Monthly Archives: April 2023

Spring Ain’t Sprung…

Technically Spring started 28 days ago on March 20th. In the last week here in Mount Peculiar, Ohio, officially known as Montpelier, the temps actually touched 80F and trees and bushes changed overnight…

But Old Man Winter’s reluctant to give up his hold, and yesterday we got THIS…


The last time I touched the sky dandruff was in 1991 over in Golfe Juan, France, a bit east of Cannes…

It’s absolutely crazy here in Mount Peculiar. It’s 41F right now just before Noon, and supposed to, perhaps, get up to 50F. Thursday’s high, the Sayers sooth, is supposed to be around 80F and then 43F on Sunday with a low of 28F.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mount Peculiar, Ohio (Where Mayberry collides with the Twilight Zone)

Okay, so it’s REALLY Montpelier but it is a peculiar place.When I got to this village plunked down in the middle of miles of cornfield stubble a couple of weeks ago, everything was stark and gnarly. Only a few fir trees showed any green. Visual shock from being in The Swamp on the Saint Johns River in Central Florida. But it seems that nearly overnight things have burst into life again. Some trees with pink and white flowers. Splashes of bright yellow for forsythia. A robin hopping on a lawn. Can’t remember how many years, decades even, since I’ve seen one of those. 

I’m staying at the home of a friend I first met down in Panama and again when I dropped anchor in Bradenton Beach, FL. 

I thought the place where I grew up, Orleans, Cape Cod, was eadly dull, but Mount Peculiar has it beat. The only place in town to get a burger at night, other than Mc Do Doo’s at the edge of town, closes their kitchen at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night! 

I need to exercise more witht the COPD and it wasn’t easy to do that in The Swamp. 

Since I’m going to stick around here at least until after hurricane season is over down below (too old to face another one like Hurricane Ian and four feet of flood water) I purchased one of those blasted rolling walkers.

hated the idea of getting one, It’s an admission that at nearly 81 I’m becoming old and infirm. That SUCKS!! And I really hated those stupid hand brakes. Like you’re gonna have a runaway walker and need brakes? With the COPD I really need to exercise more. Walking unaided is a real chore when your lung capacity is less than 20%. But I found that when I was grocery shopping and using a cart for support I could walk well without getting winded. I though perhaps if I overcame my loathing of those handbrakes I might be able to exercise better. I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to try one out and I was right. Walking with it was easier. So I went out the very next morning and bought one. 

I’ve done several walks of a mile and I won’t lie, I rested several times in the process. My goal isn’t to walk a couple of miles at a time, but to walk that mile with fewer and few rest stops as I get deeper into the regimen. There are small town things I’m enjoying. Like on the walks people driving by give a little wave even though they don’t know me. But they must figure if I’m out walking and pushing the rollator I must be local and all locals get waves. Mostly the two fingers off the steering wheel acknowledgement you exist and a recognized. 

I have to admit that I’ve changed my mind about the brakes. Oh, I still think they look stupid, but as I’m walking and getting out of breath it’s nice to put them in locking mode and sit on the built-in seat and just be “in the moment” where I’ve stopped.

Here are some of the sights I’ve seen in strolling around Mount Peculiar

Pumps are apparently a thing in Mount Peculiar

There will be more pics coming as I roam around different areas.

Comments Off on Mount Peculiar, Ohio (Where Mayberry collides with the Twilight Zone)

Filed under Uncategorized

Hot Stuff

I’m a born and bred Yankee all the way back to the 1630s. Both sides of the family. My mom used to say, ‘We didn’t come over on the Mayflower but we knew people who did. (Her family arrived in 1635 and my dad’s preceded them by five years.)

My dad was a chef and people of a certain age know that he and my brother Jeff produced what were unarguably THE MOST DELICIOUS fried clams and onions in the universe at Philbrick’s Snack Shack on Nauset Beach in Orleans, Cape Cod, for 35 years.

At home my mom and dad both cooked. It would be like a ballet in the kitchen as they maneuvered around each other to produce the most wonderful meals. There were so many times we’d have a supper that was so delicious we’d ask, “Can we have this again?”

My dad would say, “No. We can have something LIKE this again, but we can’t have THIS again. That’s because in the process of putting the meal together a little of ‘this’ and a dash of ‘that’ went into it and nothing was written down, so it would have been impossible to recreate it.

Mom and dad had different approaches to cooking. My mom was a “measurer.” The ingredients in a dish were generally precise…A result of having attended the Fanny Farmer Cooking School in Boston. There was a battered Fanny Farmer Cookbook in our kitchen and she rarely deviated from the recipe as written.. She also loved to bake and you have to be precise when you bake. It is, chemistry, after all. There is no room for improvisation. When my folks ran Philbrick’s Catering Service in Watertown, Mass., before we moved to Orleans full time, my mom baked all the Parker House rolls. Bread baking…what a wonderful smell to come home to after school.

Dad, on the other hand, pretty much added ingredients and put stuff together as inspiration hit. When he measured salt, for instance he’d pour it into the cupped palm of his hand. I mentioned this to mom once and she said if a recipe called for a teaspoon of salt “I guarantee that if you measured what he poured into his hand it would be within a grain or two of a teaspoon.”

In spite of centuries of New England cooking in my DNA I LOVE southern hot sauces. I like adding a dash or a splash to a lot of the things I cook. Some things, though, just aren’t made for hot sauce. Like NewEngland clam chowder for instance. Anyone doing that should be shot instantly and without warning.

A basic hot sauce is simply cayenne peppers in vinegar and salt. That’s the rock bottom recipe but the “brewing” process produces different, subtle taste variations…And there are certain hot sauces that are necessary for certain dishes.

For example, you CAN’T make a decent Bloody Mary with anything other than Tabasco. Using, say, Texas Pete’s, and it JUST WON’T taste like a Bloody Mary.

For me, there’s another food-specific hot sauce…Crystal. It is amazing on popcorn in lieu of butter. People initially react with an “ewwwww” when I tell them that, but they quickly become addicted to it. Crystal is also the perfect condiment for red beans and rice. Most restaurants in New Orleans have a bottle of Crystal at the table. The ingredients are the same as Tabasco but the flavor and intensity of the the heat factor are different,

When I was offered the job in France I brought along a couple of large bottles of Crystal hot sauce not wanting to be without the stuff for my popcorn. I was gobsmacked the first time I went on a shopping trip to Carrefour where the ONLY hot sauces on the shelf were Tabasco and Crystal!

Similar sauces to the above named include: El Pato (The Duck) from Mexico, Louisiana Hot Sauce, from USA, Texas Pete from North Carolina, USA, Trappey’s made in Louisiana, USA.

Many others, like the popular Cholula, and Frank’s, to name just two, add things like tomato paste, onions, garlic powder and other ingredients to the mix. A good number substitute habanero peppers for the small, red cayenne of the other hot sauces. All have their own niche, I guess, depending on sales distribution

I’ve been to Walmart, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar stores up here in northwest Ohio near the Michigan and Indiana borders and NO ONE has Crystal. I’m going to have to order some online because popcorn just AIN’T RIGHT without it.

In 1992, while anchored off of Caye Caulker, Belize, on the edge of the second longest coral barrier reef in the world I discovered Melinda’s hot sauce. Five of the six lunches I had there were at the house of a woman who would set up four card tables on her front porch and serve up the best lobster tostadas in the entire known world. These were made by taking a tostada tortilla and smearing refried black beans over one as a base. Then came some shredded lettuce and chopped tomato, and some onion. This was topped with a health dollop of freshly caught, local lobster salad. Some grated cheese was scattered on top of it all. She sold these for $2 Belize or $1 US. Two of those along with a bottle of ice cold Belikin Beer made a lunch for $5 with a few pennies left over. Sitting on each table was a bottle of Melinda’s hot sauce. While Melinda’s comes in a variety variations this was the basic sauce made with a blend of fresh carrots, onions, garlic, and a hint of lime juice with the Habanero peppers. Really hot but,YUM !!!

I’m also quite fond of using Sriracha when cooking chicken wings.

I don’t know if it’s the DEFINITIVE list but the Wikipedia list is a good overview of hot sauces one can find around the U.S,

Comments Off on Hot Stuff

Filed under Uncategorized