Category Archives: giveaways

More things to give away… almost

I still use the grill pan I reviewed courtesy of CSN Stores and they’ve offered me the opportunity to host another giveaway from one of their sites!  I just need to take some time to figure out how to structure it this time.  What to pick?

You could buy a bathroom sink from one of their other sites, but I’m not sure that’s very practical.  I’m thinking of something from their cookware site… but I need some ideas!

The Jensen Project on NBC and a giveaway

Walmart and P&G have teamed up again to produce The Jensen Project on NBC Friday, July 16th, 2010.  The Jensen Project is a thrilling and fun science fiction adventure that focuses on the Thompson family who are reintroduced to The Jensen Project – a secret community of geniuses conducting advanced underground research to solve the world’s most difficult problems. The family finds themselves forced into a frantic pursuit to keep a potentially dangerous technology from falling into the wrong hands.

From what I’ve seen (I was sent a teaser DVD and more popcorn), it’s like that movie about the kids of superheroes who go to school (does anyone remember what that movie was?) but without superpowers.  Just super-brains.  It’s a cute tv movie, something to watch on a lazy day with a bowl of good popcorn.  And, if you have someone like Travis in your life who likes to ridicule silly shows, preferably by yourself.

MS&L is letting me host a giveaway for another DVD/soundtrack combo for The Jensen Project.  I get a copy and one of you get a copy!  If you’d like to enter, leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’re watching on tv this summer before 11:59 PM Thursday, July 15th, 2010.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner?

Is that right?  Is that how the saying goes?  Sometimes, I think my brain recalls tidbits correctly, but then I find out things like the song is not about taking pinheads bowling (although, how awesome would that be?)

Sorry this took so long.  I didn’t realize that extending a giveaway until midnight means I can’t start counting comments until the next day.  And when that next day is filled with work, dog drama, and trying to pack up for the weekend, things get a little pushed down the list.  Plus, we spent the weekend camping with homebrew folks (those people also know how to cook at a campsite!) and no internet.  We got home at a good time on Sunday, so I made myself pick the Circulon grill pan winner.

Since there were only three (!) comments – nobody else wanted a grill pan? – I figured I could make it more fun than a random number generator without it being too difficult.  I enlisted Lexi for a little cup game, with a twist.

one - two - three

Three cups were numbered and an enticing treat was placed under each cup.  If I had only placed a treat under one cup, that wouldn’t have been very fair.  Lexi made this easy, because she’ll sit patiently until I’m ready and then go for it with a simple command.

if only she could flip that cup over!

I turned the cups around so I couldn’t see the numbers, then started switching them up.  I realize this doesn’t really have an effect since there are always three treats and three cups, so all I was really doing was shuffling the cups.  Then I let Lexi go and she started nosing a cup away in an attempt to get the treat under it.  While I was setting up, she did sniff each cup (and try to eat the treat), so she was well aware that each cup had a tasty something under it.

#2 - winner!

I gave her the treat and turned the cup around to see that she chose #2, which is Mary!  Congratulations, Mary!  And many thanks for CSN Stores for letting me hold the giveaway!

CSN + Circulon + steak = another giveaway

Yes, yes, I have something else to give away as a prize! It’s like Christmas, or something, around here! This time, it’s a 12-inch round grill pan from Circulon (this pan was provided to me by CSN Stores). I did a couple test runs for you to see if it a) works as a grill pan and b) worked at all (since it’s non-stick).

I asked Travis what he usually likes to grill outside that we could grill on the pan, to see if it would be a quick-and-easy substitute for those times we don’t want to uncover the bbq grill, turn on the gas, wait for it to heat us, brush down the grates, cook something, clean the grates, cool down the grill, and recover the whole thing. It’s not really a big deal, especially if you have friends over, but if you’re just cooking one steak it seems like a lot more work. He suggested Maui Ribs (marinated sliced short ribs we get from Bisher’s Meat in Poway), but we never got over there. I thought about grilled shrimp (since they wouldn’t get lost if you use a grill pan), but I didn’t feel like eating shrimp. We ended up doing some shopping (more than I anticipated) at Costco and saw they had some nice USDA Prime Beef (in addition to their regular USDA Choice beef) and the ribeye looked especially well-marbled and tasty. I was going to do burgers until we saw the ribeye.

look at that marbling!

We finally got home and put everything away and I pulled the steak out to come up to room temperature (or at least closer to it). The plan I had in my head was to do a Momofuku-style ribeye, but it kind of didn’t end up that way. David Chang’s ribeye is cooked in a cast iron pan and just seasoned with salt and pepper. There’s also some butter-thyme-garlic basting that goes on. The steak I rubbed with leftover salt/sugar rub from the pork dinner I still haven’t showed you and let that sit while I sliced some mushrooms and put the butter, garlic, and thyme in there.

hot pan!

The tags on the grill pan said it’s oven-safe up to 400 F, which is the same temperature you cook the steak at. Plus, I thought it would be a good way to test the rubberized handle part of the pan at such a high temperature.

side 1

side 2

I let the pan heat up to sizzling, then seared the steak for 2 minutes on each side. Beef juices and salty/sugary runoff melded in the grooves of the pan.

all rendered and crispy and good

Then, the steak (grill pan and all) went into the oven for 6 minutes, after which it got dolloped with butter (this is when you would do the butter basting stuff) and back in the oven for another 2 minutes. The steak ended up more medium-well than medium-rare, which I attribute to not having a monstrously think cut of ribeye.

plate of brown

The steak rests for 10 minutes (or 5, or whenever you’re starting and don’t want to wait any more) and then it’s sliced against the grain. Since we were splitting one ribeye (it’s rare for us to each eat such a huge steak), I put all the slices on one plate, added the mushrooms, poured the steak juices back onto the grill pan, swirled it all around and drizzled the plate with the tasty goodness from the pan.

Maybe it’s the method, maybe it was the rub, maybe we just started with a beautiful piece of beef. All I can say is I enjoyed that steak more than any other steak I think we’ve cooked in years. And there’s a second one waiting for us down the road.

Some notes on the grill pan:

  • There is a rubberized handle on the end, which means you don’t need to use mitts if you’re just using the pan on the stove.
  • If you place the pan in an oven, the handle doesn’t seem to get melty or anything (I’ve only done this once, though). BUT! DO NOT touch the handle with your bare hand. It will be super hot! I’m just saying… in case you set the pan on the stove and forget it was in a blazing oven and reach for it without an oven mitt on.
  • I don’t know if there are adverse affects of placing a non-stick pan in a 400 degree oven, but the pan seemed to have survived.
  • After searing the steak, there were certainly circular sear marks on the meat, which implies that the grill pan is doing its thing.
  • Clean-up was easy-breezy thanks to the non-stickiness.
  • I later “grilled” two ears of corn and some buns for a Sloppy Joes lunch and the corn ended up cooked (with some charred bits!) and the buns were toasted.

I’ve never used a grill pan before, so I have nothing to compare the Circulon version to. But, it’s lightweight and easy to clean, and I could see making some paninis or burgers on it for a quick dinner. Actually, I could see using it for any quick grill-type dinner when it’s just the two of us. It’s easy enough, and being in the kitchen means I can prep other things while the pan is in use.

So, as I mentioned earlier, I have another Circulon grill pan to giveaway, courtesy of the nice folks at CSN. CSN manages sites for cookware, children’s furniture, lighting, and other general furniture. I haven’t looked through their other sites, but the cookware one has some good deals.

The contest will be open through the end of Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 11:59 PM. To enter, leave a comment and tell me what you’ll be grilling this summer (either on an outdoor grill or on a shiny new grill pan!)

Totally random dog decisions (winners!)

This is the first time I think I’ve had a giveaway that involved more than one winner.  Single-winner contests are easy.  I go to the Random Number Generator and let it pick a number.  But this time I had five winners to pick!  We’re getting into the fancy-pants ranks now!

So, you know how sometimes radio stations will let shelter dogs pick the winner of the Super Bowl, or who gets voted off on Survivor or American Idol or something?  As a way to promote the dog to potential adopters and to show that dogs have an uncanny sense of predicting the future?  I thought I would do that!  It turns out to be a lot harder than I thought.

First, since I wanted to do this outside (better light, plus, you can excuse pieces of dirt and such in the photos) I had to close off the doggy door.  Then, when I dashed out to grab the little-dog-who-is-not-paying-rent, I stepped on a rock.  I had this idea of attaching each comment (printed out) to a treat and letting Cassie (because she’s my baby and this is a supposed Mother’s Day giveaway) pick five.  But, I didn’t know how I would get the comment part back from once she ate the treat.  I thought about using the comment numbers, letting her take away five and then figuring out which ones they were by looking at the numbers left.  That sounded like a lot of work.  I ended up using the numbers assigned to the comments (do they show up in the regular post? I can see them when I look at the post from my admin-end.) and writing them on scraps of paper.

this was still a lot of work

I ended up using the numbers assigned to the comments (do they show up in the regular post? I can see them when I look at the post from my admin-end.) and writing them on scraps of paper.

my comment numbers

Then, because I commented on a couple of the comments, those had numbers assigned to them.  So, I took those out of the pile.

bits of treats, random layout

I put the pieces of paper on the ground and a treat on top of each piece of paper, so neither I or Cassie could see the number.  I had to do this one at a time, because if you just put a piece of paper on the ground, the breeze blows it away and if you turn your back on dog treat, the dog starts eating them before the official picking has started.

Cassie was the picker instead of Lexi, because I thought if I used Lexi she would eat all the treats instead of just one at a time.  But, the other dogs were barking at her through the screen door (they could see the treats and didn’t understand why they couldn’t get to them).  This, combined with Cassie not being very command-oriented, turned out to be a little hiccup.  Instead, I had to command her to sit, tell her “okay”, then turn my back so she wouldn’t be intimidated.  She’s a slow eater, so periodically I would look over my shoulder and when she got to Pick No. Five, I had her stop.  I picked up the five pieces of paper and put them in my pocket.  Then I gathered up the untouched treats (hey, 20 treats is a lot for one dog to eat! Plus, they’re expensive!) and put them back in the bag.  I picked up the pieces of paper and brought everything back inside (it was getting really warm out there).  And then I photographed the pieces of paper in my pocket.

Winners! Finally!

In retrospect, this is not completely transparent, but it’s the best I can do.  I couldn’t very well switch methods halfway through the process, could I?  Fortunately, I don’t do these kinds of giveaways often, so I think I’ll just go back to the random number thing.

So, Congratulations to DonnaB, Jenny, Marci, Deanna G, and CoolJerk!  I’ll be contacting you individually to get your address and send your gift cards out to you!