Monday, June 30, 2014


Grain,  hops, water and yeast, not really produce. Even in a town where ketchup was classified as a vegetable for the school lunch program,  we play fast and loose with definitions.  There is a 20 page court opinion in this town on the definition of chicken.  But beer is not really produce.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cherry Pie

We were at the farmers market this morning and the bear mentioned that he LOVES Cherry pie.  I have had never made one.  So I bought a bag of fresh cherries and looked for a recipe.  Step one is pit four cups of cherries.  The cherry pitter is in the other kitchen, so I did them by hand with a knife.  Really not bad, cut them around the outside from the stem to the stem, split in half and the pit comes out fairly easy.  The riper the cherries the easier the pit comes out.  Put them in a sauce pan, with a quarter cup of good brandy, check the quality of the brandy, no rubbish. heat over medium heat, as they come to a simmer they will release a great deal of liquid.  Stir in 1.5 cups of sugar and 4 tablespoons of cornstarch.  Let simmer for a few minutes,  The liquid will thicken into a nice sauce. Let this cool to about room temperature (30 minutes.)  For the pastry start with half a pound of cold butter.  I cut this into cubes and droped into the food processor.  Add 2.5 cups of all purpose flower, a tablespoon or two of sugar, and a generous pinch of salt.  Pulse the food processor to  blend, stop at a course texture - be careful not to over process.  While steadily processing add 4-6 tablespoons of cold water. The texture will change, though it won't form a ball.  Stop processing, over processing will result in tough pastry.  Turn out onto a work surface, press into a ball, divide roughly in half and put half in the refrigerator to stay cool.  Because this is a butter based crust, keeping it cool is critical.  Roll the bottom crust, line the pie plate. Fill the bottom crust with the cherry filling.  Roll out the top and crimp the edge.  I made four vent holes, but the bubble up comes where it comes.  Bake at 375-400 for 45 minutes.  It may boil over, I baked it on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  If I had known it was the easy, I would have done  this years ago.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Remember When

Remember mechanical ice cube trays.  I grew up with these.  I didn't have an ice maker in the house until I bought my second house.  Would a teenager even know how to get ice out of one of these? Now this one is stainless steel,  how did we survive aluminum.  My mother would be shocked at the price,  $30.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Lobster roll for lunch.  A nice treat.  There is a hole in the wall place across from AARP headquarters that does a nice lobster roll. It is hard to imagine,  but 100 years ago prisoners in Maine sued the department of corrections complaining about too much lobster.  Pennies short of $20 for a lobster lunch today. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ranting Ahead!

Okay, I have been trying to think of something entertaining, but the muses are on vacation (wish I was with them.) There are a couple of news stories from a couple of days ago that are bugging me, so here I go with a minor rant.

What is happening to our society? 
On Monday there were news reports of a major “rescue” – really an round up and arrest of teenage prostitutes, some as young as 13 in a couple of major American cities. The report was that most were runaways; at least half had never been reported missing by their families. What is wrong with our society when a life on the streets as a prostitute is preferable to a life at home, finishing middle school and high school? Why are officials excited about re-uniting these young people with families who either didn’t notice they were missing or couldn’t be bothered filing a police report? 

The second was a story about a couple in Texas who had a baby delivered by C-section while without health insurance and were billed about $50,000 by the hospital.  Why is acceptable in a country that spends as much on health care as a percentage of gross national product as the USA, fails to provide basic health insurance coverage to every citizen?  We spend more a percentage of gross national product on health care than England, Canada, France or Germany, and 20% of our population has no coverage. This is just not right.  

The news reporters hired a medical billing review service to look at the $50,000 bill, and reduced it by $30,000 by contesting charges for care that was never needed and by arguing for average cost of care charges – not charges that were 2-3 times the average for the area.  Medical billing is the Wild West. Why can’t we agree on what we will pay for treatment, tax incomes across the board to pay for it, cover everyone and run the profiteers out of the country? No American should face bankruptcy over necessary health care. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What Makes You Happy

Find a way to do something everyday that you enjoy.  Life is too short to not enjoy yourself.  I keep being told that control is an illusion, but I try to do something that I can control for a few minutes each day. Color outside the lines, stretch the limits, enjoy the noise or the quiet, spend quality time with your favorite person - time alone, or join in the crowd.  Be the performance, or the audience.  Do what you want to do, and enjoy. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The General

There was a running joke about George Washington slept here. In colonial times travelers generally found hospitality along the road and travel was slow so he slept a lot of places.  The steeple in the picture is the church in Alexandria Virginia that George Washington attended when he was staying in his townhouse a couple of blocks away.  Stop in for a tour and they will invite you to sit in the General's box. His house in Alexandria was torn down in the 1800's,  not uncommon. It was reproduced sometime in the past 50 years and is a private residence.  It is a common tour bus stop.  I don't think I would want to live there.  But what a nice neighborhood. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Panda Horn

I commute by bicycle two or three days a week when the weather is nice.  It is about 11 miles each way.  It takes me about an hour each way.  Only 10 or 15 minutes more than riding the subway.  About 8 miles of it is on the Mount Vernon Trail. It is a well designed and maintained pedestrian and bike route that runs along the Potomac River.  It is technically a National Park.  The National Park Service posts a set of rules for cyclists.  On the list is the requirement that the bike have a bell or horn to warn pedestrians.  For a couple of years I had a simple bell, that no one seemed to hear.  We were in a bike shop a couple of weeks ago and Jay came up behind me squeaking the cutest horn, shaped like a Panda. People notice it and no doubt remember the fat middle aged man with the squeaky bear on his bike. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Looking Good

So there she sits at the end of the car doing her makeup.  I don't know how women can do it.  Bump and rattle and they are sticking a pencil in their eye.  I would be blind and look like a clown if I tried that. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Warm and Humid

Near 80 degrees with rain at 8:00 am. Welcome to summer in the swamp. I have been insanely busy in the office the past few days.  I keep reminding myself,  if it was easy,  they could hire someone cheap to do it.  I just wish I wasn't spending so much time cleaning up the mess. There are more productive things I could do.  But the mess must be cleaned up.  Failure is not an acceptable option. 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Hole in the ground or foundation

When you find yourself in the bottom of a hole, stop digging. 

Without a firm foundation,  great structures fail (just ask the guy's in Piza)

Which am I digging this week, a hole or a foundation? 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


I had a nice "to-do" list for this afternoon in the office.  Then the emails started coming in.  A problem that I thought was resolved two weeks ago has not been, the person was told today that the simple solution we offered two weeks ago can't be done. She was told we can't do that, until you do what you can't do, despite the fact that we told you we could.  And that was the customer service department.  We are still making excuses for millions of dollars in new software that does not work after over a month.  My afternoon went down hill from there.  I spent three hours apologizing for screw ups by other departments that I have no control over and in one major case, don't even have a working contact in.  Then another issue with the same process, and another, and yet another.  Two people grossly overcharged, another undercharged in a way I can't understand (and all three work for the same national organization.) I finally did get someone to talk to me.  I told her "I understand why some departments contract with outside providers to do this work, I could cuss at an outside provider and not feel guilty about it." I didn't get anything done on my list. 

I need to change colognes, this one seems to be attracting morons. 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Farmers Markets

During the depression, my father's family started growing vegetables, and keeping bees to produce honey that they sold on the venerable eastern market in Detroit.  My father left high school during World War II to expand the family presence on the market (my grandfather was working 70 hours a week building Jeeps, my grandmother was working as a book keeper for a machine shop.)  Sometime in the 1950's the family stopped market gardening and shifted honey sales to wholesale.  Markets declined for 30-40 years and with them small family farms struggled. Over the past 10-15 years farmers markets and family farms have undergone a renascence. A google search will likely tell you where your nearest markets are.