Archive for January, 2011

What I’m Using Right Now….Donna’s top 5 favs of the moment…
January 31, 2011

I’ll be honest I like to mix it up a little, so if you were to ask me what I’m using next month, this list might be different, but right now these are the top five things I use almost every day. Here we go….

This is a great cleanser...very thorough...

First off…3 Lab Perfect Cleansing Foam….I first tried this through Beauty Fix….which I told you about in a previous post-here. I like a cleanser that leaves my face feeling really clean….not kinda clean. And this one does. Plus it lasts a long time. It’s $40 for the tube(not sure I would have paid that but it came in my Beauty Fix shipment).

A little touch of Canyon Ranch, without the travel...

NextCanyon Ranch Balance Moisturizer…from the “chi-chi” destination spa of the same name…. this is great lightweight moisturizer that doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy. No petroleum, no mineral oil.  It’s another Beauty Fix get…and it, like the 3 Lab cleanser above, were full size products, not samples. At someplace like Nordie’’s $75….again, it lasts a long time.

Moroccan love love it...

This is a longtime favorite….almost everyone I know here at WBAL-TV uses Moroccan Oil on their hair….no matter your race, age or hair texture…we love it. They now have a whole product line, which I’ve never tried…but their first baby…the oil… is the bomb. And a tiny couple of  drops of the $35 bottle goes a long way, depending on how long and how dry your hair is. I use it every time I shampoo.

Organic Coconut can even cook with it!

NextSpectrum Organic Coconut Oil, which I get at Whole Foods. I know, I know…so much oil to grease the machine, right? But there it is. While I could put this on my hair(never tried it) and could cook with it(ditto)…it is a terrific body moisturizer. You have to keep it somewhere kinda warm in the winter months, or it gets hard and not as easy to put on. I learned about this from Gwyneth Paltrow, who also uses coconut oil. And I love the slight coconut scent…though you won’t smell like Hawaiian Tropic, promise. Inexpensive too…maybe 7 or 8 bucks for a tub.

Simply a lovely bubble bath....

And if you’re like me, you appreciate a bath. Sure, I shower when I wash my hair, but other than that…I’m with Oprah…I am a bath girl. And Archipelago Botanicals makes a wonderful soft-scented bubble bath that’s part of their “milk line”. I pout just a capful in to make bubbles and help keep a ring off the tub. I’ve had it for months….it’s about $25 a bottle(large bottle). I love it.

Where were you ten years ago today???
January 28, 2011


Assistant News Director Tim Tunison asked me that today…I just stared hi blankly, and said, ..”Ten years ago…today? I dunno…why?” He replied, “You were at the Superbowl!”  Oh yeah…and what a fantastic weekend that was….before the game Gerry Sandusky and I hosted an hour-long special from a freezing Tampa(isn’t Tampa supposed to be warm in the winter? It was not…)

I still have my ticket ..but lost my Superbowl Ring 🙂

But the Superbowl was a total, all out blast. Flyovers by Stealth Bombers, fireworks like you would not believe….

Britney was there too…..

An unbelieveable half time show that featured Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and N’Sync,  Nelly, and Mary J Blige doing “Walk this Way“-here’s a link to that show on YouTube.-(funny part where Mary J is NOT gonna share her mic with Stephen Tyler-get your own buddy)..and some pretty darn amazing football, back when Trent Dilfer was Baltimore’s hero, and so was Coach Brian Billick. The Ravens defense seemed to anticipate every play the Giants ran.

And here’s my little gift to you….if you want to relive some really terrific highlights from that game, with lots of sideline comments(some pretty spicy) from both coaches, go to Hulu-here. It’s total fun to watch….and we have a story looking back at that game tonight on 11 News at Five…hope you check it out! Have a great weekend, be kind, play nice and for Pete’s sake, come safe…’cause we miss you.

One Hellish Commute…and other tales of winter
January 27, 2011

I looked at this for a looooooooong time...

I had the pleasure of staring at this big SUV  stretched across the road oh…for a good 30 minutes or so…I’ve never felt so grateful for my Blackberry. The bus to the right of the suv had decided it wasn’t going anywhere, and on the left, a young women in heels and a short skirt had slid her car into the curb and she wasn’t going anywhere…so the guy decided to turn around and head UP the hill. Ummmm, no ….you’re not. Bad idea.

a wreath on my back porch this morning...

It was without doubt(and for those of you who were stuck in the worst of it around 6:30 to 7:30..ok, 8:30)the most harrowing and frightening drive home I’ve ever had. Ever. The snow was whipping down sideways, so that my right front and rear car windows were completely snowclogged. And there were moments that I really didn’t think I was gonna make it home, and wondered what happens to all the people stuck in their cars. I filled the car with gas that morning, so that wasn’t a worry. But just when I finally got within a mile of home, I knew I’d get there even if I had to ditch the car and hike it…or claw my way. And I did ditch the car, but it was at least on the side of the road in my neighborhood, not blocking any traffic. My heroic husband went back at midnight and dug it out after the plows had come through, and drove it home, bless him. So all’s well that end well right?

Here are a couple of pics you might enjoy…..first 11 Sports Director and voice of the Ravens Gerry Sandusky forgot his snow boots…whaah??

Deep south snow boots...

And this is what he came up with(right before he cleaned off my car at 6:30-thanks G). I told him that was what we always used when I was a little girl. We didn’t have snow boots in ‘bama, because we really didn’t need them. So on the rare occasion we got measurable snow, my Momma would just wrap plastic freezer bags that usually contained that summer’s lima beans, around our feet. Hey, it worked, kinda. 

A harbinger of spring...pussywillow!

And I thought you’d enjoy a little glimpse of spring. I found this little weeping(not crying) pussywillow tree at Trader Joes..and I thought it was the best $12.99 I’d spent in a a long time. Things will warm up…right? Right???????

Remains of the Pork Belly….and other miscellaneous things….
January 25, 2011


OK, Paul wanted to know what happened this past weekend…”What happened to the pork belly?? I read you were going to get some and I was wishing I had a source closer than Catonsville. Just hoping to satisfy my pork belly craving vicariously.” good does this look?

Well Paul, I won’t lie… it was a pretty good dish, and as one chef said about pork belly “You could probably roll it in dirt and it would still sell“, but my dish  could have been better.   I couldn’t find pork shoulder(for pork two ways) and ended up getting some pork butt instead to accompany the belly. And you know , I wished it had all been belly(pork one way)…the butt pieces were just a tad dry….not as luscious as the belly. I wish I had a good source for you other than H-Mart(what they now call it) in Catonsville…but that’s the only place that I know of that sells it. Why is that? The recipe to the picture above is here….

Love the bivalves...

My Eastern Shore friends brought over some fabulous oysters…which we(the royal we-meaning he worked and we ate) shucked and ate with some saltines and sauce…so salty and plump….I haven’t had any on the half shell since I was in New Orleans last year. Delish.

This cream is only $13.50...gotta love that...

Lisa had a question: “Hi Donna – love the blog, read it all the time! Actually my response (question!) has nothing to do with pork. I watch 11 news at 5 and have always noticed how great your skin looks. Just wondering what your skin care routine is and what products you use. I am 55 and although my skin is in pretty good shape it could certainly stand some improvement. Guess we are all in search of that ever elusive “magic bullet”.”

Oh Lisa, first of all, thanks. And isn’t that the truth..the old search for a magic bullet..a better question is, what DON’T I use on my skin. Seriously, I kind of have the kitchen sink approach(throw everything at it and something will stick). I intermittently use a couple of creams from Swanson Vitamins( the Niacin cream and the Derma E Alpha-Lipoic acid cream…not expensive and good).

This cream is $150...let's say I use it sparingly....

 I also use Cold Plasma by Nicholas Perricone….NOT inexpensive but I like it a lot(great for the neck)…and my mainstay…Retin A. Honestly there isn’t a woman over 40(or very few) who should not be using Retin A according to my dermatologist. It is the bomb.  I really think it makes a big diff in skin quality. Add to that wearing sunscreen(and have for a long time) and hats when I’m in the sun, eating right( eating lots of salmon makes a difference in your skin-I eat some almost every day), getting enough sleep, and I take a boatload of vitamins….if anyone is interested(which I doubt), I’ll be happy to share what I take. Enough.

Why won't you make ice for me????

Oh let’s see…a Samsung refrigerator repairman was out this morning, as my brand new shiny stainless steel French door frig…isn’t making ice! Soooooo, he checked this and that, and then a little more this and that…but guess what the final fix involved? That’s right…a trusty hairdryer that he keeps in his truck(photogs here at WBAL also keep one to defrost and defog cameras going from cold to warm). And, after a few minutes of heating up the innerds of my ice maker, out plopped a 6 inch icicle from the line which had stopped up the works. Now the big question is…..will it continue to get clogged with ice, and why did it do so in the first place? Hmmmmm? To be continued…


Pork Two Ways….and Culinary Sins…
January 21, 2011

Why do people leave these all over the newsroom????? WHY?

I know it’s Restaurant Week in Baltimore-check it out here…great deals at wonderful dining establishments( and trust me I’ll be checking them out next week), so it feels it a little Grinch-like to be eating at home this weekend. And it doubly shaming, after admitting in a post yesterday on Facebook, about my crumbling Nacho Cheese Doritos on top of  my healthy salmon lunch…that amused people(one person commented “Take heart, this is but a minor gastronomical infraction–a culinary misdemeanor rather than a felony.”  Funny….if co-workers would just stop bringing them into the newsroom! They’re so addicting. I had one and…you know.

But we have some friends coming over this weekend from the Eastern Shore to pick up Maryland honey that I bought for them at the Farmer’s Market this summer….(we got together one night at a restaurant and who forgot to bring the honey? you guessed it…). She says local honey got rid of her allergies, believe it or not.

Pork under-appreciated cut...

So I feel like I owe them some good  grub…and we’re eating in. I think I will do Pork Two Ways from  Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham…it’s a slow cooked pork shoulder and pork belly, with some turnips, carrots and onions thrown in for good measure(and maybe some bourbon, I can’t remember). But let me tell you it is fabulous eating.

Love love love beets and cheese in a salad!

I’ll roast some beets for a beet and blue cheese salad…made some orange marmalade vinaigrette this morning(it’s really good too)….maybe some risotto to snuggle alongside the pork and we’ll call it dinner. Yes?

On the meantime, I have to get a new ice scraper…I found my self using a WBAL baseball cap to scrape the snow off my windshield this morning, and a couple of weeks ago, I used a coat hanger. I know, I know. Anyway, have a lovely weekend, stay warm, do something nice for a friend, and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

So you say you could use a laugh….
January 20, 2011

Funny, ascerbic....ode to Baltimore

Then wow, do I have the show for you! Second City does Baltimore is now at Center Stage, and it is one of the cleverest, funniest, and most biting things I’ve seen in a while. You know Second City, right? It’s a comedy troupe from Chicago that has birthed some of the great comedians of our time…John Belushi, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey to name a few.

What do they do? Here’s how they put it…”The Second City has always served as a bit of a tonic for times of difficulty and upheaval. It’s our job to laugh at what scares us, to make the unfunny funny, and to provide audiences with a chance to let go for a couple hours and just laugh.”

And that’s exactly what I did. Crime, Ruxton, West Baltimore, Bob Irsay, the demise of the Sunpaper, mayors and governors..nothing is off limits….and some fabulous improv….all first rate. If you live in or around Baltimore…it’s a must see. It’s here through February 20th….if you miss it, you’re the loser.

Toffee Brownie time....

OK, brownie questions. Margie asked, “ I have followed up on so many things you write about on your blog.  I am dying to try the brownies but am having a hard time finding the Hershey’s Symphony bar.  Any suggestions on where I can find it.”

Yes Margie, I do. I picked mine up at the Superfresh on 41st Street. But here’s the thing…you may be looking in the baking chocolate section. No findee. Go to the candy bar aisle….I would think you can Symphony in any major grocery chain. 

And Trish asked about breaking them up. While you can, my friend just puts them on the batter whole. Whatever you like, and to give credit where credit is due, I know think my friend stole the recipe(borrowed it maybe?) from the Food Channel’s Paula Deen. Maybe it was the other way around, I don’t know. But Paula also makes these Toffee Brownies.  And they’re worth every calorie.

French style Sunday lunch…..
January 17, 2011

makes you want to stay at the table a long time...

It’s one of the great traditions in France…a long leisurely Sunday afternoon lunch….several courses(none of which are necessarily heavy), with a little wine or champagne. It’s one of my favorite ways to entertain these days, and a group of friends and I switch it around who will host a gathering once a month or so.

This past Sunday my friend Libby had the déjeuner du Dimanche( spelling?) at her house….two soups, bread and cheese, a salad course, berries and shortbread for dessert. When I commented that the sweet potato bisque looked fabulous, she said, “Well, it’s from your cookbook, so it’s all on you!”

Sweet potato bisque and some great bread....killer lunch

She had made sweet potato bisque-recipe here– from the Marquesa Inn in Key West(from when I used to host Great Country Inns for the Learning Channel). But what the recipe above doesn’t add, which mine does, is to sprinkle chopped smoked salmon on top when you serve it. The combination of the salty salmon with the sweet of the potato bisque is heaven. Really, really good.

A little cheese after the soup....

She followed it with a board of different cheeses, and a fresh green salad, and along with the bread…it’s a totally satisfying lunch….and you can spend a couple of hours eating, and talking about life with friends…you don’t get home late(just in time for a Sunday nap-hollah!). Also key…not too much work for the host.

Fudgy, toffee brownies...honey, pleeze...

                                         BEST BROWNIES EVER??

And while the berries and shortbread for dessert were perfect, another friend had brought some brownies she made….so easy, and  possibly the best I’ve ever eaten, with a toffee layer in the middle.

 Here’s how she did it.  Make a batch of Ghiradelli brownie mix batter as per the directions…put half the batter in a prepared 8 inch square baking pan.

Symphony Toffe-Almond Bars....

On top put 2 Hershey’s Symphony chocolate bars and plop the rest of the batter on top…cook as directed. Seriously, the toffee made these brownies so divine, I can’t wait to make a batch!!

Bananagrams..lightening rounds of Scrabble!

That evening, my daughter was over for dinner, and we played Bananagrams, which my son and the lovely Jennifer(who are Scrabble freaks and take no prisoners) gave us for Christmas. I think they are hoping that playing these super-quick games of Scrabble will encourage us to play more often, so that we will get better at it and when we do play with them….it won’t be so much of  massacre.

Her last game...but not her best....

But guess who was the big winner last night(no not me!)…my sweet daughter, the new blogger, rocked it. I won one game, the hubby won one, and she won the rest. Seriously, the girl is good…but then she did always test really high in spatial reasoning things….unlike her Mother. Ok, let me go do some real work….check you later!

It’s Almost Game Time…what to wear, what to cook???
January 14, 2011

Purple Friday indeed...rock on, my friend...

Ok, I was on my way from Prive’ Salon off Fort Avenue(after a much-needed trim) to WBAL-TV…and I ran across(not over) this guy on the corner at Harborplace….he was just too cute not to take the picture. And game time is almost here….I want you to know,  I have very little purple in my wardrobe, and what I do have, has been worn ad nauseum…

Something borrowed, something new.....

I saw this cute purple felt pin on Joyce’s coat here in the newsroom. I stopped dead in my tracks and begged to borrow it. She kindly relented, and so you may see it on the air tonight.

Are the stones purple...or pink? Hmmmm?

 I wore this necklace today, in hopes that it looked some distant relative of purple…Joyce assured me it was really pink. Hmmmmm.Well, one of them will be on top of my Flacco Blacko (and yes that is a Raven’s color even tho I made it up)sweater tonight….I think both would be too much, yes?

Short ribs...they'll look better after they're cooked.....

And what are you preparing for the game? Short ribs? Chili? Pork Belly(more on cooking pork belly here)? Oh, and does anyone have a great recipe for Meyer Lemons? (I think I’ve decided on lemon curd-a big fave and so easy-here) My sister brought me several BIG ones fresh off a lemon tree in Gulf Shores, that I flew home( I flew tamales down to ‘ husband always thinks it’s hilarious that I “fly food all over the country” like there won’t be any where I’m going…who knows maybe there won’t be one day and he’ll be sorry.) At any rate, I’d be up for a good lemony recipe….At my house, short ribs sound too fabulous not to have…I really love them this time of year with a nice bottle of hearty red wine……ok, now I’m getting hungry.

Have a great weekend everyone…play nice no matter who wins, don’t throw rocks and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Home from ‘bama…poorer but happy….
January 12, 2011

Parking lot lost and found......

We were a little uncertain about getting out of  Birmingham yesterday…but the ice and snow that paralyzed Atlanta(and canceled by bro-in-law’s flight to Boston) was not nearly as horrifying in Bham….so I was able to fly out pretty much on time, on a nonstop Southwest flight(God bless them) from there to Baltimore.

I was a few miles down the road from my sister’s house on the way to the airport when she called and said, “You left your coat and gloves!”(I still don’t know how I did this)…and since I really did want them/need them, we whipped around and hot-footed it back to meet her at a gas station in between. But when we all got there, she had dropped the gloves somewhere, in the mad dash for the car….so my other sister calls and says, “I have the gloves and I’m on my way!” Her husband said dryly, “It runs in the in the family“…..Thanks George. But we had such a good time together.

Cook that duck....

And I was not kidding about having duck for dinner…..though we also had Fat Mama’s tamales and roast pork tenderloin. (See the hoodie on Jan on the right? One day a man in line in front of her admired it and asked, “Is that vintage or just old?”…hilarious. Is there a difference?)

It wasn't all meat...

 As you can see vegetables and fruit did at least make a token appearance. And to keep it interesting(as if we needed that)…we had a little something  on the game. Everybody put in 20 bucks…and we each got a certain number of squares in which we put our initials.

Here's my $20....I'm in....

And every time the score changed…. the initials  in the square that coincided with the last numbers in the score, won 5 bucks. I managed to get back 15 of  my $20….but my sister Audrey’s husband got most of it.( thanks again George). We all thought about how much Mom would have loved the fact that we were all together, AND that Auburn was in a national championship game….she was a big fan of both. I just wanted to share a little of the fun with you…..happy Wednesday everyone!

Football and Ice…..I flew all the way south, for this????
January 10, 2011

Covered in a sheet of ice.......note the license plate-war eagle!

Ok, here’s the thing…a while back(when it was determined that the Auburn Tigers would be in the national championship game)that we all get together to watch it. You know, it’s fun to watch a big game in the company of people who understand the significance of the event.

And while we knew there was a little weather headed to ‘bama…ummm…we didn’t quite understand the signifcance of the event.  Yeah. So we are all iced in at my sister’s house, just hoping we can get our flight out tomorrow, and thought it would be ironic(among other things) if I had come to the only place in the country I couldn’t see the game if the power went out! Right now we are watching pictures from the Birmingham airport where lots of disappointed would be fliers are sleeping on the floor. At least I have a bed.(My sister Jan just walked by and said, “Tell everybody hey!”

Now you stick that where, and then do what??

This morning she and her husband Jack were struggling to light their little used fireplace….it is ‘bama after all…which gives off a nice warmth. He said something like, ” This is the reason we had a $320 gas bill a few years ago.” But to his credit he got it going.

Wait, that's a lemon?

I will tell you we are eating well…too well….pork tenderloin for dinner last night with sweet potatoes roasted with Granny Smith apples...that was an inspired combo.

We definitely need more baked goods....

And the pic above is of one of a bunch of lemons my other sister Audrey hauled up from Gulf Shores along with a cooler full of other food…they grew on Ft. Morgan road and they ripen this time of year. I’ve never seen any lemon so….. large…so orange-like…it’s bigger than a baseball.

Garden gates on the ceiling...who woulda thunk it?

I did get out to an interesting restaurant, before the ice man cometh, called the Urban Standard. Very warehousy, artsy….great food(pork hash that was fab)…..and they have these rusted garden gates hung on the ceiling…love it. Oh, red velvet cupcakes to die for, with a touch of almond in the icing.

Tommy the dog in Auburn paraphanalia.....

But of course the big event is tonight…the Cam Newton show. Will the Auburn Tigers defeat the  Oregon Ducks? Well, I’m afraid they will, with apologies to you Oregon fans…I am truly sorry for what will happen to your team tonight. And we’re having duck for dinner!! Quack.