Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Florida! I am in Florida! Marco Island, Florida, to be exact. Now you may be asking, why would anyone go to south Florida in the middle of June? Good question. Because my dad just turned 60, and he wanted a big family trip to celebrate, and it ws relatively easy for all of us to get to Florida, so here we are. It is hot and it is humid, and the storms that blow in off the Gulf of Mexico can be fierce, but so far we have lucked out with lots of sunshine. So. Florida.
And I have to say, the plane ride down was very okay. I am not a good flyer (as you may or may not know), so I kind of dread getting on planes. But it was early enough that I was sleepy, and even though I didn't sleep on the plane, I was kind of in this gliding mode and didn't notice the few bumps we hit. And, Paul and I volunteered to sit in an exit row so this lady could sit together with her two little kids; I really didn't care where we sat, so long as I could be near Paul during any turbulence, and when it comes to traveling and hundreds of miles per hour at 35,000 feet above sea level, I take all the free karma points I can get. Want to switch seats? I am there. Anyway, for doing our good deed, the flight attendant rewarded us with a free cocktail! At first, I thought, but it's not even 9:00 am. But then I thought, I'm on goddamn vacation, and a vodka cranberry would taste very nice indeed. I even got it with Skyy vodka -- the good stuff -- and being a little buzzed made the flight tolerable indeed.
So now we're here. The days have consisted mostly of walking around in the sun, lying around in the sun, swimming in the Gulf, and eating -- lots of eating. Dad likes the restaurants. But more tomorrow. All this sun activity and eating has made me tired.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
If I didn't have so much to do for the stupid history class I'm taking, I actually might enjoy this. I'm getting a few ideas for teaching, but for the most part, it's just goofy artsy activities. The only thing that's missing is naps on little rugs on the floor.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
So that was six months ago. We had the bottle on a shelf for a few months, and whenever we decided to have wine, I'd joke about opening that one, but we never did. Then when it started to get warm, we thought we should put the two bottles of white on our rack in the fridge, and I stuck the bottle of Arbor Mist in there too. You know -- just in case the mood struck and we wanted it. Just in case.
Last night, it was really warm, and we wanted something to drink. There was no beer, and the two bottles of white were long gone, and it was too hot to drink red, and we didn't feel like booze-y drinks. And then Paul suggested that we actually open that bottle of Arbor Mist! So I took it out, unscrewed the top (note that: unscrewed the top), and poured it into glasses.
You know what? It's really not bad. Of course, it tastes nothing like wine, but if you can make yourself forget that it's supposed to be wine, it's actually a decent refreshing beverage. Sweet, but not so sweet that it's gross. It's like...it's like cran-apple with a little bit of Sprite in it. It's like juice, but with a tiny bit of alcohol thrown in (six percent, to be exact). And that's alright too: usually after two glasses of wine, my functionality decreases significantly, but after two glasses of this Arbor Mist stuff, I was pretty alright. I don't know if I'd buy it ever, but if it were offered to me, I would not refuse it. I wouldn't even make a face, like, you're going to drink that? I'd just take it and start drinking. At any rate, it's way better than any of those wines in a box.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
A lot of people don't know about mangosteens, mainly because they are not sold fresh in the United States. In fact, they are one of the few foods that is illegal to import into this country (due to concerns about potentially devastating parasites that the fruit are occasionally known to harbor), and as they need tropical climates to survive, they cannot be grown here either. Hence, no one gets to eat a mangosteen within our soon-to-be-fenced borders. You can import canned mangosteen and mangosteen products, but I guess the demand is very low, seeing as how most people in this country don't know what a mangosteen is and are probably not inclined to buy it on a whim. (A year ago, if you asked me what a mangosteen was, I would probably have guessed that it was a Jewish mango. I would have been wrong.)
Anyway, now this company Xango is marketing this mangosteen juice, but it's not like orange juice or apple juice or pineapple juice. Oh no. Not at all. They're marketing it like wheatgrass juice, like some magical cure-all that will make you thinner, smarter, faster, stronger, and generally more appealing to the sex/gender of your preference. At places that sell shots of mangosteen juice, you can also pick up this free newspaper-looking piece of propoganda lauding the effects of mangosteen and featuring articles on "real" "doctors" who use mangosteen products in their treatment of very very sick people, all of whom have miraculously recovered from their ailments (thanks to the magical mangosteen) and have gone on to magnificently great things, they'll have you know. Also insinuated in this PR fluff piece is the idea that pomegranate products are so five minutes ago when it comes to natural remedies, and that all the money you've spent on tart cherry juice as a natural cure-all was wasted -- wasted!
So I am, of course, curious to try this mangosteen juice, since I hear that mangosteens have an unbelievably incredible flavor. But I don't want to be one of those stupid people who spends the rough equivalent of a gallon of gas on an ounce of Kool-Aid. I'm sure I'll break down and try it one of these days, and unfortunately it will have to be in shot-sized portions, as a bottle of this Xango stuff costs the same as a bottle of ultra-clean small-batch vodka. Actually, I just had an idea for a really good and very expensive drink: Belvedere and Xango. Now that I would pay $2.50 for.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Another thought that crossed my mind while I was watching the movie was that it was really cool that Bill Clinton was so into crossword puzzles (he said he used to do the Times crossword in the oval office when he needed to resharpen his mind or just needed a break from stuff), and that our current commander-in-chief has probably never done a crossword puzzle in his life. Probably, I thought, G. W. Bush is a word search man. Jumble at best. Definitely not sudoku. But probably not crosswords either. In any case, the movie opens in New York on Friday and in other major cities a few days later, and if you get the opportunity, I think you should go check it out.
In somewhat related news, we spent some time sampling the jams and sauces and things at American Spoon, a jam-and-sauce type store in Saugatuck, and I am now addicted to their mango butter. Their pumpkin butter is also quite good, but that mango is fantastic. But my favorite name for one of their products is the marionberry butter. It should come with a vial of crack and the phone number of a cheap hooker.
Thursday, June 8, 2006
When I bought it a few years ago, I was still in the beginning stages of Alton Brown worship. Alton Brown said that everyone has to have a cast iron pan. Right. I went right out and got one. But what I think Alton Brown meant was that everyone should use a cast iron pan, and not just have on in their cabinet that never feels the heat of a burner.
Why didn't I use it? I think I was just scared. No, wait, not scared. Apprehensive. Yes, I was apprehensive. This whole cast iron thing was completely new to me. Yeah yeah, I know it's been around a lot longer than All Clad, Calphalon, Teflon, Le Creuset, and just about every other kind of pan. It holds heat and cooks evenly, and as long as you have a proper seasoning on the surface, nothing will stick to it. And they last for freaking ever. I knew all of that. But I don't think I had ever actually seen anyone use one. My mom never used cast-iron stuff, and I don't remember seeing my grandmothers cook in cast iron either. And most of the Food TV chefs have lucrative deals with some of the aforementioned kitchenware manufacturers, and therefore use their products. Alton cooked a few things in cast iron, but I think they were all cuts of steak, which I don't eat. So I had nothing to go on.
But then the other night, I was cutting up some veggies for fajitas and thinking about how I like fajitas a lot, and how the fajitas I make at home are never quite as good as the fajitas you get at a restaurant. Then I remembered that restaurant fajitas come out on a hot cast iron plate, which carmelizes all of the onions and just makes stuff taste really good. And then I remembered that -- hey! -- I have a cast iron pan. I should try this. So I did. And you know what? I make some kickass fajitas! And it's all because of that stupid $10 cast iron pan.
Now I want to use it every night. It makes stuff taste really good! It's still a little awkward for me with getting the heat just right, and I'm still kind of weirded out at not using soap to clean it, but I guess I can get used to that. And I am even considering getting a bigger cast iron skillet for when we make big pans of sauteed veggies. Now I feel so stupid for wanting a big fancy expensive Le Creuset enamelled pot for two hundred bucks. Alton was right -- cast iron is definitely the way to go.
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Anyway, I am glad to report that I survived the much-hyped 06-06-06 yesterday, and aside from biting my lip while eating a snack in a hurry, catching my knuckle on a weird corner on the treadmill while I was entering in my pre-workout numbers, and getting a tiny grease burn on my wrist while cooking dinner, the day was more or less horror-free.
Sunday, June 4, 2006
I paced around the front and back yards for about 20 minutes until Paul got home, and I showed him the bird. He said we should just put it out of its misery, because even though that sounded mean, it was probably the best thing for it. Animal control was closed, and we certainly didn't know how to heal it. So I went in the house and Paul got out a shovel, and in a few seconds the bird was dead. But the other bird in the trees was still making lots of noise.
I'm guess we did the right thing, but it felt awful. What do you do when you have a wounded animal in your yard and it's after business hours? We just didn't know. And I felt especially bad that there was another bird that was upset about losing its child (or umm...partner); it flew over our heads and hopped around the yard and squawked for another hour or so.
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