Blooming Flowers…Blooming Hearts

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Hot! Guys, you are about to be the most popular guy of the day!! 

English: Blooming weeds Strangle weed flowers.

Blooming Flowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If some of the ladies in your life love flowers, now’s the time to read my blog!  If you follow my extremely simple instructions, I guarantee you will be awarded  substantial WOW! (Winning Over Women) Points–today, right now, not tomorrow, but at this moment!! One of my blog followers sent this to me.  Check this out boys.  Click the below link.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/27920977?title=0&%3bbyline=0&%3bportrait=0href=

Ok, so maybe it’s not your cup of tea, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a lady on earth that wouldn’t love this little video clip.  Take my word for it–send this clip to them and you are in for a great day of appreciation and attention.

Who should you send this to?  The special lady in your life can be your Mom, wife, girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, executive assistant, secretary, neighbor, friend or new or old flame.  Don’t be afraid–just send it to anyone you want.  It’ll brighten their day and brighten your status in their lives.  Guaranteed.

And if you want to get some at-a-boys, applauds and serious appreciation from your guy friends, tell them to check out this post on http://hotcookingguys.com.  Otherwise, they will be catching up to you for the next week.

It’s pathetically simple guys!  Just do ONE of the following options: Send the ladies in your life:

1.  The link to this post.

2.  The link to this blog with a note to check out the “Blooming Flowers…Blooming Hearts” post

3.  Copy and paste the following link to an email and send it to her.

Hot! Guys, if you really want to make some serious Bonus WOW! Points, send them a personalized note to them when you do one of the above tasks.  Oh! and if you brought home REAL flowers tonight as a surprise, who knows what could happen!!  It might be more than just dinner!  Yesssss!

Have some fun with this guys.  It’ll be a great day.  And I’ll bet the ladies in your life will pass this onto others who will love them for it.

Nymphaea spp. from the San Francisco Conservat...

Nymphaea from the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Killer Chocolate Bread Pudding…Love at First Taste

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Paella Festival

Paella Festival (Photo credit: elsua)

About two weeks ago, one of my friends invited us to their home for an outdoor Paella Festival. It was intended to be a mini-version of the one’s they hold in Spain, only it was held in Pittsburgh, PA.  Close enough I suppose.  We had two very different paellas, prepared by two very talented chefs: one of them a food editor for the Post Gazette, our Pittsburgh newspaper. The other chef, and host for the day, was my friend Mike, a spectacular guy and professional chef that prepares the most amazing food for private parties. I’ve worked beside him a couple of times, and I learn something magical every time. The day was a little chilly and gloomy, and it rained for a short time, but we had a nice tent to protect us from the elements, a warm campfire, a couple of portable propane-fired warmers, plenty of wine and beer and great company to share the afternoon.The paella’s were spectacular. Mike’s was a ‘Cajun style’ paella, made with his own homemade smoked andouille sausage, a deeply carmelized tomato soffrito, and sautéed shrimp added to the paella pan for the final pairing of flavors, textures and eye appeal. The other paella was of the more traditional style, prepared with a lighter, more delicate soffrito, chicken, spanish chorizo, shrimp, clams and mussels. Both were made with homemade chicken stocks and a nice big dash of saffron to authenticate the dishes. Frankly, anything made with saffron is amazingly special. Cooking the paella on outdoor fires gave us all a chance to get a flavor for the way it was prepared back in the ‘old days’. They were terrific! Here’s some pictures.

Mike’s Amazing Cajun Syle Paella

While our two chefs prepped the paella, the guests were expected to bring appetizers, salads, something to go with the main course, or a dessert.

 I had been itching to prepare a bread pudding I had been working on for almost a year. I had experimented with it quite a bit, and I thought I finally had it right. I had literally researched 10’s of recipes, read reviews, tried different ingredients and tested different combinations of flavors to cobble together a very special, uncommon bread pudding. I knew this would be a discerning group of friends–they would be honest about the bread pudding, but appreciative of the effort, even if it didn’t turn out perfect.

So Hot! Guys, let me tell you about this Bread Pudding.  If your lady loves chocolate, she is going to love you big time if you prepare this dessert.

Just so you know, I call this recipe “My Killer Chocolate Bread Pudding”.    That’s because, after My Kathy had her first bite, she stated “she would kill for it”, and proceeded to take physical possession of the remaining leftovers.  My Kathy loves, loves, loves chocolate.  I love, love, love bread pudding.  So, this recipe was created to satisfy both of our passions for a special occasion dessert.

Our Guest Chef’s Traditional Paella

Hot! Guys, read on because this is one of those recipes you will want to have in your repertoire.  I personally guarantee you will be awarded serious WOW! Points with this one, even if your main squeeze isn’t passionate about chocolate.

So what’s the big deal?  Well, it had to be special, made with high-quality ingredients that would turn out a memorable experience, not just an average experience.   As I already stated, it has chocolate—high quality chocolate.  I know very few women who won’t hug a Hot! Guy bearing chocolate!  I wanted the chocolate to be in chunks, spread throughout the dessert like pockets of diamonds waiting to be discovered.  I wanted the bread to be unexpected–a special surprise that one rarely sees in a common bread pudding.  It had to be smooth and silky, soft and pleasing–a sensual texture in the mouth.  And balanced–it had to have just the right amount of the sweetness–not overpowering in any way.  I wanted it to have layers of flavors and textures that could be individually tasted , not a glob of blended undistinguishable flavors.

It had to be souffle-like–light and airy, but rich so that just a little square would be enough to satiate her appetite without being heavy at the end of a romantic meal.  Instead, it would brighten the end of her dinner when accompanied by a glass of Extra-Dry Champagne, a Tawny Port or a hot and steamy Cappuccino.

And it had to be stupidly easy to make.  It had to have just a few great ingredients creating a complex, satisfying dessert.  So simple, that any one of my Hot! Guy followers could make it, knowing with near certainty that it would come out perfectly every time.

Just so you know, I got so many compliments on this dessert from the Paella guests, that everyone wanted the recipe and insisted I post it on the blog.  I barely got a chance to take a picture before it was gone–totally gone.  I had some leftover ingredients and made another batch the next day to give to some of my ‘at home’ friends.  The calls the next day were very encouraging.  There was obviously a lot of “killing’ going on that weekend in my neighborhood.

OK Hot! Guys, this is not an inexpensive dessert.  But, if it’s just you and your main squeeze sharing it, or just two couples, you can easily cut this recipe in half, and you’ll still have plenty leftover for the morning after.  By the way, it’s just as good cold as it is warm out of the oven.  Try it!  I’ll bet you’ll love it too!!  And let me know how many Bonus WOW! Points you were awarded for this one.  I’ll bet it’s a big number.

My Killer Chocolate Bread Pudding

Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 35 mins | Makes: About 16 servings | Difficulty:Easy

My Killer Chocolate Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 12 stale croissants, cut into bite size cubes (See Notes)
  • 12 ounces Nestle’s or Other High Quality Chocolate Chunks: Milk, Semi-sweet, Dark or a mix
  • 7 cups heavy cream
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 9 eggs
  • 3 tbsp vanilla
  • Zest of one orange (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°.  Place oven rack in middle of the oven.

2. Layer croissants and chocolate chunks into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Two layers should do it.  Just make sure you have some of the chocolate chunks on the top layer so it’ll melt all the way down to the bottom of the pan.

3. Mix cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla in bowl and pour over the top of croissant layers.

4. Bake for 35 minutes or just a little more until top lightly browns and the texture is souffle-like. Careful to not let top burn.

5. Remove from oven, let cool to warm and serve with ice cream, whipped cream or just by itself.

Notes:

A. This can be easily scaled to a smaller or larger quantity.

B. Instead of croissants you can use stale French baguettes as well as challah bread, or my favorite is to use 1/2 croissants and 1/2 challah.

C. I added some golden raisins to one of the batches.  Not too many, but they added a nice layer of flavor and texture.

Source: Lou’s Hot! Guys Collection

Odd Couples, Watermelon and Chili Oil

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For those of us old enough to remember the movie or TV series called the “Odd Couple“, you know the plot was all about the ups and downs of two recently divorced and very different guys living together in a smallish New York City apartment.  Felix was the worrying, fussy, conservative, martini drinking type, while Oscar was the care-free, sloppy, live in the moment, beer slugging type.   Audiences were entertained by how they managed to stay friends despite their many differences.

After the movie became a huge success, the popular TV series took the oddities of their daily relationship struggles to the next level, entertaining fans for years.  In the end, the stories about their lives together always made us laugh, because people can be fascinated by how odd couples, unusual matches, opposite personalities, or widely disparate cultures can find ways to work things out.  The series was not the most intellectually challenging, certainly nothing too complicated, but there was always a life lesson in each episode.

The truth is that opposites are attractive to us because it’s fun to get to know someone who isn’t like you.   The fact is that each of us are affected by the people around us.  Some of them teach us things.  Some of them bring out the worst in us.  Some of them bring out the best in us.  Some of them just accept us for who we are.  I submit there is value in every relationship because each one forces us to constantly test where we are in our personal evolution.  Sometimes we make dramatic changes because of the impact others have on us.  At other times we make imperceptible changes in our perspectives, attitudes and behaviours because people with different points of view, philosophies and mannerisms make us more aware of the impact we have on those around us as well.

I honestly believe life is more interesting when it is less predictable–when we are open to adventure and exploration with the people around us and with ourselves.  We love it when something surprises us.  For example, is there any guy out there that isn’t thrilled when our ladies show up for date-night in a new dress or with a new piece of jewelry?  And Guys, I’m pretty sure our ladies love it when we surprise them with something unexpected–like flowers on a day other than their birthday, your anniversary or on valentine’s day.  (Hot! Guys–do it now!!  Call the Florist!!  Order flowers ‘Just Because She Makes Everyday a Special Day Because She is in Your Life’.  Use your words, but do it!!  There’s some serious WOW! Points right there. I guarantee it.)

I think it’s hard for another person to be your soul mate if they always think like you, live like you, love the same things you do or play like you.  I agree that as a relationship progresses we discover many things we have in common, but we also discover more things we have in contrast.  There are some who may disagree, but I believe relationships last longer and remain vibrantly sustainable when there is always something new to discover about your commonalities and differences.  In the end, it’s good to know you aren’t like everyone else out there, and that someone loves you because of your differences.  That’s a pretty powerful validation of who you are and who you will likely become, and good reason to celebrate the differences you and your soul mate have.

watermelon

S&B La-Yu chili oil - Momotaro Rahmen

Get Chili Oil in Asian Food Stores or at Whole Foods Store

So what does Watermelon and Chili Oil have to do with all this?  Well, let me ask this:  would you have ever guessed watermelon and chili oil could ever be companions in a salad?  No, me either.  But this Odd Combination is not only compatible, they do a fantastic dance together in a salad with Arugula, Pistachios and Goat Cheese!

A couple of weekends ago, we had this salad at a neighbor’s home.  We were shocked by how good it was.  We tasted the cool sweetness of the watermelon followed by the peppery arugula and then this slight spark of heat from the chili oil in the back of the mouth.  It was not spicy it was just an amazing experience.  While our neighbor didn’t have a recipe, per se, she told us the general ingredients.  I spent yesterday experimenting with the recipe, and last night we served it to 11 dinner guests in our home.  Virtually EVERYONE raved about Kathy’s meatloaf and the Watermelon, Arugula and Chili Oil Salad.  To a person, everyone asked if I would blog it so they could make it while watermelon was still in season.

Guys, this is one of those recipes that couldn’t be simpler.  I know you can cut up watermelon?  Can you pull Arugula out of the bag and put it in a bowl?  Can you buy some toasted pistachios or pine nuts and add them in?  Can you squeeze a lemon and add some chili oil?  I’m pretty sure you can find goat cheese at the store and crumble it on top.  Guys, that’s it.  Couldn’t be simpler.  I guarantee this salad will surprise and delight her.  She will have discovered something about your cooking skills that will make you an interesting person.  Serve it with a chilled New Zealand Marlborough County Sauvignon Blanc or a crisp Pinot Grigio and you have an incredible luncheon salad or a side salad for burgers or beef off the grill.  There’s major WOW! Points for this one too.

Make it a double play!  Buy her some unexpected flowers and make her this unexpected salad combination.  That’s serious WOW! Points in the bank!  Good luck.

 

Watermelon, Arugula, and Chili Oil Salad

 

Prep Time: 15 mins | Makes: 4 | Difficulty: Easy

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 4 cups watermelon, seeded and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes

    Looks Great! Tastes Fantastic!

  • 2 cups arugula or watercress
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tbsp chili oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios (toasted)
  • 1/3 cup ricotta salata, goat or feta cheese, crumbled
  • fleur de sel (optional)

 

Directions:

 

1. Whisk together lemon juice, chili oil and salt in a large bowl, whisking until well mixed.

 

2. Add watermelon to bowl and mix well.

 

3. Let watermelon marinate (macerate) in the dressing in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Taste the watermelon. The sweetness of the watermelon should be followed by the subtle heat from the chili oil at the back of the tongue. Add more chili oil if desired, to taste.

 

4. Just before serving, add the arugula or watercress and nuts and toss to coat well. Then sprinkle with cheese and fleur de sel (if using).

 

Source: Lou’s Hot! Guys Collection
Sent from Paprika Recipe Manager

 

Helpful to Hot!

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Hey Guys,

One of the bloggers following my blog is pretty cool.  I’ve checked them out, and I came across a great idea to help get you Hot! Guy status this weekend.  They have an incredible idea for us guys to be helpful in an amazing way.

Costume jewelry of Constance of Austria.

Costume jewelry of Constance of Austria–Even she needs a Hot! Guys Help this Weekend!

Guys, under the category entitled, “if you can’t be Hot!, you should at least be handy”, I have never known a lady who has complete control over her mountains of costume jewelry and other clothing accessories.  My Kathy and I were just having this discussion the other day, and she asked me to come up with ideas on possible solutions for the problem.  Well, I’m no genius, but I know how to rely on my friends in the blogging network to give a hand, and sure enough I found some terrific ideas in Tresors De Luxe, Keeping it Organized, Minimizing the [@#$%!#*!], post of July 3, 2012.  Take a look at this hyperlink:  http://tresorsdeluxe.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/keeping-it-organized-minimizing-the/#comment-832.  Check it out!!

I promise you will be in Rock Star status if you bring her to this Tresors post, and enthusiastically (a key work here Guys) ask if she would like your help this weekend to get her favorite idea completed.  Even if she says “No Thanks”, I guarantee you just earned serious WOW! Points for the thoughtfulness and the initiative.  Take my word for it. 

Most of the stuff you’ll need for these projects can be found in Home Depot, Lowes, Michael’s, or any local hardware store.  Go for it and let me know how it goes.  Oh, and if you are the groom for this beautiful bride, you better get started now on ALL of Tresors projects.  You may need a couple each!

English: Aesan Gede is traditional wedding cos...

Aesan Gede is traditional wedding costumes of Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia.   This lady is going to need ALL the Projects in Tresors blog.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Moving Sale–Guy Stuff” or Chicken Piccata!

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English: A "man cave" housing vintag...

A really cool “Man Cave’, but is it Moving?

Well I’m back from Alaska.  I hope you enjoyed the Cycling Alaska Posts from 4000 miles away.  It was an amazing experience, and I can now check off one of the things on my bucket list.

An Interesting? Threatening? Concept

I’m sharing one last picture of a road sign we passed while in Alaska.  I’ve seen many moving sales signs in the past, but not a one specifically indicating ‘guy stuff’.  That caused our riding group to speculate on what might be prompting such a unique sale.  After 250 miles of riding together, we were desperate for new discussion material.

One of the guys suggested they were selling their stuff in phases, and since ‘guy stuff’ was usually under foot, it was the easiest to sell first.  Ok that works.  Another is that his wife was unreasonably demanding he remove his guy stuff from the living room, garage or man-cave, otherwise HE was going to be moving.  Certainly a possibility.  And there was no downside to cooperating with his wife’s demands because he secretly knows guys don’t buy other guys stuff .  That’s one of the basic guy rules we learn when we are about 10.

Another offers the guy ran out of wall room for all the moose and bear heads, and he was selling some of the ‘older’ heads to make room for ‘newer’ heads.  So he was just ‘moving things around’, not really moving.  That one got a lot of traction, because every guy has done that.  It’s basic guy behaviour.  Another suggested it might be a guy with a new girlfriend hoping to convince her to move in, and he’s making an effort to self-police his place to impress and make room for his new roommate.  No one took that one very seriously.   Real guys don’t self-police themselves.  Us guys were having some fun with this speculation, when our lone woman riding companion told us we weren’t even close!

She said the sign was too well-printed to be the handiwork of a man.  Therefore, she concluded that sign was prepared by a woman.  She had a point there.  She then went on.  Assuming the sign is the work of a woman, then there are only a few possible situations.  Most probably, the lady of the house has already ‘moved out’ the man of the house, and she is disposing of his “guy stuff” in the quickest and most profitable way possible.  Why burn it when you can get a few bucks for a wasted couple of relationship years? 

The other possibility is she has threatened to put his head on the living room wall next to the moose and bear heads if he didn’t do something about his stuff –NOW!  Did I mention in my Cycling Alaska posts that everyone has rifles in Alaska, including the women?   This one sounded plausible too, because in this case the guy is ‘moving’ from the living room chair to the living room wall.  Therefore, the sign was painted by the lady while the guy collected his stuff and put it outside for the sale.  The rifle was loaded and standing ready if he delayed one more moment.  Us riding guys bought this one too because we have occasionally experienced this attitudinal shift in our lovely ladies at home.  It’s usually not a pleasant time in our lives.  And usually the word ‘moving’ enters the discussion often and that word can have many meanings.

It also occurred to us that the guy might be moving into his girlfriend’s place, and she said, “come alone, and with one suitcase” because she had previously seen his ‘guy stuff’.  That’s a real possibility. 

After a few nervous laughs among us guys, we agreed the poor soul was in trouble.  I suggested we help him out.  We should go back and give him the blog site address for HotCookingGuys.  It would be a long shot, but he might be able to recover the gun if he cooked her a great dinner.  Nice thought, but we were too far down the road by then.  Furthermore, our lady rider suggested we might actually get ourselves shot trying to help this guy out!  Apparently, one of the rules 10-year-old girls learn is that when pissed off at one guy, you are allowed to treat all other guys the same way until you are over it.  Yep, we had seen that rule in play before.  Let’s keep riding. 

Now, had I had the chance to talk with this fellow, I’d have to assume he’s not the smartest guy in the world to get himself into this corner.  So I’d offer up one of the fastest, easiest, simply elegant and delicious dishes I have in the Hot! Guys Collection, because as we already acknowledged, there may not be a lot of time or room for error here.

Here it is–Chicken Piccata.  Guys this is always a favorite of the ladies, and trust me, it is pathetically easy.  Yet, it’s one of those dishes most people only order in restaurants.  I have personally used this recipe for ‘recovery’ situations with my Kathy, and it works almost every time.  Yeah, sometimes nothing works.  Serve it with a nice bright-colored salad and some fresh green beans, and maybe you can recover one or two of your most favorite guy things from the yard sale!  Give this one a shot guys because it’s Hot!

Chicken Piccata

 Prep Time: 15 min | Cook Time: 25 min | Servings: 4 servings | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half (have the butcher do this for you)
  • Sea or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine (dry preferred)
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, choppedChicken Piccata. http://pdphoto.org

Directions:

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.

2. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

3. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil.

4. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Keep warm.

5. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides as in 4. above. Remove pan from heat and remove chicken to the plate.

6. Into the pan add the lemon juice, wine, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor.

7. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter.

8. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Notes:

A. The wine, lemon and stock quantities are a good balance for this recipe. If you do not have wine or prefer not to use it, replace it with a bit more lemon and more stock.

B. Excellent recipe and very easy.

C. RH

Source: Lou’s Hot! Guys Collection
Sent from Paprika Recipe Manager

“What Comes From the Heart, Goes to the Heart”

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Heart-shaped cloud

What Comes From The Heart, Goes To The Heart“.  This is one of my favorite quotes.  It comes from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, an mid-18th century English poet, romantic and literary philosopher.

In nine simple words it conveys how our best relationships will be touched by a circular connection that is at once intangibly romantic and simultaneously grounded by a positive attitude about how the relationship should be respected, understood, and governed.   It signals there is something special and compassionate between and among the people in a relationship, because it explicitly implies those in the relationship have agreed they are better off together and in the relationship, than they would be apart from it. 

It’s amazing how such a short phrase can so clearly message how we should behave and act towards each other to protect, nurture and grow a relationship.

Here’s a personal story that exemplifies “what comes from the heart, goes to the heart”. 

Garlicky Stuffed Bluefish Drenched In White Wine.

When my daughter was about 7 and my son about 5, we lived in Westport, CT where bluefish was inexpensive and available all year-long.  My kids have never been fussy eaters and they loved bluefish, even though it’s a dark, oily, ‘fishy’ tasting fish.  While Kathy normally prepared it, I volunteered to do it this one night because she had been busy with the kids that day.

Westport

At the time, I was still a rookie cook learning the boundaries of reasonable variation from a recipe.   I   remember thinking that if 2 cloves of garlic were good in the recipe, 6 cloves would be even better.  I love garlic.  I also substituted white wine for the fish stock to moisten the stuffing.  I assumed this  variation would ‘cut’ the oil in the fish, making it sweeter and less fishy tasting.  Funny how at the time those sounded like such great ideas, yet today I would think they were about the dumbest ideas ever. 

When the fish came out of the oven, I opened the packet.  I remember thinking it smelled a little more garlicky than I had expected, but it looked great and the fish was cooked perfectly.  I placed a portion of the fish and vegetables on four plates, called everyone to the table and proudly served our favorite family dinner.  I remember wondering if anyone would notice the strong aroma of garlic in the kitchen.

Kathy came into the kitchen and immediately turned the exhaust fan on.  That was the first sign of a problem. 

We all sat down and began to eat.  When I took my first taste, I was immediately disappointed because it was nowhere near as good as Kathy’s.  The stuffing was soggy, reeked of raw garlic, and the wine had overpowered the entire dish.  All I could taste was the acidity in the wine and a double kick of rawness from the garlic.  Of course, I was too proud to admit we had a disaster on the table [remember, I’m Italian], and assumed the peanut gallery would start chirping at any moment.  Bewildering as it was, Kathy and the kids were quietly eating what had to be the worst thing ever served in our home.  But I caught Kathy nodding her head a couple of times to the kids, as if saying:  “Don’t say anything!  Not a word.”

Kathy knew how sensitive I was about my evolving cooking skills, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t want this total failure to discourage me.  She also knew I had prepared the fish “from the heart” because I was trying to give her a break that day.  So she was simultaneously suffering through the meal, and silently managing the kids reaction to this awful meal, mainly to protect me from embarrassment and heckling from the kids. 

I knew something was ‘fishy’ (pun intended) when Kathy and my daughter began having a discussion about school, which was not in session at the time.  I was just about to admit failure and suggest it wasn’t too late to call in Chinese, when all of a sudden, my innocent and totally honest 5-year-old son blurted out, “Mom, I think Daddy’s fish is not feeling good.  Should we take it to the hospital?” 

Well, that unleashed the dog from the chain, and all of us began laughing uncontrollably.  And the comments began fly.  “Dad, this is the worst fish we’ve ever had!  This stuffing is awful.  What did you do?” came from my daughter.  My son was sticking to his assessment that the fish was sick and needed a doctor, which made us laugh all the more!  Apparently, Kathy’s silent management of my son hadn’t worked so well, and his ‘from the heart’ innocence had called me out as only a 5-year-old can.  And of course he was right, the fish needed emergency transport to the garbage disposal. 

Anyway, we ended up having breakfast for dinner that night—cereal, fruit and milk.  And we laughed and joked about Daddy’s cooking disaster and my son’s hospital comment at every meal that week.   To this day, when one of my cooking efforts goes sideways, the family always tells me nothing will ever be as bad as that Garlicky Stuffed Bluefish Drenched in White Wine back in Westport, CT.   And my son asks if we should call the hospital.  Some quotes never go away in a family.

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember apologizing to Kathy and the kids for the spoiled fish dinner, and promised to make it up to them the next weekend.  I’ll never forget what Kathy said: “Honey, I loved your fish tonight because it came from your heart, and anything coming from your heart tastes good to me.”  Nevertheless, I was crestfallen by the colossal failure of my attempt to cook our family’s favorite dinner. 

Later that night, I made my rounds to say good night to the kids.  They had obviously talked with their mother before going to their rooms.  When I reached down to kiss them, they both wrapped their little arms around my neck and told me my cooking wasn’t perfect yet, but I was already a perfect Dad.  And they made me promise to be careful with the garlic and wine in the future!! 

As I’ve grown older, I’ve thought about that night many times. Life is full of imperfectly executed recipes because people are not perfect.  I’ve messed up several dinners over the years, and as a human being, I have several flaws just like everyone else. But what I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults – and choosing to celebrate our differences and flaws—is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

In the context of this blog, you may assume I am trying to set a good example for you.  Therefore, I will urge you to say and do only things that are intended to  cause a positive and compassionate reaction from the people around you.   I will try to not suggest acts that could be interpreted as emanating from self -interest or hurtful sentiments.  I will also assume you will be all about creating the confidence that you will consistently behave that way as often as possible.  I will not be perfect in any of this, but I will try hard to achieve improvement on the journey.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

What comes from the heart, goes to the heart”.   What this quote says most to me is that no matter what you do or say, the special lady in your life will gracefully forgive your mistakes and miscues as long as they come from your heart, with an intention to please and from a caring attitude.  If you can remember this quote and live it, I guarantee you will have a long-lasting, loving, caring and respectful relationship with a soul mate that thinks you are her ONLY Hot! Guy.

Repulse Insects, Maybe Deer…Get Hot!

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Kathy’s Front Garden Sitting Area

Ok Hot! Guys, this is a new twist on helpful recipes.  Take note because you could win some major WOW! Points on this one.  But act quick while there is still the chance, because it will evaporate before you know it.What am I talking about?

Most women, including the ones in our lives, love to see things grow.  And high on the list of things they like to grow is plants–flowering, green or vegetable.  Anything with a root will do.  It’s what many women like to do in their spare time because it kind of proves to themselves and others they can properly care about, care for and nurture things from birth to maturity.  They also love beautiful blooms, healthy vegetables and tall statues of green leaves attached to brown branches.  That’s why gifts of flowers can repair some of the minor faux pas we Guys occasionally commit.

My Kathy is very big on this pastime.  She takes it seriously, devotes real time to her passion for growing things, and is even a Master Gardener so she has the right level of knowledge to do it well.  To wit, the pictures in this post are from her garden just this week. 

If your lady is one of these garden growing types, this is where you, Hot! Guy, have a chance to be a rock star for her.  And win very serious WOW! Points in the process. 

I have never been among a group of women discussing their gardens, when I haven’t witnessed the anger and frustration they experience with Insects, Deer, Rabbits, Chipmunks, Squirrels, Ground Hogs, Possum and other vermin eating their precious, well-cared for flowers, plants, vegetables and herbs.  These insects and animals always seem to know exactly when her flowers are ready to make their spectacular show of bloom.  At that point, they all send invitations for a dinner party in our ladies back yard.  Then an assortment of insects and vermin who have not visited the yard for months, show up for the after dark feast of flowers and greens.  I’m told they quite enjoy their expensive salads.  If you are dating or married to one of these gardener types, I’m betting you have overheard similar discussions–many times–especially during the summer months.

Soft and Hard Blooms in the Garden

Now, as much as our ladies are disgusted by the insects, deer and other vermin grazing their garden salad, the idea of hurting them is just not in the cards for nurturing and nature-loving women.  So put away the guns Guys!  That approach is going to earn you some major POW! Points.   The way to become a Hot! Guy is to go to the grocery and hardware stores and buy the ingredients for this Insect, Maybe Deer and Small Vermin Repellent recipe.  While you are at it, buy an inexpensive canvas bag and one long-stem yellow rose.  Put all the stuff in the bag.  Take the stuff home, and make the first batch of this recipe for her.  Either copy or write this recipe on an index card and tape it to the outside of the spray bottle.  Put the filled spray bottle in the canvas bag, and then drop the rose into the bag so it’s sticking up nice and tall.   

Now, wait until she’s working in her garden.  Bring your little canvas bag to her.  Tell her how much you appreciate the beauty (and/or vegetables and herbs) she creates in her gardens and that the rose is for how she makes you happy.  Tell her you have been aware of the insects and vermin problem, and have done some homework.  Tell her you have found a way to protect the gardens from overnight feasting by her unwelcome friends.  Tell her she needs to spray her special plants in the early evening hours, that she should repeat it as often as needed to keep the insects and vermin away, and after it rains or a heavy watering.  If you want to get some Bonus WOW! Points, offer to make the first application!

My Kathy swears by this potion to repel insects, maybe deer, and if you spray the ground around the plants, some of other small rodents that like to eat her garden goodies.  She’s given it out many times, and I’m pretty sure it works.   And Guys, even if it doesn’t work, she is going to give you major WOW! Points for caring enough about her passion for growing things to help out with a problem. 

PS–if your lady aims the bottle at you, you are probably in a WOW! Point Deficit Situation.  Uh Oh!!

Insect, Maybe Deer and Small Vermin Repellent

Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 0 hr 0 min | Servings: 1 Quart | Difficulty: Easy

Note:  This is not for human consumption!

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart capacity spray bottle
  • 2 tbsp Tabasco or other similar hot sauce without seeds
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 tsp Liquid Dawn Dish Detergent
  • Water to fill

Directions:

1. In the quart spray bottle (buy at hardware store), combine next 3 ingredients.

Quiet Deck Garden Area

2. Fill the remaining volume with tap water.

3. Shake gently.

4. Spray plants and flowers in the late afternoon and after the sun has begun to set.  Respray once every few days and again after heavy rains or watering.

Source: My Hot! Guy Collection
Sent from Paprika Recipe Manager