Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Zucchini Season Looms...

It's still early days, but we are heading into summer and the annual Veggie Fest when people with gardens urge produce on you right and left. By summer's end, some ardent gardeners are forced to become stealth vegetable depositers. You go out to get the newspaper and nearly trip over a brimming basket of tomatoes or zucchini.

Richie to the rescue! He's been reading "New York Cookbook" by Molly O'Neill and yesterday announced that he was going to make Loretta's Italian Zucchini Soup, went into the kitchen and did! I think it's wonderful that he can read a cookbook, decide something sounds good and rather than handing the book to the wife, gets up and goes into the kitchen and makes it himself!

2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
one 16-oz. can plum tomatoes
1 lb. small, firm zucchini, washed and sliced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
Pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into tiny pieces

Heat the olive oil, add the onions and cook them till they're translucent.
Add the tomatoes, crushing them up against the side of the pan with a spoon, until their juice evaporates and the tomatoes are thickened - about 15 minutes.
Add the zucchini and potatoes and add enough water to cover them by about 2 in. Cook for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Add the beaten egg in a thin stream, stirring as you do with a wooden spoon and cook an additional two minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the cheese and basil and serve with crusty Italian bread.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Heartfelt "Thank You"

Saying "thank you" to all of our vets who took it to the plate and batted a homer hardly seems enough. War seems to have been glorified, freedom overstated when it comes to losing one's very life in the pursuit of other goals, phrased by old men who cannot (or will not) go to war themselves. It isn't fair, it certainly isn't right, but apparently it is also The American Way.

I'm quietly grateful to my maternal grandfather, who came to this country a Mennonite (pacifist) and when his sons came to him and said, "We want to go to war," at the onset of WW1, blessed them and said, "Go for it! This country has been very, very good for us."

God bless all of our veterans, today and always.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Indy 500

The best I can say is, "It's over." Having spent some 25 years, standing beside some track or other (Indy, Formula 1, drag race, midgets, flat track, motorcross, off road) such is my massive burnout even today that when the guy ran into a wall on the last turn of the last lap -- I laughed.

I was, however, quietly rooting for the Belgian, Bertrand Baguette! How could I not? Apparently he is a real person, signed on in April with Bobby Rahal's team. But hearing Marty (Reid) repeatedly using "Baguette" still cracks me up. God bless 'em all.

Hermosa Beach Goes Weird On Us

Hermosa celebrates Memorial Day and Labor Day with an outdoor market and a food court every year. New at the event are frozen chesecake slices on a stick which are then dipped into milk and white chocolate and handed to the consumer. I think you could duplicate this at home for considerably less than $5 a slice.

I was delighted to find a stall selling Provencal tablecloths and promptly bought the rectangular size I've been needing. Oddly enough, the vendor lady didn't speak French; she was a Brit.

Urgent shopping having been attended to, we repaired to the Poopdeck where we were lucky enough to snag window seats. We'd barely settled in when around the corner came a couple. He was wearing a pair of rust-colored pants and matching shirt; a thick black wig, held off of his forehead with a hippy headband and dark glasses. All we saw of her was: brown brogues, worn with a near floor-length blonde mink coat, blonde hair and a face covered in a pair of big sunglasses with fat, white frames. Daisy and Gatsby, beaming in on a time trip? The Village People stopping in for a quick one before heading to the big stage?

And then, out on the patio, I spotted a black man, easily 6 ft. 5 in. tall, but only about 150 lbs. wearing a one-piece black jumpsuit? Flight suit? open at the neck with a jaunty black and white polka dot ascot! His dark glasses had chrome yellow plastic frames.

Just then a group of three women and one man entered the patio; all of them seemed to be in good moods... the fat lady was jiving to the music -- pendulous breasts swayed; belly fat jiggled as she groover around to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." She was neither.

Another thing I noticed -- we form lines to board the free buses from a Northrop parking lot to the fair. But both times yesterday, people blithely crashed their way to the bus doors, completely ignoring our polite little squeaks of, "The line is back there" from many of us. They must have been tourists - we're pretty polite down here at the beach. Laid-back, you might even say.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gourmet Groceries

Central Market, 1425 FM1709, Southlake, 817-310-5600 centralmarket.com

This is a great, big supermarket that carries a tremendous number of gourmet/specialty items. An "Espana Pasaporte" celebration was being held there during our visit. On offer were such as a chef-prepared, you-take-it-home Spanish Family Meal of Pollo a l'Ast (rotisserie chicken) roasted fingerling potatoes with Romesco sauce, spinach with currants and raisins, orange fennel salad and Arroz con Leche for dessert -- $17.99 per person.

Or, do-it-yourself and buy marinated chicken breasts - choice of Mojo Verde or Mojo Picon, Mojo Colorado or Pollo en Romesco.

This was a very good promotional idea and it was well thought out -- Sangria mixer, a Santiago Cake (decorated with the Cross of the Order of Santiago, a chunk of Flor d'Esgueva, which is an artisan sheep's milk cheese produced in Penafiel since 1946.

I got into the spirit of things (albeit not Spanish) and bought a squat, square jug of wasabi-horseradish sauce and a half pound slab of Brun-Uuso (which is a baked cheese with garlic in Finland and Sweden.) Directions say to warm it by grilling it outdoors on the bbq or heating it in a skillet. The cheese surface has an already-browned look to it.

This may not be a fair observation, but given the fact that the DFW area has many, many examples of chain restaurants, to find a gourmet grocery store really was something of an adventure.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Came to Laugh, Left With Profound Respect

National Cowgirls Hall of Fame and Museum, 1720 Gendy Street, Ft. Worth 76107 817-336-4475 cowgirl.net

Ft. Worth is very down to earth in this respect: they put the cowgirl museum, the science and industry museum and the modern art museum in one neat section of the city, labelled the whole thing "Cultural Center" and left it at that!

I had thought it would be somewhat like the Rangerettes museum in Kilgore -- all fancy costumes and photos of women in their gowns and sashes, many of them improbably named for their fathers or mother's maiden names thus giving us such as Frankie Lynn, Blinn Joyce and so forth.

The show featured was "No Glitz, No Glitter" but it was a traveling exhibit and therefore quite contained in a pair of rooms in comparison to the two floors of life-as-she-was-lived-back-in-the-day rest of it.

Those women were tough! They ran ranches by themselves at a time when it was hard enough work for a man -- growing, cutting, pitching hay, keeping the horses, cattle and sheep in good stead along with raising children and keeping house. I'd walked in thinking we'd have a bit of a giggle about the showbiz aspects of cow girling - rodeo announcer about a girl who missed three of the four barrels in her event - "Cute outfit, long ride home" - but I walked out with a profound respect for these settlers in a very tough part of the country. Hats (10 gal.) off to the ladies!

And if you do go, plan to have lunch at Railhead Smokehouse, 2900 Montgomery St., Ft. Worth 817-738-9808 We all had chopped beef sandwiches which were moist, but not overly sauced. Barbecue is as subjective as one chili from another or one spaghetti sauce from another - basically, they're all good!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wine Tasting Texas-style

A group of sophisticated wine tasters...

Delaney Vineyards, 2000 Champagne Boulevard (this is the short drive into the parking lot) Grapevine, TX 76051 817-481-5668 delaneyvineyards.com

It was Barbara's birth day and she wanted to celebrate by going to Delaney's Thursday night wine tasting and live music deal. We were all in acquiescence.

It's $10 to get in and have three tastes of their various products (and presumably pay a percentage to the band.) These tastes were proffered in what I can only think of as plastic sputum specimen cups, approximately 1/3 in. deep and 1 1/2 in. wide. Any winemaker (or amateur drinker) should know that what you're going to get a taste of is ... plastic.

After you've sampled the wares, you're supposed to buy a normal glass of any of the wines being tasted for between $8 and $10 per glass. For another $8, you can buy their cheese board which came with four mini-quiches, mozarella and prosciutto roll slices, a single sheet of Kraft American cheese cut in quarters and a pile of what looked like Ritz crackers. "Big" hospitality, my grape-soaked foot!

The following wines were new to me (their descriptive words, not mine)

Cynthiana - a robust dry red wine with blackberry flavors and a deep color. This wine shows off its Norton varietal characteristics.

Sweet Texas Red - a blend of four grapes, supple and smooth with a balanced and consistent finish. Can be served chilled or at room temperature.

Texas Rose (not rose-ay) a fruity, semi-sweet beginning this Petit Verdot, Chardonnay, Muscat blend is a treat for both novice and experienced palates. Serve chilled.

And lose the plastic tasting cups!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Red's Belt-Busting Breakfasts

Adage: You should breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dine like a pauper. The Irish breakfast is a good example of eating like a king in sheer quantity -- Irish bacon - which is Canadian bacon to us; "streaky bacon" is regular bacon to us -- fried or scrambled eggs, fried potatoes and tomatoes baked beans, white or black blood pudding and cold toast.

Red, however, is not far behind. Using a two burner grill, he cranks out bacon, "stick" sausages (as opposed to sausage patties) and bone-in cut ham along with fried eggs, warm rolls or Thomas English muffins with at least three jams on the table. Real butter on a toasted Thomas muffin is nearly more heaven than I can stand, real butter being a company-only dish here at home.

All of this would satisfy even the most demanding glutton, but I had an addition to the menu to try. I took the previous night's leftover Cajun fries, cut them into dice and heated them up in a Pam-sprayed skillet. Got out the leftover Joe T. Garcia's queso (basically light Velveeta with mild salsa) and when the fries were hot, doused them with queso, put a fried egg on top of my portion and dug in.

In theory this should have been a grand idea -- combining Cajun heat with Tex-Mex hot (basically non-existent)but the reality wasn't as good as imagined. I think it was the fries myself. They weren't that good from the git-go.

Red was relieved they were a dud, too. No additional cooking! The grill only has so much space anyhow!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Light Dinner in Texas

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 1304 Pipeline Road, Hurst, TX 76053 fiveguys.com

This chain began in New York and has consistently earned rave reviews from the Zagat.com crew. Trust me -- they're plastered all over the resto's walls! Yew cain't hardly miss'em. Not the best marketing idea I've ever seen -- Texans despise the "effete East Coast."

Five Guys' gimmick is what you want on your burger. There are two lists of ingredients available -- one printed in black and the other printed in red. Black: mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard. If you order "with everything" you will get all of the above. The red print is: relish, onions, raw jalapeno pepper rings,green peppers, A-1 sauce, bbq sauce or hot sauce. Choice of French fries or Cajun style, a powdered dusting of not-so-hot spices. $2.79 for a regular serving, $4.79 for the large.

The menu is disingenuous in this respect: a "hamburger" is a double patty; a "little hamburger" is a single patty. Yes, rather a difference.

I ordered a little bacon hamburger with onions, jalapeno slices and bbq sauce and it was excellent. Thick, juicy meat patty. $4.79 Note for the future: raw jalapeno rings are not nearly as hot as pickled. The Cajun fries were a disappointment, but we took them home anyhow, I had an idea about how to use them with breakfast.

Richie and Red ordered the doubles,and a soft drink for Barbara, who wasn't hungry for a tab that came to $23.87. I'd go for a hamburger anytime, but hold the fries.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Continuing Adventures with Red and Barbara

Brio Tuscan Grill, Southlake Town Square, Dallas 817-310-3136 brioitalian.com

Southlake Town Square is a very planned, very themed community with faux brownstones to dwell in and a vast number of retail shops and restaurants. It has its own good-sized park overlooking a sort of hidden-behind-a-knoll business center. One could live in a brownstone, walk across the park and be at work. Yes, that kind of place - manicured down to the very last blade of grass. Depressing on some level, I thought.

Seated in Brio with our drinks, we had a magic moment (entirely fitting in this themed place) - a rain cell moved across, sending sheets of rain down the window across from our table. It was dim inside and out and we said, "London! In the rain!" And turned to our menus.

Red looked at it, put it down and said, "I want spaghetti and meat sauce." The rest of us searched the menu in vain - no such dish listed. Red was adamant. "This is an Italian restaurant, of course, they have spaghetti and meat sauce!" Barbara tried to entice him away -- "Look at this - Mezza Lasagna and Insalata - lasagna Bolognese with a choice of salad!" No dice. When our server (a good-sized Irish lass, tall and stately) came to take our orders, he very politely asked for spaghetti and meat sauce and to my amazement, she said, "Of course!"

Barbara ordered Pasta Alla Vodka ($14.95), Richie the Pasta Pomodoro with Chicken ($13.25) and I grazed, starting with Capaccio served with field greens in a sweetish dressing, capers, mustard aioli drizzled decoratively across the plate with a dusting of Parmisan-Reggio. Two triangular sheets of a thin flabread made sails over the lettuce ($10.95)

I knew that carpaccio was very, very thinly sliced raw beef, but I'd never seen it served before. It arrived on a huge oval platter that took up all of my side of the table. The platter was border to border raw beef, cut so thinly that you could have read newsprint through it.

I had no idea how to eat it and I said so to our server who smilingly picked up my salad fork, twirled it as one would for spaghetti and handed me the fork, meat curled exactly so around the tines. Spear a caper, stab some of the lettuce and pop it in your mouth! It was delicious! The tart salty capers made the dressing seem sweeter and the raw beef was just ... there, no taste I could discern. The meat was extraordinarily tender.

I forced a taste upon the others, but they didn't want any more than that. I think the raw beef might have alarmed them a bit. Distant memories of mad cow disease perhaps...

My bowl of lobster and shrimp bisque was very good ($5.95), the Caesar salad of cold Romaine leaves was a sensible portion ($4.95) and I enjoyed both very much. But the carpaccio stole my heart...

Happily, you can have some, too, if you live in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticutt, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, NJ, NC, Ohio, Texas, Utah or Virginia!

Brio is taking over our country! Hey, as long as they bring the carpaccio -- let 'em!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oddities in the Sky Mall

This is a magazine of Things You Can Buy While Up In the Air, formally known as "Sky Mall."

A garage door screen kit - put up your garage door and don't worry about bugs while you tune the car! Hooks and loops (Velcro) fasten to the jambs and header of the door. Rolls up when not in use. I car garage - $20; 2-car - $40.

Solar color-changing patio lights. They look like 4 or 6 in. globes, solid colors. 13ft. long with an 11 in. lead - $44 I think they'd be funny and should have ordered some.

Stainless steel wallet - micro-thin sheets of steel (normally used in aerospace endeavors) for your billfold! $90

Canine Genealogy Kit - DNA analysis of your dog's blood to see what breeds are included in the dog's ancestery. $60

Weed Whacker Golf Driver - it looks like a wood, but flip the secret lid open and practice your swing as you mow the lawn! Hey, dude... $40

I'm pretty sure you can Google anything that appeals to you...

Coach cocktail solution - I sometimes like a Bloody Mary and it comes as a little bottle of Skye (?) vodka and an aluminum can of Mr. and Mrs. T's Bloody Mary mix. In the past, I would make 3 Bloody Marys by judicious measures of vodka and the mix. Today I ordered one, asked the flight attendant if it wouldn't be a better idea to swig down some of the mix, empty the vodka into it and shake it with my thumb over the mix hole and then just keep pouring. She said no one had tried it to her knowledge. So I did and it works very well indeed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coming Attractions

Wednesday -- late lunch - Joe T. Garcia's, Ft. Worth
Dinner - Five Guys' Burgers, Hurst,Tz

Thursday - Red's Big Breakfast, Nina's potatoes
lunch Railhead Barbeque, Ft. Worth
dinner - hors d'ouevres, Delaney Vinyards, Hurst

Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum - we went for a good laugh and walked out full of respect for The Ladies. They were tougher than boiled owls.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Road Trip!

Flying to DFW tomorrow morning to see Red and Barbara. Happily I can use her computer and bring you up to speed on such as the Modern Art Museum and Cowgirls Hall of Fame and Museum, both in Ft. Worth. I know you've been quietly panting to hear about both...

Heathcliff Weather

We woke up this morning to wind and rain! The windows were all fogged up. "What's this?" we asked one another. This is a Tuesday morning, not Sunday when this kind of weather is welcome. I began to think of something for an oven-cooked dinner.

And I remembered a wonderful dish we'd eaten just recently -- Yorkshire pudding! Anne and Frank, of Next Door, were flying back to their home in Lancashire, GB, and invited us to join the family for a genuine English Sunday dinner with roast beef and horseradish sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, tender little carrots in a buttery bath, Yorkshire puddings and an English trifle for dessert!

The Yorkshire puddings were so light that they seemed to be in danger of floating up, out of their serving dish. It was necessary to grab one and immediately tether it to the plate with a big splash of (delicious) gravy.

Anne very graciously not only gave me her recipe, but said I could share. Hit your print buttons!

1-3-5 Yorkshire Puddings - Anne said, "I work in ounces so you'll need to convert it."
1 egg
3 oz. plain flour
5 oz. chilled water, divided in two portions

Mix the egg, flour and half of the water, beating well with a balloon whisk. Add the second portion of water and keep beating. The more you beat it, the lighter they'll wind up. Set the batter aside in the refrigerator for a few hous.

Heat the oven to 400 and put a drop of oil in a six-cup muffin tin and put the empty tin in the oven. Let it get sizzling hot. If necessary you can now beat in an extra tablespoon of chilled water, then pour the batter in the muffin cups and bake for around 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them.

Her English trifle had to have been 10 in. deep and somehow six adults ate the whole thing! But politely, of course! So non-U to snaffle at one's food...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Falling In Luff Again...

Trio, 707 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs 760-864-8746 triopalmsprings.com

I always read the hotel room's restaurant directory and I'm glad I did this trip. When I read that Trio serves a crawfish pot pie, I had to try it. Some 25 years ago, we had the happy experience of spending the night at Madewood Plantation, outside of Baton Rouge, and the cook served shrimp pie for dinner. I was hoping for a replay...

It's a big room, broken up by serving stations and screens. We were seated at a long banquet with a small table and a chair and we were seated so closely we could easily follow the conversation of the couples on either side of us. By the end of the meal, we were all exchanging stories and jokes and having a fine, old time.

Back to important things. The crawfish pie could easily have served two. It was served in a heavy bowl with a puff pastry "lid" that broke open easily and sopped up the etouffee sauce which had just the right amount of heat. And they'd been generous with the crawfish. Richie ordered the Shrimp NOLA which came in a red garlic butter sauce over rice.

Once home, I looked up their menu (having been too focused on the pot pie while there) and found only salmon, shrimp, sea bass entrees. No beef, chicken or lamb. Curious, no? Unless "trio" means salmon, shrimp, sea bass only...

Their starters include a hummus dip or fried artichoke hearts with a caper aoli sauce. Clearly the chef is imaginative and, in fact, the restaurant has won food critic awards.

Zo, vile I am not quite in luff I can't argue that I'm not infatuated.

PS There's a new barbecue joint named The Cowboy Way and we couldn't find it. Their ad ran (and is still running) after they moved. Now that we know it's at 2000 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs 760-325-8400 thecowboywaybbq.com we'll see them next time around.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Faded Love....

"As I gaze at the letters that you once wrote to me ... I remember our faded love..."

Roy Yamaguchi got a lot of positive press when he began opening his Roy's restaurants stateside. He began in Hawaii and moved here where he now has 25 restaurants in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii and Illinois.

The words "Hawaiian-Asian fusion" intrigued me. We were in Palm Springs and I discovered that there was one in neighboring Rancho Mirage. I couldn't wait! We got all dressed up (going-on-the-airplane clothes) and away we went.

A waterfall of alohas fell on our ears. By the time we were seated, we'd been aloha'd by: the valet parker, the doorman, the woman at the reception desk and our server as she seated us. I thought we were through with all of the alohas (all very sincerely delivered) but our bus boy couldn't fill our water glasses without sayin "Aloha" first. Happily I knew to say back "Mahalo" which is "thank you." (Mahalo, Tony)

The servers can be playful. One night I was wearing a black outfit. Our server seated us and gently put a napkin to each lap. The server said, "Wait! You must have a black napkin to go with your outfit" and before I could protest, he'd grabbed one off of a neighboring table and floated it over my lap. "There," he said, "That's better."

Okay, excellent service. What about this "Hawaiian-Asian fusion thing? Roy's is heavily invested in fish. There are more fish dishes on the menu than many a seafood resto. On our last visit (Tuesday night) we ordered the lobster pot stickers and the tiger shrimp sticks. Both were excellent. Richie ordered the Kobe hangar steak and I the U-10 hotiron-seared scallops which came with squash risotto with goat cheese and pork belly lardons. Roy's lets you know exactly what you're going to get.

Unfortunately, the risotto sucked. It tasted like a mouthful of kindergarten paste. The "squash" was just julienne threads running through the rice and the goat cheese was not a good idea at all. It was my first and quite possibly last taste of risotto. The sea scallops were fine and Richie cleaned his plate with gusto. He ordered a creme brulee for dessert and I a pineapple upside down cake which was stunningly good. (It was the last night of "one appetizer, one entree and one dessert, your choice off the menu for $35 per person." The tab though was about $120; a drink each before dinner and wine with it.

I think my love is fading because I am getting tired of either having to ask what a sauce contains or finding something I like very much partnered with something I can't stand. Roy's menu descriptions are wordy -- for example: Crunchy Golden Lobster Poststickers with spice togarashi miso butter sauce. Crusty Shrimp with sugar snap peas, gailan squash, Thai chili and tom yuon broth. Happily, the servers do know all of the answers, but it slows down ordereing by quite a bit.

No, I won't take Roy's, Rancho Mirage, off speed dial on the cell phone. But, Roy baby, you're no longer #1 on my list of "We have to eat here while we're there!"

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Strange Sandwich

Bob Brodsky came back from Palm Springs glowing with enthusiasm for Sherman's Deli. So we tried it. Sherman's is a typical Jewish deli -- chopped liver, herring, sky-high sandwiches and numerous items for dessert.

But they do serve something I'd never heard of (nor thought about doing.) It's "Beef and Latkes." Your choice of either corned beef or pastrami, served on latkes, which are much like our hashbrown patties.

Look closely at the photo -- that's not bread, it's latkes!

Beef and Latkes, $13.95. Richie's pastrami sandwich $11.95. We split a tirimisu, $4.95

Sherman's Deli, 401 Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Springs 760-325-1199

Friday, May 13, 2011

Own Your Own Village!

When you've been together a long time, when you've visited a place many times, you develop little "rituals." In Palm Springs that would be snagging a free real estate magazine like Lifestyle Properties and settling down with it out on the terrace at Rock Garden Cafe to wait for my breakfast which is always a half-order of Eggs Benedict with bacon, not ham.

Lifestyle Properties is printed on heavy paper stock and all of the illustrations are 4/c. At first feel, I thought, "Damn! Are they spending money!" And I saw the prices on these houses and promptly quit worrying about their printing bill.

The two most expensive houses naturally caught my eye. And then I noticed that in many cases you aren't buying a stand-alone home, but a complex with separate guest quarters called "casitas" (little houses.)

$8.9 million "Villa Paradiso" (so named by Cary Grant) has two separate guest houses in addition to the main house, a pool house, pool, two sundecks and in the photo it spreads clear across the page!

$17.5 million This complex is seated high up on a mountain side with four levels of living space. It's five minutes from a private jet hangar to the house. Alas, no helicopter pad -- that would be even swifter. Ah well.

The help comes and goes via your private funicular from the street to the house. How cool is that?!

You have a choice of 10 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms in seven different suites and houses, three half-baths, a two-room kitchen and a wine cellar for 5,000 bottles.

You can have Barbra (Streisand) or Tony (Bennett) come to dinner and then serenade the crowd in your own private amphitheatre!

There's a pool and spa and if that's not enough for you, there's a pond (stocked with trout) and a waterfall. Tossed into the deal almost as an after-thought is a separate two bedroom, two bathroom caretaker's house.

The last line of the copy reads "Designed for the individual who desires both true peace, at one with nature, and who wants guests to be mesmerized.

Four levels of living space on a steeply-sided mountain? I wouldn't be mesmerized, I'd be gasping like a fish out of water. Which way to the funicular -- get me outta here!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Grazing at The Springs

Sliders at Tyler's - $3 each.

Pineapple Upside-down Cake with garnish

Hot-Iron Seared Scallops and Squash Risotto, Roy's

Hangar Steak, Roy's

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We're Baaack

Photos tomorrow, the fun's over (sigh.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Road Trip!

We're going to Palm Springs today; home Wednesday. More of a road hop than a trip but...welcome just the same. Hoping the dry desert air will clear up our sinuses which are reacting to the fog most mornings.

Rented the house to a bunch of bikers so that will be fine.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Amusements

First of all, this is the busiest day for restaurants so if you're taking Mom out for a meal, take a second before you leave the house and pull of up the chosen restaurant's menu. Study it and get an idea of what you want which should cut down on the time you have to spend there, twiddeling your fork, waiting to be served.

While you are waiting (some is inevitable) you might like to try a new drink. It's called the "bin Laden" and it's two shots and a splash.

Tomorrow is also the monthly South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club meeting, held at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 214 Avenue I, Riviera Village. Park in the (free) Wells Fargo parking lot up the street. All ladies in attendance will be given a red rose. Incidentally because Mother's Day traditionally falls on the second Sunday of the month and because the jazz club meets every second Sunday ... Mothers will always have lively music to celebrate!

This struck me as hilariously funny and it ran in this morning's Daily Breeze:
PARENTING WORKSHOP Parent educator J. A. Schweikert will conduct an interactive presentation for all parents desiring a solid parenting plan and better communication with their children. Church of the Nazarene, 700 Maple Avenue, Torrance. Fee is $15, 3 to 5:15 Sunday Call 310-375-0440

Friday, May 6, 2011

Too Many Cooks...

The other day, the mail brought Cook's Illustrated, a slim magazine which seems to be a cross between a foodie mag and Consumer Reports. It was founded and is edited by one Christopher Kimball, who lives in Vermont. Living in Vermont's looooong winters may explain a lot... His "kitchen" seems also to be a laboratory. In this issue alone, he tested baking pans, gives us a guide to buying fresh pork, looked into Italain olive oils and in "Equipment Corner" he rates colanders, nonstick-baking pan liners, food injectors and more.

"Notes from Readers" has letters inquiring about such as how to brown meat; are shallots worth the expense (Ans. yes) and eliminating gas from beans.

Here are some of the items in the "Quick Tips" section. Use a pizza cutter to quickly cut up waffles or pancakes for hungry children. Put your standing mixer (and who today even has one?) on a cafeteria tray because clean up is so easy -- just rinse the tray. This sounded like a good idea -- when grating cheese, put the grater and cheese in a big plastic bag, grate your cheese and store the leftovers in the sack. In reality, I don 't grate that much cheese and secondly, a quick brush with the flat of one's hand across the cutting board gets the leftovers.

Some things I didn't understand at all -- use a paper coffee filter to make tea bags or put the filter in your empty tea cup, add tea leaves and boiling water and then lift out the filter. This is, to my way of thinking, making a mountain out of a mole hill...and certainly not cost-effective.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean mushrooms. That is being altogether too picky! But putting a Silpat baking sheet in a box to carry your cake to the festivities does make sense -- the cake stays where you put it., although any time you're carrying a cake, caution is called for.

The magazine is an interesting concept, but too "scientific"for me. I didn't need to know that a boiled russet potato absorbs more vinegar than a Red Bliss. See for yourself at cooksillustrated.com

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

This day, May 5, celebrates the unlikely win by the Mexicans over the French in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. Mexican Independence Day isn't until September 16th which is celebrated as we would our 4th of July or the French would their Bastille Day.

I don't know how to say "Don't drink and drive" in Mexican, but don't do it anyhow.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Who's On First?

A reference to an old vaudeville skit is applicable to what's going on in the media and our government. It is amusing to watch; the plot twists deliciously.

bin Laden is dead.
He was armed and used a wife as a human shield.
Oops! He wasn't armed, no women were killed but one was winged in the leg.
We will show photos as proof.
No, no we'd better not. We don't want to inflame the Muslim extremists. (Er, excuse me, but didn't we just flat out kill your leader? Not that that should annoy you unduly...we're real glad about it.)

Comes now a "chief staffer" (couldn't find a name for this person) of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee who is complaining bitterly that the code name -- Geronimo -belonged to an honorable man and shouldn't be linked to "scum like bin Laden."

Stay tuned for more of the Washington Follies!

THIS JUST IN - A new theory on why the photo won't be shown: a cousin in Florida said a friend remarked to her that they can't -- bin Laden looks like a piece of Swiss cheese -- all over!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Burying bin Laden

My mind set has always been: Muslims live in deserts (and cities, of course) so the announcement that the above had been buried at sea was startling to one of my limited intelligence. "Where did they find some sea?"

Then I read that he had been given a proper religious send-off. From the deck of an American ship, no less. I went posthaste to trust Google and gleaned the following which only address burying males, by the way.

Martyrs are buried in the clothing they died in. All others are bathed, wrapped in shrouds and buried naked.

The body is washed with soap and water an odd number of times -- three or five or seven. The last wash may use scented water.

The body being washed (only by other males) is covered in an "aura," a specific piece of cloth which runs from the belly button to the knees. The procedure is: the washer wraps his hand in a clean cloth and cleans the body of any impurities and discards the cloth. He gently presses on the abdomen to expel any food or air.

The washer starts with the head first, then the right upper body, then the left upper body; then the right lower body and finally the left lower body, disposing of each cloth in turn. The body is dried with a clean towel and placed on top of three white sheets measuring seven ft. by seven ft. each.

If possible, the left hand is placed on the chest and the right hand over the left, in a praying position. The edge of the top sheet is folded over the right side of the body and then the left, going down until all three sheets have been used. The four tie ropes -- each seven ft. long -- are tied above the head, under the feet with two around the body itself.

Tombstones or grave markers are both discouraged. Burial, as there is no embalming, is done as quickly as is feasible. So burial at sea was appropriate in this case.

However, there are quibbles being made about the fact that a sea burial is only appropriate if the person died while aboard a ship or boat.