Thursday, April 30, 2009

They Heard We Were Coming - So They Fled!

Back Story: We have long loved Edgardo's Cafe Vera Cruz in both of his locations in Palm Springs. The first was on the corner of Palm Canyon and Arenas Road; the second was much bigger and even more splendidly decorated. The food was excellent starting with three different bottles of home-made sauces on a lazy susan on every table.

And then -- Edgardo vamoosed - "to Indio" we were told.

Monday, in the car heading to Palm Springs:
Richie: "You know, we could go see the Salton Sea this afternoon ..."
Me: "We can't check in until 3 p.m. anyhow ..(thinking) And we can stop in Indio and try to find Edgardo! And, if we can't find him, remember that place we liked?" (This was Martinez Cafe, part of a historical building, complete with a mural on the exterior walls celebrating Route 99 and a gas station.)

On we pressed to Indio where a new shock awaited us. Martinez Cafe looked just the same except for a great big "For Lease" sign across the front. Richie saw the mailman going into the gas station and jumped out to ask him about Edgardo's (mailmen are a great source for directions and always happy to be helpful.) He was gone quite awhile.

When he returned, he said, "The postman didn't know; the girl in the gas station had never heard of it and there's no Edgardo's in the phone book. We'll just have to find something else..."

Which was: Mexico Tipico Restaurant, 82-485 Indio Blv, Indio 760-347-5710. It's a spacious place with its own parking lot, a big, and covered patio. We were ushered to a vast booth and the salsa and chips appeared magically.

The menu was expansive -- six seafood cocktails, eight seafood appetizers - which always amuses me in the desert - and a variety of classical dishes (including tongue.) After considerable study we went for a beef taco and cheese enchilada (me) and a chile relleno and a cheese enchilada (Richie.) It was all good and about $12.

But it wasn't Edgardo's. Someday we'll find you .. and your Grandmother's pork huatelco tamales! Swine flu can't last forever and I've always wanted to see Vera Cruz.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sinatra Souvenirs!

Own your own little piece of Ol' Blue Eyes!

On the way into Rock Garden Cafe, Palm Springs, for breakfast I like to grab one of the little 4-color House For Sale magazines and thumb through it daydreaming. I look for "most expensive" and "least expensive" and have a wonderful time. This morning it was deja vu all over again.

Frank Sinatra's hideaway was built by him in 1968 and named "Villa Maggio" for his Oscar-winning role in "From Here to Eternity." It's a 15 minute drive away from El Paseo, Rancho Mirage. It's back on the market. I first read about it 3? 5? years ago? and the then-price was $2.5 million which frankly I thought was a steal.

You get: a private, gated retreat built to entertain the Rat Pack and others. The compound sleeps 16 to 22 people with parking for 24 cars. The helipad is included.

There are three houses -- the main house with three bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths, gourmet kitchen, media threater, formal dining room, five stone fireplaces with a pool, spa and tennis courts and barbecue pit.

The attached guest house has two bedrooms, livingroom with a fireplace and a full kitchen.

The detached guest house has three separate suites, each with a mini-kitchen, multiple baths and stone fireplaces.

The pool house has a great room, a mini-kitchen, two saunas, a stone fireplace and satellite dishes.

It's been on the market since April, 2008, and the price is now $4.8 million. The realtor is one Kathleen O'Brien at 760-423-9652 or


The house Sinatra built for his mother, Dolly, is available for rent ($11,777 per month.) The house is described as a 6,900 sq. ft. place with four bedrooms, six bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen with a triple stainless-steel refrigerator. The backyard has a pool, a spa and a party island with a cook top overlooking a golf course (which one not specified.) Same realtor as above.

To read all about his houses, visit and browse your way along.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Three Day Trade-Off

For the past three days, Richie has spoiled me, indulged my every whim ... so on this jaunt to Palm Springs it's his turn. He gets to choose the restos, where we go and what we see.

Huell Hawser, of PBS' "California's Gold" recently did a couple of segments on the Salton Sea, which pricked Richie's interest. Tomorrow we'll go see it since it's only 43 miles away. And we'll kill another bird on the trip -- we used to love Edgardo's Cafe Vera Cruz and visited his first and then second location in PS. Then he foiled us and moved to Indio, 19 miles away. Being far too lazy to get in the car and drive to the freeway and then down it ...

Since Indio is on the way ... mission accomplished.

In other news, our catsitter/house minder Officer Woofs has had another downturn in his personal life. He was going great guns (ha ha) with a female fellow officer until she fell in love with a bad boy dope dealer. Woofs is in a major sulk so a prudent person wouldn't even venture into our neighborhood never mind ringing the bell to offer commiseration.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Birthday Serenade

Bob (Brodsky) favored the assemblage last night with a ditty from his excellent book, "Songs My Mother Never Sang To Me." (available at Sung to the tune of the Man on the Flying Trapeze, it goes like this:

Suzanne Was a Lady

Suzanne was a lady, with plenbty of class
Who knocked them all dead, when she wiggled her ...

EYEs at the fellows as girls sometimes do
To make it quite plain that she wanted to ...

TAKE in a movie or go for a sail
And then hurry home for a good piece of ...

CAKE and ice cream or a slice of roast duck
For after each meal she was ready to ...

GO for a ride or a stroll on the dock
With any young man with a sizeable ...

ROLL of greenbacks and plenty of front
And if he talked fast she would show him ...

HER lily white hand with a movement so quick
Then she'd reach down to ticke his

LITTLE white dog who was subject to fits
And maybe she'd let him take hold of her ...

HAND while she sang of the Mandaly shore
For whatever she was, Suzanne was no bore.

Let me tell you, it brought down the house. Bob's book also comes with a CD of him performing some of the numbers covered in the book (at no extra charge.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Amazing Anti-Aging Discovery!!!

It's simple and inexpensive, too! You've already got the tools right in your house! What is this miracle?


I noticed yesterday that mine had become rather murky and this morning I washed them and the flip-up shades I wear over them. Amazing! Sunlight poured in! The darkness lifted! The horizon was much more sharply etched. Trees developed branches! I recommend this procedure highly.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Greedy Bitch Tour '09

For 51 weeks of the year, I like to think that I am well under the radar. But during that one week of the year it's All Me, All of the Time. That week is my birthday in late April.

Since I had nothing to do with the fact that I'm here (and both parents are dead so you can't go after them) I love to celebrate my birthday big time! I'm responsible for all the other things I do in life those 51 weeks, but not my birthday, dammit!

The world is clearly divided into two sorts regarding birthdays. There are the ones who say, "Pshaw! It's just another day!" (Richie is their president.) The other side believes that: if the birthday didn't last a full week, didn't involve stuffing your face and over-serving yourself and at least one neighbor calling the police, then it wasn't any kind of birthday at all. (I'm with them.)

Thus the Greedy Bitch Tour '09. Rollout for it began this morning with breakfast at Polly's on the Pier. Dinner out tonight. Friends over for a Mexican buffet tomorrow night. Sunday champagne brunch at Ports O Call. To Palm Springs on Monday where the festivities (eating every meal out!) will continue until we come home on Wednesday.

Given my fervent reluctance to be the one on stage, the hardest part for me is the attention. It's taken me years of self-administered therapy to be able to accept verbal birthday greetings. I love cards (opened in the privacy of this house.) Having experienced the waiters gathered around the table singing 'Happy Birthday" I believe I can live a very long time without repeating it.

What I love best is having our friends over. These people are all tremendous fun, extremely intelligent and it makes me proud to have them in our house. Their presence IS my present and worth far more than diamonds or emeralds. (Not that anyone's offered either one...) ((Still, it's never too late!))

So ... get over it, get out of town or join us! This is my week to howl!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

If Your Collar is Blue, Have I Got a Joint For You!

The Falcon Inn, 5023 W. Rosecrans, Hawthorne 310-973-9555 Open every day from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

When you walk in the door, the bar is straight ahead, the dining room is to your right. The decor is dozens of Dodger pennants hanging from the ceiling, blow-up NASCAR cars, five or six TVs of varying sizes, most tuned to a sporting event. There is a California Lottery keno board ("Now taking bets.") The jukebox has a lot of C&R music. Karaoke is featured Tues. Thurs. Fri. Sat. and Sunday.

The clientele (mostly male) ranged in age from early 30s to mid-50s. There were several families with small children in the dining room.

We had a beer at the bar and then repaired to the dining area. The Wednesday night special is BBQ ribs, soup or salad, a short ear of corn on the cob and choice of potato - baked, mashed or fried $8.95. We went for it. Salads (lettuce, shreds of carrot and red cabbage, slice of tomato) come out in a deep bowl with a plastic dish of the salad dressing you chose on the side. Richie ordered the baked potato which came with another little cup of sour cream and chopped green onion. I had onion rings (for 50 cents extra.) The ribs were plentiful, the meat tender but they'd been absolutely drowned in a sea of sauce. I had to ask for a box and told Richie that before I ate them, I intended to hose them off and see what the hell I'd been eating.

Very much a family-style place with people yelling greetings and good-natured insults. One of the bartenders was having a birthday at a table in the dining area -- cake was served, candles blown out and because I was looking at my plate, I don't know why one of the bystanders yelled, "Pretend you're licking it off her nipple!" only to be told by a stern voice, "Hey! Family in here!"

The menu offers appetizers, salads, hamburgers, sandwiches, entrees, Mexican combination plates, breakfast and - (drum roll) the Breakfast Champagne Special -- two slices of bacon, two sausages, two eggs, potatoes and a glass of champagne - $4.95!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Dashed Hopes (Again, O Lord)
Bob and Pat invited us to join them and their crew for a sail this afternoon. Given the fact that our weather has been unseasonably hot (92 on the balcony the other day) I was quite looking forward to lolling on the aft cusions, soaking up the sun (and sucking down a beer or two.) Alas. It is overcast, grey and gloomy.

Update: How cool is this? A friend of Bob and the crew (both named Jim this time) is a Delta pilot and avid sailer. Knowing they sail on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., he told them to be under the take-off point at LAX at 2 p.m. -- he was flying to Hawaii. We were and at 2:10 p.m. he went overhead. No wing waggle... but we all waved.

Movin' On Up If Only Somewhat ...
Los Angeles mag this month lists "101 Cheap Eats!" and we have dined at seven of them.
Baby Blues BBQ, 444 LIncoln Blvd, Venice - Very good; we need to get back there
Factor's Famous Deli, 9420 Pico, West LA - the annual corned beef sandwich
Havana Mania, 3615 Inglewood, Redondo Beach - love their ham rolls
The Loft, 23305Hawthorne, Torrance - love their lumpias, but Richie doesn't like Hawaiian
Phillipe The Original, 1001 N. Alameda, downtown LA - their horseradish sauce will melt your eyebrows...
Pink's, 709 N. La Brea, Hollywood - instant gastric distress, big time
Rosecoe's House of Chicken & Waffles, 1514 Gower, Hollywood - breast of chicken with a waffle only sounds odd -- it's actually quite good.

Which, it must be said, is a far cry from our having dined in ANY of the "Top 100."

A Rose by Any Other Name...
The newest issue of Saveur compares local words for a milkshake:
Rhode Island - a "cabinet" after the cabinets where the fixings are stored
St. Louis - a "concrete" for the extra-thick shakes found there.
Boston, parts of New England - a frappe (pronounced FRAP) from the French for "whipped."
California - a "smoothie" made from fruit and milk or frozen yogurt.
Caribbean and Central America - a "batidos" which are made with fresh fruit, ice and milk.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hot News!

No, I'm not talking about our unseasonably hot weather.

I need slipcovers for the two club chairs in the living room. Since I like to shop online and then go to a local store, I was browsing Bed, Bath & Beyond because we've got one. I found what I wanted but didn't want to order it, have them delivered, find out that they didn't fit and then have to re-package and return them. It's too hot for all of that nonsense.

As it happened we ran errands 'up north" today and as we passed BB & B I said, "I need to go in there." Found the slipcover department and a nice salesman who led me over to the slipcover area. "My" slipcovers weren't there.

"No problem! he caroled, stepping smartly to a computer. "Let's see what we've got online." What I wanted didn't immediately pop up (there must be 30 pages of 10 examples per page) so he said, "Go online, find what you want, print it out and bring it into the store. We'll order it and have it shipped directly to you."

"Okay..." I said.

"But wait," he said, "If you order it online, you can't use our 20% off coupon, but if you order it through the store, you can! That's why you bring us the print-out and let us do it."

Off to scan their site -- 20% off for a little extra work? No problem! They don't call me Nickel-Nose Nina for no reason at all!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Stubborn Man

Richie is a great Helen Mirren fan and when, a couple of years ago while browsing through our library's DVD section, he came across "Calendar Girls" he had to check it out.

Plot: Twelve women are members of a womans' club in the Dales (I think) and when one woman's husband dies, they decide to turn over the earnings from their annual calendar to the local hospital. The problem is: their calendar doesn't sell well at all. What can they do?

Pose nude for it! Nude, but not .. a tray of cupcakes or a vase of flowers hides their lady bits. After some initial quivers, the photos are taken, the calendar made and sales begin. Apparently it was a slow news day when it came out, because the calendar (and the women) become a cause celebre globally. I think the movie could have ended with them opening bushels of donation letters, but instead it follows them to America and celebrity-ego problems.

What does this movie have to do with my life, you ask? Richie believes that the Thurs. Writers should do a similar calendar -- not for money, but to publicize the various books we've written.

Yes, well... our oldest member is 91, our youngest 62 and to be charitable, none of us are the Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt of this world. Presumably we could hide behind manuscripts, computers, lap tops... but how interesting would that be? (Ans. Not at all.)

But Richie is undeterred. Last night he said, "Guess what I got!" brandishing a DVD box. We watched "Calendar Girls" again. Mirren is believable, but Richie's idea is most definitely not!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Paging Richie Murphy!

Our last errand stop yesterday was the supermarket. As usual, Richie got the old plastic bags out of the back of the car to be re-cycled, grabbed a cart left selfishly in the parking lot and began to saunter into the store. Richie never hurries.

'Way ahead of him, I scurried around the store, getting a bag of small corn tortillas, another bag of big flour tortillas, a bottle of jalapeno peppers and two boxes of taco shells. I'm carrying all of this stuff haphazardly, looking for him -- and the cart.

I ran into Kermit the butcher who was stacking trays of meat in the counters that run along next to the seafood case. We grinned and chatted. Kermit looked at my arms full of stuff and said, "Isn't he here with you today?"

"Yeah, he is -- somewhere in here!" irritatedly. Kermit grinned and said, "Let me page him -- what's his full name?" I think this is hilarious; I'd love to see his face when (wherever he is) he hears, "Richie Murphy, to Seafood, please."

A guy in produce which is on the other side of seafood asked Kermit, "What'chu doing?" and I said, "New employee -- he's the mop man! Keep him busy!" and the guy grinned admiringly and said, "Ole Kermit; he always up to something!"

It took a second page, but finally here came Richie. He saw Kermit and me laughing and started laughing, too. "I was so surprised to hear my name..." he said.

I thanked Kermit profusely and put all my stuff in Richie's cart. Kermit may have made a mistake -- now I know that when Richie gets lost (frequent occurence) I can get him back without haring all through the store, cursing like a maniac, looking for him.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lemons & Limes

Cloyed by chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies? Bellied up with jelly beans? Peeps got your teeth stuck grittily together?

Now is the time to refresh your taste buds! To clean your palate with a bracing lemon or lime dessert. Of course, they have sugar in them! But: the tingle of the citrus fruit makes you at least think you're eating something ... vaguely ... healthy.

Years ago -- 1988 as nearly as I can discover -- when John Berendt's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" had just become a runaway best-seller, we went to Savannah to see book sites for ourselves. The squares, surrounded by stately old houses, were beautiful. Down by the river was not so, uh, pristine. We had lunch a the Dockside Restaurant (201 W. River 912/236-9253 est. 1988) and they served an incredibly good Key Lime Pie. I remarked upon it to our server and she promptly brought me the recipe! They'd had so many requests, they'd printed up a flyer with it.

1 store-bought Graham cracker crust
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup (4 oz.) bottled lime juice
1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

Unwrap the pie crust and put in the oven for 10 min. at 325 degrees
Mix the egg yolks, lime juice and milk together.
Pour this mixture into the pie shell and bake about 15 minutes at 325.

Once upon a time, Lemon Squares were The Dessert. Easy and quick to make, a lot of hostesses fell back on our friend, the lemon. This recipe is from a book called "I'd Rather Play Tennis Than Cook" (so you know it's easy!)

2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter

Pre-heat oven to 350
Combine the flour and powdered sugar
Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly
Pat mixture evenly into a 10 x 15 pan and bake 20 minutes

6 T flour
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
grated lemon rind and powdered sugar to garnish

Combine these ingredients, pour over the partly-baked crust and bake another 25 minutes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Would You Wear These?

From the improbable t-shirt collection by What On Earth ( Cotton t-shirts are $15.95; sweatshirts are $25.95

This shirt is
I'm wearing the skinny side

A team effort
is a lot of people
doing what I say.

Never take a fork
to a knife fight

Hybrid Human
runs on beer

heavily medicated
for your safety

Mouth operates
faster than brain

In Latin my name is
Moodicus Swingicus

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

From Zero to 86

Who can do that? Andy Granatelli, that's who! Universally known as "Mr. Indy" for his long-term involvement with STP, there are interesting things about his success story.

During the Depression (the real one, not this one) he tuned cars for 10 cents -- he was 11 years old! He and his brothers Vince and Joe started the Hurricane Racing Association, a sort of racing circus that included an ambulance which on cue, tossed a dummy out onto the track.

In 1963, he bought Chemical Compounds, changed the name to STP, publicized the hell out of it and 10 years later he had more than 2,000 people working for it -- up considerably from his first seven employees.

In 1969, he and STP won their first Indy 500 with Mario Andretti driving. Granatelli himself set more than 400 land speed records for Studebaker (!) including 241.7 mph - on pump gas, no less - when he was 62.

His next venture was Andy Garantelli's Tuneup Masters - 150 locations in six states. He sold it in the late '80s for a reported $60 million.

If is right about his birth date (3-18-1923) he celebrated his 86th birthday last month. Zero (money) to 86 (years old - not bad, eh?)

Here's his latest e in its entirety:

To whom it may concern:
I continually get inquiries on what are the best restaurants in the Santa Barbara area, so I thought I would make up a list and pass it out to my friends. For the record, I have no ownership whatsoever in any restaurant.

1. In-N-Out Burger - best fast food, hamburgers by a mile
2. Bella Vista (Biltmore) - world-class, expensive
3. Los Arroyos - Best authentic Meican food
4. Arigato Sush - Best sushi in town
5. Ca'Dario - Best Italian peasant style, inexpensive
6. Cafe Luck - Best food and bar in town, bar none
7. Downey's - world-class, expensive
8. La Super-Rica - Out of this world, Mexican-style food
9. Olio e Limone - Best Italian, Sicilian-style, expensive
10. Ruth Chris - Great steaks and chops
11. The Barbeque Co. - Best mouth-watering bbq
12. Sly's - Best steaks and chops, frst class
13. Ballard Inn & Restaurant - Top drawer
14. Hitching Post - Incredible food
15. Brother's Restaurant (Mattie's Tavern) - What is not to like?
16. Trattoria Grappolo - Best Italian food in the Santa Ynez Valley
17. Willows - World class, expensive
18. Root 246 - A new taste sensation
19. Tutti's - You will love it

(signed) Sempre e amore, Andy Granatelli

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Where Are They Now?

Donald Carty, former chairman and CEO of AMR Corp (American Airlines) from 1998 until his ouster in 2003 -- for over-the-top executive perks -- is today chairman of Virgin America and Porter Airlines, director of Dell, Inc., Hawaiian Airlines, Sears Roebuck, CHC Helicopter Corp. Barrick Gold Corp and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. It should be noted that the average director post pays from $50,000 to $100,000 (and up) for attendance at a couple of meetings a year.

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of SMU, on the Executive Board of the SMU Cox School of Business and a member of the Board of Directors of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation. Clearly excessive greed is not a handicap in certain social circles.

In other related news, AA furloughed 323 flight attendants (all from TWA who had been recalled during the past two years) effective April Fool's Day -- er, April 1st. That number is less than the original 410 planned. The 323 former flight attendants will be offered free travel benefits but if they accept them, they lose their recall (to work) rights.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Ralph's Supermarkets are selling lobster tails for $6.88 each! This is considerably cheaper than "Market Choice" on a menu (aka $40) even if you do have to make the dinner that goes with it. We bought two - tomorrow night is Cover Your Chin in Dripping Butter Until It Glows Night. I can hardly wait!

Let's Get Crackin!

On our hard-boiled eggs. Today starts "National Egg Salad Week" which doesn't end until April 18th if you've got a full calendar today. The entire month of May is "National Egg Month" if you miss salad week.

Apparently, we're meant to take our dyed Easter eggs and make salad out of them. Egg salad is a typically American food -- a protein salad, if you will. Cousins include tuna, chicken,ham, crab and lobster.

Traditional ingredients inlude: tomato, onion, lettuce, pickle relish. Non-traditional (and these are very "non" to me) are cooked lentils, peas, peppers and/or cottage cheese.

Typically, the French cut to the chase with Oeufs Mayonnaise -- peel it, cut it in half and slather the tops with mayonnaise. They also serve hardboiled eggs with olives or sausage with drinks.

Didn't dye eggs this year? No worries. Ralph's Supermarket sells a pair of them for $1.19 as well as presenting slices in their salad bar.

From my 8th grade Home Ec class -- EGGS MIMOSA
2 hardboiled eggs, shelled, cut in half. Carefully prise the yolk out and set it aside. Fine chop the whites and hang onto them ...
Make a white sauce of 2 T butter and 2 T flour, stirred until it begins to faintly turn brown and then start adding milk, a bit at a time, until it reaches gravy consistency. Drop in the chopped whites, stir well and serve with the yolks grated over the top.

Bon appetite.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

:The Best-Laid Plans o' Mice and Men Gang Aft A-gley"

(Robert Burns, poet)

Bob thought Easter Eve dinner was after today's jazz concert. I never talked to Pat about it. So, at 6:08 p.m. last night, I left this message - It's not like you to be late, but since this is the answering machine, I'm going to assume you're on your way - see you when you get here!"

Five minutes later, the phone rings. "It's TONIGHT?"

So Richie, Tony and I did our best to eat all of the ham. Couldn't do it so Re-Run Dinner tonight and the Brodskys will be there.

Pat and I agreed; all social contracts are to be negotiated by us; no males need apply. It works out better that way ...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter/Passover!

Yesterday "April showers" brought us a cornucopia of gifts! Much to our surprise.

At the Farmers' Market, I walked over to say, "Feliz Paque!" to The Flower Guy. We chatted a moment as he trimmed a bunch of very-long stemmed purple flowers. Then to my amazement, he handed them to me with a courtly little bow!

Just before dinner, the doorbell rang (the cats fled to Under The Bed) and it was a big box from Richie's cousin, John McG, the Squire of Staten Island. What could it be?

It was: yellow Peeps rabbit heads (O the fun of biting off the ears!) A pair of Pez dispensers (John doesn't know it, but he's about to make our fortune -- we save them all, pristine in their wrappers, towards a sale on eBay that will fund us forever.) A big, solid-chocolate Cadbury bunny for Richie; a daintier Lindt chocolate rabbit for me. Four tiny wooden ornaments -- for the Easter Tree? -- a chick bursts triumphantly out of an egg; a little bunny rides a car, holding a carrot. Delicate little things. Two plastic eggs filled with candy "speckled eggs." A CD of songs including "Easter Prade" and a wind-up chicken that lays jellybean eggs. Thank you, John!

I saved last year's chicken and this year, we can have chicken races down the dining room table when the plates have been cleared. These races are tremendous fun! The chickens pause... and poop out an Easter egg! to gales of laughter. Rite-Aid had them last year; it's not too late to get a couple.

We're having "Easter Eve" dinner here tonight as one guest has family obligations on Sunday and the rest of us are going to the South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club monthly session that afternoon.

I put a collection of hats in the living room -- I think we should all wear one to the table in the spirit of the occasion. Bob (and his beard) would look fetching, peering out from under the wide brim of the white hat -- it has a bigger spread than a beach umbrella. Tony might like the pale blue, brimmed cloche -- sort of a Tony Curtis in "Some Like It Hot" look.

Happy holiday to you all -- may your April showers turn out to be as much fun as ours!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Considering Converting Faiths

I am torn between becoming a Luddite or a Flat Earth person. And Bill Gates and all of Microsoft will be responsible if I do.

In a nutshell: My downstairs monitor (the big, boxy kind) was doing fine even though the screen had a sort of yellow overlay to it. Didn't bother me, but it did bother Richie (who rarely uses it except to download his camera.)

He nagged and nagged so I bought a flat-screen monitor, brought it home and installed it. Screen started up normally and then started flashing "Frequency Too High!" I went online, discovered how to fix the situation, tried it and it didn't work. I disconnected it, re-installed the old one and went about my business.

Old friends came to town and he's a computer professional so he went down and installed the new monitor and was satisfied it was working. I went down three days later and it was back to its bad, old habit.

Disconnected the new, re-installed the old monitor which now won't work at all because its frequency was changed. Repair guy can't come until next week -- said something about going away for Easter.

I need a printer. So I unhooked the one downstairs, brought it upstairs and connected it to the laptop. Laptop's all "What printer? I ain't got no stinkin' printer!" so I go back downstairs and embark on a fruitless quest to find the original printer installation disc. Gone.

Trudged back upstairs, went online to the printer manufacturer, found the one I have and downloaded all the software to make it work. The download took a total of 15 minutes, so I ate my last night's leftover pizza and read more of my book. I may not know much about computers, printers or software, but dammit, I can multi-task.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Domestic Goddesses II

Let us leave Martha Stewart grazing contendedly on a neighboring mansion's lawn and turn our attention to a rather different Domestic Goddess (she has a sense of humor.)

Oprah Winfrey has marketed herself so successfully that she' gone from having a full name (like the rest of us) to one name recognition (Cher, Madonna, J-Lo) and finally to just "O." If that isn't name recognition, I don't know what is. It always amused me, back in the day when she was still "Oprah" to remember my mother's name was Orpha and to tease her, her brothers called her "Orpah." It's all in where you put the "r" ...

Alert readers will remember the great Clam Chowder Cook-Off. Here is how "O" wants you to make it.

CLASSIC CLAM CHOWDER (from The Oprah Magazine Cookbook)

2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 in. cubes, cooked and set aside

2T sweet butter
2/3 cup diced celery
2/3 cup chopped white onions
4 61/2-oz. cans chopped clams, separate the clams from the broth
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 8-oz. bottles clam juice
1 oz. salt pork
1 cup light cream

Melt the butter and saute the celery and onions until tender. Stir in the flour, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, until it's just golden and take off of the heat.

Mix the clam juice (bottled and saved from the cans), add the salt pork and bring to a boil. Gradually whisk the hot clam juice into the flour mixture, then add the potatoes and cream, bring to a boil, stirring often (Ed. note I don't know how good an idea it is to boil light cream...)

Stir in the clams and heat them through, about one minute. Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Martha Stewart - Uber Haus Frau or Madwoman?

You decide!

"Fresh Ham Baked in Herbs and Cut Green Grass appeared in the Martha Stewart Cookbook. It's the grass thing that has me worried Miz Martha may have been on acid -- tripping on a vision of herself, barefoot in a little gingham dress, dancing through the fields, waving to the birdies ("Such dear little things") snipping grass and tossing it in her apron.

Few city yards have long-stemmed grass and if they do, the City will be on the home owner like a duck on a June bug to mow it -- "But, officer, it's for my Easter ham dinner!" isn't going to cut any mustard at all.

Out in the country? Long grass galore -- but who knows what peed on it? Rabbits, raccoons, possums? Not a pleasant thought and I don't care that cooking might possibly sterilize it. (I also think she 'way over-spiced it and garlic and ham do not go together.)

I can only assume that she was serious about this recipe as she is not really well-known for a sense of humor.

One 18 lb. fresh ham
18 garlic cloves
1 bunch fresh chervil with flowers
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch fresh thyme
10 tender bay leaves
1 bunch fresh chives
1 bunch fresh tarragon
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
2 oranges, sliced thick
1 bottle dry rose or white wine
Pepper to taste
1/2 lb. fresh-cut grass, 6 to 10 in. long, washed and stored in cold water

Preheat the oven to 325. Trim the fat, makes slits for the garlic and alternate with springs of chervil, basil, thyme and bay leaves. The herbs and garlic should almost cover the meat.

Crush the remaining 8 garlic cloves leaving them in their peels and set aside.

Line the roasting pan 5 3/4 in. high and 16 in. in diameter with the grass, 1 in. thick on the bottom and round the sides. Reserve some grass and herbs for presentation.

Layer the chives, tarragon and parsley on the bottom and sides of the pan. Put the orange slices on top of the herbs and cover them with basil. Put the ham in the pan with the crushed cloves of garlic and gently pour the entire bottle of wine around the meat. (No sips, Martha - you said "entire.")

Bake for 30 minutes, then cover loosely with foil. Continue to braise for another 5 hours, basting if necessary. Remove the foil for the last half-hour of cooking to lightly brown the meat.

While the ham is resting, strain the juices from the pan, saving the orange slices. Add them to this liquid. Gently boil and reduce the sauce by half. Skim off the fat and strain again to remove the orange slices.

Martha, honey? We hide our Easter eggs in the grass -- not our hams!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You Goin' to the Class Wars?

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is to take place April 17, 18 and 19, 2009, on the Empire Polo Fields, near Indio. Some 60,000 people attended last year to see headliners Prince and Dwight Yoakum, among others. Amy Winehouse was scheduled for this year until US Immigration refused her a visa.

A three-day event pass is $272 and one can camp out. Camp Out! Eekers!

Clearly the festival folks knew there were idiots like me so they offer their "Safari Tents." These are fully-floored tents with choice of queen or twin beds, tables and chairs, floral arrangements, mirrors, A/C, electrical outlets, a free breakfast (from 7 to 10 a.m.) an over-21 bar, two All Access passes, special shuttles to and from the action, a free parking lot for your Mercedes, additional security officers and an ATM machine for your use. And a 1st aid station, should you need it. You are, however, requested to leave Rover and Fluffy and all outdoor barbecue cooking equipment at home.

Sounds nice you purr... Price? $5,000 for the first two people into the tent, $1,000 each for every additional guest (and some of the tents hold six.) It could be argued that Coachella planners forgot to include the shuttle to and from Palm Springs airport, where naturally one would leave one's G5.

I like to envision the 3-dayers suddenly spying this enclave of luxury and (presumably) peace, gathering as the word spreads and then charging! Jumping over the golden ropes -- subduing the special security! cleaning out the bar, Porthault linens... whatever! Gives me a nice little glow...But most likely the masses would merely laugh up their sleeves at the foolishness of the rich ... desert dwellers are pretty sensible. They have to be!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Better Idea

Anyone whose had the flu, knows there comes a time when the victim (and we are! We are!) thinks, "Well, this is it. I've come to the end of the line."

Cousin Robert, down in South Texas, has come up with a better idea. Our last visit, he said to me, "Ah don't want yew to come down for my funeral (beat) 'cause I'm not gonna die (beat) I'm gonna ascend! (aside to himself) "Even though that idea don't sit too well with some a my Baptist friends." He went on, "So Ah'll call your or someone else will" and I cut in, "Robert, I'll be there!"

Now we joke about it during phone calls -- "You fixin' to ascend yet?" "Nope, Ah am not."

And neither am I.

Saturday, April 4, 2009



Campbell's Cream of Tomato soup is quite tasty with a lump of butter melting in it...

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Annual Tire PSI Test

Today I had my 19th consecutive mammogram. The exam itself was short; two views each breast, but the wait for the exam was quiiite long. But making sure you don't have cancer is well-worth any wait. Plus they had "good" magazines (none any earlier than 2008.)

The Person Who Issues Garments looked at me, said, "Tall" and thrust a pair of cloth bundles at me. Once on (the sleeves were the Madame Butterfly type and difficult to figure out) I looked like Lawrence of Arabia -- the folds fell around me, the bottom hem touched my shoe tops.

Gathering my desert robes around me as best I could, I sauntered into the womens' waiting room where two other women sat. I said, "Okay, who stole my camel?" and even though faced with the Powerful Jaws of Maximum Pressure in their immediate futures, they laughed. God bless a woman with a good sense of humor!

And don't forget your own annual mammogram!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

CPA Humor

We took our tax paperwork in to our CPA and as we settled in our chairs in front of his desk, Les leaned forward and asked, "Are either of you hoping for a job in Obama's government?"

We looked at each other ("What?") and said, as one, "No."

"Well then," he said, "You'll have to pay your taxes!"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Onion Rings II

So often I find that if you dig deeply enough, you'll find something. Google presents "the first 10 items with a total of 47,365" and what follows had to be 9,651.

Long ago, a community near Transylvania, a part of Romania, was plagued by a viciously cruel, very wealthy man who was utterly depraved. No one was quite sure where he came from (though rumors flew) but one day suddenly, the massive castle on the hill was occupied. It quickly became known that you didn't want to have anything to do with him. Some of the more superstitious villages said -- swore! --that they'd seen him turn into a bat!

Small children began disappearing from their cradles at night -- if they were seen again, they were odd; affectless, not the same toddlers they'd been prior to abduction.

But then, long periods would ensue, when no one vanished and all was well. At those times, however, it was noticed that the villagers' beet fields were ... strangely depleted. Crops weren't what they should have been. (The fields of garlic and onion on either side were untouched.) A writer at that time, Bram Stoker, working as an investigative reporter, wrote an entire book about the strange phenomenon in 1897.

The brightest guy in the whole village (the blacksmith -- having been exposed to travelers via horses that needed new shoes) figured it out. The rich man up in the castle was a vampire! He further deduced that the vampire might have been trying to cut back (or diet) and that explained all of the missing beets. He was praised as a hero and the villagers took to wearing a ring of onion or a clove of garlic suspended on a string around their necks. (The Village Idiot in a deliberate suicide bid, tied a beet around his neck, but his parents took it away and scolded him.)

Then one day, one of the village wives, always a clumsy woman, stumbled against a misplaced stool in her kitchen and nearly fell into the fire! Quickly she pushed away from the mantle but not before her slice of onion caught fire. Frantically, she beat out the fire (threatening to burn a hole in the bosom of her 3rd best dress) and then she noticed something ... the cooked onion smelled delicious! Hesitantly, she looked at it and then bit into it -- it was delicious!

Instantly the whole village began frying onions and eating them. Eager to take this discovery to the rest of Europe (and make a profit at something for once) the villagers fled in ecstasy at the very thought (money!) They were so euphoric about it all that this mass migration came to be called the "Hungarian Rhapsody."

Szerences Aprilisi Elso! (Hungarian for "Happy April 1")