Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tweaking History

Why can't I be clever enough to think of this stuff?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vietnamese Pomelo Salad With Shrimp

One of my favorite recipe sources is Wandering Chopsticks' blog. She has tons of recipes for
Vietnamese dishes, as well as Italian, French, and American. The other week she posted a recipe for Goi Buoi Tom--Vietnamese Pomelo Salad With Shrimp. The photos looked so good I just had to try it.
Wow! This was so awesome! I'd never eaten a pomelo before, but I like grapefruit, so I was curious to use it. The pomelo was sitting on the table for a few days before making the dish and it gave off a really nice citrusy aroma. The skin is really thick, the membranes are tough, and the flavor is not as sour as a grapefruit. It just has this nice tang to it. I noticed that her pomelo was white--mine was pink.
Wandering Chopsticks used rau ram--Vietnamese coriander--in her salad; I used mint and cilantro. The nouc mam cham sauce is exactly the same as I make for my steak salad. Since I was out of shallots, I fried up some thin red onion slices. I'd never used fried onions in this way before, and it totally made the dish. Next time, I'm going to try the rau ram.
The salad is so light and fresh tasting--not to mention easy--it is definitely going to be on the menu board at Fartwood Manor.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Abe Vigoda!

I thought you were dead! Turns out old Detective Fish is a very alive 88 years old today!
You can watch on-demand episodes of Barney Miller at my newest favorite place on the Internet: HULU.COM

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We Have A Winner!

Hey....everybody's a winner here! Loyal blog reader Doc Rocks sent me this image the other day. Looks like he hit the Where's The Bubbler jackpot! Sorry, this is Torrance and not LasVegas, and the prizes aren't as nice, so I'll buy you a beer next time I see ya Doc.
This also gives me the opportunity to say THANKS to ALL my readers.  I really appreciate you stopping by to read my nonsense and leave such nice comments.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wild Kingdom

Maybe Torrance has potential as a tourist destination after all! Dale made this sign a few years ago when things were really getting crazy in the back yard. It hangs on the patio with all the other doo-dads. 
I can see it now....something along the lines of those mom-n-pop roadside attractions  that dotted the highways in places like The Everglades in the '40s and '50s: "Feed the wild alligators!", "Land of 10,000 Snakes", "Home of Bubba the Dancing Bear".  I could sell lemonade and cookies. 

There are three more additions to the Wild Animal Park. Right around Christmas we noticed a very pregnant cat was hanging out under our deck. It was super timid, but would come out and eat the food we put out. Then another cat appeared a few days later. We call this one Charlie. When I came home from work about two weeks ago I saw a cat across the street near where the Irish guys live in the corner house. About a half hour later he was on the patio eating the food I had just put out for Charlie and MomCat! This guy is black with white paws and whiskers--I named him Black Irish. So now we have three cats hanging around plus FatCat. 
What's up with all these cats? They are all in really good shape but very timid. I heard that there is an upturn in abandoned animals due to the bad times and foreclosures. I asked the animal control guy if he noticed that happening in Torrance, but he said thankfully no. And also said that there's a limit of 3 animals of one species allowed per household--and that by feeding these strays we are the de-facto owners! Doh! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Destination: Torrance

While we are on the subject of civic boosterism, there is talk that Torrance wants to pump up its image a bit and make a bid as a tourist destination. Or at least as a cheaper place for tourists to stay on their way to actual tourist destinations. The city and chamber of commerce are thinking of establishing a visitor center and convention bureau in hopes of snagging some tourism dollars.

Now, don't get me wrong.....I love Torrance. It is a great place to live. But seriously, there's not all that much here that would appeal to a tourist--at least not as a final destination. No theme park, no movie studio, no sporting venue. I'm a fan of the quirky and the weird when I travel, and Torrance doesn't even have a big ball of twine or giant fiberglass statue to call its own.

Let's see what we have in Torrance that maybe someone else would like to see.......

--Fans of urban planning (and un-planning) might like to check out Old Torrance--the first planned city west of the Mississippi. What's left of it anyway.
--Movie buffs might like to visit the locations of films and tee-vee shows shot in Torrance: Jackie Brown, Bad Santa, Boogie Nights, Buffy, and 90210 to name a few.
--We got a big mall! (with crummy stores)
--Wilson Park is really nice.
--Torrance Beach, all 300 feet of it.
--The Farmers Market is awesome.
--You can play "what's that smell?" at the Mobil Refinery.
--Train buffs would enjoy all the trains passing though town. All the time. With really loud horns.

Torrance--it's on the way to where you're going!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Showing Some MKE Luv

Recently I discovered a really neat-o blog: Accidental Wisconsinite. Blogger Meghan is a transplant from Portland who fell in love with Milwaukee. Portland is a pretty dang cool city itself, so that is saying a lot. She writes about Milwaukee with the zeal of a convert and appears to have a fun and interesting life.
A recent post--I Heart Milwaukee--is actually an entry for a contest by National Geographic's Traveler magazine. The website will be featuring the favorite entries.
The questionnaire is the usual fill in the blanks list of "best place to do X", favorite foods, and points of interest unique to that city. I totally agree with Meghan's picks of the Third Ward, the Art Museum, the magnificent lakefront, farmers markets and all the cool festivals. The best one was "You can tell if someone is from my city if_____". The answer she gave was "....if they are ridiculously nice and can drink you under the table."
Yeah, that pretty much says it all.
Now if they can just do something about that weather........

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tonight--New Simpsons Title Sequence!

Since we're on a Simpsons sort of thang.....Tonight's episode will be in HD (how much def does a 2-dimension show really need?!?!) and will also debut the first change to the title sequence in twenty years.

Also...I'm embarrassed that I hadn't made THIS connection before.......Apu and Manjula had octuplets WAY before octo-mom did!
That was a really good episode, come to think of it!

Happy Birthday Matt!

Today is Matt Groening's birthday. He probably would hate to hear it , but through his "Life in Hell" strip and later "The Simpsons" he's been a huge influence in my life. I started reading reading the Life in Hell strip in 1980 when I moved to SoCal--it was new, I was new....I could totally relate to the angst.
You know the old one...."If I could have dinner with three famous people....who would they be?" For me, Matt would be one. The other two people would be Julia Child and Brett Favre, although I think I might be on the lookout for a replacement for Brett.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bonus Valentine Post

My Hunny, AKA Facestabbio, surprised me this morning with a Singing Valentine! He's so sweet!
Our friend John is in a harmony singing group that does (among other things) singing valentines. 
If you are in the South Bay and need some singers...let me know and I'll hook you up!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine's Day!

I got these cute retro Valentine's cards at Urban Outfitters. They are just like the ones I had in grade school. 
The best.Valentine's.Card.ever award goes to this gem from The Simpsons. Lisa gave Ralph Wiggum this card and he thought she really liked him. Broke the kid's heart.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Friday the 13th!

Break a mirror under a ladder today.

Beginning last week, we've been having some big winter storms. The basin gets rain and the higher elevations get snow. This photo was taken in Huntington Beach on Monday after the storm passed. That storm brought the snow level down to 4000 feet. Mt. SanAntonio, AKA Mt. Baldy, the tallest peak in the photo is just a hair over 10,000 feet. (Yes, I have been to the top.)
Tomorrow another cold storm moves in and is expected to hang around until Monday.
I think my weekend plans will include some soup making!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


So...the other day I got this notice attached to my grocery receipt. Sure enough, I checked the cupboard and there was ONE bar left from the pack of six I bought a few weeks ago.  I already threw the box out, so it wasn't like I could go get my money back. 
Since I already ate five bars without a problem, I spun the wheel and had half a bar before going to the gym this morning. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Healthy and Yummy Too

In the spirit of trying to make healthier meals, I came up with this mixed plate the other day. I scored some health points on the veggies, but I did use butter on the carrots and squash. 

Sauteed kale and garlic--sweat some sliced garlic in olive oil, throw in some chopped kale, a teeny bit of water and cover the pan.  Let it wilt for 6-7 minutes or so.

Orange Carrots--blanch carrots until almost done and drain. Return the carrots to the pan, add a bit of butter, some orange zest, a sprinkle of brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Saute until the carrots are cooked through.

Baked Acorn Squash--Bake squash halves cut side down at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or so. Turn them over, sprinkle with brown sugar, salt, pepper and dot with butter. Put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes, until the sugar is melted and caramelizing.

I had some of the gruyere pinwheels left, so I baked them up too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ticketmaster H8RS Unite!

I'm not the only one that thinks Ticketmaster's fees are out of line. This video comment was in today's LosAngeles Times . In Canada, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Ticketmaster and it's subsidary TicketsNow. The two have been accused of conspiring to jack up the prices of tickets. Last week, New Jersey Springsteen fans complained that when they tried to purchase concert tickets they were immediately directed to the TicketsNow site. TicketsNow is a "legal" scalper and charges many times face value. I don't have a problem with scalpers per se, (how else would I be able to see a Packer game?!) I have a problem with entities being able to corner a whole ton of tickets. Let them have 5% of the venue and leave the rest to us little guys.

NOTE--I had to take down the annoyingly played every time the blog was viewed. If you are interested, you can see it here heard it on "the bubbler" first!

Good and Fast

I've been in a bit of a cooking funk lately. Sometimes I'm busy and don't have the time to make something nice but mostly I just don't feel like making the effort. So it's been frozen pizzas and Trader Joe's stuff. Even going out to eat sometimes seems a chore.
Tonight was one of those nights. I had to stop at the store to pick up some firewood. It's been really cold and stormy the last few days and we were out of wood. I wandered around the store wondering what to get for dinner. We had pizza last night, so that was out. I decided to give this frozen Bertolli pasta dinner a try. It was on sale for $6.99--a fair price for a meal for two people I thought.
All you have to do is open the package, pour it in a pan and heat it up. Ten minutes and dinner is on the table. And you know what? It was really good! Oh sure the sodium and fat content is really high, but this is definitely something to keep in the freezer for the times you just don't want to bother making dinner.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Field Trip: The Petersen Automotive Museum

We went to see a neat-o exhibit at The Petersen Automotive Museum. It was called From Autocamps to Airstreams and was all about the history of the travel trailer. 
Almost as soon as the automobile came on the scene, Americans wanted to DO something and GO someplace in their new-fangled machines. And a whole industry and lifestyle was born.
It was really interesting to see the evolution from this 1921 model
to this 1936 cute little trailer--
Some were built on bus chassis....
And others were one-of-a-kind masterpieces....
After touring the featured exhibit, we checked out the rest of the museum. Since the museum's founder was also the publisher of Hot Rod Magazine, there were some cool hot rods to see. Dale remembered this one from when he was a kid.

There was a Hot Wheels exhibit, a Hollywood vehicle display and a nice section of alternative fuel cars. The main permanent exhibit is titled The Streetscape: The Car and the City in Southern California. This exhibit took us from the first automobile built in Los Angeles all the way through to the suburban lifestyle  it made possible. We saw an old gas station, a early strip mall, a Googie drive-in, and even a restaurant that looked like a dog! Somehow tamale ice cream does not sound appealing!
This was our first time at this museum and it was really great. The exhibits were very well done and informative. I will definitely go again.
Of course all this exploring made us hungry, so we went "walking in LA"....a few blocks to the world-famous Farmers Market. We had some awesome Mexican food at La Loteria and some really awful (and expensive) ice cream somewhere else. It was just a really beautiful day to be out and about.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Party Food Trial #1

Next month I'm co-hosting a bridal shower for my niece and I've been busy collecting recipes and making lists in preparation. The party will take place in Wisconsin, so I have to be EXTRA prepared, I don't want anything left to chance.
I figured I should make a trial run of some of the new recipes before hand, so I don't have any surprises on party day.
These Proscuitto and Gruyere Pinwheels are awesome! I think this is going to be a new party food at Fartwood Manor too. They are extremely easy to make, but look and taste like you spent a lot of time doing them. All you do is layer frozen puff pastry dough with proscuitto and gruyere and roll it up, slice and bake. I forgot to add the chopped sage leaves and it was totally fine without. 
A glass of wine with a few of these=easy, instant cocktail party.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Octuplet Mom's Minivan

Oh, where to begin.....a woman with psychological issues decides to have eight children.....all at once. Even though she had six already.
The story gets weirder every day. I understand that some people have large families, and that's cool. But this isn't the way. A lot of people dropped the ball on this one and now there are 14 kids that are going to pay the price. That's sad.
A big thank you to Dale for the excellent graphics work!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

All Raccoons Must Die!

Yesterday morning I repotted some plants and set them out on the patio to "rest up" a bit before I put them in the rock garden.
This is what I found this morning! Those damn raccoons aren't happy with stealing my oranges and avocadoes...oh no, they have to go mess up my plants too!
I know it is raccoons because they messed up the cat's dishes that were nearby.
To all raccoons: Say hello to my little friend.