Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Looking For Inspiration In All The Wrong Places

A few weeks ago I declared to the handful of readers that I may or may not have that I was back and that the blogs would gush forth like before. Then I wrote nothing for a couple of weeks. What I did finally post was a hackneyed effort at what once was at best. I knew I wasn't the same writer that I had been before and to be honest I wasn't sure if that was who I wanted to be again anyway. What I needed was some inspiration and I set out to find some.


I first turned to the not so friendly skies above us but I have railed against the airlines before and the jokes about flying, while they continue to write themselves (too fat, too stinky), are really just the same leftover jokes and let's face it, leftovers are only good the next day. 


I thought about voodoo but when I checked my calendar, it looked like I won't be heading for Nawlins until late April or early May at the earliest. While you probably wouldn't miss the blogs, I really don't want to wait that long to start writing again.


I thought about blaming George W. Bush but I used that joke unsuccessfully in my last blog and if it wasn't funny the first time, it's probably not going to be funny a second time. It's getting overused down in Washington anyway.


Then I thought about going to church and praying for inspiration but that really did seem to me like an awful waste of God's time. It's not like he's not busy with other things. Besides, I every time I walk into my church they expect me to hand them a check. Of course I only really go about once a year anyway so the ratio of visits to checks really isn't that far off of 1 to 1 so I guess expecting a check when I walk in the door shouldn’t be considered crass but I do consider it to be so anyway.


But being in a religious frame of mind in that moment, I remembered that the Gods of Football had once answered my prayers in their own way by stomping a mudhole in me & my team so I figured that perhaps I should try contacting the Gods of Blogging. Surely this august group of coffee swilling slackers with poor eyesight from staring at their laptop monitors would be able to help me find inspiration.


Now I wanted to make sure that I got their attention in a crowd of other writers with nothing to write about so I grabbed a D List Celebrity from my Twitter Follow List and pitched them into the nearest lava spewing volcano. There was a poof (or was it a wisp ?) of smoke and standing before in all his toga clad glory was one of the Gods of Blogging.


“Dude, you rang ?” he said with obvious annoyance.


“Yes I did. I need some inspiration. I don’t know what to write about.” I replied.


“Write about what you know.” He said in a tone of voice that told me that wasn’t the first time he had used those words.


“But I know nothing.” I lamely responded.


“Exactly and you know a lot of it too !” he said and with a poof (or was it a wisp) of smoke he was gone.


“But…..” I stammered as I quickly grabbed another D List celebrity from my Twitter Follow List and tossed them into the lava spewing volcano in hopes of bringing him back. Alas, the second D Lister went for naught and none of the Gods of Blogging reappeared in my room.


So there we have it, even the Gods of Blogging had nothing to offer me other than to continue on my literary quest to write something out of nothing or was it to write nothing about something or was it to write nothing about nothing because I know I can’t write something about something because that just sounds too much like homework and I never really did a whole hell of a lot of that way back when. Guess we will just have to see what kind of nothing I write about.


And that is the view for now from Behind The Shades…..swampy abides



Friday, February 19, 2010

Let's Spin The Wheel & See Where We Land

In Hollywood they would be saying "Swampy Blog ! Take 2 ! Action !" because Take 1 wound up somewhere in the ether when I tried to copy & paste before saving. Like most sequels, this one most likely will not measure up to the original but let's give it a try anyway.

I just got back from another business trip and not only did I bring home the bacon but I also brought home a cold. Thanks Florida - you suck. I will however buck a current trend and blame Anita Bryant for my cold instead of George W. Bush.

I follow quite a few writers on twitter who make even 140 characters look easy & great. It's almost enough to make a hack like me long for the days of MySpace where nobody cared about grammar, spelling, punctuation or content. Almost. It has made me somewhat re-think my great airport book store novel that has yet to be finished. Let's be serious here, yet to be started.
Speaking of excellence (and certainly not my own) major tips of the cap are due to Shaun White, Lindsay Vonn & Shani Davis for delivering the Gold up in Vancouver. I suppose I should also say congrats to Evan Lysacek for stealing the gold from Plushenko. He skated one hell of a program. I am loathe to admit it but if you have seen as much figure skating as I have in my lifetime, you too could tell what jumps they are doing or falling out of when they skate.

We may be the only house in town that still has a tree in their yard lit up with Christmas lights. My lovely wife & rottem kids like it so it stays plugged in. I will admit that it does look kind of cool out their all alone in the absolute darkness of night. I think one of my resident foxes thinks so too because I saw him sitting & looking at the tree the other night though I have a feeling he was probably more interested in the birds inside the tree.

Speaking of flying, last week it was too fat to fly and this week is was too smelly to fly. I will be more than happy to help out the flight crews when they need to start figuring out who is too stupid to fly.

And while we are talking about airlines, the baggage fees are wreaking havoc inside the planes as people try to bring bigger & bigger suitcases onto the plane. My last flight saw an old woman board the plane with a bag as big as an armoire and I think her husband had the kitchen sink in his bag. I realize that being a TSA agent is a thankless job but how in God's name did these people get those bags through the screening process anyway ?

Who Dat won the SuperDuperbowl ? Who Dat predicted the Saints would win back in September ? Who Dat strained his shoulder patting himself on the back ?

How happy do you think Harry Reid really is that a president with a 3 election losing streak is coming to campaign for him ?

They sell Get Well cards. Do they sell Get Even cards too ?

The last block leading up to my office is all downhill which is quite apropos if you ask me.

And speaking of downhill, that's the direction this blog has been taking since it got deleted the first time. So that's the view for now from Behind The Shades...swampy abides

Friday Blog = Fail

I just wrote my first Friday blog in I don't know how long and Blogspot lost it. That's what I get for trying to type it straight in to save some time.

Maybe I can try again later but I am sure my train of thoughts won't be on the same track.

swampy is not abiding.....

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The SuperDuperBowl Menu Review

The city of New Orleans and the whole state of Louisiana got a 74 yard head start on Mardi Gras last night when Tracy Porter stepped in front of Reggie Wayne, made off with a Peyton Manning pass and sprinted for the end zone. It was moment that will live in infamy and will be talked about for years. I wish I could say the same about my SuperDuperBowl Menu. It was good but it wasn't 43 years worth of frustration good. So let's see what I made.

1. Cubano Potato Skins - I shredded some pork & some ham (rather than thin slices), mixed in some mustard & relish (to take the place of the pickles) and topped with swiss cheese. A definite keeper for future Miami SuperDuperBowls.

2. Pulled Pork Paninis - I was in the Louisville airport the other day and saw a bottle of Wild Turkey BBQ Sauce staring at me from the shelf in the overpriced souvenir store. By the time I got to my gate it was safely ensconced in my carryon bag somewhere between my dirty shorts & socks. I pulled it out yesterday and mixed it with some shredded boneless pork ribs, sautéed vidalia onion & monterey jack cheese. Slapped it inside a mini portuguese roll and pressed them so they looked like little footballs. Nice understated taste that the kids loved. I kind of wish the Wild Turkey BBQ had a little more OOMPH to it.

3. Crawfish Cornbread (aka Crayfish Cornbread here at allrecipes.com) - I have made this once before and probably should have looked for my review or notes from that last time before I made this again. The recipe does call for a box of instant corn muffin mix so I used my Basic Corn muffins recipe from here instead. While the color is interesting, the taste is a touch flat. It could use some heat but I was reluctant to add any because of the kids. I could definitely see this somewhat polenta like cornbread serving as the base upon which a rich creole tomato based type of sauce is poured over. I still liked it and it was at it's best when it first popped out of the oven.

4. Orange Honey Chicken Wings - I have been making these for so long I can do them in my sleep. The secret ingredient is a healthy splash of Uncle Dougie's Chicken Wing Marinade. Not sure what I will do when my supply finally runs out but I am sure I will come up with something. The other ingredients include oj, honey, key lime juice & mustard. Low & slow heat makes the meat just fall off the bone.

5. Hot Asparagus Crab Dip - My lovely wife always requests one dip and every year I make something different. This year asparagus was on sale when I waltzed thru ShopRite so this year asparagus got it's turn as the main ingredient. Throw in some red pepper, red onion, lime juice, sour cream, plain yogurt, crab and a Key West seasoning blend I found a few years back and we were good to go. I threw it in the oven at the same time as the wings and it came out hot, condensed & very dippable. I probably will not see any of the leftovers on this one.

6. Cheddar Bacon Deviled Eggs - The name pretty much says it all. Why make regular deviled eggs when you can jazz them up. Again it is another recipe that actually would improve with the addition of some Chipotle Tabasco but I left it out to appease the kids.

7. Yellow Split Pea & Apple Dal with Coconut Tarka - one too may flight delays led to my reading about various pea & bean dishes in the NY Times one trip and a recipe that called for Mung Beans, Apples & Coconut Milk just jumped out at me. Now I couldn't tell you what a Mung Bean looked like if it was in front of me & labeled. On top of that, no store around me has any exotic or even different dried beans so I decided to take a slightly different direction and go for orange split peas. Well no luck on finding those either so I had resigned myself to trying with lentils though I wasn't really thrilled with that option. as it turned out, I had to make one last stop at the store for a few forgotten items and came across a lonely pack of yellow peas which soon made friends with the rest of the forgotten items in my basket. While the peas, apples & coconut milk simmered away, I made a "Tarka" of butter, ginger, scallions, lime juice, shredded coconut & turmeric. The recipe called for mint leaves (unnoticed & forgotten at the store) so I went for a dash of mint extract. The result was a very different sort of dish for my family that was liked but technically not SuperDuperBowl food. It is getting a second chance by being served over rice with the grilled chicken for dinner tonight.

8. Alligator Chili - The latest addition to the allrecipes.com family (I now have 12 recipes to my name) is a SuperDuperBowl favorite. I used yellow & red peppers and some smoked paprika in addition to the recipe on the site and once again I am going to modestly say, I smacked that sucker out of the park. If I didn't tell you it was gator, you would never know and I guarantee that you will be asking for seconds. Gator Chili will be my dinner tonight.

9. and finally, we topped it all off with a trio of mini-sundaes. I took mini-phyllo dough cups and baked them. then I scooped melon ball sized scoops of vanilla/chocolate, cookies & cream and mint chocolate chip into each cup. Drizzled Top Hat hot fudge over the trio and then topped it with whipped cream & multi colored jimmies. It looked like mardi gras in a bowl.

So that was this year's offerings for the SuperDuperBowl. I appreciate all the ideas that were floated to me on previous blogs & websites and some of those ideas will see the light of the day or the light inside my oven in the weeks to come. I am just glad that my wife was happy and that the kids ate it all too. Most of all I am THRILLED that the Saints won the SuperDuperBowl.

That's what's cooking Behind The Shades until next time when maybe we should discuss kitchen disasters. Lord knows I have had a few of those...


Originally posted at http://allrecipes.com/Cook/107227/BlogEntry.aspx?postid=156129