A Dayquil-Induced Rant Against Pretentious Food Porn Magazines (Mainly, Saveur)

I was deathly ill last week. I was fairly certain it was the summer plague or typhoid. I’m not sure. My guess was walking pneumonia, but I’ll admit I tend to be a bit dramatic on these issues sometimes.

It started with a sore throat, some harmless coughing. Then, over the course of the next couple of days, it hit all the stages of grossness—stuffed up nose, phlegmatic cough, painful throat and ear canals and general miserableness.

I moved downstairs to the couch (in an effort to save XFE from both catching my disease and losing sleep from my coughing). And during those many long nights and days alone ensconced in my couch, drenched in Vick’s Vap-O-Rub, drinking cup after cup of Throat Coat (ok, and a hot toddy or two) and hopped up on various cold medicines, I had a lot of time to think about life’s mysteries and how precious good health is, and most importantly, the state of our household magazine subscriptions.

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Continue reading A Dayquil-Induced Rant Against Pretentious Food Porn Magazines (Mainly, Saveur)

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Haciendo Fideo: Making Noodle Soup

So….I’m Mexican. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming).

Don’t let the pale, sunburn-prone skin and curly, red hair fool you. I am definitely La Chicana. Maybe even a Chola. I don’t know. I haven’t fully explored my new-found ethnicity yet.

little loca
Odelay.

Let me explain: since my adult-companion-caretaker-for-life XFE has been out of town a lot lately (first on a cross-country golf trip with his dad, then on a work trip to Japan), I’ve had a bit of free time on my hands. It appears that when one is not being bossed around, and doing adult things like laundry, grocery shopping, and watering the yard, there is a lot of time left over.

(To address your questions: Laundry – I have lots of clothes and could probably go without doing laundry for about a month before things became, shall we say, pungent. Grocery shopping – that’s what take out and frozen foods are for. Watering the yard – why bother? The squirrels are eating all my damn tomatoes anyway)

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What are you looking at, chola?

So in my vast amounts of newly discovered “me” time, I’ve been discovering me; ie: snooping around into my family tree.

I have been slightly curious about this topic before; as would anyone with the last name Poe (for the record: Not related to the Great One, not even remotely). My mother also has a slightly unusual maiden name that always made me wonder, “Where the hell did that come from?”

But when one is raised in the rough-and-tumble wilds of trailer parks in West Texas, things like tracing one’s genealogy seem mighty frou-frou and uppity. Plus, I’m not exactly a very family-oriented person, in that, basically, I don’t really talk to mine very much.

Then I realized, I don’t live in a trailer park anymore and I’m quite frou-frou and uppity, and as an uppity frou-frou professional type person, I’m expected to know where my family originated.

fancy

Sidenote: You should see the horror on people’s faces when I exclaim loudly, “Where are my people from? They’re white trash from the trailer parks! Before that, we were probably dirt farmers! Where’s the race classification checkbox for that?” After an uncomfortable pause, I usually then launch into a tirade on how white trash people are underreported and disenfranchised in society. Don’t worry — I’ve started a movement for restitution. An unsuccessful and entirely unsympathetic movement, I might add.

Anyway, what I found was totally surprising. On my errant father’s side, his people go all the way back to tobacco farmers who arrived in Virginia in 1704. Before that the line is a bit sketchy and unclear, but as far as I (and the lovely hard workers on ancestry.com) can tell, they most likely came from a long line of Poes in and around Nottingham. As in England, y’all.

Then there’s my mother’s side. My grandfather’s people came over from Bergen, Norway in the 1800s. I was pretty blown away by that. I would have never in a million years guessed Norway. But there it was, my mother’s maiden name on a ship manifest in 1843. All historic and proof-like. Crazy.

But the real kicker was my maternal grandmother’s father. My great, great grandfather was Mexican. Which makes me, like, 1/16th Mexican. Or maybe it’s 1/32nd. I don’t know. Math is the devil’s work. At least, that’s what people from Norway believe.

In honor of my Mexican heritage, I made fideo this week. Fideo is sort of a Mexican noodle soup with tomatoes. Both my grandma and my mom used to make it. Con pollo, naturalmente. (That means with chicken for all you non-natives out there.) We also make it kinda thick, so it’s really like chicken spaghetti when it’s all said and done.

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Hola. Mi nombre es fideo.

First, you pour a large goblet o’wine. Since Mexico isn’t known for it’s wine, I went a bit further south of the border and had a glass of Argentinian Malbec.

Then, you throw half an onion, some crushed garlic cloves, salt and pepper in some water with a couple of ridiculously large chicken breasts and boil for about one-and-a-half episodes of a Real Housewives of Whatever. (You’re trying to cook the chicken through). Remove the chicken and let it cool. Keep the leftover broth to the side.

Pasta + Petunia = Party 001

Have another glass of wine and watch another Real Housewives while waiting for the chicken to cool. Shred the chicken and set aside.

fideo ingredients

Heat up a small amount of vegetable oil. Chop up the other half of the onion, crush some more garlic and brown it all in the hot oil. Add the fideo noodles. Usually, I use those vermicelli nest ones, but fancy-schmancy Trader Joe’s didn’t have those, so I just used capellini and broke them into small pieces. Brown the pasta until it smells nice and nutty and homey.

everybody in the pan

Add a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, the shredded chicken, and the leftover chicken broth a ladle at a time. Add some cumin, come cayenne, more salt and pepper. The noodles will absorb the broth, so you’ll need a fair amount, but probably not the whole pots-worth. Just eyeball it. Heat on low until it looks yummy and smells so freaking good, you can’t stand it any more.

fideo finito

It’s easy and comforting and is one of the few dishes from my childhood that I actually crave and have good memories associated with (do NOT get me started on creamed corn).

Fideo belly

Now I guess I have to figure out what they make in Norway. I have a feeling it might involve creamed corn or something equally gross.

Big ups to my aunt Delores for taking the time to do the maternal part of the family tree AND putting it on the internet so I could stumble upon it. Saved me shitloads of time. Time which I could then put towards making fideo. 

vikings
Bring us the fideo!

I Want All My Babies’ Mamas

I am hopping mad, y’all. Madder than a cat on bath day. Our civil liberties as citizens of this fine nation are under attack. Our constitutional rights are being trod upon. And no, I’m not talking about efforts to rein in assault rifles.

I’m talking about the premature cancellation of this fine bit of television viewing.

The show is called All My Babies’ Mamas and it is (was?) a reality show being developed by Oxygen. It featured the complicated, day-to-day life of an Atlanta rapper known as Shawty Lo, who has fathered 11 children by 10 different women.

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Oxygen released the trailer a few weeks ago and all hell broke loose. Controversy erupted. Petitions for its demise were organized. Oxygen pulled the trailer, saying the show was still in development.

You can see the video for the trailer here, along with a young lady who introduces it and offers her own opinion on it. Hilariously enough, there’s an advertisement for a What to Expect When You’re Expecting Workout Video at the beginning of it.

Listen, I get what everybody is mad about. I do. However, I think we are vastly overreacting here.

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One of the major objections is that it glorifies a certain, less-desirable lifestyle. I find this objection specious on several levels.

First of all, everyone knows reality television is not really reality. Real reality is very, very boring. Watching me work, clean house, and eat dinner is only sometimes mildly amusing to myself, my cat and XFE. For the most part, it’s incredibly dull. So any “reality” show that has any entertainment value is going to feature some crazy premise. That doesn’t mean that one should model one’s life after a reality show and start having babies with multiple women. Nor should one take a dump truck and make a pool out of it, kids of Buckwild. Nor should anyone talk about their incontinence issues on cable television, Kardashians. Nor should one buy a winery without doing some research, people of Duck Dynasty. These are all things I’m not going to emulate, regardless of whether I saw someone do it on television.

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Second, 11 children with 10 women is Shawty Lo’s reality. And a lot of other people’s, by the way. My father had five daughters with three women, so he was pretty much making inroads into ATL rapper territory way before the term “babies’ mamas” was coined. The Kardashians have like, 30 children between the two of them. And what about them Sister Wives folks? Seems like they’ve got a passel of young ‘uns, and only one father figure on the scene.  Maybe we should seize this opportunity to talk about preventative measures here.

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Third, Shawty Lo appears to be taking care of all these children and women (according to this very interesting MTV interview about the controversy), and that’s actually something to be applauded. There are a lot of people having kids and then bouncing, so the fact that he’s supporting them is great. And, Shawty and his family have just as much of a right to earn a reality buck as any of the other yahoos on reality TV, including the kids of Jersey Shore, Honey Boo Boo’s family, and a slew of others.

Fourth, some have suggested that the show is playing on racial stereotypes. To which, I would point out, so does Honey Boo Boo, Buckwild, Jersey Shore, Basketball Wives, Mafia Wives, and even, Doomsday Preppers. You almost never see anything other than crazy white people on Doomsday Preppers. There. I said it. And it’s true. I’m white trash straight from the trailer parks of West Texas and I do not take any offense to the way my people are portrayed on these shows. I wish I were half as ingenious as those kids on Buckwild (they can find fun anywhere), or had half the cojones as those crazy jackholes on Gold Rush (again, all crazy white dudes), or felt as passionate about a cause as those crazy white hippie kids on Whale Wars.

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So Oxygen, here my plea: Let us have our All My Babies’ Mamas. Let us learn why Angela is known as the “Fighter Baby Mama.” How does she get along with Amanda, the “Jealous Baby Mama?” What is it exactly that makes Serena the “Shady Baby Mama?”  How does First Lady E’Creia manage the finances? What can Tamara, the “No-Drama Baby Mama” teach us all about civility? Why shouldn’t Sujuan, the “Wanna be Bougie Baby Mama” strive to be bourgeois?

All these questions must and should be cleared up. 

I Guess That ‘Here Comes the Bride’ is a Pretty Catchy Jam

Poor Reese Witherspoon. Parents are, indeed, a neverending embarrassment.

According to several media reports, Reese Witherspoon’s dad got married back in January. But before you pull out the congratulatory champagne, keep in mind: he wasn’t divorced from Reese’s mother. The Tennessean had the story first on Thursday:

The Hollywood star’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon, who is known as Betty, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against her husband, John Draper Witherspoon, seeking to have his new marriage to Tricianne Taylor annulled. The lawsuit accuses the two of bigamy….In her lawsuit, Betty Witherspoon said she loves her husband and does not want a divorce.

OMG, Mad Men alert! Her mother’s name is Betty?? And her father’s middle name is Draper?? And there’s some domestic shadiness surrounding some lies involving multiple wives and different lives?? Total Mad Men moment.

Wonder if he’s thinking about getting hitched?

John Draper Witherspoon played the bumbling idiot husband card when ol’ Betty confronted him:

“When I confronted my husband, he said he didn’t know who Tricianne Taylor was and that he did not remember getting married,” she said in the affidavit.

That’s right! Deny, deny, deny. “Hmmmm, let’s see. I remember waking up that morning, and I remember having eggs for breakfast, but I do not remember getting married.” Not that it didn’t happen, mind you — just that he didn’t remember it. But, records show he did file for the damn marriage license, according to the reports.

Oops. There’s a picture.

Also, I must admit, I’m very intrigued by this little tidbit.

Reese Witherspoon’s parents have been married for 42 years, but her father’s drinking and hoarding problems prompted the couple to move to separate houses in 1996, but they never divorced, according to the lawsuit.

What’s really interesting about this is that the Tennessean did not mention that Betty also highlighted his infidelity as an issue, but several other media reports did.

Since John Draper Witherspoon has a successful daughter, his hoarding was of a much higher caliber than the mountains of Wal-Mart clothes and garage sale appliances you’d normally see on A&E’s Hoarders.

“He owns at least five motorcycles, five boats and recently bought a black Cadillac.”

Anyway, I can pretty easily see how something like bigamy happens. I’m almost positive that my mother, who’s been married four times, wasn’t technically or legally divorced from all of her husbands before she married the next one.

The only one I’m positive she went through the motions of getting divorced from was the first one. Husbands 2, 3, and 4 are a bit sketchier. And actually, come to think of it – I’m pretty sure she IS still married to number 4, who split the scene (oh, I was around 18 at the time, so that’d be about) 22 years ago.

If memory serves me right, I think she tried to claim that one of them abandoned her or must’ve died or something and therefore, she didn’t need to go through the legal process of getting divorced. By her logic, you could just put an “abandoned” ad in the Penny Saver and go ahead and set the wedding date for the next one.

I think she thinks it’s like common law marriage where in some states (not Virginia, thankfully for XFE and me), if you live together long enough, you’re considered married. By her accounting, if you DON’T live together long enough, welp, you’re divorced.

Don’t worry, Reese. We’ve all got crazy kin.

Reality Time: Getting in Touch with My Redneck Roots via Duck Dynasty

It’s Sunday afternoon and we’re watching the Talladega Sprint Cup. We don’t usually watch NASCAR, but it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and we’ve done just about everything else we needed to do this weekend, so it seems like a suitable pastime at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon.

I’m only watching it because they have a Ricky Bobby car (no. 51). You do know about Talladega Nights, right? One of the greatest movies ever made? Actually, anything with Will Ferrell is the greatest thing ever made. I could watch that doofus in anything and pee myself laughing.

But in today’s race, someone apparently has lost his sponsorship and has painted the Ricky Bobby cougar on his hood. And his tail says “ I Wanna Go Fast.”  I’m loving it. AND he’s currently in second place. So I’m yelling and cheering him on.  *UPDATE: Dangit, my boy just crashed at 4:43. I’m quite despondent. But he’s not going to go out quietly, no sir. He’s now driving the wrong way down pit row, in true Ricky Bobby spirit. I swear if he jumps out and starts yelling he’s on fire, I’m going to fall off this couch.

It’s actually got me thinking about some other rednecks I am currently loving – the folks on “Duck Dynasty.”

This is an amazing show on A&E. A&E used to stand for Arts and Entertainment television. In its early days, A&E was kinda like a cable version of PBS. It had documentaries on the arts and shows like “Sherlock Holmes,” “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” and “Biography.”

But these days, they’re catering quite a bit to the lowest common denominators and showing some mighty fine reality programming.  “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” “Billy the Exterminator,”  “Lady Hoggers,” “Hoarders,” and my personal favorite, “Storage Wars” (original and Texas editions.)

But “Duck Dynasty” might be A&E’s greatest triumph. The show follows the Robertson clan, a family from West Monroe, Louisiana. Now, I’m a bit familiar with that neck of the woods – I have an aunt who lives in the tiny little town of Bernice, which is nearby. I even spent a summer there in high school. In true white-trash fashion, I was dropped off by my mom’s truck driver boyfriend at the beginning of summer, and picked up in the same fashion at the end of it.

I spent the summer running wild with my boy cousins and their extended family on their dad’s side, riding ATV’s, pestering wild animals (mostly frogs and crocodiles) in the dense woods surrounding their property, and fishing in their lake. In the evenings, I would help my poor beleaguered aunt out by shucking purple hull peas and helping fry hush puppies. It was a really good summer.

Anyway, “Duck Dynasty” follows the shenanigans of Willie, the CEO of Duck Commander, a multi-million company that makes duck calls and duck decoys; his brother Jase, who works for the company, as well as his other brother Jep, who you see a lot less of. But the real characters are Willie’s father and the Duck Commander founder, Phil and his brother, Si.

They all look like ZZ Top, and they have unbelievably hot wives. The older generation is plumb crazy. Si is a former Vietnam Vet who I’m pretty sure still thinks he’s in the midst of the war.  Phil has tons of folksy wisdom to dole out, most of it regarding how to deal with womenfolk.

The whole family kills beavers, frogs, ducks, bees, just about anything that might attract their attention. They have a lot of anger towards the animal kingdom, but especially beavers. Pretty much every episode ends on a preachy note, with the family gathered around a dinner table for a big family dinner and a voice over of Willie telling us what we were supposed to learn out of the episode. It’s the one thing I don’t like about the show.

Actually, the other thing I’m not too fond of is that some of the show is definitely faked and revolves around some sitcom-like situations. For example, Willie buys a winery, but knows nothing about wine. Hijinks ensue. Phil’s wife Kay wants to open a restaurant, so a local restaurant let’s her set up shop for one night. Hilarious mayhem results. It’s a bit forced sometimes.

But back to that folksy wisdom. One of my favorite things about the show is some of the quotes these guys throw out. Here are a few of my recent favorites.

First it’s pretty tires, then it’s pretty guns…next thing you know, you’re shaving your beard and wearing capri pants. – Si

I believe what Si is saying here is that you have to be very careful not to be sissified. It’s true. You must maintain your manliness at all times. Si and company are quite, quite worried about sissification, especially among the grandkids.

She may be an ugly woman but she if cooks squirrel and dumplings, that’s the woman you go after – Phil

This was Phil’s recommendations to his grandsons on how to find and pick a suitable wife. He is quite concerned that his grandsons might marry one of them “city girls.”

“When you don’t know what you’re doing it’s best to do it quickly” – Jase

Ah, yes. Fake it till you make it. And fake it fast.

“Mainly I use the grandkids, when it comes to crawfishing, as a labor pool” – Phil

Yep, been there, done that. I’ve been free labor.

“What Willie needs to do…if he wants to be more productive…is fire all of us” – Jase

Similarly, you definitely get what you pay for.

Ducks are a lot like women…they don’t like mud on their butts. – Phil

Well, that’s just a fact.