Tuesday, January 27, 2009

George Carlin: Saving the Planet

One of my favorite bits from the Legend, George Carlin, on a topic which, due to my day job, I tend to get caught up in on the small, local level. I needed the fresh perspective, given the time we live in these days. Give it a few minutes....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Comfort Food Weekend

Sometimes the weather is such that all you want to do is stay inside, point and laugh at your neighbor who is outside shoveling snow, and make some good food that fills you up and warms the cockles. I learned to love cooking when I was growing up from my mom, and the go-to guide for such dishes has been my mom's cookbook, a collection of some of my favorite recipes that mom would make growing up. She made this book for Lisa and gave it to her as a gift at her wedding shower. It's been used more than any other cookbook I have. So as a long, cold weekend at home loomed, I sat down and made up a list of 3-4 meals that I could make & chew on for the weekend, and then for lunches the rest of the week.

Kicking it off for a Saturday lunch watching basketball was one of my all-time favorites, Zuccini Casserole. People probably don't go out of their way to buy up this particular vegetable, but it's been a staple in my family for as long as I can remember, whether it was a gigantic one fresh from the garden, where we would bread some slices and fry them up, or smaller, thinner zuccini for a recipe like this. I've been eating it for as long as I can remember, and it's been one of those recipes that has never gotten old to me. Creamy, crunchy, beefy, cheesy goodness on a plate. I perfect kickoff to comfort food weekend.

Next up was a dish that I had made one other time, and fell in love with. All of us have our own interpretations of what Goulash should look and taste like. If it's anything like my mom's, it probably consists of some macaroni noodles, some ground beef, maybe some tomatoes and tomato soup, and whatever else you could throw in the pot. My new favorite take on Goulash is more of a traditional Hungarian variety, which is more of a stew than it is anything else. I make it with potatoes, instead of noodles. Typically the smaller, more flavorful sizes of potatoes work the best. Cut up some round steak, some carrots, onion, add plenty of Hungarian Paprika, and finish it with some cream and a dollop of sour cream on top. I can't rave about this stuff enough.

Morning came, and I had some leftover potatoes from the night before, so I had to start inventing something. I diced the potatoes up, boiled them and began working on some sort of country-style hash. I was envisioning one of those skillet breakfasts that you can get at a Perkin's or Denny's, I guess, minus the giant soup ladle of hollandaise sauce. Onion, bell pepper, and a little mushrooms & garlic, would definitely be in the mix, with some cayenne pepper and thyme for a little kick. Then I took two chicken breasts & diced them up pretty fine, sauteed, and added a rinsed can of black beans. Voila....A hash is born. a sprinkle of shredded co-Jack cheese, a couple of eggs over medium on top, with a sprinkling of fresh tomato, and there you go. A damn good pile of Sunday breakfast love, if I do say so my damn self.

I skipped one Sunday dinner, and we moved on to the evening, with the Grand Finale....the classic ham ball dinner. This recipe has been used in every potluck, church, and Boy Scout dinner function that I can remember. I'm sure this is universal recipe in every small town, regardless of what church denomination you choose. The beauty of a pan of these, glistening in their deliciously sweet glaze, is enough to make any fully-grown carnivore swoon. Perfect accompanyments would include mashed potatoes and green beans. Dinner roll optional.

So there you have it. Obviously it wasn't a weekend of calorie counting, but portion control was excercised. Okay, that's complete bullshit. I ate it all like a I was one year-old with zero regard for whatever shirt or floor I was spilling on.

While a post on comfort food seems borderline Martha Stewart, I will refrain from going completely over the top and providing recipes. (Sorry, Karen!!) You know where to find me if you're really in need, though.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Breaking News: Your Kids' Names Suck. Developing....

This has been a prevailing thought of mine for a while now, and I'm positive I'm not alone here. I'm going to try to keep my composure & not go into some long-winded tirade talking about the outrageousness that has become new baby names in the past decade. One of the reasons that I will try not to is that I have many friends who have small children, and there may or may not be a few with names that are so ridiculous that I need not bother getting pissed about them.....their children's own fate has been sealed with their own outlandish name. But one needn't go any further than their hometown newspaper's weekly supplement showing new births for that given week in their City, and simply marvel at the idiacy that are newborn names. Go ahead, pick your favorites, they're all there....I'll spare the innocent and spare you mine.

Now I'm not a parent yet, so if you feel as if I'm speaking out of turn on this, I'm only looking out for the innocent youth, who may be left to a life of ridicule and shame for the well-intentioned, yet misguided decisions of new parents desperately trying to make their child unique and beautiful with an interesting, memorable name. What I'm saying to you is....please stop this bullshit. And let me tell you why: Keelin and Schuyler.

The drive to work on a cold Tuesday morning in January was really no different from any other. After dropping off the car for an oil change, we cruised north up 10th street in Lincoln on our way to downtown. I crept up on a Mid-2000 model Toyota Camry, seemingly uninteresting compared to any other car on the road around us. But a series of decals in the back window announced to the world (at least the Lincoln commuting world) that Keelin and Schuyler were Klub Kicks' Mini and Senior Stars, respectively. Well isn't that just the sweetest sticker of soccer mom shit, huh??? What, was Koolin not bubbly enough?? Why not Kuulin? Too Russian, maybe... I really tried to get a picture of this, but it was not to be whilst driving (You're welcome). But I was worked up enough about the subject that I feel compelled to post regardless. And I know that there are even more utterly ridiculous names that are floating around out there. You can argue that the name Schuyler isn't that bad. I understand this, however, it's definitely lumped in with the ongoing, endless trend of crazy suburban names that didn't even exist in an adult's vernacular until circa 1995.

I'm going to take a series of deep breaths now, and calmly urge you, as parents, future parents, grandparents, etc.... to please.....please do not do this to your children. I know they're beautiful, special, unique kids. I know this is a very subjective, highly sensitive topic for many, and I'm positive that I'm offending people who are my core, microscopic readership base. All I'm saying is...don't put your kids down in the count on strikes right out of the birthing room. There's still room in the classrooms & on the playground for a Zachary, or a Meghan. So please....before you whittle down your naming lists, please think of Keelin and Schuyler, won't you?

One last note: If you ever name a child after any character from the shows Dawson's Creek, Charmed, or from any show ever aired on The WB, it's automatic grounds for a terminated friendship. And, I will punch your new son Pacey in the face, personally. So, for those of you who were looking for a good excuse.....there you go.

Oh, and Happy New Year!