Friday, April 16, 2010

4/20: aka National Munchie Day

This is a wonderful country. Oh sure we natives are all a bit over the top (well, very over the top) but with that comes our talent for throwing a great party. In the immortal words of the Beastie Boys, “You gotta fight for your right to party!” And that has never been truer than with my daughter’s generation.

Most of you might not realize it but in just a few days, most of the college students in Colorado won’t be in class. Nope, they are saving that sick day or that one test grade to be dropped for April 20th which just so happens to be National Weed Smoking Day. and the epicenter of that celebration is our own Boulder, Colorado.

Now I’m not saying that everyone attending this annual celebration will be smoking weed, especially not my perfect daughter, but they will certainly be celebrating with those who will. From what I hear, this exercise in civil disobedience turns the city of Boulder into a festival of sorts with energy drink companies passing out samples, a million flying Frisbees and a white cloud of smoke that can probably been seen from the space station. I feel so sorry for any retirees from Minnesota who innocently drive their RV into this beautiful little city having no idea what the hell is going on.

From what I understand this quaint little tradition has its origin in the 70s when a group of California high school students would meet at a neighborhood statue at 4:20 to get high after school. Somehow this afternoon date got morphed into the day of celebration we have today. Ahhh, those sentimentalists! I do find it surprising that from the same generation that began this party sprang the group of people who are now trying to kill it.

A few years ago, the Boulder police decided that they would fight fire with fire and stop all of this nonsense. Someone had the brilliant idea that they would offer up a $50.00 bounty to anyone who would turn someone in that they had seen smoking pot on 4/20. Good night nurse! What a perfect way for someone to get revenge on their enemies. Look at my boyfriend the wrong way, I’ll turn you in. Cut me off in traffic, 911! You get the idea. Well, to make a long story short, the program was a huge failure.

Whoever hatched this great idea must have been smoking something himself. I think if they really wanted to spoil the show, they should have offered mothers of college students a $50.00 Safeway gift card and a free bus ride to Boulder. We could have just walked around and acted like we were looking for our kids. Talk about a buzz kill! Maybe next time they’ll ask for my advice.

I really don’t have any strong views on subject and if I did, I’m way too politically correct to share them here. All I’m saying is, be it right or wrong, marijuana is here to stay, and with that comes the munchies which I do know a thing or two about. One of my favorite foods to nibble on is something that is not too sweet and simple to make especially if you have some bananas that are a bit too ripe, which I usually do. Add to this some pecans that I know you have in the freezer and you are ready to cook. I don’t know, maybe I’m missing a great opportunity by not baking up some goodies and selling them in Boulder next week but I think I'll just stay home and hold out for my $50.00 gift card.

Banana Nut Bread

¼ cup (56g) butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
3 medium size very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup (225g) self rising flour
1/2 cup (50g) chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium size bowl, cream the butter, eggs and sugar. Add the mashed bananas, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt, mix well. Add the flour 1/3 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the nuts and mix until just incorporated. Pour into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until it is firm and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling on a wire rack.

There is nothing better than a slice or two of this warm bread with a generous slathering of butter and a salad with homemade bleu cheese dressing. Yum!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lizards, Whipped Potatoes and One Fun Giveaway

My son and I discovered a couple of secrets about each other last week. I learned that despite his aloofness and quiet demeanor he does indeed seem to care about what goes on in his mother’s mind. I had no idea that he read my blog until his voice boomed from the den the other night, “I didn’t know that you hid vegetables in our food!” I quickly denied the admission I made in “A Cooks Confession” and wrote it off to poetic license. I don’t know if he bought it or not but, I guess I’ll have to start being very careful about what I write here as not to embarrass him or give away any parental trade secrets because as I know now, the opposing team is watching. After I was able to shake off being caught red handed, it occurred to me that he must be one of my silent followers. I’m so flattered and I want him to know if he’s reading this, how much I love him for it. Now, go clean your room.

Kevin and I don’t relate like we used to. When he was a really little guy, he and his sister would always run to my car instead of their father’s when we were going somewhere separately. I always took great pride in the fact that as much as they loved their father, it was obvious that they just loved me more. No less than what I would expect from people for whom I sacrificed my formerly hot body. Then at about eight years old a change occurred. Very gradually he started riding with his dad. Hey, he didn’t stand outside of the Disney store in the freezing UK rain just to score you a Buzz Lightyear buddy! I knew that this is the way it is supposed to be, but I hadn’t prepared myself to lose my baby boy so soon. Now days when we ride in the car together he often doesn’t say a word except for the occasional “yes" or "no.” In an effort to close the gap between us, I tried and failed miserably to bond with him by playing video games. I’ve also started watching sports with him but sometimes I just can’t endure the misery for too long and have to escape to my bedroom with a good book. Finally, in an effort to be the fun one for a change, I lifted my moratorium on reptiles and allowed him to bring home a collard lizard and all the paraphernalia that goes along with it. He bought an aquarium, sand, caves, hygrometers and thermometers, misters and things for it to climb on. All of this was just fine, and then came the food, crickets and worms; noisy, smelly crickets and big fat juicy worms which bear a suspicious likeness to maggots, in my house, in the hands of a teenage boy. This was the act of a desperate woman.

Fast forward seven months. Upon my return from Texas a few weeks ago, while changing the sheets on my son’s bed, I looked over and noticed that his lizard was sleeping in a very different position than normal. When Kevin arrived home from school I asked that he check on Jefe (boss in Espanol, I’m told) and was assured that that was the way lizards sleep, silly woman. Two days later, while putting away clothes in his drawers, I noticed that Jefe was in the same position. As an experiment I poked him with a wooden drumstick only to discover that he was as dead as the proverbial doornail. Hey, I may not know much, but I know a dead lizard when I see it.

Jefe in happier days

A couple of weeks later, we acquired a sick baby lizard from the manager at a local pet store who decided that it stood a better chance with us than in the garbage. Kevin and I made sure that this cute little guy had only the smallest crickets and the plumpest maggots, uh, wax worms, to fatten him up. We read up on sick baby lizards, kept his body at just the right temperature and fed him baby applesauce and bananas. Life was good until he suddenly died on us almost three weeks later. We were both heartbroken, but we were heartbroken together. Somehow, quite by accident, we had found our common ground, so I guess the disappointment was all worth it. Now that cute little lizard has been replaced with the meanest damn gecko I’ve ever seen. He looks like a Star Wars creature on crack and actually growled when the kid at the pet store pulled it out of the aquarium. I’ll tell you one thing; I won’t get too involved with this one, of course never say never, because it's obvious that there’s not much I won’t do to hang out with my wonderful boy.

Since I’ve dedicated this entry to him, it is only fitting that my recipe be for one of Kev's favorites. I know that my last few entries have been super simple, and I’m tooling up, but bear with me just one more time while I give up the secret to pure boy heaven.

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I know, I know, everyone knows how to make a decent plate of mashed potatoes. I thought the same thing until I set out to reinvent the wheel and kick up the flavor of the bland old mound of white on my plate. With just a few key additions, mashed potatoes are now an event at my house.

2 pounds (1 kilo) russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1” cubes
5 medium size cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
1 ounce (30g) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons (28g) butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons whole milk or half and half
Salt and white pepper to taste

Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan. Pour enough water over the potatoes to cover them by 1 inch; add the bouillon and stir. Bring to the boil, reduce heat slightly and cook until the potatoes are fork tender; drain.

Place the hot potatoes into a large bowl. Add the cream cheese, butter and milk; whip with an electric mixer on medium high until they are smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste and whip for a few seconds longer to incorporate.

Garnish with cheddar cheese, bacon, sliced green onion tops, caramelized onions, parsley or lots of homemade gravy.

Makes approximately 4 cups.

My next giveaway couldn’t come at a more opportune time. CSN which owns several great sites has given me the opportunity to give to one of my followers a Cuisinart 7 speed electric mixer so your whipped potatoes can be even better than mine. Their sites include which carries everything from corner tv stands to huge library walls, with great modern decorator products and my personal favorite site, which has a huge selection of items and really great prices. If you’re a follower of this site and you’d like to participate, please just leave me a comment saying so. If you’re not a follower and would like to participate in this drawing, just sign up to follow my site and leave me a comment stating you’d like be included. On the evening of Monday, April 5th, I’ll celebrate my daughter’s birthday by selecting a winner through Good luck! Oh yea, huge apologies to my followers in Europe and Australia as due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is only open to participants living in the US and Canada.