Sunday, October 30, 2016


Before you start speed dialing for money, let me add some needed clarification:  it was four out of five numbers on the Fantasy Five.

Scene:  living/dining room Murphy household.  Richie is seated at the dining room table reading the newspaper.  Nina is crossing the room to go to the kitchen for more coffee.

Richie: " Hey!  I won on the lottery!"
Nina (not missing a beat)  "So - dinner in San Francisco tonight?"
Richie, warm chuckle, "Not exactly - it was four out of five."
Nina:  "How much?"
Richie:  "$431."
Nina:  "We could still do San Francisco ..."
Richie waves  a dismissive hand and picks up the Sports section.

Yes, I agree that having $400+ fall into your pocket is a nice thing.  But:  if you consider the history, by my calculations, the California Lottery owes Richie another $35,969.

My thinking:

Richie bets $20 a week.  Times 52 weeks that is $1,040 per year times 35 years (the length of time I've known him) for a grand total of $36,400 bet. 

Am I right or what? 

National Cat Day update:  Richie gave the cats new catnip on their old scratching pads.  They seemed content enough.  But now that we've had this $431 windfall, don't tell them - I won't blow $240 on an automatic toilet for them. 

On the other hand, if the California Lottery pays Richie back the $35,969 owed, I might consider it.  And Richie might spring for two dinners in San Francisco.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

National Cat Day

You can still slip our and buy something.  Cats don't know one day from another if you blow it today.

What they do know is "Mealtime!"  Nap time seems to be a floating holiday - any time is a good time. 

I love cats because they aren't particularly demonstrative.  If they feel like being nice to you, they will be.  If not, they will give you The Look (dismissive) and lash the last 1 1/2 in. of their tail.  "Move it on down the road."

But in the effort for fair reportage, when (or if) National Dog Day comes along, will advise.  With equal space.  I think dogs must be easier to buy for - they get to go out and they love riding in a car.  "Whoo, boy!  Adventure!"

(Car rides for cats almost always involve visiting the vet and so they are naturally unenthusiastic about them.)

                     HAPPY NATIONAL CAT DAY to Minuit, Streak and Fred 

Friday, October 28, 2016

By Jingoes, Now I Know It's a Real Presidential Campaign!

You only git the dead out for the Big One.  They ain't up for gittin' bothered for no City Councilor    ner nothin' like that. 

How am I knowin'  this?  Here's a whole stack a headlines from that citified Drudge Report:

Dead cast ballots in Chicago
From the grave in Philly
Vote flipping in Maryland
Election fraud in Florida
Fake registration in Virginia

Them headlines ain't talking 'bout the Animal Control Offier in Leftcenter, KS.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

"Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore" and Set Fire To It

You're a privileged, white, genocidal thief!  So says one Misao Dean, a tenured English professor at Canada's  University of Victoria, to tell us that Canada's choice of a canoe as a part of their logo is reprehensible!

Dean is waving the banner for Indians or in PC "Native Canadians."   She claims, vociferously no doubt, that The White Man stole their means of transportation (Ed. note - steam hadn't been invented yet) and even unto to today flaunts it by poncing around on the beautiful waters of Canada!

I had not realized that our great border country had Indians (PC!  Native Americans) let alone that enough of them could be insulted by a white man in a canoe on a Canadian lake.   I think any right thinking person (Indian or not) would look out onto the lake and assign tourist dollars spent, using a mental calculator to add up how much each Indian - or not - could gouge from this well-educated, well-off white man.

As a member of the so-called "fairer sex"I find it rather insulting to have been excluded from consideration in wearing a banner or, more likely, a t-shirt that says "I'm a genocidal thief."  If you don't know by now, I'll tell you with confidence that women can be just as evil and vicious to Canadian Indians as any male.  Even though we might hire one to row us around the lake in our lovely canoe.  We'd punish them by not making conversation.  How's that for mean?!


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

HURRY - Only 3 Shopping Days Left!

Don't disappoint your cat!  Saturday, October 29th is National Cat Day, created by animal activist Colleen Paige in 2005.  The International Cat Day was designated by the International Fund for Animal Welfare on August 8, 2002.

History now behind us, what can we buy for the cat?  I went looking - we have three cats and there are only two of us.  You can see where being outnumbered could lead to retributions of an ugly sort involving "missed" litter boxes, hairballs expelled in various notably delicate places ...  Best to acquiesce. 

The Cat Genie 120 is $240 and is a fully automatic cat toilet.  It looks like a bidet.  The washable gravel (part of the process) is in the basin.  What happens - cat wanders in, does its business and saunters insouciantly away, not even bothering to do the otherwise mandatory scritch scritch to hide the scent from other cats with whom they have been living for the past 14 years.

Whammo - the cat toilet goes in to action.  A shallow scooper darts out and down under the gravel, retrieving waste material which is dropped in a box.  Inside the box chemicals dissolve the natural result of a can of food and it is flushed away.  Meanwhile, another pipe (hooked to your cold water dispenser, flushes the gravel and a dryer pops out and dries it!  I could almost spend $200 just to see it work.  Almost.

Other lesser treats include:

Bone Broth with Tumeric* - a liquid treat for cats and dogs (presumably different doses) 5 oz. for $13.71.

The fainting couch/scratch pad shaped to resemble a Dachshound.   This is a divan for Ms. Kitty's lounging enjoyment and, if she wakes up pissed off at something, she can scratch the hell out of it.  $28.99

The DJ scratch pad - printed as if it was a turntable with the record arm serving as a push toy.  $35

A cat camera - video that clips on to the cat's collar for a "cat's eye" view of their world.  This might actually be interesting.  But once would be enough; might try to rig up a harness for the smart phone's camera...and patent it and sell it. 

"Cat Dreams" is a video described by the vendors as "cat porn" and I was momentarily startled until I read further that it is mice running away from capture and little birdies tweeting tweeting for $13.50  Here's the alarming part - it runs for an hour and a half! 

Verging further into something vaguely sinister, you and your cat can now toke up - the cat's are catnip-stuffed "joints" that look to be made of white terrycloth.  3 for $10.

Cosmic Catnip Bubbles $5.99 for a bottle.  You blow the bubbles, the cat chases and pops them.

And finally, the Harry & David Fruit of the Month revamped for a cat from KitNipBox - every month, a box arrives with toys and edible treats for the cat.  $19 to $29.

*  Tumeric for a cat didn't sound right to me, but I figured if they were selling it, it must be okay because the ensuing lawsuits if it wasn't would put them out of business.

"Mr. December," a friend and fellow cat fancier,  wrote to say that he thought turmeric would have a deleterious effect on the cat's interior, specifically bowel movements. 

Caveat emptor.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Truthiness and Bacon

"Truthiness" is a weasel word that I thoroughly despise and the definition will tell you why:  Truthiness - the quality of seeming or being felt to be true even if not necessarily true.

Another definition points out that what you think/feel/intuit is true tops the real truth.  Which goes far to explain several political campaigners' verbal "truths."  "Oh, it's sorta, kinda true" doesn't fly with me.  It is or it isn't.  Period. 

Very well, as there is nothing I can do on the national level to refute this deplorable trend, let us turn to domestic matters, namely food.  And I am very, very interested in food.  Not so much - or at all - in national matters.  "Stick to what you know, kid" - someone famous said it.  Not that I can remember who it was.

Bacon.  Bacon comes two ways - raw and you fry it up yourself and "Fully Cooked" which, in my experience isn't.  I have tried several kinds - Trader Joe's label in a bright orange box in their meat departments and a couple of Kroger/Ralph's brands such as "Simple Truths." 

The latter alarmed me more than somewhat because while reading the Simple Truth's box info I read that the pigs that made the bacon were fed a totally vegetarian diet.  This raised all sorts of questions and none of them were pleasant.  Did previous pig diets include small animals?  Small or fattish children?   Were either or both raised as a cash crop in the bacon industry? 

Let us not dwell on possible responses to these pressing questions. 

"Fully Cooked" in the bacon circles I've visited include the fact that to eat them, you have to nuke them - briefly, albeit.  Or quickly pan fry them which more or less destroys any image you may have had of tearing open the box and shoving strips of "done" bacon into your mouth.   Still 20 seconds in a paper towel in the microwave is a lot faster than standing at the stove cooking raw bacon, turning it and turning it until it's done.  For the impatient among us (and I am one of their leaders) this is not bad.

Applications for nearly fully cooked bacon - nuke a strip to give crunchiness to your chipotle chicken sandwich on white air bread.  Boar's Head makes a great chipotle-flavored mayo and altogether, it makes a good sandwich.

Or try this with scallops - saute 6 sea scallops, drain the liquid and set the "dry" scallops on a plate.  Nuke the jar of Bacon Jam (it gets crunchy after prolonged refrigerator life) so you can daub some across the top of each scallop.  Having nuked 2 strips of bacon, cut them in thirds and garnish the top of each scallop.  The very faint hint of vinegar in the jam accessorizes the sweetness of the scallops and provides a nice non-alarming ping! in your mouth. 

If you don't like Bacon Jam, try orange marmalade... 

And Kroger, Ralph's, Trader Joe?  Label this bacon as "Almost fully cooked."  Don't give us "truthiness" with our bacon.  We don't like it.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Annual T-Day Dilemma - Family Tradition vs. "Something New"

As adults, I bet we all have particular memories of the family T-Day dinner and as a result pretty much have a set menu for our own tables and guests.  And as a result of that, we may have generated fans for our remembered dinners.  So:  do you spring some new dishes or ways of preparing old dishes or don't worry about it?  "Eat what I put in front of you!" is never a bad idea ...

I came across a recipe for an unusual pie crust featured in an ad in Bon Appetit that intrigues me and the mag's recipe for a Fall/Winter appetizer.  You be the judge ...

8 fresh figs, split in half and set aside
2 slices of bacon, cooked and cut into thirds or fourths and set aside  Bacon should be cut to fit across the long point of the fig. 

3 T maple syrup
2 T red wine vinegar
1 teas. red chili flakes

Cook the bacon, keeping a little bacon fat in the pan.  Add the maple syrup and swirl it around, then cook the figs - cut side down - in the bacon fat.

Remove when the figs are cooked, add the red wine vinegar to the pan and cook the sauce.
Plate the figs cut side up, dribble sauce over then, garnish with a piece or two of bacon and flick the chili flakes over them. 

I like the sound of this so much that I may actually make it.  I have an on-going "fig problem." In theory, I like them.  In reality, I buy them, never do anything with them, they rot and I throw them out.  As fig season is usually a short one out here, they are expensive ($5 for six or eight of them) so what I should do is just throw a $5 bill in the trash and carry on, fig-less.  But ... this does sound good ...

(Don't you think this might work well with a pumpkin or pecan pie?  Maybe even an open-faced apple pie?  Open-faced meaning no top crust, latticed or not.)
1 cup of dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup "desiccated" coconut
1/2 cup cacao powder  (would probably omit - this doesn't seem like a "chocolatey" thing)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 T sesame seeds (would omit)

Cuisinart all of the above until it's the texture of coarse sand.  Take a spring form pan, line it with parchment, pat your mixture to cover the bottom of the pan and chill it until you put in your filling and bake it.  They never mentioned what temperature to bake the pie, so whether you go by what's "normal" for the filling or not, I don't know.  I don't bake.  Use your best judgement - and your nose - this seems like it would burn if not carefully watched.  And I'd use a regular pie pan, not this airy "springform" because we don't have one and am not about to buy one.  If I paid $5 for figs and another $5 for a fancy pan and don't use the figs like I usually do, we could go broke in a fairly quick period of time. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Upgrading the Thanksgiving Family Gathering

Town and Country suggests renting a Caribbean villa for the extended family holiday.  I don't know if turkeys are native there so perhaps it would be a good idea to bring one in an ice chest just to be safe.  Normally I wouldn't advise trying to bring an ice-chested turkey on board a commercial flight, but, of course, you'll be floating in on your own G5 so, no worries.

"What's that, you say?  'I didn't fly all the way here to cook a damn' turkey!'"  Dahling, these places have a chef either in residence or on call.

T & C offers four villas as an indication of "typical" for rents.  I pass this along to you, individual costs factored in.

Turks and Caicos - "Hawksbill" with 10 bedrooms to accommodate 22 guests.  For your amusement - a hot tub, tennis court, game room, pool and arranged snorkels at a natural reef.
$68,250 for a week or $3,102 per guest for the week or $443 per night. 

Anguilla - "The Beach House" with 8 bedrooms to house 16 people.  There is a chef, theater, game room, tennis court and pool plus the dubious distinction of having been Justin Bieber's Christmas retreat last year.  $75,000 or $4,687 per week; $700/night.

Anguilla - "Cerulean Villa" with 9 bedrooms, a staff of 18, a putting green, yoga classes, tennis lessons, water sports and a full-service spa - your rental includes 30 hours of treatments.  $175,000 per per week;  $9,722 per person per week or $1,388 per night figuring 18 guests (with 18 staff.)

St. Bart's  "Danse De Lune" - "is so secluded that you can swim nude" (lap pool provided) for $8,000 per week for four people -  $2,000 week; $285/night.  Main selling point for some of us:  Children under 10 years of age are barred from staying here.

On a personal note, I am still kicking myself for not exploring the ad I once saw in a Palm Springs real estate sales brochure - a six unit motel with a pool and manager's apartment for, if memory serves, $200,000. How perfect would that be for entertaining?  Everyone would have their own bathroom and the units could be divided as to "smoking" and "non-smoking" so no unnecessary ugliness among the guests.  It is also much easier to clean up one room when they're gone than it is to clean up an entire house.  For one thing, you can take your time doing it!  Or one fell swoop, a maids service or professional cleaning crew. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Campaign Promises You DON'T Want Kept

Madonna, former performer and professional tweaker of public offense, has come up with a new way to grab what is hopefully her last 15 minutes (if that) of attention.  Her career as an offense on the way to a stage has included near nude performances, a coffee table book tersely entitled "Sex" featuring her at her sleaziest, her inability to make or direct a good movie and subsequent discussions with the courts on whether she or her former husband Guy Richie should have custody of their son are apparently not satisfying enough.

Now that she's 58 years old, the stage lights are dimming ... and she is desperate.  Never having been known to have any sense of humor whatsoever,  she is probably sincere in this generous offer for a free STD when, as the opening act for comedian (and there are doubts about that, too) Amy Schumer at Madison Square Garden the other night, the woman who has made a career (or something like one) of shocking much of the public offered the audience free oral sex (aka in the vulgate as a "blow job") in return for a vote for Hillary Clinton.  .

If the thought of a haggard, bony old bawd attacking what's under your bathing suit (and by all accounts this includes women) is by no means alluring,  save yourself.  Remind yourself repeatedly that you're safe in the voting booth - they're private - unlike Madonna who would give it up to an armadillo.  And probably has.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Elections Weren't Always Like This

Christine Lynch, a fellow South Bay Writers Workshop member, "got" (our reference) the Daily Breeze "My Turn" column this morning.  It is titled "Election season strikes up fond memories of campaigns." 

The first line of her piece will shock you, especially if you are less than 50 years old:  "Presidential elections used to be festive and friendly."  Not since JFK vs. Nixon.  And that was a long time ago.

Lynch wrote that the first election she remembers was the Eisenhower-Stevenson engagement.     I remember politics as a clearer, cleaner event back then.  Men were still wearing hats with their suits!  Women peeled off their white gloves to vote!

It's a good read and I recommend it as a calming, soothing bit of nostalgia that can perhaps -- only perhaps because the next thought might be, "How the hell did it come to this?!" - refresh.
"My Turn"   Christine Lynch
"Election season strikes up fond memories of campaigns"


Monday, October 17, 2016

Calif. Prop. 60 - Porn Performers Must Use Condoms

California voters will be asked to vote for porn performers to use condoms.  (pause for hysterical laughter as various scenes flicker through your mind - Official Condom Inspector with a screen credit on the finished product.  "Finished" used deliberately.)

We have already done this with Measure B to which no one in that industry paid any attention.   Or so I am told.  The only porn movie I've ever seen was at a party in the '60s where it ran on a loop against a living room wall and the only affect it had on me and 95 per cent of the other guests was uproarious laughter. The other five per cent were passed out on the floor and incapable of critique.

Mentioned only to show that I am not a qualified speaker on this matter. 

Anyhow as if we don't have enough silliness in this season, we are now expected to pass a proposition that requires porn producers to call OSHA and notify them every time the cameras are about to roll on a new production.  Additionally, the producers pick  up the testing and medical costs for the performer. 

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who formulated the prop squares up with Ela Darling, LA President of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee. 

Darling earned a graduate degree in library science and became a reference librarian.  Apparently desiring a more active business life, she came to LA and became a porn star.  She said, "People like to imply that we're (porn performers) stupid.  Most of us are educated, very smart.  It's what we want to do." 

If it's smart to go cruising for suicide by AIDS, more power to ya, lady.  Meanwhile, if you enjoy a good laugh, grab a porn movie and see if your old 6th grade teacher is starring in it.  If a reference librarian can become a star ...  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cactus Soup

Las Brisas, 1969 Artesia, Redondo Beach, is the only restaurant that we've ever been in that has cactus soup on the menu.  When, 32 years ago, we first saw it at Las Brisas, we were curious enough to order a cup.  It tasted like ... split pea, but with ... something else ... which was the cactus.

The chef explained that the restaurant has a regular delivery of them from a farmer in Baja.  And due to uncertainty about the crop, gathering, delivery and so forth, it wasn't always on the menu.  It has apparently proved itself to the buying customers though because now it is permanently on the menu along with albondigas and pollo fideo, a variety of chicken soup.

Yesterday we were in Smart & Final, Iris' new store.  I was looking for El Pato jalapena salsa (umgotz) and lo and behold!  a large glass jar with La Costena Tender Cactus Nopalitos!  The cacti contained there in were spineless, pale green strips of tender-looking cactus. 

The 29.1 oz. jar sells for $1.99.  Any Mercado or Mexican grocery store should have them as well as Smart & Final.  Ingredients:  cactus, water, onion, coriander, serrano peppers, salt, vinegar. 

Thus -- with no further ado --

1 can split pea soup with bacon (or not if you're a vegetarian)
10 - 12 strips cactus, drained and diced

Heat soup, toss in cactus and serve. 

We have some leftover cooked but naked spaghetti and I am thinking about sautéing some chopped red onions, a few strips of chopped cactus in butter and tossing in the spaghetti for a side to scallops for tonight's dinner.  There's more than one reason to strip a cactus.

Later:  The dish turned out well; will do it again when all of the signs and ingredients re-occur.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Voter Fraud Doesn't Have to be Inevitable

That is if the rising tide of sewage rushing us through the gutters at a rapidly accelerating speed toward the open ocean to pollute it, too (Calling Al Gore) doesn't deter us from voting on November 8th.

There has been a great deal of noise about how NON-PC it is to demand that everyone with the temerity to actually get up off the couch and trundle their weary way down to the polls to vote has to show a picture I.D.   The screams and squawks of such as the ACLU about the ripping away of personal information just to vote have been horrendous. 

If you're not voting for the second or third time and you are actually, in fact, alive and not moldering in some quiet Kansas cemetery, what's the big deal?  Have you ever tried to board a plane without picture I.D.?  Did you turn down having your photo on your drivers license?  (Good luck with that one, incidentally.) 

As with most things in politics "much ado about nothing at all." 

As a fervent and permanently suspicious eyer of the Presidential votes, I plan to bring my passport to the polls and make a point of showing that I did.  (Assuming loud voice)  "Yes, I really am Nina Murphy and HERE'S MY PASSPORT TO PROVE IT."   This isn't going to have much of an impact at our polls, populated as they are with decent (for the most part,) middle-class God-fearing people, but it will quietly make me feel better.  . 

The other thing I read requires a certain finesse to carry off without getting shot, but with prudence, a good watching place and a cell phone camera, you should be okay.  Here's the situation:  as you entered the polls, you saw a school bus or minivan parked in the lot.  As you vote, you notice several people that "don't belong" (which is any definition you care to use.)  As they exit, take a shot of them boarding the bus.

Fire up your old Hupmobile and follow the bus.  If it goes to the next polling place and the passengers debark, shoot pictures of it.  Notify the police and your local newspaper. It would be prudent to have the dispatcher number and the news desk of the paper on speed dial. 

Go home with a happy glow.  You've done your bit to stop voter fraud. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Now That Was a Funeral!

"Paris Was Yesterday - 1925-1939"  by Janet Flanner   Popular Library   232 pages   $1.25 1972 edition, paperback

Flanner was a young wanna-be writer in Paris when the New Yorker magazine hired her to write a column called "Letter From Paris."  It was a roaring success; soon she knew everyone of importance in the arts in Paris.  She has a great style, drily witty and a joy to read.  To entice  you into reading the book, here is her account of the funeral of Marshall Foch, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies in France during the last year of the war. 

Marshall Foch, 1851 - 1929

When the catafalque was exposed beneath the Arc de Triomphe, children who had been up all night in trains were held shoulder-high to view the bier.  In the jam, orphan girls, tied to each other by a rope whose end was around the waist of an anxious nun, were pulled up and down the curb like Alpine climbers. 

Taxis and Rolls circled in an endless gyrating ring around the Etoile, whole families seated on the hoods.  Seven thousand mourners an hour passed the bier.  Before dusk, 2 million were packed for blocks along the side streets and helplessly broke the police barrage, being swept past without seeing anything but their own fright.

It was  estimated that 3 million people saw the procession, but only a fraction could have done it comfortably, well or even at all.  Windows in the Rue de Rivoli rented at 5,000 francs.  A perch on a lamppost cost 50.  Men swarmed in trees, on roofs and sat on chimney pots.  (Ed. note - presumably for free)

For the most part, women saw the Marshall's caisson by turning their backs to it while looking into mirrors held aloft. 

At his house and at the Cathedral, while thousands waited to pay him homage, the lines were closed from 12 noon to 2 p.m. - in deference to that unflinching French tradition - luncheon - which apparently even death does not alter."

That was what any sane person would describe as a "funeral, by God" while smacking their lips.

Hold on there - it can't compare with the attendance at one C. N. Annadurai, of Chennai, India's funeral.  He drew a reported 15 million mourners.  Take that, Paris. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Richie Writes to the Editor

Dear Editors, Daily Breeze

Re Stumpf "Retirement"

Q.  Why do bank executives always look tired?

A.  They sleep on lumpy mattresses - filled with their savings.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pumpkin Season - Have a Bite of This Cucurbita Pie!

Trader Joe had a big beautiful display of exotic pumpkins and another of the traditional bright orange babies.  The exotics entranced me due to their varied colors - a big bronze one, little baby white ones .. dark green ones (!)

Which inspired me to look up pumpkins.  A very good source is for your further perusal.  Until you can get around to it, here are some tidbits.

Types of pumpkins - the Cinderella, so named for Cinderella's coach.  It said to have a good flavor.

Baby Boo which are tiny whites to keep in a shaded spot else they will turn yellow in the sunlight.

The Amish "looks like an apple" and is a creamy yellow.

The Fairy Tale which goes from dark green to a mahogany finish.  This one originated in France and there is called "Musque de Provence." 

How the hell did an American pumpkin wind up in France?  Christopher Columbus is said to have brought the seeds in to Europe and in France, they were grown to feed the pigs.

The Latin for "pumpkin" is "cucurbita" but they are called "pepon" in Greek.  Originally, pumpkins more closely resembled long-necked squash.  Today, growers refer to squash, corn and beans growing together as the "Three Sisters" - something complicated about the bean in-ground chemicals nourish the squash which protects the corn stalks, all very confusing and in the end, good for them, but not very interesting to those without a garden. 

Good qualities for a pumpkin that will last longest for display purposes - a hard skin and "handles" (assuming this refers to a stout stem.)  

When letting little kids play with the small ones, wash them thoroughly because they will gnaw on them. 

A common Thanksgiving  illustration shows a woman in a black dress with a white apron proffering a pumpkin pie - crust and filling.

But this is not what was actually eaten all those long years ago.  The following was the featured dessert at the second Pilgrim's Thanksgiving:

PILGRIM PUMPKIN PIE  Get a medium-size, firm fleshed pumpkin and cut off the top and set it aside - it's going to be the pie lid.  Then scoop out the seed and strings and fill with a beaten together mixture of cream, honey, egg and spices (sounds like egg nog, no?)

Here's the hard part for most of us - bury the pumpkin in the ashes in the back of the kitchen fireplace and cook until the shell is tender.    The great barbecue artistes that live among us could probably duplicate fireplace ashes so all is not lost.  This year amaze your dinner guests - the presentation alone could be worth an admittance fee to the feast...hmmm...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Gentleman vs. Lout or Homemade or Store Bought

A Taste of Home, a foodie magazine that purports to transport us back in time to the family dining room table, included the following recipe:


1 1/2 lbs. thick-sliced bacon, finely chopped
8 shallots, finely chopped
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
pinch of pepper
1/2 cup whiskey
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Cook the bacon, drain on paper towels.  Toss all but 2 T grease and saute the shallots and onion. 
Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Remove from heat, stir in the whiskey - DON'T LET IT FLARE UP and maple syrup.  Back to the fire, boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the vinegar and brown sugar, stir constantly for 3 minutes.

Add the bacon, bring down the heat and cook for 12 minutes

They recommend putting half of the finished product in a Cuisinart and then mixing the pureed with the clumpy and, after it cools, bottle it and label it prettily and give it to close friends.  Don't ship it to far away destinations because it only lasts five days in the refrigerator.  All three cups of it.

The above is the gentleman's version.  Below is the lout's -
Liberate a $20 from you loved one's purse/wallet, go to the nearest Trader Joe's and buy a jar of Uncured Bacon Jam, 8.5 oz.  Buy some English muffins to put the jam on and sally forth home to feast.  To be less "loutish" it would be good form to invite the person who funded this purchase to join you at the table. Just sayin'...

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Pre-emptive Strike Against Fat Season

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness..." first lines of the poem To Autumn by John Keats.

Fat season should have been included, because the opening gun in this American season is scarfing up all of the Halloween candy we can find followed by The Biggest Dinner Of the Year (Thanksgiving) and then the sweet excesses of Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa and Festivus.

It is a sage person (reference to T-Day stuffing!  Get it?  Get it?) who can avoid gaining excess pounds to love in winter.  Thus, out of the kindness of my sympathetic heart, (gratuitous foo-fa-ra; I don't have a heart)  here are some tips I gleaned from Taste of Home, suggesting substitutions. 

INSTEAD OF                   TRY THIS
spaghetti                             spaghetti squash - I tried this once - and it was awful.
mashed potatoes                  mashed cauliflower
chips and dip                       fresh vegetables and dip - bonus points, use yogurt instead
                                            of sour cream
French fries                         carrot fries (?)  sweet potato fries are good, but never heard of carrots
lasagna noodles                   zucchini strips
croutons                               toasted nuts
cheese crackers                     Parmesan crisps ( piles of Parmesan cheese baked until they melt into a "cookie" dubious for saving calories

bread crumb coating              ground almonds
tortillas                                  Bibb lettuce    

These have worked for me in the past and it's nearly time to saddle up again ...
Halloween candy - either buy something that you don't like (candy corn) or substitute something "healthy" like an apple.  Win parents hearts and minds by offering their child a snack-sized zip-lock baggie of celery and carrot sticks.  Just buy one of those party platters and use it for individual portioning. 

Substitute hard candies for chocolate anything. 

Eat more protein.  I find that with a protein load, the sweet tooth disappears back into the gum.
Try a jalapeno string cheese with a handful of Snyder's Jalapeno Pretzel chunks. 

Dip into a bowl of your favorite olives.  Not exactly "protein" but definitely not chocolate.

I re-read this and decided that Taste of Home has some nerve with their talk of substitutions...many of their recipes' ingredients are:  heavy cream, cream cheese, Velveeta and Cream of Mushroom soup, none of which are in any way "slimming" or "healthful."  Apparently this is an example of the classic "Don't do what I do; do what I say."

Reflect on that for a minute while I break out the miniature candy bars I got for Halloween - care for one?  The Almond Joys are particularly good this season. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Pious Hypocrasy and Incredulous Disbelief

When did American presidential campaigns turn into a combination of TMZ and any Kardashian?  It is beyond depressing to see and hear grown ups acting like 2 year olds in a sandbox. I want to hear specifics - immigration?  candidate says,  "I will (fill in.)"  "What do you think of taxation and most especially the proposed 65% death tax?"

Pious Hypocrisy
This latest brouha about what Trump said about his technique 10 years ago is irrelevant.  It could be pointed out (but never, ever by the MSM) that Miz Hillary is known to family, friends and the Secret Service and White House staff to have a real toilet tongue.  "Fuck" lives in her mouth nor are "kike" or "nigger" strangers there.  Both of which I consider more damning than "grab 'em by the pussy" which would get most men a black eye.  And deservedly so.

Incredulous Disbelief
And that is that any candidate so close to an election would bow out because something said, off mic, 10 years ago!  How insane would that be?  And then the candidate would go quietly into the deepening dusk and live a monastic life thereafter? 

Are they crazy?  Living in some kind of made up dream world where Gallantry Is All?  A brief on every one of them that is oh so earnestly pleading for Trump to quit would provide some interesting reading.  The Senate alone is a kind of not-yet-locked-up but guilty of:  drunk driving with and without injuries to others, fraud, non-payment of income tax, spouse beating and more. 

I can kind of understand Hillary and aide Huma's tight relationship due to the fact that they're both married to sexual deviants but they're deflecting the hate in the wrong direction.  "Man up" (so to speak) I say, "and kick them to the curb after getting every dime or asset you can get your hands on.  Don't bother us with your inability to deal with it.  We're trying to elect a President here." 

As far as Clinton's didoes, I said at the time and I still say now - I wouldn't care if he was doing the Democrat donkey on the Oval Room desk, but:  He lied.  That is what was wrong.

Let's get back to politics as they are meant to be done?  Pack away the sand pails and the tiny little dirt-digging shovels, pull up your grown-up panties and get the hell on with what people want to hear, not this totally irrelevant  vicious nonsense.  You're hearing it from me:  ludicrous, not productive and a real pain in the ass to have to listen to - stop it right now or you'll get sent to your rooms.  I mean it!  Don't make me get out the belt.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

How Fast Do You Think We Can Make It to Waynesville, Ohio?

There is some urgency about this because the Waynesville, Ohio, 47th Sauerkraut Festival is today and tomorrow (10/9/2016) and gone. 

Since it began in 1970 and is still flourishing today, we could calendar it for 2017 with some confidence that it would occur again.  From a start (in 1970) with the sale of 528 lbs. of sauerkraut and only 1,500 people to sample it, the uptick has been yuuuge - seven tons of sauerkraut divided among 350,000 visitors as well as 450 craft booths, and 33 food stands featuring such as sauerkraut pizza, fudge, donuts, cookies, pies, German sundaes,* egg rolls, cabbage rolls, soup, pork and sauerkraut dishes and don't forget fried bologna with sauerkraut.

*German sundae is fancy for a stuffed potato.  The "sundae" version according to the "Krauts" (German nationality nickname) is simply a baked potato with sauerkraut, cheese (hopefully Velveeta - this kind of dish requires cheesy in every sense of the word) sour cream, bacon bits and topped with a jaunty olive  - green or black wasn't specified, but from an aesthetic point of view, I'd go with the black. 

If we can't get there this year, we can all duplicate the German sundae.  Maybe with a hearty meat loaf?  Or, since the Santa Anas are blowing here and it's H O T, file the recipe for winter dinners. 

Meanwhile chic up some bologna by frying it and then use it as a wrapping for a line of sauerkraut down the middle of the bologna; fasten shut with a festive toothpick - the kind with the frilly top - and serve with drinks.  Perhaps a shot of moonshine? 

Which leaves sauerkraut fudge, cookies, pies, and donuts to wonder at and to explore next year.  Get out your calendars!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Insanity and Disappointment on a Thursday

Penn Jillette, of magic act Penn and Teller lost 100 lbs. and wrote a book about it. 

Presto!  How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and other magical tales  by Penn Jillette   Simon and Schuster   344 pages   $26

Penn is somewhat insane himself - he and wife Emily (EZ) Zoltan married in 2004.  Their children are son Zolten "Z" around the house and daughter Moxie Crime Fighter.  Yeah, that's what you name a newborn baby girl - didn't you know that? 

We saw the act in Las Vegas some years ago and walking out, I said to Richie, "He really needs some anger management courses..."  Belligerent, bad language as normal language ... insulting... whew.

When he topped 330 lbs. at 6 ft. 7 in. and had to go in for several stents, his doctor (finally) threatened him with a "stomach sleeve."    The doctor gave Penn a six month head start on losing weight and avoiding the stomach sleeve. 

Enter an acquaintance at the time, a man named Ray Cronise, former NASA scientist and innovator who promptly put Penn on a diet of his own devising.  It was what is known as a mono-food diet wherein the patient eats nothing but one food for 10 days.  Penn was offered potatoes or beans and chose potatoes.  Baked or boiled or mashed (with water no milk or butter.)   If you want to know more about Cronise' very dangerous diet, Google him and proceed from there.  I refuse to be any part of endorsing such craziness. 

Eventually, Penn was able to add other  items to his diet.  Served on his 60th birthday:

Make a dip in the Cuisinart of cashews, lemon, nutritional yeast, and a touch of balsamic vinegar and chives, garnish with roasted grapes.  Dip endive leaves and eat. 

To save you from disappointment, this just in:  Amazon, Walmart and Target have all pulled the Tranny Granny Halloween costume from their racks.  This outfit - a house dress, amply padded at bust and butt with a matching head scarf with pink rollers attached - sells for $24.95 and is made by a firm calling itself Rasta Imposta. 

It apparently was intended to replace last year's smash hit -" I am Caitlin" (in an outfit that duplicated her Vanity Fair magazine cover.)  Arguably, it's heartening to see that sex changes are not yet out of fashion. 

Still, if you are hellbent to go anywhere portraying Caitlin Jenner, hie ye over to the nearest Goodwill and pick out a roomy dress.  Pad front and back with couch pillows, tie on a scarf to which you have sewn gigantic hair rollers, slide into your size 11 pumps and sashay off into the night.  May only good adventures await you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Online Learning - Frivolous and Serious

There are a lot of positive things about learning online in your own home - you pick the lesson time, you work at your own pace, you aren't seated in a stuffy classroom with coughing fellow students and there's no possibility of bullying because you're working on your own.  What's not to like?

Let us begin with frivolous since we all like to be amused while absorbing bits and pieces of knowledge.  The more exotic the better is a good thing.

Worst of McMansions ( is one such site.  An architect-run site, it shows a picture of a house with colored arrows pointing out exactly what is wrong with that particular house.
Additionally, you will learn architectural terms that will allow you to hold your own in any conversation with an architect.  Hip roof, castellated, bay window aka oriel (often found in crosswords) and proportioning - what's good and what most definitely is not.

I learned that in a genuine mansion, the columns holding up a second story or balcony are made of genuine marble or wood.  In a McMansion they are made of foam, treated to look like stone!

Seriously -  trying to learn a new language - either for tourist purposes - or a genuine interest in the country whose language you are learning. 

A lovely woman at our French Conversation classes told me about which is a free site that teaches:  English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Ukraine, Polish, Turkish and (whew) Esperanto!

Richie has been trying to learn French for some time,  so he decided to give it a try.  He likes it!  And he is doing amazingly well after just a short time with it.  He went from more-or-less extremely limited (Merci, S'il vous plait, un pression (tap beer)  to seven percent fluent in a very short time.

Knowing that I needed to work very hard on my version of Spanish, I confidently logged on and asked for the Spanish placement test that decides at what level you enter the classroom.  I flunked it.    This was a tremendous shock to my amour propre and when I get tired of sulking I will go back and try it again.  Don't hold your breath. 


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Site Unseen

But we are looking to go see it.  The Virginia Robinson Gardens, 1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills, CA   310-550-2087   Adults $11, seniors $6  Well within the budget.  Make note of the phone number because you have to make a reservation to visit and they have to round up a docent to lead you through it. 

To say that this house and garden set-up is obscure is understatement.  I lived in Beverly Hills for 14 years and never heard of it. 

Who were the Robinsons whose home you will be visiting?  Well!  Sit down!  His Daddy was founder and proprietor of the Robinson's department stores, a Southern California must shop store.  The first store opened in 1915 at 7th and Grand, and seven-stories were added in 1923 (clearly business was booming) and in 1934, the façade was updated to Art Deco.  The money must have been really rolling in. 

Harry Winchester Robinson married Virginia Dryden  (their families had been neighbors when the couple were toddlers) in 1903 and they promptly set sail for a three year honeymoon, visiting Europe, India and Kashmir. 

On their return they needed a house so Harry bought a piece of land that measured 4.5 acres for $7,500 in 1911 and built a $25,000 house in the Italian Bungalow style, designed by Virginia's Daddy, a professional architect..  It was said to be the first mansion in Beverly Hills. 

Harry only enjoyed some 11 years of living in the one-story, 12 room house as he died in 1932.  Virginia took over the Robinson's stores and ran the business for the next 30 years, finally retiring at age 85. (85)

The couple loved planning the gardens on their now 6.5 acre site (Harry kept buying land around them) and socializing.  She was known as The First Lady of Beverly Hills,"  my deah. 

Virginia, born in 1877, died in 1977 prior to her 100th birthday. She had lived in the house for the past 66 years.   In 1977 the house needed repairs to a leaky roof and a faulty wiring situation.  The estate didn't have enough money to do these necessary repairs, so the mansion was left to LA County, who didn't want to spend the money so they off-loaded it to the LA County Botanical Gardens. 

All of this sounds intriguing and I look forward to making an appointment to see it all at a time that would allow a leisurely lunch at Factor's Famous Deli.  The corned beef is to die for, dahlings.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Gentle Art of Spin

Recently there has been consternation on the part of a number of patriotic Americans who are outraged by a San Francisco football player named Colin Kaopectate or something like that.

He has refused to stand for our national anthem.  Instead, he does a one-knee stance.  Naturally, the patriots among us are horrified at such blatant disrespect.

But:  we've got it all wrong!  Kaopectate is kneeling to show his deep reverence for America!  He is showing himself to be, literally, in thrall to America and our policies.  How did we ever get it so wrong?  Apologies to Kaopectate!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Exploring Insults and Various Threats

Readers with good short term memory will recall how I blissed out on Bill Bryson's thought-but-not-expressed remark about a surly shopkeeper, "Cheerless prick."  When was the last time you heard "cheerless"?  It seems to be used more often to describe bad weather - "A cheerless, dark afternoon typical in a New York winter" as example. 

The Brits seem to have an edge on us Yanks when it comes to the appropriate descriptive phrase.  Which thought naturally sent me scurrying around mentally (a short trip, didn't take any time at all) for comparable  brilliance from Americans.

My own creation popped up first.  Situation:  you are babysitting for dear friends. 

Problem:  the kids are misbehaving with vigor.  What can you do?  Obviously, you can't give them a fast wallop across the butt, appealing as that may be.  Parents react so hysterically! when someone else administers corporal punishment. 

This has worked for me in the past:  give the kid a stern look, slit your eyes for most impact and say, "If you don't stop that, (you don't need to spell it out) I am going to do something so terrible to you that all of your great grandchildren will be born with snow white hair."

This is so vague - yet menacing - that the kid will often stop the action to puzzle out what this could possibly be.  At which point, you suggest that "Let's all sit down and have a cookie." 

I read that "Don't you make me take off my earrings" is a classic warning from one black woman to another.  Yesterday I saw one example of why.  A trio of black women were at the next table at Eat at Joe's and one of them was wearing very solid-looking gold hoops; the diameter of which easily equaled that of a saucer.  And I understood exactly why it was said.  Great handholds for the enemy. 

I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but "You really don't want me to let the werewolf out" shows great promise.