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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Not Scottish Woodcock



Or not quite. It's a recipe I came up with when I was trying to figure what to eat before the Ren Fest extravaganza, and consulted the Joy of Cooking.



I sauteed a tin of anchovies, oil and all. To this I added about a medium onion worth of chopped onions and a tablespoon or so of chopped garlic.



To this, I added three eggs and a topping of shredded cheese.



Wrap in flour tortillas with a smear of Mrs. Renfro's Habanero Salsa (the bestest salsa in the world), and you have...



I don't know. Lobsterish Woodcock? Scotch Bonnet Woodcock? What the hell is a woodcock anyway? A game bird, I think, so who knows how a recipe for chicken eggs got called that in the first place.



Saturday, September 29, 2007

I Smell Smoke...

Okay, I didn't want to get up. Mo was up, I knew this. She'd made her usual, very audible exit from her bedroom, ready for the day with a vengeance.

I pleaded, 'snuggle with Daddy?'

This is my way of extending the night. Sometimes she'll pretend to lie still while I pretend I'll get any more meaningful rest after she's up.

It's stupid, because I know I'd have an easier time finding Bigfoot hanging out with Jim Morrison and Elvis than I have of getting Mo back to sleep, and if she's not asleep I can't be.

Example: today.



After she bored of playing with the air from my CPAP, trying to bruise my ribs with her fonching about and asking me to tickle her, Mo went into the kitchen. And I was going to follow her, but in a sec.

And I blinked my eyes and opened them to the smell of smoke. And Barley was agitated and I couldn't quite place the smell. Not food, but not fire. Or not quite fire.

Nachos.

Mo has learned to cook some things for herself, notably baked potatoes. She learned that one lesson a little too well. Four minutes is perfect for a baked potato, but as was discovered a couple weeks ago, not such a good setting for three lonely French Fries.

I don't know how long she set these nachos for, but I told her five times while I helped her re-do this breakfast, 'Thirty seconds, tops. Three-zero-start, that's it. Nachos don't take that long, really.

Really.
A perfect Friday evening for it: no wind, the weather uncharacteristically comfortable (as it only is about five days a year in the Midwest).

Sidewalk chalk & rockets. Had so much fun even launched Thor's Candycane when it was getting too dark to fly. He's such a heavy bird, I knew he'd land in the field. You could see more with the eye than it looks like on the video, but light was fading fast.








video

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Joy of Despair

To paraphrase one of despair-dot-com's lithographs: the common element of all your failed endeavors is you.



These posters are only funny because they're so true. Your best might not be good enough; in every race there's one winner, leaving the rest to be losers; if it's you versus the world, just hope you can cover the spread.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lasagnchilada Verde




Okay, same song different sauce.

Sort of.



Okay, start with about 1/3 cup olive oil, and get it hot while you dice up a huge onion. Or a couple of medium ones, but I had one that must have weighed a pound. Sauté those onions until they're turning translucent and browning a bit, then add a heap of minced garlic. By a heap, I mean big serving spoon, everything it will haul out of a big-ass jar of garlic.



Maybe a tablespoon of Chipotle powder.
Two bags of 'ground meatless' (veggie burger crumbles)
A small can of Extra-Hot Ro-Tell
a 28oz can of Enchilada Verde sauce



When all that stuff is simmering, and you've heated the oven to 425ºF, layer some corn tortillas in the casserole dish; a layer of meatless verde sauce, a layer of shredded cheese (in this case, Colby-Jack-Mozzarella shreds). Two pounds of cheese in all.









Another layer of tortillas, another layer of magic verde, another layer of cheese. Repeat until you're out of stuff to repeat it with, then bake for 25 minutes at 425º.

Monday, September 24, 2007

No Country for Old Men

Okay, last movie I saw in the theaters (and I don't count that stupid dragon flick I took the honyocks to) was Shop Girl. For a frame of reference, I was still married when I saw it.

Last time I was excited about a movie coming out, we're talking Lord of the Rings action. I saw each of those three first run, and it was worth every overpriced kernel of popcorn.

So now I have a new movie to wait for: my favorite Cormac McCarthy novel is coming to the big screen. And it's a book, as I re-read it, I thought, this would make a bitchin' movie.

And I think I must have been right: every scene in the trailer is something I remember vividly from the novel.

Except in the novel, Sheriff Bell says 'He seen the same things I seen, and it made a impression on me.' Looks like Tommy Lee Jones delivers a more grammatically correct version of the line, a much less Cormac McCarthy Texas Border version.



What he's speaking of having 'seen' is mostly the work of Anton Chigurh, maybe the best villain I've ever encountered. And McCarthy specializes in this: Chigurh tops John Glanton and Judge Holden boiled up with Hannibal Lecher and filtered through Chappy from End of Alice.

Still, this is gonna be a great flick.

Big Bird Gets Lost



Hey, what can I say? 'Big Bird Vamooses' and 'Big Bird Runs Away' aren't titles I can scam from the Children's Television Workshop.

And really, he's not lost, he's nesting in my neighbor's tree. The neighbor who has the unique privilege to know what it is to have every fucking train that barrels through Gardner blast it's horn 40 feet from your bedroom window, every fifteen minutes sometimes.



I left a note, along the lines of 'if/when the rocket in your tree gets blown down, I'd love to have it back.' But the phone hasn't rung.



But we went and launched a couple of two-stage rockets, and Mo decorated the general public with sidewalk chalk, and Em caught a frog and then waded into the mud to return him to water. As if he wouldn't find a puddle on his own.



So now I have the Big Bird booster stage but no Big Bird. Guess I'll have to build Big Bird II.

The The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby fared a little better, though I have to re-glue a fin on its booster. The booster, by the way, landed pissing distance from the pad. Talk about hitting close to home.






And I still don't know what the deal is with Mo's logo.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wonderscope

One of my birthday presents was a yearly pass to Wonderscope, where Mo in particular has been asking to go on a regular basis.


So we went. And used all the pipe cleaners in the crafts room.










Black Olive Bow Ties & Chicken



Okay, I boiled up a pound of bow tie pasta and added:

A jar of Alfredo sauce
2 cans of whole medium black olvives
1 pound steamed broccoli.

Served it on the side with some baked chicken. Not bad if I say so myself.

Mo liked the chicken, I know: I'd made enough to have three lunches of leftovers for work and when Mo got up the next day she ate the chicken from all of these for breakfast.

Here, Eat This



I can't understand why my honyocks distrust me so much when it comes to food.

Case in point: I made Em a grilled cheese sandwich with both American and processed Swiss cheeses, a bit of cream cheese and black olives, and she refused to eat it. She likes everything that's on this sandwich.

Then she asked for a video, and I told her only if she tried the sandwich, and she grudgingly ate a bite and...

She liked it. Ate the whole thing.

A couple days later, I made the same combo in a tortilla instead of on bread and it was as if she'd never had that sandwich. She didn't trust me, but then when I coerced her into trying it she liked it.

Mo also tends to act as if I'm attempting to poison her when I ask her to try new foods.

Most recently, I bought chipped beef, the stuff you use to make Shit on a Shingle or those tortilla roll up appetizers? Again, Em didn't want to try it. I'm like, come on, it's lunch meat. You eat bologna with peanut butter and you won't try this?

So she tries a bite and then she's asking if she can have a chipped beef sandwich to take for lunch to school the next day.

I wonder when she won't try to close her lips and hide her face when I'm offering new foods. Ever?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No Big Secret

Okay, I'm told I can say as many positive things about my latest freelance client as I want.

I'd have taken some snaps of the project I was working on had I known.



And honestly, I've never had anything bad to say about Missouri's 'second largest brewery.' They're a class act all the way and always have been. Probably the closest to a complaint I ever uttered was that they used twist-off bottles that I couldn't re-use for my homebrews back when I was trying to build up a stock of bottles for that purpose. Before I got smart and started kegging my beers, I settled for Sam Adams many times when what I really wanted was a Bully! Porter or a Boulevard Pale.

So anyway, my phone rings and it's Missouri's best brewery with an opportunity for a production artist to mock up beer bottles for some soon-to-be-released libations. This is as close as I might get to being John Scofield when Miles called. The job might appear to lack glamour, but it's Boulevard.

Plus, I'm told, these beers aren't secrets, so I can excitedly share the news with all twelve of my readers: the Smokestack Series they're coming out with, yubba.

I sampled the Belgian Quadrupel (The Sixth Glass) at the brewery (it's been awhile since I had a Westmalle, but if you want over the top Trappist ale, this is the real deal). Their head brewer is from Belgium, which is Mecca, Disney World, payday, the State Fair, demolition derby and Super Bowl all rolled into one (for beer lovers).

The brave souls in charge have given their Belgian genius license to play with some very dangerous yeasts. The quad is amazing: funky, fruity, big and delicious, and if that yeast ever got into their Wheat Beer—the beer that pays the bills—lights out, baby. The Saison in the series uses the even more menacing Brettanomyces, which fits the style but is a bacteria so spooky even homebrewers get edgy thinking about it.

And I came away with a case of the Double Wide IPA, a 'double IPA' that's hard to distinguish from a hop-head's homebrew. This is a beer I would make. In fact, it's a beer I have made, more or less, a few times.

Long Strange Tripel is the fourth beer in the series, and if it's anything like the Tripel Steven made a few years ago in a pilot batch, hold on to your monastic vows.

So here's the news, since it turns out to be less than top secret: Boulevard...new beers...Belgian stuff mainly...comes in champagne bottles...probably be pricey but worth every penny...



You are allowed to show your pleasure (as the saying goes).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spray Mount

I don't blog about my freelance work as a general rule. I know for a fact that some of the people I've done work for consider this a major party foul, so I extend the same discretion across the board.

It's one of those things like always making your deadlines, even if it means pulling an all-nighter, it's just part of the gig.

So even though the latest taste of freelance work is something I'm actually excited about, excited beyond the payday part, I'm not telling who it's for or whatever, but I'll tell you it involved paste-up.



Back when the plains were black with buffalo, this is how a lot of my workday was spent: my trusty Exacto, steel ruler, a can of Spray Mount. Super 77 is too sticky, and glue sticks are too messy. Photo Mount too sticky, Re Mount isn't quite sticky enough. Display Mount is Super 77 in a different can as far as I can tell. Spray Mount was perfect because you could move stuff around if you had to, but it wouldn't fall off the art boards on the way to the printer.

Anyway, the present assignment was mocking up product, which meant Exacto-ing the labels out and mounting them on the bottles. Patience and a steady hand required. I hadn't realized how rusty my freehand cutting skills were until I tried to cut a smooth curve.

And to mount it? Naturally, Spray Mount was my first thought. But the guy who hired me for the gig said he'd had good luck with double-stick tape, which has the benefit of not filling your lungs with fumes. This turned out to be excellent advice.

First off, besides the fume factor, Spray Mount has a way of getting on and into everything within 100 yards of the can. And that's before you open the can and use it. Back in the day, everything in my studio was coated with a fine layer of adhesive and the dust that adhesive collected. My CD player, my chair, books I was reading, everything got tacky and then dirty. Everything. Including, no doubt, my lungs.



I still have a few possessions going back that far, stuff I had in the dingy little hole we called an office in my former life, an office that was declared urban blight and bulldozed not long after my then employer went tits up. And those few possessions are still coated in Spray Mount. The jewel cases of all the CDs I owned during the first Bush Presidency and the first Clinton term, for instance.

I was surprised at how well the double-stick tape worked. It got the job done, the bottles looked more or less properly labeled, though to my eye the flaws of hand craftsmanship are fundamentally different from the flaws of fast-moving machinery, and there was zero mess.

I wish the geniuses at 3M had invented double-stick tape back when I did paste-up work every day.