Check me out

My photo
Short and sweet. Literally. If you enjoy what you read dont forget to become a follower !

Friday, September 4, 2009

The LYG Story

Fridays are supposed to be the day for my mushy, pukey, nauseous love post. But since its week one of this blog I'll stray only slightly and use the days post to explain the title of this blog. Love Your Guts.

Its funny, it seems so simple and obvious to me. Its just a twist on the old "hate your guts!". From time to time, though, many friends and strangers alike have asked me to explain it. I cant do it without talking about Rachell Grubbs. One of the best friends Ive ever had, even though we have thousands of miles between us now ! We met working at a coffee shop in Tempe, Arizona and immediately got along famously. We worked together there for I think about 2 yrs... I know it was over a year for sure, and most likely close to 2. Im convinced that we had more fun at work than anyone in the history of fun at work ! We did behind the counter interpretive plastic bag dancing, drank countless shots of espresso, and knew every customer that came through the door by name and favorite drink. We were good. And the customers knew it ! As recently as this past spring I was still running into regulars from there who would tell me " its just never been the same" since you guys left, and its been over 5 yrs !!!

So when Rachell and I found out we had the same birthday, which couldnt have taken that long, we were ecstatic and felt it only made sense. There had to be an explanation for the over flowing creative energy between us, and in our minds this was it ! . Though we never used our collective talent for anything productive or lucrative, Im pretty sure we amused the hell out of quite a few people, to a point. I do remember on a few occasions hearing " I gotta go I cant handle you two" or " I feel like Im missing something here what the hell is so funny?" ( and to that I would say sometimes we didnt even know). Somehow our brains were a little more similar to each others than most. The connections happened at light speed, the jokes, stories, and sentences all came out a lot faster and sometimes were not even complete from an outside view even though we would be rolling in laughter !

Anyway eventually we became roommates and lived together for about 2 yrs ( again my memory sucks sorry). The madness continued ! We had great parties, and overall great times. We helped each other through many a boy problem, shared many a drink, and shed plenty of tears. Somewhere in the mess of all this I can remember a time where we were just being stupid and laughing at god knows what and Rachell saying ( very facetiously ) " I hate your guts" and I responded " Well I love your guts" . It just came out. It fit the moment perfectly, and I meant it. When we talked it though later we realized how unintentionally great it was.

Whether friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, brother, sister, mother or father, when you really love someone for everything they are you really do " love their guts" ! Inside and out. With all of their flaws, issues, and baggage ! And if you really want to get technical you do LOVE their liver, kidneys, lungs, spleen and everything else in there right down to their actual beating heart, all for keeping them alive for you to love them another day.

So next time you want to tell a friend how much you love them without sounding sappy, and without possibly embarrassing yourself just wind up like youre gonna let em' have it and say " you know what?... I love your guts !" Its more fun than your standard I love you, and even somewhat empowering (I swear).

Rachell if youre reading this... I still LOVE YOUR GUTS !!!

Well it looks like I might have fulfilled my mushy post assignment after all !

Some extra info... I chose Led Zeppelins " Fool in the Rain" as an homage to old times, Rachell and I love this song. We used to go to a particular piano bar in Tempe much too often, and much too often requested this song to the point of the staff learning it just for us ! They probably regretted it, too, since we requested it just as much as ever after that!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

BBQ Salmon Pizza

I made this pizza recently and loved it ! The best part is other than the pre-made dough I bought at Trader Joes I was honestly just trying to get rid of what was in the fridge. It is a black bean, bbq salmon pizza with caramelized onions, sesame seeds, and goat cheese, finished with fresh basil. Sounds crazy I know, but it was good enough that even though I knew I was full, and I KNEW I'd regret the hell out of it, I STILL ate a third piece. Sick.

I did not put strict measurements here, this is because you dont need them ! Have fun and taste while you go... depending on how big of a pizza your dough makes you can eyeball how much to use and how to spread out the ingreeds...

Pre-heat oven 375 degrees


pre-made pizza dough ( more power to ya if you want to make your own KEVIN, but Im personally not there yet, I like the Trader Joes dough, they even have whole wheat dough- not as good) ... and of course follow the dough directions... DO NOT forget to take out of fridge for 20 min or so this is KEY

black bean puree about half the can or so ( mine was canned, but you could make this as well, just cook em and throw em in the food processor)... definitely important that they are pureed as we will be spreading it as the base

salmon fresh, canned, or frozen... of course fresh is best

red onion
half of an average size onion (sliced into rings)

orange one whole juiced

goat cheese any kind and as much as you want !

sesame seeds
mine were in a shaker type thing, like what spices come in

basil the one thing you should be strict about in this pizza is that the basil is fresh

bbq sauce this is kind of an everything but the kitchen sink scenario dominated slightly by orange juice...

in order of appearance ( i know this makes some people nervous but ITS OK, just use your brain and think that you want enough to cook the salmon in, and a little left over to drizz )

ketchup 3/4 cup
orange juice
( save a little to soak onions in before caramelizing)

brown sugar
( let say no more than 2 tbsp unless you are making tons)
chile pepper ( I had a dried morita in mine but anything from red pepper flakes to jalapenos would work, just something for a kick)
vinegar ( i used apple cider vinegar, the sweetness plays well with the others, BUT you could get away with any type I think, just use a little less if its not the AC vinegar)
salt, pe
pper,cinnamon and cumin ( literally dashes of the last two)

Alrighty, lets get this shizer done ! I'd say its best to take the dough out of the fridge first and set aside. Now the sauce, because the slower and lower the better ! This way it can simmer while you put the rest of the puzzle together. In a small to medium sauce pan throw all the ingreeds in and dont forget they are listed in order of appearance starting with 3/4 cup ketchup and descending from there. This sauce will reduce quite a bit and become a beautiful, glossy dark amber. Make sure you keep it on LOW.

Toss your sliced onion rings in about 1/4 of all the orange juice. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Now, do the deal with your dough, and dont obsess over the shape for gods sake... just make it happy, it tastes the same either way! If you are not doing this on a pizza stone ( which would mean on a pan of some kind) spray it with non-stick action NOW, then put the dough on it and build the pizza here.

Start by evenly spreading the black bean puree over the dough leaving some edges clean for crust. Do not put a ton of pressure down while doing this as you might make a hole in the dough. Gentle.

Ok toss those onions in a saute pan ( just as they are with the OJ, nothing else !) and start on low, checking on them every once in a while... you may want to go up to medium heat eventually.

Now as long as about 10 or 15 minutes has past since you put the bbq sauce on we are good to go. If not just relax for a few, trust me you want to flavors to love each other. Then in a saute pan covered lightly in olive oil, or veg oil, whatever you like, place the salmon. Mix in most of the bbq sauce while gently breaking up the salmon into small flaky pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until cooked to your liking, and remember this will be spending time in the oven so depending on your taste you may not want to cook it through.

Spread salmon evenly over the black bean puree.

Time to check the onions. You want to see golden but translucent color. You also want them to be reduced a bit in size since the water has been cooked out of them. So look at my pictures and then look at your onions, if they look ANYTHING alike youre golden !

Now evenly spread the onions over your pizza.

Now the same with the goat cheese, break it up and spread it out.

Drizzle the remainder of your bbq sauce over the pizza.

Now sprinkle the sesame seeds however you like em !

"Shitaake mushroom!" You made a pizza. Put that bad boy in the oven for about 12 minutes and hope for the best ! Just kidding, it'll be fine. 12 minutes is probably not long enough, but its a great time to check on it. Everyones oven and tastes are different so just SET A TIMER, cause if youre anything like me you will try to do 15 things before the pizza is done and chances are the b*t$h might burn ! Dont take a chance.

Chop that FRESH basil, and when your amazing masterpiece is cooked to perfection you let the basil fall over it slowly like the finishing touches of a Rembrandt.

Eat it. Love it. Live it.

And let me know how it really was, god damned it. Seriously just because something worked once doesnt mean it will work every time !

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


( jellyfish definitely do not multi-task)

Have you ever caught yourself in a compromising or awkward position just because you are trying to do 12 things at once, or to avoid making the dreaded two trips ? Why do we do this to ourselves? Just today I found myself with a cookie in one hand and toilet paper in the other. What the f*#k ? 1. Gross ! and 2. How in the hell? Well, there is what seemed to me at the time a perfectly sound explanation. Or at least a sound explanation of how I wound up like that, but not why.

Where do I start... I think I had just cleaned up the kitchen and was headed back to the other end of my apartment with some papers in my hand when I simultaneously realized how hungry I was, and decided I was too lazy to make something serious. So, I grabbed a cookie. Closing the lid of the cookie jar with the papers hanging from my mouth. I proceeded down the hall and had to make a pit stop. Into the loo I went. Immediately I put the papers down on the counter without hesitation. But what to do with the cookie? Something just did not feel right about putting it down on ANY surface in there. It wasnt because the bathroom was dirty, I like to think I keep a pretty clean place. It might have been in part due to the fact that I put some serious love into making these delicious peanut butter chocolate chip delights just the day before. Either way, I wasnt puttin this cookie down. So there I was, sitting on the toilet, peeing, with a god damned delicious peanut butter chocolate chip cookie in my right hand. Naturally when the time came I had to do the old switcheroo between the cookie and the toilet paper( does that need explaining?), and as awkwardly as I got into that position, I got out.

Am I the only one who does things like this?

Now I really hope my little anecdote wasnt too much for some people, I just dont understand why we think that those 15 seconds it would have taken me to put the cookie down in the kitchen and walk back to the bathroom are so valuable. Im pretty sure it didnt get me ahead of the game for the day.

Has our fast paced, coffee drive- thru, eat in the car culture penetrated us so deeply that we cant even relax at HOME ? Home is where the heart is. Home on the range. Home is where you hang your hat ( I think thats one ) . Where thou art- that- is Home. Home is where you pee with a cookie in your hand? I dont think so.

I told you Wednesdays would be a crap shoot ! ( pun intended)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Well I told myself, and you, that Tuesdays would be a sort of get to know me post. I was thinking I would start at the beginning, but there is just too much going on now ( or not going on...hmm) . Therefore, I think I will proceed backwards.

About three months ago Devin and I ( that lovely couple you see there in the photo) moved from Tempe, AZ to Chicago, IL. I had been in Tempe for almost 14 years, and Devin around 9 years. Although I enjoyed my time in Tempe immensely it began to taste stale. We both wanted a change, I longed to experience true seasons again, and honestly I hoped a new scene would spark my creativity and act as a catalyst for a new adventure.

So May 20th we all arrived. Devin, myself and my two gatos Diablo and Gordo ( both of whom I want to kill right now for peeing on our bed yesterday, the ONE time I actually made the bed so of course the cat pee went through every layer of the first set of bed linens Ive ever spent real money on!) Anyway, the first month and a half or so was filled with the excitement of setting up our new place, buying what Devin called " grown up" furniture for once ( since I had taken the plunge and de-clawed the cats back in Arizona... could that be why they are now seeking revenge?) and exploring the neighborhood . All of this was sprinkled with house guests either visiting from Tempe, or from one of our families. This only made things more fun of course ! All together I believe we had six people in and out of our guest room between June and mid July ( Troy, Caitrin, Ray, my mom, Teresa... maybe thats all of them, I dont know). It was a whirlwind of cocktails, new restaurants, hanging curtains, putting up art work, re-arranging the art work, more cocktails, Michael Jackson dance party ( Ray !), assembling a TV stand, putting together a god damned kitchen island(not recommended, but if you do it it definitely takes two brains), and dont forget more cocktails !

Now all of a sudden it was mid July and neither of us had even thought about applying for a job. I guess I shouldnt say that... Im sure we both had thought about it. The old adage " actions speak louder than words" comes to mind. We had both met lots of great people in all different industries who offered names and supposed connections, which I believe were genuine. I know I personally wasnt really interested in getting serious about it until we knew the visitor party was over ! So now, it was time to buckle down and hit the bricks. I started compiling lists of restaurants.... Wait a second ! You dont even know about my work background.

Ok , for the past 4 and a half years or so I have been a server at Z'Tejas, a restaurant in Tempe, AZ. I absolutely loved working there and if I could I would magically transport the building itself, the entire staff, AND the regulars all here to Chicago ( preferably within walking distance from where I live) ! For a bit I also waited tables at Olive and Ivy in Scottsdale, AZ, all the while remaining at Z'Tejas. Before that I went through a plethora of experience around the Tempe area, from working as an Enrollment Counselor for the University of Phoenix (a.k.a telephone sales nightmare) to catering, working as a barista and manager of Coffee Plantation ( another one of my favorites) I even worked as an assistant to a Rabbis family which meant I could be doing anything from laundry to tutoring their children in anything but math ! Overall, customer service, food and wine dominated my work history. Even in high school I had a job as a waitress in a restaurant called "Via Riggios" in Red Bank, NJ where I pretty much ran the floor and left each night with more money than someone my age should ever have. This restaurant and the people in it will definitely make their way back into this blog another day, just to give you a taste we re talking gold and lots of it , chains, earrings AND a four finger ring of gold spelling out the name Denise right across her hand, the lovely girlfriend of the chef who had to play hostess/ manager/ drama director. Ive already given away too much...

Swine Flu Skeptic

Just a quick question for all of you out there... In all this hullabaloo about H1N1 lately have any of you heard of a CONFIRMED case ? Im trying to figure out how the media gets away with all of this hype when these supposed Swine Flu rashes in colleges across the country are all UNCONFIRMED. Some of these kids havent even made it to the school doctor, but yet they are on CNN and are getting out of going to class... Watch this clip and YOU tell me who is winning this battle...and notice how they like, wont like totally say there are any like "confirmed" cases of like Swine Flu. Holler !

Monday, August 31, 2009

Healthcare reform and Evolutionary Irony

So I realize these "Town Hall" meetings are becoming the Brett Favre of politics, we really dont want to hear about them anymore till its all figured out, but somehow I am still hooked on watching the clips and in awe of the stories I hear. I wouldn't even be bringing this up but last week Jackie, my youngest brothers girlfriend, went to one of these meetings in Middletown, NJ. She sent me a couple texts from the meeting that blew me away. "A man here has a sign that says Ted Kennedy should burn in hell" , and " fist fights are breaking out !"... Seriously? Middletown is only a small distance from where I grew up, really the towns are so small I may as well say that it IS where I grew up. I would like to think I could expect better behavior. When these clips and soundbites first surfaced from these crazy meetings my initial instinct was to wonder what kind of rinky dink, backwoods, home schooled towns would produce people who would act like that. Well, my judgemental thought manifested instant karma ! Even in my well polished home town area full of stock trading, Ivy League educated, seer sucker wearing beach goers, they were not above the barbaric behavior demonstrated in some of the meetings we all saw on TV. "Ted Kennedy should burn in hell" ??...again, seriously? These were people that seemed to me to want to BE the Kennedys ! Now I wonder if they really even knew the genuine care for all walks of life that motivated any of the Kennedys to push for the type of reform they achieved in their lives. I think they were blinded by the beauty and image of the family. They "looked" like what others wanted to be... so they must have the same views as us. The complexity of the situation is unending. People are confused, some are uneducated at least on the subject, and there are lies being tossed around by politicians and laymen alike.

Although I am aware that there are exceptions to every rule, and really I myself am not much a fan of generalizing or using stereotypes, I think I can almost make two groups out the people opposing healthcare reform. Group one is simple, the people with enough money not to care for or need change. They may even have stock in pharmaceuticals, and probably didnt vote for Obama in the first place because they were scared they may actually be taxed on the money they "earned" raping the stock market. Group two is a little more complicated but generally consists of more religious types that like to use over- patriotic rhetoric to guilt or corner the opposition. Now yes, I did say "over-patriotic", but what I mean by that is that they use and exploit talk of the country, what it is or should be to further their own views ( fear) and agendas. To me, that is the least patriotic thing you can do. Patriotism is meant to be a unifying agent. The glue that holds us all together. The reason I get a tear in my eye every Fourth of July watching fireworks !

Lets take a moment to watch a clip...Now Im pretty sure the people in this meeting below have no idea what it was intended to be about... I believe this is more than half of our battle. People seem to want to yell and scream and feel they have conviction when they arent even informed an IOTA on the issues. At least have the dignity to educate yourself before you go and disrupt what is meant to be an exercise in democracy.

This second group of anti-health reformers are the ones who have shown me what I feel is the most interesting insight ( at least for me) in the whole ball of wax. Lets go back to the fact that many of the people within this group would consider themselves religious, typically Christian. I am not sure what you have and have not seen on the news but many of the TH meetings had instances where both women and men made a point about not wanting any of their tax money being put towards a system that may help pay for any abortion related appointment. I can understand that. If my convictions were strongly against abortion I suppose that would be a concern of mine as well. Naturally we can progress from this and say, I think with confidence, that these are the same people who have been against or would be against the teaching of evolution in schools. They feel that we are chosen beings, very much distinct from any other animal, and the idea that we evolved from monkeys is preposterous and insulting. Have you seen what those animals act like? The pounding on their chests? The yelling and screaming ? The going after one another like that? How these people can look at themselves in the mirror after their behavior in some of these meetings and NOT see a monkey is beyond me ! Their emotions and fear have overcome them to the point that what ever they learned acceptable has gone right out the window and they have regressed right back to our monkey uncles !! Just embrace it, and pound on your chest, it feels good ! But lets not let it come to this...