Monday, September 25, 2017

Can stand the heat


This heat wave, I love it! Above is a picture I took of torpid Hoyt Lake.

One of the things I have been doing to celebrate the heat wave is go swimming. The other thing I will get to in a second.

The swimming has been great. No, you do not swim in Hoyt Lake. But there is plenty of other opportunity! The other day, I went to Beaver Island with my brother and my niece and nephew. There were no lifeguards or parking fees because the season is over, at least so they say. Hundreds of people were on the beach, folks of all stripes. All of us unsupervised! It was so peaceful and beautiful.

We kept gloating about it being late September and here we were swimming. Except as George reminded me, we have been swimming at Beaver Island much later in the year than this. We do get beautiful autumns here in Buffalo, or should we say, beautiful summers.

Today I went swimming at LA Fitness but even indoor swimming is wonderful. They have huge windows and it feels so refreshing.

So... what was the other thing I was doing to celebrate the heat wave?

I have had the oven going full blast!!

For our Tridentine Mass coffee hour, I made Orange Cornmeal Cake out of Martha Stewart ...


... and Cocoa Fudge Bundt Cake...


... and one of my signature coffee wreaths, from King Arthur Flour. Howard took all these pictures and he photographed the wreath before it went into the oven. When it came out, it was huge!


The Orange Cornmeal cake was really interesting because you top it with sugar and the sugar forms this crust. The fudge Bundt was a great old Betty Crocker recipe that mixed up all in one bowl.

I will have to remember that.

Along with this heat wave!


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Dollar Tree Hoax


Today I got my chiro adjustment, and after that I am supposed to take it easy, and so to relax I made a stop at Savers. I met my friends Tracy and Lizzie and Nike.

We were hanging around Office Supplies, having fun, and I selected with Nike's help a baggie of old Crayola crayons. That is another story for another day. For now I have to get to the shocker.

Lizzie and Nike told me that they had read in the paper this morning that Dollar Tree was closing!

What in the world??

Tracy and I immediately began to protest. Dollar Tree had just opened new stores. It was impossible. They always looked as if they were doing well. They --

"It's right here," Nike said, and she pointed at her phone.

No way! I was too upset to think properly. Shortly after that Nike and Lizzie left to go, you guessed it, to Dollar Tree. I did not want to go with them. I was too sad. Tracy and I wandered around buying this and that and mourning the loss.

I have written before about my great love for Dollar Tree, which ranks up there with my great love for Mozart, Leonard Pennario, and the Catholic Church. Where would I now buy Totally Awesome cleaning products? What about cheap Lime-A-Way toilet cleaner? About once a month you find a coupon in The Buffalo News and Dollar Tree takes coupons.

How about their writing implements? I love that brand name Jot. I just bought a cute Jot notebook a few weeks ago to keep track of my chapter revisions.

Cookbooks. Coloring books.


Wrapping paper. Gift bags. Nail polish. Wax paper. Bar ware. Made-in-USA glass candle holders. Hot sauce. Those 50-ounce drums of Totally Awesome dish soap. (They never did disappear.) My head was spinning.

And what about Tevive Tea? Just yesterday I enjoyed a cup of Peach Passion.

And oh, the holy frozen food!

Well.

Guess what, I get home and I look in the paper to see where this Dollar Tree story is, so I can put it on Twitter (where I am, under @MaryKunzGoldman), and post, "I am devastated."

I could not find that story anywhere!

Subsequently I did a search and sure enough.

Fake News!

I should have guessed. How could Dollar Tree close, with me keeping them in business? At first I was really mad at Nike and Lizzie for causing me this stress. But a second later, I was over it. Number one they love Dollar Tree as much as I do, and were as distraught as I was.

And secondly, who cares?

Dollar Tree lives!

I will appreciate it double from now on.




Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunset over Hertel Avenue


Sometimes the best pictures of sunsets are in urban settings!

I personally prefer the above picture to the greatest inspirational pictures of the sun setting over a peaceful ocean. It is Sunset Over Hertel Avenue! I took it from the lot of the Lexington Food Co-Op.

Another shot that same evening. This was a minute or so earlier if memory serves me.


Speaking of the sun, here is my masterful photo of the solar eclipse a month or so ago.


That was August 21, yikes! I can barely bear to look at my camera roll, the weeks and months are passing so fast. Barely bear, that is a phrase I like. It is like manly man or girly girl.

Jeoffry does not care what the sun is doing.


As long as he has his bird, he's happy!

All right, it is back to work with my fine self.

There is one thing the sun never sets on.

That is procrastination!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Bless me, Father, for I have cooked


Today for church coffee hour I went back to a cookbook I've had for years and had completely forgotten about. It is this cookbook from Cape May's Mainstay Inn. It is called, "Breakfast At Nine, Tea At Four."

Why, you cute cookbook!

I made Banana Crunch Coffee Cake, p. 104. While it was baking I turned a few pages and found Orange Kuchen. I had an orange. I had everything I needed. So I made that too.

Here is a funny thing. Both the Banana Crunch cake took about three times as much sugar and butter as the Orange Kuchen. Both baked in the same pan, the 9 by 13, one of my favorite pans, I must point out.

Well, even though the banana cake took enough sugar and butter -- and coconut, too! -- to sink a ship, I made it as written. Give the people what they want! Several times I have skimped and tried to make things healthy and in that case nobody eats it.

Both cakes were a success. My friend Oscar complimented me on the orange cake. Oscar comes from some South American or Latin American country I can never remember, but he is an authority on baking and he loves the taste of orange peel. As do I! It is most zesty.

Another way in which I was a winner, I made a crock pot of white beans and greens, the greens being the collards from my Porter Farms CSA, which is another story for another day. One of the gentlemen complimented me on that! He and his wife were on some kind of plant-based diet and he could not believe his luck.

Long story short, here I am kicking back and listening to Harry Connick Jr. and basking in my greatness. Oh! There is one more thing.

Lizzie and I both managed to make it to Mass in a timely fashion! The Kyrie was just beginning which was not bad for us. Last week, even better, we made it in time for the Asperges. What are we doing right? We were trying to figure that out because it would be great if this trend continued.

I think with me, it was because I made two big coffee cakes instead of any number of smaller ones. That plus I made Amaretto Coffee Wreath ...


... which was huge too. Howard took that picture of it on its parchment paper! I threw these treats together yesterday easily, among doing other things. Howard helped me carry them out to the car this morning so that was something else. He usually helps me but this morning he did the lion's share of it. Not as many pans, and a lot of help! That made a difference.

Now if I could only bring this kind of productivity to the rest of my life.

Onward and upward!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Weber wondering



So I get a big tray of spareribs from Tops. They are all spiced up and ready to barbecue. I scanned the ingredients and it all looks nice and natural. I've got all my ducks in a row, right?

Well.

What do you do when ...

... the package says to grill for 7 minutes a side, and ....

.... every cookbook and online recipe says to grill for about two hours?

What do you do??

Whom do you trust???

Do you start them in the oven and then finish them on the Weber?

What about Constanze Weber, Mozart's wife, pictured up above?

She was the first soprano soloist in Mozart's "Great" Mass in C Minor which is challenging, but I do not think she ever had the challenge of grilling spareribs!

Constanze Weber did not have a Weber!

I do. With which, I like to cook and I like to think I have gotten good at it. However, I have a confession. Meat confuses the daylight out of me.

Every cookbook I see tells me that this or that cut of beef could be called this or could be called that. There is no consistency. Every book tells me --

Oh, wait, the husband is home. The ribs will be cooked, one way or another. I do not need to point out that this impossible situation came about thanks to Eve being created from Adam's rib, you know? The rib situation is complicated from the word go.

I will report on how this goes.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Me, the mermaid


I have been doing a new class at the gym, Aqua Fit.

That is not exactly our LA Fitness class in the picture but it may as well be. That is exactly what it looks like. I remember a year ago or something I glanced at Aqua Fit while it was in progress and I saw this big group of men and women of all ages and races and shapes and sizes advancing in the pool like an army, smiling and laughing, hefting these weights. I thought: I should try that! Finally I did.

You get to be in a pool which is fun. I love swimming. So if the teacher is late, as is often the case, no big deal. I've learned enough of the exercises so if the teacher doesn't show up, which is often the case, no big deal. If you get a lazy teacher, no big deal. Unlike in Zumba, where a lazy teacher drove me crazy.

So. I have been doing this Aqua Fit off and on for about six weeks. And this is the truth: Things fit me that did not fit me before that.

No kidding, I bought a pair of pants at the Temple Beth Tzedek sale and they did not fit me then and now they do! And there is nothing else that could have done this for me aside from Aqua Fit. I have made no other lifestyle changes, God knows that.

Perhaps it is just that I am going to the gym three or four times a week because I enjoy this class. Perhaps it is the nature of the class. Oh, who knows.

There was one thing weighing on me. This is great now that it is summer and you feel like jumping into a pool. What about winter?

Then just last night that question was resolved. This other gal in the class, she and I were hanging out in the pool afterwards, paddling around and looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows.

She said: "Just wait till it's winter and it's snowing outside. This will be awesome!!"

She is right!

I just needed someone to point that out!

The important thing is, it's fun, and it works. On top of everything else the class is easy as pie. It is not like Boot Camp or even Pilates. Pilates feels great but it is work, I will tell you that. There have been Pilates classes where I have rolled over on my mat afterwards and thought: I am ready now to audition for the Alvin Ailey. I am a superhero to have gotten through this class.

Aqua Fit on the other hand is a walk in the park.

Exercise does not have to be miserable!






Saturday, August 26, 2017

Last call at Little Vegas


Today my friend Lizzie and I spotted an estate sale sign and, as usual, screeched to a stop. The sale turned out to be bittersweet. It was the Little Vegas tavern in Lackawanna.

The tavern had been a stop a few years ago on a Forgotten Buffalo tour we were on! Lizzie reminded me of that. And I remembered -- well, sort of anyway. I must have had a good time on that tour, what can I say. Well, what happened in Little Vegas stays in Little Vegas.

Inside we learned it was the last day of the sale. The owners' daughter was pretty much taking all offers. I tried to talk her into stretching the sale out for another weekend, so I could help get the word out about it. But she was in a hurry to get back to Florida. Which, I can understand. You can only take so much of this kind of stuff, you know?

I regret I did not buy the cash register.


And a case could have been made for buying these vintage Santas and other Christmas decorations that were in the basement. You could just imagine the bar's regulars waiting every year for these old fellows to reappear.


There were tons of decks of playing cards behind the bar. Of course I went behind the bar just so I could feel what it would be like. I took this picture from behind the bar.


 And yes, I did say, "What can I do you for?"

And: "You and me both."

The playing cards must have been in keeping with the bar's name.

I tried to interest Howard in the vintage beer cooler but to no avail.


Howard is less sentimental than I am. I am sentimental!

I did also love this old scale.


In the end I bought a chalkboard for $2 and Lizzie spent a couple of bucks on some very cool decorations. We had to have some kind of memento.

It is a pity saying farewell to an old bar even if it was not exactly on your turf. These mom-and-pop taverns are disappearing.

Goodbye, Little Vegas.

Goodbye!



Monday, August 21, 2017

The solar eclipse: Party like it's 1919

As I just put on Twitter, we watched the eclipse old school at The Buffalo News. Scott Scanlon, my neighboring colleague in the newsroom, remembered the old Boy Scout trick where you poke a hole in the cardboard.

That is the eclipse pictured at left!

We were all excited bounding down the stairs to give it a try. Scott is the editor of Refresh, the health section, which explains why he takes the stairs and also why he views the eclipse safely with a piece of cardboard.

Outside we found almost everyone else in the office already out there. Of course the really cool people were the people who stayed inside at their desks and didn't care at all. However I have never attempted to be cool and that has served me well in life.

A few eclipse statistics I loved...

One was that in Buffalo, it began at 1:11 and hit its peak at 2:34. You went from 1-1-1 to 2-3-4. It was easy to remember and that is how Scott and I knew enough to go downstairs at about 2:30.

Another is that when was the last eclipse like this, 1919? Somewhere around then.

Leonard Pennario went through his whole life without seeing such a thing!

It got Howard and me thinking about other eclipses in history and one thing we pondered was whether there was an eclipse mentioned in the Bible anywhere. I thought of the Crucifixion when darkness descended over the land. And the curtain in the Tabernacle was torn from top to bottom, and the dead came out of their graves and walked around and were seen by many. I am sorry, once I start with this, I cannot stop!

That could have been an eclipse, however, if it were, it would be a lunar eclipse, not a solar. There are scholars who have figured that out. And apparently there was a lunar eclipse in 33 A.D. I will have to look into this further.

Meanwhile, the big question is:

When eclipses occurred in Biblical times, would someone have been there with a piece of papyrus with a hole poked in it?

It is undoubtedly so!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Cakes... winners and losers


This is the coffee wreath I brought to the St. Anthony's coffee hour this morning.

Despite the fact that I made it kind of on the fly, in between going to a wedding, going to the reception, and taking care of other business. .. it came out well!

The same cannot be said of this week's Bundt cake.

This was a lemon Bundt. Everything was perfect except for it did not come out of the pan. Half of it was in crumbles.

And may I point out this is the second time this Bundt pan has stuck it to me. Third time. This was the pan that soured me on Bundt cakes to begin with, now that I think about it. The cake stuck. Then it stuck again a couple of weeks ago, though not so badly. 

Strike three, you're out! I personally took that pan out to the garbage.

A sorry end to a pan I had greeted with such joy. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe when I made my first cake I scratched it too much or something. Well, whatever.

I panned that pan!

So for now I will stick with the Kugelhopf pan that worked well for me.

As far as the lemon cake, half of it was served at the St. Anthony's coffee hour. It was gone in 60 seconds, rivaled only by these gooey brownies someone brought and the Monsignor's manicotti.

I brought the other half of the cake home and am going to do something with it. Cake pops, perhaps? Bread pudding? I am leaning toward cake pops because I have never made them. Lemon flavored cake pops, yummy!

As a result of the lemon of a cake pan.




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Color and light


For some reason I like doing art.

I use the term loosely. I do not have any pretentions as an artist. But late at night, or of an afternoon when I have been busy with work most of the day, it is fun to sit down with watercolors and relax. What is it about watercolors? They are just so cheap and easy.

Especially cheap. I have this $5 watercolor set I have been working off of forever. That is it in the picture above! I also have a sneaking affection for oil pastels because they, too, are cheap. That masterpiece in the sketchbook visible in thePain back on the right was done with oil pastels.

Not only that but they were oil pastels I purchased in Tupperware at a garage sale! I think I paid a quarter. The brand is Loew-Cornell, which despite the patrician name is made in China, let's not kid ourselves.

I remember my mom telling me at that garage sale that buying the pastels was worth it just to get the Tupperware! LOL! Anyway, those are the pastels that painted that picture in the picture.

HOWEVER. Once at another garage sale I bought a little wooden box of oil pastels of the Van Gogh brand. Van Gogh is not an exalted brand. Looking it up, I see it is a "student brand." However. sets of 10 or something (mine has 15) go for a cool $30 or something. So when I get better at oil pastel I will let myself use the Van Gogh pastels instead of the Loew-Cornells.

I will be the Leonard Pennario of pastels!

Jeoffry also enjoys art.



Good boy! Good boy!!


We are artists!