Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Too Slow, 'Pokes

It's good to be a Ducks fan today. It's even better being a Ducks fan in San Diego (where we're on vacation right now). Everywhere we go we've seen people in their school colors, and it got old seeing a lot more Oklahoma State fans than Oregon fans. Finally the last couple of days we started seeing more Green and Yellow. Yesterday we bumped in to some fellow Quacker Backers at the beach, and got to talking about the ESPN fan polls, and the fact that over 90% of the people voting nationwide expected the Cowboys to win.

Apparently they didn't count on the added motivation for the Ducks provided by playing a team whose colors are orange and black and whose initials are OSU. Beavers fans could have warned them. Oregon won last nights game 42-31.

I was particularly pleased that the nail in the coffin lid was provided by a touchdown run by LeGarrett Blount. He's dating one of TFR's co-workers, and I had the honor of meeting him and talking a bit at their work holiday party. He's a quiet, humble, likeable young man. He's also a juggernaut whom you do NOT try to arm tackle. It's going to be fun to watch him run over the top of Ducks' opponents for another full season next year.

There was extra sentimental significance to this game for me. The last time Oregon played in the Holiday Bowl was 2000, when they beat Texas in an even closer barn-burner. That was the last time I was in San Diego for Christmas, and my mom bought tickets to the game for the men in the family. It was a wonderful time -- Texas fans are incredibly boisterous and arrogant whn going ino or leading a game, and just as sullen and quiet in defeat. That would also prove to be the last football game father and I attenmy ded together before he passed away.

The rest of the vacation has been enjoyable -- we took The Lad to Dizzy Disneyland, we've been to the beach, and I've had a chance to visit my father's grave at Fort rosecrans National Cemetary. I'll add more when I get home, including pictures. In the meantime, Happy Holidays to everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Eat It Like It's Stollen -- Carnival of the Recipes, Christmas and Desserts Edition

Sorry, I've been waiting for months to use that pun. Christmas is probably my favorite time of the year, and DEFINITELY my favorite time for parties and festivities (ironically, also my favorite time for worship and reflection). I'm leaving on vacation in the morning, so it's going up early, if you submit late, I'll add you when I reach a computer in "Sun" Diego.

After being an off-and-on contributor to the CotR for years, I figured it was high time to host one, and what better time than the holidays? To justify the pun, I thought I'd let this edition focus on Christmas recipes, especially desserts. Unfortunately, I'm getting lots of festive recipes, but few desserts, so before we get to the desserts, let's treat this like a true party.

Starting with appetizers and drinks, I'll kick things off myself by getting everyone Nogged Up. Ben brings Seven Cheap Foods to Serve At Your Holiday Party, and Famous Recipes has a Famous Beef and Broccoli Pita Folds recipe that could easily be miniaturized for a great little Appy.

So now on to dinner. For the main course, Christmas Recipes presents Black-Eyed Peas and Ham Christmas Recipe, and Slow Cooker Recipes and Crockpot Recipes brings their Crockpot Honey Ham and Vegetables, but between Elisson's THREE BIRDS WITH ONE PAN, the Diabetic Recipes blog with their Diabetic Recipe for Lemon Chicken, Steamy Kitchen Modern Asian with their Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney, and Chicken Recipes' Chicken Pasta Primavera, Bird is DEFINITELY the word at this party. If you are looking for a Feast of Seven Fishes recipe, Famous Recipes Food and Cooking Weblog offers their World Famous Halibut with Garlic Sauce. for a break from the thematic, Chris presents Try these 7 incredible Indian dishes for your instant OM! moment.

Of course, you need a holiday side dish to go with your main course, so Richard Taylor presents How to Bake the Perfect Sweet Potato or Yam, and CzechFolks give us an ethnic flavor with Exploring Czech Food – Part VI - Famous Potato Salad (Poznavame Ceska Jidla – Cast VI - Slavny Bramborovy Salat).

Need a salad to lighten the palate after all that protein and starch? Then go nuts with this Famous Avocado Spinach and Walnut Salad recipe from World Famous Recipes.

I hope you saved room, because here come the desserts. Let it snow, or at least let me have some of MCs Oreo Snowball Truffles! EVLiving serves up some yummy Christmas Raspberry Muffins with Streusel Topping. If singing O Tannenbaum or Stille Nacht is your thing, try some German Christmas Cookies - They're Going Fast from makingthishome. Beth at Elizabeth Chandler Designs provides a more traditional holiday "twist" with her Orange Peel Candy. As if that weren't enough, Kris butters us up with Peanut Butter Banana Bread. More4Kids has some Fun and Tasty Christmas and Holiday Desserts, and Chef Tom closes out the evening with some Holiday Sugar Cookies to leave behind for Santa.

If you're not too hungover the next morning, and find yourself with a leftover turkey carcass, you might want to use it in Kris' recipe for a Tasty, rich stew.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Frosty the Meltman

A tip of the Toque to Edward John Craig at NRO, via Glenn Beck:

Boy, Greg Nickels must be proud.

Follow the link to NRO, and watch the video. This, apparently, is what passes for a "Holiday Pageant" in schools these days. Apparently they haven't really removed the religious content, they've merely switched religions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nogged Up

One of the interesting (and at time fun) things about marriage is the way in which you blend and synthesize family traditions -- bringing together his and hers, wedding them out, combining them, and adding your own. This is especially true during the holidays.

I grew up in a teetotaling family. My parents, especially my father, had strong aversions to alcohol. TFR, on the other hand, grew up in a family that drank, albeit in moderation. As I became an adult, on my own I developed a taste for (usually) moderate alcohol consumption. This time of year, I particularly developed a taste for spiked egg nog.

As luck would have it, TFR's family, specifically her mom, has a family recipe for home made egg nog. I'm sharing it with you now, although I HAVE modified it myself (remember the synthesis thing?) to reflect my preference for a blend of liquor -- her original called for all whiskey:


8 eggs
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup whiskey (Bourbon, to be precise, though Jack Daniels would do as well. Avoid Scotch/Irish/Canadian whiskies)
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup spiced rum
1 1/4 cup sugar (divided)
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup water

Separate eggs into whites and yolks.

Whip egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar until light in color. Pour all the liquor over mixture and set aside.

Combine egg whites and salt, beat to a stiff peak.

Whip the cream.

Make a syrup of 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cook to threading stage, pour hot syrup over the beaten egg whites to which salt has been added, folding carefully.

Fold yolks into the whites and then fold in whipped cream.

Garnish with nutmeg.

As it sits you will need to stir it a little. Keep cold.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stay Away from Runaround CU

Oh, it gets better. Monday, TFR went in to the nearest branch of The Credit Union That Shall Not Be Named. She was directed to a window where she was able to pay off that burdensome debt of $.26 that had hung over our head for all that time (days, even).

Then, with the car loan paid off, she was directed to a second window where she would be able to close out our savings account. But NOT, of course, until after they'd called me, on the phone number listed on our accound, asked me to verify my secret password, and gotten my permission to close the account. An understandable procedure, but under the circumstances, also a bit tiresome.

Especially since it wasn't even the last straw. Once she'd closed the account, she was given a check for the $10 left in it. A check which she was then directed to cash at... you guessed it... another window. But not just ANY other window, she found herself back at the first window, where she'd made the $.26 payment. They took the check from her (the one with which she'd trekked... feet), and gave her the cash.

And now, finally, we are done with that "bank".

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cents and Senlessness

Oh, for crying out loud. This is the kind of stupid thing you hear about in e-mail chain letters. I never thought it would happen to me. and although I admit it has not reached any level of severity, it is frustrating. Here's what happened:

About a year ago, due to an auto accident I was involved in, TFR and I found ourselves in the market for as car. We found one that dit our needs perfectly: a 1996 Subaru. We love it. We were able to use the insurance money to make a down payment, and secured a loan from a local credit union, which shall remain anonymous (though my local readers would recognize the name immediately).

In order to get the loan, we had to open a savings account at the C.U., with a minimum balance ($10 -- eh, it was a formality). Because we are attempting to rebuild our credit, we arranged for automatic payments and have studiously made sure that the account from which the payment was made always had sufficient funds on the day of the payment. A year later, and our final payment was in November. The car was paid off and is ours.


Due to some glitch in the credit union's system, a balance of $.26 was left in the account, and yesterday, we received a nasty past due notice, informing us that it will go on our credit report if we don't resolve it immediately. Understandably disturbed by this, I called the credit union and was assured that we have a ten day grace period. As long as we pay the balance off within that time, there will be no problems.

I immediately offered to make the payment on the spot, over the phone, to get it over with. Unfortunately, they do not have the technology in place to take a payment over the phone. Considering the circumstances that led to the phone call, I should not have been surprised.

The phone representative then went on to warn me that once the loan is paid off, it will be a closed account, and that since our savings account there will then be a stand-alone account and will have a balance of less than $100, we will begin incurring a $7 service charge each month.

So Either TFR or I get to take some time out of our already busy life (I'm working opening through closing on Friday), go to a nearby branch of the credit union, pay them TWENY-SIX CENTS, and then either deposit an additional $90 in the savings account, or close it.

Guess which we'll be doing