Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mini-Meme...This Last Year, This Year To Come..

2008 was not the year I expected, but in retrospect- when was a year what you expected? I thought this to be a perfect time for me and all of you that visit, to reflect on our past year, but also discuss what you think the next year will hold for you... I wish I had a crystal ball- but I don't!
Questions for today- 1. The events worth remembering in your life about 2008
2. Your plans or hopes for 2009.
Here we go... 1. I lost a significant portion of my retirement funds, due to the downturn in stocks. My house went down in value, about the same percentage.. I still retired out of the metals business, because after 35+ years in it, I was burned out. I feel it was the right decision, even though it looked pretty stupid at the time.
2. I'd love to tell you this year looks bright for all, but I think the world will be a long time getting back to where it was. Personally, I hope to find a small niche business, either to start or buy, where I can enjoy my work once again..
I've focused on the smaller delights of life lately, and found a lot of stuff I either forgot, or overlooked... If you have food, shelter, clothing, and people who care about you- everything else tends to be something you want, but not necessarily need!
I wish you all a bright 2009- Happy New Year!
P.S. Tonight, my new deep fryer Christmas present will be broken in!(photos later!) Then I have to take a white chocolate cheesecake to a party, and play cards with friends.. Drive safely, everyone!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Little Off Our Feed...

After a couple of big food days back to back, we tend to lose appetite.. Plus my wife and I have both been experiencing flu-like symptoms, which doesn't make food sound all that great! The weather has been conducive to just staying home and veggin' out. The wind was 40+ miles an hour and it rained for about two days.. The result of this was a large portion of snow disappeared, and I ended up with two house guests until Tuesday! My son's power was knocked out- no heat! He and his girlfriend moved in here for a couple of days, until power is restored!
The first photo of food you see was a Saturday night classic; tomato-basil soup, with an open face broiled cheese sandwich... The second photo is my attempt at shrimp spring rolls, with fried pork and shrimp rice... Spring rolls were tasty, but could have been prettier! The rice was good! It's going to be a strange place here for a couple of days....

Friday, December 26, 2008

Random Photos And Happenings At Christmas 2008..

First , my son that was in the accident is fine! Went back to K.C. next day, and spent Christmas with his girlfriends' family. Missed him, but we'll try to organize a trip out there in the spring..
The first photo was taken on the 23rd- ever see a bacon cheeseburger on a hoagie bun? You have now!
Christmas Eve was hectic- our driveway was blocked with snow, wife's car got stuck(about had a heart attack trying to get it out!) I got a hold of a plow service that actually would come out before we had to leave that night! That was our present to ourselves this year... a plow service! I cooked all day, and my son had the day off so he grocery shopped for me!
Christmas Eve was at my sister-in-laws... I forgot to take pictures of the BB-Q ribs(they were killer!) but did manage a photo of a piece of Key lime cheese cake with raspberry-Chambord drizzle...
Phone call comes in at the party- my brother-in-laws niece was in a car accident... in the hospital, but the really bad news was that her step daughter in the car with her was dead. Two of the group headed for the hospital, called and warned everybody the roads had glare ice on them.. Coming home that night, the roads really had iced over.. more fun..
Christmas Day was open presents, then a big meal. We had Herbed loin of pork, steamed broccoli, roast red skin potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, gravy, and a sourdough bread... No one wanted dessert! Sorry, not one photo of the meal- I was busy! I did take pictures of my presents, and a few shots of our oddly decorated Christmas tree..It has all red lights, old hand made ornaments(I made that elf in 3rd grade!)and the "angel on the top we named "The Devils' Mistress"! We didn't intend the tree to look so Satanic- really!
Today is the 26th, and we don't have a darn thing to do, except recover...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas ..Blessings And Bad Luck..

Today, I went out to get a new cell phone in a blizzard.. Roads were gridlocked with shoppers getting ready for Christmas- regardless of the weather. Got a phone(Verizon great!, roads and drivers-bad!).. Got a call from son who lives in town- had a flat tire, he changed it, emergency brake stuck! Talked him through it, in about three phone calls..All OK! Wife comes home from work early, we are both excited about our son coming in from Kansas City, got his old room ready- but worried about the weather... Our worries came reality when he called from Bumfuck,Iowa to let us know he just rolled his Jeep after hitting black ice and was not going to make it home for Christmas. He was safe. He was unharmed. Our holiday plans changed because of this. We had to sort through it, but found that Christmas miracles still happen.. my first born son is alive and well. Priorities can change in a heartbeat, be thankful that your loved ones are safe and sound tonight. Give them a hug and a kiss, like this just happened to you. I now have the Christmas spirit that has been missing, but it scares me when it takes a revelation like this to make me realize what it's all about.
A heartfelt Merry Christmas, to one and all! May all your loved ones be safe and sound.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, Wash Day...

My son and his girlfriend came over for dinner; steaks, Au gratin potatoes(from scratch!), home made bread, mushrooms, and brownies. Got the tree up, and watched the snow fall some more...
Later that night, my wife did a couple of loads of laundry... She usually checks the pockets for money, pens, money, keys, money, etc., but missed one item in my U of M hoodie sweatshirt- my cell phone. For the record, don't put these through the washer, as they don't work after that... I was due for a new phone, but I do like the 100 or so phone numbers stored to be downloaded to the new phone. That ain't gonna happen! I briefly checked the new phones available, and was overwhelmed by the choices... I wonder how much an underwater phone costs?....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Nite Brats... And About a Foot Of Snow...

It snowed all day here... side streets blocked with cars, driveways blocked with snow plow wash. Got out in time to get some eats, beverages, and hole up until the storm passes.. Good, fresh Bratwurst, will be our simple fare tonight- and hopefully TV will have something good... Our neighbors sure helped with the driveway clearance, I must make them a cheesecake to square the score!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Christmas Post Tale, And A Little Food, Too!

When we were first married, my wife and her sister would go Christmas shopping, while my brother-in law and I would go get a live tree.. Indian Joe, who actually was an immigrant Lithuanian, had a so-called tree farm for the season of Christmas.. These trees were where you found them on his land.. He combed his hair with whiskey(really!) and was rumored to have buried cash in Mason jars all over the land he lived on, which was on the shores of Pickerel Lake. He rented row boats in the summer, was about half crazy, and was a True American Character! We got a tree one year, that looked more like a tumbleweed, but it was the best we could find. We had more fun laughing at that tree, than money could ever buy!
Neither my brother and sister-in-law(or us!) had any money yet- they lived in a dinky rented house, we lived in a dinky rented apartment- but I remember those days as some of the best I ever had! Later, after Joe died, the heirs sold the land to Fred Meijer- a billionaire. He made it into a trail/preserve area, with his name on it. And they did find rotted paper money in Mason jars on the property- but not all that much! If you have any local legend stories, it's a good season to share them!
Sunday food was good ole pot roast, roasted potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, with stock gravy... I also made macaroni salad- macaroni, hard cooked eggs, the last of that Goddam ham, green olives, onion, celery, one Jalapeno pepper, mayo, mustard, Italian spices, salt, and black pepper! Boy! did we get after that salad!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Christmas Mini-Meme....

We all thrive/enjoy/suffer the Christmas season... it is virtually unavoidable in our society. Simple today, and be honest...
1. What is one Christmas holiday tradition you consider important to you, and your family?
2. What one is a tradition you wish didn't have to happen?
I will go first, to point the direction of this inquiry..
1. Christmas Eve with my wife's' side of the family...
It started as a large, warped, odd, half the people didn't like,(nor knew the others!) affair, into a smaller, caring group of people- who looked forward to the party! I love my brother-in-law, his wife(my wife's' sister), their children, and their grandchildren... my other brother-in-law is a decent man, who never married, intelligent, often in trouble, but has always cared for the family left.. I bring BB-Q ribs, and a cheesecake, and watch a group of people that don't see each other enough enjoy the evening!
2. My family... Since Mom and Dad are gone, we have had a hard time getting together.. my sister and brother have not been close, and I am running out of energy trying to get them to talk to each other. My parents made me the executor of their will, even though I was the youngest. They did this because I am the peacemaker. It breaks my heart to see them not communicate, as they are both good, caring people. I do not wish them to leave this Earth at odds with each other. I would love to have my family become one again. My kids and us are great, but I do miss that bigger family I have.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maddy Doesn't Believe Me...

These represent some of the spices, herbs, sauces, vinegars, oils, etc. I use when cooking... It does not include the refrigerated stuff, the freezer stuff, or the pantry stuff... If you don't think I need drawers in cabinets that hold 30lbs. of stuff- think again! If I run out of something, IT AIN'T PRETTY!
My son came over yesterday, and repaired my overweight "spice drawers" as we refer to them. I made a lunch for he and his girlfriend, while directing repairs. I remember him saying "Dad, this many spices and stuff is ridiculous" the next breath was "You gotta write down how you make some of the stuff you make"... I will kid, I will...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Venison Chili And Wife Baked Cookies!

Since the venison sticks really didn't come out that great, I felt the need to vindicate myself by making Venison chili! A small batch(6-8 servings) it used cubed, browned venison, cubed cooked pork, white beans, chicken broth, beef broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, diced onions, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, Mexican oregano, chili powders(mild and DoggyB medium hot!)-simmered for a couple of hours, it was a good, hot meal for a cold, snowy day!
The chocolate chip cookies were made by my wife- who told me I damn well better mention them on my blog! You can always tell when my wife has cooked something... measuring spoons down to 1/8 teaspoon used! She is a "follow the recipe to the gram" cook, where I don't measure anything less than 1/2 cup! They came out thin, crisp/chewy- just how I love them! She likes them thicker, so she wasn't as pleased with herself as she hoped to be...
My son is coming over today to help repair my spice/sauce/cooking elixir drawers in my kitchen cabinets. Apparently they weren't designed to hold 30lbs a piece! We are gonna fix them so they will!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Of Home Made Bread, Pork Roast, and Noodles..

I'm getting the hang of bread, so today I added about a cup of whole wheat flour- awful tasty! The wife loves a pork roast, fatty, spiced, and simply roasted- a Boston butt- 4 lbs.... With noodles and a home made pork gravy, it came out to be a good snowy day meal!
Our Christmas party at the lodge was cancelled, so I have a Key lime cheesecake in the freezer waiting for the next event... Gooldammer,Roy...
In the immortal words of Jimmy Buffet song: "The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful" Winter has decended!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Famous Pairs, Fred and Ginger, George and Gracie, Scalloped Potatoes and Ham!

I always loved those cheesy musicals that showcased the dancing talents of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and I always loved watching George and Gracie Burns, with their straight lady/ funny man skits... there is magic in what a good couple can accomplish!
That being said, one of the simplest meals you could prepare, and find difficult to improve on, would be scalloped potatoes and ham! White sauce and fresh potatoes cooked properly, are a spud lovers delight! Ham, with it's salty, distinctive flavour, is a perfect foil to the rich, creamy, starchy potato... I do add spices and herbs to my white sauce, such as parsley, black pepper, salt, onions, and garlic. My wife loves potatoes- me, not near as much.. but this pairing with ham always satisfies, and is really inexpensive! Kind of retro, but I get that way around the Holidays..

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

This Is What A Key Lime Cheesecake Looks Like!

I am not a humble person, nor have I ever pretended to be. I am an honest man, and have made cheesecakes of almost any flavor you might enjoy. I have fought for years, to find the secret of a making a cheesecake that didn't shrink around the edges, or crack somewhere! My toppings have hidden many flaws, much like make-up, booze, and dim light help out a bar bitch...(Apologies to all you nightcrawlers out there who may read this!) I have played with adding sour cream, flour, beating eggs while chanting Tibetan mantras, you name it... Today I nailed it! The photo you see is a Key lime cheesecake as it came out of the oven- not neon green, but the color of real Key limes. I have placed in contests with cheesecake, and toyed with buying a small company that made cheesecakes- so when I stand proud on this one, well I think you know what I'm feeling! This will be drizzled with a Chambord liquor/raspberry sauce I make that contrasts color and highlights flavor... Saturday, the party we go to at our hunt club will get to know this stuff up close and personal! The quote "Casting pearls before swine" comes to mind... Just kiddin', I'm just geeked how it turned out!