Entries from October 2003 ↓

Calling All Cooks!

I have been very neglectful of this category but I plan to rectify that starting now.

This was conceived as a place to talk about all things food related, from interesting restaurants I’ve eaten at, to cookbook reviews, cooking stories, what ever. But I’ve been busy lately, so not only have I not had time to devote to this area, I haven’t even been able to spend time in the kitchen or dine out.

To give this space some new purpose, I’d like to invite you to post any recipes you have. Maybe it’s that special dish you whip up when you’re trying to impress someone, or maybe it’s just one you came across recently that looks interesting and worth a try. Feel free to post it here.

Here’s a quick and simple seafood dish I came across from Cooking Light magazine. Doesn’t take long to prepare or cook. I may give this one a try myself.

Provencale Shellfish Stew.jpgProvencale Shellfish Stew

INGREDIENTS
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 celery stalk, quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 small mussels or clams, scrubbed and debearded
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 cup orange juice

INSTRUCTIONS

Buying peeled and deveined shrimp costs a little more, but it’s a welcome convenience, especially when you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table.
1. Place onion, celery, and garlic cloves in a food processor, and pulse to chop.
2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add chopped vegetables. Saute 5 minutes; stir in clam juice and tomatoes. Bring to a boil; add thyme, pepper, and saffron. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.
3. Add shrimp and mussels; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done and mussels open. Discard any unopened mussels. Remove from heat; stir in remaining ingredients.

YIELD: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
PREPARATION TIME:10 minutes
COOKING TIME: 20 minutes

NUTRITIONAL INFO
CALORIES 217 (20% from fat); FAT 4.8g (sat 0.7g, mono 2g, poly 1g); PROTEIN 31.3g; CARB 11g; FIBER 0.8g; CHOL 155mg; IRON 18.7mg; SODIUM 355mg; CALC 143mg

Pop Quiz

You know the drill. Answer each question. Show all work. No cheating off your neighbor.

1. You have to give up one medium for a year. Which one would be the hardest for you to live without?

2. What was your favorite toy as a child?

3. Who do you turn to first when you need advice?

4. Whatís the most fun you can get into with a three day weekend and your regular paycheck?

5. What is your favorite Halloween candy?

6. What is the best song to listen to when youíre feeling depressed and want to be alone in your misery?

7. Is it better to know the answers or the right questions to ask?

8. What well-known person do people say you most resemble?

9. Do you believe your vote matters? Why or why not?

10. If something happened to you, and your family went through your personal belongings, what things would you be most embarrassed for them to find?

My answers:

1. The Internet. As much as I like television, Iíve gone without that for certain periods of time and managed ok. But when I canít check email or surf the net or write on the blog, Iím miserable.

2. G.I. Joe. I had the original ones when they were 11 inches high. They used to say boys who played with dolls would grow up to be gay. That toy came after the fact.

3. My Mom. Sheís still the wisest person I know.

4. Presuming I still want to have money left over to pay this monthís bills, Iíll do something in town. A play, dinner at a nice restaurant, some shopping. I could travel in three days, but that tends to leave me tired out at the end of the weekend.

5. A toss up between candy corn and Almond Joy. Sometimes you feel like a nut.

6. ďSoon as I Get Home,” the Lizz Wright version, off her Salt CD.

7. I never know all the answers, although I can fake it well. But I think I ask good questions and learn more by doing so.

8. A few years ago, I was told I looked like O.J. Simpson. But now, Iíve been told I look like Al Roker . Go figure.

9. My vote definitely matters, and Iíve always believed that. The combination of many votes together, even in defeat, represents a point of view that those elected must take into consideration.

10. See #99 on my list of 100 Things About Me.

The Rat Up My Ass

Trust me, it ain’t the change in seasons. I’m bored by work. I hate fuckin’ New York City. I’m tired of being pulled in several different directions simultaneously. I’m sick of getting strange reactions when I suggest doing some social activity that’s “outside the box”. I’m sick of going out and doing those things by myself anyway. Yeah, we turned the clocks back this past weekend and we’re now in darkness for most of the day, but my mood was pissy long before this.

I went back upstate this past weekend, to the place where I lived for 11 years. I was invited up to facilitate a town hall meeting for a group I helped found and on whose board I served in its infancy. This was to be a means of further assessing the needs of the community, so that more programs and services could be developed and addressed. In the five years I’ve been away, it was heart warming to see how far the community has come, what they are already doing to help themselves and work together while doing so. It was good to see new faces of folks I didn’t know when I lived there who had the courage now to come out and be a visible part of the group. And it was great to reconnect with old friends I hadn’t seen in awhile.

I had rented a car for the trip and marveled at the scenery on the Thruway, the leaves showing their fall colors. The drive was peaceful and relaxing. Once in town, I stopped by a hospital to check on another friend I had recently learned was ill, and ran into other friends old and new. Despite the occasion, it was good to see everyone and catch up.

Sunday, before the event, I was driving around and seeing all the changes around town. There is a lot of new building going on all over the place which is a sign of growth and positive change. Clean, quiet, safe streets where total strangers nod and say hello. Just the way I remembered it.

I walked through my old neighborhood and oddly enough ran into a guy I met since I moved to NYC. He and his partner now live up there, and he invited me to stop by. My heart fluttered at the sight of their humongous apartment, with high ceilings, two bedrooms and baths, hardwood floors, a separate dining room and spacious kitchen and a living room the size of my whole apartment. Yep, just the way I remembered it.

The town hall meeting went great, people openly shared and talked about their needs as individuals and as a community and what they’d like to do to move things further. We left there on a very positive note, and I feel secure knowing they will try their best to follow up on the ideas generated that evening, limited resources or not. Then I hit the road heading back to New York.

The fucking streets are as covered with litter as the ones upstate were covered with leaves. The volume of the city was deafening even on a Sunday night. The same annoying crowds, pushy obnoxious assholes talking on cellphones as if they’re important, and selfish, unruly bastard children on the train acting out simply because they can. Lines everywhere. The long ass commute to and from work crammed with a subway full of strangers, some of whom bathe regularly. My small, shit hole of an apartment, convenient only because of its price, but otherwise stressing me out by its size and location.

There are 8,000,000 people in New York. I’m happy to leave to make room for someone else.

A Fitting End

Beckett wins.jpg

At the start of this yearís Major League Baseball playoffs, I wrote here that I hadnít really watched a lot of games this year. Being a Mets fan, I had nothing to cheer about all season, so I directed my attention elsewhere. But lucky for me I decided to tune in, because there was enough thrilling baseball played in the month of October to fill an entire season.

Looking back, any attempt to predict a World Series winner based on regular season records would have been futile this year. The teams with the best regular season records exited the playoffs the fastest.

Defending NL Champion San Francisco, with a new manager and only a few player changes, breezed through the 162 game schedule, but managed only one win before losing to Florida in the divisional series , 3 games to 1. Meanwhile the perennial best season record holding Atlanta Braves did their perennial post season choke, falling to the Cubs 3-2 .

San Francisco has the nucleus of a team that can resurface again next year, but the Braves remain an enigma. A highly talented roster of players, but lacking in any visible team spirit, drive or focus from September on. Iíve felt for years they need a shakeup at manager, but it doesnít look like thatís going to happen any time soon.

In the American League, a young and scrappy Minnesota Twins team took game one of their divisional series against the Yankees, which only served to wake up the Bronx Bombers, who took the next three to win it. The team that considers themselves the Yankees rival (although folks in NYC beg to differ), the Boston Red Sox, came back against an uneven Oakland Aís team, that once again failed to finish off an opponent they had on the brink of elimination.

Oakland faces free agent losses in the off season and may have a hard time getting back to this level next year. Minnesota, as a small market club, always faces challenges keeping good players. But their youthful enthusiasm resembled Floridaís in many ways, so you never know what can happen.

The baseball pundits all wanted to see the Cubs and Red Sox face off in the World Series, and as we all know, they both got as close as five outs away from that happening. Mitt hits the fan.jpgBut as I also wrote a few weeks ago, these two teams would find a way to both lose if they ever met.

Is there a curse, or just complete ineptitude? I favor the latter as the most logical reason. The Cubs had arguably the best pitching staff of all the teams in the playoffs, but that staff failed them in the final two games of their series with the Marlins. And as much as Chicagoans may want to blame one fan for a fatal mistake in Game 6, Chicago had ample opportunity to rebound from that faux pas but didnít. The good teams stay focused and the Cubs lost theirs after that moment.

And what more can you say about the Red Sox? They honestly had a chance to win it this year, if nothing else based on their attitude. This wasnít the same old self-doubting Boston. They came into the series with New York with a swagger and lack of awe that scared many Yankee fans. Meanwhile the Yanks suddenly looked old and vulnerable. With two 40 year old pitchers, a shaky bullpen and questions defensively, they looked like they could be had.

But, like the Minnesota series, the Yankees got a late wake up call in the form of a bench clearing brawl and a fight between Pedro Martinez and Don Zimmer that galvanized the team. Like the Cubs, Boston lost focus and couldnít close the deal, while Aaron Boone became a Game 7 11th inning hero. Red Sox depression.jpgSox players went into a deep post game depression, everyone in New England forgot all about Bill Buckner, and manager Grady Little has already lost his job.

Going into the World Series, Florida showed all the best qualities of the other teams, with an enhanced sense of its own ability to win. They had the Twins youth and enthusiasm, the Cubs pitching, the Red Sox bravado. And they caught the Yankees after they had already been tired out from the Boston series. Thatís not to take anything away from the Marlins, Sad Yankees.jpgbut it almost seemed as if the Yankees expected to flip their switch on and automatically pull out a win as they had so many times previously, dead bats and weak pitching notwithstanding.

The Florida Marlins are World Series Champions because they earned it. They believed in themselves, and they didnít succumb to any Yankee mystique. A franchise that is just 11 years old has now won two World Series in two trips. Conversely, the Yankees have lost two in the past three years, also falling to Arizona in 2001. Speculation already swirls over what changes George Steinbrenner will demand. Know one thing, he wonít sit idle in the off season.

Finally, television ratings were way up as each round progressed and that bodes well for rebuilding the fan base that drifted following several years of labor strife. All in all, it was a great way to wind up the baseball season.

…………………….

Pudge and Ugueth.jpgThis young Marlins team is also quite affectionate. Here is a photo from an earlier game with catcher Ivan ďPudgeĒ Rodriguez congratulating pitcher Ugueth Urbina . Makes you wonder how they celebrated the championship!

…………………….

I was out of town this past weekend, which explains the late posting of this item, but which also prevented me from seeing the Giants win over the previously unbeaten Vikings, 29-17. Something told me it was possible if the G-men played up to their potential. In recent years they have had Minnesotaís number. But now that baseball is over, I can get back to regular football coverage.

Next week, Giants vs the Jets!

World Champs!

Lenny and Dontrelle.jpg

Lenny Harris and Dontrelle Willis hoist the trophy.

The Florida Marlins, behind a complete game effort from 23-year-old right-hander Josh Beckett, working on just three days rest, upset the New York Yankees Saturday night 2-0 to win their second World Series in the franchiseís 11 year history.

It was a fitting end to an exciting playoff season. See SPORTS.