Fiddling in the Kitchen While Rome Burns

We’re having friends over for dinner tonight, my excuse to make braised beef short ribs, which we haven’t had in literally years. I don’t know about where you live, but here we rarely find beef short ribs in the grocery store or base commissary. We get ours at the local butcher shop, where they cut them to the right length for us.

My recipe involves cooking them for 11 hours at a very low temperature, 200°F. Since that means they’ll be in the oven all day today, I did the prep work yesterday, browning the ribs and making the wine & beef stock sauce to braise them with. I got up at oh-dark-thirty this morning to pour the sauce over the ribs and get them in the oven at 6 AM. They’ll be done at 5 PM, about an hour before our friends arrive. Donna’s going to make a nice salad to start us off, and I plan to serve the ribs with fingerling potatoes and green beans.

That’s not all: Donna made flan, part of which she prepared last night after dinner, then got up at 3 AM to finish and put in the fridge to chill. Nothing’s too good for our friends!

That huge heat wave we had several days ago? It broke for like two days, dropping from daytime highs of 118°F to 105°F (never thought I’d wish for 105°, but you can really tell the difference), then came right back. Today’s high will be 110°. Our dining room’s at the hot end of the house, and I think I might have to go to the corner Ace Hardware for one of those tower fans.

And of course there’s the house to clean, so we won’t shower up until that’s done. After tonight’s dinner our social obligation card is blank and we can slob out for the rest of the summer, which is all anyone wants to do when it’s this hot.


The Burro Fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains a couple of miles from our home has spread to over 26,000 acres and is less than 20% contained. The graphic shows what it looked like from the north a few days ago; it’s bigger now, although still confined to the north side of the mountains. We live at the foot of the south side. I’m surprised we don’t see more smoke: we did at first, along with a red glow at night, but now there’s just a gray haze. Firefighters are using Sabino High School, a mile up the road, as a base camp.

The 2003 Aspen Fire covered much of the same ground and destroyed a lot of cabins and businesses in Summerhaven, the ski village on Mount Lemmon. During that one hot ashes landed on our roof and in our yard. Bears and mountain lions came down from the hills and wandered around the hood for a few days (we saw a mountain lion cross our yard, but had to take our neighbors’ word on the bears). I don’t think it’ll get that bad this time, but what do I know? We’re told it may rain tomorrow. Even odds on whether that’s a legitimate forecast or preventive panic control on the part of local TV weathermen.

Links to news I’m following:

Well, our unelected president has finished his sit-down with Putin. According to Secretary of State Tillerson, who was in the room, Trump did at least bring up the issue of Russian interference in the election. More to come, I’m sure.

Rachel Maddow had some interesting things to say last night: apparently someone’s trying to do to her what others did to Dan Rather years ago, when they tricked him into basing an exposé on (supposedly) faked documents, thus destroying his credibility and career. We need Rachel’s voice more than ever; while others breathlessly report on the naked emperor’s tweets, she digs out the details on Russia’s role in the stolen election and Putin’s power over Trump. May her spidey sense never fail her.

I love it that France is going to ban sales of gas- and diesel-fueled cars by 2040, and that Volvo will switch to producing only hybrid and electric-powered cars by 2019. Oh, and that Tesla’s coming out with an electric-powered tractor-trailer truck this September. Waiting now to see what California, a major economic power in the USA and the world, will do next on the automotive & transportation front.

Just do it, responsible adults leading the way despite the best efforts of right-wing denialists trying to stop you. Just do it. We’ll adjust to electric-powered vehicles and the infrastructure that will come with them. We’ll adapt … we always do.

So, is that fucking Delaware-sized ice shelf ever going to break off? Shades of waiting for Alice the giraffe to give birth, already!

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