Saturday, January 30, 2010

Super Bowl ad rejected

So, CBS rejected a commercial pitch by ManCrunch, a gay male dating web site, as a potential spot for the Super Bowl. CBS's statement reads as follows:

After reviewing the ad - which is entirely commercial in nature - our Standards and Practices department decided not to accept this particular spot. As always, we are open to working with the client on alternative submissions.

ManCrunch thinks that among all of the other racy stuff they air (erectile dysfunction ads, etc.) this should be a piece of cake. They feel they're being unjustly discriminated against. CBS thinks that Mancrunch is pitching an ad that will obviously be rejected just for the free publicity.

Obviously, I'm all for airing the commercial and I land squarely on the side of ManCrunch. But I do think there's a little truth to both of the above viewpoints. I'm all for them getting some free publicity, so it seems to work out in the end even if they don't get their Super Bowl space.

My main point is it's a pretty fun ad. Check it out.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Valentine's Day

39/365 Dec 22 2008

For the past few years George and I have stayed in and cooked on Valentine's Day, so we might mix it up and go out to eat. You know, so we do something different for a change. Um. 'Cuz we never go out to eat.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's National Pie Day!

What a fun holiday to celebrate!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


french press

A new Dunkin' Donuts opened up today in Germantown. It makes me think about how we can be so loyal to things we grew up eating or just things we got used to because they're locally available. For example, I think McDonald's hamburgers are heaven. Would I think that if I hadn't grown up eating them and been pulverized by their massive advertising campaigns? I'm not sure, because I can't imagine not loving them. Intellectually, I understand that they're full of nasty non-beef filler. I hate pickles, and they always come with two. Stick two of them in front of me, though, and you'd better clear your hands out of the way before you lose one.

The same argument can be made of coffee. Until recently, I never noticed Dunkin' Donuts in the South; growing up, the only thing I knew about them were their funny commercials. I know a ton of East Coast transplants that live and die by this coffee. When they went home to visit (before it became local), they took an extra suitcase to stock up. It was shipped in bulk to their homes. I honestly do not understand it because their coffee is...let's just say it's not my favorite. Although their doughnuts are awesome.

I was weaned on Starbucks and have since downshifted to Ugly Mug in a french press at home. Would I like Dunkin' Donuts coffee if I'd grown up in, say, Philadelphia? According to my McDonald's hamburger hypothesis: Likely.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Don't call it a comeback

Last week, I tried a crab soup recipe that ended in miserable failure. After that disaster, the crab officially became my nemesis. It was the Lord Voldemort to my Harry Potter. The Stu to my Lois. It had to go down.

And I did it with a little help from Saveur magazine.

Once a year Saveur publishes a special issue entitled The Saveur 100. Traditionally they invite only food writers to submit ideas for this issue, but last year they asked readers to toss in ideas for a 101st item. What came in was so great that Saveur dedicated this year's issue entirely to readers. They were polled on favorite food finds including recipes, web sites, ingredients, kitchen equipment and even culinary superstars. I'm getting a little off topic here, but a few of my favorites from the list are:

Farmhouse dinner at Talula's Table, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Pyrex glass measuring cups

What topped my list - and made the front cover of the issue - came in at number 16: crabs and spaghetti. Seems really odd yet alluring at the same time, right? Here's what Al Leo of Gonzales, Louisiana, says about the recipe he submitted:

When I was a kid, I couldn't wait for summer to come so that we could go crabbing in the bays near Wildwood, New Jersey, and my grandmother could make crabs and spaghetti. She did it the old southern Italian way, by frying blue crabs in olive oil with garlic and butter and putting them right into the tomato sauce to finish cooking. (You can also use king crab legs) It was pretty messy plucking the meat out of those crabs, but that sweet, delicious sauce was to die for.

After reading that, I knew this would be the recipe that would win me the crab battle. My first stop was Schnuck's to round up the everyday items (onion, garlic, etc.), but I made a special trip to The Fresh Market for the crab requirements: 1 lb. thawed frozen cooked king crab legs and 1 lb. lump crabmeat. Unfortunately, they didn't have king crab legs, but their snow crab legs were on sale for $4.99/lb., so I took my chances with that.

Serves 4

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. thawed frozen cooked king crab legs, cut into 3" pieces
1 tsp. celery seed
3/4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
8 leaves fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 28-oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
2 tbsp. half-and-half
1 lb. lump crabmeat
Kosher salt, to taste
1 lb. spaghetti

1. Heat oil in a 6-qt. pot over high heat. Add crab legs and cook, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer crab to a plate. Add celery seed, chile flakes, basil, onions, and garlic to pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 9 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender along with tomatoes and half-and-half and puree. Transfer puree back to pot over medium heat. Add reserved crab pieces and any juices from plate and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add lump crabmeat and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt, cover, and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring an 8-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to sauce; toss to combine. Serve garnished with torn basil. Crack crab leg pieces to get at the meat inside.

Snow crab legs from The Fresh Market
snow crab legs

snow crab legs

Here is last week's competition.
lump crabmeat

Onions, celery seed, garlic, basil, olive oil...basically the moment before going in the blender.
crabs and spaghetti

The above ingredients have now been pureed with tomatoes.
crabs and spaghetti

Yum! And no fishy taste.
lump crabmeat

Lump crabmeat tossed in with the tomato sauce.
crabs and spaghetti

Here is the final result. Success!
crabs and spaghetti

Green Pink Caviar

I've written a little about Marilyn Minter before but just about her photographs. Last year she made a video called Green Pink Caviar. The trailer for the full piece is shown below. Is it me, or is it only possible to watch this in a slack jawed and mildly catatonic manner?

Here's what she has to say about Green Pink Caviar:

In Green Pink Caviar Marilyn Minter continues her interest in blurring the boundaries between fine and commercial art. Co-opting advertising genres and related spaces, she takes on a new platform to direct her first video. The eight minute high definition video, Green Pink Caviar (2009) is a lush and sensual voyeuristic hallucination. Filmed with macro lenses, the video was inspired by a photo shoot where Minter directed her models to lick brightly colored candies while she shot photos from underneath a glass plate. The models' tongues mixed the colorful sugar with saliva, slurping and pushing color across the glass surface to simulate painting. Driven by her fascination with the body, Green Pink Caviar sets the stage for chance to happen.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bad ass mo pho

Y'all, there is a Vietnamese restaurant in Southaven, Mississippi.


Growing up there, I never would've guessed we'd eventually should I put flair? I am officially impressed.

pho vietnam_2

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crab panic

No, it's not what you think. I promise.

My husband has been out of town this week. In Miami. Eating fabulous seafood and getting massages. That, my friends, is my job. I am officially miffed.

I was feeling a little left out last night and decided to cook something and pretend for just a little bit that I was there. So, I whipped out my Low Fat and Fabulous cookbook (not off to a great start) and chose a crab soup recipe that sounded particularly simple and lovely. Off to the grocery store I went.

The Fresh Market felt too far away, so I took my chances at Schnuck's on Union (the Walgreens of grocery stores). Feeling a tad peckish, I chose the premium lump crab meat they made available to me rather than the imitation crab chunks I usually buy. Some chicken stock, an onion, and some evaporated skimmed milk later, I was in business. The cashier rang up four items that approximated a small fortune, and I handed over my debit card with a wicked smile.

Thirty minutes later, things were going fine and dandy with the soup stock until the time came to fold in the crab. I had not tasted the crab before dumping the entire pound into the pot. No. I tasted it immediately after. It was as if I decided to sample a rotten fish carcass pushed up to shore at Sardis Lake. Fishy business.

Here's what I've learned:
1. Perhaps imitation crab meat is OK for a first-time-tried soup recipe.
2. If I insist on using lump crab meat, do not go to Schnuck's.
3. If this ever happens again, do not panic. If I do panic, do not pour lemon juice into the soup in a mad attempt to neutralize the fishy flavor. This does not work.

The final product. Yeeeech.
Crab soup

The culprit.
Crab meat
Pristine soup stock. Can you ever forgive what I did to you?
Onion and chicken broth

Onions. We're going backwards in time here.
Onion and butter

No significance here: I used this to add 1/2 cup water. I just kind of like the picture.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tomato, mozzarella and basil salad

Last night I was hit by a thought, a mood, whatever: I must have tomato, mozzarella and basil salad. As if possessed, I grabbed my keys, ran to the local Schucks, and bought the prettiest tomatoes and freshest mozzarella I could find. They only have one type of fresh basil available, so I couldn't be choosy there.

Anyway, it was yummy. If you are hit by the same bug I was, make sure to drizzle it in extra virgin olive oil and douse it with a generous helping of black pepper.

*January 16th update: My new friend, Megan, has graciously pointed out that I am missing balsamic vinegar in this picture. That I forgot an entire ingredient (the one that makes it really yummy) is a testament to how forgetful I'm getting in my old age! Thanks for the reminder, Megan, I needed it! :)

Tomato & mozzarella salad

French press

My dad got a french press for his birthday. This reminded me that I own one, and I've completely forgotten why I stopped using it. The coffee is better than what I make in my regular coffee pot, and it takes the same amount of time to use it (including clean up).

Gus has taken an interest in my newly found press as well.

french press + gus

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Elvis Presley's 75th birthday


I'm a day late posting this - the King's birthday was actually yesterday, January 8th - but the festivities are going on all weekend in Memphis.

So, if you're not attending and want to pay your respects, what do you do?

1. Elvis movie marathon
3. Read these great quotes from Elvis:

Ambition is like a dream with a V8 engine.

I don't think I'm bad for people. If I did think I was bad for people, I would go back to driving a truck, and I really mean this.

I think I have something tonight that's not quite correct for evening wear. Blue suede shoes.

I was training to be an electrician. I suppose I got wired the wrong way round somewhere along the line.

I'm not trying to be sexy. It's just my way of expressing myself when I move around.

Man, I really like Vegas.

Periodic table of typefaces

My aunt pointed this out to me recently. So cool! From Behance Network.

Periodic Table of Typefaces

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Need something to sizzle up a cold, snowy evening?

Celebrate National Tempura Day at your local Japanese eatery...and don't forget the hot tea.

Tea, anyone?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mini champagne bistro chairs

I think this is adorable! I have a few corks and cages left over from New Year's myself; now I have something fun to do with them!

Domaine Carneros corks

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Years Eve at Grace Restaurant

All I can say is YUM. Check out my thoughts on Grace Restaurant here.

Grace Restaurant

2010 top ten restaurant resolutions

Yummy cookies!

Are you resolved to diet and exercise in 2010? Well, everyone needs to treat themselves now and then. For my top ten ways to do so, click here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Holidays in Review

Holidays were a ton of fun this year! Here is a sampling of people I saw and places I visited...
Britton's fabulous shoes.
Britton's fabulous shoes!
Rister's lab, Cheyenne.
Tony at Rister's house. He objects to this photo in the following manner: Zit = FAIL.
Deer in headlights
Gracie up front, Braedon sporting the rabbit ears, Lissa and Zachary in back. At Black Memaw's house.

We can all tell that Gracie despises posing for the camera.
Zachary got something GOOD!

Braedon giving me the most awesome look of death.
Gracie's one of the most photogenic children I know. I love that she's hugging her Barbie.
Black Memaw and her brother, Bruce. Memaw is never without her cup of coffee.
That is one well-used glass of wine. We all had a fabulous time at Suzanne and Stephen's house!
Rister for President.
Faking pensive
Tony sporting a skinny tie. Eat your heart out, Joel McHale.
Give me sultry
Put down that beer for the photo op, Mr. President!
Mom's fab new Christmas china.
Christmas dinner
Sassy Emma!

Emma wearing her sassy new Croc boots.
Here's Melissa and Kent. What a cute little chunk o' love!
Dad and Matt.
Look at those rosy cheeks!!
We had a 2.5 second window of opportunity to photograph the grandchildren. Here's the result.
George at the Hershey Gardens in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Hershey gardens
Lobsters meant for Christmas Eve dinner. Alas, due to a last minute emergency they were unfortunately thrown away. Argh!
An entire store at the Hershey Hotel devoted to cupcakes. Yum!
George sitting at his computer at the Hershey Lodge. Love the deadpan expression.
Hershey lodge
Judy at the Circular Dining Room at the Hershey Hotel wearing her famous charm necklace.
Hershey hotel
George Jr. at the Hershey Hotel.
Hershey hotel
Reflection of George at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute.
Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute
Hilarious dancing pig at the Hershey Gardens.
Hershey gardens
Hershey Park (closed in winter).
Hershey park (closed)

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