Recipe: Grilled Potatoes on the Barbecue

Potatoes in tinfoil on the BBQ

 

It’s March 20th and today is the last day of winter.  Normally in Toronto, we’d be wearing warm coats with hats and gloves, and possibly even shoveling snow.  Not today!  We set an all-time record high temperature on this glorious sunny day: 23 degrees C (73 deg F, for my friends in the US), as opposed to the normal high of 8 degrees C (46 deg F).

Since it was such a nice day I was inspired to cook a summertime-style meal: Marinated Beef Tenderloin Steaks, with Grilled Potatoes on the Barbecue.  The marinade is excellent and I’ll post that later, but for now, here’s my favourite recipe for potatoes on the grill:

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 medium size white or red potatoes, diced into large 1″ chunks
  • 1/2-cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped very finely
  • Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Lay out a double layer of tinfoil (large sheets)
  2. Lightly grease the surface with oil (to prevent sticking)
  3. Spread potatoes out on the foil
  4. Add onion, rosemary, garlic, and drizzle with oil
  5. Add fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
  6. Seal up the tinfoil and cook over medium heat on the barbecue for 25-30 minutes.
  7. For the last 5 minutes, open the tinfoil to allow the potatoes to brown a little.  This also allows you to confirm that the potatoes aren’t under or overcooked.
  8. Enjoy…

My Hate/Hate/Love/Love/Hate Relationship with Exercise

Cycling, road cycling, exercise, orbea

Some people love exercise. Other people hate exercise. Still others have a love/hate relationship with exercise.

Personally, I have a hate/hate/love/love/love/hate relationship with exercise. I’ll explain what I mean by that later, but first let me give you some background.

As a teenager was very active in sports. I rode my bike everywhere, putting down hundreds of km’s every week. Loved it! I also played a lot of squash (what a super fun game that is), badminton, tennis, sailing, and golf.

Then through university, I played some squash, but that was about it. I hung my bike up for several years and didn’t ride much at all. I gained 30+ lbs through university. Pounds that I’ve since struggled to shed as I’ve gotten a bit older.

After university, I became a bit of a sloth. I didn’t do much exercise to speak of. I preferred sampling the tasty foods of the great Toronto restaurants and spent a little too much time in my pursuit of the enjoyment of good wine, beer, and scotch.

One evening after about 2-3 years of professional couch surfing, I remember one of my super-fit friends (we’ll call him Johnny) commenting after we had enjoyed a night of food, drink, and partying. He said, “Man, I haven’t worked out in 3 days and I’m losing my mind, I crave it so much.”

My reply was something to the effect of, “Whaa? You crave exercise? Are you nuts? I know exercise is good for you, but crave is a strong word, my friend.”

Fast forward a few years and that same friend, Johnny, arm-twisted me into doing a 50km charity bike ride with him. He lent me his old road bike and we did a couple of training rides in the week leading up to the event. Wow, that event changed my life. I fell in love with cycling all over again. Mind you, that 50km ride nearly killed me, having spent the previous 10 years on the sofa, but I was then reminded of my love for those feelings of satisfaction, good health, and high spirits you get after a workout.

Since then, my main sports have been golf and cycling. Of course, golf doesn’t really count as exercise since I usually ride around in a power cart and drink a few beers on the course.

I’ve had good and bad years on the bike, but each year I’ve ridden somewhere in the range of 2000-4000 km’s. And, for the past 6 years over the winter, I’ve participated in an indoor cycling training camp 2-3 times a week (from January to March) to try and keep the weight down and fitness up.

This brings me to my hate/hate/love/love/love/hate relationship with exercise.

1) I HATE the invariable struggle to get up the mental and physical energy needed to get off the couch and out of the house.

2) I HATE those painful feelings during the workout of your lungs burning, being out of breath, your muscles feeling like they’re turning into bricks as the lactic acid builds up and fatigue sets in.

3) I LOVE the feeling of calm, the fun, the sense of accomplishment and pride, and the feeling of good health you experience after you’ve finished a workout.

4) I LOVE the feeling of being able to eat and drink guilt-free after I’ve worked out hard. (well, I know I shouldn’t, but I do anyway)

5) I HATE the stiff and sore muscles you get 2 days following the workout.

Hence the hate/hate/love/love/hate relationship I have with exercise.

Our cycling training camp workout tonight was REALLY tough, so I felt all of those things, in spades.

All that said, on balance I really do enjoy exercise. And after several days away from it… I even find myself craving it.

THANKS, JOHNNY!

The Boy of a Thousand Faces

Kids photography, photography

As of today, our son Bennett is 14 months old. So far, I’ve taken roughly 7000 pictures of him. That’s a little over 16 pictures per day, on average! Yes, call me crazy, I deserve it… But it’s so much FUN capturing all these amazing moments of discovery! Also, when he was born, my lovely and generous wife bought me a really nice DSLR camera that takes amazing pictures (Canon Rebel T2i), so that really adds to the fun.

One thing about photographing a baby/toddler is that they’re SO expressive. I call Bennett “The Boy of a Thousand Faces”. With every new discovery, every emotion, every thought, and every attempt at communicating with us, there’s a new expression on his face. Actually, I think the number 1000 isn’t nearly adequate to describe the number of his expressions I’ve seen on his face.

The other day I had just finished feeding him breakfast and he was a very happy boy. Much like his Daddy, he gets cranky when he gets hungry. So, in his happy state, he started chatting away. More like babbling, I suppose, because he hasn’t said his first word yet. Well, I actually think he’s said Da-Da many times already, but that might be a stretch.

Check out this amazing sequence of roughly 20 photos I snapped of him while he was “talking” away. The sequence was over a timeframe of only about 1 or 2 minutes.

Any guesses as to what he’s trying to say? (comment below)

Recipe: Southwest Chicken Chili

Chicken Chili, slow cooker, slow cooker recipe, recipe, recipes

My new favorite recipe for 3 reasons:

  1. it’s good
  2. our 13-month old son will eat it
  3. it’s relatively healthy and super easy
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: slow cooker on Low for 6-8 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) – black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) – reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 oz) – diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb. – boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 jar (8 oz.) – chunky salsa
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup – frozen corn
  • 1 Tbsp – dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp – ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp – pepper
  • 1/2 cup – chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cups – hot cooked rice (to serve on)

Instructions:

Combine beans, broth, tomatoes, jalapeno, chicken, salsa, corn, and seasonings in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken shreds easily with two forks. Shred chicken and return to the slow cooker; heat through. Add chopped cilantro just before serving on a bed of rice.

Nutrition Facts:

1 cup of Slow-Cooked Southwest Chicken with 1/2 cup of rice equals 320 calories, 1 gram of fat, 873 mg sodium, 8 grams of fiber, and 19 grams of protein. Credit: Healthy Cooking Magazine

Instagram is great

Instagram is the best

Do you like photography? Do you have an iPhone or Android phone?

If the answer is yes, you NEED Instagram. Actually, if you answered yes to those two questions, I’d be surprised if you weren’t already using Instagram, or at least dabbling in it.

It’s a social network centered solely around photography. Right now, you’re thinking… another social network?  I already spend too much time “thyping” on my smartphone or staying up too late at night on my computer, “networking”.

Why do I like Instagram?

I’m active in a few social networks… Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn mostly. I like Facebook to stay up to date with friends and extended family, and to see pictures of their kids and their travels. I like Twitter for its more global network and the mix of personal and business use. I use it to follow my hobbies/interests, for learning, for business, and to get my daily dose of news and sports. I use LinkedIn to network professionally, and obviously for business purposes.

“Why Instagram?” you ask. Well, sometimes I need a break from the fast flowing information overload of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. It’s actually quite relaxing to browse around in the “Popular” section to see what pictures people are snapping and sharing. You can also see all the photos that other people “Like”. Most people upload the best of the best of their work to Instagram, so for the most part, it’s like reading a magazine full of excellent photos.

How does it work?

Users share their photos from their iPhone. They could be photos shot from their actual phone or photos from a more professional camera, as long as they’re accessible from their iPhone (Hint: Dropbox is great for this!). You can discover good photographers by seeing who has “Liked” or “Commented” on photos. You can “Follow” people, connect with your friends, or easily search your contacts in other social networks for Instagram users.

Check it out…

Even if you’re not an avid photographer, I recommend that you sign up and check it out.  It’s really a nice diversion from the same old, same old of Facebook and Twitter.

By the way, Instagram only runs on an iPhone (or iPad). However, I recently discovered a desktop app called Web.stagram.com that allows you to browse through your Instagram account from a web browser. Cool.

Got a Round Tuit

Getting around to it

Hello, people of the interwebs. I’ve been thinking about starting up a personal blog for a while now. Well… I finally got myself a “round tuit”, so I no longer have any excuses.

Why blog?

I’ve been asking myself that very question for quite a while. I’ve often wondered why people would publish their personal thoughts, in all their glory, for the whole world to see. I guess, since I’ve been putting my thoughts out there in 140 characters on Twitter and status updates on Facebook for a few years, I’ve become a little more comfortable with such a public forum.

A good blog has many important attributes. Interesting topics, quality writing, and frequent posts, just for starters. Those attributes require a lot of work and commitment, and I’m finally ready to jump in with both feet.

Why the name Craigthusiast?

I have many interests. Some are work-related, and many more are fun-related. I also love to learn. I don’t like being a noob at something. I prefer to be knowledgeable and expertly. I tend to become a student of the subject. Some might even say, an enthusiast.

Hopefully others will find my interests interesting too. I guess we shall see…

Some of the topics I hope to blog about:

  • Wine
  • Food
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Books
  • Sports
  • Current events
  • Being a Dad
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Social media
  • Technology and gadgets

Hope you enjoy! If you do, perhaps you’ll Tweet, Like, or +1 me to your networks.

+1… is that a verb now?

Also, please comment on this for me. I’m looking for some feedback. In your mind, what is the most important attribute of a good blog that makes you want to come back and read future posts. I’m still learning about this whole blogging thing, so I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks!

Craig