Archive for August, 2011

Traffic etiquette refresher course….
August 31, 2011

when you don't see these lights, what do YOU do??

After driving through Mt Washington yesterday, where two traffic lights are still out…I was struck( not literally, though I could have been) by how many people either don’t know, or worse, don’t care what the rules are at traffic lights that are not working. I was rather irate(ok, furious) because rather than take turns, the driver(of an SUV –I’m sure you wanted to know)decided that since the person in front of them was going…they were going too! Really ticked me off.(I have promised myself I will not resort to cursing in this post…) And others are also aghast at driver behavior on the roads post-Irene.

Whoa there....

Leo wrote: ” Back in the day, they used to hang those HUGE STOP signs from the traffic light wires, (for any prolonged outages) so all the idiots that don’t use common sense wouldn’t have a prayer in court if they wrecked!”

From Andrew: “ It has thoroughly disgusted me up here in Havre de Grace and Aberdeen to see people blithely barrel through an intersection with no working traffic lights.…”( you have no monopoly on ill-behaved drivers Andrew)

And from Linda:” Not only are they flying through the intersections without stopping, they are on their cell phones too….so much for that law!”

You get the idea….and I just read where a 15 year old girl was killed this weekend at a collision where the traffic light was out. I’d just like to say, if drivers obeyed the simple rules of the road, that teenager would be alive today. And so for those of you eedjits who DON’T KNOW….LISTEN UP.

When a traffic light is non-operational…you treat that light AS IF THERE WERE STOP SIGNS IN ALL DIRECTIONS.  No rolling through…no barreling through…no thinking, I’m on the main road so all the people feeding in from the side road just have to wait….EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU IS SUPPOSED TO STOP. And then you proceed, as if at a four-way stop…taking turns, in the order at which one arrived at the light. Simple, yes? Safe, yes? One person told me about seeing this work like a ballet in L.A. when the traffic was multi-laned in every direction…so why not here?

So please, at the risk of sounding judgemental…oh wait, I am judging you…all the idiots out there who are running through darkened  traffic lights at everyone’s peril, …learn the rules, or Just.  Stay.  Home.

Hurricane Irene Mop-Up….brownies and bandits!
August 29, 2011

OK, this was my favorite moment of our  hours and hours and hours of storm coverage…Rod Daniels had brought his dog to the office as he didn’t want him to be alone in the storm(so sweet)….so I crept downstairs where Bandit was tied up and brought him up to the newsroom set, where we surprised Rod with a sneak Bandit appearance. We had tons of Facebook comments, and I know everyone else enjoyed it as much as we do. But it was an interesting drive home later that night…..

Tree down...luckily I was able to drive around it...

the branch fell from this very tall Tulip Poplar....

Just came crashing down, though not on my head...

At home I did have a big branch come down in my yard…one from which a long rope swing has hung for many years… both my kids enjoyed the heck out of that swing when they were young….I remember when my daughter was only 2 or so…I was sitting on the swing and she was in my lap facing me.  As we took off on the long arc over the ground, she looked down at me and said in the sweetest tone of voice, “Mama“. Such a lovely memory, which I still have….just no swing.

I know it says white chocolate....but I changed it!

I did get some brownies made before I went in to work….there’s something about the threat of losing your power and your ability to cook that just freaks me out. I….HAD….TO …BAKE….BROWNIES.  Used a mix from Fat Witch in NYC. Their brownies are legendary….if you ever get to  Chelsea, go to the Chelsea market in the old Nabisco factory bolg…the Food Channel is also located there. Grab a box of Fat Witch babies before you leave….just amazing…my favorite is the Caramel Witch with a layer of caramel in the middle..yum. I know the box says white chocolate…which it was….so I added some cocoa powder to the mix, and lots of chunks of dark chocolate…to white chocolate just …..isn’t chocolate!

Last night, my daughter came over for dinner…we made fish tacos…from a recipe I found on Gwyneth Paltrows GOOP website….the sauce is  a bunch of cilantro, onion, garlic, olive oil, cumin and paprika, all pureed together. It’s a wonderful recipe.

And I went to bed early….tired from a very busy week….and happy that I still had power(unlike many of you) and that my basement was dry. And that Irene has come and gone….good riddance. And that the sun is out today!! Still have a lot of raking to do….but that’s ok. Hope all of you fared as well…..

Just waitin’ on Irene…and other random hurricane related thoughts….
August 26, 2011

It's a big one....really, really big...

Well, here we go everyone…here…we…goooooooooooo. As Hurricane Irene approaches this weekend, I’ve done all I can to get ready for this thing, and the extremely possible power outages headed our way.

Prozac refill for Baby Girl, check….I mean, you can see how stressed she is.

Oh B to the a good girl...

Grocery shopping, check. Cans of soup(which I normally never buy), some tuna, cat food(see above), diet tonic water(yes to me the diet tastes as good as regular) for a Hendricks gin and tonic(which will be much deserved, I have a feeling)….

Oh, and batteries for the flashlight...

Bananas and almond butter, check. I also found some almond butter that is crunchy!! How huge is that? And one of my new favorite go-to-can’t-leave-my-desk lunches, is a banana slathered with some almond butter, sprinkled with sea salt. It is seriously delicious, and you feel like you’re eating something naughty, but you’re not. Love it.

let's call it lunch...

Earthquake, check.  Really? You can see in the picture below how fast the newsroom emptied out. I just started putting on makeup, because I knew the building wasn’t gonna fall down(having experienced a worse quake in L.A.), and also knew we would have to be on the air, pronto, which we were. Long afternoon…but satisfying.

Yes, that's a banana on my desk....

I hope all of you stay safe and dry this weekend, and none of you lose power…I know that won’t be the case, of course…but I wish it were. Play nice with the people you’re cooped up with(you know what I mean), don’t throw rocks, go get some ice and batteries….and come home safe…’cause we miss you.

Kim Kopies Katie?
August 22, 2011

Kate waving at Kim....who's taking notes: "How to have the best wedding, ever!"

There was some talk this morning on the telly, about the fact that Kim Kardashian…you know… she’s petite, dark-haired, famous but not for anything in particular(wow, she and Kate have more in common than I thought)….was very much taken by the royal wedding earlier this year between Prince William and Kate Middleton. And she wanted hers to be just as fine….and that’s a tall order.

"I want to be just like Kate....she would so love this dress...."

And in the picture above, you can see just how much Kate and Kim really have in common in their style of dress….Kate also adores exposing her ample bosum…oh wait, no, she doesn’t.

Kim and new hubby he a bit tall, or is it just me?

Still, they did both have big, very expensive weddings. Extravagant really. THough Kim outdid Kate in the wedding gown department. Kim wore three…yes, three wedding gowns…(one are the ceremony, 2 more at the reception)all designed by Vera Wang. I could kinda see sharing the glow of the Kardashian wedding with 3 different designers, but having one designer make you three gowns seems….grandiose? Obsessively opulent?

E got to cover the wedding....obvie...quite a production...

The wedding was catered by celeb chef Wolfgang Puck…..and I would love, love, love to know what the cost of the food was. Or the flowers. Or the gown. Because in a production(and it was a production) like this….many things change hands….influence, media coverage, but how much cash ? And Kim and her Mom Kris are cagey at that game….Wolfgang does the food, but because of all the exposure he will get…is it done at cost? Or less?

Royal wedding guests, grabbing for canapes...cartoon from NY Times.

For Kate and Wills…the NY Times said of their wedding reception consisted of… “modest spread of Champagne, wedding cake and two-bite appetizers, or canapes.” And it was prepared by the staff chef, not a celebrity chef.

I would almost put money on Will and Kate still being a couple in a decade…if I were a betting woman. But I’d be cautious about placing that same wager on Kim and Kris being around in, oh,  two years? One never knows, does one?

Your Groupon has expired….the non-redeeming Grouponer
August 19, 2011

What?? All these gone down the drain??

Ah, the lovely promise of Groupon. I blogged about it in this very space, when it was much newer….and perhaps merchants were clamoring to be on their site(though for some businesses, it must be said, that Groupon almost buried them…every time another customer walked thru the door, they lost money). But I am on the other side of the equation…they got money from me, for which they gave absolutely nothing…the non-redeeming Grouponer. Yeah.

And my family has given me a justifiably hard time about this, so much so that I have cut waaaay back on my Groupon buys. And Social Living. And Gilt City…..and so on. Here are the Groupons I let expire without using(in spite of my best intentions)

A cake at Sugarbaker’s which I never got(bought two and used one, so basically I paid full price for the cake).

Tickets to the movie Lincoln Lawyer which we never saw(ended up paying an additional $5.99 to see it on demand to add insult to injury).

Two Groupons to Blue Agave we never used(couldn’t I have stopped by for margaritas and some guacamole?)

One Groupon to Soup’s on in Hampden(though sadly, it went under before it expired, so I’m not sure this officially counts).

One Groupon to Restaurant Sabor(which also sadly went under before I could get out there-this is refunded to my account).

Oh, and in Charleston… I had a Groupon for a walking tour we never took(left it at the VRBO house in hopes someone might use it), and a Groupon for drinks at Squeeze bar there, billed as Charleston’s most narrow bar which we never drank(gave them to reporter Sheldon Dutes who travels back there occasionally).

So there. My guilty Groupon secret is out.

these are in my wallet...haunting me..."I see dollar bills..."

I have yet to add up the money lost and the money gained…I figure I’d still be ahead, but I’m not so sure. And it has introduced me to some places that I would never have tried otherwise(Tortilleria Sinaloa comes to mind)….but I’ve become more cautious about clicking buy. Much more. Though just the other day(ok, a lousy day of backsliding) I succumbed to the potential charms of The Nora Cafe and Bakery in Ellicott City. I have 6 months to get there….and I hope I do. One to Cafe Hon is expiring August 25th…the clock is ticking…ticking.

Maybe I’ll go to the Hon for breakfast tomorrow morning! After all, tomorrow is another day(didn’t someone say that?), and it’s the weekend….I hope yours is lovely, that you find a new little treasure or remember a Groupon that needs using. Don’t throw rocks, and come home safe…’cause we miss you.

Salty Caramel Ice Cream, Stone paths, and Cuban Black Beans…did I miss anything?
August 17, 2011

Two best ice creams in the world??? I vote yes...

Some odds and ends today…and we’ll start with my favorite ice cream. Keep in mind, ice cream isn’t something I would normally seek out…it’s just not my go-to sweet. Except for these two. Salty Caramel. Key Lime Pie.

Which is it? Taharka or Uncle Wiggly's?

And I was a little worried, when not too long ago I saw the sign for the Taharka Brothers ice  cream shop in Mt. Washington(by Whole Foods), now had a big sign reading Uncle Wiggly’s Ice Cream. Would my fave flavs disappear??

Scooping out a couple of quarts....hard work...

I paid them a visit, and asked what the scoop was. OK, I didn’t really say that….but I wish I had. The guy behind the counter said that Uncle Wiggly’s is now running the “business side” of the enterprise, but the Taharka Brothers are still making their much beloved ice cream.  And while the Berger’s Cookie Milkshake on the menu does seem like it would be killer…the Key Lime Pie with chunks of graham cracker crust and that tart lime flavor, and the sweet/salty business of the Salty Caramelto die for.

Now that I look closer, they don't look like black beans, do they?

Made some what I thought were going to be Cuban Black Beans this past weekend…only while the beans looked black(from Farmer’s market)…once they started cooking…they turned into some kind of pedestrian brown pea.They  were still good….with red and yellow peppers, onions, garlic, smoke paprika and cumin…but they didn’t have that distinctive black bean flavor. A minor disappointment, not NEARLY as good as the fabulous black beans at Havana Road restaurant in Towson.

Water the grass and it will come...

All the rain has been great for grass seed around a new stone path at my house….it used to be a pebble path that was pretty cute but 1. hard to walk on with bare feet, and 2. grass ran riot…got kinda messy looking. My hubby got sick of looking at it, dug up all the pebbles, and replaced them with random sized slabs of stone. It was, to put it mildly, a labor intensive effort….but I love the way it turned out. This morning the grass was even greener(and not on the other side of the fence) than this picture shows( will add another one later).

I’ll take that, thanks….a rude horse goes to finishing school….
August 15, 2011

Give me that bran muffin. I said GIVE IT TO ME!!!!

Some of you probably know about the wild horses on Assateague Island here in Maryland…they’re quite a tourist attraction, and have been ever since the ever popular  children’s book, Misty of Chincoteague” was published in 1947…..but Fabio(the handsome fellow in the pic above) is no namby-pamby Misty. In fact, Fabio had to be removed from Assateague Island for “food aggression“(I think I’ve seen Fabio at a few buffets, come to think of it). Yeah, if you weren’t prepared to give up that cookie…he’d almost mug you for it. Most wild horses you can shoo away…not so Fabio…a stallion’s stallion. Since Fabio weighs hundreds and hundreds of pounds, that could turn from being an awkward social situation to a dangerous one. So……

The Humane Society of the United States( which also helps Assateague with a birth control program for the wild horses) comes to the rescue. Off Fabio goes to reform school? Finishing School? Re-training like Mao used to hand out? Keep in mind this is NOT Fabio’s fault…but the product of well-meaning, clueless tourists feeding the cute little horsies…..(which is by the way, against the rules). So Fabio was taken to the Humane Society’s  Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, where he was gelded(all the better to behave) and is being gently taught ummm, better people skills. Director of the center Anne  Rathbun-Favre says,  “He’s highly food-motivated, so cookies are used to socialize him initially, as was scratching.”  Sounds like a lot of people I know.

Got a cookie? Fabio gets to know his trainer....

So Fabio may be adopted one day, and one of his first tests is to be put in with the rest of the herd…and see if he can act like a good boy, and not too “stallion like“.

I know I'm beautiful...don't hate me for it....

I hope he can find a new home…and if that doesn’t work out, he will stay at the ranch, and be the star he was born to be. Good luck Fabio!  Read more of Fabio’s story here….

Seafood, barbecue….it all says a Maryland weekend….
August 12, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama....

I was reading the newspaper this morning(yes, the paper kind)…and noticed that the Charlie Daniels band is playing in Havre de Grace tonight….at 8 PM!! Not that I will actually get there…that might be a little ambitious when you’re not off until 6:30….but that is just part of the festivities. This weekend is their big Havre de Grace Seafood Festival-here. It’s free, lots of crab cakes, crab fritters, crab ice cream(not really) from vendors, and artisans, entertainment…..sounds nice. They expect about 25,000 people(you could be one of them).

Get yer 'cue right here....

Or, the Bel Air Barbecue Bash 2011 sounds promising…there are four categories for the contestants…chicken, pork ribs, pork brisket, and beef brisket(yum)…..and one group will walk away with the title of pitmaster. No, you can’t eat the same barbecue submitted to the judges…but some  of them have commercial stands as well, where you’ll have your pick of chicken or pork or beef. And there’s a farmer’s market in Bel Air Saturday morning too. Nice.

Anything better on the weekend than ribs?

Or maybe we’ll do our own ribs this weekend….though something sad happened this morning(trash day). Some ribs that had been leftover from a cookout(I think 2 weeks ago) I discovered this week in an unlikely section of the refrigerator. That means they were growing some “foreign matter” on them that you would not want to ingest. But what a waste. Seriously , it made me sad. I hate wasting food.

But have a lovely weekend all….do something nice for yourself, go for a long walk, visit a barbecue bash, and don’t throw rocks…or rib bones. And come home safe, ’cause we miss you.

Tip your hat to the Tiffin Box…..
August 11, 2011

Lots of us take our lunch to work every day…it saves money, definitely saves on calories(home cooking is almost always lower cal than restaurant food), and the recession-wise work through lunch…if you know what I mean. Enter the Indian Tiffin box.

Three layer stainless steel tiffin box.....

Tiffin is lunch. The word originated in British occupied India ….and in India still… the Tiffin box is a common you can see. …I’ve read about the Tiffin box is several books that are set in India recently…The Hundred Foot Journey describes the ingenious system: “These tiffin boxes–over two million battered tin cans with a lid…smelling of daal and gingery cabbage and black pepper rice and sent on by loyal wives…are sorted, stacked into trundle carts, and delivered with utmost precision to each insurance clerk and bank teller throughout Bombay.” And they are delivered by thousands of tiffin-wallahs….who almost never lose or misdeliver one. (Maybe the airlines could learn a thing or two from the tiffin-wallahs.)

Hard at work....the tiffin-wallahs...

But the tiffin box is making a modern resurgence here in the U.S. as most of us don’t go out for two-hour restaurant lunches anymore(did I ever??)…and while I often head to the salad bar, I’m at the mercy of the person who puts it together that day. No chick peas? No edamame? No spinach leaves…only romaine? Now, I can get all my fave ingredients and put it all together in the tiffin, with my favorite oil and vinegar dressing in the dear little tiny container.

I may get the two layer one.....found it on Amazon...

You can find all sorts and variations of the  tiffin online…one of the best deals was the one above, with only two layers at Amazon-here…$25…free shipping. Not bad for something that will last forever. And while an efficient tiffin-wallah(or dabba-wallah as they’re also known) won’t deliver it to me, and nor will it smell spicy…. I’ll have exactly what I want for lunch. No waste, no trash, reuseable. Love it.

It’s Smokin’ !! The low down on smoking the salmon….
August 8, 2011

Baby Girl is quite enthused about this project....maybe too much?

I love, love, love smoked salmon….would eat it every day if I could…but that stuff is expensive! So….ever think of smoking your own? That’s what we did this weekend… and it turned out better than I dreamed.

you can ditch the greenery if you like.... ...

But the results were delicious….You start with a brine….which means simply a salt/sugar based liquid in which the fish will cure for anywhere from a few to quite a few hours…in ours we just used a quarter cup salt(make sure it has no anti-caking chemicals-many salts do) and a quarter cup brown sugar. And the fish brined for a few hours in the fridge. Then you air dry the fish(this was when Baby got into the whole process), until it gets a weird film on it. The pellicle is supposed to be white,  but ours never was. However, it was sticky to the touch  as it’s supposed to be, before it goes into the smoker for a few hours. The result was really moist, very smokey…and fabulous

Goya cracker, salmon cream cheese, and smoked salmon...

And I found a wonderful new bakery this weekend(new to me anyway)…my neighbor had given us some cupcakes a few weeks ago, as a thank you for helping do a little makeover on their garden.

Their "Harvest' cookie..oatmeal, fruit, nuts...totallty delish...

I had to know where they came from…and the answer was Touche Touchet, in Howard County…Columbia.  I found my way there Saturday…and bought some sweet treats…including some harvest cookies, and their amazing cupcakes.

Key Lime Pucker...with a tart lime curd filling...

The Key Lime Pucker is maybe my fave…

Classic combo...chocolate and peanut butter....

…or the Chocolate Peanut Butter? They were a lovely end to the weekend, when you just need a little treat, you know?