Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daughtry, Bon Jovi, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban: Worth the Tinnitus

I have a new addition to the list of songs that, when heard live by the original artists whose genius spawned them, brought me to tears.

1. One Sweet World - Dave Matthews Band
2. Dream On - Aerosmith
3. Livin on a Prayer - Bon Jovi

I spent this weekend going from one rock concert to another. The Daughtry/Bon Jovi show in Nashville was simply amazing. Daughtry was hot, and he needs more songs for me to learn and love. I wondered why the venue did not have his beautiful face on the jumbotron? We were puzzled. Bon Jovi was so high-energy, that Rose and I got tired just watching him. I was a little worried he would focus too much on new stuff and neglect his loyal old fans like myself, but he delivered. He played my favorite classics. I didn't realize I liked "Bad Medicine" so much. I will seek to attend his concert again. You seriously have not lived until you've heard Bon Jovi songs, played by Bon Jovi, live.

Now for Carrie and Keith, we have a similar quality of music, but a different experience. Let's focus on the positive first. They both rocked. Carrie has greatly improved her stage presence since American Idol and I seriously thought for a second that she was Stevie Nicks on stage with Mr. Urban when he played "Stop Dragging My Heart Around." Kudos to the girl for doing a Stevie song justice. Keith Urban is an unbelievably talented guitarist who was almost upstaged by a teenage girl from Hazard who he brought up on stage. It was one of the many times that night they brought down the house. I am a new Keith Urban fan. They informed us that all the cameras were around because they chose Rupp as the location for their new live DVD. I cannot wait to purchase this DVD to look for myself and relive the night. For the downside, I think I will just write an open letter sharing my feelings and letting go of the negativity instead of posting a recipe.

Dear Fellow Concert Goers to all Future Concerts that We're Both Atending,

I am certain that you are just as big of a fan of (insert band/artist name here). I am sure you work just as hard for your money as I do, and when you spend an ungodly amount on tickets to see (aforementioned band/artist), which angers you because you know how cheap they used to be but you won't complain because you LOVE live music and feel it's important to support the artists who bring you so much joy but sometimes for me I end up spending for one night of entertainment more than what I make in an entire day and I get very sad, you hope to get a good return on your investment of at least $60 for the seat, $10 to park, and $6 per beer. However, and I am speaking directly to you Sec 29 Row D seats 1 & 2, the answer is NO - I will not sit down during my favorite songs so that "everyone else can see," especially if I am not disruptively dancing like a drunken idiot (i.e. last row of floor seats, guys in jeans & button downs). If I am standing, tapping my feet the best a white girl can do, to the best of white people rock, attempting to have rhythm and sing along and have a good ol' time, I repeat, I will not sit down. Rather, YOU should get off your lazy ass and stand up. You are at a concert, not an opera. Not a play. Not a musical. Today's concerts involve standing, dancing, singing, and an attempt to relax, unwind, and let loose. Forget about the fact that you are old, and try to act young. It will make you feel young. For real!

Further, your request for me to sit down placed me in a more awkward position, as I was trying to give Rose more room to get away from her neighbor in seat 5 who reeked of cigarettes, pot, and old whiskey, wearing knee-length jean shorts and a cutoff white button down shirt, who kept trying to talk to her and was looking at her with that redneck-I'm-gon-git-my-gun-crazy look and whose nasty, unwashed, long, fried hair kept rubbing up against her. Said patron in Seat 5 did not smile, sing, or dance, save when Keith Urban played a medly of classic rock tunes which resulted in his tossing his nasty hair-head back, whistling, and head banging. This was such an ordeal that even the patrons in Row E took note, pointed and laughed. I was standing partially to give her the opportunity to get further away from skank-man. You messed up our plan.

I am glad you decided to leave two songs into Keith Urban's setlist. You missed a 2 1/2 hour tour finale, Nicole Kidman coming out with Carrie during the show among the crowd to support, the band coming out to that weird circular thing at the end of the stage which would have placed you within 100 feet of them in their hotness and talent, the beautiful & pure & acoustic "Raining on Sunday," and the last song that brought Keith Urban to tears. Yes, your leaving gave us room to get further away from Seat 5, and also allowed me greater opportunity to avoid Farty McFartster, the patron in Row C seat 3 standing directly in front of me who decided to "let loose" whenever he stood up.

In closing, please refrain from asking us to sit down during concerts. Instead, please try to behave more like the patrons at Daughtry/Bon Jovi who were in the nosebleed section with us but were just as die-hard fans as we were. The nice ladies on either side of Rose and me talked briefly (she had a wanna be singer, I had a midlife crisis bleach blonde who was not studying for her dental hygiene final that was the next day but had brought her teen boys to enjoy Bon Jovi), and sang along and danced with us. Here again, we were not drunken idiots ruining anyone's night (as we were during the Dixie Chicks show last year, sorry for the inconvenience Mr. Bald Man, for rubbing your head over and over); we were simply enjoying the music. If someone standing up at the concert is blocking your view, proper protocol dictates that you must stand as well in order to see. Just as paper smothers rock, rock dulls scissors, and scissors slice through paper, standers take sitters.

Sec 29 Row D Seats 3 & 4

Monday, April 21, 2008

Maple Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I generally like for my posts to have something creative in the title; as Cooper once told me, all good titles must have a colon. However, all my creative energies are currently going toward my CJT790 final report, and the color-coding of themes that emerge from 12 engaged women's experiences with planning weddings. Besides that, I ran outside 6 miles today, which is the longest I've ever run, ever, and I bet the run sucked out the remainder of my brain cells.

However, I made these cookies last week and I have felt the need to blog about them, mostly so I don't forget the recipe or what I did wrong. I saw Anne's recent post about Maple Strawberry Muffins, and for some reason I just had to have something with maple in it. So I found a recipe and adjusted it based on what I had in my cabinets and needed to get rid of. Here is my version of:

Maple Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oats, quick cooking
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. In small bowl, mix ingredients flour-nutmeg together with a fork; set aside. In medium to large bowl, cream together butter and sugar on low/medium speed with a hand mixer. Pour in syrup and vanilla, combine with mixer. Add in eggs one at a time. Gradually add in flour/oat mixture until just combined. On greased (or Pam-sprayed) cookie sheet, drop by tablespoon. Bake for 10 minutes, cool, and enjoy.

When I made these, there were a few things that went wrong, but still resulted in a yummy cookie. For one, the original recipe only called for 1 1/4 cups flour and 1 1/4 cups oats. I used the correct amount of flour but used about 2 cups of oats because I wanted to get rid of all the oats I had in my cabinet (I'm leaving for summer in about 2 weeks and am trying to rid the cabinets of a lot of things). I also used only one egg, per the original recipe (again). I also didn't have quite 1/2 cup of brown sugar, so I used about 1/3 cup brown sugar and filed the space remaining in my measuring cup with white sugar. And, I only had about 1/3 cup of raisins. They were still very tasty and flavorful, but they were too crumbly in my opinion. I brought the entire batch to the office in a ziploc bag, and within about 2 hours, they weren't so much cookies as they were a granola-ish trail mix. Luckily, my colleagues are usually desperate for food so no one seemed to mind. Someone even mentioned baking them longer and making a cereal out of it, which is not a terrible idea. I think that with my tweaks as noted above, they would actually work as cookies. Again, I haven't actually made them with that recipe, but it's just what I figure will work better next time. Let me know if they don't work for you.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Lady and Sons: Yay for Southern Cooking

So last week, I went to a conference in Savannah, where I not only got work done and presented some papers, but I got to spend a lot of time with Lindsey and Alexis, two of my best friends that I met at Auburn and that now teach in South Carolina. We three have similar interests that make us a dangerous trio: we're all communication folks, we're hot, we like the beach, and we love good food.

So, Savannah was definitely the place for us. We got our nerdiness on at the conference, and even came up with an idea for a panel for next year. We made a trip out to Tybee Island, and would have stayed longer had it not been so windy/cold. And, we ate, and ate, and ate some more of Savannah's wonderful cuisine. We had really nice tapas at Jazz'd Tapas Bar, good sushi somewhere I can't find on google maps right now, famous seafood at The Crab Shack on Tybee Island, and, of course, lunch at The Lady and Sons. This restaurant is what I'll focus on for this blog.

Now to actually eat at the Lady and Sons, one must plan and prepare in advance. If any of you are planning on making the trip, here's what we did that worked. The restaurant starts taking reservations for lunch and for dinner at 9:30 a.m. One cannot just show up at 9:30 and expect to get in, though. I arrived on Saturday morning at 7:45 to stand in an already forming line. Before I got in line, I ran to Panera (which is just around the corner) and got a coffee and bagel to eat while standing in line. I would advise this strategy, and would also suggest bringing a book, crossword, or sudoku to keep you busy, but I entertained myself just fine by talking to the nice guy in the Harley Davidson hat and the Michigan lady standing behind me. Lindsey came to join me after she woke up. Which brings me to another crucial suggestion: if you go "out" the night before, as we did, have a "designated diner" to stay sober enough to wake up in time to get in line at Lady and Sons by 7:45 a.m.

So, we go back to the restaurant at our reserved time with Dr. Brown (who was very generous and even treated us to lunch!). It was still chaotic outside and required me to stand really close to the poor, overworked name-takers to make sure we didn't miss our place in the cattle call. But once we walked into the restaurant, it was surprisingly calm. The atmosphere was much better than I expected, and I expected greatness! We ate at a bar table on the upper floor of the restaurant, in a quiet corner.

I don't think I can describe just how amazing the food was. I'll be honest - I thought, "a buffet? Can food really be that good if it's out on a buffet?" One bite of her spare ribs with barbecue sauce, which was the first thing I bit into, was enough to shut that little voice up. People keep asking me what I eat, and I rattle off a laundry list. I ate: fried chicken (the best I've ever, ever had, and I have some damn good fried chicken cookers in my family), creamed corn, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, turnip greens, green beans, a hoe cake (yes, a whole one, that I can tell was cooked in a cast-iron skillet and was perfectly crispy on the outside), a cheddar-garlic biscuit, and banana pudding. Dr. Brown said that the gooey butter cake was just as freaking amazing as Paula says they are on her show. To top it off, I chugged two of the best glasses of sweet tea I've ever drank. The little mint garnish was so lovely. Y'all know I am a health nut most of the time, but let me tell you: the pounds of butter and grease I consumed at that one meal was well worth the time it'd take to run it all off. And, it inspired me to fry some chicken this summer.

Back to trying to describe how good the food was: it was spectacular. It tasted like Momma Charlie's Sunday dinners. Any of you out there who have a Southern grandmother who could/can cook like Momma Charlie (my dad's mom), then your mouth is probably already watering at the thought of a big, heavy, coronary-attack-inducing meal. There is something so honest, delicious, and artistic about the home-taught, non-pretentious, generations-old-cast-iron-skillet-created meals that show up, still, every Sunday, in homes across the South. If you aren't fortunate enough to have a Southern grandmomma (or two, like me, jackpot!), your Southern grandmomma has passed away, or, God forbid, you are from "up north" and don't know quite what I'm talking about, then go ahead and book a ticket today to Savannah just to visit Lady and Sons. Eating there was truly an experience, one that will make you long for home or search out a friend from somewhere in north Alabama who has a grandmother that you can befriend in hopes of getting invited over for Sunday dinner.