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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

And Still More Talk About Food


So here it is: the veggie quesadilla I made from grilled leftovers.

I know cheaters never prosper but suffice it to say I didn't make the salsa or guacamole from scratch and I substituted Mexican-blended cheese for goat cheese.

But damn it was still really good!
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Monday, November 26, 2007

Call Me Crazy


Apparently I didn't get enough to eat over the Thanksgiving holidays because I had the urge to fire up the grill yesterday. It had been some time since I got to do some grilling and in some sense I guess the urge to have a campfire and I used the grilling as a way to supplant that jonze.

But it was a rainy, overcast day and really not conducive to either. It got dark quicker than I expected so I had some concerns about being able to tell when the food was done. The backporch light just didn't cut it - my wife said I needed a coal miner's hat.

So I hunkered down and made some grub anyway. Much like Thanksgiving, I usually try to grill enough food to make it through two meals if not three.

On the menu yesterday was a piece of salmon marinated in soy sauce and maple syrup and seared with a coat of crushed red pepper. I also made mini-burgers (because nothing is worse than your kid leaving a half-eaten burger on his plate), grilled some veggies (orange/red peppers, zucchini and red onion) as well as some bread.

I know I have gone on at length about the joys of grilled bread but that shit is awesome. This morning my wife made a sunny side up egg, took some leftover bread, topped it with the egg, salmon and hollandaise sauce. Fucking grilled bread cannot be denied!

I made jalapeno and cheddar mini-burgers for lunch (often called sliders on popular restaurant menus).

Tonight I'm thinking about making veggie/goat cheese quesadillas with the rest of the batch of food.

Can't you just smell it?

What I do smell is a hardy exercise regime in my future!
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Story About Beer

Just click the header...

As Usual


Well Thanksgiving was a blur, as usual, but it was good to spend plenty of time with my family and friends. We hosted dinner this year and had two families over for a total of 14 people (6 adults, 8 kids). As you can imagine - lots of food and beverages were consumed.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. But it wasn't until college when it became a full scale blowout. Wednesday night Thanksgiving eve I'd usually go to a beef & beer kind of thing at my old high school with my brother. Thanksgiving morning was spent with my neighborhood friends mountain biking and then the day long feast at my parents watching football, eating, drinking (sometimes napping!) and then reconvening with my homies at a select bar in DC.

But by the end of college everything change: I moved to Los Angeles. Those were dire days back then when money was scare so I don't recall ever making it home for the holidays. One year I drove to Seattle with my roommate. It never occurred to me to look on the map - I just took his word for it that it was 16 hours like he said. Since I had nothing better to do, I opted to join him for the drive. I believe it took us close to 22 hours to get there. We left Wednesday, arrived Thursday as dinner was being served. slogged through Friday and then left Saturday to arrive back in LA on Sunday night. Crazy stupid shit that you only do when you are young, dumb and care free.

I remember another Thanksgiving in LA where I spent the majority of my day at work as a pool boy at the Beverly Hills Hilton. It was like a ghost town there. On my way home from my shift, I was hit by an uninsured, illegal immigrant who told me in broekn English that he would fix the damage to the door on my truck at his garage. I opted to take the $60 he had in his wallet and go our separate ways. It totally sucked; I spent the money at the liquor store...

When we relocated back to the East Coast in '95, we made the trek back up to my parents' house in Maryland for the holidays but with family scattered all over the place and few friends still left in the area, it had lost its luster. The five hour drove back home took us 8 and since then we haven't really made it back to my parent's place for Thanksgiving.

But now that we have our own family and a gaggle of friends and some relatives around us, it feels like it has come full circle - we even hosted my parents a few years back.

So aside from the gluttonous feast that it has become and a consumer wet dream, it still is a day that I will always want to spend with family and friends.

And maybe it is because I have had to endure Thanksgiving without those close to me that makes me appreciate when I get to do that all the more.

Let the holidays begin!
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Monday, November 19, 2007

Snacks That Saved The Day


We needed some snacks to watch one of the greatest of sports rivalries this past weekend: the Redskins versus the Cowboys.

Let me just say that I grew up in a die hard Skins household - my father has had season tickets since before I was born and I'm going to be 40 next year so that's a mighty long time. [Also, the last song played at my wedding reception was the Skins Fight Song...]

I been to and watched many a Skins vs. Cowboys game. I seen beat-downs of gloating Cowboys fans in the parking lot by the hand of drunken angry Skins fans after a severe defeat; another loss at the hands of the Cowboys ruined a family Thanksgiving dinner as the house fell sullen and dejected.

I've also been on hand for victories at RFK stadium where you could see the upper deck bouncing for Redskins fever and had my conversations with my brother or dad drowned out by a thunderous, excitable crowd.

So now it's a favorite tradition I'm passing down to my sons: when the Redskins and Cowboys play all chores are put on hold and we get to the task of eating, drinking and hollerin' at the TV.

While I'm not happy about the outcome of yesterday's game, it was still enjoyable to watch (although I don't understand how any team much less the Skins could leave T.O. open. Duh).

Food served: beef tenderloin with goat cheese on toasted bagettes and brie cheese tarts. Nothing too elaborate but tasty none the less.
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Story Of The Leaning Pine


At least once a month for the last I don't know how many years, somebody would knock on my door or ring my door bell and as I'd could to answer the door I'd see them smoking a cigarette and staring at my leaning pine tree.

"Yawanmetatakerdown?" they'd ask.

Or they'd tell me what kind of damage it would do to my house if it did fall like I wasn't aware of this lumbering pine tree in my yard.

Usually I'd tell them that it survived a couple of hurricanes and a wicked ice storm or two and that despite the looks of it, I wasn't too concerned about the tree coming down on my house.

I'd usually ask them for an estimate or a card and tell them I'd call if I ever needed the job done.

And that was that.

Until the drought hit this summer and some report on the news said that dry, brittle trees could pose serious problems this winter having been weakened by the drought.

Not that we could spare the money but we finally decided it was time to take it down before it took us down...
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The Tree Guy


The Tree guy knew how to use a chainsaw with such precision.

It was damn'ed impressive to watch.
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Was Bad Ass


He took the pine down and had the branches chipped and timber loaded onto a truck in less than an hour.
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Feeling Naked


My front yard minus one big pine tree.

Neighbor: "It really makes the front of your house pop out."

Me: "Yeah, I guess now I'll have to do something about those shrubs and that flower bed..."

Neighbor: "You'll probably have to mow your lawn more now."

Me: "Damn, you're probably right."
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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Welcome To Hell


Friday night my band Chest Pains played a show in Chapel Hill at a bar called Hell.

I'll spare you all the silly rock crit cliches I could dish out regarding the night's events but suffice it to say the place lived up to its name invoking Dante, Sartre and Hesse's versions of the evil entity all rolled up into one.

I must say that Eddie Sanchez is the coolest bartender ever.
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The Time Honored Tradition


Of making a set list whilst sitting in a smoky bar waiting to take the stage.

Calmly snapped just moments before disaster struck...
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Juan Huevos' Dancin' Feet


Party rapper, Mad Libs MC and my fellow catering buddy Juan Huevos poppin' off the joint Saturday night in Hell.
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Getting Out Of Hell


Rough night.

Plagued by sound issues, our drummer forgot his hi-hat and the stench from the men's urinal could be smelt on-stage.

But we soldiered on like the punk rock troopers we are...
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The First Fire Of The Season


Seeing as the temp finally dipped below freezing, I took it upon myself to have the first fire of the cold weather season. I love making fires, especially of the camp variety, but outdoor fires have been put on hold until the godforsaken drought in the Southeast ends. Which also means the kids haven't be able to rock the smores as much as they like to when dad gets to making campfires.

Although my wife razzed me a bit for jumping on the opportunity to build a fire (she didn't mind staring it! you could hear her singing in industro-goth hit "I'm a firestarter! I'm firestarter) I'm glad we did because when I peeked at the weather for next week I saw that it is going to be back up in the mid-70s so it might be some time before I get to have another.
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Beer Cheese Fondue


Nothin' goes better with the first fire of the year then some noshable food.

Last night we enjoyed beer cheese fondue which consisted of 8 ounces Swiss, 8 ounces American, 2/3 cup of beer
(Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale), some Worcestershire sauce and corn starch (for thickening. Consumed by dipping a ripped up French bagette into it. Yum.

I've substituted all kinds of beers over the years but Sammies Nut Brown is by far the best. Guinness or any variety of stout works as well but please adhere my warning when I say to avoid domestic swill.

In addition to the fondue, I whipped up one of the more popular appetizers from my work: A seared tuna, avocado and chipotle mayo combo placed atop a tortilla chip. The downside to this one is that I tend to gobble down modest amounts of seared tuna during the prep process.
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Friday, November 09, 2007

Things People Say (And Do!)

I've had a busier than usual month or so of catering recently.

Here, er hear (?), are some choice things heard:

- "It was costing me $3,200 for a round of golf"

- "When I was living in Indonesia, I would have paid $100 for a glass of water like this"

- "I'm holding out on my husband even though we are away from the kids this weekend. I'm pissed he doesn't help around the house more"

- Girl #1: "You should see how nice the men's bathrooms are!"
Girl #2: "It doesn't matter how nice a bathroom is, you can still do cocaine in it."

And some things seen:

- A group from Ohio at a wedding brought their own Ohio State beer coozies. No need for bev naps for these folks!

- The same group had a few people wearing necklaces made out of buckeyes. Or made from the nut from the buckeye tree. I plead total ignorance of such knowledge.

- And again, at the same wedding, during the break in "Hang On Sloopy" the crowd did this whole Y-M-C-A-esque shout out: O-H-I-O!

- A couple cupping each other's asses at the same time (and you guess it... it was at the same wedding!)

- Legendary soul/r&b beach music artists The Spinners performed

- George Dickel and pickle shots

If I remember anymore I'll be sure and add them...

What We Eat

Here's a peek at this past week's dinner menu:

Tuesday - San Francisco pork chops (a soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, dry sherry sauce) with Parmesan risotto and a pear, pine nuts, feta and mixed greens salad.

Wednesday - fish (cod deep fried in a ESB beer batter) & chips.

Thursday - bastardizing my mother-in-law's savory chili recipe which features red onion, garlic, celery and jalapeno (sauteed), ground beef and white corn, black and kidney beans. Topped with shredded sharp cheddar and sour cream and served with tortilla chips.

I try to cook from scratch as much as possible because a.) fresh seasonal products taste so much better b.) doing it yourself is cheaper.

Even something simple as lunch - where I usually buy cured meats like salami or Lebanon baloney as well as shaved ham or turkey and cheeses (Swiss, American and provolone) from the deli counter at my local grocery store - gets the do-it-yourself treatment. What's not to enjoy about buying some decent rolls from the bakery and then crafting your own hoagie? Just don't forget the pickle...

Sure there are times I fall back on chicken nuggets and sliced apple for the kids or maybe order out sushi for the wife and I. And there are times pizza becomes the quick & easy default meal (although I still buy the crust, sauce, cheese and fixings and then built it up myself) or a chicken mixed with pasta casserole but for the most part our dinners are made with tender loving care and because of this - because my sons see me making dinner and because sometimes they help make dinner - I think they are a little more open and aggressive with their eating habits than most of their peers.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Otherwordly Visitors


So we had visitors from various dimensions come to our house last night for Halloween.

I had this grand idea to plunk down some money for dry ice to add to the evening's vibe.

Only it turned into one big debacle.

You ever try to use dry ice?

Well in order to get the ice to "smoke" you need to put hot water on it and - depending upon the size of the chunk of dry ice ( was using pint glass size pieces)- you may get a good 5 minutes out of it.

So there I was running back and forth from the sink with hot water for my dry ice like every ten minutes or so. I felt like I was running food at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I stopped after about 45 minutes because you really take the thunder out of the scariness by popping out of your door with a pitcher full of hot water to pour on the ice; it surely doesn't set the mood.

It also occurred to me that I just might tap out the hot water and I really wanted to save that for my shower later in the evening. Not to mention, we're still pretty much in a drought here and pouring hot water on your dry ice seemed a bit gratuitous so I opted to end the whole thing pretty much before the trick or treaters arrived.

One neighbor joked that I'd be better off with a fog machine.

"You could get the band to pay for that right?" he said with a wry smile.

So I came to the conclusion that dry ice used as a spooky device (for longer than five minutes) is a useless propostion.

I also came to the conclusion that waiting for trick or treaters to come to your house is like waiting for a date - both never seem to come soon enough.
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