Monday, December 29, 2008

Guests and Goobers

Every year since we've lived in Utah, between Christmas and New Year's, the skiers descend upon us. This year it's just the Engineer's identical twin brother, Twin'sWife and D, who is non-biological family. They've all been here many times and figure it's an extension of home. They know where everything is and run amuck through the house, demanding extension cords for their laptops and Perrier for their nightstands. At that point, the Engineer usually makes a loud announcement, "The guests are revolting." (Take that however you choose.)

Twin'sWife and D are both gourmet cooks. They immediately invade the kitchen and start cooking. Every year they make garlic soup, so I make sure to lay in a good supply of garlic - the recipe calls for 44 cloves, but why go half way. It's absolutely wonderful, but the next day you'd best hang around with folks who have also eaten it...

The kitchen invasion doesn't stop with cooking, they also do dishes. TheTwin is much better trained than the Engineer. Tonight he charged right in to the kitchen and started doing dishes before I could even arise from the table.

Now, as anyone who knows me at all well can tell you, I'm not the neatest kid on the block and I hate to do dishes. I should be eternally grateful to the relatives for taking care of it for me. But, nasty creature that I can be, it really grooches me.

I'm a picky old broad and set in my ways. I have definite ideas as to what belongs in a dishwasher and what doesn't. I'm also a nut for loading it "properly" so that every item gets an equal squirt of the water.

TheTwin and Twin'sWife both wash dishes three or four times faster than I do. Stuff flies from the counter to the dishwasher all helter skelter and stuff that doesn't get dishwashered gets a swish with a soapy sponge and tossed into the drainer. Or dried with a linen. A cotton terry towel won't do, it has to be a linen towel. They can go through five or six linens a meal and a half a roll of paper towels.

One might think this leads to sparkling clean dishes, but it doesn't. It leads to goobers.

I hate goobers.

But what's a goober hater to do? These folks have just washed my dishes, a task that I devoutly hate. I never ask them to, they just do it.

But they leave goobers all over everything.

I can't whine and moan after they've just done something above and beyond.

And they throw things in the dishwasher that I never put in. I was hoping tonight to slip back into the kitchen after they'd all gone to bed to rearrange things "properly" in the dishwasher, removing and hand washing the misplaced items, and to hunt for goobers on things TheTwin had hand washed.

It was not to be, however. TheTwin squirted the dishwasher detergent in, slammed the door and pushed the start button.

Aauuggg! I was too disheartened to even begin to hunt for goobers after that.

Besides, I know I will find all the goobers eventually.

How happy for me.

(Ungrateful bitch, ain't I?)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Snowphoid Wunxie

Seems like where ever I go lately, it snows. I left Utah on Friday, December 19th. It was snowing. I arrived at the Detroit Airport at the end of a snowstorm which had deposited a foot of snow.

Such fun driving in the dark to my cousin's house. The trip which usually takes about 45 minutes took two hours. I saw 15 or 16 wrecks and slide-offs on my way. Thank goodness the Engineer had loaned me his BitchInABox (Garmin nĂ¼vi®), so all I had to do was listen to her boss me around instead of looking for street signs.

It was cold, single digits in the mornings, so the snow didn't go away. And it kept snowing intermittently throughout the week.

On Christmas Eve the temperature briefly went above freezing and the snow started melting. Then, of course, the cold descended again along with more snow. But first came rain, and me out in my EldestNiece's driveway shoveling a couple feet of accumulated snow along with her 13 year old son. I figured I needed to be shoveling too in order to lend my lecture on responsibility some credence. He and I both ended up with blisters. I hope the lecture made at least a little bit of an impression. If it did, the blisters were well worth it.

Slippin' and slidin', I was the designated driver with a car full of well lubricated relatives. The Twin had rented a big, rear wheel drive, boat of a Lincoln Town Car that flashed a dashboard icon of a little yellow car with slippy tracks when the tires lost traction. Like I couldn't already tell the car was going sideways.

By the time we left on the 26th, the snow berms along the sides of the roads were three to four feet high, darn impressive.

The Engineer drove back to the Detroit Airport in the front wheel drive Chevy Cobalt I'd rented. Since the road was an ice skating rink for about half the drive, I think he was glad I had rented a more modest car than his brother's Town Car.

We arrived home at midnight at the tail end of a major snow storm.

Since the Engineer had thoroughly fortified himself with wine during the flight and layover, I got to drive home. I was fearfully anticipating trying to navigate the dread, car-eating, driveway with a foot of new snow on it, but sometime miracles do occur...

The driveway had been cleaned! I have the best across the street neighbor in the world.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas

Best Wishes to all of you for a lovely holiday season.

I'm leaving Friday morning and will be back on the 27th; e- you then.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trichinosis or Not?

Now I ask you, is this pork tenderloin properly cooked?

Ewwww, I don't think so, but this is the way the Engineer likes it. He's in charge of thermal transfer once the thermometer's placed and the meat is in the oven. He's the decider of when it comes out.

He has the chutzpah to make fun of my preference for chicken that's just a wee bit pink at the bone.

Ah well, to each his own.

P.S. My dinner was mostly vegetarian this evening - surprise.

It's Snowing Again

I think it's serious about it. Sachi went out to see if there was any activity at the bird feeder. She's a brave and sturdy kitty. Here's what I think is necessary on a day like today. This ain't no sissy hot cocoa, it's

Wake you up,
Heat you through,
Grow hair on your chest,
Hot Mocha.

1 cup of left over coffee
A dash of salt
1 spoonfull of instant expresso
1.5 spoonsfull of sugar
0.5 spoonfull of cocoa powder
canned milk

Pour the coffee into a small saucepan on high heat, lightly salt it (really), add the instant expresso powder. When it starts to boil, sprinkle in the sugar, then add the cocoa powder. Keep stirring until it works itself into a roiling boil and almost froths over, then pour in canned milk until it's as light as you like. Cool enough to not burn your tongue and enjoy (once you get over the jolt.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

From Pumpkin To Pie

First get a couple of small sugar pumpkins.
Pop off the stems and whack 'em in half.
Scrape out the seeds. Don't worry too much about the stringy stuff, it's hard to get out when the pumpkin's raw, but easy after it's cooked.
Put on a jelly roll pan, or a cookie sheet with raised edges, that has been sprayed with Pam and bake at 400° for about an hour. (I know the oven's gross, but heat sterilizes and I'm allergic to oven cleaner.)
These are a little overdone, but not bad. Let them set until they're just cool enough to handle.
Then gently scrape out the stringy stuff you didn't worry about earlier. Trim off any burned parts.
Flip the pumpkin over and peel off the skin.
Tah-dah! Chunks o' pumpkin.
It's easier to process if you do it while it's still warm. This was refrigerated over night, so it's lost a little color and is more cohesive than warm pumpkin.
If, at any point, you find stringy stuff or bits of skin in the pumpkin, pull it out. Puree in a food processor until nice and smooth, then it's ready to use in the recipe of your choice.
Pumpkin Pie! The crust and filling are made and ready to put together.
Roll out the pie crust.
Pour in the filling and bake.
Cool the pies.
Now comes the best part... Eat the pie.
True, this is pretty much a repeat of my 10-21-2008 blog post, but it has photos to prove it really works.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Most Fantastic Bug Photos Ever

My friend, Jess, over at bioephemera, has an astonishing talent for finding the finest in odd art.

Check out the bug photos she posted today. They knocked my socks off!

Why don't my bug photographs ever look like that? Even a fly looks glam when Martin Amm takes it's picture.

My bug photos are the acme of ugly. (Though I, personally, think this one's so ugly he's cute.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Charles Shultz Was a Perceptive Guy

Click on the image
to see the whole cartoon.

Sigh, it's so true.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas

At least the snow part.

All this between noon and 4:30 today.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Sometimes when I walk through the deli section of the grocery store, the roasted tomatoes in olive oil and spices call to me too loudly to ignore. Those little buggers are expensive, but, oh, they're tasty.

From there it's a short stroll to the bakery department and the LeBrea bread.

Easy Bruschetta Recipe
Cut thick slices from a fresh Le Brea whole grain loaf.
Toast in oven set to broil until it's as toasty as you like it.
Flip and toast the other side.
Arrange roasted tomatoes on top of toast then pour over some of the oil and spices they were packed in.
Sprinkle generously with freshly grated parmigiana or romano cheese.
Put back under broiler until cheese shreds start popping.
Eat and Enjoy.
In the summer I like to mix the roasted tomatoes about half and half with fresh from the garden tomatoes, makes it even better.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Greed

The Engineer's family traditionally requires that each member submit a Christmas wish list by Thanksgiving evening. Anyone not submitting a list by the deadline is given a considerable grief and leaves him/herself open to receiving such class items as Chia Pets or nose hair trimmers.

My family has never done such a thing, though my sister did circle anything she wanted in the Sears catalogue. When she got into high school, she started circling the studlier guys in the underwear section despite never expecting to receive one. It was considered acceptable to ask someone what they would like, and we often did.

My brother's two daughters, 16 and 12, had one word replies to the question this year: "Money."

My Mother would have hung her children by their toenails and slowly flayed the skin from their quivering bodies had they dared give such an answer. To this day, it's an answer that shocks and offends me. (See Mom, some of your training did take.)

The younger generation of the Engineer's family shocked me ever more this year. Hmmm... Shocked doesn't really convey it... horrified, pole-axed, disgusted, appalled.. Yeah, appalled is a bit closer to how I felt.

13 year old nephew:
1.CCM Vector U+ Pro. Sr. ice hockey skates
$600 and his feet are still growing
2.Nike Bauer Vapor XXR Senior Inline hockey skates
$200 souped up roller skates - would he even wear these before he outgrows them?
3.Flak 5 Senior hockey gloves size 13 in black
$50, after the skates, these seem almost reasonable
4.CCM Vector U+ Int. Composite hockey stick 75/Ovechkin/Right
$160 could he be a little more specific?
5.Play Station 3
only $400 on Amazon
6.American Eagle gift cards
kinda like money in my book, but that's just me
7.!!!!!NEW TV FOR MY ROOM!!!!!!!! 32"
seems like he really wants to replace the TV he already has 360 or PS3 game-Call of duty World at War
$60 for blood splattered violence - I don't think so 360 or PS3 game-NHL 2009
not violent, only $57, but note he wants it either for the platform he already has, Xbox 360, or the Play Station 3 he's planning on getting

23 year old niece:
1. Garmin Nuvi
2. queen mattress set
3. Nintendo Wii Fit
4. Blue ray DVD player
5. couch and loveseat covers (black)
6. Dolce & Gabana The One perfume
7. gift cards- Target, Barnes and Noble, Kroger
Not as bad as the nephew, though a good queen mattress set runs a couple thou' these days. No TV on the list because Daddy already got her a 40" HD flat screen Sony.

And the Crown goes to:

30-something niece
(mom of 13 year old nephew):

2 Round trip tickets to Florida for Spring Break for my son and I we need a vacation
32-40" tv for my bedroom
Poofy Recliner for Living Room (Taupe or maroon color)
Ecliptical exercise machine
Sterling Silver jewelery
Coach purse-Ramblers Legacy or Patricia's Legacy-Black (either costs $400)
Gift Cards'
Bath and Body Works
Bed Bath and Beyond

I think I'm going to get everyone underwear this year. Cotton underwear.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Perfect Home

One of the things I like to do as I travel is give friends tokens of my esteem. This year I knit dishcloths as I traveled and gave them to the friends who hosted me. They seemed to think it was cool to watch their gift grow as we caught up.

I also took along three already knit gifts, two scarves and a hat. The scarves were well received, but the hat found its perfect home. The Dancing Grannies Hat went to a friend who lives in Bynum, a small mill town south of the University of North Carolina. She's an interesting character who is just a thesis short of a master's degree in folk lore.

My Bynum friend lives in a genuine millhouse made entirely of clapboard, inside and out. The only heat is a wood stove in the living room and a space heater in the bedroom. The floor is made of painted planks - very artfully painted in the bedroom.

Dancing Grannies Hat is going to feel right at home in this environment.