Tuesday, March 30, 2010
This blog has moved

This blog is now located at http://www.towse.com/wordpress.

Note: Updated this post to point to the new WordPress blog not Blogger. Auto-forward disabled. The comments did not migrate cleanly but are available at this archived copy of the blog. [04Apr2010]




Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Delicious winemaker dinner at Acquerello Restaurant
Delicious winemaker dinner at Acquerello Restaurant last night. The winemaker brought wines that the chef wanted to pair with her food. It was all =really= delish.

Before we went, his nibs said, Piemonte wines. I think we've been to the village this wine is supposed to come from. He named it. I checked. I rummaged through old digital photos we'd taken on a trip in September 2002. And, yes, we had indeed walked through the village of Serralunga d'Alba.

 
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We'd poked through the square and climbed up into the castle that dominates the surrounds.

We'd walked through Gaja vineyards in the morning and watched them harvesting, before we walked up to the village

 
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but I'm pretty sure we hadn't walked through Ettore Germano, which is a ways from the village and on the other side of the village from Gaja.

Tasty wines last night. He had a sparkling to start and a gem of an un-oaked Chardonnay before he dove into Barolos and such.

Plus Sergio Germano was a very charming man with loads to talk about truffles and wine and winemaking. Entertaining evening all around. We need to visit Acquerello more often than we do. Suzette Gresham-Tognetti makes such amazing food.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The fog burns off ... a rust bucket appears
The fog was burning off this morning, after a morning much like the ones we've been having lately. If it's not raining, it is =really= foggy in the morning and then the fog burns off and around 11A or noon we are left with a sunshiney blue day.

I was taking photos of the fog burning off ... the Ferry Building. ... 10:31A

 
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The SFO Bay Bridge. ... 10:49A

 
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About an hour later, the fog was mostly gone and one of the old military ships from the mothball fleet in Suisun Bay, near Vallejo, appeared, dragged fore, with two tugs tailing aft, headed to have its barnacles and paint scraped before it's hauled away to be scrapped.

Rust bucket. 11:42A

 
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Monday, February 08, 2010
[PHOTOS] Red-tailed hawk
A red tailed hawk hanging out down the hill

 
 
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Until a three-some of crows dive-bombed it until they chased it away.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010
Cheers, to our Canadian visitors. Bon voyage!
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Cumulonimbus 03 Feb 2009
Just a note ...
My blogging world is shredding around me.

First up, the folks who handled my comments said I'd have to pay for the service. Um. No.

While I was wondering what commenting service to use in lieu, someone/something else seems to have picked up the commenting. (Waaah?) But I still need to find a permanent vendor.

While I was still wondering what commenting service to use, I got a note from Blogger/Google saying that folks like me who FTP their blogs to their Web sites are using too many tech resources/time/help and they are shutting down the FTP service. I can either move over to Blogger and their services or find another vendor.

*sigh*

If you're wondering why the slowdown in blog posts, it's just me pondering my future. The blog will roll on, with a different manner of posting and a different mode of handling comments.

Soon.

I'll probably freeze this blog in place and start another from scratch, which is a Royal Pain, but the easiest way to handle the transition.

(I've always been the tortoise when it comes to making decisions like this.)

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Sunday, January 31, 2010
Lucky ship ...
 
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Horizon Falcon at the end of the rainbow. [26 Jan 2010]

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Storm waves. Mendocino coast
 
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Cliff Way. Just south of Noyo Bay. One of a handful of photos taken through the Mini's windshield. Too wet and windy out to play with my camera outside.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010
Storm arriving ...
 
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What does this photo show? Planes coming in for landing from the north, which means the wind's from the south, which means the expected storm is starting to blow in.

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Friday, January 15, 2010
[RECIPE] Chicken mole for dinner last night
Last night we used up the last few pieces of chicken from the rotisserie chicken I bought for the book club meeting here 04 January. That meeting was canceled because of issues with the sewer -- alas -- and we found ourselves with a $5 rotisserie chicken from Costco for the second time in our lives.

(Why don't we buy rotisserie chickens more often? Is it because I think, "I can cook my own chicken! Why do I need to buy a pre-cooked chicken from Costco?" That Monday was a day of upsets, though, with several issues precluding a home-cooked meal for the bookers. Then, after all that, the sewer problems. ...)

We had chicken legs &c. on Monday, January 4, for dinner. Salad. Garlic bread. Chicken again the following night or maybe two.

A week later, this Monday, we took the solid pieces of chicken off the carcass and saved them and threw the carcass and the wings into a pot and made chicken vegetable soup w/ spaetzle. Finally, we're coming to the end of the chicken and have had ... eight-plus meals out of it? Amazing. (And despite me eating chicken soup w/ spaetzle for breakfast twice since the 11th, we =still= have another serving of soup and spaetzle left as well. ...)

I made mole sauce last night and popped the cooked pieces of chicken leftover from the 11th in the sauce and let them simmer a bit before serving. Delish.

Chicken Mole recipe (a snap, a cinch, easy-peasy)
============

Large heavy pot of a proper size to hold everything.

Add ~ 2T olive oil to the heated pan. Heat oil. Add 1 small onion, chopped. Stir around while it browns.

While it's browning, chop 2-3 garlic cloves. Put in custard cup. Add to custard cup
2T chili powder
1t ground cumin
1/2t ground cinnamon.

When the onion is showing signs of browning, toss the garlic and spices in on top. Stir until you can smell them toasting.

Add one can diced tomatoes. (I used Hunt's fire-roasted diced tomatoes w/ garlic)
Add a cup or so of Trader Joe's ménage à trois peppers, chopped. (or one green pepper, chopped)
Add 10-oz chicken broth.
Add large spoonful of peanut butter (adds some bass tones to the sauce)
Add 2 oz. chocolate, broken into smaller pieces. (Bitter preferred, but if there's no bitter in the house, any dark chocolate w/ >70% cocoa. DO NOT EVEN THINK OF USING MILK CHOCOLATE!)
Add two chipotle peppers, chopped, if you have them, or some chipotle pepper salsa if you don't, or don't worry about it if there's no chipotle peppers of any sort in the house. The flavor =is= a nice addition if you have it.

Keep stirring sauce on heat until the chocolate's melted and the peanut butter has blended in. At this point, you throw in the chicken pieces, if you are not dealing with leftover chicken.

In either case, keep stirring and bubbling until the sauce has reduced to the thickness you're happy with. (And the chicken is cooked, if you weren't dealing with pre-cooked chicken.) A bit before then, I put the pieces of cooked chicken in so they'd absorb some of the flavors before serving.

Tonight I plan to cook a few boneless chicken thighs and toss them in the (leftover fr last night) mole sauce and have an encore performance.

Delish. (And easy-peasy!)
(w/ hattip to Paula Deen, whose recipe is the foundation of this one. ...)

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Thunderhead over the east hills
Monday, January 11, 2010
Chicken soup for dinner tonight. ...
Chop. Chop. Chop. Garlic. Onions. Carrots. Celery. Brown a bit in olive oil. Add bay leaves, 8C water, leftover bits of a denuded roast chicken: meaty bones, wings, whatever. All tossed into the pot. Bubble for 2hrs.

Strip the chicken off the bone and tear into shreds and add back into pot. Discard bones. Retrieve bay leaves & discard.

Add some leftover chicken salvaged from the pre-denuded roasted chicken to the pot. Taste. Add Herbes de Provence. Bring to boil then shut off.

Boil some water. Make spaetzle. Strain spaetzle. (Made four batches worth so I didn't overwhelm the boiling water.) Add butter and toss spaetzle.

Reheat soup. Serve. (Me) : Spaetzle in the bowl, covered w/ soup. (He): Buttered spaetzle on the side. Soup in a bowl.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010
Haloscan
Haloscan started charging for their comment processing as of the turn of the year. I am changing comment processors and ... soon everything will be back hunky dory.

Soon.

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Monday, December 28, 2009
I am doing my best to keep my boat steady and my sails full.
 
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I am sailing into the wind and the dark. But I am doing my best to keep my boat steady and my sails full.
-- Arthur Ashe


A lone sailboat on the Bay yesterday afternoon. ...

[click to biggify]

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Monday, December 21, 2009
Why I plan to become affiliated again. ...
Soon ... some time after the holidays, I'm planning to temporarily abandon my "decline to state" status and signup as a Republican before the primaries. The CA Republican Party does not allow decline-to-state voters to vote in their primaries and I want to throw my vote to Tom Campbell for the Republican nominee for CA governor.

Sure, sure. I don't always agree with Tom's positions -- he and I don't see eye-to-eye on the health care reform debate, f'rex -- but he is a bright guy. Sharp as a tack. He thinks things through. He's amenable to changing his mind when different factors are brought to his attention. (And back when he was my Congress critter, he answered my e-mails at 3A Washington, DC, time when I dropped him notes after midnight California time.)

He listens.

Why would I change my unaffiliated to Republican-affiliated? Because Meg Whitman is the front-runner in current polls and I do =not= want Meg Whitman as the Republican nominee. And Whitman as Governor? Oh, noes! Sure, I could vote in the Democratic Party primary as an unaffiliated voter, but voting there will probably not make a huge difference in which candidate (Jerry Brown, anyone?) is chosen to run.

Tom Campbell is a =much= better choice than Whitman, but knowing the state party, he probably won't make the cut unless Meg really blows it between now and then or enough decline-to-states join (or re-join) the Republican party and vote for Campbell.

Update: For the June 2010 primary, it turns out, decline-to-states CAN vote in the Republican primary =if= you request a Republican ballot, either at your polling place on Election Day, or in advance by contacting your county elections office. Which is what I now plan to do. (Although the push this year to implement the bar failed, the push is still on within the party to bar decline-to-states from voting in future primaries, so be aware.)

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Thursday, December 17, 2009
Last night I cooked kohlrabi for the first time.
Last night I cooked kohlrabi for the first time. (Gee. That reminds me of the first line of REBECCA: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.)

ChefRussell had served it onstuponatime, iirc, and CarolP served it up at a bookgroup meeting but me? Never. Know kohlrabi?

Bought some in Chinatown. Leaves not included. Last night I searched through cookbooks for directions. None to be found. So I turned to the Web and found the utterly delightful Farmgirl Fare blog and her paean to kohlrabi. ... Although I didn't use her recipe or any other I found on the Web, she gave me permission to cook it any ol' which-way I'd like when she wrote

Sweet and mildly flavored, kohlrabi can be braised, boiled, stuffed, sliced, scalloped, steamed, julienned, roasted, and sautéed. You can grate it into slaw, toss it into salads, slip it into soups and stews, snack on it raw with dip, and stir-fry it. You can even wrap it in foil and grill it. I've seen recipes where kohlrabi was covered in cream, sautéed with anchovies, stuffed into empanadas, fried into cakes, served with hollandaise sauce, and turned into a cinnamon brunch bake. This vegetable is versatile.

Sal's Kohlrabi:
Peel two kohlrabi. Chop into thinnish chunks, about the size of the upper joint of a thumb. Throw into a Dutch oven and sauté with some bacon fat to slightly brown the veg. Add water to barely cover and top with lid. Cook until softened and most of the water is gone. Mash with residual water. (I could've pureed in the Cuisinart but wanted a more chunky mash.) Add a generous dollop of sour cream and seasonings and a chopped green onion. Stir.

Yum. (Served two as vegetable side dish. ...)

(I also snacked on a piece or two of raw kohlrabi while I was cooking and liked it. Good addition to a veggie-and-dip platter. Kohlrabi has a texture like jicama but a more green taste. )

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Monday, December 14, 2009
Truffle-palooza last Saturday night
Last Saturday was the last but one dinner for the Dissident Chef. He's putting his pirate ship into drydock so he can focus on the new restaurant that's a-building at Pier 5.

The Theme was truffles ... the fungi not the chocolate. Saturday night's menu was the long-form (we got home waaay after midnight) while Sunday's (the final final final dinner for at least a year) was a shortened version to allow folks to get to work on Monday.

Eight courses, followed by three desserts. Every course, including the desserts, had truffles either in or on or over.

(White truffle ice cream .... mmmmmm)

Photos (and menu) from Saturday's Truffle-palooza

SubCulture Dining Finally Waves Goodbye

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Thursday, December 10, 2009
RIP Gene Barry.
RIP Gene Barry. His three TV series were among my favorites growing up.

AP article by Bob Thomas

LOS ANGELES — Gene Barry, who played the well-dressed man of action in the television series "Bat Masterson," "Burke's Law" and "The Name of the Game," has died at age 90 of unknown causes, his son said Thursday.

Fredric James Barry said the actor died Wednesday at a rest home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Woodland Hills.

Gene Barry essentially played the same character in all three series, which spanned the 1950s to the 1970s. Always fashionably dressed, the tall, handsome actor with the commanding voice dominated his scenes as he bested the bad guys in each show.


[...]

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Thomas Hoving, 78, dies of cancer.
Thomas Hoving, 78, dies of cancer. Globe and Mail article by Verna Dobnik.

Thomas Hoving's charismatic but controversial leadership of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is summed up in his autobiography Making the Mummies Dance.

Dr. Hoving died yesterday of lung cancer at his Manhattan home, his family said.

As the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1967 to 1977, he turned an institution he said was "dying" into a happening museum with blockbuster exhibits. The treasures from Egyptian King Tutankhamun's tomb was the most popular exhibit in the museum's history, drawing more than one million visitors in New York, plus another 5.6 million at five other American museums.

But Dr. Hoving also raised dust in other ways, paying $5.5-million for a Velazquez masterpiece while selling works by Van Gogh and others to help pay for it. And he had no qualms about letting people sit and snack on the museum's front staircase, which he had enlarged.

Dr. Hoving's philosophy was: anything to make people notice great art.


[...]

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009
After the storm
Cold. Wet. Yes, please. Could we have some precipitation?

A friend up the hill reported snow falling. His nibs said hail was causing havoc -- and slips -- on the Steps as he came home from his stint at the Academy of Sciences.

I was (relatively) snug and warm inside today. Thick sweater. Warm wrap. Fuzzy slippers. (Thermostat set at 65dF as is our wont. ...)

And then the storm cleared and I took pictures ...

Here's one:

 
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Thursday, December 03, 2009
Let us now praise Canon Customer Support
Nearing the end of October, an annoying spot appeared on photos taken with my Canon SX110 IS. The spot was too big to edit out of most photos. I tried cleaning the lens. That wasn't the problem.

At first the spot was up near the top of the photo and I could work around it with judicious planning and cropping. The spot drifted down over the days toward the lower middle of the frame. Cropping and editing EACH AND EVERY photo was not a plan.

I'd had a similar problem with my previous Canon, ending up with multiple spots to deal with, and eventually bought this one not that long ago. Trading in a 4x for a 10x made the upgrade easier to justify. But now this camera had a spot as well ... so I went looking for a solution.

The online help at Canon did not deal with dark spots on photos. No solutions given. White spots, yes. Dark spots and blurs, no. So I searched online and found some who claimed the problem was with dust specks inside the camera. The one solution I found for do-it-yourself dust removal seemed hair-raisingly difficult.

I sent a note to Canon support:

Every photo I've taken for the last several weeks has a spot in the lower middle of the frame. The spot is large enough that retouching is difficult although I can crop the spot out of some photos. The problem appears to be a dust speck (or specks) within the camera body. What can I do to clean the dust out of the camera?

First back from them within three minutes was an auto-response: we got your msg

The following day:

Thank you for contacting Canon product support. We are sincerely sorry
to hear you are experiencing an issue with dust in your PowerShot SX110
IS. Please accept our apologies regarding this matter. We value you as
a Canon customer and appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

Please mail your digital camera to the Factory Service Center shown
below. When shipping your camera, please be sure to remove the memory
card and batteries. You are not required to send any accessories or
manuals when shipping the camera. Be sure to include your name, street
address (no P.O. boxes, please), telephone number, and a letter
describing the issue with the product. Since it has been less than one
year since the camera was purchased, we ask that you also include proof
of warranty in the form of a copy of your sales receipt.


[...]

OK. Fine. So I packaged up the camera, made a copy of the receipt, mailed it off (as suggested) via USPS priority mail. They had suggested that or some other method that tracks packages.

I sat back to wait.

In the mean time, I received two requests from Canon to fill out a survey to see how they were doing. I decided to wait until I saw whether they fixed the camera. ...

30 November: a note from Canon that my camera had arrived there and yes, indeed, it looked like a problem they could fix. However, " Please note that in the unlikely event that any additional internal damage is found due to liquid/water, sand, corrosion, battery leakage or impact (such as dropping the unit), a revised estimate will be sent for your authorization, since these conditions are specifically excluded from warranty coverage."

02 December: a note from Canon saying they'd shipped my camera back to me.

03 December: I signed for it at the door and took a couple of test shots.

FIXED!

I went back to take the Canon survey that they'd sent earlier and the survey window had expired. [sad face here]

So, instead, I am writing this paean to Canon service. Thank you for fixing my camera so promptly. I felt naked without it with me as I walked around. I appreciate your efforts.

p.s. I wish you'd make some note on your site that black specks in photos could be caused by dust inside the camera that you will fix under warranty. If I'd known that, I would've sent my previous camera back to you for service, but now it's too late and the camera, which I bought a little over two years ago, is out of warranty. Alas. [sad face here] Cost to have a camera repairman take the dust out is probably more than the value of the camera. Instead his nibs will use his fine motorskills to see what he can do -- the worst he can do is make the camera unusable, which it already is.

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: views from the Hill






Bertold Brecht:   
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
But what has happened has happened. And the water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again.
























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