Thursday, December 27, 2007

Peppermint Bark at Jefferson Street

Peppermint bark is better than it's bite. Jan made a tin of this for Christmas and Richard and I could have eaten it all ourselves. They also made a Buche de Noel which everyone enjoyed very much. Rand made a delicious corn side dish and we had Jan's
favorite lemon sorbet - the perfect end to a mid day meal.

Christmas at Jefferson Street was particularly enjoyable as the kids are all at the perfect age for gift giving. The floor was
littered with toys and kids were spread out everywhere assembling kits and trying out all the new gizmos. Kayla was absorbed
in her new portable play station but still found the time to switch to the more low-tech piano and serenade us with a few caroles, assisted by her little cousin Colette.

The street was all lit up and looked beautiful. On Christmas Eve a family of wind instrument players walked up the street
playing carols at various houses. It made the day perfect. To top it off, we went to dinner at Doug and Jan's favorite Italian restaurant which turned out to be a great find. Osso Bucco for $17.95 - and it was delicious.

Laurel and Hardy was the entertainment scheduled. Some of us watched the Music Box over several times, noting new things in the film with each viewing. A comedy classic, the duo is spectacularly funny moving a piano up a flight of very steep stairs over and over again, each time meeting with a new disaster which sends them with piano, back to the bottom.

We drove up and back and ran into traffic on the way home. It took us about 8 hours to get from San Ramon to home. The Grapevine was chugging along at the speed of 10 miles per hour.

I've never had a better Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kitty Chicken Soup

We have two new kittens in the household, Pink and Buster. Somali cats, they are lean and very smart. The breeder fed them a raw diet supplemented by something called Pro food. We converted them to Fancy Feast mixed with cooked chicken. They like the diet and eat voraciously - I think more than I do. The gobbling of food is amost desperate and I wonder sometimes if they are
getting enough so we continue to feed them until they are stupurous.

Buster is more aggressive and vigorous and probably gets the most food although when I watch them, Pink seems to be getting enough. Side benefit of cooking chickens is the wonderful broth which becomes our share. We add barley, anise and whatever veggies are lingering in the fridge. Kittie Chicken Soup!

The kittens are a source of great joy and amusement. The only unhappy entity here is Brini, the old Burmese cat, who is completely disgusted with her new living arrangement. She is spending much of her time in the bedroom closet, the rest, sitting on the dining room table, out of reach of her torturers.

Kitten Chickens

Two new Somali kittens have joined our household - Pink and Buster. Healthy little boys, their breeder had fed them a raw diet until we brought them home. She fed them raw chicken, a Pro diet and kibble or as it was called "cookies" at will.  Now they are getting cooked chicken, Fancy Feast cans and the same kibble. The cats eat what seems like tremendous amount. I think they eat more than I do. They're in a very fast growth stage.

Food has never seemed more delicious -  more succulent. When I put their plate on the floor,they leap on it and the whole world stops. They see nothing, hear nothing and cannot be dissuaded from consumption. Once they clean the plate, a stupor follows.

Buster is bigger than pink and more aggressive but I don't think he gets more to eat. Pink is persistent and seems to be getting his share. Meanwhile we are getting plenty of chicken soup. Every time I cook a chicken for them, we get the delicious broth and add whatever is leftover in the fridge. A bit of anise in the soup we've found helps the flavor.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sky High Meals

New airlines for this trip. We made our Northwest quotas in September and could now use up some of the frequent flyer miles. Against our better sense, we booked on China Southwest and although we had first class seats, prior experience filled us with doubt. Our premonitions seemed to be coming true when we got to the airport and couldn't even find the terminal. Richard and I split up - I went to park the car while he worked out ticket printing details with Northwest. Finally we found the right spot and went though the goat rope at LAX - a total mess. Our gate was located in a dimly lit area of the airport with the usual fine eye for decorating - wires hanging out of the ceiling and too few seats to accommodate the throngs.

The flight turned out to be wonderful. First Class was almost empty but even had it been full, we would still have been comfortable as the seats are well designed. Service was exceptional - after anyone used the toilet a flight attendant went in and checked it out to assure that all was well. Meal service was very good. After the meal, the cabin lights were dimmed and we were not disturbed for hours. A small bar was set up at the front of the plane with drinks and snacks on it that you could take as you wanted. The 16 hour flight was actually not bad - we slept, watched movies and were very comfortable. Much better than Northwest's business elite with narrow seats and OK service.

The Guangzhou airport was astonishing. Completed in 2004, everything is squeaky clean and efficient. We were met by a China Southwest attendant who walked us through customs and to baggage claim. Happily we found that there was an earlier flight to Vietnam and we didn't have to kill time in Guangzhou. 3 hours in the China Southwest lounge passed quickly - we checked email and walked around all the shops. The flight to Hanoi was on-time and we had a lost bag (with the diving equipment). The China Southwest baggage attendant took care of this quickly and later in the day our bag was delivered to the hotel. A very impressive airline experience.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Chinese dinner in KL

We love the night market in the China Town in KL, along Petaling street. Although we only had a few hours in KL we planned our time so we could take the airport transfer train from our hotel, the Pan Pacific, downtown and then the "el one" stop for the market. We managed to get there by about four o'clock; did some serious watch shopping and then settled down to eat at the outdoor restaurant. Richard bought a couple of watches, his favorite shopping experience. I bought a Jimmy Chu bag for $50. They were asking over one hundred, but took my first offer at fifty so I probably got screwed but I expect that to happen. It's part of the fun.

For dinner, we had a tofu dish with ground pork, chicken with lemongrass and fried rice. We shared a large beer and it was all perfect - out on the street, energy crackling through the air, beer touts moving along the tables and the main restaurant touts standing out in front, waving people in. We recognized one of the touts from last time - he's fairly old and gray and squeezes a cigarette between two fingers, puffing away as he extolls the virtues of the restaurant.
 Night fell as we ate and the tempo at the market got more and more frenzied. There was hardly room to push along the aisles. Watch sellers were everywhere unlike last time we visited when we had to hunt them down. They had everything you have ever seen advertised, even the very latest watches, just released. After a post-dinner pass through the stands, we were exhausted, the food had kicked in and it was time to make our way back home. Next time in KL we'll do it again. 

"It ain't over until a big guy pulls a bus"

After the wedding feast in Hanoi, we heard that Dominique, a large, muscular member of the French-Canadian contingent was going to "pull a bus". "What?" Out we all trooped and sure enough, Dominique had his red kerchief tied around his head and was donning a chest brace. He spent some time hooking ropes up to the bus axle. Meanwhile, the cute little Vietnamese girls were all twittering and giggling, flirting with him and looking coy. The rest of us were all standing around still wondering, "What??"
After a few more minutes of preparation, Dominique braced himself and then as he was leaning way forward, almost parallel to the ground, the pink bus started to roll forward. By this time, some of the little Vietnamese girls were in the bus along with a few people who still did not get what was going on. Once the bus had some momentum, he kept pulling for about a hundred feet all to the shouts and cheers of the crowd. Later the groom came out and hooked up. He too, pulled it a few feet. Hugely macho, it was a decidedly masculine display appropriate for a wedding day. We heard later that there is a group of these friends who do pulling stunts to raise money for charity. Dominique it was said, had pulled a 747 on one occasion.  

Hanoi Surprise

Wandering around in Hanoi, waiting for the water puppet performance to start, we
were reading menus and peeking in restaurants, thinking about where to go to dine after the show. In one place, a woman was sitting at the front of the restaurant, and as we glanced over the bill of fare, she offered that it was the best restaurant in Hanoi - and she added that she could say this with authority because she'd been there for over a month. An American in her early thirties, she was in the city adopting a baby. Her little girl, Jade was 11 months old and she was getting ready at long last to take her home the next day.

Green Tangerine was a beautiful place, almost like an opera set and after the American woman's sincere endorsement, we gave the place a try. The restaurant is in a restored colonial building and is decorated with beautiful antiques, artifacts and art. The food is French with a Vietnamese twist - lemongrass, cilantro and tamarind among the flavors added to the basic rich French food. Were we pleasantly surprised! We ordered 5 starters and a dessert. The restaurant is very popular as they turned down about 10 parties while we were eating. Even though we arrived at 5:30 with a reservation we still had to eat in the patio as the dining room tables were all reserved.  The food was all served on glass plates of various sizes and shapes. Every appetizer lived up to its name and we were blown away by the inventive presentations. 

About halfway through our meal the American showed up this time with Jade in tow. We were able to get a peek at her pretty little face and wonder about her life ahead as an American.

Poverty Conference

When we checked in at the Raj in Colombo, Richard noticed on the "Events" board,  a
posting about a poverty conference. The Raj pretty will lives up to it's name in the context of
Sri Lanka and Colombo. It's a 5 star hotel with a grand lobby, comfortable rooms and some
upscale dining. 

Later at the buffet we saw a table of about 10 people wearing ID badges.  As they went back and forth to the buffet line with their flaming crepes, bouillabaise and pate plates,we could hear them talking about setting up lines of communication, sensitivity training and all the typical buzz words you'd expect from any such group. The view from the dining room looked out to the beautiful pool and landscaped grounds enabling the conference attendees to feast their eyes as well as their bellies while they wondered what the poor people were doing that night. 

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Buffet Helper

After 10 days of buffets in Sri Lanka and Bandos Resort, we were starting to get acute buffet burn-out.

Night after night, a chicken roasted and slathered in sauce, appeared under a different AKA. Chicken Espagna, Chicken Veronique, Chicken Leona, Chicken Martinique. The sauces varied little and the naming was the most imaginative thing about the dishes. In Bandos, in particular, the desserts seemed a flop. They had wonderful names, like Mango Bavarois, Apricot Cake, Cheesecake and they were nicely garnished and presented- but they all tasted the same, like Cool Whip with a tiny bit of flavor - not related to the name. decided we should create a new shake-on seasoning called Buffet Helper. You couldn't sell it to a tourist on day one but about day eight, I would think they would leap on it with glee. The other big assist might be "Buffet glasses" that you don before walking the walk...a rose colored tint might help cast the whole affair in a better light.

Bandos had the worst food overall, but perhaps that's because we ate there four nights in a row. We recognized items from one days lunch tarted up and renamed for dinner - the carry-over was kind of fun, trying to figure out what the dish was in it's former life. The buffets all looked good, were kept neat and tidy and drinks service was prompt. Some of the nights the salads were quite good as were the vegetables. The native Maldivian food was good on at least one night, but mostly it was a sort of brown goo with an unpronouncable name.

At Elephant Reach in Tissa, we trudged in for dinner expecting the same dismal repast. Because the place is very small, we wondered how they would handle dinner. We were presented with a menu with three dinner choices: a chicken burger, grilled seek and a curry. Were we surprised when the first course appeared - a lovely soup with a basket of warm, freshly baked breads. The entrees were beautifully plated and the food was excellent: hot (as in right off the stove) and delicious. Looking at the plates, you'd think you were in a fancy downtown restaurant somewhere. It was heaven after the dejas vue buffet experiences.

Honky Tonky 2

Honky Tonky 2 in Negombo, Sri Lanka was a great place to eat. We stopped for a drink in the afternoon and were totally charmed by the funny menu. The proprietor has copied complimentary letters and used their backs (reverse side) to print the menu on. The Honky Tonky 2 is a "resturrant" and the menu is replete with this kind of mispelling which adds to the charm.

Skeptical of the rave reviews, we sat down later in the day and ordered dinner. I had the grilled shrimp with rice and we waited and waited and waited. I ordered a glass of red wine and it was just this side of vinegar...probably the worst red wine I've ever tasted. I had to go into the restaurant to find someone to bring us a large beer instead. When the entrees arrived, the shrimp was wonderful. The shrimp had been marinated and the rice was aptly named garlic rice. It was redolent with the stuff as well as minced onion and peppers, cinnamon, cardamom and clove. Beer was served in a styrofoam holder to keep it cold. We couldn't believe how good the shrimp and rice were.

While we were sitting there waiting for the meal (genius takes time), all manner of funny vehicles went by..tractors that looked like a long lawn mower fitted out with a cab and seat; a guy wearing a big cowboy hat riding a big black horse, a van selling "tasty food", the usual tricyclo's and cabs. A very old motorcycle pulled up and parked - it's rider was a trim German chap who ended up eating at HT2 along with a few other Germans. The area seems to be popular with Germans and Swiss.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dinner in Washington DC
A whirlwind weekend in Washington DC was a welcomed break from the tension of the fire, the evacuation and the feeling of dread that has hung over our heads for a week. Upgraded to first, the ride was totally painless; car rental was smooth and we set off for Frederick where we spent the night at a very pleasant Holiday Inn. On the plane, we realized it was our third anniversary. In the emotional chaos wreaked by the fire, the event had slipped our minds. En route to Frederick we stopped at the Double TT Diner for a celebratory dinner (well, sort of). The diner parking lot was crowded at 9:00 on a week night which we took for a good sign. Once seated, the fun began. Our Asian waitress brought us the menu which was like a tome. Page after page of items from Greek to Chinese. Typically this menu contained admonitions and instructions about splitting plates and substitutions and well-done eggs. Something unusual - the tip is automatically added on. First time I've seen that in an American restaurant, except in the case of large parties where the added on service has become routine. Our service was fine and we certainly would have added this tip, but it did leave a bad taste to be force into it.
The food was adequate - I had blintzes which seemed to be the same as those you can buy in the frozen food section of your local supermarket.  I had a glass of wine for $2.50 - the cheapest glass I've had in a restaurant for years. The wine was perfectly fine for a house wine. As we left

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Evacuated! Once from home and once from up at the Rancho. On Monday we woke up to roaring winds and all the patio furniture blown hither and yon. Like a blast from a furnace, the hot winds raged on and soon we saw a blob of smoke coming up from behind the hills. Thus started the murderous Rice Canyon fire here in Fallbrook. When it was all over, we lost 206 homes here, most of them in Lina's mobile home park. Sadly, Lina was among those who lost their homes.

For two nights, while we were evacuated to the rancho we ate with our neighbor Gail. Sharon left and stayed up in Corona with her daughter. Gail was holding down the fort. First night, he had some grilled chicken that Sharon had prepared for house guests, now gone. We made a salad out of his leftover greens, the chicken and our carrots. He made us delicious ice cream sundaes from their sundae bar. Next day, we snuck into Fallbrook and went back to the house to collect some clothes for upcoming travel to Washington DC. A stop at Major Market was eerie because of the absence of people and dwindling supplies. We bought a chicken for Richard to twirl, some red potatoes, salad greens, green snap peas and a bottle of wine. Gail added some of his apricot brandy, home made, which was excellent. The recipe for the brandy was a legacy from his sister.

We didn't suffer any losses in this fire and were very grateful to find our house still standing when the evacuation order was lifted.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Speaking "movie star" in Kotor

We sat down at a small Italian restaurant in the old town of Kotor in Montenegro. It's difficult not to choose a small Italian restaurant in Kotor; all the restaurants are small and all serve pretty much the same things. They are differentiated by the quality and talent of the hawker or super salesman standing out in front with menus urging you to come in. A couple of nights prior, we'd passed this particular restaurant up, but thought we'd like to try it, because of "Mr. Personality".

The menus in Montenegro almost all include standard Italian dishes plus fresh fish and a few items added obviously for the British. The fresh fish is difficult to order because they sell it by the gram and you never know what you're going to pay, so we stay clear of this. Richard ordered grilled squid and I had a pasta carbonara. When Mr. Personality brought the drinks, he asked "Where from, English?". We answered that we were from the US, from California and he broke into a big smile and said very quickly, "Cameron Diaz, Al Pacino, Demi Moore". We laughed and replied with "movie stars". He gave us a thumbs up. When he brought the salad he said, "Leonardo DiCaprio, Farrah Fawcett, Goldie Hawn!". We replied with, "Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Robin Williams!" This exchange went on as he came and went with plates until we petered out of movie stars. When we left he yelled after us, "California OK".

Friday, October 05, 2007

Touristic menus in Rome

Is there ever enough time to see what you want to see in Rome? We're always rushing around trying to get somewhere before it closes. On this trip, food was at the bottom of our list of priorities as we prefered to spend every second available to feast the eyes (instead of the stomach) on the beauty in the eternal city. When we got hungry we plopped ourselves down wherever we saw an empty chair and as a result, we crowded in with our fellow tourists (no Italian would be caught dead in one of these places) and ate plenty of bad pizza, cold lasagna and other items from the touristic menu.

One day we were rushing along and we noticed one of those fat plastic chefs about 4 feet high placed outside a restaurant. Usually they have outstretched arms with a place between them for the touristic menu to be posted. Horror of horrors, this chef had lost both arms. They looked like they had been wrenched out from the shoulders - talk about your rotator cuff injury! Still, the proprietor of the restaurant chose to leave the poor crippled wretch out in front. We asked ourselves, "How bad could the food really be?". It's one thing to complain about the food, but for someone to dismember this benign plastic symbol? We hoped that perhaps the plastic cook had been ravaged a bit at a time. Perhaps someone removed a finger, then a hand went, then a forearm and finally the last bit. Somehow, this is more comforting than the thought of some diner going "postal" or "cheftal" and ripping the arms from poor plastic Genio, touristic menu chef.

Although, one more round of touristic menu offerings and we might have been tempted to attack a chef ourselves.

Ana's Wonderful Plazma cake

We were served a wonderful dinner at our friends' place in Nis, Serbia. There were several delicious salads and one particularly striking dish of peppers roasted, then marinated in a mild sweet and sour dressing. Roast pork was the entree, succulent and delicious. For dessert, Ana, our friends grand daughter made Plazma Cake. Plazma is a biscuit popular in Serbia and Plazma crumbs are the main ingredient. A lovely dessert, light and not too sweet, Ana adapted the original no-cooking recipe by splitting it in half and adding chocolate to one half making it a two tone affair. It was so good that I had repete or "seconds". Ana is collecting easy dessert recipes so I sent her my favorite for panna cotta, about as simple as it gets.

Ana's Plazma Cake

200 gr. ground nuts
300 gr. plazma crumbs (substitute crushed vanilla wafers)
200 ml. carbonated water
200 gr. unsalted butter, softened
200 gr. powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients, shape into a loaf and divide in half.
To one half, add 200 gr. cocoa powder.
To the other half, add 200 gr. raisins.
Reshape into one loaf and refrigerate.

Whose got the Presidents Choice?

An organization we belong to known as the Association of Retired Foreign Service Officers has periodic lunch meetings. The speakers are usually very good and the company splendid; if we're in town we go. Last meeting was in San Clemente at El , a lovely old Spanish restaurant with many famous clients.

A delightful and very well-organized woman volunteers her time to coordinate these events, selecting the venue, aranging the menus and coordinating payment from everyone. This is a thankless job as anyone who has attempted it will verify. It takes plenty of time and patience plus an eye for detail. For this particular event everyone had selected from the menu ahead of time, in some cases, a month or so ahead of time.

Unfortunately for all of us, Phoebe had an accident the morning of the event. She fell down hard in front of her house and wasn't at the restaurant when we all arrived; as time went on, she still didn't show. Another woman helps from time to time and she stepped into the breach. Lunch time came and dishes started to arrive in the dining room; the challenge now was to determine who ordered what. Many of these people are over 80 and couldn't remember what they'd ordered. Waiters were wandering around, yelling (many of the retired officers can't hear either), "Whose got the President's Choice?"

Happily Phoebe dragged herself in just as confusion had really set in, with plates being passed around and more befuddled waiters crowding in to try to help. Couples were yelling at each other about what they had or hadn't ordered. Oh my.

Phoebe after some shuffling around produced post-it notes for each person with what they had ordered written on it - and they were color coded! Order ruled and we all sat there with our sticky notes, waiting to be served.

Prez Choice is what Richard had. He leaned over and asked me what it was. He'd forgotten that it was the favorite dish of President of the reasons we attended this meeting in the first place. Ha!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Getty Villa

After touring the Getty Villa with Tony, our friend from Australia, we sat down to a bit of lunch before taking the long drive home. They have the usual poor ordering system you see in places like this...long lines at lunch time, with one register closed and one working. On a hot summer day at the height of the season, at lunch time, why would one register be closed? You look at a paper menu provided as you stand in line and decide on your order. There are no instructions about have to figure it out.

The dining area is very nice - mostly outdoors with a view of the villa. I did like the old restaurant better because it wasn't so big. This is just one big space and not terribly attractive. It could be improved by breaking up the space but that probably wouldn't be architecturally acceptable.

The food was pretty good. I had a Primo Piatto which had a small panini, some roasted vegetables and greens and an awful bit of lentil soup. Richard had the panini of the day which looked good and tony had the Bruscetta Mista which was several slices of bread with mixed topping: Chunky tomato basil; preserved lemon and herb gloat hceese; parmesan artichoke.

Dinner at Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse.

Tension en route to CP. The freeway was unbelievably crowded and it took us at least 45 minutes longer to get there than we planned. When we arrived the lobby was full of people waiting for the dining room. We were whisked upstairs and seated immediately. The room was full.

It was Doug and Jan's anniversary dinner. I had pizetta with squash blossoms and scallions as an appetizer and for me, it was the best dish of the evening. Entrees were - me, local king salmon with sweet corn, zucchini and lemon-chili butter, Rich and Doug had the Grilled Wolfe Ranch quail with frisee and green bean salad and plum vinaigrette, Jan had the Mariquita Farms greens and ricotta crespelle baked in the wood oven with chanterelle mushrooms. For dessert, I had the wildflower honey ice cream with roasted figs and biscotti. Doug and Rich had the bittersweet chocolate pave with espresso cream and Jan had the peach tart with mulberry ice cream. For wine I had the Blanc du Puits Sec, Evesham Wood, Willamette Valley; Rich had the Vin du Pays, Cabernet Franc, Domaine de la Pepiere, France.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer Salads

King crab salad for dinner tonight! The corn on the cob is still very fresh in the markets and we've put a cob's worth of kernels in with the crab. An avocado, of course, some red onion and a chopped mango are the supporting actors. A dressing of blood orange juice, white balsamic vinegar and lemon flavored olive oil added enough additional flavors to layer the dish and make the flavor complex; drunk with a bottle of cheap leibraumilch which is icy cold and perfect on a hot and muggy summer evening.

Salads satisfy so many yearnings when you're hot and sticky. The textures of crisp lettuce crunch lightly in the mouth; a fruit, juicy and cold, adds sweetness and body; a bit of protein satisfies our minimized urge for protein when the temperatures soar. I like the dressing to be fruity atop a sweet/sour base to brighten the flavors and help keep the palate clean as you are eating.

This is the only time of year we use the ice maker in the refrigerator.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Laid Off

Brunch at Mimi's with a friend today. I haven't seen her in a very long time and enjoyed the pleasure of her company and Mimi's new item, Pototas . Well, the potato dish sounded much better than was delivered. It was a scoop of seasoned potato dropped in a french fryer. The outside of the potato was crispy but then they poured a rather thin salsa over the top and some cheese. The salsa sogged up the crisp potatos and there was far too much sauce.

All of this was secondary to my friends news of her husband. At the age of 54 years and a month, he was told that after 22 years working for his company, his job was being eliminated. 11 months more and he would have received full retirement benefits. They arranged something for him to carry him over until age 55 but it's a horrible job and he will be both exhausted and sleepwalking his way through it. The experience was a big shock to them both and they feel as if the rug has been pulled out from underneath them.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Into Thin Air

Our book club read The Time Traveler's Wife this month. The fictitious time traveler vanishes into thin air every 10 or 12 pages. When considering what food to bring, it struck me that something with a foam would be appropriate, foams having a propensity to vanish into thin air. I decided to baptize my ISI whipper and made the mango espuma from the recipe in the booklet in the package; it's also posted on the ISI website. As a host food, I made a panna cotta from blood oranges from our backyard trees, with heavy cream and sugar.

The foam was a bust! No air at all. The flavor of the mango sauce was good, but it just dribbled out of the nozzle like the trickly remains of water left in a turned-off hose. Obviously I need more practice with the device OR the recipe requires some improving. The process could certainly be simplified as it took too many pots and pans for the end result. First there was the mango peeling and chopping and the orange squeezing. Then these two had to be boiled together with the sugar. Next, pureeing the mixture and then pushing it through a sieve. Finally adding the gelatin, cooling, hand whipping and then filling the whipper followed by refrigeration for several hours. You could probably start with a mango juice of some kind, adding sufficient gelatin to achieve the right consistency and then blast it out. I'll try that next.

My fellow book club members were sympathetic and enjoyed the panna cotta even though the foam flopped. We recalled our various bad experiences giving demonstrations and the difficulty of handling a lot of equipment plus managing the on-camera requirements at the same time - following a multitude of directions, looking directly at the camera and still concentrating on the main task. I told them about doing egg demos for the egg commission when I got tangled up in mike cords; walked off stage dragging pans behind me and did other stupid things. The sisters told me about doing craft demos on camera - one of them had practised her schtick over and over but when she arrived at the studio, they told her she was going to have to do everything upside down on camera. Quelle Horreur. Somehow she managed but even though it was years ago, they have never looked at the video. At about the same time they hired a young woman to do some of the crafting on camera and she ended up just staring wide-eyed into the camera for the whole thing - like a deer caught in the head lights.

We all agreed that on-camera work is more difficult than it looks and that the most masterful people make it
look incredibly easy.

Next day report: after sitting in the refrigerator overnight, the mango espuma, espumed when dispensed. No audience. It was actually very good - light and airy - perfect for my lunch today over a nectarine.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Memories of an Asado

Could chimichurri cause insomnia? Dinner of skirt steak with the chimichurri - grilled peppers, parsely, onions and sliced tomatoes seems to have had a bad result. Chimichurri is a kind of Argentine salsa used primarily on steaks and it's characterized by an abundance of parsley. The other ingredients add to the flavor profile but it is overwhelmingly green in nature. I think it is somewhat of an aquired taste.

In Buenos Airies with our Argentinian friends we've enjoyed a couple of at-home barbecues or asados but I don't remember the classic chimichurri on the table. Ahh..the barbecues were wonderful events, with long tables set under the shade of a tree for 20 or 30 people. Huge platters of freshly barbecued meats, bife de chirozo - top loin or bife ancho - like ribeye, emerging from the parrilla one after the other. Bottles of wine, platters of vegetables and good bread. Most of what we will always remember is the conviviality. At one of these barbecues, our host was a dedicated Argentine patriot and should have worked for the Chamber of Commerce. He loved his country and enjoyed talking about all its splendor. At one point during dinner, he got out a map book of Argentina and used it to point out to us particular places of interest. Because of this lively, impromptu lecture, our next trip included Salta, a wonderful place.

At restaurants in Argentina we've ordered a picada or starter plate instead of lunch. This "plate" would typically consist of salami, ham, cheese, olives, potato chips and maybe bread. In Argentina, when it comes to food, nothing exceeds like excess, so the plates usually contained enough for a group of six and we regretably had to leave much of it behind after stuffing ourselves.

Still lurking in our refrigerator is a huge container of dulce de leche given to us by Lizzie iin BA. We had a wonderful dessert there made of thin layers of cake separated by layers of dulce de leche. It was absolutely decadent. More quickly disposed of, was a bottle of home-made limoncello hand crafted by Jose and made from a particularly special lemon he gets from some monks who live in isolation on an island near Argentina. To say it is delicious would be such an understatement. Ambrosia would be more fitting. My own home-made limoncello fares poorly by comparison. Perhaps my Meyer lemon tree could use a heavenly touch to improve the flavor.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Goodbye Sambuca

Last night I drank the last tiny bit out of the Romano Sambuca bottle. It was rather a nostalgic moment as I remember buying that bottle in Olympia Washington for a CEC project. The bottle and I have been together for well over a decade - small sips together two or three times a year. Frequently I'd turn to the Sambuca when a sore throat was bothering me, or a cold. The strong, harsh alcoholic liquoricy liquid was somehow soothing to the throat and to my psyche. Interesting that the drink is sometimes served aflame (photo from the web

I was introduced to Sambuca by my good friend Bob Pierre, who was President of the egg commission for many years. From time to time after a business dinner, he'd order a sambuca with a coffee bean. After I tried it once, I agreed that it makes a splendid end to a good meal.

Over the years, I've sprinkled it over a rotisserie chicken (with anise in the cavity); used it in an omelet fillling; drizzled it over berries and poured it into coffee. If you like licorice, you will find it enhances everything. The basis of the enhancement is glyzzherin, a component of licorice which is a proven, effective flavor enhancer. It is a powerful sweetener, 30–50 times as potent as sucrose (table sugar). Chemically, glycyrrhizin is a triterpenoid glycosidic saponin with the systematic name (3-beta,20-beta)-20-carboxy-11-oxo-30-norolean-12-en-3-yl 2-O-beta-D-glucopyranuronosyl-alpha-D-glucopyranosiduronic acid. Whew!! The acid form is not particularly water-soluble, but its ammonium salt is soluble in water at pH greater than 4.5. Although sweet, the taste of glycyrrhizin is different from that of sugar. The sweetness of glycyrrhizin has a slower onset than sugar, and lingers in the mouth for some time.

In Japan, where concern over the safety of artificial sweeteners during the 1970s led to a shift towards plant-derived sugar substitutes, glycyrrhizin is a commonly used sweetener, often used in combination with another plant-based sweetener, stevia. However, glycyrrhizin appears to have some pharmacological side effects, and the Japanese government has asked its citizens to limit their consumption to 200 milligrams per day.

Sambuca Definition: Generic for a very sweet-yet-piquant clear Italian liqueur flavored with anise, licorice root and an infusion with elderberry in a neutral spirit base. Sambuca is similar to Anisette but with a higher alcohol content. The term Sambuca usually refers to the transparent version, although other versions exist such as black sambuca. The liqueur is prepared by the steam distillation of star aniseeds. The resulting fragrant essential oil is infused with neutral spirits, witch elder berries and licorice. Other natural flavors and sweetening are added. The origin of the name Sambuca is believed to be Arabian, likely an Italian version of Zammut, - the anise-based drink that first came to the Italian harbors on ships coming from the Far East centuries ago. Residents of Civitavecchia, a port city near Rome, already produced the anise-based liqueur and perhaps renamed it "Sambuca" for trading convenience; Civitavecchians still produce it in large quantities today. While popular in mixed drinks, the common and traditional manner of comsumption is straight, with coffee beans -- two or more depending on the locale. There are a number of respected sambuca brands on the Italian market. These include Sambuca Borghetti and Sambuca Ramazzotti. With 87% global market share, Sambuca Molinari is the overall market leader, though Sambuca Romano is the most popular in the United States.

Some of the cocktails that incorporate Sambuca and a link to
on-line recipes:

Genoa Cocktail
Matinee Cocktail
Sambuca Coffee Frappe
Via Veneto Cocktail

Off to the market to buy a new bottle.....

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum

With our bellies full of one-half a delicious Chinese meal at the Peking Wok, we joined the throngs at the Bourne Ultimatum. The theatre was almost sold out for the 5:45 show and the audience was rapt for 90 minutes. You could have heard a pin drop in the theatre were it not for the incessant car crashing, chases and fights. The film is non-stop action and Richard loved it. I was less enthusiastic and gave it a 65. When I told Richard it was too unbelievable he reminded me that it is light summer entertainment and should not be expected to be anything near realistic.

At the Chinese restaurant we had pot stickers, piping hot and full of fragrant filling. The wrappers were just right, steamed on one side with a slightly crisp bottom where they "stuck" to the pot. Braised sweet and hot shrimp were perfect and served almost sizzling - shrimp just cooked and the delicious tomato, ginger, onion sauce clinging to every morsel. Our waiter was fast and efficient and we got out of the restaurant and over to the movie just in time. During the film, Richard munched on his fortune cookie. When we got home, there was just enough shrimp and fried rice left for the other half meal.

No food was consumed in the Bourne Ultimatum. Spies and bad CIA guys don't eat - they live on cheap thrills and adrenaline. There was plenty of blood shed - Jason bleeds in every second scene. I certainly hope he takes plenty of iron supplements before Bourne number 4.

We are so pleased to have a good Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood. So apparently is everyone else because the place is nicely crowded whenever we've gone. We wish them much success.

Hawk on the windowsill

A loud thump in the dining room got my attention quickly. I ran in to see what had fallen off the wall. Nothing. But there was a hawk sitting on the outside window ledge, beating his wings against the window, totally disoriented and squeaking in pain? Cconfusion? I could hear an answering squeak coming from a nearby palm. Could that be a mate or is the hawk on the windowsill a youngster learning to fly? It looks small so perhaps it could be just a baby gone astray.

Hawks hang out on my roof regularly. The roof corner is perched on the edge of a slope which falls off into the arroyo, dark and leafy, home to many critters. The slope houses many rabbit holes, gophers and other small potential meals for a hunting bird. The hawk(s) wait patiently on the roof, spot their target and swoop down past the window, past my computer and drop down the slope, over the arroyo, sometimes into the neighboring grove and I lose sight of them. It's very dramatic and quite a show. I get to see this almost everyday. Sometimes I'm on the phone when this happens and I gasp to my callers surprise. I try to explain the drama but words usually fall short.

Baci RIP

Baci - the greatest cat.

Baci has left us. He was last seen on Sunday morning, looking good and acting normal. He didn't return for dinner and for Baci, that's serious. After much tromping through the grove, looking and calling we have to assume that he has died.

Baci was a great cat right from the beginning. Nancy and Richard bought him from a cattery back east and they fell in love with him immediately. They trained him well and he turned into a great, people loving, wonderful pet. Nancy trained Baci to come to the dinner bell and it worked well. He'd hear that bell and come running.

I only knew Baci for a few years, but I loved him. What a guy!! Richard would bring him over in the car to spend the evening with the girls. Ha. Baci hated Lulu and Squeakie but quickly surveyed the situation and figured he could assume alpha position easily. After one or two tentative visits while he was still sniffing things out, he formulated his strategy and on visit three, he roared in the back door making a great hissing noise aimed at nothing in particular. He'd rush up the stairs and the girl cats, totally amazed, got immediately out of his way. In short order, the routine was established...Lulu and Squeakie were shivering in the closet and Baci reigned supreme. He didn't sleep in the bedroom..sort of left it to the girls but he had the rest of the house as his own.

He was incredibly smart. I had a fence rigged up on the patio where I let Lulu out to take the air. She never tried to wriggle under the fence or climb over it. We tried Baci out there. Put him down behind the fence; he took a look around and immediately leaped over the fence. Lulu was watching him in amazement and you could almost hear her little brain saying, "Could I have done that?". I'd estimate he had at least twice the brain of the girls combined.

A very good hunter, he proudly carried many trophies home...a rabbit, snakes, gophers. He was athletic and a pleasure to watch on the stalk. We bought a little red light from a pet store and he enjoyed chasing that around the house. We liked to watch him track the light across the floor and up the wall, then across the ceiling, getting his feet in place and calculating for his pounce.

I called Richard the "cat whisperer" because he seemed able to do impossible things with Baci. He acted more like a dog with Richard than a cat. They worked together; Richard would load up the truck with his tools, call Baci to jump in and they'd go off to do chores. Richard kept the radio going in the car and Baci would either sit nearby and watch him or busy himself sniffing around, jumping up in the trees or hunting something down. For lunch, Richard would find an avocado and the two of them would crouch down like hairy cavemen and tear into the fruit..a bite for Baci and a bite for Richard. They loved to ride together on the bike, hair streaming behind them, Baci clinging to Richard for dear life. Up and down the slopes they'd speed around the grove.

A human could do just about anything to Baci - he was very cooperative about grooming. Richard could clip his nails - Baci sat quietly and let him do it. When he was combed with the fine flea comb, he purred. Any kind of touch or scratch would elicit a purr.

A walk in the grove with people was a big treat and whenever we were at the rancho he'd be ready to go! We'd get down about a hundred feet and he'd launch off to do his business; we'd hear him scratching out a spot in the leaf litter. Then he'd usually rush up a tree, feeling light on his feet and happy.

Above all things, Baci loved to eat! At dinner time, he'd be standing anxiously by his bowl waiting for the food. You could hardly get it out of the can and he'd be butting your hand away to get to the meat! If we were cooking anything at all, he'd be in the kitchen waiting for a crumb to fall or a tasty morsel as a treat. I've never seen a cat with such a lusty appetite. When Richard lived alone, he'd have Ahi once in a while and Baci loved the scraps from that meal. He also loved Richard's twirled chicken.

For his final two years, he had the dubious company of an unwanted sibling when Brini joined the household. They each found their place and seemed to have a truce established, if not a friendship.

Richard and Baci shared a special kind of masculine bond. Baci would show his affection with a head butt as in the picture above. Richard treated him not roughly but rather energetically and Baci loved it. Richard for instance would throw him up onto a branch of one of the avocado trees and Baci would catch on to the branch and looked like he loved it. He would ride around perched on Richards shoulders, ears pitched forward and that beautiful tail hanging down. They made a good looking pair together!

He will be eternally missed and we hope he rests in peace in kitty heaven.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Heat, Humidity and a dazzling smile

Arrggggh. The high humidity of Arkansas combined with the 90+ temperatures made it absolutely stifling. I arrived late Tuesday night and at 10:00 the air was sticky and thick. As I left my suitcase behind, I had to make a trip to the Rogers, Arkansas Wal Mart a new superstore, where I picked up grooming essentials and a few other items for flavor school. The store is very bright with nice wide aisles and good signage atop the aisles. At that time of night, there were still quite a few shoppers! My room at Embassy Suites was more than nice - a large living room with a flat screen TV - same in the spacious, comfortable bedroom. In the morning the shower was a treat with gobs of good hot water and a perfect hair dryer. Breakfast buffet is outstanding with plenty of choices of hot and cold foods, fruit and coffee. No complaints - but nor should there be for almost $250 a night in the middle of nowhere.

The Unilever offices at this location have grown from 15 or 20 people 7 years ago (last time I was there) to over 125 people. Everyone appears to be under 40 and I feel like a bit of a dinosaur among them. Young people treat me either with great respect and as irrelevant. The charming young man who is the team leader there couldn't have been nicer.

I would say the school was a success and the participants both learned a few things and enjoyed themselves - my goal. The Unilever people were happy that they had a chance to present the big blue U and interact with the decision makers in a slightly different environment than the usual buyer's meeting. I believe they will benefit greatly from the presentation. But is it worth it for me to do these things? It takes several days to pull everything together and then at least two days of my time for the travel and execution.

Incredibly, this time I left my suitcase behind. Pulled out of the garage and simply left it sitting by the car. I had gotten into the car and was distracted looking for the keys. Found them and pulled out without going back out to load the suitcase. I realized what I had done about three quarters of the way to the airport. Past the point of no return, I called Richard and caught him just as he was leaving the house. He rushed back and took my suitcase to Brian who taped it up and got it on UPS for early morning delivery. Thank God. It would be so embarrassing to have not been able to execute the school properly. I now will develop a list and a back-up plan in case. For instance I am going to mail everything ahead from now on. Then I will bring along a copy of the most crucial things in case the mail screws up.

At the Unilever offices they were having "semester" reviews...all these young sales and marketing people get to pretend they are still in college I guess. They were huddled in offices going over number after number and many of them confessed to me that they had pulled an "all nighter" getting ready. On these occasions, food is ordered in and yesterday it came from Chic-Fil-A which the Arkansasans's a home-grown concept. So, for lunch I had
fried nuggets, fruit salad, veggie salad and gallons of iced tea which they provide. The nuggets were actually pretty good - not as salty as most and crisp enough to hold up for a couple of hours. For dinner at the North West Regional Airport, I had one of the really terrible eating experiences we all suffer through on the run. A piece of luke-warm limp pizza, cheese plasticized on the surface, nuggets of brown ground meat (which they called shaushage) and one paper-thin slice of pepperoni. About as bad as it gets, but it did keep me from expiring of hunger. Keeping my eyes open on the ride home was difficult.

Exiting the Ontario airport into the cool California night felt like being wrapped up in a familiar blanket and I appreciated with every bone in my body the walk across the airport to my car, without streams of sweat running down my sides and hair clumped up at the back of my neck. A young man in the ticket booth where you exit the airport gave me a dazzling smile which I thanked him for. As he turned around in the booth to run my credit card through, I noticed he only had one hand and the other arm ended in a stump about half way down. During the minute long exchange he told me he liked people, was always happy and grateful for life.

And I worry about leaving my suitcase behind.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bars are not for old people

The family reunion was a big success. Unbelievably we encountered little traffic on the way up. Not a single slow-down on all the busy freeways between our home and Santa Maria. We stayed at a Radisson Hotel located near the airport in Santa Maria - hard to find, but quite comfortable. There was the inevitable wedding reception in progress and the hotel was full of children, running around the halls and crowding in and out of the elevators. They appeared to be having a wonderful time.

We went to the bar at about 9:00 to have a snack as dinner was served in mid-afternoon-we found we were hungry. The bartender was very personable and didn't blink an eye at our request to share a quesadilla and to share a beer - a Stella Artois which was very good - served at the perfect temperature, with a perfect head of fine bubbles in a frosty glass. Oozing with Jack cheese, dotted with spinach and chicken, the quesadilla appeared on a plate with microgreens, excellent guacamole, salsa and sour cream. We noticed they had a very nice list of central California wines by the glass and a tasting flight of 5 wines (3 ozs. each) for $14.00. A bargain and an opportunity to get a nice sampling of the local wines. It was too late after too long a day so we passed it up.

Visiting bars is not something we usually do, but this was a decent one and our only food option at that hour. A small unamplified combo played easy listening music providing a pleasant background for the room where the acoustics were pretty good. No clatter and we could actually hear ourselves speaking. How unusual is that? The patrons in the bar were an odd polyglot. There was a single drunk who wandered in and out muttering to himself. A couple who appeared to be Spanish, came in and ordered a beer each, downed them in about 5 minutes and left. Two men in their 30's, one Spanish, one not, came in and ordered cocktails, downed them and were out in about 10 minutes. One single guy sat at the bar and had two drinks during the time we ate and drank. Another pair of men came in and sat talking together and drinking slowly. No women.

The practise of rapidly belting down drinks puzzles me. My generation is likely the last of the cocktail "sippers". Bars, to us, still retain some of the hangover glamor of the 40's movies..places where the combo played, romances started, people met and fell in love - there was a patina of sophistication associated with frequenting them. Today's patrons view the bar as a "party" place. The contemporary version of a party consists of loud, loud music, drunken brawling, throwing up, public nudity and other vulgarities. The drinks pushed by the liquor companies reflect this attititude: Piece of ass, Fuk meup, Absolut Sex, Afganistany whore. They know their market.

As we age and we begin forgetting things AND our ability to retain information diminishes, the idea of voluntarily paying for alcohol to put us into a further muddle loses it's appeal. Bars are not places for old people.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Family Reunion

We're preparing today for the family reunion over the weekend. On Saturday, we have a traditional Santa Maria barbecue - tri-tip beef, chicken, beans and salad. Everybody brings a snack and their own beverages. We're making a tapenade of olives, capers, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and chopped herbs; a guacamole and some hummus. Richard is buying some bagel chips for dipping. For each hostess we're taking a basket of avocados and olive oil. We also take along a big loose bag of avocados for general distribution. On Sunday morning, we all go over to one of the cousin's vineyards, the Pretty Penny, where we enjoy pizzas baked in their outdoor wood burning oven, one after the other, after the other. They are so delicious -the best pizzas I can remember except for Italy, and the setting of the vineyard is wonderful. The house is at the top of a hill with the vines marching down the sides of the slopes and even though in July, it's beastly hot - it's still wonderful, sitting outdoors on their wide spacious patios enjoying the views. Our cousin takes the kids on tractor rides up and down the rows of vines which they all love.

There will likely be 40 or 50 people this year. The oldest will be Richard's Uncle Kelly, other than Richard's mother, the oldest living relative. Who knows who the youngest will be? Last year, there was an infant one of the cousins had adopted from their daughter. There will be an 80+ year life span represented.

City Chicken

We went to see "Buddy" last night at the Lawrence Welk theatre. During dinner with our friends, we were wallowing in nostalgia over our teen age years when Buddy Holly was the really big deal. The subject of mock foods came up. The ritz cracker apple pie was one dish Pam, Richard and I remembered and in fact, Pam had actually made it once. Joe remembered something they called City Chicken which was actually pork and veal, skewered and then baked in the oven. Pam can recall her mother making the dish for their family; Joe enjoyed it in the seminaryl The origin of City chicken (aka mock chicken) seems to have its roots in the Northeast. The definitive origin of the name continues to elude food historians although it may be related to chicken fried steak. (The photo is from the Detroit News, 2005)

The culinary evolution of City chicken:

"Mock" foods (foods that are named for an ingredient that isn't in the recipe) have a long an venerable history. Medieval cooks employed by wealthy families were fascinated with illusion food. The practice of calling one food by another name (mock sturgeon was composed of veal) or making one meat resemble another was quite an art and highly respected. Victorian-era cooks were also intrigued by mock foods. They enjoyed mock turtle soup (calve's head...remember this character in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland?), mock goose (leg of pork) and mock apple pie (soda crackers). Depression and World War II-era cooks created mock foods to stretch the budget and satisfy family tastes. The 1931 edition of Irma Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking has recipes for mock chicken sandwiches (tuna), mock pistachio ice cream (vanilla with almond extract and green food coloring) and mock venison (lamb).

German weiner schnitzel [breaded veal cutlets] morphed in the 1940s in many southern states into "chicken-fried steak." The recipe for "city chicken/mock chicken" is almost identical except for the long oven cooking in moist heat. The difference is that city chicken is made with pork and veal cubes (as opposed to a single type of meat) and shaped on a skewer. It seems that chicken at this time was actually more expensive than pork and veal. Also people didn't like pork tenderloin, believe it or not. They thought it was tasteless and the silverskin was butchers used it up in the Mock Chicken or City Chicken format.

Mock Chicken Legs
1 lb beef steak
1 lb veal or pork
2 tesapoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup fat, melted
1/4 cup flour or 3.4 cup cracker crumbs
6-8 wooden skewers
Have steaks cut about 3/8 inches thick. Pound well and cut in 1 or 1 1/2 inch squares. Arrange 6 pieces alternately through one corner on each skewer, having top and bottom pieces somewhat smaller to represent drumsticks. Brush over or roll in fat, then in flour or crumbs, season with salt and pepper. Fry in fat left over and brown on all sides. Cover pan closely, cook slowly about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender, adding water if necessary."
---The Settlement Cook Book, Mrs. Simon Kander [Settlement Cook Book Co.:Milwaukee WI] 21st edition enlarged and revised 1936 (p. 161)

"Mock Chicken Drumsticks (City Chicken)
6 servings
Cut into 1X 11/2 inch pieces:
1 pound veal steak
1 pound pork steak
Sprinkle them with salt, pepper
Arrange the veal and pork cubes alternately on 6 skewers. Press the pieces close together into the shape of a drumstick. Roll the meat in flour.
Beat 1 egg, 2 tablespoons water
Dip the sticks into the diluted egg then roll them in breadcrumbs.
Melt in a skillet 1/4 cup shortening
Add 1 tablespoon minced onion (optional)
Brown meat well. Cover the bottom of the skillet with boiling stock or stock substitute or water. Put a lid on the skillet and cook the meat over very hot heat until it is tender. Thicken the gravy with flour (2 tablespoons four to 1 cup of liquid). If preferred, the skillet may be covered and placed in a slow oven 325 degrees F. Until the meat is tender."
---The Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer [Bobbs Merill:Indianapolis] 1936 (p. 95)


Mock Apple Pie

This recipe -- or one very much like it -- was invented around 1852 by a group of pioneer women for their children who missed the apple pie they'd had "back east." In Helen Evans Brown's West Coast Cookbook, she quotes Mrs. B. C. Whiting's How We Cook In Los Angeles (1894), "The deception was most complete and readily accepted. Apples at this early date were a dollar a pound, and we young people all craved a piece of Mother's apple pie to appease our homesick feelings." The recipe was referred to as "California Pioneer Apple Pie, 1852", and the crackers used at that time were "soda crackers" which were mixed with brown sugar, water and citrus acid and cinnamon.

After Ritz crackers were created in the early 1930's a recipe for Mock Apple Pie began appearing on the box. Apples were once again expensive and homemakers in those years were once again able to use crackers in order to give their children a taste of apple pie.

Recently, another Ritz cracker curiosity has appeared on the Web, using Ritz crackers and dipping chocolate to simulate the taste and texture of the chocolate mint cookies that are sold each year by the Girl Scouts. Look for for "Faux Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies."

Mock Apple Pie a la Ritz
Pastry for two-crust 9-inch pie
30 to 36 Ritz crackers, coarsely broken up (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Grated rind of one lemon
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Place sugar, cream of tartar and water in saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Add grated lemon rind and lemon juice. Allow to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

3. Roll out half the pastry and line a 9 inch pie plate. Place coarsely-broken cracker crumbs in pie crust. Pour cooled syrup over crackers. Dot with butter or margarine and sprinkle with cinnamon.

4. Roll out remaining pastry; place over pie. Trim, seal and flute edges. Slit top to allow steam to escape. Bake at 425 F for 30-35 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden. Cool completely before serving.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Doggie Bag

Once a week, we dine with a 92 year old neighbor. He doesn't eat much but he likes to have company for dinner and likes to go out, which is unusual for an elderly man, I think. He always gets a "doggie bag" and carries home at least half of what he orders. This gets eaten the next day for lunch.

Lawry's restaurants invented the doggie bag. They noticed that people couldn't finish the large portion of prime rib served in their Prime Rib restaurants and so they started giving their patrons a bag to take home the leftovers. With a nod and wink, it was christened the doggy bag. I believe this was some time in the thirties. The term is more common in California than other parts of the country where you may be asked if you want a "take home" container or a container to go.

Lawry's also invented valet parking, the pre-dinner salad fork, the chilled salad fork and some say, drive-in dining. Richard Frank told me that his "old man" as he always referred to his father, had his servers put a board through the front seat of the car and served dinner on it, with china, glass and silver. Very classy. Cars were a novelty at this time, and people wanted to be seen in them. The Franks are/were a very creative bunch. Richard was responsible for many concepts, such as Casey's Bar in downtown LA, a meadieval chop house in San Francisco and best of all in my opinion, a small Italian eaterie which should have been the Olive Garden. He didn't expand it because they couldn't seem to make the lunch pay off. Richard was responsible for taking the seasoned salt which his father concocted and turning into the Lawry's food company. He developed one of the countries most recognizable logos with Saul Bass, a marketing genius operating in LA in the 50's. He was also the first food person to package in flexible foil. Richard was always on the look out for packaging innovation. A great leader and a wonderful person to work for, I enjoyed my years at Lawry's foods very much. Richard Frank fostered creativity, ingenuity and a spirit of entrepreneurship in all his co-workers - when I was managing the product development lab, he would wander in and tell me that everyone in the lab should have at least 20% of their time free to dream, create and let their minds wander. Can you imagine that philosophy prevailing anywhere today??

Online I read of the British expression "a real dog's dinner" which is not related to the doggy bag but instead describes a mess of some sort. "She showed up looking like a real dog's dinner."

Years ago I worked with a 90 year old coffee taster. He trained me to "cup" coffee and he also taught me how to drink a martini at the Jonathan Club in downtown LA. He loved sushi and I would take him to our local Japanese joint - this was 30 years ago before there was sushi on every corner. He would ask for a doggy bag for the parsley on the plate. A real depression scarred human, he didn't let anything go to waste. I remember a story he told me about purchasing a $1000 whole life insurance policy in the 20's. At the time, people asked him why he would make such an extravagant purchase as $1000 was such a princely sum. Well, he had beat the statistics and lived to see the policy amount because of inflation become almost worthless. We laughed about the fact that the $1000 even thirty years ago wouldn't cover a funeral.

Now that there are more cat owners than dog owners, perhaps the name should be changed to a kitty bag.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Viral recipes

Today is our annual community picnic. Everybody brings a dish for two plus. We're making chicken drumettes and a lemon dessert. Some friends who used to live in our area are coming along as well. The food at events like this are always an interesting melange. Family recipes, church bazaar favorites, pot-luck favorites. It's haphazard and the kind of food that everyone loves once in a while. True comfort food and full of surprises.

One of our friends is barbecuing a turkey. The ethnic people usually bring something interesting. One year a Korean woman in the neighborhood brought some delicious marinated and barbecued beef. On different occasions I've brought Asian cole slaw or last year I did a fruit salad in a watermelon, disguised as a pig. Oddly not a soul commented so I've left my fruit carving kit in the drawer since. No sense in the effort when there is no audience for the art.

The lemon dish I'm bringing I first tasted at an office pot luck many years fact about 30 years ago. One of our secretaries brought it and it was instantly gobbled up by the assembly. The Japanese woman, the cook, was so modest that she was loathe to get attention for her contribution. I wonder where she got the recipe. Tracing one of these to their origin would be an interesting exercise.

Pot luck foods have been the subject of many recipe books over the years. I have several and took to buying them whenever I passed through a community either at a gas station or in a airport bookstore. Some years ago, I stopped collecting them because most of the recipes are similar or even the same from community to community.

Sometimes recipes are passed around almost like a virus. This is a great trick to pull off if you are promoting an item such as strawberries. The strawberry/spinach and almond salad flashed around Orange County from pot luck to pot luck a few years ago and I'm sure it ultimately spread round the country. The Lipton Onion chip dip is a classic case and the product has lasted for decades.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Adapted From Taste of Home


1/3 cup raspberry vinaigrette
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 package (10 ounces) fresh baby spinach
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or other nut, such as almonds or macadamias, toasted


In a blender, combine the vinaigrette, sugar, salt and mustard. While processing, gradually add oil in a steady stream. Stir in poppy seeds. Transfer to a small pitcher or bowl. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled. Just before serving, toss the spinach, strawberries and nuts in a large salad bowl with dressing. Yield: 8 servings.

Writing later, after the picnic, we can pronounce the food a great success once again. This year the table was groaning with entrees. Roast pork, lots of home fried chicken, chile in various iterations - turkey, vegetarian, super hot. Lasagna, some mexican casseroles and various kinds of cole slaw. I only made it down half a table before my plate was starting to look horrible so I stopped and ate to filling. Couldn't get to the last bits. The most unusual
dessert was avocado ice cream.
The volunteer fire department showed off it's two new fire engines - clean, sparkling, beautiful things. To those of us who live in a tinder box, a working fire truck parked just down the street, is a beautiful sight. Our local supervisor, Bill Horne was on the scene as usual - he's been an excellent supervisor and very good to our community. Ross Daily, the padrone of the community at 92 is still going strong and he calls the "Let's eat" signal every year. I love the picnic and think it's the kind of glue that keeps people together.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Aroma packing today. I've devised a little packing box with styrofoam holes for the vials. This makes the kit easy to mail and less likely to develop leaks. No matter how tightly the lids are screwed on, when mailed in plastic containers, I find aroma transference and leaking. Hopefully this will solve that problem.

When the aromas leak, there's an odd but consistent aroma that develops - even thought the specific aromas might be different. For me, it's flavor school aroma. Orange, garlic, smoke, lemon, clove, ginger, coffee all melded together into a unidentifiable's not nice and not appealing in the least. In fact, it doesn't smell like food but more like a kind of oil that's heated up, like on brakes or on a small straining electric motor. It is a very persistent aroma too..
lingers in the air, long after the vials are gone.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I have a client that wants us to develop a pilaf for him. He markets a line of mediteranean and middle eastern foods. This would be an addition to that line but also he hopes might be a way into conventional grocery outlets in the US. We talked about Costco and their approach to adding products to their stores...throw it against the wall and if it sticks, it sticks.

Pilaf is a rice dish which originated in the middle east. It is also known to the Turkish as pilar and can be known as plof or pullao or pullaw. Typically it is rice or another grain sauteed in oil or butter and then simmered in a broth with seasonings. In many cuisines it's mixed with meat or vegetables.

In Turkey it is made with bulgur which is the oldest processed food known. Bulgur is prepared precooked wheat, originally from the Middle East. Wheat is soaked, cooked, and dried, then lightly milled to remove the outer bran and cracked. It is eaten in soups and cooked with meat (when it is known as kibbe). Also called ala, burghul, cracked wheat, and American rice.

Pilaf is not difficult to develop but still it takes time to decide on a strategy, some flavors, screen for competitive ingredients, find a contract packer, write ingredient declaration and package instructions that are clear and legal.

My middle eastern friend told me he would change his name if he was younger. He feels having a middle eastern name is a death sentence in western business circles. I wondered how that would feel when your very name strikes dread in people.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Brain Freeze or Spheno Palatine Gangleoneuralgia

A visit to Jamba Juice yesterday where I drank an original size Caribbean. For me, unused to super gulps and the like, this was a huge drink and by the time I was through it I was very uncomfortable and bloated. The icy cold temperature was refreshing but sucking it through a straw lead to the dreaded brain freeze - a stabbing pain in the forehead that lasts a few seconds. Brain freeze is referred pain caused by a combination of super-cooling the sinus cavities and the trigeminal nerve. My husband calls it the tri-genital nerve because he likes the sound of it. The tri-geminal nerve is undersung for a system that affects most of us every single day. Some facts:

Your brain DOES NOT actually freeze. NO damage is caused by brainfreeze.

• 7-Eleven registered the term "brainfreeze" in 1994 to communicate the painful joy of drinking a frozen Slurpee beverage.

• Brainfreeze is also known as an "Ice Cream Headache", and "Frozen Brain Syndrome"

Some sudies suggest that brainfreeze is more common in people who experience migraines. Raskin and Knittle found this to be the case, with brainfreeze occurring in 93% of migraine sufferers and in only 31% of controls. Other studies found that it's more common in people without migraines. These inconsistencies may be due to differences in subject selection–the subjects of the first study were drawn from a hospital population, whereas the controls in the second were student volunteers. In my case, I have never experienced a headache but can trigger brain freeze almost immedicately by touching something cold to a specific spot on my palate.

What happens? When something really cold touches the palate, the body's response to the cold is to vasoconstrict the peripheral vasculature (to reduce the diameter of blood vessels). This vasoconstriction is in place to reduce blood flow to the area, and thus minimize heat loss to keep warmth in the body. After vasoconstriction, they return to normal status and artery size results in massive dilation (vasodilation) of the arteries that supply the palate (descending palatine arteries). The nerves in the region of the palate (greater and lesser palatine nerves) sense this as pain and transmit the sensation of this pain back to the trigeminal ganglia. This results in pain that is referred to the forehead and below the orbit, other regions from which the trigeminal nerve receives sensation. The pain is not caused by the cold temperature alone, but rather the quick warming of the cold palate.

Here's a trigeminal ditty I wrote for flavor school:

You love ice cream and eat in sprees
But go too fast, you get brain freeze
You love hot foods, eat them with ease,
Your tongues on fire and still you seize
still more hot sauce for your Chinese
and salsa for your plate of peas
Or even for your fine head cheese
Your palate wants a constant tease
And sunshine seems to make you sneeze
It's all trigeminals if you please!!!

The trigeminal nerve has three sections: the opthalmic branch (affecting the eyes), the maxillary branch (affecting the nose) and the mandibular branch which is centered in the mouth. If you eat a bowl of chili you can feel all three areas: your eyes will water, your nose will run and your mouth will burn. Trigeminal nerves in the mouth wrap around the fungiform taste buds and there are three times as many of them as there are taste receptor cells. Supertasters, because they have many more taste receptor cells than non-tasters, are far more affected by chili heat than are tasters are non-tasters and they are less likely to eat hot food.

A frequently experienced tri-geminal affect occurs when you go to the dentist and get aenesthetized. Frequently the tri-geminal nerve is numbed and you are left not knowing where your tongue is. It also feels very thick. This is a very strange phenom to experience and makes you appreciate the presence of all the neural systems which work together to keep you informed of where you start and where you stop.

A few other trigeminal favorites are: the tingle of carbonated beverages; nasal pungenecy of horseradish and mustard; the bite of raw onion and garlic; the cooling sensation of menthol. During flavor schools, I give people a mint to eat and think about and sometimes, a vial of ammonia to quickly sniff. Smelling salts were basically ammonia and a whiff of this really jolts the tri-geminals and gets your attention. Last year in Thailand, watching a long holiday parade in the heat of the day, I was passed a vial of smelling salts which the Thai ladies used to revive themselves and regain focus. A little upper sniff.

The dark side of the trigeminal nerve is it's connection to headaches. I know little of this but hope one day some clever researcher will figure out how to stop the great suffering that many experience.

The picture posted is a watermelon brain from camerge on Flickr. Looks pretty cool doesn't it?

Here's to plenty of ice cream, many slushy cold drinks and little or no spheno palatine gangleoneuralgia

Monday, July 16, 2007

Menu for a "down under" guest

We're thinking today about our Australian visitor in August and what to have for dinner that would be American, new for him, good with wine and easy to prepare ahead. Hmmmm. We thought about enchiladas - Mexican food being somewhat scarce down under. Perhaps we'll have a big nacho plate for appetizers, chicken enchiladas and a flan with some kind of caramel foam for dessert. Or we could have big delicious hamburgers on onion buns, cooked on
the Barby! Perhaps artichokes as an appetizer, a grilled fish, local vegetables and home made lemon ice cream (with the meyers and a lavendar foam. We'll have to decide if we want to go sophisticated or more down home. Our friend will be exhausted as he's at the end of an around the world trip.

We decided on: gazpacho with plenty of avocado, a coucous salad mixed with grilled vegetables - zucchini, peppers, eggplant and with halved cherry tomatoes and basil chiffonade. The dressing will be olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. We'll served alaska crab leg meat with the salad.

Desserts will be something foamed. Is this American - no? But do I have a foamer I want to use? yes.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

You Kill Me

Saw "You Kill Me" last night and enjoyed it. A couple of meal scenes but no focus on food, except for a close-up of a turtle eating a piece of cheese!! Lots of drinking scenes because the story is about a Polish alcoholic hit man, played by Ben Kingsley. To shovel the snow he begins by taking a huge slug out of a bottle of vodka. He throws the bottle a few feet, then starts shoveling. When he gets to the bottle, he takes another big slug, then throws the bottle out a few more feet. Good plan. As the film progresses, between slugs from the vodka bottle, he drinks beer. The film is full of scenes of people drinking, bottles being opened, liquor poured, in bars, at home and at an Irish wake. It actually started to nauseate me, as the sister of an alcholic, thinking about all that booze being consumed and how it would make the people feel the next day. Kingsley does a wonderful job of being almost emotionless at the opening of the film when he just joins AA and he's totally unaffected by the people around him, like an automaton. When he drinks in the film, he drinks almost as if he's taking medication - joyless and mechanical. In one scene, he drinks in a bar sitting perfectly upright with that Kingsley ram-rod posture, picking up the glass, sliding it toward him, raising it to his lips at almost right angles and then throwing it back. Scene by scene, seemingly "one day at a time", he starts to show emotion and become connected to people - Tea Leoni, playing someone he meets in the mortuary in San Francisco where he works (she's relieved he isn't gay - alcoholic and a hit man, she can handle) ; his AA sponsor; the black woman at the mortuary; his Polish mafioso "family". Pretty good film with lots of laughs and particularly funny if you know AA or if you know an alcoholic.

Speaking of alcohol, we had a rather poor beer last night with our Indian food after the film. It was watery and thin, like Coors. Our meal consisted of Chicken Tikka, Spinach Saag with homemade cheese, #60 which is potatoes and cauliflower in a kind of curry, rice and garlic/cilantro nan. Taste of India in Temecula is almost always empty which astounds us because the food is quite good - not great, but perfectly serviceable Indian food. The service is excellent because of the low level of patronage. We eat there on Saturday nights if we're going out because almost all the other restaurants in Temecula and Murrietta are crowded and there are long, noisy waits. Pam mentioned last night that they're all the same too! Isn't that the sad fact.

A new amusing routine: we're throwing out left over bread onto the branches of our Norfolk Pine. The branches are widely spaced and almost flat. Bread chunks nestle nicely into the cleft down the center of the branches. Big crows swoop down to the deck, sit on the railing and assess the situation. Then they make their move, fluttering over to a branch to establish a footing and get a beak around a chunk of bread. They carry off pieces about 1/3 of their size, fly a long distance from the house, drop the bread and then eat it. Once one crow comes, the others follow and the tree/birdfeeder can be stripped of a loaf of bread in a few minutes.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Food Memories

Friday the 13th. And on the freeway to Orange County. Lunch at the Bowers museum was very good. Joacham Splichal of the Patina group owns the restaurant and they have some unusual items on the menu. "Airline chicken" caught our attention and we asked what it was. Turns out they get their chicken breasts from a farm on the east coast. The chicken breasts are flown to OC and logically became airline chicken breasts. They also serve "soup of yesterday" instead of "soup of the day", because everyone knows that soup is better the second day.

We had four appetizers: the spanish cheese with grapes baked in sherry, eggplant and carrots cooked with cumin and pomegranite syrup, skirt steak on skewers with mache salad and crab cakes. They were all good but the skirt steak and the eggplants were my favorites. For dessert we had the chocolate pyramid which was a really delicious chocolate mousse served with real, creamy, buttery caramel sauce dotted on the plate. The caramel was so good that I'm sure either Shari or myself would have licked the plate. After lunch we visited the gift shop briefly and then I shot over to my brother-in-laws to help him organize his closet. It wasn't a big job as he doesn't have too much. He took me to dinner at Le Brasserie but it was closed for remodeling so we went to an Italian restaurant in Orange where I had cannelonni and Jim had veal marsala.

Jim is going to Winnipeg and my thoughts turn to the foods we used to love there. Kelekis' hot dogs and chips, Blakes fish and chips, Salisbury house nip and chips, the malts at the Hudson's Bay, Jeannies cakes, pierogis with sour cream and onions, Mrs. Wiebes cream puffs, my mother's paper-thin crepes slathered with butter and brown sugar, fresh green beans out of the garden steamed about a minute and eaten with butter, salt and pepper, pickerel fillets, fiddle head ferns, stewed rhubarb, fresh raspberries with cream, fresh blueberries with cream, smoked goldeye.

From the web, author unknown:

Jeannies cake icing recipe:1 CUP MILK 3 TBSP. CORNSTARCH 1/2 CUP WHITE MARGARINE 3/4 CUP SHORTENING 1 CUP FINE GRANULAR SUGAR (icing sugar) 2 TSP. VANILLA Extract. Combine cornstarch and milk in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring slowly and constantly. When thick remove from heat and keep stirring until mixture is cool. Combine margarine, shortening and sugar and beat with electric mixer until creamy. This takes about 7 - 10 minutes. Add to cooled milk mixture, add vanilla and beat on medium speed till icing resembles whipped cream. Butter can be substituted if white margarine is not available but will color the icing off yellow. This icing is best when made fresh as it does not keep well.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bon Appetito

Carry in food tonight. Spaghetti and meat sauce for me;spaghetti and meat balls for Richard. We had a very busy day and had no time to even think of going to the grocery store and getting a meal together. The meat sauce on the spaghetti was very good - deep and dark with a rich flavor and mahogony color. Marinara sauces leave me cold - the acidic tomatoes I find shallow and for me, they do little for the pasta. Richard's meat balls tasted like...well, meat balls. Rubbery and with a kind of warmed over flavor. But he enjoyed them.

We're searching for the all-time best meat sauce around here. The quest keeps us trying new Italian spots always applying our uniform kitchen test - how is the meat sauce? Most of the sauces lack the depth which comes from long simmering and building layers of flavor with first, a good meat base, fresh tomatoes and a knowledgable hand with the spices and wine. When done correctly a good meat sauce is a work of art. My own meat sauces are always disappointing to me. I try different recipes but none deliver the richness and layering I'm looking for. So far, Vinces in Temecula delivers the best flavor. Incredibly it's also very cheap!

I can cover up a lot of sins with the herbs from my garden. A mediocre Italian dish is incredibly improved by laying a large, fragrant piece of rosemary across a steaming plate. The diner gets the rosemary aroma borne skyward on a cloud of steam. Regardless of the actual taste of the dish, the rosemary does a lot for the perception of what's about to come - and anticipation and preparation is half the experience. The other trick is to serve a good wine and plenty of it. Garlic bread is so ubiquitous and so well liked that a good chunk slathered with garlic butter and then dredged in parmesan cheese is another distraction.

I'd like to spend some time in Italy with someone who really knew where to go and eat. We've had a marvelous time stumbling into places and have eaten well. But oh how wonderful to be taken to the "sure thing" in every location to try the best of the best. Maybe 2008 will be the year we get to do this with one of the many experts who offer such a service.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's Magic

The disappearing sugar trick is progressing! I've been practising and have developed a story to go along with the disappearance. With magic, the distracting story is key..particularly when your magic skills are marginal. Tonight I did the trick for Richard and he liked it and offered suggestions. I think he is lusting after my thumb. He tried it on tonight but he has rather large knuckles and would probably have to have one made to fit. One of those anatomical peculiarities that simply put one out of the game.

While buying my thumb at the magic shop in Temecula I learned that David Copperfield lives in Oceanside! I was surprised to see his scrapbooks in the magic store show case. The owner told me that David comes in to visit and talk and decided to do the shop a favor and leave the scrapbooks there for a while. How cool is that! Visiting the store is great fun as the bulk of the customers are little boys who are more than eager to share their knowledge. They spend much too much time pressing the whoopee cushions and fart machines; but for them, nothing exceeds like excess. I've enjoyed my several encounters with these cute, curious kidlets very much. Yes, the magic store is
a fun stop in Old Town in Temecula.

Last time I was there I discovered the Temecula cheese company. The woman running it is charming and told me she used to be a real estate agent. She got tired of people "disliking her". She decided to find something to do where people were eager to come to see her. After spending some time with the wineries she decided that wine making was what she really wanted to do. Alas, she is not a billionaire so the next best thing she could come up with was the cheese business. Self taught she spent two years working at shops, traveling to cheese makers and taking classes. Now she and her husband have opened a store and are hoping for the best. I bought a few ounces of Port Salut and a half pound of olives mixed. Both were very good.

Plum Jam day

Plum jam was on the menu today. I used about a gallon of plums and made the simple oven recipe Jan has been using for years out of Sunset Magazine. The result was lovely - a beautiful color and nicely balanced sweet and sour. While the plums were in the oven I braised and then simmered pork with green chiles, some salsa and broth until the pork fell apart in shreds. We're eating it wrapped in tortillas with guacamole, salsa and lots of chopped cilantro. We'll eschew our usual glass of wine and trade it in on a Negro Modelo and a Tecate. With both beers we'll try our client twang's beer salt - a little sprinkled in the glass.

Salting beer is a Mexican custom. They do it because it compliments the lime that is traditionally squeezed into the beer and also because it makes the beer foam. I like it because I think some beer tastes better. Oddly, people in Canada used to salt beer. Perhaps it has it's origins in Europe. Miller introduced a beer this year that is modeled after this drink - the chile and salt addition. Following is an announcement about the beer intro.
Miller tries lime-and-salt beer to boost sales
The Wall Street Journal

Miller Brewing Co., known for its conventional slate of American beers, is hoping a brew with a Mexican twist can help pull it out of a sales slump. The Milwaukee brewer is launching Miller Chill, a 110-calorie beer flavored with lime and salt, throughout the U.S. this summer after a successful test run in Texas and other states.

Miller said Chill is expected to be available in the Kansas City area as early as this week.

Chill is Miller’s answer to the michelada, a drink popular at Mexican beach resorts usually consisting of beer, lime juice and ice in a salt-rimmed glass. The brewer hopes Chill, which it calls a premium light lager, will appeal to light-beer drinkers seeking more flavor. Miller is targeting 21- to 35-year-olds with the new brand, said Randy Ransom, Miller’s chief marketing officer. “Consumers are looking for new and different ways to experience beer, and they’re willing to pay for it,” he said. “The core objective of this brand is to take share from competitive mainstream brands by giving light-beer drinkers a compelling reason to trade up.”

Miller began researching the possibility of a michelada-style beer about 18 months ago. Its focus groups suggested American beer drinkers would be willing to try it. “There’s clearly a move toward Latinization if you’ve been watching the American consumer,” said Ransom, citing hits such as the Mexican-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

Michelada ingredients can vary. They sometimes include hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce with a pinch of black pepper. Miller tested more than 20 recipes of Chill. It declined to discuss how the beer is made, citing competitive factors. The brewer began test-marketing Chill in March in San Diego, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida. The beer did so well that Miller decided after four weeks to launch it nationally — an unusually short trial period in the beer industry. Sales to retailers have been about 40 percent higher than the company’s goals, according to a recent memo sent to the company’s distributors.
Michelada- Mexican Beer Cocktail

Micheladas have been around for decades in Mexico and have been especially popular in the Northern areas of Mexico. The Michelada stemmed from the usual practice of adding a squeeze of lime and a dash of salt to a beer. Now there are as many recipes as there are bartenders. Here is a simple recipe for this beer cocktail including the more popular ingredients and suggestions for other variations.
1 ice cold Mexican beer (dark is better)
coarse salt (for the rim)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1-2 dashes of hot chile sauce (such as Tabasco, Tapatio or Cholula)
1 dashes of soy sauce
1 dashes worchestshire sauce
beer mug or large glass (chilled if possible)
lime wedge for garnish
Salt the rim of the glass by wetting the edge with some of the lime juice then dipping it into a plate with salt on it. Now fill the glass about half way with ice and pour in the lime juice, chile sauce, soy sauce and worchestshire sauce.

Mix with a spoon then slowly pour in the beer to the top of the glass. Push the lime wedge onto the edge and serve immediatley. When you have a few drinks, pour the remaining beer into the cocktail.

A dash of Maggi Sauce
A pinch of black pepper.
1-2 pinches of all-purpose meat seasoning.
A pinch of celery salt
Do not salt the rim, instead add 1-2 pinches of salt to the cocktail.
A sprinkle of Pico de Gallo seasoning

My UPS office called this morning telling me to get over there and take a package waiting for me, out of their building. It was smelling up the place. Sure enough when I walked in the door, the smell of onions had leaked out into the whole place. Oh, they suffer there with me as a client.

I find myself plum tired out today.