Sand Hill Cranes

We recently attended a birthday party for an old friend, even older than my brother, in Madison Wisconsin. This is a nice time of year to visit south central Wisconsin.  Abnormally, the weather wasn’t too hot or humid but they were deluged with rain this year, I have never seen green grass in late August before like this.

We stayed at a hotel in Middleton, Wisconsin very near to our former house and where we worked so many years ago. At breakfast there was a rush to the windows and I turned to see these four walking out of the fog:

Sand Hill Cranes Middleton, WI ©

Sand Hill Cranes
Middleton, WI

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Greatest Value for Price in Paris

Le Florimond reigns as the best value for price in Paris, hands down. They don’t take online reservations, they aren’t on Open Table or The Fork, you have to call for a reservation. The good news is that Laurent speaks excellent English among a few other languages. He also manages the best front-of-the house I have ever eaten in, including multi-starred restaurants.

If you go, tell them that Bubar sent you. It won’t get you any better treatment, Laurent treats everyone as a long-term valued guest in his house, but it will put a big smile on his face. Give him a big hug for me.

Pascal Guillaumin commands the kitchen, turning out perfectly prepared meals using the freshest, most local products available in Paris. There are a few recurring regulars ( his grandmother’s stuffed cabbage) on the menu but the chalkboard changes every Thursday. Last time we were there for lunch, in a packed house, I was the only one who didn’t order the stuffed cabbage; seated by an elderly gentleman who looked at us and said ‘I knew his grandmother’.  Although the restaurant is a favorite in all of the English tourist guides, there is a very local, loyal French group of patrons; they have been in the 7th for over 20 years. Cuisine is spot on and the service is top-notch. They haven’t fallen into the trap of chasing Michelin Stars, the price for value remains one of the greatest consumer values in all of France. I have been eating there for 18 years and hope to eat there for another 18.

Le Florimond
19, avenue de la Motte-Picquet
Paris, 75007
TEL: 33 (01)

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Will to Survive

Frequently I see heavily damaged plants in the garden that should be quickly put out of their misery. Yet, optimism reigns or perhaps I am too lazy to bend over and apply the final indignity to a simple vegetable that only wants to reproduce.

While on an extended road trip one of the many woodchucks being feed by our neighbors decided that cucumber leaves were the best greens available. We will see if being around for the rest of the summer is sufficient to keep the little darlings away and provide a chance for the cucumber to fulfill its destiny. Me, I just want to make pickles.

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Garden Salad

Picking the daily quotient of salad greens for lunch I came across a Nursery Web Spider in the spinach. They are an ambush style hunter waiting to strike insects as large are bees or even bumblebees.

Pisaurina mira - Front View 7 June 2016 ©

Pisaurina mira – Front View 7 June 2016

Pisaurina mira - Rear View 7 June 2016 ©

Pisaurina mira – Rear View 7 June 2016


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Bonus Tomatoes

I buy tomato sets at the greenhouse, they do a better job at seeding and nurturing until it is time to plant. However, there is often more than one plant per container; historically I would separate the plants and plant both but this year the roots were just too intertwined and separating would end up damaging both plants. With a pair of scissors, I snipped the smallest plant at soil level and put it in a small glass of water.

Extra tomatoes cut from seeding container 27 May 2016 ©

Extra tomatoes cut from seeding container 27 May 2016

I would leave the glass of water outside during the day to make sure the cuttings had plenty of sun. Five days later:

Rooting bonus tomatoes 1 June 2016 ©

Rooting bonus tomatoes 1 June 2016

I planted the bonus tomatoes in separate pots filled with a starter mix the next day; they will sit out this way for a week or so before planting. Should have tomatoes in 8 to 10 weeks.

Bonus tomatoes planted 2 June 2016 ©

Bonus tomatoes planted 2 June 2016

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Want to Start a Restaurant? Want to Up Your Game?

Bulli is here for you. In Adrian Bulli’s own words:

“We already have lots of information. What we really need is knowledge”

“The better you think, the better you create”

“There are millions of new things, but only a few are relevant”

“There is not a world reference for the history of cuisine. That’s because cooking, research centers and universities have never worked together. It’s time to change this”.

Bullipedia is coming and any chef of any level will be able to benefit from it. “Bullipedia is a professional tool created to increase chefs’ knowledge and creativity. Bullipedia seeks to gather all the culinary information available in printed and online publications, and organize it in a clear and accurate way in order to transform that information into knowledge. Bullipedia wants to go beyond Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo, and encyclopedias like Wikipedia.”

Bullipedia’s content will be structured into 5 main groups:

  • Products
  • Cooking Tools
  • Cooking Techniques
  • Cooking Creations
  • Authors

Not sure when it will be available but I will let you know as soon as I see it online.

Happy Cooking.

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Where was Senator Ayotte?

Reading an article on Food52 about milk I came across this alarming comment regarding the vagaries of State based regulations:

States make their own laws when it comes to the regulation of raw milk sales, with seven states outlawing its sale directly to consumers as of October of last year. Because it is potentially dangerous, federal law prohibits the distribution of the raw milk across state lines unless it is in transit to be pasteurized or used to make aged cheese.”

Said another way, 39 States allow some form of raw milk sales, another 4 States allow sales for pets only. Boy, I hope the anti-gun lobby doesn’t see that “potentially dangerous” is justification for Federal Law.

Perhaps Senator Ayotte needs better staff support or they were on coffee break and missed the poorly made State decisions thereby failing our Senator’s desire to declutter State Agriculture regulations and laws:

 “After hearing from New Hampshire food and agriculture stakeholders who raised serious concerns about the implications that a patchwork of state labeling laws would have on interstate commerce, as well as on consumers who could experience increased prices because of those different laws, I supported a procedural motion to advance consideration of the measure.

I would never suggest that the Senator’s support for the anti-GMO labeling law was driven by the Republican National Party (RNC). I would never suggest that the Senator favors the RNC over the citizens of New Hampshire.

I would also never suggest that the RNC favors its leadership over their own delegates, I will leave that to CNBC. I would suggest that the RNC decision to not adopt Roberts Rules of Order for their convention is strikingly similar to Senator Ayotte’s decision to support a bill that would be opposed by 90% of the population if put to a vote, instead voting to apply a Republican led squelch.

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Let’s Gore an Ox

Perhaps it was a shot across the bow in an election season. However, in my opinion, Senator Ayotte has not shown any favor to the consumers or citizens of New Hampshire beyond the Republican favored 1% so after becoming incensed at a clearly Big Ag ploy to controvert the States that do actively try to support their citizens (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut) I sent this note:

Honorable Senator Ayotte, 

Oh where oh where have all the Republicans gone? 

How should I interpret Senator Roberts’ draft legislation: 

To amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national voluntary labeling standard for bioengineered foods, and for other purposes 

Is the Republican Party taking aim at destroying States’ Rights?  

Where does this shill for Big Ag think he is coming from?  

At what point in time will the Republican Party start to voice the concerns of the food consuming public or are you folks all about getting Mexico to pay for a fence (aka Maginot Line) and whatever else Big Business wants? 

Of course States could ban the sale of products with GMO material unless those items are voluntarily stated clearly on the label; that wouldn’t contradict your Business Proposed Label Law; unless of course you also plan to regulate intrastate commerce.

Okay, so there were a few cheap shots in there, face it, building a fence along our southern border wouldn’t be as effective as the Maginot Line. I did get the following response from Senator Ayotte:

Thank you for contacting me regarding bioengineered food.  I appreciate hearing from you.

As you may know, on March 16, 2016, the Senate voted on a measure put forth by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) which would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a national voluntary labeling standard for bioengineered food within one year.  Further, the measure would require USDA to establish a framework for how the Administration will require “substantial participation” of food products in the voluntary labeling system to allow consumers more information about their food.  Specifically, the measure requires that if 70 percent of food products are not participating in the voluntary system within two years that USDA shall establish a national mandatory labeling standard for bioengineered food.

After hearing from New Hampshire food and agriculture stakeholders who raised serious concerns about the implications that a patchwork of state labeling laws would have on interstate commerce, as well as on consumers who could experience increased prices because of those different laws, I supported a procedural motion to advance consideration of the measure.  You may be interested to know that New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill has warned that, “…state by state patchworks of biotechnology food labeling laws are chaotic for commerce, difficult to enforce and will deliver many unintended consequences,” and Commissioner Merrill supported the measure put forward on the Senate floor.  Going forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues to find a commonsense path forward on a bioengineered food labeling system that will provide consumers with more information.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.  It is important for me to hear from you regarding the current issues affecting New Hampshire and our nation.  Please do not hesitate to be in touch again if I may be of further assistance.


Kelly A. Ayotte
U. S. Senator

Sounds like a well thought out plan and it even has the support of our New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Commissioner. There is a provision that makes GMO labeling mandatory if 70% of food products are not in compliance, if you have a negative bent then 30% of our food products and their nefarious producers will get a pass. What I found most interesting was the lack of dialogue on States’ Rights, actually that is a pass as the Senator completely avoided it. Also the lack of dialogue on why not simply give the people what they want, truth in labeling, wine labels have to disclose if the wine contains added sodium nitrate so what’s the fuss over adding contains GMOs on a label?

I would love to see a detailed example of how a voluntary labeling system would provide me with more information. I don’t believe the Mexicans will pay for any wall so I have a little trouble with this Republican claim as well.

It also smacks of a delaying tactic, hoping that the Republicans will take the White House and control Congress so they can make this labeling issue, supported by 90% of the population, go away. I am not a scientist (that makes me a republican) but I am suspicious of the benefits claimed for GMOs. If they were really that beneficial than you would expect companies to broadcast far and wide that their product contains the Newest, Best GMOs available on the market. Maybe GMOs have a bad image and need quality public relations efforts. As I said, I am not a crook scientist, I have just found when dealing with salespeople that what is not said is more important and with all the money and lobbying being thrown against labeling GMOs I simply smell a rat.

If State Commissioner Merrill is so concern about all the variances from State to State, then would she also support a move to disband State Agriculture Commissions and let the FDA/USDA rule? Wouldn’t that be more logical for Big Ag?

Should we discuss Insurance Commissions? Wouldn’t voter registration be better, at least simpler, if the Federal Government was in control? Will Senator Ayotte champion a Value Added Tax to replace the patchwork of State Sales and Use Tax regulations?

Regarding the Senator’s justification “. . . the implications that a patchwork of state labeling laws would have on interstate commerce, as well as on consumers who could experience increased prices because of those different laws, I supported a procedural motion to advance consideration of the measure. ” Anyone who likes wine knows that the best prices and especially variety are online (even if you include New Hampshire 8.5% sales import tax fee for doing nothing at all which passed when Senator Ayotte was our Attorney General) but many vendors don’t ship to New Hampshire because of the license fee, processing and collecting the 8.5% assessment cost, and reporting costs. Gee, wouldn’t it be easier if the Federal Government regulated the interstate sales of wine? Wouldn’t we as consumers benefit from lower regulatory and compliance costs? Yes, I am familiar with the 17th Amendment as well as how a concerted effort by our politicians could get that modified.

Next time you buy a soda in New Hampshire or any other state without a Bottle Tax take a look at the label and how they have managed to accommodate those who have a bottle tax with those who don’t. How hard would it be to label your products, to avoid unnecessary inventory and product costs, by simply labeling the products to comply with the 4 food consumer friendly States and sell that product in the other 46 as well? It all comes down to consumers want to know what is in their food and Big Ag Republicans don’t want you to know.

I worked at regulatory and legislative lobbying for a brief time, that limited experience helped me create a theory on people’s’ ability to govern:

An individual’s ability to affect laws and regulations is inversely proportional to the square of that individual’s distance away from those making the laws or regulations. 

In plain English, if you live in Alaska or northern Maine or New Hampshire, you’re screwed. Large businesses understand this theory and hire lobbyists for Washington DC as well as each State Capitol, the rest of us can only open a window and rant into the verse.


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Wine Terminology

Every industry creates their own shorthand or jargon trying to make it easier for the insiders but understanding that it also frustrates outsiders. Here are a few of the common terms used to describe wine:


Wine with a pH below 7 is an acid. Acidity refers to the degree of acid. It is considered a preservative in wine resulting from fermenting the fruits and is often referred to favorably as tart or crisp and unfavorably as flabby if the necessary acidity is lacking.


Simply put, allowing wine access to oxygen; principle behind decanting. However, too much oxygen for too long can cause wine oxidation leading to rancidness.


A geographical area of one or more distinct attributes that distinguishes it from another place. Known as AOC (appellation d’origine controlle) in France, DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) or DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) in Italy, and DOC (Denominación de Origen) in Spain.


Originating from the wine’s tannins, described as coarse, harsh or rough, often referred to for causing your mouth to pucker up when initially tasting the wine. Ideally this will decrease as the wine ages.


Having the flavor of acid or tannin predominant over fruit flavors, may indicate a capacity for aging.


An underdeveloped wine, slow to age. May also be referred to as austere.


A condition where the wine’s bouquet, taste and finish are in concert or harmony with each other. Neither characteristic is present in excess or is deficient.


A term personal to each taster but tends to represent an exaggeration of one or more of the wine’s characteristics. A common complaint for fruit forward New World wines which tend not to par well with refined cuisine but can rock with barbecue.


Strong acidity, typical of many young wines built to age.


A wine lacking in tannins, acidity and/or fruit. Essentially a nondescript wine.


A combination of the juice from two or more grape varietals. The purpose for blending is to control the end experience, some grapes are added for color, others for their alcohol capacity, others for their tannins, and others for their bouquet.

Bottle Size

Generally, the larger the bottle format the more gracefully a bottled wine will mature. Sizes:

187.5     ml          Piccolo or Split

375         ml          Half bottle (US)

500        ml           Demi bottle (Fr)

750         ml           Standard bottle

1.5          L              Magnum

3.0          L              Double Magnum

4.5          L              Jeroboam

4.5          L              Rehoboam, used for Champagne

6.0          L              Imperial

6.0          L              Methuselah, usually used for sparkling wines

9.0          L              Salmanazar, equivalent to one standard case

12.0        L              Balthazar

15.0        L              Nebuchadnezzar


Aromas created during the fermentation process and barrel aging.


The practice of adding sugar during the fermentation process to increase the alcohol level.


The absence of haze/particles in liquid suspension.


Heavy, sweet wine with aromas of plum. An attribute of fine Maury wines, otherwise not a quality descriptor.


Tainted wine caused by 2, 4, 6 Trichloroanisole (TCA) in the cork. Typically, it can be smelled as the bottle is opened but if mildly tainted it may be subtle and expand as the wine warms.


A full-bodied wine, plenty of glycerin and alcohol.


Describes the aftertaste once the wine is swallowed. Long, short, tannic, etc.


Lacks structure, probably low in acid, with a short finish.


Common descriptor of wines which can originate from various sources, some added but most associated with the grape or wine making process. Sauvignon Blanc grapes typically exhibit flavor notes of grapefruit. Other flavors could be from contamination in the vats or on the grapes as they are brought in from the fields. The point to appellations is that grapes take on a ‘taste’ of the place where they are grown, chardonnay from California will unlikely taste like chardonnay from Chablis, ignoring the variances in winemaking technique.


Naturally occurring wine aromas that remind one of herbs.


Mouth sensation caused by high alcohol levels.


When you swirl the wine and tip to one side then back, the clear coating that clings to the glass surface is glycerin.


A distinct vanilla taste derived from the vanillin compound found in oak wood. The flavor is imparted to wines that are fermented/age in oak barrels or in those countries with much looser standards from oak chips that are tossed into fermenting/aging wines.


Refers to a bad odor or taste sensation.


Exposure of grape juice to oxygen. Oxygen is important to maturing wine but it also hastens reduction which can produce a foul-smelling by-product Hydrogen Sulphide. Too much oxygen is generally bad.


Could refer to the wine’s color but typically refers to the sensations caused by over ripe grapes.


The indentation on the bottom of most wine bottles. Original glass making equipment was not able to produce a flat bottom so they made the indentation to keep the bottles upright.


Refers to the finish length.


Creates astringency, comes from the stems, skins and pips.


A wine that has too much acidity for the sugar content, may be resolved by age.


The ‘place’ where the grapes were grown; a combination of the soil, microclimate, and orientation to the sun.


Space between the bottom of the cork and the top of the wine.


Refers to a specific grape variety. Hachette Wine Library Grape Varieties lists 36 major varieties in France alone.


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Air Travel Complaint

Years ago I attended a Disney Management Program at their facilities in Orlando. It was an interesting week of Disney philosophy and maybe even a little Goofy. I clearly remember the discussion on trash bins and their efforts studying just how far people would walk to throw trash in the bin verses on the ground. They placed trash bins around the park where no one would be beyond the ‘walk to toss’ limit. Of course they also had a Plan B, absolutely no park employee was allowed to walk by trash on the ground, they had to pick it up and dispose of it properly. Ultimately, Disney was all about making every aspect of your park visit pleasant, enjoyable and entertaining.

The airline industry adopted the antithesis of Disney’s management approach. They reduce leg room as a vehicle to increase revenues. They routinely cancel undersold flights waiting, apparently, until they are oversold. They let ‘premiers’ on first with more baggage than allowed to choke the overheads so economy fliers have no room to store bags. And if the reduced leg room isn’t enough to convince you to pay an enormous fee for another few inches, they refuse to lock the seats so the kid in front of you can lean all the way back into your lap.

Since retiring I have limited my flights to overseas and coast-to-coast otherwise I drive. Driving is reliable, over 700 miles it probably takes a little longer than flying but not necessarily if the trip requires a connection. Driving is definitely more economical than flying, especially if there are two of us. The food is significantly better. Plenty of leg room, and with extra baggage space to take more than we need and to bring back even more that we don’t need.

Air travel is a lot like cable television, management focuses on cash flow and knowing that most travelers don’t have the option to drive like I do, they behave like monopolists. Too bad we don’t have the promised Open Skies agreement in place, ever since deregulation we have seen industry consolidation to the point where now it is, at best, an oligopoly but on many routes it is an effective monopoly.

Have you had a problem with air travel? The Department of Transportation (DOT) is actually listening, give them a call to lodge your complaint 202.366.2220 or go online to file a complaint.



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