Team Axe-ceptable Losses

One last day to look backward, because after today it is all about the new year, the future and beyond. In this yuletide season, it is customary to exchange cards and along with them the dreaded Christmas letter. Since with this blog, I am spewing forth 365 days a year, I have not felt compelled to write one of these annual reports, until now. Consider this post a belated Christmas letter.

For Team Axe-ceptable Losses, 2018 has been a pretty good year. First off, we didn’t lose anyone. I find zero to be an acceptable loss. This year’s moniker for our family comes from the boy’s 40K team name. They are pictured celebrating their tournament win earlier this month. Not only has this year been kind to our nuclear family, but the extended family has also prospered, or at least survived.

Dan has spent the year living in Brooklyn. He made a movie in Maine, Blow the Man Down, which is rumored for a Sundance debut. His main gig was making Christmas for Macy’s of Herald Square fame. He rounded out the year with the fabricating of boutique furniture. His long-awaited Glowforge 3D laser printer arrived, which he has most recently used for making Christmas presents.

Doctor Dave has spent the year living in Cambridge, MA. He is a Harvard post-doctoral research fellow at Massachusetts Eye & Ear. His fellowship was just extended, covering him until his next grant can be issued. Don’t ask me what he is studying, because I have long since given up on understanding his research, except that is has to do with hearing.

Anne and I have spent two-thirds of the year living in Saint Louis. The rest of the time, we have been on the road, vacationing. See yesterday’s post for more. Anne worked as a substitute teacher, including one long-term gig. She also busied herself with amazing works in fiber, including both knitting and quilting projects. As the retired guy, in-between travels, I busy myself as the Haus Herr, puttering around the house, painting (not in any artistic form), bicycling and writing this blog, let’s not forget about that.

The Bro Code

Central Park Street Lamp

We picked Dan up at the airport last night and we’ll retrieve Dave from there tonight. Earlier this month the boys teamed up to win a Warhammer 40K tournament in Williamsburg. They had sent a photo of themselves, celebrating their victory and I wrote about it then. I’ve since learned how they pulled off this win. This tournament had a theme, which was the Bro Code. This machismo set of rules was first developed for Neil Patrick Harris, on the TV show, How I Met Your Mother. For this tourney, teams of two competed in a set of three games. The boys only won two of their three, which is normally not enough to win everything, but each game also had a selection of “Bro Code” objectives and they did quite well in meeting those. The kicker came after all the games were played. Each team took a trivia quiz and were judged on how closely their answers matched each other. The guys scored quite well on this test. When it was revealed that two brothers had won, organizers of the tournament took it as evidence that their tourney truly reflected the values of the Bro Code.

In other meaningless nonsense, I am proud to declare that for the first time ever, I have successfully mastered the Little Drummer Boy challenge. For all you hipsters out there, this challenge is a contest of honor, where from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve one attempts to go through life without hearing any part of this song. I have played and lost every year, since first hearing of this game, but like the boys, I am now victorious! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Fraternity

Paris and New York Joining Hands

Pictured is the gilded relief entitled, “Friendship between America and France.” In its top half are seen two larger than life females holding hands, symbolizing the alliance between Paris and New York. Below them are the Three Graces, Poetry, Beauty and Elegance. It appears on the façade of the Maison Française, in Rockefeller Center (610 Fifth Avenue). It is by Alfred Janniot, 1934.

Though difficult to read, the banner behind the figure representing Paris reads, Fluctuat Nec Mergitur. This Latin means, She is tossed by the waves but does not sink and has been the motto of Paris since the middle ages.

Family and friends are important. Without them, we go through life alone. At this time of year, it is traditional to renew these relationships. When we were young, it was easy to make friends and our family enveloped us. As we grow older, new friends are harder to make and our seniors and peers begin to pass. Thank God for children! In this season, gifts are given as symbols of our affection, tokens of our love, but it is shared time together that is most treasured.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Surtout de Table (Table Centerpiece), Pierre-Philippe Thomire, 1810

On this day it is a common enough meme to post a photo of one’s spread. These groaning board shots say less about giving thanks than of the day’s gluttony. In this spirit of one-upmanship, I must admit that I’ve been guilty of this practice too. Not for redemption, but to go one better, I offer this pic of a centerpiece at the Cooper Hewitt née the Carnegie Mansion. It was once a wedding gift from Napoleon Bonaparte. Now top that if you can!

Today’s menu began with my go to breakfast dish, avocado toast, leavened with a pound of bacon. We got the bird in the oven before noon, if not before kickoff. Our geriatric gas stove, with its finicky electronic ignition is on for the duration. Its ignition only works when the stove is cold. Once lit, it must remain so, or we have to wait until it goes cold again.

In addition to turkey, dinner’s menu includes Anne’s “Basque” dressing and gravy. Our experiment for today is a bit of a portmanteau, five Thanksgiving sides in one pan. The fab five are sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and to keep the other four separated, an intricate levee system of biscuits. To get these five to cook well together, we first nuked the potatoes, and froze the cranberries and beans. It should be interesting.

Rounding out our cuisine is a pomegranate salad sans romaine. Anne scratch made a pumpkin, pecan and ginger pie yesterday. It is almost time to breakout the champagne and hors d’oeuvres and get this feast underway. This post should be published at about the same time that the turkey is ready to pop. I hope that everything turns out alright. I hope that your Thanksgiving is a good one too. 

Out on the Town

Manhattan at Night

The high holidays draw nigh. The NPR Morning Edition host signed off today with a holiday wish. Meaning, Thanksgiving is less than a week away. How did it sneak up on me, while I wasn’t paying any attention? Oh yeah, I wasn’t paying any attention. Closer to home, Dan flies in tomorrow. Dave will follow him on Tuesday and we’ll be a whole family again.

This so-called cooking holiday will hardly be a holiday from the kitchen at all. It usually entails an all-day cooking event. To that end, feeding the hungry masses, I reenacted my regular Saturday morning ritual of fixing breakfast. I went with my current go-to, avocado toast. It has evolved over time to its current higher plane. Almost lost are its original Kaldi’s roots, almost, but not quite. I still use Siracha Mayo as garnish. It’s really pretty simple, which works for me. One avocado, lemon and I’ve added a small tomato. Seasoned to taste and mixed all together into a green paste. I’ve long since dispensed with toast and have since converted to toaster naan. Today, I added Atlantic smoked salmon, with capers. It was a rousing success, if I do say so myself and was met with rave reviews. I think that I’ll be revisiting this dish on Thursday morning.

I got to say that since I have retired, I have become a better cook, not to crow all about it. Caw! Caw! Caw! I know, get some new material. Thanksgiving though is a team effort. It’s just too much for one person to handle and too much to accomplish in just one day. It seems too much for only one meal, but then you are forgetting about leftovers, which could last a week or at least the weekend. 

Speaking of eating, which this post seems to be all about, we went out last night. Originally, I wanted to go to Peno Soul Food, a new southern Italian pizzeria but it was slammed. The other Italian place across the street was a definite no-go, because at noon, it had a huge honey-dipper truck, sucking something out of it.

We ended up at Avenue and shared a few small plates for dinner: pumpkin ravioli, mushroom ragout and spinach salad. This left plenty of room for dessert and we doubled-down, with apples for Olivia, a signature puff pastry filled with pine nut pastry cream, topped with honey-roasted apples, served with apple sorbet and a lemon tart with fruit. We both liked the tart the best.

Also dining was a nuclear family. Mom and dad separated bro and sis, but that was hardly necessary, because both children were enraptured by each their own movie playing notebooks, accompanied with bulky headphones. Sis had pink ones. It was bad enough to see the two enraptured in the lead-up, but they continued their mesmerizing pleasures after the food was served and throughout the meal and I thought that iPhones at the table were bad enough. Of which I am guilty of using, but I feel really, really bad about it.