Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring and Renewal and Feeling Bright

Last weekend we had the first day of Spring and the day was windy and sharp with cool. Spring is more of a state of mind for me at this point, more about the promise I see in the buds on the Turkish Fig tree we planted today and the scent of the fat cream flowers on the grapefruit tree.

We had some homeless folks who are in a work training program come over to do planting and cleaning outside. The man was personable and bright, the woman not so much. It taught me a little about cognitive abilities that I usually don't have to consider. With her, you had to tell her about each thing that needed done twice. Him, no - got it first run and had already found a way to make it better before I could draw a breath.

I'll be looking for grants to write for this group tomorrow. Helping people help themselves is worth spending my time on.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Those little memory flashes...and PIZZA!

Not long ago, I was ticking through pleasant memories to pass minutes on a sleepless night. I went back to my last radio gig, when I had a really good guy as the music director and morning show and I side-kicked for him.
A side-kick just helps the 'funny guy' be funnier. Write some jokes/bits, be the straight man, be a good second banana. I had done that gig for quite a few guys and was usually their boss. The best ever was my friend Chuck who now works in a top 25 market.
I knew he was good from the beginning and I wished he'd come along back during the heyday of personality radio.
This guy taps into the best of everything. He brings joy to the world he looks at and can communicate that from behind a mike. And he isn't a pain in the ass to skeptical people like me.

He found me on FaceBook today and all of my shelved feelings for this little brother of another mother came back. He is, of course, older and his otter-slick black hair is now grey. And I still want good things for him and would cheerfully kick the pins out from under anyone who offered him harm. My poor dear, stuck with friends who haven't lost their redneck proclivities:)

Anyway, in those ancient days when radio was changing and we could record our voices over music on a hard drive and have it sound live, we tested the studio we were getting. We recorded some normal "DJ" time and drove to my favorite pizza place, Barnaby's, a few miles away and sat with a little radio on our table. We ordered pizza and beer and waited for the top of the hour to come to listen to his voice talk up the next song. We looked at each other with eye-brows arched and eyes opened large and then howled and slapped palms. IT WORKED, and radio would not be the same again.

The pizza was wonderful, as it always is at Barnaby's (Tallahassee, FL) and we scarfed it down so we could scoot back to the studios to see what other magic this new thing could help us do.

Publix Pizza dough
16 oz can good crushed tomatoes
Basil, oregano, thyme, sea salt, ground sage
mild Italian sausage, removed from casing and scramble-cooked
sliced white muchrooms and red onions
Mozzerella and Parmesan cheese
Pre-heat oven to 400

Mix the crushed tomatoes with the seasoning, add more to taste.

The closest I have had to create the at-home Barnaby's experience starts with dough from Publix. You do have to work it and stretch it and settle it on a cornmeal-dusted pizza paddle.
Once you get it stretched to a thinness (this dough bakes thick), prick it well with a pastry pronger or sharp-tined fork.
Slide it onto a pizza pan (I like the ones with holes in them, crisper crust) and put on bottom rack of oven for five minutes. Remove, give a few minutes to cool and then add as much of the sauce as you want, add toppings and cook for another 10-12 minutes.

Pour a cold beer, cut the pizza into slices and enjoy it with a friend.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Will it or won't it??

I am waiting for spring to begin and getting a little cranky about it.
I had plans for a nice grilled supper tonight but it was too damn cold to make my poor husband stand outside and tend the fire.
I'll tell you what I have in mind anyway since it WILL happen;)

2 lb boneless chuck roast, marinated
2 lb skinny aspargus, tough ends snapped
two portobellos, sliced thickly
3 bell peppers - red, orange, yellow

Mix a marinade of half cup extra virgin olive oil and half cup red wine vinegar, whisk in 1/8 tsp ground mustard, 1/2 tsp each thyme and oregano, three cloves of minced garlic. Rinse and pat roast dry, put into a bag with marinade, massage marinade into beef. Put in the fridge for at least an hour, optimally overnight.
Wash and dry peppers, turn oven on to BROIL, put peppers onto a cookie sheet covered with foil (so you don't have to wash the cookie sheet) and place under the broiler, Turn the peppers every 5-7 minutes, as teh skin chars, until all sides are charred a bit. Remove from pan and put into a plastic bag, close bag, let rest 20 minutes or more.
When the peppers have cooled, remove from bag, seed and peel. Section peppers into strips based on where the pepper's bracts are, set aside.
Brush a little olive oil on both sides of the mushrooms and sprinkle with oregano and a little time. Put them aside and grill chuck roast to desired steak-eating temp; start mushrooms when you have five minutes of cooking time left. Grill them OFF direct flame until they are fork tender.
Spray a grill tray with cooking mist or brush with oil, arrange asparagus in one layer and place on grill, tossing spears until crisp-tender.
Your cooking should have items come off in this order: chuck roast, mushrooms, asparagus. The roast needs to sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting. The asparagus has to be watched because it will be done quickly.

Cut the roast along its sections and top each with a strip of pepper. Serve with the mushrooms and asparagus, a little good balsamic dribbled over the asparagus is nice:)