Friday, March 30, 2007

Foodie Duty: Report On The Random

I am really eating up this lycopene thing.

That's the chemical that makes tomatoes red. It's also a super powered antioxidant in any tomato based product, like ketchup, tomato paste and the like.

Scientists have discovered, in case you didn't know, that lycopene is a master cancer fighter. Dietitians everywhere have sung the praises of lycopene and suggest you have at least 10 tablespoons of tomato sauce or other tomato type food for maximum benefits.

I wonder if these potato chips count.

I've always heard about (or abaoot, in this case) how Canadians love their ketchup flavored chips but noticed that intriguing version isn't found south of the border.

Until now.

The wonders of all points north (can someone hum me a few bars from Oh Canada?) have made it to the office break room.

And I gotta say is: who's been bogarting the bag o' chips?

They're tangy and sweet but don't have quite the kick that your favorite barbeque variety offers.

I don't know that they offer any lycopene, but I'll eat 'em anyway.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I Hate The Chain Gang

The producer pod had an interesting discussion today spurred by my quirky dislike of chain restaurants.

I cannot explain to you the sheer disdain I have for dining establishments of the Applebee's/Outback/Red Lobster variety. The fact of the matter is, if it's a nationwide chain, then I pretty much hate it.

I'll admit, it's a really odd characteristic.

Some people I know - they hate condiments. Others, well they hate seafood. Our likes and dislikes are what define us. They make us unique and they add to the variety that is this great big world.

I suppose part of my anti-chain philosophy developed after growing up in a town that has nary a chain to offer, aside from the two McDonald's sitting along the interstate. My charming New England hometown is chock full of homes that celebrated their 100 year birthdays when George Washington visited to watch Long Island Sound for British ships. In it's fervor to protect posterity, the forefathers of Madison, CT passed laws banning chains and strip malls and the like.

We have a Starbucks and a Dunkin' Donuts (because one can never have too much coffee), but we have to drive 45 minutes away if we want to sink our teeth into anything remotely chain.

Another reason why I hate chain restaurants: the food.

Eating is one of my favorite hobbies. I am passionate about new, unique dining establishments and culinary feats that celebrate the art of all things gourmet. I'm also a big fan of little dives that serve up the best down home cooking this side of the Mississippi.

I love restaurants that strive for creative cooking, no matter the genre of food on the plate, and I tend to think a chain is the last place I'm going to get a chance to try something creative.

You know what I'm talking about. Peppercorn ranch. Rubbery chicken served seven different ways. Marinara blah blah blah.

It's enough to make me want to run off to a Moroccan casbah and eat couscous and cumin flavored lamb skewers.

Wait, that sounds pretty good...

The fact of the matter is, I love eclectic dining spots. I love to support the little guy. I encourage dining in locally owned and operated restaurants that help communities thrive and grow.

Indigo is a great example of an independent, Cincinnati restaurant. Owner Shawn Bleh opened his first location in Hyde Park over 18 years ago. The menu is creative and features some of the best calzones I've ever had. Three years after opening the spot, he decided to branch out to Northern Kentucky. The Fort Mitchell location features the same unique menu that's brought thousands of diners through the door for years.

Sure, I can run down a list of all the shi-shi little guy spots I like. Places like Teak Thai, Beluga, and, yes, even Jeff Ruby's.

But the fact of the matter is, I love lots of low-key little guy restaurants, too. Tucker's in Over-the-Rhine ranks as my #1 spot to have breakfast- their goetta is awesome. So are their french toast and hash browns. I love Allyn's Cafe for it's excellent margaritas and uber-eclectic decor. I think Bangkok Bistro serves up some of the best Thai food I've ever had ( I had the most incredible dish for my birthday that showcased squid and octopus in this complex, spicy sauce), and don't even get me started on the Mad Max burrito at Habanero on Ludlow Ave. in Clifton. The batter-fried tillapia and pineapple salsa is an incredible combination...

I could go on and on, but to continue typing would be sheer torture this close to dinner time.

The point is, I can't really explain why I like indie restaurants. But after reading the above, I suppose I don't have to...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Great Ennui

Sometimes I struggle to find inspiration.

And that's when I turn to the internet.

This guy has a list of 100 random blog topics to springboard from. Everything from the far-out random Who's your favorite figure skater? to the more controversial and yet alluring If you could ask George Bush five questions, what would they be?

Thoughts abound with that last one.

Instead, I am going to blog about #44.

"Do you own a TV and if you do and you meet someone who doesn't, how arrogant are they?"

This is a somewhat perplexing question because I don't know that I've met anyone who exhibited arrogance over their sans-tv lifestyle.

I have, however, met those bowled over with their own, massive, could-stand-in-for-the-jumbotron-at-the-ballpark kind of television.

My perspective on televisions is a little unique.

I make my living thanks to the boob tube, as my grandfather liked to call it.

I happen to have three of those little boob tubes in my small apartment. A good sized tv sits in the living room, along with my $30 DVD player. I've got another UHF/VHF rotary dial, traditional set in the kitchen that's just big enough to have a decent picture but small enough that I can set on the toilet seat to watch Desperate Housewives while I'm taking a bubble bath.

Now, if that isn't delicious, I don't know what is.

My third set is a hand-me-down from my sister, Bridge. She got it as a reward for good grades when she was, like, eight years old. I, on the other hand, was banished from watching The Cosby Show/Family Ties/Growing Pains etc. for a good six years or so because my grades were never good enough.

But I digress.

This third TV is in my bedroom. The remote control is held together with two rubber bands and I often have to get out of my bed and smack the bitch television upside the head for the waves and revolving streaks to settle.

Obviously television quality doesn't rate very high on my list of priorities.

And here's the kicker about this whole thing: I don't have cable.

That's right.

I am a credible news woman and I don't even have a way to watch CNN. I really don't know what I'd do if I was stuck at home on a Sunday and a quasi-major news event erupted. I would be relegated to watching a Robert Schuller broadcast from the Crystal Cathedral or some cheesy infomercial starring Ron Popiel.

All I'm asking is someone calls me when the second coming of Christ happens.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Miss Complainer

As a rule, I am pretty much a go-with-the-flow kind of girl.

I admit I am anal when it comes to itineraries and expectations involving time frames and other elements of a planning nature. But as impromptu goes, as life's little frustrations go, I am pretty content to roll with the punches.

I decided to make a change Saturday.

I got my hair highlighted a week and a half ago. I started going to an Aveda school in Hyde Park about two years ago (aside: The School is said to have the best Spa Pedicure in Cincinnati). The stylists are students on the brink of heading out to real world salons. In the meantime, they practice on fashion mavens looking for a new 'do on the cheap.

Like me.

Well, the morning of Saint Patrick's Day I went in for my monthly highlight/lowlight combo. I won't bore you with the prescription details but I will say I prefer colors ranging from a deep, coppery red to a platinum blonde on this head 'o mine.

I walked out with highlights the shade of gold. Like, trailer park gold.

Tanya Harding gold.

Brassy, trashy, walking-through-Section-8-housing-with-a-40-and-a-pack-of-Virginia-Slims gold.

That is -not- how I roll.

I would normally suck it up and stick with the effed up highlights, considering I go monthly and have another appointment in a few weeks.

But I decided I wasn't okay with that. I took a long look in the mirror last Sunday and thought about how my full head of hair is one of the first things you notice about me (aside from other characteristics). A full head of hair has long been a symbol of youth, vibrance and beauty. In Renaissance Italy, a beautiful head of blonde hair became the unquestioned symbol of feminine beauty.

These days a good cut and color job is a symbol of personal worth and style.

I got my hairr re-did this Saturday and am quite happy with the results.

Proof positive that it pays to speak up.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I Am Falling Apart

I have the most wretched back pain today.

It came about yesterday afternoon and it is just killing me. I have been heard on several occasions today asking for a small child to walk on my back. So far, no takers, but the day is young.

I suppose the body starts falling apart the minute you turn 30, right?


I have a wicked pattern of bumps on my wrist.

I don't know if a mosquito went medieval on my skin (are those suckers already out?) or if this is an allergic outbreak or some alien symbol claiming my body.
If I were to connect the dots, the image would look like some hieroglyphic dog running across my flesh.
I have a wicked headache. I don't know if it's for my lack of eating (actually, come to think of it, that arena isn't really lacking these days) but I just had a peach fruit cup so that should give me a good dose of fructose.
On the plus side of things, my toes are freshly painted and my legs got their first swift shave of 2007 this morning. I suppose I can't hide under my pants any longer.
I can't believe I really confess all this crap to you guys.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tubby Leaving Kentucky

This report crossed at 4:17 - updates to come

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Kentucky's Tubby Smith will be the University
of Minnesota's new basketball coach, a Minnesota school official
said Thursday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Minnesota
had not yet announced the hire. The Gophers fired coach Dan Monson
in November.
Minnesota announced a Friday news conference to introduce its
new coach, but did not name him.
Smith met with the Kentucky players earlier Thursday, said
basketball spokesman Scott Stricklin.
Stricklin said he didn't know what Smith told the players and
had no further comment.
The news was first reported by and
The Wildcats went 22-12 this season and made it to the NCAA
tournament, but lost the first weekend. Kentucky hasn't been to the
Final Four since 1998, and the program has lost 10 or more games in
a season five times under Smith - more than any other coach.
Smith will take over a Minnesota program that struggled for
years under Monson, who was hired to rehabilitate the Gophers
program after an academic scandal under former coach Clem Haskins.
Monson cleaned up the program, but the Gophers didn't win.
He was forced to resign seven games into his eighth season with
a record of 118-106 and only one NCAA tournament appearance.
The Gophers didn't get into any trouble under Monson's watch,
but he failed to keep a handful of in-state high school stars from
choosing other schools and wasn't able to find consistency on the
court. Many of his starting lineups were cobbled together with
transfers and never found the cohesiveness needed to become a
first-division Big Ten team.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
AP-NY-03-22-07 1617EDT

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nine Months Too Late

I've already told you how much I love Amy Winehouse.

I picked up her album, Back to Black, last night and had to pontificate a little more.

This chanteuse has a gravely, tar coated voice that just pours over the angst that comes when you fall in love a million times.

And that's why I totally identify with this chick.

Every tune on Back to Black is about unrequited love, broken love, cheating love, painful love or second-hand love.

Winehouse will make you take a trip down memory lane, pick off the scabs of your own hurtful relationships and cry seven which ways 'til Sunday.

Here's a link to the title song lyrics.

Amy Winehouse makes me remember my past mistakes and heartbreaks, and yet she makes me feel strong, independent and not alone in the burden that is being a romantic.

We Love You Already

Hi Lima Bean,

I was just talking to your mommy last night about you - I can't tell you how excited I was when I saw this picture of you in my inbox this morning...

We don't know yet whether you're my niece or my nephew, but we all (yes, even Aunt Mickie) already love you so much.

You've only existed in this great big world for about 9 and a half weeks, and yet you've already changed this world so, so much.

You've made one family super excited about the changes that are to come when you arrive in October.

Whether you be a Hannah or a Liam, just know I can't wait to dote on you and spoil you rotten.

Because that's what aunts are supposed to do - especially the cool aunts.

Aunt Kate

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"This Is Why Duke Sucks" And Other Fine Selections

The NCAA Tournament officially wrapped up this past Sunday and Kentucky Wildcat fans everywhere are looking forward to a great basketball season next year.

Okay, that's not really true. The Tournament is alive and kicking, but Big Blue will have to sit out the rest of the dance. The loss was a hard one to swallow - what with Kansas steamrolling over UK, 88 to 76.

I was heartbroken.

The Cats just didn't appear to have the get up and go they normally have during March Madness.

That said, at least we can be proud our team made it past the first round.

San Antonio's Express-News had a nice little ditty Sunday about Duke's first round loss. The writer says the loss is akin to recent stock market "corrections" involving computer giant Dell.

I don't really know about that, but I do know I was pretty tickled pink about the upset.

It appears I'm not alone.

Basketball fans everywhere hate the Blue Devils, and they're using their creativity to express the sheer disgust they have for that team in Durham.

This little You Tube gem is a riot. It definitely deserves some pub, just in case you haven't seen it.

Here's a little nugget that spotlights the rivalry between the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels. Considering I was born in Charlotte, I've always taken up for UNC. You will, too, after checking out this sweet piece of editing magic.

There's also some great pieces from Cat fans out there. Some celebrate the team's accomplishments...

Others aim to rally the troops against Tubby.

And yes, I'm sparing you from The Shot. It's out there, too. Please, don't click on that link unless you're a masochist.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Scones For Sale

I have somewhere around 25 scones frozen in my freezer right now. Dr. Atkins is probably rolling in his grave, what with such a massive supply of homemade, baked decadence.

Scones for sale - $25 bucks each.
*** *** ***
I decided to take a bit of a walk to work today.

My first bus dropped me off at Main St. in Cincy, a few blocks south of the Aronoff - I was en route to my second bus stop when I noticed the 39 breezing past me.


I walked all the way up Cincinnati's Main Street towards Liberty Hill. So many independent businesses, mini marts, intriguing art galleries. Darling buildings with clever paint jobs and fresh re-hab work. Renovated lofts, condos and apartments just dying for young blood to call the neighborhood home.

I started getting hungry for the urban life.

I made it to the old stretch of Main - the part that used to be really hot but now is more run down and less inhabited - the two or three blocks south of Liberty. I was walking a swift but confident pace when one guy passed me and offered, "Hey. I like your strut. You walkin' like you own the world."

Hey, buddy. Thanks. Not quite, but I'm workin' on it.
*** *** *** ***
I was tickled to see my Cincinnati neighborhood get a major shout out on the front page of today's paper. They've (whoever they are, I don't really know) been saying it for years - Oakley is the city's hot ticket. More cute boutiques and great restaurants (like Cincinnati Magazine's #2 restaurant, Boca) moving in and housing prices staying affordable for new homebuyers.

I like to tell people that Oakley has the charm of Hyde Park with Norwood's prices.
*** *** *** ***

Somehow, I started getting messages from that dating website, I don't ever recall signing up for this thing, but the emails from prospective suitors have become quite amusing.

Messages are pouring in from guys with profile names like Pussyneeder, Gaboi 80 and Lil Man Big Wang 89. Equally undesirable are the guys with the handles quest dragons and Luvs2Eat000.

If this is an adequate sample of the guys out there, then I suppose I should be happy I'm single.
*** *** *** ***
The countdown is on.

I am 25 days away from getting my car back.

I did the budgeting this weekend and I'll have to wait until April 13th to have the dough to fix the Turbo on the Saab.

I could be all strong and martyr-like and say this bus thing is growing on me, but then I'd be fibbing big time. I've made it thus far thanks to the kindness and generosity of all my good friends who a) don't want me to be stranded at work and b) think I add enough to the social scene to pick my ass up at home and take me out from time to time.

Thanks to all - you know who you are.
*** *** *** ***
Aqua in Mt. Lookout.

It's worth your time if you like having good sushi in a shi-shi setting.

I went there for a drink and a bite with some friends Saturday evening to celebrate the end of the Fashion Show Fiasco. As drinks go - I highly recommend the Pineapple Saki Martini. I was a bit apprehensive - I thought the concoction would taste syrupy sweet. That's the kind of drink I down in, like, three seconds flat. The saki combination did a lot to tone down the sweetness and give the drink some real depth as martinis go. I can't wait to go back for another.

For dinner I tried the Kobe beef carpaccio appetizer with enoki mushrooms and kaiware salad. The salad was more like a micro salad with a tangy, almost citrus dressing. The itty bitty, beautuful, white enoki mushrooms were buttery and incredibly decadent. As for the carpaccio, I didn't really know what to expect in regards to raw meat. That's right. This beef pretty much comes to the table moo-ing. The plate was decorated with these exquisite, lacy, paper-thin slices of raw Kobe beef. The carpaccio was incredibly tender (the word gentle comes to mind) and delicious.

I also tried the Crunch sushi roll. I suppose the roll didn't make that much of an impression on me because I can't recall which kind of fish it had in it, but the roll was covered with a mound of tempura flakes hence the Crunch moniker that made for a novel treat.

The martini was in the neighborhood of seven bucks. The carpaccio and the sushi were around 21 bucks without tip.

Here's a review if you'd like to read more.
*** *** *** ***
The Police just announced they'll play a concert at Churchill Downs Saturday July 14th. Save your pennies - tickets will range between $50 and $225. This is a perfect opportunity for you and your friends to play a live version of the Roxanne drinking game with Sting and co.

I always get shitfaced when I play that game.
*** *** *** ***
I'm taking a step at fighting the war that has become my complexion.

On-air talent always know the best way to battle/cover up/camoflage and otherwise conceal an errant pimple. Last week one of my newsroom friends passed on the three key bottles of the Proactiv system for me to try.

So far so good. I've noticed a definite difference in the epidermic eruptions that plague my face from time to time. I've got a couple spots that are not towing the line, but otherwise I'm pretty happy.

I'll let you know how things flesh out on this one.

Friday, March 16, 2007

We Interrupt This Broadcast

Kate the Great continues to take a break from the blog.

Intense preparation is underway as Kate prepares for her emcee debut (she is used to the "other" side of the limelight, you see) at the Junior League of Cincinnati's Saint Patrick's Day Tea and Fashion Show tomorrow afternoon.

This event will do two things: help support the JLC endowment and also draw donations for the Dress for Success nonprofit organization. The event will also reveal whether Kate can remember what it's like to be front and center before 70 pairs of eyes (believe it or not, Kate is a trained singer and has toured abroad to entertain people from all over. But that was a million years ago...)

Kate is pretty much freaking out about the emcee gig.


This weekend will require exceptional skills from Kate's talented and very experienced liver. The pairing of basketball (Go Big Blue!) and Saint Patrick's Day leads to a combination that can challenge any endurance drinker.

To borrow from the New York Times, that's all the news that's fit to print.

Word has it Kate is up to her elbows in scone batter right now (56 baked for tomorrow's event. 16 more to go...) and is also getting ready to create a custom pink rose and green grosgrain centerpiece for one of the 12 tables. Get out the glue gun...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Familiar Roles

My youngest sister called me in a panic today.

Mickdizzle moving in to her dorm Freshman year at Ohio University

Mickdizzle was once the center of my world. She's ten years my junior, so on many occasions I stepped in as Mother #2 - changing her diapers, feeding her and getting her to go night night.

God, how she loved hanging in that tree in our front yard.

Now Mickdizzle is a big girl - a sophomore in college, with nary a need to ask her bigger, wiser (older) sister for advice. In fact, she pretty much hates it whenever I share a nugget I think she'd benefit from.

But today - today she called me in a time of crisis. And I was glad to be there.

Mick was in a panic and she needed some support STAT. Usually our dad is her Go To Guy when Mickdizzle needs to calm down, needs a wise voice to help put her worries in perspective. But today my dad was having surgery (nothing significant) and so Mick was a bit lost, struggling to turn somewhere.

My phone rang at about 12:32.

A minute later and I would have been gone, busy in the work break room heating up my Kroger brand chicken-and-rice lunch tub. But Mick called at the perfect time (things have a way of working like that sometimes) and I was a bit caught off guard when I saw her name on the caller ID - only because she never calls me.

"Where's Mom and Dad?"

I didn't hold it against her that she first asked where our parents are. It's natural, after all, for a child to seek the wisdom and comfort a parent can offer during a time of crisis.

But a big sister comes in at a close second.

I explained to her about the surgery and then got to the bottom of the crisis.

I could barely make it out through the crying on the other end of the line, but eventually I learned Mick was freaking out because of a test she had in three hours. On top of that, Mickdizzle was battling a cold and she was concerned the codeine-filled medication dispensed by the university health service was causing an awful stomach ache.

In hindsight it seems like a pretty simple scenario, but Mick's my sister and at the time I didn't want to measure the magnitude of her crisis - I just wanted to help her cope.

I started talking in a calm, soft tone - What's your test on? Tell me about your cold. What's wrong with your stomach?

I told Mickdizzle what Mom would give me when I had an upset stomach - 7 Up or ginger ale. I told her that would probably settle things, and then I worked on getting her focused for the test. After several minutes of calm discussion to get her focused on the task at hand, Mick had stopped crying and sounded pretty in control.

Mickie on Christmas Day 2005.

I was able to mask my joy during the phone call, shouting in my head "She needs me! She needs me!"

Lately I've been worried about my relationship with Mickdizzle. Worried about whether we'll ever grow close. Worried about whether she actually cared about me. She's in that phase where she thinks she's cooler than the rest of the family and so we all basically dote on her, pining for a sliver of attention.

I know that next time I see Mick she'll probably be snarky and fierce and aloof.

But I think I know she loves me, and today proves she needs me.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Foodie Duty - World Of Pure Imagination

I took a one hour break from my Lenten Sacrifice and I don't feel a bit guilty, even though it was pure sin.

Okay maybe I feel a bit guilty, but it was worth it.

Last night my mother and I went to a reception at the Home and Garden Show at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati.

This event was put on by the Junior League of Cincinnati - it was an opportunity for me to shirk my seasonal challenge for some true decadence. The pinnacle of the reception can be summed up in two words:

Chocolate. Fountain.

Lord have mercy - I can still smell the pure, molten chocolate dripping down the cascade, surrounded by strawberries, pineapple chunks and marshmallow peeps on bamboo skewers. Silver trays surrounded the ooey, gooey fountain with heaps of potato chips, pretzel rods and cookies.

I feel guilty even writing about it.

My brain was trying to coerce me into my own La Dolce Vita moment -Marcello! Marcello!- unfortunately this curvy, drowning blonde wouldn't be fished out of the fountain like Sylvia.

At the other end of the hall, a quaint display featured these tiered platters of tiny, milk chocolate jiggers full of some Godiva liqueur, topped with the smallest dollops of whipped cream, a rasberry and a sliver of mint.

What a way to break the rules.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Amy Winehouse

Do yourself a favor, check this chick out.

Amy Winehouse released her newest CD in England in October 2006, but Back to Black makes its American debut next Tuesday.

She's a young Brit, but her tunes sound more like they were just discovered in an old Motown vault hiding the era's best soul tunes.

My first ever blog friend, Micah, introduced me to Amy Winehouse several months ago in a mix cd, and her voice has infected my brain ever since.

Her voice is smoky, longing and belying of her 23-year-young age.

Winehouse will make you tap your toes, bop in your office cubicle and think back to your own melancholy past.

I am especially in love with her tune, Rehab. Perhaps Britney gave it a listen?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Random Thoughts

Should a person sound an alarm or call the police when they see a person get off a city bus carrying a chainsaw?

Like, out in the open, with no case, ready to go Freddy Krueger on anyone standing nearby?

Because I imagine a chainsaw can be used as a deadly weapon - and I suppose toting around such a tool violates some conceal and carry law or homeland security law.

Just a thought.

*** *** *** *** ***
Never fails, I think about writing this next one weekly.

Once in a while I'm caught in a bind - I need to do my business in a place where I do my business. You know - a bodily function that everybody does (I think this is when I start reminding myself about that child's book Everybody Poops) and nobody talks about, well, at least when at work.

Come on. You know you've thought about it, too.

I just can't bring myself to take care of business in a restroom that anyone else could enter at any time. One hitters - those are perfect. I can lock the door, do what I need to do and take care of any offensive odors before someone else walks in.

But the multiple stall scenario? Talk about literally getting caught with your pants down. There are so many sounds, smells and other signals that could warn the unsuspecting entrant about the un-ladylike goings on in the bathroom.

And that really stresses me out.

Today I found a bathroom that's totally out of the way for my coworkers, and yet it's roomy enough so as to not really cause any problems should I be caught in a bind.

Because poop cramps are one thing I just can't tolerate at work.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Cut To The Heart

What do you say to a person grappling with her deepest, darkest personal pain?

I typically don't write about other people on this blog - it's a place where I prefer to expose my weaknesses and celebrate my triumphs for all who care to read. Today, though, I'm consumed with another person's burden of grief and heartache.

The latest Sunday paper featured a poignant newspaper column by one of my coworkers about the tender devastation of her son's stillbirth.

As a single, 30-year-old woman, I have no way to identify with the magnitude of that crossroads. Granted, I cried (twice) after reading her piece, but I dare say there's no such experience I have in my rocky past to compare with this tragedy.

I have my own moments of challenge, the most significant being the period when my father (and our entire family) coped and recovered from a benign brain tumor the size of a plum. The messy mass of nerves clung to the rear of his brain - just centimeters from my dad's brain stem.

The prospect of losing a parent can rattle your very perspective on the world. You quickly realize your heroes are not immortal. You discover you may soon be called up to duty to serve as the caregiver, not the cared for. You assume the responsibility that comes with rapid maturity.

Parents are supposed to precede us in death. That's the natural order of things and so a dying or aging parent isn't a real surprise, no matter how painful an experience that is.

But saying goodbye to a child - no matter how young - that's a tough pill to swallow.

And so I don't really know what to say after reading about my co-worker's piece.

Perhaps a prayer is the best, silent offering I can give.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Foodie Duty - Sublime and Simple

I love food.

I am a gourmand always battling my gut. Usually my tasty tendencies win out, but that's okay with me. I always say I'd rather be fat and happy than skinny and bitchy. But I digress.

I am going to try and post some of my dining discoveries every Friday - this will push me to expand my edible horizons weekly and also provide you with some unique content (I am now sounding more like a news producer than a dining diva.)


Last night's dinner was a battle between The Sublime and The Simple.

Starting with The Sublime:

I bought this amazing wedge of cheese at The Fresh Market. It's called Gourmandise by Rambol. It was $4.20, but I don't recall what the price was per ounce.

The cheese was uber soft, like a triple creme. The wedge had these layers of mild, buttery cheese alternating with streaks of walnut flavored creme and bits of real nuts. I was in heaven, slicing off bits of cheese and eating them sans crackers. I really wanted to eat the whole wedge but that would have put my caloric intake really overboard.

Round two was a healthy sample from the store's olive bar. I'm not a fan of green olives, but I had to try a couple of the kind stuffed with feta cheese. They were firm and tangy like I expect a green olive, but filled with nuggets of Greek cheese. A pleasant, zesty surprise from the blue cheese variety. I was heavy handed when spooning the roasted garlic cloves into my container. I love roasted garlic, but it has a way of affecting my digestive process.

That's all I'm going to say about that.

I was pleased with the roasted red peppers - tender and full of that gentle flavor I expect from a roasted red pepper, but my favorite sample from the bar were these two small green stuffed peppers. They were stuffed with strips of provolone cheese and a pepperoni type meat. Tasty, little orbs I salivated over.

I was crushed when they were all gone.

Now for The Simple:

I rounded out my meal with a couple of simple additions - a bit of The Fresh Market's New York Deli Mix. The FM has dozens of scoop-yourself varieties of nuts, snack mixes, dried fruit and candy. The New York Deli Mix is similar to Gardetto's blends - pretzel sticks, mini cracker sticks and my favorite - flavored Melba toast. The whole blend is zesty, crunchy and wonderful.

And I washed it all down with an American classic - a cold bottle of Miller Lite.

A great meal (albeit unconventional), indeed.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sugar High

So, earlier I told you all that I was giving up sugar for Lent.

Well, let me tell you, this has been quite the struggle.

The holidays are long over but the newsroom continues to be a mecca for all things sweet. One coworker has a glass jar on her desk filled by a bottomless pit of candy. Today my health reporter brought a variety of decadent treats from one of Cincinnati's best bakeries - Who knew milk chocolate can help you stay focused? note to self...


I have found myself between a rock and a hard spot.

Like this kind of rock and a hard spot.

A couple nights ago I thought about downing a couple spoonsful of sugar before going to bed, but then I realized that A) I am not, in fact, Mary Poppins and B) I had, in fact, decided to torture myself by giving up sweets for Lent.

So I guess that rules out mainlining honey in the restroom at work.

This big Lenten challenge has forced me to explore what legal sweets are out there. I was desperate for a tasty treat that came in some form other than baked good, candy or other indulgence.

And here's what I discovered.

Dried pineapple must be Mother Nature's candy.

Fresh, juicy pineapples are sliced just at the peak of ripeness, and then dried for 24 hours.

What's left behind is a sugary, chewy ring that is the perfect treat for those of us who are looking to curb our intake of processed sugar.

I can't find any definite nutritional information but one thing's for sure - these treats are awesome and they probably count as a fruit exchange for those of you who count that kind of thing.

Today I had a chance to try my second best Lenten sweet - an amazing, tiny orange straight from Florida. We sent a crew down to the Sunshine State for Reds Spring Training and a co-worker brought one of those mesh bags back, full of tiny little orbs just waiting to reveal their juicy secret.

I discovered another Florida secret - apparently the Sunshine State keeps the best stuff.

I have never had an orange as sweet as the two I ate today, and I'm kind of misty at the thought perhaps I found, and ate, the holy grail of citrus sweetness - something to never be found again.

But then it dawned on me - I only have to live like this until April 8th.

Then I can chow down on as many chocolate bunnies and Yellow peeps as I want.