Friday, August 28, 2009

Vegetarian Tacos, instantly.

Today was the day the 1st Mate ran out of ideas for lunch. She told me that yesterday, so I could plan on cooking today. There's criteria for cooking for the 1st Mate: it has to conform to the diet we've been on since April, i.e. No meat, no cheese or dairy, no eggs, no bread.

We had been talking about Soyrizo™, a local (as in Mexico, local) vegetarian chorizo made with TVP (textured vegetable protein) but we didn't want to run off to buy it because they use pig lard in it... ('nuff said about that.)

So I cranked up the new laptop and looked for recipes for pig-lard-free chorizo. I found this one:
2 cups(dried; not reconstituted) TVP*
6 Dried Anchos or New Mexico chile or some combination of the two
2 Dried Chipotles; optional, if you want smokey flavor
½ teaspoonCoriander seeds
3 Whole cloves
½ teaspoonPepercorns
½ teaspoonOregano
¼ teaspoonCumin seeds
1 smallPiece cinnamon; about 1/3" x 3/4"
8 Cloves garlic; peeled and crushed
2 teaspoonsPaprika
2 teaspoonsSalt
¼ cupVinegar
½ cupRed wine
¾ cupWater or stock
¼ cupOil or more
Mix it up and put in the fridge for two days.

This recipe is really a lot harder than it needs to be, in my lazy opinion. All the spices here I have already ground up... And two days in the fridge?? I could die of starvation.

So, I did this: I took the TVP we had and ground it fine in a mini food processor we have. Two cups full size TVP rendered down to about half that. I poured hot water on it and I had two full cups of reconstituted stuff. In the mini blender I dropped in 8 cloves of peeled garlic (1st Mate buys it that way), 2 tsps salt, 1-1/2 tsps of Chipotle abodados, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp clove, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1/4 cup of veg oil, 1/6 cup Basalmic vinegar. I don't drink, so the wine came out, as did the paprika and oregano. Blended it well and mixed everything together in a bowl, fired up the skillet with a little veg oil in it and cooked.

Because the TVP is finer, it picked up the flavors right away, so it's virtually instant. I figured that since I was going to use these in tacos, if somebody wants it hotter, they can add salsa.

I think it was better than Soyrizo™, and certainly cheaper and healthier. The 1st Mate approves.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

See the Cherubs?

Ask the 1st Mate. All I see is nekkid wimmin'.

Odds and Ends

One thing leads to another, I believe.
The air conditioner in "my" room failed, and being mostly stark raving mad, I removed it so I could repair it.

It's not like I don't have anything to do.

With the a/c gone, the window was was letting in the desert heat and something had to be done, so I took a block of styrofoam that I had purchased to modify the dinghy (The Three Dollar Cure) and cut it to fit the window. It wasn't quite wide enough to fill the space so I decided to foam in the rest with Touch 'n Foam polyurethane one part sealing foam.

That led to my finding the can was a little old. This stuff is under pressure, sort of, and the trigger to release the foam is to bend the spout over to one side. I really had to lean into it, because, for some reason, as hard as I tried, only a "trickle" would come out. (If you're a man over fifty I don't have to explain). I finally got enough out to do the job and I put the can aside on the workbench.

This morning I found the foam was still oozing out of the can... and creating this-
1st Mate was seeing cherubim in the thing (read her recent post on the 60's), so I decided to photograph it against the morning sky. What do you see?

This is my good friend Alan. He has said his goodbyes and is going back to Colorado to die. He's contracted lung cancer, which has moved into the rest of his body. Alan came to San Carlos for the last time to put his condo on the market, sell his sailboat, and say goodbye. He a smart, sweet man with a loving wife and a ton of grandkids.

It makes me aware of my own mortality, and grateful for every day I have. His latest gift to me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wish I had good news...

The Westy motor is now in the car.
That qualifies as neutral news, I think.

Looks complicated doesn't it? Well, it is.

Getting it to run will be good news, but that will have to wait for another day. And perhaps another, and another.

I've decided that I will sell this car once it's ready. I have a big boat to work on and the money and time I have available should go there. Neither of those things are unlimited.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All that jazz...

I'm addicted to music.
And so is the 1st Mate. So, when life permits, we do music together.

I've been playing since I was a small child: piano at five, trumpet at nine, guitar at thirteen. And my favorite music is jazz, because it offers a framework with a lot of freedom... two things I need to structure my energy.

I mention in an earlier post that we acquired an interface for the Mac computers we have to record our instruments and vocals. So our first attempt is this recording made famous by Julie London in 1955, a latin number entitled "Sway." 1st Mate performs the vocals, I play the instruments and do the mix in Apple's GarageBand software.

And finally, tonight and tomorrow is the annual Perseid meteor shower. Look northwest after dark. Take some nice music and a cold beverage with you.

Westy Update

Not much to say. The work continues on the motor, which is all but complete. Today I degreased the engine compartment in the van. Having a major oil leak, with all that stuff spinning around in there, showers everything with oil... and then everything picks up all the road dust and dirt (and in Mexico, there a lot of that!)

So, here's my Sow's Ear Project. The motor after being removed from the car and sitting in a cardboard box in the Errorzona desert for a year or so. Call this BEFORE.

And the motor today...AFTER.

I'm not sure I like the red. I have time to change that. BTW, it's still summer in Mexico, and I'm getting seriously adapted to the heat and humidity.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Back to it

We had a nice little trip up to Tucson this week, staying in the Quality Inn Airport for two nights. The hotel made this journey a pleasure... everything was clean and kept up, the price was right and it was an easy drive to all the places we had to go to spend our money. We took our time and rested up, took a swim in the pool, went out to eat, took naps.

The stop at San Xavier Mexico Insurance, where we have our internet orders sent, was almost like Christmas. Included in the pile of goodies was the new piston and cylinder set for the Westfalia Vanagon camper we own. And now that the parts are here, I'm back at work on the engine.

Also in the pile was a USB digital interface to plug microphones and stuff into for recording music on a computer... and the new computer (previous post).

I also picked up some tools at Harbor Freight... an air sander, an engine stand, sockets for big stuff, tarps to cover some of the projects I'm working on, etc.

I should have the motor finished this week, but that's pure speculation. Today when we drove into Guaymas to pay our rent, I stopped and bought some spark plugs. There will be other stuff to get I'm sure... San Carlos really needs a car parts store.

In other news...
The photo below is a nine pin molded plug that connects a controller to a 400 watt sound system I bought a few years ago. It stopped working because there was, I guessed, a broken wire inside the plug. This is not a part I can order anymore, the system was discontinued. So I had this wonderful stereo collecting dust because of a cheap little plug. I said to myself, "Self? I bet you could fix this plug yourself and get your stereo back."

I took a single sided razor blade and started carving away the plastic covering and discovered the blue wire to its pin was broken off. I went back up the wire and open up the sheath, clipped the blue wire, stripped it and ran a substitute wire to the plug and it works just fine, thank you. One of the nice things about this repair is that this system isn't residing in a landfill because of a tiny little flaw. And it sounds awesome.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My new computer...

is a sexy new MacBook Pro from Apple.
It has a 15.4 inch screen, backlighted keyboard, aluminum unibody (the computer case was machined from a single block of aluminum alloy), fast Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2 GB of ram. Also has dvd-r/w so I can burn dvds.

I get tired sitting at my desk after awhile, the laptop allows me to sit in bed and get a couple more hours of work done.

Right now we're in a hotel room at the Quality Inn Airport in Tucson, spending two nights while we take care of business matters.

We also have plans to do some shopping, get the car parts for the VW, and pick up some of the things we ordered online. I have to stop in Hermosillo on the way back to drop off my passport application... my passport is going to expire next month. So it's a working trip, but we still try to enjoy ourselves.

The sky is filled with clouds and we can see thunderstorms rolling across the valleys. I really love this time of year. It's still hot and humid, but the rain squalls break up the monotony of summer in the desert.

1st Mate speaks of a funny translation of Desert Storm, with dessert confused with desert, hence "tormenta de los postres."

This is how we occupy ourselves on the road.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Just wondering...

This morning at breakfast I had to load up my weekly pill container. Another 8 days had gone by (wait.. there's seven days in a week!) so it was empty. Like most folks, I suppose that when the time comes to do this task, I count out eight pills each... one for this morning, seven for the pill container. I gain a day that way. I don't do much for drugs... 100 mg of Zoloft that I should have started when I joined the military (except SSRIs hadn't been invented yet), something for my sinuses (I think I may be allergic to the dogs, but I won't give up my sweeties), and a stack of vitamins (which includes one of those memory thingies, whatever they're called).

Maybe I should take two of those.

Among the vitamins is chelated potassium, which does this delightful little thing in my mouth when I take it. A cooling, soothing sensation... maybe every Mexican restaurant should have a bottle of chelated potassium sitting on the table next to the chili sauces. But they won't.

Hell, they don't even have toilet seats in the bathrooms.

The process of counting out eight tablets, capsules, caplets, whatever- makes me think that I'm being efficient ("I gain a day"). And that that is a good thing. But it bothers me to think that many, maybe ALL of my decisions and processes are designed and implemented around the concept of efficiency. And that's a frightening thought. Am I living my life like a @%^$&* business? MxSailor, Inc? If you ask the 1st Mate, though, she would laugh at the idea that I'm living an efficient life. It would be downright hysterical to her.

So maybe I needn't worry about that. I can worry about something else, like,

Well, maybe that's not important either.

How many coffee beans?

I was wondering about a mental phenomena as I dumped my vitamins on the breakfast table. It is said that we can instantly count up to five objects without actually counting. We KNOW there's five B Complex tablets sitting on the tablecloth. But what if there's six? or seven? I don't know about your brain, but my brain tells me that there's "more than five" with just a glance. Why is this "hardwired" into my brain? Maybe it has to do with having five fingers, I dunno.

How many coffee beans? (No fair counting)

But I wonder about that feeling I get when there's more than five. If there's six, the "more than five" (call it MTF) sensation isn't as strong as if there's seven or eight or nine. Then I wonder, maybe that feeling is a way to sense six objects. If you practiced at it, could you increase the number of objects you could sense? By being sensitive to the amount of MTF feeling you get, could you ramp up the number to something really large, like "How many coffee beans in a kilo of coffee beans.." or something important like that.

Think how efficient your life would be then...