Monday, September 29, 2008

The man and Bobby Feller

There are going to be two major league teams having spring training in the town I'm living in here in Arizona, the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinatti Reds. The players apparently will be on hand for workouts throughout the off-season. They had the dedication ceremony last night and Hall of Famer Bob Feller was on hand to sign autographs. I got a picture signed of Feller pitching to Joe DiMaggio during a Feller no hitter 1-0 at Yankee Stadium on April 30, 1946. Most people just got a signature and left without a word, but I naturally had a few questions. I just found it really cool to talk to someone involved in so much history and told him so, and he seemed happy to hear that. Watching him put on his baseball Hall of Fame sport jacket I was just in awe, and I really enjoyed chatting with someone in such a cool and exclusive club. I asked Feller's opinion on the classic Joe DiMaggio versus Ted Williams debate, and he gave the fairly traditional appraisal that "Williams was the best hitter and DiMaggio was the best ballplayer." I also asked him who he had the toughest time facing, and he said Tommy Henrich gave him fits. Henrich was known as "Old Reliable" for his clutch hitting. Feller also told me he was part of the Navy unit that shelled Garapan, and I found his choice of the word Garapan, not Saipan, interesting. Alex and Carl had fun running the bases, and I'm so looking forward to spring training next year.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Couple of good quotes

One of my favorite shows of all time is the West Wing. I was reminiscing about that show and read an interview with creator Aaron Sorkin, who had this quote on the internet.

"It’s a bronchial infection on the First Amendment. Nothing has done more to make us dumber or meaner than the anonymity of the Internet."

And on the topic of interesting quotes, I loved this quote from Bill Maher on last week's Real Time:

"It seems like our society has two reactions to problems: paralysis and panic. Paralysis would be big long term issues like social security, immigration, health care, energy, the environment. Nothing ever gets done, paralysis. Panic is our other response. 9/11 would be a good example of panic. Attack the wrong country. Start torturing people."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Caption Contest Four

The only downside to my buddy Brad Ruszala being happily involved with a wonderful young woman in Kathy is that I have to feel a bit guilty about caption contest four, so this is purely in jest. My entry is below. Feel free to chime in.
Brad Ruszala runs out of women to woo in Saipan, and moves on to new species.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Laugh until you cry

Has anyone noticed that with this bailout plan for the Masters of the Universe currently being discussed, the responsible idea of setting up a tax to actually pay for this Christmas present for bankers hasn't even been considered. If taxpayers actually got a bill for it, or even a reduced service, there is no way in hell this plan would fly. By adding onto the incomprehensible debt, the impact is more abstract. Also much like the Iraq War cost, which has been put on the credit card entirely and is completely ignored in the budget process, this plan to wipe out the bills of banks that made high risk/high return loans to most anyone to buy or borrow against obviously overvalued assets, adds $2,300 in debt for every man, woman and child, but in reality the burden will be shifted once again onto the younger generation. What is so hilarious, if it weren't so sad, is that these same people scream and moan for deregulation, but as soon as times get bad, their tune changes. After 9/11, the airlines received hordes of corporate welfare, and they responded by charging passengers for a second piece of luggage or for that threat to mankind, water. This situation makes me ill. My friend Shelly, an erstwhile Mt. Carmel teacher and the embodiment of the word itinerant, has a great take on this issue in her blog.

As for something more pleasant, the town I live is opening a spring training facility for the Cleveland Indians. I don't know why they're doing this now, but tomorrow they're opening it up to residents and Hall of Famer Bob Feller will be there to talk baseball and meet the fans. That sounds pretty cool to me. I'll be there.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cooking up a storm

Having a baby and supporting a family of five on one teacher's salary has ended my restaurant faring days for now, so I'm making up for it by cooking a lot, which is more rewarding.

This dish is inspired from something my father used to make when I was a kid.

Chicken with ham and mozzarella in a lemon sherry butter sauce

I pounded thin and sauteed a package of chicken breasts after dipping them in egg and Italian bread crumbs. I then put a slice of deli ham on top and covered it with lots of fresh mozzarella. I then baked the chicken ham and cheese combination for about 8 minutes at 375. I made a pan sauce with 1/4 cup of sherry, 1/4 stick of butter and the juice from one lemon and reduced it. Dad's version, as I recall, used prosciutto and was rolled up with a tooth pick to keep them folded and was called Chicken Pillows. I just used regular ham and didn't bother with the rolling. It turned out real well.

Fresh mozzarella is one of my favorite ingredients to now have access to again. I made an omelet with pico de gallo, deli ham, sauteed garlic and fresh mozzarella this morning, which was a great combination.
I also winged a tilapia fillet dish. I sauteed the tilapia fillets in butter with garlic and shallots, deglazed the pan with a splash of wine, and served them topped with chopped tomatoes and olive oil bruschetta style with lots of chopped, fresh basil. It worked well and tasted healthy also.
Last night I had colleagues over and concluded dinner with Bananas Foster, which has always been a hit. I sliced four very ripe bananas, sauteed them gently in butter, added a splash of banana liqueur and vanilla extract with brown sugar to make a paste, added cinnamon, splashed in some rum, ignited the rum to let the alcohol burn out, and then dropped in some cinnamon, which sparks up and is called Voodoo Dust. It's a New Orleans dessert after all. I then draped the bananas over some french vanilla ice cream. I've also used bread pudding in the past. Yes it's a caloric disaster, so I don't make it as much as the kids demand.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The magic of Google

I found out today that this blog is a first page google search for the term Cilantro Erections, and I just wanted to thank the good people of Google for that promotion.

I also found out today out that there is apparently a positive side to global warming: archaeological discoveries in the melting ice.

In matters of my erstwhile home, Harry Blalock is joining the long list of folks exiting Saipan. My buddy Zaldy Dandan is always spot on in assessing the nonsense of CNMI life, but Harry has also been quietly doing amazing spot on analysis in his Food For Thought blog. How much longer until the only two people left on Saipan are Bruce Bateman and Lil Hammerhead? How sad things have become in my former home. At the same time, the people got what they voted for -- no accountability as they cling to the stubborn hope that it will suddenly be 1992 again and the same old nonsense will work.

Locally, I've written before about what a bunch of mindless ninnies this country has become, but I've noticed a new piece of evidence that is worse in some ways than the no water on airplanes thing and the five shoe checks. I've been carded every time I've had a drink here. I went to watch the Thursday night NFL season opener with some colleagues and they carded me. I bought a margarita at the DMB concert and the same thing happened. If you look less than forty, you get carded in Arizona. The waitress told me that the alcohol board comes in regularly and checks if they actively card 36 year olds who just ordered the first round. What a silly, silly country we have become.

In October, I get some time off from school, and I may make a journey to Sedona and Las Vegas. Vegas is about a five hour drive from Phoenix, and there are other stops on the way like Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon to break that up. I found a couple of cheap Vegas hotel deals on Expedia. There really is so much to do out here that it is amazing. Tomorrow we're heading out to see an Imax film on the Grand Canyon after the NFL season kicks off. The football schedule is much more convenient here, and especially nice on Pacific Time.

In local culinary adventures, I made a lobster ravioli in a sherry cream sauce that disappointed. I wasn't satisfied with the Chicken Marsala I made with it, either. I did make a fabulous turkey dinner last weekend, which now only costs ten bucks being back in civilization. I also made a pasta with squid and mussels in a marinara sauce that rocked, and a pizza with fresh mozzarella that was damn good with my new pizza stone. Trader Joes is another sight for sore eyes. I got fresh mozzarella on the cheap there, some organic french roast coffee and some Thai and Indian curries in a bottle that were both good.

Access to events is also getting me excited. I've seen Dave Matthews and Bill Maher since I got here. I'll catch the Dallas Cowboys here in October. Coldplay comes in November, as does Doug Stanhope. If there is a dive spot in Mexico I can drive to, I've heard Rocky Point is weak, I'll really be happy. Since I may not dive for almost a year, I'm going to try to make up for it and go on a Red Sea liveaboard off Cairo when school lets up. I've been reading a lot of Egyptian history and am really eager to see Egypt. Anthony Bourdain has a great travel/food show on and did a piece on Egypt that intrigued.

On the local level, my kids have adjusted real well to a new school in a new country. Carl, despite being by far the smallest kid in his class, is apparently the top basketball player, and Alex is drawing raves for his artistic ability as a kindergartner. My beautiful daughter continues to get more animated. She moves around more and more. She makes cooing duck noises for about 30 minutes when she wakes up each morning, and I've already come to loath Barney with a degree of intensity normally reserved only for George W. Bush or the Boston Red Sox.

Finally, I found it beyond revolting that people who should be voices for the environment and marine conservation, Sylvan Igisomar and Dr. John Joyner, are out whoring for an incompetent, unpopular moron like Ben Fitial in this idiotic stand against a marine monument in the Marianas. Sometimes I am amazed at how cheaply people sell themselves out. I must, however, give props to that outfit John Joyner is wearing in this video.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Rice with cilantro and lime.

I tried Marascada for the third time and it was indeed the charm. I revised my recipe. It takes longer to make, but is no more difficult and completely rocks. I'm doing all kinds of cooking given that I have access to real ingredients for the first time in a while.

Chipotle is a fabulous Mexican chain restaurant out here. I inquired and got the simple scoop on how to make the delicous Mexican rice they serve.

Cook 1 cup basmatti rice according to directions.
Squeeze in juice from one lime
Add lots of cilantro

That's it. Simple and good. There is a green hot sauce Cuban style I used to eat over rice and beans at a place called Sophies in New York that is my next project.

Me and Elwood

We're putting the band back together!