Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to Carve a Holiday Turkey - Two Videos

So let's see... You've read my post - What's the Best tasting Turkey?, picked out a good brand ,and cooked it to perfection. Now you're staring at this delicious masterpiece and you're here because you don't want to ruin the work-of-art by ripping it and slashing it like Freddy Krueger would.



You're in luck, I've pinched two videos from Youtube to illustrate the process. The first video is longer and more detailed. If you're in a rush, (people are waiting at the table and you've run off on a "Bathroom run") you might want to jump down to the bottom video. It's shorter. If you've got time, please enjoy them both at your leisure. Keep in mind, you can tell your guests that the turkey needs about 15 - 20 minutes for the juices to settle before carving and then you can sneak to your computer for a quick review before you're actually put on the spot.













If you're nominated to do the carving, these are my humble suggestions:



  1. Find a good place to work. Preferably away from view. That way your guests won't see you using your fingers.

  2. Invest in a really sharp knife.

  3. Keep your fingers out of the way of the blade when carving.

  4. Don't panic. Once you learn the basic strokes, the rest is fairly simple.


Happy Carving!

What's the new Currency?

Is it possible that "Perks" are becoming a new currency?



I don't suppose that "Perks" per se will ever replace the US dollar, the Euro, the Yen, or any other major currency as a trading vehicle but the folks over at trendwatching.com are predicting a growing trend of increasing value in the perk department. They've even coined a term "Perkonomics." (follow this link to see the report) I tend to agree with them and thought I'd throw this out at you. As we continue to weather this credit crunch and suffer the fall out in the economy, some tangible and intangible things will increase in value. Specifically, programs that save time or generate convenience, status, or opportunity, will demand more value in the marketplace.

For instance, look around at the thousands of programs that are available and offered to us daily. Everything from a punch card at your local coffee/ice cream shop to frequent flier miles or reward points for your credit cards. A few years ago, these solicitations reached the nuisance level in my home but as the economy continues to contract, these programs will gain momentum and more programs will evolve as merchants compete more fiercely for our business. As a consumer, I offer - now is the time to use these items. Sign up for the programs that make sense to you. Cash in your points on old programs and realize some of the benefits of good patronage. Take a weekend get away. Splurge and pamper yourself and your family. Use your points to upgrade a class in your airline travel. By all means, use them before you lose them.




From a business standpoint, now is the time to be creative and find a clever perk program to offer your customers. Keep in mind that it will become increasingly more difficult to attract new business and generate growth. As the customer holds on ever more tightly to their hard earned currency, they'll be shopping for more and more value. If you can offer them something with a unique and perceivable value, you'll win and they'll win!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's the best tasting Turkey?

Are all Turkey's created equal?

Apparently not.

I was a bit bored today. The stock market was up and I felt like a Turkey for buying during a rally so with no real drama in the world I started to surf aimlessly. Well, not quite. I was sort of looking for an answer to a question. The question was - Who makes the best tasting turkey? I figured with Thanksgiving only three days away it might be useful information.

Age old Turkey wisdom - Buy High/Sell Low!

Here's what I found. I'll keep it brief for those who want a quick answer > The heritage breeds, with names like Narragansett and Bourbon Red, are supposed to be much more flavorful. The birds have a longer growing period than commercial turkeys; as a result, they have an extra layer of fat. They also have a higher proportion of dark meat. And since they are more agile, they get more exercise than even free-range commercial birds, and so they're said to have a firmer texture and a gamier taste.

By contrast, (according to an L.A. Times article) the supermarket breed — called Broadbreasted White — suffers in comparison, heritage turkey fans say, because it's been bred to yield as much white meat as possible (hence its name). Because of all that tinkering with nature, a Broadbreasted White is so top-heavy that it can't mate; it must be artificially inseminated. This is true even for organic and free-range turkeys. And in fact, free-range Broadbreasted Whites are so unsteady on their feet that they don't "range" much at all.

Well that's the short version. Clearly there are some other issues to contend with like availability and price. Some of these birds can be quite expensive and require weeks/months to order. And for some of us the taste isn't quite that important. It may be more about the quantity and the capabilities of the chef. I know when I'm cooking or grilling, it helps to have an edge!

Here are a few more links on the subject:

  1. Best Tasting Thanksgiving Turkey
  2. Definition of a Heritage Turkey
  3. Bird Basics
  4. Pound per pound- Which turkey tastes best? see this link for the cook-off/test.

Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!

Not sure about carving? See: How to Carve a Holiday Turkey - Two Videos.

Music Monday - Teena Marie Lovergirl



Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are strictly for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reflections of a Man and a Book

Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy.......




November 22, 2008 marked the 45 Th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Today, for a few minutes, I contemplated the event and the motivation behind this horrific act. I wondered, what exactly did someone find so threatening or offensive about JFK that they felt compelled to orchestrate this act of violence?

Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the murder of John F. Kennedy and he was murdered two days later by Jack Ruby before he could be put on trial. This left the assassination shrouded in mystery. In an interesting turn of events, the House Select Committee on Assassinations declared in 1979 that there was more likely a conspiracy that included Oswald. This further muddied the waters. It's not my intent to launch you into a nest of conspiracy theories but only to highlight a man and a book ......... (many of you know me well enough to know how my curiosity works -so leave me a comment if you have any ideas on the conspiracy issue)





John F. Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage while recovering from a back injury in 1955. In this book he chronicles acts of astounding personal and political courage. This is perhaps a book that should sit on a shelf in the homes of all Americans. And in consideration of the upcoming political and economic challenges we will face in the next few years, it might be well worth the read!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Kid in a Candy Store

"You're kidding me right?"

That was my response last month when I learned there was a huge candy store named M&M World smack in the middle of Times Square.

Yes, while driving up to my hotel in New York last month we drove by this:


Neighborhood: Manhattan/Theater District
1600 Broadway(between 48th St & 49th St)
New York, NY 10019(212) 295-3850



I marveled at how this place seemed to take up the entire corner of the block and span at least three floors. I thought, "there's no way there is that much M & M junk for sale."

I was wrong again.




M & M World was filled with more M & M paraphernalia than you could ever imagine. Books, key chains, glasses, mugs, pajamas, underwear, socks, hats, jackets, Tee shirts, shot glasses, pens, pencils, doormats, plates, stationary, combs, ....... on to infinity!


Aren't these little guys/gals adorable?



Well, I wasn't to be denied. After all, I came there for the chocolate. So I found my way to the dispensers.





There were M & M's of every color and flavor. So I grabbed my bag and went to work. A little bit of these and a little bit of those. A few of these ..... and more of those.......





I was sure to load up on the peanut M&M's (my favorite) and the dark chocolate ones. I threw in a few almond M&M's and mint flavored for kicks. I tried to avoid the green ones just in case what they say about them is true.


I giggled when the lady next to me seemed to miss her bag and dribbled a barrage of M & M over the lip of the bag. They clinked and wobbled down this little grate and into a hole - disappearing from sight. I couldn't help but wonder.... "What happens to those lost M & M's?"


Do they just throw them away? Or do the employees get to eat them at night before they go home? Or maybe someone is responsible for separating them and putting them back in the dispensers for resale.... Yuck! I hope not! I quickly erased that thought from my mind.






So I gathered my purchases and bid farewell to the M &M Dudes.



I couldn't help but notice another candy store across the street. Chocolate even..... That's another day and another adventure.





For now, I'll just sit back and enjoy my M & M's. Wait a second. What would the fantastical Jane Turley do? Let me call her and get her perspective on eating chocolate..........
She referred me to this video for the true meaning of Chocolate!



Wow! You mean I could have had a Cadbury?
She really knows her chocolate!
Stay tuned for more adventures in Candy Land.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Free Stuff and Discounts!

Free stuff and discounts are always good. And as our economy slides deeper into recession and money continues to tighten - These two things will become more valuable.
So for starters, here's a free Dr. Pepper on Axl Rose!

Compliments of Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy!


Apparently, Dr Pepper promised to give a free soda to everyone in America if the Guns N' Roses dropped their "Chinese Democracy" album in 2008. Well guess what? "Chinese Democracy," infamously delayed since recording began in 1994, goes on sale Sunday.....

Tony Jacobs, Dr Pepper's vice president of marketing, said in a statement:

"The Dr Pepper's on us."


Beginning Sunday at 12:01 a.m., coupons for a free 20-ounce soda will be available for 24 hours on Dr Pepper's Web site. They'll be honored until February 28.

www.drpepper.com

Get yours and you too can sing the Dr Pepper song!

Now for the bigger discounts:

If you plan to do some online shopping this Holiday season, you owe it to yourself to check out these sites. Search for discount codes for many retailers including; Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Nike, Borders, Home Depot, Lowes, American Girl, Ralph Lauren, Dell, Express, Toys R Us, Gap, The Apple store, and many many more. You can also print coupons directly from some of these sites.

Happy Shopping.......

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Los Angeles Fires

Tomorrow I'll be leaving Australia and heading back to Los Angeles. So now, like many others, my focus shifts slightly to the fires in and around the city of LA. Thanks to all who have expressed concern and sent well-wishes. Thankfully all is well on my home front. Just a bit of ash and smoky air. Here are a few photos from the Sylmar fire. These shots were taken on the 405 freeway near the Mulholland pass. You can see the smoke billowing in the distance.











I'm told a cooling period is expected in the next few days. This should help the fire fighters a bit. The hot and dry temperatures as well as the strong winds have created volatile conditions throughout the area.

I'm amazed at how light the traffic is on the freeway!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Music Monday - Moby, Jill Scott, Blue Man Group!

I was lucky enough to catch this live at the Grammy's. It was better in person but it's still a favorite for me!









Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are strictly for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted.



Friday, November 14, 2008

Quantum Of Solace! 007 Is Back!

(Several reviews and the trailer are listed below)

Well today is the big day. Quantum Of Solace hit the big screen and opened to somewhat lukewarm reviews. That's my take at least.......


Ever since my trip to New York city I've been thinking about and waiting for the opening of Quantum Of Solace. As I was walking down Broadway, I snapped this photo of a huge billboard. Intriguing to say the least..... I loved Casino Royale and I believe that regardless of where you stand in the "Bond the Actor" debate, you would argue that Daniel Craig is a worthy candidate for James Bond 007.



Billboard promoting the New Bond Flick. Taken on Broadway in NYC.

So naturally, I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival. Today, I sifted through some of the reviews just to get a feeling for how the movie is doing. Here's what I found:

"The shortest and certainly the most action-dense Bond ever, "Quantum of Solace" plays like an extended footnote to "Casino Royale" rather than a fully realized, stand-alone movie. Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, possibly knowing they couldn't immediately top the previous pic's sheer stylishness, have radically reshuffled the series' traditional elements, but also allowed incoming director Marc Forster...................Click here for more of this review"

Another viewer writes:

"I am a die hard Bond fan and was waiting for this movie to come out since the first trailer. I was at the theater at midnight last night. However, when it was over, I was sorely disappointed. As a movie, it was not bad. The acting was good, the action scenes were exciting, and Daniel Craig was a great Bond. However, it was not a great Bond film, failing to live up to any previous franchise benchmarks................. Click here for more of this review"

Still another fan writes:
"After being somewhat disappointed with Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace delivered remarkably. I went to the midnight showing and it was worth every second. Packed with a ridiculous amount of action and wit,...............................Click here for the rest of this review"


Follow this link for more Bond Stuff

The bottom line for me = I'll be hitting the theater as soon as I can find a break in my schedule. I'm just that kind of guy. I actually go for the grittier, Jason Bournish style of Bond. As long as it's realistic and somewhat believable I'll shell out the extra bucks to catch it on the big screen. Let's hope they left out the corny and outlandish clips.



Here's a trailer:








Have you seen the movie yet? Do you want to see it? Are you a Bond fan? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Much Thanks

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day! - Free Stuff for Vets!

Edit for 2010 - All Veterans and Active Duty Military members eat free at Applebee's on November 11, 2010. Follow this link for more details: VETSEATFREE


McCormick & Schmick's Seafood is offering free Lunch or dinner to Veterans on November 7, 2010 - see more

For more offers for Veterans, follow this link to: Themilitarywallet

Edit For 2009- Applebee's is on board again:

Veterans and Active Duty members eat free - November 11, 2009


see link: http://www.applebees.com/vetsday/




Additionally,


Secretary Salazar Honors Veterans with Fee Free Day at National Parks, Refuges, and Other Interior Lands

“The Department of the Interior is honored to offer this fee free day to thank our nation’s service men and women,” said Salazar said “The sacrifices and achievements of the brave men and women of our armed forces can never be understated. We invite all of our visitors to enjoy this fee free day and take time out on this national holiday to remember our service men and women who are currently serving overseas in harms way. ”

The Department of Agriculture also is waiving entrance fees at its national forests.

see the link: Click Here

Here's a little something from corporate America to honor those who have served so proudly!




















As Veterans Day approaches, the following corporations have issued news releases and/or posted on the Internet the following special recognition benefits for veterans. Please share this information with Legionnaires in your Department -Veterans Day deals:



Golden Corral: The 2008 Military Appreciation Monday dinner will be held on Monday, November 17, 2008 from 5 pm to 9 pm in all Golden Corral Restaurants. The free "thank you" dinner is available to any person who has ever served in the United States Military. If you are a veteran, retired,currently serving, in the National Guard or Reserves, you are invited to participate in Golden Corral's Military Appreciation Monday dinner.



Lowes: Lowe's Companies, Inc. will offer all active, reserve, honorably discharged, retired military personnel and their immediate family members a 10 percent discount http://www.bigbigforums.com/ on in-store U.S.purchases made during the Veterans Day holiday. The discount is available Nov. 6 - Nov. 11. The discount is available on in-stock and special order purchases up to $5,000. To qualify, individuals must present a valid military ID or other proof of service. Excluded from the discount are sales via Lowes.com, previous sales, and purchases of services or gift cards.



Home Depot: The Home Depot(R) is offering all active duty personnel,reservists, retired military, veterans and their families a 10 percent discount off their purchases in honor of Veteran's Day. The offer is valid on purchases of up to $2,000 for a maximum of $200 between November 6 and November 12, 2008, at The Home Depot stores, The Home Depot Design Center locations, Yard birds and EXPO Design Center(R) locations.



Applebee's: Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants invite all active duty and veterans to one of 164 participating restaurants nationwide to pull up a chair for a delicious meal and heartfelt thanks this Veterans Day. With gratitude for their service and sacrifice, active duty and veterans will eat free at participating locations on Veterans Day (November 11, 2008) during regular business hours. For a list of participating Applebees restaurants,go to: http://www.applebees.com/VeteransDay.html



Veterans and active duty with proof of United States military service will be able to go to one of the participating Applebee's and select one complimentary entrĂ©e from a selection of delicious favorites: a savory House Sirloin, hearty Riblet Basket, zesty Fiesta Lime Chicken®, a juicy Quesadilla Burger or fresh Oriental Chicken Salad. All the traditional sides are included."It's an honor to host an event that helps the neighborhood come together and say thanks to our veterans and active servicemen and women," said Mike Archer, President, Applebee's Services, Inc..



Proof of military service includes: * U.S. Uniform Services Identification Card * U.S. Uniform Services Retired Identification Card * DD214 * LES * Citation or Commendation * Photograph in uniform * Veterans Organization Card.









Monday, November 10, 2008

Music Monday!

Okay, I've joined the Music Monday Crew. I'm using my prior post - Saturday Song for Monday! (Giggle)
Come join us in Music Monday and share your songs with us. Leave ONLY the actual post link here if you’re playing today. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are strictly for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted.



Saturday, November 8, 2008

One Love!

Is it getting better?

Do you feel the same?

Will it make it easier on you now?

You got someone to blame


The unmistakable Mary J. Blige featuring the incomparable Bono /(U2) ....

I Dare you to watch the entire Video!



Duets can be tough. Sometimes it's difficult to mix musical architecture and cultures. I believe they found a nice fit and beautiful merger of style and flavor with Mary J. and Bono. This is a favorite for all the right reasons - The complex lyrics! The Vocals! and The Music!


Come join us in Music Monday and share your songs with us. Leave ONLY the actual post link here if you’re playing today. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are strictly for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Free Starbucks Coffee!

Did you know that you can get free Starbucks Coffee today?

It's a big day and you'll need your caffeine. Also, you just might need something to warm you up while you stand in line. You Betcha! This is only for Election Day.

I jumped out early this morning all prepared to wait in a long line to vote. As it turns out, it wasn't bad at all. All said and done, the process was just about one hour and 10 minutes. 65 minutes for the wait and processing and 5 minutes for the actual voting and exit.

The good news is - I hit my local Starbucks on the way out for my free cup of Java. I did it more for the experience than the free bee. It was great chatting with the excited voters in line and watching the bloggers sitting around enthusiastically typing away. But the rumor is true. Today Starbucks will be giving away one tall drip coffee to voters. Presumably, it's illegal to offer incentives to influence voting or non voting so Starbucks is not supposed to ask you if you voted or not. They're just suppose to give you your free coffee. The wait was short. A long line but the workers moved quickly. It took about 5 minutes. I guess it doesn't take long to pour 1 cup of coffee and pass it out when you don't have to take money and give change.




The next rumor..... They're giving away free donuts at Krispy Kreme. Not so sure I'll get by KK today but if you do - please leave a comment.....