Monthly Archives: October 2009

Big weekend coming up

Around our house, this coming weekend is one of the big ones of the year. It is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, New Years in Time Square, or the opening of deer hunting season in Pennsylvania.  It is the Florida-Georgia weekend. In this part of the world, this is more then a football game. It is a social and cultural event. As should be obvious, we are big Florida fans, but we live here “behind enemy lines” in Georgia.

There is a lot of history here. My first Florida game was in 1971. For the next 19 years, Georgia pretty much dominated the series. Vince Dooley, Buck Belue, Hershal Walker and the like “schooled” the Gators on a fairly regular basis. In 1990 the field shifted. Steve Spurrier came to Florida and since then the Gators have one 16 of the last 19 games.

Fla Ga 2

In recent years, the rivalry has intensified somewhat. In 2007, a group of UGA players stormed the field to celebrate their first touchdown. UGA fans credit that incident for psyching the Bulldogs to win that game. Last year, Florida had the game won when Urban Meyer called two time-outs in the final minute of the game to prolong Georgia’s agony. Payback is hell.

I have noticed a significant change in attitude among UGA fans this year. For most of the 17 years we have lived in Georgia, the UGA fans have been delightfully obnoxious before the game. They have never lacked for overconfidence.

“This year you are going down! Down, down down!”

In all but a handful of years, those boasts and predictions turned into muttered excuses and threats of ritual sepaku as the actual game progressed. However, this year, Georgia fans are acting humble, actually sounding defeatist.

My Bulldog friend, Sean, told me last night, “For the first time in as long as I can remember, I don’t think we have any chance in this game.”

That worries me. I much prefer the obnoxious, in-your-face Bulldog, who later walks away from the game with his stubby little tail between his legs.

On the other hand, I am not cocky about the game at all. There are too many games in this series when the favored team is sent home embarrassed. The Gators are ranked #1 and are unbeaten, but they aren’t hitting on all cylinders. The Poolman isn’t making any grand predictions. Crow is not one of my favorite foods.

Meanwhile, at the Poolman’s house, this has become one of our major party weekends of the year. We used to have tickets to the game, but lost our priority about ten years ago under circumstances too complicated to explain. So instead, Mrs. Poolman’s family comes to Savannah for a “house party.”  They are joined by a bunch of our friends, friends of friends, children’s friends, friends’ children, etc.

We’ll set up at least three TVs, inside and out. (Here is praying the prediction of dry weather continues to hold.)  The group is a good mixture of fans of both teams, and a ton of food and drink. Typically the Florida fans are in the family room and the Georgia fans out in the courtyard. The casual fans set up “beer pong” on the basketball court.  Mrs. Poolman is much more ecumenical than she has any need to be. She buys red and black napkins and paper plates to go along with the orange and blue.

This should be an interesting weekend. Go Gators!

Six-Pack Chili

The weather is cooling off a little, so it’s time to pull out some of the dishes we haven’t cooked since last spring.

One of the first meals I leaned to cook was chili. As a matter of fact, this is what I fixed for Mrs. Poolman when we first started dating and I invited her for dinner. (It’s not very romantic. I don’t know why she came back for seconds, but she did.) When I cooked it in college, it acquired the name “Six-Pack Chili,” because if you spice it up, you need a six pack of beer to wash it down. The trick is to make it tasty enough that you want to keep eating it, even though it has a kick to it. Of course, you don’t have to make hot. That is an individual preference.

Chili Web

Chili with some chopped onion and grated cheddar cheese

This recipe is very easy, which is why it’s a good beginner dish.

The key is in the chili powder and sugar, and cooking it long enough that it all melds together. We like to cook it down long enough so that it thickens and you can practically eat it with a fork. If you overdo it, just add some water. This amount will serve 2-4 people. Double the recipe for a larger crowd.

What you’ll need:

  • One large can of tomatoes
  • Two small, or one large can of kidney beans.
  • App. 1.5 lbs of ground beef.
  • A bunch of chopped onion.
  • Chili powder
  • Crushed red pepper.
  • A few spoons of sugar to taste

1. Brown the ground beef.

2. Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and smash them with your hands.  (Lot’s of fun, but watch out, they squirt.) Alternate plan – puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.

3.Drain the ground beef.  Add the tomatoes, onions, and beans.  Pour a liberal amount of chili powder to the mixture and begin to cook.

4. Add a small amount of crushed red pepper. You can add more later as per your taste.

5.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, but you might want to put a lid half-on just to keep down the splatter. It will start out very soupy. We like to cook it down until it is fairly thick.

6. Continue tasting and adding chili powder and pepper. With a little practice, you can tell the right amount by the color of the brew.  It should be a rusty brown, not red.

7. Check for bitterness. Add sugar to reduce the bite and bring out the flavor. (Sugar in chili? Sure! I know people who actually use chocolate. The idea is to diminish the tang created by the tomatoes and allow the base flavor to be the beef, beans and spices.)

You can serve as-is or with chopped onions, grated cheese and/or hot sauce to spice it more.

Stupid, but clean joke

Here is a clean, but stupid joke, blatantly stolen from our parish priest.

A woman took her poodle into the vet for a check up.

“I don’t know what’s wrong,” she said. “He just isn’t acting his normal self.”

The vet checked out the dog and reported to the woman that he could find nothing wrong.

“There must be something wrong,” the woman said. “Isn’t there something else you can do?”

LabThe vet agreed and left the exam room. A minute or two later, he returned with a large black Labrador retriever. The Lab proceeded to sniff the poodle from one end to the other and then sat down and looked up at the vet.

The vet took the Lab out of the room and returned with a cat, Catwhich walked all around the poodle, and examined him from head to toe. When he was done, the vet took the cat out of the room.

When he returned, he told the woman that he could still not find anything wrong with her dog and presented her with a bill for $750.

The woman was outraged. “How can you charge me $750 for finding nothing wrong with my dog?”

“Well, if you had believed me the first time I told you there was nothing wrong with your dog, the charge would have been just $50,” the vet replied. “However, since you insisted on the lab work and a cat scan, I have to charge you more.”

Ha!

A football weekend & movie review

We had such a lazy weekend. It was great.

Mrs. Poolman had a work-related event on Friday. Once a year, they have a reunion of the former baby/patients and families. It’s a big party.  Mrs. Poolman is a regular participant.  She helps the kids make paper flowers or something of the like.

I ran some errands on Saturday morning and then utilized the help of one of my friends with a pickup truck to take an old couch to the dump. Later I made a big pot of chili for our informal football viewing party Saturday evening.

Football thoughts….

TCodyAlabama barely held on to beat Tennessee on a blocked field goal by nose tackle Terrence Cody. This guy is 370 pounds. He is big enough to have his own gravitational field, which I think just sucks the ball to him.

Florida’s offense played poorly, but won again. Tim Tebow threw up two “pick sixes.” (That’s an interception run back for a TD, for you non-football fans.) He hasn’t been quite the same since the concussion in the Kentucky game. I hope he is OK, and especially for this weekend’s game with Georgia in Jacksonville.

We had a few folks over to watch the game. It wasn’t a formal party, just some friends and fellow-fans watching the game together.

percy-harvin-siOn Sunday, the Steelers beat Brett Favre and the Vikings. One Gator favorite-son, Percy Harvin, ran back a kick off for a TD. I hated to see that against the Steelers, but if someone was going to do it, I’m glad it was a Gator.

Sunday evening, Mrs. Poolman and I watched “The Proposal” with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds on DVD. ProposalThis movie had a lot of potential but fell short. I’m sure you probably have heard of the plot. Bullock convinces her secretary, Reynolds, to marry her so she can avoid being deported to Canada. The film has a good cast with Mary Steenbergen and Craig T Nelson playing Reynolds’ Alaska parents and Betty White his grandmother.  It all goes along fine, until the Reynolds character decides he is actually in love with Bullock. The problem is this. The writers failed to give Bullock’s character any redeeming social graces at all. She plays a cold-hearted bitch who even the dog hates. When Reynolds decides he loves her and chases her down, the plot falls off the end of the cliff. It would have been a much better movie if the writers had given Bullock just a little charisma and “likeability.”

Back to work today. It is a short week, due to another furlough day on Friday. The timing works well on a personal level. The Florida-Georgia game is always one of our big parties of the year. Mrs. Poolman’s family will be coming up from Jacksonville for the weekend and we’ll have a bunch of other friends over too. We may have to segregate the viewing areas by teams like they do in the stadium. Ha!

Go Gators!

Iconic Wardrobe

There are many football fans in this part of the country who hate the Gators.  “Smug and arrogant” were the charges when Stevie-Boy Spurrier was the “head ball coach.” Since then the love hasn’t gotten any stronger.  Things like this ESPN promo might have something to do with it.

Subtle… I like that. My Georgia-fan friends are going to love it. Ha!

Random thoughts

A couple of recent news non-news items have given me reason to smile smirk chuckle LMAO.

balloon boyBalloon Boy – I spent nearly three decades in the news business, and let me tell you, this story had “hoax” written all over it from the very beginning. It is a sad testament to the state of American journalism that this story has lasted as long as it has. CNN let themselves be such a tool. There was the now-famous Wolf Blitzer interview in which the 5-year old boy ‘fessed up to doing it for “the show.” But why were these nutcases on the show to begin with? Jeez-Louise!

leviLevi Johnston poses for Playgirl – Hasn’t this guy’s 15 minutes of fame been expired for about a year now? I saw this on the Web yesterday and asked myself, “Huh?” I haven’t paid much attention to him, but a quick Google search shows that he has been all over the celebrity circuit lately. What is so fascinating about a 19-year old high school dropout whose sole accomplishment is getting his girlfriend knocked up? Why does anyone care what this guy has to say?  It’s a waste of good attention span. See, now I’m guilty of it too! Ugh.

Semi toughWhat celebration? — There has been a lot of talk in college football circles about excessive celebration penalties. Georgia Bulldog fans are convinced a bogus celebration penalty cost them a game a couple of weeks ago. I was reminded of this when I happened to have the last half hour of the 1977 Burt Reynolds movie “Semi-Tough” on TV this past weekend (Great book by Dan Jenkins. Lousy movie.)

There is a scene in the Super Bowl where the coach has to decide whether or not to punt. The Eastern European kicker, played by the late Ron Silver, tries to convince the coach to let him try a 60 yard field goal. Instead, the coach tells Silver to punt. Coming out of the huddle, Silver has the team in field goal formation. The coaches and players on the sidelines are going nuts. Silver is calm and collected. He brushes some dirt off his waist band and then smoothly kicks one through the uprights from 60 yards out.  Everyone on the team goes nuts, except for Silver. He looks over at the sideline and smiles, as if to say “I told you I could do it.” As he walks off the field, he passes one of the refs, who is standing there with his jaw open. Silver reaches out and shakes his hand, and keeps on walking.

Too cool!

Cream of Artichoke Soup

charlotte-amalie-harborWay back in the late 1980s, Mrs. Poolman and I went on our first cruise. During a stop in Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas, USVI, we had lunch at a small outdoor café. I had a bowl of cream of artichoke soup and French bread that was outta-sight. That memory stuck with me when I made my first pot of corn chowder (See yesterday’s post.) I experimented a little and here is what I came up with. Pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Note: I revised this post to make it a little easier to follow, without reference to yesterday’s recipie.

Cream of Artichoke Soup (my own adaptation)

* 1 large sweet onion, chopped

* 2-3 stalks of celery, finely chopped

* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

* 1 tablespoon of flour

* 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

* 2 cans of artichoke hearts – chopped fine

* 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

* 1 cup half-and-half

* kosher salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Saute onion and celery until soft.

2. Add the garlic, paprika, and red pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

3 . Add 1 tablespoon of flour and stir smooth.

4.  Stir in the artichoke hearts, broth, and half-and-half and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

5 . Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the pot, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and stir to combine.

6.  Divide the soup among individual bowls.

For presentation, I toast a few slices of French bread under the broiler with garlic salt, butter and parmesan cheese and float one in each bowl. I also sprinkle a few flakes of parsley just for accent.

Notes:

1. I almost ALWAYS double the recipe.

2. In a double recipe, the SIX cups of broth equals three normal cans of chicken broth. In a double recipe, use 3 cans of artichoke hearts.

3. If you don’t have smokey paprika, regular paprika will do.

Yum, yum!