Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not What I Was Expecting

Remember my concerns with Carrie Underwood's new single?

Well as it turns out, having now listened to the CD obsessively for the last week (it helped that I had to drive to and from Atlanta AND that NPR has been having a pledge drive so there's no real programming to listen to)So Small is 1 of 3 tracks on the 13-track CD that I don't like. I am a big fan of the power ballads Just a Dream, I Know You Won't and I Told You So (will Carrie do for Randy Travis what Whitney did for Dolly?) as well as the Before-He-Cheats knock-off Last Name. I belt these bad boys out in the car like I have Carrie's pipes (by the way - she has a serious voice and American Idol - producers and viewers - should be relieved that they got it right that year). I am also quite fond of the more uptempo Get Out of This Town, Crazy Dreams and All-American Girl. Even Flat on the Floor, the first track, which I was scratching my head when I first heard it, is growing on me as is The More Boys I Meet and Twisted.

I am curious to see what her second single will be, but in the mean time, I am waiting for Garth's new CD next Tuesday and the CMAs on Wednesday (which I am considering live-blogging).

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Old McDonald Had A Farm

Ok - so I don't think I've told you all my fantasy to chuck it all and be a farmer. I mean I've got 8 acres, the right zoning and if some guy named Manny can do it in 800 square feet in a Brooklyn backyard, so can I. Right?

I mean, I have seriously elaborate fantasies involving vegetable gardens, goat cheese and grape vines.

Anyways, I am not there yet, but I did spend last Saturday picking tomatoes. Actually, I was gleaning for the Society of St. Andrew.

Society for St. Andrew is a Christian ministry dedicated to gleaning America's fields and feeding America's hungry. The actual definition of gleaning means to gather (grain or the like) after the reapers or regular gatherers. Essentially SFSA gets farmers to plant crops or donate extra crops which volunteers then glean and send off to homeless shelters, soup kitchens and the like.

So I spent Saturday at a farm in China Grove picking tomatoes to be sent to a soup kitchen in Morganton. I'll tell you this - it was hard work. I only picked for ~ 2 hours but I was exhausted and sore and dirty! My hands were black with caked on dirt and mud. But it was also so satisfying on so many levels. And I love the idea of being self-sustaining.

Sorry...trying to post and watch Grey's Anatomy simultaneously and it's a bad idea so I am going to wrap it up...

So um yeah...famring...gleaning tomatoes...it's all good.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Saturday in the Country in 2 Chapters

Chapter 2 When We Make Pie

Ok. So you probably don't even care about Chapter 2 any more seeing as it's been 11 days since Chapter 1. And I guess I should have warned you that I was taking a slight hiatus, although truth be told I didn't know that I was taking a hiatus until 11 days of feeling semi-unmotivated and uninspired passed and I realized I was either being completely lazy and shirking my blogging responsibilities or taking a hiatus and obviously taking a hiatus sounds so much better than being lazy. Anyways...

Back to the pie. No - not that pie, New York pie. Pizza.

Last Saturday (or rather, 2 Saturdays ago - God, does time fly), we took mom and dad out to Mansour's for a make your own pizza party. The wood burning oven was fired up. The dough was already made. All you had to do was grab a ball, roll it out, and then top to your hearts desire. Mansour did not skimp on the toppings as there was beef, 2 types of sausage, ham, chicken, fresh shiitakes, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, asparagus, jalapenos, and 2 types of cheese (among others - it's been 2 weeks and I didn't take notes).

I will tell you this: It was the best pizza I've ever had. I think it's because I made it and had complete control over the proportion and distribution of all toppings (both sausages, ham, shiitakes, artichokes, chicken, asparagus). Or it could have been the wood burning oven - which as far as I am concerned you could use to boil water and the water would taste that much better.

What's even better about this whole experience - at least for those of you who live nearby - is that there is a local company that can replicate this party in your backyard. Brian Rollins and his wife own Good Wood Pizza. Brian builds wood burning ovens (in fact, he helped Mansour with his) but they also have a portable oven and they bring it to your house, and they bring a big old bowl of dough, and either they'll supply the toppings or you can supply the toppings, and voila - instant pizza party!

I think I am officially off hiatus, especially since I am off to pick tomatoes tomorrow morning at a farm in China Grove.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Saturday in the County in 2 Chapters

Chapter 1 When We Go The Fair

Mom and dad came to visit us this weekend and Saturday morning we took them to the Cleveland County Fair.

It was pretty much your typical county fair - funnel cake and cheeseburgers and livestock and rides on the midway and...tractor pulls. That's right kids - I went to my first tractor pull. For full details on what a tractor pull actually is, check out this link (I'm too busy watcing the Yankees vs. Indians to write in much detail). Other than that, isn't it enough to know that I went to a tractor pull...and actually liked it?

Photos from the fair follow:

The Sled

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Scenes from a Tractor Pull

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More Scenes from a Tractor Pull

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Some Very Large Pumpkins

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The biggest is 440 lbs. What? You don't believe me?

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Also, Some Very Large Watermelons (the largest was 140 lbs)

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Some Awesome Produce

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And Finally, the Goat Booth

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Lastly, I'd add that in addition to everything I've already mentioned, perhaps my most favorite part of the fair was the color game. Normally, whenever I've played the color game at fairs in the Northeast, I've plunked a quarter (or maybe 50 cents)on a color (the more choices the better) and then someone throws a ball and it bounces around a giant grid and hopefully lands in a slot with my color (sorry - Wikipedia doesn't offer a handy description for what I call the color game). Anyways, in the South, they spin a giant wheel and stick a white rat in a tin cup in the center and then the rat crawls out of the cup and runs into a hole and whatever hole he runs into is the color that wins. Ok, maybe not the best description, but still...

...if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Highlights from a Day in Kat Kountry

I am obsessed with the new Garth Brooks single, More Than a Memory, and since it's not available for purchase until November 6th and not available for download EVER (don't get me started on that), my only hope of hearing it is on the radio. As such, I've been listening to a little less NPR and a little more 96.9 Kat Kountry.

However, it seems like every time I flip on the radio I hear one of the following: any one of a number of songs by Rascall Flatts - who I can't stand and it's doubly worse because they just released a new album and so they are getting lots of radio play; Kenny Chesney's 2 current singles - Don't Blink (don't bother) and Never Wanted Nothing More - a song which I enjoyed ever so slightly the first time I heard it but have since grown tired of; and Proud of the House We Built, the new single by Brooks and Dunn (also out with a new album).

All of this, and no Garth. So, I decided to do a little research and see what exactly went on during the course of a day in Kat Kountry. Maybe I just had really bad timing - maybe it wasn't always Rascall Flats every hour, on the hour. So, on October 4th, between 8:47am and 5:46pm, I kept an eye on 96.9's last 10 songs played and here's what I can tell you:

* More Than a Memory was played twice: once at 10:29am and again at 5:27pm

* There was only 1 Rascall-Flatts-free-hour, between 11am and 12pm (also possibly the 5pm hour but I didn't quite make it all the way through).

* Brooks and Dunn were played 13 times, 11 of which happened between 10am and 3pm. As it turned out, Ronnie and Kix were guest-DJ'ing for those 5 hours which explains the skew.

* Both Kenny Chesney songs made 2 appearances in the 9 hour period I tracked as did 3 other songs.

* There was rarely an hour without Tim McGraw - Faith's husband was played 8 times.

* Also popular were Brad Paisley who was played 6 times (although thankfully Ticks and Online were only played once each), Montgomery Gentry (4 plays) and Rodney Atkins (3 plays).

* The American Idols weren't so popular: Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington (who I also feel like I always hear when I turn on the radio)only had 1 song a piece, while Carrie Underwood had 2 (although she didn't make her first appearance until 3:25pm).

* Luke Bryan's All My Friends Say was played 3 times which is fine by me because I actually like the song. I am less a fan of Dierks Bentley's Free and Easy which was played twice.

To see the complete list, click here. And I guess until November 6th, I'll just have to hope for a little less Rascall Flatts and a little more Garth.

And if that ain't county, I'll kiss your...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mansour Does It Again

Well…I haven’t really been inspired to write much of anything recently. I know that you are sick of the goat tales (though you’ll be glad to hear that Elvis seems to be recovering just fine) and I can’t really keep complaining about the shortening days and the fact that it’s dark out now when I leave in the morning.

I was going to write about a double whammy with technological devices purchased online (a portable GPS that doesn’t offer door-to-door navigation – it just gets you to the general area – I mean, really – what’s the point? And a car radio whose clock can’t be programmed – seriously, I called the manufacturers in NY and they don’t even know how to program it – they have their tech guys breaking down a model and trying to figure it out as we speak) but then I decided it wasn’t particularly country and I find myself where I’ve found myself before…realizing that I am just too darn country for my own good and at a loss of interesting and entertaining stories.

Lucky for me we had dinner at Willow Creek Inn last night, and as always, Mansour blew us away. It started when we pulled in and I saw flames in the wood-burning oven Mansour built over the summer. Yum...anything cooked in a wood-burning oven is fine by me. We were seated at our favorite little table, wine was poured, and immediately, all the stress and chaos of the day were gone. Mansour started us off with salad – which seemed a bit odd because he usually serves us soup or an appetizer and then the salad but there was no precursor this evening. The salad was perfectly portioned (he has historically tended to serve us entrée size salads that are way too big) and full of farm-fresh vegetables, a sliver of some delicious blue cheese and a not-too-tangy balsamic. It’s amazing that something as simple as a salad can still blow me away.

But it was the entrée that put the evening over the top: wood-fire grilled beef tenderloin atop a piece of wood-fired Lavosh served with wood-fired onions and a whole wood-fire roasted tomato. Additionally, there was a steaming pile of Mansour’s amazing rice (seriously – his plain white rice is beyond words good) topped with a bevy of fragrant herbs and spices that Mansour ordered us to mix into the rice while it was still hot. Everything was beyond delicious. Even dessert – a brown-sugar stuffed date accompanied by a cup of Mansour’s perfumed tea, was perfect.

Next up on the agenda at Willow Creek Inn? Native American Night on the 27th - bonfire and everything.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...