Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sweet and Fresh

I finally got around tonight to working on a recipe I've been mulling over in my head for quite some time. The idea was to take a savory dish and make a sweet dessert version. It started back when I noticed the similarity in appearance between the juices of two specific fruit. From there, I thought about parallels in appearance and texture between other sweet and savory produce. The result was a tasty cold dessert soup:

Fruit Gazpacho

2 cups pureed seedless watermelon
1/2 cup seedless watermelon, fine dice
(even seedless watermelon has a few seeds -- I know -- so make sure they're removed)
2 kiwi fruit, peeled and fine dice
1 large Fuji apple
1/4 cup strawberries, fine dice
1 tbsn sugar
1 pinch salt
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp finely chopped fresh spearmint

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the apple. This is an inmportant point since the lime juice will prevent the oxidation of the apple. Peel, core, and dice the apple (fine dice). Serve in a chilled bowl and garnish with mint sprig.

Serves 4-6

Monday, June 29, 2009

Job Hunt

Had an interview on Thursday and two more today -- a retirement home, a residential facility for mentally handicapped adults, and a winery restaurant. All three have positives and negatives to them. I'll hear back starting around Friday.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Portland, Oregon

Jack White and the great Loretta Lynn. Pity country stations wouldn play this or any song off her album "Van Lear Rose", because it didn't fit their definition of "country" (which these days is damned little else than pop with a southern twang), and ironic that an icon of rock music, a genre so often mocked by "country" singers, showed her greater adoration.

Miss Loretta, Ma'am, thank you for the song.

The Sunset Side of the Mountain

My sentiments exactly. As a country western fan, I've grown tired of the way "country" music has evolved to represent southerners as the last vanguard of rural America. Despite the "Left Coast" culture of our cities, the Western US is still very much country.

And yes, we really are the sons and daughters of the pioneers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where There's Smoke There's Flavor

Fired up the Old 97 (my smoker) today and made pulled pork from a picnic ham -- not as good as a Boston butt would have been, but I was nonetheless please with the outcome. I've become much better at pulled pork and ribs than at brisket. And strangely enough, I'm ok with that, since in the last couple of years I've developed a preference for pork over beef. And I'm still perfecting my Northwest riff on barbecue. Tonight it was pulled pork (smoked with alder, cherry, and apple) with blackberry barbecue sauce and coleslaw with dried cranberries on potato bread, sweet corn on the cob, and grilled asparagus. Of course we had sweet tea, but I think if I really want to go with the Northwest theme, I should be growing and making my own spearmint tea.

I Love My State, But I Think We Should Start Seeing Other People

A Tip of the Toque to ZZMike in the Comments over at Oregon Guy:

Even the folks at the Wall Street Journal are noticing how bad things are here in lil' ol' Oregon. Now those of you who aren't local can see why the job hunt has been so challenging for me. Unemployment almost as high as Michigan, taxes higher than anywhere but New York City? I'm not sure how much longer we can keep this up. Right now TFR's income is keeping our heads above water, but since she works in a "luxury" service industry, on commission, she's been seeing smaller paychecks, and we're starting to have to make decisions about what we can afford to keep doing or not. Unless things get better soon, we don't know if we can even afford to stay.

But where can we go? My family live in... wait for it... Michigan. And eleven years in San Diego taught me something important: I can't live somewhere that makes me miserable, no matter how much I make. Maybe for a year or two, but not for much longer. Oregon is the only place I've ever felt was "Home", and the things that define it regionally are the very properties that make it feel that way -- the forests and mountains, the pace of life, the solitude, the mild climate. I would be hard-pressed to find anyhere else with this combination of facotrs.

But unless things pick up for TFR and I find work soon, I may have to bite the bullet and start looking beyond Oregon.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bring The Noise

Ok, I got this idea from a comment on Fox News. I'm not sure how effective it is, but it's worth a shot.

Most, in fact almost all, of the information coming out of Iran regarding the uprising is being sent via the internet, mostly social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. and the government is doing everything they can do to crack down on it -- tracking down the tweeters, bloggers, etc., and doing what they can to shut them down.

So the suggestion that was made was for those of us in the west who blog, twitter, facebook, etc. to change our location to Tehran and our time zome to GMT+3:30. The idea is that any time you post, it creates one more hit that appears from within Iran that the authorities there have to investigate and try to block (good bloody luck, you savage bastards: I'm out of your reach. Here's hoping you fail in your attempts to quell your people's urge for freedom).

So if you're reading this, and you blog, or tweet (or whatever it's called on Twitter), or have Facebook or MySpace, I'm asking you to follow suite and change your settings. And if you're an Iranian who stumbles across this site, we're with you: The world is watching, the world is behind you, the world wants you to win your freedom. And if you're an Iranian censor, here's hoping I made your job all that much harder.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Obama Plays Neighbor to Iran's Kitty Genovese

A Tip of the Toque to Another Black Conservative.


Apparently, the pleas of the Iranians mean squat to Obama. He's afraid that anything he does, or hell, even SAYS, stronger than expressing "concern", will appear to be "Meddling". The presidential election of a country on the verge of being a nuclear power is stolen, its people take to the streets in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, only to be attacked by truncheon-wielding security forces, and he's worried that we might offend someones sensibilities.

Go back to my post yesterday, and follow the link to Boston.com's photo essay. Click on the photos that have the strong content warning. Tell me that isn't more offensive than anything the President might say to Iran.

Meanwhile, IowaHawk converts Obamas politicospeak into sports lingo.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Quote of the Day Decade

A tip of the toque to the Llama Butchers.


- Melika, a commenter at a Boston.com article on the protests in Iran.

If this doesn't break your heart, I have no hope for you. Don't turn your heads. Don't wait for it to pass. Keep watching, keep speaking out, keep supporting the Iranians, keep the fires burning.

Moments like this only happen once in an era for any country. What happens next is still up in the air. This could be another Boston Tea Party, another Velvet Revolution, another Berlin Wall falling down -- or it could be Prague 1968, it could be Russia, it could be the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, it could be another... Tiananmen. Does the uprising survive? Is it crushed? Does it evolve into Democracy, or does it devolve into chaos? Time will tell. But one thing is for sure: If we in the West do not support the Iranians, do not help them get the word out, do not put pressure on our politicians to keep up the pressure on the government of Iran, Iran very well COULD end up being just another Tiananmen, a massacre at the hands of the security troops.

The Iranians are shouting: they're shouting for their freedom; their voice; their vote. But they're also crying: crying for help; for succor; for shelter; for support.

Don't turn a deaf ear to them now. Don't think that if we let them fall back into tyranny and terror that we won't pay the price ourselves some day. "Then they came for the Jews...."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Feeling Pretty Down

Received an email rejection today for a job for which I interviewed just before we left for Florida, one I really wanted. So far, since the layoff, I've submitted close to 50 resumes and applications, and only had 3 interviews. In one of those three, I was rejected before the interview was over, and in the one that was mildly promising, I'll probably have to settle for part-time work instead of full-time, because of this trip.

One of these days I'm going to write an autobiography, and entitle it "How to be Worthless by 40".

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Finally Got to See Gators

Yesterday we went for a nature walk/interpretive tour at Six Mile Cypress, a 9-mile long slough that leads from the Caloosahatchee (sp?) to the Gulf. Among the different things we saw were several young (1-2 years old) alligators. Today we went to a working ranch and nature preserve called Babcock Ranch and saw several adults, including a big 7-footer. We also got to hold and pet one young gator they've been using for orientation presentations, he'll be ready to release soon. I was amazed at how soft their skin is.

Tomorrow we visit the Ford & Edison Winter Estates, where my in-laws are volunteer docents. Saturday's a rest day, Sunday and Monday will be spent at Busch Gardens in Tampa, and Tuesday we fly home.

Tomorrow I'll be hearing back about the job opportunity for which I interviewed just before leaving. I'll let you all know how it goes.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Having Now Tried Gator....

No, it DOESN'T taste like chicken. At least, not to me. OK, maybe a little like dark meat chicken, but it reminded me more of very tender pork, with maybe just a hint of chicken and catfish to it. A little sweet, surpisingly tender. I'd have enjoyed more of it, but The Lad wolfed down half the plate.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Gulf Coast Impressions

Well, as of tomorrow, I'll have been on the Gulf Coast of Florida for a whole week, and so far my impressions have been favorable. Sure, in some ways it has disappointed, but it has pleasantly surprised me just as much, and lived up to my expectations in other ways, so on the average the impression is favorable:

The one thing I wanted to see more than anything else was a wild alligator. Has not happened yet.

I have been told repeatedly by my wife that this is a much better place than the Pacific for hunting for seashells. While I readily admit that the variety of shells here is far greater than in the cooler waters of the Pacific Northwest, the surf here has proven so far to be as harsh as any with regards to the natural destruction of shells.

Florida drivers are frickin' insane. Seriously -- they scare me, and not in an "I'm impressed and intimidated" way, but in an "I fear for my life" way.

Ft. Myers reminds me of a cross between San Diego and Houston, but with a fraction of the population. Ft. Myers Beach in particular reminds me of Mission Beach/Mission Bay in San Diego, and Sanibel and Captiva Islands remind me a lot of Coronado. But with smaller crowds. And friendlier people. And humidity.

Lord, have sweet mercy, the humidity. And it isn't even "bad" yet. Thank Merciful Jesus I'll be gone before that benchmark is reached.

Haven't seen a gator yet. I want my money back.

It's odd to be in a place with an about even mix of southern and New York/New Jersey accents. Every time I meet someone, I'm waiting to see if they'll greet us as "Y'all" or "Youse Guys".

I can't compare it to Oregon, it's like apples and oranges (never was there a more fitting metaphor, given we're talking about Florida and the Pacific Northwest), but I can compare it to California, and may my mother forgive me, but I think I prefer Florida. With a caveat:

If you only want to, or can only afford to, live in one place year round, and want more varied options in terms of act9vities, including activities normally not associated with beaches or the troppics, pick Cali. Skiing, wine country, the desert, mountain climbing, Yosemite, etc. If you can pull off the snowbird thing, or are happy with a warm, summery, beach-style lifestyle, head for Florida. I swear I'm transmorphing into Jimmy Buffet. This plase is like (San Diego-Crowds)x(affordability+friendliness).

Yesterday was my 41st Birthday, and after taking me to dinner, the Inlaws gave us a walking tour of Downtown Ft. Myers. Friday nights is Art Walk night, so all the galleries were open to the public late, and giving out free hors d'ouevres and minimally priced "Adult refreshments". Relax, California and ORegon, wine is the one arena in which you still kick Floridian hiney. HOWEVER, I have a new favorite cigar maker. Rocky Patel is out of Bonito Bay, Florida. His Connecticut 1997 (Connecticut shade wrapper, Nicaraguan filler) was one of the smoothest, mildes smokes I've ever had, and it was only $8 in a shop where my old fave (the Macanudo Hampton Court) was $11, yet the Rocky compared favorably to it.

I haven't been following politics too closely. Did Obama apologize for American arrogance and aggression in invading France, a country that wasn't even our enemy, back in 1944?

Anyone know where I can see an alligator?

I even got flirted with last night, by someone other that TFR. A woman complimented me on my Panama hat (authentic, made in Ecuador as all real Panama hats are), and gave me that sly, sweet smile. Obviously, I merely thanked her and went my merry married way, but still and all, it was a damned nice boost to what is these days a very bruised ego.

Florida's too damned flat for me to live here year round, but I could see myself snowbirding some day.

Speaking fo the flat terrain, it's weird being able to see weather coming, and going, and missing you by miles, so far off. As a son of the mountains, I'm used to having my weather give me maybe 10 minutes warning, tops, before it's on top of me.

Still waiting for my gator sighting.

But tomorrow, I get to eat what I have not yet seen -- they appearently serve gator nuggets at the Ft. Myers flea market. Yum....

Really wish we could get down to the Everglades before we head home, but we don't have the money for an airboat, and without that, I'm not sure it's worth the trip.

I am still in communications with a job opportunity back home that I really, really, really, REALLY want. Keep me in your thoughts/prayers.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Where's Sous-do?

As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged in nigh unto a month. So where am I, ad up to what have I been?

Well, as you all know, I was job searching immediately following my layoff from the school job. I found a tentative part-time position, starting later in June, but in the meantime I'm still exploring other options.

All of that is on hold for the time being.

Well prior to the layoff, TFR booked us tickets to visit her parents, starting on the 31st of May and extending until June 16th. That is where we currently are -- the tickets are non-refundable.

My In-Laws live in Ft. Myers, Florida.

The trip has had its ups and downs -- mostly ups -- but let us dispense with the downs.

To save money on airfare (a significant amount), we took the red eye from Portland to Houston, leaving at 11:45 PM PDT and arriving at IAH at 5:30 AM CDT. I did not sleep a wink. I finally slumbered on the drive from Tampa to Ft. Myers. I still have not completely adjusted to the time change, and find myself unable to sleep at night and nodding off at various inopportune moents throught the day.

On the other hand...

I've slept in every morning. Happy hour starts at 4 PM. Daily activities consist of lounging by the pool, swimming in the pool, grilling near the pool, and eating/drinking as we gaze at the beautiful sky beyond the pool.

I'm partially wresting with guilt and frustration generated from not yet being gainfully employed, but between months of unabated work and weeks of nearly fruitless job searching, this is my first real vacation in quite some time. I'm also enjoying the Florida climate more than I expected -- this early in the season, it's not THAT muggy yet. I could easily see myself wintering in Florida and summering in Oregon.

Hell, if I had the money, I would retire today.