Thursday, December 08, 2016

Man Meets Cactus

Ed took this photo of Gary, who was meeting a saguaro cactus for the first time.

He was very interested in some of the facts about these giant plants.  Their form is so tied to the image of the desert region of Southern Arizona that it's probably what most people think of when you mention the wild west.  Well, after cowboys and indians!

They got along splendidly.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: Joy Delivery
2014: All Huddled Together
2013: Me And My Shadow
2012: Weekend Update
2011: Midway To A Haven Of Triple X Activity
2010: The Cowboy And I
2009: Christmas In OKC
2008: Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Lizard Pimp
2007: After The Storm
2006: Border Town
2005: Easily Amused

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Looking Out Over The Valley Of The Sun

Ed at Lookout Point at South Mountain Park in Phoenix.

According to Wikipedia, South Mountain Park, at 16,283 acres, is the largest municipal park in the United States and one of the largest urban parks in North American and the world.  It was created in 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge sold its initial 13,000 acres to the city of Phoenix for $17,000.

The lookout rises 1,000 feet above the desert floor.  You can see Phoenix sprawled out in the background, behind Ed.

I can only imagine how amazing the view must be at night.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eastern Shore

2014: Sunday Elixirs
2013: Getting Robbed On The Way OUT Of New York
2012: Not Everyone Learns In The Same Manner
Just Another Day In New York

2010: Practicing For The Retirement Home
2009: United Parcel Servant
2008: Whizzing Through Dallas
2007: Eddie With The Luscious Kisser Friday
2006: ’Tis The Season To Be Tweety
2005: Cat Fiiiiiight!!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Sandwiches Fit For A King

The Torta del Rey
While cruising around Phoenix trying to decide on a place for lunch, I checked my TV Food Maps app.  It's a great little tool because it tells me the places the Food Network stars have been.  And if it's good enough for Adam Richman of Man vs. Food, it's good enough for me!

The app led me to this ratty looking place (Gary's favorite kind!) on a busy street.  The first sign that it might actually be pretty good was the fact that the parking lot was packed.  Usually a good indicator.

The restaurant is called Los Reyes de la Torta.

The Torta Del Rey is their specialty, and the one Adam Rich had.  It's also the one Ed ordered, pictured above.  The Torta Del Rey has ham, melted cheese, pork sirloin, breaded beef, an egg omelet, sausage, and Mexican sausage, with tomato, onions, avocado, chipotle sauce, and a smear of refried beans.  Ruffles potato chips are served on the side.

I ordered the Mexicana:  Grilled steak mixed with onions and jalapeños, melted cheese, pico de gallo, avocado, and a smear of refried beans.  It was servied with a deconstructed salad on the side -  shredded lettuce, cucumber slices, radish slices, a grilled onion, and a grilled jalapeño.  My sandwich was great.  The bread was amaaaazing.

And below, we have Gary, filled with joy at the sight of his sandwich - the Norteña de Pollo:  Grilled chicken breast mixed with onions and jalapeños,  chipotle sauce, melted cheese, tomato, avocado, chipotle dressing, and a smear of refried beans.  It was also served wtih a deconstructed salad on the side.

Gary loved it.

This is just the kind of place Gary seeks out when he's on the road - a dive joint with great food.  I've found quite a few of those places too, but I don't actively seek them out.  I am SO glad we decided to try it.  It was so worth it.

And Gary treated us, so it was a total score!  Thanks, Gary!

I'd definitely go back.  And if you're in the area, I urge you to give it a try.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Rollin' With A Little Christmas

2014: Waterfront Biz
2013: My Boy And I Love Us Some Cheese
2012: A Visit To The Island Plantation of Hibernia
2011: Now They Are Heard And Not Just Seen

2010: By Request
2009: The Reason My Ass Is Not Getting Any Smaller
2008: Out Of This World Outport Life
2007: Max Says To Go Placidly, As It Is Still A Beautiful World
2006: Dangerous Beauty
2005: Big Bad Cherry Peppers

Monday, December 05, 2016

Uh, The Patio Was Nice

Photo of Pizzeria Bianco by Ed
Last night Ed and I had dinner with our friend Gary at the famous Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix.

It got rave reviews from The New York Times and the chef won a James Beard Best Regional Chef award in 2003.  It's been called "the best pizza in America".

In October, The New York Times did another article about this legendary pizza maker.

We started with the Spiedini - Fontina on a stick, wrapped in Organic Prosciutto, battered and fried. Served over a bed of lightly dressed baby arugula.

Then, we each ordered our own individual pizzas.

Gary had the Sonny Boy:  Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Salami, Olives.

Ed had the Wiseguy:  Wood-Roasted Onion, House Smoked Mozzarella, Fennel Sausage.

I had the Rosa:  Red Onion, Parmigiano Reggiano, Rosemary, Arizona Pistachios.

For dessert, Ed and Gary had the Tres Leches Cake, something Gary had been craving all day, and I had the Rice Pudding.

The desserts were good.  My rice pudding was amazing.  Creamy, nice sized rice grain.  I loved it.

But the rest?  I was not impressed.  And if it matters, neither was Gary or Ed.

To me, the Spiedini was just ham and cheese on a stick.  It was just okay.  Salty from the cheese and prosciutto, but really nothing special.

And the pizzas were not at all legendary.  I've made better "artisan" pizza in my own kitchen.  And one of the best New York style pizzas I've had here in Tucson - the kind where the crust is so crisp, it sticks straight out from outer edge to the pointy tip - comes from Brooklyn Pizza Company, down on 4th Avenue.

It definitely wasn't the best pizza in America.  Probably not even the best pizza in Phoenix.  It was disappointing because after I read the articles, I was pumped to try it out.  I was actually concerned there'd be a wait the way it was being talked about.

And although I thought pistachios on a pizza was interesting, and not bad taste-wise, we all agreed that not only would we never go back, but that we'd also never recommend the place to anyone.

So, don't waste your time.

And don't believe everything you read.

Unless I've written it, of course.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: Ten Transcendent Tannenbaums

2014: Cascade Of Reading Material
2013: Easy Money
2012: Keeping Tabs On The Industry
2011: Trucker Love Notes
2010: We Need A Little Christmas Right This Very Minute
2009: Sorting Out The Details
2008: Eddie On A Cliff Friday
2007: Christmas Meme!
2006: ”O” My God
2005: Five Already???

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Perfect Companion

Meet the newest addition to the family - Blue.

Named for her icy blue eyes, this snowy white beauty is now part of our lives.  All white with a smudge of creamy orange on her nose, tail, and tips of her ears, the woman we bought her from said she's part Siamese.  The coloring seems consistent with that.

She's eight weeks old and teeny tiny.  I love them when they're small like this.

We introduced her to the WOWs today, and like they did with Maezy, they showered her with oohs and aahs.

We are sad about losing Maezy, and the memory of her cute face and unique antics - she loved "high fives", and got excited at the mere mention of string - will live on.  But now we have Blue, and she's already delivered a sliver of joy.

We look forward to cuddling, playing, and watching her grow.

“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.”
~ Colette, French novelist

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: A Tony In The Making
2014: Collecting America
2013: Approaching Flag
2012: He Didn't Even Need Duct Tape
2011: The Epitome Of Desolation

2010: Eddie Lobster On The Brain, Listening Skills Disengaged Friday
2009: Privacy Issues
2008: It’s Crazy That I’m Crazy For Keanu
2007: Gifts That Keep On Giving
2006: Classic Las Vegas
2005: Off With Their Heads!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Paw Prints On Our Heart

So, a little bad news and a little good.

First, the bad.

On Monday, my mother's cat Maezy escaped from the porch.  She's an indoor cat and doesn't really venture out.  We always joked that she was afraid of dirt.  Probably more so after my mother tried to "walk" her with a leash but ultimately wound up dragging her through the dirt because the cat didn't want to walk.  On a leash.  Uh, hello.  Who does that? was a harrowing few days not knowing where she was.  And it was freezing.  One of those times in Tucson where it gets below thirty degrees at night.  All week it's been cold.

Well, late Thursday afternoon we found her.  Frozen.  Less than 80 feet from the house.  It was sad, and weird.  She was so close to the house.  My mother left the doors open and the porch light on.  We just couldn't understand why she didn't make it home.  
She was untouched - I checked her whole body - no bites, no blood, no scrapes, no cactus needles, nothing.  She was in a sleeping position, on the ground, just frozen.  Heartbreaking.

My mother was so very upset.  And Ed and I were sad, also.  Maezy was one of the best cats we've ever had.  Ed's been around for 13 years now, so he's seen a few of them and deemed Maze the best. And I've had cats my entire life, so I know a good one when I see it, too.

I am relieved that we know what happened.  Wondering if she was out there, lost, in another person's house, eaten by an animal, all of that was worse.  Now we know where she is and have closure.

Now the good news.

My mother found another cat that we went to pick up today.  It was a total fluke. Unexpected. And my mother says, an answer to her prayer.

You'll meet her tomorrow.

“Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because
in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.”
~ Amy Sedaris, Comedian

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The Incredible Portable Egg

2014: Bric-à-brac
2013: Bidding Adieu
2012: Rushing To The Mine 
2011: Ari-Snowna
2010: It’s In The Air
2009: Wish List
2008: He Must Have Learned It From TV
2007: When Pizza Is Involved, Jesus Is Always In Charge
2006: Sexier Than The Rockettes
2005: $3.99 A Minute

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Testing Ed's Giant Brain

Eddie is my Vanna White.  He has been more than cooperative in helping me display many of the items I showcase here on the blog.

Today I want to share with you the Good Job, Brain! book.

I listen to the podcast, which I've written about in the past, and I've also written about the book, before it became available.

I was asked earlier this year if I was interested in receiving a copy of the book since I had written about and was a fan of the podcast.  Uh, helloooooo?  Yeah.  I was all over that offer and told them in return for their generosity, I'd tell my readers all about it.

I've been reading it on my own for a while, but I also broke it out on Thankgsiving and shared a few tidbits with my family and friends.  Ed is pretty good with trivia, so he was into answering the questions I probed his brain with - like Extreme Animals, he knew most of them.  We had several laughs, too, with some of the more interesting trivia.

There are things like the mnemonic way to remember all the Canadian Provinces and Territories.  And a section called On Your Marks, which go over a bunch or diacritics (Google that!), marks, accents, etc.  It'll tell you what that little squigly thing - like the n in señor or the a in São Paulo - is called.

There are puzzles and crosswords too, but to me it's definitely a book with info to share with people.  By the end of it, you should feel a little bit like a know-it-all.

And you may even be a star if you ever participate in actual pub trivia.

“This is a sponsored blog post. While the views expressed here were genuinely mine, consideration was paid to me by Ulysses Press to review this product.”

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Practically A Cardinal Red Sin

2014: Drink And A Movie?
2013: Leaving The Blue Skies Behind
2012: One Special Request
2011: Body Language
2010: Move Along, Not Much To Read Here
2009: My Favorite Geek Scores Two Bargains In One Day
2008: Your Beating Heart
2007: All I Want For Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth
2006: Eddie Opens An Eye In Vegas Friday
2005: You’re Giving Me Agida

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Greatness, One Cup At A Time

A couple of months ago I was asked to do a review of the Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker. As usual, I was more than happy to give my opinion on something.  About a month ago the product arrived and Ed and I got to work using it.

Just a little comment before I continue - I really need to start a food blog so people will start sending me edible items to review!  

Back to the AeroPress...

The zippered travel bag contains everything you need for a surprisingly good cup of coffee.  Seriously, you're going to be blown away by what you can do with hot water and a plunger.

The AeroPress Coffee Maker system comes with the following:  Funnel, Chamber (numbered with 1-4 on it), Plunger, Filters and filter holder, coffee scoop, stirrer, and filter cap.  

And to be honest, if you were to lose the funnel, scoop, stirrer and filter holder, you'd still be able to make liquid energy in a cup.

Over the last month, we've been carrying the zippered pouch in the truck with us.  We have a 4-cup coffee maker in the truck, but it's a pain in the ass to dig out and we don't have a lot of time on this run to set it up and make morning coffee.  With this,
all that's needed is ground coffee and hot water.  And both in the house and the truck I have a hotpot that boils water in two minutes.  You can't even walk into the truck stop for a cup of coffee in that amount of time.

At night I usually make tea or my favorite General Foods International coffee drink, both of which require only hot water.  When Ed wants coffee - even though it's not as easy as dropping a tea bag in a cup - I will make him coffee with the Aerobie because I can't honestly tell him I don't want to take that one extra step to press water through a filter. He'd never buy that.  At least I don't have to wash out the coffee pot.

If I’m feeling like I need something especially decadent, I will make a latte for myself, using my Aerolatte milk frother to whip up some warmed milk or cream to complement the absolutely amazing cup of espresso the AeroPress makes.  Unlike other places I've had lattes (I'm looking at you, Starbucks), this cup of espresso is never bitter.

We've made coffee for guests with this product and they're always amazed at the flavor. Usually they say, "What kind of coffee do you use?"   It's not the coffee, my friend, it's the process.

Sure it helps to use good coffee, preferred brands or favorites.  But we've used this with regular run of the mill coffee and it still makes a great cup of joe.  And it always tastes more flavorful than what we get from our coffee maker.

With the Aerobie AeroPress, there's no reason to drink bad coffee.  This goes everywhere - camping, boating, traveling - any place hot water is available.  Easy to pack, easy to transport, easy to clean.

Here's a video of Ed making a cup of coffee with the AeroPress.  I'm not a videographer and Ed's not an actor, so cut us some slack while watching our little production, but feel free to partake in Ed's joy when he gets to the end of the process and sips his fabulous cup of coffee.

And, if you're really interested in owning an Aerobie, the inventor is selling the company.

Why, you ask?  No reason other than, "Because I'm 78 years old."

“This is a sponsored blog post. While the views expressed here were genuinely mine, consideration was paid to me by Aerobie, Inc. to review this product.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: Table For Two, Table With View
2014: Ready For The Himalayas
2013: The Lady In 7A
2012: No, Not Harry Potter. GRACE Potter.
2011: UPSide Down

2010: Gucci, Gucci, Gu
2009: Big Trucks + TV = Big Truck TV
2008: Insane In The Holiday Brain
2007: Umbrella-ella-ella-ella
2006: Dress Code
2005: And It Begins…

Monday, November 28, 2016

Just Roll With It

Many years ago Ed and I had sushi in Slidell, Lousiana.  I know, what the hell were we thinking??  It was just a California Roll, so nothing really crazy.  Or maybe it was bait, I'm still not really sure.

Yesterday, Ed and I had rea
l sushi.  So I consider our lunch at Mr. An's Teppan Steak, Sushi, and Seafood as our real first time.

I've driven past this restaurant for years, always saying "I need to try that place." Yesterday was that day.

They had a pretty extensive menu, and since we were doing lunch, we didn't opt to do any of the dinners.  We decided to do appetizers and sushi rolls.

The sushi rolls had raw fish in them - hello, sushi! - so I had to choose carefully.  I didn't want to go too far out of my comfort zone so I had one sushi roll and regular 'ol lettucs wraps (safe).  Ed got a little more adventurous and ordered two sushi rolls.  These are the two he tried:

Baja:  Spicy tuna, avocado, and cilantro topped with Yellowtail, sliced Serrano peppers and spicy aioli.

New Orleans:  Lobster, horseradish mayo, tobiko and avocado topped with lobster, avocado and mango and wasabi sauces.

Ed's dish is closest to him - each roll came on a seperate plate, but he combined them on one - mine is in the forefront of the picture. Each sushi roll was served with a dollop of Wasabi (the green blob on the plate, probably not even the real stuff), and Gari (shaved, pickled ginger).

I had the Sunset:  Shrimp tempura, avocado, cream cheese topped with spicy crab, special flakes and sweet soy, spicy aioli.

Here's mine up close:

Forgive the bright pictures - I was using my phone flash because the restaurant was extremely dark.  

I have to say it wasn't as scary as I thought, and I made good use of my chopsticks.  I looked like a pro.  My sushi roll was good, chosen because the shrimp tempura is essentially cooked, but I did try Ed's New Orleans, which was actually pretty good.  I couldn't bring myself to try the Sunset because the tuna and yellowtail just looked too, well, raw for me. 

It's definitely a place I'll go back to.  I'd like to try it with our friends Marlaina and MacG because I know they're big on fish.  And they're adventurous when it comes to food - even though this isn't really considered adventurous when you've eaten crickets in Bangkok. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: When Working For Peanuts Pays Off 
2014: Making Magic With Dough
2013: I'm Sure He Was Delicious
2012: Drowning My Sorrows In Mountain Dew
2011: Red Hair At Night, Truckers Delight. Red Hair At Morning, Truckers Warning.

2010: Rok New York
2009: South Dakota Sky
2008: Nutty Friday
2007: It’s Not So Much Fun To Roll Out Your Best Sales Schpiel On A Mute
2006: Forced Happiness
2005: Firestarter

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Literally, A Cat In A Hat

Ed and Maezy.  She just woke up and wasn't too thrilled that I insisted she pose in her Santa hat.  If it weren't for Ed's gentle nudging, she would have never agreed to this photo.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: Cured In Smithfield
2014: Happy Thanksgiving!
2013: Football Eyes In A Pear Head
2012: Snack Attack
2011: Last Full Day Of Freedom
2010: Keyed Up
2009: The Ultimate Mrs.
2008: Happy Thanksgiving
2007: The Kind Of Contraction That Produces A Laugh, Not A Baby
2006: Wanderlust Officially Approved
2005: The Eye Of The Beholder

Friday, November 25, 2016

Off The Charts Mouthfeel

I made the cheesecake!

And Oh. My. FREAKING. God.


This is the kind of cheesecake I LOVE!  Almost three inches high.  Buttery graham cracker crust.  Incredibly creamy.  Thick yet a bit fluffy.  Super-velvety mouthfeel .  I was in heaven.

I found the recipe on the internet.  Here's a quick video and the recipe for it if you're interested in trying it yourself.

I only made a few changes.  First, I increased the butter in the crust because it wasn't enough to absorb all the graham crackers.  Second, I added a bit of citrus - I used four True Lemon packets because that's all I had at the house and thought it needed a little zing.  And third, I only left it in the oven for three hours after baking because I didn't want to wake up in the middle of the night to deal with it.  It was just fine.

If you're crazy about getting tips and tricks, read through the comment section on the recipe.  Lots of people offered great suggestions and shared the adjustments they made with the recipe.  I didn't read any of these before making it, but I can see exactly what they were talking about after it was done.

It's definitely easy enough to make and share on a first try.  I'd proudly bring this to any gathering.

It's definitely a true New York Cheesecake.  In fact, it's exactly like the one my local pizzeria (owned by New York Italians) makes - they sell it for $4.95 a slice and $35.95 for an entire cake!

My Thanksgiving guests LOVED it and have requested that I make it for Christmas.  I can't wait.

You know, I might just go into the cheesecake business as a side gig.

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2015: Pre-Turkey Day Snarl
2014: A Sign Ignored
2013: One Woman, Ten Looks
2012: Came For The Dog, Wound Up With A Beefy Italian
2011: The Master Carver
2010: Waiting For The Good Stuff
2009: Getting Some Bird A Day Ahead Of The Crowd
2008: The Only Reason Men Do Things Is Because Their Wives MAKE Them
2007: Here’s Looking At You
2006: Just Outside The Door
2005: Trying To Mask The Boredom