Saturday, October 18, 2008

Restaurant review: Cafe Vignole

Cafe Vignole on Urbanspoon

This is my favorite new restaurant which just so happens to be around the corner.

Everything we've ordered from here has been awesome: pizza, halibut in lemon and caper sauce, spaghetti with meat sauce, crab ravioli with saffron sauce, ribs braised in olives and rosemary over polenta, an amazing portobello mushroom appetizer, caesar salad, black eye pea cake, flourless chocolate cake, bread pudding...

But wait, there's more. Not only is the food incredible, but the servings are huge at not unreasonable prices (most $10-$15). The owner Sandro and all of the employees are friendly and truly want to make sure you enjoy your meal. And they usually have live jazz on Fridays! It is THE quintessential neighborhood restaurant, just improbably located in the Rainier Beach neighborhood.

Ever since we moved here from Connecticut, we've searched for good pizza. Pagliacci, Stellar's, Piecora, even the hallowed Tutta Bella - they're all good in their own way. But Cafe Vignole's humble pie is anything but. It has soul. It's the best in all Seattle.

Check this place out before it gets discovered by national foodies and becomes full of itself. You'll love it, I promise.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

MYOM (Make Your Own Magnet)

I've been anticipating the arrival of my donation goodie bag from the Obama folks -- which allegedly contains a bitchen round car magnet -- but got tired of waiting, so I decided to make my own signs. It's great the Obama website has media downloads. I did a bit of tweaking to make this official-looking sign, which got uploaded to Vistaprint and arrived this week.

And the signs are grabbing attention already! Seattleites, despite their reputation, are most certainly not reserved when they feel passionately about something. People have yelled "Obama!" to me as I drive by. When parked or idled, I've been asked, "Where did you get your sign?" I've already given one away to a fellow Costco shopper, and got another inquiry from a pedestrian today while waiting for a light. This sure was a nice change from when I used to smoke and get a loud, public scolding from complete strangers.

In fact, I was so enthused about the response I created another magnet, this one a portrait orientation. But folks, it's getting really late to put up signage. If you want one of these, please let me know and I'll order some more. They are about $9 apiece, and measure 17.3" x 11.25". Better yet, leave a comment with your email address and I'll send you the PDF so you can make your own signs.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Who wants to be the next Republican VP?

How did it come to this? Our presidential election has been reduced to a freakin' reality show, with an ancient shell-shocked warmonger who has the hots for a pretty but airheaded fundamentalist vs. an honorable but "inexperienced elitist" OMG black man and his trusty old-white-guy sidekick.

But if you don't think the Republicans can bring the U.S. to its knees, you should read this, practically a to-do list for the current Nazi, er, Republican party:

14 Signs of Facism*
  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
  5. Rampant sexism
  6. A controlled mass media
  7. Obsession with national security
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
  9. Power of corporations protected
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
  14. Fraudulent elections
*by Laurence W. Britt, Facism Anyone?, Free Inquiry Magazine, Vol. 22 No. 2. Based on analysis of regimes in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Chile and Indonesia.

I was shocked and dismayed at McCain's choice. Instead of picking a mainstream American woman, he plucked her from the far right fringes of the Christian coalition. It sickens me to see the uninformed populace fawning over Palin with Paris Hilton fervor. How dimwitted we must appear to the rest of the world. (And yeah, it matters.)

If you can be fooled into thinking she gives a damn about you or this country, well then she DOES represent you: the compulsive liar, anti-freedom, anti-American, pro-old Testament, isolationist lunatic demographic, that is.

If you're NOT fooled:
  1. GET ANGRY. McCain/Palin think we are still the numb and stupid voters from the Bush era. This op-ed piece Pissed About Palin is a damn good summary.
  2. VOICE YOUR OPINION. Make yourself heard above the retarded masses and media.
  3. KNOW THE ISSUES THAT MATTER. Ask the hard questions as if your life depends on it... because it does.
  4. ACT. Educate and motivate others to see the real faces on this ticket from hell.
  5. VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE. Do you really want a freak show running the country?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Goodbye, summer fruit

Lately I've been enamored of making summer fruit cobblers. My baking continue to devolve towards whatever takes the least amount of prep time. Fresh peach cobblers sometimes take extra time because you're supposed to boil the skins off, but if I'm baking for myself, hey, where's the harm on leaving them on? I just found a new (to me) cobbler recipe that doesn't require rolling biscuit dough. Some of the dough rises to the surface to make the topping. For those of you old enough to remember, it's reminiscent of the Bisquick Impossible Apple Pie. I made 2 9x13 pans of it, without even testing the recipe, for my neighbor's birthday party last week and it was good. A few people said it reminded them of their mother's cobbler - a compliment, I hope! The recipe comes from a site called Southern Plate, complete with wonderful step-by-step pictures, so it may be a southern-style method. In any case, try it before the peaches are done for - it's easy and awesomely delicious.

Peach Cobbler
Christy Jordan's Southern Plate

4 cups peeled and sliced peaches
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt stick of butter in oven proof casserole dish in oven while making pie ingredients. Pour the two T. lemon juice over the peaches. Stir to coat. Pour 1/2 cup sugar over peaches. Stir. Heat in microwave for 1 minute so that sugar begins to melt. Mix together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and cinnamon until blended. Pour in 1 cup milk and mix until blended. After butter is melted, take casserole out of oven and pour batter on top of melted butter. Pour peaches on top of batter. DO NOT STIR! Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over pie. Place in oven and bake for 55 minutes or until golden.

Latest Life is Crappy episode:
I have to make comfort treats lately because our family situations aren't so hot. Jim's mother fractured her hip a couple weeks ago and now he's back in Florida for a couple weeks. She's lucky being in Amelia Island, which somehow seems to always escape hurricane woes. But she's getting so frail and senile. There is no hurricane worse than aging. And then much to my utter dismay, my junkie whore sister got out of jail/rehab and moved back into my mom's house. Prior to this unfortunate event, it took more than 4 years of flying back and forth to finally evict my sister and whatever lowlife-boyfriend-of-the-minute was there. She just turned 48 but still has the mentality of a 15 year old, around the time she starting using drugs and killing what few brain cells she started out with. She should be on a drug awareness poster: "YA SEE WHAT HAPPENS?" It makes me feel sick and stresses me out. I'll probably not be talking to my mom for a while and that makes me sad, given she's probably only got about 10 more years left. I guess what makes me angry is expecting a parent to know what the right thing is and to do it. And then she does the opposite. It makes me glad I have no kids.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Busy summer!

Went to Florida in July for Jim's mom's 80th birthday, i.e. the perfect combination of heat, humidity and family members. So, we got what you usually get with these ingredients. Meanwhile, we found out Jim's mother just recently fractured her hip and the dementia is getting bad. At least she seemed to have a good time with practically the entire Harman clan around during her birthday week.

Then we celebrated Jim's 50th birthday right after getting back from Florida, with a dinner at Georgia's Greek Deli & Restaurant in Greenwood. He made out well giftwise, with a treadmill, a multimedia projector, a family tree DNA kit, T-shirts, and a watch exactly like the one he received from his father and had lost years ago.

Other summer activities: Around the house we finally moved the furnace up into the attic, freeing up a big walk-in closet. Freeing it up to be an awesome cat bathroom, that is! Jim put in plumbing and electrical so the CatGenie is there, as well as a bathroom fan and light that are triggered by a motion detector. Yesterday he installed a neat cat door (Catwalk) that looks like a porthole in one of the closet doors. The walls still need to be finished somehow, and I'm making a sisal-wrapped pole so the cats can climb up into the attic if they want. Pictures to come... Jim thinks we (or maybe just me) are nuts. We're still looking for a dog pal for our dog. Kira has settled in but occasionally enjoys spraying Jim and his stuff. Frida's still a whore cat, but she's actually been coming in when called and at not-too-unreasonable hours. Cleo now allows Jim to pet her twice before trying to rip his hand off.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Summer's coming... okay, any day now

Well, here's the bike I bought last summer. It's a Suzuki Boulevard S40, formerly known as the LS 650 Savage. It sat around most of the time, since I bought it after failing the riding test at the end of the motorcycle safety class, then let my learner's permit expire. Last week I took the class again and amazingly passed. Not too shabby for a spazz, eh? Two days and 3 hours later the endorsement was added to my driver's license. Practice riding time is difficult to squeeze in on most weekends but someday I hope to use the bike to commute to work. Maybe if I sign up with a local chick biker group it'll inspire me to get out there!

Another gizmo has taken up some time as well: The CatGenie. This is another one of those automated cat litter boxes, only this one needs a drain (toilet) and water hookup. Still fiddling with the settings and trying to persuade the cats to use it. Kira initially was using it, then at some point she saw it self-cleaning and became fixated/afraid of this mechanical monster. So today I caught her peeing in the base of the cat scratching tree... sigh. Wish me luck. Someday I'll invent my own ultimate automatic litter box. Hint: it involves a miniature garbage disposer.

Other than that, just working on perfecting my mom's Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe and helping my brother with business graphics. Visit and bump up that visitor's tally for me, will ya?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Meet the new cat... (almost the) same as the old cat

Yes, that's right. Another calico has come to live with me. The night before I was to fly down to SoCal to visit my mom, she told me that my high school sweetheart's father had been killed in a hit-and-run. This cat was his beloved pet, who I've named Kira (as close as I could get to Kirk for a girl's name). Amidst the chaos and grief, my friend could not find someone to give her a good home. Well, it was a DUH for me. We picked her up on my way back to the airport.

I think Kira, amongst other things, was the reason for my visit. I am a devout atheist, but the situation had a distinct cosmological/destiny kind of vibe. I don't know what to make of it. Is that just life being quirky? It is so human to want to make sense out of what we don't understand. All I know is Kira is a great cat and hope I can honor the previous owner by taking good care of her... just in case he IS looking down.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

How to Cook for a Veggie-Hater

If anyone is reading this blog, do you have any suggestions on how to get a person who despises vegetables and fruit to eat them?

To compound the problem, my person is becoming less adventuresome in his eating habits as he gets older. I've got to find other things to cook beyond mac 'n cheese, spaghetti and pizza! Currently his quirks are:
  • hates vegetables, even starchy ones
  • dislikes fruit (unless you can put them in pancakes or jam)
  • loathes gravy or sauces (except spaghetti or pesto)
  • loves bready, carb-laden things but can't digest them too well
As someone who has had a couple heart attacks and high cholesterol, he desperately needs a different diet. Short of behavior modification tactics, what can I do?