Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Try this "old-fashioned" pork roast

I was watching Cook's Country on PBS over the weekend and saw them prepare a terrific-looking pork roast. (Thanks to Cooking with Kim for posting the recipe -- saves me a lot of re-keying.) The recipe takes all day to cook; in fact, you'll want to prepare it the day before you want to enjoy it because it needs to chill in the fridge overnight. But let me tell you -- it's worth it. Really tender, flavorful pork - it was perfect with our homemade coleslaw from the book "The Thrill of the Grill" and new baked beans recipe from The Barefoot Contessa.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

How does Celine Dion stay in such great shape?

With the "Celine Dion Workout Tape", of course! 

What is President Obama laughing at?

The Huffington Post recently asked visitors to put their Photoshop skills to use. They posted a photo of President Obama and his advisors in a White House conference room with a large TV screen on the back wall. The image on the TV was erased, and The Huffington Post asked folks to do some creative editing to answer the question: “What is President Obama laughing at?” Here’s what I came up with -- what do you think?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Training the outfielder

Summertime means baseball -- and trying to explain the rules to Otis, who just wants to chase the ball.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Greek, it is...

If you’re in Boston this weekend, don’t miss out on one of my favorite things to do in the city (just don’t stand ahead of me in line). The Greek Food Festival will be held at Saint John the Baptist Church at the corner of Union Park and Shawmut Avenue in the South End. We’ve been attending for years – and usually buy dinner there on both Saturday and Sunday nights. Enjoy Greek specialties such as loukanico (sausage), spanakopita (spinach pastry), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), gyro (lamb and beef wrap), roast chickens, Greek salads, and much more. You need to top it all off with a pitcher of ice cold beer, and before you leave, fill up a plate with homemade desserts. See you at the festival!
Saturday, June 26: 1:00-10:00 pm
Sunday, June 27: 12:00 – 8:00 pm

Cruising around Boston Harbor

We took to the (not so high) seas last night, as part of a Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise to benefit Fenway Health. It was the perfect evening to putter around the harbor, hang out with some good friends, and people-watch. Boston’s skyline has got to be one of the prettiest in the world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wet foot, dry foot

Wet rocks + treadless sneakers = bad start to the morning
Grabbing our travel coffee mugs and a tennis ball, we drove Otis to Castle Island today for his early morning run. We walked along the causeway leading into the harbor, occasionally dodging joggers and early-morning strollers, and tossed the ball onto the path ahead of us, sending Otis into wild sprints. After a few tosses, the ball rolled in the space between the pathway and the fence and down to the rocks below. I handed Peter my coffee and hopped the fence. “Don’t let the alligators get ya,” he laughed. A lady who was passing by stopped and said, “Actually what you need to worry about are rats down there.” Comforting!

Next thing I knew, I was flat on my back with one foot in the water. I looked up at the causeway to see a look of concern on the lady’s face and Peter doubled over with laughter. Not even showing him my scraped and bloodied hand stopped his guffaws. But who could blame him? People falling down = funny. But from now on, while visiting Castle Island, perhaps I should bring a back-up tennis ball – and a pair of dry sneakers with good treads.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A song for a sultry summer evening

I am a big fan of "covers" - when one artist interprets another singer's work. Thanks to Andrew Sullivan over at The Atlantic for pointing out this gem of a video featuring jazz singer Sharon Clark's take on a classic tune from The Carpenters. Beautiful...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New York City: two wonderful meals, a “Kanye West” moment, and a stolen wallet

I attended back-to-back workshops in Manhattan this week on using social media in business. Both conferences were very well done and offered lots of ideas and case studies on how corporations can use Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to raise awareness of their brand(s) and create solid, two-way communication platforms with advocates, customers, and potential “ambassadors”.
Aside from learning some new tricks of the trade, my trip to New York also included two wonderful meals, a “Kanye West” moment, and a stolen wallet. Read on:
I never visit Manhattan without dining at Becco, owned by Lidia Bastianich from the PBS cooking show “Lidia’s Italy”. Taking full advantage of the delicious homemade breadsticks, garlicky white bean dip, and herbed olives, I had to be careful not to stuff myself. The portions at Becco are generous and entrees come with a delicious Caesar salad. And for just $9.99 extra, you get unlimited portions of the three homemade pastas of the day. So in addition to my entrée of tender chicken breast with lemon and olives, I feasted on fusilli bolognese, buttery mushroom ravioli, and spaghetti with fresh tomato and basil. Yes, I ate and enjoyed every bite.
Guess I was in the mood for Italian food, as the next night found me at Cola’s, a small trattoria in Chelsea. Seated inside, up front next to the big open windows overlooking the busy 8th Avenue street scene, I started with a wonderful cherry tomato and fresh mozzarella salad, subtly flavored with fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil. This was followed by a delicious plate of tender pork loin sautéed with sage and wild mushrooms. Check this place out!
One of the sessions at the social media conference was temporarily taken over by a PETA demonstrator. The panel featured a social media expert from McDonald’s, and soon after the session began, a woman strolled to the front of the room and climbed up on stage. Everyone assumed she was doing an AV check, and the speaker stopped talking and stepped away from the lectern. The woman jumped in front of the microphone and started a tirade against the supposedly inhumane treatment of chickens by McDonald’s. For a moment, everyone froze. The panel moderator then stood up and pushed the microphone away and the conference organizer ran up front, grabbed the woman by the arm, and escorted her – still jabbering - through the exit door near the stage. The McDonald’s spokesperson said the same thing happened to her at a conference last fall. “I told my colleagues that I got Kanye’d by PETA,” she said. A funny side note: at the end of the session, the moderator apologized to the crowd, saying she had never seen anything like that before. “But I think I handled it very well,” she said proudly. I felt the need to direct her to the "Congratulations! I Did A Great Job!" section at the local Hallmark store.
Today’s conference ended early enough that I could get to the local gym for a run before catching my train back to Boston. I changed into my gym clothes and threw my backpack into locker #165. After a half-hour on the treadmill, I went back to the locker room to shower quickly. Coming out of the shower, I realized I didn’t have my key. It wasn’t in the shower stall or on the floor, and as I stood weighing my options, I noticed that my lock was now on locker #167. I pulled open #165 and there was my stuff, minus the wallet that had been in my pants pocket. My heart sank and I quickly searched the locker and my backpack to make sure I hadn’t put my wallet in a different location. But it was gone. My guess is that someone saw me drop the key, quickly used it to grab my wallet, and then threw the lock back on the (wrong) locker.
I got dressed and went to find the club manager. Chris could not have been more apologetic or helpful, bringing me into his office to start a report, asking if I wanted to call the police, and instructing one of his cleaning staff to check all of the garbage cans in the club. He was in the midst of dialing the local police precinct when his staffer came around the corner with my wallet in his hand. “I found this in the wastebasket right outside the men’s locker room,” he said. My cash, of course, was gone, but the rest of the contents were there. I thanked Chris profusely and headed off to Penn Station, with a quick detour to an ATM and a return visit to the club to reward the cleaning person with $20. My next purchase? A combination lock for traveling – no more keys for me to drop.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Try this salad: it's Martha-approved

Speaking of Martha Stewart, I contend that any recipe she publishes -- in her magazines, on her website, in her multitude of cookbooks, or even on Twitter (she says her sister helps her edit her recipes down to 140 characters) -- is going to be excellent. After all, it is her reputation at stake, and she’s got an entire staff dedicated to making sure her recipes are tested until they are perfect. When I’m looking for a particular recipe, her website is the first place I visit, and I’ve never been disappointed.

So in the interest of “paying it forward”, let me share one my favorite Martha recipes. I’ve made this at least a dozen times and it always gets rave reviews. It’s easy to make and perfect for your summer cook-out.

Orzo Salad with Roasted Carrots and Dill
  • 3 lbs. carrots (I used already-peeled baby carrots, but Martha recommends 4 bunches of carrots. Of course that means you grow them yourself, organically of course, and then have your staff harvest them for you)
  • 4 garlic gloves, unpeeled
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 pound orzo
  • Grated zest and juice of two lemons
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in lower shelf. Cut carrots diagonally into 2-inch pieces. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots and garlic with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast until the carrots are tender and browned, about 15 minutes. (Note: I find this usually takes a little longer.) Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins; mince to form a coarse paste. Set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil; add salt. Stir in the orzo; cook until al dente, according to package instructions, about 7 minutes. Drain, and while still hot, transfer the orzo to a large bowl and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let cool slightly, and add the roasted carrots.

In a small bowl, mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, scallions, and roasted garlic. Add the dill and pour the mixture over the orzo mixture. Stir to combine; season with salt and pepper. Serve or store, covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Monday, June 14, 2010

I’m having dinner with Martha Stewart

Well, not really -- but I would if she asked me to. I was, however, in the front row of the Manhattan Hilton earlier today, as Martha Stewart, the queen of “Good Things”, was interviewed at TWTRCON, a conference focused on using Twitter in the business world. Martha was grilled by David Pogue, the technology editor at The New York Times.

Martha, whose Twitter bio describes her as a “curious, inquisitive, experimental entrepreneur who cares about the world we live in”, says every company should explore using Twitter. “If a new medium is available, try it,” she said.

She says Twitter allows her instant access to her nearly 2 million followers, whether she’s doing research (“Do you use hellmans mayo or kraft miracle whip and why?? Answer asap”), promoting her brand (“America the Beautiful! and it is so beautiful in the july issue of martha stewart living on sale june 14 of course you should all subscribe”), or following up on readers’ suggestions on where to eat when she’s traveling the world (“Eating poutine in the laurentians. French fires, string cheese and brown gravy??? what's the attraction?”)

I’ve got to hand it to Martha; she’s a savvy business person who truly understands the concept of “brand”, she’s not afraid to try new things or to laugh at herself, and she says she never wants to stop learning. In fact, when asked in a recent issue of Vanity Fair what her personal motto is, Martha replied: “When you are through changing, you are through.”

While her daily television show is on hiatus, Martha says she’s going to travel to the Gulf of Mexico to see the devastation first-hand and to offer any kind of help she can. That’s a good thing, Martha.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My advice to President Obama

Dear President Obama:

You've had a rough time in the past few weeks. On top of all of the issues that you must deal with on a daily basis, you're now getting criticized from all sides about your handling of the BP crisis in the Gulf.

I don't want to pile on, but you are President of the United States, and when I see the stressed look on your face as you're dragged around the White House lawn by your puppy, I felt the need to offer some unsolicited advice.

Buy a SENSE-ible harness for Bo. It will change your life and making walking him a pleasure, not a tug-of-war. I know of what I speak. Our Portuguese Water Dog, Otis, who's now five years old and weighs in at 80 pounds (all sleek muscle), was a puller as a puppy. Even at eight weeks, he would pull on his traditional style leash and make those horrible choking noises as the collar pulled against his neck.

I went to Polka Dog Bakery, our local pet shop in Boston's South End and they recommended the SENSE-ible harness. As soon as it was fitted and slipped over his head, Otis stopped pulling immediately.

So may I humbly suggest that you go to Amazon right now and purchase the harness. It's only $24.99 (plus shipping and handling) and will change your life, and your relationship with Bo. But hurry...it seems that Amazon only has four "large" harnesses in stock!

If you have any questions, Mr. President, about the harness or the "care and feeding" of your Portuguese Water Dog, please leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I coulda been a contender on Millionaire

Here’s a chance to test your knowledge (trivial) with 12 million-dollar questions from the hit TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”. Just answer each question and the quiz will move you along until you’re done. Then it will reveal how many you got right. I got six correct. I should have studied harder in school!

Probably eight or nine years ago, I auditioned for “Millionaire” when it did a contestant search at the Park Plaza Hotel here in Boston. I took a half-day of vacation to go stand in a long line that snaked down the block. Right in front of me was this guy who was quizzing everyone within earshot with questions from his “Millionaire” quiz book, and then making faces when people guessed wrong. (Yeah, it’s easy when you have the answer key in front of you.) We were all herded into a massive ballroom and given pens and a lengthy multiple choice quiz. Out of the probably 200 people in the room, only about 20 scored high enough to stay for the second round. Yes, I was in that group…and no, the guy with the quiz book was not!

The second round consisted of a 2-minute interview with a panel of three program producers, all of whom looked about 13 years old. Evidently, I was unable to charm them with my wit or otherwise demonstrate what a great addition I’d be to the show, because I never got called back. Shortly after my failed audition, the nighttime version of “Millionaire” got cancelled. Coincidence or kharma?

Anyway – take the quiz and let me know in the comments section below how you did. Can you beat six right?

RIP Rue McClanahan. Long live Betty White.

Tough workout

I think I should have stuck with Jazzercise (see below)! Had my weekly workout with Roberto last night and he certainly upped the ante. He had planned an outdoor session, so we jogged over to the local soccer field where I started with sprints across the green, and then a fast run backwards, up on my toes, back to the starting point. Then there were side shuffles across the field, followed by “burpees” (which we called “squat thrusts back in grade school), push-ups, and a series of sit-ups. Luckily, we did a fast walk – not a run -- back to the gym. It was the most challenging session I’ve had with Roberto. And despite my groaning, he was very encouraging. This morning, my body is reminding me that I did, indeed, have a workout!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Find it, feel it, do it, oh gawd yeah!!!"

In a foul mood? Watch this “Jazzercise” video, starring the spirited Judi Sheppard Misset and her band of merry back-up dancers and move your boogie body. But a YouTube commenter issues this warning: “What has been seen, cannot be unseen.” But don't hate me for having a laugh at Judi's performance. She's credited with creating the whole Jazzercise craze and in 2008, her company's revenues topped $93 million. Move your boogie body, indeed! 

Wanna play catch?

He waited patiently for us to finish preparations for my mom's 70th birthday party (Happy Birthday, Mom!). And yes, we eventually took him to the park for a good romp. Is that a face, or what??


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