Monday, February 27, 2012

Apple Jack

We are big fans of Alton Brown who is food guru on a couple of the cooking channels. He is really into the history and science of food and constantly comes up with unique ways of enhancing standard recipes. A while back he was extolling the use of apple jack when making an apple pie.

My father drank apple jack on occasion. I wouldn’t call him an alcoholic, though his family roots were based in boot legging back during prohibition. They made whiskey in the family bakery and delivered it in the bakery truck. He seemed to have a fondness for novelty booze such as corn whiskey, apple jack and a variety of other spirits. His main stay was Johnny Walker Black. I don’t know if he actually enjoyed drinking scotch or if he figured it elevated his social standing.

I always recall him tying one on when we went to Canada every summer. He’s buy a bottle of scotch at the duty free shop at the border and he’d spend a long night drinking with our hosts at the lodge. Then randomly at another time of the year he’d tie one on with one of his novelty spirits. Twice a year; never more or less, just twice a year consistently.

I recall when he rediscovered apple jack. I saw an impish look on his face that reminded him of his youth. When Alton Brown talked about using apple jack in the pie recipe I was taken back to that look on my father’s face, so I went to the liquor store to get some.

I am not a real drinker. I think in the last year I’ve had only a couple beers, a couple glasses of wine, a few snifters of sherry and perhaps three Margaritas in the heat of the summer. When I go into the liquor store I immediately have sticker shock. My next shock comes from the quantity of apple jack one must buy. I considered not getting it, but the recipe called for it and I was committed.

When I got the bottle home I figured I’d have a taste to see what my father found good about the stuff. I guess what I was expecting was a combination of apple cider and brandy, but the first taste was something more like fortified jet fuel. I wondered how they could sell this poison. There was nothing charming about it in the least. As far as I could tell it did nothing for the pie. I’m considering it as accelerant the next time I need to burn brush.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


There are certain things that were not better in the old days though they may have had character or built character. Most houses were drafty because of poor or no insulation, single pane windows, inefficient heating systems and so on. Bath tubs were hard and cold glazed cast iron with showers a later add-on. Shampoo bottles were made of glass and they would shatter if dropped onto the hard tub surface.

Some things were better back then. Police cars had big domed flashing lights on their roofs, cherry-tops. You could spot one a mile away. Now-a-days the lights are visor or grill lights, sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.

Another thing I really liked about the old days was the silver dollar. When I was a kid and did something notable I was often rewarded with a silver dollar. A silver dollar had much more character than paper money. A silver dollar had weight and when it was in your pocket you knew it was there. When you collected a few of them you really had a collection. They were artful and they had a bell-like ring to them when dropped on a hard surface.

There are new smaller dollar coins presently in circulation. They are roughly the size of quarters and have a golden mist of a color to them. They replaced the Susan B. Anthony coins which were a dismal failure.

The old silver dollars were and still are a coin of quality and value. When you had one or some you felt the value of it immediately. I now realize what the old timers were saying when they protested the change over from silver certificates to Federal Reserve notes. Once our dollar bills were promissory certificates for silver. You could take a silver certificate paper bill into a bank and walk out with the equivalent value of silver. When the Federal Reserve made paper money into reserve notes the value could now fluctuate with the world market not the precious metals market. There was no longer a precious metal to hold a value. So let’s say you have a silver certificate dollar from the 30’s; as of 1968 they could only be exchanged reserve notes, so unless you sell them to a collector you will get only one dollar for them. However if you had a silver dollar from back in the day the value of the silver is now around $40; collectors may pay more depending upon the quality and rarity of the coin.

Seeing what has happened to the value of our money over the last three decades makes me wonder why this devaluation is acceptable to so many. Times were once a lot better for the value of our money and it makes me realize that the true value is not in money, but rather in barter.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Neighborhood

When I first moved here there were very few neighbors and the ones I had couldn’t be seen through the trees. Life was good them, but with the combination of the over-development of this desirable real estate and the storm of 2007 that took all the trees I can now see close to 20 houses from my place.

Though I am on a first name basis with maybe five of these neighbors, I have no idea who the rest are and I don’t really care to make their acquaintances. Instead I prefer to give them the names they deserve because of what they do. Just like how people who in the past ran a mill became the Miller’s; I have renamed the neighborhood.

I started this tradition when I had neighbors that fought all the time. I called them the Goddamnit’s. They would shout one another’s’ name followed by the word Goddamnit.

There are the Drivers. All day, every day they drive they drive away and return not long after. They have at least five cars and there is rarely a ten minute rest when one of them isn’t going up or down their road.

Then there are four families of Lighthouses. These are folks that love illuminating the outside of their houses and yards to the point where I probably don’t need to turn the lights in my house. The sun-like glow makes it possible for me to see the colors of my walls at night just from the light they share with the neighborhood.

Then there are the Tillers. This family somehow doesn’t like mowing their lawn so every year they bring in a tractor with a tiller and they plow it all under.

Then there are the Burners. This family has a major pit fire every week and I have no idea where they get all the brush to burn. I generate a lot of burning material with brush, scrap wood and old bee boxes but I generally burn once a year. These people burn nearly every weekend and I have to figure they take on the burning material of others.

Finally there are the Outofdoors. This is a family that is outdoors all the time. Day or night no matter what the weather they are out there, adults, kids and pets. I have no idea what they are doing out there, but they are outside making family noises all the time.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Sounds Bad Doesn't It?

Sometimes I have to laugh and go eeew when certain archaic terms are used. The other day I heard the term "Sexpot." I don't know if the term is still in common use, but it once described someone one who is super sexy, however if you form a mental picture of what a sex pot might look like the term becomes totally repulsive.

Another of these weird terms is "Sex Kitten." This is wrong on so many levels, yet it is still in common use.

Do you readers have any others?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

My Vote

Being an unaffiliated voter I am the target of both Republicans and Democrats who want to sway me to vote for their candidates. If you are in the party leadership I think you should know that I throw all of your mail away without reading it (as does everyone else) and I keep track of who phoned me most often and every phone call I get on behalf of a candidate makes me less likely to vote for them. Rob Cornilles' campaign bothered me with 7 calls, one of which was a robo call from a former commissioner, who I saw recently and asked if he had lost his mind...

Look, I don't care what your campaign people tell you but a lawn sign has never convinced me to vote for someone. A direct mail campaign has never changed my mind and most of all phone calls make me run in another direction. I find it ironic that a candidate that wants less government intrusion feels free to intrude in my life via the telephone.

Trust me, I know what you stand for and against. I know what you said in your debates. I read the voter pamphlet. If you want to impress me don't waste money on lawn signs, mailings surveys and phone banks. Take your campaign funds and donate them to a food bank or to a non profit clinic or to schools in your district. This would tell voters that your heart is really in the causes you believe in and getting elected will be a benefit of your charity.