Tangy-Spicey Chicken Dry-Rub

I whipped up a sweet dry rub last night after I got home from a great night of riding hills in Edmonton. I wanted something super quick, super easy, that I could leave in the oven and it’d come out great.

I find the best way to mix up a meat rub(mix of spices you literally rub onto the meat) is to use a mortar and pestle. First off, you feel like a bad ass chemist mixing things together in it, and it also does a great job of breaking up any chunkies that may have formed in your spices.

I found these proportions were about perfect for about 5 chicken breasts, or about 1kg of chicken.

The concoction:

4 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp of: Sweet Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Dried Oregano, Thmye

1 Tbsp Pepper

Rub that all nice like over the chicken until evenly coated. Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Place your chicken breasts in a small lasagna pan or pie plate and pour about 4 tbsp of lemon juice over the chicken so about the botton 0.5cm of the dish is filled with lemon juice, it shouldn’t take a lot of your pieces are packed in pretty tight. Throw the chicken in, let it go for 40 minutes, flip the pieces at about the 20 minute mark, and enjoy.

 

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People Watching For Self-Improvement

As I walk to and from work, university, and to get groceries, I like to “People Watch”. This isn’t nearly as creepy as it sounds, but basically as you are walking, commuting, or whatever, pay attention to the actions, postures, and general vibe of the people around you. This is something most of us don’t do, whether we are too busy texting, changing songs on our Ipod, or trying to avoid eye contact with random strangers. You’ll be amazed by how poorly 90% of people carry themselves, and with a little awareness you can avoid these same problems. I find that a lot of these have begun to help me with my own self-confidence, and as I continue to work on being aware of these things and correcting my own mistakes, I not only look better, but begin to feel better.

1) Observe the line of sight of others while they walk.

The majority of the time, especially on University campus, I notice people tend to look down as they walk. We do this subconsciously after years of avoiding eye contact with people, which I suspect stems back to our high school days. Once you realize you are constantly looking down, you will be super shocked and immediately begin to reverse this habit. First, you are now free to observe the world around you, other people, how nice the campus looks on a fall day, or a chance to make eye contact with that good looking guy or gal walking passed you. All of which are things you miss when you stare at the concrete sidewalk in front of you. Next, you’ll find that it naturally boosts your self-confidence. Walking with your head up and your shoulders back takes some time to perfect, but you’d be surprised at just how much of a difference this makes in the way you walk, and the way you feel when doing it. Add a smile in there, whether you are happy or not, and you’ll naturally start to feel like a million bucks. You’ll also begin to notice a lot more people looking at you wondering why you are in such a good mood, and probably brighten their own day in the process. A positive feedback loop if you will.

2) Look at what other’s are projecting.

Everyone projects something, and I’m not talking about stupidity or body odor.  This is a good exercise as the vast majority of the people you encounter subconsciously project a  negative self image of themselves. Next time you are on the train, bus, or at the bar, take a look at the way people hold themselves. Are they slouched over? Frowning, or do they generally look displeased? Perhaps, fidgeting or holding themselves awkwardly? You’d be surprised that just about everyone does these things. The few who don’t, who project confidence, a good posture, and a smile, will be noticeably more interesting. Why are they in such a good mood? What does he/she do? Etc. If you actively notice others doing this, you are far less likely to project a negative image yourself. If anything, say to yourself, I don’t know what their problem is, but am I ever glad that my life is not nearly as dull as theirs must be and smile about that. While being aware of your self-projection may not make a huge difference when you are walking to and from the bus everyday, practicing then makes it a habit for when it is more useful. You’ll naturally begin to broadcast a positive image  in social settings when you are trying to meet people such as at a conference or in the bar, making you much more approachable. This will allow you to focus less on you’re own body language, and more on having a good time, and interacting with others.

3) Listen to how strangers interact when they first meet.

This is an often hilarious and insightful learning experience. Far to often it sounds like people are conducting job interviews on each others and you fully expect a resume to be produced. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, but no one loves playing 20 questions with mundane canned responses to generic, canned questions.  If you notice this habit, try not to fall into the awkward trap. The trick is to not stop asking questions when you meet strangers, rather, drill deeper into interesting topics you both have in common, or that they’ve brought up that you’d like to learn more about. The best thing you can do is show interest in a persons hobbies, they’ll feel important and you’ll have probably learned a couple of cool facts about the person by the time you’re encounter is done. As you meet someone, the objective shouldn’t be to learn everything about someone in one shotgun blast of suck, but rather to pick a topic, engage at a deeper level, and slowly uncover more about the person you are interacting with as you move through related topics. Generally you will uncover a lot more about someone this way, you will build rapport at a deeper level, and often walk away having learned something completely unexpected about a topic you knew nothing about.

When you do see a conversation that is going well, pay attention! Notice how more often then not they are in a deep discussion about something in common. Generally the questions become more and more specific, or are a natural progression based on a single set of related topics. Notice the congruity. Your discussions don’t have to involve rocket science, the  meaning of life, and  they can and should be super playful as well(tone this back a bit if you are in a business situation). If you can learn to do this, you’ll find yourself not only a lot more entertained, but arguably having met a new friend, or a future business contact, that you now know a lot more about.

So there you have it, 3 simple tasks that you can do everyday. They don’t require active participation, but they do require you to observe social interaction at a deeper level. They are pretty straight forward, and hopefully you can use them to break the standard mold of our introverted, and often socially awkward generation. Like always, if you have feedback feel free to leave it below, I’d love to hear some different opinions, or similar things you like to do!

Super Simple Pork Tenderloin Rub

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything food related here, I’ve been busy. After a tough two hour bike ride tonight, I decided that I should reward my legs with some protein. Naturally the grocery store had pork tenderloin greatly discounted so I bought a bunch. There are many different ways to marinade Pork Tenderloin, but most of those involve at least a couple of hours of refrigeration so I decided to do a rub instead, which would be pretty much ready to go instantly. I was really surprised at how simple, and yet how tasty this was so I thought I’d share it, even if Scott, my one faithful follower tries it out.

Anyway, you can play with the amounts a little bit, but I used about these proportions for 700 grams or just over 1 pound of PT.

2.5 Tbsp of Brown Sugar

1 tsp of: Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, and Cumin

1/2 tsp Salt & Pepper

That’s it, throw those in a bowl and mix. I have a mortar and pestle which made it really easy to grind it into a well mixed rub with no little chunkies. The next step is to throw that in a zip lock bag with your Pork, and shake profusely. Once it looks fairly evenly coated its a simple matter of throwing them on a preheated bbq at medium/high heat. Turn every 5 minutes and pull your meat off the grill at about 18 minutes if you like it a bit rarer/juicier or 20 if you want it a bit more well done and are afraid of any pink meat. Super simple, super tasty, sweet, tangy, and a bit of a kick. If you want it a bit spicier, you could always up the Chili Powder and maybe even throw in 1 tsp of Cayenne Pepper.

The finished product, super tasty!
The finished product, super tasty!

Heroku, Express & Node Bug – 500 TypeError: Object # has no method ‘randomBytes’

I decided I needed to write a post about this error, because the solution took me forever to find, so hopefully some poor soul stumbles across this and doesn’t waste as much time on this as I had to.

Basically if you get a nasty error output from your app when it is live on heroku, the first step is to type “heroku logs” into your terminal. This command pulls your app’s HTTP logs and spits it on screen.

Here was what I recieved:

Error: Can’t use mutable header APIs after sent.

[web.1]: at app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/errorHandler.js:64:17
[web.1]: at next (/app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/proto.js:199:15)
[web.1]: at ServerResponse.<anonymous> (/app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/logger.js:149:20)
[web.1]: at generate (/app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/session.js:288:13)
[web.1]: at [object Object].<anonymous> (fs.js:107:5)
[web.1]: at wrapper (fs.js:245:17)
[web.1]: TypeError: Object #<Object> has no method ‘randomBytes’
[web.1]: at ServerResponse.getHeader (http.js:543:11)
[web.1]: at [object Object].emit (events.js:61:17)
[web.1]: at Object.session [as handle] (/app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/session.js:297:7)
[web.1]: at next (/app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/proto.js:199:15)
[web.1]: throw new Error(“Can’t use mutable header APIs after sent.”);
heroku[web.1]: Process exited with status 1
[web.1]: at Object.methodOverride [as handle] (/app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/methodOverride.js:37:5)
app[web.1]: ^
app[web.1]: at ServerResponse.<anonymous> (/app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/session.js:277:36)
[web.1]: at Object.uid (/app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/utils.js:117:17)
[web.1]: at Object.cookieParser [as handle] (/app/node_modules/express/node_modules/connect/lib/middleware/cookieParser.js:60:5)

While this isn’t the most useful error output, at least to me, some extensive google searching told me that this happens as a result of incompatible Framework versions. Essentially my version of Express was attempting to call methods that don’t exist on the default version of Node.js that Heroku provides.

The Fix! You can read here. Basically you need to specify which version of Node.js you want Heroku to use with your app. I have no porting issues at this point, so I’ve opted for Node.js 0.8.x.

Hope that helps someone, happy devving!

Increase SEO by Linking Your G+ Account To Your Web Pages

One of the first tasks I was responsible for at Mover is linking our blog post articles to our Google Plus profiles. By doing this, Google can then index our search results using verified authors giving our posts greater credibility. Furthermore, the micro-profile of the author will show up under any indexed search results that they are the other of. This feature was released in the middle of 2012.

This is a very simple process:

1) Link to your G+ profile on your web page, and include a ref=”author” tag:

<a href=”[URL TO G+ PROFILE]” ref=”author”>Your Name</a>

Adding ref=”author” informs Google’s web crawlers that they should include the author in search results.

2) Edit your Google Plus Account

To complete the authentication loop, Google will examine your profile to see if you are indeed a contributor, preventing you or others from falsely linking authors to posts or articles. You can update your “contributions” by clicking this link.

Finally, verify that Google’s article profiler can index your newly added author information properly be entering the URL of your site into this tool: http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

Poppy Seed Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This morning I baked two loaves of Cinnamon Swirl Bread which turned out awesome and tasted even better. For those of you who aren’t aware, this stuff has characteristics of bread mixed with the sugary goodness of a cinnamon bun, making it tough to go wrong. During my previous attempt I used a recipe that worked alright but was drier than I would have preferred. This time I found a new recipe that worked much better. I recently picked up a big container of poppy seeds from the Italian Center with the goal of incorporating it into more of the baking I do. Where I’m from in Medicine Hat, you can often purchase Poppy Seed bread from the local Hutterites which tastes amazing. That memory was my inspiration for giving this a go. The recipe is super easy and is a great confidence booster for getting more creative with your baking.

The finished product.

Anyways, the ingredients are pretty standard:

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (.25 ounce == 1.5 tsp ) envelope active dry yeast
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
melted butter for brushing
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Optional:
1/2 cup of poppy seeds

You could probably add raisins as well, although I’m not a huge fan.

Kneading

After experimenting a great deal with Tartine bread making I’ve adapted their final shaping technique for kneading purposes. It not only works the dough to increase gluten development, but aerates it as well making the dough nice and fluffy. Anyway, once you’ve thoroughly mixed your bread dough in step 1, you’ll have the need to knead. How I do it:

-Press down the dough into a thick pancake, or square, like shape

-Grab the 1/3 of dough nearest you, stretch it towards yourself and fold over the middle 1/3 of the dough

-Grab the left 1/3 of the dough, stretch away from the loaf, and then fold over the middle 1/3 so only the right 1/3 is uncovered

-Repeat with the right 1/3

-Finally, repeat with the “top”(furthest 1/3 of the dough)

-You should now have a nice “package”, flip the loaf over so that it looks like a round ball, and press down into the same shape you began with

Repeat this until the dough becomes really solid and hard to stretch. I think I repeated this process about  4 – 5 times before it seemed really good.

The “Filling”

Instead of brushing the melted butter over the rectangles you’ve made and then sprinkling with brown sugar, I left the melted butter in a measuring cup and continued adding brown sugar to it until it was a nice thick paste. Once you have that, you can then add in the cinnamon, mixing and tasting until you have the right combination you desire. Finally you can add your poppy seed to the mixture so that the bread innards can all be applied in one shot. I found this a much more consistent way of making sure that it gets distributed properly. Furthermore since it was in more of a liquid form, the bread seemed to absorb a lot more of the flavor. Once you’ve got that, then its as simple as spreading your mixture evenly like a spread over your two loaves.

Directions

  1. Place flour, white sugar, salt, and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. In a bowl, whisk together egg, melted butter, warm milk, and vanilla extract; pour into the flour mixture. Using dough hook attachment, mix on low until the flour is moistened and a dough forms, then increase speed to medium, and continue kneading until smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Place dough into a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Punch down dough, turn out onto a floured work surface, and divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 1/3 inch thick rectangle. Brush each square with melted butter. Mix together cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the two rectangles.
  4. Roll each firmly into a log, pinch the ends closed, and tuck them underneath. Place each into a greased, glass loaf pan. Cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  6. Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter(This adds a bunch of flavor, don’t skip), then bake in preheated oven until loaves are golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes.

2012-12-17 23.11.28

The Next Gen and the Environment(A Letter To My MP)

This is perhaps my longest post to date, but is one of the few I really care about and hope you’ll take the time to read. I don’t claim to be the most politically involved person, far from it. But I can no longer ignore the fact that we, after a relatively short stint of existence as a species, have already managed to “Fuck Up” the Earth quite badly. After tomorrow, if all things go well, I will be spending a year of my life completing a paid internship with a really cool company. I view this year as an opportunity to not only develop the skills I will need to become an entrepreneur in the future, but also as an opportunity to reflect on who I am and continue the evolution of who I hope to become in my lifetime.

This next year will be an opportunity to spend time doing things I’ve always shrugged off as requiring more time, more money, or more will power to do. As the first act of this, I am making it my goal to not only be better informed about our changing climate but to actually do something about it. Today I received from the Green Party of Canada stating:

“On December 15th, Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol will take legal effect. Canada will be the only nation out of more than 180 to legally exit the protocol. It is the first treaty in the history of Canada that we have ever ratified and then repudiated and quit. This decision threatens Canada’s standing in the world and, more importantly, our children’s future.

Please take a moment now to write your MP, and let them know that Canada’s environment and the world’s future is important to you and your children.”

While I was already quite aware of this, which resulted in me signing up in the mailing list in the first place, I actually decided to man up, and took the time to write Linda Duncan an email as a very minuscule step towards accomplishing my first resolution. I know it’s going to take much more than an email to make a difference, and I plan on writing about what I else I plan to do and will be carrying out in the coming year.

Nevertheless, I highly encourage all of you to do the same if you agree with what I’ve stated below. I think it’s time we all start voicing our opinion on the matter. For the most part, when it comes down to it I know all of you care about the environment. Whether it’s to camp, snowboard, hunt, or whatever else your prerogative is, we all love the outdoors. I really don’t care if you recycle bits, or even all of this email, just please take the time to send a message to your MP:

Dear Linda,

As a university student in the middle of studying for final examinations, I find it deeply frustrating that while I should be spending time preparing for my test tomorrow, I am writing my first ever email to my Member of Parliament over a topic that I would have believed Canada of all countries would be smart enough to concern ourselves with.

As you are no doubt aware, Canada will become the first and only country out of over 180 participants to both ratify and repudiate the Kyoto Accord on December 15th. I understand that as an Albertan, we receive great benefit from the Oil Sands located here. We have a vibrant economy, and many of the jobs created in my own future line of work as a Computer Scientist will be the result of our province’s ability to extract and refine oil products.

That being said, I also find it deeply alarming that despite the massive repercussions scientists have not only predicted, but shown direct evidence of, we still have found a way to ignore the harmful effects we are causing our own environment.

While we may not be the greatest producer of green house gasses, emissions, or toxic chemicals, it is our responsibility to set an example as a country that claims to be both educated and economically dependent on our natural resources for both tourism and the production of manufactured goods, sources of food, and raw materials.

Furthermore, I find it increasingly alarming that as a 21 year old male who should be living a carefree lifestyle and enjoying my youth, I am instead being forced to take action now in thought of not only the children I, my classmates, and my friends, may not even consider having in this current decade, but also my grand children and beyond. Mean while, “wise” adults that we entrust and pay handsomely to represent current and future Canadians that preach respect, a tradition of leadership, and looking out for not only Canadians but everyone on this earth cannot even be bothered to ensure that I will not see my home town of Medicine Hat Alberta become a drought stricken desert by the time I’m old and grey as a result of our ignorance towards the changing climate we have helped create.

There is no doubt about it, my peers and I are the most intelligent, informed, and connected generations to have walked this earth although we don’t always show it. The vast majority of us have accepted that everyone is unique, gay marriage isn’t a big deal, equal rights for all ethnicities and both genders isn’t a privilege, it’s a right, and that we are willing to make some sacrifices to ensure that we do not do irreparable damage to the world we live in. Whether that means increasing our own income taxes, imposing additional charges on unsustainable goods and services, or better yet focusing on not only reducing, but eliminating the need to create harmful emissions, I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say we are willing to help make that happen and support these tough changes if it means a future filled with more Ozone.

As a triathlete, a distance runner, a cyclist, and a cross country skier I enjoy having four seasons and even the experience of a bitter winter that Edmonton often imposes upon us. I spend the majority of my free time enjoying the outdoors and don’t want that to change.

Earlier this month I made my first ever political affiliation with the Green Party as a result of Canada’s actions, or lack thereof, as a player in reversing what we’ve already done to our global climate. Moreover, this email is being written as a direct result of the plea that was waiting for me in my inbox to contact my MP on this topic this evening.

The older I get the more I have begun to realize that standing idly by waiting for that dream job to present itself, the love of your life to fall into your arms, and someone to take care of our climate just isn’t going to happen. Our generation is willing to make a change, I hope that’s clear. We just need direction and a little shove to get us going.

For that reason, I look forward to your response, offering insight as to what my peers and I can do to make a difference and help make climate change a larger priority not only with your party, but for all Canadians.

Regards,

Derek Dowling

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Finally, if you have any suggestions, or comments, feel free to leave a message below on what we can be doing, or things we should be aware of in an effort to impact Canada’s efforts on Global Warming.