Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Captain Carrots



















    There have been a number of rather famous or infamous captains down through the years. There have been songs, stories and books written about them. A few come readily to mind. Good ol' Captain Bligh from the book Mutiny on the Bounty. He was a real captain and there really was a Bounty, it wasn't just a story someone made up. He served under the famous English captain, James Cook, who was credited with discovering the Hawaiian Islands. Of course the islands had been previously discovered by the natives who lived there.They just didn't blab about it- probably didn't want all the trouble that outsiders would bring; understandably so. Captain Bligh was quite a knowledgeable man. After the mutiny he and a  handful of his followers traveled some 3618 nautical miles across the open Pacific Ocean in a twenty foot boat. That in itself is quite a feat, but when you consider that a nautical mile is 2000 yards,6,000 feet versus a land mile at 5280, it's even more remarkable. Though he was a very capable man, his temperament made him very unpopular with his crew, hence the mutiny.  Bligh is a name associated with another unpopular captain, Captain Joseph Hazelwood, who ran the tanker, Exxon Valdez aground in Prince William Sound on Bligh Reef on March 24, 1989. Up here in Alaska, we heard about that in the news for the better part of a year. It was pretty tragic. In researching some information for this post, for some reason I thought of the book Captains Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling. I discovered that the name for the book was taken from a line in a ballad written about an English Captain, Mary Ambree, who participated in liberating the Belgium city of Ghent. I never knew that there were any female captains in the English navy. The first line of the ballad reads in part: When captains courageous whom death could not daunt... I guess I'm going to have to get the book and read it. I'll certainly have to read up on Captain Mary Ambree. However, there is little brave or courageous about our beloved dog, Rigby, AKA Captain Carrots. As I've mentioned in previous posts, he insists on having sliced bananas in the morning if we partake, and most definitely will not eat his cereal unless we put milk on it. Whenever we are preparing a salad he goes ballistic at the sight of peppers- green, red, yellow, orange, he loves them all, plus the lettuce, tomato, cucumber- whatever. For the longest time we were in the habit of giving him cheese. We finally decided that it probably wasn't that good for him, so we switched to carrots instead. Much healthier, and quite a bit less expensive, and frankly, he loves them. I got on a site called Care 2, and discovered that carrots have quite a few benefits. According to them, carrots slow down the aging process, they promote healthier skin, help prevent infection and heart disease, they cleanse the body, protect teeth and gums, reduce the risk of cancer and of course something that your mother may have told you, they are good for your eyes. They are full of vitamin A, which is transformed in the retina
to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision. Holy cats, who knew? It sounds like a person could pretty much live on a diet of carrots. I know one gal here in town who ate massive quantities of carrots back when I was managing the L. Kane store. Almost every day she was in buying a bag. One day she came in and we didn't have any fresh ones, she'd bought them all, so she purchased a can of carrots. It was at that time that I noticed that her skin had  a fairly yellowish tint.  I thought perhaps she was a little jaundiced. We found out later that her massive intake of carotene was actually coloring her skin. As it stands right now, we're going through about two bags of those baby carrots every week. I'm not sure what to expect, but if in the future I find that we have the worlds only orange Dachshund, I'll be sure to post some pictures.






Sunday, January 11, 2015

Coffee Snobs

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   Thank goodness the holidays are behind us. Now I can finally enjoy some of the gifts that I received at Christmas. I've worn my new Carhartts, and the insulated Xtra- Tuff boots. I'm listening to some music that I downloaded from I tunes, I've got my cards for medical and dental insurance, commercial fishing licenses, Fred Meyers Awards card, Costco card, NRA card and a few others I can't recall right now, all safely stored in my new billfold, and I've already watched several movies that I received for Christmas. I was the happy recipient of more than a few packs of hoochies, which I can't use right now, but will in the near future.  I do however have a lot of use for one of my favorite beverages, coffee.  When I was a young lad back in Ohio my best friend, Don, and I used to go up to the Big Boy  restaurant, plop our skinny behinds in a booth and order coffee. I think we were about twelve at the time and in our juvenile minds, drinking coffee was quite a grown up thing to do. The waitresses were always gracious, returning time and again to refill our cups. Of course we were far too wimpy to drink it without copious amounts of cream and sugar. At the time a cup of coffee was ten cents. The grand total for our multiple cups was a whopping twenty cents- a bargain even in that day. Being the generous fellows we were, I believe we whipped out a quarter and told the waitress to keep the change. We probably used two dollars worth of sugar in the hour or so we spent tying up the booth. Of course the poor waitresses had to contend with the mountain of sugar packets that were littering the table, plus the spilled coffee, to say nothing of the lustful glares of adolescent boys. Frankly, I 'm surprised we weren't banned from the place. However, we weren't, and for a season we enjoyed our Saturday morning coffee at the Big Boy. At the time I believe the restaurant was serving Continental Coffee, or perhaps it was Chock Full of Nuts, either way, it was delightful. My dad used to drink Maxwell House- good to the last drop. Back in "the old days" there weren't any gourmet coffees available to the common man. You drank whatever the supermarket carried and you were happy with it. While I was on the farm I believe the coffee of choice was Hills Brothers. Now, much to my children's dismay, we drink (gasp) Folgers. I can usually buy it fairly cheap at Costco, so I stock up on three or four cans at a time. I've yet to have received a can of Folgers, or any other national brand of coffee that I know of for Christmas. This year my granddaughter gave me some cowboy coffee- Morning Light. It says it's  Charlie Russell Blend. I guess he was the original cowboy. I'll have to take their word on it. I'm not sure what cowboys know about brewing coffee, but it tastes pretty good. My daughter gave us some Kauai Coffee. The bag says it's single origin estate grown.Whatever that means. It's grown in Hawiaai though,so I guess that's good. I have another bag of coffee from the Big Island of Hawaii. It says it's 100% Kona coffee. It's sold by the Mulvadi Corporation. Sounds like they ought to sell fancy liquors or clothes. It just goes to show how far we've come in our appreciation of coffee. Last but not least, I've got a bag of Starbucks. Probably the name most associated with gourmet coffee in America.  This particular bag is Colombian medium roast. I don't see a picture of Juan Valdez,the Colombian coffee dude on the bag, but maybe they didn't have room for him, with all the other advertising. Just a bit of trivia, the original Juan Valdez's real name was Jose Duval. I' don't know what happened to him. Maybe he didn't like donkeys.  The guy playing Juan now is Carlos Sanchez.  Seems like a nice guy, but I haven't seen him for awhile. Anyway, I appreciate the fancy coffees. The bottom line is though, unlike my kids, I'm not a coffee snob. I'm perfectly content with my Folgers, so next year, if you want to stick some in a fancy sack and give it to me, I'll be just as happy. Meanwhile, drink up! Or as they say in coffee drinking circles, Grab life by the beans! Ooooh, sounds painful.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Vegetable Soup



















  Thunderation! Can you believe it's January 5th already? Time flies when you're having fun huh? I decided to start off my new year right by making a big pot of vegetable soup with venison roast. Actually, I made two pots. I had been bragging about my culinary abilities to several friends and there was quite a bit of interest in my soup. Rather than suffering the humiliation of promising something and then not delivering, I thought I'd better follow through, so I thawed out my last two venison roasts and proceeded to cook. Frankly, that soup came out great! I'd like my name to be mentioned in the same breath as Martha Stewart, Julia Child and Wolfgang Puck. I think I could give the Campbell's Soup company a run for their money. Tom's Soups and Stews- even if you're not hungry, you'll enjoy a bowl of Tom's. Actually I don't use anything special, four or five potatoes, a white onion, cabbage, a one pound bag of Western Family frozen mixed vegetables, a small venison roast and diced tomatoes. Therein lies the secret. I use one can of regular old diced tomatoes and one can of S&W diced tomatoes with jalapeno. That little bit of jalapeno adds adds just the right amount of heat to make the soup stand up and sing. After you've  tried a bowl you might want to stand up and sing too. It's that good. Or at least I think so. Anyway, soup is a nice thing to have on a cold winter's night. Jen just called and she is going to bring some homemade bread over to have with the soup tonight. Holy crow! Jan made pumpkin pie last night and there's still some of that left, plus she had cooked up some fresh cranberries yesterday, so we'll be eating pretty high on the hog tonight. When my son Brian was here for Thanksgiving he shot a deer that he split with Jen and us, which is what we're using for the soup. As I mentioned, unfortunately it's the last of the roasts, so I probably won't be making any more veggie soup for awhile. The last time I was in Ohio though I ate the most wonderful cheddar potato soup at a Bob Evans restaurant, so I guess that might be my next project, although Jan's been pushing for corn chowder. We'll see. In any event, I hope that this new year brings you all a great deal of prosperity and happiness. While the winter winds are blowing and the snow piles up, I hope you stay warm, hunker down and enjoy a bowl of homemade soup. Bon Appetit!