Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Said I Would, And I Will.....

I've been "tagged" by odat. I must devise 5-10 courses I would (or should!) take to fix my life. Enjoy my shortcomings, and my theoretical courses I would take to improve....

1. Listening Skills 101: In the first grade we started getting report cards of a sort, listing 1, excellent(better than avg.) 2, satisfactory (avg.)and the dreaded 3, needs to improve(work on it, kid! Or else..) I was a bright kid, with mostly 1s', except in the catagory "Listens well while others are speaking"- my only 3. This was to repeat every year in some form through my formal education and into college. In my sales career I'm supposed to listen 80%, talk 20%. I now have all the appearances of a good listener! Wrong. I'm waiting for you to shut up, so I can talk again...

2. Advance Table Manners: I know which knife,fork,or spoon to use and can eat with them held in either hand. I know all the protocols and rituals of this countrys' dining experience. I don't spill, I use a napkin, etc. The problem you ask? Talking- again! I can blab so much during a meal, I always finish last. And people who talk with food in their mouth? I'm working on that...

3. Calming The Aggressive Driver: I'm a good driver! At this writing, I haven't had a point on my record in 20yrs. I just don't get passed alot in the course of a day, if you know what I mean...

4. Working With Electricity In The Home: Science, Physics, and all their disciplines are how I usually run my life. Except for Electricity, which is clearly the Devils' Creation sent to kill me for talking too much. I swear cannot change a light bulb without getting zapped! When I replace a door bell, I shut the power off for the whole neighborhood before I start. I'd tell the story of my Christmas outdoor lights electrocution, but that will be a post all on its' own in December....

5. How To Become A Team Player: I have sat through many a seminar demonstrating the benefits of working as a team. Most of the excercises result in the few doing the work of the sheep included in every group! I have learned how to get along with the other kids in the sandbox- I go play on the swings....

I'm not tagging anybody, but if there are any volunteers- go for it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pizza Sunday? You Bet!

We did a pretty good job getting rid of turkey leftovers! I gave quite a bit to my guests to take home, and later Thursday night I simmered the carcass in water infused with appropriate herbs & spices for a few hours, to create a broth for Fridays' turkey noodle soup lunch! Good stuff- a lighter food day than Gorge Thursday... Early Saturday morning on a whim, we decided to head out the new casino Four Winds, in New Buffalo, MI. It's a little under 2 hrs to drive there, and it really was pretty neat. It has to be the largest casino in Michigan and I would say also the nicest! We gambled for about 4 hrs. and actually left with a little more money than we came with! The place was filling up fast when we departed about 3PM. This place is located about 2 hrs from Chicago and from the look of all the people wearing Bears jackets, alot of them must drive up. We grabbed a burger and fries at a Culvers' in Stevensville- really good burgers for a sorta fast food chain restaurant. Any of you people out there ever been in one? Anyway, this trip postponed our gotta-have-it Pizza day until Sunday. I tried my new, big mixer to make the dough (the now defunct bread machine made better dough!) and it worked okay for that. I grated my Parmesean, Romano, and Mozzarella in my new food processor, and I think I need more practice! It's done, it worked, and I may or may not try that again! Dialing in the sauces' flavor was a pain today too... As the picture shows,it all worked well, but you never hear Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay, or all the other experts tell you about the screw-ups getting there like I will.....

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Days, Past and Present....

Twenty years ago in November, a series of events took place in my life that had me visit the local med center 3 times that month! It started about the first of the month with what I thought was the flu. They checked me, gave me an antibiotic, and sent me on my way. About a week later, still not feeling too spiff, I went back- this time a real doctor was there who checked my blood and found something wasn't quite right. He sent me down to a medical center located across from a big hospital for further testing. That doctor told me my appendix was going bad, and to go directly to Emergency at the hospital and check in. He would call them and tell them I was on my way. I drove myself over, walked in and sat there for 45 minutes before they put 2 +2 together! By now, I felt really,really crappy! They grabbed me, threw me on a gurney, and hauled me to a room where I was to await surgery. By midnight, I no longer had an appendix. A few days in the hospital, then home for a recup! Fast forward a couple of weeks, and it's Thanksgiving, with the whole famn damly coming to my house for one of my patented feasts. While stuffing the turkey I cut some loose skin off the bird with a super sharp knife (I'm obsessed with having all my knives stupid sharp at all times!). The knife went through the skin and into me easily. But Good. Showed my wife, drove myself down to the Med center and walked in just as they were opening. "You're our first customer- what's wrong?". I showed them my blood soaked wrapped hand and was ushered into the inner room STAT. Doc walks in and says "Weren't you just here a couple of weeks ago? Yep. "Most people wait to cut themselves until they're carving the cooked bird" "I wanted to beat the rush" I answered. Stitched me up while I read Sports Illustrated and I was home in time to baste the bird.
This year it's only 5 people, with traditional food all the way. Roast turkey, sage sausage stuffing, home made cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, rolls, salad, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Pictures will be posted after all this stuff is set out! Can the Lions beat the Green Bay Packers today? Nah, too early for Christmas miracles....
P.S. The bird was moist, and flavorful, stuffing all gone, potatoes the same, gravy really nice, cranberry sauce a hit (I don't like fruit on meat personally!), and the pie was flavored just right. My sis brought a salad with dressing that was excellent! Her home made rolls were great, too. The Lions lost, making the traditional holiday complete!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Caramel Apple Crisp Kind Of Day.....

Sunday, at noon is our once-a-week big meal day. It is usually a meal consisting of either something we like that we haven't had in awhile, or some creation of mine we're trying out. Today was a little of both! My wife and adult son (he lives close by and gets Sunday dinner from us!) both love potatoes. Todays' side was an Idaho russett baked to perfection, simply topped with butter, salt, and pepper. I made a meat loaf- which was todays' experiment! Friday night, I thawed a large pack of meat market brats, not the pre-cooked kind- the raw seasoned ground pork kind. We simmered a few in beer for a quick Friday nite supper, and found them quite bland. Saturday, I decased the rest of them, and reseasoned the now bulk sausage with onion powder, crushed garlic, coarse black pepper, and seasoned salt. The plan was to let the spices to cold blend, and use the sausage in a stuffed pork loin roast for Sunday dinner. I dug out the pork loin I had in the freezer, and found it too big, and too flat for that purpose. Now what? How about a brat flavored sausage/ground sirloin meatloaf? This morning, I thoroughly mixed the meats with more spices, worchester sauce, bread crumbs, 2 eggs, Polish mustard, and a little V-8 juice- then pressed into a bread loaf pan. Baked at 350F right along side the 'taters for 1-3/4 hrs. (I make a meatloaf at about 3-1/2lbs.!), all came out perfect. A little heat and serve Italian loaf for bread, and dinner is served! Oh, the picture? That was dessert! One of my personal favorites- Apple Crisp. I use oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, butter, and ground cinnamon in the crust/topping. Granny Smith is my apple of choice, with a white sugar, corn starch, water, and vanilla sauce poured over the slices before the topping. Just before oven time- I drizzle topping with a caramel sauce, then bake at 350F for 40 min. Vanilla ice cream along side is always offered! Dessert will wait 'til 5 pm- we're all too full from the other stuff...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Quick Meal That Works.....

Wednesday while I was out and about making sales calls, I stopped into a Hispanic store to cruise for supplies. They carry authentic food stuffs from Mexico, with a good selection of items not found at the local grocery store. It is in a decidedly rough neighborhood (missing person from bar two stores down found that day-dead about a mile away by some railroad tracks!) but in mid day, it's pretty safe. I picked up some red jalepeno salsa (La Victoria) which is hot, tasty stuff! I also got a product I had never bought anywhere- a package of homestyle tostadas from Mexico! They were about 20 in a pack, and twice as thick as any I have seen from Ortega or Old El Paso brands. That night, I took fried, seasoned ground sirloin, chopped lettuce, diced fresh tomatos, finely shredded co-jack cheese, micro'd them 'til warm with cheese melted- and we had "wet" tostadas! Then topped with that salsa and we were eating in nothing flat! In an earier post, I covered the local food sensation, the "wet" burrito which we all determined was a dry burrito with melted cheese all over it. Same thing goes here- without melting the cheese over the tostada, it would have been something you've all seen before(I hope!). Melting the cheese helps keep it all together for less fallout of toppings or messy eating! I'm thinkin' about doing a beef brisket this week-end- we'll see.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Week-end Food Projects...

About Thursday, I decided I'd better make up a batch of beef jerky for the guys around here who all yakking about deer hunting. I'm not going this year (low on vacation time!)but people (mainly men!) really like home made jerky. Eye of round beef is lean and not much good for anything but jerky (in my opinion!) and cuts up well into strips of uniform thickness well. I marinate it in a salt, brown sugar, black pepper, liquid smoke, Worschester sauce, garlic, onion, red pepper, celery seed, and water mixture (Say all that in one breath once!). It's in the brine for overnight, refrigerated. I have an American Harvest brand dehydrator- buy no other! This 4 tier, fan powered dehydrator has worked well for me about 10 yrs, and it still probably only costs $60 bucks or so. I drained the meat well, sprinkling it with extra onion and garlic powder while still damp, and placed it on the trays as shown. 6 hrs later, perfectly dried beef jerky. Commercial stuff in stores sells for $15+ a pound. I made 2-1/2lbs for about 16 bucks ($6lb.). Rave reviews at work Monday! Also made this week end was a mushroom chicken spaghetti we're fond of. Sauce is the key (yours too, I bet!) with tomato sauce,olive oil, basil, oregano, fennel seeds, garlic, onion, red wine, pepper, brown sugar and parmesean- all simmered 2hrs before addition of cubed chix breast and sauteed mushrooms. Bread was Italian heated in oven, and dessert was a caramel brownie.
Enjoy your week!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Birthday Gift To Our Son From History.....

As previously mentioned, my eldest son had his 30th birthday Nov. 9th. He lives in Kansas City, MO- about 700 miles away from where we live! We are sometimes at a loss as to what to get him for a birthday gift, mainly because we don't see or hear from him like we would if he lived here! Out in K.C. they have the only specifically designated WWI Memorial in the U.S.A. It was made sometime in the 1920s, and by the style of the design- it shows. We visited it the first time went went out there, and were impressed by it's somber, respectful atmosphere of remembrance. It's stark design, angular and massive, makes the Memorial a photographers' black & white, shades & shadow dream location. My son has gotten into photography as a hobby. He approaches about everything he does in a thorough manner, with cameras and knowledge of taking pictures no different! It seems to have bonded him to this site somehow, and my wife came up with a unique, meaningful present for him. Her Grandfather was in WWI and saw action as he was exposed to mustard gas. The gas could create Hell on Earth, and was outlawed in warfare after WWI. My wife had recieved an inexpensive, commemorative hankie (depicted in the photo)from her mom- a momento brought back from France in 1919, by her grandfather. She decided to get it professionally matted and framed, and give it to my son for his birthday. It's on its' way to him (late- it wasn't done on time!) as I write this. We sent him the photo (shown here) on his birthday via E-mail so he wouldn't think we stiffed him out of a gift! Does that all make sense to you people? Good!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Take-out Pizza, The Great American Phone Call!

As all you veteran readers of my blog know, Friday night is Pizza Nite at the Buffalo household. Well, today was Thursday and my wife and I had a mutual, simultaneous, not-to-be-denied urge for a pizza NOW! As laziness, poor planning, and a large dose of apathy all hit us at once, we made The Call. We are blessed with a multitude of good pizza places within 2 miles of our home that will deliver a pizza quickly to our doorstep! The one that gets The Call 90% of the time is Florentines. Over the years, they have gotten to know us (and our various Airedales!)and if the new kid on the phone says the wait is 40 minutes, the guy at the oven sees our name and it's here in 20! After jumping in and out of my car in 35F weather making sales calls all day (with a sore foot!), somebody bringing me supper sounded like a great plan. I have never gotten a bad pizza from these guys (is there such a thing as bad pizza?) and this one hit the spot. The size pizza we order is like my kids are still at home, so leftovers are a given!
OK, here's your assignment: What's the name of the best pizza place that you go to regularly? Give location if you want. And: What size do you order, and what toppings?

P.S. Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of me becoming a father for the first time! It's all about me, isn't it? Happy Birthday to my son, Rich!!!!!

Monday, November 05, 2007

How I Invented Mac-n-Cheeseburger Soup....

In a couple of weeks or so, there is supposedly going to be a soup contest at a bar owned by a friend of mine. He has had chili contests the last two years, and picking a winner has caused more trouble than it's worth! There's about 7 of us that make up two of the best chili teams in the region, and we would enter at least 3 or 4 of the chilis in the contest. Picking the winning chili almost always led to hard feelings among good friends, so a soup contest was proposed! Soups can be so different from each other, a winner would be easier(and safer!) to pick. Now, what soup should I make? It has to be something never seen before, tasty to a less than sophisicated(working mans' bar in a not-so-hot neighborhood!)palate. What would everybody eat there normally? A cheeseburger! Now how to turn it into a tasty soup?
Typical Cheesburger ingredients:
1. Ground beef (yup!)
2. Cheese- a sauce? (YO!)
3. Catsup (How about tomato paste-yeah!)
4. Onions (You bet!)
5. Bacon (I would!)
6. Tomato (Diced canned ones would work!)
7. Pickle (Not in soup, ever!)
8. Lettuce (No!)
9. Mayo (Hell, no!)
Typical Soup ingredients:
1. Broth (Beef, for sure!)
2. Filler- Potato or pasta (Macaroni!)
1. Shredded aged sharp cheddar (I'm gonna!)
2. Croutons (Absolutely!)
Armed with what I reasoned would be harmonious ingredients, I went about creating the soup. No recipe to go by, some things were do-overs! Bacon fried, put aside to be cut into bite sized pcs. Onions sauteed in bacon grease- came out limp, greasy and tasteless. Used fresh cut onion thrown into the broth. Fried ground beef that were shaped into mini burgers(smaller next time!)Everthing but the cheese sauce, macaroni, and toppings went into a crock pot on high for 3 hrs. Added the cheese sauce, cooked and added the macaroni- then allowed to heat back up to simmer. Topped with cheese and croutons, and this stuff was plain food eating at its' best! Very filling, as you can imagine!
Anyone out there have a better name than Mac-n-Cheesburger Soup? And "Liquid Heart Attack" is already taken....

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mikes' Meme- 8 Things About Me & My Thoughts..

1. I have an inquiring mind. New information, skills, people, or places all hold my interest better than the comfort of what I already know.
2. I believe in sharing knowledge. I have never kept information of any nature away from others who might benefit from it. I have been involved in technical products (tooling materials) sales for over 30 yrs. My reputation for helping people decide and find a given product- whether I sell it or not, has helped many solve problems they were having. Long term, it hasn't hurt my sales numbers either!
3. My word is my bond. If I commit to it, it will happen.
4. I enjoy cheesy, mindless science-fiction movies. I like good ones even better!
5. My profile states I'm left-handed. I am the most left-handed person you are ever likely to meet! Throw, bat, golf, bowling, shooting, eating, writing, anything you do, I do left handed. This carries on to my feet also! I kick left footed, and in high school, I lettered in the high jump- jumping from opposite side (the only person in our entire league to do this!).
6. Genetically bad eyes. I needed glasses by about 4th grade, but wouldn't wear them all the time until my senior year (vain!). I had cataract surgery in my 40s(young!) and now have permanent interocular corrective lenses in both eyes. It's really cool as I really don't have to wear glasses!
7. I prefer verbal communication to writing. My cell phone package is 3000 minutes a month, unlimited on week-ends! However, I am glad I started blogging as my rusty writing skills are being polished up! Like a number of bloggers I have the pleasure to read, maybe I'll do some fiction writing and possibly get published.....
8. I like to cook better than I like to eat! A bologna 'n cheese sammich is as enjoyable to me as anything fancy! I enjoy the compliments and the sharing of cooking knowledge more than the eating itself!
There you have it, kids- you can wake up now.....Everybody have a good week-end!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It Was Halloween And We Saw The Least Scariest Thing There Is!

A rainbow! On Halloween! In Michigan! Not just a rainbow, it was a perfectly shaped, multi-colored, Hollywood movie rainbow.
After getting home from work and having a bite to eat, we normally turn on the porch light, and light the pumpkin to let all know we are open for the business of Candy Donation. In Michigan, we're talking about 6:20PM or thereabouts- it's dark, but not night time dark, and the little kids usually go earlier than the teenagers. We had a couple of hits for candy, when my wife calls to me and says "You've got to see this!" "What is it?" I asked. "A rainbow", she stated rather matter-of-factly. I checked to see if I had heard her right, then came running with the camera! At 6:36PM , Oct. 31, 2007, Grand Rapids had a perfect arc rainbow- and in 50+ yrs of living here, I had never seen one that magnificent! It was the talk of the night, with many commenting on it even the next day. Rainbows aren't that common around here, especially this late in the year. Obiviously it had rained a little, shrinking the number of kids we got at the door for candy. Still, we had about 65, mostly older kids. A few of the "tykes" were wearing low cut costumes and had cleavage, for cryin' out loud! New rule next year: If you're driving yourself house to house for candy treats- you're too old!