Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Posts from the Road - Secrets from a Closet

The batphone rang in the wee hours, so while I'm busy, I'll have a few short posts over the next couple of days. . .

When I decided to downsize it felt great to get rid of old furniture, beat up lamps and knick knacks I didn't need. But getting the closests organized in a smaller home took a litle more work. Over the Thanksgiving holiday my favorite engineer helped me get the last of the stuff out of storage, wrestling my boxes of Christmas ornaments into one of the closets.

He recently redesigned his bedroom closet to accomodate clothes, with a very large gun safe set up. I said "I wonder if I need to do something like that".

Having seen my closet he sent me this.

That pretty much covers it :-)

click on the pic to enlarge

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Making Whoopie in Hoosierville

Whoopie Pies

The whoopie pie is a dessert that is not quite cookie, not quite cake, It is made of two round mound-shaped pieces of cake (sometimes chocolate, sometimes pumpkin) with a sweet, creamy filling or frosting sandwiched between them.

Considered by many to be a Pennsylvania Amish tradition, likely made up from leftover cake batter, they are popping up all over the states, including a humble kitchen in Hoosierville, U.S.A.

The more traditional filling is laden with marshmallow fluff, making for a denser, very sweet treat. I made mine with two different cakes and two different fillings.

The first, pictured in the header, is Red Velvet with a vanilla bean whipped cream infused cream cheese filling.

The second, dark chocolate, made with some Scharffen Berger cocoa. That's a specialty deep dark chocolate cocoa that Midwest Chick makes her secret family recipe gun show brownie cookies with.

The filling for the dark chocolate pie as a very light, exceptionally creamy filling with a base of whipped cream and vanilla sugar.

As I listen to the sounds of some old jazz and blues from the 20's and 30's, I layer them carefully between sheets of waxed paper to deliver to some folks on LEO duty this weekend (with a couple saved for a friend). I've not tried one yet, but if the smell in the kitchen and the little puddle of Barkley drool on the tile is any indication, they will be good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chewie, Dewey and Louie - An Adventure Continued

When the day starts with homemade Pumpkin Roll, it's going to be good.

I have had several guests drop by in the last few days, a gal friend from college coming through town for a quick hello with her spouse, before heading on East, and later, my favorite engineer, also on his way through to visit family, and able to stay a bit. The Range was readied and lots of things baked.

Breakfast was intended to be dessert that night, but it just smelled too good to pass up with morning coffee before heading out.

To the Wookie Mobile!!

Roberta X had to work so we missed having her along though I did bring pie and cookies to Roseholme Cottage. Tam looked at the pie. It's a look you don't want to see if you are either a bad guy or a baked good. I said "there's enough for you and Bobbie". She looked at the pie again and said "Roberta's allergic to gluten does that have gluten? I said "it's made of glutenberries". She smiled. Fortunately, I also had a bag of freshly baked gluten free macaroons made out of ground almonds, egg whites, sugar and pixie dust.

First, a stop at the amazing Artisano's. I've used their products, especially their oils and specialty sugars and salts in many of my recipes. It's worth a drive to the city, the owner and staff being so helpful and samples of all the aged balsamic vinegars and fresh oils available to sip, including a Bourbon barrel aged 18 year old Balsamic with cherry. mmmmmmm.

I picked up a few refills I needed and some spices, salts, and sugars for Samantha, teenage daughter of Rev. Paul, as my way of saying congratulations on her new job in her journey towards a career as a chef. (Go check out the pie she just baked the family). Congratulations Sam and let me know what you do with the espresso and the black truffle salt (which was awesome in the mashed potato part of a lamb shepherds pie by the way).

Then, one more cooking supply stop before heading to the hobby store. We stopped for a model spaceship for Roberta's collection, but like kids, we soon found ourselves wandering and playing with everything while Chewie protested light rail in the train section.

I think I need to show these folks what a real potato gun is. Does this thing shoot hash browns? "Stop or I'll TOT?"

"It's the derringer of potato guns!

What else do we have in model weaponry? My friend spots a trebuchet but it's not near big enough to launch a flaming sheep at the neighbor's loud party. Look, more weapons! Wood guns of all varieties. As a little kid, I would have loved one of these.

The ammo is at the front counter. Could be worse. I hear in California high powered rubber bands are illegal and Massachusetts requires a permit.

E.: "If you give me a file I can make this fully auto. . ."

Oh Look, 4-D Bacon! (In Pig O Vision)

By the door, a collection of little toys to play with, including some really neat wooden toys of various critters. Look! It's a little OWS Magical Mystery Machine!.

Uh OH. Mr. Anaconda approaches.

Anaconda: 1 Hippies: 0.

Love and Peace meets Economics 101 and the food chain.

Playtime over and purchases made, we headed off to BD's Mongolian Grill to conquer lunch.

They removed the giant wall sized mural of the marauding hordes, which was a disappointment, but the food was really good as always. You get a bowl to fill up at the table of meat (short of Spamalope they have every kind of domestic meat you can think of) and veggies. With your filled bowl, you also fill a little bowl of your favorite sauce (from mild to hot!) to which you can add all sorts of seasonings and then take it up to be cooked in front of you (with a fresh egg if you wish). That's entertainment, in and of itself.

There's soup, salad, desserts and some pricey yuppified drinks, but we just love the basic plunder. I got off to the table with my plate to find rice and tortillas to make wraps, while Tam and E. chat with the cook who prepares their order with swords and flair. If you walk out of here hungry it's your own fault.

We'd planned a stop at one of the big outdoor ranges, as Tam's guests, but it was still raining. Not just raining, like wear a hat, but monsoon pouring, so we had to pass.

One final stop at the Wall O'Imported Beer at Kahns, and a little shop in Broad Ripple that sells homemade pasta and it was time to head back. We left Tam with glutenberry pie, cookies and a big wave.

We're already planning where Chewie will show up next!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where's Chewie?

Where's Chewie? Hoosier edition.

A day hanging out with Tam is never ordinary. There were Mongol Hordes, guns, knives, Artisano's spices and Chewie the Purse Wookie riding shotgun in the front of the truck (if you squeeze him, he makes loud Wookie noises).

You never know WHERE he is going to turn up when I'm out with my favorite people. I have company visiting from out of town, so more pictures tomorrow, including amazing 4D bacon and the Derringer of Potato Guns.

Friday, November 18, 2011

We are Hunters

The last weekend, the wind whipped like a banshee through the trees and the deer were not moving. But still the hunters go back out, not to give up just because of one or two mornings coming home cold, hungry and empty handed.

It had been a stormy night, as I headed out that Fall morning. I walked out, alone, Marlin with .357 pistol loads in hand, with an errant thundershower lingering, perhaps scuttling any plans I had to hunt without getting wet. The deer might well be hunkered down. Yet, as clouds broke into dawn drenched laughter, I could imagine one nice little buck poking his head out at first light, hoping for first dance with the prom queen. Some creatures just have a hard time sitting still, even if their life is half over. There's fields to prance through, endless chasms of corn rows to cross, horizons that tilt and change with a jump of a hospitable farmer's fence. Some living things just can not disregard their souls natural response to living, for they somehow sense that, though they might grow old, it would be with regret.

I think I'm the only one out here, the ground damp, the air biting cold. But I revel in it, as most hunters do. Smelling the rain on the heavens and feeling the wind on my face as I stride towards the tree stand up ahead, the horizon full of things hinted but not yet seen.

For too many years, I spent little time afield, taking care of parents, family, cattle, someone else's dreams. So what if I didn't pick up a shotgun or a rifle for 12 years, I have them now. With them, there's new adventures, the jumbled trail that is a chucker hunt, the fog shrouded lovers touch that is opening day of duck season in Arkansas. Better a belated and streaming dawn than a life lived in twilight, my old Browning would say, if that old Belgium grade steel could talk.

Hunters are unusual people, yet we are rather simple in our ways. We know, but don't always gleefully await, that alarm going off at 3 am, but we eagerly jump up from our warm bed at the call, for it is a dawn that few see, evocative and inspiring. The streaming dawn, that despite the early morning, reaches out and grabs us into an alertness coffee can't provide.

We are hunters. We know the fields of Indiana and the deep sigh of darkness that lies in the middle of swampy ground somewhere down in Arkansas. We know the mornings drenched in pine, the varied scents of a field in Northern Iowa and the up and down escalator drill that is that last minute trip to Cabelas. We've walked a grid of open dirt, or homed into a tree like a coon dog, racing the sun to our blind, hoping to get in before Mr. Buck awakes. We have politely waited for that same sun to come up, reveling in the clear sparkling crispness that is an November morning.

Hunters remember bucks. We remember the does that entice them. We remember quail and pheasant and that elusive, damnable bird called a chucker. We delight in the perfect clarity of a 12 pointer through a new scope and remember a late night waltz down an ice slicked path, retreating to a camp or a farm house with that buck only a memory.

For many of us it began with a simple Daisy Rifle, then on to a Remington or a Browning and later the latest in sight technology and scopes. But whatever we carry, be it new or old, we all understand misfeeds, that branch that got in the way, and finding yourself sodden, including your ammo, when the forecaster lied like a Senate appropriation meeting. But no matter what we carry, the latest and the greatest, or grandpa's beloved shotgun, there is still something that all of us must always comprehend and that is the nature of the wild. Wherever we are, and with whatever we have, we strive to out-hunt complacency, that one thing that can end our day on a uncorrectable note of finality.

We are hunters. We relish the cheerful warmth of that first cup of coffee and the pause of an ice cold beer in front of the fire when the day is done. My generation and my fathers speaks as if old friends of 1911's and Remington's and Colt, cap and ball, not cap and trade. We understand the vagrancies of black powder and the shoulder numbing retort of 50 cal. We recall with pride, the fierce roar that was our first double barreled shotgun. We reminisce over the vast remote landscapes of Alaska and Colorado and Wyoming, of tears and blood and swear, while the young ones have no such memory, spending their time pitting themselves against a video game.

Hunters speak a language handed down from generation to generation and only slightly understood by their non hunting partner. We banter about airwash and anchor point, quiver and quartering. We know the difference between purr and putt and can talk for hours about racks and score, conversations that have nothing to do with the opposite sex.

But when it's time to get into the woods and into the blind, there is no chatter, the concentration being almost tactile. For though we have tasted the insulation of the woods and feel comfortable within its borders, we know too well the adrenalin surge of approaching game, the feel of hairs on our arms standing up in a predators natural response. In that moment as our quarry comes into view we know more than the desire for it, we know conviction and clarity even as our brain telegraphs the movement of our hand to the trigger of our firearm, making sure we are certain, of both the target and ourselves.

For we respect the power of our firearm, and know what it means to fight for the right to carry it, to fight for what we believe in. That is the uncommon faith of man's innate need to take from our environment what we need to live and nothing more, tending the forest, being conservators of the trust God has given us.

We respect our weapon and we respect the inordinate right that we have to carry it. But just as calmly as we trust in our abilities, we also believe in the capriciousness of this world, and of predators both two and four legged. There's not one of us that hunts deep within the wild, where we are not the largest creature on the food chain, that forgets that we may tested in a face off against something unseen, of large fang and claw, that will pit our every ability against a red stroke of fate.

We are hunters. We are male and female, young and old, wealthy or poor in pocketbook but never in spirit. We have small cars and big trucks, tattooed with flags and jumping fish and the symbols of our service. We are unabashedly proud of being an American, family people at home and in the deepest part of our landscape.

We know the overwhelming beauty of a Midwest sky as the sun seeps into the deep purple horizon and the pristine beauty of the sun's reemergence after a long, cold night in a sleeping bag. We remember the sentient rows of corn guiding us to feathered warriors and the winding roads deep into a forest in which the wild turkey plays. In such places, with only a mug of coffee and a chunk of bread we've held our own Communion with God in the sanctity of the the land he created, land He trusted us with, as its stewards. It's a Pentecostal fire that turns our fingers blue, as we warm them with the blessings of this days breath.

We've seen time stop, seconds stuttering into slow motion by the sheer moment of a group of elk, one so large, and moving fast, the others following like dark ghosts, not running, but merely keeping pace with the looming might of the largest rack we've ever seen, worshipping in its shadow. Game, appearing out of no where, as if from thin air they were formed, just for this moment, from prayers unsaid.

We walked miles across Iowa cornfields, as if we didn't hurry we could lose the birds forever, tireless, eager, propelled by only the tiny little hammering of our heart, and the deep panted breathing of our bird dog, Then just as quickly, stopping, as if struck down, watching the dog point, and the sky exploding into flight, our whole world coalesced in bright sunlight. We've experienced that moment when time merges into that one spot of sun and sky and dog and hands , the sun glinting off a watch that portends a moment here, forever, then gone with the blast of our Dad's old Remington.

We've watched a deer emerge, as if summonsed by our thoughts. One minute, a blank landscape, the next minute, only hide and hair and rack and breath, his, your own, as your hands hesitate like the first rush of love. There, in that millisecond between want and need, your hands find that trigger in the windless days hot dalliance and he's gone. Gone as if he never was, as if he was only some adolescent dream of desire.

We've toasted those hunts, both successful and unsuccessful under the northern lights. We've seen horizontal rain and microbursts of leaves shaken down by a turkey coming down to do battle. We've seen quiet things no one would believe, things that only those that embrace the outdoors might see, and we're hooked on it. Not for the food, though that bounty is appreciated in a country kitchen, but as something that's hard to put name to, a reasoning beyond ego that is the freedom of the outdoors. It's pitting our skills against something as elemental as a whitetail deer, something ingrained in us, an essential element of our being.

I'm almost at my tree blind, the sun peeking out and I hope that the weather will allow for some food for my table this winter. But for now I have my Marlin. I have my solitude, as I settle into where I will hunt. It is that solitude I have found no other place but a cockpit, one that wavers slow as I lean back against a tree and close my eyes for just a moment, breathing deep. Head thrown back I stick my hand out into air the temperature of a lover's soft breath, trailing my hand in the wind, sensing it's direction and how it might give my position away. Time strolls by like a day at the seashore until the sun bursts from the horizon.

I don't have much, but I have this, the breeze, fresh air to cool me quick, to blow out of my eyes and my brain and my blood all the would make me stressed and weary. My hands rest on the stock of my rifle, I follow with my eyes, the waving branches of the forest, looking for one small movement, as sounds dissolve into dying leaves.

This wouldn't be anything that you'd see on outdoor TV, no lights or fancy equipment. I'm simply a hunter, in a circle of trees where at somber intervals tall branches shift and moan in the strained winds musings, dropping their leaves, leaving their signs. I patiently wait, waiting for game, watching for my own signs. I look out across the forest, a lonely figure, yet not alone. I look up into the sky that lies prone and subdued in the embrace of this season of life and death, a season I understand all too well.

There's no place I'd rather be.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Z.

My sense of humor gets a little twisted after a very long day working.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bloodhound of the Law - Mayberry Cafe

Not only do I have more than one bullet I know a good place to eat if you are traveling through Central Indiana.
For I was traveling through a little town by the name of Danville IN, located not too far West of Indy on my way back from a country excursion. We'd seen tractors, old barns and a VFW hall that remembers what is important.

I loved their flagpole. I've got to bring Tam over to see this. It's even cooler than the Broad Ripple Gargoyle with RayBans.

A few miles later, slightly wrinkled and road weary and definately hungry, we spotted the squad car. I watched enough TV, and TV Land over the years to recognize the squad car.

The Mayberry Cafe. It's full of memorabilia, little flat screen TV's playing an episode from the show, and friendly, small town service. As I walked I felt transported back in time, to an era where your Dad was your hero, family was important, romance was slow but true and involved lots of home cooked food and the Sheriff could always be counted on to do the right thing.

Even before the drinks were ordered we had a loaf of fresh, hot homemade brown bread with cinnomon honey butter to work on. The bread had a nice taste to it, I almost suspected a little rye or graham flour mixed in with the wheat but the tub of spread was the best part of all.

Drink refills were prompt, not that you needed them with the giant old coca cola glasses. The food, American Diner style, good and abundant portions, but they also have a full salad bar and a selection of soups, salads and stir fry dishes for those eating lighter.

I had the Aunt Bea's fried chicken. I ordered two pieces thinking I'd get a breast and a little leg or wing. I got two whole boneless chicken breasts deep fried with a savory, crunchy, totally non greasy coating. The potatoes, real potatoes, not instant, not dehydrated, not from a can. They were topped with a peppery white gravy that (sorry Cracker Barrel) was better than mine or most restaurants.

My friend had grilled Hamsteak with all the trimmings and he said it was perfectly grilled, not cooked, then refrigerated and then microwaved. It was a thick steak and about took up the whole oversized dinner plate.

I ended up getting a box to bring half of mine home, including the big dish of buttery corn, which is not something I do often with a meal for less than $10. But then there were the desserts including blackberry cobbler with homemade ice cream (no Brigid! Nip it!, Nip it in the bud!) which I passed on but they looked wonderful.

I'll have to come back, to try perhaps the chicken fried chicken and pork tenderloin sandwich someone else in the crowd ordered. Both were about was the size of a hubcap and had a large serving of freshly made coleslaw on the side (or sides of your choice). At the checkout they sell old fashioned candies that the little ones were lining up for as well as jars of the cinnamon honey butter and Mayberry cookbooks (homestyle cooking, always helpful in getting the attention of a handsome Sheriff).

There was a number of folks coming in the the door when we left, but the service was good and the wait, more than acceptable. This isn't fast food, and the taste proves it.

Even if you weren't a fan of the show, if you like fresh, tasty, 50's style comfort food, that tastes like your Mom cooked it, not the platoon mess cook, the Mayberry Cafe serves it up well. Located in Danville located on Main St (US 36), in the heart of the small downtown area on the north side of the street. Today was Monday and they were open 11 am til 9:30, staying open til 10 on Friday and Saturday nights.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why I Support the Second Amendment

I support the Second Amendment as it supports what our country was founded on, the means in which as patriots, we can protect and defend. The true measure of the patriot is steadfastness. We all have small moments of wanderlust in us, tearing off on paths that others may not follow, testing limits, testing ourselves. That is the nature of man. Yet when we strive to hold true, to stand firm to our beliefs as free men and women, as a group, to carry our weapons and defend our land and our homes, the weak become strong, and the wandering hold together as one. For then we are united in something much greater than the elemental whims of mankind. Together as patriots we are much more of the courageous and less of the selfish, we become brothers in arms, one household at a time.

.- Brigid

Monday, November 7, 2011

Photo's from Dad's - What are THESE???

There are a collection of these on the rail of the deck at the family homestead. Can any of you guess what they are?

After just a few days here, Dad is looking better. The nasty wound he got on his arm when he fell, is healing. The doctor couldn't find any organic reason for his getting dizzy, but adjusted his meds, which has seemed to help. My brother R. and I put up rails in the tub and in the bath so he has a little help if he needs it. Another brother helped with a rail by the front porch. (The boys live within a couple hours of Dad). Still he's much more alert, out walking the dog and still looking anything but 91.

My room hasn't changed. The rainbow? (there's a full sized one on the other walls). I was a preteen and bored. I wanted to paint the walls. Dad said I could, but I could ONLY use the leftover paint in the garage. That's why I have rainbows made out of 1970's aqua, hot pink, orange and gold. Dad refused to paint over them.

My toys are still on display. (low light, not the best photo)

The family room has a wall of pride for each sibling. Here's one from my big brother R. Mine just has some airplane stuff and some diploma things and ribbon stuff, nothing much to see . The brother's Submarine wall itself, is pretty impressive and there's an Air Force wall up as well.

Time for dinner. Dad is pretty much Mr. "Meat and Potatoes". I don't think I had Mexican Food until I was 19. "Exotic" was spaghetti with garlic bread. For him tonight, roasted pork tenderloin, steamed veggies tossed with butter and a few dried cranberries and of course, garlic cheese bread and a PBR. Gourmet he's not, and will never apologize for not being trendy. Game, fish he caught himself, vegetables from his garden, bread his family members baked. That's all he needs to be happy.

Mom's needlepoint, still all around the house.

Ash, (short for Ashley) retired fire truck dog, sleeps. She won't be more than 10 feet away from Dad, for just about anything. At 11, she's slowing down, but so is Dad. Fast friends, they are. Ash belonged to a family member. With a new baby in the house, they didn't have the time a senior dog needed. Dad had TOO much time. It was a perfect fit.

Afternoon chores, the garage needs some tidying up. In the wooden cabinets that Dad built by hand, a catch of memories. The tear came unbidden, as did the big smile.

After the chores are done, time for a little snack for all. A hand tossed pizza crust sprinkled with roasted garlic, Tillamook cheese, basil and rosemary and than baked with spicy marinara to dip it in.

You can't have snacks without a rousing game of cribbage. Dad, with referee Ash, won. Didn't just win every game He SKUNKED me on the last round. Of course, he then calls my brothers to tell them.

What kind of thing is that, rubbing it in that you are the king of the game board. No one else in the family would do such a thing!

I certainly wouldn't :-)