Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Mandolin, The Mocha-Choca-Frappa-Whatever, and Me

Saturday was productive.

Went to the mall to use the ATM. When I saw there was a long waiting line, my response was probably the same as anyone else's would be in that situation: "I can wait on the line with a cup of coffee, or without a cup of coffee. I choose with." Turns out the nearby coffee stand was featuring something they called an Irish Mist, consisting of Irish cream, cappucino, whipped cream, and heaven only knows what else. Despite my eastern-European ancestry (and total lack of so much as a corpuscle of Irish blood), I've long been inexplicably fascinated by anything Irish, so I got one. It tasted good. Then the shock hit me: Mr. black-no-sugar-New-York-City-deli-rotgut-and-damn-proud-of-it had, if only for a brief weak moment, become one of thooooooose people. Immediately raising my collar and pulling my hat down over my eyes so as not to be recognized, I finished my banking business as quickly as I could and drank the rest of my coffee beverage in the privacy of my car. Thank goodness for dirty windows.

Stopped at K-mart too. Earlier in the day I was watching Food Network and saw Anne Burrell, my favorite culinary mad-woman, make a wonderful looking parmesan-potato side dish she called Pomme Chef Anne. (An astute comment to her recipe on the Food Network site noted that a "pomme" is an apple; a potato is a "pomme de terre," but let's be forgiving.) As it happened, the recipe required a mandolin, which I didn't have. Found a reasonably priced one at K-mart. Made the dish, and it came out great. (I also made the broccoli rabe dish she showed on the program, and it came out perfectly except for one problem: it tasted like broccoli rabe. Who knew?) If you don't already have a mandolin, here's what I learned:

  • A mandolin can easily become one of the three or four most useful kitchen items you own. It's like those inventions advertised on television in the middle of the night, the ones for the exciting new product that dices, cuts and slices in seconds, cleans quickly, stores easily, and that will make you the envy of all your neighbors. Except this one really works.
  • If you don't learn to use it right immediately, before you know what hit you it can take your arms and legs clean off like The Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (The irony is that the safe way to use a mandolin is slowly which, of course, defeats the whole purpose of using one in the first place.)

So now the mandolin has been added to the list of items - stand mixer, immersion blender, and food mill being the others - that I would grab if I ever had to run out the door and could save only a few things from the kitchen. And as long as my journal entries don't st rt ooking ike th s, you'll know I've been careful when using it.

Great Scot

While the world tries to make up its mind whether to hate Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien or Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson simply continues to be funniest man in late night television. Just take my word for it.

The Memory is the Second Thing to Go

There was something else I wanted to post about and now that I'm finally sitting down writing I can't think of what it was. If anyone knows, please remind me. Thanks.

Quick Quiz

Ok, what's this:

a) George Bush putting an Italian hex on demonstrators.
b) George Bush getting ready to lean forward and put his hand behind Dick Cheney's head just as Cheney's picture gets taken.
c) George Bush ordering 4 beers after using a mandolin for the first time.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy Happy

Heartfelt greetings for a happy new year, dear readers. We're still recovering from last night's - well, a gentleman wouldn't use a word like debauchery, but you get the idea. Between watching You-Tube video clips (more on that in a moment), eating frozen cocktail franks, and staying up late into the night (nearly 12:30 am!), it was quite the time. Getting old? Ha! That's for less adventurous spirits

A couple of New Year's Eve observations:

  • I'm impressed that for all the success she's had as a solo, Fergie is still also performing as part of an ensemble with Black Eyed Peas. (Can you even imagine, for example, Diana Ross singing background for another member of the Supremes?)
  • Say what you want about Dick Clark; when I'm his age, I hope I'm half as tough as he is. In the past I was one of those people saying he shouldn't be appearing on the Rockin' Eve show anymore. Last night, finally, I started to get it. (Turning 50 a few weeks ago has absolutely nothing to do with my new paradigm.)

A few final statistics to welcome the beginning of the end of the holiday season:

  • Total Christmas cards sent: 97
  • Christmas cards sent to people I would not recognize on the street: 15
  • Christmas cards either sent to people I've met once and have absolutely no contact with except - you guessed it - Christmas cards, or that we're sending to people that I made a mush-face when I saw we're sending a card to again: 10
  • Christmas cards sent with White-Out applied to a jelly stain on the envelope: 1
  • Total Chanukah cards purchased out of habit: 18
  • Total Chanukah cards purchased and not needed because of the number of people who, it turns out, have died: 6
  • Total Chanukah cards purchased that will be reused next year and hopefully no one will notice it's the same card as this year: 6

Wardrobe Malfunction, Kennedy Center Honors Style

I wasn't home to see the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors when it was first broadcast a few days ago, but caught it on You-Tube last night.
It was a wonderful evening, and when it was all over no doubt everyone was left talking about the touching tributes, the funny insights and, most of all, what in the world Grace Bumbry could have been thinking with the collar on that dress.

The nearest I can figure is that either:

  • she lost a bet;
  • she was at a Star Trek fan convention earlier in the day; or
  • a local veterinarian took one of those collars they put on dogs to keep them from licking a healing wound and brought it to the clothing shop where Aretha Franklin got that hat she wore to Obama's inauguration.

Since Aretha was there as part of the tribute to Grace Bumbry, I'm betting on that last one. No hat this time, just a dress that left me wondering if she took it off the table after removing the plates and silverware, or just pulled it out like that trick magicians do. (Curse the luck, I couldn't find a picture, but if you use the links at the location noted below, you'll find Aretha's presentation in Part 8.)

In any event, check out the tributes to Springsteen (including Melissa Etheridge's standing-ovation-inducing "Born to Run"), Robert DeNiro, Mel Brooks, Dave Brubeck and Grace Bumbry's collar on You-Tube. It's really worth it. (The link below is for Part 1 of 12, but you'll also see links for the other parts.)

Sometimes You Just Need to go to a Wedding

I'm a big fan of Alaina's blog to begin with, and to have this front row seat to her wedding is an extra special treat.

Please check out this wonderful entry and, if you do, prepare to feel your heart smile. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Mischief!