Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Help me, Help you!

After fellowshipping with some of my high school friends in Memphis last week, it’s come to my attention that everyone does NOT use Google Reader (or other RSS feed readers)?!?!? Come on people now!! (smile on your brother, everybody . . . )

I’ve (subconsciously) pushed and prodded you to move towards Google Reader (here, here, and here), but now I think it’s time for a full out tutorial/explanation about the BENEFITS of using RSS Feeds!

(If you already use Google Reader, feel free to browse away . . . or catch up on all those old Seth Godin posts you “Mark as Read”)

Do you ever wonder what that icon is that looks like the North Face Logo?? It’s the RSS logo, and basically means you can add that website to a RSS feed reader.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I was going to type up some long, drawn out explanation, but I just found a really good youtube explanation here:

Another couple of neat/cool things you can do in Reader is to star and e-mail articles (I feel like I do this a lot) and check out your Trends. Here you can see which sites are most frequently updated, inactive, or obscure (click to embiggen). Thank You, 33 Blog Subscribers.

Anyways, if you find yourself checking the same sites every day, expecting an updated post (Big Girl, huh??)*, only to leave feeling sad and lonely, you might want to check this out. Srsly.

* RJOH, I love you!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cookin' with Ben, Brian, John & Roy

If you're looking for some tasty Mexican/Peruvian cusine, you should definitley check out Sabor Latino (on Greensprings). Tonight, when I was picking up some take-out for the LOML and our friends Fef & Clay, I decided to kill some time in the Tuesday Morning next door (ok, ok, i was checking to see if they had any Le Creuset on sale). And what did I happen upon in aisle 3???? LUCERO FREAKING OLIVE OIL!!

Hellz yeah, I bought a bottle!! And at $6.99 a bottle, I think it was a steal . . .

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Family

Hope you and yours have enjoyed a very Merry Christmas!! Earlier this week, we took a whirlwind two night trek to Memphris to see my fam and high school friends, and then wrapped up the last 24 hours (not that I'm counting) with my wonderful in-laws. The Mrs. an I constantly talk about how we feel blessed beyond measure, and we really do have such loving friends and family. Oh yeah, my Mom also gave me Guitar Hero: Metallica for Christmas (and nothing celebrates the birth of our Lord like "Master of Puppets" on Christmas night).

In baby news, the LOML turned 37 weeks today and you know what that means . . . "STOP THE PREGNANCY PICTS!!!" But seriously, she really does look great, and starting tomorrow, we're going on a steady diet of spicy food and long walks around the block to see if we can squeeze out a (healthy and fully developed) tax deduction before New Year's.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Me Roll You Long Time

Even though I only discovered them maybe 5 or 6 years ago (thank you, Pho Saigon), I’m a pretty big fan of Vietnamese Spring Rolls (I’ve also noticed I’m pretty fond of the phrase “pretty big fan of”). I’m not sure how “authentic” egg rolls from most (American-ized) Chinese restaurants are, but I feel somewhat-local when eating these fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls (gỏi cuốn).

Last week, Food Woolf posted some gourmet airplane food ideas, and since the recipe/idea seemed pretty easy, I thought I’d try to make some of these on my own. This was also my first experience with rice paper, and I’m really starting to appreciate living 2 minutes from the International Market.

TMF’H Spring Rolls
Rice Paper (try your local Asian market)
Pulled Pork (leftover and thawed out)
Sliced Chicken (cooked)
Napa Cabbage
Cilantro (Basil would be tasty, as well)
Bean Sprouts

I found it was easiest to pre-slice all the veggies, prep the meat, make the dipping sauce*, and have yourself a (merry) little assembly line. When everything is in place and ready for assembly, dip the rice paper in warm water for maybe 5-10 seconds then set it on a plate, and let it soak in the water for maybe 30 seconds (I mistakenly left my first piece of rice paper in for close to a minute, and it got CRAZY pliable!!). The first item you want to lay down is a piece of Napa for support. Then add your meat and other veggies, and wrap the roll up “burrito style.” Since the Rice Paper is pretty sticky (almost saran-wrap like), they’ll stay wrapped pretty tight. I ended up making 8 (some chicken, some pork) and storing them on top of damp paper towels, while finishing the others.

Peanut/Hosin Dipping Sauce
½ C Hoisin sauce
2 Tbs peanut butter
½ Tbs rice vinegar
“Dash” or two of garlic powder
1/8 tsp Sriracha (you could add more, just be warned)
(a few) Tbs warm water (to reach desired consistency)
Peanuts, chopped

Combine all ingredients, except the peanuts, and stir until you get the right consistency. In the words of Jay, this sauce “was the fire” and really easy to make. I would dip the spring rolls in the sauce, and then place a few chopped peanuts on top before each bite.

These rolls seriously were AWESOME!!!!!** Go to your kitchen and make them tonight!!!!

* Adapted from Bee Yinn Low

** The LOML will also attest how tasty they were – and preggers friendly!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Gonna take a lot to Take me Away from You

For those of you who still care (Beuller . . . Beuller?) what other ethnic food we had two weeks ago . . . the winner was . . . NORTH AFRICAN!!

Even though I’m a HUGE foodnetwork fan, I really don’t get into the Next Foodnetwork Star. A few months ago, the LOML and I watched as Melissa d'Arabian beat out the spice smuggler, Jeffrey Saad, and after stumbling across this, I thought I’d try one of her recipes (I do want to get some harissa after watching Jeffrey’s final presentation).

One thing I’ll say before I type up the ingredients/recipes. These meatballs were a lot harder to brown and stay firm and spherical than I thought they should have (is that sentence grammatically correct?). I don’t know if I was shaking the frying pan around too much, but they tended to turn almost triangular?? Anyways, I think I saw Alton Brown bake his in a mini-muffin pan on Good Eats, and I might try that next time. Either way, I do think this would make a great meat sauce on its own, IMO.

North African Meatballs (adapted from Mellisa d’Arabian):

North African Sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
2/3 C small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ Tbs lemon juice
1 C pitted and chopped (kalamata) olives
3/4 C chicken stock
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
Pinch ground cinnamon

1 egg
3 Tbs tomato paste
3 Tbs (rough) chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1.5 TBs crystallized ginger
1.5 tsp ground cumin
Pinch ground cinnamon
1 lb ground beef
1/2 C finely ground rolled oats

To make the North African Sauce, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until soft, about 3 minutes. Next add the lemon juice and olives and cook for another minute. Stir in the stock, canned tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon, and simmer to blend flavors, about 7 minutes (I omitted the wine and just used more chicken stock).

To make the Meatballs, add the egg and tomato paste and stir until smooth (was this where my meatballs went wrong – too much tomato paste??). Add the cilantro, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon and mix until well blended. Stir in the ground beef and oats, season with salt and pepper, to taste (was I supposed to taste RAW MEAT???), and combine gently after each addition. Rolling with your hands, make about 20 meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter. (I have NO idea how Melissa got 32 meatballs out of this recipe, especially with .75 lb ground beef)

In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat, and brown the meatballs in batches until golden on all sides. Drain on paper towels, and after all meatballs are cooked, transfer the meatballs to the pan with the sauce and let simmer for 20 minutes.

We had this with Couscous (and some leftover apricots thrown in). There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mary, Did You Know?

Do you ever check out the “Explore” tab in Google Reader?? Today in “Popular Items,” the World’s Best Ever helped me realize I’ve been committing a major faux pas when enjoying my sushi (dumping Wasabi into your soy sauce).

(click to embiggen)

I’ll also admit, I used to put the pickled ginger on top of my sushi. I know, I know. I’m embarrassed for myself.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What puts the Ape in Apricot?

Last week was BY FAR the most ethnic week of cooking we’ve had at the TMF’H household. Monday we had Chicken & Apricot Curry and Wednesday we had . . . (you’ll have to come back – I know the suspense will be killing you).

So I’ve already told you I’ve become a Penzey’s Spices apologist. Now that we’re on the mailing list, we get their catalog every couple of months, and although most of the recipes have a 1980’s Midwestern feel to them, I still like flipping through and looking for some inspirado. And since I’m trying to find uses for the ingredients I bought in August, we went with the Chicken & Apricot Curry (or the less-impressively named Carol’s Easy Chicken Curry) for dinner. Sorry, I’m not typing up all the ingredients/instructions; you’ll have to go here for the details.

A few notes though . . . We cut this recipe in half and used boneless/skinless chicken breasts (I don’t think we missed any of the flavor). Also, I didn’t think the curry was that tart at all, and we didn’t add any additional sweeteners (the thought of aspartame in this gives me the shakes).

Did it pass the pregnant wife test?? Yes (although I don’t think she’ll be requesting it again in the next week or so). Until then, the search for ethnic ingredient use continues.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

(Clever title involving Butternut Squash)

So every year my firm has a Thanksgiving pot-luck lunch. It’s actually pretty awesome b/c you end up with around 100 side dishes and desserts, plus more gallons of sweet tea brought in than necessary. Last year I brought a butternut squash casserole, and a few weeks ago a friend of mine at work asked if it would be making a triumphant return. With that question, I knew I’d have to bring it back.

I pretty much pulled this recipe from a bunch of different sources (mostly sweet potato casserole recipes). Like I mentioned before, I ended up making this twice last week.

The first attempt was made with the squash roasted still in its skin. I wouldn’t recommend this method b/c it was pretty difficult to get all that good squash flesh out. I didn’t take a picture of my remains, but there was a lot left in the skin.

For the family version, I ended up skinning the squash first and cutting it into large chunks. Although it took some more time on the front end, I would go with this approach in the future. As you can see from these pictures, I roasted a lot of butternut squash (and I did experience some temporary Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) dermatitis – don’t be alarmed. it eventually washed off).

TMF’H Butternut Squash Casserole
Butternut Squash (a lot - you can guesstimate how much from the pictures)
1/3 C Orange Juice
2 Eggs
½ Stick Butter (melted)
¼ C Brown sugar
1 tsp Salt
a “Dash” of Cinnamon/Nutmeg*

After peeling and quartering the squash, I roasted it for about 45 min to an hour @ 425. It came out fork tender and then it went into the Kitchen Aid. First I added the melted butter and OJ, and let it mix/puree on medium speed. I could have used more OJ, but I wanted the squash to retain its butternut-iness (of course, I lose that with the delicious crumb topping to follow). I cracked two eggs into a separate bowl and took some of the hot squash mixture to temper the eggs down. Afterwards I added the egg mixture back and mixed in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon/nutmeg. You could check the mixer every couple minutes to make sure it was mixing to your desired consistency, and after I was satisfied, it went into a greased dish. I baked it for about an hour @ 350 (here is what the office version looked like before going into the oven).

So, my office kinda got the raw end of the deal on the topping. I didn’t really look into my “crumb” topping and ended up just throwing random amounts of brown sugar, flour, oats and chopped pecans in a bowl and then sprinkling it on top before putting into the oven.

For the family version, I poked around on the internet and found this.

1 C Flour
½ C Oats (not instant)
1/3 C Brown Sugar
½ tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp Salt
1 stick Butter, cut into small pieces

Basically pulse all the ingredients in a food processor, and after the butternut squash has baked for 30 minutes, take it out and sprinkle this on top. Afterwards it looked like this, and smelled like an apple pie.

And then we had a Happy Thanksgiving.

* I know no straight man would ever use the word “dash” (or sprinkle, for that matter) when describing anything. Please forgive me.

Take this quarter, go downtown . . .

I really like toothpicks. I think this all started when I saw Uncle Buck when I was little. Remember when they were at the Bowling Alley and that guy was trying to be all cool, flipping the toothpick around in his mouth, and then it got stuck? I was really pumped when I got old enough (or my mouth grew large enough) to be able to do that. Yes, I know this really isn’t all that impressive.

Anyways, I just realized my office keeps a cup of toothpicks in the kitchen. I know I probably look like a red-neck, but I’ve been enjoying chomping on them the last few days. Man, this is an awkward shot of my nose . . .

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bourbon. Milkshake.

Before I get into any more winter squash recipes (and I KNOW you are dying for that butternut squash casserole post), I have to tell you about, what may be, the single tastiest and most indulgent drink I’ve ever had . . . BOURBON MILKSHAKES!!

I read something about a bourbon milkshake a month or so ago, and thought, dang, that is awesome. I actually read an article about a Guinness milkshake (thank you, Alamo Drafthouse) back in spring in the Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine, and thought I’d like to try one of those, too (SEC Championship, anyone??).

Most of the Bourbon Milkshake recipes I searched for try and give you some homemade ice cream recipe. I’m not going to. I don’t have time to churn homemade ice cream in the winter, and this “Homemade Vanilla” ice cream from Blue Bell was awesome. Here’s my “recipe”:

1 pint Vanilla Ice Cream*
1 shot Bourbon (roughly, I didn’t really measure it)

Let the ice cream soften a bit. Put everything in the blender. Blend. Stir it around with a spoon. Blend some more. Put it in the freezer if it’s too soft. Enjoy.

If I had discovered these in college, I would probably be a lot fatter than I am today. I know it doesn’t look like much, but I actually only had half of this Saturday night, and the rest Sunday afternoon, which by the way, I think was even better after a night in the freezer. It was like soft serve Bourbon ice cream. Awesome-town, USA.

PS – these glasses have some type of decorative brown ring on the top. They were not rimmed with chocolate (although, now that you mention it???).

* My first attempt at a Bourbon Milkshake was about a month ago, when I used some Low-fat Vanilla Frozen Yogurt we already had in the freezer. This was probably the dumbest thing I could have done. It was awful, and I ruined a perfectly good shot (or two) of Maker’s.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Spaghetti (Squash) Incident?

Hope everyone is having a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Have you been to your local farmer’s market lately??? They’re practically giving away WINTER SQUASH*

Last week, I picked up about 27 lbs of Butternut, Spaghetti and Hubbard squash for $4 . . . yep, it was fill up as much winter squash you can fit in a box for $4!!

I’ll end up making two butternut squash dishes for Thanksgiving(s) this week (office and family), but Monday night the LOML and I took our first stab at Spaghetti Squash. I had never cooked Spaghetti Squash before, but have read/heard a lot about it the last few years.

The market had Spaghetti Squash of all different sizes/shades of yellow. The farmer told me the larger and more brightly yellow the squash is, the better it will be. He was right. I split both of our spaghetti squash (you can experiment, when they’re this cheap I guess), and the larger one definitely looked more appetizing.

It was a little overwhelming to figure out what to do with it, so we basically roasted it (face down, for 45 minutes @ 400 degrees), with a little olive oil and salt/pepper. It was good (I probably could have omitted the pepper), and we served it with some black beans and sautéed spinach/mushrooms. Also, I wasn’t sure how much I could get out of one squash, but it was A LOT. Just an FYI.

* You’ve probably noticed Winter Squash will be the hot foodie blog topic these next few weeks (Clotilde had some great ideas/suggestions this week and made a REALLY good looking gratin out of hers). Glad I can contribute my part.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I like Pork Butts and I Can Not Lie

So I’ve been on a pretty big Boston Butt kick lately (I think we’ve cooked 6 since the spring). They’re easy and feed a lot of people. We ended up cooking two (16 lbs total) this weekend for the 6 couples in our small group, and I think they were a big hit. I’m sure not all of these steps were necessary, but this how I rolled (I’m so white).

First I rinsed off the butt, and patted it dry. Mmmmm, that’s a fine lookin’ butt.

Next, I rubbed it down (Man, this is starting to sound like a Danielle Steel novel) with yellow mustard and put Willingham’s Dry Rub all over it. I saw the yellow mustard trick from a special on foodnetwork a few years ago, and I think it’s a divided topic on serious Pork Butt smokers/cooks. I’m sure any dry rub would be good, and I know the Neely’s have a really easy recipe I’ve used before. Anyways, I wrapped mine in plastic wrap and threw it in the fridge over night.

Sunday, I sliced 5 or 6 onions (about 1 inch thick) and layered on the bottom of the crock pot. Then I put the (unwrapped) Pork Butt on top and poured in half a beer (Pete’s Wicked Ale, for this butt).

The amount of liquid is kind of deceiving b/c the Butt is sitting on top of the raw onions, so it seems like there is not a lot of liquid. But after 5 or 6 hours, that meat will weigh down the cooked onions and the liquid will come about half way up the meat. If you’ve got time, I like to set the slow cooker on LOW and let it cook for 8 hours (but you could get HIGH for 6 hours).

Now, I’ve read that once you set the crock pot to cook you DO NOT lift the lid to check out your meat!! That would release all the built up steam and just add more time to your cooking. Amirite??

Well this weekend, my fam was in town for the LOML’s baby shower. My mom is a great cook and probably the biggest inspiration (man that sounds so cheesy to type) behind my love for cooking. I know everyone says their mom is a great cook, but mine really is. So we were hanging in the kitchen Sunday afternoon, and I turn around and she’s lifted the lid and is all “Mmmm, that looks good”

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?! Seriously, I didn’t yell at her, but it was a stern what the heck????? Anyways, she didn’t know you were supposed to keep the lid closed, so I thought I’d let you know. KEEP THE LID CLOSED!

After the meat had cooked (check after 8 hours, it may need a little more time), it was time to shred (but that meat will still be HOT). As you can see the bone EASILY came out (you can see some of the beer-soaked onions, too), and It was pretty to pick out the meat from the fat. After all was said and done, it looked like this:

BOOM goes the dynamite!

My Baby’s Got Sauce

So we had folks over to our house Sunday night for Core Group and we decided to cook some Boston Butts (aka Pork Shoulder). I know this could be considered heresy, but I cooked mine in the Crock Pot (slow cooker). I know, I know. I would love to smoke some butts on a BGE (or some other type of smoker), but I don’t have one. Anyways, before I post the pictures/recipes from the Butts, I thought I’d post about the sauces I made (and I realize nothing is more exciting than posting pictures of sauces).

First I made an Alabama White Sauce (as deliciously seen @ Miss Myra’s, Moe’s and Saw’s BBQ). I had never seen or heard of White BBQ Sauce before moving to Birmingham (thank you for the introduction, Anne McCrory), but it is GOOD. The ingredients/instructions are pretty easy (via White Trash BBQ)

1 C mayo (I used Duke’s Light)
1 C Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1.5 Tbs cracked black pepper
½ tsp kosher salt, finely ground (I used sea salt)
¼ tsp cayenne

After I mixed it together, I realized this was A LOT runnier than what I’ve found in restaurants, so I ended up adding maybe another cup of Mayo, and mixed some more. WTBBQ says to store overnight, and mine sat in the fridge about 20 hrs before using. It was tasty.

I’ve been playing around with (traditional, tomato based) BBQ sauces since our 2008 Fourth of July party, and as far as ingredients/measurements go, I’m not precise at all. For this one, I started off sautéing half an onion, 4 or 5 cloves of garlic and a red bell pepper in a little olive oil for 5 minutes. Then added:

2.5 C Tomato Sauce
¾ C Tomato Paste
1.25 C Apple Cider Vinegar
½ C Brown Sugar
¼ C Honey
3 Tbs Worcestershire
3 Tbs Brown Mustard
5 Tbs Paprika
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
2 Tbs Black Pepper
2 Tbs Salt

I didn’t add all this at once. Basically it was add a little of something/taste/tinker/mix/repeat. I’d heat it up, and then simmer it down. After a while, I took the extra OCD step of putting the sauce in the blender to puree all the larger onion/pepper/garlic pieces. Did it need it?? Nope. I just like dirtying extra dishes (according to the LOML).

I think our guests would say both turned out good, but I wish I could find the extra ingredients to make it as tasty at Willingham’s. Mmmmmm, Cajun Hot . . .

Thursday, November 19, 2009

101 Blogs

Have you ever heard of that “101 Goals in 1001 Days” idea??

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically you come up with a list of 101 preset tasks you want to complete in a period of 1001 days (about 2.75 years).

Sure, it sounds hokey, but I’ve found I’m a pretty goal/list oriented person. Sometimes I’ll e-mail myself on Friday things I want to accomplish that weekend, so I won’t forget (I also have a running e-mail in my in-box, with the subject “Things I Want to Cook”).

I started to list out my 101 Goals back in the summer, but coming up with 101 Goals is REALLY HARD. Last weekend, when the LOML and I were driving back from AU, we were talking about things we want to accomplish in the future, and I realized I need to finish this 101 Goals list.

I know there are websites/blogs than can help you brainstorm, but right now my list is about 45 items (I guess my 46th goal should be to complete this list) and four of those, I already completed (like I said, I started this in July):

• Buy a Life Insurance Policy
• Clean out the Backyard Shed
• Paint the Shutters (I just replaced them with new ones)
• Pay off Grad School Debt

Anyways, just some TMF’H ramblings. Maybe I’ll post the 101 when I’m through . . . I’m so vain.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can't Nobody Mix, Chop & Stir it Like Us

Last month, my brother & sister-in-law blogged about some Thai Soup they made, when they were feeling under the weather. I was jealous. It looked GOOD, and I wanted to make some (Paella, you’re next!).

So about a week ago (after a full day of parenting classes), I decided to hit up our favorite International Market, and pick up the ingredients to make some Spicy Thai Coconut Soup.

TMF’H Spicy Thai Coconut Soup
1 Tbs Peanut oil
2 Tbs Thai red curry paste
1 small container Mushrooms, quartered
1 Red bell pepper, chopped (I’d chop a little finer, next time)
2 ½ cups Coconut milk (I used one can, I forget the exact oz. amount)
2 ½ cups Fish stock (I used one can, I forget the exact oz. amount)
2 Tbs Thai fish sauce
½ lb Shrimp
½ lb cooked Chicken (I stir fried in a little sesame oil, with salt/pepper)
3 Scallions, sliced
2 Tbs chopped fresh Cilantro

Before I type anything else, let it be known, that I love my wife. But let’s be honest. If she had tasted/smelled some of these ingredients, before putting them in the soup, she probably would have nothing to do with it. And she REALLY loves Surin’s Coconut soup (She ended up liking this, too).

First, I heated the oil, and then added the curry paste, mushrooms and red bell pepper. I didn’t taste the curry paste before adding, but mine was SPICY (probably should have started with 1 Tbs). After stir-frying for a minute or two, I added the coconut milk, fish stock, and fish sauce and brought to a boil. After the soup is boiling, I added the (cooked) chicken and shrimp, and let the whole thing heat through (maybe 5 minutes). Then I threw in the scallions, and garnished with cilantro.

Again, this soup was SPICY and could have used a little more sweetness (brown sugar? honey?). We’ll definitely make this again. Who knows, maybe we’ll get crazy, and add tofu. I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.

War Damn Weekend

The LOML and I went to Auburn last weekend.

Why would you go to Auburn for an away game??


Just kidding. We just went for a nice, relaxing weekend at the AU Hotel & Conference Center. Walked around and ate at some of our favourite spots. Funniest sighting of the weekend was an “Aubie has a Posse” t-shirt in the vein of Shepard Fairey.

Here’s a severely over-exposed (err, “artsy”) picture of the pregnant LOML in front of Samford.

PS – Did you know Breeze Way shut down???? Apparently, it’s an India Garden restaurant now!! Gahlee, lucky AU students!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When in Rome, err, Germany . . . err, Florence

Happy Veteran’s Day, TMF’H readers. Since we’re auditing a credit union, and they were closed today, guess who worked from their hotel room today??? It was actually a pretty nice way to spend a Wednesday (I did have a window to look out), and my roomie and I took a field trip to UNA’s campus after lunch to see the lions. That’s right. The University of North Alabama is the only university in the country to have live Lion mascots living on campus.

For dinner, the team went to Hannelore’s Bratpfanne German Restaurant for some authentic deutsch food. In addition to some tasty German beer, I had the Beef Rouladen with a side of Kartoffel (potato dumplings) and red cabbage. Definitely tasted authentic (or at least non-Americanized)!!

Today I also saw a flyer for the 3/50 Project. It’s basically an idea is to commit $50 each month to locally owned businesses. They say that If just half the employed U.S. population spent $50 each month in independently owned businesses, their purchases would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue (statistics courtesy U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2/6/2009). And for every $100 spent in independently owned stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.

So next time you’re in Florence, AL check out Hannelore’s. And try the German chocolate cake. It’s schmackhafte and good for the community!

PS – the Hood Internet’s R. Kelly (feat. Keri Hilson) vs Sally Shapiro - Number One Christmas is the Scheiße!!! Seriously, why haven’t you downloaded that mixtape!?!?!?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blogging by the Book

This is what you came for. Pregnant belly shots of the Mrs. This was taken yesterday @ 30 weeks (plus 2 days). She really does look great for being 7 months pregnant.

The LOML and I had a pretty jam-packed parent (to-be) focused weekend. Saturday we had an all day parenting class at the hospital (they basically crammed four parenting classes into one day). I was telling fellow father-to-be Scooter, that it covered a lot of information that seems would be common sense, but you (I) don’t already know it. I mean, it wasn’t mind blowing information, but definitely good stuff to know. For instance, I learned how a baby literally gets from the safe and warm comforts of the LOML’s womb to the cold, harsh reality of an Obama administration (I guess that path could change with future healthcare legislation . . . Sorry. Glenn Beck just hijacked my computer. I promise I won’t get political up in here). We also learned about c-sections, swaddling, nursing, and a number of other baby related topics.

Then on Sunday, we had the extreme pleasure of hearing John Rosemond* speak at St. Peter’s. John is a nationally syndicated family psychologist and “expert” on parenting/child rearing. He is very OLD SCHOOL about his thoughts/methods regarding parenting (he also doesn’t claim them to be his thoughts/methods . . . they’re common sense, and been around forever. Or at least until the 1960’s when things got all psycho-babble cattywompus). Even though John is a board certified psychologist, he says “he no longer even ‘believes’ in psychology, calling it a ‘largely disingenuous secular religion that has fostered more discord and disharmony in the American family than any other single contemporary force except, perhaps, television.’" The LOML was already a fan of his work from her education classes at AU, and has been RAVING about his latest, “Parenting by the Book” the last few weeks. I’m planning on reading it this week, but would highly recommend you check out his work. He spoke for about 80 minutes, but if you missed it, his message should be available as a free download on St. Peter’s website sooner, than later (no link right now).

And speaking of downloads . . . THE HOOD INTERNET MIXTAPE VOL. FOUR dropped TODAY!!!!!!!!!!1!

* I don’t know what it is, but John Rosemond reminds me of an old English actor. Like the guy who played Dumbledore in HP 1 & 2 . . .

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An Accidental Guide to Blogging

I've already mentioned I’m a pretty big Michael Lewis fan. Last night (with all this ample free time in my hotel room), I finished reading his accidental guide to fatherhood, “Home Game.”

Everyone knows Michael Lewis is a fantastic writer. But these stories don’t leave you laughing out loud (well, there are a few exceptions) or reaching for the nearest Kleenex. He isn’t writing heartwarming tales of puppy dogs, sugar plums, or any other sentimental pleasantries expected to come with new fatherhood. No, he writes what (I imagine) most new fathers are thinking or experiencing after childbirth (or rather, their wife’s giving birth), i.e., mostly hijinks and shenanigans.

The stories from “Home Game” first appeared in a series of columns Lewis wrote for Slate.com a few years ago, which helps explain the flow/style (my literary analysis is so strong, I know) of the book (the “chapters” are about 5-7 pages each, and it’s not necessary to read them in sequence aka they don’t really build off each other).

All in all, I thought it was a good read, but I really think the best story of the whole book is the first one in the introduction. If you’ve got a spare 5 or 10 minutes at Barnes & Noble, you should definitely check it out (it did make me lolz).

Speaking of Lewis, has anyone else notice the recent marketing blitz for the Blind Side (I feel like every time I change the channel, I’m watching another preview on TV)?? I’m pumped about this movie because :

a) I’m a big Michael Lewis fan and this was a REALLY good book (although this film will probably only address half the subject matter of his book, and
b) The story is set in Memphis, specifically my high school’s arch rival, Briarcrest (known as Westminster in the film).

Plus Tommy T, Dr. Lou and a host of other football coaches make cameos which should lead to hilarity all on its own (Why isn’t Ed Orgeron in any of the previews???).

The previews look a little too chick flick-ish, but I’m hoping that’s just a ploy to get wives/girlfriends, etc. to see a movie about a 300+ lb offensive lineman.

Oh yeah, one last story (the World Series is still on*). A few months ago, Clay Travis was reporting on the progress of the Blind Side filming, and I sent him in a news tip from the Commercial Appeal. I actually e-mailed all our dude friends and CC:ed C’lay like we were buddies. We had a nice little e-mail chain going, and Colton said it’d be cooler to have Michael Lewis’ e-mail address, and then JD called C’lay “Randy”, and Clay ended up replying back to all us. Pretty sweet.

*Nevermind. Happy World Series, Evil Empire (Yanks)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Whole Lotta Rosie?? Next Time, I'll Pass

If you think about it, give the ole LOML a call, or drop by and see her this week. I’m out of town for work, and since we’re still under the “Room Sharing” policy, here is where I have to make most of our nightly phone calls . . . (sad face).

PS – tonight we ate dinner @ Rosie’s Mexican Cantina. I remember Mikey P. loved him some Rosie’s up in HSV, but the Florence location was just alright for me, dawg. Definitely the first time, I’ve tasted parmesan (??) in my queso dip . . .

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thanks a lot, Stupid Chase Commercial

The other night I was playing on the computer in our office, and the LOML was sitting in our nursery, reading, and she asked me to play some music on iTunes (run-on sentence alert). So I started playing some songs I thought she’d like, and then put on (rolling eyes at myself) that Five for Fighting song “100 Years” (remember that Chase credit card commercial *, where the young couple starts dating, then has kids, then grows old together?). Well, I thought I’d go into the nursery to sing for her my best falsetto version of that song (one of my biggest daily goals, is to make my dear wife laugh).

A few weeks ago, someone gave us this really sweet little outfit (yes, I know DBT says not to refer to anything as an “outfit”), and so I started to pretend our little baby girl was here. So I put the little dress in the crib, and pretend to lift her out. And I’m singing that stupid “I’m 23, for a moment” in my high voice. And then I pretend like the dress is a little 3 or 4 year old, scampering in to the nursery to see us. And then I hold the dress up a little higher, and pretend she’s a teenager, or home from college, and the song is still playing in the background, and the LOML and I are having a good ole laugh. But then, just when I’m wrapping up my dramatic interpretation of that commercial, I actually start to get a little sentimental, and have to fight off crocodile tears at how sad its gonna be for my (UNBORN) child to grow up and leave us. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!? I haven’t even met our precious little girl, and I’m already cheesing myself out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyways, I end up leaving the room, before the Mrs. can see I’ve gotten a little teary, but I admitted to her last night, how I’m a big fat cheese. I'm sure it's only gonna get worse, come January . . .

* While I was looking for that “100 Years” Chase commercial on youtube, I saw this one . . . GAHLEE, CAN WE PLEASE STOP PULLING MY FATHERLY HEART STRINGS?!?!?! Seriously, somebody get me a copy of “Butterfly Kisses” or something!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wow. Things Kinda Got Out of Hand Last Night.

You know that scene in Heavyweights. The one where Gerald and Pat Finley lock up Tony Perkis and all the other “bad” counselors. And then all the fat campers go crazy, ordering six foot long party subs, spraying whip cream and EZ cheese all over each other, and basically having a food orgy?? Well, last night for the LSU “game” (or shellacking, AU received) we kinda had one of those nights at the TMF’H household.

It started off as just a Wing Fest. We got 40 lbs of chicken wings (we fried 20*, and froze the other 20), and were just gonna make a bunch of sauces to try. Between the six dudes (and two wives), we had ten sauces. That alone was gonna be awesome enough (here is Jay showing you the wrong way to eat a (raw) chicken wing).

But then we decided to fry up some other things. So we fried mushrooms and greek olives (I think the womenz liked these more than the dudes), and then fried mini corn dog (bites) in honor of the Bengal Tigers. Awesome right?? Totally.

Well, then someone starts sending links to the Texas State Fair, and next thing you know, I’m whipping up a dessert batter to fry up rice krispie treats, oatmeal cream pies, moon pies, oreos, and (fun size) snickers bars. The oreo and snickers were pretty sweet (pun intended), but the LOML and I both woke up this morning just wanting something leafy and green.

But you know what the worst part about last night was?? 10 wing sauces and 3 different batters leaves a lot of dirty dishes. We waited til this morning to tackle them. Not cool.

* Have you ever stood over a deep fryer while 50+ wings cook at once?? It releases a lot of steam, which is kinda like a chicken dry cleaner. It was kinda awesome, but then kinda gross to think about.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Put on your Saris, it's time to celebrate Diwali

Last night, some fellas and I went to Taj India to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights!

It was awesome.

Jay is back in the states now, and wore his kurta.

After the article in last week’s Birmingham News, Taj India was packed. We had reservations for 8 pm, but didn’t sit down until 8:30, and the line for the buffet was probably 25+ long (who knew they had a back room at Taj India???).

The eggplant dish (recipe included in article) was really good, but we were surprised they didn’t have some of their other standard dishes (Chicken Tikka Masala, Shrimp Makhni, etc.). Maybe the food they had last night was like the turkey and dressing we have during Thanksgiving?? Either way, it was tasty (well, the desserts were kinda freaky), and we left stuffed.

PS – I downloaded a new app for my iPhone a few weeks ago called The Best Camera. It’s a pretty cool photo editing app, designed by über photog celebrity, Chase Jarvis.