Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Culinary Smackdown: Battle Bacon

Eggplant to Go brought it back, Chickory designed its rocking' new badge, Grumpy Granny is hosting this week, and I'm playing along because, well, I love bacon. Even though I have, like, no time these days and my brain has been reduced to near mush from the stress and lack of consistent zzzzzzzs. Still, the cooking, it must get done. S.B. will suffer Big Salad, Sandwich, and Breakfast For Supper nights for only so long.

At any rate, my entry isn't all that revolutionary, but it is interesting because the main ingredient is the last lone veggie in the pantheon of veggies that I used to hamster-cheek in protest as a wee Moi that I still look upon with dread. Perhaps, this dread, it is in my genes, because one of my cousins with whom I am close (call me, you bum), also hates 'em.

Yes. Brussels Sprouts. Which to me have always looked like the stunted fetal offspring of regular cabbage and tasted like sweaty gym socks. NOT a good combo. And this is coming from someone who loves Limburger, liver, and tripe. Only not all together on the same plate. I do have standards.

Anyway. There I was in the produce section on Monday and there they were, looking all of a sudden very bright green and cheery and so I thought, well? Maybe bacon would help? And pesto (which I have a surfeit of this year for some bizarre reason—it's like I've suddenly discovered I DO have a gardening green thumb and it goes by the name of basil), definitely pesto.

See? So pretty!

Okay, so how to cook these things. According to various websites, the trick is to bake them in the oven at a high temperature until they are very well browned. Almost burnt. Which gets rid of the sweaty gym socks flavor and heightens the sugars.

So, what the hey, I gave it a shot.


Three large pieces of high quality bacon, the stuff you get from the butcher that's cut thick and marbled just perfectly, fried up until crisp.

3 T. bacon grease from frying

Twelve brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed

1/4 cup pesto

3 T. heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Fry bacon in a large skillet. Once done, remove bacon to a plate to cool and discard all but 3 T. of the grease. Add brussels sprouts to the pan and toss until well-coated with the grease. Place sprouts in an oven proof baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes or until well brown.

While sprouts are cooking, crumble bacon into small pieces and make the pesto: in a Cuisinart or other electric chopper type thingee, place two cups of lightly packed, fresh basil leaves, well washed, a 1/4 cup of pine nuts (or any other kind of nut, really—I used almonds here), one small clove garlic, two ounces of parmesan cheese, and a quarter cup of olive oil. Whiz until desired texture is reached and add salt and pepper to taste.

Add 1/4 cup of the pesto to the same skillet in which you cooked the bacon, add cream and 3/4 of the crumbled bacon slices and cook over medium heat until sauce thickens slightly.

Plate the sprouts, pour sauce on top, and add sprinkled bacon. Serve as a side dish. That night it was ribs with Texas toast.

Seriously, these didn't taste like gym socks at all! In fact, they were quite yummy. Shhhhhhhh. Don't tell my cousin.

Check out all the other entries by visiting Grump Granny's site.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Haiku Mondays: MEMORY

The winner by both Troll declaration and popular vote in last week's Haiku Monday contest, Princess over at Palais de Steff is hosting this week's contest with the theme of:


Pop on over and add to the fun, won't you?

* * *

Stumble-stepped old dog
tilts nose to summer breeze. Sniffs:
tales of glory days.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Project Runway Temporary Snark Station

I'm temporarily hosting the Project Runway Snark Station while our usual hostess, Pam in the OKC, is busy rockin' in the free world. All I can say about last night's show is:

Zehr vill be no dissent amongst zuh ranks!

Well, at least everyone was in agreement that this look rocks socks:

I'd wear it in a heartbeat, even with those flat-ass shoes,
and I hate flat-ass shoes.

But, whoa, Nelly. Were The Heidi and I the only people who thought Anthony Ryan should go home? PTSD back to junior high gym school class, seriously, y'all!

Gag me with a dodge ball.

Unfortunately, Michael, Nina, and that Erin Wasson model girl (eat something!) were all, "Nyet! Danielle simply cannot be allowed to make another thing in silk chiffon, ever!" while Heidi was all, "Nein! Project Runway is cut and dried: one day you're in, the next day you're out!"

Sing it, girlfriend.

What sayeth you, the snarkers?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Notes From the Road

Dear Bed and Breakfast Owners Throughout the Northeast Corridor,

Just because Benjamin Franklin slept here? Doesn't mean anyone living in the 21st century should.

Moi (Too tired to go Road Warrior on any one's asses. Tonight.)

Friday, August 19, 2011


I'm hitting the road again this Sunday. Philadelphia-thereabouts-bound, in the service of putting one word after the other until I've amassed enough to fill a picture history book on the topic of interest. Before I go, though, I'm scrambling to finish up one project and clear my in-box of the most immediate demands of another.

This latter project has been particularly irksome, a copy editing project for a regional art magazine that pays its writers well, but which doesn't seem to get much in return. At least not for the main features of this issue. Here's what I had to wrangle into some semblance of sense in just two articles alone (Czar, shut your eyes; you've seen these):

“photography studios filled with a cacophony of tools to wrestle the perfect lighting through the lens”

“Zen principles carried out with eerie contemporariness”

“westernized modernizations”

“Kyoto emanating an enticing atmosphere that is serene and calm”

“introspective cave encouraging a reflective inner experience”

And a description of a house as “stone grounding connection to earth at the feet"

With the remaining work, I'm not running into bad phrasing so much as terrible, awful, hellacious word choices. I never thought it possible to actually hate certain words, but, really; I'd like to see us all take a break from using the following any time soon, either in conversation or on the written page. Like, 8-10 years ought to do it. Maybe forever.

Eclectic (I get it, it's unique and quirky. Now, go find another word.)

Synchronicity (I hate it when Sting sings it, I hate it when it's used to describe a relationship, I hate it, period.)

Predilection (There's just something creepy about how this word sounds, like a pervert licking his fingers over a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.)

Penchant (Because I always pronounce it pen–shaunt in my head and that's just ridiculous.)

Munificent (I'm totally okay if you write "really generous"—really.)

Recherche (Rare, but here's one I can't pronounce at all.)

Magical (Perhaps my most un-favorite word of all time, especially when used to describe a painting, sunset, convergence of body mind and spirit, and/or the sensation you feel when confronted with said paintings, sunsets, and convergences, and therefore my number one choice for banishment from the English language forever and ever, amen.)

Come on, help me compile an anti-dictionary: if you could strike one word from the English language, what would it be?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Needful Things

Okay, okay. You can stop flashing those shiny brights at me now. I admit it. You've got my attention. I'm intrigued, alright?

But I have to tell you, I already have a car. And not just any car, but a really great car. A car with good bone structure and incredible handling. It's fast and nimble and smart and even has a terrific sense of humor. And I've had it for so long now, I don't know what I'd do with another one. I mean, do I even have the energy for another car? The outfits? The bank account?

Wait, what's that? Say again?

Ohhhhhhh. I see where you're going with this. It's not like I have to take you home, right? Just one spin around the block should do it, then we both go our separate ways and I'll forget I ever looked deep into your burled wood and leather lined dashboard or heard the sweet growl of your 5.4 liter, V-8, 355 hp, 0-60 in 4.2 seconds engine.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Haiku Monday: PACIFIC

Neither hippie nor
holy holds the key. Peace, bro?
Fight the current’s flow.

* * *

Wanna play? Head over to Chickory's Place. She's hosting this week
and offering a fabulous prize.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Services Rendered

The privately owned rescue dogs of 9/11. Great slide show.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mouths of Babes

A couple months ago, I got a call from an old college pal asking if I would meet with one of her sons, recently graduated from high school and about to enter UNM, who is interested in becoming a writer. This is a gal that I’ve maintained at least a semblance of contact with since the early 1990s. In fact, I like to think that in a round about way, I'm responsible for her son being on this planet.

It was sophomore year of college, first day of what I think was an American history class, and I was running late. Class had just begun, so I sat myself down in the first seat I saw, right next to—hello!— this really cute dude who looked almost exactly like how Tom Cruise was looking in those days, as in: not-yet-revealed-to-the-world-as-bat-shit-crazy-adorable.

He was also wearing a tee shirt with the word FIAT on it, which gave me the perfect opening during break.

Moi: “So, you drive a Fiat?”

Him: Adorable smile: “I wouldn’t really call it ‘drive.’”

Moi: Blink.

Him: “Do you know what Fiat stands for?”

Moi: Blink, blink.

Him: Again with the adorable smile: “Fix It Again, Todd.”

Right then and there I decided I had no choice but to absolutely go after Todd with as much laser-focused effort as I could muster in between a life filled with class, work, keggers, and shopping. Which effort, alas, turned out to earn me a great big ol’ F for “fail,” because instead of falling for me, Todd fell hard for one of my friends, a pretty blond named Patty.

So hard that several weeks after meeting her, he cornered me during lunch, begging me to ask Patty if she were interested in him. What could I do? I did the right thing and said, I don’t have to ask, she digs ya, too. Go for it.

And so they started dating and when he cornered me again a few months later and said he was head over heels in love with her, what should he do, should he ask her to marry him? Again, what could I do? I did he right thing and said, yes, she adores you, is madly, passionately in love with you, we’ve been stalking your house for weeks and I need to get some sleep already, so go for it. And you know what? He did and they’re still head over heels in love with each other. Which turned out to be just fine with me. They were made for each other, and I was made to, well, date other people.

Anyway, fast forward a couple years to summer after graduation and I get a note from Todd and Patty saying Todd joined the army and they’re headed to Italy for the duration. Four years later, they’re back in town, Patty’s pregnant, and soon they produce what has to be the cutest baby boy I’ve ever seen in my life. So cute, in fact, that I lost all control of my senses and actually offered to give up two of my prime dating nights a month to babysit for this child just so I could nibble on his chubby cheeks and knees. Thankfully, I only had to do this once (Todd is possessed of a very large, much more diaper-changing-adept, family.)

Thereafter, things happen in both our lives, they have another baby, blah, blah, blah, I get married and divorced, blah, blah, blah, and eventually our contact is limited to once-a-year Christmas cards.

Until a few years back when we hooked up through Facebook. Fast forward to the “Can you talk with Tyler and advise him on becoming a writer?” query of a few months ago, and I find myself face-to-face with a handsome, 6’5”, 200-pound version of the baby whose cheeks I used to pinch, only one who now drives a motorcycle and calls me “ma’am.” We sit down with our lunch and our sodas and I begin to discuss the pros and cons of writing as a career, with an emphasis on the con side of the list. After all, I don’t want to shine this kid on.

When I get to the part where I say, “Are you sure there isn’t anything else you’d rather be doing?” he stops me. Although he has his mother’s coloring and facial features, the look in his eyes is 100 percent his father’s. “No, seriously,” he says. “I’ve thought about this and thought about this and this is something I really want to do. I need your help so I know I’m going about it the right way.”

What could I do? I did the right thing and told him to go for it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Haiku Mondays: VENEER

Miss Represent

California girls?
Not even their hair is real.
Surface is substance.

* * *

Miss Fleur was our winner last week with another one of her finely honed haiku and so is hosting again this week. Very interesting theme. Should bring out some fun ones.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Shock the Monkies

Is is just me, or are you all also getting tired of the escalating hysterical tone creeping into every corner of our news media? Just this morning, a local Albuquerque news anchor was reporting on an incident in Newport Beach, CA, involving a teenage boy who was digging a pit on the beach, when the pit caved in on him, trapping him for about 20 minutes. Twenty minutes. About the right amount of time it takes for a good half dozen people on a crowded beach to notice what happened and to dig him out with their hands.

Hardly anything to get worked up about, right? And if you think about it, the story is more funny than scary.

But here's our local reporter: "The boy will appear on this morning's Today show in an exclusive interview to talk about his frightening ordeal."

Note the excessive use of hysteria-laden adjectives here: "Exclusive," "frightening," "ordeal." Had I written that back in my college days, my professor would have bled all over it, sent it back to me in the form of a paper airplane with the words Dumb Shit written on the wings, and then applied his boot to my butt before giving me an F and sending me off to the nearest Wimmin's Study class.

Where, at some point in the middle of Post World War II Feminist Thought: A Praxis for the Community, it finally would have hit me: "The teen will appear on this morning's Today show to talk about what happened." D'oh!

Of course, this isn't the worst of it. Turn on any national news outlet, from NBC Nightly News to MSNBC to Fox to CNN, and you'll hear a similar sort of editorializing used to report on everything from localized events to national crises of confidence.

Which leads me to wonder: if everything is painted with the same broad brush strokes of anxiety and fear, how on earth are we ever going to be able to calm down long enough to think and distinguish real problems (our national debt, escalating military actions, cough, cough) from those created as paper tiger crises to propagate a political agenda (war on drugs, climate change, entitlement payments, cough, cough).

Oh. That's right. We're not supposed to think. We're supposed to follow.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Best Movie From a TV Series

One of my all time favorite television shows translated into one of my all-time favorite movies. Mainly, because I do so identify with Wednesday Addams. Such a cute little anarchist. This scene never fails to crack me right the heck up.

"For these reasons, I have decided to scalp you, and burn your village to the ground."


Go Chippewas!

Miss Joanna Cake remains our hostess with the mostest for this weekly meme, so head over to her blog to see who else is playing this week.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Haiku Mondays: WHISTLE

This week's Haiku Monday contest is courtesy Aunty Belle and involves Old School Haiku Rules implemented in the service of the theme of Whistle. I'm facing some majorly tight deadlines and general pissed off-edness at the State of our Dis-Union, but a feisty little critter who nearly dive bombed me on this morning's walk served as nick-of-time inspiration:

Thumb-sized avian's
wing trill tattoos air. Warning!
Hummingbird domain.

Head over to Aunty's for more whistlers-while-they-workers.