Sunday, September 28, 2008

dinner's ready!

Sorry for the tease in the last post, but it was worth the wait... introducing, a new food blog launching today.

This is a joint venture between Matt the Web Guy (that's me) and The Queen Bee (that's my Sweetie), and got it's start from all of the food-related posts on both of our blogs. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy sharing it with you.

I told you I smelled something cooking.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

i smell something cookin'...

... yup, that's a tease, clear and simple. Stick around and you'll see what I'm talking about. Any guesses out there?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

more food?

My most recent post got me to thinking... why not add more cooking and food posts to my blog? Sure, the blog is called MattTheWebguy, and sure, I haven't posted much web-stuff, but I really enjoyed blogging about Sunday night's dinner.

Here's what I've blogged about in the past...
golden brown & delicious
boomper's birthday
let the grilling season BEGIN! (include a link to my Propane Estimator Thingy)
(gee, I thought I had a few more in here... wait... yup, they're still in my head. sorry)

So, what do you think? Anyone interested in reading more about my culinary exploits and adventures? I'm willing to share, if you're willing to listen. Let me know what you think...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

trains, planes, automobiles... and sausage?!?

There comes a time (almost) every afternoon that I ask my Sweetie these same four words... "Any ideas for dinner?" This roughly translates to "What would you like me to make tonight?", since I do about 90-95% of the cooking in the house.

I cook for the love and challenge of it. I've always had this goal to make someone say, "This is better than my Grandma's!", and hope that Grandma had mad skills in the kitchen. I have no desire to change careers and head off to culinary school and then sweat it out in the kitchen of some tyrannical chef with an ego the size of a Buick. I DO joke around with my Sweetie about moving to a semi-quirky town in the Adirondacks, opening a diner, hiring a middle-aged waitress that calls everyone "Hon" and never lets your coffee cup go dry, and just cook like no tomorrow. Maybe someday...

Sorry, got a bit off-track... back to tonight's creation...

Like most nights that aren't planned (we actually do plan a fair amount of dinners 'round here), I like the challenge of the Pantry Raid. I enjoy rifling through our pantry shelves, fridge and freezer, and seeing what I can create without too many special ingredients. I believe I do a fairly good job at working with what's on hand.

Off track again? sorry.

Tonight's dinner kinda started with a special ingredient, (but it was gifted to us, so it doesn't count): three beautiful homegrown yellow tomatoes from my Mother's garden. The tomatoes, along with the request for a pasta toss type dish got me thinking.... and then the raid began.

Here's what I pulled together...

3 yellow tomatoes, coarse diced (Thanks, Mom!)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (is there any other?)
1 Tbsp pure olive oil (save the extra virgin stuff for salad dressings)
1/2 bag of frozen cut-leaf spinach, thawed
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 precooked Italian sausage links, grilled (I broiled them) and sliced on the bias (ours were a local brand that can be ordered from here - they ship!)
dried oregano
dried parsley
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

And then "the pasta". We usually use Barilla Pasta Plus because it actually has flavor. Oh, and it's better for you than straight semolina pastas. But for tonight, we found some motorized vehicle shaped pasta we got for Christmas last year from my Sweetie's folks (CORRECTION: the pasta was a gift from my Sweetie's sister... thanks Sue!) It was the perfect pasta for all of us to enjoy, even Boomper (aka Munchkin). He's not big on the dishes I come up with, but give him some pasta with butter and parmesan ("Shakey") cheese, and he's one happy little boy.

So, here's how I put it all together... (FINALLY!)

1. Cook the pasta (al dente) in a large pot of salted water.
2. Sweat the onion in the butter, olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a crank or two of fresh ground black pepper. As the onion just becomes translucent, add the garlic to brown slightly.
3. Add the sausage, and brown slightly. The grilling (broiling) adds some great flavor to the dish.
4. Add the spinach and combine.
5. Season to taste with the oregano, parsley, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
6. Once it's all together and warmed through, cut the heat and toss in the tomatoes (so you don't bruise the fresh flavor). Give a quick toss and get ready to plate it up.

Plate up the drained pasta, spoon the sausage-tomato-spinach combination over the top, and finish it off with fresh grated parmesan.

As I placed her pasta bowl in front of her, my Sweetie said "wow" and immediately snapped these two photos. Here's the aerial shot...

A chiffonade of fresh basil would have been killer, but our basil went to seed and is rather bitter now. And "yes", the parsley is for style points.

Almost forgot.... I took a two-day old baguette, sliced it on the bias in 1/2" slices, spread them out on a baking sheet, brushed on some olive oil, sprinkled on fresh coarse ground black pepper and parmesan (some slice also received a slice of fresh tomato and more cheese and pepper, and then under the broiler it went for about two minutes. Nice addition to the meal.

So... any ideas for dinner?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

summer vacation '08

Rumor has it that I'll be on vacation all of next week... time for my annual workation.

Yup, it's time for Summer Vacation '08, and trust me, I won't be those feet in the photo (heck, I don't even own a hammock). Nope, I'll be dividing my time between building a new side door step, finishing the trim around the French Doors, and installing a new sump crock and pump in the basement.

The new sump is the big challenge that is causing me concern. See, right where I want to position the new sump is where the original sump was. It's right where there SHOULD be a sump, but for some unknown reason, the sump was sealed over, and new one was installed at the front wall of the basement.

What's the main concern? I'm hoping that whomever sealed up the old sump didn't fill the old sump to the brim with concrete. It's a good possibility.... or would that be a "bad" possibility. Or course, I won't know until I start going at the floor with a jackhammer. I'm going to pick up a long masonry bit and do some exploratory surgery prior before I introduce the jackhammer, in hopes that my prayers to St. Tommy Silva have been answered.

Of course, since it IS a vacation, I do hope to spent at least a little time recreating. I haven't planned anything just yet, but maybe it'll involve a certain 17' crafted piece of aircraft aluminum and a coupla wooden thingies. maybe.

I'll have my post-vacation report at the end of the week... keep your fingers crossed on the whole basement-sump-concrete thing.

Monday, July 07, 2008 the water...soon...

Happy Fourth of July to everyone out there. Our annual Fourth of July picnic (and surprise 7oth Birthday Party for Dad) was a success, and the pulled pork and homemade sauces went over well. More about the pork and sauces in another post.

Remember the canoe we were given back, oh two years ago? Well, just throwing out a quick update on getting our canoeing activities rolling.

"She" has been resting comfortably in our garage since we took ownership, patiently awaiting the day that she'll feel the water lapping against her sides. We are getting closer to that day, as today, I purchased three PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices) for me, The Wife, and Boompstar.

Two of the three had to be ordered online from, but I ran over to pick up mine from the local EMS because the website didn't have my size in stock (???). I've been researching PFDs for two years, and finally decided on EMS's Allagash for The Wife and I, and Stohlquist's Nemo for Boompstar.

The next step is to head up to Oak Orchard Canoes, on beautiful Irondequoit Bay here in Rochester, and select suitable paddles. Even though Canoeing was my very first merit badge as a first-year Scout at Massawepie Scout Camps, I'll need to review proper paddle fitting technique for The Wife and I. Boompstar gets a short one... for now... but not for long.

So, as it looks now... I think we'll be on the water soon. I can already hear the lapping.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Good-bye BEFW11S4... you were a good friend...

After 7 or 8 years (we can't quite remember), our trusty Linksys cable router gave it up. So yesterday, I "reluctantly" worked through the grief, and decided to move forward and seek out a new one.

Enter the "new hotness"...Introducing the Linksys WRT310N Wireless-N Gigabit Router. Draft-N wireless connectivity coupled with Gigabit wired Ethernet hotroddedness. schweet.

Wired? Why yes, I still rely on a good ol' fashioned wired network for some things in the house (Cat5e in every room - as well as telephone and coax - installed when we rewired the house). The desktop machine, print server, and a future NAS, will all be wired in the office.

I'm running the wireless for our work laptops, and for guests that bring one with them. Of course, I'm sure I'll be using the wireless for more things in the future.

Now I can take the chunk of Cat5e that I've been running across the living room Boompstar's playspace, and into the dining room, and put it away.

Good for another eight years? maybe.

Friday, April 25, 2008

waiting for the...

That's what I call it when one day you're looking at the leafless trees of early Spring, and then...suddenly...without warning...FOOMP! Every leaf in the Northern Hemisphere says "HERE I AM!", and the trees are magically transformed to greeny goodness.

It's unpredictable. No one knows exactly when it'll happen, but everyone does the "when-the-hell-did-that-happen?" double take when it does. It usually happens when you least expect it, and definitely when you aren't looking... hence the WTHDTH look.

For us, it's happened coming home from the annual Spring trip to my brother-in-law's in Boston, or on the way home from a Lions Club state convention. I think one time it happened on our way home from South Carolina... which was pretty cool given the whole distance and climate change.

Well, I welcome the FOOMP!, as it's the sure way to know that Spring is just teasing us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

a little nervous

Tonight, I'm doing a live test of an e-mail throttling script I wrote for the Boy Scout council website I've been working on since 2001 (along with a bunch of other Scouters). I'll admit that I'm a bit nervous about the test.

About a month ago, the monthly email notifier went out to over 1700 subscribers in about 3 minutes. This broke my web host's e-mail speed limit, and ended up causing the website account to be suspended (under suspicion of spamming). After about an hour on the phone, I was able to convince the host that we were not spammers, and to reinstate the account.

They agreed to my solution to throttle the email delivery, and to run the process in the wee hours, while server activity is low.

Well, tonight is the test... and I'm really hoping it goes well.... otherwise, I'm going to find myself back on the phone, groveling for another chance.

UPDATE: Okay, a minor glitch on the reporting script, but it worked. whew!

i've got to get to doing this more often

almost a month. dammit.

Okay, so much for blogging on a more regular basis. My problem is that I get too busy, too much on the code groove, and then, POW! A month has gone by. I need to think less about what I am blogging about, at least the planning on what I am blogging about, and just type something... okay, but it's got to make sense... and cost me less than a therapist.

Lots of work going on from all angles... so I'm going to get to it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

busy, busy, busy

I know I've been away for a while... it's been busy, and looking to get busier.

I have a new web client who needs a quick turnaround on some brochureware, and an existing client who is finally ready (after 2-1/2 years of waiting) to pull the trigger on a complete rebuild.

The new client's website is an easy build, and will be done by early next week.

The complete rebuild is going to take some time. It's a full-blown db-based site with ALOT of content. Luckily, the client has offered to input all the content (whew!). I was originally supposed to receive design files from a graphic artist who designed their brochure, but due to reluctance, I'll now be recreated all the graphic elements. Not a problem, as I'm used to it.

Oh, and I'm still working on a kickass summer camp registration app for the local Boy Scout council... but I've been given a bit of a reprieve on that one.

Back to work...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

5 levels of pure awesomeness

Boomper and I wanted to go higher, but we ran out of ramps and bricks... dang. Click the image for a better view.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

boomper's birthday

Last Sunday we celebrated Boomper's (the boy wonder) third birthday. Hard to believe it's three years already.

Last year, I decided to make his cake, so I made one that looked like a dump truck. he liked it so much, he wanted to play with it.

This year, I wanted to make a Thomas the Tank Engine cake, but after talking it over with The Wife, we decided that it would be better NOT to experience the possible psychological trauma of a little boy watching his favorite train get sliced up with a large knife. Believe me, I can just picture the look in his eyes, and then the look in my eyes as I'm shelling out huge sums of cash for all the therapy. Not pretty.

So instead of Thomas, I decide I was going to make a simple steam engine with tender, and after my first experience building a groom's cake for a nephew, I decided to revisit the world of fondant.

First of all, let me go on record as saying that Duff and the kids at Charm City Cakes make it look a whole lot easier than it really is. Of course, they also crank out boatloads of cakes each and every week, and get loads of practice.

So the picture above is only my second attempt with fondant, and I'm sure that with a wee bit of practice, I'll get "mad skills"... as the kids say.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

code jones

There's something to be said about releasing a project into the wild...

Today, I opened a web app that I've been working on, to beta testing by the internet sales manager at work. It's an web/tv ad submission and traffic app that I built for our sales department, and it's a module of the extranet app I'm building for the station (Did I mention that my day job is web developer at the local ABC affiliate?).

I still have some core processing to complete, but the data entry part is done to the point where I can have someone kick the tires. Of course, I still have to add the bells and whistles.

Back to the "something said"...

Right now, even though I still have work to do on the project, the act of releasing it for testing has given me a morale boost, and has triggered a "Code Jones".

Code Jones? Well, think of it this way: Right now, and I know it sounds geeky, I've got "code" running through my head at an alarming rate. I can "see" the code in front of my eyes.

Okay, it IS geeky, but sometimes that's how my brain works. I have always been able to visualize concepts, project plans and the such. Those tests back in elementary school where you are given a two-dimensional cut-out and have to form it into a 3-D object? Aced 'em every time.

So now that the Jones is rolling, I'd better get back to work. One thing about these things... they can disappear just as quickly as they appear...

Monday, January 14, 2008

hold on... be with you soon.

Okay, so I've been away for a bit. I got busy. I'll be back in a bit. I promise. Really.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

embedding Google Docs

Testing a new app from Google Docs... embedding presentations: