Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday (all day) Over Easy...

I woke up just after 7:00 AM on Sunday. I turned on the radio (Sunday Morning Over Easy) and made a fresh pot of coffee. Then I posted the Blog entry (it's hard to write when you didn't really "do" anything...)

At 9:00 AM, I had an incredible urge to smoke a cigarette. So, I dug out my year-old pack of stale Pall Malls and lit one up with a cup of coffee, sitting on the couch. Now, normally I would have smoked out on the porch (I do this two or three times a year). But, the temperature was right at freezing and frost covered everything. So, I stunk up the house, instead...

I stripped the bedding and started the Sunday wash. I got a few more items checked off the ToDo list, but my heart wasn't really in it. It was dreary and rained off and on most of the day. I did manage to get the holiday decorations down from the attic. I hung up the sled and Father Christmas out on the front porch.

I read a lot on the couch after making and eating a turkey sandwich for lunch. I had just enough turkey left to heat up (with the rest of the other leftovers) for Sunday dinner. At 7:00 PM, I started warming up the food. So, I had Thanksgiving Dinner all over again and, you know, I was pretty thankful. It still tasted great!

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and then turned on a Lewis Black special I'd taped about surviving the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year's. It had a ton of other comedians, as well, and was pretty funny. I watched that until 11:30 PM and then went to sleep.

It had been a nice four-day weekend!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Morning, over Easy

[I first heard this song in a smoky lounge in a Mt. Clemens hotel in 1974. It was played by a husband and wife team with a back-up band. The wife sang the lyrics and beat time with a tambourine while her husband played an acoustic guitar. I didn't know at the time this was a Bernie Taupin/Elton John song. But, I still can recall her haunting voice...

And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City
Until you've seen this trash can dream come true
You stand at the edge while people run you through
And I thank the Lord there's people out there like you
I thank the Lord there's people out there like you

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can't and that is why
They know not if it's dark outside or light

This Broadway's got
It's got a lot of songs to sing
If I knew the tunes I might join in
I'll go my way alone
Grow my own, my own seeds shall be sown in New York City
Subway's no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found

[repeat chorus]

And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City
Subway's no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found

[repeat chorus]

Ummm... Blue, no Purple Saturday!

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. Hmmm... if yesterday was Black Friday, what color is today?

I wrote and then posted the Blog entry. Next I wrote out the ToDo list for the remainder of this weekend. I shaved and showered, then left to get my hair cut.

I was back home by 10:00 AM. I looked long and hard at that ToDo list but I decided to watch a few of my Saturday morning cooking shows, instead. I made myself a turkey sandwich for brunch (Damn that smoked turkey tastes wonderful!)

My daughter Melissa called around 2:00 PM and we talked and talked (Mom was right!) When we finally hung up, I looked at the ToDo list again but after that sitting on the couch and having a drink or two (or was it five?) I was NOT inspired to work. Instead, I went to my Grandmother's barrister bookcase and got out a beloved old book. It's called "Scouting on Two Continents," written by Major Frederick Russell Burnham, published in 1926 and was given to me some twenty or thirty years ago by my Mother.

It details his life as a scout, both in the American Southwest and then in the wars in Africa. I found it fascinating as a kid and still do today. I made myself another turkey sandwich and headed to bed to do some serious reading.

Eventually I fell asleep. I woke up after 8:00 PM. I turned on the computer and had an email from Jake (no message, just the subject line: "Your meat's in the freezer!") I checked and it was! Caley also thought it was important to run into the garage. I tried for several embarrassing attempts to get her and then said, "Screw you, B*tch!! You want to be in the garage, you can just stay in the garage!"

Anyway, I want to thank Jake and Carla for dropping off this year's beef. I apologize for being asleep (blame it on your sister Melissa). I hope the Halls are doing well. I do have some friends and neighbors here, but nothing like I had back in St. Clair.

Oh yeah, back to Caley...

I let her meow piteously for a while and then finally relented and opened the garage door. She shot back into the house, jumped on the bed and stayed there the rest of the night.

Me? I made another turkey sandwich, with two more pepperoncini and read my book until I fell asleep for the night (at page 163). That makes like five sandwiches so far! Did I mention Jake was very generous with his leftovers?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday

I woke up on Friday morning at the usual time, not necessarily bright eyed and bushy tailed.

I posted the Blog entry and then went back to bed. I woke up for real at 10:30 AM. I checked my outside thermometer and it was 35 degrees F. (with a pretty strong wind); Nothing that inspired me to get outdoors!

So, instead, I warmed up some of yesterday's coffee and ate the pumpkin cheesecake for breakfast. OMG! Yumo!! Now I wish I hadn't fallen asleep so I could have eaten a piece last night! It tasted like pumpkin pie, only much, much lighter.

I had to run out and buy some more postage stamps, so I stopped at a nearby little market and paid too much for some Miracle Whip and white bread. Why Miracle Whip when I only use Hellmann's Mayonnaise? It's probably something from my childhood, but a turkey sandwich never tastes "right" unless it's on white bread with Miracle Whip and lots of salt.

Back home, I made a sandwich and added a couple of pepperoncini to the plate. It tasted so damn good I made another one and used the last two pepperoncini. So, displaying a huge amount of inner strength, I put off eating the next sandwich until I opened a fresh jar of pepperoncini, took out two and replaced them with three cloves of garlic and added some Italian herbs. I screwed the lid on tight, shook up the jar and put it in the fridge to get cold. Then, and only then, did I eat the second sandwich!

I watched TV off and on while doing chores. There was a "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" marathon on the Food Network. I watched that until 7:30 PM, when I switched to an uncut version of the "Ninth Gate," one of my favorite Johnny Depp movies. Then I switched back to the Food Network until bedtime.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Recipe for Carla's Cranberry Dipping Sauce

Cranberry Dipping Sauce:

- 2 cups frozen cranberries
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- Pinch cayenne pepper

In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, strawberries, sugar and orange juice. Bring to a slight simmer over low heat. Cook until the cranberries pop, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the cayenne pepper and simmer for an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow
to cool. Add to a blender and puree the sauce until velvety and smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl.

From Aaron McCargo, Jr.

http://preview.tinyurl.com/cranberrydippingsauce

Happy Thanksgiving!

I slept in on Thanksgiving (it was another rough night) and finally got out of bed at 8:00 AM.

I cleaned up the mess from last night's dinner and made a pot of coffee. Then I started watching the Detroit Thanksgiving Parade. When it ended I started the mid-week wash.

My sister-in-law Jean called but the voicemail picked up before I could. So, I called her back. Since I was already on the couch with the phone book in my hand, I decided to call the rest of my immediate family and wish them Happy Thanksgiving, too.

I mostly talked to voicemail, but I did get a chance to talk with my daughter Amy, and my brothers Jim and Joe and their wives. Then I decided to take a nap. Big mistake!!!

I woke up at 3:30 PM (and I was supposed to be at Jake and Carla's at 2:00) I gave them a quick call and then jumped in the shower. I dressed as fast as I could (I even forgot to put my belt on) and hit the road. I arrived there two hours and three minutes late (as Carla reminded me periodically throughout the rest of the day).

I did remember the wine, though. My job this year was to bring wine, so I had checked with the sommelier at the Wine Palace nearby as to what would go with turkey, stuffing, etc. He suggested a German wine, Gewurztraminer and/or a French wine, Beaujolais Nouveau (made and sold only around Thanksgiving).

For after dinner, he suggested Korbel champagne. So, I had bought all three yesterday and had them in the car (Thank God!)

As late as I was, they were still putting the final touches on dinner (or they held off until I showed up). So, while I talked with them and petted the dog, they got the dinner ready.

The dinner consisted of:

* A huge fresh turkey Jake smoked outside for hours
* Carla's mother's recipe for cornbread stuffing
* A side dish of Parmesan green beans and kale
* Roasted acorn squash (but peeled and cut into cubes before roasting)
* Cranberry dipping sauce (I loved that stuff - I kept dipping pieces of turkey in it)
* Mashed potatoes (run through a ricer)
* Homemade turkey gravy
* And, pumpkin cheesecake for dessert

It was fantastic!

And, the wine? Jake liked the Beaujolais Nouveau (he thought the Gewurztraminer was too sweet). I liked the Gewurztraminer (I don't normally like "sweet" but I thought it had a nice spicy back-taste). And I don't remember hearing Carla's preference...

After dinner, they began to clean up and I was relegated to the couch. In spite of my early afternoon nap, I fell asleep again for about 1 1/2 hours (turkey always does that to me). They asked if I wanted to watch a movie or go home. Since it was like 7:30 PM and dark outside, I chose going home.

Jake had a huge leftover bag for me. I made my goodbyes and asked that they tell Carla's Mom I said hello (the number I'd called this morning was disconnected).

I got home just in time to get my friend B__'s Thanksgiving call. I explained my dinner and he, too, was interested in getting Carla's cranberry dipping sauce recipe (Come on girl, cough it up!) I was a little upset over how he categorized my visit, though. He said it sounded like a "drive-by" because I arrived late, ate the food, then went to sleep and then went home. I hope that's not how Jake and Carla viewed it.

Back home, I was too wide awake to sleep so I stayed up until 2:00 AM and then finally went to bed...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wet Wednesday

It was warm and wet Wednesday morning. Showers had gone through when I was sleeping, but it wasn't raining on my way into work.

I went out at lunch time to the Laurel Park Place Mall and bought my Franklin Planner refill for this year. I had a superstitious hunch that if I tried to save the money and NOT buy it (like I have for over 20 years), I'd be laid off next year. Who knows?
Superstition may yet rule the day!

I had an errand to run after work so I didn't get home until 5:45 PM. I treated the cats and then opened the mail. I reworked my checkbook to add in the cost of the 2010 Franklin Covey pages and added the new Redford Water and Sewer bill to my spreadsheet.

For dinner, I cut up the last of the roast beef into 1/2-inch chunks. I cooked up some white rice and let that set. I added the roast beef to some Chop Suey vegetables and made a Beef Chop Suey.

I topped the rice with the Beef Chop Suey, added some good soy sauce and went in to watch some TV until bedtime.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Teeter Totter

[Please note: I received this as a late-night email in paragraph form as a random thought from a friend. I tinkered with it just a little and made it a poem.]

Teeter Totter

When young, the playground was a magical place
huge machines all waiting to be controlled
spun and swung, twisted and turned

There came a time when the teeter totter stopped
I was no longer looking up at the limitless sky
but rather staring down at the dirt

The teeter totter won't be going down again
Perhaps there's a spare shovel
so I can earn my way into this potter's field

Highs and Lows on Tuesday

I woke up with the alarm at 6:30 AM on Tuesday. I threw on some clothes and took the garbage out. Back inside, and a little chilled, I put on a pot of coffee. I shaved and showered and then drank coffee watching the morning news.

I left for therapy at 8:45 AM. This was supposed to be my last day there for my shoulder, and it is. But, now I have to have an evaluation and therapy on my leg!!! So, I'll be back there next week...

From there I drove over to St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia. I went through the usual outpatient rigamarole and finally got several x-rays of my pelvis, right hip and right leg. Back home, I changed from my therapy clothes to my dress shirt and pants and then went into work at about 10:30 AM. I have to put in four hours today and eight tomorrow, since I no longer get Holiday pay. So, I left work at 2:30 PM.

I got in the mail and found a cooking magazine. So, since I didn't sleep all that well last night, I decided to read it on the bed, hoping for a nap. I changed my clothes and started reading.

I gave up at 4:30 PM. I had several big yawns, but never fell asleep. So, I got out the vacuum and cleaned up Caley's hair from the living room rug. Then I pulled down the attic stairs and carried the last two garden hoses up there (there's not room in the garage for them this year).

Since I was up there anyway, I got down the four-foot Christmas tree. I set it in the living room on the newly cleaned carpet, awaiting its decorations.

I made dinner, then. I mixed up the remaining four cups of mashed potatoes with an egg and some flour, heated up some oil in my medium-sized skillet and fried up Fran's potato cakes. While they were draining, I thinly sliced some of the roast beef, topped them with the last of the gravy and warmed them in the microwave.

I was going to eat this watching TV, but there was nothing interesting on. So, I popped in a DVD: "The Long Kiss Goodnight," a movie starring Geena Davis that Jer and Jyl gave me several years ago.

When the movie was over, I turned off the TV and went back to my magazine until bedtime.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hard to Blog about Monday...

Work on Monday seemed to take all day (oh, wait... it did!) Monday night was just as unremarkable, except my friend Leon called me back.

Since we hadn't talked since his birthday back in February, it took a while to catch up. When we finally hung up, it was late and I was tired, so I just ate leftovers for dinner. I watched some taped TV and then went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Low and Slow on Sunday

After posting the Blog entry on Sunday morning, I went back to bed. Hey, it was still dark, I was tired and why not? I woke back up about 8:00 AM. When I looked out the kitchen window, there was fog so thick I couldn't see the rear wall! I guess I should stop saying how that never happens here in Redford!

I checked the recipe I had for Slow-roasted beef (America's Test Kitchen) and found I'd made a mistake. Well, it's all kinda sketchy at this point, anyway. I'm supposed to be using a 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 bottom boneless eye-round roast. Instead I have the only roast left from last year's beef purchase, a 2 1/2 pound beef tip roast.

But I was supposed to heavily salt it, wrap it in cling wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for 18 - 24 hours. So, I took off the netting and salted it, wrapped it up and stuck it back in the fridge.

Then I spent some time cleaning up from last night's dinner. I filled and then ran the dishwasher and took apart the stove top (that two-burner griddle pan always messes up stuff). I washed the drip pans, dried them and got the stove put back together, fueled by yesterday's coffee.

I warmed up a hot dog for my lunch, put it on a bun with mustard and onions and ate that watching a movie.

About 4:00 PM, I started making the roast. I rinsed off the salt and patted it dry with paper towels. Then I rubbed it with two teaspoons of black pepper. I put some oil in my skillet and browned it on all sides (in spite of the microwave fan and having the kitchen window open, I still managed to set off the smoke detectors!)

Then I put the roast in an 8 x 8 aluminum pan and into the oven that was preheated to 225 degrees F. I inserted the meat thermometer probe in it and set the temperature for 115 degrees.

While that was roasting, I prepped the mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts. I was gonna roast the Brussels sprouts, but that takes a 400 degree oven and I am going low and slow today. So, I cut the stem off of each one, took off the outer leaves and cut them in half. I put them in a pan to boil.

I cut the potatoes up into cubes and boiled them as well. I warmed a cup of milk up with a sprig of thyme from the patio and three smashed cloves of garlic.

The temperature alarm went off (after an hour or so) so I turned the oven off and left the roast in the oven (without opening the door) and reset the thermometer for 130 degrees (medium-rare). When that went off, I took the roast out and let it rest for 15 minutes.

When the potatoes were fork tender, I strained the milk and mashed the potatoes (adding my signature egg). I drained the Brussels sprouts and began to plate.

I noticed there weren't enough juices from the little roast to make pan gravy, so I opened a jar and warmed it. I cut two thin slices of roast beef off and added some butter and salt to the Brussels sprouts.

I took my dinner in and watched my Sunday evening shows. The potatoes and the Brussels sprouts were to die for (seriously) but the roast beef was a little chewy for my liking. I'm not sure if it was the wrong cut of beef or I did something wrong. But, the taste was great!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sharing - a Remembrance

The biggest thing I miss being single and here at the end of my life is not sex. Oh, don't get me wrong! I had two hot lovers for wives and both those memories still haunt me...

But what I miss the most is sharing...

I miss collaborating on what would be for dinner, how the holiday decorations should be and what we would take to a pot-luck dinner.

I make all those decisions now and I stand by them. But, it would be better to have somebody to bounce the ideas off them...

photo

The San Jose Coney island

Fry Cook at the Coney

I woke up late on Saturday. I planned on being at the hospital at 7:00 AM and getting that x-ray done. Instead, I stripped the bed and started the wash. I warmed up the last cup of coffee, sat on the couch and watched the day dawn. Then I made a fresh pot of coffee. I'll get the x-ray done on Tuesday, I guess.

I posted the Blog entry and then began to think about breakfast. I'm getting tired of eating leftovers. So, I made some white sausage gravy and biscuits. I browned the pork sausage until it was well done, then removed it with a slotted spoon. I added two tablespoons of flour to the rendered fat and whisked it for a couple of minutes (to cook off the flour taste). Then I whisked in two cups of milk and heated that to a boil (still whisking, BTW). I turned it to simmer and got out the biscuits from the fridge.

I put them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and popped them into a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes or so. I added the pork sausage back into the gravy and let it warm back up. When the biscuits were done, I split two of them, topped them with the sausage gravy and ate them at the table.

I got the laundry out of the dryer and made the bed. I put the rest of the biscuits into a Zip-Lock bag and the remainder of the white sausage gravy into a freezer container and into the fridge. Finally, at 12:30 PM, I took my shower! I got dressed and hit the road. I stopped at the bank and got some money out of my rapidly depleting savings account (groan). Then, I went to Westborn for some Brussels sprouts and a big, sweet onion. I admit I made two impulse buys: three pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes on sale and some parsnips (I LOVE parsnips, but you know that...)

Note to Melissa: Ellipsis, Babe, ellipsis!

There wasn't any wind and it was 54 degrees F., so I had the car window down driving home. The fresh air felt great! (Maybe you have to live in Michigan to appreciate this.) As such, before going home, I stopped at the quarter car wash and washed the car (for the first time in months. Since they paved my road, it just doesn't seem to get so dirty anymore.)

I pulled into the garage and went in to treat the cats (so they won't eat me if I am lucky enough to get a nap). I grabbed an old towel and went out to dry the car off (with the garage door open. The fresh air was great!) When I was done, I went out to get the mail. In it was my next year's license's tag, so I opened it up and stuck it on my fresh-cleaned plate. I'm legal now for another year!!

I lay on the bed and watched Food network shows, hoping for that nap. But, it never happened. So, at 4:00 PM, I went out and drained the last two hoses. I took them and the rain gauge inside and, other than the remaining gutters, that completes my winter preparations. Oh, crap! I never harvested the four cabbages!

But, since it was getting dark, I decided to make dinner instead of being Farmer John. I'm not sure why, but I have recently been thinking about eating at a Coney Island (maybe because I haven't been to a restaurant in so long). So, tonight I will be making Coney dogs and onion rings.

I put my two-burner griddle pan on the left side of the stove. I opened up a can of Hormel No-Bean chili, put it in a saucepan and put that on the back of the griddle pan. When it came up to heat, I started grilling the hot dogs, stirring the chili every now and then. When the hot dogs were done, I turned the burners off (the cast iron will keep them warm for quite a long time).

Next I poured about an inch of peanut oil in my biggest cast iron pan and turned that burner to medium (that proved to be too low, so I jacked it up to medium high). I peeled the big sweet onion and cut it into 3/4-inch slices. I separated the rings and anything that didn't end up as a beautiful "ring' got fine diced to top the dogs.

I set up the breading station: a bowl of one can evaporated milk and a pie plate filled with two cups of flour, a teaspoon of dried mustard, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and two teaspoons of sweet paprika. I mixed that together and then got started...

I double dipped the onion rings; that is, I dipped them in the evaporated milk, then into the flour, then back into the milk and back into the flour. Then I put them into the hot oil in a single layer and fried them until golden brown (see Photos).

When they were done, I put them onto a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and immediately salted them. I didn't end up with nearly as much onion rings as I'd hoped (we Germans don't like imperfection) but I have a LOT of fine diced onions, lol!

I plated two hot dogs in buns, topped with chili and yellow mustard, and a bunch of onion rings (with ketchup for a dipping sauce) and wandered in to watch more TV. The hot dogs were just okay, but the onions rings were fantastic!

Oh, here's a tip: refrigerate your onions and the evaporated milk first. The colder the better for making these onions rings!

I put the remaining hot dogs and chili into the fridge and then went back to the TV until bedtime.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another one from my daughter Amy

A winter statistic:

98% of American's say, "Oh, shit!" before going in the ditch on a slippery road.

The other 2% are from Michigan and they say, "Hold my drink and watch this..."

(Amy lives in Minnesota, in case you wondered...)

photo

The new Caley bed, I

photo

The new Caley bed, II

TGIF and a Big Thanks to Amy!

I drove to work just after it had rained on Friday and it was sprinkling when I went home for lunch. When I went out after work, it smelled like snow...

My leg hurt, so I lay on the bed and watched the last two episodes of World War II in HD that I'd taped from the PBS station. Whew! At least now I know how it ended!

My daughter Amy had sent me an email that contained helpful hints. One of them caught my eye, as I personally know two people who have had house fires related to their dryer. It read as follows:

"INFO ABOUT CLOTHES DRYERS

The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load [of] clothes.)

He told us that he wanted to show us something; he took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material... I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like. The hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn't go through it at all!

He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh [and] that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film, but it's there. It's what is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free... that nice fragrance too. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box... well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen...

This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long! Learn something new everyday! I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would do that."

As I said, that caught my eye, because I fear dryer fires. I even bought a vacuum attachment kit that's supposed to clean out the lint from the duct work years ago. So, as an experiment, I took out the lint filter screen, brushed it clean (like I always do) and ran it under the faucet. I'll be dammed! The water only went through the outer edges and just sat there in the middle!!

I got a scrub brush and some Top Job and washed the heck out of it. When I rinsed it, the water went easily through everywhere. I shook off the water, put it back in the dryer and ran it for a short while to dry it out.

Thanks, Amy!

I had put an old folded towel on the right side of the computer table to try and lure Caley there (so she isn't walking on the keyboard or plopping down between the keyboard and the monitor.) Well, she sorta liked that, but still was annoying. So, since I noticed she liked being on top of the printer, I switched it there. I may have been successful... See Photos.

I took a brief call from a friend and then my other daughter Melissa called. As usual we talked for a long, long time. The one thing that I hope she took with her after our conversation is the correct usage of the ellipsis (which is three, equally spaced periods). As a writer, it really p*sses me off to see like five periods. That's just stupid! It's three, people! Three!!!

When we finally hung up, I was starving! So, I heated up the rest of the Sloppy Joe mixture and ate two of them watching some more TV. I went to bed about 10:00 PM.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursdays' Road Trip

It rained again overnight, as I observed at 5:30 AM Thursday morning. I made a pot of coffee, posted the Blog entry and watched the news for a bit.

After therapy, I stopped at the gas station, gassed up the car and checked the air in all the tires. Yes, it's another road trip today... I also stopped at Office Depot and bought another T-Mobile pre-paid phone car (my old minutes had run out).

Back home, I checked the oil in the car (perfect) and came inside. I figured while I was thinking about it, I'd get the minutes applied to the phone (in case I break down or something). And, that's were it all went wrong...

I called the automated number and went through entering my cell phone number and the secret code on the card (you have to scratch off the covering with a penny). The recorded message said it didn't recognize that cell phone number!?! WTF? I've done this four or five times now! I tried to call my cell phone from my home phone to verify I had the right number. The recorded message said the cell phone user was unable to take a call at this time (well, duh! I got no minutes left!)

So, I dug out the Nokia instruction booklet, hoping to find a support number to call in if you needed help. Why doesn't T-Mobile know my number? Nothing... I went to the Nokia website. Nothing... I checked out the T-Mobile phone card. There was a number, so I called it. Automated again and once I put in my phone number, it said it didn't recognize it and please enter my 4-digit pin. Pin number? I've had this damn thing for over a year and never knew nothing about no stinking pin. Since I didn't respond, it said a representative would be with me shortly.

Stupid music played that was interspersed with messages, assuring me how important my call was, please stay on the line and/or suggesting I go to their website for help. I tried that, BTW, holding the phone in one hand and trying to type with the other. No answers there on the web, either.

Finally, after 35 minutes of that crap (while I got more and more p*ssed), an actual human came on after the recording warned me this might be taped (to ensure quality, so it said. I think it was to avoid me cussing them out for making me wait so long!) She listened to my problem. She asked me for my pin number. I explained (forgetting for a moment I was probably being taped) and then she said, "Well our computers have been down since yesterday, so I can't really help you!"

JFC! Why didn't the automated voice tell me that so I didn't waste all this time?

So, the road trip will be sans cell phone. Now, as I am sure you know, "sans" is a modification of the Latin "sine" and means "without". Since you probably all know that, why do I mention it? Because of "doff" and "don." I read a lot of English literature written in the 19th century (mostly around the mid 1800's) and I've noticed they use those two words a lot. But, here in 2009, while we still use "don" every now and then, we never seem to use "doff" (unless we are saying, "He doffed his cap." But, that didn't used to mean just to take off your hat as a sign or respect). It meant take any article of clothing off. So, you could doff your coat, your shirt or your shoes... Why don't we doff anymore?

I guess I think about obscure things way too much...

So, annoyed, I swept the kitchen, the downstairs and the downstairs bathroom. Then I washed the downstairs bathroom and downstairs tile floor with Top Job and hot water. I dumped that (a disgusting brown colored water), redid the bucket and then washed the kitchen floor. I watched taped TV shows while it dried.

Anyway, I headed out about 2:45 PM. I figured the light rain would slow down traffic. However, I misjudged it again (it's so easy to screw up on these long rides and either get there way too early or too late) and got there at 4:00 PM (my appointment was for 4:30 PM, BTW). But since nobody was there, they took me right in.

I explained my problem to the nurse while she took my vitals. My blood pressure was 105/60, BTW. Then the doctor came in and I explained it all again. I told her there were no bruises (to suggest I'd fallen down) and no swelling; I just had a bone-deep pain that is magnified whenever I walk. She had me strip and her and the nurse verified I had no swelling and no bruises. So, they decided I probably didn't have any hair-line fracture (which is what I suspected).

I left with an order for an x-ray, (which puzzled me because her predecessor, Dr. McClellan had an x-ray machine down about four rooms from my exam room. My guess is she doesn't have anyone trained to use it), another for some physical therapy (groan) and a prescription for some pain medications. Our agreement was that unless she called me after the x-ray or it gets worse, we'll just wait and see...

Her best initial guess is bursitis in my right hip and the pain is traveling downward. At the risk of being repetitive, I must say anyone who calls these "the Golden Years" can kiss my old, wrinkly white ass!

I noticed on the way there at 3:00 PM that southbound I-94 was already jammed between I-75 and I-96. So, one the way back, I got off on Eight-Mile and headed west. That way, too, was a little more congested than I am used to, but I eventually got to Inkster Road and headed south. I stopped at CVS and got the pain medication. Then I went home.

I got home just after 6:45 PM (it took almost a half an hour at CVS), treated the cats and changed clothes. I got a call from my friend to see how the doctor's visit went. Then I made myself some dinner.

I boiled about a pound of penne pasta and heated up some of my pasta sauce. I drained the pasta, combined it with the sauce, plated it and topped it with some fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. I took the bowl into the bedroom and started watching some TV.

Regarding the pasta sauce, it was excellent. The only flavor I noticed was missing was bell pepper. I should have thought to add either diced green or red bell pepper when I was making it. Oh well, live and learn, I guess...

It was just before 11:00 PM and bedtime, when Caley and Scruffy started to fight on the bed. I ignored it, hoping they would sort it out themselves. That is until Caley, in an effort to escape Scruffy, jumped from the bed to the dresser and knocked over the glass of water I had sitting there from dinner. Water went everywhere and the glass rolled behind the dresser!

I spent the next hour mopping up water and trying to wiggle paper towels under the glass top (I can't pick up the aquarium) to suck up the water so it didn't wreck the dresser top. I so very vocal about how ticked I was so it wasn't until early morning when the cats dared to rejoin me on the bed.

I'll pull out the dresser and retrieve the glass tomorrow.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday

It's Wednesday and time for another half-a-day at work. It was cold and cloudy and rained overnight, but it was not raining on the way to work.

I left there promptly at 11:00 AM and went to Meijer's. There were two things I forgot to get yesterday: pepperoncini and a block of feta cheese.

When I got home, I treated the cats and then went outside to refill the bird feeder. I checked the rain gauge (we got about 1/2-inch of rain last night). I also checked the leaf pile on Jake's patio and they were still dry enough underneath to move. So, I got the leaf rake and got them out the gate and into the vacant lot next door (it's supposed to rain off and on for the next few days).

Back inside, I started the dishwasher and then cleaned the kitchen counters. I also added a few cloves of crushed garlic and some Italian herbs to the pepperoncini (I swear it turns the less expensive domestic pepperoncini into the taste of the more expensive imported stuff). By then, my leg was killing me, so I lay down on the bed, watching some TV and hoping to fall asleep.

I never did fall asleep, though, so I got up around 4:00 PM and drove over to our Building 7 (when Human Resources is located) and paid my December Cobra (insurance) payment.

Back home, I changed clothes and emptied the dishwasher. I started the mid-week laundry and then watched the evening news.

About 7:00 PM, I made my dinner. I made a bed of lettuce, added some pepperoncini and Kalamata olives and a good bit of those pickled beets and red onions (you remember those, right?) Then I crumbled a corner of the feta cheese block (I always use the block cheese rather than the already-crumbled stuff. It seems to last longer and stay fresher that way.) I topped that with some store-bought (my bad) Greek salad dressing and some salt. I ate at the kitchen table, reading a book.

The salad was excellent, BTW. The only disappointment was that the pickled beets weren't as "pickled" as I would have liked. Note to self: Double the vinegar, next time.

I cleaned up and then went to watch more TV until 11:00 PM, when I went to sleep.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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Radishes I bought on Tuesday

I flop as a baker!

I had another restless night with weird dreams, so when I woke up to go to the bathroom at 5:30 AM on Tuesday, I just stayed up. I made a small pot of coffee and posted the meager Monday Blog entry. Then I drank coffee, watching the local news, and then the Today show until it was time to get ready for therapy.

Before I left, I started the "Almost No-Knead Bread" I wanted to make today. This is an Americas Test Kitchen Recipe, BTW. So, I took three cups of unbleached, all purpose flour and combined it with 1/4 teaspoon of yeast and one teaspoon full of salt (I used table salt instead of kosher, here.) I whisked that together. I added the wet ingredients: 3/4 cup of room temperature water, 1/2 cup of room temperature beer and one tablespoon of white vinegar. I folded that in with a spatula, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for a minimum of eight hours (you can go up to 18 hours, BTW). It looks like crap. I hope the end result is better!

Therapy took a lot more effort than usual. You see, I normally try and do everything I can duplicate at home on Sunday (so it isn't so long between workouts). Now, I realize my silly exercise machine is not the same as the NuStep recumbent stepper (I think mine cost like $100 and the NuStep is probably $5,000), but it's close. And I don't have the other big machines or that dreaded BodyBlade (note to my brother Joe: if in the course of your therapy, they suggest using the BodyBlade, explain that you've been miraculously healed and run like hell. It is the most frustrating thing I've ever had to do, bar none!) But, I didn't do any of that last weekend, hoping to rest my right leg.

So, I left therapy, sore and tired and headed to Meijer's to do last weekend's grocery shopping. I spent $50.38 on the next two weeks dinners, BTW.

I got everything put away when the phone rang. It was my friend B___, checking up on me. He chastised me for not getting a doctor's appointment for my leg and I explained I was planning on calling the doctor, but he had called first. I don't think he believed me...

After we hung up, I did call my doctor's office and got an appointment for 4:30 PM on this Thursday. Then I started the last load of whites.

At 2:00 PM, I revisited my bread dough. Hmm... I am not impressed. It has not risen nearly as much as I had imagined. This could be because I didn't have the rapid-rise or instant yeast the recipe called for. I just had the normal little packets of yeast. But, I turned it out on a floured board and kneaded it 10-15 times. Then I shaped it into a ball and put it on parchment paper in a 10-inch skillet. I misted it with vegetable spray and covered it loosely with cling wrap. I let it set for another two hours.

While that was supposedly rising, I was making pasta sauce. I had thawed a package of mild Italian sausage and a pound of hamburger. So, I browned the sausages first and then set them aside. I added two chopped yellow onions and the hamburger to the pan. While that was browning, I cut the sausage into one-inch length and put them back in the pan.

Next came several cloves of garlic and dried herbs. Finally I added two four-cup containers of the tomatoes I processed and froze in September, a big can of tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste. I let that cook for a while and get happy and then let it cool. I got almost 16 cups of sauce!

Then I checked on the bread. I was right! It never really rose. I'm sure I had the wrong kind of yeast. But, I baked it anyway. It was good-looking, with a nice crunchy crust but small and very dense. Nonetheless, I did eat two slices with some warmed up potato & leek soup for dinner.

I watched the History Channel from 8 o'clock until 11:00 PM. They had some previously undiscovered color films from World War II. It was fascinating.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The History Channel

I have been watching the History Channel. They have a bunch of color movies of World War II that were recently discovered. The scenes of combat were thrilling, but I've seen a lot of movies. But the one thing (so far) that really moved me was an army nurse, June Wandrey, in 1943 at Tunisia. She said, "They brought in an 18-year old kid and he asked me, "How am I doing?' I kissed his forehead and said, 'You're doing just fine, soldier." He said 'I was just checking' and then he died. We all cried in private, but not in front of the boys. Never in front of the boys!"

Jesus

Monday's Short Post

I got up with the alarm on Monday, shaved, showered and headed off to work (taking a Granny Smith apple with me for an afternoon snack).

Work was the same as always. I got status from my resources on my projects, solved a few problems, sent and received some emails, made and took some calls, and attended the weekly staff meeting. I went home at lunch and went home for good at 5:00 PM.

It's overcast, windy and chilly today, BTW.

If you remember, I spent most of the weekend taking it easy on my right leg. Well, back at work, walking and sitting, it flared back up. This is getting ridiculous! But, since it hurt anyway, I decided to get a few more weekend chores caught up.

I washed the bedding and another load of work clothes. Once I had the bed made up again (to the delight of the cats), I warmed up some leftovers for dinner. I watched TV for a bit but called it an early night at 10:00 PM.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chillin' on Sunday

I woke up Sunday morning, dreaming I was talking on the phone to my Mom. This is getting ridiculous! Now three out of the four of my kids have reported dreaming about Grandma Goerlich. Personally, I am hoping she is trying to tell me where she buried the family gold and jewels! I hope it's not at the old home place on 24 Mile Road or her house in New Baltimore (as they have both been sold). Maybe on the lot next door or at Waconda?

I warmed up a cup of coffee (I know, I know, Carl... but I hate to waste it). Then I posted the Blog entry.

BTW, I learned yesterday that my brother Joe broke his right wrist in three places and had surgery on November 2. So, he now has a plate and screws holding things together and he starts therapy next Tuesday. Sorry Joe and I hope you're feeling better.

I got the second load of laundry done and managed to check off two items on the ToDo list, but mostly I rested my leg (either reading or watching TV).

I took out hamburger and a frozen package of buns to thaw. When dinner time came, I made Sloppy Joes.

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and went to sleep at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Hey, man! Don't Taz Me!"

It doesn't have anything to do with this post, but I still think its the best one-liner I ever heard!

I woke up off and on during the night and then slept in until 7:30 AM on Saturday. I grabbed my robe and posted the skimpy Blog (I know my fans get anxious). I printed off this week's ToDo list. Then I went out, ground up some coffee beans and put a pot on.

I didn't make any breakfast, although I thought about it. The coffee seemed enough. I washed up the few dishes from last night and emptied the dishwasher. I noticed one of my dinner plates has a chip knocked out of it and that really ticks me off! Why? Because I bought this set when my favorite store in the world (Bombay - half the stuff in my house came from there) was closing down for a ridiculously low price. At the time, (I was there at lunch with my friend), B___ suggested I buy two and store one unopened in the attic in case I ever broke something. I scoffed at the idea. Now, I really wish I'd followed his suggestion (I freaking hate it when he's right!!!)

Speaking of B___, he called just after "Saturday Morning, Over Easy" finished. He asked if I had made an appointment with my doctor to have my right leg looked at and sounded a bit skeptical when I told him it was getting a little better (it seems to have settled into a heavy ache rather than the stabbing pain I was having).

In keeping with resting my leg, I really didn't do too much. I washed a load of clothes, tidied up some things, etc. My daughter Melissa called about 1:00 PM and we talked for an hour or so. According to her, it's a sunny day in North Carolina, so hopefully Tropical Storm Ida has moved on.

I was thrilled for a moment or two to hear my grandson Carl was interested in archery. I pictured us going deer hunting in the wilds of Minnesota. But Missy quickly dispelled that idea, explaining it was only archery, not hunting. Ah well, other than Jake (who hasn't gone in years) it's another Goerlich tradition that won't be passed on...

I saw the mailman come and went outside to retrieve the meager mail. I was amazed at how warm it was! So, in spite of my vow to not "do" anything until my leg felt normal, I decided to tackle the last of the leaves on the ground. I know better than to climb the ladder and clean the gutters. It ain't gonna happen anytime soon...

There was a significant amount of leaves that had lodged underneath the sail boat trailer and the trailer that, naturally, never got mulched with the mower (see photos). My idea was to use my blower and blow them out past the fence and into the lot next door. However, what I didn't realize was there was a layer of pine needles that had come first. This created a wet layer that encumbered the effect of the blower.

So, when I got the concrete pad cleared off, I switched to a leaf rake and dragged them to Jake's patio to dry off. There's a slight chance of rain Sunday morning, but I'm close to my goal! I put everything away and went back inside for the night.

Now its time to make the potato leek soup. I must tell you, I'm not following a recipe now; I've made this enough I'm just winging it.

So, in a traditional potato leek soup, you are trying to keep everything "white," (you are supposed to even use white pepper, not black). But since I now have a African American daughter, I refuse to discriminate! However, I still only cut up the white and light green parts of the leeks and saut�ed them in oil and butter.

Again, since I am making this one up, I added the rest (maybe 1/2 cup) of the onions I diced for the hot dogs. No sense in throwing them away!

Sidebar: I had mentioned the soggy hot dogs story to my friend B___ and asked if that was a childhood memory of his. He said, no. The way his mother made hot dogs was to cut a slit in them, put in some cheddar cheese slices and wrap them in bacon! She cooked them in the oven under the broiler and then served them on buns!! Jesus! Yumo!! Mom, what were you thinking?

I cut the remaining Yukon Gold potatoes (maybe 2 1/2 pounds) into a 1/2-inch dice without peeling them. Again, that's classically wrong, but the skin of a Yukon Gold potato is very thin and very tasty. I threw those in the pot and added maybe three cups of my new chicken stock and maybe two cups of water (just enough to cover the potatoes). Then I put in a cup of heavy cream. I added in a handful of dried parsley, some salt and a good grind of black pepper.

I brought that to a boil, and then simmered it for about 20 minutes (until the potatoes were fork tender). Then I used my Japanese spider and took out about 1/4 of the veggies. The rest got pureed with the immersion blender. I returned the veggies and let it all get happy for a while.

I dished up a big bowlful and went in to watch some taped cooking shows. Later on, I put the now-cooled soup into two four-cup containers and into the fridge. I'll clean up the mess in the morning...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Goerlich Family Deaths

Now, this may seem morbid, but I was trying to remember the date my father died. But, I am terrible with dates. So, I emailed my brother Carl. He sent me Dad, Mom and my oldest brother George's dates, but couldn't remember Pete or Anne's (maybe its genetic?)

So I emailed my brother Joe and he came up with the entire list (he remembers everything!) So, in case anyone ever wonders, here it is to date:

George R. Fuller (Grandfather) November 11, 1927
Robert G. Fuller, Jr. (Cousin) February 27, 1958
Irene Fuller Wilde (Grandmother) September 12, 1965
George O. Goerlich (Father) February 11, 1976
Edwin W. Fuller (Uncle) December 10, 1979
Anne Irene Upleger (Sister) August 10, 1981
Robert G. Fuller (Uncle) September 30, 1981
George O. Goerlich, Jr. (Brother) May 2, 1985
Betty Goerlich (Sister-in-Law) January 15, 1987
Msgr. Peter Goerlich (Uncle) March 10, 1990
Maria Buchert (Aunt) March 12, 1992
Hans-Joachim Goerlich (No idea) April 27, 1994
Peter Klaus Goerlich (Brother) November 23, 1994
Linda Albright (Niece) October 7, 1999
Helen Frances Goerlich (Mother) August 23, 2009

Ain't none of us getting any younger, so stay tuned for updates...

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Trailer pad - Before #1

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Trailer pad - Before #2

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Trailer Pad - Before #3

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Trailer Pad - After #1

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Trailer pad - After #2

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Trailer Pad - After #3

Brother's Day

I finally got a full night's sleep and woke up feeling pretty good on Friday morning. Work wasn't bad, either, but about 2:00 PM I started missing my normal nap!

It was another nice day, sunny and 54 degrees F. I forgot to mention that I'd talked to Lu Thursday night and they are still getting battered by high winds and rain from the remains of Tropical Storm Ida. Melissa had said they got it on Wednesday. It's the storm that is stalling the high pressure over the Midwest and giving us this sunshine! So, sucks to be you guys, but thanks for taking one for the team!!

Back at home after work; I'm still trying to take it easy on my leg. The kitchen was relatively clean, I'd done all the dishes and I've got leftovers for dinner, so I read on the couch for a while with my leg up.

I called my brother Carl to see how he was doing and its sounds like he's doing much better. He was babysitting, so I let him go.

I warmed up and ate the leftover egg plant and the last hot dog for dinner. The egg plant still tasted great; the hot dog, er, not so much...

My brother Jim called me to see how I was doing and we chatted for a bit. After we hung up, I toyed with the idea of calling my brother Joe (making it a true triple-play, so to speak) but realized, knowing him, they are on a cruise somewhere.

I watched TV for a while, but went to sleep early.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Working in a Fog

Rough night again. I stayed up until 11:00 and then never slept for more than an hour without waking up. Bad dreams and night sweats (I think somebody is trying to tell me something!) I gave up at 5:30 AM Thursday morning and got up (I set the alarm on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 6:30 AM).

I made a four-cup pot of coffee and drank some watching the morning news. I posted the Blog and then got shaved and showered. I left for therapy at 7:45 AM. When I went outside, I noticed we had a heavy frost overnight.

Therapy was a pain (it always is - and supposed to be, I guess. I have never met anyone who was "glad" to be in therapy). It was made even more difficult by the fact that Maureen was late, so another therapist started me off. Not really a problem, EXCEPT, she had a ton of perfume on! I don't know about you, but I associate heavy perfume with "late-night," not 8:00 AM. I did the first of my exercises, trying to hold my breath so I wouldn't gag.

Thank God Maureen finally showed up (she had car troubles). A simple Irish girl, she doesn't wear perfume. When we finished up, I went outside. But here's what was strange... The frost was all gone and in its place was a heavy fog (unusual around here, as I've said before). So, I drove home with some trepidation. I had two stops to make: Westborn for some more leeks and heavy whipping cream (for my potato and leek soup) and CVS to pick up this month's prescriptions. Pulling in and out of driveways in this fog was challenging and when I finally got home, I breathed a sigh of relief!

I changed into work clothes and then, well, got to work!

If you remember, I was disappointed to learn when I first tried to make my soup that I was out of my homemade chicken stock. Well, yesterday, I took out the last whole chicken I had in the freezer to thaw.

So, today, I washed off the chicken, discarded the innards and put it in my small stock pot. I covered it with 1 1/2 gallons of water (24 cups if you are like me and don't have "gallon" measurers), added a little (I stress "little" here) salt and some ground pepper, a bouquet garni of fresh cut thyme, parsley and two dried bay leaves and brought it up to a boil. Then I dropped it down to a strong simmer (I want to see the occasional bubbles coming up through the water, so I know it's reducing).

I set the timer for an hour and, using a slotted spoon, kept skimming off the fatty foam. When the timer went off, I took out the chicken with my big tongs. I cut off the two poached breasts and then returned the rest of the chicken to the pot. I rest the timer for two hours. I made myself some lunch (soggy hot dogs warmed up but this time with just yellow mustard and raw onions).

The next time the timer went off; I added some whole black peppercorns, two carrots, some celery, a whole head of garlic, cut in half and a big yellow onion, cut into quarters (everything was cut into large chunks and nothing was peeled, BTW. It will all be discarded). I reset the timer for another two hours and went to watch some taped TV.

When the last timer went off (just after 6:00 PM), I went out and turned off the burner. I waited a bit and then took out most of the veggies with the slotted spoon (these went into the trash). I untied and discarded the bouquet garni. Then I removed all the chicken and put it on a plate to be de-boned later (I think it's easier to de-bone chicken when it's cold).I poured the stock through a strainer and into my biggest bowl to cool.

Then I fixed dinner: fried eggplant. It turned out beautiful, BTW, with the best looking crust I ever made. It tasted as good as it looked, too.

After eating, I started finishing up. I wrapped the chicken plate with cling wrap and stuck it in the fridge. Then I ladled the stock into four-cup containers, (I got five, BTW), screwed on the lids and stuck them in the fridge to cool further. There's some reason you are not supposed to put warm stock directly into the freezer, but I forget why (it can turn rancid or sour or something). I just don't do it. I put the other half of the fried eggplant into a plastic baggie and the fridge as well.

Then I wandered in to watch TV for the rest of the evening. I'll wash up the knife, pot, bowl, ladle and strainer tomorrow morning.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weird Wednesday

I got up for my half-day of work on Wednesday with the alarm. I did wake up in the night, but determinedly went back to sleep. I woke up on time, refreshed and went through the usual ablutions. Then I dressed and headed off to work.

I started the car up to go to work and the oil light came on. That has never happened yet in all the years I owned this car. So, I got out and checked the oil. There was none showing on the stick! I looked under the car, and there was no big pool of oil. WTF?

I checked what oil I had in the garage. Other than the 30 weight for the mowers, I only had 1 1/2 quarts of 5W-30. So, I put that into the engine. I checked it and it barely registered on the dipstick. So, I drove to Murray's (right across Plymouth Road and thank God they open at 7:00 AM) and bought two more quarts. The first quart got it to in "full" range mark, and I'll keep checking it and add the second when it needs it.

I went to work feeling a little uneasy. It's not time for an oil change yet and I don't know where the oil went! When I went home at 11:00 AM, the first thing I did was to check and see if the inside of the tail pipe was oily. Maybe I blew a cylinder ring or something. Nope, just the usual black carbon.

Weird... And, worrisome...

I ate a little lunch and lay down to rest my right leg. This is really starting to tick me off. My therapist swears it's the way I sleep, so I tried her pillow between my legs theory. Then I tried a fatter pillow. But nothing seems to help. Sometimes its nothing and I feel fine. Other times it hurts so badly I can hardly walk. I figured whatever it is; I pissed it off with all the ladder work yesterday, so I am giving it the day off. If that doesn't work, I will seek professional help.

I alternated between the bed and doing some minor cleanup in the house. Finally, about 7:00 PM, I decided to make some dinner. It was nothing fancy (hot dogs) and I went back and forth about the cooking method.

With natural casing hot dogs, I always grill them (whether outside over charcoal or inside on the grille pan). But, the ones I thawed out were just plain old Ball Park beef franks, so I finally decided just to boil them (ah, childhood days...)

While they were heating up, I fine-diced a yellow onion. Then I got out ketchup, yellow mustard, sweet relish and dill relish. I figured I could mix it up a bit. I wish I had some sauerkraut (yellow mustard, onions and sauerkraut on a charcoal grilled, natural casing hot dog is my favorite).

I fixed one with ketchup, mustard onions and sweet relish and one with ketchup mustard and dill relish. Hmmm... I think plain old mustard and onions would have been preferable. Oh, and making them like my Mom used to? I guess I forgot just how mushy Mom's hot dogs were. Some childhood memories are better never revisited, lol!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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The Last Leaf Mulching This Year, from the Patio

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The Last Leaf Mulching This Year, from the Back Wall

Happy Veteran's Day!

My thanks go out to all the veterans today! Freedom isn't free and you men and women have paid the price for me. I never forget that.

The First Cut is the Deepest...

... but the last cut is the sweetest! I am speaking, of course of the lawn.

I woke up at 4:00 AM and couldn't get back to sleep on Tuesday. I tried everything but, after the disturbing dream that woke me up, when I did doze off that damn dream started again. I hate that!

The dream? I was alone out at Lake Orion. A boat-load of people pulled up to the dock (some men, but mostly women). Every one of them had double-barreled shotguns. I was locked in the cottage and had to try and figure out a hiding place (which is pretty hard since, if you've ever been to the cottage you know, there isn't even any closets). As they came up the front and back step, anyplace the men touched, the women would spray with cleaner and wipe off their finger prints... Oh, oh...

Anyway, I gave up and got up. I ground up more fresh coffee beans and made a big pot. I read my book on the couch until it was time to shave and shower and then got ready for therapy.

When I was there, she announced she had two more exercises to add to my routine. I mentioned that she keeps adding exercises, but rarely takes any away! She just smiled and said, "Well, that's my job!"

Back home, I ate a big breakfast and then sat on the couch, reading for another hour. Next I took one of those nasty pain pills (the breakfast was supposed to keep me from barfing and seemed to work).

At 11:00 AM, I thought it was finally warm enough, so I got on a hat, my leather coat (it's a little windy out there) and my work gloves. I got out the step ladder and started cleaning out the gutter over the porch and garage.

I got that one done, but it damn near killed me! Climb up the ladder three steps, clean out two feet of gutter, climb back down, move the ladder and repeat. My right leg is now shot and I put the ladder back in the garage. The other two will have to wait!

I got out the blower and blew all the leaves on the porch, the front garden and the mess I dug out of the gutter onto the side lawn. Then I got out the mower and carefully cut in only one direction, blowing the mulched leaves into the lot next door.

I opened the back gate, closed the garage door and headed out to the back yard. I wish now I'd taken a "Before" photo, because you could only see the grass in a few places. It was mostly fallen leaves!

I always cut the back lawn like my father showed me how to plow. Four times around the perimeter (so you have room to turn and the rows are straight), then up the middle and back down one edge. Unfortunately, it leaves half the lawn clean and the other half littered. So, when I finished, I checked the gas and then re-cut the littered half again in only one direction.

I finally finished about 3:00 PM. I put everything away, closed everything up, washed up, took the "After" photos and then took another pain pill. I sat on the couch with my leg up, waiting for it to work.

My daughter Melissa called about 5:00 PM. I was surprised when she told me that it was pouring there because of that hurricane Ida. I thought they said this morning on the Weather Channel it had just reached the coast of Florida and Louisiana. It must be a fast mover!

After we hung up, I started making dinner. It was supposed to be potato leek soup, but I burned the damn leeks when I was saut�ing them! And, those were all the leeks I had!! Disgusted, I cleaned out the mess and put the stock pot in the downstairs tub to soak. I had no other choice as, when properly cooked, leeks are mild and sweet. But, when burned, they turn quite bitter. I guess I had the burner a little higher than it should have been.

Back in the kitchen and still hungry, I checked the fridge. No leftovers and everything else is frozen. So, I opened a can of Dinty Moore beef stew, warmed it up and wandered in to eat and watch TV.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday

So, it was off to work on Monday morning. I was not real happy about my work output over the weekend, so I was a bit bummed.

Back at home for lunch, it was unseasonably warm. So, I raked a bunch of leaves from the lawn to under the arborvitae. I like to mulch them in the fall with maple leaves; I really think it helps. I also checked the lawn tractor and found (like my friend B___ had suggested) the negative battery cable had come loose. No wonder it wouldn't start! I reconnected it and tightened it down, then fired it up. Perfect.

I ate the last of the lasagna for lunch, BTW.

When I got home at 5:15 PM, it was 68 degrees. Unfortunately, it was almost dark, too. So, the gutters and the back lawn will have to wait another day. However, there are things that need to be done inside as well.

So, I treated the cats and changed my clothes. So, I first emptied the dishwasher and put everything away. I have the lasagna pan soaking, BTW. Then I switched out the kitty litter (garbage day is tomorrow).

Then I used the electric sweeper to clean the floors in my bedroom and the office (something else that didn't get done this past weekend). I watched the tail end of the local news and the NBC nightly new, resting my aching right leg.

When Wheel of Fortune came on, I went in and filled the Blog entry up to date. I noticed Pat Sajak is starting to look his age, but I can't figure out how Vanna White still looks so hot like 25 some years later than when I first watched her with Amy in the hospital...

I was hungry but didn't feel like making dinner. So, I opened a can of Hormel Chili, heated it and ate it watching a taped show. Then I turned the TV off and read until bedtime.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lazy Days and Sunday

I woke up way too early at 4:00 AM on Sunday. I read my book until it was light outside and the made a pot of coffee. I glanced outside and it looked strange. It was misty or foggy and everything seemed distorted.

I forgot to mention switching the mattress around yesterday. I do that every six months or so. But, this time I decided to turn the bedsprings as well. That meant getting the mattress off the bed. Damn, that thing weighs a ton! But, since I had both of them off the frame, I used the electric sweeper to clean up all the areas I couldn't reach normally.

About 1:00 PM I went out and cut the front lawn. Just as I was about to go into the back yard, the mower quit! Disgusted, I pushed it back into the garage and gave up. I watched some TV and took a late afternoon nap.

I heated up a frozen Tombstone pepperoni pizza for dinner and ate pieces of it throughout the evening, watching my Sunday night shows. I went to sleep after 11:00 PM.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunny Saturday (for a change)

I awoke at 6:30 AM on Saturday. I reached over to get my glasses off the night stand and they weren't there! I was confused a bit until I remembered they'd fallen off my face last night when I was reading. So, I searched around with my hands (I couldn't see) until I found them on the floor.

I kicked the cats off the bed, stripped it and took the bedding downstairs to wash. But, I decided to make the bedding my second load and washed all the darks, first. I need something to put on this naked body after my shower.

Upstairs, I washed the first of the stuff that had been soaking since I made the lasagna. That load consisted of the various parts of the food processor. Now, I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but for you newbie's, I gotta tell you some of the worst cuts I ever had in the kitchen have come from washing the blades of a food processor. Be careful!

I eventually shaved and showered and got three loads of laundry done. It's sunny and warm outside and I find myself drawn to go work out there. But I made myself a promise that all outside work here would be done on Sunday. So, I stayed inside...

I took a nice nap in the afternoon and finally finished washing up all the large stuff from the lasagna dinner. I also emptied the dishwasher.

For dinner, I warmed up the rest of the Chop Suey and wild rice. I splashed it with good soy sauce and ate it watching the Godfather (Part 1). Finding out it was some sort of Godfather movie marathon night, I started watching Godfather (Part 2) until I fell asleep.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Favorite Latin Saying

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Santi

My Mother's Diaries

I was reminded this afternoon about my Mother's diaries.

Maybe 15-20 year's ago, my Mother asked me a favor. She said when she died, would I please get all her diaries and, without reading them, burn them.

I, of course, agreed. I knew they existed. I actually read her entry when I told her that I would be marrying Fran (some 44 years ago). There was nothing there that said I was a 16 year old kid who had got a girl pregnant. She kinda wrote in code. The entry said, "John told us of his future plans."

But, after she died and I learned that my brother Joe and his wife Kathy were cleaning out the house, I told them any diaries they found should be kept for me to dispose of.

Oddly enough, no one found any diaries. All I can figure is that she didn't trust me enough and burned them herself.

That makes me kinda sad...

A head's up for my children...

A song snippet that always makes me smile:

"Papa was a rolling stone,
Wherever he hung his hat was his home.
And when he died,
all he left us was alone..."

Saturday Morning, Over Easy...

Everybody's Talking

~ Harry Nilsson

Everybody's talking at me.
I don't hear a word they're saying,
Only the echoes of my mind.
People stopping staring,
I can't see their faces,
Only the shadows of their eyes.

I'm going where the sun keeps shining
Thru' the pouring rain,
Going where the weather suits my clothes,
Backing off of the North East wind,
Sailing on summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone.

I'm going where the sun keeps shining
Thru' the pouring rain,
Going where the weather suits my clothes,
Backing off of the North East wind,
Sailing on summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone

Finally, Friday

I woke up on Friday, feeling a bit cold and chilled, despite the furnace's valiant efforts. So, I checked the thermometer and it was 27 degrees F.! On November 6th? So I turned on the Weather Channel and verified this temperature. Yep, we are in the deep freeze today...

At work, I checked on my latest two projects and both of them can be closed today. I have a sense of accomplishment, but an underlying dread: I don't have that many projects left...

When lunchtime came, I stopped in at Meijer's (again). I forgot to get more kitty litter when I was here. I also bought some big button mushrooms (I have an idea). Back home, I ate the last of the Bush's Baked Beans and smoked sausage for lunch, and then spent the rest of the afternoon in gastric distress (if you know what I mean - well, if you were near me, you would definitely know what I mean!)

I arrived home a little later than usual (I had an errand to run). I treated the cats and then changed clothes. I finished filling the dishwasher, ignored the bowls, food processor cup, etc., from the lasagna, started the dishwasher and then got to the mushrooms.

Remember me saying I want to try and use up leftovers, rather than throw them away? Well, if you also remember, on Tuesday, I made some Stove Top chicken stuffing to go with my roasted chicken breast. Of course I didn't eat it all, but since the leftover chicken got turned into Chop Suey, what could I do with the remaining stuffing?

Well, one appetizer I really like is stuffed mushrooms, with Italian sausage and cheese. So, I wondered if I could do a riff on that with the stuffing. So, here's what I did.

I took out the stuffing to warm it to room temperature (to make it easier to work with). Then I got the simplest recipe for stuffed mushrooms I could find. It said to take out the stems of the mushrooms (there are eight big ones, BTW), so I did. I cleaned up the cavities with an old grapefruit spoon I still have (It's thinner than most teaspoons and has a serrated edge in front).

Next it said to brush the mushroom caps with Italian salad dressing. Well, I don't have any and making it is a little more time-consuming than the time I have, so I made a little balsamic vinaigrette. I brushed the caps with that and then put them on a rack in the toaster oven (with the drip pan right underneath). Note: if you were doing this for a crowd, you would use the oven broiler and the broiler pan. But I am just using eight mushrooms, so I don't want to waste the gas!

I broiled them for five minutes. I took them out and let them cool down. While that was going on, I took a call from a friend. After we hung up, the mushrooms were cool, so I got back to work.

I went to get out some shredded sharp cheddar cheese, but found I didn't have any left! WTF? But, I did have a block of sharp cheddar cheese, so I opened it up and, using the box grater, made about a cup of shredded cheese.

I added that to the stuffing mixture and, using my hand, worked it all together. Then I stuffed the mushroom caps. I put them back in the toaster oven and watched them carefully, waiting for the cheese to melt. Somewhere between three to five minutes, they were cheesy and bubbly. I pulled them out and let them set a few minutes on the chopping block.

After they were cool enough to pick up, I tried one. Hmmm... I tried another and then another. I couldn't decide! They certainly lacked the "pop" of the Italian sausage, but they didn't taste "bad." So, I decided this would not be a bad vegetarian appetizer (maybe not "vegan" because I don't know exactly what's in Stove Top Chicken stuffing). I wrapped up the rest of the stuffed mushrooms and put them in the fridge.

It was now after 9:00 PM. So I did a quick check on TV shows tonight. Nothing, really. Instead, I grabbed my book and lay down on the bed to read. When my glasses fell off, I realized I'd been dosing, so I shut off the light and went to sleep.

Friday, November 6, 2009

photo

The Lasagna, Resting

Lasagna Night

I woke up unassisted at 5:30 AM on Thursday. Since I was up so early (for a day off) I made a pot of coffee, some scrambled eggs and toast. Then I shaved and showered and made my 8:00 AM therapy appointment.

I'm not sure why (it may be because my last two therapy session were at 2:00 PM) but this seemed awful early to go and hurt myself. I got home about 9:15 AM and changed my clothes. I was damn sore and any thoughts of heavy-duty work today seemed stupid. I'm not sure what it is with that woman. It's not like us Germans ever invaded Ireland!

Anyway, I warmed up a cup of coffee and reclined on the couch with a book. I stayed there (other than one trip to the bathroom and another to get more coffee) until about 11:00 AM, when I started to feel guilty (damn this Protestant work ethic!)

So, I went out and cleaned the stovetop. Now, it's been a while, so I ran the drip pans under the hottest water I could get, added some baking soda and let them sit in the laundry tub (this is Jyl's recipe for cleaning off crud. I've never seen it work all that well, but I am willing to try anything). Meanwhile, I rubbed the rest clean with Soft-Scrub, rinsed it well and then I dried it off with a kitchen towel. I then moved into the bedroom to take a nap.

I woke up just before 3:00 PM. I messed around on the Internet for a while and then just after 4:00 PM, I got serious about making tonight's dinner. But, first, I had to wash those damn drip pans. So, I grabbed a Brillo pad and cleaned them up. Not sure if it was the baking soda soak or just my amazing arm strength, but I got them cleaned up in record time.

Ever since a friend told me his daughter was making lasagna last weekend, I have been yearning for it. So, tonight, I will be making that! I realized after looking at the ingredient list that this would NOT fit into a regular cake pan, so I got out my big lasagna pan, took out the little rack and got started. This is a Tyler Florence recipe, BTW: The ultimate lasagna!

I cooked two pounds of lasagna noodles in plenty of boiling salted water until pliable and barely tender, about 10 minutes (that seems like WAY too much, BTW!) I stirred them with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking. I drained them thoroughly and then coated them with olive oil to keep them moist and easy to work with.

Then, I coated my biggest skillet with olive oil, added two pounds of ground beef and one package of Hot Italian sausage, stripped out of their casings. I browned that until no longer pink, (about 10 minutes or so). Then I seasoned it with salt and pepper.

In my food processor, I combined one red onion, chopped, three carrots chopped, two stalks of celery, chopped, three cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced, two tablespoons of fresh basil, fresh Italian parsley (a quarter cup), two tablespoons of fresh chopped basil and one tablespoon of fresh chopped oregano. I processed this in the food processor until it was pureed. I added that to the pan with ground meat and stirred it to combine.

I also stirred in two tablespoons of all purpose flour. I added in two cups of red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon) and cooked until it had reduced by half. I stirred in two 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes that I squished by hand and added in three tablespoons of heavy cream and one teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

Next, in a mixing bowl, I combined two containers of ricotta cheese (two quarts) and the 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese. I whisked up two eggs and stirred them in, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Then I assembled the lasagna: I coated the bottom of my deep 13 by 9-inch pan with olive oil. I arranged four noodles lengthwise in a slightly overlapping layer on the bottom. Then, I lined each end of the pan with a lasagna noodle (this forms a collar that holds in the corners). I dolloped 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta and spread it to the edges with a spatula. Then I spread 1/2 of the meat mixture over the ricotta. I sprinkled 1/2 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta. I toped that with a ladle full of sauce, spread evenly. I repeated with the next layer of noodles, ricotta, sauce, and cheeses. The last layer I topped with noodles, sauce, shredded mozzarella and more Parmesan. Then I tapped the pan to force out air bubbles and put it in the oven to bake for one hour.

After and hour, I removed it from the oven (see Photos). I let it rest for 30 minutes so the noodles would settle and cut easily. Now, the instructions say "Cut into 2-inch squares and serve," but by then I was really hungry, so I cut a 4-inch chunk out, plated it and went it to see what was on TV.

Hmmm... not much! So, how did the lasagna turn out? Well, it was very tasty, but a lot runnier than I would have liked. Either I cut it too soon or I didn't reduce the meat mixture enough (I sure thought I did!)

After I'd eaten, I turned off the TV and started reading my book. I read until I was sleepy and then shut the light off.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wild Wednesday

I awoke, tired, with the help of the alarm after another restless night. I had a cup of much-needed coffee and then hit the shaver and shower for my half-day at work.

I ate an apple about 10:00 AM for my breakfast/lunch. I left work at 11:00 AM and headed for Meijer's to finish this week's grocery shopping. Besides the few sale items I wanted to pick up, I bought a new humidifier (if you remember, my old faithful one crapped out last winter).

I used to keep it next to the bed, refill it every afternoon and then turn it on for the night. But, now, without it and with the furnace running more and more, I wake up every morning with my nose all stuffed up. I hated spending the money, but recognized the need.

Once home, I again treated the cats and unloaded the groceries. My pantry selves are getting really full, BTW. But, let me give you an example: the last time I bought Dei Fratelli whole tomatoes (28 OZ cans), I paid $2.19 a can at Kroger's (that was when I still had a full-time job). But today at Meijer's, I bought 10 of them for $1.29 each!

Anyway, once home and clothes changed, I laid down to rest (I told you I was tired) and fell asleep about 2:00 PM. I woke up just after 3:00. I went outside and filled up the bird feeder, and then ripped up the last of the old oat nut bread for the wild things.

Back inside, I put down the now-dried walk-off carpets and then vacuumed them. I swept the downstairs floor and made up a bucket of Pine-Sol and extremely hot water (I know I said "Top Job" in a previous post, but I was mistaken). I washed the floor over and over again until all signs of the drain problems were erased.

I went in the garage and coiled up the drain snake I'd left out to dry. Before I hung it up, I sprayed it with WD-40 to try and prevent it from rusting anymore than it already is. The damn thing's probably 75 years old! Then I walked out to get today's mail.

Back inside, I was a little chilled (its only 46 degrees F. outside and just 66 degrees inside), so I wrapped a blanket around me and filled in the Blog entry to date. Then I watched the 5:00 PM news on Channel 4.

At 6:00 PM, I started supper. I had picked up a big can of La Choy Chop Suey vegetables at Meijer's. What I didn't know was what I lacked at home! So, I got out the rest of the roasted chicken and began to harvest all the meat (I saved the two legs for late night snacks). The resulting bones went out to the back yard for the possum.

Then I went into my cupboard to get some rice. Damn! There's none there! Now, as a young lad, I loved Chow Mien (with the hard noodles) but as an old man with this damned bridge, I have to go for Chop Suey (over rice). However, I didn't have any rice!!! No brown, no white, no easy quick cook stuff. Nothing!! But, committed, I wrote it down on the next grocery shopping list and I chose to make some wild rice (this will be interesting!)

Now, as I am sure you all know, Chop Suey or Chow Mien is not a real, authentic Chinese dish. It was created back in San Francisco to feed the immigrant Chinese workers. But, I like it anyway...

I mixed the un-drained Chop Suey vegetables with the chicken and let them get warm while I made the rice. You are supposed to drain the veggies before cooking, but I have a lot of chicken to warm up. When the rice was done, I took off the lid and let it set for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, I turned off the heat to the veggies and chicken mixture. Then, I drained the Chop Suey mixture and put half of it on top half of the wild rice (wild!)

I splashed that with some good soy sauce and wandered in to watch some more TV. There's boxing on tonight from 8-10:00 PM and then Top Chef. So, if I can stay awake, it should be good!

Then I remembered the new humidifier. So, I got back up, opened the box and set it up. This is a lot bigger than the old one that I used to keep beside the bed. So, I put it next to the TV stand, filled it up and turned it on. It's a lot noisier, too! Okay, so I admit it, I went for cheap. But, if it keeps my sinuses working, it will be worth it.

I fell asleep just before 10:00 PM. When I woke up to go to the bathroom, I turned off the TV and went to bed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

photo

The pickled beets

Tuesday

I woke up at 5:00 AM on Tuesday. It had been a long night. It had been a night of broken sleep, night sweats and vivid dreams. Most of the dreams revolved around conversations with my Mother. The fact that I cannot remember even one conversation troubles me! What was that old woman trying to tell me?

My therapy appointment was changed until 2:00 PM today, so there's no real rush this morning. I ate some oatmeal for breakfast, and then just putzed around doing little things like emptying the dishwasher and so on. I didn't even take my shower until 11:00 AM.

I did put together a shopping list for Kroger's, so after PT was done, I drove over there. I got the items I needed (almost all of them were on sale) and was home just before 4:00 PM. I treated the cats and unpacked the groceries.

Then I finished pickling the beets. I warmed both the beets and the pickling solution up (so they'd be easier to handle) and then peeled the beets and a large red onion. I cut both the onion and all the beets into thin slices. I alternated layers of onions and beets into a large jar I had, added the pickling solution and snapped down the lid (see Photos). I put that into the fridge where it must now sit for three to seven days before using.

Just as I finished up, my brother Carl called. His daughter was at his house, trying to make my recipe for macaroni and cheese and she had a question. Of course, she will try and make it a more "healthy" version, so it won't taste anything like mine (there's no way 2% milk will ever taste like heavy cream!)

I sat on the couch for a while, enjoying being off my feet. Finally, I roused myself to make some dinner. I made some Stove Top stuffing and warmed up one of the roasted chicken breasts. I ate that watching some TV and was sort of settling in for the night when I remembered the downstairs bathroom door I wanted to plane tonight.

So, reluctantly, I got back up and went to work (there wasn't much on TV anyway). I took out the towel and bath mat, got my stool and the plane and cut the door down until it fit again. Then I swept up the sawdust, made a bucket of hot water and Top Job and cleaned the bathroom sink, toilet and floor.

I let that dry overnight, put everything away and went back to the TV and, finally, to sleep.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November 3, 1952

Sorry Mom! Clarence Birdseye marketed the first frozen peas.

Miserable Monday

I woke up with the alarm's help on Monday. It had been a generally frustrating weekend (with the drain and all) and I did not feel refreshed or relaxed. In fact, that general grumpiness carried through the whole day (the gray skies and occasional rain didn't help much, either).

When I got home at lunchtime, I found Scruffy had thrown up a hairball on the bedspread (Great! Thanks a lot!). I cleaned that up, sprayed the spot with "Shout" and threw it in the washer. I stayed home long enough to pop it in the dryer.

So, when I got after work, I fired the dryer back up for a few minutes (just to warm it) and then made my bed. Then I got to work on cleaning out the fridge (in anticipation of tomorrow's garbage day). As always, I am dismayed at throwing away produce that's gone brown, sour cream or heavy cream that's now past the expiration date, and so on.

It totally turned me off about dinner. So, instead, I proceeded to roast my beets. Let's recap: I had three small ones from the bunch I bought at Kroger's and three big ones that Jake and Carla bought at Whole Foods (organic beauties). I cut the greens off the Jake and Carla bunch (leaving one-inch of stems remaining) and soaked them in a big bowl of water (that way the sand supposedly falls to the bottom of the bowl).

Next I took a vegetable brush and washed all six beets. I put the beets in a large bowl and added two large shallots (peeled and large-diced - the dicing was my idea), two sprigs of fresh rosemary and two teaspoons of olive oil. I tossed that all together and then washed my hands.

I got a large piece of tinfoil and, folding it in half, made a pouch. Into that, I poured the contents of the bowl. I sealed the edges and then roasted it in the toaster oven at 400 degrees F. for 40 minutes.

While that was roasting, I put a small sauce pan on the heat and added one cup of tarragon white wine vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, 1/2 cup of sugar and one cup of plain water. I brought that to a boil and whisked it to incorporate all the ingredients. When it was clear, I shut it off.

About that time, I took a phone call from an old friend. By the time we'd caught each other up, making pickled beets seemed like a lot of work. But, since I have tomorrow off, I can finish up then. If you are interested in this recipe, you can wait until tomorrow or go to Food Network, Alton Brown, and search on "pickled beets."

Now, I'm hungry. So, I carefully lifted the beet greens out of the water, ran them through the salad spinner, rinsed them off again and cut them into one-inch lengths. One more ride in the salad spinner and I put them into boiling, salted water for five minutes. I topped them with a good glug of white vinegar and wandered in to watch some taped TV.

Okay, that was good, but not enough. So, skipping the leftovers, I made on of my mother's favorites (for some reason, I've been thinking about my mother all weekend - I almost called her...) tuna and peas.

Now, I know there are cooks out there who pooh-pooh (that was fun to say) the old recipes, like green bean casserole, that appear every Holiday season and involve cans of green beans, mushroom soup, French's French-Fried Onions, etc. But, I was there man! There was no "movement" to local, sustainable ingredients. There was not "trend" towards "free-range chickens," for example. We all ate free-range chickens when we could catch and decapitate them. The issue was only taste and this stuff tasted GOOD!

So, I put on a pot of water to boil and mixed up one can of mushroom soup, one can of drained tuna (now in water rather than oil, to satisfy health concerns - but the oil stuff tasted better) and a cup of frozen peas (my only concession to "now." Sorry Mom, but frozen peas just taste better!)

While that warmed up, I boiled 1/2 pound of wide egg noodles (here's where it gets a bit fuzzy... I think my mom served this on something else... Toast, maybe? Maybe one of my other brothers could help me out with this...)

Anyway, I drained and buttered the noodles, plated half of them and poured half of the tuna and peas sauce on top. I wandered back to the bedroom, ate and watched TV until I fell asleep.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Draining Victory and Sunday Supper

I woke up at 5:30 AM again. So, I suppose it was really 6:30... My God this gets tiresome! I had a cup of coffee and then got to work (I can't shower yet while the microbes are doing their thing).

By 8:00 AM, I had the living room swept, vacuumed, dusted and dust mopped. I washed the upstairs bathroom and then, while it was drying, checked on my drain problem.

Nope, the microbes didn't seem to fix it. Ticked now, I opened the cleanout and rammed the damn snake down it (through standing water) again. Not sure if it was the microbes, or me being ticked, but all of a sudden, there was a loud belch from the drain and all the water went down!

I celebrated by shaving and showering.

Then I went back to cleaning the house. I didn't bother trying to wash the downstairs floors, BTW, but I got the kitchen swept and wet-mopped. I was finished and ready to take a nap by 1:00 PM.

I woke up about 2:00 and decided to make some lunch. I had found a review of frozen pizzas (!) the other day on the Internet and some I'd heard of, but most I hadn't. The over-all winner was something called American Flatbread Cheese and Herb Pizza (baked in a wood-fired oven). I went on their website and found the only place nearby that sold it was Joe's Produce (on 7 mile and Farmington Road). So, I went there and bought a box at lunch on Friday.

So, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees F. and sprinkled some cornmeal on my pizza stone. When the oven was ready, I popped in the pizza and set the timer for 7 minutes.

A few minutes later, Jake and Carla stopped by. He had mentioned they were going to Whole Foods today, so I asked him to pick me up some Whole Foods 365 Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil I use is great for cooking, but lacks something if you are making, say, a salad vinaigrette. I had called him this morning and also asked him to pick me up another bunch of beets.

So, they did. And, since they were here anyway, they were the perfect taste-test group for this silly pizza. I pulled it out, cut it into wedges and we sampled it. I think we all agreed that, for a frozen pizza, it was pretty damn tasty!

They left and I decided to watch some TV. This time I turned on the History Channel (one of my favorites) and watched that until I noticed it was dark outside. Then I looked at the clock and saw it wasn't even 5:30 PM!

So, I got up and started on Sunday's supper. I bought a Tyson free-range, young chicken that was 4.5 pounds on a Manager's Special a week or two ago. I froze it (of course) and I've been thawing it out all day.

So, I opened up the package and discarded the innards. Then I rinsed it off and put it on the plastic cutting board. I dried it off with a towel (that immediately went into the washer) and let it rest. I washed my hands and went outside to grab some fresh sage leaves.

Back inside, I carefully wiggled my fingers here and there under the skin. Then I put a pat of butter and a sage leaf in each of the three areas. I drizzled olive oil on it, then salted and peppered both sides of the bird, stuffed more sage leaves into the cavity, washed my hands again and started peeling veggies. I chunked up two carrots, four russet potatoes and left two yellow onions whole, but peeled. Those went into my roasting pan, under the rack. The chicken I put breast side up on top of the rack.

The roasting pan went into the oven, and I cleaned the counter with anti-bacterial spray. I know, I know, I sound like Jake, but this cross-contamination shit does worry me!

I set the timer for 90 minutes and went to fill this entry in. I did check it after 30 minutes, but there weren't enough juices yet to baste it. Maybe I should have added some chicken stock... No, there were juices the next time, so I basted the chicken. When the timer went off, I checked the internal temperature and took the chicken out to rest.

I ate dinner watching my Sunday shows. The chicken was very moist and good, but I thought the sage taste was a bit muted. I tried to stay awake through all three but fell asleep just after 10:00 PM.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Morning, Over Easy...

I must admit, I am not a big fan of Joni Mitchell. Oh, I like her songs when they are sung by Judy Collins (Chelsea Morning is a perfect song, to my way of thinking). But, there is one Joni Mitchell song I dearly love:

Amelia

~ Joni Mitchell

I was driving across the burning desert
When I spotted six jet planes
Leaving six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain
It was the hexagram of the heavens
it was the strings of my guitar
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

The drone of flying engines
Is a song so wild and blue
It scrambles time and seasons if it gets thru to you
Then your life becomes a travelogue
Of picture-post-card-charms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

People will tell you where they've gone
They'll tell you where to go
But till you get there yourself you never really know
Where some have found their paradise
Other's just come to harm
Oh Amelia, it was just a false alarm

I wish that he was here tonight
It's so hard to obey
His sad request of me to kindly stay away
So this is how I hide the hurt
As the road leads cursed and charmed
I tell Amelia, it was just a false alarm

A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea, like me she had a dream to fly
Like Icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

Maybe I've never really loved
I guess that is the truth
I've spent my whole life in clouds at icy altitude
And looking down on everything
I crashed into his arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

I pulled into the Cactus Tree Motel
To shower off the dust
And I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust
I dreamed of 747s
Over geometric farms
Dreams, Amelia, dreams and false alarms

November 1st!

Happy birthday to my son Jeremy!!!

Happy Halloween, , Part 2

I woke up WAY too early on Saturday. So, I read in bed until it was light enough to get up. I stripped the bedding (disturbing the cats) and started the wash.

I know it's tonight I must do this, but while I was thinking about it, I moved all my clocks back one hour. Goodbye, summer! Of course, that meant for the rest of the day, when I would check the time, I would go, "Oh, 11:00 o'clock. Hmmm... Does that mean its really 10:00 or 12:00 o'clock?"

I noticed on the news the Red Wings are playing in Calgary against the Flames tonight. Kick their butts, guys!! (It's a sweet rivalry.)

I went to make some coffee, but I didn't have enough. So, I ground up some more of my whole beans and made a pot.

I went downstairs to get my meds and found my old nemesis. The washer had overflowed the drains! The bathroom mat and the walk-off carpet by the back door were soaked. Water was everywhere! So, I went back upstairs, ripped down my carefully thought-out ToDo list and created another. This sucks!!!

I decided I wanted breakfast, so I scrambled some eggs. I topped them with a LOT of Frank's Red Hot Sauce and ate them, Southern-style. I cleaned up a bit, trying not to think of drains...

So, finally at 1:30 PM (really) I couldn't ignore it anymore and went down to work on the drain problem. But, before I did, I replaced one suet cake outside and gave the wild things the last of my old bread. The wind, which was quite fierce all night long, has not abated. If it doesn't slow down, this will trouble the trick-or-treaters. I put the walk-off carpet on top the air conditioner to dry.

Back inside (accompanied by a flurry of leaves I will have to clean up) I pulled off the clean out cover and then unscrewed the top. I had my Dad's old 100-foot snake. I ran it down the drain a few times, but never really felt an obstruction (like I used to do). Hmmm... Does that mean I punched through the problem? Only one way to tell, I guess. I started another load of laundry...

Then I went upstairs, washed up and went to take a nap. It was about 5:00 PM when I got back up and found the floor downstairs was wet yet again. I consulted with a friend and he suggested using the bacterial drain cleaner I used on the sink traps to make a gallon and pour it directly into the cleanout. So, I did. But, that means I can't let any water go down the drains for 6-8 hours!

I thought about some easy dinner and thought I'd just make hot dogs and beans. But, there were two problems with that. I had no hot dogs in the freezer and so Campbell's pork and beans in the pantry. What I did have were smoked sausage and Bush's baked beans. So, after slicing the sausage on the bias, I seared it in the big frying pan. Then I added the beans to warm them up. It tasted good, but wasn't the taste I was hoping for...

I watched a little TV, but nothing really caught my attention. So, I switched to reading until I got sleepy and then went to bed.

Oh, in case anybody missed it, I never talked about all the kids who came to my door with their cute costumes. Why? Because nobody did...