Monday, December 28, 2015

My second attempt at a curry dish.

My first attempt at a curry dish was not a disaster, it was worse than that...totally unpalatable, unless you enjoy eating paste. I had the ingredients, but did not have the information on just how to build the dish. The only reason I am trying again is because I love curry and wish to make it myself.

My good friend Roxanne knew I had really screwed up a curry dish months ago and invited me to watch how it is done. I readily accepted because my wife would have been the first person to chirp in about my ability to "following written instruction". I guess I pretty much suck at instructions, which is why Donna always assembled toy gifts or new appliances.

Here are some of the ingredients that Roxanne was so gracious to allow me to capture in my head, and the sequence in which they were added. 

My new sauce pan just waiting for me to start a new adventure.  I sautéed with butter (she used bacon fat, but I can't capture that because those damn microwave bacon trays are so hard to clean) with onion, celery, apple, jalapeno and some bell pepper.

Red onion is chopped up in the background and some ginger root, in my hand, is also chopped up. Ginger was just something that Roxanne said you could add, along with the celery, I just wasn't sure about how much, so I erred on the side of, just a pinch.

Besides the apple, I was to add a whole jalapeno and some  bell pepper. 

I sautéed the onion, celery, apple bell pepper and jalapeno for a bit before adding some chicken stock.

Now comes the chicken stock, salt, pepper, turmeric, curry (spicy) and ground red peppers. One problem here was that there were no exact amounts that I was to add (because I was just watching and not writing down the instruction like I should have) so it was a guessing game on how much to put of each ingredient. Later I remembered that Roxanne kept tasting mixture with a spoon...but by the time I did remember this, it was too late.

Oh shit! I forgot that I needed to strip the chicken of some meat for my chicken curry to work. Roxanne boiled her turkey for a couple of days before stripping it, I had only minutes to do the same.

Like Roxanne, I wisely used a saved container to put my thickener in, unlike the used coffee jug was so tall it made it very difficult to stir. Ok, so Roxanne said to put some flour in her smaller mixing, not wanting to screw it up says how much? (I'm used to cooks that work with definitive weights and measures) and she yells "just put a couple of spoonfuls in...doesn't matter exactly how much!" Ok, Ok, now I see why it didn't matter, you just put in some water in and kept mixing until the desired thickness of the thickener was produced.

The thickener was slowly added to my sautée but in my haste, I put too much in, and had to then again add more chicken stock to compensate. In the meantime, I was microwaving some "real" brown rice, which I won't do next time...too long to cook!

How I do? Fantastic!!!! Was it as good as Roxanne's..."Hell no"! Was it better than the first time? "Hell yes"! It was very hot (which is why the sliced bananas are present) but also very good, which is great because I have enough for the next three nights.
Donna loved to cook and I loved to eat so I never...ever, got in the way of the kitchen while she was busy...the downside is I never learned anything about food, combinations, measurements or just plain cooking!
A special shout out to my friend Roxanne for allowing me to watch an expert in motion.

As strange as it seems, my favorite part of cooking is the cleaning... I can't wait to scrub, wipe down or just put away items that had been in's either I can't wait to do it, or I'm just a bit OCD about it...doesn't matter, I love to eat and clean.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Christmas Pajama Party (mini blog)

I was invited to a girls pajama party in Vegas (how could I pass that up) but I swore Cathy said "a négligée party" so I was really amped up over the invite! Vegas, Girls and Teddies?
These girls were Donna's BFF's for over 15 years. The group is down to just four women, two have moved away, and of course Donna's passing. They would all rent a cottage at the beach to eat and drink the weekend away. Sometime a cabin in Utah or maybe just camping at Mt Charleston, and then there were the charitable work weekends at the children's camp, while burning vacation days. It didn't seem to matter where or what they did, as long as they were together. (with a bottle or two of wine, of course)

I love these four girls, Kathleen, Carie, Betty Jo and Cathy and the two missing ones, Nancy and Diane...why? Because Donna loved them with her whole heart and they loved her right back...because of that, I too love all of them, with my whole being.
Cathy (in the red) is the one that sent me the invite. Every year the girls take great pains to plan a perfect Christmas party and she thought it would be good for me to be there, and good for the other three. 

I was the "secret" Santa, because only Cathy knew I was coming. We had taken precautions not to let the other girls know I was even near Vegas, let alone in the town. I just drove up for the day and am back at the Motorhome. (safe and sound, Judy!)
 The outpouring of surprise and love when I walked in on the party stunned even me...I have never had girls get that excited at seeing me before. :-)

First time I have ever had four girls in pajama's wanting to do 'selfies",
Cathy was so secretive that even John, her husband and photographer, did not know I was coming.

I had a wonderful time, good food, great wine and a chance to see many of the personal Christmas cards Donna worked for on days, just to send to her girlfriends. Thank you Carie, Cathy, Betty Jo and Kathleen, Nancy and Diane for being such good friends and loving Donna, as you all did. ❤️ 

Monday, December 14, 2015

California's Salton Sea

Because of the adverse weather, I thought today would be a good day to visit the Salton Sea. Donna and I went to the west side of the lake a few years ago and always meant to get to "Slab City" on the east side, but fell a little short of time. I'll finish that journey today.

The palm fronds don't all lean that way takes quite a blow to cause this.

The midsection of America is called the bread basket, well around the Salton Sea it's called America's Salad Bowl, because of the temperate weather in the winter. This field is just getting ready for a crop.

Date orchards are real big in the area, although I'm not sure how much of it stays in the states. I don't know anyone that eats dates on a regular basis. If you do drive through, by all means get a "date Shake"...they are to die for!

Since it is so close, I thought I'd make my pilgrimage to's a once in the lifetime trip.

The Salton Sea was not an accident of nature, but rather an accident of greed. Some developers dug two canals from the Colorado River, both without permission, but one of them illegally in Mexico to supply water for, what then was called the Salton Sink. Mother nature got pissed off and a flood in 1905 broke thru the canals and poured the full volume of the mighty river in the sink...for 16 months! To put that into proper perspective...for a year and a half, not one drop of the river water flowed to the Gulf of Mexico.

The state of California has a few good looking campgrounds and a visitor center. In its heyday, 1950's, the Salton Sea had more visitors than Yosemite Valley. Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there... but I digress.

 This is my first (and pretty sure, my last) visit to Slab City and its Salvation Mountain.

First isn't a mountain, it is barely 50 feet tall. Leonard Knight created this cliff painting with straw, adobe and "lead free" paint over the past years until his hospitalization in 2011.

Interesting is that Barbra Boxer, a California Senator addressed the US congress and stated "it is a unique and visionary sculpture...a national treasure...profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives". I'll have to take her word for it.

Slab City is a place Donna and I always wanted to visit because it's considered the last free place in from the cost of parking your RV in the desert, free from the government and free of police hassling you.

Free of the pesky HOA's

Free from the architectural committee.

Some of the of the spots have a view.

Free from garbage fees. Yeah, not really what I had envisioned, all the lipstick in the world won't help this pig. I've been in 3rd world countries that looked better than Slab City.

Bombay City was to be a booming community on the sea in the 60's until two hurricanes devastated the town in the 70's...hurricane in California? Yeah, right, who knew.

At least they left me with a beach chair.

Pilings far from the water's edge.

The sea had five major fish until the salinity increased from evaporation and farming to twice the ocean salt content, now only Tilapia are left in the sea...400,000,000 of them. There are constant die offs and the smell is distinct.

Hard to believe...but I have to check this out.

Na...after having lunch at the Spa and watching the volleyball game at the pool, unless they were in their 90's when the game started...the fountain of youth is not working.

The US Border and Customs was doing its job of protecting us near the border, thank you.

 In the 60's, some developers thought it would be a good idea to build a subdivision that mirrors Venice in California...with its romantic canals. Unfortunately the sea has lost about 10 feet of surface to evaporation, so the canals are sort of pathetic.

The loss of water and millions of fish still provide a good photo now and again.

The Salton Sea is one of the largest stopping point for migratory birds, including brown and white pelicans. I love watching the pelicans.

Did I mention that I love pelicans?
The dogs and I had a great day traveling the lower part of California that most people don't see.