Wednesday, October 30, 2013

And the new cooking buzzword is ...

Today The News printed my insightful interview with the chef Lidia Bastianich and so I have been thinking about food. Oh, wait, I think about food anyway. But still.

It is amazing the lengths to which cooking magazines will go to be unappetizing.

My new issue of Cooking Blight arrived and the new buzzword seems to be "plants."

As in: "For Thanksgiving, I am serving up a smorgasbord of cooked plants."

The editor actually wrote that! I might not have it word for word but I know I have the part about cooked plants right. They pay this guy to write and that is what he writes. Cooked plants!

You know, I love vegetables probably more than anyone. If you are what you eat, I am a vegetable! But can't we find more appetizing language? Cooked plants?? All I can picture is, well, plants.

What about Robert Plant?

They should have him as the editor of Cooking Light. Because "plants" are suddenly the it-word. It is what "local" was last year. Now it is all about plants. The word is all over the magazine. It is like a weed.

Plus naturally they trot out all this language as Thanksgiving is approaching. Along with long lectures on portion control. Cooking Light is crazy about portion control. Every issue we are lectured.

This is very much at odds with my life-enjoying, Leonard Pennario-listening self.

Fie on Cooking Light.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Allergic to allergy pills

About every 10 years, zut alors, I get allergies. Something turns up floating around in the air, some peculiar pollen maybe, and it gets to me.

That happened yesterday. The night before, my eyes had been itching, and yesterday morning it was driving me crazy. Eye drops didn't help. Nothing helped. I was desperate to make it stop. So I did the dumbest thing. I took allergy pills.

Nighttime allergy pills! As in, "Don't make any plans."

"Why did you take those?" Howard said. "They'll put you to sleep."

"Too late, I already took them," I said.

Did I ever regret that!

I had to go into the office and I had a dozen things due. Plus two interviews! La la la la la la la la.

The bright side was, my eyes had stopped itching. But I was drugged. This one guy I was interviewing on the phone asked me a question about did I know so-and-so and there was just this silence while I sat there. I had to say something so out of desperation I just told the truth.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I have these allergies and I made the mistake of taking these pills. I am afraid I am kind of a zombie."

This was a comedian I was talking to and he did not laugh! Oh well. Pennario would have thought it was funny. He used to laugh at my jokes, one of the many things I loved about him. I was not technically joking about the pills but it was kind of funny, you know? Well, I thought so.

One of my co-workers at the paper took this picture of me.

Luckily as in the case of Nyquil, these pills are like a parking meter. Eventually your time is up. A few hours later, around 1 p.m., I started coming out of it. I was on the phone interviewing my second interviewee and I felt the fog lifting. Gradually I awoke. And my eyes began itching again.

Systems normal! Well, almost.

I have learned from this mistake! No more Glenn Gould behavior.

No more pills!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Looking for a Chateau

What a perfect day today to go to the Clinton Bailey Market! You want a day that is windy and full of cold rain. That way there is less competition for seconds peppers and apples, which is what I scored this morning.

But brrrrr! Here it is 40 degrees and rainy and I am running around in Zumba pants and a tank top and Leonard's Del Mar sweatshirt. The first chilly day always takes me by surprise and I was woefully under-dressed.

Solution: Buy hard cider. We went to this warm and wonderful hot cider shop, Chateau Buffalo, in the historic food brokerage buildings across Clinton Street from the Clinton Bailey Market. That is it up above! Here is another shot that shows its industrial look.

They have Polka hard cider. It is hard to see but that is it in the middle.

Hard cider is hip and so now that I have purchased some I am hip.

I will tell you though, I wish I could have cracked open that bottle right there! Because my friend Lynn and I were just running around the market grabbing anything. We were too cold to haggle or comparison shop. I paid $6 for a 10-pound bag of onions, what is the world coming to?

Freezing as I was I also managed to grab up a Savoy cabbage, a cauliflower, Concord grapes, a jar of honey and I forget what else.

At least I got the good deals on the peppers and apples before my lips began turning blue and I had to head for the car. It was great to get home! We are getting into that wonderful time of the year when people want to be inside, in your home or someone else's home, or in restaurants or taverns or concert halls or coffee houses. Playing the piano or cooking or drinking wine or listening to music or writing books. 

Or all of the above.

It is fun while it lasts!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The sun sets on summer

I took these pictures of the sunset the other day and it makes it look as if the waterfront is on fire!

When I passed the construction site near The Buffalo News there was a guy in a hard hat taking pictures too. The sunset was that stunning. It was funny because that morning I had been up early working on my Leonard Pennario book and I had been admiring the moon. Now I was admiring the sun.

I have titled this picture "Sunset With Port-O-Potties."

Summer is certainly going out with a flash and a bang. I do consider that this is summer ending. Heck, I was just swimming at the beach a fortnight ago!

It is a most mesmerizing time of year!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My talk with Doc Severinsen

The Buffalo News put me on the front page today because of this interview I did with Doc Severinsen in which Doc blasted this new book on Johnny Carson.

I am so honored! I called Doc Severinsen the other day to talk about his upcoming concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra called "Solid Gold Doc."  Oh, wait! Doc Severinsen called me. That is a sentence I loved writing so let me write it again: Doc Severinsen called me.

The funny thing is, although I had in mind to ask him about this Johnny Carson book, because the book has been getting so much press, it took me forever to get to it. I have never been much of a TV watcher and I literally do not know if I could pick Johnny Carson out of a lineup. I mean, a lineup where they give you a bunch of guys who sort of look alike. My thing is music.

So for half an hour Doc Severinsen and I discussed other things. Things that I will get to write about in a separate story running in the paper on Tuesday. Like the Tommy Dorsey band. He toured with Tommy Dorsey which I find fascinating and I wanted to find out about Tommy Dorsey's personality and what he was like to work for.

We got onto Gershwin and I asked him if he had known Leonard Pennario.

 Ha, ha! That cannot be a question he gets asked too often.

Anyway, he was very generous with his time and after half an hour or so I began to worry that he might get called away or something and I would not have asked him about the Johnny Carson book, which I thought I should. So I asked him about it. He was very nice and, to tell you the truth, even seemed to welcome the question.

As one commenter wrote on The Buffalo News' site, Doc Severinsen is a class act. And now he has even put me on the front page!

He can call me any time!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stalking the little green sprout

Today I went back to the chiro. Wow, I have written about the chiro a lot. I just checked.

I had forgotten I had been going to the chiro since before I met Leonard Pennario!

There was the time when I worried about upsetting my adjustment

And my mother considering going with me to the chiro.  Hahaha! That never happened.

Anyway, my life with the chiro. I have gotten behind with things and I always feel very healthy and holistic when I go. Immediately at the chiro I think I am goofing everything. There is a big sign up saying all the unhealthy things like Latex Rubber and Lead that are in your flu shot. I just got a flu shot last week!

There is the usual pushing behind the ear.

But then I felt better. Everything felt better. I felt I deserved a treat. It is funny, some days I just decide that. So on the way back to the office I stopped at one of the few stands open weekdays at the Clinton Bailey Market and I bought Brussels sprouts.

They were still on their big stalk! I stuck the stalk in the trunk and went back to work happy.

Then I went to Parish Council meeting and I got home late. The Brussels sprouts presented a big problem, now that I thought about it, sprouting up in the middle of the day. I had Parish Council meeting tonight and did not get home till later and there they were, still needing to be pinched off this big stalk. I had to pinch them off and wash them and cut them in half.

Finally I had to roast them. There was only one way I wanted this stalk of Brussels sprouts, the first sprouts of the season, and that was roasted. You stick them in a 400 degree oven for half an hour, 45 minutes.

The Brussels sprouts totally flew in the face of the dinner I had been planning. But you got to grab 'em, you know, when you see 'em. When they sprout up!

I caramelized them ...

... and they were in the oven an hour or something.

End result: We ate about 10 p.m.  Schleppy me, you know? I should write for Bad Housekeeping magazine.

Oh well.

Great art takes time!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The gym at the end of the universe

Last night I went to a Zumba class at an unusual gym. It is the Buffalo Athletic Club at Eastern Hills! I almost never go there.

I used to go to that gym all the time back when Howard lived on Transit Road. I had this routine, after work on Fridays I would go out to Transit and decompress by going first to the Salvation Army out on Transit and next to the BAC. Hundreds of times I went to that BAC because this routine carried over a few years.

Then after I converted Howard into an urbanite our routines changed and I never go to that particular club any more. And here is what is funny: They remodeled that Eastern Hills BAC a few years ago and now when I go I no longer recognize a thing there.

"Well," Howard said, "it was a long time ago." And it was.

We are talking, ahem, a decade ago! Before Leonard Pennario. Before everything.

But still. When I say I went to that gym hundreds of times, I mean that literally. It is amazing that they remodeled that place so thoroughly that absolutely nothing is familiar. This other time when I went, a few months ago, I had to ask where the locker rooms were!

I don't even remember where I used to park or even how I used to get to the darn place. Transit Road changes constantly and so different buildings surround the gym than used to.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo: I really enjoyed my trip to the gym yesterday. I love newness when it comes to the gym. Different gym, different class, different teacher. The teacher this time was Patti and here is something I loved: She had hurt her foot and so another teacher was teaching the class, and Patti was Zumba-ing while sitting on a medicine ball!

That is the kind of commitment I admire.

Zumba must be done whether or not you can walk!

One other neat thing, on the way out they gave me a gift of free yogurt. An 8-ounce serving, too. I must have had that lean and hungry look.

A memorable evening!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fun in the sun

It is 75 degrees and the birds are making a racket!

I hear chirps, twitters, big long squawks. It sounds sometimes as if a big squeaky wheel is rolling past.

Then one came over and began knocking against the window! This white bird with kind of gray on its head. I didn't know what it was. I was afraid there was a mouse thrashing around all Howard's office stuff. But no, it was this bird.

All day I have felt blessed with this silence. I am trying to fill out the details on this Pennario discography I am working away at. Sometimes it gets confusing, particularly when you have been at it for hours. I know I should not binge on this but when else am I going to do it, you know? And I enjoy it so much.

But he made so darned many records! And they are run together sometimes, by which I mean he will start one album one day, finish it up and start another, things like that.

At one point I got so mixed up between "Pennario Plays" ...

... and "Piano Portraits" ...

... that I actually said out loud: "I'm so confused!"

Then I had to sit down with some markers and crayons and figure things out. My friend Tracy and I were just talking about how crayons calm us. It is not just that the different colors help you stay organized. It is the feel of the crayons in your hand and the waxy aroma they have.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, I got "Pennario Plays" and "Piano Portraits" sorted out. What a feeling, as they said in Flashdance!

The birds are rejoicing with me, hence the racket.

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful day as much as I am!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Howard plays the Hyatt

Yikes, here it is Thursday!

Where did the week go?

I worked on the book. I went to work. I went to see the Jerry Garcia Band. I wrote about it. I went to Pilates. I worked on the book. I went to Zumba. I went out for sushi. I worked on the book.

Howard took me for sushi because he was celebrating having filled in for Jackie Jocko down at the Hyatt. Jocko got a flu shot and it turned out that was a mistake. He got the flu!

I got my flu shot last week and it hurt but at least I did not get the flu. That makes me feel good. Things could be worse, you know? There are worse things than having your arm hurting.

Howard, anyway, played at the Hyatt for an hour and a half and he came sailing home and took me to Tokyo II. I had a coupon because my brother George, on Sunday, gave me his old Entertainment Book to strip. There is a Tokyo II coupon good for $10. Thank you, O Gods of Sushi!

Howard has a video of himself playing at the Hyatt. "It's no big deal," he is bragging to the waitresses, tongue in cheek. "He makes it seem like a big deal. It's not." He doodles around on the piano. "Maybe it's because there's no one here."

Then next thing you know he is on the phone with the ailing Jocko vamping and going, "Jocko, I'm out of gas. I'm out of things to play. What do I do?"


Anyway, he got through it, and there he is up above, celebrating.

It was a triumph!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sunday at the park with George

What a cold, chilly Monday! Exacerbated by me running around downtown here and there. What an adventure that was!

Downtown if it is raining you really cannot go anywhere or you just get soaked. It is just so windy that umbrellas do no good. All day strangers were talking to each other, commiserating. One gentleman carrying a bike helmet said to me, "This is unbelievable!"

It was funny, on Sunday people were saying the same thing only it was beach weather.

"This is unbelievable!" they were saying.

It was beach weather and so I went swimming at Beaver Island. I went with my brother George and his kids. Leonard Pennario would understand my taking a break in my work. He loved the beach.

From time to time Sunday someone would pass us on the beach. We saw a couple walking their dog, a woman throwing sticks for her retriever, a couple with a few kids. Everyone acted in a kind of daze. They would look at us and say, "Isn't this unbelievable? So warm! So beautiful!"

I was thinking, I would not be surprised to find these people were ghosts. The whole day was so surreal. Swimming in October. How often do you get to do that, I mean in Buffalo?

That is my niece Barbara up above. The first time we went into the water, the water was cold and she was completely cracking me up. She was in that big baggy swimsuit she is wearing in the picture and she put on these hilarious swim goggles and made a big show of wading pompously into the water, making faces and yelling about how cold it was. The kids are so funny!

Here is George Andrew in the sand.

We made a volcano and a turtle and a starfish and a whale. Our Barbara is such a ham!

My brother George grilled and we dined al fresco in the beautiful surroundings.

Ha, ha! That drink in the glass is not wine! It is Fit & Active grape drink from Albrecht Discount. We were all drinking it and it looked as if we were drinking wine. Little George took a glass on the beach and he was strolling around sipping it and he looked so suave, you would have thought it was wine. I was waiting for them to call Child Protection Services.

Anyway, a beautiful Sunday. Today was a whole different ball game.

What a difference a day makes!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's a slice

Remember the Martha Stewart brown bread that sounded too good to be true?

It is not too good to be true!

It works!

I tried it and it came out great. However. There is one change! You cannot mound the dough into a ball and put it on a baking sheet. That will not work! Trust me, I tried. It formed a ball at first but then kept pooling out into a disk.

Forget that!

Instead pile the dough into a greased loaf pan and then you are in business. Up above is the finished product. It was really good that day and the next day. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, as wrote Shakespeare, who enjoyed a slice or two of brown bread in his day.

A great recipe for the busy Leonard Pennario biographer or for the busy anyone.

Bake away!