Friday, January 31, 2014

Get Balsamic Vinegar....Quick You Fool

More food. More blogging.

Honestly, I haven't gotten on the scale in the last few weeks. With all this cooking I've been doing, I must have put on a few pounds.

Granted, I've never made dessert and have tried to keep things healthy, so hopefully the damage is minimal.

I mean, I don't think I eat anymore than normal, it's just been a heavy cooking blog this month, making me think I've been shoveling it down.

BTW, I'm still working on the chili. I think I have 2-3 more lunches to go before it's all done. Yes, it's been chili every lunch this week, yet I'm not tired of it.

Last night was fish.

Talapia is still kind of boring. I've tried dressing it up before with little to no success.

The mustard glaze didn't really work. Torn's tartar sauce glaze was ok, but didn't wow me.

This times it was a garlic / balsamic / butter sauce.


For a serving of two, you needed 1/2 T of butter, one clove of garlic and 1/8 cup of balsamic.  For 5 minutes, put the balsamic and garlic over medium heat so it reduces and thickens. Add the butter and whisk it into the sauce.

Drizzle over the fish.

I think 710 liked it better than myself. It was fine, but I had higher expectations, I suppose. I always do. Of course, the fish could have had more seasoning too, so I can't discount that wasn't the issue.

Still, it's fish and vinegar with a little butter.  That's healthy, right?

Sure, I had two cookies for dessert, but..........

Song by: Snow Patrol

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rocket's Tail

Poor little Petey man.  ....another round of his itchy tail.  ....another trip to the vet.

We must be a fucking cash cow for them - but as I've said before, it's worth it.

He's worth it.

You just have to figure that an almost 12 year old dog is going to cost some money keeping him well maintained.

This time, he was just starting on his tail, so it didn't get to the point of too much broken skin and no blood and as it turns out, no infection. Phew.

But, we had a doc I had never had at this practice. I had seen him, he just never treated Petey or Sophie. Nice guy and with a lot more information than we had previously received.

Teeth, ears, eyes, glands were all good. This coat was pretty good too, except for that spot on his tail.

This is where he tells me new info: the callous that is building up is really just harboring histamines that release every so often. Dr. Smith (no, not like the Lost in Space guy) says those histamines will feel like burning or stinging to him, which is why he goes after them. He also mentioned that the tail has a major vein that goes through it so, if Petey really goes at it he can do massive damage and have lots of blood loss.

He was a really nice guy but got me upset when he mentioned if it ever got bad to consider tail amputation!


I couldn't even have the conversation.

We opted for a low dose steroid injection yesterday and after day 4, we will move Petey to a lower dose oral steroid daily, and suspend his daily Zyrtec.  ...probably for the rest of his life.  Assuming it works.

You know I love him (Petey, not Dr. Smith), but the boy is 12 and surgery isn't really much of an option - if it ever gets to that.

A beagle without a tail?  That's just crazy talk!

Someone got extra hugs.........and treats.

Song by: Kate Bush

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chilly Winds

My last attempt at chili was fine and all, but it didn't quite hit the mark.

Now, I don't exactly what those marks are - it's like porn or art:  I'll know it when I see it.

We are back into sub-zero temps and something hot and hearty seemed to be the call of the day on Monday night, so chili is what I made.

You know I'm not eating chili with beans, so adding those was a non-starter. I also opted not to use a chuck roast or the slow cooker this time either.

What's a fledgling cook to do, but consult his mommy?

I love my mother, but she couldn't tell you how to makes any of her recipes. Like her meatloaf, she never makes chili the same way twice. Somehow both dishes come out tasting great and exactly like the times before - but in reality she just cleans out the refrig, and tosses it together, which is basically all I did.

I used celery and carrots last time I made chili, but I don't think it's a standard ingredient - but they were in the crisper. I think the beef, onions, garlic, peppers, chili powder, cumin and tomatoes are a bit more normal.

In a dutch oven, I browned 1.5 lbs of ground beef.  Afterwards I removed the beef but left in about 2T of the fat.

I used that fat to cook the onions (2 medium, diced)  and garlic (4 cloves, minced). I let them sweat for about 5-10 minutes. 

I then added the diced carrot (1), green peppers (2), red pepper (1) and celery (1). I kept all veggies a little chunky, as that's how I like them, but you need to cook them a bit longer to soften a little. 

I forgot a picture - sue me.  I added two 28 oz cans of peeled whole tomatoes. Diced may have been easier. Live and learn. Salt and pepper to taste. And about 2.5T of chili powder. And about 1T of cumin.  After letting that incorporate for a bit,  Taste as you add the spices - to see if you want to add more (or not). My spice amounts were for my taste - so you might not want that much chili powder. 

I also put a few splashes of Frank's Red Hot and a few 'shakes' of red pepper flakes. 

I then added the meet back to the pot and let it simmer for about 90 minutes. This gave everything a chance to mesh and thicken. 

Here it is. Dished into a bowl, with a little shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. I probably didn't need to add a half dozen or so extra shakes of the hot sauce. 

The chili had a great flavour - one I liked much better than that last one I tried. That one will most likely go by the wayside, and this one will be my standard. 710 liked it a lot too, and isn't it really about making him happy?

Song by: the Kingston Trio

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chance of a Lifetime

One of my holiday gifts from 710 were tickets to see husband and wife recording artists Don Dixon and Marti Jones in concert. I'm 100% sure I've mentioned them previously.

The duo reside in Canton, OH. They tour here and there, but not frequently. While Dixon regularly releases albums  - solo or in some kind of group - Jones hasn't put out a solo disk for a dozen years.

Jones' Match Game (1986) would rank in the top 3 of any Desert Island Disk list I concocted (though it desperately needs remastering).

When I first saw them live, I was with my friend Jon, in Columbus, on a frigid January evening in 1991. It seems to be a pattern: it was a cold and blustery January night when 710 and I saw them in 1996 and this last Saturday. We've seen them other times, but not in the dead of winter.

We walked in a few minutes after the scheduled start time - as the drive was horrendous with the snow. The usher told us just to enter and go up onto the stage.


As it turns out, though the concert was at the Akron Civic Theater, which holds about 2500 folks, there were only about 50 seats, all up on stage. Only 38 people were actually in attendance (yes, I counted!).  How cool was that?

Since this was Marti's hometown, more than 50% of the folks were relatives, friends and neighbors. She actually stopped after the first song to ask 710 and myself if she knew us. "No - just a big fan" was my reply.

When Jon and I saw the duo, there were a few more folks than at this gig, but not many.

It was only the two of them, no other musicians. For the most part Dixon and Jones traded off some songs and did a few from their duet disk from three years ago. Those songs presented better live than on record. But the set list didn't change up much from the last time I saw them a few years ago.

Marti's voice is still great and her guitar work is pretty good. She did at least one song from each one of her albums (she only has six) and then some from the duet disk with Dixon. Don's songs centered on his last few solo releases - nothing from earlier works except "I Can Hear the River", which he's been closing his sets for decades now.

Best of all, Marti did a new song from a forthcoming album!

A new disk?  That was a welcome surprise. No release date was mentioned, but the song she did was good. Honestly, I am never sure if she's ever going to record again, so I'm always delighted when she does.

She said all the songs were written and music recorded, she just had to put her vocals on them, and the disk would have a Bossa Nova style, which probably would suit her voice. I even liked the tentative title of the disk: You're Not the Bossa Me.

No encores or anything. Dixon came up and talked to us for a few and thanked us for making the trek. I'd met him a few times before (not that I think he'd remember), but insisted we go say hi to Marti. I would have - and even tried. During the concert there was an off the cuff remark on how her great grandfather killed someone and now some lady was cornering her and talking about anything could have provided. There was no end in sight to that conversation, so we just left.

...and took the horrid, snow covered drive back home. I told 710, no matter who the artist might be, no more concerts in Akron in January. Ever.

Just for fun - and I know it's not My Music Monday - I'll leave you with one Marti song and one Dixon song. It should be noted that Marti Jones was my first My Music Monday selection when I started doing that thread.

I was torn on which Marti Jones song to select, but I'm picking one of my favourites, "Lifeboat", because it's a very simple arrangement that shows off her voice. It's from her last disk, My Tidy Doily Dream.  Dixon's production is clear and, again, simple, but with some great nuance.

I had a similar quandary about a Dixon song. He has a lot of really good music, but I'm looking to appeal to the masses here. My readers might know him, unknowingly, as Big Fun - that group in the movie Heathers, who had the song "Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)", which was really just himself and Marti. Or as the producer of R.E.M. and the Smithereen's first two disks.

Anyway, I am taking a stab and doing "One Lonely Question" from his 1989 release EEE. All the harmonies are his, but it's a nice textured and layered performance.

Yes, it was a fun night - almost ruined by Mother Nature.

Song by: Marti Jones

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Music Monday

If one were to look at me, you'd never expect me to be a fan of any of the work or Lynyrd  Skynyrd.

I get that, when any band does an encore, it is funny to yell "Freebird" - no matter who the band is. Once.

That is once in a lifetime, not once per concert.

And of course, by "funny", I mean - not humourous at all. It's annoying as fuck. And I was never a fan of that song in the first place. Ditto with "Sweet Home Alabama", which was just a response to Neil Young's song "Alabama".

I would never really call myself a fan of the band.

Inexplicably, I know many of their songs: "Gimme Three Steps", "Saturday Night Special", "Call Me the Breeze", "What's Your Name" and the two aforementioned songs. Apparently, I am the product of coming of age in the '70s in Cleveland, Ohio. Thank you WMMS.

Possibly even more inexplicably is that I like another one of their songs that hasn't even been mentioned: "That Smell".

The song is a cautionary tale of the excess of drugs and alcohol on a person and 'the smell of death that surrounds you'. The song was co-written by after Ronnie Van Sant wrecked his car after drinking excessively.  Ironically (?) Van Sant died three days after the album's release date in a plane crash.

But I like the medley. I like the vocal arrangement. I even like the guitar work.

It was 1977. There weren't music videos back then - unless you take the Midnight Special or Don Kirshner's Rock Concert clips. This is some fan-based one.  You're listening for the music, not the questionable video retelling.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter Wind

Polar Vortex II continues.

You'll see from the pictures, it's more snow right now than cold.

Oh, don't get me wrong, it's cold, just not as cold. We actually hit 23. Sure, it feels like 10 or less, but that is leaps and bounds warmer than the last few days.

Alas, it is on the way to get back to below zero temps - not including the wind, of course.  That damn Farmer's Almanac was correct about it forecasted for being a colder than normal winter.

Score 1 for Old McDonald.

While I skipped yoga yesterday, I did not skip the gym. The trek there was treacherous. The trek back, not quite as bad, until I got home and unable to get into the drive way on the first three tries. I didn't even go in the house, I just got out of the car and fired up the snow blower.

Just as I was doing that, 710 let Mr. Pete out. I loved watching his problem-solving skills as he looked at the snow drifts that were up to two of two and one half feet high.

He found a place that was only 12-15" high and bound over them so he could pooh.  I didn't capture that on video (the bounding or the pooh'ing), but I did catch him coming back .

And then I got to clear him a path - so you can see how deep some of the snow was. The poor little man is only 15" tall himself.

I was feeling pretty good about clearing the driveway. Shortly after that happened, the sun came out. And then it got dark. No sooner were the words, "it looks like it could snow again' out of my mouth when this happened......

...and it looked a lot worse in person than captured on video.

Since I'm pre-drafting this and won't have a chance to update, I'm not 100% sure we'll make it to an event in Akron. I hope we do, but if not, I'm ok sticking at home on a night like this.

Yoga this morning is still up in the air.

Song by: Patty Larkin

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Come a Little Bit Closer

Since Petey Porn was skipped last week, I'm back.  He's back.

Because of the bitter cold, he's been very housebound. There are no walks for him - though he wants one. But I freeze out there, I can't tell how he's processing the cold, so not taking the chance. As it seems, he runs out and back in after doing what he needs too. Once in a while he'll roam a little but not for long.

And while I love him, I don't really want to carry him a half-mile home if he finds he can't make it back. We're making the best of it.

It gets colder next week, so it might be a while before he gets a full walk(s) in.

No doubt, my favourite from this week's photo collection. The chair is no longer 710's. It now rightfully belongs to Petey. 

Petey resting his head on my leg while I work is worth $1,000.000.000.  

Brother and sister cuddle time. 

At the ready. There are treats to be had. 

Song by: Fleetwood Mac

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tumbling Dice

Another day, another food entry.

I swear I'm not turning this into a food blog. There are those better than myself for that.

We still have had meat loaf left over and I wasn't going to make mashed-taters again. But I still had three pounds of Yukon golds to use up.

What to do? What to do?

Time to play around and see what I can make of them - that's what.  To be fair, I didn't use all the potatoes - maybe three or four medium ones.

So here we go:

4 cups - diced potatoes
3T - olive oil
2t - paprika
1/2t - salt
1/2t - garlic powder
1t - pepper
4oz  - grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all those ingredients into a baking dish - though hold some of the cheese for topping afterwards.

With a cooks best tool - clean hands - mix the contents together.

Place dish into a 425 degree pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes, taking out every 10-15 minutes to toss the potatoes. 

Top with rest of the cheese when it comes out of the oven. 

Dish up and serve. 

They were pretty good, not great, though 710 really liked them. It was a welcome change from mashed, but I don't know soon I'd go way out of my way to make them again. I'm sure there are 1,001 potato dishes to make - so I'll keep plugging away.

Maybe my sometimes Spin instructor, Andy, is on to something. He doesn't like any potatoes. He thinks they have zero taste and are just bad for you. It is true that I do like them covered in cheese, sour cream and chives....maybe some bacon. Maybe the potato is just there to hold all that stuff on to something.

Song by: the Rolling Stones

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Another Polar Vortex. Another opportunity to make soup. Vegetable this time.

I normally don't like most veggie soups. Over cooked green beans aren't appetizing to me. Or any kind of bean for that matter. I was going to keep it simple but tasty, and I think I achieved that.

You would think after the Great Vegetable Disaster of '12, I would stay away from anything like this, but I'm a brave soul. ...and Peter did not provide the recipe, so I felt fairly safe to dip my toes back into the water.

Prep time almost equals cook time - as there is some chopping to do. Not tons, but there is slicing and dicing. Ok - maybe only dicing. It's still one of the easiest preps ever.

Since there is no meat to cook, and no emersion blending, this was one of the quickest soups I have made.

2 T vegetable oil
2 medium onions - chopped
2 carrots - halved length wised - chopped (1/2" segments)
2 celery stalks - chopped (1/2" segments)
4 cloves garlic - minced
1 leek - chopped (white part only)
1lb potatoes - chopped (1/2" segments)
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1 1/2 quarts vegetable stock
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1T tomato paste
1 1/4 t salt

Heat the oil and add garlic. Before it has a chance to brown, add onions, leeks, celery and carrots. Cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat until tender.

Add stock, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, corn and potatoes. Bring to a boil.

Take down heat to a simmer, cover partially and cook for 20 minutes.  Serve.

We plated it up (or bowled, as the case may be) - along with a toasted cheese sandwich and it made for a great meal on a cold cold night. I did shred a little parmesan over the soup - but I'm not sure it was needed. 

I'm guessing it serves 6-8. So if you're making it for fewer or don't want to store and serve later, I would suggest cutting the recipe in half.

But I quite enjoyed it and more importantly, so did 710.

Song by: Radiohead

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Shortly before xmas, Blobby had a fight with his razor - and lost.

It wasn't a fair fight, I was blind-sided. The damn double bladed bastard was creeping around in the dark of my gym bag when I reached in to pull out my iPod Shuffle. I had two very nice and what I though to be quite deep double-bladed cuts on my hand. Ones that you could see quite clearly once the blood was washed away.

Fool me once.

"Santa", taking pity on such a poor soul, put a razor holder under the tree - and it had my name on it. If only that poor soul had taken it out of the package, but his razor in it and then slipped the entire contents into his gym bag.

If only.

Fool me twice happened yesterday.

After a solid leg workout and then yoga, it was time to shower. My razor was already in my locker, so I can't blame Hermione's bottomless beaded gym bag from hiding the razor. Nope it was right there for all to see. All but one.

Because of the massive blood loss, things are hazy now. I don't know how I grabbed for my towel and razor, but it's safe to say, once again, the razor won.  Big time.

It's safe to say I felt the pain before I knew anything had happened. I knew I cut myself and worse than last time, but that's it. I had a chance to look at the finger before the blood appeared - and part of my finger nail was gone and I cut behind where that had once been. Ripped right off my body.

The above picture does not do the damage justice. I could not get the iPhone to focus on the finger. It kept wanting to focus on whatever was past the finger. Bullocks.

I should mention, at this point at the gym, I was buck-ass nekkid.  I should mention, at this point in the gym, I "might have" dropped an f-bomb loud enough for the weight room to hear.

The poor Asian kid sitting on a bench a few feet away from me, snapped his head up at the sound of my vulgar language. He was probably trying to translate while understanding the severity of my tone and putting it all together.

By this time there was blood. Lots and lots and lots of blood. As gross as it sounds, I put my finger in my mouth to minimize the Amityville Horror scene. And oddly enough, I didn't want to get the white gym towel all soaked in blood, so I didn't use it to put pressure on the wound.

But I had to figure out how to get a band-aid from the front desk, while wearing nothing and knowing getting clothes back on would mean not only massive blood loss, but stained stained clothes.

Ruckiry (not Jon's boss), a guy I kind of / sort of know from working out was about to go out onto the floor. I axed Bruno (hand to g-d, that is his name) if he could go get me a band-aid - as I stood there naked before him. He was a prince and came back with two. By now, the blood was covering most of my hand, no matter what I did.

I thanked Bruno (I love that name - though I only heard of it in porn star naming rights and from a German Shepard who lived next door to us. Oh and Bruno Mars.) profusely, as others just stood around - including gym staff - and I sauntered off to the sink to wash my hand.

I applied pressure with tissues to no avail. I thought, "fuck it". I dressed the wound and went off to shower, thinking I could just make it home for antibiotic cream and new Curad. Even covered. the blood soaked through the adhesive. Even covered, the hot water made me whimper in pain.

My discomfort was little compared to the guy across from me in the shower who was seemingly very very shy. I would find out in a minute when he did turn around to see his peen encased in a chastity device. I kid you not. I wasn't really looking, but it was hard not to notice.

It's fair to say I've seen just about everything at this gym now - except actual sex.  ...and lord knows this guy wasn't having it.

Clearly he got over his shyness to a point and just walked out into the common area not covering himself up one little bit. At least, for a moment, it stopped me thinking about my finger. Apparently in the shower, I didn't even notice the big pad lock around his neck. I saw that as he was blow drying his hair!


Anyways, I went through two band-aids before the bleeding slowed down. I washed the cut (again), applied ointment and redressed the cut. I've seem to have clotted, though I don't see a Downward Facing Dog in my near future, as it will just open up the wound. I should be able to lift.

Here's another iffy pic for you.

The Apple device has been trained to focus on furry animals instead. Again, it would not focus on the finger for you to see the chunk taken out of my nail and finger.

The bandage makes it hard to use the touchpad on my Mac. I really don't know how amputees do it! I'm wondering if I'll automatically get my handicapped hang-tag just sent to me or if I'll have to go apply for it.

Oh the humanity!!!!

...and it might go without saying. The razor and its case are now in my gym bag, for safety!

Song by: Foo Fighters

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Meat is Murder

Ok, I have no songs with 'potato' in the title. And nothing with 'meatloaf', except for the artist, Mr. Loaf.

What's a boy to do??

Today is our 29th anniversary. Unimaginable, but it is.

I don't know we're doing anything today to celebrate. Work hasn't been so kind in terms of timing for us, so it might have to wait till the weekend. On the other hand, we might go out and down a few and let someone make us dinner.

Last night I made us dinner. Welllllll....kind of. My mom helped.

I'm good at making meat loaf - I just don't usually have to. I would say, 3-4 times a year, my mother sends me home from Sunday dinner with a pre-made loaf that I just need to finish and throw in the oven.

What I've never done is make mashed potatoes - which are kind of a standard side for meat loaf.

I know it sounds crazy, but they are not my favourite of potato dishes. Not even in the top 10. They're better if they're loaded with garlic, cheese or cheese. Yes, I said cheese twice.

Meat loaf and mashed potatoes are one of 710's favourite meals. Since he was having an iffy week (yes, I know it was only Monday), I opted to throw the meat loaf in the oven and make mashed potatoes.

Back in the day, my boss would wring her hands at holiday time at making these potatoes successfully. She'd try adding sour cream, or cream cheese. She'd use mixers, ricers, etc.....all in search of the perfect dish.

I'm blanking on if she ever got there.  Me? I wasn't that particular - while I didn't cook back then, it didn't seem that daunting now.  ....and it wasn't.

Three yukon gold potatoes. Peeled and quartered.  1/4 tsp of salt on them and then cover in cold water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. 

Warm 3 tsp of heavy cream and 2 tsp of butter (unsalted). 

Dump drained potatoes into a bowl. Add cream/butter mixture. Use a potato masher. It doesn't take brute strength to mash them. I also used a spoon to mix them to smooth them a little.  You needed to add salt and pepper - and taste them. It took way more salt than I would ever normally use. 

We also added some grated parmesan. I don't think it was enough - I didn't really taste it. 

710 doesn't mind them a little rustic and kind of was surprised I peeled them. He'd have been fine with the skins remaining. So being super-smooth wasn't an issue. 

While I waited for 710 to get home, I just kept the potatoes warm over a double boiler. Thanks for the tip Ina!!

Here's the plated meal. They were good. 710 liked them better than I did, but as I said, they're not a must-have for me. 

I think I'll email my ex-boss and tell her how easy they were to make, though she's probably forgotten her years-long ordeal on trying to make the perfect potato. 

Song by: the Smiths

Monday, January 20, 2014

My Music Monday

I'm not a big jazz fan. I am sure I've mentioned that before in other My Music Monday posts.

I do own some, including a few Duke Ellington cds. I do not own anything where he plays "Jeep's Blues".

The song was featured prominently in the movie American Hustle. I find it incredibly cool - and it could almost - almost - make me search out additional music like this.

If I drank scotch, it would be the type of song to kick back in a dimly lit room, nurse some hard liquor and just enjoy the mood.

In the movie, you can see Christian Bale's character get into the groove - and for good reason. Ellington and his orchestra pull off the song flawlessly. Since the movie opens with the song - and uses it again a short while later - it really sets the mood.

I'm diggin' it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Oh well - I have my third ticket. Speeding ticket, that is.

Three tickets in five years.  Or three tickets in 34 years, depending on how you view it. Yes, I never got a speeding ticket in the first 29 years of driving.

44 in a 35. I won't know the damage is for a few days. They'll post the ticket on the city site and I'll find out how much I owe. Last time it was $150.

The officer asked if there was any reason I might have been traveling that fast. I didn't have a good fake reason. Needed to poop really bad? Thought it was a 45mph zone? Headed to the hospital?

I still have my hospital ID badges. In theory I could use them to say I was heading to the hospital and the rumour out there is the po-po let off the hook for that. I suppose I could just leave those IDs in my car "in case". My friend Jeremy did that, but they followed him down to the hospital to make sure that is where he was going. He wasn't - but he made the trek, for show.

And for the record, the cop wasn't even remotely hot. Gay male porn has lied to us......again. I've heard.

Song by: Big Audio Dynamite

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Room with a View

We interrupt this normal Petey Porn day for......well, just another post.

While traveling this week, I got no new shots of the precious pooch. Sure, I could pull back old ones I had not used, but then I thought, "if I didn't use them the first time, they couldn't have been that good.".

So, we'll just take a doggie break. Your eyes can't handle that much cuteness anyways.

But I can tell you a travel story.

I was up just a little northwest of Detroit this week. But you knew that.

On the way home, the weather took a turn for the worst. Lots of snow, but blowing, not sticking. White out situations on the freeway, which just sucked. And it was frigid. Enough to ice over the front of my car so those sensors that tell me if I'm too close to anyone wouldn't work. So there's a design flaw!

After witnessing a multi-multi-car accident in my rearview mirror (which I still attest that I did not cause!) I was a little shaken and quite tense driving in those conditions. As it turns out the town I spent five of my formidable years, Sylvania, OH, was coming up in 15 miles. I opted to get off there for a look-see. I also had to poop.

The main drag, Monroe St., looked quite the same. Maybe a little dumpier.

The cemetery that I thought was both cool and freaky at the same time was still in place and it didn't look nearly as foreboding as when I was 3-4 years old. Go figure.

There was the new updated fire station - exactly where the old one was - that would freak me out as a child. For some reason I was terrified of sirens. I would run downstairs howling and my parents could not figure out why - until they heard sirens, but long after my keen ears could pick up on their sound.

Then there was Sautters. The only other grocery in town - the other being FoodTown. We weren't FoodTown kind of people - not that I know what kind of people who shopped there. Still I was amazed that an independent grocer still existed 40+ years after we left that town.

Now mind you, Sautters was right behind the fire station. My mother used to leave me and one of my sisters in the car - alone! - while she shopped sometimes. It was the '60's - you could leave kids under 5 in a car by themselves. Of course she smoked while we were in the car too and we were allowed to stand on the front seat as they drove so.......

Now it doesn't take a genius to figure out that now and again those fire trucks would respond to emergency calls while my mother was in the store, all their noises blaring. I would be apoplectic when she showed back up. Though to be fair, if she heard them while in the store, she knew to high-tail it to the car.

As I say all these things out loud, I wonder if my parents loved me at all. Ever.

I did stop by "our" house. Well, I drove by - I didn't stop, except to take the picture. And even that was mostly to send to my parents. My mother lamented the tree they planted in front is gone. I just remember the hole they dug that my oldest sister pushed me in that I could not get out of. Bitch.

Oddly, I posted this picture on FB and a former co-worker used to babysit three doors away and shared a picture of some kid she was playing with outside with "our" house in the background. Another ex co-worker lived around the corner when she was growing up - years after we were gone. Weird.

Walt was right - it is a small world after all.

But this unassuming house was neighborhood celebrity.

Oh sure, it looks unassuming but legend had it that the Romper Room lady lived there.

Don't ask me which one. I thought there was only one until Wikipedia told me otherwise. All I know is that bitch, whomever she might be, never said my name when using the Magic Mirror. I was right there! How could she not see me????

I also thought Mr. Do Bee and Mr. Don't Bee were a little too judgmental.

It was ok for a few minute stop. I got pictures for my parents who seemed to appreciate them.

And for the record, I stopped at the country club my parents belonged to and did my bidness. I figured they paid a lot of dues at the time - what was wrong with one of their kids using their bathroom.  44 years later.

Song by:  Marti Jones & Don Dixon

Friday, January 17, 2014

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there! 

While born in Memphis, Rosanne Cash was raised in Southern California. Only upon marrying Rodney Crowell did she live in Tennessee - and even then only for nine years.

But Cash is big on her heritage, and while she made some country records, it was more the beginning of "new" country and not the traditional music of Wynette, Lynn or Wells. Still Cash clearly has 11 number one Country singles - though she will tell you she rebelled against Nashville.

Yet with her album, the List and her newly released the River & the Thread (her first disk of original music in over seven years) she has more than dipped her toe into the waters of Country music - albeit more as an homage than to try to get back into that genre. Both albums were exploring her father's history to a certain degree, but on different levels.

The thread, of which Cash speaks is a literal one of a sewing tutorial she took in Arkansas, but it is clearly a metaphorical one of her lineage to the South and the music that took her father from Arkansas to Mississippi to Tennessee. All of those types of music are played out here in one way or another.

Cash has been covering Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe" in concert for the last few years and her admiration of that great artist clearly shows in two songs: "A Feather's Not a Bird" and the excellent "the Long Way Home" has more than a few tinges of Gentry's musical style. It works.

But I hear a little Dusty in Memphis in this disk as well ("Your Southern Heart"). It sticks with the theme of the disk.

The disk, overall, has strong material: I really like "Modern Blue", which is clearly the most 'rocking' song on the disk. But I'm completely loving "World of Strange Design", "Tell Heaven" and "Money Road" (a reference to Robert Johnson) a lot. It's very different for her, though a lot of this disk could be qualified that way.

There are songs that are good - "Etta's Tune" about Johnny Cash's bass player, Marshall Grant and his wife. And I like "Sunken Lands", but there are major parts that are structurally reminiscent of her own "Three Steps Down" from Rules of Travel.

"When the Master Calls the Roll". I find it most interesting she wrote it with her current and ex-husbands.

I'm not a fan of "Night School" or "50,000 Watts". "Biloxi" is ok, but nothing outstanding. It is one of three "additional" songs on the deluxe edition. My problem with "additional" songs is that usually they're not strong enough for the standard release, so immediately they fall into a lesser category - perceived or real.

Still, for me the centerpiece is really "the Long Way Home".  The bass. The strings and their arrangement (very Bobbie Gentry!). The vocal arrangement and phrasing has me repeating the song over and over and over.

I love that Cash's voice is as strong, if not stronger, than when she started her career. At the very least she is more self-assured. I keep coming back to a line in that song that perfectly summarizes this disk and Cash's thread to not only her family but to a possible nod her early career as a Country artist: "you thought left it all behind. you thought you'd up and gone. all you did was figure out how to take the long way home".

I also love that the cover art was a picture her husband, John Leventhal, took at the Tallahatchie Bridge....with his iPhone!!! Yes, there has been some "work" done to it since, but it fits perfectly.

I'm struck by Leventhal's production, which can vary from album to album (or even song to song), but he strings his great thread through this disk as well. The arrangements and the music (both of which he did - Cash did the lyrics) are well done.

There is a beef, of course. Purchased through iTunes, there is no digital booklet. I know there was one created and even talked about the extensive notes, so it's not like they had to create one for Apple. It's just not available and that totally sucks.

I know it is early in the year, but this could easily be a contender for my album pick of 2014.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Detroit 442

It's not often I drive for something work-related anymore, yet here I was - heading to Michigan.

I'd say to Detroit, but technically I was a little north west of city. It's not the bankrupt, depressing part of town, but actually much more of a high scale area - in theory.

My big brother in my fraternity was from Bloomfield Hills and he went on and on about how nice it is. Granted, the Target looked nice, but where I was going to looked just kind of so-so. I'm sure I wasn't in the "right" part of town.

I'm not so sure what is so "pure" about Michigan, but it seems to be in the welcome sign and any number of license plates.

...license plates for American cars.

You know me, here I was after crossing the border and soon I noticed I was the only foreign car on the road. In the 80-90 minutes into Michigan, I can count on two hands (and I may have actually done that) the number of non-American cars that I saw. And four were Honda Accords, which are built in Marysville, OH....but since they are Japanese, I counted them as foreign.

And most of those non-domestics were in Bloomfield Hills - again, a tonier 'hood. But until you got up there, it was all the Big 3.

It was almost like when Morty and I stopped at a McDonald's in Meredian, MS. We pulled into the lot, mine being the only Toyota....mine being the only Japanese car. With two homos in it. One of us wearing a Star of David earring (um, that'd be me).

I guess the need to serve a combo meal was greater than killing us both, but I wondered if we'd get out alive. I kind of felt that same pang yesterday.

And I didn't see Slim Shady, the real Shady - or the imitating ones either for that matter....but I passed his street.

Song by: Blondie

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

App of the Month

So how did everyone like December's App of the Month?  Did you download and reap all the crappy free gifts iTunes had to offer?

I'm assuming we all got the same questionable games, Kings of Leon and Lordes songs? I think the only thing of value was the movie, Hugo, which I had already seen, but still we downloaded it. Well 710 did. We didn't see a huge need to have two copies of that on our devices.

Eh - it was free, as are most of my apps, so you get what you pay for. Like this month.  ...and it's brought to you via my cousin, David. I mean, he didn't create it, just pointed me in the right direction by showing it to me on his phone.

Om Finder is for that person who might be on the road and still wants to go to a yoga class.

The om-ega logo (or That Girl hair do) is really the logo for lululemon, as they do sponsor or control the app, but that's ok.

I hear from some, that lulu can be a bit invasive and even cult-like. I don't see it, but I'm a guy. We take their free community yoga classes and now and again I purchase a shirt or pair of shorts. I will say the women who go into the store just pour over the clothes which seem to change (for them) each week - or they always find the 'new' thing.

lulu doesn't really sell anything on this app - including yoga classes for studios. They just list them based on your current location and the great thing is, since it knows the date / time you're viewing, it shows the immediate upcoming classes, studios and links.

Sure you can change the date / time if you're not looking for "right now", and it's easy to do. Ditto with picking studios and instructors.

I'm using my current "other" studio to highlight here. It tells me the class and teacher coming up.

There's also a tab on the teachers, if you so desire to look at their bios. This is great if you're traveling and want to see what you're getting yourself into and it's an unknown studio / location / teacher. 

The 'info' button is just that - directions, maps, website and contact information. 

For the traveling yogi, it's a good app to have. Many studios have their own apps, but they are limited to that one studio. There are also yoga instruction apps as well, but I haven't looked into them that much. Maybe another month. 

As for this one, it's a good one.   ...and yes, it's free.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Do the Dark

I am a big fan of Buffalo.

Not as much the town, football team or the animal. But the food.  Wings. Chicken, etc.

So the other day I was thinking I like chicken salad, so I says to myself, I says: why not buffalo chicken salad?

Why not indeed!

Easy enough and there are a ton of recipes out there for it, though I'd say half would be for buffalo chicken on a bed of lettuce and half being chicken salad with hot sauce. I was going after the latter.

Some recipes used the hot sauce to be mixed with either cream cheese, ranch dressing, blue cheese or yogurt. Don't ask me why, but I opted for the latter - it seemed like the lower caloric thing to do.

First off, I opted to oven roast the chicken - thigh meat, actually, since I am taking a bold stand against the all-powerful Skinless / Boneless Chicken Breast Lobby.

I roasted because I didn't feel like pan cooking or cold poaching it. I'm lazy that way. I chose dark meat because it's cheaper (yeah, I know) and by the time you add yogurt and hot sauce to chopped chicken, would you really taste a difference?

And actually I didn't taste that much difference at all - if any.

The pieces may have been too thin for the high heat and the length of time I roasted it - so watch that if you roast the meat.

The sauce is easy enough:  Hot Sauce. Yogurt. Garlic Powder. Salt and Pepper. Mix together.

Add chopped chicken and celery to the sauce*. Some recipes call for onion and / or cilantro. I didn't have green onion, so I opted not to use a white one. I'm never adding cilantro to anything. Ever.

Another thing to look out for: the ratio of sauce to chicken. I wish they'd just say 'x' lbs of chicken as opposed to 2 cups. Meat isn't usually (ok, EVER!!) measured and sold / priced by the cup.

* I probably had too much sauce (or not enough chicken). Or I could have added it to the chicken instead of the other way around.

Here's what I used and any notes for changes:

1lb chicken
2 stalks of celery
1/2 cup of Frank's Red Hot (if you don't like it too hot, go for 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup of plain, non-fat, yogurt
1 tsp - salt
1/2 tsp - pepper
1/2 tsp - garlic powder

The flavour was actually pretty good. I didn't eat it right after making it. I put it in the refrigerator and had it for lunch yesterday - though I did throw the portion I was going to use into the microwave for 30 seconds to take the chill off.

Now, I like spicy food, but after half a sandwich my head was sweating - not just my forehead, but all of it. And my lips were afire. This is why I say you might cut back on the hot sauce, though I think had I had another quarter to half pound of chicken, things would have been right with the world.

As it was, I ended up draining off any sauce from the container just so the rest wouldn't marinate in heat. But like I said, the flavour was really good. 710 would hate it, but I like it.  ...and I kind of made it for my lunches, not his.

But I suppose this is why America's Test Kitchen makes things 40-50 times, to get it just right. I'll make it again. I'll play with it some more, but considering it was my first time out, I think it went well.


Song by: Blondie