Monday, October 27, 2008

Early voting in Houston

It took us longer to drive to the early voting site (15 minutes) tonight than it did to vote. We were in and out in 10 minutes.

Differences from the last time we voted, which was for the Democratic primary:
  • twice as many voting booths
  • twice as much staff
  • four times as many signs
  • a few supporters handing out fliers (none at the primary)
  • more smiles

I'm glad to get it done, and hopeful that my candidate (Obama) will win.

Interesting side note - we have been putting out our Vote Democratic sign every morning, and taking it in in the evening, hoping to prevent another tragic sign-stealing episode. This time, when I came home there was an unsolicited Obama/Biden sign in our yard. Makes me wonder. Did the local Democratic boosters just distribute signs, or did our thief feel a little remorse and replace the signs they stole?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


flutterby, originally uploaded by AmyEmilia.

As a friend on Flickr says... this is life in motion. We move so fast through our busy lives, and sometimes miss the wonders right under our noses. This is certainly not a new comment - but it bears repeating.

A news article I read recently said that a byproduct of the worriesome economy is that people spend more time with their families. So there is a silver lining to the gloomy clouds.

Take a moment to see the fleeting beauty of nature. All we have is NOW.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Limoncino - the first day

Tonight I began my next batch of limoncino. The first batch, made 2 or 3 years ago, has finally been consumed. The recipe that I use is from my husband's mother's cousin Roberto, an engaging, enthusiastic octogenarian who is the self-appointed welcoming committee for his village. Visiting his home is a culinary adventure - we always leave with recipes and full stomachs.

Among many wonderful things, he creates limoncino, and another version with orange peels instead of lemon peels. Also an interesting rose-petal liqueur. The ingredients (except for the alcohol) come from his lovely garden.
Here is Roberto's Limoncino di Casa Magnani (with modifications by me)
Day 1, Phase 1:
1 liter Everclear (grain alcohol 190 proof)
1 liter vodka (good but not necessarily premium)
15 lemons - quantity negotiable and dependant on how thick the skin is. The thicker the skin, the fewer lemons required. If possible use organic lemons with very thick skins.
Pour the alcohol into a clean, dry gallon jar. Carefully peel the lemons so that all you have is the yellow part of the skin. Stop frequently to smell the wonderful perfume of lemon oil on your hands. (My husband takes the now naked lemons and macerates them with sugar, to make a puckery and delightful dessert.) Put the lemon peels in the alcohol, swirl a little and admire how pretty they are in the light, and then put into a dark, cool cupboard for 8 days.
Day 8, 22, and 36:
Gently stir the lemon peels and put back in the cupboard.
Day 43:
Stir the lemon peels, and test flexibility. If the peel breaks like a potato chip, move on to the next step. If not and the peel just bends, put the jar back in the cupboard for another week.
The beauty of this recipe is that there is very little work to do for the first 6 weeks or so. Buy, pour, peel, and swirl.
Once your peels are brittle, you proceed to the next stage.
Day 1, Phase 2:
Dissolve 4 cups of white sugar in 3 cups of tap or distilled water (not mineral water). If you want a thicker syrup, use a little more sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Use a clean slotted spoon to remove the lemon peels from the infusion and discard. Using a large funnel and paper coffee filters, slowly (this may take quite a while) strain the infusion through the filters into a large pitcher. You will use lots of filters and probably make a mess. Rinse and dry the same gallon jar that you used in Phase 1. Repeat the straining process, this time back into the gallon jar. Add the cooled syrup. Return to a cool dry cupboard for 40 days to mellow.
Day 40, Phase 2:
Begin filtering the limoncino again, this time into a measuring cup. Then filter one more time into the bottles you will store the liquor in. You have now filtered the liqueur a total of four times, and it should be a lovely lemon yellow color, with a slightly thick feel to it. Seal the bottles very tightly. If you use cork be sure to dip the neck into melted wax. You don't want the alcohol to evaporate out through the cork!!!
The limoncino is now ready to use. But it gets smoother and more mellow the longer you let it sit. The batch that is now 2 or 3 years old is really excellent.
We keep ours in the freezer. It won't freeze, and the icy cold liqueur is wonderful on a hot summer day, or after a heavy meal. Also lovely on vanilla ice cream (Blue Bell, or Blue Bunny if you are in the US).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

they stole my sign!

I am sorry to report that some $#(@R$#$ person stole my Obama/Biden sign this evening. We planted it there a week ago and it survived until sometime between 5pm and 7pm tonight. So disappointing. Our neighbor on the corner takes his signs in every night - which we should have done too I guess. But I had hoped that the political climate, in Houston and my neighborhood, had gotten less petty.

Apparently not.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Update on work

Good news - we won the case. My attorney did a FABULOUS job and it was a great learning experience for me. We celebrated with a nice bottle of red (Kunde Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley 2000) and he gave me another bottle to bring back to the hotel room. I had a relaxing room service meal of tomato bisque, broccolini with hollandaise sauce, and lobster mac 'n cheese. Good stuff.

Now I am headed out into the desert to see how the Prius drives on the freeway and look for pretty sights. Looking forward to a fun day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Traffic in Las Vegas

Having driven back and forth across town for two days now, I'm pleased to report that traffic in Las Vegas has been vastly improved. The freeway construction is more complete than it was, and there is a great cross-town alternative, Desert Inn road (known locally as DI) which makes a nice swoop over the freeway and under the strip to deliver me to the hotel. Wow, so easy.

Other traffic moments in Las Vegas include the time that it took me 1 1/2 hours to drive the Strip from from the North end to the South end... the person who stopped in the left lane of Sahara and then slowly, deliberately crossed all lanes, to make a right turn on (I think) Jones... watching someone who had forgotten their drink on the top of their car turn left and the drink spilling all over the car...

Overall it is an entertaining place to drive. The layout of the city is mostly a square grid, and it's hard to get lost when you have the Strip buildings as markers. I like visiting this city even when I can't take advantage of its famous sights.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

5 nights in Las Vegas

It sounds like fun, right? But I'm here working (honest), attending a trial. Today we picked the jury - a very interesting process. It was by turns boring, confrontational, funny, embarrassing, sad, and impressive. Trial starts tomorrow and of course I can't comment on the actual case but I'll try to share a little bit of the rest of the experience. Hopefully there will be a small side-trip to somewhere naturally beautiful - haven't decided where yet. Any suggestions?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

up on the roof

up on the roof, originally uploaded by AmyEmilia.

I've spent a lot of time looking at roof damage lately... fortunately not my personal roof, but the compay that I work for has had lots of roof "issues". Here, the men are having a meeting 40 feet in the air... discussing the holes in various roofs. I didn't climb the ladder, begging off because of bad knees. Yes, it probably was a wimpy thing to do, but the older I get the less I find I have to prove to anyone.


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