Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Music Mix

Carlos is off tonight at Cat's Meow with his work peeps.

Among other projects, I'm home working on my second music compilation of the month. I usually put one together - and sometimes more if time or inspiration hits me.

The music compilation CD just reflects the music I'm listening to at that moment in time - regardless of the current trends. Carlos always gets a copy. Depending on the music, I send copies to other people.

Tonight, I put my cherished Media Monkey on Auto DJ, skimmed off the tunes that didn't fit, added other tunes that inspired me and came up with this set...



I pay for programs that I respect. To me, money = a vote toward a program that gets it right. After trying the free versions, I paid full price for the complete versions of Media Monkey and the app Shazam.



Wire - U2
It's The Music That We Choose - Gorillaz (video below)
Jerkin' Back N Forth - Devo
Feet Don't Fail Me Now - Utopia
Hammer In My Heart - Utopia
Precious Declaration - Collective Soul
She's Got You High - Mumm-Ra (video below)
Heart Like A Wheel - Steve Miller Band
Have You Ever Seen The Rain? - The Ramomes
Have You Ever Seen The Rain? - Creedence Clearwater Revival
(Wish I Could) Hideaway - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Alone (live) - Heart
The Road Home (live) - Heart
These Dreams (live) - Heart
Ain't It Heavy (live) - Melissa Etheridge
The Long Run - The Eagles
Touch 2 Feel - Girl Talk
The Angels - Melissa Etheridge
Under Pressure (live) - My Chemical Romance and The Used
Good Girls Go Bad - Cobra Starship (video below)
Take It Easy - The Eagles (video below)

You can probably follow which songs came up in the auto mix and which ones were inspired from those.

The videos of some of the songs:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Great Meal

A couple of times per week, Carlos and I put together an elaborate meal to eat.

Last night, I was sitting outside on my side porch, listening to the radio, drinking a Blue Moon beer when he showed up with marked pages in two cookbooks - Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the one he uses the most these days, and Taste of Home: Most Requested Recipes. The recipes that he picked were some of the most delicious we have had in awhile - so I wanted to share them with you. We altered each recipe a bit, which is reflected in our listings.

Champignons Sautés à la Crème
[Creamed Mushrooms]

1 lb Fresh Mushrooms
2 Tb Butter
1 Tb Olive Oil
2 Tb minced Green Onions or Shallots
1 tsp Flour
1 cup Whipping Cream
3 Tb White Wine*
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tb Softened Butter

* The original recipe called for Madeira, but Carlos wanted to use white instead of red wine. I think he sees red wine as an ingredient in French meat dishes such as Boeuf Bourguignon, which he loves to cook - and is quite good at cooking.

Sauté the mushrooms in hot butter and oil for 5 to 6 minutes, but do not allow them to brown any more than necessary. Add the shallots or onions and toss over moderate heat for 2 minutes.

Stir in the flour and cook slowly for 2 minutes more, stirring.

Off heat, blend in the cream and seasonings. Then boil down rapidly until the cream has reduced and thickened. Add the wine, and boil for a moment to evaporate its alcohol. Correct seasoning. May be set aside and reheated later.

Off heat and just before serving, fold in the last 2 Tb butter.

Tasty Onion Chicken

1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 Tb Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Ground Mustard
1 can (2.8 oz) French-Fried Onions, Crushed
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Halves

In a shallow bowl, combine the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Place the onions in another shallow bowl. Dip the chicken in butter mixture, then coat with onions.

Place in a greased 11" x 7" baking dish. Drizzle with remaining butter mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°.

Bon Appétit!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Working The Room

Carlos and I had a busy weekend.

Friday night, I was invited to an Asado by my friend Dale. Her (36-year-old) daughter Beth and Argentinean husband Gabriel were hosting at their Uptown house.

Gabriel designed and custom built a brick-enclosed grill - complete with chimney - in their backyard. I had been to a "Meat Party", as I call it, at their old house pre-Katrina. This one was just as fun. Gabriel would ring his bell - installed on his brick-enclosed grill - every time new meat was ready. I told him that I was up for whatever he was cooking - as long as he didn't tell me what was "odd" food and what was "normal" food.

I know I had ribs and different types of sausage. I found out later that I also had sweetbread. I can tell you that it is neither sweet nor bread - but it does taste a bit like chicken.

Saturday morning, Carlos and I were invited to a brunch at Steve and Sheree's house. (Steve is an old friend of mine from early high school. I have known him since we were both 13.)

Then he and I spent the day in the Quarter at French Quarter Fest.

When Steve invited us, he told me that there would be about 20 people there and that besides Carlos and me, everyone else would be food writers or food bloggers. I do read Steve and Sheree's blog regularly - and I highly recommend it, especially if you live in New Orleans and/or love New Orleans and/or love food.


Tangent - Some of my favorite posts from their blog, French-Quarter-Fest-centric because that fest was this weekend:

French Quarter Fest Logistics

French Quarter Fest Food
French Quarter Fest Music
Ranting about Outback Steakhouse - and chain restaurants in general

And my all-time favorite post of theirs (so far)...
Safety in the French Quarter


I also mentioned to Carlos what Steve had said about the other attendees so he would have the same information as I had and could be prepared. He didn't seem concerned. Carlos is always so graceful and social at parties. I, on the other hand, show up at our (mutual) hair cut guy with prepared topics. Over the years, I have tried to absorb his calmness about "working the room".

This weekend were two great occasions to practice my social skills. Friday night, I knew maybe five people out of 50. Saturday morning, Carlos and I knew exactly two people out of 20 (the two hosts). Both outings were successful in their own way.

Picture yourself invited to a large party where you know a very small handful of people - maybe even only the hosts: Do you talk just with them? Do you branch out and talk with other people? Do you drink too much to overcome your shyness? Do you make an excuse to leave early? Do you wuss out entirely and not show up at all?

Over the years, I have done all of the above. Here are my Tips For Working The Room that I have learned over the years.

1. The first people and the last people at the party you should talk with are the hosts. But do not cling to them all night. They have an entire room to attend to.

2. When you arrive, have something to hand the hosts. Never show up to a party empty handed. Never. Plus it'll give you something to - briefly - talk about.

3. Leave the above item at the party. Always. Do not take it home with you. Ever.

4. Offer to help with something. Refill the ice. Stir the chili. Take the coats. It'll help the hosts and give you something to talk with your potential new friends about.

5. When introducing yourself to other guests, relate yourself to your hosts - someone you will all have in common. ("Dale and I worked at Kinko's together, and have remained friends ever since. I have known Beth since she was in her teens.")

6. Don't talk too much. Listen. Ask questions. No one wants to hear about your life. Everyone wants to talk about their own life.

7. Don't talk too little. No one wants to talk with someone who can't keep up his side of the conversation.

8. Find the most wall flower person at the party. She/he is feeling exactly as you are, but not handling it as well as you are. There is power in numbers. Go talk with him. Then the two of you go talk with other people together.

9. When you're introducing yourself to someone, repeat their name back to them. And again. And later again. (I still remember Karen's name from Friday night because when I met her, I kept saying her name.)

10. Think about what you have in common with the guests before you arrive. (Before Steve and Sheree's brunch, I read the 15 unread entries of their blog - and all the comments. Turns out, many of the comments were made by other guests at their brunch.)

And in case all of the above fails...

11. Have an exit strategy when you arrive. Near the beginning, work into the conversation with someone (preferably the hosts) that you may have to leave early because 1) you have to get up early for work, 2) you accidentally double booked the evening, 3) your spouse is a bit under the weather, and so on. Make the excuse something that you can brush off if your night is going well.


Keeping with the weekend theme, here is the song W.E.E.K.E.N.D. by Arling & Cameron. If you are in New Orleans and listen to WTUL on Friday mornings, you know this song.

Gardening: Year Two

Last year, I planted red bell peppers, green bell peppers, orange bell peppers, and cucumbers in my first ever attempt at a garden.

Only the cucumbers really worked out.

This year, I am planting cucumbers again. Plus, another try at green bell peppers. I am also attempting eggplant, jalapenos, and snap beans. Here is a picture of my garden - week one. Ever week or so, I will post an update.

I have learned from last year that the cucumber vines like to crawl. Thus the reason for the chain link fence.

I may also post some recipes that I make from my garden's results.

My Favorite TV Show Ever (This Week)

There is TV that I watch and there is TV that I obsess about.

When I find a TV show that I really love, I go through a period where I obsess about it. I have to watch every episode. I make spreadsheets about the episodes that I have watched and the ones that I still have to watch. I have to join every newsgroup and Yahoo group about it. I have to read everything on the TV show's website. I subscribe to the Twitter feed of every cast member.

I have to show Carlos my New Discovery.

My earliest post about my Favorite TV Show Ever - This Week was in September 2007 about Ninja Warrior on G4. I still watch the show, but not as religiously as back in September 2007.

Here are my current Favorite TV Shows Ever - This Week:
Shameless (the US version. I have never seen the UK version.)
Top Chef
Friday Night Lights
Criminal Minds (though besides Janeane Garofalo, I'm not yet a fan of the spin off Criminal Minds Criminal Behavior.)

And the one I want to focus on today:
1 Girl 5 Gays.

My DVR is set to search for TV shows with certain key words - "France", "New Orleans", "Time Travel", and so on. One of those words is "gay", and one night it picked up the late-night Logo channel show 1 Girl 5 Gays - originally on MTV Canada.

The subtitle of the show is "20 Questions about Love and Sex".

Some sample questions:
What is the creepiest thing a stranger has said to you?
Who is the most embarrassing member of your family?
Who would you do - George Clooney or Christian Bale?
Do you like your bum?

The show is well into season two. I have looked for a complete list of questions asked so far, but haven't found them. I am working on my own list, as I watch the show. (I have written almost 10 show's worth of questions - 200 questions.) My friends and I play Loaded Questions and Adult Loaded Questions. I am going to turn these questions into Super Adult Loaded Questions.

Once I do have a list of all the questions, I'll post them - so everyone else can benefit from my research. I'd love to see others play Super Adult Loaded Questions with the questions.

Blog that rates the guys - the best and the worst

1 Girl 5 Gays on Twitter

A list of each cast member's Twitter pages - so you can follow your favorites.

My favorites guys are:
Matt Barker
John Paul

I really like the host, Aliya-Jasmine, too. She sets just the right tone and asks the perfect follow up questions when needed.