Search Lobsterland

Monday, December 31, 2012

Snowtrack, Ghost Kitty, New Year's Eve Guitar Shoot

I'm still a bit under the weather, so I didn't get to go ride, but Corinna and our friend Brian went out for a New Year's Eve ride in the snow.

Me, I got bored at home and got out the camera.

Standing outside wasn't working for me, so I decided to try some candlelight photography. Been reading a bit about it, how-to and all that.

The cats didn't miss an opportunity to be a pain in the ass. Something about setting up the sheets for backdrops got them all riled up and they wouldn't quit wrestling around under the sheets and around the edges, knocking stuff about and kicking each other in the head. I shot them with the squirt gun about a dozen times, but somehow my little studio just seemed to attract frisky cats. You can see Jello partially exposed in the above frame, the jerk. He needs to quit turning on the faucets, too.

The first subject I thought of was, of course, an enormous penis. It's a trophy Corinna won in an alley cat race a few years back.

Then I thought of my guitar, which deserves to be photographed almost as much as it deserves to be played a lot more than I've managed to do lately. My uncle built it for me, and it's one of the few earthly possessions I have I'd actually hurt someone over.

It's not what people envision when you say you have a guitar your uncle built you. Not unless your last name is D'Angelico or Benedetto or something.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Olympic Party

This all started when someone said to Corinna that nobody from Kansas was ever going to the Olympics, or something like that.

Corinna was on the women's Judo team for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, of course, where there was more than a bombing. Corinna might not technically be quite 'from Kansas,' she could as easily be described as coming from a Gypsie caravan, but her answer was, 'Would you like to meet some of the five people I know from around here who've already been?'

She roasted a turkey for the dinner party, and I got to 'cheferize' (her term for when I cook).

I made my Papa Legba's Black Bean Soup, about four gallons of it, and about two gallons of Baked Potato Soup.

Papa Legba's is my name for a recipe that started when the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster and I were first married and decided to try a recipe we saw Caprial do on her cooking show.

It's evolved quite a bit over time, this recipe. Usually I add chipotle peppers to the mix, but the sausage was bringing enough heat and I've gotten a little bored with chipotle as a flavor, honestly.

Papa Legba's 
4 lbs Fritz's Andouille Sausage
4 lbs Black Beans
1 Smoked Pork Shank (sectioned in five pieces)
3 lbs White Onions (chopped)
1/4 cup Minced Garlic
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Grapeseed Oil
1 lb Tomatoes (fresh, frozen or canned, it really doesn't matter)

Soak the beans overnight while starting the stock. Stock: sautee onions in the oil until translucent; add garlic, vinegar, tomatoes, pork shank pieces and cover with about three gallons of water. Bring to a boil and simmer about eight hours while the beans soak.

Using a colander, strain the stock into the rinsed, soaked beans, picking out the bones with tongs. After you've deboned the mixture of onions and pork shank meat, add that to the pot, slice the sausage into one-inch pieces and add it to the pot, topping up with water. Bring to a boil then simmer for a couple of hours.

The baked potato soup was a first for me, though the aforementioned ex-wife used to make something like this when I made the black bean soup for New Year's.

Lobsterland Baked Potato Soup
8 lbs Baking Potatoes (I used Yukon Gold this time, but it would work with almost any variety)
1 lb Bacon
1 gallon Whole Milk
2 sticks Butter
12 oz. shredded White Cheddar Cheese 2 bunches Green Onions, chopped
2 tbsp Minced Garlic
1/4 cup Flour

Bake potatoes until done. Cut bacon into 1/2" pieces and cook until crispy, drain on paper towels. Melt butter in stock pot, whisk in flour until incorporated. Add milk, garlic and about half the onions. Cube the potatoes, your choice whether to skin them (I baked mine too long and held back some skins because they were leathery and tough). Bring to a simmer, add about half the bacon and cheese, reserving the rest of it along with the remaining onions for people to top their bowls with.

Bring to a simmer and serve.

As far as the party itself, I think we only had one other Olympian show up, Nigerian boxer Olanrewaju Durodola, who has since turned pro. Actually, I think his coach, Lawrence Abdalla may have been an Olympian, too, and he was there. But we had lots of interesting people come, including Wyatt Ohle, who has Olympic ambitions in Judo.

One of our guests commented that you always meet interesting people at our parties, and I realized this was no accident. It would never occur to me or Corinna to invite people we didn't find interesting. Rent liberated Cuban immigrant, roller derby girl,

And of course we made them all sign the 'guest book.' Whenever someone comes to our house for the first time, we measure them against the pantry door jamb and put their name and date on it so a future owner of the house might wonder if a hundred and fifty people grew up here all at once.

Em didn't want to come down at first, so I started sending people up to her room, figuring by the time ten or twelve people were up there she'd be flushed out.

The next day, Em asked me who the weird guy with the beard taking all the pictures was, and I was like, "That was me." She meant our friend Aaron, who I admit has a much beardier beard than mine. I'm not sure he's actually any weirder than me.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


I got Jenga for Christmas from my brother and his wife along with a bunch of other party preparations from games to snacks.

Tonight, after dinner, we decided to play Jenga. By 'we' I mean my wife and I. My kiddos weren't really into it.

Though to her credit, Mo actually made moves when we told her to and almost got the notion that one hand means one hand.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ghost of Christmas Actual

Of course I got a lump of coal in my stocking. How could it be otherwise? I'll never learn.

Actually, the part where I never learn is buying those Accoutrements branded novelty items: the corn dog mints that turn out not to taste like corn dogs at all, they're just mints. Supposedly Wasabi lip balm that doesn't have any wasabi in it at all, just wax.

No, I didn't expect my lump of coal to be actual coal, but I hoped it was licorice candy at least. That's usually the deal. But no, it's bubble gum flavored bubblegum, just black. Gross.

Maybe I'll have to behave better so I can buy myself something I'd like and put it in my stocking.

After we did Christmas morning at our house, we headed to my Dad's in the afternoon.

I have a lot of nieces and nephews. According to the decibel meter, I think it's around 308 of them.

Dad's house on Christmas Day is loud like a Flogging Molly concert mixed with a political convention and a prison riot.

It should stress me out, but I actually enjoy it. My brother used to wear earplugs to these events (might still, I'm not sure). But he has his own pint-sized horseman of the apocalypse these days, so maybe he just got used to it.

I made egg nog. From scratch. I've been experimenting of late, and I discovered that you can't just use cream. It ends up being too thick, even if you dose it liberally with booze (I do).

But put an egg in a bowl with maybe a cup of cream and a cup of whole milk, grind some fresh nutmeg, put in a dash of cinnamon, a pinch of ground cloves.

Oh, and then the brandy and/or rum. For Christmas I went with a combination, two parts Christian Brothers brandy and one part Captain Morgan spiced rum.

I heard a rumor that my egg nog might be on the strong side, but I don't believe it for a second.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day!

I rode home from work after an improbable number of days out of the saddle. My cycling log skips from 12/16 to 12/26—I got busy getting ready for Christmas and ended up not riding my bike to and from work like usual.

I thought maybe after the time off and how much colder it's gotten, that it wouldn't be fun. But it was such a relief (except for the occasional icy patches). I was amply geared and comfy the whole way.

I got home and fired up the grill do do some burgers. I remembered a neighbor I used to have marveled that I'd grill in all weather. Back when I wouldn't have tried to ride a bike home in 20ºF weather—I still would have barbecued.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Adam

It's my year to have the girls Christmas Day, so we did the whole shindig at my Mom's on Christmas Adam so they could go back to their mother's house for Christmas Eve day/evening.

We went to church first, beautiful service.

My nephew, Austin, has started speaking more and more in sentences, and he cracks me up. He does that Elmo thing of speaking of himself in the third person. And he absolutely loves Max, so we'd brought the cranky old dog along specifically so he could visit his biggest fan.

When he got a Thomas the Tank Engine pop up big enough for him to walk around inside, I asked, "Are you going to sleep in there?"

"Austin IS going to sleep in there!" was his answer.

I'm pretty sure it was too exciting for him to ever fall asleep inside. He spent the next little bit announcing that "Austin is on Sodor Island!"

He is still a blurry lad. I took several hundred shots with my camera, and I thought I'd dialed it in pretty good as far as high ISO, fast shutter speeds, etc. But three fourths of the photos were impossibly blurry.

By way of Christmas dinner, my Mom fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, etc. which I think is a fantastic holiday meal. Some might say that's not a 'holiday' meal, but there was green bean casserole with fried onions.

And apple crisp and homemade mincemeat pie for after.

Mincemeat is the dessert that eats like a meal.