Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chef's Tip #20

"Homemade vinaigrettes have fewer ingredients and taste better than bottled ones. No need to whisk them: just put all the ingredients in a sealed container and shake."

Bill Telepan
Telepan
New York City

The Ark finally lands!

It wasn’t raining when I went to work! In fact, while it wasn’t all that warm and was a bit windier than I liked, it was sunny all day!! This is supposed to last until Saturday evening so, hopefully, I can get the front lawn cut. There’s no hope for the back yard until the lake goes down, though.

I thought about it all last night and then again this morning and decided to go for it. So, I enrolled at Schoolcraft College at lunch. Where are these frat parties, anyway?

I washed the bedding and a load of clothes when I got home from work. It was Friday and I was lazy so I just heated a can of chili for dinner. Both I and the cats regretted it for the rest of the night.

I watched the last half of the second and the whole of the third episodes of the Civil War series (fascinating!). I went to bed around midnight.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Chef's Tip #19

"For best results when you're baking, leave butter and eggs @ room temp overnight."

Ina Garten
Barefoot Contessa
Back to Basics

Chef's Tip #18

"Always season meat and fish evenly; sprinkle salt and pepper as though it's 'snowing.' This will avoid clumping or ending up with too much seasoning in some areas and none in others."

Mary Dumont
Harvest
Cambridge, MA

(CaptainK note: Hold the salt and pepper in your hand, raise it up as high as you can and drop it to get that "snowing" effect).

Chef's Tip #17

"If you keep it simple and buy ingredients at farmer's markets, the food can pretty much take care of itself. Do as little as possible to the food; consider leaving out an ingredient and relying on instinct."

Tony Mantuano
Spiaggia
Chicago

Chef's Tip #16 (I'm way behind on these - sorry)

"To make a great sandwich, spread the mayonnaise from corner to corner on the bread. people rush this step and just do a swoosh down the middle. Every bite should be flavorful. Now that's a sandwich!"

Roy Choi
Kogi BBQ and A-Frame
Los Angeles

Thursday, in the rain again...

I went to work in the wet and the rain (who would have thunk it?)

I didn’t go straight home after work, however. I went to Schoolcraft College for a free information session on a course their Continuing Education and Professional Development department is offering this spring. It’s called Project Management Essentials and Exam (PMP Exam) Prep.

It lasted from 6:00 to about 7:30 PM. It was very interesting, but now I have to decide if it’s worth the time and money. This course does not have a Senior discount (most of them do) but all the course materials are included in the price (no books to buy).

I was tired when I got home, so I just fixed a sandwich for dinner. I ate it watching part one and half of part two of Ken Burn’s Civil War movie (I had taped all the two-hour sessions on PBS).

When I got sleepy, I turned it off and went to bed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wet Wednesday

It was raining on the way into work (what else is new?) So far in Michigan, we have been spared severe flooding and tornados, so I guess I should be grateful. But my front lawn is now way too long and needs to be mowed.

I had to stop first thing again at Building 50 to let some wiring contractors in. Then I went up to my building (#73) in Farmington. I went back home at lunch and ate the other hamburger steak. Then I went back to Building 50 to see how my guys were doing. They were just finishing up. So, I went back to Building 73. I left there at 3:30 and went to Building 3 to pick up some cell phones and then back to Building 50 to check the finished wiring work.

Back at home, I went to install my new head light. Much like on left side, I got one clip installed, but not the other. I finally gave up and called it good. But, I decided I need to adjust the low beam. I finally figured out how it worked and then cranked it down. But, just about when it was right, the plastic thingie snapped off. Dammit!

I tried to reattach it, but no luck. I don’t know if when I hit a bump or something it will go back up, but for now its right. I jammed a paper towel into the hole left from where it broke off and called it good.

My friend B__ called about 7:00 PM and we caught up. Then I sautéed a diced yellow onion and warmed up a can of roast beef hash for dinner.

I ate that watching “Rooster Cogburn” (the follow-up movie from True Grit) until 10:00 PM and then went to bed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday

It was windy and rainy Tuesday morning. I had to go to another building first to let some contractors in, so I didn’t get to work-work until about 10:00 PM.

I went out to an auto parts store at lunch to buy another low beam headlight. I noticed my right side one was burned out this morning.

It was supposed to be an afternoon of terrible weather (thunderstorms, tornado watches, etc.) But other than a heavy wind, it was either cloudy or sunny until it was dark.

I had a late afternoon meeting at yet another meeting. It ran over, so I didn’t get home until almost 6:00 PM.

I made myself a hamburger steak, topped it with sautéed onions and A1 sauce and ate that for dinner. I went to bed around 10:00 PM.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

It was raining again here when I went to work, when I went to lunch and on the way home, too. I’m thinking of making an ark!

I got a nice surprise when I got the mail: school pictures from Riese! Thanks!

I got out the lamb chops to let them come to room temperature. Around 6:30 PM, I started making dinner. I added a tablespoon of canola oil to a non-stick skillet and started sautéing the one pound of green beans Carla had cut up for me on Saturday. When they were soft (about 20 minutes) I added the zest of one lime and the juice of the lime.

I got out my griddle pan and put it on medium high. When it was ready, I put the chops on. I grilled them three minutes per side (for a perfect medium-rare). I plated two chops, some of the tzatziki I made on Saturday and a spoonful of beans. Everything were freakin’ excellent! I was very happy!!

I read my book until the food had cooled and then put everything away. Then I watched TV until 10:00 PM and went to bed.
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Non-working Farm and Tool Retirement Home #1
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Non-working Farm and Tool Retirement Home #2
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Non-working Farm and Tool Retirement Home #3
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Pre-Civil War Cemetery
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Roadside Sky

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chef's Tip #15

"When chopping herbs, toss a little salt on the cutting board; it will keep the herbs from flying around"

Joanne Chang
Flour Bakery and Cafe
Boston

Happy Easter!

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Easter Sunday, hungry. I’d probably been dreaming about apple pie and cheddar cheese. So, I went outside and harvested some chives (they are about 8 inches tall already). Back inside, I scrambled up three eggs, added the chives and salt and pepper and cooked them. I topped them with American cheese and ate a delicious breakfast.

I went back to my bed and book. Lu called around 11:00 AM to wish me a Happy Easter. Then my brother Joe called at 12:30 PM to say the same.

I ate the rest of the potato salad for lunch. I washed the bedding and my work clothes. Then I re-made the bed and went back to my book. I swear, there is nothing better than clean-smelling sheets!

About 5:00 PM, I started to make my lamb chops. I cut up about a cup of fresh mint, a cup of fresh oregano and six cloves of minced garlic. Then I actually read the recipe and realized they had to set overnight! So, I couldn’t have made them yesterday (for Jake and Carla) and I can’t make them today! I put them on a half-sheet pan, covered them with cling wrap and stuck them in the fridge.

Fortunately, Jake and Carla had brought me some cabbage rolls and rice, so I warmed that up for my dinner (Yumo!)

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday Dinner on Saturday

I had another horrible night’s sleep. I woke up at 2:00 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep. So, I was, like, brain-dead throughout the day.

I did get the floors in the bedroom and the office cleaned. I made my radish salad (see Recipes) but I was beat. So, at 11:00 AM, I laid down for a quick nap. Jake and Carla aren’t supposed to be here until 2:00 PM and they’re usually late.

Wrongo! They woke me up at like 1:45 PM! They had Whiskey with them and Scruffy was already in the bedroom (along with cat food, a water dish and the kitty litter tray). But where was Caley? Jake finally found her, cowering under the love seat, I reached in to grab her and she bit me! She went into the bedroom and, with the door shut; this was a Whisky-free zone.

Jake took Whiskey our back to do her business, but came back inside and told me one of the puggles that live next door was in my yard. I went out to get him and deposit him over the fence, but he bolted and ran up front, under the gate and into the street. The lady next door was already calling for him, so I yelled over that he was in the road.

It must have been okay, because I didn’t hear any squealing bakes or anguished cries.

Jake had brought me five matted pictures he had made in his last photography class. They are stunning and I will definitely get them framed and hung up. Thanks!

Carla had efficiently cleaned off the kitchen table (I was SO not ready for them to show up).

They had brought over some potato salad that was dressed with vinaigrette instead of mayo. I’m not sure how it happened, but we decided to just eat the two salads and with the chibatta bread, dipped in olive oil. What? No rack of lamb, cut into one-inch chops with the bones frenched? This turned out to be a good thing, but I’ll explain it in tomorrow’s post.

They left, refusing to take the lamb, but I did give them the apple pie and the extra sharp cheddar cheese I’d bought for dessert. I had cause to reconsider that when I woke up late at night and thought, “Oh, I’ll have a piece of pie and a chunk of cheese!” and then remembered I gave it all away… Sigh…

Seriously, I was beat. So I laid back down. I had two phone calls from Melissa and Bill, wishing me a Happy Easter. I lay back down and fell asleep (no, I crashed like a rock) and I woke up at 10:00 AM on Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Another Note From the Master of Web

The transition to Blogger has been completed. There are still a few photos that are missing in action and need to be retrieved. Aside from that, all posts and comments should be up to date. Please let me know if you experience any issues.

Thanks!

Good Friday

I have Friday off which makes it good, no matter what the religious connotations.

I woke up early (hey, who’s surprised?) at 4:00 AM with the sound of rain hitting my bedroom windows. That’s unusual as my bedroom windows face east and north and heavy rain normally comes in from the west.

But, I was still tired and didn’t want to get up, so I read a book until I finished it (about 10:00 AM). I got up and did the Blog thing.

I shaved and showered, got dressed and headed out to do my Easter dinner shopping at Westborn. I picked up the rack of lamb I’d ordered and asked to be frenched and cut into chops. I got everything else except the wine I wanted.

So, I stopped at my favorite wine shop and they didn’t have it in stock! So, I went home, figuring the lamb chops, sour cream, yogurt and eggs were more important than wine. I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

I was starving! So on the way home I swung by a White Castle and ordered six original sliders (I had just heard a commercial for them on the radio and it rang a bell). Back in the day, that was the official drunk food. I was stupid though, and when she asked if I wanted ketchup and mustard, I said yes.

No, I didn’t! It tasted all wrong! But I ate them all (they are little and, at 67 cents each,cheap) in the mile and a half trip back to the house.

At home and after treating the cats, I got busy. I swept the bedroom and then washed the wood floor with the Swifter Jet. I’ll mop it with End-Dust to give it a shine in the morning.

I did a whole lot of this and that and then decided I was really tired (I’d been awake since 4:00 AM) so I laid down to rest and read my book.

I fell asleep and that was Friday!

Friday, April 22, 2011

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Easter Photo of the day!
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Violets in the wild garden
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Hyacinth update #1
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Hyacinth Update #2
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Hyacinth update #3

Update to a previous post

My brother Joe emailed me in regards to my April 16th post "Weird Dream." He said his wife had asked him about it and he wanted to tell me the farm owner's name was "Bud" Riechenbach, (sp) not Eddie (who was a famous air ace in WWI or something). I often get truck farmers confused with WWI air aces, so that's understandable.

Also, the Mexican who taught me to knife fight was named Armando (which now I remember).

Anybody interested in the Goerlich family history from 1946 until now should interview Joe. He has the most amazing memory recall!

I, on the other hand, can't remember much about yesterday. I often get about half way to work and wonder if I shut the garage door. I must confess, I fret about it so much I sometimes go back and look...

Chef's Tip #14

"For rich, creamy dressings made healthy, substitute 1/2 the mayo with Greek-style yogurt."

Ellie Krieger
Healthy Appetite

Note from the Captain: Nothing I would do, LOL! To me, yogurt is NOT a substitute for mayo or sour cream. But, I'm old and could die any day. You younger, health conscious readers do what you want...

Unintended consequences

It was sunny, but still chilly on Thursday. I went home at lunch and, while driving there, tried to figure out the economy of it all.

So, I get about 25 miles to the gallon of gas in the Volvo. And, round trip from Building 73 to home, it’s about 20+ miles. So, at like, $4.05 a gallon for mid-grade, lets say it’s $4.00 right there. Then I usually open a can of soup (anywhere for $1.00 to $1.50, depending on the soup). Chicken noodle is cheap, but split pea with ham or bean with bacon is not. And, I like bean with bacon the best.

So, I’m up to like five bucks for lunch eating lunch at home. But, I can go about a quarter mile from work and get way too much Chinese food for lunch for $6.25 (and I love Chinese food).

On the other hand, I’m back at home, can watch TV and just relax for a bit. Or, I could bring in leftovers (if I have them), warm them up and sit there at work, bored and staring at my computer for an hour and save a lot of money. It’s a toss up!

Back at home after work (three days off, okay!) I got involve with unintended consequences. I was standing at the sink, washing a pot from last night’s dinner, when a squirrel plopped onto the kitchen window sill. He started to attack the suet cage (about six inches away).

So, I rapped on the window. Instead of him immediately jumping off as I expected, he ran across the sill and crashed into the thermometer mounted there. It fell to the patio and he was gone.

Damn! I put that up the first year I moved here!

So, I put on my coat, grabbed my camera and went out back. The thermometer wasn’t broken, just dislodged. So, I put it back together (with a little help from some tape) and stuck it back up. I couldn’t get the angle right, so I was still ticked. I refilled the bird feeder and the other suet cage.

I took a number of photos of the garage-side hyacinths and then went to the back. I wanted to take a picture of the forsythia and all the new trash that had blown in (these winds have not been kind to my garden) but the camera said “Memory Full.” I need to buy one of those memory sticks, I guess.

Back inside, I warmed up a dish of the pasta al a Carbonara and watched TV until bedtime.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Speaking of YouTube...

All of you who have moved can enjoy the following, thanks to my brother Carl:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpkWDvXQuTk

Inspiration!

My nephew Rick sent me this (probably so I would get off my butt and ride that bike)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au8TwXX8mEI

Copy it into your Browser and enjoy.

Chef's Tip #13

"When you deep-fry, hold each piece of food with long tongs as you add it to the oil. Hold just below the oil's surface for five seconds before releasing it. This will seal the exterior and stop it from sticking to the pot or the other food."

Michael Psilakis
FishTag and Kefi
New York City

Non-event Wednesday

I went to work in the cold, rain and a stiff wind (20 mph, gusting to 30). I am so sick of this!

Back home after along day, I looked at my ToDo list, fixed a drink and went in to watch the evening news.

When it was finished, I was hungry. So, I made pasta al a Carbonara. I had to use whole milk as I didn’t have any heavy cream. So, the sauce was a bit thin. But, it tasted good and I ate too much.

Instead of doing the ToDo list, I went back to the TV, turning it off at 10:00 PM and going to bed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chef's Tip #12

"If you find you need more oil in the pan while sauteing, add it in a stream along the edges of the pan so that by the time the oil reaches the ingredient being cooked, it will be heated."

Anita Lo
Annisa
New York City

Crappy Tuesday

Tuesday morning, it was cold and raining. I had to go to Building 50 first thing and meet a wiring vendor to get a quote. I sat in the car, watching it rain, waiting for him. I kept telling myself, “Well, at least its not snow.”

When we were done (about 9:00 AM) I headed north to Farmington and Building 73. I went home at lunchtime (in the wind, cold and rain) and thought about what I should make. I’d been suffering with stomach distress all morning (I’m not saying it was the “fish soup,” I’m just saying). So, I ended up making a cucumber sandwich.

I have loved these since I was a wee lad. My mother used to make them. So, simple, really; Just cucumber slices, put on white bread smeared with mayonnaise and salted. Cut off the crusts and cut the sandwiches in quarters and you have English tea sandwiches.

It was excellent, but didn’t taste exactly right, as I was using sourdough bread and an English (seedless) cucumber, unpeeled. My Mom just used plain white bread and peeled cukes from our garden.

From home, I went to Building 3 and spent the afternoon there (I have two one-hour meetings there, so driving back and forth seemed silly).

I drove home at 5:00 PM (through the wind, cold and even more rain). I had some work planned to do tonight, but I was cold, tired and depressed. So, after treating cats and changing clothes, I watched the news until 7:00 PM.

Still not feeling so hot, I just made a big salad for dinner. I ate that watching more TV and continued doing that (watching, not eating) until I fell asleep.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chef's Tip #11

(and, which I freely admit, I don't understand, LOL)

"Remember schmaltz? Your mom and grandmother probably used a lot of it in their home cooking. (Not that I recall!) Schmaltz, or chicken fat, has a great flavor and richness; it has a deeper flavor than duck fat and can be used on nearly everything. I also love poaching fish in it."

Tony Maws
Craigie on Main
Cambridge, MA

Redwings Kicking Butt!

The Detroit Redwings are three to nothing against the Coyotes.

But, there is something I don't understand...

I can't find a game that features the Calgary Flames!

Do they just play later?

Chef's Tip #10

"Brine, Baby, Brine! Ya gotta brine that poultry to really give it that super flavor!"

Guy Fieri
Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

Monday, bloody Monday

When I started out to work, it was snowing here. I had to leave to go to another building at 10:30 AM, and by that time, I had to clean off about two inches of snow from the car! But after last weekend’s tornadoes in some 6-8 States (44 dead and counting), I am not complaining.

Well, Monday was April 18, the very last day to file your taxes here in the US. Having taken a tip from Jake (“Why send them the money early?”) today is IT!

So, when I got home from work, I reviewed everything (looking for that one, illusive, overlooked deduction) and then e-filed them. The Federal tax was easy as I just had them take out the $580 bucks from my checking account.

But, Michigan is not that progressive, I guess. They required a check for the $8.00 I owed them! I know these guys, and if I don’t send it today, the fine will be far worse than the lousy eight bucks. So, I took the printed voucher, wrote out a check and got my shoes back on. I went to the Post Office on Beech Daly at 7:30 PM and joined a mob scene!

I have been here just before Christmas, when I thought it was packed, but that was nothing like today! The biggest lines were for people who didn’t have a stamp, but I did, so I was in and out. But the parking lot was a mess.

Back home, I changed clothes and switched out the kitty litter (tomorrow’s garbage day). I took everything out to the road and finally (finally) was done for the night.

I was hungry, but fortunately, a woman at work had brought in some “fish soup” she wanted me to try. So, I warmed that up. It was excellent, but I think she meant “seafood soup” because I never found any fish. There were a lot of shrimp and I got the taste of clams (but not the texture – my guess is she used minced clams, not chopped). It didn’t matter though. It was hot and it was good.

As I think I mentioned, I didn’t sleep much the night before, so I went to bed at 10:00 PM. Other than a few bathroom breaks, I slept through until 4:30 AM. Nice!

Chef's Tip #9

"After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steel sink for 30 seconds before washing them. It will remove the odor."

Gerald Craft
Niche and Taste
St. Louis

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Note From the Webmaster

It is with great sadness that I announce I will be leaving the employ of the Captain. Over these last six years and some 4,800 posts - wait, I can't do this. It's too hard.

I have to be honest. The Captain is a slave driver. All day and all night I toil in a dark basement, keeping his bits spinning and his bytes fresh. If it tells you anything about our working relationship, he gave me a shirt for my birthday (which he hand wrote himself with a Sharpie on a well used "workout shirt") that read "Indentured Servant." Oh, and it was two months after my actual birthday.

I digress. Over the coming weekend, the blog will be transitioned back to the Google. The domain name will remain the same but, as in the past, absolutely zero effort was made to ensure bookmarks within the site would remain operational. Hopefully, any broken links will provide pointers to return to the home page.

Good night and good riddance... er, luck.

Lazy Sunday

It was so windy on Sunday, my patio chairs kept getting rearranged. Fortunately we didn’t lose power here, but I heard they did in other places.

My friend B___ called around 10:00 AM and then Luanne called about 10:30, both were just checking in.

I did wash the bedding and iron a few shirts but I mostly read my book all day. I did finally cook some elbow macaroni and ate that with butter, salt and pepper for my Sunday supper.

I stayed up until 11:00 PM, hoping I’d sleep through the night. But I didn’t. In fact, it was worse than usual. I just lay there in the darkness and took occasional naps all night long.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chef's Tip #8

After making eggs sunny-side up, deglaze the pan with sherry vinegar, then drizzle the sauce on the eggs to add another dimension to the dish."

Didier Elana
Adour
New York City

Slow Moving Saturday

I woke up early Saturday morning (about 3:00 AM) to the sound of rain hitting the windows. I tried, but couldn’t fall back asleep. So, I went back to reading my book. I’m reading “The Janson Directive” by Robert Ludlum. It’s a taut thriller but, like most of his books, very long (like 600 pages). So, I read and I read...

I took out a pound of bacon from the freezer to thaw. I was hoping to make “Pasta ala Carbonara” for dinner. But, instead of the six eggs I need, I only have two. And, it’s too crappy to go out.

I used the last two eggs to make poached eggs on toast. Now, I have spent YEARS perfecting my poached eggs: How much water? To add vinegar or not (I always do) Swirling the water first? And so on. And, I ended up making them perfect. But, I saw something in a cooking magazine that caught my eye.

So, I measured 1/2 cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl. I added one egg and swirled it a bit to make sure the egg was under the water. I covered it and set the timer for one minute (while I toasted the sourdough bread.) I took out the perfectly poached egg with a slotted spoon and put it on the buttered toast. It was so excellent, I repeated it again with the last egg.

Satisfied, I went back to my book, this time on the couch. My daughter Melissa called about 3:30 PM and we chatted for a “Melissa moment” (which is usually a lot longer than you would believe.) I went back to my book after we hung up. I did take a break (when it wasn’t raining), to go out and plant some sugar snap peas in the raised bed garden.

Then Jake called around 6:00 PM and we firmed up our Easter plans. They will be bringing a potato and fennel gratin, so I need to decide on the entrée (leg of lamb, rack of lamb or lamb chops?) and a side dish (spring peas with onions came to mind, but Carla doesn’t like peas). So I think I’ll keep the spring theme and make asparagus or something).

Disgusted about the Pasta ala Carbonara, I opened a can of Campbell’s split peas with ham and ate that, with crackers, for dinner. I watched a little TV, but then went to bed.

Do cats dream?

I know dogs do. I have seen them twitching their legs and whimpering in their sleep.

But yesterday, I was lying in bed, reading, and Scruffy was there taking a nap (neither of which is all that unusual) when he started making weird sounds.

At first I thought maybe he was choking and couldn't breathe, but when I looked, his chest (massive as it is) was peacefully moving up and down.

But he was making mewling noises and kicking all four legs about (like he was fighting a 20-foot Anaconda).

So, I gently touched his back and he woke up. Thank God! It may sound selfish, but I don't want to bury any more pets or brothers.

Let me be first, Lord.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weird Dream

I woke up at 3:30 AM after having a very vivid dream. It was back in the day when I was like, 14 or 15 and worked on a truck farm down the road. Somehow, I had made friends with a little older Mexican field hand and he offer to teach me how to knife-fight.

I’ll spare you the details (and keep most of the secrets to myself, in case I ever need them again) but one of the “teachings” was that you cocked your left arm at a 45 degree angle, fist clenched, and held it perpendicular to your body with the knife in your right hand, underneath and the blade up.

Why? Because that was your blocker. Any thrust or slash was taken on your arm. Trust me when I tell you, a stab was nothing (I think the shock didn’t register) but a slash gave you a jolt you wouldn’t believe.

The theory was that a blade struck at your arm would only hit skin and glance off bone; the major muscles, arteries and tendons were on the side facing inwards, protected from attack.

It p*sses me off that I can no longer remember his name, but I heard later that he was convicted of murder for man who either disrespected his girlfriend or slept with her. He’s probably still in prison or dead. But, I owe him one...

Chef's Tip #7

"Cook pasta one minute less than the package instructions and cook it the rest of the way in the pan w/sauce."

Mario Batali
Iron Chef America
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Saint Francis hyacinths
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Hyacinths on of the south side of the garage #2
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Hyacinths on the south side of the garage #1

Finally Friday

I know, I know, I use that a lot. But it seems to take so long these days to get there!

I was all over the place for work on Friday morning. I started in Farmington (Building 73) and then had to go back to Livonia to let a contractor in to do wiring at Building 50 (a half mile from my house).

He was supposed to be there a 9:00 AM but didn’t get there until almost 10:00, so I spent about an hour sitting around, being bored.

I stopped for lunch going back to Building 73 at that Chinese place I told you about (hey, it’s payday and I’m treating myself!) This time I ordered the pepper steak. Once again, it was delicious and the waitress (I think it’s the owner’s wife) remembered I wanted the egg roll on a separate plate. So, I guess I’m a regular, now.

It was too much food as always and the owner said, “You don’t like peppers? Tell her next time to leave them off!” I said, “No, it was too much food again, and I ate the beef instead of the rest of the peppers.”

Then I went into the eye doctor to see if the clip-on sunglasses they ordered for my glasses fit. They didn’t. So, the lady (in sotto voce) told me I should go to Walgreens, where they have some sort of chart you match your glasses up and it tells you what to buy. I thanked her and went back to work.

In spite of the flurry of activity in the morning, the afternoon was long and dragging. I am reviewing our Disaster Plan, the IT Quality Manual and our Security Policy all of which I wrote in 2009 and have to update. Boooring…...

But, it finally ended, and I headed home.

After getting the mail, treating the cats and changing my shoes, I headed out and finished raking the front lawn (it’s supposed to rain tonight). I put the wheelbarrow and rake away, buttoned up the house (security concerns) and went in for the evening.

I washed my week’s load of shirts and, when those were in the dryer, I started a load of pants and socks.

By then, it was getting late, so I just hung up my shirts (I’ll iron them tomorrow) and let the pants and socks rest in the washer (I’ll run them through another rinse cycle in the morning).

I ate the last of the pasta salad for dinner. See, that’s why I like a vinaigrette dressing as opposed to a mayonnaise one. Mayonnaise is good, but it doesn’t last several days.

I watched “Under Siege – Dark Territory” with Steven Segal (again) and, when it was over, I switched to the Friday Night Fights. Then I went to bed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chef's Tip #6

"If you're cooking for someone important -- whether it's your boss or a date -- never try a new recipe and a new ingredient at the same time."

Marcus Samuelson
Red Rooster
New York City

Not sure why I am thinking about this, but...

...maybe I'm just hungry.

I like carnival or state fair food. I love corn dogs and big fat pretzels, loaded with salt.

Thursday

When I got home after work on Thursday, I was going to finish raking the front lawn. Fortunately, my daughter Melissa called, so that put an end to that! Hey, you can’t choose your kids, but you can use them.

I was hungry by the time we hung up, so I ate more pasta salad. Then I watched TV until bedtime.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Long to Keep Spices

The folks at McCormick offer “to toss or not to toss” guidelines that are more generous:

•Ground spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric): 2 to 3 years
•Herbs (basil, oregano, parsley): 1 to 3 years
•Seasoning blends: 1 to 2 years
•Whole spices (cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks): 4 years
•Seeds: 4 years (except for poppy and sesame seeds, which should be discarded after 2 years)
•Extracts: 4 years (except for vanilla, which will last forever)

Pretty straightforward, eh? Sure, but unless you keep some kind of “purchased on…” checklist inside of your cabinet it’s probably hard to keep track of how long each and every spice has been kicking around.

Chef's Tip #5

“Always make stock in a large quantity and freeze it in plastic bags. That way, when you want to make a nice soup or boil veggies, you can simply pull the bag out of the freezer.”

Charlie Trotter
Charlie Trotter’s
Chicago, IL

Wondeful Wednesday

It was sunny and chilly Wednesday morning, but without that damn wind. It eventually got up to 65 degrees F., however.

I stopped at Westborn on the way home for lunch and bought two English cucumbers, two boxes of grape tomatoes (I wanted cherry tomatoes, but they didn’t have any), a green pepper and some green onions.

I ate the rest of the chicken and rice mixture for lunch (still tasty!)

When I got home after work, it was a gorgeous day. So, I went out back and cut the tarp loose from my winter-stashed stuff. I set up the patio furniture, put the wheelbarrow back to its summer home and the hoses under the outside spigot. The I dragged the tarp into the garage and arranged it on top of the lawn tractor to thoroughly dry.

I started raking the front lawn (to get rid of the winter debris) but only got about one-third done before my back, shoulders and arms started to remind me I hadn’t done this in about a year. So, erring on the side of caution, I quit.

Inside again, with everything buttoned up for the evening, I began making dinner. I have been jonesing for cold pasta salad, so I put a big pot of water on to boil. When it did, I added kosher salt and a pound of rotini pasta.

I set the timer for seven minutes and started on the veggies. I peeled one of the English cukes (I know you don’t have to, but I wanted the color of the green pepper to pop), cut it into quarters and then cut them into chunks. I used both containers of the grape tomatoes by cutting each tomato in half and put them in a bowl, adding salt (to draw out some of the moisture). I diced up the green pepper and, after cutting off most of the green stems, thinly sliced a bunch of green onions.

By them the pasta was done, so I drained it (but didn’t rinse it – you need the starch for the dressing to stick) and spread it on a half-sheet pan to cool. Yes, it will stick together, but stirring in the dressing will break it apart.

When it was cool, I added it to the veggies, adding in a drained can of sliced black olives. I made a simple Italian vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, olive oil, dried oregano, dried basil, parsley and fresh chives (my chives outside are already about five inches tall). I added the vinaigrette to the bowl and mixed it all up. I taste-tested it and then seasoned it with salt and pepper. I put it in the fridge to chill.

I watched the last of the evening news and then watched the Red Wings game. When I was hungry, I made up a big bowl of the pasta salad. I did have to add a bit more salt, but it was everything I’d hoped for!

I went to sleep about 10:30 PM, after having a few more snacks of pasta salad. Hmmm... maybe next time I’ll add some broccoli florets for a bit more crunch.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

photo

Some of the hyacinths
photo

Some of the daffodils
photo

A little red squirrel

Chef's Tip #4

“Use a coarse Microplane to shave vegetables into salads or vinaigrettes. You can create an orange-fennel dressing by adding grates fennel and orange zest to a simple vinaigrette.”

Paul Kahan
Avec, Big Star, Blackbird and The Publican
Chicago, IL

Tuesday

Tuesday, I finally got around to starting my taxes after work. I don’t think I need to comment about that. I have to still go over them one more time, because I don’t understand the result. I made much less last year (being part-time) and yet this year I owe money. WTF?

The only saving grace was my leftover dinner. I deboned the last three chicken thighs and added them to the leftover herbed rice. I warmed that up, but decided it was too dry. So, I added a can of cream of chicken soup. Excellent!

I ignored the taxes and watched TV until bedtime, preferring unreality to reality.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chef's Tip #3

"Always store your spices in a cool. dark place, not above your stove. Humidity, light and heats will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor."

Rick Tramonto

Tramonto's Steak and Seafood, Osteria di Tramonto and RT Lounge
Wheeling, IL

Is it Monday (again)?

I made some real progress on two of my projects on Monday, so I was feeling very pleased on my way home after work. I noticed when I pulled in that the daffodils were starting to bloom, so I did a field trip and a mini-photo shoot. The hyacinths are just about ready, too.

Back inside, I decided to tackle the one ToDo item that I passed on this weekend. I got out the vacuum and cleaned the cat hair off the living room rug.

Then I moved all five kitchen chairs into the living room, along with the rolling cart and the trash.

I swept the kitchen and vacuumed the two downstairs walk-off rugs. Next, I filled a bucket with hot water and Pine-Sol and washed the kitchen floor. I was trapped then and could only got to my bedroom, the office, the main bath and (by taking a big giant step) the living room.

I just missed the NBC Nightly News (dammit) so I watched some taped TV for a couple hours until the floor dried. Then I put everything back. I shredded another chicken thigh and used the meat to make a chicken sandwich with sourdough bread, mayo and salt.

I ate my dinner watching TV and went to bed about 10:30 PM.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chef's Tip #2

"The smaller the item, the higher baking temperature. For example, I bake mini chocolate chip-toffee cookies at 500 degrees F. for only four minutes. Perfect end result."

Jim Lahey
Co. and Sullivan Street Bakery
New York City

Sunny Sunday

I woke up to a sunny Sunday. I was more hungry than thirsty for coffee, so I made three soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. I ate them on the couch, listening to Sunday Morning, Over Easy. When I rinsed out the bowl, I made a half-pot of coffee.

I kicked the cats off the bed and stripped it. I put the bedding into the wash machine and got that going.

I swept the office, my bedroom, the hall and the upstairs bath. Then I washed the tile floor in the bathroom.

While that was drying, I put the bedding in the drier. I watched a few taped cooking shows until it was all done. Then I made up the bed.

My friend B___ called and told me how warm it was outside (I hadn't even thought about going out, nor did I look at the thermometer). So, I opened all the windows and shut off the furnace to air out the house.

For dinner, I put half a stick of butter in the small saucepan and added one cup of white rice. I tossed that about until every rice grain was coated. Then I added in some dried parsley, dried thyme, frozen chives and two cups of water. I brought that to a boil and simmered it until it was done.

I warmed up two chicken thighs and ate that with the rice as a side dish for my Sunday supper.

I watched some TV and fell asleep around 10:00 PM. When I got up for a bathroom break, I set the remote and my glasses on the dresser, shut off the lights and went to sleep for real.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The first of 100 tips

from top chefs across the country in Food Networks magazine:

"Remember, y'all, its all about the prep. Take away the stress by doing the prep the night or day before. You'll look like a star."

Paula Deen
The Lady and Son's Restaurant

Just another Saturday...

I woke up in a panic at 8:30 AM on Saturday. I thought it was a workday and I was late again. I had already grabbed my cell phone to call my boss when I remembered it was the weekend. Then I felt stupid.

I got a pack of chicken thighs out of the freezer to thaw. Now that I am done with the fridge, I am determined to throw away anything that has freezer burns on it.

But, the chicken thighs were okay. So, I set them in the sink to thaw and made the “sauce” for my main dinner this weekend.

It called for one small garlic clove, grated. Instead, I used a big garlic clove and, for the first time, used my garlic press. I was not impressed (see how I did that: garlic press; impressed? Give it a moment).

Also, I bought a bag of garlic back when I was only working part time and, even though I kept them in the cool garage, they have started to sprout. So, before I could smush the clove, I had to cut out the green sprout (otherwise the garlic tastes bitter).

As I said, I was not impressed with the garlic press (I did it again!) I could have minced up a clove of garlic better with my Shun knife, with no waste.

But, I put it in a bowl and added 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt (1/4 if you were using regular table salt), a quarter-cup of salad oil (I used Canola), 1/2 cup of lemon juice, three tablespoons of chopped onions, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper and a 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme.

You need to let this sit and get happy for at least a few hours, so I’ll use it when I bake the chicken. Then I washed my work clothes.

I warmed up the rest of the beans and hotdogs and ate them for lunch. Then I started watching “Tarzan and his mate” on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). It was a 1934 black and white movie starring Johnny Weissmuller and a very young, very beautiful Maureen O’Sullivan. I was shocked (and I don’t shock that easy) at the underwater scene. Jane swam totally in the nude! Nice bum!! There must not have been the x-rating thing back then.

By then, I was in my weekend mode and decided my short ToDo list could wait until Sunday. So I stuck with TCM and watched a 1946 film noir movie called “Gilda” with Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford.

When that ended at 4:00 PM, I started making my supper. I put a cup of flour, two teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and two teaspoons of paprika in a plastic bag. I shook each of the six chicken thighs in the mixture and fried them in a skillet with olive oil and butter, three at a time and skin side down, until golden brown.

I transferred the chicken thighs into my cake sheet pan, lined with foil (for easy cleanup) and covered the chicken with that sauce. Then I stuck it in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven and set the timer for 45 minutes.

I went and ironed my shirts for next week. When they were done, I went back to the TV and another classic movie. “Run Silent, Run Deep.” I have always been fascinated by submarine movies since I was a lad and learned my cousin, Bob Fuller, had served on a sub in World War Two.

When the chicken was almost done, I “baked” two russet potatoes in the microwave. I plated them with butter and sour cream and two chicken thighs.

It was delicious!

I went back to the TV and tried to work my way through taped TV shows until I fell asleep.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Friday, again!

I woke up late for work on Friday. I’m not sure if I forgot to set the alarm or if I shut it off and went back to sleep. Be that as it may, I woke up at 8:30 AM! So, I called my boss and said I’d be there in 45 minutes, and I was.

It was raining and also when I went home for lunch. My “May flowers” better be fantastic!

At lunch, I went out to refill the bird feeder and, when I took it off the hook, the plastic cable broke off! So, I threw it in the trash in disgust. I sprinkled seed all over the ground and will pick up another one this weekend.

Back home after work, one of the cats (I now suspect Scruffy) had thrown up on the bedspread again. Disgusted, I threw it in the washer along with the last three days of work clothes.

I was just about to hang up my pants when the phone rang. It was my daughter, Melissa. I asked her to hang on for a minute so I could finish hanging up my pants. It actually took two or three minutes and I did apologize when I got back to the phone and she was still there, patiently waiting.

We talked for a while, interrupted every now and then by the sound of a chop saw. They had been attacked by a wicked storm that blew off some of their siding. Fortunately, it’s a new house so they could contact the builder and find out the correct replacement siding.

When we finished our chat, I went in to make dinner. I cut up the rest of the hot dogs and warmed them up in a pan with Bush’s baked beans. It tasted great (although both I and the cats will regret this tomorrow morning).

I was tired, so I went to bed without turning on the TV.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thursday, with occasonal sunshine...

It wasn’t raining on Thursday morning, so driving into work was much easier.

My optometrist’s office had called the house and left me a voicemail on Tuesday, letting me know that my glasses had come in. Unfortunately they are always closed on Wednesday, so I went there at lunchtime today. It took a while to get them fitted just right, but I can see again!!!

Heading back to Livonia for the afternoon, I realized it was probably too late to go home and eat lunch, so I stopped at the Chinese restaurant I discovered and ate. I had an interesting conversation with the owner regarding the disappearance of pressed duck (my all-time favorite, back in the day) from all Chinese restaurant menus. He said not enough Americans ordered it, so they all switched to almond chicken. No wonder I can’t find it anywhere.

Back home after work, I finished my cleaning out the fridge project. I wrote down whatever I threw away so I can purchase more.

My friend B___ called and we caught each other up. That didn’t take long, as there is not too much going on right now for either of us.

I ate two more hot dogs on sourdough bread with yellow mustard and onions, but this time I tried Jake’s trick and added hot sauce. Pretty good! Thanks!

I watched TV and had some corn chips with the last of my homemade salsa for a late night snack.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Here's a Chef's Tip!

"If you burn yourself, dip the burn in egg whites, let it dry and repeat two times. It will hurt like crazy at first, but then the whites will form a seal and insulate the burn from heat and air, so you keep working (without the pain).

~ Wylie Dufresne, wd-50, New York City

April Showers

It rained all day on Wednesday. I drove through it for lunch and then again on the way home.

At home for the night, I started cleaning out the fridge. There’s too many condiments, etc., that have been in there too long. I took a phone call about halfway through, talked for a bit and then decided to give it up for the night.

I grilled hot dogs (Vienna natural casings – I couldn’t find the Dearborn ones at Kroger’s) on my griddle pan from Jake and Carla for dinner. I didn’t have buns, so I ate two of them on sourdough bread with yellow mustard and chopped onions.

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tuesday's Tale

The cold front that moved in on Monday was still here on Tuesday, but with the added adventure of a stiff wind. In fact, when I went home for lunch, I drove through snow squalls!

After work, I did some minor housekeeping (unloading the dishwasher, washing the counters, etc.) Then I address the issues of my new shirts. Unfortunately, even though they said they were wash and wear, they came out of the dryer all wrinkled. I re-washed them, dried them again and guess what? Still wrinkled!

So, I got out the ironing board and ironed them all. Now, I don’t mind ironing, but its time consuming.

Once I was done with that, I made dinner. I fried a porterhouse steak in a skillet with a little olive oil and butter and made buttered herb egg noodles for my side. Both tasted excellent!

I went to bed at 9:30 after watching a little TV.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays...

It was raining when I woke up Monday morning and rained off and on until after noon. Then a cold front moved it and the temps plummeted.

Work was work and when I got home after it was over, I ran the dishwasher and got the garbage together and out to the road.

I warmed up more of the kielbasa and Brussels sprouts for dinner and watched TV until 10:00 PM. Then I went to bed. Boring day, actually, lol!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lazy Sunday

I woke up late on Sunday and spent the next few hours sitting on the couch, reading, drinking coffee and listening to Sunday Morning, Over Easy.

I was going to go out and pick up more trash, but it had started raining before I was ready. So, I just stayed in my nice warm bathrobe all day. I called B___ to catch up and mentioned the bathrobe to him. He said it sounded like I was all ready for the old folks home.

I ate leftovers for Sunday dinner and went to bed around 10:00 PM.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saturday’s Story

I woke up late on Saturday. I had a 9:00 AM haircut appointment so I had to hustle, no time for writing or posting the Blog entry.

So, I got my hair cut (a couple of weeks too late) and then headed out on errands. First I hit Gordon Food Service (or GFS) to check out their pots and pans and silverware. Fortunately, they do carry saucepans, so I bought a 2 3/4 quart one and a lid and a 3 3/4 quart one with its lid.

I am sick of using the piece of sh*t ones I have. They are too thin and burn half the stuff I’m trying to make. These new ones are ugly, but are restaurant quality and heavy aluminum.

Unfortunately, they no longer carry silverware. I was hoping to buy a knife, fork, spoon and soup spoon for lunches when I am back at Building 73 full time. Oh well...

Then I headed south.

It was still before 10:00 AM, so I stopped at the Newburgh Grille, a Coney Island I used to go for lunch every now and then. I ordered two eggs over easy, sausage links, hash browns and rye toast. I ate the eggs, toast and sausage, but only about 1/3 of the hash browns. Now that I think about it, I never eat all the hash browns, so why do I order them? I dunno...

Then I went to the Westland Mall and Macy’s. Carla and Jake had suggested I go there to get some shirts that fit. I dealt with a young lad who seemed incompetent. For example, I asked him what size short sleeve shirts I should buy. He measured my neck size and said “18 inches!” Now, I had bought two dress shirts last fall from Jos. A Banks (a high-end clothing shop) and they said my neck size was 17 1/2 inches and they fit perfectly (I’ve probably lost another 10 pounds since then).

He also said it was the 2X Tall shirt that gave me too much shirt and that I should go with 2X regular. So, I completely ignored him and bought shirts that were 17 1/2 XL and regular. There were only five different styles (I was hoping for six), so I bought them. I asked about bathrobes and he gave me the usual “it’s a seasonal item.” So, I paid for my shirts and left (I did make sure I could bring them back if they didn’t fit).

I went across the street to Bed, Bath and Beyond to check out bathrobes (that’s where I bought my last one). I asked a guy about them and he rummaged around and found some “one size fits all” for $65.00 (Jesus). But, as you’ve seen, I need one. So, I bought it.

Back home, I took apart one of the shirts, careful to save every tag, etc. I tried it on and it fit perfectly! So, I took apart each and every one, trying them on as I went. They all worked, so I put them in the washer. I watched the wash machine every time it dumped water, and nothing came out the downstairs drain. Was it just some aberrant tree root that got stuck? I dunno...

When that was done, I washed the bathrobe with all the towels in the house. This didn’t disturb the drain, either. So, I think I’m good to go.

I made three scrambled eggs, topped with American cheese, for dinner. I put them on toasted wheat bread with mayonnaise and wandered in to watch Orla Fallon’s concert on PBS. She’s one of the singers on Celtic Woman, but this one was called “My Land” featuring mostly Irish songs.

When it was over, I went to bed, content with the day.

Oh Sh*t!

(Sorry about the late post. I was having computer problems).

It was a tad warmer on Friday, but still overcast. I did go home for lunch (since I have to be at Building 3 in Livonia this afternoon to work on the software audit project). On the way home, I stopped and filled up my gas tank. Unfortunately, the price of mid-grade gas jumped up 10 cents per gallon over night. Damn! Why didn’t I buy it Thursday?

Once home after work, I treated the cats, changed clothes and relaxed a bit. Then I did a load of laundry.

I started making my dinner. Now, I must admit, this recipe sounded so weird, I just had to try it. If you think about it, every good German knows any "wurst" goes well with cabbage. But the rest of it, who knows?

So, I got out the Brussels sprouts I’d cleaned and halved the night before to warm up to room temperature. Meanwhile, I took a piece of aluminum foil and folded it over (to double it). In it I placed a shallot, peeled and quartered, and four cloves of peeled garlic. I added some extra-virgin olive oil and salt, wrapped it together and stuck it in the toaster oven at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes (until the garlic was tender).

While that was roasting, I took a pound of kielbasa and cut it into 1/4 inch slices, on the bias. Those went into a large skillet that was on medium-high heat and had a teaspoon of olive oil in it. I fried them about three minutes per side, until they were evenly browned and crispy.

I also put my steamer basket into my saucepan and added some water. Once it was boiling, I added in the Brussels sprouts (one container and about 1 1/2 pounds worth). I steamed them until fork tender (about 4-5 minutes). I am multi-tasking like a mother!

I pulled out the kielbasa with a slotted spoon and set them on paper towels to drain.

I took out my pouch from the toaster oven to let it cool. I took a break to put the laundry in the dryer. When I went downstairs, the floor was wet! Damn!!

Now, I do have a 30-day guarantee on the sewer cleaning, so it’s kind of important to determine if the line is still plugged or what’s going on. But, since I’m in the middle of making dinner, I figured I’d test it over the weekend.

Back upstairs, I put the garlic and shallot into a bowl and mashed them with a fork. I put that mixture into the hot oil for a minute or so. Then I added two tablespoons of Dijon mustard and 1/4 cup of heavy cream (I told you this was weird) and added in the Brussels sprouts and (get this) a can of white kidney beans (also called Cannellini beans), rinsed and drained. I seasoned everything with salt and pepper and tossed repeatedly to coat. I continued this process until everything was heated through. I plated some and topped it with the kielbasa.

I took it into the bedroom and ate it watching the Friday night fights.

In spite of how strange it sounded, it tasted great! I will definitely make this again.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thursday

It wasn’t as sunny as I’d hoped on Thursday. So, when I went home at lunch, I repositioned the two walk-off rugs on the patio to get more light to them.

Back home after work, I found a cat had barfed on the bedspread. So, I stripped the entire bed and washed the bedding (no sense in waiting until the weekend if I had to wash the bedspread, anyway).

I got in the walk-off rugs and put them back in place. Now the downstairs looks normal, again.

My daughter Melissa called and we talked for a bit. It was nice to sit on the couch and chat instead of “doing” something.

I cut up the remaining half of the two melons, added the rest of the grapes and blueberries and stuck that into the fridge to chill.

I started making dinner. I took a container of Brussels sprouts and cut the stems off each one. Then I stripped off the outer leaves and cut them in half. After I finished that, I realized I really didn’t feel like making dinner. So, I put them in a bowl, covered them and stuck them in the fridge.

I opened a can of Hormel chili and heated that up instead. I ate that watching TV and then, later, had some of my homemade salsa with blue corn chips. I pity the fool that comes into my cubicle Friday!