Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Childhood Dream Come True ...

Once upon a time,  a long time ago in Buffalo, New York, a little boy named Michael Shafer used to respond to his four sister's torments by blithely tossing off the phrase, "B F D."  His mother overheard him and told him to watch it.  The  boy innocently looked at his mother and said, "But I was just saying Buffalo Fire Department." 

Today the Buffalo Fire Department is a restaurant at 1261 Cabrillo Avenue, Torrance.  Shafer was quoted saying that he always wanted to run a place where you could do a business meal and still have a damned good watering hole with beer, wine and a full bar. 

We ambled in yesterday, having found ourselves somewhat peckish after a morning at the Torrance Farmers' Market - tip:   it's much quieter on a Tuesday than on Saturday. 

There is a largish patio out front and another,  bigger on the left side.  The bar comes first and looks like a bar.  The dining room is off of it with mismatched tables and chairs.  Industrial-sized hanging lights bring needed light.  Because all of the wall and ceiling surfaces are wood with a concrete floor, I'm going to bet that it's noisy as hell at night.  Lunch though was quiet.

Among the appetizers (called "Fire Starters" - isn't that special?) I saw
Field greens with a ginger corn dressing
Crispy fried shaved onions - I wanted to trade out the French fries for them, but no go.

There are 24 burgers listed with varying contents and more than a few had the mysterious "L.T.O" listed after them.  I asked our server and she laughed and said, "Lettuce, Tomato, Onion - it confused me, too, when I started here."  I like it that you can substitute a chicken patty or a Portobello mushroom for the beef.  Study that list at 

I asked for the Garlic shrimp burger with wasabi scallion sauce ($16) which came with house fries (the salt/cayenne pepper dusted variety.)  Think "generously-sized  crab cake on a toasted bun."  I would have liked more of the sauce; it was just dabbed on the center of the bun.  Richie decided the Grilled Polish sausage with roasted peppers and onions would suit him and it did.

Shafer has gotten what he dreamed of but I wish he hadn't dreamed in Technicolor - it's all - décor, menu-as-place mat, food - trying just a little too hard... but we'd go back.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Decoding Dementia...

"The Caregivers - A Support Group's Stories of Slow Loss, Courage and Love" by Nell Lake   Scribner   304 pages   $26

Lake is a writer and journalist who was invited to attend a caregiver support group's meetings and write their stories. 

The statistics are certainly grim for both caregiver and care receiver.   Lake points out that ironically enough, we are living much longer, but that spending much of that longer time dying of protracted diseases.  More than 5 million people have dementia and it's projected that by 2050 there will be 15 million living with the disease.  Of the 43 million Americans caring for another, 18 per cent of that number are adults caring for a family member who is older than 50.  Informal caregivers (family members) are the largest source of long-term care in the U.S. and they contribute nearly half a trillion dollars in unpaid labor. 

The book follows the group through the four seasons and tells of their problems, solutions and fatigue. 

I read along with interest, trying to determine what would be the most upsetting change if dementia struck someone close to me.  Dementia at onset doesn't change one's external appearance (except for normal aging) but the interior presence is an entirely different person.  And because I am unimaginative  (you've only to read this column regularly) I expect such things as:  the house stays on the street; my truck doesn't run off with an SUV and my friends and family are all just the same as they've ever been - ready for a laugh or a drink or a meal out.   The interior changes would probably do me in because I would want to put them back, so to speak, in their proper place on the shelves. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

But Once You Analyze It...

I'd been looking for a new place, being thoroughly familiar with the menus at Hudson House, Tin Roof Bistro and Charlie's, a NY Joint.  I voted for Baleenkitchen, a part of the Portofino Inn, 260 Portofino Way, Redondo.  310-372-1202.

I thought the marina view through numerous sailing masts would be very nice and I was impressed by some of the menu items as well.  Lobster slider?  They are $7 a slider and I found that if you ordered 10 of then, you'd have a full-sized sandwich for an extraordinary amount of money.  I just wanted to taste one and it was so adorable that I almost couldn't bite into it. 

The "loaded" house-made potato chips supported a storm of Danish blue  cheese, chives and bacon ($8.)  We shared them and I shared with the waiter that it might all work out better if the chips were tossed with the dressing like a salad or if the dressing was thinned out a little and served on the side.  The chips quickly became fold-aways. 

Next up for me was the Shrimp Ajillo, billed as being shrimp in a spicy garlic sauce.  The sauce was very oily and had a little heat, but by no means overpowering.  

Richie's skillet-roasted half-chicken was served on a bed of ratatouille.($22) and he later commented that it was a small-sized bird, too.  I finished with a Caesar salad, half portion $6.  

There is a short stairway - no more than four steps from the entrance.  This is to provide a higher, better view of the King Harbor marina and all of the sailboats that live here.  We've been here for Christmas Eve dinners, years ago.  We liked the decorated masts which blurred beautifully in the etched glass windows.

Today the enormous sweeps of glass are gone;  instead there are many-paned windows.   The bar, on your right as you enter and was fairly raucous for a Saturday night; the dining room is on the left where it was much quieter and the lit fire created a friendly glow.

This is a restaurant test for me - whether the table is high enough to cross one's legs underneath it.  At the moment I discovered this,  I had no idea I would be spending an average of 15 to 20 minutes between courses which made for a really looong evening.  Sean the server was affable enough, but the kitchen must have been deep into the Quaaludes.  No way were they in the weeds. 

Dispirited by the slow, slow service, I even found fault with the view.  Once you've seem maybe 50  yacht masts, you've pretty much maximized their ability to amuse.

Would we go back?  Maybe, but probably not.  We live here and can see sailboat masts pretty much anytime we want to see them.  The Bloody Mary Bar might tempt me to return if only to taste "house-infused bacon vodka."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

No Loss To The Gene Pool

This item caught my eye in this mornings  ...

A 32 year old woman was  texting and taking selfies while DRIVIMG when she crossed the center line, crashed into a sanitation truck and died. 

All it's possible to do is simply shake one's head in wonder.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Beach Cities Sanitation Engineers

For largely being concrete (or sand) the beach cities have an amazing variety of wild life - raccoons, squirrels and possum. 

Possum look like really ugly rats.  They are not related to rats, however, but to koalas and kangaroos and are the only mammal found in the U.S. equipped with pouches to raise their young.  The female gives birth to as many as 20 babies in a litter, but they are only about the size of honeybees.   Half of them don't survive.  As the survivors mature a bit (after about three months) they grow more athletic and climb in and out at will.   

Their diet helps us all as they eat an assortment of bugs, left out pet food, dead animals aka road kill, over-ripe fruit or berries.  They are said to have a great immune system, are more resistant to rabies than other mammals and can even survive a rattlesnake's bite.  They are said to be more intelligent than dogs, but the jury is still out on that one.  They are quiet and do not bother people very much, but then again, they only live for 2 to 4 years. 

All of the above was in the newsletter sent out from Dennis Hartley, Re/Max realtors.  Of course, he wants to laud the possum!  He's trying to sell houses here, people. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

A New Low in My Life...

Manhattan Dental Clinic (my dentist) sent me a birthday e-card.  And I was thrilled!  How sad is that?!

Astrology on My Birthday

Taurus the Bull  April 21st to May 21st   (My Sign)
Silent and quiet, they simply want to be left alone and given their monumental stubbornness they usually are.  Cheap as they are, they will stir themselves to take advantage of a bargain.  Taurus enjoys the power of decision making,  but turns the scut work over to subordinates.  While others turn wrenches, the bull sits on his haunches and smokes a cigar.  They have an additional fault - as if they needed any more -- they have absolutely raging tempers.   Famous Taurus include Harry Truman, Adolf Hitler, Al Pacino and self.

Gemini the Twins  May 22 to June 21      (Rising Sign)
Fast as greased lightning, these two-faced escape artists are shifty-eyed with receding hairlines that think fast on their feet.  They have to as they are often on the run from the law.  Born with a phone in each hand, they are always early or late, never on time for anything.  They change their minds faster than a prom queen in the back seat of a '57 Chevy.  Born blackmailers, they have selective memories and are shifty by nature.  All Gemini's have a nickname and in some instances a police record.   Camelot and Jack Kennedy with a girl in every closet is a good example. 

Sagittarius the Archer   November 23 to December 21     (Moon)
Too honest or stupid for their own good, the Sag says the first thing that pops into his mind.  Happy and gregarious - "childlike" many say, they have no knowledge of financial matters whatsoever.  They are gamblers with bad tempers.  Unable to keep a secret, they are also unable to tell a joke.  Prone to momentary enthusiasms a Sag will deny loving words said previously and ask, "Huh?"  Examples are Frank Sinatra and William Buckley, Jr.

Aren't you glad you know me?   LOL!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Henny Penny! The Sky(line) Is Falling!

Vanity Fair, assumed to be the first reading choice of erudite New Yorkers, is runny a scary "expose" titled "Too Rich, Too Thin, Too Tall?" referring to the seven new skyscrapers currently going up or waiting to go up in midtown Manhattan. 

These condo-apartment buildings have to be built on the skinny side so as not to impair the views from all of the other skyscrapers.  One will be only 60 ft. wide! 

The 96th floor of 432 Park Avenue will be the highest residence in the Western world.  It sold for $95 million dollars.  The tallest building will rise to  1. ,422 
f t.; the runt of this litter only 700 ft.   

The interiors cost/will cost $11,500 per sq. ft. up from the original price of $7,000 sq. ft. which is still three times higher than existing luxury residences.

Who has that kind of money these days?  The article cited the one per cent of the one per cent group (quite possibly only three people.)  A clue is found at the developer's Web site which can tempt the buyer in English, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, French and Italian.  The song in the sales spiel?  "Dream A Little Dream Of Me." 

The buyers are expected to live in their homes in the sky perhaps for as long as three weeks at a time.  These buildings are being bought up by enormous corporations as an investment.

I think they're all crazy - developers and buyers.  Did no one ever explore what's underneath the sidewalks of Manhattan?  I did and it is layers and layers of:
subway tunnels and trains
a steam system and pipes
cables and conduits
sewage pipes
water pipes
gas mains and pipe

If Manhattan ever has even a 3.0 earthquake, down will come it all.  There is no longer the bedrock that existed back in 1909 when the spires of the city began to rise. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


"The Astronaut Wives Club" by Lily Koppel   Grand Central Publishing   271 pages   $28

The club began with the first group, the original seven, in 1959, followed by the New Nine in 1962 and finishing with The Fourteen in 1963.  All the astronauts worked on the Gemini program which concluded at the end of three years.

Largely abandoned by their husbands who spent months away from them training, the wives eventually banded as a supportive group.  Their membership was clarified when each of them wore a gold link bracelet with a little gold whistle on it - "If you need us, just whistle!"

Space exploration was a subject unknown to everyone involved.  NASA, very much the ruling body, wanted to present a picture of strong, brave American men readily dashing off into space, applauded by loving wives and cooing children. 

"The Perfect Family" was what NASA sought and of the first seven wives, Annie (Mrs. John) Glenn was the role model that NASA loved.  In 2010, she turned 90, having spent 50 years in the spotlight as Perfect NASA Wife." 

Real people and their actions and words usually make for a good story and this is no exception.

"You Can Date Boys When You're 40" by Dave Barry   Thorndike Press   239 pages   No price listed.

Dave Barry can be very funny, but it's patchy funny.  Most of the time his humor is that of a 14 year old boy.  Reading Barry is sort of an acquired taste.  But in fairness, most of this book was actually funny ... perhaps he is maturing?

On flying:  the scanner "sees" through your clothing and takes a picture of your nakedness and then the photo is sent to a roomful of TSA agents who vote on whether to put it up on FaceBook.
His daughter:  Wife Michelle talks to her and then relays information to Dave such as "whether she's happy, what grade she is currently in, whether she has had any major operations, etc."  This seeming utter lack of parental interest stems from the fact that he isn't interested in why her 1,177th friend is mad at friend 2,005  and she isn't interested in the Miami Dolphins.

A large chunk of the book is his advice on how easy it is to become a best-selling author.  Trust me - don't read this part. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Locals! Mark Your Calendars!

Saturday, April 6th
1 to 3 p.m. FREE celebration of the City's founding in 1892.  Imagine being 122 years old?  302 Flagler Lane, site of the Queen Anne House (historical museum) and the Morrell House Living Museum.  The dog park is across the street on Flagler - give your dog a run and tour the houses.

Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4th 
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. FREE "Railroad Days" featuring 13,000 sq. ft. of covered space containing a dozen model trains and tracks including a scenic garden railroad. 
Trackless train rides for the kids. too!  Fullerton station, 120 E. Santa Fe Avenue, Fullerton, CA

Saturday, May 10th
Open House day at the Redondo Beach Fire Stations   FREE
The firemen will be demonstrating the equipment, touring taxpayers through the station and traditionally offering all guests a free hot dog and bun.   The guys are particularly kind to small children and indulge them by letting them use the hoses.  Bring a raincoat.   I think it runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. which is the City's Website didn't say.  Or else I didn't see it...
RBFD #1  401 S. Broadway (corner of Pearl)
RBFD #2  2400 Grant Avenue
RBFD #3  Harbor Patrol, 280 Marina Way

Monday, April 21, 2014

Beware a New Disease - Perfection Anxiety

The words are self-explanatory but the meaning is not for the likes of us.  It is a term to describe those who have 15 houses, yachts in three oceans (nice touch that,) planes, plastic surgery and house accounts with the designers, well -- what's left to yearn for? 

The.  Very.  Best.  Nothing less than utter perfection is allowed in the front door.  A case in point:  Petra (daughter of Bernie Ecclestone) and her husband James Stunt (not making that name up) have purchased Van Dyke's last self portrait (he conveniently died a year after completing it) for $20 million dollars.  The National Portrait Gallery, London is fighting to buy it and keep it in England being as Van Dyke was the first portraitist of the land. 

They apparently turned to this purchase after having a $19 million wedding where the bride swanned around in a $130,000 Vera Wang wedding dress among the guests sipping Chateau Petrus ($6,000/bottle.)  Then the happy couple sauntered into the sunset but the article was unclear as to whether it was their new house (Aaron Spelling's old one)  purchased for $85 million or to Petra's London house in Chelsea ($90 million.)

The dilemma now swirling around the unfortunate couple would seem to rotate around, "How do you top this?  Why don't we feel better?  I mean, look at all we've got!"

A great many people can remember specific financial successes that didn't amount to a great deal of money (when I sold my first article and photos for $200!) or being the only kid in school that had a $5 a month allowance! 

I suppose that "the Christian thing" to do would be to feel sorry for them.  But I can't.  They've bought their way into  Perfection Anxiety;  let'em wallow in it.  Somewhere else preferably than the pages of Vanity Fair.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


When I was a kid in Kansas City, Mo., it was customary on Easter Sunday to answer the phone by saying, "He is risen!" and the caller would reply "He is risen indeed!" and the conversation would go on from there.

Of course, at Thanksgiving it was personally satisfying for me to pick up the ringing phone and say, "Gobble, gobble, gobble - (falsetto)  Help me! Help me!"

More to Kansas City than you thought, right? 

Enjoy the day, family and friends.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter and Ham

It's amusing to see how many of our national holidays are linked to a specific food item - Thanksgiving = turkey, for example..  Easter and ham together evolved as a result of pre-Christian thinking that eating pigs was good luck. (Not so much for the pig though.)

Thursday afternoon - well ahead of the rush we thought - we went to the Ham Supreme shop we've been going to for years.  It was gone.  Vanished without a trace.  Now what?

The only other "ham store" we could think of was Honeybaked Hams, out past the Torrance airport.  We rarely go that far east so had no idea if this would be a wild ham chase or not.   But it was still there, doling out hams as in days of yore. 

An employee sat out front behind a card table.  She was issuing numbers to the customers.  She marked ours "1X" when I told her five pounds of ham, no bone.  Foot traffic in and out of the store was brisk and this was only Thursday afternoon!  Lurid images flickered as to what it would be like on Saturday!  Crazed customers clutching 25 lb. hams for dear life or swinging them like cudgels...

The employee told us to go to any open cashier and hand over the slip of paper.  She bounced her clip-on bunny ears in good humor and gestured toward the door. 

It turns out that Honeybaked doesn't sell ham steaks or slices of meat.  You have to buy a bone-in ham.  I complained gently  that  bone-in wastes a lot of ham, but the nice young man assured me that I would get a rump cut, not a leg, and that there would be very little bone. 

He recommended taking the ham out of the refrigerator an hour or two before planning to use it; room temperature is what is sought.  If you feel you have to heat it -- and your oven is already full of other dishes, put the ham in a slow cooker for awhile. 

Honeybaked had a nice touch ... all of the female employees wore bunny ears; none of the men.  Since Honeybaked sells $450 million worth of ham (18 million pounds a year) they could spring for bunny ears for the guys, too.  Not all of them, of course.  Just to the guys that want bunny ears to go with their earrings.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Last Friday in Lent - Yippee!

Richie adheres to the old Catholic custom - no meat on Friday - possibly to ensure he gets fish on a rather more frequent basis. 

This is quick and could hardly be easier...

Tuna Salad
1 can tuna (any kind you like; water or oil)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
8-10 pimento- stuffed olives, chopped
1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped
Mayonnaise to mix
Macaroni - the amount that you want

Chop everything up, mix in the mayo and add the drained noodles.  Stir well and eat. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Not What You Seem to Be? Shock and Horror at the Fish Counter

I have always loved lobster.   A trip to Lobster Village, south of Tijuana, Baja, was always a brief glimpse into heaven. 

Now Fish Shop, Hermosa Beach, has just opened on Pier Avenue.  Talk about a discouraging name...Fish Shop.   Flat, bare, no adornment, no cute...

Richie grabbed a take-out menu and I read it intently.  No!  Could this be?  Lobster Lumpia! 

You may never have heard of "Lumpia" because its home is Hawaii.  Happily, I have a friend who has visited Hawaii, loved the food and was always up for lunch at a local place.  The two best (full-service bar) are gone and they took their Lumpia with them so lobster Lumpia was a double find. 

Then came a most unwelcome discovery that popped up while reading a tapas cookbook.  The author suggests monkfish as a substitute for lobster.  How could this be?  I thought lobster and shrimp were the only things that couldn't be duplicated! (Shrimp is the only meat I'll order in an Asian restaurant.)

Research informed me that monkfish or anglet or lotte can all be used as substitute meat for lobster.  The tapas writer suggested monkfish because it only has one bone (presumably the spine) and when said bone is removed you will have a pair of filets.  Clean then, cut little slits in the flesh and daub in sweet paprika.  Bake it in butter and lemon juice for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.   Viola! the writer exulted, it looks just like lobster!

I can see using a substitute to save money (I can always see saving money.)  Lobster is never a bargain and the price - for what you get - is exorbitant.  The ratio of meat to shell is 1.4.

This willy-nilly substitution of monkfish for lobster unnerved me considerably.  By law, faux crab aka Krab have to be labeled as such.  But these monkfish seem to be able to run around, flitting into this dish or that with impunity.

So now the dilemma - visit Fish Shop and dare to order the Lobster Lumpia or make Richie order it and then dissect the contents, looking for paprika stains?   Yeah, why not - he's an omnivore anyhow.  Little monkfish - if that's what it is - won't hurt him.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Latest Thing in Selfies!

I certainly can't call it "news" -  photographer Robert Cornelius took one of himself in   (wait for it)   1839!  Cameras were so slow at that time that he had time to take off the lens cap, run in front of the camera, pose, click off the shot and recap the lens. 

in 1914 the Grand Duchesse Anastasia, age 13, clicked off a selfie and was apparently the first teen to do so enabled by the invention of the Kodak box camera 'way back in 1900.

In more dignified times (O where have they gone?) they were called self portraits.  It wasn't until 2002 that the "selfie" went into common use. 
So selfies aren't exactly breaking news despite what a bunch of teenagers and narcissists may think.  But thanks to their devotion to themselves, I just may be in for a big fat royalty fee with my sensational idea.

I'll share it with you, Gentle Readers, because I know that none of you would be low enough to steal it.  (It should go without having to be noted that if you did, my wrath would be horrific and my ways of revenge limitless)  Ya ready?

Selfie Paper Dolls!  Here's how it goes - put on your best (or in some cases cleanest) underwear and pose - stand up straight, arms outstretched, head up - now SMILE!  Okay you've got the doll part.

Now go through your closet selecting favorite outfits.  Don't forget seasonal changes!  When you have a good selection, lay them out on a flat surface in the same arm and leg positions as your original pose.  Click away, print it all up and use your scissors to cut everything out.  Use a business- sized envelope as your very own dolly's briefcase. 

Tuck the envelope in your backpack and discover the fun you can have with other selfie paper doll creators.  You can borrow outfits, trade them and never go near a fitting room!  I can see Selfie Parties - think Mary Kay or Avon. 

It's a money saver at the clothing store, too -- you'll never buy a mini-skirt when you should be wearing a maxi. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"A Taste of Something Special!"

The heading is the title of a cook book issued by American Airlines in 1993.  American's slogan is "Something special in the air" and I think they expected us to recognize the tie-in and go "Ohhhh - how precious!"  (I didn't, but feel free...)

It's propaganda but politically correct, published on recycled paper.  A thin strip of copy divides every page in it luring us with blandishments like, "Our American Flagship Service (translation: the meal service for the big spenders in 1st and Business) seems to shorten the distance between East and West coasts."

The not-so-opaque message is:  "Come aboard!  Get blasted on our wonderful selections of wines and hard stuff and let us cram some lobster down your throat while we cruise at 36,000 feet!"

To which I would add a big snort of disbelief.  While it's true the flight attendants  are more than willing to cheerfully over serve you in the liquids department, it's only because they want you to be a quiet drunk and go to sleep and stop bothering them. 

And speaking of lobster force feeding ... while they list Lobster and Corn Chowder and Lobster Fajitas, the only lobster I've ever seen aboard an airplane was on Air France, Los Angeles to Paris..

American touts it's Cream of Yuca Soup which is fine for them, but what is a yucca and do I want one in my mouth?  Wouldn't it be prickly?

Steak Louisiana (which uses Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Steak Magic which is certainly not "chef-y" and involves uncapping a spice jar and sprinkling) or Peanut-Crusted Chicken with Roasted Banana Honey Sauce ... of course, today you won't find a single peanut anywhere a plane.  I wonder if a gluten ban will be next?

But they've kept the traditional American Airlines dessert which is a great ball of Haagen-Dazs ice cream with your choice of sauces - strawberry or butterscotch or chocolate..  My choice is a shot of Amaretto or Kahlua instead.  (shrug) Any sacrifice to make the F/As happy ...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Are You Sure That Was Me?

It seems unlikely, but my sister in the throes of spring cleaning sent me a recipe for making your own catsup that has my scrawl across it - "Delicious - easy to do!"

It's dated September 15, 1986.  At that point in time we'd been married three years and I was 46.  There is an amazing amount of difference between what one is willing to do at that age and now, some 30 years later.

Particularly when you consider the opening direction which is "Take 10 lbs. of tomatoes..."  I cannot believe that I made anything - ever - with that huge amount of tomatoes. 

I pass it along to you, Respected Readers, because before we know it, we will be deep into summer and up to our eyebrows with fresh tomatoes.

10 lbs. ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup vinegar
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar
1 teas. EACH:  cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, baking powder
a pinch of nutmeg

Cook the tomatoes and onion together in a large stainless steel pot over moderate heat for 30 minutes or until both are tender. 

Put a strainer inside another big pot and pour the tomato pot contents through it.  Then whisk in all of the spices, sugar and vinegar.  Let it simmer for an hour and a half or two hours, cool and bottle it. 

I must have been quite insane back then ... (hastily) but I'm all right now!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

One Week From Today - HAM FEST!

But I'm not getting a bone-in ham because the ham people are lazy and don't spiral cut it all the way to the end.  We wind up with about 4 in. of ham that one can't get because it's a solid mass. 

If you're having ham, you really should have Pineapple Dressing to go with it.  This is so easy to make and so simple that I can make it.  If it's that easy, c'mon!

one can of 19 oz. crushed pineapple with juice
5 cups cubed bread
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
nutmeg or cinnamon or allspice (use all three - what the hell, right?)

Cream together the butter and sugar and beat in the four eggs, one by one.  Add the breadcrumbs and the pineapple and seasonings.  Mix up well and let it sit for a minute so the bread can absorb the liquids.  Bake in a covered casserole dish until puffy and golden on top.

This is a fairly sweet dish so the vegetable should have a little zing! to it.  Asparagus should be in season now so how about steaming some and serving it with two sauces? 

Lemon Sauce - mix lemon juice into a great clump of mayonnaise and stir well.  Set aside and make Red Sauce which is really more of a salad dressing than anything else.

1 slice Red Onion, finely chopped
2 T capers, finely chopped
olive oil and red wine vinegar
Mix it all up and set it next to the lemon sauce with a big dish of steamed asparagus. 

Asparagus virtually cleans itself when you grasp either end of a spear and bend it - crack!  and the woody end will be gone.  The asparagus knows! 

For more contrast - (box) cornbread with corn kernels and chopped, pickled jalapenos added to the batter.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

More Outrage

It was the Daily Breeze's turn to drop my jaw over my cereal this morning.

The article said that Los Angeles councilman Jose Huizar's legal bills in a sexual  harassment suit (to the tune of $200,000) brought by a female co-worker will be paid by the City.  This is right after the City stepped up and paid $185,000 to the driver of the other car with whom Huizar had an accident in his city-owned car. 

And the absolute topper?  This clown is running for re-election after filling Vilaraigosa's spot for two years plus two more four year terms on his own! 

Despite the fact that I live in Redondo Beach and not Los Angeles City, and I won't have to pay a dime, this is outrageous!  NEVER VOTE FOR AN INCUMBENT. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Warning: Editorial

The LA Times this morning managed to irritate me before I was halfway through my cereal.  The front page of the Calendar section reads:

Will Colbert's truthiness survive the "Late Show" switch?

TRUTHINESS?  What are these people playing at?  I looked it up and discovered that it is a word "invented" by comedian Stephen Colbert himself.

I didn't think there would be a definition, but there is and it's this:

Truthiness is a quality assigned to a person claiming an argument is right based on a gut feeling and has nothing to do with logic, evidence or intellectual examination or facts. 

That sounds about right for a politician.

While we're still telling the truth, this is a vastly irritating word and Richie used to use it all the time.  That word is "truism" and is defined as:  A claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be not worth mentioning. 

In my world (and it's a small one) something is true or not true.  Period.  "Oh, it's true because I feel like it is" has no place in thought or rational discussion.  You can say, "I think" or "I feel" but you can't assert something without having proof. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Chemist In the Kitchen

A reference to Christopher Kimball, owner and publisher of Cook's Illustrated.

Example:  Dear Mr. Kimball - I've heard that getting salt in frying oil is bad.  Why is that?

Ans.  The theory is that ionic substances, such as table salt, can initiate the formation of small amounts of free radicals when heated in oil to high temperatures.  These free radicals spur reactions that create impurities in the oil and as a result, lower the oil's smoke point which means it can be reused for frying.

Far, far above my downy blonde head.  Give me useful over "Huh?"

Uh oh, your brown sugar is now a rock in the box?  Whip out your coffee grinder and go to it.

Tongs getting tangled up in the other things in the drawer?  Use the plastic ring from a milk or orange juice container to keep them closed.

To reheat leftover rice, pour 1/2 in. water in a pot, put the strainer lined with a coffee filter into it, add the rice and let steam for five minutes.  Then fluff it up with a fork and serve it. 

That's useful.  And I was able to understand it!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Let's Go Make Fun of - Aries!

Will butt heads with anyone from God on down.  Pushy, selfish and fearless, they yell until people give in just for peace. 

Belligerent to all and charitable toward none, their movements are quick, capable and they are credit card abusers. 

They only have friends OR enemies and the latter outnumber the former by the millions.

Gifted in gab and daubed with ignorance, they can talk for hours on subjects they know nothing about.  They are blind, deaf and dumb to anything they don't want to know and fail to recognize defeat when it is staring them in the face. 

They forget the past, have no interest in the future and are  only interested in today.

Famous Aries include Bette Davis and Nikita Krushchev (except I think he's dead and I know for sure she is.  See how they ended up? )

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What On Earth Were They Thinking?

Show business people come up with some very strange names for their children.  What brought this to my attention was the unexpected death of Bob Geldorf's youngest daughter, the late Peaches Honeyblossom Geldorf.  She is being mourned by sisters Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lilly and Fifi Trixiebelle.   Bob, the father's nickname, was originally christened Robert Frederick Zenon Geldorf. 

Those who have been named according to the city in which they were conceived (such a nice thought for a child, no?)
Paris Hilton
Brooklyn Beckham

Others are just totally insane.  May I present -
Ace Knute Johnson, son of Jessica Simpson
Blue Ivy Carter, spawn of Beyoncé and Jay.Z
Kim and Kanye's North West
Gwyneth Paltrow's Apple?  Said the proud mother, "It sounded so sweet" adding that it is also a Biblical reference. 
Jade Jagger  Mick and Bianca's daughter. 

Craziness pure and simple.  I wonder if these parents actually call the child by those names?  Poor things - it'll be a long time until they're 18 and can legally change them.  In the meantime, I wish them well - they're going to need all the good will they can muster.

Monday, April 7, 2014

In Which I Make the Local Paper

This morning I was pleased to find the column I wrote in the Daily Breeze.  Google  Nina Murphy + My Turn and it's the one headed "No such thing as too much ice cream"

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Counting Down the Sundays

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday followed by Easter, or as it's called here, Ham Fest!  I swore last year that I would never get another bone-in ham and I'm sticking to it -- too much waste.

We're too old and the back yard is too overgrown and lumpy to have an Easter egg hunt.  Still Bon Appetit is making an effort to help those who will with several recipes that involve using hardboiled eggs.   I neither endorse nor whole-heartedly agree with their choices, but ... to each his/her own.

Cook 1/2 lb. of campanelle or other short pasta, drain and set aside, reserving a cup of the cooking water.

1/4 cup olive oil in a skillet - add 4 anchovy fillets, 2 finely-chopped garlic cloves, 2 T capers and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

Cook until the anchovies dissolve and then add the pasta to the pan along with 1/4 cup Parmesan and 2 T lemon juice. 

Then add four coarsely-grated hardboiled eggs and 1/2 cup parsley.  If you need the pasta water to coat the sauce, that's what it's there for.

Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 T za'atar* and 2 teas. lemon juice
Toss in 4 chopped hardboiled eggs, 1/2 cup chopped green olives 2 T cilantro leaves, 2 T chopped red onion and 2 T toasted pine nuts.  Serve on toast.
*  za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice of basil thyme, thyme and savory seasonings. 

Here are a couple of my ideas for leftover hardboiled eggs: 

We learned this in 8th grade in Home Economics class:
Make a white sauce (butter and flour heated and mixed, start beating in cold milk until you've got a "gravy")
Peel and separate the yolk from the eggs, setting it aside and chop the whites and add them to your sauce.  Keep heating and grate the yolks into the sauce for a pretty dish.  Serve over toast.

For a quick version, heat half a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, chop up the eggs and put in with the soup.  Do not dilute the soup.  Sere over toast.

Hardboiled eggs shelled and halved.  Take out the yolks and mix with mayonnaise and chopped, pickled jalapenos.

Or save yourself some time and effort and don't have an Easter egg hunt...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Even Though the Superbowl Is Over...

Avocados get huge notice on Superbowl Sunday.  The rest of the year?  Maybe an order of guacamole in a Mexican restaurant once in awhile

This is kind of too bad because avocados fight high blood pressure and decrease total serum cholesterol levels. 

They are a lot more flexible than Just To Make Guacamole.  In the Philippines, Brazil, Viet Nam and Ethiopia, they are mixed with milk or water, a little sugar and pureed for a dessert!  American vegetarians prize them as a meat substitute - their texture. 

Bon Appetit touts them for lunch at your desk.  Some of their suggestions:

A couple of rye crisps with avocado mashed into them with a dash of lemon juice

Sliced and put over rice with a sprinkling of salt, pepper and chili flakes; a jolt of soy sauce

Cube the avocado, slice up a cucumber and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and lime juice

Richie loves them and in a pinch I've been known to halve one and serve it with a dollop of salad dressing inside when he grumbles, "What? No salad?"  It's a super fast way to placate him  They're also good "cups" for tuna or chicken or egg salad.   

And there's nothing wrong with guacamole!  Serve it with thin slices of radish for dipping and save some calories!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Astrological Signs With An Edge

Richie has been digging around again.  Today's fragment is a piece I wrote for National Dragster in 1991.  Since Aries, Taurus, Cancer are all among the missing I'll start with -

Virgo the Virgin  August 24th to September 23rd
Lonely and ignored because they are so picky and precise, if given the opportunity, the Virgo will talk the hind leg off of a donkey which is perhaps the only thing that will stand still and listen to their endless carping about others, the state of their own health (near death at all times) and a lit of their medicine chest items. 

Uncomfortable in crowds due to their hypochondriac belief that a germ is just about to land at any time, they love to criticize others, but hate being criticized themselves. 

Virgos are good for something, however, if you can shut them up.  They love doing detail work all by themselves with no assistance.  Free to take endless time over nitpicking details, the Virgo happily works on and on and on. 

Virgo examples are Lyndon Johnson (remember his gallbladder scar) and Greta Garbo.

Libra, the Scales  September 24 to October 23rd

Naïve, gullible and chatty, the Libra balances being warm, friendly and open with cold, quarrelsome and a closed mind.  They love to play peace maker in an argument and then start it up taking the other side.

Alternating periods of intense activity (in bars and bordellos) the Libra then collapses and would not move a muscle if set on fire.  Briefly, they will pursue anything that looks easy.  Unable to be decisive they often can't decide which side of the truck to get into and thus lose major time on the start line.

Their favorite remark is "On the other hand..."

Libra examples are Brigitte Bardot and Oscar Wilde

You know what your sign is; don't sit back and laugh at others because your turn  will come - unless you're an Aries, Taurus, Gemini or Cancer.  You lucked out.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A New Source

That would be

The online version of the Daily Mail is aimed at us over on the other side of the pond.   That means that when Obama photos, for example, are not run by our main stream media (MSM) they are available here. 

There are all kinds of sensational tabloid-type news bits as well.  I know, Drudge runs them, too.  Richie turned up his nose, preferring the BBC news broadcasts, but sensationalism, sadly, is part of life today.  And it further proves (should any proof be necessary at all) that people all over the world are crazier than betting a NASCAR race.

This mornings front page is a listing of the top 100 restaurants in the world.  Great Britain got a dozen; the French got none which is fairly surprising news, at least to me.  

You will not be surprised to learn that Richie and I have never visited any of them.   

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Afternoon Delights For The Retired

We were headed home from running errands yesterday.  It was nearly 4 p.m.  Richie suddenly turned left.  Puzzled, I said, "Uh, this is not the way to the house..." wondering if he was having a senior moment and if so, how far was I from the ignition key and would my seat belt stretch that far...

"Let's have a beer," he replied pulling into a space right in front of Suzy's.  Since we were there, I shrugged and followed him in.  We got the two seats at the bottom of the bar.  The man on Riche's left turned out to be very friendly.  In our conversation, we learned that he was born in London,  (and still had the accent) but has been an American citizen for years.  He went on to tell his that his daughter had died in February at age 48 from the effects of Type 1 diabetes.  Last Saturday, the bar featured a charity auction and raised $3,500 for Type 1 diabetes research.

Tony the Brit launched into raptures at good meals served both locally and in London.  Tidbits he let slip - he made his first $100,000 20 years ago.  He once acted in a production on the London stage.  H's best friends with the Michael that owns The Depot in Torrance.  And that these were delicious at the charity auction -
Fresh jalapenos, split and de-seeded
Cream cheese to spread on one-half of the jalapenos
1 Lil' Smokie's sausage on top of the cream cheese

Put the empty jalapeno on top of the filled like  a lid, wrap the whole thing in bacon and barbecue.  Dunno about the sausage which is largely fat, salt and gristle in my mind.

A nice time was had by all.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon either.  It was ... informative.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

For Realsies

April Fool's Day is celebrated in the US, France, Scotland, Iran (!) Spain, Portugal, India and Denmark.  All of the celebrations are similar in nature - playing jokes and practicing tomfoolery on unsuspecting others. 

No one knows for absolutely positive, but it is widely believed to have begun being celebrated in the late 1500s when the Gregorian calendar was adopted (evidently internationally) and the New Year's start was moved back to January 1st, away from the old date of April 1st.

This is a very old trick - you only need a spool of thread and a needle.  Thread the needle, pull up your shirt or sweater and push the needle through the fabric.  Nestle the spool somewhere convenient (inside your bra is a good spot but that kind of rules guys out) and take the needle off of the thread.

Kind-hearted people will come along and say, "Oh, you've got a thread" and helpfully lift it off - except it just keeps coming and coming...