C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Waitin' for the Weekend

N O T I C E   T O   C O N S U M E R S

Owing to high tariffs, winter storms, and general instability of global markets, our stock of hot men is running perilously low at this time.  If supplies do not increase soon, rationing will be introduced to ensure a fair supply for everyone of the restricted amounts available. 

If you have not yet received your ration book in the mail, please apply online with your current address, phone number, names and ages of all consenting adults residing in your home, and your estimated weekly consumption needs (pounds or kilograms per person, dry weight).  And please be thrifty:  use supplies on hand sparingly during this crisis. Waste not, want not!

The Management of the Blue Truck thanks you for your cooperation.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Pork Boys Do Valentine's Day

M. P. set the prettiest table you ever saw for our Sunday dinner, and picked out the flowers especially to go with the candles and tablecloth:  pink roses, white hydrangea, and a bit of purple stattice to give it verve.

We haven't always done anything special for Valentine's Day, but this year, inspired by the culinary and decorative possibilities of the occasion, M. P. pulled out all the stops for our Sunday feast--and it was grand indeed.  Just wait till I show you.

But first I must tell you that for last Saturday's "blue-plate special" dinner, M. P. made a truckload of his famous Chicken Enchiladas, enough to fill a large baking dish and two smaller ones, which we put in the freezer for later use.

Sure, you've had regular old beef enchiladas - but chicken enchiladas are even more delightful, enveloped in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with green onions, black olives, and grated white and yellow cheddar cheeses.  

Of course M. P. made his deluxe frijoles refritos to go with the enchiladas - with a little sour cream added.  And you can't eat enchiladas without some Spanish rice, cooked in chicken-tomato bouillon.  Ay caramba, que delicioso!

For Sunday night's dinner, M. P. took care of everything, including place settings.  My sole contribution to dinner was to uncork the wine, our usual White Zin.

Our feast began with a really scrumptious broccoli-and-carrot soup, M. P.'s own variation on Julia Child's broccoli soup, made from a leek and potato base, and here garnished with shredded Swiss cheese and some homemade croutons.  Luscious!

And here is what the main course looked like:  M. P. surprised me with a fabulous Surf 'n' Turf dinner, with which he took especial pains to make everything nice and tender so I could eat it without dental difficulties.  From the 6 o'clock position, going clockwise:  Rock lobster tail, broiled in butter; ribeye steak (seared in a skillet, then baked low and slow in a covered pan till it was falling apart); Just Bread (explanation follows); a lovely big baked potato, loaded with butter and sour cream; stuffed yellow squash, filled with minced onion, mushrooms, and crumbled Ritz crackers; fried red tomatoes; and tender little asparagus tips underneath M. P.'s marvelous homemade Hollandaise sauce.  One of M. P.'s most magnificent dinners ever, and certainly the most beautiful.  I loved it, and savored every single bite.

M. P. made this huge loaf of soft, tasty bread to go with our dinner.  When I asked him what the name of it was, he answered, "Just bread."  In between all the other preparations, he simply mixed up some yeast dough, sprinkled it with sesame and poppy seeds, and baked it without consulting any recipes.  Nameless or not, it was mighty fine bread.  I tell you what.

And finally, the piece de resistance--a superbly concocted Chocolate Mousse, tasting more chocolate-y than anything you've ever had before, and with such perfect texture that it would not fall from an upturned spoon.  I know because we made the experiment ourselves.  But shhh, fellas - don't tell anyone.  People would be breaking the door down if they knew we had something this good in the house.  And yes, there are several more glasses of mousse left for us to enjoy this week.

As you can see, though the world in general may be racing headlong to hell, the Pork Boys are undaunted, manfully keeping up the best traditions of civilized life to the utmost of our strength.  We are both gratefully aware of how lucky we are, he to cook and me to eat (and wash up), and both of us to enjoy these wonderful meals--which are, in fact, just about our only recreation.  Getting by on a limited, somewhat precarious income, we never go out to movies, plays, concerts, or nightclubs, and we eat out only once a year, for one birthday or the other.  But why should we go out to eat, when we can eat so well, and so cheaply, at home?

Dat mousse!

And so with such a perfect ending to such a perfect meal, I bid you fellas goodnight and wish you all bon appetit! at your own tables.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Drive: Bach, Prelude in C Major

A poignant, hopeful melody for your Sunday dreaming:

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Pork Boys Do Lovers' Pie

Last Sunday's dinner anticipated Valentine's Day and was especially delightful.

Lovers' Pie - a fabulous dish that M.P. read about somewhere and decided to try.  First, he cut beef sirloin into very thin slices, then wrapped each one around an oyster, and baked it all in a flaky piecrust with caramelized onions, beef consomme and red wine.  Magnifique!  I tell you what, boys.  You never had anything so good in your mouth.

In case that hadn't worked out, M.P. also made a new variation of garlic chicken, butterflied, breaded with panko and finely chopped garlic, and slowly baked in a white wine sauce until perfectly tender and juicy.

From 6 o'clock, going clockwise:  garlic chicken, herbed rice and luscious cream gravy; garlic Texas toast; fried Italian green beans; Lovers' Pie.

The Lovers' Pie was so good, we had to go back for seconds.
If anybody out there doesn't love oysters as we do,
I'm just sorry as I can be for you.

We had no dessert to speak of at dinner; but earlier in the day, M.P. had made up four pans of his wonderful cinnamon rolls, decorated with pink icing and candy hearts, which he delivered to his kids and grandkids.  There was also a fifth pan, twice as big as the others, which he made for the delectation of your Head Trucker, who was most grateful.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Tale of the Two LIfeguards, Part III

A guest post by my truckbuddy Tim from England, now resident in Spain:

The Tale of the Two Lifeguards

Chapter Three.
In which there are new endings and old beginnings, 
and we bid farewell to our friends . . .

Image by my good friend hi-host here on tumblr. Thanks Lenny.

Unaware of the drama playing out at the little wooden pier, Old José and his wife, Anita, locked up their cafe for the day. They locked all the doors, front, back and sides. They pulled all the shutters shut and closed all the windows, side by side, front and back too. And when they had finished, Anita took up the lantern whilst José switched of all the electric lights. Then they opened the secret trapdoor and descended the stone stairs, locking the trapdoor securely behind them.

The stairs twisted around and down. Soon they could feel the heat, rising warm air condensed into sparkling drops of dew on the cold stone walls as they descended yet further. A blue glow began to strengthen and light their way, then Anita blew out the lantern, for there was no need of it any more. The warm water before them glowed with its own magical light, now blue, now green. Wisps of steam danced and chased one another over the water's surface, for they were magic too.

Anita took José's gnarled hand in hers and together they walked down the last steps that led into the glittering water. And as their bodies submerged, and the wisps of steam clung to their bodies, so their legs glowed blue and green, just like the water, and then they turned into fish’s tails.

"Has he chosen yet?" asked José.

"No, not quite yet . . ." Anita replied, ". . . but Piers is staying on the island again tonight. It won't be long now."

"Then our time is over?"

"Soon, my dear, soon . . ."

Continued after the jump . . .

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Tale of the Two Lifeguards, Part II

A guest post by my truckbuddy Tim from England, now resident in Spain:

The Tale of the Two Lifeguards

Chapter Two
in which Piers is promoted, Christopher is dropped, 
and as for poor Polly . . .

Image by my good friend hi-host here on tumblr.  Thanks, Lenny.

Piers couldn't wait for the final ferry boat of the day to leave the little island of Tabarca.  At last he could pack up his lifeguarding bits and bobs from the big beach, the one that wasn't very big at all, and meet Captain Chris down at the little wooden pier . . .

A short while later, he was making sure his yellow rescue boat was securely moored, whilst keeping a watchful eye out for unwanted visitors.  He could hardly believe he'd met a merman, and such a handsome, friendly one.  And he could only imagine the fuss there would be if anyone else got to know.  They would probably try and capture Chris and examine him, or put him in an aquarium.  He shuddered at the idea; people could be so cruel, especially to creatures that were different.  For a moment he was lost so deep in his thoughts that he didn't notice the brown-haired head that rose silently alongside the boat.

Continued after the jump . . .

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Pork Boys Do Groundhog Day

Of course we celebrated with a nice dinner.  Doesn't everyone?

This was our first dinner with the new chair covers M.P. found online for a very reasonable price.  They accentuate the lovely finish of the dining table that M.P. built some years ago with a solid poplar top, hand-rubbed with 12 coats of tung oil that give it a perpetual lustre.  Sometime soon I will post a daytime pic so you all can see the elegant pattern of the chair covers better.

For our Sunday dinner this week, we feasted upon - what else? - a very succulent Roast Groundhog stuffed with braised cabbage and bacon, and basted lovingly for hours with butter, herbs, and white wine.  I can report that the final result was superb, all tender and juicy, and slathered with a luscious gravy of cream, butter, and white wine.  Really something to write home about.  I tell you what.

As usual, M.P.'s teleophone camera, though very handy for cookery pics, fails to catch the fine, fragrant steam arising from the roast, pulled out of the oven just moments beforehand.

And here is the stuffed groundhog neatly sliced and ready to serve.

This rich, thick cream gravy was good enough to eat with a spoon, I declare!

Delicate young sweet peas, pearl onions, and bits of red bell pepper, all in a luxurious sauce of cream, butter, and white wine - exquisite.

Creamed white corn is very sweet and undeniably delicious.

Yummy parsleyed potatoes, just like M.P.'s mama used to make them.

Clockwise rom the 6 o'clock position:  roast groundhog and cream gravy; peas and onions; one of M.P.'s famous schoolhouse rolls; parsleyed potatoes.  Missing:  creamed corn (omission remedied after this picture was snapped).

For dessert, an old Southern favorite:  chess pie, always scrumptious just in its natural state, but in this case enhanced by M.P.s brilliant intuition with a soupçon of peach brandy.  Oh my, my, my!  You talk about good!   

P.S. -- Okay, I confess:  it was really just pork loin. But one of my mother's old cookbooks actually DOES have a recipe for woodchuck pie - so it could happen!

P.P.S. -- Who knew a groundhog and a woodchuck are the same thing?

What's that?  All of you?  Oh hush up, Yankee boys, and get back to your rhubarbs.

Friday, January 31, 2020

The End of the World as We Have Known It

Today is a sad day on both sides of the Atlantic.  To paraphrase a comment I saw on Joe.My.God.:   On the same day that Britain leaves the European Union, America leaves democracy behind.  Nothing good will come of this.

Well, for 75 years the broad, sunlit highway that arose out of the fire and blood of the Second World War was a pretty good ride.  We were lucky to be born into that time.  It was always a route under construction, and subject to detours and lane closures - but despite all the bumps in the road, it seemed, to me at least, a fundamentally stable, generally progressive, and blessedly prosperous time for the middle and lower classes in the Western world, who by thrift and steady work could live more easily and comfortably than anyone ever had before, even in the golden palaces of kings and emperors fabled for their wealth and power in ancient times.

The poor were and are always with us, of course - but many millions of my parents' generation who started life in rural or urban poverty were able by wit and grit, and a bit of good luck, to achieve a very comfortable old age, and even leave a nest egg for the next generation.  (Sadly, this was not the case in my particular family, but that is another story, of no interest to anyone but me now.)

Prosperity and the growth of scientific knowledge led to miraculous advances in medicine and technology that nearly eliminated the famines and diseases and poverty and unceasing hard labor that had been the scourges of mankind from the dawn of history.  Not to say that there was no suffering, pain, or worry - despite the spread of peace, progress, and general affluence, there were still tears, toil, struggle, and sorrows to contend with in human life, high and low, rich or poor, which is simply our lot in this imperfect world, where the bitter must always be taken with the sweet. But on the whole and in the main, it was a mighty good time to be alive, when you consider how very much harder and more perilous life was just a hundred years ago.

(Whether the soft, effortless, push-button life we have come to enjoy is truly good for us in a moral and spiritual way is a question I defer for the time being to the philosophers.)

And until quite recently, there was, it seemed, good reason to hope that mankind's upward progress would continue indefinitely.  Despite the unending to and fro of politics, it did seem that the people at the top - most of them, most of the time - were essentially sane and decent, sincere and responsible people who profoundly respected the rule of law and the time-hallowed constitutional order.  And who were certainly not the tools of any foreign power - unthinkable!

But goodbye to all that - I'm glad I am an old man in the sunset of life, with no posterity to worry about.  I'm also glad that my parents aren't here to see the corruption and negation of their ideals, and the moral degradation consuming our government, our politics, and many other areas of life, all across the political social spectrum.

As I heard the ever-chic and lovely Joan Collins say in an interview a few years ago, reflecting on the rudeness and crudeness of modern life:  I don't like this century.

I'm taking an extended moment of silence here on the Blue Truck to reflect on the dismantling of the Western world order that once seemed so enduring. Of course the human race will go on and on as it always has, despite every kind of calamity in ages past - you know how those breeders are, come hell or high water - but the going on will not be very nice at all, I fear.  That is, unless you fit into whatever new order shakes out of all the dreadful conflicts to come, nation against nation and fanatic against fanatic.  And there are always plenty of folks ready, willing, and able to fit in, no matter which way the wind is blowing.

Maybe I'll return next week with a more optimistic attitude. But then again, maybe not.  My voice doesn't count at all in this mad world, I know.  And even in better times, I have never really fit in - too liberal for the conservatives, too conservative for the liberals, too educated for the lowbrows, too provincial for the highbrows, and always an individual, not part of the In Crowd, never one of the cool kids.  A sometimes lonely state of being - but tant pis.  It suited me, I suppose.

I am an old man, retired from the tumults and contests of life, and like an old dog on the front porch, content merely to sit in the sunshine and watch the traffic whiz by, without the slightest urge to run after it, even if I had the strength to do so.  I have lived my life and danced my dance, and now it seems I have outlived my time:  a stranger in a strange land.  A chill wind rises, and the brief candle flickers.  Who knows what tomorrow and tomorrow will bring, for good or ill?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Tale of the Two Lifeguards, Part I

A guest post by my truckbuddy Tim from England, now resident in Spain:

The Tale of the Two Lifeguards

Chapter One
in which we make some introductions

Image by my good friend hi-host here on tumblr.  Thanks Lenny.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, possibly as long ago as last Wednesday, Piers Nivans got into his bright yellow safety boat and set out for the tiny Mediterranean island of Tabarca. He did this at precisely eight o'clock every morning in the summer, leaving his parent's home in the little fishing village of Santa Pola, and returning there precisely twelve hour later. But this particular Wednesday morning proved to be special, as we shall see in a while.

Piers worked as a lifeguard during the long, hot summer months, swapping his grey student books and grey student clothes of the rest of the year for a bright red rescue float and bright red shorts. And the bright yellow safety boat, of course, which was much more fun than his grey scooter. Now this is not to say Piers' winter life was dull, rather that he liked grey. It helped him blend in with the crowds and buildings in the big city where the University was. Piers liked to blend in there, because he didn't much care for crowds and buildings and cities. What he did like was the sun and the fresh open air. And what he loved, was the sea. The beautiful aquamarine sea that surrounded Tabarca with its crystal-clear waters. And what he loved best of all was . . . well, let's see shall we?

Continued after the jump . . . 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday Drive: Schumann, Träumerei (Dreaming)

The exquisite seventh movement from Schumann's Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), as performed by the great Vladimir Horowitz:

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