Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I'm still trying to get my pizza right. I baked it a bit longer last night so the crust was firm but I didn't notice any special flavor in it to indicate the Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese I had added to it. Of course, it was covered with sauce and pepperoni and mozzarella cheese so probably I wouldn't have noticed.  But it was a good pizza which SWMBO and I demolished at one sitting.

Tonight, I think will just be some leftover jerk chicken and rice.

I'm beginning to realize, after only a couple of weeks of this, why SWMBO tired of cooking, after 50 years or so.

So . . on to another subject.

The bridge construction continues in my neighborhood and today we found out what those tall cylindrical columns of rebar were used for.  They were guides for the forms into which cement was poured.  One of them was hardened enough for the forms to be removed today and you can see the columns for the bridge coming into being.

I don't know if any of you are as fascinated by this as I seem to be but I'll probably continue reporting on it simply because I drive through the construction zone a couple or more times a day.  Humor me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Don't be a jerk!

My cooking adventures continue.  Last night I made Jerk Chicken.  It was very easy.  Bought a bottle of jerk marinade at the store, marinaded the chicken pieces for a couple of hours in a plastic bag, dumped it all into a glass dish and baked it in the oven for about 40 minutes.  SWMBO introduced us to jerk chicken but she used to make her own marinade.  Mine was just as good, I thought.  However, the curried green bananas I fixed to accompany the chicken didn't have the proper sweet flavor to go with the hot.  We sprinkled them with a bit of sugar which helped but SWMBO said she thought the bananas were "too" green and therefore not sweet enough.  White rice and a tossed salad accompanied the entree.

Forgot to take any pictures.  I suppose I could take a picture of my full mid-section.  Naaaaahhhh.  Wouldn't be prudent, as George H.W. Bush used to say.

I just finished making a couple of balls of pizza dough.  This time I added some Italian seasoning and some Parmesan cheese to the flour so I'll see how that turns out.  It looks good so far.

And the beat goes on.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why I'm staying inside today!

Sunday, Sunday, and Baby It's Cold Outside.  Either song could describe mid-day in my town, Arizona.

Do you see that white stuff on the branches of our mimosa tree?  That's snow!

The little evergreen closer to the ground seems huddled under a white blanket.

We could go for a drive, if the windshield wipers aren't frozen in place.

Hmmm, maybe a backyard picnic lunch?

Oh, sure, just take a seat!

And honey, this honeysuckle vine seems like it's shivering.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chinee food!

O.K. I know I'm going to offend someone with that title.  But it goes way back, decades, to my Charlie Chan days on television.  Maybe even before.

But . . . I made some egg drop soup tonight for SWMBO and I.  It was easy.  It was delicious.  The recipe came from the internets.  Again, can I say: it was easy, it was delicious.

That was a preview to my Kung Pao Chicken.  My Kung Pao Chicken.  I do exaggerate.  It came in a frozen bag from the supermarket.  Heat it up in a large non-stick frying pan, throw in the bag of peanuts, toss in the bag of sauce.  Combine it all with the microwaved bag of rice.  It's dinner!

It's amazing what they can do with frozen food these days. 

But, by gawd, my egg drop soup was made from scratch.  And it was good.  And there's enough left for tomorrow.

Snow again

Well, I've done it again - bragged about our wonderful, balmy, warm Arizona weather to all of my friends in much colder and snowier climes.  And this is what I get for it.

The weatherman says we may have 4 inches or more by tomorrow but the temperature is forecast to go up to the 50's by Monday so this will not last.

The worst part is that the wet, sticky snow messes up my television reception because it sticks to the satellite dish and blocks the signal from coming through.  I've been up on a ladder brushing it off and even sprayed the dish with silicone spray but so far that's not working.  Next up: cooking spray.  Or maybe WD-40.  That's supposed to fix everything.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bridge progress . . and weather

Here's the latest update on the bridge construction on Highway 89-A over Viewpoint Road in Prescott Valley.  Concrete on both sides of the road now.  First the north side.

 Then the south side.

Then the weather.  It's getting breezy and the temperature is dropping.  There's a prediction of rain and snow for about the next week.  We don't expect much, if any, snow here but perhaps in the upper elevations to the north and the east.  But . . . in 1996, SWMBO and I opened a bookstore here on March 3rd.  The weather up until then had been dry and mostly warm.  But during the night before our grand opening, a snowstorm hit and the big day dawned with a lot of snow.  SWMBO said "I'm staying home," but I was determined to open the store on schedule.  I think we had about three customers all day.  It definitely wasn't worth it.  The only thing good about late snowfalls here is that it never lasts long.  Within a day or two all the snow had melted away and the sunshine was back.  Now that we're retired (mostly) we can just stay inside at home and watch the weather through a window.  So, I say . . . "bring it on!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The weather is changing.  There's a cold breeze out there tonight.  Possible rain, possible snow is on the way.  The moon is 98 percent full tonight but shrouded in clouds.

It's a Sherlock Holmes kind of night.  One could imagine hearing the howling of the hounds on the moors.  If one had hounds.  And moors.

What could protect me against the terrors of the night?  There's only one hope.

My faithful companion.  Blackwell.  The blackest of cats.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


O.K.  This is my second.  I'm kind of proud of it.

It's actually round!  Well, mostly.  My first one was shaped sort of like an infected kidney.  But I figured out how to roll one out with a rolling pin and made this one mostly round.  I also doped it with a lot of sauce, a lot of cheese and a lot of pepperoni.  And a lot of Italian seasoning.

My second one was a lot better than the first one.  I should have baked this one a little longer to firm up the crust a bit but I'm learning.

Now, if I could just be a little more patient with my photography . . .

Old Time Rock 'n' Roll

I heard a piece on National Public Radio a few minutes ago about a young couple and the music played at their wedding reception.  She had a favorite song, he said it wasn't right.  Sometime during the reception, she talked to the band and the result was . . .

I love this song, too.

For some reason it reminds me of a disk jockey I once worked with in Bismarck, North Dakota.  His name was Jack Fisher and he was known as The Old Reb on the air.  But previously he had worked a morning show at a station in Minneapolis which was sponsored by, of all companies, a beer maker.  He called his show the Beer Bash and used to say (at 8 or 9 in the morning), "Hey, ladies, wouldn't a nice cold beer taste good right now?"  Ah, those were the days.

Update: One of my readers is a colleague from my earliest days in radio.  He has a real name but I have always called him Danny Bananas and by that name he shall be known here.  He sends occasional comments by e-mail and I have just received one from him.  He says the d.j. I mentioned was not the Old Reb, he was the Ol Reb.  I stand corrected.  And I just remembered the name he used on his Beer Bash.  It was Throckmorton.  Throckmorton and the Beer Bash.  Those were the days!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Valentine's Day Massacre

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago, Illinois, occurred a mere 82 years ago, in 1929.  Al Capone was in Florida but his gunsels lined up 7 rival gangsters from the Bugs Moran gang and machine-gunned them.  Capone later went to prison on evasion of income tax charges.  He died in 1947 of cardiac arrest at his home in Miami Beach.   Moran died of lung cancer in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in 1957.

All of which is to wish you all a happy St. Valentine's Day.  It was a little calmer around our home.  I fixed a Shrimp Scampi bake, Fettucini Alfredo, a salad, a freshly-baked loaf of French bread and we tested out a couple of straight-from-the-supermarket cheesecake samples for dessert.  Oh, and a bottle of Chardonnay.  I meant to take pictures but everything was getting done at the same time and in the excitement I forgot.  So this is the only one I got, after the cheesecakes.

The BRD communicated by e-mail this afternoon and told me of her menu for herself and her Beau Jack: Brie en croute, shrimp cocktails, lobster bisque with salad, Red Velvet cake and champagne.

Sounds like all four of us did pretty good today.  I hope your day (and eating) went just as well.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The anxiety dream

I used to be a television news producer.  Local television station in Phoenix.  But I decided what stories would run in the newscast, in what order they would run, which anchor would read each story, rode herd on the reporters who did the stories, and usually wrote much of the rest of the newscast, including the idiotic "teases" for the next segment.  I also used to start my job by writing: "Good evening, I'm _______________ (and) Good evening, I'm _________________."  I always used to say that if I didn't include that page in the script the anchors would forget to introduce themselves.

Well, those days are long in my past now and I don't think any of the current anchors would forget to mention their names at the top of the newscast.

I left television news in 1985.  That's 26 years ago.  But I have had a recurrent dream over the years.  In it, I am still producing newscasts but with one major difference.  I never get it done.  Problems develop throughout the day, usually of my own doing and procrastination.  Suddenly it is time for the newscast to go on the air and I have . . . NOTHING . . . prepared!  No script, no video, no pictures, nothing!  I usually go running down the stairs to the studio and hand the anchors a wadded handful of wire copy and  . . . then . . . I wake up in a cold sweat.

This is my anxiety dream.  I have learned from talking to people over the years that everyone has one.  For instance, SWMBO's anxiety dream usually involves moving her home and packing boxes and never being ready, never getting it all done.  She has, thanks to me and others, had to go through the "moving experience" a number of times in her life.  Once, we moved out of her large house to an apartment 20 miles or so away and when she came back to do the last run-through of the house, she found her son (who supposedly was far away starting a new life) sleeping on a bare floor in his previous room.  He didn't know we were moving, we didn't know he was returning to "his home."  But, you can see why SWMBO would have a "moving" anxiety dream.

All of this is to explain that last night, I had my "producer dream" again.  And it was great!  Everything went well all day, I had a script to hand each of the anchors at newstime, the reporter tape "packages" were ready to go and the newscast went beautifully.  I told SWMBO about it today and she said "So are you finally released?"  I said "I think so.  I hope so."

We all have anxieties, most of them hidden in our psyches.  They tend to come out and plague us in our dreams.  I really do hope mine are gone.

Except - - - now I find myself thinking about my problems with cooking!

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On another topic entirely.  The BRD and her Beau Jack went to the Grand Canyon today with his son and the son's fiancee.  A picture was snapped at the rim.

I told her it should be captioned "The Silver Foxes".  She said it would be lovely and true.  So here they are.  The Silver Foxes.  Damned good looking couple, don't you think?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Homemade bread

You may recall that I've taken over much of the cooking in my house.  Some of it has been good, some of it just o.k. and some of it has been pretty bad.

A couple of days ago I dragged out our old, hardly ever used bread machine to see what I could do.

My first loaf suffered because I forgot to use warm liquid.  That was pretty much a short little hockey puck.  The second loaf was a potato bread that turned out a lot better.  But my healthy diet conscious wife said "why don't you try something with whole wheat flour."  (I knew that was coming and had already considered it.) 

In the meantime, I had bought a quart of buttermilk because I thought I'd seen a recipe that looked interesting.  I made buttermilk/banana pancakes this morning.  Now neither of us is fond of pancakes but we got through them and I thought they were pretty good.  But I still had quite a bit of buttermilk and was wondering how to use it before it went bad.  (Which brings to mind the old line - How do you tell if your buttermilk has gone bad, anyway?  But that's beside the point here.)

SWMBO to the rescue!  She found a recipe on the Internet for Buttermilk Honey Wheat Bread made in a bread machine.  The recipe said it would only take 55 minutes.  Now, I know how long my bread machine takes just to knead the dough and let it rise and bake it and I seriously doubted that.  But I went ahead, tossed it together and turned on the machine.  It's clock told me it would be all ready in . . . . . 3 hours and 45 minutes!  But hey, I'm retired, I've got nothing but time. 

It finally got done, we tasted it and loved it.  Wonderful!

It's a small loaf but there are only the two of us and we can always make more.

If you're so inclined, you can find the recipe here.  Just don't trust it when it says it only takes 55 minutes.

The new Blackwell

Frequent readers of this blog may remember a scrawny, scarred-up, underfed cat that began hanging around my residence after I began feeding him in the garage.  He had, at that time, been dubbed "Blackie Detroit."

But he kept getting into fights and coming around more and more scarred up.  So we took him to the Humane Society, had him neutered and brought him home to become an "inside cat."  He's gotten out a couple of times and explored a bit but doesn't seem to get into any more fights.  What he does do a lot of is eat!  And eat and eat and eat.  That little kitten has grown into quite a heavyweight cat.
And he's my buddy now.  He lets me pet him, scratch his head and back, even his tummy now and then.  And when I'm not using it, he takes up residence on my bed.  Last night I found him acting nearly human, taking a snooze using a pillow to rest his head.

As you can see, he's become quite a home cat.  And when we brought him in he acquired a new name.  He is the much more sophisticated "Blackwell" now.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tumbleweed Junction

Out here in the wild (South)West, spring brings a plethora of nasty plants which go by the name of tumbleweeds.  They're called that because when the plant dies and dries, it breaks off and the large, sort of round top part tumbles across the deserts with the wind.  Where I live, in the high desert, there are thousands of them on pastureland and vacant lots.

Barbed wire (or as it's called down South "bob wire") fences catch a lot of them and I saw some town work crews out gathering them up and hauling them away this morning.

But the fences don't get all of them and frequently they are encountered on streets and highways.  They can get caught under one's car but usually they just kind of explode and scatter when they're hit.

Now if you've ever watched an old Western movie, you've no doubt seen tumbleweeds.  And there's even a great old song about them.

And yes, that fellow who came down the stairs and stopped to listen was the "King of the Cowboys" - Roy Rogers.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A musical interlude

Here's a neat song from those round-the-world musicians at Playing for Change.  In honor of Bob Marley.  I like the work of the two brothers(?) from Italy, Simone and Roberto Luti.

(Thanks to my buddy, Jeff, for tipping me to it.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday update

As I wrote to my friend, Phil, he can wear his "cheesehead" proudly now that the Lombardi trophy has been returned to Green Bay with the Packers' win over the Steelers in yesterday's Super Bowl.


Progress continues to be made on the Highway 89-A overpass at Viewpoint Road in north Prescott Valley.  The north side now has concrete in place.

The south side looks like it's getting ready to match it.

Traffic is still moving normally through the intersection while heavy equipment continues to roll on the project.

I think the entire project is supposed to be done in the fall of this year.  I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday morning . . .

. . . is just right for homemade cranberry muffins.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A chocolate mess

I am constantly finding recipes on television, the Internets, in magazines or newspapers that sound simple and good.  Frequently . . with my limited cooking skills . . they turn into disasters, with a knowing grimace on the face of SWMBO.  Today was such a case.

I discovered a recipe in a local paper for what was termed "Hot Fudge Cake".  Sounded pretty good and fairly simple.  It was loaded with brown sugar, cocoa and chocolate chips.  What could go wrong with that, right?

Well perhaps the first indication that this was a weird recipe was that it was baked or cooked in a crock pot.  You know, a slow cooker.

But I charged ahead into the fray, first making a batter (no eggs though).  Brown sugar, cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt which was then combined with some milk, melted butter and vanilla extract.  Spread that in a crock pot that had been sprayed with cooking spray.  Top it with a cup and a half of chocolate chips.  Then combine some more brown sugar, cocoa and boiling water and pour it over the top.  Put a lid on it, turn it to high and leave it for 4 hours.

The room smelled marvelous until the last 15 minutes or so when SWMBO asked how long that thing was supposed to cook because it was smelling "scorchy".  I said everything was under control.  At exactly 4 hours I lifted the lid, did the toothpick test in the middle of the "cake" and it came out clean.  Done.  Except it was bubbing a bit menacingly around the edges and, yes, it did smell a bit "scorchy".

SWMBO said she'd like to ask the recipe's author why they didn't explain how to get the "creation" out of the pot.  I said we'll just put a plate over it and invert it.  But first maybe I'd check the sides with a spatula.  Hmmmm.  Some parts took some shoving and scraping to get it loose.  Seemed a bit charred.  But nevertheless, I did the inverting process, tapped the bottom of the cooker and picked it up.  Out tumbled a kind of muddled mess of chocolate in several forms.  Some of it was cake.  Quite a bit was liquid chocolate.  Parts of it were burned hard bits.  Definitely not a sight one would want to show off in a photograph or on a nice party plate for guests.

But . . . it tasted delicious!  Chocolate flavor to the max.  Oh we'll eat it and it goes especially good with some vanilla ice cream.

But I doubt if I'll ever make another one.  Certainly not in a slow cooker.

But then . . .

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tortilla Soup

My cooking adventures continue.  Today I made tortilla soup.  I have to credit where credit is due.  The recipe came from a restaurant in Prescott, Arizona.  Murphy's.  SWMBO and I had it there, loved it, begged for the recipe and found enough people had asked for it that they had it printed up.  So, herewith, "Murphy's Tortilla Soup".

1 cup fresh corn kernels
2 Tablespoons sweet butter
4 cloves garlic - minced
1 cup onion - diced
1/2 cup carrots - diced
1 stalk celery - diced
1/2 cup Anaheim chili pepper - seeded, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1-1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 cups tomatoes - diced
1 quart chicken stock
1 bunch cilantro - chopped
1-1/2 cups cooked chicken - diced
1-1/2 Tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper - freshly ground

2 cups tortilla chips - broken into small pieces
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese - grated

Cut raw kernels off corn cob with a sharp knife. (I used frozen corn kernels - easier.)  In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat, add the garlic, onion, celery, corn, carrots and Anaheim chile and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the cumin, chili powder and oregano and continue stirring another minute to toast the spices.  Add the tomatoes, stock, cilantro and chicken.  Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, distribute the broken tortilla chips equally in the bottom of soup bowls, ladle the soup over them, and garnish each bowl with a tablespoon of cheese.

And to further enjoy your meal, play this video.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Madness this way comes

I was listening to NPR this afternoon while I was driving home from running some errands.  A producer of television commercials was being interviewed about his craft.  He said an average commercial during the Super Bowl can cost one million dollars to produce.  But, he said, that's not bad because the television audience for the big game is around 100 million people, in the U.S. alone.  I think the commercials are the best part of the telecast and I've heard of people who tape them during the game so they can watch them over and over.  For example, thanks to YouTube, here are somebody's 10 best commercials from Super Bowl 42 in 2008.

This year the Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl on Sunday.  I'll probably watch . . for the commercials . . but I'll have a hard time forgetting a friend of mine who sent me his picture today as he prepared for the big game.  Apparently he's a fan of Green Bay, whose loyalists are known as . . . . . cheeseheads.

May the best team win.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Trouble in the Middle East

It began in Tunisia, where the government fell to protesters.

Then, on to Egypt, where Cairo is dissolving into chaos.  President Mubarak says he won't run again.  He's 82 years old.  But he says he'll stay in power until the next election, in September.  Many of his citizens say that's not good enough, he must leave immediately.  Today, pro-Mubarak supporters challenged the anti-Mubarak protesters and violence was the order of the day.  It continues tonight.

Around the region, the king of Jordan has sacked his government and appointed a new prime minister.

The president of Yemen says neither he nor his son will run again.

Israel is, as the old expression goes, "on tenterhooks".

Iran is quiet but obviously watching carefully.

As I said to SWMBO today, it will be years before this is all sorted out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Y'know this gettin' older thing is a real pain.  Like this morning.  Suddenly I couldn't find a 4 by 6 inch index card on which are inscribed all of my User ID's and Passwords to access my various sites on the World Wide Web.  It's always in the same place, resting on top of my printer.  But not this morning.  So I spent about two hours tearing my den apart.  I emptied a waste basket, then another one, then another one.  Three separate rooms.  I went out to the garage and looked in the recycle bin.  I went through about half of the Sunday New York Times, thinking the card had slipped between the pages.  I went through several files in a couple of file drawers.  I accused SWMBO of stealing the card.  She helped me look for awhile and offered several worthless suggestions about where it could be.  I said "I give up", then I searched some more.  I got down on my hands and knees under my desk. (Wow, is it dusty down there!)  Then I looked everywhere I had looked before.  Nada.  Zip.  Then I asked Blackwell if he had taken it.  Blackwell is a cat, for cryin' out loud, and he was staring at me like I had completely lost my mind.  Which I nearly had.  That card had to be here somewhere.

Then I found it.  It was lying on the coffee table in the living room, underneath a Netflix envelope.  When I finished the movie I watched last night, I took the envelope and the disc to the other room for SWMBO to view later.  But I also picked up my index card at the same time, unknowingly, unwittingly.

I mean: I have the information written on the index card so I don't have to remember all of it.  But it doesn't help if I misplace the card and can't remember where it went, now does it?

Pam Peterson knows how I feel.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bob Schneider sings!

I had never heard of this guy until I saw him on Austin City Limits this week.  Now, I'm a fan.  He's one of those amazing musicians that continue to be turned out in Texas.  He doesn't look like he does in this video.  The hair is shorter but shaggier and he has a full beard.  In a brief interview after his performance he said he can't figure out why people pay money to come and listen to him sing songs he wrote in his bedroom.  He reportedly has a repertoire of 400 songs.  This one . . . performed on an earlier ACL show . . . reportedly is his trademark.  Get up on your feet and prepare to "shake your booty!"

This next one is even better.

Well would you look at this!

I've been poking a bit of fun at residents of other parts of the United States this winter.  Parts that seem to be covered in snow and cold weather.  But look what happened in my part of Arizona this morning.

Oh, I know.  It's not much.  Only a dusting.  But it certainly gave Blackwell an idea about how to spend the day.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Allow me to introduce a good, no, a very good friend of mine.  Her name is Lana.

Lana Elmore Cochrun is the full name.  And she is an artist.

I have known her for more decades than either of us would want to admit.  She spent the bulk of her life as an art teacher in Indiana, trying to inspire the youth of her area to indulge in their gifts and their talents.

Now, she lives in California, on the Central Coast, where she has had the opportunity to indulge herself, her talent, her gifts.  She has had great success and I believe she has a great future.

You can see her most recent show at the Windward Gallery here.  If you are in her area (Cambria) I would suggest you buy her work now.  It can only get better and more dear.

Congratulations, dear friend.

Cooking follow and The Ocean View Restaurant

My attempt at making Lemon Souffle Pancakes (from James McNair's Favorites) was a fair success this morning.  Pretty simple recipe, though you wouldn't have known it by the amount of dishes I had to clean up afterwards.  I topped them with the rest of the blueberry sauce from yesterday's Dutch babies and SWMBO fried up some hickory smoked bacon to accompany.  Cooking is fun but eating is better.

And now a story of life that a good friend has just e-mailed to me.  Men may appreciate it more than women but I think you'll all enjoy it.

A group of 15-year old guys discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Dairy Queen next to the Ocean View Restaurant because they only had $6.00 between them, and Jannie Johnson, that cute girl in Social Studies, lives on that street, and they might see her, and they can ride their bikes there.

Ten years later, the group of 25-year-old guys discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the beer was cheap, they had free snacks, the band was good, there was no cover, and there were lots of cute girls.

Ten years later, at 35 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the booze was good, it was right near the gym, and if they went late enough, there wouldn't be too many whiny little kids.

Ten years later, at 45 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the martinis were big, and the waitresses wore tight tops and tighter pants.

Ten years later, at 55 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the prices were reasonable, the wine list was good, and fish is good for your cholesterol.

Ten years later, at 65 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the lighting was good, and they have an early bird special.

Ten years later, at 75 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the food was not too spicy, and the restaurant was handicapped accessible.

Ten years later, at 85 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because they had never been there before.

(Thanks, Lori!)

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I'd like to have photos to show you but I have to master my camera and its intricacies first.

I go through one of these "spasms" from time to time.  I love reading about food, watching t.v. food shows, imagining all the recipes I could concoct or at least master. 

Well, as SWMBO pointed out tonight at the dinner table, cooking is mastered (or at least made competent) by doing it every day, for days and weeks and months at a time.  I have in the past taken on some recipe that was way beyond my talents, gotten frustrated by the results and said some version of "I'll never cook again!"

But then, at some point in the future, having watched Bobby Flay or Mario Batali or the sexy Cat Cora easily polish off a wonderful gourmet dish . . or having read some fabulous recipe in a magazine or a cookbook . . . the juices get stirring again. 

I have recently taken a look at one book in our (SWMBO says) "massive" cookbook collection.  It is "James McNair's Favorites" and I have fallen in love with the kitchen again.  This time I've decided to take it from the beginning, trying some of his simple recipes from the very front of the book, then working my way forward.  Thus I came to his second recipe - "Oven-Puffed Pancakes", which he says also are known as "Dutch babies".  They're very simple and my first attempt was successful.  I used the "standard" lemon juice and powdered sugar on them, then tried some "out of the bottle" pancake syrup.  They were o.k.  Today, I made them again, for SWMBO and I.  This time, I filled the cavity with a heated and sweetened blueberry syrup which was in the refrigerator and topped them with a bit of powdered sugar.  We both loved them.

Well, what can encourage a fledgling in the kitchen except success, right?  So this afternoon I tried one of Mark Bittmann's recipes for red pepper puree.  Again, success. 

And that led, of course, to something more complicated.  Chicken saltimbocca, which I've made before, and fettucini alfredo, which I've also made before. 

First was a salad and I found, to my despair, that the refrigerator held only a quarter of a dessicated head of iceberg lettuce for the greens.  Oh, there was some bok choy but I think that's for cooking and some romaine hearts, but I usually just tear one of those leaves off, dip it in some ranch dressing and munch it along with Friday night pizza.  So I experimented, chopping up what remained of the iceberg, adding some chopped radishes, green onions and orange peppers.  As I told SWMBO at the table, I guessed it what is called these days "a chopped salad."  It wasn't bad.

Then on to the entree.  I had some trouble with the chicken.  Ended up with one fairly large piece, one slightly smaller piece and a couple of little pieces.  The prosciutto may have come out of the refrigerator too soon as it tended to shred, rather than peel off nicely in a slice.  Then the basil leaves were smaller than I had expected so instead of two per piece of chicken, there were four or so and fastening them and the prosciutto with toothpicks became somewhat of a problem.  But I got it done, after a fashion.  (Kind of looked like a Civil War soldier sutured up on the battlefield by some guy whose previous experience was as a blacksmith.)

Then there was the pasta.  Damn!  One of my front burners just doesn't put out enough heat so I struggled getting the fettucini to a fair resemblance of al dente.  Then I (as I usually do) undercalculated the amount of alfredo sauce.  So, the pasta was a little tough and a little dry.

But. . . wonder of it all . . . the saltimbocca was wonderful.

So I am a moderate success.  And, as SWMBO was good to point out (as she cowered in the other room), I neither screamed in agony during the process nor yelled the F word once.

Tomorrow morning . . . McNair's lemon souffle pancakes.



After years of pleading the Corporate Office has confirmed that TJ's will open a store in Prescott this year.

Here is the story as reported in today's Daily Courier.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cool cellos

I have to thank my good friend, travelin' man Tom "Tombo" Check for bringing this video to my attention.  All I can say is what I said to him on hearing it: "wow"!

Pigeons . . . for pie?

When I looked out my back window this morning, I saw a pair, a couple, a brace, of pigeons sitting on the fence.  Innocently looking around, taking in a coolish but sunny morning, thinking about plans for the day.  Or perhaps, as I am wont to surmise, thinking about nothing because their brains are too small.  But they certainly are plump.

Perhaps, if one were inclined to shoot and eat them, perfect for a pigeon pie.

Which introduces British chef Simon Goodman.

Well, I'm sorry.  Not to my taste.  But it's up to you.  At least you now know how to do it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stay Around A Little Longer

Buddy Guy (on the left) is 74.  B.B. King (on the right) is 85.  They both still play and sing some remarkable blues.  Enjoy.

Experiments with morning sweet light

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Read It and Weep!

Here's what the national weather forecast map looks like for the United States this afternoon.

And here's what the thermometer was reading on the outside of our front window at about the same time.

Now I just ask "where would you rather live?"

Monday, January 24, 2011

True Grit

SWMBO and I went to the movies this afternoon to see True Grit.  That's the new Joel and Ethan Coen version of the great movie originally made by the late John Wayne.  Wayne won his only Oscar for playing the scruffy lawman Rooster Cogburn in 1969.  And he was great.

The new version of True Grit, while basically following the same story as in the original (which was based on a novel by Charles Portis) is perhaps a bit darker than the original.  And Rooster Cogburn is even scruffier than Wayne's version, as played by Jeff Bridges.

But he, too, is great in the role.  I was talking to another couple as we were leaving the theatre and we all agreed that while the stories were pretty much the same the two movies were different and the portrayals of Cogburn were different.  But both great performances.

The Coens are fine movie makers.  SWMBO thinks they're a little too violent but she loved "Fargo", as did virtually everyone I know.  I don't think she saw "No Country For Old Men" but I did and thought it was another great movie.

This kind of rambled.  Just go see "True Grit".  Either one.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Football Follies

I've never prided myself on being that much of a fan of NFL football.  I much prefer NCAA college games.  But nevertheless that didn't stop me from making predictions about the two championship games today.  I predicted Green Bay would beat Chicago in the NFC and the New York Jets would beat Pittsburgh in the AFC.  I further predicted that the Jets would then go on to win the Super Bowl.

Looks like I'm going to be 33 percent when today is done.  Green Bay did indeed beat Chicago.  But at halftime, Pittsburgh is leading New York 24 to 3 and the Jets only got that field goal in the last 10 seconds of the half.

So it's looking like Green Bay will play Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl and, if so, of course the New York Jets will not be in the game and thus have no chance to win it.

All I've got to say is it's a good thing I don't bet on these games.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Silly Saturday

I have to thank my pal, Forrest Proper of the blog Mutterings of a Mad Bookseller for tipping me off to this little ditty.  Hope it brightens your day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just messin' around

Sunnny days are always good for photographing shadows in the backyard.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The King's Speech

SWMBO and I have just seen "The King's Speech", the story of King George VI and his struggle with his stammering.  Colin Firth should easily win the Oscar, as he already has won the Golden Globe, for Best Actor in an amazing performance.  But Geoffrey Rush also should have at least a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.  Both were sensational in this enjoyable movie.

As a curious sidenote, just as we entered the theatre and were trying to adjust our eyes to the darkness, we encountered the BRD who was unexpectedly in attendance.  May I say that we all loved the movie.

Long live the King!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By the way . . .

I would be remiss if I failed to mention yet another new blog from an old friend of mine, one Frank Phillippi who writes from the environs of Virginia near to the power elite.  He is one who keeps a weather eye on those in power in Washington.  But his blog reveals another interest all together (or should that be altogether?  Oh, never mind.)

You may inspect his blog at Vinyl Stats.  Enjoy!

Trader Joe's and construction updates

Some good news to report on the long desired Trader Joe's location in our area today.  Prescott Valley Economic Development Director Greg Fister told a meeting of the town's Chamber of Commerce yesterday morning that he'd "bet his paycheck" that Trader Joe's will be coming to this area this year.  He said it's more likely that the store will be located in Prescott than Prescott Valley but we can live with that.  There's been a huge urge by the communities to have TJ's locate here with, up until now, no positive reaction.  Of course, Greg could be just optimistic but as tight as he is I doubt he'd risk a paycheck in such a cavalier fashion.  So we wait.  But the anxiety level has been raised a notch.

Up on the north side of town, construction work is continuing on the Highway 89-A overpass over Viewpoint Road.  Workers are taking advantage of the great weather recently to make some progress.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A turnaround?

Much has been made of President Obama's speech in Tucson this week.  Pundits are asking (and sometimes answering their own questions) if it means a turnaround in the mean-spirited politics that has been going on for way too long.  Like many of the punditry I'm not so sure the new spirit will last.  But since I have said rather mean things about Arizona's Senator John McCain a couple of weeks ago, I feel I owe it to him to praise him now.

McCain has written a very complimentary and, has been said by others, "graceful" op ed piece which will appear in print in tomorrow's Washington Post.  I suggest you read it and join me in thanking the Senator for his kind words. 

In politics as in life one can be wrong sometimes and right (no pun intended) at other times.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Space talk

Recently I recommended a new blog to you written by a long time friend of mine, Tom Cochrun.  Now Tom can get a little spacey at times, like when he sent me an e-mail with a link to this article.

Go ahead, I'll wait here while you read it, if you have the patience.

Now I've picked on Tom for years about his undependable spelling though it appears he's gotten better at that since Spell Checkers became common in computer programs.  But, spacing between sentences?  As you have probably already noted, I always put two spaces between sentences.  Now this writer at Salon says I've been doing it all wrong.  Well I'm sorry.  At this late date I don't think I can change.  It's automatic with me.  So, if you're one of those one spacers you'll just have to live with my errors.

As for Tom, here's a message for you, buddy:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Work is slowly getting underway on the Highway 89A overpass over Viewpoint Road.  Slowly because as it was about to start a snowstorm blew in and it took awhile for everything to melt away.

I'll try to remember to keep you posted.


There's a function around here called the "Tuxedos and Tool Belts Ball."  Having neither a tuxedo or a tool belt, I've never been to it but here's what I'd like to hear to get those outfits dancing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Today is January 11th, 2011.  In abbreviated form, that makes it 1-11-11, as I realized when I read my friend Judy's blog this morning. 

Those numbers kept rolling around in my head all day.

At first (there's another 1) I put meaning to it when I heard SWMBO stir and I went to the kitchen to make her a cup of tea.  Normally I get her teabag and grab a packet of sweetener at the same time to put in my second cup of coffee.  But today those numbers had me thinking about something I'd read recently about multi-tasking.  We seem to have become accustomed to multi-tasking, doing two and more things at once.  For example, surfing the Internet while also checking our e-mail and half-listening to the news coming from the nearby radio or television set.  Add to that thinking about tasks coming up ahead in our day, wondering if we have some English muffins in the kitchen, re-living last night's exciting football game, considering whether that was what kept me from getting to sleep until nearly 3 a.m., and a plethora of other things.  It's enough to make anyone more than a little addled as the brain struggles to keep up.  The article I read said that multi-taskers generally don't do any one of the tasks well.  We have become adept at keeping many balls in the air but we're finding less and less applause for our act.  It's the old thing of heading into another room to do something but forgetting what it was you were going to do.  That's usually blamed on getting older.  But I think it's more and more because we're all trying to do too many things at the same time.  At least, thinking about doing them.

So, I resolved to try to change that and do just one thing at a time and to try to concentrate on that one thing.  But it's not easy.  For example, just now I was thinking ahead about where I want this little essay to go in the next paragraph while I was typing this one.  That may take multi-tasking to a ridiculous extreme but I think you can get the idea.

O.K.  It's another paragraph and this is the second thought I had.  It came from the television newscast where a scientist of some type or another was saying that Jarred Lee Loughner, the man who murdered a handful of people in Tucson Saturday morning, was almost certainly schizophrenic.  He claimed this was 99 percent certain because of things we have learned about him since his heinous act.  And various pundits are now saying words to the effect of "he may not have been influenced by right wing talk radio or Sarah Palin and her map because, while he seemed to be a fan of Ayn Rand and the gold standard he also seemed to favor the Communist manifesto and books like 'To Kill a Mockingbird'."  Maybe his brain couldn't handle all that multi-tasking and just . . broke.

So where do I go from here?  I don't believe I have any good solutions to anything right now, except to go to sleep tonight and be thankful that tomorrow will be merely 1-12-11.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Assassination: A Way of Life

We were stunned today to hear of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.  As it stands now, she is out of surgery and expected to survive, even though she was shot in the head at a political event outside a grocery store in Tucson.  Also as it stands now, 17 other people were shot and at least five of them were killed, including a 9 year old girl and a federal judge.  The perpetrator of all this violence was said to be a young man, 21 or 22 years of age, armed with some type of automatic weapon.  Amazingly in this day and age, he was taken into custody before he could do damage to himself.

This sad news brings me to think of other such tragedies.  Too close together were the murders of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Senator Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and the wounding of Governor George Wallace.  There also was the murder some years later of John Lennon.  When all of those horrible acts took place, I was working as a newsman in radio and television.  While I was thrown into the frantic scuffle of trying to report on those incidents it was also a sad and horrifying event for me as well as the great majority of my fellow Americans.

Will this madness never end? 

When will we ever learn?