wondering

One of the great things about both Terry and I being able to work from home is that we get to have lunch together frequently. Our rotation is limited, so the staff at most of the places we go knows us well.

Our favorite on Mondays is our local Asian fusion place. Monday because it is hot and sour soup day. The waitress there is a young woman who decided she liked and trusted us. She told us about her impending marriage and honeymoon and her classes at the local community college.

We were surprised when she was gone for a few weeks and happy to see her back. We got no explanation from her other than “I was off for a while.” From a human perspective we worry a little, but it’s not our place to ask and there’s nothing we can do to do to help.

Still, I do hope everything’s OK.


how do you find it?

Natalie, in the video below, complains about how people express surprise that she has not seen a given movie or read a certain book. Natalie is Australian and her friends ask her “How have you not…” read the book or seen the movie.

It occurred to me that such a phrase would not come naturally to any of us who grew up speaking American English. We would ask, “You really haven’t seen that?” Or, closer to the spirit of “How have you not?” we might turn the question into a statement and say, “I can’t believe you haven’t read it.”

It made me think of a conversation I had with a British co-worker in the mid-1990’s. That was obviously before we were ordering things online, so if you wanted something you had to go into a store or perhaps place a phone or mail order. We were talking about a new version of software I had just installed, and he asked me, “How do you find it ?” Uncouth American that I was (am), I responded, “I got mine at Fry’s Electronics.”

What he meant, of course, was, “How do you like it?”

Even between native English speakers meaning isn’t always obvious.

Note: This video may contain mildly offensive language and content to those with certain sensibilities. To those of other sensibilities, some of the attempts at humor may seem lame. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


community is what you make it

I remember my Unitarian minister in Oklahoma City once saying, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.” I always thought that was a good perspective to take. Nonetheless, I think I can safely say that I have two kinds of friends on Facebook: those who discuss political and social matters on Facebook and those who don’t.

In the wake of President Obama’s surprise endorsement of gay marriage last week it did not surprise me that my friends in the latter category were 100% positive and supportive. I’m fully aware, of course, that plenty of people were not happy with that statement.

It reinforces my perspective that your experience on Facebook is exactly what you make it.


and now for something completely different

I very rarely cook with beef. I do a lot of cooking with chicken, I cook fish regularly, and I do some vegetarian cooking. But beef hardly ever. Not that I am opposed to beef. Anyone who knows me well knows that one of my weaknesses is a Double Double from In-n-Out. And if I’m in a rush I will even stoop to driving through McD’s and getting a quarter pounder with cheese.

I do have higher aspirations, and I appreciate and value the ideal of vegetarianism, but, as my blog friend the Boston Pobble once commented on one of my blog posts, “I have said for a couple years now that I am morally, ethically, and emotionally a vegetarian ~ but my taste buds are complete carnivore.” That captures it.

The folks over at the Yahoo! group Pressure Cooker Recipes have no vegetarian pretensions and love their beef and pork. One recipe that gets periodic mention is 3 Envelope Pot Roast, developed by Ray, the list owner. The recipe got considerable mention last week and I thought maybe it was time to try it. It involves one envelope each of Ranch, Italian, and Beef Gravy mix (Yes, I know! Don’t talk to me about the sodium), red wine, and water. Being that yesterday was Mother’s Day and we didn’t want to go out for dinner, given that we were getting tired of chicken, and given that we both had a mother or grandmother who made post roast that we loved when we were growing up, we decided to try it.

So we went to Rocca’s Market on Saturday and got a nice 3-pound roast and potatoes for mashed potatoes.

I made one bonehead mistake and forgot to press Start after entering the time, which  cost us a half hour. Aside from that, the result was great. I thickened the juice for gravy and we had a good, old-fashioned meat and potatoes dinner on the china that belonged to Terry’s Granny. Terry’s initial reaction: “Mmmm! Mmmm! Mercy!”

A fitting Mother’s Day tribute to our mothers and grandmothers.

Thank you, Ray.


Sacred Music Friday: Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Church of the Redeemer, Episcopal Morristown, NJ, USA


then there’s LG

I’ve been writing about appliances the last three days, so I thought I’d round out the week on the subject before going on to loftier topics tomorrow with Sacred Music Friday.

I first noticed LG Electronics on my single trip to Bangalore. It was a small industrial park with buildings bearing the logos of VeriFone (my employer then), Texas Instruments, and LG. It was a few years later when we actually bought an LG appliance.

We had had a Maytag Neptune washer-dryer pair. Neptune was supposed to be the high-end of washers and dryers, but the line turned out to be a mess. There were all kinds of problems with them and ultimately there was a class-action settlement. We ended up buying an LG pair. We got off to a bad start when we couldn’t reverse the dryer door because the screws were put in too tightly. After a lot of back and forth, LG ultimately agreed to replace the dryer, and we’ve been happy with the set ever since.

We were perfectly happy with our KitchenAid dishwasher, but when we did our kitchen remodel the contractor failed to anchor it properly and it ended up not washing dishes well. We replaced it with a Bosch, which was not a great decision. It didn’t have a food grinder and did not do a good job of getting dishes clean. We had a service technician out and he told us that there was nothing wrong with the dish washer – it was the way we were using it. And we were supposed to run hot water before turning it on. Really? Come on! We had to point out to the technician that there were lemon seeds in he sprayer arm. The solution to that was to pull the arm out and clean it out. Right. We ended up replacing it with an LG, and we’ve been very happy with it.

When we had to replace our microwave due to peeling paint, GE offered us a $50 rebate voucher. Our choices were limited, though, because it was a built-in so we had very tight size constraints. We ended up with an LG which does a better job than the GE ever did and has an anodized interior which should mean no peeling.

So, yes, we’ve been happy with LG.


kitchen appliances I haven’t bought

Since I’m discussing kitchen-related matters this week, here’s one more item on that topic.

I love our kitchen and I enjoy using our kitchen appliances. What I find interesting is the appliances I haven’t bought.

I haven’t bought a food processor. I’ve thought about it, but I just don’t really need one. A lot of the food processor functions our VitaMix can handle. And if it’s just a matter of chopping vegetables, I’m happy to pull out the cutting board and a knife and do the work by hand. Though tempted sometimes, I can’t really justify spending the money.

Another thing I haven’t bought is an immersion blender. Again, the VitaMix can handle many of those duties. Still, it’s very tempting to have a tool where I can mix the ingredients while cooking on the stove top. Of course the question I would have there would be: do I get a small, dainty immersion blender, or do I get one of those big, honkin’ industrial kitchen sized ones? Or more likely something in between?

Yes, the immersion blender is tempting. I’m looking as I write this at a 20% off any single item coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond. And there’s that money from the sale of my camera equipment. Hmmm…

Any suggestions on immersion blenders?


new in the kitchen

It’s been a while since we’ve bought a new kitchen appliance just for the pleasure of having and using it. We’ve had to replace our dishwasher and microwave, but those were both a matter of necessity, not an indulgence. In fact the last time I bought a new kitchen appliance for the fun of it was in October 2010 when I bought a digital electric pressure cooker, a great addition that still gets lots of use.

Last week my blog and Facebook friend, the Tahoe Mom, published a blog entry in which she shared a number of events of her week. One was about the new juicer she got. That got my attention and I asked her for more detail. She graciously obliged with an entire blog post on the juicer.

Unlike Tahoe Mom (whose blog, by the way, was responsible for my pressure cooker purchase), I have had a citrus juicer for a very long time. The Cuisinart juicer I’ve been using we’ve had since shortly after we moved into this house, which was 1997. Nor is it the first juicer I’ve owned. But the reality is that I have spent most of that time fighting with it. It would twist beneath me, drip on the counter, and I would have to clean out the pulp half way through when squeezing orange juice. As much as I love fresh-squeezed orange juice, I would groan just a bit when Terry asked for it.

So Tahoe Mom’s discovery looked like just what I needed, and I promptly ordered my Black and Decker Model CJ630 from Amazon.

I’m delighted. It is solid. It doesn’t fight me and twist beneath my hand. It has blades to sweep up the pulp so I can squeeze two glasses of orange juice without stopping to clean it. It has its own container so it doesn’t drip on the counter. And it has a lever so you can specify how much pulp you want. When it comes to lemons, it is not a huge pain to clean out the lemon seeds as it was with the Cuisinart.

I’m pleased. I’ll be squeezing a lot more fresh orange juice on Saturdays, I think.

Quite a deal for $17.99


gee I’m disappointed

Make that: GE, I’m disappointed.

When we did our kitchen remodel in the summer of 2007 we had to make a decision on appliances. We certainly wanted quality, but weren’t necessarily prepared to pay for Wolf or Sub-Zero type quality. We decided to go with high-end GE. We bought a refrigerator (a brand new model), stove top and convection oven, and microwave. Our KitchenAid dish washer was in good shape so we didn’t need to replace it. (Except that our contractor failed to properly anchor it when reinstalling it, so we had to replace it later anyway. But I digress.)

What we thought was quality was not. Earlier this year we noticed the microwave had paint peeling inside. Obviously we had to replace it. Then, two weeks ago, the compressor went out on the fridge and had to be replaced. You can imagine the inconvenience and loss of food involved with that. Fortunately we had a service contract so our cost was limited to that food loss.

The range has been great and I love it. But one out of three isn’t good.

GE, I’m really disappointed.


Sacred Music Friday: The Lord Bless You And Keep You

The Lord Bless You And Keep You, by John Rutter, performed by the choir of Westminster Abbey at the service to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Courtesy of Unapologetically Episcopalian.