Hello. My name is Sandra and I’m a “Dancing With The Stars” addict.
Even before local-boy, uh, risk-taking entrepreneur and billionaire, as he was described on the show last night, Mark Cuban, made his debut
Just for the record, I don’t tape it, record it, Tivo it, or otherwise plan my social calendar around it, but I will make a point to read the next day Internet reviews and get the lowdown from my mother should I miss an episode.
It’s a perplexing complex because those who know me well know that I rarely watch TV, though Saturday afternoon PBS cooking shows do catch my eye.
So why “Dancing With The Stars”?
Good question. I’ve asked myself that too.
Maybe it’s the beauty of the dance; the costumes, the rhythm, the creativity of the choreography set to music.
I spontaneously clapped approval following one performance last night.
Glad I was alone; I felt like a nerd.
My fascination with the show goes beyond the fun of the performance for me. It’s the intrigue of watching successful people journey through a challenge completely foreign to how they gained their fame and fortune.
While many contestants make it look effortless, ballroom dancing is not an easy challenge.
But they ante up in front of millions of viewers on live television and pour themselves into the task just for the thrill of it.
It’s a nice parallel to how I want to live my life; ante up and give it all I have.
And when I take the occasional break from chasing my own dreams I like to watch others chasing theirs.
Dance, Mark, dance.
Grilled Marinated Pork Filet I couldn’t think of clever (or polite) tie-in with this pork recipe and “Dancing With the Stars,” other than to say it’s what I had for dinner and it’s worth sharing.
1 small piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 clove garlic peeled
1 tablespoon honey
1 piece jalapeno pepper, size depending on your tolerance for hotness (from 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons nuoc mam, or fish sauce
3 tablespoons water
1 large pork filet (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed of all fat and silver skin
1 teaspoon canola oil
1. Place all the marinade ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until pureed. Pour the marinade into a plastic food bag, and add the trimmed pork fillet. Seal the bag tightly, and shake it until the meat is well coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 8 hours.
2. About 30 minutes before cooking time, heat grill until it is hot. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
3. Remove the pork filet from the marinade, and reserve the marinade in an ovenproof skillet or metal gratin dish. Sprinkle the fillet with the oil, and place it on the hot grill. Cook, covered about 6 minutes, then turn the filet over. Cook, covered for 6 minutes on the second side, until the meat is nicely grilled on all sides.
4. Bring the reserved marinade to a boil on top of the stove. Return the meat to the marinade and place it in 200-degree oven for at least 10 minutes but as long as 40 minutes to rest. Slice the filet, and serve it with some of the juices.
Sandra’s Cooking Notes: • Recipe is from “Jacques Pepin’s Kitchen: Encore with Claudine”.
• I substituted molasses for honey. Who knows what happened to my honey jar.
• I used center cut pork chops and didn’t return them to the marinade after grilling. It was tasty and quick.
• I will give this recipe another try, this time with the whole filet and time in the oven.
• I served it with a kale side dish.
I can count on one hand, one finger actually, the number of times I’ve gone to the movies by myself. I have never been a go-to-the-movies-by-myself kind of girl.
However, I need both my hands and feet including a set of yours to count how many meals I’ve eaten by myself mostly as a solo business traveler.
So what’s a girl to do at supper time when she's alone on the road?
Venture out; there’s an adventure to be had, I say.
But that’s me.
For the not so bold at heart there’s “iTASTE,” the brainchild of the Grand Hyatt DFW.
ITASTE delivers a guided cheese, wine, or chocolate tasting for a solo guest using podcast technology; an iPod loaded with a video specific to their tasting choice is delivered to the guest along with the tasting tray.
Seated at a community table for the tasting in MOKA, the hotel’s Epicurean Boutique/Uber Coffee Bar, chances are that solo guests may not be solo for long.
Community tables are a growing trend in the American dining landscape and rightfully so. In a culture that leans more towards isolation than community, people are hungry (no pun intended) for ways to connect.
Kudos to the Grand Hyatt DFW for the thoughtful blend of technology and hospitality in a hotel where the average stay is a single night or two.
The experience isn’t perfect yet. I found myself wanting more information about the products presented, and I was a bit distracted by my virtual video host whose flickering eyes betrayed his dependence on cue cards.
But the vision is solid and iTASTE is the perfect virtual companion to beckon intrepid travelers from their lonely hotel rooms or to entertain travelers looking for adventure on a layover at DFW Airport.
No need to have an airplane ticket in hand at DFW to experience iTASTE.
The hotel is accessible without going through security at Terminal D so locals can give iTASTE a spin. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a handful of friends with you.
One of my favorite winemaker’s Sauvignon Blanc, Benziger, is included in the wine tasting so I’ll be headed back there soon with friends in tow.
As for the movies - I'll consider going by myself when my iPod can share a bag of popcorn with me.
It’s early August and just as the summer heat is upon us it’s the twilight of the peach season in Texas.
While some orchards have closed, one local grower has a variety that they’re picking through August 9th so it’s not sunset yet on one of my favorite summer treats.
I didn’t hesitate when my neighbor Phil offered some of his peach bounty to me a couple of weeks ago.
Seems his next-door neighbor had a peach tree dripping with fruit, but she had no matching inclination to pick them. Phil relieved the heavy-laden tree of its burden, with his neighbor’s blessing of course, and snagged at least a half-bushel worth of luscious peaches. He used his RV as a makeshift ladder since many of the trees branches were already drooping over on Phil’s side of the fence.
Peach cobbler was my first thought. It would be a fitting end to a dinner with friends who had offered to help me with a garden project.
But with not enough daylight left for the more time-consuming-cobbler-which-means-a-crust-of-some-sort, I opted instead for the fruit-crisp-recipe-with-the-truly-easy-brown-sugar-and-butter-topping approach.
I washed and cut the peaches and easily separated the pit from the flesh. The fruit was beautiful with more of a white flesh than I’ve seen on most peaches.
While I wasn’t sure how well the peaches would accommodate the brown sugar and butter topping with barely a spoonful or two of crisp left, I’d say my guests and their tastebuds approved.
This recipe may be end of life as far as peaches go this season, but consider it a head start for fall apples.
And, remember it next year as the sun rises on the May 2008 peach season.
Fresh Fruit Crisp 6 cups sliced apples, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, or apricots
1 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place fruit in 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with cinnamon, water, and lemon juice. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, level off. In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients; mix with pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over fruit. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
Sandra's Cooking Notes: - This recipe comes from "Sweet and Easy," a 1986 Pillsbury cookbook, the kind that you pick up while you're in the grocery checkout line. I have a stack of these books that I've collected over the years and have enjoyed them even though I rarely buy them now.
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August 23, 2007
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Mexican is the cuisine I crave the most, but cook the least.
I offer no explanation for this contradictory behavior other than I have grown up in and still nest in the middle of Tex-Mex heaven where Mexican restaurants are almost as proliferous as Starbuck’s stores in San Francisco where there’s one on every corner.
But a simple, green, tart, and somewhat mysterious fruit which nature lovingly wraps in a paper-like casing has changed my behavior.
It’s the tomatillo (toe-ma-tea-o), also known as the Mexican tomato, husk tomato, jamberry, or ground cherry.
It’s a cousin to the tomato (yes, the tomato is also botanically a fruit, but declared a vegetable by the Supreme Court in 1893 so it could be taxed) and its name means “little tomato” in Spanish.
You’ve seen it. It’s usually snuggled close to the tomatoes in the grocery store.
You’ve eaten it. It's the primary ingredient in salsa verde.
You’ve probably ignored it.
And so did I until I discovered how effortless it is to make homemade tomatillo sauce (aka salsa verde) and how absolutely delighted my tastebuds were that I did so.
That’s what I’m about: good food that tastes fantastic and is easy to make. It’s not that I’m unwilling to knock myself out in the kitchen. I just like it when I don’t and it tastes like I did.
I serve my tomatillo sauce with chips and salsa, over homemade chicken enchiladas, and fried eggs.
Quick-Cooked Tomatillo-Chile Sauce 1 pound (11 medium) fresh tomatillos, husked and washed; OR two 13-ounce cans tomatillos, drained
2 jalapeno chilies stemmed
5 or 6 sprigs cilantro roughly chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
2 cups any poultry broth
Salt (about 1/2 teaspoon depending on the saltiness of the broth)
1. Boil the fresh tomatillos and chiles in salted water to cover until tender, 10-15 minutes; drain. Simply drain canned tomatillos.
2. Place the tomatillos and chiles in a blender or food processor, along with the coriander, onion, and garlic. Process until smooth, but still retaining a little texture.
3. Heat the lard or vegetable oil in a medium-large skillet set over medium-high. When hot enough to make a drop of the purre sizzle sharply, pour it in all at once and stir constantly for 4 or 5 minutes, until darker and thicker. Add the broth, let return to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thich enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Season with salt.