Archive for January, 2011

Slow cooker pulled pork, with a kick.

I’ve been crazy busy this week and partly because of this I decided to try a slow cooker pulled pork recipe.  I prepared everything on Thursday night and left it cooking all day Friday while I was at work.  It had been my intention was to take some pics and make it a photoblog/recipe post but I was knackered and just wanted to get it done on Thursday, and last night I just wanted to munch rather than get artsy with the finished results.

The recipe I followed was taken from metronews.ca and is below, its pretty good, a lot spicier than any other pulled pork recipes I have made, but tasted good bundled into buns with a side of broccoli coleslaw I made to go with.  I have just finished making pizza bases from scratch (first time) next onto the pizza sauce and then the left over pulled pork will be the topping along with a healthy (or is that unhealthy) amount of cheese.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

500 ml (2 cups) thinly sliced onions

1.5 kg (3 lb) pork loin roast

500 ml (2 cups) chopped, peeled apples

8 large onion buns

Sauce

1 bottle (455 ml) chili sauce

75 ml (1/3 cup) each grainy mustard and liquid honey

30 ml (2 tbsp) chili powder

30 ml (2 tbsp) each tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce

15 ml (1 tbsp) packed brown sugar

5 ml (1 tsp) smoked paprika (or 10 ml/2 tsp regular paprika)

2 cloves garlic, minced

Place onions on bottom of slow cooker. Place pork on top. Sprinkle apples over top and down sides.

Sauce: In a large bowl, mix together chili sauce, mustard, honey, chili powder, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, paprika and garlic; pour over meat and apples. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or until meat is fall-apart tender.

Remove roast to large plate. Using 2 forks in opposite directions, shred meat along its length. Stir meat back into sauce and serve on buns.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional information per 1 serving: 552 calories; 64 g carbohydrates; 46 g protein; 12 g fat; 6 g fibre.

Here is a pic of a pulled pork sandwich that I enjoyed but bought rather than made, it tasted awesome.

meat mmmmmmm

Baba ghanoush, currently the greatest dip in the world

I dont feel that I’ve had a sheltered life when it comes to the plethora of of pringle accompaniments out there, but I cant believe it took me so long to try baba ghanoush. I think maybe I was put off by the very idea of an aubergine based dip, but how wrong I was, its awesome.

The next step is to try making my own.

Bear; up close & personal

After much deliberation I have decided that if I ever come this close to a bear I think it will most likely be the last thing I ever see.

Stating the obvious

I managed a new record high on the ‘stating the obvious meter’ this morning.

I dropped my girlfreind off at work and had the dog in the car so I could take him on our mrning walk, deciding I wanted a coffee I headed to a Starbucks drive through where I proptly told the guy whose voice was booming through the speaker that I wanted my latte to go.

Just in case he thought I was going to collect it from the window and then come inside.

Australian advertisement humour

Having just returned from a couple of months down under I am happy to be home, but its great country, great people and a great ideas team at the Toyota marketing department;

 

Airport lounge awesomeness

I am currently most of the way through my longest ever non stop journey, I’ve taken in a few countries, many time zones but not a single bed. I have one more flight, thankfully a short haul, to go then a taxi and finally bed.  What I have found from this marathon is that I love airport lounges more than ever.  I cant call them a sanctuary as their is currently some guy yelling at a TV screen (something to do with the New England Patriots) but free booze, easy internet access and no screaming kids mean that although I may nearly be a broken man, I’m somewhat content.

My current lounge in Toronto has glasses with pre seasoned rims for mixing up Caesars and in an Air New Zealand lounge I was in at some point I the last 48hrs they had a ‘make your own hotdog’ stand.  I didn’t have one, but the idea was good awesome.

Now I just have to stay awake long enough to make my final flight and I’m laughing, beer keeps you awake and alert right?

Thoughtful Thursday

Very busy week this week so not much blogging, still away from home and working long days, looking forward to getting back at the end of the month.  My 3 week trip is past 6 weeks and still counting.

Mixed emotions with the people I’m working with over the last few days, one guy had to leave as he tragically lost his son, whilst  a couple of days later another got a call from home to say he was going to be the proud father of a baby boy.  It all seemed quite poignant and as I missed missed wordless Wednesday, I thought I would do a ‘Thoughtful Thursday’ for the first time with a quote I read on a wall and has stuck with me ever since;

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”

A little bit of banter…..

Having been away from home with work now for more weeks than I care to think about I REALLY enjoy anything that will put a smile on my face. In this instance its Joe Public’s reviews on Amazon.com. I do usually read a good section of product reviews before I buy anything from Amazon but unfortunately I don’t normally come across such gems as these;

AmazonAmazonGranted the sarcasm plays well to my slightly melancholy state of mind at the moment, but if you’d like to see more check out this link to cracked.com’s 8 Stupid Amazon Products With Impressively Sarcastic Reviews.

 

The American; a brief movie review

I didn’t really know what to expect from The American, but I can say because of its title I hadn’t expected it to be so European. The trailers for the movie seemed to suggest that the film was some sort of action/adventure however in reality the film is a slow paced melodrama.

It came as no surprise to see that George Clooney had produced as well as stared in The American as the film is very much driven by the central character played by Clooney. Because the dialogue is some what sparse the film needs someone who can convey thought and emotion in silence, which in my opinion Clooney does, and yet throughout the film we find out very little about its protagonist, raising more questions than giving answers.

The story is centered around George Clooney’s character Jack an assassin/gunsmith who in the opening 5 minutes of the movie gets attacked while walking in the woods in Sweden. Jack then vows to his contact Pavel that his next assignment will be his last having grown weary of the death that surrounds his profession. Jack then holes up in a small town in the Italian countryside and starts constructing a gun as required for his final job. During this time he befriends the local priest and begins a relationship with a local prostitute.

The movie overall is beautifully shot and its slow sober score gives the film a feel of Terrence Malik movies such as the Thin Red Line and The New World although its not quite as beautiful or slow as either.

I know the film makers were trying to tell me more, the constant references to butterflies for example, but in reality I think that this story will have been a better book than it was a movie.  I didn’t ever feel that immersed in the story, I did however feel immersed in Italy and plaudits should be given for the style in which the film was shot.

I imagine many people will loathe this movie, not because of its content but because of the way it was marketed.   Telling the public you are giving them one thing then showing them something else after they have paid their money is never a good idea and as such the marketers have killed something that otherwise could have garnered serious public praise.

Financial ramblings about mortgages

As I mentioned in a post a few days ago I see 2011 as the year I my finances in order,  develop my comprehension of personal finances in general and a  get a sound understanding of the investment strategy options available to me.   A few years ago the very idea would have bored me to the bone, but having been forced to reassess my income vs outgoings with a fair amount of scrutiny and weigh up the true worth of any savings I have over the last couple of years due to state of world economics, I’ve had the kick up the butt I needed.

My first conundrum that I am wrestling with is that I am expecting to have a bit of extra cash come my way over and above my regular salary and I am trying to decide whether or not I should put some of it straight into my mortgage.  Putting it straight at my mortgage principal seems like straightforward way to reduce my overall debt and to actually own more of my house.

However there seems to be conflicting advice all over the internet.  Some people say that due to low interest rates you can make more from your money by investing rather than by using extra cash paying off your mortgage.  What I have found though is that these articles talk about that ‘low interest rate’ and concentrate on the interest charged only in the short term (as in over a year) where as the way I see it as I am at the start of my 25 year amortization period any money I can put in now will have huge implications further down the line. In doesn’t just save me money now, but it will continue to save me money every consecutive year here after.

As it stands each of my monthly mortgage payments has a portion going to interest and a portion going to paying off principal, the lower the principal the less interest I can be charged and the more of my monthly payment goes straight to paying off principal.

As I have had my mortgage less than a year, if I pay an extra months rent now in Year 1 I save the equivalent of 5 months worth of mortgage payments over the life of the mortgage.

A good website that helps to illustrate this is www.albertacreditunions.com you can put in all the relevant details and hey presto it gives you an idea as to how much money you could be saving. For example if I had a $100k mortgage at a rate of 4%  with an amortization period of 25 years and at the end of the 1st year I decide I can drop an extra $5k onto the principal the savings over the full length of the mortgage is a pretty staggering $7549.

It may not been money earned but its money saved at a return rate I wont get from any other investment, with zero risk.