Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fifty Dollar port

Beth sent me an email about a study where respondents were tested when they knew the prices of wine and when they didn't know. The so-called pleasure centers in the brain were monitored. We had dinner with her last night and she told us with a laugh about the fifty dollar port she was serving. It worked!! We really enjoyed it.

Our dinner companions were a lively pair of South Africans, Beth's neighbors. They know and love Babotie and we had a discussion about the recipes and how to make it. I was recalling formulating Babotie mix on San Fernando Road in LA, when the intended audience was Zimbabwean. None of us had any idea what it should be like and the whole project was clearly to justify a boondoggle on the part of R&D management in Amsterdam. Oh well, it was fun and we loved to have Babotie meetings - drums beating and bones in noses.

Beth made chicken piccata, bow tie pasta and carrots. It was excellent and we enjoyed it very much.

We also got to see Buster's home, meet Tucker and spend some time with the excellent Teddy, their Australian Shepherd... a really beautiful animal and obviously the source of great joy.

Charlie is busy putting together a water-cooled computer, complete with a radiator and other exotic paraphenalia. What a project - an interesting one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Book Club Goodies

For December, our book club read Isabelle Allende's "Ines of my Soul". Spanish food was the logical choice and some very nice vittles showed up. There was a marvelous Sangria contributed by Beth made with some cointreau to assist the orange flavor. Vicki, the chef supremo brought a pumpkin soup which was excellent and cookies with pistachios and chunks of chocolate. I couldn't stop eating the cookies and made a pig of myself. I contributed a salad of greens, blood oranges, pistachios, red onion and a lemon olive oil-white balsamic vinegar dressing.

Most readers didn't like the book which surprised me because I enjoyed it immensely. They thought it was too obviously written with a screen play adaptation in mind. They are right - it would make a good movie as the story is action packed with battles, sex and a fantastic female heroine.

"Three cups of Tea" is next month's book. Afghanistani food - that will be a challenge.

Book Club

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Society of the Flagon and Trencher

What a great group! You have to be descended from an inn keeper who was plying his or her craft, before 1776. There is a chance that Richard has such a relative. Most of his ancient descendants were rather snooty types so perhaps not. I looked up the geaneology and found Browne's but no Killeens or Fortiers (fat chance).

Watching Jeeves and Wooster tapes over the holidays generated some interested in P.G. Wodehouse, of course. Richard found a website and there is a society which has annual meetings. One of the events is a costume party where the attendees dress as an item of food mentioned in a P.G. Wodehouse book. Although it sounds like a good time is had by all, one has to wonder about people who have this much time on their hands!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ross night

Wednesday night is "Ross" night. Ross is our 92 year old neighbor, widowed about 2 years and lonely. People in the neighborhood take him out to eat on a regular basis. We take him on Wednesday nights. He has a date 5 days a week.

Richard picks him up at 4:30 and Ross is always standing in the doorway waiting. They come by to get me near 5 and we decide which of the three restaurants Ross likes, that we'll go to: Fallbrook Cafe, Denny's or El Jardin. Tonight will be the Fallbrook cafe. The place has zero ambience - not even decent "diner" ambience. The owner/host is surly. The waitresses are pretty good and service is OK. The unimaginative menu yields the occasional surprise and gradually we've found a few edible entrees we enjoy. Ross eats like a bird - most of what he orders goes home in a doggy bag.

We enjoy hearing his stories of Fallbrook in days of youre. He is a fount of information.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Gails wonderful New Year's Pork

New Year's Day and we ate the traditional "Good Luck" roast pork and sauerkraut meal at Gail and Bud's in Palm Springs. No black eyed peas however which are also considered good luck to eat on New Year's day.

The Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Years day to bring good luck for the coming year, dates back to the U.S. Civil War. Union troops, especially in areas targeted by General Sherman, would typically strip the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock and destroy whatever they couldn't carry away. At that time, Northerners considered "field peas" and corn suitable only for animal food, and as a result didn't steal or destroy these foods. Many Southerners survived as a result of this.

Many people put a dime in the pot with the black eyed peas. Whoever gets the serving with the dime has special good luck for the year...and if worse comes to worse, they are at least a dime richer!

At our gathering most people brought an appetizer and we had an array of crackers and delicious spreads: Diana's Velveeta chile walnut roll, a cilantro avocado artichoke spread, smoked salmon with sour cream. The usual dips and chips were in abundance. Plenty of food and excellent company.

Crab and Champagne

New Year's Eve at last. The door closes on a year filled with extreme pain and many pleasures. Bring on 2008 - It's great to be alive!

Alaska Crab legs and champagne. Doug and Jan gave us a bottle of Jefferson Street reserved which paired well with the giant crab legs. The three cats were very interested in the crab and the little guys were attacking the garbage can trying to pull out the shells. One shell was dragged around for a while but then they lost interest. We spent a few contemplative moments being thankful for all that we have - in particular, each other, to enjoy during these later years of life.

10:00 found us in bed, watching Wooster and Jeeves - more inanity from the now familiar cast of characters. Richard found the P. G. Wodehouse society website and we enjoyed hearing about society meetings where people dress in costumes from the various books. One costume event consisted of food items from the books and people came as cabbages, shrimp cocktail, martinis etc. These are people with too much time on their hands!

Off today to Palm Springs to watch the games and enjoy Gails annual repast of roasted pork. We're going to be blown all the way as the wind is really kicking up this morning.