Monday, April 30, 2012

What You Should Have Eaten #53

I like to consider myself an expert when it comes to food. I’ve been eating it all my life, so I think that affords me some consideration.

I’ve been cooking for a considerably shorter amount of time, but it does run in the family. My grandfather owned and ran a deli then a coffee shop in a little town in Indiana, and my dad has always been a great cook. My sister and my mom are also no slouches in the kitchen.

Besides the occasional sandwich or bowl of cereal, I never cooked for myself until I got my second apartment in college. Anything fixed in my first apartment was usually something frozen and thrown in the microwave. At that time I still doing most of my meals on campus.

My parents bought me my first cook book, a copy of “Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book” that’s still in my kitchen. It’s pretty basic as far as the types of recipes it includes, but it includes TONS of them.

Right now I’m working my way through Rachael Ray’s “365: No Repeats.” It’s a mostly incredible book that I’m about halfway through. It’s taking me slightly longer than a year to get through because I only get to cook from it once a week. I’m a single father of three wonderful kiddos. I learned early on that the key to keeping your sanity while raising a family alone (well, mostly alone) is to have a steady routine. Between homework, baths/showers, extra-curricular activities, and somewhat early bedtimes, I just don’t have the time to cook during the week. Saturdays are a lot more flexible, but I like to fix something fun for the kids, so I rotate grilled meals (burgers, hot dogs, steaks), taco nights, hamburger helper, etc. These are sure-fire meals that I KNOW they’ll eat. Sunday nights, though, those are for me. That’s when I bust out Rachel and get my cook on. I usually end up doing a slight (maybe major on occasion) variation on the dish to make it a bit more kid friendly, but I try and encourage them to try new foods and dishes.

One thing I’m going to attempt in the coming weeks is to fix these Rachael Ray recipes while keeping an eye on how much money I’m spending. I won’t lie; some of her recipes can result in high grocery bills. I’m going to see what substitutes can be made in order to make the recipes a little more cost friendly.

One thing I DON’T tend to skimp on, though, is alcohol. As I think about what to type here, though, I find that my reasoning for not getting the cheap stuff could also be used to not skimp on ingredients for my meals.

It’s not always true that you get what you pay for, but I find if you spend a little more on alcohol, you’re going to be buying a better product. It’s taken me about 13 years to figure this out.

I was pretty much a straight-and-narrow kid growing up. Before turning 21, I know of one beer I had (a Pete’s Wicked Strawberry Blonde). I’m not 100% sure that I finished it. Once I turned 21, though, I did my best to catch up for lost time. In college, my beer of choice was Miller Genuine Draft. After college, I graduated to Amberbock. Sometime after my first kid was born, maybe around 2005, I discovered craft and high-gravity beer. My life was changed. I joined the UFO Club at Nashville Flying Saucer. I discovered some good places to buy good beer. I’m not necessarily snobby about beer, but I usually won’t drink any big domestics like Budweiser or Miller if other options are available.

I’ve also recently started paying attention to the various brands of liquor I’m buying. I can’t afford the TOP top shelf stuff, but I’ll spend a bit more and stay away from the stuff that feels like it’s melting your throat when you drink it. I like Viking Fjord vodka and New Amsterdam gin. I’ve recently discovered Oronoco rum, and I’ve got a bottle of Cabo Wabo tequila that I haven’t opened yet.

My liquor cabinet also contains a wide assortment of liqueurs, from your more common peach schnapps and blue curacaos to your slightly more off-the-wall piscos, Fernet Branca and Galliano. I have WAY more licorice-flavored spirits in my cabinet than I’d like. I hate the stuff. Tastes nasty.

I've peppered this post with pictures of the liquor cabinet and various pieces of glassware I've got. I like to collect beer and shot glasses. Whenever I travel, I pick up a shot glass from the city I'm in. Whenever I plan a trip to The Flying Saucer, I try and go on Wednesday nights when they sell special brewery glasses. It's a hell of a collection to try and move, though. I also collect beer bottle labels, but sometimes there aren't I collect the bottle. I've also also discovered growlers. Half-gallon of beer? Don't mind if I do.

Next week I’ll be posting meals again. These will be recipes I cook for my family on Sundays, and we’ll see how they turn out. I’ll also be including a mixed drink or two with the meals. Feel free to comment on any of the dishes or drinks. Have recommendations on substitutions? Please, let me know.

BIG BIG BIG REMINDER: When I can remember to add this to the bottom of my posts, I’m going to whore myself out with an impassioned plea: click on the ads. PLEASE click on the ads. I don’t care if you exit out of it immediately or actually look around. This isn’t some professional blog where I believe in the products I’m shilling. These are automatic ads placed by Google. But when you click ads, I get a little bit of money, and as a single father of three, every penny from every source helps. So I’m going to keep this tiny bit of begging at the bottom of my posts, and I hope you’ll take an extra 10 seconds after reading my blog to click on an ad. The only thing it costs you is time. :) Thanks so much!

honeyhoney Song of the Day

This is "Back to You" live from the Esquire House. This song is incredible, but this video is the only way you can hear it since it isn't on either of their albums.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Polly - Walk off the Earth

Thanks to Spotify, I've been able to get a good feel for Walk Off the Earth. What I've learned is that their covers are awesome, but their original stuff sucks pretty hard. Even Sarah Blackwood's solo stuff is just mediocre. She's pretty and she's got a great voice, but her solo stuff does nothing for me.

Here's a cover of Nirvana's "Polly." It's laid back and awesome. Let's have some original stuff like this or "Somebody That I Used to Know" on the new album.

honeyhoney Song of the Day

It's a great band, they're a great duo, she's pretty damn hot, AND they're socially conscious. Here is today's honeyhoney Song of the Day, a live version of "I Don't Mind" from Billy Jack. This video was produced for Feed Them with Music, and you can learn more about them here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

honeyhoney Song of the Day

I'm surprised that I haven't already posted the official video of "Little Toy Gun," but today I wanted to find a live version. It's a slower arrangement of the song and totally acoustic. It's raw and unpolished, and it's awesome. Suzanne and Ben look like they're have SOOOO much fun. No I'm even more excited to see them live. I don't like going to shows and hearing a CD. I want to experience the band and the music. I want to enjoy myself, and I want to see that the band is enjoying themselves, that they're not just going through the motions.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

honeyhoney Song of the Day

Angel of Death

Last year for about a month before I saw the Foo Fighters and Biffy Clyro in Memphis, I would post a daily video from each of the groups to my Facebook account to show just how excited I was to see both of the groups. I'm doing that now with honeyhoney.

I fell in love with honeyhoney's music a few years ago when "Black Crows" and "Little Toy Gun" popped up on one of my Pandora playlists. I don't remember who I was supposed to be listening to, maybe Fiona Apple? Anyways, I got their first CD First Rodeo and loved it. I was excited when Billy Jack came out last year, but it took me a little while longer to get into it. But I did, and now I think it's awesome, too.

I follow honeyhoney on Facebook, and when they posted news about new tour dates, I checked their site and found out they were going to be at The Cannery Ballroom in Nashville with James Morrison. I had to look him up. Not bad, but I'd be completely satisfied if I left right after honeyhoney.

I've also developed a little crush on lead singer Suzanne Santo. I am a total sucker for beautiful girls who can sing.

Here are two videos for the first track off Billy Jack, "Angel of Death." I really don't know how you'd classify honeyhoney, what genre you'd label their music, but this song twangs and drawls like country. I don't like country music. Really. Living around Nashville has not turned me around on that. But I love this song. Is there more country music that sounds like this? I'd listen to that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Exclusive Theatrical Trailer #2 [HD]

This doesn't look good enough to get me to the theater to see, but it looks TONS better than the first movie. Plus, it's got Bruce Willis and Adrianne Palicki in it, so that's better than Dennis Quaid and Sienna Miller. I'll miss Rachel Nichols, though. IMDB has it listed that Ray Park is back as Snake Eyes, so that's good, and it looks like Walton Goggins has himself a small part, and that's awesome.

Jon Hamm and Weird Al Bowling...Together

Think back to, oh, I don't know, 10 years ago. Ten years ago if you dreamed about watching Jon Hamm (who was actually just starting out as an actor, but we're pretending, so it's okay) face off against Weird Al in a game of bowling, you'd be out of luck. Sure, it might happen, but you'd have to read about it in People or one of the other celeb-watching magazines.

But now we've got YouTube.

Thank you, YouTube.

Because of you, people like Chris Hardwick, who I've found to be only mildly entertaining as an actor, can create a nerd haven (Felicia Day has the geeks locked down) and build his rep via the interwebs so much that he can get the creator and three of the stars of Mad Men to battle his nerdtastic team (himself, Weird Al, and two guys I've never seen before) at one of the neatest bowling alleys (a bar with a couple of lanes in it?) I've ever seen. It looks like the winner gets nothing but bragging rights, but the charity of their choice gets a nice donation, and as fans of awesome things, we get eight minutes and 34 seconds of wonderful entertainment.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mansome Trailer

Okay ladies, chime in. Thoughts on what makes a man a MAN? Ron Swanson, Tom Haverford, or somewhere in between?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Update! Yay!

The blog is coming back. 

I don’t know when, exactly…

...hopefully the first full week of May, but it is coming back. While it will pretty much be the same, I’m going to be tweaking it a bit. This is going to turn into a blog focused on doing the things I love on a budget.

So what the hell does that mean?

It means that I’ll only review comics that I buy, not ones I flip through or read in the store. It means that I’ll probably be making substitutes to the recipes I make, especially the Rachel Ray stuff. It means I’ll tell you where I find awesome music for free (legally) or on the cheap. The last time I paid “full price” for an album was last year when the Foo Fighters put out Wasting Light (totally worth it). Ditto for movies.

The first week will probably consist of getting-to-know-me posts. My likes and dislikes within the various topics about which I’ll be posting.

Here’s what I’m anticipating the schedule to look like:

  •          Mondays = Food and Drink. I still do my best cooking on Sunday nights, so Mondays will still be a review of the previous night’s cocktail and cooking. I’m (hopefully) about to jump back into the dating world again, so there might also be quick write-ups on awesome date-type places that can be visited on a budget. The drinky-drink stuff, though, will be less focused on budget and more on taste. I’m a bit of a beer snob, but I try not to be overly snobby about it. If given the choice I will almost always choose any type of beer over a massive domestic like Budweiser, Coors, Miller, etc. I will never judge you for drinking what you drink, though. The same goes with liquor. I’ve discovered that the better tasting spirits are usually the more expensive ones, but I will try and point out good values for good booze if I come across it.
  •          Tuesdays = Movies. I’m going to do my best to watch one movie a week. Between Netflix, Red Box and U-Verse, this should not be a problem. Don’t expect timely reviews of stuff out in theaters, though. Well, when Avengers comes out you can, but I don’t do movies in the theater much anymore because it’s just so damn expensive. But there is the whole dating thing, so I probably WILL be going to more movies. We’ll see.
  •          Wednesdays = Music. I’ve got friends with a wide variety of musical tastes, and I’m discovering new (at least to me) music through them all the time. My routine seems to be:

1.      Find new music
2.      Listen to one song over and over on Youtube
3.      Find the group on Spotify and add their catalog to a playlist
4.      Weed out the songs I don’t like
5.      If I like everything, buy a CD immediately
6.      If I don’t like the whole thing but still enjoy the group’s music for the most part, wait until I can find a deal on the CD
  •          Thursdays = Comic Books. I have significantly whittled down my comic book purchase list. I’m almost embarrassed that it primarily consists of Brian Michael Bendis books. I really dig just about everything he does, though, and budgetary issues have forced me to take a look at what I’m REALLY enjoying on a consistently monthly basis. Right now I’m reading:

1.      The Amazing Spider-Man
2.      The Avengers
3.      The Avengers vs. the X-Men
4.      Brilliant
5.      Locke & Key: Clockworks
6.      The New Avengers
7.      Road Rage (on the bubble)
8.      Secret (I’m going to give this a few issues)
9.      Shade
10.  Ultimate Spider-Man
11.  Uncanny X-Force (on the bubble)
12.  Wolverine and the X-Men
13.  X-Factor

Eight years ago I sold my almost 6,000 issue comic book collection. I had been collecting comics for the better part of 20 years, and I had a collection that I was extremely proud of. But I was about to be a first-time father, and I knew that I would not have the time, the room, or the money to continue this love. So I sold or traded the whole shebang. I sold my autographed comics. I traded runs for trade paperbacks and hardcover collections. Then I sold those. I’m sure what little I made on my collection helped out the family a bit in the short run, but it was the second-saddest/hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Over the past couple of years, though, I got back into the hobby in a big way. I’ve had to cut back again because I was buying WAY too much. But, in an effort to attempt to rebuild my collection, I’m also going to be buying at least two back issues each week, more if there’s stuff on sale or I had a slow week of new issues.
  •          Fridays = TV. I watch a TON of TV. It seems like I’m never freeing up any space on my DVR, but I’m going to attempt to do a better job of watching shows the week they air, if not the day. Also, thanks to Netflix, I’m going to attempt to catch up on shows I passed on the first time around.

·         Also, plan to get funny/awesome videos, just like before. I figure I’ll post them as I see them rather than wait until one massive post.

So that’s the deal. I’ve missed blogging. Things are starting to change again in my personal life, and I always like to think that THIS is the time when I’ll start writing again, when I’ll finally finish that book. It never happens, but it’s nice to dream. But I always use the blog as an excuse to keep up with my writing even when I’m not writing.

If you’ve actually enjoyed the blog in the past and aren’t just one of my friends who I’ve bullied into reading it every now and then, please share it with your friends and bully them into reading it. And I’ll always remind you, if you would be so kind, please click on an ad or two. I get real cash-money from Google if the clicks happen on a somewhat regular basis. Seriously. Last year Google money helped me buy Christmas presents for my kiddos.

I've also got Twitter and Pinterest (yes, I'm a straight guy with a Pinterest account, now shut up) accounts, so feel free to follow me, and I'll probably end up following you. Not in a weird least not so you'll notice.