Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back In The Saddle
For the last two days I've been internet-compromised. My Verizon FiOS service was done in by the big Sunday storm in the NoVa. I'm not complaining I must say as my power never went out and power in the hot weather is the thang iffn yew know whut ah mean. But I was two days without television service (apart from one tv on the broadcast service ), phone service and the inarwebz. But my iPhone actually stood in the breach and did a fully adequate job. I'd hate to have to live off that level of 'net accessibility but for a brief time, it was OK.
My main regret is that I picked up the phone when the storm came pounding to give Lycurgus a call from the heart of big weather (we both dig big weather) and I was confronted with that eerie lack of dial tone where one's phone turns into a tin can that echoes into the ear what the microphone picks up. (cue ominous music ... kill ominous music)
That being as it may, the Verizon tech came today and in about 20 minutes had me up and firing on all cylinders. I'm glad to be back. Now, if I can get the Subaru dealership to get my radio functioning properly and all the info in the new stereo set properly (day, date, time, that sort of thing), I'll be a happy camper. And I'm getting macadamia nuts from The 'Zon tomorrow. What if I made maple ice cream with macadamia nuts?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Always 'Sperimentin'
Just ordered some adzuki beans and agar agar from Amazon. These are the crucial aspects of making the traditional Japanese sweet treat yokan. It's one of Lycurgus's favorite things. If I can follow the recipe, I may be able to make this delicious stuff myself and not be tied to the yokan cartel that tries to control our lives. Freedom!

(I'll try to take pics and post as I work at the making.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Steps - Forward And Backward
The first is an update on the Mitzvah Canister I posted about below. It's ... OK. It's physically smaller than I thought it would be, shorter actually. And the stainless steel is thin. It looks as though it will hold an 8 oz. bag of coffee but I can see that someone who buys coffee in larger sized bags would be disappointed to have one. Secondly, the nice, heavy gauge stainless steel measuring spoon I've been using simply doesn't fit so I've retreated to using the shorty plastic measuring spoon i had in the cabinet. Not a problem but I'll miss the heft of that nice Gevalia spoon every morning.
On the plus side, the gasket seems pretty secure without needing to be tacked down. The top is see-through which I kinda like. The hollow dome of the previous canister was inelegant design to me. The good part of the size is that it's compact. That's the nice way to say small but "compact" is accurate as long as it holds my requisite package full. And the shorty spoon fits so, all told, with the steps forward and back, I think I'm ahead.
Now, about my Friday.... The backstory is that I have long been looking for really good, solid iPod integration into the car stereo landscape. I've tried a couple of different versions of the "RoadTrip" (by Griffin) microradio connections and have had success that ultimately is undermined by poor connectivity or radio stations that intrude on frequencies that are open in my 'hood. So I Wooted an Alpine unit that looked pretty sweet (link goes to Amazon for clarity) and today I had it installed. I probably should have bought the Woot install offer but I actually like my local Subaru dealer and thought I'd go ahead and give them the business. Whew. Gave me the business today. It was supposed to take about two hours and ended up taking five.
The step forward is that the iPod integration is amazing. Incredible. Superb. Best ever. But the step back is that the radio is for shite. It acts almost like there's no antenna connection. The radio that came out was very good. I'm going to dig into the manual info and all that this weekend but I may be having to go back to the dealer to see what the hell is up with the lack of receiving. I think that this step forward and back has left me where I was before. But if I get the radio up and all soundy, I'm out in front all over again. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In The BlogDog Kitchen
Prof. Reynolds today posts a link to Amazon's AlDente blog on one of the great grilling questions to plague mankind: to sauce or not. I'm going to remain hors de combat on that one. But it did call to mind something that I don't believe I've blogged yet. To wit: ginger steak.
If anyone doesn't accept that gingered beef is one of the finest flavors in the history of creation, don't even imagine you're sane. So how to get a whole steak all gingery and deliciously flavored on the grill? My take, which worked (ahem) rather well, was to get jar of sushi ginger and wrap pieces of the pickled ginger around the raw steak. Wrap that in plastic wrap for at least a few hours and overnight if possible. Then put the steak with the sushi ginger still on it on the grill. Let the grill char off the ginger and cook to your desired state. You will lose a little of the crusty char (MMMmmm!) on the steak but the flavor of the ginger will be absolutely suffused into the meat. I had one guest proclaim one of these steaks possibly the best steak he'd had. Overstatement perhaps but nice for a cook to hear to be sure.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On The Small Annoyances In Life
I just ordered a canister for my coffee from Amazon. This one. For years I've been using a Gevalia canister I got from them as a promotion to sign up for their 'coffee of the month' club. It's done yeoman duty for those years yet today as I'm flipping it open, the bail that holds the lid down comes off. Right into the pan of sausages as it turns out but I cook those low and slow so it wasn't like I deep fried the thing. The fault, as I examined it, lay in the pin that holds the bail to the ring around the body of the canister. It looks like a long rivet that has lost the flange on one end.
I put it back together but it's now compromised and fatally flawed. Add in that the square base of the canister has never bee my favorite design (coffee gets trapped in the corners) and it became time to acquire a new one. Since I'm all about the stainless steel in the kitchen (wantwantwant a nice stainless fridge but not about to drop the ready on that when the current model is functioning perfectly), I figured that one from Amazon seemed a reasonable bet. From the customer comments I can see that I'll probably have to tack the gasket down and hope the thing holds enough which, since I usually get 8 oz bags from Boca Java, it probably will.
So why the post title? Well, something like buying a new canister is so monumentally inconsequential that my spending the maybe five minutes it took to buy it seemed, afterward, like a waste of time. Compound that with the fact that I didn't really need to buy it, I could have soldiered on with the old one or even kludged a fix, and I'm left wondering about all the staggering inconsequentialities that mount up to form the bulk of days. It's a metaphor for the human condition is my conclusion. It's disgusting to have to go to the bathroom but think what would happen if you didn't. Your life is made better by a process of elimination.
Sometimes a sawbuck for a kitchen gewgaw is a crack in the sidewalk that trips you as you pass. But that stumble may give you a moment to reflect and give you a grip on your basic human condition. It's a mitzvah if you make it so.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Continuing Distraction
Another blast from the neo past with the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones bringing their talent to a revival, of sorts, of ska back in the late 90's. I only have one of their discs but it's almost perfect which makes acquiring another
risky (see Fratellis, second album). That being as it may, I hereby post "The Impression That I Get" for your listening and dancing pleasure. Yeah - I'd bop to this 'un in a stone second, infectious and driving with immaculate horn charts, what's not to like?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Brief Distraction
Just because. Ladies and gentlemen, The Brian Setzer Orchestra!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Noted In Passing
One of the truly great things available in your local grocery store or supermarket, breakfast meat category, is Jimmy Dean Sage sausage, patty style. I have yet to find the best way to slice them to a thinness I prefer (probably freezing the tube for half an hour and doing all the slicing would work) but the flavor is just exactly, precisely the way I want my breffix sausage to taste. I think McDonald's sausage is based on this as it's almost exactly the same flavor. And McDonald's sausage absolutely kills.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Just A Thought
Is it possible that Obama thought "trouble in the Gulf" was "trouble in the golf" so he's "not going to rest" until he brings his handicap down?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Something Is Very, Very Wrong With Me
A couple of years ago, you would not have been able to get me to voluntarily buy or eat a tomato for any reason short of impending apocalypse. As my Brit friend and fellow English teacher in Japan used to say, there was a level of hungry that was 'tomato hungry" which was how famished he'd have to be before he'd eat a piece of tomato. I've long felt pretty much the same way. On my honeymoon as the waitress cleared our dishes one lunch, she observed that no tomatoes had been consumed on both my bride's and my salads. This resulted in the immortal phrase, "Neither one of yeez likes damadahs then." (This was in St. John, NB though you may want to place the accent more Joisey-like.)
The past, though, is always prologue. A couple of days ago, I sat at the kitchen table having a lively time with my visitor who had acquired a nice block of mozzarella for snacking purposes. I had also acquired a nice little Costco pack of Roma tomatoes (on the vine) for use in a dish I'll make in a day or so. I also had, in the kitchen, as I hadn't gotten to point of potting them, several young basil plants. You see where this is going, don't you? You'd be right.
I sliced the tomato to about mousepad thickness (probably should have done this on the bias but didn't think of it at the time), ground some smoked sea salt on the rounds, laid a hunk of the mozzarell' on each slice and a basil leaf atop that. Just amazingly delicious. Which is something you probably already know and is no surprise. But brother Lycurgus is reading this with his jaw dropped at least two notches. It's possible we may be in an alternate universe as what I described above would never have happened in the not-too-distant past on Normal Earth. Strange Earth has good tomatoes!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

After great heat we have rain. The sky is crying for me having to say goodbye to my house guest who has been just the peak of house guesty perfection. No trouble, enthusiastic, appreciative of the opportunities I have to chauffeur and perfectly capable of going off solo when I wasn't able to provide personal guide services.
Anyone who leaves my place happy and leaves me eager for more visits is just the best!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sweet Blistering Jeebus!
It's hot here. Jungle hot. Tarzan couldn't take this kind of hot. And I had lunch at the Bob Evans restaurant this afternoon. Shockingly, it was not bad. Much better than the last dinner I had a Chili's (which I used to like). Sweet potato fries (cut a little thinner than I prefer), coleslaw (not bad - not nearly as good as mine), and a pot roast sandwich. Reasonably priced, good tasting food. Nothing to make the foodie go out of his or her way but absolutely acceptable. I'd eat there again. Our waiter said the wrap sandwiches are the best deal. I'll probably try one of those.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

And For The Main Course
I'll have the Gulf Shrimp in a Light Sweet Crude Sauce.
UPDATE: Phillymon's comment deserves elevation to main page status:
Have the available side of Lame Duck on Toast - they're trying to sell off the excess, since they'll be WAY overstocked in November...

True dat!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

A Song For The Holiday
Ladies and gentlemen, the Pat Metheny Group with "(Cross the) Heartland" from the great "American Garage" album. This is one of the top 10 instrumentals of all time in my estimation. And check out that big honkin' Gibson jazz box he's playing (a Gibby ES-175 if Wikipedia is to be believed). I'm no fan of the trapeze tailpiece but he makes that thing sing. Plus the opening piano riff is a classic. Enough blather - American electric jazz for the Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Soon To Be Sorbet Time
I'm thinking of making a special sorbet for our dear President. It will be peach, flavored with mint. As for its name, you figure it out.
UPDATE: Amusingly enough, I get the e-mail from the good fellow who runs the orchard that peaches as well as produce are going to be on tap this weekend. A trip to the country is in order.