Rediscovered


AH-ORIGINAL-SMLWhen I was a kid I used to be excited whenever my mother said it was “Chinese Night” for dinner – because that meant one thing… AhSo sauce! AhSo is this sticky, red sauce you would slather on chicken or pork to add an Asian zing to it.

Chinese night usually meant chicken breast with AhSo, which were great because the sauce caused the skin to get extra crispy when baked or grilled. But the classic was AhSo on pork chops – mostly because the red sauce made the pork look like the pork ribs or pork strips you would find in a Chinese restaurant.

I had not thought about AhSo in many years when I stumbled across an empty AhSo jar full on notions while cleaning out my parents’ house in New Hampshire . The funny thing is that the jar did not have a label on it – but as soon as I saw it I know what it was – and then the lid confirmed it – it was indeed a remnant of all those Chinese dinners years ago.

I was curious to know if the sauce was still available – so I hit the web to check it out. Indeed AhSo is still made and available for sale from Allied Old English.

About AhSo: “The legendary sauce that started it all, AhSo Original BBQ has become a staple in pantries across the northeast. Popular both at home and in restaurants, our unique recipe is the key to making those distinctive, red-glaze spareribs served throughout New England .”

Yum! Now I have a craving for this and the “fried rice” my mom used to make from Minute rice.

When Sophie and I visited Brimfield in May, I fell in love with the items offered by dealers we subsequently found out were known as “Added Oomph” out of High Point , NC .

dukeThese guys had some great items, mostly larger scale architectural items, but what I fell in love with were a few authentic British pub signs.

You know the kind, the big signs that hang outside of the pubs usually a painted portrait of a colorful scene or person depicting the pub’s name. Like “The Slaughtered Calf” or “The Prince of Tides.”

In any case, I really wanted one, but talked myself out of it. When we returned to Brimfield in September, I was hoping to see Added Oomph again, even if it was just to look at the offerings. But sadly, they were not there, at least not on the day we were.

But Sophie, who is known as a packrat if not a hoarder, saved the business card we received back in May and was able to send me a link to the Added Oomph website where I feel in love with the pub signs all over again.

While touring around the Added Oomph website I have to say I love their vibe and the types of things they offer. Their shop looks great too.

How about a road trip to North Carolina to pick up the Duke of Cambridge?

I remember once when I was a kid watching my mother in a panic as she received a last minute invitation to an afternoon tea party and had nothing to bring. We were at our summer place where these afternoon tea parties were a big deal with the local women, most of whom were there to spend the summer by the lake with the kids while the men folk worked in the city and came up at the weekend.

My mom didn’t drive which meant that my dad would make sure we had enough groceries and otspamClassic7ozher supplies for the week before he left on Sunday evening. This also meant that by Friday there was not much left it cupboard or fridge to throw something together at the last minute to bring to a tea party.

So there was mom, trying to think of something. Before I knew it, she starting working feverishly. She took a can of SPAM, and let me open it. This was a fun activity for a small boy. Then I watched as she chopped it up into small pieces and put it into a bowl. The she chopped up some pickles and an onion and tossed them into the bowl. She added some mayonnaise and mixed all together. Then she took a platter and spread crackers over the surface and then put a dollop of the SPAM mixture on each cracker.

She went off to her party and when she came back she was full of stories of how the ladies raved about the little treats and refused to believe it wasn’t something picked up at a gourmet grocer.

I learned much that day. I learn you should always have enough things on hand to be able to throw together a quick app at a moment’s notice – and I learned that SPAM is your friend.

Enter Hormel, the makers of SPAM. The recently launched a new recipe exchange on spam.com devoted to the iconic luncheon meat:  “Welcome to SPAM.com’s brand new Recipe Exchange! Here you can share your favorite SPAM® recipes, try and rate recipes from others, and take part in SPAM® meal makeover challenges to learn new ways to prepare SPAM® varieties and even win prizes.”

Check it out, you may be surprised what you can do with those cans of SPAM you have in your Y2K bunker you need to turn over.

I am going to admit it…  As easy and cool as digital photography is, I really miss old school film cameras.  There was something special about snapping a picture and hoping it would come out.  There was nothing like the anticipation of seeing what shots you got on your vacation after it was all over.

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Some purists will say that there film photographer is superior to digital in an aesthetic way.  But we just miss loading the film and being mindful of how many pictures we had left on a roll to make sure we took pictures of only the important stuff.

Anyway, I was thrilled to come across Four Corner Store, a website dedicated to “all things toy camera.”  On Four Corner Store you can find all sorts of fun cameras, mostly plastic film cameras that will make you feel nostalgic.  Check out the Blackbird, Fly 35mm TLR in Blue – very cool.  You can also find all sorts of accessories including film.

I was particular happy to see the 110 film cameras – I had totally forgotten about 110 film.  My very first camera when I was in first grade back in the, ahem, 1970’s was a tiny 110 camera.  Now only if I could find a Flip Flash…  Does anyone else remember the Flip Flash?

See all the toy camera and accessories Four Corner Store offers here.

It has been 50 years since John F. Kennedy took the oath of office as President of the United States and began the 1,000 day administration, the “Camelot” era and the tragic ending. 

JFK’s Innaugural Address is one of the most famous speeches of modern times, with the oft quote lines like “ask not what your country can do for you…”

The fabulous store Levenger, purveyors of “tools for serious readers” offers a amazing tribute to that famous address, “John F. Kennedy: His Inaugural Address (book and DVD)”

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About the John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address (book and DVD): “It is one of the shortest inaugural addresses in our country’s history, and yet its words have long resonated in the American conscience. John F. Kennedy’s first message as president summoned the language of a leader schooled in the oratory of the ages––from Isaiah to Lincoln and Churchill. In our exclusive book, we take you behind the curtain of this famous moment to experience how the ideas became words.  Facsimiles of scribbled and dictated notes, JFK’s handwritten version and a marked-up typed draft are among the various documents you’ll discover. All are reproduced in full color, and most at the original size. These are authorized facsimiles from the archives of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.”

Find out more on the Levenger website.

Explore all the great product Levenger offers.

I am one of the many who love the annual ritual of watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” every year at Christmas time.  I also like to make sure I catch “White Christmas” and as many of the classic specials as I can.  And I will often sit through all of “Meet Me in St. Louis” just to see the big payoff: Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Oh and I love every version of “A Christmas Carol” especially the Alistair Sim version (cliché) and the musical version with Albert Finney (“Scrooge”).

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But there is no other holiday movie that makes me feel that special holiday spirit than the 1945 classic, “Christmas in Connecticut” with Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan and the fabulous Sydney Greensteet.

I don’t know how it started, but for some reason for many years back in the day I tossed in the VHS tape of this film every year as I wrapped my presents.  Soon it became a tradition and something I looked forward to. 

I lapsed a couple of years, most likely due to the fact that I retired the old VHS VCR and never upgraded to the DVD version of the movie.  But then last year I was happy  see the film show up on Turner Classic Movies and was overcome with a fit of nostalgia that I ran for the wrapping paper.

The movie is charming.  A bit dated.  But Stanwyck is radiant and the story is just delightful.  Just a pleasant break from some of the more popular holiday fare.  I highly recommend it, especially if you like old movies and have never seen this one.

I have already recorded “Christmas in Connecticut” this year and have planned a night home by myself tonight to watch it.  I am going to pop a big bowl of popcorn, make some hot cocoa and sit back and enjoy.  I may even wrap a present or two…

During the holidays I love to read old books and stories that harken back to a time gone by. For some reason Christmas brings out the nostalgia in me.  Some years it is old school Dickens, as in “A Christmas Carol” or really any of his works.  Somehow Dickens just screams Christmas.The-Thin-Man-Poster-C10132902

This year I have been poking around in a Dashiell Hammett anthology.  Hammett, best known perhaps for “The Thin Man” and “The Maltese Falcon” wrote great detective stories and they are great to read.  Hammett’s prose and snappy dialog is as current and relevant today as it was in the first half of the last century.

I love his novel “The Dain Curse” which is just great.  This is nostalgic to me not only because it is an old school classic, but I actually read it back in my old school days.  So when I read it now it is like I am a 14 year-old again. 

But now as adult, I appreciate the wit and elegance of Hammett’s writing in a whole new way. I highly recommend that you pick up one of Hammett books, perhaps for that Kindle you asked for this year. 

If you don’t have the time or desire to read the books, then put some of the classic movies based on Hammett’s works in your Netflix queue.  Start with “The Thin Man” and all the sequels, just pure classic cinema joy.  Or go right to the “Maltese Falcon” – Bogart, Astor and Greenstreet = perfection!

Part of our collective memories about Christmas morning is the joy of finding a model train set ringing the tree.  My best Christmases as a kid were the ones when I received a train set or additional cars and tracks.

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One of the best places to find everything you could possibly want related to model trains is the Charles Ro Supply Company. This place is not for the casual hobbyist or the person looking for a train set for decoration.  Charles Ro sells stuff for the serious train fan.  I must admit I can’t figure out all the different scales or gauges, but it sure is fun looking at all the different things available.

I love the tradition freight trains or passenger trains, but I have to say I really like the trolley cars.

More mainstream retailers, like Target, sell train sets too.  Target is currently selling a train set based on the classic movie “A Christmas Story.”  Now that would look good on Christmas morning running around your brand new leg lamp.

Every year when I pull my Christmas decorations out, I end up only using 10 percent of my collection.  I have so much stuff collected over the years that I find that if I put it all out, my house would look like the north pole.  So I end up taking out the must haves and rotating other stuff from year to year.

Lost Cowboy readers will not be surprised that I have a bunch of Christmas “stuff” collected over the years.  I have things from my family’s collection, things I purchased myself and others collected through the years from various sources.  Some of the items are really old and have tons of sentimental value.

When I was writing the recent post about our trip to Todd Farm a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of all the Christmas stuff people had out for sale.  Waves of nostalgia came over me as I saw things I remember my grandmother having, and even a few things that I had in my own collection.  I thought that many of us have vintage items in our collections that we just don’t use anymore and that there may be a market for it as some of us look for the things we remember as kids that are not around anymore.  Or that we may see some of the things long pushed to the back of the attic in a new light.

I have thought about opening a store that sells vintage Christmas decorations and old toys called something like “Christmas Again.”  One of my dreams. 

In the meantime, I was inspired for the Christmas good for sale at markets like Todd Farm.  Here is a sample of some of things we saw:

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Have a Vintage Little Christmas!

Are you a familiar with Brit singer-songwriter David Gray? If you are, you are all set. If you don’t know him, you may be familiar with a few of his songs from the past decade or so, most notably “Babylon” which was played endlessly on adult-orientated radio stations.

I hate to admit this, but I am one of those people that finds an artist they like and then starts to resent them when they become too popular.  “He’s sold out!”  I am heard to say of a singer who hits it big.  In some cases this is true, in others it is just a need to feel cool.

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Such is the case with Mr. Gray.  I loved the guy.  Loved every song.  But when he got big and everyone knew him, or at least one or two songs, I was done.  “He sold out!”

Well, it is stupid, I should still like the music I always did.  So when I heard Gray was coming out with a new album, I was excited to give it a chance.  “Draw the Line” is his first album of new material in nearly four years and it is great.

Much of the press “Draw the Line” has received focuses on the fact that it is a departure from the “formula” that has made Gray one of the UK’s top selling artists in recent years. This may be true, he formed a new band and collaborated with different artists, but the sound is unmistakably Gray. And it is a sound that is very pleasing to hear, like an old friend coming back into my life.

I mention this now, as I had the chance to see Mr. Gray perform in concert last night at Boston ’s Wang Theater, thanks to an invitation from a very dear friend. Gray put on a great show.  From the second he came on stage I was in the palm of his hands.  He performed songs old and new and proved to me why I liked him the first place, and, begrudgingly, why he became so popular.

He puts on a great show, he looks good, sounds great and has an amazing stage presence.  The Lost Cowboy recommends you take a listen to David Gray’s music – whether it is to reacquaint yourself with him or to discover him for the first time.

The new album is not quite the departure some who have you believe, but I guess I would say that after listening to it and seeing him live…  “David Gray has bought himself back.”

Visit David Gray’s website.
Purchase the CD or download “Draw the Line” on Amazon.

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