Tuesday, September 28, 2004

In further celebration of the coming Halloween season, I have begun reading Dracula... again.

This, possibly, marks the fourth or fifth time I've read it. Though this time, since I have read it so much, I am finally taking out my annotated copy (gotten a while back ago from my father), chock full of background information as well as incredibly detailed illustrations.
This is to be my next book on my reading list:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000C7BN3/qid=/sr=/ref=cm_lm_asin/103-9398967-3003022?v=glance

Despite my love of the movies, this marks only the fourth werewolf book I would have ever read (the other three were the Howling series by Gary Brander). See, the thing is this. About 99% of the media output on my favorite of monsters..sucks. It blows. It's cheesy. Now, I can deal with wasting 2 hours of my time on American Werewolf in Paris. But I don't want to waste a week of it reading some horrible novel. But, this is fast becoming a modern horror classic (as well, of course, a movie), so I figure it's worth a shot.

So what are you reading this Halloween season?

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Monday, September 27, 2004

This weekend "officially" started my celebration of Fall and the Halloween season.

First up, horror movies!

Friday, we saw 'Session 9' on IFC (who, previously, had played 'Nightmare on Elm Street' - a good film, yes, but a Indie Film? no..). Despite containing Mr. CSI-Ham and a half, David Caruso, as well as some sub-par shots that, at times, looked to Genevieve like lo-quality DV, I ended up liking it. The story revolves around this team of people cleaning out the asbestos from an old Mental Institution. Now, Old Mental Institutions has been horror staples for quite awhile. It seems that, regardless of how they really might be, we love the image of a bunch of mental patients running around causing general chaos and evil-ness. Anyways, though it was using such an obvious setting, I thought where the film reigned was in a Shining-esque subtle creepiness. You, not once, saw anything supernatural, but at the same point, the filmmakers managed to convey that feeling, without a single empty rocking chair or ghostly footsteps. So, though it's not the best horror movie out there, it's definitely worth renting from the local video store if you're looking for a creepy film.

The, our bike ride on Sunday.

Sunday bike rides are a staple around our house. Every Sunday morning, we get up early, haul the bikes down to the Towpath Trail, and bike..usually for a few hours. This past weekend, we were getting ready for a 38 mile bike marathon in a few weeks. So, we trekked down the path for and totaled in at about 33.5 miles. Our farthest to date. Big yeahs to Genevieve, who biked on, despite some serious hurtin' going on at the 20 mile mark. In addition to our longest distance, it also marked many signs of fall for me. The trees were all starting to turn, leaves on the ground, and ...apple cider and chestnuts at the Farmer's Market, replacing the sweet corn of weeks before. It might be silly, but this addition is a serious plus to our weekly rides for me. A nice stop to sip on some cider and gnaw on some chestnuts (which I used to love as kid. It's nostalgia only tainted by the memory that they used to give my friend David the *worst* freggin gas..ever) and ride on through the fall afternoon. The only sad part is that is also reminds me that winter is just around the corner and I'm going to have to put the bike away for awhile.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A moment for peace

No, not peace in the Middle East. For my morning breakfast.

I've been told by two people that this is some 50's mentality, but I love breakfast. If I had my way, I would spend my mornings leisurely enjoying a pile of pancakes and a cup of orange juice (or coffee) in a well lit sunroom, reading either a book or the paper. Of course, life doesn't work that way. Currently, our meager excuse for a sun room smells like kitten poo and is inhabited by two sweet, but demanding gray kitties. My breakfast is, instead, spent wolfing down a pile of pancakes while Genevieve calls me from the bedroom to let me know what sort of trouble the kittens (who move there during the morning, otherwise they scream) are getting into. Then I throw together something that can make up lunch for Genevieve and I and book out of the house so I'm not more than 15 minutes later than I am supposed to be here (7:30). 'Cause, according to my supervisor, if I am more than 15 minutes late, I need to e-mail *why* I am late. urgh..

Why can't we live @ a Bed and Breakfast all the time?

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Monday, September 20, 2004

Note to Alesha and Adam:
as long as I have admin permissions, it's impossible to "take over" my blog.
Alesha, there is a present for you in the mail. It's white, well, off-white..and you've seem to be interested in having it...soo....

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Since Genevieve has not blogged about it, we had a bit of an adventure yesterday (some of this many of you have already heard). But, here's the scoop.

First up, when we got home, we heard this yowling at the door. We assumed it was Oliver, but it was *awfully* loud, so we thought he might be in the outer hallway. But, turned out he was still in the house. As Oliver has a timbre to his voice that can burrow into your head, we didn't think anything of it until later, when we heard it again, this time it was accompanied by our neighbors' cat, Lucky, trying to get into our house like there was no tomorrow. We eventually let him into the hallway. He ran upstairs, stared at us, and howled again. This was all very odd, as usually the cat wants absolutely nothing to do with us (other than to eat Genevieve's plants). The cat then came down and proceeded to rub-rub-rub all over my legs. I petted him for a bit and hung outside with him, waiting for his owner to come home. After about 10 minutes, the cat had calmed down and was purring at my feet. I took this as my cue to book it back in the house.

After a few minutes, the cat went on it's way and I later saw it staring at me in it's usual "I'm watching you, don't come near me" look. That was not to be the end of our feline adventures though.

Next up, a vet trip for Oliver. For those of you who have met Mr. Cat, you know he's fucked up. He's a mess in the head, been so his whole life. Anyways, so recently his normal vomit activities started being supplementing with random pissing around the house. Usually he stuck around the bathroom, though he was so kind as to make an exception for my guitar case one day. We weren't sure if this was behavioral or if he had a urinary tract infection. So, we made him an appointment. The doctor told us, pretty much, what we assumed. That Oliver did not have a U.T.I., he was just a mess of a cat. So, he showed us how to give Oliver some Vaseline to help with the vomit and wrote us out a script for some pills to help with his mood, if he started the pee'ing again (by then, it had been a week since he had done it).

Our last feline adventure, one still playing out, came in the evening. We had decided to grab a $5.00 movie at the Cedar Lee and, as we were leaving, we noticed a crowd of people and a bunch of little Starbucks cups on the ground, filled with cream. In the center of all this were two very scared little gray kittens. Now, we have three cats of our own, there was no way these were becoming our cats. But, it was on a very busy intersection and no one seemed to be taking the initiative, so, with a little coaxing (surprisingly little, the first one was easy-as-pie, the second I was able to get with the first in my other hand, so it was harder, but we're not talking feral cats here), we grabbed them, to get them out of harm's way. We got home and, freaking out our cats the whole time (there was a very funny incident when one of the kittens got loose and ran through the house, sending the rest of the cats into confusion and chaos), we set them up a little space on our enclosed back porch. I was pleased to discover that they know how to use a little box and seem to be in good health, though one of them has a case of Rhino. So, we are currently on the hunt for a home for these little guys. I am such the softie. I made a tough case, but I have to admit, I would love it if we could keep them. But, logically, there is no way it can happen. We just have to find them a good home, which shouldn't be a problem. They're very tiny and sweet and would make anyone's (besides people who don't like the Princess Bride) heart melt.

And that was our feline filled day.

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Monday, September 13, 2004

Ithaca, NY - an adventure described via food - part 4 (final)

Last day in Ithaca. Our morning breakfast was a treat, as we finally got a chance to eat with other people! There was a couple, just a little bit older than us it seemed, from around Ann Arbor, MI, as well as another couple from New York City. The latter had just come from various protest marches (again the Republican Convention) in their home city (which they didn't want to leave, as many did, *during* the convention, but headed out for a break afterwards). So, needless to say, after the room was deemed "safe" (though, who is kidding who here, we're in upstate New York.), conversation turned mainly to politics. But, I'll stick with the food. There was the usual...granola, fruit, etc. The dish of the day was buckwheat pancakes. We'd made a mix of these as part of Christmas presents a few years back, but it had been awhile since I'd actually had any. There were really good and hardy, filling my belly which much more wholesome substance than I usually do in my normal Better Homes and Gardens pancakes I make in the mornings.

After filling up on food and saying goodbye to your breakfastmates (it's a word, look it up!), we took a last walk around the farm and headed out. Before leaving the town, we stopped back at Ithaca Bakery and picked up some preemptive lunch. (I had a mozz, tomato, olive oil and basil sandwich on rosemary foccacia, which was a bit oily -obviously- but good nonetheless).
And, with that, we ended our Ithaca adventure.

Oh, one more point...a bit of a rant.
So, to eat our lunch, we stopped at a service plaza along the way. As we sat there, I saw a sight which 'cause much ranting that afternoon. Outside of the McDonald's (in the plaza) was a young guy selling baskets of farm fresh fruit and veggies. Well, selling is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, a few people stopped. But the great masses passed him right on by and walked out with their huge bags of greasy fries and burgers. I don't get this. You can't even claim the convenience thing. You could walk out with a basket of peaches for less money and time than a Happy Meal. Each of these people was given two choices: natural, good tasting, good for you, fresh fruit...or McDonalds. Ultra-chemical, unnatural, food that offers almost NOTHING to sustain your body. Are our ties to corporate fast food that strong that people will turn away from what their body needs in exchange for the putrid grind of a McDonalds? Okay, end rant..

One more "last note":

I am sitting here, listening to computer generated "nature" sounds, looking over my barely-able-to-see-over gray cube walls out through the ONE window with open blinds around me. I'm typing away on a Windows interface to an archaic computer system that's laughable to anyone outside the company, gaining NO new skills, NO new talents. I have 5 meetings this week, only one of which effects my job in any way/shape/form. I have just guzzled down a cup of sub-Maxwell house coffee, which I hate. It has small specks of crap in it, which I don't believe are really coffee. I think this is the definition of "drab."

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Friday, September 10, 2004

Ithaca, NY - an adventure described via food - part 3

I love the smell of breakfast cooking in the morning. Be it pancakes or bacon or soysages or whatever. And, in the comfy environment of upstate New York, it doesn't get much better. Well, as it turned out, the baking that I smelled, while puttering around in the morning, got turned a bit on it's head. The host at the B&B was attempting to make blueberry muffins, but, unfortunately, she forgot to grease the muffin tin. So, rather than put it all to waste, we got a chance to try a blueberry-bread-type-casserole-thing. Yea, it was a bit odd, but tasted good and that's all that really matters.

There was, as well, the usual (granola, yogurt & fresh fruit), which we munched on, until a Mexican-inspired...frittata? again, not quite sure here, was served up. This was actually really good and I mowed on quite a bit of it (we were, like yesterday, the only ones eating).
It's good that we ate heartily though, as it would be awhile before our next meal. Instead, it was time to start guzzling the wine that the Finger Lakes area is so famous for.

First, it was up to Bully Hill winery. Bully Hill is one of the largest wine producers in the region and, as such, had their tourist routine down to a T. A greeter leads you to a free tour (which was only o-kay...) and, from the free tour, moves you right into a 5-for-a-dollar wine tasting (oh so surprisingly, right next to the wine shop ;). The tasting started out okay, with a pleasant white (though a bit sweet for our tastes), but, just a few drinks in, got scary when they pulled out...the Pink Catawba. Now, no insult meant to those who enjoy this most sweet cheap wine. But, we are not fans. While I have a liking for huge reds, Genevieve likes dry, fruity whites...somewhere in-between, color-wise, just doesn't do it for us. This was, in addition, followed by two more, each sweeter than the next, and ended with a wine made from concord grapes which Genevieve insists tasted like Manischewitz.

Not wanting to stick around to tour the store, we booked it down the road to another well known winery, Dr. Frank's. This was more our taste. The brash delivery of Bully Hill's was countered, by well-educated (and rehearsed) discussions on the wines we were trying. There was also subtly to the wines, including one which had the surprisingly citric taste of a grapefruit. It was all much more pleasant and enjoyable and we walked out of there with a bottle of Pinot Gris (for Genevieve) and a Cabernet Sauvignon (for myself).

At this point, our diet had consisted of only wine and crackers and we were anxious to grab some real food. But, by this time, it was also about 3pm, so, not wanting to spoil our dinner, we had a quick couple of (mediocre) corn & tomato burritos at a local Bakery/Sandwich shop and headed on to explore the city. Then, it was up to Bellweather Cidery, purveyors of locally made hard cider. We'd seen a stand of theirs at the Farmer's Market, but I wanted the chance to try them before picking up a bottle. The Cidery was low-key to the point of being invisible, when compared to the pomp of the local wineries. The store was run by one, slightly rude, older man, offering relatively informal tastings. The cider seemed to reflect the place and was much more subtle and wine-like that hard ciders I'd had in the past. The host explained that it was "European style". Whether this is true or not, who knows. It was good though and I walked out with a bottle of their 'Liberty Spy'. Walking out of the Cidery was pretty much it for us. Just a few tastings and we were ready to stop with the alcohol and get some real food.

After lots and lots of hemming and hawing, bouncing back and forth between Mexican, Thai and Bar-style grub, we settled on a local restaurant named 'Taste of Thai'. Like most all places around, their vegetarian selection was extensive and Genevieve enjoyed an awesome plate of Cashew Chicken (tofu), whilst getting flirted at (though she will insist not) by the waiter. I grabbed a powerful spiced Garlic and Pepper Chicken (yes, real) plate, which was a bit too garlicky (shock-horror!) for Genevieve, but I loved it. With our meals we had....water...just plain old water.

Last day coming soon..

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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Ithaca, NY - an adventure described via food - part 2

After sleeping in, enjoying the quiet country morning, we headed down to breakfast. Now, I've found every B&B to be pretty diverse with what consists of the Breakfast end of things. While a place like Robin's Nest, in Toronto, will serve eggs with brie and other fancy bits of food goodness, others will go for something as simple as pancakes and bacon. Since Brookton Hollow is vegetarian run, we knew we could count on at least one thing: there'd be no bacon or sausage for Genevieve to politely decline. Instead, for morning #1, we were treated to: homemade granola served with yogurt and fresh fruit, as well as French (Freedom!) toast with a fruit sauce (the latter of which an experiment on the part of the cook). The other people staying there had declined breakfast, so we were faced with more food than we could possibly eat. But, we managed and it was all very good.

We then headed out to the Ithaca Farmer's Market. Now, my only real market experience is with City markets, like our West Side one. And, great as it is, it's a whole different animal than what we had there. First, the "Farmer's" statement is a bit incorrect. Yes, there were alot of people hawking produce fresh from their gardens. But there were also small booths selling premade food, pottery, jewelry and soaps. It's a statement to the mouth-watering delights they had there, that, just barely an hour after we'd stuffed ourselves with breakfast, we were already being harkened by the food there. In all, we walked out with some *amazing*, (as in, if I had to live on something for a year, this would be *it*) Corn Fritters, served with chipotle aioli and soy dipping sauces, a bunch of perfectly sweet/tart/crunchy apples (which I am still working on) and, unfortunately, a bland bland bland mix of various Southern Indian curries. We also vowed to return for lunch, having only tried a small fraction of what was available.

We made true on that promise, after a few hours of hiking in some beautiful gorges. This time, we grabbed an order of Peanut Noodles (excellent) and a Thai Stir Fry plate with Basil rice (and more Corn Fritters!). The Thai Stir Fry was another disappointment though. Okay, here's the thing. We love Thai food. But, it feels like you're always taking a chance with the coconut milk content. Coconut milk, used in appropriate quantities, adds an awesome creamy and distinct flavor to the food. Used wrongly, as it was here, it overpowers the dish, masking any other item with it's pungent flavor. It's also upsetting to ye olde stomach.

Our next culinary adventure was later in the day, for dinner, at a local restaurant called Pangea. This was our one fancy dinner of the trip and, to celebrate, Genevieve got dolled up in a beautiful black dress and I did my best to not appear as the slouch I am.

Pangea took a unique view on the dining experience. Instead of offering appetizers & entrees, you could get every (well, almost) item on the menu in three sizes. Appetizer, medium/shared plate or entree. So, if you wanted, you could have a whole meal of small plates or mix and match, all from the same section of the menu. The food style was fusion, which seems to dominate the restaurants we go to. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. For our main dinner, we opted to sharing a variety of plates. Started things off with a corn salad with balsamic vinaigrette and frisee, which was very good, if not a bit much vinaigrette. We then got a sun-dried tomato risotto (freggin AMAZING!) and a plate of grilled squid, which I, obviously, could not share. The squid was well prepared and not too chewy. Dinner was finished off by a pair of awesome deserts: a chipotle chocolate cake with chili ice cream and a chocolate lava (think warm, gooey chocolate goodness encased in solid cake). Both desserts were outstanding. But, unfortunately, that ends
Day 2 of Ithaca, NY. More to come...

If you'd like to check out a sample menu from Pangea and find out more of what they're all about, head here:
http://www.pangearestaurant.com/ginkgo.html

Until tomorrow.

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We interrupt our normal food talk for a special bulletin:

At 9:30 A.M. this morning, Lauren Spisak escaped from her cage in Independence, Ohio. She is considered extremely dangerous and should be approached with extreme caution (and the assistance of special breathing apparatus).

The official zoology board has released a photo. If you see her, please, do not attempt to apprehend her yourself. Doing so may result in unnecessary damage to your sense of sight and smell.



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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Ithaca, NY - an adventure described via food - part 1

The first thing we noticed, heading into Ithaca via state route 93, was the abundance of roadside farm stands. Sure, in Ohio, you get these out in the country. But, up in NY, they were *everywhere*. Even the falling-in-abandoned-looking shack, with the "Open" sign that I thought had been wearing out up there since 1952...well, was open. Corn, tomatoes and apples were in season and you couldn't drive a mile without hitting one or two people hawking these wares. (We also noticed that everyone and their mom was having a yard sale was well, but anyways...).
Normally, we'd be driving out of the area with an armful of produce, but we had a bigger destination in hand, so..good or bad..we didn't get the chance to stop at any of these stands.

Instead, our first taste of upstate New York food came, appropriately enough, from Moosewood Restaurant. For the veggies out there, Moosewood will ring a loud bell in your stomach. Back before Burger King carried a veggie burger, or pseudo-chicken could be had at any corner grocery store, there was Moosewood. Churning out good vegetarian food (though they do consider Fish to be vegetarian - a holdover from their start in the 70's that I assume they were never able to kick) in their restaurants and spreading the word via their very popular Cookbook, which has since spawned a number of others. The Moosewood cookbook line was one of the first I cooked from and continues to be a staple around the house. Sure, they're not the *best* recipes out there, by far, but they're solid. So, it was a weird thing for me to go to the restaurant, after being so familiar with their line of books. I almost felt like it was a book, come to life (even if it wasn't exactly a narrative book ;) But, it was very enjoyable. Though the prices were on the slight side of steep, most likely because of their name value, the food was good and very tied to the simple wholesome style put out in their line of books. Genevieve got a stuffed portabella mushroom with cabbage and cheese, served with beets (and another side I can't remember) and I got a Pesto Lasagna.. along with my first taste of local alcohol, a bottle of Ithaca Brewing Company's I.P.A.. The latter was actually not bad. Though it didn't have the cutthroat taste of other I.P.A.'s I've had, the taste was solid with a good level of hoppy bite.

Rather than get desert there, we finished our meal off with some homemade chocolate covered strawberries and wine (okay, that was not homemade) I had brought with us to the B&B.
end day one ..to be continued..

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