Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Three Years Later...

I'm not sure what this purple groundcover is - I think it might be lantana - but I am shocked to see it in my front yard.  We've never had flowers like this is the yard.

Granted, my front yard looks like it belongs to an abandoned home, but at least there's finally some color in it.  I am convinced it's from the seeds we planted a few years ago.

I like the color.  I don't like the randomness of the plants, but at least it's not completely brown out there.  
It's almost worth the three years I had to wait for them to show up.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2018: A Spring Moment
2017: In The Heart Of Amish Country
2016: A Spark Of Male Bonding
2015: A-MAZ-ING
2014: Ghosts Of Retail
2013: Orange Is The Devil
2012: Sixteen Hundred Miles Makes All The Difference
2011: In Need Of Some Color
2010: 122 Years And Counting
2009: Sixteen Days Old
2008: Racism Comes With A Convenient Handle
2007: Evening Tide
2006: Glittering Pasties And Swinging Tassles
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Motoring With A Saint

St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and motorists in the Catholic faith.  

When I was growing up, my grandfather had this St. Christopher double medallion in his Cadillac.  It's made of heavy metal, stamped "Italy" near the bottom of the cross, and was with him and my grandmother everywhere they drove.

I'm in possession of this medal now.  I just came across it as I was organizing my office cabinets.  I'm not any more religious today than I was 40 years ago, but I am sentimental so this St. Christopher medal will be traveling with us in the new truck.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2018: The Three Rs In Strawberry
2017: My America

2016: Addictive Retro Fun
2015: Boldface
2014: Ciudad Juárez En La Noche
2013: Live It Up!
2012: The Last Supper
2011: New York Always Stands Out
2010: Visitor Number 933 To Room 525
2009: Makes A Nice Desktop
2008: Leaning Tower Of Texas
2007: It Should Be Called “Thimble Shot”
2006: Southern Hideaway
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Hard Labor

Today I set aside my day to make marinara sauce, fry eggplant, and then assemble the fried eggplant with sauce and mozzarella cheese for the eggplant parmigiana that' going to be my contribution to Easter dinner tomorrow at my brother's house. My brother's mother-in-law is making stuffed shells and baked ziti with sausage, my sister-in-law is picking up fresh baguettes and cheesecake (our favorite from Costco!), and my mother is making the famous salad my nephews love so much.

I used Bon Appétit's recipe for both the marinara sauce and the eggplant parmigiana.  I've never used a recipe for this dish but I've been saving this particular recipe for some time now and since the eggplant parmigiana was a special request, I figured I'd give it a go.

I decided to use my Le Creuset Dutch Oven.  I needed the room since I was tripling the recipe (this pot is 15.5 quarts) and I was going to be putting it in the oven for 3 hours, and this dutch oven is made for just that.  You can see the darkening around the inside where it bubbled up, then burnt off.  
While the marinara cooked in the oven, I peeled, sliced, and salted my eggplant.  I've made eggplant parmigiana countless times in my life and have never salted the eggplant, but the recipe called for it, so I did.  

I had over eight pounds of eggplant.  The recipe calls for the slices to be 1/2" to 3/4" but I don't like it that thick, so I sliced them about 1/4" thick.  I laid the slices on a cookie sheet, salted them with kosher salt, and covered them with paper towels.  I continued that process until I had ten stacked layers.  I put another cookie sheet on top and had Ed weigh the entire pile down with an extremely heavy toolbox.  The process squeezes the excess water out of the eggplant.  I left them like that for an hour.  

Once they were done, I started my breading process.  Flour, egg, breadcrumbs.  Flour, egg, breadcrumbs.  Flour, egg, breadcrumbs.  You get the idea.  I did that about 100 times.
While I was doing that mind-numbing task, the marinara finishes cooking.  I took it out of the oven and set it aside to cool.  

Look at this gorgeous sauce.  It tasted fantastic.  I think I'm going to use this recipe for the rest of my life.  It's the best marinara I've ever made.  I didn't use the anchovies (I know it adds umami, but I still think they taste fishy) but the red pepper flakes and dry white wine is not something I've ever added to a marinara and I think it made all the difference.  I can't get over the flavor of this sauce!
Once I was done breading a decent amount of eggplant, I started frying.  I didn't want to be there all night and this was already taking too long.  
I had three frying pans going.  I had so much eggplant to bread that rather than waiting for it all to be done before frying, I did both at once.  The pile of eggplant didn't seem to be getting any smaller and I'd already been at it for three hours.
I decided to do a taste test - it was also time for lunch - so I took a few warm, crispy eggplant cutlets, cut a few slices of fresh mozzarella, and then spooned the still hot sauce over it.  It was sort of a deconstructed eggplant parm and it was amazing.
After I finished my quick taste test/lunch, I got back to frying.  I fried and stacked until I was done.  Once everything was fried up, I assembled my eggplant parmigiana pans. Eggplant, sauce, grated cheese, shredded mozzarella, and repeat.  I filled three 13" x 9" pans and one 8" x 8" pan.  
The entire process from beginning to end, which included washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, took more than seven hours.  SEVEN HOURS.  


I only took two short breaks - one to eat, and one to sit because I thought I was going to die from the non-stop standing and cooking.

I love eggplant.  A LOT.  And eggplant parmigiana is one of my favorites.  But like chicken cutlets, the work involved is insane.  I think it's worth it.  Especially when I'm eating it.  But at that moment, and any other moment I'm craving this dish, I don't remember how much work is involved.

Like gnocchi, I think this is going to have to be one of those dishes I have to eat in a restaurant.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

2018: Heading To The Tall Pines
2017: They Nestled The Produce On Beds Of Kale
2016: Take It To Ramon
2015: California Field
2014: Happy Easter!
2013: A Tree Grows In A Truck Stop
2012: The Herb Whisperer
2011: Turning Tables With Adele
2010: A Different Kind Of Dumpster Diving
2009: Federal Glow
2008: My Mother Is An Oxymoron
2007: The Restroom Shell Game
2006: The Pressure
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Mise En Place

I'm all set with ingredients for my Easter eggplant parmigiana.  I plan on making it tomorrow.  

Eight pounds of eggplant.  

Not really looking forward to all the work but I know the end result will be worth it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2018: Keeping Time In The County Seat
2017: On Your Mark
2016: Always Be A Moose
2015: Where The Good Girls Run Into Trouble
2014: Feed The Children Of The World
2013: Burst Of Power
2012: If This Worked, I’d Become A Cannibal
2011: How I While Away The Hours
2010: Incredibly Average, Yet Heroic If Necessary
2009: May I Take A Message?
2008: Doing The Speed Limit In Your Sleep
2007: Now I Can Go Back To Watching The Show
2006: Ten Of Life’s Simplest Pleasures
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

One Last Grasp At The Sky

We have another century plant on our property coming to the end of its life after being on our property for almost 40 years. 
Just like the last one a few years ago in our front yard, the center stalk sprouted up suddenly.  I know it's not possible for it to grow twenty feet overnight, but that's what it seemed like.  Magically, this big asparagus-like spear was just there.
Once the stalk flowers, the entire plant will die.  And this plant, which has been on our property for decades, will be gone.   

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2018: Diner For One
2017: An Actual Manic Monday
2016: Sunday Reading
2015: Do You Give Good Internet? I'll Be Right There.
2014: Where Are We?
2013: Where You'd Go For Camel Repair
2012: The Color Of Happy
2011: Taking Possession Of The Sound
2010: The Bridge People
2009: Knocking Us Off One Candy Bar At A Time
2008: How To Entertain Yourself When Hanging Out With Sight Impaired Adults
2007: Is It REALLY Such A Mystery??
2006: Heading South And Going Country
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Soup In A Golden Bowl

While going organizing some of our Europe photos, I came across these pictures reminding me of our first ever business class flight.  This was the "chef" on our flight - maybe he was also a flight attendant, maybe he was also a co-pilot, I don't know, I didn't look very close at everyone as I was too busy reading the menu and then enjoying the food - who came around and actually took our order for our meal.  

Once they got our orders, they brought out bread with accompaniments - a little bottle of olive oil, soft spreadable butter, salt & pepper (in the little onion-domed shakers - I love the one with the gold top!), and an herb mixture that I added my olive oil to.  The bread kept coming, too.  They'd make rounds with the bread basket, waving tongs in front of you pointing to delicious rolls - seeded, multi-grain, sourdough.  Clearly, they knew my weak spot. 
I'll tell you right now, you won't go hungry in business class.  Turkish Airlines did not stop feeding us.  From the minute we stepped foot in the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX airport, to the moment we got on the plane, there was food.  

When we were handed the menu for dinner, we groaned.  More food??  But we had to choose dinner, which would be served once we got in the air, and then breakfast for the next morning.

Here you can take a look at the dinner menu.  It was printed in Turkish and English, and you were allowed to have anything we wanted - four appetizers, two entrees, three desserts, whatever.   

Dinner choices here on the right side of the three-fold menu.
Breakfast choices here on the left.
In this photo taken by MacG, who was sitting behind us, I'm being served soup in a gold-rimmed bowl.  To the right of Ed is the trolley with the assorted canapés.  You just point at what you want, and they put it on a plate for you.  
Here are some of the appetizers - soup in that beautiful gold-rimmed bowl, cherry tomatoes with chunks of cheese, a coconut battered prawn, and a little bit of salad.
When we go to Europe again - and I hope it's 2020 - I honestly don't think I'll be able to fly any other class of service.  It's going to have to be a business class or first class flight.  I'll use every point, every perk, every trick I can pull to get that ticket.  Not only is the travel for the long distance more comfortable, but the food is fantastic.

They even have snacks for when you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  That's a pretty good perk. 

Of course, it's a little different than standing in front of an open refrigerator in your underwear, like you do at home, but I'll take a midnight Snickers bar any day of the week on an airplane.

Time to start making future travel plans!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
2018: Where The Elks Of Globe Went To Gather
2017: For All The Real Easter Lovers Out There
2016: Round Trip
2015: A Delicious Bridge And Tunnel
2014: More Important Than Taxes
2013: Stadium Seating
2012: Where Ed Was Found Roaming The Aisles
2011: If You Happen To Have A Few Hundred Million Lying Around, Have I Got A Deal For You
2010: Another Day At The Port
2009: Buggin’ Out
2008: Hangin’ Out With Ray Stoker Jr.
2007: Sunset On The Move
2006: Happy Easter
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Our Lady Of Paris

Today we learned there was a fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.  The structure, built in the 12th century, draws 13 million visitors each year.

When we were in Paris, we passed by the cathedral on our open bus tour but didn't go in since there were other things I wanted to see in our short time there.  Now I kinda regret missing it.

President Emmanuel Macron said they'll rebuild.  Paris will be watching the repair of their lady.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2018: Hand In Hand
2017: Grain Grinder
2016: My Number One Man Next To Our Number One Tree
2015: The Eggplant Link Is The Tastiest
2014: Compliance By Guilt
2013: The Difference A Zero Makes
2012: Pre-Digital
2011: The Sun Sets On The Roughrider State
2010: Diamond Studded Proof
2009: How A Book Defies Its Cover
2008: How To Up Your Chances For A Sweet Monkey Lovin’ Romp
2007: Activities Director
2006: Ah, But It Is SO Worth It
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Art Of Clog Making

This is the craftsmen who gave the clog-making demonstration for us at the Kooijman Wooden Shoe Workshop at Zaanse Schans located about 12 miles (20 km) outside of Amsterdam, Netherlands. 
Although originally made by hand, the workshop uses antique machines to make wooden shoes the same way they were made a hundred years ago.

Each clog starts as a block of wood - like a chunk of a 4" x 4" - and finishes as a wearable shoe.  From log to clog.
The Kooijman workshop, located at Zaanse Schans, also houses a wooden clog museum.  They include everything from church clogs to rollerskate clogs to rhinestone-encrusted clogs.  They have one of the largest collections of clogs in the Netherlands.
The machines operate in a similar fashion to the way a key is made - they have one shoe in the machine already, to use as a template - and the machine follows the lines of that shoe to create another one. Then the shoe is hollowed out by another tool on the machine, which the craftsman manipulates to carve out the place for the foot.
The wood used for the shoe is wet - in order to work the wood, it has to be made up of approximately 60% water - and when the demonstration was over the shoemaker held the shoe to his lips and blew into it.  Water dripped from the pores of the wood, showing how much moisture the wood held.
The shoes are then set aside to thoroughly dry before they're hand-painted and sold to tourists looking to walk in the footsteps of the Dutch!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2018: Beauty Prevails
2017: Approaching The Future Of Space Travel
2016: Hmeep Hmeep!
2015: Spring In The Sky
2014: Power To The Tree
2013: For Mommy
2012: There’s Always Room For La Dolce Vita
2011: Drop It Like It’s Hot
2010: The Art Of Being Tardy
2009: Vantage Point
2008: Cape Cahd Hahba
2007: Waxing Brilliant
2006: Seven! Seven! Seven! Seven! Seveeeeennnn!
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Chill Out, They're Fine

The first time I saw unrefrigerated eggs in a grocery store was in a small village in Italy in 2010.  They were just on a shelf, next to the bread.  Kinda freaked me out.  

Dairy, not refrigerated?? What's wrong with these Italians??

Then, last year on our trip to France, I saw the same thing.  These eggs, in the photo above, just sitting in their cartons, on a shelf in the corner, no chill to be felt anywhere.

The first time in Italy, I had no idea why.  I couldn't even come up with a good guess.  Well, other than thinking, people collect eggs, warm, right from under the chicken's ass and then they use them, right? So how bad can it be? 

Still.  It was weird to me.  I was raised with refrigerated eggs, so I had to do a little research.  And once I did, I felt a teensy bit smarter and not as freaked out.  And frankly, a little stupid to not have known.  

So this time, armed with my knowledge, when I saw those eggs in France I just looked at them and shrugged.  Eh, eggs in a corner.  No biggie.

Read this piece to find out 
Why The U.S. Chills Its Eggs And Most Of The World Doesn't.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2016: Right Of Way
2017: Not A Time For Restful Sleep
2016: Yellow Pop
2015: Union Wharf
2014: Mysterious Exercise
2013: Doris Day Spends The Weekend In Texas
2012: Evening Ball
2011: Taxes And Ta-Tas
2010: Ah, The Subtle Contrasts Of New Jersey
2009: A Fishy Pishy Is Never Dishy
2008: Before The Luck Ran Out
2006: Five Guys I’m In Love With This Week
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Jammin' With The Pamplemousse

I'm definitely making this.

I'm not a drinker, but I love grapefruit and I love jam.

My at-home time is getting busier by the day.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Who Dat?

2017: Nest
2016: Working On The Railroad

2015: There's A Killer Whale On My Sightseeing List
2014: You Look Hungry, Take These For Later
2013: A Dumpster Diver's Dream
2012: Reigning Over Sitting 300 Days A Year
2011: Raining In Baltimore
2010: Back That Ass Up
2009: Shaved, Slivered, Sliced, Grated, Chunked, And Best Of All, In Meatballs
2008: Too Small For America?
2007: Waiting For A Beautiful Balsamic Splash
2006: Other Weird Things In Utah
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Top Of The Parmigiana List

Photo:  Alex Lau
It doesn't matter whether you call it - parmesan or parmigiana - they're the same thing and they're both delicious.  Here are four ways I like my parmigiana:

Bobby Flay's Chicken Parmigiana 

Rachael Ray's Veal Parmigiana - you must use the tenderest baby veal, pounded very thin.

Bon Appétit's Best Eggplant Parmigiana - this is what I'll be making for Easter!

And last, I love a Meatball Parmigiana Sub.  

If you're feeling more sandwich-y than entree-ish, you can make any one of these into a sandwich.  

Oooooh...I can't wait for the day after Easter when I'll have leftover eggplant for sandwiches!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Stay In Your Lane

2017: Don't Even Go There
2016: Pretty Purple Prickly Pears
2015: Visually Artistic Lighting
2014: I Lost Sleep Looking At All These Links
2013: Five Facets Of Comfort
2012: The Daily Rant Brings You The Daily Commute
2011: Not For The Shy
2010: A Barge And A Lady
2009: Easter Preparation Takes Its Toll
2008: Eddie In The Blue Friday
2007: The Man Filter
2006: There Is Still A Chance
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!