Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Own Way Down

Late night, lost in the dark,
Smiles turn into frowns
In the mirror I can see,
Some makeup, I'd be a clown...
I'm on my own way down.

Spent my life, walking away,
Christ, did I know how to skip town?
Next time, I said, I'd face that challenge,
But you know I'll end up face down...
I'm on my own way down.

Superman, super powers,
Ya, my name will be renowned!
But if anyone knew what I'd been thinkin'
I guess I'd have to leave town!
I'm on my own way down...

Take back my sword and my kingdom,
my shield, my sash and my crown,
We all know that I'm just a poser...
Guess I'll see you around...
I'm on my own way down...

Superman, super powers,
Ya, my name will be renowned!
But if anyone knew what I'd been thinkin'
I guess I'd have to leave town!
I'm on my own way down...

I'm on my own way down.

Fruits of My Labors

Rosy-cheeked lad was I,
promise-filled, passion-blest,
to become whatever I wanted.
No mountain, then, too high,
nor valley, then, too low,
as to leave my young spirit daunted.

From my teenage years,
until my middle age,
I strove just to do my duty.
Yes, I surely labored long,
and I surely labored hard,
soothed only by Nature's beauty.

The foundation was strong,
my talents, they were plenty.
But now looking back I see, alas,
the fruits of my labors,
like old windfall apples,
lie rotting in the orchard's grass...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

For My Dad

You think I'm a bearded, hippy freak
out of work, and out of my head.
So I searched all day
to try and find a way
to make you proud instead.

I thought of getting' your coffee
but you're up too early for me.
And then I hit
on what I thought was it,
a sure fire remedy

I'd go out five minutes early,
open up the garage door.
You'd be so proud,
you'd laugh out loud
and you're sure to come back for more.

But when I went out early,
much to my surprise,
a brand new machine,
all shiny and clean,
opened it up before my eyes!

I got the all-alone, lonesome, automatic garage-door opener blues...
I got the all-alone, lonesome, automatic garage-door opener blues!

I'm gonna sit right in that damn garage,
until there comes a time,
when it blow a fuse
and you'll have to use
these two willing arms of mine

I got the all-alone, lonesome, automatic garage-door opener blues...
I got the all-alone, lonesome, automatic garage-door opener blues!

Old Memories, Dead Faces

I can see my Father
concentrating, grim-faced,
in work clothes, as
we struggle to fix the outdoor spigot
near the light pole

I can see my brother, George,
sitting quietly on the couch as
his wife Marlene tells
an outrageously funny story.
He gives the briefest smile

I can see my brother, Pete,
sipping coffee from a thermos cup
sitting in his big red truck
Then, resuming plowing
seemingly never-ending snow

I cannot see my sister, Anne...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Sunday

Woke up early on Sunday. Made biscuits and sausage gravy. I learned a neat trick for biscuits: I always used a rolling pin before, but this time I just used my hands to push down the dough into about a 5 inch by 8 inch rectangle. Then I folded that by thirds (like you would a letter before putting it in an envelope). Did it again (flatten then fold) and then cut out the circles. Why? This makes the biscuit rise in layers and its much fluffier.

Shaved, showered and got to work. Its cold here, so I covered the kitchen table with a blanket and used masking tape to hold the corners tight. Then I drilled and screwed and clamped and drilled and screwed and clamped some more until I got the table assembled. Took it downstairs to put the tool-holder shelf on. Set it in place and took some photos for the Blog, but its not really done. I still need to take it in the garage and sand it all down.

But, its after 5:00 PM and I'm tired, my back is killing me and I'm hungry (no lunch). But, I've got a HUGE sawdust mess on the floor and tools everywhere. Put away the tools, swept and mopped the kitchen and cleaned the garage floor.

Finally, I made catfish and hush puppies for dinner. Then I took the rest of the night off.

Stone in my Shoe

Well, it's five o'clock this morning,
and the mist is slowly moving through the fields.
The first bird starts a-singing
and its echo tells the moon it's time to yield.
I shake my drowsy head and rub the remnants of my sleep out of my eyes,
and though my bedroll's cozy, I know it must time for me to rise.

For six long months the highway called,
but I knew that I just could not go.
But late last night its whispering
were answered somewhere deep inside my soul.
And though I hate for you to find an empty bed beside you when you wake,
that hobo highway calling me was just too much for this poor boy to take.

Heading up the canyon as the sun starts to sparklin' on the dew.
My feet are on this highway, but Lord knows that my mind is still on you.
Try to understand that there was nothing really more that I could do.
Got two holes in my jeans, and I'm walking with a stone inside my shoe.

Half mile up the highway there's a farmhouse that was emptied long ago.
I shinny up an apple tree, and eat my free-ride breakfast on the go.
The sun shimmers puddles on the pavement that aren't really there
and I notice that I'm thirsty, but I notice that I don't seem to care.

A farmer in a pickup stops to see if there's something that I need.
I catch a ride to town and help to load supplies and fifteen sacks of feed.
Then I fill my empty canteen and once again I'm headed on my way.
Smiling at the sunshine, praise the Lord it's another perfect day.

Heading up the canyon as the sun starts to sparkling on the dew.
My feet are on this highway, but Lord knows that my mind is still on you.
Try to understand that there was nothing really more that I could do.
Got two holes in my jeans, and I'm walking with a stone inside my shoe.

Your love is like a stone inside my shoe...

Last Night's Haiku

Late night on the porch...
Surprise! I caught the moon on
branches of my tree!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday, and I got a project!!!

Woke up early and got right to work. Load of laundry in the washing machine, coffee brewing and I'm cutting 3 pounds of stewing beef into 3/4 inch cubes. I'm making a big batch of chili today. Just the seasoning of the meat scares me: salt, pepper, garlic powder cumin, cinnamon and two tablespoons of chili powder. Dredged the seasoned meat in 1/2 flour and 1/2 corn meal and browned it in hot Crisco, one layer at a time, pulled that layer out with a slotted spoon and repeated (8 times!)

Then used the same oil to saute 3 red onions, sliced, 6 gloves of garlic and when they were soft, added four diced Jalepeno peppers (I took the seeds out, fearing the heat. Later, I would come to regret this). Added some tomato paste, more cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, three bottles of beer and a 12 ounce can of diced tomatoes with the juice. Put the meat back in and let it simmer for two hours.

So, folded laundry, shaved and showered and got ready to run errands. Before I left, I transferred the chili to the crock pot and added 3 cans of drained black beans and the zest and juice of a lime. Turned it to Low and left the house.

I need to build a workbench for the back room, so first stop was Home Depot. Got a LOT of wood, more cabinet magnetic catches for the kitchen and a fluorescent light fixture. Also found a good deal on a Ryobi 9 inch bandsaw, so picked that up, too. Went to the vacuum cleaner shop and ordered a new filter for my shop vac (should be here within the week). Decided I needed to drop all this off before doing the grocery shopping, so went home and unloaded.

Back to Farmer Jack's for the two-week shopping. Not bad, spent under $90, which was good after paying for the bandsaw! Stopped at the quarter car wash to hose off the salt and snow from the Volvo.

Back home, put away the groceries and its already after 2:00 PM. Between the cold, the occasional snow and all the walking around, both my knees are killing me. So, took a break and ate lunch. Very disappointed in the damn chili! Tasted good, but no heat whatsoever (and I don't need much). Added some hot sauce and it was better, but I shouldn't have had to. Laid down to take a nap and rest my legs.

Woke up at 4:30 PM and went and cut all the wood in the garage, working from a sketch I drew up on Friday. Finished up around 7:00 PM with everything cut and ready just to be screwed together.

Had more chili for dinner, watched some TV and then went to bed.

Friday Night...

Well, we did get hit with snow on Friday, but the freezing rain never came (Thank God!) To celebrate this and the end of a long work week, I took Friday night off. Just ate leftovers and watched Friday Night boxing, then went to bed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Happy Birthday!

On January 26, 1837, Michigan became the 26th state in the United States.

Thursday

I was fully prepared for Thursday night to be boring, but, thank God, Melissa called. We only spoke for a short while, just long enough for her to tell me she tested out of another college course (this time it was Marketing). She's got another test next week in Sociology. I told her that might be more tricky, as she's just not that social!

I thought I'd like something completely different for dinner, so I put pizza sauce and pepperoni on top of an 8 inch flour tortilla, covered that with mozzarella cheese and popped it in the toaster oven until the cheese melted. Tasted great!

Luanne called. They are getting a blast of cold Canadian air as well, and struggling to keep the rabbits and new baby goats warm, as well as themselves (they had some wood stove problems).

Later during the evening, I made another tortilla pizza, but this time got more creative and added mushrooms, sliced black olives and some pepperocini rings I sliced up. Not bad, not bad. I think I'm onto something!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Passing thought...

Some people march to a different drummer...
I march to a whole different freakin' band!

~ me

El Nino has left the building...

Jet stream finally came down from Canada. Way down, into the Mid-Atlantic States even. So, predictions are for it to stay below freezing (32 F. or 0 C.) for the next couple of weeks. We picked up about an inch of snow yesterday, but supposed to be just snow flurries today.

I got home early yesterday, so got to work. Did the laundry and installed four magnetic catches in the kitchen. Two in the cabinets I remodeled and two replacements for the old spring-loaded ones that are in all of the other cabinets. These, being 50+ years old, are so worn out, the cabinet doors pop open all the time. So, I need to pick up more of the magnetic ones and replace them all eventually.

Thawed out some tilapia filets and broiled them. I made that horseradish-mayonnaise sauce again (I really like that flavor) and baked some sweet potatoes, too.

Swept the kitchen floor and mopped it, then watched TV until bedtime.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mundane night

Back to not much happening... Made hamburgers for dinner, watched taped shows to avoid watching the State of the Union speech and finally went to bed...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No more smirking!

I always felt a bit smug that I have never had to go to jury duty, especially when people like B___ or Luanne have had to go multiple times. Well, when I got home Monday night, my days of smirking were over. I have to go to Wayne County courthouse on February 12 and do my duty...

Other than that, Monday was pretty tame. Ate leftovers, watched taped shows, etc., and went to bed early. I did talk with my Mother, who had some outpatient surgery today. She's doing fine.

Fictional Quote

"...the fear of Phantoms or Skyhawks screaming in and dropping their napalm and white phosphorous. That is why he hated the Americans so much: they fought with flame...

Yet those who stood against the flame, as he had, became hardened beyond imagination. He who had stood against flame fears nothing."

~ Huu Co, senior colonel, NVA, Vietnam 1972

from the book "Time to Hunt" by Stephen Hunter

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Things you can learn watching Food Network...

In watching a taped version of the show "Molto Mario," I learned that in Italy, "scampi" is actually a version of a large crawfish (or a little lobster), not shrimp at all.

Glamorous Sunday

Woke up twice, once at 2:30 AM for a bathroom break, hen again at 5:30 AM (my usual weekday time). Stubbornly (its the weekend, dammit!) I went back to bed and slept until 6:45. Gave up and got up.

Made scrambled eggs and a toasted English muffin for breakfast. Putzed around with my third cup of coffee, then got to work. Took out the rest of the chicken legs to thaw for dinner (no sense wasting all the oil from yesterday's Spring Rolls). Taped four episodes of "Our Generation" for Sadie and shaved and showered during that time. Called my Mom to see how she's faring (she's okay).

Made lunch by taking the leftovers from yesterday, slicing everything thin and adding them to 1/2 of a red onion I sauteed. I am getting good at making home made roast beef hash!

Now to the glamorous part of my weekend: Deep cleaned my main bathroom, killing mold, eliminating soap scum, etc. Good times, good times...

That completed, moved to the next exciting task: cleaning the aquarium (it was disgusting! The filter pushes the fish food away from the deep part and into the corners of the shallow (Newt) end. There, it builds up into a gooey white mess. YUCK!

So, pulled out all the plastic plants and the branch and put them in the kitchen sink to wash. Then used the over-sized net to get the goldfish (it was like landing a trout!) and put him in the big stock pot filled with water from Friday night (to let the chlorine evaporate). Grabbed Newt and put him in a glass bowl with a plate on top (so he can't escape).

Scrubbed everything with a mixture of salt and baking soda. Siphoned all the water out of the aquarium, added more rocks, replaced the charcoal filter, etc., etc., etc. Took almost two hours before the fish and Newt were back in their home.

Now I have a backache. Don't know if it was from bending over the tubs and scrubbing or carrying huge amounts of water, but its here. Put the thawed chicken legs into buttermilk.

Okay, so now its time to make dinner. So, today I'm gonna use my toaster oven for the first time to make something besides toast. I'm going to bake a butternut squash. Meanwhile, I'm frying chicken legs. Toaster oven seemed to work fine and my dinner was tasty!

Watched the usual Sunday night shows as the weekend drew to a close...

Quote, relevant even today...

"If any question why we died,
tell them, because our fathers lied."

~ Rudyard Kipling

writing in the voice of his son John, KIA, World War I, the Somme, at the age of sixteen

Saturday Stuff

Got up at 7:00 and got to work. Jake and Carla said they'd be over this afternoon. So, I peeled potatoes and carrots and threw them in the crockpot along with some peeled shallots (trying that instead of pearl onions). Next came an English beef roast, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then I pressed additional cracked pepper into it. This allowed me to use my mortar and pestle for the first time (I'd picked a small marble one up at World Market a while back).

Note to anyone who might think using a mortar and pestle to crack peppercorns could be "fun." Forget it! By the time I got anywhere near a meaningful amount, my hand was sore, my arm was sore and my countertop and kitchen floor looks like terrorists had set off some sort of a pepper bomb. I did learn the secret, though. Only put in a small amount of peppercorns, work them until cracked, dump and repeat.

Anyway, then topped the roast with rings from a sweet onion, fresh herbs (parsley, thyme and rosemary) still on the stem (makes it easier to fish them out later) and a pound of small button mushrooms. Added about a cup of beef stock and a splash of red wine, closed the lid and turned it to "Low" and we should have dinner sometime after 4:00 PM.

Next - housecleaning and laundry. Neither too difficult, as I haven't had any projects to mess up the house and I did laundry during the week. Listening to "Saturday Morning, over easy" on the radio. Finally, shaved and showered around noon.

I had decided to make Carla's favorite appetizer (well, Jake and I like them, too) Shrimp Spring Rolls. Now, I am sure many of you are familiar with how to make Spring or Egg Rolls, but I am including this for my Mother, who I am pretty sure is not.

So, I infused some oil with ginger and warmed up a combination of shrimp, bean sprouts, chopped shittake mushrooms, a grated carrot and a couple of finely sliced scallions. Then I added rice wine vinegar, some tamari soy sauce and a splash of sesame seed oil. Let that all simmer until the liquid was almost gone, then pulled it off the stove to cool (I set it on the front porch railing).

Made some dipping sauce from essentially the same mixture: rice wine vinegar, tamari sauce, sesame seed oil, a little sugar and two finely sliced scallions.

Now to my Spring Roll factory (I always set this up on my big wood cutting board on the kitchen table. It allows me to work sitting down, it controls the mess and, well, it looks good!) Put a won ton wrapper on the board, added two tablespoons of the mixture to the middle, folded one flap in, pull the mixture back as tight as you can without ripping the wrapper, fold in the two other flaps and roll towards the fourth flap. Just before you get there, wet the flap with water (the flour and water form a glue that holds it together). Finish rolling and repeat... and repeat... and repeat... I got 18 Spring Rolls out of this.

Now I heated vegetable oil to 365 degrees F. Added in the Spring Rolls four at a time (you don't want to crowd them) and watched them close. Recipe times vary, some say two to three minutes, other three to four, but I've done this enough so that I am not looking at time, I'm looking for color. Too light and the wrap is doughy; too dark and it's unpleasantly crunchy and "burned" tasting; but a beautiful dark golden color and they are perfect!. When I pulled each batch out, they went on a rack sitting on a cookie sheet covered with paper towels to drain the oil. When I finished them all, I put the rack in a warm oven to await my guests and started clean up.

Got done and took a break reading on the office daybed. After a bit, Jake and Carla showed up. We chatted a while, ate some Spring rolls chatted a bit more, then decided to play Scrabble. Big mistake! It was one of those games where about half-way through there's really nothing left to build on. Very frustrating! However, thankfully, it was finally over: Carla won, Jake was next and me dead last!

We were listening to quite an eclectic mixture of music: at various time we heard Rock and Roll, Rap (or Hip Hop, I can't tell the difference!) and some Swing (Jake is into the Swing years right now). Now we switched to playing cards: 500 Rummy. Different game, similar results. This time Jake won, Carla was second and me, Mr. Loser again!

Dinner time. Carla mixed together the cornbread dough and cheddar cheese and put it in a greased cast iron skillet. I put that in the over for 20 minutes. I'd turned the crockpot to "Warm" a while back, but the meat still fell apart when I tried removing it, so "presentation" sucked. But, taste-wise, it was all quite good, the shallots adding an interesting touch.

Jake insisted on cleaning up, so Carla and I put away leftovers, passed him plates, etc. Then they left about 8:30 or 9:00 PM. I thought about TV, but it seemed like too much trouble. So, grabbed my book from the office and went to bed. Petted Scruffy a bit (who had really enjoyed the attention he got all day) started reading and fell asleep before finishing another chapter...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Newest Visitor...

I was checking the Piece Offering stats, and notice I had a visit from Tuvalu. Curious, I typed it into Wikipedia and got this:

Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbors are Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji.

Comprising 4 reef islands and 5 true atolls, with a total land area of just 26 square kilometers (10 sq mi), it is the second-least populated independent country in the world, Vatican City being the smallest. It is the smallest member by population of the United Nations.

Be that as it may, welcome to my world, Tuvalu!

Friday

So, before work, I put a honey-mustard marinade on a sirloin steak I'd thawed Thursday night and put it back in the fridge. Long-time readers may remember that I am trying to use up the meat remaining from our beef purchase in 2005. I'm down to just steaks and stewing beef.

(Brief moment of reflection: No wonder the rest of the world hates Americans! Here I am whining about having to "use up" steak and stewing beef. I would bet there are a lot of people in the Third-world who wish they had that problem!)

Anyway, it had snowed off and on all day and was snowing pretty hard when I got home. However, it had been a long day and I really didn't feel like cleaning up my cast iron grill pan or (worse yet) the broiler pan. So, I dragged the grill outside (fortunately the wind, which was blowing pretty hard, was from the West and the garage blocked it) and lit up some charcoal (see photos).

I didn't change clothes yet (I figured I looked stupid enough doing this, much less doing it in a T-shirt and workout shorts, lol!)

While the coals burned down, I sauteed some onions and mushrooms. When the coals were ready, I threw on the steak. It was quite thick (about 1 inch - a beautiful cut of meat, actually) so I cooked it four minutes per side to get it medium-rare (the ONLY way to eat a steak!)

I let the steak rest five minutes, then topped it with the onions and mushrooms. Fantastic!

Watched the Friday night fights until I fell asleep.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Oh God, Melissa is right!

Thursday night was pretty boring as well. One good thing. I had a voice mail from Melissa, saying she had aced her US History test (she's trying to test out of some college courses) Congratulations!

Other than that, I warmed up the stuffed meatball sauce and made another single serving of pasta for dinner, watched taped shows and went to bed early.

Quote

"Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom,
not a guide by which to live."

~ Robert F. Kennedy

This Day in History

January 18, 1912

The ill-fated Scott expedition reached the South Pole, only to discover Amundsen had been there first.

[I've always been fascinated by explorers!]

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Update on "Feelings"

Well, I have heard from both my sons on this subject:

Jake said he disagreed with Melissa and didn't think my dinner descriptions were boring. However, he did like the cabbage story and thought that maybe thoughts/memories might be an asset to my website.

Jeremy called on his way home and his emphatic decision was that he didn't want any touchy-feely sh*t, stick with the proven program.

So, I think we'll go with the occasional memory...

Your thoughts? Please comment!

Cabbage

(By way of explanation: My daughter, M______, is constantly reminding me that my Blog is B-O-R-I-N-G! She feels it would be much better if I shared my feelings, rather than what I made for dinner. However, I am rather old-school (being old) in that I like to keep my feelings to myself, and would hesitate writing them down in a private journal, much less posting them on the Internet.

So, I came up with a compromise. Every now and then, I will post something I remember from the past (good or bad). As with any person, there are many, many things about my past I would not want my children to know, so these juicier tidbits will NOT be included. Indeed, I plan on taking those to my grave. But, hopefully, the things I write will be of some interest... Let me know, please.)

A few years after my Father's death, Luanne, a very young Jeremy and I moved back to my Mother's house (the old farmhouse I was raised in). The theory was we would share expenses, Mom would have company and upon her death (writing this now is funny, since I will undoubtedly die first), we would buy the house.

So, I busily started turning the four acres into a homestead. I put a new roof on the chicken house and divided it into a section for chickens and a stall for milk goats (which we never got). I also fenced a large area for pigs (which we did get).

Now the farm was originally 40 acres, but my Dad had sold 36 of them back in the 1950's. The truck farmer down the road later leased the tillable land, and that year had planted cabbages. During the harvest, I noticed they were leaving a LOT of cabbages, so I asked him why. He said they weren't "marketable" which meant they were too small, or split on the top, etc., and that if I wanted them, I could have them.

So, I researched all my homesteading books and found a suggested way to store cabbages over the winter. You dug the cabbages up, root and all. Then you dug an 18 inch deep trench and put the cabbages in upside down, not quite touching each other. You filled the dirt back in loosely and then covered the whole thing with about two feet of straw.

When you wanted a cabbage, you knocked off the snow, pushed back the straw, grabbed the exposed root and pulled it out. The first time I retrieved a cabbage, it looked disgusting and I thought all my work was for nothing! The outer leaves were brown and wilted. But, following instructions, I pulled off the leaves until I got to the green ones and, lo and behold, there was a wonderfully sweet (and free) cabbage inside.

We ate them all winter...

Wednesday

Well, this week, Wednesday is the boring day! Swept the kitchen floor, ate leftovers (pasta from Sunday) and watched the second 2-hour season premier of "24".

Two things I keep forgetting to mention:

1. I have now used the chop attachment for the immersion blender twice on onions. Thing works great and its far easier than cleaning up my food processor. Only caution is that you have to really watch it. First time I pulsed it for 15 seconds - perfect chopped onions. Second time I must have pulsed it a few seconds longer, because I had minced onions instead.

2. The great TV Guide mystery! Just after Christmas, I started getting the TV Guide in the mail. Why? I don't know. I haven't got a bill for it and I'm pretty sure I didn't order it... Strange! Like most cable users, I am in the habit of using the TV Guide channel, so I don't use it for that, but the stories are interesting.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Study Results are in!

A South American scientist from Argentina who is a fan of my Blog has conducted a lengthy study, and has discovered that people with insufficient brain and sexual activity read this Blog with their hand on the mouse.

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.

Tuesday

I got home Tuesday evening and took out some tilapia fillets to thaw. I need a kindler, gentler dinner tonight. Started a load of clothes (I had a LOT of damp bathtowels from the Grease Bullet experiment). I had planned on exercising tonight, but to tell you the truth, this damn cold has really got me crippled up and I don't want to aggravate my knees.

Riese called and was all excited. She finally got her birthday present (why it took three days more to get from my house to Port Huron than it did to get a package sent the same day to Virginia, I'll never know). Anyway, she seemed to really like it, so I feel pretty good.

My daughter Melissa, er, M_______, called and we talked for an hour and a half. She did want to know why I picked the old trailer as the birdhouse for Luanne. As I told her, I saw a similar bird house (one of those "Airstream" trailer ones) and that gave me the idea. If we ever talked about it, I have forgotten, but I assumed Luanne would have had some nice emotional attachments to the trailer from her childhood. I have since determined that was not the case. But, on the other hand, it's still a pretty funky birdhouse.

So, now its late, my clothes are wrinkled in the dryer and I have not made dinner. But, I press on! Broiled the tilapia after drenching it in lemon juice, then a sprinkling of salt pepper and garlic powder (yes, the famous house seasoning). Meanwhile made baked sweet potatoes in the microwave. I bought small to mid-size ones this time, curious if there was a taste difference between them and the jumbo ones I usually get - if there is, I didn't notice it!)

Topped the fillets with a sauce made from 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons of horseradish, the zest of the lemon, fresh chopped parsley and chives. Excellent dinner!

Now its late, so I decided against watching TV and read a book until I fell asleep.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Monday, Monday (again!)

Got home and tried to take some pictures (posted) but they are pretty dark. Problem with this ice storm is that its not going to warm up anytime soon. I would try and melt some of the ice on my trees with a hair dryer, but you know me, I have NO reason to own a hair dryer, LOL!

Now to clean up the mess from the Grease Bullet experiment. Result: No change whatsoever. In all fairness to the Grease Bullet, it does say "Grease," not "baked-on crud," but I am disappointed. Anyway, washed everything and reassembled my stove.

Tried a new recipe for dinner that I modified, somewhat. Tasted great, but later on, my stomach assured me it would have been better to leave out some or all of the spices. It was called spiced beef corn bread cobbler. Called for frying up beef onions and garlic, then adding a ton of spices (cinnamon, cayenne, ground allspice, pepper, ground ginger, sugar and salt). Then you added diced tomatoes in juice and simmer a bit.

Here's where I varied it. It said to put the mixture in a 9 inch pie plate. I just drained off the grease and left it in the cast iron pan. Then you top it with four big dollops of cornbread dough mixed with shredded cheddar cheese and bake it for 20 minutes in a 400 degree F oven.

As I say, the texture and taste was great, but my stomach was upset the rest of the night. I think next time I'll try it without all the spices.

Watched TV until bedtime.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday

I tried out my toaster oven for breakfast: English muffins I got on sale yesterday. Foll0wed the instructions for medium toast, but turned out a little more than medium. So, now I'll back off a minute at a time until I got it right.

We are having an ice storm this morning. Tried to unfurl my flag and it's frozen in its current tangled mess. I am worried about my trees. Some of the evergreens in the back have branches almost touching the ground under the weight of the ice. I hope they don't snap!

Did all my bills, both online and the few checks I still write. Refilled my weekly pillbox. Was looking at my pans when I remembered: the grease bullet!

I had seen them on TV, but found them at Walgreens, while browsing, waiting for my passport photo. So, put four gallons of hot water and two Grease Bullets in the laundry tub. Set the timer for 30 minutes and we'll see if they really work as good as on TV!

I tried calling Mom to apologize for not coming to her family Christmas party, but no answer. She's probably getting ready.

Times up: Checked on the two pans. No difference! Back in the tub they go (it did say if badly gunked up, soak them overnight). So, I'll soak them until I need them later today. Just to clarify, it's the bottom of the pans I am trying to make look like new (hey, that's what they show on TV, and TV can't lie, right?)

Used a piece of molding my friend B___ gave me to fix the corner of the microwave install. Fit it in and then stained it the first time.

Talked with Luanne for a bit. Told her all the news here and she related what's going on in Virginia.

Now, it's time to make Sunday dinner. Made a creamy sausage-tomato rotini (okay, so I added mushrooms to it) topped with fresh basil and grated Romano cheese that was very tasty!

Had to wash the pans for dinner. Report: Very disappointed in the Grease Bullet. Seemed to have no effect. Giving it one more chance. I filled the tub and used twice as many grease bullet tablets, then put in the stove drip pans and grates and my stove top griddle pan. I will let these soak for 24 hours and see what happens...

Watched the usual Sunday night shows (taped "24" - too intense to watch and then try and sleep) and went to bed at 11:00 PM, after checking outside: Evergreen branches in the back are now touching the ground, maples are coated with about 1/2 inch of ice. Looks like a fairyland, but I know its dangerous!

Saturday

Up and at 'em early on Saturday. I have a 9:00 AM appointment for my hair cut, then plan on running all my weekend errands. Left the house in the rain, which didn't surprise me, but seeing a County truck salting Inkster did. I thought they must be a little premature, but when I got out of the barbers, the rain drops on my car were frozen! Saw another dump truck salting Middle Belt Road, so they do seem to be on top of things.

Went to Westborn Market from there. I just needed some Romano cheese and herbs, but I also picked up an eggplant, some lemons and limes and a nice butternut squash.

Moving right along, went to Meijers for some bird seed and deodorant, Home Depot for some screws and finally Farmer Jack's for my main grocery shopping. Go home around 11:00 and unpacked my loot, refilled the bird feeder (which was covered with ice and had one icicle on it) and started the laundry.

I chatted with Jake on the phone, who talked me out of this weekend's project (I was going to take off the back door, sand it down, repaint it and then put it back up). As he pointed out, with this weekend's weather, not having a back door for two days, even with the storm door, doesn't sound like a good idea.

So, I did some housework and ate lunch (thawed out bean soup). I read a bit, got bored with that, and checked out the TV. Finally settled on the original Godfather movie.

For dinner, I fried up the eggplant. Then back to the TV until bedtime. I suppose a lazy day is good now and then, but I can't help thinking I just wasted half my weekend.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Quote

"I spent my whole life trying not to be careless. Women and children can be careless, but not men."

~Don Corleone, in the movie "The Godfather"

Friday

Background: When I mailed the packages to Riese and Luanne, I noticed there was a separate line in the Post Office. I asked about it and was told it was the line for passport applications (apparently you can now get them at the post Office). But, it got me thinking... when does my passport expire?

I originally got it in the pre-Spacely Sprockets days of DAS, when they sent a bunch of us (including B___ and myself) to get passports so we could go overseas on business (which, I actually did, going to Korea twice). So, it's been a while! Got down the fire-proof box and dug it out. Holy Sh*t! It expires in August of 2007!

Had a brief spell of despair, looking at my photo from 10 years ago. No, I'm lying! I'm still bummed. My God I have aged in the last ten years! I used to look pretty handsome, not like this old geezer who stares at me in the mirror every morning while I shave...

Anyway, we were talking about Friday. So, I mentioned to B___ that his passport is soon to expire, so he went to work researching renewal options. Why, you might ask, since he never used it and I only used it twice in Korea and twice to fly into Canada? Because February 1, 2007, you need it to even drive into Canada (and I assume Mexico will follow). No more, "I'm a US citizen" and you're in.

Anyway, after lunch we went to Walgreens and got passport photos taken ($8.00 US) and padded envelopes (required) to mail them, our old passports and our renewal application in. So, next pay, I'll send in the $67.00 US and be good to go in 6 to 8 weeks.

Once home for the weekend, I made up my grocery list for Saturday's shopping. I made dinner (if you could call it that) which consisted of a salad with endive, tomatoes and onions, topped with balsamic vinegar dressing, some crackers and the last of the Christmas smoked Gouda cheese. I had fried lake perch and French fries with malt vinegar for lunch, so I thought I should go easy on dinner (this new, responsible me is really starting to tick me off!)

Watched the Friday night fights until I fell asleep. And, that was that!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thursday

Got home last night and was glad to get out of the wind. It had been blowing hard all day and seemed to just cut right through me.

Dinner will be the last of the leftover chicken. What would be a good side dish for cold fried chicken? Noticed my red potatoes are beginning to sprout, so decided on potato salad (not diet-friendly, but tasty, none the less). So, peeled and cubed potatoes and put them on to boil. Then chopped celery, an onion, some fresh parsley and grated a carrot. Rinsed the potatoes in cold water and put them outside for a bit (might as well use that cold wind for something!) Mixed everything with a mayo, yellow mustard and a splash of buttermilk (interesting little kick) sauce, and then put it in the fridge to get cold.

Talked with my brother Joe and Jeremy. Jeremy's call was actually about five calls, as his cell phone kept cutting out.

Watched some taped shows and then ate dinner. Went to bed at 10:30 PM.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wednesday

Well, that idea about getting up early to exercise didn't work so good. Insomnia came to call and at 3:00 AM, I was reading the AARP pamphlet I got in the mail Tuesday. So, Instead of 20 minutes early and exercising, I work up 30 minutes late and had to hustle to get to work on time.

Before I went in the house tonight, I checked with my fence to get a clear idea of just where in the front my lot line is (Biggest surprise? The damn maple tree I paid money to cut back isn't even on my property!) . I have a maybe-crazy idea for the Spring to add a arbor and an English cottage garden to the front of the house. Sadly, I'll have to cut down two of the South-side evergreens, but if I design it right, it may be worth it. Still thinking about it...

I got in the house and put the 1/4 of a pork loin I'd smoked last summer and then froze, and then thawed yesterday, into the microwave. Heated it for two minutes to get it workable. Then took two heavy-duty forks and shredded it. Put it in a saucepan with a good helping of "Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue" sauce; put it on low to serve later on a Kaiser roll for a "pulled pork" sandwich. I am trying to use my leftovers in an inventive way, you see...

Check the mail and voice mail - nothing that interesting. Filled the bird feeder, then changed clothes and hit the exercise machine (groan) This time I made it a full 17 minutes. I tried to call my friend Leon (I should have talked to him over the Holidays but didn't) but the line was busy, both times I tried. Jeremy called and we talked about IT certs.

Nothing good on TV, so read and then went to sleep.

Boring Tuesday

I think I finally figured it out. It's Tuesday itself that's boring, not me!!

Took out the left over steak and decided to make Quesadillas (couldn't find a recipe for steak quesadillas, so made it up). First I sauteed a sliced onion and a chopped red bell pepper, added in some chili powder and cumin, chopped Jalapeno peppers, then cut the steak on the bias against the grain into thin strips. Threw them in the pan to warm up.

Melissa called at that point, so we talked briefly (20 minutes or so), then we hung up. Got out two flour tortillas, spooned some of my mixture in the middle and topped it liberally with shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. I am assuming, but don't know, that the cheese melts and glues it together. So, oiled the pan again and toasted the tortillas. Cut it into wedges with my pizza knife, then ate it with salsa and sour cream. Not bad!

Watched TV and went to bed.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Monday, Monday...

Finally figured out what to do with my spatulas and spoons, etc. that used to hand behind my stove. I had them in a jar on the sink, but they were difficult to get out (hit the cupboard). So, I've thought of several ideas, but none seemed too feasible. Then I got it! I'll hang them on the side of the rolling cutting board/wine rack! Got the drill and installed. Perfect! Handy, but not in the was and really not all that noticeable.

Worked out again. I think I'm going to switch this to morning before work. Way to difficult to get motivated after working all day. We'll see.

Dinner was an herbed crimini mushroom and Swiss cheese omelet, with tomato slices on the side. And, that's about all Monday had to offer...

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Sunday...

Woke up early again (4:00 AM) but stayed in bed reading until 5:30 AM. Then got a cup of coffee and started thinking about breakfast. It may sound silly, but decided I really wanted two more chili dogs (fries are gone) so warmed up the leftovers and chowed down. Thus fed, I got to work on the Christmas tree (it's too early to call Melissa, er, I mean M______ and get out of this).

Used my "decorate the tree" method in reverse. Moved the rug and moved the coffee table into the middle of the room to allow 360 degree access. Wrapped all the glass bulbs in paper towels, packed away the other ornaments, then finally got down to the wood beads. Took them off, and put the tree in the attic.

Next was packing away the other decorations, including the outside mat and wreath. With everything gone, started cleaning the room. Dusted, vacuumed, and washed all the glass surfaces with Windex and paper towels. By 9:00 AM, I was ready to put the normal decorations back, so I did. Stopped for another coffee, then went back to work!

Vacuumed and dusted each bedroom, then went over the wood floor with a dust mop and End-dust (picks up any cat hair and dust I might have missed, and give the floors a nice shine). Washed the bedding and my dirty clothes . Swept the kitchen bathroom and downstairs floors, then mopped them. While they were drying, I shaved and showered.

When everything was dry, I went out to Farmer Jack's. I need some buttermilk for tonight's fried chicken. Chilly and damp out. I hate to say it, but it feels like snow. We'll see...

Got back and covered 10 chicken legs with buttermilk and put them in the fridge to get happy. For my lunch, I heated up some soup. Watched some TV while trying to nap, but never fell asleep. Gave up and wrapped up Riese's birthday present and Luanne's tree-top angel for mailing on Monday.

At 5:00 PM, started heating up the oil for the fried chicken. Drained the buttermilk, patted them dry and then they went into an egg/water/hotsauce mix, then flour and pepper. After that, it was just a matter of adjusting the temperature of the oil up and down (trying to keep that magic 350 degrees F.) and waiting for the timer (on average, 11 minutes for white meat, 14 for dark)

While they were all resting, cored a cauliflower left from the Holidays (veggie tray that never happened when the ladies were here) and steamed all of it. Good Sunday dinner! I would have liked mashed potatoes and gravy, but trying to lose these Holiday pounds I picked up somewhere (sigh).

Watched my usual Sunday shows and then went to bed...

Saturday

Terrible insomnia Friday night. Woke up at 2:30 and could NOT get back to sleep. Gave up and got up at 4:30 AM.

Had thawed out the remains of the Christmas ham yesterday, so I cut the meat off the bone. Fried some along with eggs for breakfast. The rest went into baggies and back into the freezer. The bone, however, went into a stock pot with water and a bay leaf. Later tonight, (after the beans soak long enough) this will be made into 16 Bean with ham soup.

Got back on the exercise machine and did 17 minutes cardio workout. After catching my breath, (not such an easy task, lol!) went and took my morning shave and shower.

Got down the storage tubs from the attic to begin taking down the Christmas ornaments/decorations. Started yawning severely around 11:00 AM, so went and took a two hour nap! Take that, Insomnia!!!

Upon awaking, I had a huge argument with myself. I want to take the Christmas tree down (it's almost a week after New Year's, for God's sake) but I don't want to take it down (if you know what I mean). I just want it down, not me doing it. So, decided to take a lesson from my daughter, Melissa, and I called her up, instead of working on the tree.

We talked FOREVER as we always do. It's funny, but by the time we hang up (or our phones die, as in this case - mine first, then hers) we seem to have solved all of the world's problems. But, the next day, they are still here! It's the damnedest thing!

Anyway, two things came out of our conversation:

1. Her live Christmas tree, which she put up the day after Thanksgiving and took down New Years Day, had still not lost its needles! This is the one that smells like oranges. Anyway, I got the name of the tree (I think). It's called Concolor.

2. She thinks that calling my friend B___ and now Uncle Carl C___ is cool and mysterious, So she wants to be referred to as M______ in the blog from now on. We'll see...

Anyway, got off the phone with her around 4:30 PM (when her phone finally died) and decided it was too late to do the tree (see how that works? "I would have taken the tree down, but thought it was far more important to talk with my daughter, M______!" Who can argue with that "fatherly" logic?) and then went out to try and reclaim (well, put everything back) my workbench in the garage. After the microwave install and the two birdhouses, it's a real mess.

When I got back in, I found I had a voicemail from Luanne saying they had finally got home. I decided against calling her back today. Five days on the road demands a certain amount of "me" time to recover from, I would think!

So, put the soaked 16 beans into the stock pot, cranked it up and then simmered it for a couple of hours. Used the immersion blender to thicken it (I love that thing!) and then ate dinner (the soup, crackers and some smoked Gouda cheese).

I think this is another example of where simpler is better. The navy bean soup I made with this recipe was fantastic. The 16 bean soup (hey, it looked cool in the store) tastes more mediocre. I think its because you can taste the odd flavor of the Lima beans and other stuff. Not bad, but not as good...

Went and watched TV until sleepy, then called it a night.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Friday Night

L-o-n-g boring day at work... Stopped at CVS to pick up prescription that I have been fighting over the whole week (insurance wanted to substitute generic statin drug instead of Lipitor, confusion about doctor prescribing, etc., etc., etc. BTW, insurance company won - no Lipitor) Came out of the drugstore and into the rain... sigh...

Ran over to Farmer Jack's. Not sure why (my God, John... Why?) but have a specific dinner in mind tonight. So, got home checked the mail, changed clothes, and so on. Then got down the mandoline and took out the griddle (with my new fan, I'm getting cocky about using the griddle, now).

My Mom called to let me know that Lu and Sadie still haven't gotten home yet. Seems that after they left Jeremy's on Tuesday, heading home, Sadie came down with stomach flu somewhere around Sandusky, Ohio. So, they stopped there in a motel for Sadie to recover. Tonight's update is they made it to Virginia, but now Luanne is sick, so they are in another motel, waiting for her to improve, and then will drive home. Sorry, guys!

Cut two nice big russet potatoes into 3/8 inch square French fries (I think the mandoline is the best kitchen device I own, BTW). Heated up some Canola oil in a pot to 325 degrees F. Cooked them about 6 minutes then put them on paper towels. Meanwhile fired up the griddle and put some natural casing hot dogs on to cook (and turned my fan on Low, of course). Also opened a can of "no-bean" chili to warm up and diced a sweet onion. When I was just about ready, heated the oil to 350 degrees F., and finished the fries off for another minute, then more paper towels and salt.

Ended up with (you guessed it) chili dogs and fries - see Photos (sorry Jake, but Uncle Carl apparently needs pictures!)

Checked the TV schedule, and was disappointed, until I saw that ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" is back on for a new season!!! Okay, I'm all set!!!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Thursday

Drove home in the rain on Thursday (rain - in January!) I vowed to myself that this night will be different!

So, started the laundry after changing clothes. Then I put a round steak in a honey-Dijon marinade for later. Next, bit the bullet and got on the exercise machine. I did the cardio workout, but only made it 10 minutes instead of my usual 20 (Hey first time I've used it in over three months!)

Then I brushed Scruffy (I've been promising him that for a long time, too).

Now for the acid test of the vent fan! Got out my cast iron griddle (the one that covers two burners on the stove). Prior to this, even with both bedroom doors shut, the kitchen window open and the ceiling fan on, using this would set off the smoke alarms before. But, turned the vent fan on High and grilled the steak. NO SMOKE ALARMS!!!

Made a salad to go with the steak. Very tasty! Watched TV and then went to bed, a happy, contented man...

Thursday, January 4, 2007

On this day in History...

1951

During the Korean War, North Korean and Communist Chinese forces captured the city of Seoul.

1965

President Johnson outlined his "Great Society" in his State of the Union address.

Quote

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday

Got home and looked around for something to do. Without having a project or two, I seem to be at a loss. Almost used my exercise machine, lol!

Called and talked with my Mom. For dinner, I warmed up one of the frozen meatball and tomato sauce containers (in a sauce pan, not the microwave. I thought the microwave would melt the cheese in the middle.) Made another individual serving of spaghetti. Still tastes great, even after freezing!

Watched some taped TV (I'll be glad when the new season starts!) Got bored with that and read until bedtime.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Tuesday and back to reality...

...well, back to work, anyway.

One thing about work is that it makes you appreciate your time off. Main thing was: I couldn't take a nap!

After work was pretty boring. I cleaned out the fridge (garbage day tomorrow), ate leftovers for dinner and watched TV.

See, I told you: BORING!

Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year's Day

Well, I don't know if I cursed myself or just disappointed me, but when I woke up this morning, I absent-mindedly ate a leftover piece of French toast. Why is that important? Because my Father told me years ago that in Germany, it was good luck to eat fish the first thing on the New Year. Damn! Oh well, we'll see what damage (if any) I did this year, I guess.

Did a hat-trick for my lunch (or, a triple-play, if you're more into baseball). Used my slow-cooker recipe book to find a beef and barley soup, made it in the crock pot and used the immersion blender to thicken it when it was done! I used three presents in one day!!! That gave me two bowls for my lunch and three containers in the freezer.

I did go out to pick up another under-the-counter light (it too did not come with a power cord, so this time, I sacrificed an extension cord). But, it's up and working, so I'm happy!

The baguette I bought was getting hard, so cut it up and put the slices under the broiler, then used the food processor to make it into bread crumbs for my meatballs.

I made a tomato sauce from whole canned tomatoes (also using the immersion blender for that - that sucker works like you wouldn't believe!) I want to use up some of this cheese I had leftover, so I found an obscure recipe for cheese stuffed meatballs. Since each has a 1/2 inch square chunk of Fortina cheese inside, these are big babies (maybe 3 inches around!) Once they were browned, they went into the tomato sauce for a couple of hours to get happy. Then around 7:30 PM, I made a single serving of spaghetti, added two meatballs and sauce. Excellent!

Watched TV until 10:00 PM and then went to sleep.

Sunday

I decided that since I woke up so late, I would spend the day emulating Scruffy (who has "chilling" down to an art form!) I did make some breakfast (French toast made with sourdough bread and served with warm maple syrup). Shaved and showered, then went back to bed and TV.

Jake had let me know that AMC was showing a Clint Eastwood movie marathon, so I watched Pale Rider and For a Few Dollars More. Felt the need to do SOMETHING, so I made the other half of the pizza dough into another spinach-ricotta cheese calzone (see Photos).

I also thought it was time to deal with my ever growing CD collection, so I installed a shelf in the front hall closet for them (now I just need to get a rack of some kind). Back to the TV...

Shut it off and went to sleep at 8:30 PM.

Sidebar - Here's how little I pay attention to current events:

Was soundly sleeping when a noise woke me up (sounded like a shotgun going off). Looked at Scruffy and he was standing and at full alert! So, thinking we were being attacked or something, threw on my shorts and went outside. Firecrackers were going off and people were boozily cheering, and then it dawned on me, it's midnight and New Years...

Wished the world Happy New Year and went back to bed...