Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dressing For Success

It's really not warm enough here in Southern California to be advocating "a nice salad for dinner."   But material is scarce on the ground today so here we go.

1 small garlic clove, finely grated (or one half teas. of jarred, grated garlic)
1 T soy sauce (use the less salty one)
2 teas. unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teas. sesame oil
Pepper to taste

Put all of the above in a jar with a tightly-fitting lid and shake the bejesus out of it.

VINAIGRETTE  A vinaigrette is pretty much 2/3 vinegar to 1/3 olive oil with your choice of flavoring - mustard or plain salt and pepper or oregano and thyme or ...Bon Appetit claims this one:

1 small garlic clove, finely grated
2 T red wine vinegar
2 teas. Dijon mustard (or Colman's for a real kick)
1/2 cup olive oil
Pepper to taste

CANAL HOUSE (Whoever they may be) GREEN GODDESS
1/2 bunch watercress, stemmed and coarsely chopped - should add up to about two cups
4 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T sour cream
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 T chopped chives
2 T chopped fresh tarragon
1 T white wine vinegar
Pepper to taste.

Puree all of the above in a blender and, in addition, to use as a salad dressing Bon Appetit recommends it as a dip for crudités or over hard-boiled egg halves. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

How To Make Yourself Heard

Write a letter to the editor.  In today's world, it won't even cost you the price of a stamp.

You will be reaching a lot more people than your e-mail or social media family and friends and chances are they probably agree with you anyhow.  You want new people to listen.

Be brief - succinct gets the point across.  And editors love "short" because they often have bits of spare space and your thoughts just might save them some work in re-arranging the page. 


The whole bunch should be voted out of office
 The election nears.  Californians, take a look around you and never vote for an incumbent.
Nina Murphy, Redondo Beach

NOTE:  That headline was written by the Daily Breeze editor.  Traditionally, they assign the headline when the paper decides to run your letter. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hawaiian Punch

We stopped off for a beer at Suzy's, Hermosa Beach.  The regular pull beers, stood in a mannerly row - Budweiser, Bud Lite and Stella, but the end pull - squinting - looked like a surfboard?

I asked the Bar Lady about it and she said, "Oh, it's from Hawaii; called Longboard Island Lager - it's really good."  I reaffirmed with Richie that it's lager I like and said I'd like one.  Bar Lady said, "I think you'll like it - it's replaced Stella as my go-to beer" and yanked the handle. 

I did like it.  But I was a little surprised that Hawaii had any craft beer makers; the rep there is that most everyone is too laid back to do much of anything. 

It turns out that there are two Longboard beers -- Longboard Beer Brewing Co. of Thirroul, New South Wales, and Longboard Island Lager of Kailua, Kona, HA.

We need not concern ourselves unduly with the brewery in NSW; they only distribute it there. 

"Our" Longboard is made by the KonaBrewingCo. com with brewing partners (their term) in Portland, OR; Woodinville, WA and Portsmouth, NH.  The brewery was started in 1995 by dad Cameron Hedley  and son Spoon Khalsa. 

Their description of Longboard is:  A delicate, slightly spicy hops aroma complements the malty body of the beer.  To which I would add, "With a faintly smoky back taste."

Bev-Mo stocks it and they're having a sale on it.  The summer season is upon us - stock up!  It's not like beer will "go bad."  At least, not around here that is...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mother vs. Daughter - Who's the Trashiest?

Candy Spelling, widow of TV mogul Aaron Spelling has written a book detailing her life, her 70,000 sq. ft. (including the attic) home and her vast collection of stuff.

Her daughter Tori (short for Victoria) has made a second career out of maligning her mother in articles and on her own "selfie" reality show.  Tori's fury apparently stems from the fact that she feels she should have gotten a bigger chunk of Daddy's fortune when he went to that big wide screen in the sky.  Discussing money is reasonably tacky.  Wealthy people don't discuss money - theirs or ours.   Simply not done.

Spelling writes that she is down-sizing to a mere 17,000 sq. ft. home and reminds us that it's the same size as her attic.  What to take with her and what to auction off?  She has 180 boxes of Christmas decorations and 59 of Easter things.  PETA should go after her for her collection of turtle soup bowls with matching spoons.  Most of her collections are displayed throughout the house and she is so particular that she will notice if an object is a quarter of an inch out of place. 

She prides herself on being a good cook and generously threw in some of her recipes.  The very first is Chicken Casserole which calls for "1 package onion soup mix, undiluted; one can Cream of Mushroom soup..."  Roll over Escoffier!

Aaron refused to fly so for a family visit to Europe she rented a private railroad car for the trip across the U.S. with an additional baggage car for their 52 suitcases.  The took the QE2 to and from Europe.  They had a wonderful time.

"Stories from Candyland - Confessions from One of Hollywood's Most Famous Wives and Mothers" by Candy Spelling   St. Martin Press   248 pages   $25.95

THIS JUST IN - Breaking - Spelling has written another book and is blabbing all over the media that she broke up with a guy who had a penis prosthetic because she felt that six hours of sex is just too much - "It's like running a marathon."

Candy wins.  No contest.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer Caprices

"Caprice" refers to a sudden change of mood; "capriciousness" to a quality  found in human behaviors.  Now that it's Summer (or very nearly) it's time to change our menus and our palates to summer mode. 

Even though restaurants offer the traditional caprese (Italian spelling I think) of sliced tomato, mozzarella and basil all year around, summer is a time to be whimsical or so Bon Appetit says and offers these variations on the theme.

Grilled eggplant plus ricotta-salata plus dill

Peach plus burrata plus tarragon

Roasted red pepper plus feta plus chopped chives

Cantalope slices plus scamorza plus mint

I'd do my grocery shopping for any one of these in an Italian deli.  One with a huge selection of cheeses.  The Italians created the original; let them deal with the successors!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Do You Remember the Poppies?

When I was a kid, the custom was to accept a "poppy" from a vendor to mark what was then called Decoration Day; red poppies were to remember those who had fought in WW1; white signified the dead.  The first World War lasted from July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918.

This war ended with 22, 477,500 million soldiers who were either killed in action; wounded in action or missing in action. 

"In Flanders Fields" is a well-known poem by a Canadian physician named John McCrae, MD, who wrote it after seeing a friend die in France where he was serving. 

An American woman named Moina Michael started selling poppies to raise money for the disabled veterans of "the Great War."  Something we may have to consider doing for today's veterans. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Anticipating A Loss...

(dateline)  Hermosa Beach biannual fair

When we rounded the corner from the alley onto the Strand, I was mentally prepared (mostly) to see that our favorite bar was closed.  For at lease 30 years it was owned by a trio of Viet Nam vets.  Perhaps all of the horrors seen in Nam had prepared them for running a bar at the beach.  To say theirs were an eclectic bunch of customers is understatement.  The Poopdeck preceded "dive bar" by a great many years. 

Now, under new management, the bar was open to take advantage of the profits on a holiday weekend.  The place looked ... bare; the walls empty of beer signs.  Out on the patio, the huge mural showing the place and the Mermaid next door from the water (past a couple of near-nude young ladies) was gone. 

We were lucky enough to get seats at the big window which was suddenly so clean that I reached out and surreptitiously  tapped the glass to see if it was actually there.  I bet that's the first time the glass was that clean; it must have been surprised and as eager to look out and see the passing scene as we were. 

For a long time, this bar was the bastion of Budweiser.  The Budweiser Drill Team always repaired here first after the annual St. Patrick's Day parade.  Now there's a tap for Stella Artois (owned by Budweiser or vice versa) at $7.50 per plastic go-cup.

A fellow drinker sat to my left and he explained that management had been up until 2 a.m. working desperately to get it ready for the weekend.  Some positive changes had been made - the Ladies had new toilets!  And instead of the tiny triangular sinks inside the stall there is now a shallow basin sink in the main room, replacing the shelf that used to be there.  Richie reported all new furnishings in the Men's room as well.

The name change - from Poopdeck to The Deck - plus the announcement that it would now feature "craft beers" and wine, signals The End for the poor old Poopdeck.  Gentrification has set in.  The final horror is that the back patio, open to the invigorating ocean air, is going to be designated No Smoking.

When the holiday weekend is over, it will be closed and the renovations will start in earnest.  I don't think we'll come back to see the end result.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

A letter to this morning's LA Times today decried the use of "happy" with "Memorial Day."  The writer felt that the many people who have died in the military  and their loved ones over the years are probably anything but happy.

But I'm happy that we live in a country where people are willing to get up out of an easy chair and go kick the living stuffing out of our enemies.

It wasn't always called Memorial Day.  Many people of a certain age remember it as Decoration Day when entire family reunions were held in cemeteries where graves were spruced up, flowers arranged and a picnic lunch was had by all. 

Interestingly enough, the celebration was designed for the end of May -- when flowers all across the country were available.

May 5, 1868 - three years after the end of the American Civil War - was the first.  Southern women gathered to honor their dead and decided that the Yankee graves looked so pitiful that they should tidy them up, too.

That's the kind of "happy" thought to have on Memorial Day ...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Is Everything In This Country About Race?

Today the L.A. Times distinguished itself for the second time this week with a front page headline and article on L'Affair Sterling aka Greedy People Acting Trashy. 

Drudge ran a headline a day or so ago that 49 US Senators had urged the Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team's name, citing the NBA's treatment of Sterling.  Snyder has repeatedly refused.  What the hell are US Senators doing?  Fighting imagined discrimination is not part of their job description.

Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban was  dealt a low blow when the media didn't include the other half of his statement about crossing the street.  He also said he'd do it if it was "a white guy with a shaved head and lots of tattoos."  Funny - that part wasn't what the media also included.

I began to wonder why "blackness and insults" is Today's Cause Celebre so I looked up the US population. 

In 2010, these were the figures:
White  72.4 per cent which shifts to 63.7 when Hispanics who had put down "white" were removed.
Hispanic  16.4 per cent
Black  12.6 per cent
Asian  4.8 per cent

Projected for 2020
White  76.5 per cent
Hispanic  19.1 per cent
Black  13.4 per cent
Asian  5.9 per cent

If we really want to be fair, we should be searching the news for outrages done  to Asians!  No more Tail Wags Dog. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Golddigger's Rewards

Barbara Sinatra chased Frank for between nine and 13 years (sources vary) and when he finally surrendered, he'd already been married three times - and, made to be together, Frank was Barbara's third husband!  The first was an executive with the Miss Universe syndicate back in the '40s.  The second was to Zeppo ("the unfunny one") Marx in the '50s.  Barbara's son from the first marriage took "Marx" as a new last name.  A dark hint of things to come...

When Barbara finally bagged Frank, she abandoned a long career as a Las Vegas show girl and turned to spending Frank's money and establishing the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center, next door to the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs. 

She enjoyed swanning around in Frank's wake and rubbing elbows with the rich and famous.  She began to set herself up as a ruling queen of the upper class.  Naturally, this cost money - but, hey!  Frank had money!

Frank's daughters, Nancy and Tina, had initially recognized that they were now adults with lives that had taken them in other directions.  Son Frankie, Jr. didn't care much either way; he'd felt pushed into a corner since childhood.

But when Mickey Rudin, Frank's long-stand (and long suffering) lawyer told the girls that Barbara was hammering Frank to adopt her son,  who was not a cute little tyke but a 25 year old man, they went ballistic.  The consensus?  "He hasn't earned it!  Blood comes fist!"

The battle lines were drawn.  Barbara was a fearful opponent, who charged right into the fray and by using her control over Frank, usually won.  One of the first things Tina accused her of doing was alienating Mickey Rudin from Sinatra.  Rudin had been Sinatra's lawyer and manager for much of his career.  Why did he have to go?  He held Frank's Power of Attorney. 

Sinatra died in 1998 when Barbara was 71.  Two years ago, a financial magazine wrote that she was now worth $100 million dollars.  She was 84 and now she is 86 and can pat herself on the back for a very profitable career as an "alternate financial manager."

"My Father's Daughter, A Memoir" by Tina Sinatra and Jeff Coplon   Simon & Schuster   313 pages   $26.    A great read if you like inside stories on famous people.  As a contrast or simply to be fair, read "Lady Blue Eyes," Barbara's memoir.  You will note that she elevated herself a bit in the title...  Apparently with $100 million in your kick, you can call yourself anything that you choose.   And "Lady" is considerably higher up the ladder than "chorine."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

With No Further Ado ...

Let's Barbecue!

This is easy -- mix up  a flavored butter such as chives, roll it into a log and set aside.  Take baking potatoes and cut each one in 1/3 in. slices BUT DON'T CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  Now insert a pat of flavored butter into each slice, wrap tightly in foil and "bake" on the grill for 45 minutes or until they're soft.  Don't forget to turn them every now and then.

Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing and drizzling
1 2-lb. cantaloupe, halved, seeded and cut into 1-in. wedges.  Peel 'em.

Brush the grill with the oil, brush the cantaloupe chunks and grill.   Put the cantaloupe on a platter and garnish with prosciutto and thinly sliced mozzarella - serve with or without toothpicks.

6 scallions/green onions, oil-brushed and grilled.  Take them off of the grill and cut them into 3/4 in. pieces
Halve and de-seed 4 large peaches and grill them cut side down.  Then  put the grilled scallions in the seed hole.
Wrap two strips of bacon around each peach half, fastening them with wooden toothpicks -- we all do know to soak the toothpicks first, right?  and grill.

I don't think this recipe would work very well in real life.  Half of the bacon would probably burn and the other half would end up raw from being soaked in peach juice  and the end result would look like a tennis ball that somehow got burned.   Not terribly appealing ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Women Who Can't Write Humor

"Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers"  by Louise Rennison   Harper Tempest   300 pages (of Brit slang)   $15.99 (over priced)

Rennison lives in Brighton, south of London, and writes in the voice of a 14 year old girl named Georgia Nicolson.  In this adventure her father is taking the family to a clown car convention in Memphis, TN or as she calls it "Hamburger a go-go" and we call "America." 

This would be too, too cute if I were a 14 year old.  Incidentally "boy entrancers" are false eyelashes.  Shame on you for what you were thinking!

"Are You There, Vodka?  It's Me, Chelsea" by Chelsea Handler   Simon Spotlight Entertainment   264 pages   $24.95

Handler is billed as a comedic writer and star of her own (late night) TV show. 

She's one of those tiresome women who believe themselves to be the cutest little trick (used advisedly) in shoe leather.  Her schtick seems to be:  I do something stupid, lie about it and thus I get out of it - doesn't matter who else I wreck.  Aren't I hilarious with my little jams?  Yes!  I am!  I am!

"The Fran Lebowitz Reader" by Fran Lebowitz   Vintage Books   333 pages   $14

Lebowitz is a New Yorker "Because she does not believe she would be allowed to live anywhere else."  Possibly due to her lifestyle dressed as Oscar Wilde at all times. 

Of the three, she is the most amusing for her rather cynical take on a lot of subjects, but the problem for me is that she is a list writer which eats up a lot space in a book and makes the volume seem fatter. 

She also thinks she is the smartest person in the room.  Opening lines for a chapter on "Science" - "Science is not a pretty thing.  It is unpleasantly proportioned; outlandishly attired and often overeager."  That is gibberish and means nothing relevant at all.  Fancy vocabulary - sound - meaningless - fury.

Thank God I bought all three books at a library book sale.

Monday, May 19, 2014

"I Read the News Today, O Boy..."

Food Fight!  The GOP is going up against Michelle Obama.  School luncheons are the cause of the fray. 

Michael Jackson was made to appear as if he had returned from the dead with the use of a hologram of him with live dancers at the Las Vegas Billboard Music Awards.  Talk about a Dubious Achievement.  (H/T Esquire

Today's Wall Street Journal carries an article that won't please Hillary.  A pair of attorneys have filed suit for an audit of Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which received huge sums of money from the State Department after a devastating earthquake.  Turns out that Bill Clinton is the head of Interim...

Dateline:  Pike, TN,  has banned droopy drawers.  "Yo, dog - hike up your pants or you'll get fined $25 for the first offense and $50 for the second or more.  Called 'public indecency; or somethin'"  

The Mayor said, "All I know is we just don't want them running* around our streets half naked.  That's the bottom line."

*  I don't think they can run.  I saw one once whose pants were dropped so far down that I wondered if his equipage was all that held them up AND he was mncing along like a French Duke.  Run?  Not so much... 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Don't Put That In/On Your Mouth!

H/T to who turned me on to tooth tattooing in one of their articles.

It's a tattoo put on a crown -- never a living tooth - and the crown is then re-installed.  The cost runs from $75 to $200.  Or else, based on the photos, one can have the tattoo on a cap that fits over your own real tooth, upper or lower.   I'm betting that if it's dark-colored people will be telling you all day long, "You've got spinach in your teeth."   

Or, you can have fangs or teeth/tooth tattooed on your living flesh.  A dental tech, for example, had a tattoo of two her instruments on her upper arm.  This goes beyond the outer reaches to me.  If you were a mechanic, would you have a lift inked in on your forearm?

This tooth tattooing was new to me, but I did know about "grills" (which is how I Googled it because I know how to spell.)  The Google response was "grillz" which is offensive.  You can't make something "hot" by the way you spell it.

Anyhow, grillz/s are like false teeth without the teeth.  Remember Halloween when you got ghastly wax ones in weird shapes?  Same principle.  Or like braces.    

Big Dog Grillz offers a variety of metallic finishes.  The site reports that vampire fangs are their best seller with your choice of gold or silver.  They are on sale now and what was once $49.99 is now $19.99.   Style Mavins - this may mean vampires are becoming passé.    Be on the alert!

Another is called "The Patriot."  Picture a white strip, with a blue one underneath it and a red strip below the blue.  ($24.99)  I think that's perhaps a tad disrespectful to our flag, but ... who listens to old ladies? 

I also think it shows a sort of limited creativity in that yeah, the grills can be removed and the caps exchanged, but a tattooed crown or a piece of your flesh are pretty much forever. 

Pinterest has some interesting photos of the suckahs who went for any of the above. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Locals - Out and About on a Saturday

First - go to the Hermosa Beach Friends of the Library book sale at 1309 Bard Street (ambulance side of the HBFD.)  Tremendous bargains!  Browse to your heart's content and then amble around the corner to Ardmore and the Hermosa Beach Garden Club's annual plant and bake sale. 

If you time the above, just right you will get to the bake sale in time for the wonderful lemon bars.  Four bits of ecstasy for 50 cents! 

Then count up the money you have saved and go to Target. 

There was one plate of lemon bars and it was gone before I got there.  I looked at Pat (a friend from a volunteer program we both work for) and said, "Well, my life is over..." and turned to leave - to gales of laughter.  But, dammit, it wasn't funny!  I was too dishearted to pout.  Sullenly I sulked back to the car... Next year, we get here when it opens!

Friday, May 16, 2014

"A Sin Against Trees"

H/T to "Raffish" for the quote about books.  I'm looking at a trio that is just about back to the library; they're that bad. 

"Fresh Off the Boat, A Memoir" by Eddie Huang   Spiegel and Grau   276 pages   $26

The boat he's talking about set sail from Taiwan.  He describes his family (parents who fought endlessly) and siblings (two younger brothers) and his school life while growing up in Orlando, FL.  He tells us of the many humiliations growing up as the only Asians around for miles and in a kind of knee jerk response to "being somebody" he models his looks and ways after his hip hop heroes. 

I must say I got a grounding in thug-speak -- sample sentence:  "Dog, outta tree; gotta ration out more!"  "Pal, I'm outta marijuana; got to get more."  

Huang is now 32, running his restaurant Bao Haus in Manhattan and still talking like a gangbanger.  Pitiful.  

Sex, Love and Fashion - A Memoir of a Male Model" by Bruce hulse   Harmony Books   325 pages   $23.95

This vapid tale of a male model who spends much of his daylight hours searching for an identity is at least lavishly illustrated.  As a vehicle for a brunet male to write like a dumb blonde, Hulse reaches that goal.  The only surprise in the entire book (for me) was that he's straight.

"Mastering the Art of French Eating; Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris"  by Anne Mah   Penguin Group   273 pages   $25.99 

Another attempt to rip off the French life style.  The book might have gone over better with me if the first two chapters han'td concerned themselves with blood.  How bloody should a steak be when you cut in to it?  Tripe - and an exploration of Troyes, the region from whence it comes.  The descriptions of sights -- and most notably, smells - from the tripe processing plant were ghastly. 

The title is somewhat misleading as the French use silverware just like people all over the world. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Revising A Dream -- And Saving $$$, Too! Hee Hee Hee

Richie, with his usual self-confidence is sure that one fine day he will win the lottery.  His wife is far more sanguine about this unlikely event actually occurring during her lifetime.

But, always supportive, the wife has always been willing to spell out how to spend the windfall.  First, 90 per cent of it will go into annuities, interest-bearing accounts and so forth.  The remaining  10 per cent will go for "fun."

It is good to share so the original "fun" was declared, "Take everyone we love on a river cruise in the Loire Valley, France.  We decided to sweeten the pot and throw in 1st class air fare and $100/day for postcards and souvenirs. 

To take the crowd with whom we wanted to share would require 10 to 12 boats.  For years, we have spent many a happy hour listing guests and pairings for each boat.  We sit at the bar and I scribble on bar napkins.  "Oh, no - we can't put them with the so-and-sos!"  A very pleasant way to pass the time between beers.

And then ... I heard about this:  individuals can rent private railroad cars which are hooked onto existing Amtrak trains and thence off to pretty much wherever you want to go -- and in opulent luxury, chef, stewards, open bar and all. 

Googling "US private railroad cars" turned up Colonial Crafts which offers the following:

Los Angeles to San Diego   30 passengers   $4,970 or $166 per person.  With full meal service, $5,922 or $247 per person.

Los Angeles to San Francisco   20 people   $11,476 or $547 per person which includes two layover days in San Francisco. 

Los Angeles to Reno   5 days including going over the (shudder) Donner Pass - BBQ ribs for all!

Amtrak charges $2.10 a mile for the first train hooked on, but only $1.60 a mile for the second.  It's $100 for overnight parking at a station. 

Now is substituting a group party on wheels a better deal than everyone going to France?  You betcha - it'll give us the money for us - on our own - to take the Orient Express from London to Venice and then Venice to Paris.  Our train tickets would be $11,000.  Have to make sure we'll have $11 grand leftover.  Or else we'll be back in the bar saying, "Okay the railroad car seats 30 - who gets to go?"

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Look Out! The Chemist Is Loose in the Kitchen Again

Cook's Country, the magazine, arrived yesterday.  This is the postal carrier's delight because the editors carry no advertising whatsoever so perforce it's thinner than Vogue (8 lbs.) or Vanity Fair (5 lbs. or more, depending on the season. 

My old Daddy always told me, "Make your brain work, not your butt."  In the spirit of that wise admonishment, I always read the how-to hints and Cook's does not disappoint.

Use a table fork to  peel and devein shrimp.  Stick an end tine on the fork into the head end of the shrimp and work your way up the shrimp.  This makes sense to me if only because all of us are more than familiar with a fork. 

One poor woman wrote that she would decorate a cake with words - Happy Birthday - or whatever and it would come out Happy Birthd  because she ran out of space on the cake top.  Until she got the bright idea to take a toothpick and lightly etch in what she wanted to say and put the frosting on over her guideline. 

Another bragged about the "cool new use" for her waffle iron - make grilled cheese sandwiches with it!   It would certainly be crunchy!  And if you were making grilled cheese and tomato soup for guests, you could do quite a few in a lot less time. 

A man wrote in that he likes to make ice cream cookies from scratch  (Ladies, he lives in Carmel, IN)  and has trouble putting the rock-hard ice cream on the tender cookies.  His solution was to use a tool called an adjust-a-cup that pushes out the ice cream in the thickness desired which can then be whacked off with a knife onto the cookie.

Better idea - buy a little can of corn or peas or mixed vegetables - the important thing here is the can size.  When the contents have been eaten, wash the can and the lid well..  Then removed the bottom of the can.  Using the can as a tube, fill it with ice cream.  Use the lid to push it down the barrel of the can and cut of a slice of ice cream directly over the cookie. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Roadside Attraction

Maybe I should have written "the" roadside attraction because it's the only building of note on the 60 Freeway between exiting the 91 and before entering the 10 to Hwy 111 into Palm Springs.

Dowling Orchards' farm stand does have a street address - 38021 Hwy 60, Beaumont, CA 922223 - but trust me; it's the only building that is a business fronting the road.

Farm stands are usually devoted to fresh fruits and vegetables and Dowling certainly has those, but they also have tables and tables of packages of nuts, dried fruits and candy - kind of old-fashioned candy such as licorice whips.  They have a variety of handmade fudges as well as brittles - coconut and cashew brittle is my favorite.  Richie likes plain old peanut brittle.   They have a new line of sweet-flavored popcorns - Just Plain Caramel is to swoon over.

The back of the room has shelves of faddy "cute" hot sauces, many labeled "Kick Ass."  Mrs. Renfro's sauces and salsas take up shelf space there, too, but they're a dollar (or more) higher than they are in your local supermarket.  Someone's got to pay to haul them out to this god-forsaken store. 

Dowling's also has the only bathrooms between the 91 and the 10.  They are by no means "fancy" but they are there and usable.  (If you can possibly wait, the Palm Springs Visitor's Bureau has lovely bathrooms with state-of-the-art plumbing.) 

We stopped on the way down to the Springs to show our Brit guests an American roadside  farm stand and we stopped on the way home because I had to get some of that dandy caramel popcorn that Anne had gotten on the way into town.  $2 for a 6 oz. bag. 

Dowling's ... just another part of the lore (and lure) of Palm Springs.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Yay! Grease for Lunch - Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

We repaired to Sherman's Deli (previously covered) after the Air Museum.  Anne had to try the sandwich I'd described to her - latkes (potato pancakes) and corned beef as a sandwich.  The latkes replaced the usual rye bread.   Not wanting to be seen as a wimp in the Grease Depart. I ordered a Knockwurst Reuben - rye bread that holds a split, halved grilled knockwurst with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese and then the whole sandwich is grilled again.  Both were so filling that we had to save half of each sandwich.  Virtuously we assured each other that they could be divided yet again and serve as everyone's breakfast.  (Relax. We didn't.)

Richie dropped Frank and self off at the hotel and he and Anne set off to conquer the Palm Springs aerial tram.  We wished them Godspeed and then Frank went to their room, probably for a refreshing siesta.  I went to the office and caught up on mail on their guest-use computer.

When they returned Richie had brought with himself a new bad habit.  "We mountaineers" began to dominate all conversational efforts from him.  We all got back in the car and set off to tour the Village Museum in the heart of town.  Which had closed at 4 p.m. and it was now 5. 

Shrugging, we vowed to stop by next morning on our way out of town.  And moved it on down the road to the Village Pub patio.  Service was extremely slow, so after the second beer, we walked back up the road to Lulu's (just across from Kaiser Grill.)  Lulu's has had a busy career - first it was Miss Muriel's Supper Club; then that closed; then it became something else and now "she's" Lulu's which was having a very good special - three courses salad or soup, entrée and dessert) for $20!

Anne and Richie had the salad with wontons; Frank had minestrone; me a Caesar salad - the kind I don't like because it's long spears of Romaine lettuce done up like a bundle.  Awkward to eat and the top leaves were a little o-l-d.
Anne and I went on to the lobster ravioli (no discernible lobster) and Richie had a shrimp and pasta dish.  All four of us had tiramisu for dessert.  Not the most riveting meal I've ever had, but the price was right. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tuesday, May 6th - Palm Springs

We spent the morning at the Palm Springs Air Museum which I covered previously, but I gleaned some new information -
* In season, they may have as many as 800 visitors a day which requires 300 volunteer docents.  In the off-season they get maybe 100 visitors a day, but they still have all of those volunteers so they're put to work maintaining the place.  A behind-the-scenes peek - one of the male volunteers was dusting the tops f the wings and fuselage with a really long-handled dust mop - similar to a car brush, but 'way longer handle.  He did have a little step stool but seemed to find using it unmanly in some fashion. 

* Many of the Pacific war planes had huge, garish shark jaws (plenty of teeth showing) painted on the plane's nose.  Reason?  The Japanese were largely fisherman at the time and, as such, they (rightfully, it must be said) feared sharks.

* All but one of the planes in the museum are flyable - except for the one that spent 55 years underwater, a B25 SBD "Dauntless."  

*A black Packard limousine, white wall tires and all, built for the Japanese ambassador, San Francisco, was impounded by us after Pearl Harbor day.  Post war, a Northern California farmer bought it and drove it for 40 years and taught all eight of his children how to drive it.  Take that! Japanese ambassador!

Museum done; off to lunch. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Kind of Restaurant Owner

People past 50 dislike dining in a din of laughter, screams and crashing china.  A meal out should be relaxing; time to grab a minute for reflection as the food is savored. 

Some restaurant movers and shakers think that the roar of the crowd is what people come for - a falsely-generated GLEE and GOOD TIMES!

The people behind The Tropicale, 330 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs, have managed to come up with a quiet restaurant!  Sure, they still have some hard surfaces on some of the walls, but they also have thick carpet, padded booths (as opposed to tables and chairs) and thick curtains hanging from the high ceilings to catch screams and shrieks that travel up.  The bar (usually the loudest part of any restaurant) was directly behind our booth and even it was muted despite being full of people. 

We opened with drinks (of course.)  Anne spotted what turned out to be a lovely pinot grigio named "Gnarly Head" and she and Frank opted for a glass each ($7.50) while I had a dirty gin martini and Richie a Stella Artois.  Service was smooth and friendly.

We enjoyed people watching as we sipped.  Apparently the place is a favorite with the terminally hip young'uns and in they poured with the women working 6 in. sandals, short skirts and many a giggle and hair toss.  The men wore chinos or khakis and shirts unbelted and outside the pants; not a real favorite male look of mine unless the man is a legitimate Wine Country worker of some sort. 

Our orders:
Frank - Striped Bass with saffron pilaf of sautéed Spanish sausage, green mussels, calamari, Castillo olives, raisins, almonds in a smoked pimento pan sauce.  ($30)
Anne and Richie - Crispy bacon wild Stone Crab cakes with an arugula and Belgian endive salad with an avocado cream and tomato vinaigrette ($16 each)
I went nuts and ordered the pupu platter  - two or three of each:  chicken skewers, beef skewers, coconut prawns, pork ribs and Vietnamese spring rolls ($26) thinking to share, but, focused on their own food, no one was interested.  I had a heavy doggie bag... 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Chivalry Lives on the Smokers Patio

Monday, 5/5/14
Richie and Anne tramped all over the area we'd been told held  the Bono remains.  Frank and I, being the sensible adults, sat in the car and visited.  When we were all back together again, someone remarked on how tiring cemetery hunts can be and someone else chimed in "And we were doing it in the desert, too!  And it's important to stay hydrated in the desert."  For our health (and, of course, no other reason)) we should repair, with some speed, to the Brit-style pub on North Palm Canyon for a beer..  Or more, if medically indicated.  (I felt sure it would be.)

We arrived and the three of them went into the bar.  I sat down in a chair behind a group of five men on the smoking patio and reached for my cigarettes.  I was invited to join them, but, "No, no - fine here."  They continued their conversation about the crazy things various of their friends had done.  Clearly, military attack helicopter pilots seem to be especially at risk for insane behaviors.  Cigarette finished and carefully put out, I waved farewell and went into the bar. 

My diagnosis was correct; another dose of hydrating fluids was required.  Time passed happily and when I looked at my watch, I saw it was time for my 4:30 p.m. cigarette.  Out to the patio I went where the group of guys (not a good description; I know but they were Just Guys - mid 30s to mid 50s) were still debating what constitutes crazy behavior.  They insisted that I join in the discussion.  So I sat down, put my beer on the table next to me, lit up and listened attentively. 

A sixth man, who would prove to be genuinely insane himself, entered the patio, was greeted and started to sit down.  When he noticed me - the only woman out there - he straightened up and stuck his hand out to shake or so I thought.  Instead he flipped my hand over and kissed the back of it.  Playing along,  I sank back in my chair and patted my heart in a mock swoon.  Which proved to be a big mistake.  He instantly whipped around to face me, got all up in my face, reached down, cupped both hands around his equipage and began moving it up and down.

Three of the closest guys leaped up, grabbed him and frog marched him down the bar and out the back door.  They returned in seconds and joined the other men in profuse apologies.  I wondered aloud if he was a retired Chippendale dancer? And speculated that had warped his mind?  Further speculation ensued.  Theories put out included - both parents were meth addicts... or first cousins.  Consensus was that he was just crazy.  And they moved the discussion into '60s rock and roll, a field I know well. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring in Palm Springs

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Richie and I were the tour guides; Frank and Anne were our trot along now, briskly, victims.  After the mandatory First Lunch In Town at Tyler's, and check-in, we decided that it would be a good idea to show our respect and visit Frank Sinatra's grave.. 

He (and most of his family) are buried in the Desert Memorial Park at 31750 DaValle Way, Cathedral City.  We used Ramon toward Rancho Mirage, left onto DaValle. 

I was selected to run into the office to ask for Frank's current address.  Inside, I was greeted by a nice, older man with a Saqlvador Dali-type moustache to match his hair.  He handed me a stapled together three page folio on who and where, pointing across the lawn just outside the window -- "You see that trio of flower arrangements?  That's Sinatra's." 

He went on to say that the other major celebrity in residence is Sonny Bono, former Mayor of Palm Springs and DC Congressman.  Gesturing again, he said, "He's further back -- where the flag and the fountain are - there's a memorial statue of him, too?"

"Is he skiing?" I asked deadpan.  He laughed heartily.  "My grandchildren have no idea who these people are - gesturing at the list of B stars, but I bet you do - we're old enough to remember!" 

Sinatra's mother, father, an uncle and his best friend, Jilly Rizzo, are all buried in a long row with two names I didn't recognize.  They were ancient; the stones were mossy and chipped with the name Barkenton or similar and I was puzzled.  Who were these two and why were they in with the Sinatras? 

It turns out that Barbara Sinatra, The Widder, had her parents heaved up from wherever they had rested and moved into the Sinatra plots.  The one I could read said, "Died 1989."  How pushy is that?  How tacky?  Don't let me count the ways ...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Why Thank You - It's Nice To Be Back

We're just back from a jaunt to Palm Springs with good friends.  Managed to eat at a couple of restaurants we'd never visited which is always good for this column even if you never go to Palm Springs.  You can send me back instead...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Just Have the Paramedics Wait Outside For You ...

But tell them to keep the ambulance engine running.

Welcome to Hopscotch Tavern, 136 E Commonwealth Avenue, Fullerton, CA.  It's easy to find - it's across the square from the Fullerton train station.

The name is deliberately spelled that way because the restaurant deals in craft beers (75 of them, in the bar or in the refrigerated case to take home)  which is the  Hops half of the name and Scotch because they have some 125 of them.  They have flights of both.  The craft beers are offered in 5 oz. and 3 oz. glasses that look like recycled dried beef jars. 

It's a big place - after a short flight of stairs (maybe four) up from the sidewalk, you arrive in the big bar; to the right you will see four more steps down and a dining room; to the left, a deck with umbrellas.  On the lower level they have a "Cigar Room" but you cannot smoke on the patio until after 10 pm. which is when, presumably, families will have hustled the kids off to bed.

A pet peeve of mine is being expected to enjoy dining on sky-high stools.  Excuse me!  Stools are for bellying up to the bar, not dining.  Both the bar and the patio were nose bleed seating. 

We were given "Brunch" menus which was okay; it was around noon on a Saturday and I can see not cranking up a whole kitchen.  But they missed a marketing opportunity to display all of the dishes available because it was Day 2 of the Fullerton Train Days, a stone's throw from their front door.  (Photos later.)

I read the list of Epic Brunches and quietly shuddered to myself. 
Scrapple - fried pork cornbread with maple syrup, Pico de Gallo, a fried egg and "micro-cilantro."  How about a Southern Benedict?  Buttermilk biscuit, chicken-fried steak, poached eggs (plural) and hollandaise sauce?

The only thing that appealed to Richie was A Burger with cheddar, bacon, caramelized onion, tomato and "Hold the fried egg and hollandaise," said Richie.  ($12)  I ordered the Grilled Cheese Panini which came with hot sauce, caramelized onion and bacon and a little disco lettuce salad. ($9)

Richie had a 5 oz. jar of Paulaner Pilsner and I a Magic Hat India Pale Lager.   Both were $5 each.  Apparently $1 per ounce. 

We could have had (were we ready for naps) the Blue Collar Special which is listed as a craft beer, a shot of whiskey and a cigar - $15.  Paying for these on a regular basis would keep you blue collar indeed. .   

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Very Good Read

"One Doctor - Close Calls, Cold Cases and the Mysteries of Medicine" by Brendan Reilly, M.D.   Atria Books    448 pages    $28

First of all, I am a total sucker for medicine - tales of internships; vile diseases; clever ways people were cured - and what was wrong with them in the first place.  Reilly doesn't disappoint.

Moreover, he knows the differences between Medicine Then and Medicine Today which is more business driven than delivery of care.

There is a much withdrawal of medical help as there is of giving it.  There are people pouring into Emergency Rooms all over America every day.  Let's say you are a doctor and a hugely critical case comes roaring across the ER - the patient needs to be in ICU NOW! 

But:  ICU is full.  What now?  This is what - the least sickest patient in ICU is moved to a Step Down room and a bed is freed for the new guy.  The space in ICU -- or in hospitals for that matter - is tight, forcing patients to wait their turn for a room in corridors, cubbyholes or halls. 

Reilly is a passionate advocate for one person to have one doctor for years.  He believes that personal knowledge of a patient through years of association is a critical factor for the doctor..  Medical care today is often a network of specialists.  The chain of command is:  you go to your General Practitioner (GP) who examines you and then says, "I want you to see an orthopod/neurologist/ENT"  and away you go to a stranger's waiting room.  In this system, the only doctor you're going to know is the GP who is good for small fixes, but otherwise acts as a medical traffic director.  

Plan ahead - get set with specialists before the GP can "assign" you one.  Before I married Richie and moved to the beach, I lived in Beverly Hills (poverty is possible there; I can assure you) and there was no such thing as a GP anywhere around.  Ear ache? Sore throat?  You called the ENT. Beverly Hills was so over-run with specialists that no body part was  ignored.  Used to this, I never put all of my eggs in one basket - the GP - when I began living here.  As a consequence, no matter where the GP wants to send me, I've probably already got a relationship with that specialist. 

To really terrify yourself, read this book to see what business-driven medicine can do to you.  It often isn't pretty....

Saturday, May 3, 2014

And Don't Even Get Me Started About People Going Too Far!

There are some real doozies out there.  In the event you don't have the time or the inclination, I have thoughtfully rounded up some of the miscreants...

* Peaches Geldorf, mother of two small children, died of a heroin overdose in a spare bedroom of the  family home while one of the kids was at home.  Her hypocrisy was astounding.   She prattled constantly about how much she loved her children and that she would never do to them what was done to her.  Age 11 she found her mother, 41, dead of a heroin overdose.   She couldn't even make it to 26.

*L'Affaire Donald Sterling  Everyone involved with this one - from the crazed old white man to the mistress from hell (now wearing a welder's visor in public) to NBA management (which immediately sank to its collective knees to appease black players) to the players themselves - grown men whining like children that someone was mean to them.  Every single one of these people acted badly which is unusual because usually there is only one clear-cut villain.

* Lindsay Lohan is back on the party circuit in London.  She could overdose, drive a car into a tree - whatever  - and most of the general public wouldn't give a damn..  Her Little Miss America pageant days ended quite a long time ago.

* Ben Affleck has been banned for life from the Hard Rock casino, Las Vegas, for counting cards at the blackjack tables.

But this takes the cake, wins the gold - whatever expression you want to use.  This is the headline (or one of them anyhow) at the

* "He deserved it!  Friends of Oklahoma killer weigh in on botched execution." 

FRIENDS?  What on earth did his ENEMIES say?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Going Too Far ...

Trader Joe:  "Guacamame" made not with avocados, but with edamame (soy beans) that TJ says will fool ya.  This concoction is made up of:  edamame and tofu with tomatoes, pickled jalapeno peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro and cumin.  If this sounds good to you (and to be truthful, I would like to try it) 12 oz. package for $2.99.  Richie, who makes a very good guacamole - with avocados - sniffed at the whole idea. 

Bon Appetit:  From time to time, BA tries to convince us to eat radishes.  We DO eat:  radish slices stuck into the frijoles as garnish; served whole in a Salad Nicoise or just gnawed raw with a tiny sprinkle of Peruvian pink salt.

Tear up an 8 oz. burrata and put the pieces on a plate.
2 oz. thinly sliced "watermelon" radishes (who knew "watermelon" ever applied to be something else?)
2 teas. olive oil
2 teas. fresh lemon juice, pepper to taste
Toss the radish slices in the dressing and put them over the burrata pieces; add any leftover dressing and garnish with chopped chives and finely-grated lemon zest. 

2 oz. chopped slab bacon, cooked until it starts to render - about 3 minutes.
3/4 lb. halved radishes (didn't say whether "watermelon" or not)
Toss the bacon and radishes in the skillet until the bacon is cooked.
Pour off all of the bacon fat except for 1 T.  Add 2 teas. apple cider vinegar and 1/2 teas. sugar.  Toss with 1/3 cup parsley leaves and pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Day! May Day!

No, the Malaysian airplane has not been found (as far as anyone knows.)  The headline is a reference to a holiday that most of Europe celebrates, but we Americans have a great deal less enthusiasm for it. 

May 1st is also recognized as International Workers Day which has a distinctly Communist ring to it so let's go stand with the pagans.

Originally, pre-Christianity the first of May was a pagan celebration of the arrival of Spring.  Then Saint Walpurga brought Christianity to Germany.  So much for the poor pagans, now expected to sit in church and sing hymns to God and not their own favorites.    But ... not so fast there.  A group of neo-pagans are working hard to bring it back in all of its raucous splendor. 

European celebrations include electing the May Queen and, of course, plenty of food and drink.  Another quaint custom is to get the Maypole out of storage (or hock, whichever) and the night of April 30th, it is smuggled into the front yard of the prettiest girl in town's home.  Next morning it is discovered (!) and moved to the village green whereupon all of the women in the village begin dancing around it, picturesquely winding brightly-colored ribbons onto it.  The women, in turn, slither past their boyfriend's homes and leave a big heart made of flowers on his doorstep or the front door

In France, lilies of the valley are handed out to the populace.  This goes back to King Charles IX who was given a sprig of lily of the valley on May 1, 1561, as a good luck charm.  He liked the idea so much that he began giving all of the women at court a sprig May 1st, no doubt with flowery and fulsome compliments.  The French don't forget stuff, although there is now more importance given there to International Workers Day rather than luck.

May Day is the only street-type carnival all year long in Finland.  What?  It's too cold to be outdoors any other day?  That doesn't seem logical ...

Many are the references to Walpurgis Night which is one of the rowdiest celebrations all year, outpacing even New Year's Eve.  Lock your doors - the neo-pagans are celebrating the arrival of Christianity in Germany!  With bacchanals that would curl your hair.