Computer Game Lovers

Saturday, May 31, 2008

If your a fan of computer games I have some handy links for you. First off I found this lovely link to "List of commercial games released as freeware". Basically, it's a bunch of games you can download, copy, and play legally with out fear. If you have a Torrent, you can find them rather easily. There is also this list of open source games.

If your like me then you prefer to have a copy of the manual, you can find them here. If you want to know what the game is like before you download it, look on one of these review sites:

Just a note, if you have old games you bought and can no longer read or lost your code. Try out this site to help out, they also have programs to help you run it with out having to keep the disk in the whole time. The site is intended for legal purposes only and has some raunchy adds some times, so it's not work or child safe.

Cutting Down a Bit

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I have to post less, I just can't keep up with all the stress of things going on here and posting every day. I will be in and out of dental surgery for the next few weeks, we have lots of doctors appointments coming up, plus were getting married.

I will aim for 3 posts a week, and as things improve I hope to add more. Be sure to check weekly as I will continue to add content. I enjoy doing this, I don't enjoy rushing articles or publishing anything I am not sure of.

Sugar Alcohols?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A friend of mine asked me the other day what I knew about Sugar Alcohol. He seemed quite optimistic at the claims made on the effects for weight loss and blood sugar. As it turns out most people don't know or don't understand properly what Alcohol Sugar is or what it does. As my concerns in nutrition cover weight loss, sugar levels and carbohydrates, I looked a bit deeper in to the topic.

Sugar Alcohol is a low calorie sweetener or flavoring commonly used to replace sugar or improve tastes of artificial sweeteners. They do not contain sugar or alcohol and are considered safe for consumption. Common examples are: Glycerol, Erythritol, Xylitol, Ribitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Isomalt, Maltitol, and Lactitol.

In short, we look forward to the advantages of Sugar Alcohols as a substitute to sugars because it's not known to cause weight gain, raise your hypoglycemic levels, or decay teeth like sugar.

Even thought all sweeteners and food products are extensively studied before FDA approval, we still need to be concerned with how much we use because it's a newly approved product, there are some known side effects, and a lot of claims are still in debate.

**Please note that Alcohol Sugars have not been "approved" as a whole, but some forms have been approved for limited use. The FDA official stand is "generally recognized as safe" and others as approved food additives.

I am always cautious of "new products" as some are ban after they have been approved for years. After all at one time we all painted our homes with lead and asbestos was the next big revolution in construction.

I am currently doing research in to the following topics of Sugar Alcohol: Pros, Cons, Warnings and Interactions, Sugar Alcohols with Dieting, Sugar Alcohols with Diabetes. There will be new articles and information found on this topic within the next few weeks.


Another Day Off For Dentist

Monday, May 26, 2008

Going for Dental Work today, will try to post more tomorrow if not there will be new content on Wednesday.

Sorry for the delay!

Fast Food Lifestyle?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

So many Americans have a fast food and take out life style. We don't want to waist time cooking or doing dishes, so we get fast food or go out to eat. A lot of people know how bad fast food is and try to avoid the items we think are the worst. We get grilled chicken and salads in stead of burgers in hopes to avoid eating the most naughty items.

Sadly, the clear choice isn't always so clear. Fast food does a good job of making the most healthy of meals the worst pick on the menu. The following web pages will help you decide what the least damaging food is when you pull up to that window.

Eat this, No that, this web site lists the best and worst picks of fast food and chain restaurants. They even cover some Supermarket picks, drinks, and more.
This one is a fast food calculator and nutritional information guide, but it has some political messages and the owner clearly hates Rush Limbaugh. If that doesn't bother you, then I suggest checking out their combo calculator. It will let you know just how much damage your about to do and how to avoid the worst of it. They also have this one to help you find the best foods and this one to let you compare the choices side by side.

This site is a calorie calculator that has fast food, deli, pizza, and store bought products. they are all conveniently categorizes with drop down or fill in searches.

I hope this helps in making your fast food choices a little more healthy every day, and remember 33% of all litter is fast food waist. Don't add to the problem, dispose properly and recycle!

Lack of Variety Makes a Diet Hard

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In Spain obesity is a fairly new issue. I know there has always been over weight people in every country of the world, but here it was never a wide spread health problem.

The Spanish diet is heavy on fish and olive oil. Rarely does a traditional Spanish recipe call for butter or cream, even frying they use olive oil. In fact the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the most healthy in the world.

This is a great thing! Well it's great unless you need to be on a calorie restricted diet. Because they are not used to the need of food that is light or sugar-free, they are considered specialty items. This means to buy some thing like tofu or ground turkey you need to travel, or buy an alternative of super lean cuts of beef and chicken from the butcher. In both cases your paying a premium price every time, if you can get it at all.

My only recourse in this matter is to do it myself. This means more investments I don't want to make. I need to find and purchase a meat grinder, an ice cream machine, a crock pot, a grill, and an oven. They are investments I can't afford to make, but can't afford not to.

The real down side is large upfront payments in a time when we have no income. The up side is we both enjoy to cook and they will pay for them selves over time. We can't afford to go off the diet, but we can't afford paying top dollar for meats, produce is costing enough as it is.

It's a hard decision to put out money when the wallet is tight, and it will take some deep consideration and bergen hunting to make this plausible. I will give updates as the week goes on, I need to start window shopping. If you have any suggestions on these items, please let me know. I'm quite open to on line shopping as well as going on foot to stores.

Food Rookie: French(ish) Onion Soup

Thursday, May 22, 2008

One of the foods I truly enjoy is a bubbling hot crock of French onion soup. Unfortunately, like most of my favorite French recipes, it loaded with butter and fats. That's why I have devised a healthy and easier version of the soup. I can't call it French onion soup, but I can say it's smiler in taste, and so much less fat and calories.

This soup is extremely easy to make, the instructions and measurements are just rough guidelines. Experiment with this, I know it may sound crazy but the mix of onions, sauce, and beefy broth smothered in cheese is just hard to mess up. It's a tasty soup and even better the next day.

You can find detailed information on the soup including calories, nutrition, and serving size on my health blog : link here

French(ish) Onion Soup Base:


200 gram onion
50 gram leek, light green and white parts
300 ml vegetable broth
400 ml warm water, with one beef cube dissolved (I use Knorr brand)
10 ml Worcestershire Sauce
teaspoon butter

  1. Slice onions and leek thin, in to half moons.
  2. In hot pot add 2 tea butter, spread, or olive oil. When it's melted add 150 grams of onions and the leek.
  3. Saute until transparent stirring occasionally, if they begin to brown, reduce heat, add broth and simmer until tender.
  4. Add in water and broth then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minuets.
  5. Add reserve onion then return to boil, add Worcestershire Sauce Return to simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Adjust flavor with additional broth, and Worcestershire Sauce, as needed.

French(ish) Onion Soup Finish:

  1. Toast your favorite bread, and layer it in center of bowl.
  2. Shred or thinly slice cheese.
  3. Poor hot soup over bread
  4. Cover with cheese
  5. Place in oven or broiler, and melt or brown the cheese as desired
  6. Enjoy!
Please note, nutritional information of soup does not cover bread and cheese, so choose wisely.

Computer Gadgets: reCAPTCHA

reCAPTCHA is a nice little web based program that helps you fight automated spam mail. It deters spam bots that search forums and chats for email addresses, or web sites that require email to sign up then spam you.

reCAPTCHA simply adds a verification box so that automated mail will not go threw. All it requires is that the sender types out the letters they see in the box before the mail is sent. This is great if you use messengers, forums, or chats that you need to send your email threw.

You don't have to change your email address, or give your password or account information to use this. It's easy, simple, and free, for more information check out the site at:

Tired of spam? reCAPTCHA Mailhide helps you protect your inbox by asking people to solve a reCAPTCHA before they can view your email address.

The reCAPTCHA can only be solved by humans, so this stops spammers from gaining access to your email address through automated programs. Here is an example:

Herbal Garden: Prepping for Basil

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It seems my preparation work for basil will be almost identical to that of Rosemary. The only difference is that fort basil I need to pick up some liquid plant food, and be sure to get a good rich compost soil.

Because it can take some time to germinate seeds or root clippings for basil, I am going to look for seedlings. If I fail to find them, i will try a late start with germinating my own seeds.

Basil prefers a well draining soil just like rosemary, so more broken pots to help my plants grow. It's a great way to release stress, and your recycling! I never thought I could have so much fun smashing ceramic and not worry about feeling guilty.

Just remember if your breaking items like this, wear eye protection. You may look funny, but loosing an eye would look worse. You can feel free to use old plates or cups, this is a good use for many old items. Be sure anything you use is non- toxic, last thing you want to do is kill your new plants.

Now the hardest step of getting ready for basil, picking the kind! It just so happens that there is a large amount of species to choose from. After talking it over and looking more closely at each kind, we have settled on Sweet Basil.

Here is a little deeper look in to the kinds and what they are used for thanks to GardenAction.

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilcum) - the most popular variety in the UK used in Italian style dishes and salads. It grows to a height of 75cm (2ft 6in)

Cinnamon Basil (Ocimum basilcum) - form Mexico, with a cinnamon flavour. It grows to a height of 45cm (18in).

Lemon Basil (Ocimum citriodorum) - mild lemon flavour, commonly used with fish. It grows to a height of 30cm (12in).

Purple Basil (Ocimum basilcum purpurea) - similar to sweet basil, but with purple leaves. One of the more tender varieties. It grows to a height of 75cm (2ft 6in)

Red Rubin Basil (Ocimum basilcum) - similar to sweet basil but very darkly coloured leaves.
HHA. Ht. 75cm. A much deeper colour than purple basil. It grows to a height of 75cm (2ft 6in)

Thai Basil (Ocimum sp.) - very spicy, used in Indian cooking. It grows to a height of 90cm (3ft).

As always you can find more information on Basil from my reference links.

Herbal Garden: Prepping for Rosemary

After doing some reading on this wonderful herb, I have decided to skip the seeds and try to find a seedling or cutting to root myself. I was happy to find well of information on how to grow and tend to rosemary. The planting season has already begun, so I need to get read to start growing as soon as possible.

The first thing I need to do is find a good sunny spot on the terrace. I have lots of clay pots that we wanted to discard. I will use some to break and make a draining layer at the bottom of my growing pot. This will save me the time and money of finding stones or spacers for a drainage layer.

I will need to buy new soil, the old stuff that is in the pots are from when my boyfriend moved in about 7 years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if they were from the former tenants and he just never bothered to throw them away. Still, the clay pots littering our terrace are plentiful, and some in good condition, so they are ideal for what I want.

Most sites recommend using a sandy soil, because rosemary likes to stay well drained. Well, that's not hard in Madrid, I will pop out and get that from the local market square. They don't feed a lot so I won't worry about fertilizer for this first season in fresh soil. It should be more then enough to sustain it's self.

The terrace is open so the air circulation is good, and it gets 6 -8 hours of sunlight a day. That fulfills the other plant requirements for rosemary. The last thing I need to do is find some thing to elevate it on, so that it gets enough sun over the rail. At least until it is tall enough to fend on it's own. Rosemary does grow a bit large it would seem from the descriptions, so I have make some more room out there.

If you would like more information on the requirements of rosemary please feel free to visit my resource links.

I do have to note that I found this article from to be the most clear and useful.
Rosemary - You Can Grow the Herb Rosemary

Skribit Widget

You may be wondering what that Skribit box is on the left of the blog. I came across this while browsing some tech blogs. I believe I found it on a blog called Make Use of.

Skribit is a widget that allows you to make a sugestion of topics for the blog. You can write up to 100 characters. This will let me know what aspects of the things I write you are more interested in.
I just thought it would be fun to test out, and gives people a chance to interact in other ways then leaving comments.

For more information, please visit the Skribit site at:

Herbal Garden Selection

I was looking threw some things to find out what the best choice of herbs would be for our living arrangements. The two that I found best fulfilled my requirements was Rosemary and Basil, Not only do we enjoy to cook with them, but they also grow well in our climate.

It would seem these two spices have great insect repelling qualities, and do not attract predatory wasps . While Rosemary will attract bees during pollination periods, it should not be prolonged or excessive. These two plants are speculated to be especially good at repelling mosquitoes and flies. We plan to cook out on the terrace this summer, so they sound just right for what we need, and they should grow well here in Madrid.

Now the trick is finding a place that I can find started plants or seeds. I need to read up on how to grow and care for these two particular spices still. I do know that they are grown locally to our climate, but I have not yet taken time to learn how to do it myself. I hope to have more information for you this week.

To learn more on insect qualities of spices, please feel free to look threw my reference links.

Herbal Garden Project

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A while back I was talking about my bulk shopping and my friend Sangria brought up the home growing suggestion. I know it would be hard to make room to grow produce, and the laws about growing on your terrace would make it difficult to try. I have considered the alternative of growing my own herbs.

The considerations I have for this project are not nearly as complicated as most. I will need to pick herbs that can grow easily in the Mediterranean climate. Preferably ones that have the beneficial qualities of insect repelling. I would want them to be herbs we like to use, and that can be brewed for teas.

The things I will need to avoid are any herbs that attracts wasps and predatory insects or bees past pollination periods. We have both pollen and bee allergies to consider in my household. Our terrace is small and it would be hard to share with wasps. We don't mind the occasional hard working bee though.

With the laws here, i can only grow in pots, I cant make any troff. They have to drain elevated so I cant make any dirt or sand patches on to the ground. It also has to be a moderately low moisture plant that can withstand full or partial sunlight, and hopefully doesn't grow to large. Living on the fourth floor it also should not be a plant that drops any heavy or hard bits such as large fruits or nuts.

I will look in to this more another day, tomorrow is my first dentist visit in Spain. I will most likely not be up to working on anything after that one, but I don't plan to be out of action long.
If you have any tips or information on good things to grow in sunny Madrid, Spain that may help, please let me know.

Charity Clothing in Madrid

Friday, May 16, 2008

After burring the living room in bags of clothing for charity I used the Salvation Army contact so graciously provided by my friend Sangria. The morning after I had sent them an email, they sent me the following reply.

We have in Madrid three Community Centers which are receiving and distributing clothing.

In our Center in Valdemoro there is also a Thrift Store.

We really do not have here in Madrid a collect system. Usually people bring their own clothing to our Centers. If you have a big amount of clothing, we can arrange so that one of our official vehicles can make a collection.

As well as in the States, the money raised is used for the maintenance of our social services and development our charity projects.

Here you can find the contact info for the Centers mentioned:

c/ Hermosilla, 126. Lc. 4
28028 MADRID
Phone: 913566644
Contact person: Major Shane Gruer-Caulfield

Av. Rafael Alberti, 18Bis
28018 MADRID
Phone: 91 7781784
Contact person: Major Belinda Arias

c/ Bret�n de los Herreros, 10.
Phone: 91 2481646
Contact person: Captain Luis Romera

Please feel free to contact our colleagues to organize the deliver or collection of your clothing.

I trust you will find this information helpful.

May God bless you.


Carmen Alvea
Administrative Secretary
The Salvation Army - Spain Command

I also did some looking around my local area and found a local mall has bins for clothing collection. My boyfriends mother also mentioned that there was a church by her house that had bins. Seeing the Salvation Army is quite a distance from us, and I don't feel I have enough for a pick up, I will do small deliveries to the mall and drop off at the church.

Nether one of the two locations is close, but they are in enough distance to reach with small loads. In this day and age of hard times, I just don't have the heart to waist perfectly good clothing. I know there are plenty of people who can really benefit from a little bit of my effort, so I will make trips every time I can. I think in a week or so I can unload it all with out going directly out of my way to do it.

Now the real challenge is not spending money when I pass threw the mall so many times!

Diet Update and Todays Menu

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's been a few weeks and I thought I would take a moment to give you an update on how the weight loss and home rehabilitation have come along. So far in 3 weeks we have lost a little over 4 kilos (10 pounds). Our walking has made it up to 10 minutes every other day, and we have weaned down the need for some of the pain killers.

I still have him on a loose 1,000 calorie diet, that I let vary up to 100 calories on days he walks. With mothers day and some Madrid holidays within the last weeks, we did cheat about 4 days. He watched how much he consumed, but still ate a lot of food and sweets you wouldn't on a diet. This lead to one week with out weight loss, but no weight gain.

Here is a sample of the meal plan we used today, this is a 1,000 calorie base and was filling even for me. I did however eat an additional yogurt and soup to reach the calories I should have in the day.


  • Chocolate Puffed Cereal 30 grams (1cup) with 120 ML light milk (195 kcal)
  • 2 cups Spanish Coffee with 120 ml light milk (35 kcal each 70kcal total)



  • 3 cups popcorn (air popped) with Parmesan cheese (120 kcal)

Snack: (100 kcal)
  • 1/2 a turkey and cheese toasty 80 kcal
  • 30 gram apple 16 kcal
  • 20 gram tomato 4 kcal

*Note: Turkey and cheese toasty, made on light bread with low fat sliced deli style turkey and reduced calorie and fat cheese. Thin tomato, onion, lettuce and a small amount of brown mustard were also added. This is a great spot to fulfill your higher calorie needs by using whole wheat bread and eating a whole apple.

Another Delay in Progress

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Well, I just wanted to warn you I may not be posting a few days in the coming weeks. You see I was lucky enough to have my filling come out. Never is loosing dental work enjoyable, but I was able to deal with it. Now I have managed to break a separate tooth and the need for the dentist is here.

I will be making my appointments tomorrow and be back and forth with the dentist for as long as it takes to fix these teeth. Nothing in this world hurts quite like a good tooth ache, and it's just killing me. I will try to get as much up as I can, but I think most of my time will be spent on pain killers, ricing, or trying to sleep.

When this is all over I will resume my blogging duties properly and hopefully be able to add some content deeper then fluff, but right now I can barely sit at the computer. I do apologizes again.

Pic via

Computer Gadgets: PicArtia

This is a real interesting one, you upload images and it creates a mosaic for you. It's free and if you really like what you made you can order prints of it from them.

Just wanted to show it around, I found it amusing even though I have failed at getting a good outcome from it, but then again I don't have so many pictures to try.

Take a look and enjoy, you can find the link here.

Funny Stuff Caught on Film

Just had to share this great picture.

I found it on Pixaus, you can find it at this URL:

and this one at

Spending a lot of my life by water I enjoyed these a lot. It's hard to imagine how pesky and sneaks these seagulls can be until you catch them red handed.

Ingenious Rechargeable Batteries

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I came across these gems today while browsing this store. I know rechargeable batteries have been around a long time, and they keep improving them. However I have never seen USB rechargeable batteries before.

Such a simple concept yet so incredibly handy. Not only can you just charge it in almost any computer, but you can also use any standard NiMH charger. I just thought it was worth sharing, so I am passing it along.

You can find the information here:

Underwarter Cemetary Open for Busniess

As strange as it sounds this divers find is more then a must see before you die destination. For some people it's their choice for a final resting ground. If you like the idea of being part of an epic project that will have your name memorialized in an underwater tourist attraction, then maybe you should consider buying a spot at Neptune Memorial Reef.

There is of course some terms and conditions it. They can't actually bury your remains there, but they will be more then happy to dump your ashes in to a mix of concrete they use to build it with. For your moneys worth they make you a nice plaque that is installed in to the monument, it will server as your grave stone.

Click here to see their video:

Just remember cost of a placement starts at $995 and can go up past $6,000

Read more at: Watery graves offer a haven for divers via

Madrid Clothing Dilemma

I have been neglecting my blogging duties, and I apologize for that. The weather has been suitable to get underway with my spring cleaning projects and it seems the more I do, the more I find I need to do.

In my previous posts, I decided to start my spring cleaning with my clothing bins and closet. Most of our clothing is rather old and just doesn't fit right anymore or is begging to get well worn. The question isn't weather we should discard them, the question is how to do it. In the area we living there are no clothing drives.

I have been spending some of my time sorting out the clothing that is good enough to give away and what needs to be come rags. Now I need to decide what to do with all these rags and find some kind of charity or person willing to take the clothing. Once i sort out this dilemma I will be sure to leave a post on the options I found. It may come in handy for other people who are facing the same questions.

Fun Dose For the Day

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I didn't find enough energy or time today to write a proper post. All I can offer is a bit of humor I stumbled upon today. I hope you can enjoy them as I did.

Just a warning that if you are easly insulted don't read them. Nothing here should be specifically offensive, none of it is harsh or uses bad language. I thought just better to be safe then sorry and add a disclaimer.

This is one for the Europeans

This is for the Americans

This is for every one

This is for adults, but is safe for work. (no explicit content or foul language, just funny quotes about sex in general)

Food Storage: Bread

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bread has to be one of the foods that people waist more of. We often discard the crusts, toss out the ends, and allow half our loaf to go bad before we finish it. It's a shame that so much food goes to waist when stored correctly it can last so long and be used in so many stages of freshness. Here is some advice on the ways to store bread and the things you can do with your excess.

Bread Storage
If your not the kind of person or family who can eat a whole loaf of bread quickly, store it in the refrigerator. Refrigerating bread can add days on to it's freshness, and keep away the mold even after it becomes stale. For families who need even longer, try dividing the loaf in half. Package one of the halves in to portions, wrap in paper and foil then freeze. Place the other half in the refrigerator for use.

When freezing a whole loaf of bread, you can place paper between each slice and freeze together. Bread is easily defrosted by unwrapping and toasting, allowing to sit a few moments, or microwaving on low for a few seconds. You could also pack the frozen bread slices in your lunch pack. It will help keep the food cold, and will be defrosted and ready to eat by lunch. Freezing bread in pre-measured portions is a great way to help you keep track of your food and loose weight.

If you choose not to refrigerate or freeze your bread, then keep it wrapped well, out of sunlight and extreme heat, and away from moisture. Bread that goes stale can be used, bread that becomes molded must be discarded.

Bread Uses
There are many uses for the parts of the bread that many people consider undesirable. For example the ends and crust of bread can be dried and made in to bread crumbs. If bread becomes stale it can be used as garlic bread, croutons, bread crumbs, or even stuffing. If you keep a small bag or container in the freezer for bread scraps you can save the small amounts and make large batches over time.

*Look later this week for recipes that work well with older bread or crusts.

Amazing Photos of Terrifying Natural Events: Texas Events

Friday, May 9, 2008

"Amarillo, Texas, May 6, 2008—
A supercell—the strongest and most severe type of thunderstorm—lights up the sky over Amarillo. "

Just in case the storms in West Texas weren't enough, two days later the ground opened up. It still can't compare to the devastation the Volcano in Chile is causing right now, or that the cyclone in Myanmar, but it's still amazing!

Texas Sinkhole, this is just an incredible picture to me.

"Daisetta, Texas, May 8, 2008—Looking something like a prehistoric tar pit, a giant sinkhole yawns across the landscape of a southeast Texas town.

The huge hole formed suddenly on May 7 and rapidly began expanding, swallowing up vehicles, telephone poles, and oil-drilling equipment. Now some 600 feet (180 meters) wide, the crater seems to have stopped growing but sits filled with debris, water, and oil."

Read more on these stories:

Why We Support Troops

As every one knows the war in the middle east has been ongoing for many years now . I have heard hundreds of stories on why we are there, and hundreds of views on if we should be fighting at all.

Right now the one thing I know is true, and I feel is the most important aspect of this war, is to support the troops who are out there. Now many people don't understand why they should support troops if they don't support the war. I can see how some one not educated in military life can feel that way.

Let me explain it simply, the men and woman fighting right now are there because they wanted to defend their Country. In that military contract they sign over their lives to the judgment of the US government, and to the people who establish it. The government then sends them out to fight anything they deem necessary. If the individual solder or unit of military do not do the assigned duty, they are imprisoned.

Some people feel that prison is better then fighting a war, but when your trained and believe that you are responsible for the life next to you, you learn to think different. Every solder out there knows that if he abandons his friends, they are more likely to get killed. They know every man who doesn't fight, makes another man fight for him. No government on earth will ever say, Oh well we ran out of solders lets end the war. They would rather draft and force people against their will to fight and die on foreign land.

It is for this reason, that every American owes nothing less then support for the troops. If you don't know what you can do to help, here are several links to charity and collections for the solders in the Middle East.

Please note, these charities do NOT FUND the MILITARY and DO NOT FUND the WAR. They are strictly supporting the health and spirit of the individual troops.

If you don't know, silly string has proven effective in detecting trip wires. It can spray a good distance and is light. It will outline a trip wire with out setting it off and this saves lives!

Is Cooking Efficiently Gorse?

A short time back I did a "Food Rookie" on making stocks and broths. As it turns out a few people thought the idea of saving the tidbits of vegetables was disgusting. Truth be told, all those packaged soups you buy are made of scraps. Restaurants and dinners employ the same method too.

Just today I came across an article in the Culinary Review on being an efficient chef. One of the guidelines was saving the scraps for stock. I worked in a very nice three star restaurant when I was a younger. The first thing you learn in a kitchen is that nothing goes to waist. The food industry is a 100% return business. That means you need to make up 100% of the cost on each ingredient purchase in order to make a profit.

As you can imagine, that would mean taking simple shortcuts like making stock and broth from scraps. Saving yesterdays bread for today's garlic bread and croutons, and yes many places reuse unopened packages of condiments. If you want some more incite to the things an efficient cook saves check out my article on stocks and broths and this article on the Culinary Review.

Are You a Super Efficient Cook? - The Culinary Review
Food Rookie: Stock and Broth

Amazing Photos of Terrifying Natural Events: Chile's Volcano

Thursday, May 8, 2008

This absolutely amazing photo of Chile's Chait�n volcano causing an outbreak of lighting was featured in National Geographic's website today. Read article here

This incredible and horrifying event, has been erupting since May 2 2008, in an agricultural area of Chile. Apparently the clouds of dust and ice that form from eruptions can cause lighting. I'm both amazed and terrified at the sight of this volcano and it's effects on everything around it. If the sight of this isn't enough to command your respect, take a look at the effects of the areas around it.

This cow isn't resting in a light dusting of snow, thats volcanic ash that is spewing on to their grazing fields.

The source of the ash, the Chait�n volcano about 75 miles (120 kilometers) away, began erupting May 2. It could continue spewing ash for weeks, experts say (full story).

Chile has evacuated at least 4,000 people and many animals and crops are threatened. If you want to learn more about this event, there are links provided below.

Food Rookie: Mirepoix

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mirepoix, is a French cooking basic, it simply means the combination of carrot, onion, and celery in a dish. This food staple can be the base or topping for everything from simple soups to extravagant meals like Emeril Lagasse's Ribollita.

Today we are going to use it to add the solid foundation to
simple sautes. The combination of a Mirepoix is two parts onion, one part carrot, one part celery. The steps below will tell you how to make several flavorful yet effortless meals with this combination. The fact that this recipe staple is made of three produce items I buy and store in bulk, makes it even more appealing to use.

Mirepoix Combinations:

  • Saute a Mirepoix, after pan frying meat, until tender. Make sure you deglaze the pan with the vegetable combination, serve together as a dish.
  • Chop it small and saute it with more vegetables, server it as a compliment to a main course.
  • Add meat to a Mirepoix, with just one or two slices of bacon or sausage for a wonderfully tasty meal.
  • Saute with mushrooms, when clear remove from heat and add a spoon fool of bread crumbs, insert in to meat and broil. For a wonderful and satisfying stuffed meal.
  • Saute with spinach and add a salty cheese or tomato and stuff in fish to broil.
  • Brown chicken in a rice pan or skillet, then add Mirepoix. Saute until tender, add garlic, bay leaf, and chicken spice. Saute a moment until garlic is tender then add dry rice, mix well. Add water (or broth) to cover and simmer until rice is tender and chicken is cooked threw. Use more water or broth as needed.

A Mirepoix is a true stepping stone for any one learning how to get around the kitchen. Below are some links to the Mirepoix.

Picture via


Keeping the Peace

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Yesterday I made a post about bad neighbors and their annoying habits. Today I am going to explain how I handle them. It's very difficult for me to address issues in the Spanish language, it is not my native tongue and I am still learning it. This makes communication limited, and easily brings mistakes when delicate issues arise.

I also have to consider that some things that are happening make their life miserable too. I am sure that no one was looking froward to damages in the building, and it's as much of a strain to every one els as it is to us. When it comes to the noise at night, I realize that some times a small tradition can mean so much to a family or group of friends. I will never forget how excited I was the first time I found maple syrup in Spain. Such small simple things as the familiarity of a song, or taste of a sweet can bring us right back to our homes.

I could spend all my time focusing on how much I dislike it, or I can just sit back and deal with a little annoyance. After all what is worse, a slamming door and an inspector visit or a neighbor that complains about everything? As for the singing and clapping, until midnight I won't complain, and on weekends I will just learn to deal with it. I'm sure after some time the week day sections will die down as the summer jobs start to come.

Computer Gadgets: Free Games

Monday, May 5, 2008

I love the Internet, it has a limitless supply of stress reduction, time waisting, and creative ideas. One of the tings I enjoy the most is killing a few moments on free web games. Here are two links for a few more hours of waited time and enjoyment at your desk.

The first link I have is for a game called Pig Blaster. I have to give credit to Presurfer for this one. It's an entire blog based on waiting time and distracting your self. OK back to Pig Blaster, i wont give all the details away but you should take a look, the sounds are funny and the game is.. um.. a blast. (I said it, shame on me)

Link: Pig Blaster:

Second I have a link to a Free Web Arcade, I have gone there myself and never had an issue with the site. I tend to shy away from these kinds of sites in fear of spy wear and all that bad stuff. So far this site has a clean report and personally I have never had an issue.

So, if you want countless amounts of time and boredom to vanish before you know it, take a look and enjoy your self with out paying a subscription fee.

Link: Free Web Arcade

Neighbors from Hell

Lately we have had the displeasure of annoying neighbors. Like all neighborhoods, ours is changing. Since Spain has opened the door to immigration, Madrid has become more and more crowded.

Every new neighbor brings ideals and customs from their native lands. Some of these customs are welcome changes and wonderful additions to the neighborhood. Unfortunately, not all of those customs adapt as well to Madrid.

One of the customs our new neighbors is a love to sing and clap in large groups. This is not a problem, after all they are not drinking or doing drugs, it's just some good clean fun. That is until it's 3am on a week day and they are still at it. It's not uncommon to have them out there from sunset until sunrise the next day.

In addition to that, our upstairs neighbors have decided to be DYI experts and redo the kitchen and bathroom them selves. Good for them... after dealing with a week of non-stop banging and power tools it seems that it is all over. Well, except that little thing where they broke the radiator in their apartment in the process. What's a little water damage, the insurance company, and more angry owners between neighbors.

After all this gives us the pleasant adventure of having inspectors, neighbors, and the water company in and out of our house for who knows how long. Hopefully he hasn't shattered any pipes this time. Last time the pipes broke the whole building had to pay for it in collective billings to out monthly dues.

Just to make sure there is no boring silence at night, the downstairs neighbors have an issue where their door won't close properly unless they slam it. Not a little slam, a good slam that actually shakes our apartment.

Ah city life.. how I miss the woods!

Computer Gadgets: TypeRacer

Sunday, May 4, 2008

TypeRacer is a entertaining way to improve your typing by pitting yourself against others in a race. It is all web based, no downloads needed. Register a name and it's saved only to that computer. The page offers two modes practice and competition.

All opponents are randomly picked, the races then count down and start every few minuets. It's free, with no registration required. It's still a beta program and you can stay up to date via their blog. I hope you enjoy this cute and functional typing program.

Link to TypeRacer:

More Editing

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I will be editing old posts and images this month, I just wanted to apologize in advance if this causes older posts to re-emerge in your readers or email feeds. This site is a work in process, and is still has it's training wheels. Changes and fixes will be regular the next few weeks, but they should be harmless for every one.

Food Storage: The Yellow Onion

Yellow or brown onions are common ingredients in most cooking. Onions are best know for their strong flavor that can even be sweet. These culinary staples are enjoyed both raw and cooked all across the globe.

Onions if selected correctly and stored well, can last a significant amount of time. This makes them prime candidates for bulk purchases. While there are many kinds of onions, we will focus on the yellow and brown for storage and selection in this topic.

Knowing how to select an onion is the first step in insuring you have the finest product available with the longest shelf life. To select a quality onion you should look for the following traits.

What to look for:

  • Firm
  • Tightly closed
  • Paper dry skin
  • Heavy for size
  • Smooth
  • Well formed
  • Even colored
  • Soft sheen to skin
What to avoid:
  • Sprouting
  • Dark spots
  • Powdery spots
  • Green spots
  • Softness
  • Blemishes
  • Mold
  • Bruises
After selecting you onions it is important to know how to store them. Though onions can be easily kept in the refrigerator, it is not necessary. Onions can be stored in any cool dark area, it is best to keep them spaced and out of sunlight. We have in the past suggested using the sock method in the past.

Once an onion has been opened, simply wrap tightly and keep refrigerated. If at any point sprouting does occur, trim the sprout and discard the onion. The green stems that grow from onions can be used as a substitute for scallions, as they are edible with a soft onion flavor.

Alternative storages are freezing, pickling, and canning.


Food Storage: Celery

Friday, May 2, 2008

Celery is a cooking basic. It's an extremely versatile aromatic vegetable that is enjoyed both hot and cold around the world. Celeries ability to be used in almost every dish makes it a good choice to buy in bulk. Here is advice on the selection and storage of celery to help ensure you get the maximum out of your purchase.

Celery Selection
Celery is commonly sold in two forms, in loose bunches normally accompanied by leafy tops and celery hearts. The hearts are a term for celery that has been trimmed of it's leaves and exterior ribs.

Celery that is light green will be more tender and and flavorful. Darker green stalks will be tougher but provide more nutrition. No matter what color your prefer here is what you should know about selection and storage.

What to look for:

  • Tight bunches
  • Sturdy
  • Crisp
  • Even Colored
  • Healthy Green leaves and stems
  • Glossy finish
  • Firm
What to avoid:
  • Limp
  • Brown
  • Spotted
  • Yellow
  • Bruised or broken

Celery Storage:

To store fresh celery simply wrap in loose plastic bag and place in refrigerator crisper. This should hold the celery for two weeks. If it begins to wilt, simply soak it in ice water a few moments before you use it.

You can also freeze celery if needed. Cut in to pieces and then blanch for three minutes before freezing.


New Look is Here!

So what do you think?

I feel it's a large improvement, it's not as dark as I wanted, but after it all went up I am quite pleased. It has a much more polished feel and more eye appeal.

I made the logo myself from some old open source clip art I had, and my photo editing software. I can't draw to save my life, but I do like to play around a lot.

Well, I hope you all like it to!

New Layout to Come

Thursday, May 1, 2008

By next week this site will have a new look. I am keeping a dark theme, because it's better for the eyes and actually better for the environment.

Thats right I said black pages is better for the environment. If you don't believe me check out blackle and here is their about page link.

It's just a warning in advance, I didn't want any one to open the page and think they went to the wrong place. Also, if you like the whole black page thing and have firefox, check out Stylish. It has a bunch of scripts you can apply to pages to help the eyes or just give it a better look.

Computer Gadgets: Streamzy

There are a lot of music streaming sites available on the web now a days. I'm not sure why these have caught on so much lately, possibly due to people actually getting caught with illegal down loads now? Perhaps it's the ability to hear music from any computer with out downloading.

For what ever reason it is, I like it. The selection of music from streaming applications has a much greater variety then I could gather for my own collection, and doesn't take the disk space.

Of course I keep my favorites and classic listening selection on my computer, after all, need to load up the MP3 player some how.

In this regard, here is yet another streaming program that I have adopted to use. Streamzy, is a web based music application that streams songs that you select. It has an easy to use play list you design. You can search by artist or song, and set the number or results that appear.

The down side to this program is that it gives a lot of duplicates and the database isn't quite as large as some of it's counter parts. All in all it's easy to remember name and loads quickly, so its a good choice when I want some music and don't feel like digging out links.

Check it out for your self at