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Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

This is apparently an Alton Brown recipe. My family thought the sharp cheddar was a bit much, might be worth going half and half with a mild cheddar. Either way, it is a good place to start.

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded


1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

Quote of the Day

Success makes life easier. It doesn't make living easier.
-- Bruce Springsteen

Wii U hooks up to the TV

The kids and I home due to weather related school closings. I know that on days like this that I have to watch them like a hawk. If boredom sets in we could end up with a completely trashed house. It was this situation that led me to investigate a suddenly quiet living room. Instead of problems I found my kids were crowded around the gamepad watching something via Netflix. It looked ridiculously uncomfortable so I suggested they just turn on the TV so they can both watch easier. Now, they had been playing with just the gamepad a lot lately. I operated under the assumption that my kids were trying to be polite or save electricity. It seems they thought the Wii U was the worlds largest Gameboy. My son actually said he forgot that the Wii U works on the TV.

Big Hero 6

We went to see Disney's Big Hero 6 over the weekend. I was not planning on seeing it opening weekend but we had family visiting so we were looking for fun things to do together. The movie itself was pretty straight forward. The world was an off the shelf modern Asian city and required little in the way of explanation. The villain was pretty obvious but the story did not really care so there is no loss there. The characters were straight from central casting archetypes that you have seen in a dozen other movies. Again though, this matters little since they are clearly bit players in the story. The action was even set in "San Fransokyo" so clearly we were looking for broad appeal.

The animation did nothing to distract from the movie but it didn't add anything either. It was that now so common CGI look that just tries to get out of the way. In many ways it was computer animation trying to be live action. Maybe it is a case where you do not notice the special effects when the entire movie is one giant special effect. To get on my soapbox for a second, this really is a mistake, the best part of animation is that you can use the art to help set the mood and tell your story. At least give me a different color palette once in a while! You can do more with animation than we're doing right now and without resorting to expensive hand drawn art. Once you you make the decision to go animated, you need to take advantage of it.

Overall, Big Hero 6 was also very well done. The downsides do little to distract from the story. The lesson of the movie was felt by the kids without any of us feeling like we were getting hit over the head with it. The action did not get boring. Baymax had enough light-hearted moments to balance out the more serious points. If you have kids it is worth seeing this movie with them. However, you may find there's not enough there if you aren't aiming for a good kids movie experience.

I should mention this movie has a new short at the beginning called "Feast". This is where you get something with more broad spectrum appeal. The kids loved it and the adults were really into it as well. The dog was expressive and told a story that we do not normally see. Although it is still the generic computer animation look, it felt like the there was a bit more effort put into using colors, time of day and perspective. Hopefully, they will keep exploring with their shorts. Disney has better movies in them than we're seeing right. If we are lucky, they will break out of their comfort zone in the future.


I finally visited the Ponderosaagain. Wait, no a Ponderosa Steakhouse. Those are not the same thing. Either way, I have not been in one since I was a kid. We were on our way from Milwaukee to the Twin Cities for a short vacation and needed food. The only real option that did not require exploring random small towns was when we were passing the Wisconsin Dells. There was a bunch of restaurants there and some water parks our kids desperately hoped were the destination. However, the second I saw a sign for Ponderosa the decision was made.

The salad/buffet line was not as massive as I remember from being a kid but that is the way it normally works. It still had plenty of variety though. I also got a steak since it cost almost nothing to add to the buffet. The steak was definitely worth it. Did I mention it was only a few dollars more? It may not compete with Louis Benton or similar places but it was good and it had been a long time since I had a steak. The Ponderosa locations around here closed a while ago and there was definitely some nostalgia at work through our meal. However, the food was good and everybody made a few trips to enjoy the different things they liked. The entire restaurant from the restrooms on up looked and felt extremely clean. I mention this because most restaurants don't give off this vibe. This is especially true of any restaurant that builds its menu around a buffet line. I almost wonder if it was a newly built place.

Overall, I liked the food and the variety seemed though out. I did not spent time wandering around the buffet because the taco ingredients were in three different places. (I am looking at your Golden Corral). I appreciate not having to stick to the salad bar because of a buffet that only consists of cheap poorly made food. Ponderosa was worth the stop and not just because of nostalgia.

Eataly's Pizza

We tried a new pizza place called Eataly's Pizzeria. I knew this place was going to be good when I had to wait another five minutes for my pizza because they had to cut up more peppers. The second clue that this place was good was when my son ate three quarters of a pizza. The third was that it took all of my will power not to eat the other pizza all myself. The cheese was great and we will definitely be going to the place again. Did I mention the cheese was good? Seriously, it is worth the trip just to taste the cheese. Keep in mind that their seating is very minimal but it looked like they did pizza by the slice for lunch if not more times of the day.

I think you're doing it wrong.

Tourism is tacky by its very nature. I am not sure it can really exist in any other form. If you are building something deliberately for tourists than tacky is going to happen. However, I think there are lines that folks need to be aware of when you are planning and building such a destination. The first thing you need to understand is that it really isn't that important that your tourist trap represent reality. It is a fine line between ye olde tourist trappe and weirding people out. In the end, just embrace the tacky and let people revel in it.