Archive for April, 2007

All roads lead to food and wine……
April 30, 2007

A long time friend, who used to be a neighbor but moved to the Eastern Shore a few years ago, called and said, “You have to come the the Food and Wine Festival in St. Michael’s”. Of course, Elise was gonna be there…she is the founder and editor of Chesapeake Foodie…..a beautiful and informative website with all things food and drink in Anne Arundel, Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties, but expanding. (She made the recipe for the Smoked Salmon Cheesecake that’s on the website and brought it to a party at my house…ohmigoodness, fabulous. Try it.)
If Elise says the festival is good, I know it is….and off we went.
You know how gorgeous the weather was Sunday….so that was right, and walking through tents, sipping wines from all over the world and sampling local delicacies didn’t hurt any either….
Ran across Sarah Engram there….she used to work for the Baltimore Sun, took their buyout about five years ago. I met Sarah maybe ten years ago, when we were both going on an Outward Bound invitational…a three day trip to…..”challenge ourselves”. Well, Sara got a different kind of challenge when she fell down the stairs after being fitted for a life jacket, and broke her ankle. Ouch. On the other hand, she didn’t have a cold wet weekend, using the potty in full view of everyone on the bow of the boat and sleeping on oars, either.
Now Sarah is part owner of tsp spices. These are gorgously boxed and tinned, fabu spices, in teaspoon size packets…so they stay fresh, instead of slowly drying into tastelessness on your spice rack. And they had a tray of Sweet Heat Brownies, made with their ancho chile pepper! Unbelieveably good…”brownies for grownups”, they called them. You can order spices and find the recipe on their website.
There were a couple of local cheesemakers there….met Holly Foster of Chapel’s Country Creamery in Easton…tried some of their cave aged cheeses, and took home of their delicious Chapel Cheddar. Talk about a woman doing it all…Holly said she had been milking their cows, just that morning!
And the guys from Firefly Farms from Bittinger Maryland…they are the purveyors of all things artisan goat cheese…which happens to be of my favorites. They even make a blue cheese chevre. Took home a log of their Buche Noire…a creamy smooth, ash coated chevre. Yummy.
Bread, cheese, wine, sunshine…all on the water. What’s not to like, really. I hope your weekend was good too!

Deadlines and procrastination….
April 28, 2007

Here’s why my job is perfect for me…..perfect…It’s because I have a deadline every day at five o’clock….actually several deadlines throughout the day. If I have a story that has to be written today, so it can be edited…it will be. If I have a shoot at 11 AM, I’ll be there. I start afternoon live promo shoots at 3:30….so I know I have to be in makeup at 3:00, and hit live at 3:30, 3:55, and 4:10, and as was said about another program, it’s also true for us. We don’t go on at five because we’re ready, we go on because it’s 5:00!!
But if you were to ask our special projects producer Augusta Brennan(who certainly deserves a special place in heaven because of her continual patience and prodding with me and others), and if she were to be honest, she’d say getting people to finish projects that are airing in a week or two, is like pullng teeth from a snake. It’s very hard, OK?
I’m not sure why this is true….Maybe television attracts a certain type of person who is deadline driven. Oh, they’ll get it done ok, just not very soon. And I do have the best intentions to finish logging tapes that day(and logging tapes is something you must do yourself if you’re writing a story….getting an intern to do it isn’t even close too the same), but it’s a kind of slogging torture.
Start the tape, write some words, the time code, stop the tape. Get the end time code….blah, blah, blah. I think I can safely say, everyone hates logging tapes.
But today my procrastinating has put me in a familiar yet dicey predicament.
I don’t think I have anything to wear to a black tie event tonight,( at least nothing everyone hasn’t seen, twice,) and all week, I’ve put off having a mani and a pedi…both of which I desperately need.
SO, there I was schlogging around Towsontown Centre, looking for a pedicure, a dress, or a new top to wear wth a black evening skirt I already own, makeup I needed two weeks ago at MAC, new shoes(where are you)…oh, and my daughter seems to have absconded to college with all my evening bags, so I need to yell at her, and buy a new one …Then, on to Usha Gupta for brow maintenance, and THEN on to the Shock Trauma Gala at the Baltimore Convention Center….Phew!!
If only I planned ahead, all that last minute panic buying could be avoided, but then, I wouldn’t be me, would I?

Calling all Donna Hamiltons!!!
April 28, 2007

You may have seen Rob Roblin’s story this week at on 11 News at Five….If you didn’t, his story was about $580 million, in unclaimed cash and property sitting in State of Maryland funds, because it hasn’t been claimed by its rightful owners…75,000 othem.
Rob found his own name….he was understandably excited, but turns out the $150.00 actually belonged to his son, from an old paycheck he’d never picked up.
But more amazing, he has a friend, whose husband died a month or so ago, who saw the story yesterday. On the theory of why not try it….she typed in her husband’s name and discovered there was $900 in a safety deposit box, that she didn’t know about, and perhaps he just forgot about it. That’s a lot of money!
Sooooooo, why not? I typed in my husband’s name…..nothing……my son and daughter’s name….nada.
But when I typed in Donna Hamilton… popped up!! Eureka!! Could it be my lost fortune? Well if it is a lost fortune, it’s not mine. This Donna Hamilton lives, or lived, on Oak Hill Road. Where are you Donna? Your money or property is waiting for you….and here’s hoping it’s a nice, whopping sum of money. It would be nice for at least one Donna Hamilton to be stinking rich!!

batting my eyelash extensions
April 26, 2007

For those of you who might not have read it, and since the story aired tonight…I’m redoing my entry from that date….
batting my eyelash extensions redux
OK, I’m not used to having eyelashes in the morning. When I get up, with no eye makeup, because unlike one of my sisters, I DO wash my face at night, so no eye makeup. Just eyeballs…you know what I mean. But this morning, I had long luxuriant dark lashes, and I’m not used to that look of already having mascara on. It’ll take a little getting used to….
I hadn’t been to the About Faces Salon in Canton Crossing until yesterday. WOW, it is a knockout, very very swanky, New York spa look, with gorgeous views across the bay. Gleaming marble, beautiful flowers…it has the look.
And for the men, there is also a gentlemen’s lounge, which I am told by Gerry Sandusky (who clearly does the spa thing from time to time), that it is awkward for guys sitting and waiting for a treatment among usually several women in robes. I assured him that the women don’t like it any better if guys are there, so there. Anyway, now they won’t have to mix it up, at least at this spa. I’d love to write more, but I have to go stare at my lashes. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has the longest lashes of all???? I do@!

Killer Shrimp and Grits
April 26, 2007

When we arrived at The Beach Club and unloaded our tons of stuff….you’re so exhausted that the first impulse, is to go out to eat. You know what I mean…the thought of tackling cooking, after a long drive and unpacking stuff….”Hey, want to go out to eat tonight?”
But we have PLANNED to cook tonight, and isn’t that what we brought all the food for? Buck up, baby….and after all, there are three of us to do the chopping and table setting…..while Mom, after many, many years at the stove, gets to watch.
We are preparing Shrimp and Grits.
Now, there are as many ways to do this recipe as there are grains of sand on the beach, and there’s no real right or wrong way, but this is what we did. The key is good shrimp, and as you know, that is easier said than done. My sister Audrey, who lives on the Gulf Coast, has access to really good shrimp from the Gulf…not farm raised in Thailand. So, do the best you can.

Killer Shrimp and Grits, serves four
1 pound of large shrimp, peeled
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 large vidallia onion,chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped, with some green top included
salt and pepper,
(you could add a little finely chopped ham, which adds flavor)
Grits for four….done by package directions
1/2 stick butter, 3 T olive oil

Prepare grits first…. when you’ve completed the package directions(they should be on the thick side), pour about a half cup heavy cream over the top…let them sit and warm while you do the shrimp.
Saute red pepper and vidalia onion(and ham if you’re using it) in the butter and oil, over medium heat, until onions are translucent.
Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add shrimp and green onions…saute for about a minute…until the shrimp are all pink.Don’t overcook!
Salt and pepper to taste, some Old Bay wouldn’t be amiss, or a couple of shots of Tobasco, if you like.
Now stir the cream into the grits, make sure they’re warm…..oh they are yummy.
Pour the grits onto a pretty platter, and the shrimp vege mixture in the center of that….and serve!

We ate that evening on the balcony, overlooking the beach as the sun was beginning to set….It was a lovely, lovely evening. And I can assure you, this recipe will please everyone. I also served it while I was in Charleston back in March, one evening when Sandy Unitas came over for dinner….She was in Charleston on a “trip to take care of herself”. That night I used stone ground grits….They take a lot longer to cook(about 40 minutes) and can be hard to find, but they’re worth the effort.
However, quick or regular grits(never, never instant), are almost as good, and much quicker. I hope you enjoy the dish as much as we did!

Bates House of Turkey
April 25, 2007

The trip I make to Alabama for a spring getaway to the beach with my sisters and Mom has been going for about four years now….but this year I did it differently. Usually my sister in Bham drives my Mom down to the beach, and I fly into Pensacola. Nice for me, but hard on her.
So this year, I did the “good sister” routine. I flew into Birmingham, and got my Mom ready for the trip (no easy thing, really…it wasn’t until I did it, that I realized my sisiter is a saint), and the next morning, Jan drove over, picked us up and off we went.
It’s a five hour trip to the coast, wildly dependant on how many times you stop and how long you stop. Jan has a kind of formula worked out with my Mother….who likes to stop, often. These stops are never easy, because she has trouble getting around and uses a walker. It’s a project, getting her and her gear out of the car, into a place, into the bathroom….oh, that’s really a project…..and out again.
We made two quick…pretty quick we left…a sausage and biscuit for Mom from Chick Filet, and Starbucks for me.
Now, even though I had bought her a cheddar biscuit from Edgars(a fabulous bakery and restaurant in Birmingham) the day before we left, that morning, she announced,”I don’t want that biscuit from Edgars…it’s too rich!” So Chick Filet it was….and seriously, I just have to have Starbucks in the morning. So two stops already.
About half way down, she likes a stop at Priester’s….for those of you who don’t know it, it’s a candy/bakery place, that sells lime cakes, blackberry wine cakes, divinity, pecan pralines, all kinds of salted nuts, brittles,…and every variety of kitsch. My Mother LOVES it. But it’s difficult stop, with tiny crowded aisles, but we usually do it.
However, on this trip, my sister and I are talking…a lot. Gossiping, my Mom says, but really we’re just…yakking. Jan will admit this is a problem, because when she talks and drives, her mind isn’t on where she’s going. So we unknowingly sail right past the exit for Priester’s. We’re flying along, and Jan says “uh-oh…I think we missed Priesters”. It’s miles back….and my Mother is like a disappointed little girl.
So we try to appease her with a stop to another candy store…and we do end up buying a leftover big red valentine heart, full of chocolate covered nuts. It’s half price! My Mom loves a bargain. “I only want nuts, no creams”, she announces suspiciously to the clerk, as if she would might try to slip a few chocolate covered creams on my Mom…..but really, it’s not the same as Priester’s. A poor facsimile.

This particular candy store is on the same stop as something that everyone asssures me is a landmark…Bates House of Turkey. Seriously, where else but Alabama would you find Bates House of Turkey? (It reminds me of another place I saw once in ‘bama…with a huge marquee that read,seriously, “Guns, Fireworks and Liquor”. What a lethal combo.) The name Bates House of Turkey is creepy but self-explanatory….and it is a sentimental favorite, as my Dad and Mom used to ALWAYS stop there on the way to the beach, for a sandwich. However, my Mom isn’t in the mood for turkey…not now anyway…she wanted Priester’s! So, we plow on.
Next on the highlight list…Foley, Alabama.
Foley is an actual town, but it’s real claim to fame is the Tanger Outlets….some good shopping there, let me assure you. But on this day, we have promised Mother a hamburger in Foley, and now, she does not trust our ability to make the stop. “We haven’t passed Foley, have we?”,asks Mom, her voice dripping wiith suspicion.
“No Mom, we’re not there yet”, Jan assures her.
A few minutes later….”Is this Foley?”
“Not yet, but we’re close”
“You better not go through Foley without stopping”, my Mom is now almost militant about the stop in Foley, and we are almost weak with laughter…silent mirth, of course.
Finally an Arby’s roast beef sandwich is procured, in Foley, as promised. And so it goes…all the way to Gulf Shores. No divinity or pralines, but a roast beef sandwich offers a bit of cold comfort to a little old lady who wanted Priester’s, dammit! Is that so much to ask?

Trying to maintain that post vacation feeling…..
April 24, 2007

You know what I’m talking about. That little sign that escapes you lips, when you’re thinking about lying by the pool, or having dinner on the balcony, overlooking the beach. But that’s not where you are….no indeed, you are at your desk, in the newsroom, Deborah Weiner is over there yelling something at me(doesn’t she know I’m writing an important blog?), in 15 minutes I have to go to makeup and once again attempt to transform into a more glamorous form….something I do NOT do on vaca.
Something that helped me maintain that beachy feeling today, is a new CD I have, entitled C`eU. She’s a singer from Sao Paulo…and the soft, mellow, distinctly tropical sounds are very, very nice and very, very necessary to maintain even the slightest hint of beach-mood.
Even now, I feel the sand and surf slipping away….away…..oh, who am I kidding. I’m not there anymore, OK? Just get over it, and move on.
There will be other vacations, maybe even better ones, but now I’m in a little bit of a funk. Not a big funk, just a little one.
Soon I will give you my recipe, as requested for shrimp and grits, and you too can feel like you’re on vacation too. And maybe soon you will be…even if it’s in your back yard….eating some shrimp and listening to C`eU……yeah, that’s the ticket.

morning in gulf shores….
April 23, 2007

It’s 8 AM in Gulf Shores Alabama…..I’m in a guest bedroom, on my sister’s computer….which is on dial-up by the way, so everything takes a while. But it’s the first chance I’ve had at a computer since Friday….we’ve been at the beach, computerless for the last couple of days.
It was a tough decision, leaving my laptop behind….I feel cut off somehow…can’t blog, can’t do any internet banking, but I really didn’t want to lug the thing along, and I knew my sisters would think it decidedly odd to bring a computer to the beach, soooooo, I didn’t take it.

This is a picture of Audrey(she’s so cute!)….yes I know, we look very much alike…So here I am now….Audrey is yelling from the kitchen, “Do you know where the butter is?”
“NO, I don’t,” I yell back….
“Do you think it ended up in Jan’s sack?”, she yells back….”I don’t know”, says me.
I know the butter issue will not please her. We all bring things to the beach…seriously, you’d think we were moving in for the seige, when we checked in at The Beach Club…a beautiful place out on Fort Morgan.
Enough foodstuffs to last a week…but our theory is, you never know what you’re gonna need, so bring it. All that, and we still had to go buy salt and pepper…but we had fresh coconut cake!
Anyway, all that food has to be split back up when the trip is over…you take back what you brought…..and now the butter, which my sister Jan will NEVER eat, is missing.
“All that long ride home in a hot car”, fumes Audrey.
And it is true, while Audrey and I do eat real butter…not all the time, but this weekend yes, and we made a killer shrimp and grits with it….Jan will not touch it. Sad, really. Not ever eating butter is just….sad, somehow,
“Oh, it’s here, I found it”, now shouts Audrey, triumphant that right wins out after all.
And we’ll have some butter for our toast on homemade bread…and then it’s off to Pensacola for the flight back home. Check you later…..and my sister now tells me I should tell you, that she doesn’t have as many “issues” as this makes her sound like she has. Well……

low maintenance houseguests…
April 19, 2007

Is there any such thing really? For the past few days, I’ve had a former neighbor friend from England, who lived in my neighborhood some years back, in for a visit. She hadn’t been here in a while, and wanted to see some old friends, so she’s been staying here.
I’ve loved having her, really. She is pretty low maintenance houseguest, as houseguests go….you know, she doesn’t expect to be entertained 24-7, iz helpful, and lots of fun to be around.
But she got me to thinking about high and low maintenance….she really is low maintenance….Jackie lives in a small village in England, works from home, so doesn’t get gussied up on a daily basis, spends lots of time mucking out the horse stalls…you get the picture. Low maintenance things about her that I cannot lay claim to: she has never colored her hair….doesn’t wear makeup on a daily basis…doesn’t have her eyebrows threaded….and would think an oxygen facial a strange and objectionable procedure(she’s wrong here).
But she agrees with me that I am, on a different level…pretty low maintenance, at least for a tv person. I do have to do all of the above, and more, to work on tv. It’s a visual business. You ignore how you look at your own peril, if you catch my drift.
But when I go home, I immediately peel off all that…get in comfy clothes, strip off the makeup, throw my hair up, heave a deep sigh, and relax. Really , really relax and enjoy cooking dinner, watching a little tv, reading …and if I’m feeling ambitious, I do laundry and clean the kitty litter.
Jackie is leaving tomorrow, headed back to the U.K….and so am I, for a “girl’s weekend” with my sisters in Alabama. Man, am I ready for some warm weather, so it makes sense that I’m heading south, just in time for it to get warm here! I’ll write from the road, if I can get my computer to work!

thoughts on a mass murder
April 18, 2007

We were all struggling yesterday to understand that which we never will…why a troubled 23 year old young man who clearly was out of sync with the rest of the world, would kill 32 classmates and teachers around him, seemingly without warning.
Even if Cho Seung-Hui were stannding right in front of us, to explain why, we still
wouldn’t understand it, because a rational person can rarely understand the acts of an irational person. It wouldn’t make any sense….We’ll never know.
Plenty of people are wondering if this could have been avoided….the answer is of course, yes….if someone had known it was coming. But minus that, IF psychiatric counseling had been pushed, not suggested for Cho, maybe IF his parents had been called in, maybe IF some kids around him had made him a friend….maybe, maybe, maybe. But we’ll never know.
The heartbreak of all the parents who lost children at Virginia Tech is unimaginable….and Cho’s poor arents can’t even grieve in public. Not only have they lost their child, he has done a hideous thing that has brought shame on their house. What a terrible thing….trying to comprehend your son, taking the lives of so many around him, and then, after the shooting stops, taking his own life. Part of the plan all along? We’ll never know.
I’m glad the sun is shining this morning, as the truth of what has happened really begins to sink in. God knows we need it.