Friday, July 27, 2012

Best of the British (Olympics and Music)

Rumors are swirling around the Twitter-sphere about whether Sir Paul McCartney will be singing Hey Jude, Yesterday or Imagine at the Opening Ceremony. Hopefully, they won't pull the plug on him like they did at a recent jam session with The Boss. Whatever he has planned, it's sure to be historic. Other rumored performers include: The Who, Muse, The Rolling Stones and Adele. Wondering what else is planned? This link from the London Olympic website explains everything from Receiving the Head of State to the Parade of Athletes and the Official Opening of the 2012 Olympic Games.

They note: A total cast of 15,000 will take part in the London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies, which will be watched by an estimated audience of four billion. Tremendous, awesome, incredible when you think about the number—four billion!

As far as the Closing Ceremony goes, the London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) announced that the Ceremony would be titled ‘A Symphony of British Music’. The theme will celebrate the fact that music has been one of Britain’s strongest cultural exports over the last 50 years. Organisers will work with some of the country’s most globally successful musicians, along with some of the industry's stars of tomorrow.

In honor if the London Olympics and British music, I’m posting a Best of the British Playlist. Several years ago while visiting our sister in Chicago, we strolled into a Virgin Mega Store and I found this CD. I’d really like to tell the person(s) who compiled this I dug the list then, and I still do. It’s filled with popular artists, but some of the selections are unexpected. Not everything is stellar, it's just a sampling of British music, but I highly recommend Bus Stop, Tubular Bells (suspense/horror film fans will recognize the tune) and the acoustic version of Days Go By. Definitely worth a listen.


1.    Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield
2.    Heroes by David Bowie
3.    Church of the Poison Mind by Culture Club
4.    Ever Fallen in Love? by The Buzzcocks
5.    Right Here, Right Now by Jesus Jones
6.    A Message to You Rudy by The Specials
7.    Girls on Film by Duran Duran
8.    Bus Stop by The Hollies
9.    If You Leave by Orchestral Maneuvres in the Dark
10. It’s My Life by Talk Talk
11. More Than This by Roxy Music
12. Days Go By (Acoustic version) by Dirty Vegas

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp

You could say I like to experiment in the kitchen. When just a child, I pulled all the pimentos out of a jar of olives and stuffed each one full of cottage cheese. Do you know how hard that is? Olive openings are pretty tiny and trying to get anything in there by hand is difficult. I tried several methods including fingers, spoons, knives and eventually got it in there with a fork. Well, it was really just a single fork tine, but I did it. It required plenty of practice and patience. Apparently, I had a lot of free time then, more than I seem to have since I got older. (Anyone else suddenly have a taste for bleu cheese olive martinis. Anyone? Too early?)

When I was offered the opportunity to test this seafood paella, my adventurous side took over and I thought, This might be fun, I’ve never made paella before. After peeling and deveining what seemed like all the shrimp in the sea, wrapping and breaking pasta noodles into just the right size pieces and creating a week’s worth of dirty dishes, I ended up with an impressive dish for sure. I’d tweak it for our family’s tastes, but if you want one of those serious dishes for serious company, this could be it.

I’d make sure to allow yourself plenty of time. Oh, and get the fishmonger to peel and devein the shrimp. I would have, except I was tight on time and bought the only fresh shrimp available.

Here’s a helpful Cook’s Illustrated video, they make it look so easy!

You can find the recipe on their site or in the July/August 2012 Cook’s Illustrated issue. I highly recommend serving the aioli along with it, yum! Here are some work in progress photos as well. Enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Are things really better in Hawaii?

Recently, a present from Hawaii arrived. This note was enclosed. Cheerful colors, lovely handwriting, it's just a pretty note. So, I have a theory Hawaii may have something to do with how sweet this note is. I'd like to prove it, but it would take a second mortgage and lots of convincing/strategizing/begging on my part. I'll just go out on a limb and say if I lived/worked/vacationed in Hawaii, I could probably create a happy note like this one. Anyone want to fund my highly scientific research?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Reads - July 2012

Are you looking for beach reads or something more meaningful? Here’s a short list of what's on my reading shelf, maybe you’ll find some inspiration.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. A bone shaking, drilling-for-gold, zombie adventure.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed. A story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike through the Pacific Crest Trail. Vivid and powerful. When Oprah re-launched her book club this was her first pick.

River Marked by Patricia Briggs. Mercy Thompson series. She’s a VW mechanic surrounded by supernatural forces of good and evil. Briggs writes paranormal, fantasy, women-kick-butt kind of books.

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann. Brilliantly told from five points of view, with a magical elegance and suspenseful dark longing, Tigers in Red Weather is an unforgettable debut novel from a writer of extraordinary insight and accomplishment. She is the great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville. (Barnes & Noble blurb

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner. At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders heads west with her seventy-year-old grandma, hoping to be hired as a television writer. She finds out what TV Land is really like and gives readers a look at the good, the bad and the ugly in TV land.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grilled Short Ribs pack a flavorful punch

I tested a delicious short rib recipe for Cook's Illustrated and thought I'd share it. It's worth trying at least once. The spices complimented the beef well and the ribs came out really tender.  
The cooking time was long and the glaze tasted strong in some spots, but I’d make it again. Next time I’d try the Blackberry Glaze or Hoisin-Tamarind Glaze shown in the July/August issue. Yum! Let me prepare you, when the cumin, mustard and spices heat up it's intoxicating. You'll want to pull them off every ten minutes, but cook until the meat is tender. Pair with a good wine and who cares how long it takes to cook. 

Grilled Beef Short Ribs           
Serves 4 to 6
Note: Make sure to buy English-style ribs that are 3 to 6 inches in length and have at least 1 inch of meat on top of the bone, avoiding ones that have little meat and large bones.

Spice Rub
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 ¼ teaspoon paprika
¾ teaspoon ground fennel
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Short Ribs
5 pounds English-style bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 recipe glaze (recipes follow)

1. For the Spice Rub: Combine all ingredients in bowl.  Measure out 1 teaspoon of rub and set aside for glaze.

2. For the Ribs: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle ribs with spice rub, pressing into all sides of ribs. Arrange ribs, bone-side down, in 13 by 9-inch baking dish, placing thicker ribs around perimeter of baking dish and thinner ribs in center. Sprinkle vinegar evenly over ribs. Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until thickest ribs register 165 to 170 degrees, 1 ½ to 2 hours.

3a. For a Charcoal Grill: Open bottom vents halfway. Arrange 2 quarts unlit charcoal banked against one side of grill. Light large chimney starter half filled with charcoal (3 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour on top of unlit charcoal, to cover one-third of grill with coals steeply banked against side of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

3b: For a Gas Grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on medium and turn off other burner(s). Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature of 275 to 300 degrees.

4. Clean and oil cooking grate.  Place short ribs, bone-side down, on cooler side of grill about 2 inches from flames. Brush with ¼ cup of glaze. Cover and cook until ribs register 195 degrees, 1 ½ to 2 hours, rotating and brushing ribs with ¼ cup glaze every 30 minutes. Transfer ribs to large platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Mustard Glaze
Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon reserved spice rub
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk together all ingredients in bowl.

Friday, July 6, 2012

We do more before 8 am...

Here are photos of the prep of our new walkway and patio. It's taken a long time to realize this part of our outdoor landscape plans, but we're excited to see the results. 

These guys work hard! So glad we didn't DIY this one. :) We just finished another project and this would have put us over the edge. Details about the other project in a future post. 

Mom, you'd be happy to know we let the kids watch and even took some video. Check back later for the work in progress.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just a little work around the house

We have a habit of working more than resting during summer, or in this case having others work. Work started bright and early this morning. When it's finished it'll look amazing (pretty sure). Photos to come. What do you like to do on your summer vacation?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Findlay Area Family – Rattle and Roll Baby Guide

My latest cover story is published in Findlay Area Family. Check out the tips for taking baby photos, nursing and more. Find it online at Findlay Area Family or in the July issue available now.

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