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I found some corned beef on super-clearance at Hannaford. Hmm, it’s not corned beef season, but it is grill season, which means pastrami/smoked corned beef was on my menu.

I smoked it for a few hours on a grill with apple wood scraps from when the tree was trimmed earlier this year.
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Let it cool & chill overnight, then started slicing. The eating happened quickly. “Mmm, this is good. Wait. Must get picture.”
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Albany John made up a sliced meat platter.
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Pastrami!

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My house is a never ending series of projects, which is both good and bad for my “I hate downtime” type A personality. It means I always want to start a new project, but finishing… well, sometimes the project lingers when I find a new project. But laying linoleum is an easy project, which is satisfying on the “Done” checklist of house projects.
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I wasn’t terribly keen on linoleum as a flooring material in my house, but when one of your rooms has no floor and it’s been driving your Type A-self nuts for months… well, linoleum starts looking a heck of a lot more attractive. It’s cheap, it’s easy… okay, I’ll give it a try. If it gets wrecked pretty quickly, it’s not like you’re out a whole heck of a lot.
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So, you get everything out of the room, then sweep and shopvac all of the stuff off of the floor that may have been there from lord knows when.
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Then you begin moving the baseboards, which is probably the most difficult and time consuming task of the entire project. Above are the tools I used. A crowbar, a hammer, a metal scraper, and a small wedge of wood. I wedged the scraper in between the baseboard and the wall to wiggle a bit and loosen things up. Then when it loosened up a bit, put the wood on the wall, wedge in the crowbar, and push the crowbar against the baseboard and the wedge of wood. The wood helps protect the walls from the pressure of the crowbar. Luckily my baseboards were only nailed in and not glued & nailed.
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I’ve heard of sealing a penny in the walls for good luck. Maybe that’s what this is.
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Does a pencil sealed in the walls mean anything?
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Once the baseboards are removed, vacuum the place up again to get rid of all the old dust behind the walls. This should also go without saying, but make sure you wear junky clothes. Home repairs has taught me to have a separate wardrobe for wrecking with house repairs (which are mainly my freebie shirts and some old long pants).
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Hey, look at all of those removed baseboards. Great job, you didn’t damage the walls any more than they already are.
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I didn’t bother pre-cutting the linoleum to the approximate measurement of the room, which is what I hear would have been “easier” but it was still also easy to just unfurl the whole roll of linoleum and cut it to size against the room, too. Either way, pick your preference. Give a 1/4″ or so of wiggle room for expansion and contraction (i.e. don’t get it completely up against the walls).

I bought a big roll of faux-wood linoleum from Grossman’s Bargain Outlet here in Latham. You tell them how many feet you need, and they’ll cut you off a length, roll it up, and there you go. The linoleum selection is more geared for bathrooms or kitchens (with fake stone/tile patterns), so the fake wood print is kind of the best option for a bedroom. I bought something like 17 x 12 feet and it was about $157. I still have a lot of excess of the roll since you have to buy the width of the linoleum, which was a few feet longer than I needed for the room, but I may just use that to redo the hallway outside of this bedroom, which has plastic tile on it. Actually, it has pieces of plastic tile on it and one of those “slip safe” carpets over it. Whenever we’d remove the slip safe carpeting the cat would run on the hallway like it was a runway, so the tiles chipped pretty easily, and… yeah. Any way, I think I have a use for the excess width.
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I just floated the linoleum floor, which means I just rolled it out, smoothed it over a few times to get rid of any air bubbles or warping from laying it down in the first place, and then nailed the baseboards back over the top (and it looks like I forgot to take pictures of the baseboards actually back on the walls, but worry not – they are up). It doesn’t seem like it’ll keep the floor from moving around, but it does. The whole project took just under 4 hours to compete, about $150 in materials, requires not of fancy tools, and is pretty hard to screw up.

Mountain Man came for a visit from Colorado for a few weeks. Albany John and Mountain Man went to SUNY Albany together, so he’s familiar with Albany, but it has changed since he went to school here. Thankfully, he likes eating and being outdoors, so we’re in good company. The bar for good food is pretty low where he lives in Colorado. Between most things getting trucked in and the elevation, there isn’t a ton of fresh/good food or variety where he lives.

We took him to Ala Shanghai for some real Chinese food. He told us some pretty horrific “Chinese” food take out stories in CO. He was so happy to have real dumplings, and that fresh whole steamed fish… man. So good.

Evidently the only cheap things in CO are the beer and alcohol, heh.

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Sushi is a crapshoot where Mountain Man is from. He’s in a touristy town and the elevation does something funny to the rice. We went to Sushi X. I know it’s not the greatest sushi ever, but there is something alluring about AYCE rock shrimp, grilled squid, and some fairly decent sushi rolls and sashimi.
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For $25 a person or so, it’s a pretty decent dinner out. Check off what you want on the order slips. Everything is made to order and quality is decent for what it is, and the selection is pretty wide. I’ve noticed that they don’t quite fill your order slips fully. A few orders might get left off, but eh, that’s what round 2 of ordering is for.
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We continued the Albany New Things tour by going to Nine Pin Cider Tasting Room downtown. The day we went was when they also had “Ciders & Sliders”, pairing up with Slidin’ Dirty serving up in their garage.
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The Nine Pin Flight was okay, though they only half-filled two of the flights for no particular reason, which was kind of a rip. We also got a bottle of cider to share and surreptitiously sip on with burgers.
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Sliding Dirty had a long ass line queuing when we got there. For me, the crowd was a bit overwhelming, but thankfully a friend was nice enough to wait in line for me.
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Sliding Dirty will put your burger on a tortilla if you’re celiac/doing the gluten-free thing, though if you are a true celiac their presentation may pose an issue for you, as they didn’t separate the tortillas from the bun-ed burgers, so gluten cross-contamination may be an issue for the very sensitive.

I thought the sliders were okay, but the price point kind of kills me at $4 per slider. You’d need at least 2 sliders for a meal if you’re peckish, at least 3 if you’re hungry, so you’re looking at a good $8-12 to start for sliders. When I think sliders I think “affordable”, and $8-12 to start for sliders isn’t what I really think of as affordable. FWIW, I hear they are trying to move to all local grass-fed beef in the future, which would at least rationalize the price point somewhat. I’m also not a huge fan of the bread-to-meat ratio on sliders in general, so I’m likely not Slidin Dirty’s target market. I’d just rather get a steak to grill at home for $12, or an actual burger somewhere else with a lower bun-to-meat ratio if I’m feeling burger-y. What the hey, lots of folks seem to like them, and they’ve just opened up a physical location, so this is just my curmudgeonly take on the slider fad.
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City Beer Hall was one of the final stops on the Newish In Albany Tour. Mystery buckets and brown liquor to round out a visit.

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Ah, the joys of the swine. I picked up a ~10lb package of “Kurobuta” pork baby back ribs for $3.65/lb. What a steal. And while there is a high amount of bone in baby back ribs, 10 lbs of baby back ribs is a lot. 10 lbs is a great amount for a party.
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Once the package thawed out, I separated the ribs into two containers to season and marinate.

 

 

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Guess what’s really easy to make? Galbi marinade. You can use bosc pear if you can’t find Asian pears. Super yummy, and not as dark as the store-bought kind.
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Half of the ribs got slathered in galbi (which wound up being very mildly flavored, but did a great job for tenderizing).
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The other half got rubbed with rib-a-licious spices. You know – some sugar, some paprika, some chili powders, some salt, some black pepper, some mustard… a little of this, a little of that. And generously packed on each rib section.
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Then they sit (covered) in the fridge overnight. The fridge will smell amazing.
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Then it’s time for grilling! A rib rack is really awesome and fairly necessary for a grill when making baby back ribs. They’re so thin and small that you don’t really want them to lay flat on the grill. And a rib rack saves space, you can cram more ribs on the grill to cook at the same time.
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All lined up.

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I used the “cowboy” style charcoal, and let the ribs sit for about 60-90 minutes, covered.

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Hello, darlings! The meat retracts while cooking, the rib bones pop out a bit, and a nice lacquer forms on the outside of each rib.
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Done.
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Now I’m just hoping Albany John and I finish our never-ending living room renovation project so we can have a big housewarming party and serve up some of these ribs.

Check it out, Soul Cafe is expanding from Troy to Albany. Their first shinding is next Monday, June 30th! I went to the planning potluck, and this is sure to be an awesome time (plus there’s parking!).

-AJ

Soul Café Albany
Cuban Night with Chris Faraci (Carmen’s Café, Troy)
Monday, June 30, 6-8 PM
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Albany, NY
$3 suggested donation
The first Soul Café Albany community meal will take place on Monday, June 30 from 6-8 PM at the Westminster Presbyterian Church on 262 State Street (parking lot entrance at 85 Chestnut Street) in Albany. There is a suggested base donation of $3 for this volunteer-run dinner (no one will be turned away). Denison Farm, the Honest Weight Food Co-op, Placid Baker, and other businesses donate culled produce for the cooks to prepare.
This month’s theme is Cuban Night, with a menu created by Chris Faraci of Carmen’s Café in Troy.
We are looking forward to working together to break bread in the community.
For more information, contact soulcafealbany@gmail.com.
More information can also be found on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/soulcafealbanyny
Carmen’s Café: http://carmenscafetroy.com/
Honest Weight Food Co-op: http://www.hwfc.com

So I’ve legally been an adult for 10 years now. Here are some reflections and a note to my 18-year old self:

The first few years felt tough, but you get over it. You feel like you won’t find a place in the world, or your “thing”, but you do. It’ll just take longer than you think it will, but you’ll get there.

Also, you never really get “there” because you’re always changing and evolving. You keep learning and the more you learn, the less you realize you know. It’s humbling and awesome. Keep trying to be a better person. We still need to work on the whole “empathy” thing, but maybe in 10 years we’ll have some positive change to report back on.

Friendships change, people change, priorities change, death happens. Enjoy the moment, you can’t change everything.

You bought a house. Seriously!

This blogging thing is awesome – you would not believe how many awesome things happen just from spewing out words on the internet. Seriously, so many awesome things.

You get to have fun, crazy hair! And it gets thicker in your late 20s. Or it might just be that new awesome stylist you found. But maybe both. Still, hope this stylist doesn’t leave town any time soon.

You would not believe how much more freedom you have in your late 20s versus your early 20s. Early 20s = “OMG, I am going to be broke forever.”. Late 20s = still budget conscious, but you get to have fun every now and again, like going out for dinner with friends once or twice a week without having to insanely budget, or buying new sneakers when you want to.

You’ll have a different perspective on weight than a lot of people you encounter. You’re smaller now than when you were in high school. You’re not super tiny, but some folks will call you that. It’s flattering, but you’ve also developed a passion for fitness, so you do work for it (though it feels more like play). It may be the glibness of being thinner, but you really don’t give a crap about what you weigh or what size you are because you realize you’re one heck of a lady regardless of your size/weight.

You’re still not entirely sure if you want to birth your own kids, though you’re opening up to the idea of caring for them and having them around your house (probably hormones, but also a bit of realizing the world is larger than you and your parents would like to have another new little life in the family).

Still haven’t found a vacation city that tops Montreal. You’ve traveled to a bunch of places, but there is something about Montreal that is just awesome.

Stay Hungry Kid,
AJ

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My BFF & sister-in-law Maka was up for a girls’ weekend while Albany John and his brother CVS went to Dippikill for a guys’ weekend. I took her to Vent Guilderland (aka the best Vent at the moment) for a spa day of sauna and massage table. Afterwards we went to Fin, which is right next door to Vent, for lunch. I grabbed a salmon cake on a croissant for like $8. I’m not sure where they’re getting their croissants from (they had a bunch of bread for sale from Bread & Honey in Albany), though it was a nice option for a bun without an additional upcharge. The croissant itself was tough and not very flaky.

The salmon cake itself was great. They had sold out of most of the salads for the day, but the sandwich came dressed with plenty of green, so it was almost like a salad with a croissant on the side. It also came with some garlic aioli, and while I usually detest mayo, it was so good I just pretended it was some magically delicious sauce that didn’t contain mayo.
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Maka got shrimp cake salad, which she thought was great. I also snagged a bite and really liked it. So good.There are some long communal tables at the front of their store, and we ate right there.

We both were incredibly pleased with the value of the lunches, too. We both had satisfying lunches with sustainably sourced seafood for under $9 per person! Who says sustainable has to be expensive?

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