Archive for May, 2008

Free burgers and hot dogs!!!
May 30, 2008

Hey, here at WBAL…we are made happy by the simplest things….like a barbecue to celebrate good ratings(that is a back door compliment to myself, did you get it?), and just the beginning of summer. And I will tell you this…there is nothing…nothing…that a newsroom likes better than free food. Except, when our boss cooks the food. Then it tastes even better.

short order cook Jordan WertliebAnd I have to hand to to Jordan Wertlieb…..our bossman. He manned an unbelievablyhot grill for a couple of hours, serving up burgers and dogs for the hungry masses. Add a little tater salad, and some cupcakes, and you’ve got yourself a party……and you know, it’s easy to have a barbecue, but you really don’t have to man the grill yourself…but he did. Thanks JW (I know, I know…such a suckup.) Whatever.

I’m celebrating my daughter’s birthday this weekend before she heads back to school for her “real” party. Our part of the birthday involves getting great birthday cake (from The Cupcake Company in Federal Hill..the best cakes and cupcakes ever)….a nice dinner out, Sotta Sopra is her birthday fav…and a few well selected(by her) gifts…it’s kind of like a once a year trip to the parental atm machine. Then she’s off, leaving the rest of us, and the cats, bobbing in her wake, saying, “Is that all there is a birthday?”.

Have a lovely weekend nice, and come home safe. We miss you.

OHMIGOD, Im Living Lohan…..
May 28, 2008

Living LohanIt’s true, it’s all true…last night my daughter who is home from college for a week, squealed from an adjacent room, “We’re watching Living Lohan  tonight!!” I gulped, not being a huge E Network watcher. But hey, how bad could it be…watching Lindsay’s Mom, Dina Lohan, scramble around trying to make another daughter (Ali) a big star. As one website referred to the show.. “The Unstoppable Momager…Dina Lohan’s Dreadful Dreams Come True!“.

 The title of the first episode is “Mommie Will Fix It“….and it begins with a pitch from Dina about how she’s a single Mom of four, just like anyone else trying to raise her family right (oh, and make Ali a star, since things have gone so well for Lindsay)….but here’s the thing…it was like lots of reality tv, oddly compelling. I don’t know if I’ll watch it again after Cada leaves, probably not, and Greek ( on ABC Family-obviously a new kind of family) and Gossip Girl (on CW–“see the show everyone’s talking about and you’re nobody until you’re talked about“) may also fall off  the tivo schedule. Greek is actually pretty good, and funny. If you were ever part of the Greek scene in college, which I was, it’s amusing…in that you have the rich boy frat, the slacker/animal house frat, the mean girl in the sorority, the nice girl…you get it. But funny. (I was the nice girl, btw.)

Here’s the kicker…at the end of the program, my baby girl said, “I think she’s a really good Mother.” Oh heavens…Dina Lohan, role model. It’s a new career!

An Herbal-Arcos-J.Crew weekend…
May 27, 2008

wagon filled with geraniums and herbsA strange title I know, but I packed a lot in this holiday weekend, starting with a trip to the Baltimore Herb Festival….Packed, the place was covered with herb-loving Marylanders, who found their way to Leakin Park iso fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme…and countless others along with roses and tomato plants! The wise shoppers bring wagons like this Flyer, so you easily roll your purchases around the loop. And trust me you’ll end up buying more than you expected to. Just don’t forget, buying the plant is just the beginning. They still have to get in the ground. I overheard one guy happily say to his wife/girlfriend, “You can make rosemary oil!” She replies, “I don’t make rosemary oil, I buy it.” Ouch, take that. He was probably thinking, “So why the hell are we here, then?”

Beeswax Glow BowlsI stumbled across these beautiful beeswax glow-bowls at the festival, that have flowers and herbs in the wax…you put a little water in them and a tealight, and they glow from within. Had to take a couple home with me…so, so pretty. They’re by a company called Bees in the Garden here in Maryland…they support mid-Atlantic beekeepers, by buying their beeswax directly from them.

Let’s see, what else….went to the new J. Crew outlet that opened last week just over the Bay Bridge. Very nice…got a new white t-shirt, and a new white button up shirt…you know, they just don’t stay white for long, so it was time to replenish. Nice store, and some good buys.  J. Crew StoreOh, and here was the big disappointment…saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Dare I say it? Boring. Just kinda dull. Not awful, just really a letdown. There, I feel better after all the hype.

P.S. I forgot the Arcos  part of the title….had some great echiladas there in mole sauce….which my daughter ordered and did not like. Maybe mole is an acquired taste…and this did seem a little different from the way I remembered having it there a year or so ago. New recipe? Anyway, they have a lovely outdoor patio to enjoy some mexican food and margaritas. And I enjoyed both!

What I’m serving this weekend…and the restroom from hell!
May 23, 2008

my groceries!Well, here’s a peek inside my grocery bag (reusable of course), after a trip to the store this afternoon on my lunch break….found blueberries, a pint today for $3.99….just yesterday a half pint was $4.99. Go figure.  The cherries were new…just $3.99 a pound…love cherries. Artichokes were yesterday 2 for $4.00. Today a buck each. Yes, I’ll take three. it’s funny how some people shy away from artichokes, and honestly, I never had one growing up…as they were not grown in my Daddy’s garden, and those were the veges we ate. No broccoli. No cauliflower either. But there were copious amounts of Big Boy tomatoes, sweet corn, okra, green beans and lima beans….oh, and eggplant. Yeah, we ate pretty good.

Here’s the deal with artichokes if you’ve never cooked one. Simple. Cut off the stem so the bottom is flat, boil it in a couple of inches of water until the leaves pull off easily…may 35 or 40 minutes. Make a butter cause of melted butter, lemon juice to taste, salt, pepper, a touch of Tabasco, and some chopped garlic of course. Then pull off the leaves and dip the end you’re not holding in the butter. At the end is a little bite of heaven that your teeth scrape off the leaf. When the leaves are gone, scrape off the fuzzy looking choke…and at the bottom is the artichoke heart. Dip and eat. How easy is that?

Please, no!Oh and for those of you who are traveling this weekend, I hope you find better restrooms than one I visited on my way home from Charleston this past March. I took a picture of the sign…it was just too funny, and all too well indicated what I was to find inside, if you know what I mean. Happy holiday everyone…be nice, and come home safe.

ISO Saffron
May 21, 2008

saffron threadsI’m just mad about Saffron, in the words of Donovan…but these days saffron isn’t so mad about me….I can’t find the mellow yellow stuff!! Seriously….I know it’s expensive and stores have been locking it up like contraband for years….you often have to ask for it. Truly worth its weight in gold, the best quality saffron can cost from 1200 to 1500 dollars a pound! Fortunately, you won’t ever need this much….not in a lifetime.

This past weekend I was making the famous dish from Spain…. paella. And while there are many things you can put in or leave out…seafood, chicken, sausage….the one key ingredient is Saffron. Quite rightly. It turns what is ordinary chicken and rice into a  fragrant,  golden mixture that is food for the gods. There is no other flavor like it.

saffron from McCormick'sOh, I finally found saffron after calling around. One store, after leaving me on hold for 5 minutes, said “Nope, don’t have it.” Another…”We used to have it locked in the safe, but now we don’t carry it anymore.” Finally found it at the Gucci Giant…the one on Old Court in Pikesville. And while they used to put in the safe, they finally just plunked it on the shelves….it must be hard to sell what you can’t see.

Saffron is the only spice there that costs 15 bucks, for a minuscule amount! Luckily a little saffron goes a long way. A pinch of the dried threads of the purple Crocus flower (the only spice to come from a flower) will color and flavor your rice or your bouillabaisse beautifully. And I’ve found a website where you can get a good quality saffron for about 7 bucks a gram…at The Spice House, a little over $8 for “coupe” grade which is supposed to have superior coloring qualities. Looked online for it  at McCormick’s(which is where my saffron came from, but couldn’t find it…maybe they have it locked in an online safe…)

Wish I had a picture of the paella I made…..Oh so yellow….oh so mellow…

Little Eggs of Joy
May 19, 2008

mama robin on nestI’ve been watching her (and maybe him) building their nest for some time now….on the wooden arbor over my back porch….busily bringing twigs and stuff and patting them all down, under the coverage of wisteria that grows overhead….and making one heck of a nice nest.   Can you see her there? Her tail is sticking out to the right of the nest and her head is peaking over to the left.

I didn’t dare get any closer for fear of frightening her off.  I hope Momma Robin isn’t already having buyer’s remorse over her choice of nesting spots. I mean, we do come and go out this door several times a day, and tonight there will be some people over, who will no doubt be outside and laughing  and talking, though I’ve tried to gently get here used to people sounds and she doesn’t seem much perturbed.

Muffy on house arrest...And Muffy the calico cat is also on restriction…house arrest she calls it…I can’t bear the thought of her catching and killing the Mommy or Daddy Robin..especially not with little ones on the way. And she would try…oh my yes. Baby Girl!Baby Girl, who is an inside kitty, sits on her perch by the back door, and watches the Robins come and go from the nest, making her little cat sounds, as if she can just imagine how delightful it would be to get her teeth around one of them. Dream on, Baby.

But it is something fun to watch…I can’t wait until the eggs hatch and there are little cheep-cheep sounds….so sweet. Little bundles of…no make that little eggs of joy.

Just say no to cherry-chipotle pie….
May 16, 2008

cherry-chipotle pie!Ok, I bought this pie at SuperFresh, where I shop a lot, this week. It looked good. The sign said “Gourmet Pies $4.99”. Not a bad price for a good pie. But not a good price for a bad pie. And I’m sad to say, that’s exactly what this is. Yes, yes, I did think the combination of cherry-lime-chipotle was an odd combo. Decidedly odd. But, maybe it’s a pie that’s just pushing the pie plate envelope so to speak. I mean, the first person ever to put fruit on meat probably got a lot of flack. So, who’s not to say that the cherry-lime-chipotle pie might not be the pie of the future. The one about which people say, “Wow, have you had a cherry lime chipotle pie yet? No? You gotta try it. Best pie ever!” And then you start seeing it on restaurant menus, and people make it for dinner parties. You know what I’m sayin’. The flan of today.

I popped the pie into the oven for a little warming. And then cut a slice. Tasting, tasting…wow there’s a pie with a kick. I mean, serious chipotle kick. And a smokey flavor. And lime…ok and some cherry. No. No, no, no, no, no, no no!!

This is one of the pies that was a lofty experiment. Truly, I believe in trying new things together. But the idea should have been shot down in the test kitchen. “Wow, Chef Larry (or whatever their name is),  that is really interesting, but in all honesty, it’s not good.”

Just say no to cherry-lime-chipotle pie. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

High School Doesn’t Define You……
May 15, 2008

papersWhat you’re looking at in this picture, is a stack of interim reports and progress reports that my sweet daughter hid from me, when she was a freshman and sophomore in high school. She is home from college for a few days before heading to the beach with friends for a few more days, and then back to school for some summer classes, and then on to her senior year! The subject of grades came up last night for some reason, and she said “I think all the high school reports I hid from you are still in the back of a drawer in my room.”

We went upstairs and sure enough, there they were, reminders of a painful time 6 or 7 years ago. Painful for all of us. She was really struggling in the private school she attended…a very good school, but not the right school for her. And it was a complicated situation, but in the end she found a school that was right for her…she got a fresh start, and while she still struggles to this day on tests, she has found ways to work around what she doesn’t do well, with what she does do well, like day to day assignments, and reports.

I asked her if she remembered a clipping I gave her years ago to put in her wallet, and to pull it out whenever she was having a terrible day. I don’t remember who wrote it but it went like this….a woman told a girl in high school that she should enjoy it, those were the best years of her life. The girl looked stricken, and with good reason. High school very often isn’t the best years of someone’s life, thank God. Some people make bad grades, others are social outcasts….and if they think this is the best it’s gonna get, well….that’s not much to look forward to. But the truth is , if you saw most people 10 years after high school, they would bear little resemblance to who they were back then. The geeks have become successful business people, the outcasts have found themselves in college and lief beyond, the people who struggle with their grades make it through, and no one cares 10 years later if you were the valedictorian. High school doesn’t define you.

With some help, my baby girl has gone on to become a confidant, strong young woman, and I’m so proud of her. I asked why she hid the reports, knowing that I’d eventually learn the truth. She said, “I was afraid you’d be mad at me.” When I said, “No I wouldn’t have been mad…concerned of course. Want to help you, yes, but not mad. ” And I wouldn’t have been.  I knew she was struggling and wanted to do better. But she just couldn’t face it, and stuck an unpleasant truth in the back of her drawer.

She read some of them to me out loud last night, and I think in some way it was cathartic  for her…she even found some of them funny. I still felt a twinge of pain for her hearing them…it is one of the most painful things for a parent…to have a kid who is struggling, and all you can do is provide support. But here we are, years later…almost a senior in college….happy I think…she’s getting there. But then, we’re all a work in progress.

What a great weekend…
May 11, 2008

oilThis is what I got for Momma’s Day. Some great olive oil (artisinal of course) and some 25 year old balsamic vinegar. (You’d think they could have sprung forsome new….jk) I love it, and a little viniagrette hand mixer that you can also store the vinaigrette in…Thank you!

You know, there are times I just feel so fortunate. I know that I am, really, in so many ways, but today I feel especially thankful and so blessed. Had a terrific time with my son and the lovely Jennifer this weekend… just really enjoyed each other’s company. It’s not always easy to make that transition to friends from mom and child. But we have, and I like it…a lot. And we ate good cheese (we all love good cheese), and drank some wine, and laughed a lot, and we saw two movies….Iron Man…what a neat flick that is with Robert Downey Jr., and at the end you know there are more to come. Good. Even saw a 2nd movie that was quite a ride, at home.  nyNetflixed Cloverfield,a monster movie set in New York…yikes, a big horribilis is eating everyone! Ok, ok, you’ve seen it before in other forms and so have I, but it was a fresh take seen through one young man’s video camera…fun, good suspense and scary!



The Dream Mother’s Day….
May 9, 2008

tvYep, there they were this morning…The Today Show with a kid-friendly Mother’s day breakfast. Wait a minute, isn’t it supposed to be  mom-friendly? It’s interesting to hear what women say they really want for Mother’s Day….some are happy with a card, others need some face time, others want a really nice (jewelry) gift, while one woman here at WBAL, who shall remain anonymous, said, “What I’d really like is for my husband to take the kids somewhere and and just leave me alone.” Now that sounds a little more harsh than she meant it, but I know exactly what she means. The one thing moms don’t get very often, is some time for themselves, by themselves, to do whatever they want. Alone time. Read, garden, listen to music, watch a movie you want to see….with no one there, fixing you what is usually a terrible breakfast and serving it to you, way too early  in bed, while they watch you eat it, and you have to ooh and aah over it, too.

What many would really like, is a morning to sleep late, in a peaceful, quiet house. Get up when you like, wander to the kitchen, where there is fresh coffee made and waiting for you, maybe a plate of croissants artfully arranged with some nice jams and some fruit, and a pretty bouquet of flowers. Some soft jazz is playing….can you hear it?  The card would read, “I have the kids at a movie/Science Center/The Harbor/a ballgame…and we won’t be back until later, and we’ll have dinner with us, so enjoy your day. Call if you get lonely, and we’ll come home, but otherwise, you do what you’dlike to do. Oh, and I picked up a couple of movies you might enjoy…they’re on the dvd player. Relax, you deserve it, sweetie!”

Have any of you ever received such a gift? I have not, and for most women it’s not likely to happen. Not sure why, except that many guys don’t really wantto host a whole day of the kids, and make your breakfast….so the first morning I spoke of , is the one that usually happens. Here’s your “breakfast”, here are your gifts, ok, now it’s business as usual. What’s for dinner, honey?

Now don’t get me wrong…there’s something beautifully sweet about the terrible breakfast served by anxious little hands….there is. And I’ve had quite a few. But every once in a while, maybe something different would be in order, something kinda decadent, so that when everyone returns from their big day with Daddy…you’re really glad to see them.  Now that both my kids are out of the house, I get plenty of alone time, so when one of them comes home for Momma’s Day (and one of them is), it’s a treat. And I won’t get breakfast in bed…but we will eat brunch at home….then my son and the lovely Jennifer will drive back to New York, and we will attend the funeral of a wonderful and much-missed neighbor that afternoon. just a reminder how quickly life goes by…and to enjoy it, whether you get burnt toast or not. Happy Momma’s Day all you  mommas out there!