Thursday, October 20, 2016

Let's do lunch

Yesterday my sister Katie and I did lunch.

It was in the middle of a hectic day and we made the plans that morning. She shows up at the office. Here is where you know you are dealing with family. Katie and I disagree on many, many things. But on the other hand our brains think alike.

I said, "We don't need to go out to lunch. I brought food."

She said, "So did I."

So we walk to this park by the Buffalo River. We start unpacking what we've brought. Stuff thrown together at the last second, and yet... and yet ....

She had this sandwich of Brie on whole wheat bread. Really good! We split it. I never get to eat Brie. It was a real treat.

I had a cauliflower salad from Eating Well magazine, a salad I love, plus a white bean salad with pork loin. And she brought out an orange for dessert.

And so we dined. And Katie brought out an orange and we split that for dessert. We had bowls and forks and cloth napkins.

My niece Rosie and I sometimes meet for lunch and it works the same way. My friend Lynn used to meet me downtown when she worked downtown and we did this sort of thing too. With Lynn it was really funny because we made a point to pack wine. Not a lot, just an airline bottle for the two of us, enough to fill two little plastic glasses. We would throw a tablecloth over a picnic table on Canalside and sit there dining and sipping our wine and people would stop and admire us, because nobody does this kind of thing. Once, someone took our picture.

The art of the picnic! I am afraid sometimes it is being lost. That would be a pity.

No annoying bill to pay, you know? Plus, you eat what you like.And you get to play the game of packing a picnic which is a game I love. I feel bad because some of the stuff I packed yesterday, we never got to eat. We never got to the grapes and the crackers. I am the Leonard Pennario of picnic packers. As a matter of fact I sometimes packed food for Pennario back in the day.

The art of the picnic.

Keep it alive!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The sandwich generation

Today for our after-Mass church coffee hour I made Oatmeal Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. They are from and they were something of an adventure.

The recipes at are not always extremely professionally written. In this instance they listed a certain amount of peanut butter and brown sugar and forgot to say that you would not pour all of it into the batter, some of it would go into the filling. Usually you see the word "divided" in such a situation.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, I had to double the recipe to cover for my mistakes.

End result, we had 50 cookies instead of 25. That was a good thing anyway. We had a big group and we needed them! We are trending up at church. Instead of our usual 100 or so people at mass we had 130.

All is well that ends well. However I must say, the recipe said, "Very easy!" and I rudely marked up the magazine and wrote: "No! Lots of work!" The dough has to be mixed and then chilled. The cookies must be dropped by rounded teaspoons and then flattened. They bake for 10 minutes and the trays are switched half way through. They cannot be over-baked! And when they are done you have to cool them on racks and then make them into sandwiches. It is a project that keeps you constantly in motion and occupied.

Very very good though. And they looked just like in the picture up above which came from

What is it that makes baking so therapeutic? My sister Margie and I were discussing this on the 'phone just now. It has something to do with following a recipe and also I think with working with sugar and butter and cinnamon and chocolate and all that good stuff.

It makes me excited for all the baking I will be doing this season.

We are heading into a wonderful time of year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tea of mystery

No matter how busy you are, no matter how many deadlines you face, your life could be coming apart at the seams, and still .... and still ...

You can always find the time to go to Dollar Tree!

I went today and came back with two boxes of tea called Tevive. I bought Tevive Chai Tea and Tevive Blueberry Tea. For a buck each, 20 sachets each.

When I get back and am supposed to be working, naturally I can't help Googling Tevive tea because the packaging is kind of slick and I wanted to see what kind of bargain I got. Respected brand names can be found at Dollar Tree at deep discount. For instance I also bought Contac cold medicine.

And guess what? There is no Tevive Tea!

I can find no evidence of it! Aside from this one YouTube review. This one Southern gal apparently does Dollar Tree reviews. And why am I not doing Dollar Tree reviews? Where did I make my wrong turn in life?

Haha... I love how she can't pronounce "Ceylon" or "sachets" and is unapologetic about it.

The Tevive box directs you to but there is no such Web site.

However. There is a TeaVivre that seems to have a good reputation in the tea community. Maybe the idea was that you would Google it and wind up at TeaVivre.

While I worked on things Pennario I had a cup of the blueberry tea and then a cup of the Chai tea. I will have to thank Tevive in the acknowledgements if I go on the way I am going. The blueberry tea, not too bad. The Chai tea was good! I would buy another box of that.

I am a coffee person first and foremost but tea is great when you are at your desk and you just need something. But anyway. Back to our question.


What is it?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Jeoffry in the jungle

It is hard not to laugh when you come home and your cat is lounging on your shoes.

Jeoffry had found my sandals under the dining room table and was stretched out on them.

It is funny to try to think how a cat thinks, not that you will ever understand it.

One morning last week I got up early, before it was light, because I had work to do. I made my way downstairs to make coffee. Then I went looking for the cat.

He was in the front room, staring out at the dark garden. God knows what he saw there. But he must have seen something. Because when I reached out to pet him he jumped out of his skin. Then he leapt off his perch and backed up, staring at me.

He did not hiss. Sweet Jeoffry, he never hisses or growls. But he looked at me as if I were some kind of threat. He did not seem to understand who I was. It took him a good 10 seconds.

I was thinking: That is a clue to how he thinks.

He thinks he is in the jungle!

It was almost like getting a clue as to how Leonard Pennario's mind worked. A foreign being. I would look for clues.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

All-you-can-eat crab... apples

It is "What Possessed Me" Part Two.

I was stressed on account of a lot of work to do and so I went out an picked 50 pounds of crab apples.

Well, maybe not 50 pounds, but you get the idea. It is funny, growing up we had a crab apple tree in the back yard but we never ate any crab apples, not one. I think we thought you could not eat them. Now I know better.

There is this crab apple jam I wanted to make. I was shooting for six cups and it ends up I have 10 cups.

Those crab apples collect!

I was picking up crab apples lying on the ground but Howard was looking on and said to stop doing that. He said they might have worms in them or something. In every family you need someone who cautions you.

Otherwise who knows what might happen.

Anyway, I must needs make this jam but the nice thing is, the crab apples will keep till the weekend, when I do my Coffee Hour baking anyway. Perhaps I will be inspired. Imagine a Crab Apple Danish. A Crab Apple Pandowdy! It would be fun to make something very elegant with them. I will have to think.

Meanwhile, there are these 10,000 crab apples that need dealing with. Once again...

What possessed me?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

What possessed me?

That is the question I wailed to myself the other day as I was making chili sauce.

I had all these plum tomatoes from Bailey Clinton and they needed to be used up. So I had scalded all these tomatoes and skinned them. Then I chopped up about six huge bell peppers and six small ones. Now it was 90 degrees and I was stirring this brimful, boiling pot to which I had added three chopped up onions. There were three onions still to be chopped, and ...

What possessed me?

That is a good question.

I like that quaint phrasing. It is fun to take a phrase you hear kicked around a lot, and really think about it. In this case all you can picture is the devil.

Remember how the devil made that phone call?

That picture up above is of the devil making chili sauce!

This particular story ends happily. I did get the onions chopped. The sauce exactly filled nine pints and all the lids went "pop." I then went off to work on my book.

Which, that is a whole other story. On the one hand, I am seeing the end of the tunnel. On the other, I often still think...

What possessed me?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hold on to summer

I did a story for The Buffalo News on stretching the summer. Like Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, it came from the heart, I will say that.

For the life of me I cannot see why people are in such a hurry for fall.

I love fall. Sometimes I think it is the time of year I love best. I always loved summer, but summer has gotten really noisy in the city. It feels good for everything to calm down, to cool down. Before you know it, it is time to bake fruitcakes, and you are heading toward Christmas, which as everyone knows is the most wonderful time of the year.

Thanksgiving to Christmas, is there anything better?


You miss some of the magic if you start it too early. You must needs hold off. And as long as the temps are in the 80s and 90s, that is God telling you not to crack out those black tights.

Instead ride the Viper at Darien Lake, as I did on Saturday with our photographer Sharon Cantillon. I took the photo up above. Sharon filmed this video which is on YouTube and sure to go viral. Taat is me you hear laughing. Hahahahaha!

Continue to wear white. Heck, it's hot.

Continue to complain about the heat.

Fall will be here soon enough and that is when we crack out the pumpkin lattes. I am of a mind to do some Christmas caroling this year too. Who is in?

We will find out before you know it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Duck soup

My brother George called today from vacation. They are headed home momentarily and he wanted to know how are things in Buffalo.

"I heard there was this rubber duck," he said.

In San Francisco! He heard about our rubber duck in San Francisco!

It is true, of course. There is this big traveling rubber duck and it was bobbing around for a while in our waters. And every single person in the greater Buffalo area turned out to see it. Everyone!

I took the picture up above and it was not easy. The people were five deep by the railings. And that was on Friday! Here is something that happened. There was this woman grousing to her husband that her phone was dead.

"I come all the way here and find that my camera doesn't work," she kvetched.

I said sympathetically, "Oh, I've had that experience."

And she turned to me and said mockingly: "Oh, you've had that experience."

What a meanie! Don't you hate when that happens? She must have been from out of town. Buffalonians do not act like that. Here I was going to offer to take her picture and email it to her or something. Forget that!

Over the weekend the duck drew even bigger crowds. There were traffic tie-ups. People got angry. It was the biggest event at Canalside, I heard, counting anything. Everyone in the city came to see this duck. There was nobody who did not.

You would think Leonard Pennario were playing! Excuse me, I have Pennario on the brain, I have been working very hard.

It was not easy to take an impressive picture of the duck from your phone because it was rather far away. Here is another attempt I made.

We had a video at The Buffalo News where you can watch it inflate. 

There is another video where you can watch it deflate but I found that upsetting. It was as if the duck was having some kind of seizure.

Well, it was fun while it lasted, that was for sure. And the joke was on my brother George. You cannot leave this town for a second.

If you do, you miss everything!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The strong will survive

We have a once-a-week Cardio Dance class in the office after work, once a week. I went to it today.

Fourteen Holy cannoli, is this class tough! You work and work. They bring in this teacher who, I am a veteran of many a Zumba class, and she is tougher. They blast this unrelenting hip-hop at you. Honest, I think I caught this "lyric" -- I use the quote marks there as Pennario would have --

Baby meet me in the bathroom stall
Show me why you should have it all


We were all dancing and sweating and ready to pass out on this 90 degree day but still I made it over to my friend Karen and I said, "Karen, was that lyric, and I use the term loosely, what I thought it was?"

Well, the important thing is, we are looking better and better every week! You do not take a class like this and walk away from it unchanged.

The class is not exactly pleasant. They have one oscillating fan ...

... and it is hot and because you are in the, ahem, office, there are all these security guards and co-workers and editors and whatnot observing you and laughing.

It is no wonder that today we had three no-shows.

"The weak are leaving," I said to Karen. "The strong will survive."

That which does not kill us makes us stronger!

And we will get stronger still seeing that now we are lobbying to make the class twice a week. Today I was thinking, it is a little easier than it was last week.  If we amped it up to twice a week, that improvement would come twice as fast.

Beach body, here I come.

Better late than never!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Fun at a discount

It is Hallowe'en at Big Lots. I just went today looking for canning stuff because after making all that jam I am running low on Wide Mouthed Lids. There is something about Wide Mouthed Lids that makes you want to capitalize it, you know? Anyway that is why I stopped there after work.

Do not discount the pleasure a stop at a discount store adds to your day. There is something in wandering the aisles, with your pedometer counting every step as you enjoy yourself, looking at this and that.

They have candles marked down. I almost bought one called Croissant but at the last minute, tight-fisted German that I am, I cheaped out. I also ogled the school supplies but cheaped out on them, too. I am a fiend for markers and index cards and other stuff and I rationalize them by saying they help me with my book. However I stood firm.

I did buy Jeoffry a couple of catnip toys. He will be a happy boy later on tonight.

I also bought some lemon hand soap because they have some at St. Anthony's and I have admired its aroma. And some gym socks because mysteriously I am down to something like two pairs. Where do gym socks go? It is a mystery for the Father, Son and Holy Ghost to answer in the next life.

You can get, ahem, organic green tea with mint and with jasmine and so I took advantage. The tea is $1.80 for 20 sachets.

Fun at Big Lots! Culminating in when I saw the aisle full of skeletons. And pumpkin candles and pumpkin tea. I do not get upset the way other people do at such a sight. I just figure Big Lots is a little ahead of us in life.

That wild and unruly time of year will be here before we know it!