Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Lunch with Katie

I had lunch with Katie Couric today.

Well, sort of.

She was in New York and I was in Houston, but we coordinated things through space and time.

I hope her lunch was as good as mine.

Los Cucos has transformed its menu to a seafood theme and I must say successfully.

I had a Rollo Mariscos which is a piece of white fish wrapped around a seafood stuffing of shrimp, crab and scallops, baked and served with a white sauce with rice.

The Rollo wasn’t the only thing stuffed.

Katie and I both changed jobs today. Katie went to a new day job at a major news network, and I went to a new day job at the pool out back.

Yes, I have slipped my chains and am no longer working for the Man. It turns out that my Have Enough and Had Enough curves crossed, a bell rang, and it was time to go.

Poor Katie. She’ll be reading the news, aloud, and I’ll be reading the news on my laptop by the pool. Katie, baby, you checked the wrong box!

Tomorrow is June 1, and Day 1 for me. A new beginning. What can possibly happen? I had a dream that every day was Saturday. I woke up and it was.

Let’s go out and play!

Saturday, May 27, 2006


“Oh, lookie here! Strawberry pancakes! My favorite.”

“Can I take you’re order, Hon?”

“Yeah. About the strawberry pancakes, are the strawberries fresh?”

“Sure are, Hon.”

“Great. I’ll have the strawberry pancakes, but don’t put anything else on them like whipping cream or powdered sugar or strawberry syrup, as some places do.”

“Well, Hon, that’s the way they come, with the syrup juice that is.”

“I thought you said the strawberries were fresh.”

“They are, Hon, fresh froze. Thawed ‘em out this mornin’ jus’ for you.”

“Ah. I see. On second thought, Ranch Breakfast Number Two looks good.”

“Good choice, Hon, we only use the freshest eggs.”

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Internetless in Missouri

I have found a place without a connection to the Internet.

Hard. To. Breathe...

I'm. In. Misery-ouri. Send. Help.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Great Caesar’s Salad!

This salad was originally created in 1924 by Caesar Cardini at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico and was prepared and served right at the table.

I decided for Mother’s Day to prepare an Original Caesar’s salad and therein lay the rub.

What was the Original Caesar’s Salad?

Most schools of thought point to the following ingredients: romaine lettuce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, croutons, parmesan cheese, garlic, egg and fresh ground pepper.

The proportions go along the lines of:

5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves
1 head of lettuce
shake of Worcestershire
1 egg

Variations include a can of anchovies (my favorite!).

Further variations include avocado, tomato, cashews, chicken and other things, perhaps a bowling ball. Who knows?

All cockfloppery aside, my Mother’s Day Great Caesar’s Salad turned out splendiferous and I’ll share the blueprint here.

First, I baked, not fried, the croutons in the oven by brushing slices of La Madeline bread with olive oil, sprinkling some salt, pepper and garlic powder and baking at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Next, I broke up a head of romaine lettuce into half-inch pieces. Into separate small bowls I prepared the olive oil, anchovies minced with two cloves of garlic, parmesan cheese, and fresh lemon juice.

Next, I coddled the egg by dropping a room temperature egg into boiling water for 45 seconds, then dumping the egg into iced water.

To prepare the salad I dumped in the olive oil, lemon juice, anchovies/garlic and parmesan cheese, croutons and tossed with great panache. Then I cracked the coddled egg over the salad and tossed until it was incorporated. Finished with fresh black pepper per serving.

Two words:

Rave. Review.

I don’t know if it was the preparation of the salad at the table, or the fact that all the ingredients were fresh or that the croutons were baked or that the parmesan was Italian.

Who knows?

The combination was fantastic, the anchovies added some salt and the fresh lemon juice provided just the right snap.

I think I’ll try this again with some variations and I’ll check out using Worcestershire sauce instead of anchovies just for grins.

Personally, though, I love those little salty, oily fishes!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Death of a Blogger

The Blogoverse is a strange place filled with the thoughts, musings, lives, hopes, frustrations and most of all words of millions of nameless people, most of whom are just trying to get from A to B.

Occasionally, a voice surfaces above the babble to speak loudly, strongly and with the kind of clarity we all hope we could achieve.

Such was the voice of CancerBaby who wrote about her battle with ovarian cancer.

We all pulled for CancerBaby as her treatments yinned and yanged. Her hold on life was strong and her outlook totally positive. CancerBaby’s gift for writing was a beacon of optimism. Such clarity is rare and she was clear and strong and purposeful and…

Right up to the end.

CancerBaby, whose name we are told was Jessica, died today at age 33.

I don’t know why her death has affected me as it has, other than as a fellow blogger there is a form of kinship that results from reading blogs, commenting on blogs and receiving feedback. The Blogosphere is mostly a fun place. Although I never received an acknowledgement from CancerBaby, I nevertheless poured in my support and wished her well.

CancerBaby, Jessica, is a total stranger to me, but I feel a profound sadness at her loss. It also causes me to reflect on the social phenomenon that is blogging and how it might affect the relationships between people in the future. It can only help.

Rest in peace, Jessica.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Inez. I think that’s Spanish for “sphinx.” Inez the indestructible. Inez the indecipherable. Inez the unattainable.

Inez is the consummate checker: quick, efficient, impassionate, professional. A perfect employee. Inez the Magnificent.

I, on the other hand, am the oddball customer, although I’d prefer to be called “extraordinary.” I like to joke around, tell tall tales and play the fool. (play?)

Inez has no time for me. She’s like checkcheckcheckcheck…sign here…thankyouandpleasereturnsoon.

“And, don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” is implied.

Don’t get me wrong, Inez is an excellent employee; fast and efficient, remember. But, I want something more in a checker. I want that special relationship.

So, yesterday as I was waiting in Inez’s line I hatched a plan.

As I was checking out I started a conversation with the sacker.

“You know, I’ve been a customer here for years and years.”

“Uh huh.”

“Yep, and I know all the staff. There’s Mel the store manager, and Carlos the floor supervisor (ah, Carlos we shall meet again!), and AJ in vegetables, and Evan in meats and Bud in the pharmacy.”

“Uh huh.”

I could tell Inez was listening.

“But my favorite employee in the entire store is…” I paused for dramatic effect,


“Uh huh.”

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Inez hesitate momentarily. It was just a brief pause in her scanning rhythm that tipped me off that she was listening. Her dark eyes narrowed slightly and her lips pursed. To the casual observer she would have been impassive, but I knew. I knew.

As the last item was scanned and the total rang up I knew there would be The Question.

“Is that all?” Inez asked, looking up, casting her Sphinx-like expression on me.

I was ready.

“No, that’s not all. I have something else.”

Inez looked impassive. The sacker looked up sensing something was about to happen.

“I’ve been coming here quite a while, haven’t I?” I didn’t wait for a response.

“I’ve checked out in your lane maybe a hundred times, wouldn’t you say?”

No response.

“I’ve been your customer for quite some time, wouldn’t you say? Several years, possibly. A long time without doubt. We know each other.”

Inez gave an infinitesimal nod.

The sacker looked up sensing something different was in the air. He looked around for support, but none was there.

I looked into Inez’s eyes, leaned close and whispered, “Knock, knock.”

Inez’s eyes narrowed. She gazed at me intently. Her hands came up from her sides and gripped the side of the counter. She turned her head slightly not taking her eyes off me.

She swallowed hard and her eyes darted from me to the sacker and back again. She licked her lips, drew a deep breath, leaned forward towards me and whispered back

“Who’s there?”

It was the first time Inez had ever spoken to me and I was nearly derailed from my plan. Her breath was like a Gulf breeze across a morning stretch of sand. “Who’s there?” almost hypnotized me, but I recovered quickly and pressed on with the script.

“Oh, Inez,” I whined in my best whiney voice, “you’ve forgotten me already?”

Silence descended on the store. A lone ceiling fan somewhere over the deli creaked out a cricket’s love song. The sacker watched intently. Shoppers, checkers and sackers throughout the store stopped and wondered what was going on.

Inez looked at me.

I looked at Inez.

Then, slowly as a Spring dawn unfolding over a sheep-ridden meadow the corners of Inez’s mouth started to quiver and rise up across her cheeks as she broke out into an ear-splitting grin.

Her eyes sparkled and she began to inhale all the air in the store, and when she had done that she let loose with the heartiest guffaw known to Krogerdom. Tears sprung from her eyes as she grabbed her ribs and fell to the floor in uncontrollable mirth. She was giggling uncontrollably, kicking her heels on the floor.

As Inez pounded the floor in an attempt to gain control, I signed my ticket and quietly slipped out the door.

In the parking lot the Old Hand was collecting shopping carts near my truck.

As I approached, he turned to look at the store and back at me. I loaded my shopping into the truck and the Old Hand approached.

“Lots of laughing going on in there,” the Old Hand said.

“Yep,” I replied.

“If I had to guess, it would be the old reverse knock-knock joke. Just a guess,” the Old Hand said.

“Yep,” I said, “I figured that Inez was just ripe enough. Just ripe enough.”

“Ah, so, Sackmeister,” the Old Hand mused, “you are wise beyond your years.”

“Knock, knock,” I said.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Stab Me with an Icicle

I have a weakness for bar-b-que.

That is not to say that I am a connoisseur of bar-b-que or that I even like it. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, and by stating this I run the risk of losing my Texas citizenship, bar-b-que is OK.

That’s it. Just OK. Not great or wonderful or “to die for”. Just OK as in if there’s something else going like, say, squid eye soup, I’ll take the soup.

So, my weakness for bar-b-que is that I’m not proficient at cooking it. Like my lust for bar-b-que I’m OK.

To my rescue came Shane of The Backyard Series and a serious bar-b-quer who sent me a collection of “dry rubs” and sauces.

Following Shane’s instructions to a T-bone I applied the rubs, granted the ribs the correct amount of season time, cooked them with loving care and basted them regularly.

I must say that Shane’s Ribs came out better than anything I had ever attempted in the past, including the:

Night of the Black Ribs

Unfortunate Class 9 Too-Spicy-to-Eat Ribs

Bone Dry Ribs

What’s That Smell? Ribs

and the classic You’ve Got to Be Kidding! Ribs.

Shane’s Ribs became the Yummy Let’s Do This Again Ribs.

And, with all that in mind came tonight’s conversation at Kroger’s. Let’s listen in:

“Oh, look, ribs are on sale. Let’s have ribs tonight!”

“Yes, let’s!” (I’m thinking, OK, dry rub, sit for an hour and wet mop with Shane’s sauce every 10 minutes for 2 hours. Dinner at 8:30. Yes, can do.)

(upon arriving home)

“Be a sweetie and put the grill on, please.”

“Well, hang on, I need to get the dry rub on the ribs and all that stuff before I fire up the grill.”

“Uh, dry rub?” Wrinkles nose.

“Yeah, like I did last time, dry rub, mopping, ribs. You know.”

“Ah, yes. I do know. Tell you what, I’ll do the ribs tonight.”

“But, but, but remember the last time? You said they were the best ribs you had ever eaten? What about that?”

“What I said was they were the best ribs you had ever cooked. They were hardly the best ribs I have ever eaten.”

Ouch! Take that icicle and shove it right in my heart why don’t you. Just hammer it in. Doesn’t hurt a bit. Nope. Just whack, whack, whack.

Shane! Come back, Shane!

I spent the rest of the evening looking up recipes for squid eye soup.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Turkish Adventure

My eldest daughter spent the summer of 2005 working at Space Camp in Izmir, Turkey. (see Links in the left-hand sidebar) One of the gifts she brought home was a Turkish cookbook: 77 traditional recipes with pictures.

I like pictures. Saves writing a thousand words.

The first thing I did was to lose the cookbook for nearly a year. It simply grew legs and walked off. Good-bye ezme, good-bye imam bayildi.

Until this weekend when like Jason in Haloween 45 it surfaced in my closet and screamed “Cook me!”

That brings me to the subject of lamb and my first question is this:

When did lamb replace gold as the standard for our currency? Hmmm?

I have heard of lamb bullion but this is ridiculous. Currently, or should I say currency, lamb is more costly than filet mignon.

That. Is. Just. Wrong.

Beef should be King of the Meats, not laaaamb. I mean we’re talking about great thundering herds of cattle on the hoof, Rawhide, get along little doggie and what made the West and why men were men and the Blazing Saddles campfire scene all that versus what?

A goat? Baaaaa.

No wonder there were range wars, I’m ready to take on a shepherd right now! Bring it on, wool-boy!

But, really, $17 a pound for “lamb?” Something is wrong in the Universe.

The very wise (I bow down at the mention of her name, I am so unworthy) Julia Child said the same thing about artichokes.

Bear with me on this.

A classic way to prepare the artichoke is to top the tail and end, trim the leaves around the fat bit near the stalk, and, eventually, discard the top leaves and the choke leaving a small disc of very tasty artichoke meat. Julia notes that preparing the artichoke in this manner assumes you can buy them for literally a dime a dozen, not $3.79 EACH.

Getting back to lamb it’s clearly a case of supply and demand. With the nation producing one goat per year it’s no wonder his stringy little carcass goes for top dollar.

And all that, believe it or not, brings us to tonight’s recipe: braised lamb with mushrooms Turkish style.

Except I substituted butterfly pork chops for the lamb. I think I made my case and, besides, pork is the new lamb. Think “baaaaaaaoink” and you’re there. Of course, in doing so I've offended all the Muslims and Jews of the world, roughly a billiion people, to whom I say "Can't you do something about the price of lamb in America?" We need to work together on this. I'm serious.

Here’s the blueprint:

2 large butterfly pork chops cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped very coarsely
4 cloves garlic, smashed
bunch of mushrooms, quartered
3-4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 jalapeno peppers, halved, seedless

Season the pork with salt, pepper and a dredge of ground cinnamon.

Saute the pork in some butter, add the onions and garlic, sauté some more, add the mushrooms.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 F and prepare some chicken stock or vegetable stock or any stock you have. About 1 ½ cups.

When the pork is browned transfer to an ovenproof dish, add the stock, toss in the jalapenos and tomatoes and place in the oven.

Cook until liquid is reduced and contents are brown, about an hour or 90 minutes.

Here’s the blueprint for rice and chickpeas:

1 cup uncooked rice
knob of butter
can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
stick of cinnamon
2 cups stock
sliced tomatoes
farmers cheese (optional)

Cook the rice in butter until lightly browned. Add the stock carefully as it will boil instantly and splatter everywhere. Add chickpeas, cover and cook normally for rice.

Prior to serving, transfer the rice mixture to an oven proof dish, garnish with some sliced tomatoes and grated cheese (if desired) and broil until heated through.

I’ve got some Mexican farmers cheese that I’m going to try.

Here’s the blueprint for an invention I’m going to try:

1 bag spinach
1 handful salted almonds, chopped
farmers cheese

Cook the spinach in a tablespoon of water (more steam than boil) being very careful not to scorch. Add the almonds and cheese. Toss and serve. This might go well with some chopped red bell pepper or pimentos.

And that’s it for Turkish Adventure night. Too bad about the lamb. The pork will benefit from the braising treatment.

Braise or broil, what’s up with that?

Broiling involves placing the meat on a pan or skewer and holding it right over the heat. Birds and fatty meats broil best because they provide a lot of intrinsic moisture and, if you’re careful, won’t dry out. However, if drying happens there’s always the magic of gravy.

Braising involves submerging the meat half-way in a liquid and cooking at a moderately high temperature. Pot roast, for example is best braised because it’s a tough cut of meat and benefits from the moisture of braising.


After dinner I asked the loaded question: How was it?

"Very nice and different!" came the replies, "...but..."

"But, what?"

"Well, the pork was nicely done, but I have this nagging feeling it would have been better with lamb."

Slowly I turned...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mango, please.

Son: “We have to do a video for English.”

Voice: “Oh? What on?”

“We’re doing Pygmalion.”

“Ohhhhh, My Fair Lady! My favorite!”

“We’re doing it in accents. I’ve been practicing.”

“What kind of accent?”


“Chutney? Are you doing it Bollywood-style?”


“Bollywood-style, you know, it’s all the rage.”

“No, we’re doing it normal style. Like London. London accents.”


“Earlier, when you said ‘Chutney’ did you mean to say ‘Cockney?’ “

“Yeah, thas it, gov! Cockn’y stoile. Whad’you fink oy said? You deaf or sumpin’?”

Monday, May 01, 2006

Blogethics Question

What kind of ill-mannered scoundrel would leave a derogatory comment on a blog using someone else's e-mail address and name as a cover?

Words that come to mind are unethical, cowardly, anti-social, small-minded, inconsiderate, selfish, base, shallow, insecure, uncreative, felonious...

Thanks to L for bringing this assault to my attention.