Saturday, April 30, 2011


My refrigerator smells wonderful.  In fact my whole kitchen smells great.  We make sausage today.  Well, mainly Marty did most of the work.  I helped some.  We bought a pork butt and some casings.  Then Marty washed the casings, chopped the meat into cubes, poured magic herbs and spices on the meat, and let it marinate for almost a day.  Then he started making the meat into sausage.

                       Before grinding the meat, Marty added white wine to it.
                            Marty is adding the meat to the meat grinder. 
                           And another handful of pork cubes are added.
 At this point after the meat is ground you get the casings out.  They are pushed onto the stuffing tube.  One person adds the meat (Marty adds, he has stopped to take a picture of his helper.) and the other one contols the meat going into the casing.  You have to push the casing off the spout which is to the left of my hands.  You can't do it too fast or there will be air pockets in the sausage.  If you are too slow, the casing will have a blow out. I did good.  No air pockets and no blowouts.
 At a certain point, no more sausage will come out of the spout.  But there is still meat in there.  Marty is cleaning out the meat in there.  We made patties of the meat he cleaned out.  So we have sausage in casings and patty sausage.
 This is Sicilian Fennel sausage.
 Here we have Portuguese Linguisa.
And this is Polish Kielbasa.

Tomorrow we probably will have the patty sausage for breakfast. In the bottom two pictures you can see the patties in deli paper.  The link sausage will be for later this week.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Kate and William will be marrying early Friday morning Pacific time. That is less than 48 hours from now.   I'm thinking that I am not going to be asked to perform the ceremony.  I guess they found someone local to do the ceremony.  That is just as well, as I hate to fly.

Seriously, the wedding is a huge deal.  How many of you are going to watch it live?  Marty and I are tempted.  The coverage begins before we would be going to bed.  Why not stay up, watch it and then sleep in on Friday? 

Americans want nothing to do with Kings and Queens as part of our government.  Yet, we are fascinated by the ancient traditions of royal ceremonies.  I remember as a child watching the coverage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  My Grandmother explained each step and what it represented.  Grandmother also was so sad for the young queen.  She kept saying this young woman  has lost her life as a wife and mother and will carry this burden until her death.

I am of the generation that saw Grace Kelly, movie star, become Princess Grace.  And what a wedding that was.  Life magazine had wonderful pictures.  And in order to get out of her 7 year studio contract, she gave the studio the rights to filming all the wedding festivities.  All of my friends and I gave up on the idea of being movie stars.  We went right to deciding to marrying a prince. 

I watched Princess Anne's wedding.  That was the first British royal wedding to be televised. The traditions the TV talking heads explained to us were so interesting.    The beauty of that wedding, the Cinderella feel to the dresses, the carriages, it all made great TV.  It almost made me want to go out and get married again to Marty.  All we needed was several million dollars to put it on.   Then of course the world watched Charles and Diana marry.   His brothers' weddings were widely covered also.

From all the links, you can tell I really like British history and weddings.  I found lots more wonderful links, but decided most of you are now bored out of your gourds.  Sorry about that.

Everyone loves a good wedding.  I wish Kate and William all the best.  I will enjoy seeing all the traditions, fancy dresses and uniforms, and seeing all the "stars" who will be attending.  I also will be glad when it is over.  I am just a little tired of this wedding and it hasn't happened yet.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Dinner

Easter is a major religious holiday in our families.  But we are not really traditional about what is served for dinner.  I don't remember growing up that we always had ham.  Maybe we did, but I don't remember it.  Country Ham was an important ingredient in special meals.  But just to have it for Easter, I don't remember.  Marty's family didn't have ham just because it was Easter either.

This Easter Marty did 90% of the cooking/preparation for our dinner.  We had tossed salad, creamed  peas, roasted prime rib, and popovers.  Below are pictures of part of the prep and the finished product.

 Marty made popovers.  They are just flour, butter, and half and half.  The whole point of popovers is to hold butter.  You put a couple of slices of butter in the popovers cups, preheat the cups and then put the batter in them.
                                 The batter ready to go into the popover cups.
 The prime rib has come out of the oven.  It will rest for 20 minutes, and then the meal will begin.
 After resting 20 minutes the roast is ready to be sliced.  We cook to medium rare.  Is it perfect?
                        We found shelled English peas at an Asian market.  They looked wonderful.  Wrong.
                               Marty is making a cream sauce for the shelled peas.
            Putting the peas into a bowl.  Don't they look rich and wonderful?  Wrong.
                                       Marty is slicing the prime rib.  It is perfection!
                              Makes you drool doesn't it?   Two huge slice of wonderful beef.
                                    Popovers!  These are ready to be pulled out and to be served.
              Yes, even though there was a huge amount of butter in each cup, they will stick.
                            Marty pouring a 2002 Cabernet Franc by Rubicon.   It was wonderful.
                  Tossed salad, peas, popovers, butter, wine, and prime rib.
More of the same meal.  Oh, did I tell you how awful the peas were.  I washed them, I tasted the raw ones and said they are bitter and hard.  Marty said when they are cooked they will be fine. I told Marty when to put them on.  He did, he made a cream sauce.  When we tried to eat them, they were hard ( they had cooked long enough to be soft) and they were bitter.  They were thrown out, as were the rest of them that were in the crisper drawer.  I love creamed peas.  We were very very disappointed with the peas.

The rest of the dinner was outstanding.  We have some of the almost raw centers of the beef left over.  Marty plans to grind them with butter or bacon grease and make some fancy ass hamburgers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A mixed bag of Weddings

This week the nine weddings were average in trouble, drama, sweetness.

I think I will begin with the first wedding of the week and get them out of the way.  I also wanted them out of my wedding room.  It started so well,  They were an Indian couple in traditional dress, as were the women guests.  Everyone looked stunning.  Then it all went to hell in a hand basket.

When we entered the wedding room, I couldn't get the group to stop talking so I could give instructions and get information.  They would not hush. They talked over me.  That did not sit well with me and I used what my husband and son call my school teaching voice.  Finally I gained control and began the ceremony.  The talking continued, they were telling the couple to pose this way, that way and they did.  Just ignoring that they were being married.  During the vows the groom froze as often happens, and I began again.  Everyone started yelling at him, shouting what he was to say.  I totally lost my cool and told them to be quiet.  I was the only one allowed to talk at this time.  They kept talking, not translating,  just talking, talking, and talking. Then I had trouble getting them to leave the room so I could do the next wedding.    RUDE, RUDE, RUDE!

Deep breath.  All better.

There were some good looking and some interesting outfits this week. 

One bride wore a coral colored floor length dress.  It had a rope braid on the halter top.  Over it she wore a long white lacy vest.  In the elevator the groom told me they would be the easiest couple of the day.  And they were.

I had one couple in royal blue, his shirt and her almost there dress.  She was very well endowed.  The dress had a deep V top let us say a size 36 B.  The bride was a 38 D.  Picture the strain on the dress and what was popping out.  Yet the couple was so sweet and so in love.  All through the ceremony the groom kept kissing the top of the bride's head.

The bride was from Columbia, the groom from Brazil. Their parents were there for the ceremony and a couple of aunts.  All the men wore boutonnieres, all the women had corsages.  The bride carried a nosegay.  All the flowers were yellow roses.  The room smelled like heaven.  The neat thing they did was have all the family stand up with them.  They had a professional photographer so no problem getting pictures of the ceremony.

Another couple was so cute.  He was lean and lanky, tie on with his shirt tail out.  She was tiny and short, at least a foot shorter than the groom.  She wore a green ruffled chiffon blouse and a cream colored lined lace skirt.  He asked for a short ceremony, he was very nervous.  After I pronounced them he looked at the bride and said, "That was short and sweet, just like you are."

My favorite couple were in their late 30s.  They had two little girls, one around 9 or 10 the other 3 years old.  The groom wore jeans and a sport shirt.  The bride, a largish woman, wore a white tee shirt with gold trim and white knit capris.  They both were very nervous and the 3 year old was not helping.  She was yelling and trying to run around.  The mother lost it and yelled, "You are not ruining my wedding.  I have never done this before and I want it nice.  Sit down and be quiet."   That did not work long.  I did my child whisperer thing and asked the older child to help the little one sit still.  It worked.  During the ceremony we had quiet.  The couple clung to each other, both had tears in their eyes.  There was love in the room.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Update on driver's licenses

A friend from high school posted on facebook after I wrote the blog about Mother renewing her driver's license.  He now lives in Tennessee.  He said he has a friend who has been blind since the 1990s.  She had renewed her driver's license 3 times since going blind.  I told him Tennessee wins for the state that is that is the most wacky. 

Watch out if you are driving around Knoxville, Tennessee for the blind lady.  If in Kentucky watch out for the lady in a blue van driving only in an emergency. She may not be able to walk far, but she is legal to drive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Mother and her driver's license

When I called my Mother in Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, I asked her what she would be doing that week.  Monday she had a doctor's appointment, Friday she would get her hair done and go to lunch.  Oh, on Tuesday she was going to the county seat to renew her driver's license. (In KY you can only renew your license in person,  unless you are in the military) I was stunned I had no idea she still had a license.  My Mother will be 94 tomorrow.  She is active, she is sharp as a tack, she works cross word puzzles every day.  But driving???

She can not walk far and uses a wheel chair when they go out.  She doesn't roll it, someone pushes it for her.  I asked why she was getting a license and not a Kentucky ID.  "There might be an emergency and I would need to drive."  I asked if she had to take a test:  driving, written, eye.  "They never have had me take one before."   So this week I asked if she got her license. Yes indeedy.  No test taken. All she had to do was sit down and have her picture taken, and off they went with the license.

In Kentucky you evidently only take a test once and you can drive forever.  Kentucky and much of the country did not require a driver's examination/license until the late 1930s.  Mother drove for several years with no license.  She told me when she got her first driver's license, my Daddy went down to the county seat and picked it up for her.  She never took a driver's test for the state of Kentucky.  When we lived in Colorado in the late 1940s she did take a test for a license there.

One quick story of her driving pre- license.  While in college her boyfriend from home (not my  Daddy) drove up to visit her. There was a big snow storm and he couldn't drive home.  Remember this is the 1930s in the mountains of Kentucky.  The roads were two lane and had lots of twisty dangerous curves.  Her boyfriend had to go to work the next morning, so he rode the train home.  Mother was to drive his car home the next weekend.  Her best friend, Prissy, and she drove home the next weekend.  Mother drove until they would reach a town.  She would stop and Prissy would drive through the town.  Then Mother would again take over and drive.  They drove like that for 75 miles.  Why you ask?  Mother had only driven on highways with her boyfriend's arm around her helping her to steer.  She was afraid of pedestrians and oncoming cars.  Prissy was much more experienced at driving.

I am sure you are now wondering why Prissy didn't just drive all the time.  Mother's boy friend did not like Prissy and did not want her driving his car.  Mother never told him Prissy helped drive home.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weddings from several days

I have three days of weddings I haven't shared with you all.  Some were lovely, normal, sweet, but as you know I get the problem people.

We had some dresses that I worried would become a malfunction.  A beautiful bride from Thailand had on a long cream colored dress.  It was a backless halter top dress that was too big and too long for her.  The bride did not have on a bra and when she moved the dress didn't.  Nothing was exposed, but pushed it to the limit.

Another bride was pleasingly plump.  Her dress was a size too small. The dress was strapless and the girls really wanted out of the tight squeeze.  The design of the dress was black back with the front white and black large stripes.  The white material was almost transparent.  One white stripe went across her navel, which was very evident and across her breasts.  At least she had on a bra.
My favorite look for a bride (and I am not kidding here) was the artfully shredded maternity jeans and the purple, cream, and turquoise striped top. To complete the look the bride's eyelids were striped in purple, cream, and turquoise.  Each stripe was the width of a little finger.  I know it sounds awful, but this woman was 8 months pregnant with three small children.  She was having fun and making a statement.

Several weeks ago I wrote about the screaming bride who was upset because I wouldn't do the wedding ceremony.  The groom spoke no English. It is a state law that no outside translators may be used in County performed ceremonies.  We have to be able to understand the people being married. Events like this are rare, or so we thought.

The lead clerk H told me they had a couple demanding we marry them. They had to be married that day because it was a lucky day in their culture.  None of the clerks thought they spoke English well enough for us to do the wedding.  They were from Mongolia and had brought a translator. H told them how to get information to find someone to marry outside our building.  They weren't going for it.  H finally told them it would be up to the commissioner to decide if the wedding could happen.  I went out to the lobby and told the translator to stay put.  I took the couple to the front lobby and began talking to them.  The bride did not understand anything I said.  He understood some English.  I told him I could not by law do the wedding.  But they could get information at the library a block away on people who could marry with a translator.

He said he couldn't hear me, so I spoke louder. Then he got the translator because he couldn't understand what I was telling him.  The translator didn't speak much better English.  Finally I convinced them to get their money back for the ceremony and find some one else to marry them. As the refund process was going on, the groom and the translator became irate.  All of the people they had dealt with had been rude, they had shouted at them. This from the man who kept cupping his ear and saying he couldn't hear us.  They wanted names so they could complain to our superiors.  We were discriminating because we didn't provide translators for them.  Why didn't we hire Mongolian translators?  A refund was finally done, the license reprinted, and they left. 

But they didn't stay gone.  They changed their minds, they didn't want a license from us.  They would take their business else where.  I had told them about the state law, that the other 8 Bay Area counties do not take walk ins. They still thought another county would do the ceremony. We refunded their money and they left.

I did a couple of normal weddings and came downstairs.  In the lobby is the Mongolian couple.  They wanted to buy a license again.  They had found someone to perform the ceremony.

I told H that I wanted hazard pay.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I don't always work on Reading and Math skills.

What is in this pot??????

When I walked into the classroom today, all the tables were covered with newspaper.  Ms. H. laughed when she saw  my face.  I knew we had an art project, and that is not one of my strong points. When I took Art for Elementary Teachers, the teacher told me my projects looked like a first grader did them.  It hurt my feelings, yet it was so very true.

So back to the picture, it is a pot of glue, flour, water  to use with paper mache projects.  The children are making paper mache globes.  They have applied one coat of glue and newspaper to a blown up balloon.  Today we did the second coat.

 Above is a sack of carefully cut rectangles of newspaper.  The children had plates with glue, swiped the paper on both sides in it, and applied to the globe. 
Each globe is drying while resting on a plastic container.  When fully dry, they will paint them, placing oceans and continents on them.  Remember these are being made by first graders.  I am impressed every year when they do these.

I really wanted to take pictures of the gluey children, but not really a cool thing to do.  It was interesting to watch them work.  Some jumped right in, slapping paper on and let the glue fly.  Some hated touching the glue and "icky" globe.  And who were these neatniks?  They were all little boys. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Since we last met . . .

Last week I wrote my blog about working with the first graders, clicked on the facebook button to post it there, and damn!  I was notified I was reported as spam and abusive.  I don't know what happened.  A friend told me she had 4 other friends who had the same thing happen.  One was a blogger with 30, 000 followers, not a person who should be blocked.  I appealed twice, heard nothing from facebook and became hurt and mad about the block.  Today, I was allowed to post.  Yippee!!!

In spite of the above we are having a wonderful weekend. On Friday Marty and I celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary.  We saw a movie, The Adjustment Bureau, which we really liked.  Makes you think.  Then we went to the Berkeley Bowl, our all time favorite grocery.  We bought crab rolls, a chopped marinated tuna bowl, and live lobster. 

You will notice there are no veggies in the meal we were going to have.  The crab rolls had pickled ginger and the tuna bowl had avocado, julienned cucumbers and rice. That was all the veggies we needed. The lobster only needed melted butter and lemons from our tree.  We drank Maker's Mark to toast 44 years, and white wine with dinner.  A perfect meal.

Yesterday it just got better and better.  Our nephew and his family came for brunch.  This is a brave couple.  Get three little kids up on Saturday morning, gather toys,(toys are a must, they are coming to a home with nothing for little ones other than a DVD player)  and drive an hour to arrive before 10:30.  We had fun with the kids, aged 7, almost 4, and 7 months.  The parents were fun too.

I served marinated vegetables, dried fruit, chicken salad, doughnuts, a spicy cheese frittata, baked French Toast, bacon, and lots of mimosas. Mimosas were just for the adults.  The kids had juice.  My thought was with that much variety there would be something besides doughnuts the kids would like.  And I was right.

Tonight, we have company coming.  Hey, the house is clean, I have all the people I can on the clean cycle.  I have made a shrimp salad and I'm getting ready to make a tortilla soup.

Good Times!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

A side note to the above title. I said something about arithmetic one day to the class. None of them knew what arithmetic meant. They have only heard the word math. When I was in school, a hundred years ago, it was arithmetic until high school, then it became MATH.  Now it is math in kindergarten. 

Tuesday I worked with the first graders.  They were in small groups: some reading with Ms H., others doing creative writing, a group was working on independent writing, another was again doing the dreaded math worksheets with the tiles. I worked with the math group and made sure they knew what they were doing.  Then I moved to the independent reading.  They read a story, write several sentences about the story, draw a picture, and read the story to one of the adults.

The  independent reading was great.  One little boy O had finished all his work.  He had several options to choose from for free time.  He picked none of them.  His choice was to sit and listen to the little boy H, next to him, read to me.  H was reading a take off of Chicken Little, The Sky is falling.  H reads fairly well, he has expression, good speed, and has fun reading.  O listened to the story and kept scooting closer to look at the pictures.  It really was sweet seeing O enjoying the story and H doing such a good job reading.  Man, I do love my first graders. 

I worked one on one with the slower readers.  Some of them are really coming along.  And others are just not progressing.  One little boy R hates working with me.  He just doesn't want to work with me, because it becomes work.  He is a goof off.  He was a week behind the little books we read.  I caught him up to the rest of the group and then worked with the rest of the group .

I had time to work with him on this week's book. I didn't want him upset because he had to work with me again.  Ms. H asked him if he wanted to have some free time or read to me.  He WANTED to work with me.  I nearly passed out.  He really read well.  I was so pleased he was improving and that he was willing to do extra work.

As the children were lining up to go to lunch, Ms. H. told the children if they wanted to give me a hug before I left they could.  Be still my heart.  There is nothing better than little ones giving me a hug or asking me to hug them. 

I so love my first graders.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weddings? Oh yes, we had weddings

Monday before I arrived at the county building, they had done 10 wedding ceremonies.  There was no volunteer that morning, so a staff person did the ceremonies.  Trust me I could feel the love, that would be for me, when I walked in.  The lobbies were full, there were weddings to do. 

The marriage desk clerk K told me I did 9 weddings.  I was sure I did 10.  I was right.  The count was off because when she went to lunch a clerk downstairs recorded one of the licenses.  K didn't know about that one.  Nine or ten, either one makes a busy 3 hour period.

There are lots of stand out things for each wedding.  But you all would get tired of reading so much.  I will edit to just a few things.

One wedding the groom was of the age group that "Pants on the Ground" was written about.  He had his hand in a pocket holding up his pants.  He also was holding a tiny baby with the other hand. (They had 4 children under the age of 5.  These little ones screamed and whined the whole time.)  It didn't seem to be a ceremony where I should ask the couple to hold hands during their vows.  I was pretty sure there could be a wardrobe malfunction.

The next couple was older.  He was 65 and she was 57. They radiated love.  After I pronounced them married, they kissed, then they stood and just hugged each other. The groom laughed and said, "What have we gotten ourselves into?"

I had a couple from India with multiple names.  Many of the Indian women I have married  have just one name, so this was a shocker.  The groom had 4 names, she had 6 names.  When she signed the license she wrote just initials for 5 of them:   A.N.B.T.V. Doe

As I went back and forth through the lobby I could see a bride with really fancy shoes.  I love pretty shoes.  On the top of each shoe was a different colored flower.  The flowers matched the colors of the bride's dress.  Or so I thought. When I met this couple I realized I had made an error.  The beautiful flowers were not on the shoes, they were tattoos.

Our last couple was originally from Mongolia.  As I have mentioned before, Mongolian names are long, very long.  Yet really not that hard to pronounce.  They usually break into 3 or 4 letter syllables.  Yesterday the bride's name was something like Setantsletrapart.  (That is totally made up by me.  I won't use real names of our customers.) I nailed both their names the first time.  The couple's witness had a darling well behaved  toddler.  During the ceremony I felt the toddler's arms wrap around my leg.  The little one clung to me the rest of the ceremony.  You know what?  It felt really good to have a toddler hugging my leg .

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Frying Turkey

Last night we had friends to dinner.  We get together maybe once a quarter and do a loose pot luck.  The host provides drinks, main course and veggies. The guests bring salad, dessert, appetizers, or whatever is assigned. 

We fixed Southern food: fried turkey, green beans and potatoes cooked with country ham, spoon bread. The guests brought shrimp cocktail; stuffed mushrooms with pesto and cheese; a salad with pomegranate seeds, cheese, walnuts, spinach and other goodness.  We ate really really well.

Do I have pictures of all the food, no.  We were having such a good time I forgot about taking pictures.  I do have some pictures of the evening.

The table is set with Kentucky Derby plates and julep cups.

Spoon bread ready to go into the oven.

                  Turkey is brined, rubbed, injected.  It is ready to be dropped into the hot oil.
                                          Oil is hot and ready for the turkey.

 Kids, don't do this at home.  Usually Marty lowers the turkey with a pulley.  Last night he set up in a different place and no pulley.

               Twelve pound turkey is in and will cook around an hour.

                  The oil is boiling at this point.  Marty had turned the fire up to blow torch level.

The party is over.