Sunday, November 28, 2010

Belated Happy Thanksgiving!

Sorry I'm late, but I hope everyone had an enjoyable Turkey Day.

Ours was in fact a "Turkey" Day, Jake having consented to depart briefly from his vegetarian ways.  He was mostly concerned about all the hormones, antibiotics and what not that are normally injected in birds, so Denise purchased a turkey from Henry's that was ostensibly devoid of artificial additives.  I  brined it for a couple days, then BBQ/smoked it with mesquite wood chips. The picture is not lovely, but trust me, it was delicious and I was happy.  And no, it's not burned, that's smoky goodness.

Leo and Tripawd
In addition to Jake we had my s'ters Kathy and Jackie, brother-in-law Mike, their tripawd Abby and of course Leo.  Crudités, salad and wine from Jackie and Mike, biscuity dinner rolls and pumpkin pie from Kathy and we provided garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, chipotle smashed sweet potatoes, spinach-chorizo stuffed poblanos, cranberries and cranberry relish.  Pictures of the event, mostly doggie mayhem, are available here, if you are interested.  

Denise had purchased a 16-18 pound turkey for the six of us, so there were leftovers galore.  Unfortunately, by Friday Jacob had recovered his vegetarianess and was not interested in turkey sandwiches or open-faced turkey cheese melts or turkey-chipotle quesadillas or turkey enchiladas.  So, for dinner on Friday Jacob fashioned a vegetarian chili with Trader Joe's Organic Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup as the base.   Worked out pretty well, although I can't say precisely what we threw in it.  Olive oil, onions, garlic, green bell peppers, jalapeños, chili powder, cumin, ancho chili powder, chipotle chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper, canned kidney and black beans and about a half a box of the Trader Joe's soup stuff.  For a little more texture we added some bulghur, re-hydrated in a little hot water.  Served with some Late July Organic Classic Saltine Crackers (and miscellaneous leftover sides from Thursday) it was delicious.

This morning Jacob departed for Humboldt  by way of Davis and his brother's house therein.  Sorry to see the boy go, but at least I can start on the turkey leftovers.

This evening we tried something new, stemming from a mistake on my part.  While rummaging through the freezer the other day I mistakenly left a box of puff pastry out on the counter.  Fortunately, our garage is colder than a witch's tit. (Shall I take a short aside to explain the derivation of that expression?  Goes back to the Salem Witch Trials.  But more on that later.)  Anyway, the pastry was still OK due to the frigid nature of the garage, but I figured I should use it sooner rather than later.

Normally post-Thanksgiving we would have open-faced turkey melt sandwiches.  Instead I went with some puff pastry pockets.  Denise made some somewhat traditional dressing, so I made a pocket with turkey, gravy and dressing.  Another with turkey and shredded cheddar, and a third with turkey, chipotle smashed sweet potatoes and cranberries.  I will have to do this again.  They turned out very good.  Denise seemed to like the turkey/dressing/gravy ones best, but I preferred the turkey/cheddar.

For the sake of keeping everyone up do date, I should post a little about the previous couple weekends.  When last we spoke, we were en route to Davis, CA and the Waterski Banquet held therein.  We had a very nice weekend with Nicholas and spent a fun time with him, Tee and the rest of the team.  

We arrived relatively early that Friday evening and so went to Nick's house to hang out for a while.  It is looking quite nice, festively decorated with assorted dead animals, most there intentionally.

N & T at the Beets
Saturday morning we went to the Davis Farmer's Market with Nick and Tee.  This is one, of many, places where Davis kicks Temecula's butt.  Their farmer's market is great.

We spent a small fortune stocking Nick and Tee up with groceries, mostly for vicarious thrill.  I wanted to buy everything, but had no way to get it home, so I figured the kids might as well have the stuff.  Our purchases included about a half pound of Chantarelles, which Nick and Tee turned into a mushroom risotto on Sunday night.

One of the big hits were these popsicles from a shop whose name escapes me.  Nick has a Yellow Watermelon/Pineapple, Tee's is Plum/Basil/Green Tea and mine is Thai Tea & Sweet Potato.  I have seriously got to try to knock off that Sweet Potatosicle.  It was only fabulous.

We finished Saturday at the lake with the waterski team and that evening at Sudwerks for the team banquet.  A good time was had by all.  By the end of the evening most of the parents had the good sense to make tracks, but not Denise and I.  We headed back to Nick's for the post-banquet party.  Actually, we just had to drive some of the kids home, but we invited ourselves in and stayed a bit, watching Nick and one of his friends jamming on the guitar and trumpet, before heading back to the hotel.

Sunday morning had a late breakfast with a contingent from the ski team at The DOV.  I had an omelette; blue cheese, artichoke hearts and tomatoes.  Delicious.

Later in the day we drove out to Auburn for dinner with our friends Kendall and Eric, who recently lost their younger son Justin, a high school junior, in a tragic accident.  Over the years we have not seen much of each other and it was certainly sad to be brought back together under these circumstances, but it was good to be there with them.

Monday we got up relatively early and hit the road for home, making fairly good time and back to our Leo by the evening.

The following weekend was mostly about trying to catch up on projects, completing much of the remaining plumbing project that's had me occupied for months.  We actually have plumbing in the laundry and half-bath again now.

That Friday we relaxed with a movie.  Denise may have permanently lost her Netflix privileges on the basis of last night's selection; The Killer Inside Me.   Freaking horrible.  Starring Casey Affleck.  Need I say more?  Yes, probably, but I'll let it drop.

I consoled myself on Saturday with a Bombay Sapphire dirty martini while watching the Trojans vs. the Beavers, an unfortunate pairing of mascots, if you happen to be around someone with a juvenile mindset.  Poor Denise.

Jacob arrived home on Saturday and there was much rejoicing.  Had a follow up with the dentists at Loma Linda on Monday and now has a schedule to receive his post implant over the Christmas break and the new tooth to follow later.

Well, that is about all the news that is fit to print.  Many projects to do and many turkey enchiladas to be prepared for dinner.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Miss My Dog!

I am irritated.  I am currently on the I-210.  Denise is at the helm.  It's 3:20 in the PM.  We should have been here hours ago.  Oh well, what else should I expect.

I had intended to take a vacation day today, but it turned out to be the only really good day to do some work that desperately needed to be done in our El Cajon plant.  I got down there extra early this morning in the hope of being out of El Cajon by 10:00, home by 11:00 and OTR by Noon. 

No such luck.  Things went surprisingly well in El Cajon, given the frequently contrary nature of technology, but I still didn't manage to get out of the plant until around 11:40 or so.  Undeterred, I left a message for Denise asking her to pack my clothes, figuring I could still get on the road by 1:00 and proceeded to set a new land speed record, in the driveway by 12:30.

I needn't have bothered.  At home, Denise was still in the shower. Didn't manage to get on the road until 1:45 or thereabouts.

We have been on the road about an hour and 45 minutes, 30 of which were spent getting gas at Costco and stopping at Denise's office so she could drop off some paperwork.  So now, an hour and forty-five into our trip, I miss my Leo terribly.  Also, an hour and forty-five in, Denise has to stop and pee.

To make matters worse, my Jack Daniels on the rocks ran out a while ago.  Don't get upset, it was in my travel mug and I had the top on it, so it was NOT an open container.

While riding, I've been working on my laptop, taking care of email, etc.  To kill time I have my iPod hooked up to the car stereo playing some NPR Tiny Desk Concerts that I mentioned in an earlier post.  One group podcast I particularly like is by Stile Antico.  Very cool.  You should really, REALLY check out that podcast.

Anyway, as they were singing I said, "I really like this group.  They sing these songs from like the 16th or 17th century." (Or something like that, what do I know about music.)

Denise: ”Are these modern singers, singing 16th century songs or….”

Me: "Actual recordings of 16th century singers?”

Denise: “I guess that was going to be a stupid question.”

I'm in a much better mood now!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taking Sides

I think I've come upon one of the great challenges of vegetarianism; it seems like I'm only eating side dishes, never a main course.

And as I think about it I realize that I really like side dishes.  Scalloped Potatoes. Spaghetti with Sand.  Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Roasted Red Potatoes with Olive Oil, Garlic and Rosemary.  Spanish Rice.  Refried Beans.  All delicious, but there's something missing when you sit down to a nice meal of scalloped potatoes; the medium rare pepper crusted filet mignon, Sautéed Chicken Thighs with Fried Sage Leaves.  Mountain Oysters.

Oh, well, I'll just have to get over it.  Or at least work on my flexibility.

On the subject of Rocky Mountain Oysters, let's turn to my elbow.

I believe that in my previous blog post I mentioned a trip to Urgent Care for a prescription for an infected elbow.  At the time it was completely swollen, red and painful.  Four days into a course of Keflex it is looking much better.  The swelling and redness are mostly gone, but what remains is a fairly taut little ball the feels like nothing quite so much as, well, a testicle.  OK, some of you may not have experienced the feeling of a testicle.  You'll have to trust me on this.  The texture's about right and if you bop it on something the pain is pretty close...maybe not.

And as long as we're talking testicles, let's talk about the iPad.  Actually, there's no correlation between the iPad and testicles, except that maybe it takes a lot of them to market a product that is nothing more than a big iPhone without the phone.

The reason I bring up iPads is that I am evaluating one for work.  Playing with it to see if there is any actual business justification for purchasing these things.  I had pretty much decided that they were, A) pretty cool. and B) pretty pointless.  They can't replace a PC or laptop, in fact you need a computer running iTunes to activate the thing.  So why would you buy a laptop and then shell out another $500 for an iPad.

I had pretty much decided the iPad was totally pointless until in the course of downloading apps I stumbled across Epicurious for the iPad.  What the heck, it was free.  Of course I downloaded it.  I popped it open, clicked the "Veggie Holiday" (cursed double-gee again, damn you) and there it was, the killer iPad app.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges with Smoked Chile Cream.  Potato Gratin with Mushroom and Gruyère.  Sage, Onion and Wild-Rice Risotto Cakes.

Oh boy, something new.  Bring on the sides.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another Sunday

Today, Denise and I are watching the Chargers.  Perhaps later we'll watch some professional football.

There's a brew kettle, full of an experimental ale, boiling away in the kitchen.  I finished a Stone Double Bastard Ale a short time ago and now I'm having some vegies (veggies?) with Black Bean Hummus.  All is right with the world.  Well, all except the Chargers and my visit to Urgent Care this morning.

The visit to urgent care was no big deal, nothing traumatic, nothing AT ALL like watching the Chargers.  Somehow my left elbow has become infected, most likely due to some injury incurred while crawling about the attic re-plumbing the house.  Given all the rodent activity we've seen in the past I've probably contracted hantavirus.  Anyway, with my history of infectious diseases I decided I should probably go get some antibiotics.  The trip was relatively painless, in and out with a prescription in less than an hour, and I had my iPod and book with me to make the time pass.  (At this point I should post a little endorsement for the Tiny Desk Concerts podcast from NPR.  They have these little 10 minute concerts with different artists, shot in some guy's office at NPR.  Pretty cool!  Check them out.)

I am pretty beat today.  My elbow had been bugging me for a while, but when it started getting bad on Friday I applied an ice pack topically and Cabitro Tequila Reposado orally.  I may have over-medicated.  I can't decide if my headache is lessening the pain in my elbow or not.

In any event, we were up early on Saturday to head to Fiesta Island in San Diego, planning to see Nicholas slalom skiing.  Turns out, Nicholas kicked a traffic cone Friday night and injured his foot, so he no ski on Saturday.  So, we might have slept in, but headed south anyway with Leo in tow.

It was a nice day, seeing Nicholas and Tee and living vicariously through the hoards of college kids having a way better time than I ever did during my education.  As an added bonus, we had the opportunity to meet Tee's parents, Nancy and Stuart (Stewart?  Not sure and didn't think to ask, apologies if I guessed wrong.)  Tee's parents were very nice, but I did have some misgivings about meeting them; they seem to like Nicholas, so I didn't want to make a bad impression, the only impression I really do well.

Leo spent most of the day terrified, as usual, certain of some fiendish collegiate scheme to kill and eat English Mastiffs.  Fortunately, the dog beach is directly adjacent to the skiing area, so we took a couple of trips for him to romp with his fellow canines.

Leaving the beach, we made a quick stop at my sister Jackie's, to visit her patient.  Abby seemed pretty happy to have visitors and was hopping around pretty well on her three legs.  Sadly, Leo had to wait in the car, so as not to get Abby too hyper, so we didn't stay too long. Shouldn't be too long before the dogs can be romping in the backyard again.

Well, enough for one day.  The Chargers have actually turned it around and may even pull this one out.  They're up by 6 and have the ball with less than 2 minutes.  I hope I'm not jinxing them, but then the game is already over, I'm watching on DVD, so I don't think I can be held accountable if they blow it now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

OK, This One is Just Weird!

So I've been thinking recently about our English language and how weird it is.  What got me started on this was an email from my sister Jackie, who shall remain nameless.  She mentioned in her email placing a "loan" chocolate chip on her peanut butter cookies.  On seeing that, the first thought crossing my tiny little brain was, "What, did she have to borrow the chocolate chips?"  Then thankfully, "Oh, she meant 'lone.'"  It's one of those stupid homophone thingies (I was gonna say homonym, but Wikipedia corrected me) that spell checkers don't catch and even trip up the occasional librarian.

Consider the word quarter.  Imagine you're (Your? Yore?) new to the English language.
"What are these?
"Quartered artichoke hearts."
"Why are they called quartered?"
"Because they are cut into four pieces, quarters."
"Oh, by the way, where will I be staying?"
"You'll be quartered in the enlisted men's barracks."
"Well, I shan't be going there!" (Their?)
So, I was on board this train of thought, thinking about hosting an extravaganza, which got me thinking, "What precisely is a vaganza, and why would having a spare one be a good thing?"

A typographical error on Google later and I was at  Not realizing my typo, I drilled in.  Lo (Low?) and behold, there were pictures of people at the Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear.  I've been following the RTRS/F!   It's too incredible to think that this is a coincidence.  It has to be either Intelligent Design or the work of The Flying Spaghetti Monster and His Noodly Appendages.

Navigating various links on the site I arrived at Amazon and "The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster."  This looks good.  The explanation of how gravity works and why people are getting taller is pretty damn amusing.  Personally, I am spagh-nostic, but these pastafarians may be on to something.

But enough about FSM.

Oh, in case anyone is wondering about extravaganza, according to Wikipedia..."The term is derived from the Italian word stravaganza, meaning extravagance."

One last thought.  KVCR was running a story today about the approaching anniversary of the establishment of women's suffrage in California.  It occurred to me, this election day, that the term suffrage makes perfect sense; clearly it derives from "suffering," as in "I have suffraged through a deluge of political advertising."  Fortunately, our suffraging is at an end.  Tomorrow will dawn a new day, the election having passed.