Thursday, November 29, 2007

Famous in a Small Town

According to Miranda Lambert, Everybody Dies Famous in a Small Town. Well, I just got my 15 minutes.

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

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Plug For Paris

Check out Marty's new single here. I co-wrote the lyrics so you see, Country Girl has a little rock and roll in her yet!
Black Friday

So don't ask but I was up at 4:18 this morning (ok if you must ask my legs were sandwiched in about a 2-inch gap between Tony & Sebastian and me being the loving pet parent that I am, I refuse to kick either cat off the bed) and I got to thinking about the fact that it was 4:18am and that as I lay in bed tossing and turning and cursing my cats and trying my hardest to fall asleep again that there were people out there, right then, at the very second, Christmas shopping. And I got to thinking about doorbusters and sales and specials and the fact that Kohls was opening at 4am and maybe JC Penney and how some stores even started at midnight, hardly giving folks the time to recover from their tryptophane and stuffing induced food comas. And then I got to thinking about Wal-Mart - specifically our Wal-Mart in Linolnton and how I was fairly certan it would be open at 5am because I think Wal-Marts everywhere are opening at 5am and how I had to go to Wal-Mart anyways because there was a sweater there that I really wanted (actually I got the sweater in black the other day and loved it so much I wanted to get it in at least one other color - possibly red for the holidays or heather gray because it's so versatile) and how it would be kind of cool to go at 5am just to see what the whole crazy first-thing-in-the-morning-Black-Friday experience was all about even though I don't need a computer or a flat screen or a slow cooker or a pre-lit Christmas tree or any of the other thousands of items that are drastically reduced and hence the whole reason why people are up and out shopping at such ungodly hours (then again, having the love for shopping that I do, there is no such thing as an ungodly hour to shop and perhaps, just perhaps, this world would be a better place if one could shop (and I don't mean online - I mean actually shop) at all hours of the night). And then I remembered that I hate driving in the dark and so instead of heading out at 5am to truly experience Black Friday I came downstairs and watched last night's Grey's Anatomy on TiVo and waited until dawn was breaking at 6:45am to head to Wal-Mart and buy my sweaters (in heather gray and rose bud).

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No - We Don't Fry Turkeys

So...some more thoughts on Thanksgiving.

Let me begin by saying that no, we don't fry a turkey. We don't brine a turkey. We don't roast a turkey. We simply don't do turkey. Marty doesn't like turkey in any way shape or form so we might be the only people in America to have a turkey-less Thanksgiving.

This of course disturbs me because it's Thanksgiving also known as Turkey Day and ever since I learned about brining I think that I make one hell of a turkey and so not being able to prepare turkey bothers me. Deboning and grilling cornish game hens just does not provide the same level of satisfaction...

What I do get satisfaction from is making my stuffing and traditional mashed potatoes (not a whiff of roasted garlic or goat cheese in sight) and my spiced cranberry and fruit conserve which nobody eats but me (well Marty doesn't eat it and if it's just us that's an awful lot of cranberries for one person). Less satisfying? Traditional green bean casserole (which, if you can believe, I actually screwed up the first time I tried to make it - I mean this is a foolproof recipe on the side of soup cans everywhere and I, who can make the most awesome broccoli and cheese souffle you've ever tasted, messed it up!) and macaroni and cheese. I just don't get the whole mac and cheese as Thanksgiving side staple but Marty swears by it. He assures me it's a Southern thing.

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

Bonus: Click here for my cranberry recipe - it's delicious!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tales from the Archives: The Stuffing Wars

In honor of the upcoming holiday, below follows a piece I wrote a while back on the first Thanksgiving that Marty and I celebrated together.

I have long dreamed of the day when I would host Thanksgiving. The honor currently belongs to my Aunt Pearl, our family matriarch, so any Thanksgivings spent in New York are spent at her table in Kew Gardens. But in 1999, Marty and I were living in Houston and decided not to travel. We were going to do our own Thanksgiving. I was ecstatic.

We hit the first hurdle with the menu planning. Marty wanted to serve traditional green bean casserole (you know – the recipe that comes on the side of the can of Durkee fried onions), macaroni and cheese, dirty rice and pecan pie. I wanted to make cranberries from scratch, mashed potatoes, some kind of green vegetable that wasn’t smothered in Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and pumpkin bread pudding.

Then there was the issue of the meat. I wanted to serve turkey. Marty insisted on Cornish game hens.

It seemed the only thing we had in common was that we both wanted stuffing.

One night, we were having drinks at the bar at the Four Seasons. I was knee deep in planning mode and I had a sheaf of recipes I wanted to go over. I started to show Marty some different stuffing recipes I had pulled off of Epicurious including one for sweet potato cornbread stuffing with greens and bacon that I really had my eye on. He rejected them all. The stuffing, he told me, would be Pepperidge Farm, like he had eaten as a child. Although I had not eaten a lot of stuffing as a child and did not have a strong position on the subject, I felt passionately about being able to prepare the stuffing I wanted to prepare. This was going to be a gourmet Thanksgiving if it killed me.

We launched into a heated argument about stuffing, further fueled by cocktails. At one point we were debating the merits of using stale or toasted bread versus fresh bread. Just as I was about to give up hope, a young mother pushing a baby stroller came up to us.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” she said. “But I couldn’t help but overhear your discussion on stuffing.” Of course she overheard us. We were loud. And how kind of her to call it a discussion when it was clearly a fight.

Still, she continued on. It seems that her family had nearly come to blows over stuffing several years back until the recipe she shared with us, saved them. It was a simple recipe and I forget who gave it to her. But she passed it onto us and it saved us. The basic premise is to saut̩ a trinity of onion, garlic and celery in some oil. Add some cubed baguette (we prefer sourdough), which has been buttered and sprinkled with salt and pepper (we actually use Tony Chachere's seasoning). Add some stock, maybe a little wine, cook down and you are done. The stuffing can be augmented with anything Рsausage, mushrooms, oysters Рbut it is best in its original simplicity (although to be fair, we top it off with some fresh Parmesan).

Marty and I made our Four Seasons Stuffing that year. Along with everything else. We literally made 2 Thanksgivings for 3 people as we could not come to agreement on what to cut from the menu.

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

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why I Love Small Town Life

So Karen's reception was last night and it was fabulous! I have to admit, in a year and a half of living here it was one of our first real nights out in Lincolnton where we had the chance to truly be part of the local community.

Karen's show is at the Cultural Center (in a very large p.s. I will suggest that all local readers make their way over there before the end of the month as her work is absolutely OUTSTANDING) and everyone who was there last night seemed to know each other. Marty's firm sponsored the wine and so not only did we provide the wine but we were the bartenders and so we met a lot of people and you could tell that people were trying to figure out who we were, why we were there, where we fit in, etc. It was actually kind of fun because we've lived in Lincolnton for a while now and we're still relatively unknown and ever so slightly mysterious.

After the show, we popped over to Tradewinds for a quick game of trivia. Although the bar was empty when we sat down, it filled up quickly. A grey haired gentleman with a moustache came in. Elsa, the bartender, addressed him by name and steered him to the one remaining seat to my left. She got him a drink without even asking and plunked an ashtray in front of him unrequested. It was if he was a regular.

His name was Paul. Although he didn't have a game board, he joined into the trivia action shouting out answers when he knew them. He was a friendly enough fellow and we made some polite small talk.

I assumed he was a local and a regular but as it turns out, he lives in Arizona and is a sub-contractor for Lowes. He's only in town for 2 weeks. Still, I loved that Elsa knew him by name, knew his drink of choice (Bud in a bottle) and that she made a point of introducing him when he sat down. It was exactly why I love living in a small town.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Calling All Art Lovers

My friend Karen Banker is an artist and she's got a one-woman show running at the Lincoln Cultural Center during the month of November. I would encourage all local readers to go see her work or attend the artist's reception this Friday night.

You can also read a little bit about Karen and the show here.

I am actually excited because besides seeing Karen's work (which is fabulous) I would otherwise never get to see the Cultural Center seeing as it keeps the incredibly convenient hours of 9 - 5, Monday - Friday.

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

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Tribute on Veterans Day

I am proud! Busting at the seams, big smile on my face, call-everyone-I-know and post-it-on-the-blog proud. On the main page of Yahoo, on the "Featured" tab, usually reserved for the antics of Britney Spears or, as early as this morning, talking about how to manage inter-office romances, is a picture of my Uncle Icky. Veteran. American. Hero. And my uncle.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Surely this moment will be fleeting. Perhaps a few more hours - or even through the rest of the day. But then Veterans Day will pass and the "Featured" tab will feature someone or something else more relevant. But right now, at this very instant, millions of people are clicking onto the Yahoo homepage and millions are seeing my Uncle Icky's yellow-bespectacled face. And I couldn't be prouder.

For those of you who may not know Uncle Icky, my dad recently gave a brief interview for Bloodthirsty. In it, he was asked, who's your oldest friend? This was his response:

My Uncle Icky. His real name is Irving Ziffer, and he’s the basis for Ziff the Sniff, the narcotics detective in my books. Technically he’s my blood relative, but he’s still a lifetime friend. He’s 89 years old, a decorated World War II hero, who fought in the Pacific for five years, was wounded once, recovered, then insisted on going back to the front lines, where he earned another Purple Heart. He is legally blind, dependent on two hearing aids, but doesn’t let anything stop him from living life to the fullest. He is my friend and my hero. He was a travelling salesman who took me on road trips, taught me how to drive a car long before I was of age, introduced me to horseracing, and is still quick with a dirty joke. My wife is his health care proxy, and his instructions to her are as follows: "If I’m lying in the hospital plugged into a resuscitator, put a pair of dice and bottle of Johnnie Walker Black on my chest. If I don’t move, pull the freakin’ plug."

I couldn't have described Uncle Icky any better (or any funnier for that matter).

God bless all of our veterans and all of our men and women in the armed forces today. Thank you for what you do.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Houston, We Have a Problem

So I had high, high hopes for my glorified return to the world of blogging. I was going to live-blog the CMAs. I have never live-blogged before but I love it when Dan Wetzel does it for the first 2 days of March Madness and The Fug Girls were hysterical with their live blog coverage of the Oscars. So the CMAs seemed like the perfect forum: an awards show, country music and long-time proclivities for spangles and big hair, more performers than awards - plus, I was in Chicago which meant the show ran from 7pm - 10pm so no threat that I'd fall asleep before it was over.

Alas, if you can beieve it: I COULDN'T GET FREAKING INTERNET IN MY ROOM. That's right, while staying at the Ritz-Carlton (a Four Seasons hotel) in Chicago I could not get Internet in my room. I'll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say I spent WAY TOO MUCH time on Wednesday trying to solve the issue. Apparently, the Ritz does not offer in-room wireless and for some reason, my laptop was missing a LAN connection (not their fault but still - wireless is kind of the go-to technology these days and I never thought I'd be penalized for having the more modern technology) so once I realized the problem I went to the business center and tried to download the driver from Dell but it didn't work and I eventually threw my hands up and returned to my room, having missed the first 1/2 hour of the show. I watched about 30 more minutes, maybe an hour and from what I watched - there was plenty of good material.

I saw Big & Rich (or maybe it was Brooks and Dunn - I get them kind of confused) take the stage. One was wearing a seriously pimp daddy fur coat that would give Sharon Stone a run for her money while the other was wearing a hat from the Dr. Seuss reject pile.

I saw Rascal Flatts win an award (best group I think) which was enough to have me question everything about today's country music and life in general. They might possibly be the worst musical act EVER. And they look kind of dorky and all of their girlfriends/wives/female companions looked they had taken classes at the Pamela Anderson school of Tanning & Enlargement and well...anyways, I wonder.

I watched Carrie Underwood sing So Small (again - why is this her first single???) and wondered if the girl had consumed a carbohydrate in the last year? She did look lovely in yellow (in my opinion).

I saw Sara Evans and Kate Walsh in their "hosting" roles. Flat. Flat. Flat. I mean, Sara is a singer and not an actress but Kate Walsh is actually talented. Kind of. Sort of. I mean, she was when she was bitchy Addison on Grey's but now that they've softened her corners, she's less exciting (hence why I don't watch Private Practice) and well, she was terrible at the CMAs. The writing was awful and the lame attempts at humor fell flat as did Sara and Addy who read straight from the teleprompter with little to no emotion. I almost choked when Bucky Covington was introduced as part of the stable of hot (as in good looking and not popular) new country male artists.

So you can see, there was plenty of material and I was so looking forward to actually, finally getting the chance to live blog but alas I was denied. I don't know where this leaves me exactly in my live-blogging quest - I guess I'll have to wait until the ACM awards in May...

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

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Whole Mish Mosh of Stuff

Daylight Savings Time is officially over which means I am officially driving home in the dark for the next 126 days. On the upside, it's at least now lighter in the morning...for a few weeks anyways. It's been truly depressing leaving the house these last few weeks in the pitch black.

And...if you're wondering why I've been so quiet recently, Marty's been really busy working on a new album due out in early 2008 and we haven't been out and about as much.

Also, a year and a half since living here, the whole city girl/country girl, fish out of water thing has kind of gone by the wayside. The fact that I spent half an hour at Lowe's this afternoon pricing lumber for a new deck - not very exciting. At least not to me (and therefore probably not to you). A year ago I would have gone on and on about either a) simply spending time at Lowes or b) the joys of shopping at the Lincolnton Lowes vs. the Secaucus Home Depot but now it's just kind of like, eh...who cares.

To that degree, I open up the floor to what few readers I may actually have left (not related to me by blood of course) for any suggestions on subjects they'd like me to write about.

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

p.s. For all you Paris Keeling fans out there, Kelly Keeling is currently on tour with Trans-Siberian Orchestra so check him out when he comes to town!