Live blogging from Manhattan Beach, CA  

Posted by Wayne Bretski

"I see the Miracle Flag." - Cousin Ava.

It looks like this:

The World In 7 Photos  

Posted by Wayne Bretski

I found the first three of these quite amazing...the rest don't quite live up, but check it out anyways.

Here's one for a taste, under the heading "Only in China":

Mont Morency  

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"A State of Reverie does not avoid Reality, it accedes to Reality." - Somerset Maugham

Unpublished Dinner last night, it was delicious but not Terribly Attractive. Basic premise: Enchilada made with Rice, Mushrooms, two kinds of Cheese, and Snap Peas. It came out quite Orange.

Coming Soon: Pictures of our Voyage down the River of Salt. Currently hosted on The Face Book.

Also coming soon: Employment!

Finally: Giant Bags of Mont Morency Cherries are great to have around.


Posted by Wayne Bretski

Floating above Earth
Wearing a bulky spacesuit
NASA's man looks lost


Posted by Wayne Bretski

Floating above earth
Wearing a bulky spacesuit
NASA's man looks lost

Spiral pasta  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

So to go along with the gigantic can of tomato sauce, we got 2 lbs. of portabello mushrooms last night. We also have a lot of pasta. Thus, pasta with red sauce night.

Here's a photo of the mushrooms heating up with basil and pine nuts.

Then with tomato sauce, some poured into the cooked pasta pot:

Not particularly exciting, but the mushrooms are really tasty, and the sauce turned out nicely.

Interesting people that live in my complex  

Posted by Wayne Bretski

This morning at the gym I met an interesting group of three; one giant black guy who looked like he spends a lot of time there, a dread who was about 5'4'', and a middle-aged Mexican, also tiny. They were all doing the same workout, which was a little strange, had a cooking show at peak volume on one TV, and "The Outlaw Trail" with Robert Redford on the other TV. Then I went downstairs to do the crossword and have coffee. For a while, this was the group all having a conversation:
-Roy, a 30 y/o b-boy breakdancer who I see in the gym all the time, telling me about the upcoming battles
-Michelle, a 22 y/o software support technician who's really into capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art/dance, and who's also a dominatrix, talking to me about hip hop and comic books
-Michael, everyone's favorite gay Filipino assistant property manager, living vicariously through Michelle
-Gerald, an African American with Down Syndrome, asking where are the cookies and drinking hot chocolate
-(Didn't catch his name), a Serbian ex-pat from Belgrade, who asked me for help connecting to the wireless
-Bonnie, our next door neighbor who I met just yesterday, who is from Okoboji, IA, with her young child

The Art of Criticism - Guys Named Mark, the Symphony  

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First I wanted to share an interesting fact about music criticism. There are more reviews on Pitchfork Music by guys named Mark than there are by women. Check out Matt Yglesias' reaction for the facts.

Secondly, the New York Times has done away with TimesSelect; all the content is free online. Including crossword puzzles! Paul Krugman now has a blog as well; check out this post from today about political journalists acting like theatre critics.

We went to see Leslie's friend Alex play viola in the ASU Symphony last night; Mahler's 5th on the bill. I had heard the piece before - Alex played it one night when we were over just in case! - and I do enjoy other Mahler symphonies. I find that listening to classical and especially symphonic music has its share of profound joys, and clearly a certain level of elegance has been lost in the transition to 'pop' music. It did make me think though, about why I prefer to listen to other music so much more. I think the answer lies in the historical context in which Classical music was composed and performed - it's a bit like wondering why people don't listen to full albums anymore. In both cases it gets back to the accessibility of the material: when a composer is commissioned to write and perform for a particular audience, that audience will be more lenient regarding the whimsy of the composer. When the piece is played hundreds of years later, it seems more arbitrary, and is compared to other performances and other similar pieces. There are just large barriers to entry in terms of comprehending what the symphony is doing: the music itself is just not accessible, it doesn't follow conventions that are readily obvious to a first time listener (and the conventions they do follow are frankly esoteric) and in the same sense that a bottle of Two Buck Chuck or Yellow Tail Cabernet can taste like a reasonably complex and well crafted beverage, so too can a poorly played piece act as a perfectly good proxy for a heady and tasteful performance. As Alex said, "We almost derailed a couple of times there." I knew I wasn't listening to the London Philharmonic but I couldn't point to two places where the orchestra nearly "derailed". And the pomp and formality wears on me too. To get back to my earlier point, I really only listen to singles and select songs off of albums first, perhaps getting back to the whole work later if I can download it or get it at the library or from a friend. There is so much music out there for the picking now, whereas symphonies were created as a world unto themselves, for a contained social group. Now I can find for free online Pre-war Delta Blues from the '20s and '30, early bop from the myriad musicians that played with both Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, or super-rare garage rock from all over the U.S. and the U.K.; it's as easy to see to influence of James Brown and American funk on Africa as downloading or streaming 2 tunes, one from the early '60s before Live at the Apollo! came out and one from say 1967 after his African tour (and the birth of Afro-beat). So I guess it boils down to a bit of ADD, as I would prefer to genre-hop, groove for a while, and otherwise 'multi-task'. And I can't really find a piece of truly Classical music that entertains me the whole time, as they would have been termed "bombastic" and probably trashed. Also, as the symphony careened into the last minute of the final movement, blasting away with all they had making joyful noise and really getting somewhere, I realized the perfect analogy to describe my experience at the symphony: fireworks shows. Many, many minutes of maybe one or two bursts, sometimes picking up speed but quickly curtailing, and finally going nuts and being entertaining, but for far too short a period.

Finally, here's a picture I took of myself with my computer's built-in camera using a program called Iris. It's in the "clubhouse" at the apartment complex.

A Note of Shared Items  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

That little box to the right of the text, my Google Reader Shared Items, shows the last five posts that I've selected to appear there. The top article is by Gary Becker, economist and Nobel laureate, regarding central banking. It's a bit dense perhaps for some, but as Mark once put it to me "we only have so much time to read the Internet" and that we should spend it reading truly brilliant scholars. The next is about No Child Left Behind, which may be of interest to some; the last article is also from Cato-at-Liberty's blog regarding education policy. So keep your eyes open for interesting things I've found floating on the Interweb and check them out.

An Austere Meal  

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We broke open the giant bag of Royal Basmati rice last night. The meal wasn't anything to speak of, but it was tasty and filling. In addition to the bowl of rice, we had garlic and basil-roasted garbanzo beans with hot pine nuts, mixed up with some yogurt cheese. As usual, Leslie added Sriracha hot sauce (I think you can tell from the picture below) that makes me want to die.

We also opened a very large container of tomato sauce, seen here, purchased by mistake (that would be the second time I've grabbed 'sauce' while intending to get 'paste' in the last month). That was heated with fresh basil, some dried spices, and garlic powder, and used as a dipping sauce for a loaf of whole-clove garlic bread.

Astronomy Picture of the Day  

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That's todays. For more, check out this site.

In Deference to Superior Effort,  

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I am leaving the crossword blogging to Rex Parker. Check out his website at
There you will find, often by midnight the day before, a completed NYT grid along with a rating difficult and commentary on the puzzle. He's just so much better than me. For less specifics but more variety (as in, other puzzles), check out Diary of a Crossword Fiend here.

"Bret, your name is short, and you are looong!"  

Posted by Wayne Bretski

A six year old told me that on Friday.

Yesterday we floated down the Salt River, and it was nice but a long day. No pictures just yet, but one of our party had a waterproof camera so hopefully I can post some eventually.

Thursday and Friday  

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Difficult Thursday puzzle by Joe Krozel and Victor Fleming. I didn't finish it; the theme was legalese. I.e., CAPITAL OFFENSES, THE DEFENSE RESTS. Good cluing, I just ran into a block in the SE corner.

John Farmer
28 Minutes
Themeless Friday was tough but rewarding. Without a couple of gimme clues regarding some of my favorite rock acts, I would have been in a world of hurt. "Brian ___, known for his 33-Across music" was a lifesaver (ENO, AMBIENT), while "Talking Heads' hit "Take __ the River" opened up the right side for me. Other gimmes were Canadian P.M. John TURNER and MALTA conference.

Things I learned or are new to me:
Sopor (without the -ific) for "Lethargy"
How to spell VERKLEMPT
The word "enroll" has the exact same meaning without the second L
Weighty word QUIXOTIC was clued "Starry eyed"
Apparently the Arabic word for King is spelled with an extra S in Syria ("Damascus V.I.P." = ASSAD)
One theme clue I didn't like: "Doesn't support conspiracy theories" was ACTS ALONE. I might have clued it differently.
Dizzy Gillespie wore a soul patch. Fortunately I knew about Frank Zappa's.

Finally, Friday's NY Sun was. just. dirty. Incredible construction; the middle five rows circles all the way down and UNCLUED. It was a nasty word ladder, starting with "Transformation beginning" = "BLACK" and each subsequent row replaced just one letter until the final clue of "Ending" = WHITE. I couldn't get all the fill, some Scrabbly stuff and two many specific nouns for me, but the theme was amazing. Thanks, Patrick Berry, for another mind-blowing Friday.

Since they were so explicitly mentioned:
Talking Heads, "Take Me To The River" from More Songs About Buildings and Food
Brian Eno, "Zawinul/Lava" from Another Green World

FYI, Joe Zawinul just passed away last week, the reason for the elegiac second song.

Cold cucumber soup with rice  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

I have to admit that I had no more conception of what this would taste like before I made it than you do now. But I think it turned out rather well, a good dish for summer. Which it still is here.

Cucumber soup:
I made this by processing pine nuts, walnuts, garlic, a little onion, and a whole English cucumber, with a handful of fresh basil leaves. That made a nice little paste, I heated it with olive oil and salt over the stove while I cooked some salted, peppered and seasoned garbanzo beans until they were crunchy. I added the beans to the soup, stirred, and removed from heat.

Then I made a giant pot of rice.

After a couple hours of refrigeration, the soup was served cold, with yogurt cheese-infused rice and cold cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkle of cilantro and green onion. Hooray experimentation.

Picture dump  

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Just a few pictures littering my desktop:

If you don't read lips, I'm saying "Why is the camera only aimed at me?"

A Lincoln Log house I made for the kids to enjoy.

My fifth grade art teacher had this quote on the wall, so when it came time to make things for a fourth-fifth grade classroom, it came to mind. It survived the move, and has been reunited with Dorothy.

And this I drew for Leslie's planner, but it was a bit too large. I put a lot of time into it, and only six year old's see it, so now the Internet can.

Cous cous and Chickpeas with Red peppers  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Bet you'd thought we'd stopped cooking, and ordering take out pizzas for our sole dietary intake. Only partially true: we got our favorite Chicago style deep dish from Rosati's on Sunday, which takes two full meals to eat, and survived the rest of the time on leftover enchilada materials and broccoli salad.

But tonight the lights were back on, and under pressure too. With just under 35 minutes to cook, eat, and be back to school, this is what was whipped up:
Cous cous, with oil and salt
Basil leaves, with oil, garlic and salt..
Joined with chopped red peppers, a can of chickpeas,
and a handful of cilantro and chopped pine nuts.
Scoop the rice, pour on the vegetables, top with sun dried tomatoes and yogurt cheese, sprinkle with cilantro.

In the words of John Madden: "Boom!"

Which reminds me. Check out Frank Caliendo's impression of Madden on YouTube. Do it.

Also, our dishwasher drain was clogged, and spilled soapy water over our kitchen floor on Monday, which was terrible. It was the first time we had ever run the dishwasher (it's normally just a drying rack) so who knew? But now the floor is quite clean and the clogged hose is no longer clogged.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Qawwali master  

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I promised a "series" of looks at major figures in particular music styles. After the Fela Kuti post, I realized that it was kind of hard. So here's a stripped-down "Fill in the Blank from Who Knows Where" post.

Part 2
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
From: Pakistan
Style: Qawwali, devotional music of the Sufi religion

I actually had an English professor who was Sufi, which was a bit odd as he was white. But he also painted his finger/toenails gold, looked like Santa Claus, and ran a massage therapy clinic. His class wasn't the first place I heard of Qawwali - I picked up my first Ustad Khan disc at the library in high school.

Basically this is soothing, devotional music sung to Allah, usually in Urdu or Punjabi, running 15 to 30 minutes. Ustad (an honorific in Persian, Arabic, Hindu, Urdu, etc. It means about the same as Master or Maestro) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is a singer only, the music in the qawwali party is mostly harmonium and male singers, known as qawwals. Ali Khan is primarily responsible for the modern incarnation of qawwali, and for what limited international exposure it has gotten. In fact, if you google "qawwali", you'll find a fan site as the fourth listing, after the requisite Wikipedia entry of course.

This song is from "Final Recordings", which were his, well, final recordings, produced by Rick Rubin (yep!).

Too Kareemi Man Kamina Barda Am


In the course of my "research" for this post, I found an awesome blog called Up the Downstair, a weekly podcast of shows from diverse artists. Check out this post on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, featuring way more biographical information than mine, and also a full-length performance of Ustad Khan's.

Tuesday and Wednesday Crosswords  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Nothing particularly special about these, other than Eminem is clued in both of them...

In other news, Blogger needs more keyboard shortcuts for adding pictures and such.

Also, Google Reader now features a search function. Yet another reason to Read.

Speaking of reading, if you're new in town, check out my post on Daily Lit: here. By book list is on the right sidebar, beneath the Shared Google Reader links. Just finished Tristram Shandy, moving on...

"Notes of the Scale"  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Notes of the Scale
Edward Sessa
Time: 5:52
The circled grid entries spell out DO RE MI FA SO LA TI DO; the rest of the answers had nothing to do with the theme. Despite having "SOLAR" instead of "LUNAR" eclipse, this was a fast one for me, and I didn't even get to read all the clues. Mistyping on "TWEET" and cross "EST".

Song that came to mind: "Born and Raised in the County of Dade" won out over "Lose Yourself", part of an actual clue.

Also, it's good to see John von Neumann in the puzzle. [Link]

A Few of My Favorite Things  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Decidedly worst for wear, the enchiladas from the party were a big hit.

Milton's Crackers, Rogue Brutal Bitter, and the '07 Vertical Epic from Stone

A giant bag of rice, with a Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale for comparison. Thanks Costco!

Leslie's Broccoli Salad (via Mama Karen)  

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-Bag of vegetables labeled broccoli slaw; including broccoli florets and shredded vegetables, like carrots and cabbage. The Costco variety included some dried fruits and nuts. Some bags may not have full broccoli, you can add them or not.
-Two bags of uncooked "Oriental flavor" Ramen noodles
-1/3rd C oil, 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 3 tbsp. sugar for the dressing, mixed in with the Ramen seasoning packets. (You can choose your own flavor if you so desire.)

Even without a pre-mixed bag this would be an easy salad to whip up. We eschewed the Bacon Bits and mayo-esque sauce included with the broccoli slaw for a somewhat healthier alternative.

We also worked a few crosswords together this weekend. Saturday's New York Times was a singular construction, with almost all of the words being 4-, 7-, or 15-letter entries. Maybe slightly easier than the average Saturday, but we still didn't finish it without Internet help.

And today's Sunday puzzle was an impressive theme, where each themed entry repeated all its letters twice, except for a single, single letter. E.g., HARDHEARTED has only one T, but all other letters are used twice. The theme answers spell out LEFTOVERS by taking away all the double letters, but it's really anticlimactic, as it doesn't help at all in solving the puzzle. After about an hour's work, we finished the Patrick Berry puzzle by turning to the Internet for a few clues, such as the name of the dog in "The Thin Man", "Sketches of ___", 1836 [Boz], and the name of a Jordanian king from the 60's [Hussein].

We ARE The Kind of People You Invite to a Party  

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Some teachers from Leslie's old school had a little get-together last night, and the lady who hosted it happened to live in the neighboring apartment complex. So on Thursday, we whipped up some enchiladas to bring over. We were the only people that brought anything; the hostess made some dips and things, but we wanted to and it was fun.

Potato and black bean enchiladas with salsa:
Leslie's salsa involves a can of diced tomatoes, whizzed with green onion, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers. We made a large batch, big enough to warrant using an empty ice cream bucket. After we got done making the enchiladas (and having tacos for lunch), we brought the rest of the salsa for dipping.

To make the enchiladas, we boiled potatoes until soft, strained, and added black beans. These were mashed together to make the filling. Then we formed a production line of
1: Putting salsa on a tortilla
2: Adding some filling, sprinkling on grated cheese
3: Wrapping it up, placing it crease-side down in the pan.

When that was done, we covered the whole pan with more salsa, and topped with a layer of cheese. Baked for about 12 minutes at 350. They were a big hit; comments included "tastes like a restaurant" and "you should try these, I'm not sure who brought them but they're great." We've still got some leftover so I'll try to remember to take a picture of a finished product.

This was also a BYOB affair. With all the best beer stores being rather closer to Arizona State, I went back to a small wine and spirits shop nearer our place that's really ritzy. The beer fridge is rather meager compared to the racks upon racks of vintage wines and dusty Scotch shelves, but I found a couple of bombers to bring, both West Coast micros which are fairly abundant in these parts.

The first was Stone's Vertical Epic 07.07.07, the sixth in a series that are brewed one year, one month, and one day apart, and are meant to be aged for quite a while. Mine was all of two months's a cross between a triple and a saison, and it's pulled off reasonably well. I suppose it would be obnoxious for me to pan it given that it's meant to be aged, but I thought it was just fine right now, though I'm not sure what would happen in the aging process. Clearly it's bottle-conditioned, and the yeast would continue to act in some fashion, but I'm sure they're all rolled over and napping at the bottom of the bottle already. Anyways, it was floral and full-bodied in the mouth, with a dry, slightly tart finish; quite spicy all around with a peppery kick at the end. Decent, and very unusual.

The second bottle is an old stand-by: Rogue's Brutal Bitter. Nice and hoppy, but mostly mild, it was indeed a nice brew to follow up the rather challenging Stone. Technically an Extra Special Bitter, Rogue's brewmaster John "More Hops" Maier lives up the nickname with the Brutal.

I'll post pictures sometime, like this afternoon. Also, I forgot to post two of the most amazing crossword grids I've ever worked. Friday's Times was a doozy, just about the right difficulty for a Friday where I went through and got perhaps one or two answers on the first reading, but I still finished in about 22 minutes.

Lots of z's and x's and other Scrabble-y answers.

And the NY Sun's Weekend Warrior puzzle, the first of three planned for this fall, was both themeless and asymmetrical; featuring six 15-word answers it was some of the most intense crossword construction I've ever seen. I couldn't solve the middle parts, but I loved the exterior so much. How cool is this!?:

Looking over it, there's actually 8 full-length answers, three across and five down. The Sun is nice because they're way more open to interesting construction than the Times and others. I've seen a lot more themeless puzzles, asymmetrical puzzles, and "artistic" grids in the Sun than anywhere else, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend warriors.

Halved eggplant with herbs  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Flying by the seat of my pants today.

I started by halving an eggplant and leaving it out to dry a bit, about two hours total. Then I used a chopping knife to make cross-hatched incisions across the exposed faces, trying to get towards the bottom of the "bowl" without breaking through the skin.

When that was ready, I poured an herb mixture over the halves: basil, oregano, cilantro, "all purpose seasoning", sea salt, cracked pepper, garlic, fresh cilantro, green onion, and spinach all went into the food processor. I baked those at 450 for about 35 minutes.

I also heated some canned whole corn over the stove, and stirred in chopped spinach and sprigs of cilantro. Service:

I stirred the corn and spinach into the soft eggplant innards as I was eating. It would have been good with anything that goes with mashed potatoes, and could have used a little more salt. We had some ideas about how to improve it; if we ever get after it again I think the herb mix will be heavier on oil, with a little more salt as well, so that it gets down in the cracks better.

Not an embarrassing experiment, more like a qualified success.

"It's Reversed"  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

That's the theme of Thursday's Daniel Bryant puzzle. It took me a while, but there were a lot of distractions as well as a difficult theme. Answers: Untied Front (Wardrobe Malfunction); Martial Bliss (Mood After Military Victory); Landing Sties (Where Porcine Pilots Arrive?). Did you know that "moil" means to work hard? Obviously I had 'toil' for a long time. "A-Rod" and "Maris" both make the puzzle, but so does "BOS" for A.L. City on the Scoreboard. Equal opportunity A.L. East today:

Cool music video for Aesop Rock's new single "None Shall Pass". I've had this song for several months; it was included on Stones Throw's White Label mix. I never loved the song, but revisiting it was nice. Check out the stop-motion animation, and maybe Aesop's new rekkid, produced by him and longtime collaborator Blockhead (also with a new album out "Uncle Tony's Coloring Book") and El-P. What up Def Jux?

I saw Aesop rock it live (sup Ollie); I didn't realize he was white just from his music. I loved his forearm tattoos, very Yorkeian: "Must Not Sleep" says one. "Must Warn Others" replies, well, the other.

Beer Pirate + The Greenest Soup You Ever Saw+ Wednesday Crosswording  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

First off, thanks to the Beer Pirate for the love! I commented about Wee Heavy Scotch ales, check out the post and my response here.

The Greenest Soup You Ever Saw, and Likely Ever Will See:

Garlic, onion, and chickpeas roasting in oil; heavily seasoned with oregano, basil, cilantro, salt and pepper
One boiled potato
Vegetable stock
Quartered cucumber
Stir-fried broccoli, green pepper, and sliced cucumber
A late hand full of spinach, just enough time to wilt
Grated cheese
One very green soup:

It was all well and good, not special. Also had some whole grain cracker sandwiches again. They are Milton's brand crackers, really tasty. Hummus and sun dried tomatoes really play off each other, while the cucumber slices and Swiss are nicely subdued. It's quite the nice interplay. (See Sunday's post for pictures of these little guys.)

Wednesday NYT
Appr. 9 Minutes
Richard Silvestri
Quip Theme: "If Vegetarians Eat Vegetables, What Do Humanitarians Eat"

Typo alert: "Canasta plays" should be 'melds'.

Fun puzzles in the NY Sun, LA Times, and CrosSynergy today. Check the archives at, where every day there are a few downloadable puzzles, as well as web-based Java puzzles.

Quote of the Day/Where Have All the XWords Gone?  

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Not going to make a habit of this, but I love this line:

"Sometimes I think we are alone, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the idea is quite staggering." - Stanley Kubrick

Also, lest those out there think my crossword skills are diminishing, the reason I haven't been posting them is that they are annoying and of very little value. I will start posting a picture of the finished grid which shows the time I took. I will leave off commentary, and for those of you who do it in syndication, sorry once again for the time lapse.

Hint: if you go to, that day's NYT puzzle is available for free, along with a few other selected puzzles that seem somewhat random (I've seen the NY Sun, Wash. Post, CrosSynergy, Philly Enquirer, LA Times, the Onion, and Ben Tausig crosswords at various times). Just a little heads up if you don't pay for the Times, don't have access to it at school or wherever, and get the five week old version in your local paper. Registration is free, and I believe offers some extra benefits, though I'm not sure what those are.

Tuesday September 4
Manny Nosowski
Difficult for a Tuesday
Theme: Annoying (not officially, I just found it clunky)
Time: N/A as I forgot to stop the clock

I'll also try to post something nice to listen to that the puzzle made me think of - if I had a digital copy of 112's "Peaches and Cream" you KNOW that would be here...since it was a food-themed puzzle that included "tenderloin steak" for breakfast, here goes some Lonnie Youngblood with Soul Food: here

Also, Ben Tausig's weekly puzzle, often available on Cruciverb and also in the Onion's A.V. Club forum:

Labor Day Tomato Soup  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Leslie made tomato soup today that was delicious. We also had finger sandwiches on these amazing crackers from Costco.

The soup:
Sauteed garlic and diced sweet onion were joined by whole mushrooms, oregano, basil, cilantro, cracked pepper, sea salt, and a healthy pinch of crushed red pepper.

When these were crackling hot, a sixteen ounce can of diced tomatoes were added, stirred, and joined by a can of water. Which turned out to be hopelessly unnecessary since I was smart enough to grab another can of tomato sauce instead of tomato paste. So another 8 ounces of sauce were added, making a nice, well, soupy soup.

To firm things up a bit, some rice was stirred in and simmered with the soup for a while, and then a couple of large handfuls of spinach were added. The texture was much improved. Here's immediately post-spinach:

We enjoyed the soup with a dollop of yogurt cheese and a hunk of whole-clove garlic bread:

Questa zuppa di pomodora c'era squisito!

The crackers:
On one whole grain crackers, we spread hummus, while on the other end of the sandwich, Swiss cheese. In between were slices of cucumber with a couple of sun-dried tomatoes.

Also, RIP to the Beer Hunter Michael Jackson, an inspiring writer and the original Beer Advocate. More information in the New York Times obituary.

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