Tofurkey Italian Sausage and Rice Recipie (Vegan)

This recipe is an old favorite of mine which is quick and easy to make with Tofurkey Italian sausage, onions, and green, red, and yellow peppers.

Ingredients:

1 Cup Cooked Brown Rice
2 Tofurkey Sausage Links
1/2 Cup of Mixed Peppers (Green, Yellow, and Red)
1/3 Cup of Onion
Cooking Oil
Preferred Seasonings

Preparation:

Cook the rice according to instructions and prepare your best cutter for some chopping.

Chop Tofurkey Italian Sausage Lentghwise

Chop each sausage along its length into 1/4 inch discs.

Quartered Pieces of Tofurkey Italian Sausage

Once done, stack the disks about half high and divide the stack into four bite sized pieces using two perpendicular cuts.

Chop the peppers equally into small pieces so they fill 1/2 cup.

Chop the onion into small pieces until you have 1/3 cup of onion.

Cooking:

Now, we will cook the ingredients.

Chopped Onions Frying

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your pan on medium heat and cook the onions until translucent. Remove the onions and place aside.

Red, Green, and Yellow Peppers Frying

Add the peppers and stir fry until peppers are cooked to preferred doneness. Remove the peppers and set aside.

Fry Tofurkey Italian Sausage

Add another tablespoon of oil and add the sausage. Season the sausage lightly with your favorite seasonings. I like a dash of seasoned salt and lots of seasoned pepper. Brown the sausage but don’t overcook it as most faux meats will dry up if cooked too long. If you overcooked the sausage and it tastes dry, simply add some water to the pan and stir. Remove the sausage and excess water from the pan.

Fry All Ingredients

Add two tablespoons of oil and stir fry the rice. Once the rice is at desired doneness, add the ingredients and stir up the meal.

Eating:

Serve the meal with vegetables and tea for lunch or dinner.

Serve and Enjoy

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Rich Strawberry Banana Vegan Smoothie

Fresh Strawberries

Fresh Strawberries in Blender

I spoke previously about the joys of eating natural healthy food so herein lies one of my favorite simple and easy to make in-between-meal delights.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Sweet Banana
  • 5 Fresh and Delicious Strawberries
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk of Preferred Flavor

Preparation:

Remove the strawberry stems and core from the strawberries. Peel the banana and place all ingredients into the blender. Add your favorite spices to taste– chocolate syrup, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, etc. Blend to desired smoothness. Pour smoothie into a large drinking glass. Five strawberries will make a thick drink so use less if you prefer more fluidity in your glass.

Consumption:

Don’t drink this smoothie yet!  Find the joy and pleasure you can derive from real unprocessed food.  Hold it up to the light and examine the smoothie closely with your eyes.  Note the drink is loaded with little bits of banana and strawberry bits. Place the glass under your nose and smell the aroma of this freshly blended drink of bliss.

Stems Removed and Banana In Blender Ready to Chop

Strawberries and Banana Ready to Blend

Now begin to slowly drink your drink. Pour some into your mouth, but don’t swallow it yet. Allow your tongue to feel the solid parts of the drink as the flow over your tongue. Allow your taste buds to note all three flavors: sweet from the banana, tart from the berries, and nutty from the milk. Let these sensations send your mind into euphoria. Enjoy a few more samples then finish it off as your desires command.

The pleasures from this drink continue long after the smoothie is down the hatch. Your stomach will thank you for filling it with the benefits of fiber. You will feel fuller and more satisfied knowing you took part of a  real food diet.

Vegan Banana Berry Smoothie Ready to Drink

Drink a Thick and Filling Vegan Smoothie

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Home Theater Madness

A female HDMI connector

Image via Wikipedia

High definition television stands among the hottest of the new technology trends in consumer electronics. My current receiver is ten years old and lacks many of the modern features of today’s choices such as HDMI, 7.1 channel surround, or HDMI standby pass-through. Much comparison shopping, planning, and analysis has gone on in my spare time to determine what receiver and which features to get. I am using the television’s optical out to connect to the Outlaw 1050’s input, in the mean time. In this configuration, every source that is on the screen can be heard on the surround speakers. This setup was supposed to temporary but I realized some things about home theater that in 15 years of using, I learned I don’t have right.

Today’s receivers are feature rich with a myriad of options to choose from. I can’t remember in all the years I have had surround sound, changing the mode settings or playing with the DSP. I know I played with those settings when the receiver was new. The receiver has been solely used to pump sound out of the speakers and lots of sounds from music to movies, and even computer games.  I rarely ever used the fancy sound processing settings in the receiver.

I was shopping for a receiver that makes the experience as easy to use as the Weebly website builder makes creating e-commerce and web sites. Yamaha has a model with a spectacular on-screen display that gets very good reviews for its ease of use. I have found the only one feature I would like to have is iPod integration.  Plugging an iPod into a three-foot analogue cable to get sound is annoying when your dancing around the home. Yamaha’s GUI brings the iPod to the screen for easy navigation. Apple provides their Airport Express adapter to get music on your amplifier, and other vendors offer their own solutions to help you get your music distributed from the computer to other places.

My final decision for the home theater is to plug both the satellite receiver and the DVD player into the television leaving the television output connected into the receiver. The television has so many inputs that it can function as the receiver making it on-screen switching effortless and in that configuration, the pathway to surround sound would be to just turn on the amplifier and set it to Video 1 setting. Updating to a HDMI capable modern receiver is possible someday, but I am not in a big hurry. The content is the reason for the home theater in the first place. The screen is big enough at fifty-two inches, provides a movie theater like experience in my small living room, and the speakers fill the room with nicely balanced sound. I encourage those of you to stop obsessing over the technobabble and start watching the content with your friends and family which is the way movies were meant to be watched.

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Home Network Features

I wrote about my home network and the DMZ setup I chose to use a few months ago. Many of you may wonder why I need such a setup and you will probably not be surprised to know that tinkering with computer software is a hobby of mine. Virtualization makes the task of building lab systems much simpler. Long ago, I would have to erase a computer, find new space, or rebuild the hardware just to test out some crazy new idea. Nowadays, I can create a virtual machine or just revive a saved one that is somewhat close to what I would like configured. I use many operating systems, such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Ubuntu Linux to try out ideas or see how something works. Server operating systems work well when supported with a few extra services. My pfSense router handily does the job of providing services to my virtual machines. I don’t need the full richness of pfSense for regular household use, but pfSense provides services which make supporting my hobby and lab environment much simpler. This follow-up blog will explain these settings in more detail.

The pfSense router offers the same features as a typical home gateway router. The pfSense router provides basic firewall and DHCP services. The DHCP service provides static mapping of the computers I choose to use as clients to my virtual machines. This brings identification of clients in server logs to a new level of ease as I can look at host names and know which client accessed services on a server. The pfSense system also provides an NTP server to keep all virtual machine clocks in sync. SQUID proxy server is enabled to cache download requests of frequently used operating system packages.

Domains used in Tiny DNS

Some Local DNS Entries

More services are at work behind the scenes which support my needs. The Dynamic DNS feature is used to register the ISP assigned address of the home network in DNS for external access. This feature is perfect for using either PPTP or OpenVPN access from the Internet to the home. Dynamic DNS is also used for HTTP and SSH access to the servers in the DMZ.

SSL Based VPN

OpenVPN Enabled

Enabling the NTP and proxy servers make for much better virtual machine server support. Time sync is an essential function as virtual machines sometime lose time. The proxy speeds up similar operating system package downloads. My favorite pfSense feature is the DNS name registration which enables other clients on the network to access newly installed virtual machines by their assigned host name without needing the new host names being entered manually into the DNS configuration.

Register DNS Name

Register DNS Name

Lastly, pfSense supports static routing. This feature is used to assign subnets to different virtual machine hosts. I separate the subnets so I can keep track of what I am doing. I use certain networks for production internet facing functions and others for testing. The static routes help locate networks that I place on other computers for temporary use. My laptop and desktop have their own assignments for different purposes. I use my laptop more for desktop virtual machines and the desktop more for server virtual machines.

NTP Server

Network Time Protocol Server

Little mention of the great features of pfSense happened in this blog post since I am only referring to what is used for my virtual machine lab. For lab work, I use DHCP to avoid the additional steps involved in network configuration. The DNS name registration feature is a handy time saver. NTP is enabled to fix the virtual machines that slowly lose too much time. The squid proxy server saves time when setting up identical servers since packages get cached locally. Updates to similar virtual machines move quickly with subsequent installation. Configuration of pfSense as part of the network instead of being a gateway was considered, but powering the pfSense on and off became cumbersome leading to an inflexible setup where servers had to be manually configured to point to pfSense. Moving the pfSense server to the gateway role enables central control of everything through DHCP.

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Online Education and Its Artistic Impact

Online education and Financial Aid

Image via Wikipedia

Education has been at the center of many debates lately. It seems the finger is being pointed at higher education for all of America’s woes. It doesn’t matter if the workforce is simply too short on educated personnel or not, the downfall of America’s due to an inadequately educated workforce is a topic for another blog. I can think of something I find more interesting to discuss about education. My thought begins with something I learned in my humanities class a long time ago. In film studies, we learned that films are often representative of the way things are in society. Movies parallel the stories of our lives. One film that shows the balancing of education and life is the second Transformers live action movie. This film shows the anxiety, pride, worry, and freedom for both parent and child when the child leaves the nest for higher education.

So how does a robot battle movie have anything to do with the topic of education? Very Simple. Transformers omits a story that has yet to be fully told. The lead character had to choose leaving college to save the world and he complained to Optimus Prime how important focusing on his future was to him. Had he attended online, he could have studied remotely from any location and since the Autobots are connected, finishing school shouldn’t be a problem no matter where his adventures would take him.

Many schools, public and private, offer online education. Online education will change many of the stories about going to college. College is supposed to bring freedom, independence, and of course, parties to the young adult. The Sims 2 has an expansion pack built around all of the joys of campus life with parties, pranks, and relationships. Aren’t there some budding young teens opting to go to college purely online? How will online college be portrayed in future scripts? How will it change the dynamics of the college student of the future? Online college courses enable the student to both work and study.  Would this become the new norm many years from now?

Online learning is a perfect complement to military service personnel and this point is often advertised by online schools. Military personnel can go online during the first years of service and complete and Associate’s degree in the first four years, or they could really knock themselves out trying for a Bachelor’s degree in four years. Are any of you young readers planning college purely online right out of high school?  Are you ready to focus on school with the distractions that come from not being in class?

One positive aspect about campus life is socialization. How much face to face time with people can you get from an all online college experience? Is it really anything to worry about? After all, the student can leave the home and venture out for a part-time job.  The student can find many socialization options from parties, clubs, beaches, or other teenage hangouts. A remote student could develop online relationships, but would that satisfy the needed human connection skills a person should have?

As many students point out, online will save on travel related issues such as vehicle repair and fuel. College online would remove commute time as well freeing up time to do things the student couldn’t do while traveling in a car. More free time for Xbox type play or even outdoor fun would help reduce the stresses of higher education.

Quality of education often comes up as a discussion point, but distance learning is nothing new. Colleges have offered distance learning long before the Internet was popular. The Internet makes distance learning much simpler. Faxing and mailing assignments is greatly reduced. A college can make course lectures available through recorded video or even enable the class lecture in realtime over the Internet, similar to Oracle’s Online University training. Educational delivery option choices are only limited by the school’s imagination.

Now let us get back to the human side of the future of learning. What will the writers write? Will we see a sitcom character going to school online? What situations will make for side-splitting comedic entertainment of online education? How will the writers make compelling stories about the online student? Could you imagine A Different World with all the characters messaging each other from the comfort of home, in their pajamas all day? Could any drama be found  in being in your jammies all day? Can you imagine never having some face-time to say “hi” to fellow students? When will we see an online university for working Sims?  The Internet will surely change the mold for future pursuits of education.

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Cloud Devices Wish List

I decided to get a color inkjet printer after I grew tired of griping about how much I hate them. The world looks much better in color regardless of how much I gripe about inkjet printers. Printing out grayscale maps and pictures has become tiresome to look at and I felt I might want to give color photo printing a chance as well. I purchased an HP Photosmart Plus B210a. It is interesting to see all the features added since my last inkjet, Canon’s i850.

Diagram showing overview of cloud computing in...

Image via Wikipedia

The big feature that is heavily advertised is the internet printing. You can send a print job to an email address and it appears on the printer. HP runs the ad with the baby traveling across town to the printer. I will conclude after using this that the printer industry and the cloud application industry are totally missing the boat on what needs to be done but it great to see the industry get started on where it should be in the future.

First, an internet connected printer should be accessible from the cloud. It should be implemented similar to using OpenID type services so you can use your favorite provider, which HP already allows. To print in Google Docs requires that it render the page in a separate screen leaving the end user to select Print from the browser icon and use the application’s printing features. Wrong!  I should be able to register and authorize my HP printer in Google Docs, select File, then Print, and get a print dialogue box that offers printer features and options. I should be able to hit Print and have the printing operation handled by Google Docs, connecting to my web based printer. This would also be a good feature for photo services like Sumo Paint or Google’s Picassa. It would make the process of editing through printing much easier. Cloud connected devices don’t end with printers. Sumo Paint would benefit if the digital camera was a networked device like the printer. The whole workflow could be better integrated into the cloud. Take a picture with my cloud connected digital camera, import it into Sumo Paint for editing, finally printing from the Sumo Paint application.

HP needs to do two more features for me as well. I need to be able to login to my printer page, and send print documents using a browser. Why is this only configured for email? Users should have a browser option as well. Second, HP should have a printer API exposed for cloud based services that enable seemless printing from cloud based applications. Imagine all the cloud services that could use this: imaging, office, education sites, etc. If HP exposes a print API, there would not be a need to make apps run on the printer and the printer would truly join the connected age being able to utilize all the wonderful cloud based application that already exist. I would also like a cloud based driver for the operating system which could send the document using the normal print mechanism. This would enable seamless printing from anywhere I happen to be, without the need to use a clunky email program.

Peripheral devices being cloud enabled will make cloud computing so much better. I look forward to taking snapshots in my digicam someday, and simply turning it on and importing pictures right into Kodak’s Gallery. I can see making a song in a network enabled midi keyboard and grabbing the file from any network connected application.

I wonder if anyone is working on this: Canon, HP, Google Docs? Kodak, you make a lot of hardware and software, are you cooking this up? Who will be first to make the fully connected cloud computing vision? From a business perspective, Kodak likes to make money off prints, so they might not want this feature, or they might make it available for their own products where they can sell you supplies. No matter what, I am waiting at the edge of my seat for the next leap in network connected devices that will make my preferred workflow work for me.

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Here’s to Good Health

Food for Life distributes food on an internati...

Image via Wikipedia

I came across a disheartening scene about a year ago while I was in the book store looking for health food related books to better balance my nutrition. I was in the healthy cookbook section when an elderly woman came hurrying in to the same area. She had the most frantic and desperate look on her face. She began looking at books for cooking healthy food. About a minute later, her husband comes to the area pushing his oxygen cart. It became obvious why she was looking at health food books. The doctor gave her husband his death sentence. He needed to change his habits because the medicine couldn’t help him.

This gentleman seemed somewhat ready to go at the young age of 65. He knew he needed to change his diet for the better. He browsed many books and none of the books he reviewed seemed to go deep enough for him. Finally, he sees the Skinny Bitch series and shouts out “Now, that is what I need!” Unfortunately, the bookstore employee pointed out the book is based around a vegan diet. After the sales associate explained that he could have no animal sources in his diet, he complained that he should still be able to enjoy life, implying living meat free goes too far. He was willing to trade a few years for the continuos eating of flesh. His wife, despite the anguish I originally saw, agreed with him and found a book that allowed meat in the diet.

Even though I am a vegetarian, I am not at all advocating a meat free diet. Along with the rise in vegetarian superstars comes the rise of preachiness and I am sure you are sick of hearing it. It’s your body and your choice how to best live your life.

vegan food pyramid adapted from recommendation...

Image via Wikipedia

It saddens me seeing so many people like the elderly man, who are convinced they are inflicting pain upon themselves if they don’t treat themselves to some type of junk food. You don’t have to give up the occasional treat to eat healthy, but many people over indulge with their favorite treats. The vegetarian universe has plenty of delicious junk food which can help satisfy those cravings so he didn’t have to fear it.

Despite having a BMI around 29, my LDL cholesterol is 113. The healthy range is 100 – 130, according to the report I received. My blood sugar levels were about as low as they can go on the report and the levels indicated no diabetes or threat from it occuring. My heart rate was 113 over 75. All other vitals were in the green, “very healthy” zone. I have no advice for anyone looking to eat their way to better health as I have always had a taste preference for simple food, choosing healthier options is easy for me to do. Some of you would call my diet tasteless or bland, but I like the taste of real natural unprocessed food. I never liked the way white bread tasted or felt on my tongue. I eat a very simple diet of fruit, veggies, beans, and grains. I did go through a 10-year-or-so phase where I ate the typical junk available in the U.S. This diet took its toll on my health and I began feeling very sick and exhausted which led me to commit to healthier choices. For the most part, I found that eating with others meant going someplace high in fat, sugar, and processing. I would go to Subway, Turley’s, or some other healthy restaurant when the decision was up to me.

What I can tell people about better eating, after seeing many reports of how the food industry engineers food for optimum pleasure, is there is no wonder why it is so hard for people to resist food.

Cheetos are commonly considered a junk food.

Image via Wikipedia

I hear people claim they are so addicted to food, but they mean foods high in fat, sugar, and processing. I don’t remember anyone I’ve ever known having a serious desire for raw apples or carrots, but premium ice cream, fried meats, or hot chewy cookies tend to make the list. I suppose the food industry wants their products to be as addictive as crack so you’ll buy more of it. Why not? They want to be a profitable business and increasing consumer demand really helps the mission. For the suppliers, putting ingredients in which make you lust over their food, will make you want to buy more of their food. The obesity rate is climbing for a good reason. It is simply good for business if the food service industry keeps you eating.

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