Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tigua Chili

Every now and then, I get to post something that's actually chili-related. Last time was a recipe for Chuy's Green Chile Salsa, with a picture of an empty salsa bowl. What can I say? I already ate it all. After all the heat I took around here for that picture, I figured this time some pictures of the food itself were in order.

Today we have Tigua Chili from the Chili Nation cookbook by Jane and Michael Stern.

This is the real deal;  it can be hot enough to cause tears and sniffles if you like - we usually tone down the heat with sour cream, cheese, rice, and tortillas. We also use less chili than the original.

Please observe the chili-eater in his native habitat. His expression says, 'Hands off - this is my chili.'

He can't hide a grin, though.

The basic recipe is found in the Sterns cookbook, but we have made some tweaks over the years, tripling the amount, using real ground chili (not "chili powder") and various other things. This recipe works well with venison, if you have a hunter in the family.

Tigua Chile

  • 3 chopped onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs beef round steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/3 tablespoons mild powdered chili (not chili powder)
  • 3 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoon masa harina, dissolved in
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • cooked rice (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • cheese (optional)
In a big pot, saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add in beef; cook until browned.
Add in salt, , pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder, tomato sauce, and 3 cans water; stir to mix.
Bring to a boil; decrease heat to a low simmering boil and cook, partially covered, for 1 hour 10 minutes.
Remove from heat; add in masa harina mixture; return to low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
Serve with rice, or tortillas on the side: all useful for muffling the heat. Also helpful is a dollop of sour cream.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bill Gates vs General Motors

This has been posted on other blogs, and it's one of my favorites:


At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated that :- "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got 1000 miles to the gallon."

In response to Gates' comments, General Motors issued a press release stating:

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, restart and drive on.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn, would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT". But then you would have to buy more seats.

6. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would only work on five percent of the roads.

7. The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single "general car default" warning light.

8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.

9. The airbag system would say "Are you sure?" before going off.

10. Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grab hold of the radio antenna.

11. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need them nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car's performance to diminish by 50% or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department.

12. Every time GM introduced a new model car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

13. You'd press the "start" button to shut off the engine.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Practice Space

A musician can never practice too much. The problem is, you are not usually inclined to.... There are a number of reasons, one can be a lack of suitable space to practice. If every time you want to practice some one else has to accommodate you, you can get a subconscious urge not to bother them. This combined with laziness and lack of discipline will lead to long spells of no practice. Not good. 

This is the space in which I practice, also known as my room. I had several options to choose from, but only this one is heated.....The Kentucky K150 mandolin on the couch is a good entry level model. I bought this so I could  teach a mandolin student, and have picked up some mandolin in the process. I also keep a banjo and guitar in here, just for practicing.

I share this room with a younger brother, which is an issue with nice instruments and equipment. I have told him in no uncertain terms that touching any of this stuff means big trouble. The risk is worth it though, no one is bothered when I practice up here.

Here you can see one of the nicest tools for a practice space to have. A $90 portable DVD player -  for instructional videos, as well as CDs. This makes a lot of equipment unnecessary - no external speakers, TV, CD player, etc. It can even run off batteries for a while. Instantly turns any room into a practice area.

Here we have the most compact and easy to use virtual strobe tuner I have found. The lights go around in a circle, clockwise is sharp and counterclockwise is flat. The faster it goes, the further off you are. THe trouble with strobe tuners is  their precision and lightning speed can be hard to interpret. That is the problem with the Petersen tuners (which are also very accurate); the display is a pattern of squares scrolling up or down...which is it, up or down? It can be hard to tell. This one is very bright and easy to read; batteries last awhile, but the power button is very easy to trigger so don't shove it into a bag or you may run the battery down.

A good chair and a guitar stand, definite must-have. The guitar was my grandfathers, an old American-made  Epiphone with a deep ringing woody tone. I keep it here just for practicing, the CA guitar goes with me on the road. 

Inspiration comes from many places; here is one of them on my wall. This is a newspaper clipping from our first jam camp with Pete Wernick "Dr Banjo", at the Merlefest music festival in Wilkesboro, NC. We have attended all but one of the camps since 2003, and now we are setting these up all over the country with many different teachers. The clipping is faded now, but still serves as a reminder of where I've been.

Here's the view out my window. Not a necessity for practicing, but it lights the room quite well, and is nice to look out on while you are playing scales or boring exercises.

As a practice space,  it works pretty well for me. I keep a log of the hours spent, and I am able to keep at it for an hour every day.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wayne Keith at KSU

I can hardly believe it, I missed a chance to see one of the coolest guys around give a talk on wood gasification. Wayne Keith was at KSU in Frankfort in November, he drove up from Alabama in his wood powered truck. Yes, it's really wood powered.

Wayne Keith has been gasifying wood in his trucks since 2005, he has converted six trucks so far. He has logged more miles on wood than anyone else in the nation at this point, and is not slowing down. Here's a bit of the article from KSU:
Wayne Keith leaned over and said, "What's the fastest you've ever been on wood?"
For most people, the answer would be 0 miles an hour unless they were rolling down the river on a log. But Keith regularly clocks up to 80 miles an hour on his wood-fueled Dodge Dakota and hauls 40-foot gooseneck trailer loads of hay with his wood-powered Ford F250 on his 140-acre Springville, Ala., farm.
Keith was one of several presenters Nov. 19 at the Kentucky State University Land Grant Program's Small, Limited Resource, Minority Farmers Conference at the KSU Research and Demonstration Farm. One of the focuses of this year's conference was alternative energy, and as a former part-time farmer and full-time energy innovator, Keith was a prime presenter for the 160 farmers who traveled to Frankfort from across the Commonwealth.
The retired law enforcement officer turned full-time farmer and inventor showed off his creation, which gets 5,000 to 7,000 miles per cord of wood. Keith uses it as his everyday vehicle and said he drives more than anyone else who is documented to operate a wood-fueled vehicle. In one trip, he drove more than 7,000 miles on wood alone.

Here is a bit of how it works:

To operate his truck, Keith first lights a fire in the first tank using newspapers. Then, he adds the wood. He said he can basically burn anything except metal glass and rocks, but he prefers wood because it gets the best mileage. 
The wood tank heats to about 3,000 degrees. That water vapor and carbon dioxide goes through a pipe where it mixes with incoming air in a second tank. From there, the process goes down pipes along the side of the bed of the truck and underneath to where the water is condensed and trapped. Then it is sent to the filtration tank, which is full of hay.
The water is cleansed and sent to the modified motor. 
"So far I have not found anything that completely removes all of the soot, but I think a little soot is OK," Keith said. 
He changes the loose hay about every three to four months and keeps a steady level of ash in the initial tank. Beyond that, he gauges the level of all of the tanks with dials that he can see in his rearview mirror. He knows the readings well enough to know when he is almost out of fuel and when he needs to tend to his tanks.
"Any vehicle alongside us doesn't even know we are any different," Keith said. "Most of the people around home don't realize I am doing this. They just think I am hauling extra weight."
The first time he starts his engine for the day, when the engine is cold, he usually starts it with gas and then quickly switches over to wood fuel using a lever beneath his steering wheel. He could wait much longer to let the vehicle run completely on wood, but it takes less than an ounce of gasoline to jumpstart the motor.

Read the rest of the article here:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Youtube Channel

I have finally got myself shifted on to a single Google account; for a while I used the account for only one thing - YouTube. I left it due to the videos I had posted, and subscriptions I had made. YouTube does not allow account switching, BTW - once you've signed up, that's the only account you can use. But constantly switching between Google accounts is no fun. So I have just finished reposting all the videos from kymetro9999 to the new channel, eatmorechili1. I managed to continue the color scheme from the blog onto the channel page. Here's one of the more popular videos: 

This is a few of us at GeoPalooza this year. We were working on a Geo Metro which needed welding on the underneath side. Lacking a floor jack, we had plenty of human labor....Lift it up! We steadied it with some boards and held on tight, monitoring the slightest motions very carefully. All told, the car stayed in the air for about 45 minutes. Please note the gas-can stool that Coyote-X is sitting on while he welds. 

View more great clips on the new channel,

Monday, January 10, 2011


Ahh, the taste still lingers. That was a bowl of Green Chili Salsa, a la Chuy's Restaurant.  I made five different kinds of salsa for my birthday, and some of them were a little fiery. This one involved serrano peppers, some tomatillos, garlic, onions, cilantro, and of course, green chilies. It wasn't as hot this time around, since I cut the serranos back from 8 oz. But I am the only one eating it, there are too many delicate tongues around that can't handle spicy. Tortilla chips are also a special treat at our house - that's why I like to see the Restaurant Size box come home from Sam's Club, once a year. They are almost gone now, along with the salsa.....and I will have to adopt more normal eating pleasures for the rest of the year.  So here is the recipe for those of you who want to try it.

Chuys Salsa

2 quarts water
½ lb tomatillos
5 oz serranos, whole
1 lb green chiles (or 3 cans)
⅓ cup cilantro
3 medium cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
2 tbl salt

All ingredients except salt in large pot, boil 30 min. Strain, saving juice. Now add the salt. Blend solid ingredients, and add back ½ the strained out liquid. Makes nearly 2 qts. Hot!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Steer Clear Driver's Program

It's not every day that your insurance company pleads with you to take a lower premium. Sends you fliers, ask you to come in to talk about it, and so forth. But that's what State Farm has decided to do, with their latest effort to keep teen drivers a little safer on the road. I got a notice on the last statement from them that I was eligible for a reduction in premiums if I follow their guidelines. This is what they want me to do:

  • Sign a paper stating that I promise to be a safe driver.
  • Keep a trip log for five trips, recording where I went, and various aspects of the trip (conditions, weather, distractions, etc.)
  • Come by the office and claim my discount.
Seems awfully simple to me, I don't mind. I generally drive slower than anyone else on the road, I don't have a cellphone, and I always wear a seatbelt, at least on major roads. You can get pulled over for all that anyway, so why take a chance? I guess they expect teen drivers to feel differently, perhaps they do. I won't complain; they can pay me to do what I do already, no problem.........

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chords Webpage

I have been working on a webpage for Pete Wernick 'Dr.Banjo', a page of pictures of guitar chords, clearly and carefully shown to eliminate confusing fingers and shadows. The arrangement is critical to capturing fleeting attention spans, and to convey the most information with the least effort. 

So what seems like a simple task (putting pictures on a page) is really quite involved, and worth some extra effort. In particular, the lighting has proven to be a challenge. Today the light from the snow outside was perfect, bright and diffuse; I think I have the shots I need now. Putting it all on a nice page is the next step.  Stay tuned for more details...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dodge Truck For Sale

For all my multitude of readers, there are a FEW DAYS LEFT before this truck sells! A beautiful 1987 Dodge 250 V8 pickup.

If you think you might want to buy it, here is your chance. It has Power steering, A/C which doesn't work, 2WD, Towing capabilities (it has a hitch), mostly undented bed, could use some paint. Buy it and restore it! You aren't going to find a much cleaner specimen in Pellyton, KY - or any other specimen for that matter! Comes with a junked title, but that can be fixed through the DMV. Surely you are in need of another project! Well, if you are you'd better hurry because this thing could sell ANY MINUTE! Asking $800 OBO. Come on down and see it for yourself.
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Went To Jacob's

Went to see my good friend Jacob Ellis on New Years Day. He didn’t get the day off, since their family runs a small convenience store, and they stayed open. I have had some adventures with Jacob over the years that we've been here.  This time was no different.

After locating him at his house, we walked over to see his latest fix-it project. Their GMC Suburban had been in a rear end wreck a few years ago, and the rear axle had always been off since then. So they were in the last stages of rebuilding with a new rear end, and new transfer case. His shop is an old Amish outbuilding, with a sliding door and concrete floor, and a lot of junk, barely leaving room for the car itself. The only power/light came in on an extension cord from elsewhere, no insulation or heat.

When I showed up, he was mildly irritated at his brother Ethan who had lost some of the nuts off of the transmission. Since this was his only day off, and I wanted to be around to help with the job, I suggested we go on into town and get the bolts. So off we went  in the little Metro (getting 56mpg for the trip) and headed for town 25 miles away.

About an hour later we got back with the goods, and set to work on the Suburban.  Bolted up the rear plate on the differential and put the new nuts on the transfer case. Installed both of the drive shafts, bled the brakes, bolted on the wheels, and filled up the tires....we were rolling! Everything seemed to be secure, and Jacob said he’d be checking all the bolts after  they had settled in a bit.  At this point, we had blown right through supper, and  so we said good bye to Jacob and Ethan, and headed home.

Jacob said that he is getting his old truck back, and that it will need work that may be our next little  adventure. I hope so, because Jacob is fun to be around, and I always look forward to wrenching with him.