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Benjamin Disraeli once said, "Never apologize. It's a sign of weakness. Never complain and never explain."

I won't apologize and I won't complain, but I will offer a quick word of explanation for this week's rerun of a January 2007 What's For dinner?:

Migraine.

We have a number of new readers, so I hope this will be useful information for someone.  Follow me over the fold for Six Easy Dinners for Beginning Cooks.

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One of the fun things about being part of a rather eccentric family is that we get to make up our own traditions.  My husband can't eat honey-baked ham (which I don't like anyway).  He hates turkey and most "normal" holiday foods.  Our children like spicy foods; he doesn't.  Several family members have various food allergies.  It's always been a challenge to come up with main dish and several side dishes that everyone will like and eat.

Several years ago the idea hit us:  why are we sticking to one main dish?  We've had dim sum in San Francisco and tapas in Spanish restaurants, so why not borrow from the tradition of many little main dishes instead of one?

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One evening when I was in Houston recently for a trade show, my roommate and I went down to the hotel restaurant for a quick dinner.  They had a huge buffet (with an even huger price) set up in the back, and the whole place was crowded with show attendees.  We looked at each other, looked at the incredible crush of people bumping elbows with loaded plates and struggling to find an empty seat at the crowded tables.  We turned around and went back to an area adjacent to the bar and found a table.

The kitchen was busy and service was slow, as was to be expected.  But we had an attentive waiter of impeccable charm who brought us soup and salads and a basket of  freshly made crackers, and checked on us as often as he was able.  It was one of the few nice things that happened during that stay.

Poll

If a hotel had done this to you, you'd:

2%1 votes
35%15 votes
7%3 votes
28%12 votes
26%11 votes

| 42 votes | Vote | Results

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I am so confused.

I've been busy with work and then was out of town last weekend.  When I left town on the 26th, AT&T disconnected my home phone service and claimed that we had ordered it done.  Then when I got to Houston, the hotel screwed up six ways from Sunday, tried to charge me about $200 extra for stuff I didn't owe, went ahead the next day and charged me for an additional night that I didn't stay, and then.......

Yesterday I got a call from my bankers asking me to come in because something was wrong with my account.  It seems that the hotel had charged yet another $792 on my debit card on Friday, four days after I checked out, which threw my account pretty seriously into the red.

After much vigorous pulling of strings and filing of fraud reports and formal complaints with the corporate headquarters, I got an email about half an hour ago in which the words "apology" and "compensation" figured.

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Summer's winding down.  Last week she who Runs With Scissors talked about cleaning out her garden beds, pulling up the exhausted tomato plants, and getting beds ready for the winter.  At my house the heat has finally broken.  Every day I pass my sad, dying tomato plants (dying because we are in Stage Five Drought and have been under water restrictions all summer) and every day i tell myself "It's time to pull them up."  Last year I harvested my last fresh tomato in December and we ate it for lunch on New Year's Day; with this kind of history, I've been reluctant to pull up the plants in August.

However.  This morning I went out to salute my gallant plants and put them to rest.  And I found... new flowers and three tiny tomatos on one plant.  Buds for new flowers on another.  Three small, ripe tomatoes on the Rutgers plant.  These guys aren't ready to give up yet!  So I watered them and trimmed off the worst of the dead branches, stuck some fertilizer spikes in there, and patted them on the head.  Good plants.  Maybe this year, tomatoes on New Year's Day again.

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It's August.  We've had ten or eleven days in a row of temperatures over 100° (38° C) in north-central Alabama.  We are in Exceptional Drought, the most severe stage, which means that fresh local veggies are almost nonexistent and very high priced.  I can't water my own garden due to water restrictions, and my tomatoes and peppers are shriveled and dying.  Nothing sounds good.  My stomach's mildly upset and so is my chi.

Welcome to the Dog Days of August -- the Summer Doldrums.

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"what's For Dinner?" is a year old today

which is about seventy-two in blog years.

Unfortunately, everybody's off in Chicago at - you know - that other party.  The one all the cool kids went to.  ::Sniffle::

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I must begin tonight by pointing out that my esteemed colleague Runs With Scissors made a bit of calendrical error last week.  This series started on August 5, 2006, so this week isn't the Anniversary Edition.  But that's perfectly okay, because it means we get to celebrate again in a couple of weeks.  Who's bringing the wine, and can somebody volunteer for crackers?  I have about 10 pounds of assorted varieties of cheese in my fridge, so we're covered there. Fruit tray will be provided; beer optional but welcome.  Maybe, if we're really lucky, we can get Crashing Vor to bring some dolmades.  Saturday, August 4.  Your presence is respectfully requested.

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Assuming that you are in the northern hemisphere, it's summer -- time for fresh beans and tomatoes and eggplant and squash -- hundreds of squash -- and peppers.  It's time for quick, light meals that don't take hours to cook, don't heat up the kitchen, and don't leave you feeling like the Staypuft Marshmallow Man.

At casa Petersen tonight, I'm grilling hamburgers for the guys and a chicken breast for me.  I'll slice the breast into thin strips, serve it over fresh lettuce with some of the tomatoes that are ripening in my front garden, and call that dinner.  If dessert is called for afterward, I'll slice one or two of the fresh peaches I bought at the market today, splash a little milk on them, and eat them with a spoon.  Simple, delectable, heaven.

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Platitudes:  "Time heals all wounds."  "Don't wish your life away."  "This, too, shall pass."

From these few phrases, you may gather that I am still chafing under the restraints imposed by a not-yet-healed broken hand.  We're rapidly approaching the six-week mark since my undignified 3am tumble over a misplaced footstool, so I hope that soon I'll be freed from the increasing irritation of a plaster splint that is hot, scratchy and sticky, uncomfortable, and prevents me from using my dominant hand.  

Um, Kate, that's what it's supposed to do.

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Do NOT Recommend this Diary.  Recommend the Master: Monica Goodling vs. House Judiciary Committee Liveblog

Most of the text in this diary is courtesy of Liveblog, from the above-linked diary.

At long last, the GOP has their own Monica problem.  You can catch the fireworks on CSpan3 at 10:15 a.m. EDT and we will, as is our wont, be following along here in the sandbox.  Wheeee!

It is entirely recommended that you visit drational's lovely testimony preview diary - it gives a great backdrop going into the hearing.  See also Fabian's transcript diary for the synopsis.

But alas, Liveblogging isn't all fun and games, or to quote Walter in The Big Lebowski, "this is bowling, not Vietnam...there are ruuules!"  They appear below the fold.

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Several years ago, the Food Network ran a short-lived game show whose name I can’t recall. Several contestants were given the name of a dish prepared  by a celebrity chef, who made it, and a fork.  Their task was to name all the ingredients in the recipe.  #1 contestant would name an ingredient and if correct, would get a chance to name a second.  If incorrect, he would collect a strike and #2 would get a chance.  Three strikes, you’re out.  Whoever correctly named the most ingredients won the round.

To make it tricksier, the chefs were encouraged to use unusual ingredients. If it were a sweet pudding, for example, the first person would naturally say "Sugar!" which almost always resulted in a strike. It would turn out to be molasses or honey or even agave syrup that was used to sweeten the dish. (Of course, if the recipe was by Bobby Flay, the first person had an unfair advantage, because you could always guess "chipotle peppers" and be correct no matter what the dish was.  Even cake!)

I was pretty good at this game.

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