Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watching the Convention

A lot of people that I know have tuned out politics this month claiming it's just too vindictive and evil spirited.  Frankly, I'm highly entertained by all the politicking going on in Florida this week and then in Charlotte for the Democrats.

I listened to the speeches last night and contrary to the pundits who hated it, I found that Chris Christie's speech was exciting and well done.  I wish he were a Democrat.  He's got fire! 

Then very contrary to all the news media today, I was turned off my Ann Romney's speech.  She just seemed whimpy to me.  Maybe my main problem was:  do we honestly think this woman looks 63 years old, has had five children, suffered from cancer and now has MS?  Honestly?

It takes a heap of money to be as well maintained as this woman is.

Now compare her to Hilary Clinton who is only one year older.

Do you honestly think that genetics makes this much difference?

I know this is superficical -- but to be that well cared for says to me, this woman and her family simply don't relate to my life and how I've lived it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kitchen Diaster

After cooking every meal since I've retired, I thought it only fair to request one of Hubby's best dinners -- one that he has done so often, he could do it in his sleep.  He agreed, but rather reluctantly, I thought.

Saturday I got a family pack of drum sticks for him and one of wings for me, as well as bag of Yukon Gold potatoes for some buttery mashed. About 11:00 Sunday morning he ambled to the kitchen and started paring potatoes.

The smells for the next hour were rather strange.  But I hadn't had his fried chicken since Christmas, so maybe I had forgotten the smell of bubbling grease.  About 12:15 Hubby came and sat next to me, turned the TV down, and growled, "You bought store generic chicken, no vegetable oil, and generic flour.  How many times must I tell you to buy good food products?  The flour wouldn't stick to the chicken and I could only find olive oil to fry the chicken in.  I did six wings for you but I just couldn't finish up anything else because nothing worked right.  Why didn't you buy what we needed when you went to the store?"  He then proceeded to give me a long lecture on the benefits of Pillsbury flour as opposed to generic flour which would never stick to the surface of chicken.

What could I do?  He was probably right -- it could well have been generic flour, though once it was in the flour container I had no way of knowing just what brand it really was.  I listened, told him I was sorry, and agreed that when he cooked next he would have Pillsbury flour.  But the vegetable oil was under the kitchen cabinet on which sat the microwave -- where he had kept it since 1973.  "Why didn't you ask me if you couldn't find it?" I queried.  That question didn't seem to sit well. 

Hubby, in a huff, told me my potatoes were ready and the six wings had been fried -- in olive oil and probably wouldn't be edible..   I could plate up what I wanted to eat.  I wandered into the kitchen, and the Yukon Gold potatoes were perfect.  But the chicken wings were sticky and burned black on the skin.  I turned them over a couple of times and looked at them awhile, and finally I took a taste.  And light dawned. 

I reached up over the frig and took down the big canister of white powder and took it, along with the vegetable oil into the computer room where Hubby was still scowling over his favorite compute game.  "Here is the full bottle of vegetable oil" and I showed him the container. "Is this the canister you used for flour?" I asked next.  "YES!" Hubby huffed. So I opened it, stuck my finger in - and brought him a whiff.  "Sniff it," I commanded. 

After Hubby looked at the powder and then sniffed it -- he was even more angry.  "For Pete's sake, why did you switch containers on me?"

"Because you bought five huge bags of powdered sugar - and it was going bad just sitting in the cabinet.  It needed to go in an air-tight container If you had just looked at the sticky mess in your bag of shaken chicken, you could have easily seen this was NOT in any semblence or form, flour!  Now, what am I to fix you to eat, because clearly you did not make yourself any dinner."

"I'll just have a sandwich," Hubby mumbled. 

I went to the kitchen, fixed him a sandwich and some fruit -- all of which he ate without even a "thank you:" uttered.  I  gave the dogs a chicken wing each, and took the remaining four wings that Hubby hadn't fried, floured then, seasoned them, and cooked them up in vegetable oil. 

After my dinner, I took in the flour container, showed it to Hubby, who gave it his most evil glare, and we didn't speak to each other the rest of the afternoon. 

My question is (which I admit I haven't had the courage to ask Hubby):  if you've been flouring chicken for at least 70 years, how come you couldn't distinguish confectioner's sugar from all-purpose flour?  Once I tasted the chicken, once I looked seriously at the gooey bag of shaken chicken -- I knew immediately he had used something other than flour - and I'm not the seasoned cook of this outfit.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Siding is up.  New windows are installed.  Foundation is repaired and if we ever see rain again, the basement does not leak.  Guttering is replaced.  Overgrown trees and bushes are cut down in  both front and back yards.  

New mattress and box springs have been delivered and the 15 year old mattress and 25 year old box springs have been removed from the premises.  The old mattress was prefect in the middle -- but both sides had been worn into deep cavities.  The dogs sleep in the middle.  The humans slept in the sloping sides.  Now everyone is on an equal flat, firm, and pillowy surface.  All the pillows have been replaced with fresh, non-allergenic ones. 

New plumbing has been installed in the tub so we now have a functioning shower.  We once again have flowing water in the house -- which was shut off for two days for water pipe replacements. Bathroom has been completely taken apart to facilitate plumbing work which was actually pretty dog-gone messy.  Linen closet had to have all shelving removed to get into the tub.  Now everything is cleaned and put back in place -- including all the sheets and towels in the linen closet. 

The air conditioner which has had heavy usage because of our hot, dry summer has been re-furbished, both outside and in.  The cool was getting less cool as the summer went on, but now we're back to lovely inside temperatures.  The new fan / light in the computer room is also  bringing a cooling breeze to the back of the house. 

New DVR from Dish Network was installed this morning -- along with wireless internet connection.  We had the Hopper installed -- a DVR that records 6 channels at once and allows one to skip commercials. 

It's time for a rest.  Cleaning is still on the agenda -- only the bathroom has been cleaned to the bone.  But most of the repair work is down - for the time being. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Siding and Entertainment is Out the Window

Since Monday young boys have been surrounding our house putting on permanent siding.  We started with the foundation work, moved on to the new windows, and the final step outside is the siding.  Hubby thought he chose a lush green color but instead they installed a rather gray celery shade  I don't dislike it -- but it was not the color Hubby and I choose. 

Our first problem with the siding company was they insisted they had to come inside to hang the new windows.  Hubby had been adamant from the beginning that we have some windows barricaded behind mountains of heavy furniture and it would be impossible for them to do the work inside.  It would all need to be done outside.  On signing a contract with us (and accepting a  substantial down payment) they agreed.  Then the windows arrived and they crew insisted they had to come inside. 

Hubby barred the door.  "You will not work inside my house, " he decreed.  So they left the windows in the backyard and departed.   Hubby found a couple of neighbor guys to come hang the windows -- from the outside. 

Then for several weeks we heard nothing from the siding company.  Finally, Monday morning while Hubby was out dog walking,  they showed up -- and started immediately installing siding. When Hubby came back home he found they were installing the celery colored siding, not the forest green he and I had picked out.  Too late now -- the work had already begun and the siding already ordered. Who know how much longer it would take to get in the right batch?

At this point, Hubby moved into the car so he could watch everything these guys were doing.  He even took his fancy camera out to take pictures.  Monday went fairly smoothly.

Tuesday morning they boys appeared, started to work, and quickly I lost DISH satellite contact.  It was a dreary day with some rain in the area, so it took me about 30 minutes before I reacted to the message that the inside tuner had lost contact with outside dish.  I picked up the phone to tell Hubby, sitting outside in the car, watching, that somehow we had lost DISH -- when I found dead phone lines.  And dead internet service.  All the wires at the back of the house had been disconnected, twisted, broken, or cut -- and the phone line was laying on the ground. 

Meanwhile the siding boys are playing radio music and dancing in the backyard, having a grand old time -- that is until they heard me inside dropping the F word on Hubby, who unfortunately had picked this crew from the five he had interviewed.  Hubby goes out to talk with them about what they have done -- and when they would reconnect the wiring -- and finds they have no utter idea what had happened or why.

At first AT&T tells us that they can't provide repair service until Saturday -- but Hubby tells them a sob story, and they did come out today and make the repairs. 

DISH, though, was harder to convince.  We managed to move their estimated August 29th appointment date to Thursday, August 16th -- but only because Hubby reminded them, in his "don't toy with me" voice, that he had been a customer since DISH began -- or the last 20 years -- or actually 12 years but we paid them on time so they better show up and fix this problem N O W.

Yesterday was a dreary day.  Wrong color on the house.  No internet.  No TV.  No phone service.  Still, we had electricity.  The cell phones worked.  Luie was having his teeth cleaned and unlike Gus, did NOT die during the surgery, and came home at 3:30 a little drunk from meds but just fine-and-dandy.  We had to pay the vet $368 dollars for the cleaning and the meds -- and then add that to $864 for Gus to code on the table during his dental and the $128 for pre-meds for Gus's before his surgery this month and we were left feeling pretty poor.   

August 14th just wasn't our day. 

The crew finished the siding work today.  But they had removed all the gutters from the house -- and that was NOT included in the work to be done.  So Hubby is still going to have to get them back to put the gutters back up.  The color is still celery green but I don't hate it.  In fact, it really was a toss up for me between the forest green and the celery.  I think now I'd like to paint the computer room the same shade. 

The company Hubby hired to do the foundation work was fabulous.  Then he hired a local crew to take down shrubs and mini-trees around the house and they did a very good job, too.  Both groups did superior workmanship and cleaned up after themselves wonderfully.  The siding, of course, was the most expensive job -- and it's been full of problems. 

AT&T came out and didn't even charge us to fix the problems.  The guy just laughed and straightened out the wiring.  There was a time when Hubby could probably have done it himself -- I miss those days.  We quickly got back our phone and internet.  We're still TV-less which Hubby hates. 

Luie is totally back to normal and Gus is doing fine, also. 

The house has new siding and windows -- but no gutters.  We're still waiting to see the upshot on this deal.  The final, large payment to the company, has not been made.  Negotiations will commence. 

Next up we need a new mattress and bed springs.  Problem -- Hubby is unable to carry these items any longer.  Or transport them.  We've been looking into the company's that deliver and take away -- but I certainly don't want to deal with paying $5000 for a mattress set. 

This getting old sucks.  Retirement, though, is way cool. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fun Things to Help You Waste Your Time on the Web

A couple of links for fun:

If you are a fan of Downton Abby -- and if you remember and loved paper dolls from your childhood (I always liked them better than real dolls) -- you can get a fix before next season here at Vulture.  I downloaded my set of 4 paper dolls to use as background on the computer (plus I admit I saved a copy just in case someday I actually want to play paper dolls again). 

Then, on Facebook this picture popped up -- and since the dogs get to spend Christmas with a cat, this one made me laugh out-loud.  Wolfie, who lost some control toward the end, would really have appreciated it. 

I loved the article about the Olympians who rescued pets, especially the story about Michael Phelps.  I had always seen him as kind of arrogant, but then I read about his dogs.  Changed my whole cheering structure for the swim meets. 

I adored the interview with Henrik Rummel about his penis.  He managed to make the whole controversy so funny.  The other Olympic controversies were not nearly as good.  I was glad to see that the althetes managed to keep it all in perspective though.  Read the Rummel interview-- it will crack you up.

The Gabby Douglas hair controversy shows just how ignorant we can still be.  She seemed to handle it okay but I was frustrated for her -- her hair was neat and clean, nothing wrong with it at all.   

Then there is this lovely photo about a man who helps his 19 year old rescued German Shepherd find some comfort every night.  This one will bring tears to your eyes.  It's just a lovely story.   This is a copyrighted photo.

 Finally, if you're as sick of summer as we are here in the heartland, check out this little video of winter scenes.  The music is lovely, too. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Shedding a Little Light on the Matter

Our computer room is small -- very, very small.  I doubt we could get more than a double bed in here if we used it as a bedroom.  Bunk beds might be more appropriate.  However we have filled it with a huge desk, a built-in bookcase that is mammoth, two metal shelving units in turquoise, a huge wooden 1930's file cabinet painted in multiple primary colors, and two smaller bookcases that anchor a room-length clothes rod. 

When we bought the house in 1973 we painted over the ugly 1950's green wallpaper -- and turned the walls white.  Neutral, right?  Except I HATE white walls.  I know why we painted it white -- the actual color is called cashmere beige -- but actually it's kind of a creamy white.  Hubby, who owned a handyman business, had tons of the stuff on hand because he painted move-out apartments for a reality company.  Both bedrooms got painted with the stuff -- and I've NEVER, EVER liked it. 

Sometime in the early 1980's (or maybe late 1970's, I can't remember) Hubby installed huge ceiling fans in both bedrooms and the dining room.  They never worked.  They were just way too big for the space, they weren't properly balanced, etc. 

We have since removed the dining room fan.  The two in the bedrooms had working lights, just the fan parts weren't successful.  Both fans required 4 100 watt bulbs -- or 4 60 watt bulbs.  No matter what Hubby put in, the light was always too bright.  So we settled on one 100 watt bulb for both fans.  In the bedroom, I hated where the light reflected on the TV.  In the computer room, it was simply too dark for good reading.  I struggled through my master's courses with a long neck lamp, the dim fan light, and a lighted magnifying glass -- with my bifocals pushed up on the top of my head when I had to read something out of a book.

Hubby decided, as we were madly discarding papers and books from the computer room, that it was finally time for a new fan / light -- one that actually worked in the ceiling and would give off enough light to read by.

Tonight he had it installed.  Ah!  The wonder of a cooling breeze and the joy of enough light to actually read the recipe books I'm culling. 

Even better, Hubby chose a mult-colored fan that matched my sense of stye.  I think the fan was probably designed for a kid's room -- but I love it.  Isn't this cute? 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

To Shop or Not

Now that I've retired, I've actually been doing some shopping in real stores.  Where once I  was a world-class shopper, old age, arthritis, bad feet, poor eyes, and a brain that no longer can cope with 10,000 items all in one place (I stand and stare at canisters for the kitchen unable to choose between the round ones, the square ones, the flat ones, the thin ones, the clip top ones, the white ones, the clear ones, and the 200 other choices one has to make) has sapped me of my shopping savey.

I bought a wedding present the other day -- online.  The choices were Target or Crate and Barrel.  I originally picked out a more expensive gift from Target -- but they didn't have automatic mailing to the couple and I couldn't find the invitation for the proper address.  So Crate and Barrel got my business because it was one stop shopping, wrapping, and mailing -- and no information other than the couple's name and payment type needed from me.  Hurray!  My kind of shopping experience.  It also got me to RSVP -- on line of course -- for the wedding itself. 

I do have to trek into Trader Joe's to get the natural dog treats they sell -- plus Hubby loves their ginger snap cookies and their salt-free nuts.  All other dog products, including food if I choose, can now be ordered on line.

HyVee has yet to decide to deliver groceries to my home -- so for the past six years, they have been my bi-weekly shopping trips.  I can satisfy my jones for shopping right in the grocery aisles.  And once a month we usually do a Sam's run -- when I was teaching Hubby did the Sam's store expeditions, but since I've retired, he doesn't bother going inside.  He sits in the car and pulls up to the door when I come out.

I spent last month wandering around in my nightgowns because:  1) it's horribly hot and clothing makes me sweat and 2) my bras are just uncomfortable.  I've known for the last two years I needed to go bra shopping -- and once in a while, if I HAD to go into WalMart I'd pick up a cheap bra in their handy-dandy bra drawers.  When you wear an ungainly DD or sometimes DDD cup size, bras are not easy to come by.  And, add to that, if you really want all your bras to be front-hooked, it gets even more complicated.  The last time I bought bras, I chose a selection online, and figured one or two would fit properly, and I ordered.  And they all fit -- some better than others -- but they weren't frayed or worn gray with washing, so I wore them, no matter how comfortable (or uncomfortable) they actually were. 

Of course, that meant that all the companies I'd ordered from sent me weekly emails about underwear sales.  This morning I bit the bullet and ordered a new selection of mammoth sized, front closing bras.  Hopefully, again, some of them will be comfortable.  At least they won't be totally worn away from washing.  Interestingly, I found a place where I could order bras in very unusual colors.  Normally, in my size you get white, tan, black.  But their forest green and mahogany bras were cheaper than white -- by about $2 to $5 each -- and what do I care if the bra I'm wearing is a strange color.  Only Hubby will ever see it -- so I got the cheapest ones in the style I picked and I will be wearing quite a rainbow of colors.  Once upon a time (when I was a size 10 -- man, that was years ago) the pretty colored bras were more expensive. 

I used to book shop with an ex-boss of mine.  We'd go at lunch and she always had great recommendations for me.  Now I order books online for the Kindle from Amazon and they are sent wireless.  When trip planning though for Chesapeake Bay I did have to order maps and travel books that I could carry around with me.  It had been awhile since we'd seen hardback books.

I even ordered meds online when I had the Blues -- but now that I'm retired, like Hubby, our scripts are filled at the neighborhood Walgreens.  Of course, drive through is so convenient we rarely actually go into the store. 

I currently have a shopping list for a WalMart run sometime in our future.  I hate those stores.  They are so darned big and you never can get checked out quickly.  I prefer Target but they are more expensive than WalMart -- and they just don't have the same variety of selection (the awful variety that dumbfounds me when I actually try to make a selection). 

I got the lid to my cheap two quart liquid container caught in the bottom of the dishwasher and the dryer thingie melted it.  So I need a new 2 quart container for my generic Crystal Lite refreshments.  My original one came from HyVee but now they only carry these huge hard plastic ones and I don't like them and they are too hard to handle.  Target has the same containers as HyVee.  So at some point, when I'm feeling really good, and it isn't the weekend I need to make a WalMart run for some cheap lipstick, a loaf pan (I gave Hubby one for Christmas but we never got home with it from Houston), and a  two quart drink container. 

Ah, the art of shopping. 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Working Again in the Computer Room

OMG!  Do you have any idea how much paper one stores as:
  • A high school teacher with lessons to prepare in 3 subjects:  English, social studies, and work-related studies?
  • A grad student getting one's second master's degree?
  • A would-be entrepreneur who changes his mind every third year about some new business venture he thinks might succeed and has been doing this through nearly 40 years of marriage?
  • An amateur historian collecting family history documentation?
  • A musician who keeps scores, sheet music, books of scores and sheet music, and programs from important concerts?
  • A home owner, a car owner, an appliance owner?
  • A two-dog owner?
  • A couple, both with medical conditions?
  • Two collectors of "weird things" in general?
We are awash in paper.  We have mountains of paper. 

We have manilla file folders.  We have a rainbow assortment of colored file folders.  All the folders are holding papers we once thought were vital.   We have accordion files filled with things Hubby has been storing -- like tax receipts and investment information.

We have small notebooks with tabs.  We have huge notebooks with tabs.  We have white notebooks, untabbed.  We have black notebooks, some tabbed, some not.  All filled with papers (like the Kansas state SPED requirements). 

We have stacks of papers that never got sorted.  Still some old recipes in this lot. Lots of doctor paperwork here. 

We have a huge wooden file cabinet from the 1930's full of papers like marriage licenses / divorce decrees and old dog licenses and death certificates -- and old Christmas cards and greeting cards we gave each other on birthdays and Valentines day.  And worse yet, boxes and boxes of unopened Christmas cards that were never sent.  But they are SO pretty!

We have old checks.  The bank hasn't sent out used checks since we went to on-line banking -- in say 2005?

We have warranties on objects that worn out long, long ago -- and were replaced with other products with warranties. 

We have photo albums of old trips and Christmases past.  And lots and lots of dog pictures.

We have boxes of old letters sent to us from my family -- letters from people we never met and really know nothing about, except they wrote in beautiful old Palmer script -- taught in the late 1800's.  We have 100 birthday postcards sent to my Grandfather on his 21st birthday.

We have boxes of computer accessory paper -- you know -- post cards, labels, greeting card paper, resume paper in creamy blues and tans.  And, of course, we have reams of unused computer printer paper. 

We have a desk drawer full of old trip information -- maps, itineraries, etc. just in case we decide to visit those places again.  In this drawer I also keep brand new, unsent greeting cards -- things I picked up because "they were so cute or clever or funny or had such sweet sentiment" -- so I would have cards on hand when the special occasion arose.  I have enough of these that they are filed by event -- birthday, death, congrats, etc.  I have enough they are even filed by sub-groups:  cat, dog, etc.

I made one swipe at the paperwork this morning -- emptying out the state requirements for SPED and some of my master's work in special education -- and completely filled a trash bag.  We are only allotted two trash bags per weekly haul -- meaning in 15 minutes I was done for the day unless we stopped collecting garbage and empty pill bottles.  Next week I can fill another bag.  At this rate, it'll be ten years before the old paper work is gone.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Eating as a Child

While I'm on the recipe kick, I've been trying to hunt down recipes for food from my childhood. 

My grandmother made (from scratch, of course) the best pies, pot roast, cucumber salad, and bread pudding I've ever tasted.  Her sage turkey stuffing was better than any other part of her delicious holiday meals -- always served on turkey plates with sterling silverware, both tablecloth and napkins that required ironing, and candles on the table.  Even though I have her stuffing recipe, I've never been able to duplicate the taste of any of her dishes.  Maybe it was the love that surrounded her cooking that made the difference. 

Grandmother didn't drive.  Grandfather inherited money during the depression -- plus land and rental property and land in Oklahoma that produced gas wells in the 1950's.  However, he and Granny had strong work ethics and I never realized they were rich. 

Grandfather, Me, and Grandmother in their back yard -- this was about 1950 and Grandpa was still wearing those brown shoes in 1960. 
Grandfather, who never got beyond the 8th grade because he was required to work in the family dairy, was an auditor for the Kansas City terminal (meaning he worked for the train station and his office actually was in Union Station).  He worked every day until he turned 65.  He never drove flashy cars or lived in expensive houses.  He was middle class down to his worn out shoes -- that could always go another round before he had to purchase new ones. 

Still, Grandmother was able to have Wolferman's deliver her groceries three times a week -- and what gourmet treats she ordered over her phone.

Wolferman's was an upscale grocery here in Kansas City - they had a store in downtown KC, one at 59th and Main / Brookside, and one on the Plaza.  In at least two of the stores they also had wonderful restaurants.  The downtown store had a restaurant downstairs and one on the upper level called the Tiffin Room.  Of course, they served their special English muffins, the only thing Wolferman's is known for today since all the stores are gone (and Harry and David's own the muffin franchise).  

When we went shopping downtown, we ate either at Wolferman's or a Emery Byrd Thayer, a local department store.  At Wolferman's, my mother preferred to eat in the basement which was a grill type restaurant.  She would have their hot dog with relish.  I didn't care much for the hot dog -- but that relish was divine!  I always had the hamburger though I don't remember anything special about it, except I didn't get hamburger sandwiches often. 

If Grandmother was feeling especially generous she would treat us to lunch in the Tiffin Room.  This was where the "ladies" of Kansas City lunched.  White table clothes, linen napkins.  Huge chef salads filled with the choicest of hams, cheeses, and greens.  It was always served with Wolferman's Thousand Island dressing and an English muffin with butter and orange marmalade. 

Later you could buy a huge jar of the dressing in the store on the main floor -- and Granny always kept a jar of that dressing in her refrigerator.  It was the only salad dressing ever served in Granny's house (at our house we ate French salad dressing for 39 cents a bottle from the A&P -- and we NEVER, ever got any other kind). 

The Plaza store had a balcony restaurant that looked over the grocery.  I don't remember if the store on Main had a restaurant.  Grandfather and I would have a Christmas date once a year at the Plaza store -- for the chef salad, the English muffin -- and afterwards, he would let me pick out the biggest box of chocolate candy to take home.  How I loved that huge, round box filled to the brim with assorted chocolates. 

This was the Wolferman downtown store -- the first floor was the grocery; in the basement was the grill, and upstairs was the Tiffin Room

This, of course, was the Plaza store in keeping with the Spanish architecture. 

Wolferman's also sold Hermit cookies -- the size of dinner plates.  They were rich and full of raisins and nuts and so, so good.  You could never eat more than two at time.  During the holidays, they also sold salt-rising bread and Granny would order several loaves so we could all have salt-rising toast slathered with real butter for our Christmas breakfasts.  If you've never eaten salt-rising bread, it's an experience when you first smell it.  For many people this is an acquired taste -- and I acquired my love of it early. 

The awful thing I learned about Wolferman's when I was an adult was that it was segregated well into the 1950's -- when I was eating there as a child.  Blacks couldn't eat in the Tiffin Room.  They could go to the basement grill, but NOT upstairs for the elegant lunch.  I was horrified to discover how much I had anticipated and enjoyed a meal where a whole segment of Kansas City was denied service.

Granny also had a milk man, an egg man, and the Manor Bread man.  They came at least bi-weekly, maybe more.  She had a maid once a week for help with the cleaning -- always a black maid.  She had a handyman, Archie, who came to fix things outside the house and sometimes, but rarely, inside.  Archie, too, was black.  She had a carpenter -- but he was white and we called him Mr. Hadley -- where the black help were known by their first names.  

It was a different time.  Sometimes I remember sweet, halcyon days of summer delights.  Then I remember the inequities we forced on people.  But the tastes of those days linger in my memory.  The Hermit cookies, the Thousand Island dressing, the cucumber salad.  I'd love a taste of those things just one more time, even if I wouldn't wish a return to their inequalities. 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Using the Mac and enjoying the Process

I downloaded a really slick recipe program for my Macintosh called MacGourmet Deluxe.  I am loving it! 

I have had many computer recipe programs in the past -- all fairly complicated to use.  The best on the PC was MasterCook -- it allowed me to set up recipe books and supposedly I could import recipes but the process was very, very complicated.  Organizationally, I liked how MasterCook let me create cookbooks for my recipes (I had them for hamburger recipes, pies, cookies, drinks, etc.).  I could keep those recipes in a pretty book that I got to design on a virtual wooden bookshelf.

MacGourmet Deluxe does not have screen bookshelves or pretty cookbooks. It does have cookbooks that you can create and print, though.  Best of all it allows you to use the MAC to its best advantage.  You can easily import recipes -- just click on a web recipe and drag it to MacGourmet.  It imports ingredients and directions on a step-by-step basis. I have no idea how it knows what the different steps are -- but it does and you almost never have to add any corrections.  You can also grab a picture of the dish and put it in the file.  When you want to actually use the recipe you have imported, you can choose several styles of printing -- each one better than the last.

Back in the 1990's I used a data base to save recipes.  Talk about work!  I still have printed out files from that effort -- and just recently went through them all and input the ones I still liked into MacGourmet and threw out the hard copies.  This took longer than importing from the web, but still I could add pictures of the dishes and the program is versatile enough that I could add as many notes as I thought relevant.

After the database effort, I ran through several variations of MasterCook, especially as I would upgrade PCs.   However, I always kept hard files.  I had boxes and boxes of recipes I had clipped, pasted, carded, notated, etc.  I have hundreds of cookbooks -- and that's after I gave hundreds away two years ago.  Now, finally, I'm weeding through all this paper. 

The new MAC program -- under $50 -- has finally divorced me from my hard files.  I have already transferred two huge boxes of recipes into the program, and tossed the cards.  I admit that when I found my grandmother's recipes for Thanksgiving dinner I had a moment of remorse.  But the cards were filthy -- they had been through 50 years of use and were sticky with sweet potato juice and other things probably too nasty to think about.

Yesterday I actually marinated chicken breasts in creme fraiche.  Really.  Me.  And Hubby ate it up.  The dogs, especially our little Gussie who just had a terrible day having teeth removed at the dentist, couldn't get enough of that tender, sweet chicken.  The baked spaghetti recipe I paired with the chicken was not a keeper.  Both Hubby and I thought it was bland and boring.

Last night I couldn't sleep so at 4 a.m. I got up and made the egg, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg sauce for French toast.  I didn't have any French bread -- but I did have a day old loaf of Italian so I sliced it an inch thick and plopped it in the sweet egg mix -- and let it soak until noon when Hubby came home for lunch.  I haven't seen him eat like that in days.  He simply devoured that lovely, thick, syrupy bread.  (Yes, I used Splenda instead of real sugar!).  And little Gus, with his mouth full of stitches from the dental, rolled over on his belly in ecstasy over his own slice of the bread.  

The baked spaghetti recipe has now been discarded but the chicken breasts and the French toast are sure keepers.  The crock-pot has been used three times in the past week.  I'm hunting down the Dutch oven for a really nice chicken and rice recipe planned for the weekend.  So far I've typed in 289 recipes into my new program, every single one with a beautiful picture attached.  Then, as I use them, I can begin to weed out the ones we don't like. 

I know that many of my friends are preparing to start back to school next week.  Yet here I sit, at my computer, sorting recipes and dreaming of fine dining.   Even better now I have the time to actually  cook some of these dishes I've filed away for so long (my files date back 1966).  We may not be remodeling the kitchen or hiring a cook or dining at the finest restaurants, but that's okay.  I'm having a ball.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Overheard on TV

In an advertisement for an HGTV show about real estate agents who are married, the woman announced:

When you are married to your business partner, it's like being married in dog years.

I think it's pretty similar when both members of a couple are retired together.