Sunday, October 30, 2011

We is the Rocky Balboa of the Costume Party

The we is Wife and I.

We were invited by our lawyer friends V and J to their annual Halloween shindig. Evidently this is a very big deal at their house. Their house (which is not small) is all duded up with the stuff of the season (I can only imagine how much time that takes them). And it is a costume party for both adults and kids (lots and lots of kids).

Wife and I have participated in quite a few...well a few...well occasional...well exactly NO costume parties in our adult lives! That is no as in none, never, nada, aucun, zip, nil, not a single one.

Of course, this opportunity was the course of great excitement...well no panic would be the better word. First thoughts were "How the hell do we get out of this". But the lawyers have been to our house numerous times and that would be oh so rude. So no it was on to the horror of what heck we could do.

I have to say that it never even occurred to us to just get a mask and fob the whole thing off. This was the perfect example of why Wife and I work so well together. After thinking about a number of classic Halloween costumes, an idea just popped out of my head that we should replicate the painting American Gothic. For a look at the original go here. (By the way it was that same intuitive thinking that led to our second story). However intuition without execution is just daydreaming. And Wife is the executor par excellence. She put some much time into studying the picture, going to yard sales, second hand stores, and regular stores to get everything needed in the detail needed. And the spent hours altering things.

Our end result (before going to party)


Not only that there was a buzz in the room. I kid you not. There will people pointing to us across the room and saying in soft voices "Look their American Gothic". And others telling their friends that they needed to see the "American Gothic" couple. And people telling of their seeing the picture in the museum, and histories of the picture, and one person pointing a minor detail missing in Wife's hair. Totally out of bounds.

It is now official. Wife and I are officially retired from the costume party competition circuit. Retiring on top,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lakeview Coffee Joe Accusations - THE TRUTH UNVEILED!

So there are a number of you who read this blog who also follow Hanging with Joe, the blog of my business partner Lakeview Coffee Joe. But there are many of you who don't know who this person is or the terrible accusations that he consistently makes about me, de-I, a person of great restraint and personal integrity (refer to de-I's Sandia Outfitters).

According to Mr. Joe, every time I come to Chicago for business (in his blog I use a nom de plume of El Supremo de New Mexico), I force him to break out of his austere lifestyle and consume mass quantities of food and alcohol which he documents in detail in posts like this and this.

So what am I to do in the face of such onslaughts! There is only one thing I can do...


From the moment I arrive in Chicago, I put him under my spell. But what is hilarious is he doesn't even realize just how far gone he goes. Look at this example.

Look at the mass quantity of meat, veggies, rice and beans that Joe has ended up ordering.
You see this on his photo of our night a Irzaru, the Costa Rican place we went this week.

But what his picture doesn't show because of my clever spells is that...

Think I'm kidding about LCJ being in a trance?

I submit Exhibit A.

And I will be back in Chicago in December to have more fun with Mr. Joe.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happiness Is ...

... Nobody in the middle seat on your late 3.5 hour flight from Los Angeles to Chicago :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Cooking

We had Cabinet Lady and Dr. Debbie over for dinner on Saturday night. The two ladies and I were supposed to do the epic North Crest Trail hike but they had major furniture moving issues that got in the way. Booo on that. But it gave Wife and I an excuse to cook.

I'm going to have to do some major rebranding of food cred because Wife in the last year has really become my co-conspirator in the kitchen and needs to be recognized for her achievements.

We actually have very complimentary skills as she is great with things like frying, bread, dessert to compliment my grilling, braising, sauteing and overall flavoring skills.

The first course we did on Saturday was a great example of this. It was a Swiss Chard croquetta. It is inspired by a Spanish tapa that is made with many flavorings but nothing like what we did.

I improvised with the interior which was Chard from our garden, parboiled, drained, chopped, and flavored with garlic powder, onion powder, Pimenton, salt and pepper, with some sherry soaked fresh bread crumbs and a little Parmesan cheese as binders. Wife is an expert at shaping and breading with an egg wash and Panko bread crumbs. She did the last minute frying.

In the meantime, I had made a sauce of tomatoes, red bell pepper, onions, garlic, fresh tarragon, and fresh basil. I roasted these for 90 minutes at 30o degrees. The cooked for another 10 minutes on the stove with sherry, pureed and strained.

Here is the finished product.

The Chard was clearly the star. Not overpowered with the sauce a great compliment.

The main course was another great collaboration. Wife wanted grilled meat since we so rarely have that with our low calorie regime. So I wasn't out when our guests were with us, I pre-grilled a set of country ribs (marinated in soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, rice vinegar, white pepper, ginger and garlic) until they were to about 110 degrees internal temperature. Then I finished them later before eating in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes until around 140 degrees internal temperature.

Mrs. de-I in the meantime had made some fried potatoes from scratch. She pre-fried them at a medium temperature until they were cooked through. They were then drained and allowed to completely cool down. Just before serving they were browned in hot oil.

Wife serving the potatoes

Perfectly cooked meat with perfectly fried potatoes
The collaboration of Mr. and Mrs. de-I is just getting started. Book your reservation now!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Interesting Things Are Where You Find Them

For as long as I've traveled on business, I've had a philosophy - wherever you are there are interesting things. Hence, even if I'm in some out of the way place off the beaten track, I find things that are good to see and good to eat. This week I had a short trip to Visalia CA, in the Central Valley south of Fresno. Not exactly San Francisco or Monterey. I was there for work but I was going out for dinner to a place my client had recommended. It wasn't far from my hotel so I walked.

There were beautiful flowers

Murals reminding you that this is the gateway to the Sequoia National Forest

And cool looking buildings

The restaurant itself was a very neat, old school style in ambiance, service, and food - very much up my alley.

A wild mushroom ragout in a cream sauce with puff pastry. Very good.

Sweetbreads with a crust of mustard and breadcrumbs. It was so fresh from the oven and nice and hot.

The wine selections by the glass were among the best I've seen in near forever. First they didn't serve a glass. You got a mini-carafe with 8.5 ounces. Most were around $12. And the wines were unusual and good. I had New Zealand Riesling (you never see any NZ whites other than sauvignon blanc in this country) and a Barbera from Piedmonte Italy. You know how I like Piedmontese wines. Barbera is the everyday wine but this one really kicked butt!
One of the most enjoyable meals I've had for a long time...and in Visalia CA of all places.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn in the Sandias

I'm in training for another big hike next weekend...a trail I've never done to the summit. So I went on one of the harder trails this weekend and was rewarded with scenes of autumn color which sadly my phone camera didn't catch as nicely as my eye did.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting Back Into Road Warrior Mode

After a nice almost two month period of no travel, I'm back in the grove of keeping the air transportation system solvent. Last week was Chicago, Reno, Las Vegas. This coming week I go to Visalia CA (dare you to find that one, ha!). Then the next week I'm in LA and Chicago. And the week after that in Phoenix and Connecticut (seeing the old man). Fortunately there is much paying clients associated with all of this. And truth be told, I was getting itchy not going anywhere over the last 60 days. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Twenty Two Thousan Words

OK I'm way too busy to write that many words but a picture is worth a thousand words...ergo...




Yes, younger brother had me reprising my camera sherpa role.


The temperature dropped around 25 degrees in just minutes

The big ass new bridge that channels traffic away from the dam

A really poor picture with all kinds of foreground distractions of the dam


It was raining all night (yeah according to the news this week we got as much rain as we got the rest of the year)

In the morning there was snow on the mountain

It was the last day of the balloon fiesta. And lo and behold there's a balloon coming right down our street! We never get balloons up here!

Hey how come this picture is sideways?

And away down the street

Footnote: Anyone who is really into photography has to...HAS TO come to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta at least one (I'm talking to you Mrs. Photo St. Paul)


Snow in the mountains - got to go hiking

Hmmmm. What kind of opportunities does winter hiking offer de-I's Sandia Mountain Outfitters

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hail in the Nevada Desert

I was in Las Vegas with my two brothers for our second annual get together. If you remember one brother lives in Hawaii and the other lives in Maryland so Las Vegas is as convenient as it is going to get . Younger brother and I were killing a half a day so we went out to the Red Rock Nature Preserve and had the following experience.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


It was commented on the prior post, "What would the room in Reno for the debt collectors convention look like?" The convention/annual meeting was held in what I would call a low to mid range casino/resort hotel. I really, really, really dislike casinos. The picture below will give you a feel for the ambiance. I never got around to taking a picture of the room. It really wasn't that bad, it just wasn't the same caliber as the Peninsula...of course most places I would be willing to pay for aren't.

I won't bore you with the work details. I will say this. When I'm traveling like this with lots of time in the air and in between actual events, I'm incredibly productive. I get many, many times more work done than when I'm at home or traveling with my partners. And that's because in those situations I am filling my days up with meetings and it is very hard to switch modes from meeting with people to doing writing types of work.

This morning I flew from Reno to Las Vegas where I'm meeting my brothers for our 2nd now annual meeting. I had the most bizarre experience at the Reno Airport. I got there at around 7:15 in the morning. Reno is a reasonably sized airport. There was no one there! I mean no one

No one being dropped off

No one at any of the ticket counters

No one at security
(The TSA folks asked if they could strip search me because they were bored and wanted something to do)

No one on the concourse
I hadn't seen anything like this since the day I traveled two weeks after 9/11. I wondered if there had been some terrorist event and I hadn't been told about it. After about 3/4 of an hour, it started to resemble more of a normal airport.