Monday, March 30, 2015

Italian Food, Contemporary Art

 It's Sunday, March 29, and I'm in Cincinnati for an afternoon with Tom. Originally we thought we'd eat at Chipotle's. I'm always a fan of Mexican food and I love their bean burrito. But Tom's been having some digestive issues and I thought it'd be better if we chose something a little closer to Italy. So we chose LaRosa's Pizza in Clifton.

 The area seems nice enough, though Tom said it was once a high-crime area. Storefronts are clean and new and security cameras monitor the streets (more on that later).

 We arrived early enough - before noon - and there was only one other customer that I noticed. The waitress seated us at a table near the window and we enjoyed the blue-sky view while we looked at the menu.

 The calzones caught my eye. They offer one where you pick three veggies. Cheese is already included. I chose mushrooms, green olives and artichokes. Tom decided spaghetti with plain tomato sauce fit the bill. We both ordered beautiful salads.

 The good window lighting seemed to highlight my whitening hair (the gray days are over apparently). What about that ghostly cowlick at the right rear of my head? My teeth now remind me of how my Dad's mouth looked (though he wore dentures).

 While waiting for our meals we sipped water from light green CocaCola glasses.

 Here's a good close-up of Tom, I think.

 The salads were gorgeous ... fresh lettuce of at least two kinds, olives (green and black), red onions, cherry tomatoes and shredded cheese. I chose an Italian dressing to compliment the meal. Tom picked a mustard-based dressing that looked equally delicious.

 The calzone was plate-sized and perfectly browned. I never located an artichoke, though. Maybe I didn't look close enough? And I'd have preferred the tomato sauce be provided hot. But actually the meal was wonderful and I'd head back there in a moment.

  Here's Tom's spaghetti with marinara and slices of bread with melted cheese atop. Very nice.

 How did my calzone look inside? Full of melted provolone (I had a choice) with liberal amounts of olives and mushrooms. I was still looking for an artichoke, though.

 After the meal we were each given a peppermint.

 As we left, I look a picture of the camera attached to a metal arch that spans Vine Street (see the next shot for a wide view). The camera is placed midway on that span. Big Brother is watching!

 A look back up Vine Street as we walked to the car. LaRosa's is at the left side of this shot, just past the red, white and green sign.

 From there we headed towards downtown Cincinnati. This is still Vine Street. The Kroger building is on the left; on the right is Macy's.  In the far distance the highest building is the Carew Tower. It's 49 stories tall. We're on the way to the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center which Tom understands offers free admission on Sunday's in March.
 Unfortunately they don't. At least not this Sunday. Neither one of us wanted to pay the $7.50 admission charge so I sat down on one of their sofas while Tom made a trip to the basement restroom.

 That sofa mid-shot is my destination for the short wait.

 Once seated I turn back around and photograph the entrance and the registration desk (right). One very nice note is that a young woman (Laura) walks over to me and says that the hotel next door and a shop offer free admission and some of Cincinnati's contemporary art is displayed there. Thanks, Laura! That was a friendly and welcome bit of advice.

 This is the main door to the CAC. A bright neon sign marks the entrance.

 These steps head downstairs. That's where Tom is at the moment. He said the restroom was as modern as the rest of the building: automatic toilets with plenty of chrome. I wish I had checked them out (and even taken pictures).

 This artwork hung above me. It appears to be bent copper tubing on the outside and bright white LED lighting in the center piece.

 The building across the street is equally contemporary and shouts color. This window view was free, too.

 After walking through the nearby shop and hotel, we walked to the next corner and entered the Weston Art Gallery. Again, it's contemporary art.

 Many of today's artists are using LCD panels to display colorful images that change constantly. This artwork makes use of lenses, too.

 How about this one? A video is displayed on the wall and toilets are lined up as "seats".

 And driftwood on a wall ...

 This artwork was on  the floor of a darkened room and a spotlight shone down from above. The image and color constantly changed. The effect was one of sticks floating on water. Sometimes the display was quite bright; other times it faded away to nothingness.

 I'd love to show this collage to our electrician.

 This display was  made of bottle caps in various colors.
 We followed up with a tour of Findlay Market, a favorite stop.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

 I noticed a link on Facebook a few days ago for Old Fashioned Rice Pudding. It's a recipe from Connie Brumley Sutton. The recipe is available by clicking here.

 I decided to have a go at it last evening and soon enough discovered that the recipe doesn't call for eggs. How can it have a "lovely custard texture" without eggs? As I added the ingredients to my mixing bowl, I decided an egg was necessary to bind the mixture together and give it that desired custard texture.

 Now I think not. The end result is a little too stiff and suffered, I think, from the addition of the egg.

 Another change I made was to add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the mixture (while still liberally sprinkling cinnamon on the top). And I easily added half a teaspoon of nutmeg. I like things, especially desserts, spicy.

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding - slightly modified

 If you follow the link for Connie's recipe, you'll notice that her pudding looks yellow. I'd prefer that. But  what in this list of ingredients would cause that? I'd think my modification - adding  an egg - would make the dessert more yellow. But no.

 The pudding must be stirred after 15 minutes in the oven (and again when finished). It stratifies a bit at this stage but a good stir mixes the raisins (particularly) and the rice better, Still, at this stage (barely warm) the mixture is extremely soupy.

 When it's finished, I added a good sprinkling of cinnamon to the top. It took an hour or two to cool enough to place in the refrigerator. Of course I had a small bowl of it to see how it turned out before putting it away. It was still warm and deliciously sweet and spicy. I would prefer a recipe that is more creamy but this recipe has the advantage of speed and ease.

 That said, the next time I try it, I'll leave out the egg and go with the recipe as written. It was probably just perfect as written.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kitchen's Painted

 When we moved here over 28 years ago, getting the kitchen in shape was one of my first priorities. The oven was in sad shape and I replaced it with a new digital model from Sears. I'm happy to say that that in-wall oven still works perfectly all these years later.

 I also replaced a hanging light which apparently hung above a small kitchen table at one time. We didn't have a table nor did we want to use that space for one. Hanging down from the ceiling, the lamp wasn't just just an eyesore, it was dangerous. I replaced it with a ceiling-mounted light.

 I also painted the kitchen, staying with the all-white colors of the previous owners. Over the years we've gotten a bit tired of all that blandness. The silicone sealant I placed (not too well, actually) between the splash-boards and the wall had grown a dingy gray on top, cracked and even began pulling away from the wall. All in all, the kitchen needed a new coat of paint and some minor repair.

 On Monday I called Rieger Construction. They returned the call yesterday and stopped by the house and gave Mom and I an estimate. We approved it. They estimated the work would take two days. "We're available the next two days," Jordan Rieger told us. We didn't have anything on the schedule so we gave our go-ahead.

 Late yesterday Mom and began removing all the knick-knacks above the cabinets. We took everything movable to the dining room and piled it on the table, on the chair and on the floor. What a mess!

 Today, about 8:45 am, the Rieger Brothers (and one helper) arrived and began work.

 And here's how it was looking half-way through. They were having lunch while one coat dried and then they came back and added a second ...

 I think the walls look richer with a little brown added. This is the same color as the living room. I left the woodwork white enamel.

 Finally, here's contact information for the Rieger brothers:

For my own information, in case I ever need to match the color, here's the paint that was used:

 Many years ago, I painted the living room "Antique Ivory", an HWI color (2060-5). They've matched it with a Sherwin-Williams paint that is apparently called Egg Shell.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Cincy Sunday: Five Days Till Spring

 On our usual every-other Sunday schedule, this is my turn to drive to Cincinnati and spend the afternoon with Tom. It's a beautiful day - quite a change from only a few weeks ago - with the almost-constant sun driving the temperature up over 60°.

 It's a good day to be outside and re-visit a couple of sites.

 In front of Tom's apartment, this is Hamilton Avenue facing north. Northside is a beautiful community and still has many of its original Victorian buildings. It seems there are people coming and going around the clock. Just two weeks ago, this scene was quite different. Thick ice still stuck to the sidewalk and moving about was difficult. It's taken a few warm days and an early-week heavy rain to wash away all evidence of winter.

 To get to the door to Tom's apartment, one must unlock a metal gate and slip between two brick buildings. The one to the left of Tom used to be an A&P grocery. To the right, and between Tom and I, is the door that opens to stairs that lead to Tom's apartment. In the winter, the cold wind whips through this passage with some force. But also it offers some protection, depending on the wind's direction.

 Turn around and look back out towards Hamilton Avenue and this is what you see. That's my car parked there. This shot was taken later, on 3/29/15.

 We first drove to Findlay Market and made a quick pass through the interior before exiting on the opposite end and then making a complete pass around the outside where vendors have already set up shop. Vegetables will be sold there until fall.

 We then passed through the interior a second time. We were early enough that the market was only moderately busy. There's such a variety of unusual shops there - mostly food - and the people are so nice that it's a comforting place to visit.

 One of the reasons I wanted to go back inside was to buy a loaf of homemade bread. I chose a loaf of sourdough ... crusty thick on the outside and beautifully browned. The lady you see in the center of the picture is slicing the loaf on an electric slicer. In the foreground of the plastic case are loaves of salted rye. Tom tried a sample and thought it too salty. Of course that would be the main attraction for me.
 When we got back to the car, I sat the loaf behind us so it wouldn't be flattened ... and forgot it. Later, when I was already north of Cincinnati on I-75, Tom messaged me. "You forgot your bread!" he said. But it was already too late to turn back. Tom suggested he just enjoy the loaf himself and bring another to Pinehaven next weekend. That sounded like a good solution.
 Tom also bought a pound of Artichoke Pasta Salad, part of which he planned to send home with me. I (we) forgot that, too. Last evening Tom dug into it but wondered what he was going to do with a full pound of warm salad.. It must have spent the afternoon in his Prius.

 I've now visited Findlay Market twice and I hope we manage to get back there another time or two before this summer passes. For more information, click here. Tom and my reflection is in the right pane of glass.

 Then, while we were downtown, Tom suggested we check out the Contemporary Arts Center. Trouble was, there seemed to be a marathon or some sort of run going on and many streets were blocked. Police were everywhere directing traffic. We drove - slowly! - around a few blocks and did manage to pass the CAC on one of them, but it hadn't yet opened for the day. Tom said admission in March is free.

 Here we're following the Cinderella Carriage. We tagged it for some distance. It had no passengers, just a driver and the clip-clop of a horse. The horse plowed steadily along, generally weaving in and out among the stopped cars and making better time than the higher technology. I thought: does the horse know he's working? He seemed to be looking around and enjoying the tall buildings that surrounded him.

 Then to Listermann Brewing Company on Dana Avenue. We love their Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter. A "growler" is $15 which can be filled in their taproom. We've had several of them now. I thought they weren't open on Sunday but Tom said they opened at noon. Perfect timing ... and I had an empty, washed growler in the trunk ready for a refill.

 Tom's holding the door for me but I'm messing with the camera. What else is new?

 In their small parking lot, a well-painted Listermann van waits.
 Another great Sunday in Cincinnati, something I wouldn't have imagined doing even a year ago.