Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We called it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I have admitted on more than one occasion that among my shamefully large amount of pop culture addictions is that mother of all reality shows, Survivor. For the most part, I'm firmly in the "reality shows are crap" camp, with the lofty exceptions of Top Chef, The Amazing Race, and Survivor. The only reason I ever dally in The Bachelor is to enjoy the next day hilariousness of I Hate Green Beans, courtesy of the brilliantly witty Lincee Ray.

My affection for Survivor has waxed and waned a bit over the years. The best years were the first five or six, when it was still fresh and original. It's gotten progressively gimmicky in the past few seasons, with such atrocious and ridiculous features as Exile Island, where viewers are subjected to the whining and tears of what's usually the most unpopular contestant and hidden immunity idols that you have to use even before discovering whether or not you were voted for, rendering them virtually useless!

Despite these cheap measures, inevitably employed to generate better ratings, I have kept up, mostly because my beloved brother and I share in the Survivor love. We have spent endless hours discussing our favorite players and seasons (His faves are Borneo (S.1) and Fans vs. Favorites, and he thinks Richard Hatch is the best who's ever competed-I stick to my All-Stars, Australia, and Cook Islands and never fail to sing Boston Rob's praises). We have talked strategy and effectiveness, quickly identifying where we would go wrong should we ever make it on the show, and (of course) picking out the family member that would visit us (for him, our mom, for me, my SH). We know who Jeff Probst loathes and loves, and exactly what faults would push us over the edge as potential contestants. He would be tremendously popular, but might be torn over who should stay and who should go. I can't swim to save my life, and would probably perish at the first tribal council because of physical weakness and the fact that I literally cannot go on for more than a few hours without some sort of sustenance. We've talked strategy many times, and expressed disgust for the contestants that have not yet figured out the basic rules of the game. Yes, there are rules! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BE A "TAKE CHARGE" SORT IN ANY WAY! DO NOT ASSUME A LEADERSHIP ROLE! DO NOT ELIMINATE A PHYSICALLY STRONG PLAYER PRIOR TO THE MERGE! DO NOT CALL YOURSELF A "PROVIDER"! DO NOT SAY "I'M GOOD AT PUZZLES"!

Long ago, we talked about how grand it would be if the producers of Survivor decided to gather the worst, most scheming and villainous of all and pit them against the Colby's, Ethan's and Stephanie's, the precious few that miraculously avoided scheming through the duration of their seasons, the proverbial "heroes." We picked our favorites, and then made our best guesses for who would be chosen should such a contest ever occur.

As you can see, we are modern-day oracles, harbingers of reality show future.

Even better, we have proof that it was OUR IDEA FIRST.

Notice the date: January 12, 2009.

Now for my pick for the win. Go ahead, write the check.

Come on, February 11!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The best thing about January...

Monday, January 18, 2010

He's back!!

I should preface this post, my little homage to Jack Bauer and the familiar tick of the 24 clock, by saying that I won't be able to watch the first two hours of the premiere until tomorrow. My brilliant, talented SH has developed an entire new entertainment system for us, consisting of a Mac Mini and various other accoutrements, that entailed us completely giving up cable. We can stream Hulu, Netflix, CNN, and various other programs through the wondrous Mac Mini directly to our TV. It was an instant $100 eliminated from our monthly bills, so I know it was a worthwhile investment. I can manage waiting the obligatory day to catch up on my faves on Hulu, I think. Even when it's Jack Bauer, though I'll admit it causes me physical pain to miss the premiere.

As usual, I am TOTALLY PSYCHED for the eighth season. I have noted many times before that I am the type of person that attaches like glue to the things I am interested in, holding tight with unwavering loyalty no matter what criticism or poor performance comes along. Such is my attitude toward 24. I acknowledge that its novelty can fade a bit after some time, and that some seasons are stronger than others, but you can guarantee that I will ALWAYS want to see Jack Bauer save the day, no matter how preposterous the threat.

In defense of my loyalty, you should know that season 8 has already been written up in the NY Times. Granted, the review wasn't what one might call overwhelmingly positive, but the show was praised for being "a terrifying portrait of terrorism." Lovely. I was disappointed to see that She Who Must Not Be Named will reprise her role, but simultaneously thrilled to hear about the conflict between Starbuck and Chloe. What a pair! I literally cannot wait for that inevitable showdown.

My second favorite thing about January is having a holiday immediately after starting up school again, so I think I shall now bask in the glory of not having to wake up in the earliest hours. And look forward to watching Jack again in the evening, one day late.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars, whiskey, and you."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

So says John Dillinger, in my favorite line of the lush, treat-for-the-eyes Public Enemies. It was one of several relaxing activities that we enjoyed on this productive weekend, in which after almost five years of marriage my SH and I finally made a substantial furniture purchase. I cannot wait to share.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sausage, Beans, and Broccoli Rabe Soup

Friday, January 1, 2010

Yes, I know it's bit strange. Beginning the new year with a post about soup must seem quite uninspired, especially considering the December drought that my blog has suffered. I seem to recall a post in which I declared that I would write with more frequency...clearly I have issues with personal responsibility.

Actually, in some ways it's perfectly appropriate to begin the new year with a recipe that features white beans. Mightn't they be considered a good substitute for black-eyed peas, that lucky southern legume, consumed every New Year's Day of my childhood? Either way, I would be sorely remiss not to document my intense love for this soup-even if it seems ill-fitting for the auspicious first day of the year.

I have to acknowledge upfront that I know everyone does not have the same passionate response to broccoli rabe that I do. It's bitter, dark, and intense. Some might even say it's an acquired taste. There is something undeniably right, however, about its combination with sausage-a perfectly happy marriage of earthy, woodsy flavor. Simmered in a delicious, flavorful broth made hearty with chunks of potato and carrot, the two make a soulful, satisfying meal. It's an excellent choice for a cold winter's eve, or a rainy day. I've made it many times, and even though the SH has an aversion to my broccoli rabe, he devours several bowls each time.

Now, I know that a post singing the praises of a humble bowl of soup is not exactly a triumphant return to regular blogging, but it's something. A first post, on the first day of the new year. I have high hopes...

Sausage, Beans and Broccoli Rabe Soup
adapted from Cooking 'Round the Clock, by Rachael Ray

2 tablespoons EVOO
1 pound bulk Italian sweet sausage (I always buy spicy-just my preference)

1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped (It makes me feel virtuous to toss in two or three instead of just one)
1 starchy Idaho potato, peeled and chopped into small dice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 can (15 ounces) white beans (cannellini or white kidney), drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped (3 cups)
2 quarts chicken broth
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano for serving

1. Heat a medium pot or a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO and sausage and brown, crumbling with a spatula.
2. Add onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, bay leaf, and beans. Season with salt and pepper. Cook to begin to soften the vegetables, 5 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and cook until just wilted.
3. Add chicken broth and cover pot. Raise heat and bring stoup to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes.
4. Remove bay leaf, adjust seasonings, and serve soup with grated cheese for topping