Weekend thoughts

Well, at around 6 I finally got my lazy ass off the couch, went and got some food, and started a load of laundry. That’s really about all I accomplished this entire weekend and I’m cool with that. There’s something to be said for a weekend of doing nothing. I just ate good food, drank some good beer, and watched a lot of good football. My Dawgs won last night and my Falcons won today, with the added bonus that the New Orleans Saints, who have some of the most annoying fans on earth…lost.

So life is good even if I spent more time lying/sitting on a couch for the last 72 hours than anywhere else. The only negative is that I was too lazy to cook tonight so I drove to Zaxby’s to get food. There’s nothing wrong with Zaxby’s…if you don’t have it in your area it’s a chicken finger fast food place basically. As far as fast food goes it’s on the higher end, but it’s still greasy fast food…and I always seem to forget that while I might enjoy eating it, unless it’s 2am and I’m drunk, I’m going to feel shitty afterwards.

I don’t know if it’s a mental or physical thing for me. I would assume mental because I don’t think the large amounts of fats and transfats and who knows what else I just ate have already found their way into my bloodstream. I think it’s more the thought that I just ate a bunch of stuff that’s horrible for me that makes me feel like crap. Eating fast food just makes me feel lethargic these days.

It’s not like I’m eating a diet of egg whites, fish, and kale at home. I eat a fair amount of red meat, not enough vegetables though I try, and late at night I might cook some pretty unhealthy crap, but outside of the most processed foods, anything you cook at home is probably 10 times better for you than anything from a fast food place.

Anyway, enough whining about that. I’m trying to figure out what I should do with the rest of my night. I should do some schoolwork but why spoil my full weekend of indolence by doing something constructive?

I’m like three episodes behind on Breaking Bad now and I think I forgot to DVR one of them so I’ll probably have to buy it on itunes or something. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I’m probably one of the few people under 40 that actually buys stuff instead of looking for it on torrents or whatnot.

I used to use limewire and such to get free music but got sick of having to find a new program every few months when the last one got shut down, and taking the chance of getting malware on my computer, and because I figured I was just unlucky enough to be one of the 5 people out of millions that the recording industry used to take to court to make an example of every so often.

So it’s not for any real moral reasons but I buy all of the media I consume: partially out of laziness and partially out of it probably being the right thing to do. If I had anything worth selling I’d probably be pissed if people were stealing it.

I just wish that the media companies would wise the fuck up and not make it so difficult to get their product if you’re willing to pay for it. That’s why I love HBO, with the HBOgo thing you can watch any of their current movies and every single episode of every show they’ve ever made streaming whenever you want as long as you subscribe to HBO.

Some other companies, like Showtime for instance, make it next to impossible to watch their shows if you don’t DVR or catch them being broadcast, even if you’re willing to buy them. And I pay for Showtime. AMC is a bit in between in that you can’t watch missed episodes on their website but you can buy them on itunes…which is annoying but at least an option.

I just find it annoying how so many companies refuse to realize that their old model of doing things doesn’t work anymore. And with the big cable companies trying to get into the content war I’m sure it’s only gonna get more complicated and worse as it goes.

Anyway, enough rambling for now. Hope everyone has had a great weekend and thanks for reading.

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My exciting Friday night!!

Well, as I said earlier, my dinner with a friend was called off, so I’ve been just having an amazingly exciting night. Went grocery shopping for the weekend so I can stay home and watch football all day tomorrow.

Got some decent looking steaks for one night…I wanted to roast some bone-in chicken breasts but couldn’t find any that weren’t tyson or perdue so I ended up buying a whole chicken and breaking it down. Not as easy as you’d think and pretty messy but I got it done. Definitely a different experience than pulling out the prepackaged boneless skinless breasts so many of us are used to.

I’ve been cooking some boiled peanuts all day too. If you’re not from the south you probably are wondering why someone would boil a perfectly good peanut when you could roast it, but I guess it’s like grits, something you just have to grow up with to understand. It’s been really hard to find the green, raw peanuts that you use to make them this summer. I think there was a bad harvest or something because Georgia grows a hell of a lot of peanuts and they are usually abundant and cheap.

After cleaning up all that stuff I’m just sitting down for a few mins, comtemplating a nice, hot bath.

Well, that’s kind of embarrasing, I misspelled deity in the title of one of my earlier posts and just now noticed it. I have a rather odd method of self editing: for the most part I just write whatever I’m thinking and hit publish. Then I’ll go back later and notice spelling or grammatical errors and correct them. I’m actually kind of a stickler for grammar and spelling so it’s odd that this is how I write.

Sadly or amusingly, depending on your point of view, I remember a girl I used to chat with ages ago that said she hated people with bad grammer: it wasn’t until she said something that pissed me off that I pointed out that she should probably learn to spell grammar properly before she judged others…obviously it didn’t go over too well..lol.

I’m also trying to slightly regain my ability to write with something at least resembling proper structure. Years of texting, IMing, chatting, and emails have definitely given me some bad habits. I’m trying to rid myself of the overuse of “….” but it’s harder than I’d have thought. And sadly I don’t think that lol is ever going to completely go away.

I’m almost done with “The Kitchen House”. As I said it has perhaps a tiny bit too much romance in it for a big, strong man like me(not really), but it’s been pretty enjoyable. It is though one of those books where you spend half of it annoyed at the main character and how stupid or clueless they are, but that’s not always a bad thing. And as I had previously mentioned, as historical fiction it has some interesting portrayals and tidbits in it. I’d say it’s been worth the $6.95 I spent on it.

I really need to sit down and watch some tv tonight. I’m several episodes behind on Breaking Bad, one of my favorite shows, and I’m amazed I haven’t had something big spoiled for me yet. I think the only show I’ve really recommended on here was Homeland, but if you haven’t watched Breaking Bad I highly suggest you find the previous seasons on dvd somewhere cheap and watch them, it’s really a great show, and this is the final season of it.

Anyway, I think I’m off to take a bath. I might post some more later. I hope everyone has a great weekend, thanks for reading, and Go Dawgs!!

Thank Random Deity It’s Friday!

Well, my day is mostly done, just finishing up a few odds and ends and then my weekend officially starts. I had originally had plans for dinner with a friend for tonight but those fell through at the last minute, so looks like I am back to my original plan of doing absolutely nothing but watching football, catching up on my DVRed shows, and maybe watching a movie or two. Depending on where you’re sitting, that could sound kinda sad since most likely this will all be done alone, or pretty damn good. I fall on the side that it sounds pretty damn good.

I certainly wouldn’t mind having a friend or two over to watch the games, but as I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t actually know very many fans of my particular team, and most of my friends are married with kids, so not exactly overflowing with free time on the weekends. We’ll probably get together a few times during the college football season and cook out at someone’s house, but that’s about the limit of my exciting social life these days, and I don’t really mind that. I certainly did enough partying for 5 people in my younger days, so one of the few things about being 35 that doesn’t bother me is that it’s considered fine for me to not have to go out to bars and party anymore.

Still haven’t decided if I’m going to fire up the smoker tomorrow and make some of my in my mind famous ribs. It’s a bit of work, not really cooking them, but cleaning the smoker in advance and getting it ready to go, but the results are usually worth it. I’m definitely going to be using a grill in some shape or fashion tomorrow. Might just have to do my Woodchuck cider and Dale’s marinated pork tenderloin instead.

By the way, if you don’t live in the south you probably have no clue what Dale’s is. It’s a soy sauce based marinade called Dale’s Steak Seasoning. I actually rarely use it on steaks as it can be a bit overpowering, but it’s pretty damn good to marinate chicken or pork in, especially if you mix it with some apple cider or beer to cut some of the saltiness and give it a sweeter, more complex flavor. Chicken or pork marinated in this way turns out great when grilled. So if you happen to notice it in the condiment/marinade section of your local supermarket, give it a try: just remember to use it sparingly as it can be very salty, and to mix in some other things with it…beer…cider…worcestershire sauce…etc.

My philosophy on steaks is quite different from that of chicken or pork. I don’t marinate my steaks, just brush a bit of olive oil on each side, and then liberally season both sides with my various spices and spice mixtures that I’ve discovered I like over the years. Always large grain salt and fresh pepper, usually some garlic and onion powder, and then generally some spice mixtures..depending on my mood. Cavender’s Greek seasoning is a good one for steaks for instance. Toss said steaks on the grill, cook them to medium, and you’re good to go. The taste of the beef is enhanced by the spices, but still comes through. Marinated steaks to me tend to be all one note.

Anyway, now that you’ve heard another manifesto from me on food, I told you, I take my food seriously..lol..I’m off to finish up a few last things before I’m free for good. I’ll write some more in a little bit I’m sure. Hope everyone is having a great Friday and thanks for reading.

Famous recipes: “The Best Chicken EVER!”

Still not tired yet, though I’m hungry and considering cooking something, which made me think of some “famous” recipes of mine that I alluded to in a previous post. It’s more about the stories than the actual recipes but here goes:

“Best Chicken in the World”: the ingredients are basically one whole chicken per person, at least a 12 pack of beer per person, a hole in the ground, charcoal, and some sort of cover.

So the story behind this wonderful recipe is that and some college friends of mine and I went on a whitewater rafting trip up in TN on the Ocoee River some years ago. The rafting trip was fun, some of the people that went ended up going home, but myself and three other friends had decided in advance that we were going to camp out up there. My friend Chris, who is Mr. Prepared, had already bought a whole chicken per person for dinner..he tends to overbuy.

We weren’t originally sure where we were going to camp and noone brought a grill so he and my friend Collin had decided that they were going to dig a hole in the ground, put some charcoal in it, and cook the chickens in that. I’m not sure if this had been decided in advance or if it came up during the rounds of beers that we stopped for after the rafting excursion. Disclaimer: I was actually not drinking at all during this time in my life so I was basically the sober guy who gets to laugh at all the drunks.

Anyhow, we ended up finding out that the rafting company had some campsites on their land so we decided to stay there. The only problem was that when we got to the site, it actually had a perfectly good charcoal grill there. But by this time Chris, Collin, and probabaly Jared too, were getting pretty hammered, and they were bound and determined that they were cooking this chicken in the ground.

So they pull out a shovel, dig the hole, throw a bag or two of charcoal in it, and then I think it was Chris that actually pulled out plyers or something and took the lid off the perfectly good grill to cover the hole while the chickens were cooking.

A few hours later, the chickens were done, and by this time, the level of drunkeness had risen accordingly for everyone but me. I don’t know who first proclaimed it, but when he did, all 3 agreed that this was literally “the Best Chicken EVER”. I was sober and it wasn’t bad as far as chicken goes but I can say I’ve probably had better…but I just nodded along at the time.

And since Chris had bought 4 whole chickens for 4 people, we had way too much of this amazing chicken, so several of the guys decided that they needed to share this culinary masterpiece with people at nearby campsites: so picture drunken guys stumbling around with partially mangled chicken carcasses, scaring kids and who knows else and proclaiming to all that they must try this “Best Chicken Ever”. I’m surprised the cops didn’t get called on us really but most of the other campers were hippie types.

Needless to say, the night went downhill from there, but it was pretty damn fun even for me as the lone sober guy. So there’s the story behind the “Best Chicken EVER”. If you ever try the method and recipe and have enough beers in you, you too might realize what an amazing food this is…and every time we cook chicken now, this story gets brought up.

The next recipe is the “Better than Sex” chocolate chip cookies. Disclaimer: no woman that has been with me has said this..there’s a story behind it.

I honestly don’t really feel like typing out the whole recipe right now but maybe I will at some point. It’s not mine, I got it from a great cookbook put out by the Cooks Illustrated people. I believe it’s called “The New Best Recipe” and it’s excellent. I’m a big fan of chocolate chip cookies and I’d say their recipe makes some of the best I’ve had: nice and thick and chewy.

Anyway, I was going to a 4th of July cookout at some friends’ house and I thought it might be nice to take something so I made a batch of these cookies and brought them. Everyone seemed to like them, especially one girl that none of us seemed to know, must have been a friend of a friend of a friend. She was rather drunk, and with an almost perfect sense of timing at a lull in the general hum of conversation, she loudly proclaimed “OMG, these cookies are better than sex!!” It quieted the room and then everyone sort of laughed but also felt bad for her boyfriend, who was standing right next to her when she yelled this out. Poor guy.

So that’s the story of the “Better than Sex” cookies, even years later my friends request them and always ask for the “Better than Sex” cookies. Not quite as good a story as the “Best Chicken Ever” but still a memorable one that gets brought up in my circle of friends fairly often.

Post dinner ramblings

Well, after my food manifesto of earlier I had a nice dinner of grilled chicken tenderloins(organic of course :P) with a mustard bbq sauce, some saffron yellow rice, and a nice spinach/spring mix salad. I’m trying to eat a bit healthier these days in terms of fat intake so less red meat unfortunately, although I’m pretty sure this weekend that will go out the window when I’m watching football.

Somehow after my house being spotless last weekend, it’s already in need of cleaning again, and I need to wash just about every piece of clothing I have..ugh. I don’t really mind doing laundry per se, I just hate folding it. Sadly I’m one of those single men that often hunts through the dryer to pick out what he’s going to wear that day. It’s actually kinda funny because I’m really a pretty domesticated guy for being single. Having a single mom that works when you’re growing up tends to do that for ya. I’ve been doing my own laundry for years and years, learned to cook at a pretty young age, can even iron a shirt in a pinch. You’d think I’d be a catch for some lucky woman..lol.

I’m a bit over halfway through “The Kitchen House” and I’m actually enjoying it. It’s a tad bit romancey for my liking but it has a lot of really interesting portrayals of life on a Virginia plantation in the late 1700’s.

I’ve been listening to The Hold Steady pretty much all afternoon and I honestly think they are the best rock band of the last 10 years. You might not agree with me and think that’s sacrilege, but I don’t think anyone in the rock genre can tell a story like Craig Finn. I’ve been listening to them since Separation Sunday in ’05, which was almost a rock opera of an album: introducing and following characters through the seedy underbelly of life. Since then they’ve gone a bit more conventional album route, but they still tell great stories. From the lapsed Catholic Holly(short for Hallelujah), to all the drunks and hookers and addicts of the streets, to poet John Berryman talking to the devil before he jumps off a bridge, to the poor boyfriend and his painkiller addicted girl that can always pick the winning horse at the track…just so many great characters, lyrics, and of course great rock music. I might post a few more of my favorite songs of theirs, but if you haven’t heard them before, check out the Weekenders vid in my music section.

Well, I need to go get some laundry started. I’ll try to write some more later..I seem to get the most views when I post at night so people can have something to read the next day. And before I go, I don’t usually shamelessly plug stuff on here, but a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous but has given me a lot of support on this blog has started a blog that some of you might find interesting. As you can tell from the name, it’s adult oriented so click at your own risk, but she’s a good writer and it’s definitely a titillating subject, even more so since it’s true: http://swingwithusmaybe.wordpress.com/

Anyway, like I said, off to laundry and I’ll try to write some more later…and I promise no more plugs.

 

Food

So I went grocery shopping today and now I’m thinking about what to cook for dinner and that got me thinking about my somewhat convoluted and odd thoughts on food.

Going grocery shopping at quality stores is one of the main things I miss about living down in the city. Up here there’s an Ingles, which isn’t horrible, and a few other chains that I wouldn’t even bother to go to. So it’s pretty much Ingles or nothing; I refuse to buy anything other than staples/dry goods at Walmart on the occasions I have to go there. Not to sound all conspiracy guy or nutty, but I don’t like the quality of the meat there or how only god and they know where it comes from.

I’m not really a wholesale organic food nut, but I do actually put a lot of thought into the quality of the stuff I buy, particularly meat, fruit, and vegetables. It doesn’t have to be organic, but I’m trying to buy stuff that’s actually in season and hasn’t been on a ship or plane on its way to me as far as fruit and veggies go.

When it comes to meat, it gets a lot more complicated. I don’t totally buy into the Whole Foods concept: a lot the ideas about the stuff they try to sell you is bullshit, but the one thing I’ll say for them is that they have quality meat and chicken, that is at least marginally raised better than the mass market stuff.

Part of my whole thinking about this sort of thing started when I read a great book by Micheal Pollan called the “Omnivore’s Dilemna”. He comes from a journalism background I believe and he sets out to follow the chain back to it’s beginning of four different meals: one from McDonald’s, one from stuff he bought at Whole foods, one from foods that he got from a selfsustaining farm in Virginia that he worked on for a week, and one from what he could hunt and gather in his area of Northern California.

Along the way he visits cornfields and food science labs, feedlots where mass market cattle are fattened on corn before slaughter, organic lettuce operations in the Salinas Valley of California, and the aforementioned self sustaining farm. It’s not one of those books that’s going to make you never want to eat a steak or chicken again, but it is one that will make you think more about the choices you make and what you choose to buy and to put in your body.

When you hear about a lot of the policies of the USDA as far as the raising of animals and food safety, it will definitely make you stop and think. And when you learn about the growth of the organic industry and how easy it really is to have something certified organic nowadays, and how many times the organic farms are just as big as the regular ones. How a free range chicken can simply mean that the chicken has a small door that it could theoretically use to go outside, but rarely does, it will make you take those labels with a large grain of salt.

One of the main things that I took from the book is that you have to make compromises whenever you buy food, be it at Walmart or Whole Foods. Unless you’re rich or live on a farm, you’re never going to be able to get truly “organic” or happily raised food.

My compromise is that I try to find the best quality food I can, as much for taste as for health. I look for beef, pork, and chicken that is hormone and antibiotic free, and vegetarian fed..ie..not fed byproducts from other animals. That’s not always easy to do at all up here at the aforementioned Ingles. There’s been plenty of times where I’ve felt like roasting or grilling some chicken one night but all they have that day at the store is Tyson or Perdue mass factory farmed chicken, which I just can’t make myself buy anymore.

I don’t have anything against those companies or anyone that buys their product, I just have made the decision to try to buy better stuff. The compromise that I make is that I’m not going to any farms to make sure my vegetarian fed chicken is actually hormone and antibiotic free. I don’t know if it lives any better of a life than a chicken on a Tyson contracted farm. But I do know that to me at least, it tastes better and I’m willing to pay the extra dollars to buy it over the cheaper stuff…and even if it is all bullshit, it gives me peace of mind in some way.

It’s basically impossible to find grass fed beef up here and I’m not always a huge fan of it anyhow..so I’m sure that the “organic” beef I buy is probably fattened on corn like virtually all beef, but I at least want to know that it’s not pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, or fed pieces of other cattle…which is most likely how mad cow disease started by the way: cattle being fed byproducts from other cattle, including diseased brain tissue.

Anyway, as I said, I’m not a total organic nut. I still buy plenty of mass produced foods and I’ll stop at a fast food place now and then too. I don’t judge people for the choices they make, but I can afford to buy better quality stuff so I do. I love to cook and that probably has as much to do with it as any moral or health concerns: to make the best meal you have to get the best ingredients that you can, and I try to do so.

I also realize that I’m a hypocrite in a lot of my ideas, I don’t go to the farms and see if what I’m being told is actually true. I’m honestly not terribly worried if the life of the chicken I eat kinda sucks as long as it’s not being dosed up on shit that can affect MY health. I’m not particularly a moralist when it comes to food and animals, I like meat and I’m going to continue to eat it; I’m just a guy that went from not giving any thought about what I buy to cook, to one that actually gives it a good bit of thought.

As I said, I don’t judge anyone for what THEY choose to do. Life is full of choices and compromises and you may think my way of thinking is stupid or pointless, and I respect your right to do so, and I hope I haven’t scared anyone off from eating meat for a few days with this post, as that certainly was not my intention.