Sunday, May 15, 2011

Still in search of

and last but not least, my cranberry bread recipe.  Since it uses fresh cranberries, it stands to reason I might be able to swap out with fresh (or canned) peaches.
funny pictures - To remove writer's block
I wish it was that easy.

My Ira. Just thirteen years old this April 11th, if you count from this incarnation.   Technically speaking, he will be 35 this coming August 28th.  I suppose that may seem strange, coming as it is from an attorney, a logical individual known to be down to earth and not given to flights of fancy, but the simple truth is, I believe in God, ghosts, and the occasional reincarnation.  The proof is in the pussycat, and his name is Ira Carlos Cesar Arana Castaneda Morris Rothfeld.

More on that later, but right now, the issue is Ira sitting in my chair, pulling my hand away from the computer's mouse, stretching out on the keyboard, or climbing into my lap whenever I decide to sit down and write.  Not tuna, not kitty crunchies, not nothin' can distract him from his Holy Grail.

I believe that Ira thinks email, Delphi, Facebook and Google Blogger are creations of the Devil, because they divert my attention from him.  Of course he also feels the same way about those yappie dogs, Woody and Indiana, and Princess Polly, the other gray cat who has been known to nose him out of his position at my side, as well as all of my efforts at knitting.


Maybe he's right.  It seems Facebook and Google haven't been playing fair out there in cyberworld.  (But, my dear furry Muse, that won't keep me from writing.  I just hope somebody out there is reading.  Or cooking.)

Speaking of cooking (this is, nominally speaking, a food blog) I came across not one, but two interesting (read:  I want to run out and buy the ingredients and cook them today) recipes in a cool little cookbook I picked up 25, 30 years ago, by Jane Butel.

Finger Lickin' Rib Stickin' Great Tastin' Hot & Spicy Barbecue  I said it was cool and little. But a lot of big flavors inside.  Apparently, Jane Butel is credited with having started the Tex-Mex food craze, and she conducts cooking classes which I would love to attend.  Unfortunately, she teaches in Arizona and New Mexico which sort of limits availability.  But when I checked out her site, I found this list of recipes.  Wow!  Did I hit the motherlode or what?  And before I headed out to Publix!  Some might call that serendipity.  I call that dinner.

Update:  No cooking on Saturday, space rangers.  Rob and I headed out to Target for eyeglasses, and while we were there the skies opened up.  Thunder, lightning, buckets of water.  Once we were back in the car, we were not going to get out again to run into Publix.  Maybe tomorrow.  If not, there are still enough leftovers here to feed a family of six.  We are quite happy with the accomplishment of getting new glasses (and in Rob's case, an updated prescription) plus having all of our existing glasses tricked out with new nose pads.

 In the news: 

Which idiot jounalist described this hovel as a "mansion"?

Osama, you sorry excuse for a big, strong, powerful terrorist ... your organization has been reduced to threatening little old ladies.  Wow, that's some revenge they have planned!  Going after President Obama's grandma.  Shame on Al Qaeda, and shame on you.

Speaking of shame, we hope you got an earful from your colleagues in the Seventh Circle of Hell.  Or maybe not, since you've spent the last few days up to your ears in boiling blood and water.  Well, pull yourself together, man.  We've got a little roadtrip planned for you and you won't want to be late to the party.

First, the middle ring of the Seventh Circle.  Here are the suicides, those who have committed the ultimate act of violence against themselves.  I have to tell you, I have a problem with the original description of this ring, as I do not agree with Dante that all suicides should be punished in this manner.  Instead, I think this ring should be limited to those who suicide to escape punishment for their earthly crimes.  One of my favorite suicides is Hermann Goering, the one time Reichsmarshall of Nazi Germany.

Quite the imposing figure.  Of course he doesn't look like that anymore, as the evil suicides are transformed into gnarly trees and bushes and are fed upon by the Harpies.  So you may have some trouble locating your old buddy, Mohamed Ata, one of the most evil suicides in history.  Unless maybe that twig in the Harpies' mouth is him ...

Watch your step as we head in the Inner Ring ... here are the blasphemers, the sodomites, and the usurers.  I bet you feel right at home here in the desert of flaming sand, but don't get comfortable, we're just passing through.

Getting to the Eighth Circle is a bit of a problem as we will have to rely on available transportation down the cliff - which is to say, we have to catch a ride with Geryon.   Don't we fooled by his honest face; there's a real sting in his tail. 

I've convinced Geryon to do a fly-over, so that we can skip the endless Eighth Circle Bolgias and head for the bottom of the Ninth.  No, this isn't a trip to Yankee Stadium, you poor fool.  Hey, look down there at Bolgia 5 - there is a serious overcrowding problem there.  Corrupt politicians - meaning at least half of all politicians since the beginning of time - are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch.  What a reward for a life of public service!  Boss Tweed, Spiro Agnew, Fulgencio Batista, Ferdinand Marcos, just to name a few.

Speaking of politicians, I guess I missed this when it came out a few weeks ago:

"As Katie Couric gets set to leave CBS News after five years in the anchor chair, it doesn't appear as if Sarah Palin will be sending any flowers.  Appearing on Fox News Tuesday, Palin mocked the CBS newswoman who told People Magazine she is looking forward to a new position that will facilitate "multi-dimensional storytelling.""

Sour Grapes Sarah, just kwitcher bitchin' ... it's not Katie Couric's fault that you could not answer a most basic question during the 2008 campaign:

"In a series of interviews with Couric authorized by the McCain campaign, Palin stumbled over a number of questions, most memorably when asked, "When it comes to establishing your world view…what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read?"

Palin appeared unable to name a single publication – a performance for which she was much maligned – and later said she found the question insulting, as well as emblematic of a liberal slant in the mainstream media."

Not even the New York Times, Sarah?  Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Washington Post, The Guardian, Pravda ... you couldn't come up with anything?  And you're dissing Katie Couric?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bygone Baklava and Bats in the Belfry

How could I forget the baklava?  Maybe it is because I am so busy remembering passwords and PIN numbers! 

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Cory had expressed a craving for homemade baklava, and I was all set to make it, possibly using those cute little phyllo cups in the freezer section.  And then I got sideswiped ... by peaches-on-the-brain.  Bah. 

Blogger dashboards were unavailable for over a day, which meant that you could read, but I couldn't add any posts or do any editting to posts-in-progress.  I had a bunch of ideas whooshing through my brain, and for all I know they may still be there, but it is Friday night and I am so tired, that driving home was an adventure.  Once there, I headed for the couch and passed out for a few hours.  Getting older sucks, have I said that lately?

Best line of the week:  came from one of our CPIs (Child Protective Investigators) just today.  Here's the set-up:  this has been my week for shelter duty, which to the uninitiated means that if there is a shelter hearing, I'm the designated attorney to cover it.  We rotate this responsibility among six attorneys, so it is not terribly onerous.  This week, though, there were shelters every single day.  Hey, it happens.  Today, when I walked in, the CPI saw it was me, followed me up to the table with a big smile on her face and said, "I think you are becoming my favorite attorney!"  No idea what it was I had done that brought her to that conclusion, but it was nice, nonetheless.

Best picture of the week:  I've heard of bats in the belfry, but never termites in the belfry.  Imagine my surprise coming out of the "new" courthouse this morning, when I saw this:

In the 15 years I've been practicing here, I've never seen this being done, even when the old courthouse was being restored.  I wonder if this is the first time since it was built?  I can only imagine what kind of super-termite has taken up residence in a 120 year old building.  Anyway, by the time I returned for afternoon court, the termite guys had more than half the building wrapped up like a Romanesque Revival circus tent.

Mala Madre:  that's me.  My poor, sick son just came downstairs and asked if we had any soup (read: homemade) and all I had in the freezer was some tomato soup, not the sort of thing someone with a sore throat and upset stomach should be eating.  No chicken soup.  No Jewish penicillin.  No goldene yoich.  My child is suffering and he is having to rely on CANNED soup.  I am a failure as a mother.  First the baklava, now this.

But I did cook last night, trying out the recipe I had developed for chicken stroganoff.  Very tasty, indeed.  My boys approved, including Indy and Woody who somehow managed to convince Daddy to part with a little taste.  I will post the recipe in a little while, so if you are interested in a new chicken recipe (is there really such a thing?) check over at the recipe blog.

In the news:  can you believe Al Qaeda is sinking so low as to threaten the President's grandma?  Grandmas are sacrosanct, and only a bunch of crazed terrorists would single one out as a target.  And here's the other way of looking at it - the US takes out the most wanted man on Planet Earth, and the best his organization can do is threaten somebody's little old Kenyan granny?  Shame on Al Qaeda ...

PHOTO: Sarah Hussein Obama, grandmother of U.S. Democratic president Barack Obama, sits in the living room of her house

Newt Gingrich is running for the Republican nomination for President.  Good God.  The Republicans tried to impeach Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky ... can you imagine them getting behind a candidate with this sort of baggage?

Gingrich has been married three times. In 1962, he married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old and she was 26. In the spring of 1980, Gingrich left Battley after having an affair with Marianne Ginther. Detractors have often said that Gingrich visited Battley while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery to discuss the details of their divorce, but Gingrich has disputed that account. His daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, has written that it was her mother who requested the divorce, that it happened prior to the hospital stay (which was for the removal of a benign tumor, not cancer), and that Gingrich’s visit was for the purpose of bringing his children to see their mother, not to discuss the divorce.  Six months after the divorce from Battley was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther in 1981.

In the mid-1990s, Gingrich began an affair with House of Representatives staffer Callista Bisek, who is 23 years his junior. They continued their affair during the Lewinsky scandal, when Gingrich was a leader of the Republican investigation of President Clinton for perjury in connection with his alleged affairs with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky.  In 2000, Gingrich married Bisek shortly after his divorce from second wife Ginther.

Fortunately, I have no loyalty to any political party, and if pressed, will advise that I am a Rational Anarchist.  If I was a Republican, I would be pulling my hair out over the available candidates ... Newt ... The Donald ... Sarah Palin ... Ron Paul.  The only one who comes close to qualified is Mitt Romney, and the chances of this country supporting a Mormon for President are about as good as the chances for a female or Jewish President ... which is to say, damn close to zero.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Have a Dream

With all due respect, this post has nothing to do with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   It has to do with my dream of having a peaceful lunch hour under a tree, gazing out at the water.   It also has to do with my dream of having all of my favorite Robert Heinlein and Ellery Queen novels available on Kindle.

I've been dreaming about that quiet lunch for a couple of weeks now.  So every morning when I get to the office, I try to park under a certain tree.  It keeps my car cool, and it lets me hold out hope that I will relax there, on the banks of a retention pond, enjoying the shade, the breeze, and my knitting for a half hour or so.  On Monday, someone stole my parking tree.  On Tuesday, the tree was available, but I was pressed for time in the office and lunch was two bites of a Seven-Eleven Big Bite.  Even slathered with mustard and relish, it did not go down easily.  Maybe later today or maybe tomorrow ...  working in an industrial park these past few years has led me to appreciate the occasional shade trees and a glimpse of retention ponds that are well-populated with water fowl and ringed with cattails.  Sometime it is the simple things that bring the most pleasure.

I love Kindle, and I especially love the fact that I got it for free with my iPhone.  But it seems that many of the books I like to read and reread are not available on Kindle.  It might have something to do with the fact that some of those books are no longer in print, and that might have something to do with the fact that the authors of those books are all dead, and that might have something to do with the fact that my taste in murder mysteries was canalized in the middle of the last century, and that might have to do with the fact that I started out reading the mysteries which my grandmother had collected during her membership in various book clubs in the forties and early fifties.   Yes, I know it's a run-on sentence.  Just don't try to hold your breath while reading it, and you'll be just fine.

Now during the past year, Amazon has started to release a good number of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels on Kindle.  And as I mentioned previously, they have also released some Ellery Queen novels.  Well, just two to be exact, and I've already downloaded and read one of them.  Same deal with Heinlein; I think they may be up to four books on Kindle, and those aren't the ones I want to read.  So I went to Amazon, found most of the books I wanted, and clicked on the magic button:

Tell the Publisher! I’d like to read this book on Kindle
That was all for today.  I have other dreams, but nothing that can't wait until another blog post. 

Oh, have I mentioned lately that I am a rabid Magic fan and that I love Dwight Howard?

Check this out:  on Monday night, Dwight Howard went on Twitter and indicated that the Orlando Sentinel is trying run him out of town just like Shaquille O’Neal.

“Y does it seem like the writers of Orlando sentinel are tryna push me out of Orlando with dumb articles. It’s annoying. Can I enjoy my summer and get ready for next season in Orlando. Pls. Same thing u guys did to Shaq. Smh”  Smh is Twitter language for ”shaking my head.”

He went on to say in some other tweets:  “I’m not blaming the media. I’m saying stop with the dumb articles. They don’t make be decision of mine. I jus don’t want Orlando fans to believe them. Cuz they don’t know. I love my city.”

So in response, Mike Bianchi over at the Orlando Sentinel whined like a little girl whose mother told her she had to wear the pink panties instead of the lavender ones, and tried to make excuses about how it was a sports writer's responsibility to gossip and speculate about what I like to call "facts not in evidence."

Hey Mike, why don't you shut yer piehole?  You're not reporting the news, you're making it up.  Perhaps you would be happier writing for a rag like the National Enquirer.  Over there, they're perfectly happy with gossip and innuendos.

Point of information, I still love Shaquille O'Neal.

Listen, these players have got to do what they've got to do.  The days when a player like Larry Bird or Patrick Ewing would spend his entire career with one team are long over.  Loyalty is apparently a misplaced value, not just on the part of the players, but very much on the part of the team ownership.  I'm still shaking my head over the Magic's most recent peremptory  move, trading away Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Marcin Gortat and Mickeal Pietrus.  Now don't get me wrong, I love seeing Hedo back in a Magic uniform, and I know Gortat wanted more court time, but I think Carter and Lewis were the type of loyal player who would have continued to serve the team well.  So for both sides, it's all business now, and we can't blame the players (well, except for Lebron James, but he's an ill-mannered bully) for taking steps to enhance their careers and earning potential.

Back to the title of this post:  I also have a dream of finding a great peach bread recipe.  The boys are quite pleased with the peach pound cake, as is, and I really think I just have make minor adjustments to avoid the peaches settling and it will be perfect.  So if I find a great peach bread recipe along with this great peach pound cake recipe, I'll be heading to Georgia to stock up on the main ingredient.  I'm debating if my destiny lies with a quick bread or a yeast bread.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

If I Only Had a Brain

Today's earworm brought to you courtesy of The Scarecrow:

I could while away the hours, conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain.
And my head I'd be scratchin' while
my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain.

No idea why that popped into my head while I was driving home in the car.  Also, no idea why I became determined to capture the elusive cat known as Zebbie, to give him the combing he so desperately needed.  Zebadiah John Carter Rothfeld is an almost 15 year old, all white, blue-eyed male, congenitally deaf almost from birth.  He is so skittish, he will run from us even when we are trying to give him a treat.  Zeb is the only pet I have ever lived with who would not let me touch him.  If I was a cat psychologist (now there's a profession for me) I would have to diagnose him with paranoid catzophrenia.  Although he is a shorthair, he has some kind of thick undercoat that causes him to have big, honking knots in his fur.  After a couple of years of this, he really looks pretty raggy, so while Rob was at taekwando I managed to chase Zeb into my bathroom.  With the help of a pillowcase, I got him contained, and then combed.  And combed.  And combed.  If I say so myself, he is looking rather spiffy.  The weird thing is, although he cried a little at the beginning, he never tried to use his back claws or his teeth (Zebbie once spent 10 days in isolation at the vet because he bit the assistant who foolishly insisted on carrying him to the back) and after a little while, he settled down, curled up against me, and let me clean his eyes, and pet him.  The sad thing is that when he allowed me to pet him on his head, I found a rather large growth just outside one of his ears.  It did not seem to bother him, but it can't be a good sign. 

You've heard the expression "white on rice?"  This is white cat on a rice cooker.

Today is my Middle Brother-in-Law's birthday, and it is a special one since he is now eligible for Social Security, although this is a guy who has a black belt in taekwando and still owns and operates his own lawn care business, so I don't see him retiring in the near future.  It is also special  because later this year he will become a grandpa for the second time.  My Number One Niece the Lawyer and her husband the lawyer are expecting their first child, a girl, and now you also know what sideswiped me away from my dogged completion of the Cat's Paw Scarf.  I always stand ready to be sideswiped by good news.

Charles, Cory, and Robert at Casco Martial Arts

I guess this would be a good time to tell the story of how I became the Bear.  I realize I left Osama waiting for me at the Outer Ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell, but it will give him a chance to catch up with some of his old friends - Josef Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Attila the Hun, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Vlad III of Romania, Lizzie Borden, Queen Mary I, Ilse Koch, Caligula, Mao-Tse Tung, and Andrew Jackson.

Way back in the last century, during my senior year at SUNY Stony Brook, Rob and I resumed the dating relationship we'd left off the year before.  One night, Rob came home after a date, and found this message written on the small blackboard his mother had hanging on her kitchen wall:

Robert - Keep your hands off Cindy Bear.  Signed, Yogi Bear

It was that simple.  Both of my brothers-in-law, as well as my husband, refer to me as "Bear."  If I was going to have a tombstone, which I am not, I would expect that in addition to my "proper" name, it would read "Brkexpat, the Bear.  Beloved wife, mother, auntie, cousin, friend, lawyer, cook, knitter, dog whisperer, cat wrangler, and rabid Orlando Magic Fan."

Happy birthday, Charles, and many, many more.   I wish you health and long life, and much happiness.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Back to the Future: Osama in Hell

Mr. Bin Laden, how the hell are you?  Yes, yes, I realize we left you hanging out - literally - at the River Styx, with all the Fifth Circle Sinners, but after all, it was Mother's Day Weekend and we all had better things to do than worry about your lack of comfort.  Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that we are going to give you the keys to the city ... unfortunately, it is the city called Dis, where the lower circles of Hell are located.  You might even say we are "Dissing" you. 

As you may know, the Sixth Circle is reserved for those who are guilty of the sin of heresy, and their punishment is eternal entrapment in flaming tombs.  So many people have prayed that you would burn in hell for all eternity, and there was some thought about installing you here permanently.  But it was decided that the Sixth Circle is really too good for you, and there are plenty of hot spots left for someone of your loathesome nature.

The Seventh Circle is all about the sin of violence, something you know a great deal about.  I am somewhat in favor of leaving you in the Outer Ring because the purpose and manner of punishment seem to fit your crimes. "This ring houses the violent against people and property, who are immersed in Phlegethon, a river of boiling blood and fire, to a level commensurate with their sins."  For example,  Alexander the Great is immersed up to his eyebrows.  There are also references to Attila the Hun ... not sure how high the river flows in his case, but in yours, I'm sure you can match Alexander eyebrow for eyebrow any day of the week.

To be continued ...

It's simply mind-boggling just how many Talking Heads, Choleric Politicians, and Melancholic Theologians are second-guessing our government's decision to finally rid the world of Osama bin Laden.  Are these blathering fools simply seeking their 15 minutes of fame, or is there some other reason for weeping tears over the perceived moral implications of taking out America's Public Enemy Number One in a carefully, one might say, flawlessly conceived and executed operation which showed our military and our government, at their very best?

This article by Maureen Dowd makes hash of the offensively outraged.  I especially like her remark about our former President, the big crybaby.

I want memory, and justice, and revenge.

When you’re dealing with a mass murderer who bragged about incinerating thousands of Americans and planned to kill countless more, that seems like the only civilized and morally sound response.

We briefly celebrated one of the few clear-cut military victories we’ve had in a long time, a win that made us feel like Americans again — smart and strong and capable of finding our enemies and striking back at them without getting trapped in multitrillion-dollar Groundhog Day occupations.

But within days, Naval Seal-gazing shifted to navel-gazing.

There was the bad comedy of solipsistic Republicans with wounded egos trying to make it about how right they were and whinging that George W. Bush was due more credit. Their attempt to renew the debate about torture is itself torture.

W. preferred to sulk in his Dallas tent rather than join President Obama at Ground Zero in a duet that would have certainly united the country... 

Unlike Osama, the Navy Seals took great care not to harm civilians — they shot Bin Laden’s youngest wife in the leg and carried two young girls out of harm’s way before killing Osama.

Morally and operationally, this was counterterrorism at its finest.

We have nothing to apologize for.

I have been doing a post-mortem on the peach pound cake, which I have now been able to slice, photograph, and taste:

You can see that despite my careful ministrations, the peaches still settled at the lower half of the loaf, leaving it a little moister, but not soggy.  Other than that, it is a pretty pound cake with a nice, fine crumb.  It slices rather well.  Both Rob and I like the flavor.  I think it's a keeper, but I will continue to fine tune it.  Possibly less peaches, or the same amount of peaches cut even smaller.  Maybe one less egg.  Or skip the peach schnapps and just rely on some vanilla and/or almond extract.  Almond and peach enhance each other's flavors.  I might increase the baking powder.

Or all of the above.  And then when the fresh peaches come into season, I'll head up to Lane Orchards in Fort Valley, Georgia, buy a bushel and start fine tuning all over again.

A very happy birthday to my friend, and former college roommate, Kathy, a warm and funny lady of many accomplishments, not the least of which was putting up with my youthful flair for the dramatic.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Only Half a Word

Okay I admit, that's a kind of awful title to today's post.  And no, my godson Peter, bless him, did not suggest it to me, although I bet he's now sorry he didn't.

But wait a second ... there's mother love, motherload, mother-in-law, mother-to-be, Mother Nature, Mother Teresa, Mother Earth, Mother Mary, Mother Goose, working mother, godmother, Mother's Gefilte Fish, and of course, Mother's Day.

Today is the second Sunday in May, and that means, here in the United States, it is Mother's Day.  Different countries have different designated days, as well as different customs.  There are religious roots and affiliations in some countries, while others use it as a means of supporting their local Hallmark and florist.  What the heck, it's good for the economy.  But the one thing those days all seem to have in common is the underlying gentle reminder that moms need an occasional "thank you" and an "I love you, Mom" from their otherwise ungrateful spawn.

My son does not need Mother's Day to remember to treat me right, and truly, I have no complaints.  He has an excellent example in his own father, as well as his uncles, who have been steadfast good sons to their mother.  As I read through my Facebook page, it is very nice to see just how many of my friends have paid tribute to their mothers, and I suspect that those who are lucky enough to have their mothers still with them are not shy in expressing their love and gratitude the other 364 days of the year.

I had a somewhat difficult relationship with my adoptive mother, my maternal grandmother, but today is not the day to talk about that. The devil is in the details, and so many years after her passing away at the age of 93, the details don't matter as much as they used to.

We had our good days ... this was one of them, although I was only about 4 months old.  I lost my mother Joyce (right) much too young, and my grandmother (left) went through the worst thing that can happen to a parent, which is outliving your child.  Then she was faced with the necessity of starting over and becoming a parent to two very young children, at an age when her contemporaries were enjoying their grandchildren and their empty nests.  So in my mind, I try to cut her a little slack.  Her life wasn't happy, and it wasn't easy, and that's all I'm going to say about that.  Certainly she loved me, and throughout my life she gave me good advice, gave me a good moral foundation, and encouraged me to work hard to succeed.  It is the truth that sometimes her messages were scrambled, her manner of delivery was rough to take, and she knocked me down as often as she put me up on a pedestal.  But, what didn't kill me made me stronger, so here's to you, Mom, and to you, Joycie - Happy Mother's Day.  In my own way, I love you both.  Try not to kill each other up there in Heaven.

Speaking of mothers with less-than-ideal parenting skills, tomorrow begins the murder trial of Casey Anthony, accused of having murdered her then-two year old daughter, Caylee.  Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Belvin Perry, not a man known for his sense of humor, could not have realized that the date he set, almost a year ago, would land just one day after Mother's Day.  As an attorney, I have spent the last few years mentally cringing at the performance of her lead attorney.  All I will say is that what happens from here on should be interesting.  I'm not even sure Mr. Baez knows how to pick a jury.  I don't either, as I have done bench trials my entire career (there are no jury trials in juvenile court) but then I'm not defending someone facing the death penalty.  In other words, I am not pretending to be something I am not, or claiming to be competent in an area of which I am virtually ignorant.

One Kentucky Derby spectator wouldn't mind striking up a conversation on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Since I won't have anything to do with horse racing, it's not likely I will ever be faced with the dilemma of what hat to wear to the Kentucky Derby, but I love hats, and loved looking at the pictures recently featured in the Orlando Sentinel.  I'm still trying to decipher the meaning behind some of the hats worn by female guests at the Royal Wedding, but that's got to be another blog post.

Some of the hats worn to the Derby were just downright stupid, and come to think of it, were all worn by men.  These are probably the same men who own a beer-drinking hat.

Such a sexy look

I love hats like those worn by the women in "My Fair Lady" at the Ascot Opening Race.  Many of the women at the Kentucky Derby followed that tradition, although there was one female with a Wisconsin Cheese Hat that definitely spoiled the ambience.  Here's the link to the Orlando Sentinel site if you would like to pick a favorite.

Finally, a very special Mother's Day wish to a very special mother.  Although she has never given birth, she has loved and cared for and raised eight little ones like they were her own blood.

Happy Mother's Day, Teena.  I couldn't have done it without you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tiptoe through the Pantry

If I wasn't afraid that I would, in my ridiculously overtired state, accidentally cut off a finger, I would certainly be cooking.  But I had trouble keeping my eyes open while I drove home.  Truly, operating big machinery or slicing and dicing with a santoku knife should never be done when one is not completely alert.  Maybe later, maybe tomorrow.  I have weekend duty tomorrow, so I will surely be awake for that.  I hope.

I saw this on the Facebook page of one of my high school friends, and while I'm sure it is "going around", it was too funny not to post over here as well.

Oh dearie me ... well, it is a good three hours later, I've had a lovely nap, and I'm less inclined to start cooking now than ever.  I also woke up having completely changed my idea of what to do with the chicken and eggplant ... it was going to be Greek, now it's not going to be Greek.  Good thing I was too tired to stop at Publix on the way home to pick up a chunk of kefalotiri.

I want to do something different with the eggplant, so I left the chicken in limbo (not, however, the same Limbo which is a stop on Osama bin Laden's tour of Hell) and tried combining the eggplant with some blue crab claw meat I picked up earlier in the week.  I found something as totally different from the Mediterranean flavors of tomato, garlic, and oregano as I could imagine - it involves curry and coconut milk - and is certainly worth considering.  I would still make the eggplant into oven-fried slices, but then, instead of topping them with a tomato based sauce and cheese, I would finish them with the curry crab recipe. 

Sounds good, but now what do I do with the chicken?  Back to chicken parm, that's a plan ....

.... and later, much later, our heroine awakes only to discover she has a shelter hearing in Orlando.  Zoom zoom.  But it's all good, and it led to a nice early trip to Publix, and now I am ready to organize my kitchen and my cooking.  Here's my plan for the weekend, although I make no promises regarding substantial compliance with this list:

Oven fried eggplant slices topped with curried crab and shrimp sauce
Turnip Greens
Sheryl's Easy Potato Salad and My Version (not better, just different)
Chicken Parmesan over Manicotti
Grape tomatoes, mushrooms and pesto
Peach bread (no, I haven't forgotten the peach bread)

Having cleaned out my refrigerator, frozen the good stuff and tossed the bad, I am ready to refill it with cooked goodies.

The pantry closet from the Fourth Circle of  Hell

So I couldn't find my zante currents for the curry anywhere in my pantry closet ... finally found them, along with raisins, craisins, dried blueberries, dried cherries, 52 kinds of mustard, every kind of bread crumb known to man, three different types of peanut butter, canned fruit, canned beans, dried beans, enough salad dressing to float a boat, pastas, pasta sauces, cookies, barbecue sauces, six kinds of flour ... you get the idea.  There is a certain level of disorganization which I find disturbing.  Maybe it's time to move ... the walls need painting also.

In the meantime, I got my groove back and have been cooking since this morning.  The oven fried eggplant recipe actually works, the curried crab and shrimp sauce is very tasty indeed, and the turnip greens are still cooking.  The hallmark of a good southern vegetable is being cooked for at least a couple of hours.  Trust me, it is well worth it.  There's other stuff on the stove as well, so please stop on by the recipe blog a little later today.  I hope you find something you'd like to cook, and if you do, let me know if you enjoyed it.  Despite my occasional ranting tangents, this is still a cooking blog.

Cook like there's nobody watching, and eat like it's heaven on earth.

Friday, May 6, 2011


osama bin laden burn in hell

Brkexpat's Inferno Itinerary

So, Mr. Bin Laden, how are you enjoying Hell?  How far have you gotten in your travels?  How is the weather?

We realize it is early in your journey - there ARE nine circles of Hell, you know - but there is no need to rush.  Eternity is forever, and that's a long time. So go ahead and check out the accommodations but don't get too comfortable in the vestibule or in Limbo.  Those are not places you are going to be seeing except for this one time journey.  You may think the wasps and maggots in the vestibule are pretty awful, but by the time we are done you will look back on that as the Club Med of Hell.  Just remember to keep your hands and feet out of the Acheron ... and for goodness sakes, do NOT pet Cerberus.

Perhaps you should just skip the second circle (lust) and the third circle (gluttony) because those aren't your vices.  Fifth circle is greed, something you do know about.  Maybe you can assist one of those sinners in pushing those weights, back and forth, back and forth ... but you can't stay there, you know.  We have a much more interesting punishment in mind for you.

Well, time to gather your thoughts, hike up that skirt of yours, strap on those galoshes and gird your loins, because the next trip is across the River Styx.  If you thought Charon was a surly Ferryman, wait till you meet Phlegyas!

To be continued ... 

Killing unarmed Osama bin Laden 'doesn't serve justice' – Rowan Williams

'It is important that justice is seen to done', Archbishop says reacting to the death of world's most wanted terrorist.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the killing of an unarmed Osama bin Laden by US special forces left him with a "very uncomfortable feeling".

Since 1998 Osama Bin Laden has been responsible for a series of terrorist attacks around the world

Excuse me, Archbishop Dingleberry, but the destruction of the World Trade Center left me with a very uncomfortable feeling - let's call it horrified grief - and I am not unique in that regard.  Are you suggesting we should have given this man a "sporting chance" to kill even one more American?

Another country heard from:

Pakistan's foreign secretary also raised fresh doubts about the legality of killing Bin Laden. Clutching UN security council documents, Salman Bashir said: "There are legal questions that arise in terms of the UN charter. Everyone ought to be mindful of their international obligations."

Bashir added that this "violation of sovereignty, and the modalities for combating terrorism, raises certain legal and moral issues which fall ... in the domain of the international community".

Bashir old boy, if you are lucky, the US won't go after your sorry excuse for a government for harboring a war criminal.

And for all you whiny clerical and law school professor types who just have to find fault when the US defends itself, let me assure you that Osama bin Laden did not suffer one-tenth the pain and terror experienced by every one of his three thousand victims.

Putting my soap box away ... for now.

I got sideswiped, by the way.  I had made some really good progress on the Cat's Paw Scarf during the weekend in Savannah, but then I got some news and headed to Joanne's for yarn and went off on a knitting tangent.

Never you mind what it is, or who it might be for ... the point is I got side tracked YET AGAIN.  I don't know if this is a personality defect, or my adult ADD taking over.  It's true I get distracted easily, but I was doing so well by focusing on one project, and then ... kerblooey.  Foiled again.  Sideswiped.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

L'Dor V'Dor

Jewish guilt.  It can be self-generating, you know.  I've been feeling guilty because I haven't provided any recipes for a number of days.  Then I remembered this recipe, and the lady who gave it to me.

When Rob and I moved to Central Florida, Cory was very young, but getting to the age where a formal religious education was called for.  As you might imagine, there wasn't an overabundence of synagogues to choose from.  This was one of those culture-shock moments for me, having grown up in the Five Towns section of Nassau County, New York.  Long before the area became known for its Chabad and other ultra-Orthodox communities, we still had a choice and variety of every denomination of Judaism within easy driving (and in two cases, walking) distance from my parent's home in North Woodmere.  My parents chose a Conservative synagogue, Temple Beth El of Cedarhurst, for my brother's religious education.  Rob and I were married in a Conservative synagogue, Temple Hillel of North Woodmere.  I guess I was Conservative by default.

As a teenager, and an adult, I did a lot of soul-searching regarding my religion.  The saying, "born a Jew, die a Jew" is no joke.  If you are born a Jew, and later convert to, say Roman Catholicism, and even later become Pope, when you die, you are considered Jewish.  Don't ask me to explain.  I cannot imagine being anything but Jewish; at the same time, a lot of the ritual and philosophy associated with Orthodox and some Conservative communities is extremely off-putting to me.  I was raised to respect other persons' beliefs, and so it was very difficult for me to get some of the harshest criticism from people of my own religion because I am not a Torah Jew, or even Modern Orthodox.  I do not keep kosher.  I drive and use electricity on Saturday.  I eat pork and shellfish freely and with great relish.  I have a very relaxed attitude towards God and intermarriage.  There is no one true religion.  If God did not want his people to worship in a multitude of different ways, he would not have given us free will. 

So I researched the main denominations of Judaism, and self-educated (you notice I didn't get a Hebrew school education), and decided I was comfortable being affiliated with Reform Judaism.  Not because I could choose to eat treif and do work on Shabbos, but because Reform Judaism stood for absolute equality among it's members, was the first denomination to allow females to became cantors, to ordain female rabbis, and to offer open arms to intermarried families and gay, lesbian, and transgender Jews.  Reform Judaism emphasized ethics, good deeds, charity, inclusion, and outreach.

All of which inevitably led us to accept an invitation from another fine lady, named Shirley Miller, to attend services at Congregation Shalom Aleichem, a small Reform congregation at the outer edges of Kissimmee.  This was the beginning of an association that lasted a number of years, and they were good years.

Community seder at Congregation Shalom Aleichem, 1994

Sheila Peacock was a member of that congregation, a long-divorced lady who had led a busy and fascinating life before retiring to Central Florida in 1992 to be near family, specifically her twin sister.  Which is what brought Sheila to CSA, as her sister and brother-in-law were among the founding members of that tiny little congregation. 

It was Sheila who brought her bean salad to one of our potluck occasions, and who graciously provided me the recipe.  This dear (and delightfully feisty) lady passed away in February of 2010 and is remembered with much fondness.

Cory portrayed Mordecai in the CSA Hebrew School's presentation of the story of Esther, Purim 1996 or -97.

I have to share her obituary with you because it was, like the lady herself, incredibly unique:

PEACOCK, SHEILA RUTH, passed away at her home on February 1, 2010. She was born in Queens NY on October 8, 1935. She lived in NY until she was seventeen and the family moved to Daytona Beach. Sheila attended the University of Florida.. Married in 1955 she spent time living in Bradenton, Miami and the Panama Canal Zone finally ending up in Washington DC. Her career as a vibrant single woman in Washington had a number of twists and turns and she retired from the Defense industry in 1992. She retired to Kissimmee to be near her sister. She relished her early retirement, finding Kissimmee a very diverse and friendly town. She was passionate, generous and had a wicked sense of humor. Shoe sales persons all over Florida will mourn her passing. She is survived by her beloved daughter Rachel; and her dearest son-in-law Leonard Ceci; dear sister Carol Lowenstein; and brother-in-law Harry; nieces and nephews Berna Lowenstein, Karen Pridemore, David Lowenstein, Jan Reed, Helen and Sam Sainker and their spouses and children. In lieu of flowers, her family requests donations to Congregation Shalom Alechiem, PO Box 42275, Kissimmee FL 34742.
Published in the Orlando Sentinel on February 4, 2010

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Old Friends I'd Never Met

My dogs are spoiled.  I knew it had gotten bad when my son was disappointed because the leftover McNuggets that he had been eyeing, ever since I'd stashed them in the refrigerator, became the dogs' special treat.  Apparently he'd had plans for my leftover lunch which did not include sharing them with Teena, Woody, or Indy.  I definitely do not plan on telling him that they also got some of the pasta from the leftovers of Monday night's dinner at Bahama Breeze.

Just one more comment from the Osama bin Laden story - my Cousin Gary, an extremely witty man, also known in some circles as The Wizard of Oz, had this posted on his Facebook page:  "Gary likes And That's how the USA outdoes a Royal Wedding."  And here I thought I was being cynical!

Okay, one more comment, this time posted by my friend Pattie in Boston:

And now, Mr. President, if you could do something about gas prices, I might even vote for you in the next election.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein has written quite a bit about time travel, and in more than one of his novels, suggests that a whole new language is needed to adequately express where and, more importantly, when someone is, without perpetrating a temporal paradox.  Because most of his characters find themselves "looped" - traveling within their own timelines - this is no easy task.  Heinlein is, of course, the author of the absolutely bizarre short story "__All You Zombies__", in which the protagonist turns out to be his own mother and father.

While this post is not about anything quite so headache-inducing, it is about old friends I'd never met.  Call it a cyberspace paradox.  I'm certain that any number of you who spend any amount of time online have had the same experience.

Which is what led to a wonderful evening with Nissy, Mrs. Nissy, Bushwacker, Old Jedi, and Mrs. Jedi.  And of course, Brkexpat, the Bear, and Mr. Brkexpat.

What's that, you say?  Why yes, now that you mention it, we were all incognito!

About 12, maybe 13 years ago, I discovered the public discussion forums over at the Orlando Sentinel.  In order to post online, I needed a screen nick, and at that moment "brkexpat" was born.  I think it was probably my husband who reminded me that I already had a nickname of many years, The Bear (another blog post, I promise), and so I became officially brkexpat, the Bear.  What fun to have real-time discussions with perfect strangers!  We only knew each other by our screen nicks ... after years went by, we got to know more about each other.  What part of the country we lived in.  How many people in our family.  Special interests.  Political opinions.   

Sometimes we fought, bitterly.  I was actually sued by a professional gadfly for posting that he was antisemitic - which he was - which he claimed had killed his political aspirations.  To cut a very long story short, he didn't win and I didn't lose.  After that I was a lot more careful about personal information, as I didn't need any more process servers knocking at my door.  In time, the Sentinel board became very restrictive, and almost all of us moved over to Delphi to check out their forums, and in some cases, open our own.  I've had several forums there over the years, but I've closed them all - no interest in herding cats anymore.  Political discussions, very explosive.  But one person who has done it for a long time, and done it well, is the gentleman who calls himself the Nisseman - Nissy for short.  I'm not sure why Nissy was on a Florida site, but when we all left the Sentinel for Delphi, he came right along.  Nissy and I were two of the posters who battled quite a bit over matters that mattered to each of us, but somehow, as nasty as we got back then, we still maintained a soft spot for each other. 

Some of the people I met early on.  Can't explain how or why, but we just knew the other was trustworthy.  Oh, we didn't take stupid chances - always met in public places, and for me, first time, always with my husband around.  He's a much better judge of character than I am.  So there was Onyx and Mark in person, and Geema and Cubby on the phone.  During one of our trips to D.C., Mark took us on the most wonderful tour.  Seeing it from a local's viewpoint was a gift.  Onyx and I still meet for drinks occasionally and to catch up on the most interesting gossip ever.  Further deponent sayeth naught. 

Most of the folks I've never met, usually because of distance.  I have online friends of many year's vintage and they live all over the U.S. and Canada.  This group, though, was mostly local, except for Nissy, who was living my idea of the perfect path to a great retirement.  Driving cross country from California, heading north and south and then north again, only to head down towards his final U.S. destination in southern Florida.  Visiting friends and family and seeing sights they hadn't seen before ... before they moved to Norway.  Yeah, Norway.  Isn't that cool?  (No, really.)  And southern Florida isn't the last stop before Norway; there is a 15 day trans-Atlantic cruise which, if I remember correctly, ends in the Netherlands, and then there are a few more stops before reaching the most northern tip of Denmark (Home of Hamlet, for you Shakespearephiles) to catch the ferry to Norway.  What a wonderful way to wrap up things here in the States and start a new life.

The other two gentlemen are local, Central Floridians like myself.  One I had met before, the big sweet guy known as Old Jedi.  I know his real name, and occasionally remember to use it, but mostly, he's Jedi.  And Bushwacker, another sweet guy, ex-military who was also a military brat, living and moving all over the U.S., every two years.  He loved it.  Those of us who had spouses brought them with us, and I would have liked to catch a glimpse of their faces when three grown men greeted me with open arms, shouting out, "it's Miss Bear!  I have to give Miss Bear a hug!  I can't believe I am finally meeting the Bear!"  (I'm guessing here that The Bear is a lot easier to pronounce than brkexpat.  No problem, I answer to both names.)  We had a great dinner at Bahama Breeze, talked each other's ears off, and took a lot of pictures.  Mine are not so great because of the lighting, but you get the idea:

A little bad lighting, and we are so incognito ...

I can't believe how lucky I was to meet each of them.  I have more old friends I've never met, like the other members of The Nice Girls - great gals with names like Muppetmel, Lisa Saprano, and Derb ... and two ladies named Jenny and Judy.  One day, we are all going to make it to the Charleston Tea Plantation and spend quality time together.  I promise to blog about it.

Too tired to cook, and too many leftovers to need to do so ... all in good time, young grasshoppers.  Peach bread is still on the brain, now just have to get it on the tongue.

Speaking of food, this was the first time we'd gone to Bahama Breeze, and I was favorably impressed.  For starters, Mrs. Jedi ordered the crab, shrimp, mango and avocado stack.  It was visually gorgeous, and she reported it delicious. Jedi ordered Bahamian Seafood Chowder, and since he was sitting next to me, I was able to enjoy the aroma, almost as much as he enjoyed the soup.  For the main dish, I ordered Calypso Shrimp Linguine.  This chef knew how to use spice to enhance, rather than to cause physical and emotional harm.  It was delicious, so much so that I ate more than I normally would.  There were still leftovers, which Cory shkoffed up Tuesday night.  Rob had a wood grilled ahi tuna dish.  I didn't catch what everyone else had - I know Nissy ordered tilapia and Bushwacker order a steak - but everyone was a clean plate ranger and that's a good sign.  The staff is excellent and they have complimentary valet parking which is a real convenience. 

Last, but by no means least, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETHEART!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Time Stop

Today is Monday and it is 10:12 at night.  I usually start writing my blog posts late at night and then actually publish them just past midnight ... which is what I planned on doing yesterday, having caught up by posting Sunday's long and winding road through Savannah.  I almost immediately started another post to publish in the wee hours of Monday morning.  I had a topic in mind, something that had been bugging me for a while, and I actually got the opening lines posted.  And then time stopped.

Time for a rant of hellacious proportions.  Why do some chefs feel that the way to a customer's heart is through their heartburn?

Here is what happened.  I had been watching "Iron Chef America", and had no clue what else was going on in the world.  It wasn't until I shut off the television and went back to the computer to check Facebook when I realized everyone was posting about the same thing.  So I turned on CNN to commune with Wolf Blitzer, and I waited patiently for the President to address the nation.  He was an hour late.  Shades of Bill Clinton and my favorite judge.

But before that ... Osama bin Laden is dead.  It is official, the President has announced it.  And for once, I am speechless.  All I can think of is "and may he rot in hell for all eternity."  Somehow, right now, I can't think beyond that.

Osama Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda terror boss who plotted and funded the 9/11 attacks, <a href="" target="_blank">was killed</a> in a 40-minute gun battle with U.S. troops, President Obama announced.

Sources say Bin Laden was shot in the side of the head after he and his guards resisted an assault Sunday by a U.S. special operations team that raided his compound in Pakistan.
One of Bin Laden's sons, Hamza, two other men and a woman used as a human shield also were killed in the pre-dawn raid pulled off by Navy SEALS and CIA operatives, officials said.
<br><Br>Above, the Daily News released its front cover of the historic day.<br><Br>BY JOANNA SLOAME
The New York Daily News steals my thoughts and makes a headline out of them

And that was as far as I was able to get, and that is why there was no post on Monday.  All day today, in between court hearings and the drafting of a particularly gnarly petition, my mind was a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

Why does Taft-Vineland Road not end in Vineland?  What was the county thinking when they finally finished the road after 20 years, but only went as far as Williamsburg?  Why do all roads lead to Vineland?  What is so important about Vineland?  And where is Vineland, anyway?

I want to make a peach bread.  I've been thinking about this since Evelyn mentioned peach bread last Thursday, although peaches are barely in season and conspicuously unavailable, even in Georgia.  I have ideas on how I would make a peach bread. Wait, how about macaroni and cheese?  Seafood macaroni and cheese?  And chicken, I have to cook some chicken.  I haven't cooked anything in four days and I'm going mad, I tell you.

Osama bin Laden is dead.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  Too little, too late.

Why do so many chefs seriously overseason their food?  I'm not talking salt and pepper, I'm talking chili peppers and similar weapons of mass destruction that make a dish totally unpalatable.  Come on, I'm not some testosterone-laden chili head seeking an endorphin rush, and I'm not Adam Richman or Aaron Sanchez trying to prove I can scarf down chicken wings whose sauce measures in the millions of Scovill units, because it is good for ratings.  I am a middle-aged lady who likes flavorful food, does not need an endorphin rush and would prefer to keep the roof of my mouth and my tastebuds intact.

Osama is dead.  And so long after the fact, that will not bring back Mike Opperman or the three thousand others who died with him that terrible day.  We should have carpet-bombed Afghanistan on September 12th.  We should have never trusted Pakistan.  We should have never engaged in the war in Iraq while Osama still breathed.  We wasted time, we wasted resources, we wasted human lives, and we lost focus.

It was such a lovely day, I had my lunch under a tree.  Sunny and breezy, a perfect combination.  I had a strange craving for Papa John's pizza, but that wasn't possible so I had the next best thing:

Combos Pepperoni Pizza Cracker 7 Oz

Finally, finally, Amazon has started making Ellery Queen novels available on Kindle.  I need a break from forensic mysteries.  No more blood and guts and graphic descriptions of torture and autopsies, at least for a little while.  Ah, Kindle, take me back to the halcyon days of the thirties, when Ellery Queen was king of the mystery writers.  And while you're at it, and don't think I'm ungrateful that you are finally publishing Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series, but could you make the older novels available, the prewar stuff before Wolfe got a television?

Osama is dead.  Or is he?  At this point, I don't think I care.  If I am wrong, and if this brings closure to the families who lost their loved ones that day, then I am glad for them.  They deserve whatever peace of mind they can get.  If only this had happened 10 years ago.  Because everything bad that has happened to this country, to our economy, to our morale, to our self-esteem, happened that terrible day, and I'm not sure that killing him now and sending him to a watery grave is enough to fix it, or at least set us on the road to recovery.

Since when does Greek food have an abundance of spice?  What was Cat Cora thinking when she poured so much heat into, of all things, a lamb meatball that I could not eat beyond the first bite?  Spicy hot Greek food?  I've eaten in Greece, and that's not the way they do it there.  Even fast food restaurants have gone nuts flinging ultra hot sauces on their chicken.  Look, I expect Korean food to be incendiary, perhaps needlessly so, but that tradition is a thousand years in the making.  I know what to eat and what to avoid (although I still think they could make a milder kimchee if they wanted to) and I also know that if I am eating Jewish cooking, or most Italian, or Southern or French, I am not going to be blown out of the water.  And that list should include Greek cooking. So I haven't gone back since I cried over the meatballs. 

Real Greek food rocks, and that is why we are smiling - Athens, 2005

As I said to one of my colleagues this morning, I don't want to sound cynical, but I can't help but think the timing of this was right in line with the beginning of the President's reelection campaign.  Turns out he was just as cynical.

I don't mean to be incoherent, or sound like Gracie Allen on speed.  But that's the kind of day it has been, although I must say it had a spectacular ending (but that's another blog post.)  I am gearing up to cook again, because I now have the ingredients to attempt the peach bread, and I have plans involving a male eggplant, some Perdue chicken breasts, pepper jack cheese and claw crabmeat.  It should be interesting.

Perhaps I should not over-analyze or fall into the trap of suspicion, cynicism, and ennui.  President Obama spoke well, and said the right words at the right time (okay, he was an hour late).  And as always, President Clinton summed it up the best:

Statement by President Bill Clinton on Monday, May 2, 2011 at 9:40pm
"This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaida’s other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and cooperation for our children.

I congratulate the President, the National Security team, and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaida attacks."

But maybe it was really my son who said it best:  "So a score was settled - against one man. I'd take comfort in that if only it weren't for the fact that there is still an army of thousands over there, waiting."

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I was incognito on Friday, and not happy about it at all. 

Did I say incognito?  I meant incommunicado, but I said incognito.  Deliberately.

Okay, there's a story to this (there's always a story) so let's get it over with:  for many years, my mother and her sister, my Aunt Ceil, lived just a few miles from each other in the Fort Lauderdale area.  My aunt had been widowed a very long time, and as the years went on, and my cousin grew up and moved out, she became much more solitary.  My mother, who was widowed about 20 years later, had always been a solitary, antisocial creature, and needless to say, they almost never left their respective domiciles, and they did not see each other often despite living fairly close.  Yes, they both had cars, but remember, my mother had given up driving once I had my license, and my Aunt Ceil should not have been driving because her eyesight was horrible.  Fortunately, her Vietnam-era Chevy Nova knew the way to the Publix on West Oakland Park Boulevard, independent of her ability to see clearly enough to navigate.  I think that eventually my cousin pried her driver's license and the car keys from her determined hands, and the people of Broward County gave a collective sigh of relief. 

Aunt Ceil, Pop, Uncle Marty, and Mom (sometime between 1979-1982)

So they did try to keep in touch by telephone, but apparently there were rules for that sort of thing.  My mother explained the rules to me every single time I saw her, or called her, and asked how Aunt Ceil was doing.  To my credit - and God and my husband know I had no patience for my mother - I never once stopped her or said, "yeah ma, you told me that last week."  And I never corrected her, because she was very sensitive about being corrected, although she was completely insensitive when it came to doing the correcting.

So Mom would say, "your aunt is fine.  You know how she is.  She never comes to see me, although she drives.  So I try to call her but I can't call her between 1:00 and 4:00 because that's when she watches her stories.  When her stories are on, she won't answer the door or pick up the phone.  She becomes incognito!  She pulls the blinds down, goes in her room and watches her stories.  Can you believe she is completely incognito for those three hours!"

I think once I did say to her, "ma, you mean incommunicado, don't you?"  And she must have been in a good mood, because she laughed and said, "yes, that too.  But Aunt Ceil calls it incognito."  So that was the last time I mentioned incommunicado, because her mood was not always good.  It was a small price to pay for peace.

The "stories", of course, were the soap operas my Aunt Ceil had followed faithfully since some of them had been on the radio.  If I remember correctly, she was a devotee of the CBS soaps, and that would have been The Edge of Night, As the World Turns, and Search for Tomorrow.  My mother and I followed the NBC soaps (although we never went incognito) because those CBS shows were so old and well established, I couldn't get into them, while I started watching about the time shows like Another World, Days of Our Lives, and The Doctors first came on the air.

Anyway, I was incognito on Friday because not only could I not bring my laptop with me to Savannah, my iPhone screen also went black.  First it froze and then after an hour of that, it went gray.  The iPhone worked if somebody called me, but I couldn't see what it was doing, and I couldn't access any of my apps.  I feared, and reasonably so, that I was responsible for this latest electrical travesty, as I am one of those people who cannot wear watches because I somehow mess them up.  I guess I'm electric or something.  This freaked me out, because that iPhone has my life on it, which maybe is not such a good idea in retrospect.  And while I may not like talking on the phone, I definitely do not like being incognito, without access to Facebook, email, internet and texting in addition to my iPod, my books, the weather and all that other good stuff.  Fortunately, Rob found an AT&T store near our hotel (using his iPhone, ha ha) and the very nice people there fixed it in no time.  And then, sort of as a reward for suffering through the fright of being rendered incognito, we spotted an Original Pancake House right near the AT&T, and made plans for Sunday breakfast.

We had an absolutely lovely weekend (except for the incognito incident) in one of the loveliest cities in the United States.  If you have never visited Savannah, I highly recommend it.  I also recommend checking out hotels that are outside the historic downtown area, as the difference in rates is shocking.  You can easily drive from your hotel to downtown, park in one of the public parking garages for a reasonable fee, and walk along the riverfront or over to City Market.  That way, you will have some money left to buy pralines and chocolate gophers (sort of like a chocolate turtle, only better), or spend your savings at the Paula Deen store next to The Lady and Sons.  Also if you have never been there before, plan on spending on a trolley tour, the best way to see that part of the city.

And then there is the food ... this is a food blog, right?  I admit, the first time we headed to Savannah was to try out The Lady and Sons.  This was in the earlier days of Food Network, and it was exciting when one of the celebrity chefs had a restaurant near enough to try.  The only thing I don't like about The Lady is that you cannot make a reservation unless you are a party of 10 or more, and it is not always convenient or comfortable to show up at 9:30 in the morning to put your name on a list for lunch.  That being said, we have been there a number of times over the years, and she never disappoints.  The food is wonderful (except the grits.  I still don't get grits and I never will) and the restaurant is absolutely charming.  We have also eaten countless times in Uncle Bubba's Oyster House.  The chargrilled oysters are on my list of foods to include as part of my last meal on earth. 

I suppose I could spend the rest of my life just eating at those two restaurants, but people would talk, and besides, Savannah is so much more than just Paula Deen.

By the way, I've been home about 2 hours, it's Sunday, and I'm not cooking.  This is making me feel all weirded out.  I can't help but feel I should be frying a green tomato or making some mac and cheese.  I also have peach bread on the brain, and I have an idea but none of the ingredients.

b. matthew's - left is a stock picture, right is one I took from our table of the cozy little nook

We have eaten at other restaurants in the past, notably Vic's on the River and The Pirate's House.  Both were terrific.  We tried the buffet at The Pirate's House, and I have to say that the food was a little bit better than the same food on the buffet at The Lady, and The Pirate takes reservations, by phone and through Open Table.  This time we decided to try b. matthew's eatery which was recommended by the same friends who recommended The Pirate's House.  This was somewhat different than the other restaurants we usually ate in, but it was excellent as well.  Rob ordered the braised lamb shank with white truffle risotto, and I ordered the shrimp and scallop burger with a side of bacon blue cheese pasta salad.  Rob loved his, especially the risotto, and I very much liked what I tasted of mine, which was the usual bite of this, smidge of that.  We ordered cocktails, as it was our anniversary, and Rob pronounced his martini as perfect, the way it is supposed to be made.  I decided to pass on my usual cosmopolitan, and instead ordered an espresso martini which tasted like a Black Russian, only better:

b. matthew's also serves a baguette-like bread with honey almond butter.  I could have made my whole meal out of that bread and butter and my espresso martini.  Come to think of it, I almost did.  And it was (Tony the Tiger voice here) GRRRREAT!

The restaurant is in one of the older buildings in town, very funky inside and out, in a good way.  It is located on Bay Street, across from the riverfront, and we were able to enjoy a very pleasant postprandial stroll.  Perfect weather.  Perfect anniversary.

That was Saturday evening, after the tournament and after Rob won two awards in sparring and combat weapons.  Not too shabby!  Very proud of my boy.  Looks like this will be the last tournament until Worlds in Little Rock and then Atlanta has theirs in July.  Keep kickin' butt, honey!

Friday night we stayed close to the hotel, which meant we were in southside Savannah.  We've stayed in this area three or four times in the past, and twice at the same hotel, which is one of the Marriott brands.  It's a good location, with places to eat, to shop, to get one's iPhone fixed in a hurry, and to get Starbucks.  So for Friday night dinner, we decided to try Sticky Fingers Smokehouse on Abercorn Street.  It's a chain, but it's a great chain.  I ordered the small combo with pulled pork, ribs, mashed potatoes and collard greens.  Rob ordered the larger combo with ribs, pulled pork, smoked sausage, fried corn, and barbecue beans.  We've eaten a lot of barbecue over the years, and this was awesome, especially the ribs.  You can get the ribs cooked with or without sauce, and we went without, so we could check out the sauces on the table.  Never mind the habanero ... neither one of us was in the mood to scorch our tastebuds ... but we tried the other four, and decided the Carolina Sweet and the Carolina Classic (a mustard based sauce) were our favorites.  They use a lot of their signature dry rub, and I'm guessing they renew the application after the ribs are almost done, and the taste is terrific.  It looks like they have two locations in Jacksonville, Florida (who knew?) as well as Savannah, Augusta, Macon, and all over South Carolina.  We will be going back.

Sticky Fingers Savannah
This is also someone else's photo of the food at Sticky Fingers.  I think I was traumatized by the incognito incident and forgot to take pictures on Friday.

If you have never eaten in an Original Pancake House, you've missed a real treat.  I am wearing down, but I will leave you with just two words:  Apple Pancake.

Cook like there's nobody watching, and eat like it's heaven on earth.