Monday, November 29, 2010

A Digital Death For Celebrities on World Aids Day on Wednesday Dec 1, 2010

Will you be shocked to the point of 'waking up' on Wednesday when you see one of your favorite celebrities like Alicia Keys  or Lady Gaga lying in coffins to represent what the campaign, Digital Life Sacrifice, calls their digital deaths? On Dec 1, 2010 World Aids Day, these stars will jolt you into wondering why we care so much about one celebrity's death as opposed to the millions of others who are steadily affected by HIV and AIDS. Gaga, Keys, and many others will soon sign off their Facebook and Twitter accounts and not return until $1 million dollars is raised for families in Africa and India who are so savagely affected by this cruel disease. I doubt they will be 'dead' long...

These techno savvy personalities know how to take full advantage of the mediums they so avidly use in order to help raise lots of money for their worthwhile causes. Lady Gaga alone has over 7.2 million followers on Twitter and 24 million fans on Facebook which is sure to generate titanic action!

However, if you want to support those closer to home on World Aids Day about giving to the Arkansas Aids Foundation which caters strictly to those in the Natural State. So, don't get emotional on Wednesday when you see the digital death of your favorite celebrity, just 'wake up' and put this disease into a proper perspective!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Good Eats Before and After the Holidays

I think we all may look forward to Thanksgiving cooking, however we certainly busy up the eatin' holes around town on the day before and after any major holiday! Lunch today at an old North Little Rock standby, Gadwall's Grill, was no exception. Always packed with hungry customers and fun duck stuff on the walls, this place is high on my list of good eats. Seems like no matter how full the parking lot...there's always room for you in Gadwall's. Also, good to see that they have weathered the storm and pulled together nicely from a fire disaster they had a while back.

Friendly and great service were on the menu today as well as the tasty Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup with Cornbread, a Soaked Salad, and the house wine of the South...refreshing Iced Tea.  All this for under $8.00! My only complaint is with the cake like cornbread.  Cooking 'real cornbread' the 'correct Southern way' via an iron skillet seems to have gone by the wayside at lots of eateries. They do have a great variety of burgers, chilies, nachos, and I hear from a few excited friends that they are even serving a fine breakfast on the weekends. Will have to 'waddle on in' some weekend soon to see what all the quacking is about.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Classic Beef Stew and a couple of others

You remember the story of the Three ate the porridge and it was too hot...another ate the porridge and it was too cold...finally the third bear dug in and found the stew was pretty darn good! Reminds me of how people are never satisfied. Picky, picky, picky. Always looking for something more...

Well, check out the following recipes to see if you might be a classic beef stew fanatic who throws every thing in from the bountiful harvest, or if you are a French mushroom stew connoisseur sort of  person, or maybe even a stew purist and you didn't even know it!  Whatever kind of stew guy or girl you are...check out the three recipes below. I'm sure one will be JUST RIGHT for you!
Classic Beef Stew!
Prep: 35 minutes  Bake:  4 hrs
Serves 8, about 1 1/2 cups each

2 lbs beef stew meat, 1 in cubes
4 med carrots, 1 in slices
2 med onions, cut into eighths
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans (16 oz each) whole tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup quick cooking tapioca
1 ts dried basil
2 ts salt
Pepper to taste
1 package frozen green peas
8 small new potatoes, cut in half

1.  Heat oven to 325 degrees
2.  Mix all ingredients except peas and potatoes in Dutch oven, breaking up the tomatoes.  Cover and bake for a couple of hours, stirring 2-3 times.
3.  Stir in peas and potatoes.  Cover and bake 1 - 1 1/2 hours longer or until beef and vegetables are tender.
4.  Keep covered and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Beef Stew w/Mushrooms
Prep: 15 minutes   Cook: 45 minutes
Serves 8, about 1 1/2 cups each
2 lbs beef stew meat (sirloin cut into cubes)
2 tbs flour
4 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
2 whole shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms
½ cup red wine
½ can beef consommé
Salt and pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbs flour
1.  Sprinkle flour over meat and toss to coat. 
2.  Melt butter with olive oil and sear meat over high heat in batches.  When browned, remove to a plate and set aside. 
3.  Add shallots and garlic and sauté over medium low heat for about 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook for 2 more minutes.  Pour in wine and consommé and a half can of water.  Add salt and pepper to taste and stir.  Bring to a boil and add back to the mixture the browned meat.  Reduce heat to low and add the thyme sprigs. 
4.  Cover and simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes.  Mix flour with a little water and stir.  Add to stew and allow to cook and thicken for about 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow stew to sit for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Irish Stew for the Purist
Prep:  15 minutes  Cook: 2 hrs
Serves 8, about 1 1/2 cups each

3 lbs good stew meat, cubed
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups good red wine
About 4 cups water
20 small pearl onions, peeled
4 large carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces

1.  Salt and pepper meat. Dredge in flour, coating fully.
2.  Brown the meat along with the garlic in a fair amount of shortening on the stove top in a heavy pot.
3.  Add wine to the browned stew meat.
4.  Add about 4 cups of water.
5.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 1/ 1/2 hours.
6.  Add pearl onions and carrots and cook for another 30 minutes. Add more water if stew is too thick. Serve this stew with mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Stuff, Or Not To Stuff, That Is The Question...

Every year at this time my family begins to think about the type of dressing our bird will sport this year. Surely this dramatic issue has crossed your family's mind a time or two in the last couple of weeks (or maybe you're just not normal like we are.) Visions of oysters, cornbread, nuts, sausage, wild rice, etc.  What will this year bring to our table? And if that isn't just too much to ponder, we then must decide where to put this the bird or around the bird...stuffer or dresser?  What are you?

Actually in the South we abide by a couple of simple rules and if complied to, everybody goes away gorged and happy. There really is no choice as to where to stick this fabulous accompaniment...dressing (never called stuffing) always goes outside the bird for a crunchy, tasty side dish which we then drench with all that fabulous and creamy giblet gravy!  If you stuff it in the bird, it takes on too many juices and becomes way too moist and gooky for our Southern palates. Even James Beard and his faithful followers know the right thing to do in this type of sticky situation. What about you? Please leave your comment below...we won't laugh too hard if you choose to do the wrong thing this Turkey Day...gobble, gobble.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Cast of Wicked at Sway

The hot ticket was found last night at Sway Nightclub in downtown Little Rock as the Arkansas Aids Foundation raised over $27,000 with a Cabaret and Live Auction generously performed by the Cast of Wicked on their only night off while in the area!  Wickedly GenerouSways, A Witches Night Off tickets were pre-sold and long gone at $40 a pop which included complimentary cocktails, fantastic seating, and a party with the cast who spent the entire evening belting their hearts out for the dynamic and also generous Little Rock bunch! All proceeds to benefit the Arkansas Aids Foundation which has been struggling during the past couple of years with loss of grant money and the recessed economy.

Among the numerous goods and services which were donated was a Live Greening which included Wicked's chief make-up artist giving a lucky audience member an interactive live on-stage experience! And one charitable fellow bought his chance of a lifetime for a Walk on at Wicked! I am Green with envy...but come next Sunday...I'll be seeing for the first time...Wicked at Robinson the cast, crew, and staff of the National Touring Company of Wicked put on a show I'm sure I will never forget! Last night was pretty special too...hope you got your tickets early...