Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chef From Hell redux

I've made no secret the past couple of years that one of my favorite food and fun blogs was the Chef From Hell. Alas, that blog is no longer with us, but fortunately, the blogger is.

Chef J.P. Gelinas is a former restaurateur, occasional TV personality and longtime rocker. Thanks to some CDs he's sent me and online videos (like the one above), I've become a fan of his band, the Freelance Vandals.

The Vandals site is great fun, and is a great way to get into the mood for a wild weekend.

J.P. - as always, it's good to see and hear what's on your twisted mind!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mo likes Pie

Pardon the double entendre, but I'm going in two directions here.

I've posted before about Mo's growing interest in baking. She's finally mastered (sort of) cookies and has moved on to cakes and pies. Last weekend she and the Remarkable Marcy made a blueberry pie. The result was tasty, but a little runny. Nevertheless, a great effort from an 11 year old.

The other Pie Mo likes plays baseball. That would be Felix Pie (pronounced pee YAY), a reserve outfielder who plays for the Orioles. It was indeed the name that first attracted her to Pie, when he was a prospect for the Cubs. When he was acquired during the offseason by our hometown team, she was delighted. Pie hasn't quite lived up to his potential, but last night had what is without doubt the best night of his career when he hit for the cycle against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California/USA/North America/Earth/Milky Way/etc.

Here's the recipe used for blueberry pie (courtesy James Beard's American Cookery). For a Felix Pie recipe, you're on your own.

4 cups prepared berries
3/4 cups sugar
4-6 Tbl. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Unbaked pastry for two-crust 9-inch pie

Combine the berries with sugar, flour and salt. Turn into a pastry-lined pie pan. Dot with butter. Trim the pastry edge and moisten it. Cover with the top pastry, trim the edge, crime the top and bottom edges together, and cut vents for steam. Bake at 450 degrees 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and bake 25-30 minutes longer. Cool on a rack.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Disabled List, Round 2

It was about this time last year that I posted about son Courtland's surgery to repair the torn labrum in his left shoulder. This time I'm posting about the surgery to repair the torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Unlike last year when the tear kept him from hitting during his summer baseball season, this time it kept him from pitching. He first started complaining about the pain in January during the Southern Maryland Baseball Camp. He looked strong throwing the first weekend, but after his moundwork in week two, he said his arm hurt. We took him to the doc and it was originally diagnosed as tendinitis. He stretched and worked on it all spring and by the time the high school season started, it looked like he was going to be okay. But a couple of games in, when he was catching, he made a throw that reaggravated the injury.

That pretty much washed out his senior baseball season. But he played this summer, playing outfield and batting. We tried some long toss, but his arm was still sore and we went a few weeks ago and got an MRI which showed a SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior) tear where the bicep tendon attaches to the labrum.

So, this week he went in for the repair (see photos of the procedure above). As with last year, two weeks in a sling, isometric rehab, soft throws in three months then hopefully pitching in the spring.

The big difference this year is that he is off to college in three weeks. When he reports to York College of Pennsylvania, he'll hook up with the baseball team trainer, who'll work with Courtland while his teammates are on the field. I'm sure it will be frustrating for him not to play right away, but he'll have to take it slow. The doc said that often the kids who've gone through this repair say that the second season after surgery they're throwing harder than ever, courtesy of scar tissue from the procedure reinforcing the shoulder.

With any luck, this time next year I won't be filing any Disabled List posts.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Our 11-year-old, Mo, is a stitch. We were watching the Orioles game on TV last night and one of the advertising billboards behind homeplate was touting a company called Marcy wondered aloud what Spongetech is. Without missing a beat, Mo answered – “Spongebob’s college.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Look

With the summer baseball and softball seasons winding down, I'll soon have my weekends back and I think I'll start posting with a little more frequency. In advance of that, I'm introducing a new look to the blog. While I liked the warm earth tones of the old template and the smokey, bbq-joint feel it evoked, it was starting to remind me more and more of my paneled college dorm room.

So, a fresh new look. Let me know what you think.

Monday, May 04, 2009

You Don't Say

My friend and colleague John McIntyre is now my friend and former colleague. It's an unfortunate result of last week's newsroom purge at The Sun.

Many of you know that I've frequently referred to John's excellent blog on the language, You Don't Say. Fortunately, John was able to carry the blog with him and set up shop at a new location. You can find the new site here.

Drop in and spend some time with John's blog. You'll be all the smarter by doing so.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Worst Days

My former colleague, Dave Ettlin, paints an accurate picture of what our newsroom suffered through the past couple of days.

In case you were wondering, my job was spared, but I am not okay.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Austin, Texas

I made my first trip back to Austin, Texas in nearly eight years last week. It was technically a work trip, but it's hard to go to Austin without making time for a little fun, food and music. I pretty much summed up the good stuff in my weekly post on Rob Kasper's beer blog.

Another personal imperative while there was my quest to obtain a dozen Round Rock Donuts to bring home to the family. Anybody who lives in Central Texas knows the addictive qualities of these sticky, orange, melt-in-your-mouth donuts. Every Sunday - and some Saturdays - found us waiting in line with the other RRD junkies waiting for a score.

I was without a car for this trip, so was unable to make the run up to Round Rock to pick them up. I also struck out with a couple of hopeful rendezvous with old friends who I had hoped might be able to pick up a box and run them down to me. And my search downtown for RRD resellers also proved fruitless. However, bless their little cholesterol-clogged hearts, RRD now sells their product at the Austin airport. I was able to grab a dozen before boarding the plane.

When I got home, the family was much happier to see the donuts than the man bearing them. But that was okay with me. I got to eat them, too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Drinking the "Backbone of a Puppy"

This week's guest post on Rob Kasper's beer blog looks at the Beer Activist blog and explains why South African's drink the "backbone of a puppy."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Black Bean Feijoada

When Mo asked what I was making for dinner tonight, I said, "Feijoada."

"Fishwater?" she replied.

I guess it does sound a little like that, but that's not how it tastes. I've seen feijoada credited to Portugal and Brazil, and the traditional dish has meat and beans, usually served over rice. The recipe we use is vegetarian, just a simple but spicy black bean stew, served over brown rice and topped with roasted red peppers, avocado slices and a dollop of sour cream.

The recipe below comes from Annemarie Colbin's classic, "The Natural Gourmet." It's a great recipe, but if you're going to make it, start early. Cooking time is almost two hours if you count preps.

Black Bean Feijoada

2 cups dried black beans, soaked
2 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions
2 tbl fresh grated ginger root
1/2 tbl cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
6 cups water
3 tbl umeboshi vinegar or 2 tbl brown rice or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
3 sweet red peppers
4 cups cooked brown rice

Drain the beans. Chop the onions. In 4- to 6-qt pot, heat the oil. Add the onions and saute over medium heat. Stir in the ginger, cayenne and cumin, then add the drained beans and the 6 cups water. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours.

Add the vinegar and salt and cook for 10 more minutes.

While beans are cooking, roast the red peppers over a gas burner or put them under the broiler until they are charred black. Place in a paper bag or covered pot and let "sweat" for 10 minutes. Then wash off charred peel under cold running water. Seed and slice the peppers into thin strips.

Serve over rice, garnished with the red pepper strips. We're also adding a few slices of avocado.

- From Annemarie Colbin's "The Natural Gourmet"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beer Commercials

My weekly guest spot on Rob Kasper's beer blog deals with the amusing and memory evoking world of beer commercials.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bye Bye, P-I

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its last edition today, becoming the second major daily to go under in the last few weeks (Denver's Rocky Mountain News folded in February).

I won't dwell on the reasons why, but news consumption patterns and advertising preferences - not to mention a lousy economy - are likely to lead more papers to follow suit. And don't think it's not on the mind of me and my colleagues here in Baltimore.

The P-I was a paper I knew more from reputation than from ever having read it. A solid source of information in the Northwest that was a breeding ground for talented writers and artists. This latter fact I learned from one of the newspaper's alums, Ray Collins, a cartoonist who wrote and drew a strip called "Cecil and Dipstick." Ray left the P-I in the late '70s, following family east, and wound up in Columbus, Ohio where he landed as a graphic artist at the interactive QUBE cable system, where I was cutting my professional chops as a young producer. We got to know each other well when, I was in charge of a weekly kid's game show called Quizzles and Ray's cartoons were a huge part of the show.

We'd often go out to lunch together and Ray would entertain me with stories of his days at the P-I, when he was a drinking buddy of Frank Herbert, who went on to author the Dune sci-fi series, and Tom Robbins, who wrote Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and other novels. It was Ray's stories that brought the P-I to life for me.

Good luck to all the journalists who lost jobs as a result of this paper closing. And good luck to the readers in Seattle who have lost a valuable voice in the community.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-Dylan Thomas

Clipper City Beer Blog

I'm celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a guest post on Rob Kasper's beer blog. Today I give a nod to Hugh Sisson's blog on Baltimore's Clipper City Brewing site. Check out the post, the blog and treat yourself to one of Clipper City's brews if you get the chance.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beer Haiku Daily

My post this week on Kasper on Tap is about one of my old faves, Captain Hops' Beer Haiku Daily.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Beer in Baltimore

On Tuesdays I guest post for my friend Rob Kasper on his "Kasper on Tap" blog. This week I wrote about Alexander Mitchell's Beer in Baltimore blog.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chocolate Chip Goopies

Today I'm the guest dad on my colleague Kate Shatzkin's Charm City Moms blog, talking about MoJo's efforts to bake cookies.

UPDATE: Last Monday was a snow day for the kids and Mo was back in the kitchen. This time she nailed it and we had cookies instead of goopies!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The (almost) perfect food

When the mid-afternoon munchies kick in, one of the best places in the newsroom to troll for snacks is over by our features department. Frequently the gang who works on the food section will lay out remnants of recipes they've tested or samples of snacks that have been sent in for them to review.

A couple of days ago I wandered by and there was a box featuring a photo of a slice of bacon adjacent to a square of chocolate. It was Mo's Bacon Bar! Inside were squares of creamy milk chocolate-covered Applewood-smoked bacon crumbles.

I'm not sure why nobody thought of this before. It was a nice juxtaposition of sweetness, saltiness and smokiness. The only thing keeping this from being the perfect food was a liquid center filled with beer.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Awakening from hibernation

Just waking up from my long winter's nap. Ironically, this note aside, my first post since the beginning of the year will appear Tuesday, Feb. 24, on my friend Rob Kasper's beer blog.

I'll be dropping in on his blog once a week to share some findings from other beer bloggers out there, so if you have any suggestions for Rob or me, please don't be shy.