Monday, June 14, 2021

National Bourbon Day!

 Happy National Bourbon Day!

Now, a couple of years ago that would not be something I would pay attention to.  Because until a couple of years ago I didn't drink whisky of any kind.  But now I am a bourbon fan.  And you should be too.  

So what make bourbon bourbon as opposed to any other whisky.

1. It has to be made in the U.S.A.

2. The mash it is made from has to be at least 51% corn

3. The aging has to be done in new, charred oak barrels.  (For at least 2 years to be called straight.) 

4. It can not enter the barrels at more than 125 proof and it can not enter the bottle at less than 80 proof.

5. Nothing can be added except water.  

I like bourbon.  But I do not have a great deal of experience with it.  I have tasted over 40 different bourbons and that is barely scratching the surface.  I can't say I have any particular knowledge or expertise on the subject.  But, as they say, I know what I like.  Here are some of the highlights of my bourbon journey so far.

Bulleit  -  (Kentucky Straight Bourbon  90 proof)  My love of bourbon started with Bulleit Bourbon.  My husband (who usually drinks scotch) let the bartender choose his whisky.  He was given Bulleit Bourbon.  As was my custom, I took a sip and discovered that I was a bourbon lover.  Bulleit is a smoky bourbon and has a lot of warm spice notes.  It reminds me of all those fall flavors like cinnamon and allspice and such.  And it makes a good old fashioned.  I will always have a soft spot for Bulleit.

Evan Williams  -  (Kentucky Straight Bourbon 86 proof)  Evan Williams is probably the bourbon I have had the most of.  It is a good, affordable staple bourbon.  I don't know that I would want to sit around sipping on it a lot but it has a nice flavor, makes a decent old fashioned and it great if you are into shooting bourbon.  Which sometimes I like to do.  It's nice to have around as an everyday bourbon.

Hudson Baby Bourbon  -  (New York Straight Bourbon 92 proof) Hudson Whisky has since changed the name and the recipe for this bourbon and I have not tasted the new version yet.  So keep that in mind.  I knew that bourbon did not have to be made in Kentucky.  But almost all of the bourbon I saw was.  This was the first non Kentucky bourbon I tried.  It's nice and smooth.  It has a lot of caramel and nuttiness.  This is (or at least was) one I liked to sit and sip on.

Willett  -  (Kentucky Straight Bourbon  94 proof)  My husband got me this as a gift because he knew I couldn't resist a really cool bottle and this one looks like if you rub it a genie might pop out.  It has a sweet crisp flavor.  The flavor is assertive enough that it is not lost in an old fashioned which I like.  More expensive than the others I've mentioned but a nice treat once in a while.  Savor it and sip it nice and slow.

Angel's Envy  -  (Kentucky Straight Bourbon  86.6 proof)  This one is finished in port wine barrels and you can taste it in the bourbon.  It is smooth and kind of mellow and has a beautiful flavor.  If you are just starting in bourbon you might want to start here because it lacks the harsh edge many bourbons (and all whiskey) have.

Rabbit Hole  -  (Kentucky Straight Bourbon  95 proof)  My favorite at the moment but I have said that about several bourbons so far.  It has a complex flavor, citrus in the front, mint and spices in the middle with a vanilla finish.  High proof so it packs a punch so drink responsibly.  

I could go on forever but I will leave it at that.  Go out there and find your bourbon.  Or your bourbons.  There is a world of bourbons out there for you to try.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Tenet Movie Review



Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.

Okay.  So this sounds really cool.  And then when you realize there is time travel involved it sounds even cooler.  And then when you know that some of the time travel elements involve people and things moving backward in time it gets cooler still.  And I had to admit I wondered how they would work that out in the movie.  Unfortunately they really didn't.  Sure you see some things move backward, bullets going back into a gun for instance, but the rest is just a jumble.  At one point in the movie the protagonist is advised 'don't try to understand it' and I would advise you as the audience to do the same.  Some of the visuals are impressive.  But you spend almost all of the movie trying to figure out what is happening.  And not in the good mystery, suspense sort of way, in the I'm lost and confused and stating to get irritated way.  I started this movie confused and I kept watching expecting that it would all come together at some point and I would get an 'aha' moment but it never happened.  I could follow the story in general and have an idea of what happened but it wasn't fun to watch what seemed like a bunch of random stuff happening in between the couple of things that I could actually follow.  Some reviews say that you have to watch it several times for it all to sink in.  I couldn't possibly sit through this movie again.  I thought it was way too long the first time.  Not to mention the long uninteresting fight scene they make you watch twice.  I guess this is a movie for people who want to invest more time and energy than I do in a movie.  I like movies that make me think but in the end I'm watching a movie to be entertained.  This did not entertain me.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

If You Like Avocados, Try This

 I found this Avocado Dip Recipe because I needed something to put on my Quinoa and Spinach Patties.  (Those are also pretty good.  So if you like quinoa you should try those too.  They are from Skinny Taste.)

My husband and I have been trying to make lunches that are not just a bunch of deli meat sandwiches. We aren't going crazy with health food.  Just trying to get in some vegetables and grains sometimes.  So quinoa patties.  But I thought they could use a little something.  So I browsed around and found this Avocado Dip Recipe from Dinner At The Zoo.  

It is easy to make.  You basically just throw all the ingredients in the food processor and blitz it until it is smooth.  So it doesn't take long to whip up.  All of the lime juice stops the avocado from turning black so it keeps in the fridge for a couple of days so you can make it ahead if you like.  

It has a nice fresh taste.  Kind of refreshing.  I actually put extra jalapeno in mine because I like the heat but you, of course, can put as much or as little as you like to control the heat level.  There is some sour cream in this but I like that it is not mostly sour cream or mayonnaise.  And lets face it, I love cilantro and will put it on or in almost everything.  So I'm happy to have so much in this.


Like I said I put it on the Quinoa Patties and really enjoyed that. And then when I was making Quick and Easy Salmon Cakes later (from Feasting At Home) I remembered this Avocado Dip and made it again and again was pleased with what it added to the dish.  I can see myself putting this on all sorts of things.  It is recommended that you put it on chips, crackers or veggies, and I can see all of those choices being very tasty.  I could also see myself using this as a spread on a chicken sandwich.  I think it would fit in a lot of different places.  I will hold onto this recipe because I'm sure I'll be making it again.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Today on the Calendar

 Today is National Scrabble Day!

Now, I have never been much of a fan of Scrabble.  That might be due to the fact that I have never been much good at spelling.  My husband is a fan.  So it is lucky that in this day and age you no longer need another person to play.  So go out there and play a game of Scrabble!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Annoying Book Review

 Annoying by Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman

 (from the book jacket)

Annoyances are everywhere: annoying sounds, annoying smells, annoying drivers, annoying friends, annoying strangers, annoying spouses.  There’s nowhere to hind, and no one is immune.

In Annoying, NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca and Science Friday’s Flora Lichtman dig through the scientific literature in search of explanations for what gets under our skin.

In this widely ranging scientific tour, you’ll meet researchers who have made strides in understanding why some things tick us off.  You’ll find out why blabbing on cell phones is so irritating and why you can’t help but tune in.  You will learn the secrets of trash talk and how athletes overcome it, or don’t.  You’ll hear about an illness that makes people annoyed to the point of dysfunction and visit a tiny island where no one seems annoyed.  You’ll discover why chili peppers stand on the cusp between pleasant and painful, why odor is so powerful and how skunks have taken advantage, why raw onion fumes make us cry, and why some chemicals have been irritating life on Earth for half a billion years.  The science is there.  You just have to know where to look.


I picked up this book partly because I wanted to know how you make a scientific study of something that seems so subjective.  I also wanted to see if knowing why something annoyed me helped me be any less annoyed.  The second part didn’t work out so well for me.  And the first part turned out to be a very complex thing that touched on many aspects of science and journeyed to others parts of the world.  This appealed more to my love of general science than I thought it would because it explores so many fields.  It goes from defining annoyance (is it just a mild form of anger?), to how our vision and sense of smell works, to medicine, to music, to mouse genetics, to cultural differences, to why quirks in your spouse are cute when you first get married but years later make you want to tear your hair out.  It covers sights, sounds, smells, events and other people’s behavior and why they all annoy us.  And though there is a lot that is subjective and unique to an individual there are patterns and scientific reasons why almost everyone in the world hates cell phone conversations they feel are forced upon them and the sound of nails on a chalkboard.  All the bits and pieces taken individually are interesting and the fact that the search for the answer to one question leads to all these places makes the whole even more interesting.  Can I avoid getting annoyed now?  No.  Not by a long shot.  But in some way, it does help knowing that I’m not just being cranky all the time.  That there is science to back up feelings. Some times.

National Siblings Day

 Happy National Siblings Day!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Sort of a Banh Mi - Recipe Review

I like banh mi.  So when I saw a recipe where I could make one at home without worrying about finding or, good heavens, making the pate I was very happy.  So I gathered my ingredients to make Shortcut Banh Mi With Pickled Carrots and Daikon form NY Times Cooking.

Most of the ingredients were easy to find.  In fact I had a couple in my house already.  But the daikon was a bit tricky.  I had to try several grocery stores until I found it.  And actually, the second time I made this recipe I couldn't find it at all.  I thought about using a different kind of radish or a parsnip or something but ending up just using more carrots and cucumbers instead.  And it was still delicious.

The recipe is also easy to make.  The hardest part is all the chopping.  But after you have chopped everything it is basically just adding everything to your skillet in the right order.  You do have to pickle the vegetables before you start cooking because they have to sit in the vinegar for a half hour at least so you want that going while you cook.  It is a very light pickle.  More like vegetables in a vinegar dressing but you still get the nice bite of a pickle without much time.

There is a little heat to it.  You put sriracha in the pork filling while you are cooking it.  Of course, if you don't like things spicy you can put less in.  I would suggest you don't leave it out completely though.  It does add a nice flavor.  You can always cut down on the heat by putting just a few slices of jalapeno on at the end.

Is it a banh mi? Not really.  But it says right on the recipe that authenticity was not the goal.  The result, however, is a delicious sandwich that gives you the feel of a banh mi.  I have used this recipe several times and will keep it on hand because I know I will want to use it again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

They Came Together Movie Review

They Came TogetherThey Came Together - starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler

A spoof of Rom-Coms everywhere.  A big candy corporation is trying to shut down a small candy store.  The corporation man meets the owner of the little candy store and all sort of cliches ensue.

I would say give this one a pass.  I understand that it is a spoof. I wasn't expecting heartwarming stuff here.  But it just wasn't funny.  The whole movie is all of the cliche characters and hokey plot devices used in romantic comedies being exaggerated in traditional spoof fashion.  But instead of it being hilarious it became tedious.  It felt like I was watching it for a lot longer than the 83 minutes run time.  They tell the same jokes over and over and the writing fails to be clever - at all - and relies on over the top nonsense for laughs.  I didn't laugh.  I am not a huge fan of romantic comedies, neither do I hate them.  So I have seen enough rom-coms to get the references but feel no need to defend the genre against attack.  I thought I would be a good audience for this movie.  But this one just fell flat.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Voynich Manuscript Review

The Voynich Manuscript by Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill

In 1912 Wilfrid Voynich found a manuscript in an Italian monastery.  It was in an unknown language, and had drawings of unknown plants.  No one knew who had written it or what it could mean.  Ever since people from all walks of life have tried to figure out the mystery that is The Voynich Manuscript.

I don't know what I thought this book would be.  I had come across a reference to the manuscript (I can't remember where) and was curious. I knew nothing about it when I read this book.  You don't have to.  All you need is a love of the mysterious.  It is an interesting subject and an interesting book.  It follows the manuscript from the day it was found through all the various people who have owned it, or studied it.  It gives you all the theories about who wrote it and where it came from.  It gives you all the different ways people have tried to decode or translate the text.   And on this journey it ends up covering a lot of ground.  It talks about cryptography and the ways codes are made and broken.  It gives you a brief history of Roger Bacon and John Dee and others.  It talked about the Cathars and the Shakers.  It went into the effects migraines can have on people.  And mentions a lot of other people and topics that have been brought into the Voynich conversation over the years.  I liked exploring the wide variety of subjects that all formed pieces in the puzzle.   There is a lot of information here but it is not overwhelming and it never bogs down in tedium.  It is all presented in a way that is easy to follow and enjoyable to read.  It does intrigue the reader.  You end up wanting to know what it is all about.  You can understand why people have spent years of their lives working on this.  Spoiler Alert:  There is no translation at the end of this book.  There are no definitive answers.  But I enjoyed exploring the mystery.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ghost Pepper Visit

So, my guy and I decided to swear off alcohol for a month.  And then the very next day went to sit in one of our favorite watering holes, The Savin Bar and Kitchen.

We are there a lot and know most of the bartenders.  So we sit at the bar and that night Bill is behind the bar.  He comes over to greet us and asks if we have tried it yet and jerks his head toward the wall of booze behind him.  (Well, that's what I thought at the time.  It turns out he was jerking his head toward the building next door.)  Anyway.  I had no idea what he was talking about but tried to play it off like I did.  But it was soon apparent that was not going to work.  It turns out he was talking about a new restaurant.  A restaurant that opened up right down the street from where I live and literally next door to a bar I am in on a regular basis and I failed to notice.  In my defense, the outside is rather unassuming.

The Ghost Pepper Taco and Tequila Bar

Now, a tequila bar is not usually my scene but it was recommended and owned by the same people who own my favorite bar, so I had to go.  It is bright and open inside with a nice big, comfortable bar.  The bar opens at three but the kitchen doesn't open until four.  Which my good friend Bill forgot to mention when he was giving me the info on the place.  He can be forgiven for assuming food was not my priority though.  He has plenty of reasons for that.  Anyhow.  They have a selection of tacos and of tapas plates and some larger plates as well.  We got some carnitas tacos, the empanadas, the pupusas and the pork belly plate.

The empanadas are filled with short rib so it's hard to go wrong.  But I think they are baked and I liked fried things so I was slightly disappointed.  And I felt they were slightly dry but the 'condimento' it was served on helped.  My guy said he has had better empanadas but I think he has the same thought about fried things.  Don't get me wrong.  They were still very tasty and I would get them again.

The carnitas tacos were very good.  We both like a little heat so we added some hot sauce to ours but they are not hot on their own. I would like to try the other tacos too but it will be hard not to order these ones again.

The pupusas were good too.  Ours were filled with duck confit but the fillings change so you should ask what the filling of the week is.  I think I might have liked them more with a different filling.  I enjoyed them but of the three I would be most willing to forgo these next time to try something new.

The pork belly.  Get the pork belly.  What more can I say.  It was awesome.  I didn't want to share but I had too.  I wasn't fast enough to eat it all before my guy got some.

They have a nice beer selection.  I'm always happy to see a sour on the menu.  There are a lot of tequila cocktails on the menu.  And a lot of them have mezcal.  I just skipped right over them because I do not like mezcal.  If you are a tequila lover you might have a different approach.  I saw something called Crystal Leche.  The description is 'clarified milk cocktail; recipe heavily guarded!'  That's it.  So of course I got one.  It was pretty to look at and tasty to drink.  It was like nothing I've had before; sweet and fruity.  I still don't really know what's in it.  But it is on my list of things to get again.

We didn't try too many cocktails off the menu because we have a habit of ordering an old fashioned everywhere we go.  We like to see how different bartenders make it.  We got one from each of the bartenders.  They were both definitely old fashioneds but they were very different.  One very traditional, basically bourbon and bitters in a glass, and the other was sweeter with muddled fruit.  We enjoyed them both and think both were above average.  And served by friendly, helpful bartenders.

The only caveat is that I left still a little hungry.  I know that tapas are small but... We shared the empanadas (served two to an order) and the pupusas (also served two to an order) and each got a carnitas taco, and shared the pork belly plate.  And I wanted more.  Which is nice in a way because you get to try different things but the tacos are $5 or $6 a piece and the tapas plates go from $5 to $10 and things start to add up.  Just go in knowing you are going to have to order several things to make a meal.

We had a good time.  We will be back.  But it is nice to know that there is a bar right next door where they also serve a good old fashioned and the plates are a little more filling.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A to Z Reading Challenge

Ok, so I entered this last year and did really badly.  (As I did with all my reading challenges.) I hope to do better this year.  If you want to try along with me you can go to Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book and sign up.  

A- Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
B- Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
C- The Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny
E- The Emissary by Yoko Tawada
H- Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny
I- Immortal Bones by Trinidad Giachino
L- The Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar by Steven Sora
O- Oedipus the king by Sophocles
U- Utopia by Thomas More
W- Wild Things, Wild Places by Jane Alexander

Books in 2018

1. Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny - 188
2. Wild Things, Wild Places by Jane Alexander - 295
3. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - 384
4. The Emissary by Yoko Tawada - 127
5. Immortal Bones by Trinidad Giachino - 141
6. The Invention of Fire by Bruce Holsinger - 414
7. Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny - 142
8. Oedipus the King by Sophocles - 108
9. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - 305
10. The Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar by Steven Sora - 251
11. Breath of Earth by Beth Cato - 378
12. Utopia by Thomas More - 117

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lizard Music Review

Lizard Music by D. Manus Pinkwater

(from the book jacket)
When Victor’s parents go away for two weeks, leaving his older sister in charge, he is glad when she takes off on a vacation of her own.  Home alone, Victor can do anything he wants.  He stays up late, eats his pizza with anchovies, visits the zoo, and enjoys his favorite TV news program without interruption.

It is while staying up late watching television that he discovers evidence of a secret community of intelligent lizards, and that there seems to have been an invasion from outer space that went almost unnoticed.  In the course of some detective work, he meets Chicken Man, an eccentric with a hen in his hat who knows about these things.  Together, they visit the lizards in Thunderbolt City.

Victor is left all alone at home.  And what he does with his freedom is watch Walter Cronkite.  There is something endearing about this boy who is a little different from the other children he knows.  And as things that he cannot understand start to happen around him and he is all alone to figure it out he learns about what he is capable of.  Chicken Man, who helps him with his quest, is a quirky fun character.  (As is his chicken.)  Actually the whole story is quirky and fun.  It has a surreal feel to it because Victor and Chicken Man seem to see and know things the rest of the world doesn’t.  The world goes on around them as truly spectacular things happen and they are the only ones who notice.  I found it a fun read but it is dated and I think some things children today might not get.  But it is a light read, which I found nice.  It’s not that there is no thinking involved but there is no fighting for your life, or war or other horrible stuff going on.  It is a fun fantasy story.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Guidebook to Learning Review

A Guidebook to Learning by Mortimer J. Adler

A map of sorts for people who want to plan out a lifetime of learning to help them to navigate the plethora of information.

I do not know what I thought this book would be, but it wasn’t what I got.  Even the author admits that if you get through most of the book and make it to the final chapters you might wonder what everything you have read so far has to do with the proposed goal of the book.  I was in that position myself.  Which is not to say that there was nothing I found interesting there.  Adler goes through a historical survey of how information has been organized and collected.  He also outlines the reasons why alphabetical order is not the best way to organize information and the reasons it is so hard to organize it any other way.  Some of which was interesting for its own sake.  But it isn’t for everyone.  I can see how some people would be bored to tears.  I have never read anything else by Adler but he talked about his other work a lot.  So much that it started to feel self-promoting at times.  He explains that he thinks everyone should have a general education and gives you some tips on how to go about giving yourself one along with an outline of information to give you some place to start and something to aim for.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Man Plus Review

(from the book jacket)
Roger Torraway watched in horror as the monster lurched, toppled over and died.  Project Man Plus had gone suddenly and drastically wrong.

The race to colonize Mars was too important, too costly, and America was already too committed, for plans to be scrapped.  They would have to make a new Martian.  And Roger Torraway was it, candidate for the endless surgery, operation after painful operation, that would enable him to survive on that faraway planet.

Man Plus is a thrilling race against time – to land on Mars on schedule, to insure that Roger’s system will withstand the stress that killed the previous candidate.  And, meanwhile, somewhere, somehow, there has been a breakdown in the computer network…

Man Plus is about Roger who, after the previous candidate dies, is entered into a program to change his biology enough that he can survive on Mars.  It is more about the way Roger reacts to the things that are happening to him and the way people react to him than it is about the trip to Mars.  Roger knows that it is an honor to be chosen for the mission but he is going in knowing the process killed the man before him and had made him into something other than human.  And as his appearance changes the people around him start to treat him less and less like a person.  And the loss of his humanity piece by piece puts mental and emotional stress on him on top of the physical stresses of the process.  It was interesting to see how he had to learn to use all of his senses again and to understand the new way his brain processes the new information coming in.  His frustration and anger starts to show when he can’t even do something simple, like close his eyes.  I liked the internal struggle Roger was faced with, and I liked watching the change in him as the process moved along, but there were other parts that were not so interesting.  I wish some of the other characters were developed more or left out completely because they sometimes seemed to be in the way of the story and were more distracting than anything else.  Especially his love interests.  The whole book is told by a narrator who is not identified until the very end.  But it felt less like a twist and more like the start of an unrelated storyline.  I liked the main plot and storyline and it kept me reading to see where it was going.  But I’m not in any hurry to track down the sequel.  In the end I am not sorry I read it, it was enjoyable, and if you come across it I would say you should give it a try but I wouldn’t say it was worth making a big effort to look for it.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Joining the Herd... Of Unicorn

 So.  This happened.  Yes I got a Unicorn Frappuccino.  I would not have spent money on it.  I don't think I would even have used my star rewards that I earned for spending money on one.  But when I got the email that Starbucks had added a free item to my card for my birthday on the day that the Unicorn Frappaccino came out,it seemed like a sign.  And since they were going to give me one for free just for being born I decided to give it a try.  I went to a Starbucks that I don't usually go to where the baristas wouldn't know me and I would never have to see them again.  And I still felt silly asking for it.  And then I felt silly carrying it down the street.  And then I took a sip and didn't really know what to think.  It tasted like... bubblegum?  Maybe?  Did it change color?  Sort of.  If you swirled it around hard enough you could get the blue, whatever it is, to mix with the pink frappuccino to get a purplish color.  But I had to work at it.  And since the blue stuff is sour it did change the flavor as well.  A little.  Sometimes.  Mostly it was just all the same sweet indistinct flavor.  It wasn't bad.  But I'm not sure I liked it either.  After drinking one I have to say I don't get it.  I'm not sure what they were going for.  Obviously, the point was sales.  You create a buzz.  Everyone runs to buy it.  You have it just long enough for everyone to get one and then you get rid of it.  Because, let's face it, after you've had one you aren't going back for another.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

My First Taste of Ethiopia

honey wine
kiwi juice
 I tried Ethiopian food for the first time last night.  I didn't really know anything about Ethiopian food except that utensils were not often used and you picked up your food with the injera bread.  I figured that would be the biggest surprise and I really didn't need to know anything else.  I went to Asmara.  I must admit that I picked Asmara because Yelp said if I went there and used the credit card I had linked to my Yelp account I would get 7% of my money back.

mints and wet naps with the check
They let you pick between a traditional table and a standard table.  I would have chosen the traditional basket type table but I had drug my friend along and had not told him about the no utensils thing so I figured I should let him decide where we sat.  And being comfortable is important because you are going to be sitting for a while.  We were seated quickly but then everything was a long wait after that.  Even just for my glass of honey wine.  I only ever saw two people working there so it doesn't look like they have a large staff so that might be the issue.  We got there around 5:30 and it was pretty empty but about a half hour later there was a line of people waiting for a seat.

I wish I hadn't looked under the injera
best air hand dryer I have ever used
We got the spicy chicken wing appetizer.  The sauce on them was very good but I would have liked them cooked a little more because the skin was still really flabby and it was not a good texture.  They gave us a knife and fork to eat the chicken wings, but took them away before the entree. For the entree I ordered the Ahimilti Bebaynetu, which is the vegetable combo.  I didn't even try to pronounce anything so I just said vegetable combo.  And my friend got the spicy salmon fillet.  It comes out on this big plate dished out on top of big pieces of injera with more injera on the side to eat it with.  I wasn't even sure what one of the things I was eating was but it was all delicious.  My friend let me try his salmon too.  I am not a huge fan of salmon but the sauce on it was awesome. Everything came in a very flavorful sauce.  The injera under the food and the injera served to eat with were different colors but they tasted the same to me.  It is a pancake or crepe like bread and has a slightly sour taste.  And I am not sure you are meant to eat the injera under the food, but I did.  Because all the yummy sauces had soaked into it.  But I almost wish I hadn't because when you lifted it up you could see pools of grease underneath.  The food didn't taste unpleasantly greasy but my heart did not like to see how much grease I had just eaten.

mixed berry cake
We had to get more injera to finish everything.  But getting to order anything after the initial order isn't easy.  Our server was polite and friendly but always in a hurry since she was the only server I ever saw.  She did come to check on us on occasion but as soon as one of us said something she was off like a shot.  So I intended to get another glass of wine but I was not quick enough after my friend asked for a ginger ale and she was gone.  I didn't really need the wine so it wasn't that big an issue but it was a little annoying that you could only ask for one thing at a time.

vegetable combo and spicy salmon
The dessert menu is mostly sorbetta and gelato.  But I wanted the mixed berry cake.  Mostly because it had Chantilly cream in it.  My friend wanted the pear tart but he was told when he tried to order it that they didn't have it.  Which would have been nice to know before we had made our choices. But he adjusted and we both got the mixed berry cake.  I am almost certain it had been heated in the microwave.  The cream was warm and leaking out of the sides and the berries on top were still frozen in the middle.  It was okay but not as awesome as I had hoped.

spicy chicken wings
The bathrooms are clean and smelled nice and they have the best air hand dryer I have ever seen.  The air comes out of there at hurricane force and your hands are dry in like two seconds.

I liked the food and would like to try it again but I might choose another restaurant.  If you go to Asmara get ready for a long leisurely dinner because you will be there a while.

Weekend Cooking is sponsored by Beth Fish Reads. See the other posts here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.

Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.

My book this week is Raise the Titanic! by Clive Cussler.  I have read this before but it was a long time ago so it feels like I'm reading it for the first time.  Dirk Pitt is trying to raise the Titanic because there is something in the vault the government needs.  But of course the Russians want it too.

Book Beginnings:

The man on Deck A, Stateroom 33, tossed and turned in his narrow berth, the mind behind his sweating face lost in the depths of a nightmare.  

The Friday 56:

"Seagram," Sandecker grunted irritably, "you're a monumental pain in the ass.  Did it ever occur to you to call my personnel director during normal working hours?"

I remember liking this book more the first time I read it.  I used to read all of Clive Cussler's books.  It has been a while though.  Now I'm thinking Dirk Pitt is a bit of a jerk and the banter between him and his best friend sounds like one of those conversations where everyone is trying to pretend everything is okay when it isn't.  Just kind of forced and unnatural.  Oh, well, I guess some books are best left in the past.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ex-Heroes Review

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

(from the back of the book)
Stealth.  Gorgon.  Regenerator.  Cerberus.  Zzzap.  The Mighty Dragon.  They were heroes.  Vigilantes.  Crusaders for justice, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.

Then the plague of living death spread around the globe.  Despite the best efforts of the superheroes, the police, and the military, the hungry corpses rose up and overwhelmed the country.  The population was decimated, heroes fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland like so many others.

Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions must overcome their differences and recover from their own scars to protect the thousands of survivors sheltered in their film studio-turned-fortress, the Mount.  The heroes lead teams out to scavenge supplies, keep the peace within the walls of their home, and try to be the symbols the survivors so desperately need.
For while the ex-humans walk the streets night and day, they are not the only threat left in the world, and the people of the Mount are not the only survivors left in Los Angeles.  Across the city, another group has grown and gained power.

And they are not heroes.

I like superheroes and I like zombies and there are plenty of both in this story.  There is a lot of rather gory action where people and zombies alike get torn apart.  But there is a lot more going on than the fight against the zombies.  There is the conflict with another group of humans and the characters have lots of personal issues.  There is the struggle for survival when food and supplies run short.  The need for heroes and symbols of hope in a time of despair is addressed along with the resentment of the people without super powers for those with them.  So although most of the plot is nothing new to people familiar with the genre there is enough here to make it worth a look even after all the other zombie books.  The heroes are flawed and not idealized which makes them more real.  And the story is told in alternating chapters of ‘then’ and ‘now’ which gives the characters a past that I hoped would help develop the characters.  Unfortunately all the flaws, issues, and background failed to make any of the characters truly interesting.  So though there are good points here, with so much of it being about characters I couldn’t care about it was hard to pay attention some times. It is an interesting twist on both the zombie and the superhero genre but the concept is better than the story.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Doughboys by the Sea

So my family went on a road trip to Rhode Island to go to the zoo.  And the zoo was a lot of fun.  Although it was muddy and wet it was a very nice day.  And while we were in the area we stopped by Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowder House

When we got there, there was a line down the street.  But it was moving
pretty quickly.  It is right on the beach and another time we might have eaten outside but, although it was a nice day, it was February and there was snow on the ground so we wanted to eat inside.  With nine people plus a baby we could not all sit together but we managed to all find seats.

I could not decide if I wanted fish and chips or clam strips so one of my sisters agreed to split with me so I could have some of both.  And my mother got onion rings and the dinners came with chowder and of course we had to get doughboys.  Because, I mean, how could we not.  So I got to try a bunch of stuff.

When you order a dinner you get a choice of white, red or clear chowder.  I got white and it was thick and creamy and full of potatoes and clams.  And even though it was far too much food I was glad that it came with the meal.

The fries and onion rings were good and fried up nice and crisp.  The batter on the fish was a little thicker than I usually like but it tasted good and mine was fried up crispy as well.  But my sister said she had a piece where the batter was raw in the middle.  Don’t tell my sister, but I’m just glad it was her and not me because I really enjoyed mine.  The clam strips were good too and not super chewy like they can sometimes get.  My brother-in-law got scallops and he said they were sweet and he seemed to like them.  The only bad thing I have to say about the meal (except for the batter being slightly thicker than I like) was that you get a small little container of tartar sauce.  I would have liked more.  Because you have plenty of food to put it on.  But since I was way over my calorie budget already it was probably better that way.

And then there were the doughboys.  Beautiful little pieces of fried dough with powdered sugar (or cinnamon and granulated sugar if you would rather) sold by the half or whole dozen.  Although what you are going to do with twelve of them I have no idea.  After I had eaten my dinner I had trouble making room to eat just one.  It was delicious and completely covered in sugar.  Which did nothing good for my calorie budget but by then it was ridiculous to keep counting.  And when I finished the first one I was stuffed and had no room to fit anything else but they were so good I wanted to eat another one.  (I didn’t because it would not have ended well if I had tried.)  So unless you don't plan to eat any seafood first, or unless there are twelve of you, I wouldn't get more than six.

Weekend Cooking is sponsored by Beth Fish Reads. See the other posts here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

What is that? I need to buy it!

I have been spending a lot of time in the produce section of the grocery store since I have started counting calories.  I'm always looking for things to fill my belly that have a low calorie cost.  And that I don't mind eating.  Which isn't always easy.  All this time looking at fruit has made me aware of a strange impulse I have to buy things when I don't know what they are.  If there is a fruit that I have never seen before I tend to buy it.  You would have thought I would have learned not to do this since the first time I did I ended up with a Buddha's Hand.  I had no idea what it was or how to eat it but it was new and looked cool.  Turns out, you don't really eat a Buddha's Hand because there is nothing there but skin and pith.  All you can do with it is use it for decoration or zest it.  So it sat around until it started to rot and ended up in the compost.  But I keep going.  Recently I was picking up some mangoes and saw something new.  "Oh, what's that?  I need to buy it."  So in the cart it went.  This time it was kiwi berries.  Which turned out to taste like a mix between a kiwi and a grape.  This compulsion came as a surprise to me since it is the only place in my life that I am adventurous.  I usually don't like new and am not impulsive.  Unfortunately, this is a lose-lose type of thing.  On the one hand it could turn out to be something I don't like.  On the other hand I could like it but since I have never seen any of these odd fruits twice I can never get them again.  But at least I'm expanding my horizons so I can recognize more things when I'm watching Chopped.

Friday 56 and Book Beginnings

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.
Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.

My book this week is The Spy in the Ointment by Donald E. Westlake. My brother introduced me to Donald E. Westlake, well, I won't say how many years ago. And I have loved his comic crime novels ever since. This one is about a pacifist who gets mixed up with terrorists the FBI. It's a little dated now but the sarcastic hero and bumbling terrorists still make a funny story.

Book Beginnings:

I was trying to fix the damn mimeograph machine when the doorbell rang.

Friday 56:

I was slumming in a boobery, nothing more. This bag of mixed nuts was unlikely to stick together long enough to finish introducing themselves, much less go out in unison to kill innocent bystanders like me.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Roots Review

Roots by Alex Haley

Roots follows a family through several generations from Kunta Kinte, who was taken from his home in Gambia and sold into slavery, to his descendants who lived to see a time when they were no longer slaves.

This is a very powerful story.  No matter how much is true.  The controversy did take away from the book somewhat for me, especially at the end when the author is speaking to me as the reader and talking about his personal journey to write this book.  Which is unfortunate.  Because this is a good story and the feelings and sentiments here are true.  And I kind of got mad at Haley for putting the unfavorable impression into my head that I couldn’t quite get rid of as I read.  But I was easily able to become very involved with the characters.  I got a feeling for how life was for Kunta in his village.  I felt I knew him and his family.  I cared about them.  Which made the story of what happened to him a very emotional one for me.  It was interesting to see how Kunta was so different from the slaves who had been born slaves, how attitudes toward how the system worked could be so different among people who were all in the same position.  And I liked that it crossed several generations so you could see how time changed those attitudes in Kunta and the generations to come.  I do think Kunta Kinte was the best part and the book lost a little something when he left the story.  I understood why the story moved on but I wished we could go back and see what had happen to him.  The dialogue is written in dialect and that took me a while to get used to and there were some parts that I had to go back and read again out loud to figure out what was being said but I don’t think there was any other way this story could be told.  Despite the controversy surrounding Alex Haley and the writing of this book it is still very much a story worth telling and reading.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Crochet a Bat

I found this pattern browsing around on Ravelry but you can go straight to the pattern on Just Add Awesome here.

This little guy is pretty easy to make.  He is mostly just single crochet stitched in rounds.  Some increasing and decreasing are needed too.  To start the rounds it says to put six single crochet in the second chain from your hook but since I learned how to do a magic ring I like those better so I used those instead.

The wings are not stitched in rounds like the rest of him, but they are mostly single crochet as well.  The only difference being that some of them are foundation single crochet.  I didn’t know how to do those but it was easy enough to Google that and I was able to figure it out.  When you are stitching him together it says to attach the end of the wing you fastened off and it should be like a little nub.  But when I made the wings I ended on the other side so my trailing yarn I had left to sew them on was not on the nub side of the wing.  It was easy enough to sew them on anyway and you can tell which end is supposed to be sewed to his back but I don’t know if I did something wrong or what.  But I checked the instructions and don’t know how I would have been able to do it any differently.

To make him you need the yarn to make him, plus a little bit of a different color to stitch his nose, safety eyes (you could stitch eyes on if you want to but I can never get them to come out right), something to stuff him with, a darning needle and of course the crochet hook.

I used Sugar’n Cream warm brown yarn (worsted, 4-ply) and a number 4 hook and he came out to be about 3 ½ inches to the top of his head (not including the ears, the ears add about an inch) and 6 ½ inches from wing tip to wing tip.

He is super cute and comes together quickly.  I might make mine some friends.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Nostalgia Baked Up in a Coffee Can

So the other day I was at work and somehow the subject of brown bread came up.  I can not for the life of me remember how we got there but there we were.  The coworker I was talking to was unfamiliar with it and had to Google it to see what I was talking about.  But I grew up eating brown bread.  I remember always having a can or two around.  Usually we would have two, one with raisins and one without.  I always went for the one without raisins.

I hadn't thought about brown bread in years.  But once it was mentioned and I started to think about it again I needed to have some.  So I went to the store and there it was, right next to the baked beans.  I bought a can without raisins and went home to see if it was anything like I remembered.  I turned it out of the can and it came out in the shape of the can just like cranberry sauce.  And it was molasses-y and dense just liked I remembered.

But now I was an adult, who baked.  So I thought I would try my hand at making my own.  So I searched for a recipe and found one at Bon Appetit. And I even had most of the ingredients in the house to make it.  Even though you need three different flours and corn meal.  My brother helped me out there.  He bakes a lot of bread and so he has all sorts of flour on hand all the time and he let me use some of his rye flour so I wouldn't have to go buy a bag of flour I was probably only going to use once.

The next issue was that it is supposed to be baked in a coffee can.  If you want traditional.  But I don't
get coffee in a can.  And even if I went out and bought some in a can just for this they all have those little ridges around the edges now for the freshness seal to stick to instead of opening with a can opener.  So I thought I was going to be making brown bread muffins.  But again my brother came to my rescue.  He had apparently thought of making some himself at one time and saved coffee cans for that purpose but he had never used them so he gave them to me.

So I was all set.  I pulled out all the ingredients and buttered my coffee cans and was ready to go.  And I hit a small snag.  The instructions said to stir the milk with the next three ingredients.  Only there was no milk on the ingredients list.  Now I know I should read the instructions thoroughly before starting but I usually don't.  I just glance through it to see if I need any special equipment or to see if there is something out of the ordinary in there.  So I knew I was going to need twine to tie tin foil to the cans and a pan deep enough to bake them in a water bath and all of that.  But I had missed the milk issue.  (Should I have realized that something was missing?  Probably, since there were really no wet ingredients mentioned.  But it didn't occur to me at the time.)  So I went to Google to see if I could find out how much milk I needed.  And I found the same exact recipe at Epicurious, only this one had milk on the ingredients list.  Two cups of it.  Which was more milk than I had on hand.  So after a quick trip to the store I was ready to start.

batter is really thick
After that it was smooth sailing.  After heating the milk and next three ingredients in a sauce pan it was mostly just mixing.  The hardest parts were tying the tin foil over the tops of the cans and getting enough 'very hot' water in the pan to come three inches up the side of the coffee cans.

And then it was just a matter of waiting an hour and a half.  Although, after the fact, I was thinking that might have been a bit too long.  The bread wasn't burnt but everything above the water line was slightly dry.  So I would check it earlier next time.
tied up so it won't get away

But it was a little taste from my childhood when it was done.  Not quite the same as the store bought stuff of course but definitely brown bread.  With the molasses flavor, nice and dense, and the grainy texture you get from cornmeal.  The only difference was now I liked the one with the raisins in it better than the one without.  And I also tried it with cream cheese instead of butter and that was really good too.

The recipe makes two loaves and the bread doesn't last long so I will have to find someone to give a loaf to next time because it is a shame to let it go to waste.

Weekend Cooking is sponsored by Beth Fish Reads. See the other posts here.