April 22, 2007

Foodie for Dummies

Who better than I could write Foodie for Dummies? It would be a guidebook on becoming a foodie for the uninitiated reader. Nothing groundbreaking here, and perhaps no particularly good ideas either, but when did that stop me or anyone else from writing? My favorite reads are the ones that tell me what I already know. I feel empowered at sharing an opinion with a published writer. Blogs count. "Don't buy cheap shoes. Don't spend money you don't have," they tout. "Ooh, you're so right," I say. So here's the first idea I'm sharing. More will follow. Discussion and/or dissension is encouraged.

When you eat at a restaurant, order one of the house specials, the especialidades de la casa, the 'chef recommends,' whatever it's called. There is no point in going to a steakhouse to order chicken, a seafood restaurant for a hamburger, or anywhere to get chicken strips (if you're over ten years old).

Italian dinner

Tonight for dinner: Italian chicken breasts, wheat spaghetti with tomato sauce, garlic bread, and a couple of new recipes: Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon and Balsamic Vinaigrette and Lemon Chiffon Cake. I liked the spinach salad, but I love spinach. Scott said bacon was the only ingredient in the salad he liked, so that left more for me! Today I made my first attempt at chiffon cake. I was terrified of underbeating the egg whites, which turned out fine. Lemon Chiffon CakeHowever, as I feared, my tube pan was smaller than the one called for in the recipe. (Who can find a 16-cup tube pan?) The cake didn't spill over the edge, but it did puff up quite a bit during cooking, creating a two-inch wide burned ring around the bottom of the cake. A serrated knife and a lemon glaze helped its appearance somewhat, though it's just going to have to settle for being pretty in its own little way. The cake and I both try to get by on our sparkling personalities instead.

I forgot to plug the Lubbock Arts Festival to my wide reading audience in Lubbock. Now it's too late, but if you didn't make it, you can still hit the First Friday Art Trail on May 4.

April 15, 2007

Feasting on Asphalt II

Yesterday was Daddy's birthday, and at dinner we lived it up with a salad. If that doesn't sound like indulgence to you, then let me tell you about this so-called salad. Last week when we were in Provo, we went to a yummy restaurant called Cafe Rio. Wendy told us to get the Pork Barbacoa Salad, something I wouldn't have chosen on my own, but that was only because I didn't know what I was missing.

Cafe Rio Salad

The salad starts with a handmade flour tortilla that's fairly thin and as big as your arm. It's covered with Romaine lettuce and a good helping of rice and black beans. Then there's the pork! It's a nice, sweet meat (thanks, Babe) that melts in your mouth. Their pork is probably cooked on a low heat for hours to get to that tender perfection. Add to that the house dressing - a tomatillo-lime delight, some cojita cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, and tortilla strips, and you've got yourself a 12,000 calorie salad. It reminds me of a line from my favorite Budweiser Real Men of Genius radio ad: Mr. Giant Taco Salad Inventor. Is it healthy? "Of course it is. It's a salad, isn't it?"

Then Dad opened presents. I was really excited about giving Dad his gifts, because I think he's pretty hard to shop for. He's the guy that doesn't seem to need or want anything. We gave him Microsoft Flight Simulator X with a flight simulator yoke. He also got Feasting on Asphalt on DVD.

Dad used to have fun flying planes and riding his motorcycle all around the country, but I guess now he's just doing it vicariously. I haven't heard him laugh so hard in a long time as he did when we watched Feasting on Asphalt last night. I haven't enjoyed a TV show so much myself in quite awhile. Alton Brown and the gang ride cross-country (sort of) on their motorcycles hitting small diners and other off-the-beaten-path establishments. Actually, that's how my dad met my mom. He and his family rode from Lubbock up to southern Colorado on their motorcycles. They stopped in a little touristy town called Silverton, where Mom worked as a waitress in a restaurant called the Bent Elbow, where they stopped to eat. The rest is history, or that's the version I've been told.

In the course of the show, Alton even tries pickled pigs feet. That makes me think of my mom, who had a craving for those awful things when she was pregnant, and will still eat them to this day. I know, it sounds like a horrible joke, but it is true!

Everyone was too full from the salad to eat birthday cake, so we ate it today instead. No candles on top, just vanilla ice cream on the side. No need to mar that yummy frosting with candle wax. I told Dad I'd just put 54 pecans in his German Chocolate Cake instead. Happy birthday, Daddy!

German Chocolate Cake

(Here are the birthday party pics. I found the salad recipe here. I made a couple of changes to the salad dressing recipe. I didn't use all the lime juice it called for, only used 1 envelope of Fiesta Ranch salad dressing mix, and I added about a half cup of mayonnaise. Thank you, Rosa's, for supplying the tortillas, pico de gallo, and guacamole.)

Feasting on Asphalt I

April 14, 2007

Homeland security

I don't yet know what to think of these new security measures in place on the financial sites I hit, e.g., banking and credit card, and on various other sites requiring a user name and password. Most of them now require you to select a super secret password with a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and Chinese characters. Then you have to type "Open Sesame" in three languages. The more frustrating part is the super secret security questions you have to answer. These sites allow you to choose from random questions that supposedly only you will know the answer to, such as:
What is your mother's maiden name?
What is your favorite restaurant?
What is your favorite music group?
What is your pet's name?
Where did you meet your spouse?
What kind of shampoo do you use?
Some of the questions don't apply to everyone, like people without mothers, people who don't eat, the pet-free, the deaf, the unmarried, the unhygienic - of course, those last two groups can be lumped together.

I find it hard to select a security question that even applies to me. My other beef with some of these questions is that they're too hard for me to answer. I can remember the answer to the mother's maiden name question, but I'm usually stuck on the rest of them. My favorites change weekly. I listen to "MyStation" on Yahoo! Music and think, "I once rated this song 'Can't get enough'? I hate this song! And Paul Anka is on my favorites list?!?"

What happens is that I get in an argument with myself that sounds like something from 'The Newlywed Game.' I imagine that all those couples that are on the show go home after it's over and fight about the answers they gave on the show. "I can't believe you said that your favorite food is pizza, when we both know it's steak!" Nag nag. So I say to myself, "There's no way you said that your favorite music group was Bread, when we both know that you own multiple Beatles posters." "I can't believe you don't remember what your favorite place to visit as a child was, either."

These security measures aren't keeping anyone but me from accessing my personal information. It's rather like some of the airport security measures which guarantee that no one will get past the security checkpoint with lipstick and volumizing gel. They also guarantee that your luggage will be rifled through, generally mussed up, and probably damaged in some way. Anyone with a credit card, bank account, or a roof over their head has probably already given away any semblance of privacy and secure personal information. I for one can't keep all the user names and passwords straight. That's why I had to make a Word doc called "Passwords" to save on my desktop. The rest of the passwords are written on sticky notes scattered around my home and office.

My folks' new laptop has one of those fingerprint-identifying scanners for Windows login. Having fingerprint identification on my laptop is the last place I need it. The computer never leaves my lap, and the odds of me sharing are slim. I am, however, holding out for a retina scan on my front door. The guys picking me up for a date would be prescreened for gorgeous eyes.

April 12, 2007

Signs of sleep deprivation

In my experience, sometimes a Thursday the 12th can be just as bad as a Friday the 13th, but for some reason, no one acknowledges it.

I can always tell when I haven't gotten enough sleep. I feel fine but the outward signs manifest themselves. Clues:
  • I lock my keys in my car. (This happens more often than I want to admit.)

  • I have real trouble talking: stuttering, using words in ways never intended, &c.

  • I fall asleep with cookies baking in the oven.

  • I reach for the rubbing alcohol instead of the eye makeup remover. Ouch!
I know there are other manifestations. I've probably even blogged about them. It's just hard to tell the difference between that lack of sleep thing and that lack of brainpower thing.Abby partied too hard

What happens to you when you don't get enough beauty sleep?

April 7, 2007

The weather is here. Wish you were beautiful.

April 7, 2007 temperature readings
I'm so glad I'm not at home this weekend. The kids at home will be hunting Easter Eggs in the snow. Meanwhile, I'm up here enjoying the sunshine and 70ยบ weather. I even got a little sunburn. It's funny to coordinate with other people about little things like where you're going to park and who's going to get a shot at the one bathroom first. I've been living alone for too long.

Our first night in Provo, we ate at Munchies, which is a restaurant owned by a Taiwanese family. Everything was very tasty. I love boba drinks. I don't think Dad or Scott had ever tried one before, and it was pretty funny to watch them try a fruit smoothie with boba (tapioca pearls) in the bottom. Yesterday we ate lunch at Skyroom and had a nice view of the campus. Wendy and I went to the BYU Museum of Art. Then we drove up to see the Bridal Veil Falls at the south end of the Provo Canyon. We also got to see some of our Utah relations and some family friends from Lubbock that moved to Utah, including one of my very best childhood friends. Then we ate dinner at Pier 49 Pizza.

Here are some Provo pictures.

April 6, 2007

Hello from Happy Valley

I'm playing with my new camera and flickr. Today I had a couple of hours to kill while Scott and the folks checked out the U of U. I wandered around Temple Square in Salt Lake and pretty much took the same picture over and over. The flowers are gorgeous.

Will post the Provo edition tomorrow...