Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Oooh, Daddy - What A Big Bottle of Champagne You Have!

Being a very minor dissertation on Champagne, being a subject I knew very little about as I was too busy drinking it (or my other friend sparkling prosecco) to read up on it.  I have been drinking champagne since Andre was $2 a bottle and now it's $5.49.  In fairness to Bon Appetit (more often scorned than lauded here)  they triggered this latent interest with a graph that lists the bigger-sized bottles, along with the equivalent numbers of 750 ml bottles and number of glasses served.

Magnum - 1.5 ltrs, 2 bottles wine and  a measly 10 glasses.
Double Magnum - 3 ltrs or 4 bottles of wine and 20 glasses
Jeroboam - 4.5 ltrs, 6 bottles of wine and 30 glasses
Imperial - 6 ltrs or 8 bottles of wine and 40 glasses
Salmanazar - 9 ltrs 12 bottles of wine and 60 glasses
Balthazar - 12 ltrs 16 bottles of wine and 80 glasses
Nebuchadnezzar - 15 ltrs, 20 bottles of wine and 100 glasses
Solomon - ? ltrs and 24 bottles*
Primate - ? litres and 36 glasses*
*  Apologies, several Web sites were consulted and information was sometimes contradictory as you will see with -

Weights -
Nebuchadnezzar 83.5 lbs.
Solomon 94.4 lbs.
Primate 143 lbs.

If the sommelier was an off-duty weight lifter, clever with his hands ... maybe.  Recommended though was a two man team - one to hold up the bottle base, the other to direct the flow.  Happily, there is a tool available.  It's called a VCanter and consists of a rack on a sturdy base.  The rack can be adjusted to hold varied size bottles by a crank (included.)

Prices I ran across - Moet  and Chandon Nebuchadnezzar 3999.99 EUROS
Veuve Cliquot Balthazar 96 glasses  $999.99 EUROS

Speaking of weights and sizes, one article recommended opening and decanting a Nebuchadnezzar, but to sabre the top off of a Jeroboam.  The Portuguese open a bottle of port by applying redhot tongs to the neck and crunching and this was suggested for champagne, too.  Another person suggested tying a lighter fluid-soaked string around the bottle neck and setting it on fire. 

Which brings us to the manly art of using a sword to open a very big bottle of wine.  The sommelier holds the bottle at a 20 degree angle away from himself and crashes the flat side of a sword or the dull edge of a large knife where the lip joins the neck and BOOP!  The bottle is uncorked.  I would caution that if you see a sommelier gearing up to do this, get under your table.  Corks can fly anywhere from 16 to 33 feet. 

Sabre opening records - number of bottles sabred in one minute by a group:  66 in 2015, 630 in 2016. Clearly this contest took off big time.

The physics of a champagne bottle were:  the inside pressure is 90 psi, the diameter of the neck is 0.71 so there is 36 lbs. trying to uncork itself.   Or so I read. 

Famous Bottle Sales (or Gossip)
Mark Cuban bought a 15-litre (10 magnums) Nebuchadnezzar in 2011 to celebrate an NBA championship.  It cost $90,000.

The Boston Bruins then bought a "Midas" which is a 30 ltres bottle for $100,000.  The Midas is said to be the largest bottle ever made and is only offered by Brignac Ace of Spades.

American gambler Don Johnson, celebrating what must have been a substantial win at the One On One club, London, celebrated with a Midas ($125,000 this time) and ended the evening with a $271,000 bar tab. 

JayZ bought the Brignac Ace of Spades winery widely known for its distinctive bottle which is pewter colored and looks like metal, not glass.  Hip hop fans can Google for all of the details.  One is  the Trilogy - a selection of three bottles - is $1,599.99 at BevMo.

Sorting out all of the research, located on various sites and then trying to get it adequately sorted for this column is very tiring.  I think I need a nice glass of champagne....

Monday, November 28, 2016

Season Jumping - Go Big or Go Home

The Halloween candy and costumes began hitting the malls in August.  In the middle of Halloween season, Thanksgiving was being bandied about - "Who's coming to your house?" and turkey ads were featured every Wednesday in the supermarket ads.  The Christmas tree lots were ready set go a week before T-Day and magically, the day after, they were thick with trees.

Therefore, it's not inappropriate to run this recipe for a soigne sauce for the traditional Easter ham.  New Years?  Sorry, you missed it.  Snooze, ya lose.

3 habanero chilis, de-seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 T peeled ginger, finely grated
1/2 cup tamarind concentrate
1/2 cup + 1 T honey
1/2 cup dry red wine
5 T sweet butter, cut into small pieces

Mix chiles, garlic, ginger, tamarind and 1/2 cup honey.  Set aside 1/3 cup.  That's going to be the accompanying sauce.  But take the other 2/3rds and use it to glaze the ham. 

Bring the wine to a boil and reduce by half - whisk in the reserved 1/3 cup sauce  and honey and stir until it smells good.  Add the butter, one little piece at a time, and cook until it looks glazed.  That's the sauce that goes with the glazed ham when you serve it. 

BONUS POINTS SAUCE  It's called "Suzette" and goes like this -
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup sugar
2 T Grand Marnier
6 T butter, diced

Simmer all but the butter together then drop in the butter a piece at a time.  Let it cook long enough to thicken a bit.  Bon Appetit recommends it for crepes, waffles, pancakes, but what about vanilla ice cream for your own Orange Creamsicle?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

And Alaska Cried, "Whoa!"

Conde Nast Traveler may have picked the wrong place to diss.  In an article in the December issue, they lauded the sport of dog sledding for the tourist.  "... here are a few of the best dogsledding excursions out there.  Mush!" and promptly listed Greenland, Canada and Sweden!

I immediately took great umbrage and even though I've never been to Alaska, I thought packing Americans off to foreign lands was both snobbish and anti-American financially. 

Since I have a cousin and his family living in Anchorage, I was really annoyed for them.  Family solidarity rules!

Here are few of the many listings online where one can dog sled and promote the US economy - Alaska:  Seward, Healy, Fairbanks to name a few.  What about Ely, MN or Montana - or Maine which is, East Coasters, your side of the country. 

But still Alaska should have led their list.  Did you know that mail delivery by dog sled was routine until 1963?  I didn't either.  I wondered if at Christmas the mail person was offered a refreshing hot drink - and the dogs a nice bone apiece?  For later - don't eat and chew!  Bad for the digestion and you have to run again tomorrow.

Back to our moutons - the mag did offer these semi-helpful tidbits - bring a pair of ski goggles or sun glasses - it's so cold that your eyes will tear up and the resulting liquid will freeze your lashes together.  And your eye lids shut.  You'll be driving blind, but no worries.  The dogs know. 

The other great hint was that no matter how well you are bundled up, sitting for hours will still cause you to be cold (and no doubt stiff) so stop the dogs, get out and jog alongside for a while. 

Or limp along, as the case may be.  But do it in Alaska!

Friday, November 25, 2016

The 50 Year Old China

I served our Thanksgiving dinner on it, which was its second use in 50 years.  It is beautiful ware tagged Johann Haviland, Bavaria, Germany.  (You can google it if so interested)  All of the various plates (dinner, salad, dessert, little fruit or ice cream dishes) as well as the saucers and footings for the cups are wavy and banded in platinum (of which I have my doubts, but ... if it makes them happy to say so ...)  In addition to table settings, there is a platter, a serving bowl, a lidded sugar bowl and a cream pitcher. 

All of this had been stored on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet which is difficult to access.  First a step stool to the counter, then up, up on one's knees to very carefully lift off the plastic wrap that had covered it for the past 31 years that we've lived here (it was filthy) and begin setting this chinaware carefully down on whatever counter space that isn't already covered by said knees. 

I got them as a Christmas present from my mother in 1966.  I was bitterly disappointed; it wasn't what I wanted at all, but seeing my mother's happiness and enthusiasm for her gift, forced me to be enthusiastic, too.  This was one of those fortunately infrequent times when one says something nice, but is very definitely thinking something entirely different.

And this is why my mind was running in two very different directions.  My mother thought it was high time I was thinking about if not actually getting married.  At the ripe old age of 26.  She thought that if I had a "decent set of dishes" (her words) I might perhaps have a better shot at snaring "an appropriate" (see above) husband. 

My own view, given the fact that my weekly letters home (Kansas City, MO) from my apartment in Beverly Hills  always mentioned my forays into photography, the expensiveness of Nikon bodies and lenses ..thinking that the parents would be happy enough to further my back-up career.  By buying all of the above.

Let me take you back to the scene of tragic disappointment (mine.)  They picked me up at the old Kansas City airport - the approach interestingly enough came in low over a bluff which bordered the river and bomp! onto the runway end very nearly at the river's opposite edge.    Once at the house, I found the decorated tree dominating the living room with presents underneath it.  I ran a casual eye over two large, wrapped boxes addressed to me.  "Just the right size for a Nikon camera and some lenses," I thought joyfully.  In my glee, I was unusually helpful with getting dinner on the table. 

I drifted off to sleep, mentally listing places I wanted to immortalize via my brand-new Nikon.

Our family tradition is a good, hearty breakfast first and then the wrapping paper starts flying. 

And in my place, Oscar winning acting began. 

My poor mother was only trying to civilize me.  Happily, she died (age 87 in 1993) before she ever learned that I had served company a sit-down dinner on paper plates with her mother's silverware.  I'm glad she was at least spared that awful indignity.  I did please her when Richie and I married though.  She liked her sons-in-law better than her own daughters!  And I never referred to that china without calling it "My Nikon china."


The Thanksgiving Day Feast

Whew!  (belch)

A friend sent this comment by Jay Leno that you've eaten too much if/when you have to let out your bathrobe.  I think many of us can relate to that this morning ...

Thursday, November 24, 2016


The Daily Breeze ran an article on the front page about how to have a serene T-Day.  Some shrink opined that you declare "politics free" zones in your house or, if you don't do that, simply say that today is a happy day and let's not get all angry and stompy foot about the recent election.

Naturally I took umbrage at being directed as to how to behave in my own house.  You could expect that from me, right?  In point of fact, we are only having one guest - a very dear friend - and we've been friends for so long that we know well that there is no need to discuss the election.  We all know exactly where we stand.

In other instances, I have merely said (calmly) "I won't discuss politics with you" and deftly switched the conversation onto something else.  A soft answer turneth away wrath and all that. 

In any event, full-scale war or a relaxing, lengthy meal - HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bits of Stuffing

A good friend remarked on the fact that on Black Friday many people go shopping, scrambling for bargains, rudely shoving each other to get to the good stuff - when the day before they were all (presumably) being vocally thankful for all of the stuff they already have.  Ironic, no?

Letters to the Editor, Daily Breeze 11/23/16

Grow Up and Get Over It
He won; she lost.  Get over it.  Republicans had eight years of an Obama presidency.  He was not liked by us (in fact, he was abhorred) but we acted like adults and just got on with it.  Too bad some young Democrats can't do the same.

Nina Murphy
Redondo Beach

Our good friend "D" is joining us tomorrow and he is bringing the famous Bromberek Cranberry Sauce.  This is made from a generations old secret family recipe.  I plan to over serve him champagne (rich man's Alka-Seltzer) and worm it out of him.  Champagne has marvelous powers... not least of which is making the drinker willing to share all kinds of secrets.  Take your tape recorder to the dinner table.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ice Skating Your Way Around the Gun Turrets

No, not a new amusement for Alaskans who happen to have an old battleship lying around rusting.

This rink is located in San Pedro and the action takes place on board the retired battleship the USS Iowa, normally a museum.  Not to be outdone, albeit without any battleships, you can ice skate near the Seaside Lagoon, Redondo Beach, or The Pike in Long Beach.  Note that both are on or very near beaches.   Our winter temperature is quite a bit higher than those found in the northeast corridor states.  Nearly every year, the paper runs a photo of some comely lass speeding around the Seaside Lagoon rink clad in -- a bikini. 

Beaches are for tanning, swimming, water sports and now - seasonal ice skating via complicated pipe systems carefully curbed and filled with the appropriate coolants.

The USS Iowa has had an interesting history both as a fighting ship and as transport for Franklin Delano Roosevelt when it carried him to a 1943 conference with Prime Minister Churchill and Joseph Stalin during WW2.  To accommodate FDR, a bathtub and an elevator were installed for his ease of mobility.  Quite coincidentally, wife Eleanor was present at the launching of this very ship in the Brooklyn Naval Yards on August 27, 1942.    It was honored by Mrs. Henry Wallace, wife of the Vice President.  Pity we seem not to be making more battleships as christening one could almost make being a Vice President's wife worthwhile. 

It has known tragedy as well.  In April, 1989, the #2 gun turret suddenly exploded, killing 47 sailors.  It would not be inappropriate if the rink extends to the site of the #2 turret to pause for a moment in respect. 

The Iowa rink holds 75 skaters and closes January 8, 2017.  Admission is $15 and hockey skates are thrown in.  You can bring your own skates, but admission will still be $15.

A little worried about "breaking the ice" after Thanksgiving's lavish dinner?  Don't be - it's 6 in. thick.

For more information:  lakingsholidayice.com  or  pacificbattleship.com   or Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Word of Mouth, Country Style

While the urbanites lolled deeper in their leather chairs in front of a crackling fire, playing a gentle game of "Can You Top This"? by quoting old dead Greek and Roman dudes; out in the sticks, the gentlefolk were creating their own sayings.

"Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit" by Allan Zullo and Gene Cheek  Andrew MeMeel Publishing   198 pages   $6.75

The authors divided the sayings and labeled them, but I don't think we need that sort of hand fed treatment.  To amuse you on this gloomy Sunday -

My piggy bank is as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle.

We can't all be big shots.  Someone has to sit on the curb and wave at'em as they go by.

He's so rich, he buys a new boat every time his old one gets wet.

Money thinks I'm dead.

He's so lucky, he could sit on a fence and the birds would feed him.

If times get any better,  I'll have to hire somebody to help me enjoy them.

One day you're drinking wine; the next, you're picking grapes.

One day you're the peacock, the next day you're the feather duster.

I'm so poor I had to fry up my nest egg.

The new broom might sweep clean, but the old broom knows the corners.

He's been chased through the forest of mean and hit every tree trunk.

A woman is wearing a tight-fitting, low-cut dress and a man asks her, "Are you outside trying to get in or inside trying to get out?"

I'd have to get better just to die.

Who licked all of the red off your candy?

Fine dining:  Let's go get greasy 'round the mouth.

And in loving tribute to the late Lucille Mericle -
Disbelief - Well f--k me runnin'!   Housework:  Ah gotta douche this place out. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Doctor Is In -- But He's IN Japan

Chatting with my GP at yesterday afternoon's routine appointment, he disclosed that he has a blog spot, too.  Unlike this one, his is efficiently arranged and covers Japan very well indeed.  Clearly, the man knows the place as he has made several trips there and paid close attention while he was there.. 

His site   tokyoconsult.blogspot.com   covers not only Tokyo,, but Osaka (most modern - they've even got a Universal Studios!)  Kyoto (for history) and Kobe (for "exquisite food.") 

For all of these plus Tokyo, you can find here reasonable hotels, best street food, best restaurants, attractions, how to get around on their public transportation and most importantly, how to buy the ticket to do so - every ticket machine has a button for English. 

He's a young man, apparently traveling solo, and he explores nightlife and bars with as much gusto as a historic site.  The vending machines and their weird possibilities intrigue him - he swears that you can get gourmet food at some of them.  I cocked a dubious eyebrow at that one, but the man knows his onions. 

To say that his blog is lavishly illustrated with photos is understatement.  Typical day in (fill in city name) shots, beauty shots (temples, parks, statues, buildings) as well as food, glorious food.  He explains many of the dishes' contents which is reassuring to someone who is not well-versed or, indeed versed at all in Japanese foods and cooking styles. 

If you don't actually want to shift your languid ass and GO East, this is a great blog to daydream over as the winter winds howl around your house.  Happy trails to you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

And Now - Coming in 4th in the Annual Thanksgiving Day Meal Parade ... Green Beans!

At first, I was a bit loathe to tackle this subject because I've been making the tacky green bean "casserole" for years.  A referral, of course to:

2 cans semi-drained French-trimmed green beans
1 can undiluted Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup - the leftover green bean water thins it
  Mix together, lash on the black pepper, heat and serve with a dish of French's onion straws. The recipe calls for heating them tossed across the dish, but they get soggy.  Served separately, they are the real deal.  Crunch when it's needed and not just a soggy memory.

My sister, conversely, has taken this dish well above the bar - steamed green beans, sautéed almonds ...she is refined, I am not.  She is also a better cook - if you can swing it, go to her house for T-Day dinner!

This dish was invented in the Campbell (soup) Kitchens back in 1955, 21 years ago.  Today their recipe includes a bop of the soy sauce jar over the dish, but be warned - their cream of mushroom soup is plenty salty and the onion straws are as well.  Still and all, to its fans it  is justifiably the top green bean dish served on Thanksgiving. 

If any of you ae suffering from Green Bean Shame, here are 15 alternate ways to prepare a green bean dish for the table. 

Add pickled mushrooms to the soup or supermarket balsamic-marinated mushrooms

Bacon bundles

Sesame ginger salad - you read it right - "salad"  Frankly, that's an offense.

Cashews and béchamel with pesto casserole

Parmesan coated and baked

With pimento cheese and corn in a casserole

Lemon vinaigrette

With garlic and Portobello mushrooms and parmesan

With gremolata (a mix of garlic, lemon and parsley) and panko crumbs

Make Chinese green beans

Fried with sausage - American or Italian

Fried in panko crumbs with ranch dipping sauce, served as an appetizer

Au gratin with maple syrup, bacon chunks and pecans

Many of these proposed substitutions sound good.  Make note of the ones that appeal (or not) and do make them -- just not for Thanksgiving dinner?  Stick to what you know!  And given some 207,000 references to it on Google, a helluva lot of us know it! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Danger! An Idle Mind at Work ...

A new word for us - dox. 

Verb "doxing;" past tense "doxed" as in "I doxed him, so hah!"  This sounded rather sinister to me albeit at least bloodless.  As opposed to "I offed him."  The Sopranos taught me all I want to know about that.  Off topic, the bathtub beheading did it for me; I never believed in the show after that.

Dox means:  document tracing.  An opponent finds you despite your having a stage name (so to speak.)  Example:  you sign yourself "Squeaky Wheel" and thinking you are perfectly anonymous, write extremely rude comments online.  If you have offended another commenter sufficiently, they may be inspired enough to find out who you really are as in legal name, address, city, country.  And then to tell the online world.   

Why turkey?

Turkey became our national Thanksgiving meat almost by default.  The Pilgrims were by no means well-to-do.  They wanted a celebration, but they didn't want it to be so lavish that they had to eat corn cobs all winter.  Worriedly, they cast their eyes around their barnyards for a suitable meat.  (Vegetarianism was unknown at this point.) 

Cows were immediately out of the running because they were much more useful alive than dead.
Roosters are famously tough eating and prep time did little to, er, soften them up.
Hens laid eggs and were productive on very little feed.
Venison was too time consuming - first find a deer (plentiful, it must be said) kill it and peel or skin it.  The hides were useful, but the few wives who were fashionistas, were tired of "Always buckskin?  Can't you find some minks?"
There were tons of hams and pork, but they weren't considered chic enough for a holiday meal.  (Clearly they'd changed their tune by the time Easter rolled around.)

Turkeys won by default.  They spent the first seven months of their doomed lives eating the insects and worms that plagued the farmer and by the time T-Day rolled around, they were usually a convenient size for the oven and then dinner. 

Another factor that may have contributed to their demise was Charles Dickens.  His book "A Christmas Carol" was published in 1843 and much was made of Scrooge's gift to the Cratchit family of a big fat turkey.  As the book was widely read in America, one thing led to another.

COMMENTS RE THE ABOVE - One critique pointed out that a deer is time intensive as it takes a long time to stuff one.  Another reminded me that it was a GOOSE for the Cratchit family, not a turkey.  Both are right.  For any confusion arising from this column, I apologize.   

Speaking, however vaguely of the Brits, swan used to be on the holiday menu, but it, too, was labor intense and time consuming.  Swan au naturale  was fishy tasting.  The swans had to be fed a grain diet for quite some time to get rid of it. 

Speaking of the Brits

However peripherally ... during the recent onrush of various Americans to Canada, I ran across a handbook on how to behave in London, specifically. 

The winners in the Do Not List were - do not talk to us on the Tube.  We don't want to hear it.  We are not interested in making friends on the Tube.  Do not ever stop and block sidewalk traffic.  We are not tourists; we have already seen multiple times whatever you are gaping at and we have places to go and specific times to be there.  So herd your group off to a side, and gawp as much as you want to - just not in our way, thenk you.

Some comments:  In defense of the charge that Bad Teeth dominate, comes this reply:  The U.S. has the highest rate of toothless people in the developed world. 

Aussies are the biggest wusses at drinking, but I would say from personal observation that they are the farthest thing from wusses.  They can swill down gallons of beer and remain relatively upright.  Americans fall like autumn leaves in comparison. 

To a wanna-be visitor vis-à-vis the numerous bad-tempered Muslims, "Why the death wish?"

But the winnah!  from an American to a wanna be Brit visitor:  "Come to the South, we don't like the rest of the country either."

Monday, November 14, 2016

Let Your Imagination Soar!

The President of the South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club has a unique last line on his e-mails:  "Sent from my private jet." 

As good as this is, we can do better with just a little tweaking.  How about "Somewhere over Kansas. the Aegean/London (the flight path in to Heathrow really does go right over the city)"  Alternatively, you could write "Gotta go - landing in Anguilla/Moscow/Montreal in five"

If you prefer to have your own helicopter then substitute shorter flights - the Hamptons/Palm Springs or as is rumored that Trump will commute between the White House and his NY apartment via 90 minute flights in Helicopter One.

As long as we are at this - having harmless fun - what about a unique way to deal with receptionists who coo, "May I tell him who is calling?"  Here are some I've actually used, "Yes, I'm his parole officer"  "Yes, I'm his spiritual advisor"   Others that come to mind - "Yes, the Vatican"  "Yes, I'm with the IRS/Witness Protection." 

Best of all, you can do this from the privacy of your own home, clad in old sweats and ratty slippers.  They will never know.  Be sure to wave  at their state/country as you fly over. 


Barry Anthony
1952 - 2016

Barry was a longtime member of the South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club.  He was an enthusiastic performer who played a hell of a trumpet.  He also could have doubled for Gene Wilder, being a near twin physically.  He was only 64 when a massive "nothing that could be done about it" heart attack felled him.  He will be missed - and Gene Wilder can relax!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Border Crossing

As usual in a Presidential election, a number of notables have threatened to leave America and go live somewhere else.  This year, the destination list had a few surprises (for me) with sites such as Spain and New Zealand.  Frankly, I think the planet idea is, um, doomed, but carry on!  Nothing against Spain or NZ!  For a full list of potential border crossers, please see "Hanging Chads" the 11/7/16 column. 

Meanwhile in an effort to be as helpful as possible to all, I looked up how to behave in Canada which was the most-mentioned sanctuary.  The first thing I learned is that Canadians are very very polite.  Accidentally step on another's foot?  Apologize endlessly.  Moreover the stepped upon will apologize to the stepper for being in the way!  This can eat up a good portion of time.  Plan appointments with it in mind.

Canada already has a number of born-there dignitaries; a partial list includes William Shatner (except I think he's dead now,) Keaunu Reeves, Ryan Goslin, Jim Carrey, Pamela Anderson and Alex Trebek. 

However Canada has generously said that we should feel free to keep Justin Bieber and Celine Dion.

Not surprisingly in a nation that apologizes profusely, a gentle handshake - palm to palm, no squeeze - is suggested when meeting First Nations (Indians?) as squeezing is considered aggressive.  And since I don't even know whether or not, they are Indians or Native Canadians or hot-tempered, prudence is advised. 

"Grab and go" as in something to eat and then "eaten on the hoof" while walking are very definitely considered bad manners.  Take the time, go to a restaurant and sit down.  Their streets are not grazing pastures.  Although probably the worst that can happen to you (given their extraordinary good manners) would be a withering glare and a pointed look at your food item.  If said Canadian is really in a bad mood, you may also be on the receiving end of a loud sniff.

Happily, they will not grab your lunch and throw it in the gutter.  Any action as aggressive as that would probably kill them.  Apologize, if this happens to you, and post-lunch, make a real point of neatly bagging up your detritus and putting it in the trash.  No worries, émigrés!  You'll get along fine in Canada!

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Traditional Thanksgiving Pie ISN'T Pumpkin?

Great Caesar's ghost - hand me my smelling salts!  And this is why I am half-fainting right here at the keyboard.  Briefly - I came across what I thought of as a lovely compromise pie (more of which in a minute) and, spurred on as always, to be accurate I delved into the online belly of the beast known as Google.  I wanted to make sure that pumpkin was  the pie of tradition and, more importantly, by how much.

Brace yourselves:

Apple 20%
Strawberry 19%  (and don't mortgage the house to pay for them in the Northeast)
Pumpkin (a respectable third) 16%
Cherry 13%
Blueberry 9%
Pecan and Lemon Meringue tied at 8%
Chocolate 5% in

Unwelcome statistics indeed.  And here I thought I'd found the perfect compromise...

Layer by layer, we discover - bottom layer, the crust of choice  (store-bought Graham cracker here)
Spread carefully over it, the pumpkin mixture, all smoothed out to receive the final layer - the pecan mixture  gently made to nestle atop the pumpkin. 

This would have seemed to be a nearly perfect finish to the traditional turkey dinner.  Especially since pumpkin is 16th in popularity and pecan 8% for a total of 24%.  Take that apple pie.

November 11, 2016

Thank you, veterans, for your service whether you were in an active war at the front of the action or back in a field kitchen peeling potatoes.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Was It Crowded at Your Polling Place?" A Cross-Country Sampling

San Diego, CA  I voted by mail - that way I didn't have to deal with anyone.

Kansas City, MO  We were told there were big crowds at 8:30 a.m. before we got there at 9:30 a.m.  There were four of us voting at a time with seven poll workers.  I.D. was your driver's license, but we didn't have to sign.

Harlingen, TX  Voted early, so don't know.

Temple, TX   One mail in and one walk in.

Anderson, IN  Five people, five machines but by the time we checked in, we went directly to a machine and voted.  Driver's license or state-issued i.e. required.

Redondo Beach  Shared polls with a neighboring area of Manhattan Beach  Largest voter turn-out in the 33 years we've lived here.  At least 10 voting booths; all of which were in continual use.

Waiting for word back from Long Island and Florida as well as Illinois.  As or if they filter in, will add them here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November 9, 2016


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How Ironic Is This?

The US Marine Corps, founded in 1775, celebrates their 241st birthday on November 10th, 2016, two days after Election Day as a sitting President of the United States is inviting illegal aliens to vote with no repercussions.

I don't think somehow that this is exactly what the Marines were thinking of back then...

Monday, November 7, 2016

Hanging Chads...

Birthday Treat
Evangelist Billy Graham is 98 today, November 7th.  No great public celebration is planned said son Franklin.  Franklin went on to say that Billy has hearing and vision problems, but that if he does hear what you said, his response will show that he "got it." 

Billy and his wife were married for 64 years and apparently obeying God's directive - "Go forth and multiply" - they did with five children, 19 grandkids and "numerous" great-grandchildren.  As Billy is said to have reached 215 million people in 185 countries, this could be considered rather remarkable as in when the hell was he home? 

The interviewer asked Franklin about the birthday dinner and was told it would be out of cans - Vienna sausages and cold pork and beans.  Franklin said those were the great treats of his childhood.  Additionally, he will receive his favorite birthday cake - "one of those cheap supermarket cakes with lard icing." 

Personally, I think God could have rewarded such a faithful parishioner with a little better than that, but God knows what He's doing. 

Celebrities Leaving if Trump Is Elected
I have always loved it when actors get involved in politics because they make such asses of themselves.   They have day jobs (most of the time) but that's not enough for them.    Hold your breath no longer, this is who says we'll be waving "Bye bye" to as they scuttle off to distant shores.

Cher - the planet Jupiter
Jon Stewart - a new planet (please let NASA know if there is one)
Chelsea Handler to Spain; Amy Schumer said she wants to be her neighbor there.  Heads up, Spanish realtors!
Barbra Streisand - Australia
George Lopez - Mexico (no immigration jokes, please)
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, esteemed (until now) Supreme Court judge to New Zealand
The Reverend Al Sharpton who fears deportation of Trump gets in.  If for no other reason at all, if Sharpton isn't lying (occupational hazard) then Go Donald!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Match the National Mood - Go Crabs!

One way or another, much of America seems to be in a bad mood.  Some might describe it as "crabby."  Well, dust your hands together and let's make lemonade - we've got lemon temperaments ...

Richie grew up on Long Island where his brother and two nephews are all Bay Men, harvesting clams and lobsters for sale as far away as Japan.  True!  When they bring their catches in, the buyer is waiting for them with a panel truck and cash.  From the harbor to a KAL jet and gone. 

The crab of choice on the East Coast is blue; on the West Coast they are Dungeness.  In the seafood sections of our supermarkets as well as Chicken of the Sea brand (who knew they push crab?) their Coast is not mentioned, probably because the container holds something of a mix of crab parts.

Be that all as it may.  Richie makes a very good crab cake, not from an old family recipe but from the recipe on the crab container!  There is, however, a secret ingredient and that's the substitution of panko for bread crumbs.  Panko is much airier than bread crumbs and using them gives the cake a necessary lightness of being.

Set aside 1 8 oz. container crab meat and 3/4 cup panko  We'll get to you in a minute.

Meanwhile:  beat together
1/2 beaten egg which is a real Zen puzzle to me "What is the sound of one-half egg..."  Either use a whole egg or forget the egg thing altogether. 
1 T mayo
1/2 teas. mustard (Colman's)
1/2 teas. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teas. dry mustard or use a full teas. Colman's mustard instead
1/2 teas Old Bay Seasoning*
dash of lemon juice

Now add the panko and crab, mix well, form round patties like a golf ball or flat cakes like a pancake - however you  want the finished product. 

*The Old Bay people suggest dusting French fries, corn on the cob, steamed veggies or popcorn with their fine product.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Italians Up In Arms - Mayor Proclaims Turin "Meat-free" City

Chiara Appendino, 32, is the 20th Mayor of Turin and is promoting her fiefdom as a "meat-free city."

If you've booked to include Turin on a tour of Italy, don't panic yet as it hasn't fully happened although the meat vendors of their local stock are not exactly pleased.  Meaning that you can still buy a salume (and bread) for a picnic without having to cross a picket line or be exposed to incoming fire from disgruntled carnivores. 

Appendino's five year plan has not yet been fully explained, but it is thought to contain educating school children on the horrors of a meatball as well as putting out a vegetarian-friendly tourist map for visiting veggie enthusiasts.  No decision on which day will be declared "meat free" nor even if it will be a once a week/month/year event.

Feelings are running high.  Vegan enthusiasts are happy, meat eaters are horrified that a centuries old diet that includes various salume may be lost.  (No more pepperoni) Some scoff that it is merely a fad among the young; others have remarked that they have seen the aged going vegetarian for health reasons.

And you thought our Presidential election means something.    I can imagine bumper stickers there "You'll rip this mortadella out of my cold dead hands!"  That's serious.  No prosciutto indeed.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

If You Can't Change It, You Might as Well LaughI

I am referring to the political candidate fervor, slung accusations, denied wrongdoing and all that seems to be going into a modern Presidential election.  Reality TV has a lot to answer for and so does the Internet with its full permission to say any damned scurrilous thing the writer wants to say in complete anonymity.

We who might wish to change this sad situation cannot - we're vastly outnumbered.  So ... in the spirit of having a smile instead of a tantrum against what we cannot change ...

The MSM is biased for one candidate and show it daily.  Comfort yourself:  "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."  Hamlet, Act 5 (I think.)

A comment on the Clinton Foundation, under investigation for the past year:  "I didn't know the Clintons were Catholics.  Apparently, while she was Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation  sold favors like the Italian Popes of long ago."

Rudy Giuliani weighed in with a remark that if Hillary had an Italian last name, she'd be in jail."

Another comment from a chiding defender, "Oooo, you're on the rocket sled to hell!"  I kind of like that one - the visual. 

To make it through until November 9th, stay calm by using breathing exercises, do not read newspapers or listen to the news anchors but do read the Comments on various sites for a laugh. Remind yourself that America has survived WW1, WW2, Korea, Viet Nam and the Great Depression.  We're still here.   We've earned these laughs and we deserve them. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Comments on The Third Inning ...

From Shropshire Sheila - When I lived your side, it was the only American game I could understand.  Football (even with the help of vodka)  was a complete blur.  I was so happy to hear the 2 minute buzzer until it took 2 bloody hours to finish.  Basketball has more rules than a Kardashian has shoes and I am a major sports fan.  From what you say though, the organ would drive me nuts.

Doug V. - Very interesting and quite funny!  The organ music at a baseball game can, without question, be irritating; however, I think it may be better than some of those little five-piece ensembles that appear at some NFL teams' games.  You can't really hear them, but you can tell they're doing something because your tympanic membranes are vibrating.

And then there is that infernal cathedral bell that NFL teams ring when the visiting team has a third down and the home defense is being encouraged to clobber them. 

Finally, there are those NBA announcers who can extend the name Jones to make it sound like a 24-syllable word.  It is sports in our modern world. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It Was the 3rd Inning...

And as I drifted in to the kitchen for a glass of Riesling, I heard the announcer say "Seven to One, Cubs."

"Richie - what inning?" I cried.

"Third" he replied.

"So, everybody can go home now, right?"  (Eager dog look - begging for a treat.)

I received a sneering, dismissive glance that might have felled a lesser woman, but, c'mon - 35 years together?  You really think that was the first time?

I hate baseball.  For years it has been as exciting as watching grass grow or paint dry or an illiterate checker give you change when the cash register computers are down. 

I ruminated on what it is that I find so absolutely abhorrent about TV baseball games and the other night it dawned on me.  I was about to start tearing my hair out (while reading a book) because I kept hearing that ghastly "Doodelee-oop-de-doo..." one key up, "Doodelee oop de doo" always on the next higher note.  Bats were falling out of the avocado tree, writhing in agony.  No less I on the living room couch.  The wheeze is as unattractive in organ ditties as it is in an old folks home.

As it is not my wont (not misspelled) to whine without offering a solution ... join me in this.  We start saving up airline miles (Do it - winter's coming on - BUY that floor-length mink!)  and transferring cash around like a Mafia accountant so that just before the season begins, we can be assigned territories nearest our home bases (don't waste miles) and personally go to every stadium that has an organ and offers televised baseball games.  We will, of course, have looked up the organist performing in "our" stadium so as to know the best bribe likely to keep them off of the organ bench for an entire season.  With minimal cost, of course. 

This may sound like an odd scheme coming from a woman whose mother played the organ in church, BUT she was playing Bach and Handel ... and not at a baseball game! 

We'll be ready for sign ups soon.  Keep watching this space.

Looking at Both Sides Now ...

My brother-in-law on Long Island remarked that everyone he's talked to there is longing for November 9th.  I think many of us across the broad swathe of America ending at the Pacific Ocean would agree.  We've been, largely, beaten to our knees by this reality show, snarkfest, fastest liar to open their mouth  presently called "a Presidential election."

Which brings me back to the headline above:

Hubris - excessive pride or self-confidence which is synonymous with arrogance, conceit, and defiance which often leads to:

Nemesis - a downfall caused by hubris. 

Both candidates are undeniably guilty of hubris; now let's see what happens when nemesis enters the fray.

I don't think it will be pastoral.