Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Here Goes Nothing

When Asha Dornfest called for a return to blogging, I was all in. Years ago I enjoyed writing, but I enjoyed the blogging community even more. I miss the personal blogs that other people wrote. I was all set to blog once a day starting on November 1.

On November 1, I got anxious about having nothing to say. Then I left town for a weekend. Then I was busy. Now it's the 6th.

Today's motivation is disappointment, actually. Yesterday, in Houston, we voted on amendments to the state constitution, as well as city and school board positions. Lots of people and ideas I supported didn't win, or even make a particularly good show.

While working at a poll yesterday, I watched rich women flounce into the booth with notes on how to vote against income taxes. Over the weekend, I became ever more aware of how many people I know who support Donald Trump. The magnitude and volume of his wrongness overwhelms my ability to articulate it, and I feel like I'm doing nothing for the cause of good in the world.

Last week Deadspin, one of my favorite sites for 14 years, stopped publishing when the editorial and writing staff left en masse. For years they had been pushing back against an ill-advised direction from the parent company to avoid any non-sports (especially political) content. Finally the dam broke, and the Deadspin I knew and loved is no more.

But the remarkable thing about the end of Deadspin is that more than a dozen writers and journalists walked away from their paying jobs because they could no longer perform them with integrity.

And one of the best things about the recent political season in Houston was Crystal Pletka, a working mother living in a heavily conservative district on the west side of town. Progressive activists called for someone--anyone--to run against the heavily-favored conservative. She stepped up to do it. For all her trouble--filing, fundraising, reporting, campaigning--she got nothing in return.

So this morning I'm convinced of two things:

1) Generation X will spend our entire lives on our knees, begging for a living wage, healthcare, debt relief, and the rights of the oppressed, even if we'll mostly have to settle for throwing stones at authority.
2) This is the only way for decent people to live.

So I'm back, on this site brought to you by the evil overlords of Google.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

Did you hear about this? In addition to the annual appearance of Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frankenberry, this year General Mills brought back Fruity Yummy-Mummy and Frute Brute! I don't remember either of them from their original run, but you bet your sweet ass I bought them as soon as they appeared at Kroger.

Frute Brute is "cherry" flavored; if you like artificial cherry, you will probably like it. Fruity Yummy Mummy is supposedly the only orange-cream flavored cereal. It's pretty good, too. You should give it a shot.

I still hate the marshmallows in all the Monster cereals and I considered whether I could pay somebody on Fiverr to remove them for me. But it's not too cumbersome--if you're eating this, it's not likely you have places to be, amirite?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Finding New Movies for the Fam

Asha had a good post up the other day, reminding us to flex our library cards this summer when looking for DVDs. I'm having some luck finding titles at the library that were mentioned on GKids.

GKids is the site of the New York International Children's Film Festival. They feature foreign movies made for children that didn't get a wide release in the US. They're big on Hayao Miyazaki/ Studio Ghibli movies, like Ponyo and Kiki's Delivery Service, of course. I think this might be where I first heard about A Town Called Panic, which is funny and quirky and beloved in this house, yet absolutely not something I would have known about without GKids.

Now, if Letitia were here to keep me honest, I would have to admit that the kids aren't always enthusiastic about the movies I pull up from that site. Chiefly they are resistant to any movie without a Happy Meal tie-in, or not titled Shrek 4: Yet More Booger Jokes. That's why we had to institute a 10-minute rule: you watch it for 10 minutes, and if you still hate it, you can opt out. [Why yes, I have found a way to make movie time a chore; did you doubt that I had it in me?]

Also, I am probably the last person to know about this, but I've recently started using Commonsense Media's site to figure out if a movie is appropriate for my kids. For example, I was sure E&B would love Moonrise Kingdom, because I loved it so much--and there was really only one (potentially) objectionable scene, in my memory. But looking over their review, I realized that they will probably enjoy it much more in a couple of years, so why not save it?

I resisted Commonsense Media for a while, because I thought it might be run by insane fundies, but it turns out that's not the case. The site has also been helpful in pointing me toward some iPad apps that I didn't know were out there.

Finally, yes, we're seeing movies at the megaplex, too. I'm not trying to be this guy. Last week Papi took one for the team and escorted E&B to see Epic. This was poor planning on my part--it means I'm on the hook for Smurfs 2.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kari's Skeleton Swimsuit

We are watching last week's Mythbusters. Kari is wearing an amazing swimsuit for some kind of sauna test (not to worry about exploitation, of course: Grant and Tory are naked). Anyway, Becca and I are in love with the suit. Somebody asked her about it on Twitter--it's from an Australian company called Black Milk.

They have lots of goth suits. I guess Becca's set for her teens.

N.B. to Sara--There's a Steampunk version, too:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Catholic Cuisine

This was a very exciting discovery. I am not Catholic, but I have long admired their dedication to celebrating the saints of the church through pastry and fried foods. Of course I had heard of King Cake for Epiphany, but how about:

Pentecost Pie

Probably less tasty, but visually way impressive, FLAMING Pentecost cupcakes

Or these Pentecost brunch ideas. All red food!

And the Cocoa Krispie Treat grotto for Our Lady of Guadalupe? Oh yeah.

FWIW, the Feast of St. Nacho is on July 12.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Secret Menu Items

There was a great thread on Reddit last week: "Fast food employees: what is the best thing on your restaurant's menu that no one ever orders?" 

Now I ask you, is that most-Reddit question ever? Anyway, it pointed me to my new favorite thing: Pineapple Dr. Pepper from Sonic. There is REAL pineapple in it! I mean, it's life-changing. [The Pineapple Diet Dr. Pepper, fortunately, is also good.]

Sonic wants you to use this as your wallpaper.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Vinegar Valentines

I don't know if this is the same one.

Over at Collector's Weekly there is a post today about Vinegar Valentines. I never heard of them before today, but I think that must be what my Grandmother received one year as a kid. She told me that her maternal grandmother gave her a Valentine that said something about being an Old Maid. It broke her little heart so much that she remembered it decades later. Can you even imagine doing such a thing to a little girl? And listen, my Grandmother was no pansy, either.

Just in case you ever thought that the Internet invented rudeness.

HT: Sarah Pavis @ Kottke

Saturday, February 9, 2013

What mamacita is...


Did you see Rachel Dratch on Billy on the Street? Hilarious.


The Real Husbands of Hollywood

It's a sendup of Real Housewives shows. Robin Thicke: gorgeous AND funny. And JB Smoove is always a plus.

Listening to

Thrift Shop

Water skiing + fur coats = best video EVER

Spin magazine had the dumbest review ever of the song. I don't know about you, but any time a music writer uses the word sustainability, I start looking for the exits.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Houston Mini Maker Faire

We went to the Houston Mini Maker Faire last month. The kids had fun. Papi and I were SO excited about it. We planned everything in advance--maps and tickets loaded on our phones; clothes and backpacks laid out the night before. I was expecting there to be a massive crowd, because it was going to be full of fun and educational stuff, but it was definitely not overwhelming. Their loss!

Personally, I was mostly interested in the food trucks: Monster PBJ, Coreanos, Waffle Bus, Bernie's Burger Bus.

Monster PBJ has, hands down, the best graphics. Becca requested a Classic PB + strawberry jam on white with sliced strawberries and Nutella, cut into FOURTHS thankyouverymuch. She would not so much as let me look at it until she got bored with eating it. I can confirm that the crust was tasty.

I was really looking forward to trying Coreanos, but I was a little disappointed in what I got. It turned out to be one of those humongous burritos that can't even fit in your mouth, and it wasn't anything special.

Waffle Bus made great waffles. I got a single bite of Emmet's. Bernie's Burger Bus I've had before, and it's really good. Great buns.

So anyway, the Maker Faire/ Aspie Convention:

I was mentally keeping track of entries in the Nerdiest T-shirt Contest.

This guy was an early favorite.

But I finally had to go with this one.

There was a booth featuring souped-up Nerf guns and a firing range.

 Which gun do you want to try, Rebecca?

The biggest one, of course.

This one is a little more manageable.

Emmet liked the robotics. These kids were in a competition to build a robot that could shoot a basketball.

The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir art car made an appearance. "What can be more annoying than an animated singing fish? Try 250 of them bolted to a Volvo and singing opera." All the kids LOVED this.

I'm so glad we went, even though I wasn't really in my element. If your little nerdlets need to find their people, get them to a Maker Faire near you.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

What are we making for the Super Bowl? Part II

photo via

I emailed my pal Emily for some advice about San Francisco food. Here's what she said:
How fun is this! Let's crab dip with sourdough? Anything Chinese, pot stickers?  Shrimp cocktail, artichokes, oysters. We are also the home of green goddess dressing, red vines, Irish coffee and the mai tai. Rice a Roni :) And garlic fries!
I also found recipes for cream of artichoke soup and cream of Anaheim pepper soup, which are sometimes combined at this restaurant outside SF. I think I can get on board with that.

So we will have:

Cheetos with Old Bay (B)
Cream of Artichoke / Anaheim pepper soup (SF)
Ricearoni (for Emmet) (SF)
Crab cakes (B)
Garlic fries (SF)
Berger cookies (B)

I think I can scare up an Anchor Steam beer, but Natty Boh might be a little more difficult.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What are we making for the Super Bowl? Part I

So, we have San Francisco vs. Baltimore in the Super Bowl. I asked my friend Meg of Pigtown*Design for advice about what they eat in Charm City.


I was disappointed to discover just how much love your fair city has for mayonnaise. It's in everything! I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to this subject of Super Bowl food. The Pit Beef recipe looked intriguing (until I saw the Tiger Sauce recipe with m-a-y-o). The crab pretzels also looked good up until the m---- part. One time I made Berger cookies, but I was a little disappointed with how they turned out. Maybe it was a bad recipe?


 First, looking at your Pinterest board, no one knows anything about Smearcase. To me, it sounds like some ghastly OB/GYN sort of problem.

Second, what's the matter with mayo?! Food of the gods - especially Duke's or Hellmans.
photo via Roopa's twitter feed
Third. Here's the secret recipe: CHEETOS + OLD BAY! Yep, that's it. I've given you the secret of the known universe and now you can entertain with abandon. Everyone here puts Old Bay on everything, and many years ago, we discovered the secret of happiness: Old Bay on Cheetos.

You'd probably hate hot crab dip, given that it's about 1/3 mayonaise, but it is at I've ever been to.
The Cheetos + Old Bay actually sounds good. And I forgot all about Southsides, which I heard about from you and loved. Thanks, Hon!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Latest Kitchen Hijinks

On Monday I wanted to make Hawaiian food in honor of the President's inauguration. After rejecting spam masubi and macaroni salad (hurl), I decided that I had everything on hand to make chicken katsu.

It's essentially a breaded, pan-fried chicken cutlet. Nothing too extraordinary, although I had never used panko before. Every recipe for the sauce said to mix ketchup with soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, but those instructions were a bit of a let-down. Also, I couldn't see just pouring ketchup all over the chicken like gravy, and that's what the pictures were showing. So I finally decided to try and make Japanese tonakatsu sauce, which involves applesauce, grated carrots, grated onions, tomato paste, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. And which ultimately tasted like grainy ketchup. Ugh.

chicken katsu

More successful was dessert, which I didn't get a picture of. This is chocolate haupia pie. Haupia is a flan-like coconut dessert popular in Hawaii; some GENIUS had the idea to layer it on top of a regular chocolate pie. It was pretty good.

It's worth noting that my friend Cayce, who lived in Hawaii during middle school, suggested Huli Huli Chicken. She says that they sold it there for school fundraisers, the way we would sell barbecue here. Huli Huli Chicken looks way better than what I made. I didn't have the ingredients on hand Monday for the inauguration, but maybe on Sunday for the Pro Bowl...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's colder than a welder's ass here

I made this stew and now I'm telling everybody about it. You HAVE to make it. This is Ruth Reichl's Pork-Tomatillo-and-Dark-Beer stew. Now, let's all feel a little sorry for Ruth, because she has some labor-intensive stovetop method of making it. She doesn't realize that you can just put all the ingredients in a slow cooker and call it a day in the kitchen. Here's the lowdown (seriously make it SOON).

Pork, Tomatillo and Dark Beer Stew 

1 pound of tomatillos, husked and cut into quarters
1 bottle of dark beer
12 ounces of fresh orange juice
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
2 pounds of pork shoulder, cut into hefty cubes
salt and pepper for the pork
10 cloves of whole peeled garlic (I used less—maybe 5 cloves)
2 large onions, chopped
2 whole jalapenos (take them out before serving)
1.5 cups cooked (or canned) black beans

Put all of this into the slow cooker and cook it until it’s done. Serve over rice, and if you like, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and a dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Let's start with this

I was on the Weather Underground site this morning (flash floods in Houston) and it turns out they have t-shirts for sale. Is this not the cutest thing ever?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Every now and then I get to leave the house.

When I was a kid, my mom made special efforts to get us all cultured and stuff. We went to any and every play that was put on in the Golden Triangle, and often when we went to Austin we would see something at Southwestern or at St. Edward's. Among the ones that stand out:

My first concert, Billy Ocean at the Beaumont Civic Center. Lots of fainting black ladies. I was saucer-eyed. I think I was 10.

The Wizard of Oz at the Port Arthur Civic Center, where mom says we watched the special effects guy much more than the play.

Some retelling of Hamlet featuring a flatulent Claudius, at some theater in Austin. There were maybe 20 people in the audience, and we were 6 of them, but we walked out during Act I.
And now, even though I have to remind myself to do it, I like getting out there to see what Houston has going on.

Rossini's Otello, presented by Opera in the Heights

So it turns out that Rossini's opera gutted the character of Iago, which is kind of a disappointment. In this case, it made the opera strain even more than operas normally do to make sense. Why does Othello believe Iago? Why is Iago such a meany? Why don't these people just talk things out like normal humans? But plotholes are a feature of opera, not a bug, I guess.

My biggest beef with the production was the director's choice of setting. She decided to "update" the story by setting it among mafiosi in 1985 Venice. I didn't think this added anything to the production, and it certainly had a deletrious effect on the costumer, who interpreted the setting with clothes from 1995 New Jersey. [Most distracting to me were Desdemona's d'Orsay pumps. How can you stomp around onstage for 3 hours in d'Orsays?] Lackluster sets, always a problem at Lambert Hall, did nothing to redeem the setting or the costumes.

In spite of this, I have to tell you that Opera in the Heights is almost a miracle. The singing is absolutely first rate, especially Elmiro, sung by bass-baritone Joseph Rawley; he was enthralling. I was also amazed at what they were able to pull off in such a tiny space. The 27-piece orchestra was crammed, cheek-by-jowl, at the side of the stage, and in order to get to the bathroom you had to walk between the harp and the piano. But all of the musicians played beautifully.

To be honest, I didn't even think I liked opera--I went along with someone out of a sense of obligation, and when I saw that the piece would run 3 full hours, I nearly bailed. But I enjoyed it immensely, and I will absolutely go back for Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, opening in November.

David Mamet's November, presented by the Alley Theatre (sic)

David Mamet is known for being hilarious and profane. I heartily endorse this, of course. November is about a lame-duck US President on the eve of an election, trying to hustle money for himself and his campaign. There are only five members of the cast, and the Alley produced the play in the round, on the Neuhaus Stage. The dialogue was very funny. Some bits were groaners, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. One peeve: the audience felt like they had to titter every time an actor dropped an f-bomb. Grow up, people. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

I'm skipping Death of a Salesman at the Alley, mostly because it's such a bummer, and the hoary old Christmas Carol they do every year. I've also seen Santaland Diaries (and it wasn't half as fun as rereading the book), so the next thing I'll see at the Alley will be Clybourne Park.

Agatha Christie's Black Coffee, presented by the Alley Theatre (sic)

I saw this one in August. I thought that production was a little sloppy, and it definitely wasn't peak-form Agatha Christie, but it's always fun to see something in the Summer Chills series. And truthfully, the theater was glacial that night.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What mamacita is...

It's the new Downton Abbey! Or so the Beeb would have you think. Did you watch it?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Family Movie Night

The Karate Kid

The kids were soooo into it. Emmet kept calling the bad guy a "jerkwad."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What mamacita is...


I'm planning to read travelogues this summer. This one is pretty good.


Light, sunny, perfect.


I can't believe I hadn't seen this one before. Perfect, classic Woody Allen (how I miss him).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pickled Shrimp

I've been reading The Pat Conroy Cookbook, and let me tell you it is a great read. But at a later time; first: my story.

I was home (in BC) for Mother's Day. I was walking to my parents' house from my in-laws' house when I saw a woman wandering around the yard in a conical straw hat and a surgical mask. She was asking if anyone wanted to buy shrimp--her husband had been out on the boat that morning, and she had a pickup bed full of ice chests. I had to weigh my sister Peetie's warnings about botulism against $5.50/lb.

So I drove home with two adults, two kids, a yellow lab, 20 pounds of shrimp on ice and three buckets of iris bulbs from my mom packed into the Ford Escape. Man, I love my car.

The good news is that I haven't died yet--so far it seems that the shrimp are fine. And last weekend I finally got to make pickled shrimp.

Pickled shrimp are evidently a Low Country thing, but they need to be an everywhere-people-sell-shrimp-out-of-their-pickups thing, because they are delicious. I made took them to the swim meet on Saturday, which you might optimistically call a picnic but is actually more like sitting in a damn sauna for six hours. So yeah, serve chilled, with Lay's potato chips, frozen grapes and iced tea.

Pickled Shrimp

Adapted from The Pat Conroy Cookbook by Pat Conroy and Suzanne Williamson Pollak 

1 onion, thinly sliced
4 bay leaves, crushed
One 2 oz. bottle capers, drained and coarsely chopped [Go ahead and add in the juice, too.]
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice [I put the spent lemon halves in the jar with the rest of the mix.]
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic [I interpreted this as "one clove garlic, peeled and smashed."]
1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds large (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined

Mix all ingredients except the shrimp in a large heatproof glass or ceramic bowl.

In a stockpot over high heat, bring 4 quarts abundantly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the shrimp and cook until just pink, about 2 minutes. (The shrimp will continue to "cook" in the marinade). [For real, 2 minutes is all it takes.] Drain and immediately toss in the marinade.

Bring to room temperature, cover tightly, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pinterest Pet Peeves

I'm going to have to unfollow some people today.

1. A picture of a cup of tea sitting on a bare, painted table--why did you even pin that? It's just a stupid cup of tea. Yes, you're so very pure of heart and unmaterialistic. SIMPLIFY, as your innumerable wall hangings say.

2. Equal and opposite: freeze-ahead Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole sounds hella-gross.

3. Who the fuck buys dryer sheets*? And why would I want to know any "other" uses for them? *If it's you: stop it immediately.

4. Thanks for sharing your "Inspiration" board full of celebrity misquotes, but I evidently know more about men, love and life than you will ever learn.

I'm sure there are more. What are your Pinterest pet peeves?

Follow Me on PinterestFollow me, if you like.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

April in ... Houston

I have this nail polish on my toes right now. It's making me so happy to look at it, I even went totally crazy and did my fingernails, too.

Not my hand. Via.
Yes, it is ridiculously expensive, but it's not like Becca's going to college:

"Rebecca continues to struggle with appropriate school behavior. She has a discipline referral form in her backpack today. She was sent to the office for yelling in the hallways during STAAR testing. While in the office, she attempted to hit another student to “get some payback for [her] brother.” She then ran out of the office without permission when a parent opened the door and she thought she wasn’t being watched."

Monday, March 19, 2012

What I ate for dinner, in great detail:

This is probably the first thing I've cooked in six months that I could get excited about. This morning I had about five minutes to get something in the crockpot before the entire day went off the rails, so I put a couple of pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in with an envelope of Wick Fowler's Taco Seasoning and a can of beer. Some time later we had chicken chalupas for Taco Night. I am a HERO.

In case you can't make sense of the photo: a chalupa shell, refried beans [Are you the person who keeps demanding that stores sell fat-free refried beans? Because if you are, I'm not sure we can be friends.], chicken, tomatoes, green onions, the cheese that Emmet didn't immediately filch from the plate, plain Greek yogurt (if you're not the dumbass who accidentally bought yogurt with honey, because that really wouldn't work),

and this Valentina hot sauce, which is awesome.

Serve on your finest Dixie plate with a beer, a Dark & Stormy, or you know what? fuck it: rum.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Valentines Dance

The PTA had a Valentine Dance fundraiser on Friday night. Emmet's "date" was another fifth grader, Sarah. She was on the t-ball team I coached years ago. She's also a member of the junior geological society. But here's the killer: she was so excited when she told me that she was wearing the lip gloss and the perfume she got for Christmas. OMG HOW CUTE IS SHE?!

Speaking of cute...Becca went solo, but she looked adorable, and I think she had fun. At dinner, after the dance, she showed us her new moves--the Chicken Dance and the Electric Slide.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Best Facebooks Statuses I've Read Today

Because I can't make fun of these people on Facebook...

Angela F_____
I'll be glad when this rash is completely gone.
Mitch H______
A Communist, a Muslim, and an Illegal Immigrant walk into a bar.
The Bartender says.....
"What are you drinking, Mr. President?"

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spoiler Alert: It's Superglue

I tried this new nail stuff: NutraNail Gel Perfect UV-Free Gel-Color. I honestly think it's superglue. At least, that's what it smelled like. And the results?

Not good! I followed the package instructions on my right hand, and these instructions on the left. The polish looked okay, though it was a bit streaky, and maybe not as shiny as a salon manicure.

Unfortunately, immediately after I washed my hair two days later, all the polish started chipping off. It was obvious that water got underneath the polish. Also, in spite of already being perhaps 50% chipped off, it was still a bit of work to get the rest of it off.

Pros: at $12, it's cheaper than a Shellac manicure
Cons: at $12, it's still a waste of money.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Soup Swap 2012

Finally had a second Soup Swap on Sunday. The last one was a couple of years ago. I thought there was some demand for a second one, but the turnout was kind of disappointing. HOWEVAH, here is the email I sent to everyone with recipes--thought you might be interested:

Hi everyone! Thanks to all of you who came to the soup swap. I had a great time, and I can't wait to try your soups.

We talked at the party about having other kinds of swaps--casserole, desserts, etc. Later last night I had an idea: since it's hard for everyone to get together, maybe we could share a monthly email with everyone's favorite new recipe in it. So let's say on February 20th or so, I would send an email to all of you requesting recipes. You would then respond directly to me with your new favorite recipe--send me a link to the recipe, or send the text of the recipe. [Just don't "reply all"--we would quickly be drowning in email.] On the first of the month, I can send the compilation of recipes to everyone subscribed.

The recipes could be for anything--a new drink, snack, casserole, soup, entree, vegetable--whatever you got especially excited about in the previous month. Anything that was so good it made you want to shout from the rooftops and tell everyone how awesome it was. It could also be a family favorite for an upcoming holiday; for example, at the end of February you could send your favorite St. Patrick's Day recipe, or something like that.

Anyway, think about that idea and whether or not you'd want to be on the email list. In the meantime, as promised, the recipes we collected yesterday are listed below.

See you soon,

Simply Recipes' Chipotle Pumpkin Soup (from Annie

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (from Annie)

The Homesick Texan's Red Posole (from Letitia)

Letitia made a couple of changes to that recipe: "She has a smoked hamhock and ground cloves in hers, but I can't find the ground cloves and think a ham hock might make it taste like an ashtray."

Pam Anderson's Creamy Chili-Corn Soup with Chicken and Black Beans (from Terri)
PS--You should be reading Terri's blog--she's always making something good.

Cook's Illustrated Artichoke Soup a la Barigoule
(aka Artichoke Fancy Soup) (from Jamie)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 (9-ounce) boxes frozen artichokes, thawed and patted dry
• 12 ounces white mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed and sliced thin
• 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced 1/4 inch thick, and rinsed thoroughly
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
• 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
• 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
• 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
• 3 cups vegetable broth
• 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 2 bay leaves
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon or basil leaves
• Salt and ground black pepper

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Lightly brown the artichokes, 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, cover, and cook until they have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until the mushrooms are dry and browned, about 5 minutes longer.
  3. Stir in the leek and butter and cook until the leek is softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, anchovies, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute.
  4. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and vegetable broth, smoothing out any lumps. Stir in the parsnips, bay leaves, and half of the browned artichokes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook until the parsnips are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Off the heat, remove the bay leaves. Stir in the remaining browned artichokes, cream, and tarragon, and let stand off the heat until the artichokes are heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Serves 6.
Baked Potato Soup (from Biz)

Ingredients (Please note that I tend to cook more by eye than by actual measurements, so you may need to make some slight adjustments.  Sorry)
  • 1 pound Russet baking potatoes (if your potatoes weigh more than a pound, use itI)
  • 1/2 C chopped white onion
  • 1/4 C finely diced celery
  • 3 TBSP butter (sometimes I use less butter and supplement with olive oil)
  • 3 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill (fresh dill is better if you have it.  Note: you'll use more fresh than dried.  yummy alternative: fresh chives.  I just always use dill)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 1/4 C milk
  • 3/4 C chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • Bacon (crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled) for garnish
  • Sliced green onion for garnish
1. Scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush; pat dry. Prick potatoes with a fork. Bake in a 425 degree F oven for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender; cool (Cooking them in the microwave works fine, too. In fact, the flesh scoops out more easily after being microwaved). Cut each potato lengthwise. Scoop out white portion of each potato. Break up any large pieces of potato, mashing with a fork. Discard potato skins (or do what I do and eat them with a bit of sour cream. Yum!)
2. In a large saucepan cook the white onion and celery in butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour, dill, salt, and pepper. Add milk and chicken stock all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly (usually 12 to 15 minutes). Add the potato and 1 cup of the cheese; stir until cheese melts.
3. Top each serving with the remaining cheese and garnish with bacon and green onion.
4. Makes approx. 5 to 6 servings of 1/2 cup portions (but come on, who really only eats a half cup?)

Chicken Corn Chowder (from Angela P.)

Fry 2 slices of bacon in a large soup pot until crunchy.  Take the bacon out (reserve for garnish if you wish).  Sautee 1 onion, chopped until soft.  Add 1 chopped red pepper, 1 jalapeno, and salt and pepper to taste.   Sautee for a few minutes.  Add 1 bag frozen corn and 1 potato diced (I use frozen hashbrown potatoes).  Add 3 cups chicken stock and simmer until the potatoes are soft.  Blend about half of the soup in the blender and return to the pot.  Add 2 cups milk and 2 cups chopped cooked chicken.   Garnish with the bacon and some cilantro.

**I play with the seasoning…I usually add cumin and cayenne pepper.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (Mamacita)

chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
andouille sausage, sliced
3 big handsful of flour (enough to cover bottom of pan 1” thick)
vegetable oil
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped

1. Brown the regular onions and remove them to another plate. In the same pan, brown sausage, then remove to a second plate. Brown chicken in same pan and remove it to plate with sausage.

2. Using pan drippings and additional vegetable oil as necessary, use flour to make roux. Brown roux, stirring constantly, until it's the color of a Hershey bar.

3. In the meantime, make the stock using chicken broth or water, plus bay leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne and Louisiana Hot Sauce (or Tabasco) and the browned chicken.  Bring all of that to a boil, then add green peppers, onions, celery, and garlic.

4. Just before the roux is ready, remove all chicken from broth.  Add the roux into boiling chicken broth and let that go until it's sufficiently thick and dark.  Pick the chicken from the bones and return it to the broth; then add the sausage.  Remove the gumbo from heat and add chopped green onions.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If You're a Good American Don't Read This

I'm shamelessly copying this from my friend Terri at A Girl in the South. SOPA is bad, m'kay? However, I'm not going on strike, because ... who suffers from that besides me? It seems to me that we would only be striking against ourselves, which is kinda nuts. Also, I don't know if I can get through a day without the Internet.

Because Censorship Is Never Okay
No recipes for Wednesday.

In solidarity and protest against SOPA and PIPA, A Girl in the South is joining the big wigs of the internets like RedditWikipediaBoing Boing and hundreds (if not thousands) of other sites and blogs by going on strike tomorrow, January 18th from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) could have a devastating effect on numerous websites, even little ones like ourselves. We are taking a stand against Censorship and urging everyone to educate themselves on this bill and contact your representatives if you agree that SOPA is a really bad fucking idea.
Why is it so bad? (Excerpt taken from here)
The broad definitions in the bill create tremendous uncertainty for nearly every site online. This sounds like hyperbole, but it is not. Defenders of the bill like to claim that it is “narrowly focused” on foreign rogue infringing sites. Nothing could be further from the truth. While PIPA targets only foreign sites, the mechanism by which it does so is to put tremendous compliance and liability on third party service providers in the US. SOPA goes even further in expanding the private right of action to domestic sites as well. We’ve already seen how such laws can be abused by looking at how frequently false takedown claims are made under the existing DMCA. Of course, under the DMCA, just the content is blocked. Under SOPA all money to a site can be cut off. Under PIPA sites will just end up in court. Or, with both laws, an Attorney General can take action leading US companies to have to effectively act as network nannies trying to keep infringement from being accessible. None of this is good for anyone building a startup company these days. The massive uncertainty around this, combined with the need for a huge legal department sitting in “the garage” as a startup begins, will certainly slow down the pace of innovation in the US, while likely driving it elsewhere.
While it’s true that our President has said he will not allow the SOPA bill to pass (but PIPA is still alive and kicking), it’s important that our government realize that we will not tolerate their efforts to take away our freedom of speech. Copyright infringement is a shitty thing, without a doubt, but these two bills are the absolutely dead wrong way to handle this.

List of sites joining the strike - here 
Joining in the blackout? Register here We encourage anyone who wishes to participate to join in the blackout.
Find more information about SOPA herehere and here. Oh, and even though this is and not meant to be taken seriously, here is a very funny and alarmingly true possibility with PIPA/SOPA.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Own Best-of 2011

And now, a personal list:

Favorite New Book: Bossypants
Favorite New-to-Me Book: the Canal House Cooking series
Biggest Disappointment: Cooking 1-2-3 by Rozanne Gold

Favorite Current Show: Community
Favorite New-to-me Show: Party Down
Biggest Disappointment: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  It was never highbrow, but it's gotten so disgusting I can't even watch it anymore. Runner-up: The Norm McDonald Show.

Favorite New Movie:  I Am Love, though admittedly it's mostly for the sets and the clothes.
Biggest Disappointment: TIE! Bridesmaids--I probably shouldn't have built it up so much in my mind beforehand. The scene in the wedding dress shop was unwatchable, and the rest was pretty uneven. Midnight in Paris--Straight out of the disappointing Woody Allen cannon of misogyny and white people problems. You have to keep reminding yourself of the good times...

Favorite New Documentary: Bill Cunningham New York. [Was this the only new documentary I saw? I mean, it was fine, but not really thrilling.]

Favorite New-to-Me Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Biggest Disappointment: Art 21. Big snoozer.

Favorite New-to-Me Record: Jeff Weiss' Passion of the Weiss: Candy Cane Children mix of White Stripes B-sides, live performances and other "rarities."

Favorite New-to-Me Drink: Torrontes wine (from Argentina)
Favorite New-to-Me Food: The Fine Cheese Co.'s Charcoal Crackers

Favorite New-to-Me Beauty Thing: Maybelline Define-a-Brow pencil in Dark Blonde.
Biggest Disappointment: Avene Retrinal .05 joined a long line of products that have failed to change my life.

Favorite New-to-Me Shoes: I tried Birkenstocks this year and haven't looked back.

Favorite Like-New Magazine: Martha Stewart Living with Pilar Guzman as editor.

Favorite New Website: Pinterest
Favorite New-to-Me Website: The Last Psychiatrist. I don't always agree with him, but his posts on mental hygiene, in particular, are absolutely fascinating.
Biggest Disappointment: Google+. A huge waste of time that broke up my sharefam on Google Reader. G+ will be dead within a year, but things will never go back to the way they were; an object lesson in leaving well enough alone.

Favorite New-to-Me Parenting Thing, Part I: Listening to Disney Radio. I am alarmed and ashamed at how much I enjoy this. The music is garbage, but I love watching the kids get excited about it, and watching them dance.
Favorite New-to-Me Parenting Thing, Part II: Ms. Twixt: Positive Experiences for Tween Girls has me actually looking forward to the next few years instead of dreading them
Biggest Disappointment: Family Therapy. Not moving the ball forward.

Favorite New Kid Movie: The Muppets, obvs. If I asked my kids they might vote for Chipwrecked (which I, mercifully, did not see); then I would have to disown them.
Favorite New-to-Us Kid Thing: The Muppet Christmas Carol-- I guess I watched it 100 years ago, but I was surprised at how good it was when we watched it last month (six or eight times).
Biggest Disappointment: I'm putting The Secret of the Kells here because while I loved it, it scared the shit out of Emmet; he barely watched any of it and he still had nightmares about it.