Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Fabulous Family Pic

On Xmas Day, we moseyed out to Turning Stone Casino with Dad and Irene. Caleb and Silas joined us for a little light gambling and wallet lightening. An enormous Christmas tree in the lobby served as a background for a snapshot that will evermore be their official 2013 Holiday picture:

My children are not right in the head.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Crispy Critter

The hotel manager assured us there would be room for us to park the truck. And there was, if a line was formed along the back of the lot, although a tree service company from out of town had already parked several trucks of their own there.

Later that evening, out of service and relaxing in our room, the fire alarm began to scream and the fire doors in the hallways slammed shut. I made a mental note of what belongings to grab if we needed to scram while Hoss poked about, trying to figure out what was up. But no announcement was made, no commotion was heard, and the alarm silenced after 15 minutes or so. 'Burnt popcorn', we thought, and went back to relaxing.

But the next morning, we saw this, parked just two trucks ahead of ours in the line:

I'm realllllllly glad we parked end to end and not side by side.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Xmas 2013

I love my crazy family. And I love cooking for Christmas Eve - I look forward to it every year. Many thanks to Mel and Ginny and Miranda and Irene and Tracy for your help and support. The night passed too quickly.

I promised recipes but didn't expect it'd take me nearly four days to get them up on the blog. Thanks for your patience! Here are the links:


Deviled Eggs

Pigs in a Blanket

Assorted Brats from Liehs and Steigerwald

Main Course


Spaetzle - I used this and it's MUCH easier than a colander or a squeeze type of spaetzle tool

Warm German Potato Salad - Don't forget the chopped bacon topping like I did (facepalm)

Onion Pie - I modified the recipe to make individual pies, but a large family style pie will be easy

Roasted Brussels Sprouts - again, I forgot the bacon


Black Forest Cupcake - I left off the ganache and simply sprinkled with 10x and they were plenty rich

Apple Strudel

Thursday, December 26, 2013


I am evidently a lousy dinner hostess. I had no idea that the butter I serve my guests could be a pale yellow Tannenbaum or turkey in miniature.

In fact, I would have sworn that practicing the art itself beyond the gates of the state fairgrounds violated numerous Federal regulations.

Do they offer a flag for Independence Day? A jack o'lantern for Halloween?

Good grief, I wonder what they come up with for Easter?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Spatzle What??

Yeah, it's third grade humor, but it still made me laugh.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Box 119

We had a bit of mail waiting for us at our UPS box. This hand truck was fully loaded up twice and smaller packages filled a large industrial sized garbage bag, which was hand carried to the car. All of it necessary for the Annual-Since-2005 Xmas Eve party.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Off Road

But not by choice. A few miles north of Binghamton on I-81 today, we saw numerous vehicles in the ditch, in the median, on wreckers, and on each other on both sides of this long, curved hill:

The roadway was quite slippery through this area. I've no idea why they hadn't salted adequately; usually NY state stays on top of wintery roads.

We expected to see more spin-outs, and we did, but none with quite as many participants as this one.

*sigh* Welcome back to snow country.

Monday, December 16, 2013

This Tree:

makes me smile.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Allentown Lights

It snowed in Allentown last night!
Allentown is the first neighborhood north of the Downtown Buffalo core. It borders the downtown theater and entertainment district. The neighborhood is generally centered around Allen Street and Elmwood Avenue.
Allentown is known for its community of artists, for its embrace of bohemian, hipster and gay culture, and for the civic commitment of residents to the historic and aesthetic sensibilities of the neighborhood. Allentown is one of Buffalo's premier areas for nightlife, dining, and antique shopping.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


My son has added a new label to his blog entitled "Engrish", and I'm inspired to do the same. Although there are many types of Engrish (you can spend hours here), I particularly like the odd and clever, oddly clever, and plain damn funny Engrish produced by Asian restaurateurs:

Houston, TX

Lumberton, NC

Manning, SC

Montgomery, AL

Tifton, GA

Edison, NJ

Not sure - NC, perhaps

North Cicero, NY

I lost a phone a couple of years ago, and with it, a pic of my all-time favorite Engrish restaurant name. I haven't been back there since to re-take it. So I'll break the rules just this once and post a pic that I personally didn't take, because, well, it's just that good:

Frankfort, IN

 Yes, the "Everything OK" Chinese Restaurant. How can you not want to eat there? They've got a Facebook page if you want to see more pics and read about them. And if I ever get back there again, I'll even write a review of the place.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gotta Love Texas

Since putting the Paisan cat on a grain-free diet, I find myself in an upscale pet food store every couple of weeks parting with two or three Benjamins. Although I still haven't identified which foods, if any, are contributing to her asthma, this new diet has certain benefits that are well worth the increased cost. She now hardly sheds at all - a definite plus in a small living space. Another small space advantage is the dramatically reduced litter box odor. Well, it's not exactly the litter box that used to smell; I scoop that at least once and sometimes twice a day. It's the, uh, moment of deposit, let's say, that used to drive us to open windows. The poor cat - all this time, it was just cheap food to blame.

 So on Friday, I went to the local Pet Smart, picked up another case of food, then got in line to check out. In front of me was a woman somewhere in the neighborhood of 70, petite, stylishly dressed, perfectly coiffed. In one hand was the end of a leash attached to a poodle, a large designer handbag over her arm. She swiped her credit card and entered her pin, only to be asked for her Driver's License. Just a random check the computer spits out now and then, the cashier explained. The woman dutifully began digging through her handbag. At last, she pulled a card from her wallet and handed it to the cashier.

The cashier handed the card back. "No, I'm sorry, ma'am. I need your Driver's License."

The woman took the card, peered at it, and cool as a cucumber said "Oh! I gave you my Concealed Carry."

Monday, December 9, 2013

It Can Board ... ?

This slogan will catch on, I'm sure of it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lucked Out

Mother Nature smiled on Texarkana.

The dire weather warnings were a total bust. We saw a brief spit of snow, but no freezing rain, no ice, no sleet - a relief to retail stores in the area, most residents, and the scores of electricity crews sent here in preparation for potential power outages. These fellas showed up at our hotel late Friday afternoon and managed to park all of their equipment in the kinda small main lot:

We encountered several large groups of them as we ran errands, forming lines at gas stations, driving in convoys through town on I-30, gathering in parking lots, and parked in long lines at the edge of frontage roads. I wondered how many of them had been called in to clean up after Katrina. No doubt most have fascinating stories to tell.

When Saturday morning dawned cold but sunny, the crews packed up for home. Luckily, they won't have stories of a massive ice storm in Texarkana.   

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Twice as Nice

That's Texarkana's hometown slogan:

 Straddles the Arkansas - Texas state line, get it?

Anyway, we're here to register as a business and change the truck paperwork to Texas. The weather may not let that happen tomorrow, though. Have you seen the weather forecast for this area?

Up to 1/2" of ice. 

We went to dinner at Outback this evening and the bar was populated with young, loud studs sent here with a cherry picker from Baton Rouge. The hotel parking lots are home to dozens of equipment trucks tonight.

A power outage will make paperpushers hard to find tomorrow.

The good news is, if the La Quinta where we're staying loses power, we've got a truck outside with everything we need for a comfortable weekend off.

Hmm. I wonder what the Waffle House Index is for this storm?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Just a Subtle Warning

 Arguably the busiest patch of asphalt in Laredo, the entrance/exit to the TA takes a lot of punishment. When a pothole the size of a Fiat and nearly knee-deep opened up, someone filled a 5 gallon bucket with gravel and attached a hand lettered sign that read "BIG FUCKING HOLE".

So succinct and utterly beautiful.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Bad Day


Dry roads. Light traffic. Surface road speed limit.
Landing upside down sucks enough without it happening on a perfect weather day.

I have no idea how this single vehicle accident happened or if anyone was hurt - I hope not - but the driver undoubtedly had a really lousy day.

After encountering this, the extra long line at the truck wash didn't seem like such a big deal.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Multi-Lingual Me

 I'm pretty sure this sign says "Welcome Cats".


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Peeled What??

Knuckles. Peeled knuckles.

Wait, my knees just got weak. Need a minute here.

Yup, peeled knuckles. And what's worse is, they look pretty darned tasty:

Evidently, they can be cut into strips and stir-fried to near perfection. But I've shopped for groceries extensively on the border, where these were found, and there is a dearth - indeed, a world-class drought - of fresh Asian vegetables suitable for stir-fry there.

They must star in a Mexican dish of some sort. I'll knuckle down and get us an answer.

See what I did there?

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Feast

Clockwise: homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, butternut squash, mashed taters, deep fried turkey breast.

Followed by pumpkin pie and real whipped cream, of course. No pic, sorry.

Not a bad meal for being prepared and served in a truck. The turkey and mashed taters were precooked (the taters cause it's hard to screw them up), but everything else was cooked up in the truck. All that was missing were my made from scratch, world famous mile-high dinner rolls - but maybe next year, when I have a convection oven.

This was my first year making my own cranberry sauce. I've always been a jellied sauce fan and the canned stuff was just fine for me. But Hoss talked me into giving it a shot, and it turned out fabulously. Super easy, super tasty, never going back to the can.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

3 pounds fresh cranberries
3 1/2 cups sugar or Splenda
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced *
3 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt

Wash the berries and pick out the ones that are soft or wrinkled. Combine all ingredients in a pot, stir well, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the berries have popped and the sauce has begun to thicken, about 15 minutes. Don't overcook. Cool covered at room temp, then refridgerate. Makes 2 quarts plus.

 * Surprisingly, the japs don't add heat at all, just a wonderful jalapeno flavor. If you want spicy sauce, add cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes after cooling.

Not everyone got to be with loved ones yesterday, and many did without turkey and gravy. But we hope that everyone has plenty in their lives to be thankful for. We sure are.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Give Thanks

We've all got 'em. Some we love deeply but they seem to have everything; for others, we can't conjure up a clue. Instead of another fruitcake or subscription to TV Guide this Christmas, why not give something that will change a life?

Give Thanks:  Wounded Warrior Project 

In the early 70s, I wore a POW bracelet (Capt. Frederic R. Flom, USAF). Although my guy came home intact and alive, donating to Wounded Warriors feels much better than wearing that bracelet did.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Waffle House

About two years ago, I came across the Waffle House restaurant locator app. I burst out laughing, showed it to Hoss, then spluttered "What we need is an app that will locate a corner without a Waffle House!"

And that wasn't much of an exaggeration. Every town in the south has at least one. On occasion, we run into two of them literally across the intersection from each other. And no matter the time of day, both will seemingly be half full.

Customers in suits stop by in the morning for a go cup of coffee and a take-out breakfast. In the booths and on counter chairs sit construction workers, moms and small kids, cowboys, grandmas with shopping bags, delivery drivers, and virtually anyone else in need of a fresh, hot breakfast.

The kitchen is open; the food is prepared in plain sight. When it's standing room only, as it is every weekend morning, the cooks perform a perfectly synchronized ballet. As each order is called out by a waitress, one cook removes the requested breakfast meat from the fridge and puts it to sizzle on the grill; another next to him/her cracks eggs and starts their preparation; yet another handles the hashbrowns and grilled biscuits; while another takes care of waffles and toast. It runs like a perfectly tuned machine and is entertaining as hell to watch.


The hashbrowns are famously offered scattered, smothered, covered, and at least six other ways with equally cryptic titles that correlate to hashbrowns with onions, cheese, chili, diced ham, jalapenos, tomatoes, mushrooms, and gravy. And ordering them "All the Way" results in a plate of breakfasty flavor heaven, a southern version of our fretta. 

My favorite is Cheesy Eggs, a plate of eggs scrambled with cheddar cheese, 3 strips of bacon cured with an abundance of old-fashioned piggy flavor, hashbrowns scattered-smothered-covered, and a grilled biscuit. Goooooood stuff.

Another reason Waffle House is so popular, I think, is the wait staff. They often call their customers by name and know exactly what they'll want to eat. They're friendly - at least half of them will call out "Hello!" when a customer walks in the door - they're quick to refill your coffee, and they're hard-working and happy. We recently met two young ladies at a Waffle House in the Dayton area, Meghan and Jade, and they're continuing the tradition of friendly, helpful, smiling service:

Sorry it took so long to get this posted, girls - I just had too much to get done and couldn't get to it. Hope you hung in there with me!

Quite a few of the staff was wearing a T-shirt we'd never seen before. Thanks to Meghan for modeling it for us all:
Click to see a larger version
Waffle House is so deeply ingrained in Southern culture that it regularly appears in music, television, print, and movies ... and not always in a positive light - something they actually embrace (if you haven't clicked on the above pic to read the T-shirt, do so now). In Tin Cup, Waffle House was called "the low-rent roadside cafe featuring waffles". Not very flattering.

Therefore, you're probably going to be quite surprised to discover that Waffle House is considered by FEMA to be one of the top four corporations for disaster response. In anticipation of a natural disaster, Waffle House moves generators, fuel, food, and ice ahead of the event, ensuring the restaurant can remain open and continue to serve fresh, hot food and coffee. They are so successful at this, in fact, that FEMA uses their example as a measure of responsiveness they refer to as the Waffle House Index.

Although we still frequent Cracker Barrel now and then, Waffle House will always hold a special appeal for us. 

As Roy said in the movie, "I'm a Waffle House guy. Got to stay in touch with that."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tucker Combo

There's so much wrong with this little condiment stand advertisement that I had to take a pic. I think it's supposed to be a "Trucker Combo" - it was, after all, offered at a truckstop. I'm so puzzled over the capricious, haphazard use of capitals that I can't begin to ponder the odd combination of numerals and words in the weight description.

Onion pedals. Priceless.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Special Delivery

We delivered to a Kitchenaid facility last week in Ohio, where I parked behind what was obviously a very special delivery:

A single mixer, on a single pallet, in a 53 foot trailer. And it was unloaded by hand. The driver didn't even bump the dock.

So whose mixer was that? Michelle Obama's? Some celeb chef on Food Network? Or does it belong to someone who lives so far out in the boonies that it was the only mixer slated for return for a thousand miles?

I've always wanted a Kitchenaid, but could never justify the cost.

I've got to wonder how much Kitchenaid spent to ship this mixer back to them for repair under warranty?