With so much of my time spent away from the site in the past 4-6 weeks, I thought I’d give a “here’s roughly what’s been going on” round-up. I had intended for a lot of this to turn into their own stand-alone posts but this will be faster.
On the Cooking, Recipe, and Food Front …
After enjoying Indian food while visiting our friend Jimmy in Chicago last week, Aaron and I broke out our copy of Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Cooking to try and see if we could find a few dishes that we really enjoyed. We started with Royal Chicken in Silky White Almond Sauce (Shahi Murgh Badaami). Measuring out the spices was like being at the perfume counter of a department store. I’m not sure what we’ll try next. I want one or two things we can add to our permanent recipe file; that we make on-demand from memory because they are so delicious.
Our first attempt had a bit too much cardamom, which overwhelmed the flavor. I think it was because they were so fresh.
Aaron made these delicious chocolate espresso crinkle cookies, which began by melting chocolate with butter …
… and, along with some other ingredients, creating this core mixture that was amazing.
He had to turn the batter into these fudge-like balls then coat them in two sugars, granulated and powdered.
Then, he baked them and they had to rest. The insides, made up of the Ghirardelli chocolate, became this molten center that melted in your mouth when you bit into them (at least 1-2 hours after they came out of the oven, though they were still good later), with a kick of coffee beans. The utterly insane part? Each cookie had only 140 calories. It was a case of using truly decadent ingredients, in the right way, to end up with a final product that knocked it out of the park.
We also made a Japanese dish, Nikujaga. There aren’t very many ingredients in it but the flavors … oh man, the flavors. We liked it so much we had it three times in a single week.
You extract all this delicious beef flavor and concentrate it down in a bit of soy sauce and sugar, along with onions and potatoes. The whole thing becomes more and more intense as the liquid evaporates.
Finally, you get this mouth-watering finished product that packs a huge flavor punch. Opt for a better chuck roast cut if you can and the quality of the Nikujaga goes through the roof. I might need to make this tomorrow. Seeing the pictures is inducing cravings. Done right, it’s that good.
It’s nice to be able to go out and cut roses whenever we want to put throughout the house.
… after a week or two, it passed and petals were everywhere, like a movie scene. We now need to clean out the flower bed, replace the mulch, and apply a bit of fertilizer to get them ready for summer.
Oh! And I know this is completely one of those adult things that when you’re young you probably don’t think about much (it’s up there with utility bills and shopping around to find good health insurance for those of you in high school or college) but this, right here, is what happiness looks like. The neighborhood hired a new chemical company to treat the lawns and they are golf-course perfect. I’m not sure when that magic line happens in a person’s head that something this inconsequential matters – 30 years old, maybe? – but if you’re of a certain age, you probably appreciate this as much as I do. It’s like a pillow. I wonder what’s next … how old do you need to be to suddenly start developing an appreciation for the smooth, buttery taste of Werther’s Originals hard candies?
We started the spring cleaning process, selling, donating, and giving away a lot of stuff. Every few years, we tend to change the house and we’ve already decided that if and when we move, the next go-around we’re going all-out Korean minimalism to the extreme. I’m not sure what we’ll do with all of this stuff.
We want open spaces everywhere (bonus points for spotting Poor Charlie’s Almanack – Aaron is in the middle of his occasional re-reading of it).
On the Operating Business Front …
The sporting goods business, one of the few I talk about publicly, is working on a massive re-platforming project as part of its 10 year anniversary rollout, which is the biggest technological overhaul in the history of the company. We’ll be able to customize pricing tiers by customer relationship (e.g., a private school that orders 500+ completed jackets per year can have a completely personalized experience based on their login, with everything tailored to them), customers will be able to design and save pre-made jackets to review in the future, track the progress of manufacturing in near real-time as updates are fed into their personalized account management page. Even better, the monitoring capabilities I’ll have from a device such as an iPhone will let me see what everyone on the site is doing in real time, when cash is captured by the merchant bank, the value of all shopping carts outstanding, and a host of other small things that give me more data. It is expected to go live sometime later this month though I haven’t gotten the final date, yet.
Aaron and I are also starting another company, which I’ll write about later this summer. It came after significant pressure, over many years, from friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers, and me finally solving the problem of how to integrate it into my existing life without too much interruption. My attorneys suggested a way to solve everyone’s problems and we’re in the process of taking care of the regulatory requirements now but I don’t want to get into it too much until everything is finalized. Most of my days are spent thinking about and preparing for it.
The overhaul of this blog still needs to be completed, too. I can’t stand the broken links or scaling issues that haven’t been corrected, yet.
Kennon Green Enterprises has some bigger plans for later in this year, too, involving an intellectual property contract I need to oversee.
I agreed to increase my production at About.com as part of a project they’re doing.
I also have several personal projects going on, some of which you know about and others I haven’t mentioned.
All of these are, taken together and in conjunction with the out-of-state traveling we’ve done lately, has kept me away from the site. There are only so many hours in the day and, as you can tell from the lower post count, this hobby of mine gets pushed to the side. I can’t wait to get back to the regularly scheduled program – a post a day, on average – but there are things that need to be done first; things that are more important.
On the Video Game Front …
We bought Witcher 3 after the reviews said it is possibly the greatest Adventure RPG of all time, surpassing everything from Skyrim and Dragon Age to Fable. I’m hoping to start it this afternoon. Neither of us has any idea what to expect.
Like most other Civ addicts, I’ve stuck almost entirely with Civilization V because it’s so well developed following all of the expansions (just this morning, I had Austria march and army on Persia). Beyond Earth will likely get there but it just needs more time for the small things to be fixed. Though, they really need to do something about the exhausting color scheme. One of the great things about Civ V is you can play in all sorts of terrain – desert, lush jungle, wheat fields, snow … with Beyond Earth, there’s no variety. They’ve restricted the entire experience to a tiny portion of the color wheel, which gets really old after an hour or two.
Also in media: We finished a Korean drama called “Fated to Love You” on Netflix. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. We loved it so much we now have the soundtrack. If you’re into the genre, watch it.
On the Family Front …
You already saw us in Chicago here, here, here, here, and here. Before/after/during, here is what else was going on …
There was a new coffee shop that opened in town and my mom took Aaron and me out just to spend time together. I ended up bouncing ideas off her for the new business we’re starting. She doesn’t sugar-coat anything, which is tremendously helpful. (Like most of my friends and family, she doesn’t like being on the blog but it’s been so long I snuck a quick snapshot before she could hide.) She and my dad just got back from Anna Maria Island where she spent a couple weeks with one of my sisters, brother-in-law, and their kids.
They did a really good job on the details of this place … the coffee is perfect and the sandwiches high-quality.
My brother and his wife had the family over for dinner last night and we were checking out the nursery (roughly two months to go until our new niece is born!). The coolest part for me was they have already put out the piggy banks to teach good saving habits – the minion is for coins, Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is for greenbacks. I need to start getting the UTMA paperwork prepared so she has shares of stock within the first few days of being born. We’d have done it already but the name hasn’t been finalized, yet. Among the frontrunners, personally, I’m rooting for Abigail but we’ll see.
My brother is getting so excited to be a dad! He was showing off all the clothes they’ve picked out for her. He doesn’t stand a chance … Tara is going to be the disciplinarian. He hasn’t even met the girl, yet, and he’s hopelessly in love. I predict a lot of future tea parties, trips to baseball games, and Disney World vacations.
I did spend some time reviewing the oil and natural gas sectors this month. Oh! And speaking of Exxon Mobil …
… our niece received her first official proxy statement. It was Exxon Mobil! We originally called her on FaceTime and went through it, item by item, helping her cast her vote. A few days later, we saw her at grandma’s house and handed over the paperwork, explaining what it all meant. We tried not to influence her voting, only let her make up her own mind. She was in favor of setting a minimum quota of three female board members as well as performing a study on the compensation and leadership ratio of women to men in the Texas-based firm. In most cases, I eschew identity-driven metrics (I just want experience and an owner-friendly orientation) but she’s the stockholder. She gets to decide. My job is to guide; to explain the pros and cons until she can make up her own mind, using her own judgment. (Exxon Mobil has turned out to be a few of her firsts, now. Although Hershey was the first stock she owned, the energy giant sent her the first dividend deposit, the first annual report, and had her cast her first proxy vote.)
My input into investment lesson time was cut short, and Aaron graciously took over for me, because while explaining the charts, figures, and text, Vincent was scaling me like Mount Everest, asking to get my iPhone so we could take pictures and watch Play Dough Rescue Bots on YouTube. (I tried to explain to him how he now owns General Electric, which makes locomotives and jet engines, but he had other plans. He won the battle. I’ll win the war.)
In the midst of all of this, my cousin Isaac kept tricking me. “High five”. Remove hand. Unrestrained laughter at my stupidity. (Fun fact: Isaac’s grandma (my aunt) was the one to buy me the first Legend of Zelda on the original NES when I was five or six years old. In no small way, she is responsible for the video game addiction that has followed since that game captured my imagination like few since. Almost everything about it is still etched into my mind.) And … now I’m humming Ganon’s Dungeon theme. It was so freaking epic at the time!
Wait! Have you seen this video that showed the test results of attempting to figure out how the enemy movements in the original Legend of Zelda are determined? Watch this!
Otherwise, it’s work. A lot of work. There are things we need to be doing to position ourselves for where we want to be in 1, 3, and 5 years, especially since Aaron and I will be having kids of our own during that time period so they are roughly the same age as their cousins. That takes precedence over everything else. What was it Ray Kroc said? “The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.” This is the doing part; the part that doesn’t get shown on the blog; the until-three-or-four-in-the-morning sessions to line up another annuity stream bringing money into the CCDA; the research; the meetings; the conferences with advisors. I have three or four big things I want done before December 31st this year and they require a disproportionate amount of time, energy, and brain power; things that should pay off for a long time. I’m old enough, and wise enough, at this point in my life to know when both Aaron and I get in that zone, we need to ride the wave as long as we can.