With so many things to worry about—millions of chronically unemployed Americans, the Iranian bomb, veterans going untreated, unparalleled government snooping—you’d think you could relax from time to time with, say, a nice California cabernet that helps you conjure up a feeling of temporary well-being as you savor a meal with family or friends.
Sorry to inform you, but that pleasure may no longer be available to you. According to a new book, The New California Wine (TNCW) by Jon Bonné, the California wines you’ve been enjoying are actually “a ubiquity of oaky, uninspired bottles,” that have fallen into “a stupor,” and those who make them and like them are “stuck in a self-satisfied funk.”
Who knew? I felt particularly humiliated because I had come to California wines relatively late in my drinking career. To my euro-centric palate, California wine always seemed too young and brash and fruity. Until, that is, I actually visited Napa Valley about 15 years ago.
My wife Ellie and I were having lunch outside at Tra Vigne, and we ordered a half-bottle of Shafer Firebreak. That’s a Super Tuscan blend of cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese—but California style, which means that the fruit is amplified. In the sunshine, with my beautiful wife, amidst the vines, eating short ribs… it felt like a seduction. From that moment forward, California started to make a lot of sense.
Now I’m thinking: Why, oh why, does Jon Bonné want to take that away from me? And it was my friend Pat, of all people, who’d suggested I read his book.
Ever just feel that the world is just too troubling a place and that you just have to get away for a time? I do. And I suspect that in this I am not alone. But sometimes there seems to be no time – and no place to get away too. Hey, this world is simply what we’ve got.
My own answer is to look for the little things. The things that make me smile. The things that tell me that God remains in his heaven.
What amazes me is that whenever I do this – whenever I force myself to do this – I realize, over and over again, that that “somewhere” I need to go is not really that far away at all. It’s out there, all the time, all around me, just waiting..
This morning for instance. I took my espresso – hot and steamy – out onto the porch and decided to just look for it. For Him.
I put away the cares of this world for a time and just allowed myself to wander. Not far. Just across the porch and out a ways onto the lawn. And when I did, this is what I saw…
It’s all about the chemistry, according to Reactions/ACS.
Now that you’ve watched that, watching Nancy Pelosi say that Obamacare is “beautiful” might not hurt so bad.
There are thousands of hot sauces to choose from today, and most of them are terrible. They’re novelty items designed with an amusing label and name. The sauce itself is inedible, with inferior ingredients and so much capsaicin from the peppers you’ll blister your tongue. A good hot sauce is a combination of great ingredients and a balance of heat and flavor.
These ten hot sauces are filled with zest, spice and peppery heat. Dash enough on your eggs or tacos and you’ll find your eyelids sweating, but no matter how hot the temperature gets you’ll still get a mouthful of great flavor. Let’s start with a surprising number 10 on the list:
10.) Taco Bell Hot Sauce
No need to squeeze the sauce from those tiny Taco Bell packets any more. The Taco Bell folks now provide bottles of their famous sauces, and the best is Taco Bell Hot Sauce. This is the Goldilocks of hot sauces, not as tomatoey as Mild Sauce but not as overwhemed by pepper as Fire Sauce. Don’t turn your nose up at Taco Bell just because Doritos Tacos are an orange abomination. Their Hot Sauce is delicious. Shake it on a homemade taco and enjoy.
While you likely already know that your crock-pot is fabulous for making mouth-watering stews, pot roasts, and soups, you might be surprised to learn just how wide a variety of concoctions you can create in your slow-cooker. Here are some surprising and unconventional uses for your crock-pot:
A good quality, jar-sized candle at a specialty store can cost you close to $30. Fortunately, they’re not that difficult to make at home and they’re much less expensive than the store-bought varieties. By following a few easy steps you’ll enjoy homemade candles at a fraction of the price. Your friends and family will also appreciate your lovely scented gifts!
This is a great opportunity to get creative with glass jars you’ve recycled or found at thrift stores or yard sales. As long as the jars will fit in your crock-pot, you’re free to use your imaginate to create unique candles. In addition to the jars, you’ll need wax (renewable soy wax is slow-burning and soot free), essential oil or candle fragrance, candle coloring dye, and wicks. All of these supplies are available at craft stores or from online sources.
As it turns out, the decade wasn’t all bad!
Here are a few things we remember fondly from the 1970s:
1. Department Store Gift-Wrapping
As a child I was completely enchanted by the dazzling array of bows and shiny gift wrap displayed on the wall in the gift-wrapping department at the May Company department store near my home in suburban Cleveland. The ladies were expert wrappers, with perfectly creased corners and stripes that lined up at every seam. The bows and gift cards were like icing on the tops of beautiful cakes. It was like watching magic happen before my eyes to see an ordinary salad bowl transformed into a sparkly work of art piled high with ribbon and lace. These days, most stores no longer offer gift-wrapping service (though a handful still do). More often than not you’ll be directed to the wrapping paper aisle and told to fend for you ham-handed self — explaining the exponential growth of the gift bag industry.
A story of pure awfulness on both sides and it comes to us from California? Say it isn’t so!
But it is so:
A tenth-grade California girl allegedly passed out cupcakes to bullies at her school which she said contained “bodily fluids.”
I was pretty sure she got the flour and sugar and whatnot down at the Safeway, but it was more difficult figuring out how exactly she obtained the male bodily fluids in question. But then there was this:
As it turns out, the cupcakes were made with mayonnaise, barbecue sauce and soy sauce.
Either way, students in the girl’s French class were left with a bad taste in their mouths during a food day event last week.
Before the Bakersfield Police Department announced that the cupcakes weren’t laced with anything other than condiments, it was believed they may have contained “pubic hair, semen and expired food and pills.”
image via shutterstock / Ruth Black
Learning how to drink responsibly is a basic lesson in growing up — as it is in wine-drinking France or in Germany, with its family-oriented beer gardens and festivals. Wine was built into my own Italian-American upbringing, where children were given sips of my grandfather’s home-made wine. This civilized practice descends from antiquity. Beer was a nourishing food in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and wine was identified with the life force in Greece and Rome: In vino veritas (in wine, truth). Wine as a sacred symbol of unity and regeneration remains in the Christian Communion service. Virginia Woolf wrote that wine with a fine meal lights a “subtle and subterranean glow, which is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse.”
What this cruel 1984 law did is deprive young people of safe spaces where they could happily drink cheap beer, socialize, chat, and flirt in a free but controlled public environment. Hence in the 1980s we immediately got the scourge of crude binge drinking at campus fraternity keg parties, cut off from the adult world. Women in that boorish free-for-all were suddenly fighting off date rape. Club drugs — Ecstasy, methamphetamine, ketamine (a veterinary tranquilizer) — surged at raves for teenagers and on the gay male circuit scene.
Alcohol relaxes, facilitates interaction, inspires ideas, and promotes humor and hilarity.
image via shutterstock / Pressmaster
For Easter this year, Whole Foods sold Organic Timothy Grass for kids’ Easter baskets. The story sounds good, as usual—plastic is toxic and the stuff in the Easter baskets lingers for years on the planet. Not mentioned is how prevalent shredded, recycled paper has become for baskets or how the plastic grass lasts and gets reused year after year. That is, the menace of plastic grass is overstated. Also not mentioned in the real grass is great story, the price of the real grass.
As I first learned about the grass clippings in a Tweet from @johnrobison, “Salute the marketing geniuses at @WholeFoods for selling grass clippings for $23.96 a pound – More than good steak!”
A few months ago, Rhonda Robinson posted about a poor neighborhood that “ran off” a Trader Joe’s opening. The gist of the article and comments assumed the neighborhood had elevated politics over health and made a bad decision. She concluded, “The Portland African American Leadership Forum would much rather see empty decaying buildings in their neighborhood than give up their victim card.”
I doubt the neighborhood would rather keep vacant buildings. I also doubt that they objected to a grocery store opening. They likely objected to a Trader Joe’s opening.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in March of 2013 as “The 10 Best Places to Eat in Austin, Texas“ It is being reprinted as part of a weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Visit tomorrow for the conclusion of the series.
Austin, TX, home of SXSW, is known for its live music and its food. The fact is, you’d have to work pretty hard to find a bad meal in Austin. The people here take pride in being one of the food capitals of America. The weary SXSWer may have a hard time sorting the great places from the merely good, though, so as a local, I’m here to help out.
Locations: All over town.
This chain of wing stops was started by some UT students. Pluckers isn’t fancy but it’s local and good, and has restaurants all over town.
President Obama’s new initiative is a higher minimum wage, and if he is successful the result will not be higher-paid employees heading off to work every day. Instead their jobs will be filled by an entirely new sort of worker: Robots.
Robots, unlike humans, don’t require pay or sick time or vacations. If they break they’re thrown out and recycled. Robots are expensive, but the threat of a higher minimum wage is now making a robotic worker more cost-effective than hiring a real person.
Across Japan the noodle-making chefs are now made of metal, and when you order a Big Mac at a MacDonald’s in Europe you do it by touch screen. A company called Momentum Machines in southern California has developed a robot that cranks out 400 perfectly-prepared burgers every hour. (Note: Robots do not sneeze. Ever. Think about that for a bit.)
Where is this going? Are we heading for a future where slinky femme fatale robots plot the destruction of mankind while wearing the perfect red dress?
So this is the latest goofy food fad: hot buttered
toffee coffee. Basically, here’s the idea: you add unsalted butter, plus a little coconut oil, to coffee and whip it up in a blender, and drink that for breakfast. Nothing else. The theory is that this provides a good start for the day, leading to faster fat metabolism, increased mental alertness, weight loss, cures yaws, gives you greater strength, and conceals any foolish political contributions you may have made when young and foolish.
Well, maybe. Hot buttered drinks aren’t that unusual; Tibetans drink tea with butter. But the recipe sounds like a pain in the ass — coffee, boiling water, blender, and so on. But let’s apply a little thought here. Butter, reasonably enough, is basically 100 percent butterfat, and about 100 kcals a tablespoon. What you’re doing when you run it through a blender with liquid is returning the butterfat to an emulsion — you’re “re-creaming” it. Heavy cream, like whipping cream, is about half butterfat by volume (and 50 kcal per tablespoon). So it stands to reason that adding heavy cream to coffee would be effectively the same.
So I tried it. The recipe suggests between 2 and 6 Tsp of butter, so that’s 4 to 12 Tsp of cream — so make it 1/4 to 3/4 cup of cream. For the last couple of days, I’ve started the day by adding about a quarter cup of cream to a big cup of coffee, adding some Stevia because I’m not thrilled by coffee with cream and no sugar — I usually prefer black — and drinking that first thing.
Okay, I’ve got to say, it’s pretty satisfying; I don’t have any particular hunger until noonish. And from the pure caloric standpoint, it’s got no carbs at all, and only about 200 kcal. As to any other effects, well, it’s only been two days.
When I lived in Europe, I used to go to Paris every so often, and stayed in a little hotel in the 15th arrondissement. Regular French businessman’s hotel, nothing special. As with most European hotels they served “breakfast”; as with most French hotels, that consisted of a half a baguette, cafe au lait, a big lump of butter, and some jam. (And last night’s baguette at that, so it was a little hard.) You butter a chunk of the bread and dunk it, then eat it and drink the coffee. Now, I would have preferred eggs over easy and bacon, but honestly it was pretty good.
But it occurs to me that this isn’t far away from what we’re talking about: several hundred kcals of butterfat, coffee, and of course some carbs. Maybe it’s not such a crazy idea.
So I’ve been trying to ramp up the veggies and I like collard greens but it’s a pain to cook them in a big batch. So, I thought, how about the Microwave? The package suggested cooking them for 13 minutes, but I was only cooking half a package, so I tried 6 minutes. They were a little rare.
Then I added a little butter and tried 4 more minutes. You see the results above.
For future reference, collard greens that catch fire aren’t a good choice.
I really like my slow cooker, and I really like the week after St Patrick’s Day, when corned beef is suddenly cheap. And I like corned beef and cabbage and don’t even miss the potatoes — which are usually overcooked and watery anyway.
So here was a little bit different approach. Cooked a corned beef round in the slow cooker. Took it out and refrigerated it, as well as the broth. (I also cooked a brisket and sliced that hot. Different meal.)
The next day, I took the fat off the top of the broth, poured a good bit into a wok and rewarmed the corned beef (which I’d sliced after it was cold). Then I added a half head of cabbage and about 4 cups of turnip greens, which I’d sliced into roughly similar sized pieces. I simmered them for about ten minutes. There’s the result.
This time I had some leftover greens. Burgers into the George Foreman with about a tablespoon of chopped onions between them. Cook thoroughly.
Look, I like my meat crunchy. Deal with it.
Rewarmed the greens, burgers on top of the greens, grated quesadilla cheese on top.
I’m beginning to like this veggies thing.
Continuing the effort to eat more vegetables, I got up this morning and felt ambitious, so I took out a bag of spinach and baby kale. I sauteed the greens with butter and olive oil and two sliced cloves of garlic, added some chopped onions and four beaten eggs, and about 2 Tablespoons of quesadilla cheese, and scrambled them.
This one worked good, but I think turnip greens and eggs are better.
I’m going to begin the search and report on my results here at PJ Lifestyle. Where to begin to move beyond the basics of grocery store English Breakfast and Earl Grey? Leave you suggestions in the comments or get in touch with me via email.
Saint Patrick’s Day is an outrageous celebration of my Irish heritage. On that day adult Americans of all ethnic backgrounds feel free to wear green derby hats and shamrock necklaces, pack into bars and pubs to drink green beer and, if they’re really serious about celebrating the Irish way, end the day by vomiting and passing out in the gutter.
I’m offended by this, and it has to stop! Okay, just kidding. I don’t care a bit. The Irish are a fully integrated ethnic minority in America and St. Patrick’s Day is proof. You know your heritage is not an issue when you can poke fun at yourself.
I don’t know how to make the Martin Luther King holiday as genuinely warm, funny, and celebratory as St. Patrick’s Day, but I’d like to try. Just last month a school system had to apologize for serving a lunch of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon on Martin Luther King Day. How sad that the African-American holiday commemorating such a great man is about grievances and not praise. Why shouldn’t we all celebrate Martin Luther King day with soul food, vibrant African designs and colors in our decorations and celebrations, and a sense of fun and gratitude?
I fear that instead of moving towards celebrating Martin Luther King Day as a positive affirmation of African-American heritage, we’re moving in the other direction. Columbus Day has come under such attack that this brave Italian hero and explorer is accused of genocide and celebrations in his honor are protested. The very word “Christmas” has been banned in some schools. How long before someone wants to ban St. Patrick’s Day?
May this never happen. Long may the green beer flow in the pubs of America on St. Patrick’s Day. May the green derby hats continue to be perched on the heads of all, may the Leprechaun decorations continue to be ridiculous and offensive, and may you always feel free to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
images courtesy Shutterstock: Patryk Kosmider
Morning show anchors at local news affiliates have an unenviable job, especially when they have to interview oddball guests. One of those guests making the rounds after Thanksgiving was Chef Keith Guerke, plugging his cookbook Leftovers Right: Making A Winner Out Of Last Night’s Dinner.
The problem is, Keith Guerke isn’t a chef – or a real person, for that matter, and his book doesn’t exist either. The stunt sprung from the minds of comedians Nick Preuher and Joe Pickett and their troupe, the Found Footage Festival. Preuher appeared on local news shows in Illinois and Wisconsin, promoting disgusting recipes with bogus statistics and made up anecdotes. He bumbled through his presentations and even talked one anchor into beatboxing while he rapped.
The results are hilarious. Sit back and enjoy, as these poor hosts gamely go along with Chef Keith and his horrid recipes.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in July of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…
In recent posts I revealed a few personal pieces of our lives, mostly focusing on the economic impact of a health crisis. However, life-changing events such as these seldom come in isolation. This perfect storm arose out of our lifestyle and diet, devastating my husband’s health and testing our faith.
In the span of a weekend my hard-working husband Mike went from a “Top Gun” insurance-fraud investigator to a bedridden patient, while I morphed into little more than a trembling caregiver. Without our realizing it, his lifestyle of constant traveling and eating on the road along with my budget-conscious (rather than health-conscious) efforts at home created unthinkable consequences.
Without any real symptoms, over a period of years he quietly developed chronic deep vein thrombosis. After a stint in critical care, surgery, and high-power medications, we exhausted all medical avenues to dissolve the clot.
The surgeon came in sporting a “you-did-this-to-yourself-big-guy” attitude and handed us a one-way ticket into a nursing facility. He declared that nothing more, medically, could be done. He explained, in a clear “good-luck-with-that” tone, that Mike’s body had to heal itself. He needed to “forge new veins.”
The finest health-care system in the world could only stop the progression of the clotting — which, arguably, is profound. Nonetheless, medicine had nothing further to offer us other than opiates, Warfarin, insulin, and around-the-clock, skilled care.
No cure, not even an injection of hope.
The fluid in his legs wasn’t going away “any time soon.” Which translated to him not getting out of bed any time soon. What fluid remained in six months, they said, would become permanent — an inconceivable thought.
My oldest daughter developed a theory and a plan. In the process we discovered these simple principles that had a profound impact on Mike’s recovery and my life.
Breakfast for dinner is one of the best dinners a person can have. I made Ina Garten’s roasted asparagus and prosciutto with homemade Hollandaise sauce for dinner this week. Good ole’ eggs, meat, and veggies!
1 lb. fresh asparagus
6 large slices of prosciutto (or bacon!)
1 ½ tablespoons butter (unsalted)
3 large eggs
Ina’s Easy Hollandaise Sauce (recipe below)
Ina’s Hollandaise Sauce:
2 large egg yolks (at room temperature)
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
a pinch of cayenne pepper
Let me just start by saying that this is a delicious recipe—and that it might be one of my favorites so far. Now that I got THAT off of my chest, I’ll tell you how to make it.
To begin, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. I also put a sauté pan on the stove at medium heat.
I snapped the “woody end” off of the stalk of the asparagus and spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan. Before placing them in the oven, I drizzled the asparagus with olive oil and dusted them with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Next, I prepped the bacon (I decided to use bacon since it was already in my freezer). I placed the thawed strips onto a baking sheet and placed them in the oven with the asparagus. I roasted the asparagus for 10 minutes. For the bacon, follow the baking instructions (mine was done in 10 minutes—perfect timing with the asparagus!) If you are using prosciutto, bake for 5 minutes.
Via Policy Mic: M&M’s or Skittles? Here’s What Your Favorite Candy Says About Your Politics
Pollsters Jennifer Dube and Will Feltus of National Media Research, Planning and Placement LLP previous charted the politics of beer and Americans’ favorite TV shows. Now on Valentine’s Day week, they’ve released this chart showing whether Americans’ political preferences have any bearing on their favorite sweets.
This chart, though, isn’t as easy to decipher as their previous work on brands that marketed themselves as lifestyle choices (like hybrid cars, or Budweiser and Chik-fil-A). When’s the last time you saw candy marketed as a way to reinvent yourself?