our left), the owner cooking the main ingredients (right in front of us) and another cook plating the dishes - putting them all together, smothering them with green chili, etc.

The hash brown cook just cooks hash browns... continuously. He has a big bowl with peeled potatoes (restaurant baked potato size) and a grater. The kind that looks like a box with a handle on top, opening on the bottom, and different size grates on the 4 sides. He grabs a large potato, grates it holding the grater towards the grill, and then dumps the entire grated contents onto the grill, pilling the hash browns next to the last order. This creates a single "order" that is about 4x2x8. We are talking a large plate covering of hash browns. Not doing carbs anymore... but I could definitely appreciate it. :) The main cook then takes this plate of hash browns, covers it with a helping of scrambled eggs (more like a flat omelet that is about 8 inches around, flipped in half), throws 4 strips of bacon on the top, and hands it to the next line cook who covers it in green chili and then sets it up to be served to a customer. Yeah... we're talking heaven. :)

So I asked for 2 eggs over medium, 4 bacon and smoother it.

Sitting there, talking to the locals (fireman on one side of us talking about the local goings on, teasing Tina about the rally, etc.), folks coming in, the owner turning around and yelling "Hey Joe, your usually", other folks, "Hey, hows the coffee today?", etc. The place had a great feel, and I just sat there, drinking cups of coffee with cream from the kind of creamers that all the restaurants used to have - the metal kind with real cream in them, not little individual containers.

The waitress slide our food to us and it was great. Chili wasn't mild, but wasn't too hot. Could of sat there for a while, but we had to make the meeting at Denny's, so ate up the food, and off we went.

If you're looking for road food and our in Durango, I highly suggest it. As their home page says:
"The Diner" is well known for their nostalgic no-frills meals, local buzz, and the Green Chili, Southwest Salsa, and Enchilada Sauce sold through-out the country.

It was awesome. The best road food find I've had in quite a while. I'll definitely go back next time we are down there, and would have gone again if I could have worked it out with everyone else's schedules.