Anyone Can Cook

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.

Last night, I experienced something new, an extra-ordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core.

In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: ‘Anyone can cook.’ But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.” – Anton Ego, Ratatouille

The Implications of an Endorsement

More on this in a bit, I’m just capturing it here because… WOW….


Lead to this…

Texas is a red state. It has been for decades. Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation and Texas’ largest city.

The Houston Chronicle is our newspaper. It had a 44 year record of endorsing Republican candidates for president, endorsed Obama for his first term, and then reverted to endorsing Republicans when it endorsed Romney in 2012.

Today, in an extremely early endorsement, it endorsed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

This is absolutely remarkable and everyone should pay attention.

This is an endorsement by the newspaper of the city where Ted Cruz lives and where George H. W. Bush lives. It is the city where oil is definitely king. It is the last place on earth you would expect the local paper to endorse a Democrat.

The last portion of the editorial says, “…she’s the most qualified candidate in years to serve as president…The only candidate to come close is George H.W. Bush.”

Regarding Mr. Trump, it says, “To choose [Trump] is to repudiate the most basic notions of competence and capability.” It correctly accuses him of faux-populist demagoguery with contempt for the rule of law, and ignorance

I’m Sorry That I Missed It…

Time is a very cruel thing.  When you combine the ever moving beast of time with the fragility of life, add to that the parental responsibilities of providing both financial and emotional support to your family and children and you lose something very important: perception.

Tonight my daughter Emily played in a middle school band performance, her first really big performance in her new school as a flutist. This event triggered pride in my child for having the discipline to learn and play an instrument, being part of a team, and the responsibility those involve. It also triggered a thought in my head that made me realize I probably owe my daughter an apology.

With all of the responsibility of parenting and through my own natural selfish tendencies, I didn’t notice when my daughter stopped being a little girl and started to become a tweenager on her way to young adulthood. I know that there were signs of this transition, from the intermittent viewing of Disney and Nick programming with the playing of Legos and other toys.  Some point in the last 18 months, though, my kid started to not be a “child” and I didn’t see it happen. She started to become conversationally witty, and I see my and my wife’s humor being given back to us. She’s incredibly creative, and loves to make and craft things. She volunteers at the same ranch where she takes riding lessons, and she’s one of the youngest volunteers they have had because she is responsible and hard working.

I’m extremely proud of the person that Emily is becoming, and her sister has taught me that I need to stop and treasure these moments as well. If I don’t pay close attention I’ll miss when she transitions into young adult and adulthood too.

There’s a lesson in life everywhere you look, you just have to be smart enough to see it.


Father’s Day 2015: The Cinnamon Roll Test

This Father’s Day I found myself in a unique situation: I was the first one up this morning. Usually I’m the one that has to be rousted out of bed with a cattle prod on the weekends, but I had to be out late the night before so mostly everyone in the house went to bed after 2 AM. I already received the most amazing gifts on my pillow for me to find when I got home, so my wonderful wife and kids let me know how much they love and appreciate me and because my schedule threw them out of whack I figure why wake them, at least directly.

It still being an early hour I decided to step out to the grocery store to get a tasty treat for us all to start the day with. I don’t know what it is like in your household but in ours I enjoy cooking, baking, making yummy tasty food for us to eat. Because I like to cook, Father’s Day is a pretty solid choice in our house if you want to have a dinner made by some white guy with a bbq trying to pretend he’s Guy Fieri.

Once I held the tube in hand promising Grand things from a tiny baker wearing nothing but a hat and scarf name Pillsbury (seriously, we’ve been letting this androgynous little streaker tell us what’s good all these years? America, we’ve got to talk…)

Pillsbury Doughboy

I thought it would be a fun little experiment (with way too many variables to be scientific) to see, like in the commercials, if I bake these cinnamon rolls the family will smell the sweet gooey promise of love will they wake up and come downstairs?

09:04 AM PDT: The oven has beeped, letting me know it is ready to receive the non-stick pan filled with the unending promise of good things to come.

09:14 AM PDT: The air has begun to take on the scent of cinnamon and temporary lifts in our mood from the sweet blessed butter and sugar. I hear no movent yet, except for my dog Jack who is wandering around, trying to understand what’s going on.

09:24 AM PDT: You can’t possibly be in any part of the house and not smell the sweet baked goodness that is already beginning to overtake my senses as I begin to visualize pouring the white sticky frosting all over the… wait a second, this is taking on an entirely unintended tone. Let’s move on and not discuss what just happened.

09:26 AM PDT: Back on track. The rolls are almost done and I’m starting to lose all faith in the promises and dreams that the advertising world has been selling me all these years. I may have to face facts and realize that I can’t buy happiness in a box, or in this case a round tube. (Side note: I love opening a Pillsbury Roll can because it gives you a brief moment to pretend you are unraveling some secret spy tape to reveal the code that will save humanity… just me? Again, let’s move on…)

09:32 AM PDT: Reflected on how much I regretted admitting to the spy tape thing while I took the pan out of the oven because these things are done. I apply their frosting in a tasteful and respectful manner and then realize the air conditioner has been running. No one has come down because the air intake has been stealing all of the smells! That’s got to be it.

09:40 AM PDT: It’s been eight minutes, no air conditioner running, there’s got to be cinnamon, sugar and bread smell all up in the nooks and crannies of this casa. I should have known commercials were a lie since I never had as much fun as these kids had with their toys.

Where the hell is this play area they are in? Is this a mini-recreation of a part of Death Valley or some pseudo-valley somewhere? Was there ever a Dad in America that built all of these intricate play surfaces for their kids, because if there is than THAT guy is the guy we’ve all been celebrating Father’s Day for since the 80’s.

Oh yeah, still no one up.

09:55 AM PDT: No, I haven’t been watching 80’s and 90’s commercials on YouTube for the past 15 minutes… I swear. I got excited when I thought that there may be some movement upstairs, I think it was just the house settling (and when it comes to me, boy are we talking about settling). I may have to pull out the backup plan of brewing some coffee to at least peak the interest of my beloved wife. Again, this is for science folks.

10:05 AM PDT: I have brewed what may be classified as the first diabolical cup of coffee, or at least strategic coffee. As I sip said coffee I am left wondering, “What ever happened to the Honeycomb  Hideout? Did the land get re-zoned and now a drive-thru Starbucks stands where pro wrestlers and other random types would happen by to measure the size of cereal?”

Diabolical Coffee?
Diabolical Coffee?

10:10 AM PDT: I have contact from the upstairs realm. A textual message has been delivered to my mobile smart device from my marital partner. Cinnamon rolls and coffee have had nothing to do with this. Although the experiment can be considered a failure, there’s still coffee and cinnamon rolls so who cares?


This Was a Dumb Idea

There’s a  good reason that I, historically, don’t make New Year’s resolutions. It never goes well, it always leaves me with a feeling of failure, and now I’ve got several back days of entries to do. I suppose I should have said that I would write an entry for every day of the year, not every day. So that’s 365 things that I will write during this year, and this way I don’t have to be overly concerned about writing something every day.

I finally went back and read the entries of the past and did see that I did talk about traditions (a standing question for at least two posts). The thing that I neglected to mention about traditions that I’ve talked about before is that they are important to me because I know that I’m also creating memories right now. I don’t mean that in a cliche way, I know that the things we do now our children will carry with them forever. I know this because there as a time where my Dad and I had our own tradition. Saturday morning I would wake up and wait for my him to wake up as well. After giving him enough time to gather himself we would hop into the car and get donuts for the family and donut holes for me. We would get back home and I would have my little white bag of donut holes to eat while watching Saturday morning cartoons, providing my Dad with a bit more solace on his Saturday morning.

There are other things that we did as  a family that I’d like to do with my family as well, like “camping.” I put the quotation marks around it because my Dad’s idea of camping was similar to the my wife’s idea of camping, with the use of camper instead of a tent. I’m OK with camping either way, but I don’t own a camper.

Maybe I should make a resolution to go camping this summer with at least Emily. Camping can be real fun, especially in the right area. I love camping around the redwood area. The sheer magnitude of older redwood trees amazes me.

Thanks for dropping in.


Ramblings from an Absent Mind