Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Shishito Peppers (Try Something New!)




One of my favorite amusements during these crazy times has been trying out new foods which I normally would not try. These are various vegetables, fruits and meats which I spy in a supermarket and think to myself, ya know what? I’ve never tried that. Let’s give it a go!

I won’t spend hundreds of bucks but if something is within my budget, I’ll give it a go! So bring on the breadfruit, bring on the ugly tomatoes, bring on the sea urchin, bring on the kangaroo! I’ll try ‘em all! Umm… maybe not the kangaroo! Kangaroo is expensive!

Haha, I bet you though I’d say the sea urchin! I actually like sea urchin. Uni, as it is known, is one of my favorite sushi. It has a light sweet flavor. It is not for the faint of heart but if you ever try it, you may be pleasantly surprised!

I was at a local food store called Bill’s Produce in Schuylkill Haven, PA. It’s known for its cheap affordable produce as well as friendly staff. I spied a small long green pepper which I’ve seen before but never tried, the shishito pepper. Now I don’t have the biggest appetite for hot peppers but I had heard these were milder than the long hots, jalapenos and others. I was curious and for $1.00/small basket, this was a price I could afford!

According to Wikipedia, shishito peppers are “a sweet, Asian variety” of pepper. It is also known “kkwar-gochu in Korea due to its wrinkled surface resembling ground cherries.” They are small, finger-length and easy to prepare. The Japanese name refers to the tip of the pepper which resembles a lion’s head.

After scouring the internet for various recipes, I decided to just try them sautΓ©ed in oil, with some garlic, salt and pepper. I heated them up, carefully blistering each side for a couple minutes, making sure I didn’t overdo it. They have a thinner skin than most other peppers and can overcook quickly if you are not watching.

Shishito peppers are known for being relatively mild. HOWEVER, every 7th or 8th pepper can land you with a spicy bite! That’s almost the fun of it. You cannot tell which one is gonna be mild or hot! The hotness is determined by various factors and you can’t tell just by looking at it! They are also the perfect light little appetizer or finger food.

If you are in the mood to try something new which may or may not pack a punch, try these little peppers. I was pretty happy I went out of my comfort zone and purchased them. Easy to prepare, tasty and fun to eat.



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The 49th Year

"Chippy"


As I approach my 50th birthday during the Co-vid pandemic, my thoughts turn to how I have changed during this time. There are obvious changes such as my gut. LOL And then subtler changes such as an appreciation for the annual greening of the landscape during the Spring. 

Some things are rather blunt such as: 

I have enjoyed not seeing certain people.
I absolutely miss seeing a lot of people I am close friends with. 
I have enjoyed not having to hunt for my work ID.
I have enjoyed not having to commute an hour each way.
My 50th birthday is not what I thought it would be. LOL 
I am extremely lucky and there are so many people who have it waaay more difficult than I. 
I found out that Nala is a favorite dog name and it comes from the movie the Lion King. At least three friends have dogs named Nala and I still have yet to see the movie. LOL 
Did I mention the beer belly? 

I have realized that the idea of "celebrity, rich and famous" is pathetic and those of us (me included up until now) that have invested any amount of time in them, the culture and their lifestyle, will never be fulfilled. Keep the idea of celebrity and gossip at an arm's length. A little bit can be fun but don't fall down that rabbit hole. It is meaningless and there is no value to it. 

Others have snuck up on me: 

I am more in tune with my cats than ever before. I now realize they rule the roost.
I am calmer, more serene. More in tune with the present. 
I find myself actively detached from my phone and that has reduced anxiety.
Not every friend is a good or meaningful friend. 

The yard work and springtime have really relaxed me. I am enjoyed planting herbs, flowers, and bushes this year. I LOVE following the lives of our two chipmunks in the yard! (Chippy and Dale of course.)  It all has been very therapeutic. So much so that I don't see myself going back to therapy,

Therapy was an incredible experience and I will miss seeing the colorful cast of characters in the waiting room that I saw every Monday evening. I will refrain from mentioning each individually as it could open me up to potential lawsuits from the ASPCA, disability, physically challenged, and children's rights group. Let's just say they all seemed VERY angry. 

I am living a better version of my life. The only thing missing is seeing my family. I cannot believe I haven't seen my sister in Philly for three months! That will change though in June though.THANK GOD. :) 

Back to living a better version, I have focused on myself, my household and the Big Ragu. I have focused on keeping up and reconnecting with those I am close with from my past: Philly, Ritz-Carlton, high school, college and fraternity included! I have reached out to many of you via the written word and have been overjoyed and getting the written response back. Although the messages and texts have also been fun!

Life still goes on. Death still goes on. It has been a three month adjustment in the human experience seeing children born, people ill, and tragically people succumbing to death whether expected or not. Some even from this insipid virus. Truly heartbreaking for friends and family. Our mourning rites and rituals have even been affected during an already difficult time.

I am drawn to people for their kindness, their humbleness and their humanity. Some of you ground me. You know who you are. I appreciate that. Sometimes I need to be smacked aka Cher "SNAP OUT OF IT!". You are there to do that to me. We all need someone to do that for us but also to listen to us. Just make sure you are a good listener in return. Give and take. That's what a good friendship is all about. Sidebar: If someone is not doing the give and take, re-evaluate that friendship! 

Although I am a heavier version of myself (LOL!) BUT I am a cleaner version. No take out, no fried foods, no Chinese food. The Big Ragu and I have been eating at home diligently making our meals. Now I am NOT a health food nut. I have had the occasional pizza. I am definitely enjoying my beer and have recently discovered vanilla bourbon brown sugar ice cream and OMG! :) I also am still weak for TACOS (Yo Chris).

My 49th year has been one of so many ups and downs. I had hoped the 2020 half of it would be better but it just got CRAZIER! It's all good though. I survived Lyme disease and was treated for it with luckily minimal effects. I discovered I didn't need therapy anymore (never say never) and got my anger issues understood and delt with. I realized I cannot do shot after shot after shot anymore. I'm not 21, 31, or 41. My drinking needs to be in moderation. IN FACT, everything in moderation! It is awesome having THAT friend being an accountability partner! Try it! 

My body has more aches and pains but I commiserate with people my own age. I have found I can look better through healthy eating and lifestyle but some of those damn anti wrinkle creams really work wonders on those crows-feet! LOL 

I have also realized that there is nothing as important as family. The Big Ragu will continue to be my rock of Gibralter and my Hercules. Closest friends are not a dime a dozen. I have discovered there can be more than one bestie but if I ever call you a bestie, it is well-deserved! That means we have probably spent HOURS talking and your rolling your eyes at me. :) 

Thank you to everyone who has blessed me with their presence, conversation, and thoughts during this tumultuous year. We have helped each other get through emotions and anxieties warranted and unwarranted. Thanks for helping me keep a level head. I hope I have helped others too. 

And to those who slighted me online or in person ... WHO ARE YOU? Yeah, you mean nothing to me and my worth so why would I ever concern myself with your trivial comments? Baby, my twenties grew me a motherf*cking thick skin. Go ahead and try it. ;) 

I hope I have made some of you laugh with my writing, posts and pictures. I like to think I am here for that as well as for thought and perspective. I am human with all my faults and foibles. I own them and relish in them! We all should. I am damn proud to be that 50 years old geek (in 1 wk, LOL). The world would be a much more fun place to live in if we weren't all opinionated and polarized all the time. 





Saturday, May 9, 2020

Daffodils Fade, Grieving Does Not

"Spring Flowers"

Now is the time of year when my daffodils fade in the yard. It is a sad time, garden-wise. Nothing one can't get through but it shows the cycle of the yard, the garden, where one plant blooms and they eventually wither and another blooms in its place. Continuing all the way through the Spring and Summer until we see the eventual late summer blooms of the August goldenrod or the hydrangea. I do admit that just writing about the goldenrod makes me want to sneeze.

It is beautiful though, the transition from the late March crocuses to the late blooming flower of the Summer. We do not know exactly when how long they will last but know the approximates. Crocuses, hyacinths, forsythias and daffodils first. And then the other flowers bloom continuing until August and some until Fall, such as the favorite mums. The difference between us and the flowers is that we know we can expect these flowers next year.

Sad is the time when our friends, neighbors, and close family members pass. It hurts me to the core seeing close friends and family suffer from their losses. I try and figure out words. Me, who has no difficulty making conversation with a monk or nun of celibacy, finally finds himself at a loss of words.

With a friend or family member in need, a hug is in order. They try and release. I persist. This is different. No, just one more second. A longer hug. They get it. They hold on and squeeze harder for the support.

It continues, the cycle of life and upsetting death. But it is fresh and horrible and different for each of us. We cannot impose our timelines of grief on others. Let them grieve. Let them grieve in their own way. My heart breaks so much. I learn that the most important and helpful statement is being silent and letting them speak. Agreeing and then offering support.

Don't try and give advice. Those grieving will most likely not want to hear it. Just offer support. Don't sympathize, EMPATHIZE. There is a major difference. The daffodils will be back. Our friends and family members pass on but with hope and love, their memories remain strong and persistent and reliable as the returning spring flower.

We recognize that their passing is the reason we grieve. We grieve for ourselves. We grieve for them. We grieve for the fact they will no longer be able to be apart of our lives. We grieve that they were taken too fast, too quickly, too soon.

Sometimes giving that extended hug goes a lot further than trying to make sense of it all. Just hug and show compassion.




Friday, May 1, 2020

Emergency Preparedness #1

"Emergency Preparedness" 


With our world in the midst of a pandemic and the vast majority of us still under quarantine, I thought it would be useful to go over some basic emergency preparedness guidelines, and more specifically, what we should have in our disaster supply kits. 

I began thinking of this a week or two ago and began rummaging through my files for my emergency lists. The info which I am going to supply you with info from a couple of sources: Montgomery County Department of Public Safety and FEMA. It is a minimum of what we should all have but I would definitely encourage you to do more to prepare for a disaster. 

The coronavirus pandemic suggests we have 14 days worth of supplies. Maybe that should be the new norm with many of the items below, as opposed to 3 days? Nevertheless, where it stated 3 days in the lists, I kept it at 3 days. Myself, I will end up having 14 days of supplies on hand as a minimum for the months going forwards. 

Who would have thought six months ago that we'd be in the situation we are in today? I thought I would still be planning my 50th birthday trip for Key West, Florida in June. Now I am hoping for a trip up to Maine instead to look at real estate which &*(&(&(* the one we had planned to do in April. And if doesn't happen and we are still under quarantine, well then I may settle for a bottle of Miller Lite and a pizza to ring in my 50th! 

The following is a list of items to prepare for an emergency. My comments of course are included here and there. 

WATER:

* Pack at least one gallon per person per day for at least 3 days. (Again, coronavirus guides recommend 14 days worth per person!) 
* Store water in tightly sealed, nonbreakable plastic, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers.
* Change your water every six months.

Marc's comments:
OK, instead of changing the water every 6 months, I go by the expiration date on the water bottle if it has it. I also write the date of purchase with a black sharpie pen on the water jug or on a piece of masking tape I put on the container. Having it on a small label doesn't help. Put it bold, in black, and in large letters so you can see it just by glancing at the container. I don't like squinting! 

Any water which goes past the expiration date will be either be given to the pets or houseplants. In addition, you can always keep it and flush toilets within if your local water source goes down. 

One of my goals this summer is making a rain barrel to collect rainwater. If god forbid one loses water in their community, at least you will have water for use for either flushing toilets, gardens or pets. Obviously if giving it to pets, I'd recommend boiling it and letting it cool down first. 

FOOD: 

*Pack enough food to least each family member at least 3 days. (Again, emergency preparedness guides NOW recommend 14 days worth per person during this pandemic!)
* Include canned and boxed foods because they require little preparation and stay good for long periods of time. Remember to have a manual can opener or to buy food in self-opening cans.
* Pack foods in sealed metal or plastic containers. Do this if storing in someplace like your garage or attic.
* Replace foods every six months. (I don't see the need for this, see below.) 
*Include foods for infants and family members with special diets. 

Marc comments: 
I only see the need to store food in the metal or plastic containers if you are storing it in a storage unit, attic, basement, garage or out-building such as a shed. I would inspect the food every six months for an potential infestation by vermin or insects. Again, it helps to write the dates of expiration or purchase on the food. As I stated above, I don't see the need to replace everything every 6 months if the food item has not been opened or past the expiration date. One other thing: I also keep a running list of what I have in my freezer so that I know what I need or can use at any one time. And obviously, keep the list near the freezer or handy in the kitchen. 

PETS:
  
* The recommendation for basic emergency preparedness guides is the same for pets, 3 days of food and water. I have it for 14. Even though our pets are more than capable of eating older food, I still write the date of purchase on the food bags so I am aware of when I bought it. 
* Attach ID tags to your pet with your name and address. Unfortunately, Miss Moxie Cat hates collars and goes nuts with them. But we have one on hand just in case of an emergency.
* Remember that if you do have to go to an emergency shelter, many do not allow pets except service animals. 
THAT SUCKS - Marc 
* Put together an emergency supply kit for your pet. Include things like a first aid kit, food dishes, a litter box, a leash or pet carrier, medications, food, veterinary records and water. 

TOOLS and EQUIPMENT: 

* Battery powered radio
* Candles and matches 
* Flashlights
* Spare batteries 
* Resealable plastic bags
* Washcloths and towels
* Papercups, plates and plastic utensils
* Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deoderant, and other toiletries
* Heavy duty plastic garbage bags
* Change of clothing and an extra pair of socks for each person
* Blankets or a sleeping bag for each person 

PERSONAL ITEMS: 


* Personal ID
* Copies of birth and marriage certificates, inventory of household goods, bank account numbers, and other important documents
* Maps, yes PAPER maps! 
* Extra car and house keys
* Prescription medications

Marc's comments:
For batteries: AAA, AA, and D. I don't use C that much except for medium sized flashlights. A lot of these are standard items we usually have in the household. Just keep the emergency preparedness list handy if you need to find the items quickly. The same goes for the personal items below. Copies of important papers should be kept in a safe, if possible, or a locked file cabinet. With regards to paper maps,  I don't think you need to go crazy. Just have local and state maps available. For me, if the shit hits the fan, I'm heading NORTH. 
 

FIRST AID ESSENTIALS: 

* adhesive bandages
* antacid 
* antibiotic ointment
* antidiarrhea meds
* antiseptic
* aspirin and non-aspirin pain reliever
* cleansing agents (rubbing alcohol -70%, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, soap, germicide)
* cotton balls
* first aid cream and or burn cream 
* first aid manual
* first aid tape 
* gauze pads and roll
* latex glove
* laxative
* moist towelettes
* needle, thread, and safety pins
* petroleum jelly
* scissors
* sunscreen
* thermometer 
* tongue depressors
* triangular bandages
* tweezers

Marc's comments: 
You may have much of these items around the house but are not sure where they all are. Can you find them if you need to? Also, how old are they? Has that aspirin expired? What about the first aid cream? I know the moist towelettes dry out pretty easily. Make sure you update your first aid essentials every couple years. I have a first aid kit in each bathroom, one in each car, and one in the garage. So between the several I have, I have each of the items above, just not in one place. 

These past 2 months have really got me thinking about what would happen if disaster struck. I am making sure that in the event of something happening, man-made or natural, that I am prepared. You may have wondered why I didn't do this list back in March. Well, I didn't think I'd be quarantined for a month. 

Start making sure you have these items available should something else happen or is this pandemic gets worse. Better to be safe than sorry. How many of above do you actually have readily available?

Remember, knowledge is power! I just did the research above for you. Now put this knowledge to good use and be prepared!

In the next part, I will give a list of what "preppers" feel you should ALSO have on hand! That list is quite extensive. That is for when "SHTF"(prepper lingo) or "When the SHIT hits the fan!"



 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Recipe: Potato and Cod Soup


Ready to eat, YUM!!! 

Several pre-quarantine weeks ago, the Big Ragu and I won a frozen pack of cod filets at our local firehouse social club. We always play the "tear-off" gambling games and have won many a pack of filet, lobster, fish, ribs, or chicken. We have literally stocked our freezer some seasons with their "meat boards." Good stuff too from local butchers, markets and a seafood store! 

Veggies chopped! 

I made the entire frozen pack of cod, like 12 filets. I added seasoning to them and just baked them in the oven, nothing special, with a topping of salsa. I had half of the cod left over so the next day, I set out online to find a good recipe to use of the rest. 

Scouring the internet (ok, like one page on Google), I found this recipe for potato and cod soup. The link for the recipe is: (the link is SAFE)


Simmering away on the stove.
The potato and cod soup came out AWESOME! I added the cod to the dish afterwards because it was a leftover and already cooked. I also wanted to keep the remainder of the soup just like a potato vegetable soup for the next day's lunch. Below are pics of the soup as well as above. 

Changes I made in the recipe above:
1. I did not add the cream. 
2. I used oil instead of butter.
3. I added a can of garbanzo beans.
4. I used dried herbs.
5. I did not break up the cod. Instead, we poured the soup over the filets in a flat wider soup bowl. The cod was already cooked. 
6. I topped it with freshly grated parm cheese. 

LEFTOVERS! 
These days I have been trying to use every leftover in the fridge. I think it is important that we do not waste any food or spend frivolously. Who knows how long this pandemic will last or if we will have a second wave of it! Plan smart, use what you need, and try not to waste. 

If you try the recipe, lemme know how you liked it.
BE SAFE FRIENDS! 
Marc 






Thursday, April 16, 2020

Under Pressure & Stressed? Do One of These Things!

"2020 is a dumpster fire" 


Sorting through paperwork of years' past, I came across this list below which I had sent my Mom back in August of 1992! I was pleasantly surprised when I came across it. I don't know where it comes from. I may have even wrote it myself. 

To update it, I added some quips and quotes after each one. Honestly, 28 years later, the list doesn't need much updating. But what's a blog post without at least a little bit of my bite. Enjoy and stay safe and healthy everyone! 


1. Eat with chopsticks (Most days I cannot even handle a fork.)
2. Share a task (Or just let it go, someone else may do it!) 
3. Ask for a back rub (Max the Cat gives excellent back rubs with his paws. He's cheap, just some catnip!) 
4. Walk to the nearest park (But you may receive a ticket for non-social distancing.) 
5. Bake bread (I know alot of you have been doin' this! I just EAT bread.) 
6. Enjoy silence (Really ... shut the heck up. LOL) 
7. Imaging yourself living 100 years ago. (Um... isn't that when we were going through the pandemic world wide flu of 1918?!)
8. Stretch (At 49, it takes me 20 minutes in the morning to hobble to the bathroom to pee. I don't think stretching will help or shorten the time.) 
9. Shine, even if the sun does not! (My forehead still has that T-zone shine from high school. Does that count?)
10. Lose a pound (STFU!!!!!! Not gonna happen!!!! You have a better chance of me gaining 10.)
11. Pay a debt (I will need more than the stimulus payout!)
12. Take a picture (Why, so I can record the 10 pounds I've gained?)
13. Get some exercise (See #10 and #12)
14. Feed the birds (This is fun until the squirrel comes over and ruins everything.) 
15 Sort things out (Never ending task. I like sorting things out with a bottle of wine.) 
16. Accept a compliment (Hmmm ... someone at the grocery store said smiling, "My you're looking HUSKY.") 😲
17. Give something away you don't use (Bathroom scale)
18. Break a habit for today (I will drink only water, not wine...)
19. Do 1 thing you'll be proud of (Eat a vegetable.)
20. Really look at the sky (I get dizzy when I look up.)
21. Get to know the neighbor's dog (I know a dog that mauls my crotch each time I see him. I feel like I need to visit an HR department to file a report after each visit.) 
22. Daydream (about the world as we used to know it?) 
23. Beat your own record at something (I may try to go an hour without cursing.) 
24. Beat your own drum (Always have, always will!) 😊
25. Read a classic (Does the "Joy of Cooking" count?)
26. Sleep in (What day is it? LOL EVERY DAY!) 
27. Plant a tree (I did!!!!) 
28. Have a pillow right (Make sure your pillow fight partner doesn't put bricks in the pillow. That can hurt.) 
29. Adopt a grandparent (Unfortunately, they won't let you near them now. Oh well.) 😞 
30. Resist the temptation to criticize (Like I won't tell the person who called me HUSKY that I think she could get a job as the troll under the bridge.) 
31. Read the personals or want-ads (Tinder, Grindr, FarmersOnly, GlutenFreeSingles, GothicMatch or whatever is your "thing".) 
32. Talk to a houseplant (Since my cat almost died from an Easter lily this week, I'll curse at it instead.) 
33. Smell the flowers (See above with the Easter lily, not gonna happen.) 
34. Go through a scrapbook (This was actually fun.) 
35. Imagine winning $1,000,000 (Or how about another $1,200 stimulus? I'd settle for that Uncle Sam!)  πŸ˜Ž


BLOGGER'S NOTE: I do not own the rights to this image. It is a sticker which may be purchased online. Google "2020 Dumpster Fire." Support small businesses and online purchasing during the Covid19 pandemic! 




Saturday, April 11, 2020

Recipe: Melting Potatoes

Melted Potatoes


As with my usual frazzled blog content, I am usually all over the place. 😁 I decided to put up a recipe that the Big Ragu and I tried the other evening called melting potatoes. I describe it as baked potatoes with enough butter to coat your insides. But let me tell you, they are INCREDIBLE! Hope you like them! I included any changes I made to the recipe in parentheses. 

This recipe can be found several places online. I don't remember which website I grabbed it from. The cooking time was spot on. The juices from the stock and butter reduced and made an awesomely rich herbed sauce. 

Melting Potatoes

Hands-on Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes 
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients: 
* 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1 inch thick
(Honestly, we used another type of baking potato and sliced it a little thinner, probably from 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick.) 
* 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, melted (Umm ... I just used an entire stick!)
* 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or chopped fresh rosemary (I used smaller amounts of dried herbs and actually used both for this recipe. It still came out great.)
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (Pre-ground worked fine as well.)
* 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
* 3 gloves of garlic, smashed (I LOVE GAAAAH-LIC. I used pre-chopped and doubled the amount.)

How to Make: 

Step 1: 

Preheat oven to 500' F with the rack in the upper third. Toss potatoes with butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Transfer to a 13 by 9 inch metal baking dish and arrange in a single layer. (Don't use a glass pan, which can burst under such high heat.)

Step 2: 

Bake 15 minutes, flip the potatoes, then bake 15 minutes more. Remove the dish from the oven and add chicken or veggie stock and garlic. Return to the oven until most of the stock is absorbed, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter and pour any remaining liquid in the pan over top. Serve warm. (WELL, DUH!)