Thursday, August 28, 2008

Belated Sunday Food Pics

Daughter-blogger MR and hubbie John the Armenian (you don't want to be on the list) LOVE to grill. Which for them is not just the act of cooking over coals (yes JtA is a purist and uses charcoal not a gas grill). It is for them it is having friends over and the combination of the cooking and the enjoyment of company and the out-of-doors.

I was in Chicago this week and came in early on Sunday to be with them and granddaughter Dukes which I related earlier in the week. Lakeview Coffee joined us which was lots of fun.

I evidently was supposed to be the official blogger photographer. Unfortunately, after only one beer (a Japanese craft beer!), I was already in full 'have a good time' mode. So I'm afraid I failed pretty miserably with the photo taking :(

I did get two :)

Tomatoes being sliced by MR for a luscious tomato salad with homemade croûtons and ricotta salata cheese
These were a special green type that came right from the MR garden

Grilled Bison Ribeyes with the Salad
JtA raved about how good Bison was and I had to agree.
Look at the beautiful salad and beautiful McEwan's Scottish Ale!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thoughts on Dealing With An Uncertain World

In my business life, I work with businesses and people who frequently have to deal with crisis and significant change. Outside of business, many of my contacts are dealing with significant changes and crises in their lives. I recently wrote an article on the subject and wanted to excerpt some of the key points for those of you who may be dealing with such events in your life

Managing Change

If you are a small player in a big world that is changing, how do you cope? How do you deal with these circumstances on a day-by-day basis and make the changes necessary? How do you deal with the unknown especially when you may be taking serious hits to your life right now?

Here is the outline.

1. Avoid Paralysis – Accept the necessity for action. Don’t let fear of the unknown negate all decision-making. This is because…

2. You Will Not Have All The Information – There’s too much going on. Even the academics, the ones who do nothing but study a situation, aren’t going to be able to figure out and enumerate every variable and how they will interact. You must…

3. Trust the 80-20 Rule – You don’t need every piece of information to get a sense of what is happening. We rarely do. It’s just that in more stable historical times it seems like we do. Make use of what you can get hold of and get your hands around and…

4. Do A Tactical Analysis – Whatever the direction you are going to go in, there will be a necessity to take action. In what directions will you need to direct that action? Will you need to cut costs? Will you need to add talents and capabilities that you lack? Will you need to redeploy personnel and physical assets so you are better postured? Once you have your tactical game plan you can…

6. Build an Action Plan – Your action plan has to break things down into detail. You must prioritize. The more in crisis you are, the more you must focus on the things necessary to keep the doors open and stay alive. Your action plan should be such that it creates a real punch list for you to do and for you to organize your scarce time and resources. Your action plan needs to be combined with…

7. Leadership, Confidence, and Focus on What’s Important – When all hell is breaking around you, when things seem dark, when you’re not sure if all the pieces are going to come together or whether it will all fall on top of you, a person who is going to survive the crisis has to eliminate the distractions of all the what-ifs, focus solely on what is essential to be done now, and give the leadership and confidence to those around them.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cause for Parental Concern?

Should a parent be concerned if their daughter:

  1. Is with a person who's primary enjoyment is sitting?
  2. And which same person exhibits white bicycle rage?
I'm way out of touch because what is "in a relationship" mean?
  1. Are they dating?
  2. Are they "an item"?
  3. Do they live together?
  4. Do they just share pickled foods together?
Do rabbit ears in photo really indicate romance?

What's a parent to do?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just a Familial Weekend

Nothing of great cosmic importance to write about. I had a nice weekend doing a lot of stuff with family.

Saturday morning I went on a hike - a good length in line with my prior (pre-operation) capabilities around 6 miles with 1,500 foot altitude gain. I'm feeling like I'm totally ready to get back into my serious hiking again. I went with a client of mine (the second time) so I'm expanding the number of people I hike with which is good.

Saturday night we went over to the Visigoths to make a birthday dinner for Goth Queen, Pulisha since I totally forgot her birthday earlier in the week (in spite of it being right in my calendar). Her daughter, C, was at our house doing a project with Wife since she hadn't made a present. I ended up taking an hour long nap as I was way short of sleep from the week. Wife was nice enough to do my ironing for me - she's such a sweetie.

I don't think my cooking on Saturday night was as good as it could have been but I did make all the things daughter loves and that she rarely gets so we had some halibut of a frisee salad up front - unfortunately the frisee was like eating small twigs :( but the fish was good. Then I made a saute with four types of mushrooms (chantarelles, blue chantarelle, opalla, and hens in the woods) - big hit with Pu. Then I had some rib lamb chops with a deglazing sauce and twice baked potatoes. The later were essentially butter and cream held together with a potato binder. King Goth, Tim de Buffalo sous-chefed for me and was a big, big help.

Made the cardinal error of drinking lots of wine after the dehydration of the mornings hike which always has serious reprecussions - why I can't get it through my head this going to happen is clearly a sign of my impending senility.

Early Sunday morning I was off to the airport (7 AM flight, yuch) going to Chicago so I could spend some extra time with Motherrocker et al. They picked my up and we went straight to Chinatown to try a dim sum restaurant. Unfortunately the one we wanted to got to had a 45 minute wait. We tried another but it was clearly more for tourists. The food was OK just not totally ready made. I tried duck feet - not as good as chicken feet. Like tepid pigs foot, something to be tried once and that's about it.

Then we were at the MR house. In the evening Lakeview Coffee came by and we had one of the classic MR/John the Armenian cookouts - bison steaks, corn over the grill, tomato salad (from MR's garden) with home made croûtons (my one part), and home made chocolate chip cookies - also many beers some of which were not Belgian or Belgian style. Great time - played a lot with Miss Dukes. Then Lakeview brought me back to his place as we have work to do this week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Helping Hand

A little over a week ago I posted about a young lady, Cristy, who had the very bad misfortune of having her wonderful gift of donating her body part, fail. It is so hard to commune with a person in pain when you haven't had the experience yourself. As I related then, this was particularly haunting to me because her reality had been one of my big fears prior to my own donation.

I am happy to say that someone showed up to leave Cristy something really meaningful. Go to the comments on this post of Cristy's and read Frannie's comment. It's really something special.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Do We Call Him Mr. Styling Now?

Maybe in light of his English heritage we should call him Baron Styling?

In any case, Ms. Styling and beau Andrew are now Stylist and Home Renovator...I mean Man and Wife.

Ms. Sticks and her DH were the fabulous hosts as always. They love putting on a party and do it with style. I don't have pictures from Wife yet but hope to have some later in the week. I got to meet a number of their friends both in Ohio and from where they used to live in Illinois who I've heard about for years but never have gotten to meet in person.

We drank one helluva lot of wine in one night. A lot of beer too. There was motor cycle lessons the next day for those who wanted it. The food was a cook out with lots of homemade salads.

We snacked just before we left on Sunday on corn from Ms. Stick's garden literally picked and cooked.

Styling and Andrew looked awesome and were very happy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Homerville Redux


Sadly no - no pig roast. But almost as good - wedding reception for neat-o niece Styling with Renee Michelle and pig head chomping physicist (that's a good trait by the way) Andrew. And if SRM is involved you know there will be wine and good food involved as well (think she may have been infected with our family germs from all the visits we had when they were growing up).

This also means another trip to the Living in the Sticks homestead in Homerville, OH...the second in a month's time...what do you think the chances of that happening anytime again before I kick the bucket? I'm wondering what LitS's DH is going to be building when we get there? Wouldn't be a visit to the Sticks without something being built.

The wedding itself was allegedly this opulent affair at the Washington Cathedral where SRM and Andrew are going to school with Connecticut Avenue closed down and a city police escort whisking the wedding party from the Lincoln Memorial where the pre-wedding pictures were taken to the Cathedral - but it was only for the immediate family.

Both Mother and daughter have been on blogging hold for the last few weeks because of this - come on girls where's your perspective! Inquiring minds want to know. Well at least we will get some good pictures because Mrs. de-I I think is the designated photographer for today.

Also will get to see daughter Motherrocker, husband John the Armenian (may have to change his name to Green John - more on that later) and granddaughter Miss Dukes. Tried to convince MR that doing her belly dancing for this reception was a great idea. You know how far I got with that one.

So what part of Ohio are you all in this weekend?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Life is Not a Fairy Tale

Sorry but this is not going to be a light hearted post.

Things come up again and again that remind me the importance of being grateful for what we have - that may of the things we bitch about really aren't that important - that we are so, so, so lucky to be where we are and have what we have - and most of all that none of this we are entitled to. We are just lucky.

Life isn't fair. Never has been. Never will be.

Since my kidney donation operation, I have followed a number of people who also have been going down the donation path and are blogging about their experiences. Just trying to repay some of the long-distance support that I received from so many people.

One of my greatest fears going into the operation was that there was going to be failure. I would be disqualified at the last minute from giving or I was going to be disabled or that the kidney wasn't going to work in my sister.

One of the young ladies I have been following is living my fear. The kidney she donated last week to her sister didn't work. Now she is dealing with all the effects on her life (inability to get insurance for example), the reality that her sister is no better off than before, and the emotional impact on her own self-worth.

Was she somehow less worthy of being a donor than me? Of course not. I lucked out. She threw snake eyes. Is this fair? No it isn't. It's life.

Enjoy your life. Appreciate what you have. Don't take it for granted. It's not a given.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What We Lack in Gardening Prowess...

...we make up with in superior photography. First of all the 'we' is a bit presumptuous as both the gardening and the photography are the work of Mrs. de-I. However as President and CEO of the Bank of de-I and the sole source of the funding for these projects I do believe I have some sort of lien rights that allow me to use the first person plural.

Gardening in our little corner of the world is a challenge. No deep dark black soil like they have in Ohio, Illinois, or Minnesota. We are on the edge of a mountain and our soil is the detritus of eroded rock with little in the way of decomposed plant matter. On top of that, this is a desert - 10 inches of rain per year on average. So we have very dry hot days that dessicate the soil especially during our hottest period of May and June.

But because of my love of fresh produce for cooking and Wife's love of beauty she works like a maniac on our tiny little spread (or it could be her farm girl genes manifesting themselves.

Golden Raspberries

These are one of the real success stories. They absolutely thrive on the side of our house, are amazingly productive and taste wonderful

Morning Glories

It has taken a number of years for these to really take hold but they are finally showing their beauty


Wife planted a peach tree last year and these are the first we've gotten. We ate the very first ones tonight (they had actually fallen of the tree so were a little early in terms of ripeness). Wife's comment says it all
"These taste just like real peaches!"



Would you believe - Squash Blossom?

My one complaint would be Wife's propensity to grown multiple yellow squash and/or zucchini plants each year. They produce volumes of mediocre produce that I am forced to find something to do with.

Trumpet Vine

Very, very popular in these parts

Come on have you ever seen a more appetizing picture of a watermelon?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Houston We Have Lift Off

Saturday morning both Wife and I are both in the kitchen around 7:30 AM. We're looking out the kitchen window doing the hummingbird baby check. Yes it's there. It has been very active. Sitting up. Primping its feathers. Looking around. Sitting on it's nest. Wife decides to take some more photos

Mrs. de-I - Wildlife Photographer

After the picture taking, we're looking and the mother returns. Feeds the bird, then starts flying around the nest (which is not her usual behavior). Mother leaves. The baby starts fluttering its wings. LIFT OFF. The baby flutters around the roof of the patio then settles on the ground on a damp section of the patio floor. Wife gets upset.

"Is that good for it to be in the water!" "Where is the mother when she's needed."

I'm thinking - it's a hummingbird dear, I don't think it could or is going to do anything.

Then after about 4 minutes of bewilderment, the baby just takes off and heads for a tree.

That is the last we've seen of mother or chick. The patio is ours again.

My Answer to Plating Attractively on my Current Plates

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What Evil Hath You Commenters Wrought!

Round, Square, or Octagonal?

Flat or with Lips?

China, Porcelain, or Stoneware?

Cups and Saucers or Mugs?

White, White on White, White with a Border?

Shallow Bowls or Bowls with sides?

Setting for 8, 12 or 16?

Wife - "Have you looked on line at the 68 different white table service options yet?"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Baby Huey

It seems just a little while ago that the baby hummingbird was just barely visible in the nest. Now it is practically filling the whole nest up! We've seen it preening it's feathers and get the impression that it won't be long before it starts flying (and we get possession of our patio back!)

More great pictures from budding wildlife photographer, Mrs. de-I. The baby is a lot more cooperative about staying still than the mother.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

6.5 Divided by 7 & 12 Minus 7 =

Respectively the number of bottles of wine consumed and the length of time our guests stayed at the dinner Wife and I held Saturday. If a successful evening is defined as your guests eating and drinking a lot and hanging around for a long time, then this was definitely a success.

Our guests were two attorneys I am friends with (and who are friends with each other), their wives plus a guest of one couple who was visiting from Mexico (where that couple spends most of their time).

For the pre-dinner drink accompaniments, I wanted to break away from the usual nuts, olives and cheese that we frequently serve. So I had three kinds of nifty crackers, some roasted peppers marinated in a little garlic and anchovy paste, and a home made pickle cured in some Indian flavorings and some fresh turmeric root (first time I ever saw that in a store!)

Then we went on the sit down meal with a mini-tapas plate of a squash tortilla, some chorizo type sausage and cured ham.

Next was a cold cream of portabello mushroom soup. This was an adaptation of the soup I had a couple of weeks ago at L'Auberge du Chez Os. It's basically a mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery sweated with mushrooms and bay leaf. You add chicken stock and cook. At the end add a dash of dry Madeira. Then blend. My variation was to next strain out all the solids, cool and add heavy cream. Came out great.

The main course was chicken braised with bacon - I wanted the strong flavor so the chicken would stand up to a red wine. I added a brown roux when finishing the sauce for the same reason. It was accompanied by some broccolini sauteed with garlic.

A cheese course is mandatory in my opinion for any truly civilized dinner. To my guests credit they just about polished off the cheese!

Dessert was fresh peaches, with a toasted baton of home made banana bread and vanilla ice cream.

It was hard to keep track of all the wines but we started with a Tavel (rose from Southern France), went on to a Beaujolais, a Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, two Chateauneuf du Papes, and finished off with Sauternes.


My Squash Tortilla
I'm getting really good at these Spanish style omlets

The Cucumbers, the Turmeric root and the ground spices for the pickles

My roux bubbling away

Sauce for the Tortilla
Just some tomatoes cooked down fast with a little saffron and I added fresh basil at serving

The mini-tapas plate

The Chicken
I had cooked some small potatoes with the chicken
After reheating the chicken and the potatoes, I put them under the broiler for a bit to give them a little browning. If you click on the picture you can see the little bits of crispy bacon used to garnish.

Sorry, no dessert photo - by that time I was lucky to be functioning

Friday, August 1, 2008

First Flight F@#k Up Of The Summer

Yes, I made it until officially August before hitting the air travel snake eyes (we can't officially call the problem coming home from the operation 'summer' since it was in May).

My 10:30 flight from Chicago to Albuquerque was canceled minutes before boarding was scheduled - no explanation, no humans saying anything, just posted on the board canceled.

Because of my illustrious status on United Airlines (masochist first class), I was able to get a flight today - most people I heard in line were looking at something tomorrow. It just means I have to fly from Chicago to Washington DC to Albuquerque - a tad out of the way but at least I will be home (hopefully) before 8 PM tonight...And I'm on First Class...sohju or not last night I will be drinking.