New tankmates

Recently I added a couple small bristlenose pleco’s to the aquarium.  They are small right now, not quite 2″ in length.  Their maximum size is around 6″, which works nicely – I definitely didn’t want a common pleco, which can grow over a foot long!
They are very good at staying hidden, but this evening for the first time I saw both of them out for a little while at the same time 🙂

pleco-1
pleco-2

The current residents of the aquarium:

  • 4 Denison barbs (or indian flasher barbs)
  • 6 Siamese algae eaters
  • 2 Bristlenose plecostomus
  • 2 Salt and Pepper corydoras
  • 6 Red Phantom tetras
  • 6 Black neon tetras
  • 6 Neon tetras
  • 8 Head and Tail Light tetras

I also added a digital thermometer – much easier to read than the little plastic strip I had stuck on the front glass!

Roasted Potato Samosa Pockets

Roasted Potato Samosa Pockets
Recipe Type: Vegan
Author: Ray
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 bag little potatoes – halved or quartered as necessary
  • 1 can chick peas – rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste concentrate
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large bag cleaned baby spinach leaves
  • 4 pitas – cut in half
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Using a mortar & pestle, grind the garlic and garam masala into a paste.
  3. Mix the paste, olive oil, chick peas and potatoes thoroughly and spread out onto a baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 15 minutes, turn the potatoes and give the chick peas a good shake, then cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. While the potatoes & chick peas are in the oven, mix the mayo, yogurt, parsley, cilantro, tomato paste, and lemon juice.
  6. Heat large sauce pan over medium heat, add remaining tbsp. of olive oil, and curry paste.
  7. When the curry paste becomes fragrant, add mayo/yogurt mixture, and add the potato chick pea mixture from the oven (and turn the heat off).
  8. Toss the mixture and place into serving dish.
  9. place pita halves into microwave to warm them up.
  10. Fill the pita halves with spinach leaves and a few large spoonfuls of the potato/chick pea mixture, and enjoy!

This was a delicious and easy recipe

Progress on the tables

Have been negligent in posting updates on the side tables and coffee tables that Keith and I have been working on – Keith has been doing the lions share of the work – and I’ve been helping after I finish work when I can, and on the weekends.
I was experimenting with a staining technique that I saw on a recent episode of ‘Ellen’s Design Challenge’.  A solution of iron acetate is brushed onto the wood, and it reacts with the tannins in oak, darkening the wood as the solution dries.  The effect is quite dramatic!
IMG_0397
These pieces of wood have been brushed with the solution.  The shinier surface the oak is sitting on is my cedar desk, which was brushed with Minwax Ebony stain, and then a coat of semi-gloss varathane.
The solution is easily made simply by ripping up a couple pieces of clean 0000 steel wool and placing the pieces into a glass jar (I used a 1 litre mason jar).  Fill the jar with household white vinegar.  Fold a plastic straw in half and use the ends to push the steel wool down, so it’s completely submerged in vinegar.  Seal the jar, and punch a few holes in the lid – this is important – otherwise you could end up with an explosion of glass & vinegar solution!

IMG_0386Here’s a side table all assembled, and waiting for stain.

IMG_0422
Here are all three tables, stained and getting the first coat of a satin polyurethane.  I’m second guessing myself as to the finish – I may end up adding a final coat of semi-gloss – but we’ll see how the satin finish looks once we get the tables set up in our living room!

A new Jeep!

Well, it has been a while since I’ve done some wheeling, and since we bought my wife’s Mitsubishi RVR, I think I’ve been jealous of the technology in the newest vehicles.
When we were initially looking at different vehicles for her, we had stopped in at one dealership to look at the Fiat 500x.  The dealership also had Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk in the showroom that we were looking over.  A number of months later, I returned to that dealership to have another look, and a few days later, we now have one in our driveway 🙂 .
trailhawk

Birthday Lasagna :)

Taylor wanted lasagna for her birthday dinner (21!) – and this one was probably the largest one I’ve ever made. Had to use a large roasting pan.  I looked at a few different recipes, and kind of did a combination of a few of them.

Lasagna 🙂
Recipe Type: main course
Author: Ray
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 16
Baked this Friday evening, and will reheat on Sunday – Lasagna always seems to taste best reheated, so why not bake it twice to begin with 🙂
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground port
  • 1.5 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 1 large white onion, diced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 diced bell peppers (red, yellow and orange)
  • 2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Marsala
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. dried basil
  • 500g lasagna noodles
Instructions
  1. Brown pork, beef and sausage in a large stockpot, adding minced onion and garlic as meat starts to brown.
  2. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, Italian seasoning, basil, salt, pepper, marsala, balsamic vinegar, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Let simmer for an hour, then add chopped peppers, and simmer for another hour.
  4. While sauce is simmering, defrost frozen spinach
  5. In an appropriately sized mixing bowl, mix thawed spinach, ricotta, eggs, and nutmeg.
  6. Spray roasting pan with cooking spray
  7. Spoon a thin layer of sauce into bottom of pan
  8. Place 1 layer of uncooked lasagna noodles over sauce
  9. Spoon another layer of sauce over noodles.
  10. Spread 1/3 of ricotta mixture over sauce
  11. Add another layer of noodles
  12. Add layer of sauce
  13. Add layer of provolone slices
  14. Add layer of sauce
  15. Add 1/3 ricotta mixture
  16. Add layer of noodles
  17. Add more sauce
  18. Add last third of ricotta mixture
  19. Add last layer of noodles
  20. Add last layer of sauce
  21. Evenly spread monterey jack and mozzarella
  22. Sprinkle parmesan over top
  23. Bake covered for 40 minutes at 375
  24. Remove cover, and bake for another 30 minutes.

After initially cooking the lasagna on Friday night (finished at 1:30 AM), I let it cool down, then put it into the fridge Saturday morning at 9:00 AM.  On Sunday, I reheated the lasagna (covered) for 3 hours at 250*F, then added a couple loaves of garlic bread to the oven, removed the lid from the lasagna, and increased the temperature to 375*F for 20 minutes.  Everyone enjoyed it!