Sunday, June 26, 2016

Father's day

A friend from church pointed out to me a few days ago that our priest, Father Justus, would be celebrating his year's anniversary with us.


It felt like just yesterday he got here.  I wonder what it feels like to him. Probably 10 years HAHAHAHAHAA.

Anyway we swung into action and today we had a special party for him at the breakfast after Mass. One of our number brought in this loud purple cake. I have never seen frosting that purple. Another friend brought a beautiful festive cake piled high with snow-white frosting.

And this is the greatest: Our friend Joan put together a bag of goodies for Father Justus. He lives at St. Rose of Lima with a few other great priests we know and Joan had put together this man-cave assortment of treats. There was a six-pack, this being Buffalo, and Father Justus liking beer. And Doritos and other chips and nacho cheese dip and pretzels, all this stuff that guys eat. Joan is a genius! Above is a picture of the party at St. Rose of Lima they will have with the gift pack.

But back to time flying. Here it was today 90 degrees. The church had that deep summer feel, the fans oscillating, the doors open. The men sweltering in their suit jackets. Hats off to them for keeping their jackets on, you know? I do not know how they do it to be honest.

And it was just a few months ago that it was 5 below zero! I remember that distinctly because by that time I was helping with the coffee hour, and I got there early along with a few other people, and we were all laughing and waving at each other because of the triumph we felt, getting there on this morning when it was 5 below zero. I think that was in March. It was not long ago.

Buffalo, you cannot say we do not get our seasons.

I hope Father Justus is enjoying it!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday, unlimited

This morning I went downtown to my Pilates class. And at the end of class, as we were doing our final stretches and clearing our minds, the teacher said something I loved.

She said to be open to all the endless possibilities that the day had to offer!

Isn't that a wonderful thing to be told on a Saturday?

And so I went forward ready to be open to these possibilities. I went to Tops and the possibilities were endless because, I don't know what it was about today, Buffalo was like Paris in August, when everyone leaves. No one was around! King Arthur flour was on sale for $3.99 and so I bought White Whole Wheat and regular bread Whole Wheat. I had a leisurely conversation with the checkout gal about our various baking projects. She was afraid of baking with yeast and I was telling her how easy it was.

My day continued. I got home and my friend Michelle -- Brunette Michelle this is -- texted me asking if I wanted to go to Ashker's in Delaware Park for a smoothie or lemonade. I said OK! I had book work and church baking to do, but it is good to take exercise. And so I walked to Ashker's.

And lo, it turned out Michelle had just come from getting her hair cut. She has told me about this great guy who cuts her hair, which always looks great, and I have been wanting to go to him.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, a half an hour later there I am getting my hair cut! This wonderful hair cutter whose name is Todd operates out of his apartment and he could fit me in. He cuts hair for fun on the weekends. It is not his actual job. But it used to be and he was trained in Milan. Is this a wonderful world or what?

Todd fussed over me and I love this, at one point he asked me to stand up, and he walked around me making adjustments to my hair, clipping this and that. No one has ever done that before in my memory. The windows were open and you could see this long string of beautiful North Buffalo yards. Birds were singing. There was no mirror so I did not have to worry about how the haircut was coming along.

Then we walked together to the bathroom and he showed me.

Holy cow.

I looked great!!

Walking home I passed a garage sale. I bought a pitcher and an ice cream scoop.

La la la la la la la la.

I love doing this of a Saturday, just bombing around. I took the picture up above. What a beautiful day.

Full of endless possibilities!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mad about Howard Cosell

On Facebook my friend Daryle started a discussion of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell which led me to remember Mad magazine and Howard Cosell.

All I know about Cosell is what was in my older brother Tony's Mad magazines!

With which, I went looking on Google for Mad magazine stuff on Howard Cosell, so I could splash it up on Daryle's Facebook wall and annoy him, as he was in the middle of a serious discussion. I found examples of what I was looking for. Memory served me, as it always does when it comes to trivia and useless stuff. But alas and son of a sea cook, I could not find any imagery big enough to blow up and show off.

However. I found all other kinds of classic stuff. Such as the corny cover up above. I was describing this cover to Howard the other day because he eats corn really neatly, every single kernel just so. This is my Howard, Howard Goldman, we are talking about here. Not Howard Cosell! I do not know how he ate corn.

Continuing down our Mad memory lane... I found stuff I had never seen before. Like this:

Mad always loved hippie stuff. Such rich material.

Where else would you be seeing this stuff? Nowhere, that's where.

You forget that before Kennedy was assassinated he was the target of humor.

Can we hang this sign up now?

This is amazing. Perhaps my favorite of the lot.

Ha, ha! This is the great thing about writing on a Web log every day. You do not need anything earth shattering to warrant writing about. You can just put what is in your head. And today Mad magazine was in my head, thanks to my friend Daryle and his mention of Howard Cosell.

Click on any of these to study them in detail.

You know you want to!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Close encounter with Muhammad Ali

What with everything being written about the death of Muhammad Ali I have to chime in with my brother George's story.

He was in Atlantic City some years ago, bombing around. I used to bomb around with him sometimes too and so did my sister Katie. We would just drive around here and there. Ah, freedom, you know? Before you were working all the time.

Anyway, George was at a boxing match, or something, and all of a sudden there was this bustle and commotion.

"Make way! Make way!" men were calling out.

By the way that is a phrase I love, "Make way."

They were bringing Ali through. It was like royalty passing by. And as Muhammad Ali passed him, George reached out and patted his back.

Reach out and touch someone, as the old telephone ad went! That is what George did. He seized the moment!

He said he can still remember how it felt. As anyone would who had patted the back of Muhammad Ali, is all I can figure.

George and I were talking yesterday about how Muhammad Ali in our memories had always been elderly. We could not believe he was only 74, or 75, I have seen it reported both ways. We thought he would be about 100. It is a tragedy he got Parkinson's, and so young. Because of Leonard Pennario, speaking of the greatest, I know a thing or two about Parkinson's.

So there it is, a genuine close encounter with Muhammad Ali. Few people can boast of having had one. But my brother George can!

And so can my friend Jerry Sullivan at The Buffalo News. That is a strange little story he has to tell, in a way not unlike my brother George's.

Me, I have none. But weep not for me, I have seen my share of greatness.

And will continue to do so!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Loyalist bread

Just because it is 80 degrees and sunny out does not mean that the oven is not on.

I found the greatest recipe last week and earmarked it for Sunday's church coffee hour. It is historic and it sounds delicious.

It is Loyalist Bread!

Usually I look for cookbooks that are sexy, as we say in the newspaper business. I like glossy pictures, vintage graphics. However. Once in a while I go for an oldie without any of these amenities, some hoary old 1970s or '80s cookbook you would not look at twice, a cookbook neither old nor new enough to be sexy.

Such a find was Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, Revised and Expanded.

I am going to be revised and expanded by the time I am through with this book! At the top of this post is a painting of me, revised and expanded, baking Loyalist Bread.

Anyway, I found this book some damn where, as Billie Holiday would say, and it turns out it came out in 1973 and is pretty much the Bible of bread. Looking around the 'Net now I find discussions of the book, such as here.

There is all this stuff in there plus interesting descriptions and explanations. Pain Au Cumin, or Cumin Bread. Kaiser rolls. Cinnamon Oatmeal bread, Egg Harbor Bread. Big breads, small breads, yeast breads, quick breads, vegetable breads, pastries, Challah, Kolach and Pain de Campagne Madame Doz, which is Madame Doz's Peasant Loaf. I am just flipping through the book at random.

Ah, look! Barm Brack. It is an Irish tea bread traditional on All Hallows' Eve. That must be tried.

But back to Loyalist Bread. It does indeed refer to the folks loyal to George III during the American Revolution. They scattered to Canada and brought with them their recipes and this was one. It is a blueberry bread. It makes an enormous amount of batter which you then spoon into two loaf pans. I took great pleasure in using two loaf pans that look as if they date to Revolutionary times.

The loaves have to sit in the oven for an hour and a half during which time you go off and get your scholarly work done.

At press time, Loyalist Bread is sitting in the Bosch in its Fort Niagara pans. If the bread turns out well -- which, at the moment it smells great -- I will post the recipe.

I am looking forward to loafing my way through this book.

I expect to be a  loyalist!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Cheers, big ears

How coincidental is this, yesterday I wrote about the Birthday Bunny and today I was in Allentown and met him in person. That is he pictured above!

It was in Black Cat Vintage on Allen Street. We like to walk there on the first Friday of the month when the stores and galleries are open and they give you beer and stuff. Click on the picture and you will see what an adorable store it is.

And what an adorable stuffed animal. So serious looking. So big.

Another shot showing its adorable outfit. Love the Elizabethan ruff!

It had a price tag that read $357. And just in case that was not out of your budget, another tag said, "NFS." Not for sale.

That is lucky. The house is already too crowded! Though it would be fun to have this thing greet me along with Jeoffry when I come home from work.

I could say to it, "Cheers, Big Ears!"

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The birthday bunny

My birthday was yesterday and it was good.

Howard gave me 96 Crayola Crayons and a bottle of ...

... and a WBIG TV T-shirt. That is all you need in life if you ask me. Aside from some Leonard Pennario records of course. I tried out the crayons and I sipped some Jagermeister and today I wore the WBIG T-shirt to the gym.

Other things happened too. My family was so nice to me. The people at work were so nice to me. My Facebook friends were so nice to me. People are so sweet, you know?

And another thing about my birthday, I got to go swimming! At a real beach. The water was cold and I was the only one bold enough to go and dive right in. But I did.

That is the greatest, to go swimming on your birthday. I make birthday resolutions the way people sometimes make New Year's resolutions. And one resolution is to go swimming more often, inside or out. Even if it is just at LA Fitness. Swimming does not do me personally much good. I could swim every day and not feel a thing. But it is relaxing.

So beautiful to float in the water and look up in the sky. To do somersaults and flips in the water. I got water up my nose once and it reminded me of when I was a kid.

Nice time all around. Nice day. Nice start to the next year of my life.

Here is another resolution I am making and I do not want anyone to get irritated,  but I would like to try to write something every day. I did that for a while and looking back I am happy I did. If you write something down every day, no matter how dumb, it does something for you. You have to look at your day and say, something happened to me today. I had some thought about something. And you search your memory of the day, and you write something down.

It does not take long. Once you have your thought it takes five minutes. Above is a painting of me by Finnish artist Albert Edelfeldt of me writing down my thoughts. He had trouble doing the painting because I was through with my task so fast. As Merlin tells Arthur in "Camelot": "Do not worry too much about what women are thinking. They don't do it very often."

Ha, ha! That was when you could be politically incorrect. Long story short, I liked all the trivial things I wrote down. In the past when I was writing every day, or most days at least, I would write down so many conversations with my mother. I would never remember them now if I had not written them down. And all these things I bought at garage sales, I would never remember where I got them, had I not written it down. How prudent of me!

Anyway, I am going to be writing more often. If you are a Facebook friend and it comes up too often and vexes you, block me or something, I won't be offended.

This is going to be a good year.

I just have a feeling.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mary, get your gun

You know me, the minute it hits 80 degrees, that oven goes on!

I feel like baking.  It is just how it is. Sunday is approaching, and the coffee hour. And so this evening I decided it was time to test out the Mirro cookie press.

This was a reward after a day of hard work. I read up on how to make Spritz cookies successfully and then I just had at it. I used a traditional Betty Crocker recipe. I whirred it up in the World War II Mixmaster, selected a pinwheel pattern, fit the dough into the Mirro press and --


OK, I got some cookies that were not too bad. But mostly I just could not quite get the hang of it. I will work on it! But the good news is --

Here is where it is great to be me. Upstairs the other day when I was looking for something else, I found a 1950s Cookie Chef Trig-A-Matic Pastry Gun. Just like this one in the picture.

It was still in its original box.

With a price tag attached, $2. That seems to be the going rate I pay for these things. The Mixmaster had also been $2.

Frustrated by my incompetence with the Mirro, I did not have a hope in the world this Cookie Chef gun would work. But I read the instructions on the box. Then I scraped up all my mistake cookies and packed the dough into the gun, and ...


I pulled the trigger and I thought, I will believe this when I see it. But lo. I lifted up the gun and there was this perfect little flower cookie.

I pulled it again and there was another.

This thing is perfect!. Looking through my holdings I see I have another model too, a plastic pastry gun made in West Germany. It is quaint to have things made in West Germany. But I cannot imagine it topping this Trig-a-Matic. Those cookies up at the top? They are mine!

Lots of fun to be had for what, $1.50? That is about what you pay for a half pound of butter.

Flour power, flower power --

Whatever it is, it works!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Just a Spritz

I am noticing that I am writing only about every 10 days, and that about something fattening. That must change! But meanwhile ...

There is this cookie press.

I bought this vintage Mirro cookie press for $4 at this wonderful estate sale that Lizzie and I went to on Saturday. I bought a few other things at that sale too that were, ahem, a little bit bigger. But first things first! This is a Mirro press with all these disks that let you shape a whole bunch of fancy little cookies.

This press comes with 20 little discs! They fit into a wooden holder like the discs up above.

If I want to hold a bridge party such as the ones Leonard Pennario went to, I can do cookies in spades, not to mention hearts, clubs, and diamonds.

For Christmas cookies I can make stars, Christmas trees, wreaths, and camels. I love how they include camels. I'd walk a mile for a camel!

It's funny, most people associate these cookies with Christmas. I do not, necessarily. We made Spritz cookies a few times but they were not an immovable part of our Christmas so I do not see why you cannot make these little darlings all year.

Especially the flower cookies! They would be in season right about now.

Haha... Up above where I got that picture, I found this Web log. This woman had the same troubles I am anticipating having which is why I am holding off on trying this press until the time is right. Wouldn't you know she zeroed in on the same shape I was thinking of trying, too: the pinwheel/flower shape. She concluded that others are easier.

It will take time to master this thing! I will probably start off a Spritz ditz. But heck, if I can play Chopin on the piano, I can do this. Perhaps I will try some for next coffee hour. I was going to soar like an eagle and attempt a Bundt cake. But now perhaps I will try Spritzies.

The power of the press!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Betty Crocker and me

One more day of sugary desserts and then we return to the workweek and normal matters. Not to mention normal diet.

Remember the 1967 Betty Crocker Hostess Cookbook? It is the bomb! The diet bomb that is. Well, all I mean is I had a lot of fun with it yesterday.

First I made Cranberry Muffins.  Then I got into the yeast sweet bread thing. This is new for me. I got the dough together for Swedish Tea Ring and then for Cheese Triangles.

The Swedish Tea Ring had a hilarious retro picture that went with it. Today I see it is also in the bigger Betty Crocker cookbook. That one had how-to pictures with it I could have used while working out of the Hostess cookbook. Oh well, it makes it more exciting when you do not know what you are doing.

Here is Betty Crocker's Swedish Tea Ring. Oh, look, it is on a recipe card, too!

Mine bore so little resemblance to the picture in the cookbook that I did not bother with the maraschino cherries. For some reason the system is not letting me grab the picture out of my phone but trust me, it looked nothing like that. The dough would make only a fat ring, not a skinny ring, is what it comes down to. So there was not this big hole in the middle the way there is in the Betty Crocker pic.

No matter, it looked damn good with all the frosting I slathered all over it. And at the church coffee hour it was Gone in 60 Seconds.

The Cheese Triangles too went over big. That is a more obscure Betty Crocker recipe. They have something going around now that uses Bisquick but this is not that. They are little foldovers. The Mixmaster whipped up the cream cheese filling.

I was able to find a picture of this effort o' mine. I had messaged it to my friend Lizzie. She was busy making these great egg casseroles, kind of like crustless quiches.

Got to love that beat-up tray! One of these days, you know, someone will explain to me what makes this fun. But it is! You can bake and write, is one thing I love. While the dough is rising and while it is in the oven you may play the piano or type, as the case may be.

A perfect weekend!