With 15 seconds left, coming back from trailing 2-0 for 2 periods, a baseball style shot put the Jets out of their misery and the Blues take the series lead again! They’re playing the best hockey I’ve seen in years.
My wife is turning 40 and I’ve been wanting to make it special - something to remember - so, stretching it over the next week we are celebrating. Had an epic family get together yesterday and promptly hit the road at 10pm headied to Bristol, TN, for the Food 500 NASCAR race, a good 9 hours from home. Pit passes start at 10am and I think we’ll just make it to town by then if all goes well. Listening to sultry country music (“...you break things when you get mad...”) about to cross into Kentucky.
"It's like trying to make a masterpiece with a screwdriver and a hammer and hoping for the best..."
My wife (above) trying to reassure me that making your first iced cake without a spinning table and sweet piping bags and the like is still going to make a really good cake. Not The Spring Baking Championship great. My first try.
I woke up this morning wondering what to do with the blueberries. They were not great no matter where I bought them from. We are between seasons. The ones from Sam's were granular as though they were frozen and the ones from the local grocery store were so tart as to pucker the mouth.
I would like to say that I did it on my own, but I had an extra set of hands (who washed a lot of dishes and held the bowl, and just generally reassured me I was not an idiot, which I need sometimes, given as I am to throwing in the towel when I get flustered - ref. country line dancing, playing the guitar, painting, and on).
Here it is below - because anyone can make a cake out of various leftovers in the pantry and fridge.
On the left, cake batter cooling in the fridge. On the right, cooling in the freezer, blueberries bubbled in a little Caro syrup.
Left to right...top to bottom...
Thicken up the blueberries with some flour.
Mix into batter. So swirly. Add to pans. Smack the bubbles out a few times.
Then, into the oven. 350 until you can draw a knife out clean.
Cut the pointy tops off each cake with a bread knife and a steady set of hands or two; two is better than one, as is often the case. Set to cool. I put them in the fridge for a while. My icing was thicker than a pair of Pentecostals engaged in a tent revival, so I let it sit on the counter. You might want to cool your icing. Your call.
I looked up a lot of cream cheese icing recipes, but I didn't have enough cream cheese to make any of them, so I went with this hybrid, which required some serious whippin' in the mixer:
Get all of it into a freezer bag with an icing tip, but it was really not necessary and I pulled it off shortly after starting, opting to use the free-flow of the plastic tip-guide instead. Bottom layer down, swirl some tubes, smear with flat icing knife or butter knife. Top layer, repeat.
The sides were not easy and I know a fourth grader could have done a cleaner job just by the number of paper towels it took to clean the extra off the plate. Mind you, a spinning cake stand would have been very helpful, along with a square edge to smarten things up a bit. My family is generally non-complaining about experiments from risotto to gnocchi, to baked goods bearing no resemblance to their title.
I am presently speeding down a mountain in a mini-van with 4 coworkers on highway 81 on the way to North Carolina from Virginia. Scored a few Nutella's at the down-home hotel this morning. You never know when you might end up sleeping in the Atlanta airport. Like maybe tomorrow night. Bad feeling about this with all these Boeing 737 Max's being grounded. The Nutella will sustain me. And Truth by Shallou.
Let em live while they can
Let em spin
Let em scatter on the wind....
I was thinking about moving into the coffee business for my next career. I looked at my Yelp reviews over the last 4 years and boy, do I drink a lot of coffee. I was a barista for a while, for a part time job, because I was bored with my job during the day and I got to run the whole store on my own. I learned about roasting – I learned how to make all number of drinks. It’s a creative job, not a slop-fest. I stopped into a coffee shop this morning, having missed the chance to board an earlier flight home. Turns out they are a commercial roaster. They are spinning records and selling to the public. The lady at the front desk told me no one comes in just to drink coffee and they have the finest equipment, but they don’t charge. She’d make me a latte, but she would not let me pay. “Just have a seat and relax for a while, listen to some records with us.”
Picked up a bag of this Thai blend of Arabic beans. She ground it for me, too. In the massive commercial grinder. Who wants to grind beans at 4:50am? Not me.
On Tuesday night, we went to the Houston Rodeo & Livestock show. It was my first rodeo. I had been to a few PBRs in the past, but what I did not know is in Texas they like to have epic sized events. For example, for a $15 entry (which the boss picked up), you could get into the fair, the 4H livestock show, the rodeo and afterwards, the Camila Cabello concert. (I let her get into two Havananananans before I Irish-goodbye’d my coworkers and took a Lyft back to the hotel)
The fair was large, a Ford truck was sat atop of a tower. I was in Ford Country, or God’s Country, or both. I almost got a jalapeño corn dog on a stick, but I bit into it and it was cold in the center and I did not want to die later, so I ditched it. I walked up 6 ramps to the top of the stadium where our seats were located because the line for the escalator was 1,000 people deep. It was a slog, but it was a chipper night, and a good time for a quiet walk (as I was mostly alone on the way up). At the entrance gate everyone was ditching their drinks in the trash. These 2 Japanese girls chugged down their Coke’s – it was quite a sight. They wouldn’t let anyone in front of them, so I was a foot away watching them down 16oz sodas. What I would have given for a Mentos at that moment. Boom baby.
By the time I got to the top of the stadium, the rodeo was on the national anthem part, so I stood for a moment and then we got underway. I got hung up down at the 4H livestock show – Texan children are taught at a young age to work hard. Especially the rancher kids. There was a youngster hanging around with the cows while her parents were off loading up the rest of the stock. Another was washing a cow. Another was drying it off with a hose. Mind you, this is at 7pm on a weeknight, on a 3 week show. They’re balancing school with all of this....impressive!
The rodeo was phase after phase of events, no breaks in between, either. Calf roping was my favorite. You ride a speeding horse after a calf, who is running for it’s life (yes, PETA, what if I were the calf, I get it), then the rider lunges off the speeding horse and tackles the calf, skidding across the ground after it, ties it up, and then the timer turns off. They had a few best-of moments when the rider dismounted and did not quite time it right and ended up skidding on their butt across the ground. That looked very painful.
Bronc riding, bareback riding – how these people have a neck after being tossed around like a ragdoll atop an animal of that magnitude boggles my mind.
The wagon racing was something I had never laid eyes on. Imagine commanding a team of 6 horses with one hand on the reins and holding down a hand brake to drift around an oval. That is wagon racing – old timey, frontier wagons (minus the little white bonnet) doing 2 figure-8’s around barrels then two fast laps around the stadium. Football stadium. This place was massive.
One good thing about traveling all the time is identifying places and activities you want to do again. If I can, I’m bringing my family to the World’s Fair of rodeos for sure.
It was cold today at Mardi Gras. I caught a candy necklace in the face (it was wrapped in plastic, so, I ate it). After the parade, we wandered out of the tent and around the grounds through the crowds. If I closed my eyes, it was the sound of The Purge. So many babies will be made tonight. I was into it, and then suddenly, I was done with it and steered us back to the car, stopping along the way for a $5 hamburger that, despite its questionable origin, tasted delicious.
I've reached a part of Eddlin where I need to research. I borrowed all 9 of the books on the Korean War from my local library, if that gives you an idea of the size of my local library. The Scholastic children's book was surprisingly accurate and to the point.
One of the books is either in my possession at my request, or they gave me someone else's book. It's called The Legacy of Belleau Wood: 100 Years of Making Marines and Winning Battles. This is, by far, the most interesting book of all the books I borrowed. It is 300+ pages and pretty large in size, and it contains a throng of personal commentary from armed forces personnel. Some of it from the early 1900's.
My grandfather was in the Korean War. He won a medal for bravery. I am not surprised. He was a hearty guy, small but super hardworking and good. In summary, after WWII, the US and Soviets were not getting along at all, divided up Korea as they each wanted their own-style of government and North Korea - allegedly under the influence of the Communists - invaded South Korea and were poised to take over everything when the UN, led by the United States showed up. General MacArthur was super full of himself and kept plunging the troops further and further into danger after they had regained control of South Korea and he lost his marbles trying to go up against a kajillion Chinese troops who were just as well trained as the North Koreans.
50,000 ft view, South Korea was restored to its former self, but a famine almost wiped out the North Koreans who were cut off from the rest of civilization, and since it took a long time to resolve, and it seemed like it was more of a truce because everyone was losing a mega ton of people, it just got lost in the shuffle. Technically North and South Korea are still at war. Plus, we lost almost 35,000 people and that is tiny compared to the 3 million Koreans who were wounded or died - almost entirely citizens, not military personnel. China flung 1,000,000 men to their deaths. It was a totally crap situation that seems to have escaped everyone's memory.
My grandfather stood not the edge of his ship one night and thought about jumping off. His son had died, he was at war, and it was a lot. Just a lot to deal with. And that's coming from a spiritual guy, too. I really admired him for telling me that story. He was in his 80's by then, and could have just gone with earning the medal, but he told me about his despair.
The guy from the hiking place called me about Yosemite. Sure, it's 7 months away, but they are serious about hiking and he had to tell me the park no longer allows shuttling of climbers for one day trips. He spent a good 15 minutes talking me through a climb that I later reflected upon, reading my chicken scratch notes, and thought, holy smack that is 11.5 miles up and down and about 5,000 ft of climbing.
Everything looks like something to try. I'll leave you with the map. It's a hard pick.
As I may have mentioned, on a Sunday after church, when I was a fresh-faced teen, my mom shot the lid of the pressure cooker into the ceiling. It was right below my bedroom. It sounded like a bomb. It roused me to come downstairs to check to see what happened. The smell of the Bakelite burning... yuck.
These days, there are many new safety mechanisms on the modern pressure cooker. The lid locks on, for example, preventing you from opening it until the little silver thing drops down. Also, it helps to not use the stove top. It’s like a crock pot now, in fact, it can be used as a crock pot, too. It has some easy presets, or you can venture off in the world of recipes.
My mother-in-law got me a Instapot for Christmas. She is thoughtful like that. I want to take it camping this year as I get tired of grilling. I just want to roast marshmallows over the fire, you know? The simple life.
The only thing I would change is not putting the veggies up past a certain level (which I am 100% certain is marked on the interior of the silver bowl). After it was done, when I released the valve, the liquid shot up through with the steam. I fastened it back down, and released the steam very slowly to remedy. Perfectly cooked in 1 hour versus the 9 to 10 hours it would take to simmer in a crock pot.
Next time, I’m going to try something else in their recipe book. Maybe this.
One note, with the broth left over, I reduced it to a gravy and added it back to the meat and veggies.
Click to the Sauté setting, and when it is hot enough, it'll beep and say Hot. Add some olive oil, then take the beef brisket or whatever you're going to use and braise it well on all sides. I seasoned it beforehand with some steak and chop mix.
While it's going for the next 50 minutes, take a moment to chop the veggies, sip some wine, and save some for later. The far right is the wine and some butter with the roast, just after 50 mins.
That little hottie on the far left is the steam vent and it is vicious. Be safe, and like any good advice, don't stare down its barrel. Add the veggies, reset, reseal and wait for the steam temp to build again before it kicks off pressure cooking.
Then it's done. Quick as that. I won't fill it that high again, but it worked out OK for a first try.
Finally watched this dvd. The library sent me an email letting me know there were many holds and they were charging me $1.30 per day past its return date as an incentive for me to return it. Totally part of the story of our gay lives and something to know, that people walked along the path to pave it for us with their own effort. So that we might walk together holding hands and be proud of it.