Thursday, July 26, 2007

I wish I was creative enough to make this stuff up...

As you may recall, loyal reader, last week, while en route to a morning show appearance in Connecticut, and after cooking and prepping for close to 6 hours for my segment, I made it approximately 1.6 miles from home before a flat tire sidelined me, and squelched my chances of making it to West Hartford on time. You might also remember that the very nice people at NBC30 offered me a 'make up' segment, which is slated for tomorrow. And so today--just like last week (in fact, eerily like last week)--I spent the morning shopping for groceries, and prepping the ingredients. Done with my days work, I headed down to the kitchen a few moments ago to finalize and cook the recipes I will be showcasing, only to discover that the oven (brace yourself, dear reader) is not lighting. It should come as no surprise--given the circumstances of last week--that this discovery did not sit very well with me, so I quickly made my way to the refrigerator and poured myself a very large glass of white wine, then, undeterred, headed outside to the grill to improvise my way through the cooking stage. Alas, it did not take long for me to realize that we are (I have to interject here that I can barely type these words without feeling ill), out of propane as well.

So here I am with a tray of bacon-wrapped scallops, and shrimp lollipops, and cheesy breadsticks, and sausage balls to cook, with no heat source that is stronger than your average household flashlight (and most likely--given my luck these days--ours is out of batteries). But suddenly I realized, that after an entire week of struggling with new copy and ideas for a potential new book, that the best and most creative storyline, is taking place right here in my own madcap life.


BACON-WRAPPED SCALLOPS (or whatever else sounds good wrapped in bacon)
This is a no-brainer recipe. Cut slices of bacon in half vertically, then wrap them around sea scallops, or shelled jumbo shrimp, or dried apricots or pitted dates. Secure each with a toothpick, then bake in a baking pan (with sides so the bacon grease doesn't spill onto the bottom of your oven--which I have learned from experience) until the bacon is golden brown.
Enjoy!

PS. Thank you Cindy for listening to my 10 minute rant, and for generously offering me your oven. Hope the corn turned out ok.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Redhead Meets Red Tail



Last Friday--Friday, 13th, to be exact--I came face to face with a bird. But not just any bird; a really, really big bird. And not the typical sing-songing feathered friend you normally see flying above, or splashing around your backyard birdbath, but a bird of prey with thick talons, and a penchant for flesh.

Now, I don't know what goes on across the rest of the country, but it should come as no surprise to anyone who lives just outside of Manhattan, that the discovery of a fearless, eighteen-inch tall red-tailed hawk staring you down just outside your front door is, to say the least, somewhat shocking. My first reaction of course was to slam the door closed, but after a few moments I gathered my courage--and my camera--and cautiously opened it back up, revealing myself to the visitor who remained perched on the ledge, just inches away. We took a moment to size each other up for potential danger, and when none seemed imminent, we both relaxed. I spent the next 15 minutes in slack-jawed awe, snapping photos, my mind racing to come up with a reason for this seemingly mystical visit. Was this bird a harbinger? Was his visit an augury...or (acck!) an omen?

Whatever the reason for our Friday, 13th rendezvous, the sentimentalist in me likes to believe that that beautiful hawk appreciated our encounter as much as I did. But who knows? Perhaps he was simply sizing me up and wishing to the stars that I weighed one hundred and twenty pounds less; I'm sure it's not everyday that a potential meal presents itself so easily.

PS. From to Native American lore...
Be ever alert for a red tail flying near, for the Red Tailed Hawk will soar beside the Two-Legged whose own gift of vision is exceptionally acute. Yay! Mystery solved!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Welcome!

What a week it's been. And it's only Thursday! If I was one of those superstitious types who believes that bad news comes in three's, I would definitely be arching an eyebrow right about now... maybe cancelling appointments, stocking provisions, battening down the hatches.

Yesterday--the day I had to head into the city for a long-awaited meeting with with my publisher to discuss a second book--Biblical proportions of rain fell, flooding roads and railways. The power went out in Chappaqua as I was getting dressed for my meeting, a tornado touched down in Long Island, draining all the water from a swimming pool, and making short work of trees and powerlines, and an underground steam pipe blew up near Grand Central Station, right around punch-out time, sending bricks, gravel and 9-11-esque plumes of smoke rocketing towards the heavens, tainting the air with asbestos-filled dust, injuring dozens of rush-hour commuters, and sadly, taking the life of a New Jersey woman.

Now I am rational enough to know that these disasters have nothing to do with me. Surely, there is no mystical force at play, warning me about writing a second book. The very idea is silly...ridiculous!!!

And yet...

Today I had an early TV appearance scheduled for the NBC 30 Morning Show in West Hartford, CT. My 4-minute spot was to highlight some of the easy appetizers from my book, Summer: A User's Guide. I decided to showcase only those recipes that required less than four ingredients to prepare and required minimal kitchen work (because let's face it, who wants to be bent over a stove when it's 90 degrees outside?)

Anyhoo...I whipped up the recipes last night, which included parmesan-cheddar breadsticks, Boursin-stuffed cherry tomatoes, bacon-wrapped dates, sausage balls, mango & goat cheese quesadillas, and sundried tomato spread on homemade pita crisps, then, at 7:40 this morning, I packed up the Jeep with all my goodies, tools and props, and hit the road. By--let's call it--7:47, I realized I was totally screwed. Well, that is, my front tire was totally screwed, as a three inch carpenters screw was embedded deep in the tread, resulting in the picture-perfect flat tire. A few phone calls later: one to my husband, one to the incredibly sympathetic producer at NBC (who was nice enough to reschedule me for next Friday, the 27th--don't forget to watch!), and finally to AAA (that's Triple A, not AA). Realizing there was nothing else left to do but wait for the nice man in the tow truck to arrive, I plopped myself by the side of the road, and dug into a delicious NBC 30 feast. It was there on that curb, somewhere around my third breadstick and sixth sausage ball, that two things struck me. First, that I was getting my new, white, Roberto Cavalli jeans dirty, and secondly--and more importantly--that I had somehow, in Magoo-like fashion, unintentionally averted what could have been two very, very bad situations. I crossed the road to Grand Central Station at 3pm, not 5pm, when the steam pipe blew. And my tire went flat as a pancake on idyllic Route 133, and not while I was sandwiched between two tractor trailers on I-684.

And so, barring a meteor hitting our house tomorrow, or a swarm of locusts filling the skies, I feel the Gods are telling me to take a leap of faith. To set out to conquer all obstacles. And--since the Gods are smarter than we often give them credit for--to add more cracked black pepper to my cheesy breadsticks moving forward.


CHEESY BREADSTICKS

Dip thin strips of refrigerated breadstick dough into a mixture of ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup of either Gruyere or Cheddar cheese. If you'd like, sprinkle with some chopped fresh rosemary, or add a few twists from a pepper mill. Twists sticks, then place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven until golden-brown (approximately 10-15 minutes).