Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kay cooks for Cindy of Signing with Cindy Fame

“Kay's cooking episode”

Kay and I are going to do a cooking show together tomorrow. If that doesn’t scare you, it should.

One reason our marriage has lasted so long is ‘cause we know not to prepare meals together. We’ve also learned not to wash the car together, but that’s a whole different thing.

There was a time much earlier in our marriage when we could cook together, but that was back when I didn’t know how to cook. Kay would have to tell me what to chop or skin or stir. Now, I know all that stuff. And, when push comes to shove – which it usually does – I think I’m the better cook.

That’s because Kay doesn’t put enough stuff in what she cooks. She doesn’t put enough butter or oil; enough sugar, salt or cinnamon; or enough chocolate chips or icing. I always put just the right amount. That’s who I am.

The person producing our cooking segment is a good friend of ours Cindy Cochran. Do you remember a show that was on PBS several years back called “Signing with Cindy”? Well, Cindy is that Cindy.

I may have watched every segment of “Signing With Cindy.” I learned to sign the entire song “Sunshine on My Shoulder.” That may not impress you, but it astonished my students back when I was teaching. -- “Mr. Hayter, do you know anything by Journey?” I’d break into “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely woooorld…” – That’s a lie, I only knew the sunshine song, and it began to grate on my classes. – “Somebody stop him! He’s killin’ us!”

I don’t know where Cindy lived when she was SWC, but right now she lives in Montgomery County, and along with a bunch of other stuff, she’s starting a cooking show project and she wants Kay and me to participate. A foolish experiment for sure, but I’m just proud she’s coming to our kitchen.

Where was I. Oh, yeah, Cindy asked Kay and me to each cook something that has a little history behind it. Something we got from a good friend or family member. We’re supposed to tell the history of the dish and then cook it in front of the camera. That part doesn’t worry me so much, but I don’t know how Kay’s gonna handle it. I do know that whatever she does, she’ll be cute doing it. She’ll likely yell at me a few times, but she’ll look cute doing it. Always does.

Kay’s going to show viewers how to prepare Penoche-coated walnuts. It got it’s name from the Disney character Penocheo. Can you see how much I’m going to add to Kay’s cooking segment? I’m going to help her prepare stuff while acting like I know nothing about cooking. I’ll be acting my buns off, ‘cause you know how much I know. A little test for you. Who’s the better cook? Just checking. -- And, yes, Irma. I know. Who’s on first. Cute.

After Kay’s walnut coating fiasco, I’m going to prepare Uncle Ray’s beans, a dish ripe with history… and beans. Lots of beans. By the way some of you may remember that Uncle Ray was Kay’s dad. My father-in-law.

I called him Uncle Ray as a joke once. It was a joke that took root. One of the greatest guys I’ve ever known. Wish you could’ve known him. While that’s no longer possible, you will get to know his beans. They’re quick, they’re easy and they were created at a roadside park in Utah. That’s part of the history.

If you wish to see Cindy’s family recipes show -- and who wouldn’t – you can locate it on If it’s not there now, be patient. Cindy probably had to do more editing than she had planned. I could see that happening.

Click on Kay to see show


Click on photo below to see Brad and Mark's review of Chuy's.

And, you can reach Mark at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Somebody's messin' with me.

“Return of the spoon”

    Something around this house is messing with me and I want it to stop. Are you hearing me?

    Half the time I’m walking around with one houseshoe on ‘cause somebody… or someTHING stole the other. Reading glasses mysteriously leave the room I’m in and go to where I’m not. And, the remote? Do I look like a guy who would toss the remote control behind the couch? Who does that?

    The latest wonderment is the real bat buster. A good while back Kay bought a set of four spoons. There were other eating implements in the box, but I only cared about the spoons. They were perfect, Jerry. 

    The part that goes in your mouth was rounded, not pointy. I like that. A pointy spoon makes the milk dribble down the side of your mouth when you’re eating cereal. Newton proved that even before spoons were invented. Did people listen?

    The new spoons were the perfect size, too. Oh, the set included larger mouthed spoons, but I couldn’t handle ‘em. The smaller ones were perfect. And, they’ve got long stems, good for stirring coffee in my tall, narrow coffee cup with the state-of-the-art lid.

    So the four spoons became my friends. Kay intended to get some more, but the Big Lots people never found another set in the dropped crates down at the docks. Apparently.

I treasured my four spoons for, oh, a couple of years when one of them went missing. You might think the dishwasher ate it, but I stopped using the dishwasher. When you have only four favorite spoons, one favorite cereal bowl, the perfect spatula and my futuristic coffee cup, well, you can’t have ‘em sittin’ in a dishwasher waiting for a full load. Know what I mean, Vern?

So, I was down to three favorite spoons. If one more went missing, there’d be a pattern. I was scared. I took an entire Saturday looking for the missing/stolen spoon. Oh, I took a break to take Kay to see “Sleepless in Seattle.” They only meet in the last five minutes? Give me a break.

Anyway, no luck. I even looked behind the stove. When is the last time you pulled your stove out? It’s scary. I found a tennis ball, Kay’s catcher’s mitt, Big Al’s hairbrush and one of Jimmy Hoffa’s socks. Looked about his size. No spoon.

I had to give up. I’ve been nursing the remaining three spoons for years now. During commercials I’ll even run to the drawer and check up on ‘em.

Well, this morning something freaky happened. As I was arranging a fisted-bundle of silverware into the drawer, I chunked in all the forks and knives and the pointy spoons and then I put four special spoons into the appropriate slot. Did you catch that? FOUR. The prodigal spoon had returned.

“Where have you been?” I asked. It wasn’t talkin’.  I ran to find Kay. “Kay, the spoon is back!” You know what she said? She said, “Oh, good.”

Oh, good? A missing cat would get more of a welcome. So, I ran to the kitchen and prepared my cocktail mix of Oatmeal Crisp, Wheat Chex and Nutty Nuggets, and I grabbed hold of my prodigal spoon. I had to take a bite with each of the four, ‘cause I wasn’t sure which one was the missing one. I should’ve labeled ‘em.

I’m still left with the why, what and where” of the spoon. The “how” would be good to know, too. I’ve got the “when” down. This morning.

Yep, either I’m goin’ nuts or something is messing with me. I’m pretty sure I’m not nuts. Would a crazy person continue to wear one houseshoe so he doesn’t have to look for it when the other one appears? Or, would he protect his favorite spoons by hiding them inside an empty box of Wheat Chex? I think not.


To view Brad and Mark’s review of Wang's Asian Fusion Restaurant, click on pic below.

You can reach Mark at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Babysitting the Shaner

"Birds, bubbles and Shane"

ROOFTOP – I think we may be rushing this autumn thing a bit. It’s still too hot to be up here. We’re looking at 84 degrees with a hot breeze. And, if that’s not a line in a Country Western song, it oughtta be.

I’m just surprised you followed me up here. Figured you for more sense. Loyal, that’s what you are. Loyal with a touch of odd.

At least you didn’t bring coffee with you. Can you believe this? This is my second cup of the morning. Sweating like a Lebanese sumo wrestler, and drinking coffee. Jill has been trying to get me interested in iced coffee. It makes no sense to me. If coffee were meant to be consumed cold, they would have called it Java-ade.

I thought we’d face the front yard this morning. Hope you don’t mind. It was a little shadier on this portion of the roof. The big oak will likely obscure us from any passing motorists. Let’s hope.

Speaking of all the birds, someone told me the other day that hummingbirds will eventually settle down and share the feeder. I can’t see hummingbirds sharing anything. One will sit down and just dare another to sit on one of the three vacant stoops. Chases off anything that attempts to hover. I just wanna slap ‘em.

When the oriole wants to visit, the hummingbirds don’t pester it. I’m fairly sure it’s from Maryland. I thought it odd the first time I saw the bird balance on the tiny hummingbird feeder. I seldom see any orioles around here. I had no idea they liked sugar water. We’ve got the birdbath down there, but they occasionally like to hit the sweet stuff. Reminds me of me.

Oh, and speaking of Kay reminds me that we had to baby sit Virginia and Freeman’s great grandson last week. Shane is, what… almost a year old? He can’t walk, he’s not crazy about crawling, but he likes to bounce. When you stand him up, he bounces like Tigger on speed.

If you lay him on his back, he kicks and punches the air like he wants to bounce in space. It’s best not to try to tummy-gum an air-bouncer. Look at my nose. I think he broke it. Strange lad. Grins and giggles like a Ukrainian drunk. (I don’t know where that came from.)

Other than the facial breakage threat, the other aggravating thing about the kid is that he doesn’t like to nap even when he’s half asleep. And, he always likes to be with someone. He even enjoys MY company. What an idiot. But, he much prefers his Aunt Kay. She threw a blanket in the backyard, put Shane down on it and started playing with one of her many bubble making mixtures. Kay’s pretty much a bubble freak. I had no idea when I married her.

So, she blew bubbles at Shane and the kid would giggle and try to focus on one while dozens of ‘em were popping on his noggin. Kids are just nuts.

I don’t care to spread this around, but I halfway enjoyed Shane’s stay. The first couple of hours anyway. And, I do think it was a little too hot for me to be outside with him. Fortunately, Kay put some water in a spray bottle and sprayed us with it. I think I giggled as much as the kid did. I even started bouncing.

I wish I had thought to bring the spray bottle to the roof. I’m melting. Just look at me. Tell you what, let’s get off this metal furnace, get in the house, lose the coffee and hit the Dr Pepper. The ol’ sugar water. I think I’ve got some oriole in me.

Oh, and watch your step, people. When it gets cooler we’re gonna want to do this again. So, if you fall and break something, I’m sure not hauling your rear up here next time. Loyalty counts for just so much.


Watch Brad and Mark’s latest restaurant review clicking on photo below.

 You can reach Mark at

Monday, October 3, 2011

36 days until completion

Dad and Mom on left. Uncle A.B. and Aunt Bertha on right

“Favorite age”

    How old would you like to be? Would you care to go back to the puberty? Was that a lot of fun for you? How about the mid-twenties? How would that work?

    That’s what Brad asked me the other day. Brad is the local restaurant critic and reporter. Brad Meyer? Big guy? Mean? By the way, I want to thank those of you who commented on Facebook and by e-mail asking Brad to be nicer to me. It didn’t help a bit, but I appreciate the support.

    Anyway, I was driving us back from our latest restaurant experience when Brad asked what age I wanted to be. His question made me think about how much time I spend with the guy. Next to Kay, I talk to Brad Meyer more than anybody else in the realm of Mark. That just scares the willies out of me.

    The Plilers don’t have as much time for us anymore, ‘cause they’re with grandkids. You can never really assess the true value of one’s friendship until they have grandkids. I think William James said that. Or William Tell. One of the Williams.

    Point is, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Brad. Way too much time. Fortunately, he seldom says anything to me that requires a great deal of thought. So, you can see why I was genuinely surprised when he asked what my favorite age would be.

    Unfortunately, I spent too long thinking of my response. A nanosecond after asking the question, Brad started telling me his favorite age. Seems like it was 27. I wasn’t listening all that much. 

    Instead, I started thinking about my current age. It’s been on my mind quite a bit since my last birthday.. My 23rd, 33rd, 53rd and 62nd birthdays hit me hard. When I was a kid I thought that at the age of 23 I’d have everything figured out. I’d be smart, wise and on top of stuff. Instead, I was as confused as ever.

    At 33 I realized I had to get a move on, ‘cause time was really running out on me. At 53, time had run out on me. And, at my last birthday, 62, I realized that in late November I’d be as old as my dad was when he died.

    Dad died one year after taking disability retirement from Crown Refinery. I think it was the happiest year of his life. He and Mom did a little traveling, went out on dates, and spent a lot of time with their kids.

     We thought Dad just had minor heart trouble, and would be with us for many more years. One day in late March, while most of my siblings were visiting Big Al and me in Conroe, we got a call from Mom telling us to come to the hospital in Pasadena. Dad was gone by the time we got there. 

    That’s what I was thinking of when Brad was telling me his favorite age to be. I never told him how old I wanted to be, but I’m still glad he asked the question. It reminded of one of my goals. It was just over 15 months ago that I began writing a book about my life with Dad. Originally, my goal was to finish it by Christmas. Last Christmas. But, my lack of writing discipline forced me to move the deadline up to late November. November 18th, to be exact. That’s the day I’ll be exactly Dad’s age when he died. I had to do some serious math.

    I’ve completed 19 chapters of the book and have about six to go. I haven’t written on it for three weeks now. I’ve gotta get busy. Thanks to Brad’s unintentional prodding, I am now going to build a fire under my rear and finish the thing.

    I guess at some point I’ll get Brad to repeat his story about his favorite age. I’m not sure if he was telling me he liked being 27, or just wanted to go back and change some stuff he did at 27. While being 27 didn’t do much for Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison , Amy Winehouse and a host of others, it was probably a real gas for Brad. Just a guess.

    By the by, you can find the work in progress by logging onto Or you can wait till November 18, and read the entire thing. Unless Brad does something to really discourage me, I plan to be finished by then. 


To view Brad and Mark’s latest review of Guadalajara Hacienda and Grill click on picture.