Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Baruch Atah Y'all

I almost forgot. In my unconventional holiday this year I celebrated Hanukkah. A co-worker turned friend who lives around the corner from me invited me over to help their family celebrate Hanukkah. They are a great couple with a very smart, well-behaved 8 year old son; my Jewish family when I can't be with my Jewish family in Israel (who apparently are quite busy right now kicking the crap out of Hamas but thats a post for another day).

They had a interesting collection of minoras. I really liked the multi-colored metal one that comes apart and can be reconfigured in 8! ways. That might be the architectural geek in me. Or maybe the math geek in me condsidering I just used a factorial sign in a blog post. Sheesh. Anyway, the most interesting one (not pictured simply because we ate it) was the edible minora; frozen oreos topped with chocolate ice cream, each of which had a candle embedded. There were 8 of them and only 5 of us so I had to help them out and try one. I'm sure thats a mitzvah despite the sugar coma that followed.

Minora Collection

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Turchickini Bowl

I love cooking but it has taken a way back seat lately. With work, school, 3 new acrylic painting projects, 2 pops over the pond and attempting to not slip into my natural hermitdom state, its been secondary. With 5 whole days off I was determined to try some new recipes. We will skip right over the utterly gross attempt I made at the Classic French Omlette; good taste but it looked like the 7th circle of hell in egg form.

Moving right along to my Chicken Soup. Naturally I made a few changes, like making a turkey stock instead of chicken, subbing collard green for spinach and spinach fettucini for egg noodles.

Turchickini Stock

  • 1 lb Ground Turkey
  • 1 Red Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Carrots, Peeled and Chopped
  • 2 Celery Ribs, Chopped
  • 1 T Canola Oil
  • 4 C Water
  • 8 C Chicken Broth (low sodium)
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 T Black Salt
  • 1 t Black Pepper
  • 1/4 t Red Pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb Chicken Thighs

Add oil to a large pan over medium high heat until shimmering. Add ground turkey, carrot, onion and celery. Stir until turkey is almost coooked through, about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add water, broth, bay leaves, salt, peppers and chicken thighs. Cover and cook for 45 minutes. Remove lid, crank up heat until boiling. Remove thighs and set aside. Continue to cook stock for 20 minutes. Strain the stock through mesh.

Turchickini Soup

  • 3 T Cornstarch
  • 1/4 C Water
  • 1 Red Onion, Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Carrots, DIced
  • 1 Celery Rib, Diced
  • 1 Large Potato, Diced
  • 1/3 C Collard Greens
  • 6-8 Oz Spinach Fettucini
  • 2 T Parsley, Chopped

Tear thigh meat into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Return stock to medium high heat. Whisk cornstarch into water until blended and smooth. Gradually stir cornstarch liquid into stock stirring constantly. Allow soup to boil gently for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add onion, carrot, celery, potato, collard greens and cook until all are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add fettucini to soup and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally. Remove from heat then add parsley. Readjust seasoning with salt, black and red pepper then serve.

( Of course its not really soup until you add the red garlic chili sauce! :))

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Strange Holiday

First time I've done the holidays solo. I liked it, although it was strange not having my niecelettes jumping up and down on my bed at 5 am to open presents. Did I say strange? I meant really, really great. LOL.

I painted. I finally finished my "Jerusalem" painting. Picture pending until there is sun again. I started a new one "Rio", which is an excercise in bright, intersecting circles and Swarovski crystals. Its got bling but so does the city of Rio. Its taking forever but I hope to finish it before I run off to Spain.

Cooking, of course. I finally made a Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch. Except it was more a chicken, turkey, collard green and egg noodle soup. Delicious and postable this week (hopefully, if work goes well)

I found out from my dad that my soon to be former bro-in-law is now back living with my sister. WTF? When did multiple affairs with multiple women spanning multiple years become a forgivable crime? How did we move from divorce court to "lets try to work this out"? LOL. Well, whatever, my sister can do whatever she feels is necessary but as for me and the bro-in-law its done.

No trust and no respect = no relationship. Its just that simple.

Clearly I made the right choice staying in Houston; I missed snow, delays in travel, being stuck in a suburban Cincinnati hell and a bro-in-law that I would have completely and intentionally disrespected in my subtle, overly-sympathetic way.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Oh no, its that time of year again - Holiday Decorations. What to do. I have a new place, which means new lighting to consider, new layout of furniture, new issues of balance, symmetry, reflection and composition. Not to mention the new people and what they might think; new people at work and new people in the neighborhood. And we all know how sensitive I am to what others think about my decorations! The pressure is really on!

OK. Deep Breath.

Unpack all four holder. Unpack all four ornaments. Place the ornaments on the holders. Place the assembled pieces on the table. New this year - unpack the 100 red balls. String the red balls on the red ribbon, hang the assembled balls from the wall.

Whew! I'm exhausted. This definitely calls for a martini, maybe 2!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Its now snowing in Houston. Big flufy flakes falling at a pretty good pace. Might not be news-worthy to most but doesn't snow here often!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Como Se Dice "Trade Off"?

Sister is doing well now. The parentals are going up to visit with her this week as she visits with a lovely divorce lawyer. She was sad for a time, then one day, she just got her bitch on. Something tells me soon-to-be former bro-in-law will be living in a studio apt and driving a Moped soon. That'll teach him to have multiple simultaneous affairs. Karma is a MoFo.

I wont be going home for the holidays for the first time in many years this year. I know its bad timing with all the drama but I'm low man on the totem pole at work. That and I dont feel like paying $1200 to spend 2 days in freezing temps. Sister was upset until I told her what was behind door number three. I'm taking her with me to Spain in the Spring, we'll do our celebrating then and there.

"You know brother, you really shouldn't spend all that money just to come up here for a few days. I totally understand. I'll just see you in Barcelona!"

Yep, life is a series of trade offs.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Well aren't I clever thinking I would be so unique in my going to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. I mean, who in their right mind drags their family to Vegas for Thanksgiving, right? Apparently the answer is all of Los Angeles, part of Phoenix and about 2 million other people.

Paris, Las Vegas
My friend Donnie, also known as the Godfather of the Strip, put HEU Tara and I up at Paris. Not only that but he upgraded us to the super suite on the 20th floor overlooking the Bellagio fountains. Bonus!

Paris, Las Vegas

I liked Paris, particularly that it could be easily accessed by a side street and not Las Vegas Blvd. Also the Crepe place just outside of the registration area is a quick, inexpensive and wonderful place to snack.

As per my usual MO, I tried all new in LV.

O @ Bellagio
My favorite experience was seeing O at Bellagio. If you haven't seen any Cirques before, I'd recommend seeing another like Ka or Mystere before you see O. O is undescribable. It's similar to any other Cirque but the giant pool built into the stage, the acrobatics many stories above the water followed by the dizzying diving into the water are amazing. Its slightly less than 2 hours with no intermissions, but you will be thoroughly exhausted by the end. Sit close so you can see the intricate logisitics of raising and lowering the many platforms in the water to get the outrageous effects. Also, don't go into sticker shock over the $165 tickets, its actually well-worth the cost.

Hoover Dam
I finally saw Hoover Dam, incredibly interesting, particularly when you think that this structure was built in the 20's with 20's technology. Its weird to think that the concrete they poured over 80 years ago is still curing in spots. Its just that massive. Also interesting is the new freeway they are building over the dam area. If you are at all interested in massive and complicated construction projects, this would be the sight to visit. If you venture out to Hoover from LV, leave early. HEU Tara and I spent 2 hours in bump-2-bump getting there, and its less than 30 miles. No regrets that we did but next time I will get out before the masses.

Hoover Dam

Liberace Museum
There are many sights to see in LV but the one you shouldn't miss is the Liberace Museum. I know what you're thinking but c'mon, he was SO Las Vegas. And I have to think he was in on the whole joke. While I was not a fan of his music, I totally respected his self-made-ness and the fact that he never let anyone else manage his money. The museum itself is in a very subtle, run-down strip mall, diagonally across from what could only be called bad student housing. Don't let that stop you.

Some of these costumes weighed over 200 pounds. Liberace had to be fitted with a special truss just to be able to wear these puppies while seated. Fashion is hell people; pure rhinstone-covered, pink ostrich glitterati hell.

Mix @ Mandalay
Good grief, there is so much to eat in LV its ridiculous. While I wouldnt be caught dead at even a good buffet, I did manage to eat well just the same. I think my favorite was Mix at the Manadaly Hotel. Mix is part nightclub, part restaurant. Nightclub is the very ordinary psuedo VIP crap complete with the over-and-out bottle service which died a few years back. Restaurant is extraordinary. Not only is the 360-view from the 64th floor amazing, the decor is starck white, post-modern 60's and the food is 5-star.

Glass Spheres hanging from ceiling @ Mix

While I am not a gambler, couldnt care less about partying all night or sleezy, forgettable affairs, I love Las Vegas for what it is; a replica of many other cities all jam packed in to one thriving neon-lit playground devoid of day-to-day troubles or adult responsibilities.


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