It's-a me! Mario! ...no, that's not quite right. but I am blogging again. To start things off, have a survey that one of my friends took that's all about getting to know me:

1. What time did you get up this morning? 8:20

2. How do you like your steak? Medium to Medium Well

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Probably Captain America, I’ve been meaning to go for a while, but haven’t gotten there yet.

4. What is your favorite TV show?  The Black List

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? I’d really like to visit Montreal, but as far as living somewhere, maybe Chicago.

6. What did you have for breakfast? Nothing yet, gotta let my Prilosec kick in, but probably coffee and a frozen ham and cheese omelet and toast.

7. What is your favorite cuisine? I’m a total omnivore, I’m even trying seafood, now that I’m an adult; my favorite though is good old American, with a Southern comfort-food bent. This question’s making my mouth water thinking about it.

8. What foods do you dislike? Calamari frightens me, I’ve never eaten it, but the mental image I have of it seems gross

9. Favorite Place to Eat? Famous Dave’s BBQ. Now I’m really hungry!

10. Favorite dressing? I forget what it’s called, but recently I had one with bits of feta cheese in it that was delicious

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? A black Saturn Ion sedan

12. What are your favorite clothes? Jeans and a long sleeve shirt worn open over a t-shirt

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Montreal

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? 1/2 Full, of coffee!

15. Where would you want to retire? Suburb of Pittsburgh

16. Favorite time of day? Morning, so much potential for the day

17. Where were you born? Boston, Massachusetts (thanks spellcheck!)  

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? In person, hockey; on tv, baseball

19. How many siblings? One younger brother.

20. Favorite pastime/hobby? Reading, board games, computer games

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? whoever

22. Bird watcher? I love watching the birds at the feeder from the kitchen window, as do my cats and niece!

23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning. 

24. Do you have any pets? Two cats

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? I just joined a gym, and it’s taken a week for my muscles to stop shouting at me when I try to move. I’m gonna go back today, though

26. What did you want to be when you were little? A mechanical engineer like my dad; he got to draw on such BIG sheets of paper!

27. What is your best childhood memory? Being onstage with my high school choir, I think that counts as childhood once you hit 30.

28. Are you a cat or dog person? Both.

29. Are you married? Nope, someday, hopefully.

30. Always wear your seat belt? Yes indeedy

31. Been in a car accident? Yeah, gave my brother a close-up view of a semi-tractor’s grille while trying to drive in front of him while he was maneuvering to park in a crossing alley

32. Any pet peeves? When someone scrapes their teeth along their fork after they put a bite into their mouth.

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? The meats, ALL THE MEATS!!!

34. Favorite Flower? lillies.

35. Favorite ice cream? Moose Tracks.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Wendy’s.

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? None, but I almost hit a cop car when I was leaving with my license.

38. From whom did you get your last email? Google Calendar reminder (to go to the gym)

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Apple.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately? nope.

41. Like your job? I’d like to have a job

42. Broccoli? tasty

43. What was your favorite vacation? Flying out to Spokane, WA.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with? I had lunch with my brother, his wife and my niece a week ago.

45. What are you listening to right now? The Rend Collective Experiment, a new-to-me Christian group, they’re pretty good

46. What is your favorite color? Light forest-green

47. How many tattoos do you have? None

49. What time did you finish this quiz? 9:45 am

50. Coffee Drinker? Yes indeedy!

Please, feel free to take this survey yourself!


Round To-its

Been sleeping odd times the last few days, but had what I consider a socially normal night's sleep between 11pm and 8am. Did my usual blog/website sweep with my coffee, then made a ham McMuffin for breakfast. Instead of my usual pattern of continued web surfing and/or streaming tv watching, I got some of my round to-its done this morning; first, I vacuumed the car out, along with wiping out the cup holders (eww!) and the little dust accumulators in the door handles (what else are those things for, anyway?).

Also started poking around with my bicycle, to identify the problem so I can get it looked at professionally. The gears don't shift like they should, and don't always stay where they're shifted to. In order to diagnose what's going on though, I had to put air into the perfectly flat tires. I looked around for the manual pump in the garage, but couldn't find it, methinks my brother's got it at his place, presently.

"No problem!", I say to myself, I'll put my bike in the car and go to the nearby gas station and fill'er up there. No problem, except I don't remember how to lower the back seats in my car. Luckily, I keep the manual in the glove box. Sure enough, there a nice little picture showing where the release levers for the seats are in the trunk. So, seats down, trunk open, I wedge my bike inside, except the trunk isn't tall enough to accept the handle bars/front wheel. I got the bike inside such that the handle bars/front fork are pressed to the edge of the opening and tie in the bike with some string and bungee down the hood, good enough for the short trip, anyway. The bike survived the trip, got air in the tires and is ready for a trip to the doctor, but don't tell it that! :)

Took my bike to the shop, it's getting a full tune-up which includes making sure the shifter cables are properly adjusted, and other related drive train issues. Probably the best bang for my buck since I haven't had a professional tuneup on my bike in probably forever, so that's nice.

Another out of doors stop was to acquire a new coffee maker, since the carafe on my current one just cracked, and the coffee maker I currently use is part of a toaster oven "breakfast machine" combo. It turns out I don't really use the toaster oven like I thought I would, so I graduated to a single function machine. He/she/it is black with chrome accents, and even has a delay timer, so once I have a regular morning schedule, I could prepare my caffeine in the evening and wake up to the excellent aroma of java in the morning.

Also went shopping for some new shirts, since I noticed several of my T's were getting ratty, and also got a few polo shirts for those casual, but not t-shirt casual, times. It seems I timed my shopping well, since the fall season stuff is arriving, and the summer lines are on sale. I even got a Steelers t-shirt that went on sale this very day!

Next, my car's due for inspection this month, and as I was cleaning the car, a few other car maintenance items that need looked at with it made themselves aware to me, nothing that affects the ability to drive, but (for example) I'd like to be able to open/close the driver's side back door window with the switch I've got up front, you know?

So, I feel good that I got up, made a real breakfast, and did some stuff that needed doing. Don't ya just love that feeling?

What's one thing on your "Round To-it" list that you can tackle today, and how did it go?


Chicken-Fried Steak

The Dish
Last night for dinner the family tried a new recipe I found in the New Doubleday Cookbook:  chicken-fried steak, which is a fried, breaded round steak,  that dad was able to cook. Additionally, we had sides of mashed potatoes and pickled beets. A little additional Google-Fu found me a McCormick mix of country gravy, which was a lovely white gravy with lots of pepper in it. The steak recipe allows for using lard, butter, or margarine for the cooking fat, so lower calorie options are available. Also, several breading options are available, with a simple egg, milk and flour batter, or you can use bread crumbs, or in my case, corn flake crumbs.

Everything turned out very well and was delicious; the recipe was straightforward to prepare, but the length of cooking time for the steaks was a bit of a surprise: after some browning in fat, the steaks cooked for about 45 more minutes. Hard for a hungry man to deal with, but the result was quite worth it. The mashed potatoes and steaks were done close to the same time, the gating element was cooking the gravy so it was properly heated but not scorched. 

Not bad for my first find from the New Doubleday Cookbook, I'll definitely keep looking for more to make from it. It makes me hungry for some fried-chicken now

My ultimate goal is to do the cooking myself, but at this point, just to be expanding our repertoire of recipes is exciting too.

Chicken-Fried Steak Recipe (adapted from the New Doubleday Cookbook 1985)

serves 2-4
  • 1 pound top or bottom round steak, pounded thin or it's pre-flattened cousin cube steak (flattening the steacks can be quite the tension-releaser!)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten w/ 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cracker meal
  • 4-5 tablespoons lard, meat drippings, butter, or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Cut steaks into squares about the size of your palm; dust with flour, dip in egg, then crumbs to coat evenly. Heat the lard in a large heavy fry-pan over medium-high heat. Brown steaks 2-3 minutes per side. Sprinkle the browned meat with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, then over low heat, continue cooking 45 minutes until tender.


I'm going to attempt to blog here, again; this time using my adventures in the kitchen as a step stone into my life in its entirety. You see, I really enjoy cooking, but don't do it very often. Hopefully, sharing my experiences in the kitchen will keep me motivated to cook, and blog as well. I'm taking a good bit of inspiration from The Pioneer Woman, both by using her recipes and the way she shares recipes and takes us into snapshots of her life in her blog. We'll see if I'll take many process photographs of my cooking process as I go along.

Directing my cooking efforts will be the many cookbooks which found their way to my family through the years, as well as recipes I find online.

Moving forward, I hope you enjoy what you find here, and hopefully I can inspire you to try something new as well.


My Favorite Fortunes 2

Actual fortunes from cookies served with recent take-out Chinese food.

"All the darkness in the world cannot put out a single candle."


My Favorite Fortunes 1

Actual fortunes from cookies served with recent take-out Chinese food.

"The time is always right to do what is right."


Create a random album meme


1 - Go to “wikipedia.” Hit “random” or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to “Random quotations” or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days” or click http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use Photoshop (or similar) to put it all together.

5 - Post it to Facebook as a note and tag the friends you want to join in

My Results:


Adventures in City 17

I've been playing Half-Life 2 lately. When the game first came out a few years ago, my computer wasn't up to the task of displaying the graphics, or even loading levels in an un-agrivating amount of time, so I only played probably the first 25% of the game. Now that I've got my brother's pc, which is a few years newer than mine was, I'm able to enjoy the full experience. Lately, though, I've been stuck where I had to defend myself in a static location from waves of bad guys for several minutes, and surviving the whole encounter wasn't going well. I found a walk-through video on YouTube, which suggested a few tweaks to my strategy, and managed to survive by using that knowledge and the technique of frequent saving so I'd have to replay less if/when I died. Luckily you can save anywhere/anytime in HL2. Getting through that, and a similar game mechanic to a really great story scene was really exciting, and in the next level I'm starting squad combat, with several human allies, not just Alex or Dog.

Even though it's been a while since the initial excitement for HL2 died down, I'm really enjoying my play experience; the same way I enjoyed playing and completing Portal, and watching old episoded of Lost online. I may not be with the crowd, but I'm enjoying myself just the same, in my own time.