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Thursday, October 31, 2013

AUTUMN FRITTATA

The days of autumn can be a bit cool, even in the Southwestern desert.  As I write this at 10 a.m. on Halloween it is 68 degrees F. outside.  The mercury descended to 48 earlier this morning.  It was chilly in the backyard after dark the other night as we watched the Space Shuttle fly over though clear skies.  I continue to be amazed.

With cooler weather comes an appetite for cool weather food.  I think the dish I made last night with potatoes, broccolini, eggs and Parmesan cheese qualifies.  The recipe came from Deb Perelman's blog Smitten Kitchen.  Here is a link to her post and the recipe.

As usual my frittata looked a bit different from hers.  Here's mine:


It wasn't bad but I should have cooked the potatoes a bit slower and longer to make them more tender.  And it could have used some more seasoning.  We have noticed this in a couple of her recipes before. Her palate seems to be perhaps more sensitive to spice and sweets than ours.  Some Mrs. Dash added to the recipe would have "kicked it up a notch."

But you know how it goes - - -



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BACK IN THE DAY

Once upon a time, many years ago (actually it was 36 years ago - 1977!) your faithful scribe and his lovely SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) used to costume themselves for Halloween parties too.  (See yesterday's post)

This was our getup for a party at the BRD's house that Halloween.  Both costumes were made by the dark-haired lass in the photo.



That was probably our dressiest of Halloweens.  A few years later SWMBO only used her make-up skills with which to frighten the little trick-or-treaters who dared to ring our bell.


That alluring smile hid a darker side of the wretch.


As for me, I have to use the techniques of the computer to make myself fearsome.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

THE FUN HAS BEGUN

Now, I KNOW it's Halloween season.

I had inklings of it because of the decorated homes around us.  (I remember when that was only done for Christmas.)  I had seen the occasional youngster trying out his or her costume.  I had noticed the plethora of candy being displayed in stores.  I had seen jack 'o' lanterns.  

But nothing spells Halloween to me more than the first pictures of the BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter) and her Beau Jack in their party costumes and paint.  O.K.  Stand back from your screen.  Here it comes.



The costumes will change this weekend.  That's when the two of them host their own party but this year's is not a Halloween costume event. Well, not really.  But I can imagine there will be a number of party guests in Hawaiian shirts and flowered gowns looking to get leied at their Luau Party.

Monday, October 28, 2013

VISITING IRISHMAN

My grandson and his wife recently celebrated their first wedding annivesary.  WITH A TRIP TO IRELAND!  As SWMBO commented "that's what young people can do if they put off having a family!"  From all the pictures I've seen, they had a great time, even though they apparently rented a car and were seen driving on the wrong side of the road!

All of which gives me an excuse to post this picture of said grandson.


I particularly like this one because someone, presumably his wife, caught him without his characteristic smirk.  It's a thoughtful pose of a young man looking out to sea.  I could weave a whole story about an Irish lad imagining what his life might become in America.  But since this lad was born in Phoenix and grew up in Colorado I think I'll just leave well enough alone.

By the way, his name is Russell but born, as he was, with bright red hair I've always called him Rusty.  The red seems to have disappeared from the top of his head but still clings to his beard.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

MACARONS VS. MACAROONS

Yes, folks, there is a difference.

Macarons (pronounced: ma-ca-rones) are not the same cookie as macaroons (pronounced: ma-ca-roons.)

Macaroons have been a part of American cookie cookery for decades. They are made by folding shredded coconut into a base of egg whites and sugar whipped until very stiff.  The batter is then dropped onto a baking sheet by spoonsful and baked into a little haystack.  They may be dipped in chocolate once baked.

Macarons come to us from fine French patisseries.  It starts off the same way as macaroons with egg whites and sugar whipped until stiff. But then a combination of powdered sugar and almond flour (or finely ground almonds) is folded into it.  The resulting batter is then piped into exact circles and the tops of half of them gently smoothed with a finger dipped in water.  Once baked, the tops and bottoms are combined in a sandwich with a flavored buttercream inside.  By the way, the cookies are even more elegant if the dough is colored with food coloring to match the flavor of buttercream . . yellow for lemon, green for mint, etc.  SWMBO found that chilling the sandwich cookies helped to set up the buttercream a bit.

This was her first attempt and they're not perfect by French standards but they're pretty darned good and she learned a few things about making them.


They're a little crunchy, a little chewy and a lot delicious!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

SATURDAY

It was a bit early but the Mesa Arts Center hosted a big Day of the Dead fiesta today.




SWMBO declined to attend, given as she is to an aversion to all of the skulls and skeletons present at these events.  Plus she wanted part of a day with the kitchen to herself as she tackled her first macarons. She learned a few things but I can attest that they are delicious and seem properly both crunchy and chewy.

But back to the celebration.  In Mexico, it is a three-day celebration. On October 31st (All Hallows Eve) children make an alter to invite the spirits of dead children back for a visit.  On November 1st, all of the spirits come for a visit on All Spirits Day.  November 2nd is All Souls Day, when families of the departed go to cemeteries to decorate their ancestors' graves.  Marigolds, photos of the dead relatives, perhaps some of their favorite foods and drink are brought and it frequently develops into an hours-long picnic.

At today's early celebration, faces were painted like skulls and skeletons and many other types of skulls were everywhere.





Unlike the American Halloween the depictions of skulls and skeletons are not intended to frighten but to remember and celebrate the relatives who have gone on before us.








The Arts Center did a marvelous job of decorating it's buildings and grounds for the festival.


As at any Mexican celebration there is an abundance of color, beautiful costumes, music and dancing.



The youngest dancers gathered at the side of the stage to watch their mentors.


Here are a couple of videos of what they saw and heard.

video

video

As I turned to go, I was struck by the look of intense concentration on the face of this nina


 She seemed lost in a world of dreams as she watched the adults dancing, thinking perhaps of the day when she would be an adult and . . like them . . still dancing and bringing joy to the rest of us.

Friday, October 25, 2013

FRIDAY FUNNIES

Curiously enough, all of my Friday Funnies this week come from "someecards".  I think the first one is my favorite.


This next one may not be so funny but I found it worth using anyway.


And finally, one that's always good.


Have a good weekend!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

THE CIA BLONDE

I stopped by the main Phoenix library today to hear a talk by Valerie Plame, who has a new book out, called "Blowback".  In case you've forgotten, Plame is the former covert CIA agent whose cover was blown by several people in Washington after her husband, Joe Wilson, contradicted claims by the Bush administration that Iraq was trying to buy material for nuclear weapons.  Plame today talked about the background of the case and described the civil suit she and her husband filed that was eventually dismissed.



She is a very intelligent lady who has begun a second career writing mystery novels from her new home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  She drew a fairly large turnout of respectful people today, as judged by the questions she was asked.  I only regret that the close-up picture I took of her was so blurry.  SWMBO said it must have been because I was trembling at being so close to this beautiful woman.



Update:  I just figured out why that picture is blurry.  The batteries in my camera were on their last legs.  I've replaced them.  Now, where's Valerie?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

GERTRUDE'S, CACTI AND MONARCHS

So alright, already.  I had a routine doctor's appointment today and after it, SWMBO and I headed for the Desert Botanical Garden in Papago Park in Phoenix.  First stop was Gertrude's, a first class restaurant which opened this year on the grounds of the park.  It's named after Gertrude Divine Webster who founded DBG back in 1939. The restaurant has been getting raves and even though we were just lunching we soon found out why.  

SWMBO had the Sonoran Dog, a bacon wrapped Schreiner's beef hot dog, topped with avocado, tepary beans, Cotija, and tomatillo relish on a poppy seed bun.  (In keeping with his locavore style, Chef Stephen Eldredge uses tepary beans, which have been grown in the Southwestern United States and Mexico by native people since pre-Columbian times.)



As for me, I was drawn to the "3 Napkin Smoked Sow".  It was smoked pork and Arizona Cheese Company jack accompanied by cilantro, pickled apple and pickled onion on a ciabatta bun.  A red chile jus was there for dipping and, as Emeril might say, "to kick it up a notch."


Both sandwiches were delicious but the triple fried potatoes with sea salt were the stars of the show.  Yum!

So, bellies full, it was on to walk some of it off.  The Desert Botanical Garden is a wonderland of cacti (or cactuses, if you must) and native plants.  It is mysterious and spectacular, no lie.








The ones just above are said to be endemic to Argentina and reminded me of nothing more than a nest of rattlesnakes, I'm sorry to say.  Fascinating, though.

Then it was on to a special exhibit that had brought us here today: the Mariposa Monarca butterfly exhibit.  Here's a short video I shot.

video

And to give you a better look, here's a photo of one of the Monarch butterflies.  They were brought over from California and will live the rest of their brief lives in this exhibit space.


The native monarchs winter in the state of Michoacan in Mexico and migrate north as far as Canada.

On our way out of the park today, I spotted one of my favorite cacti.


Looks soft and fluffy like a bunch of rolled socks but I wouldn't want to get too close to those prickly spines.

SWMBO spotted what she called a Pregnant Barrel Cactus.


See?  I'm not the only one in the family who makes oddball observations!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MINDLESSNESS

I'm sorry.  

I can't think of anything worthwhile to blog about these days.  

It's temporary.  

I hope.

So.

Be patient with me.

Or maybe just ignore me.

I'll be back.

Some day.



Friday, October 18, 2013

YES IT IS. FRIDAY AGAIN.


Poor doggie!

This next one is from cartoonist Gary Varvel of the Indianapolis Star.


Interesting comment on the week's news, eh?

You might take this next one as a similar comment, if you like.


And finally, turn up your sound for this next one.  It's pretty darn remarkable.  The crew on board the Bourbon Peridot off the coast of Equatorial Guinea in West Africa takes their turn at lip-synching "Africa" by Toto.



Have a great weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

CORRECTION TO AN EARLIER POST

Awhile back when writing about my o-o-o-l-d friend, Karl Kindberg, I made a couple of errors, he was prompt to inform me yesterday.  First of all, he has NOT had two hip replacements and one knee replacement.  He has had ONE hip replacement and TWO knee replacements.  Second of all, when he was a cast member on the Ozzie and Harriet Show his name was not "Biff", as I stated.  It was "Dink", he told me.  Now if those were the two choices, I think I'd let history believe it was Biff.  But that's his affair.

I don't think I made any other errors but I'm sure "da guys" will let me know if I did.

Let's see, what other trouble can I get into.  Oh, yeah.


By the way, the Houston Chronicle in an editorial today, apologized for endorsing Cruz for the Senate a year ago.

Meantime in the baseball playoffs the National League teams St. Louis and Los Angeles will return to St. Louis for the final one or two games. The Cardinals lead the best of seven series 3 games to 2.  They won both games one and two on their home field.


I hope the rest of your week is pleasant.