Monday, December 29, 2008
Found a Christmas Goose on my bike ride along Kelly Drive. A whole flock of these giant birds were grubbing and pecking the ground along the river near St. Joseph's Boat House halfway up the drive. Someone had decorated this bench with Christmas swag. The scene was too perfect the only thing missing was the figgy pudding and Tiny Tim.
Ah! The aftermath of Christmas day. There's Santa, kicked to the curb with the trash. In England, December 26 is called Boxing Day; in the US, it's the day we throw away all of the stuff we no longer need or want, packages, boxes and broken toys. As this was a minimal Christmas for Liz and I this year, we had little if any trash to put outside. These neighbors apparently thought that Santa has overstayed his welcome. Stuffed, no longer with working parts, this poor Santa is just another reminder of the end of 2008. Time to clear out what's no longer working and a new man in to take care of the job at hand. Amen!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
1. Gift wrapping, even under the best of conditions, takes at least 10 minutes. I might like magic spells, I dream of Jeannie, and Bewitched, but I'm not able to twitch my nose, flick a wand or blink my eyes to get your present wrapped in 10 seconds.
2. When you buy an item that has been discounted 75% already, you don't deserve to harangue the staff people and take up additional time in order to make you feel like you made a good gift choice.
3. Taking pictures of an item with your iPhone, so you can shop online for a better price later is just plain tacky.
4. Coming into the store for as much free candy or samples of our food items as a meal replacement is wrong. Not to mention how fattening and bad for you all that junk is. Do you know how many fat calories are in a tablespoon of olive oil? A lot. Just because it's olive oil, doesn't make it any healthier for you when you ingest a quarter of a cup with a half pound of bread at the olive oil tasting bar.
5. When we ask if we can help you, we genuinely mean we would like to be of assistance. We are not trying to make you buy anything. It's our store policy to be polite and offer the best customer service possible. Jeesh, try getting someone at Best Buy to help you. Go ahead, try. You'll be waiting forever to find a sales person with half a brain and any sense of politeness in them.
6. For the sanctimonious types, I know where some of you ought to have been today. So why are you shopping on the Sabbath? Don't pull your religiosity on me when you see me in other venues. I'm not buying it.
7. When the special offer of 20% or any other decent discount or coupon incentive is offered, it doesn't apply to items you purchased days before the offer began. Store policy clearly states this on the offer. No, you should not or cannot bring back your purchase for a full refund return and then repurchase it in order to get that 20% or the $10 for every $50 you spent.
8. Asking for each item to be individually wrapped for the 8 days of Hanukkah is annoying and takes up a lot of time, energy and resources. WRAP your own frickin' gifts. And no, we can't give you extra paper, boxes, ribbons and the do-dads to make your other personal packages as pretty as the ones we've already wrapped for you.
9. Internet and Catalog orders are entirely different sometimes than the items offered in the store. If we don't carry the item, ever, then yes, shipping charges may apply. Sorry. Take the news graciously. I did not make the policy.
10. Returning the dishes and platters you purchased a few days ago, when it's clear you used them for your holiday party is gross. We can tell when the dishes have been used. Have the decency to run them through a dishwasher with some soap for criminy sakes. Scrap that soup gunk off the bowls. That platter, it was still greasy from your roast beast.
11. Rounding up your purchase 11 cents to give to a charity foundation benefits the organization and doesn't hurt you at all. Have a heart and give a buck. I truly cannot believe someone wouldn't round up their purchase to the next whole dollar to give to Saint Jude's Children's Hospital. Less than 50 cents. Like you would miss that change. What did you drop at Starbucks today on that fat latte?
12. Remember, you chose to go out to shop today, 3 to 1 day before the big holiday. So did everyone else. The lines will be long and the staff is over worked. Have a sense of kindness and some patience. We'll all get along a lot better.
Bonus - Returning an item, years after the item was carried by the store, and getting angry that the value of the item has dwindled to 99 cents is ridiculous. So is asking the staff to re-wrap the item so you can re-gift it. Threatening to call the district manager makes you look like an even bigger cheap ass bastard.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
- 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Paprika (hot or smoked will be even better)
- ½ teaspoon Cayenne
- 1 Tablespoon Cumin
- 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
- 2 Cups Raw and Unsalted Pecans
- 2 Cups Raw and Unsalted Cashews
- 2 Cups Almonds – Whole, Unblanched, Raw and Unsalted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix nuts in a colander and rinse under cold running water until thoroughly wet. Shake off excess water.
- Put nuts in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of the spice mixture and stir to completely coat all the nuts.
- Use a sheet pan, lined with either parchment or a Silpat. Evenly spread the nut/spice mixture on the sheet pan.
- Sprinkle another ¼ cup of the sugar mix over the nuts. If more is needed, sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over the nuts; otherwise, the extra sugar can be kept indefinitely in an airtight container. The potency of the seasonings will diminish over time though.
- Bake in oven for up to 25 minutes. Check the nuts after 15 minutes and stir the nuts carefully; keep the nuts in an even layer. Check every 5 minutes, allowing the nuts to get crisp and the sugar mixture to caramelize and melt but not burn.
- Remove nuts from oven when nuts & sugar mixture looks dark brown and shiny.
- Cool the nuts on the sheet pan. When they are cool enough to handle, break the nuts up and put them into a plastic or other airtight container.
- The nuts will last in cool dry weather for about 2 weeks.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Of course, there are a few topics I want to explore, one of which is about biking. As it is now winter, in all of its cold and dreariness, I find I am not biking much at all, other than my daily commute to work. Between the cold, wind, early darkness and my lack of free time, I don't have the inclination to bike much these days. I rode the clunky beach cruiser on Saturday around town, to do errands and then took an impromptu ride around the River Drives with Susan Hill. Not my first choice of biking "vehicles", but it's what I had to ride and we had the time and energy. I'm sure I looked a sight moseying up
I've also noticed this happy groove when I cook. There's something about the repetitive motions of cutting and chopping, of finding the culinary rhythm of prep work. I'd forgotten about this feeling and then, last night, I rediscovered it during my Mitzvah Cooking project for Winter Shelter. We prepared over 10 quarts of hearty Lentil Vegetable and Kale Soup and 5 half hotel pans of baked ziti with vegetables and mozzarella cheese. For the first hour or so, I was alone in the BZBI kitchen, working in silence and organizing myself. There was a moment when I thought I would be completely alone cooking this massive amount of food, but instead of getting panicked and overwhelmed, I felt at ease. Cooking on a mass scale is easy for me having worked at Whole Foods and other large catering venues. Anyway, I felt in charge and content. The calm paid off; two volunteer assistants came about an hour later and we worked as a small team cranking out the food in record time - 2 hours!
There are studies, books and theories abound regarding feelings of happiness and contentedness that develop in us when we volunteer or do altruistic deeds. Nice to know that biking, cooking, exercising and volunteering have been a part of my over-all wellbeing.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Since it launched a couple months ago, a lot has happened...And that in turn led to the next phase of the project (but don't watch this til you've seen the first part). This part is titled "Invitation to the Universe."
Here is the email I sent over three years ago. To get the references about which I write in my letter, you really must read the book; they will make so much more sense!
Dear Ms. Rosenthal,