Thursday, March 29, 2007

You Take the Good With the Bad ...

Boy- today was the shit.

When I say the shit, I mean it feels like I was wading through it up to my temples all day long.

Today was one of those days where everything I saw, heard, tasted, or smelled reminded me of her. I was sorely, sorely, sorely tempted to call her this evening. Instead, I worked on clearing out my herb garden.

A word about the herb garden; Last year, spring came very, very early. By mid march, my herb garden was spectacular. That is about the time things became very, very intense with her. She became more important than the herb garden. It suffered. (As I would later.)

I began pulling weeds, clearing up dead stalk, etc… and I noticed a couple of things. A once thriving herb garden had succumbed to a year of Rene’. What can I say? She was demanding of my time and I was more than glad to give it to her. She was much nicer to embrace than a rosemary bush. I also noticed that with the exception of a small golden thyme bush and a scraggly pepper plant, my mint was taking over the entire garden.

Well dear reader, when faced with the choice of going inside and calling her, or facing the reality of my botanical dilemma – I took the high ground!!

Spring mint and Maker’s Mark combine for an excellent mint julep.

What The Poop?!!!!!

From the "I thought I'd seen everything department" -

Introducing: The P-Mate.

Is there a market for something like this? There must be, I guess.

Circuit City Screws Loyal Employees

This pisses me off in a huge way.

In a nutshell – to cut cost, Circuit City will be laying off experienced, higher paid employees, and immediately replacing them with lower paid new hires.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Anyone who says unions are unnecessary or obsolete should be paying attention.

And YES, I lay this right at the feet of the Republican Party. Since the Reagan administration, they have been at work to erode workers rights, to bust unions, and to set up a corporate rule society.

Please vote with your pocketbook! I realize it may be inconvenient for some with limited choices, but please boycott Circuit City.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Soul Food - Italian Style

If I had an Italian Grandmother, I’ll bet she would make this. It doesn’t really have a name, but I call it Italian Pot Roast. It is incredibly good, and pretty much the only way I make pot roast anymore. It is not fancy, it is peasant food. Very rich and very hearty. The treatment I give the leftovers is so good, I more often than not, don’t make it as roast anymore and go straight to the pasta sauce. I don’t remember how I came up with this, but I recall an old cooking show with an Old Italian woman making a roast with caramelized onions and wine. I came up with the pasta sauce myself. I wish I could remember her name or the show. I would like to see her recipe to see what is different. This was years ago, long before the food network.

I shred the pot roast into the sauce and serve it over fettuccine or tagliatelle. Sorry Konagod, this is a carnivore’s delight. If you want to serve it as roast, skip the shredding step and serve the gravy over garlic mashed potatoes.

You may click the picture for a close up.

Italian Pot Roast

One large chuck roast (two small is fine, it will be shredded anyway.)
2 large, or 3 medium sweet onions
One carrot, peeled and diced
About a half rib of celery, finely chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
About a half bottle of decent red wine.
14 oz. quality crushed tomatoes. (fresh is wonderful, if they are ripe and excellent)
Beef broth
Herbs and spices*

*I don’t really follow a recipe, it depends on what I have on hand, and what mood I’m in. I will explain how I usually do it in the recipe.

In a heavy oven-proof dutch oven, sear the roast on all sides. (Make sure the roast is dry or it won’t brown properly.) I usually salt and pepper it first. It needs the salt for sure, but pepper can burn, so be careful. When the roast is brown all over, remove it to a platter and add the onions, sliced. This next step is important. Caramelize the onions. Don’t skimp on this step, it is vital for the success of the sauce. Salt and pepper the onions about half way through this step. When the onions are caramelized, (and only then) add the carrots, garlic, and celery. Now is the time to add the herbs. This dish cooks for so long, dried herbs are really the way to go here, but by all means, use fresh if you want. I use fresh rosemary because I always have it. Fresh basil loses it’s punch, but it can be added later. I use a bit of oregano, rosemary, a couple of bay leaves and marjoram. Again, add herbs and spices to your own taste. It should not taste like spaghetti sauce. It is a much deeper and richer flavor. I have even made this at a friend's house with packaged “Italian Seasoning” with great success. When the vegetables are soft, pull them out and place with the roast. Deglaze the pan with the wine. When the wine has come to a complete boil, and all of the fond has dissolved, put the roast back in the pot. Pile the vegetables on top of the roast and add beef broth until the roast is just covered. Place the tight-fitting lid on the dutch-oven and place in a 275ยบ oven for three hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Discard the bay leaves, and if used, rosemary sprigs.

Refrigerate over night. You can eat this right away, but it is way better if you wait a day.

The next day, warm it up on the stove until just barely warm. Pull out the roast and place on a platter. When the roast is cool enough to handle, place the vegetables and sauce in the blender. Blend them until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the pot and bring to a simmer.

Shred the roast into tiny pieces. Discard any fat or tough bits.

Taste the sauce. Again, taste the sauce. Adjust the seasoning at this time. How do you like it? Needs more salt? Black pepper? I usually add some red pepper as well. If you have fresh basil, this is the time to add it. If it is too thick add water (or broth – no wine this late in the game.) If it is too thin (more likely) reduce a bit. When it is the right consistency add the meat back in along with any accumulated juices. Heat through and serve on pasta with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Repeat as necessary.

Jenny, Jenny Who Can I Turn To?

Either I’ve become incredibly soft-hearted in my old age, or senility has started setting in and I’ve parted ways with all my good sense, but either way…we have a new family member. Her name, after three days of debate is Jenny. (I wanted Buffy)

First of all, I have never been a “dog person”. I love cats, and while I don’t hate dogs, I am somewhat ambivalent to their charms.

Cats don’t pee on the carpet.

Cats don’t keep you up all night barking.

Cats don’t require daily attention when I go out of town.

Cats (mostly) clean themselves.

The kids are ecstatic of course. Whether they are still excited after a couple of months of house breaking remains to be seen.

I must confess to a bit of selfish motive. I having been fighting the burning desire to call her up and reconcile. She hates dogs, and this is sort of insurance against my own weakness, a line in the sand, if you will.

Anyway, welcome to the family Jenny.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Tennessee

Happy Birthday to one of the greatest, (some might say the greatest) America Playwrights of the 20th century. Thomas Lanier (Tennessee) Williams was born on this day, (March 26) 1911 in Columbus Mississippi.

Do you have favorite Tennessee Williams play? I’ve always had a soft spot for The Glass Menagerie. It is not as raw or as visceral as say A Streetcar Named Desire, (which I love), but it has a sentimentality and even a sweetness about it. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that I’ve played Tom on stage. It probably wasn’t my greatest role ever, but I was pretty damn good, and paired with a woman I have played opposite about 15 times. It was an excellent run, and I can’t imagine ever doing it again, because the memories of that one are so wonderful.

You know, the play is about memories – Tom’s to be precise.

I traveled around a great deal. The cities swept about me like dead leaves
that were brightly colored but torn away from the branches. I would have
stopped, but I was pursued by something. It always came upon me unawares,
taking me altogether by surprise. Perhaps it was a familiar bit of
music. Perhaps it was only a piece of transparent glass – Perhaps I am
walking along a street at night, in some strange city, before I found
companions. I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is
sold. The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent
bottles in delicate colors, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at
once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes …
Oh Laura, Laura I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I
intended to be! I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into
the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger – anything
that can blow your candles out!

For nowadays the world is lit by
lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura – and so goodbye …..

Tennessee Williams - March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983

Saturday, March 24, 2007

So Many Books...So Little Time

A couple of months ago, a friend and I were discussing the book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Many of them I have read, and of course, many I have not. As I have mentioned before, I am a “glass half empty” type person, so of course I immediately started thinking to myself - “there are definitely more than 1000 books I want to read before I die. I am 44 years old…… I started to do the math……

I am a single parent. I work 40+ hours a week. Between homework, housework, lawn work, cooking, etc…. I don’t have nearly enough time to read as I would prefer. I read pretty fast, but WHERE TO FIND THE TIME?!!!!!!!! If I could read 2 books a month that’s only 24 a year. A pretty paltry sum! If I live another 40 years that’s only 960 books left in my life!!!!!!

Panic set in.

Ok, if I make myself set aside time and really, really try – maybe I can squeeze in 36-40 a year. But, there are at least 1000 books I want to read right now!! What about all the new ones that will surely be published? Not to mention, I am a re-reader. Can I really go the rest of my life without reading Les Miserables again? Of course not! When I read a series, I usually go back and re-read the last one or two when a new one comes out, to whet my appetite for the new one. It really isn’t fair.

So – now that I am single again, I am going to redouble my efforts. That being said, I refuse to only read classics, or to not read The Sun Also Rises at least once every other year.

So – I’ll share with you from time to time what I am reading, and what I think of it. So far, this year I have read: (Yes, I’m behind schedule – I’ve been reeling from the break-up, I’ll do better)

Eragon by Christopher Paolini ( I often read what my Sons are reading so we can talk about it)
Eldest by Christopher Paolini
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Lost by Gregory Maguire
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

As for reviews – a longer post will be needed. And it will come, bear with me. I have reading to do.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Man From Utopia

Thanks Litbrit, for inspiring me to do a Frank Zappa You tube search.

I was hoping to find a performance of The Dangerous Kitchen, but I found something much, much better. Frank on Crossfire in 1986.


The biggest threat to America today is not communism; it's moving America towards a fascist theocracy and everything that has happened during the Reagan administration. Is steering us right down that pipe

This is from 1986 mind you! Are you kidding me? Poor old Frank must be rolling in his grave at the Wing-Nut we have in the White House. Frank was obviously a brilliant thinker, as well as a virtuoso guitar player.

I miss him.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rest In Peace - Larry "Bud" Melman

I was saddened to see that Calvert DeForest passed away. He was better known as Larry "Bud" Melman on the David Letterman Show.

I was a huge Letterman Fan back in the early 80's. I spent many a drunken party in college doing my Larry "Bud" Melman impersonation, which basically consisted of throwing back my head in that offhand fey way, and laughing like Truman Capote. Always a hit with the ladies for some bizarre reason.

Rest In Peace.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Holy Shit - This Is FUNNY!!

Ok - this is funnier if you already know the song, or ever watched Pee Wee.

Either way - this is way too funny not to share.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Life in a Song

I find it amazing (and, at the moment, dismaying) how many songs are either about love or about love that is lost. When one really listens to a song lyric, it seems to always be about how great it was, but now it’s gone. If it was so fucking great, why is it over? That my friends, that is the crux of the issue.

During yesterday’s walk, my Ipod was surely conspiring against me, as song after song after song reminded me of what I’m trying to forget. . On and on, one after another, they kept coming. Even songs that, at first glance, don’t seem to be about love - usually are, if you listen to the words. Ever listen to the words to “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell? (I have the Diane Krall cover)

I met a woman

She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
go to (her), stay with (her) if you can
Oh but be prepared to bleed

No shit, be prepared to bleed.

Not only, songs about love mind you, but songs that speak to my exact condition. This one in particular:

"Goodbye To You"

Of all the things I've believed in
I just want to get it over with
Tears form behind my eyes
But I do not cry
Counting the days that pass me by

I've been searching deep down in my soul
Words that I'm hearing are starting to get old
It feels like I'm starting all over again
The last three years were just pretend

And I said,

Goodbye to you
Goodbye to everything I thought I knew
You were the one I loved
The one thing that I tried to hold on to
The one thing that I tried to hold on to

I still get lost in your eyes
And it seems that I can't live a day without you
Closing my eyes and you chase my thoughts away
To a place where I am blinded by the light
But it's not right


And it hurts to want everything and nothing at the same time
I want what's yours and I want what's mine
I want you
But I'm not giving in this time

I mean WTF? Those two back to back! Up next:

“Without You Here” by the Goo Goo Dolls, which of course was our song.

Then, the song that pretty much sums up where I am in my life at this moment, a little nugget by Don Henely –

"You're Not Drinking Enough"

I can see that you haven't recovered from
The girl who let you down
And you'd sell what is left of your soul for
Another go-round
You keep telling yourself she means nothing
And maybe you should call her bluff
But you don't really believe it
You must not be drinking enough

Well, the perfume she wore you can buy
Down at the five & dime
But on some other woman
It don't smell the same in your mind
You keep telling yourself you can take it-
Telling yourself that you're tough
But you still wanna hold here
You must not be drinkin' enough

You're not drinking enough
To wash away old memories
And there ain't enough whiskey in texas to
Keep you from beggin' ,"please, please, please."

She passed on your passion
And stepped on your pride
Turns out you ain't quite so tough
'cause you still wanna hold her
You must not be drinkin' enough

Ask yourself why
You still wanna hold her
You must no be drinkin' enough

I turned the damn thing off and walked home with my memories as the sound track.

Do you have to believe in God to become a Monk?