Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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As an old geezer, myself, I love this one!

A Newt Night

I got the two bags of garbage out to the road before 7:00 AM. So, from my perspective, I'd met today's mission and anything else is just gravy!

Work today was more of a series of annoying problems rather than something big I could accomplish. So, when I got home at 5:15 PM, I was determined to tackle something (anything)!

I decided to clean Newt's tank. I scooped up a cup or so of tank water in a clear glass bowl. Then I grabbed Newt, put him in the bowl and put a saucer on top. I stuck the bowl on top the fridge (I like to think this gives him a bit of a different world view, every now and then).

I siphoned out the water and then got started washing the calcium and crude off everything (the fake tree branch, the real rock, the filter, and the tank sides). I replaced the two fake plants (just to give him a change of scenery) and then rebuilt the filter.

BTW, I obviously have waited too long for this as some of the calcium deposits on the tank glass I just could not get off. But, I know they make some kind of wipe for this (I've bought them before) and I'll pick some up next time I'm by PetSmart.

Finally, at 7:15 PM, I refilled the tank, turned the filter on and set the stove timer for one hour. I am always afraid that I've left something in the tank that will hurt poor Newt. That is a direct result of how much he wiggles when I put him back!

I mopped up any excess water on the dresser top, the wood floors, and in the bathroom. I hung the siphon hose over the upstairs shower head to dry (after rinsing) and put the two scrubbers in there as well.

I was starving then, and not willing to mess around. So, I popped a Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie in the microwave. Just about then, the stove timer went off and I put Newt back in his tank. He wiggled (like always) so I kept a close eye on him.

I ate my dinner watching TV and went to bed, content with the day at 11:30 PM.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pain in the Neck Monday...

I woke up on Monday morning with a seriously sore neck. I had decided on Sunday to replace my damn-near flat pillows with two fresh ones from the daybed in the office. But, sleeping at that new angle put a severe crick (crink?) in my neck...

At lunch, I went to Kroger's and did my grocery shopping. I spent just over $90.00 and got everything on my list, except for laundry detergent. It wasn't on sale and I still have another full container, so I guess I'll wait a bit. By the time I got through the line, made it home and put everything away, it was damn near time to go back. I did choke down a sandwich for my lunch, though.

After work, I did do a quick tour of the front yard and found some blooming daffodils. So, I took some photos of those and of a hyacinth that's about to pop. I posted them for you.

I tried calling my daughter Melissa, but just got her recorder. When we were talking yesterday, she forgot to mention anything regarding severe weather. But, when I watched the Today show this morning, like eight tornadoes touched down near Charlotte last night (near where she lives). From the pictures, it looked like hell broke loose in North Carolina! I hope everyone is okay...

We do have occasional tornadoes here in Michigan. Not as many as say Kansas or Oklahoma, but when we do get them, they're killer. In fact, they said the deadliest tornado in the US was here (I forget the year) and over 100 people were killed. I will always remember the one that hit New Baltimore (where I went to school and where a lot of my people now live), when I was a lad. A classmate of mine's brother got hit in the head and suffered a severe closed head injury. Unlike Amy, he never really recovered.

Okay, so now I'm freakin' myself out. I am just gonna assume that Dave and Melissa, and Dustin, Linnea and Gavin are all okay.

I switched out the old kitty litter for the new bag I bought today and have it staged for the garbage people tomorrow.

Now, onto dinner. I'm not really hungry, but know I should eat something. I got out the two remaining pork shops to come to room temp and then boiled a handful of quartered red potatoes. I warmed up one of the pork chops in the microwave (the other went back in the fridge). When the potatoes were fork tender, I mashed them using a little buttermilk, some butter and some fresh snipped chives from my garden.

I ate that watching some TV. I checked my email again about 10:00 PM and found one from Melissa, who had to work late. She said the tornadoes were not near them, although they did have bad storms, but everyone's okay. On that note, I thought I would go to bed, so I did.

Monday, March 29, 2010

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Daffodils #1

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Daffodils, #2

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Hyacinths, starting to bloom

A Different Sunday Supper

I woke up on Sunday morning at 7:30 AM. The sheets and blankets still smell good, so I was in no hurry to get out of bed.

When I finally did get up, I posted the Blog entry and then made a big breakfast! I made a pancake batter we've used since Jake was small and let that get happy while I fried up four pieces of thick bacon. The coffee maker is bubbling away with a four cup load. Life is good!

Well, "life is good" may be over the top. It's raining outside. It wasn't supposed to rain until this afternoon. So, I either get wet or change the menu for Sunday's supper. Hmmm...

I made all twelve pancakes and took the four best ones for me. The rest I sailed out the back door to the birds. After breakfast, I poured most of the bacon grease into my cup in the fridge and took out some pork chops to thaw.

I talked with Melissa in the afternoon and then my friend B___.

About 6:00 PM, I started dinner. I fried all four pork chops in the remaining bacon grease and then set two aside to cool. The other two I deboned and cut into cubes. I added the meat to some Chop Suey vegetables and warmed that while I made some rice.

I made a bowl of it, topped it with soy sauce and went to watch my Sunday shows. The Chop Suey was excellent, BTW. During a commercial break, I put the left over rice, pork shops and the Chop Suey into the fridge. I went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

hey, I'm just talking aboupt Shaft (er... Scruffy)

he's one bad mother ******. (Shut your mouth)

I really like Scruffy's attitude. He just does not give a ahit about anything. If you know him, you'd know what I am talking about.

A black cat is cool!

Sunday Morning, Over Easy...

(Man, I've been there. Wish to hell I was there now!)

Country Comfort

Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

Soon the pines will be falling everywhere
Village children fight each other for a share
And the 6:09 goes roaring past the creek
Deacon Lee prepares his sermon for next week

I saw grandma yesterday down at the store
Well she's really going fine for eighty four
Well she asked me if sometime I'd fix her barn
Poor old girl she needs a hand to run the farm

And it's good old country comfort in my bones
Just the sweetest sound my ears have ever known
Just an old-fashioned feeling fully-grown
Country comfort's and a truck that's going home

Down at the well they've got a new machine
The foreman says it cuts man-power by fifteen
Yeah but that ain't natural well so old Clay would say
You see he's a horse-drawn man until his dying day

And it's good old country comfort in my bones
Just the sweetest sound my ears have ever known
Just an old-fashioned feeling fully-grown
Country comfort's and a truck that's going home

Now the old fat goose is flying cross the sticks
The hedgehog's done in clay between the bricks
And the rocking chair's creaking on the porch
Across the valley moves the herdsman with his torch

And it's good old country comfort in my bones
Just the sweetest sound my ears have ever known
Just an old-fashioned feeling fully-grown
Country comfort's and a truck that's going home

A Slight Saturday Story

I did go back to sleep but didn't sleep until noon. I slept until after 9:00 AM which is WAY late for me! But, it was still below freezing outside. So, sitting on the couch with a cup of steaming coffee and a blanket, I made the executive decision to postpone grocery shopping until Sunday morning. Hey, "Saturday Morning Over Easy" is on!

When I noticed the cats were both in the living room, I stripped the bed and started the weekend wash. Then I rinsed the few dishes left in the sink and started the dishwasher. It sounded like I was working my butt off, but it's just the machines. My butt was comfortably back on the couch...

Since I didn't shop, I can't make the Saturday dinner I'd planned. So, around 3:00 PM (when I was finally hungry), I warmed up a can of Hormel chili and topped it with a package of oyster crackers. I was in the bedroom by then, having remade the bed. I was watching the taped Saturday morning cooking shows. The sheets, blanket and bedspread smelled so good, I fell asleep and took an hour nap.

Since my five library books are due today, I thought it was my duty to read the last one before taking them back one day late... I tried, God knows I tried! But, a TV show came on I wanted to watch before I finished. So, I gave it up (I'll take it out again sometime).

When I became hungry again, I went with comfort food (the leftovers are all gone, you see) and made the blue box of mac & cheese. With all the sleep I've had (and, admittedly, the lack of productivity today), I stayed up until after 1:00 AM, then I finally went to bed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

BTW

I checked the outdoor thermometer at 3:00 AM. The moon was shining brightly, but I still needed to use the flashlight. It was 23 degrees F. here.

This is Spring?

The Friday Finale...

Friday started with a sunny day, but cold, here. It was only 35 degrees F. at 11:00 AM when I went home for lunch.

I changed my mind about "community companionship" and blew off the last week of the Lenten fish fry at St. Vals. I know, I know... I should have tried it. But it's late, I'm bone tired and I don't feel like any "community companionship."

Back home after work, I changed clothes and then answered the phone. It was my son Jeremy, calling about an urgent business problem. I don't want to get into it, but upper management at his company has decided that IT costs are too much. We talked about strategies and I agreed with most of his conclusions. We hung up when he reached home.

As I said, I was really tired (it's been almost four months since I worked two 40- hour weeks in a row). But I told myself to "buck up" (that's the cowboy in me) and went through the circulars to make my grocery shopping list for Saturday morning. I finished that up after checking all my emails, etc., just after 7:00 PM.

I had an apple at 3:30 PM, so I wasn't really hungry yet, but I warmed up a can of chili for my dinner.

I watched just a little TV before going to bed too early, which is why I woke up at 2:00 AM and was still awake when I wrote and posted this after 5:00 AM. I plan on going to bed after this and sleeping till noon (but I won't).

Sigh...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rain, rain, go away!

Cold, too! It was raining here in Redford when I went into work. A cold, damp, chilling rain (I think the high today is only supposed to be 43 degrees F.).

It was still raining when I went to lunch, but I have a mission: I'm out of bird seed. So, I drove to the Feed Store (Five Mile and Middlebelt) and bought 40 pounds of their "Michigan Mix" for $15 buck US.

BTW, there is some confusion about the name of that road. Half the street signs say "Middlebelt," the others "Middle Belt." Who knows?

Anyway, I directed the young lad to load it into the back seat (easier to get out than the trunk) and headed home. I set it in the garage and went in to eat lunch.

At 5:00 PM, the rain had stopped, but the chill was still in the air. Once home, I took off my shoes, and deposited the contents of my pockets into my drawer. In spite of my discomfort, I have a mission to accomplish. I stuck a trash bag in my back pocket, put on my boots, grabbed the 40 pounds of feed and headed out back.

I also stuck a folding knife in my pocket. It was a lock-back "Old Timer" knife I've had for years. I needed something to cut the plastic with.

Actually, I had a number of knives in my drawers. Some are store-bought, one is homemade and one (Jake and Carla's present) hand made. I did buy a shadow box to display them but never got around to it. There are three I really treasure: the one I stabbed my friend B___ with, the one I made from a file and the one Jake and Carla had made for me.

Anyway, I made myself go out into the cold with the bird seed. I kept repeating my mantra: "I do this for my Mother." I refilled the feeder, spread a lot of the seed on the ground (for Mourning Doves) and refilled the two suet cages. Then I was back inside, feeling chilled, but feeling good.

My friend B___ called and we caught each other up on what's been going on. We hung up and I warmed up the last of the pasta for dinner. I watched a little TV but went to bed early.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday Washout

It's supposed to be 60 degrees F. here, today, with little or no wind. So, I hoped to get the side lawn racked.

I wore my leather jacket into work, but switched it out with a spring jacket at lunch.

Back at home after work, I switched on the computer. I went to a site I'd sent myself and then tried to go elsewhere. But, Caley the cat had tried to jump up on the desk, missed it and knocked the modem over. All of a sudden, my Internet was gone!

I reset the modem and tried it again... No dice. I was pissed! I wanted to rake the side lawn tonight! But, I called Brighthouse and asked for help (after I reset the modem again with no results.)

She said she showed I have a blah, blah, blah with a battery going into the modem and I needed to replace the batteries. I told her, "Bullshit, there are only three leads into the modem. The power, the phone line and the computer jack. None of them have any in-line batteries!"

So, she said she would reset the modem and give it five minutes and try it again. So, I did. No luck!

So, I gave up and called the Web Administrator. He suggested pushing the bottom button (on my modem, it says battery) and waiting five minutes. So, I did.

By God, it worked!

Finally, I went outside. Rather than begin raking (it was getting late), I took the tarp off the outdoor stuff. The tarp I laid on top of the grille and the lawn tractor (its big!) to thoroughly dry before putting it in the attic for the summer.

Then I set up the outdoor furniture and hoses and put the wheel barrow in place.

Back inside, I put the Wednesday laundry I'd started earlier into the dryer and set the stove timer. I ate some reheated pasta for my dinner.

After hanging up the laundry, I watched a little TV but went to bed early.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

101 Small Pleasures

101 small pleasures you can enjoy every day

by Sarah McColl, Shine staff

1. coloring (yes, grown-ups can do it, too)
2. crisp cotton sheets
3. soft skin
4. old family recipes
5. the first daffodils of spring
6. sleeping in
7. an exercise endorphin high
8. window boxes
9. a perfect cup of coffee
10. a genuine compliment (giving or receiving)
11. the way babies smell
12. a handwritten letter
13. waking up in a good mood...for no real reason
14. singing in the shower
15. finding a couple forgotten dollars in your pocket
16. doing something nice for your neighbor
17. a home cooked meal
18. laughing
19. movie theater popcorn
20. playing hookey
21. a bubble bath
22. swimming
23. an afternoon nap
24. street musicians
25. your favorite song
26. saying thank you
27. helping someone in need
28. old fashioned photo booths
29. fresh whipped cream
30. inspiring blogs
31. a glass of wine
32. rainy afternoons
33. the funny things kids say
34. a novel you can get lost in
35. finding the perfect piece of clothing...on sale
36. clean laundry
37. the wind in your hair
38. treating the person behind you at the drive-thru
39. sharing an umbrella
40. the smell of lavender
41. a long walk that clears your head
42. a bear hug
43. The Beatles
44. smiling at a stranger
45. eating with chopsticks (Chinese food optional)
46. butterflies
47. staying in your pj's all day
48. singing along to the radio and knowing all the words
49. fresh herbs
50. ordering in pizza
51. happy endings...even if they're fictional
52. flying a kite
53. puppies
54. root beer floats
55. holding open the door...
56. ...or having someone hold the door for you
57. fountain soda
58. white, fluffy towels
59. sunshine
60. spending an afternoon at a museum
61. really great advice
62. green lights all the way home
63. the sound of rain hitting the windows
64. sitting in a booth
65. holding hands
66. a great hair day with no effort
67. building a fort with your kids
68. when someone falls asleep with their head on your shoulder
69. fireflies
70. the perfect taco
71. geraniums on a windowsill
72. slow dancing
73. the smell of fresh-baked bread
74. cheesy, uplifting musicals
75. great stories
76. the smell of gasoline
77. the cold side of the pillow
78. love letters
79. old friends...
80. ...new friends
81. a pull-through parking space
82. a baguette -- crisp on the outside, airy on the inside
83. when a dog licks your hand
84. sitting at the counter at an old-fashioned diner
85. using your favorite dishes
86. reading your child a bedtime story
87. Girl Scout Cookies
88. flossing
89. kissing someone you love
90. the smell of onions and garlic cooking
91. hot chocolate
92. jumping in puddles
93. old photographs
94. birds hopping on the sidewalk
95. Ella Fitzgerald
96. a spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar
97. your softest t-shirt
98. a new magazine in the mail
99. fireplaces
100. having exact change
101. bacon and pancakes cooking on Saturday morning

Garbage Day, Again...

When I took the garbage out at 7:00 AM, it was overcast, windy and cold. I decided not to make the same mistake I did yesterday and wore my leather jacket into work.

It was a little warmer at lunchtime, but still cloudy. Imagine my surprise when a co-worker told me at 3:00 PM there wasn't a cloud in the sky!

So, getting home after work, I thought I should at least start raking the side lawn. Tomorrow is supposed to be less windy, sunny and a possible high of 60 degrees F., so I imagine I'll get the bulk of it done then. But, every little bit helps, I guess.

But, as Fate (or Luck) would have it, my daughter Melissa called, just before I walked outside. Not wanting to be a bad Dad, I thought it was more important to sit on the couch and chat than to go outside and work. The things I do for my kids...

The big news from North Carolina: They already have had to cut their grass down there!

Anyway, it was too late to go outside by the time we hung up, so I gave up that idea for today.

I ate more of the pasta for lunch, so I decided a light dinner might be in order. So, I cut the winter melon in half. I covered the cut side of one half with cling wrap and stuck it back in the fridge. I seeded the other half, cut it into wedges, cut off the rind and cut that into chunks. I put them on a plate and hit them with sea salt.

Then I opened up my package of prosciutto (four ounces of paper-thin slices). I sat on the couch with the magazine that came in today's mail and ate and read. I'd peel off a slice of the prosciutto and eat it, followed by a few chunks of melon. Delicious!

I have heard you can also eat prosciutto with figs the same way. I think I'll try that next...

I watched a little uninspiring TV and then went to bed early.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Back at it!

Monday morning, I watched the weather before venturing out. It's supposed to be cooler (high of like just 50 degrees F.) with afternoon rain. So, I grabbed my thin rain jacket and headed to work. What I didn't factor into the equation was the damn wind! So, just walking into work from the parking lot chilled me to the bone!

And, coming home from work, the rain that was falling was icy. Odd, that the first full week of Spring should be colder than the last few weeks of Winter.

When I was digging around in the freezer for that cauliflower, I found a bag of small, cooked shrimp I must have gotten on sale. How do I know that? Because I rarely buy small shrimp and never, ever cooked!

Why never cooked? Because, unless you are using them thawed and as is for, say, shrimp cocktail or an addition to a cold salad, they are useless. Shrimp (and scallops) are the easiest things to overcook, you see. Once overcooked, they taste rubbery. So, by cooking the already cooked shrimp again, you have doomed your dish to failure!

But, I have my own remedy that sometimes works. I put a jar of room-temperature Alfredo sauce into a pan, add the shrimp and slowly (slowly) warm it up. Stir frequently. Do not let this come to a boil or anything, just get it warm.

So, after taking all the tails off (with larger shrimp, I might leave them on for presentation sake) I put the rinsed shrimp into the sauce and started the long process to get them warm without cooking them again.

Meanwhile I cooked a pound of penne pasta to al dente, drained it and added it back to the pot. I folded in the now warm sauce and shrimp and let that get happy for a few minutes. I plated some, topped it with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and went in to see what might be on TV.

Dinner was excellent, BTW.

I was in luck! Turner Movie Classics (TMC) had back to back Bogart films!! I watched "The Big Sleep" and then "The Maltese Falcon." The nice thing about TMC is that they show the whole movie without commercial interruptions. I went to bed at midnight or so.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Accidentally Vegetarian

I awoke at 7:30 AM on Sunday morning. I fired up the coffee maker (what the hell am I gonna do with eight cups of coffee?) and then eased into the day. I'm still bummed about yesterday.

I posted the Blog entry (well, two of them actually) and then messed around on the 'Net for a while.

The house is all clean and the laundry is done. I should do my taxes, but fear that wouldn't improve my mood. So, I just took the day off. I read a little of my book, a magazine, watched TV here and there. I ate wedges of the cantaloupe throughout the day.

For dinner, I got out the rest of that cauliflower I'd frozen at Christmas, boiled it and ate it with butter and salt. I watched my usual Sunday night shows and went to bed just after 11:00 PM.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Morning, Over Easy...

Michigan, my Michigan! I was born here, and live here and will die here. I watched the freighter's going up and down the river (and even saw one that was stuck in the ice for two days and and an ice-breaker had to free) for years living on the river. It's a rich heratige beginning from the wooden schooners Jake and I checked out once to the Edmund Fitzgerald.


The Great Lakes Song
~ Written by Pat Dailey & Shel Silverstein


The Great Lakes are a diamond on the hand of North America
Brightly shining jewel on the friendship bordering
Freshwater highway coming down from Canada
All along the shoreline, you can hear them sing

Sweet mother Michigan, father Superior
Coming down from Mackinac and Sault St. Marie
Blue water Huron, Flow down to Lake Erie-O
Fall to Ontario and run on out to sea

Hearty are the seamen on the ships that load the iron ore
Sailing out of Thunder Bay and bound for Buffalo
Hearty are the fishermen just like their fathers were before
aye they'll bury me at sea, come my time to go

Sweet mother Michigan, father Superior
Coming down from Mackinac and Sault St. Marie
Blue water Huron, Flow down to Lake Erie-O
Fall to Ontario and run on out to sea

Oh the tales the sailors spin of mermaids singing in the wind
the sinking of the Bessemer, the drowning of the crew
Memories of waters crossed, of women won and fortunes lost
Are etched upon their faces and their faded old tattoos

Down below the quarter decks the old men mend the fishing nets
Up above the windy bridge the young men curse into the wind
All along the winds of the straits the wives and mothers lie awake
Pray on lady of the lake to send them home again

Sweet mother Michigan, father Superior
Coming down from Mackinac and Sault St. Marie
Blue water Huron, Flow down to Lake Erie-O
Fall to Ontario and run on out to sea

Sweet mother Michigan, father Superior
Coming down from Mackinac and Sault St. Marie
Blue water Huron, Flow down to Lake Erie-O
Fall to Ontario and run on out to sea.

A Few Remaining Saturday Details

No, I didn't have any breakfast or lunch. I did have two cups of instant coffee (I wanted to keep the pot clean for my guests) in the morning, for motivation.

It was supposed to rain in the afternoon, but when I went to the market, it was cool, and sunny! It did cloud up later, but as late as 9:00 PM, still no rain.

At some point in the night, though, when I got up for a bathroom break, I noticed the road was wet and shiny. I don't know what time, because I try not to look at the clock during these events (it only feeds my insomnia).

As far as the rest of the evening goes, I watched (for the second time ever) the movie, Lawrence of Arabia. The first time I saw it, I was in 10th grade (I think) and the nuns marched the whole high school (all 100 of us) two blocks over to the New Baltimore theater. I must say, the sweeping views of the desert on the silver screen were NOT matched on my 20-inch TV.

I warmed up a burger and ate it sans bun with just some A1 sauce. If I had been in a better mood, I would have sauteed some onions for a topping. But, I ate it plain and it was boring...

I went to bed when the movie ended at midnight.

A Colossal Screw-Up!

I work up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. I booted the cats off the bed, stripped it and threw the bedding into the washer. Then I posted the Blog entry.

Next, I started cleaning the house. I was very excited, because I was having guests today. I had talked to Carla on Friday night and thought she said they wanted to come over and play some games. We settled on three o'clock. I told her I had prosciutto and a cantaloupe for a main snack.

So, I swept and polished the wood floors, washed the kitchen and bathroom floors, cleaned the toilets, then washed the counters and stove. I cleaned the glass surfaces on the tables and all the mirrors. About noon, I started thinking that my snack wouldn't be enough, so I got a recipe Melissa had sent for a pretzel dip, wrote down the ingredients needed and headed to the nearest market.

Back home, I put one 8-ounce package of cream cheese (you were supposed to get cream cheese with chives, but mine are already up, so I just snipped some), 8-ounces of crumbled blue cheese, 8-ounces of grated sharp cheddar cheese and one cup of heavy whipping cream into the food processor. I blended that all together and put it in the fridge (for at least two hours to get happy).

I also picked up a big bag of those little pretzel sticks and a winter melon (to offer a different taste along with the prosciutto, rather than just the cantaloupe).

Speaking of Melissa, she called, but we hung up just before 3:00 PM. I put the grounds and the water in the coffee pot, in case they wanted some coffee later. Then I went and lighted the candle in the living room and the ones in each bathroom, grabbed my latest magazine, sat on the couch and waited... and waited... and waited...

Then I started to worry. Something bad must have happened as they are never late (if anything they usually show up early). Something so bad they didn't even have time to call!

So, I called their house at 5:00 PM. No answer! Now I knew it! Somebody's in the hospital (Jake, Carla or the dog) or something.

About 6:30 PM, having gotten tired of pacing, I went to check my email (first time since this morning - hey! I been busy!!) and found one from Carla, asking ME what happened? Why didn't I show up AT THEIR HOUSE at 3:00 PM?

I replied and told her about the mix-up but then decided that wasn't enough. So, I called and got Jake on the phone. He didn't sound as ticked at me as I was with myself. I only hope Carla isn't. I know the dog still loves me, though.

I went to each candle and blew it out...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

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Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for the Next Week

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Crocus

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Ruhlman's Corned Beef and Cabbage (photo courtesy of his wife, Donna)

The only living crocus on San Jose

I was pretty sure after last Spring the damn squirrels had eaten all the crocus bulbs. So, I was amazed yesterday when I checked the front yard.

Now, the lilac had buds all over it, the daffodils and hyacinth are coming up and the only disappointment is the forsythia I planted two years ago.

The two forsythia out back are like wild weeds. I cut them back each fall and they grow like crazy all summer.

But, in spite of me pampering it, the little guy out front just barely hangs on. I have watered it, fertilized it, mulched it and so on. but its still just a little stick. WTF?

Anyway, during my inspection, I was amazed to see two crocus up and blooming! They sure weren't there last year! So, I took a picture for you.

I'm with Anthony Bourdain!

Damn Ruhlman!!!

Note: He's a food writer that occasional takes trips with Tony.

Anyway, I was totally happy with my St. Patrick's Day dinner of corned beef and cabbage. I thought it was excellent!

Then I read Michael's Blog...

He cut up 4-5 ounces (he likes weights) of bacon into lardons (1/8 inch strips) and rendered down the fat. Then he seared his cabbage wedges in the bacon grease before putting them in the liquid...

Why didn't I think of that?

I posted a picture his wife Donna took of the plate.

Finally Friday

It's supposed to be another (if the last for a while) great day today, sunny and a high of 69 degrees F. here! But, since its Michigan, it all goes to shit for the weekend (Saturday: high 43 degrees and cloudy with afternoon rain; Sunday: high 50 degrees with a rain/snow mix).

But, today's the day! After lunch, pulling in the parking lot, I saw a co-worker with the top down on his convertible. I told him, "Now, you're just showing off!" He said, "No, this is the first time in years I could do this in March!"

So, when I got home, I hurried up with the little chores (treating the cats, checking the mail, changing clothes, etc.) and was outside by 5:45 PM. It was still 67 degrees, BTW. I got my work gloves and my leaf rake and started raking the front yard. I did it slowly and methodically, so it took a while. But I did a thorough job and didn't hurt my back (always a plus!)

I haven't undone the tarp that's covering the wheelbarrow and lawn furniture yet, so all I could do was to rake the debris into the ditch. Then, knowing it's a bit early but hoping to take advantage of the coming rain, I added some grass seed to the bare spots. Then I put everything away, shut the garage door and washed up. It was 7:15 PM.

I'll have to do the side lawn on the next nice day.

I warmed up a burger for my dinner (I was starving but two seemed too much). I ate it watching some taped TV and then went to sleep. As I write this, it dawns on me I forgot to check and see if the Friday Night Fights were on! Damn!

Friday, March 19, 2010

First BBQ of the Season

I reset the alarm for 7:00 AM. I have a nine o'clock dentist appointment that I made BEFORE I learned I could work a full week's worth of hours. But, since I have two cavities, I figured I should get these fixed.

So, I got scrubbed and shaved and headed out at 8:50 (the dentist is only about two miles from here).

To his credit, he did ask me if I wanted any anesthesia. I said "No," realizing half the damn company is thinking I am too old, much less me sitting there at my desk, drooling. At 10:10 AM, I was at work, with two cavities filled and my mouth feeling strange.

Now, I can realize why "water-boarding" worked. I was upside down in the chair (when did dentists think that was okay?), he was using the water-soaked drill and the assistant was ineffectually trying to suck out the water. I couldn't breathe, couldn't talk, couldn't swallow and couldn't catch my breath!

All in all, it was not a positive experience.

It was nice at lunch and beautiful after work (sunny and 67 degrees F.). I had an errand to run after work so I didn't get home until 5:45 PM, but the first thing I did (after treating the cats and changing my shoes) was to drag out the grille. Man, what a mess. Surface rust had collected on all the cast iron grates. But, I fired up the charcoal lighter can and went inside.

I checked the phone and found a great message from my grandson, Carl V. He thanked me for the card and the book I'd sent him for his birthday. It's not until Sunday, but I fear the Post Office and sent it early. He had mentioned that both he and his father liked Iron Chef America, but liked the original Iron Chef (from Japan) better. I said, "Hey, me too!" So, I sent him a book about that show (bios, background, etc.) I think he will like it!

I got out the bratwurst I'd thawed and 1 1/2 pounds of ground chuck. I formed the ground chuck into four big patties, put the little depression in the middle (so they don't "puff" up) and hit both sides with the house seasoning. I let that come to room temp while I checked on the charcoal.

I put the charcoal on the lower rack, sprayed the grates with cooking oil and shut the lid. After a good 15 minutes, I went back out and wire-brushed the grates. When I had them cleaned to my satisfaction, I applied more cooking oil, shut the lid and went and got the food.

BTW, it seemed like most of my neighbors were out, too. They were raking their lawns, biking, etc. My two favorite street urchins across the road were trying to fly a kite (there was a good breeze coming from the West that kinda canceled the warmth, but I was on the East side, in front of the garage). Ah, Spring!!!

I first seared the brats on all four sides and then moved them to the cool side of the grill. Then I did the burgers. When they looked good, I put everything on a clean platter and went inside, closing the garage door for the night.

By now it was late, so I just ate two brats with Dijon mustard. The rest of the meat I let cool and then popped into the fridge. And so, the first BBQ of 2010 ended successfully!

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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

I finally got a full night's sleep. In fact, I overslept an hour on Wednesday morning. So, I had to hustle a bit to get to work on time. But, before I left, I took the slow cooker crock out of the fridge and put it in the slow cooker and turned it on low.

It was, again, cold in the morning (37 degrees here at 7:00 AM), but it warmed up quickly as the sun rose (50+ degrees at 11:00 AM).

I went over to the physical therapy place and dropped off a box of candy and a card for Maureen. She wasn't there, of course, (it's St. Patrick's Day). As always, the receptionist urged me to go over to her house (She decorates it like some people do for Halloween and has a buffet feast and an open bar from noon until forever). This time, the receptionist even gave me a Yahoo map to her house and a personal invite from Maureen. I debated this all afternoon. But, I decided you must maintain a professional distance between you and your therapist, so I didn't go.

When I got home after work, the smells of the corned beef reached into the garage. It was 63 degrees and sunny at the time.

My friend B___ sent me an IM that it was beautiful outside and suggested I make a drink and go outside and give him a call. So, I tried. The phone was dead! I checked and the phone and TV were both working. But, the telephone light on the modem was blinking. I tried calling B___ on my cell phone and found the minutes I had left had expired. So, I sent him another IM, explaining the situation and then went to the cable's Website and found out how to reset the modem.

I did that and then checked the phone. It worked!!! So, I fixed another drink, went out on the front porch and called B___. While we were talking, across the street in the parking lot, I saw a bunch of kids having fun. In my count, there were four kids on scooters, two on in-line skates and three on bikes (one with training wheels). It really was a nice day!!!

Back inside, I started the Wednesday wash. Then, I took out the corned beef and vegetables, put them in my cake pan, covered it with tin foil to stay warm and stuck that in the microwave (or I could have used the oven, both are insulated). Then I cut the half head of cabbage into four chunks, put them in the liquid and turned it to high. I set the timer for 30 minutes and then put the wash in the dryer.

I watched a taped show while I waited. Then I cut off the fat cap on the brisket, sliced it against the grain and plated a dish. I topped the corned beef with store bought creamy horseradish sauce (you can, of course, make this yourself).

The dinner was excellent!!!

I hung up my clothes and then put the rest of the dinner (such as it was - the brisket shrinks like you wouldn't believe) in the fridge for either another dinner or maybe Rueben sandwiches.

I watched TV until 10:30 PM and then went to bed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday's Tale

I slept lousy again Monday night. Didn't fall asleep until late and then woke up almost every hour on the hour. I was either too hot or too cold or had to go to the bathroom. When the alarm went off, I swear if I had a handy hammer, I would have smashed it. But, I didn't, so I got up, got ready for work, took the trash out to the road and then left.

Now, it's supposed to sunny and 60 degrees F. today, but it sure didn't feel like it at 7:00 AM!

At lunchtime, I made two stops before going home. One was the Post Office to mail a package (shhh... it's a birthday secret) and the other at Radio Shack. The batteries in the portable phone next to my bed have recently refused to recharge. So, I was hoping they might have a replacement set. Took a bit of online crosschecking and then searching inventory, but they found one! Gotta love the Shack!

I ate another piece of the strata for lunch (but it's starting to look bad). I guess I should have trusted CC and cut the recipe in half. BTW, it really is sunny and quite warm now.

Back at work, once again the afternoon was long and sleepy. Fortunately, I had a training class from 3:00-4:00 PM. Now, normally, that would be fraught with peril. You're sitting in a darkened room, listening to somebody drone on, right? Well, in this case the damn conference room couldn't have been above 50 degrees F. I should have been suspicious when all the other attendees either had an extra sweater or their jackets on. Since this was my first (I'm usually off on Tuesday, as you may recall) I was in my short sleeved shirt. By the time the class was over, I had goose bumps on both my arms and my nipples were hard as rocks! But, at least I didn't fall asleep.

Back home after 5:00 PM, I got the mail (the 2010 Census was there), treated the cats and changed my clothes. I eased into the night by looking at the circulars in the mail on the couch with a drink, after changing clothes. But that got old and I went out to wash the pasta pan from yesterday's dinner. Then I went out in the garage to grab some potatoes and a small head of cabbage for tomorrow's slow cooker dinner (St. Patrick's Day, remember?) Now, I know (as I'm sure you know) corned beef and cabbage is NOT a traditional Irish meal (the average Irish ate much more lamb or mutton), but it is a tradition here in America.

So, when I finally got off my lazy butt, I put all the ingredients into the removable inside of the slow cooker. Now you should know there are literally hundreds of slow-cooker recipes for this, but this is the one I like the best.

So, I put in the slow cooker two stalks of celery and four peeled carrots (both rough chopped), a medium onion (cut into four wedges) and four potatoes (cut into quarters). I got out the corned beef and rinsed it off. I threw the seasoning packet in the pot and then cut the brisket to fit. I added a can of beer and then enough water to cover the meat. I stuck it in the fridge for the night.

You may have noticed there was no cabbage at this point. That's cooked 30 minutes before serving so it stays crunchy.

I ate more of the macaroni salad for dinner and fell asleep early (finally!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday Moanin'

When I got up with the alarm, it was freezing in the house. At first I thought the furnace had gone out. Then I realized I didn't change the clock in the thermostat! I think I forgot to do it last year, too.

So, I reset it and went back to bed and covered up for a while, waiting for the house to warm up. Finally, I got up and got ready for work. I did drink two cups of coffee before leaving. I was really dragging! Did I ever mention I hate Daylight Savings Time?

I went home at lunch, after stopping at CVS for some things. I had another piece of the strata for lunch.

At home after work, the sun had finally come out, so I spent some time picking up branches in the front yard. Then I switched out the kitty litter and got the garbage ready for tomorrow morning.

Because of the silly time change, I didn't even start to get hungry until after 7:30 PM. I thought I'd like something light, so I made a Macaroni Salad.

I put water in my pasta pot. When it was boiling, I added a tablespoon of salt and a pound of elbow macaroni. I let that cook for about five minutes (or al dente). I drained it and then ran cold water over it until it was cool. I drained it briefly (so the macaroni stays moist; a little moisture will keep the salad from drying out) and put it in a bowl.

I stirred in 1/2 of a small red onion (minced), one rib of celery (fine diced), some of the celery leaves (chopped), 1/4 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley (chopped), two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (about half a large lemon, squeezed), one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper. I stirred that and let the flavors get absorbed by the pasta (about two minutes).

Then I folded in 1 1/2 cups of good mayonnaise. I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste, covered it and put it in the fridge to chill. Then I fixed myself a big bowl and went to eat, watching TV. Hmmm, not bad... Using the Dijon instead of yellow mustard gave it a bit different kick.

Also, note: the salad can be covered and kept in the fridge for up to two days. Check the consistency and seasoning before serving, though. If it's dried out, just stir in a little warm water to loosen the texture.

I tried everything, but couldn't get to sleep before 12:30 AM (groan).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gloomy Finish to the Weekend

I woke up at what the now changed clocks said was 7:30 AM on Sunday. I stripped the bed (much to Scruffy's disgust and protestations) and put the bedding into the wash.

Since I'm having the strata for bunch, I settled on a cup of coffee on the couch. When the buzzer went off, I switched the sheets, etc., to the dryer and put the blanket and bedspread in the washer.

At 9:30 AM, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F. while I melted a stick of butter in a saucepan. I poured the butter on top of the strata and then covered it with Special K cereal (she said you could also used crushed Corn Flakes, BTW). I put it in the oven and set the timer for one hour. I went back to my book and the couch.

After the hour was up, I took it out of the oven. It had puffed up and, in fact, spilled a little over the sides. After my first (flopped) strata, I guess I hadn't thought about that or I would have put the pan on a half-sheet tray. Oh, well...

I let it set the obligatory 10 minutes while I refilled my pill box for the coming week. I forgot to mention it's been raining off and on all morning here. It's overcast and gloomy and I have to turn lights on in the rooms I'm in.

So, I cut into the Christmas Strata. She said you should serve it with fresh fruit and hot cinnamon rolls, but I have neither. So, I cut it into eight pieces, using a pizza cutter (I figured it would be easier to get through all the Canadian bacon that way). I plated it and ate it on the couch.

Excellent! I loved the flavors of it (the Canadian bacon, the sharp cheddar cheese, and just the hint of green pepper) and the crunchiness of the cereal was a nice texture change to the dish. What I wasn't prepared for was how filling it was! I planned on eating two pieces, but could barely get the first one down.

Thanks, Cathy! You were right, that recipe's a winner!

I did the last load of laundry and then headed back to the couch. I was reading and occasionally looking at the cat hair on the carpet. I was thinking I should get off my lazy butt when my friend B___ called. Ah, a welcome distraction! We talked for a while, probably longer than he planned (he would start to hang up and I would change the subject, so I didn't have to get up and clean). As I've said before, "Use your friends wisely!"

But, finally he did hang up and I did have to get up. I did get all the cat hair off the carpet and the rest of the rooms swept. But I made an executive decision to NOT dry mop or wash the kitchen and bathroom floors today. I went back to my book, instead.

My daughter Melissa called around 5:00 PM. She was telling me something when I said, "Yeah, I heard. Amy (her sister) mentioned it in her comment." She said, "Her comment?" I said, "Yes, if you remember, you insisted on me posting our conversation." She said, "Oh my God! Why would you listen to me? Can you take it out?" So, after we hung up, I deleted that part and Amy's comment (sorry Amy). This Blog is never, ever meant to embarrass anybody, although I am sure I occasionally and inadvertently do (mostly myself).

So, then it was time for another executive decision. Do I make the fancy dinner I'd planned or just eat something quick and good. Quick and good won out (I'm always lazy on gloomy days). So I heated up a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew and ate it with a couple pieces of buttered bread.

I went in to watch my Sunday Night shows and tried to fall asleep at 11:00 PM. I wasn't all that sleepy (knowing it was really 10:00) but finally fell asleep, without realizing there was a time bomb ticking away...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Note!

Long time readers may have noticed a change in the Friday night Blog and the comments. This was at the request of my daughter, M______, who recanted her earlier suggestion that I publish our telephone conversation, along with her sister's comment.

So, I deleted both the reference to her and her sister's comment. I apologize for any confusion.

Soggy Saturday

I woke up late on Saturday, due to my conversation with my daughter, Melissa. However, I am not assigning blame. I thoroughly enjoyed our talk.

But, as I had a 10:00 AM barber appointment, I had to kick it into gear. I put on a four-cup pot of coffee and shaved. Then I hit the shower. I got dressed and left the house with just minutes to spare, after slamming down a cup of coffee. It was just sprinkling here at that time.

When my haircut and beard trim was done, I headed up Inkster, north for a mile, to the Value Center Market. By then it was really raining. But, I need two items for Canada Cathy's Christmas strata: Whole milk and Tabasco sauce.

Soaked to the skin, I made my way home. I treated the cats and then started on the strata (for my Sunday supper).

I began by cutting the crusts off of 16 slices of plain old white bread. Now, I don't have a 9" x 13" glass baking dish (which resulted in me trying to adapt the last strata dish and failing miserably) so I used a cake pan instead. I thoroughly buttered it. Then I set 8 pieces of the bread into it. Hmmm, maybe Canadian bread is shorter than ours, but I could only get 7 pieces (one cut in half) in the pan.

Then I got a bit confused. You're supposed to cover the bread with 16 slices of Canadian bacon (what else?) and then 16 slices of sharp cheddar cheese. But that seemed like a LOT of overlap. So I did two layers of eight each bacon and cheese. I hope I didn't screw this one up, too!

Then I topped it with the rest of the bread (to make it like a sandwich).

Next I six beat eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. To the egg mixture, I added 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard, 1/4 cup of minced onion (I used a red onion, but her recipe wasn't specific), 1/4 cup of finely chopped green pepper, a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, three cups of milk and a dash of Tabasco. I poured that over the sandwiches, covered the pan with cling wrap and the snap-on lid and put it in the fridge to stand overnight.

I threw the bread crusts outside for the birds and squirrels and then took a one hour nap in the afternoon.

Later, I checked and there was like NOTHING on TV. I thought of going to my DVD's, but I'd watched them all a gazillion times, So, I watched "True Grit" once again.

When it was over, I performed the spring ritual on all my clocks. I sprung them all forward. The only place this is not just a push of one button is the old mantle clock in the living room and the two clocks in the bathroom.

I had planned a fantastic dinner for tonight, but at 9:00 PM, that seemed a bit much. So, I heated a can of chili, instead. Just be glad I don't call you on a smell-o-phone!

BTW, sometime today, my kitchen faucet started dripping, again. It's a very slow leak, so right now I am going to ignore it.

I watched TV until 10:30 PM and then I went to bed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Secret Garden

My Mother had a garden on the north-side of the breezeway that connected the house to the garage on our old homestead. She always called it her secret garden.

For the life of me, I can't recall what was planted there (for some reason only iris comes to mind) but I loved that place.

Sleeping Positions

I don't know about you, but I like sleeping on my left side. Here's the problem, though. I'm not sure if this is a life-long habit, or something I learned after my (right) shoulder operation.

I do know that's the only way I can fall asleep, these days...

I think I posted this before...

but I love the imagery. Good song they played on Saturday Morning, Over Easy)

Walking in Memphis

~ Marc Cohen

Now Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would --
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
And she said --
"Tell me are you a Christian child?"
And I said "Ma'am I am tonight"

Fun Friday

(Actually, I made that up. But how many times can you write: It was another uneventful day? I wish spring would hurry up so I could get to work outside!)

I went to work and then at lunch, I went to Westborn for a few items I needed for dinners this weekend. So, I picked up some lemons, fresh basil, prosciutto, Canadian bacon and sharp cheddar cheese.

At home, I unpacked the car, treated the cats and ate lunch. Then I went back to work.

Once home for the evening, I gave some thought to supper. But, I ate my apple at work at 4:00 PM (hey, I was busy) and wasn't really hungry. But, around 7:30 PM, I decided I better make some food. So, I got out the two ocean perch filets I'd bought at Meier's. I set up my breading station (flour, eggs and corn meal). BTW, this is the way my Mom always made ocean perch (with cornmeal). Now she always used frozen blocks of fish, but I loved that taste, anyway.

So, I took out the fresh ocean perch and unwrapped it. I smelt it and was stopped in my tracks! They say if you buy fish and it smells like the ocean, it's good. If it smells "fishy," it's bad. Well, this didn't smell just "fishy," it smelled like a girl gone wrong!

I wrapped it back up, walked it out to the garage and put it in the trash. Damn!

I was not that successful putting the flour and cornmeal back in their packages, but I managed it the best I could. I put the eggs back in the fridge and then warmed up a bowl of my clam chowder.

I started watching reruns on TV, waiting for the newest "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network at 10:00 PM. It finally came on and I settled in to watch it.

I talked t m daughter Mellisa, then.

After we hung up, I went to bed. I'll watch the last ten minutes of "The Best Food I Ever Ate" tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Another Uneventful Day

I awoke on Thursday just after 7:00 AM, because I didn't set the alarm. It was another uneventful day. I ate the last Westborn grapefruit for breakfast (I have six more I bought at Meijer's).

I walked around the yard in the afternoon, picking up fallen branches (it was too nice to stay inside). Other than that, I either read my book or watched TV. I ate the last of the coleslaw for lunch.

I couldn't decide what to make for dinner. I have some fresh ocean perch filets but for some reason (comfort food?) I kept thinking about clam chowder. Finally, around 7:00 PM, I decided to go with the chowder.

I made it using my secret recipe. The only difference was I only had some half-and-half, not heavy whipping cream and no fresh parsley. But, it was still excellent!

I watched and old favorite, Jeremiah Johnson, from 8:00 PM until 10:30 and then went to sleep.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Work is the curse of the drinking class!"

~ Oscar Wilde

Passing Thought

It's been a long, long time that anybody or anything exceeded my expectations.

Mild Wednesday

I woke up just before the alarm on Wednesday. I did my usual rituals to get ready for my half day of work and then warmed up some Irish porridge for breakfast. I must admit, I do love the stuff, but not necessarily what it does to my digestive tract (Don't ask!).

It was warm enough already (40 degrees F. with occasional light showers) that I just wore my light spring jacket to work.

BTW, I had a nice thing happen at work. They asked me to work the next two weeks full time! A real paycheck will be nice!!

I went to PetSmart after work at 11:00 AM. I bought some kitty litter, some cat treats and two new plastic aquarium plants (I need to clean out Newt's tank).

Back home, I treated the cats and changed clothes. I read my book for a while until I got sleepy. Then I took an hour nap.

When I woke up, I was hungry, so I made another Cuban sandwich. I switched it up a bit by going back to the mayo and Dijon mustard and using dill relish instead of the "Stackers" slice. I think this one was the best yet (but I am getting a little sick of them, lol!)

I watched some taped TV but then switched back to reading.

I talked to my friend B___ who called about 6:00 PM. When we hung up, I checked the phone and saw my daughter Melissa had called. So, I called her back and we talked for a long time.

When we finally hung up, I decided to make my dinner. I was still sorta full from lunch, so I made a light supper. I poached two eggs and, when they were done, I put them on two pieces of buttered toast. Sprinkled with a little salt and fresh-ground pepper, they were excellent!

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

7 Completely True Chuck Norris Facts

~ Posted by Robert Fure (robert@filmschoolrejects.com) on March 10, 2010

It wasn't so long ago that the internet was on fire with Chuck Norris facts. The cancer curative power of his never seen tears, his ability to move the world during a push-up, his lethal silent ninja killing abilities. At the time you may have asked yourself "Why Chuck Norris?" Couldn't these same jokes be made about Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, or Lundgren? The short answer is "No." The long answer is "No. Chuck Norris is a real life bad ass, making some of these punchlines plausible." Don't believe me? Just wait.
Today, March 10th, 2010, marks the 70th birthday of our man Chuck Norris, so first and foremost we want to say "Happy Birthday, Mr. Norris." Always treat him with respect. Second, we want to tell you why this man is a badass of the highest level. Shall we?

1. Chuck Norris is part Cherokee Indian. You know, perhaps the most famed and respected group of native Warriors America ever saw? Some people pretend to have Cherokee blood, but Norris has it pumping through his veins for real.
2. Norris won the Professional Middleweight Karate tournament in 1968. And 1969. And 1970. And 1971. And 1972. And 1973. In 1969 he was also awarded Black Belt Magazine's Fighter of the Year and Karate's Triple Crown Award for most wins. He also holds the Golden Karate Lifetime Achievement Award.
3. Chuck Norris has a lifetime karate record of 183 wins, 10 losses, and 2 draws.
4. Bruce Lee met Chuck Norris at a Karate expo, which lead to Norris appearing on screen to fight Bruce Lee in Return of the Dragon.
5. Chuck's brother Weiland was killed in Vietnam in 1970, after which Norris dedicated the film Missing in Action to his memory. Norris would go on to make several films and sequels about a soldier going back to rescue his brothers in arms.
6. The Fictional Norris's weapon of choice is often thought of as the Uzi - he wields it in Delta Force 2 and famously brandishes two in Invasion USA. Unlike other action stars who have come out against gun ownership despite prominently featuring them in films (Mark Wahlberg, Sylvester Stallone), Chuck Norris is an NRA member and supports the 2nd Amendment as an individual right - alongside fellow mustachioed actor, Tom Selleck.
7. Chuck Norris hasn't lost a fight since 1968.
Unlike his contemporaries, Norris was a warrior who started acting, not an actor who started fighting. A real life dangerous man, his films provided us with plenty of ass-kicking action on screen. At age 70, not only could he kick your ass, but he's probably a lot cooler than you too.

Just in case you're not convinced, here are a few select bonus facts.
� Wrote a letter to President Barrack Obama asking him to lead from the Center and use the Constitution as his guide.
� Is a syndicated columnist.
� One of very few foreigners to receive an 8th Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.
� Founded the World Combat League, a team based combat league.
� Has written at least four books.
� Has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
� Created a martial art style named Chun Kuk Do.
� Promoted Chuck Norris Action Jeans, jeans that won't bind and allow you to get a full range of motion for face-kicking.

Chuck Norris is an awesome badass. Happy Birthday. Case Closed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grocery Shopping (Finally)

I didn't wake up until after 7:00 AM (with the alarm buzzing since 6:30). I jumped up in a panic and looked out the window. Whew! Thank God all the neighbors trash cans were still full. So, I threw on some clothes, gathered up yesterday's trash and took the two bags out to the road.

Back inside, I filled in the Blog and posted it. I took the now-hard baguette and cut it into chunks for the birds and squirrels, and then I pitched it outside under the bird feeder.

I started making my breakfast about 8:30 AM. I cooked up a batch of the Irish steel cut oatmeal. I have a lot of buttermilk left from those onion strips and I love it on top of this porridge (that's the traditional Irish way).

So, I spooned up a small bowlful when it was ready (you can't eat a lot of this stuff, I've learned), sprinkled it with some salt and topped it with a splash of buttermilk.

Lu called me while I was finishing up, to thank me for the card and present (it was a small, antique brass ladle I thought would look good in her and Sadie's kitchen). She had just opened it up, having taken an extended weekend trip to a ski lodge in northern Pennsylvania. The woman never ceases to surprise me!

I shaved and showered, got dressed and headed out to the now-dreaded real grocery shopping trip. As you may have noticed, I have been just popping into local small markets for weeks now. But, I am running seriously low on lots of staples (paper products, cleaning products, various vinegars and cooking oil, etc.). So, it's time to bite the bullet and go to Meijer's (it should have been Kroger's as I like it better, but Meijer's had the better deals, this time).

Interesting factoid: I am not wearing a winter coat, but my spring one today. Yes, its that warm (45 degrees at 11:00 AM) already, here.

I was very proud of myself for sticking to my list! I didn't make one impulse buy!! And, everything I bought (other than nine items I really needed) was on sale. But, I still spent $134.88!!!

I had a groaning cart when I pushed through the "out" door. I unloaded it into the truck and headed home.

After treating the cats, I put that bill I needed to send in the mailbox and then began to unload the car. This took forever and putting it all away took longer yet. The only enjoyment I had was throwing the plastic bags on the kitchen floor. They float in the air for a bit, you see, and Caley thinks they are toys. So, she bats them about and half the time gets her head stuck in them. It's quite amusing!

I checked the phone and saw my brother Jim had called. So, I called him back. He wanted to let me know that, with the coming of spring, he was about to put the cottage up for sale. I immediately volunteered to help clean out the basement (or whatever) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I still feel embarrassed and ashamed I left it all to others (mostly Joe and Kathy as I recall) regarding the New Baltimore house. I know I was in a stupid sling after my operation, but still...

BTW: My back hurts...

So, having all the stuff put away, I decided to take the rest of the day off. I still have two books left and they (and the couch) are calling me. I suppose I should do "something" but I don't know what that "something would be and I don't feel like it. So, I filled in the Blog to date and at 2:30 PM, I grabbed the next book and hit the couch...

I read on either the couch or the bed the rest of the afternoon. I made another Cuban sandwich for dinner (I bought some hoagie buns) along with some crinkle-cut fries I baked in the toaster oven.

I watched some TV but went to sleep early.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Uneventful Monday

I got up with the alarm on Monday. I did my usual rituals (including drinking a cup of yesterday's coffee while watching the news) and then went to work.

The big story today is the weather. They've revised their prediction and are now calling for sunny and 55 degrees F.!!!

When I'd talked to B___ on Sunday, he mentioned that the tips of his daffodils were starting to poke through the soil. Since I live south of him (and things happen here first), when I came home at lunchtime, I checked it out. The hyacinths on the south-side of the garage are just now poking up, too (too small to take a picture of). But the daffodils in the front garden (under my bedroom window) were up at least six inches and already starting to bud! I took a couple of photos and posted them for you.

When I got home after work, it really was quite nice, weather-wise. In fact, I sat in the porch rocker for a while (after dusting it off) and enjoyed the late afternoon, reading my book (but wearing a coat).

Back inside, I emptied the dishwasher, wrote out a check for a bill I can't pay online and washed down my counters and cutting board. I told you up front this was an uneventful day...

I ate some of the leftover BBQ meatloaf and the rest of the parsnips, along with more coleslaw for dinner.

Nothing much was on TV (that jumped out at me) so I watched "Kill Bill II." Did I mention I'm in love with Ulma Thurman?

After that finished, I read my book until 10:00 PM when Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservation" came on. I watched that until 11:00 and then turned the TV off. I read my book in bed until I got sleepy and finally went to bed around 1:00 AM.

Monday, March 8, 2010

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Spring comes to Redford #1

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Spring comes to Redford #2

Sunday Supper

Once again, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back asleep. This is getting tiresome. Once I did finally sleep, I slept until 7:30 AM.

I was wearing my bathrobe, so I started the one load of laundry for this weekend. I wrote and posted the Blog entry, looked at the mess in the kitchen from last night's dinner and went and sat on the couch, listening to Sunday Morning Over Easy and enjoying the sunshine.

I was reading that book again, so I missed the drier shutting off. I recovered by wetting a kitchen towel in hot water, throwing it in the drier with another fabric softener sheet and running it for ten more minutes. This usually releases any inherent wrinkles. Then I hung up my shirts and pants and folded the rest of the clothes.

I went back to the book...

I fixed a grapefruit for my late breakfast. Delicious! Then I finally cleaned up the kitchen.

I went back to the book...

For my late lunch, I sliced the last piece out of that French bread loaf, cut it in half and made another Cuban sandwich. This time I went back to yellow mustard on both sides of the bread. I buttered both outsides and stuck it in the grill. I plated it with a side of the coleslaw.

It was a much-easier to eat sandwich! And the coleslaw was good too. The tartness of the Granny Smith apple played well with the sweetness of the cabbage.

I went back to the book...

I finished the first book around 4:00 PM, just before my granddaughter Riese called. She wanted to know if I would sponsor her March of Dimes Drive. You pledge a dollar amount for every book they read. I said sure.

I am so naive with women (of all ages). I said I'd give her a buck for each book, but she should read slowly! She said she already has read 23 books! (Groan... this is gonna cost me!)

At 5:00 PM, my friend B___ called; we discussed a lot of things and then settled on our Sunday dinners. He's making roasted pork with caramelized pears, rice and steamed asparagus. He about gagged when I told him mine: BBQ Turkey meatloaf.

Now, I admit, I am prejudiced against ground turkey, myself. This is a result of Lu introducing it into our diet, way back in the Palms Road days. She claimed you couldn't tell it from ground beef in burgers and chili. Bullshit!

But they had a three pound roll of it on sale at Kroger's a while back, so I bought it and stuck it in the chest freezer. I figured it was time to use it or lose it.

About 6:00 PM, I started to make dinner. Now this is a variation on a Neely's recipe. But, I didn't make up their homemade BBQ seasoning or their BBQ sauce. I used store bought.

In a large bowl I mixed one tablespoon of BBQ seasoning, one teaspoon Old Bay crab boil seasoning, three tablespoons of soy sauce, one large egg lightly beaten, one cup of BBQ sauce and one teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.

In a saute pan over medium-high heat I put in some olive oil. Then I added one cup of chopped red onion, one chopped medium red bell pepper, salt, pepper and two cloves of chopped garlic. I stirred that until tender and then added it to the wet mix.

Then I added the two pounds of turkey I needed (the other pound went back in the freezer) and 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs. I mixed it all together with my hands and then formed it into a loaf on a sheet tray.

The oven was preheated to 350 degrees F. and I baked it for 35 minutes. Then I removed it, drizzled another half-cup of BBQ sauce on top and baked it for 20 more minutes.

While it was baking, I peeled and cooked some parsnips for my side dish.

When everything was ready, I gave it a try. Hmmm... not too bad. The BBQ taste wasn't as overpowering as I thought it might be. Texture's a little soft, though. It will never replace a ground beef meatloaf (in my eyes anyway) but it was a nice alternative.

My first Sunday show was preempted by the Oscars, so I watched taped shows until Iron Chef America came on. Then I went to bed.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Saturday's Story

I was up and wandering around in the night, so I woke up late on Saturday. I made a four cup pot of coffee, turned on Saturday Morning Over Easy and drank a cup on the couch. After a while, I went and cut up a grapefruit for my breakfast.

I shaved and showered, then headed out on my Saturday errands. First I went to the library and got some books. Then, on the way back home, I stopped at the Value Center Market and got a head of cabbage, some scallions and a red pepper.

When I got home, I treated the cats and unloaded the veggies. Then I went out, filled the new feeder and hung it up. I took some photos for you and posted them.

Back inside, I made the coleslaw I explained in the last post. Then I grabbed a book and hit the couch.

About halfway through the book (page 145 to be exact) that elusive nap finally found me!

When I woke up, it was about 6:00 PM. So, I started dinner. First I made the fried onion strips. I whisked together one egg, a half cup of buttermilk and a big splash of hot sauce.

Then I peeled a Vidalia onion and sliced it into 1/2 inch thick strips. The strips went into the buttermilk mixture and got tossed about to coat them evenly.

I let them set for a bit while I prepared the dry ingredients: one cup of flour, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. That all went into a baggie and I shook it around to mix it up.

Meanwhile, I put about an inch of canola oil in my Dutch oven, stuck in my candy thermometer and heated the oil up to 360 degrees F.

While that was heating up, I made my Cuban sandwich. Now the last time I made them, I used Hoagie buns and they were great. But the show I'd watched that inspired my dinner tonight, the host insisted on using "crusty" bread. She had a French oval loaf. I couldn't find any! So, I bought the baguette instead.

I cut off a chunk that would fit in my "pannini press." No, I don't really own a pannini press. I just use my old George Foreman grill. I bought it back in St. Clair (on my Brother Carl's recommendation) when Jake and I lived on hamburgers. But, it works great!

First problem: I cut the bread almost though and tried to bend it back to make a bun. No way! The crust just snapped. Undaunted, I put together the sandwich. Based on the TV show, I altered my original recipe slightly as well. Instead of yellow mustard on both sides, I put mayo on one side and Dijon mustard on the other. Then I added the ham, two of those "Stacker" Kosher dills and the Swiss cheese. I stuck that in the grill and shut the lid.

The oil was up to temperature, so I added the onion strips into the flour bag and shook it to coat them. I deep-fried them in two batches until they were golden brown (about two minutes). When they were done, I transferred them to a rack over paper towel on a cookie sheet and immediately salted them.

The sandwich was ready, too, so I plated everything up and ate my dinner.

Second problem: the "crusty" bread was so crusty that every time I took a bite, the filling started to squirt out! No, I'm convinced that Hoagie rolls are the way to go!

I watched the taped Friday Night Fights and then went to bed. Just before I drifted off, I realized I'd completely forgotten to try the coleslaw!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Trouble with Coleslaw

Now, I admit, I like coleslaw. Back in the day when I frequented restaurants, I would often choose coleslaw over a green salad. Of course, that depended on the restaurant. I don't like it too wet, too "mayo-ned" or wilted. But, well made coleslaw is great.

However, there is one problem. If you live alone (like me) and make it, you have one glorious day to eat it. The next day, however, the sauce has gone runny and it's pretty disgusting.

Which is why when I watched an episode of Cook's Country on TV and saw coleslaw made with a non-mayo based sweet and spicy sauce, I was excited!

So, on Saturday, after a ridiculously long nap, I started making it. Hopefully, I can eat it both tonight and tomorrow.

NOTE: the original recipe serves 6 -8 people. Since there is only me, I cut it "exactly" in half. I am cautious now after my strata screw-up.

So, I took a medium head of cabbage and cut it in half. I wrapped one half in cling wrap and put it in the garage for my St. Patrick 's Day dinner. The other half I cut in half again and then cored. It's easy; you just put the section on your cutting board and, cutting on an angle, chunk out the core.

Then, I had fun, cutting it as thin as I could. That went into a bowl where I salted it. I put it in a colander and let it wilt (for about an hour). Then I rinsed it under cold water, drained it and dried it with paper towels.

Then I cut up one Granny Smith apple into matchsticks. You cut the four sides of the apple off around the core, take each section and cut it into 1/4 inch slices, stack them up and cut them into matchsticks.

Then I added a scallion (or green onion as my Mother used to call them) sliced thin. My Shun knife is getting a workout, tonight!

Meanwhile, I put three tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1/4 cup of cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard and 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes in a sauce pan.

Remember: If you are making this for your family, double everything I just said!

You bring the vegetable oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard and pepper flakes up to a boil and then pour it over the cabbage mixture. Toss to coat and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour (or up to a day), toss and serve.

I'll let you know how it turns out...

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The trashed birdfeeder, being vandalized!

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Squirrel eating the suet (upside down!)

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The new bird feeder

TGIF

When I woke up on Friday morning and was at the kitchen sink, I glanced out the window and saw the squirrels had chewed through the rope on the bird feeder and it was smashed on the ground again. Since this is like the fifth or sixth time this has happened, I was pissed!

So, at lunch time, I went to Home Depot and bought one of the metal ones my brother Carl talked about. I also picked up some new furnace filters (I have to switch out the old ones on April 1).

Since I was over that way anyway, I stopped in at Westborn and got some deli ham, Swiss cheese and a baguette for the weekend.

When I got home from work, I treated the cats, sorted through the mail and then fixed myself a drink and sat on the couch for a while to unwind.

Just before 7:00 PM, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F. and got out the strata to warm up a bit.

Now, as you know, I'm no strata expert, but it didn't look like I'd expected. The eggs only came halfway up the pan and the rest were dry bread cubes. I stirred it around to try and mix it up, but I have my doubts!

If you remember, I tried to adjust the original recipe to allow for a smaller baking dish. My bad! Anyway, I put it in the oven and set the timer for an hour.

When the timer went off, I took it out. Damn! The bottom half was great, but the top half was just dried out bread. A little ticked (at me), I scraped off the top half and ate about 1/3 of the bottom.

I either used too much bread or too little eggs. The taste was good, though, and I guess I will have to try and perfect this dish.

I watched TV until 10:00 PM. I set the Friday Night Fights to "tape" and went to bed.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday and Food

I woke up on Thursday at 6:30 AM. Now, normally, I kinda ease into morning on my days off, but I can't today. I have a 9:00 AM dental appointment.

So, I shaved and showered and got dressed. I called Lu to wish her a happy birthday, but just got the machine.

I left for the dentist. The cleaning went fine, but part of a filling had fallen out (again) so I have another appointment in a couple of weeks. The funny part of this is this very same dentist is the guy who put that filling in!

On the way back home, I stopped at the market for some half and half.

Before going home, I stopped and washed the car at the quarter carwash to get the salt and crud off it. With all the remaining snow melting, it seemed silly, but it looked bad!

Back home, I towel-dried the car and then emptied the dishwasher. I put my soup on to warm up for lunch.

I ran some errands after 1:00 PM. When I got back home, I decided a nap would be nice. Once again, that didn't work. My nap-maker must be broke!

About 6:00 PM I started on two dinners: tonight's and tomorrow's.

Background story on Friday's dinner: Years and years ago, my wife and I (Lu) took the weekend off and went down to Amish country in Indiana to spend a night in a "bed and breakfast". It was our first bed and breakfast, so we had no idea what to expect. Well, there was an immediate problem. Amish are forbidden to work or get paid on a Sunday. So, we ended up staying on a Mennonite farm. Mennonites are similar to Amish, but they can use cars, machinery and electricity. They still dress like Amish, though, lol!

Also, having stayed at several bed and breakfasts since that time (some with hot tubs for the guests, etc.) this was rather primitive. We basically rented out one of their bedrooms. But we didn't know that then and did have a great time!

We went to the Amish gatherings and flea markets, drove past their churches and buggies and sat on the farm's wide porch, visiting with our older hosts. On Sunday morning, the wife (still dressed in their "uniform") served an egg dish that was fantastic. I assumed it was an Amish/Mennonite dish I would never taste again.

Flash forward until 2010! I was half-watching an Every Day Italian show where Giada made damn near the same dish! She called it a "strata."

I searched her recipe and found that, given my reduced hours (and pay) it would be a little pricey to reproduce. Hers involved imported Italian prosciutto and smoked gouda. So, acknowledging my new reality, I searched the web to see if I could find a lower-cost version. Turns out there were hundreds! Who knew?

Note: I did ask Carla if she ever made a strata and she said, "Of course!" Hmmm... Like nobody was gonna tell me this?

So, since this needs to refrigerate overnight, I started on it first. Note: I adjusted this slightly to accommodate my smaller baking dish. I took my crusty French bread loaf and cut off six thick slices. I cut those into 1-inch cubes and put them in my biggest bowl. I added the four strips of bacon (after crumbling them) I'd browned up a few days ago, about 1 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese and one cup of chopped button mushrooms.

In another bowl, I whisked eight eggs. To that I added two cups of half and half. I whisked in a touch of salt, fresh ground pepper and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. I mixed the dry ingredients with the wet ones, put that in my baking dish, covered it with cling wrap and set it in the fridge for the night.

Now onto tonight's dinner! I thought I'd do something both delicious and decadent. So, I took the fresh asparagus I'd bought on impulse at Kroger's (99 cents and kept in water ever since) and snapped one of them to determine the point where I have to trim them. Okay, so here's the first sign that cheaper isn't necessarily better. I had to cut off about half of each stem (Westborn asparagus is maybe three times more expensive, but you only lose an inch or two).

Now most recipes for roasted asparagus call for three ingredients: Asparagus, olive oil, and salt. I don't remember anymore if this was another recipe I saw or just me, but I like to add minced garlic. So, I did. I put them on a foil lined cookie sheet (for easier cleanup), tossed them about and put them in the 400 degree F. preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile I heated two inches of water with a teaspoon of vinegar in a small sauce pan. When it got up to a roiling boil, I turned it down to simmer. I broke an egg into a small glass dish and slid it into the simmering water. I poached the egg for 4 1/2 minutes, and then removed it with a slotted spoon. I put it on a saucer and trimmed the edges with the side of the spoon.

The asparagus was done and plated, so I just put the poached egg on top. Brilliant concept! When you cut into it, the poached egg yolk makes a marvelous sauce for the asparagus. It should have been excellent, but...

Not only were the asparagus stems woody, but the tips were stringy. Damn! Well, its almost spring here in Michigan and the asparagus should be coming in all over (and going down in price). I will definitely duplicate this one when I get better product.

I watched TV until 10:30 PM and then went to bed.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Foodie Wednesday

I went in for my half-day on Wednesday morning. When I came home at 11:15 AM, the first thing I did was to go out back and refilled the bird feeder. The wind was coming from the north, so the smoke from my neighbor's wood-burning furnace wafted across the yard. It reminded me of the many fires I made back in St. Clair.

Then I started the Wednesday wash (made even more imperative by the hairball someone left on the bedspread while I was at work!)

I went through my change and dug out all the quarters (and there were a lot!) I put them in the car for future car washes. It was above freezing again and the salt spray and crap on the car looks bad.

I made a sandwich for lunch and watched the noon news. I hung up my shirts and pants and put them in the closet. I folded the socks and then put the bedspread and blanket in the dryer.

I got on my boots and went out to get the mail after I saw the postman drive by.

I watched a couple of TV shows, trying to take a nap, but that didn't work. So, I got back up and, when the dryer stopped, remade the bed. I took out the Monday Night Chicken to let it come up to room temperature for dinner, later.

About 6:30 PM, the doorbell rang. It was my next door neighbor, Rick, returning my glass pie dish. He said while his wife Tammy was unable to eat it (diet? diabetes? I dunno...), he shared it with his brother and both loved it. I asked about the moving van I'd seen the other day and he confirmed my fear: It was the navy recruiter (with the Japanese wife). He had been reassigned to Japan for three years. But, he didn't sell his house; he rented it to his replacement. So, they will be back! I'm glad, because I like them very much. More good neighbors!

Back inside, I started tonight's dinner. I made some rice while I heated up the chicken. If you remember, I'd bought some zucchini for a soup I wanted to make. But, I only needed two and the smallest package I could get contained six.

So, I got out the mandoline, set it for 1/4 inch and cut up the two for the soup. I set those aside and sliced up the rest. Those I saut�ed in butter. When they were done, I salted them and added them to the Monday Night Chicken plate. I ate dinner watching some TV.

After dinner, I was restless, so I made the soup for later this week. I saut�ed four sliced carrots, one large chopped onion, two sliced stalks of celery and three minced cloves of garlic. I added two cups of homemade chicken stock and brought that to a boil. I then reduced it to simmer and cooked it for 10 minutes or so (until the onion was soft).

Then I added two more cups of stock, the zucchini, four chopped plum tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups of frozen cheese tortellini and one 15 ounce can of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed). I brought that to a boil again and reduced it to low. I simmered that for another 15 minutes (until the tortellini was tender) and then shut it off to cool.

Note: I'll top the soup with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano when I serve it.

I went back in and watched TV until bedtime.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tuesday

I awoke (reluctantly) at 4:30 AM on Tuesday. I blame this on going to bed before 10:00 PM on Monday. I tried to fall back asleep, but it didn't work.

Note to self: Take a nap this afternoon!

I halfheartedly watched the news and then the Today Show. I cut a grapefruit in half and ate my breakfast. Now, here's the problem. I buy these figuring I'll eat half a grapefruit each day. But, every time I eat the first half, it tastes so good I eat the other one, too!

I did take a two hour nap in the afternoon. Then I watched the movie "Oh, brother, where art thou?" again. And, laughed again!

I ate leftovers for dinner and the rest of the grapes for snacks (all day long).

The nap let me stay up until 11:30 PM. I suppose I should have used my time productively, but I just watched TV, instead...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Geez! Is there really life after the Olympics?

I awoke with the alarm clock on Monday morning. It was warm here and sunny. Really sunny! I went to work squinting and put in my time until lunch. Then I swung by Kroger's to buy some "Alphabet Soup" (never let it be said I welsh on my bets!)

But, here's a weird thing: When I had alphabet soup as a kid (it was rare to have canned soup back then as my Mom was always making homemade soup out of leftovers) it was a beef broth-based soup. Now the only kind they sell is chicken alphabet soup (believe me, I looked for like 10 minutes). Weird!

Weird, and worrisome from a photographer's point of view. Now the letters won't stand out as much!

I ate the last of the pork Chop Suey for lunch.

Anyway, back home after work, I treated the cats, changed clothes and then went back outside (before the sun set). I took the two full garbage bags out to the road (the half-filled one will await tomorrow morning's offerings) and then went and got my hoe. I trenched the standing water in the driveway (it's been just above freezing all day) to the ditch. Then I filled up the tires on the car and checked the oil. Preventive maintenance, man!

Oh, I forgot to mention, just before 9:00 PM Sunday night, my brother Jim called. We chatted for a few minutes and then hung up. Nice to hear a familiar family voice, for a change... Thanks, Bro!

Back inside, I emptied the dishwasher I'd turned on Sunday night. Then I got started on tonight's project: the alphabet soup!

So, I started out by heating up a can of the chicken alphabet soup (so I didn't have the little fat globs floating about). I used less of the water called for, so I could set the letters on top. I pulled out a little broth and searched for and found the letters I needed. But, as I feared, it was hard to read them when on top of the actual soup. So, I decided to take another photo with the letters on the plate beneath the bowl. Hopefully, I have fulfilled all my obligations.

After posting the pictures, I ate the soup!

Other than Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" (and it's always set to tape), Monday night is a TV void, so I decided to watch Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill 1." I love Uma Thurman!!

When it was done so was I, so I went to bed...

Monday, March 1, 2010

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My shame, #1

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My shame, #2

Sunday's Shame

I did get up and wander around for a couple of hours early Sunday morning, but then managed to fall back asleep. I woke up for real at 8:00 AM.

The first thing I did was to rush out to the kitchen and check the paper towels under the sink. No drips, by God!

I warmed up a cup of coffee from yesterday and drank it on the couch. Then I went in and posted the Blog entry.

I put everything back under the sink. Finally my kitchen is starting to look like my kitchen again. I did notice how sore my back was from all that bending and reaching yesterday, though.

I signed a birthday card and got the little present ready to mail for Lu's birthday (I know what you're thinking, but don't worry, she never reads this). Now, I also know it's not until Thursday, but you see there's a problem with mail to her (and my daughter Melissa as well). I can send a letter damn near anywhere in the US and it gets there in two days. It takes four days to get to them!

Why? I dunno... But here's my theory: They fly the mail into the nearest civilization (say, West Virginia or Tennessee) and then pack it over the Blue Ridge Mountains by mule train to North Carolina or Ol' Virginny.

I fried up some bacon I'd thawed. I want to make strata later this week and need some crumbled bacon. But, I only need four pieces and have eight thawed. So, when it was done, I cut the heel off of a crusty loaf of French bread and ate the rest of the bacon and bread on the couch with a glass of water (pretending I was a cowboy on a cattle drive, eating breakfast).

Onto lessons learned: Never delay taking a photo! One was when I was taking a pee earlier this morning. There is a big icicle outside the bathroom window and it was slowly dripping. I counted the time between the drips and found it was exactly four seconds. I mused that if I counted to three and snapped the photo, I might just get the drop coming off the icicle, which would have been neat.

The other was when I was leaving for the Post office. The trellis out front is next to the downspout and the water had frozen into perfect little "crystal" ice squares. I thought to myself: when I get back, I'll take a picture of that.

It was warm. So warm I had to unzip my coat in the Post Office to keep from sweating. When I got back, the crystal ice squares had melted just enough to fall down and the icicle outside the bathroom was running water, not dripping... Damn!

But, I got my camera and trudged out back to at least get some shots of the icicles before they melted. Since I was back there anyway, I refilled the birdfeeder. Then I went in and cleaned up the kitchen, er, chuckwagon.

My back was really hurting, so I officially quit at 2:00 PM and switched on the Olympics. Hockey comes up at 3:00.

Now, if you didn't watch it, shame on you! But for those few folks who were sick in bed or who's TV was broken, I'll recap: The first goal by Canada was a killer and the second was like coffin nails being pounded in. But, we rallied back and got our first goal. Then, with 24 seconds left in the last period, we tied it up, (I was yelling and pounding on Caley), forcing sudden-death overtime (whoever scores first, wins). And the Canadians scored first!

Damn Canucks! They act like they invented the game! Oh, wait a minute...

Anyway, all kidding aside, in spite of our loss, it was a great game. Congratulations, Oh Canada!

I set the DVD-R to record the closing ceremonies. I can't watch anymore of this...

I went out to make Canada Cathy's mother's recipe called Monday Night Chicken. Now, that's probably not really the name of this, but she tended to target Monday night for making it so, in their family, it was called Monday Night Chicken.

BTW, years ago, my Mother asked me to make it for her after reading about it and she loved it!

The only twist I am going to do on it is the rice (traditional) or mashed potatoes (you have to use the gravy somewhere, right?) Well, I just ate both rice and mashed potatoes, then potato cakes made from mashed potatoes so I'm kinda "rice and potatoe'ed" out. I think I'll make some wide egg noodles to sop up the gravy.

So, the recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but I am using the bone-in, skin-on thighs (I think they add more flavor). Next, put a pouch of Crispy Italian Shake and Bake into a big baggie (the only reason this stuff is in the house). Add to that some seasoned salt (I use Lawry's), garlic powder and onion powder. If I ever knew the "correct" amounts, I've forgotten them now. I just eyeball it. Shake that around and then add in your chicken thighs (6-8). Shake each one and put it in an oven-proof, greased, casserole dish.

Note: If you are doing 10 or more chicken thighs, use two cans of soup and two cups of sour cream.

Put the dish into a preheated 400 degrees F. oven and cook until the chicken is done (approximately 45 minutes). At that point, you take the dish out of the oven and drain off any grease.

Then you mix together a can of cream of mushroom soup, one cup of sour cream and two tablespoons of cooking sherry.

Now, before my foodie readers blow a gasket, let's think about it. These are recipes developed back in the 1950's or 60's. Not only were there a ton of recipes that called for a can of cream of celery, cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, the damn shit tasted good! Think of the old "green bean casserole." Hell, my favorite comfort food (taught to me by my mom), tuna and peas, involves a can of mushroom soup. So, get over yourselves and realize food is food, whether you make a fancy French sauce on a double broiler or use a can of soup. BTW, there is a shit-load of recipes currently on the web that use such ingredients.

Anyway, you top the chicken with the sauce and back in the oven it goes covered now) for an additional 30 minutes or so, until the sauce is bubbly.

While that went on, I watched a Food Network special. I made up the egg noodles, plated it and went in to watch my usual Sunday shows.

Excellent dinner, BTW. The sour tang of the sauce really makes this dish.

Even though they were both reruns, it was nice to watch regular TV for a change! I went to bed at 10:00 PM.