Monday, March 30, 2009


Ok, let’s be honest. Were you listening to Jimi Hendrix out of the womb? Did you start your musical appreciation with The Velvet Underground? Were your first words, “Turn that easy listening crap off. Mommy!”? Because for me, it’s No, no, and no. I didn’t start out this cool…cool being a relative term and all. I grew up listening to what my mom put on the stereo or what my best friend’s mom played on the kitchen radio.

Despite the face that almost everyone in my family (well…not my dad) is musical to some extent, we really didn’t obsess over music during my childhood. Granted, my oldest brother is enough older than I am for me not to really have been exposed to his music during my most formative periods but later he would introduce me to some good stuff. But the only thing I really remember him listening to when I was little was Olivia Newton John. Not that Grease stuff either, the Please Mr. Please stuff. And my mom was all about Jim Croce and Paul Simon.

I didn’t grow up on the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, although someone in my house had a copy of Let it Bleed because I remember being amazed by the cover…still am. I suspect my mother still wouldn’t be able to name all the members of either band. My dad listens to Wagnerian opera, John Philip Sousa, Beethoven and Japanese drummers. I did hear a lot of marching band music…a lot. But that was pretty much it. So when Facebook added this “Five Albums that shaped you” thing…well…you want to see what really shaped me? Because now I listen to music, all kinds of music but then…

Yeah, that’s right, you see what I am talking about…you recognize some of those, don’t you? And if you are that much cooler than me, well let me illuminate you as to what the hip kids of the early 70’s were listening to. From left to right you have: The Muppet Movie Soundtrack, The Monkees, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band MOVIE SOUNDTRACK (i.e. NOT THE BEATLES), Andy Gibb’s Shadow Dancing, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Theme and Variations, The Purple Puzzle Tree, Supertramp-Breakfast in America, McCartney II, K-Tel’s Songbird collection, Donny Osmond’s Singles and Shaun Cassidy.

You heard me. That’s what I listened to. And I am only slightly ashamed. Not really ashamed, just…well…honest. I was shaped by easy listening, kids Christian education albums, and bad movie soundtracks (The Muppet Movie was not bad, Sgt. Pepper was…not good…oh, and I forgot the soundtrack to the Raggedy Ann and Andy movie!) not the White Album. Don’t get me wrong, I love the White Album but I am guessing I never heard the whole thing until I was…in college maybe?

I remember listening to the radio. I remember Terry Gibbs, Eddie Rabbitt, and Crystal Gayle. I can probably sing you all the words of the “Piña Colada Song” or any number of Barry Manilow tunes. I listened to Super Chicken on the radio and I listened to the Kingston Trio at Christmas time. I LIKED ABBA IN AN UNIRONIC WAY. I STILL DO!

As a pre-teen and teenager, I was exposed to a lot more music. I played in the jazz band, the marching band and the concert band. I danced to disco, classical and showtunes. I watched the Muppet Show and learned about Alice Cooper (whom I later met). My friends and I bought Queen albums and I won an 8-track player in a contest and got Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac and the REAL Sgt. Pepper for Christmas that year…on 8-track, yes.

I get the idea behind that little Facebook app and I tried to turn it into “5 albums that mean a lot to me” or “5 albums that I could listen to right now” but it didn’t feel right. It felt…dishonest. It felt like a betrayal of all that was good and pure and Osmond in the world.

And as for those albums in the picture, I own three of them on cd. But there are a few more I will get eventually…I’ll leave it to your imagination as to which ones.

For the record, the K-tel Songbird album playlist is as follows:
Every Woman in the World-Air Supply
How ‘Bout Us?-Champaign
Crazy Love-Poco
Games-Phoebe Snow
Together-(I think it’s by a band called Tierra but I can’t read the printing)
Biggest Part of Me-Ambrosia
Crying-Don McClain
More Than I Can Say-Leo Sayer (I still love this song)
Looking For Love-Johnny Lee
The Winner Takes it All-ABBA
Fool In Love with You-Jim Photoglo (Can that be right? Photoglo?)
Killing Time-Susan Anton and Fred Knoblock
Her Town Too-James Taylor and JD Souther
Somebody’s Knockin’-Terri Gibbs

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I know everyone who cooks loves to complain about Sandra Lee and her Semi-Homemade show. I watch it. I am fairly frequently horrified by the ideas she has. But I fully support the concept. 70 percent storebought , 30 percent home made isn’t perfect, no. But it’s certainly better than 100% drivethrough. And it’s a good way to start if you really aren’t much of a cook. So, no, I don’t take issue with it, but I do hope that it’s a learning tool. I mean I use canned beans all the time. Have I used dried beans? Yes, I have. And I like dried beans but it’s pretty amazing that I remember pants most days so let’s not push it, ok. I don’t want to be out a dinner just because I forgot to put the beans to soak. Have I made my own bread? Yep, many, many times. And I love it. But do I still buy sliced sandwich bread? Oh hells yes.

I enjoy a baking challenge. Just yesterday I was reading a recipe for croissants and I thought…hey…I should…no. No! NO! But you know I will someday. I like to try stuff and I like to bake and I wish all my food was perfect and home made and organic and vegan…but it’s not. I can’t pretend that there aren’t Wendy’s nights. And even, once a year, a…dare I say it? McDonalds night (literally ONCE…A…YEAR because it takes me 364 days to forget how much I didn’t like any of it except for the hot mustard. I love the hot mustard.). So I can’t really complain about Semi-Homemade all that much.

Except for one thing. And it’s not the Kwaanza cake because that just defies…everything.

(And just so you know, I am not the only person obsessed with the Kwanzaa cake.)

I was watching the other day and she made a cocktail called the “Risky Whiskey.” She started by saying “Put three cups of Whiskey in a pitcher…”” and I said “DONE!”.

Sandra Lee, I just beat you at your own game. 100% store bought. 100% delicious. Wanna come over for a cocktail?

(Obviously she added other things to the pitcher (maple syrup? really? ew.) but really…why mess with perfection?)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This is how I know I’ve been really tired, mostly due to allergies, I think…this morning, when the alarm went off, I decided it was far too early and reset it (didn’t just hit the snooze, actually reset it) for one half hour later. I was pretty angry about a minute later when it went off again and I thought I must have set it wrong. But no, it was actually a half hour later. It only felt like a minute. I never sleep THAT deep or THAT soundly in the morning. Mostly due to the endless construction on the building across the street. Or possibly the endless landscaping of California. Or maybe the dude at the window repainting the trim…yeah, that’s always a fun one. I had my breakfast with that dude the other day as he was painting the kitchen window trim. It was rather shocking to walk into the kitchen for my coffee and encounter a mustachioed man in the window. He seemed nice enough but there wasn’t enough coffee for him too.

My point? Tired. Allergy ridden and tired. Ah spring!

So, in lieu of actually doing anything here, I’d like to show you a few links.
Pride and Prejudice conducted on Facebook made me laugh out loud.

I find Ecofont amazing. No one else seems as thrilled as I do. But people, with this font, you use 20% less ink and it’s very nicely designed, totally readable and you can’t see the holes at normal point sizes. If you have to print things out a lot for say, proofreading purposes, don’t just tell me you print in draft mode, try this. It’s all kinds of awesome. Seriously.

Also, love this palette generator. It’s a nice way to change the way you look at things and it generates a usable palette, so if you particularly like the look of a picture of piece of art, you can adopt the colors to play with at will.

And in a similar vein, this lovely blog captures personalities and feelings in a CMYK palette. Very nice. I am feeling kind of like this at the moment…

(The green represents my allergies. ewwwwww.)

These happy clouds are changing my outlook though. Although, I think if I actually saw one in the sky, not knowing what it was…dude, I’d freak.

Boxed water is better for the earth. So simple. So practical. Interesting.

Finally, I find this endlessly entertaining. Through it , I created a great poem, but then I forgot to save it, so you’ll have to take my word that it was creative genius. GENIUS!

I'll be back. I have other posts a-brewin', I've just been feeling a little 75/50/73/23 lately.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I think I said previously that I have gotten in the habit of roasting things. Did I say that previously? Because I should have. I like to roast things. Or, maybe more accurately, I like to cook as much of my dinner as I can in the oven, so I can do other things while that is happening. Like go to the bathroom.

Seriously. I come home from work, throw things in the oven and then go to the bathroom, change into sweats, find my clothes for the next day, find some pajamas, give the cat her meds, wash my hands and then finish dinner. So, anything that can happen in between throwing something in the oven and washing my hands is good. Very good. Anything that makes dinner easier and faster…very, very good.

So a lot of things get thrown in the oven these days. Most veggies get roasted. I love asparagus, but roasted asparagus? Perfection. Don’t like Brussels sprouts. Roasted? They are awesome. Roasted cauliflower stinks while it’s roasting but tasted great, especially the browned bits and roasted broccoli works great, even with frozen broccoli. So the newest veggie to get chucked in the oven was kale.

Kale is bit of a tricky one. I like it, most of the time. But it’s got a strong flavor and if I am not in the mood…eh. Boiling it just never seems to do the trick, steaming it doesn’t seem to cook it enough and sautéing it used to be the best option. That is, until last night when I roasted it. The husband declared it a keeper and we ate a whole pan of it as a topping to baked potatoes.

Here’s what I did:

Preheated oven to 450°

Washed and spun one smallish bunch of kale dry…actually, I do this backward. I usually cut the kale (lettuce, greens, cabbage, whatever) first, then put them in a salad spinner and wash and dry them. Is that bad? I wash the cutting board and knife before using them again, in case the greens were contaminated, but it just makes more sense to me…anyway…kale is cut into about 1” strips and washed and dried.

Then I put it on a baking sheet and drizzled it with olive oil and tossed it around a bit to coat. You want a fairly healthy covering here, so if you are concerned with fat, this probably isn’t much better than frying or sautéing. But it’s olive oil, so your skin will be smooth and your coat will be nice and glossy.

Chuck the whole mess in the oven for about 10 to 14 minutes. Check it at ten and see what you think. It should still be very green but the edges may start to get brown. That’s about where you want it. Too much brown is bad. Black is also probably not good.
Take it out of the oven and turn the oven off…because I always forget that part.

Drizzle with a little tiny bit more oil, just a little bit and sprinkle liberally with sea salt or kosher salt. I don’t want to be all fancy here, but they do work better as finishing salts because they have a “softer” taste and we’re all about the soft taste over here.

We put the kale on top of baked potatoes and it was good. Like really good. It’s crispy, and almost like a really thin potato chip, only made from kale. And I could eat these leafy greens like chips, just put ‘em on a plate and munch away, they were that good.

I was going to draw you a picture of my potato with kale topping but…that sounded like work, so I didn’t. Here’s a worried tiger instead…