Friday, February 27, 2009

Aye...that'll warm yer belly

A couple of weeks ago, I was talkin to a friend of mine who's originally from Maine. She was tellin me about a fish chowdah (yea...even though she's been in Illinois for quite some time now, that accent still slips in now and again) that she made that was so good. She didn't give me a recipe...I don't think she has one. It's just one of those things that she'd always made...ya know?

Now, I make a mean oyster stew. I make it pretty often in the winter 'cause we love it. And I loooove clam chowder, but I've never tried to make it from scratch.

Anywho, since it's supposed to get cold again this weekend, I thought I might give the fish chowder a whirl.

So, what's in Pammy's pantry?

Lessee..I've got a couplea cans of Cherrystone clams. I've got potatoes. I've got corn starch. I've got dried celery flakes and a big can of Old Bay. And in the fridge, I've got milk, half and half, butter, Worcestershire sauce, onions, crushed garlic...oooohhh!...and I've got a nice slab of leftover baked fresh tilapia.

The chowdah is on. And is it ever gooooood!

Since I pretty much ad-libbed the recipe, I'll try to guesstimate it as best I can.

2 cans diced clams, including the juice
Approx. 1/3 lb. fresh fish of your choice (use a firm-fleshed tilapia, cod or orange roughy) cut into bite-sized pieces
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 T fresh, crushed garlic
1 T dried celery flakes
2 t Old Bay
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t real butter
splash of olive oil
1 pint fat-free half and half
3-4 C milk (I used 2%)

Use a Dutch oven or stockpot.
Melt the butter and add a splash of olive oil. Sautee the onion until translucent and add the garlic, celery flakes, Old Bay and salt and pepper to taste. Throw the diced potatoes in, add enough water to just cover and cook until tender. If the fish is raw, throw it in there with the potatoes to cook. If it's leftover like mine was, WAIT. If you add it now, it'll fall apart. DO NOT DRAIN THE WATER. You'll lose all that flavor. Add the 2 cans of clams and juice, Worcestershire sauce, half and half and milk.

Taste it. If it seems a little "rich"...and it might with all that half and half...add a little more water. Add the leftover fish, if that's what you're using.

Now turn your stove burner down as low as it'll go and let it hang out...I hour? let all the flavors meld. But don't let the milk scorch! Ewwww! Stir it once in a while.

Now, if you like a "thin" soup, it's pretty much done. But I like my chowdahs thick. So I mixed up a little corn starch in you'd do to make gravy...brought the soup up barely to a boil and stirred in the corn starch slurry to thicken. You could also use milk and flour, but I find the corn starch is a lot easier. It makes a nice stoup. Not quite a stew...not quite a soup. A stoup.

Serve with a hearty, crusty bread. Or a nice salad. Or both.

I'm thinkin you could also add a few shrimp and/or some nice scallops, too. Ooooo...wouldn't that be good?

Too bad I didn't have a nice lobstah hangin out in the fridge.

I got a monkey on my back

I know...I know. Just one short post ago, I was waxing poetic about how much I love my home.

Well, I do. I don't really need a bigger house.

But a smidge under 1,000 square feet of living space just isn't enough to feed this damn monkey on my back.

Monkey, thy name be....amateur interior decorator.

Do they have a seven-step program for those addicted to cunning little lamps, faux fur, Parsons chairs, micro-suede fabric and paint swatches? Is there any kind of...intervention... for those who find themselves simply unable to resist that utterly adorable zebra-striped area rug? Is there a methadone clinic out there that caters to the HGTV-addicted?

Is there a patch or gum to help me resist places like
  • West Elm
  • or
  • Pier One
  • or any of the three gazillion furniture/home decorating stores, both online and off, that I've recently been browsing?

    I mean...c'mon...just how many friggin pillows does one need for that brand new sofa...that hasn't even been delivered yet?

    But. But. But. Those rectangular red pillows that I snagged at TJ Maxx will be perfect against that espresso brown fabric! Just you nevermind about that half-dozen throw pillows that I already have. (Oh, yea. I forgot about TJ Maxx. They have awesome pillows.)

    And the damn sofa'll be here tomorrow, ok?

    And I reeeeallllly needed a couple of these...

    ...from the afore-mentioned West Elm. Well. Because. That's why. I mean, they'll be perfect as little pendant lights hanging over the half-wall, doncha think?

    And ya know that pair of modern looking, low-slung, wicker and iron chairs that I've had for...oh...about seven years now? The ones that I really don't have room for, but simply can't get rid of because I love 'em so much?

    I will find a way to make 'em work in a knotty-pine paneled living room. It is too a "look". It's called eclectic, ok?

    Thank gawd there's not an IKEA around here.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    This is almost sacrilege... those of us of the Woodstock Generation.

    But I can't help it. I laughed my ass off, anyway.

    Turn the sound up and light a doobie. heh

  • What'd he say?

  • Gawd love ya, Joe.

    From my old bud,
  • Cat
  • ...who I'm glad to know is on the mend.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    The rarified air of Grandview Drive

    On the way home from work today, I decided to go through the Heights and take the leisurely way home...down Grandview Drive

    It truly is a beautiful area...even in the dead of winter.

    The view out over the bluff and across the Illinois River is breathtaking. It's so high that the boats and barges traveling up and down the river appear in miniature. The view almost always makes me cry. I's weird. For whatever reason, sights like that nearly always move me to tears. The Smokies do that to me, too. And the ocean. I bawled like a baby the first time I saw it.

    Aaaanywho, I got to thinkin as I meandered my way down the curvy street...and on down to the steep twists, turns and switchbacks that lead to Rt. 29.

    I wondered what it would be like to live up one of the "grand" homes. And there are some truly grand homes. We're not talkin your new McMansions, here, though there are a couple of those, too...sadly. We're talkin real mansions. Homes built in the early part of the century. There's even a castle, complete with turrets and a stone bridge across a small "moat". Some of the homes are gorgeous...some border on the ridiculous. But most all have some kind of character...real character. There are Tudors and Georgians and Mediterranean villas, complete with red tile roofs...and everything inbetween.

    I wondered who lived in those homes...what they did for a living and how they came to live where they do. Did they appreciate that quirky, old home for it's character...or for the prestige of the address? Do they truly appreciate the amazing view most of them they take it for they even see it on a day-to-day basis?

    Are they happy in their homes...with their astronomical mortgages and off-the-chart property taxes and ohmygawd, the upkeep on something like that. Because, even if they're filthy rich, the cost of living in a place like that has just gotta be mind-boggling. Do they work just to live there? Surely some of 'em do.

    And then I got to thinkin...why would anybody wanna do that? I they have anything left with? I'd hate to think that I'd hafta pour everything I made into a home and have nothing left over.

    And then I got to thinkin about our little style-less bungalow right on the river. We have a pretty amazing view, too...up close and personal, as it were. Though it isn't grand by any stretch of the imagination, it's cozy and warm and we've made it ours. It has everything we need in a home...well, except a hot tub (I'm workin on that)...and it certainly doesn't cost us an arm and a leg to live here.

    And I can't imagine one of those people up on Grandview loving their home any more than we do.

    I mean...c'mon...what's not to love?

    Monday, February 23, 2009

    Odds and ends

    Because all my ends are odd.

    I think Mickey Rourke is really Rocky Dennis...all grown up.

    I rest my case.

    And no. I didn't watch the Oscars. I don't imagine I could care any less about who won what or what they were wearing. But ya can't swing a cat without seein Rourke's horrific mug plastered somewhere.

    We met up with Ziggy's brother and his wife for our annual Christmas pizza at Blarney Castle Saturday night. Yea...I know...we were only a couple months late. I don't understand the big hoo-hah about Blarney's pizza. In a word, it's pretty...unremarkable. I guess ya shouldn't expect too much of a pizza from a place named Blarney Castle, huh?

    I was kinda surprised...pleasantly...that there was a coupla people smokin at the bar, though. I half expected the Anti-Smoking Storm Troopers to come bustin down the door and make a raid.

    Good on Mr. Blarney, whoever he is, for choosin to run his establishment the way he sees fit.

    Purge was the word of the day on Sunday. I finally decided to tackle the loft, aka The Pit. When we moved in here, we promised ourselves that the loft wouldn't become a dumping ground for...well...stuff. Ya know? Stuff that was too good to throw away? Stuff that you might use...three years from next Wednesday?

    Yea. Well.

    The loft isn't actually usable space. Oh, it could be used as a spare bedroom...if you don't stand up. Well, you can stand the center of the room...for about 4 inches either way. See, the ceiling slopes. Dramatically. From about 5 and a half feet to about 2 and a half.

    I don't know how many times I forgot that little fact....and whacked my head on the ceiling.

    Da Zigster, busy hauling things out as I threw 'em down, was entertained by my explosive outbursts.




    I've still got a headache.

    My newest time-waster?
  • Hulu

  • I'm currently in the middle of Season 1 of
  • St. Elsewhere

  • Whatta blast from the past! I loved it then and I love it now.

    It's really fun, too, to see the now-famous (or sorta famous) actors when they were just startin out in bit parts on tv. Tom Hulce. Ray Liotta. Tim Robbins.

  • new sofa
  • will be delivered this Saturday. I can hardly wait!

    See, I'm pretty impatient. When I want somethin, I want it now. That's one thing I hate about furniture shoppin. Most places nowadays don't keep furniture in stock...just "display" models. I hate that. When we bought our recliner a few months ago, I asked the salesperson if we could have the display...told her that if I couldn't take that one home with me, then I wasn't buyin any. It worked then.

    Didn't this time.

    What the hell. Didn't hurt to try.

    Friday, February 20, 2009


    ....and downright unuuuusual.

    Can't help it. I've got a penchant for the odd. The weird. The rare. The eclectic. The idiosyncratic.

    I don't want what somebody else has. I am not a lemming, dammit!

    I want something...different. And that doesn't necessarily apply just to my possessions. It applies to the friends I choose, my hobbies, my sense of "style", my attitudes concerning...well, just about everything from politics to food (
  • Andrew Zimmern
  • rawks!) to sex.

    Ok, that doesn't mean I have a fully equipped dungeon in my basement...or keep a sheep in the spare bedroom, ok? I'm not into the whips and chains thing, either. Although...uh....nevermind.

    The fact that I adore the abnormal is never more apparent than when we're talkin about my tchotchkes.

    I don't like a lot of clutter, so I'm not into "collections" of...anything. But I do have an...accumulation...of knick-knacks that ya probably wouldn't see in most decorating mags.


    I got this little broad as a birthday present from some dear friends. I was tickled pink that they knew me well enough to know I'd love her. We're not sure what she is...I think it might be an ashtray, but it has a hole in the bottom, so I'm not sure how well that'd work. The hole in the boob, though...kinky.

    Then, there's my newest acquisition...

    I snagged her on a recent excursion to Pier One, one of my favorite places to browse...and unfortunately for da I'm pretty sure she's a modern take on
  • The Venus of Willendorf
  • . She reminds me of me. Except I have bigger boobs.

    I do have one "collection"...

    We've been gathering 'em down on the beach ever since we moved here. In fact, I even made myself a necklace out of one of 'em and wore it for my wedding. I love the delicate, whirly shapes.

    'Course, livin right on the river like we do, I'm fond of most anything with a water-related theme.

    I bet you could count on one...maybe two...hands the amount of people in the this very minute...who have a wicker carp on their coffee tables.

    There are a few more...ah...eclectic...items floatin around here at the River Rat Retreat. But I'll save those for another day. I'm sure you're gettin bored. And so am I.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    And sometimes..."fearless" means I'm just plain stupid

    Your Word is "Fearless"

    You see life as your one chance to experience everything, and you just go for it!

    You believe the biggest risk is being afraid and missing out on something amazing.

    Sometimes your fearlessness means you're daring. You enjoy risky activities.

    And sometimes your fearlessness means you're courageous. You're brave enough to do the right thing, even when it's scary.

    Swiped from
  • Mrs. Who
  • .

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    The things ya hear whilst pokin around the local blogosphere

    I adore colorful language.

    Remember Rhett saying to Scarlett, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"?

    Wouldn't it have been really cool if he'd said, "Frankly you cat raping thundercunt, I don't give a rat's ass!"?

    Ok. Maybe not.

    Let's try this...

    Remember Cher slappin Nick Cage in Moonstruck and sayin, "Snap out of it!"?

    What if she'd said, "Snap out of it you cheese covered nutsack!"?

    Ohhhh, gawd...loooove it. hehehe

    So, next time you do somethin stupid while driving...and you hear somebody scream, "Use yer turn signal, you cheese covered nutsack!" Or if ya steal that parking spot that I've been waiting for and ya hear somebody screech, "You ignorant cat raping thundercunt!"...................

    It'll be me.

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    This isn't an infomercial

    Ok. It is. Sorta.

    See this sofa?

    I just ordered it Friday...and paid cash.

    No, I don't normally keep six or seven hundred bucks of "walkin around money" in my wallet, so if anybody's got any ideas about muggin me...well...faggadaboudid. You'd be lucky to get ten bucks. And ya just might get a good kick in the balls to go along with yer ten bucks.

    No...I didn't run by the handy-dandy ATM before hittin the furniture store.

    And no, we haven't gotten our income tax refund back yet, either.

    Didja know that gold is runnin in the neighborhood of 950 bucks an ounce right now? I didn't, either.

    See, I've had some old jewelry just layin around in my jewelry box for...oh...I dunno...a long time. Zig's old wedding old wedding set...a couple gold bracelets...a few broken gold chains that I just never got around to gettin fixed...a few single gold earrings (like...why did I even save 'em?)...a couple rings with some teeny diamonds...a few pieces that I just didn't wear anymore.

    Believe wasn't much as far as jewelry goes. What I sent in...well, you could hold it all in the palm of your hand. Easily.

    So, I've been hearin about some of these deals where you send in your gold and they send you a check. When I first heard about it, I thought...riiiiight. You send in your stuff and ya never hear from them again. Suuuucker! But then I heard about a company that just might be legit.

    And I figured...what the stuff can't be worth much, anyway. Some of the stuff was 10K, some was 14K...some pieces were broken and what wasn't, I wasn't wearin, anyway. So I took a deep breath, crossed my fingers and sent it in.

    Within 4 or 5 days, I got an email sayin they received the stuff. And within a week, I got a check back. A check big enough to buy a sofa I've been lusting after for quite some time. And it's a good quality sofa. From a real furniture store...not from some discount joint.

    I'm still kinda amazed...I had no idea I'd make enough to buy a friggin sofa fer chrissakes. I bought something nice that I reeeeeallly sellin somethin that I pretty much considered useless. Cool.

    Another cool thing...if I want to, I can refer other people...and earn a little commission. Honest ta's not one of those pyramid-type schemes. There's no contract. Nothin to buy. If I refer somebody else, I get a little swag. If I don't...well, I don't.

    And I almost forgot to add...if they send you a check for your stuff and you don't think it's enough, all ya gotta do is not cash the check, call their toll-free number and they'll send the stuff back to of charge. Oh...and it's free to send it in, too.

    If ya wanna know more, shoot me an email. The address is right over there.....>
    on the sidebar.

    Monday, February 09, 2009

    Fins up!




    We got tickets!!


    Saturday, February 07, 2009

    From the department of What the F*%K Were They Thinking??

    So there's a new gut drug out there...

    "Aciphex, with the generic name of Rabeprazole, is specially formulated to reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach."

    Yup. That would be pronounced Ass Effects.

    Ass Effects.

    Just exactly how many wunderkind marketing geniuses did it take to come up with this little gem? And how many millions of dollars did it take?

    And did anybody...anybody...stop to think what it sounds like when you say it out loud?

    Personally, I think it might be a great name for a diet drug.

    Ass Effects! You won't believe the effect it has on your big, fat ass!

    Or maybe one of those "personal lubricants"?

    You could add a little extra sibilancy (if that's not a word, it should be) to the pronunciation...

    Assssssss Effectsssss. So slick you won't even know he's there!

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    Ya know it's cold...

    ...when Stewie snuggles under the covers.

    Down below zero again tonight, with wind chills of -15.

    Mother Nature, you frigid bitch, you...enough is enough. I'm ready for spring, DAMMIT!

    I guess there's light at the end of the tunnel, though. 'Sposed to get up into the 40's by Thursday and THE FIFTIES!!! for the weekend.'ll feel like Florida compared to what we've had.

    In other news...

    Looks like da Zigster managed to capture four ameagles in the neighbor's tree today.

    We wouldn't wanna leave Simple Simon out of the photo ops, would we?

    I'll have the tuna, please.

    Whatta wingnut.

    Monday, February 02, 2009

    The Three Ameagles

    I swear ta gawd...there were three.

    (Click to embiggen)

    But because my mad photo skillz sucketh so bad, I missed the third one entirely. Well there was that, plus the fact that I'd just rolled outa bed and I couldn't get my damn eyes to focus...let alone the camera. He was sittin on a limb just above these two.

    The funny thing is, I've seen three of these gorgeous boids hangin together before out on the ice or just cruisin around. Two I could understand, especially if they're a species that mate for life. But three? Maybe they're just a...what?...gang? Huntin buddies, maybe? Hell, I dunno...maybe they're Mormon eagles.

    I guess that'd make 'em polygameagles, wouldn't it? heh