Toast this Life

HellBreak

By Dahni

© 2017, all rights reserved

Well, when all hell breaks out, within and without and it looks like this is your sign to just stay home or it’s just hell trying to keep you home WHAT, wadeeah yah do?

Cold, hot, foggy, snowy, blowy, sick and tired? Either stay and let all hell continue to beat the hell out of you or let all hell beat the hell out of itself and let it stay.

Don’t even bother sweeping the dirt under the rug, or clean and organize nuttN. Don’t make the bed 🛏 just throw the bedspread on and call it good. Shut the door to the office crapola. Turn off the lights, stuff your stuff, grab your two Ladies (your wife and your dog), don your sunglasses 🕶, flip up or down the sun visor, and/or turn on the windshield wipers and just git goN! Don’t stop 🛑 on Go to even collect your Monopoly parking money and just Gooo!!!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 🦃 Enjoy the ride! Man what a trip!! 😂

https://youtu.be/eyU3bRy2x44

Love is comforting, healing, restful, peaceful, and a warm and toasty fire 🔥 of family and Friends, waiting on you to arrive! 😃

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Categories: Family & Friends, Holidays, Inspiration, Love, Making Memories, Thanksgiving, Toast this Life, Uncategorized, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Civil Discourse

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By Dahni

© 2017, all rights reserved

Good Morning!☀️

The Story of ‘Civil Discourse’

Summer is drawing to a close, but it is NOT over just yet! One of the great things about summer is real socializing when people get together and enjoy one another’s company. If together for any length of time, this usually leads to the engagement of conversation more than just the weather, sale day finds and the results of some sporting event. We are after all, social creatures. We like to get together and have a good time. And we like to converse with others especially if we agree with them, but even more importantly, if, they agree with us! 😂

It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere 🙂

There is both a science and an art to civility, to agree to even disagree, to discuss. I call this, ‘civil discourse.’ To discourse is much more than to just converse and discuss. It is an elevation of intellect or simply put, putting our best foot (our best selves), forward, out there, for the mutual benefit of all involved.

What more of an enhancement to this end than to frame it around food 🥘 and drink! 🍹We like to eat and drink 🍹 and to be together, to hang out together and talk about things of most importance to us, things and people who really and truly matter in this life, in this wonderful, but albeit, truly short lifespan. Moments are precious and we do try or should aspire to, getting the most out of it, “milking the moment,” deeply breathing in every breath available and sucking the marrow out of every piece of meat this life has to offer; second and every moment of life we have!

There is a reason for the phrase, “Happy Hour.” As many are familiar, Happy Hour is often thought of as, starting somewhere around 5 PM. Another saying that may be familiar to you is, “That it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” 😂 I even have a photograph taken of an old clock that used to set inside a bar. All other numbers were removed and replaced with only 5’s so yes, it does show that no matter what time it is where you are, it is, 5 o’clock somewhere, meaning, it’s always time, for Happy Hour! 😊

Along with getting together, conversing, having food 🥘 and drink 🍹 and well, just having a good time, a Happy Time socially, there is also something “social” about, making and serving drinks! 🍹

I like mixing drinks 🍹and trying new things and yes, even making them up! My brother-in-law, Kevin, recently sent me a link to a website offering many different new foods 🥘 and drinks, to explore and try.

Now I am not a professional (I am neither employed or tipped as a),  bartender or mixologist, but I profess, I am certainly (if an amateur), highly enthusiastic!

In searching the aforementioned website that Kevin provided me with, there was one particular drink 🍹 which caught my attention. I knew I wanted to try it, but also, I did not have all the ingredients it called for. So, I improvised. Now, I figure that if not following their recipe, then I am making it up and I should be able to, can and I did make it up, make it my own?! So I did. In so doing, I should be allowed to name it and I did name it! I call it-— ‘Civil Discourse’ 😊

Now, before I share with you the recipe, I want to first share with you what’s in it (the ingredients), and WHY.

 

‘Civil Discourse’ (Why)

 

Bergamot 🍊- similar to combining lemon, 🍋 lime,🍋 orange, 🍊 and grapefruit, all in one fruit. It has calming and uplifting effects (it induces one to just “feel good” 😊)
Cucumber 🥒 – soothing and cooling, good for joints and the heart (a good heart ❤️)
Mint 🍃- refreshing (the herb of hospitality)
Earl Grey Tea ☕️ – considered as “posh” or upper class, but I like to think of its effects and affects, resulting in the art of civility. Black tea ☕️ a little caffeine to ‘keep you and your ‘Civil Discourse’ going’ 😂
Lime 🍋 – citrus 🍊 vitamin C refreshing and ‘sunny’ 🌞
Tito’s Vodka – smooth while not adding to or taking from the overall taste and it lessons the distinct flavor of Gin
Bombay’s Sapphire Gin – very smooth and distinct with botanical and aromatics, but it is mixed with vodka (Tito’s made in the USA 🇺🇸), to retain its characteristics and alcohol % while not overpowering the drink 🍹

It should be noted, the main ingredient to ‘Civil Discourse’ implied, recommended, and absolutely necessary is, You and I!! 🙂

‘Civil Discourse’

‘Civil Discourse’(How)

 

Ingredients:

Tito’s Vodka – 2 1/2 ounces
Bombay Sapphire Gin – 1 1/2 ounces
Fresh squeezed Lime juice – about a whole small lime or 1/2 of a large one
8-10 fresh rinsed mint leaves + 2 for garnish
3-4 slices of cucumber + 2 for garnish
3/4 ounce of fluid sugar (simple syrup)
3/4 fluid ounce of Earl Grey Tea

Preparation:

Note: It’s nice to have some simple syrup always on hand. 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Heat to dissolve. Store in refrigerator to have on hand when needed. Stores for a long time.

1. Boil about 1 ounce of water and pour into a heat-resistant container. Place 1 bag of Earl Grey tea into container and let seep for about 3 minutes. By the time it is ready, the boiling of the water, evaporation and the bag will have taken about 1/4 ounce of the water leaving, about 3/4 of an ounce of fluid tea. Remove tea bag
2. Muddle all but 2 leaves of mint and all but 2 cucumber slices with a mortar and pestle or some other means to get the most possible juice from these two items.
3. Juice from about 1 small lime or 1/2 of a large lime
4. Measure out 2 1/2 ounces of vodka
5. Measure out 1 1/2 ounces of gin
6. Pour vodka, gin, 3/4 ounce of fluid Earl Grey tea, 3/4 ounce of simple syrup, lime juice (=about 4 tablespoons), into muddled cucumber and mint
7. Add ice to a shaker
8. Pour drink mixture into shaker and shake
9. Strain mixture TWICE
10. Pour strained mixture into a highball glass, half filled with cubed ice
11. Add 1 slice of cucumber and one mint leaf to garnish

Note: This recipe yields 2 drinks. Multiply for more drinks 👍 bon appétit & Salute La Familia (salute my family) which includes: all those I get to choose as family 🙂 and strangers, folks I haven’t met yet! 🙂

And on this day, August 28, 2017, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, on August 28th, 1963, delivered from the steps of The Lincoln Memorial, in our nation’s capitol, in the presence of 200,000 + peaceful protesters and the world looking on, which led to- ‘The Civil Rights Act’, being signed into law…

…ENJOY YOUR—

‘Civil Discourse’! 😃

 

 

Cheers🍹 from: The Gathering Place,

 

Dahni

Amateur Bar Tender and Mixologist, but a Professional Enthusiast! 😂

 

Coming Soon: The Grilled Veggies’ we had with ‘Civil Discourse’

Categories: Beverages, Cooking, DREAM, Family & Friends, Food, Inspiration, Pursuit of Happiness, Recipes, Tea, The Gathering Place, Things that really matter, Toast this Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Java Joe part 2

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Java Joe

Part 2

Machina  (It.) – “the machine”

by Dahni

© 2017, all rights reserved

Good Top of the Morning to you! Time for a cuppa!

Good Top of the Morning to you! Time for a cuppa!

Today’s series begins with what the Italians call, machina, “the machine.” It takes the best mano “hand”  of the best hand to bring out the best flavor of the best beans and Joe was and the best mano (“hand”), and the best machina (“machine”), to do it.  Beans begin when what they are called, “green.” Then temperature is used to roast them to perfection. Each bean and each batch can have many variables and nuances of flavor. It takes a master; an artesian, the mano (the “hand”), to do this.  This was Joe. But there was much more and there is much more to this.

“green” (un roasted), beans

under roasted – purrrfectly’ roasted 🙂 – and over roasted (“burnt”), beans

The Original ‘Java Joe’ loved his own coffee!

One has to know what the various coffees and blends of coffees are supposed to taste like. Joe knew. And he knew all the popular nomenclature of coffee like latte, cappuccino and espresso and etc. Joe knew what they are supposed to taste like and how each are supposed to be made. I will offer proof of this as this series continues.

But Joe mostly liked expertly roasted, rightly ground and with the right equipment (machines), like brew pot and espresso machines. Remember, when he came back to Rochester and having been in Hawaii and he tasted and favored Kona, when he got back here, no one had any decent coffee. So, he decided to roast his own. He liked his own work and coffee or espresso, he drank his coffee black. He found no need or reason to screw up a good cup of coffee or espresso, by adding sugar and cream and frothy milk poured out in some fancy-schmancy artsy fartys design, which is more for show than for just plane-O good coffee. But Joe accommodated different tastes. Again, more proof about this too, as this series continues.

All in the coffee business use some type of machine, but did you know, most of the familiar, store-bought and big name coffee companies, don’t actually roast their beans, they bake them. They would say it is part of their brand’s consistency in taste and quality control. Joe would say, they just “burn” the beans. He would be reluctant to use the word roast, when the beans are all mostly baked. I came to understand exactly what he was talking about. As he taught, I learned. As I learned, my sense of smell and my palette evolved—got trained, got educated. Since Joe started, coffee (micro-roasted coffee), took off in the Rochester area. There is an area around Henrietta that as you drive by, you can smell it being cooked. It is actually being baked and I learned from Joe, to tell by the smell in the air, just like Joe said, it is being over-roasted, or as Joe often said, “burnt.” Some people might think this is just strong coffee being produced. No, it’s just coffee being burnt, just like it tastes after it sits all day on a warming plate. You who know what that tastes like, know exactly what I’m talking about! More about that later, as this series continues.

But Joe decided from the beginning, to use some other machina (“machine’), like what, I dunno, like a COFFEE ROASTER?! 🙂

Joe found and developed a unique roasting method: turn-of-the-century style coffee roaster.  This is turn-of-the-century style roasting with the highest quality beans available, to micro-roast coffee in small batches. This unique roaster enables your coffee to be expertly roasted, using a direct flame process, instead of convection ovens.  Joe was, one of the only roasters in the United States who actually roasted– not baked – coffee.  This method of roasting takes much more skill to produce – but all coffee lovers, tasters and aficionados believe, it yields, unsurpassed flavor!

Choose your figure of speech (simile or metaphor), but Joe was, “like” a machine or he “was” a machine, when it came to roasting coffee! The Master Roaster and Grandfather of Fresh Micro-Roasted Coffee: Java Joe.  In 1975, long before anyone even thought about micro roasting, Joe was in Hawaii clearing an old abandoned coffee farm with machete in hand.  He literally learned and understood coffee from the ground up. OK, that was kind of pun-ny’, but it works. 🙂

When Joe returned to his home town of Rochester, NY years later, he was way ahead of anyone in this field and the present social phenomenon, surrounding coffee.  He was amazed at the attention to detail, the time and money spent by the finest restaurants.  He was even more shocked to realize that virtually no consideration were given by these same restaurants, to the last thing a customer has to remember their dining experience there by, a cup of coffee!  Well, my friends, the visionary Java Joe enlightened many of theses chefs and owners. Today, there are not a few of the finest restaurants in this area that did not serve his coffee. And there are others that due to him, do roast their coffee. Others do roast their own coffee in this area, but not as good as the One and Only, The Original, Java Joe! To my great delight, Joe taught many his craft and his namesake still offers Joe’s coffee at, Java’s Café and many other places locally.

 

Click the image to visit their site

16 Gibbs Street, Rochester, NY

For those that are local, you can still buy a cup or bags of beans, still roasted, literally, with Joe’s machina, Joe’s “machine”! And his mano (“his hand”), is still evident, in the hands that roast coffee, the hands of those he taught and taught well!

 

 

Dahni at The Gathering Place

Next time: ‘Macinato’  (It.) – “the grind”

Categories: Art, Being Good at What You Do, Coffee, Comfort Food, Cooking, Education, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Food, Home, Inspiration, Java, Java Joe, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, Saying Goodbye, The Gathering Place, Toast this Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Java Joe part 1

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Java Joe

Part 1

Mano  (It.) – “the hand”

by Dahni

© 2017, all rights reserved

Good Top of the Morning to you! Time for a cuppa!

I have thought about writing this for months and it is because, I’ve thought about this man for months. Both his life and his passing has deeply affected me. I have much to say, much I want to tell you, much I want to share with you and yes, much I want to teach about much that he has taught me. So, it is my hope to pay my teacher, a master teacher, the respect and the credit he deserves. And it is my greatest hope as he has done for me that I can impart to you, the art and mastery of the world’s second most traded commodities, coffee!

So I begin with a series, simply called, Java Joe. And it and this series begins with, what the Italians call ‘Mano – “the hsnd.” In this sense, this hand, belonged to the man, affectionately known as, Java Joe.

Java Joe – Joseph J. Palozzi

Born February 1949

Died March 11, 2017

When you have a cup of coffee, you might think of it or call it a cup of Java or simply, a cup of Joe. Whether you realize it or not, you are paying respect, every time you have a cup, to the one and only, the original, Java Joe.

Java Joe, or a.ka. Joseph J. Palozzi and Joe Palozzi and just, Joe, was a legend. At least many of the stories surrounding his life were legendary. To be a legend in one’s time or in one’s mind, the story or stories are sometimes popularly regarded as historical, but unauthenticated. I don’t believe Joe thought of himself as legendary in his own mind, but he was to many, a legend in his own time. Even to write this, I found it very difficult to find many facts about his life, from public places. Even his obituary did not give his date and time of birth. All I could track down was the Month (February), and the year (1949), when he was born.

I had heard rumors of his passing for about 2 weeks, before I started writing this. Life being what it is, it took me awhile to track down and verify that he did indeed die, March 11th, 2017, after a long fight with lung cancer. Now you may not believe or understand this, but his death deeply saddens me because, beyond his ‘legend’ status, and all he accomplished, he was for my part, my friend.

You may not know me and Joe may never have even thought of me as his friend, but to me, for my part, he was my friend. To me, he was my teacher, a master teacher and I remain, a devoted student.

I first met Joe by way of his coffee, at a local coffe bar owned by two friends of mine, Nick and Connie Reda. They bought all their coffee from Joe. One time, I went with Nick on a trip to resupply his coffee stores. Nick introduced me to Joe.

I believe I understood who this man was, the first time I met him. His language was colored with expletives, his opinions set and to many, he may have come off as harsh and bristling. He certainly was set in his ways, but as the old adage says, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Underneath the covers of some of the most intense blue eyes I have ever seen, was the man, perhaps many never saw. I got Joe. I got him from the beginning. I might not approve of his salty language or his political opinions, but he was at least, if not a formally highly educated man, he was certainly, a highly self-educated man. You cannot separate the man from what he does. Joe did coffee. That’s who he was to me and what he did.

There have been many tributes to Joe about his legendary adventures. Some will talk of his love for music and even his once owned café, Java’s Café. Java’s Café was right in the center of downtown Rochester, NY, a mid-sized city and right next door to Eastman Theater. Eastman Theater was gifted by George Eastman of Eastman Kodak, then just Kodak. The theater was built-in quality and with culture outreach as any other larger city like, New York City. So, Rochester had something great bestowed upon it that rivaled cities many times its size. And Rochester, to this day, is home to so many incredible artists and musicians that the world have never heard of and may never will. Now it is just my opinion, but I think if you spread all of them out, all across the United States, city and town by city and town, each of them would have, could have and should have, been world renown. I could say the same thing about Joe. His name and his perfected coffee bean roasting prowess should be known all over the world. He got pretty close to that happening, but like the musicians of Rochester, for most and for Joe, it just didn’t work out. Put Joe and artists, and musicians all together in a small mid-sized city and the chances of success are reduced exponentially.  But to the locals and visitors, go to almost any pub, bar and grill that offer live music and you will be blown away at how good these artists are here! Go to many of the areas finest restaurants and you would have most likely ended your meal with a cup of the original Java Joe’s coffee. But very few, ever seem to make it out of here.

Rochester, once known as Image City had three of the top companies in the world — Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb.  So yes, there was a lot of talent here, which had offshoots of such things as the digital press (a football size printing press), that could print 10,000 + pieces, each custom designed and all in about an hour. Adobe spun out of here, the digital camera, and, why even the personal computer and many other things had their origins here. My thoughts are the area had great talent, but poor management. None of these big three are anything like they once were. Same for music here. Most musicians need good management. It seems to have been lacking here, for many things, for a long time. You could fault Joe as not being a good businessman or lacking good management skills, but like many artists and musicians here, these do not diminish, the quality of their art: of Joe’s art!

I will leave it to the legendaries to tell of how Joe came to Rochester to roast coffee, but I do know he had spent time in Italy and in Hawaii, areas known for their expertise in the art and science of roasting coffee and the other, rich in volcanic soil, where Kona grows. Now where do you suppose Joe learned about coffee? Italy and Hawaii would be my educated guess, but if it was just from books so be it. But I do know personally, that when he came back to Rochester, after he left Hawaii, he noticed a very peculiar thing. One of the last things you might recall, about a fine dining experience (in some 4 star restaurants here), would be the cup of coffee served at the end of the meal. Joe noticed it was all over roasted or burnt coffee. And we are now, talking about the birth of, micro-brewed coffee. Yes, Java Joe was its grandfather, its patron saint if you will. So, Joe finds and builds a roaster from a nineteenth century design.

A vacant spot opened up next to Eastman Theater in the heart of downtown Rochester, NY, and Joe moved in, roaster and all. He started roasting and selling whole beans in Java’s Café to the public and he roasted the coffee, for several fine dining establishments. He sold simple foods and deserts when so many patrons kept asking him to. The café had the look and feel of something like a blend of bohemia, hippies, beatniks and a more modern culture, slightly offbeat, but colorful emergence. 

Local art for sale or those pieces gifted, adorned the walls. There was a corner bay window with pillows spread about the floor. There was a piano, for any that would care to tune it and play it and there were many that did. The interior was a lot of rustic dark wood, old floors, old walls if not filled with art, were lined with advertising of some culture, art, music etc. thingy happening somewhere. And there was Joe, in the center of it all, OK-ing it all, drawing all these different people and roasting coffee.

My first visit to Java’s Café was one in which I will never forget. Musicians dressed in tuxedos carrying their instruments, business people, local dignitaries, young and old, rich and poor all stood in line and set together or near each other. Music is said to be a universal language which draw many together that may not ordinarily be together. Coffee does too. Where art, music and coffee may be subjective and uncertain, where so many make conclusions based on opinion, there is the technical side of art and music and coffee, which attest to their mastery. And behind every masterpiece, there is a master. Joe was a master!

Java’s Café was and still is a place where art and artists of the Rochester, NY area merged and converge, conversed and voice and were given and are given voice, but this tribute is for Joe’s passion and for all of that it is, coffee.

I met Joe in 2001 through another friend that used to buy coffee from Joe, for his small café, also in Rochester. I certainly have not known Joe the longest or even close to the detail and intimacy of others, but he was my friend. Me to Joe? I don’t know what Joe thought about me, but he did remember me and he always treated me with respect.

“There was a phrase heard again and again while interviewing those that knew Joe Palozzi, endearingly and enduringly known as Java Joe: “That was just Java.” Whether people were describing how he golfed barefoot — something he picked up when he lived in Hawaii — or how when he would deliver coffee to restaurants that he loved, he’d walk into the cooler, grab whatever he wanted cooked for him, be it lobster, steak, you name it, and still charge you for the coffee.”

By Katie Libby, March  29, 2017

To me, Joe summed himself up personally, in the following.

“When you taste our coffee I personally guarantee it will be the best coffee you ever tasted.”

 Java Joe

Now you would probably expect him to say this as would any other roaster about their coffee. You may think it is his opinion. And you may think that it is just my opinion,  if I agreed with him. I certainly do, agree with him and opinions are subjective and uncertain, but there is more to this statement and there is more to Java Joe than whether you or I agree with him or whether you like this coffee and I like that other coffee. 

As this series continues, despite its many variables, there is a formula for making great coffee and it is based on science, the mastery of the art and expertly executed; time-tested techniques. Joe was a master artisan! Grab a cup of Joe and I’ll see you next time.

 

Dahni at The Gathering Place

Next time: ‘Machina  (It.) – “the machine”

Categories: Art, Being Good at What You Do, Coffee, Comfort Food, Cooking, Education, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Food, Home, Inspiration, Java, Java Joe, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, Saying Goodbye, The Gathering Place, Toast this Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Tequila is My Friend

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By Dahni
© 2016, all rights reserved

Tequila as a friend? Yes! A friend not only will say what you want to hear, but they will tell you what you NEED to hear.

Margaritas

Ahh Tequila, You are a Friend of Mine 🙂

Nothing quite says summer like margaritas, freestyle, flavored, frozen or on the rocks! Tequila is my friend because, a regular margarita requires it and is part of its unique taste.

You live your life with the love of your life and you find out things about her after many years that you never knew. Tequila is my friend because, I just found out that it is my wife’s favorite drink. She had been asking me to make these for a while and the other night I made us a couple and posted on my Facebook page that it was, “Margarita 30.”

“Margarita:30,” like “Beer:30, is just a hypothetical time of day uttered in response to the question of “what time is it.” when consumption of said beverage becomes an event that is either inevitable or required to proceed with life as we know it in modern society. 🙂

Well, anyway, as I was saying, it was indeed, “Margarita:30” the other night at, The Gathering Place. I made my wife and I a couple, just as usual. A regular Margarita is pretty simple to make. It has just three ingredients: Tequila (of course), some type of orange liquor as Triple Sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier. I have used all three and Triple Sec is the least expensive followed by Cointreau and then Grand Marnier. The last two are French in origin and I do personally, prefer Grand Marnier. The kind of Tequila is a personal choice and range in complexity and cost. Whatever works for you, works. I started making these with the once most popular and nearly the only tequila (good tequila) that was available around 40 years ago, Jose Cuervo. Although not the oldest or the best by many standards, it remains the best-selling tequila in the world.

Now the purists, the old-time tequila drinkers licked some salt, bit into a lime and swallowed the tequila. A version of this was the “body shot” and required preferably three attractive women and one male. One female placed the salt at her cleavage. Another lady would have the lime in her mouth. And the last woman had the tequila in hers. If you were the guy that was the recipient of this libation, well?  🙂

Some had tequila drinking parties and contests, most likely inspired by the male-manly-silly-ego of, ‘who can drink the most?’ I was a bouncer or a stabilizer-stand-em-up guy of such a contest where the floors were completely lined with thick painter’s drop cloths. Hmmmmm? The contest had obvious ‘ringers’ of Mexican descent. No, that is not a slur, just a probability that if you were born and raised in Mexico, you just might be able to drink more tequila, than someone that is not. But, ‘The Flying Burritos Brothers Tequila Drinking Team,’ each consumed, a fifth and a half of tequila and were still on their feet. 🙂

Many were intrigued by and dared to get to and swallow the preserved worm, at the bottom of the bottle of some tequila? It was and may well still be, as if there is something magical, spiritual or that the supposed pure tequila in that worm’s guts, would make you special or something. 🙂

Too much tequila has been known to cause temporary (hopefully) nut-ness’ and there was even a song written that was quite popular. Many may still hear it played today or recall it, all too realistically. 🙂

Jose Cuervo, Shelly West, 1983, Vinyl 45 RPM

But getting back to ‘Margaritaville,’ after the proper mixing of the 3 required ingredients, for ‘The Regular,’ usually the rim of the glass is rubbed with lime and the glass is then turned upside down and pressed into a bed of coarse salt. The lime oil holds the salt onto the glass, for the ‘salted rim,’ which many find to be absolutely, a requirement for a real, true, authentic margarita. Prior to serving, the beverage is mixed with ice and pulverized in a blender or ice crusher, to make frozen margaritas. Otherwise, you would place ice cubes (as much as you like) or crushed ice in the glass, then pour the fresh margarita over the ice and Walla — instant summertime (beach not included). 🙂

I had not been able to drink even a 1/3 of my drink, when I suddenly had a horrible headache. I thought maybe it was that the Triple Sec was old so, I left my happy wife to drink hers and the rest of mine, while I tried to make another with Grand Marnier. Ooops, ran out of lime so, I had to use Rose’s lime juice and some of that lime juice concentrate from you know, that lime-looking, plastic squeeze bottle. It did not taste the same as a regular margarita without the fresh lime juice and after a swallow, my headache continued to get worse. Pffft. It is one of my favorite drinks too. But my poor happy honey was soon wasted away, in Margaritaville. 🙂

Margaritaville

Just so it is perfectly clear, we only drink moderately and modestly. We don’t NOT wear clothes, don’t shoot out lights, dance on bar tops, start fights or wake up with partners we have no idea who they are and we’re NOT wearing their shirts. To be clear, clear, we just wake up with each other, NO other bodies next to us, known or unknown! 🙂

Back to tequila.

I remembered that this tequila was newly tried last year and last year, it did the same thing to me. Last year it gave me a horrible headache too. Hmmm, I wondered, perhaps I can just no longer tolerate tequila? OH HOW SAD THAT WOULD BE! 😦

But then again, maybe it’s this PARTICULAR brand of tequila? HOPING SO!

The next day, I went to the liquor store to buy another bottle of tequila, the same brand we had used, for several years previously. But before I made my purchase, I just happened to ask the owner if he had ever heard of anyone else having a reaction to tequila or from the brand I had last purchased from him a year ago that he had personally recommended? “No,” was his quick answer, but it was followed with a “But.” But before I get to that, let’s go back in time.

My first introduction to wine was red wine and it was from France, a Beaujolais. I am told, this is still an excellent ‘first wine’ to introduce people to red wine, due to it’s low tannins and its light body. I loved it and went on to drink many different red wines, which I prefer over white. But something happened to me years ago. Red wines I loved, did not seem to like me anymore. I never even spent much time on WHY, I just tried to find some white wines that we would each other get along with.  🙂

Oh, I could still drink my red, but only a glass if with food for dinner, just NOT sadly, for ‘Happy Hour.’ When I moved to NY, where we live now, near the Finger Lakes Region of Western NY, yes, there is much more to NY than just New York City, NY, I started to wonder again. I decided my lack of tolerating red wine was due to the added sulfites to the wines, for commercial sale. All wines have some sulfites by nature and reds have more, but there seems even more are added, when mass distribution exists? I was excited to test this out, on one of our wine tour trips to a winery in particular that was, small-batch and organic. To my chagrin, the wine was horrible, so I was not able to see if my theory could “hold water” or wine. 🙂

Around three years ago, we moved to the country. We can now almost roll down the hill to a winery, owned by folks that have become dear friends. They have a wine produced and bottled by them, which is not only wonderful and red, but the first red wine, I have been able to drink just for Happy Hour, in over 30 years I’m guessing! WOW, was I happy to be able to drink a red wine again! My only problem is, if they ever run out, which is the situation currently. I could be in trouble. They probably will not have this ready for several more months. I do still have a few left in our basement, so I am not concerned, at least not yet. But, for the most part, I have, for three years, just thought that their red does not have as many sulfites, so I am able to drink it. I think now, I may be wrong about this.

I have consumed scotch in some form for over 40 years. It is not an alcoholic beverage that seems to have a middle ground. People either like it or they don’t, both with perhaps equal passion for or against. I personally had to learn to like it. It started with a beverage that someone I greatly admired enjoyed, called, Drambuie. It is Scottish in its origin and is a sweet liquor with a Scotch base. The name means, “the drink that satisfies.” I liked it. From there, I started drinking, ‘Rusty Nails’ which was, Drambuie with some scotch added. Then I moved to Chivas Regal which is, a blended scotch and this was a particular drink of choice of mine, for many years. I wrote “particular” because, for me, I discovered that if I was going to be out all night drinking (in my youth), I could drink just scotch all night long and never get drunk/inebriated/intoxicated and NEVER have a hangover. My only side-effect if you will, seemed like my skin smelled like an oak barrel, for quite some time until, all the remnants were no longing coming out my pores. 🙂

It was only when I met my wife that she introduced me to single malt scotch. Yes, my wife is a scotch drinker and I have never met another woman in my life that likes scotch. So, this is pretty cool to me! My first single malt is, still her favorite, Glenlivet. Mine later became, Macallan. We keep both as well as, a pretty good assortment of scotches, at The Gathering Place. I used to drink scotch on the rocks. It was my wife’s brother Kevin that taught me the ways of drinking scotch more perfectly.  🙂

Most scotch is bottled and sold at around the four-year old mark. The longer the aging, the higher the demand and price, but less water is left. 8-year-old and older scotch is like drinking finely aged wine with its complex nose, bouquet, start, finish and its subtle tastes. Adding a drop or a few drops ONLY of water, completely transforms the experience and ice just totally waters this down and robs me of the experience. So, for several years now, this is the only way I would drink scotch.

Now if you think I’m a long way away from what the liquor store owner said to me about tequila, and even further from Margaritaville (margaritas) and tequila being my friend, hold on, I’m getting there, it’s all important!

For years, my wife and I would occasionally share a scotch together and the same scotch, her Glenlivet, UNTIL I discovered Macallan. We would still have our scotches together (she her’s and I mine), once in a while. After her bother Kevin, showed me how to properly drink it, I have learned to love drinking it this way. My wife still prefers hers on the rocks and I, with just a drop or a few drops of water. And this does NOT matter what time of the year it is either. Perhaps by this time, you may have discovered what I discovered is, a taste for more expensive single malt scotches. I have had 18-year-old which were from drinks purchased for me by a friend. But my cut-off is, 12-year-old. It’s expensive enough and I really don’t want to get use to anything that might be better and even more expensive. But I also discovered something else. Since I do not drink scotch, I SIP IT and slowly, to maximize the experience and to make it take as long as is possible, we could actually afford more expensive scotch, since we do not drink it like water or need to buy it as often.

Something else happened to me years ago. I learned to enjoy fine cigars. But something was missing— other people. Yes, I was a conversation only, social cigar smoker. I would really never smoke alone. In my mind, a good quality cigar was a social thing, for conversation. I even started having what I called, Cigar-tys. I would have people over and most of the time, I provided the cigars and the beverages. I loved these! And since they were not frequent, I could afford better cigars. It was a win-win for me. Then, I started associating sipping 12-year-old single malt scotch, with fine cigars and conversation. Then, religion interfered. It wasn’t disagreeable politics, but religion. Rather than just agree to disagree, one stormed off and did not speak with me again for a long time. Thankfully, it was not permanent, but this ended my beloved cigar-tys! I would still have a scotch now and then with my wife, but rarely smoked another cigar, for some time.

I knew my brother smoked cigars, but found out he too, not only liked scotch, but my favorite as well. Then he and I got together with our wives, for a week at a cabin in the Ozarks. As far as he and I were concerned, we could have just stayed on the screened-in porch, had conversation, listened to the creek that ran just underneath, watched nature, smoked cigars and drank scotch all week-long! But our ladies had other things in mind so, we did do other things.  🙂

But ever since that time, just a few years ago, I can no longer drink scotch without a cigar and someone to share good conversation with.

Thankfully, I made a new friend a few years ago, that stops by every-now-and-again and we share a scotch and a cigar and good conversation. But last year I noticed, I was not tolerating scotch too well when he was here. I didn’t think too much of it until a few weeks ago, when he was last here. I poured him a scotch, but not one for myself. I just did not want to take a chance. We shared a cigar and great conversation, but I noticed, I wasn’t handling the cigar too well. Then, I got a little angry about that and after he left and to soothe myself somewhat, I poured myself a scotch. Same as last year, I just didn’t feel right. What was going on was soon forgotten. I would not have to think about it again until my friend or someone came by that liked conversation, a good cigar and some great scotch.

So, now finally, we get back to the liquor store owner. This just happened yesterday or one day before I wrote this post. Remember, I went to buy some tequila, like we used to have on hand, before last year.

Tequila

Two different Tequila brands— amber and clear

The amber-colored tequila on the left in the picture above is the one I have reacted to, twice now. The silver or clear one on the right is the one we used to use, for several years previously and the one I purchased yesterday. Remember, before I made my purchase, I asked the owner if he ever heard of anyone reacting to one or both types of tequila? After he said, “No,” he went on to say, “…but what you are describing to me sounds like you might have celiac disease.” He informed me that the only reason he knew anything about this was because his wife was having some issues with cancer and was referred to a gastrointestinal specialist. After proper testing, his diagnosis was that she did indeed, have celiac disease.

I have never heard of this disease before. Now, before you or I freak out with that dreaded word “cancer,” let’s not jump to conclusions. Celiac disease can happen at a young age or at any age and can vary with symptoms per individual and/or be gradual over the years. There is a test, for this and rest assured, I will be bringing this up with my doctor at a regular scheduled visit, in the next couple of weeks. But most often the disease is usually associated with the body developing antigens, for things it believes do not belong in the body of the individual as, me perhaps? It is usually associated with not tolerating gluten from wheat, rye and barley.

To my knowledge, I don’t seem to have any issue with rye or barley. I often feel uncomfortable after eating granola and sandwiches etc from whole wheat or gluten rich foods. There is a nine grain bread we have been buying for some time, which I love and gives me no problems. Pizza does not. But too much of anything would bother anyone eventually, but I try not to do that. Ice cream does not (especially Ben & Jerry’s). Yes, some ice cream contains gluten.Pie crust does not bother me. So, over the years, I have become aware of these things and have limited or weaned myself from those things which do bother me.

OK, so what has this to do with wine, scotch, cigars and at least one brand of tequila? In a word, wood. To be more specific, oak. All of these things can be aged, cured or stored in oak and as cigars, in a humidor made with oak. So yes, celiac disease can be triggered by oak and even some plastics (not that I eat plastic). The skin can absorb plastic and it can be inhaled in sufficient amounts to irritate those with celiac disease. OK, do I have this? I don’t know and won’t, before I am tested and properly diagnosed by my physician, within the next couple of weeks. But do I have any possible proof?

The liquor store owner told me that both tequilas are fermented in stainless steel tanks. But the amber-colored one is then aged to produce what some believe is a smoother tequila with the characteristic amber color. Would you like to know how it gets that color and whatever else becomes a part of the finished product? Well, it’s OAK! OK, now what?

I bought the new silver tequila untouched by OAK. I made us another pitcher of margaritas with it and slowly tasted and waited. Nothing happened. I had no reaction at all. I drank two and still, nothing. Nothing but pure delight that I could drink one of my favorite drinks again! So, tequila is my friend!

A friend tells you what you want to hear. Yay, I can still drink tequila (un-oaked) and continue to enjoy margaritas.

A friend tells you what you may not like, but need to know. I may or may not have Celiac disease. But now, I know it’s a possibility and what to do about it – check with my Doctor and take the test for this and just avoid things that may cause me discomfort.

And you Dear reader, tequila may be your friend too? If you have similar experiences as I have, check with your doctor. But rest assured, if you’ve no issue with any of these things, we will keep the stuff you like, for whenever you stop by, The Gathering Place! 🙂

Categories: Beverages, Celiac Disease, Health, Inspiration, Tequila, The Gathering Place, Toast this Life, Uncategorized, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

How Was Your December

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How was your December? We just got home yesterday on December 30th. After unloading the car, and putting most everything away, some laundry, checking in with family that we safely made it home, catching up on the mail and news and some dinner and a great amount of joyful reflection, we realized that there are many whose lives living or lost, have not had the same joyful December as we have been blessed with. And I feel their woes and pains, truly I do. But isn’t this an apropos time to share some good news? I believe so!

This true life story began with just a bunch of notes.

Just a bunch of notes in a jar presented to the new Mommy 12/25/15

Just a bunch of notes in a jar presented to the new Mommy 12/25/15

Just a jar of nine months of notes in Joshua's room

Just a jar of nine months of notes in Joshua’s room

For us, December has been fraught with birthdays, announcements of coming births, a new born little bundle of miracles from eight years of trying, meeting new family, making new friends, celebrating Christmas with family with before mentioned new baby boy, enjoying culinary delights made possible by many participates, enjoyable and safe travel with conditions made perfect by the unusual warm December and even passing by the World Headquarters of Duct Tape! 🙂

Duct Tape World Headquarters, near Cleveland, OH

Duct Tape World Headquarters, near Cleveland, OH

Scatter2

What is more cooler and useful than duct tape except, for one this large? LOL 🙂

For 40+ years, I have been cooking and particularly, holidays meals such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. For the very first time (this past Thanksgiving) was I able to not only enjoy the cooking, but to actually enjoy the service that I always seek to serve others. For years, I have forewarned and warned others, NOT to come into the kitchen or even speak to me while I am cooking, less I bite your freaking head off! At a meal prior to Thanksgiving, I tried something new. I played some low volume classical music in the background while I cooked, hoping it might take off the edge. It worked, but I didn’t know why at the time.

Having some success, I hoped this was no fluke and I wanted to repeat the classical music thing at Thanksgiving. By then I understood why. When we were growing up, us, three chil-ren, listened to what our parents liked, Big Band, Swing, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis and so, but certainly NOT classical music. However, coming home from school and after homework and chores of course, we were allowed to watch cartoons in the afternoon and on Saturday mornings. From Walt Disney, Hana Barbera, Walter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker), Warner Brothers and everything else, they all used classical music.

When I grew up, I knew nothing about this music or who wrote it, but when the music played, I sure recognized the tunes from the cartoons. So, in my adult mind, I equated happy times as a child and when the music played, my little old heart just thumped and fluttered happily while cooking! 🙂
Besides the music, there were two more things never done before, I started the actual cooking. I cooked the dressings or stuffing the day before and my wife had beautifully set the table, the night before, Thanksgiving. I was organized; everything was set. The results? Not only did everyone enjoy the food and the fellowship, so did I! I was determined that this would be my new normal and it would be repeated at Christmas! It was, but with another first.

Our Christmas dinner was actually on the 26th. I started out a little tense because, we had to open stockings and presents before the table could be set. The table would be in the living room. The dining room was used for delicious breakfast cinnamon rolls and scones and mimosas, all lovingly prepared by others. I had the low classical music playing in the kitchen as I prepared the turkey and got it in the oven, set and ready to check again in ninety minutes. I made coffee and eggnog lattes, before my cappuccino/espresso machine literally blew up. No one was hurt and no damage was done and no one other than myself and my wife knew. We heated the eggnog in the microwave and I made espresso in the brew coffeepot. No one knew and they still loved the results.

So, after breakfast, stockings and presents, the kitchen and dining room were mine. Our host and hostess reminded everyone that there was “a force field” around the kitchen and to not go in. The word was out, don’t come into the kitchen and talk to me. The first person I allowed in was my bother-in-law Lenny, the husband of my sister. I wrote “allowed,” but better words would be, ‘OK with,’ as I don’t think he would have accepted NO as a response from me. 🙂

But Lenny became the de facto kitchen manager, keeping everything clean and organized, even though I told him I clean as I go. He just smiled and kept doing his thing. I had only two choices, to freak out or just accept his help graciously. He later carved not the one turkey, but both, yes, two turkeys. I wanted everyone to have leftovers. The next day there were leftovers. Then our sister made incredible soup. Yesterday, she made Shepherds pie with all that was left. This all as she wrote was, the turkeys’, “delicious history.”

The first of 2 turkeys, the beginning of its "delicious history"

The first of 2 turkeys, the beginning of its “delicious history”

A couple of people came around the corner and asked if they could help me do anything. I kept my peace and politely said no. Then they proceeded to just have a conversation in the kitchen while I was cooking. I had to laugh because, I was totally OK with this. Then I discovered, I was not playing the music in the background. Still, I was OK. Later, I found out that one of the ladies that had asked me if she could help, has great difficulty in staying out of the kitchen because, she loves to cook too.

Say what? Tree people in my kitchen away from kitchen? :)

Say what? Three people in my kitchen away from kitchen? 🙂

I gathered everyone in the living room and made an announcement. It was something new to me and I was going to give it a try. I asked anyone that wanted to help, to help me!!! OMG was this a big deal to me, huge! It’s not so much that I was a control freak, but I suppose I was. Everything has to look good, be hot and served at the same time. It has to smell good, taste good, rekindle fond memories and promote good conversation before during and after. There is a reason for everything I try to do. It’s a lot of work and I take it seriously. So, instead of doing everything myself as I’ve done for years, now I was going to allows others in. How was I going to pull this off?

I have everything any chef in the world has, except for the paper, the certificate from a culinary institute. I am confident in my ability. I have cooked and prepared this menu countless times for countless people and have perfected my own recipes as much as a perfectly imperfect being can perfect anything. Still, I brought my own notebook of my recipes. I had previewed this not-my-kitchen and knew where everything was. I was set and nothing was left to chance. I was prepared, for any unforeseen thing.

I am not about praise! I am results oriented and happy to be in the background, to work behind the scenes and to SERVE and spatter joy! But others wanted to do the same thing. I just wasn’t until this moment sure, who would be found in the kitchen, Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? Well, I opened the front door and kicked Mr. Hyde in the rear and out, never to return again! No matter how great the conductor, it’s all about the music. One can conduct all day long, but people want to see the musicians play and hear the music swell. Other people wanted to spatter joy too!

Our Table

Our Table – Japanese theme plates, Christmas Tree folded napkins, Chrisitmas Tree butter pats and even a nice warm crackling fire on TV in the background 🙂

Christmas tree napkin folding was done by my wife Susan and Quin, the mother of the husband of my niece. My sister peeled and mashed and made the potatoes. Others set out the pre-made Christmas Tree pats of butter I made and brought and they set and decorated the table.
Everything was being taken care of, lovingly, graciously and happily! As I watched, there was no classical music playing. I was watching a beautiful symphony played out on their faces and by their hands of service and all before my ears. And the finale?

Comments from those that did not like turkey was, “I loved it” and “it was good.” A comment from one that did not like dressing or stuffing was, “I loved it.” Other comments were, “the Best Christmas Ever!” For myself personally, this was the best meal I have ever HELPED to prepare and have so thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish! This is HOW to cook! Spatter Joy!

Though I have tried to source the following quote and I believe its origin was Ralph Waldo Emerson, I have not been able to corroborate it. But it fits here.

“A true man (or woman) is absolutely confident in their own inspiration (or ability).”

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Now, I have not only permanently kicked out Mr. Hyde from my kitchen, and now understand, not only the science and art of cooking, but the heart. Now, I can honestly teach others not only how to cook 5 star culinary delights— anyplace and at anytime, but NOW, I can show HOW it can all be enjoyed from start to finish! I highly recommend a movie we watched in Ohio, ‘The 100 Foot Journey’

How was your December? Mine was just getting started! The draw of the figurative centerpiece of all the festivities was a brand new baby boy, born on December 19th, 2015. He could have been born on the 18th, but that date remains the birthday of one of our sons. And he could have been born on his due date of the 29th, but that date remains our brother’s birthday. So each have their day and were born precisely, right on time. But this brand new little baby boy, named Joshua, is the first and only Great Nephew to my brother and I. He is our sister’s first and only grandson and grandchild. Babies draw people together.

Proud papa and baby Joshua in his camo outfit

Proud papa and baby Joshua in his camo outfit

My sister and her husband came from Raleigh, NC. My wife and I came from NY. My brother and his wife came from IL. We three all, came to Ohio and at different times of arrival. That’s a big deal. There were long drive times, costs and other matters involved for all of us to get there and I for one, am deeply appreciative and will forever appreciate their efforts! For myself, I only could get in three hours of sleep before we made the (2nd) 7 hour trip to Ohio. One has to stay awake somehow! Well, I am a mischief magnet, TRE (a Target Rich Environment), a silly man, an Unky (uncle), a Gunky (great uncle) and probably only about, fo-yeer-ohd (four years old). 🙂

Chef Dah-nay from Paris/Macedon, NY in his Red silicone spill-stopper beret :)

Chef Donnie-nay from Paris 🙂 OK, Macedon, NY, in his Red silicone spill-stopper beret 🙂

Me and My Minion

Me and My Minion

My Minion from Joshua

My Minion from Joshua

My parking ticket in this life has been validated and acknowledged, revealing in a comment, “the secret to my success.” A single image and a quote confirms this—

Silliness

And just so you do not misunderstand, it is confirmed again by a single video—

Dancing with Dahni

If it’s still not clear, try this—

“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, but there’s more, much more. And if you think this is about me, or my family or December or the holidays, keep reading my friend, KEEP READING!

On December 29th, 2015, we took my brother and his wife out to dinner and our family treated them, to celebrate his birthday.

From left to right Baby Joshua, Daddy Larry, Mommy Sierra Lee, Nanny Grandmother Carol Lee, Popi Grandfather Lenny, Susan Great Aunt, Donnie Great Uncle, Susan Great Aunt and sitting on the floor, brother Richard Great Uncle and birthday boy

From left to right:
Baby Joshua, Daddy Larry, Mommy Sierra Lee, Nanny Grandmother Carol Lee, Popi Grandfather Lenny, Susan Great Aunt, Donnie Great Uncle, Susan Great Aunt and sitting on the floor, brother Richard, Great Uncle and birthday boy. 🙂

All these many events culminated with something that has not occurred in some thirty+ years around the holidays. Our brother, and sister and I were all together, TOGETHER!

Richard, Carol Lee and Donnie

Richard, Carol Lee and Donnie

The craziness, silliness and love and heart remains after all these years and though the time was short, it was FULL and it was as if, we never missed a single beat.

So, as this month and this year comes to a close, I will raise a glass to our grandparents, Lilian & Stanley, Papa & Nanny, all our ancestors before them and to our parents Calvin and Jean, from which all those we have been touched by and whose lives we touch, has been made possible!

And this is the purpose of the Gathering Place. Though it is our home, we were not here, we were in Ohio. The Gathering place is not just a place, it is a heartbeat, where ever and with whomever it may beat. Though many could not be there with us and many had not the same kind of December or year as we have and many suffer, this is how life is supposed to be, should be and for us, it was, it really, really was this way! So, much has spilled over, into so many, many lives.

So, to you for the new year and forever, SPATTER JOY!

Scatter12

 

Dahni

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Categories: Birthday, Cooking, Family & Friends, Food, Holidays, Inspiration, Life, Live Laugh Love, Love, New Year's Day, New Year's Eve, Spatter Joy, The 100 Foot Journey, The Gathering Place, Things that really matter, Toast this Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

A Toast to Life

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By Dahni
© 2015, all rights reserved

 

A Toast to you on St. Patty’s Day:

May your every need, be ever met
And your heart, always full
And all the best that’s yet to come,
May it be your crowning jewel
May love and hope ever find you,
sharing these two, with all you meet
And this, ever circling
will never find complete!

The Gathering Place

Your Friends and family on the road of Life

Toast Life

 

 

Categories: Holidays, Inspiration, Irish, Irish Music, Life, Live Laugh Love, Love, Music, Poetry, Spring, St. Patrick's Day, The Gathering Place, Toast this Life, videos, Visual Poetry, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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