Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust

I work in an office that is mostly women, so when I have to use the bathroom it is pretty likely that I won't be alone in there.    I may not like it, but I've long ago come to grips that privacy in the toilet isn't a thing to expect when I'm anywhere but at home . . . and often not there either between the cat knocking on the door to be let in or the hubby shouting out a comment on something that  couldn't possibly wait until I'm done.  But that's a whole other thing.

What I'm getting at is that some people have unusual bathroom habits.  One of THE most annoying I've already wrote a commentary on . . . and that is people who feel the need to chat on the phone while they're going potty.  I won't get into that again.

What I don't understand is the women who come into the bathroom who flush the toilet first thing . . . I'm talking as soon as they enter the stall.  You may argue that perhaps the last person to use the toilet failed to flush when they were done doing their duty (or doodie, as it were).  But I really don't think that's the case. I walk by those toilets on the way to my preferred stall . . . yeah, I have one and it's the one furthest from the door; it's as close to privacy as I can get . . . and I have never ever seen an unflushed toilet before.  I suppose I might pre-flush if there are skid marks in the bowl . . . 

Keep in mind that this happens in a well-maintained office building that they work in and where they use the facilities many times a day, where there is no reason to suppose things aren't working right.  So what I don't get is why are they flushing first?

I can't even say that they're doing it to mask the sound of their . . . uhm . . . bodily functions.  Because the flush happens before they do anything. Before the door is even latched.  Before they've even dropped their drawers to tinkle.   

I'm thinking that maybe . . . just maybe . . . they want really clean water in the case of back splash. I suppose it's possible that germs could splash up.  But I also don't see how that extra flush could disinfect the toilet.  Think about it . . . if the bowl already looks clean because the previous user flushed, and then you flush it again, how much cleaner is it really? 

Perhaps it goes back to some childhood thing . . . like when mommy would turn on the water in the bathroom to help you go.  It's a known fact that the sound of running water increases urgency in some people.

Meh . . . 

And don't get me started on the people who put toilet paper on the seat so they don't have to touch the seat but then they leave the toilet paper there . . . because apparently it's okay for you to touch their germ-infested toilet paper to remove it. 

That is all . . . moving on.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Firewater Friday - Let's call a spade a spade

To call a spade a spade is a way to describe something as it really is.

These days it seems like everything and everybody is called a racist for any little old thing.   I guess it’s simply the way I think but it never occurred to me that this phrase . . . ‘call a spade a spade’ . . . would be considered racially derogatory.  And the fact is . . . it’s NOT.  Or, at least it wasn’t . . .

The expression is thousands of years old.  Back when spades were implements to dig the earth and not the symbol on a deck of cards or . . . whatever else.

The original saying derives from the ancient Greek idiom ‘ta syka syka, te:n
skaphe:n de skaphe:n onomasein’  which translates "to call a fig a fig, a trough a

Far from being an ethic slur, its thought that this expression was initially a sexual reference . . . a fig and trough being symbolic for . . . well, I don’t think I need to paint you a picture.

Anyhoo . . .

Interestingly, sometime during the Renaissance, ‘trough’ got mistranslated as ‘spade’.    It’s not surprising, considering the ancient Greek for these words are fairly similar . . . skaphe = trough / skapheion = digging tool.

"Spade" in the sense of "negro" is not recorded until 1928 and comes from the color of the playing card symbol, via the phrase ‘black as the ace of spades’.
Frankly, I’m sick of tippy-toeing around and tired of political correctness. I think people are way too overly sensitive.  Buck up and get a stiff upper lip . . . every little ol’ thing is not an attack on some other thing.  It’s just not.  Sometimes a spade is just that . . . a spade.

That is all . . . moving on . . . 

Sweet Cream Soda

2 Shots Pinnacle Cake
Shots  Pinnacle Whipped
8 oz. Club Soda

Mix in a glass filled with ice and garnish with a cherry.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Brew Thursday - Double Tap . . . BBC Russian Imperial Stout and Browar Amber Grand Imperial Stout

It’s clear that I’m a beer lover, but I have to say stouts and porters are not my favorite style of beer . . . but I can surely appreciate them for their richness and complexities and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed one or the other on occasion.

The big question is what's the difference between a stout and a porter?  This can be debated until the sun goes down and the keg is drained of its heavenly, intoxicating nectar. 

There are many styles of beers but there are no hard-and-fast rules for what passes for particular variety.  The truth is that there really is no meaningful difference between a stout and a porter . . . although, arguably, a stout was at one time considered a strong . . . stouter . . .  version of porter.  Today?  Different brewers have different interpretations.  And, if you ask me, it’s those interpretations that make beer so friggin’ awesome!

And now . . . onto the beer.  St. Patrick's Day was approaching as I was making my selections and what's St. Patty's Day without a good hardy beer?  

In the cooler I spied Berkshire Brewing Company Russian Imperial Stout.  Stamped on the label?  Local!  That sealed the deal.  I'm a huge fan of local beers and micro-breweries.  

Berkshire Brewing Company is a young-ish company, formed in 1992 by two friends with a love for beer who wanted to produce a finely crafted ale.  The brewery is located in an old cigar factory in Deerfield, Massachusetts.  20 years later their nine year-round flavors and seven seasonal ales and lagers are distributed in five states and they continue to grow.

BBC Russian Imperial Stout pours a velvety black and forms a creamy head that dissolves into a lovely lingering lace on the glass.  It smells of chocolate and coffee with the flavors of each to back up the aroma.  This imperial stout is full flavored and complex.  The high alcohol content . . . 8.5% alcohol by volume . . . warms you like a fine brandy.  This is an excellent sipping beer, to be savored and enjoyed after a good meal.  Dessert in a glass!  Cheers!

Check out Berkshire Brewing Company's website and visit them on Facebook


The porter I selected was not so local.  It haled all the way from Poland.  I chose Browar Amber's Grand Imperial Porter based on the label alone . . . classy, elegant.  And the name . . . it was so high falutin' . . . GRAND Imperial . . . it demanded to be consumed.  So, consume it I did!

The Browar Amber is a small brewery that was established in 1994.  It primarily distributes its beer regionally and has only recently started exporting to the United States and Canada. 

The Grand Imperial Porter is a good beer but not quite what I expected.  To the best of my knowledge, I've never had a Polish beer and certainly never a Polish dark beer. It is a Baltic style of porter which is black like an English stout but lighter in flavor; more like a strong, dark lager. 

I would classify the Grand Imperial Porter as a dessert beer.    It is strong and sweet . . . very much a sipping beer.  It pours dark as night.  A huge head is formed when it it is poured that dissolves into a light froth that clings to the side of the glass. It has a clearly defined dark chocolate flavor with only a hint of coffee.   I liked this porter but it was definitely not grand.  8.0% alcohol by volume.

Check out  Browar Amber's website and visit them on Facebook

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

All it takes is a pinch

I think chewing tobacco is probably one of the most disgusting habits . . . like . . . EVER!  This spitting is the nastiest, ickiest, uckiness!  To be frank . . . it's gross.

When I was a teenager growing up in the sticks of Pennsylvania most of the boys I went school with preferred dipping over smoking.  Don't get me wrong, I think smoking cigarettes is pretty yucky, too . . . but the snuff thing . . . ew.  

Snuff is  "pinched" out of the can and placed between the lip and the gum and is normally kept there somewhere between 10 to 30 minutes. The draw is that nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth causing mellow yet energetic high.  The drawback is that it causes an excess production of saliva . . . 

which mean spitting.  Spitting nasty brown liquid.  The boys would walk around with their empty soda bottles spitting into it almost constantly.  Quite disgusting.  

What's worse, for the user at least, is the high risk with use for mouth cancer.  I had friends . . . at 15 and 16 . . . who had obviously diseased mouths as a result of the dip.  I'll spare you the gory details but if you really must know you can check it out for yourself here.

And, as a teenage girl, I wouldn't ever date a boy who dipped.  Imagine kissing that mouth?  No thanks!

On a side but related note, my neighbor up the road had a thing for Red Man chewing tobacco.  I used to play with his son and the evidence was in little landmines all over the yard.    Unlike dipping tobacco, it is not ground up.  It's shredded tobacco and must be chewed with the teeth to release flavor and nicotine.  The unwanted juices . . . er . . . ugh . . . spit, must be spat.   Once the tobacco is chewed up the chewer is left with a masticated wad of tobaccy . . . 

The whole thing is just . . . ew!

That is all . . . moving on . . . 

Homestyle Beef Enchiladas

1 Lb. Lean Ground Beef
½ Cup Chopped Onion
2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
½ Tsp Salt
¼ Tsp Pepper
2 10 Oz Cans Enchilada Sauce *
8 Small Corn Tortillas (6-7 Inches Diameter)
¾ Cup Shredded Monterey Jack Or Cheddar Cheese
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Cilantro
Sour Cream (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large non-stick skillet, brown ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Pour off grease.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in ½ cup enchilada sauce from one can. Set aside remaining sauce from that can.

Pour the second can of enchilada sauce into a shallow dish. Dip tortillas, one at a time, into sauce to coat both sides. Spoon beef mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla and roll up. Place beef enchiladas seam-side down in a 13x9-inch baking dish.

Cover dish and bake in oven for 15 minutes.

Uncover enchiladas. Spoon reserved enchilada sauce over beef enchiladas. Sprinkle with the cheese. Continue baking uncovered for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle liberally with cilantro. Serve with sour cream (optional).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kids will be kids

During a recent visit to New Hampshire we were enjoying breakfast at one of our favorite eateries in North Conway. Peaches is a small restaurant with limited seating, so if people are there with a large party it’s very likely they will be split up into separate tables.  

Such was the case during this visit  . . . seated nearby was a family with six people at one table and three children at another.  The children . . . two little girls and a boy . . . were seated right next to our table.  The adults at the other table were eating their meals and involved in their conversation and not overly paying attention to the kids.  The kids were generally behaving themselves but were goofing around a little.  The girls had each taken a packet of sugar substitute and poured it into a pile next to their plates, where the grown ups wouldn’t see.  They were dipping their fingers in the sugar substitute and licking it off . . . why they weren’t snarfng real sugar, I have no idea.  They kept doing this . . . giggling quietly . . . pulling one over on the 
old folks.  It was kind of cute.

It was especially amusing to me because I remember doing the same thing when I was young and us kids were sequestered at a separate table while the grown up sat off on their own drinking their coffee and conversing about grown up things . . . except it wasn’t sugar packets and it wasn’t quite as innocuous. 

We used to practice our spoon bending prowess.  If we happened to break a spoon we’d have to dispose of the evidence . . . often by slipping the stem of the spoon into the ketchup bottle and the bowl end in the napkin dispenser.  Yeah were wire minor . . . very minor . . . magicians.  Troublesome punks is what we really were.

Sometimes we'd get to wait in the car.  We’d hang out goofing off, gossip and huff matchsticks.  That’s right . . . I said it . . . we inhaled white phosphorous from the igniting match.  Dude!  It was cool!  When the white phosphorus reaches your lungs it absorbs the moisture there and converts it into what looks like smoke when it is exhaled.  
Not exactly healthy for us . . . but totally awesome.  What can I say . . . it doesn’t take much to impress a bunch of 14 year olds.   

The funny thing is,  I don’t ever remember my mom commenting on the smell of burnt matches in the car . . . what’s up with that?

The moral . . . adults are clueless.    Oh wait!  I am one.  :P

44-Clove Garlic Soup With Parmesan Cheese

Sweet mother of the garlic gods this soup is fantasmically delicious!

26 Garlic Cloves (Unpeeled)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons (1/4 Stick) Butter
2 1/4 Cups Sliced Onions
1 1/2 Teaspoons Chopped Fresh Thyme
18 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
3 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock Or Canned Low-Salt Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Whipping Cream
1 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese (About 4 Ounces)
4 Lemon Wedges

Roast the garlic.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Or use this method for the crockpot.  

Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add roasted garlic and 18 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add chicken stock; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. 

Let soup cool.  Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide grated cheese among 4 bowls and ladle soup over. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve.

Note: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I love kisses cuz they're so delicious

People give kisses to show affection.  As evidenced here fishes give kisses . . . but what is their motivation?  Is it love or something else?

These fishes are not kissing to show how much they care . . . they are challenging each . . . it's a display of aggression.

However, other primates are known to kiss in the same manner and for the same reason as humans . . . these are creatures in the wild who have not been influenced by outside sources and therefore are clearly not imitating the behaviors of others  . . . and sometimes they tongue tangle in addition to swapping spit.

Our kitty gives "kisses".  Whether out of love or otherwise I don't know but it is clearly as a means of greeting and is often followed by snuggles.  Is that love?  I'd like to think so.

There are other animals that press their furry lips or beaks or whatever.  Some do it to say hello, some to subjugate, others as a prelude to mating . . . and some apparently just because the like to . . . kind of like us.  Huh . . . I guess they do kiss for the same reasons we do.

It is interesting to note, that not all human cultures smooch.  In fact, 10% of the people on planet Earth do not press lips for any reason . . . it just not something they do.  They obviously don't know what they're missing but who am I to judge?

Roasted Garlic in the CrockPot

Roasting garlic creates a mellow, somewhat nutty flavor. The softened garlic is also easily squeezed from the bulb.

Bulbs of Garlic
Aluminum Foil

Cut the top of the bulb of garlic off exposing the tops of the cloves but keeping it wrapped in the outer skin layers. 

Wrap each bulb in it's own piece of foil.

Place into crockpot and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Unwrap the foil, and squeeze the bulb. Use as a spread on crackers or pieces of crusty bread or in any recipe calling for roasted garlic.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

All men's gains are the fruit of venturing.

Drying Fruits and Vegetables with a Dehydrator

Fruits and vegetables are cheapest when they're in season. Drying them is an inexpensive way to preserve them so you can enjoy them throughout the year . . . to be enjoyed as a snack by themselves or to be used in recipes.

Dried fruits are excellent to add to trail mixes or used in baking. 

When I have an over abundance of tomatoes from the garden I like to dehydrate them and pack them in a good quality olive oil.  Then you not only have the dry tomatoes to used in cooking but you also have the added benefit of a yummy tomato flavored oil for cooking with.

Although you can certainly dry foods in your oven, a dehydrator is much more energy efficient for this purpose. 

Dehydrating fruits and vegetables is extremely easy . . . all you need is time and most of that is waiting for the food to dry out; 8-12 hours of drying time on average

You should start with good quality fresh fruits and vegetables . . . overripe, bruised and otherwise deteriorated produce do not preserve well.

Clean, hull and slice all fruits and vegetables.  It’s important to make sure the slices are consistent to make sure that everything dries at the same rate.

Foods that discolor when exposed to air . . . like apples and potatoes . . . can be blanched or treated with citrus juice to preserve color.  Harder vegetables should be blanched for about 5 minutes in boiling water to speed up the drying time.

You can add salt, sugar or spices, but I prefer to dry fruits and vegetables without adding extra ingredients to preserve their natural flavors.

Load the dehydrator trays with sliced fruit and vegetable slices; do not to overlap them because this slows the drying time.

Turn your dehydrator on immediately after loading to start the dehydration process. Consult the owner's manual for recommended drying times, but expect the process to take between 8-12 hours on average.

As you reach the end of the drying time, check your fruits and vegetables frequently for dryness.

Dried fruits need to go through an additional conditioning period before they are ready for storage. Place them in loosely packed jars, and shake once a day for 7-10 days to ensure the remaining moisture is evenly distributed between the dried pieces. If condensation appears on the jar, the fruit needs to be returned to the dehydrator for further drying.

Place all dried foods in air-tight containers or freezer bags; and store in a cool, dry and dark location until you are ready to use them.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Firewater Friday - The tower of power, too sweet to be sour, ohhhh yeahh!

Have you ever experienced what could best be described as a puckering of the salivary glands when you eat something?  The pain is right at the very back of the jaw where it hinges with the skull. It feels sort of like the glands going from zero to OMG-here-comes-a-lemon! in half a second.

This pain is usually comes on when the first bite of food hits your tongue and only lasts a couple of seconds.  Sometimes it happens when you smell a certain food or even when you do nothing more than think about it.  

It is commonly, but not necessarily, something sour that causes this reaction.   

This is what that is . . . when you eat something sour your mouth waters.  That is, saliva is being pumped into your mouth by the salivary glands. The parotids, two of your primary salivary glands, are located on your cheeks, near the jaw.  The pain is caused by the inability of the glands to discharge the saliva they are producing quickly enough.

Normally, this is a natural reaction to the foods you are eating.  However, it can also be caused by parotitis, which is a low level inflammation of the gland which most often requires no treatment. 

But I’m not a doctor . . . so what do I know?

Absolut® Orient Apple Vermont

OMG! good . . . very delicious . . . very dangerous!

2 Parts Absolut Orient Apple
1-2 Teaspoons Real Maple Syrup
2 Dashes Bitters

Garnish: Orange Zest

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Stir and strain into a martini glass. 

The tower of power, too sweet to be sour, ohhhh yeahh!
Macho Man Randy Savage