Saturday, March 31

Artichoke Heaven

Here’s how I make artichokes. We eat a ton of artichokes this time of year. We love ‘em. High in fiber, rich in antioxidants. And they taste amazing.

First, apologies for some of the photos. I didn’t want to use flash and it was getting late in the day.

Put one of those steamer thingies in a pot and add water, over the bottom of the steamer. A little too much water is better than having it go dry—that’s not pretty. Add a generous amount of salt, and put it on the stove over medium-high heat.

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Meanwhile, prep the artichokes. Holding onto the stem, snip the tips of the leaves.

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Then cut off the top and the stem.

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Pop ‘em in the pot and put on the lid. You put the salt in, didn’t you? Good.

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While they are cooking, let’s make some dipping sauce. I start with mayonnaise, then add a little olive oil to loosen it up—mine looks funny because, with the climate I live in, I keep it in the fridge.  I’m using lemon and garlic today.

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Along the way I decided I was in the mood for a spicy, chipotle flavor. Use any herbs or spices you like. Taste as you go. Make it your own.

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At about 15 minutes flip the artichokes so the leaves don’t dry out. Put the lid back on.

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After 30 minutes, I pulled out a leaf to test. Still a little underdone. You could cook ‘em 10 minutes more, or you could quit now and finish ‘em later in the microwave…or….you could finish ‘em on the grill.

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Before I finish them, I cut them in half and remove the choke. I use a spoon. It works the best. When they’re cooked, the choke lifts right out.

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I like to drizzle them with olive oil and put them on the barbie. If you’ve got wood chips, even better. The grilling finishes the cooking, adds a little smokiness, and caramelizes them. About ten minutes.

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All done.

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Yeah, they’re labor-intensive. But they’re so good, I don’t mind. Not one bit.

Surprise Party

 

We went to an old (engineered) western mining town to celebrate a birthday today. DSCF0015

It sits right on top of the San Andreas fault. I took the mini camera today and for the life of me I can’t see what’s in the display screen, so every shot is a crap shoot, and I didn’t get any good shots of the up-thrust mountains to show you the fault line. Oh well.

We rode these red 4-wheelers out to the ranch for the party.DSCF0019

We are here to celebrate Carol’s birthday. That’s Carol in the middle, her daughter Jeanette on the right, J on the left.DSCF0017-001

Can you believe she is 75? This is what 75 can and should look like, folks! This lady rode a horse for the first time this year. You go, girl! My hero!DSCF0027

Happy Birthday, Cousin Carol! And many more…

Friday, March 30

Toys

I needed a camera like a moose needs a hat rack, but when J achieved a milestone at work—he’s retired, but does consulting—they sent us some Omaha Steaks (crappy, but the corporate office is in Omaha) and a booklet from which we could order a gift. Well, we kept passing the book back and forth because there was nothing of interest we didn’t already have, and I wasn’t about to usurp HIS gift. Finally he said, “Why don’t you get this little point ‘n shoot to carry in your purse?” So I did.
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It’s a tiny little thing, smaller than my smart phone. Gosh, I could be a spy! Remember those teeny spy cameras in the movies in the 50s and 60s? That silver golf ball is to show scale--kinda funny, isn’t it? I got a sleeve of ‘em at a tournament. Door prize or something. They’re okay, but weird.

The camera takes decent pictures. I stepped outside to snap something colorful—this is SOOC*.
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Hey, I can take a photo of my “real” camera! It’s big. And heavy. The little camera will come in handy. It will be a lot of fun at parties and such, where the Canon is more liability than asset. This photo I tweaked a little (crop, lighting). See how different the ball looks. They were both taken with flash.
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Fun, fun, fun. It’s how I roll. That’s all the news.

*Straight Out Of Camera (un-messed-with)

Wednesday, March 28

Headache Hangover

No, not Hangover Headache—Headache Hangover. I get debilitating migraines and the day after the killer migraine has taken me down like a tornado, I have a headache left over from the headache…like my head is sore from the headache. But I digress. Bring on the caffeine.

I finished the table runner. Here are pics:

When we have dinner for four, we sit two-abreast across from each other, so the runner will fill the dead ends. I don’t have a proper table cloth. Not that I don’t like them, I do, but I never bought those pad things for the table. Besides, I like the casual look of placemats.

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I made it because we needed a splash of pizzazz in the room. The chandelier-replacement quest is still on but we have found some we like.

The underside. I hadn’t planned on turning it over, but I have round rattan placemats that will look great with this side.

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In other news, we have been planning a little travel. We have spent six months at home, and soon we will be heading out to see the world again. As is our M-O, we have an aggressive travel schedule ahead. To have successful journeys, there is a lot of work to be done in advance—planning, researching, booking excursions, it takes a whole lot of time. And focus.

In June we are going to Alaska, in September we go around the Iberian Peninsula from London to Barcelona, and in November-December we’ll go from Sydney to Singapore to Hong Kong. About 60 days at sea total in addition to the pre- and post-cruise fun. My son and grands come in July, and in August we’ll live at the coast in the motorhome.

Like I’ve said before, when you get to a certain age, you have to make hay before the sun shines! Or something like that. I can’t remember…

I have 60 days before the first trip so I’ve been thinking of what to make—I do need to make a couple little “gifties,” but I want/need to make some art. As soon as my brain returns I’ll search for the muse and figure it out.

Next week I’ll show you some ways to “do” an artichoke.

Saturday, March 24

Table Runner Still a WIP

Although I did finish piecing it. In the picture it looks like it has a border or two, but that’s the batting and backing. It will have no borders. I think I’ll bind it in black.
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I am quilting it with a freehand tossed leaf/vine quilt pattern. I’m using a very bright chartreuse color thread. No reason, I just liked it and it looks good on both light and dark background.
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In other news, IT’S ARTICHOKE SEASON!! Finally!
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I wanted to show you this artichoke for a reason: It’s a frosted artichoke. Having lived in artichoke country for years, I know a thing or two about chokes, and frosted artichokes are best. Forget those smooth pointy ones and the hybrids with no prickers on the leaves. This is what you want. The reason I mention it is I saw some people at the store say these were bad and I didn’t want YOU to pass up the best artichokes of the season. Choose the ones with the fattest stems and you will be a happy person.
Here’s my recipe for artichoke dip:
1/3 cup Best Foods (Hellman’s) Mayonnaise
1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp dried oregano, crushed
salt and pepper
This will make enough dip for two people/two artichokes.
You can vary the dip by adding fresh lemon and garlic instead of the vinegar and oregano. Yes, they’re labor-intensive to prepare and eat, but oh, so worth the trouble.

I shot 100 at golf Thursday and I was happy…except for that ONE putt that missed the hole by 1/8 inch I would have had a 99. I found my swing again and I was bombing it down the fairway. Woo Hoo!

Monday, March 19

Reeling’ in the Years

Hey, long time no see!! Been busy!

Here are Cheryl, Ellen, and Moi in my kitchen. We three don’t get together often enough, so when we do, it’s real special.

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At Tijuana Tillie’s, circa 1988. See what a quarter of a century does?

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Incidentally, we will get to see the couple on the right, Marty and Mike, next month. This is them last summer:

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Getting older….but it beats the alternative, eh?

We had Bill and Ellen visit for three days, and Alan and Cheryl came for three days, overlapping by one day so we could all party like it’s 1988.

With Bill and Ellen, we went to the PS Art Museum and we went hiking in Indian Canyons…

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…where I slipped on a rock and fell, about ten minutes into the hike. I bailed out and told Bill and Ellen to continue because I didn’t know how badly I was injured. Turned out it was just a scrape and a bruise. I was dirty, but no damage was done.

We saw a great exhibit at the museum, Backyard Oasis, which was all about swimming pool culture of the 50s and 60s.

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When Alan and Cheryl arrived on Friday, everybody had a lot to talk about. We had salmon with Dijon and panko, mango salsa, coconut rice, and Fabulous Spinach Salad. Jim made the salmon. Delicious! The recipe is Ina Garten’s, so you can get it on the web. The mango salsa was my idea.

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After a brunch of muy delicioso build-your-own breakfast burritos, the Fishers checked out and we went golfing with the Longacres. A winter storm blew through the desert and it was cold, windy, and raining. The temperature went from 80s on Friday to 50s on Saturday. The storm left the local mountains white with snow. It was beautiful, but it was cold!

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I was playing really well at Palm Desert CC Saturday and got a 49 on the front nine until the rain forced us to go inside and see if it would subside, which it did.The back nine was not as good. The next day I shot 46 on the back nine at Heritage Palms CC but the front nine was not great.

I bought myself a golf scope. It’s great! You look through the lens, zero in on the item, and a laser bounces back from the item in the crosshairs, telling you how far away it is. Maybe that’s why I played a little better? Who knows—you still have to hit the ball right.

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Now I’m going to sit on the couch and watch American Idol on DVR sans commercials. My favorite this year is Phillip Phillips. I’ll be in the studio this week to finish my table runner.