Friday, November 30, 2012

Seven

This is my Seventh, count 'em, 7, NaBloPoMo's.

Seven straight years of blogging every day in the month of November.  Every day something needs to be posted no matter how lame.  Of course, I take challenges seriously and if I commit to a project I'm going to see it through.

It is nearly impossible to spend the entire month of November roosting on one's writer's perch, bathed in WiFi with the Muse manically tossing out ideas.  Usually November is fraught with interruptions, not the least of which is Thanksgiving and some plumbing crisis, not that the two are related with the exception of The Great Turducken Debacle.

Most years, though, the fickle Muse flits around dive-bombing great ideas every few days but mostly sitting in some muse bar drinking herself stupid.  Stupid muse.  On a couple of occasions I had to open the Secret Box of Ideas and pull out a card.  I hate doing that because the cards are so expensive.  Alas, NaBloPoMo has a huge budget and I'm sure I'll be reimbursed - clicking heels together three times.  There's no place like Chase!  There's no place like Chase!

Tomorrow is December 1st.  The start of a new month and the end of an old year that doesn't seem all that old.  I remember in January making the comment as I put away the Christmas tree stand, "I'm putting it on the shelf now, but in a moment I'll be dragging it down again.  Seems to happen faster and faster."

And so it goes.  (Thank you, Kurt!)

Tomorrow is my official start of the holiday season, my favorite time of the year whether it's in snow or damp humidity and I'll put up with the decorating, rather than put up the decorations (not my job) and dive into the spirit of the holidays only to be confronted with putting up the Christmas tree stand all too soon.

Time for an egg nog and a toast to NaBloPoMo 2012.  Thank you, BlogHer, for hosting our November blogging extravaganza and here's to a successful 2012 and on to the next year.

Cheers!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beaujolais Nouveau

Finally!

It's nearly the end of November.  The Paté has been made and mostly eaten.  And by normal standards the wine should be on the decline, past it's peak, on the downhill, not so good, rubbish, mouthwash, disposal cleaner -

But, it's quite good!  Light, crisp, with a hint of lightness and crispness.  Fruity and nutty with a hint of fruits and nuts.  Clear with a sort of transparency.  Red in a sort of rouge sort of way.  Wet but not damp.  Sloshy.

I'll need another glass or 9 to make sure.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Avocado Phoenix

Avogadro the Avocado was planted in the Spring of 2000 if memory serves.  Starting out in a glass of water propped up with toothpicks, then transferred to a small pot and finally to the back yard, what started out as an afternoon guacamole snack grew into a robust tree over the decade.

Avogadro grew steadily each year weathering two hurricanes, Rita and Ike, and other fluctuations in the weather.  I remember seeing the tree blown over to about a 30 degree angle from vertical during the incoming of Ike and braved the wind and rain to lash it down.

Yep, Avogadro survived a lot of hardship.

But not freezing.  Two years of hard frosts well below freezing took its toll on Avogadro and in the Spring of 2009 it looked like this -


Avogadro had developed a good sized trunk and root system which held it up during hurricanes but the freezing weather wiped it out.  All of the leaves died and the branches never recovered.  By summer I resolved to cut it down and dig it up.

Cutting down Avogadro proved to be a task of a few minutes but digging it up was another matter because of the extensive root system.  I decided to let it sit for a year and try again later.

But, then, in 2010 something remarkable happened.  Avogadro came back from the roots.


The leaves looked healthy and green.  The root system was obviously robust, so I let it go to see what it could do, and do it did!  Within a year the small shoots had grown up 5-6 feet and produced many leaves.  Today Avogadro is over 12-feet tall.


Here's to you, Avogadro the Avocado, indomitable tree you are and may you have a mild winter!



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Auto This

Everybody has an autocorrect story.

You know autocorrect.  It's that helpful feature when text messaging that tries to figure out what you're trying to type as you navigate at 75 miles per hour in heavy traffic dodging objects on the road and other drivers.  Hit the space bar and autocorrect helpfully inserts the word it prefers into your message.

Recently, my conversation went like this when trying to type "Glad you made it safe."

Glad you made the sale. 
What sale? 
Safe
Safes are on sale?  Did you buy one? 
No, not sale safe! 
So, there was no sale on safes.  Did u buy one anyway? 
No, no!  No sale.  No safe! 
What safe. 
Glad you made the sale. 
What sale? 
Damdamdamdam not against. 
You're against sales?  Make no sense. 
Forget it. 
Good.  We probably don't need a safe, anyway.


Finally, in exasperation I typed "ayayayayaya" and the word suggested was "autocorrect."

At least I didn't have a wreck on the freeway doing all this and got home sale and sound.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Airport Ride

Drove up to the airport today and that's always fun, especially in the misnamed "rush" hour which is anything but rushing.  But, it was worth the drive especially if you're trying to fly somewhere, although curbside pickup by the airplane would be pretty cool.  Just think how wide the streets would have to be!

Anyway.

It was a busy time at the airport with flights stacked up at 90-second intervals as far out as you could see and other flights taking off at (nearly) the same time.  Huge planes glided over seeming to hover in the air as they banked over the city heading to Who Knows Where.  There was even a monster jet crossing the road with passengers waving at us as we drove under.

Reminded me how I once wanted to be a NASCAR driver.  That was a short-lived fantasy!  Next to that, though, would be Airport Bus Driver.  Now, that's got to be a fun job!  Driving a big ole rattling bus at breakneck speeds along narrow airport roads, cutting off other drivers and buses, parking where you shouldn't park, stopping for no reason, driving by passengers for no reason and the best part - getting paid!

I would want one of the outrageously painted buses like the yellow one with black spots and I'd hang fuzzy dice from the little used rearview mirror.  I'd put a tip jar on the dashboard seeded with a few 20's just to give my passengers an idea of my expectations, and I'd always start my run by shouting, "Y'all hang on!  I don't want to lose any of y'all out the windows like last week!"

Yeah, well, another fantasy.  But, it's not really the exciting driving that really gets my blood going about being an Airport Bus Driver.  Nope, it's the cool driver's seat!  Have you seen that thing?  It's like a giant cushion on hydraulics that is totally bump proof.  You can hit a speed bump at 90 miles an hour and that seat will just ride you through it.

So, what's I'm designing is an Airport Bus Driver simulator.  Right in my garage.  I think I can take the passenger seat out of the Lexus (nobody rides there, anyway) and mount it on four paint shakers.  Strap myself in, throw the switch and I'm on my way to Terminal E!

Y'all hang on, ya hear?


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gumbo Sunday

Kink is on my lap preventing me from typing very good.  Thank

s

Kn
ink

yu hlpvvul

get ur own blg

www.kinkthecat.com

k

bai

smell gumbo

need kat hair init?

ug tail in fase cant seee

knnk

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Recycled

Andouille sausage update.

Smoking went well.  Cooling and air dry went well.  One link disappeared as well.  A thief in the night stole a solitary link (about a foot long) with some crackers and a beer.  The thief reported that the Andouille sausage was superb.  Thanks, thief.



Recycle update.

Neighbor's recycle container going into the truck:  whump, whump (paper)

Other Neighbor's recycle container going into the truck:  clackle, clackle (plastic)

Other Neighbor's recycle container going into the truck:  bang, clang (cans)

Our recycle container going into the truck:  CRASH, TINKLE, SMASH, BINKLE (pause) CRASH CRASH, SHATTER TINKLE CLATTER SMASH, CRASH BANG

(bottles.  lots and lots and lots of bottles.)

Just doing my part for the environment.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Leftovers

The best thing about Thanksgiving is the leftover meal!

That was noon today and dinner, too.  We polished off the turkey stuffing, yams, potatoes, stuffing, some of the turkey, shrimp soup and white bean casserole.

Of course we had PIE !!

This leftover blast from the past is a good way to get your weekend started.

Make two.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Messing with Yams

"Don't mess with Thanksgiving."

I'm told that every year.  Without fail.

Yes, it's true, in previous years I have messed with the tried and true Thanksgiving dinner formula and sometimes there are winners and sometimes there are losers.  However, the diners just don't want the risk.

A Thanksgiving dinner should be risk free:  roasted turkey, vegetables and desserts.  Simple.  No risk.

So, I was told not to mess with the turkey, not to mess with the casseroles, not to mess with the desserts.

But nobody told me not to mess with the yams or sweet potatoes by another name.  Why?  Because, in general, nobody but me eats them.  I can do what I want with yams and over the years I've done just that.  My standard recipe is simple:  cut up yams dredged in flour, tossed with brown sugar, dabbed with butter, a little water added, covered in foil and baked with the final 30 minutes or so open to crunch up the top.  Just make sure they don't dry out and baste them every 20 minutes.  Not a great dish but certainly passable.

This year, though, I thought I'd mess with the yams because I came across a new mango/ginger/habanero sauce that I wanted to try and I figured that yams were the perfect base.

I was right.  I used less brown sugar and added a liberal dousing of Fischer and Wieser's "Mang O Nero" mango, ginger, habanero sauce and the rest, as they say, was history.

Not overpowering, the sauce complimented the yams perfectly, let all of the flavors come through and provided a nice, gentle zing at the end.  It's always a little tricky putting habanero in recipes because you run the risk of welding lips shut which is never a good thing.

This time, several thumbs up.  Kink approves.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Andouille Time Again

It's November and time to whip up another batch of smoked Andouille sausage.

Here's the blueprint:

Pork shoulder
Garlic
Salt
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper
Paprika
Other Stuff
Tender Quick (curative)
Water

Cut the meat into inch or so cubes.  Mix the spices and make a slurry with some water.  Mix meat and slurry, bag it and let rest in the fridge for a couple of days.

Then cut one-quarter of the meat into tiny bits, grind the rest, mix and mix with a bit of powdered milk as a binder and stuff into pork sausage casing.

Dry in the fridge for a couple of days, then smoke at a low heat (170 F) until the internal temp reaches 165 F or so, but before the fat renders out of the sausage.  You want to cook the meat but not fry the fat.

So, here's the pork after 2 days of marinating in the spice and curative.  Notice the nice pink color it's developed and the chunks of garlic.  Cutting these strips into small chunks and adding them to the rest of the pork that's been ground coursely adds to the texture of the sausage.


And here is the stuffed sausage ready for drying in the fridge prior to smoking.  I used just shy of 10 lbs of pork for this sausage and I got about 10 feet of sausage.  I'll smoke it, cut it into portions, vacuum seal it and freeze it for use later in gumbos, stews, soups and other dishes that need a little spiced pork.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Choices

Cold out.  Dinner in.

Cat on lap.  Fire on.

Sleeping or blogging?

Sleeping or blogging?

Sleeping or blogging?

Sleeping or ...


Monday, November 19, 2012

Curried Flavor

I've written about Manjula before.

Manjula is an Indian lady living in San Diego who has a YouTube channel where she demonstrates Indian cooking.  Outstanding but simple recipes.

My curry cooking elevated many levels just from watching Manjula cook.

Tonight was no exception.

Uninspired and expecting cold, hungry people I inventoried my ingredients and found the basic three:  fresh tomatoes, jalapeño and ginger.  To this I added an egg plant, can of chick peas and a bag of lentils.

Manjula's basic recipe is simple:  buzz up the tomatoes, ginger and jalapeño and sauté the mixture in a little oil, then add in curry spices and garam masala, cover and cook.

That's it.

It's sort of like a Texas chili which has the same ingredients along with a ton of cow and left to settle for about two hours, although Manjula's currys only need 30 minutes or so.

Anyway, the hordes arrived to great smells in the kitchen and exclamations that I must have spent the entire day cooking.

My secret.

And yours.

Manjula's Kitchen on YouTube.  Go there and be enlightened.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Twiinkie RIP

It's probably a bit early to dig a grave for the venerable Twinkie, although Twinkie certainly did its best to dig a grave for us!  I think the Twinkie will live on and possibly, with a little effort, work its way back into polite society, so to speak.

Looking back, the Twinkie was my second favorite of the Hostess "big three."  Hostess Cup Cakes were my favorite:  chocolate frosted devil's food with a cream center.  Second were Twinkies:  sponge cake fingers with a cream center.  And in last place were Snowballs:  coconut marshmallow covered devil's food cake  with a cream center.

( Hostess certainly had the "cream center" down pat! )

I put Cup Cakes at the head of the line simply for greed.  I thought you got more for your money with Cup Cakes than with Twinkies and Snowballs came in last because of the coconut - Duh!  With Cup Cakes you got the cake and the cream center, plus a chocolate frosted toping.  The little white curl on top was of no account whatsoever and didn't figure into the equation.  Simply not an issue.

As far as a quick snack went a pair of Twinkies wasn't a bad option.  At least you knew what you were getting and I can say one thing for sure about Twinkies:

I never had a stale Twinkie.

It may not be possible to stale-ify a Twinkie.  Surly there has been some research on the subject.  It's mind boggling to think that a billion years from now cockroaches could be dining on fresh Twinkies.

So, maybe Twinkies aren't RIP after all.  It could be we're on the verge of a ...

Zombie Twinkpocalypse!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Meat the Loaf

"Let's have meat loaf tonight!"

The perfect suggestion landed in my ears with a welcome smack.  Meat loaf, indeed.  Why hadn't I thought of that?

Of course, with meat loaf there's always a problem and the problem is that we EAT IT ALL!  I could make 40 pans of meat loaf and we'd sit there going through a case of ketchup and 5 bushels of mashed potatoes chomping through every last one.

Is meat loaf that good?

Well, mine is!

The basic blueprint is simple:

hamburger and sausage, about half and half or whatever you have.
sautéed onions, one or two or whatever you have
carrot or other veggies or whatever you have
breadcrumbs or oatmeal flakes or whatever you have
What's-this-here-sauce or whatever you have
egg or no egg or whatever you have
salt, pepper or curry powder or gunpowder or whatever you have

Mix it in a bowl or on a board or in or on whatever you have.
Throw it in a pan, wrap it in foil or toss it in the oven in whatever you have.

Cook it at 350 or 360 or 375 or in a Dutch oven on a fire or use a blowtorch or whatever you have.
Cook until done, unless you like it rare, or unless you like it well done or whatever you like.

Serve with mashed potatoes, ketchup and two bottles of wine.  That's a requirement.

Enjoy, or whatever you like.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.  Whatever.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Hail Del Davis

Here's an opening line that should be easy to recognize:


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...

Dickens.  Tale of Two Cities.

One of my favorite books that I have read 3-4 times and maybe five. Or more.  I don't remember the times so much as the Times and that's the important thing.

Here's another:

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

That's the opening line for The Hobbit by Tolkien.  It's the sort of opening line that draws you in to the story immediately.

I remember where I was when I read that line and I remember thinking at the time, "I'm going to like this book." And I did.

I was introduced to The Hobbit by my junior year English teacher, Del Davis, to whom I am indebted for many reasons. 

First, Del introduced me to The Hobbit and later I moved on to the Lord of the Rings which had just come out in paperback at our local bookstore.  Also, Del introduced me to the writings of Lao Tsu which influenced my life over the next decade.  Del also encouraged his class to learn to think for themselves which set me on a path I follow to this day.

So, thank you, Del, your mentorship influenced a generation of students.  I think about you every time I re-read The Hobbit and I think I'll start again tonight.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blowing My Mind

First, an update on yesterday's posting.

Since announcing that my house was only a scant few degrees F warmer than Antarctica, my pool has been filled with penguins and they're eating me out of house and home of fish tacos.

Thank you, penguins, you are welcome!

OK, now for leaf blowers.

Leaf blowers.

Why?  Why, oh, why?

What is wrong with raking a few leaves or grass clippings with a nice, soothing scritch scritch scritch instead of the incessant hour long RRRRRRRRRRRRWWWWWWWWWWW!!

What does leaf blowing actually do?  Nothing!  It moves a leaf - eventually - from here

to

there.

That's it.  All that noise, all that work, all that exhaust just to move a leaf from here

to

there.

Tell you what, leaf blowers, I'll be glad to move your leaves from here to there for free.  Just give me a call at


BR-549

any time day or night.  I'll be there.  Meanwhile, just say no, OK.

Thank you very much.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All Fired Up

It's 41 degrees outside and I've got the fire on.

The.  Fire.  On.

41.

I know, it's ridiculous.  I should be outside in a t-shirt in weather like this!  Forty-one isn't cold.  Although, that said, it's only 13 degrees cooler in Antarctica right now.

No, wait, wait, I've got that backwards!

It's only 13 degrees WARMER here than at the South Pole!

No wonder I have the fire on.  I made the right decision after all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Not Hawt Enough

Are we cool for last night's ribs reheated for dinner?

Ohhhh, yes!

OK, I'm going to do them in the oven because the microwave makes them soggy and I want them bubbly.

Ohhhhh, yes!

Clinking and clanking in the kitchen I made a salad, got out some other stuff and waited for the ribs to come up to temperature.  Not wanting to overcook them or burn the sauce or otherwise damage the goods I turned down the oven from 350 to about 250, enough to heat without burning.

Yo, dinner is served!  Potato salad, check.  Green salad, check.  Drinks, check.  Other stuff, check.  OK, let's eat.

(Unwrapping the ribs)

I don't see any steam, she said.

Well, there shouldn't be any steam if we're just heating them up.

They're cold.

No, they're warm.

They're cold.

No, they're luke warm.

They're cold.

No they're cool.  And, I might add, they're getting cooler the more we discuss this.

(as it turns out that was the wrong thing to say and the ribs are back in the oven and dinner is on hold.)

Uh, while the ribs are heating up I'll just go upstairs and pay the bills and maybe write a blog and maybe do a video or something.

Much later ...

Owwwww, I burned my mouth on this rib!!!

Slowly I turned ...


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Too Hawt

Last night's ribs were deemed "too hot" by She Whose Tongue Must Be Obeyed and I was corn-fused.

Too hawt?  Meaning too cool?

Too hot?  Meaning, I told you they just came out of the smoker so don't burn that Tongue That Must Be Obeyed.

Too hot?  Meaning spicy hot?  I only put a tablespoon or two of cayenne pepper in the rub and basted it with Devil Fire sauce.  That kind of hot?  I didn't notice.

These ribs were a "quick rub" in that they didn't sit in the fridge overnight, just an hour or so.  I usually give quick rub ribs (try saying that three times!) a couple of hastings to "run off" any excess rub powder that hasn't melted into the meat, but this time I only gave it a single baste.  Maybe that left too much cayenne on the surface resulting in the "too hot" observation.

Observation, not complaint.  Observation, not judgement.  Observation, not a declaration to take over rib smoking for the next 40 years or so.  Yeah, "observation" not those other things.

Tonight it's roast chicken which won't be hot or hast but hot, if you get the drift.  Nothing funny except for the purple roasted potatoes, but, hopefully, I can explain the whole End of theWorld calendar thing and why we must eat purple potatoes.  Besides, they were on sale, which also explains the pineapple rings on the chicken.

Chicken pineapple?  It's all the rage.  In Peru.  Trust me, I'm an expert!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ribs in the Cribs

The ribs are in the cribs!

That is, the baby back pork ribs lightly seasoned have been cooking for 7 hours at 225 Fahrenheit and are ready for debut.

Going with the ribs will be a mixed potato salad.  Now, that's a bag of mixed potatoes - white, red, purple and some other color, all boiled up and mixed with boiled egg, spring onion, celery, sour cream, mayo and other stuff to be a good potato salad.  Oh, and bacon, lots of bacon!

Ribs were basted with a special concoction of bbq sauce, and other stuff too secret to describe.

Looking forward to that meat fall off the bone goodness that is coming my way in a few minutes.


Friday, November 09, 2012

Meat November

I thought it was cool outside today until I realized it was the air conditioning in my car blowing on my sweaty face.  Not quite cool enough, but getting there.

November is Meat Month meaning it's time to get things ready to smoke.  I'm talking about salmons, ribs, briskets and especially my favorite Andouille sausage!

Yes, the Andouille sausage factory is gearing up for another year of great sausage and this year I plan to make a double triple quadruple humongous batch of delicious spicy smoked sausage.

The blueprint is the same: Boston butt cut of pork, spices and seasonings, grinding and stuffing and finally gentle smoking.

Last year the product turned out great and I'm not sure I used it all up and will have to check the freezer section before I go hog wild.  Get it, hog wild?

Never mind.

I do recall that last year I didn't add enough cayenne pepper which I will remedy this year.  And salt.  Mo' salt.  Mo' salt and mo' heat!  That's the ticket.  And for you die hards out there, it's not supposed to be GOOD for you, just good on the tongue and look out stomach here it comes!

Just in time my World Sausage Catalog arrived today with all sorts of good stuff on sale but I think I'll just go with a new batch of casing since I had a wardrobe malfunction last year that was too embarrassing to talk about.  I mean, when your casing goes ... never mind.
Pictures and recipes to follow.

Meanwhile, I'll be warming up the smoker tomorrow with a rack or two of baby back pork ribs which means I'll have to blog early tomorrow or risk being all arrgle bargle after those ribs are done.

We'll see.



Thursday, November 08, 2012

Peek of Perfection

I have a simple rule of cooking:  two hours.

That means than any kind of stew or mixed thing dish requires two hours, at least, to steep, percolate, combine, layer, mingle or, well, stew.

That's it, isn't it?  Stewing.

You don't stew for a few minutes, you stew for hours, days, months, years or until you die!  Stewing takes time and so does so many dishes we all cook.

Sure, there are short order cooks and some things can be done on short, quick notice.  Chicken fried steaks do not need to be stewed.  Fry them, serve them.  Simple.

Some chicken and fish do not need to be stewed, fried or cooked at all.  Fry that chicken!  Serve that sushi.  No foul.

Texas chili?  Well, that's a different animal.  It needs time or as they say in Texas, Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime.  At least two hours and if you let it sit overnight then reheat, then prepare for the Second Coming because you're going to come for a second time.  (Courtesy of DoubleEntendre.com)

Now, my rule of cooking is Don't Peek.  It's a simple rule.  I put stuff in a pot and you don't peek at it.  I don't peek at it, rather, I remove the lid with respect to slide in another layer of seasoning.  But you, dear reader, don't touch my pot.  Got it?  No pot it.

So, imagine my amazement when someone who should know better asked to see what was in the pot.  The conversation went like this:

What's in the pot?

Dinner.  Don't look.  You'll ruin it.

Seriously, I'll "ruin" dinner by looking at it?

Yes.  Do you remember your freshman physics at all?  Think back to the Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment?  The cat is in a box with a 50-50 chance of being killed, but you can't see in the box.  The cat is both alive and dead until you open the box.  Then you either see a purring, happy cat or a corpse and at that time you collapse the probability of 50-50 to 1.  By the same reasoning, if you look at dinner it has a chance of being ruined.  Don't look.

I'm going to look.  Oh, it's meat and gravy!  My favorite!  Pour me a glass of red and I'll retire to the study until dinner is ready.

I poured a glass of Cline Zinfindel 2002 and resigned myself to my doom.

Opened the lid, she did.  I'll need an Owl Burger with onion rings and a tall one to recover from this.

Later I called dinner and served up.  The meat and gravy was perfect, nicely seasoned and in a delightful mushroom and onion sauce, and the sprout were perfectly cooked as was the rice.  In all respects a gourmet meal cooked and presented to perfection.

After the expected ooooh's and aaaaaah's on presentation I awaited judgement on the main course which was, of course, perfect.

There was a forkful, a taste, a quizzical look and finally a pronouncement:  I know your meat and gravy and I like your meat and gravy but I have to say this meat and gravy is lacking something.  Perhaps time?

Slowly, I turned, step by step, inch by inch ...

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Deja Muse

I'm sitting here trying to think of something to write about and the Muse has gone AWOL.

Vamoosed, probably with the Weather Vulture.  Figures.

So, I said to myself, I said, "Self, what did you write about last year about this time?"

And the answer wasn't pretty:  Nothing.  I ran down the list of usual subjects and drew a blank.  Basically it was a dull day.

November 7th cancelled due to lack of interest.

1.  Cats - slept all day.  Normal yowling at dinnertime.

2.  Drivers - mostly well-behaved.  Oh, pulling out on to the normally very busy road it was completely clear as far as the eye could see in both directions.  Amazing!  I haven't seen the road that empty since I didn't get the memo about the hurricane evacuation a few years ago.  I did a jackrabbit start anyway just to keep in practice.

3.  Shopping - didn't go shopping.

4.  Cooking - leftover curried vegetables and I whipped up a quick chicken red curry to pad out the meal.  That used up all the food so I'll have to go shopping tomorrow and, hopefully, have an adventure, but not an exciting or "interesting" adventure, I hope.

5.  Weather - beautiful Fall day with clear skies and a chance of acorns.

6.  Health - the athlete's foot I reported last year is coming along nicely.  It should be up to my knees by Christmas 2014.


\kl09rj m jir;rq31t342

That was Kink trying to help out.  Thanks, buddy!  I'd better post this before he hits Delete and I'd have to start over.  That would be a tragedy of epic proportions at this stage!




Tuesday, November 06, 2012

That Guy

I drove home listening to the news on the radio.  Election results were coming in.  Four more years couldn't be any worse than the previous four years, or could it?

I didn't want to think about it.  The campaigns had been contentious, the incumbent was steady, true and boring and the challenger was all Rah Rah USA!  USA!

The mid-East was in turmoil and the economy was a mess.  I just hoped I'd have a job and be able to afford gasoline.

They can all rot, I thought, just let it be over.

In the end I just gave up and voted for a third party candidate, unwilling to support either of the main guys.  I knew it was a throw-away vote but I figured the non-side was more tolerable than the winning or losing side.

Finally, the results came in and I couldn't believe that guy won!  Surly the country was doomed and I might as well move to France.  They speak French there, right?  Better get a Berlitz book next time I'm at the book store.  Mental note.

Yep, times were a-changing when a guy like this could get elected president.

As I drove home that November night in 1980 I wondered what the future would bring with that actor guy, Ronald Reagan, as president.

We'll see, I thought, we'll see.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Park the Phone

The disaster unfolded in slow motion.

A Ferengi, a Klingon, a Cardassian  and a Romulan got into their individual vehicles and proceeded to power up their personal communicators.


Enough ... is never enough, thought the Ferengi looking down at his haul of latinum, not bad selling after market mini-communicators to impatient suckers.  Not bad at all.

"Hey, Mordoc," the Ferengi said into his communicator, tucking it under his chin while he adjusted the reverse thrusters, "I'll meet you at Owl Burger in 10.  Set me up with a tall one, some wings and a beer."  The Farengi chortled at his little joke, a tall one, indeed!

The Klingon was in a bad mood, that is to say, normal.  He had been stood up for lunch by Kor'gig but didn't really care because he was able to polish off a double helping of gak, best served warm.  Tucking his communicator under his chin while he adjusted his aft thrusters he left a suitably rude message on Kor'gig's voice mail.  "And your little dog, too!" he concluded, pleased with a human film reference he was sure Kor'gig wouldn't get.  That green witch would be my woman, he thought absently.

The Cardassian slumped into the pilot seat both irritated and pleased with himself;  irritated with his assignment working part-time at a "retail store" and pleased with having set-up his store manager to be accused of embezzlement.  I'll be store manager then, the Cardassian thought, and they will all pay, yes they will all pay.  Tucking his personal communicator under his chin he speed-dialed Gul Prime to make his report.  "On schedule," the Cardassian summarized briefly while optimizing his reversing thrusters, "Gul Ram out."

"Cursed pod doors," muttered the Romulan, snagging the over-sized shoulder pads of his tunic on the frame, "I am definitely going for a mid-size next time."  Firing up the reverse engines, the Romulan pulled out his communicator, pressed the central activator and commanded, "Siri, dial Praetor Timex."

Siri replied, "The times for Predator V are 1:15, 3:00 and 5:30."

The Romulan sighed, looked at the communicator and wondered why he ever left Homeworld.  He moved the aft thruster to one-quarter impulse.

The Cardassian slipped into reverse at one-quarter impulse.

Fighting the urge to jump immediately to warp the Klingon eased back at one-quarter impulse.

Singing "make a profit, make a profit, make a profit I will do my best!" the Feringi happily backed out at one-quarter impulse.

What followed, after the inevitable four-way collision was known as the Great Galactic Mall Parking Lot War consisting of much yelling, screaming, finger pointing and challenges to personal ancestry and threats to small dogs and the horse you rode in on.

It's the only explanation I can offer to watching four cars parked opposite each other, back slowly into each other, at the same time.  All drivers were on their cell phones, there was no real damage and I can only imagine that they are still out there right now yelling at each other.

Me, I'm meeting Mordoc at Owl Burger for a tall one and a beer.  Warp factor 5.  Engage.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Wing Man

Everybody needs a wing man.

I'm more of a, well, never mind about that, but suffice it to say I am not a wing man.  I'll just drink a few beers, eat some chips and call it a night.  The wingers can nibble away on their messy bird scraps.  Doesn't bother me a bit.

"Hey, how about meeting me at Owl Burger for some wings and suds and a little football."

"You know me, suds and football are a fine combination but keep those flappers to yourself."

Owl Burger was packed.  We spied a couple getting up from a table and hovered like vultures, er, owls over them until they got the hint and hurried up.  It helped that I paid their bill.

Once comfortably seated the Owl Girl glided over and the wing fest began.

"We'll have a plate of spicy jalapeño, ranch, garlic parmesan, lemon soy and original BBQ.  Oh and a bowl of chips for my wing-hating buddy here."

"What, only five orders of wings?" I commented, "Are you on a diet or something?"

Before my friend could answer the Owl Girl burst my bubble for the night - "Sorry, honey, we're out of chips."

Is that possible?  I didn't think the phrase "out of chips" existed in the English language.

So, I sat there grumbling into my beer, watched the Cowboys usher the Falcons over the goal line too many times:  After you, kind sir.  Why, thank you very much, I don't mind if I do.

Disaster.

Then the wings arrived and not having eaten anything since breakfast three days ago I allowed myself just a taste.  More of a peck than a bite.  And then something miraculous happened.  It tasted good!  Really, really good.  I chalk it up to the beer and hunger and the Cowboys giving the game away but I was suddenly into wings!

"Hey, dude, slow down!  I don't think you're supposed to eat the bones."

I had become a Wing Eating Machine.

Owl Girl swooped down and asked if there was anything else she could get us.

"Yeah," I piped up, "another round of beers and wings."

"Right, beer and which wings, the BBQ or original or ..."

I cut her off, "No, all of them.  Bring me all of the wings!  I am the Wing Man.  I am the Walrus!"

And that's a true story.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Squirrely

The squirrels that live around our house take a shortcut from the front yard to the back yard by going over the roof.  Over the years I've gotten used to hearing the pitter patter of little squirrel feet clattering from the front, over the top and down the back.  There are large oak trees on either end of this squirrel expressway and it must be fun to go skidding down the shingles and leap into the tree.

But that was then and this is the Year of the Acorn.  To put it mildly the acorn crop this year has been more than bountiful.  The trees are dropping nuts faster than the GOP can register them!  Everywhere you step it's crunch, crunch, crunch and the roads are brimming from curb to curb with smashed acorns.

However, that's only half of the problem.  The acorns that haven't hit the ground have hit the stomachs of our ravenous squirrels and those "little" guys are getting Pump You Up ginormous!

How fat are they?

I had to use a wide angle lens to photograph one in the tree.

The trees looks like stalks of broccoli next to these dudes.

The pitter patter has turned into a buffalo stampede that is shaking the plaster out of the ceiling.

I saw a squirrel get hit by a car the other day and the car had to pull over with a smashed grill while the squirrel looked on reproachfully.

They've learned how to turn on the hot tub and party on the back deck chattering away until the wee hours of the morning.  I went out there to shut down the party and got stared down, instead.

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Squirrel.

Squirrel who?

Mister Squirrel to you, that's who!

And so it goes.  It's not too bad, really.  The squirrels have moved in and seem to be taking care of the place OK.  I've got a nice spot out back by the hedge and you know, there's nothing like the great outdoors.  Fresh air, lots of stars at night and all the acorns a guy could ask for.  Bon appetite!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Not the Cat

I went up to the Apple store to check out the new iPad mini.  I've already got an iPad, several in fact, but I wanted to see the ONE thing Apple was making that I had no interest in what so ever.

What.  So.  Ever.

Not big enough to be an iPad, too big to be an iPod Touch or iPhone and, well,  just weird.

The store was crowded but I made my way to the iPad mini table and

fell

in

love

Oh, my.  The white iPad mini with its polished edge was just too beautiful to resist.  I picked it up and cradled it to my chest and wept.  Oh, my, lovely, please, please come home with me.

And she did.

There is a point where function and art merge and this is it.

Well done.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Grits

There's a new look in town.  I've been postponing updating the outdated side bar for a few years because Blogger changed the template editor and it meant that I had to redo everything.

However the time has come because many of the links I had on the side bar have moved on, were out of date, dead or missing in action.

So, out with the old 8-year old look and in with the new look, in stages.  The only thing constant is change and, well, that's what's going to happen this month.

Meanwhile ...

Grits.

Love them or hate them there is no middle ground.  Nobody on the planet says "Grits are OK!"

No, they either say, "I hate grits!"

Or

They say, "I love grits!"

Seriously, if you say you neither love them nor hate them but will eat them then you are a LIAR!  That's my rule and I'm sticking with it.

Now, all you grits cookers out there know that cooking the perfect grits is a challenge.  You have to get the water just right, the grits just right, the butter and salt just right and anything you might add to the grits, like cheese, jalapeños, bichon friese  or other roadkill has to be just right.

Say no more.

So, imagine my surprise when I was at my local kitchen supply store and came across a Grit Pot.

Yes, a Grit Pot!  Designed especially for cooking grits to perfection no matter what the accouterment.  I was electric, ecstatic and otherwise charged.

I bought it in a flash, took it home and proceeded to make a batch of grits.

Let's see, two cups of water, salt, butter and one-half cup of grits.  Bring the water to a boil, done, toss in the grits, done, return to the boil, done, reduce the heat, done, cover and wait 5 minutes, done and turn off heat.  Serve when ready.

With great anticipation I removed the lid and looked down upon the bestest pot o' grits these old eyes have ever seen.  Bubblingly creamy and glistening with gritness there was not a single grit stuck to the pot nor dried out.  It was grit perfection, the perfect grit just like the box said.

I laid out bowls on the table, butter, grated cheese, honey and hot sauce for those with particular taste in grits and called the troops.

Well, need I say that the response was overwhelming!  Wonderful grits!  Astounding grits!  Best grits ever!  Astounding!  Awesome!  That and more and a few marriage proposals.  Awkward.  The Great Grits Experiment was a resounding success.  Yea, me!

Several days later I announced that I was going to do Coq au Vin for dinner which requires a large pot. I thought about using my stovetop Dutch oven but decided instead to use my new grits pot which was slightly larger and had a better fitting lid.  I sautéed the chicken with bacon and shallots, dumped in a bottle of Bordeaux and let the mixture stew for two hours.  Meanwhile I prepared the mushrooms and pearl onions, vegetables, dessert and other stuff for my splendid dinner.  One final adjustment of seasonings only reinforced my personal self-promotion image of perfection and the aromas emanating from the kitchen were driving the troops mad with hunger and desire.

Setting the table, I brought the pot of Coq au Vin over and set in the middle for serving.  The troops arrived and everybody was in great anticipation.  It smelled great.

With a flourish I whipped off the top of the pot with a "Ta da!" to the oohs and aaahs expected only to hear confusion and someone aloud asking, "Is this a joke?"

Looking down into the pot expecting a lovely Coq au Vin, what stared back at me was a pot of -

grits.

Yes, grits.  Coq au Gone.  Vamoosed.  Vanished.

Grits.

Nice grits.  Lovely grits.  Perfectly cooked grits.  But, not Coq au Vin.  Or spaghetti sauce the next time I cooked in that pot.  Nor beef stew, or pork 'n' peppers, or onion soup or anything else I've ever tried to cook in that pot.  Yes, I can put in the ingredients and, yes, I can season it and watch it and all goes well and good until I bring it to the table to serve at which time it's -

grits.

Nice grits.  Lovely grits.  Perfectly cooked grits.  But, not what I intended.

Like the instructions said, this is the perfect pot for cooking grits.  And that's what you're going to get!

Bon Appetit!