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Monday
Nov122012

Crispy Pig Skin

I'm not talking about the pig skins that you can pick up at any gas station south of the mason-dixon line.  I'm talking about pulling the skin off of a pig that has been pit-cooked long and slow and basted with my mommy's BBQ sauce.  The skin is crispy - so crispy, that it's almost fragile.  I usually burn my fingers as I'm trying to find a piece loose enough to pull away from the pig.  I score big-time when the piece I pull still has an oh-so-thin layer of juicy fat attached to the underside. Oh my gosh!!  My mouth waters just thinking of it!  Biting into the skin with your top teeth makes the skin crackle and crumble and then you sink your teeth into the glossy smooth layer of the juicy fat.  I cannot even begin to describe the delightful taste.  I can only tell you to seek out a pig pickin' in the Southern territory - these people know how to cook a pig!

This past Saturday night my parents hosted an intimate little hoe-down in the field behind the house.  We sat outside all day, tending the fire, ensuring that the pig had an even heat.  My mom made her infamous BBQ slaw (it's RED people) and her spicy Lexington-style BBQ sauce (the BBQ sauce is so good that MB and I stand around a jar and drink it straight from the jar!).  As I mentioned, this was a small affair.  It was a spur-of-the-moment cookout since we are having 70 degree weather in mid-November (yes please!!)!  No band...no huge tables laden with food.  Instead, it was a couple of tables haphazardly set up, mason jars filled with roses by my sister (the artistic one), fire pits for warmth and smores after the sun went down, and people pulling their own pig. 

I think we all agreed - this was the best pig-pickin' we've hosted:  my mommy didn't freak out because something wasn't perfect, no band to set up, no huge platters of food because some of those invited did not RSVP, thus, leaving us with loads of extra food (this is my pet peeve).  Well.... not really.   I think my number one pet peeve has always been that my parents work so hard to create a great atmosphere and pig pickin' and then people show up with a dessert that they purchased from the local grocery store or Walmart!  Seriously people - would it kill you to take the time to personally make a dessert??? Little secret - no one eats these desserts because everyone eats the HOMEMADE dessert and then the person that brought the nasty dessert doesn't even take it home so it winds up in the trash! The person that brought the dessert could have at least eaten it or taken it home!  Seriously!!!  But none of that this year, no issues were had this Saturday night - we had a fantastic time!  No one rushed away and we had great story tellings around the fire....not to mention the s'mores!

The burn barrel used for making coals to cook the pig

The pig being bastedThe fire pit for making s'mores!

Wednesday
Nov072012

Hi ho Hi ho

It's off to New York I go!!!

December 12 thru December 16, my chick-ees!!  Super excited - I so loooooove this city.  MB is super excited as well. NOT because he gets our place to himself for five days but because he's coming with me.  I'll be working for several days and he'll be playing.  At least I'll get to play at night.

I'm always excited to see a show, or two, or five while I'm there.  So far, we have tickets to two shows:  A Christmas Carol (my mommy absolutely hates this movie) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  I saw this show several years ago and I still believe this is the best show that I have EVER seen on Broadway.  How fabulous is it that I get to see it again?!?  Christmas spirit here I come!!

Monday
Nov052012

Miraflores

I cannot believe the last time that I posted was August 21st!  I'm so sorry!  I could try to make all kinds of excuses, such as traveling, foot surgery, spending time with my niece, or beach time, but I don't think that it would be fair of me.  I don't have a proper excuse.  I've just been busy.

Michael and I spent two weeks in Miraflores, Lima Peru. Lucky Michael, he got to play while I worked.  He went on several fabulous tours and explored the city on his own - a 6'4'' man can feel extremely safe in Peru!  We both fell in love with the area and the people.  The hotel we stayed in sat on the cliffs and we often wound up eating dinner at a local Mira-Flores restaurant overlooking the South Pacific.  Needless to say, the views were phenomenal.  Oh and one night we had dinner at Huaca Pucllana - it's a restaurant that was built into the side of a pyramid.  The pyramid was lit-up for the evening and we had knock-out views!  Literally, we had a rope at the side of the table preventing us from walking on the pyramid which was built 1,500 years ago.  So cool!!

The food was awesome too.  I think that I ate Ceviche 10 times out of the fourteen dinners that I had.  Not to mention the Cherimoya, Lomo Saltado and the wonderful, dreamy Alfajores.  I fell hard for the Cherimoya fruit.  I ate it every morning for breakfast and seriously considered smuggling seeds back into the U.S.  (I took them out of my luggage at the last minute).  Alfajores are sandwich cookies: they have two crispy, not too sweet cookies and a filling of dulce de leche - extreme fabulousness!!!  (I think I may make these cookies for my annual Christmas cookie give-away this year so if you're on my list.....you should be looking forward to this little treat!)

Side note:  I've since found the Cherimoya fruit at the local hispanic grocery store.  It was a poor imitation to the fresh fruit in Peru and I had to throw it away.  I'm still on the lookout....... 

Unfortunately for me, I truly only the had one full weekend to explore the country.  I had wanted to see Machu Picchu but 2 days isn't enough time so instead, we drove four hours from Lima into the dessert and took a private plane over the Nazca lines.  The day was filled with our private tour driver (it was just MB and I) that had no I.D. showing him as our driver, us finally stopping at a small hostel town and our tour director just meandering up to us (with no I.D.), us having lunch in a hostel-type restaurant over-looking the sea, another drive to the private airport, the plane ride which included 90 degree right and left turns continously with me concentrating REALLY hard not to get sick, and then another four hour ride back to the city.  While the unpreparedness of the tour guides did not fit well with my uptight American personality, I absolutely loved seeing the Nazca lines.  How an ancient people could have created something so magnificant that is still around today absolutely amazes me.  My only complaint for the day was that I like knowing that I have a clean bathroom when I have to go and this must not be so important to the Peruvians (sometimes no commode seat, no TP, and most definitely - you do not throw the TP in and flush - you put it in a small can beside the commode).  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have an extremely sensitive gag reflex and I had to talk myself out of not throwing up several times that day.  I finally just decided that I was going to hold it until we got back to the hotel - 5 hours later....while every little bump on the road had me fighting to stay dry  ;)  (Thank goodness for posh hotels with proper bathrooms).

The poverty that we saw broke our hearts.  There was one little girl, maybe 4 or 5 years old, that broke my heart and had me in tears.   I can't even think about her now without my eyes stinging.  Suffice it to say, I came home with a new appreciation for the United States.  My eyes have been opened to absolute poverty and I now understand why so many try to come to the U.S. illegally.  Even with this dismal side of the country, I fell in love with Peru, its culture, and its people and I cannot wait to go back!  Luckily, MB agrees!! 

Note:  If you click the link below, you can view all of our 800 or so photos on Flickr.

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View pictures on Flickr

Tuesday
Aug212012

A Summer's Eve in NYC

I know all of you know how I love the City.  My last trip to the City was absolutely perfect!  It was warm but I didn't find it hot.  Work was going well; so well, that I could walk around the City at night unconcerned because I didn't have to rush back to the hotel to open up the computer.  The one thing that I failed to do was to see a show.  There was really only one show that I wanted to see and it was sold out...oh well, it gave me more time to wander the streets.  And, to push my way thru the crowds..holy cow!!  There were crowds everywhere!  I guess it was the last summer trip before school starts so everyone wanted to see the bright lights of NYC.  I even had a tourist stop me and ask for directions - which I was able to provide (!!) (I must have looked like a local in my business suit).

Dinners were great as usual.  One night, I skipped off to Schnippers, I love sitting outside reading from the ipad (Harry Potter) and digging into the sweet potato fries.  Two nights (yes two), I went to Wolfgang's.  No, not Wolfgang Puck.  Just Wolfgang.  GREAT steak place.  This guy used to be the head waiter at Peter Luger's and he decided to open up shop.  So this place is exactly like Peter Luger's...except the ambiance is much better and it is much easier to get to!  Let's see...what else did I have?  Ah, Sunday night I had Halal food from THE cart.  MB was jealous.  I took a picture and sent it to him so that he would be jealous.  Oh yeah, and one night I walked just one or two blocks from Times Square to Bond 45.  A great Italian place.  Great salad, great entree, and yes, a great dessert.  At this late date I can't really remember what I ate but that's the beauty of the iphone - I can show you!  I hope you make it to the City soon and hopefully, I will as well!!

 

 

Saturday
Aug042012

Airline Miles

It's a good thing that I participate in frequent flyer programs on various airlines because I sure am racking up the points. I've been in NYC recently (as always, loved it!) and am now in Lima, Peru until August 20th. I will have all kinds of pictures to post and places to talk about. MB is coming down here on Thursday, so we plan to explore for a few days. Look for a very long post upon my return to the US. Until then...

 

p.s. here's a picture from my hotel room in Peru.  Who doesn't love being right on the beach?

Click pic to see larger version