Bolt’s Dog Tag Cake.

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Links,Pictures | Tuesday 21 April 2009 8:39 pm

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Beaver Cake.

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Links,Pictures | Thursday 9 April 2009 11:01 pm

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Hammock Away From Hammock.

Posted by DmentD | Domestica,House,Pictures | Wednesday 8 April 2009 7:50 pm

Sweets and I have been very busy these days, primarily on the weekends: working in the yard, making small improvements, doing some of the things on the long list of projects that we’ve wanted to accomplish around the house to make it more comfortable.  We’ve had almost two months worth of weekends spent in the yard, enjoying the mild weather while getting dirty and exhausted (unfortunately, not that way, you pervs).

The garden is starting to shape up as we are planting a few more things in it.  At this time there’s only about four different veggies in there, but that’s owing to the time of year, and the fact that we’re still learning how to start things from seed without killing them — most notably some of the herbs were left in the starter tray far to long, and they stayed too moist — live and learn.  Our garlic is growing like there is no tomorrow, and the peas and beans are just starting to take off and climb their poles.  Planted peanuts too, and they are growing fast!  In about a month, we’ll be able to transplant our bell pepper and jalapeño seedlings into their containers and see where that goes.

I’ve seeded/over-seeded the lawn with Argentine Bahia grass seed, but quizzically enough, it’s been too cold in the evenings for it the start germinating.  Let me repeat that:  It’s been too cold.  In central Texas.  During spring.  For grass seed to germinate.  *blink* *blink* At any rate, once the weather warms up at night, it ought to take off.

Continued work on the kitchen cabinet doors.  With Drew’s help (and his huge cache of tools) I built the new doors and assembled them, puttied all the nail holes and miter joints, sanded the living hell out of them and made them purdy, and stained and sealed them.  Currently I need to make the solid panels to install into the lower doors, and soon enough will come the glass for the top ones, then I can install everything and mark that project off the list.

Lastly, our hammock is finally usable again.  At the apartment I had it strung up on the patio, and that worked nicely.  Since we have no big trees to fasten our Yucatan-style hammock to in the back yard we opted to install a pair of 4″x6″ posts 2′ into the ground.  Well, that proved to be more challenging than I anticipated.  Welcome to Austin, where the ground is 6″ of soil, then limestone as deep as you care to go (as opposed to NOLA, where the ground is 6″ of soil then solid gray clay as deep as you care to go).  Digging that out with a standard post-hole-digger took 2 hours, a lot of sweat, left Sweets covered in dirt (as she was scooping the loose soil/stone out of the hole while laying flat on the ground), and  left my hands sore for three days — but it makes for a sturdy post!  We set the posts with concrete and let is dry for 24 hours.  They seem to be sturdy as can be.  Spent an hour the other evening under the shade of the trees, dappled sunlight playing across me, reading and listening to the bird chorus.  I was more relaxed than I had been in months.

The house is continuing to feel more and more like home, and for that matter, so is Austin.  It’s not that is hasn’t been “home”, but it’s finally seeping into my bones slowly but surely.  It doesn’t hurt that I have a wonderful girl that is making it her home along with me, and I feel like I’m getting my life back again.

Now, if we can just get Sweets a job that will be more than happy to get her a work visa, that would make things even better — that way we can stop worrying.  At least she has her externship lined up already, so that’s one less thing to lose sleep over.

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Mardi Gras Revisited.

Posted by DmentD | Friends,Pictures,Rambling,Travel | Tuesday 17 March 2009 6:33 pm

Better late than never, I am here to report that the trip back to the motherland was a whirlwind success.  Five of us (including three Mardi Gras virgins) left Austin on Friday at near midnight is a slightly cramped, but fuel efficient rental car, and landed in NOLA at 8am.  The drive was uneventful, thankfully, and I am always amused and moved by the site of the swampland as the sun rises over the Atchafalaya Basin.

We unloaded the car, and with the exception of Sweets (ever the smart and practical one) we sat around talking for a few hours rather than catching a nap before continuing with the days adventures.  Having literally about 36 hours in town, we were not going to have much time to lounge around and still do what we wanted.

We headed into “god’s country” — St. Bernard Parish — to that ever-present bastion of old world family dining, Rocky & Carlos.  Now, if you’ve never been, Rocky’s is a little dive of a restaurant that has been around since Jesus was still dining from Mary’s tit.  Italian family-style dining (and I mean both “family” and “Family”, knowhatimsayin’?   Fuhgettaboutit.), and before the flood (which was the best cleaning that place ever had), the atmosphere at Rocky’s was so special and unique that you could scrape it off the walls with a cracker.  I miss the old microwave that used to be on top of the broiler… it had a hole melted in the door from the heat, and the staff used to just reach through it, rather than open it.

Afterwards, we joined some folks for the Endymion parade.  We were right at the beginning where the bands, flambeaux and horseback riders were inserted into the parade.  It wasn’t as visceral an experience as being in the crowds downtown, but it was still a good time.  I think I take more joy from the company I’m with at parades, than the actual parades themselves… and to have three newcomers (one of which was my sweetie), and to share their joy at the strangeness of it all was worth every second on the road driving there and back.

After Endymion, we had dinner at Crescent City Brewhouse with the intention of a foray into the French Quarter, just for the sake of the thing.  Once we neared the end of the meal, the travel exhaustion caught up with us, and the adrenaline from the parade wore off, and we decided to head bedward.  Needless to say, we all slept like the dead.

The next morning we woke, nibbled on some breakfast and chatted for a bit, then headed out for some lunch at R&O’s in Bucktown.  After starting life as a pizza joint, they eventually blossomed into a fully fledged Italian restaurant, then expanded into poboys, seafood, and other local staples.  R&O’s is by far my favorite seafood/sammich shop in NOLA, with a consistently yummy seafood gumbo — and true to their eclectic form — dynamite tamales.

After lunch, we did a little shopping for local supplies not easily obtained in Austin: tasso (nobody’s even heard of it here), andouille (a nice hot, but not so hot you can’t taste anything else variety — a concept that seems to escape andouille makers everywhere but in Louisiana), Crystal hot sauce, and honest to goodness King Cakes (12 in all).  After stowing it all back with our gear at the house, we left to attend Bacchus.

Surprisingly, we managed to park about 6 blocks away from Napoleon Ave., and we hoofed it down to meet Lisa, Slinky and relations.  We were met there by Scarlett and Nightshade, and Sancho joined in as well.  A good time was had by all.  Bacchus is still my favorite downtown parade.

We retreated to our car after the parade, and made a beeline for Lola’s in hopes that they were still open for dinner.  Lola’s is a mix of Spanish/Creole cooking, and they have the best paella dishes EVAR!  If you avoid garlic, avoid Lola’s at all costs.  It’s a small place, but the food is always consistently wonderful, and any wait to be seated is well worth it.

After dinner, we gathered up our gear, groceries and selves, and got on the road back to Austin.  Again, we had a mercifully uneventful drive home.  Dropped off the rental car and we all crashed like coma victims in our respective beds.

All in all, it was a good, if short trip, and it scratched the Mardi Gras itch for another year.  Until then, I leave you with this gem.

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Snow Down A Little.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Pictures,Rambling,Reflection | Wednesday 10 December 2008 12:15 am

Ok, Son of the South be damned, snow still holds some sort of magical sway over me.  Used to be I’d see it once every 10 years or so in NOLA, and it wasn’t a very overachieving form of snow… small flakes that didn’t softly pile up on the ground, but instead elbowed the flakes below them into “almost sleet”.

Last year in Austin I was witness to a proper snow.  Big fluffy puffballs of pocket lint, gracefully and slowly poking Galileo in the eye by bringing air friction into the mix and gently moseying down to the ground to gather into downy piles.

Tonight I had the strange fortune of driving through that same sort of snow.  The temperature today started at a high of 79 degrees, and plummeted to 32 in a matter of six hours, bringing rain with it.  The rain, ever the ambitious one, moved on to become pea sized hail, then promptly lost its motivation and became rain again.  After picking Sweets up from school the hail started again, then rapidly became little soft blurs in my headlights that I realized was snow.  Big, proper fluffy snow again.  And I was driving it it.  Trying desperately to pay attention to the road because all I wanted to do was focus on the snow as it blew through the arcs of the streetlights.

Ok, so snow is no big deal… to anyone who lives outside of this temperate region of the South.  We have three and a half seasons down here, and none of them include the need for chains on tires (unless you want that extra traction for offroading).  And a snow shovel is used to pick up after the horses in the parades.

It was fun and novel, and I get to feel like a kid again making mud angels (I didn’t say it accumulated much on the ground, now did I… you just get to enjoy it floating through the air).

I leave you with a picture of our mailbox.

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Ca-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ke!

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Coolness,Pictures | Tuesday 11 November 2008 8:52 pm

New cake in the gallery… a life sized zombie emerging from the ground.  The cake is broken up into two galleries — “Construction” and “Completed Cake”, and there are a lot of pictures.

The torso is “green velvet” cake and was a nasty mossy-black green with gummy bones sprinkled between the layers for a fun texture, iced with a tissue colored buttercream. The hands are green rice treats wrapped around a copper armature, iced with the same buttercream. The head contains a white chocolate “brain pan”, filled with a sweet blood sauce, and the rest of the head is sculpted from green rice treats and iced with the buttercream as well. The teeth are cast white chocolate. The whole thing is covered in fondant, then painted appropriately.

The base is bordered with fondant stones, and the soil is made of a combination of graham crackers, ginger snaps, and chocolate cookie snacks.

Sweets and I had a hell of a lot of fun making this one, even though it was as ton of work.  It is also the first specialty cake we’ve worked on together,

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Saint Of A Cake

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Links,Pictures | Tuesday 7 October 2008 7:48 pm

New cake added to the gallery.

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Cakes, Cakes And More Cakes.

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Pictures | Monday 1 September 2008 2:05 am

Added three new cakes to the gallery.  Poolside, Sheepy, and The Sorting Hat.  Have a peek.

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Kitchen Sink.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,House,Pictures | Monday 25 August 2008 11:03 pm

So, the right side of my double sink in the kitchen was leaking a bit from round the drain flange where the drain met the sink.  No problem.  That’s just a matter of replacing the crusty plumber’s putty that’s dried out and lost it’s elasticity, causing a little leak.

Removed the giant nut that holds it on and pulled the drain out.  Pulled the nut out from under the sink, looked at what I had, and cursed every landlord that ever just “made do” with a rental property (this house was a rental before I bought it).  Have a look.

Broken Sink

The nut was cracked (and not from me removing it), and the jackasses just packed the area around the nut with plumber’s putty to stop any leaks that sprung up.  Had to schlep my way to Home Depot at eight o’clock at night and buy a whole new sink drain and nut assembly, because they don’t sell just the nut.

*mumblegrumblecurse*

Stupid fucking sink.

Broken Sink

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Sweets, Celebrity And Grilling.

Posted by DmentD | Cooking,Domestica,Links,Pictures,Rambling | Thursday 21 August 2008 5:33 pm

Hello loyal readership (and by loyal readership, I mean my near countless minions numbering in the single digits).  So, while I do not have a trip journal to entertain you with yet, I do feel like blabbering.  So, why not?

First and foremost, the HMS Sweets has docked on our shores.  Her flights — in complete defiance of common practice — were all not only on time and effortless, but even had the audacity to arrive early in some cases.  I don’t know what we did to deserve this cosmic/karmic boon, but I sure as hell won’t be forgetting to toast DeJockamo any time soon.  I threw a “Belated Happy Birthday & Welcome Home” party in her honor the day after her arrival, complete with lots of grilled animal flesh, and a cake in the shape of a sheep.  Good food, good company, and puppies galore running around and being cute as can be.  Capped off by some homemade tiramisu ice cream (my own recipe, thankyouverymuch), the day was a success.

We then spent the following week getting her settled in: opening a US bank account, a cell phone, getting a dresser, unpacking, hanging pictures (I left them down so she could help me hang them, and contribute to decorating the house and feel like it’s her place too, not just my house that she is staying at), going to her orientation at the culinary academy, birthday present clothes shopping (for Texas-heat appropriate apparel), and other such things.

It’s spooky how well and easily we’ve settled into the house together, and have established a happy routine.  Mind you, this is only the second week, but so far it’s gone well.  As different as we both are, we see eye to eye on a lot of things, especially when it comes to keeping house.  She’s spent so long trying to keep her head above water — cleaning wise — in a house with three to four other housemates, that she’s developed basically the same housekeeping philosophy it took me thirty four years to evolve.  Neither of us are OC neat freaks, but we like a tidy house… and a clean and orderly kitchen especially.  Things get put away in a timely fashion, but we shun dusting unless absolutely necessary.  We keep house in such a manner that we would never be embarrassed if company stopped by unexpectedly.  So, we seem to be domestically very compatible at this point.  Check back, gentle readers, in a year.

Sweets’ first week of school is going well for her, all three days of it so far.  They’ve covered sanitary practices and health codes, temperatures and other things.  She’s covered all this in her UK courses already, but just needs to learn the Fahrenheit temps instead of the Celsius temps.  Day one, in the first few minutes alone, she charmed the pants off of her instructor for this first three week course, simply by opening her mouth and talking — her accent made the instructor nearly swoon, and now she’s telling the other instructors to just listen to Sweets talk.  I told her before she got here, that her accent is going to be key in charming and winning people over, well before her culinary talent is called to action.  Americans are predisposed to accept a smooth, posh English accent as a sign of culture, refinement and intelligence — and I’m not saying “ha, she’s going to have everyone fooled“, because she is wickedly intelligent and charming too, but that she should use our genetic weakness to make friends and contacts in the industry as it is a fantastic foot in the door.

And I must say, I have discovered a hitherto unknown fetish for cute, bespectacled women wearing a crisp, white, double-breasted chef’s jacket.

And on to thoughts that do not involve domestic bliss.

Been reading a lot of Kevin Smith’s blog My Boring Ass Life, as well as Wil Wheaton’s blog WWdN: In Exile.  It’s oddly quite comforting to know that two pop-culture icons of my generation, two moderately successful guys who occupy the limelight, are just a coupla’ normal schmoes like me.  If you remove their fame, money and notoriety — hell, in spite of their fame, money and notoriety — they lead relatively normal human lives.  They’re geeks, have everyday insecurities, do their best to hustle up work and provide a decent life for themselves and their families, get pissed off at the drive thru when their order is wrong, and basically are human to their very core.  They’re warm, decent guys, and I have an overwhelming desire to spend a few hours just sitting around and bullshitting over a few drinks with them (and Wil, I recommend PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale).

They make my list of “celebrities” I’d like to drink with, which is composed of people who are earthy and interesting.  As a result they don’t trigger that idol-worship reflex that causes one — when in the presence of someone famous — to sweat profusely, stammer uncontrollably, say inane things and give limp, damp handshakes.  Others on that list include Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth, Douglas Adams (now a long gone chance), Chris Elliot and Bruce Campbell.  All hard working, intelligent stiffs, and not infected with a prima donna complex.

Been grilling a lot.  I’ve always liked grilling, but have had a near three year hiatus due to some blowhard bitch that killed my home in NOLA.  The staples of grilling live in my freezer — boneless skinless chicken breasts and sirloin burgers from Sam’s — but I’ve started a meat-affair with my local semi-fa-fa grocery, Central Market (think Whole Foods with only half a stick up their ass).  They offer pre-marinated fresh animal flesh of all types that walk, fly or swim.  Their chicken is divine, especially the pesto garlic marinated variety, and dear Jeebus their dry-rub seasoned fajita beef rocked my world.

Have also grilled my fair share of veggies, too, most notably corn-on-the-cob.  And while I’m a sentimental, aesthetic fool and like the notion of grilling corn in the husk, I think the best method yet is to de-husk it, brush it lightly with butter, sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper, wrap in foil and throw that on the grill over medium heat, turning it two times at five minute intervals (15 minutes total).  You still get some color on the kernels, but you preserve most all of the moisture, and the butter can seep between the kernels nicely.  Even with soaking in cold water, the husks still dry out quickly, char and catch fire.

Aaaand, that’s what I gots for now.

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