Feb 22, 2013

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like Genghis Grill. I've had a few opportunities to meet friends and associates at Genghis Grill in Hoover before, but meeting one of our Sunday School "shepherds" there this week made me realize how much I enjoy this place. If you've never eaten there, the concept is unlike anything that you’re used to. There are plenty of opportunities for first-timers to make themselves look foolish. At Genghis Grill, you’re given a bowl to take to a buffet line that features raw meats, vegetables, spices and sauces. Load up your bowl with the ingredients you prefer, select two starches (rice, noodles, etc.) and leave your bowl in the good hands of the chefs manning a rounded grilling surface. In a few minutes, your cooked creation will be brought to your table and you will love it because you made it. And it tastes very good! Block out any concerns about cross contamination at the buffet line and try Genghis Grill today!

This week, I love The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. This PBS film directed by Ken Burns is typical of a Ken Burns project. It features beautiful photography and insightful commentary from folks that know a great deal about the subject of the film. The film covers 150 years’ worth of history of the National Parks system – how they came to be, the major players involved and much more. I’m not done watching the film yet but here are some observations to this point:

  • I’m very thankful that people like John Muir and Stephen Mather could foresee the damage caused to these previously untouched lands if left unprotected. 
  • The Grand Canyon has been around for a very, very, very, very, very long time. 
  • I don’t think today’s camera technology can capture photographs as beautiful as the photos taken by the early explorers seen that are seen in the film. 

I've seen Burns’ films about the War Between the States, baseball and prohibition. National Parks makes me want to see his other films but it will be very difficult to impress me more than this film. Let me say this too: this film is not only informative and entertaining but it is also very calming and can double as a tremendous sleep aid if needed. I don’t mean that as an insult at all.

This week, I don’t like my road rage. I will quickly let you know that I am a very good driver. I have come to tolerate bad drivers since I moved to Birmingham. You’re really left with no choice but to adapt your skills to accommodate the bad drivers around you. Recently, I witnessed two separate exhibitions of incredibly poor driving decisions that made my blood boil, my heart race and my mind consider doing very stupid things. I don’t enjoy reacting like this. Fortunately, I haven’t put any of my dumb thoughts to action. I know better than to assume that the drivers I see blatantly violating the rules of the road don’t also have an illegal gun in their car. I haven’t experienced road rage in a very long time and I hope that I can go back to refraining from getting so worked up.

Two points from this video: Road rage is worldwide and this a good reminder that situations that make me mad can escalate into something much worse very quickly.

Feb 17, 2013


Here are a few of the new recipes I have tried lately:

Broccoli Cheese & Cracker Casserole
Pioneer Woman
(This is sooo yummy...even Graham liked it!)

  • 3 pounds Broccoli Cut Into Florets
  • 2 pounds Velveeta
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • Salt And Black Pepper To Taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (more For More Spice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon (optional)
  • 3 whole (sleeves) Ritz Crackers
Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place crackers into a large ziploc bag and crush slightly, leaving some large chunks. Set aside.
Plunge broccoli into boiling water and allow to boil for 1 minute. Strain and set aside.
Cut Velveeta into chunks. Throw into a large pot with milk, cream, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Melt, stirring occasionally, until totally smooth. Stir in Dijon if using.
Add broccoli to cheese sauce, then add half the cracker crumbs. Stir to combine, then pour mixture into a buttered 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Top with remaining cracker crumbs, then sprinkle the top generously with black pepper.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown and casserole is bubbly.

Frito Chili Pie
Pioneer Woman
(I have tried several different chili recipes and this one was really good.  I didn't serve it in the Frito bag, but the chips definitely add an important element...so don't leave those out..)
  • 2 pounds Ground Chuck
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced (optional)
  • 1 can (12 To 14 Ounce) Tomato Sauce
  • 1 can (10 Ounce) Ro-tel (diced Tomatoes And Chilies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons Chili Powder (more To Taste)
  • 1 can (14-ounce) Kidney Beans, Drained And Rinsed
  • 1 can (14-ounce) Pinto Beans, Drained And Rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Masa (corn Flour) Or Regular Corn Meal
  • 1/2 cup Warm Water
  • Individual Bags Of Fritos
  • Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Diced Red Onion (Optional)
Preparation Instructions
Brown ground chuck with garlic in a pot over medium-high heat. Add tomato sauce, Rotel, salt, oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Add drained and rinsed beans. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Mix masa with water, then add to the chili. Stir to combine and simmer for a final 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
Serve by slicing the Frito bags open lengthwise. Pile in chili and cheese, and diced onion if using. Serve immediately with plastic forks. A crowd-pleaser!

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
Ina Garten
(Cannot say enough about this one....I wanted to make a special meal for Nick on Valentine's Day and this was the ticket.  Served it over filets with grilled vegetables and twice baked potatoes.  He LOVED it!)
4 cups heavy cream
3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola (not creamy or "dolce")
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then continue to boil rapidly for 45 to 50 minutes, until thickened like a white sauce, stirring occasionally.

Off the heat, add the Gorgonzola, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk rapidly until the cheeses melt and serve warm. If you must reheat, warm the sauce over low heat until melted, then whisk vigorously until the sauce comes together.

Jane Corman
(My wonderful mother created this one all by herself.  My father-in-law loves Ambrosia so I surprised him and made it when they were in a town a few weekends ago.  It takes a long time to cut up all of the fruit, but it is well worth the effort... especially when you have a father-in-law as wonderful as mine.)
6 navel oranges
3 tangelos
1 apple (I used a fuji I think)
1/3 to ½  pineapple + juice from container
1 jar maraschino cherries + syrup in jar

Cut the oranges and tangelos like a grapefruit and use a grapefruit knife to cut out the pulp.  Hold over a bowl to capture all the juice and squeeze at the end to get all juice.  Cut up the apple and fresh pineapple very fine and add to citrus.  Cut the cherries in half and add them and the juice from the jar to other fruit.  Toss in however much coconut you like-I probably added ¾ of a cup of the angel flake bag coconut.  You can certainly reserve some without coconut for those of you who do not like coconut.  Just toss all together and enjoy.  Will keep in the refrigerator at least 3 or 4 days.

Feb 6, 2013

Like, Love and Don't Like

This week, I like spring cleaning. It’s not quite spring but Julie and I have definitely been doing some cleaning. Julie has been doing a lot more on her own but she and I have tackled a few closets together. It’s amazing how admitting certain facts can impact my purging efforts. Like that I’ll never wear a particular shirt or never fit into a pair of slacks again. Julie is great about documenting all of our clothing donations for tax purposes and she has become a real pro at eBay, Craigslist and a local Facebook auction group. So far, we've cleaned out my closet, our utility closet and the laundry room. I enjoy spring cleaning but it’s even better with Julie! I can’t wait until we focus on her closet!!!

This week, I love Vine. From the Vine blog: Vine is “a new mobile service that lets you create and share beautiful, short looping videos.” It was developed by some of the folks involved with the creation of Twitter so, naturally, your Vine videos can be easily shared through your Twitter account. Vine is a program that works with your phone’s camera and allows you to film six seconds of video that tells a particular story. That’s the key point: your short video should tell a story. I’m still new to Vine but here’s a video I did to give viewers an idea of what our nightly routine with Graham is like.

To get the full experience, click here to go to my Vine page. Vine’s been called “Instagram for video”. I never got into Instagram but I’m really going to like Vine. Many people have taken a lot of time to craft very detailed videos but the best part of Vine is that you can be as sloppy as you want to be.

This week, I don’t like “Hulu Hangups”. As mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been enjoying Hulu Plus via our PlayStation 3. It’s a great service but more often than not, I’ll experience a “Hulu Hangup” when trying to watch a show. Hulu Plus has loads of great content and it’s all organized very well. But when trying to quickly drill down through different seasons of shows, the service sometimes just…goes blank. The only way to overcome this problem is to close out Hulu Plus all together and start over. I don’t think Julie has experienced this with her Roku device so maybe this is just a PS3 issue.