Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new.

As I write this post Sam is still at the office pulling another all-nighter. I have amused myself for most of the evening folding mountains of socks and underwear and trying to watch a few recorded movies that turned out to be real duds. They were:
  • Sally, Irene and Mary (1938), a story about singing manicurists starring Alice Faye, Joan Davis and Marjorie Weaver. I had to delete this monstrosity almost immediately. I usually like Alice Faye, but even Alice couldn’t save it.
  • The Bells Go Down (1943), described as a comedy about British volunteer firemen during the London blitz in 1939. Nothing about this movie was even remotely funny, particularly James Mason as a loudmouth drill sargent with a Cockney accent. Talk about lousy casting! I deleted this one after the first 15 minutes.
  • Doubting Thomas (1935), a comedy with Will Rogers and Billie Burke. This turned out to be nothing more than a showcase for Rogers to make a bunch of snotty wisecracks during the rehearsal of an amateur play. Maybe someone can explain to me why everybody revered this guy like royalty in the 1930s, because I thought he was a weird, un-funny hick. I watched a “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” rerun instead.
That’s about all for tonight. I’ve just decided there’s no way I can wait up for Sam because he probably won’t be home until 5 a.m. and I’m already so tired I can’t keep my eyes open. I hope y’all have some nice plans for New Year’s Eve. Sam and I want to watch Marx Brothers movies on TCM if we can stay awake long enough. (I think the sofas in our family room are stuffed with chloroform.)
Don’t drink and drive, and — as always — thank you for reading this.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Einstein update.

Here’s a little sidebar to my post from a couple of days ago ... about the Dallas pastor who was arrested burglarizing a parishoner’s home on Christmas Eve. Apparently Sandy McGriff — the Einstein pastor who’s the subject of this story — faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted for breaking into Serita Agnew’s home and stealing her fur coats, jewelry, handbags and a laptop. She’s also facing charges for lying about her identity to the police, who tell us that McGriff already has an extensive criminal record, is known by more than 12 aliases and even has convictions for theft and prostitution dating all the way back to the 1970s. She currently pastors a small church attached to the back of her husband’s furniture store. I believe it’s called Chapel of the Sacred Sectional. Amen, brother, and thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010: The year in review.

It’s been quite a year in Howdygramland. Lots of achievements, milestones and excitement. First, let’s take a look at some important numbers. In 2010 I wrote 52 classic movie reviews, posted 12 of my world-famous recipes, introduced you to nine unforgettable Einsteins, confessed to 18 shopping sprees, alerted you to a nationwide Raisinets recall and why you shouldn’t stuff Vicks VapoRub up your nose, launched our Howdygram Boutique and whined 19 times about medical issues that ran the gamut from dentures to diabetes. I also harpooned a variety of celebrities, wannabes and bozos, including George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth, Hugh Hefner, Marie Osmond, Sarah Ferguson, Bristol Palin, Elvis Presley, Gloria Allred, Jerry Lewis, JonBenet Ramsey, Paula Deen and Liberace ... to name just a few.

As for achievements and milestones, 2010 was the year that Sam and I refinanced our house, planted an Oklahoma Redbud tree in our back yard and took a nostalgic drive on Route 66. I discovered the joy of motorized shopping carts, got my hair cut three times and bought myself a swell new Macintosh computer system, a black aluminum cane, a king-size comforter set and matching bed linens, three pairs of shoes, lots of nice perfume, an Oster bread machine and a Breville panini press. (I like to smell good when I cook.)

In closing, Sam and I extend our best wishes for a happy, healthy 2011. Please don’t forget to enter our New Year Giveaway for your chance to win a prize! Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mongolian Chicken to the rescue.

I got bored with the Eagles/Vikings game tonight so I took a hot shower and switched to a couple of my favorite guilty pleasures ... an order of Mongolian Chicken and a trashy episode of “Millionaire Matchmaker” on Bravo.

In case you’re not familiar with “Millionaire Matchmaker,” each week Patti Stanger helps arrange dates for superficial rich misfits with strange clothes and no social skills. Her clients are all millionaires. The men, regardless of their age, are mostly fixated on blondes and breasts. The women only want George Clooney. After an hour of this unbelievable crap I am more grateful than ever for Sam.
And speaking of Sam, I just found out he’s working late again tonight so I guess I’ll just watch a Debbie Reynolds movie I recorded a couple of days ago — “The Mating Game” with Tony Randall — and make one of my world-famous Goofy Fruity Shakes (see recipe). Thank you for reading this.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Yes, truth is stranger than fiction.

I’ve heard it all now. According to an article on the Dallas Morning News’ website, a local pastor was arrested on Christmas Eve for burglarizing a parishoner’s home. Pastor Sandy McGriff, 52, insists she had “no criminal intent” when police caught her carrying an armload of fur coats out the back door of Serita Agnew’s home in the Oak Cliff neighborhood; Agnew’s other property (purses, jewelry and a laptop) were already in the back seat of McGriff’s Jaguar, which was parked in the driveway. She said she had been driving by Agnew’s home, saw a broken kitchen window and decided to crawl in to make sure nothing had been stolen. A neighbor called police, and when they arrived McGriff told them she was removing Agnew’s valuables in case a few burglars showed up.

Shocked that police arrested her, McGriff also was charged with resisting arrest after she slipped out of her handcuffs twice and tried to kick and scratch officers en route to the jail. McGriff is pastor of the Church of the Living God on Lancaster Road in Dallas.

For your possible amusement, here’s a video of Pastor Einstein doing her best to weasle out of this. You’ll note that she’s sitting on a heap of her own fur coats in an effort to convince everybody that she has to be innocent.

In other news, I just found out that Sam is working late tonight so I think I’ll make popcorn and watch one of those movies I set aside for nights when I’m home alone, which usually includes anything with Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds or Hayley Mills. Tonight’s choice is Pollyanna.
Thank you for reading this.

In case you're wondering ...

I think I have insomnia. I woke up at 4:30 (after four hours of sleep) to eat TicTacs, browse around on the Internet and read stories about lots of snow on the east coast. I’m still not very tired but might consider going back to bed just to warm up. The house is cold because I always turn the temperature down at night ... we’ve got a big poofy comforter and Sam is a world-class “heater man.” I don’t know how he does it, but he generates enough body heat to warm a small city.

Another thing that’s going on right now is, MY STOMACH IS TALKING TO ME. It’s making some of the weirdest noises I’ve ever heard ... a continuous gurgling in two octaves that’s almost musical. I guess I must be hungry, but I don’t want to reheat leftover egg foo young at 5:45 in the morning because the microwave might wake Sam. I’ll wait until 7:30.

By the way, don’t forget to enter our New Year Giveaway for a chance to win exclusive Howdygram “Thank You For Reading This” note cards and mouse pads! Everybody is eligible, including Howdygram employees since we don’t actually have any.

Shalom, y’all.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'll bet she hasn't seen him naked.

I just read a news item on that left me shaking my head. Actually, it left me slightly sick to my stomach, too. Hugh Hefner, 84 — that shriveled, has-been skirt-chaser of yesteryear — got engaged on Christmas Day to his 24-year-old girlfriend Crystal Harris, who was Playboy magazine’s “playmate of the month” in December 2009. (If anybody else finds this more than a little disturbing, please raise your hand.)

I guess I understand what HE sees in HER: an opportunity for legalized pedophilia with a girl who’s young enough to be his granddaughter. Her bridesmaids will probably carry Dora the Explorer backpacks.

But I’m dying to know what SHE sees in HIM. Hefner’s been a nauseating character since the early 1960s, when he championed his alcohol-and-orgies lifestyle on the world’s first reality TV show, “Playboy After Dark,” during which he romped around a sunken living room in silk PJs with a gaggle of publicity-starved 20-year-old bimbos. Hefner was the only person alive who didn’t think that show was really stupid. And I’m thinking this engagement thing is really stupid, too.

I’m going back to sleep now. Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday highs and lows.

Now that Christmas Day is basically kaput it’s time to look back and reflect. It all started way too early (both of us were up by 7:30) so Sam decided to go for a doughnut run to Garland and then drove around afterwards looking for an open McDonald’s to buy me an Egg McMuffin because I had a craving. I was out of luck on that one; McDonald’s was closed. I wasn’t too bummed, however, because Egg McMuffins aren’t very exciting and I already had Plan B up my sleeve: dim sum for lunch at Hong Kong Royal. You can always rely on a good Chinese restaurant for Christmas because it’s the only place to be if you’re Chinese or Jewish. (Sam and I are not Chinese. Draw your own conclusion.)

We both had a very long afternoon nap and slept through most of “Ben Hur,” Sam ate an ice cream sandwich, I made a gigantic omelette for dinner, and then we watched the Cowboys screw up and lose to the Arizona Cardinals 27 to 26. Sam yelled at the TV a lot.

And now, as the day winds down, I can say with complete confidence this was an excellent, event-packed Christmas for two Jewish people in the Bible belt. All that’s left to do is take my final handful of daily pills, eat Cream of Wheat and maybe watch a “People’s Court” that I recorded on Thursday. We also have some “Seinfeld” reruns. Thank you for reading this.

Merry Christmas from the Howdygram.

From our house to yours, Sam and I wish y’all a very happy Christmas filled with lots of presents, excellent food and nothing you want to return.

We really don’t celebrate any holidays around here except for eating matzo omelettes during Passover, so we’ll probably just spend Christmas Day watching holiday movies on TCM and installing new towel rings in the master bath if I can talk Sam into it. Otherwise I can wait for the towel rings until he’s got a week of vacation in January. Contrary to popular opinion, I’m NOT having a towel ring emergency.

Merry Christmas and thank you for reading this.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve excitement in Howdygramland.

First of all, I don’t think anybody will consider this very exciting except ME so I’ll apologize right now for the misleading headline. The big news of the day ... I’M USING A NEW FONT FOR THE HOWDYGRAM. I got tired of the old one a long time ago but didn’t feel too inspired by the alternatives so I never bothered to make a change. Today, I guess, I finally felt inspired. Welcome to our new look.

Second, Sam is at our Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market loading up on Christmas Eve essentials, such as toilet paper, onions, a dozen eggs, Coke Zero and Cream of Wheat. He actually tried shopping at Tom Thumb first (they carry his favorite Perrier flavors) but he said it looked like the Calgary stampede and you couldn’t even find parking. So he adjusted his plans and called a couple of minutes ago from the hot cereal aisle at Wal-Mart to find out if I wanted my Cream of Wheat with brown sugar in instant packets or plain in a regular pour-your-own box. (I chose the latter.) It just isn’t Christmas without Cream of Wheat.

Tonight, weather permitting, we’re hoping to drive around looking at Christmas lights. I say “weather permitting” because there’s a monstrous storm front of very wet crap on the way, as pictured in the map from that appears below for your possible interest. The little red location pin is Mesquite. If you zoom in you can see me waving.

Incidentally, what you see on this map is NOT winter weather. The temperature here today is 40°, so we’re getting ordinary rain and probably thunderstorms. Due to a lack of snow Santa will arrive tonight in a Chevy Volt. Thank you for reading this.

Einsteins: they're everywhere.

Yesterday at 6 a.m. a mob of 500 local Einsteins showed up at Town East Mall in Mesquite to be first in line for a limited number of stupid new Air Jordan sneakers ... the “Cool Grey 11,” which sell for $200 a pair. Apparently this didn’t work out very well, because Mesquite police officers and a couple of security guards had to use pepper spray to control the crowd when everybody tried to storm through the main entrance. Merry Christmas from the friendly merchants at Town East Mall.
On Wednesday night another local Einstein crashed his car into a tree on George Bush’s front lawn here in Dallas. The driver was apparently on his way to visit somebody else on the same street, prompting Secret Service spokesman Max Milien to say, “There is no indication that there was any interest in the former president.” (I guess that’s true for the rest of us, too.)

On a totally unrelated subject, I tried another new product from Schwan’s this week ... unbelievably tasteless Green Bean Fries that bake in 12 minutes. I’m not sure what bothers me more about this product: the fact that it had no flavor at all or that people think this is an acceptable way to ruin a perfectly nice vegetable.
Ho ho ho, y’all ... it’s Christmas Eve! We’ve got a 90% chance of rain here in the Dallas area, which is great news if you’re a shrubbery because we’ve been bone dry for the entire month of December. Sam and I don’t mind the rain because we have no hoo-hah holiday plans. We’re staying home to watch movies and eat things. And I’m making homemade focaccia for dinner.

Keep an eye out for our big NEW YEAR GIVEAWAY ... coming soon to a Howdygram near you. Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So here's the deal.

Lately I’m reading that lots of people in the Dallas area are trying to score a windfall by renting out their homes for Super Bowl XLV, which is being held at Cowboys Stadium on February 6. Some are asking as much as $15,000 for a three-night stay. This sounds like a stupid plan, if you ask me, because who wants total strangers eating your leftovers late at night or examining what’s in your linen closet. But a windfall is always appealing, so I’m thinking our GARAGE would be an excellent alternative if you’re on a budget. If I can get Sam to sweep it out and move the cars to the street for a few days we can probably sleep a group of six in there on cots. Bathroom facilities will be provided free by the Conoco station on Northwest Drive, which is also home to Howard’s Christian Catfish and Taxes, our neighborhood’s most creative dining spot. They’ve got four picnic tables inside the gas station and Howard also does tax returns on a card table in the closet. The map below illustrates: A) our house; and B) the Conoco station.
The only downside, of course, is our proximity to Cowboys Stadium. It’s 35 miles from here, straight west on Interstate 30. Although savvy Super Bowl fans will probably find plenty of hotel space a lot closer to Cowboys Stadium than our garage, in case you’re interested (or desperate) our best rate is $109.95 per person per night. Bring your own towels and thank you for reading this.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Celebrating food with the Howdygram maven.

Saturday was an unforgettable food-fest here in Howdygramland. It started at 10 a.m. when I surprised Sam by announcing that I wanted dim sum for lunch. He didn’t even have time to object or develop a counter-offer, because within half an hour we were already in the car heading for Hong Kong Royal in Carrollton. The food was wonderful. We shared seven plates of different little steamed dumplings plus gooey chicken rice soup, barbecue pork buns and my favorite sticky rice wrapped in tobacco leaves. (Just kidding. They’re actually lotus leaves but Sam thinks they look more like tobacco). The smiling chef pictured below is Ken, who owns the restaurant. Those are shrimp dumplings posing in the photo to his right.
But the food-fest continued at dinner when we had those gigantic stuffed portobello mushrooms we bought Thursday morning at Costco (see below). Seriously, this was probably the best house-made fresh entree I’ve ever bought at Costco ... and that statement covers a lot of territory. The mushrooms are about five inches in diameter, they’re stuffed with crumbled spicy Italian sausage and cheese, and you just heat them in the oven at 375° for half an hour. Heaven. At the moment I’m wishing I had leftovers.
And now for a completely different subject. I’m wondering if any of my Howdygram readers can tell me why a person’s hair would suddenly get curly without a reasonable explanation. I had stick-straight hair my entire life until about a month ago when, according to Sam, I started to resemble Shirley Temple. (I think he might be exaggerating a little.) Any information would be appreciated, however, and thank you for reading this. Also, don’t forget to buy those portobello mushrooms at Costco as soon as possible.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Too much of a good thing.

This doesn’t apply to everything, mind you. It’s a known fact that a person can’t get too much beautiful weather, fonts, Chinese food or love ... not necessarily in that order. But today on TCM there’s an overload of 15 consecutive feel-good Andy Hardy movies that started at 5:00 this morning, and quite seriously I don’t think I can stand five more minutes of Mickey Rooney’s face. I’ve been humming the theme song in my sleep. And every Andy Hardy movie basically involves the same recycled plot ... Andy has girlfriend trouble, money trouble or both — usually it’s both — and his kind and brilliant father has to bail him out. Enough already. Nobody’s life can possibly be that simple, even in 1940.
From left to right, here are the extremely happy Hardys: Sara Haden (Aunt Milly), Lewis Stone (Judge James Hardy), Fay Holden (Emily Hardy), Mickey Rooney (Andy Hardy) and Cecelia Parker (Marian Hardy, Andy’s sister). A nice group. But I want them to go away now.

Sam and I went to Costco this morning for a pile of truly fun stuff, including my favorite chicken salad with cranberries, a two-pound package of lox, fresh stuffed portobello mushrooms, a three-pack of Classico pasta sauce, 48 AA batteries, frozen tilapia, a tub of cashews, pistachios, the world’s largest bottle of fish oil capsules, Naproxen and a jar of faux store-brand Chex mix that’s actually better than the original. I also wanted toilet paper but I honestly wouldn’t know what to do with a package of 48 mega rolls. Like Andy Hardy, it’s just too much of a good thing.

Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Internet shopportunities for everybody.

I’m still at it. Still finding bargains. Still shopping. Today’s landmark haul included an OXO pastry brush from, a jumbo laundry hamper on wheels from and new black cane from This is so damn exciting I can hardly stand it. The pastry brush and hamper are pictured below. (I’m sure you can guess what a cane looks like.)
In case you’re wondering how come I suddenly need a pastry brush, it’s because I plan to start making focaccia in my bread machine as soon as possible, which involves squishing raw dough onto a round baking pan and brushing it with olive oil and herbs. I bought four focaccia mixes last week from The Prepared Pantry. Incidentally, if you own a bread machine (or even if you just like to bake) you need to check out this website. They have EVERYTHING.

In other news, a 58-year-old man in Palm Beach, Florida, led security guards on a low-speed chase yesterday when he stole 11 packages of meat from a Winn-Dixie supermarket and tried to make his getaway riding a 3 m.p.h. electric shopping cart. Louis “Mario Andretti” Lorensen, pictured at right, was cornered by store employees in the parking lot after running over the foot of a four-year-old boy who didn’t get out of the way in time. He also threatened police during his arrest. I, for one, use electric shopping carts quite frequently, and even though they’re lots of fun (the ones at Wal-Mart even have horns you can beep) you can’t drive them at ramming speed and they’re definitely not appropriate for eluding police. I can move faster than that on my feet ... even with a cane. Although I rarely find it necessary to elude police.

Thank you for reading this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The joys of English.

Before I move on to the subject at hand I just want to say that football sucked yesterday because the Bears and Cowboys both blew it. The Bears’ loss to the New England Patriots was worse, actually ... an embarrassing 36 to 7. The Cowboys did a little better, losing to the Eagles 30 to 27. Unfortunately, the Eagles are a bunch of arrogant clods and I wonder if any Howdygram readers saw DeSean Jackson’s intentionally obnoxious backwards dive into the end zone for an Eagles touchdown ... as if he’s the only football player on earth who ever scored six points. Jackson has been nominated for the 2010 NFL Knucklehead Award. I think he won last year, too.

And now let’s have a quick Howdygram language lesson courtesy of Overstock Perfume. I order from this website all the time because they have the lowest prices on the Internet ... but their product descriptions are written by middle school English students somewhere in central China and definitely take the cake. Last week I ordered an Always & Forever gift set by Jessica McClintock. The product photo and description appear below for your possible interest.
Jessica McClintock Perfume lunched by Jessica Gagnon McClintock. She was born in Maine, USA and introduced her first own designed signature odor in 1987. She is introduced many perfume and fragrances yet for women and Scott McClintock Men cologne for men. Jessica McClintock is believed over the spraying one or two whiffs of refreshing and passionate deodorants. Most of you have an aroma of a delicious odor, whichever on yourselves or on superstar moreover. Designer Jessica McClintock was introduced also her aroma online providing the correct information about different parts of body are reacting such as neck, hand, knees, waist and etc. Her odors are available now with discount categories with cheap price.

Thank you for reading this. I think.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Look out Santa. You’re next.

The Howdygram would like to thank Sam’s Aunt Adie for submitting the following news photo for publication. As you can see, nothing’s sacred where Sarah Palin is concerned. And although she may want everybody to believe that she’s a rugged frontier “mama grizzly,” be sure you check out the hair, makeup and manicure. This Rudolph-killer and her shiny rifle just got home from the salon.
In other news ... we’ve got a couple of good NFL games on tap for later today. The Bears will play the Patriots in a blizzard at Soldier Field at 3:15 p.m. and the Eagles will be in Arlington to play the Cowboys at 7:30. Although it’s not likely to happen, I’m hoping the Cowboys can win this one because the Eagles’ ex-con quarterback, Michael Vick, turns my stomach. I’m just saying.

Incidentally, the aforementioned blizzard has already taken its toll in other states. The Giants and Vikings game was rescheduled for Monday night because Minneapolis is buried, the roof of the Metrodome collapsed and the Giants are stranded in Kansas City. This is not such a bad deal for the Giants. Kansas City has a lot of great restaurants.

It’s a strange Sunday in Howdygramland. Sam is at the office today, which means I will probably be on my own here until very late tonight. My first solo activities will include: 1) making the bed; 2) turning up the heat; 3) hunting around for breakfast; and 4) watching “White Christmas” on TV. For the record, “White Christmas” is one of those movies I always watch alone because Sam is not a fan. Others on his will-not-watch list include most films from the 1960s, “The Bitter Tea of General Yen” and anything that stars Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds or Maurice Chevalier. As for me, I’ll watch just about everything except slasher movies and Sylvester Stallone. He’s been remaking the same stupid “Rocky” movies for 35 years ... plus there’s something SERIOUSLY WRONG with his face.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Maybe he thought nobody would notice.

Today’s big news story — right after the blizzard heading for Chicago — is the suicide of Mark Madoff, eldest son of Bernie Madoff, that sleazebag financier who’s currently serving 150 years for running the largest Ponzi scheme in Wall Street’s history. The younger Madoff apparently was found hanging today from a ceiling pipe in his multi-million dollar New York City loft condo.

Although he loved to insist that he had no knowledge of his father’s financial crimes, Mark always remained under close scrutiny and was named in multiple lawsuits by swindled investors attempting to retrieve ill-gotten gains. In particular, Mark was hounded by investigators about using $66 million from Madoff Securities to purchase luxury homes in New York City, Nantucket and Connecticut. This now-deceased Einstein probably figured nobody would ever suspect him of spending money that wasn’t actually his because dad let him act as the “whistle blower” when the Ponzi scheme story was reported to authorities two years ago.

I think today’s suicide pretty much tells the FBI what they wanted to know. Oy, what a family.

In case you don’t have anything too exciting planned for tomorrow morning please be sure to watch two terrific movies on TCM. “The Shop Around the Corner” (Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart) is on at 9:15 a.m. and “The Bishop’s Wife” (Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young) is on at 11 (both times are Central). These are two of my all-time favorite holiday movies. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fridays are better when you get enough sleep.

Good morning, and please accept my best wishes for a happy Friday filled with lots of clean socks and somebody who makes you breakfast. Sam and I got up way too early this morning (5 a.m.) after a strange and mostly restless night. I don’t know why we didn’t sleep well, but both of us will be headed back to bed shortly. Probably Sam first because he’s not writing a Howdygram post. 
I almost forgot to show you two new products I bought this week from Schwan’s ... a sack of cute little individual Angus meat loaves and some surprisingly good cheesy pierogies. To tell you the truth, it must have been a pain to pose those meat loaves for professional photographs because they actually look more like seasoned dog turds than people food. They taste better than they look, fortunately, so it’s my plan to flatten a few this weekend when I make paninis. We’re enjoying our new panini press!

My plans for the rest of the morning include: 1) going back to bed for at least two hours; 2) making a loaf of pumpernickel in my new bread machine; 3) watching “Girl Crazy” with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney that I recorded overnight on TCM; and 4) washing my new towels. Do I have a great life, or what? And FYI, my graphic design client just sent an email ... she picked logo #1 (the one on top). Please see yesterday’s post if you have no idea what I’m talking about. And thank you for reading this.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Repeat performance, bring your own spoon.

After last week’s preposterous soup-dumping fiasco I decided to try again, so I’ve got an enormous vat of my favorite concoction simmering on the stove. Just like before, it’s my world-famous Beef Barley Soup (see recipe) with a couple of substitutions: cut-up boneless chicken breasts instead of round steak and white cannellini beans instead of kidney beans. Holy cow, it smells like HEAVEN in here! My soup won’t be ready until 9 so I’ve been amusing myself (unsuccessfully) with other projects, such as designing some new official Howdygram apparel, folding socks and filing my nails. These are all worthwhile activities but a lousy surrogate for homemade soup. I’m just saying.

Sam and I have back-to-back doctor appointments tomorrow morning for routine checkups ... mine at 9, his at 9:15. We see the same internist at Baylor Health Center here in Mesquite, five minutes from home. I realize this isn’t very exciting news but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Thank you for putting up with me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday achievements throughout the house.

Aren’t Saturdays delicious? I started my day at the crack of 11 with Sam out in the back yard planting ornamental grasses and pansies around the base of our new Oklahoma redbud tree and my premier loaf of New York rye underway in our new bread machine. This is so much fun I can hardly stand it. The bread mix (one of many that I ordered from The Prepared Pantry) even came with an unexpected yet impressive packet of OPTIONAL CARAWAY SEEDS. (We love caraway seeds.) Concurrently I also hard-boiled six eggs, wrote a few annual holiday letters and made the bed, not necessarily in that order. As the crowning glory of my afternoon I plan to watch Tiger Woods — who’s 15 under par and on top of the leaderboard for the first time in months — at the Chevron World Challenge while I eat rye bread, cheese and Greek olives with Sam.

I have the perfect life. Somebody peel me a grape.

News bulletin. Tonight at 5:15 (Central time) everybody should plan to watch “The Thin Man” on TCM because it’s probably the best William Powell and Myrna Loy movie ever made. I seriously hope you’re having as much fun today as I am. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Breaking news from Howdygramland.

University of Florida study reveals that mercury pollution makes birds gay. According to wildlife ecology and conservation professor Peter Frederick, even low levels of mercury can disrupt hormones in birds, leading males to mate and nest with other males. To prove his scientific findings, Frederick noted that flamingo communities in south Florida are reporting a startling surge in web orders for “The Wizard of Oz” on DVD and Cher music videos. There is no evidence that mercury pollution has the same affect on humans. (Yet.)

TV clown Francisco Oliviera is elected to congress in Brazil. A television clown elected to Brazil’s congress has been approved to begin his duties as a lawmaker after barely passing a mandatory literacy test. Oliviera (pictured below), a 45-year-old comic better known by his stage name “Tiririca,” apparently demonstrated the absolute minimum of intellect during the exam and had extreme difficulty in writing. This result, however, sufficiently disproved critics who had claimed Oliviera was totally illiterate. To prepare for possible resistance after he begins his term of office, Oliviera has pre-ordered 500 cream pies and an industrial-strength squirt gun.
Jewish pets celebrate Hanukkah. Here we see Shmuyel Dogstein (below), the bar mitzvah greyhound, posing with his yarmulke and stuffed dreidl. Immediately after this portrait was taken Shmuyel joined his family for the traditional menorah-lighting ceremony and a trip out back to pee.
And now it’s time to enjoy a quiet Friday night at home. I’m going to reheat some Chinese leftovers and read the manual that came with my new bread machine. I’d also like to wish a great big GET WELL SOON to Ray Carmichael, who had his left big toe joint replaced this morning. I seriously think we all need to see a picture of this. Thank you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oy. It's been quite a day around here.

No snotty comments, please, if you think I’m a total dweeb for complaining about any of this. At the moment I’m almost numb with exhaustion after a nonstop day of homemaking activities. These included: 1) making paninis for lunch; 2) folding two loads of laundry; 3) watching Sam assemble my exciting new fabric steamer on wheels; 4) emptying the dishwasher; and 5) steaming the wrinkles out of our crushed new king-size comforter, which required two hours of labor and one gallon of water.

And if that’s not enough, a couple of hours ago I accidentally dropped four quarts of leftover vegetable barley soup. My all-time favorite ceramic bowl broke in half a dozen pieces and sent soup ricocheting in every direction ... all over my robe, my feet, the refrigerator and our beautiful stone floor. This actually looked like Godzilla and his three best friends projectile-vomited all over the kitchen. My first thought was to sell the house, then I considered begging Sam to come home from work early. Eventually I decided just to be a big girl and tackle the mess without anybody’s help. At this point I’m so tired I don’t even have the energy to bring in three FedEx deliveries sitting outside on the front doorstep. One of them is my new Oster breadmaker, which is in a box large enough to hold a full-size Oldsmobile.

I’m going to eat some peanut butter now and watch “Seinfeld” reruns. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There's no such thing as too much soup.

I’ve got a huge pot of soup on the stove. I’m making my famous Beef Barley Soup (see earlier post) ... except this time I substituted chicken for the round steak and used white cannellini beans. The smell is INTOXICATING, and I seriously don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to hold out. My soup won’t be ready for another 90 minutes. Help me, please.

Today is my mother’s 88th birthday. I’ve been trying to call her since early afternoon but there’s no answer, so I’m assuming she either has her cell phone turned off or she’s in the hospital. The latter explanation is the likely one, since she always seems to wind up in the hospital on her birthday for one reason or another. Happy birthday, mom ... wherever you are! (If anything serious is going on I’m sure I’ll hear from my sister tonight.)
For your possible interest and amusement, here’s a nostalgic family photo taken at kiddieland sometime around 1958. That’s mom on top, I’m in the middle and my sister Robin is at the bottom. Posing for pictures is NOT as much fun as going on rides so I imagine this activity didn’t last very long. And I actually think Robin was ready to throw up.

Before I forget ...
Please accept our heartfelt Hanukkah wishes for a pile of homemade latkes and a lot of terrific presents. Shalom, y’all.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The shopping spree, part three.

When it comes to shopping, I’m the family amateur. This morning while I was still asleep Sam went to the grocery store to buy a box of matzos and came home with an Oklahoma Redbud tree for our back yard. His side trip to Covington’s Nursery also included professional landscaping services, edging and ornamental grasses for a total expenditure of $500 plus $3.89 for the matzo. A photo of a mature Oklahoma Redbud tree in somebody else’s yard appears below.
And here’s a portrait of the matzos:
We’re going to have a matzo omelette for dinner tonight (read my recipe here), which sounds like a truly swell idea to me. Thank you for reading this.

The shopping frenzy continues.

Seriously, this doesn’t happen around here very often. Sam and I are NOT indiscriminate spenders, and we don’t have a houseful of useless crap like most people. (Although I do have a surprisingly large number of scented candles in my dresser drawers and strongly believe that a person can never own too many sheets, this is probably a topic for a future post. Or maybe a therapist.)

The point is, for the last few days I’ve been actively involved in an online shopping spree in order to take advantage of everybody’s insanely low holiday prices. So far my purchases have included: 1) the Breville panini press I mentioned a couple of days ago; 2) an Oster breadmaker (pictured below) from; 3) one dozen  breadmaker mixes from The Prepared Pantry; 4) an electric knife so I can cut my homemade bread into neat slices that fit into the panini press; 5) the first three seasons of “Seinfeld” on DVD from so Sam and I can eat paninis and watch reruns; and 6) two books of stamps from because you’d have to be NUTS to go near a post office at this time of year.
Incidentally, anybody who wants to come over for homemade bread should just send me an email and we’ll work it out somehow, even if we don’t know who you are.

And now it’s time for bed ... at last. I’ve been awake all night because I took an unfortunately-timed nap on the couch after dinner. I wish I had more self-control where this kind of thing is concerned, but our family room furniture is stuffed with ether and I’m finished the minute I put my feet up. Sam too. Shalom to everybody and please floss.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An easy, sugar-free holiday dessert.

My recipe for sugar-free pumpkin pie passed the “Sam test” on Thanksgiving. He says it’s as good as any pumpkin pie he’s ever had, which is quite a compliment when you consider it’s made with a large pile of Splenda.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 cup Splenda granular
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated millk
Preheat oven to 425°. Combine all ingredients for a couple of minutes with an electric hand mixer on low, then pour into a 9-inch deep-dish pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°, then reduce heat to 350° and bake another 45 minutes. Bring pie to room temperature and serve with a fork, a napkin and a moderate-sized wad of sugar-free Cool Whip. You might want to make two pies because everybody will ask for seconds.
Thank you for eating this.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Two decades of joy remembered.

I don’t know if too many women celebrate a hysterectomy anniversary, but mine occurred 20 years ago today at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids Michigan ... a happy and long-anticipated occasion that’s definitely worthy of a milestone acknowledgement. The smiling tampon posing at right says it all. It’s like blowing two decades of raspberries at Kimberly-Clark.

I know you’ll forgive me if this falls into the category of too much information, but I was only 39 when I had my surgery ... a procedure that was strongly recommended after 25 years of misery, two D&Cs and four years of chemotherapy for an early stage of endometrial cancer, which was treated by three different oncologists in three different states during my first husband’s upwardly mobile years. When my Michigan oncologist finally suggested surgery I wanted to do a couple of back flips, but I wasn’t feeling so hot at the time because I’d caught pneumonia raking leaves in the rain on a 35° day. The hysterectomy had to be rescheduled twice over the course of five weeks while we waited for my lungs to clear up.

For the record, I think the best part of all this (for me and for Sam) is the fact that I never had to deal with menopause! Thank you for reading this ... and don’t forget to send me some panini recipes, okay?

Electronic sandwiches, coming soon.

Still recovering from our Thanksgiving food fest, about an hour ago I was browsing around online looking at Black Friday specials when I discovered something on that I’ve been wanting for a long time: AN ELECTRIC PANINI GRILL. For the last couple of years most of the panini grills I’ve seen were either way overpriced (I’m not spending a hundred bucks to toast a stupid sandwich) or got crappy user reviews, but this one’s a real peach. According to its birth certificate the product’s full name is the Breville BSG520XL Duo Heavy-Duty Nonstick Panini Press Grill and Overstock has it on sale for only $31.99 ... with NO SALES TAX and FREE SHIPPING. Williams-Sonoma sells the same panini press for $89.95; Amazon’s best price is $59.95.
Within the next seven days I’ll be able to turn everything in the fridge into a gourmet grilled sandwich, such as leftover egg foo young with cheese and optional pickles. (Okay, maybe not.) Incidentally, I want to surprise Sam with this, so please don’t mention anything.

Please feel free to share any interesting panini sandwich recipes either by posting a comment or sending me an email. A speedy response would be appreciated so I can shop for ingredients. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and other nice gestures.

Yo, y’all. Here’s a great big Howdygram wish for a Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours! Although we assume you’re not running around in the woods somewhere murdering your own wildlife, we hope tomorrow will be a swell holiday that includes a preponderance of perfect poultry, a green bean casserole with greasy little French-fried onions on top and plenty of really nice people to help you clean up afterwards. The cleaning-up part is extremely important.

Once again this year Sam and I ordered a take-home feast from Boston Market, which we’ll pick up tomorrow at 1:00. PLEASE DO NOT MAKE FUN OF US. Boston Market’s food is fine, there’s always enough for three days of leftovers, and we can wear bathrobes and eat in front of the TV. This sounds like a perfect Thanksgiving, if you ask me. For dessert I’ll bake a couple of sugar-free pumpkin pies. We can also eat raisins if we want to, or maybe yogurt. Sam likes raisins and yogurt.

Are you planning a Black Friday shopping spree? I’M NOT ... but that’s because I don’t have to buy Christmas presents for anybody. Even if I did, though, I’d probably shop online because there’s no way I want to be anywhere near a retail store between now and the end of the year. Crowds make me nuts, there’s never any good parking and I’m really getting sick of Santa Claus. (Holy crap. I’ve turned into my mother.)

Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My annual Hanukkah wish list.

With seven shopping days left until Hanukkah I thought I’d post this year’s wish list so you can buy my presents TOMORROW and ship them out on Friday with time to spare. I want any or all of the following: 1) one dozen new 100% guaranteed stain-proof white or natural kitchen towels; 2) a lifetime supply of Equal packets; 3) L’Oreal Voluminous brown mascara because the drug store was out of it last week; 4) six extra cereal bowls; 5) really good cuticle scissors; 6) at least 150 new hangers; 7) four 50-100-150 three-way light bulbs; 8) a full-time personal attendant to tweeze my eyebrows; 9) half a gallon of bird crap repellant for our black car; and 10) small narrow feet.

I realize that #10 might be hard to find so you should probably just concentrate on items 1 through 9. Please send an email if you need my shipping address.

And now, a quick news item about San Antonio’s annual Hanukkah festivities on the Riverwalk, sponsored by Chabad-Lubavitch of South Texas.
This year’s Jewish Pride Hanukkah Parade will be held December 5 on the San Antonio River, beginning with a convoy of 10 barges, each holding 40 people, one rabbi, a Jewish mariachi band, a giant menorah and several platters of latkes. (Latkes are pan-fried potato pancakes. Two bites and your arteries slam shut.) There’s no indication if any of this costs money or not, but since I’ve never seen a Jewish mariachi band it might be worth the three-hour drive to San Antonio. Shalom, gracias, and thank you for reading this.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Adventures in retailing.

For those of you still waiting for an update, our new Wal-Mart bedding set arrived on Saturday (four days ahead of schedule) and it’s BEAUTIFUL. There’s only one snag: it looks like someone stuffed the comforter into a duffle bag and drove it around in the trunk of a hot car for six months. It’s absolutely CRUSHED, and I just spent two solid days trying to figure out how to get rid of the wrinkles. My first brainstorm was to shove it in our clothes dryer with a couple of damp kitchen towels, but it didn’t take long to convince me this was stupid because the comforter is just way too big. (We tried.) Then I suggested why don’t we drive it over to the laundromat on Town East Boulevard and try the same thing in a commercial dryer. The look on Sam’s face said it all: NOT ON YOUR LIFE, KIDDO. Plus, there’d be no way to get it home without wrinkling the damn thing all over again.

So today I solved the problem! I just ordered a Conair professional-quality fabric steamer from Visualize a canister vacuum with a base unit on wheels and a long hose with a flat steamer head. It can be used in any position (i.e., a comforter that’s on a bed) and it was on sale today for $49.95 with free shipping and no sales tax. Steaming things is always entertaining and won’t annoy Sam, so I figured this is the perfect solution and worth a shot. Plus the Conair steamer has a whole long list of five-star customer reviews. Here it is posing for a photo earlier today on HSN’s website.
In other retail news, there was a cute article on yesterday listing this year’s top 10 worst children’s Christmas toys. My three favorites include: 1) My Cleaning Trolley (cleverly labeled “for girls only” on the package), that will encourage your daughters and granddaughters to choose housekeeping or maid service as a valuable career option; 2) the Harry Potter Vibrating Broomstick, because it’s never too early to introduce your kids to buzzing sex toys; and 3) the TSA Security Set, designed to teach your children how to fondle, grope and humiliate unsuspecting airport travelers.
Here’s wishing y’all a happy Thanksgiving and a Black Friday filled with excellent bargains. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

If at first you don't succeed ...

... you just order something else! The bedding set I bought last week from (read my post) didn’t turn out exactly as expected, particularly since the dimensions of the king-size comforter couldn’t accommodate a mattress more than three inches deep. The colors were terrific; the fit was idiotic. So we returned it to our local Wal-Mart and I went back to their website and ordered the magnificent merchandise pictured below.
This is a NINE PIECE SET that includes a king comforter, two king-size shams, two Euro shams, three throw pillows and a tailored bedskirt for $69.95 ... with FREE SHIPPING. But (for me) the best part was reading all the online user reviews that raved about the oversized comforter dimensions even for a king-size bed. Stay tuned for an update; everything’s supposed to arrive November 23.

And now, Sam and I are going for a half-hour drive to Sugarless Delite, which is a diabetic’s nirvana in Richardson. I’ve had a serious craving lately for chocolate, and Sugarless Delite carries the best stuff ANYWHERE. Their bakery products (cheesecakes, pies and brownies) are amazing, too, but unfortunately they all contain large wads of an artificial sweetener called “maltitol” that works like a nuclear explosive on my digestive system. (My one and only experience two years ago was more than enough for me.)

Smooches to everybody and thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There's so much news my head might explode.

I almost don’t know where to start, so grab a cup of coffee, hang on and enjoy the ride through today’s Howdygram news briefs!

Sam assembles The Chair in record time. It arrived from Office Depot half a day ahead of schedule and about an hour before Sam usually leaves for work at 2 p.m. Diligent and talented Mister Speedy Fixit shlepped the carton into the study, dumped the contents in the middle of the room and had the entire chair assembled, bolted together and butt-ready in less than 40 minutes. To prove I’m not lying please see the photo below.
Prince William gets ready to tie the royal knot. The Brits are pleased to announce that their 28-year-old heir to the throne and his long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton are officially engaged and planning a London wedding sometime in 2011. A definite date will be established shortly to allow adequate time for 3,756 royals and royal wannabes to place their orders for stupid hats. It is believed that millinery sales account for 57% of Britain’s gross national product.
Marcy enjoys an outing to “foodie heaven.” I drove over to Central Market in Dallas yesterday and splurged on a trunkload of goodies for Sam and me. Specifically, these included: 1) a chef-made casserole of gigantic poblano peppers stuffed with chicken, rice and cheese; 2) two pounds of Central Market’s gourmet Provence turkey breast that’s so good it actually reminds you of Thanksgiving; 3) my favorite marble rye bread; 4) potato latkes; 5) two slabs of lasagna; 6) house-made vegetable egg rolls with duck sauce; 7) an eggplant napoleon; and 8) their world-famous Cowboy Casserole, which contains chopped cowboys and spurs. (Only kidding. I think the main ingredient is chicken.) Central Market is the most amazing grocery store on earth. A photo of their mile-long meat counter appears below for your possible interest.
And now it’s time to work on items 2 and 3 from the list above. I’m saving item 7 for dinner. Thank you for reading this and pass the mayo.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Cowboys win; Sam gets The Chair.

Well shut my mouth. THEY DID IT. The previously-depressing Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants yesterday 33 to 20 in a surprise win at Meadowlands Stadium that included some mighty amazing plays ... including a 101-yard touchdown run by Bryan McCann in the second quarter. Sam and I actually enjoyed watching the game this week, and we’re pleased to send a big Howdygram MAZEL TOV to the Cowboys’ new interim head coach Jason Garrett (pictured at right).

In other breaking news, we did a little fun Internet shopping yesterday. Sam went to Office Depot in the morning to test-drive new desk chairs, and when he got home we ordered his favorite online using a $30 discount coupon with free next-business-day delivery. His new black leather acquisition, pictured at left, features lumbar support, nice arm rests, a 350-V6 engine and ergonomic cup-holders. Delivery is expected sometime on Tuesday.

Sam’s former chair, now approximately 18 years old and basically shot to hell, will take up residence in the garage to serve as additional seating whenever we open the overhead door to watch summer thunderstorms. We’re sure it will live a long and fruitful life in retirement. In the meantime it’s accepting congratulatory emails. Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guess who wants my money.

It’s swell to have friends in high places. For the last few months I’ve been receiving regular mailings from George and Laura Bush, inviting me to become “a founding member and one of the first Americans to support the George W. Bush Presidential Center” scheduled to open right here in Dallas sometime in 2013. Each mailing also reinforces that I should be honored to help tell the story of the Bush Presidency and thrilled that the Bush Center’s Institute will continue to advance President Bush’s innovative ideas ... although nobody mentions what these thrilling innovations were or why we can’t remember any of them. Maybe they had something to do with weapons of mass destruction or deregulating Wall Street. But I’m just guessing.
All this flag-waving crap-ola aside, George and Laura are basically trolling around for DOUGH. A gift of $50 or more guarantees they’ll engrave my name in the Bush Center’s Freedom Registry, which is probably located on a paper towel dispenser in the men’s restroom closest to the snack bar. Their most recent mailing included a full-color photograph suitable for framing (see above). I’ll be glad to email a scanned version to Howdygram readers on request.

In other news, the Cowboys play the New York Giants this afternoon ... their first game without former head coach Wade Phillips, who got canned after last week’s miserable loss to Green Bay. I’m absolutely positive today’s game won’t be any better than last week’s, since Dallas’ sloppy team of over-hyped millionaires frequently does as little as possible unless it involves penalties. Plus our quarterback (Tony Romo) is still on the injured list with his arm in a sling. Be sure to tune in, and thank you for reading this.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A frugal Howdygram shopping spree.

I wasn’t really planning to shop today but just spent an hour online blowing some money on a number of terrific bargains. My first stop was for the following reasons: 1) they’re having a big one-week pre-Christmas sale; 2) I got a 30% off coupon in the mail to use for my entire purchase; and 3) the coupon also includes FREE SHIPPING. So I bought a bunch of nice things for Sam, such as two fleecy pullovers, two turtlenecks and a pile of white socks.
As always, Kohl’s prices were amazing. Taking into consideration their pre-Christmas 50% off sale and my 30% coupon, the fleece pullovers were only $11.25 each, the turtlenecks were $7 and the socks were $9.80 for 12 pair. Oy.

Then I browsed around for a while on I know there are lots of Wal-Mart skeptics out there in Howdygramland, but their website is a fantastic place to shop and I’m always impressed with the selection, prices, quality and free (or exceptionally cheap) shipping. Today for some reason I wound up buying a new comforter set, mostly because I was really happy with the wrinkle-free sheets and summer quilt ensemble I bought from Wal-Mart this year and figured it might be fun to have a new look in the master bedroom. Here’s what I got:
This is a black and cocoa oversized king comforter set with two king pillow shams, a tailored dust ruffle and two coordinating throw pillows ... for $54.98. (I’m not joking about this.) I’ll probably order coordinating black and cocoa bath towels for the master bath after I get the comforter and decide for sure if I’m keeping it or not. I know you can’t wait for an update on this, so stay tuned.

And now we’ve got a little surprise thunderstorm moving through here, so I think I’ll go enjoy the show from the windows in the family room and wash a few dishes while I’m at it. Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Three hot stories in the news compel me to write another post today even though I’d rather be in the den watching “Top Chef Just Desserts” on Bravo. Here they are for your possible interest and amusement.

A Gurnee, Illinois, woman attacks police officer with a sex toy. Carol Bildsten, 56, allegedly assaulted a police officer on Tuesday evening with what Gurnee Police Commander Jay Patrick called “a rigid feminine pleasure device.” Police had been called to the scene when Bildsten ran out on her dinner check at Joe’s Crab Shack. The restaurant manager reported that Bildsten has allegedly left the restaurant without paying in the past. She is currently in police custody. There is no word concerning the whereabouts of her dildo.

World’s oldest pig dies in Dallas at age 21. Oscar, a Vietnamese potbellied pig from north Dallas, claimed the Guinness World Record in 2009 when he celebrated his 20th birthday. However, the Howdygram is grieved to report that Oscar bit the dust on Tuesday, just one week after he turned 21. Rumor has it that owner Stacy Kimbell (pictured below with Oscar) has planned a memorial barbecue for the coming weekend. Bring your own sauce.
The Carnival cruise from hell is still inching towards San Diego. The 952-foot Carnival Splendor left Long Beach, California, on Sunday for a seven-day cruise to the Mexican riviera. About 200 miles south of San Diego an engine room fire killed the ship’s power, plunging 4,500 passengers and crew into total darkness with no air conditioning, no lights, no refrigeration, no hot water, no laundry, no elevators, and no telephone or Internet service. As two small tugboats shlep the mega-cruiser to San Diego, everyone on board is existing on canned Spam, Pop Tarts and tins of crabmeat airlifted by helicopter from the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan (see below). The Carnival Splendor is expected to arrive in San Diego Thursday night barring bad weather or any additional hoo-hah. So much for your vacation of a lifetime, folks. Next year consider a double room at Best Western and three days at Legoland.
Thank you for reading this. Seriously.

Soup is almost better than sex.

Here’s your chance to throw together the ultimate comfort food: Marcy’s Beef Barley Soup. This is my own recipe after decades of happy culinary experimentation, and lucky for you it’s as easy as it is fabulous ... even if I say so myself. You can probably feed a small army or half the neighborhood with one pot. Trust me.
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1½ lbs. round steak, cubed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 to 6 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 bag washed baby spinach
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 lb. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 giant yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup raw barley
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Life doesn’t get much easier than this! Just heat the olive oil in a gigantic kettle and brown the beef cubes over medium-high heat, then toss in all the remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, for three hours. Four hours would be even better. That’s it. Obviously you can adjust the salt and pepper if you like more or less, and you can also skip the spinach if you want to. I happen to love the flavor of spinach in my soup and it also adds lots of vitamins.
Serve this with a nice crusty baguette and a few extra napkins for any slobs in your crowd. A nice dessert afterwards would be a handful of raisins or cheesecake. (Actually, I vote for cheesecake.) Bon appetit and thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cowboys, characters and the barley incident.

There’s a lot of really big news to report tonight so I’d better get right to the point. First, Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips (pictured below with a pre-menstrual headache) was fired yesterday after leading his team to another humiliating loss.
Here in Dallas a Cowboys coaching change gets as much attention and television air time as a nuclear accident or approaching hurricane, because apparently nothing matters to north Texans except: 1) football; 2) beer; and 3) where is George W. autographing his memoir tomorrow. (The answer to item three is Borders in Plano.)

In other news, today was Edna Mae Oliver day on Turner Classic Movies, commemorating 68 years since her death in 1942. I should have reported this yesterday so you’d have a chance to watch or record her films, and I apologize profusely for this oversight. Edna Mae was a very popular character actress in the 1920s and 30s with a face like Trigger. Although she was mostly a comedienne, she also appeared in a few dramas but always wound up being funny, anyway. Her movies today on TCM included The Penguin Pool Murder, Meet the Baron (one of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen co-starring Jimmy Durante and the Three Stooges), Murder on the Blackboard, We’re Rich Again, Murder on a Honeymoon and No More Ladies.

And finally, a devastating retail announcement: OUR LOCAL WAL-MART DOESN’T SELL BARLEY. I discovered this perplexing fact earlier today when I was loading up on ingredients for homemade beef barley soup and managed to find everything I needed EXCEPT for the requisite bag of barley. Wal-Mart wasn’t out of it ... they just don’t carry it. After I composed myself I realized my soup would be delayed until Sam makes a quick trip to Kroger in the morning. I’ll publish the recipe tomorrow so you can make some for yourself. Seriously, it’s the best beef barley soup EVER. Thank you for reading this.