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.”

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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.

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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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Table For Four, Please

Photo Credit:
Tomorrow I'll be cooking the smallest Thanksgiving dinner I've ever made.  And I'm going old-school on several items.

We weren't sure if we'd be home for Thanksgiving and didn't find out until last Friday, so we didn't accept any invitations and didn't make any plans until we knew for sure we'd be here.  Instead of working Tue/Wed/Thu, we went out Mon/Tue/Wed, getting home this afternoon.

We'll be celebrating at our apartment and hosting my mother and my friend Kim.  Four people.  That's it.  My menu is as follows.

Fresh Turkey Breast that I ordered from our local butcher.  We all prefer white meat, so why make a whole bird when no one is going to eat it?  It comes with the skin, so I'll get a nice crispy piece of that, and that'll make me happy.

Mashed Potatoes with gravy.  Classic mashed.  Butter, salt and pepper.  Perfection.

Sweet Potatoes with marshmallows.  I've never made this, but I've eaten it.  And Ed wanted the marshmallows.  I probably won't follow the recipe to the letter because all that brown sugar will make the already sweet potatoes way too sweet, but I will get those marshmallows crispy under the broiler. My friend said, "Sweet potatoes and marshmallows?  That's disgusting."  Disgustingly delicious, I say!

Stuffing.  My mother is making this.  She does a great job, it's always very flavorful with onions and crunchy celery bits.  I can't wait, it's one of the dishes she does really well.

Roasted Green Beans, Asparagus, Carrots, and Brussels Sprouts.  I don't do the Green Bean Casserole so many people know and love.  Now that's old school!  Green beans, cream of mushroom soup, crispy onion straws?  Do you know it was invented by a woman named Dorcas Reilly?  Yep.  Read more about it here.  As for our heavenly roasted veggies, I know they'll be delicious and since my friend Kim doesn't let a vegetable cross her lips, there will be plenty for us.

Cranberry Jelly.  Straight out of the can.  In the past I've made this Cranberry Compote, which is amazing, but it's way too much for my small gathering.  I love getting a slice of cold, jelled, cranberry sauce with a piece of turkey.  Totally old school.  And I like to plop it right on the plate, straight out of the can, ridges and all. The ridges are helpful guidelines for slicing.  :)

Corn Casserole.  I have no idea what this is but my mother saw the recipe on Facebook and decided to make it.  It'll be a surprise for all, but I love corn, so how bad can it be?

King's Hawaiian Dinner Rolls.  I can eat this entire bag and go to sleep happy.  I never really have an opportunity to serve dinner rolls, so this is a treat.  Yum!

Pumpkin Pie.  My mother is bringing this too, from Costco.  They make some of the best pumpkin pie around.

Cheesecake.  This is a maybe.  I have the ingredients to make it, but that means doing it tonight and I'm not sure I'm in the mood.  I'm not a pumpkin pie fan so this is mostly for me and whoever else is interested.

I've never been good at cooking for small gatherings, so I know there will be tons of food. I'll send my mother and Kim home with leftovers - probably enough for several meals - and Ed and I will be eating turkey sandwiches for a week.

Nothing on the menu is too challenging, but I know I'll be happy when the cooking is done and the eating commences.

Let the prep begin!

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2015: Annoying People For Eight Hundred, Alex
2014: Eddie Needs A New Tuque
2013: Quickly Losing Count
2012: Opposites Don't Always Attract
2011: Shit Eating Grins. And Giggles. And Shits And Giggles.
2010: Waiting It Out
2009: My Life According To Sugarland
2008: EPCOT On Fire
2007: Eddie Full Of Turkey Friday
2006: Crouching Poultry, Hidden Turkey
2005: Is It Really A Sandwich?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ostentatious Chariot

Ed recently spotted this car parked in front of the bike shop he frequents.

Really??  This is Tucson, people, not Los Angeles.  Although it's kind of cool - I'm told it's a wrap, not a paint job - it seems a little flashy for a town full of people that can't seem to get out of shorts and flip-flops.

It's just soooo...bright.

As if the sun here isn't blinding enough.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Oh, Joe.

Josh Billinson got a little famous with his Joe Biden memes.  Check these out, and then Google "Joe Biden Memes" to see more of them.

Or just browse through Josh Billinson's Twitter feed.  You'll find gems like this.

Absolutely worth your time.

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Birdwatching Saturday
2014: Flashback Friday
2013: The Best Kind Of Mob

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Half Flesh, Half Steel

Yesterday Ed rode in the 34th Annual El Tour de Tucson, one of the largest road bicycling events in the United States.  How awesome is that?!

In support of Ed, Kim and I decided to ride our bikes with him to the starting point of his ride.  Route lengths vary from .25 miles to 109 miles - Ed was doing the 37-mile ride.

When we got there, a pretty big crowd had already assembled.  The group ahead of where Ed is standing is where he'd be starting, along with the 755 other riders participating in this route.

Since the starting point was just a few minutes from where we live in Oro Valley, we thought rather than driving there and dealing with the hassle of finding a parking spot, we'd just ride our bikes.  Not the best plan.  We thought it was just a mile away but it wasn't where we thought, and turned out to be 2.5 miles in one direction with a GIANT hill!

I know I sound like a whiner right now because 2.5 miles isn't far at all - I've ridden further - and because everyone else in this race will be riding many more miles than me, but the hill was almost the death of me.  I wanted to cry just looking at it.  Ed rode right up, but I had to walk it because my legs were jelly!  It felt like I was the one doing 37 miles!

Once I calmed down and caught my breath, I was able to take in the surroundings.  And in case you're wondering, after Ed left and we started to head back, the ride down that evil hill, with all the coasting and wind that was blowing through my hair, was sooooo worth the horror of going up.

People started arriving in droves once it got closer to the start time of the race.  All ages, shapes, and sizes.  All types of bikes - I saw several tandem bikes, recumbents, and even one with four seats for two little kids riding with their parents.  The riders from the longer routes, which started earlier in the morning, would also be coming through to meet up with this group once they started.  

This pack of kids, all wearing the same jerseys, were lined up behind Ed.  They looked very serious.  I feared they would trample him!
Here's Ed's signature hand signal - a big thumbs up.  He's always so damn happy! Especially when he's doing something he loves.

He's been riding for about a month-and-a-half now, getting ready for the El Tour.  It was a last minute decision - which culminated with the purchase of a new bike - but once he decided, he rode as much as he was able.

The event is a big deal in this town.  It happens every November and even if you didn't know it's coming, it's hard to miss with all the cyclists around town.  On the day of the event, roads are closed, traffic is snarled, and cyclists are EVERYWHERE.  And for the first time in more than thirty years of living here, I was (by association) going to be part of it.

The weather was gorgeous, not too hot, and no rain in sight.  The event coordinators and news said to anticipate wind - I guess that affects the riders and their time - but it didn't seem overly windy, either.  Really, it was a perfect day to ride.

El Tour de Tucson started in 1983, with just 185 riders in the first race.  Today, it draws 7,000 to 10,000 people from all over the world.  This year, Captain Mark Kelly and his wife, Gabby Giffords took part in the race.

This was the last time we saw Ed before the race started.  Once he left, we didn't see him again until we met up with him at the finish line.

Ed took this selfie once he reached the finish line downtown.  He rode 37 miles in 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 35.46 seconds!  In his group, the 37-milers, he came in 121st.  Out of 755 riders!  I think that's pretty damn great!  
I'm so proud of him!  Thirty-seven miles on a bike!  In traffic.  Up and down hills, through town, with thousands of other people to keep from running into.  Quite a feat!

Here are some of the photos taken by MarathonFoto, who photographed the event. They got some really great shots of Ed along the route.  I love the hands free one!

Ed is already talking about doing the ride next year.  And, of course, he's also talking about tackling one of the longer routes.

“The cyclist is a man half made of flesh and half of steel
that only our century of science and iron could have spawned.”
~ Louis Baudry de Saunier, 19th-century author

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Delving Deep Into The Nefarious Actions Of A Truck Driver

2014: Delivering In The District
2013: Loving What's On The Inside
2012: When You Walk Like That, Talk Like That, Look Like That...
2011: Like And Loathing In Las Vegas
2010: Get Fresh With Me…Please!
2009: In The Blink Of An Eye
2008: Duck, Duck, Drake
2007: The Lady And Sons
2006: The Department Of Mindless Vegetables
2005: Ooo Rah Johnny Cash!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Savoring Chip And JoJo

I finally got my copy of Chip and JoJo's new lifestyle magazine, The Magnolia Journal.

It's beautiful!

And it's the closest I'll come to having them in my house.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: Coastal Trees
2014: BuffaSNOW
2013: The White Dove Of The Desert
2012: A Beautiful Listen
2011: The Music Of The Night
2010: There’s No Better Place On Earth
2009: Getting Tanked In Al-Nahar
2008: Bracing For A World Of Mouse Ears
2007: At Least He’s Up Front About It
2006: Aten HUT!!
2005: Be The Player

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I Am One Of The Safe Ones

Sadly, there are reports that support this feeling all over America. It's always been there, but since the election, the deplorables have come out in the open. They're bold with their hate. They seem to enjoy it.

It's unacceptable.  And what's even more egregious, is that the person at the helm, steering the ship, claims he's unaware and thinks it's a "very small amount".

I stand with Anand Giridharadas.

I stand with the victims of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, homophobia, racism, bigotry.

I stand with the victims of harassment and intimidation.  

I do not stand with hate mongers.  I do not stand with supporters of hate.  I do not stand with the people who voted in the hate.  You're on your own.  You created this backlash.  You emboldened the monster who terrorized our country for the past 18 months.  With your encouragement and support, his behavior, and this behavior has flourished.  It's disgusting.

I am one of the safe ones.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: The Birthplace Of The King
2014: A Whole Big Lot Of Love
2013: When A Pig Wraps Himself Around A Chicken Deliciousness Ensues
2012: Let The Stockpiling Begin
2011: From The Island To The Desert
2010: The Town I Was Dying To See
2009: Gleaming Curve
2008: Color Me Casual
2007: Eddie Goes Running Friday
2006: Forever Yours
2005: Home Away From Home

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Blade Runner

Back in February, we cleared some land and had ABC (aggregate base course) delivered to flesh out our driveway area.  I operated a vibrating machine with much success.

It was challenging work and because this isn't something we really know how to do, the area didn't turn out as flat as we would have liked.  We drove over bumps for months, cursing every time we bottomed in the dip in the driveway approach.

Yesterday, we had a blade operator come out and grade the entire area.  It only took a few hours but by the time he got done, it felt like a road, not a rollercoaster.  The next step will either be some kind of pavement, concrete, or decorative colored stone. Landscape design will determine the direction of that.

With this size driveway - it's like a small parking lot - it looks like we're going to have to have some big get-togethers to make use of all the space.

C'mon over!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2015: Goodnight 'Bama

2014: No Fear
2013: A Cozy Little Dinner With My Favorite Bird
2012: Western Winter Sky
2011: Men At Work
2010: Everyone Is NOT A Winner
2009: Text Me
2008: Going The Way Of Astatine*
2007: Picture Perfect Pilot
2006: Not Falling For Winter Yet
2005: I Miss You Already

Monday, November 14, 2016

We Do More Before 9 A.M. Than Most People Do All Day

I got up at 0400 - that's military time for "Who the fuck gets up this early?!?" -  to shower, do my hair, paint my face, and drive almost an hour to the other side of town so Ed could participate in the 12th Annual TMC/Fleet Street Veterans Day Half Marathon, ¼ Marathon & 5k.

The sun had not yet come up when we arrived at the Sabino High School football stadium track.  Tents were set up, people were milling around, the place was coming alive.  A few vendors were serving coffee which was a big hit because it was absolutely FREEZING.  I was actually wearing a sweater.  Me, in a sweater.  In Tucson.  That's one of the things about Southern Arizona, it might end up being 80 degrees by noon, but if you're out in the very early morning or after dark this time of year, expect to need something extra to keep you warm.

Ed was wearing shorts, but had his compression pants on underneath, plus a long-sleeve running shirt and his hoodie, which he'd remove for his run.
We milled around a bit before picking up his numbered bib and timing chip - a device that looked like an ankle bracelet - that he'd have to wear to keep his time during the race.
The sun had just started to come up at the start/finish line.  The 1/2 marathon runners were slated to go first, the 1/4 marathoners second, and the 5K runners last.  There were military members in uniform waiting around, event coordinators finishing their setup, and a DJ spinning tunes.  Everyone was very cheery!
The Color Guard posted up just before the first turn of the track, waiting for the opening ceremony of the event.  There was an Air Force Master Sargeant preparing to sing the National Anthem, and cheerleaders lining the lanes to motive and encourage the race participants.  G-O-O-D-J-O-B!  Good Job!!
The race started and finished on the on the high school track, but then meandered through the local neighborhood in the very scenic area at the base of the Catalina Mountains.  The race course was marked with orange cones and fully staffed.
The 5K started at 7:20 am.  Here, you'll see Ed waving to me as he passes, the morning sun kissing his smiling face!
Along the route, Ed said they had live music (an actual band!), photographers taking pictures, water stations, law enforcement, and locals cheering on the runners.

36 minutes and 12 seconds later, Ed crossed the finish line.

He was a little sweaty but still quite chipper.  Barely out of breath.  Clearly, all his bike riding (in anticipation for the upcoming El Tour de Tucson) has served him well.  He's always had great stamina, especially since loading and securing freight on the flatbed is a physical undertaking, but the regular bike riding has really increased it.

Don't tell him I said this, but when he received his race medal and placed it around his neck, he was glowing!  Look how cute!  
In addition to the medal, he also received a fantastic shirt with the race logo, date, and sponsors on it - white background with a patriotic design for Veteran's Day - and a breakfast of eggs, tortilla, refried beans, bananas, granola bars, orange juice, and coffee.  
There was a bouncy castle for kids, a kids' fun run, and other areas set up for the 1/2 marathon runners when they finished.  Overall, it was a pretty great morning, and afterwards I was able to have coffee at one of my favorite places, which happens to be on the same side of town.  I didn't even have to run to get it.  

Ed is stirring up some interest with taking the lead in this 5K stuff.  Running is not for me - I don't like to move that fast - but he did sign us up for the 11th Annual Vail Jingle Trail 5K in December. He'll run, Kim and I will walk it.  There's going to be holiday music and refreshments, and all participants get a race t-shirt and a set of bells.

Jingle all the way, my friends!

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Grand And Important

2014: Winter Is A Table Set With Ice And Starlight
2013: The Romance Of The Road
2012: Celebrate With A Wild Desire
2011: Powerful Stuff
2010: Falling In Love With Ugly
2009: A Love Like This Can Know No Death
2008: Peace To This House
2007: The Sultan Of Love
2006: It’s Even Better Than Arbor Day
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!