Thursday, July 31, 2008

Peaches En Regalia

Peach Season at Fartwood Manor has been over for about two weeks now. All that's left are a few half-eaten, sun-dried fruits in the high branches. I haven't had to shovel the fallen fruit from the path for a while. Yay! I guess that means the Evil Squirrel will now be shifting his attention and appetite to the avocados.
Sad to say, but Mr. Peach Tree might be on the way out. It is an old tree, and every year we have to prune more and more branches. Two things might hasten its demise: Dale wants to feature a spooky tree in this year's yard haunt (he can use the branches from the tree) and the fact that the falling fruit really messes up the deck. Since the deck is scheduled to be "upgraded" soon (read: radio shack, man-hut, whatever), eliminating the fruit would be a good idea. I'm still bummed about the idea of taking it out, but I think its usefulness is over. The fact that the fruit is so fragile makes it hard to do anything with it. The fruit browns almost immediately after cutting, so I have to give it a dose of some crushed up vitamin C tablets if I want to use it in a recipe.
This year I made muffins, gelato and this wonderful shortcake.

After I decided on the title of this post, I figured I ought to include a link to its inspiration, Frank Zappa. I had been, at one time, a rather devout Zappa aficionado, and "Peaches En Regalia" was one of my favorite songs. Before I moved here, it was Zappa's music that helped to form my ideas of what Southern California was all about. Between listening to Zappa and reading Jack Smith's column reprinted in the "Green Sheet" of the old Milwaukee Journal I learned all about life in LA-LA Land.
Let's fire up the "way back machine", shall we?? .....when I saw Zappa and the Mothers of Invention in 1972 (or thereabouts).....the opening act was Fleetwood Mac. WOW.
I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did. The quality is a little spotty, but it definitely shows the master in control. I am embarrassed to say (well maybe not, actually, since vinyl seems to be a badge of honor these days) that my Zappa collection is all vinyl. (I am hoping this is what will fund my retirement--yaright.) I'm thinking I need to take a little trip down the iTunes memory lane. Hmmm...I DO have "Peaches" by The Stranglers digital though.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What's In A Name?

I'm not a big baseball fan to begin with, but HOLY COW, how did I miss hearing about this one?!?!
Or maybe I'm just a freak with a perverted mind, and no one else thinks it is weird.

Yesterday, as we were eating dinner, I turned on the Brewers-Cubs game, only because this is a critical stand for the two teams who are 1-2 in their division. I thought I would be seeing some good action. Not so much.

It was the bottom of the fifth inning and things were just about to go from bad to worse for the Brew Crew. So then I see the back of a Cub's jersey as he takes his at-bat. At first I thought it was a joke jersey, but no, it was a real player. And his name is FUKUDOME. No, I am not making this up, it is a real guy!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shake N Bake for Lunch

So had I just picked up some lunch at the local terikayi place. I was in the left turn pocket waiting for the arrow and my car started to shudder rather violently. My first thought was that something was wrong with the engine and it was going to blow up or something. The shaking got worse. Then I thought the car in back of me had hit me, but no, it was far back.
Holy Crap! Earthquake!
I am not a person prone to panic, but between the thoughts of my car blowing up and then realizing it was an earthquake and ohmygodheriaminthemiddleofthestreetwithallthewiresandthegasstationandaiiieeee!
As the light turned green, I peeled out and drove the 2 blocks to work. People were standing around in the parking lot. My co-workers were all a-twitter. I was shaking.
Initial reports are 5.8 -- not too shabby. Nothing is amiss, so that is good.

Now I have to go look for Mr. Whiskers!

Light Show

I finally got around to upgrading the light fixtures in the kitchen and dining area. We're going for the retro look and I was happy when I saw these at Rejuvenation.
Since I am all about saving the planet and stuff, I bought two CFL "bulbs" to use, but I now have learned that CFL's don't work with dimmers. The dining area is on a dimmer, so I had to use a regular bulb in there and now I have an extra one for when the kitchen bulb burns out in like 15 years or so.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Herb Oil

A few weeks ago, when I was prepping for my little party, I made up a batch of herb oil. It is such a no-brainer, yet it is something I seldom do. That day, I was reminded of how useful and good it is. The original reason I made
it for the party was to brush on baguette slices that I toasted in the oven to use for bruschetta. My flavor palette for that dinner was Mediterranean-y, so I ended up using the oil for a few other things on the menu as well.

Like I said, it is really easy......

in a bowl:

a few cloves of peeled garlic, smashed
a mixture of sprigs of whatever herbs you have around--
I really like rosemary, oregano, thyme
black peppercorns, cracked
a few shakes of red chile flakes

pour some olive oil over the top of it all and let it sit--30 minutes should do it, but you can let it sit for a couple of days, then decant it into a jar for use in the future.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Weekend Wokking

Tomato Bread Salad
Inspired by Eating Well


2T lemon juice
2T olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped fine


2 cups ciabatta bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cups cubed tomatoes
handful of sliced red onion
1/2 handful basil chiffonade
Salt and pepper


Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing on the salad to moisten, then let it sit for a few minutes so the bread soaks up the dressing a bit.

1 serving

I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks celebrating the
multiple ways we can cook one ingredient.

The host this month is Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok.

If you would like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who's hosting next month.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Don't Be A Dumbass #2

OK....two things:
first, this blog isn't intended as a news aggregator and second,
the "Don't Be A Dumbass" feature is only supposed to be a "once in a while" thing.(More love, less hate.)

FRIDAY, July 25, 2008, 11:49 a.m.
By Crocker Stephenson (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Man charged with shooting lawn mower

Keith Walendowski is charged with shooting a lawn mower.
A 57-year-old south side man, who might have been struggling with a hangover, is charged today with shooting his lawn mower with a sawed-off shotgun.

"I'll tell you the truth," a criminal complaint quotes an apparently inebriated Keith Walendowski. "I got pissed because my lawn mower wouldn't start, so I got my shotgun and shot it.

"I can do that. It's my lawn mower and my yard, so I can shoot it if I want," Walendowski told police.

Ignorance of the law, however, is not a legal defense.

Walendowski is charged with a felony count of possessing a short-barreled shotgun and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct while armed. If convicted of both charges, he faces up to six years and nine months in prison.

The shooting occurred Wednesday at a home Walendowski shares with his mother in the 3500 block of S. Austin St.

According to the complaint, Walendowski had been drinking all morning. Around 9:30 a.m., he attempted to start his 21-inch Lawn-Boy - unsuccessfully.

After shooting the mower, he went in his basement, where he was arrested by police, the complaint says.

Police recovered the shotgun, shells, a handgun, rounds for the handgun and a stun gun.

Dick Wagner of Wagner's Garden Mart, 6075 N. Green Bay Ave., said shooting the mower didn't help Walendowski's odds of getting it repaired.

"Anything not factory recommended would void the warranty," he said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Surfeit of Shakespeare

The South Bay gets its dose of Shakespeare this week. Or overdose. I really wish these events could be spread out just a teeny bit, even by a month would be cool. Three plays in a week requires a little bit of determination.

First up is what I like to call "Shakespeare At The Dump". Technically, the dump has been reclaimed and is now the South Coast Botanic Garden. This is the Shakespeare Festival/LA's production of "The Taming of the Shrew". What they like to do is set a play in a more modern setting. "Shrew" is set in contemporary Los Angeles with a couple on a road trip. It starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday, the 27th. Bring a picnic and a lawn chair or blanket. Tickets are $25 at the door.

Next up is Shakespeare By The Sea with two shows at Torrance Wilson Park. Friday night is "Antony and Cleopatra" and Saturday night is "A Midsummer Night's Dream". This one is free and again bring your lawn chair, etc.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Don't Be A Dumbass

This blog is usually all about the love. When I was envisioning what I wanted the blog to be, I knew I didn't want it to be mean and filled with libelous diatribes. That being said though, its not like I don't have anything to rant about...because I do.
First in an infrequent series I will call.....DON'T BE A DUMBASS.

Two things recently came across my radar...

GHETTO LATTES. This is when someone goes to a coffee shop and orders plain espresso shots over ice and then fills up the cup with the free milk on the condiment bar in order to avoid having to pay for a full-on iced latte. (About twice the price as just plain shots). Come on...if you have a problem with paying for it, just stay home and have some Taster's Choice OK? Don't be a dumbass.

HANDS-FREE CELL PHONE LAW This one just started here in California. No more holding the phone with one hand while trying to navigate your 2,000 pound gasoline bomb on the 405 with the other hand. You gotta have a "hands-free device" now. I have to say though, that I haven't seen too many violators and have actually noticed a slight improvement in the driving skills of my fellow commuters.
But now everyone's got one of these Bluetooths (teeths?) coming out the side of their head and they wander around looking like schitzoids talking to themselves. Yapping in the grocery store, yapping walking down the street, at the mall. Everywhere. Just stop. I don't want to hear you.
Don't be a dumbass.

Ok, that's it. I feel better already.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 20, 1969

Today marks the thrity-ninth anniversary since man first walked on the moon's surface.
I remember this as a time of big excitement. The space program was of great interest in my family.
The Apollo 11 moon landing happened to coincide with our summer vacation plans. We were tent campers--none of this RV stuff for us! Because we didn't want to miss the event, we brought along our small table-top tee-vee. That necessitated us having to pay a whole buck-fifty extra to have a "hook-up" at Potawatomi State Park in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Earlier in the day, we had visited Lambeau Field in Green Bay in hopes of seeing some training camp. I guess things weren't happening that day, because we didn't see anything. My sister and I had made autograph books and everything!
We set up our camp and watched the landing. It was pretty cool to see.
I know there's the ISS going on now, but it just seems a shame to me that there's not all that gee-wiz excitement any more about the space program, such as it is (or isn't). A couple years ago, Buzz Aldrin was doing a book signing at Borders that we went to. It was really freaky to see him and realize that HE WALKED ON THE FUCKING MOON!

(Dale's shirt)
Dale is a space program kid. His dad worked on the Apollo program designing ALSEP--Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package. We saw the mockup of it at The Cosmosphere in Huchinson, Kansas (which weirdly, is also his dad's birthplace). He also "ran into" (literally) Neil Armstrong when he was temping at Aerospace Corp. (Dale, not Neil)
I drive past a Boeing facility (the old Douglas plant in Long Beach) on my way to work. A while back they had a nice billboard facing the freeway with an image of the lunar footprint and a tagline with something about making a "first step" and "quality". It always got me inspired to do a good job that day. (I know, I'm lame!) I have worked on things that are in space, so that's pretty cool. (The billboard is now for Bacardi Rum, so you know how my day goes! J/K!!)
Here's an interesting observation on the demise of the space program.
Last year I saw a cool movie "In The Shadow of the Moon", a documentary on the moonwalkers. Here's my post about it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm A Winner!

Isn't this the coolest?!?!
One of my favorite bloggers, Spatgirl, of Splatgirl Creates ran a contest last week and I was one of the fortunate winners. She wanted to add camera cases to her Etsy product line, so she asked us to send in our camera dimensions and five of us lucky ones got custom cases.
Not only is she a skilled crafter with an awesome design sense, she can cook AND build a house too! So, if you are in the market for a custom messenger bag or MOO-pocket, give Splatgirl a look.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Party Time!

Since our friend Michael was visiting from Dallas this weekend, we had some people over for a little get-together.
One of the appetizers I put out was a little spin on the usual Caprese. I wanted it to be finger food so I put them on picks. After I took the picture I drizzled them with a little olive oil and gave a light dusting of black pepper.

The main course was a herb-crusted steak with an olive and tomato relish. The herbs were just rubbed on the steak and marinated for a bit. Very easy for a lot of flavor. I'll do this again. Those of you who are my loyal readers will also notice the green/wax bean salad that I raved about a few weeks ago. Look back in the archive for the recipe!

On the side I made some grilled vegetables--yellow and green squash, onions, peppers and served them with some whole wheat couscous that I tossed with lemon juice and chopped scallions.

Another side was grilled potatoes tossed with herb oil and parsley. I just pre-cook the potatoes and finish them on the grill.

I grilled off the veg and potatoes earlier in the day and everything else was already prepped, so all I had to do was grill the steak!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bonne Fete Nationale!

Storm the Bastille and all that stuff.

No one beats the French at putting on a parade. They definitely have a great talent for putting on grand spectacles and 14 Juillet is the big one. I would love to be there to see it one day.

Here is a video of the parade down the Champs-Elysees.

This video is of some parachutistes that were a part of the celebration.

This one is how they produce the fireworks and light show at the Tour Eiffel and the surrounding areas for the evening show.

Here's a link to a cool French band I just discovered--Imbecile

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Double Yuck

This is one of the offerings of my neighborhood paleta salesman. He sold it to me with a little hesitation but I insisted. I had such high hopes...I like mango, I like chiles, I like mangos AND chiles together. But this was really yucky. All the flavors seemed really fake--I actually looked to see if it was made with aspartame, it was that bad.
Even though it was a super hot day, I took one bite and said no mas.
It gives me an idea gelato with some chile flakes mixed in.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunday Supper #2

We're trying to include more heart-healthy fish in our diet. But man-o-man, fish is SOOOO expensive! I guess it IS cheaper than a quadruple bypass though. Here's one I like that uses a cheap but tasty fish...mackerel. I got this whole fish for under $4 and it was just right for us two. I also like it because it uses some of the Meyer lemons and oregano that grow in my backyard. The olive "salsa" really makes it sing. The recipe is here

Interesting wrapping for the fish!

The before pic

The after pic

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Brighton Port Authority


Here's a little video treat for today. I was poking around and reading about The Brighton Port Authority, the latest incarnation of my long time faves Simon Thornton and Norman Cook. Fun sounds...and I'm excited they are collaborating with two of my other favorites: David Byrne and Iggy Pop.
The video is intriguing on a couple of different levels. Not only is it a playful, kitschy visual to accompany the song, but it is a well-done comment on censorship. Were you remembering "The June Taylor Dancers" like I was? And those '70s haircuts are pretty snazzy, eh?
Check out BPA's MySpace for two other great songs. I can't wait for a whole album.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day 2008

Thanks again to our friend Jade for the great drawing.

Happy Independence Day To All!

Not much going on today at Fartwood Manor. The big plan for today was for me to clean the fireplace brick. This is the first step in the preparation for the family room fix-up. After that messy part is done, I can paint and then the new floor will be installed. Yippie! Or I might just pick some peaches and do some laundry and call it a day.
Later on I'll grill some burgers for dinner and then we'll mosey off to Wilson Park to watch the fireworks. You can sort of see them from our street, and many people do watch from here, but I like being THERE, laying in the grass with the colorful explosions overhead.

Since this IS Independence Day and I'm feeling all thankful and stuff for the freedoms I enjoy, I thought I could exercise some of those freedoms and share this little cartoon I have. Can you guess when it was drawn? Last week? Last year? How about more than THIRTY years ago? A few weeks ago, Dale was purging some old magazines and other assorted stuff from the mid-Seventies to early-Eighties and we had great fun looking through them. This image was just loose in the box, so I don't know where it came from, but the other side of the page has a photo of Nixon and Ford, so that places it somewhere between October 1973 and August 1974. One of the captions says "Jail to the Chief".
Most of the things depicted are still things that are issues today, though I guess we're not too hepped up anymore on switching to the metric system and the Cold War threats of the Soviets and the H-bomb have been replaced by "evildoers" and "devils" of a different stripe and tactic.
Especially prescient is the exposed breast of The Spirit of Justice that was symbolically covered in 2002 to save us all from "Moral Decline".
I'm not too sure about what the "Canadian Nationalism" was all about, but I'm pretty sure they still don't want to be part of us.
As much as things change, they still stay the same, huh?

Remember MeesterCranky's Flag Etiquette lessons today kids!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Whoooo Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?

I don't even know where to begin on this one. After I got over the initial shocking realization of what it IS, I started thinking about the bigger implications.

Now I love SpongeBob. I actually used to watch it on a daily basis a few years ago. The artwork is what drew me in first. No, I take that back---it was actually Gary, SpongeBob's pet snail. Who meows like a cat. The bizarre-ness of a meowing snail forced be to sit down and watch for a bit...and THEN I realized that the artwork was pretty snazzy. The other thing I like about SpongeBob is if you're having a bad day, just watch a few episodes and voila! your troubles seem to disappear. He's such a happy little guy, always does the right thing.

Now I don't have kids, so I don't know how hard it is to take the rectal temperature of a sick, squirmy, two-year-old. I have probably repressed the memories of my own childhood experience, but I DO remember seeing my sister getting one. I think she just laid there and took it. But I am guessing the average kid, no matter how sick, probably does not dig this procedure.

I imagine the thought behind using SpongeBob was to play to the kid's affection of the character and use it as a tool to get the kid to do something unpleasant. I guess this is the same idea behind the Flintstone vitamins from when I was a kid.
But there is a HUGE difference though between this and a vitamin shaped like a dinosaur.

Is the kid going to go for it just because it is SpongeBob? Or perhaps will the whole thing backfire and traumatize little Susie or Timmy for life--being "violated" by the very thing that brings such joy and happiness? The whole thing seems a little creepy to me. And apparently it plays the theme song when the reading is completed.

I realize that character licensing is where all the money is, but man, they should have thought about this one just a teeeeeny bit longer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

In A Pickle

So I made me some pickles on Sunday. No fancy alchemy, just some simple bread and butter pickles. It seems like it is pickle season at the farmers' market, so I got the idea there.

The cucumbers and onions get tossed with salt.

In the briny bath of goodness.

Ready to eat!

I had some today with my lunch. Delicioso!