Sunday, September 30, 2012

Deep Fryer, Cobbler, and Scorpion

The title may sound like a mish mash, but it all came together at the same meal.

The guys had made a Costco run and bought blackberries.  Marty had told them that I made a great cobbler. 

Richard has been wanting a 12 cup deep fryer by Presto. He found the one he wanted Saturday. 

The scorpion, well we have seen a couple.  One in my bathroom, another one in the living room.  These make me nervous.


This is the first one Marty killed.  It is about 3 inches long.

Now to our story.  Saturday was our turn to cook.  I made the blackberry cobbler.


You might notice, it was cooked in a Bundt pan.  I needed a 3 quart round deep pan.  All of Richard’s pans were too big, too small, shallow, square, or rectangle.  So I improvised, and it worked perfectly.

I also made my famous Sloppy Joes.  They are ground beef, celery, onion, garlic, and tons of thinly sliced mushrooms.  Of course lots of seasonings too.


I hate cleaning stoves, so the whole top is covered with foil. 

Marty inaugurated the deep fryer.  He made us French Fries for supper.


Oil is heating.  We are in the outdoor kitchen.


Almost hot enough.


In go the potatoes.  Sorry about the glaring light.  But it nighttime and Marty had to see what he was doing.


Salting and then they will be lowered into the oil.


There they go.

We had a lovely dinner by candlelight on the patio.  I was congratulated on my gourmet Sloppy Joes.  But Panchito was upset.  The little dog kept running to the steps to the pool, and was starting to bark and carry on.  It was his, “Kill it, bad thing, kill it now!” bark.  Marty used his flashlight app and he and Luis went to look.  Panchito had found another scorpion.  Marty had to kill it, Luis was barefooted.


One squashed scorpion.  That IPhone flash really lit up the step.  More bug spraying to come.  Trust me, no one is going barefoot in the dark any more.

After the excitement, we sat down and had our warm cobbler with vanilla ice cream.  The night was clear and the lights on the mountains were beautiful.  We had fireworks again, but this time we only could hear them and see a bright flash.  They were behind a mountain.

It was a fun evening with good food if I do say so myself.  Maybe I could have done without the excitement of another scorpion.  But all in all, a lovely dinner.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I was thinking . . .

When I walk in the pool every day I set a timer for an hour and 5 minutes.  I had been counting every lap so I know approximately how many laps that is, 130 round trip laps.  When I was counting laps I couldn't do anything but count or I would lose count.  Now with the timer I can watch the clouds, watch the birds and butterflies, or plan the next blog.

Today random thoughts went through my brain.  Some good, some dumb, some that were what was that about. 

I kept thinking about our wedding day.  I went to get my hair done.  I drove back home in time for a little lunch and then to leave for the church.  Everyone was gone except for one of my bridesmaids.  They all went to the wedding without the bride!  I drove Gail and me to the church.  45 years later, I still don't know why they left without me.  That was the one time that nothing would happen until I arrived. 

I thought about the people who bought our house.  Have they ripped out the walls as they planned?  We had planned to do that, but never had the money.  Or are they caught up in the slowness of permitting in Oakland?  I think about emailing a neighbor to see what is happening.  Then I thought, no that seems stalkerish.

I thought about the Marriage Factory.  Do the clerks miss me as much as I miss them?  They are fun and very kind people.  I really really miss all of them.

The two scorpions that Marty killed this week were a big thought.  Do they have family and friends still in the house?  Do scorpions swim?  I need to google that one.

Can you be stung by a dead bee?  Lots of bees drown in the pool and sink to the bottom.  If I step on one, is the stinger still active?  Another thing to google.

I thought about things I did in high school.  Things that today would put a teenager in Juvenile Hall.  The midnight shopping for flowers from yards around town. The Dukes and Duchesses needed flowers for the annual banquet.  Driving many of the football team to the bootleggers.  Throwing cups of ice into open windows of cars. Taking hubcaps from friends' cars and hiding them.  Putting bags of dog poop in front of a door, setting it on fire, ringing the doorbell, and running.  Just good clean fun in a small town.  Is there a statue of limitations on this stuff?

I thought about the blackberry cobbler I have promised to make.  It calls for melted shortening, Crisco at our house.  Would butter work, and wouldn't that be even better?  Tomorrow I may try the butter.  Marty, the baker, just said no to butter.  It wouldn't work.  So he is off to buy me Crisco.

And then I thought about the walking and other water exercises I do every day.  Well walking every day, extra exercises every other day.  I guess I am healthier.  I know the bad knee is stronger and I have less pain.  But I really don't like exercising.   

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Balboa Park Part 2

Today I have pictures from the Air and Space Museum, some pictures of buildings, and the Botanical Building.  Also more pictures from the Automotive Museum

The cars were fabulous, as were the motor cycles.  Some of the vehicles had been restored to glossy new.  Others looked as if they had just found them after they were stuck in a mud pile for 75 years.  Interestingly, I tend to like the non restored better.  Maybe the history was talking to me.


Indian, gorgeous motorcycles.  


This is a military motorcycle from WWII.


This is a very early car.  You can see Marty and me in the mirror.  That will give you an idea of how large this car is.  Many of the early cars had 16 cylinders.



The Apollo 9 space capsule.  It looks way shinier than it is.  Most of the paint is burned off, and the bottom where the heat shield is was black.


This is the killing machine, the Drone.

IMG_2425  IMG_2427

Notice that these are a Navy jet fighter and a Navy helicopter.  San Diego is a Navy town, no Air Force exhibit here.


This is a replica of a German WWI plane. Among the serious stuff, a little humor.  In 1978 the museum burned and they lost everything.  They have recreated the planes they lost.  Other planes obtained since then are original.


They didn’t tell us who Bunnie was.



Several of the museums.  The architecture is stunning.


The Botanical Building.  I was expecting a glass building.  This is just slats and is open air.


This is the view with the Botanical Building at your back.  The Lily Pond.  The smell was awful yesterday.  They had seeded and sodded around the pond.  We think they used fairly fresh manure to help the grass along.


Inside a true jungle.  There were orchids, ferns, banana plants, Australian Tree Ferns that go to the ceiling.


This will give you a sense of scale.  Marty is close to 6 feet tall.  You can’t even see the ceiling here.


Few plants were identified.  So don’t know what this is other than lovely.


We loved the swirl of these plants.


Another beauty with no identification.

Next week we hope to go back and visit other museums.  There are so many gardens for us to visit also.  Part of these visits are just because we love gardens and museums.  But we are previewing for when Little Brother and wife Ann come Thanksgiving.  We need to know what is out there for them to see.  Of course I will send them links to Balboa Park and other sites in the area.  They may see something we hadn’t even thought of.

Hope you enjoyed this.  We certainly enjoyed our day out Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Balboa Park Part 1

Today we had nice weather.  You could stand to be outside.  So Marty and I went to Balboa Park.  On each Tuesday certain museums are free for residents.  The parking is always free, and most of the gardens are free.  It is a gorgeous park: the plantings, buildings, walkways.  We spent several hours looking at three museums and the Botanical Garden.

The Hall of Champions, that took about 5 minutes.  We are not sports fans, unless it is University of Kentucky basketball.

The Automotive museum was great.  There is a special exhibit (that we had to pay a whopping $2.00 per person) on Steampunk.  The docent said this was an art form that makes you use your imagination.  How would the Victorians have made a plane, a ray gun, a time machine? Artists made some wonderful clothes, vehicles, guns.  I, as usual, have way too many pictures.  Be sure to click on them to enlarge them.  The detail on some of these things is just wonderful.



A warrior’s face mask.


I love this hat.  The huge magnifying light and the other gadgets.  Makes me want to go exploring.


This vehicle was huge, maybe 15 feet long. It is a time machine/killing plow.  The next picture is a note from the artist.


The lights to spotlight exhibits make for a poor picture.  I love the last line of this.


Isn’t this beautiful?  I loved this motorcycle.  Check out the horn.


This is for our son Erik.  Be sure to read this poster.  Batman rules.



Can you say Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?  The museum took one of their old cars and added the wings. 


Ray guns


This is a super sized bicycle for two.  The front two wheels are controlled by the person in the first seat.  The back wheels are controlled by the person in the next little seat.  The back seat is for passengers.


This is just what is says, the service craft for a dirigible. On the left side of the information stand is a booklet telling you how to operate the craft.

The above is just a portion of what we saw today.  This was so much fun, and really impressive with the art/technology.  I don’t know if this was a traveling exhibit or just local.  If it does comes to your area, do go see it. 

Tomorrow or the next day I will show some of the other things we saw today.  So stay tuned.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My IPhone History: Not Good

Years ago I got my first IPhone.  I didn't want one, I was happy with my Razor.  But my Palm Pilot was dying and I needed to replace it.  So Marty said get one machine to do multiple things.  OK, I had an IPhone.  And I really liked it.   Marty was due an upgrade some time later and I  got his older fancier phone and he got a new one.

May of 2011 we were visiting Richard and Luis on Mother's Day.  I drowned my IPhone.  Yes, killed it, you could see the water in it.  So for Mother's Day I got a new phone.  This was not how I wanted an upgrade, but I loved my new phone.  I did not blog about this accident.  It was a little embarrassing. 

October 2011 we are in Palm Springs on business.  Our phones couldn't locate us on Facebook.  AT&T told us to just reboot them, hold down the top and the bottom button at the same time.  Wait one minute, hold the buttons down again, and it will know the location.  Marty's phone came back on, said what restaurant we were in and mine . . .  mine never came back on.  It was dead.  An Apple phone that was about 6 months old died.  I was livid.  I was crazed.  Why does machinery hate me? 

We drove 3 towns east into the desert to the closest Apple store.  That trip was worth a blog and I did blog it.   They had never seen an IPhone's battery die like that.  So a new phone was given to me. 

The "new" phone has had sound issues for a while, people couldn't hear me.  I thought I was hitting mute by accident, but I guess not.  On the drive to San Diego half the time Marty(remember he was in a truck and I was in the car) couldn't hear me.  That was a problem if we getting off to eat or get fuel.  When we arrived in San Diego the problem became more pronounced.  And then any call, incoming or out going, no one could hear me.  This meant I had to call Apple customer service.  My nightmare began. 

Of course like most companies, Apple has out sourced customer care.  First you yell at the stupid robot, then you finally get a human.  You again tell the human everything you told the robot.  The human speaks.  No one can understand her.  She speaks a mile a minute and if you ask her to slow down, she has to begin all over again.  Her most important thing is to make me pay $99.99 before I can talk to tech support.  Phone less than a year old and I have to pay to just talk to some one?

She finally ran me through some basic tests and says she is transferring me to tech support. No need for the $99.99, taking it off my card.  This is their fault, so I should get a new phone." I beg for the number because I know I will be disconnected.  " No need for a number, I am direct connecting."  The next thing I hear is a robot, same questions, then a human.

I asked for a number in case we get disconnected. No need.   He talks to me and then, "If you would like to place a call, please hang up . . ."

Back to the only number I have.  Repeat all steps.  This human is worse than the first one.  He will not listen to me.  Doesn't care that I just want to be connected to tech support.  All he wants is for me to pay $99.99.  Finally after becoming the bitch of all bitches, he connects me.  Repeat the next set of steps.  The human listened to me.  He took my phone number in case we were disconnected.  And he read the notes from the first human. Then we repeated the tests, and did a couple of full recoveries. He gave me a case number, and said to go pick up my new phone.   These calls only took 4  1/2 hours. By then I was a raving, foaming at the mouth, lunatic. 

Next phase, make an appointment for the genius bar.  I set one up for the next morning.  We go, I give him the case number and he ignores it.  He is going to make me do a full recovery for the 4th time.  I said please look up the case and read the notes.  Oh, they already did all these tests.  You're right, we owe you a phone.  Thank you, finally.

The phone has worked for 9 days now.  Can't wait to see how this one fails.  I am not impressed with the quality of the IPhone.  They should last for years as my Razor did.  It doesn't matter if they are replacing it for no charge.  It should work.  When it works it is a lovely fun machine.  I just don't trust it to work. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Testing Marbled Blueberry Bundt Cake Recipe

The goal of this recipe was to produce an attractive Bundt cake featuring a swirl of fresh-tasting blueberry.  Again we are testing a recipe for Cook’s Illustrated.  The recipe had lots of steps and lots of ingredients.  It was time consuming, but oh so worth it.

Marty is the cake person in our family.  I took pictures, over 120, while he worked.  I also washed up behind him.  I think I washed every bowl, measuring cup, measuring spoon, spatula a gazillion times.

I have pruned the pictures down to 25.  That was tough, I had some great pictures.  But I thought, attention span, Janet, attention span.  Let us begin.


Page 1 of 2


Gathering of ingredients


Marty checking the first step, and gathering more ingredients.  Do you think it called for enough butter?


I can’t tell you how many times I washed these bowls.  One was for wet, one for dry, one for the mixture. 


The chef separating eggs.


Creaming butter and sugar.


The pan ready to be buttered, even though it is a non stick pan.  You can’t have too much butter.


Butter and sugar creamed.


Wet ingredients going into the dry.


Blueberries being pureed


Beginning the blueberry sauce.


Here come the pureed blueberries.


Cooked sauce and the remaining pureed blueberries mixed together.


Marty is dropping dollops of batter for the first layer.


Here Marty is making a trough to hold some of the blueberry sauce.


He is spooning some sauce into the trough.  Then he swirled the sauce with a fork.  Later there is a picture of the swirling.  I missed it the first time around.


Layer two coming up.


And we repeat the process.


Swirling as promised.

 IMG_2359        IMG_2362

Into the oven.                              Done, and out of the oven.


Three hours of cooling.  First this way, then upside down on a cooling rack.  I didn’t get a picture of that.  Over 125 pictures and I missed a pan sitting upside down for three hours.


Cooled and ready to cut.


Cooled but still a little warm. 


Warm cake with powdered sugar.

This cake is so good.  Sweet and tart at the same time.  It has lemon zest and juice in it.  Yummy.

This is another keeper.  We all four loved it.  Marty and Luis each had a slice for breakfast.  In fact they put them in the microwave to warm for a few seconds.  I heard there was butter involved.