Monday, December 22, 2014

Tenth Anniversary

Twelve Two Two Fondue is


Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's All About the Two Two!

It's all about that Twenty-two!

Keep your Twenty-one and Twenty-three!

Give me that Twenty-two!

December Twenty-two, that is.  The magical date and reason for the Twelve Two Two Fondue season.

Buckle up that seatbelt because this is the Tenth Anniversary of Twelve Two Two Fondue, founded in 2004.

Yes, Fondue XI is here in just a few short hours, so find some Swiss cheese, white wine, good French bread, more wine, some close friends and have a fondue party.  Good friends, good food, good drink - what's not to like?

If you crank back into the archives you'll find stories about previous events.  Internet friends tell me that Twelve Two Two Fondue has been held on every continent, yes, including Antarctica.

In addition to our famous cheese fondue we also whip up a triple batch of Cold Chicken Curry also known as Coronation Chicken, a dish created especially for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Here's the blueprint for Cold Chicken Curry, a single batch:

Roast a chicken, cool, strip the carcass and chop/shred the meat.

Cook the sauce very gently.
  2 Tbs. mango chutney
  2 Tbs. tomato chutney
  1 Tbs. honey
  1 Tbs. curry powder
  dash Worcestershire sauce

Cool the sauce and add
  6 oz double cream
  half pint mayonnaise
  cup of sherry

Mix well.  Add chicken and refrigerate overnight for flavors to mix.

Serve cold over rice.

Notes on the recipe:  we have used Major Grey's chutney which is a mango mix and it works just fine.  I think any chutney would work.  If the mixture looks too "dry" add more cream and mayo.  It would also work adding plain yogurt or sour cream.

Cold Chicken Curry is a very nice, pleasing sweet and different dish to serve to a crowd.  We have observed the skeptical taste a small spoonful then load up their plate having never had something quite like this.

Now for the cheese fondue.

Who needs proportions!  Just mix it up, but here's a general blueprint:

8 oz emmental
8 oz gruyere
tablespoon of corn starch
2 cups dry white wine.

Grate the cheeses and mix with corn starch.  Bring wine to a simmer and add the cheese slowly stirring.  If the mixture is too thick add more wine, too thin more cheese.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


It's bad enough driving around at this time of year, Christmas shopping season, amongst people who are "not from here."

No, not from here at all.

They are all in the wrong lanes, trying to turn the wrong directions, driving too slowly or too fast - it's just Nutso!  Why can't these people shop in their own neighborhoods.  I'm just trying to get to the grocery store for some orange juice.  Is it too much to ask for the person in front of me to put down his phone and pay attention to the green turn arrow?  Apparently, so.

Then there was That Guy.

Brand new Corvette Stingray.  Red.  Dealer plates.  Six hundred horses stuck in traffic.  Going my speed, which was nothing.  That Guy would wait for a gap to appear in front of him, rev his powerful engine and leap forward, maybe, ten feet.  Then stop.  Next to me putting along in a not-Corvette.

What a loser!  Hot car, stuck in traffic, going the same speed as me.

I wish I had a red Corvette.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Modern Christmas

Pandora streaming Christmas music to my iPad linked by home WiFi to an Airport Express connected to a Techniques 200 Watt receiver driving a pair of Klipschorn concert hall speakers.

Joy to the World!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

A Word From Our Sponsor

And now a word from out sponsor.

To get started collecting antique maps I recommend highly the definitive book on the subject:

Collecting Antique Maps
Jonathan Potter

Now quite pricy on Amazon, but there you have it.

Jonathan Potter got interested in antique maps in the mid-seventies and bought maps and atlases at street markets in London.  Soon, he was able to open his own shop as an interest in antique maps grew.

I bought a copy of Potter's book in the early 90's and the first antique map I purchased was at his shop in London, Grosvenor Square.  Unfortunately, to this day, I regret NOT purchasing the Braun and Hogenberg map of London in original color for 1200 pounds sterling as it is worth much more today.

Alas, that's antique map shopping.

Anyway, back to the book.  Jonathan explores the many reasons to collect antique maps:  history, geographical interest, mapmaker and so on.

I started off collecting maps of London and the USA.  Later I branched out to collect representative maps from famous mapmakers and, thus, I ended up with a diverse collection.  My main focus, though, has been on London and most of the maps in my collection are on that subject.

What I liked about Potter's book was the no nonsense approach to map collecting.  Buy your maps from a reputable dealer or through a reputable auction. Avoid "knock offs."   Enjoy your hobby!

How can you tell a reputable vendor from a "knock off."  Fairly easily.  Knock offs can be purchased at gift shops.  Authentic antique maps, not so.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

More on Antique Map Collection

So, what is real and what is a fake?

There is the rub!  Real is what is real and fake is what is fake.  Again, clear as mud.

Let's look at the production of a "real" map. A real map is engraved by the mapmaker on wood, copper plate or steel.  It's an engraver's art.

The map is then printed from that medium to paper, then colored or not, and published in an atlas or as free maps.

The printing of the original map may go on for years.  Therefore, an "original" map may be the first printing or subsequent printings.  It all depends!

Yes, it's that confusing.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Antique Map Collecting

Why collect antique maps?

There are lots of reasons.  It's fun, it's educational, it can be profitable and it's an affordable hobby to name a few.

I've always enjoyed looking at maps.  The first time I saw an antique map up close I was fascinated by the exotic art, the colors and the fiction, yes, fiction that I saw.

That was a Herman Moll map of Africa that was made at a time the interior of Africa was totally unknown to the mapmakers.  The made it all up.  Fictional beasts and people, including cyclops and other strange concoctions.

You had me at "strange."

But, what is an antique map?  How can you tell if it's an original.

Well, I'll get to that subsequently but for now let's look at a couple of maps, one a reproduction and the other a reproduction.


Check out the two maps below:

The map on the bottom is a modern reproduction.  A photocopy of the original map reproduced by lithography.  The map at the top is also a reproduction but is on "original" paper and printed by the original copper engraving.  Thus, the upper map is "real" while the lower map is "fake."

Simple, right?

Both are reproductions, but one is fake.  Well, fake-ish.

Clear as mud.

OK, so here's the blueprint for antique maps.

All maps are reproductions of the "original" which was an image engraved on wood, copper or steel.  Wood engravings are generally around 1400's or so, copper stands firm after that period until about the 1800's and steel reigns after that.

I'll discuss how you can tell the difference between wood, copper and steel later.

Friday, December 05, 2014

The Obsession

I have lots of obsessions.  To be polite, let's call them "strong interests." The come and go.  Sometimes they last a decade.  Some of the best interests have lasted a long, long time, say ten years, then faded away either very sadly or without a ripple.

It depends.

Which brings me to maps.  I've always been keenly interested in maps and could pore over them for hours at a time.  I've also been keen on Ye Olde Mappes just because they are different and, you know, Ye Olde!

I bought my first Ye Olde Mappe reproduction many, many years ago from a gift shop in a galaxy far, far away.  It was the typical Ye Olde Mappe - brown, wrinkled, singed around the edges and "antiqued" to use the term.  It was printed to look "old" in the stereotype of what "old" looks like.

It was a map of London circa 1600 and more about that much later.

Then, fast forwarding a few years, I was on vacation in Jamaica and in a gift shop there was a little Ye Olde map of Jamaica for a dollar, so I bought it.  I even framed it and here it is:

It's a reproduction of a map by R. Bonne, an important French 18th century cartographer.  More on this map and Bonne later.

Some years later we were having dinner at a friend's house, a friend who was an antique collector and I noticed a Ye Olde Mappe on his wall and asked him about it.  As gauchely as I could I asked him in what gift shop did he purchase this Ye Olde Mappe.

Pursing his lips as if he were sucking the juice of all the lemons in the World through a very small straw, he informed me that it was not a gift shop map, but an ... ORIGINAL.

I was taken aback.  My mind reeled. What, I thought?  ORIGINAL?  Like a museum original?

He noticed my foaming, spluttering and wide-eyed incredulity and calmly said that, yes, "You can buy antique maps from dealers and other places and they're not that expensive."

I was dumbstruck.  Really?  Even me?

Well before the Internet, much less Google, I did some research and discovered a lovely book available through my Barnes and Noble catalogue, "Collecting Antique Maps" by Jonathan Potter of London, England.  I ordered the book and, thus, my obsession began.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Christmas Time!

It's Christmas Time!

How can I tell?

Christmas trees at Kroger's!


Yeah, that was all sarcasm.  The Christmas stuff has been out since BEFORE Halloween, but it's the appearance of the trees, to me, that really signals the start of the season.

And here they are in all their piney glory!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Money Pit Pool

Anybody who puts in a swimming pool is nuts.  Just saying.

I had a great idea for a Non-Pool Pool Company.  I'd just put a metal box in the back yard with a slot in it.  You'd put $200 each month into the slot and occasionally $500 just for grins.   A little light would come on when the 500 was needed, randomly.  You'd get all the financial appreciation of having a pool without the hole in the ground filled with wet stuff.


Win-Win.  Everybody happy.  Even Mama.

If you look at a Google Earth image of my neighborhood you should be reminded instantly of Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" essay.  Every house has a pale blue dot in the back yard.  There are about 500 houses in my neighborhood and probably 499 pools.  I don't know who the smart guy is without a pool but I feel like installing one in his back yard while he's at work just to show him a thing or two.  Maybe I should just give him the option of one of my metal boxes. 

I bring this subject up because in addition to paying for pool maintenance, they don't last forever.  I know, shock-horror. Nothing is forever, except diamonds which, ironically, is what a pool represents - a bucket of diamonds.

Anyway, a phase of the Great Money Pit Project will be a facelift of the pool.  By "facelift" I mean an overhaul, redo, replacement of vast expanses of concrete and plaster, and tile and flagstones and pumps and pipes and heaters, wires, lights, lions, tigers and bears ... Oh, my!

Of course, the yard will be torn up in the process and that will have to be re-landscaped.


Monday, December 01, 2014

The Money Pit

Work continues on the Money Pit, aka, Our House.

New hardwood floors are in and work just completed on the new staircase, replacing the old carpet with oak.

My builder starts his quote with Phase 1:  Demolition.

That's a fair word to use, demolition.  He means what it says, to demolish, destroy, remove and that's what happens. Demolition isn't as bad as it sounds, I just pity the guys who have to do it, but they seem to have fun and they're all young, fit and immortal.  Ah, the good old days!

Following Demolition is Phase 2:  Preparation.

Preparation is a lot of work but it makes the following phases a whole lot easier if it's done right.  Preparation is just what it says, preparing the surface for stuff to come.  Removing nails, glue, dirt, gunk and making surfaces level, square, even and tight.

The next phase is Installation which involves a lot of measuring, fitting, sanding, routing and measuring again.  The wood for our new staircase was absolutely.  Large, smooth, thick planks of oak that were so nice I kept the off-cuts.  I don't know what I'll do with them but I couldn't bear to throw them away, such nice wood.

We are still in the Installation phase with the first coat of polyurethane drying and we're going to give that about a week before putting on the second coat.  There is no rush and a job done right is a job you don't have to do over.

Do it right or do it over.