Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kickstarting a New Way for Me to Cook

I have kickstarted.... kickstartered....used kickstarter several times in the past, usually for little fun things like a game, or something bigger and more personal like helping a friend get a album recorded.  A while back I was looking and Anova was crowd funding... looking for seed money to make their home sous vide machines better.  So I thought "what the heck" and I joined in the madness as I thought this would be cool to see a more affordable home version.  Little did I know that the rest of the world wanted to see this as well as $1,811,321.00 of a $100,000.00 goal was pledged.

For those of you that don't what "sous vide" cooking is, it is placing an airtight bag containing your food you wish to cook into a container of temperature controlled circulation water.  You want a mid-rare steak? set the temperature to 129 degrees and place your bags of meat in the water bath for 45 minutes up to as many hours as you like(at some point the meat will begin to break down) but the beauty is you can't overcook the meat you are preparing it in the a way that it never gets above what temperature you are shooting for.  The second biggest part is that it cooks the meat evenly. instead of more done to the out side and rarer until the middle temps reach what you like, the food is even all the way through. Last clean up is a breeze, throw away the bag you used to cook and clean a pot and the cooker itself.

So, with that, here is my first adventure into a new way of home cooking:

One button cooking

 The simplicity of their design allows this cooker to attach to just about any sized cooking vessel.  I just went with a larger stock pot.  Scrolled the wheel to 56.5C (it wasn't until later that I talked to a friend on how to change the display to F, I seem to have misplaced my instruction book).  Picking a temp is as easy as using a mouse wheel and pushing a start button >....a nice beep sound indicates that it is active.  Quiet running, nothing more than a little hum and a bubbling brook sound.  To bring the water up to temp really did not seem to take too long.  I think I only had a couple of minutes left after preparing the meat in airtight bags.

new vacuum sealer
There really isn't a need to have a vacuum sealer, as there is a technique of using a zip lock baggie.  What you do is place you food in the baggie and seal it 90% of the way, and as you slowly lower it into the water you let the air work its way out of the bag.  Just before the top reaches the water level you seal the baggie the rest of the way.  This method is particularly helpful if you want to sous vide somethign like hamburgers.  The reason this sealing method is so effective for burgers is that the vacuum pump could smash the burger completely flat, where this way it just forms the baggie around the meat holding its shape. I know what you are thinking, "my grill does a great job."  and I am sure it does.  But there is something nice knowing that you are cooking the exact perfect temperature and all that remains is to sear off the product once it is cooked.

sealed and ready for a warm bath
But for me being a new toy kind of guy I ventured up to Khol's and wanted a home sealer.  I ended up spending a little more than I wanted but this one seals not only bags that you can cut to size, but pre-sized bags, wet-zip locking vacuum bags as well as sealing vacuum containers.  I am going to just seal so much stuff...  On a side note the Kohl's up the street from us is a two story monstrosity, it is truly unnecessarily  large, but they had what I wanted so bonus. 

The sealer is super easy to use...cut the bag to 4 inches more that you need.  Poke the "sealer" button and insert the bag.  Once the red light goes off the bottom of the bag is sealed.  now insert your food and without poking a button insert the open end.  This begins the vacuum process. Once the pump is done wait again for the light to turn off and there you have it. an airtight sealed bag ready for cooking. 

after searing off on the grill
This model is a wet/dry sealer, which is part of the reason it cost a little more.  It has a nice wet catch tray on the bottom of the sealer and won't suck until all the liquid is out, which again is a bonus.  We went for a per-marinated soy ginger steak from whole foods.  Both were really nice looking cuts. As they usually are there.

 Once you are happy that your meat has reached the desired temperature, if you so choose, you can sear it off to give is a little better color and make it presentable.  I used my grill, but you can certainly pan sear it if you so choose.  Other than making it look nice, and giving it a little bit a bark, this last step is certainly not required.  But I think the results speak for themselves!  I guess if you have any questions, or requests on items to try leave them in the comments below.
Can't ask for much better than that!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Vinyl Me, Please

Mike asked for the list of "52 must have" albums on vinyl as compiled from Vinyl Me, Please.
A grouping compiled from a lot of different sources that aggregated to the list below. So here they in alphabetic order, RED AND BOLD = NEED  while BLACK AND STRUCKTHROUGH = HAVE. So that is 15 of the 52 possessed, and for those of you not math inclined that leaves 37 left to procure. and that is part of the fun, trying to find some as you can't just get them all on Amazon.com.  And I will say it again, if anyone sees Beck's - Sea Change on vinyl and it isn't crazy expensive, pick it up and I will pay you back for it :)

52 - Must Haves (not my list, just taken and used from vinyl me, please) 
1  Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion  
2  Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique
3  The Beatles – Revolver
4  Beck – Sea Change
5  Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
6  The Black Keys – Thickfreakness
7  Blur-Think Tank
8  Boards of Canada – Music Has the Right to the Children
9  Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
10 Bon Iver – Bon Iver
11 Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
12 Darkside – Psychic
13 David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
14 Dire Straits – Love Over Gold
15 DJ Shadow – …Entroducing
16 The Felice Brothers – The Felice Brothers
17 The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
18 Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
19 Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
20 Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
21 Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
22 John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
23 Joni Mitchell – Blue
24 Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
25 Kid Koala – 12 bit Blues
26 Led Zeppelin – II
27 Madvillain – Madvillainy
28 Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
29 Michael Jackson – Thriller
30 Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
31 My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
32 Neil Young – Harvest
33 Neutral Milk Hotel – In an Aeroplane Over the Sea
34 Panda Bear – Tomboy
35 Paul Simon – Graceland
36 Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted
37 Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of the Moon
38 Portishead – Third
39 R.L. Burnside – Too Bad Jim
40 Radiohead-KidA
41 Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come
42 The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street
43 Sigur Rós – Agaetis Byrjun
44 Slint – Spiderland
45 Steely Dan – Aja
46 The Strokes – Is This It?
47 Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
48 Van Morrison – Moondance
49 The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
50 The White Stripes – Elephant
51 Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
52 Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Unqualified Advice #3

If you’re the best there is at your job but you’re being forced to interview for the job you already do, do you shave your beard and cut your hair, or do you say “Screw it. I’m the best. They can take me or leave me regardless of my hippie hair and Grizzly Adams beard,”? –Dani

Have you looked at me? I should get “Screw it. I’m the best.” tattooed on my chest As I kind of look like a better version of Juice Newton.  I am a big fan of rewarding what works and what doesn’t. Let your actions speak for you.  My advice, let your freak flag fly, and save the new look for a new employer. Unless you love what you are doing, then CONFORM! everyone is doing it.

Two questions: Will the Vikings ever win a Super Bowl? What's worse. Being a Vikings fan or an ISU football fan? –Thad
Ever, like ever ever? Or my life time ever?  Doesn’t matter since they are my team the answer is “no”. But I will still go to games, and I will still buy the jerseys. Which feeds nicely into my next answer… The Vikings seem to just break my heart, where as the clones surprise me once in a while. You have to go to bars before Vikings Games, there is glorious tailgating and ours is a stone’s throw from the front gate at Jack Trice. Weighing everything carefully, being a fan of the Cubs is the worst. Now that I say that, maybe being a fan of the school that gets beat by the terrible in state rival is worse....but what do I know?  My advice is to cheer for a front runner like Alabama in football.

If a tiger eats a vegetarian then throws up, does it still have to count it a daily caloric intake for Wright Watchers?  -Eric
Yes, and then no.  Bu the really good news is that at no point will the tiger need to claim any carbs or gluten.  My Advice, the tiger should eat more and smaller meals, this will help to cut down on the regurgitation.

 Have you watched the Nightly Show? If yes, what do you think? –Dani

Yes.  If I say "not a fan" does that make me a racist?  Because I am not  a fan, the lines are poorly delivered. The jokes are already stale. And the premise is better on Maher’s show. My advice, Watch the daily show and then go to be 30 minutes earlier than normal, your body and mind will thank me.

Where has been your favorite place to travel/vacation to? – Matt

Let's Go. Right now!
Our favorite place to visit, GREAT staff and some of the best resort food we have had
Very similar to the Valentin, only this one was just named to a top 10 list and has made it VERY expensive, Secrets Silversands is a more affordable option in the same family or resorts.
 What is not to love?!?! you could live there your whole life and not see everything.
 Great ski community that we would love to visit in the summer to see what different seasons look like.
quick get aways:
Football, Baseball, Basketball, food, malls, art....
 Food, art, zoo, shopping
Football, Baseball, food, malls, art....
Football, Baseball, Basketball, food, malls, art....
On the list to try still:
 it looks cool
I like wine

How evil is PopMarket? And how glad am I that I didn't know it existed in college (because then I would be super-poor). – Mike
First, my advice get a second job. I need to now.  And how evil? This evil(help me):
Genesis - Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot and Selling England By the Pound

Joni Mitchell - Blue and Ladies of the Canyon

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy

Megadeth - Countdown to Extinction

Megadeth -Youthanasia

Megadeth - So Far, So Good... So What!

Megadeth - Rust In Peace

Megadeth - Peace Sells...but Who's Buying?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hipster, Total Hipster pt. 4

The vinyl me, please web site has a listing of their 52 "must haves" and as I read through the list is it a pretty great one.  So I am on a quest to track them down.  New or original doesn't matter to me so much, but what I am finding is some aren't so easy (or cheap) to actually procure. but this is what I do, check amazon, eBay, the interwebs... I need to find a couple of good vinyl spots down here in Dallas, that is next on my list to do.  I do know the next time I am in Minneapolis my buddy Justin has offered to take me to the best record haunts up there, so that is exciting!  On a side note, if anyone happens to run into a copy of Beck's – Sea Change and it isn't hundreds of dollars and is in good shape, pick it up and I will buy it from you!

My latest purchase is Beirut - The Flying Club Cup It was not available on Amazon Prime, sold out, temporarily unavailable), there are a couple other options listed at $300.00 + shipping.  So I found this one on eBay from the pacific northwest.  I haven't opened it yet.  But I do love love love the sound, and I am a pretty disagreeable guy, but this makes me happy, oh so happy.

 The words, as taken from the album back:

Cliquot! Your name still haunts our conversations, we haven’t forgotten you our friend and constant companion, hunter of the elusive Spanish fox (his tail curls counter clockwise), holy fool, pickpocket, born in the blue shade of a Lebanese cedar, his mother wrapped his moist head in Turkish silks like a whirling dervish and christened him Cliquot, bastard son of Jean Luc, a retired legionnaire with black teeth. Cliquot! I have seen you beat a man in the dark alleys of Pigalle and then come weeping into my room to sink your soft blonde head into the depths of my lap, moaning “I have no home, no country, no mother”, and so I held your bruised fist in my palm and counted every crooked line and wrinkle and told you the story of Napoleon and how he fell to sleep every night by intoning (in his hoarse battle-weary voice) the name of every country he had yet to conquer.

On cold nights Cliquot would wanter the Marais in a purple bishop’s robe and mandarin slippers with tiny bells ringing around both ankles. Little Napoleon, in Pere Lachaise, you told me how they once buried men with bells they might ring in case they woke because death is never real it is
The balloon is ready, I’ve tethered it to the balcony with a knot no sailor could invent. Ignore the gathering crowds below. Plebeians! Maybe if we look closely we will find our mothers waving handkerchiefs, and our fathers scowling. If we see any children we’ll throw them candy but don’t tell them why we are up here, floating above Belleville in a hot air balloon. If they knew, they’d never want to sleep in their own beds ever again.

Remember how we met? Barefoot on the beach (the hem of your dress starched white with salt). I was flying a beautiful kite. Yours was ragged and obviously self made. After a few failed attempts at flight you threw your kite on the sand and stomped on it. I wondered if it was your first kite. Kite making, you assured me, was not your specialty. But we are too old for kites. Let us toast the Flying Club Cup, our health, a quick painless death and helium.

I’m going to sleep so well tonight.

Breathe in, deeply now, okay do you feel it?
Don’t worry, we’re finally here.

Congratulations to Mike, Cathy and Dani for entering to win!, I will be contacting you in the not too distant future with details.

There is still time to ask questions in the post below as well!
Song of the day? enjoy the full album:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Question time #3

Wednesday, and that doesn't mean hump day, that means it is question day.  That's right, enter your question in the comment section below for Unqualified Advice answers this Friday.  I know what you are thinking... what is he unqualified to give answers on?  You have a question on rocket building, I have advice for you.  You have questions on distribution practices, I have unqualified advice for you.  You have questions on how to raise your children, having none myself allows me a unique and correct way to give unqualified advice.  Don't even get me started on the subjects of power-lifting or interpretative dance, I am super unqualified to help you with my advice on that. You will probably find the advice life affirming if not life changing.

music for the day:
"Dazed and Confused" Led Zeppelin

hurry before time runs out.... 11PM tonight.....1-28....it ends.....

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


In an effort to spread some cheer and some shameless self promotion  I am having a giveaway from Texas.

So, in the spirit of woot.com and their random bags of crap they give away I am having a giveaway, but I am not promoting it on any other social media sites, so if you have stumbled on to this congratulations(maybe).


  1. if not already. you will become a follower of this blog. This may not be possible via the mobile side, so you may need to either get on a computer or browse with "view web version" at the bottom
  2. you will leave a comment in the comment section with your name the number of comment you placed.  First comment will have a 1, second will have a 2 , third comment will leave a 3 and so on up to 10 PS if any of you assholes put "your name" and not your God given on you birth certificate name, you will be disqualified! It can just be your first or last so I can match it to the third rule below
  3. you will then email me at CamChristensen@gmail.com with the subject "GIVEAWAY" and you name in the body of the email (this is how I will contact you for your address)PS if any of you assholes put "your name" and not your God given on you birth certificate name, you will be disqualified!
  4. first ten (10) people to do this will be the "winners" 
  5. this giveaway ends Wednesday night January 28, 2015 at 11PM central time
  6. only one winner per household
  7. you will send either photos or a youtube video back to me of you opening your "prizes"
  8. you, and not just your likeness, will then be the subject of a post in the future


I. You will expect nothing beyond ONE package with really bad items.

II. You will not bitch or moan when some people’s stuff ends up better than yours.

III. You should take a minute as see if it might be better off just not asking for this.

IV. You will not bitch or moan if for some reason 10 people beat you to the comment section (this is doubtful, very doubtful to happen).

V. You will not bitch or moan if it takes a long time for your "prizes" you won to show up at your house.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Things I Like

Things I like, this time will cover nice knives...They are one of those splurge items that until you have cut with a nice blade you do not know what you are missing.  Jamie's Aunt and Uncle, Cathy and Wayne,  many years ago got us a Wüsthof starter knife set with everything you could ever want. Since them we have added several more items into the every growing knife block.  Which leads me to
the point of this post and sharpening...we have always had the classic stick style honing steel, and while it did a fair job (all honesty could be user error) the blades were never all that great after a couple of uses.  This year for Christmas, from Jamie's sister(my sister-in-law) and her sister's husband(out brother-in-law) , Kerry and Tom (for those that don't know them), I received the Wüsthof handheld four stage sharpener.  2 stages for steel blade and 2 for Japanese blades.  Now all it take is two pulls through the course slot, and 2 through the fine and the knife is as good-as-new sharp.  It has made using them a real joy again.  Thanks to all of you!  So if you think your knives just aren't as good as they used to be, a better system for sharpening may be all that you are lacking.

Thinking of something fun for tomorrow, so you will have to check beck and see.

Today's some of the day:
"Opportunities" The Pet Shop Boys