Thursday, June 28, 2007

A lull in the action.

The jackhammers have (possibly only for now) ceased and desisted. Stuff is being hauled in and out, and I, babysitting the personnel so they don't spend their time availing themselves of my espresso machine or large DVD library, have not done much (anything) worthy of note, much less bloggery.

Which is not to say I have done nothing. I have begun rereading the Harry Potter ouvre. A friend of mine and I were discussing the ever-popular "what happens next?" scenarios and bandying about theories and hypotheses being flung across the Internet, etc.

Alchemy!

Tarot!

Postmodern myth!

Tolkien!

CS Lewis!

All of these have been used to explain things in the books with an eye to predicting what will happen in Book 7. But something struck me as interesting: All of the pundits who comment and formulate theories are the sort who are very well versed in that whole Dungeons & Dragons thing and their theories reflect that outlook. What they seem to not consider is the sort of Homeric epic thing or the whole Arthur Conan Doyle/Dorothy Sayers angle. So now I am formulating my own thoughts.

See? Told you it was nothing of note.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 11:37 AM 8 comments

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Glad I don't have a hangover.

The renovation of the bathroom, half a house away, is making a Hell (literally) of a lot of noise. They only thing remaining from the "old" bathroom is the door and it does an abysmal job of sound insulation.

It sounds like having Something Drastic Done at the dentist's, only a trillion times louder. My feet are oscillating from the vibrations traveling along the foundation. It's that loud.

Oy.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 2:12 PM 8 comments

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Paper Cut Dilemma: Salt or Lemon juice?

(This is not the actual picture.)

Yesterday, I spoke with the very lovely and extremely gracious Poppy (whom we spare no pains to remind the world we love) yesterday, getting the post-mortem on her shindig of Friday night.

The one we were supposed to attend, but didn't because TFBIM's father had planned for 50 years to spoil this for us by smoking two packs of unfiltered Chesterfield Kings every day. The man is nothing if not prescient and meticulous.

So, how was this event that we were supposed to attend but couldn't?

A smash!

A hit!

A sensation!

All of which I fully expected, knowing Poppy's unnatural skill in this endeavor. Spectacular in every way, save that the President of the organization which event it was and which Poppy chaired with such success (in fact, she seems so adept at it that it's probably a pathology) is someone from whom the KGB could have learned a thing or two.

Setting aside this matter, I was pleased to report that all the aspects of this event to which I was conscripted went well and Poppy stated she was pleased therewith, most importantly the wine selections. I had a lot invested in picking out kickass potables for a pittance and it appears that went well.

So, I s'pose I am being Taught A Lesson and, like most lessons I'm taught, I have NFI what it is, or even what the subject matter is. Possibly something to do with, say, "forbearance" or "humility." Poppy will testify that, had I witnessed the success of my efforts in Poppy's aid, I ran a grave risk of becoming well-nigh insufferable. Or insufferable-er, depending on who you ask.

Still, sucks to have missed it.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 10:42 AM 6 comments

Friday, June 22, 2007

What today isn't.

Today, you might be tempted to think, is merely a Friday (or, if you're on the other side of the IDL, Tuesday...but I'm not sure of which week).

That's the problem. It's just a Friday, and it wasn't supposed to be.

We were supposed to schlep up to Poppyville again, attend her CERTAIN SMASH HIT gala event, dazzle all and sundry with my sartorial splendor (possibly signing a few copies of CS magazine, where my most recent piece on male habiliment was published) boogie all night to the sedately bouncy tunes of Stanley Paul (as opposed to the bouncing and sedated Paul Stanley) and revel in the greatness of it all. This followed by excellent loitering with Poppy & TSMPM, absorption of ethanol, excellent shopping and all that.

Instead, I've had to schlep both kids around to their respective summer activities (NOS is in LIBRARY CAMP!), complete some paperwork for clients, reschedule several things because the bathroom renovation crew has to be coming in and out and at some point soonish, go have a very inconveniently scheduled lunch with other clients.

So that's that.

Be advised I'm not terribly pleased with things.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 12:07 PM 6 comments

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Better late than never.

Remember this?

Well, after much planning, submission of plans, rewriting, permits, scheduling and all that...the trigger has been pulled.

Check this out:












No going back now...

-J.

Posted by Joke at 12:59 PM 11 comments

Sunday, June 17, 2007

...and I'm back.

I got just in time for Father's Day. So that was nice.

The once thing that's weird about traveling is when you go to one place and, in lieu of doing the touristy stuff, you actually engage in, y'know, work. I mean that in the sense of having to engage in daily activities much like the locals do. It gives you a very different sense of the place and the people.

Not that it helps you understand why they do things one way and people in your town do it quite another. The espresso aversion of the population continues to mystify me, though. Given the fact it's a far more wintery place, I can see where bling-bling cars would be less desirable than they are here, where you see FAR more gigabuck cars even in economically comparable areas. But then again, they still have a classical radio station and we have none...replaced by eleventy "dance" stations. People tend to be much nicer (at least superficially so, I didn't bother to delve) and politer drivers. Unless the roads are free of congestion in which case grandmothers in ancient station wagons will breeze past you an Mach 2. But mostly the roads are clogged. For some reason major arteries have 30%-50% less lanes than they do here and that is not good.

The shopping is also WAY better there. Especially now that summery stuff was in evidence. Normally I'm traipsing through Poppyville in the late autumn/winter and the stuff available is not practical for life in the fringe-of-paradise, but now there was much to be had. I left many of my (neatly folded) shopping bags as evidence of same.

I must also take time to remind everyone how much we LOVE Poppy & Co. To bits. We were supposed to schlep back up on Friday to attend an event Poppy was chairing, but my FiL will be undergoing some nebulously defined heart surgery on Thursday, which scratched us from the starting lineup. Which is a damned shame, because I wanted to loiter with Poppy and gad about in black-tie finery (it being summer, I wished to show off my linen dinnah jacket, which Poppy has yet to see) because I will pretty much attend any event if the dress code calls for black or white tie. We also wanted to meet up with assorted others whom we'd met and liked. Also, Poppy is a mean party-throwers and any gala under her command is a terrific event.

But that's not to be, alas.

Poo.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 5:58 PM 7 comments

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Just like back home, because...

...I'll be flying home today.

I promise we'll sit down with a nice espresso and catch up.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 7:21 AM 3 comments

Sunday, June 10, 2007

This just ain't like back home.

As I've mentioned before, we LOVE Poppy and TSMPM. OK, fine, you knew that. You got the point, I understand.

Anyway.

I figured that TSMPM ought be thanked along with Poppy who receives the leonine portion of our gratitude. I also know that TSMPM happens to love espresso and somehow is lacking in a basic set at their weekend place. So! I say to myself that, in order to complement the loot I brought as a thanksgiving offering to the Poppic goddess, it'd be very cool to also bring TSMPM such a set.

Back home, you couldn't throw a brick without shattering eleventy gazillion espresso cups. But that's there and this is here. Ovah heah people really don't drink espresso. Sure there are Starbux ("*$" in web lingo) but most people are not having shots of espresso, they are having tall nonfats mocha decaf caffé lattes. I went to a number of National Chain Stores and was appalled at the utter lack of selection. Only ONE store had an assortment from which to choose. Half of the stores had nothing and a few only had one set.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 8:33 PM 3 comments

Saturday, June 09, 2007

...and boy are my arms tired.

Flew into Poppyville today. It seems that half of the Greater Poppyville Metropolitan Area is currently being refurbished for our future enjoyment. Which implies our current discomfort, but there ya go.

I dunno if I'm getting inured to all this travel annoyance or what, but the security wait wasn't particularly excruciating. Relative to, say, 1 years ago, though, flying in general is. This food-for-purchase thing is a joke. I wouldn't mind it half as much if the concourses had mildly palatable edibles. Hell, even nationally recognized chain restaurants* would work for me.

So I opted to not eat at the airport FastFoodHutTM. Given that I had to bail out in a rush (thereby skipping breakfast, most notably my caffeine dosage) and that I think I'm starting to come down with some sort of cold or related malady...I developed a BLINDING headache. It traveled from my sinuses up to my forehead and then back to the rear of my skull and onto the seatback cushion (such as it was). Had the plane been the victim of some Awful Thing at the hand of nefarious villains, at the moment I wouldn't have minded so damned much...that's how bad the headache was.

Of course, traveling the rutted and congested roads from the airport back into the city didn't help at all. Caffeine and aspirin...those helped.

-J.

* Yes, yes, I know. These entities are evil corporations Hell-bent on poisoning the planet, killing off their clientele, exploiting the proletariat and all that. Still, those "no-name" places at the airport are just as craven and evil AND their food is stale and inconsistent.

Posted by Joke at 11:10 PM 10 comments

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

So here it is.

I haven't connected the camera to the computer, so bear with me.

For this particular steak, I used the "chuck shoulder steak" which also goes under other names such as "shoulder steak" etc. This is one of those underutilized steaks that sells for practically nothing, is filled with a rich, beefy flavor and is still tender and juicy when grilled up.

For 4 people, you'll need an onion (diced fine) a couple of tablespoons of butter (another two for finishing the sauce), two to four cloves of garlic (diced VERY fine), salt and pepper to taste, a bottle of red wine (Beaujolais Nouveau that you forgot to drink right away) and the juice of half a lemon.

Melt the butter over medium heat and once the foam therefrom has subsided, add the garlic, onion and salt & pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the whole bottle of red wine and, over medium-high heat, reduce until it's the consistency of heavy (i.e. "double") cream and keep warm over the lowest possible.

Set your grill (or skillet) to medium high. Pat the steaks dry, rub with a bit of EVOO (or whatever lipid you choose), season with salt and pepper and then sear. If you're using "chuck shoulder steak" it will have a triangular cross-section, so you have three sides to sear. Some other steaks of this nature will have a square cross-section, so you'll have to sear off FOUR sides. At any rate, once the sides have been seared, lower the heat to medium low and continue cooking until your ideal degree of doneness (I like this particular steak at medium-rare, or 135F). If you're using the skillet, feel free to throw in the whole lot, skillet -- make sure it has a heatproof handle! -- and all into a medium-low oven.
Allow the steak to rest about 10 minutes, then carves however you prefer (perpendicular to the grain) and serve.


Meanwhile, add the other 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce and stir to dissolve, making sure the butter doesn't separate into curds and butterfat. Add whatever steak juices you have and serve with the steak.

Now!

If'n you wanna be all foodie, you can fish out the onion from the sauce and mound it at the center of the plate, drape the slices of stake all around the mound and then dribble the sauce all decoratively. Or, just plop down the hunk o' cow and ladle sauce atop it.

There. Missed me?

-J.

Posted by Joke at 1:35 PM 6 comments

Monday, June 04, 2007

Just to bring you up to speed.

1- We LOVE Poppy and TSMPM. As in "we'll fly up to donate you a kidney." That Poppy is my pal is proof there is a God and that He, for some inadequately explored reason, loves me.
2- Speaking of God, keep in mind He made work as a punishment.

3- Tomorrow I'll be posting the bit about the steak with the red wine reduction, onion confit. I think I may have also cracked the secret of oven fries.

4- I'm so tired I slept almost 6 hours.

5- I love my bread machine and wonder WTF made me wait so long to use it.

More later.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 3:05 PM 4 comments

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Still here.

I DID say blogging'd be light for a while, no?

Anyway, working full-time again. But I made a stellar dinner which I completely failed to photograph.

More later.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 1:44 AM 4 comments