Manuka's Place

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas


Well after about 30 min on the phone with Home Depot they finally found a tracking number (after they said they didn't have one) for my tree and they told me it would be arriving today and that I do not have to stay and home and wait for it. So as I came home today there was a box on the back steps with my tree in it. So all is now well with the world. You can all go about your business and stop worrying about me. Home Depot...you are off the list.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Curses to you Home Depot!


I thought I was being so cool about 10 days ago when I ordered my Christmas tree from HomeDepot.com. They said it would be here in 5-7 days. That being said it is still not here. I was hoping it would arrive last week when people would be around to sign for it but of course now that no one will be home during the days all week who knows when I will see my tree. By the time I see it, it may just be firewood. So much for that idea. I hope they will just leave it. I tired to call the customer service line but of course they work on east coast hours and by the time I called they were closed. So I stayed home all day waiting for nothing. At least I spent most of the day in my PJs. I hope to have some time in the morning to give them a jingle and a piece of my mind. Be warned this may not be a very merry Christmas if you order your tree online. Just when you thought the internet was making our lives easier. ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Time with family!


Well turkey day has come and gone and we had a great time yesterday here at our house. There were a total of 16 people (including three short ones). The brined turkey came out great as always and only took about 2 hours to cook. That sure makes cooking a lot easier. I had a lot of help in the kitchen this year. I was only responsible for the turkey and the creamed spinach. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law along with my wife did all the rest. For the first time in years no one sacked out on the couch right after eating. We had a bit of a rivalry with Sandy rooting for the Broncos and Joel rooting for the Cowboys. In the end Sandy was much happier although it went to overtime. Dawn and Joel are heading back to Napa today. It is about a 7 to 8 hour drive. It was great to spend some time with them. We had fun at Disneyland on Wednesday. One of Matthews favorite rides was the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster (see picture, Matthew is the one behind the lazer gun). Matthew was a real trooper and lasted until the fireworks at 9:30. He promptly fell asleep in the car on the way home. He loved it. It was good to have both my brother and sister here for Thanksgiving. It is not often we are all together.

On the adoption front: We received our provisional license number last week so that is one major obstacle we have hurdled. We got our fingerprints done on Wednesday and now we are moving right along. We now need to start parenting classes which begin in January. They will last for six weeks. During that time we will have our home study done. So if all goes well (and remember we are working with the government so don't get your hopes up) we should be ready for placement sometime in late February or March. We still have a lot to do around the house. We have to be ready for any age of children so we are collecting linens and hygiene items for children. A member of our church gave us a crib and Dawn is going to send us some crib sheets and other things to go with it. We still have to buy some toiletries and more towels, and sheets and pillows and the list goes on..... We also have to do some kid/baby proofing of the house. We need some more furniture too so if you have any that you are not using, let me know. That's all for now. Have a great weekend.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pavo Bob!!



Well here it is...what you have all been waiting for. First of all lets get one thing straight. I love to cook and I love football and watching SportsCenter and drinking beer so don't get any funny ideas about this post. Second I like to watch the food network quite often. One of my favorite shows is called "Good Eats" hosted by Alton Brown. The reason I like Alton so much is that he uses science to tell you why things work they way they do and me being sort of a science geek get all giggly when he tells us why a brine works and all about osmosis and diffusion etc. So a few years ago I was watching and I saw his Thanksgiving special. He had me at hello when he said something to the effect of' "Don't you hate dry bland turkey on Thanksgiving?" Well gave out an audible "Yes" and settled in for 22 minutes of magic. Needless to say I had to try his brining method for a turkey. What is a brine you ask? Patience my paduan...first let me introduce you to my wife. Jill is...how do you say...headstrong. She knows what she likes and is not afraid to speak her mind. I am glad that she likes me. So one year as Thanksgiving was approaching she dropped the bomb on me. She asked if we could not have turkey for Thanksgiving. What?!? No turkey?!? Are you an American? What about all that Pilgrim and Indian stuff? I was quite taken aback, but once Jill gets something in her head it will happen...and don't you forget it. Well I just couldn't imagine having cold hotdogs and sweet pickles with a cheese chaser(one of my wife's favorite meals) for one of the best holidays in the year (next to my birthday, mark you calendars, May 2nd, I have a wish list at Amazon). So I told her I was going to try something new this year with the turkey and if she didn't like it we could go for ham or at least add ham for next year. So I took Altons advice and went to Lowes and picked up a 5 gal. bucket and went to the store to get all the fixins for the brine. Most of my family was very skeptical but I knew I had science on my side. So there I was on Wednesday afternoon cookin' up the brine. It is a long process and I was wondering if it would be worth it. I followed the directions from my pal Alton and darned if it wasn't the best tasting, moistest (is that a word?) savory turkey in the world. I am hooked and so is my family. They all loved it...so much so we had turkey again that Christmas. This will be year three with the brine and I will never go back. Now I would like to deep fry a turkey some day but those big fryers scare me too much, to many bad encounters with the fryer at Wienerschnitzel (now that is another post all together). So here is the recipe from www.food.com:

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water
For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil


Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.
A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.
Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.
Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.


If you have the time for this try it and you won't be disappointed.

Don't get the title of this post? Well pavo is turkey in Spanish (and Latin but that doesn't matter now), and it just so happens that I live on Pavo St. in Long Beach. And to top it off one year, many moons ago my dad made a hand-puppet out of our Thanksgiving turkey before it was cooked and made it fly around the kitchen. He called it Pavo Bob and that has been the name of our "meal" ever since. So there you have it a glimpse into my world. Have a great Turkey day everyone and if you need a good creamed spinach recipe I got one for ya. Until then. Adios.......

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A stroll down memory lane...

So I bought a new computer today. I got the new apple iMac 20 in G5. Now before all you PC apologists start in let me explain. I first saw a Mac in operation in 1985 at a youth function at St. John's Lutheran Church in Orange. I was amazed. This little thing was awesome and I was hooked. Now I started my computing life on a Commodore CBM that had a whopping 8K of memory with a tape drive. That was back in the early 80's. If you are younger than 30 you have no idea what I am talking about. Here is a picture:


I eventually graduated to the Commodore 64. Now I wanted the Commodore 128 but my dad said, and I quote, "Nobody will ever need more than 64K of memory." How wrong he was. That computer was not much more than a game system (think Atari 2600).

And then when I was in high school I learned how to program with the Apple II. This was my first introduction to Apple.

And in 1988 I really started working with the Mac. This was back in the day when DOS was king and my visual brain just couldn't understand all that colon...backslash...whatever stuff. So the Mac was my friend. I have been using them ever since. I have owned a classic (see picture) an LC, LCII, Performa, Powermac, and a few others.

Way back in 2000 (ancient times in the computer world) I got an iBook (think Mac laptop). It was the first version and looked like a clamshell. It was pretty cool and I still use it as a word processor and a place to store my pictures. But I love the Mac. Now I do spend quite a bit of time with PCs too. I have one in my office and I am quite comfortable working within that environment even though Bill gates ripped if off from Apple who ripped it off from Xerox...but I digress.

So I can't wait to set it all up get my iTunes going and surfing the net at home once again. We have not have internet at home for a few years because my old iBook could not handle DSL. Well here is a picture of what my computer looks like:

My next post may be coming to you from my new baby. I feel like its Christmas in November. Feel free to post your own computer memories. I would love to hear them. Talk to you soon.

Next post: Thanksgiving recipes.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Kickball League!!!


Ahhh the beautiful sport of kickball!! I have fond memories of this most wonderful of recess activities. Now some of my memories are not that great. I was usually the last one picked on a team and I had my share of the ole swing-and-a-miss-and-fall-on-your-butt moments. Kickball was king for me. There were some other competitors out there...dodgeball, teatherball, four-square, handball and the blacksheep...... butts-up. But my heart was taken by kickball. You knew it was your day when Peter Geisler was on your team. He was the biggest kid in 2nd grade. He was the best athlete, had all the girls etc. You know the type. Handsome, strong, always had a twinkie in his lunch and generally envied by all. Then there was me: the hand-me-down wearin', long hair havin', carrots in the lunch bringin', preachers kid. I think thats about four strikes. But I loved kickball. Fast forward to 2005. I just found one of the most amazing organizations in the world. It is the World Adult Kickball Association. I am not kidding. They organize kickball leagues all across the Untied States and the world. They even have a world championship every year. They call themselves a social-athletic organization. This is from their website:

WAKA is the World Adult Kickball Association - a social-athletic organization created to advance the joy of kickball around the world. WAKA's mission statement says it all - To provide a unique club with an inclusive co-ed social culture and establish the WAKA Kickball experience as the New American Pastime!

How awesome is that!!! Well needless to say I would like to start a team at church and join a league. I hope for next spring or fall. I am not sure which is more important the social or the athletic. Each league goes out to a bar after the games to knock a few back. This sounds like my kind of organization. Let me know if you want to be on our team. I will need at least four guys and four gals to make a team. We can have up to 26. ARE YOU WITH ME!!!!!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I love the Government (Yeah right!!)

Well here is the Greek update...I am alive!!! It's not really that bad. I think I have a pretty good grasp of the Greek verb, for now. I have learned my lesson...as soon as I think I got it, BAM! something changes and throws the world out of wack. But for now the planets are still spinning and I have my feet firmly planted on the ground. The next few weeks will be interesting as we continue with participles. At least I understand that in English.

In other news...We finally heard back from Social Services regarding our application for adoption. Well as all good government agencies, we were told one thing and we were required to do another. So our application was sent back to us for revisions. We found out that they need proof of residence as well as certification for CPR and First Aid. No big deal, but we were never told that they were necessary. So they sent the forms back to us (at taxpayers expense) certified and registered mail. Now I have to gather a few more things and then I have to send it back to them, at my expense. And we will wait two or three weeks for a reply. Until we get this done we cannot proceed any further. We can not get fingerprinted or sign up for parenting classes. You got to love how the government does business. I wish I could fire them all and start over!!!! (Deep breaths Seth... Count to three... O.K. I feel better). So the saga continues. I guess the children God has in mind for us are not ready yet.

My ankle is much better and I will not have to see the doctor again unless it still is giving me problems in six months. That is good news for sure. I have three more weeks of physical therapy to go and it is going well. I can definitely tell that it is helping. It still is not very fun and I have a tough time getting up to go but thems the breaks. Well thats about it. Have a great week everyone.

Oh.. I just had an idea!! Thanksgiving is almost here and I am always looking for some good recipes. So get your best ones together and lets share. Coming soon... the Thanksgiving post: Its BRINE TIME Baby!!!