Saturday, January 28, 2006

Somerset Avenue Chicken (Odessa Chicken)

"I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food. "

-W.C. Fields

I am being a very good girl by continuing to keep my word about creating new recipes. My grandmother actually created the base recipe for this dish, and passed it down to us. My grandma Katarina was a really neat lady, she was really young when she married my grandfather, but from what I have been able to learn about her, she was already pretty accomplished at cooking. She was born in Austria, and at an early age she and her parents moved to Germany. She met my grandfather in Bonn, and they were married when she was about 16. I think they were together for about five years, when grandpa decided to move to Odessa Russia, to be with one of his brothers who needed some extra help after an illness. They stayed there for about a year, before deciding to move to the United States. As my grandmother moved from town to town across eastern Europe, she collected many regional recipes and added her own touches to them to make them her own. I think she might like the little changes I have made to her "Odessa Chicken" recipe. :)

"Somerset Avenue Chicken" (Odessa Chicken)

2 lbs. Chicken pieces
18 oz. Jar Apricot Preserves
1/2 pkg dried Apricots (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1 8 oz. bottle Russian Salad Dressing
1 pkg 1/2 oz. Green Onion dip mix
1 tbs. Spicy Brown Mustard
1/4 cup fresh Parsley chopped

Sprinkle in a gallon size ziplock bag, 1/2 pkg. Green Onion dip mix and then add the chicken pieces. Toss to coat well. Place the chicken pieces and dried apricots in a 3-4 qt slow cooker. In a medium size bowl add the Apricot Preserves, Russian Salad Dressing, the remaining Green Onion dip mix and the Spicy Brown Mustard. Mix well. Pour 1/2 the mixture over chicken, and turn temperature to high. Cook for approximately 4-6 hours. About 15 minutes before serving, cook remaining sauce mixture in a heavy sauce pan with 1 tsp cornstarch to thicken. Remove from heat when it reaches desired consistency for glaze sauce. Remove the chicken and apricots to a serving platter, top with glaze and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Makes 6 servings. Enjoy!

Next week I have a Super Bowl Appetizer! :) And don't forget the real half-time event...Cheese Racing! :)

"Somerset Avenue Chicken"
Berkeley, California
January 25th, 2006

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Truth As You See It

"A lie hides the truth. A story tries to find it."

-Paula Fox

As I watched the Oprah Winfrey show today, I couldn't help but wonder how a situtation, such as what was being discussed could possibly occur. That situation being, someone getting away with not only getting a book published that was represented as one man's personal memoir, but that was in fact duplicitous fiction. The really odd part is that the lies may not have even been unearthed had the book, "A Million Little Pieces," by author James Frey, not been featured by Ms. Winfrey, for her monthly book club last fall.

As the author sat, facing Oprah one-on-one, it was apparent that he had been caught, and caught good. But still he displayed, at least to it seemed me, that he really doesn't understand why someone would feel lied to about the truthfulness of his "memoir."

As the conversation flowed between Winfrey and Frey, and fact after fact of the book fell apart, the emotions were evident. Winfrey was sad, angry and embarrassed, while Frey seemed embarrassed, defensive at times and at the same time steadfast in his opinion that he had lived through these times and a degree. I couldn't help but wonder, in that he had some kind of story to tell, why didn't he try to get his work published as fiction? Well, he did and was turned down by several major publishing houses. Well then, why didn't he just put a disclaimer in the front of the book that indicated that he had fictionalized at least a portion of the book in the name of protecting the innocent? This is a common practice among authors particularly of true crime stories. And how could something so profound as the advice and situations contained in this book go unchecked by the publisher and fact checkers at Doubleday?

Also appearing on Thursday's Oprah Winfrey show, was the very publisher of this book, Nan Talese, who admitted that no fact checking had actually been done on the book. Apparently this has become a common practice in publishing, because there isn't enough time to check the factuality of every book being published. There isn't enough time? Sigh. I always believed that this was a certain process, if for nothing else, then to prevent plagiarism. Sometimes I wonder if we don't need a reality check every seven years, or so, so everyone can catch up to things, after they change. I was always lead to believe that books...especially books that claim to be non-fiction or self-help in nature, would be checked and rechecked for clarity and accuracy. Diet books, How To succeed In Business, How To Please A Lover, How to Survive Divorce, How To Train Your Hamster To Read Shakespeare, How To Get Your Groove Back, How To Write A Book...and so on.

I have bought one or two of those types of books in my lifetime, as well as other non-fiction books and biographies. I have got a lot from many of them, while others were not as useful to me. It happens. But another odd dynamic to this controversy is that apparently many people who purchased James Frey's book, got a great deal out of it. They liked it. It inspired them. They felt that if this man could overcome such tragedies as spending 3 months in jail, to enduring the suicide of a dear friend...then there was hope that any of us could face the challenges of life.

All this reminds me of the Milli Vanilli scandal several years ago. In that case it was disclosed, after the artists won Grammy Awards, that they weren't actually the one doing the singing on their albums. The public was outraged and their careers as singers was over, but one question always bugged me a little bit. If you bought their albums, did you enjoy the music you purchased or didn't you? I listened to several interviews with fans who demanded their money back and who, after the story came out, decided that they no longer appreciated the music that was attributed to the duplicitous singers.

The difference in the two cases is this. Milli Vanilli was billed as the artistry behind the sound. James Frey was billed AS the sound. He was the talent, the strength, the hope, the pain, the promise , he was the whole package. When you hear a piece of music on the radio, even before you know anything about the singer, don't you usually either feel inspired or not? Now, Milli Vanilli lied, they admitted as such, and suddenly the public no longer enjoyed the music. I don't know, I don't think that would make me suddenly dislike the music, I may not think much of the performer, but the music would still be ok. In the case of the book,"A Million Little Pieces," I can understand a little better folks are wanting to discard the book and ask for a refund. It is much more then a case of not knowing what you have actually purchased, it is a case of lying for profit, while not really caring how it may affect another. It's about giving false hope to folks who need something to cling to for direction. It's about knowing you are taking advantage of people who have nothing but trust to go on. Trust in you, and trust in the publishing house who chose to put your words out there...over someone else's work.

Sigh. Doubleday has offered a refund to those who purchased the book through their mail order house. Refunds can be sought for those who purchased the book at a retailer, by returning the book to where it was purchased. As for remaining copies still in stores, Doubleday is sending an author's note insert to be placed in the books which are still on the shelves. All subsequent copies of the book will have the author's note included in the future printing of the book. It will still be classified as a "memoir," despite the revelations of it's truthfulness. Milli Vanilli albums can still be purchased at So tell me, do you think the book by James Frey, "A Million Little Pieces," be pulled from the shelves? Would you demand a refund? Do you believe it should be a common practice for publishing houses to not fact check a book for accuracy and truth?

"Breezy Contemplation II" By Blue Sorsdahl Phrase

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #96: Becoming Your Parents

"A lot of parents pack up their troubles and send them off to summer camp."

-Raymond Duncan

Weekend Assignment #96: "For ladies: Name an incident when you thought: "OMG I AM my mother! For guys: Same with your father!" As suggested by Debbted.

Extra Credit: What did your parents do when you told them about it?

-John Scalzi

I can say, quite happily, that it is an extremely rare occasion when I am anything like the circus folk I was raised by or was a sibling to. Yep, I said it...CIRCUS FOLK. See, mom was the "three-headed woman, and dad was the "Human Cannonball." LOL. But still, we do share DNA and although I work at being my own person and leaving all the bad stuff behind me, it is probably inevitable that I will, at times, display some of their wackiness. I do after all give mom credit for my imagination and I know that I got my weird sense of humor from dad. I guess it is the times when I am feeling at my most creative that I actually do stop, and say a little thank you to heaven and hell...LOL...and then remember and appreciate them for the positive parts of my life that only they could give me. I don't really have one defining moment as far as this weeks assignment asks for, unless you count the fact that I am now making middle-age noises, or that I remember when bread cost $1.15 a loaf. LOL. :)

"Two Views"
Apple Farm
San Luis Obispo, California
June 29th, 2005
Late Morning

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Missing Pam

"Friends are the family we choose to give ourselves."

-Edna Buchanan

I am worried tonight, as I sit here typing this. It has been nearly a month since Pam, author of the journal, "One Girl's Head Noise UK, " and the winner of two, 2005, Journal Land "ViVi" Awards, has updated her journal. As most of you know, Pam was diagnosed, this past June, with Lung Cancer. Since she found out the news, she has kept us updated at least once a week with her progress. Her fight has been a brave one, but I could tell by her last couple entries that she was needing help and strength more then ever. So, I want to believe that she is simply taking a step back, to gain some strength, and that in a few days, she will post an update, and give us all a smile by posting a new picture. Pam is a sweet lady, she is my good friend...and I am worried. I was lucky enough to be able to speak with her on the phone last summer, several times, and I wasn't at all surprised to find out that she sounded on the phone, exactly the way I always thought she would. Like an young, beautiful girl. Pam, I miss you...I am going to send you a snail mail letter later this week. So, for now, I will just say...TTYS. :)
Update: Holly has left me a comment that Pam's journal has been updated by her sister Nancy. Thank you Holly for letting us know!
"Love Is"
Apple Farm
San Luis Obispo, California
June 29th, 2005
Late Morning

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Unconscious Mutterings

"There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast."


Ugg. I slept 14 hours on Tuesday, and believe it or not, I am still tired. Like my doctor says, it really isn't the's the quality. Sigh. I have been reading my Mayo Clinic newsletter though, and it has some wonderful tips about handling chronic health conditions as well as recipes that seem like they would be kinda fun to try. In the most recent issue is a recipe for Zesty Tomato Soup. I am looking forward to trying that one. :) So, the beat goes on...

Unconscious Mutterings
Week 155

1. Alone:: Quiet
2. Science:: Stem Cell Research
3. Deposit:: Return
4. Faithful:: Companion
5. Tender:: Sensitive
6. Chocolate:: Torte
7. Homework:: Learning
8. Tamper:: Messed With
9. Friend:: Foe
10. Wire:: Hanger

You should play along with Unconscious Mutterings also. Just pay a visit to LunaNina and get yourself a copy of the words then post your responses and then leave them a link. It's easy and fun. I might actually take my muttering to my therapist tomorrow...LOL...I haven't been awake long enough to have anything to talk to Sarah, my therapist, about. Unless you consider Alan and I had a debate this evening over who is the cutest character on West Wing. LOL. I say Josh, played by Bradley Whitford. OOOOHHHLALA! Alan thinks Abby Bartlett, Stockard Channing, is HOT, HOT, HOT. LOL. He may be right, she has a ton of style and her character is a strong, sexy woman. Oh, but Josh is just, well, ummm, Hunk-O-Yum. LOL. Do you have a favorite West Winger?

Berkeley, California
January 12th, 2006

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Better Living Through Chemistry

"Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularily and for the same reason."


Sigh. Another day another denial, only now it seems like the Bush administration isn't even trying to make it look good. Do you believe the story that the photos of Jack Abramoff and George Bush are simply a coincidence?

"He (Bush) doesn't have a personal relationship with him. We acknowledge he (Abramoff) attended some Hanukkah celebrations. Any suggestions by critics or anyone else to suggest the president is doing something nefarious with Abramoff is absurd."

- Dan Bartlett, White House Counselor

It makes sense that photos of Abramoff and Bush could have been taken during many different public functions at the White House, but it seems like a little more then a coincidence, in that Jack Abramoff was declared a "pioneer" for releasing at least $100,000 for the Bush/Cheney '04 election campaign.

What do you think? Does this sound plausible to you?
"Aide Says Bush Photos With Abramoff Coincidence"

Sometimes I have to wonder...

"Countries such as ours have an obligation to step up, working together, sanding, sending a common message, to the Iranians, that, uhh...that it's...the behavior...kind of...trying to...uhh, clandestinely develop a nuclear weapon, or using the guise of a civilian nuclear weapon program to get the know-how to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable."

-George W Bush, White House, January 13th, 2006

So can you explain to me what a "civilian nuclear weapon program," is?

"In order to safeguard the civil liberties of the people, we have this (NSA domestic eavesdropping) program fully scrutinized on a regular basis. It's been authorized, reauthorized many time. We got lawmakers looking at it from different branches of government."

-George W. Bush, Louisville Kentucky, January 11th, 2006

And who exactly would that be Mr. President? Feel free to leave the answer to my question in the comments section of THIS entry.

According to the early to mid 1970's is called by Bush his, "nomadic years." During this time, it has been said, President Bush was involved with heavy drinking and possibly drug use. While I don't believe there has ever been a clear substantiation of drug use, I find it interesting that Bush stated that he would, " pass a background check going as far back as 1974." Hmmm. Better living through chemistry I suppose.

Where do our values, as Americans, lie right now? It is worrisome to me that Roe v. Wade may in fact be overturned sometime in the not too distant future. That would be tragic for the nation. The plain fact is that making abortion illegal will not stop it from taking place. Some of those who like to quote the bible, may want to consider that there is still nothing new under the sun. It has always seemed to me, I could be wrong, but it seems that most Republicans that I have spoken to at any length, want the things that they find unseemly or contrary to their personal ideals to simply...go away. There is never much follow through to what will happen on the other side of their moral agendas. What should come next? Counseling? By who exactly? Is the counseling available to both the woman and the man or the boy or the girl? Is it state funded, is it federally funded? Do you need a parents permission? Who absorbs the increase in welfare claims? What happened to the child who cannot be cared for? I never seem to hear about what should come next. If you close your eyes to a problem it doesn't simply cease to exist.

Now, more then ever before, we are losing our civil liberties on a daily basis. Our president is chipping away more and more at what makes this a great country. He wants to make us believe that speaking our mind, will somehow harm our men and women in Iraq. No Mr. President...spying on the American people without a warrant, sending our soldiers to war without the proper equipment, having scandal after scandal after scandal come out of the White House, revealing the identity of an undercover CIA agent, and wife of one of your critics, pushing for the country to regress more the 30 years in social responsibility, hiring under-qualified individuals for important cabinet posts, and phrases like, "I could pass a background check as far back as 1974," is what is hurting our men and women in the armed forces. Today is a new day Mr. Bush, start it out right, and admit what you have done.

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy."

-Ernst Benn

"Better Living Through Chemistry"
Berkeley, California
January 19th, 2006

Monday, January 23, 2006

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Monochromatic

"The artists world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep."

-Paul Strand

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show some of your favrite black/white photos.

-John Scalzi

Here are a few of my favorite subjects...tee hee...but you already knew that! Right?

1. A butterfly I found in Alamo Square Park, San Francisco, California.
2. An abandoned prison I found sitting in the bay. Alcatraz. San Francisco, Ca.
3. The Golden Gate Bridge as seen from Fort Point. San Francisco, California.
4. A gorgeous flower after a rainfall. Berkeley, California.
5. The Lone Cypress, on the 17 Mile Drive, Monterey/Carmel, California.
6. A rose I found in Berkeley, California.

"Life In Black & White"
A few moments from 2005/2006

La Law

"We need a law that will permit a voter to sue a candidate for breach of promise."


It's been a while since I went jogging through the land of idiotic I thought to myself last night, "'s important to keep your friends and readers and readers of friends and lurkers and friends of lurkers and heck just the whole bleeping Internet up to date and well informed, should one of those folks decide to go on vacation. Heck...something really strange could happen and gas prices could come down. Who more scandal out of the Bush administration and we could all be getting gas for free. :) Hee Hee. Oh...come on...I tease the president. LOL. Heck he is a big fan of mine, why I bet he has a file on me this {>>>>>>>>>} thick. He keeps it stored at the Office of Homeland Security for safe keeping. I don't suppose he will be reading this entry however, since we all know HE is above the law...I mean he never does anything wrong...I mean...oh heck...on with the list. Be sure to take notes...

1. It is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle.
2. Boogers may not be flicked into the wind.
3. No persons may sell "blow-out nuts."

1. No liquor may be sold on Sundays or election days.
2. One may not mutilate a rock in a state park.

1. Donkeys may not be kept in bathrooms.
2. All sex toys are banned.

1. You may not step out of a plane in flight.

1. The fine for waving a gun in public is higher than actually shooting it.
2. Unnatural intercourse, if both parties voluntarily participate, results in a maximum sentence of 10 years and $10,000 fine.

New Hampshire
1. It is illegal to pick seaweed up off the beach.
2. On Sundays citizens may not relieve themselves while looking up.

Rhode Island
1. Any marriage where either of the parties is an idiot or a lunatic is null and void. Section 11-40-1.
2. One must make a loud noise before passing a car on the left.

South Dakota
1. No horses are allowed into Fountain Inn unless they are wearing pants.
2. If there are more then 5 Native Americans on your property you may shoot them.

1. Driving while not wearing shoes is prohibited.
2. It is illegal to tickle women.

1. As people used to smuggle it in from Illinois, all yellow butter substitute is banned.
2. State law, at one time, made it illegal to serve apple pie in restaurants without cheese.
3. Tattooing is illegal unless it is done for medical reasons.
3. It is illegal to display an unclothed mannequin in a store window.

Thank goodness my favorite scofflaw mannequin lives here in Berkeley! Tee Hee.

"To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making."

-Otto von Bismarck

"Sunbathing In Berkeley"
Berkeley, California
Spring, 2005

Sunday, January 22, 2006

First Impressions

"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening."

I was reading today, on AOL Entertainment news, that quite a little fashion faux pas took place at this year's Golden Globe Awards. It seems that the beautiful dress that Reese Witherspoon wore was very similar to a dress worn to the 2003 Golden Globes by Kirsten Dunst. So similar in fact, that it wasn't just similar, it was the very same dress! A fashion no-no to be sure, and not one that the actress herself would have committed on her own. Reese, I am afraid had some help in this fashion mix-up, from none other then the prestigious fashion house that owns the dress... Chanel. Coco must be turning over in her grave! I kinda doubt something like this would have occurred in her lifetime, but if it might it have been received in her day as opposed to now?

"Dress shabbily they notice the dress, dress impeccably they notice the woman." That is one of my favorite quotes by Coco Chanel, because it is really speaking about more then just the apparel we choose to wear, it is also says a lot about how we conduct ourselves and the impressions we might make. I have never believed that clothes make the person, but they do say a little about us. If we carry ourselves with a certain amount of class and character however, it will come across clearer then what we wear, although one should never forget that our clothes do have the first opportunity to make the first impression for us. What we choose to wear directly influences the first initial impression we make in person.

I have seen some gorgeous people, by usual society standards, wearing only the finest and most current of trends in fashion, here a label, there a label and look like a million bucks, only to ruin their whole appearance by opening their mouth and allowing something hurtful or socially unacceptable to spew forth from their lips. Believe me you can dress some folks up, but outside packaging will not change the fact that they are spoiled on the inside. I have yet to find the fashion house that can accomplish a personality change with a bolt of fabric and a spool of thread. I am thinking about some of the parties that my good friend June used to throw.

Every year I was expected to attend two events at June's house, without excuse. Academy Awards night and New Year's Eve. Now, most of the time I looked forward to her parties, she knew some very interesting people and I except for a few duds that I knew would be there, it was a classy way to spend an evening. June always had a nice cross section of folks at her parties as well, and she just had a way with making folks feel comfortable because she knew who would enjoy each other's company. For instance she rarely invited too many of her more politically opposed friends to the same function...except for Oscar night and New Year's Eve. LOL. It was on those nights that I suppose she figured that we could all try for the one night to put our attitudes and ideals aside, and just enjoy the food and the fashion and the atmosphere. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn't but it was always interesting.

In that I am a people watcher, by nature, I usually enjoyed just jumping in and allowing myself to absorb whatever happened around me. Don't get me wrong, I am not a wallflower at this kind of gathering, I will join in, but I like to take in the room I am in and the people gathered around me for a little while when I arrive at a party. Listening is such an important part of getting along with people. Sometimes that is all they really want...someone to listen. To their politics, their life story, their charitable work, their interests. Now, there is nothing like getting cornered by an absolute bore, lol, but I always had to wonder when it would happen...who didn't listen to them? I am right here, I am at the same party, instead of being bored to tears because their interests couldn't interest me less, couldn't I share a little about myself with them? What is the worst that could possibly happen? After all, for one night we are on the same path, so why not check to see if the journey can be a less lonely one. Besides, there is never a good excuse for poor behavior.

Do you suppose that last Monday night, when Reese showed up at the after party for the Golden Globes, having just won her award for her performance in, "Walk The Line," that the other guests made sure they pointed out the embarrassing coincidence to her? No, probably not. Not if the had any kind of acceptable manners. In fact, Reese showed up to the affair knowing there had been some kind of mistake made. She SHOWED UP. No running off in a fit of tears, no demanding answers in a divaish high-pierced fit of rage, and no histrionics. No, but she did however request some answers. Not hard to understand I think, considering she had been promised vintage Chanel. Chanel's response regarding the snafu was an apology for the "oversight," and a gratulations to the actress on her win. It's hard to say where the mistake was made, according to the actresses publicist, Reese Witherspoon was told her dress would be vintage, but according to a press release from Chanel the gown was described as vintage, but the gown was actually from the 2002 couture collection and isn't considered vintage.

The mistake does seem to rest with Chanel, and it proves my point that you can have the most elegant of style, and the best of intentions and still get it all profoundly wrong. Celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch said it best when he told the AP that Reese Witherspoon, "...was a victim of the fashion powers that be." I kind of admire the fact that she didn't go overboard to make the mistake much worse then it already was. So far, from every indication, she carried herself like a lady, and that will never go out of style. She didn't make herself a victim that night. She knew demeanor is the impression that people of substance will remember years from now. You just can't fake class, you can't rent it, and you can't pretend it doesn't matter. She knows her self-worth and she wears it everyday no matter what clothes she chooses.

Tell me what you think. Is too much importance put on style? If you had been Reese would you have handled things differently? Have you ever met someone dressed a certain way and made a snap decision based on what they were wearing before they spoke to you? Were you right with that first impression? Is there anything wrong with staying current to the trends in fashion? Is it a good idea to change your personal style from time to time? Is it true that you, "Never get a second chance to make a first impression?" Do manners go before personal style?