A Greek Tragedy in 10 seconds

Based upon a lame joke I made up in my head ages ago but never told anyone until today, and presented without apology.

Wife: Euripides?

Husband: Yeah, got caught on a nail.

Wife: Tragic.

Husband: Eumenides?

Wife: Uh, no. The sewing kit’s in the drawer. Eumenidoze yourself.

Now don’t get mad.  I did warn you it would be lame, but you went on and read it anyway.

Tragically, you’ve only yourself to blame.

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When SNL was funny

I just found the beginning of Saturday Night Live (SNL) on Netflix.

Well, more precisely, I found Saturday Night. You see, back then it wasn’t called Saturday Night Live, because there was another show premiering that same year entitled Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell, which I know about because our dad found Howard amusing, so he watched it. The show only lasted 18 episodes. Why? Because frankly, it sucked. And mostly, it sucked because of Howard Cosell. But since dad liked him, the show got at least a few airings in our living room. Howard may (may) have been a good sports commentator, but giving him a variety show was a boondoggle, doomed from the get-go. After a while, Saturday Night changed its name to Saturday Night Live, since nobody was using the name any longer, and because that’s what it should have been called to begin with. But, I digress…

Once I started the first episode playing, it was pure déjà vu.

George Carlin was the host (and if you’ve avoided watching him because you heard he was vulgar, this is a pretty clean/safe way to experience his wry wit.) I knew I’d begun watching Saturday Night during its first season, after convincing my parents to let me stay up (I was only 12 1/2 when it first aired, and I usually had to be in bed by 10pm) but until now I didn’t realize I’d actually seen the first episode. (Granted, I may not have seen that first episode until it went into re-runs — when they re-aired the episodes after finishing the live broadcasts for the first season.)

Yesterday, I had just told my husband about the first time I’d ever seen Andy Kaufman, because we were deciding whether to watch Man in the Moon, which is about him. Turns out that what I described to him was in this first ever episode of Saturday Night (Live). I’ve embedded the video below. Turn on your speakers and watch it, and you’ll learn a bit more about me, because my 12-year-old self was mesmerized by this short performance. It was one of the most hilarious things I’d ever seen. (Don’t worry, there’s nothing offensive to anyone.)

And as I slowly re-watch this first season, I’m certain I’ll discover some origins of my quirky sense of humour that not everybody gets.

Posted in Entertainment, humor, Opinion, Vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The End of Poverty? Not so much…

My husband often will point out certain movies that are going to be “falling off” of Netflix — i.e., they are available via streaming, but will shortly be unavailable. I’ve no idea how he comes by this information, but he does, and sometimes we end up watching a movie or show we’d never heard of before then.

That’s how we found out about the documentary The End of Poverty? The description on Netflix said:

Exploring the history of poverty in developing countries, filmmaker Philippe Diaz contends that today’s economic inequities arose as a result of colonization, military conquest and slavery, with wealthier countries seizing the resources of the poor.

Which sounded like a bunch of “blame the rich” liberal drivel, but we wanted to see their arguments. Turned out to be not so much drivel, after all.

We did have a problem with how they characterized capitalism — they seem to equate it with colonialism and imperialism, which really isn’t — but  this film opened my eyes to some things I hadn’t previously known or understood very well, and it actually DID make an excellent case for the premise that today’s poverty is a direct result of colonization, conquest and slavery. The seizing of resources from poorer people by those who have more money and power still happens today, but it’s disguised to look like “here, let us help you” instead of outright theft.

Have you ever heard of the water wars in Bolivia? I hadn’t. Water was privatized — control of ALL water was given to ONE private company. Even RAINWATER. It became illegal to collect rainwater. All water had to be purchased from this private company, at whatever price they set. There was an interview of a man who didn’t even make enough money to pay for his family’s water each day, let alone anything else.

Although I did know about the not-so-pure motives and methods of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in their ways of “helping out” struggling countries via loans with strings attached, I wasn’t aware of the outrageous control that they exert, and how it actually ends up destroying economies and infrastructure, and the country’s ability to stand on its own. Sometimes, as part of the IMF loan package, a country must agree to produce a certain crop for export, sometimes they have to stop producing certain things and agree to import those instead. It can lead to a monoculture type of agriculture, which is asking for disaster (Irish potato famine, anyone?)

The End of Poverty? is no longer streaming on Netflix, but I found it on youtube, and have linked it in below.

Really, you need to watch this documentary.

But it’ll make you mad if you’re paying attention.

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The Coin and I

1963 pennyThis penny surprised me when I found it over the weekend. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but then I don’t claim photography as one of my skills.

While it doesn’t qualify as “mint condition,” it is surprisingly shiny and unmarred, considering it’s FIFTY YEARS OLD, and also considering the fact that it was just an average circulating coin, found in amongst fifty cents worth of  its somewhat less gleaming peers, all rolled up in a paper wrapper.

Though we both began our public circulation the same year, I must say this 1963 Lincoln cent has held up better than I, appearance-wise at least.

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Creamy One-Pan Pasta with a Kick

Pinterest is great at sucking time away from your day, so I use it a whole lot less than I used to (just as I’ve tried to do with other social networking websites). But, yesterday I spent a few minutes on Pinterest, and one of the people I follow pinned a variation of a Martha Stewart recipe for one-pan pasta. I went back to the source, to compare the two. The variation used sun-dried tomatoes, instead of fresh like Martha’s, as well as tossing in some brie, and there were a few other differences as well.

But, one pan? Seriously?

See, I’m super skeptical of recipes that claim to be insanely simple, and one-pan pasta sounds scarily close to my Hamburger Helper memories. But I couldn’t imagine The Martha allowing stuff that tastes like a cardboard box being attached to her name.

“Isn’t it worth a try then?” I asked my skeptical self. “Especially since your thoughtful daughter brought you that lovely fresh basil and you’ve got, oh…about 32 fresh tomatoes laying about waiting to be amazing.”

Well, my skeptical self and I agreed, and together we decided to whip up some one pan pasta for supper last night. With variations, of course. First off, I used spaghetti instead of linguine, since my husband really doesn’t care for the wider noodles. I was out of olive oil, but I had some cream cheese that was just past expiration, so that went in and made it rich and creamy. And since I’m married to Oregano’s Number One Fan, I added a touch of that, too.

Just to tempt you, here’s what it looks like once it’s ready to serve:

Easier than pie! (Have you TRIED making pie?)Don’t know about you, but to me that looks like minemineminenotsharingmine

So, with my little tweaks and twists, here’s my take on one pan pasta.

Creamy One-Pan Pasta with a Kick

12 ounces spaghetti (not angel hair — it needs to have about a 10 minute cook time)
12 ounces ripe tomatoes, diced. Peel first, if you hate bits of tomato skin in your food
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
about 8 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 cups water

4 ounces cream cheese, cut in small chunks (let sit at room temperature while pasta cooks)
1/3 to 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, preferably freshly grated
more black pepper, basil, and/or chopped tomatoes, for garnish, if desired

Use a large, deep skillet. One with straight sides will make it easier to keep everything in the pan while stirring. Martha’s recipe said to stir with tongs, but I used a pasta server, which worked even better, in my opinion.

Spicy-Creamy One Pan Spaghetti

Put the pasta, veggies and seasonings in the skillet, then add the water. Put on high heat and rapidly bring to a boil, stirring gently.

Keep it moving!

Do not cover the pan. Continue to boil, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Try to keep the pasta under the water as much as possible.

Boil and stir until pasta is tender

Cook until the pasta is done to your liking. (We like it done just a bit more than al dente) and the liquid is nearly gone. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom — mine did just a bit, but no biggie.)

Remove from heat and stir in the cream When liquid is reduced to a thin sauce, add cream cheese
cheese until it melts throughout.

Stir in parmesan, and mix until creamy. Divide among 4 bowls. Garnish with additional black pepper, diced tomatoes and torn basil leaves or a basil chiffonade. For chiffonading how-to, see the handy tutorial I did a while back on Home Ec 101. And for heaven’s sake, remember to use a sharp knife that is NOT serrated one. Which I failed to do this time. Derp. Rather than elegant, thin shreds, I made rather a wet mess of the leaves. I almost omitted the photo, but I think it demonstrates the lesson well. )

This is why you do not use a serrated knife to do a basil chiffonade

This dish came out quite hot, from the red pepper. At my husbands behest, I’ll reduce the red pepper to 1/4 teaspoon next time. We also thought this would be good with chicken, so I’m going to try adding a half-pint jar of my home-canned boneless chicken just before the pasta is done. My husband thinks green olives would be amazing in this, too. Not surprising, since he thinks they’re amazing in just about everything, but he’s probably right about this one.

Posted in Food, My Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Not Exactly a Square Meal – Circle Salad and Benadryl Crumblesnacks

“Elizabeth, we’re going to eat circles for supper tonight.”
“Eat suh-kulls??”
“Yes. We’re going to eat circles.”
“Hur-ray!

[Not just "yay!" -- she actually says, "Hurray!" on a somewhat regular basis, and she means it. Likely she picked it up from watching Kipper, where the characters exclaim such things to each other frequently. (They call him Kipper, Kipper the dog. The dog with the slipper? That's Kipper, Kipper the Dog -- jazzy little theme song, Grampa and I find ourselves humming it)]

Anyway, after patiently waiting for about a hundred years, Parade’s End (starring Benedict Cumberbatch) was finally available through Netflix, and it arrived yesterday. My dear husband (the aforementioned Grampa) lovingly made the sacrifice of bringing that in at my behest, in lieu of something he would prefer. He did not, however, feel inclined to make the additional sacrifice of actually watching it with me. (He’s not a big fan of Benadryl Crumblesnacks…Broccoli Chowderpants…my beloved amuses me repeatedly by deliberately never getting the name of my favorite actor correct). However, our daughter had expressed interest, so last evening I trekked the 3 miles or so between our homes, with movie, Blu-ray player and necessary accouterments, and my dad’s old Tupperware lunchbox filled with Circle Salad. (Recipe below)

Parade’s End took some effort to follow, at the beginning, but before the end of the first episode, we were invested in the characters enough to be properly indignant on behalf of those being wronged. We’re looking forward to when we can get the second disc and watch the last two episodes.

So, on to the food. The idea for Circle Salad occurred to me when I came across the idea of hot dog salad, and remembered I had some wagon wheel pasta in the cupboard. I adjusted the recipe so that all ingredients (aside from the dressing, of course) would be (mostly) round and (vaguely) circular if cut correctly. I wanted to make it as a surprise for my granddaughter, because she’s been learning shapes (along with colors and letters and animals….) And serendipitously, I discovered that all the ingredients I used were ones Elizabeth already liked. She’s not a fussy eater, really, but she happily gobbled up her bowl of Circles like nobody’s business, telling me it was “So Good, Gwamma” and “Yum-Yum!”

Circle salad -- Hot dogs and wagon wheels and other yummy round things

Circle Salad Recipe

Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 cup sweet pickles, sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup black olives, sliced into rounds
5 hot dogs, grilled or pan-fried, sliced between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick (your preference)
6 ounces wagon wheel shaped pasta
3 green onions (scallions) sliced about 1/4 inch thick

Combine dressing ingredients thoroughly. Stir in olives and pickles. Combine hot dogs, pasta and green onions in large bowl. Pour dressing over and mix gently but thoroughly with large spoon. Cover bowl (or transfer to storage container) and chill at least one hour before serving.

CAUTION: Know your child — very young children may choke on large chunks of solid food, such as sliced hot dogs, especially if they don’t have the teeth for proper chewing yet. Use your brain and cut the pieces smaller, according to the needs of the child.

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Where’s my cape?

20130623-132141.jpg

I know I’m only two, Gramma, but, I’m pretty sure a superhero is supposed to have a cape.

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Clever People

20130623-132258.jpg

The Round Barn.
So named because it is round.
And a barn.

Posted in kitsch/folk art, My Photos | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Confessions of a surreal killer…

When my kids were little they loved watching Veggie Tales, starring Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber.

Sometimes, when preparing a meal, I would carve a face into a cucumber so it looked like Larry, and show it to my children, and they’d laugh.

Then I would stab Larry, and slice him up right in front of them, and we would have Larry for lunch.

Despite being witness to their mom’s murdering of beloved cartoon characters, they’ve turned out surprisingly close to normal.

stab larry

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Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Apologies up front to everyone (especially myself) for not getting photos of this recipe before I set my family loose on it, because it vanished like magic. Poof! Gone.

Also — I just noticed it’s been exactly three months since I posted last. And barely a day went by that I didn’t mentally give myself a thrashing for not writing something, ANYTHING. Some changes will be occuring that I hope will lift my mental block to allowing myself to write. And…. it looks like things have changed in WordPress, so excuse me if there’s a hiccup or seven until I get things figured out again.

On to the food. This blog is not always about food, but it is sometimes about food. This is one of those times.

Yum.

Yesterday, I was looking for something QUICK to make with diced turkey or chicken and came across a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad. I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I googled Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad, and found several, none of which I had all the ingredients to make. So…I jotted down ingredients from various recipes that I did have, and added a couple of my own ideas that sounded good, then went to work in short order, trying to get it made quickly because our daughter and granddaughter had just come over to watch something with us.

Well, I was hoping they’d at least not hate it, but everyone went wild. My son made me promise to make it again. A lot. Well, ALL THE TIME was what he requested, but obviously, I can’t agree to that. And so, while I sat down and made sure to accurately record everything I did before I forgot. Because I’ve been there done that — where I’m asked for repeats of something I just kinda made up but couldn’t remember exactly how I made it. Ooops. At least I’ve learned from my mistakes, right?

For the meat, I used a low-salt, no-preservatives precooked turkey breast from Plainville Farms, coated in herbes de provence. Sounds expensive, and probably is, but I got it at Mark’s Discount Groceries in New Oxford, PA – frozen, for $1.49 per pound. I bought a few of those, because they’re really handy, super cheap and the ingredients list is free of anything chemical-sounding. Just real stuff. This was my last one – I hope to find them again soon.

I won’t always have this wonderful meat available, and you’ve probably never heard of it, so, if you’re using just plain cooked chicken or turkey, you could add a teaspoon or so of an herbes de provence blend, which may include any or all of thyme, rosemary, savory, crushed fennel seeds, or other herbs, depending on who packaged your blend. Or just add a teaspoon in total of crushed thyme and rosemary and savory. Or just forget the herbs and move along.

Oh, by the way — brand names are included only to show what brands we use and prefer — I have not been compensated to endorse any brand. But if any companies approach me to do so, I won’t say no outright. Especially Daisy. I love me some Daisy Sour Cream. By the spoonful.

Buffalo Chicken (or turkey) Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

10 ounces penne pasta, cooked, drained and cooled
3 cups diced (or chopped) chicken or turkey
1 can small pitted black olives, whole, drained
3-4 cups chopped/torn romaine or leaf lettuce

1/2 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise (A must. I think it was in our marriage vows.)
1/2 cup Ken’s Steak House Blue Cheese dressing
1/4 cup Daisy Brand Sour Cream
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 tsp worcesteshire sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 T Franks Red Hot sauce
2 smallish or 1 large green onion, sliced
1 cup chopped colored sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange. Not green.)

Combine cooked and cooled pasta, chicken, olives and lettuce in very large bowl.

Combine mayo, dressing, sour cream, blue cheese, black pepper, hot sauce, onions and peppers. Pour over pasta and chicken mixture and toss gently until all pieces are coated. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to half an hour.

If you want to prepare further ahead of time, you should chill lettuce separately from the rest, and gently stir into the salad just before serving.

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