Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Okay, so you win some and you lose some when you go to the movies.

You can catch my review of the movie Prometheus right now in this week's edition of The Piker Press.

This sure was a scary movie (wink, wink).

Monday, June 18, 2012

When Life Gives you Lemons....

This is a picture of one of my two latest culinary experiences. This is a jar of preserved lemon. Reeal simple, this one. Take about eight lemons and cut them into any shape you want. A traditional approach is to quarter the lemon without cutting all the way through so that it can be opened much like a four petaled flower. Or you can chunk the lemons, or you can slice the lemons. I sliced them. Slice them in a large bowl. Take about a cup of kosher salt and generously coat the lemon slices, trying to distribute the salt evenly. Then fill a quart jar with the lemon pieces, pushing down to pack them in fairly snug. Put the lemon juice left over in the prep bowl into the jar, and top up the jar if necessary with fresh squeezed lemon juice to cover the lemon pieces. Cap tightly and let set for one month, turning daily to distribute the salt. The preserved lemon is now ready to use, and it should keep for as long as a year if when you use it you are careful not to contaminate it, so use clean utensils to get the lemons out.

When you use the lemons, take them out and rinse them to remove the excess salt, discard the pulp, and cut the rind into small pieces.

What do you use it for?  Well, let's take this one step at a time, okay? I don't know just yet, but I've read that preserved lemons impart a far better lemon taste than does lemon zest, so you might consider that. And apparently preserved lemon is a real key ingredient in Moroccan cooking.

The other foray into haute cuisine was strawberry lemonade. This wasn't just lemonade with strawberries thrown in, this involved producing lemon syrup and then producing strawberry syrup, and then straining the strawberries to remove the seeds (???) and reserving the liquid separately from the pulp. It was a 45 minute long preparation process that produced...lemonade with strawberries thrown in. Sometimes these food guys over-engineer what should be one of life's simpler pleasures.

I took on these two projects because I've got a lemon tree, and it loves to produce lemons -- more than we've ever been able to consume, so I was looking for creative ways to use the lemons. My daughter has already successfully produced several batches of lemon granita, a fabulous lemon ice treat. So between her granitas, the preserved lemons and the lemonade, we've managed to use more of the crop this year than ever before.

And there's still plenty of lemons on the tree. If you need a lemon or two or twelve, c'mon by and I'll hook you up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

From The "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It" File

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The average American family's net worth dropped almost 40% between 2007 and 2010, according to a triennial study released Monday by the Federal Reserve.

The stunning drop in median net worth -- from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010 -- indicates that the recession wiped away 18 years of savings and investment by families.

Families in the top 10% of income actually saw their net worth increase over the period, rising from a median of $1.17 million in 2007 to $1.19 million in 2010.

             Source --  http://money.cnn.com/2012/06/11/news  /economy/fed-family-net-worth/

2010 average net worth of members of US House    -- $5.9 million
2010 average net worth of members of US Senate   -- $13.2 million

              Source -- http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/averages.php

Obama's net worth   -- $10.5 million  ($1.3 million in 2007)
Romney's net worth -- $250 million  ($202 million in 2007)

              Source -- http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-politicians

Just sayin'.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chantel DuBois

 This is my tribute to Captain Chantel DuBois, the enchanting villianess in Madagascar 3, now playing in theaters.

Je l'aime.

My review, in case you're interested is here in this week's edition of The Piker Press.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tendril Is The Morning Light

What you see on the left is a portrait of cucumber plant tendril. Tendrils are spindly appendages on cucumber plants that reach out in search of something to latch onto. Once attached they wrap around and around, drawing up and securing the stem of the plant from which they sprout. Tendrils are the main reason that vines vine up things.

I awoke this morning with one of those thoughts that is permitted to the simple and the retired. Could I see a tendril attach itself to the object of its affection?
I have read that these little things move at an astonishingly rapid rate...for a plant, that is. And, yesterday, I had noticed several tendrils that were wagging about (like the one on the right) looking for something to embrace.

With a cup of coffee in hand, I marched out to the patio, found my subject, and proceeded tame a wild tendril. Granted, tendril taming does not have the inherent dangers that sticking one's head in a lion's mouth might have, but for a city boy who had spent the last fifteen years of his working life in an assembly plant which has the same general ambiance of the interior of an aircraft carrier but with Corollas instead of F-18's, this was new and exotic.

Believe it or not, Mr. Ripley, if you are patient enough, when you coax an otherwise uncommitted tendril in the direction of a fixed object, in this case a tomato cage that has been impressed into service as a cucumber trellis, you can watch it begin its clinging intimacies.

This is not like watching the action at an NBA basketball game unless of course you were watching this past season's Charlotte Bobcats playing defense -- you really notice the movement less by seeing it than by comparing where the tendril was now to where it had been two minutes ago. Nonetheless, over the course of less time than it took for my coffee to grow cold, my little tendril buddy had begun to embrace its new found love, and it had indeed moved at an astonishing rate. Bobcat recruiters may well be planning to make an offer even as I write.

If you are so lucky as to have access to cucumber plant, I highly recommend you have a look at the tendrils. It is very entertaining...just don't stand in one place too long.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White -- "...skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony."

Yup, that's her. And my review of her latest movie Snow White and the Huntsman appears this week in the The Piker Press.

Click here to have a look.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

The cherry crop is in. That's the entire crop there on the left. That's far less than half of what we had last year. There was a lot of wind and rain while the tree was in bloom. The side of the tree that took the brunt of the winds did not have a single cherry on it. The back side, away from the wind, produced what it could. The cherries we did get were very, very tasty.

While we earnestly look forward with great anticipation to cherry season, we obviously are not serious cherry farmers. I can image how devastating a harvest like this might be to those who make their living farming.

Then again you don't have to be a farmer to know what it's like to work hard and do everything correctly only to have some ill wind blow through your life and leave you screwed over for no other reason that you were in the right place at the wrong time. Life is like that for most of us.

So this season's crop of cherries begs the issue of whether or not the colander is half empty or half full. Being the gentleman farmer, I have the luxury of seeing even this meager crop as a wonderfully tasty treat without having to worry about whether not it is enough. God is good. I hope the commercial cherry farmers in the area fared better than I.

Incidentally, my half full colander was totally empty shortly after this picture was taken as the family swarmed over it leaving nothing but the pits.