Friday, March 13, 2015

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe



  • Here's my take on Kung Pao Chicken with Spaghetti

  • The Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock or 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock (Low Sodium)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce (Low Sodium)
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons red chili paste with garlic
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • Coating
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • PASTA
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 3 cups coarsely-chopped scallions, greens and whites

Directions

  • Combine stock and cornstarch in a medium sauce pan, adding corn starch a little at a time and whisking to prevent lumps
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Bring to a boil and them simmer until thick

  • Combine coating ingredients and place in a large plastic bag (1 gallon.) Do NOT beat them into a froth. We're not making meringue.
  • Set aside

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rapid boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat, heat the olive oil for about 1 minute. Add the chicken pieces to the Egg White-Cornstarch Mixture and toss to coat them. Taking care to avoid splattering, add the coated chicken to the pan and cook like a solid pancake until the egg mixture sets; then, using a large spatula, carefully flip the chicken pieces over together and, with a wooden spoon, gently separate the pieces.
  • Gently stir the roasted peanuts into the pan. As soon as they darken in color, after no more than 1 minute, stir in the garlic and scallions. Once the garlic begins to brown, after no more than 30 seconds, add the Kung Pao Sauce and toss and stir to coat the ingredients.
  • When the pasta is ready, drain it well and, in a large mixing or serving bowl, toss it thoroughly with the sauce. Serve family-style or transfer to individual serving bowls, arranging the chicken, vegetables, and peppers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Being happy



With the recent changes (I've left Cheezburger), I've had to think about what I'm looking for in my next position.  One interesting thing that I've found is that to be happy, what I need in a job is remarkably like what I need in life.


My Life

Here's what makes me happy.
  • Doing good
  • Bringing happiness to others
  • Being Balanced: Grow spiritually, artistically, physically
  • Loving people
I find that if I do those things, I'm happy.

Notice that things like making lots of money, having a big house, etc. aren't on that list. Don't get me wrong, those things are good too, but consider this:


19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19



My Job
When thinking about my next company and position, here's what would make me happy:
  • Bringing happiness to the world
  • Making our customers and our people happy
  • Growing people
  • Growing myself
  • Problem solving
  • Bringing order to chaos
  • Balance

Yeah, there's some overlap there.  Problem solving often brings order to chaos. Growing people makes them happy.  Making our customers happy brings happiness to the world.

Notice how much those align with what makes me happy in this life.  Balance, growth, love, good.

A part of what would make me happy at my next job also includes what I NEED to be happy. I tell this to all of my managers.

I need:
  • To be valued
  • To be supported and own what I own
  • To be taken care of money-wise
  • To be able to respect my superior(s)
  • To be allowed to grow
These NEEDs are also things that I aspire to provide for those that I work with and who work for me.  I make sure they know that I value them, I support and enable them to own what they own, I make sure they're happily compensated, I work hard to make sure they can respect me, and I take a sincere interest in their growth.

It's been a good excercise. 

43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.Luke 6:43-45



Friday, January 16, 2015

Mantras

Mantras

Not mantas.



I come up with a set of mantras at the start of every year.  They tend to cover both work at home.

The big one for me last year was Simplify.  At work, it meant paring down process, simplifying the architecture of the system, and moving to a more service oriented architecture.

At home, it meant getting rid of stuff.

PCs.
At one point, early in the year, I had a ton of PCs (and a mac)


  • Two media PCs (running XBMC)
  • A backup server running Windows Home Server v1
  • A media server running Windows Server 2008R2
  • A desktop in the office
  • My laptop
  • Robin's laptop
  • Beth's laptop
  • Josh's laptop (though he's now moved out)
  • A mac mini


They all required some form of maintenance, and invariably, there'd be some hardware or software problem that I'd have to deal with.

I got sick of all that and now I have this:


  • 0 media PCs (replaced by ROKUs running Plex to stream media from my server)
  • 0 backup servers (replaced by backing up each PC to the media server, and backing up most of the media server to an external hard disk.  And then backing each of the PCs up to Crashplan.)
  • Kept the media server.
  • Kept the desktop, though it's rarely used.
  • Kept the laptops, which all of us (except Robin) use regularly.
  • Turned off the Mac Mini. Just sucking up power.


It's made my life much simpler.

Stuff
I had three huge drawers full of old cables that I've kept (and added to over the years.)  I had every cable imaginable, all the way back to parallel printer cables.  Over the holiday break, I spent a couple of hours and whittled it down to one half-full drawer.  I felt great about it, until I needed a stupid USB extension cable.

I also went through my tools, tossed or gave away all of the screwdrivers that had been mangled one way or another (I tend to be hard on tools. Broke my large flat head screwdrivers many years back by accidentally shorting positive and negative on a car battery.)  Tossed a lot of things I rarely used, and now the garage is pretty clean.  It's never been pretty clean.

I went through my boxes of books and gave away all of the ones I'll never read again. That hurt a little.

This year

Here are my mantras for this year:

    • Balance
    • Close loops
    • Multipliers
    • Forward thinking
    • Grow

What these mean for me, at least right now, are:

Balance
Balance physical fitness, spiritual fitness and creative fitness. Work out, read more of the bible, Art more.

Close Loops
So many things get lost in the shuffle.  Recurring bills on the credit card for things we don't use, but never turned off.  Getting to finishing the yard lights.

Multipliers
Find ways to make everything more efficient. Simplify things even more so I don't spend garbage time doing unimportant things.

Forward Thinking
Pay more attention to preparing for our future. Robin and I are shortly going to be empty nesters. Let's find a way to do more together.

Grow
Always continue to grow. Stagnation stinks.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 (NIV)