Tuesday, March 31, 2009


At lunch on Monday, I stopped and bought this week's veggies and fruit from Westborn, and then bought a 40 pound bag of bird seed from the Feed store.

Monday night was all about restoring the patio area which had been buffeted by Sunday's winds. I got all the furniture back in place, wired the suet cage back up and refilled it and fixed the bird feeder. I put the bird seed in the can and then refilled the bird feeder.

Back inside, I prepared my two side dishes for dinner. I trimmed a container of Brussels sprouts and popped them in salted, boiling water. I trimmed three beautiful yellow squash, sliced them about 1/4 inch thick and then saut�ed them lightly in butter.

For my entr�e, I warmed up two bratwurst (I'd grilled them on Sunday after making the burgers). I plated everything and topped the brats with Dijon mustard and the veggies with salt. Excellent!

I read a book on the couch for a while and then went to bed.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Sunday's Supper


Grill marks on the burgers

Sunday's Supper

I woke up on Sunday at 7:30 AM after another, long, sleepless night. Thunder woke me up just before 2:00 AM and lightning kept lighting up the bedroom. So, I put on my robe, went outside and watched the storm from my porch rocker. It was quite intense for a while, but then it moved off, muttering and grumbling. So, I went back to bed, but had a hard time falling back asleep.

I decided I wanted some breakfast, so I made some white sausage gravy. I browned a pound of pork sausage in my cast iron pan and then took it out with a slotted spoon. I added two tablespoons of flour to the remaining grease and stirred it for about two minutes. Then I added in two cups of whole milk, whisking constantly. I brought it to a boil, and then let it simmer for another two minutes. I added the sausage back in and let it all get happy while I baked the biscuits.

Now, I normally make mine from scratch, but I had a roll of them in the fridge that I bought for something, but never used. So, I just baked them for 13 minutes at 350 degrees F (until they were golden brown.) I took two, sliced them in half, topped them with my sausage gravy and dug in. Oh, my!

I started the rest of this weekend's laundry after I shaved and showered. Then I puttered around for while, doing chores (emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up from breakfast, hanging up the clothes, etc.)

At 2:00 PM, I started working on my Sunday dinner I put all but three slices of a pack of bacon on a half sheet tray, seasoned it liberally with fresh ground black pepper and popped it in the oven (pre-heated to 350 degrees F.) I baked them until they were almost crispy (about 25 minutes)

Meanwhile, I took the last three strips of bacon and cut them into 1/2 inch chunks. I saut�ed them in the cast iron pan and cut two small yellow onions into a fine-dice. When the bacon was almost done, I threw in the onions to sweat. When I had them where I wanted them, I took the pan off the heat to let the mixture cool down.

Once cooled I added two pounds of hamburger to the bacon and onions, some salt and pepper and red chili flakes (I need my heat!) and mixed it well by hand. Then I formed eight burgers from it, each slightly larger than the buns I will use and with a dimple in the middle (to allow for the "plump" factor when they cook).

Unfortunately, by the time I was ready to cook them, it had started raining. So, I put the grille on the apron, but tight under the garage eave so the rain wouldn't wash me out. I fired up the charcoal starter and let it get hot. I spread the charcoal out, and let the grates heat up. I scrubbed them off and hit them with non-stick spray.

About that time, Lu called with a cabinet question (they bought another cabinet to go over the fridge and one that's tall that will be a pantry).

Next I put the burgers on the grille, four minutes on a side. Nice grille marks, BTW. The dripping bacon chunks caused a lot of flare-ups, but I coped. I finally pulled them off, covered them with foil and let them rest.

Inside I opened a small can of Bush's baked beans and warmed that up on the stovetop. I made up my burger (bun, yellow mustard on the bottom and mayo on the top, some leaf lettuce, the patty topped with melted sharp cheddar cheese and a slice of bacon, broken in half and placed like an "x") and put it on a plate next to a nice helping of beans.

I ate dinner watching the movie "The Rock" starring Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery. I went out just after 7:00 PM (during a commercial) to see if the coals were cool enough to bring the grille inside and got a shock! It was snowing!! Now, I know they said possible flurries today, but this was a hard, wind-driven snow that had already started to cover the grass.

I dragged the grille inside and went back to finish the movie. Then I watched my one Sunday night show (the other was a rerun) and went to bed about 10:30 PM.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Dodging the raindrops to make my Sunday dinner


Another winter casualty, one of my rose cones


The winter patio


My patio, ready for the summer


The mail box after last winter


Another shot of the winter damage to my mail box


Dug out and waiting for some sand


The mail box, renewed

Saturday's Story

I woke up late on Saturday, due to my insomnia. I stripped the bed and washed the blanket and the bed spread first and then the sheets.

I spent the morning doing chores in the house. But, in the afternoon, I ventured outside. I dug out the dirt behind the mail box. I filled in the spot with sand (from the patio) and then replaced the patio stones.

I filled in the space with gravel from the patio and called it good. See photos.

Since I was working in the back on the patio anyway, I decided to put everything back the way it should be for summer. So, first, I used the string trimmer to cut back the ground cover and the oregano. Then I took the blower and cleaned off the crap. I took the hose and washed the cement down. Then I put the patio furniture back in place. I hosed that all down to get off the dust (I need to scrub them to get the winter crud off, though). Finally, with the help of the furniture dolly, I got the chiminea back outside. See photos, again.

I warmed up some of the pasta, tomato sauce and meatballs for a late lunch/early dinner.

I took the rest of the day off, trying to rest my right arm. It's still killing me...

Sunday morning, over easy song lyrics

Not Dark yet
` Bob Dylan

Shadows are falling and I've been here all day
It's too hot to sleep time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I've still got the scars that the sun didn't heal
There's not even room enough to be anywhere
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writing what was in her mind
I just don't see why I should even care
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well, I've been to London and I've been to gay Paree
I've followed the river and I got to the sea
I've been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain't looking for nothing in anyone's eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

I was born here and I'll die here against my will
I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don't even hear a murmur of a prayer
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Just a thought:

One of the problems with hanging a "tag" on people(ie: "black," "spic," "beaner," "rag head" or "drunk") is that you ignore whatever those people have to contribute to this world. Which may be more than you ever considered.

Happy Birthday!

I just got a reminder that my friend Tracey's birthday is April 2. She'll be 40 and, since she just got remarried last year, I can now call her an old married broad!

Of course, she can hit me!!!


The original monitor and speaker set up.


My new monitor setup

Finally Friday!

I woke up, happy it was finally Friday. That is, until I went to check my email. Sometime in the night, my monitor crapped out! It was all grayed out and I could not see my cursor. I tried everything, but nothing helped. I barely managed to get the Blog posted.

At work, I consulted with the Web Master. He suggested a few other things to try. At lunch, I tried his ideas. Nothing. I went up in the attic to see if there were any monitors up there (neither he nor I could remember if there were any up there). Nope!

So, I went to Office Depot to buy a replacement. I wanted a Samsung, which they had on sale and display, but none in stock! They were more than happy to order me one, but I explained I needed it NOW (my faithful readers are depending on me!) So, my only choices were between an Acer and a Viewsonic. Owning an Acer computer once, I am not impressed with them, so I bought a 19-inch widescreen (the only kind they had) Viewsonic monitor. I stuck it in the trunk and went back to work.

At home after "banging the drum," and before pulling into the garage, I got the mail. I found a package I'd been waiting for. After reading my post about making beef jerky, my nephew, Rick, contacted me offline, explaining that he often makes beef jerky in a dehydrator he has in his garage in Texas. He said the best he ever tasted was from a place by his "fish camp" (we would call it a cottage in Michigan, Mom) that is smoked with pecan wood. He said he was going there with his son, Jesse, and some of his friends for spring break and some fishing. So, he mailed me some last Saturday. Since it's been so long, I thought maybe my postman smelled it, opened it and ate it, but here it was!

I couldn't wait! I opened it up and ate a stick. OMG!!! I have to find a pecan tree and cut it down. That was fantastic!

My daughter Melissa called just after 6:00 PM and, as usual, we talked WAY too long. When we were done, it was way past time to do the things I had planned for tonight, so they got added to the ToDo list for the weekend.

But, I did take down the monitor stand (that Jake bought me years ago), my two speakers and the dead monitor and replaced it with the new one (which has speakers built inside). It gave me a LOT more space on the desk (see photos)!

If anybody wants a monitor stand or some speakers, let me know.

I warmed up some of the meatballs and pasta for dinner. I topped it with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and wandered in to watch some TV before going to bed.

Friday, March 27, 2009


It was cloudy and overcast this Thursday morning, but the rain is gone. I found to my dismay that, when I took my pills, the container said Wednesday, but today is Thursday. I assumed this is a result of Tuesday, when I overslept. I must have forgotten to take my pills that morning.

If you remember, I left you with the kitchen chairs, the rolling cart and the waste paper can in the living room last night. This morning, I still left everything all there.

I came home for lunch and had the last catfish filet and the last of the wild rice (still an excellent meal). Then I moved out the bathmat from the main bathroom and the gel-pad from the kitchen. I filled up my bucket with hot water and Top Job (lemon scented) and mopped my way out the door and back to work.

On the way back, I stopped at the quarter car wash and hosed the mud and dirt off the car from yesterday's rain. I know it's supposed to rain all weekend, but I really hate the sight of mud on the side of my car!!!

At home at five, I have a spotless kitchen floor. So, I moved everything back into the kitchen from the living room and vacuumed the living room rug (the chairs leave little dimples in my area rug, you see). Oh, I put the bathmat back in the main bathroom, too.

Since I was already in a bathroom mode, I put new toilet tablets in the tanks of both bathroom toilets (I used the "Works" ones, this time instead of the stupid, blue cheap ones I bought last time). I really think this helps keep the bowls clean. Naturally, I try and leave the lids down, so the cats don't make a potential fatal mistake (but, damn, this reminds me too much of being married!)

At 6:30 PM. I went outside with a big "refuse" bag and collected all the leaves and twigs I had raked to date (both front yard and back). Why? Because, starting next week, (supposedly) they will be picking up yard trash. We'll see. It actually took two bags, BTW.

Before I went out, I put the quart container of meatballs and tomato sauce I'd made, then frozen, and now thawed, in a large sauce pan and stuck it in the oven on "Warm" (170 degrees F.) Again, I want it to warm up, but don't have the time to stand over it, stirring so it doesn't stick. This is a damn good trick and I heartily recommend it!

Back inside, I put a pound of Rotini twists into boiling salted water. Now, I'd rather use plain old spaghetti, but that's far too messy to eat in bed watching TV and I've used either penne or mostaccioli the last few times I made pasta. I drained it and gently stirred in the meatballs and sauce.

I plated some, topped it with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and wandered in to watch some TV and then go to bed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I missed the flowering, but here are the crocus on Jake's patio at night time.

Wet Wednesday (lol)

It was raining when I woke up on Wednesday and rained off and on until mid-afternoon.

When I got home after work, I changed clothes and began the housecleaning I ignored over the weekend. I swept, dusted, vacuumed and dust mopped the entire house. I moved the kitchen chairs, the rolling cart and the trash can into the living room so I could wash the kitchen floor, but by that time it was after 8:00 PM, I was tired and I was hungry. So I stopped there.

I made a simple salad of romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce and thin slices of an onion (I found I was out of red onions, to my dismay). I dressed that with balsamic vinaigrette and that, along with a Marie Callender's turkey pot pie, was dinner.

I watched the taped version of the Chopping Block (it was half over by that time) and then went to bed when it was done.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday's Dead...

I overslept on Tuesday! For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to turn off the alarm and close my eyes for just a little bit. It wasn't!!

At lunch, I took back my library books (I was going to pick up one Jake suggested, but it was out). I also stopped and got some of those big leaf/garden debris bags. The township will start picking them up the first full week of April.

I was going to start picking up the junk in the front yard when I got home after work, but the wind was blowing too hard. However, with any luck, my leaves and such will blow over into my neighbor's yard, LOL!

I had to go out and refill the bird feeder and the suet cage. Now normally, that's a Wednesday night chore. But, it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so today seems to be a better choice. Since I was out there anyway, I raked the leaves off my patio gardens and found the oregano had been growing under the carpet of leaves, the sage was alive and kicking and the chives were just starting to green up. See photos.

Back inside, I emptied the dishwasher and then cleaned up the stove (last night's soup making made a mess!)

Lu called around 7:00. Seems they were quite busy over the weekend as they had nine goat kids born (mothers and babies are all doing fine). This is the last week she can make soaps to sell at an Herb Festival coming up on May 2 (they have to dry, if you remember). Then she will switch to making herb/goat milk lotions and salves. She's also trying to get the required paperwork from the state and the IRS, so she's busy and a bit frustrated.

After we hung up, I made dinner: leftover catfish and wild rice. I added in some steamed sweet corn to jazz it up, but it was still leftovers...

I watched some TV and then went to bed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Signs of the Times

I am not sure where this nostalgic thinking came from (I believe it was from the chives, which I have dug up and carried with me since living with my Mom on the old farm) but something Jake told me today really hit hard.

He said there is an old fashioned gas station, with a couple of bays for repair facilities (like I worked at back in the 60's) near him that now have a sign outside that says: "Honest repair - need work!"

That really sucks!!!


My 30-year old chives (taken from my ancestral home back on 24-mile road)


The oregano and the sage (top right) which survived this winter

Monday, Monday...

Monday morning came too soon! I had several meetings at work, one off site, so it was a very busy day. I did manage to get to Westborn at lunch for my veggies and herbs, though.

I also got a nice gift. Michelle returned my soup containers, one that she refilled with the beef barley soup she had made over the weekend! She said she couldn't confirm my cabbage soup was "authentic" but her family voted on it and decided it was "yummy!" She did add more chicken stock to it (I noticed the lack of broth in it, myself).

Back at home, I had a big debate with myself. On the one hand, I wanted to get the crap out of the front ditch so the grass could grow back. On the other, it was cold and windy. Finally, I made myself get out there and get 'er done!

Back inside, I started a project I have wanted to try. It's an America's Test Kitchen recipe for beef and vegetable soup that's supposed to taste like you simmered it all day, but can be make in just over an hour!

So, when I went grocery shopping, I picked up some beef tip steak (in a "family" pack, there were two one-pound steaks for just $3.00 a pound). They recommend buying the steaks rather than "beef tips" as you don't always know what you are getting, then. This is their recommended cut of beef, not too fat and not too lean.

Anyway, I opened the family pack, put one in a baggie and then into the freezer. The other I put on a plate and also into the freezer (meat is easier to cut raw when chilled).

Then I diced a large onion (medium dice) and quartered a pound of Cremini mushrooms. I took out the steak and trimmed the little fat there was on it. Then I cut it into 1/2 inch cubes (small enough to cook fast, but big enough not to fall apart). I combined the cubed meat with two tablespoons of soy sauce and set it aside.

Then I got my Dutch oven out and put in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. I heated that over medium-high heat until it just started smoking. I added in the mushrooms and onions and cooked them, stirring frequently, until the onions turned brown and dark bits were forming on the pan bottom (you want these!) say 8 to 12 minutes. Then I transferred them to a bowl.

Next I put in the beef and cooked it, stirring occasionally, until the soy sauce evaporated and the meat started to brown (6 to 10 minutes). Then I added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and a minced garlic clove, stirring constantly, until aromatic (maybe 30 seconds).

About this time, my daughter Melissa called. So, I turned off the heat and let it set while we talked. When we finished (a long time later) I turned the heat back on and continued. Fortunately, since I was using the cast iron Dutch oven, it never really got cold.

I added 1/2 cup of red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits, and cooked it until it was syrupy (a couple of minutes). Then I added a quart of store-bought beef stock, 1 3/4 cup of homemade chicken stock, about two cups of peeled carrots (cut into 1/2 inch pieces) and 3/4 cup of celery (also 1/2 inch pieces), a bay leaf and the browned mushrooms and onions. I brought it to a boil, then turned it to simmer and covered it.

Now, the recipe says 25 to 30 minutes. But, I can't see how you can call it "beef and vegetable soup" if the only vegetables are carrots and celery. So, I used their "optional" suggestions and after 15 minutes, I added 2 cups of 1/2 inch diced peeled redskin potatoes. And, during the last five minutes of cooking time, I added one cup of frozen corn.

Now, here's the trick that's supposed to give you the mouth feel of a soup that's been simmering for hours. I added one tablespoon of powdered, unflavored gelatin to 1/2 cup of cold water and let it stand while the soup simmered.

When the soup was done cooking, I took it off the heat and removed the bay leaf. I added the gelatin mixture and stirred it until it was completely dissolved. Then I added two tablespoons of minced fresh parsley, tasted it and adjusted the seasoning with salt and pepper.

I had tasted it all through the cooking process, of course. and it was late, so I just had one small bowl. The potatoes were a little undercooked, but it was excellent!

Satisfied, I went to watch some TV and then go to bed.

Monday, March 23, 2009


The front ditch, after a long, hard winter...


The front ditch, cleaned of winter debris


Winter damage to the backside of the mail box

Road Trip!

I was up at 6:00 AM but didn't get out of bed until 6:30 on Sunday. Staying in bed is a luxury I can only afford on the weekends. I like it because its warm and I drift between real thoughts, today's plans and back to half-dreams.

Once I was finally up, I warmed up a cup of coffee from yesterday, posted the Blog and then went out to clean up the kitchen. I put my plate and fork from last night in the dishwasher and then cleaned out the microwave (I had an ugly incident last week melting some butter, you see).

I filled my daily pill dispenser and then made breakfast (scrambled eggs topped with Franks Red Hot sauce).

Then I started on the soup I was supposed to make last night, my leek potato soup. So, I took a pound of leeks (about four or five medium sized ones) and cleaned them. Then I diced them and put them in my 6-quart stock pot with three tablespoons of butter, over medium heat. I added a small pinch of Kosher salt (if you're not making this for my Mother, use a big pinch) and sweated them for about five minutes. Then I turned the heat to medium-low and cooked them until tender (about 25 minutes).

Sidebar: I have seen a lot of robins the past few weeks (supposedly a sure sign of spring) but when I looked out my window, I saw MY sure sign of spring: the old, fat woodchuck, waddling across the back yard and ducking under the neighbor's fence. Hey, dude! Looks like we both made it to spring!!

Meanwhile I peeled four small redskin potatoes (just under a pound). You can use any kind of waxy potato (last time I used Yukon Gold) but avoid the mealy potatoes, like russets. Those work better for baking or making French fries.

I cut them into a small dice and when the timer went off, I added them to the pot. I also added a quart of my homemade chicken stock (Or, use a quart of vegetable stock if you want this to be a vegetarian soup). I brought that up to a boil on medium-high heat, then turned it to low and covered it. You want it to gently simmer until the potatoes are soft (about 40-45 minutes).

I checked the potatoes when the timer went off and they were fork tender. So, I turned off the heat and, using my immersion blender, I pureed the mixture until it was smooth (you can use a blender, but only in small batches, with the little cup on top taken off and the hole covered with a kitchen towel).

Then I added in one cup of heavy cream, one cup of buttermilk and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper (it calls for white pepper but I am out of it and quite frankly, I prefer the taste of black pepper to white). I taste-tested it (just a touch more pepper) and finally added in a tablespoon of snipped chives (frozen last fall from my herb garden). Then I set the pot on a cold burner so the soup would cool.

I shaved and showered and then got dressed for my trip. I packed the frozen and fresh-made soups into the cooler and by 11:00 AM, I was on the road!

Note to self: next time you take a road trip, look at the traffic reports, first! I did okay on I-96, then Schoolcraft (although some of the potholes on Schoolcraft could trap a subcompact car!) But, I-696 heading east was a disaster! There were long stretches where the four lanes were funneled down to two for weekend construction. And the freeway was closed entirely at Gratiot! So, I got off on Gratiot, heading north. At 12 Mile Road, I turned and went east again until I got to I-94 and then headed (once again) for New Baltimore.

I know it was a result of me speeding rather than ideal road conditions, but I got to Mom's just before noon. I gave Cora six quarts of soup (two each of the frozen Senate Bean Soup, and the Kapusta (Polish cabbage) soup and two of the still warm Leek and Potato soup.

I mentioned to Mom about reading the "Water for Elephants book straight through until I finished it and told her how struck I was with the fact that his description of life in his nursing home so mirrored her own experience. She quickly agreed.

There's not too much new in the family. She showed me some damn cute photo's of Carl's newest granddaughter (hard to believe but she's already six month's old!)

My brother Jim showed up with Holy Communion for Cora and my Mom. He looked beat, but I know tax season always takes its toll on accountants.

But, the biggest news was that Cora's husband (back in the Philippines) had suffered a stroke. Her two daughters' are currently attending him, but they both work, so they are splitting the work up. She is leaving on April first to fly home and assess the situation. She will be gone for a month. In the interim, her normal monthly replacement, Marlene, will be taking her place. I told Cora I hoped everything would be fine and she said she would soon see. She didn't sound confident, and I don't blame her!

I left just after 1:00 PM and headed for my friend B___'s house. Since, I'd missed the funeral home last weekend; I thought it only right I pay my respects. Unfortunately, his wife and their oldest daughter had gone to a pancake breakfast and an exhibition at Cranbrook on the art of making maple sugar. B___ had some corned beef and cabbage cooking in their crock pot and it smelled fantastic! He asked if I would like to stay for dinner, and I must admit I was damn tempted! But, as I explained, I had bought four fresh catfish fillets yesterday and needed to cook them tonight.

So, I hit the road, again. I-696 going west wasn't nearly as bad and I got home just before 4:00 PM. I had three voicemails that I tried to return, but got no responses. So, I washed up the stock pot, its lid, the soup ladle and a large wooden spoon from today's soup making. Then, I put my coat back on and went outside to pick up the trash in the front ditch and the vacant lot next door. I am sick of looking at it!

Back inside, I took the half a loaf of buttermilk bread and the last two hamburger buns out on the patio (both of which were starting to mold). I shredded them up by hand and spread them under the bird feeder. I know from experience the squirrels and the pigeons will make quick work of them.

Back inside for good, I started the last load of laundry for this weekend at 6:00 PM. Then I set up my mise en place for tonight's dinner (a pan of flour, a pan of beaten eggs and finally a pan of yellow corn meal). I put some Uncle Ben's wild rice mixture in a sauce pan to cook. Next I put about a quarter inch of peanut oil in my cast iron pan and when it was hot, I got started. I patted two fillets dry with paper towels. Then I ran them through the breading station (flour, eggs and cornmeal) and put them into the pan. I turned them when they were golden.

I pulled them off and put them on a rack over a paper towel to drain. I salted them on both sides and then repeated the process with the next two fillets (see photos). When the rice was done, I plated some along with a fish fillet (topped with the red hot sauce) and went in to watch my Sunday night shows.

Nice weekend!


Sunday dinner, in the making...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Working and Reading

I had a miserable night's sleep and consequently didn't wake up until 7:00 AM on Saturday. I stripped the bed and threw the sheets into the washer. Then I put on a pot of coffee and posted the Blog.

Now, I need to tell you, I invented a great late-night snack last night about 2:30 AM. Let me set the scene: In the past, when hunger pangs have assaulted me, I have taken some Triscuits and made a single layer on a plate. I topped that with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and some slices of jalapeno peppers (from a jar I always have in the fridge), micro waved it and chowed it down. But, when I checked last night, I was out of Triscuits!!!

So, I took an 8" flour tortilla and threw it right on my biggest gas burner (this is a Jake and Carla trick). When it started to rise in the middle, I flipped it over. Another rise and I had a perfectly warmed, charred tortilla. I put that on a dinner plate, loaded it up with shredded sharp cheddar and drizzled it with some medium-hot taco sauce. I topped that with my jalapeno slices and micro waved it for a minute. I folded it up, closed one end and ate it. Perfect!

Anyway, back to this morning: when the sheets came out of the dryer, the bedspread and blanket went in. I took my shower and then threw the bath towel and my robe in for the final load for today.

I got dressed and headed out around 10:30 AM for a quick shopping trip (just Home Depot and Meijer's, today). At Home Depot, I bought an 8"x7/8"x8' cedar board (rough-sawn on one side) and a long handled transfer shovel.

I got my limited groceries and lots of cleaning products, paper products, etc. at Meijer's (I'm running low on just about everything BUT food). On my way out of the shopping center, I noticed they were having a sale at Famous Footwear. I have been needing a good pair of walking shoes for work because the dress shoes I currently wear are making my feet hurt after 10 hours.

I ended up buying two pairs of the exact same shoe: a black Rockport ProWalker. Why? First pair was 15% off, but the second pair was 50% off! Since nothing lasts forever (especially shoes) I now have a backup pair.

I got home just around noon. I left the car outside and hauled in the groceries. I treated the cats (although Scruffy ignored it - he does that every now and then) and put away the stuff. I took the blanket and bedspread out of the dryer and finished making the bed. I threw the towel and bathrobe in the dryer and fired it back up.

Just after 1:30, I went out to the garage to make a new tree box. I used the table saw to cut the various pieces out, and then assembled them using the air gun. However, on the back side (you don't see) I used screws to keep it together, hopefully longer. Once I got it together, I drilled out some drainage holes (see photos).

Then I screwed it into the tree, using a level (I always do). It never visually matches the tree, but it helps to keep the water inside! When I had it all done, I took the leaf blower and cleaned out the garage. I blew all the junk (sawdust, winter debris, old leaves and rock salt) into the side lawn. Then I blew off the driveway all the way out to the road.

I pulled the car back in and, since I still had the air compressor on, I checked and refilled all the tires.

Then I went out to the back yard with the Gnome door Sadie and Luanne gave me for Christmas. I checked every tree and found one that was flat enough at the base to install it. So, I pounded in a nail and hooked it up. This will replace the face on my tree that fell apart last fall. I need my whimsy, dammit! (See photos).

Then it was onto the patio with my new shovel. I used the leaf rake to clean out the front of the north gate (not the Ninth Gate, no, it's a LOT less HOT!) Please don't ask me to explain, Mom. Just trust me on this one... I don't care if she was the Devil, I would have been there!!!

Anyway, then I used the large river rocks to fill in the place in front of the north gate. You should note three things: I locked it when I first moved in and have no idea what key unlocks its padlock; it has been sooo unused that it has sunk below the ground level, now (see photos) and I cannot reach this area with the riding mower. So, the rocks will help keep the weeds down.

I was back inside at 5:00 PM and ready to take a nap. So, I did.

Well, sorta... I thought I'd read the first chapter or two of that book my Mom recommended, "Water for Elephants," and then doze off. Mom was right, though (she always is!) I couldn't put the damn thing down! The next thing I knew, it was 10:05 PM, I was hungry, I hadn't napped at all and I had just finished the book! Excellent read!!! I loved the juxtaposition of an old man in a nursing home talking about his daily life and then flashing back to his youth and working at a circus during the Great Depression. This was one of the best fiction books I have read in a long, long time (and I read a LOT of books!) The author's name is Sara Gruen, BTW. I highly recommend this book!!!

But, then I needed to eat. I warmed up the last two hamburger patties and ate them as is with just some salt and steak sauce on top. I went and performed my nightly ablutions and then went back to bed, hopefully to really sleep this time.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


My new shovel and the debris left from the water fountain experiment


My north gate (before)


Gravel in front of the North gate


The gnome door, installed


The last board of the old tree box to remove


My new cedar board


Drainage holes


New tree box #1


New tree box #2

Friday and Spring has Sprung!

Friday's weather was a repeat of Thursday's: nice to look at, but rather cold to be out in. However, it did officially become spring at 7:40 AM today!

I had stupidly worn my light jacket. So, when I went home at lunch, I was ready for something warm. So, I made the ultimate in quick comfort food: a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of Campbell's tomato soup.

I told myself that when I got home after work, I should go out and pick up the junk I raked out of the front gardens and rake the ditch out, too. But, once I was home and in my nice warm house, I did what I like to call a "Melissa." I decided it was much more important to call my friend and see how he's doing. So, I did.

I ate my afternoon apple rather late (at 4:00 PM) because I had an offsite meeting. So, I didn't really feel hungry for dinner until later, as well. When I did, I just made two cheese burgers and another helping of the toaster oven-baked fries.

I watched TV until I got sleepy and then went to bed.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Cleaning the winter debris out of the garden


Emerging daffodils and tulips in the front garden

Thursday's Yard Work

Finally, on Thursday, I got mail! (You do realize how much better the onomatopoeia would have been if I could have said, "Finally, on
Friday.") It was all junk mail, of course, along with a "Fingerhut" catalog that threatened if I didn't buy something, this would be the last one I ever get (Good! I never bought anything from you yo-yos in the first place!)

I emptied the dishwasher (I started it at lunch) and preheated the oven to "Warm" (170 degrees F.) I want to warm up part of my dinner, but I don't want to have to stand over it and stir it. So, I took out that pound of shrimp I grilled last weekend and put it in my medium sauce pan. I tasted one (yumo!) just to make sure it was okay (it was way better than okay). Next I added a jar of store-bought creamy Alfredo pasta sauce (Classico, in the 15 ounce jar) and folded it in. I lowered the rack and set the covered sauce pan in it to heat up (Because the heat is all around the pot, it is less likely to burn on the bottom when left unattended on top the stove).

I checked the phone and found a voicemail from my grandson Carl, thanking me for the Border's gift card. He said he was going to buy more books to read up on his pet iguana! What's with this? At his age (and Jeremy's Joe), I was all about girls! What the hell is this new fascination with reptiles?

The doorbell rang while I was typing this. It was my neighbor down the street. You might remember him from when the power went out. He's the ex-Air Force guy with the Asian wife and the two cutest kids you have ever seen. He was starting a petition that, when the street gets blacktopped, (someday - he says we are low priority as we are a dead end street), we have speed bumps installed. As he said (and I have noticed) it's not the people right around here who speed, it's the people down at the end of the road (about one half a mile down).

He said the only person so far to resist was the guy with the antique Harley (hey, I know that dude! We give each other the power sign when I am out there and he rides by!) But, my ex-military neighbor swears these are not the old "trailer park" speed bumps, but something a little less jarring. Since he has little kids, I can understand his concern, so I signed his petition and sent him on his way.

It was after 6:30 PM when I put on my coat and went back outside. Now this is my down-filled coat that I never remember to wear and I added my favorite winter hat, my Canada toque. I used the leaf rake and cleaned out the front gardens (see photos). Then I got a hammer and took down the old wooden tree box.

Back inside, I cooked up a pound of Mostaccioli. After I drained it, I added the sauce and shrimp to it and mixed well. I plated it, topped it with some black pepper and grated parm, and headed off for some TV before bedtime.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Not a wet Wednesday

I came home for lunch on Thursday and noticed that the tree box was broken (see photos). I'm not sure if it just happened or I just now noticed it.

It was supposed to rain off and on today, but still hadn't when I drove home at 5:00 PM.

Here's something weird: for the second day in a row, I had NO mail!

I started the normal Wednesday night laundry and then got to work on the second load. I had worn my light spring jacket yesterday (when it was 70 degrees F.) but noticed at work the collar and cuffs looked dirty. So, tonight I scrubbed them with a brush and some cleanser. The coat and my main bathroom rug made up the second load of laundry.

Since I had the rug out, I swept and mopped the bathroom floor. I hung up the first load of clothes and popped the second into the dryer.

Next I made my dinner. I put a single layer of frozen shoe-string French fries on my toaster oven tray (lined with tin foil for easy cleanup) and cooked them at 450 degrees (eight minutes on the first side, then turned and five minutes on the other),

I warmed two hamburger patties in the microwave for a minute and then put on some American cheese and heated them another 15 seconds. I put ketchup, mustard and dill pickle relish on two buns. I plated everything, adding salt to the fries and a dab of ketchup for dunking.

I went into the bedroom to watch the "Chopping Block." It got over at 9:00 PM and I went to bed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Winter Damage!

Tuesday and Fresh Air

It was a little chilly taking the trash out Tuesday morning, but I wore a light coat to work, anyway. It's supposed to be a high near 70 degrees F. today!

I had a lot to do at lunch today. First, I swung by my old Rehab place and dropped off a box of chocolates and a St. Patrick's Day card to my physical therapist, Maureen. Now, I know from past experience she wouldn't be there, as she's as Irish as the Blarney Stone (see the Poetry section under "National Physical Therapy Month"). So, after the morning Mass, she will join her friends to visit various Irish bars and stop in occasionally back at her house, (which is open all day long) where she has an enormous spread of Irish food for guests who pop in and out all day.

In fact, the receptionist (a lovely, short black woman who always liked to dance when Ellen was dancing on the TV) urged me to stop by Maureen's house and get some food ("She always makes way too much!") I was touched that she remembered me after four years but I told her I was sorry because, being German, I had to work today!

Next I headed across town to the Laurel Park Place Mall, at Six Mile Road and Newburgh in Livonia. Why? Well, one of my missions during Monday's lunch was to stop in at the Waldenbooks by me and get a Border's gift card for my grandson Carl V's birthday this Saturday. Imagine my shock and dismay to find it closed! Sign of the times, I suppose.

Jacob found me a list of the nearest Borders and Border's Express and this one is the closest. It's quite the contrast to drive from Beech Daly in Redford to Newburgh Road in Livonia, BTW. In Redford, 7 Mile is a ghetto and yet, a few miles west in Livonia and its all huge, gorgeous homes.

So, I got to the mall and went to Max and Erma's. This is a restaurant I frequented often with my friend B___, back in the day. I sat in the bar (as always) which is a "smoking" area. Not that I was smoking, but it's the best way to ensure you are not seated next to some crying kid! The barmaid remembered me and brought me coffee and large water. She asked if I wanted the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with onion rings and I said, "Sure!" She asked how B___ was doing and I said fine.

When I had finished, I paid my bill and left a nice tip. Then I left and began the long walk to the bookstore. I picked up the gift card and then headed back to work.

At work, I put the gift card with the birthday card in the envelope I'd addressed last night, sealed it, stamped it and sent it on its way. BTW, if you have any conversions with Carl V, I would appreciate you not mentioning this. I am assuming he doesn't read this Blog.

When I got home at 5:10, it was 71 degrees. So, I turned off the furnace, opened every damn window in the house and turned on the kitchen ceiling fan! I filled in the Blog and then went out on the front porch with a roll of paper towels, a trash bin and some Windex spray. I cranked open the two side windows and washed them, inside and out, first. Then I washed the picture window. I probably took half a roll of the paper towels, but, I "got 'er done!"

I came back inside and shut the two front windows, and then I checked the temperature, It was about 68 degrees F, so I went around and closed (and locked) all the windows. What ever smells the winter had brought, they should have ether been eliminated or I will have to deal with later.

I warmed up the last of the pasta a la Carbonara for my dinner. Topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, it was still a treat. Then I wandered off to watch TV and, ultimately, go to sleep.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I thought in honor of the day, I'd post a little Irish ditty I wrote (tongue-in-cheek) back in High School. It's to be sung with that standard Irish song music. Now why I can't remember the name of the guy in the cube next to me, but I can remember a song I wrote 45 years ago is a mystery to me, but here it is:

On St. Patrick's Day
if I had me way
All the colors would be red
For I'm sick of green
if you know what I mean
I wish it was red, instead!

For, green is obscene
Its a school latrine
It's a cheap, plastic 10 cent pen
It's boogers and vomit
and '63 Comets
and the skin of Martian men.

So, let's make it red
or pink instead
or yellow, black or blue
and I'll lead the parade
with Shamrocks I made
with brown tissue paper for you!

Resting up on Monday

Monday was almost a repeat of Sunday, weather-wise, except for a few more clouds.

I ran a few errands at lunch, then went home and warmed up a hamburger. I ate it watching the news. The news was mostly bad but the hamburger was good!

The work day was pretty normal except, from about 3:00 PM on, I couldn't stop yawn. Very embarrassing!

Once home, I did a lot of little chores. I thought of airing out the house (Jake had told me that's what they did on Sunday) but Tuesday's supposed to be even warmer, so I think I'll do that then.

I did put the Kapusta (the Polish cabbage soup) into freezer containers (and one big one for the fridge). I also cleaned out the fridge (tomorrow's garbage day, of course). The next thing I knew it was after 7:00 PM!

I went through the TV listings for all night and saw nothing (I mean, nothing!) of interest. So, I warmed up the last of the baby back ribs and a bowl of the macaroni and cheese (now really, really dry, even though I added some milk).

I took my dinner into the bedroom and popped in another favorite movie I own on DVD: "Master and Commander, the Far Side of the World," with Russell Crowe. I watched that until just after 10:00 PM and then went to bed.

Monday, March 16, 2009


The water in the "lake" is receding, now


Cleaning up the cabbages


Easy way to core a cabbage


Country-style spare ribs, browned

More Grillin' and Chillin'

I woke up at 6:30 AM (which, just a week ago, was 5:30 AM - No, no, it's time to let all that Daylight Savings Time bitterness go...) I warmed up a cup of the coffee Carla made yesterday and had a cup. Then, I had another cup...

I finished writing the Blog and then posted it (way too long, but a lot went on yesterday). Then I started the weekend laundry.

Next, I hopped in the shower (no shaving today, I'm in my "rebel" mode). Now, this is just one of the tricks I use to control the "bad" John. You see, given the chance, I will stay in the shower way too long (I think Jake inherited that from me). I can't do it on weekdays, of course. But, on weekends, I love that warm water, beating on me and easing all my aches and pains. However, that wastes natural gas (that I have to pay for), so it's a no-no. But, by starting the washing machine first, I know I have just 12 minutes before the rinse cycle starts to fill up and I will be scalded (I have my hot water heater set at 160 degrees F.!) So, I have a good reason to hurry, lol!

It's kind of a weird day. All the housecleaning was done early yesterday; I have plenty of leftovers for my lunch and dinner and it's supposed to be even warmer (54 degrees F.) than yesterday and sunny. So, I basically have nothing to do and a beautiful day to do it in!

I checked the dishwasher and it's full enough now to run it. So, I added the soap, a few remaining dishes and turned it on.

It's pretty enough to go outside right now, but I know that's only and illusion (it's still only 30 degrees F. at 9:00 AM).

This week's featured artists on Saturday and Sunday Morning Over Easy are the Grateful Dead. Now, I've never considered myself a "Dead-Head" but I have always admired how they incorporated so many different styles of music in their work, everything from hard rock, to psychedelic to pure country. But today, I can't help laughing every time Pam Rossi says "Grateful Dead." Why?

Well, there is a show on cable called "No Reservations," where the host, Anthony Bourdain (an ex-chef and long-time hero) goes and samples the local cuisine (anywhere from Cleveland, to Vietnam, to Venice). On one particular episode, he was in Texas and somehow ended up on Ted Nugent's ranch (Ted Nugent is a hard-core, gun-loving bad boy rocker who, ironically, was born and raised here in Redford, Mom). Well, for some reason I don't remember, Tony mentioned the Grateful Dead. Ted said, after thinking a moment, "Well, the only thing I can say about them is I'm grateful they are dead!" Cracked me up then and, apparently, still does now...

So, I watched a few cooking shows. I have another pound of frozen shrimp and some smoked sausage thawing. Why? Well, I have two pounds of ground chuck I bought that I need to grill (leftovers next week, for either lunch or dinner) so, since I will have the grill going again, I might as well use it to its fullest.

But, now its 1:00 PM and time to make some more soup. In spite of this being so close to St. Patrick's Day, I decided to try another authentic ethnic recipe: Kapusta (Polish Cabbage Soup). Why? Well, I believe I mentioned that my co-worker, Michelle, loves Kapusta. So, if I can make it and have her taste-test it, I will know if I got it right, or not.

I have two pounds of country-style pork spare ribs and two medium-sized cabbages. So, I seasoned the ribs on all sides with salt and pepper and then, in my medium skillet, I added some olive oil and browned the ribs on all sides. See photos.

Meanwhile, I took the outer leaves off the cabbages. Now, I actually know a saying Japanese chefs use for cabbage (I think it was, "For the perfect sweetness, eat after the seventh layer") But, I forget exactly just which layer! So, I pulled off the deep green leaves until I got to the pale green/white layers. I cut it into quarters and then, using a diagonal cut, cored them (see photos). Then I finely sliced each quarter (sure, I could have used the mandoline, but I need more practice with the Shun).

I added some butter to the olive oil in the pan and began to sweat the cabbage. I can only do it in batches, of course. So, I put the wilted cabbage in my stock pot and, adding more butter, wilt the next batch. So, this is all tong work, BTW. I am using my Kitchen Aid tongs that have the heat-proof silicon on the ends, so I don't scratch my non-stick pan.

Well, once it was wilted about half way, I was able to do my signature skillet toss, but you definitely need tongs on the front end. Now, I'm a novice at Kapusta, but I have filled my biggest bowl twice with shredded cabbage. This seems excessive, but I am following the family recipe...

When all the cabbage was wilted (about an hour later) I move on to the next step: Which is to add (according to the recipe) a 28 ounce can of sauerkraut. Now, personally, I hate canned sauerkraut, because it always tastes "tinny" to me. So, I put in a 32 ounce bag of sauerkraut, instead. Then I buried the ribs in the middle and added water, just to cover all. Then I turned it to simmer and let it simmer (for at least two hours).

I went in the bedroom and lay down to take a nap. I did eventually fall asleep and woke up (startled) at 6:00 PM. I jumped up and went out to do the shrimp. I threaded six pieces on two skewers and then repeated. Then I covered them with a quick marinade: The juice of one lemon, some olive oil, red pepper flakes, and then some salt and pepper. While that got happy, I made the two pounds of ground chuck into eight patties. Then I cut the smoked sausage into four pieces.

I went and dragged out the grille. I used Carla's trick and sprayed the glossy paper with cooking oil and then lit it under the charcoal. Bingo! In less than 20 minutes, I had red-hot coals.

I put the shrimp and the sausage on first. Again, the shrimp only took like two minutes on each side, and then I pulled them off and put on the burgers. I cooked them about three minutes a side as I will be reheating them. Somebody drove by in a van, rolled down his window and shouted "What's for dinner?" I yelled back, "Burgers!" and he gave me a thumbs up. I took everything into the house and shut the garage door.

I let the burgers and shrimp rest while I warmed up some beans from yesterday. Then I plated two pieces of sausage and the beans and that was Sunday dinner. I got everything put in the fridge just in time for my Sunday night shows. I made it though two of them, but decided to go to bed at 10:00 PM.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Morning, Over Easy Song Snippet

There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

~ In My Life, Lennon & McCartney

Grillin' and Chillin'

I set the alarm on Saturday! Why? Well, I have a conflict of interest in this morning's schedule. I made a 9:00 AM appointment to get my hair cut, before I realized this is the day the Water Department guy is supposed to come back and run a new wire for my meter, so they can read it outside. He can show up anytime between 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM, BTW.

But, after sitting, stuck on my ass last weekend, waiting 12 1/2 hours for the furnace repair guy, I am a little less inclined to worry about tradesmen and their schedules. So, after some coffee and Blog posting, I shaved and showered. I still had some time before leaving for the barber, so I swept the kitchen floor and cleaned the counters (again). Then, I put a cover on the table and took everything out from under the sink (so the guy can work, unimpeded).

There was still no sign of the guy at 8:50 AM, so I left for the barber. I was back by 9:25 AM and still no sign of him (no card in the door saying, "I was here" or anything). So, instead of pulling in, I cut down the alley to the quarter car wash and hosed the Volvo off. I was back home and drying off the car windows in less than 20 minutes.

Then, I started the macaroni and cheese. I cooked a pound of elbow macaroni in boiling salted water until al dente (about seven minutes). Then I drained it, tossed it with two tablespoons of butter and set it aside.

Next, I put four cups of whole milk into a big saucepan. To the milk, I added a small, peeled onion, studded with two whole cloves. Next I added a bay leaf, three sprigs of fresh thyme, four cloves of peeled garlic and a teaspoon of dry mustard. I warmed it up over medium low heat until the milk started to steam (about 10 minutes). Then I removed it from the heat to let the flavors infuse while I made the roux.

I put two tablespoons of butter in a pot (the same one I cooked the pasta in) over medium heat and added two tablespoons of flour. I cooked it, whisking constantly for two or three minutes (don't let the roux color!) Then I strained in the infused milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. I cooked that for another five minutes or so, still whisking, until the sauce was thick.

I removed the sauce from the heat and added in one cup of mild cheddar and 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. I stirred that until it was smooth. I tasted it and adjusted the seasoning (needed more salt and a lot of ground pepper).

I buttered the sides of a tin-foil baking pan (I only have one casserole dish and I used it for the baked beans) and put the macaroni in it. I poured the sauce over the macaroni and added one cup of sharp cheddar chunks and mixed it together. I topped that with another cup of the mild cheddar cheese and another 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

I varied the recipe at this point by also topping it with a handful of Italian bread crumbs. Then I put it in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees F. I set the timer for 25 minutes and then will check on it. You want the top golden and crusty.

It was 10:45 AM and still no sign of the Water Department guy, so I washed all the pots and pans. The timer went off, but I decided the macaroni and cheese needed another five minutes. Then, I pulled it out and set it on top the stove to cool.

The Water Department guy showed up at 11:00 AM. He pulled out the old wire from out in the back yard and threaded in a new one. He had that wired to the meter in less than five minutes. Then he went back outside to run it around the house to the remote read site. Before he walked out, he pointed at the cooling mac & cheese and said, "Whatever that is, it smells fantastic!" I told him it was macaroni and cheese for this afternoon's barbecue. He said he was stopping at Kroger after work for some steaks and was going to grille tomorrow. Spring is definitely in the air!

He knocked on the door to tell me he was leaving at 11:30 and that everything is working again. We wished each other well with our respective barbecues and he took off. I put everything back under the sink.

Now, it's onto the ribs! I cut the rack in half and then ripped off the white membrane on the bone side, as best as I could. I put them on a half sheet tray and baptized them with a cup of bourbon, followed by a cup of apple juice.

Then I added the dry rub, which I made with some salt, fresh ground black pepper, a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, two tablespoons of grille seasoning (I use Montreal Steak Seasoning, myself) and four large cloves of garlic, finely minced. I have the ribs meat side up and I massaged the dry rub into the meat. Then I put the tray into the oven, which was preheated to 250 degrees F. (low and slow, baby!) I'll let them go for about three hours, and then add in the baked beans and macaroni and cheese to warm them.

So, it's now just after noon and time to get the appetizer ready: marinated, grilled shrimp. I had thawed a pound of 25-30 shrimp, so I took off the shells and de-veined them. Then I made a simple marinade by combining 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of dry white wine, one tablespoon of dry, minced onions, 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. I put that all in a zip-lock bag and shook it up, and then added the shrimp. I put the bag in the fridge to marinate (2-4 hours). I put 10 wood skewers in water (so they don't catch fire when we grille the shrimp).

Okay, I'm tired now. So, I vacuumed the living room rug, washed the kitchen floor and then went to watch TV and (hopefully) take a nap while it dried.

I did doze off, because the stove timer woke me up at 2:30 PM. I went and transferred the beans and the macaroni and cheese from the fridge to the oven. It smells pretty good in here, BTW.

I did a quick check of all the rooms to make sure they meet inspection. I picked up a few new Caley hairs from the living room and sprayed the bathroom sink with window cleaner and dried it with a paper towel. I lit the candle in the living room and the one in the bath, then I went outside to light the charcoal.

I was trying to get it to light with used printer paper (plain old newspaper works best, but I don't have any) when Jake and Carla arrived. The second try with paper just fizzled out when Carla suggested the glossy ad paper, sprayed with cooking oil. Bingo!

Jake was taking a look at my computer (it's been running very slow since there was an automatic Microsoft update during the night last week). Carla decided she wanted to make deviled eggs and asked if I had any hardboiled eggs (I always do!)

She got busy with that while I ran two wet wood skewers through five pieces of the marinated shrimp and then repeated until I had the whole pound skewered. (Why two? They are much easier to control when you flip them.) I took them out and, after spreading the charcoal, cleaning the grates and oiling them, I put them on the fire. I cooked them until pink (maybe two-three minutes per side).

I put them on a platter and took them inside. I offered them around after trying one (not bad, but no big whoop, either!) I asked Carla about her deviled eggs (didn't see them) and she said she had Jake taste test them and they ended up too salty. I assumed she threw them away.

I took the ribs out of the oven and the barbeque sauce I had prepared earlier (one full bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce mixed with 1/4 cup of bourbon) and went back to the grill. Now, you've already cooked them, all you are trying to do it get a coating of caramelized sauce on them. So, be patient, baste them a lot and if they start to burn, move them to a cooler part of the grille for a bit.

When I had them where I wanted them, I put them on another platter and took them in the house. The table was set, I pulled out the beans and macaroni and cheese and we helped ourselves, buffet style.

My review? The ribs were fantastic. The beer baked beans were pretty damn good, too. But, I thought the macaroni and cheese suffered from being warmed back up. They tasted good, but were a bit dry. Note to self: Next time you are faced with this, make 1 1/2 times the sauce to allow for the reheat (I'm just guessing, here).

After eating way too much (just speaking about myself, now) we cleared the table and Jake got out the Scrabble game. Whereupon, I had my head handed to me! Yes, the famed technical, short story, poetry and Blog writer barely broke 100 points!!! Jake won but Carla kicked my butt, too!

After that humiliation, they packed up and left (around 7:00 PM). I went in and watched the Saturday morning cooking showed I'd taped.

Around 10:00 PM, I started thinking about a snack (maybe some cold baked beans?) and went out to the fridge. There I found Carla's deviled eggs! So, I tried one: yes, a little salty, but I like salty. Other than that, they were excellent (I wish I knew what she put in them. Was that a fine diced scallion?) I woofed down five of them and covered the rest with cling wrap to eat tomorrow. Then I went to bed.

I got back up around 2:00 AM to go to the bathroom, so I slipped on my robe, opened the garage door and dragged the grill inside. Then I went back to bed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Morning, over Easy Song Snippet

[This reminds me of every woman I have ever known...]

She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

~ Like a Woman, by Bob Dylan, 1966


So, I got home on Friday (after "Banging that Drum") at 5:10 PM. I immediately took the jerky out of the oven (it was supposed to heat for 20 hours and this would be 22 hours). While that cooled to room temp, I put my boots on, went out back and put a suet cake in the cage. I had my camera in my pocket, but nothing jumped out as a great photo. The crocus on Jake's patio had not yet bloomed, for example. I used the last of my roasted peanuts to fill the squirrel feeder.

Back inside, I took a call from a friend. We hung up just after 6:00 PM. So, I put the cooled-off beef jerky into a Zip-Lock baggie and tried a bite. Hmmm... well it's pretty chewy and also pretty spicy. I kinda wish I'd gone with a soy sauce or something with a little less heat. But, it is what it is. And, the most important thing is, I now can make jerky at home!

So, now it's cleaning up. I emptied the dishwasher I had started up at lunch. Then I washed the big bowls and pans. Next I moved to the stove top (which I had trashed last night).

Okay, so Jake and Carla are coming over tomorrow afternoon to celebrate the arrival of spring (its supposed to be sunny and a high of 50 degrees). So, what better way to celebrate but with grillin' and chillin'? So, I'm thinking my Sweet Bourbon baby back ribs, with two sides: macaroni and cheese and beer-baked beans. Since the ribs need a long, low and slow oven time, I think I should make the sides tonight and reheat them tomorrow.

So, for the beans, I rendered four strips of bacon, cut into one inch strips, in my Dutch oven. This is one of those recipes that you just use store-bought stuff and combine, BTW. A lot of Foodies sneer at these, but its quick, easy and tastes good, so who cares?

When the fat was rendered, but before the bacon was crispy, I added a fine-diced red onion and cooked it until the onion was soft (about five minutes). Then I added the remainder of the ingredients: two (28 ounce) cans of plain old pork and beans, 1/4 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of spicy brown mustard, three tablespoons of molasses and one 12 ounce bottle of beer.

I heated that up to a boil, and then turned it down to a simmer for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F. When the 10 minutes were up, I carefully ladled the beans into a two-quart casserole dish, put that on a half-sheet tray and popped it into the oven. I'll check it in 45 minutes and see if the beans are at my desired thickness (takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, BTW)

Now, I should be moving on to the mac & cheese, but I realized how tired I was. So, I decided that would be a Saturday morning thing and, instead, heated up some of the leftover pasta for my dinner. I ate that while reading.

I checked the beans when the timer went off: No, not thick enough. I let it go the remaining 15 minutes and then took it out of the oven. I let it set on the cutting board to cool and went to check out the TV shows. Damn! No boxing tonight, only basketball. Yuck!

So, I watched taped shows until I got sleepy. Then I covered the beans and put them in the fridge. Then I put myself to bed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Inner Child

Now, much has been said about confronting and accepting your inner child (including an abortion, lol). Well, I gotta tell you this: my inner child is an idiot!

He (or she, which is a little creepy) doesn't seem to understand where I have been or what I have been going through).

So. all I can suggest is my "inner child" is on his/her own. I got a lot of shit I have to deal with! You do what whatever you gotta do...

Quote of the Day

"That best portion of a good man's life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love."

~ William Wordsworth

Friday the 13th (again!)

If Friday the 13th is unlucky, then 2009 is an unusually unlucky year. This week's Friday the 13th is one of three to endure this year.

The first came last month. The next is in November. Such a rare triple-threat occurs only once every 11 years.

The origin of the link between bad luck and Friday the 13th is murky. The whole thing might date to Biblical times (the 13th guest at the Last Supper betrayed Jesus). By the Middle Ages, both Friday and 13 were considered bearers of bad fortune.

Thursday, still catching up

It was 22 degrees F. when I woke up on Thursday, so the lake in back was now an ice rink!

I went to Kroger's at lunch and finally finished up last weekend's grocery shopping. I raced home, put most of the groceries away and then raced back to work.

I learned that one of the cats (I'm not naming names) had decided it would be a swell idea to barf on the bedspread before I got home after work. So, without even changing clothes, I threw the bedspread and the blanket into the washer (after spraying the stain).

Next, I started a new venture for me. One of the people I respect in the food world, Michael Ruhlman, who writes "cook" books (as opposed to "recipe" books) and Blogs about food, mentioned a rather simple recipe for beef jerky. So, I decided to give it a try. I like beef jerky, but it's so damn expensive these days!

Now Alton Brown (another hero) had a neat setup, using a box fan and furnace filters, but I no longer have a box fan. So, I thought I'd try this. But, there are problems with this one, too. You need to set your oven on 90 degrees F. Now, that's cool if you have a commercial oven, but my lowest setting is 170 degrees F. (or "warm"). He suggested that, if that was the case, you could leave the door open a crack. But, can you imagine the gas you would use over a 20 hour period?

However, one of the comments on his Blog mentioned a 100 watt light bulb with the door closed gives you just the right heat. So, since I do have that, I am going with it.

So, I took the 2 1/2 pound round steak out of the fridge. While I let it warm up, I mixed together the rub which was 3/4 ounces of kosher salt (using my kitchen scale, here) or about 1 1/2 tablespoons, 1 3/4 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 3/4 teaspoons of onion powder and 3 teaspoons of ground chipotle.

I cut off all the fat I could and then cut the steak into 1/4 inch strips (you want them around 1/4 inches x 3/4 inches). Now, if you want it really chewy, you cut it against the grain, but, for people like me (I can't eat bacon as crispy as Carla likes it, for example), I cut it with the grain. I put the strips into a large bowl and dusted it with the spices. I tossed them and dusted them again, tossing and dusting them over and over until the spices were gone.

Then, I put them on racks sitting on half sheet pans (see photos). I rigged up the 100 watt bulb, rearranged the oven racks and slid them in. I shut the door and will check on them tomorrow when I get home from work. I did check my free-standing oven thermometer (never trust what your oven says!) and it was 95 degrees, so the guy was right!

The bedspread and blanket were now dried, so I made up my bed.

So, it was now after 7:00 PM and time to make dinner. I pulled the chilled brown rice from the fridge, threw it on a sheet tray and busted up the big clumps with my hands. I let that warm up while I put one cup of frozen peas into a sieve over a bowl to thaw.

Next, I made my mise en place. I had already cut the pork chop into cubes, so now I thin-sliced some scallions (four of them, white and green). Then, as I said I would add the last time I made these, I cut up about a half a tray of mushrooms into the same size as the pork.

I mixed up the sauce (1/4 cup oyster sauce and two tablespoons good soy sauce) and scrambled three eggs while my biggest non-stick saut� pan heated up to medium-high.

When the pan was ready, I added the eggs, swirling them around to coat the whole bottom. I cooked them without stirring until they were firm (adjust the heat if you need to, but don't let them brown). Then I transferred them to a plate to cool.

I returned the skillet to the burner, added vegetable oil and heated it on high heat. Meanwhile, I cut the eggs into small pieces. When it was hot, I added the peas, scallions and mushrooms and cooked, stirring constantly, for about one minute. I added in the rice, the sauce mixture, the eggs and the diced pork. I continued to cook that, again stirring constantly for another one to two minutes (until the rice was cooked through). I plated it, drizzled it with sesame oil and a little more soy sauce and went in to watch TV.

Well, since I brag about my culinary triumphs, it's only fair I report my failures. This fried rice sucked!!! I am not sure if it was the mushrooms or the brown rice (I suspect both) but this consistency was nothing like restaurant fried rice or even like my last batch. This was just soggy!

Fortunately, I found an old Sherlock Holmes movie (The Hound of the Baskervilles, starring Peter Cushing, from 1958) which more than made up for the mediocre dinner. I surprised myself by staying up until it ended (at 10:00 PM). Then I went to sleep.


The start of my homemade beef jerky

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kitchen Time

It was still raining when I woke up at 1:00 AM, but it had stopped by the Wednesday morning alarm. Now its falling temperatures and high winds!

They said on the news that we set a record for rain yesterday - 0.97 inches. Previous record was 0.69 inches, set on March 10, 1992.

Consequently, the lake in the back yard has expanded. When I went home at lunch, I took a picture and posted it for you. I am hoping the winds today dry some of it out!

Back home at 5:10 PM, I changed clothes and started the Wednesday night laundry. But, not before treating the cats and taking a pound of bacon out of the freezer to thaw. I really, REALLY feel the need to make some fresh, new, real dinner tonight.

Then it was time to prep for other meals. First I rinsed and then made some brown rice (I'm gonna try the fried rice again, but this time it will be "pork" and brown rice, using the other two pound chop that I had marinated for three days last week). I also cooked up another batch of the Irish porridge. So, I have two pots on the stove cooking, neither of which will result in my dinner! What the hell is wrong with me?

I pulled the rice and the steel cut oats off and let them cool while I hung up my work clothes. So, by 7:30 PM, I had a pot of porridge and a pot of brown rice cooling and a large saut� pan with a pound of bacon, cut into one inch slices, rendering. You see, I don't have any pancetta, so we are going with bacon to make my Penne a la Carbonara (come on, you remember, the Coal Miner Wife's pasta?)

So, when the bacon was close to crisp, I topped it with fresh ground pepper. I poured off the excess fat (into the coffee cup I save bacon fat in, in the fridge, like my Mother used to do). Meanwhile, I had six eggs I brought up to room temperature. Now, if you remember, I threw away all the milk, buttermilk and heavy cream Monday night. So, instead of heavy cream, I added 1/2 cup of condensed milk to the eggs, along with about 3 tablespoons of fresh, chopped parsley and 1 1/4 cups of fresh, grated Parmesan cheese. I beat that all together while the salted water for the pasta was heating up.

When the water was at a heavy boil, I added a pound of Penne pasta. When it came back to a boil I turned it to simmer and set the timer for 11 minutes.

I drained but did not rinse the pasta (it needs the natural starch for the sauce to stick). I put it back into the pot and stirred in the bacon chunks, mixing well. I added in the egg/cream mixture and stirred it in (its important to work quickly while the pasta is still warm, so the eggs and cream will cook, but not curdle). I topped it with a bit of fresh parsley and more grated Parmesan cheese.

I plated a bowl of it and went in to watch "The Chopping Block" on Channel 4. It's a new cooking competition show and, I think, the first one ever on prime time, regular TV. Dinner was excellent and the show was pretty good, too.

During one of the commercial breaks, I went out and put away the porridge, the rice and the leftover Pasta a la Carbonara. I decided to let all the pots and pan soak overnight and when the show ended at 9:00 PM, I got ready for bed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


The lake is expanding!!!

Damp and Cold

It was raining when I carried out the garbage Tuesday morning. It's supposed to be another all-day rain event and flood warning are up in my area.

Now, like Jake has said before, I, too, love a gentle, warm spring rain. This was not. It was cold and down-right miserable. I stopped at CVS to pick up a prescription before going home for lunch. I had a warmed up bowl of the Senate Bean soup, BTW. Excellent and I didn't even add any salt!!!

I started composing a poem this morning. I'm not sure why, but I was somehow struck by the image of an unattended cigarette and how the ash grows longer and longer and then finally falls off. I tweaked it off and on all day long and then posted it to one of my poetry groups. I got a couple of fantastic comments for feedback, so I felt it was safe to post. When I came home tonight, I did (I may also post their comments myself as they don't know about this website). It's called "and Dust to Dust," BTW.

I called my friend B___ to apologize for not making it to the funeral home on Sunday. He said he understood and he would give his wife my condolences. He also said he did, indeed, run into my brother Carl.
Jesus, I missed two important funeral home visits!

Okay, so it was almost 6:30 PM and I needed to make some dinner (I am falling asleep too damn early with the Daylight Savings time change thing to make dinner at 8:00 PM).

As I am sure you remember, I don't like eating the same thing twice in a row. So, tonight I took a hamburger patty, topped it with the rest of the caramelized onions and warmed that up in the microwave. I ate it with steak sauce and a side dish of the boxed mac & cheese.

I watched some taped TV shows but, sure enough, started dozing off around 9:00 PM. So, I gave up and went to bed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

and Dust to Dust...

My life is like a cigarette
held in a careless hand
or left, forgotten,
on the edge of an ashtray

As the moments move on
the ash grows in length
at first keeping its phantom shape
then bending a bit under time and gravity

But, with certainty,
there must come a time
for me and for all others
when the ash will fall...

Ah, Monday!

Monday morning came too early (about an hour too early, actually, lol!)

I went to Westborn during lunch, since no grocery shopping got done over the weekend. In addition to the veggies, fruits and herbs needed for the next two weeks, I picked up 1/2 pound of domestic Swiss cheese and a loaf of good rye bread.

When I got home after work, I pulled up the four driveway marker wands (for the snowplow) and stored them in the garage for next year. I'm guessing (praying, actually) that snow deep enough to plow is over for this winter.

Then I got out my boots and went out back. The bird feeder had gotten all jacked around and rain damped the seed. So, I dumped it out, scrapped off the wet seed and left it to dry. I had grabbed my camera, so I took another picture of the flooded back yard, plus one of some emerging crocus I found.

Back inside and with my clothes changed, I began to ruthlessly clean out the fridge (in preparation of garbage day tomorrow morning). I filled a kitchen trash bag with old veggies, herbs, milk, sour cream, etc.

Then, onto dinner. I took out my hamburger patties and let one come up to room temperature. I peeled a nice big onion and thinly sliced it. I warmed up some oil and butter and then caramelized the onion.

Meanwhile, I filled the little tray with one layer of frozen French fries (on top of tin foil, for easy cleanup) and stuck them in the in the toaster oven.

I buttered one side of two pieces of rye bread while I warmed the burger up in the microwave for a minute. I also warmed up my little George Foreman grille (that I now only use as a panini press) and then built my patty melt.

I put a little mustard on one piece of bread, added two slices of Swiss cheese, the burger patty, a big helping of caramelized onion and then the other slice of the bread. That went into the grille and I shut the lid.

I checked it every now and then and when it was a golden, toasted color with distinct grille marks, I plated it. I added the now-salted fries, put a little ketchup on the side and went off to eat and watch TV. Delicious!!!

As it does every year, this Daylight Savings Time change is kicking my butt and I barely made it to 9:00 PM when I turned off the TV and light and went to bed.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Lake CaptainK on Sunday (forgive the flash, it was very overcast out there)


The Captain's lake on Monday


The crocus on Jake's patio, thinking it just might be spring!

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes I feel like the whole world is against me, but deep down I know that's not true. The smaller countries are neutral."

~ Robert Orben

Sunday, Shot in the Ass!

I woke up at 8:00 AM (really 7:00 AM) and went out to heat up a cup of coffee. I immediately noticed that it seemed a bit cold. So, I checked the thermostat and it was 63 degrees F.! What the hell?

My first thought was I messed up changing the time on the thermostat, but I know the furnace was working after I did that. I tried everything I knew to get it to kick on, but nothing, just an annoying buzz. So, I called DTE (I have a major appliance repair contract with them) and reported it. They said they would have somebody out to look at it between now (say 9:00 AM) and 5:00 PM. Depending on the timing, this could seriously affect my funeral home and Mom trip.

I turned on the electric heater in the fireplace. Its 40 degrees F. and raining outside, so I don't think I need to get out the propane heater just yet.

I shaved and showered (first time all morning I was warm) and then made some breakfast. I heated up a can of roast beef hash and topped it with two eggs over-easy. I cleaned up the dishes and then decided to get back in bed and watch some TV.

At 2:30 PM, I still hadn't heard from anybody, so I called DTE back. No, I was still on the list and it had been assigned to a tech. I just have to wait. So, I made another pot of coffee and washed the main bathroom.

At 4:30 PM, there was still no sign of him. It's been raining steadily all day and now my backyard is starting to flood. At 5:00 PM, I called again. They said the appointment is still open, so they will be here sometime today.

Okay, so I admit, when it was 7:00 PM, I called them back. They assured me someone would still be coming tonight. I took out the leftover spaghetti and meatballs. I ate dinner watching TV.

The repairman finally showed up at 9:30 PM. He checked it out and said my draft induction motor was burned out. Fortunately, he had one on his truck, so he replaced it. He also replaced my flame sensor while he was at it. He left just after 10:00, heading for his last customer of the day.

I turned off the electric heater in the fireplace and then went to bed.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Saturday, in the slow lane

I slept lousy Friday night. I woke up around 1:00 AM and could NOT fall asleep until after 4:00. Which is why, I guess, I didn't wake up until almost 8:00 AM.

But, one thing about last night's insomnia was lucky, I guess. At one point, I went out in the kitchen and ate a hardboiled egg, putting a dab of horseradish on each bite (it's a Polish thing, but I like it!) As I was standing by the sink, I could hear a radio and realized I left the garage boom box on. So, I went out and turned it off. While I was out there, I thought that probably enough time had passed (it was around 3:00 AM) that I could safely bring the grille back in, so I did (quickly, as I was just in my robe and birthday suit).

Why was that lucky? Because when I pulled it in it was clear, but when I woke up this morning, it was raining quite steady. So, by chance, I avoided that whole "fear of a rusting grille" thing.

I clumsily stripped the bed (my right arm is still not working very well) and loaded the washing machine. Then I made a pot of coffee.

Now, tonight is the Daylight Savings Time "Spring Forward." But, I figured there was no sense in waiting until the last minute, so I went through each room adjusting the time one hour forward. And, this time, I remembered the thermostat!

I put a pound of dried navy beans in water and brought them to a boil, let them boil for two minutes and then turned them down to simmer. I covered them and let them stand for an hour. I need to make some soup.

Why? Because my friend B___'s mother-in-law died on Thursday so I will be going up to New Baltimore on Sunday to pay my respects. Since I am that close, I might as well drop some food off to my Mother.

I felt bad as I had emailed my brother Carl, asking where Gendernalik's Funeral Home had relocated. He emailed me back, telling me where it now was, and said he would probably see me as his best friend, Jim Knapp, had also died this morning of cancer. Shit! Is this where, as old people, we all now meet?

My daughter, Melissa called again (she called earlier but left a voice message, telling me I didn't need to call her back). They are grilling and she wanted to know how long she should let my Radish Salad warm up (I told her room temperature - see Recipes).

It's still raining like hell, here, BTW.

So, when the beans were done soaking, I drained and rinsed them. Then I added in three quarts of water, the ham bone I thawed Friday night and couple of those big, beautiful bay leaves I got from my brother Joe and his wife, Kathy. I brought that to a boil and then let it simmer for about an hour (until the beans were tender).

Next I stirred in two cups of diced yellow onions, one cup of diced celery, one cup of diced carrots, one potato, peeled and diced and two cloves of garlic, smashed and then minced. I let all that simmer for another hour or so.

I took out the ham bone and, while it was cooling off, I used my immersion blender to thicken the soup. Then I cut off the ham from the bone and diced it up. I added that back to the soup. I also added a teaspoon of the Bouquet Garni (a blend of savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, dill weed, marjoram, sage and tarragon) also a gift from Joe and Kathy. I put in a teaspoon of ground black pepper as well, but NO salt (this is for my Mom, remember?)

I let that all get happy while I chopped up a 1/4 cup of fresh, flat leaf parsley. Then I dished up a bowl for my breakfast/lunch/dinner and ate it with the last two slices of the rustic Italian bread. (Okay, so I added a pinch of salt to the bowl, but it was damn good anyway!) That's how I roll, making Senate Bean Soup!

I wish I could tell you how I used the rest of my day productively, but I can't. My right arm was still killing me, so I didn't do much of anything else, except make up the bed. I watched a little TV, but mostly read until I got sleepy and then went to bed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Finally, Friday!

It was 50 degrees F. when I left for work this morning! When I went back home at lunch, I traded in my heavy leather jacket for my light spring jacket. Nice...

Back home at 5:05 PM (banging that drum), it was a balmy 66 degrees and I decided to celebrate by grilling tonight. Actually, Jake gave me the idea yesterday, by saying he planned on grilling this weekend. But, it's supposed to rain hard tomorrow and forecast is for scattered rain on Sunday, so tonight's the night, I'm thinking.

The other day, I finally threw out an unopened loaf of those little two inch by two inch squares of pumpernickel bread you get by the deli in the grocery store. I forget why I even bought it, but it's been a while so I threw them out, intact, under the bird feeder. I had to laugh (out loud, really!) when I looked out the kitchen window Friday night and a squirrel was holding one in his paws and eating it. He looked so; well, "human." He moved on before I could take a photo.

In the mail I got a card from Laura and Dave (my sister Anne's only daughter) announcing the birth of their second child, Anna Christine LaBroski. Congratulations and thanks!!! I put it up on the fridge.

I am not sure just what I did in my sleep last night, but I have been having terrible pains in my right shoulder all day (I already know I have bursitis in that shoulder, BTW). I was fine when I went to sleep, but I woke up hurting. It's been difficult all day, starting in the shower and carrying on through the workday (moving the stupid mouse even hurts!) So, I have been using my left hand to drink coffee, etc., all day. I hope this goes away, soon!

Anyway, I rolled out the grille and the charcoal lighter chimney, turned on the boom box in the garage and lit some paper under the charcoal. Back inside, I opened the hot dogs (Dearborn Natural Casing Franks, if you remember) and let them come up to room temperature. Then I took two pounds of the thawed hamburger from the quarter cow I bought (note: not my usual ground chuck, just plain hamburger) and put it in a bowl. I hit it with the house seasoning on both sides and mixed it together. Then I made six patties, trying to mimic the size of a slice of rye bread.

Why? Because, as much as I like hamburgers in their many variations, I REALLY like Pattie Melts! So, although I don't have any Rye bread or Swiss cheese or caramelized onions yet, I am prepping for some Pattie Melts.

Anyway, I made up the patties. Checking on the charcoal chimney lighter, I found the fire had gone out (I really need to buy a newspaper!) So, I restocked the bottom with more paper (and this time I hit it with some olive oil spray) and relit the damn thing.

I went back inside and filled in this Blog entry and then went back out to check it. Okay, the charcoal was now red hot. I spread it around on its rack, put on the grates, scrubbed the grates and oiled them and then went inside to get my meat.

I did the hamburger patties first, just searing them on both sides. I don't want to overcook them, because I have to warm them up again (in the microwave) and then toast them in the rye bread with the Swiss cheese and caramelized onions. So, seared but undercooked is perfect for now.

Then I did my dogs. When they were done, I shut all the vents on the grill, shut the garage door and came inside for the night. I fine-diced a small yellow onion and then plated two hot dogs with buns, topped with the diced onions and yellow mustard. I added some Better-Made Barbequed potato chips to the plate and went in to watch the Friday night fights on ESPN.

When the fights were over, I went out in the kitchen and put the now-cooled burgers and the rest of the hot dogs onto baggies and into the fridge. Then I put myself to bed.