Monday, May 31, 2010

Presidential Longevity and Other Matters

Perhaps I got off on this because today - Memorial Day -- we salute those whose longevity was savagely cut short.

Bess Truman was our oldest living First Lady; she died age 97, after having lived through five wars and 18 presidents. Gerald Ford, who died aged 93, was our oldest living ex-President.

Lady Bird Johnson ranks second to Truman, dying age 94. But we may have a dark horse in the field -- Betty Ford is 92.

But for longevity actually in the White House, Eleanor Roosevelt tops them all -- 12 years at that address.

Livening up Dinner Table Conversation

Yesterday, Bob, Pat and "Raffish" gathered around the dining room table here for an indoor picnic. Raffish is a medical doctor and it occurred to me in a flash -- "Raffish, if you were in some extremely dire situation and you had to eat another human being, which part would be the best?"

Bob and Pat gasped, reeling back from the table in horror.

He grinned and said, "The ribs. Most of the muscles in the body run longitudinally, but the ribs work" (twisting his torso) "like this so they get the least exercise and are the most tender."

Pat eyed Bob speculatively, reached over and patted his embonpoint and said, "Bob, you'd better watch out! You could be someone's dinner!"

"Nah," I said diplomatically, "He's too fat! (warming to the subject) and Pat, there's no meat on you at all! You're safe!"

Bob, who is 85, fought back. "But I'm well-aged!" he shot back defiantly. (We were shrieking with laughter) "... and probably well-marbled, too!" That nearly put us on the floor, helpless with laughter.

Yes, we do have enlightening conversations at the table. And now you know what to eat and who not to eat.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Whither Our Usage of the English Language?

(Probably the first in a long-running series on this subject.)

From today's Target flyer: ads for "women's trouser pants" and "sleep pants" which are, in reality, pajama bottoms.

Parade ran a lengthy article on our friends the hot dogs. They mentioned "dragged through the garden" as a means of saying lots and lots of added vegetables including "four alarm sport peppers." What the hell is a "sport pepper"? I know habaneros, jalapenos, serranos or green, red or yellow peppers but have not made the acquaintance of the "sport pepper." Please stand up and introduce yourself!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pausing to Remember...

The war that produced the most casualties? The American Civil War.

Wars by combat deaths? #1 World War 2 #2 American Civil War

Total American war deaths, going back to the Northwest Indian Wars - 622,760

Cities with similar populations - Zaragosa, Spain; Glasgow, Scotland, Mexicali, Mexico

Please, a quiet word of thanks to all of those souls who fought for what we so frequently flaunt today...

Friday, May 28, 2010

You Be The Judge...

Bob (Brodsky) and I have had a running argument over what designates poetry as such for some time. Bob feels very strongly that every line -- or every other -- line must rhyme. I call that doggerel. And sniff at the barbarians that call it "poetry."

He loaned me a slim volume of poetry that his friend Janet Cameron Hoult has written. It's called "Body Parts, A Collection of Poems About Aging." ( $10.95)

I lifted one of these poems (probably highly illegally - don't rat me out) simply to allow a much larger audience than Bob and self to debate Poetry vs. Doggerel. Here goes:

Say What????
My husband and I like to travel,
But sometimes things start to unravel.
Since we both don't hear well
And we find we must spell
A word that is different or novel.

For example, what happened in Spain
When I found that I had to explain
That the restaurant served Tapas
And the servers weren't topless
Bet he won't make that mistake again!

Res Ipso Loquiter.....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trying and Failing...

Trying: "Going Rogue, An American Life" by Sarah Palin Harper Collins 413 pages $28.99

Failing: to get past page 121

What, you ask, was my problem? All of those pages were unrelenting commercials --

for Alaska (the stark beauty of the scenery; the bliss of hunting caribou, gutting fish for the roe)

for her parents (who made sure all of their children were athletic and self-sufficient)

for herself (Bible quotations, her determination to change government as we know it today -- Todd agreed she could do it.)

Breathless descriptions of campagning in Alaska (!) for such as: a Wasilla City Councilman in 1992.

She does present herself as exactly what any right-thinking Republican could want. Pro God, pro hunting, anti abortion, parental respect (all Republicans respect their parents; it's a WASP thing) to name only a few of the idealisms presented.

In truth, I began the book to see life as it is lived in Alaska among the settlers and natives there. Salmon fishing might be fun, but shooting your dinner would not be. In one of the many photos, her Dad is showing her and three other little kids how to skin a harbor seal! (Prior to the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 which banned this practice.)

Palin's political aspirations remind me of Jim Belushi in the "Blues Brothers" - on a mission from God! And, I would add: not.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cranky Today (Sunny Tomorrow)

The New York Community Board 1's 40 members have voted to allow a Muslim mosque to be built on the site of the 911 crash. The vote was 29 for it with one against and 10 others who abstained from voting. To my amazed incredulity, a group calling itself "September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows" supported building the mosque. When did they drink the Kool-Aid?

The doughty NY Times (and others) are currently running editorials against Mayor Blumberg of the "Off with his head!" variety as he has not come out as against the preposterous use of that land.

A favorite source for gossip, is today running an article called "Nine meals and 20 drinks that will kill you." Too lengthy to list here, but the calories in some well-known chain restaurants' foods astonished me. I down about 1,200 per day, but some of these things hit the 3,000 and 4,000 calorie market!

In other food news, 80 people in the San Francisco Bay area paid $17,600 per person for a fun-raising dinner with Barack Obama to benefit Barbara Boxer. The meal began with caviar and eggs...

"True Blue" is David Baldacci's newest and I'm finding it hard going. His lead character is a woman nicknamed "Mace" (for Mason.) She was a DC cop who got stung in a drug operation and did two years in prison. Now she's out of prison and wants back on the force. Isn't that precious about her name? "Mace" for a cop? Yes, well ....

The problem is that Baldacci has made her 'way too butch. She speeds around on a Ducati (motorcycle.) She settles bets with her putative beau by ....playing basketball. She cusses. She's more tomboy 14 year old than anything believable in a real person. And to finish off my day by being thoroughly bitchy, I didn't like The Camel Club books either.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Find!

"My Favorite Place on Earth" compiled by Jerry Camarillo Dunn, Jr. for National Geographic magazine 271 pages $22.95

This really is a fascinating book -- I may not have heard of the some of the 75 celebrities who were consulted for it, but those that I recognize have made some amazing choices.

Two of them said, "My house" (Clive Cussler and skateboarder Tony Hawk who built his own skating rink behind it.) Isaac Mizrahi said "My garage." Loretta Lynn's choice - Hurricane Mills, TN - is in fact her house. Naturally old blowhard Donald Trump had to brag about his Mar-A-Lago -- "All of the best parties are held here" (sniff.) Genius IQ Marilyn Vos Savant (her last name translates to "your teacher" but you have to say it smugly) likes Paris as does writer Ray Bradbury.

There are destinations I've never heard of -- Wild Dog Research Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana would probably be the farthest from my imagination. Some oddities -- Suze Orman likes "a bench at Crissy Field, San Francisco," comedian Jeff Foxworthy loves Camp Sunshine, Decatur, GA, for cancer-stricken kids.

Clearly, I'm fascinated and recommend this book. Color photos accompany the words about these destinations. If I were asked this question, I couldn't answer any better than the very vague "France, Mexico, Ireland and our house." Sad that. I need to get out more!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reading Matters

"Spoken From The Heart" by Laura Bush Scribner 456 pages $30

I've always enjoyed reading about our Presidents and First Ladies. Some of their stories are very interesting. Unfortunately, Mrs. Bush's story was not. She writes well and does librarians proud, but she never goes into depth about anything even slightly personal. It is a curiously passionless effort. She writes descriptively about White House furnishings which is somewhat interesting.

It took awhile for her and her mother-in-law to become close. But that's about as dishy as it gets. Imagine eating nothing but vanilla ice cream for three or four days...

"Rain Gods" by James Lee Burke Simon & Schuster 434 pages $25.99

Burke introduces a new protagonist in this -- a Texas sheriff named Hackberry Holland, a recovering alcoholic and Korean war veteran. He's a 70-something man with a deputy sheriff (Pam Tibbs) who has a crush on him. Lots and lots of flashbacks as to when Holland was a POW.

Burke, of late, has been trying too hard with the overshadowing. "The torpid gray sky pressed down on the dusty bowl that is Divinity Valley" kind of thing. In fact, he treats weather conditions (lot of heat lightning in this one) with as much attention as he does any of his characters.

And most of the characters in it are striving for "enigmatic." Of course there is the nearly mandatory character who tells us that the gods, disappointed in us, have departed. That would be the Rain Gods in this case.

I'm sad about this because I remember the fun I had reading about Clete Purcell, the maniac in the Dave Robicheaux series. Clete was a character you could get your teeth into -- filled a bad guys convertible with wet cement; never hesitated to start a bar fight -- Clete! Come back! We miss you!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

'Tis the Season -- Or Nearly So

Both newspaper Sunday magazines featured barbecuing on their covers. I thought it was just coincidence until I remembered that next weekend is Memorial Day aka "The Official Start of Summer, 2010."

Bon Appetit had a cole slaw recipe I'm going to try (someday.)

6 cups (oy!) thinly-sliced Savoy cabbage (the curly kind)
1 cup coarsely-grated, peeled carrots
1 cup coarsely-ground, peeled daikon radish
1 large red bell pepper cut into 2 x 13 in. strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (would leave this out - mint is for juleps)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 green onions, sliced
Put all this in a big bowl and mix it up good.

7 T seasoned rice vinegar
2 T sesame oil (this stuff is strongly-flavored; don't let your hand slip)
2 T vegetable oil
2 Serrano chiles, seeded and minced
Mix together, pour over slaw and toss.

The Instant American Native
In an effort to get a tan without having to actually sit in the sun, I bought a tube of L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-tanning Lotion at Target. See, I figure the darker you are, the thinner you will appear to be. Sort of the Black Dress theory for your whole body...

Damn! That stuff is FAST! In less than an hour, my blue eyes stared out at an Native American-colored skin. I am, in fact, part Indian so perhaps this potion found it's true home and resonated. It may not streak your clothing (make sure to let it dry) but it damned sure made streaks on my shins. No matter -- I'm TAN.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

You Sweet Thang!

I discovered the rich joys of Tres Leches cake in a Mexican restaurant in Beeville, Tx. I can't remember the name of the place, but, if there, I could drive us right to it. "Tres leches" translates to "three milks" and by tasting I figured they'd used regular milk, sweetened condense milk and whipped cream.

Now comes this month's edition of Bon Appetit with a recipe for Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars. Since "dulce de leche" means, essentially, sugared condensed milk I thought it sounded good. Unfortunately, this is one of those desserts that you should eat with only what a toothpick can carry ONCE to your mouth. It's that bad for you ... but, knowing that my readers are all thin sophisticates, I'm not going to worry that I've killed about half of you by giving it to you.

Note: Dulce de leche is available in some supermarkets and/or Latin markets. In a pinch I think you could use canned, condensed sweetened milk instead.

2 1/4 cups finely-ground Graham crackers (about 17 whole ones)
2 T sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 1/4 sticks of butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350, spray a baking pan and mash the above into a crust in it. Bake for about 10 minutes or until it's a light golden brown. Remove, set aside and let cool.

3 8-oz packages cream cheese at room temperature (damn! that's a lot of cream cheese!)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dulce de leche (or sweetened condensed milk)
2 teas. vanilla

Cream the sugar and cream cheese together, beat in the eggs one by one and add the vanilla. Spread this batter over the cooled crust and then bake it (presumably 350 - they didn't say) for about 35 minutes or until the batter edges are puffed and slightly cracked.

Optional Glaze
2/3 cup dulce de leche and 3 T heavy whipping cream heated together. Slather over cake top and chill in the refrigerator. Cut it into bars, using a knife -- dip the knife in hot water, wipe it clean, cut, repeat as needed. Sprinkle with sea salt just before serving.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Itsy-Bitsy Newspaper

Local Star
Pofessional performer Ildy Lee has announced completion of several projects. The first book of her autbiographical trilogy has been completed. her short story "Kissed by Dale" won an award. She has finished editing a TV interview show with "Andre," a black child who was mistreated in a Russian orphanage until he was adopted at age 6 by an American-Jewish family. The book of poetry, dedicated to friend Ray Bradbury is ready for the printer. Visit this amazing woman at

Our friend Peggy Pelligrini has opened Zen Travel. You can contact her for your travel needs at 310-528-6516, Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. or visit her at

Long-time deep sea fisherman Ziggy Nogiewich died at his winter home in Florida on March 27th of congestive heart failure. Mr. Nogiewich was 98 years old. We last wrote about him on the occasion of his 96th birthday when he won "Biggest Fish Caught of the Day" followed by birthday cake and a celebration on the shore.

The Hermosa Beach Garden Club is holding their annual plant, bake and "Trash and Treasures" table sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow. Call 310-530-6992 for information. This event is usually held in the building adjacent to the lawn bowling club facilities on the Valley-Ardmore walkway and trail.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Texas Food

Shrimp Diablo Coconut Shrimp with Mango Sauce
These appetizers were my lunch at Water Street Seafood Company, 309 N. Water Street, Corpus Christi 361-881-9448
Both presentations were appealing -- baguette slices marinating in a delicious sauce and the big slice of pineapple holding the coconut shrimp skewers, surrounded by "confetti" colored taco strips. You have to look closely, but there's a little round dish in the center of the pineapple slice that holds the mango sauce.
The Diablo sauce was so good that I took what was left "home" to cousin Robert's house with us. Next morning, I used the "hot" olive oil to cook scrambled eggs; warmed the brown dredges (probably chili and paprika and garlic powders with a pinch of sugar and possibly a shake of habanero chili powder) to put on top of the finished eggs.
Pier 99, 2822 N. Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi 361-887-0764
We split an order of bacon-wrapped jalapeno shrimp and it could be made at home using fresh shrimp -- lay a strip of jalapeno where the nasty black vein was; wrap the shrimp in about 1 1/2 in. bacon and bake in the overn until the bacon's crisp. (Majorly sure they deep-fat fry theirs...)
Pappadeaux, 2121 Airport Freeway, Bedford, TX 817-571-4696. They had a special going -a 12 shrimp cocktail for $3.95 and the shrimp were in the 25-30 count size. There was some confusion later - Richie ordered the lobster bisque and I ordered a cup of the crawfish bisque, but the waiter got distracted and brought us both bowls of crawfish bisque. No matter; it was good. The waiter was good enough to charge us both only for cups, not bowls.
On The Border, 2500 Airport Freeway, Bedford, TX 817-540-0777 This has become our traditional picking us up at DFW place. Barbara likes the sangria margarita and we like icy cold Pacificos after a flight. Their brisket tacos are very good and I recommend them. The at-your-table-made guacamole is good as is the queso dipping sauce.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Go Back to "Touring Dallas Cowboys Stadium

Finally cracked the picture puzzle -- how to get them from A to B.

A Quiet But Triumphant "Hah!"

Robert's Buttermilk Pies
Last August I went on a fruitless quest for the recipe for GREEN PEA SALAD. None of my cousins had it; none of the people they quizzed in South Texas had it (and, frankly, the search was less than enthusiastic) nor did East Texas share any insights.

During our recent trip, I insisted on lunching at Sweeney Switch Cafe, Mathis, TX. where I'd had it before and the chef/owner asked his wife (sous chef/co-owner) to give it to me. She just listed the ingredients, not amounts so I threw in what seemed like reasonable amounts. If you hate any of them, leave them out ("Bye, celery.")

1 bag frozen peas, blanched, drained and set aside
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped white or red onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
Mix some sweet pickle relish into mayonnaise and add a bit of sugar for the dressing.

Cousin Robert baked a pie for dessert - a very creamy buttermilk pie. Based on the buttermilk, I asked if it was a Depression specialty because buttermilk is the end result of making butter from cream and he was surprised I'd know that. Damn, it was good! And if I can get the computer to co-operate, I'll be able to show you a picture of it.

1 pie crust -- home-made or store bought. I think a Graham cracker crust would work well..
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teas. vanilla
1 1/2 T flour
l1 1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup crushed Graham crackers (four crackers)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Oven to 325

Mix sugar and eggs, add vanilla and flour
Stir in the butter and buttermilk - but don't beat it!
Fold in the Graham crackers and pecans and pour into the pie crust.
Bake 45 minutes or until the knife test comes out clean.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tall (But True) Tales From Texas

"This is just a test..."
I'd made it through security at LAX, slipped back into my shoes and grabbed my purse when all of a sudden the security guards began shouting, "Breaker! Breaker!" and they all went haring after someone (whom I never saw.) The entire posse rounded a corner in the hallway and were gone. During this, I looked for safety and found a policeman sitting behind a desk to my right. I casually eeled over to stand casually on the far side of the action next to him. Out of the side of his mouth, he murmured, "Exercise" and gestured with his chin toward the exit. So I took it.

The Sound of One Chopstick...
Aboard our flight to DFW, I ordered a breakfast box ($6) and we shared it. The flight attendant handed the box to us, poured a cup of hot water and gave it to Richie saying, "That's for your oatmeal." He likes oatmeal; I don't so I got the yogurt. He also got the spoon so I used my knife to eat the yogurt. It's rather like using one chopstick at a time...

Romeo and Juliet, South Texas Style
After dinner at Pier 99, Corpus, we walked back to our hotel, passing Blackbeard's Bar and Grill. Richie dragged me in for a nightcap. We sat at the bar and ordered beers. Richie got to talking to the guy on his right who asked if we were here for business or pleasure? I said that we were here to visit my cousin Robert Dirks, up in Mathis. The guy grinned and said, "My grandfather and my father kept honey bees on Dirks land for years! As a little boy I used to visit and help with the bees. Been years since I seen Robert."

"You wanta write him a note?" I asked, digging in my purse for my writing pad and a pen. "Sure!" he said, taking them from me. He wrote, "Hello, Robert - W____ H______, Jr. We had honey bees on your land for years. Best regards."

Having established that we were "friendlies" he told us that he and his ex-wife had made an agreement. If either wanted to get back together, he/she would be at this bar at 8 p.m. that night. I glanced at my watch and saw that it was 8:30 p.m. and grimaced. He saw it and grinned, "Aw, Ah don't feel real bad about it ... we were married for seven years; got a divorce and then remarried and were together another three years and divorced. I'm 43 and she's 30 and she wants kids. Hell I GOT adult kids; I don't want no more of them."

He threw back the last of his beer and ordered another one, winking conspiratorially at the bartender (female.)

Big Butter & Egg Man
In Beeville, Tx. five of us had dinner at Mi Familia, a Mexican family-owned restaurant with walls of framed photos of family members; the earliest of whom fought in the Battle of the Alamo (on our side.) Cousin Robert insised on treating and gave the owner his credit card, saying, "Please add on a 20% tip." Goodbyes having been said, back in his truck, Robert started laughing and said, "I'm so embarrassed! The tip came to $6!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Long Time Coming, But Worth The Wait

Jane got super-busy; we went out-of-town, but now -- just when you were really getting impatient --


4 or 5 lb. brisket
3 oz. Liquid Smoke
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teas. onion salt
1/4 teas. garlic salt

Put the brisket lean side down, add the sauce, wrap it tightly in foil and bake for five (5) hours at 250 degrees.

Let the meat cool -- take it out, but save the juices and add:
4 T brown sugar
4 T vinegar
1 cup catsup
3 dashes hot sauce

Mix this up well, put the meat back in and cover it with sauce; then bake it uncovered for one hour at 350 degrees. Cut across the grain and serve.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Touring the Dallas Cowboys' New Stadium

It cost $1.15 billion to build and seats 80,000 which will be expanded to 100,000 for the Super Bowl. Average ticket cost is $84.12; standing room only is $29 per person. There are 300 suites and 15,000 Club seats. Some big spenders have bought a parking space in the lot nearest the front doors and their names are painted on the curb!

It is 3 million sq. ft. with a domed, retractable roof that is 660,800 sq. ft. and can be opened or closed in 12 minutes. It's supported by two steel trusses that arch up to 292 ft. abovefield level. The dome skin is said to be similar to that of a trampoline and our guide said that workmen were observed bouncing on it during construction.

The end zone retractable doors are comprised of five glass panels, each 129 ft. tall and 180 ft. wide which open or close in 18 minutes.

The Mitsubishi video board is 60 yards long and seven stories tall with 25,000 sq. ft. of screen. There's an additional 2,900 Sony TVs scattered around by concession stands and, quite possibly, the bathrooms. The boast is: "No one needs to miss a single play!"

The gift shop sells (among many, many other things) a "sod plaque" which is a regular wood and metal plaque -- with a 2 in. sq. tuft of Matrix artificial turf....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We're Baaack!

Got in at 1:50 p.m. today. Richie will download photos and will run with them tomorrow.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Going to South Texas at 6 a.m. tomorrow. Adventures will continue, however belatedly. (Computer access matters. "Notebook" is limited to our own private channel. FiOs stuff...)

Officer Woofs and Dak, the police dog, house sitting. Again. He's begun to start thinking about being paid for this despite access to innumerable beach girls and the lady dog next door - for
Dak! Not him!

A Discovery; Not Necessarily "A Find!"

Trader Joe's now sells Chocolate Croissents which you may know better as "pain chocolat." Either name, it's a bar of semi-sweet chocolate wrapped in a hunk of dough and baked.

Since Richie loves them, I threw a box in the shopping cart. This morning I tried them out.

What's funny about these things is: they are frozen. You leave them out all night on a lightly buttered baking sheet and (sinisterly) during the night, they swell to four times their original size! Bake them about 20 minutes at 350 and they should brown right up.

What I learned this time: don't use the convection toaster oven (they start to burn on top) but use the regular oven and a much bigger baking sheet! There are three left (four to a box) and in reheating, I'll try to fix this problem by putting them upside down on the baking sheet in regular oven mode. I don't have the sales slip, but $5 for four would seem reasonable. When done, they're H U G E.

Happy Mothers' Day to all to whom it applies!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hot Diggity!

This is going to be a good weekend! Today (Saturday) is the K9 Trials at Redondo Union high school's football field. I have waxed elegant about this often, so will spare you my usual enthusiasm. It's only 11 a.m. and I am looking forward greatly to the hot dogs sold there. Grilled on a barbecue to nearly black, loaded with mustard ... ah.... The sun is out and it's a beautiful day, too.

UPDATE The K9 Trials were all that I hoped they would be. The Grill Master, one John "Mongo" Erwin, told me the hot dogs are at Smart & Final, Iris and they are Hoffy 1/4 lb. beef.
And: Our vet, Steve Liebl, who owns Hermosa Animal Hospital, Hermosa Beach, was the Official Veteran for these Trials.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the monthly South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club meeting. This is still tremendous fun (after nearly two years of attendance) and it is suitable for the whole family. Yes, alcholic beverages are sold, but I have never seen anyone even slightly tipsy. This is an older crowd and I think that one drink is their limit. It's taken more for show than for go.

Friday, May 7, 2010


"When an old man dies, a library burns down."
African saying

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

O Wilderness? At the Beach?

Because I still miss our first cockatiel, "Loud," it's become a habit to read the Lost & Found column in the local paper even though he's been gone for more than two years. Hope dies hard with me apparently...

Most of last week, this ran "Found: young chicken, vicinity of X & Y Streets, Redondo Beach." Excuse me? This is an urban area; most of us do not have front yards; we have concrete driveways. Any backyard that we might have is minuscule in size. Where the hell did a "young chicken" come from?

Today's paper had a photo of a sea lion pup, curled winsomely on a wooden patio chair. The Hermosa Beach family who was inadvertently hosting the sea lion was quite surprised to discover it there. Apparently it had climbed up the beach, then across a road, along an alley to a latticed gate that it opened and thence to the patio and a seat.

In April, a sea lion climbed four flights of stairs to relax on the sun deck of a Newport Beach condo! To date, 300 sea lions have been found far from their habitat; 100 more than for the same period last year. They are gently collected by a rescue team - visit

In today's LA Times: a photo of a 200 lb. black bear some 25 ft. up a tree in an Oxnard cemetery. The bear was sedated and put in a sling by the fire department and gotten down on the ground to be released at an undisclosed spot to avoid people rushing to take a picture of it and getting bitten for their trouble. Marc Kenyon, a biologist who runs the California bear program said, "Bears are 100 per cent garbage-eating machines and can roam in one direction as far as 100 to 150 miles." Monrovia (landlocked) police logged 464 bear sighting calls in 2009.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Chef Derange

I have had some mad ideas over the past few days... for example...

Mock Eggs Benedict
Toast 1/2 of an English muffin. Butter it and sprinkle drops of lime juice and a few of Tabasco on it. Smear them around with the knife. Lime juice is better for this as it's not as acid as lemon juice.

Fry an egg (preferably in a ring holder - cut the bottom off of a can ot tuna or both top and bottom of a can of water chestnuts, wash well, grease interior and flop down in the skillet with a bit of butter in the middle. )

What happens here is I got the taste of the Benedict sauce without all the butter and egg yolks. For purists: Benedict sauce
4 egg yolks beaten with 4 T lemon juice
1 stick of butter, melted and beaten steadily into egg/lemon juice mixture. Return to the pan you melted the butter and whisk over the still-warm but off burner. Couple of shots of Tabasco as you like.

Next up! Panko Japanese Bread Crumbs
A box of them caught my eye in the supermarket, so I bought it. The box has a very complicated recipe for scallops in a sauce, baked with the crumbs. We had scallops so ...

I mayonnaised each cleaned scallop; rolled the scallop gently in a plate of Panko crumbs and baked at 400 for 14 minutes. I served them with lemon juice on the side. The panko crisps up as though it had been deep-fat fried! But it wasn't! (Crow! crow! I haven't deep-fat fried anything in 25 years.)

This is a version of "Ameritriciana?" (Ruth Ellen, help me out here!)
1 slice of bacon, cooked, well-drained and crumbled.
2 cloves garlic, chopped and sauteed in olive oil with red chili flakes
Pasta of choice and when it's nearly done, throw in a handful of frozen peas. Drain well and mix everything together.

The real dish uses pancetta and a cream sauce. Mine is presumably healthier for you.

Hmmm... what can I go invent next?

Blog #525

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chipotle-ing Along

We passed the IHOP on PCH every morning on our way to the gym. Until we passed big yellow bulldozers, pulling it down. Soon enough an entirely new restaurant appeared - Chipotle Mexican Grill ( "We must try it," we said and motored stately on. To the gym.

Yesterday, since the "Buy One, Get One Free" coupon expired on 4/30/10, we went. It's a sparkling interior with bleached-blonde wood seating and aluminum siding surrounding a spacious room. Very inviting looking. It's self-serve -- order your food, watch them put it together assembly-line style, pay for it and take your tray to a seat and eat.

Chipotle proclaims "Food With Integrity!" which means farm or ranch-raised with no antibiotic or growth hormone-fed plants or animals.

Their menu is simplicity itself - choice of soft or crisp taco shell; burrito in a tortilla or in a bowl made with chicken or steak or pork or barbacoa (beef) or vegetarian. They make a slad with a choice of beans (Mexican or black,) romaine lettuce, meat choice, salsa and cheese with a chipotle-honey vinaigrette.

To say they are painstaking in spelling out exactly what is going into your mouth is understatement. Fresh Tomato Salsa is categorized as "mild" and has 20 calories! There are three other salsa ranging from medium, medium hot and hot with calorie counts of 80, 15, and 40 respectively.

Richie had a chicken burrito "Hold the sour cream please" for a total of 750 calories. It was $5.70 and good-sized. I had thee crisp-shelled barbacoa tacos for $5.95 and 520 calories. Our tab (no tea, soft drinks or beer) was $11.65 before taxes (if any.)

What they're long on is salt. The chicken burrito? 1,940 mgs. My barbacoa? 520. What I want to know is: how the hell can romaine lettuce in a salad have 2 mgs. of salt? Lettuce has salt?

One the other hand, no matter what you eat there (and it's all listed) there is 0 (zero) trans fat. Barbacoa has 2.5 grams saturated fat; a chicken burrito has 12.5! Since "Chicken is better for you than beef!" had been drummed into me for 20 years or more, I am a loss to understand this...

But I'm no dietician, so I leave all the math to them.