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Friday, December 31, 2010

Boxing Day / Christmas Part Deux

Christmas at my Dad's was on the 26th.

Of all the Christmas festivities, this was the one I fretted most about springing Corinna into. Not that I thought she wouldn't like this wing of the family, far from it, it's just a lot of moving parts, a lot of noise, a lot of chaos.

The Cuz Count is up to ten with the addition of Austin, and those cousins range in age from six months to sixteen years, with an emphasis on pre-teen.

And, true story, there were two bloody noses at Thanksgiving from just roughhousing.

Nothing to worry about though: if she was in the slightest but intimidated by the gathering I doubt she would have performed her 816 poem.

The Chiefs did their part to secure a playoff berth for the fist time since '04.

Mo got some 'Molly Girls' dolls, what the 'Glamour Girls' says if you look at it the right way:

And then there was the unveiling of the calendar.

Mo surprised me by having some pie (usually she shuns it).

Is a fake drunk more charming than the real thing?

The Ghost Hunter got a light that makes him into a vaporous manifestation. I guess now he's got to find himself.

And as usual, I bought the scratchers tickets Todd would have given everyone. I don't know if it was related to my late step-brother's bipolar condition, but he gave everyone lottery tickets at Christmas. When I tried to tell him how bad the odds were, how it was a tax on stupidity, he just asked, 'I got an extra one, you want it?'


My nephew has struck me as the most serious little squirt I've ever met. He smiles enough for his parents, but when I hold up a camera, he looks ready to speak with HR about my conduct.

Then he got a load of Em at my Mom's on Christmas night and it was like he'd never seen anything so funny and charming in his whole life.


That 'My Friends Tigger and Pooh' song has been in heavy rotation on Mo's YouTube this year, so when I saw these last month my hard-to-shop-for kid went into the no-brainer column.

Not sure the art pads made as much of an impression, though I got some of Mo's art as a present, and not only do I think she'll do great things on the pads but I think I know where I might come up with backgrounds for next year's family calendar.

Em makes the most amazing things out of modeling clay, mainly for her Barbies. Including but not limited to a clarinet, salad, and poop in the Barbie toilet.

Just for the record, I called it: all the bare midriffs and whatnot that's been in fashion the past few years, I knew argyle socks were right around the corner.

Mo loves her a rubber chicken. Loves it to death, usually within 24 hours.

And what makes a better Christmas dinner than fried chicken?

Made 'Em Myself

I made calendars again this year as Christmas presents, which is a fun way to share pics of my daughters with, among others, my Mom who won't under any circumstances entertain the idea of a computer in her home.

Em made a request awhile back, asking me if I could make her a notebook that went with the business cards I made her on Take Your Daughter to Work Day.

I got the juice to make that happen, right? Since Mo doesn't really write in notebooks, but does fantastic art (specializing in abstract expressionism), I made her a couple of art pads.

I wasn't sure how much Corinna wrote on paper as opposed to keyboarding everything like I do, but I've got evidence that she at least sometimes writes poems on paper the old fashioned way, so I made her notebooks featuring the logos for her business and poetry project with bicycle wheel watermarks worked into the pages at random for good measure.

Corinna guessed what it was because I made the mistake of inquiring about her use of notebooks. I laughed and said, 'But you haven't seen the design.'

Which really is the gift, notebooks are nothing special. Moleskine makes high dollar notebooks (the ones I made weren't acid free stock, but they were on Classic Crest 80 lb text, better paper than any notebook I've ever bought), but Peanuts and Pac-Man isn't exactly personalized.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hitchin' Post

People in Gardner seem surprised by the pink helmet mohawks, but what really throws them is the sight of two people using bicycles as transportation, say for a quick run to Price Chopper for the needful ingredients to finish dinner.

At least that's what I make of it when we are the only bikes in the rack at said Price Chopper. Full disclosure, I never even noticed this store had a bike rack, tiny as this hitching post is.

Flat Santa

Corinna and I went to a Christmas Eve brunch with a bunch of my oldest and bestest friends. One of these friends was doing a Flat Santa project kind of like the gnome from Amélie.

I was disappointed we ended up not riding there. In part this was a time issue, but it was also cold and rainy and that latter condition is one I'm not that geared for.

The reason it broke my heart not to arrive on two wheels, though, is when our hostess learned we were coming by bike she made a point that we needn't worry about bringing something for the pot luck. Me, I'm new to transportational cycling but even I can carry a loaf of holiday bread or a bag of cookies. Corinna could probably manage hot soup and a delicate meringue pie.


Something about the holidays, or maybe it's cold weather, just seems to recalibrate the human carburetor (mine, anyway). The summer mixture is just too lean when the mercury starts staying in the bulb at the bottom of the thermometer to huddle with itself, jumping in place to stay warm.

So I made pork chops the other day. I experimented with breading them by dredging them in flour, then dipping them in buttermilk and then dredging them in bread crumbs.

I also experimented with bitter as a pan fat, and the results are pleasing, great color, flavor and texture, but once it finally does start to brown it seems to lose all the properties fast and begin scorching. Canola oil is much more predictable and longer-lasting, though without the great initial performance.

A few nights later I made tempura chicken on the way to doing a General Tso's chicken. I forgot to add the corn starch to the sauce to thicken it before throwing the chicken in, resulting in pretty soggy General Tso's, though the girls enjoyed the tempura chicken straight up.

Then I got some 'bistek suave' from El Bonito Michoacan, the taqueria y carniceria with the buck taco Tuesday special the Poet Laureate of Lobster Land turned me on to.

The 'soft steak' was indeed tender, but it was also cut so thin you could almost see through it. This is, I think, a good thing, but it'd have taken me six years to bread it all for the chicken-fried thing.

As it is, I fried about half, dredging in corn starch, then dipping into an egg/buttermilk wash, then dredging in crushed corn flakes before frying in canola oil.

The other half I simply browned with some garlic and salt as fajita meat.

The orange hot sauce from El Bonito Michoacan made a fantastic addition to the chicken fried steak, much better than gravy. Served it with a side of bleu cheese slaw.

Seems a lot of fried food, especially considering the month has been one continuous food orgy between work and home and relatives' houses.