Saturday, September 04, 2010

"Hurricane" Earl Review

Boy, what a bomb this "Hurricane" Earl was. For days the weather people have been terrorizing us with their dire predictions, so much so that I have received communications from my relations in Houston (Hey girls!) checking in to see if we know what to do in the event of "the big one". We did get some wind gusts and some heavy rain but not much else. Heck, we had a "nor' easter" last week that caused more downed trees and debris on the lawn than we got from this one. The one good thing about a hurricane coming up the coast is that after it passes by you get a really spectacular day the next day which is what we are enjoying now. I did take a little video last night at around 9:20 as it was coming down pretty good and I figured I'd get at least a little something to post for you folks. Well, here it is. 20 seconds of rain on the House Party deck. Sorry I don't have more...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Lifestyles of the Rich and Tasteless

Today we will take a look at high-end real estate and what folks with too much money and not enough taste (or sense to get a designer) do to the houses. First up:

This is a $6.3million home directly on Puget Sound in Washington State. Rather nice looking although I would have done a little more in the landscaping but I wouldn't mind having this one myself. I was thinking that this was an uninhabited home with Realtor supplied furnishings set up for showing the property but in the breakfast area photo you can just see the pop-up baby playpen and the living room has more than just a few tchotchkalas. Oh dear!

Details: Newly built in 2008 on approx. 8.17 Acres with 108 Feet of low bank Puget Sound water frontage. The Main House has 9,700 Sq. Ft. with 3 Bedrooms and 5 Bathrooms as well as a Gourmet Kitchen, Open Plan Living and top quality finishings throughout. There is also an unfinished area above the separate Garage with Bath, a Guest House with 2 levels, Sports Court and upper property Barn.

Price: $6,300,000
Size: 9,714 Sq. Ft.
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 5
Speciality Items: Built in 2008, 8.1 Acres, Boat House, Sports Court, Recreation Room, Hot Tub, RV Parking, $39,010 Taxes. (Uh-oh... RV parking? This doesn't bode well.)

Here we have the living room. The built-ins and coffered ceiling are really nice and the floor is just lovely. I'm afraid that I really don't like TV's over a fireplace. I think that if you have a formal house with a beautiful living room and you really feel that a TV is necessary, it should be in a cabinet or something to hide the thing. This mish-mash of furniture would be called by some "eclectic". But even "eclectic" has some central premise that would bring the disparate elements together. Maybe a beautiful carpet would "soften the blow" a little bit. Oh, and another thing... What's up with the notebook computer on the TV table?

I really like this kitchen. Lots of space, great light, handsome cabinetry, nothing wrong in here.

Here we have a view of the back of the house. Lots of room for a pool (but for some reason there isn't one). Maybe they feel that with the Sound in the back yard that one is not necessary but I think that if you're going to spend $6.3 million on a house you should have a nice heated pool in the back yard for late season swimming. Still a great looking house.

This is a view of the Garage/Guest House. I do like having Guest Quarters. I hate getting up in the morning and bumping into guests while I'm still in my nightgown and curlers, don't you?

Beautiful view of the Sound from the back lawn (where the pool should be).

Again with the TV over the fireplace... Also if I were going to spend $$$ to build this place I would have the contractors do something about all of those devices and switches on the wall. It looks like the hook-ups you have in a hospital over your bed for heaven's sake. Plus, look at those awful curtains in the windows. Did you run out of money for draperies? And one more thing before we go to the next room.... COLOR!!!

Here in the breakfast area we have nice marble tiles and french doors out to the deck. All very nice. Plenty of light in here too. However, I feel that the Chippendale furniture needs something softer to stand on. A beautiful oriental rug would soften this up a little and make it less clinical. And once again we have a bad TV set-up.

$6.3 million and you have plastic lawn furniture on your deck. Seriously... shame on you!

Where do I begin with this mess? These folks have some seriously nice furniture in the house but look what they have done with it. The desk is sitting on a rug that is way too small for it, the printer is way out of character for that beautiful chest of drawers and we have the switches/outlets problem on the walls again. I think I would have paneled the entire room rather than cover the wall with cheap looking fabric that you can see every seam on.

Nice looking bathroom here but a (again) bad TV and tacky, ill-fitting curtains. It would also seem that the owners are going for a "white" motif in this house. Those black towels should go... NOW!

The dining room has possibilities. There is beautiful light, great lighting fixtures and lots of space but where are the doors for the kitchen? Where are the dining room chairs? And could you not afford to get a tablecloth that fit the table? Perhaps you should've just left it off.

Well I hope that you have enjoyed dishing this expensive home with me. If you folks like this post we will do it again when another place comes across our desk that needs a good "bead reading".

A tout a l'heure!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Trying out a new look...

Does this work for me?

Out for Barbecue last night!

I was invited to meet up with Linda, La Reine du Barbecue who is the proprietrix of LJ's Barbecue in Providence to try out a new place in Mattapoisett called The South Coast Local. Now both of us are barbecue fanatics and when she said there was a new place to go for Barbecue within an hour of the Cape I said "lets go!" and we met there last night. The place is a classic diner with the sunburst-patterned stainless steel walls, the swivel stools at the counter and a few booths. The first thing I noticed was that it was sparkling clean. That's a big plus when venturing into a new place, especially a diner. The waitress, Yolanda, was very friendly, and gave us plenty of time to review the menu and as we hadn't seen each other for a while, gave us plenty of time to catch up without hovering over us. I do like that.

Now to the food...

As a southern boy I rarely get a chance to enjoy grits and when I saw New Orleans-Style Barbecued Shrimp with White Cheddar Grits I knew I had to order them. The shrimp were cooked perfectly. They were tender and not at all overcooked as barbecued shrimp often are. The sauce had a wonderful "tang" to it and a finish of Worcestershire that I found very delicious. The grits were also very well done with plenty of cheddar and fresh corn off the cob mixed in. A little pitcher of additional sauce was served on the side but was not required by me.
This dish is absolutely delicious. I did add a dash of salt to the dish, after tasting it of course, but I like my food on the slightly salty side, more so than most people. Very well done Chef! Linda had Lump Crab Cakes with a Lemon-scented Tartar Sauce for her appetizer. The cakes were sauteed in butter so they had a lovely buttery finish on the palate and were nicely crunchy on the outside while the inside was very moist and delicious. There were beautiful lumps of crab in the cakes and not a lot of "filling" which can make a crab cake just plain nasty. The tartar sauce had just enough lemon in it to give it a brightness that made it very good with the cakes.

For dinner we both opted for pork. "La Reine" had the Baby-Back Ribs with a side salad and I had "The Full Sullivan" which is a pulled pork sandwich with Potato Salad for s side.
According to the "Queen of Barbecue" the ribs were perfect. The rub had a nice little "kick" to it but not so much as would put off someone like me who does not care for very spicy food. The accompanying sauce was the restaurant's "if you don't specify what kind of sauce you want you get this one" which was quite nice with a little spice and tang, tomato-based, with a wonderful complexity of flavors. The ribs were well cooked and "pull off the bone" tender. Very nicely done. She also said that the dressing on the salad (homemade) was quite tasty. The Pulled Pork sandwich was just  plain great. It was a "heapin' helpin'" of pulled pork dressed with some of that terrific sauce and topped with cole slaw on a buttery toasted bun. Oh my goodness was that tasty. The potato salad was nicely done as well. One thing I will mention was that the potatoes were perfectly cooked. When I saw the potato salad in the "monkey dish" I noted that you could see clearly defined edges on the cut potatoes usually signaling that the potatoes are slightly undercooked, but not this time. It was just terrific.

Neither of us ordered dessert or coffee as we were both stuffed at the end of dinner. I did, however, order a full rack to go for a little nosh this evening.

I would heartily recommend this place to anyone that is looking for delicious food, prepared to order by a chef who really knows what he is doing.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

With apologies to Scheherezade, a Topsy-Turvy Tomato Update

"In proportion to one's labour, eminences are gained."- One Thousand and One Nights


My tomato growing/canning project is a bomb. I have watered, tended, clipped, snipped, fussed and fed my Topsy-Turvy tomato planter for weeks now hoping to get even one jar full of decent tomatoes for my canning project. The book I have says that the tomatoes must be firm, ripe, and free from spots or splits. As you can see from the photo the tomatoes I have gotten so far off of my plant all have some sort of imperfection that would preclude me from canning them. It looks as though this project will be a bust for this year. I think I need to have three or more plants to get enough tomatoes for a canning project. I guess this year I will have to go to a farm stand and purchase tomatoes for this project. 

What a bummer!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers (continued)

Well folks, the stuffed peppers were a huge bomb. While they had flavor, they lacked the complexity that I get from my usual stuffed peppers. I did season them well, with chili powder, ground cumin, salt and pepper, but they were definitely not great. After taking a bite I tried adding some Worcestershire sauce and a little more pepper but that just gave it a Worcestershire sauce flavor and not a roundness that one finds in a good stuffed pepper. Also I think that the red peppers overpowered the rest of the flavors in the dish. Normally when I make a vegetarian stuffed pepper I use cubanelle peppers and a textured soy protein meat crumble mixed with onions, mushrooms, rice and a little egg to bind. After the peppers are stuffed I put some of my own marinara on top to bake them. Perhaps if I had added a bit of mushroom (for the umami) to the new recipe and a little marinara they would have been better but I doubt it. Mr. B liked the new recipe so it looks like he will be enjoying stuffed peppers for a couple of days to come. 

Vixi et didici.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Before I went off on the Whale Watch today (which was fabulous by the way) I put together this dish and put it in my slow-cooker so we could have a nice hot meal when we got home. It was really easy and they smell really good. Mr. B Is taking a nap before dinner so I just have time to fire this off before I get a chance to taste it. The review will follow.

Hollow out 6 peppers and fill with a mixture of 1-1/2 cups cooked rice, 1 can drained and rinsed black beans, 1-10oz package frozen, thawed corn, diced tomatoes (14.5oz canned, with their juice) 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack and spices (I used chili powder, cumin, pepper, salt). Top with a spoonful of salsa, cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Check them after 8 hours to see if they are tender.
When they are done, top with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, cover and cook another 15 minutes on high.
I'm going to let them "set a spell" to let them relax a bit before I serve them. Plus the hubby is still sleeping.

Very exciting day planned

When you live on Cape Cod you sometimes get so involved in just making a living that you forget about the great things to do here. In all the time I have lived and visited here I have never been on a whale watch tour. A few weeks ago a person came into my real estate office and asked if they could put some brochures out for their company. If any of you folks have ever worked in a real estate office you will know that every handyman, inspector, trash hauler, mortgage originator or just about any other service you might imagine, leaves a brochure, booklet or flyer in your office. The result is a mess of crap that the poor office people (that would be me) have to spend their days organizing and straightening. I usually just smile and say that "I'll be glad to put your brochure out" and then throw it into the large round "brochure file". Well when this person came in to ask about putting out brochures she had a little incentive for me... two free passes for the Dolphin Fleet's Whale Watch tour out of Provincetown. Those brochures went right up and the ticket into my pocket. 

Friday I was able to talk Mr. B into taking me out for an airing and the whale watch was the answer. We are going today and I couldn't be more excited. I have gotten a polarizing filter for my Canon G7 and I am hoping to get some great photos on this adventure. It sounds like great fun so check back tomorrow for the photos and the review of the trip.