The Evils of The Pumpkin

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You may find this hard to believe but I hate pumpkins.  Not those jolly round orbs with pointy carved teeth sitting on front porches during Halloween that we all grew up with but the insidious gourds that have infiltrated two of the oldest and most prestigious libations ever devised by human creativity. The beverages I speak of are coffee and beer.

Pumpkin must have the ability to alter brain chemistry because for some reason we think a Pumpkin Spiced Caramel Swirled Mocha Frappa Caca Doody Poo Poo Latte or a Harvest Pumpkin Cinnamon Bacon Harvest Shitshow Ale is something to get excited about.  I have yet to see Starbucks create a Zucchini and Butternut Squash Latte or a hipster brewmaster launch his seasonal offering of Pete’s Turnip and Parsnip IPA to the adoring masses.  No- only the pumpkin can circumvent everyone’s culinary radar and convince the weak minded that putting a winter squash into an alcoholic beverage is wise.  The internet practically breaks when Starbucks rolls out the latest Frankenstein concoctions they call Pumpkin Spiced Lattes every fall.

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The Pumpkin Apocalypse has already started

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It is TOTALLY out of control

I will be the first to admit I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to beverages with such longstanding histories as coffee and beer.  Emanating from Kaldi the Ethiopian goat herder’s discovery that his goats got super jacked up after eating coffee beans, the noble and enduring latte, with its strong espresso complemented by the natural sweetness of the steamed milk and froth, (RA* – and it better be milk – the only acceptable reason to put soy ‘milk” in a latte is if milk makes you shit your pants!) is a combination that needs little adornment aside from a bit of sugar to cut the edge of the espresso.  In other words coffee should taste like… COFFEE… not a Thanksgiving desert!
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Yeah I know. I’m a cranky old fool to think coffee should taste like coffee but do you want a hamburger that tastes like a Brussel sprout?  Do you?  I didn’t think so.  So enough with all these “coffee” drinks every fall from the local coffee shop to freakin’ McDonalds (yeah Mc F’ing D’s has a McF*cked-up Pumpkin Spiced Latte now!).  They are disgusting and cruel insults to the nobility of the beverage not to mention they taste like spiced baby poop!

Last winter a friend made the mistake of ordering a crime against humanity that  a local microbrewery offered as a seasonal beer under the label of “Pumpkin Ale”.  She asked me to try the spawn of Satan. Upon the first sip I could feel the torture and nastiness of what happens when you force such an unholy union.  I would simply describe the beer as nice lager that was roofied one night by a very unsavory spiced pumpkin with compromised morals. My tasting notes would be “a strong note of date rape drugs and nonconsensual sex”.  I felt like I needed to do community service after just a sip.  The poor innocent ale didn’t stand a chance!  Seriously this stuff was disgusting!  The brewer should have been slapped in the face and registered as a habitual flavor offender!  I wouldn’t want this dude living next to me because anyone who thought a beer should taste like that is a real sick f*ck in my opinion and  is not to be trusted.

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Do you want this guy living next door to?

Great beers tastes… well…great without putting craziness in them like tuna tartare or Doritos!  Of course everyone thinks those are bad ideas.  It’s that damn pumpkin that somehow convinces us a pumpkin pie flavored hotdog would be wonderful!  So please do not get sucked in by this seemingly innocent fall gourd.  It has nothing but nasty and unsavory intentions and should be avoided…outside of an actual pumpkin pie or pumpkin curry or pumpkin risotto…. Those are delicious of course.

Now GET OF MY LAWN!!!!!!

Rants

* RA– Rant Alerts warn the reading a rant will immediately follow and allow the reader to skip ahead to avoid the angry onslaught of truths, bitterness, orneriness and downright cantankerous diatribes that are about to follow.

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Amazing Grace – One Song and Three Funerals

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The last time I played Amazing Grace I swore I would never play a funeral again. I was in a catholic church in Liverpool on a dreary January day.  It is too hard to share in the grief and loss while still paying tribute to the loved one lost.

Today I watched the President of the United States deliver a eulogy to a community with a shattered sense of security. As he launched into Amazing Grace, I felt the heartbreak well up inside and suddenly I am next to the altar in a foreign country with a borrowed saxophone paying tribute to a woman I didn’t know for nearly as long as I had hoped but whom I loved and respected.  Sheila Hurd was my type of lady.  Brash and outspoken yet someone who always had a drink ready for you and a cookie or biscuit on the table.  She was grumpy and lovingly all in the same stroke.  For her saying shut up was the same as saying I love you.  I like to believe she had a soft spot for me since she had fond memories of the American soldiers from the war when she was just a young girl.  She also loved that I was from New Orleans since she loved so many of the songs about the city.

She was found dead in her back garden one morning by the neighbor Tom.  I still remember sitting in bed in New Orleans when Emma got the news her “Nan” had passed.  I was always disappointed I never get to show Shelia the streets of New Orleans she had always dreamed of exploring.

Tom  epitomized the stereotype most Americans’ have of the British. He favored sweater vests and paperboy caps to fight against Northern England’s cold.  It’s grim up North is how the expression goes. Tom  was small of stature and quite proper but not too stuffy.  Sheila loved her brandy and a good song.  Though she often tried to get him to indulge, she only rarely got Tom to partake in more than a gin and tonic.

It was odd to be inside Tom’s little tool shed trying to find the right notes and master the borrowed alto sax that January day.  The shed was so small.  I could barely stand up straight in it.  All of the tools were in perfect order and Shelia often joked how it must be lined with red velvet because of all the fuss Tom made of keeping it up.

I had done this before.  By this, I mean played a loved one’s funeral.  I had driven over 600 miles from Missoula, Montana to attend my grandmother’s funeral in my home town.  After it was over I would get back in the car to head back to Montana and fly home to New Orleans.  As I played the time worn hymn my legs began to shake.  I wasn’t nervous.  I was heartbroken. The song progressed and my legs trembled more violently in an effort to express how profound my world had changed.  The slow mournful tune was not enough to demonstrate the grief I was feeling. I had performed countless shows and concerts all over the country.  Those three minutes were the most difficult of my entire musical career.

After I finished the song at the church in Liverpool that day I felt drained and empty.  Shelia was gone and there was nothing I could do anymore.  Her loss would leave a void in everyone’s life.

Amazing Grace. One song.  Three funerals.  Such deep loss and sorrow. Today my thoughts turn to those who lost those closest to them while they were celebrating their faith in a place of shelter.  The taste of pain coats my mouth and my throat stiffens as I feel their lives tragically altered by one hate filled individual. Obama leads the choir through a verse and the loss overwhelms me.  While it is not my loss, tears flow freely.  May Shelia have found that grace.  May my grandmother Phyllis have found that grace.  My all of those that were so needlessly slain find that grace and may all of those touched by this event find that grace.  Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…

The Art of the First Date Part II: 5 Things Ladies Screw Up The Most

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First dates can blow like Paris Hilton on a sex tape.  As a guy, you’ve already got your nuts on the line because you asked her out.  You end up with a girl with the deer in the headlights look for the entire date who texts you two days later saying she had a great time! WTF!  You have the girl that double books and says “I have to leave now I have another date”. Sweet.  Glad I could be the warm up act for the dude you’re really hot for!!!! One of my personal favorites is “I’m kind of seeing someone right now” girl. Then why the h*ll are you on a date with me instead of having wild monkey sex with him?!?  Here is another one – I was on a first “date” (I know because I used the word “date” 3 times in the texts.  I checked!) with a girl only to find out she was  “networking”!! I somehow found the only girl on Tinder “networking”.  Once again WTF!!!!!!!! Guys the ladies be cray-cray sometimes for sure!

My blog 5 Things Guys Screw Up the Most laid it down for the fellas on how to treat a lady right and survive a first date.  Since I believe in gender equality, I’m telling you ladies to get your pretty heads out of your lovely backsides so you can find your Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper or whoever your latest Romeo crush is.  Girlfriends turn off The Bachelorette and put down that copy of 50 Shades of Gray you decided to reread after the movie didn’t get it done for you and listen up.

The very very first thing you need to know is asking a girl out is terrifying and hard for one simple reason: NO ONE LIKES REJECTION.  It sucks big time. You feel like you are trapped in an episode of Jackass and might get your emotional testicles hammered with a golf ball at any moment.  So ladies before you go all Joan Rivers (R.I.P. you piece of plastic) on him and get hyper critical, remember it took a lot to even make the first move, so at least be kind with your rejection.

Rejection Sucks

Rejection Sucks

Getting shot down is as much fun as a Celine Dion concert with no alcohol.  We understand not every woman is going to be into us but what stings are the absolutely ridiculous reasons why we get turned down. The single WORST EVER EVER EVER is “I am scared because I like you”. Seriously!! RA-So you are going to tell me that you find me interesting, you are attracted to me and you are curious about a relationship BUT because this scares you, the best thing to do is NOT to go out with me!  Really!?!  And yes this really happens!

Another f’d up favorite of mine is “I don’t date in my social circles.” So you are fine with a totally random Tinder date with a possible psycho axe murderer or even better – a lying 50 year old married guy who says he’s 35 looking to tap some young tail BUT you won’t go out with me because if we date and then break up you might  run into me at a friend’s party and it might be “awkward”.  Un-Freakin-Belivable! This shows me one of two things:  you aren’t interested and you don’t have enough guts to say that to my face or you struggle handling your relationships so when they end you have to move to another zip code or enter the witness protection program to avoid your ex.  Do you honestly think you are better off going to dinner with a dude from OK Cupid who is dating 10 other women just to see who will put out first (or how many will put out) instead of having a drink with a friend of a friend?  Here’s a secret – your friends know him so you can get all the covert info on him!!!! You can find out if he has commitment issues or if he just got out of a bad relationship and is just looking for a rebound OR if he is a great guy who just hasn’t found the right girl.

Once a girl says yes it does NOT get easier! You need to find the dream first date for someone you often don’t know squat about.  Well I know she’s into “rainbows and spontaneous mountain top yoga sessions” because she has profile pictures of a rainbow and her doing a yoga pose on a mountain. Too bad the  Bikram Yoga Studio on Mt. Rainier doesn’t take in walk-ins!!!!! Figuring out what to do can be a job in and of itself. I had to plan a date for a girl with these amazingly blue eyes and all  I knew was she liked boating, golf and was second place in her Final Four pool at work. I don’t golf, I don’t like college sports and I don’t own a boat! She seemed classy so I picked a romantic bar and showed up with a handful of tulips, in other words I was totally winging it! The bar had a string quartet playing when I arrived. I quickly realized we weren’t going to able to talk at all.  Suddenly I panicked.  All I could envision was the two of us staring awkwardly at each other for 2 straight hours while she clutched those stupid flowers. What was I thinking? Who gets flowers for an online date?  What is this prom!  God she’s going to think I am such a dork!

I AM SUCH AN IDIOT

I AM SUCH AN IDIOT

In other words I was in deep sh*t and my first date was a disaster before the girl even walked in the door.  A buddy suggested a nice bar across the street and I seriously contemplated ditching the flowers before she showed up! She arrived looking much prettier than her photos and I calmly (I WAS TERRIFIED) explained how I was interested in getting to know her but was afraid we wouldn’t be able to talk with the music and suggested we walk across to the street to another bar.  I also said something like “I don’t normally buy flowers for a first date but it was such a nice spring day I couldn’t pass them up in the store ” (which is actually all true). Tulips were her favorite and I think she was touched by the old fashioned gesture. The rest of the evening went off without a hitch but oh my God did I have a meltdown right before that.

So ladies please keep all this in mind when you are sitting across from that cute guy from your favorite dating app if he forgets to ask you if you’re ready to order or just goes on and on about himself.  He’s probably intimidated by how totally hot you look and he’s feeling the pressure because he wants you to… you know… actually like him.

Ok without further ado here are the 5 Things Ladies Screw Up The Most on First Dates:

  1. Give It Up!

No!  Not what you are thinking!!  Get your filthy minds out of the gutter!  This is a classy blog.

First dates are nerve wracking so please, please, please don’t just sit there and stare at the table! Give us something to work with! Talk… say something… ANYTHING… please… we are so nervous it helps if you break the ice a bit.  Men know they are supposed to be in charge of the date and there is a lot of pressure as a consequence.  Engage.  Put a little of yourself out there. Tell us something stupid that happened at work or how your roommate’s cat ate a tampon or almost anything.  If you clam up it can be like extracting intelligence out of an Al Qaida operative and no one enjoys those dates.  No One. The good news is in the beginning we really don’t care much about what you say as long as you talk.

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Far too many first dates play out where the woman sits there looking adorable while the guy prattles on and on about how bad traffic was for an hour.  Ladies you have more control over the date than you realize.  When he’s prattling on about his boring job FOREVER say “Your job sounds great but I would love to hear about what you do for fun.  What are your favorite restaurants?” or “My day at work was crazy so I would love to forget about work and just enjoy a nice evening with a handsome man so let’s not talk about work.  Do you like to travel?”  If you don’t give us any feedback we will most likely go on and on and on and bore you to death.

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I was on a date and I was really nervous. I asked a girl to tell me “what her story was”, which I will admit is a poor question (told you I was nervous!!!). She got really embarrassed and turned bright red.  It was SUPER awkward and I was sure it was going to be a dumpster fire of a date BUT she started asking me a ton of questions and was obviously more comfortable talking about me. She did NOT just sit there and make me do all of the work.  Before you know it I was launching into stories about riding the range in Wyoming on my trusty horse Lard Ass (yes that was his name) and Christmas time in Paris.  She was entertained. Her questions showed she was interested and was happy to be there even if she felt a bit awkward about talking about herself.

  1. Have You Sh*t Together

A HUGE complaint guys have is women don’t really know what they want or say they want one thing and then change their minds.  If you are on a dating website make sure you are ready to actually start DATING.  If I ask you on a date and you say yes have your sh*t together enough to go out with me! I know, I know.  I’m a demanding a-hole about this stuff but believe it or not this happens to me and my bros all the time.  Here are a few real life examples:

I’ve asked several girls out (THIS IS HARD TO DO REMEMBER) and they say yes.  I pick a great place and get excited about getting to know them only to have them say “I’m not ready to date”!  Hmm… seems like that would have been a good response when I said “Hey you want to go on a date?”  I’ve also had people who were on a dating site tell me they were “too busy to date right now” after we went out a couple of times.  SO you are too busy to date but have time to be on a dating site and want to go on dates? Honestly maybe if you are too busy, a dating app is really not for you.  Just saying.

Story Time again:

I asked a girl out and she immediately said “I’m interested but I just got out of a relationship” and explained where she was emotionally. After thinking about it I said “That’s fine.  I’d just like a chance to get to know you better.  Let’s see where things go.” (I know. Smooth right?).  We went on a wonderful first date (picnic on the beach with a sunset – like I said -SMOOOTH) but when I tried to schedule another date she wasn’t ready and didn’t think it was a good idea for us to date.  I was disappointed but also impressed with her honesty.  I recognized the courage it took for her to be so open, especially so soon.  What happens far too often is a girl never communicates what is going on and a guy’s feelings get hurt because he thinks it was something he did and not the fact that the girl just didn’t have her act together.

One last freebie for you ladies on this topic:  If you kiss a guy, he will probably think you like him and might ask you out on another date. It seems strange that I have to say this but trust me I do because this kissy-kissy then go cray-cray thing is happening all the time.  I know of a few instances where this has happened and the next day the girl has been a bit surprised when the guy wants to see her again.  You’re free to kiss whoever the hell you want. In fact I have a list of hot ladies that I would be more than happy to “allow” to kiss me, BUT just don’t be surprised when you’ve got the dudes motor revved up and his trying to take you to dinner.  We are guys and when a woman, even a drunk woman, kisses us we tend to think you’re interested. In fact, I can’t remember the last time a girl who thought I was a total douche bag tried to kiss me! If you were just a little too tipsy or it had been a long time since you had a little action and your libido got the best of you, just know you can expect a pretty confused guy the next day.

  1. Would it KILL you to say something nice?

We’ve all heard of the legendary male ego.  Our species’ survival relies on it. The male ego, coupled with his desire to have sex, enables guys to withstand the barrage of rejection that even the most adept Casanovas endure.  This ego needs a little stroking every now and then so FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ladies can you just say something nice about us while you are on a date?  Giving a guy a compliment for A LOT of woman is very hard, sometimes even after they’re in a long term relationship, which is so sad because there is nothing that makes a man feel as confident as a good compliment from the lady he is trying to woo!  Here’s a secret about men:  the more confident we are, the more fun we are.  We relax when we get positive feedback from the ladies and we stop over-thinking every d*mn thing which allows our sense of humor (fart jokes) and silliness (more fart jokes) to come out.  We let down our Man Shields. You know- the shields we use to hide our emotions and seem tough and strong which often just makes us seem like pricks and heartless jerks.  Once these shields are down you see the cute little boy we all hide a bit, whether he is the Star Wars geek or the adorable kitty video lover.  You know – that part that actually makes you fall in love with him.  Often you are both so nervous the guy starts babbling on like an idiot about some tech bullsh*t and the lady sits there like she wishes she was home binge watching Game of Thrones.  You both leave the date never really getting to know each other and then complain there wasn’t any chemistry!  Chemistry takes a little fire and a good compliment can go a long way to spark that chemistry.

Ladies here are some options:

Compliment his choice of restaurant or bar

“I’ve always wanted to come here” or “I’ve heard really good things about this place.  I’m excited to try it”.

Compliment his appearance. 

Maybe you’re not ready to tell him he’s a total hottie and you want to jump his bones so try “You’re taller than I was expecting.  I like that” – great when you meet the Asian tech dude who is actually 5’ 8” No offense short Asian Tech Dude!

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“I really like that color on you” for the hipster in earth brown tones and brown flannel, a brown beard, brown hair and brown eyes.  RA My god guys would a dash of color every once in a while kill you?  Plum is NOT just a girl’s color!

The bottom line is you don’t have to go on and on about how he’s Dreamy MCSunshine but a few well-placed compliments will make him feel less like a total loser who is flaying away and hopefully put you both at ease.

  1. Stop Dating an Entire Area Code at Once -You’re NOT buying a dress!

With all of the dating apps out there and the ratio of men to women in Seattle feeling like it is 5 tragic hipsters to 1 single lady it’s super easy for a girl to go on date after date after date.  A LOT of you ladies think this is how you find Mr. Right.  I know you’ve been told you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.  Total Bullsh*t.  The only reason you should be kissing a lot toads is if you are a total freak who is into amphibians and if you are, that is SUPER gross!

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Dating should be like a wine tasting. When you go to a winery do they line up 40 glasses of wine and tell you to go at it?  H*ll No! Then why would you go out on 10 dates with 8 different guys in two weeks?  All that does is ruins your ability to differentiate what you’re tasting and gives you a killer hang over the next day.  Sound a lot like bad dating? Yeah I thought so!

Find a little out about the guy to see if you have some compatibility and some sort of a spark.  Focus on a few guys and spend a little bit of time savoring them before you make a decision on what you like. You may have to spit a few back in the bucket instead of being a drunken lush guzzling down free drinks! If you are going out on dates with more than 3 guys (and that is really almost too many) all you’re doing is confusing yourself and you’re going to piss off Mr. Right because quality guys are smart and don’t like lining up to take a number behind a lot of jackasses.  The confident guy knows he can go out and get another girl while you screw around trying to figure out if you like Juan Carlo, the chef guy, or Kirk, the barista fire dancer, or Lance, the tech boy wonder.  A good guy will get insulted if you want to shop through the entire city filled with dudes with dubious social skills before making a decision.

You’re not shopping for a new dress for your bestie’s wedding where you go to a dozen different stores and try on dozens dresses in the process. It is impossible to find a real connection with someone this way. I went on a first date on a Thursday then we had dinner the following Monday which was a lot of fun, then we went out that Saturday which was great.  So in 10 days we had been out 3 times.  By date No. 3 we both had a good idea we liked each other and were interested.  So stop going on 50 first dates a month.  You are wasting your time and you are wasting our time.   Try to choose your “wines” wisely and don’t get all drunk on the male attention because you will just be left with a headache and a bunch of empty relationships if you are not careful!

  1. You Better Be Who You Say You Are

I covered a lot of profile pictures missteps the ladies make in my blog  but here is one more – You better look like your picture and be who you say you are.  That means DO NOT have a picture of you in a bikini when you were 30 lbs. lighter from 2 years ago.  You have just raised the bar to a place where I will be disappointed when I meet you in person.  DO NOT post a picture from 10 years ago where you look 10 years younger (and yes people do that).  Your date will show up and will be instantly bummed and possible a bit ticked off.

Also if you say you are single, be single and not in a “we’re kind of on a break” thing with your boyfriend of 10 years who you secretly want to get back together with but you decided to date other people since he screwed his neighbor last week.  If you are available, be able to meet with a guy before the next Presidential Election! If you say you’re laid back, don’t freak out when a guy is honest and says he may not be that interested.  Basically, don’t over sell yourself to a point you can’t cover it because it is just frustrating and disappointing from a guy’s point of view.

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So to recap when you are out on a date you can actually CONTRIBUTE to the conversation instead of sitting there like the Queen of England as we work our freaking butts of trying to impress you.  It’s a little old school but laughing at a guy’s slightly awkward jokes or smiling at him every once in a while goes a long way to letting the dude know you are not wishing you were watching The Real Housewives of Who Gives a F*ck and are glad he asked you out.

Stop wasting our time if you are really waiting for a text from the guy you ACTUALLY like after the date last weekend.  Just don’t go out with anyone else until you figure out what is up with Super McHot Stuff.

Also don’t make yourself out to be a Victoria’s Secret Model who globe trots in her spare time when you are a single mother of 3 who gets down to Portland every once in a while.  You are only wasting your time by being deceitful.  A guy should want to spend time with the real YOU and if he doesn’t then he is not worth your time.

I know some guys are a solid 10 on the douche scale and it’s not easy for the ladies but let me tell you, dating for a guy right now in this shark tank we live in is about as much fun as a prostate exam by a doctor without gloves who didn’t properly washing his hands after downing a couple dozen flaming hot wings!  Ladies, if you really do want to find a good guy and have better first dates you need to get your act together and bring something to the table when Mr. Dreamboat meets you at the bar or else it’s going to be like the last few Adam Sandler movies – a COMPLETE TURD of a date (I mean really dude what happened? You used to be funny!).

Please for the love of God MAKE A FUNNY MOVIE!

Please for the love of God MAKE A FUNNY MOVIE!

Now GET OFF MY LAWN!

Rants

* RA– Rant Alerts warn the reading a rant will immediately follow and allow the reader to skip ahead to avoid the angry onslaught of truths, bitterness, orneriness and downright cantankerous diatribes that are about to follow.

When Life Gives You Crabs Make Crab Bisque – Creole Crab and Corn Bisque

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Disclaimer

The names in this story have been changed to protect the true identities of some because certain individuals may or may not be wanted for questioning by Chinese Custom Authorities.

It’s not often a recipe originates from a clandestine parking lot meeting BUT that is exactly how this one went down.  I received an ominous message simply saying “Bring a cooler tonight” for someone we are going to call “TJ”.  Now TJ is a big fan of Rants and Recipes.  He is also a very “interesting” individual.  He is a mover and shaker.  A man who is always on the hunt for a hot commodity and has his finger on the pulse of what’s moving on the streets.  He favors hoodies and baseball caps as he moves along the shadowy edge of commerce.  He often speaks in code to make sure he isn’t collared in an undercover sting.  He’s half Avon Barksdale from The Wire and half The Shady Salesman from Sesame Street whispering in your ear “Hey you want to buy a letter “O”.  Most don’t know this but TJ is a man with refined tastes who appreciates the finer things: good booze, cool jazz and a cigar every now and then.

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Buyano

If you aren’t familiar with The Shady Salesman check out this video!

When TJ told me to bring a cooler I knew exactly what was going down.  I was about to get crabs.  And a lot of crabs  Normally I not super excited about the prospect of getting crabs, especially from a dude, but this time was different because it was TJ and I knew he could deliver.  The exchange was flawless.  Most people in that parking lot had no idea that he had just unloaded a shit-ton of crabs in my car.

So now I had a garbage bag which could barely contain my crabs stashed in the cooler.  What was I going to do?  Only one thing to do and that was to share the crabs with some of my friends!  I had to keep quiet because you don’t want your friends to know you have crabs.  People kind of get freaked out.  But I was going to show them how good crabs can be.

All bad STD innuendos aside, I decided to make a Creole Style Crab Bisque.  One thing that drives me crazy about the way some people cook is their relationship to seasoning.  Maybe it is just because I’m a loud obnoxious know-it-all but I like my food to be bold.  I love things with flavor like smoked pork products, single malt scotches, coffee porters and Dominican Maduro wrapped cigars.  After living in New Orleans for half my life I have come to appreciate food with a bit of punch.  Lately with the ‘farm to table” craze people seem far more interested in naming the pig and describing what his favorite reality TV show was then smoking that bad boy to perfection.  It’s fine that you read your hog bed time stories and he ate only organically grown apples but you better know how to season that sucker or it’s all a big waste in my opinion.

So I wanted to make a bisque where you could not only taste the buttery richness of the crab and cream but also had a pop from the cayenne and thyme.  From the reaction of my dinner guests they appreciated the flavor not only of TJ’s mysteriously acquired Alaskan crab legs but the Creole seasonings.

You don’t need to have TJ’s crabs to make this dish because any crab will do but it sure makes for a better story.

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Creole Crab and Corn Bisque

3 tbsp. of vegetable oil

3 tbsp. of flour

1 medium yellow onion –  minced

1 cup corn kernels (cut from 2 ears of corn or frozen)

3 shallots – minced

2 ribs of celery – minced

3 garlic cloves – minced

1 ½ tsp of fresh minced thyme

½ tsp of red pepper flakes or cayenne

1 ½ tsp of Creole Seasoning like Tony Chachere’s

2 cups of stock made from crab shells or vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups milk

½ lbs of crab meat

Louisiana style hot sauce like Crystal or Tabasco


  1. Heat oil in large pot, preferably a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the flour and stir continuously to make the roux.  Make sure you scrape all parts of the pan so the roux doesn’t burn.  Make a medium brown roux (see photos), 5-10 minutes.

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Stir the Roux constanly


Make a Medium Roux

Make a Medium Roux

  1. Add onions, corn (if using fresh) shallots celery, thyme and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes until onions are soft, stirring often.

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  1. Add 2 cups of stock.  If you have crab shells you can make a seafood stock by gently simmering a pot with enough water to cover the shells for 15-20 minutes.  If you don’t, you can just use vegetable stock.
  2. Add bay leaves, pepper flakes, and Creole Seasoning and bring to a boil.
  3. Add cream and milk.  Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for approximately 30 minutes.

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  1. Add crab meat and corn (if using frozenand simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves and check your seasoning. There should be a bit of heat and spice to it. Add some more Creole seasoning and a couple of dashes of hot sauce if needed. Serve in bowls with a warm French loaf.

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Now that you have a bisque recipe that isn’t all chicken shit about spices  I expect you to grab some unsuspecting friends and share as many crabs with them as you think they can safely handle in one night.  Also, if you’re in need of canned salmon or any tools from China TJ can hook you up.

NOW GET OFF MY LAWN

Rants

A Recipe for Love – Simply Sexy Chicken Soup

A Recipe for Love- Simply  Sexy Chicken Soup

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Food is sexy.  No I do not get aroused by a succulent piece of chicken but my senses DO get excited by well-prepared dishes. For me food and romance go hand in hand.  The sight of all that yumminess causes a sense of anticipation.  The smell of the food wafting up from the plate and then the moment of truth as you take the first bite. SEXY! Also there is nothing quite like the look of a beautiful woman taking her first bite and seeing her eyes fill with joy as she savors your handiwork.  I am sure many of my loyal readers have no idea what I am talking about because let’s be honest you really can’t cook.  Feeling a rare moment of kindness and compassion, I’m publishing a series of recipes specifically to impress your someone special because I am a diehard romantic, albeit a somewhat bitter, jaded and grumpy one.

On today’s menu is something that everyone loves: homemade chicken soup.  It’s easy, familiar, and comforting, kind of like cuddling on the couch but in a bowl.  This soup not only tastes great but it feels homemade. This is not that yellowy stuff you buy at Safeway on the way to your girlfriend’s house when she is sick. You do bring your girlfriend soup when she’s sick right guys?!?Don’t make me write a blog about that guys!

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Homemade chicken soup is super sexy.  There is something very attractive about taking something simple and turning it into a tango in your mouth – all sensual and romantic.  We all expect fancy foods to blow our minds but we are pretty stunned when a humble soup becomes a master piece.  It’s kind of like the nerdy girl in high school who turned out to be a total hottie!  This soup works. Trust me.  I gave samples of it to two of the hottest women I know and it got rave reviews. One was feeling under the weather and she ate it for breakfast for the next three days!  It’s never a bad thing when a lady is thinking about you first thing in the morning.

The secret is… drumroll please… to make your own stock. Before you freak out it is SUPER easy.  I actually took a nap last time I did it! Seriously.  I slept for 45 minutes I know some of you have trouble turning on the stove but please tell me you can bring a pot of water and goodies to a simmer and then chill out for a while!  An hour invested in starting from scratch can be the difference between your cutie wanting to curl up with you on the couch for some “quality time” or you binge watching House of Cards on Netflix by yourself!  So here we go!

Simply Sexy Chicken Soup – makes 8 servings

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Stock

2 lbs. of chicken – you can use breasts but I prefer thighs because the bones make a better stock.

1 carrot peeled

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 piece of whole celery

2 bay leaves

12 cups (1 ½ qts) of water

Soup

2 carrots – diced

3 pieces of celery – diced

1 ½ cups of diced red onion (approximately 1 med. onion)

2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

3 tbsp. of butter

1 tbsp. of fresh thyme – finely chopped

½ cup of rice

Salt

Pepper

Warm French loaf if desired

Stock is Sexy

Stock is sexy!  It brings that extra touch of class to a soup that is the difference between a dress being too tight and looking trampy or hugging a girl’s figure just right and making her look totally smoking!  It’s subtle and often hard to put your finger on it but when it’s not there everything seems shallow and dull.  Sound like your last date?  I can’t help with that but trust me when I say stock is where soups get their flavor.

  1. Add the water to a pot. Put in everything else. EVERYTHING. Use chicken with the skin on and everything.  Just throw it in there.  You don’t need to cut it or anything.  See I told you it was simple. You need enough water to cover everything and then some, so add more if needed.
  1. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 45 minutes – 2 hours without a lid. Anything longer than 2 hours is unnecessary for this stock.  I took a nap last time and let it simmer for about an hour. You do want a simmer and not a hard boil.  Simmer is where there are a few bubbles not Mt. Vesuvius erupting for you culinary illiterates out there.  If you need more water add it.
  1. Take and strain the stock through a colander (I use a fine wire one) into another large pot or bowl. Set the solids (meat and everything else) aside and let cool.

The Soup

  1. Put a pot big enough to hold the whole soup on medium heat and add the butter until melted, then the onions, carrots and celery. Sauté for 4-5 minutes and add the garlic and thyme.  Stir for another 1-2 minutes.
  1. Add the stock and a couple of pinches of salt and a few shakes of pepper and bring to a gentle simmer.
  1. Hopefully the chicken is cool enough to shred and pick through. Discard the carrot, bay leaf, celery and everything but the chicken meat.  Now take the chicken and pull it apart with your fingers, carefully discarding any small bones or gristle.  Discard the skin.  You just want the shredded chicken now. This will get messy but it is totally worth it!
  1. Add the chicken to the soup then the rice. Bring to a gentle boil for about 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender. Add more water or canned stock if the soup is too thick.
  1. Add more salt if needed. Serve with a warm loaf of bread and a couple of pats of butter.

Now all you need is someone special to share this with!  If you don’t have someone invite the cutest prospect you know over and watch what happens.  Voila!  Romance in a bowl.

Damn I got so wrapped up in the romance I almost forgot – GET OFF MY LAWN!

Sincerely,

Rants

Online Dating-Top 5 Profile Photo Mistakes for Ladies

Ladies, Ladies Ladies!  You’re doing the online dating thing because EVERYONE is right?  So your profiles are up and your phone is blowing up with dudes saying “Hi” and nothing else.  You swear every guy in town is a douchebag.  The truth is that the decent fellas are swiping left when you come up. Why? It’s your freakin’ profile picture!  Yeah the one you think you look absolutely adorable as Zombies at Halloween – yeah that one – we think it sucks.

After looking at profile pictures for over a year on every damn dating site some bored Ivy League geek has dreamed up I have some suggestions.  Here are my Top 5 Profile Pic Mistakes for Ladies:

  1.  Don’t Blow Your First Impression

Do you go to a job interview wearing your pajamas and a hoodie?  (I know the answer is yes for some of you but you’re hopeless so I’m not offended if you stop reading right now).  You know that picture you love where you are making that stupid face that is so funny?  DO NOT use it as your first or main photo.  You look kind of weird in that one. Like you accidently ate a whole live fish and are about to projectile vomit!  Don’t believe me?

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Find a photo that you look your best in, preferably in a nice outfit or dress or something that is at least flattering like jeans and a cute top.  Remember you are trying to attract a quality guy, not some Dorito eating stoner.

You don’t have to be in your little black dress in full makup,  BUT if you have a picture like that USE IT!  Here’s the thing – men like hot women!  Yeah it sucks, we are chauvinistic pigs blah blah blah but it’s just the damn truth.  Your first picture should be you looking your best.  Think of the first photo as meeting a guy on your first date. You can save some of the more quirky funny face pictures for when he swipes right to show you with a big mustache (TOTALLY overdone BTW).

DON’TS:
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DOS:
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More DON’TS:
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Mom of the year award! I’ve been looking for a woman who knows how to hold a baby AND drink a beer!  My dreams have been answered!
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I’m an Archer fan but really?

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This says “I will get you so drunk you won’t remember all the nasty things about me” and sorry sweetie but there is no way in h*ll you’re 35 years old like you say in your profile!

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Every guy’s dream girl!  A girl you can shove a beer in front of her face and drink!  So original.  I bet there is only maybe like 3000 girls during Oktoberfest in costumes drinking a beer!  So  so hot.  NOT!

If you know any of these girls please please please help them!!  Be a BFF and take control of their profile!

  1. No Sunglasses – No Baseball Caps!

Ladies you don’t realize this but almost every single one of you has a selfie of you in the car in sunglasses doing the duckface!  Stop it!  Please stop it.  Some girls look pretty damn cute in baseball caps and the trucker hats are trendy but STOP IT.  Do you know why movie stars wear hats and sunglasses in the airport and out in public?  So NO ONE will recognize them!  Unless you are in the witness protection program, is online dating really for you? Just saying. So please lose the hat and sunglasses.
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I have no idea what you look like !!!

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Unrecognizable car selfie                          Vs.                                         Beautiful Blue Eyes!

No I am not saying you can’t use that photo of you at the beach or summiting Rainer because you have sunglasses on or a sun hat but make sure it is just one photo.  I am not lying when I tell you I looked at one girl’s photos and she had sunglasses on in all of them.  Needless to say she got discarded instantly

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Great beach photo-Bad Main Profile Pic

  1. No Freakin’ Seawhawks Gear

If you think the way to a man’s heart is to chant “Go Hawks” you’re wrong because from what I can tell EVERY SINGLE GIRL in Seattle is a Seahawks fan!  I’m not lying.  Every profile contains one photo of her in Seahawks gear at least.  While a chick that likes sports is cool the Seahawks, Huskies and Cougs thing is so overdone it’s totally ineffective.  Not to mention most sports apparel is just slightly fitted men’s shirts and not super flattering.

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I am SO BORED with these!

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And this!  WTF!?!  I guess because you have a pink “12”  you are a sexy Hawks fan?!?

  1. No Group Photos

I can’t believe I have to even say this but DO NOT FOR ANY REASON AT ALL (EVER) use a group photo for your main profile picture.  You make us play detective and try to figure out which one is you.  All that ends up happening is I realize your friend is hotter!  Is that what you want?  Me staring at the faces of all the hot ladies you call friends trying to find you?  I didn’t think so! I have seen many profiles where 85% are group photos.  I forget who I am even looking for after a while!

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The two on the right are super hot!  The one on the left messaged me! I didn’t respond because I couldn’t stop thinking about the girl in the red shoes (those shoes are so HOT!).  Damn maybe I should message the girl and ask for the friends number because those shoes are hot!

  1.  Don’t get too artistic.

Another major crime is the profile full of artistic pictures where I can see half your eyeball next to a tulip as the sunsets at Golden Gardens.  It makes me want to date your photographer (though it was probably taken by your ex!).  Cool photos are great!  The yoga pose off in the distance at the beach is great.  That pic of you silhouetted against the mountain sunrise is gorgeous BUT I want to see YOU not your winning photo for Outside Magazine.  I have seen more than a few profiles that ONLY have photos like this.  If you make it too hard for me to see what you look like it doesn’t pique my interest and it makes me think you have something to hide!  One of these pics is okay but be very very choosy about using too many of them unless you are only looking to date someone super artistic!

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I’m thinking “you must be ugly, but the sunset is pretty!”

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Makes me think “ugly but flexible…hmm…”

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I’m dizzy just looking at this!

The Bottom Line

Guys are pretty simple when it comes to pictures.  We want to see what YOU look like.  Not your friends, not the stars, not the beach or the mountains.  You should choose photos that are flattering, i.e. that you look good in!  If you’re not sure ask your friends – your MALE friends!  Women see each other in a totally different way than men who are looking to date someone.  When I say we want to know what you look like I don’t just mean your face. That does not mean you have to post bikini pictures but I would like to know if you are shortish or tallish, skinnyish or roundish.  If you only have a pics of your face I will assume you are built like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and 5 ft. tall!  Adventure pics like scuba diving, skiing, skydiving are great to show more of your personality but they usually show very little of how you actually look so be careful filling your profile up with these.

The truth is you can have a picture of you rocking a Seahawks cap with your sunnies on and your face obscured by a gigantic bouquet of flowers but you better have just ONE and it better not be your MAIN pic or else you are in danger of being swiped left by that dashing smart man you have been kissing all those frogs to meet!

Wind River Mountains 2014: We hit the WRIR again

My cousin’s trip report on a trip we did last fall.

Rocky Mountain Fly-Fishing Adventures

So I found myself at DIA once again in mid September waiting for a flight from Seattle . My cousin and backpacking partner in crime, Jason (or Sellers as he is commonly known), had relocated since our last  trip to the Winds from New Orleans to the Pacific Northwest. He was due to land in Denver around 10:00 PM and we were going to drive to Laramie, Wyoming that night. It was more towards 11:00 PM by the time we hit E-470 and headed north towards Fort Collins on I-25. We got caught up on the usual details during the drive up and arrived in short order around 1:30 AM, just enough time to get a hotel room and a six pack for a night cap (as liquor stores in the state are open until 2:00 AM, unlike Colorado where you are out of luck after 12:00 AM). This year we had a…

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