Monday, June 6, 2011

Back in the saddle

I think Google went a bit nutsy in my absence.  Checking the stats on the blog, it seems that on a single day last week there were 1,168 page views of one single blog post - "I have a dream" from May 11 - and all the readers were coming from Turkey.  I don't get Turkey.  I understand Norway and Australia and the UK, but I don't get Turkey.  I really think Google had a major hiccup, or Al Qaeda was trying to hack my blog because they didn't like my "Osama in Hell" series.  Either way, my numbers are freaking skewed now.   Aw, nuts.

We made it to Publix.  Sunday night dinner is going to be chicken with smokehouse maple seasoning and dijonnaise.  No idea how this will come out.  Also throwing together carrots, sweet potatoes, and bananas.  No idea about that either.  Sauteed chicken livers and onions.  Yum.  And if I still have the energy - and this may have to wait to tomorrow - my newest version of stuffed mushrooms.  I've made countless versions of stuffed mushrooms, from the basic garlicky bread crumbs to shrimp and marinated mozzarella.  What I've got in mind has a combination of flavors that always pleases.  UPDATE:  I cooked the following - The Devil is in the Chicken; Don't Make a Tsimmes Over It; and Chicken Livers Provencal.  My food critics approved.  Please check the recipe blog for the June 5th  entries, and I hope you enjoy them.

I was pretty news-starved while on the cruise, not having access to my online newspapers and such.  Now that I'm back online - wow, what a fertile source of blogging topics!  I don't even know where to begin.  Okay, you talked me into it:  Sarah Palin and Paul Revere.  I mean, you can't make up stuff like this.  And then Germany pointing the finger at Spain for E. Coli tainted cucumbers, which virtually destroyed the Spanish economy in about 2 days.  In the meantime, it is starting to look like it is  bean sprouts from Germany that are spreading the rather nasty bacteria.  When I was in high school, I happily studied bacteriology, and E. Coli was a favorite - to study, not eat.  E. Coli was probably the first recipient of my early cooking attempts, as I made a special brew of nutrient agar for it to feast upon.

Shaquille O'Neal is retiring.  A volcano erupted in Chile (are you watching the news, Harold?)  Food Network is starting the new season of The Next Food Network Star.  Happy to say that Howie, the guy whose lights I wanted to punch out, went home.  Next week I hope to see that Penny chick go home.  If she spouts "sexy!" one more time, I'm gonna heave.  The market is still heading south, and as I've said somewhere on this blog before, we are taking the rest of the world down with us.

food network star finalists
Penny the Purple People Eater ... next to go?

Something I forgot to mention - during the cruise, I did finish knitting the baby hoodie AND the cat's paw scarf.  For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am making progress in knitting.

More blogging from the cruise:

May 30, 2011
8:25 am - Memorial Day

Twang that magic twanger, froggie

Room Service
Why have I never thought to do this before? Coffee for me, juice and hot tea for Rob, and no need to put on a bra and leave the room in order to reach that state of caffeination which permits me to minimally function. Absolute genius. Later, when my eyes are open and my breathing is back on automatic, I will be sufficiently awake to do my eyebrows and brave the outside world.

This ship has a forward camera which broadcasts in real time so we see where we are heading. Right now, for the first time since leaving Florida, we can see land on the horizon - Cozumel, Mexico. Once we dock, Rob and I will head out to our air-conditioned bus for a "scenic ride to Playa Mia Grand Beach Park" where we will "learn the art of cooking traditional Mexican cuisine from a prestigious Chef." We get to eat our creations accompanied by some Mexican wine, followed by an hour of beach time.

This is our second trip to Cozumel; first time was ten years ago on our first cruise on the Carnival Imagination. That trip was the brainchild of my dear friend Bethe. Up until that time, we had never cruised before. Rob, Cory and I opted for the shore excursion to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, and it was a wonderful experience. Our original plans for that Thanksgiving vacation were to repeat our 2000 trip to The Buccaneer resort in St. Croix - we had, in fact, booked the suite almost a year before - but then 9/11 happened, and no one in their right mind was flying anywhere for any reason.  Bethe's idea was that both families would cruise over the holiday - no cooking for either of us, and our boys, then 13 and 11, could share a stateroom, and we would stay out of airplanes until the horror lessened.  It was such a good idea, we cruised with them the next year on NCL to Nassau, and then came the trips to Italy and Greece ... but those are definitely a couple of other blog posts.

I was perusing today's issue of "Fun Times" and noticed there is going to be a Big Hair Contest tonight. Damn, and I just cut my hair! I coulda been a contender!

5:07 pm
Back from our shore excursion, and we are tired but what fun we had. The bus trip was comfortable and not too long. Our class was a total of eight people, four couples, and all of them good companions. Chef Luis was a terrific teacher, and did I mention that this class included prodigious amounts of booze? Margaritas, daiquiris, piƱa coladas, wine . . . we were still sober enough to prepare a three course meal. Mini "Huaraches", Veracruz Style Fish Filet, and Rice Pudding Tower for dessert. We also learned how to properly use a tortilla press, and how to make those really cool designs on the dessert plates using heavy cream and raspberry sauce. Awesome!

If you are a parent, then you know that from the minute your child comes into your world, life as you know it is over. We stopped being Rob and Cindy and became Cory's parents. Our activities, our interests, our choices for restaurants and vacations were all undertaken with his preferences in mind. And that becomes a happy habit, so much so that when he "aged out" we found ourselves missing his presence, and half of our conversations still are about Cory. Cory would like this, or love this, or enjoy this, we say, and there is always that regret that he is a little too old to tag along with Mom and Dad, and that he has a work and class schedule that requires his presence at home. But we know he would have been crazy about this particular ship, and all of the food including the 24 hour availability of pizza and ice cream. Cory and I are night owls, and long after Rob is sleeping peacefully, we are wandering around the house, snacking or, in Cory's case, eating a full dInner. Sure enough, when he has accompanied us on cruises, he and I can be found wandering the halls, ice cream or pizza or coffee in hand. Rob has pointed out more than once this trip that Cory would really enjoy the sight of lovely young ladies in evening gowns or (even better) itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikinis.

We saw some of these bikini-clad cuties on our shore excursion, after the cooking class was over and we had eaten the fruits of our labor. We had some time to kill and so we sat near the beach at Playa Mia. I knit the Cat's Paw scarf, Rob read science fiction, and we both people-watched. Gosh, we were brutal. Hee hee. But come on, folks, some blocky, bleached blonde in a bikini (so everyone could admire her tramp stamp) and a chubby dude with a beach ball for a belly, wearing a Speedo, for heaven's sakes, should be ashamed of themselves. Forget the fashion police, those two should have just turned themselves in.

6:38 pm
We are officially back at sea, headed for Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras. I thought there was some kind of political crisis going on in Honduras. Guess we'll find out tomorrow!

Which reminds me - if Harold Camping had half a brain, he could have looked like a bloody prophet by pointing out that terrible events like the earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan, the flooding near New Orleans and Memphis, and the tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri were all tied to the End Times. Natural disasters have, at least in my perception, been increasing in frequency and degree of damage especially over the past decade. Haiti, Indonesia, Iceland - I remember viewing the streets of Kissimmee after the hurricanes of 2004 and thinking, "this is what streets look like after a nuclear explosion." Then there are the sudden, explosive political events cropping up worldwide, and economic meltdowns like what has happened in Greece. If I were a half-cracked scam artist like old Harold, I could have made even bigger bucks by tying all these events together in one neat prophetic package. A good preacher can take any event and use it to prove his point through Biblical writings. Harold is just not that good.

10:16 pm
Whoo hoo, this ship is rocking. Literally. I think this will rock me to sleep later tonight but during dinner it leant a weird tilt to the proceedings. Tonight some of the waitstaff was singing and dancing on the tables, which was great fun. Our newly acquired couple is among the missing, but our remaining table mates continue to be good company. One of the husbands has this great soothing voice, like Tom Bodet when he is assuring you he' ll leave a light on.

That's Desirta on the right, one of our waitstaff, practicing for her guest shot on "Dancing with the Stars."  Kirstie who?

Dinner was delicious. I even ordered dessert, which was a relief to our waitress who had been fussing over me like a mother hen because I had yet to order dessert.

And the relaxation goes on ...

Saw this on our way out of Playa Mia.  There was a girl in the cake, but she left before I could get the shot. 

"Animal House", anyone?

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