Thursday, June 18, 2009


Today is my birthday, and I am sick in bed trying to get over the flu that rebounded over last weekend. It’s not a major birthday year so I’m not too upset that I’m not indulging my sweet tooth or stuffing my maw with things that are no longer good for me and stay with me longer than I would like. It’s not the worst birthday either. That was my 19th birthday when my beloved grandfather (whom I was named after) died in Ireland with my father just making the 3000 mile journey within a hour before my grandfather passed away. Despite the years in between, and ignoring my name and my birth date, I think about him, and all my grandparents, a lot. Barely a week goes by that I don’t think of all them.

Since today I am being a bed-to-couch-to-bed slug, I thought I would share some favorite things.

1. Books. Well duh!

I finally finished entering all my books into a media cataloging program called Delicious Library. It saved me the task of actually counting my books, which I traditionally do on my birthday. The total as of today is (excluding 50 blank books and 100 stripped cover mass markets) 1,961.

Entering books into Delicious Library took longer than expected as I often stopped to reacquaint myself with a book, usually baring the distresses of smoke and water from the Fire, and losing myself within it for a few hours. It’s a wonderful thing to have a few hours of quiet to read a good book.

2. Food.

I used to be a thin man until I discovered I like to eat. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything was very instrumental in making me unafraid of cooking as well as enlarging my waistline.

In fact, Bittman got me brave enough to try recipes from tv shows. Here’s one of my absolute favorites recipes – it’s EXTREMELY easy and EXTREMELY good.

I don’t make it that often as I end up eating it right out of the pan. It’s been a while since I last made it so, the FIRST person to contact me about this will win: me cooking this for you (and helping you eat it).

Pork Scallopine with Tomato Basil Sauce

Martha Stewart & Chris Schlesinger of the East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Mass.


Makes 2 servings.

1 pork tenderloin, about 10 to 14 ounces, cut into 4 pieces, crosswise

3 tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon cognac

1/4 cup Homemade Chicken Stock

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

3 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons finely chopped plum tomato

1 tablespoon finely chopped basil

2 heads radicchio, quartered

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


i. Stand pork tenderloin pieces on end between two layers of plastic wrap. Pound meat to a 1/4-inch thickness with a rolling pin; set aside.

ii. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Season pork on both sides with salt and pepper. Add meat to pan, and cook until browned. (There will be a release of juices on the surface of the meat after it has been turned, 2 to 3 minutes per side.) Transfer meat to a platter, and keep warm. Pour off any excess fat from skillet, and discard. Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

iii. Return skillet to heat, add the shallot, and cook for about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat, and deglaze with cognac. Return skillet to stove, and carefully ignite with a match. When flames subside, add chicken stock and mustard; reduce to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Add heavy cream, tomato, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and serve sauce over pork.

iv. Meanwhile, toss radicchio with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place on preheated grill pan, turning as it begins to color. Remove from grill pan, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and serve with pork scaloppine.

3. Movies.

Top 3 favorite movies of all time: Vertigo, The Third Man, Wings of Desire.

But oftentimes, the trailer is the best thing about a movie. Not sure why, but I love this trailer to Where the Wild Things Are.

4. Stories.

Three of my favorite FREE podcasts are from National Public Radio and involve the telling to stories.

Selected Shorts, which is an hour-long reading of various kinds of short stories by famous actors.

This American Life. Which looks at true stories united by the barest of common themes and can be funny and heartbreaking and very, very human at the same time.

The Moth Storytelling Project: An amateur storytelling “jam” where someone tells a story under 15 minutes, live and without notes. Just last week I heard the second story by Ed Gavagan, “Victims’ Impact” continuing his account of when he was stabbed in New York City. It goes to a different place then what you would expect and had me weeping at the end in how a little grace and a little forgiveness overcomes a lot of evil.

Drowing on Sullivan Street

Victim's Impact

5. The little faces that run smiling to me when I visit my nieces & nephews.

God, I think that adds years to my life.