Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Working on Tuesday

Well, tonight is the night for working outside! But, there's also dinner to consider... So, after stopping at CVS for my last prescription, I got home and immediately cut a large sweet onion into half inch slices and put the best rings in buttermilk. Then, I went out in the back.

I moved all the furniture (except for one chair, a table and the chiminea) to Jake's patio, drained the last three hoses and coiled them up and made a pile of everything. I went up into the attic and got the tarp, covered everything and then secured it with a clothesline through the tarp's grommets. I would have taken my usual picture, but it was too dark by the time I finished.

So, I got back inside, cleaned up and changed. I had an idea for Thursday night's dinner that I will need to prep tonight as well (so I can use the slow cooker, you see). I want to make something I'm calling Rustic Beef Stew (and I am making this one up, no recipe). So, I peeled the two rutabagas and then cut them into nice size chunks (no 1-inch cubes in my Rustic Stew, lol!). Then I peeled and sliced up two big parsnips. Next came five redskin potatoes (skin on), quartered and two medium yellow onions, cut in wedges.

I took two pounds of stewing beef I'd thawed the night before, dredged each piece in seasoned flour and seared them in hot oil in my big cast iron frying pan. When I had them all done, I deglazed the pan with 1 1/2 cups of dry red wine and dumped that in the slow cooker. I added two cups of beef stock, two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a couple bay leaves, and two crushed cloves of garlic and then put in the veggies and the meat and added fresh ground pepper. I mixed it all up, and then went out and got a sprig of Rosemary, some fresh thyme and oregano and threw that on top. The inner part of the slow cooker then went into the fridge for the night.

Now for tonight's dinner (it's getting late and I'm getting hungry!). I used my knife to finely chop what was left of that sweet onion (to top my Coney dogs). I put oil in the Dutch oven and heated it to 350 degrees F. I took each onion ring, shook off the buttermilk, dredged it first in regular flour and then in a beer batter (see Comments below) and tossed them in the oil. I watched them closely and when they were golden brown, I took them out with a slotted spoon put them on a rack over paper towels and immediately hit them with salt and grated parmesan cheese.

Once I was done with them, they went into the oven on warm and I grilled the hotdogs (the kind with skins) on the grille pan. I cheated and heated up a can of Hormel chili (no beans). I assembled two Coney dogs, grabbed a handful of onion rings and ate my dinner watching TV.

The phone rang and the caller ID said "Payphone." Huh? So I answered it and it was Luanne, calling from a payphone at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. If you remember, that's how she decided to celebrate turning 50 this year, by riding from the top to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on a mule. Sadie, after some initial skepticism, decided to join her.

She said her mule stumbled and fell to its knees early in the trip down, so it was a bit more exciting that she was hoping for. She said her legs hurt from squeezing the mule's sides and that Sadie's legs hurt because the stirrups were adjusted wrong. I don't remember if she said it was a five-mile or five-hour trip. But, they made it and were celebrating their victory. I congratulated her and we hung up, before I thought to ask, "How do you get back up?" Another mule ride, or is it like canoeing, where you go down the river and they drive you back. I wonder...

Turned off the lights and went to sleep at 10:30.

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My Rustic Beef Stew, ready for all-day cooking

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shout Out!

Happy Birthday, Amy!

Monday, Monday...

I got home after work and decided my original plans of working outside would have to wait. I woke up late this morning and so didn't get a chance to clean the kitchen up after Sunday's dinner mess. Besides, its supposed to be even warmer on Tuesday.

But, I eventually got it clean, just in time to mess it up with tonight's dinner! When I was getting the roast out over the weekend, I found four lamb chops that have been in the freezer since May. So, I put them in the fridge to thaw.

Tonight, I first cut a big acorn squash in half, dug out the seeds and, like my Momma did, put in a big pat of butter and two tablespoons of brown sugar in each cavity. That went into the toaster oven at 375 degrees F. (I'll check in an hour, but I'm thinking an hour and a half).

Next I made a simple marinade for the lamb chops (I stole it from Cat Cora - hey, Greek cooking, lamb? She should know, right?): 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of fresh, minced garlic, a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary, the juice of one lemon, a teaspoon of kosher salt and a 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. A quick whisk and into a baggie it went, followed by the lamb chops.

I'm gonna use my grille pan instead of the outdoor grille tonight. First time in some 7-8 months! But Fall is upon us here in Redford and its time to adjust to cold weather cooking.

Well, I checked after the hour was up (I'm getting hungry!) and the squash was still not done. So, while it was finishing up, I got out the grille pan and oiled it up. I heated it up and when it started smoking I turned on the vent fan and threw on the lamb chops. I cooked them 2 minutes and then turned (NOT flipped) 90 degrees to get those nice grille marks (to be honest, a lamb chop is so small, you probably won't see the grille marks, but you have to stay in practice!) After another two minutes, I did flip them and repeated: two minutes, rotate, two more minutes. Then I put them on the sheet tray and finished them in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for five more minutes (I took the squash out to cool a bit).

Now, I'm sure I could have found a sauce (probably yogurt-based) to top the chops with, but really, they didn't need it. They were fantastic just the way they were. And, the acorn squash brought back childhood memories of Fall.

This time I did clean up the kitchen after myself (no more procrastinating!) I watched TV until 11:00 PM and then went to sleep.

Oh, another Caley observation (I should have noticed this BEFORE Carla got all scratched up Saturday). Not sure if this is just the way she is or she'll still a little spooked living here, but, while she does love to be petted and doesn't mind getting picked up, she needs to SEE you about to do either. If she doesn't notice your hand coming to pet her, or pick her up, she startles and bites and/or claws, then runs away.

Monday, October 29, 2007

photo

The front garden, winterized.

Just another Sunday...

I slept in until 8:00 AM, and woke up to the first frost of the year, in Redford!! Warmed up a cup of coffee and finished up the Blog. I had some bacon I needed to use up (hence the idea of the bacon and cheese deviled eggs yesterday) so I cut it in big chunks and fried it up. I took some out when it was still tender (that's how I like it) for me and fried the rest to crispy, for recipes. I wiped out the pan after saving the grease, and then scrambled some eggs. And, that was breakfast!

Went out and filled the squirrel and bird feeders as well as the suet cage. Chilly when just wearing shorts! Came back in and pulled the roast out of the fridge (I just put the whole ceramic inside of the slow cooker into the fridge last night). I let it warm up to room temp (I was afraid I might break it) and then turned the cooker on warm for eating this afternoon.

At noon, I checked the temperature (remember when I was outside and it was chilly? it was 40 degrees F.) and it's over 50 degrees F. so I think its time to work outside! Now, you may have noticed there was no "showered and shaved" previously mentioned. Why is that? Has the Captain gone mad? or just being disgusting? No, we have freeze warning for tonight, so I need to get all the annual plants in front pulled out and the perennial plants cut down. So, that means playing in the dirt as well as using the weedwacker which means a LOT of dirt and plant vegetation on your hairy legs (if your still wearing shorts), which means you might as well take your shower, later.

So, that's what I spent my Sunday afternoon doing. I took six wheel barrow loads from the front to the back compost pile. I tried to use the weedwacker to cut down the dead tiger lilies, but they kept clogging it up. So, I finally gave up and got out the riding mower and cut them flush (see Photos).

With the plants gone, I sprinkled a good helping of slow-release fertilizer on the gardens and worked it in with my "garden weasel" (this will help the spring bulbs to bloom). I made enough of a mess with the weedwacker to warrant dragging out the hose and washing down the siding. After rolling the hose back up, I went inside and hosed myself off as well (no shaving, but the showering was done!)

It was just after 3:00 PM. I was clean, but tired. So, I turned on the Nascar race (probably only the second or third time this year) because I knew it would put me to sleep and took a nap.

I got up at 5:30 PM, refreshed, and got to work on dinner. I used a slotted spoon to get out all the veggies and meat from the slow cooker and put them on a sheet pan in the oven on "Warm." I finely chopped a medium onion (knife skills, again. God, I am getting good at this!) and saut�ed it in some olive oil and butter. When it was translucent, I dumped in the au jus from the slow cooker. When that came up to a boil, I whisked in some corn starch mixed in cold water and made one of the best gravy's I ever tasted!

So, dinner was more of the roast beef, onions, mushrooms and potatoes, covered in gravy and the carrots, topped with butter and salt. I am embarrassed to say this, but there isn't enough leftovers of that big (when we started) roast to make my roast beef hash! But, I did save the remaining roast beef and all the gravy so I can make (maybe) a single hot roast beef sandwich this week.

Okay, so cleanup? Well it's too close to my Sunday night TV shows, so I got everything rinsed, but that's it. I watched TV until 10:00 PM and then went to bed.

And, that was Sunday, in Redford...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A working Saturday

I woke up several times during the night, but finally got up at 7:00 AM. I forgot to put the timer on for the coffee pot, so I had to wait for that first cup.

Then I started making dinner. What?!? Wouldn't that be breakfast? No, not really, as I'm throwing a roast along with the usual veggies in the slow-cooker.

Nothing special here, although I think I make it just a little different every time. Blade roast has been out on a platter, getting to room temperature after being rubbed on both sides with Montreal steak seasoning. Today I put it together like this: bottom layer was four big carrots, peeled and cut on the bias, four smashed and peeled cloves of garlic and two small/medium yellow onions, peeled and put in whole. Next layer was all Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks. I added a quarter cup of beef broth and fresh ground pepper on top the potatoes.

Then came the roast. All around the edges of the roast, I put fresh, whole button mushrooms (so the steam can come up and cook them). On top the roast went a handful of fresh herbs: oregano, thyme, flat leaf parsely and one stem of rosemary (I've learned the hard way that too much rosemary and you can't taste anything else). Next were several splashes of Worcestershire sauce and a handful of sliced yellow onions. I usually like to put nice big onion rings on top if somebody's coming for dinner. It looks much better on the platter (its all about the presentation, man!) But, today nobody's scheduled and I have the sliced onion left over, so... Finally, two big pats of butter. They will melt down over the roast and eventually get to the au jus on the bottom and make the gravy that much better.

Turned that puppy on low and turned to face the day. So, at 9:00 AM, I shaved, showered, brushed my teeth ready for this morning's errands (did I mention its still raining/drizzling?) Stopped at the library, Westborn Market (to pick up a few things including two rutabagas and lard. I WILL get these pasties right!) and then to Gordon Foods. I got back home almost at noon, unpacked, changed clothes and started to clean.

I had a voicemail from Carla, saying they'd be over around 4:00 PM to visit Caley, so getting the place spiffed up is now a priority! So, first I washed the upstairs bathroom (so it could dry while I was working on other things). Then, I got the living room vacuumed, dusted and the floor mopped with Endust. Next came the office and then the bathroom was dry. So, next I swept the kitchen and the downstairs and then mopped them with Mr. Clean and a bucket of hot water. While that was drying I attacked my bedroom. I was half way done when Jake and Carla came in.

Aaauugghhh! It's not 4:00 PM, its 2:30!!! And, I am so NOT ready! My appetizers are not made up (I was going with bacon and cheese deviled eggs, little smoked sausages in barbeque sauce, large green olives stuffed with Jalapeno peppers, extra sharp Pinconning cheese and Triscuits). Oh well, it is what it is (and, I can eat all that sh*t myself, tomorrow, lol!) Jake had brought me a bottle each of two different beers to try: Newcastle Brown Ale (made in England) and Smithwick's an imported Irish ale.

So, we talked for a while, catching up. At one point, Caley scratched Carla with her back claws, so Jake cleaned the wounds with peroxide and smeared them with Neosporin (needless to say, Carla's p*ssed! There goes my "well, if it doesn't work out, I can always give Caley to Carla" theory.)

They eventually departed, not willing to wait for un-made appetizers or the roast beef dinner (oh, well, all the more for me!). I decided to put the dinner on "Warm" and take a well-deserved nap.

I woke up, disoriented. The alarm clock said 7:30, it was dark and I assumed it was Sunday morning. But, it turned out it was really just Saturday night (I was happy! I still got a lot of "weekend" left!) I got to work on the Blog, but once I was caught up, I went back to finish with cleaning my bedroom (dusting everything and then the mop, sprayed with Endust).

So, now its 9:00 PM and I am eating dinner. I didn't bother with making gravy (that can come tomorrow), but, after 12 hours in the slow cooker, the roast beef melts in your mouth! The potatoes, mushroom and carrots are perfectly seasoned (I am impressed with myself for not adding extra salt). The leftovers (a lot!) went into the fridge for Sunday dinner and I went off to watch TV.

I tried Jake's beer with the last hunter's sausage. I think I like the Newcastle better. The Smithwick's tasted a bit like Guinness Draught, but not enough. Because of my nap, I didn't get sleepy until after midnight.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Quote of the Day (hell, Quote of the Week!)

"An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do."

~ Dylan Thomas

I just noticed...

In today's Birthdays are two of my favorites; Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath!

Stopped mid-house cleaning...

... and snapped some pictures of Caley. I posted the two best...

photo

Caley, View II

photo

Caley, at Rest

Rainy Days and Fridays...

It rained or drizzled all day long here. So, when I got home, working outside was out!

I went back to the original Thursday plan of goofing off all night. Well, not totally. I did do two loads of laundry so I'd have that out of the way on the weekend.

Dinner was lazy, too. I took a head of cauliflower and broke it down into florets, then steamed them all. I ate most of them, topped with butter and salt.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mulching Man!

I really had planned on goofing off tonight. I was gonna come home, change clothes and just chill. But, as my friend B___ reminded me, its supposed to rain both Friday and Saturday so tonight's the last night for outside work for a while.

Once home, I returned my new doctor's phone call and she said the blood work results were great! The only result not back yet is my testosterone level and if there's a problem with that, she'll call. But, I think judging on my behavior whenever I get a young, cute waitress, that's not going to be an issue!

So, I gassed up the mower and went out to mulch leaves. Looking at my trees, I'd say about 25% of the leaves have fallen so far, so this is just the first effort. I did the back yard first, then the front side and finally the front itself. I finished up in the twilight and got back in the house at just before 7:00 PM (I'm thinking the Daylight Savings changeover this weekend will put an end to any working outside during the week!).

Dinner was two bacon-wrapped burgers warmed up in the microwave, and then put on buns with mayo and yellow mustard, along with three dill pickles.

My daughter Melissa called late in the evening (Dave was watching the World Series and I think she was bored.) So, I got caught up on everything that's been going on. But, I didn't get to bed until really late and I overslept after shutting off the alarm!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Working Wednesday

When I got home, first thing I did before changing clothes was to go out and refill the squirrel and bird feeders. Then I went back inside and got to work (no relaxing evening tonight!)

I removed Newt's filter and replaced the cartridge after giving it a thorough cleaning. I refilled his water and he's good to go again. BTW, Scruffy was sleeping on my bed when I got home and stayed there all throughout the Newt cleaning. Caley was in the office and then came out in the kitchen.

That accomplished, I went out in the garage and worked on straightening my workbenches. I came back inside and was surprised to see it was already 7:30 PM!

I warmed up the second pastie for my dinner and ate it watching TV. Scruffy still was lying at foot of the bed and Caley eventually got brave enough to jump on the head of the bed. However, she couldn't relax and would occasionally hiss or yowl that weird sound. I was amazed, but Scruffy totally ignored her. I went to bed at 11:00 PM. When I got up during the night for a trip to the bathroom, neither cat was in the room.

Song Lyrics I Like

(the chorus of) Last Request

~ Paolo Nutini

Grant my last request and just let me hold you, don't shrug your shoulders
Lay down beside me
Sure I can accept that we're going nowhere
But one last time let's go there
Lay down beside me, ohhh

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday's Trip

Today is my annual checkup at my family physician, Dr. McClellan. However, as I believe I had previously mentioned in the Blog, this will be a bit unusual, as Dr. McClellan is retiring and turning his practice over to a female doctor, Doctor Pop. I have already decided that if I liked her I will stay here, but if not, I'll find a closer doctor (which would make more sense, really!)

So, I left work at 2:00 PM and began the long trek back up to Richmond. I knew that I-94 was down to two lanes for construction from like Harper to 23 Mile Road (some 8-10 miles) but what I didn't know is that is was also only two lanes from when I got on it from I-96 to Connors. Not good. Slow going! I had added in an extra half hour for construction, but now I hope that was enough.

I got to the doctor's office at 3:20 for my 3:30 appointment. Whew! Dr. McClellan introduced us and chatted for a bit, but then left her alone to do the exam. She was a very pleasant, competent-sounding, attractive woman in her mid-forties (but I'm always bad at guessing women's ages). She asked if I was German and I said, yes, I am a first generation son of a German emigrant. She sounded a bit like my Aunt Meize, so I asked if she was German as well. She said, no, she was Rumanian. I said, "Well, it's not German, but it's pretty good!" She just smiled, but Dr. McClellan almost hurt himself laughing.

So, I got even more blood drawn (the lab forgot to do the Hemoglobin A1C test), a flu shot (which cost me $44 instead of the $25 I could have paid at CVS, but I never asked the price) and EKG (passed with flying colors). However, the EKG machine was having a problem finding all the leads. After about 10 minutes, I suggested that maybe I was dead. Finally, in desperation (or maybe to get back at me about the "I'm dead" crack), the nurse dry-shaved several spots on my chest. Ouch! Well, there goes my social life for a while (wait a minute, I don't have a social life, lol!)

After reading and reporting on the EKG, the Doctor got back to work. She said my heart, lungs and carotid arteries all sounded great. The blood work I had done earlier was all within limits, but she did adjust two of my meds, one to get my bad cholesterol a little lower and the other to get my fasting sugar level down even more. We agreed to meet in three months to see if the medication modification did any good. She suggested I try and lose a little weight and then we parted. I think I have a new doctor.

On the way out I talked a bit more with McClellan and asked him if he was going to do anything special in retirement. He said he wasn't really retiring, he would still be teaching, just cutting back some. He figures he has about one year's worth of work, cleaning out the basement, one year cleaning out the garage and another year to clean up his barn. He said he has a sailboat in the barn that hasn't been in the water for three years, and he'd like to get back to that. He used to like upland game bird hunting and might try that again and even though it's been years since he last went, he might try deer hunting again. I wished him well and got back in the car, heading for home. Well, not directly. I went to the Smoke House and got four pounds of hunter's sausage. No way am I gonna drive this far and not go seven miles farther for hunter's sausage!

So, now my goal is not to get to my appointment on time, but to get home before dark (sun sets at 6:40 PM these days). I changed my route, now knowing the constructions zones. I still have to go through the first one, but this time I get on I-696 and take that to Telegraph, then home. I was home by 6:20 PM.

I'm hungry, but don't feel like cooking. Checking out the fridge, I decided dinner tonight will be mostly leftovers: the last (may I say, perfectly seared) pork chop from Saturday's god-awful dinner, the last of the baked butternut squash and, as a new side, some wide egg noodles, with butter and herbs on them. Excellent!

Jake had researched bringing a new cat into a home with an existing cat and found two interesting things. It can take two or three weeks for all the hissing, yowling and hostilities to calm down. And, you are supposed to pay much more attention to the old cat as you do to the new one (I have been doing the reverse, thinking it was important to get Caley used to me and the house). So, tonight, I ignored Caley except for a quick hello, picked up Scruffy and put him on the bed with me when I went to watch TV and petted him for over an hour. At first he tried to escape (smelling Caley, I suppose) but he eventually laid next to me without me touching him, until he finally got up and went into the back room (kitty litter box, I'd guess).

After his departure, Caley jumped up, curled up and went to sleep. And, so did I at 10:00 PM.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Moving on Monday!

So, today's supposed to be the last of the summer-like weather. A cold front moving in tonight will bring rain and drop the temperature 20 degrees F. (back to where they should be this time of the year.

With that in mind, I quickly changed clothes and went outside. I drained the reflecting pool after taking out the water lily. Then I covered it with a board wrapped in plastic and put rocks on top of that. Next, I went way in back and pulled out the two tomato plants, put them on the compost heap and cleaned up the fallen tomatoes. Walking back to the house, I picked up as many fallen branches as I could.

Back inside, it was now 6:30 PM and I am hungry. I was going to make this dish over the weekend, but never got to it, but tonight I'm making a Pastie (pronounced "Pass-tee").

Made originally as a meal for the miners of Cornwall, England, Pasties date back about 800 years. Wives would bake meat and vegetables in a crust and wrap it in many layers of linens or newspapers for their husband's lunch. It provided a warm and filling meal in the cold, damp mines. Pasties arrived in Michigan over 150 years ago with immigrants who came to work in the iron and copper mines in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Pastie provided a hot and nutritious meal that had good holding capacity and could be eaten anywhere. This full-bodied flavor soon became a favorite with locals and visitors alike. A trip to Northern Michigan is not complete without a Pastie.

Now, I was first introduced to them by Mrs. Gauthier, who lived across the road when I was growing up. The family had come from the Upper Peninsula, which is where she learned to make them. Her's were huge, golden pies, filled with potatoes, onions, cubed round steak and another vegetable I can't remember. However, the recipe I found came from Cornwall and there is no other vegetable mentioned.

So, first I made the dough and rolled it out to two 10 inch circles (well, I say "circles" but, because I so infrequently bake, I'm not so good at rolling "circles" and they looked more like "amoebas"). Then I thin sliced two potatoes and a medium onion and layered them half way across the circle, leaving about an inch of dough showing at the edges. I added salt, pepper and dried parsley on top of them. Next, I took half a round steak, cut it into cubes and piled it on top. I pulled the other half of the dough over top, crimped the edges and cut three slits in the top.

They went on a greased cookie sheet and into a 400 degree F. oven for 45 minutes. Then, I turned the oven down to 325 degrees F., poured a teaspoon of water in each slit and put them back in for 15 minutes more.

Okay, so they weren't pretty, not by a long shot, but the one I ate was good (Oh, it was good!) but they didn't taste like Mrs. Gauthier's. And, I can't help but think it was that missing vegetable. I know it WASN"T carrots (even though the ones you get up north have carrots in them now). It was something odd, either parsnips or rutabagas. If anybody knows, let me know, please.

So, I cleaned up the mess (not too bad except for the flour), loaded the dishwasher and went to watch TV. How are the cats doing? Well, Caley is walking around the house a lot more freely. But, whenever she and Scruffy come across each other, there is a lot of hissing and ungodly high-pitched growling from both of them, then they back off, stiff-legged. Poor Scruffy has been sleeping in the living room instead of on my bed (Caley's staked that out as hers). So, last night, I did sit in the living room with him on my lap and petted him for a good 20 minutes talking to him, so he won't feel too neglected.

Oh, I posted the poem I finished this week (the one that started with a phrase). It's called Old Timer's Lament. Went to sleep at 10:00 PM.

Old Timer's Lament

The best thing about this morning
is I woke up without dirt on my face.
My hands do a quick inventory
Yep, all my parts seem to be in place.

A cup of coffee to chase the cobwebs,
I woke with less hangover than I earned.
Quick check of e- and voicemail
(comes from hard lessons, learned).

The monsters have all retreated,
Back in their boxes went the jacks.
I'm left with a single observation:
Skaters only find thin ice when it cracks.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday

We broke a record for high temperature yesterday. It was 81 degrees F. (27 degrees C.) Amazing!

No too much to say about today. Kinda laid back. I didn't make a Sunday meal, just ate leftovers. I got the cat out from under the couch and talked to her again. I put her on the bed and was petting her, but when I stopped she jumped down and went under the bed. Geesh!

So, I went outside and worked in the back yard, pulling out dead plants and filling up the wheelbarrow. When it was full, I dumped it in the compost pile. But, that got old fast, so I went back inside and took a nap. When I woke up, the cat was next to me, sleeping. For the rest of the day, she would alternate between walking around and getting up on the bed if I was there. So, I guess she's adjusting.

At one point, Scruffy jumped up on the bed and they were face-to-face. Both hissed evilly at each other and then both jumped down, Calley went under the bed, Scruffy went out to the living room

I eventually watched my Sunday night shows and went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Shout out!

Happy Birthday Melissa!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Song Lyrics I Like:

YOUR BRIGHT BABY BLUES

I'm sitting down by the highway
Down by that highway side
Everybody's going somewhere
Riding just as fast as they can ride
I guess they've got a lot to do
Before they can rest assured
Their lives are justified
Pray to god for me baby
He can let me slide

'cause I've been up and down this highway
Far as my eyes can see
No matter how fast i run
I can never seem to get away from me
No matter where i am
I can't help feeling I'm just a day away
From where i want to be
Now I'm running home baby
Like a river to the sea

Baby if you can see me
Out across this wilderness
There's just one thing
I was hoping you might guess
Baby you can free me
All in the power of your sweet tenderness

I can see it in your eyes
You've got those bright baby blues
You don't see what you've got to gain
But you don't like to lose
You watch yourself from the sidelines
Like your life is a game you don't mind playing
To keep yourself amused
I don't mean to be cruel baby
But you're looking confused

Baby if you can hear me
Turn down your radio
There's just one thing
I want you to know
When you've been near me
I've felt the love stirring in my soul

It's so hard to come by
That feeling of peace
This friend of mine said
"close your eyes, and try a few of these"
I thought I was flying like a bird
So far above my sorrow
But when I looked down
I was standing on my knees
Now I need someone to help me
Someone to help me please

Baby if you need me
Like I know I need you
There's just one thing
I'll ask you to do
Take my hand and lead me
To the hole in your garden wall
And pull me through.

~ Jackson Browne

Why you shouldn't trust Yahoo and other tales

So, I woke up at 6:30 AM, shaved and jumped in the shower. Lots of things to do today! I have to pick up the cat in Monroe (about an hour away) at 10:00 AM and I want to do my grocery shopping first, so I don't have to leave the two cats alone too long.

So, I got dressed, grabbed the shopping list and headed to Meijer's around 7:30. Damn! I couldn't get all the things on the list. Even though Meijer's is technically open 24/7, some departments like the butcher and the baker (not sure about the candlestick makers) are not open that early. So, I could not get my 1 pound baguette. Also, although they've carried them since I moved here, I couldn't find any fresh herbs. So, no cilantro!

Got home in time to unpack and put away the groceries and then it was time to leave. I had told the lady I didn't need directions as I got them off of yahoo maps. The route was Telegraph south to I-75, etc. So, first problem? They are doing road work on Telegraph and it's down to two lanes for like the next 20 miles! No problem, I'm still a little early and traffic is still moving. Next problem? I get to I-75 and there's a big sign "Ramp to Southbound I-75 is closed. Follow detour." "Yikes!" (Yes, I actually said, "Yikes!") So, I follow the detour signs. They are taking me down Telegraph, still down Telegraph, more Telegraph until finally I get to I-275. I get on that which takes me immediately to I-75 and, in less than 1/4 mile, there's my exit!

Okay, back on track, I follow directions and end up (you probably guessed it) back on Telegraph! I get off on Stewart and am within 5 miles, (so close I can taste it!) I measure the 2.1 miles exactly but there's no Bates lane. I stop and ask an old guy out walking and he tells me I'm about like 5 miles from Bates Lane. So, I give in and call Monica, the lady who has the cat (thank God for cell phones and me thinking to take her number). She asks me where I am and I look at the sign. It says like Nutbush and Franklin. Huh? What happened to Stewart, the road I was on and never left? She says you remember the road you passed with all the barricades and that was all tore up? I said sure, it was a mess. She said well, you have to turn left on that to keep being on Stewart. Sigh. Like I'm supposed to know the name of the street eventually changes? Or, would try and drive down a road that's barricaded off and all torn up?

Anyway, she gave me direction complicated enough to get lost once more, call her to re-group and then eventually find her house. By the way, I did get to see whole lot of Monroe and, the river is quite pretty, the park is good, a lot of nice houses, and close by, a lot of farmland. Not bad.

The cat wanted no part of getting in the cat carrier, but eventually she got her in. Monica also gave me the rest of her food (she didn't remember the name, but will tell her daughter to tell Carla next week) her kitty litter box and the name of the cat's vet so my vet can get her records. She said her oldest granddaughter (the one not allergic - that's the younger one) was very, VERY upset at the cat's leaving. So, Monica asked me please to take a photo of her, relaxed and happy in my home, give it to Carla to give to her daughter to give to her granddaughter, so she won't worry. I said sure.

So, on the way back, I gave up on Yahoo, took Telegraph north to I-275, (I was paying attention) took it all the way back to I-96 and got home, about an hour later.

Now we transition to introducing Calley to my home. BTW, I am thinking of renaming her Kitty Carlisle (Carlisle for short) but we'll see. During the drive back, I had the cat carrier arranged so she could see me and I talked to her, damn near non-stop, so she would get used to my face and voice. Once home and inside, I took her in the downstairs room and shut the door (saving the Scruffy introduction for, perhaps, a less stressful time). She did not want to get out of the cat carrier, but I gently removed her, assuring her that I would leave it right there with the bath towel in it if that was where she wanted to sleep or just go to chill. Holding her in my arms and talking to her in a soothing voice, I showed her where her cat food and water were, and the location of her very own litter box, filled with fresh kitty litter. In summation, I was like a freakin' Cat Whisperer! I thought I was so cool they should make a movie about me! I took over an hour out of my already too-short life talking to this cat so she would fear not and be happy moving here.

Then came the moment of truth. I told her I was going to let her down and she could stretch her legs, and then I would introduce her to Scruffy. Her feet touched the floor; she took off like a shot and ran, then dived behind the washer. I had a brilliant plan and brought Scruffy down to show her to him and maybe draw her out (he didn't notice her; she didn't care). I called her sweetly, offering her treats. No change. Well, a little change, she moved from behind the washer to behind the dryer and back, right in the corner. I think it will scare the bejeebbers out of her if I pull out the dryer and grab her. So, I'm leaving her alone, hoping for the best.

(Note to self and Carla, co-owner of Calley, nee Kitty Carlisle, this didn't go so well.)

My daughter, M________ called (I was hoping she would!) All of Dave's kids managed to get down and help them move in to their new digs in North Carolina. Her biggest adjustment so far? Same as Jake and I noted years ago. The checkout people in the South tend to "talk" to you (Oh, that's a pretty blouse! It will look good on you. Did you notice the beige one on the rack? That may be something you'd want to pick up, what with your hair color.) Michigan folks are much more in a hurry and find this is really annoying (especially if you are three people back in line, in a hurry and have to listen to somebody's grandkid's story!) She'll learn and adjust, though. It's just us occasional visitors that get driven crazy by this.

Anyway, I have guests coming and appetizers to make so I ran over to Westborn for the baguette and the cilantro. Back home, I slammed charcoal into the grille and lit it up. Since I am going to be using the grille for the Jamaican Jerked Chicken Wings anyway (no way am I gonna make that mess on my broiler pan again), I figure I can make some burgers for the coming week. Now you know me by now and know I like my burgers to be straight-forward: ground chuck, hit with the house seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder) brought to room temp and then grilled medium-rare. But, I saw this recipe (Note to self: How many times have you gone a bit "wide" and it all started with "I saw this recipe"?) and decided to try it.

But, I moved forward, anyway. I mixed 2 pounds of ground chuck with a cup of shredded Cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan (in the green can), a medium onion, chopped, 2 eggs, two tablespoons each of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. I used the peanut butter lid and saran wrap trick to make them into 1/4 pound burgers. Then (as if hamburgers weren't bad enough for you) I wrapped one piece of bacon around each patty's side and secured it with a toothpick. These went on the grille for four minutes a side. These are much more "wet" and sloppy than just straight ground chuck, BTW. So far, I'm not impressed. When they were done, I pulled them off onto to a platter and then in the microwave to cool down and I can deal with them later.

Next I put on the chicken wings, turning them every 5 minutes for a total cook time of 20 minutes. Damn, they look good! Back inside, I shelled and de-veined a pound of "wild-caught" shrimp (Right there in your �touff�e, baby!). I saved the shells for seafood broth, later. I threw them into a hot skillet with two tablespoons of butter and four cloves of garlic. After three minutes, I added a half cup of tequila and let them cook another three minutes.

By this time, Jake and Carla had arrived, so Carla fine chopped the cilantro and added it to the shrimp while I made a seafood sauce (ketchup and horseradish). So, appetizers are ready.

We, of course, talked about the new cat and all decided it would be better to leave her alone for a while. So, while we talked and munched on the Jamaican Jerked Chicken Wings and Tequila shrimp, we started dinner.

Okay, so this sounded fantastic: Pork chops baked on top of a mushroom bread pudding. So, as I cut up the one pound baguette into 3/4 inch pieces, Carla sliced up the mushrooms and garlic and saut�ed them, while Jake took the one-inch thick center cut boneless chops and seared them. I buttered a baking pan and we added the bread cubes, mushrooms and garlic and beaten eggs with dried thyme, and the pork chops on top and baked it. I was going to steam some sweet corn, but Carla wanted the cauliflower and cheese, so we went with that.

Result? (Remember this sounded fantastic!) BORING!

Yes, I was embarrassed. I have since tried to imagine extra ingredients that might have made a difference: Maybe a saut�ed onion in the bread pudding? I dunno. Jake and Carla might correct me, but I thought it really was dull. But, we ate it, anyway.

After-dinner activities, which were supposed t be playing cards, turned to be attending to the new kitty. Jake dug her out of behind the dryer and Carla held her and talked to her for an hour or so. Result, she went and hid under the couch (a step up from the dryer, I suppose). We did go out on the patio for Carla to have a cigarette, which allowed me to light up a fire in the Chimminea (fall is the perfect time for bonfires and/or Chimminea's)

So, Jake and Carla left. I had the odd thought I could coax Calley out from under the couch by talking to her (still in this weird Cat Whisperer mode), so I sat on the couch and talked, until I fell asleep. I woke up and it was after 3:00 am. Gave up on the cat, cursed my sore back, (and the cat a little), got up and went to bed.

Late Night Observation/Word of the Day

My brother Joe has a fantastic memory. Like, total recall. He told me he remembers (and I believe him) getting in the car with my Dad to go and pick me and my Mom up from the hospital when I was born (and, he would have been two years old!)

My own memory is not so good. I think I remember things perfectly, but both my ex-wives would happily correct me whenever I tried to tell a story about something "back in the day." I can sometimes remember an event that happened 40 years ago with crystal clarity, but not the name of someone I was introduced to, say, yesterday. Names, in fact, seem to be a particular problem. I will puzzle over them for days and then, when I quit, they pop into my head. This, these days, is worrisome. Am I just getting old or getting Alzheimer's?

But, I finally decided, my memory is neither good nor bad, just capricious.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Blustery Friday

Wicked storms and tornadoes tore through the middle of Michigan Thursday night until Friday morning. Homes were destroyed, electricity went out and five people (I think) actually died. But, thank God, none of them touched Redford. In fact, when I checked the rain gauge Friday morning, there was only a trace of moisture in it. But, the passing of the cold front did leave something behind: wind! As Pooh would say, it was a blustery day!

Naturally, when I got home this time I almost filled the bucket with downed black walnuts. I also picked up small branches from the front yard (I would have patrolled the back yard, too, but it started raining.

Once inside, with clothes changed, I started my weekend by cleaning up the mess from Thursday's fried chicken (I was gonna do it in the morning, but I overslept a tad). I treated the bedspread with some "Shout" and threw it in the wash machine (I got some grease on it last night but didn't notice it until this afternoon).

I have given this a lot of thought. In one respect, the death of Mouse the cat (don't ask) was just another milestone in the simplification of my life as I grow older. But, on the other hand, perhaps I am being selfish.

Why? Because without any other stimulation, Scruffy (although some 15 years old and deserving it) has turned into a cat who mostly sleeps all day and night. I was made aware of the change in him when my friend Tracey would bring her little dog Samson over. Scruffy would beat the snot out of him and for the next several days was very noticeably more animated. But, Tracey's working 60-80 hours a week and hasn't been here in months.

So, when a co-worker of Carla's mentioned her mother had a two year old female cat that they couldn't keep (their granddaughter has allergies) I thought about it long and hard. On the one hand, I really don't want another pet. On the other, Scruffy could really use a friend. So, tonight I called the number and agree to pick up the cat Saturday morning at 10:00 AM. I am a little worried about Scruffy's reaction but am convinced this will be ultimately good for him (although maybe not for the new cat). Neither one has front claws, but trust me, Scruffy can bat you hard enough to hurt (I know this well). I still remember him slapping Samson in the kitchen door and the poor dog sliding across the living room floor and landing into the hallway. Of course, some of it was due to the high gloss sheen I put on the floor, lol!

Jake and Carla are coming over tomorrow afternoon for some cards and cooking. I told Carla I had a new recipe I wanted to try, but didn't tell her what it was. So, it's a bit like Iron Chef America. I know the secret ingredient and they have to cook it. But, I should make some appetizers so I thawed out a bag of good-sized shrimp and the rest of the chicken wings. The chicken wings went into a baggie with my Jamaican Jerk marinade and the shrimp I'll turn into Tequila Shrimp just before they get here.

I warmed up the last catfish fillet and the two remaining baked potatoes for my dinner. I watched TV until 10:00 PM, when I started writing some of this. Now I'm going to go read until sleep overtakes me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thursday

I got home and got my bucket, yet again. The wind from the morning rain storm brought down a lot of walnuts, but there are still more up there!

I'd thawed out a package of 10 chicken legs, so first thing I did (even before changing clothes) was to put them in a bowl and cover them with buttermilk. The bowl went in the fridge and I went in to change.

I needed to kill an hour waiting on the chicken, but that turned out to be no problem as Luanne called. We talked about her goats, Mom's party and her upcoming trip. She and Sadie are leaving next weekend for Arizona, where they plan on celebrating Lu's turning 50 this year by riding down into the Grand Canyon on mules. I would have picked the Caribbean and a swim-up bar, but to each his (or her) own.

On to the chicken! Did the usual (hey, I like it, okay?) and scrambled three eggs with enough hot sauce to make it orange. That went in one bowl. The next bowl had flour and fresh ground pepper. I put peanut oil half way up in the cast iron Dutch oven, added a thermometer and got the oil to 350 degree F. So my mes en plas is all set.

I took the chicken out of the buttermilk and patted it dry, then seasoned it with the house seasoning. Then, three pieces at a time (well, four the last time) the chicken went into the egg mixture, into the flour and into the oil. 14 minutes later, they came out and went on a rack placed over paper towels, sitting in a cookie sheet.

I left the mess and took my treasures into the bedroom where I ate and watched TV until bedtime. Well, I didn't eat until bedtime, actually. I only ate until three pieces were gone.

Quote of the Day

"We shouldn't say bad things about illiterate people, we should write about them."

~ Author Unknown

Back in High School...

...I was voted "Most Likely to Die Alone and Depressed on Thanksgiving"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wednesday Night

I did another round of the walnut tree with my bucket when I got home. Its warmer (almost 70 degrees F.) and dry. Oh, I forgot to tell you I didn't call my County Extension office about my "diseased" tree. Tuesday, I took a random sampling and smashed open 5 walnuts with a hammer on the garage floor. NONE of them had worms, just normal nut meat. I kinda wish these were easier to extract, as I could make something out of them.

Since its warm out, I thought I'd get a little more of the Fall outside "winter-prep" work done. So, I brought in all the statues (after brushing off the dirt and bugs and leaves and put them in the downstairs room to dry out (See photos). I left the rain gauge, the bird bath and the chiminea out (I hope to still get some use out of all of these before real winter sets in). Then I removed and drained the two hoses way in the back, using a trick Leon showed me thirty years ago on his ranch, and coiled them up. Then I filled the bird and squirrel feeders, along with the suet cage and came inside for the night.

I started my mid-week load of laundry and got to work on dinner. I had thawed out the last remaining jar of the Italian sausage and tomato sauce, and began warming it up, while cooking some rotini. It was tri-color rotini by Barilla that I obviously bought for a summer pasta salad, but never used. I put it all together and had a quick, but tasty dinner.

I watched some taped TV shows and went to bed early.

A Poem's First Fragment

"Skaters never find the thin ice until it cracks"

See there, I am now letting you into my most private world. Most of my poems start with a phrase that pops into my head and stays there until I build a poem around it.

The rest start with a theme, say bored, old-moneyed rich people on a train like in my poem "Speed of Light - Revisited" (see Poetry) that I expand on.

But, tonight, I only have the phrase "Skaters never find the thin ice until it cracks" to gnaw on...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

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Another shot of the statues, in for the season.

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My guys, drying out before winter storage.

Tired Tuesday

I'm not sure why but I was tired and achy all day. Maybe it was the rain and gloomy skies...

Got home and picked up fallen walnuts in the drizzle. Changed clothes and thought about starting a job or two, but changed my mind and read in the living room in my recliner for an hour or so. Then got up and made dinner.

Going for simple tonight, so dipped catfish filets in an egg and buttermilk mixture, then some seasoned yellow corn meal and fried them golden. Meanwhile, I made some Uncle Ben's Wild Rice. Ate the catfish with hot sauce.

Decided I was being lazy and took one package of celery and cut it up to practice my knife skills. I'm starting to get the hang of it! I labeled the baggie and stuck it in the freezer for winter soups.

Watched taped TV and went to bed around 9:30 PM.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

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Old, lightweight umbrella stroller (though I don't remember the canopy)

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New-fangled baby transportation system

Monday's meal

When I got home Monday, I grabbed a bucket and picked up all the black walnuts that had fallen overnight. There are not a lot of them left on the tree, but enough that this preventative maintenance will be required until they are all down.

I changed clothes and started on a project I thought of over the weekend. It's almost time for our yearly order of meat to come in, and there is still a lot of meat left in the freezer. So, I took it out, put it in a laundry basket and sorted it out. Then I marked all the packages with a big '06 in black magic marker (the date is on each label, but not very noticeable). Then I packed my half into my refrigerator freezer (it took up about 1/3 of the space) and with some careful rearranging, got everything I took out back in. The other half (Jake and Carla's) I put in two Westborn bags and back in the chest freezer so they can grab them next time they are here. Other than a LOT of frozen fish (tilapia, cod, salmon, etc.) I've bought on sale but haven't yet used, the chest freezer is ready for the new batch.

What brought this all up was I grabbed a steak out of the chest freezer Sunday night to thaw for tonight's dinner. So, with that chore out of the way, I took out the steak, dusted it with Montreal Steak seasoning and let it sit out to warm to room temperature. Now, I know you haven't asked, but I'll tell you anyway: the reason that you let meat come to room temperature is that when it's cold and you throw it on the grille or in a hot pan, the cold creates steam which gives the meat a grey cast. So, if you want that nice golden-brown sear, it needs to be room temperature!

Next, I started the charcoal and prepared the potatoes. I took four medium-sized russet potatoes and cut them almost through every � inch (still practicing those knife skills, lol!). Then I slathered them with butter, making sure the butter got into the cracks and then seasoned them heavily with the house seasoning (there's something about the taste of garlic and potatoes I really like). I wrapped each up in tinfoil and, when the coals were ready, laid them directly on the coals, shut the lid and went and did other things for 45 minutes.

When the timer went off, I drizzled both sides of the steak with olive oil and cut two fresh stems of rosemary. This is a nice thick (maybe 1 inch) steak, so I put it on to sear for two minutes, then flipped it over and laid the rosemary on top. I grilled the second side for 6 minutes, removed the rosemary, then flipped it back and put the rosemary on that side. I let the first side cook 4 minutes more, then pulled it off, discarded the rosemary, covered the steak with tinfoil and let it rest. Then I pulled the potatoes out of the fire.

Oh, forgot to mention, while I was cooking, Robert yelled over to ask if I was making more ribs. I said not tonight. He said, "Man those were good. Why you always be grilling, anyway?" I said, "One, I like the taste and two, I'm making a mess out here, not in my kitchen." He laughed.

Anyway, I ate the steak and one of the potatoes (the other three went into the fridge for another time). I cut the potato the opposite way, opened it up a bit, added a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh snipped chives. Most excellent!

I watched TV until 10:00 PM, and then went to bed.

Late Night Observation...

What the heck happened to baby strollers?

When my kids were small, a baby stroller (it had a specific name that I have since forgotten) looked like a two handled umbrella. It opened up with thin aluminum pieces running down to four double wheels and a cheap, flexible plastic seat. It had a mickey mouse, half inch seat belt strap that, while it wouldn't save your baby if you hit a crack or went off the curb, it would hold them in place long enough so they would land face down on the concrete.

But, I have noticed these days, strollers are now these HUGE elaborate "systems" about four feet long, some of which you can remove the "pod" the baby is in and take them into a restaurant, or use it as a car seat.

Women of America, be warned! This is just a trick by the auto makers to force you to buy the gas guzzling SUVs! These and minivans are the only vehicles large enough to transport these strollers!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday

Woke up at 7:00 with a slightly aching back. I made a pot of coffee and started working on the Blog. It was a long post and took more time than usual.

I took the soup out of the fridge and warmed it back up. I noticed when I got the coffee out I had half a bag of organic rigatoni, so once it was back to a boil, I added that. Then I added a handful of frozen green peas and about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce (to try and bring out the beef taste). Tried it and yes, that's just about perfect!

I got an email from Amy, letting me know that Melissa and Dave made it okay to North Carolina (thanks, Amy. I was wondering.)

Cleaned up the kitchen and cleaned up myself. I noticed it was almost noon, so I had a bowl of soup for breakfast/lunch. I froze the rest in three separate containers for quick meals this winter.

Made a quick trip to CVS to pick up one of my prescriptions. When I got back, I went back to the mess in the driveway. I hauled six more wheel barrows full of black walnut and leaves to the vacant lot next door. Why? In case the squirrels get hungry this winter, I'll have nuts for them.

Once the driveway was cleaned up, I had intended to pull out all the flowers in the front gardens and get the garden ready for winter, but they still look pretty good, so I'll leave them alone until the frost kills them, I guess (see photos).

So, moving right along, I got out the lawn mower and cut the front grass. Before starting on the back lawn, I took the blower and cleaned off the driveway. I posted some before and after pictures for you.

Now the back lawn. The mower is throwing up dust again, so much so my neighbor flagged me down and asked if I could cut the grass and have the discharge chute pointing AWAY from his yard. His dogs run up and down the fence line, barking, as I pass and he's worried a stick or something might hit them. Seems to me it would be easier to put the dogs in the house until I finish, but in the interest of being a good neighbor, I turned around and cut the grass the other way. I finished up and used the blower to get all the dust and grass off the mower before putting it in the garage. Then I went inside and took another shower to get the dust off of me!

So, cleaned off, it seemed like the perfect time for a nap! I woke up in an hour or so and started dinner. After cutting off the ends, I parboiled the rest of the fresh green beans for 10 minutes. Then I drizzled olive oil and red wine vinegar on them and tossed them with some minced garlic cloves. I put them in a baking dish and set them aside.

I split the butternut squash in half, cleaned out the seeds and put two tablespoons of butter and fresh herbs (oregano, fennel, thyme and rosemary) into each cavity. I popped them in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour, adding in the green beans to roast for the last 15 minutes.

I started the charcoal in the grille and came in to make a glaze for the ham steak I thawed out earlier. I used 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of bourbon and a tablespoon of soy sauce, whisked it together and added 3 cloves of garlic, minced. When the grille was ready and the squash was almost done, I grilled the ham steak, liberally applying the glaze.

When it was finished, I took it inside to rest while I mashed the squash up. Put everything together and had a very satisfying Sunday dinner!

I watched my usual Sunday night shows, but fell asleep around 9:30 PM.

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Should I rip these out? I think not...

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The front flowers still look too good to remove!

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A winter buffet for the squirrels

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The driveway, with the black walnuts and debris in piles

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The driveway, after raking, scooping and blowing off.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Something to think about on cold mornings...

No snow is falling
Yet I am cold
Where is the sun hiding?
Why does the wind cry out?
Winter is stalking us.
We cannot outrun it

~Iroquois Ritual

Saturday cuttin'

I woke up at 7:30 AM and had to hustle a tad. I have another Williams-Sonoma cooking class this morning at 9:00 AM. I got to the mall about 20 minutes early and was astonished at how many people are in there, walking before the mall opens. Amazing! I talked with one guy and asked him how they compute mileage and he said if you walk the entire, exact perimeter of the mall, 1 and � times around equals 1 mile.

Anyway, this class is on knife skills. I actually learned a LOT of things I didn't know, too many to go into here (hey, take the damn class yourself, okay?) She spent about an hour talking: parts of a knife, types of knives, using the steel, which knife to use for what, European versus Asian (the difference is mainly in the angle of the blade: 22 degrees for European, so it can cut through the tough meat and bone Europeans eat, versus 16 degrees for Asian, mainly used on softer seafood and perfect for fine slicing, like stir fry), and the current fusion between knife makers. For example, the Wustoff chef knife Carla bought me years ago is a Santoku style, so, that means that even though it was made by a renowned German knife maker, it has the classic Asian 16 degree angle blade. Something good to know before you go and have it sharpened!

For the next 1/2 hour, she demonstrated cutting things up: like how to dice an onion and how to mince it or slice it, cutting up a green pepper, a Jalapeno pepper, a carrot, well, you get the idea.

But, I will share a tip I thought was fascinating: She used a tomato knife to cut a plum (or Italian) tomato in half and put the cut sides down on her cutting board. She then took her chef knife and cut it down the middle. She said that was a good test of how sharp your knife is: if it slices cleanly through the tomato, its fine, but if it "pushes" through the tomato, it needs to be sharpened. I tried it after my nap once I got home and the Shun chef knife? Like butter, baby! The Wustoff? Not so good! Time to get it sharpened. But, the good thing? She had business cards from a firm in Novi that sharpens knives!

I also learned that my Wustoff, being Santoku style, is not made for the "keep the point on the cutting board and rock up and down" "chef knife" style of cutting (although that's how I've used it since I got it). The Santoku is almost flat from the heel of the blade to the tip, where a chef knife curves upwards (to allow for the rocking motion). See Photos. You're supposed to quickly pick up and chop down with the whole knife when using a Santuku.

Another tip she had that made sense was the time to practice knife skills was NOT when you are making dinner. She said to practice cutting up celery, green peppers, etc., get a couple of heads of celery. To practice cutting up harder things (like squash) get a bag of carrots and, finally, to practice cutting herbs up fine, get a bunch or two of parsley. All of these are fairly inexpensive and you can freeze your results. But the practice is very useful.

I left there to go and get my hair cut. But, I stopped at the Value Center Market and loaded up with $13 worth of celery, carrots and fresh, flat leaf parsley. My order also included fresh green beans, fresh asparagus, a butternut squash and an acorn squash (hey, it's Fall and it's time).

I got my haircut and got myself back home. I unloaded my practice veggies and then took out a pack of stewing beef to thaw. It's Fall, its chilly, I'm gonna cut up a large amount of vegetables - I'm thinking vegetable soup!

But, first I have to do something very important: take a nap! So, I did and it was a one hour, wonderful thing (sad to say, but at my age that's about the only wonderful thing I can do for an hour). So, on to my soup! I crushed some garlic cloves into oil and browned the stewing beef in my big ole cast iron Dutch oven. I added three small onions (and, may I say, they were perfectly sliced). When those were translucent, I added the stock.

Now, some may say I made a mistake, (and maybe I did) but I looked at the limited amount of store-bought beef stock I had on hand and the two big containers of home-made chicken stock in the freezer and I went with the chicken stock. Hey, this soup's not really about "beef" or "chicken" but vegetables! Huge amounts of perfectly cut, chopped or sliced vegetables!

Then I went out back to take some photos of the wild garden, get some catnip for the Scruff-miester and grab a plum tomato. My neighbor was putting his pool to bed for the winter (regretting he hadn't done it earlier, when it was warm, like Jake did). We chatted a bit and he said, "Hey, I think your black walnut tree has a disease or something. I noticed the squirrels aren't eating the nuts this year, so I figured you wouldn't mind and took a whole bagful to a buddy who wanted some. But, when he opened them up there were worms in them."

Okay, well one of the first items on this week's ToDo list is to get all the walnuts out of the ditch and the grass. I'll call my county extension agent next week and ask about this (sounds more like an insect infestation than a disease, but what do I know?). But, for now, its time to get to work on the raking.

I got two wheel barrows of nuts raked out of the ditch and into the field next door when Jake and Carla pulled in. They brought back my air compressor and picked up the tools he needs to install the turnbuckle on his big gate (it's sagging a little, making it hard to open). We chatted for a while (of course I had to tell them all about the knife class) and Carla asked, "Oh, are you making chicken soup?" So much for my idea the stewing beef would overpower the chicken stock, I guess.

Then they left. And, just in the short time they were here, my back started to stiffen and hurt. (No, body! Don't fail me now! I gotta haul my nuts outta there!) I went back to work, raked and loaded two more wheel barrows full of nuts, and then I stopped and took a realistic look at this project. I obviously will hurt myself big time if I try and finish today. But, if I spend just a little more time, I could get all the nuts out of the grass and onto the driveway, where it would be easier to shovel them into the wheel barrow, anyway. So that's what I did and where I left it.

Back inside, I begin my knife skill training. First of all, I was holding it wrong and, like she said, holding it right will be awkward at first (like a golfer who, on the advice of a golf pro, tries to change his grip). So, I made myself hold it right and cut up celery, carrots, asparagus, potatoes, green beans and way too much flat leaf parsley. I also threw in some fresh thyme and a lot of fresh ground pepper.

It's missing something, but I ate two big bowls of it and still couldn't figure out what, lol! I changed clothes and quit for the night. Watched some TV, read some, you know, the usual.

Song Lyrics

I'd completely forgotten this song until I heard it on "Saturday Morning, Over Easy." I especially love the line:

"Got a left-handed way of making a man sign up on that Automotive dream"

For those of you not familiar with Detroit (and, lucky you, these days!) he's referring to the fact that, unlike all other major cities, Detroit has no subway or mass transit system. So, if you ain't got a car, you ain't going nowhere!

PAPA HOBO

~ Paul Simon

Mm------
It's carbon and monoxide
The ole Detroit perfume
It hangs on the highways
In the morning
And it lays you down by noon

Oh papa hobo
You can see that I'm dressed like a schoolboy
But I feel like a clown
It's a natural reaction I learned
In this basketball town

Sweep up
I been sweeping up the tips I've made
I'm living on gatorade
Planning my getaway
Detroit, Detroit
Got a hell of a hockey team
Got a left-handed way
Of making a man sign up on that
Automotive dream, oh yeah, oh yeah

Oh, papa papa hobo
Could you slip me a ride?
Well, it's just after breakfast
I'm in the road
And the weatherman lied,
Oo-------, ah-----, oo-------

Saturday, October 13, 2007

photo

Top, the Shun, European-style chef knife, bottom the Wustoff, Asian Santoku-style chef knife

photo

The wild garden, under a new blanket of pine needles

photo

The wild garden, another view

Forgot to mention...

...but, hey, things slip your mind at 2:00 AM!

Anyway, my Mother called Friday night. She just got her new hearing aids, so she can actually hear people on the phone now.

She said she just got the photo album my daughter Melissa had sent, of photos from her *first* 100 year birthday party (the one Melissa and Amy had for her out at the cottage this summer).

She loved the pictures and can't wait to show it to me. Don't worry, Mom, I'll be up there shortly, just as soon as I get my outside Fall chores done. I have a fantastic shrimp bisque I want to make for you and Carl.

Once again, TGIF!

I had bad insomnia Thursday night which resulted in me oversleeping. I didn't get to work until after 8:00 AM (and I try to be there by 7:00 every morning).

Weather today was mostly cloudy and cool, but at least it's not raining. Both my knees have been aching from the dampness. Work was long and mostly boring, so I was very glad at 5:00 PM to be headed home, listening to "Bang the Drum All Day" by Todd Rundgren (thanks, jwg) and planning my weekend.

Once home, and before changing clothes, I started the dishwasher, started a load of clothes in the wash machine and then went out back and refilled the bird and squirrel feeders (I'm starting to run low on peanuts *hint* *hint*) and refilled the birdbath with cold water.

For some strange reason (heat stress? lack of water? disease?) many of my long-needled pines have shed a LOT of those said-same long needles. For right now (and this will change soon) there are more of them than maple leaves covering the grass in the back yard. My original, natural mulch in the wild garden (the one with the bench, all the ferns and lily-of-the-valley, the big chunks of tree sections and Lu's Buddha, located under the four pines in the middle of the back yard - yeah, that wild garden) was getting thin this year (I *gasp* had to weed it for the first time). So, before I cut the grass again, I thought I would re-purpose these fallen pine needles into much-needed wild garden mulch.

I got my long extension cord and my electric blower and made a huge circle around the garden, blowing the needles inwards. It was a little tricky with the wind now and then, but successful none-the-less. I now have a nice thick blanket of pine needles for new mulch next year. I'll try and take a picture and post it tomorrow.

I came inside, changed clothes, put the clothes in the dryer (I'll empty the dishwasher in the morning) and made the last of the roast beef into French dip sandwiches again.

I ate dinner at the table, reading. I hung up my shirts and pants from the dryer, then went and watched a taped TV show. At 9:00 PM, I switched over to real-time TV. Being a big James Patterson (a mystery writer) fan, I have been eagerly awaiting the new series based on his books: The Women's Murder Club. I was, frankly, disappointed. Too little mystery, and WAY too much of the personal life of the four women (a D.A., a cop, a coroner and I forget the fourth woman's profession). It was like Sex in the City, but with a murder thrown in. I'll watch it one more time, but if it doesn't get any better than tonight, that's it!

I went to bed at 10:00 PM and woke up at 2:00. After posting this, its back to bed for the Captain!

Friday, October 12, 2007

OMG!!! The Captain makes a healthy meal!!!

(Where's the bacon fat when you need it?)

So, as I said it would, Fall has returned to Michigan. It is raining and cold here in Redford at 6:00 AM (49 degrees F. or 9 C.) with a forecasted high for the next several days only in the mid-fifties. But, no coffee to warm me up (blood work fasting, remember?) Ever try and chug down 6 pills with just a "sip" of water? It's possible, but not pleasant!

Anyway, drove to the lab in the rain and got my blood drawn by the same nurse/technician I had the last time, two years ago. Well, come to think of it, she's the only one in the building at 7:00 AM. She's 40-50ish and is also an author (biographies and "A History of, say, Detroit" kind of books) which should make her interesting and a religious fanatic, which does not.

Now, before I start to get comments from the religious right, let me
explain. I have no problems with people of faith in general, but let me give you an example: She was talking about how it was reported in the news this would be another warm winter. I agreed and said I was concerned about the sum total effect of this global warming (as I am). She said we really don't need to worry about that, God will take care of it.

Now, I don't know about you, but my idea of the Christian God is not the benevolent, New Testament, "turn the other cheek," or "come to Me, My little lambs" kinda God, but rather the Old Testament "turning people into pillars of salt if they don't listen" or "drowning the entire freakin' world, except for Noah, if they screw up" kinda God. So, I always picture God using the same voice and almost the exact same words as my friend B___, back in the day when he was my boss, who once said to me, "You screwed this up, so you fix it. I'll fix it if I have to but, trust me, if I have to, you will not like it!"

(Note to self: You just compared B___ to God and that's creeping me out a little!)

Anyway, I got three vials drawn and a rather ugly, folded gauze pad and tape bandage and left. I know it was more psychological than real, but I was starving and thirsty, so on the way to work, I stopped at a McDonalds and got a sausage and egg McMuffin and a large glass of water and ate it before arriving.

Regretting my complete lack of food discipline and knowing I still have my upcoming annual physical on October 23, I chose to eat just a salad for lunch.

Long time readers may remember Jake has wanted to recreate two or three of his mother's staple recipes from his childhood (and I think Jeremy has talked about at least one): I believe they are: a rice and hamburger dish, her bread pudding and, what she called goulash.

Now, over the years, I have SO altered that rice dish that I cannot give you the original recipe (I like mine better, LOL!), I don't like sweets so the bread pudding never really interested me (I do remember it was thicker than most of the bread puddings I've tasted since. You could, for example, pick up a piece in your hand and eat it). And, this is all I can remember about the goulash (I think it was her step-mother Gerry's recipe). You browned hamburger. You added sliced onions. You added some salt and pepper and maybe an unknown spice or two). Then you dumped in one of those large cans of
tomato or V-8 juice. While that got happy, you boiled a box (1 pound) of elbow macaroni. Once drained, you added the macaroni to the hamburger mixture, simmered it a bit and served.

That being said, I came across a recipe that, for some odd reason, spoke to me. So, I decided I'd make it tonight, in honor of being free to eat what I want (but, still trying to keep it healthy, lol!)

However, a number of things (mostly my pantry items) kept me from exactly following the original recipe. So, I will post it as I read it and add what I altered:

INGREDIENTS

- 1 pound lean ground turkey (I could only find 1 1/2 pounds of ground
turkey for sale)

- 1 (14 ounce) can stewed, diced tomatoes (the can in my pantry had also contained basil, oregano and garlic)

- 3 cloves garlic, minced (I also added one small/medium yellow onion, chopped)

- 1 cup tomato sauce (I had none, so I used a small can of tomato paste plus 1/2 of that same can of water)

- 2 teaspoons white sugar

- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I left that out as my canned tomatoes already contained basil)

- I added 1 teaspoon of paprika, as all real Hungarian goulashes have
paprika in them.

- 1 (16 ounce) package bow tie pasta (the box I had only contained 12 ounces)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the turkey until browned.

2. Stir in the stewed tomatoes, garlic, onions, tomato sauce (or tomato paste and water), sugar (and paprika), and then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente, and then drain. Combine the pasta and turkey mixture.

I let everything get happy on simmer for 10 minutes, then served it (again, not called for in the recipe, but more traditional) with a dollop of sour cream and thin sliced scallions (white and green)

Very, very good! I ate it watching TV and went to bed around 11:30 PM.

Late Night Musings

Genealogy Question:

If the Bible can be taken literally and the Great Flood did indeed cover the entire earth (as opposed to, say, an all-time, high water mark on the Sea of Galilee) wouldn't our most recent, common ancestor be Noah and his family, rather than Adam and Eve?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink

Wednesday was a tough night for a foodie. I have to go in Thursday morning at 7:30 AM to a local lab and have some blood work done for my annual, upcoming doctor's visit. But, that means I have to fast for 14 hours before!

So, when I got home, I immediately warmed two hamburger patties and steamed some cauliflower. I ate the burgers with steaks sauce (no buns) and the cauliflower with butter and salt and did manage to finish by 5:30 PM. But that left a long, hungry, thirsty night ahead...

I called Melissa and wished her a safe trip. They are leaving Thursday in a caravan (two people, two cars) and heading for their new home in North Carolina. To keep myself busy, I finally sorted through the stuff on the bedroom floor and filed it all. I found all kinds of interesting stuff!

I watched a very weird show, "Pushing Daisies" and then two taped shows I'd missed. Went to bed and read at 10:30 PM. I finally shut off the light and went to sleep at 11:30.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday's Tale

I had a horrible, gross dream Monday night that woke me up early Tuesday morning. Something happened that severely damaged my left shoulder (maybe I was shot by a gang-banger, lol!) So, I was standing in the bathroom, looking in the mirror and trying to get out all the damaged flesh and bones. There was no blood and no pain, just me, using my right hand to dig out and almost fill the sink with bone bits and pink flesh from my shoulder. I was wondering how I could best dress the wound when the dream woke me up (as I said) and I felt like throwing up. How freakin' weird is that? It was like de-boning a raw chicken. Only thing I could think of that might have triggered it was pulling the smoked, pink pork apart with the forks, but that's not very reassuring, just kinda sicko.

Anyway, it's the last nice day forecasted, mid-seventies with a breeze, so I decided to grille yet again. I have some ground chuck in the fridge I either need to use or freeze. I lit the charcoal and then went in to make my hamburger patties. I didn't use the peanut butter jar lid trick, just made them by hand this time. I used the house seasoning of them and let them come up to room temperature.

When the coals were ready, I grilled them up. Pulled them off and let them rest under tin foil. I changed from my work clothes into my workout clothes (well, according to Carla, they should be called my eating clothes, lol!) and ate watching TV.

I have a big mess of papers, receipts, owner's guides, etc., on the floor of my bedroom from this summer's kitchen remodel, along with the three filing boxes they need to be sorted into. Every night I say I'm going to go through the pile and every night I don't. This night was no exception. I watched TV until 11:00 (not sorting at all) and then went to sleep.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hot Damn Monday!

Hot today, really hot! Broke the record of 89 degrees F (We hit 90). I had to stop at the Post Office and buy some stamps on the way home, but I did make it home (although slightly damp).

Changed immediately into my workout shorts and T-shirt. I dug out the smoked pork loin, froze half and warmed the other half in the microwave. Then, I shredded it with two forks. BTW, there was a nice smoke ring in the meat (and it tasted fantastic) so I did do some good with my smoking efforts yesterday.

I put the pulled pork in a medium saucepan, added a half a bottle of BBQ sauce and set the burner to simmer (low and slow, low and slow). Next I peeled a nice eggplant, cut it into 3/4 inch slices, dipped each into an egg/milk mixture, then seasoned flour and finally 1/4 inch of Canola oil, heated to 350 degrees in a cast iron skillet. I let them get golden brown on one side, then flipped them with my tongs. I ended up with eight, great eggplant rounds.

I ate two pulled pork sandwiches (on sesame seed hamburger buns) and three slices of eggplant watching taped TV, leaving the cleanup for the morning and made it an early night.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Quote (think about it!)

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
It's already tomorrow in Australia "

~ Charles Schultz

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

...to all my Canadian friends!

Sunday, bloody Sunday...

I woke up at 7:30 AM, without the alarm. Again, I feel a little disassociated (okay, out of it) I wasn't really interested in breakfast, but I did heat up two cups of the leftover coffee Jyl made yesterday night.

I filled the dishwasher and turned it on. Then I started washing the first of many, many things that didn't fit in the dishwasher. Soul food really makes a mess!

I had a call from Jake who said they were just coming back from somewhere and maybe it was too hot to work on the gate today. I said to myself, screw that, and loaded the car up with a drill motor, drill bits, the rake he's mentioned, the snow shovel he didn't and lastly, his mountain bike. It was when I was putting on the bungee cord to hold the trunk lid down that tragedy stuck! The bungee cord that I had stretched out slipped off and hit me right in the face! Thankfully, it only popped out the lens of my glasses (the one I just had put back in by the eye doctor's staff). But, it took almost an hour before I could get the lens back in place. I called Jake and said I wouldn't be coming over. He seemed happy, but I wasn't!

I went outside and started the rest of my charcoal (the last of the cowboy charcoal and all of the Kingsford briquettes) and dusted two pork loins with Emeril's Essence. I added wet hickory chips on top the charcoals and am smoking the pork loins for a pulled-pork dinner.

Oh, BTW, I gave Brenda all the leftover mac and cheese. There was NO collard greens left and, out of that whole rack of ribs, there were only two left. So, I warmed then up in the microwave, topped them with extra sauce and walked the across the street to give them to Robert (my local gang-banger). I told him the mac and cheese and all the collard greens were gone, but, please try my Sweet Bourbon Baby Back Ribs. He dug in and couldn't respond, other than giving me a big thumbs up. I took that as he liked them!

I was still feeling restless, so I took a walk down my street and back. I added more wet wood chips and went in and took a nap. When I woke up, I checked the grille and realized that I would run out of charcoal before the internal temp of the pork loin would reach 150 degrees. So, I reluctantly gave up on smoking it and finished it in the oven. But, now its almost 8:00 OPM and I want to watch my TV shows, not make dinner, so after all that, I put it in a bag and stuck it in the fridge. I watched some TV, eating some beef jerky for my Sunday dinner and then went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

French Dip Sandwiches

So, to appease the annoyed reader of Thursday's post, here's a quick way to make French Dip sandwiches. You need to pick up 1 1/2 pound of roast beef (for four hefty-sized sandwiches) from a deli, along with some sub buns. When you get home, you arrange the roast beef, slice by slice on a cutting board, sprinkling each slice with just a little steak seasoning (again, I use Montreal steak seasoning) stacking them up and then letting them come to room temperature.

While that's happening, you dice up a shallot and saute it in two tablespoons of butter. Then you whisk in two tablespoons of flour (if you were French, you'd be making a roux, lol) When the flour is golden, you slowly add two cans of beef broth. You let that get all bubbly and happy, then you use some tongs to put the roast beef slices in to get warm. Then you arrange them on the buns.

You put the leftover broth mixture (the au jus, as its called) into small dishes (ramikins work well here) for people to dip their sandwiches in.

Excellent!

Spectacular Saturday!

Woke Up at 6:30 with no alarm. I started the first load of weekend laundry, then shaved and showered. I got an email from Jyl, stating she was kidnapping her sister Brenda for her birthday and asking what were good restaurants in this area. I responded that I needed more information, like, type of food and cost.

She responded Chinese or Italian, so I sent her my best picks. But, I asked her why she didn't just come here. I can cook soul food all day long! So, she agreed and now I have to go shopping (which I needed to do, anyway).

I decided on a menu of baby back ribs, collard greens and macaroni and cheese (I ran it by Robert, the gang-banger across the street and he said it would be perfect. Actually, what he said was, the ribs and collard greens were good and all, but he could eat his Momma's homemade macaroni and cheese all day, every day!)

So, I'm off to Meijer's, list in hand. But, I stopped at the Coney Island (next to Home Depot) and had breakfast (two eggs, over easy, four sausage links, hash browns and rye toast). Now, properly fueled, I am a grocery shopping fool!

Most of what I bought today was staples, such as dish detergent, laundry detergent, Ivory soap and so on. So, it was expensive, but not exactly filling the freezer so's you'd notice. I got home just after noon, put away the groceries and decided to take a nap. I checked my recipes and the first time I need to do something (other than the baby back ribs which I put in the oven on 250 degrees F. as we speak) is 3:00 PM. So, I set my alarm for 3:00 PM and read a bit before taking a nice nap.

But, before I doze off, I should explain the ribs. I think we've talked about them before, but since I was just chastised for not explaining French dip sandwiches, I guess it bears repeating. I ripped off the white membrane on the back of the ribs, cut the slab in half and put them in a pan on a metal rack. I doused them with one cup apple juice and one cup bourbon. Then I rubbed the meat side with a mixture of five cloves of garlic (cut fine), two tablespoons of grill seasoning (I use Montreal Steak seasoning, myself, but that's just because I'm so cosmopolitan!) salt, pepper and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. They go in the oven for 3 1/2 hours (Low and slow, baby, low and slow! LOL, which is good cause I'm too old for high and hard!)

The alarm went off and I woke up and switched into high gear. I cut out the stems of the collard greens, rolled them up and cut them into one inch slices. I added them to the stock pot where I'd been boiling the smoked ham hocks, a tablespoon of house seasoning, a tablespoon of seasoned salt and a tablespoon of red hot sauce, which has been cooking for over an hour. Stirring often, they will cook for the next hour or so.

On to the mac and cheese. I boiled a pound of elbow macaroni until it was al dente, then drained it and added a tablespoon of butter and set it aside. I put four cups of milk, a small onion, studded with one clove, some dry mustard, four garlic cloves, a bay leaf and three fresh sprigs of thyme in a sauce pan and let it simmer. I made a roux, with two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of flour in a sauce pan. Once the roux was incorporated, I strained the milk mixture and slowly added it to the roux (whisking furiously). Then I added two cups of mild cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan. Next I dumped all that over the elbow macaroni, mixed it up and put it in a buttered casserole dish. I topped it with more shredded, but sharp cedar cheese and parmesan. Then I put that in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

Now, I am putting charcoal in the grille and firing it up. I took a whole bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Hot and Spicy BBQ sauce (I love that stuff!) and whisked in a quarter cup of bourbon to it. Then, I put the ribs on the oiled grille and slathered them with the sauce. You're not really cooking them at this point; you are just trying to caramelize the sauce to seal in the flavor.

So, somewhere around this time Jyl showed up with her sister Brenda and Brenda's daughter, Bretony (who I had not met before. She was apparently working during her Grandma's birthday party that I attended). Seriously, this is a beautiful young girl who is/or should be a model. After some discussion, we exchanged web site info (me with my lame poetry, old, fat, bald guy site, her with her hot My Tube site).

But, it's dinner time. Jyl brought some non-alcoholic wine that they all shared (not me, of course. if it isn't 80 proof or above, I'm not interested!) I had water.

So, how did it all go? Well, the ribs and the collard greens were damn good! Bretony surprised me by asking for more ribs (you know that teenagers are usual too cool to ask for seconds) but, personally, I was disappointed with the mac and cheese. The consistency was good, but it as way too bland. Next time I make this, I will only use only sharp cheddar.

Jyl had brought a cake her sister loves (I forgot what she called it. A ruby cake?) and they had that for dessert. We chatted a bit more and the they left.

I looked at the pans and dishes and decided they could wait until Sunday and went back to my bed and book until sleep overtook me.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Quote from a movie trailer...

"I've been on a spiritual journey, but that didn't really pan out"

Frustrating Friday!

I woke up this morning angry! Not sure why, maybe it was a bad dream. But, I felt edgy and out-of-sorts all day.

Again, it's remarkably warm here today and supposed to stay that way all weekend - (highs around 85 degrees F. or 29 C.) Hard to believe it's fall. I think it's that global warming that Al Gore invented (along with the internet).

At work, I had a visit from a State Farm guy. I needed to sign some loan papers, refinancing my car. It took my interest from 15.9% (hey, back when I bought it, I wasn't in a position to be picky) down to 10%! Just as I figured out how much I would save over the course of the loan, I got my paycheck and noticed I was now paying out almost that same amount in the increased Michigan State tax which just went up, effective October 1. <sigh>

So, I'm heading home, listening to WCSX. Every day at 5:00 PM, they have a short comedy bit, but on Friday's they always follow it with the same two songs: the first I don't know the name of, but the chorus/tag line is "I don't want to work, I just want to bang on the drums all day" and the next is "Everybody's working for the weekend." So, like Pavlov's dog, I am now "up" and primed for my two days off.

So, I bounce into the party store and pick up some hot dog buns and charcoal (hey, it's hot outside and I smell a BBQ!) As I was leaving, my neighbor lady across the way stopped me outside. Long time readers may remember she was the one I showed the "floating" picture to, and she came over and admired what Luanne was doing to the table she had bought at the Goodwill. You might also remember that Carla was convinced her husband was a drug dealer (but if he was, he was really bad at it as they lived in the crappy townhouses across the street, lol!)

Anyway, she said she had bought a house at 7-Mile and Farmington and they are moving today. I said, "Good for you, but, damn, I'm gonna miss you!" She gave me a slow, sweet hug and said she'd stop by now and again. I smiled and said, "Great!" but I'm old enough to know that never really happens.

So, now I'm REALLY bummed. I got home, changed clothes and said, "It's fall, dammit!" So, I emptied all the container gardens into the wheel barrow, put the containers and the two wood chairs in the garage for winter storage and trucked the dirt and plant debris back to the compost heap.

Then I started watering the bare spots (that I seeded the other day) on the side of the garage and into the back yard. I filled the bird and squirrel feeders and went back inside setting the timer (again for 20 minutes a pop).

You know, I always say that I like living alone (and I do, for the most part). Think about it. Since I was in my teens, I've had to allow for a wife and my kid's perspectives. To say, "This is what I'm gonna do!" or "This is what I'm making for dinner!" or "This is how I'm spending my money!" without any discussion is very, VERY liberating. But, at times, (like tonight) it is also very, very lonely...

Okay, enough whining. I fired up the grille - with apologies to Jake, as I had to use Kingsford charcoal instead of my normal Cowboy natural charcoal (hey, it really does make a difference, folks). I used just a tad, raised the coals and hit the grille grates with some oil. As the charcoal cooked down, I chopped up an onion. Then I put the six bratwurst on the grille.

I ate dinner watching TV and fell asleep around 10:00 PM. Woke up at 1:00 AM, wrote this and am now going to bed for real.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Thursday

I stopped on the way home to pick up the stuff I need from dinner. I have a hankering for French dip sandwiches. When I got home, I hauled out the sprinkler and began to water the front lawn again. So, everything I do tonight (until the watering is done) must be within a 20 minute timeframe! Not so simple!!

I called Lu back. She made it home safe and sound and all her critters are still healthy. Then I called M________ back. She's understandably going a bit nuts trying to get everything packed before October 11 (that's when the moving truck shows up).

I made dinner and it was delicious! I finished watering at 8:30 PM (in the dark) came inside and watched some TV before going to bed at 10:00.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Now its Wednesday...

When I got home from work Wednesday, I had a bill stuck in my door from Tru-Green, advising me that they had applied the Fall "Weed & Feed" and that it was very important to water my lawn to work it into the soil. So, I checked my phone (no messages), changed clothes and went outside.

I put the sprinkler in the first position on the front lawn, turned it on and went inside, setting the stove timer for 20 minutes. And, of course, repeated the procedure again and again and again... until darkness intervened. I did get all the way into the back yard , but just by the gate before I had to quit.

While doing that, I missed two phone calls. One from my daughter, M______ (who wanted to chat) and the other from Lu (to let me know she made it home). For some stupid reason, once I check the phone when I get home, I figure there will be no calls that I don't hear, so I never check it again until the morning. So, I apologize to both of you for not responding. I just didn't realize you'd called.

Okay, so what's for dinner that I can make in a 20 minute interval? Hmmm... I cut off the last four leftover baby back ribs, warmed them in the microwave and smothered them with BBQ sauce. Damn, those were good. I made some rice as the side dish and ate that as well.

I hung up the clothes from the load I'd started when I got home, and watched some TV. Maybe it was all that jumping up every 20 minutes or something else, but I was tired and gave it up about 9:30 PM and went to bed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

On this day in history...

Oct 3, 1226: St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order, died. I have always been fascinated by his journey from rich man's son to religious humanitarian and eventually to a saint. While He is portrayed these days as a friend to the birds and beasts (I have a statue of him in my garden, for example) he actually was the first reported person to have suffered the phenomenon of stigmata.

Tuesday

On the way into work Tuesday morning, I did something I never did before. I was thinking about "stuff" and missed my exit (Newburgh Road) off of the expressway (I-96). I realized it when I noticed I was on the on-ramp to I-275 North. How the heck did that happen? So, I took I-275 to the nearest exit (6 Mile Road) and backtracked two miles South on Newburgh. All in all, it was about a six mile side trip. Note to self: Pay more attention to your surroundings and less to "stuff!"

When I got home after work, with my houseguest gone, I immediately stripped the daybed and put the sheets and comforter in the washing machine so the bed will be fresh for the next guest. I walked around the back yard a bit, mentally planning my winterizing chores and enjoying the fresh air.

When I got back inside, I put the clothes in the dryer and started dinner. I must confess I learned this trick on the Food Network, but I wrapped the roast beef in tinfoil and put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I started slicing the leftover potatoes, carrots, onions and mushrooms. Then I heated up some canola oil in my skillet. I added three garlic cloves to infuse the oil and took them out when they started to brown. I added one sliced onion (roast beef doesn't have enough onion when you turn it into roast beef hash, you see) and saut�ed it.

While the onion was getting translucent, I took out the roast beef and sliced it (the freezer trick makes it much, much easier to slice, BTW) I took the slices, laid them flat and sliced them again into, oh, like a fat matchstick size. Then I added the beef and the veggies to the pan and warmed everything up. A little seasoning and it was perfect!

I ate watching TV, but because I didn't sleep well the night before, I fell asleep around 9:30 PM. I woke up at 2:00 AM, shut off the TV and the lights and went to "bed" bed.