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I really Clarked it all up.

To Clark something up is to dream up an improbable fantasy situation for an event of special importance and then, when it doesn’t work out the way you fantasized, you do not accept the reality but put even more effort into it to try to achieve the fantasy at all costs until multiple disasters have transpired as unintended consequences of the overboard actions. The special event that would have probably been very enjoyable if left as was has now been ruined or at least made to be much less enjoyable than it would have been.

I have named this after Clark W. Griswold from the National Lampoon’s Vacation series of movies, of course. We’ve seen him do it to vacations and holidays. It probably would have been great until he tried to make it perfect. And now, it’s not exactly ruined, it’s just… all Clarked up.

I find myself guilty of this behavior frequently. So often, in fact, that I’ve thought of this expression for it. Common uses are as follows…
“I’m Clarking this whole day.”
“No, baby, I’m not gonna Clark it up this time.”
“Well, I’ve Clarked this whole situation beyond repair.”

Today, it was the special dinner I wanted to make for Terra’s birthday.
I decided to make her favorite – chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and green beans. I’ve never made chicken fried steak before. And I’ve never pan fried anything breaded that came out good. That should have stopped me. But, rather than back down to reasonable expectations, I wanted to give her a GREAT birthday. She even suggested we go out. But, no.

With that attitude, I had taken the first step in Clarking it all up.

What followed is typical of what I described above…
I waited until little more than an hour before dinner to read the recipe, realized this was going to be much more difficult than I thought and I didn’t even have the cookware to pull it off right. But, I had a dream and would not be discouraged by reality. My baby would not have to settle for anything less than my best.
All the pans didn’t even fit all at once on the stove. But, I tried to work with that.
Then there were fresh green beans. I don’t think I’ve ever even eaten anything but canned or frozen, let alone ever cooked them. When I saw the trouble I was in, I should have just cooked them in water. But, no, it’s my true love’s birthday! I said I’d sautee fresh green beans in butter and garlic and that’s what I’m gonna do! Wait, I don’t have another pan. Well, I’ll use a pot. It doesn’t fit on the stove because it’s already too crowded? Rubbish, I’ll make it work somehow.
Btw, she also has probably never eaten fresh either. And she likes the canned or frozen. Especially the way I always make them. What she thought of as best wasn’t good enough for me in full Clark W. Griswold mode.

Et cetera, et cetera…

I’m still kind of clueless about cooking and this was one of my most ambitious meals I’ve ever tried. (I’m not even gonna talk about the gravy – also a first attempt ever.) The idea of trying such a feat FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION should have sounded like a bad idea. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that I should cook what I am good at for special occasions. I should try new recipes on a regular day. Especially when I’ve never successfully cooked anything similar.

Dinner wasn’t totally ruined. I did a lot of angry yelling at myself and the food and the grease splatters and burned food and stuff stuck in the pan. So, the mood wasn’t exactly festive when I finally served it. And it was better than just edible. But, it wasn’t great. It wasn’t worth the huge greasy kitchen mess I now have to clean up. It wasn’t a total disaster. It was just… all Clarked up.

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Yes, kitchen computer…

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A standing desk type of thing.
Handy for putting my to-do’s for the day – the little sticky notes all over the screen. When the screen goes idle, it plays a sideshow of my coffee pics, photos of good times in our kitchen, particularly memorable dinners, and a few Flickr subscriptions. See, you can subscribe via rss to any Flickr tag or user or group, etc. so I set it up so that the computer automagically adds more coffee-related pics to the slideshow all the time.
I also am subscribed to a handful of podcasts to listen to as I work and Pidgin IM is connected to Facebook chat, ICQ, YIM, Skype, et al..
I haven’t had a computer running since 2010. I got my first computer when I was ten and I tend to be obsessive with them so I took a few years off. So, this is a trial thing.
Btw, it’s running Ubuntu Linux. My dear friend, Pastor Mark Mason gave me the flat panel monitor and the computer itself is behind it.

And the kitties have already figured out that it’s a good place to try to demand attention…
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Christmas 2013, Act Three

I’ve spent probably 30 hours on this. And I still don’t like it.
I like the other two vids I made but I just can’t get this one right. I’ve edited and re-edited and re-edited – I even started completely over once – and now I’m just abandoning it and hoping it’s not as bad as it seems to me.
But, considering it’s the second week of January and no matter what I do, I’m still not satisfied with it, I’m just walking away and posting it as is…

Time for the home cafe to start thriving :)

This is the time of year I start making hot drinks and there is so much more diversity in those.

There’s only so much you can do with iced coffee drinks. Sure, we love our iced press, iced lattes, and this summer I introduced what we came to call an Iceless (first drink pic on my coffee page), but that’s about it.
Ah, but hot drinks. Now, there’s variety. I start making peppermint mochas during Christmas, then, when January starts, I start doing weekly(ish) specials. A time to brush up on all those recipes and learn some new ones.

This week, I’m starting with Cafe au Lait made with moka pot coffee…
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It’s a foamier drink than a latte, with a thick layer on top but leaving the underlying milk fairly dense. Equal parts coffee and steamed milk. I make it with press as well but our dear friend Jennifer gave us some Lavatzza Classico for Christmas, so that’s reason enough to make the moka pot I got for Christmas last year the first thing I dust off for the winter.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be making all those drinks you see on the home page I made for my home cafe and many more, as well as others I’ll learn as we go.

So, stop by and try something. Lately, we’re home and ready for guests every Monday. Any other day just give me a little notice before you drop by.
Or, as I’ve been telling people lately, we’re open all day Monday and by appointment only all other days :)