Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fair Fare

Every year at fair time, it seems there is a contest of sorts among the various venues - Los Angeles County, Orange County and northward - for the most grotesque food offering available. 

Huge hamburgers and hot dogs are always on offer - no thrill there...but wait!  Now comes the Crispy Crème Cheeseburger.  The bun is a split DONUT with three beef patties and three portions of cheese.  No mention of lettuce or tomatoes...

Back in olden times, we thought that fried zucchini spears with Ranch dressing were a wicked treat - all that batter, all that fat but poor old zucchini fades into distant memory when compared to this ... I don't know what to call it, but this is what it is:  a churro that has been hollowed out with a half shot of Jack Daniels poured into the now empty space.  Carefully roll this item in bacon, roll it in sugar and deep-fat fry it, garnishing with a dollop of whipped cream!  That'll be $6.50, please. 

This strikes me as over kill ..mix up some batter,  dip Doritos into it and deep fat fry them.   Or dry off slices of pickle, batter them and deep fry them.  I'm sensing a certain sinister trend here..

Locally, Labor Day weekend is the annual Fiesta Hermosa (
and the food court will have a few marginally more healthful things to eat than a Crispy Crème cheeseburger.  Choose from Thai, Greek, Brazil, Hawaii, Mexico, Cajun - Holy Guacamole serves a bowl that appears to be about half a tree's worth of avocados.  Portions are generous, but prices are high, too. 

Pace yourself! and your purse, too .

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Lovely Thought

Perhaps we should calendar it in June, 2015, for personal use...

"No man ever wore a cravat as nice as his own child's arm around his neck."
                                                                                 Irish writer Patrick Taylor

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Grab a Fork, Siddown and Shut Up - Food Fight!

Food and Wine has decided to liven up the last of summer with a pitched battle about "most" and "fewest" in restaurants nationwide.

I think we could play, too - after all, surely we are as sophisticated as their average reader; we've traveled a lot and most importantly - we know what's what.

Fewest pompous foodies - Salt Lake city
Worst tippers - Salt Lake City                                    
  (ed. comment:  snort - no surprise) 

Best healthy food - Portland, OR
Fewest healthy choices - Memphis

Fewest daring diners - Savannah

Miami surprise - fewest family-friendly dining spots.   Nu?  Miami's not filled with doting grandparents and spoiled brats?


Salt City's bar scene amazed me - airplane-sized bottles of booze hung above the bartenders like wine glasses. 

I can believe it about Savannah.  During our only visit, we were touristy enough to make a reservation at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House for lunch.  We diners were lined up on the sidewalk outside the side door until we were invited to "Come on in; where's yoah $15?"  Facing all of us was an enormous table, big bowls of food steaming (but by no means perfuming) the air.  Platters of sliced meats and fried chicken, biscuits and honey.  All of which was woefully overcooked.  The final insult?  Slices of white Wonder bread!

As for Memphis I would emphatically state that barbecue is good for your soul and if you don't have a happy soul, then  nothin's going to make you feel better.
Hang onto your health - and do it with barbecue, by jingoes!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

They Have Short Memories at the Hermosa Animal Hospital ...

Yesterday morning at 8 a.m., Richie dropped Fred off at the vet's as instructed and we were able to pick him up again at 2 p.m .  To maintain Fred's privacy I will not detail what said surgery covered.   

In addition to Fred (who seemed none the worse for wear) we were handed paperwork detailing post-surgery instructions and three oral syringes with 1cc pain medicine each.    

And then with a flourish, the medical tech handed us a "Certificate Of Bravery, awarded to Fred Murphy in recognition of great courage shown during your stay in the hospital for surgery. " (signed by his vet and the chief tech.)

I mention this in light of the fact that last Friday, at his first visit to the vet, when we and the tech were finally able to pry him out of the carrier cage, he took off like he was demented!  He traveled at warp speed on a circuit around the office and went airborne (seemingly through will alone) to sail over the examination bed, onto shelves holding stuff and back down to the floor again. 

This "Certificate of Bravery" was issued yesterday - Tuesday.  Only three days after  most definitely not winning any awards from a vet anywhere.        So I have to wonder... 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Garlic Knots!

They are the Italian version of a Midwest treat.  If your mother baked when you were a kid and if she had leftover pie crust, she'd roll it out, put sugar and cinnamon on it and bake it for you.  Same principle for a garlic knot using leftover pizza dough. 

Bobby's South Bay Italian seats you and then greets you with a pair of knots and a side of their marinara sauce. 

Bobby's serves lunch and dinner so we blew in for lunch the other day.  We shared a Caesar salad ($7) and he ordered the baked rigatoni and I spaghetti and meatballs (both $9.)  Portions were so generous that we had leftovers of all of the above - so we had them for dinner.  The tab was $27.25, food only, plus $6 tip. 

But who cares about accounting?  The baked rigatoni was heaped with mozzarella and looked lush and inviting with al of that cheese.  My spaghetti had two good-sized meatballs nestled in it and Bobby's Mama's tomato sauce had a very faint zing to it.  Danny, our server, told us it came from the spices used in the meatballs (of beef, veal and pork.) 

Five salads, three Panini or four heroes, six pizzas, three pastas and four desserts - not bad for a lunch menu, eh?  The dinner menu has a great many more items and am looking forward to eating my way through it. 

Wines by the glass or bottle.  The bottled beers - El Segundo Blue House Citra Pale or El Segundo Hop Tanker Double IPA was certainly "different" when your expecting to see MGD or Budweiser.  But wait!  There are 13 craft beers, mainly ales with a couple of wheats. 

Take a browse at  or pop in - 502 Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach 90254  310-798-7747

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Over the Top And Into Battle Fatigue

I'm talking about The Wedding As Decreed By the Misses Post.  Opening the book by chance at "Parties" and being a sociable soul (roaring drunk) began reading.

And wandered away appalled, mentally flexing my biceps to determine strength.  First off is the engagement announcement party which is also the first hit on Daddy's wallet.  Guests, mainly family and old friends, are invited to a social gathering that can run the gamut from a backyard barbecue to a dinner dance at the Club.

Of course, no self-respecting bride would forgo the bridal shower also known as the gathering of the non-essential things we wanted, but were too cheap to pay for them so we thought we'd see if you could be suckered into doing it for us.  If the groom and his buddies are invited this event is then billed as a "Jack and Jill shower."  And so begins the twee...

The bride hosts her bridal party at a luncheon or tea -- and I think the Misses Post got off the trail and wandered back into the '50s.  "Tea" as an event is virtually unheard of in America.  And by the way, Posts - monogramming everything but your underwear is passé.  Meanwhile the groom is expected to take his posse out for a manly steak and martini dinner.

The above dinners are no substitute for the bachelor and bachelorette blowouts in Las Vegas scheduled a week before the wedding so that everyone can make a timely recovery.  And there is no such word as "bachelorette."  The word is "spinster" and denotes a woman who has never been married.  Which may be stretching it a little these days...

It is expected that out-of-town guests will be hosted at a dinner while the rehearsal dinner occurs. 

Whew!  the wedding and reception have concluded.  Done deal.  Not so fast there!  Now comes the "after party" just in case you didn't drink enough at the reception and are still standing.  Carry on, mate!  Tomorrow is the post-wedding brunch! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Comb Your Hair - We're Going to a Wedding

India:  Bring sunglasses - Indians are great believers in the use of VIVID colors.  From the canopy to the guests saris and furbelows.  Is she blushing or is it just the reflexion of her hot pink veil?  The groom, not to be outdone, will be equally flashy and makes his entrance riding a white horse with family and friends dancing around him.  The bride and groom exchange garlands (more colors) and when the groom puts his garland around her neck, that means that she has accepted him.

Ireland:  The bride carries a little decorative version of a horseshoe for good luck.  Back in the day the poor woman had to carry the real thing!  There they were in a white dress, lacy veil ... lugging a Percheron shoe.  Post-ceremony, glasses and forks are raised and the band plays Celtic music and step-dancers (hired professionals for a big wedding) clack away. 

Italy:  I've been wrangling for an invite to one of these for years!  Post-ceremony, it's onward to the chosen restaurant where guests are often rewarded for their attendance with the presentation of a 14-course meal!  Well worth sitting through a two-hour Mass with Communion.  The male guests all kiss the bride (to make the groom jealous - never a good idea in Italy) and they slip a check or cash-stuffed envelope into a bag the bride holds. 

Japan:  The Japanese have always preferred a low profile and weddings are no exception.  Very often they were limited to only family and very close friends.  Today they are much less exclusive.  The happy couple believe that the guests bring good luck and so they reward them with mementos of the day such as chopsticks with the pertinent information printed on them. 

Korea:  The ceremony usually takes place in the bride's home, but only after the prospective groom has presented a live goose to the mother-of-the-bride.  Geese mate for life and he is showing Mom  his intent.  I think  they could upgrade to a porcelain goose; the real thing is often tetchy.  Several days later, the now-married couple visit his parents who give them wine.  The newlyweds give the parents and guests dates and chestnuts, symbolizing the children they plan to have and the guests take them and throw them at the bride who attempts to catch them with her skirt.  La! The hi-jinks! 

Poland:  The parents bless their son and daughter on the church steps and then they all traipse into the church for the wedding.  Of real interest - the reception can last up to two days at which time the "second day" party takes off at the groom's home.  This certainly appealed until I read that the music is polkas.  On accordions.  C'mon - let's go crash the Italian wedding. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

In Which "Annabel" Becomes "Fred"

Annabel was carried into the Hermosa Animal Hospital as that and emerged newly-christened Fred.  No surgical instruments were involved; only the vet's sharp eyes. 

He's named Fred because he is black and white and his markings reminded me of a tuxedo which led to thoughts of Fred Astaire doing  "Top Hat and Tails."

Fred is young - 10 months to a year old, we were told - and feisty.  Upon release in the exam room, (meaning when he was finally pried out of the carrying cage) he took off like a rocket, around and around the exam room until the tech had to bag him with a big towel.   It was quite comical I thought as I stayed safely out of the way.

Fred is now in the backyard, resting from his exertions at the vet's.   Richie comforted him, not with apples, but a can of cat food.  He may think this was bad, but wait until next week when he will be turned back into Annabel for all intents and purposes. 

Never Be Surprised at a Wedding Ceremony Again

"Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette" by Anna Post and Lizzie Post  William Morrow   380 pages   $29.99

If you are a different faith or nationality than that of the happy couple, some of the things at their weddings may surprise you.  To avoid any possible neural shocks, the Posts et al have complied a very helpful précis of them.  With no further introduction ...

African-America:  very often the African colors are represented, predominantly red, green and gold Kente cloth which may be an altar cover.  The old ritual of "jumping the broom" may be included.  I think this dates back to the days when the only preacher available was a circuit rider and jumping the broom represented setting up a new, united household until the priest could arrive. 

British:  Banns (announcement of the intent) must be posted in the church of choice and read aloud for three consecutive Sundays, a custom which probably goes back to the days when travel was difficult; communication virtually non-existent and the only way to hear "official" news was at the church itself. 

Chinese:  Red is the color for happiness and luck and you may see a great deal of it at the wedding.  Fortune tellers and feng shui experts have examined the couples' birthdates, astrological signs and determined the best day (and time, occasionally) for the union. 

French:  the Catholic church still reigns and marriages in France start with the official marriage in the Mayor's office, closely followed by a church service and then a reception.  Included in the reception are the groom's family grumbling about, "Too long for drinks!  I thought we'd never eat!"  "What on earth was that dinner meat?"  (Huge sniff) "Three cakes are traditional; not two!  How stingy!"  I know; I was there.

Germany:  The excitement is the night before the wedding ceremony - it's a sort of pre-reception with the happy couple being teased and everyone sets to with a will smashing plates.

Greece:  Bridal veils are often bright red or yellow, symbolizing fire to ward off evil spirits.  The bride may have a sugar cube (for a sweet life) or a strand of ivy (for endless love)  secreted in a pocket. 

Hispanic:  Brides don't wear pearls - bad luck!  The traditional dress is white, but the bride will have sewn ribbons onto her lingerie - yellow for food; blue for money and red for passion.  But I wouldn't advise the gentlemen present to try to sneak a peek.  The male Latino (generally) has a fiery temper and a deep sense of ownership.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cryonics - Ice Breaker For Your Next Dinner Party

I've finished "Shocked - Adventures in Bringing Back the Recently Dead, '"  On page 146 the good doctor Casarett attends a "cryonaut" convention, hosted by Alcor, a premiere in the field of cryogenics, defined as the low temperature preservation of humans who cannot be sustained by current medicine.

Originally (and rather meanly) Dr. Casarett arrives expecting a crowd of mad science fiction horror fans.  Instead, among others, he listens to a young woman who is dying of cancer who tells the audience, "My doctors told me to take the standard treatments which cost $500,000.  They didn't work.  This only costs $200,000 and it's my only chance to be saved."  Frankly I suspected that the poor woman was suffering from "chemo brain." 

At the first lecture, he learns that working in the field and actually doing the work are the employees of Suspended Animation a subsidiary of Alcor.  For a successful cryonics ending the team must be on site as quickly as possible (ideally six hours) to transfer the deceased to an Alcor facility.

Such is my cynicism that I wonder why these cryonic firms are in business and not jail.  A thousand year "sell by" date?  I worry about the sad, silly people who believe that being frozen and subsequently thawed will restore them to life.  Those chemicals have to be changed; the storage facilities have to be staffed and maintained - for 1,000 years?  Ah, ye of great faith in a slick sales person ...Greed takes on ignorance and you know who is going to win.

And then I began to think about the morality of offering such a service and why the recipient has such a tremendous fear of death?  An unoriginal thought, but dead is dead.  I think it's a direct denial of any faith in God or Allah or your choice of deities because if you were a religious person, you would accept the Prime Mover's life direction - we are born and then we die.   Depending on the religion, we either go to a fun place and see all our old mates again - or not. 

When your guests are seated around the table, enjoying the first course, ask in a neutral tone who, if they had unlimited money,  would prefer becoming a cryonaut or just fulfilling your destiny and being cremated or buried?  The ensuing discussion should prove to be lively.  For prudency you may want to limit the meal to soft foods like a quiche or something that doesn't require a steak knife to eat. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Subhuman Intelligence

One of the ways to prove you are a card-carrying member of the Anti-Mensa bunch is to get furious about something, vow revenge and start robbing, looting and burning down your own neighborhood.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting Ready for Winter

For most of us, winter is a time to hibernate with good books, good Websites and good food (always a priority around here for some reason.)

Bob (Well-Marbled) Brodsky, Ph. D, wrote to announce publication of his 7th or 8th book title "Pat and Bob TRIP the Light Fantastic."  

The husband and wife collaborated on this tome and their travels and enjoyment, mostly, of same are  quite interesting.  I'm  going to resort to quoting.

"You will visit the amazing sites that ancient Egypt established; inspect the Holy Land and Middle East; the Kasbahs of Northern Africa; the wonders of China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore; the countries of Western Europe as well as Russia from the Baltic to the Caspian Seas; boated down the Danube from Budapest to the Black Sea and visited both the eastern and western shores of Central and South America."  Whew - no one they're both in their '80s - they just got home! is an interesting site if you are into martial arts and arguments - er, "discussions" about karate styles and origins with some lush photographs of Okinawa dotted throughout.

Winter quick breakfast - buy a jar of almond butter and add a handful or two of candied ginger to it and stir.  Cut up an apple, dip slices in the jar and be on your merry way.  The vitamin C and the protein are good for you and the candied ginger will warm you up!

Bring summer back!  Whip up a jar or two of pineapple pickles.
1 qt. distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 chilis de arbre
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small pineapple, peeled, quartered, cored crosswise in 1/4 in. slices.

Put everything EXCEPT the pineapple in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  When the sugar has dissolved, let the pan cool, poor the contents into a bowl and add the pineapple.  Let cool, then refrigerate.  Said to be good served with a pork roast...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hurry! Summer Is Almost Over!

I'm pretty sure that the helicopter from the 34th Street heliport in Manhattan will cut back on flights to the Hamptons after Labor Day.  So what we need to do is fly to New York and take it.

Town & Country magazine says "blading" into the Hamptons is ever-so-chic.  Certainly, they would know -- example of their great discernment - the cover blares, "Should your jewels match your furs?"  Indeed a pressing matter to so many of us...

For those who have never been to "the Hamptons" don't fret too much.  Many of the people who drive out there never get there at all - that's how bad the traffic is said to be.

There are ways to get around this - sort of.  The Hampton Ambassador Jitney is $45 one way; a car service is $450, but I think you have to provide your own six-pack. 

But trumping all of that frou-frou is Blade, partnered with Liberty helicopter.  A six-seat chopper takes one from Manhattan to East Hampton and Southampton for $575; to go to Montauk is $625.  If you take the Blade Ultra, it's $895 but at the terminal, you are offered free rose and mini-lobster rolls.  "Oh, thanks darling - had a lobster roll on the Blade, so I'm full."  And a free copy of the NY Post which brings the "tone" down quite a bit in many people's estimation. 

Posh extra - if your flight is grounded due to unstable weather, you will be driven to your destination by a chauffeured Maserati - for free.  That kinda makes up for the Post, doesn't it?   

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pros and Cons of Cat Adoption

Richie is really infatuated by the stray cat.  I know he wants to bring her into the house.  But if no one responds to the flyers I put out, then we have to:

Get her used to the cat cage by putting a towel on the floor of it, making sure the door won't engage and feed her a few kibbles in it from time to time.  Like a mint on a hotel pillow.

Once she doesn't fear the cage, the door is locked and away we sail to the vet's for a wellness check and the anti-flea monthly doses.

Then a collar (bright red) and return tags as well as insurance at VIP Pets (where the other two cats have been registered since we got them.)

I estimate that "Annabel" is about a year old.  Going by the ages of our previous and original four cats (three siblings; one "favor" cat - "Oh, I'm moving and I can't have a cat there...") deaths of age 13, 17, 17, and 19; they live on average 16 years and five months.  In 16 years and five months, I  will be 90 years old!

As it is, both present cats are 12 years old and to insert a year old into their mix would be like installing her in an old folk's home. 

So far she plays well with Minuit who loves "outdoors" so much she'd probably like to join her.  Unfortunately, Streak, a calico, will probably try to kill her.*  She does not play well with others and is the dominant of the two present cats.

* Presuming Annabel is not a male.  If "she" is male then a rather different name will have to be assigned.  A male cat named "Annabel" is just a little too gay.

Friday, August 15, 2014

An Interesting Book

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it should be.  I'll let the author's words speak for him.

"Shocked - Adventures in Bringing Back the Recently Dead" by David Casarett, MD   Current   260 pages   $27.95

"Recently dead" was a phrase that unveiled my English teacher persona.  It doesn't seem right somehow to call a patient who has croaked on an OR table that because there is a team of medical personnel working desperately to revive the patient.  "Briefly dead" seems a better choice ...

But let me not quibble about details and move on.  In today's world we have space age technology to revive someone.  Particularly if you go back to Amsterdam in 1769...

A woman is found lying face down in a canal.  She is quite dead.

But hark!  Comes two men, well-dressed and prosperous looking who haul the body up and out of the canal.  A handy log is used to put her stomach-down on it and roll her back and forth.  Water does emerge from her mouth, but the woman shows no sign of life. 

The woman is taken to a nearby tavern, wrapped in blankets and put in front of the fire.   The apothecary comes bustling in and begins to rub her down with a mixture of spirit of rosemary and ammonia.  A pot of boiling water is put on her feet.  The apothecary rigs up a pipe and blows tobacco smoke into her rectum. (Perhaps the origination of the phrase "You're just blowin' smoke?) The woman is indifferent (because she's still dead.)

The apothecary bends over his bag, finally straightening up waving triumphantly his ultimate weapon  --a long white feather.  Knowledgeable crowd members murmur, "Yup, knew they'd have to pull out the feather."  Said feather is used to tickle the poor woman's throat - as far back as the apothecary can place it.

Apparently fed up, the woman begins choking, gasping and vomiting.  The rescuers ply her with gin and then everyone goes about their business.

I'm still reading (page 125) and all sorts of fascinating tidbits are emerging.  Suspended animation or hibernation is pursued because it would be extremely useful for a wounded soldier who may be 36 hours from medical help.

His style is anecdotal and he uses frequent comparisons to things the lay person understands as opposed to medical terms.   

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Idle Chitchat - or Sinister?

Thurs. Writers always begins with a brief conversational period while everyone gets there.

Today, I said, "The Lord moves in mysterious ways ... ("Amen!" said one irreverently) ) "Robin Williams, 63; Betty Bacall, 89: and then there's poor old ZsaZsa Gabor - she's got to be 98, down to one leg and still with us."

"I wouldn't be so sure Cooper said, sinisterly, "Prince-y stands to lose a lot when she dies.  She may be on life support ... anything to keep her going."

Food for thought indeed.

On the way home, northbound on PCH where Catalina turns into PCH, Richie stopped for the light, but a black SUV barreled right on through.  Richie honked his horn at him and when the light changed, he was exactly one lane over from us.

The SUV driver rolled down his back side window (the passenger window was already open so he must have been royally pissed.)  And delivered a profanity laden diatribe at the end of which Richie gave him a genial goodbye("F--k you!" as I recall)  as traffic moved forward.  The guy wasn't thorough -- he yelled out the rear window again, "I'm gonna remember your car!"

Richie said, "Help yourself" and rolled up his window.  I burst out laughing and said, "Does he have any idea whatsoever of the number of cars that look exactly like yours?  Happy hunting, dude!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Requiescat In Pace

Betty Perske Bogart Robards Bacall
September 16, 1924 - August 12, 2014

Her career lit up age 20 and lasted nearly 70 years.  She's earned her rest.


Requiescat In Pace

                         Robin Williams
Born 7/21/1951    (suddenly) 8/11/2014

Based on the media references to his  frequent substance abuse, alcohol abuse and severe depression, I'd like to believe he is now (finally) serenely content. 

In an interview (one of many now re-published) he said that cocaine slowed him down mentally.  Having had some experience with this drug 40 years ago (strictly for scientific reasons) I found that Peruvian marching powder upped my verbal game considerably.  In conclusion if that s--t calmed him down, please do not think about how fast he was going naturally.  Scarier than a Stephen King novel. 

Personally, I remember him expressing points of view I was able to adapt into my own life.  Working NHRA for Pennzoil, every day as I walked into the press room for the first time of that day, I was thinking "Goooood morrrrrning Viet Nam" because it was a bastion of the Old Boys Network and they were much more often lecherous than honestly welcoming. 

I always wanted to use this expression but never had the opportunity, so to paraphrase, "Robin I hope you didn't go to that place that's 'hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut.'" 


Monday, August 11, 2014

I Have to Wonder What's In the Water...

The South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club has some really old members, which if you think about it, isn't so surprising because New Orleans jazz has been around for Quite A Long Time. 

But:  their mobility is amazing.  Example:  Sara and I were watching the dancing couples and the distaff half of one pair was a woman I have privately called "Plastic Spring-o-laters"  because she is almost always wearing a pair.  I once complimented her on a particular pair and she said that she really should be careful with them as her provider in downtown L.A. was getting quite old and will probably quit making them soon.  

"Plastic" and her husband, a longtime member of the Hyperion Outfall Serenaders were jiving about the dance floor with considerable enthusiasm.  Sara said, "Did you know she was 90 on her last birthday?" and I was, as they say, gob smacked.    I would have said 60 or 65. 

While we were discussing this in awed tones, the lady who sells the raffle tickets came up to us and we told her what we'd been discussing and she said, "I'll be 89 in three weeks."  Double gob smack. 

Side bar:  Three different people approached me and told me they had read my (very brief) Letter to the Editor the other day and that they agreed with me where upon followed torrents of abuse about greedy politicians, impracticalness of a bullet train to San Francisco and more. 

I urged each of them to write to the Editor, telling them to write short to fill in spaces in the page.  That writing short improves their odds of having their say in an area of the paper that is clearly popular and well-read.

Before we ever got to the jazz club however, we had breakfast.  I'd wanted to see how this works - Corned Beef Machacas - and I have to say, "Well." 

Two or three slices of the "heart healthy" corned beef, coarsely chopped
1/3 of a green pepper, chopped
2 slices of onion, chopped
3 T chopped pickled jalapenos
2 eggs
slice of Velveeta
Butter too cook it all.
Start by frying the chopped ingredients.  Beat up the eggs and add them to the pan.  Cook until eggs are done, lay the cheese over the whole thing and serve on a warmed tortilla.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday, August 10th

This afternoon is the jazz club and am looking forward to any funny tidbits I may glean.

After a long conversation with the new cat, Richie tells me that her name is "Annabel."   She announced her readiness for breakfast this morning by meowing right underneath our bedroom window.  She's never been in this house; how the hell did she know that? 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Richie Is Courting Another!

I've seen it for myself.  He brings her choice tidbits to eat; he put together a lavish bed for her!  He uses every chance he can grab to talk softly to her, all the while inching closer to her. 

And I think it's funny to see a grown man trying to tame a feral cat. 

Our balcony overlooks a concrete pad that serves as our patio.  It's stacked with empty pots, an old small table and a blue plastic crate on its side with a soft towel in a pad inside.  That's her new home. 

Her appetite is good.  She went through a bowl of kibbles yesterday afternoon like Grant took Richmond.  Richie reports that this morning she tore through a small can of cat food and about 1/2 cup of kibbles.  In return (what a whore!) she allowed him to pet her briefly and he told me he could easily feel her ribs.  Since I estimate that she's about a year old, this is not unusual in a maturing animal. 

We will take pictures of this cat and put them around the neighborhood as well as copies for the veterinarian hospital just in case she does belong to someone.  But given her wary alertness and quick ability to disappear, I don't think it's likely. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Psst - Quick Household Tips

Cook's Illustrated is now in.  I appreciate ways to make things easier and am going to assume that you do, too.  Here's tricks...

If you bake your own bread, when it's ready to be  put on the rack, steamy and driving you mad with the aroma, put the loaf on it's side on a rack for a moment or two and viola!  Exactly how to slice evenly.  The rack will leave a mark.

Useful for red wine drinkers - spill a bit?  No worries.  Combine equal parts hydrogen peroxide and dish detergent and saturate the stain which should disappear in about an hour.  My old remedy for carpet was to dump a bunch of salt on it.  The salt pulls the stain right up.  Or douse the stain in club soda.  If all that doesn't work, switch to a white or beer.

Like soft-poached eggs?  Serve the finished egg in a shot glass and you can easily decapitate it because the shell sticks up Just Right.

Going to strain something fine and just realized your colander has big enough holes for lima beans?  Slap a paper coffee filter in the colander and strain away.  I would leave it too long ... you are dealing with paper...

We have 13-gal. trash baskets and shaking the plastic sack into them leaves billowy gusts of bag flapping in the basket.  One-time solution:  drill  three holes close to the ground and one midline.  The liners will stay flat and you only have to drill these holes once for on-going good results.

Tired of seeing what everyone in the house had for lunch after they brush their teeth?  Put a plastic scrubber with a knob handle next to the bathroom sink and point out to family members its use.

Finally - got an almost empty mayonnaise jar?  Add a judicious amount of rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar to the jar, lid it and shake vigorously.  Instant cole slaw dressing. 

Now we all curtsy in unison and murmur, "Thank you, Cook's Illustrated." 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Letters to the Editor

My letter ran in this morning's (8/7/14) Daily Breeze.  Here it is in its entirety:

Trade rail for water
Re "Bullet train is back on track" (Aug. 2):
(I say) Derail it and put in five or six desalinization plants along our coast instead.
-Nina Murphy,
Redondo Beach

I am always pleased and gratified when one of mine makes the Breeze.  It makes me feel a part of the community.

However, I'd bask a great deal more if my submission would run in the Saturday L.A.Affairs" column.  It pays $300.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Heart Healthy Corned Beef Is Not an Oxymoron

The local deli is where I embarrassed myself and this is how:  I was looking at the billboard of sandwiches they make and spotted the little red heart that signifies heart healthy next to the listing for corned beef.

I turned to the counterman and said, "Dude, you need to fix your sign - corned beef is bad for you!  All of that fat?  To say nothing of the salt?"

He grinned back and said, "Ours is low fat and 50 per cent less salt - Here try a slice" shoveling one at me on a little slice of deli paper. 

I did; it was heavenly and I bought half a pound.  The deli's been my go-to for corned beef ever since.

Today I finally took a look at the label and it read: Columbus top round corned beef.  No wonder!  Top round is enormously more tender and densely "all meat" than the usual brisket which is loaded with fat.

A pound of Columbus is also $10.59 but for the health benefits?  No problem.   See if you can find it where you live. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


I love to watch "Jeopardy" because I am somewhat (to say the least) obnoxiously competitive.  One of the recurring categories is "Potpourri" which is French for a jumble; "mishigas" is Yiddish for the same thing.   And it describes today's column. 

Cousin Marvin, down in South Texas where McAllen is being bombarded by South American illegal-entry children, forwarded an article on the Gaza Tunnels, but because he didn't source it, I couldn't use it without verification.  (I'm funny about stuff like that.)  So I Googled "Gaza Tunnels - the full story" and page after page popped up.  I recommend the NPR site.  We listen to NPR in the car and like it.  The article was nicely moderated and the comments showed a much higher level of intelligence and overall comprehension than are usually found in the Daily Mail or equivalent. 

Foot Odor and Courtesy
I had my first appointment with wound care rehab on July 30th when they put my left leg in a triple-wrapped bandage that extended from the area just behind the toes on up to just below the knee.  I was sternly told to never let it get wet!! 

To that end I bought a cast cover and use it every morning in the shower.

On 8/4/I had the second and, knowing that they would replace the bandage, I began to worry about my toes smelling.  I mean, it is I got a baby wrap and diligently cleaned what I could.  I think you could also use that no-soap hand sanitizer, too.  So I show up, toes glistening and...they get a basin and wash the whole foot.   

Score 1 for them.

I'd brought the airplane/hospital sock I wear over it at night because they have rubberized soles which is needed because the bandages cover the sole of my foot and we have Pergo floors -- whoosh!  I showed it to them and suggested they issue one to every customer in the same situation.

They said, "Oh, there's plenty of them at the hospital!"  

Score 1 for me ...  

Next game, er, appointment is Thursday. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

"Will You Be My Friend?" Asks The Week Magazine

A free copy of this quasi-political, international news magazine landed in our mailbox just the other day.  Having just finished the last library book, I settled down to read it.

Things I liked:
A staffer writes what the article is about and then adds no less than three other editorial writers' opinions on the subject.  That is the kind of objectivity I can get behind.  With gusto.  I have battlefield boredom at the biased commentators for all political parties.  Give me a little pepper with the salt, wouldja?

Products for the Home - this week the products listed were for outdoor living upgrades.  A light that looks simply like an aluminum-framed empty box has LED tubes hidden in the framing for light.  $895

The Hotel of the Week was the Whitney Peak Hotel, Reno, where so-minded guests can scale the 164 ft. façade; said to be the world's tallest climbing wall.  In addition to the usual fancy amenities, of course.

Best Properties on the Market put the spotlight on the state of Georgia.  In Savannah - a 1920-built five bedroom home in one of the numerous squares there with all kinds of expensive upgrades with a garden, mature trees and an arbor.  $769,000.

Obituaries - "The author who challenged apartheid" (Nadine Gordimer) or "The agent who created the super model" (Eileen Ford)

The Last Word featured a story about the impossibility of getting a mental patient into forced custody for treatment.  The law will only do a forced 72-hour observation if said patient is a danger to themselves or others.  Never mind that said person hasn't been out of their house in two years, claims that the colander is telling them what to do (worn on the head for easier communication) or that they painted everything in the house (sofa included) either yellow or white. 

So my coy response to The Week's pleading is, "Maybe -- but send me another free copy to be sure."  How long do you think we can play that one?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

So - Where're You From? II

The Indians
The meals will all be vegetarian.  Their names most often are Patel or Singh.  A Frank wrote that he once asked, "Could passenger Patel turn on his call button?" and couldn't believe the ensuing noise in the gallery.

Personal aromas may in some cases be rather noticeable.  Many Indian religions are so adamant about excluding alcohol that wearing deodorant is not permitted.

The Australians and the New Zealanders
Caution again about mixing up groups.  Any one of either group will make it abundantly clear to anyone who is foolish enough to ask that they are entirely separate entities.  General speaking they are all friendly enough and usually very sleepy having come incredible distances just to get to the right destination. 

The Germans
Contrary to my own belief that all Germans are Nazis, A Frank thinks they are just a dandy bunch.  But Catering needs to be reminded if most of the pax are German and that it will be necessary to stock 90 per cent beef meals and that the bar will need a great deal of extra beer. 

The Russians
They are said to be very appreciative of American-based carriers because Aeroflot ("Aeroflop" in airline jargon) is so very bad.  They don't believe it's safe to check baggage and stagger on board with enormous suitcases.

The Scandinavians
Because liquor is so expensive at home, they will drink every drop available on the plane.  And, having depleted that supply, will nip into the duty-free bottles they are carrying (against flight rules.)  Amazingly enough, they rarely show any signs of inebriation. 

The Scots
A Frank loves them.  He says they are usually cheerful and courteous with kind words and a ready grin.  His only problem with them as a group is that it is very difficult to understand a word they are saying. 

The South Americans
They love hot chocolate and when they've gone through any on board, they'll ask for a cup of coffee and put about seven packets of sugar in it.  And when they want anything, they will say, "Psst!" or click their fingers to get your attention.  They are for the most part affable.

Female beauty is celebrated with gusto there and the gorgeous 22 year old you see across the aisle and up a row may actually be only 12!  Gentlemen, eyes on the i.d. if you please.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

So -- Where're You From?

A Frank Steward discusses various national groups he has met as a Flight Attendant.  As he didn't want to devote an entire book on this subject, he generalizes so we don't have to do it.

He started with  Americans (because he is one) and says that even before we open our mouths, he  knows. Americans, according to him,  positively exude an air of friendliness.  I had to think about that one for a moment and concluded that he's sort of right.  Americans on a foreign carrier to a European destination are friendly because they're curious and looking forward (usually) to a fun vacation. 

Not so much here in America.  New York passengers are sullen and easily pissed off.  Chicago and DFW tend to be friendlier.  In fact, I have never gotten out of DFW without listening to a lengthy response to any simple question that I might ask one of them.  Example:  Me to a young woman:  "Excuse me, do you know what time it is?

Response:  "Oh, hon, no.  Mah rat boyfriend got all drunked up and he ripped it right offa mah wrist and stomped on it!  Did you evah?  Ah told him, Ah hope you'ah prepared to buy me another one, you sumvabitch."

The British
First of all, do not tell a mixed group (Brits, Irish, Scottish) airily, "Oh, you're all from Great Britain!" because you will not like what happens next.

A Frank says other than that, you will never know if a Brit is pleased or not.  I think this stoicism  crept into the gene pool just after WW2.  They also blow their noses with great gusto and if three or more do it at the same time, you will think you are suddenly in the midst of a flock of geese.  They HONK!

The Japanese
They are often the most ideal passengers.  They usually eat all of any meal given them and they do not make unusual or incessant demands.

Maybe they're like that on a plane, but we once had a Japanese reporter with us in an off-road press room who was thoroughly obnoxious - to the point that I said to my boss quietly, "Let's do a reverse on Japan on December 7th - you in?"

Friday, August 1, 2014

Getting the Wheels On Straight

The Ragin' Cajun wheels are a little wobbly a full week after opening.  We know better than to try a restaurant the night of the grand opening.  Smarter people wangle invitations to pre-openings, but we don't know any chefs/owners.

We also went to show loyalty to the Hyperion Outfall Serenaders, a legendary local New Orleans jazz band.  So we do know people of renown in case you were clucking sympathetically with our woeful lack of fat Rolledexes.  

   When I was told "45 minutes" at the front; I said, "Next time!" and didi-ed outta there.  Himself was disappointed but he didn't forget and yesterday afternoon, he said, "Let's go back."  We did and were promptly seated on the spacious patio. 

The only things on the table were five bottles of Ragin Cajun-labeled hot sauces - Garlic; Raspberry Chipotle; Chipotle; Hot Sauce and Pepper sauce.  Cajun Ketchup was served with a dish and it would put an alert expression on your face. 

We ordered a Cajun martini for me and a Stella for him.  Waiter asked me what was in a Cajun martini?  "Aw, it's just a regular GIN martini with a splash of pickled jalapeno juice."  He nodded and took off. 

Three minutes later, he was back.  "I'm sorry, sir, but the Stella tap keg just ran out."  Richie ordered a Parrain Pilsner and the waiter went to get it.  When he came back, he turned to me and said, "I'm sorry, ma'am, but we don't have any pickled jalapeno juice." 

During one of his absences Richie pointed out Sazarac on the Real Drinks Menu.  I love these!  I once got knee-walking drunk on just three of them at the oyster bar across from the French Market.  I haven't had one since before Katrina (which, thinking about it, is perhaps just as well.)  Naturally I purred as it arrived, but I nursed it all through the meal.  Once burned...

We ordered crawfish popcorn (called "Crawfish on the menu" and they were sensational!  Just the right amount of warm, extremely crispy and very good.  They came in a little salsa-type container of the ketchup.  But I wanted to taste the garlic and the raspberry chipotle sauces with them.  No small serving plates so I improvised tasting plates by using the lid of the ketchup container and the empty butter box for the other.  

(I told our waiter then and the owner on the way out, that if they set out small plates with the appetizers, then people could try all of the sauces and more effectively market their products.) 

Our crab cakes with crawfish sauce arrived and we had to ask for silverware as did our neighbors.  Unfortunately the cakes were soggy; too much filler and covered with lashings of brown gravy with a forlorn crawfish and a pile of chopped green onion tops.  The texture was as they say "off." 

But we'll go back.  I'd go just for the crawfish popcorn!

Dinner and a drink each:  $80.74 plus a $15 dollar tip.  For better service, we'd have paid the full 20 per cent. 

Ragin' Cajun Café, 525 S PCH, Redondo Beach