Meat Loaf: It's What's For Dinner

Tonight, anyway.

As mentioned previously, I've been cooking a lot lately. I make sure to cook enough that we've got left-overs to eat the next day, be it for lunch or for dinner or for snacks. Tonight, it's meat loaf. We'll have a slab or two for supper (along with corn on the cob), with enough to spare for sandwiches tomorrow.

I used to make meat loaf a lot when I was living under my mother's roof, many moons ago. Back then, I'd take a bunch of ground beef, mix it with liberal amounts of crushed garlic, catsup, salt, pepper, an egg, and cracker crumbs (or oatmeal, if crackers weren't available), mix it up, throw it into a dish, and bake it. It would last the family several days, after which time we'd be sick and tired of it.

These days, it's a new story. I got the idea to mix sausage with the ground beef a couple of weeks ago. Some mild Italian sausage was the first experiment, three links (skinned and crumbled) to two pounds of ground beef, with some Worcestershire sauce and pepper for added flavor. It came out great.

The next week, I made an extra large batch, but used uncooked bratwurst instead of Italian sausage. It was quite tasty. Tonight, I'm cooking a small batch using hot Italian sausage. I'd like to try it with some breakfast sausage, too, specifically that terribly tasty Jimmy Dean stuff.

I know, it's probably horribly bad for us, but we're poor! We gotta eat what we gotta eat!

In case you were wondering about the new job, it's going well. I'm at the start of my second week, and will get my first (itsy bitsy) paycheck this Friday. Thank all the gods for that, too! It's been tight around here. I'd like the option of going out for dinner at least once before February ends.

Oh, and then there's Stephen. He's a crack-up. We had dinner at my mom's place last night, and he was really well-behaved. He's especially fond of corn bread, it seems. Here, we have a recent photo of the sprout taking a bath. Note the devil horns sprouting from his head, indicating his true nature. He only wants us to think he's sweet, cute, and loving. When the real Stephen comes out, though, be careful!


Two Days Down

I've made it through my second day at the new job. I'm feeling a little more upbeat about things.

Not much else to report today. I'm making chicken curry over rice for supper tonight. I was going to make a pot roast, but I've decided to throw that into the slow cooker in the morning, which means we'll eat it for dinner tomorrow. Thursday will be pot roast leftover day, and Friday will be oven roasted chicken day.

There's something to be said for the economy of eating in most of the time. As much as I'd like to go out and plop down $30-40 for a dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant, that's going to need to wait until my first couple of paychecks clear.


First Day on the Job

Needless to say, I survived.

It's a purchasing position, so anyone with any kind of experience in that field is going to know what I have to look forward to. Buying stuff, plain and simple. Lots of support activities, like filing and faxing and MRP, too. Oh, and let's not forget basic trouble-shooting, like when the receiving department calls and complains that a package doesn't have a purchase order number, or they don't know who to deliver it to.

The software that is used seems pretty straightforward. Granted, I've only done a few orders, and they were pretty simple ones at that.

Much of my time today was spent being trained by my leadperson. She's patient, has a funny sense of humor, and I think we'll get along pretty well. Training was interrupted by IT-related issues...password issues, server issues, new guy issues. We ironed it out, though.

HR gave me a large amount of paperwork to complete. Joy! So I spent a good bit of time prior to making this post signing my name and filling out stuff.

My feelings about the day are mostly positive. I'm still a little nervous, with a little bit of the old "impending doom" feeling that I always get when I switch jobs. It's the question of the unknown: what will happen? What will I have to do? Will I be able to do it? And, most importantly, will I like what I'm doing?

These questions and more shall be answered in time. For the most part, I think the universal answer will be "yes." After all (and even though I never admit it out loud), I'm smart, experienced, and I have financial responsibilities that must be met. The third reason alone is enough to make me crave strong alcoholic drink and seclusion from humanity.

Just kidding.

So there's your report on the day. Now, let's see if I can manage to survive the week.


My Long Weekend Is Over

Tomorrow, I start my new job.

It's amazing how fast a week can pass. Sure, it was less than a week -- six days, to be exact -- and it's probably the only vacation I'll have for at least a year, when my paid vacation days kick in. But it flew by in a flash.

In retrospect, it seems like such a long time ago since I was working at the tooth factory.

Starting over again. I'm all about new things, and new opportunities. Still, starting all over again in a new company is going to be tough. Learning new systems, meeting new people, adjusting to new bosses/supervisors/managers.

Am I nervous? Yeah, but I'm hopeful, too. I'll be sure to post and let the world know how it went, and how I'm feeling about it tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

Me & My Boy

I love these pictures, even though one of them is a bit blurry.

Yesterday, I had a hankering for tortilla soup. So I looked up a recipe online (thanks to Food Network), changed it to suit my own tastes, and made a big old batch. I've never made homemade soup before, and it turned out really well.

Soup: it's good, it's cheap to make, and it lasts a couple of days. In other words, economical. The recipe I used is as follows:

Gary's Tortilla Soup

Diced vegetables (1 large yellow onion, 1 green bell pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded), and 2 small tomatoes).
1 small can of roasted green chiles.
2 tablespoons olive oil.
4 cups chicken broth.
2 cloves finely chopped garlic.
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.
2 large chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded.
8-10 white corn tortillas, cut into strips.
Chopped cilantro leaves, as needed.
The juice of one lime.
Salt, as needed.

Begin with a large pot. Saute the vegetables and chile briefly in about 2 tablespoons of oilve oil over medium-high heat, until limp. When the vegetables are limp, add the broth, garlic, and cumin, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add chicken, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Next, take the tortilla strips and stir them into the soup. They're going to disintegrate, but this makes for good tortilla flavor as well as acting as a thickener. Last of all, stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

I served it with shredded cheddar cheese. I took some of the tortilla strips and fried them until crispy, and then sprinkled them lightly with taco seasoning. They make a good garnish, along with the cheese.


Just Call Me Mr. Mom

Although I did avoid a very poopy diaper this morning (Stephen's mom was good enough to clean that mess up before she left for work), I have done my fair share of them over the past few days. My wife calls it "baby boot camp," though I reckon it's not quite that bad.

Stephen requires near-constant attention. He's got a good attention span, so he can get busy doing his own thing, but before long he'll come back looking for me. "Hey pops," he says. "I'm gonna hang all over you and make strange sounds as I eat this here bath toy."

His english isn't quite that good, but you get the idea. See the photo to the left.

Right this second, he's fighting sleep. He gets this "nap look," which I can only equate to a "thousand yard stare" of sorts. It generally involves a great deal of staggering around, rubbing the eyes, and fussing over minor setbacks. When I see two of those symptoms present simultaneously, I take the hint and put him down for a nap.

So, some pictures. This is a cute one at right, taken at a recent trip to the San Diego Zoo. Thank God for those annual passes we picked up, because they've paid for themselves and then some. He's not really into the animals, though he does enjoy staring at some of the bigger ones. Stephen is more of a people-watcher. I guess a trip to the store is just as much fun to him as a trip to the Zoo.

We took a ride on the sky cars. Unfortunately, the camera batteries died before we did so, so there's no photos of the boy on his aerial journey, but all indications were that he really enjoyed it. He's not a big fan of the wind blowing in his face, but he does like seeing new things. By the time we were halfway through the ride, he was clinging to the handrail and staring out at the horizon like Christopher Colombus.

Ahh...asleep at last. He'll probably sleep for an hour or so. I guess I'll try to get some rest, too. This is my last weekday as an unemployed bum, so I may as well enjoy it.

More later.


Stephen in the New Year

Look, mom! No hands!

Yes, the child can stand with no visible means of support. In fact, he took his first tottering step this morning, just after this picture was taken. One of the things that I enjoy most about Stephen is watching him grow, learn, and develop as a human being. He's simply amazing in so many ways, and it isn't easy to describe exactly how. It's not just in one way, it's in all ways.

The news of the month is that I'm leaving my current position and moving on to another one at a different company. My last day at the tooth factory is this Monday, after which I've got about a week off before I'm required to report for duty at my new place of employment. It's somewhat sad, because I'm leaving a lot of really great people behind. I've been with the company over two years, and I've gotten to know a lot of folks. It seems as if they will miss me, and I know that I'm going to miss many of them in return.

The good news is that my new position is a step (or two) up from the one I currently occupy. I'm going from a "purchasing clerk" position to a "materials buyer" position. The offer was too good to pass up, so I'm jumping at the opportunity to better my economic situation. It's not all about money, but the money does have something to do with my decision. Wish me luck.

As far as other current events: our good friends, Frank and Lisa, had a baby on January 11th. Amanda Renee (seen here) was 4 lbs, 9 oz at birth. Seeing as she was about five weeks early, this is little surprise. She's a fighter, though, and is doing very well. We dropped in for a visit this morning, which is when this photo was taken.

We drove up to visit Lisa and Frank this morning, via the local gas station. It looks like gas prices have pushed up a tad since Christmas. I must've missed it, because I remember them being about twenty or thirty cents lower a couple of weeks ago. The prices disgust me. Soon enough, it's going to get to the point where $3 a gallon is considered normal in SoCal. Ugh.

On a completely scatological note...

...we drove to our FLGS ("Game Empire") to pick up an item I'd ordered a week or two ago. Every time we drive to Game Empire, we pass this building with a sign that proclaims, "Hemorrhoid Care Clinic by Laser," with a web address of www.hemorrhoid.net. My wife commented, "The scary thing is, that means that 'www.hemorrhoid.com' was already taken."

I couldn't help but snap a photo for posterity. May God have mercy on my soul.