Thursday, July 30, 2015

Going to be ON Long Island NOT in Long Island

Please note, one is never IN Long Island, you are always ON Long Island. And that big place at the western edge of the Long Island Rail Road, it's just The City.  And everything north of Westchester is Upstate.  The Brave Astronaut is on the road again this weekend - headed to Long Island for my 30th High School Reunion.  Go Braves!

Do you think you understand Long Island? (from ThrillList) (my comments in italics)
  1. You can buy beer anywhere that sells anything, except, quite oddly, at liquor stores (different from my life here in MD).
  2. We didn't all play lacrosse growing up, but we do all own lacrosse shorts. (I didn't and I don't own lacrosse shorts)
  3. Fire Island isn't just full of naked people, it is full of Rocket Fuel, though.
  4. Suffolk County and Nassau County are two very, very different places (Yes.  Yes they are)
  5. Our pizza (especially slice joints) and bagels are consistently better and more plentiful than those in the city. (Bagel Boss this weekend!
  6. And one fine example named Little Vincent's puts cold cheese on top of the not-cold cheese It's very insane, and very perfect. Also there's about three fights a night in that place. (I've never heard of this place)
  7. We all love Billy Joel completely un-ironically, even though he’s crashed his car into the front of most of our houses. (He's playing the Coliseum on Monday - I wonder if he'll show up to the reunion to warm up)
  8. Half of the island had to go into therapy after having their area code changed from 516 to 631 in 1999, many still consider 631 a grave mark of shame. (Their fault for being the lesser county)
  9. North Shore beaches basically suck; South Shore beaches are like real beaches, with sand and waves, and also guys walking up and down with a cooler, shouting, "Fudgie Wudgie bars!!!".
  10. All of those beaches are fantastic for drinking on, even though you’re not supposed to, especially at night. (I've never done that, really.  Truly.)
  11. Speaking of drinking, you're basically legally required to do it on the LIRR and the beer tap setups at Penn are actually totally dope these days, as long as you consider getting a 64oz, 8% ABV beer for $8 "totally dope". (Ah, the late, lamented bar car)
  12. Brooklyn and Queens are both ON LONG ISLAND but in all the ways that matter, they totally aren't. 
  13. Watson and Crick invented goddamn DNA at the Cold Spring Harbor Labs! 
  14. "Stationery stores" don't sell stationery; they sell candy and cap guns and mylar balloons and booby magazines in plastic bags. They have plenty of stationery, they just don't sell any of it. (Oscar's in Plainview - it was a rite of passage to go in there and steal something)
  15. One highway can have 15 different legitimate names and sometimes two at the exact same time -- looking at you, 106/107!
  16. Buying rims that cost more than the entire rest of your car is a totally reasonable thing to do as long as you save money for an exhaust. 
  17. Half and half is not something that goes in your coffee unless you like putting gigantic, delicious, foam-cupped Arnold Palmers in your coffee. (And coffee regular means milk and sugar)
  18. You can’t ever get lost, because if you do, you just keep driving until you hit water and then turn around, just hope you get lost going North-South. 
  19. That pile of stuff on the ground in the parking lot is invariably the innards of a Dutch Masters cigar.
  20. We wear MLB fitted hats backwards and slightly cocked to the side (though I wish we wouldn't)
  21. There’s a wine country, and it’s pretty legit. You'll have to get someone to drive you from vineyard to vineyard, but to get there, take the train and drink on the way to warm up. 
  22. Nothing else in the world is like a Long Island deli, a magical place where you can name literally anything you'd like to see on a sandwich, and it's understood that they will have it When you can get chicken cutlet with American cheese, bacon, and Russian dressing on a hero, it doesn’t really matter that their interiors haven’t been updated since the '60s. 
  23. Buttered rolls Are basically a delicacy. (I used to live on those in college)
  24. If you drive more than a mile in any direction and you haven't passed a 7-Eleven, you are no longer on Long Island.
  25. Jersey is much, much worse. Actually, everyone already did know that one.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Parmesan Zucchini Crisps

We get a box of fruits and veggies every other week delivered to the launchpad - thanks Washington Green Grocer!  Occasionally there will be zucchini in the box, which LBA likes and SoBA tolerates.  I usually will just saute the slices in a pan with some garlic and olive oil.  Then I saw this recipe - via Spoon Fork Bacon via BuzzFeed.

Parmesan Zucchini Crisps
Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 large zucchini, very thinly sliced (using a mandolin would be best) 
  • 1 ounce Parmesan 
  • 1 tablespoon finely crushed sea salt flakes 

  1. Preheat oven to 200˚F. 
  2. Line zucchini slices onto 2 baking sheets lined with parchment. 
  3. Grate parmesan evenly over slices and sprinkle with salt. 
  4. Place baking sheets in the oven and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes, depending on thickness (rotating the baking sheets halfway through). 
  5. Remove from the oven and allow crisps to cool completely. Serve.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Breakfast Patty Melt

Quite often, if we are somewhere where I can get a Patty Melt, I will order it.  If it's done really well, it's outstanding.  And, of course, we often will have breakfast for dinner at the Launchpad.  I'm not a big fan of the pancake, waffle, french toast, and will often make myself an egg sandwich.  Now I'm set with something new, from the Pioneer Woman, of course.

Breakfast Patty Melt 

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 2

  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, more if needed 
  • 1/2 whole medium Yellow Onion, sliced 
  • 1/4 pound Breakfast Sausage (Jimmy Dean, JC Potter, etc.) 
  • 2 whole Eggs, beaten 
  • 3 slices Cheddar, Swiss, Provolone, or other cheese 
  • 2 slices Bread (Sourdough, Rye, Whole Wheat, etc.) 

Heat a non-stick skillet over low heat and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Remove them to a plate and set them aside.

Form the sausage into a thin patty about the width of the bread you're using. Add it to the same skillet and increase the heat to medium. Cook the patty on both sides until fully cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel.

Pour in the beaten eggs and cook, forming them into a rough circle as they set up. Flip to finish cooking on the other side.

Assemble the patty melt: bread, cheese, patty, eggs, cheese, onions, cheese, bread. Melt the remaining butter in a clean skillet over low heat. Place the sandwich in the skillet and cook low and slow for a good 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bread is deliciously crisp. Add more butter to the skillet if the bread needs it (you don't want the bread to be dry!)

Slice in half and serve.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Have a Magical Day!

On this date sixty years ago, Disneyland opened.  At the time of the opening, the park sat on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California, and cost $17 million dollars to build.

Now that the Brave Astronaut clan is getting ready to take an honest to goodness vacation - coming soon! - Mrs. BA and I are thinking about a trip to warmer climes, specifically Florida.  Now Walt Disney World is an obvious destination - but neither Mrs. BA nor I are big fans of the Mouse.

Several years ago, we both attended a professional meeting "on campus" at the Dolphin Hotel.  Every time you got someone from the front desk on the phone, they closed the conversation with "Have a Magical Day." 

Going to Disney World would be fun and both LBA and SoBA would have a ball - though all I would really want to do is go to the Hall of Presidents.  And it requires the economy of a small country to take the family there.  One-day tickets start at $100 each!

If / When we go to Florida, we are more likely to head to Legoland.  That's just fun for everyone!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Brave Astronaut Summer Vacation Plans

I have been itching to get the Brave Astronaut Clan up to Maine for vacation for several years.  I spent nearly every summer growing up at my grandmother's house in Owl's Head and it was always a great time. We will be heading "Down East" in early August!  From BuzzFeed

24 Reasons Everyone Should See Maine Before They Die
Maine’s state motto is simply “Dirigo,” which means “I direct” in Latin. Well, if you’re into beautiful places, I direct you to go check out Maine sometime.
  1. Acadia National Park 
  2. Nubble Lighthouse - you know the Brave Astronaut has a thing for lighthouses.  This state is one of the primary reasons why.
  3. Cadillac Mountain - from its summit, you can be one of the first people in the United States to see the sunrise.
  4. Owl’s Head Lighthouse - I used to walk there from my grandmother's house.
  5. Kennebunkport, Maine 
  6. Sand Beach on the Great Head Trail - also in Acadia
  7. The Wonderland Trail in Acadia National Park
  8. Otter Cliffs - there's a lot to see in Acadia
  9. Bass Harbor Lighthouse 
  10. Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park - this is very cool.  LBA and SoBA will love it.
  11. Jordan Pond - also in Acadia, there is also a great restaurant.
  12. Pretty Marsh - a great place to picnic
  13. Deer Isle, Maine 
  14. Marshall Point Lighthouse 
  15. Old Orchard Beach - you can hang out with all the French Canadiens, who like to vacation there.
  16. Moosehead Lake 
  17. Freeport, Maine - two words, LL Bean.  And it's open 24 hours a day.
  18. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse - somewhere I have a picture of blurry rocks and surf, snapped as I slipped on the rocks and slid toward the ocean.
  19. Camden, Maine 
  20. Baxter State Park 
  21. Bethel, Maine - for the skiers among you
  22. Monhegan Island 
  23. Mount Desert Island 
  24. Ogunquit, Maine 
And of course . . . lobster (unfortunately the Maine Lobster Festival runs from July 30 to August 4 this year - ending right before we get up there).  Eat lobster at a more responsible price than what you pay for it to be shipped out of the Pine Tree State.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Rum Drink(s)

I should drink more rum.  Spotted a while back on BuzzFeed, click here for the list.  I think number 8 (below) may be my favorite. Via Supergolden Bakes

Pink Mojito
Serves 1 
  • 6 mint leaves plus extra sprigs to decorate 
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges 
  • 2 tsp sugar (simple) syrup (I used Monin) 
  • 3 raspberries 
  • 1 oz white rum 
  • 1 tbsp cherry brandy (or Chambord) 
  • tonic water to top up (or use soda water) 
  1. Muddle the mint leaves, raspberries and sugar syrup in a highball glass – try to extract as much juice and flavor as possible. 
  2. Add plenty of ice – crushed preferably. Pour the rum and cherry brandy over the ice and stir well. 
  3. Top up with tonic water, decorate with a mint sprig and serve.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The 75 Movies Every Man Should See

According to Esquire Magazine.  I did better than I thought.
  • In the Heat of the Night - "They call me MR. TIBBS!" - SEEN IT
  • Slap Shot - oh yes.  SEEN IT
  • Iron Man - haven't seen it
  • Jaws - SEEN IT, lots of times
  • Save the Tiger - haven't seen it
  • 12 Angry Men - SEEN IT
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High - SEEN IT
  • Chinatown - Forget it Jake, It's Chinatown - SEEN IT
  • The Godfather - yes, I've finally - SEEN IT
  • Fitzcarraldo - never heard of this one
  • Ghostbusters - SEEN IT
  • Glory - SEEN IT
  • Wall Street - haven't seen it
  • Runaway Train - Eric Roberts, Jon Voight, Rebecca DeMornay and I haven't seen it?
  • Rosemary's Baby - haven't seen it
  • North by Northwest - SEEN IT
  • Lone Star - haven't seen it
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - SEEN IT
  • The Conversation - haven't seen it
  • The Thin Blue Line - SEEN IT
  • Johnny Dangerously - SEEN IT
  • The French Connection - SEEN IT
  • Miller's Crossing - haven't seen it
  • The Great Escape - SEEN IT
  • Dawn of the Dead - I actually just watched the remake the other day.
  • Shaun of the Dead - haven't seen it
  • Hate - never heard of this one
  • First Blood - SEEN IT
  • Bottle Rocket - haven't seen it
  • Bad Day at Black Rock - SEEN IT
  • Tootsie - "I'm very proud of being a woman, Dr. Brewster" - SEEN IT
  • Broadcast News - SEEN IT
  • The Terminator - Ahnuld is currently the voice on my Waze - SEEN IT
  • Shakes the Clown - haven't seen it
  • Dirty Harry - SEEN IT
  • Straw Dogs - haven't seen it
  • Raging Bull - haven't seen it
  • Citizen Kane - SEEN IT
  • The Shining - SEEN IT
  • Fatal Attraction - SEEN IT
  • The Incredibles - SEEN IT
  • Blade Runner - haven't seen it
  • Sling Blade - haven't seen it
  • Giant - haven't seen it
  • Glengarry Glen Ross - SEEN IT
  • Serpico - haven't seen it
  • Down by Law - never heard of this one
  • The Searchers - haven't seen it
  • Do the Right Thing - haven't seen it
  • Gone Baby Gone - haven't seen it
  • The Big Kahuna - SEEN IT
  • M*A*S*H - SEEN IT
  • The Verdict - SEEN IT
  • The Warriors - never heard of this one
  • Alien - SEEN IT
  • Stalag 17 - SEEN IT
  • Bridge on the River Kwai - SEEN IT
  • The Misfits - haven't seen it
  • Reservoir Dogs - haven't seen it
  • The Maltese Falcon - SEEN IT
  • Dr. No - SEEN IT
  • Cool Hand Luke - SEEN IT
  • The Road Warrior - haven't seen it
  • Patton - SEEN IT
  • True Romance - haven't seen it
  • Run Silent, Run Deep - Clark Gable, a father that loved military movies, yep - SEEN IT
  • All Quiet on the Western Front - SEEN IT
  • Platoon - SEEN IT
  • Caddyshack - oh, but it looks good on you - SEEN IT
  • Hud - SEEN IT
  • Blazing Saddles - I didn't get a harrumph out of that guy - SEEN IT
  • Three Kings - haven't seen it
  • Paths of Glory - haven't seen it
  • On the Waterfront - I coulda been someone, I coulda been a contender - SEEN IT

Monday, July 6, 2015

Raspberry Fool

I'm no fool.  But I may very well be in love with the Pioneer Woman.  Don't tell Mrs. BA.  We used to have raspberry bushes in my backyard growing up.  I tried to get them to grow at the launchpad, but they didn't take.  I may have to try again.  Raspberries may very well be my most favorite fruit.  And so when you add in fresh whipped cream?  I'm done. 

Raspberry Fool
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 8

  • 3 cups Raspberries, plus a few more for serving 
  • 1/4 cup Sugar 
  • 3 Tablespoons Raspberry Liqueur (or you may just use water) - but if you've got the Chambord, use it!
  • 2 cups cold Heavy Cream 
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar 
  • 8 whole Vanilla Wafers (or other cookie)
  • Fresh Mint Sprigs, for garnish (optional)

In a bowl, stir together the raspberries, sugar, and liqueur (or water) and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Whip the cream with the powdered sugar until soft peaks form.

Mash the raspberries with a fork until all the liquid and fruit are mashed together.

Spoon half the fruit into the cream and fold once or twice with a rubber spatula; do not overmix!

Add half of the remaining fruit and fold once or twice. If you want more fruit, add the rest; if not, use remaining fruit puree as a garnish on top.

Serve in pretty glasses with crumbed cookies on top!

***Best if made right before serving.