Comfort Food

It’s test kitchen night. That’s the night I browse the cupboards and freezer, start pulling out what appeals to me and turn it into dinner. Here’s tonight’s experiment.

1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. Southern Comfort
1/2 14-oz can Hunts tomato sauce
1/4 c. Plochman’s mustard
2 tbsp. chopped garlic
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seed
2 lbs. beef tips

Mix all ingredients except the tips in a sauce pan and simmer while you prepare the tips.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat until it starts to smoke. Brown the tips in the skillet.
Coat the tips with the sauce, cover and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.

I’ll post an update when it’s done, but it smells yummy.

The Right Stuff

We lost a family member yesterday. When she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s some odd thirty years ago, she opted to go through an experimental treatment — knowing that the most likely side effect would be tumors. She was one of the few who survived the treatment, but it kept its promise and the last few years have been difficult ones.

She underwent surgery for yet another tumor last week and this one proved to be too much. But before she went in, she said the most amazing thing to my brother-in-law… I’ve had thirty years I wasn’t supposed to have. That’s powerful. I’ve met so many people who have trouble finding something special in every day… not realizing that just seeing the sun come up one more time is as special as it gets.

A while back, I posted a link to The Dash by Linda Ellis. If you’ve already read it, you should read it again. If you missed it, you might want to grab a tissue or two before you head on over to Linda’s blog — the poem is at the bottom of the page.

As I now reflect on the times I had the pleasure of being in Sue’s company, I can’t help but think that she’s one of the privileged few who would be proud of how she spent her dash. I remember thinking the first time I met her now here’s a real human being. She was down to earth and she had a big heart, and she made me laugh.

We love you Sue, and we’ll miss you.

Chen Yang Li — Service at its best!

We decided to do dinner and a movie for Valentine’s Day and dinner was Bejing Duck at the Chen Yang Li in Bow. We usually go their two or three times a month for sushi, but occasionally opt for the duck for a change of pace.

When we arrived, there was a line at the door and the table’s were full. We were a little worried because we only had 90 minutes to eat and drive to the movie theatre in Hookset. I walked up to the hostess and asked how long the wait was. When she asked if we had a reservation, one of our favorite managers leaned over her shoulder and said “they always have a reservation”. What a nice way to make your repeat customers feel special!

Remember the good ‘ole days?

You know… the days when life was simple? When the stuff you used every day was simple?

About five years ago, my washer broke. It was a 15-year old Maytag that never gave me a minute of trouble, but I wasn’t about to spend good money to fix an old washer so we bought a new one — another Maytag because we thought we were getting the best money could buy.

One day, the Neptune started taking twice as long to do a cold load. Then three times as long. Then the cold setting stopped working altogether. We switched to warm/warm, but had to restart it three or four times to clear the NF (no fill) codes. The repair guy came and first thing he says is that everybody’s having trouble with the Neptunes. Several hundred dollars later, we have a new circuit board and it’s still not working. At this point we assume it’s the water valve… but after reading about the customer complaints and class action suits, I’m not about to spend more than $50 trying to fix it again.

After we order a new water valve for 40-something, Tom gets this bright idea that if the cold water wasn’t working, he could flip the valve connectors and the water hoses and I could have a normal cold/cold cycle. It worked! For five minutes. With no water coming through the cold water pipe for months, turns out there was a bunch of crud in the shut-off valve and that was restricting the water flow.

So maybe the washer wasn’t broken… but if it hadn’t been for the law suit and all the bad reviews from hundreds of unhappy customers and a design that’s way more complicated than it needs to be, we might have attempted to fix it ourselves for 30 minutes of sweat equity.

Before we figured out the problem, I went online to research washers. There’s no such thing as a basic washing machine anymore. There’s actually one model that has fifteen different cycles. Fifteen! I remember my grandma’s washer. I suppose you could say it had multiple speeds depending on how fast you could crank the wringer. I don’t remember her ever complaining. I also don’t remember it ever breaking, but if it did I’m sure grandpa was able to fix it himself.

Maytag no longer makes Neptunes. They’ve replaced it with another model in order to eliminate the issues. Its customer reviews aren’t any better. The reviews on other washers are about the same except for the really high end models. I’m going to assume the only reason they don’t get bad reviews is because nobody can afford them at $1500 to $2000. Two thousand bucks to do a freakin’ load of laundry!


So my brother sends me this email this week with a subject line of “One for the ladies”. It contained several great one-liners, but this one was my favorite:

Q: How do you keep your husband from reading your email?
A: Rename the mail folder “Instruction Manual”.