Shut it Down

My uterus is closed for business.  I wasn't looking to have kids until at least a year after I got married anyway but staying at Rashan's mom's (RM) house enforced that.  Two children under the age of 10 (3.75 & 9) live there full-time.  Lots of screaming from the children and some directed at the children for misbehavior.  Jesus be an earplug!!

I realized as we were headed to RM's that it would be my first time staying in a house with children that young probably since I was a child that young.  My mom's side lives in Mississippi and the youngest never stayed at the house.  On my dad's side the youngest included me.  Only my sister and cousin were younger than me and they were 2 and 3 years younger respectively.  I was already nervous about heading to RM's house because Rashan had warned me on multiple occasions the unruliness I had ahead of me.  It wasn't enough.  Ummmm.... WHY ARE YOU SO LOUD!?!?

Awakened before 9 a.m. by continuous wails over video games, "NATE KILLED ME!!! WAAAAAAAH!!" ad nauseum... on a game where you have unlimited lives... SOMEONE SHUT IT UP!!   GIVE IT WHAT IT WANTS!!  PLEEEEEEASE!!  Thanksgiving day was awesome because there was an additional child or four under 10... yes... FOUR MORE UNDER THE AGE OF 10 not including the sweetest baby!  Two of those under 10 were quiet, the others were egging on the terrors. 

I'm not ready for motherhood!!!  As I kept saying no children, Rashan told me I don't want children who don't listen.  Right now I don't want ANY.  And then those of you with children keep talking about being awakened at 6, 7, 8 a.m. on your days off... all the time?  Uhhhh.... I'm not good with that kind of stuff.  At. all.  I read a funny fb status yesterday, "Newborns need to come equiped with a snooze button on top of their heads. I've never been a snooze button user, but at this rate, I'm almost converted. #1am4am7am"  Funny in a nervouslaughterpleasenotmenotnowJesusIneedlike2-4moreyears kind of way.  I will be very glad to be back in my childless house this week and my mom's childless house at Christmas.  PRAIIIIIIIIIIIISE JESUS!!

*I'm taking a Monday Mindspacing hiatus this week because it's too hard with daily posting.  If I'm not still posting daily next week, it may return.  You know two years ago Rashan & I couldn't stop posting because we got into a competition over who would stop posting first.  I want to remind you that I beat him by like 3 months.  I don't win, I CRUSH THE COMPETITION!!


Crazy Movie Lady 44

November 22- 28, 2009
This week was horrible for movie watching because it was Thanksgiving and I was with Rashan's family in Savannah.  I'm determined to catch up with my movie watching before the end of the month though because there are only 33 more days to finish these films and I don't want to have to watch 9 films on December 31st!!
658. The Union: The Business Behind Getting High.  Super Size Me- style questioning on an issue with animation.  Very slanted (of course) in favor of marijuana legalization aka propaganda.  Man on the street interviews in overabundance.  Irritating intrusive music (common problem).  It wouldn't have been such a big deal if it wasn't so overused.  1hr44m is too long for this film.  After about 30 minutes it felt like you'd already heard every argument that would be used.  There were some really unnecessary shots and scenes that didn't advance the story line at all.  There was next to no attribution of an insane amount of stats.  Crazy.  Most irritating, though, were definitely the filmmaker walk & talks.  Stop trying to teach in such an offensively juvenile manner.  Silly, silly leading questions.  Because so many topics were covered, almost none of them were properly fleshed out.  Edit.  2.3 stars
659. Rashoman. Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's classic film about a murder told from 4 perspectives, including that of a ghost.  I was intrigued by this film but felt like I was supposed to like it more than I did just because I've heard so much about it from the film community.  Some great fight scenes.  3.4 stars
660. Yours, Mine, Ours.  Rene Russo & Dennis Quaid in the Nickelodeon remake of the classic film about a couple who marries & has 18 children between them.  (When I picked this up I thought it was the classic rather than the remake...)  He's an uptight military man, she's a free-spirited creative type.  She has a multi-cultural family of biological and adopted children.  Silly at times.  Fine for kids.  3.2 stars
661. Two Lovers.  Joaquin Phoenix & Gwyneth Paltrow star in a film about a mentally unstable man (who's probably already quirky) who finds himself involved with two women.  Interesting plot until it started following all the predictable (and therefore boring) turns.  Why bother to build toward something different without following through?  2.7 stars
662. That Touch of Mink. Cary Grant & Doris Day meet when he splashes her.  Their relationship hits all kinds of snags as he's a rich commitment-phobe and she's poor & proud.  Cute movie with some great comedic moments.  4 stars
663. Duplicity.  Spy movie with Julia Roberts & Clive Owens as a couple masquerading as enemies/people who don't know each other but are in on a big information heist.  A little long for what was delivered but the punch line ending was a nice surprise.  4 stars
664.  Short Circuit.  Ally Sheedy stars in this film about a robot that malfunctions, then thinks its alive.  Oh 80s music...  Mildly amusing start gave way to implausibility after implausibility even for a sci-fi-esque movie.  2 stars
665. What Happens in Vegas.  Cameron Diaz & Ashton Kutcher are a go-getter and a screw-up who get married in Vegas.  Of course madness ensues as they try to make their marriage work.  I was surprised to enjoy this movie and giggle throughout.  It got a little long for the amount of action.  and story line.  3.8 stars
666. Click.  Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale & Christopher Walken in a movie about a man who gets a remote to fast-forward through parts of his life, but then the remote starts doing what it wants.  The main menu & making of scenes definitely brought the movie to a much more ridiculous place.  Predictable and stupid.  While he was fast-forwarding his life, I wanted to fast forward this film.  Dumb.  Then out of nowhere it got all sentimental.  Adam Sandler can and has done better than this.  Awful.  Don't bother.  1.4 stars
667. Dark Days.  Black and white documentary about homeless people living in a dark underground tunnel in NYC.  Some fantastic cinematography in this stark film about life next to the train.  The rat shots were HORRID.  It was tiring and depressing listening to them talking about their lives.  But then amazing to hear the normal things they did to make their huts homes.  You wondered why they stayed.  I'm sure a lot of people watch this and love the above ground shots to break up the darkness and as a contrast showing the lives the rest of us are living.  For me it was unnecessary.  Excellent story construction.  It made me grateful I was raised in a loving, stable home.  The use of written material was very confusing.  It moved too quickly to read the large amount of material.  Overall, a great film.  4.3 stars


Week 4, Recipe 2: Fried Oysters

While at Rashan's mom's house for Thanksgiving I fried oysters.

2 eggs

2 tbsp. milk
salt & pepper
1 lb. of oysters
bread crumbs, flour or breading of your choice

Drain oysters.  Combine first four ingredients.  Coat oysters with egg mixture, then dip in flour.  Shake excess.  Fry in hot oil until golden brown.

Results: The oil got way too hot on Rah's mom's brand new digital stove & I didn't have a slotted spoon nearby so the first two or three I put in the oil burned.  Booo.  No worries.  I had at least 4 lbs. of oysters.  Once I got new oil & got it to a reasonable temp, the oysters came out fabulously.  They were a hit & gone way too fast!!  I didn't get enough!  I'll definitely be doing this recipe again!



My Thanksgiving was awesome!  I talked to my mom twice, my sister once & my dad once.  My brother called me but I was on River Street in Savannah getting daiquiris with Rashan.  Mmmmm.  That's where I saw a HAT SHOP!!!!!  You know who's going back there before she leaves, right?  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  Thanksgiving was full of cuteness.

Rashan and I left about 2 hours after he wanted to leave because we went to sleep so late.  SO late!  Like 430 or 5am late... for the 2nd night in a row.  Both of us are super night time people.  We do not like waking up early but we love going to sleep late at night... i.e. the exact opposite of Stace.  That is definitely the biggest difference between us.  In my head, anyway, because I feel like that sort of plays a defining role in my personality.

Wow tangent.  I met Rashan's grandma for the first time today.  She's so sweet!  We picked her up, then headed to Rashan's mom's house.  I asked Rashan's mom if she needed any help in the kitchen as soon as I walked in the door.  I got to fry the oysters.  I. LOVE. OYSTERS!!!!  I had never done it before but Rah's mom (RM) gave me a recipe, it was very simple & they turned out awesome!  They were a hit!!  There was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much food!!!  I had FIVE meats.  FIVE!!  Oysters, shrimp, turkey, ham, & fish.  Mmmmmmmmmmm!  The sides were greens, potato salad, spinach casserole, mac & cheese, green beans, yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing, rolls.  I had to hold myself back.  I left off the rolls, cran & yams and got small portions of both & was still stuffed 5 hours later... WOW.  THAT'S THANKSGIVING! 

I fit in nicely with his family and got a lot of laughs out of our interactions.  One of the kids got a minor injury and when asked if he was okay yelled, "I'M NOT OKAY!" which cracked all of us up!!!  HILARIOUS!!!  He was fine.  You have a teeny cut on your hand.  Chill out.  Then his cousin kept crying for no reason.  His mom/dad said, "Are you sleepy?"  Through the tears he said, "Yeeeeeeeeeeesssssss!"  Soooo funny!!  Are those funny hearing about, too or only seeing?  One of those you had to be there moments? 

I know all you want from me is pics of the food so here it is and look at Rashan's plate.  Woooooow........  And he got seconds!!  (Full disclosure: after our visit to the daiquiri shop, we're both about to go make another plate.... at 2:30am.... AND WHAT!?  LOL)


Week 4, Recipe 1: Chicken Tetrazzini

Rashan loves turkey tetrazzini so I made it for his birthday dinner!  (Come to find out he got it at school & the hospital where he once worked-- hilarious! I thought it was something his mom made.)  I got the recipe from Giada De Laurentiis.

  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces linguine
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Spread 1 tablespoon of butter over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a deep large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until pale golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Coarsely shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 12 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the chicken.

Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add the linguine, sauce, peas, and parsley to the chicken mixture. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta and the mixture is well blended.

Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.

Results:  This was definitely the most involved recipe I've ever followed as it took about 2 hours.  I ended up calling him in to help at one point because he likes to AND because I felt like I needed more hands than I own to get it done.  That said this joint was DELICIOUS!  I think I'll put the breadcrumbs & cheese mix throughout next time.  SO GOOD!!!  We had to force ourselves to stop eating.  For the wine I used Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon.  We ate by candlelight because we're so cute! :)


Do You Know What Today Is????

Rashan's birthday!!  Happy Birthday old man!  35 now huh?  That makes me feel way older than I'm sure it makes you feel.  How is it possible that I'm dating a 35-year-old man?  My mom & his sister have both shamed me this week about calling him old.  I'm sayin...  I'm guessing his sister is saying it because she's two years older so if he's old... Lol.  Is a birthday an inappropriate time to do a roast?  Because according to Comedy Central & The Office, it's the perfect time!

Let's get it!!

Rashan you know how you're always saying you don't read because "shorty can't eat no books"?  We all know it's because your attention span isn't long enough to read a 500-word blog post, let alone a 50,000-word book.  Uh-oh.  Guess that means you won't finish this post.

As heartily as you disagree with becoming a vegetarian, I hope you know an alien may come skin you one day.  And I think we can all agree that though you'd make a warmer coat, I'd make a cuter one.

Rashan, your mom called to wish you a happy bir.  Wait your mom never calls.  I'm guessing your birthday is no reason to remember you now.

This picture is it's own joke.  Bet that'll teach you to take pictures of yourself with my camera!!

(I save the sweet stuff for the anniversary.)

Add yours!


Pre-Thanksgiving Fatness

I have just had one of the fattest weeks of my life AND IT'S STILL NOT THANKSGIVING!! OH MY!!! Let's get fat with food via pics... well y'all... because you better believe I consumed all of this stuff & Rashan helped!

First up we have Pakistani food prepared by my classmate.  AWESOME!!  Chickpeas, some of the most tender chicken I've ever had, spicy potatoes, rice w/peas & carrots & green beans topped with DELICIOUS raita (a yogurt sauce-- which she subsequently gave me the recipe for and I might put on everything, DESERT INCLUDED!!), naan (bread similar to pita).  And in the top right corner is my zucchini & corn mix people like to eat.  Next up: my famous "sugary concoction" as my classmates call it-- frozen lemonade, sugar & the fruit of my choice, this time frozen strawberries (in summer I use fresh peaches) combined with my immersion blender.
We also have BBQ nachos with jalapenos procured at the game.  Do you even understand that's about to be my new Super Bowl specialty?  I smelled them at the last game.  AWE.SOME!!  Totally worth the $6.50 I paid for it.  In the skillet is rosemary, garlic & EVOO which I then added to white beans & pureed (Rachael Ray recipe from her Open House Cookbook).  Very yummy.  My classmate also made homemade mango ice cream and forced me to take home with me... Lol!  Thanks!  AND my love brought me Bojangles cajun fillet biscuits!!!!!!  AWESOME!!  I <3 him!!!  

 You know nothing is complete with a Mexican feast, right?  RIGHT!  Rashan and I had tacos (chorizo & steak), huaraches (chicken & beef), & gorditas (marinated pork & chicken).  Mmmmmmmmm.

And did I mention I'm still not to Thanksgiving yet?  Ohhhh buddy!


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 25

1) Why are there every year "new ways to use your Thanksgiving leftovers!!"?  I know because there's a demand.  But all of these ways can't be new.  Some of you are talking in circles.
2) Do not take this as anything other than I know a lot of people who have gotten married in the last 2 years, either personally or peripherally.  I'm not going to some regular domestic locale for my honeymoon.  Ain't. happenin.  If I can drive there comfortably in a day, I'm not going.  AND I'M GOING ON A HONEYMOON.   I want something that sounds cool like Tahiti or Belize or the Seychelles (one of my old bloggers is from there... I smell a hookup!).  I have considered a Pacific Northwest food cruise but decided that's still too normal.  If that's evidence of my high maintenance, so be it & that's just the tip of the iceberg.  But next time, please have standards and you won't find mine so frightening.
3) I was drowning in the presence of my momma last week!  In a happy way (& even convinced her to stay an extra day!)! She didn't bring my aunt "after you cut up like you did."  I said, "I didn't even say anything!" She said, "exactly."  As long as I can get my point across...  But the point is I'm SO glad she didn't bring my aunt!  So much more fun when it's just the two of us! :)
4) Rashan is smart.  The other night my mom PISSED ME OFF!!  I was smarting and ready to pick a fight with him when he was about to ask a whole bunch of questions I knew I wouldn't have the answers to anymore than I did the last time he asked the questions a month ago WHICH IRRITATES ME.  I said, "Ask your questions."  He politely declined.  I just wanted a reason to yell... he knew this.  Smart man.  It wasn't a conscious test but he passed.
5) Stace introduced me to triple-blade razors & I never want to look back!  WOW!  That is an awesome shave!
6) I really want some posies.
7) Know what would be really cool?  If one time after I told someone my major is documentary filmmaking they didn't say "I have an idea for a great documentary" when it's actually a really bad idea for a documentary... unless you like boring documentaries.  Somebody give me a good idea for a doc one day.  I know it'll happen.  I'm just waiting for it.  And hoping for a break in the string of terrible ideas.
8) Dear bloggers, is it so hard to leave comments?  I'm not even talking to lurkers, but to fellow bloggers.  You know you like comments on your blog, gone head and share that love.  Or don't but don't expect me to keep commenting on your blog if you're not going to do the same.  Rashan would like to add, "Don't put your excuses in my comments right now, just fix it."  I second that emotion.
9) The last week has been so fantastic in food for me.  Amazing and delicious.  Happy & exciting and I'd like to thank God for that & thank him in advance for an amazing Thanksgiving dinner.  THANK YOU JESUS!!  :)  (How fat is it to thank God for food so profusely?  Lol)
10) Do you know how excited I am to be going to Savannah for the first time?!  If you know about the city and have some suggestions, do tell!!
11) As offensive as it may be, some people shouldn't be allowed to speak without subtitles.  I. can.not. under.stand. you.  IronChefMorimoto.  There.  I said it.  And some of you British people fall into that category, too.  I know, I know.  So American. *shrug* You know there's some Briton who uses subtitles for GoneWiththeWind!  Lol.  Probably some Canadian, too!  So there!


Crazy Movie Lady 43

November 15-21, 2009
A visit from momma meant I watched fewer movies than usual.  Still behind but I should be able to catch up this week since I only have ONE day of work!!!!  YESSSSS!!  But I'll also be in Savannah... hmmm....
647. The Life of David Gale.  Kate Winslett, Laura Linney (I like her), Kevin Spacey star in this film about a convicted rapist & murderer reminiscing about his life on the last days of his life.  The heartstring-tugging music was ridiculous.  It cheapened the effect of what was otherwise a pretty good movie.  Just a tad too long.  3.8 stars
648. The Maltese Falcon.  Classic detective thriller directed by John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart with a supporting role by Peter Lorre.  Criminals on the hunt for the maltese falcon involve Sam Spade (Bogart) in their plot as he tries to unravel the truth.  I enjoyed it.  I realized I don't like Bogey that much... I know...  Somewhat strange for me, too.  4 stars
649. Unfaithfully Yours.  An orchestra conductor goes nuts at the thought of his wife possibly with another man.  There was this A.MA.ZING dress in this film that I neeeeeeed minus the roses on the back.  There were some bizarrely unnecessary sound effects.  The transitions to the dream sequences were overly exaggerated, too.  The film was interesting and engaging for the first 1hr15 but became too ridiculous and just wouldn't end.  It started out as a 4 star film, ended as a 2 star.  Too outrageous and at least 15 minutes too long.  Incredibly disappointing end to a lovely start.
650. The Chorus.  French film about a music teacher at a school for orphans and boys who misbehave and their transformation.  Some of it was unbelievable and it sounds kind of corny but there's humor and the music is beautiful.  The end stole my heart.  4.7 stars
651. To Be or Not to Be.  Carole Lombard & Jack Benny star as a actors who find themselves a part of the Polish resistance.  The plot is convoluted which makes it seem unnecessarily long.  The script has strange bits of humor among awkward moments.  Waste of Lombard and Benny.  They are amusing in their roles but again, it's awkward.  There were plot additions that extended the film for no reason after it had reached a natural conclusion.  I became increasingly disgruntled the longer it lasted.  I'm sorry this was her last film.  That doesn't make it a good one.  Please don't waste your time.  2 stars
652. Waltz with Bashir.  Animated Israeli film about the director's memory gaps about his service with the Israeli army during the Lebanese war in the 1980s.  It relieves coping the war & coping methods.  I wish I'd had more background info before watching this film.  I felt like I was dropped into the middle of a conflict I knew nothing about.  3.2 stars
653. The Public Enemy.  Jean Harlow & James Cagney gangster classic from 1931.  Awesome rain shots toward the end.  I didn't love this movie.  It had its merits but not enough to really keep my attention until the end which is too late.  2.9 stars
654. The Break-Up Artist.  Good concept of a movie about a girl who breaks up with people for people for a living.  There was some really bad acting from secondary characters.  Some stereotypical dialogue & overuse of music.  There was an interesting twist when she found out who her competition was.  Decent chemistry between the two main characters.  Trite plot contrivances keep this movie from becoming better than it is.  3 stars
655. The Palm Beach Story.  1940s film about a woman who leaves her husband to get a divorce.  They both go on adventures as he tries to win her back.  The black roles were horrendous.  I didn't really care what happened to the main characters.  There were multiple scenes that were either useless or had long used up their purpose before they ended.  And the actual end?  Horrid.  2 stars
656. Six O'Clock News.  Documentary about people covered in tragedies on the local news.  The filmmaker seems utterly unable to make a film without inserting himself... sometimes to the detriment of the film.  You don't really have to narrate everything and so insidiously insert yourself.  Extricate!  The stories would have been more powerful without his personal anecdotes as well.  I wanted to hear more from the people who inspired him to start shooting.  Overuse of some interviews and interview subjects past their interest.  He makes these attempts to take ordinary or even extraordinary events in people's lives and make them philosophical messages.  I would've been happier with fewer screen shots of static as a device.  Very abrupt non-ending.  2.3 stars
656. How to Be.  Indie film about a guy (Robert Pattinson) in his 20s who moves back home after he's dumped by his girlfriend and spends the film trying to figure out his life.  Hmmm... a bit too aimless for me but I can see other people liking this.  It's difficult for me to watch films about shiftless people.  Typical super specific indie music.  2.9 stars
657. The Hours.  Meryl Streep (my girl), Nicole Kidman & Julianne Moore in a film about three connected but unconnected women dealing with melancholy in their lives merged by Virginia Woolf (Kidman) and her book Mrs. Dalloway.  Some really beautifully written dialogue.  Ed Harris was great, as was Meryl.  Nicole Kidman completely disappeared into the role in a shocking way.  I was somehow simultaneously drawn to and repelled by this movie.  I would definitely like to see it again.  3.6 stars


Week 3, Recipe 2: Thai Turkey Burgers

Warm Pineapple Salsa Ingredients:
one whole pineapple, cored & peeled
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. dried basil, or 10-15 fresh basil leaves cut into strips
Crushed red pepper flakes
Sesame oil

Turkey Burger:
1⅓ pounds lean ground turkey breast (do not use extra lean - it is too dry)
1 inch fresh gingeroot, peeled and grated, or 2 pinches ground ginger
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. curry powder
Salt, to taste
2 scallions, finely chopped

Bibb, Boston, or red leaf lettuce for topping
English muffins

1) Heat sesame oil over medium to medium-low heat.  Add crushed red pepper for about 2 minutes.  Saute onions over low heat until slightly browned. Add pineapple & dried basil (if using in lieu of fresh) and cook approximately 2-3 minutes until warmed through.
2) Combine all turkey burger ingredients in a large bowl. Shape into 4 patties. These can be cooked in a skillet for approximately 4 minutes on each side or on a preheated grill. Top burgers with warm salsa and lettuce and serve.

Results: This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray's book Classic 30 Minute Meals.  I used dried basil instead of fresh & EVOO instead of sesame oil (which is about $6 for a small bottle!!! YEAH RIGHT!!).  I was a bit nervous about the pineapple salsa because I'm not big on sweet flavors in my food but the savory spices mellowed out the pineapple.  The basil gave it a great flavor.  If I made these for Rashan I'd probably use even more curry because they had nice heat but he likes even more!  Or I'd put jalapeno in the pineapple salsa.  I also used onions instead of scallions.  My mom & I both really liked these burgers.  As you can see I served them with crinkle-cut fries (my fave).


Gobble Gobble

Since Adei & Dani's parents are from different, countries, Ghana & Jamaica respectively, they're both freaking out about their families' non-traditional approaches to Thanksgiving.  It's hilarious!  I know they didn't mean it that way but it's cute!  For me, Thanksgiving has always been about the house hopping!  It's not fun unless you're going to multiple different houses to taste multiple different takes on everything!  Oh yeah!  One year my mom, after years of not making a turkey because we had so many leftovers from the 3+ places we went to eat (I think 5 was our record one year), my mom asked my sister and me if we wanted a turkey for home and there was a resounding NO!  For what?  I don't even like turkey that much.  Dries out too easily.  Yes, I know fried turkey isn't dry or greasy.  I'm from the south.  We've been eating fried turkey for at least 10 years.  I'll eat turkey, but I'm just not too crazy about the texture.

When I was in college, I brought my friend Christina home with me one year.  So fun!  When I lived in Pittsburgh, I went to Norfolk to spend Thanksgiving with my friend Wynel's now-husband's family.  We did a mini house hop (score!) and went to her family's house where I had she-crab soup for the first time.  DELICIOUS!!  My mom just left and before she did she baked a chicken, made cabbage, cornbread dressing & potato salad.  YUMMY!!  I have lots of leftovers in my fridge I'm sure Rashan is licking his chops waiting to get his hands on.

 (From top left the pics are homemade chicken stock, cabbage, potato salad & baked chicken.)

Tonight I'm going to a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with the black grad students on campus.  I made my famous lemonade.  I blend fruit into lemonade with sugar.  I've done peach, raspberry & tonight strawberry lemonade.  People LOVE this drink!  I'm so awesome! Lol.

This year Rashan and I are driving up to Savannah to spend Thanksgiving with his family.  I'll get to meet his grandma for the first time which both of us are excited about.  He has requested that his mom fry oysters since he knows I LOVE OYSTERS!!  We're going to the beach since his mom's house is only 10 minutes away.  AND.... WE'RE GOING TO PAULA DEEN'S RESTAURANT!!! SCORE!!!  You know I couldn't go to Savannah without going there, right?  RIGHT! 

And even before Thanksgiving is what???  RASHAN'S BIRTHDAY ON WEDNESDAY!!!!  35 YEARS OLD!  My old old man.  Since he's more than underwhelmed about his birthday, I have a couple of surprises in store for him that I hope will make his day even happier than just being with me!  :)


Do Me A Favor: DON'T Relate

I KNOW this is old but seriously.  Can single people stop giving relationship advice?  It'd be one thing if they gave good advice, but horrible, HORRIBLE relationship advice!  Stop doing this!  If you're not happily married, and really sometimes even if you are, stop giving people your advice!  Your hot mess of advice!!  Solicited or not.  If you don't know, keep your mouth shut.

No one's given advice to me but I've been reading blogs and facebook statuses and responses... and TheConversation.... sorry Hill.  You're cute but you're 43 & single & trying to figure it out.  Good for you but I can't take you seriously.  Am I supposed to be having a conversation based on your mistakes?  I know plenty of people blundering their way through love without adding yours to the mix.  Yes, I know there are stories from people in successful relationships.  Yes, I know I'm only on chapter 2 but already I can't stop rolling my eyes and sighing.  I'm going to finish the book since my online/HU/DC HUers book club is all reading it but somebody better pick a better book if/when there's a next time. 

Even outside the book... like say on a blog... sometimes it's just you talking about relationships like you lived it sooo much and sooo well & you're 27... just like me.  Womp womp.  It's altogether possible you've had more relationships than me.  *shrug*  And?  I guess you have to talk about your experiences but sometimes you just sound stupid.  And like you'll be one of those people who lives off of the people going nuts over your writing, look up at 43 and ask as you write TheNextConversation, how did I end up 43 and singlenevermarriedwithnokids?  You SAY you want to get married, but what are you doing to make that happen?  Preparing yourself for that responsibility some way you're NOT sharing with us?  You don't even seem to take relationships seriously.

Rashan has said many times how easy black male bloggers have it.  If you're a black male blogger, you say 5 words and women fawn all over you like it's the gospel and send you n.aked pics and talk about the connection between the two of you (who have never exchanged so much as an email) because you're just. so. deep.  He got none of those from me for the record.  I don't play that.  Lol.  Why am I gonna sit here and big up you when you aren't saying anything anyone else hasn't said?  Or even if you are, can we have mutual appreciation instead of me blowing your head out of proportion?  People are such sheep.  Lol.  That sounds just as bad and elitist as those people who don't watch tv but whatever.  My point is, if black male bloggers have it this easy, imagine how easy an attractive black male non-fiction NON-HISTORICAL writer has it...  You know KNOW women are like, "He's so open! So sensitive!"  He almost got me!  (Sorry Rashan)  It's like a forehead kiss.  "It's endearing... it's damn near e.rotic!"  Hill lost that with an anecdote before the end of the first chapter.  I won't be led to the slaughter!

And don't even get me started on these "rhetorical" facebook statuses about your prince being out there or whatever you say to get attention.  And so someone will tell you how beautiful you are and what a catch you are.  Womp womp.  Cry me a river.  Some things you should keep to yourself.  Or at least off of the internet.  (Says the girl who is dating a blogger & talks about him all the time...)


Week 3, Recipe 1: Peach Pie Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup nonfat or 1 percent lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened frozen peaches
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground ginger
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
Recipe courtesy of Elie Krieger

Results: I love the smell of nutmeg!  I used I'm sure more than a cup of peaches.  I had amaretto honey so I used about 1.5 tbsp. that and might use more next time.  This probably could've benefited from straight up sugar but since she's the healthy chick I decided to follow her recipe as is this time.  I also added a bit more vanilla extract and cinnamon.  I'll probably use more nutmeg next time, too.  With all the peaches I used the spices are a bit more subtle than I'd like.  Still pretty yummy but needs to be tweaked.


Nitpicking the News Vol. IV: Bridging the Racial Divide


In today's New York Times there is an article called "A Racial Divide is Bridged by Hard Times" about the effect of the economy on Henry County, Ga.  When I read the title, I prepared myself for an interesting and insightful look into the ways the community was coming together and ignoring race.  What I received instead was what appeared to be a rushed, one-sided article which supported previously held conclusions despite evidence to the contrary.

It starts off nicely:
During the housing boom, Henry County, a suburb of Atlanta, had its share of racial tension as more and more blacks joined the tens of thousands of others pouring in, creating a standoffish gap between the newcomers and the county’s oldtimers.
But the recession has begun to erase those differences.
Blacks and whites have encountered one another in increasing numbers recently in the crowded waiting rooms of the welfare office and at the food pantry, where many of both races have ventured for the first time. Struggling black-owned businesses are attracting the attention of white patrons. Neighbors are commiserating across racial lines.
 But then the article goes off course as it proceeds to use infuriating interview excerpts.  The article included this graphic which was perhaps the most telling and propelled my frustration.
I wrote to this email to the writer:
After reading your article about Henry County's closing racial divide as a result of the economy, I'm not only appalled, I'm concerned about your impartiality.  How is it that you have a statement like, “We’re already used to poverty; they’re really not” next to a graphic showing the median black household income at more than $56,000 which as I'm sure you know is more than double what the government considers the poverty line for a family of 4.  Further in your article you have a quote from a man who says, “Where I’m from every friend that I had is a drug dealer, locked up, on drugs or dead.”  How is that relevant?  And furthermore, how did you managed to find these two "stereotypical" blacks in a place where more blacks than whites have college educations?  The most degrading comments are all made by blacks while whites are painted in a more sympathetic swath (which you even allow Taylor to note in the final lines of your piece) -- government workers or patrons of a black-owned business.  These inflammatory comments from African-Americans add nothing to the story and cheapen what you were trying to achieve.  Sure there is one white couple buried in your article facing foreclosure, but by that point the damage has been done.  If you're really trying to show the bridging of a racial divide, this article missed the mark.  Instead it reinforced offensive cultural stereotypes where I would and do expect more from any and every reporter, not least of all one employed by the New York Times.

I'm going to bed as I await her response.

Her response: What about the black business owner at the top of the article?

My response: That business owner said nothing.  She was just there.  That was the perfect opportunity and where your article looked like it would deliver on the promise implied by the title and the opening lines.

What I was really thinking: Are you kidding me?  Here is where you had the opportunity to open a discourse with (an admittedly critical) reader about where you could have removed stereotypes and bias from your article and all you have to offer is a poor facsimile of an excuse.  WHY DID I EVEN BOTHER?!  The woman she speaks of was mentioned in the article and in the photograph at the top but never said a word.


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 24

**Daily blogging is making it infinitely more difficult to produce these things!
1) My spelling is getting worse the more I read blogs and facebook statuses and tweets where spelling and grammar aren't much more than a passing irritation.

2) Reading an article about models & Miss J.
Me: This article makes me want to be tall.
Rashan: Don't be tall.
Me: (pouting & slightly indignant... who is he to tell me what to be?) Why not?
Rashan: Because I like you short.
Me: (mentally scoffing) Why?
Rashan: Because you fit perfectly under my arm.

Oh ye squelcher of desires.  Why do you have to make it sound so pleasant? :P

3) I'm appalled to just learn the NYTimes has a 'Chic in Review' fashion of the week redux on its The Moment blog I knew nothing about.  Though I had to get rid of InStyle because of its unrelenting turn toward celebrity drivel, I still miss the actual fashion.  :(  Where is my fashion magazine?

4) After my mother, uncle & aunt irritated me on facebook in one week, I put everyone over 40 (except 1-2 bloggers and 1-2 former coworkers) on the restricted list.  A few people who weren't over 40 also got lucky and made it on the list.  I started to make it anyone over 35 before I realized my boyfriend will be 35 next week...  I cannot believe I date someone that old...  Yes, almost 16 months later I still can't believe it.

5) I met 2 of my monthly goals: work out 3xs a week (yes!!!) & try a new ingredient or dish (yes on both of those!).  Score!!!  I ate out 4xs.  The end of the week ruined it when I needed badly to make a trip to the grocery store but couldn't seem to get myself to do it until Saturday even though I only had obligations twice last week!  Today is my first day having to do something since Tuesday.  Pitiful.

6) If I ever die while in production on a film, don't make me the director of that.  I don't want my name on a film I didn't have editorial control over.  Make me an assistant director or something.  How about "with assistance from..." or "special thanks to..."  But don't call yourself doing me a favor.  Because you're not.  It may shock you to know that I'm a perfectionist.  Yes that was sarcasm.  Don't sully my name.  Especially when I'm dead & can't defend myself.

7) Guess who bought egg nog? MEEEEEEEEEE!!!  I LOVE EGG NOG & EGG NOG SEASON!!!!  Let's do a throwback to a convo I had with Stace 2 years ago.... ACTION!

Me: Do you drink egg nog?
Stace: "Ew. I'm about to throw up. That is disgusting. What is egg nog anyway? Egg and what?"
Me: "Well, its egg..."
Stace: "Yeah..."
Me: "And nog."
Stace: "Ok. But what is nog..."
Me: *snickering gives way to raucous laughter. You should see me right now nearly convulsing with laughter, rocking in my seat. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!"*
Stace: "What? Oh.. *sucks teeth* Nog is not an ingredient."
HAHAHAHAHAHA!! I LOVE HER!! BTW who cares what's in it?! (Egg yolks, sugar, nutmeg, milk and cream since I know someone will be a stickler) It's just delightful!

And scene!

8) I would like to know how a piece of glitter managed to transmogrify itself into lock ornament on hair in the middle of my head.  I look up and there it is winking at me.  That part of my hair isn't long enough to touch any makeup once on my face.  Pest.

9) There are these awesome match-lighters in the movie "The Maltese Falcon" that I want even though I have no need for anything like that seeing as I don't smoke, or like incense and am just starting to tolerate candles-- and then only certain ones.

10) There are times I want to query you guys but can't because the people I want to talk about read my blog.  Those are the times this blog is more of a nuisance than anything else.

11) I'm funny about my nose.  Because I was such a snotty child and young adult (allergies), as "cute" as it may look to kiss someone on the nose, I react pretty (I realize somewhat unnecessarily) violently to it.  I think of noses as extremely dirty.  If you want to kiss me, kindly keep your lips off of my nose.  Thanks.


Crazy Movie Lady 42

Since I saw a lot of movies this week (21, ow!), there were multiple I enjoyed a lot, close to 5 stars for 2 of them.  AND I am now only 3 movies behind!!!  When I catch up I finally get to watch Malcolm X for the first time.  I can't wait!!  Since it's so long & Malcolm X is my favorite dead guy, (which makes it a tragedy I haven't seen this film yet), I've been saving it for when I catch up.  Nice reward!  My review of it will likely be among the next week's films!

November 8-14, 2009
625. Vacancy.  Horror movie starring Luke Wilson & Kate Beckinsale about a couple who finds an old hotel with a vacancy then find some unpleasant information about the hotel.   Beckinsale played an irritating, whiny character.  Mildly interesting at first but lots of horror movie don'ts kept happening which made it ridiculous and frustrating. I can grudgingly give you a few but after the 3rd I want you to stop being so stupid.  I also want to be shocked by what's happening but still feel like it could happen to me.  And the end?  Sigh.  Didn't like the end AT ALL.  2 stars
626. Magdalene Sisters.  Irish film about "fallen women" sent to a convent to atone for their "sins."  Relentlessly infuriating, then depressing.  You wanted SOMETHING good to happen to someone, ANYONE!!  The dourness made it feel incredibly long because it was so sad.  I enjoyed that I didn't recognize any of the actors.  4.2 stars
627. Father of the Bride.  Spencer Tracy & Elizabeth Taylor in the classic version of this film.  Oh yeah!  This made me not want to plan a wedding because of how crazy everyone got.  Tracy laid it on a bit thick in some areas but the father-daughter relationship was so cute!  4.2 stars
628. Shakespeare in Love.  Captivating.  Romeo & Juliet came alive for me in the dramatized writing of the play in a way it never has before.  Gwyneth Paltrow plays Shakespeare's muse.  For me she at times leaves something to be desired, but Joseph Fienne's Shakespeare is divine.  Some great costuming as well.  Dame Judi Dench was stately!  Ben Affleck was mostly non-existent.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie!  5 stars
629. Lessons of Darkness.  Werner Herzog documentary about the devastation in Kuwait after the first Gulf War.  Opening quote in German and the descriptions of each part were strangely not translated on the Netflix online version though all of Herzog's voiceovers were in English.  The lack of translation was mildly irritating at first, then because it happened with such frequency, became maddening.  Some really cool aerial shots in the opening minutes and continued throughout.  Typical Herzog use of sweeping, swelling, dramatic music with aerials and landscape shots.  The lack of a narrative becomes even more strange when the wordless scenes are peppered with sporadic short first-person stories of war.  I try to take films for what they are but I don't know what this is.  2 stars
630. The Lost Weekend.  An alcoholic is left alone by his brother and girlfriend on a long weekend.  Wassup to some of the world's most irritating music!  Wow!!  Crazy frenetic-sounding music became horrifying!  It raised the drama level, but could have certainly done so with less irritation. Great story line of a drunk on a bender.  The director and editor did a great job of pacing and tension-building.  The ending was a let down.  3.3 stars
631. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  Film set in Nazi Poland (with British accents) about the young son of a Nazi officer who makes friends with a boy in a concentration camp.  You'll "enjoy" it much more if you look at the film as a historically-based fantasy film rather than nitpicking the unrealistic or historically inaccurate occurrences. 4 stars
632. Berga: Soldier's of Another War.  Documentary about Americans captured and forced to work in concentration camps during WWII.  Very slow-moving in the first half of the film.  Though the stories were interesting, there wasn't enough visual material to support 85 minutes worth of film.  Repetitive in that let those who remembered tell the same story multiple times which made for a dragging pace.  The film was very stylistic which I appreciated-- stark black and white through the archival, interviews & recreations.  The laborious pacing couldn't make up for that.  2.4 stars
633. Make the Yuletide Gay.  Indie film about a guy whose well-meaning Midwestern parents don't know he's gay when he goes home for Christmas.  Predictable with some stilted acting.  The boyfriend in Adamo Ruggiero was the most well-acted role.  Entertaining enough.  3.3 stars.
634. Familiar Strangers.  Indie film about a long lost son who goes home for Thanksgiving for the first time in 3 years.  He joins the family for their annual tradition of playing donkey ball (basketball on donkeys).  None of the characters were particularly likable.  I didn't care who won or what happened to anyone.  The movie felt like it ended and there were still 30 minutes left.  Characters were introduced but not developed.  The plot holes made the story line confusing.  It needed focus.  It really felt like this movie would never end.  1.9 stars
635. Annie Oakley.  Classic film starring Barbara Stanwyck as a sharp-shooting woman who goes on the road with her amazing ability in a time where women weren't allowed or expected to do much.  Cute movie with an unforced love story.  Unusual in most movies, even more so in classics.  3.5 stars
636. Everything's Cool.  Propagandistic environmental documentary about global warming where the filmmakers try to convince you global warming exists and we have to fix it.  I don't care what the issue is, I don't like to be propagandized.  I'm also in general not a fan of films where the filmmakers insert themselves, though I sometimes give leeway for personal stories.  In this case, it's so unnecessary and intrusive.  The film even goes back in time to the start of the conversation on global warming.  There were so many characters it felt like an endless stream.  I'm not even sure what this film is thematically focused on as far as structure. Obviously the point is to convince people about global warming but what are the organizing principles, the main points?  Too much information from different factions was crammed into this film without being clear enough and some of it was presented in incredibly boring ways.  Then it became repetitive.  Censorship, people and locations believed to be effected, the impact of lobbyists.  Far too long.  And because of the methodology I was more skeptical at the end than at the beginning.  2 stars
637. The Goebbels Experiement.  German documentary film about the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels made with archival footage coupled with acted voice overs from Goebbels' diary.  Some great footage presented in an unusual style.  It seemed almost like a fiction film.  Though it was interesting hearing some insight into how the Nazis came to power, in a stream of diary entries, it became boring.  After 17 minutes of voice overs with no on-cam speech, the film began to lose some of its appeal.  At that point it began showing Goebbels on cam which helped break up some of the monotony.  If you're a WWII history fan, you should watch this film.  I can't say that I would necessarily want to watch it again, though.  3.4 stars
638. New in Town.  Boring film with Renee Zellweger (who never doesn't look pinched) as the company person who moves to Minnesota from Miami to institute changes at a plant but everyone hates her including the other main character played by Harry Connick, Jr.  As predictable as you thought it would be.  Of course the only minorities are caricatures.  I couldn't stop rolling my eyes at all the "heart-felt" speeches.  I'm going to say I never ever want to see this movie again. 1 star
639. Valentin.  Argentinean film about a little boy who lives with his grandmother and believes his family has problems only he can solve.  The narration from his perspective was cute at first but sometimes became a crutch used in lieu of dialogue.  The film was alternately cute and sad.  This kid had a lot of personality.  So cute.  A bit of a shark-jumping ending but still worth watching.  3.9 stars
640. Bolt. Oscar-nominated animated kids Disney movie about a dog engineered to keep a girl safe... or so he thinks.  When he goes on a mission it is HILARITY!  It's like Finding Nemo with a dog.  Cute.  4 stars
641. D.esecration Nation.  Documentary short with hokey, overly dramatic music.  Some great images on all sides of the flag b.urning issue.  The artist story line felt oddly incomplete.  The interviews in the park were particularly strange.  2.9 stars
642. Emma.  Dear God let Gwyneth Paltrow never again sing.  Wow... She was amusing as the title character in this film based on Jane Austen's book.  I'm not sure how I'm supposed to believe she's 21, though.  Toni Colette is incredibly dull but in an amusing way.  The longer this movie lasted the more I liked it.  I really want to read the book now.  I know!  It's ridiculous that I haven't read it.  The narration was the primary distraction but that wasn't enough to make this film unworthy of repeated re-watching.  4.5 stars
643. Time Indefinite.  Personal documentary which is more than a little indulgent in the length of time it stays with some of the images.  His "compulsion to film everyday" (mundane) life becomes wearying.  The narration is irritating.  My original thought was couldn't this movie have stayed in the family?  After 45 minutes it became less annoying and more interesting like the study of another person's life.  Even the director as narrator managed to tell the story from a semi-detached perspective.  But the length was ridiculous.  3 stars
644. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.  Classic film starring Barbara Stanwyck about a man who comes back in town after a long absence and shakes up the life of a married couple.  Kirk Douglas also stars.  Extreme melodrama.  The end was pretty awesome but the film was too long for the lack of plot.  3 stars
645. Murder by Death.  Truman Capote, Peter Sellers & Peter Falk star in a film about a millionaire who invites 5 top private investigators to his home so solve a murder for a one million dollar prize.  Silly caper movie with a bizarre ending.  3.9 stars
646. Elling.  Norwegian comedy (my first I believe) nominated for an Academy Award about two mentally handicapped men coping with their release into the world.  I know what you're thinking, not possible.  But it is!  Very cute.  It started to get a little long, though.  At some point it began to feel like there was no natural conclusion but there was.  Fun.  4.5 stars


I Want You To Myself I Can't Help It

I'm not good at sharing.  There truly is a reason I told my mother for years I would've been much happier as an only child.  Certainly a large part of that is my desire to have all of the attention all of the time... unless I don't want it.  And then I need you to leave me alone.  My mom is coming on Sunday.  It's her first time in Gainesville.  She was originally coming on Saturday but asked me a few days ago if I would be upset if she came on Sunday.  I was like, "You're already doing it so what good would it do me to get upset?"  Last night at 11:30... yeah like less than an hour ago, she asked me if I minded if my aunt came along.  I just sat there in silence.  Know why?  Because it's infinitely better than exploding at my mother less than 48 hours before I see her.  I really try to put my brattiness on pause.  But what I was thinking was....

MOM!!!!  That's so not cool!!!  How are you going to try to spring that on me at the last minute?!  My aunt is my father's sister.  Yes, you read that right.  My parents are divorced but my family on his side still treat her like a member of the family and since she's in Charlotte where they are actually see her way more than they see him.  My mom goes on trips with my aunt and cousin.  They still call her their sister-in-law.  I love that.  Most of the time.  How did this even come up?  She said she was going to Florida and asked my aunt to come?  Or my aunt said, "Do you want some company?"  I know you guys are travel partners and my aunt is very cool and fun but maybe I wanted some low key alone time with my mom.  You know seeing as I haven't seen her in 3 months and won't see her again until Christmas.

To help this irritation along, because you know I really need help getting riled up, she then tells me she's leaving on Thursday instead of Friday.  Awesome.  Instead of shouting, "WHY BOTHER TO COME AT ALL!??!"  I just sat there in silence as she got defensive because of my silence and eventually got off the phone.  Yeah good night to you, too.  Ugh.  And I still have more cleaning to do before she comes.  Awesome.  She better make some delicious food for me and only me OR ELSE!!!



Did I mention how horrendous that city is? It's one bad beach cliche after another and the actual beach-- you know, the sand-- is literally 10 feet wide. But we got some great pics out of it!

First up: Me and Rashan at the game.  That's his "me so sexy" face.

Me and Stace at the restaurant and my lovely dish, seafood al golpo.  Beautiful, isn't it??Shrimp, scallops, mussels, squid, white fish. I don't particularly like scallops but had wanted to give them another try. This confirmed it. The broth was very scallopy. Yuck. Won't be eating those again.  This is the view from our oceanfront room.  I heart the ocean!  HEART IT!!  The next pic I love because he looks so into the ocean and peaceful.  So cute.



Week 2, Recipe 1: Mushroom Risotto

Before you get all funky about the ingredient list just read my modifications below.

  • one large spanish or vidalia onion
  • two portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dried shitake mushrooms, soaked for 1/2 hour in mixture of hot water and wine
  • chicken or vegetable stock(or Knorr cubes)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • 2 cups risotto, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup mixed fresh basil, tarragon and thyme or 1 tsp. dried basil, 1/2 tsp. tarragon and 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • white cooking wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
Chop onions. Sautee in a heavy, preferably non-stick pan with olive oil (a couple of tablespoons will do). Sautee about ten minutes and then add a pat of butter and sautee for another five minutes, until transluscent. Chop off the heads of the portobellos and dice. Slice and dice the stems. Add to pan and continue to sautee. Chop shitake mushrooms and add to pan. Then add risotto and a little more olive oil, and sautee for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Have your stock ready and ladle a bit into the pan; whenever the pan gets dry, just add another 1/4 cup. You must stir often or the risotto will stick. Never let the pan get dry. Continue this process, adding increments of stock, and about 1/2 cup wine as well, for about 25 minutes. Then add fresh herbs and cook
for another couple minutes. At the very end add the parmesan cheese and the salt and pepper to taste, and voila!
Recipe courtesy of Epicurean.com

Result:  I'd never cooked with risotto or portobellos before.  I picked this recipe because I had portobello mushrooms (on sale for cheaper than button mushrooms), fresh basil, & a box (GASP! DID SHE SAY BOX!!) of red pepper risotto I'd been wanting to try.  I skipped the wine and shitakes. I had no garlic or onion (I should shoot myself now, I KNOW!!) but noticed both were dehydrated in the spice pack for the risotto.  Semi-score.  I followed the recipe on the box except I used chicken stock instead of water.

I was a bit too heavy on the tarragon, which can have an overpowering flavor, the basil I added at the last minute as you should do with all fresh herbs and it was amazing.  The salt level was a tad higher than I normally like as well.  I've been wanting to try more meatless meals since I grew up with never a meatless meal, a super Southern way to go!  Though it was pretty good, I think I'll use real risotto in the future if I ever cook it again (not really a fan of high-maintenance food since Rashan usually loves whatever I cook) and this will likely be a side dish rather than the entree.

**On a random, unrelated food note, do you remember how canteloupe crazy Rashan is?  READ THIS AGAIN!!  STILL hilarious!!! LOLOLOL.


Resolutions Update

It's past time for a resolution update.  Next year I'll have to keep a better eye on the resolutions.  I should try at least quarterly updates.  I ignored them all this year until this month!  Problem.  Know why?  Because my progress is a hot mess!!  Here are the goals and my progress thus far.

1) Run a 5k.  Yeah... that didn't happen.  I DID have a dream that I started training for one AND in life, actually downloaded some interval training podcasts for my ipod.

2) Get an internship.  Didn't do that either.  But I'm working on one for the summer.  I guess if I can get that lined up before the end of the year that could count huh?

3) Work on my film... a LOT.  I could've done more.  There's still time.

4) Try new restaurants.  DEFINITELY!!  This was a gimme, really.  But I did it!

5) Give the ultimate gift.  Totally!  I loved it!  I gave Rashan an ipod after he lost his.  I surprised Stace at her house & gave her some FAMU stuff she loved.  My line sister loves orchids so I gave her two for her birthday and she loved them, too!  I'm awesome!  Oh yeah!

6) Grow locks.  Another gimme!  Lol.  What a lazy resolution!! Wait.  Maybe not because it was so dramatic for a minute!  Like ummm.... THIS IS HARD!!  My hair was irritating me badly!  I'm past that now.

7) Watch more movies.  Yep!  More than 630 this year!!  That's at least 4xs as many as I watched last year and almost more than I've watched in my lifetime combined prior to that!  I'm going to post the things I've learned thus far from watching so many films in the coming weeks.  I already have more than 30 things on the list!  Still learning!

8) Workout more.  I don't even think the side-by-side comparison would be worth the effort my working out has been in the last 2 years.  Pretty bad.  I'm going to kick it into gear for the rest of the year!!  I can do it!!

9) Procrastinate less.  I have actually done this and it's really cool!  There are things I still procrastinate on so it's not eliminated.  But the goal was definitely procrastinate less and I absolutely did that!  #score!

10) Leave the country and/or go further west.  Nope.  Boooo!!!  But there's still a possibility.


Week 1, Recipe 2: Brined Chicken, Creamed Spinach, Crispy Potatoes

I brined a chicken for the first time and also made creamed spinach for the first time.  Here are the recipes and results.

Brined Chicken
  • 1/2 Kosher Sea Salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 4-5 lb. whole chicken
  • 3 tsp. oregano
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. garlic puree
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Pepper

In a bowl large enough to submerge chicken, mix salt, sugar & water until ingredients dissolve.  Add chicken to brine and refridgerate 6-24 hours.  Drain & pat dry, discard brine.  Preheat overn to 375.  Combine oregano, garlic & EVOO.  Loosen chicken skin & spread garlic mixture between skin & meat.  Place sprigs of rosemary inside chicken cavity.  Squeeze half of lemon over chicken.  Cook 40 minutes, turn chicken & baste with juices.  Squeeze remaining lemon, season w/pepper and cook an additional 40 minutes until done.  Let rest 10 minutes prior to carving.

Result: I got this recipe from the Alessi Sea Salt box.  I'd wanted to brine a chicken and was really excited!  I only had quarters so I used that instead of a whole chicken.  I probably should've cut back on the amount of salt I used.  It wasn't sweet at all if that was your concern but it was unreasonably TENDER!!  WOW!!  So moist and juicy and fell right off the bone!  I brined it for about 20 hours and it was amazing!  I also accidentally put the dried rosemary & dried oregano in the brine but scooped most of it out and that worked well anyway.  Very lightly flavored with rosemary & oregano.

Creamed Spinach By Ellie Krieger in Food Network Magazine (Nov. 2009)
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups 1 percent milk
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fat free evaporated milk
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Squeeze all of the water from the spinach. In a large pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the milk and broth and cook, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spinach and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the evaporated milk and nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Result: I was out of shallots so I subbed garlic.  I also didn't want to open a can of evaporated milk for 2 tbsp. so I used heavy cream I already had in my house.  I halved this recipe since there were just two of us eating it.  I still probably used a little too much nutmeg.  It wasn't bad but a little more there than it should've been.  It tasted like Thanksgiving, though!

Crispy Potatoes
  • red potatoes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • EVOO

Combine all ingredients, roast for 35 minutes at 375 degrees or until crispy and cooked through.

Result: This is my "recipe," not a new one.  I use it regularly in varying versions.  I used oregano because it's in the chicken.

I would use all of these recipes again!!


Monday Mindspacing Vol. 23

1) I almost got a portobello burger with Rashan once at this place we know has GREAT meat burgers and Rashan seemed so disappointed with me.  LOL!  I went with the regular meat (bison I think) and it was delish.  Also now I know to get all my veggie curiosity out with my classmates & Stace.  Rashan is not interested!
2) Conversation between me and Rah after I saw a Metallica concert clip. 
J: How do you headbang for an entire concert w/o getting a headache?!
R: You take drugs.
J: (Coyly & fake innocently) Over the counter drugs?
R: Yeah! ... if your drug dealer has a counter. 
J: Lolololol.
3) I've decided over-reliance on trends is what makes music not stand up to time.  (I know this is not a newsflash so SHUT UP RASHAN.)  A lot of 70s music sounds HORRENDOUS today.  Poor T-pain.  And new/"modern" jazz just sucks.  I can't tell you why.
4) After tasting too much subpar orange juice (probably my favorite beverage) I have now decided I will only drink Tropicana.  It's too delicious to settle for less.  And please don't ever try to give me grocery store brand.  None of it passes muster.
5) Guess who's already in the Christmas spirit?  MEEEEEE!!  You guys know how much I love Christmas!  If I feel sad in April?  Out comes the Christmas music!  Dani tweeted about her irritation with early Christmas decorations & it had the opposite effect on me... I got excited!!  Ya girl was singing Christmas carols in the shower Friday and listening to her Christmas Faves list on the way down to Daytona!!  And it's 76 degrees outside!  Lol!  Florida and its non-observance of appropriate seasonal temperatures slay me!  As long as it's not 90 I'm going to take my blessings as they come!  Praise Jesus!
6) Most bizarre conversation ever with my classmates Friday night.  My mom's coming and going to cook for everyone so I told them we will definitely have dressing.  Insert perplexed faces.  So we said white people call it stuffing, black people call it dressing.  Then David asked, "What do you call that stuff you put on salad?"  Lololol.  Dressing.  And what?
7) Wow... we passed some country stuff headed to Daytona on back roads.  Ummm... 90% of Florida's lakefront trailer parks are along Rt. 20.  I made up that stat but it's probably true.  S.naque Shaque?  Really?  Why would you choose to spell it like that?  Need a car?  CarBoyz has the hook up for you.  Road name.  LaTesha Terrace.
8) Rashan got freaked out by BillyMays commercials twice when we were in Daytona.  HILARIOUS.  He yells at the tv, "THIS IS WRONG!!"  LOL!  Why?  Dead men can't hock car paint sticks?  MichaelJackson is still making money!
9) After watching pieces about the Iowa caucuses twice in a week... I'm pretty creeped out by the fact that the process still occurring in 2009... Very strange to me.  Not even an old 1970 voting machine, you gather in your corner & I'll gather in mine and we'll cross-recruit... .... ....
10) Why are Cracker Barrels so far off the beaten path?  Like you see the sign from the highway, get off on the exit, can still see the sign but have to make 8 turns, a u-turn and stand on your leg inside your car while singing I'm a Little Teapot to find it.  WHYYYYYYYYYY???  SO irritating.
11) I'm over GQ... so much so that I'm 3 months behind in reading it.  We've discussed my issues with it.  But let's just say I'm glad I only have one issue remaining in this subscription.
12) When Rashan's here he moves my stuff, leaves on lights, uses my computer when I want to use it, always has the tv on (I think it's white noise to him & straight up noise to me) but even when he's irritating me I never want him to leave and it never gets any easier.  I'm sure I'm becoming a broken record but he was here 5 days this time and I was still like, you're leaving already? :(
13) I saw my first gator in person this weekend!  It was in Lake Alice on campus w/about 8 huge turtles.  Really cool!  There are no gates but the gators appear to keep their distance b/c I had to walk right up to the lake to see it.  I won't be doing this regularly but it was pretty cool.


Crazy Movie Lady 41

November 1-7, 2009
613. The Mirror Has Two Faces. Barbara Streisand directs and stars in this film, which also includes Pierce Brosnan, about a marriage of convenience between two college professors.  I know I've seen it in pieces before but I'm not really sure how much.  There were clearly parts of this film where I would've had to kill the main character's husband.  Though I enjoyed the characters and the plot, this film was WAY too long.  It was funny but could have seriously benefited from some editing.  Romantic comedies should not last more than 90 minutes.  4.3 stars
614. What's Up Tiger Lily?  Woody Allen took a Japanese film about murder and dubbed it as a comedy in English.  If you think I don't get Allen, you're right.  There was a strange long period of no dialogue early on.  The musical breaks were ridiculous. The plot was worse.  There was even a break for shadow puppets.  Mess.  1 star
615. Dominick Dunne: After the Party.  Documentary about the crime writer.  Interesting story at the start but it probably lasted a hair too long which became indicative of the vein of the rest of the film which seemed to have a problem with focus.  Incessant name-dropping by everyone.  It was nuts.  It's almost like the film didn't know what it wanted to be: a retrospective or heavily about his work.  Yes, the two are intertwined, but to what extent?  There were these interesting or funny stories that went on and on until you got to an underwhelming end.  Boring, boring, boring.  Some of these stories he told seemed absolutely unbelievable and self-important.  It was like the person who led the editing was too enamored with the subject to pull back.  There was also a lot of jumping around in the plot.  Follow SOME sort of organization or chronology.  If the film must be non-linear or topical it would help to keep the story easy to follow.  It was also strange that so many stories were told multiple times on multiple days and all spliced together.  Dunne's motivations became very clear pretty early.  Interesting subject.  The filmmaking leaves much to be desired.  2.3 stars
616. Dracula. 1931 film about the original vampire terrorizing his hometown and London.  Vaguely amusing horror film.  I'm sure it was horrifying when it was first released.  Dracula and his sidekick especially are both well-played roles.  3 stars
617. By the People: The Election of Barack Obama. HBO Documentary about the 2008 campaign.  I was disappointed by the lack of access to the then senator.  Many times the filmmakers were in the pool with the reporters.  There was decent access to Michelle, some cute interviews with the kids, some access to upper level campaign staffers.  But when you say a behind-the-scenes look at the campaign, there are some expectations that weren't quite met.  Access of course is the primary one, but this film seemed to be missing something in focus as well.  It actually would've been a more interesting film considering the lack of access (have I said that enough?) if it had focused on the grassroots movement and just bolstered it with talks from Obama.  There were more one-on-ones with journalists than with the president.  It did evoke some of those feelings I had along the way during the campaign so in that respect it worked, but I followed the campaign closely so I didn't feel like I was exposed to things I hadn't seen before.  It would probably be interesting to see this more removed from the events, but in general I didn't feel any new ground was broken.  3 stars
618. The Color of Paradise.  Extremely quiet Iranian film about a little blind boy whose father nearly abandons him because he's trying to marry into a prosperous family.  This kid spoke very little but I loved him. The end was bad.  SO unbelievable which dropped the rating down.  3.4 stars
619. The Answer Man.  Lauren Graham is a struggling chiropractor who finds herself connected to a grumpy self-help/new age religion guru and a struggling bookstore clerk.  Slow start to this romantic drama.  Jeff Daniels' character was amusing and well-acted.  There was some pretty bad lack of chemistry between the two main characters.  The ending was a bit ridiculous but I enjoyed this film enough.  3.4 stars
620. Marty. 1955 film about a lonely Italian man living with his mother about to give up hope of meeting a wife.  Not bad.  The end was on the underwhelming side.  3.3 stars
621. The Taking of Pelham 123.  Denzel Washington stars as an MTA dispatcher who gets caught up in a hostage situation where John Travolta is the hostage taker.  I liked both the of the roles and there was some good action built into this film.  There was some silliness in there as well.  Like why would I believe that?  And in what world?  Still enjoyable enough for what it was.  3.9 stars
622. The Big Heat. Fritz Lang directs this 1953 thriller about a detective who while investigating ends up having to avenge a murder.  I enjoyed the twists and turns!  4 stars
623. Love Crazy. William Powell & Myrna Loy are a couple celebrating their anniversary when the wife's mother sends the wife into a tizzy prompting a divorce.  The only way to stop the divorce is for Mr. Ireland to pretend he's crazy.  Of course hijinks ensue.  Powell and Loy should still be making movies together.  They're awesome!  The hijinks were a bit irritating after a while.  3.4 stars
624. The Pink Panther. Classic film starring Peter Sellers as the detective trying to stop a serial jewel thief.  Cute and funny though the slapstick was wearying at times.  3.9 stars