Freaky cleaning tip

I'm clumsy. Very clumsy. There's nothing I can't spill, break, or bump into. It's a gift. So it was no surprise when I spilled olive oil all over the kitchen counter and myself. I cleaned the counter, threw my jeans in the wash, and didn't think anymore of it ... until the jeans came out of the dryer and had a giant olive oil stain on them. You'd think I'd know how to treat a grease stain, but somehow I've managed to avoid that particular hazard all these years.

My reading indicated that once dried the stain was set and there was very little to do. I found one freaky suggestion to wash them again in hot water with a can of Coca-Cola and detergent. Figuring I couldn't make things worse, I dumped the last 10% of Kurt's 2 liter of Coke in the washer and gave it a go. The amazing thing: it worked! There might be a very faint shadow of the stain, but it is unnoticeable to anyone not looking for it. Unbelievable! I was certain I'd end up with a grease stain and a soda stain, but they look great. Of course, anyone sensible would just treat the grease stain up front with dishwashing soap or shampoo, but it's good to know there's a back up for stains that slip through and become set. Hurrah for Coke!

Photo by Ikescs


The best movie I've seen in ages

I've had a run of bad movies lately, so it came as a surprise when a documentary bucked the trend and had me totally engrossed the other evening. Man On Wire tells the story of Philippe Petit's amazing, insane, and illegal tightrope walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. The story is told as a heist movie using both footage from the time and recreations. While the fate of the WTC looms over the picture, the events of 9/11 are never mentioned. Even though I wonder about Petit's reaction, I think it was a smart decision to keep the movie focused on the tightrope walk. The achievement is remarkable in so many ways. Everything from the mental control and concentration it would take to venture across the rope to the intricate plans needed to gain access to the buildings and set up the rope seems nearly impossible. Several times I found myself pausing the dvd to say to Kurt, "I can't believe this really happened!" Petit isn't an entirely sympathetic character, but I can't help but admire his boldness and determination.

My rating: 10/10


Beginner's pie crust

I was intimidated by pie crust, but this method is easy and foolproof.

Beginner's pie crust
makes a top and bottom crust

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
5-6 T cold water

In a food processor, combine flour, shortening, and salt. Blend until pea size chunks form. While processing, sprinkle in 1 T cold water at a time until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in cling wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide the dough in half, and roll it out between two sheets of wax paper.

Shortening is recommended for beginners because it is easier to work with than butter. An all shortening crust will be more tender but less flavorful than one made with butter.


Homemade soda!

I am obsessed with homemade soda. The flavors are crisp and bright and lack the cloying sweetness of traditional soda. To make Italian soda, simply add 1-2 oz Torani flavored syrup to 8 oz club soda and serve over ice. A splash of milk or a topping of whipped cream will turn your Italian soda into a French soda or creamosa.

Torani offers a great range of flavors. You can find them online or at Cost Plus World Market in Carmel. While Cost Plus doesn't stock every flavor, they had a decent selection, including several more obscure choices like guava and blood orange. The syrups can also be used to flavor coffee or tea or be served over ice cream. I plan to add a splash of peach syrup to my next batch of sun tea.

Photo by Justonlysteve


Scenes from Japan: Pachinko

It was crazy loud. I only lasted long enough to take this picture.


Not feeling the love

We made a wrong turn and had to turn around at the GM plant in Ft. Wayne. Thankfully we were in Kurt's car (American), not my car (Not American).

At the entrance
It was the only part of the lot not clean
You can almost see your destination


It's been 20 years?

How can it possibly have been 20 years since the Tiananman Square protests? Great shots at The Big Picture. #16 is the iconic image that most of us remember. My favorites are of the candlelight vigil in Hong Kong this year.

Photo by FlickrLickr

Man cold!

Thanks to John for the link!


Quite possibly the worst place on Earth

No brainer dinner: Easy spaghetti sauce

Arrabbiata Sauce

45 oz canned whole peeled tomatoes with juice
1/4 c olive oil
1/2-1 t crushed red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like things
1 t dried or 1 T fresh chopped oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes with juice and olive in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium. Reduce for 45-50 minutes (if it reduces too much, just add back a little water). As the tomatoes reduce, break them up with a wooden spoon. Puree until smooth. Season with crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Makes enough for 1 pound of pasta.

Arrabiata means "angry mood" in Italian. The sauce is spicy and sharp with a bright flavor. It goes well with bruschetta.


Please Hammer, don't hurt us!

According to this article at ABC News, Hammer pants are back in style. Both Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren included them in their fall collections. The cut is the same; the only difference is the fabric - tasteful wool in place of Hammer's vibrant satin.

I'm all for retro, but Hammer pants? Really? I guess it's one more reason to be glad that I'm hopelessly out of style.

Photo by ldhren

Summer favorite: Spicy veggie couscous

Spicy Veggie Couscous

1 cup couscous
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 T olive oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 t salt
1/2-1 t crushed red pepper flakes (depending how on spicy you like things)
1/2 t yellow curry powder
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t black pepper
2 t butter

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook couscous in broth until done. Fluff with fork.

Saute squash, zucchini, and onion in olive oil over medium heat until tender, 6-8 minutes.

Combine couscous, vegetables, chickpeas, and spices. Put in casserole dish and dot with butter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


My kind of holiday

Tomorrow is National Donut Day! Krispy Kreme is giving away free donuts, and Dunkin' Donuts is offering a free donut with the purchase of any drink. The DD toasted coconut donut is seriously delicious (and I don't usually like coconut). Happy crullers!

Photo by Dake at Wikimedia Commons



Ballpark Eats

The New York Times has an interactive map of the best ballpark food around the country. We visited their recommendation, Leo's Coney Island, on our recent trip to Comerica Park and weren't disappointed.

Kurt went with the NYT approved traditional gyros while I tried the chicken gyros. Both were excellent with high quality meat, fresh veggies, soft pita bread, and tangy tzatzki. The portions were large, and at $6.25, it is one of the best deals in a venue where hot dogs and slices of Little Caesar's pizza sell for $5 apiece. There aren't many vegetarian options in the park (unless you are ok with nachos for dinner), so the vegetarian pita was a welcome sight on the menu.

Be sure to bring your ticket along. They have a street entrance as well as a park entrance, and you will need your ticket to return to the game. Leo's is located on the outer perimeter of ground level just past first base. It's small and tucked back in a corner but definitely worth tracking down.

Tigers: 4, Rockies: 3

Sorry for the lull in posting! I was up in Michigan for the week. Among other things, I got to see the Tigers beat the Rockies at Comerica Park. If you're ever in Detroit, don't miss a chance to visit. They have fireworks after the game every Friday and Saturday night.