Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Over the Thanksgiving holidays, my 87 year old grandmother was reminiscing about how good a "Cold Oven Pound Cake" is, and how she hadn't had a slice from one in a long while. For Christmas, my mother decided to make one for her. I was fascinated by the "cold oven" part and so was my mother. Verdict? Heartily recommended. Honestly, it was hands-down the tasty pound cake I'd ever had, so I thought I'd share the recipe here.
COLD OVEN POUND CAKE
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup shortening (butter flavored Crisco was used)
3 cups granulated sugar
5 (yes five) large eggs
1 cup milk
4 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour (measure first, then sift it)
All ingredients should be at room temp. Grease and flour a large tube pan. Cream together the butter and the shortening, then slowly add sugar while stirring. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each egg is added. Add the vanilla to the milk. Add a little flour and then a little milk alternately until it is all mixed in well.
Pour batter into the large tube pan. Place in a COLD oven and turn to 300 degrees and cook 1 hour. Turn oven to 325 degrees and bake 30 minutes more.
So moist and dense and practically melts in your mouth. Enjoy!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
After a Saturday afternoon drive through the misty, gray rainy weather, we arrived at The Dunhill, which incidentally had already picked up tickets for us, and off to the exhibit we went. The docent said no flash photography, so I disabled the flash and took a few pictures. The first part of the exhibit showed a typical day in Pompeii in 79 A.D. The cooking, the jars and jugs, the food, the houses, the worship, the utensils, jewelry, art and gardens. The last part of the exhibit explained the eruption of Vesuvius and how the people of Pompeii tried to escape, and what dying in the ash, gases, pumice, and other volcanic material would've been like. Dark, hot, increasingly hard to breathe. Terrible.
For hundreds and hundreds of years it was all left undisturbed under many feet of ash, rubble and rock, but in the 1700's archeologists began the work to uncover the city again. The most haunting images were the body casts of the people and animals that died. Here's how they were discovered (from the wiki site about Pompeii and Herculaneum):
"Giuseppe Fiorelli took charge of the excavations in 1860. During early excavations of the site, occasional voids in the ash layer had been found that contained human remains. It was Fiorelli who realised these were spaces left by the decomposed bodies and so devised the technique of injecting plaster into them to perfectly recreate the forms of Vesuvius's victims. What resulted were highly accurate and eerie forms of the doomed Pompeiani who failed to escape, in their last moment of life, with the expression of terror often quite clearly visible."
The room in the exhibit where the body casts were shown was dark, with black walls and a red floor. Spotlights showed the plaster body casts, and beautiful somber music played softly in the background. Something I won't soon forget.
Here are few pictures I took of the exhibit:
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The coffee wasn't bad, and we tried some desserts on the menu, and relaxed and dissected the film we just watched. The service at the Bull Pen was fine, although our server was wearing latex gloves, which was odd. We weren't rushed and the place wasn't busy on a Sunday night anyway. Here's what desserts we tried, and they were fairly tasty (but for the completely out-of-season 'fresh' strawberries which tasted faintly of strawberry):
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It seems obvious to me that there are at least 2 categories of parking lots. One kind has angled spaces and is meant for one way traffic only. You don't have to be a genius to see it. At Northgate Mall tonight, there was an example of the one way traffic category:
See? Designed to be one way. The spaces were angled specifically for cars travelling one way. So please don't come barreling down the wrong way, headlights blazing, looking for a space, okay? Because you are going to cause a wreck. And what kind of crazy turn will you have to make in order to get into the space angled away from your car? Just go to the very next row and that row will be for one way in the opposite direction. This is not hard.
Granted, there do exist parking lots designed for two way traffic. The tip off: the spaces are not angled and the row is bit wider to accomodate the two way traffic. An example of this would be the Durham Costco, if you are ever at that parking lot. Or Target.
Here's a drawing yoinked off the net for illustration:
This isn't about whether one kind of parking lot is better than the other, or whether we need less parking lots. But let's at least learn how to work the ones we got first.
Monday, December 8, 2008
The blooms always looks like some sort of butterfly creature in flight--or maybe an angel if you are in the Christmas spirit when it blooms.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Couldn't resist a few shots across the street of Durham's new "Old Bull" sign (which is moving neon--you can see the full movement here at Bull City Rising):
Both the new Durham Performing Arts Center and the Old Bull sign (click for a larger picture) :
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"US and Canadian readers, enter your zip code ... hit Go!, and you will find out what is going to fly over your area in the nights ahead. There are hundreds of satellites in Earth orbit; we cut through the confusion by narrowing the list to a half-dozen or so of the most interesting. At the moment we are monitoring spy satellite Lacrosse 3, the International Space Station, the Early Ammonia Servicer, and the Hubble Space Telescope."Heck if you are looking up there in the night sky, you might even spot the lost NASA tool bag, estimated value $100K. It was lost in the current Shuttle mission and it's now streaking across the sky.
As uploaded to youtube (just a few seconds long) of the streaking tool bag:
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
I'm certainly not a wine snob, nor a complete rube either. I'm merely reporting that the the 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau arrived (as always) the third Thursday of November, which was yesterday. We picked up a bottle and drank some this evening and it was pleasant.
According to French law, Beaujolais Nouveau, a red wine made from 100 percent Gamay grapes, is released at one minute past midnight on the third Thursday in November. This longtime tradition is celebrated worldwide with creative "Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!" events, from this year's midnight pajama party in San Diego to a weekend of events at Paris Las Vegas, commencing with a lighting of the hotel's famous "Eiffel Tower" Beaujolais red and delivery of the wine by helicopter at 12:01 a.m. More than 250 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau events taking place around the country can be found at www.chilledred.com. Georges Duboeuf is the most popular producer of Beaujolais in the world and the number one French wine brand in the U.S. (link)
Each year, Beaujolais Nouveau is the first taste of the grapes just harvested, and it wasn't such a great year for grapes in France as noted here:
Vintners hope the festive atmosphere surrounding Beaujolais Nouveau's release will bring some joy after a soggy summer that saw some of them lose their entire harvest. It was the smallest crop since 1975.
"Despite low yields due to bad weather this year, we didn't change the Beaujolais Nouveau's price much because we know it's hard for our customers in times of crisis," said Nicolas Pasqua, manager of Ma Bourgogne, a Paris restaurant specializing in Beaujolais and Bourgogne wine, near the Champs-Elysees.
His customers, sipping at lunch, were divided over the quality of this year's brew. Some say it tasted like pear. Others have noted raspberry tones.
The annual arrival of the young, fruity and heavily marketed wine is generally a cause for parties from Beijing to Las Vegas. Connoisseurs, though, say it is too light to be considered a serious wine.
In 2008, at least for Georges Duboef, the bottles arrived mostly by ship, not jet:
This year, in an unprecedented break from tradition, 75% of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau was delivered by ship from France to the U.S. instead of by air freight. According to Bill Deutsch, this measure was intended to help offset the wine's carbon footprint. The boat shipment also helped offset an otherwise significant price increase due to rising fuel costs. Due to shipment by boat the wines remains at a retail price of US$10-12 per bottle.
The fact that there's usually lots of hype surrounding the release of this wine each year causes much consternation from a few. That's fine. As for me, I don't much like stamping out fun, even vapid fun, just for sport so I usually buy a few bottles and give the new crop a try, marveling that the grapes were basking on a sunny slope in France just a few short weeks ago.
If you want to try the 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau, it is available most anyplace you buy wine around Durham.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Powerade, for instance:
Maybe I'm just being a Nervous Nellie about it, but it sadly looks like an accident-in-waiting.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Here's a slideshow of all 47 covers of 2007 from The New Yorker site.
Here's a slideshow of all 16 cartoons from this week's issue.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
You can even meet the herd before they come over to help you out.
Word was that the owner of the yard in the pictures above was very pleased after the job was complete, and that the little ones in the household were thrilled with the goats coming over for the day.
(Photos were provided courtesy of Wendy Evans.)
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Matthew Sweet at Cat's Cradle:
Couple of observations. First of all, he and his band were LOUD. Too loud. Now I know that "if it's too loud, then you're too old" so I felt decrepit thinking they were far, far too loud for the space. Then I saw some people much younger than I am flinching and trying to get away from the speakers, so after that I didn't feel too bad for thinking so. The loudness actually interfered with Sweet's superb voice and outstanding lyrics, in my opinion. I didn't time him, but he didn't play for long, either. At any rate, he has a new CD out called Sunshine Lies and they played some tunes from it of course, opening with Time Machine from that CD. He also played some of his older ones that I enjoy such as I've Been Waiting, Girlfriend, Sick of Myself, You Don't Love Me, and Divine Intervention. You can hear a few of his songs in their entirety at his MySpace page here.
The opening act The Bridges are a group of siblings originally from Tarboro NC. I know--Tarboro! Young, with a highly melodic energetic poppy sound. Matthew Sweet produced their first CD, Limits of the Sky, and I liked their sound enough to spring for their CD. They currently have a video playing on MTV (they still show music videos?) that you can see here, and some of their songs can be heard here. The brief Boston Globe's review of the video said they "might win points for their pouting, comely looks in this video, but when was the last time you heard a group of kids making like Fleetwood Mac and actually pulling it off with a soulful, harmony-rich ballad?"
One online review at snob's music review said:
Limits of the Sky is the debut album from the family quintet. Produced by Matthew Sweet, it's a tremendous collection of bright medolic pop songs.
The group's songwriting demonstrates a pop sensilibility far outstripping their young age (all in their early 20s). Not since Ben Lee's debut have we seen a band show us this level of song craftsmanship right out of the shoot.
Vocals are definitely the focal point of the music . . . The Bridges clearly benefit from Sweet's guidance. The songs are chock full of catchy melodic choruses and vocal hooks.
The show ended around midnight so we hit TimeOut on Franklin Street for a quick bite then headed back to Durham.
So much music to see, so little time. Troika Music Festival is going on in Durham this weekend too.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Blue Coffee was chock full of people, the marching bands were playing, the ABC/WTVD satellite truck was there, and people were milling about, smiling and laughing and watching the giant TV in the rain.
Around 10:30pm I was cold, wet, and tired of standing around, so I headed home. They called it for Obama on MSNBC at 11:00pm and so I got to see the reactions from Grant Park and Times Square. Glad Durham had their own celebration too, even if in the rain.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Incidentally, Durham County NC was bluer (percentage-wise) than Cook County IL for this Election.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
4 blocks blocked off, music, and a 2 story tall projection screen to watch the returns . . .
Barack N Roll
A celebration for Obama volunteers and citizens of Durham
Tuesday, Nov 4th, 8:30pm until
Historic Black Wall Street - Corner of Corcoran and Parrish Streets
Hosted by Durham for Obama, Blue Coffee Cafe - and the blue citizens and businesses of Downtown
Join us in Downtown for the biggest street party of the Century! Historic Black Wall Street (Parrish Street) and Corcoran Street will be closed off to create a four block celebration zone, including music, drum lines, marching bands and souvenirs. Watch live returns on a giant two-story tall projection screen. Stand shoulder to shoulder with your neighbors from across the City when the election is officially called on CNN via live satellite feed.
Cruise to different downtown restaurants and bars, each hosting their own election return parties. Eat, drink, roam and experience downtown as the true civic center of our community.
For more information, visit: Durham for Barack (scroll down a bit at that link)
Spread the word!
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I'd never seen Billy Bragg perform live before and it was just as great as I thought it'd be. He had some inspirational words about the election--'the whole world is watching,' essentially. He's performing here in Durham tonight, and was kind enough to devote some time and some songs to this GOTV effort today.
I'd never seen the band Megafaun before and I liked them a lot! What energy and enthusiasm these guys have. Looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. You can hear some of their music on their MySpace page here.
Finishing things up were the dB's with Mitch Easter. Always enjoy hearing the dB's and Ask for Jill and Amplifier never fails to thrill the crowd. They sprinkled in a couple of new songs too. And even one especially about the election.
I didn't get a chance to see everyone perform today, but I thank them for doing the big show today and for caring that people get out and VOTE.
By 3:30pm we were tired and hungry and decided to head over to the Carolina Coffee Shop, which we hadn't been to in forever, maybe even since I was in undergrad, and had a nice relaxing meal. A superb day in Chapel Hill.
UPDATE: Peter Holsapple of the dB's has a detailed account of the music today at his fine blog here.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"Why drive to the police “state” of Franklin street on Halloween, when over 100,000 youngens are expected to take over the main strip causing: mass chaos, probable looting and overcrowding (at under themed) nightclubs. We get the rep for having a volatile city, while they have had a shooting every year since 2004 at Franklin’s famed Halloween “parade”. I say we start one of our own, a resurgence on 9th street. We don’t have to call it anything… we don’t need an agenda at all. Let’s just plan to wear our costumes, on our blocks, with civil, like-minded ADULTS, who want nothing more than to get dressed up, get drunk and dance wildly.
If you are in agreement, come to 9th street on Halloween in your costume. I say we start the festivities at 8pm.And, if that's not enough, just a block over, on Broad Street, at the Broad Street Cafe, my pal Jeff Hart has a gig and will be playing and singing and having a big time for his birthday, so come listen to him--the show starts at 9pm--drink a brew, and have a great Halloween on 9th Street and Broad Street.
Dain’s, Charlie’s, George’s Garage, G Loft, Blu Seafood, Sirens and Club 9 will be available to serve your wandering needs."
Happy Halloween, everyone!
Friday, October 24, 2008
When I arrived around 6:30pm, Only Burger's rolling hamburger stand was set up outside St. Philip's and the smell of grilled hamburgers was wafting through air. Drool. Only Burger of course had drawn a little crowd. Inside some folks were already enjoying their hamburgers and french fries before the concert started. Wow, it smelled so good. I didn't have an opportunity to try one but I will soon I hope.
Gauthier came out at 7:00pm and played straight through, ninety minutes of riveting songs. I could certainly tell that a couple of her big influences were Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. I especially liked her song about Karla Faye Tucker, Karla Faye, and another called Camelot Motel. She's charming on stage, and after the show I picked up a couple of her CD's (Mercy Now and Genesis) and got them signed. Looking forward to listening to them. You can hear a few of her songs in full at her Myspace page here.
Another great Strings Attached show at St. Philip's. Hope it raised some nice bucks for UMD and I'm on board for whatever the next good show will be. Props to Rebekah Radisch and Strings Attached.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
It used to be the old City Hall before 1978, and the excellent Durham blog Endangered Durham has some great older photos of the building at this link (scroll down a bit at that link). The glass high-rise behind the Arts Council is the People's Security Building.
I like looking out and being able to see the Arts Council. I enjoy seeing full-of-energy kids taking classes there in the summertime, and their harried parents picking them up, and seeing the Durham Symphony folks lugging their instruments into the building some nights for practice, people taking dance classes and art classes, and various functions and art shows being attended all year long, but especially around the winter holidays. Lots of hustle and bustle there at the Arts Council and that seems like a mighty fine thing to me.
Monday, October 20, 2008
As you probably know, the Tampa Bay Rays are headed to The World Series. The Rays are the major league team for the Durham Bulls, which means when one of our Durham Bulls players is "called up to the majors" then that player goes to the Tampa Rays.
Watching the Rays play has been thrilling because so many of the players were playing right here, just down the street at the Bulls ballpark only a few short weeks ago.
In fact 14 of the members on the current World Series bound Rays are former Durham Bulls players. How cool is that?
Wral has a bit more detail here and at the link you can get a list of the Bulls players now on the Rays roster:
If you watched the American League Championship Series and some of those players looked very familiar, there’s a reason for that.Yes, David Price was cool as a cucumber last night, brought in to pitch at the most intense point in the game, when the Rays were trying to protect their 2 run advantage at the end of the game and make it into the World Series. Price got the job done too and it was thrilling to watch him. He's just 23 years old.
A total of 14 current members of the Tampa Bay Rays played for their Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls, en route to the majors.
The list includes the entire Rays starting outfield of B.J. Upton, Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford. Third baseman Evan Longoria, one of the best young players in the game, started the season in Durham.
Pitcher David Price, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, pitched in Durham earlier this season. He came on in relief Sunday night with the bases loaded in the eighth inning and held on for the save.
Two other Rays, pitcher Scott Kazmir and designated hitter Willy Aybar, went to Durham on rehab assignments.
Evan Longoria has wow'd them since being called up, hitting homerun after homerun in the post-season. Everyone now expects a homerun when he steps up to the plate.
I'm looking forward to tuning into the World Series and seeing our Durham Bulls players playing like the champs they are!
The Rays will be playing the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, and the first game is this Wednesday night on Fox. The complete schedule of the upcoming games is here at the MLB site.
Friday, October 17, 2008
It was awesome! The place was packed, the energy was so high it fairly crackled, the line moved quickly, lots of smiles and camaraderie. The feeling of 'we are doing something monumental here' was in the air more than I've ever felt before.
Beyond the required 60 feet (you can't campaign within 60 feet of the voting place), there was a young woman selling Obama Biden yard signs for $5 a piece. They were going fast.
My shirt with my sticker:
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Anyway, this past Saturday I went to the Autumn Leaves Festival, and I already knew the line for the collard green sandwich would be long. It was about a 25 minutes wait in a long snaking line, and as people passed by they would shake their heads and say, "they sure must be good." I think the novelty of it can't be discounted either. They are tasty, however.
What are they? Simple--cake cornbread, sliced in two pieces, a big spoonful of collard greens, and a slice of crispy pork. I snapped a few pictures so you could see too.