Thursday, January 21, 2010

Goals for the New Year

I usually don't make any goals for the new year, but I did write some down this year. I'll look back at this post in January 2011.

Besides the usual goals like "get out of debt" and "lose 20 pounds", I have these:

1) Do something cultural at least once a month. Some upcoming events:
The Beatles LOVE by Cirque Du Soleil - In Las Vegas
NPR's Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me Live
David Sedaris Live

2) Take a cooking class at Delgado Community College (as I did about 10 years ago).

3) Volunteer at WRBH - Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped. This one has actually been on my To Do list for a couple of years.

4) Reconnect with old high school and college friends - Scott, Todd, Wild Bill, Drifter, Sean, Kevin, etc. Facebook makes that easier and easier.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monthly Family Dinner - February 2009

The first Monday of each month, our family gets together. We rotate hosting duties so Carlos and I host every third month. We are hosting in February – right in Mardi Gras season. Here is the menu we are planning.

Salad (Marshall) - Mardi Gras Salad

Toss together -
6 cups sliced/chopped purple cabbage
2 cups sliced shallots (green onions)
4 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
1 packet Ramen noodles

Dressing -
6 tbsp. vinegar
4 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. pepper, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 Ramen chicken flavor packet

Mix dressing together until sugar dissolves. Pour over salad, and mix.

Soup (Carlos) - Soupe a l'ail aux pommes de terre

Ingredients –
1 head of garlic
2 quarts water
2 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
2 cloves
1/4 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 bay leaf
4 parsley sprigs
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
3 cups diced potatoes
Pinch of Saffron
French bread
Parmesan cheese

Directions –
Separate a head of garlic so that you have about 16 cloves. Drop them into boiling water for 30 seconds, rinse with cold water, and peel.

Drop them into your soup pot, along with all the ingredients listed above up to but not including the potatoes.

Boil slowly for 30 minutes. Strain it, and return to the saucepan. Add about 3 cups of diced "boiling potatoes" (I used Yukon Gold) and a good pinch of saffron to the broth and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Serve with French bread and grated Parmesan cheese.

Main Dish (Marshall) - Aurora’s Chicken Pepperoni
Yes, from this movie

Ingredients -
4 (6-ounce) skinless boneless chicken breasts
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (16-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 ounces pepperoni, sliced in thin rounds (8 slices)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions –
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pound the chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to about 1/2-inch thickness. In a shallow skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the oregano and garlic powder. Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground pepper. Coat the chicken breasts with the bread crumbs.

Saute in the olive oil until browned, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the chicken cutlets to a baking dish. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the tomato, sugar, oregano, basil, and garlic powder. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking pan. Place the slices of pepperoni on top of each cutlet. Sprinkle the tops with cheese.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. or until the cheese melts and just begins to brown. Serves 8.

Dessert (Marshall & Carlos, actually store bought) – King Cake

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Greatest Cover Songs of All Times

Back in my college radio DJ days, one of my shows fell on a Tuesday. (I usually had two or three shows per week - some solo, some with an on-air partner.) All of us Tuesday DJ’s got together at the beginning of every semester and decided to have our respective radio shows (each three hours long, each with a different type of music) every Tuesday a “Two for Tuesday” show.

Our radio station had an unspoken rule: Once a song was played on your radio show, you could NEVER play it again. Because of this, by the end of the semester, I was coming up with very creative ways to present my “Two for Tuesday” shows.

The very last show of the semester became “Reverse Two for Tuesday” shows – meaning that instead of two songs by the same artist, I would play the same song by two different artists. This out-of-necessity creation became a hit, and was anticipated by my audience every semester until I finished the semester’s shows with another edition.

I was thinking of that today because I was listening to Killer Queen: A Tribute To Queen, that Carlos got me for Christmas. It has some great cover songs on it, and thought I’d start making a list of the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time.

Here is what I have come up with so far – in random order.

We Are The Champions (originally Queen) – Gavin DeGraw
Though listening to the song, I thought it was Jonny Lang singing

Totally Hooked (Boston’s More Than A Feeling reworked and remixed) – DJ Peter Presta

Billy Jean (originally Michael Jackson) – Cobra Starship

Rehab (originally Amy Winehouse) – Paolo Nutini

Smooth Criminal (originally Michael Jackson) – Alien Ant Farm

Baker Street (originally Gerry Rafferty) – Foo Fighters

We Can Work It Out (originally The Beatles) – Tesla
Going back to the 1980's, I have always been a closet Tesla fan.

Hey Jude (originally, well, you know) – Wilson Pickett
This is my favorite Beatles cover - even considering Aretha Franklin's "Let It Be" and Stevie Wonder's "We Can Work It Out".

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (originally Anne Briggs, then Joan Baez) – Led Zeppelin

This may be my all-time favorite Zeppelin song.

Blinded By The Light (originally Bruce Springsteen) – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

Hazy Shade of Winter (originally Simon & Garfunkel) – The Bangles

I Heard It Through The Grapevine (originally Gladys Night & The Pips) – Creedence Clearwater Revival or Marvin Gaye

Both are great versions. The video is of Marvin Gaye’s version.

Stand by Me (originally Ben E. King) – John Lennon


Interested in remakes / cover versions? Here is the best web site about the subject that I have found.


This post looked at newer cover songs. Especially early in their careers, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Cream and other bands rerecorded old blues songs. There are tons more remakes for me to explore.

That’ll be in a future post.

40th +1 Surprise Party

Last night, Carlos and I joined our other family members for my cousin Paul’s 40th + 1 Surprise Birthday Party, planned by his wife Sarah.

Since there was a Saints game, Paul was supposed to watch the Saints game at an undetermined place and then go to my cousin’s (his sister’s) house at 7:30 pm. The plan fell through when Paul called Suzanne’s husband Steve, asking Steve if he could come over to watch the game – at 2 pm. When people started showing up for the Surprise Party portion of the evening, Paul finally figured it out.

Though it wasn’t a surprise at all, we had fun. My family is quite loud and boisterous. Add in that Sarah was fixing very strong Hurricanes.

Some choice conversation quotes:

My mom introducing Nick (half Filipino) to Carlos (originally from Honduras):
“Nick, have you met Carlos? Y’all have the same coloring.”

My sister Christine lamenting that part of her Mardi Gras will be hard to schedule this year: “Karlie [her girlfriend] is having her uterus taken out. I guess she couldn’t wait until after Ash Wednesday.”

My cousin Andree, after hearing the above:
“Hey. I had polyps on my uterus too. Cool. Let’s talk about it.”

My mom with my aunt Mary and my uncle Greg listening: “Carlos sure is getting a lot of attention from Angie [a 40-something mom of one of the young kids].”
Me: “Yea, but he’s told me that he wouldn’t know what to do with that. He said that there are too many flaps and folds down there.”
My mom with my aunt Mary and my uncle Greg listening: “Oh my Gawd, Marshall.”

My aunt Barbara at the end of the evening: “We really like Carlos. Almost as much as we like you.”
Me: “I can tell. He was surrounded by people all night. I think y’all like him more than me.”
Barbara: “Well, we do, but didn’t want to tell you that.”

Carlos, as we were driving home after I related that story to him: “It’s just that I’m the shiny new toy. It’ll blow over.”