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A Night at the Dune Eco Village Resort near Pondicherry – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

Tom Asia, Travel, Video 0 Comments

Priscilla had found the Eco Village Resort as a pretty well rated place to stay, but at $40 bucks a night, I was let’s just say a bit skeptical… Wow was I wrong! This is true paradise that feels as if you have been dropped onto another planet of beauty and lifestyle.

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To find the Eco Village, you turn off the paved highway to a pothole ridden dirt road passing by a few less attractive residences… Then you pass through a large gate to circle drive and gravel parking lot to check in. At this point you still don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into… “Alright let’s try it out” and we parted with our driver for the night and jumped aboard the mini-van fully equipped with a tiger painting.

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Bumpty bump on into the resort along a small one lane dirt path lined with palm trees and mini cottages with thatch roofs. We were really into the village now! As we approached our lodge, the “Flex House” as it is named, was magnificent little rustic cottage with an other worldly feel. Pop open the padlock and enter to a spacious room with a boxed-in bed, high cieling that exposed the natural roof, and totally cool translucent walls with flower photos printed on them. Wow.

We only had one night here, so we were off right away to explore the property. Exotic trees and plants fill every view as we walked through the property at sunset. It was amazing, each “house” on the property was unique and had an authentically different experience. Some had outdoor showers, one was built high above the rest to give the ultimate view of the Indian ocean, and all had a feeling of true India. As we explored the area, we found the farm on site with a number of cows and fresh vegetables. The village was developed to be generally self sustaining, minus the beers and a few other modern conveniences.

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One of my most vivid memories from this stay were the sounds. Our lodging was located just off the beach from the Indian Ocean and the sound of the waves breaking set the baseline for the atmosphere. Then early in the morning, the temple just outside of the village began with chants that remind you that you are definitely not in Illinois any more. Check out this video for a snippet of sound from the early morning hours.

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Mahabalipuram Underwater City, India – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

Tom Asia, Travel 0 Comments

Driving in India is always an adventure and the first few minutes in the car will surely confirm that you are not in Illinois anymore. Our friends Anusha and Barath had arranged for a driver for us and for good reason, because the Indian style of driving is absolutely best left to the professionals. Once out the city and on the Indian “highway” you will notice that no one drives on their side of the road because there is always a need to pass something or other. Maybe because the roads are shared modes of transit including cars, trucks, busses, cows, dogs and humans. My brother the safety guy would have blown a gasket with the regular “close calls” of near death on the road.

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Tom Schmidt Photo Mahabalipuram Underwater City, India 08

But we made it alive to the first stop on our South Indian tour: Mahabalipuram, The Underwater City. As we got the area there were a number of people that approached the car wanting to give us a personal tour of the area. We felt that it may be a scam, but found one man that agreed to a somewhat reasonable rate so we agreed, parked the car and went for a walk around the area to learn about the Underwater city of Mahabalipuram. The story goes something like this: A King built the great monuments, then the sand covered it long ago, and then a number of years ago it was dug up and is still there today. The sculptures and and structures are quite cool and VERY OLD.

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Chennai, India Street Photos and Videos- Travel with Tom and Priscilla

Tom Asia, Travel 0 Comments

We went to the faraway place called India… It is a completely different world for this Midwestern boy. We visited in 2015 to attend a friend’s wedding in Chennai and then had a few days for exploring. The weather proved to be quite challenging during our visit with torrential downpours and flooding. When Chennai floods, it really floods! Then the clouds parted for some amazing blue sky as we began our voyage south. Check out a few images and videos from our first day around Chennai!

Tom and Priscilla Visit Chennai, India

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Tom Schmidt Photo in Buffalo Grove Chicago

First Snow in Buffalo Grove – Pictures with Tom

Tom Travel, U.S. 0 Comments

In Chicago it snows.

Winter has always been the most dreaded season for us. The harsh cold wind that pierces through even the thickest and toughest of winter coats, the sharp air that sucks the moisture out of everything and anything, and just the sheer coldness that drives us to hide in our insulated dwellings, safely away from the chilling claws of winter.

Yet, there is magic in the first snow. The dancing snowflakes blanket the land, transforming everything they touch, giving beauty to even the most mundane of landscapes such as the suburb we live in.
What better time to take a stroll and enjoy the silent and mesmerizing snowy day?

Enjoy the first Snow in Chicago with Tom and Priscilla.

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Tom Schmidt Photo in Buffalo Grove Chicago

Tom Schmidt Photo in Buffalo Grove Chicago

Tom Schmidt Photo in Buffalo Grove Chicago

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tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

Tom Travel, U.S. 0 Comments

With the first real summer holiday coming up fast, we wanted to find a spot to camp outdoors at a drive-able distance from Chicago… So we were off to Tahquamenon located on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

And you ask why the UP of Michigan of all places to visit? Well we haven’t been there yet and Tahquamenon is the largest waterfall East of the Mississippi!

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

Tahquamenon Falls – July 4th weekend 2016

 
We stuffed our little red Toyota Corolla FULL with a tent, ground pads, sleeping bags and food, and began our road trip to the UP.

The drive from Chicago is about 8 hours, and the route hugs Lake Michigan all the way. We passed through the great Midwestern cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay before entering the UP where the terrain changes to gentle hills and endless forests.tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

On the drive up I was recalling my college days at the University of Michigan and the people I had met from throughout the state. When you ask these locals about some Michigan geography or their hometown, Michigan folks instinctively pull up their left hand, point to a location on the back of their hand, and that is where they are from. The Michigan state looks roughly looks like a mitten and this hand trick is as common as the Michigan apples. Somehow, The Upper Peninsula has always been left out of this neat little trick as though it is some unknown place. Truthfully, having lived in Michigan for four years while in college, I don’t actually know much about the UP except that there are trees everywhere.

Let’s Travel!

tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog


Tahquamenon Falls – July 4th weekend 2016

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Applesauce Recipe – Easy Homemade Method

Tom Basics, Desserts, Essential Homemade, Recipe, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian 0 Comments

Homemade applesauce, although sort of resembles the store-bought stuff, blows it away with the soft texture and wonderful sweetness. Sometimes the simple things are worth making at home.

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Applesauce is another homemade item that you probably think: “Shoot, that probably requires some tools I don’t have…” Actually… all you need is a peeler, knife, pot and smasher. Boom applesauce! It’s so stinkin easy that you will likely pull it right into your set of GO TO recipes.

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The apples used in this recipe were of the variety “On Sale.” Yes, that is a variety most likely found at your grocery store. They may have been Fuji apples, but I forgot. I have made this easy applesauce recipe out of quite a few varieties of apples thus far and have not found a bad one. Some end up a little more tart than others, but absolutely edible. If it’s slightly tart, just give it a few days in the fridge and voilà it becomes sweeter.

Let’s Cook!


Applesauce Recipe for Best Chunky Applesauce!

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Green Beans Stir Fry with Tempeh – Vegan Dinner!

Tom Adventure Eating, Dinner, Recipe, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian 0 Comments

Stir fry this and stir fry that… You can basically stir fry anything!  This is a great combo (Green Beans, Carrots and Tempeh) for a meat-less option that will still keep ya full past dessert.

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The unassuming fermented soybeans (tempeh) wear a meaty disguise to this veggie party with an amazing ability to soak up the dark soy sauce flavors. Add a pile of fresh crunchy green beans, a few carrots, with plenty of garlic and ginger for a bright and satisfyingly hearty ethnic taste.

Your co-workers may even ask: “What type of meat is that in your super delicious looking stir fry left overs??”

And no Bob, you can’t have any my stir fry…

Speaking of left overs, this is one of our staples for a pre-cooked, packaged meal and frozen meal. We have embarked on many stir fry cooking sprees of over 20 pounds on a Sunday afternoon.  Then we split up the loot into 1 pound FoodSaver vacuum sealed bags, the perfect single serve healthy lunch or dinner for a guy on the go. Reheating is a breeze and the flavors / textures remain pretty darn good even after a few weeks!

As of this writing, I have eaten our packaged stir fry in 15 states and at 35,000 feet somewhere over Russia… Have stir fry, will travel.

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Let’s Cook!


Green Beans Stir Fry with Tempeh

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Chicken Hot Wings – Oven Roasted and Cooked to Perfection

Tom Dinner, Easy Impress, Essential Homemade, Grain-Free, Paleo Friendly 0 Comments

Do chicken hot wings have their own place in the food pyramid? I think they might have left them off the bottom… Maybe they just ran out paper when they were drawing it.

Glorious chicken hot wings, how I love thee. If there ever was a food that could brighten even a dark Chicago winter day, it would have to be the perfectly roasted chicken wing, with magic dust of course, and finished with some Frank’s hot sauce. Worries disappear as you get covered in hot sauce and the lips start to tingle. BLISS.

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I perfected this recipe while living in CHI-Town (Chicago for the rest of y’all) in a classic high-rise condo building. It’s nice enough, but they forgot to put a balcony with a grill on our unit! Consequently, I have been relegated to preparing my favorite chicken wings in the oven. My love for wings and chicken makes this one by far the most tested recipe.

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For years I have oven-roasting these famous wings on aluminum foil lined pans, but recently switching over to parchment instead. I have heard from a few people about how aluminum might hurt the brain… I would much rather kill my brain cells with booze rather than aluminum foil!

Be careful, these wings are bound to impress your friends, so buy plenty if sharing. I have seen 100 pound girls demolish upwards of 20 wings, seriously.

These wings are also great un-sauced for those with a little less tolerance for the spicy.

Let’s Cook!


Recipe for Oven Roasted Chicken Hot Wings with Franks Hot Sauce and Magic Dust


Ingredients

Hot Wings
3 pounds high quality chicken wings
1/2 cup Magic Dust seasoning (Check out the recipe!)

Sauce
2/3 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
1/2 stick butter (not margarine folks…)


Chicken Hot Wings – Oven Roasted and Cooked to Perfection

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how to make the best coffee with the aeropress method instruction eat with tom chicago

Aeropress Inverted Brewing Method – Chicago Coffee

Tom Breakfast, Recipe, Techniques, Video 0 Comments

Best Aeropress Brewing Method by Joshua from Everybody’s Coffee Chicago

Nothing starts the morning off like a cup of coffee. Or really, the afternoon… or the work week… or even the weekend! With so much coffee, shouldn’t it be awesome? Joshua from Everybody’s Coffee in Chicago is a coffee aficionado who has studied, and perfected the art of the Aeropress inverted brewing method. People come from around Chicago to enjoy his brews, I’ve seen them at the shop… This video and recipe outline the step by step instructions to craft an amazing cup of coffee that doesn’t suck, right at home!

Videographer Tom Schmidt in Uptown Chicago Everybody's coffee brewing recipe and method for inverted

The recipe video begins by explaining the grind size and how it should look (like a coarse sand) for the best result. We used the Hario Ceramic Slim Mini Mill hand grinder with 6 clicks from closed on to get the perfect grind for this variety.


“If your coffee tastes too acidic, grassy/vegetal, or weak, go down one click at a time (a finer grind) & if your coffee tastes too bitter, drying, or harsh, go up one click at a time.” -Joshua


Turn the Aeropress upside down and toss in the grounds. Josh then shows us how to use the Bonavita Kettle to properly moisten the grounds with a swirling motion. This sounds a little silly at first, swirling and pouring slowly… but it helps to open up the flavors and get the hot water more evenly throughout the Aeropress chamber. Can’t argue with results… Once the chamber has reached capacity, give it a gentle stir with a metal spoon or the included stirrer. Replace the lid and LET IT BREW!

Josh uses a basic kitchen timer to track the brewing time which totals just about two minutes, 1:40 for brewing and about :30 for the plunging. He makes it look so easy… that you will definitely have to try it at home. To really geek out on the Aeropress, stop by Everybody’s Coffee and pick Josh’s brain or look up the World Aeropress Championship (no kidding!) for creative and crazy recipes.

Let’s Brew!


Inverted Aeropress Brew Recipe with Step by Step Instructions

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How to make a Bokashi Composter in your suburban home easy!

DIY Bokashi Composter Instructions and Images

Tom Gardening & Compost 0 Comments

How to build your Bokashi composter and start composting today!

We moved to the suburbs and now I am composting.  We simply eat a ton of veggies and generate some serious green waste.  It makes me sad to send the scraps from high quality food off to a landfill to be buried with batteries and plastic bottles for eternity.  I spent money on that organic trash yo.  This lead me to begin the COMPOST QUEST!  We are living in a town home with a professionally landscaped yard, so I am not sure where I will put it once complete, but hey it won’t be in the dump.

How to make a Bokashi Composter in your suburban home easy!

First off I bought a rotating composter to put on the porch.  This filled up within about 3 weeks.  Now it’s brewing for a while.

Then I bought a worm factory for the garage.  The worms are hungry, but don’t knock out the compost as fast as I was hoping.  Also not as stinky as one might think.

Now I am off to try the Bokashi composting method!  There are a few great resources for supplies and buckets to compost, but they carry a significant price for a 5 gallon bucket with a spigot.  This lead me to make a few Amazon and Uline orders so that I could DIY the Bokashi composter.

The Bokashi method boasts some major advantages over traditional composting, such as the ability to compost meat and dairy scraps, smell free, faster, etc.  Can’t wait to see if it is true…

Let’s build a Bokashi Composter!

How to make a Bokashi Composter in your suburban home easy!


DIY Bokashi Composter with Step by Step Instructions

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