Friday, April 16, 2010

More adventures in cooking

Well, this weekend I’m going to try something.

On the trip a few weeks ago to Fredericksburg, I had lunch at a café off of Main St. It didn’t look all that promising, but it was the only place without a major line, and I was at the point where if I didn’t eat something I was going to pounce on a passing tourist and delicately gnaw off one of their arms. Cannibal curiosity not withstanding, I’d rather have a hot meal that I don’t actually have to bring down myself. So, what the heck?

The kid waiting tables was one of those tall, fuzzy-headed, white, college-dude types who didn’t feel it was at all amiss to seat diners while wearing reflective lens aviator sunglasses. And he was much more interested in teasing the kitchen staff into teaching him Spanish (clearly audible over the partition that hid the kitchen). The menu was pretty limited, even for a tiny 5 table café. A few sandwiches, a soup of the day and, intriguingly, chicken enchiladas. I’m in.

I don’t think exquisite is too strong a word. Delicate stewed chicken folded lovingly into a corn tortilla, dressed with a piquant verde sauce, and accompanied by flavorful, homemade black beans and rice that was, well, just rice. But let’s get back to that tortilla. It was handmade. Fresh. Pliant. Flavorful. Nearly fluffy. If all you’ve ever had is those plasticky, bland, dead-on-arrival corn tortillas from the supermarket, and up until then that’s all I’d had, you just don’t know. Not just something that holds the filling together. These were a hearty, toothsome centerpiece to the enchilada. A dozen of these, and a passing tourist, and you have a meal to remember.

So now I want to try making tortillas. I am under the impression that there is both art and science to the process. It is a mystery that only the most humble and patient of acolytes might master. I’m neither patient nor humble. But it’s masa and water and a hot skillet. What could go wrong? Plenty. I know. But for that superb flavor, I’m willing to give it the old college try.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Find the Funny

Okay, well, I’ve decided. This has become a Quest. Because I’m a big der-am-uh queen and everything has to be a Quest. What’s life if you can’t jump on your charger every once in a while and tilt at a good windmill, I ask you?

The quarry – good comedy. It exists. I just need to find it. And really, I think this has been a failure on my part. I’ve become too likely to turn my nose up instead of trying something new. And really, movies are new. There’s been a big shift in the last few years, in the Apatow vein, and maybe I’ve been avoiding because it’s not in my comfort zone. So, time to peek out of the shell and see what’s out there.

My goal will be to see 20 new comedies before the end of the month. New defined arbitrarily as “in the last 3 years and not previously seen by me”. I’ll be hitting the Big Red Box, re-sale shops, the trusty DVD section of the Target and actual movie theaters. I’ll try to shut off my filter and take in a wider range than I’ve exposed myself to lately: look for new actors, writers and directors, look outside the chick flick and sci-fi genres that is my usual wheelhouse (including shades of horror, teen movies, di** flicks, etc.). Two weeks to essentially survey the comedy movie landscape and either validate or eradicate my theory on the slow, lingering death of the American sense of humor).

I’ve got The Hangover, Tropic of Thunder, Hot Tub Time Machine and Death at a Funeral on my list. I might try Kick-Ass, though it looks a little violent to me, and has Nicolas Cage (bluh). But that’s the point, I should try things that I normally wouldn’t. Filters off! If you see or think of anything else I need to attempt toss it my way.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wise Chick

Interesting article in the NY Times about gals who don't shave. But the most interesting of all is a quote from Amanda Palmer, a musician and fiancee of Neil Gaiman. Engaged to the man who wrote American Gods? I already respect her like crazy. But then she whips out this quote to teens who would emulate her: “You know what’s really cool? Wake up every morning, decide what you feel like doing, and do it.” Damn. I may have to adopt that as my new life philosophy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.

A friend and I went to the video store to see if we could buy something to watch Friday night. I was happily perusing titles, and had two in my hands, when she asks me “did you find anything that looked funny?” Well, I looked down at the two I had, and I can honestly say that neither would ever be described as funny. In fact, they were the kind where, if I’m watching them with someone else, at the end they will look at me and say, “Well, that was depressing.” I have a talent for picking those. Not that I deliberately go out looking for anything in the bummer category. I just look for stuff that I might have heard of and thought sounded interesting.

But it was Friday. Maybe not the best time for something that ends with breakups, double-crosses or death. So I deliberately started looking through the racks for something that I thought would be funny. Didn’t find many comedies, and none that looked good that I hadn’t already seen. And I’m not that hard to please. I like a pretty wide range of funny. Hell, I thought The Waterboy was funny. But I like high-brow, low-brow, middle-brow, no-brow. Gross-out isn’t my favorite. But when it’s really well done, there’s nothing better than that gasp and laugh.

I’d hate to think we’re becoming less funny as a culture. I mean this is a country that gave the world the Marx brothers, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Cheech & Chong, Mel Brooks, the Blues Brothers, Pee Wee Herman, Eddie Murphy and one damn funny blob of hair gel.

So what do you think? Have I just been missing the big laugh films? What have you seen lately that has made you laugh? And I don’t mean a “Oh, my. That’s quite funny.” I mean a real, out-loud, possessed by the demon of funny, LAUGH OUT LOUD. Anything?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Double Down - go for broke

Okay. This thing.

On the one hand, I just wanna eat it. It's like some crazy ass challenge to my carnivore cred, and a screw you to my newly found good food girl status. Eating this would be like bungee jumping off Mt. Everest. What is not insane about a sandwich that is all wich and no sand? It's a sandwhich in which your "bun" is two fried chicken breasts and the filling is the naughtiest of condiments. Breads? We need no steenkeen breads! And it just sits there like some fried gauntlet. Actually, I think an actual fried gauntlet would probably be healthier to eat.

Then you look at the calorie info. Say wha? 540 calories? For the fried version? Okay. It's not exactly "lite" eating. But at 540 calories you could have two of them and still come under the calorie load of some of the salads at Chili's. Which leads me to believe that it is either the size of a jellybean, or it's actually hollow on the inside like cheapo chocolate bunny.

Still, I admit to a morbid curiousity. Sue me. Inquiring mind.

Shower the people you love with love - and onesies

Well, I went to my sister’s much delayed baby shower. Little man made an early and dramatic appearance, so he just threw things off. But with spring, her church was able to pull something together for her, so I toddled off to the other side of Fort Worth.

First, I can report that the wildflowers are spectacular this year. I saw some a couple of weeks ago down in Hill Country. But man, the trip out east was pretty breathtaking. Along the Bush Tollway and Highway 30 there were just these huge swaths of blue bonnets, peppered with bright orangey-red Indian paintbrush and what a little research is leading me to believe was crimson clover. It’s this low-to-the-ground plant with skinny stalks, topped with cone-shaped flowers in this deep raspberry color. I also peeped a few Indian blankets, but it’s a little early in the season for those. I really love that so many government groups and private citizens have taken to making sure that wildflower seeds get sown out along the highways and byways here. Sorry no pictures this time. Cars whizzing by at 70+ miles kind of scares off my photography muse.

Second, I’m pleased to report that the state of baby clothes for boys is improving. It used to be that if you wanted to buy a shower gift for a boy, you either were stuck with a sailor suit or an outfit that bordered on baby-transvestite. But there were so many little outfits that were just aaaaawwwww-soooooo-cute! Embroidered frogs and puppies. Tiny pants and argyle sweaters. Denim diaper covers. I’m pretty sure it was about all my sister could do not to start a mini-man fashion show. And I love that people are really expanding their ideas of what a good shower gift is. Yes, the teeny-tiny 3-month old stuff is almost irresistible. But they only stay teensy-tinsey for so long. And there were lots of practical gifts too. Bottles and diapers and lotion and wipes. God bless practical people. They may not get the oooos and awwwws, but they know what will be worth it’s weight in gold down the line.

And lastly, in my brief time at my sister’s church, I can assure you that Big Texas Hair is alive and well in the outlying regions of Fort Worth. Not everybody was sporting a proud, buoyant coif, but there were some truly fine examples of “the higher the hair, the closer to God.” This one older gal had the most amazing flip I have seen in years. I nearly asked her if I could touch it. It was just absolutely riveting. Makes you just proud to be a Texan, it really does.

TIME: Quotes of the Day