Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, at last!

Friday was a weird day, weather-wise. It was either sunny, or snowing like hell, all day.

On the way home at lunch, I stopped and picked up this year's Honey-baked ham (we get a certificate every year from work for one as our Christmas present). Now, this "seems" like a nice gift, right? But, every year, the same thing happens. I give them my certificate (worth $45 this year) and they check and say they don't have a ham for that amount! This time, I asked the lady to check in back (I'm a bit tired of this game). She does and says the smallest ham they have costs $56. So, pissed off, I give them $11 to claim my "free" Christmas ham...

On the one hand, I should be grateful to get a spiral cut, honey-baked ham for $11. On the other hand, it annoys me to have to pay anything to get what's supposed to be a present!

On the way back to work, I dropped off my old microwave at B50. As I mentioned, we are moving there next week. I talked to one group who are moving there this week about microwaves and they had an "antique" model. Now mine, I bought when we moved in here, but it became unnecessary when I installed the bad boy vented one over the stove. So, I told them to pitch theirs and took mine in.

So, picture how stupid and awkward it was to hold this big sucker under one arm, use the cane with the other and get through a snowy parking lot, the front door, the suite door and (best of all) the door you can't open without a badge (for that one, I set the microwave down, opened the door, stuck my cane in the opening, picked it back up and got through).

Imagine my surprise when I finally got to where it was supposed to go when I saw a smaller one, sitting on that counter! Not sure whose it is, but I set mine next to it. I'll tell you what, I ain't taking mine home. If they don't want it, I'll give it to the shop guys!

I made it to a 1:00 PM meeting with minutes to spare. The rest of the afternoon went by in a blur until about 3:30 PM. Then everything started to drag...

Finally, it was 5:00 PM and I hit the road, banging that drum! I did some minor chores (treating the cats, emptying the dishwasher, getting my robe and the downstairs' towels out of the dryer, etc.)

For dinner I made one ham and cheese sandwich and ate it watching the news. Why? For two reasons: First, the Friday Night Fights are on tonight and I would like to watch them eating a bowl of popcorn and drinking a beer, so eating a big dinner is out. And, second, my sleep pattern is ALL messed up. I fall asleep way too early, and then am wide awake at 1:00 AM. I'd like to reset my internal clock.

So, after eating, I took a nap (if that's what you can still call it at 7:30 PM). I woke up about 9:30 PM with the fights on. I made the popcorn, grabbed the beer and watched the fights.

I still fell asleep before they ended, but at least I stayed up for a while. I will work on this more over the weekend.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday

Light snow on the way into work Thursday. They said on the news this morning this is the fifth snowiest winter in Michigan since they began keeping records. BTW, they said we got five inches of snow yesterday (I would have guess four, but...)

Busy, but slip/sliding trip at lunch. I stopped at Westborn to restock veggies and apples. They I went to the eye doctor to pick up my new lenses. I did drop everything off at home, but turned around almost immediately and went back to work.

I had to leave work early for a 4:30 Dentist appointment (he was replacing two filling that had fallen out, if you remember). So, I didn't get home until just after 6:00 PM. Once home, I checked the ToDo list and found I didn't feel like doing anything! So, I didn't!

I ate the last piece of meatloaf and the last of the mashed potatoes for dinner. I read for a while on the couch and then watched some TV. Then I went to bed!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

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Closeup of tile, caulk and door frame

Slipping and sliding...

Wednesday morning was a mess! It started snowing in the night and we had about 3/4 inch of fine, slick snow everywhere. I stayed on the surface streets and slowly made my way to work. I think I was more afraid of the other drivers than I was me spinning out!

I went home at lunch (still snowing, BTW) and it took a while just to get the snow and ice off the car.

The snow stopped around 2:00 PM. On the trip home after work, the expressway was plowed with one lane salted. I got home at 5:30 PM.

Tonight, the only job I have scheduled for me is to caulk between the tile and the door trim. So, I got out the caulk gun and the tub of almond latex caulk (not that damn silicone) and got it done. It was surprisingly easy, BTW, and gives a nice "finished" look to the tile.

I took the "after" photos and posted everything, but realized you can't really see the work (at that distance).

I was lazy, so for dinner I cooked a bag of frozen cheese tortellini in some chicken stock, drained it and then added a store-bought jar of alfredo sauce. I made a small salad to go along with that. The tortellini was good, but way too bland.

I didn't bother watching TV, just read until about 9:30 and then went to bed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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Westside bathroom project

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Westside bathroom project, complete

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Eastside bathroom project, at the start

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Eastside Bathroom Project, midway

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Eastside Bathroom Project, complete

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Sunday Night's Refire (left in the camera)

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Saturday Night Dinner (left in the camera)

Tuesday's Trip

Tuesday, I went to Lowe's at lunch and bought a new white mini-blind for the bathroom. I needed one that's 36 inches wide, but that width only comes in a 64 inch length.

That's one thing about moving to the building closest to my home next week. Heading to Lowe's will no longer be a quick, four mile trip. On the other hand, I'll save a lot in gasoline!

Back at home, I changed clothes and treated the cats. Then I got to work. I pulled off the old mini-blind (brackets and all) and then installed the new one. Once it was up, I carefully cut it down to the 26 inch length I need and restrung the bottom.

Next, I installed the toilet paper holder. Took a while, but it looks great! I checked the time and it was almost 7:30 PM, so I quit for the night.

I was getting a bit tired of the meatloaf, so I made a big salad (sadly using the last of the leaf lettuce). I ate that watching more of that mini-series movie until I started nodding off. So, I stopped it and went to bed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday

I slept lousy Sunday/Monday night, waking up almost every hour. This made getting up at 5:30 AM Monday morning especially challenging.

On the way home for lunch, I stopped at Home Depot to buy some longer screws for the door hinges.

Back home at 5:15 PM, I went out and refilled the bird feeder. Back inside, I set about getting the trash ready for tomorrow morning.

Then I put the hinges on the door and then hung it back up. Finally!!! At last I have my privacy back (I know those cats have been peeking!)

Then I went out in the garage (after I put my coat back on) and cut all the scrap wood from this project (the old molding I pulled off and the cut-offs from the new molding) into 6-inch pieces. I put them in a heavy paper bag and into the trash as well.

Back in the house, I was chilled, so I made a cup of instant coffee from the jar Lu bought during the power outage. Then I made dinner. I had about five small Yukon Gold potatoes so I cut them up (skins on). Then I added three russet potatoes that I did peel and cube. While they were boiling, I opened a jar of store-bought beef gravy and put that in a saucepan on low. Then I warmed up two slices of the meatloaf in the microwave.

When the potatoes were fork tender, I mashed them with whole milk, butter and an egg. Then I plated everything, adding some gravy on the potatoes and drizzling some on the meat loaf.

I started watching the first part of a two-part (four hours in all!) movie I taped. I knew I'd never stay awake for all of it and I didn't.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, Cleaning Up!

Up at 7:00 AM on Sunday, warmed up some coffee and posted the Blog. By 8:00, I was cleaning up the kitchen. Washing the stovetop was on the ToDo list for this weekend, so I did that next. Stovetop itself wasn't hard, but I ended up using Soft Scrub and a wire brush on the grates and drip trays.

I also used the Soft Scrub and a wire brush on the cast iron grille pan. Once I had it cleaned, I dried it in the oven and then re-seasoned it.

Then it was onto cleaning the house. I had that all done by 2:00 PM. So, I warmed up the other half of the acorn squash and took a break, reading a book. Sitting down was a mistake, though. Gave me a chance to realize how tired and sore I really was. So, at 3:15 PM, I decided to try and take a nap.

It didn't work, but I got some taped shows watched and deleted. Lu called around 5:00 PM and we chatted for a bit.

For dinner, I warmed up some of yesterday's meatloaf. Since I had already eaten all the side dishes, I made some Uncle Ben's Wild Rice.

I watched my Sunday shows until I got sleepy, then I let the recorder do its thing and I went to bed.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Working Hard, Eating Hearty...

I awoke (LOL) at 7:00 AM on Saturday. I carried a sleepy Scruffy out to the couch and then stripped the bed. The first of two loads (now that I am using a blanket) went into the washer. I put on a pot of coffee.

Next, I went downstairs and removed the masking tape and packaging paper from the towel rack. There were two drips on the far side, but otherwise, the rack turned out perfect! Just what I wanted!!

I posted the Blog and the towel rack pictures. Then I pulled the grille pan and the racks out of the oven and took off the protective glass cover for the bulb. But, I couldn't find the replacement bulb, anywhere! I am sure I bought it, dammit! So, that went on today's shopping list and I wiped out the white ash left in the oven with damp paper towels.

I am running late, now! I took my shower at 9:30 AM and got dressed. First stop was Leo's Coney Island for two eggs over easy, pork sausage links, hash browns and rye toast.

Then I went to Kroger's, the library and finally Ferguson's Plumbing Supply (to get a wrench for that cleanout downstairs). I was back at home with everything put away by 12:30 PM. So, the first thing after putting away the groceries was to install the oven light.

I called the snowplow guy again to remind him I still owe him $20. He said he'd be over at 2:30. I changed into my painting clothes and started to tape the downstairs bath.

I finished painting the bathroom at 3:30 PM (or three hours). The door, minus its hardware is downstairs lying on the sawhorses, with the inside painted as well. Just after I quit, the snowplow guy rang the bell! So, finally, I gave him his money.

After scrubbing all the paint off of me, I began dinner. For my side dishes, I put the remaining rutabagas (already peeled and diced) in a saucepan to fire later. I took a nice acorn squash and used my European-style knife to cut it in half. It was perfectly round (and therefore wobbly) so I cut a small flat surface on the backside of each half to hold it in place. I dug out the seeds, added a pat of butter to the cavity and then threw in some fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley (stalks and all).

Next, I put together (sorta) the recipe from America's Test Kitchen for glazed all-beef meat loaf. Why "sorta"? Because I bastardized it so much I can hardly say it's their recipe (not that they would want to take credit for whatever comes out of my oven today, lol!). What drew me to this recipe was the use of unflavored gelatin to mimic using veal. Ground veal, as you may or may not know, runs around $9 a pound. However, I am still using ground pork, so right away the recipe is wrong. I tried to use more or less the same other ingredients but, for example, I don't have any Dijon mustard in the house, so I used a little less amount of yellow mustard.

Anyway, you get the idea. I personally prefer the CaptainK bacon-wrapped meatloaf, but since I am still trying to lose some more weight, I went with this. Another variation: I used a normal meatloaf pan as a mold for my mixture, while they suggested hand-forming the loaf. The difference between the CaptainK bacon-wrapped meatloaf and this recipe was that, instead of flipping it upside-down on a half sheet, they suggested a rack, covered with tinfoil, with holes punched in it to drain off the grease, placed in a half sheet pan . So, I tried that.

The only thing I did do exactly was the glaze. I put the meatloaf and the acorn squash in the oven for about an hour (I need an internal temperature of 135-140 degrees F. on the meatloaf). After about 40 minutes, I turned on the rutabagas. After another 10 minutes, I began making the glaze.

I put 1/2 cup of ketchup, one teaspoon of hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander, 1/4 cup of cider vinegar and three tablespoons of light brown sugar in a small sauce pan. I brought that to a simmer over medium heat and cooked it, stirring, until it was thick and syrupy (about 5 minutes).

BTW. I burned the hell out of the palm of my hand moving the sauce pan with the rutabagas (which was NOT on heat) but just next to the oven heat outlet.

So, I turned on the broiler and coated the meatloaf with the half of the glaze. I put it under the broiler and let it go for five minutes. Then I took it out. I recoated it with the rest of the glaze and put it back under the broiler for another five minutes. Then, I finally pulled it and let it rest for 20 minutes (I stuck the acorn squash back in the oven to keep it warm).

I took some pictures for you, BTW, while it was resting. Then I finally ate dinner. Acorn squash was excellent! The rutabagas, topped with butter and salt were also delicious. The meatloaf? I'm still trying to decide. Very hearty and the glaze was excellent. But, somehow, I thought the flavor would be more complex. On the other hand, it's a freakin' meatloaf, for God's sake...

I left the mess for tomorrow morning, but put away the meatloaf and the other half of the squash. It was when I laid down to watch TV that I realized just how sore I was from those three hours of painting. It was a little room, but a lot of bending, reaching, stretching and so on. My shoulders, elbows, wrists and both knees are all complaining!

I was tired, so I went to sleep around 9:00 PM.

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Masking tape #1

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Masking tape #2

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Masking tape #3

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My European Chef's Knife

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Meatloaf, basted with first coating of glaze, before going under the broiler

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Finished meatloaf, ready to serve

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Shoutout!

Happy birthday to my brother Carl.

They say the good die young, so I guess that explains how we both got this old!

Of course, that presents problems with Mom...

A Reminder to My Daughter, Melissa...

[Thanks, Jyl!]

65�

Floridians turn on the heat.
People in Michigan plant gardens.

60�

Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Michigan sunbathe.

50�

Italian & English cars won't start.
People in Michigan drive with the windows down..

40�

Georgians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats.
People in Michigan throw on a flannel shirt.

35�

New York landlords finally turn up the heat.
People in Michigan have the last cookout before it gets cold.

20�

People in Miami all die.
Michiganders close the windows.

0�

Californians fly away to Mexico .
People in Michigan get out their winter coats.

-10�

Hollywood disintegrates.
The Girl Scouts in Michigan are selling cookies door to door.

-20�

Washington DC runs out of hot air.
People in Michigan let the dogs sleep indoors.

-30�

Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Michiganders get upset because they can't start the Snow-mobile.

-40�

ALL atomic motion stops .
People in Michigan start saying...'Cold enough fer ya?'

-50�

Hell freezes over.
Michigan public schools will open 2 hours late.

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Towel Rack

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Towel rack, primed

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Towel rack, masked off

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Towel Rack, Painted

Friday, getting 'er done!

Friday was the second (and last) day of the warm up (I hesitate to call this a true January thaw) with a predicted high of 36 degrees. We go back in the deepfreeze Friday night. Our predicted "low" at midnight (16 degrees F.) will be our "high" tomorrow. They predict that it will be 6 degrees F. (or -14 degrees C.) at 3:00 PM on Saturday.

I stopped at Westborn and Office Depot on the way home at lunch. I want to make my Saturday morning errand list a little smaller (too damn cold to be out too long!) Once home, I put a lot of salt on the garage apron

When I got home after work (banging that drum!), the first thing I did was to use my broom to get the standing water out of the garage. Then I used my snow shovel to get as much ice and snow off the porch and garage apron as possible. Finally, I salted the remaining iced spots and the strip where the garage door comes down at. I neglected this the last time I swept out the water. The rubber on the garage door froze to the floor overnight, and when I went to work, opening the garage door nearly caused it to come off the track!

Once inside and having treated the cats, I noticed that the suet cage was lying on the ground (damn squirrels) and the bird feeder was low. So, I pulled on my boots (cursing under my breath), put my coat back on and went out back, fixed the suet cage and put another suet cake in it, then refilled the bird feeder.

Since it was still pretty warm and the wind was blowing, it was the perfect time to paint the towel rack in the bathroom. [what is he even talking about? That doesn't make sense!] Sorry, I was having a Jim Gaffigan moment. Let me explain...

The towel rack is made of some very coarse-grained wood. When I painted it with primer, it looked bad. So, I decided I needed to use spray paint to get a nice smooth finish. With the current weather conditions, I can open the bathroom window when I am spraying and the wind will take the fumes away. And, it's not so cold that the paint will be affected.

So I masked the wall with tape and some packaging paper I have. I cracked the window and gave it the first of four coats (I learned long ago that several light coats work best with spray paint). I took some photos for the Blog and then cleaned up.

Next came making this weekend's coleslaw. I had picked up a two-pound head of green cabbage at Westborn today. This was not easy to find, BTW, as most heads of cabbage weigh 4-5 pounds! So, I quartered the cabbage and removed the core. Then I thinly sliced it (of course I could have used the mandoline, but I need the knife practice). Next I shredded three medium carrots (unpeeled) on the box grater.

In my big bowl I whisked together 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of sour cream, two tablespoons of cider vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. When they were combined well, I threw in the cabbage and carrots and tossed everything. I let that set, uncovered, for about an hour, tossing occasionally until the cabbage wilted (about 30 minutes). I tasted it (needed a bit more salt), then covered it and put it in the fridge for tomorrow's dinner.

Speaking of dinner, I reheated a pasty in the microwave for mine. I watched a little TV, but went to bed early. Before I did, though, I used Jake's suggestion (one of the comments this week) and turned on the self-cleaning oven. It needed to be done and will help heat the house overnight!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday's warmup

The forecast was a high of 32 degrees today, so I stopped on the way home at lunch at the quarter car wash. I hosed off weeks of snow, salt and crud. It won't stay clean long, I know, but it's nice to be able to see out the whole front window and use the side mirrors again.

Back home again after work, I got the nightly routine over, my clothes changed and the Wednesday night wash load in when my daughter Melissa called. We chatted for quite some time (as always).

I was staving when we finally hung up. So, I got out the two-burner cast iron grille pan and cooked a package of six smoked bratwurst. For my side, I cooked a box of macaroni and cheese (the blue box with the mystery orange cheese powder). I didn't have any buns, so I ate the brats on whole wheat bread with yellow mustard.

I watched a little TV, but went to bed early.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

"For all those men who say, 'Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?' Here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of [older] women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!"

~ Sue, 56, in Yahoo Personals

Wednesday

It was a whopping 1 degrees F. when I woke up this morning.

I went home at lunch but, stopped at the Home Depot for the paint, a three-inch bristle brush and a plastic drop cloth. On the way back to work, I stopped at our B50 (the one that's about a half mile from my house). Since the building I am currently at is scheduled to close down, all the IT staff is scheduled to move back there.

I walked the space with more of a Facilities Coordinator (which I used to be) eye than an IT Program Manager perspective (where I am now). I wrote down my observations and came up with a 24 point "punchlist" (which is what they call it in Facilities) of things I needed fixed before we can move in.

Back at work I sent the list to my counterpart, Craig, in Facilities, letting him know the changes I wanted.

Heading back for home, I reflected on something I discovered this morning. As you know, I have been bitching practically every day about the cold, right? Well, at work yesterday, I saw a guy come in with almost the same down coat as I have hanging in my closet.

I rarely ever wear it as it is WAY too hot for me. But, even with this weather, I had completely forgotten it (since it is in my front hall closet) and have been wearing my unlined leather jacket (stops the wind, of course, but with no lining to keep out the cold). What was I thinking?

I treated the cats (of course - otherwise, they might eat me while I was sleeping, you see) and then unloaded the dishwasher I had turned on at noon.

I went through the mail and then took off my shoes and changed into my workout clothes. I turned on the classic rock, filled in the Blog to date and then went downstairs to the bathroom project.

As I said, I had the radio turned on to Classic Rock and they played an old favorite of mine (and Jyl's, if memory serves me right) called Glory Day's. So, I stopped and posted a snippet of it.

I really didn't "do" anything in the bathroom. I mostly solidified my plan for painting it this weekend. Why? Because most of what's left (put on the new hinges, the new toilet paper holder, caulk between the tiles and the new molding, etc.) has to be done AFTER the painting.
For dinner I just made a double-sized salad. After that, I began reading a magazine that came today, waiting for the new Top Chef. But, I started nodding before it came on, so I let it tape and went to bed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I know I posted this before, but...

Song snippet:

Glory Days

~ Bruce Springteen

Now I think I'm going down to the Well tonight
And I'm going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it
But I probably will...

Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
A little of the glory of, well time slips away
And leaves you with nothing mister but
Boring stories of glory day.

Inauguration Day

I checked the Channel 4 (Click on Detroit) weather when I woke up and found it was a balmy 9 degrees F. The high today is supposed to be 16 degrees, but negating that is a bit of a North-northwest wind (wind chill, baby, if you believe in that stuff). Temperatures at this time of the season are supposed to be an average of 31 degrees, BTW. As I said before, I can't wait to get my gas bill!

You remember my neighbor next door, who went with an auxiliary wood heater. I posted a picture of the wood he'd secured for the winter, way back when. I would guess, based on buying wood on St. Clair, that he had about twelve cords or more of wood, cut and split. Well, looking outside today, he has probably less than two cords left!

Speaking of averages, they said on TV this morning that the snowfall to date for my area this winter is 42 inches (and the average is 21 inches). And we still have half the winter to go! So, considering I have had my driveway plowed three times (or $60.00 US) to date (I know, I know, I only paid the guy $40.00 so far - but I am here if he wants to pick up his last $20.00), I feel I am way ahead of the game, rather than buying a snow blower and then having to gas it and maintain it!

At lunch, I stopped at the Newburgh Coney Island for my usual Tuesday (and sometimes leftover on Wednesday) fare when I have errands in that neck of the woods: a bowl of the bean and ham soup and a mini-Greek salad ($5.51 plus tip). That soup is excellent, BTW, but forget about their usual chicken and dumpling soup (all you taste is dough) or the Friday clam chowder (mine is sooo much better).

They have a widescreen TV up on the wall that is usually tuned to one of those daytime talk shows. But, today it was the Inauguration ceremonies (this was the time when the ex-presidents and dignitaries were still arriving - about 11:15 PM). When they weren't waiting tables or cooking, all the Greek staff would stand out front and watch. It struck me then (and Jake reiterated last night) that, no matter what your nationality or your political views, we were all witness to history today.

Then, I went to Lowe's and dropped another $60.00 on what I had hoped was the end of the downstairs bathroom project. Turns out it wasn't. When I inquired about another quart of Glidden paint (to supplement the one quart I had) the lady informed me (rather frostily, I thought) that Glidden was sold by Home Depot, not Lowe's.

I stopped at CVS on the way home to get the three prescriptions I had called in. $45.00 later, I was headed home, feeling a bit broke!

I again waited, porch light on, for my snowplow guy. I did ask where I could drop the money off, but he said he's just stop by and get it. So, now I'm stuck with waiting, every night... Actually, I'm starting to think he has a regular job, so I probably won't see him until next weekend.

Dinner was warmed up venison chili and the last of Mom's salted wheat crackers. I didn't feel much like working on the bathroom tonight, so I did a lot of catch-up stuff on the computer and then watched TV until bedtime.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Getting Flaky on Monday

I woke up with the alarm and, after putting on my robe, walked into the living room to look outside at the weather. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the driveway was plowed! Now, I do have the TV turned up a bit louder than a normal person, but I can still hear the doorbell over it! I felt bad that the guy had come and I didn't pay him.

So, when I was at work, I called him and apologized for not hearing him Sunday night. He said, "No, I plowed it this morning for you so you could get out to work!" (Now, that's service!) I asked where I could drop off the money and he said he'd come by at 5:30 PM to get it.

Today were the "Service Awards" where I work. It's a luncheon honoring the 2008 10, 20, 25 and 30 Year employees. I am a 20 year employee, BTW. This year it was held in the atrium of the Inn at St. John's in Plymouth, Michigan.

When we first arrived, there was a buffet table with fresh vegetables and a dipping sauce and also fresh fruit and another kind of dipping sauce for that. We sampled some of that waiting for our turn to be photographed with the two owners, the CEO and the COO.

Then came lunch. You got to choose from four entr�e selections:

- Walnut and Michigan Dried Cherry Chicken (served with Marsala cream sauce)
- Grilled Filet of Salmon (with lemon chive butter)
- Steak Madagascar (fire-grilled steak served with creamy green peppercorn sauce)
- Grilled Vegetables and Polenta (assorted seasonal grilled vegetables, creamy polenta and red pepper sauce

All entrees were served with a field green salad, chef's choice of appropriate starch and vegetable, freshly baked assorted rolls with sweet whole butter and chocolate mousse for dessert (which I passed on, of course).

The place was beautiful, BTW. I was told it was once a seminary and that the present owner's had turned it into a hotel, conference center and wedding reception halls and the seminary grounds are now a golf course.

Since I had just gone through my great green peppercorn hunt and used them to coat the Christmas roast, I went with the Steak Madagascar. It was very good, with roasted baby redskin potatoes and fresh steamed green beans. The green peppercorn sauce was pureed, though, and lacked the "pop" that the whole peppercorns imparted to my Christmas roast. I did a lot of shameless networking (hey, in these times, you never know when you are going to need a friend) in between stuffing my face.

After work, I raced home so I wouldn't miss the snowplow guy. I turned on my porch light and changed clothes. I deliberately left the stereo and the TV off so I could hear the doorbell. Then I gave the new molding and the old wooden towel rack another coating of primer.

At 6:30 PM (and still no snowplow guy) I started making the pasties. I diced up the peeled rutabaga and an equal amount of peeled, diced russet potatoes. I thin-sliced half of a Vidalia onion and then cut up the meat. Now, as the recipe calls for and my old neighbor used to say, you need a round steak. But, when I searched through this year's 1/8 of a cow, I found NO round steak (did Jake and Carla steal all the round steak? Hmmm...) So, I went with a thick sirloin steak, instead.

When that was cubed (same size as the rutabaga and the potatoes, BTW - knife skills baby), I mixed everything together with the dried parsley, salt and pepper. Then I got out the vodka dough.

I have had several off-line requests, asking me about this and here is my report. You might not know this, but that recipe was for a pumpkin pie single crust. So, I doubled it. But, when I rolled it out thin enough for the pasties, I ran into some trouble. Unlike the dough I'd used before (and derided) this was so light that the filling (raw rutabaga, potatoes, onions and the steak) punched right through it. In fact, only one of the four pasties remained unscathed!)

But, I soldiered on, added dough patches where needed. I think now I should have tripled it and not rolled it so thin. But, I put four of them on two half-sheet pans, lined with parchment paper and into the 400 degrees F preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Here is the only change I made to the recipe listed in this Blog. Instead of the teaspoon of water in every slit (to facilitate making the "gravy,") I substituted beef broth. Why? Because I had used some beef broth before and the carton, once opened, only lasts about two weeks in your fridge. So, I had it and I used it.

After adding the beef broth (or I could have used water as called for in the real recipe) the pasties were brushed with milk and went back in the oven (at 350 degrees F.) for another 15 minutes (or, until golden brown).

BTW it was almost 8:00 PM and still no sign of the snowplow guy.

When the timer went off, I pulled them out and picked out the best one for my food porn photo.

Taste-wise? Well, the crust was noticeably flakier. It would have been perfect for a pie. I'd like to try this again soon and, as I said, use twice the dough and just not roll it so thin.

And, using that beef broth was a big mistake. It did give the gravy a beefier taste, but that taste almost overpowered the subtler taste of the potatoes, rutabaga and the Vidalia onion.

Speaking of which, I also think that, next time, I'll use a yellow onion. I sliced up the correct amount, but didn't get a very "onion" flavor.

So, before you start thinking I was disappointed, I wasn't. It still tasted "good" to me, just not "great." I ate a whole one and put three in baggies in the fridge (I think I'll freeze one just to see how they hold up).

I watched TV until 10:00 PM (still no snowplow guy picking up his money) and then shut it down and went to sleep.

Monday, January 19, 2009

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Monday night pastie

Sunday's Story

I got up at 5:15 AM. I kicked the cats off the bed and stripped it. I put the bedding in the wash machine and turned it on. I reheated a cup of coffee and posted the Blog.

I put the bedding in the dryer and got another cup of coffee. I took my latest book and went into the living room, turning on the light, "Over Easy" on the radio and the fireplace.

Around 8:00 AM, I started to get hungry. To atone for yesterday's dinner, I fine-diced half of a small yellow onion and thick-sliced about five Cremini mushrooms. I saut�ed them in butter and olive oil, with a pinch of salt to help the mushrooms give up their moisture.

While they were cooking, I whisked the hell out of three eggs and a splash of heavy cream. When the mushrooms had reduced, I carefully added the egg mixture (after whisking it furiously one last time - I want to add a lot of air into it). I stirred it around a bit, added some fresh ground black pepper and then let it cook.

Now, normally, I would use some Swiss cheese, but I don't have any. I do have sharp cheddar, but that would overpower the subtle onion/mushroom flavor. So, I settled on some American cheese slices.
When they started to melt, I plated it (see photos). Delicious!

Energy replenished, I got to work. I washed up the breakfast dishes and skillet. Next I went out and refilled the bird feeder (my Brother Carl was right; I have wimpy birds and squirrels! Now that its +19 degrees, they are back in force!) While I was out there, I checked the snow depth and found I'd picked up five inches of snow yesterday. I took a couple photos of the huge icicles I have.

Back inside, I called my snowplow guy (it's not that bad out there right now, but we are supposed to get another two inches of snow today. Since tomorrow is another working day, I thought: better safe than sorry!) Then it was back onto the bathroom. I washed all the walls and the ceiling to prep everything for painting.

It took two washings and three rinses to get all the crud off of them! In between, I took the Dutch oven from the fridge to warm my semi-finished soup back up. Once I was done with the bathroom washing, I finished the soup up and set it on the burner on low. Oh, BTW, I was making Leek and Potato soup.

So, it's almost 1:00 PM and still no snowplow guy. I put a whole pot of coffee on and waited for Jeremy. When Riese rang the doorbell, I asked if they minded driving their car into the garage (so the driveway would be empty for the snowplow guy to do his work). They said, "Sure" and pulled it in.

Now the moment of truth. I opened the birthday/Christmas present. The birthday present was a mid-sized Igloo cooler. This is actually great, as I only have a small one and a big one. The small one can only hold two of the frozen soup containers, so I have had to use the big one to take my soups out to my Mom's (which is a lot of overkill). This one looks like it could hold four or maybe even six containers! Thanks, guys!!!

But, what was the Christmas present inside? I know I've been wondering! It was about 2-3 pounds of veal bones!!! They had started out asking butchers (like I had) for bones and been laughed at (as I was). But, they found somebody online who delivered veal bones. So, Jeremy had them delivered to his work. I put my treasure into the fridge freezer, thanking them profusely.

They had an aggressive schedule to see all Jyl's relatives today, but did agree to try some soup. I cut up some of the Italian Rustic Bread and dished out four bowls of the soup (Riese was happier playing with the cats). They seemed to like it. They rinsed all the dishes and then had to take off (still no sign of the snowplow guy). I waved goodbye and closed the garage door just before 2:00 PM. It was only when I came back into the kitchen and smelled the coffee that I realized I never offered them any! Damn!

I changed back into my working clothes and started the last load of this weekend's laundry. I sanded the rough spots on the molding and the wooden towel bar. I swept the floor (for the third time today!) and then opened the primer. Once I had it stirred, I painted the molding and towel rack with a 2-inch foam brush.

I put the primer away and threw the brush in the trash. After checking I didn't have any paint on me, I got my book and headed for the couch. It was about 5:30 and still no snowplow guy!

I kinda figured I'd get a little nap in, but this was not to be. I had two phone calls and by the time I finished the second one it was almost time for my Sunday shows!

So, the pasties will have to wait another day. I grabbed some leftovers and turned on the TV. I turned it off at 10:00 PM and went to bed.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

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Big Mama icicle next to the chimney

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Don't be standing under my eaves when the thaw comes!

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Sunday breakfast: Mushroom and Onion Omelet

Sunday Morning, Over Easy

[This one got me thinking... Damn, I miss those days!]

Poems, Prayers and Promises
~ John Denver

I've been lately thinking about my life's time
All the things I've done and how it's been
And I can't help believing in my own mind
I know I'm gonna hate to see it end

I've seen a lot of sunshine slept out in the rain
Spent a night or two all on my own
I've known my lady's pleasures had myself some friends
And spent a time or two in my own home

I have to say it now it's been a good life all in all
It's really fine to have a chance to hang around
Lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire
While all my friends and my old lady sit and pass a pipe around

And talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone how right it is to care
How long it's been since yesterday what about tomorrow
And what about our dreams and all the memories we share

The days they pass so quickly now the nights are seldom long
Time around me whispers when it's cold
The changes somehow frighten me still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old

For though the life's been good to me there's still so much to do
So many things my mind has never known
I'd like to raise a family; I'd like to sail away
And dance across the mountains on the moon

I have to say it now it's been a good life all in all
It's really fine to have a chance to hang around
Lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire
While all my friends and my old lady sit and pass a pipe around

And talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone how right it is to care
How long it's been since yesterday what about tomorrow
And what about our dreams and all the memories we share

Molding, Prep Work and Pasties

I woke up at 6:40 AM and put a pot of coffee on. I went and posted the Blog while it was brewing.

I have to have an eye exam at 11:00 AM, so I can't really get into working on the bathroom this morning. So, I cleaned the house, instead. Jeremy and Jyl are supposed to drop by around 4:00 PM to give me my birthday and Christmas gifts.

At one point, I had all the kitchen chairs moved into the living room and was ready to wash the kitchen floor. I noticed Scruffy was just sitting and staring at the corner of the room. Weird! He reminded me of when they used to make kids sit in the corner at school, so I took a picture.

I had most of the house cleaned by 10:00 AM, when I took my shower. It was snowing hard when I left home and the streets were bad.

I was in and out of the eye doctors by 11:30. My prescription has changed a little, but my insurance won't pay for new glasses for another year. Since the lenses I have are all scratched up, I just ordered some ones ground to the new prescription to be put in my existing frames. It cost me $134.00 US, but it's worth it.

He did make me feel good when he said he can't see any sign of diabetes damage, but bummed me out by reminding me that my right eye can no longer be corrected with glasses to 20-20 (20-25 is the best he can do).

I stopped at Office Depot on the way home and bought one of those "Pay-as-you-go" T-Mobile cell phones. If you remember, I had to give up my company cell phone. It dawned on me that, while I do have AAA road assistance, if I broke down on the road, I now have no way to get through to them that doesn't involve hitchhiking to a pay phone (if I could even find one).

I don't need a cell phone plan, because my home phone (VOIP) is free to anywhere in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. So, this is just an emergency phone. I do need to read up on how I get it activated, etc. along with the 130 minutes I bought for another $25.00. But that can wait a bit.

Back home, I started working on the bathroom. I got the trim up on the inside of the door and around the shower. I stopped at 2:30 PM to make some soup for Jeremy's family. But, when I checked my email, he had canceled due to the snow (smart move) and rescheduled for Sunday at 1:00 PM. So, I stopped the soup at a good point and will finish (or refire, as Carla likes to say, lol) it tomorrow morning.

So, at 4:00 PM, I resumed work on the bathroom. This time I am filling in all the holes in the molding from the nail gun with spackling compound. I finished up at exactly 5:00 PM.

I started to make tonight's supper. I am making my Papa John's pasties (see recipe section). But, I was disappointed with my pie crust the last time. Jake turned me on to an America's Test Kitchen (a PBS show staring Chris Kimball) recipe that, oddly enough, uses 1/2 the water, but substituted with vodka!

Why? "Vodka does two things," Kimball said. First, "it does not react with proteins in flour to form gluten - because gluten means tough."
And since alcohol makes up nearly half of the vodka, it will evaporate as it cooks. "You can add more total liquid," Kimball said, but since the vodka will evaporate in the oven, "you end up with a dough that's light and flaky."

I got the flour, salt and sugar mixed with the ice-cold butter and shortening. Then I added in the vodka and water (I had that in the freezer, BTW) and made a disc. The disc was wrapped in Cling Wrap and put in the fridge.

So, the dough was in the fridge around 7:00 PM for the required 45 minutes (or up to two days). And, I was taking a break before cutting up the meat, potatoes, onions and rutabaga. That was my undoing. As soon as I sat down, I realized just how long it had been since I sat down! And, how nice it was to be off my feet.

I decided it was too late and I was too bushed to complete the pasties tonight. So, I made a grilled cheese sandwich and some Campbell's Cream of Tomato soup for my dinner. Okay, so my inner chef might wince when I do these kinds of meals (Tuna and peas or grilled cheese and tomato soup) but they are childhood memories and GOOD!!!

I did watch some of the taped Saturday morning cooking shows, but I really was tired and gave it up at 9:30 and went to bed.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Things I learn from watching cooking shows.

Okay, so it's Giada's show and she's making sushi. And, she casually mentions that, after opening sesame seed oil, you should put it in the fridge as it quickly becomes rancid. Horrified, I race to my pantry and open my little bottle of sesame seed oil (almost $4.00, imported from Japan and I used like half a teaspoon so far). Sure enough, it's bad!!! Why isn't this listed on the bottle??? It goes in the trash and is added to the grocery list. Sigh...

Another Hero Gone...

It was with great regret that I noted the passing of Ricardo Montalban who died this week at the age of 88. Few people would know this, but when I was a kid, I wanted to BE Ricardo Montalban!! I thought he was so cool, so suave and he had that killer accent (I still remember him talking about "fine, Corinthian leather" in some car commercial). I bet the angels in heaven are all over him, right now!

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When Scruffy's bad...

Quote of the Day

"There are no truths; there are only stories."

~Zuni Proverb

Pot Holes

Now anyone who's ever been to Michigan, especially in the early spring, has horror stories about our pot holes. And, they are all true! But we've recently acquired a new kind (at least new to me). It seems that the stuff that's in between each concrete lane of I-96 is coming out. This leaves a varying length of hole, roughly the width of your tire. So, changing lanes can be quite a jarring experience!

Freeze Your A** Friday!

I know, I know... I said I wasn't going to bring it up again, but it was -11 degrees F. this morning when I woke up! Coldest morning so far but the temps are supposed to get back to normal by Sunday.

I started thinking about living back on Palms Road, before we built the pole barn/garage. The little house was on a rise on the east side of the road. West and lower than us, on the other side of Palms Road, was Mr. Dupee's ranch-style house and behind that, farm fields. So, nothing blocked the wind!

When it was cold like this, I would put a 100-watt light bulb under the hood of my truck, next to the battery and pray it would start at 5:00 AM when I had to leave for work. And, there was also a light bulb in the well house to prevent it from freezing. In contrast to my life then, I've got it pretty easy, now.

I checked at 11:00 AM, when I was getting ready to leave for lunch and it had "warmed" up to -8. I had planned on stopping at the Home Depot for a few things I need, but decided it was too damn cold. They can wait!

We never did get to our predicted high of 8 degrees in Redford. We were at 6 degrees when I headed home, banging on that drum. I treated the cats and went back in the garage (which, I might point out must be well insulated, as the water on the floor still was not frozen) to grab some tools for tonight. Once back in the warmth, I changed clothes.

I waited and watched the news until the weather report. -5 tonight with a high of 17 degrees F. tomorrow (sounds positively balmy)! There's a slight problem with snow though: a predicted 2-4 inches here and more north of me.

So, I took some "before" pictures for the Blog of this weekend's project: putting up the trim and painting the downstairs bathroom. Then I did a little prep work. I took off the door and removed one hinge (the existing ones are rusty and have old paint on them). Next I carefully removed the old trim around the inside of the door and pulled out all the finish nails. Finally, I removed the old toilet paper holder (again, it has old paint on it).

I'll just replace the hinges but try and save the chrome toilet paper holder. I also have to replace both light switches and two plugs (they are cream and I need white).

So, it was getting late now and I'm hungry. So I made another salad and ate some of the leftover broccoli and sausage pasta. I started watching the Friday Night Fights, but fell asleep before they ended at 11:00 PM.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Oral Fixation

It was a bit warmer upon waking Thursday morning: 0 degrees F. But, today's high will only be 8 degrees F and today there will be wind. So, wind chill warnings are out.

I checked out other places and think I am going to have to stop complaining about the cold, though. Rogers, Minnesota, where my daughter Amy and her two Carls live, is supposed to have a high of -3 and a low of -20 degrees F. today!

And the place where this Alberta clipper came from? Where it's supposed to be so cold? Calgary (in Alberta, Canada and near where my friend Cathy lives) has a forecast high of 37 and a low of 27 degrees F. today! They apparently just sent all their cold air down here!!!

I stopped and filled up the car on the way into work. Apparently I was one day late as the price had increased 10 cents a gallon overnight. Sigh...

I left work around 4:00 PM to go to a dentist appointment for a cleaning and checkup. I told them that the two fillings they put in last time had fallen out when I called. The dentist checked and, sure enough, they had. So, I have another appointment on the 29th to get them fixed (which I thought would happen today).

Since I was already there, I stopped in the little market across the street for some unflavored gelatin and more mushrooms. It wasn't until I got home until I discovered I'd forgotten the tomato juice I need for Sunday's dinner!

I was not too ambitious once I got home. I did brave the elements to refill the suet cage and the bird feeder (although I haven't seen a bird or squirrel since it got so cold).

I also took some measurements in the downstairs bath for this weekend's project.

I made another salad of the red leaf lettuce, romaine heart, red onion slices and this time, I added radish slices. That, along with a bowl of the venison chili was dinner.

I watched the taped Top Chef, but after that, I decided to go to bed. So, I did.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

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Cavatelle pasta

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Rotelle pasta

Pasta night

According to the Weather Channel, it was -5 degrees F. (-20 degrees C.) when I woke up Wednesday morning! We are supposed to get 1-3 inches of snow today with a high of 11 degrees F. (or -11 degrees C.) Ah, winter in Michigan...

I went home at lunch through that same, insidious light small snow. This time, the car tires were packing it down and turning it into ice. I did see salt trucks here and there, but it's too cold for the salt to work properly.

I stopped at Westborn to pick up some herbs, mushrooms and to see if they carried cavatelli pasta (they didn't) Next, I stopped at Home Depot and bought the casing to go around the shower opening. I couldn't find any that matched the inside door casing, but luckily, one of the store assistants showed me a "contractor's bundle" that not only had enough for both doors but was much cheaper in price than buying the three pieces I needed for just the shower opening. Thanks, store guy!

The trip back home after work was just as slippery! I did take the expressway, in spite of checking the traffic reports online and finding a recent accident at my exit and Jake telling me that Carla called and said there were numerous spinouts (one right in front of her) on I-275. I never got over 50 mph, but I did make it to my exit and home safely.

Once inside, I treated the cats, turned on the Classic Rock station, changed clothes, fixed myself a drink, started the Wednesday night laundry and washed up the few dishes from lunch. I took out some sweet Italian sausage to thaw for dinner.

So, dinner. I have seen various recipes for this basic dish: Broccoli and Sausage Cavatelli. Now, cavatelli usually refers to small pasta shells that resemble tiny hot dog buns and are often served with thick, chunky sauces or in pasta salads. I will post a picture so you understand what I mean. I also know you can make them at home, but I am not that ambitious tonight.

So, I used substitute pasta that is also made to take on a thick sauce. In this case it was rotelle (Substitutes include orecchiette or gnocchetti or rotini or malloreddus). Rotelle is just like rotini, only about twice as long).

Now, I must admit, I have changed the original recipe a tad. It called for spicy (hot) Italian sausage. But I went with sweet Italian sausage, because (one) that's what I had and (two), spicy or hot Italian sausage is a bit too spicy for me! And, this one did not, but some of the recipes for this classic included mushrooms. And, you know me and mushrooms! So, they're in there

Sidebar: (6:30 pm). The classic rock station I was listening to just gave a traffic report (and I quote) "The roads are slicker than snot on a door knob".

Damn, now there's a mental picture, eh?

So, after the sweet Italian sausage thawed, here's what I did. I put it in a skillet on medium high with olive oil. I cooked it until it was no longer pink and then reserved it (with a slotted spoon) and drained the grease off. I saut�ed four cloves of minced garlic and eight ounces of sliced Cremini mushrooms in some olive oil in the same pan.

Meanwhile, I cooked the Rotelle pasta in some salted water. Three minutes before it would be cooked al dente, I added 16 ounces of frozen broccoli. When the timer went off, I drained the pasta and broccoli.

I combined the pasta, broccoli, sausage mushrooms, garlic and olive oil in a big bowl and added in 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. I seasoned it with some red pepper flakes. It was very, very good, BTW.

I watched TV until it got boring and then read a magazine that came yesterday. When I started nodding, I turned off the light and went to sleep.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday's Tale

Well, thankfully, the 2-4 inches of snow they predicted for Tuesday morning did not appear. I don't think we got even an inch of snow overnight. But, the winds did pick up and that damn cold is still coming. It was 28 degrees F. when I took the trash out to the road, but the temps are supposed to fall throughout the day until we get down to -2 degrees tonight... I can't wait to see my gas bill next month!

With all the snow melting off the car over the last few days, the garage had quite a big puddle in it. So, before I left for work, I backed the car out into the drive and, using a broom, swept the water out onto the apron. As my brother George once told me (and I have never forgotten) you can move a lot of water with a broom!

The temperature at noon was 20 degrees F. when I went home for lunch. Just as I was leaving to go back to work, a big snowplow went down the road and mounded up the snow in front of the drive. Now, normally when this happens, I learn about it later, when the plowed snow had had a chance to freeze. So, this time, I just kept pulling in and out of my drive, flattening the soft mound he made.

But, when I got back home at 5:20 PM, I noticed all the new plowed mound was gone (even my tire tracks from this afternoon! By the odd tire tracks, I'm guessing my neighbor plowed me out with his quad-runner. Thanks!

Once inside, I treated the cats and did a bunch of miscellaneous household chores (checked the mail, emptied the dishwasher, and so on). Next, I swept the kitchen and downstairs floors and finally, vacuumed both of the walk-off mats (one by the patio back door and the one next to the garage entrance).

For dinner I made a small salad of the red leaf lettuce and the Romaine hearts and some sliced red onions. As my main course, I warmed up a bowl of my bean soup I had thawed out yesterday.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday's Murder?

I stopped at Home Depot at lunch on Monday. I needed to pick up some more ice-melter. I still have some rock salt left, but that doesn't work well with very low temperatures, and we are heading for the deep-freeze later this week; highs only in the single digits and lows of 0 degrees F. to -2 below (-17 to -19 degrees C.)!!

I went out and shoveled a little around the mail box and the garage apron after eating lunch. We are supposed to pick up another 2-4 inches of snow overnight, with high winds (so a lot of blowing and drifting, too). Another Alberta clipper, they say, with that Artic cold behind it... (Thanks, Tsu!)

After work, when I drove past the Coney Island across from my house, I noticed a Channel 4 news truck, with its camera extended and pointed at my street. Yikes! What happened? A murder? A drive-by shooting? Once home, I immediately turned on Channel 4 news and waited with bated breath to see what was going on. While I was waiting, I started sorting through paid receipts for the last month (I have been ignoring them) and putting them in the appropriate folders in my file box.

Finally, almost an hour later, they did a piece on a black woman who (after much opposition from the Redford Planning Commission), was finally granted approval to open a plus-size sexy lingerie store across the vacant lot from me... Hmmm... not as interesting as a drive-by, but much safer, I suppose. Damn, I miss my old gang-banger buddies!!!

For dinner, I decided to go with Jake's suggestion of tuna and peas. I used my Mom's old recipe (although I doubled it for more leftovers). So, I warmed up two cans of drained tuna fish, two cans of cream of mushroom soup and 1 3/4 cups of frozen peas (I don't stock many canned veggies or it would have been two cans of those too). I cooked half a pound of extra wide egg noodles, drained them and added a little butter and fresh chopped parsley. I put the tuna mixture over the noodles and went in to finish watching the Friday night Fights.

When the fights were over, I switched to reading until I was sleepy, then went to bed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Deer and Goats

I woke up for real sometime after 8:00 AM (I am guessing, but it was light outside) on Sunday morning. I turned on the coffee pot Jake or Carla prepared Saturday night. By the time it was done, they both had gotten up, too.

We all had coffee and chatted a bit, and then I went and changed into my outdoor clothes. Jake pulled their car out so I could get mine out and I was headed home.

Still no sign of snow plowing or salting on even the major roads. When I finally pulled into my drive I was worn out from just worrying! It was just about 10:00 AM, BTW.

First thing I did after changing clothes and starting the last load of the weekend laundry was to call my snowplow guy. He said he'd be here in an hour or so and he was. When he finished he rang the doorbell. I went and asked him what I owed him. He said, "Give me a hundred bucks!" I said, "Hell, if I had a hundred bucks, I'd buy me a snow blower and wouldn't have to keep calling you!" He laughed and said, "Okay, then give me twenty dollars." So, I did.

I straightened up the house while waiting on the clothes dryer. With the laundry all hung up or folded and put away, I decided it might be a nice time for a nap. I lay down around 2:30 and woke up at 4:00 PM!

Refreshed, I went and started tonight's dinner, Venison Chili. I got the ground venison from Mark (a fellow hunter) at work. Because I know how lean venison is, I used another pound of regular hamburger to get some fat in there. Then I browned both in my Dutch oven.

Meanwhile, I diced a cup of yellow onions, a cup of green peppers, four cloves of garlic and three jalapeno peppers (that I seeded first). Once the meat was browned, they all went into the pot along with 1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder, two teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, one teaspoon of black pepper (freshly ground), 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1/8 teaspoon of ground coriander and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon. I stirred all that together and let it cook until the vegetables were soft (4-6 minutes).

Then I added on 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes (after squishing them up with my hands - one of my favorite things), three cups of beef stock and three of Joe and Kathy's beautiful bay leaves. I brought the pot up to a simmer and cooked it, partially covered for about 40 minutes (stirring occasionally).

I took that time to check with Lu and see how she was feeling. She's still sick (8 days later) but is on the mend. Thankfully, Sadie never caught it. I told her I was about to try her goat soap and she was thrilled (she's been hoping for some feedback).

After hanging up, I drained and rinsed five cans of cooked beans: Cannelloni, pinto, red kidney, black and great Northern beans. Those went into the pot and got stirred and I went into the shower.

So, I am trying her Waqua Creek Kids Rosemary and Oatmeal scrub. She had warned me there would not be as much lather as I was used to, but there seemed to be enough, to me. It certainly was abrasive and reminded me of the Lava soap we had when I was a kid. But, I did feel remarkably clean and fresh when I finished and my skin was very soft. I wouldn't want to use it everyday, but it did do the job!

So, then it was 8:00 PM and time for my Sunday night shows. I ate two bowls of chili for dinner and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

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Five Bean Venison Chili

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Sunday morning official snow depth at San Jose (6 inches) measured on top of the bird seed can

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Snow on top of the bird seed can

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Michael Symon

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Column Details on the Book Cadillac Hotel

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Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit

I MET MICHAEL SYMON!!!

[Ahem... the actual title of today's Blog post was supposed to be something like "My belated birthday's culinary adventures" but, I gushed, okay?]

I woke up at 7:00 AM and checked outside. It looks like we got about three inches of snow so far, but its still falling. So, I turned on the local news and listened to the weather report. Seems that the Alberta Clipper has stalled over Michigan and now the Severe Weather Warning has been extended northward as well. It supposed to snow all day and into tomorrow morning! Yikes!!!

But, as I said yesterday, I have errands to run. So, after two cups of fresh coffee, I took my shower and headed out. The roads were TERRIBLE!!! Nothing was plowed, nothing was salted. I made it to the barber at 9:00 AM exactly. After that, I went, slipping and sliding, to Westborn for my veggies.

I must admit, I have enjoyed trying to eat up the salad fixin's I had left over from the ladies visit. I am also trying to use up their store-bought salad dressings (they will go bad before the ladies return), although I must admit, I prefer a decent olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice over crisp greens as a dressing, personally.

So, I bought more Romaine hearts and some California red leaf lettuce for my coming week's salads.

Then, more slipping and sliding to get to Meijer's. I was shocked! There were so few people there, it was unbelievable! I got a parking space next to the entrance door and shopped with no mad crowds. For a Saturday, this was just too weird!

This snow is insidious, BTW. It is light and with very small flakes, so you would think its nothing, but after every stop, I had to clean off the snow and ice from the car windows before I could drive. This snow is relentless!

I was back at home before 11:00 AM. I treated the cats and put away the groceries. I did call Jake and told him he could reconsider tonight's journey (this is supposed to be the re-schedule of my birthday "mystery trip"). He said no, that things have been put into motion that cannot be stopped.

Hmmm... I am imagining they got me a hooker for the night, but that could just be wishful thinking...

With the groceries put away, it's time to tackle the headlights. So, I did. As I said, they are and were a pain in the butt. Eventually, though, I got them both in, tested and working!

Then I ate my breakfast/lunch: some scrambled eggs and an onion bagel with cream cheese. Next on my agenda was to take a nap. I have no idea what is going to happen tonight, but I know I don't want to fall asleep early!

I set my alarm for 3:30 PM. When it went off, I woke up and then shaved and showered for the second time today. I got dressed and then packed an overnight bag. I left for their house at 4:30 PM (I am supposed to be there by 5:00 and it's normally a 20 minute trip).

But, the roads were still awful! I don't think I ever got over 25 miles per hour and I didn't get there until 5:20 PM!!! They were already in their car, waiting. So, they pulled out and I pulled in, hopped in their car, and we went back out into the storm. We headed south until we caught I94 and then headed east to the "D" (Detroit). Again, even the expressways were not plowed or salted. Everybody just sorta made their own lanes and drove as fast (or slow) as they dared.

Jake kept giving me hints about where we were going, but it wasn't until he said "Picture a maniacal laugh and a soul patch" that I said, "Michael Symon?" But, that makes no sense. His two restaurants are in Cleveland!

It turns out that when they remodeled the historic Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, they approached him about opening up a restaurant here. Now included in the National Register of Historic Places, the Italian Renaissance-style hotel, built by Detroit's famous Book brothers, was the tallest building in Detroit and the tallest hotel in the world at its completion in 1924. I would bet my Mom remembers when it opened!

And, who is Michael Symon? Well, in 1997 he was named National Rising Star by Restaurant Hospitality magazine. And he has been rising ever since with a multitude of awards and critical acclaim for the two Cleveland restaurants he owns with wife and partner Liz Symon: Lola and Lolita. Last year Symon won the Food Network's Next Iron Chef of America competition and was recently nominated by the James Beard Foundation for 2007 Best Chef-Great Lakes region that includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. His menu focuses on the art of sourcing and preparing artisanal and heritage meats. Iron Chef America is, of course, one of my favorite Sunday night shows and how I know him.

When we got there, the normal entrance to the hotel was clogged with photographers, Germans and police. It was the arrival of the top echelon of the Mercedes Company for the Auto show. So, we were redirected to another entrance.

Once inside and after a very necessary bathroom break, we made our way through the milling crowds to "Roast," Michael's restaurant. Where we were seated gave us a perfect view into the open kitchen.

Jake ordered our appetizers: Beef Cheek Pierogies (Horseradish and Mushrooms) and the Roasted Marrow (Sea Salt, Oregano, Capers and Chilies). The Roasted Marrow was outstanding! It was about an 8-inch bone, split in half. You dug out the marrow with little spoons and put it on thin slices of toast, topping it with the capers and chilies and a spray of lemon juice. While we were eating that, Jake pointed out that Michael Symon had just stepped out of the kitchen!

Now, as you probably already know, most big-name chefs are NOT in the kitchen cooking or even in the place at all (like when we went to Wolfgang Puck's restaurant). But, here he was! He stopped and chatted at a few tables and then made his way into the bar. Carla left for the bathroom and she returned with Michael in tow.

I have never really understood the term "star-struck" until that moment. I did manage to say, "I'm John" when he shook my hand and said, "Hi! I'm Michael." But that was it! I just gaped at him. Even at this moment, I am kicking myself and thinking of clever things I should have said, but, at that moment, nothing! He complimented us on our choice of the roast marrow (he said it was his favorite dish) and finally moved on.

Speaking of moving on, I better. So, here's what we each had to eat (after the appetizers, of course):

Carla -

Mixed Green Salad (Shaved Onion, Grape Tomatoes and Red Wine Vinaigrette), Roast Burger (Bacon, Cheddar & a Fried Egg) and a side of Rosemary Fries.

Jake -

Roast Chop Salad (Chick Peas, Pickled Peppers, Salami, Taleggio, Creamy Dressing), Braised Lamb Shank (Gremolata, Fennel & Tomato) and a side of Soft Polenta.

Yours truly -

Warm Spinach Salad (Fried Egg, Mushrooms, Bacon, and Crispy Pig Ear), Roasted Beast of the Day (this time it was a suckling pig. Jake had it before and it was a roasted goat that he said was excellent) and also a side of the Soft Polenta.

And, yes, I did say a pig's ear. It was cut in a julienne and fried. Sadly, it was too crunchy for my mouth, but I did manage to eat one and it was delicious. In fact, everything was delicious, but way too much food. We ended up getting our remaining food boxed and then we left. It was a fantastic experience for a Foodie!!!

Back on the roads and they hadn't improved with time (well, it was still snowing). Sadly, in talking about the evening, we all realized that the only ones we could tell that would really appreciate just what it meant to us were all in the same damn car!

Finally we got back home, safe and sound and still stuffed. We all changed into more comfortable clothes and then began the second half of the evening's culinary entertainment: We watched the movie Ratatouille. [It's an animated film about a rat in Paris who become a great chef, Mom]

When that was done, so were we, so we all headed off to our respective beds.

Thanks again, guys!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

T.G.I.F. (maybe)

We are supposed to get slammed tonight with a major winter storm. Places north of here like where my Mom or B___ live are supposed to get 2-5 inches of snow and even less where Jeremy lives. The prediction for me and, say, Jake and Carla's houses is 6-12 inches!

On the one hand, its good that's it's the weekend and I don't have to try and get to work, no matter what. On the other hand, I have a 9:00 AM appointment with my barber for a one-week overdue haircut that I desperately need. And, there's all the Saturday, payday, errands (mostly grocery shopping, which I also desperately need) to do.

Also, I may have mentioned (I admit I haven't checked) that on Monday or Tuesday, my left low-beam headlight burned out. So, I figured I'd wait until the weekend and get a replacement bulb. Why wait? Because, like most modern day cars, it's a pain in the butt to replace. You can barely get your hand down between the battery (on the left side) or the windshield washer fluid container (on the right) and the headlights.

Well, this morning, as I turned on the car to go to work, the right side headlight came on, flared brilliantly for a second and then died! Uh, oh... So, I headed to work in the dark without any headlights! Now, I know that Plymouth Road is brilliantly lit for most of the way. So, I kept on it until about Newburgh road. That's where all the street lights end. So, then I turned on my high beams (pissing off enumerable drivers) and drove the rest of the way to work.

Now, should I be upset that the low-beams burned out? Nope! On a Volvo, the low beams are on (whether you want them to be or not) any time you turn on the car (it's a safety thing. Damn Swedes!)

So, at lunch, I stopped at Kroger's and got about half of my two weeks grocery shopping done. Then I stopped at Murray's Auto and bought two new headlight bulbs. I barely got home and unpacked before I had to turn around and head back to work.

I forgot to mention that the snow started around 11:00 AM. It was light and didn't seem too bad at the time. When I went out at 5:00 PM, it took a good five minutes to scrap the ice off the car windows. I headed home, slipping and sliding on the surface streets and the expressway. It took me twice as long as usual to get home!

Once I was home, I emptied my pockets, changed from my dress shoes to my Crocs, checked the mail and the voicemail on the phone and waited to warm up a bit.

I took and made some calls and noticed that, while sitting on the couch all warm and cozy, my resolve to install the headlights in the cold garage tonight was rapidly waning. I mean, I got all weekend, right? So, comfort eventually won over duty.

I wanted to use up the last of the mashed potatoes, so I turned them into potato cakes. I noticed (too late) I didn't add enough flour so they were good but a little mushy.

I watched taped TV, waiting for the Friday Night Fights. I started watching them but fell asleep (since I was also recording them, this was annoying, but not a big deal). When the bathroom call came, I shut everything off and went to sleep.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Coq au vin soup

It snowed both yesterday and overnight. It was not enough to be a real problem, just enough to be a nuisance.

Another busy day at Spacely Sprockes. I had to run an errand after work, so I didn't get home until 5:45 PM. But, this time I have my dinner with me! No, not take out. Jake brought me some of his chicken soup (or something) to try.

Jake and Carla had made Coq au vin (French for "rooster in wine") over the weekend. Coq au vin is traditionally a French fricassee of chicken cooked with wine, bacon lardons, mushrooms, and optionally garlic, BTW. Jake mentioned he purposely used less liquid than called for so it would be thicker. After they had eaten their fill, Jake deboned the chicken and strained the stock (he said it was fantastic!) He used that to make chicken soup, but without the usual mirepoix (normally two parts onion, one part carrot and one part celery), just chicken, and bow-tie pasta.

They put the leftovers into containers for lunches, etc. When they were ready to take some to work, Carla noticed that the noodles had sucked up a lot of the stock (much like my barley soup) so she cautioned Jake to add water to it. But, at work, he heated his up without adding the water, thus creating what he described as a delicious chicken and pasta with gravy dish. He raced to call Carla to tell her NOT to add the water, but alas, it was too late. She just had more chicken noodle soup.

He wanted me to try it, so he brought some in. I picked it up after work. He suggested I might want to add some veggies to it (where was this when I had all that broccoli left from the damn salad fixin's?) But, as I reflected on these events driving home, I decided that maybe a handful of frozen peas would be nice. So, that will be my dinner for tonight.

And what dinner it was! I didn't have to season it at all and I don't think the peas added much (except a nice "pop" in your mouth when you chewed). I must admit, he probably gave me enough for two meals, but I ate it all at once. It was perfect. Thanks!

So, with a full tummy, I went and watched TV until bedtime.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday

Well, I listened to the weather while getting dressed for work (as I always do) and they scared the crap out of me with talk of freezing rain, black ice and accidents too numerous to count. But, when I left for work, the roads here (at least) were just wet.

It was a very busy day at work, and by the time I got home, I was tired. So, the only work I did was the Wednesday night wash.

I was stumped what to make for dinner until Jake had suggested tuna and peas over noodles (a personal, comfort-food favorite of mine). Imagine my dismay to learn I didn't have any cream of mushroom soup!

So, I scrounged around the fridge, looking for inspiration. I found a whole container of white button mushrooms that was starting to get old. So, I sliced them thick and saut�ed them in butter (plus a pinch of salt to help release their moisture). I am not sure of the nutritional value, but that was my dinner (and, it was good!)

I fell asleep watching Top Chef (not to worry, it was being recorded, too). When I woke up for a bathroom break, it was midnight, so I turned everything off and went to sleep.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Garbage Day of 2009

It was bitter cold this morning (6 degrees F. or -30 degrees C.) when I took out the trash. The only good news was there was no wind.

When I got home I took my mini-level and put it on the stove. When she was here and admiring the tile work, Lu has asked if it was the tiles or my stove that wasn't level (she was seated at the kitchen table at the time). I leaned over to see it from her point of view and by God, she was right! Something's weird! After they left, I checked with my small level and the stove is off.

So, I asked Jake at work if he leveled his stove (he bought a similar model when they moved in) and, if so, what size wrench did you need to adjust the legs. He said he did, but couldn't remember using a wrench or the size.

Once home, I pulled the stove out. YUCK!!! The side of the stove and the side of the cabinet both had spilled crap on them! I got a 3/4-inch board and shoved it under the stove with my foot, while I picked it up. I put on the level and it was just a little bit high, now. So, I checked the legs (they turned easily by hand, so no wrench was required) and turned them down to the floor, then backed them both off one-half a turn.

I picked up the stove a bit, and kicked out the support board. I checked the level and it was dead nuts!

Sidebar: As a cancer survivor whose treatment of choice was to have radiation seeds implanted in my prostate, thus toasting any chance of fathering any further children (I figured I have four "perfect" kids already, right?), it shouldn't matter... But, the phrase "dead nuts" makes me really feel ogley!

Let's change that to "perfectly level"...

So, I got out my trusty Formula 409 and did the stove and the cabinet side. While I was at it, I did the pantry doors (those and the overhead fan were the only things I didn't get done before my Christmas guests arrived). I pushed the stove back into place, sat where Lu had been sitting and it looked perfect! A quick check with the level confirmed my theory.


I thought long and hard about the overhead fan (I'm tired and don't really feel like dealing with it) but eventually, I gave in. I used a kitchen chair to raise me up and did each blade with 409 and paper towels until they were free of grease and cat hair.

So, it's after 7:00 PM and I am ready for dinner. I was intrigued after reading the brochure that came with the herbs from my Brother Joe and Kathy for a farmer's omelet. This was the first recipe I ever saw that asked me to rehydrate the dried herbs!

So, I put a tablespoon of the Parisien Bonnes herbes in a little dish with water to cover. After five minutes, I removed the excess water, pressing the herbs with my fingers. I sauteed the last of the broccoli florets (salad fixings) in olive oil and butter and then added some onions.

I whisked six large eggs with 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, some salt, pepper and the re-hydrated herbs and added them to the pan. I topped this with another 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and put the pan in a preheated 350 degree oven, per the recipe (I would call this a frittata, not an omelet, BTW). I baked it for 15 minutes until the cheese was nicely browned.

Tasted good, but it was way too much food. So, most went into the fridge for lunches.

I watched TV for a while but went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First full work-week of the New Year!

If I sound excited going back to work, it's just that I feel safer there, LOL!

Lunch was another trip to Lowe's. This time it was for furnace filters, replacement blades for the razor knife, a set-screw, some sandpaper and "D" cell batteries. My old faithful emergency flashlight never failed but I did use it a lot, so I thought I should get a fresh charge for the next emergency.

Back home, Lu called to say they just got back home (Three days?!?). Turns out, despite my precautions, she came down with my cold (or infection or whatever the heck it was) so they took the trip home in slow stages. Sorry... I tried...

I washed my bedding and the sheets on the office daybed.

I made a salad and warmed up the rest of my thawed spaghetti and meatballs. I ate my dinner watching TV, but tired of that. I was tired of reading, too. I was just tired, really, so I went to sleep.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Big Break (through)

Sunday

I got up off and on all night, so I didn't get out of bed Sunday morning until 8:00 AM. I warmed up a cup of coffee and turned on Sunday Morning, Over Easy.

After posting the Blog I had another cup of coffee, trying to determine if we did get freezing rain here yet (I can't tell from inside!) The Weather Advisory is in effect until 4:00 PM.

I gave up and washed last night's dishes. I noticed that the bird feeder is still full, but no birds are eating. I'm guessing the seed is clogged up or something. So, I got dressed (my shower will come after I snake the damn drain again).

I went outside and fixed the feeder and replaced the suet. Then I walked around, picking up fallen branches. Finally, I walked out and got the Saturday mail (nothing but flyers - I already miss those Christmas cards!) Oh, yeah, no sign of any freezing rain here, yet. I got a small steak out of the chest freezer in the garage to thaw for tonight's dinner.

Back inside, I decided it was time to take down this year's Christmas decorations. But, I realized you folks never got a chance to see them. So, I took some pictures and posted them for you. Pretty sparse this year, but I blame that on the tile...

So, just after noon, everything was wrapped, boxed, and taped and then put back up into the attic.

I did the weekly Blog backup (missed it last week!) and realized I was hungry. So, I warmed up the leftover sausage gravy and split some biscuits. I ate that watching some taped TV show.

Then, I went back to trying to snake out the drain (again!) I got the damn thing a lot further than every before, so I was hopeful. I out the drain back together and took off my dirty clothes. I shaved and showered upstairs. Why? Well, this time I want to clean the soap scum off the glass doors (something that was on the list to do BEFORE the ladies showed up, but never got done).

So, after my shower, I ran downstairs to find yet another lake on the floor. Discouraged, I came back upstairs and washed the shower doors. I went back downstairs to get a sponge and, just as I did, the floor drain gave up a big bubble and all the water rushed down it!!! I ran back upstairs and flushed the toilet. I rushed back downstairs and flushed that one. I did both toilets two more times and still no water on the floor! Could I have finally broken through? Only one way to find out!! I started a super load of laundry. If this makes it through the drain, I think I may be back in business!!

I called my Mom at 3:00 PM to see how she was doing. She's fine, enjoying the vegetable soup today and a piece of the summer sausage with crackers each day for her afternoon snack. I did apologize for not being able to mail her the Blog last Monday, but she said she will be looking forward to the Two-Week Blog next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Well, the wash went through both rinses without any floor drain issues! Now I just have on hell of a mess downstairs to mop up! So, I got started...

By 5:00 PM, the downstairs shower, bathroom and main room floor are cleaned up from all the crap the overflowing drains left. I am a happy (albeit tired) guy! I checked my voice mail and found my brother Joe had called when I was talking to my Mom. Our niece, Laura, had her baby today at 12:52 PM. She was a little baby girl (8 pounds, 6 ounces) named Anna (for my sister). Congratulations!!!

My daughter Melissa called just after 5:00 PM. She, too, had gotten sick between Christmas and new years, so we exchanged war stories. She hung up around 6:00 and I read for a bit more. I am just finishing re-reading one of Jake's favorite books as a lad, "Hatchet."

At 6:30 PM, I cut up about six big Yukon Gold potatoes into cubes and started them cooking in cold, salted water. I took the rest of the cauliflower florets (from the salad fixings) and put them in a pot with the steamer basket.

Then I seasoned the rib steak with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides. I put a little canola oil in the cast iron pan and heated it up until it was screaming hot. I dropped the steak in for four minutes per side (its about one-inch thick). When it was done, so was the steamed cauliflower. I plated and covered the steak with tin foil and then put it in the microwave to rest. I drained the cauliflower and put it back in the pot to wait for the potatoes.

When the potatoes were fork tender (using a fork, of course, lol), I drained and then mashed them using some butter, one egg and some heavy whipping cream (I am out of milk). I put a pat of butter on the steak, another on the cauliflower and a third on the mashed potatoes. I seasoned the cauliflower with salt, and the mashed potatoes with salt and fresh ground pepper.

I took my plate into the bedroom and proceeded to eat (watching taped TV shows), waiting for my Sunday night favorites. Great dinner, BTW. Steak was perfectly cooked and the sides, while nothing fancy, were my idea of good comfort food.

I shut off the TV and went to be at exactly 11:00 PM.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

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Christmas 2008 - Top of the barrister bookcase

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Christmas 2008 - Top of the ice chest

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Christmas 2008 - This years tree and a real poinsettia (you can also see Melissa's gift and the Gnome door from Sadie and Lu)

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Christmas 2008 - Fake poinsettia in the corner

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Christmas 2008 - North end table

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Christmas 2008 - South end table

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Christmas 2008 - Mantle

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I thought you might be interested in seeing my herb and spice collection

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My short, but good, biscuits.

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The White Sausage Gravy

Saturday's Saga

I woke up at 7:00 AM on Saturday and made some coffee. I decided on a brunch rather than breakfast, so I took out a roll of pork sausage and a container of the meatballs and sauce (for tonight's dinner) to thaw. Next, I made up this weekend's rather sparse ToDo list (I need a break, man!) and posted the Blog. I also replied to a lot of comments and personal emails.

It dawned on me that I was unable to send the Blog to my Mom last Monday (no computer), so I now owe her two week's worth. Since the magic button the Webmaster made only pulls up one week's worth of Blog to send to her, I needed to cut and paste a few days worth of them and the associated comments into a Word document. Get ready for a mini-series Blog, Mom!

I can now also use my camera again, so I took a couple of pictures and posted them for you.

I ran the laundry through the final rinse (no lake, just a big puddle) and threw the clothes in the dryer.

Around noon, I put the thawed pork sausage in my cast iron pan to brown it and proceeded to make white sausage gravy. Jake called to see how I was feeling. I told him I was making White Sausage Gravy using my recipe but using his favorite recipe for the biscuits. He said, "There's a recipe for that gravy?"

Well, it is pretty simple: Once the pork sausage is browned, you transfer it to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat. To the fat you add two tablespoons of flour and cook it for a minute or two. While whisking you add in two cups of milk and bring that up to a boil. You lower the heat and simmer for two more minutes. Add the sausage back in and season liberally with black pepper.

Meanwhile, I started making some biscuits. Now, I make my share of biscuits, but the "work the butter into the flour until its pea-sized" part is always a pain. This recipe substitutes heavy cream for the butter and is a breeze!

You whisk together two cups of flour, two teaspoons of sugar, two teaspoons of baking powder and one half teaspoon of salt. Then you stir in one and one half cups of heavy cream. You stir that until the dough forms (about 30 seconds) and then put the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Either roll it or just pat it into a 3/4-inch circle (here's where I messed up! I rolled mine too thin) and then cut out with a biscuit cutter (I don't have one. I still use my trusty little mushroom can.)

You put them on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper (I skipped that step) and into an oven, preheated to 450 degrees F. until golden brown (about 15 minutes.

So, mine came out too thin and not as cool as Jake's. But, they were still delicious, especially topped with the gravy!!

I was checking the TV guide when I saw an old favorite of mine, Thunderheart (a 1992 film starring Val Kilmer about contemporary Indians), so I watched that (I told you I was taking a break!)

Since I ate breakfast so late, I didn't make my dinner until 8:00 PM. I just reheated the meatballs and sauce while I cooked 1/2 pound of vermicelli. I mixed the two and bingo! Instant dinner!!

I read on the couch for a while and then took my book in the bedroom. When I got sleepy, I turned off the light and said goodnight to the cats.