The Challenge: Day Twenty-Five

Thought I’d given up on the last of The Challenge, eh?

Fat chance. I do try to finish the things I start, after all.

Today I was to start the paperwork for prequalifying for a loan so I can find a house – or, rather, so when the right house finds me, I’ll be prepared. My uncle’s cousin is doing this for me, so of course we decided to feed him.

But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit.

Our trip to Savannah interrupted my lawn mowing schedule, so some of the weedier grass was coming up around my kneecaps, and it was time, as they say. I felt pretty good about it this morning, too: it only took just over an hour for me to cut the lawn (with a break), and then another 20 minutes or so to trim (after about a 40 minute rest, that is). According to the weather dork, today was supposed to be cooler. Ha! By the time I finished with the lawn just after noon, it was already in the mid-90s. We ended up at 96 today. There’s nothing like Florida in the summer. Or winter. Or spring or fall.

Anyhow, after I rested a bit and showered, it was time to head to the NOC to set up a couple of servers that arrived late yesterday. The newest – and last, for this cage – rack is now in place and waiting. That’s a good thing, because racks eight and nine are almost filled. This will give us room for another 24 or so servers. I’m hoping that the NOC guys get our new cage built quickly. At the rate we’re adding servers lately, this rack will be full before too long. It’s strange looking at all the gear in the cage and thinking back to when my then business partner and I started the company. At the time, we figured if we had a server or two and they paid for themselves, that would be enough. After two months, we were already so busy that she became the first fulltime employee of the company and quit her day job. And now, here we are, over 200 servers later. The partner is gone, off to pursue non-techie interests, and the past couple of years have been interesting (in the Chinese curse sense), but I wouldn’t trade any of it for a regular job working for someone else.

Since I had to make a stop at PetSmart after leaving the NOC to pick up some hairball gel for the little furry ones, I decided to cruise by Yoshi’s (or at least where Yoshi’s used to be) to see what was going on with that space. The sign that was up about some sushi place coming soon is gone, but I do see that there is work going on inside to renovate the place. There is another sushi place across Baymeadows as well – it’s been there for some time, even while Yoshi’s was open – so it’s a little surprising that one sushi place would close with another poised to take its place rather than the space turning into a restaurant offering another type of cuisine.

For dinner we elected to have shrimp, rice pilaf, broccoli, and sliced tomatoes. Simple, summery, and nothing too elaborate because yours truly is dead tired from all the physical labor today. I’m hoping that one day I’ll get my energy stores back in order so that typical activities don’t wear me out quite so much.

The shrimp was marinated in lemon juice, soy, honey, red pepper flakes, grated fresh ginger, garlic, and a bit of olive oil. I let that sit for awhile as I prepped everything else, then sauteed them in three batches in a touch of olive oil. “Batches?” you ask. “We don’ need no steekin’ batches!” Well, you do, really. Sauteeing the shrimp – or any food, for that matter – in batches allows you to maintain a steady temperature in your pan. In addition, overcrowding certain types of food in your pan will result in steaming that food rather than sauteeing it. This is fine, if steaming is what you’re after, or if you don’t mind how soggy some foods can get (or how mushy shrimp can get). But it wasn’t, in this case, what we were after, and the sauteed shrimp turned out quite well. The rice was once again pilaf with shallots and parmesan, as the people who are eating it around here have decided they really like that version.

So what’s our breakdown?

Shrimp, 2 pounds: 13.40
Broccoli, on sale at Publix: 1.99
Rice: 1.50
Tomatoes, vine-ripe: 1.50

Total meal: 18.39
Total per diner (4): 4.60

I will also add that the meal was very nutritious, with almost no saturated fat and the entire meal was low in calories. It also tasted quite good, from what I could taste. Admittedly, my portions were kiddie-sized and I had some formula afterward, but the other folks enjoyed it and ate the rest of my servings.

Is organic worth it?

I’ve been seeing articles here and there of late about organic food and whether going organic is worth it or not.

In an ideal world, of course eating organic would likely be better in the long run. The problem for most people – myself included – is that going organic is an expensive proposition. Very expensive. Case in point: this afternoon, my mom and I headed over to Native Sun, a certified organic market here in town (soon to be two markets, as they have built a new market out toward Costco, if you’re familiar with the area). This particular store is quite busy. It’s also quite expensive: boneless, skinless chicken breasts run a whopping 5.69/pound. The fruits and vegetables are likewise quite costly, sometimes running three times the price in a regular grocery like Publix, and five to six times the price you’d pay at the farmer’s market. Naturally, the organic items at Publix are also more expensive than their non-certified counterparts.

Now, in and of itself, this is not a bad thing. After all, they have to make their money after paying whoever provides these goods. However, because the cost per unit is so much higher, it prices a lot of people out of the market. The question then becomes not if organic is worth it – it is – but how to better bring organic items to the end user without creating the need for them to take a second mortgage on their house to afford it.

We then come to a double-edged sword. Wal-Mart is going organic, sort of: they’ll be carrying some organics, just as Target does now to a small extent. Not everyone is pleased about Wal-Mat’s foray into the field (so to speak), because of the effect Wal-Mart has on markets. I hope never to have to step foot into a Wal-Mart again in my lifetime, so I know I will not be buying whatever they’re selling. But, if it helps people who could otherwise not afford it to buy at least some of their food organic, can it be all bad? It can be partially bad, or even mostly bad for some people, especially for the producers, but does the end user, the consumer, ever stop to think about that?

It’s a conundrum that is not easily solved, I’m afraid. For me, while most things at Native Sun are things I will skip, they do have a good selection of bulk flours, sugars, salts, beans, and nuts that are organic and reasonably priced (because they are not packaged), and these are things that I can readily use in the food I create for others. And I hope to use those things soon, as I work out my schedule issues.