Did She Really Say WOW!?

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In my first few blogs, I’ve coined a couple of phrases that all guys need to understand to follow my blog, because the concepts are critical to successfully achieving that mostly elusive title of ‘Hot!’

In my first blog, I began to shed some light on what is Hot! and what is Not!  You should know I do not have a definitive recipe to follow or a clear road to success in this regard.  Entire buildings are filled with books written by much more insightful and intelligent people than me on this subject.  Doctors, psychologists, Late Night and Afternoon TV Talk Show Hosts, university professors and men and women from every walk of life and from every corner of earth have attempted to create the definitive recipe or a specific road map, without success.  Sure some of them have shed light on the topic, but finding definitive answers that consistently work is a frustratingly elusive adventure.   Many of them reason that people, particularly women, are too complex to achieve such an understanding.

Personally, I don’t think anything definitive will ever be discovered.  The reasoning for this is very simple: every human being is different and unique.  No two are exactly alike.  Therefore, each person we choose to have a relationship with requires a customized approach to creating and maintaining the relationship we desire.   So I waste little time straining my reputedly miniature brain (that my wife claims is woefully short on neuron activity) trying to figure out all this “understanding” stuff.

What I spend my time thinking and strategizing about is how to achieve the Winning Over Women Factor, or as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs—the “WOW” Factor.  In my world, this is what really matters most—getting your lady to say ‘WOW’ to something you have accomplished or said.  I recommend you focus on this concept as well.  Why?  Because from years of real life experiences and having been married for almost 40 years, I know that all people, and particularly women, keep an invisible scorecard of WOW Points, another term I have already blogged.

WOW Points are very important.  I have observed that the more thoughtful the accomplishment is for the lady, or how meaningful and sensitive the statement is about the lady, the more enthusiastic your lady will declare the “WOW”, which then directly correlates to the number of WOW Points you will be awarded.  Assuming you can accumulate enough WOW Points, I guarantee you will rewarded with the title: “HOT!  And we all know there are special and very desirable benefits that go with this title.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well it’s not that easy.  That’s because there are two further concepts to be considered.

First off, remember I observed that all people are different and unique?  Well that translates into each person (read: the ladies in your life) requiring a different number of accumulated WOW Points before they will award you the Hot! title.  Many women will deny the existence of such a scorecard and some will even be offended by the very idea.  But you should not succumb to believe this denial or offense.  It may not be ‘points’ per se, but we all know there are days when our ladies are happier with us than other days.  This is concept in real life, every day.  I guarantee it.

Your next natural question is:  What is the number of points required by your lady to become Hot!?  Answer: That’s up to you to discover.  This is important information to acquire and it will be your most challenging homework assignment.  But I can give you a clue or two.

The first clue stems from the fact that all of us guys had mothers (well OK, maybe just most of us) at some point in our lives.  Eventually, we all discovered the number of Points it took to put her over the edge because of our not-so-good behaviors.  Now, it’s a given that Moms always think their sons are Hot! in a motherly sort of way! But once Mom was over the edge with negative WOW points, we knew life was going to change real fast, and not for the better.  Eventually, the smart guys figured out how far to push Mom before she was over the edge and remained in the safe zone as much as possible.  Some not-so-smart guys never figured it out.  That’s a tragedy I’m sure they are still playing out today.

The other clue goes back to high school.  We all knew the hard grading teachers and the easy grading teachers.  Word traveled fast and accurately.  We always hoped for the easy grading teachers because school was easier that way. Well, the same concept applies in this situation. Be thankful if you have an easy grader, and don’t abuse this blessing.  Cherish it and thank your lucky stars for this wonderful lady.   For those guys with hard grading ladies in your life, take some delight in the fact that it’s been my experience the hard graders make finally achieving the passing grade more rewarding and exciting.

The next thing to recognize is that there are Negative WOW Factors, and therefore, Negative WOW Points to contend with.  Oh! Come on guys! You know about this concept!!  We have all experienced these situations—many times.  Short of perfection, there is no way to eliminate the risk of Negative WOW Points.  For example, if you have ever heard: ‘Wow, you did that?’ or ‘How could that have happened?’ or ‘Did you really say that?’, or ‘You forgot my whatever’, you have been awarded negative WOW Points.

You guessed it–Negative WOW Points are deducted from already accumulated Positive WOW Points.  Worse yet, guys can actually accumulate net deficit situations where the number of negative WOW points exceeds the number of positive WOW points.  This is a desperate situation, calling for exceptional above-and-beyond effort, because remaining in a deficit situation for too long is just not healthy.  It’s just not!!

So, now you have the skinny on some new vocabulary we’ll be using in this blog.

Some of you out there have more experience than me on these concepts.  Please share your thoughts because we are all interested in learning new techniques to achieve the ever elusive Hot! title.

My Vegan Friend, Beer Buddy, Guacamole and Salsa

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Over the past five or six years, I’ve gotten into cycling–not just dabbling, but full-on cycling. Six years ago, I had one hardly ever used hybrid bike in the basement. Now I have five bikes. I ride a lot–nearly 100 miles a week in the summer. No doubt about it–I’m addicted to cycling!! And when I look for the source of this addiction, I point at my friend, Seth.

Seth renewed my passion for cycling while he trained me for a six-day ride from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh, PA a few years ago.  Long trip, but fun ride and I got to know Seth really well.

Seth is Vegan. He eats nothing that has eyes or a face, and he’s completely dedicated to that food philosophy. Consistent with his vegan diet, Seth drinks beer. Beer is vegan. Mind you, not just any beer–it has to be locally-brewed craft beer.

This is where my friend Tim comes in. Seth introduced me to Tim. Tim is also an avid cyclist, and all three of us frequently cycle together–with me usually riding ‘sweep’ in the rear!! Seth and Tim enjoy craft beer. Check that–they have a passion for craft beer!! I have spent countless hours in the back of a beat up old Ford van searching high and low for the best local brew in some cycling stop-over city. They even make their own home brews, and all their friends make home brews. We even get home brew status reports so we can make plans to celebrate home-brew births together (the day the beer is ready to drink after weeks or months of basement gestation).

It was hard to not catch the passion they have for good, locally-brewed craft beers. Prior to hanging out with Seth and Tim, I drank one or two beers a year, if that!! I was, and still am, a gin martini followed by red wine drinker. And I am at most, a moderate drinker. I’m usually the designated driver when I’m out with my buddies. It’s OK–it’s an important role, and someone has to do it.

While in the company of Seth and Tim, I learned that no cyclist worth their keep will finish a good, hard bike ride without first putting down some ‘recovery carbs’ by drinking a beer of two. Enjoying beer is a part of the initiation into the biking culture. (Remind me to post something on the well-attended Keg Rides we have every spring and fall in Pittsburgh.) Anyway, they introduced me to many of the Pittsburgh-based craft beer houses, and I began to enjoy tastings with them. Now I’m hooked–not addicted mind you–just hooked on finding that one great locally-brewed craft beer after a ride, or sharing a growler with a bunch of guys after a great ride.

Another one of Seth and Tim’s beliefs is that beer carbs go really, really well with food carbs. Remember, Seth is a vegan, and Tim is a sometimes vegan when he is with Seth. So, by default that makes Lou a sometimes vegan when he is hanging with Seth and Tim. I know, it’s complicated.

In any event, when Seth and Tim finish a ride at Lou’s house, I have to prepare vegan carbs for us to enjoy with our craft beers. One of my absolute favorite source of good carbs, and now Seth and Tim’s favorites, is Lou’s ‘homemade’ guacamole. The recipe is simple, fast and tastes incredibly good with store bought lime-infused tortilla chips. As you will see, I also serve the “left-over” salsa along side the guac for a nice snack combo.

No-no, I’m not trying to be Hot!! with Seth and Tim. So what’s the connection to the ladies?

Last weekend I prepared it for my wife, daughter and lady friend of the family for our mothers day cocktail hour. Guess what?! It got WOWs!! from all three of them. So guys, get some great craft beer, or a nice crisp California Sauvignon Blanc for your lady, prepare this amazingly easy guacamole, and serve it with the salsa and chips for a pre-dinner cocktail or as a Saturday afternoon snack break. Watch out!! Don’t stand too close because you are going to be too HOT! to touch!

Lou’s Hot! ‘Homemade” Guacamole and Fresh Salsa

Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 0 min | Servings: About 2 – 3 servings as a dip | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint store bought ‘fresh made’ guacamole
  • 1/2 cup store bought ‘fresh made’ or good quality salsa
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado, peeled and rough chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 – 4 tbsps fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 – 4 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. This first step is a proven short cut, which I use in my cooking as often as I can.  You should too.  Go to one of the better grocery stores in your area (Whole Foods, Trader Joes) where they make a ‘fresh made’ guacamole.  Pick up as a pint of two.  Right next to it, you’ll probably find ‘fresh made’ salsa. Buy the medium hot salsa, because you can always make it hotter later.  You’ll find them both in the cold prepared food section of the store. It’s ok if you need to buy the bottled salsa, but don’t be a cheapskate, buy the good stuff.  These store-bought guac’s and salsas are usually pretty bland tasting, but a great base to start with.

2. Also buy one or two firm-ripe avocados, some limes and a small bunch or cilantro (it a leafy herb that looks like parsley, but it’s not). You’ll have the rest of the ingredients at home. If you don’t, buy them now, because you will NEVER be Hot! if these ‘staples’ are not in your fridge or kitchen.

3. At home, empty the guacamole into a bowl. Cut the avocado(s) in half, remove the seed, and remove the avocado meat from the skin with a big serving spoon. Roughly chop the meat and add it to the bowl.

Lou’s Hot! “Homemade” Guacamole and Fresh Salsa

4. Taste the guac before you add anything. This is a KEY step. If it’s already salty, you’ll want to be careful with salt. If it’s not spicy enough, you’ll want to remember that when adding the Tabasco.

5. Next, add 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of the salsa to the bowl. More if you want or less if you like. You are in charge here!!!

6. After the next few steps are completed, erase my name and put your name in front of this recipe, because this will be your special guac from now on!!

7. Add to the bowl: the juice of half a fresh lime, a few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, a few dashes of Tabasco Sauce, some salt (careful!!) and some ground pepper.

8. Mix it up, but not too much. You want to retain the chunky texture of the guac and you don’t want it too watery.

9. Now here’s a Hot! Guy Secret: you need to constantly taste the guacamole after you add some of each of the ingredients. If it tastes lively and bright with a little kick of spice, you are good to go. If you like it with a little more heat, add more Tabasco. If you like a bit more ‘smokiness’, add more Worcestershire. Be careful about adding more salt, but if it needs more brightness, add it a little at a time. And then taste it again. Keep adding ingredients and tasting until you think it’s perfect

9. That’s it. Once it tastes good to you, it’s good to go!! Chill it for an hour or so in the fridge. Also chill the rest of salsa while you are at it.

10. Don’t serve it in the bowl you made it in. Go the extra mile because you are almost to Hot! Get out 2 nice serving bowls–preferably 2 that match or complement one another. Guys, to be Hot!! With your lady, it’s all about the details!! Trust me on this.

11. Carefully scoop the guar into the center of one bowl. Slice the other half of the lime into three wedges and arrange them on top of the guacamole. Now put the salsa into the other bowl in the same way.

12. Finally, chop up about 4 or 5 tablespoons of the cilantro. Sprinkle a little on top of the guacamole. Place the rest of it in the salsa bowl and carefully mix it in. It is amazing what this herb will do to kick both the guac and the salsa up a full 2 notches.

Get another nice bowl for the store bought tortilla chips. Serve them alongside the quac and salsa, and uncork the wine or pop the craft beer you bought.

My Final Thought for the Day

Ok so you did it!! The guac and salsa, wine or beer was a home run. You just got some Hot! Points. The fastest way to lose those points is to leave the kitchen a mess. Clean up after you have made the guac and salsa, and then clean up again when the snack is finished. I’m promising you, that little extra effort will not only preserve the points you earned with the food and beverages, but a gracious lady will award big Bonus Hot! Points for the Clean Up. Try it. I know I’m right.

Lou’s Hot! Guacamole and Salsa

What’s Up With the Flowers?

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I hope you will enjoy the bold masculine colors of my webblog site, and the simplicity of the site features for those of us technologically challenged.  But in case you haven’t already noticed, the site background is accented with images of flowers.  That’s not an mistake guys.  This background will be a not-so-subtle reminder that this blog is less about the guys (us), and more about the ladies (them) in our lives.  So if what you are thinking is that this site is about how you’ll fire up the outdoor grill, buckle your waist-belt with the long handled tongs, burger flipper and steak stabber attached to grill the foods  you love to eat, you are already straying from the road to success.

Have you not been doing the ‘grilling experience’ for years and years?  How has that worked for you?  Does she think it’s a special occassion for Her when you do this, or does she think it is more about you demonstrating your prowess over hot fires to cook the food you love?  I’m pretty sure she’s not thinking ‘special occassion’ for her.  Sure, you took a little of the workload by doing some cooking, but who shopped for the food, prepped the food for the grill, who set the table, who made the salad, who cleaned up after dinner?  Yeah guys, it probably wasn’t us, and even if you helped out and did some of those things, your lady is probably not going to think the dinner was special enough to anoint you Hot!.  Sorry, that’s just the way it is.  I’d like to hear from some of you who have experienced the reward of ‘special event’ by just doing the grilling part of the meal, and without having done the shopping, prepping, setting and cleaning part too.

Just so you know up front, I’m not much of a griller.  My wife is the griller!!  I can do it, but it’s just not one of those things that makes my wife say WOW! when I’m serving that burger or hot dog on a bun or dropping a steak onto an otherwise empty plate.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that for my wife, the grilling thing is in the category of ‘minimum expectation to keep a stall in the stable’.  But don’t be disheartened.  You will not lose those hard-earned grilling skills.  We will occassionally use the grill, but we’ll be preparing things that are guaranteed to get the Wow! factor from your lady.  Things like Mesquite Marinated Char-Grilled Boneless Chicken Breasts with Confetti Black Beans and Rice, garnished with a Minted, Fresh Tropical Fruit Salsa.  Check out the Recipe in the Menu Tab.  I know this sounds complicated and would take all day to prepare, but from start to finish, this meal can be prepared and beautifully plated in a little more than an hour.  And the presentation is not only elegant, it is to die for!!  It’s definitely a WOW! meal in my house everytime I prepare it, and I prepare it often.  (Repeat WOWs!! are good by the way.)

But, for the record, more often than not, we are going to replace your grilling tool belt with a meat thermoneter, a decent chef’s knife, a good timer, a couple of well-made pots and pans and a tried-and-true reciipe.   I’ll focus on preparations for Two–to get the romantic thing going–but most of the recipes will be easily scalable to larger numbers.

Furthermore, we are not too proud to take short cuts to make the HotCookingGuys lives easier, healthier and more fun.  For example, those black beans in the above recipe–we are going to use canned black beans, but then we are going to doctor them up with some chopped green, red and yellow peppers and a little onion to ‘make confetti’.  Sound interesting?  Stay tuned.

What’s Hot and Not…

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Hi Guys!!

Whoever said that the fastest way to a man’s heart is through the kitchen did not know women very well!  Maybe that’s the way it was 50 years ago, but it is my considered observation that today’s modern woman has evolved into substantially more than a wife (or girlfriend), mom, cook, housekeeper and laundress whose only interest is getting and keeping a guy.  And the very last thing on their agenda is mastering their cooking skills to accomplish that goal.

In fact, we are lucky to live and work among multiple generations of really smart and talented women who can succeed in a career, run a business, a family and a household, all at the same time, and usually without much support from the guys around them.  That’s scary, because we all know there are very few guys that can, or even want to effectively multi-task at that high level of performance.  And even if our ladies aren’t doing all of those things simultaneously, they will continue to find us attractive and worth keeping in their stable only if we can demonstrate above-average sensitivity to the things that are important to them, and if we occasionally do something that meaningfully validates we give a damn about and appreciate them. These are indeed special ladies, and we need to do our part to convince them that we are deserving of the title we all want: To Be Hot!!  It’s not easy.  It’s a big challenge.  But it is possible with a lot of hard work, persistence and undistracted dedication to the objective!!

Again, this is only my opinion, but In the vernacular of many women of modern genre, being considered Hot!, means much more than having good looks, a clean shave, a great car, smart clothes and a fat wallet to buy evenings on-the-town and occasional flowers.  And even if your prowess in the dark is second-to-none, we all know that it’s what happens during the daylight hours that most accurately predicts  the mood we’ll discover when the sun begins to set.  Come on guys–if you have had just a medium-term relationship with a special lady, you know this statement to be much more than speculation—it’s a fact!!  And it’s a fact of life we are unlikely to change anytime soon.

To wit, I’ve been married to the same special lady for nearly 40 years, and according to her, I still have a lot to learn about how to keep her happy and hungry for more of what I have to offer.  Furthermore, most of our friends know that I continue to be a seriously challenging project-in-process for my wife.  Fortunately, I learned very early in our relationship that cooking a breakfast, lunch or dinner will always make her day.  Furthermore, if I cook several days in a row, she’ll temporarily anoint me as HOT! for at least a day or two.  And on those dark days that include a personally delivered relationship faux pas, I discovered there was no sin my wife wouldn’t forgive me (‘forgetting’ is another matter all together to be addressed in some future blog) as long as I prepared and presented a rich, chocolaty, homemade dessert along with a special bottle of wine or uniquely prepared coffee.  And let’s make no mistake, I have created many ‘dark day’s’ in my married life, and have therefore mastered chocolate-based desserts.  It’s one of my specialties!!

Let’s be fair.  My wife tells me I have many redeeming characteristics.  I’ve been a good provider, I’m still a fun date, an adventurous traveler, and a loving, caring husband and family man.  But in my wife’s world, that’s the bare minimum to keep a stall in the stable.  Accordingly, it should not surprise you that I’ve spent the better part of my adult years learning incrementally valuable skills that will sustain and further endear her to me.

One of the things she loves about our relationship is that I have learned to cook–and I can cook quite well.  It’s not that she can’t cook, because she is a great cook. But we prefer healthy, home-cooked meals during the week, and being able to share the load of that daily family chore makes an unmistakable difference in the stability and vitality of our relationship.  And guys, like it or not, I’m pretty sure most contemporary women share that point of view.  They even talk about it regularly on the Oprah and Dr. Oz shows!!  And guys, they take those shows seriously—my wife takes notes!  No kidding!

Therefore, I have accumulated a substantial number of simple but interesting recipes that use fresh and easy to find ingredients, are fast and easy to assemble and prepare, and come out great tasting every time without a lot of fuss or mess.  Along the way, I have accidentally managed to pick up some relevant cooking skills by taking a few cooking classes, reading cookbooks, spending countless hours watching The Food Network, making a lot of mistakes, and getting good advice on the proper wines and beverages to make every dining experience special.   And I learned a little bit about how to ‘accessorize the plate’ so that the best prepared food has the look of a gourmet event.

Actually, most guys already know this little relationship secret related to cooking, but many of us guys are just not comfortable in the kitchen.  Some of us are even worried that our other guy friends will think us less a guy if we do master some of these skills.  Some of us are just plain lazy and not interested in making the small investment in time and energy it takes to become comfortable.  Ok, this blog is nto for you, but I’m giving you fair warning:  your tenure in the stable is on a short fuse!!  But if you have read this far in this first HotCookingGuys blog, I’m guessing you are on the verge of making the commitment to get Hot! in the Kitchen.  So, as the Nike commercial states: Just Do It!

I can absolutely assure you this will be fun.  There will be lots of great advice and help, there will be easy and tasty recipes that have been proven to work time-after-time, and full menus to try as you gain confidence.   I’ll share some relevant and critical cooking skills, and give you lots of ideas on how, where and when to deliver that WOW!  meal to the lady (or ladies) in your life. To that objective, I will share 40 years of stories and cooking skills with you in an easy-going, fun and funny manner, and in a success-oriented format that will give you a great shot at becoming HOT! in the Kitchen.

And for those ladies who have thought to infiltrate this little guy’s world of cooking, we are happy to have you along to enrich, validate and/or correct our thinking about how we can successfully create those special experiences for you around food, wine, ambiance and mood.  As I mentioned earlier in this blog, my wife continues to be dedicated to her ‘project-in-process’, and I am therefore almost certain she will be a regular contributor.

Welcome! To Hot Cooking Guys!!