Monday, April 30, 2007

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The wild wood garden. Lily of the Valley, ferns and violets coming up. Under the tree is the Buddha Luanne gave me as a present last year. It's my own personal Angkor Wat!

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Last year's new addition to the rear garden, a sand cherry, in blossom this year.

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Two more Lavender plants, North end of garden at rear of house

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Two lavender plants, between my young monk and the patio

Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound Mushrooms, (I use Crimini, myself) finely chopped
  • 3 Large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Minced fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Minced fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound Lean ground pork
  • 1 pound Lean ground beef
  • 1 pound Ground veal
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 pound Sliced bacon
Directions

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Saute the onions until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook over medium high heat for 3 or 5 minutes. Add the cream, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Cool vegetable mixture.

In large bowl, combine the beef, pork, veal and vegetable mixture. Stir in the egg. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place a 9 x 5 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with the short side facing you. Take bacon slices and place them across the pan, slightly overlapping, to line the bottom and sides. Continue with the meat mixture, patting down to level. Fold the ends of the bacon strips up and over the ground meat mixture.

Lightly oil a 13 x 9 inch cake pan. Put the cake pan on top of the filled loaf pan and invert. You may have to shake the loaf pan to get the meat loaf out.

Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the bacon is crisp and the meatloaf is firm. Rotate the meat loaf while it's baking every now and then to insure that the bacon browns evenly. Remove the meatloaf from the oven. Using two spatulas, take the meat loaf out of the pan and put on a platter (to get it out of the bacon grease). Then let it cool a bit before slicing. Serve with a crusty bread.

Special Sunday

Woke up early, ready to go! Amazing what a little sleep will do for you. I had soft-boiled eggs and coffee for breakfast and then got dressed. Main focus today is Carla's graduation, of course, but I don't have to be at their house until 11:45, so I do have a small window for more outside work.

Went to Home Depot and picked up 4 containers of lavender and a big bag of potting soil. I planted two between the Shaolin monk and the patio. Two more went at the North end of the garden against the back of the house. After this Spring's bumper crop of hyacinths and their overpowering aromas, I am experimenting with smell in the garden this year. BTW, Luanne corrected me (and I appreciate it!) because I keep calling them "grape hyacinths" when in fact, what I have are just hyacinths. Then I spread the last three bags of mulch. I think I still need 3 more bags (for a total of 21 bags) one more for St. Francis' garden and two for summer touch-ups. Now, time to clean up everything and get ready.

Put away the garden tools and trash, shaved and showered and then headed for Jake and Carla's. Got there right on time! We left, but made a quick stop at Hines Park for some pictures. When we reviewed them later on Jake's TV, I was struck by how much bigger I am than Carla and her Mom. It looked like those photos you see sometimes: "World's Tallest Man found living in Xanpangi, China" and they pose him next to an ordinary person.

Now onto Eastern Michigan University. Traffic going in was terrible once we got close. Half the Class graduated in the morning, so all those people were trying to leave as we were all trying to get in. But we finally made it to a good parking spot and walked in. Carla had to depart, so the rest of us looked for a good seat. We found one almost even with the podium. Then we waited to try and spot Carla (they were not seated alphabetically) in the midst of what we estimated was 1,000 other kids in black gowns and caps.

She's just too darn short! Several times we thought we spotted her but she was almost directly diagonally at the other end of the auditorium and thus, a little hard to be sure. (Note to self: Next time take the binoculars, dummy!) This was a LOT like "Where's Waldo" which I was never good at, either!

The speakers were good (and brief), plenty of pomp and circumstance, and the University orchestra was excellent. And in a touching, if tragic, moment that is probably being repeated in Universities across America, one student who should have graduated today was given his degree posthumously, since he was killed in December in Iraq.

So, when they were coming up and getting their diplomas, we finally saw Carla, who was looking everywhere for us. Everywhere, but where we were! Regardless, she got her degree and we got to see it.

We went outside to our predetermined meeting place and waited, and waited and waited for her. Her Mom even went back in several times looking for her (I was half afraid we'd lose her, too!) But, they had to exit through another door and she finally showed up, beaming.

Leaving was much easier and we got back to Jake's around 4:30 PM. Carla's Mom was going to make Carla her fried chicken, so they went to the store for the fixin's. Now, this was to be the fried chicken of Carla's youth, so I was interested in how she did it. We exchanged story's of our Mother's cooking we can't somehow duplicate (me and my Mom's meat loaf, Jake and his Mom's bread pudding and Carla and her Mom's fried chicken) while waiting for dinner.

Dinner's on! Excellent!!! And, here's the weird part. Long time readers may remember me soaking my chicken in buttermilk for two hours, patting it dry, dipping the pieces in eggs and hot sauce, then seasoned flour. Carla's Mom just washed the chicken, seasoned it with pepper, Lawry's seasoned salt and garlic powder, then shook it in a bag of plain flour and fried it in oil. And, it was great! I may have to rethink this gourmet stuff.

After eating, I said my goodbyes and headed home to wash the last load of laundry before starting the work week. Got home just before 8:00 PM. I checked the caller id and voicemail. Melissa called to say they did put their house on the market and were leaving mid-week for South Carolina for 10 days. I called Luanne back and filled her in on the graduation festivities. She also had good news! The heat ducts are in so the sub-floor can be put in the kitchen and they can finally get to use their stove again.

I hung up my clothes, watched some TV and went to bed at 10:30 PM.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

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At Carla's Graduation Dinner
(From left to right: her brother Carlos, Carla's Mom, the college graduate herself, and her cousin Andrea)

Celebratory Saturday

I woke up late (7:30 AM) after being up half the night. I made coffee and putzed around a bit, straightening up the house (I washed the kitchen floor around 2:30 AM last night, so I had to put the chairs, etc., back). Later, I made an omelet for breakfast, the shaved and showered. Off to run errands.

Picked up six more bags of mulch (that's 18 purchased so far) and the herbs I need. I was surprised, but the French Tarragon is growing again from last year's plant. Other plants that normally survive are the chives, the garlic chives (I forgot when my Mother offered me some this year that she gave me them last year) and the thyme.

So, that meant I had to buy Rosemary, Basil, Oregano and Flat Leaf (or Italian) Parsley. Then I went to the Library and the Post Office. Got back home at 12:30 PM. Changed clothes and went out to plant and mulch.

Got both herb beds spaded up, old roots and new grass shaken out and the plants planted. Applied some slow-release fertilizer and then a good topping of mulch. Continued to mulch around the reflecting pool, then the garden along the rear of the house. Put down 5 bags of mulch before my back started screaming in protest.

So, I went in and cleaned up. It was about 2:45 PM. I don't have to be at the restaurant until 5:00 PM for Carla's graduation dinner, so I set my alarm for 3:45 and took a nap. The phone woke me up about 5 minutes before the alarm would have, so I had a nice rest and my back felt much better. Hopped in the shower, got dressed and headed to Plymouth.

The dinner was at Station 885, a restaurant that is in what was the old Plymouth train station. When I got there, her brother Carlos and cousin Derick were helping her Uncle Mac into his wheelchair. I said hi to her Mom and Carla and Jake, and then we went in. We waited a while for her Aunt Nancy and her two cousins Andrea and Rocquel and her son Decoven, but they finally called and said they were just leaving the hospital (Rocquel's other son, Paris, has a severe infection in his finger) and would be about a half hour late.

So we ordered. Personally, I had the meat loaf (it never hurts to see what your competition is up to, lol, and I like meatloaf), a baked potato, some green beans and a salad. Not being one to brag, I still must tell you my meat loaf is much, much better! I did have a bit of Carla's filet mignon, topped with gorgonzola cheese (melt in your mouth and excellent).

Carla mentioned in passing how pleased she was to get a card from Grandma Goerlich and Uncle Joe and Aunt Kathy. She also got cards from Luanne, Jeremy and Jyl and I. Which leaves me wondering what happened to Uncle Carl, Uncle Jim and Aunt Coletta? After all, this is the first of my kids to get a college degree! Although to be fair, both Jake and Jeremy work in a field (IT) where certifications are worth much, much more than a degree. So, where are your lousy $2.00 congratulations cards, guys?

Carla's Aunt Nancy, Andrea, Rocquel and her son Decoven, finally showed up, so we all waited while they ordered and ate. My butt was starting to fall asleep sitting in that chair and all the coffee, then water I drank made me have to keep going to the bathroom. Finally we asked for the bill, I paid my part, made my goodbyes and left for home.

The rain that had started while we were eating had stopped by the time I got home, so ran out to take some photos of today's work (since it was around 8:00 PM they are a little dark). Got back in and posted them. As always, click on them to enlarge (for best viewing) then use your browser's "back" button to return.

I decided to investigate my treasures from the Library and ended up reading until 12:30 AM. Good news was I slept through the night.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

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Garden at the rear of the house, fresh mulched.

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The reflecting pool and surrounds, now fresh mulched

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Last year's chives, garlic chives and Thyme along with the new two flat leaf parsley, two basil and one oregano (oh, and my old shy gargoyle)

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Day lilies, Two Rosemary plants and the French Tarragon, growing from last year's planting

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The hyacinth's in context

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Picture for my Mom (she wanted to see the hyacinths in St. Francis' garden)

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The only tulips I had come up this year (I hate tulips! What a waste!)

Frustrating Friday

No T.G.I.F. here, buddy! Friday sucked. A disagreement with my Department Manager (you can guess who won) left me very annoyed all afternoon. Then I heard the news: Farmer Jack is going to sell all 66 of its stores in Michigan!

Now, when I first moved here and was only fantasizing about owning this house, I used to tell myself it would be great when I retired. Why? Because I could walk to any where I would need to go. Murray's across Plymouth was an auto parts, hardware and jewelry store, right behind the house was Farmer Jack's and CVS and just down the street was the liquor store.

First, Murray's dropped the jewelry and hardware lines and is just an auto parts store. And, now this?

I am friends with the Farmer Jack crew. They go out of their way to tell me what, and more important, what NOT to buy. I was (and am) TOTALLY BUMMED!!

Stopped at CVS to pick up some prescriptions (I suppose next month they will move and it will turn into a tanning salon).

Dinner was the last of the leftovers. Went to bed at 10:00 PM, but woke up at 12:30 AM and couldn't get back to sleep until after 4:00.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Thursday, and still raining

It rained, and rained hard, off and on all Thursday. On top of that, it was chilly here. Basically it was a a wet, dreary, cold, miserable day. I need something to cheer me up! So, I stopped at Farmer Jack's and picked up some fresh asparagus, crumbled feta cheese and a small "Meat Manager's Special" steak.

When I got home, I decided since I couldn't do anything outside, I would get the trailer parts organized in preparation of putting it together this weekend. So, I put a piece of plywood on the sawhorses and put all the bolts and nuts and other fasteners, along with the lights and wiring kit on top. I unloaded the wheels, fenders and springs and laid them out on the floor. Then I tackled the big box and set up all the steel, keeping like parts with like parts. So, I'm all set to start!

Got a nice surprise when I opened the mail. Jeremy and Jyl sent me an early Father's Day present: a card and a small jar of truffles! Later, Jeremy called and explained what they had to go through to find them. Thanks, guys!

Next I made dinner. I trimmed the asparagus, drizzled olive oil on it and then seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I roasted it in the toaster oven for 14 minutes at 400 degrees F. (until it was tender). I served it with a good handful of feta cheese sprinkled on it. Interesting taste combination!

Because of the rain, I made the steak inside on the two-burner grill pan. Together, the steak and the asparagus made a very good dinner.

Watched taped TV until I fell asleep. Woke up at two, shut off the TV and the light, and then went to the bathroom. Glanced outside and saw heavy fog, the pea-soup variety! I haven't seen that thick of fog around here for a while. Went back to sleep...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Upset on a Wet Wednesday

I lost my work cell phone!!!

I have no idea what happened to it. I went to lunch with my friend B___ and he called me when he was close to my building (so I had it then). We went to lunch in a restaurant at a nearby Mall, and then took a walk through the Mall after lunch (a little exercise never hurts). He drove me back to work and when I took off my coat (it was raining all day here) I had the cell phone holder clipped to my belt, but no phone.

So, I called him when I judged he had enough time to get back to his building and he went back out in the rain to search his car. Nothing! I called the restaurant and asked them to look for it. Nothing!! I did leave my name and number in case it showed up. I called the Mall's lost and found and left my name and number there as well, in case someone turned it in. I looked in the parking lot at work and then drove back to the Mall and looked in that parking lot. Nothing!!!

I called the number over and over from work, thinking if someone picked it up they would answer. Nothing!!!! So, frustrated, I gave up and called our Telecom, telling them the story and asking them to disable the phone, so no one could make a bunch of calls on it.

It was still raining when I got home. I did a load of midweek laundry and ate leftover shrimp scampi for dinner. I did call my Mom and we talked a bit. Then I watched TV until bedtime.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Taking it easy on Tuesday

Okay, so my back is still hurting. I do have one more bag of mulch at home that I should spread tonight but I don't want to! Then, Carla called to ask if they could come over after work to wash some bedding. Their apartment came with a small-size washer and drier that works for them but her Mom is coming up for Carla's graduation, so my extra-large capacity washer will come in handy.

So, problem solved. No work outside for me tonight. I wish I'd taken something out for dinner, though (I was just gonna eat leftovers) because most things frozen take too long to thaw. Then it occurred to me: shrimp doesn't!

So, when I got home, I cleaned up the kitchen and thawed a pound of 25 - 30 count raw shrimp. They showed up and started the laundry and when it was in the dryer, I made shrimp scampi and linguine. We grated parmigiano reggiano on top and ate. Really quite good for a thrown-together meal!

Jake cleaned up the dishes, the clothes were done and they left. I went and watched TV until I fell asleep. I woke up around 1:00 AM and read until 3:00 when I finally fell asleep again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another Quote

"May all your ups and downs be in bed and all your blues be Labbatts!"

~ Author Unknown

Another Memory Recalled

After living on the Palms Road mini-farm for a while, I got the idea of putting up a bluebird house. There was a big push on at the time to bring more bluebirds back to Michigan and I wanted to do my part. There was a double benefit to having them on the property: they were beautiful to look at and they exclusively ate mosquitoes (of which we had more than our share).

Now, the farm had, at various times, rabbits, chickens and pigs, which meant a lot of spilled feed, which likewise meant a lot of rodents. To combat these, we employed a small army of farm cats who lived in the main shed and went in and out through a small cat door I had made. It even had a little roof to keep the rain out of the shed.

So, in putting up the bluebird house, these cats were a definite factor. The house had to be on a post in the field, so I bought a nice cedar fencepost and set it out back. To cat proof it, I took some tin, wrapped it around the middle about half way up and nailed it on, so the cats couldn't climb up the post and couldn't jump up past the tin. A new bluebird house from Quality Farm and Fleet set on top and we were in business!

It took a while at first, but finally the bluebird house had some tenants, and then some baby bluebirds. I was thrilled! But, the bigger miracle was yet to come.

Now the farm consisted of just two acres and there was a wood fence that separated the front from the back, just about midpoint. So (at that time) in front of the fence was the house and grass and in back were sheds, "Our Blue Haven," a camper my wife brought with her when we married, a huge vegetable garden and fields. So, with that much grass, I needed a riding mower (I think the first one was a little one that came from my Dad's house).

Later that summer, when I was cutting grass, I noticed the bluebirds flying circles around my head. Diving and darting, they would fly very, very close to me! And, they repeated this every time I cut the lawn in the backyard. I was sure that somehow they knew it was me who put up their safe little house and were performing their amazing acrobatic tricks to thank me. I was humble, yet proud!

Sadly, it wasn't long afterwards I was reading an article that mentioned this phenomenon and I learned they were just chasing and eating the mosquitoes I was kicking up with the mower...

Quote

"Why does the Air Force need expensive new bombers? Have the people
we've been bombing over the years been complaining?"

~ George Wallace

Monday Moanin'

Well, it was supposed to be hot and thunderstorm today. We did get a brief shower or two during the work day, but the predicted thunderstorms never showed.

So, against my back's better judgment, I stopped at Home Depot and bought 6 more bags of mulch and more grass seed. Got home and didn't even change clothes, but went out straight to work. I cleaned up the garden under the front maple, and the bush in front of it, and then dragged out the weedwacker to clean up the overgrown grass. Then I applied fresh mulch (took before and after photos and posted them).

While walking back and forth I noticed I have a LOT of big stones from the driveway in my grass. Why? Well, the only thing I could think of was during the winter when a young neighbor boy offered to shovel my driveway for $15 after the only significant snowfall we had. Long time readers may remember that I gave him $20 on the condition he do a good job. He did! But, I think, in his enthusiasm, he threw not only snow but gravel onto the lawn. Not good for my lawn service, whenever they show up. He's a neighbor, and I don't want him to screw up his machines because of my lawn and the rocks!

What to do? My back's already hurting from this weekend and now today's yard work. I glanced across the street and had my answer. There are two little girls (six and eight year's old) who live in the townhouses over there. They are always playing outside and when I was laid up with my knee operation, I used to play kick-ball back and forth across the street with them (they thought it was cool and I needed the exercise). So, I went over to their mother and offered to hire them for two dollars apiece if they would come over, pick up the rocks and throw them back in the driveway. She said she would supervise and the deal was done.

I gave her the money up front, because I was going in the back yard to work. I peeked out every now and then, and it seemed like the mother was doing most of the work, but when they left, all the rocks were back where they belonged and, for just four dollars, I was a very happy man!

I got the little garden on Jake's patio mulched and the one herb garden by the chiminea. I noticed the French Tarragon survived the winter and is coming up again, but the Rosemary did not. I had one bag of mulch left, but my back was screaming, so I quit.

Dinner was just leftovers and TV was taped, so I went to bed early.

Monday, April 23, 2007

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Front bush and tree garden, "before"

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Front bush and tree garden, "after"

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Front tree garden, "before"

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Front tree garden, "after"

Perfect Sunday!

Woke up at 5:30 AM, but made myself lay in bad reading until 6:30. 5:30 is too early to get up on a weekend!

I had five trips of bacon left from yesterday's meatloaf, so made them with eggs over easy and 12-grain toast. Shaved and showered and I'm off to Home Depot and then grocery shopping. I picked up some Roundup Grass Killer for my driveway, six bags of cedar mulch (the first of many bags...) and a forsythia bush for the front of the house. You might remember I tried Lu's trick last year of cutting forsythia branches and just sticking them in the dirt where I wanted a bush to grow. Hers grew, mine didn't.

It's supposed to be over 80 degrees F. today (over 25 degrees C. for my foreign friends)! So, first thing was to turn the furnace off and open every window in the house. And of course, later, grilling will definitely be in order. I took out a small rib eye steak to thaw first thing this morning. At Westborn, I was pleased to see the first Vidalia onions of the year, so picked up two of them, and then grabbed some asparagus and some radicchio to grill.

At Farmer Jack's, my man in produce came over and said, "It's not out yet, but I just got some Florida sweet corn in and it looks great!" So, I sent him back to get me six nice ears of corn (also for grilling today).

Got home, put away the groceries, put the corn in the galvanized wash tub covered with water and went out to plant the forsythia. I planted it at the very front of the tiger lily row that separates my yard from my neighbor. Noticed a LOT of volunteer tiger lilies were growing in the mulch and/or in the grass. So, got out the weedwacker and trimmed them down. Then, used the mulch I'd bought for the back yard along the sides of the row (see, I told you - many, many bags of mulch). I took a picture and posted it, BTW.

Next, mixed up the Roundup and sprayed the driveway grass. Not supposed to rain until after 2:00 AM, so it will have plenty of time to work. Well, that cinches it! I have totally blown out my back. I have GOT to figure out a way to extend the wand on the sprayer so I don't have to crouch over (my back does NOT like that!) So, decided at 2:00 PM to do a load of laundry and lay down for a bit to try and get right.

Got up at about 4:00 PM, feeling a little better. I put the unidentified rub Jake gave me on the steak and it's getting happy. Then, I made a marinade of 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and two splashes of Worcestershire sauce for the radicchio. I quartered it and keep turning it around in the mixture. This will be the first time I tried grilling this, BTW.

I minced up five cloves of garlic and added them with olive oil, salt and pepper to the trimmed asparagus spears.

Meanwhile I had two phone calls from B___, who has used this gorgeous weekend to cripple himself even worse than me. I was just working around the house, but he is getting his boat ready for launching, so its carrying 60 pound batteries (four or five of them, I think) up a ladder and into place, waxing the sides with an electric buffer (up again on a stepladder, holding it over your head) and so on. he told me in a hilarious story how he, too, is grilling today. I laughed until I cried, then we hung up. Back to work...

Put the clothes in the dryer and dragged the grill outside. I was lighting the charcoal when a familiar sound was heard for the first time this year in my neighborhood: The ice cream truck! The couple and their daughter I have become friends with walked over to the road to get something and the wife (I'm sorry, but I forget her name - some friend I am, right?) yelled out, "What's for dinner?" I yelled back, "Steak" and she gave me a thumbs up.

While the charcoal was getting ready, I used the time to reseed the front lawn. Then, when the coals were right, I put the corn on first, then the steak, took them all off and put on the radicchio and the asparagus.

Results? Well, the sweet corn was great! The asparagus was good, too (if you never grilled asparagus, you should try it. Totally different taste and texture). I cooked the steak a bit too long, so it was more medium than the medium-rare I prefer, but it still tasted good. However, the radicchio was ridiculous! (It really wasn't, but I just liked the alliteration). It just tasted a lot like warm, bitter lettuce. I was not impressed.

Went and watched my usual Sunday shows and then went to bed, very satisfied with my Sunday.

Red Wings Win the Series!

Well, the Red Wings finally won the playoff series against the Calgary Flames. Now maybe I can get some sleep at night! And, although there was no formal wager, I think somebody in Canada owes me lunch next time I'm in Calgary!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

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Hyacinths in St. Francis garden answer my Mom's question on what color I planted. Apparently, purple!

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Hyacinths, by the garage, at the end of their glory! They smell fantastic!!!

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New forsythia bush

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Tiger Lily row, cleaned up and mulched.

CaptainK's Bacon-Wrapped Meat Loaf

adapted from recipes by Wolfgang Puck and Tyler Florence

3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 pound Mushrooms, (I use Crimini, myself) finely chopped
3 Large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 1/2 teaspoons Minced fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons Minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Lean ground pork
1 pound Lean ground beef
1 pound Ground veal
1 Egg, lightly beaten
3/4 pound Sliced bacon

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Saute the onions until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook over medium high heat for 3 or 5 minutes. Add the cream, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Cool vegetable mixture.

In large bowl, combine the beef, pork, veal and vegetable mixture. Stir in the egg. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place a 9 x 5 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with the short side facing you. Take bacon slices and place them across the pan, slightly overlapping, to line the bottom and sides. Continue with the meat mixture, patting down to level. Fold the ends of the bacon strips up and over the ground meat mixture.

Lightly oil a 13 x 9 inch cake pan. Put the cake pan on top of the filled loaf pan and invert. You may have to shake the loaf pan to get the meat loaf out.

Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the bacon is crisp and the meatloaf is firm. Rotate the meat loaf while it's baking every now and then to insure that the bacon browns evenly. Remove the meatloaf from the oven. Using two spatulas, take the meat loaf out of the pan and put on a platter (to get it out of the bacon grease). Then let it cool a bit before slicing.

Iceberg Salad with Shrimp

Recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray

1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup prepared cocktail sauce
Few drops hot sauce
1 lemon, juiced plus 2 teaspoons zest
1/4 cup mayonnaise, eyeball it
1 cup (300 count) small shrimp
Salt and pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chives

Slam the core of the head of lettuce on the counter then twist and remove it. Quarter the head of lettuce lengthwise.

Combine cocktail sauce, hot sauce, lemon juice and zest and mayo. Stir shrimp into dressing and spoon it evenly down over quartered lettuce. Season salads with a little salt and pepper and scatter chives over the salads and serve.

Herb Butter Parsnips

Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced into circles
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Herb Butter:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs, like chervil, parsley and chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the olive oil and butter into a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and toss to coat them well with the fat; season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Herb Butter by combining the soft butter and herbs together; season with some salt and pepper.

To serve, spread some Herb Butter in the bottom of a bowl. Add the hot vegetables and dot with more Herb Butter. Moisten with some of the cooking liquid and serve.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

recipes courtesy of Rachel Ray

Smashed Potatoes

2 pounds small red potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 scallions, chopped, whites and greens
1/2 cup milk

Cover the quartered, red-skinned potatoes in water in a medium saucepan. Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes 10 minutes or until fork tender. Turn heat under pan off; drain potatoes and return to hot pan and warm stovetop to dry potatoes out. Add butter, sour cream, scallions, and milk to potatoes and smash to your desired consistency. Season potatoes with salt, to taste.

3-Condiment Pan Gravy

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (a handful) all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 rounded teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon steak sauce

Return cake pan to stovetop on medium heat. Add butter and onion to pan. Cook the onion 2 minutes and sprinkle pan with flour. Cook flour 1 minute and whisk in 1 cup beef stock. Bring broth to a bubble. If gravy is too thick, thin with additional stock. Stir in condiments and remove gravy from heat.

Apple Raisin Betty

Recipe courtesy of Sandra Lee

Butter flavored cooking spray
2 (21-ounce) cans apple pie filling (recommended: Comstock)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 packets instant oatmeal with raisins and spice, divided (recommended: Quaker Oats)
6 tablespoons butter, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with butter flavored cooking spray.

Spread half of the apple pie filling in the bottom of the casserole dish. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and 1 1/2 packets of oatmeal. Dot with half the butter. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

[Note CaptainK added a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top]

Saturday, and dinner at Mom's

Got up around 7:00 AM Saturday morning. Cleaned up the kitchen from last night's activities, cleaned myself up with a shower and shave, made a list of things to take (old Project Management habits die hard, I guess) and started packing up today's dinner.

I was on the road by 10:00 AM, with one quick stop for a bag of ice to put in the cooler. Knowing the weekend's are for road construction on the expressways in Michigan, I took 8 Mile Road to Groesbeck and Groesbeck to Mt. Clemens and my Brother Carl's house. He had suggested I stop and say hi to the goldfish that used to live with Newt.

I checked out his pond and his yard. It's quite lovely and it made me jealous! (I want a pond, too!) However, saying hi to Goldie was problematic, as he has about 25 goldfish roughly the same size and color as my old fish (along with some beautiful Koi and a catfish, BTW). At one point, he said, "You're not really gonna wrap a meat loaf in bacon are you. It'll be greasy as hell!" I just said, "Trust me!" Anyway, he was trying to get his lawnmower going (dead battery) and I had to get to Mom's, so I took my leave. I left thinking I not only got to see the pond, but I also got a large reality check: ponds are nice, but way too much work and money!

I got to Mom's just before noon, took the stuff out of the oven (that's where she keeps her cookies) and preheated it to 375 degrees F. I took a cake pan and inverted the loaf pan of meat loaf onto it (that's why it's not greasy, see? You don't cook it in a loaf pan, that's just so you can wrap the bacon easy and get the "meat Loaf" shape.) Since I had the meat loaf and the apple-raisin betty already made to go in the oven, it gave me and Mom a good hour to sit and talk before I had to peel the parsnips, etc. While unpacking, I discovered I had forgotten the chives (I forgot to put them on the list, LOL!) but Mom has some garlic chives growing outside, so problem solved.

Carl got there around 2:00 PM, with a huge hanging pot of Gerbera Daisies (he said he couldn't let me show him up in front of Mom, so if I was bringing food, he'd bring flowers). I already had the meat loaf out and resting on a platter (bacon was perfect texture, better than the last one I made). I finished up the potatoes, parsnips and made the gravy. Then I cut the lettuce into wedges (I made them too big, BTW - nobody could finish their salad) and dinner was served.

Upshot? Everybody loved everything EXCEPT for one small thing. Carl felt the herb-butter mixed in the parsnips masked the parsnip flavor too much. He said they were great, just not enough of the earthy, nutmeg-sorta taste of parsnips. He had me try a small slice vs. a large slice and he was right. So, now I have to experiment on how much is too much when it comes to the herb butter (I did follow the recipe, BTW).

I did try just a little of the warm apple-raisin betty topped with just a little ice cream (I have been fascinated by it ever since I saw it made). Very good (but not made for diabetics, I'm sure). Carl insisted on doing all the dishes and I ended up leaving about 4:30.

I normally take I-94 expressway home, but the expressway was down to one lane from 26 mile to 16 mile, so I tried Gratiot but that was stop and go, too (probably all the people who would normally be on the E-way). So, at 21 Mile, I got p*ssed, went over to North Ave and went Groesbeck (fine) to I-696 (fine) to the Southfield (more construction!) Finally got home.

My legs were killing me, so I told myself, see stupid, you ain't supposed to drive that far and you sure ain't supposed to stand on a tile floor for two hours cooking either. Was gonna start on the trailer, or do something outside, but just felt crappy in general. So, I watched the end of the Red Wings game, then a movie ("Exit Wounds" with Steven Segal and DMX - set in Detroit, BTW)).

I finally figured it out this (Sunday) morning, when I discovered I forgot to take my pills yesterday. So, I'm thinking no Celebrex might have added to my leg problems and no diabetic meds was probably why I felt so lousy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Red Wings vs. Calgary Flames - 5th game

Okay, so the good news is that the Red Wings won this game 5 to 1 and we lead the series 3 to 2. However, even though I only saw the last 7 minutes, I was dismayed at the violence (I know, I know, hockey is a very physical game - tennis it ain't! But some of it seemed really unnecessary.) Since I just saw the end (and the Red Wings seemed over-the-top aggressive), I checked the stats. See below:

Penalty Summary

1st Period

Calgary hooking - 2 min 8:29, W. Primeau
Detroit slashing - 2 min 8:29, D. Cleary
Calgary holding - 2 min 10:25, R. Hamrlik
Detroit interference with goaltender - 2 min 12:59, K. Maltby
Detroit hooking - 2 min 17:47, M. Schneider

2nd Period

Detroit interference - 2 min 2:01, C. Chelios
Detroit roughing - 2 min 5:58, T. Holmstrom
Calgary hooking - 2 min 8:10, A. Tanguay
Detroit cross check - 2 min 10:25, M. Schneider
Detroit too many men on the ice - 2 min 14:37, Bench served by J. Hudler
Detroit slashing - 2 min 15:08, C. Chelios

3rd Period

Calgary holding - 2 min 4:48, R. Warrener
Calgary tripping - 2 min 9:01, J. Iginla
Detroit clipping - 2 min 11:25, B. Lebda served by T. Bertuzzi
Calgary tripping - 2 min 15:18, D. Langkow
Calgary fighting - 5 min 15:18, D. Phaneuf
Detroit fighting - 5 min 15:18, T. Bertuzzi
Calgary slashing - 2 min 16:43, W. Primeau
Calgary slashing - 2 min 17:01, J. McLennan served by S. Yelle
Calgary slashing - 5 min 17:01, J. McLennan served by S. Yelle
Calgary game misconduct - 10 min 17:01, J. McLennan
Detroit interference with goaltender - 2 min 18:08, J. Hudler
Calgary hooking - 2 min 19:17, J. Iginla
Calgary cross check - 2 min 19:17, J. Iginla
Calgary cross check - 2 min 19:50, M. Nilson

Kinda makes the Middle East look like a playground!

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New Spring wreath

Friday Night

Beautiful day Friday! I didn't wear a coat and I had the window down driving home. When I got home, I was going to spray the grass growing in the driveway, but found I had no grass killer left. Bummer!

So, I drilled a hole in the picnic table and put in the 6-foot market umbrella I bought on sale a few weeks ago. I think it looks pretty good (see photo).

Came in, cleaned up and changed clothes. Then, I started prepping the food for Saturday's dinner at Mom's. Finalized menu is:

~ Iceberg Salad with Shrimp
~ Bacon-Wrapped Meat Loaf
~ Mashed redskin potato with scallions and sour cream
~ Herb-butter parsnips
~ and for dessert, an Apple-Raisin Betty, served warm with ice cream

So, I made the salad dressing, got the meat loaf in the pan, got the apple-raisin betty in the casserole dish and a compound herb butter made and in the freezer.

It was about 9:30 PM, thought about watching TV, but went to sleep instead (too much late-night hockey is not good for old guys!)

Friday, April 20, 2007

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Cheap umbrella, installed in picnic table

On this day in History (April 20)

1769
Ottawa Indian chief Pontiac murdered.

1841
The first detective story, Edgar Allen Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue was published.

1902
Marie and Pierre Curie isolated radium.

I stayed up late (again)...

...and the Red Wings lost (again!)

Well, the series is all tied up. Better goal tending and a more effective power play let the Calgary Flames win 3 to 2. But, now the series are coming back to Detroit (home ice advantage?). We'll see...

Thursday and finally out in the Yard!

I got home and immediately put 6 chicken legs in cold water in the fridge (two hours or overnight), then went right outside. I have picked up the trash several times (as you know) but noticed several local companies already cutting grass (I think it's a bit early, but.) so I went out to pick up all the fallen branches/sticks. I made two turns of the back yard and got them all. I grabbed the camera and took some pictures of my Spring here in Redford (posted).

Went back in the house after filling the bird feeder and suet holder and started a load of laundry. I changed clothes and watched some Food Network shows.

Okay, so why fried chicken? Because I need to use and/or discard the oil in the deep fryer after 8 days, and I just filled it up for Jeremy's family's French fries last Saturday. Now, long time readers will remember, I have always favored "The Lady and Sons" fried chicken recipe. But, I thought I would try something different tonight. So, I went with "Tyler's Ultimate" (Tyler Florence, one of my personal chef heroes) fried chicken. Oddly enough, most of the process mimics Paula Deen (The Lady and Son's). The major difference was to add handfuls of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and sage) and fresh, crushed garlic to the oil BEFORE adding the chicken. It's supposed to infuse the oil with flavor.

The rest is familiar. Heat the oil to 350 to 360 degrees. Pat the chicken dry after draining from the water (I normally would have used buttermilk). Then dredge in flour, dip in buttermilk mixed with hot sauce (until mixture is orange) then coat with flour and house seasoning (salt, pepper and garlic salt). Fry 14 minutes (for dark meat, like legs - 11 minutes for white meat like breast meat), drain on a rack over paper towels and, DIG IN!

So, was there a difference with the herb-infused oil. Actually, yes. It was subtle, but you could taste them. Very good!

Watched TV until the Hockey game came on (next post) and went to bed late again.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

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IT MUST BE SPRING! CaptainK has the rear hose hooked up!!!

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Flowers appearing in the woodland garden. What are they? I dunno...

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This forsythia was a little more protected, but still..

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Freeze-damaged forsythia (you'll note the trash in the yard over the fence)

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The St. Francis hyacinths, just starting to come out.

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More South-side garage hyacinths

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Hyacinths by the garage, some suffered freeze damage, but they are trying!

Wednesday Night Experiments

Stopped at Westborn on the way home to get stuff for Saturday. Last week my Mom had called and she asked me if I had a good meatloaf recipe. I was shocked! I told her I have spent at least 40 years trying to recreate the meatloaf she used to make when I was a kid. And, I never have made it as good as she did. I said, "Why not make your usual meatloaf?" and she said she forgot how!

So, Saturday, I am going to her house to make her a meatloaf dinner. My brother Carl is going to join us as well. And, I needed supplies for the meal (I haven't finalized the menu just yet).

Probably because I was focused on cooking, when I got home, I decided to make New England clam chowder again. Why? Because it seemed to me when I made it on Saturday, it was a little different (if you remember, I made it over the course of two days). Since it was just the appetizer, I really didn't think about it at the time, but it did occur to me later. So, I wanted to see if I missed any steps (and, I like clam chowder and I needed dinner, anyway, lol!)

Anyway, worked through it and sure enough, I did miss two steps. One was when the potatoes are done, but before you add the clams, I use the stick blender to thicken it even more (being careful to leave at least half of the potatoes intact). Before I got the stick blender, I used a potato masher, BTW. The other was, when I serve it, I put a pat of butter on top of the soup, along with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Jyl dished it out and I mentioned the parsley, but forgot the butter.

Mystery solved!

A combination of TV watching and reading took me up to bedtime.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Well, if I blog on the good stuff...

...I guess I should on the bad as well.

I don't know if it was the home ice advantage, or they didn't want to be embarrassed in front of their fans, but the Calgary Flames seemed to be a different team last night. The Red Wings were leading 2 to 1 until almost the end of the second period, when Calgary tied it up. Then they scored one more goal! Try as they might, the Red Wings couldn't score again. So Calgary won...

Come on, Red Wings! Don't make me have to look bad in front of Canada!!!

Tax Day

I filed my Federal and State taxes on Tuesday (the last day you could). I thought I had a copy of the Beatle's "Taxman" song, to get myself in the proper frame of mind, but I couldn't find it. Why did I wait so long? Well, if you owe money, does it make any sense to file early???

So, that was depressing. I decided I need some comfort food, so I made a salad with Italian dressing and for dinner, I made my Linguine with clam sauce.

Watched a taped Deadliest Catch episode, then House, then went to Boston Legal, but it was replaced with a special on the Virginia Tech massacre. I watched a bit of that, then switched to the Red Wings game in Calgary, Canada. This morning, I wish I hadn't as it didn't get over until after 12:30 AM! And, they lost anyway!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Monday

After work, I went in the backyard to pick up trash again (tomorrow's garbage pickup) then came in the house. After all the weekend's excitement, I am just going to chill out tonight.

I finished all the ribs and steak leftovers (they were great even the second time) and the last two ears of sweet corn (they were still mediocre).

I watched some shows I'd taped and went to bed early.

And, that was that!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunday's Tale

Woke up Sunday morning at 7:30. I had a "sleep interruption" last night and ended up reading from 1:00 AM to after 3:00 AM. Put on a pot of coffee and walked around the house, scratching and thinking about the day.

I was in an unfamiliar, odd situation. I had literally nothing to do today. I mean, the house was totally clean, the laundry's done and, other than empty the dishwasher and wash the pan left to soak, there's nothing to do. Wait a minute, no, I still have to clean Newt's home and file my taxes, but that's it...

My aimless wandering was cut short by the sound of the phone ringing. It was Carla, calling to chat. We talked about yesterday and she asked if there were a lot of leftovers. I said some, but I sent them all home with Jeremy and Jyl. I said I really needed to heat up my grill and dry it out, though (remember it ended the day yesterday with a thick coating of snow) so would they like to come over for a cookout? She checked with Jake and said; sure, they would be here around 3:00 PM.

Finally, something to do!

Checked my recipes and made my choices, now off to get a few things at Farmer Jack's. Got onto Plymouth Road when I noticed the car was bumpy and pulling to the right (San Jose is all bumps, so I didn't notice it at first). Pulled into the gas station and the front passenger tire was almost flat! Pumped it up, (praying I hadn't broke the bead), got the groceries and then stopped at Murray's Auto for some "Fix-a-Flat" for tomorrow morning, if needed.

My daughter, M_____ (the hairy one), called and we talked a while - me, holding the phone with my shoulder while I prepped food. But, by 2:00 PM, there were two steaks, covered in a mesquite marinade, sitting in the fridge, Beer-Baked Beans in a two-quart casserole dish baking in the toaster oven, and Sweet Bourbon Baby Back Ribs slow-cooking in the oven, waiting to be finished off on the grill. There were also 6 ears of sweet corn, soaking in the galvanized tub (I know they won't taste "great", but I am always hopeful).

Jake and Carla showed up. We chatted for a while, but around 4:30, decided to get serious about dinner. I fired up the grill and Jake got busy. The ribs came out of the oven and onto the grill, basted with a mix of store-bought BBQ sauce and 1/4 cup of bourbon, and the sweet corn in their husks were cooking. The corn got pulled and replaced with the two steaks.

Meanwhile Carla set the table. We had a brief disagreement when she wanted to use paper plates. I explained to her my one and only philosophy of life: you never drink champagne out of a paper cup! So, regular plates it was.

Then, we ate. Steaks were great. Ribs were awesome and the sweet corn was, well, no better than you would expect from early sweet corn from Mexico or where ever they get it in April.

We cleaned up and then they left. I checked to see who won the hockey game (we did! Sorry, Canada) Then read for a bit, watched some TV and finally went to sleep.

Damn! Just realized I never did clean Newt's house or file those taxes...

Oh, Canada...

Well, I must confess, after the first period, I was really prepared to gloat. But your Calgary Flames did seem to bounce back and, even though they lost, played some hard-hitting hockey the rest of the game.

But, they LOST!

Oops, that's me... gloating...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Recipes

Here are the two things I routinely make to go with fish:

LEMON-SHALLOT BUTTER

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 lemon, zest finely minced
1 small shallot, finely minced
Salt and pepper

In a food processor, combine all ingredients until mixed. Place whipped butter mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log. Freeze until ready to use. Butter will keep in the freezer for at least a month.

HERB-SPIKED MAYO

1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, or more to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest, horseradish, chives, and parsley. Serve the fish with the mayonnaise mixture spooned over the top.

The Birthday Dinner

Got up at 7:00 AM (late for me and late for today) I've got a LOT of work to do today, promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. (Okay, I stole part of that, but it worked).

Decided I didn't have time for breakfast, just coffee as I started cleaning the house. According to the time table (oh yes, there's a timetable on a spreadsheet - hey make fun if you want, but today's dinner is too complex and has too many cooking events - oven, charcoal grill, deep fryer - for this old guy to remember) I'm supposed to leave for Harbor Freight Tool store at 9:00 AM.

Got everything swept, dust mopped, vacuumed and generally spit-shined (except for mopping the kitchen floor. I'll do that as I leave, walking backwards, so it can dry while I'm gone), then shaved and showered. Was putting on my pants when the first tragedy of the day struck! The button broke! Now, I don't mean it came loose or off, the center of the button broke out! Fortunately, I do save loose button, so took a little time found a matching (sort-of) button and sewed it back on.

Got to Harbor Freight and bought the folding trailer. It took much longer than I thought as they have to give me a Chinese Title, filled out in my name, so I can get a real title here in Michigan. By the way, while the box weights were correct (one 50# and one 200#) the lengths were not and both did fit inside the Volvo. Drove towards home and stopped at Farmer Jacks. Got more supplies, then went home.

Put the kitchen back in order and then left for my 11:30 AM haircut. Then over to Westborn and got the salmon (I was hoping for salmon steaks, but the fishmonger said they only have them at certain times of the year) Then home and unpacked. Checked the timetable and I'm still on track (more or less).

Since I had a bit of time, I decided to unload the trailer. I was gonna wait for Jeremy, but I was sure I had a way to do it without hurting myself and wanted to try. 50# box, no problem. 200# 6 foot box, a challenge! I figured you wouldn't really be lifting 200# by picking up one end, so I did. Got it on the edge of the trunk and wiggled it out from there. When it stated tipping downward, I put the furniture dolly under it and tugged it out. When I had the edge of the front of the box, I picked it up and over the trunk lip, then rapidly (and I do mean rapidly) set it down. It did land on the furniture dolly, so I just rolled it out of my way.

So, at 2:30 PM, I started the food again. Warmed up the soup, the mashed potatoes and the casserole. Put fresh oil in the deep fryer and heated it to 320 degrees; then cooked the French fries for the first time. Put them on paper towels to rest for two hours.

I cut the salmon into three huge pieces (just small enough to fit on the cedar planks, which had been soaking in salted water for 4 hours). I brushed the filet chunks with oil and seasoned them with Potlatch seasoning (I got that a while ago from Williams Sonoma when I grilled lobster tails on cedar planks).

I added the clams to the soup and did a final taste test. Hmmm... maybe not my best ever, but damn good! I made up the horseradish and herb-spiked Mayo mixture for a fish sauce and popped it into the fridge. Then I made a lemon and shallot compound butter and popped that into the freezer. Here's where tragedy #2 struck: I have been washing dishes all along as I finished things, so I was washing the food processor attachment for the stick blender (used for the compound butter) when I cut a deep gash on my thumb with the blade. Finally got the bleeding to slow, but had to wear a cloth bandage on it, so for the rest of the food preparation and cooking, I had to use a series of rubber gloves on that hand.

I made up the potato borekas, which were 5 inch squares of thawed puff pastry dough, filled with a heaping tablespoon of garlicky-mashed potatoes, then folded into a triangle, edges crimped with a fork, brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with sesame seeds. They had to go into a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Somewhere in here the birthday girl, Jyl, Jeremy, Joe and Riese showed up. We chatted in the kitchen (Riese was watching cartoons in my bedroom) while I finished up. Jeremy's been putting in some long hours with a lot of problems at work and Jyl's having some problems in one of her classes, personal investing I think it was. Joe seemed okay, (Joe's always okay!) and Riese brought over two stories she wrote (she was invited to a Young Writers Conference last weekend).

Topped the casserole with a mixture of Italian herbs, breadcrumbs and grated parmigiano reggiano and baked it for 10 more minutes. Put the salmon on the grill with indirect heat. I put the probe thermometer in the thickest one, looking for an internal temp of 135 degrees. Made the hamburger patties and put them on, adding the cheese at the last minute. I cut up a baguette and gave the French fries their second cooking at 375 degrees for one minute to crisp them up. Nice thing was the rain they predicted held off for my grilling, although you could smell it in the air.

Meanwhile, Jeremy helped me add the leaf to the table and I covered it with a table cloth. Jyl set the table and dished out the soup. Finally, it was time to eat.

The results? Well, everyone said everything was great, but then they have to, right? Well, you already know what I thought of the soup. My personal take on the rest of it was the salmon was very good. I didn't have any cheeseburgers or fries, but Joe said they were good (he eats his with lettuce and tomato, no pickles, ketchup or mustard, BTW). The borekas had a great presentation and were very good (although Jyl confessed that wasn't what she had in mind). It's a Middle Eastern dish, but I was thinking it would have tasted more American mainstream if I had added some cheddar cheese on top the garlicky-mashed potatoes). And, last, but not least, the Italian broccoli casserole! Jyl said she thought it was great. I thought it was awful. Maybe I'm just not a broccoli casserole fan, but very bland.

Jyl cleaned up the kitchen and I loaded the dishwasher. I gave her the recipes she asked for (except for the New England clam chowder - that's a CaptainK-developed secret recipe) and gave them all the leftovers (they will eat them a lot faster than I would). And then they left right at 8:00 PM.

Went out at 9:15 PM to get my grille and it was snowing.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th? Who cares! I ain't superstitious. In fact, I think its bad luck to be superstitious!

Got home, happy it was Friday (even if it was Friday the 13th) First thing I did was to put the water lily, which had wintered over in a plastic bag in the front hall closet, back in the reflecting pool. Oddly enough, even though it was in a bag, in the dark and in the cold, it has 6-inch red shoots growing!

Filled the bird feeder, then came back in and changed my clothes, ready to get to work. Jeremy, Jyl, Joe and Riese are coming over tomorrow, to celebrate a belated birthday (back in March) for Jyl. Not knowing what a proper present might be, I volunteered to cook "anything" she wanted for her birthday. Her requested menu was:

Appetizer

New England clam chowder with thick, crusty rolls

Main Entr�es

Cedar-planked Salmon for the adults
Cheeseburgers for the kids

Side Dishes

Puff pastries filled with garlicky mashed potatoes
Italian broccoli casserole (please, use sour cream if recipe calls for mayo)
French fries

So, tonight, I am prepping the food.

Baked the casserole except for the last 10 minutes, where I add the Parmesan cheese and Italian bread crumbs and bake it until golden brown on top. When cool, it went into the fridge.

Made the New England clam chowder (a CaptainK specialty, if you remember), up to the point where you add the clams and cook it for two minutes more. Again, it's in the fridge.

I cooked and mashed the garlic-mashed potatoes that are the filling for the puff pastry dough, and put them in the fridge as well.

Peeled and cut the French fries on the mandoline, then put them on ice and in the fridge (you're supposed to do that anyway for at least two hours).

Please note: I have violated my own rule here. I normally NEVER serve ANYTHING I have not made before and tasted and approved in the CaptainK test kitchen. Oh well, we will all be taking a chance on this, I guess.

It was almost 10:00 PM when I got around to my own dinner. Too tired to be cool, I just grilled some hot dogs on the two-burner grille pan, and ate them on sourdough bread with mustard.

Went and watched the taped Friday Night Fights. Fell asleep before they ended.

Friday, April 13, 2007

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My new rolling garden seat

Smelly Thursday

At lunch, I picked up a garden helper thingie (rolling garden seat) that finally went on sale. It's got four air-inflated knobby tires, a heavy duty frame (it can take up to 300 pounds), a tray for your trowels, etc., and what looks like a tractor seat on top. So, this year, I won't have to plant my garden lying on my stomach.

It came disassembled, so when I got home, I started to put it together. Simple really (there was only 8 bolts and nuts), I spent more time looking for metric wrenches than I did putting it together.

Only problem? The tires STINK! I MEAN AWFUL!!! Before I was done, the whole house reeked! So, I threw it out into the garage to air out.

I made a hamburger steak with sauteed onions and mushrooms for dinner. I started watching TV, but fell asleep before 9:00 PM.

Sorry, Oh Canada!

I just finished watching the last part of the first playoff game and saw our beloved Detroit Red Wings beat your Calgary Flames...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wet Wednesday

We had a typical Michigan Spring day on Wednesday: Snow, sleet, a rain/snow mix and then torrential rain overnight with high winds.

Got home, changed clothes, then did my 20 minutes on the boredom machine. Spent some time on the computer while dinner warmed. It was the leftover potato, sausage and sauer kraut I had frozen last week. I was troubled on how to warm it without making the potatoes mushy, but finally decided to do it in a pot, adding a quarter cup of chicken stock, bringing it up to boil, then immediately turned it down to simmer.

Worked fine. I only ate a few potatoes (I'm not supposed to have them), mostly all the sauer kraut and sausage (with a little horseradish on the side) and a beer. Hey, if you're gonna eat German, eat German!!!

It was great at the time, but my upset stomach during the night wasn't so hot...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Trash Patrol

Got home yesterday and went straight outside (without even changing my clothes) with my trusty trash stick and a garbage bag and picked up another full bag of trash from my yard. Odd, but this time, along with the Farmer Jack sale papers and plastic bags from both CVS and Farmer Jack's, were literally hundred of coupons someone had clipped for various products. No sure if someone was holding them and fell down or let go somehow, but there they were...

Inside, changed and worked on the computer for a bit, then made dinner. I had about a half a pound of nice big raw shrimp in the fridge I needed to do something about. So, I made it into shrimp scampi, added more olive oil and butter and used it as a sauce for some fettuccine.

Watched TV and went to bed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I forgot to mention it, but...

yesterday was Easter Monday (honest).

I heard that, so I looked it up. Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday and is celebrated as a holiday in some largely Christian cultures.

Though not largely observed in the United States, oddly enough the day remains informally observed in some areas such as the states of North Carolina and North Dakota, and the cities of Buffalo, New York and South Bend, Indiana. Traditionally Polish areas of the country such as Chicago observe it as well. Easter Monday is a public holiday, along with Good Friday in Australia (and some other Commonwealth countries). Along with Good Friday, Easter Monday is a Bank Holiday in the United Kingdom (except Scotland), making a four-day weekend.

So, a belated Happy Easter Monday to you!

Monday and Good Eats

I stopped at Farmer Jack's on the way home Monday night to pick up some stuff I ran out of over the weekend (flour, onions, etc.).

When I got home, I had a voicemail from my daughter M______, who was dismayed to learn that NOBODY commented on her hairiness. I could have told her that entries I expect a comment on rarely get them. I am still waiting for somebody out there to tell me what foie gras and truffles taste like.

Since it was Monday, it was back to the exercise machine (groan). No, its not hard, and I know its important for both my leg and my overall health, but its soooo boring!

Next making dinner. Feeling a bit lazy, I had picked up a rotisserie chicken at the store (I don't know where they get such small chickens! Are they really pigeons?). I stuck that in the oven to warm while I peeled some sweet potatoes. I cut them into chunks and put them on a cookie sheet. Next I drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I omitted the next two steps in the recipe (which is to drizzle them next with 1/4 cup of honey and sprinkle with cinnamon) as I am not THAT fond of sweets. Put them in a 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes. Then I peeled some parsnips and sliced them. I saut�ed them in olive oil and butter until the edges were getting browned, then added a cup of water and simmered them for 20 minutes. While they were cooking, I made a compound herb butter (one stick of softened butter, mixed with chopped parsley and chives). When the parsnips were done, I drained them and added in the herb butter.

Excellent meal! And I even got more bones for the next time I make chicken stock.

Watched "Emeril Live" (live) and the first show of the season for "The Deadliest Catch" (Alaskan crab fishing reality show - taped) then read until bedtime.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Happy Easter, Everybody!

I got up early Easter morning and made scrambled eggs with chives (yes, I braved the cold to snip off a few of the newly emerging chives in my garden). I paid some bills online and then sent out some Easter e-cards. After that I did a bit of housecleaning, then shaved and showered.

This promises to be one of the more unusual Easters I have had. Jake and Carla invited me to an all-you-can-eat brunch at an Irish pub. After that, we are going to see the movie "Grindhouse."

So, first the pub: It's called Claddagh Irish Pub, and has a really nice d�cor. The resturant is made up of large "rooms," some have old beams, some have stone walls like a castle, etc. I know there is another one in Toledo, but I don't think it's a chain.

For brunch you HAD to have reservations (I did see one older couple turned away) and even so, we did have to wait a bit while they bussed the table. Since our reservation was for 1:15 PM, Carla had a glass of wine and Jake and I had Guinness draft. The menu?

The flyer said there were over 50 items, including:
Irish Eggs/Scrambled eggs
Bacons and sausages
Fresh omelet station
Large salad and fruit bar
Authentic Shepherds pie
Irish Guinness Beef stew
Poultry Speciaties
Homemade breads, Danish and muffins
Homemade Belgian waffle bar
Large assortment of confectionary delights
Chocolate Lovers Dessert bar
Plus much, much more...

Personally I had the 1/4 of a Belgian waffle, Irish Eggs, little sausages (I think they are called Bangers in England), Irish bacon, a slice of beef roast and the shepherds pie. All of it was excellent! I wanted to go back and try the beef stew, but the lines were too long and I really was full. Carla and Jake had an omelet and some melon as well.

Then, off to the movies! Grindhouse is a 2007 film made to look like a 1970's B movie. In North America, the film is presented as a double feature of two full-length segments, one being a zombie film, Planet Terror, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, and the other being an action film, Death Proof, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, with faux trailers advertising fictional films preceding each segment.

I enjoyed both movies, but, never being much of a zombie movie fan, I liked the second movie, Death Proof, better. Lots of car chases and crashes. Only complaint - it was almost 3 1/2 hours long! I had to keep leaving the show for the rest room and eventually, my butt fell asleep!

I got home around 7:00 PM, did the last load of laundry, watched my Sunday shows and went to bed at 10:30 or so.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Holy Saturday

I totally wasted this day. And, I say that with no regret.

I only went outside once, to fill the bird and squirrel feeders. I attempted to hand feed a squirrel (he'd come within 3 feet before he stopped and I'd toss him a peanut)

Lunch was the remaining fried chicken legs and a green salad

So, what DID I do? Read an entire book: "Act of God" a John Cuddy mystery written by Jeremiah Healy. And, I also watched the movie "The Fellowship of the Ring" again (well, I did doze off during the middle of it. Hey, it's like four hours long!)

Dinner tonight? Wild rice and a steak. Took the steak out and rubbed it with an herb mixture Jake gave me. Let it come up to room temperature while I started the wild rice. Now, I have tried a lot of wild rice mixtures, even expensive gourmet ones, but I like the original Uncle Ben's the best, the one that has like 23 herbs and takes 25 minutes to cook. Only thing I do different is to use chicken stock instead of water.

Went to bed around 10:00 PM, after cleaning up the kitchen.

Nice to take a day off every now and then...

Saturday, April 7, 2007

It's Saturday Morning, Over Easy, and...

...I just heard James Taylor's Steamroller Blues (lyrics below). An excellent version, but not as good as the one I heard Jimmy Hay do, sitting cross-legged by a campfire in front of a tent, pitched next to a crick (in my family, we NEVER called them a "creek", okay?) in Richmond, Michigan, around midnight in the summer of 1973, with just his six-string... Afterwards, it was the first time I ever saw the Northern Lights...

Ah, memories...

God bless you, Jimmy, wherever the hell you are...

STEAMROLLER BLUES

~James Taylor

Well, I'm a steamroller, baby
I'm bound to roll all over you
Yes, I'm a steamroller now, baby
I'm bound to roll all over you
I'm gonna inject your soul with some sweet rock 'n roll
And shoot you full of rhythm and blues

Well, I'm a cement mixer
A churning urn of burning funk
Yes, I'm a cement mixer for you, baby
A churning urn of burning funk
Well, I'm a demolition derby (yeah)
A hefty hunk of steaming junk

Now, I'm a napalm bomb, baby
Just guaranteed to blow your mind
Yeah, I'm a napalm bomb for you, baby
Oh, guaranteed, just guaranteed to blow your mind
And if I can't have your love for my own (now)
Sweet child, won't be nothing left behind
It seems how lately, baby
Got a bad case steamroller blues

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I woke up to this dusting of snow on Holy Saturday

Oh, BTW, Reheating Corn Dogs...

...in the microwave does NOT work. Not sure why (maybe the steam in the hot dog loosens the cornbread coating) but, lesson learned: Eat all the corn dogs when you first make 'em (or forget 'em)!

Good Friday was not so good...

Got up after sleeping in late (what a luxury!) Decided breakfast would be soft-boiled eggs. Spent a while answering emails, then shaved and showered. Today's focus is to get a 4 x 8 foot folding trailer I saw on sale, so I can use it for my upcoming kitchen renovation.

I took off the back headrests in the car, put down the pass through, pulled the passenger seat all the way forward and tilted it all the way up. Gave me 6 feet space to the edge of the trunk. I was told the trailer comes in two boxes (yes, you have to assemble it yourself. I talked to a guy who had bought one and he said it took him about a week, doing it after work.) I was told there would be two boxes, one 4 feet long weighing 50 pounds (tires, lights, hardware, etc.) and one 8 foot long weighing 200 pounds (all the steel). So, one's gonna stick out the trunk. They said on the phone they would load it and Jake had already volunteered to come and help me unload. so, I am good to go!

But, grocery shopping first. Even with my list, I was putting the bags in the car when I remembered I didn't get the on-sale shrimp or horseradish. So, had to go back in, then back through the lines, etc. (groan)

Then I went to Target, for a bathrobe. I ripped the arm out of my robe yesterday morning before work (it was REALLY getting threadbare) Now, you might not know but, my old bathrobe was about 8 years old, thick white cotton and cost a bundle. But, I want that trailer, so I settled for a $20 robe that's as thin as my wallet, back in the day. Oh, well...

I went home and unpacked, and put the perishables in the fridge. Now to get the trailer! But, first, I had to stop at Lowes. I finally saw a nail gun set on sale. 15% off! So, I bought a Stanley Bostich 2 in 1 Nailer/Stapler tool and Compressor Combo pack (almost too big to get into the car). This also will come in handy for the kitchen redo. Then off to get the trailer...

Wrongo! Place was PACKED (I've only been there before at lunchtime during the week) with an interesting mix of customers. Anyway, got a guy to give me the stock number, grabbed a 6 foot market umbrella on sale (with coupon) for $6.95 (I'll drill a hole and put it in the picnic table) and stood in a l-o-n-g line. Finally my turn and the checkout guy gets p*ssed! He says, "Everybody knows we are out of those trailers." So, I have to wait for a Manager and fill out a card to get a rain check. While they get restocked every Monday afternoon, they don't order anything; just take whatever the "home office" sends. So, nobody knows if or when they will be in.

Drove home, really annoyed, until I took out the nail gun set. Then, I smiled...

Put the car back together, then checked my ToDo list: Next thing was to put the water-lily that wintered in my front hall closet back in the pool. Not gonna happen unless I chip through the 2 inches of ice (its 28 degrees F. and windy). I decided what I really wanted to do was take a nap. So, I did...

When I got up, I tried to strain the cooking oil through a coffee filter. NO WAY! So, I hunted for a while for some cheesecloth I KNOW I had, but never found it. Settled on a metal strainer to get big chunks out. I washed the entire unit (oil is temporarily in the smaller stock pot), towel-dried it and let it sit to air dry while I did two loads of laundry.

I was putting away my clothes when I was struck anew at the disorganized mess in the smaller four drawers at the top of my dresser. In a fit of pique, I pulled each of them out and overturned them on the day bed for me to sort through. Put the empty drawers back in the dresser, while wondering what the hell THAT was all about. Frustration? Wild hair?

Put the fryer back together, added the semi-cleaned oil and fired it up! I made Fish and Chips with an Alton Brown recipe. The fish was excellent (I used tilapia, dredged in cornstarch then dipped in his beer batter with Old Bay seasoning and ground cayenne pepper). But, the chips sucked (even with malt vinegar). Not sure why, but I was busy eating the fish and didn't really care (oh, it was GOOD!!!)

Decided to leave the mess for tomorrow morning's cleanup and went to watch the Friday Night Fights on ESPN. After they were done, I went to the bathroom, noticed it was snowing (the possum had turned on the floodlights), and then went to sleep.

Help! I can't get this picture out of my head!!!

I just got an email, urging me to try "Colon Cleaning at Home"

Friday, April 6, 2007

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The sum total of my Easter decorations...

Maundy Thursday

(What, you think 'cause I don't go to church, I forget?)

For you non-ex-Catholics, here's the story:

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. It celebrates Jesus's last supper before his execution. Traditionally, it is the day when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and told them to serve others as he served them.

The Middle English word Maundy, used only in this context, derives from Old French mand from Latin mandamentum (_commandment_), in reference to the opening words of the Catholic liturgy for this day, Mandatum novum do vobis "a new commandment I give unto you" (John xiii:34), words spoken by Jesus to the Apostles after washing their feet in preparation for the Last Supper.

(From Wikipedia)

Anyway, needless to say, I didn't wash anybody's feet. Nobody here. I suppose I could have washed Scruffy's, but he usually bites you if you mess with his feet. After getting home, I was using the main bathroom and glanced out the window. The wind had pushed around and tipped over all my patio furniture. Then a squirrel came running across the patio and stopped at the reflection pool. He used both front paws to claw through the skim ice to get a drink. I was thinking maybe I was a little premature thinking Spring was here...

So, three-day weekend, but the weather is terrible: Freezing cold, bitter winds and occasional snow (and I was gonna work in the yard!) Time to regroup!

Tonight's big adventure? Using the deep fryer! It works GREAT! I made my corn dogs first (I ate four of them with a little yellow mustard). Turned it off for a bit, but I was inspired! So, I thawed out the rest of the chicken legs I had packaged off and froze. Once thawed, I dipped them in buttermilk and hot sauce, then in flour and house seasoning and deep fried them as well. Delicious! And, I have corn dogs and chicken legs for snack all weekend! I love this thing!!!

But, now it was late, so I shut everything down and will clean it up in the morning. Watched some TV, read, then bed.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Two quotes I like, but no designated "authors"

"He's just a few peas short of a casserole"

and

"He's about as effective as Helen Keller at a pinata party"

So, what have I been missing?

A recent discussion with Carla, regarding "what does caviar taste like?" (my answer? Salty, with a little "pop" like you were slowly eating a fresh raspberry), reminded me of two things I have never tasted but always wondered about: Truffles and foie gras.

Anybody know what either of these taste like? Let me know, please...

Windy and Cold Weather

Wednesday was crazy, weather-wise! It went from me weeding the front garden, with the windows open airing the house and 63 degrees F. on Tuesday to 33 degrees F. with 25 - 35 MPH winds (occasionally gusting to 45 MPH) when I got home from work today.

I had a rushed day at work and was worn out mentally. But, I still got on my machine and did 20 minutes of exercise.

From my previous post you know I talked to M________. I also called my Mom to see how she is feeling (okay) and what's she's doing for Easter (going to Joe and Kathy's house).

Jyl also called and we chatted. Every thing's okay up at my son's house, too. We picked a tentative date for her birthday barbecue, but with this kind of unsettled weather, who knows?

Warmed the last of the meatloaf up for dinner. Dozed off watching TV, so switched to reading and went to bed at 11:30 PM.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Quote

"Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider."

~ George Carlin

The Werewolf of Wolverine

I was just changing my clothes after getting home when the phone rang. It was my daughter, M______, upset and asking me to please take her dictation and publish this in the Blog.

Anyway, here is her speech, somewhat intact (Hey, I don't know shorthand, okay?)

"I am very, VERY upset with what I have inherited from you! Namely, my resilient gray hair! It refuses to be dyed, refuses to be cut, refuses to be styled and, in general, is a huge pain in the a__!

Anyway, she said, "I can blame some things on my Mom (big hips) but this is all your fault! Being a person with gray hair at 37 years old just p*sses me off." [Captain's note: She's right: My family do not traditionally have big hips. Also, I did NOT mention I had some gray hair before I was 25]

She said today was a "grooming day" [like CaptainK would know what that means?] and not only the gray hair is causing her concern, but "there is the mustache issue, the fact that I can shave my legs and the next day I have black stubble and, worst of all, I have hair growing on my feet like a werewolf!"

"Please, somebody just shoot me with a silver bullet!"

We commiserated for a bit and she hung up to make dinner for Dave, er, I mean D____.

I am still not certain of all of the ramifications of our conversation... But I promised to publish it.

Tuesday, Tuesday...

(Okay, clever title? Not so much, but I run out of them!)

Got home and got to work. It was supposed to be terrible thunderstorms this afternoon, but they completely missed us (sorry, mid-Michigan and Ohio). Its 5:30 PM and 68 degrees F., so I opened my house windows and turned off the furnace. Next, I took the blower and blew out the garage of sawdust, dirt, etc. I then pulled all the weeds out of the front floor bed (not a lot, but enough to annoy me).

I grabbed my camera and took better pictures of my emerging spring flowers. I filled the bird feeder and then got the drill and put new screws in the front storm door closer (two had fallen out). Posted the flower pictures. Now it's almost 6:30 and time to think about dinner. I guess it's the leftover chicken and broccoli pasta tonight.

Warmed that up in the microwave, topped it with shredded Parmesan cheese and ate dinner, watching TV. Good news! I found another small piece of glass from that drinking glass Scruffy broke a while back. Bad news? I found it with the bottom of my foot!

Watched TV until 11:00 PM and went to sleep.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

photo

Better shot of the daffodils under my bedroom window on the street-side of the house.

photo

Grape Hyacinth on South side of garage, just starting to bloom

photo

A better photo of the South side of the garage daffodils

photo

The Captain in 6th Grade (photo courtesy of Mom)

Monday, Monday...

Got home Monday night and changed clothes, Then it was back to the exercise machine (yes, I've started using my torture gizmo again) for a sweaty 20 minutes. Then I started checking out the fridge for "old" stuff as tomorrow is garbage day. Cleaned out anything that looked questionable.

My Mother had sent me one of those old teenie-tiny school pictures we used to get. This one is me in the 6th grade. I had showed it to my friend B___, who offered to blow it up to a 5 x 7 over the weekend and take out the imperfections (not my face! It's just old and cracked), which he did (he's a whiz at that stuff). So, I'm trying to scan and post it. But, I don't have any software to crop it, so I'll have to work on it tomorrow.

Now, dinner. I decided on meatloaf leftover from Sunday and the last two ears of sweet corn from Friday's KFC. But, I needed to dress it up a tad, right? So, I minced up a large shallot and two cloves of garlic and saut�ed them in olive oil and butter. Then I added the last four or five crimini mushrooms, sliced. Once everything was soft, I added a cup of red wine, brought it to a boil, and then simmered it until it reduced by half. Then, I poured it over the meatloaf. Delicious!

I watched TV for a while, and then switched to reading until bed time.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Another Satisfying Sunday

Woke up early Sunday morning and made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. The leftover pancakes went sailing out the back door like little brown Frisbees so the squirrels could have them for their breakfast, too.

Started thawing the meat I'd bought and frozen for meatloaf. It was a pound of ground hamburger, a pound of ground veal and a pound of ground pork. Went to work on the back door (by the patio). I wanted to take the frame of the windows off (it's one big sheet of glass with a frame that makes it look like a French door) but five of the screws were painted in so badly (it's an old door) that I could not get them out. So, I had to put all the screws back in until I can figure out another way.

Started the bedding in the wash machine. Then I drove to Murray's Auto. I noticed yesterday when I got back from my errands that my right side headlamp was burned out. So, I got a replacement bulb ($16.00 US!!!) came back home and put it in, with some difficulty (not a lot of room under the hood for your hands). But, it finally was in and working!

Did I mention the temperature? It was 68 degrees F., so I turned off the furnace and opened several windows to let the fresh air into the house. About that time, Jake called and we talked a while. Then Carla asked if they could come over and grill some chicken. I said sure, but I have thawed meat for meatloaf I needed to use up, today.

So, they came over around 3:00 PM and Carla got cooking! She made a marinade for the chicken and while that was getting happy in the fridge, she made homemade barbecue sauce (very tasty, I might add). Meanwhile, my meatloaf saut�ed items (chopped onion, minced garlic and a pound of mushrooms, chopped, then one cup of heavy cream added, brought to a boil and simmered for 5 minutes) had cooled enough. So, I added an egg to the meat, then the cooled other ingredients and mixed it all up. Then I lined a big loaf pan with strips of bacon, added the meat and inverted the loaf pan into a baking dish. I baked that and two acorn squash (with butter and brown sugar) for 1 � hours.

Meanwhile, Jake was grilling chicken and it all got done about the same time, so we had a feast. They left after cleaning everything up.

I watched the usual Sunday night shows and went to sleep at 10:30 PM.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

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Front of house daffodils (from afar)

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Daffodils in front of house

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First daffodils, coming out

Saturday's Story...

As I said, I woke up at 7:00 AM. Thought about it for a long time and then decided I'd went a little crazy with the fried chicken dinner last night, so I shouldn't eat breakfast.

Instead, I started a load of laundry and the dishwasher that Carla so graciously filled for me last night when she cleaned up. I took out the trash and got my library books and grocery list together so I could run some errands. Then I shaved and showered.

Took back the library books and got four more. While I was at it, I bought a "Friends of Redford Library" canvas tote bag (yes, I know I still have the St. Clair Library tote bag in the front closet, but the $2.50 US helps the library, and, hey, I live here now!) Anybody in St. Clair need a library tote bag?

I finally saw what I hope to be my last small appliance (unless I upgrade my stand mixer, which I threaten to do every Christmas when I use it) on sale this weekend at Sears (10% off) so I swung by the Livonia mall and bought a Euro-Pro 4 liter Electronic Deep Fryer. Now, I am sure my doctors would say the LAST thing I need is fried foods, but since I do occasionally fry chicken or seafood (see last post), I would like to be able to control it better than my current method of a pan half-filled with oil and my probe thermometer.

Not sure what I'll cook first, but I was thinking about the day I spent with Leon's sister-in-law at the country fair back in 1973 or so, so it might be corn dogs. We'll see...

Got home before the rain, so I folded up the tarp that covered all my outdoor "stuff" for the winter (I had it drying out in the garage) and took it up in the attic and brought down the hammock. I hung up the hammock, then got my dowel with a nail in it and attacked the back yard trash (see photos). I eventually got every piece of trash picked up (I filled an entire trash bag, BTW).

Next, I made a salami and cheese on sourdough bread sandwich for lunch, ate it reading one of my new library books, and then I took an hour nap.

Got up and started housecleaning. Got everything done (but washing the bedding) by 7:00 PM. Checked the fridge and there were three chicken thighs left from yesterday. So, I went with a semi-homemade theme. I had a small head of broccoli, so I cut off the florets and steamed them in chicken broth. I sauteed a little onion, garlic and some sliced mushrooms, then added the meat I'd shredded off the chicken thighs, the steamed broccoli and a jar of store-bought alfredo sauce (Hey, I said it was semi-homemade!) I let all that get happy while I made a box of fettuccine. Put it all together, topped it with shredded Parmesan cheese and it spelled "dinner".

Watched TV until I was sleepy, then actually shut everything off and went to sleep for a change.