Archive for January, 2009

Can hot tameles melt the ice??
January 30, 2009

This shining sea of ice is my front walkway...yeah...

This shining sea of ice is my front walkway...yeah...

This is what I am currently traversing when I leave my house to go to the car….or vice versa. A sea of thick, impenetrable ice. Sure, we’ve thought of trying to break it up, but nothing tried so far has made a dent….and cracking the bricks underneath isn’t the desired effect, so I’m just waiting for it to….melt.  In the meantime, you need grappling hooks and climbing ropes to make it down and back.  Cute.

I got tamales!!!!

I got tamales!!!!

And I was especially concerned this morning, because today is the day my tamale survival kit was supposed to arrive. Ever eaten good tamales? I didn’t grow up eating tamales….my only exposure as a child was a rather tall clear jar of them that sat on my mother’s pantry shelves. I have no memory of anyone ever eating the tamales. They just sat there. But as an adult, I love the cornmealy goodness of a tamale wrapped in its cozy little cornmeal husk….even tried making them from scratch one time. They were pretty good, but a lot of work. Seriously, not an undertaking for the faint of heart of those low on counter space, as you’ll see from this hot tamale recipe that says it is best done as two day process.. Then, I stumbled on Texas Tamales…..they’re lard free, come in chicken, pork, beef, spinach and bean…and are shipped up in two days to your door. Order Wednesday…Friday you have gourmet, delicious tamales. And today was the day mine were to arrive, via UPS. Hmmmm..there is NO WAY Mr. UPS is gonna try to make it up my walk(really why would he?)….meaning he’ll probably put the box back in the truck and drive off with my tamales, meaning there will be no tamales for the Superbowl. Yes, we have no tamales today…..So sad.

But today, fortune smiled my way. As I clawed and slid my way down to my bottom steps…where a rail stands, beaming like a sturdy ray of stability just inches away now….who should pull up but……the UPS truck. Such good luck. He agreed that he would never have tried to get up my little version of Alpine ice.  After all, he does want to be working tomorrow, not in the hospital with a broken leg…so I get it. But my little tamales are in their little styrofoam box…all frozen and just waiting to be steamed, sending that yummy smell of the southwest tamale stand into the air. Make a little guacamole…a little salsa…maybe a salad…cold beer…that’s a Tamale Superbowl, baby. But will it melt the ice…..doubtful.

Oh, and since it is too late to get tamales from Texas Tamales in time for the Superbowl(sorry I didn’t tell you earlier)….you might consider Trader Joe’s frozen tamales….not as good as TT, but plenty tasty, all wrapped in their cornmeal husks, ready for steaming for a tamale Superbowl party!!

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The Sky is Falling!!!!
January 29, 2009

 

I took this picture peeking around the corner....

I took this picture peeking around the corner....

You might think this post is about the economy, and it could be…but it’s not. When I say the sky is falling today, I’m being much more literal. When folks at WBAL-TV came to work yesterday and today, we were instructed not to park in the station parking lot…..Why? Because a big chunk of ice might fall from the tv tower above, and 1. Crush your car. 2.(much worse)Crush your head. Now the head crushing has never happened, though it’s been close…vehicles have fared much worse over the years.

So yesterday as ice began falling from the sky, our news director Michelle was actually driving people herself  to and from a more distant parking lot….as she said, you never know what the job is gonna call for. But  by today they had a professional driver from On Trak Transportation LLC   ferrying us back and forth to Cross Keys(update: Ok this guy is also very handsome..I didn’t mention it before because I didn’t want too seem  like a stalker, but as a couple other women at the station brought it up, it’s now fair game-he is cute.)….Somehow we got on the subject of limos…and he said, “Now you guys are talking my language“. And he may have a customer…one lovely WBAL employee is planning her wedding and is pricing limo service. Bingo! So I pass the info along to you, as he was very nice, a great driver and has a kid in college and one who’s three and six others in between…..talk about a busy man.

I took a chance today at lunchtime…grabbed the ride back to Cross Keys…and brought my car back to the station. I’m just hoping the worst of the ice situation has passed. If not, I’ll show you a picture of my smashed windshield tomorrow!

Gumbo Snobs unite….
January 27, 2009

On a cold snowy day like today, my thoughts often turn to gumbo. And I am admitted gumbo snob….having eaten it in many restaurants in New Orleans..the best I’ve ever had was in a pretty little local NOLA place called The Bistro, at The Maison DeVille Hotel which heartbreakingly, closed on December 1st. Their website didn’t say why…but The Bistro soldiers on under the excellant guidance of Chef Greg Picolo. His gumbo one day at lunch was dark, complex, utterly utterly delicious. The gumbo I recently ordered from The Gumbo Shop was good, quite good really, but not great..nowhere near The Bistro’s. Not dark enough, and wildly underseasoned. Perhaps that’s so people who don’t like spicy things can enjoy this gumbo, but then, it’s not really gumbo is it? Once I added some tobasco and salt, and sauteed a little extra kielbasa and red pepper to sprinkle on the top….we  enjoyed it. But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth 50 bucks, which is what it costs to overnight mail order a half gallon of gumbo. But hey, I’m not the only gumbo snob in town…I got this from Paul…
Donna, I have been making Gumbo for many years, having learned it from one of the best I have tasted even in NOLA. I have found that three ingredients are critical in achieving a real gumbo flavor. They are the ham(absolutely must be true Tasso ham) a really good Andouille sausage (NOT kielbasa as many recipes suggest as an alternate) and the roux. The ham and sausage can be found online or in a really good grocery, the roux however takes time but I have a fool proof trick. Start the roux on the stove top(with vegetable oil or lard). Use 1/3 more oil than flour and stir carefully. Once this is all hot and bubbly transfer it to your oven at 300 or 350 and check and stir every 30 minuets or so until it is dark brown and smells like popcorn. This way you can do other things and you don’t have to worry about it burning on the bottom. When its done it will settle and the extra oil can be poured off the top. Le bon temps roullet!”
Hmmmm…interesting. Now I feel bad for using Kielbasa. And for those of you who may not know…that last phrase is ubiquitous with NOLA and means, “let the good times roll”…..and I love the idea of not having to stir the roux FOR WHAT REALLY SEEMS LIKE FOR-EV-ER. And I’d love to find a place here in Baltimore that has great gumbo…not the Velveeta of gumbos…really good gumbo. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. It probably does, but I don’t know where it is. You?

 

 

Back from ‘bama….tales of junk and romance….
January 26, 2009

See anything you want??

See anything you want??

I’m not gonna lie….it was 3 and half days of  somewhat grueling labor, physically and emotionally…moving my Mom to a single room in  “assisted living”. That said…it needed to be done…. my sisters were there to help and make it fun, we had a lot of laughs and a few tears, and bottom line, Momma is now where she needs to be.  Some of the larger pieces of furniture went into storage, temporarily, we promise ourselves, a few she’s using, and lots of others we gave away. But all the bric-a-brac, china, pots and pans, drawers full of old watches, thousands of pens, check stubs from 1995, old magazines, just …..the flotsam and jetsam of life….arrrrgh!!! Thursday night was the worst…my sister Jan and I standing in the apartment after getting Mom settled in her place, surrounded by mountains of stuff. Where to even begin….overwhelming.

Drawers full of keys to nothing, old watches, matches.....

Drawers full of keys, old watches, matches.....

 But we just started separating it..definite keeps, maybe keeps, and definite giveaway or Goodwill, and definite trash. And little by little by little, it all got done. I flew home mid day yesterday, and my sisters finished the rest of it yesterday…called last night giddy with relief, saying “It was the last load…we gave the keys back and it’s finished!”  It was so hard, truly it made me think about all the stuff in my house. If we were to die suddenly, I seriously don’t know what my kids would do….probably throw up their hands in disgust and walk away, or set a match to it all. Just kidding, but do you know what I mean?  It makes you think. At one point, My sister yelled over the phone to my husband, “There’s a lot of junk headed your way!!” She was laughing but she wasn’t kidding.

But, good news of romance blossoming ‘bama. My dear Father-in-law, who lost his wife(and the best Mother-in-law ever) several years ago, seems to have found love again, at the age of 80! I went out for lunch with him and his new sweetheart…he actually called her that…it was kinda odd, but lovely. And I do take a little ownership in this new relationship….he and I have talked about him one day, meeting someone he liked…even if it was just someone to go to dinner with or see a movie…companionship, you know. Anything else is just gravy. He told me about this woman who was taller than him, but they had spent time together as seat mates on a a church bus trip. And he wanted to see her but was unsure how to proceed. I advised him(advice for the lovelorn) to just casually ask if she wanted to meet at a restaurant for lunch one day…not a big date with a pickup…just lunch. And then meet for a movie one day. Very casual. And that was something he thought he could handle. And look where we are. He told me privately, “I think I’m falling in love..” with real wonder in his voice. And she told me, “I can’t believe out of all the women in the church, he picked me!” Isn’t it lovely to think that even at 80, life can hold surprises..good surprises…for us. Gives one hope for the future, doesn’t it?

A changing of the guard…..in more ways than one…
January 21, 2009

It was fascinating watching the presidential changeover yesterday…George and Laura Bush, going through the motions of leaving Washington behind as President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle moved in(and may I just say how gorgeous Mrs. Obama looked yesterday?). I would guess there is relief, dread, uncertainty about the future and what life will be like…some regret, on both sides. You’d love to know what’s going through all their minds. But it reminded me of another changing of the guard that I will take part in this weekend.

Tomorrow I fly to Birmingham, to help my sisters move my Mom into assisted living, at the retirement community where she has lived for some years. She has been pretty independent, though just barely  able to live on her own for some time. A hospital stay just after the holidays really knocked the props out from under her, as she would say, and it was clear that returning to her apartment, where she struggled to do even the simplest of tasks, while possible, was certainly not wise.
So this weekend, we will move her from the nursing home where she has been getting “rehabilitation”…I use that word loosely…her care has not been the greatest and she has been up in arms, more than once over something that was said to her or how she was treated. Being sharp of mind, nothing escaped her and she cannot wait to leave tomorrow.

And I hope she will be happy in her new place….but no place is perfect. Learned that a long time ago.  We’ll be going through loads of stuff…she has more clothes than any 88 year old woman has a right to…she has always been and still is, very interested in how she looks(the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), but with a much smaller closet, some of it has to go. And furniture…storage? Giveaway to grandchildren? Goodwill? Trash? Some of each, I’m sure. Pictures? No need for all the kitchen stuff. The further downsizing of a life that has already been downsized from a lovely 3 bedroom house, to a 2 bedroom apartment, to a one bedroom apartment, to now…a one room apartment. She has lost many possessions and a beloved husband along the way.

But she doesn’t seem to mind moving , and in fact is looking forward, I think, to being in a place that is smaller, where she will have more help, but things have to be done on their schedule, not hers. You know how it is.  So as I wish the best of luck to George and Laura Bush on their new life ahead, and to the Obama’s and their exciting new life ahead, wish me a little luck too, as we sort through things, both touchable and intangible. Life moves on, doesn’t it?

What a day…what a day…
January 20, 2009

Are you watching with me right now? Barack Obama just became the 44th President of the United States. What a day my friends, what a day. The sight of all those flags waving on the mall, the beautiful music of composer John Williams and Aretha Franklin….just put a lump in my throat. A good one. OK, got to listen to the speech right now…..more later.

Comment:from 2twentythree3:
this speech is unbelievable, good for him, it’s what we have ALL been waiting to hear……GO Obama!”
Update: I have to say, today Barack Obama remembered who he is. Not that he has ever forgotten, but here’s what I mean. When my kids were growing up, every time they would leave the house, I would say to them….”remember who you are”. By that I meant don’t disgrace yourself or your family. Behave yourself. Play nice. Do what you’re supposed to do. Remember who you are.
And today it was crystal clear that Barack Obama was telling Americans…remember who you are. Be kind to others. Care for the dreams of others, not just your own. Have the courage of your convictions. Be ready to work hard. Be kind. Live your values. Help those who have less than you. Remember who you are. It is a message that will hopefully resonate with all of us as we begin rebuilding this country and embark on a new political era. Let’s remember who we are.

UPDATE TWO: My partner Stan Stovall got choked up tonight on the 6 PM News…explaining what the inauguration of President Barack Obama meant to him…that he never thought he would see this day in his lifetime. That was from the heart, and let me tell you, it’s not a good feeling when you get choked up on the air (I know)….but he simply was taken by the emotion that has been felt by so many today. It was real, and I like that.

Twilight Fever spreads through the newsroom….
January 19, 2009

 

Three down, only one to go.....

Three down, only one to go.....

As I previously mentioned, I have been a bit embarrassed to admit that I have been reading the Twilight book series by Stephanie Meyer…..but I’ve had others to admit they are similarly addicted….like Amber who wrote this: 

 Thank goodness, I am not the only one. My niece received these for Christmas and thinking nothing really of it I told her after she was done with the first to let me borrow it to read. I have always been a little bit of a vampire type person, meaning I like vampire stories but reading a 500+ page book DEFINITELY not a desire I could relate to. I started reading book one around Jan 3rd it was done by Jan 6ththen my niece wasn’t finished with New Moon and I could not wait so I bought the next 3 without even thinking twice. I couldn’t put the book down besides yes the normal desire to throw the book across the room when Edward left and a couple times in Jacob’s perspective in Breaking Dawn. I was a little embarrassed  with my infatuation with the series since it is a “young adult” novel. Wonderful work now I can not wait for more to come and waiting for the movies is like waiting for Edward to come back horrible and painful.”

 Yes, Amber, I know the pain of which you speak. And just so you know…this is not just a female phenomenon. A man with whom I work, has privately admitted his own little Twilight monkey on his back. He actually blames his wife…she had bought the book and horrors, shamelessly left it lying around, where he might pick it up. He did, and in his words,”There I was 150 pages later….” He, like me, has now finished the first three books…only Breaking Dawn remains. And he agrees with me that Bella is a tad irritating…seriously, if that girl’s heart doesn’t stop skipping beats and thumping wildly in her chest, I’m taking her personally to a cardiologist. But I digress. This guy’s  shame is complete at liking these books, thus asked that his name and job not be revealed. And there were some veiled threats about cold water, and  no more “caring and sharing” sessions, where we reveal our most appalling secrets to each other. This is one of his.  Yes, there will be those of you who tryto uncover his identity, but to no avail. It’s in the vault. Lockbox. And other Twilight confessions will be accepted here….and it might make you feel better, getting it off your chest, like getting that monkey off your back.

What are YOU cooking for the Ravens-Steelers Championship????Hmmmm?
January 16, 2009

Mmmmmmm....New Orleans gumbo!!

Mmmmmmm....New Orleans gumbo!!

I can’t decide really. A big game like that needs something warm(in this kind of cold weather), comforting, yet something to stimulate the taste buds. Something kinda soupy, but not soup.  Gumbo? Can be complicated to prepare, but can be done in advance, and reheated. If  you have the time to do that…”in advance”. For me that would mean staying up late Friday night. No likee, and I have a house warming to go to tonight. Maybe chili? Again, advance time needed, preferably, though it’s less finicky than gumbo.

 

But wait!!! I have found that I can order gumbo by mail. Is that cheating?  I found a place called The Gumbo Shop...  It’s an actual restaurant in New Orleans on St. Peter Street….and regularly gets voted as having the best gumbo in NOLA. Not bad. I was ordering some for Kerry Cavanaugh’s husband, who is a Louisiana boy, in thanks for the cell phone save….and thought…why not get some for me too?

If you have some time on your hands this weekend…I found what looks like a great gumbo recipe, and making it will fill up those empty hours with the making of the homemade stock(start by killing a chicken…just kidding) and and roux…that classic gumbo mix of fhour and oil, stirred…stirred…sitrred…stirred…until it at last turns golden brown!! Let me know if you try it…and just how hard it is.  Me? I’ll be savoring my Gumbo Shop gumbo…all I have to do is make the rice.

How to find your lost cell phone…..guaranteed….
January 14, 2009

Proof my camera works...

Proof my camera works...

You know I have been cell phone free for a week…until yesterday. The lovely Kerry Cavanaugh brought me her husband’s Verizon Razor phone…he has switched to a Blackberry. Last night My daughter and I took it to Verizon, and after a little difficulty, the guy helping us was able to delete all the numbers inside(wish I had kept the one to the famous  Antoine’s restaurant….Kerry’s man is from Louisiana!), but it was all or nothing. Whish…gone. He then downloaded all my recently computer-backed phone numbers(thanks to my prescient daughter…look it up), and I was good to go. I’m even due for a phone upgrade in June, which will be here in no time. And we all joked about how as soon as this was all done, we’d find the lost LG. Ha-ha-ha…..

So, off  I go to work this morning, cell phone happily in hand….fully able to receive and send calls to whomever I want!!  Like it. And then an unfamiliar ring….(my ringer sounds like a doorbell…need to change that), and my girl, who was getting ready to sail back to school, said at the other end, “Guess what I found in the pocket of your black Ralph Lauren coat??” (Trying on my clothes again…)

No it wasn’t!!”, I say…”Yes Mom, it was…”  And there you have it. The sad little secret to locating a lost cellie…get a new one. Or even a used new one seems to be an effective lost cell magnet.  At least the Razor one has a camera that works, so it’s all good. It’s all good.

I’m a Blockbuster Trivia Question??
January 12, 2009

Someone sent me the following link ….http://www.blockbuster.com/movies/donna-hamilton.html….and I had to laugh….because seriously, if you had asked me personally what was the role I played in the movie Philadelphia, I would have told you, I played a reporter. Why the reporter was given a name, I have no idea….I won’t tell you the name in case you want to take the trivia quiz about my so-called “movie roles”. Oddly enough, I saw that scene that was shot outside the courthouse in Philadelphia, with Tom Hanks and Denzell Washington, over the holidays…. on some movie channel. I always find my hair in the scene wildly amusing, as it had been teased to BIG HAIR by the hairdresser that day, after he was called on the carpet for putting it up, by director Jonathan Demme. “Where’s her hair? I want her to have lots of hair!!” Boom….it was down and done.

Oh, and for those of you who have written in sympathy regarding the disappearance of my cell phone?  I will soon be rescued. Reporter Kerry  Cavanaugh’s husband just switched to a Blackberry, thus, his old Verizon Razor phone isn’t being used, so bingo, tomorrow I’m activating that baby, and in June I’ll be eligible for an upgrade! I’d be eligible now, except that I gave my daughter my upgrade, back in December, in a fit of generosity. When we switched to Verizon, she chose the most ridiculous phone in the world…the “Juke”….because it was so tiny. Yes, so tiny that it was hard to text or look at a picture, or really do much of anything. Live and learn, live and learn. And my LG cellie isn’t being used by anyone…it is sitting somewhere, wondering why Mommy has abandoned it….where are you? Of course, as soon as I get a new one, my LG will pop up, with a lopsided grin on its face….ha-ha..fooled you!!