Monday, June 29, 2015

You can't get anything at Alice's Restaurant !!!!

Now I'm sure many of you have heard of the famous "Thanksgiving Day Massacree" that occurred just outside of Stockbridge, MA around 1965 and was chronicled by Arlo Guthrie in the song Alice's Restaurant. For those of you who may have still been in a haze around then, Arlo is the son of Woody Guthrie.

So, to give you a little background here is the opening to the song:
This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant,that's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Alice's Restaurant. You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant. You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant. Walk right in it's around the back. Just a half a mile from the railroad track. You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Now as the song says, the restaurant isn't named Alice's. In fact, it is named "Teresa's Stockbridge Cafe." And yes, it is around the back, just a half mile from the railroad tracks, just off Main St. in Stockbridge MA. 

Having heard this song many times over the years, and being in the area of Stockbridge, we had to search it out.

There was just one small problem with this. After walking round the back, half mile from the railroad tracks, we came to find out that the cafe was closed. We couldn't get anything at Alice's. BUT since we had grown up with this great story, we decided that the pilgrimage here was worth it.

But wait folks, that's not the end of the original story, or our story.
Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be in.   
 So of course we had to drive over to the church. BUT Alice and Ray and Fasha don't live there anymore. In fact, we don't really know where they live now. BUT, they sold the church to Arlo. It is now the Guthrie Center. Home to many traveling folk singers both old and young.
Now, Arlo wasn't home that day but we talked to some nice folks that let us roam around the place, except for the bell tower which we really did want to see. BUT, we were glad that we got to see where the fabled "Thanksgiving Day Massacre" had occurred. And do you know what folks????? They still celebrate Thanksgiving there in the church 50 years after the first one.

Now for those of you who may not have heard the whole, entire, and complete story of that first ever Thanksgiving Massacree, and the half ton of garbage, and the 27 8x10 color glossy photographs with arrows and circles and a paragraph on the back, then you have three choices.
 1. You can download the lyrics of Alice's Restaurant by googling it.
 2. You can hop over to iTunes or Amazon and listen to the song. All 18 minutes of it.  YES, it is 18 minutes long, which is probably why it never made it into the top 40 list.
3. OR you can go to YouTube and watch the movie version. BUT we have to warn you ahead of time..... It is one of the worst movies we have ever seen.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cabbage-Chicken Stir Fry

This is a very easy recipe (our favorite type). after returning home from a short trip to visit friends in Canada, we found a cabbage that had been missed when we were emptying out the fridge before we left home.

And, the cabbage was still OK. A grocery store run included a rotisserie chicken for use in several meals this week. And since we had the cabbage, I trolled online sites for recipes that used both ingredients. There were a LOT.

This recipe uses chicken breasts, which are cooked. But, if you are using pre-cooked chicken (like me) skip ahead to step 5, then add the chicken after the veggies have been sauteed. As a variation, try a substitution of shrimp instead of chicken.

Cabbage-Chicken Stir Fry 
  • 3 chicken breast halves or slices from cooked rotisserie chicken
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3 C green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small thinly sliced onion
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch (I substituted arrowroot)
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1⁄4 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
Optional ingredients: mushrooms, scallions, yellow and green peppers
  1. Cut chicken breasts into strips.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat (350 degrees in an electric skillet).
  3. Add chicken strips and stir fry, turning constantly until done; remove from pan. (If using already-cooked chicken add later after cabbage is cooked)
  4. Add onion and pepper and sauté until soft; remove from pan.
  5. Add cabbage and sauté until cabbage is crisp-tender.
  6. Mix cornstarch and seasonings; add chicken broth and soy sauce, mix until smooth. Stir sauce into chicken/cabbage mixture.
  7. Cook until sauce has thickened and chicken is coated, about 1 minute. 
Serve over rice of your choice, we skipped the rice and added crunchy noodles instead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Extreme Sports Anyone?

"Thanks Life" was (part of) a Facebook message posted by Gabriel Hubert, a BASE jumper in the above video. The post stated (expletives deleted): "Sun is shining . . . going wingsuiting . . . Thanks life."

For those unfamiliar with the term (like myself), BASE stands for building, antenna, span, and earth (cliff). BASE jumpers are experienced skydivers who parachute or wingsuit fly from a fixed structure or cliff.

Perhaps because it's there ?

Jumpers wear a specialized nylon outfit called a wingsuit that has fabric stitched between the arms and legs. It increases a jumper's surface area to allow flying at horizontal distances at a slower descent rate. Wingsuit fliers wear parachute equipment specially designed for skydiving or BASE-jumping.

Because of their appearance, wingsuits are called flying squirrel or birdman suits. Costs range from $1,000 to $2,000 (USD). Commercial wingsuits were developed in the 1990s although parachutists had experimented with wings as early as the 1930s. 

The sport is not without its dangers even for experienced sports enthusiasts. Hubert was an avid BASE jumper nicknamed "Ramrod." 

He became the 11th person to die in this extreme sport so far this year. 

The Facebook post was done before his second and last wingsuit jump two weeks ago. He was jumping near Canmore, Alberta with others who landed safely. Hubert's parachute failed to open and he hit a group of trees. He died at the scene.

In May, Dean Potter and Graham Hunt, two experienced U.S. jumpers were killed in Yosemite National Park while wingsuit BASE jumping. Potter set a record for completing the longest BASE jump from the Eiger North Face, Switzerland by staying in a wingsuit for nearly 3 minutes. He was featured in this National Geographic wingsuit documentary ironically titled, Fly or Die. In 2009. 

Which leads me to wonder . . .
WHY do people choose to participate in such potentially deadly sports and jump off buildings and cliffs?

It's NOT for me. I even avoid roller coasters and Ferris wheels.

How about YOU —  have you ever participated in an extreme sport ?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Day for Dads

Today, Sunday, June 21, is Father's Day. 

It's always celebrated on the third Sunday in June and this year coincides with the Summer Solstice.

To learn more about the holiday check out the History website.

Our fathers have been gone for many years, but we celebrate them on their day — and remember them always.

My dad, Anthony, is shown with myself and brother. As you can see, this photo was taken on a celebration day (1st Communion). My dad would have celebrated his birthday last week.

This collage (prepared several years ago) shows Pat's dad, Robert, with his sister and wife.
Being a father and now grandfather is an important role in Pat's now.

If you are so fortunate as to have your father, stepfather, grandfather or other significant male relative or friend in your life, call him/them today. You will all have a GREAT Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Nothing new today except to say . . .
To ALL who take the time to comment on our ramblings posts. We read every one and do appreciate your feedback. (Comments are off for this post.)
The graphic was obtained online via a search for "free" images; our thanks to the artist.

Dorothy & Pat
(aka Beatrice & Grenville)

Enjoy your Weekend, Everyone

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday Phunnies

Remember all the wonderful Snow Scenes we had from this winter?

Now you see it!!!!!!!

Now you don't!!!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stupid Stuff

Please Note the purpose of this post is not criticize personal choices. It is meant to express my views and solicit reactions to a widely covered "event." And, the reference to nationalities in this post is based solely on where we were at the time and local reports.

As we were traveling "internationally" last week, we kept current on world events by reading the daily Canadian newspaper and through Internet news sites as well. 

No, we were not very far away, just across the border visiting friends in Canada. But our wireless carrier (and others possibly) consider our northern neighbor a "foreign" country and apply very high phone rates for outgoing and incoming calls. We solved that problem by turning off cell data and relied on wi-fi provided with our accommodations.

And, among the headlines in the Canadian National Post, I read this one:

Naked tourists blamed for earthquake
And the added subtitle: Canadians Doing 'OK'

For those of you who may not have read or heard of this news story, here's a synopsis as read in the National Post: Two Saskatchewan siblings were among 10 people (Canadians, Dutch, German, Asian) who were barred from leaving Malaysia after allegedly posing naked (and/or semi-clothed) atop Mount Kinabalu, the country's highest mountain, which local people consider sacred. 
(Photo credit to Wikipedia.)

How sacred ?
The mountain's official website has a Tips section and under the Important Tips subsection has several areas including: Important Notes for Climbers of Mount Kinabalu that contains the warning: "DO NOT SHOUT, SCREAM or CURSE the mountain at any point in time." (Yes it is written in caps and boldface as displayed as is the heading for the "Important Notes section.).

How word spread . . .
A climber from Hong Kong, and a member of the group, posted "Time of my life" to his Facebook page which in itself wasn't a problem, but he also included photos of several men posing in underwear and topless women too.

What was he thinking . . .
Apparently, not much except displaying his own ignorance. Needless to say, the photos spread on social media and also news media. Apparently, a local park ranger discovered the act and made an official complaint to police. (Yes, you can find the photo online but I choose not to include it here; there is no need to do so.) 

What happened . . .
While posing nude isn't usually blamed for causing earthquakes, scarcely a week after the FB posting, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake killed 18 climbers when it sent rocks and boulders crashing down trekking routes. The quake damaged roads and buildings in Sabah. Local officials blamed the disaster on the tourist's exhibitionism stating that they angered and disrespected the mountain spirits at the sacred site.

Wondering WHY?
According to a legal counsel representing the Canadians before a Malaysian judge: "The group stripped because they challenged one another to stand the cold of the mountain as temperatures hovered around 0 degrees." The lawyer added  that they were "ignorant of the culture, tradition and belief of the local people."

Seems they were ignorant of many other things that involve mountain climbing. As the previously referenced Important Notes for Climbers section is full of "Do's and Don't."

Outcome . . .
The group of charged tourists pleaded guilty to public obscenity for the mountain top performance, fined $1,800 each, detained several days then deported. 
A public statement issued by the Canadians read (in part): "During our personal trekking experience, we were not made aware of the sacredness of the mountain . . . there was absolutely no ill intent. . . this is an experience that we have learned from and will never forget." 

And, the statement ended with a quote attributed to American humorist Mark Twain: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society."

But, in this case that seemed not so true.

It’s also been reported that a special ritual will be held to appease the angered mountain spirits. (Perhaps an offering of the guilty offenders would be helpful?)

Equally interesting, and somewhat amusing, was a quote attributed to the father of the two Canadians: "Would you tell your parents you did this?"

As a general reply, most would not. But, as we know, things are different now and this event and others are being shared with the entire world through social media by the phenomena  known as "going viral." 

And with all due respects to Mr. Twain, who is one of my favorites, here's a preferred quote from another well-known American philosopher, Forrest Gump: Stupid IS as Stupid DOES.

Enough said.

What are your views?
(Please no inappropriate comments)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Good Reads

As most regular readers of this blog already know, Grenville and Beatrice (Pat and Dorothy) enjoy cooking — and eating as well.

We share a collection of cookbooks and clipped recipes, culled out over the years, but then added to over time, And, there's the endless variations of online recipes. 

That said, reading about food prep and cooking is enjoyable. And, two recently read works of fiction by Erica Bauermeister feature both. Unlike other novels, like the Hannah Swensen mysteries by Joanna Fluke which include recipes for baked goods or the delightful recipes in Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, there are no recipes in Ms. Bauermeister's works. She has, however, provided some recipes on her website.

Ms. Bauermeister's style reminded me of a favorite author Maeve Binchy as she focuses on strangers brought together and united by their kitchen creations.

The School of Essential Cooking (2009) relates the story of a once-a-month cooking school that's set in a restaurant kitchen and led by the owner/chef, Lillian. Classes are held on Monday night when the restaurant is closed. Lillian neither tells the students about the recipes in advance or provides cooking instructions or precise measurements. 

Instead, her eight students learn by doing and experiencing.  Among them is Claire, a young woman coming to terms with her new identity as a mother; Tom, a lawyer whose life has been upended by loss; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer adapting to life in America; and Carl and Helen, a long-married couple whose union contains unsuspected surprises. 

The story is not as much about food, as on the personal lives of students in the cooking school and their relationships with others — in and out of class. They've come to learn the art behind chef Lillian's creations, but it becomes apparent that each seeks a recipe for something else in their lives. 

Only after finishing the previous novel, did I learn of a 2013 follow-up, The Lost Art of Mixing, that continued the stories of some characters in the previous novel and introduced four new characters. It starts one year after the cooking classes has ended.

The sequel, like its predecessor, is about food, but isn't centered around a cooking class. Chef Lillian is still a main character, but not the only one. There's the accountant Al, who finds meaning in numbers; Louise, his anger-laden wife; Chloe, an emerging sous chef; Finnegan, the tall and reticent dishwasher and Isabelle, whose memories are slipping quickly.

Both these novels were enjoyable and fast reads. At present, Ms. Bauermeister hasn't prepared (or cooked up) any similar novels. 

What's YOUR "taste" in reading?

Monday, June 15, 2015

The British Are Coming

Actually they've arrived by these sights we saw this weekend.
One thing we've learned on our road trips is that we never know when the unexpected will happen as it did this past Saturday, as we were returning from a trip to visit friends in Mississauga, Ontario.

For about an hour, we were travelling behind this convoy of classic MGs on the NY Thruway. After losing sight of them in highway traffic, we didn't expect to see them again. Surprisingly, we all of stopped at the same rest stop in New York state.

Grenville once owned an MG Midget, so (of course) we had to stop and chat with the car owners. It seems that the cars and their owners, who are members of the Connecticut MG Club, were returning from a British car show in Niagara Falls.

The weather was getting warm and before leaving the rest stop, all the car tops has been put down before the group headed on the road again. 

And, we figured that would be the last time we would see this congenial and very friendly group.

How wrong that assumption turned out to be. Because, once again, we met up at a rest stop, but in another state this time. It was outside Lee, MA, and once the conversation started. We were considering a lunch stop, other than the fast food franchises at the rest stop, and the the CT folks were as well. How ironic we thought. 

Getting off the highway, we all came to the Housatonic Cafe, a deli and sandwich eatery in Lee, MA.

The cafe is housed in a restored Victorian house, with both indoors and outdoors seating. It features made-to-order deli sandwiches and freshly made ices and ice cream. It was a great alternative to fast food. 

We had a nice time lunching with our new-found friends. We learned that several would be attending a British car show in Hudson, NH next month. And now, we plan to attend as well.

Betcha you can easily spot our car in the midst of these vintage autos.

Hint: It's the largest one, by far.
Just wondering if anyone else has had an unexpected/chance encounter.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tomato Watermelon Salad

Tomatoes and watermelon are perfect summer treats when eaten alone. But, combine them together and they're a wonderful merge of flavors. And, combining tomatoes and watermelons isn't that unusual, as tomatoes are considered a fruit. In fact, some folks have said what grows together, goes together which I'm not entirely sure applies to everything.

Seasonality is the key to this recipe that's best made during spring and summer months. That's when ingredients are at their peak of flavor and readily available in supermarkets and market stands. Its bright hues and refreshing flavors make this the perfect side dish for summer entertaining.

Delicious served as a side dish or main course. This salad is best served at room temperature. Dress the salad right before serving.

Tomato Watermelon Salad (dressing is first)
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 beefsteak (or other large variety) tomatoes, stemmed, washed and dried
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed, washed and dried
  • 1 TBSP chopped tarragon leaves; mint leaves work too
  • 4-6 strawberries, hulled, washed and cut into small pieces
  • Thinly sliced cucumber (optional)
  • Sea salt to season
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tsp superfine (or granulated) sugar
  • 6 ounces cold watermelon rind removed, seeded, cut into bite-size cubes
An optional addition of chopped avocados adds more flavor and texture. 
  1. In a bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
  2. Place the tomatoes on a flat surface. Cut the smaller ones in half and the larger ones into slices. Arrange in a single layer, flesh side up and season with salt, black pepper and sugar. Drizzle the tomatoes with the dressing. Toss with the tarragon and strawberries.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes down the length of 6 rectangular plates. Drizzle with the remaining dressing (may need another whisk) and top with watermelon. Serve immediately.
This salad looks so colorful, you might be tempted to look at it, but (trust me) it's best enjoyed when eaten.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Enough Already ?

Please Note that the purpose of this post is not criticize personal choices. It is meant to express my views and solicit reactions to a widely covered public announcement.

It's a fact that Bruce Jenner has transitioned and publicly announced "he" is now a "she" who called Caitlyn Jenner.

And, by now, most people know that Jenner is a transgender, who has obviously gone through extensive facial reconstruction and body sculpting. Evidence of this transformation was shown on the Vanity Fair magazine cover plastered on media outlets over the past week.

But is this man truly now a woman? 

In my opinion, he is not in the sense of not having been born a female. And, I hold the same opinion for a woman who transitions to a man and calls herself "male." For me, a person's sex is the one he or she was born with, although I will concede they do not agree. That is their prerogative.

Lest you think this is transgender bashing, it is NOT. 

Like many others, I agree that Jenner is entitled to live his life; granted he's had some uphill struggles — as have others in similar or differing situations. Life is not easy for those who "feel differently" or who have suffered with adversity; it comes in many forms from bullying to "body shaming" and much more..

This post is not aimed at judging anyone's actions. 

However, I object to being bombarded by all forms of media  concerning Jenner's very personal and now very public choice. Thanks to this over-extensive media blitz, is there anyone who doesn't know that Jenner will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award (no discussion on that decision).  Also, I read that "fans will further understand and follow Caitlyn's new life when an 8-part E! docu-series airs in late late July." Do people really need/want to know all this?

Aren't there are so many more important issues throughout the world.

What are your views?
(Please no inappropriate comments)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Good Reads

There are good reads, fun reads and sometimes there are wildly absurd reads.
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared fits into all of those categories.
This bestselling 2009 debut novel by Swedish journalist and novelist Jonas Jonasson chronicles the (very) highly improbable misadventures of centenarian Allan Karlsson, who decides there’s more to life than the nursing where he currently resides.
Allan is no ordinary or reluctant senior citizen.
He’s also an explosives expert, who started out in munitions as a boy, blew up his neighbor’s cow, and later his own home. That explosion was on purpose as you learn.
Perhaps that’s WHY the novel has become a worldwide bestseller and is considered Sweden’s answer to Forrest Gump, the 1986 novel by Winston Groom. And, it too has been made into a feature film. 
But unlike Forrest who is moody, Allan is upbeat and sees the good in most people. But very unlike Forrest, he prefers vodka shots to boxes of chocolate.
Swedish fiction like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larssson, has focused on grim thrillers. The 100 Year Old Man propels Scandinavian fiction to an extremely light-hearted direction, which is OK with me as I could never get through Larsson's trilogy.
Allan skips out as the press, residents, and the town’s Mayor await his entrance. He exits his bedroom window, goes to the bus station and buys a ticket based to the farthest destination he can afford. A young man asks him to temporarily mind a suitcase. The bus comes before the man returns and Allan leaves with the suitcase hoping it contains a change of clothes; instead it’s full of a LOT of cash. Soon, Allan finds himself pursued by the police as a missing person and by a biker gang who want the suitcase back.
Jonasson moves through Karlsson’s life recounting the fugitive centenarian’s explosive career. 
Allan has witnessed or participated in noteworthy bombings of the 20th century and traveled the world sharing meals and vodka shots with Truman, Stalin, Churchill, Franco, de Gaulle and Mao’s third wife. In a Soviet Gulag, he befriends Herbert Einstein, described as “Albert’s idiot half brother,” and spends months trying to explain an escape plan to him.
In addition to being pursued by the biker gang, he teams up with dubious characters, including a hot dog seller, eternal student and feisty woman with a pet elephant. And along the way is involved in a couple of (accidental) murders
Ridiculous and absurd you think? Yes, it's all that and more.
Curious?  You can either read the book, see the movie — or both,

Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Funnies

All tied up . . .

No danger of this sign getting away.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pasta, Zucchini and Shrimp

By now, most readers of this blog know a couple of things about Grenville and myself: we enjoy eating, but we really enjoy cooking at home. Easy and tasty are among our favorite recipe terms.

This is a very easy recipe perfect for summer dining (or any other time of year). 

It's especially good now when fresh veggies and herbs are readily available either in your local market, garden or farm stand. BUT, I decided to prepare it before going shopping (as the photo shows) and used dried herbs — fresh ones next time.

Pasta with Zucchini and Shrimp

The recipe originally served 4 to 6 and was featured on a recent public television episode of Cooking with Nick Stellino 2. I also had a variation in our bookshelf copy of the 1997 cookbook, Nick Stellino's Mediterranean Flavors. (We also like cookbooks.)
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. small, peeled, uncooked shrimp (whole or cut in half)
  • 1/2 lb. pasta (penne, rigatoni, bow ties)
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh basil OR 1/2 tsp dried *
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley OR 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh mint OR 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves OR 1 tsp jarred chopped garlic
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 C dry white wine
  • 1/2 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • Grated cheese to taste

* If fresh herbs are not available, the substitution is: 1 tablespoon fresh herbs are equal to 1 teaspoon of dried herbs. Another rule of thumb is half dried herbs in place of when a recipe calls for fresh herbs.
  1. Cook pasta until it is “al dente” (firm) vs. soft; translates to cooking for less than the specified package time.
  2. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan, add shrimp and cook 30-45 seconds (do not fully cook) season with salt and pepper while cooking.
  3. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon while still under-cooked.
  4. Add chunked zucchini to olive oil and cook over high heat until softened. Add chopped garlic, parsley, mint, basil and (if using) red pepper flakes to zucchini.
  5. Pour in white wine to deglaze pan; add chicken stock; then add turmeric.
  6. Put shrimp back into sauce before adding “al dente” pasta. The sauce will be absorbed by the pasta.
  7. Add butter to sauce, then sprinkle with grated cheese.
And, this last step is the best — MangiaEat and enjoyServe topped with some fresh basil or parsley (if desired), a side salad and the rest of the white wine opened for cooking.

According to Chef Nick, grated cheese is never served on shellfish in Italy, but he noted that this was his recipe — now it's ours and (maybe) yours, as well.