antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

ninja dualbrew pro cfp301 review

After close to a decade, my old Keurig brewer finally bit the dust last week 🙁

Given we can’t go long without needing hot water or got beverages in the family…it became “urgent” to replace it

We had been looking for a while, knowing a replacement was going to be necessary “soon” – so we already knew we wanted a brewer that would do both k-cups and brew regular coffee into a carafe

Keurig has a few that will do this, as do some other brands – but most of the reviews for them are…less than hearty praise

The two Ninja models we were considering, though, the CFP201 and CFP301 were very well rated

And for an added bonus – they were not more expensive than comparable Keurig models

However, I still wasn’t relishing the idea of paying well over $200 for a coffee maker :/

Thankfully, we didn’t have to

Kohl’s had a sale on Ninja appliances last week, and we has stackable coupons (percent and actual dollars off) plus Kohl’s rewards available (if you used them in store)…so to our local store I went (about 20 minutes before closing)

Picked up the Ninja DualBrew Pro CFP301 for almost 40% off their normal list price, and grabbed some rooibos stick tea, too, to try out

Been using it less than a week, but so far it’s fantastic

It has more brew size selections than the Keurig models, and will brew for specialty uses (over ice, etc) “natively”

It heats up water and starts brewing faster than any standalone brewer I’ve used (ie not connected to the wall for water)

There’s also a bypass control to get just got water – without it going through the brewpod adapter

My wife enjoyed me frothing her London fog latte’s milk a couple days ago, too 🙂

What complaints do we have [so far]?

Not many…and maybe they won’t be a big deal to you, but these are the drawbacks we’ve seen this far:

  • it’s really big – it’s probably got a 10% larger footprint than our old (and large) Keurig
  • if you choose to move the reservoir to the back, it juts way too far from the wall – and will not sit on the pod drawer we have
  • switching between operation modes is quick…but gosh! There are a lot of options!

Haven’t had a chance to try carafe brewing yet, but I can still give this brewer a very solid ??

pan-fried hamburgers

Made some hamburgers the other night, and they came out better than expected – always a plus ?

  • 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/8c quick oats
  • Kinder’s buttery steakhouse rub
  • <1/8c Italian bread crumbs

Mix together like you’re going to make meatloaf

Divvy into 8 ~2oz balls – pack hand-tight

Preheat frying pan on medium-low heat (~3.5 on my stovetop)

Press meatballs slightly flat in pan

When they look done enough to flip, flip and press flat with your spatula

Remove from heat – adding cheese if desired – and serve when they’re done to your liking

Each hamburger will have ~12g protein, ~11g fat, and ~1g carbs

burger king “coffee” isn’t

I went through a Burger King drive-thru recently on my way to a customer office to get a drink. It being relatively early in the day, I thought getting a coffee would be a Good Ideaâ„¢.

It was not.

It was bad. Really bad.

It was coffee-colored and -scented hot water.

I cannot recall the last time I had something so mislabeled sold to me.

char steakhouse, raritan nj

I got taken out (along with several other people) recently to Char Steakhouse in Raritan NJ.

The food was nice, and the service was decent – but for $50+ per person, it should be AMAZING. And it wasn’t.

There was nothing wrong with the food, and indeed the sides were several steps above a Logan’s or Outback … but the steaks were no better. Which is sad.

If someone else is paying, though, it’s an ok place to go.

gardening efficiently – for fun and profit

I have gardened off and on for most of my life. Back in the 1980s, there was a show called “Square Foot Gardening” on PBS hosted by Mel Bartholomew. Now there is a website. When we lived in Albany, we purchased the book Square Foot Gardening (which has been updated and simplified even further by Mel Bartholomew in the intervening years, and is now titled All New Square Foot Gardening (I reviewed SFG a while back)). I also own a copy of the companion text, CA$H from Square Foot Gardening – though I never put any of the suggestions into practice for personal money-making.

In college, I took a course on the culture of food, and my term paper was entitled, “Eating off the Grid” (intro page and associated diagrams). The basic premise of the paper was that an efficiently-designed, efficiently-grown, and strategically-planned small garden can provide for individuals, families, or even whole neighborhoods – all with minimal up-front investment, and reduced on-going care cost and effort.

With a recent rise on the popularity of “locavore” eating, and the relative increase in observed popularity of canning, farmer’s markets, etc, it seems that for many people, growing at least some of their own food should be a “no brainer”.

My wife and I have had a small (6×6) garden in our backyard for a couple years. Out of that space, we [typically] get not only a substantially better harvest than her dad does using a 50×100 plot in “garden farming” (aka, the “traditional” method of gardening, wherein folks try to grow miniaturized farms instead of scaling-up window gardens) – just a small example, the dozen or so hand melon vines he had took 1/4 of the total ground space of his garden … which is nuts!

I love making salsa, for example – this past summer out of just 4 plants, I got 4x more serrano peppers than I could use … and I can use a lot of serrano peppers 🙂

The basics of SFG are easy – build a 4’x4′ box at least 6″ deep (full plans and kits are available in the books and on the website – or you can see the end of the paper I wrote). The soil mix is also easy – peat moss, compost (which you will be able to create on your own going forward once you start gardening, if you have a small space in the back part of your yard), and vermiculite. Everything is organic, and because the individual plots are so small, keeping-up with weeds is a cinch.

I’m not going to replicate everything in the books here – they’re just too chock-full to do full justice in a blog post, and they’re so accessible without being condescending, that I can’t give a higher recommendation to read and own them.

replace the restaturant buzzer

Somebody needs to replace the ubiquitous restaurant buzzer with either an SMS- or smartphone-based tool: when you put your name on the waiting list, you give them your phone number.

When your table is ready, they can buzz your phone.

Fewer moving parts for the restaurant. Fewer chances to lose stuff. Less crap to carry if you’re a customer.

And if you don’t have a phone anywhere in your party? Well, those few folks can get a buzzer.

bagel [thin] burgers

Several years ago I had the good fortune to have a burger paired with cream cheese on a rye bun.

And a few years later I had a burger on a bagel. I’ve also enjoyed bagels on Arnold sandwich thins.

Combining the best of both of these ideas, try bagel burgers (or on bagel thins) – with cream cheese.

Grill your burger to desired doneness while lightly toasting your bagel [thin].

Apply cream cheese to bagel and add your freshly-grilled burger.

Enjoy.

Of course, other favorite condiments and pairings could be added Рbacon, mushrooms, jalape̱o coins, etc.