grocery delivery

When Terry and I lived in Gilroy and were both commuting to Silicon Valley (an hour each way by car in rush hour, longer when I was taking the train) we would take advantage of grocery delivery from Safeway. After a long week it was nice not having to worry about going to the grocery store. As I moved in to more of a telecommuting situation and Terry to a home-based office, we gave that up.

Here in Southern California, Vons and Albertson’s (now part of the same company) have long offered delivery, but neither has a store in the San Jacinto Valley. I have however, seen their truck around here so I guess one of the stores in a neighboring community provides the service.

instacart logoMore recently our regional chain, Stater Bros., has been promoting delivery here in the valley via a company called Instacart. Even Smart & Final has signs saying that they deliver. I’m glad the service is available. I’m sure that there are many people with transportation issues or personal mobility problems that can make good use of the service. For me, my work is home-based and it’s a good thing for me to actually get out of the house. And I like to select my own produce and specify which cuts of meat I want.

Since I’m the one who does the bulk of the cooking I enjoy being in the store making sure I get the right ingredients. The two go together.

chicken thighs with lemon, olives, and artichokes

Dutch ovenWhen my dad asked Terry and me what we wanted for Christmas we told him we wanted a Dutch oven. That’s what he gave us.

Our first foray into the world of Dutch oven cooking was this recipe for chicken thighs with lemon, olives, and artichokes. The recipe serves six, so I scaled it back considerably. I used boneless leg meat rather than bone-in thighs. I simplified a couple of the processes.

It came out well. Very tasty. Terry liked it, but it was a bit too lemony for her. That’s easily adjusted for next time, however.

hard times for newspapers

For those of you who are old enough, perhaps you remember the Judy Collins song from the 1970s, “Hard Times for Lovers,” and the album of the same title with that enticing nude photo of Judy on the album cover.

These days it’s hard times for newspapers.

When I was a youngster I had a paper route. I delivered The Daily Enterprise which was a morning newspaper out of Riverside. The Press was the afternoon newspaper that focused on the city of Riverside. The Daily Enterprise covered the rest of Riverside County. The combined Sunday paper was The Press-Enterprise. The paper did a good job of covering local news and treated its delivery boys (and in those days it was just boys) well. I made decent money and learned how to be responsible: I had to collect from my subscribers and then pay my bill at the end of the month.

Press Enterprise mastheadToday it’s all motor routes and the same guy that delivers The Press-Enterprise (just one paper now) also delivers the Los Angeles Times. The Press-Enterprise is owned by the Southern California News group which also owns newspapers in Pomona, Ontario, and San Bernardino along with the Orange County Register. The coverage area is greatly expanded and local news is correspondingly diminished.

When the Dodgers headed to the World Series the local news on TV showed the front page of the Orange County Register. It was the exact same front page we had in The Press Enterprise.

But that’s the reality of today’s newspaper biz.

Sacred Music Friday: Like Him We Rise

Like Him We Rise by Tom Trenney. The Viking Chorus of St. Olaf College conducted by Mark Stover.

clam chowder

This time of year I enjoy making clam chowder. It’s pretty simple and straightforward. I don’t follow a specific recipe but generally make it pretty much the same way each time.

clam chowder and garlic breadHere’s what I did most recently. I peeled and diced two russet potatoes and put them in the saucepan with water, bringing it to a boil and then turning down the heat for 30 minutes. I drained off the water, added two drained cans of clams and chopped celery, since I had it on hand, and four strips of bacon which I microwaved and crumbled. I added milk to cover and brought up the heat. I threw in basil, oregano, granulated onion and granulated garlic, a bit of medium hot chili powder, and white pepper.

I cooked for another half hour and served with garlic bread. A great dinner for a chilly evening.

Modern Lovers

Modern Lovers coverModern Lovers
Emma Straub
Riverhead Books (May 31, 2016), 366 pages
Kindle edition $7.99, Amazon paperback $11.31

I find “college friends” novels hard to resist so I bought this one. It was actually quite engaging.

Elizabeth, Andrew, Zoe, and Lydia had a band in college, for which Elizabeth wrote many of the songs. Lydia was the face of the band, but met with an untimely death.

When the novel takes place Elizabeth and Andrew are married and living in Brooklyn. Elizabeth is a real estate agent. Andrew is living off of his family’s money. Harry is a high school senior trying to figure out college.

Zoe lives a couple of blocks away and is married to her lover Jane. The two women own a restaurant and have a daughter named Ruby who is a year older than Harry and did not get in to any of the colleges to which she applied. The novel is about the interactions among these people and the crises that they encounter. Lydia is very much present in the book, even though she is long departed.

I think I’ll leave it there. If you enjoy the college buddy ensemble genre this one is well worth reading.

look at the %$#@! ingredient list!

I know better. I really do. Sometimes I just have a brain lapse.

Tropicana LabelI was recently looking for something different for my morning juice. I wanted a change from my standard orange/peach/mango, as much as I enjoy it. I looked at a couple of products and settled on Tropicana Pineapple Mango with Lime. Sounded good. And after all no artificial sweeteners and no artificial flavors is a Good Thing, right?

Why I didn’t look at the ingredients until I got home I have no idea. My only excuse was that the store was really busy and I wanted to get my groceries and get home. I did look at the label when I got home. Are you freaking kidding me? Sugar is the number two ingredient after water? Well, sugar is not an artificial sweetener.

Lesson learned. Next time I’ll look at the %$#@! ingredient list while I’m in the store.

Tropicana Ingredients

chicken piccata

This is a recipe that is very tasty and not a whole lot of work. Ina Garten, however, has a chicken piccata recipe that takes the dish to the next level.

Chicken PiccataYou know me. Salt and pepper are never, ever sufficient seasoning. One time I added Italian seasoning mix to the breadcrumbs Ina specifies. Most recently I added lemon garlic seasoning. It works well both ways. I also added capers to Ina’s sauce. You have to have capers with chicken piccata!

On my most recent venture with this recipe I served it with my own roasted red potatoes. It’s very simple. I clean and dice the potatoes. I line a baking pan with parchment paper and layer the potatoes on it. I spray them with olive oil, and sprinkle with dry parmesan cheese and Greek seasoning. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

The combination of the two makes for an enjoyable Saturday dinner.

Sacred Music Friday: O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright

This work is not in the Episcopal hymnal, but the old Lutheran Book of Worship places it in the Epiphany section. Happy Epiphany tomorrow, as we come to the end of the Christmas season!

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo DaVinci coverLeonardo da Vinci
Walter Isaacson
Simon & Schuster, 624 pages (October 17, 2017)
Kindle edition $16.99, Amazon hardcover $20.32

Walter Isaacson is a superb biographer and chronicler of nonfiction, and his latest book, Leonardo da Vinci is no exception. Not only is it well written and engaging, but it is painstakingly researched. Much of the detail in this biography comes from Leonardo’s notebooks, to which Isaacson was given access. He also uses a variety of other sources, both contemporary or near-contemporary, as well as modern. He makes sure that conflicting scholarly perspectives are given fair attention.

There is a lot to learn about Da Vinci in this book. He has the surname he does because he originally came from the town of Vinci. He was illegitimate and his father never chose to legitimize him, which he could have done. That’s probably a good thing, because Da Vinci’s father was a notary and had he been legitimized Da Vinci would probably have been expected to take up that profession. He was gay, and he had a couple of male companions whom he supported throughout much of his life.

Painting was not his first love. He conceived of a variety of different machines, many of which were designed to assist whichever city-state was his current employer to be more effective in the execution of warfare. Most were fanciful; a few were actually built. One of his first jobs for the autocratic Duke of Milan was as an impresario and designer of court pageants. He missed deadlines and often failed to complete works.

Leonardo was a complex man and Isaacson does justice to that complexity. If you find Da Vinci interesting this book will be well worth your time.