Saturday, November 24, 2007

College basketball game

Last night a friend invited me to attend a college basketball game at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex which was a part of the Old Spice Classic being televised on ESPN. We watched Kansas State (#20) versus Central Florida in an exciting and close game that went into overtime.

It goes without saying that college basketball is a much better entertainment product than the NBA and so much more affordable. The games are shorter, more exciting and played with real passion. I had a great time and encourage y'all to go see a college game in a neighborhood near you.

I took some pictures that I think summarize the essential elements of the NCAA basketball experience. A good time was had by all.

The Milk House at Disney Wide World of Sports

Cheers for Central Florida

Lay up

Time out

Foul shot


Final score

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

West Coast road trip

We spent yesterday, our first wedding anniversary, taking a road trip down the west coast of Florida to collect shells on Honeymoon Island and have dinner in Tampa.

We're getting pretty good at this road trip thing.

Thought I'd share some highlights of our journey with y'all on the day before Thanksgiving. Be safe and make sure to tell Grandma I said hey.

Antebellum mansion
Brooksville, Florida

Confederate monument
Broooksville, FL

Gopher tortoise
Hernando County, FL

Mermaid statues
Weeki Wachee, FL

Wall Spring
Palm Harbor, FL

Boggy Creek
Pinellas County, FL

Honeymoon Island State Park

Wood storks
Honeymoon Island State Park

Gulf shore
Honeymoon Island State Park

Connie's haul of sand dollars
Honeymoon Island State Park

Rush hour in Tampa

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kentucky vs. Georgia

Sanford Stadium

The Kentucky Wildcats (#20) will journey south to Athens this coming Saturday to take on the resurgent Georgia Bulldogs (#9) in Sanford Stadium. The current mess that is the SEC East standings has the lower ranked Tennessee Volunteers (#19) in the drivers seat for claiming the division crown due to the tie-breaking advantage of having beat the stuffing out of Georgia in Knoxville back in October. Oh the trials and tribulations of life in the SEC!

Andre Woodson

Truth be told, I really like this Kentucky football team and think that their coach Rich Brooks has done a wonderful job reviving a moribund program from oblivion. Andre Woodson is a great quarterback and the Wildcats stunning defeat of LSU was a highlight of the NCAA season. Having said that, the Dawgs must defeat the Cats and hope for a Tennessee loss in the next two weeks to get a shot at LSU in the SEC championship game and a berth in the Sugar Bowl. The Las Vegas odds makers have Georgia favored by 8 points and I think that this will be borne out by the final score: 35 - 21.

Next week I'll be rooting for Kentucky to kill the Vols!

UGA in his new black jersey

This game will air on ESPN at 12:30 PM Eastern time.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Auburn vs. Georgia

The oldest football rivalry in the South commences for the 111th time this Saturday in Athens, GA when the Auburn Tigers (#17) take on the Georgia Bulldogs (#10) between the hedges in Sanford Stadium.

2006-07 Auburn Cheer Group

The boys in Las Vegas have Georgia favored by one-point, which pretty much translates into even odds in my book. If Georgia can come away with a win this Saturday and another the following week against Kentucky it is not too much of a stretch to speculate that they could win the SEC East and meet LSU in the championship game later this month in Atlanta.

I pick the Dawgs to win this one 37 - 24.

Downtown Athens, GA on game day

This game can be seen on CBS at 3:30 PM Eastern. I'll be serving BBQ & slaw with pecan pie. Y'all come down now, ya heah?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wilco performs on Austin City Limits

Wilco on stage at Austin City Limits

I had the great privilege to catch Wilco perform on the wonderful PBS show Austin City Limits. The band was in great form and played songs from their most recent album Blue Sky Blue. Lead guitarist Nels Cline was featured more than usual and boy oh boy did he wail. I just loved hearing that battered old Fender Jazzmaster ringing in my ears once again, even though it was just coming out of TV speakers instead of through a stack of Marshall amps live and on stage.

It may seem a bit hyperbolic to say but I'll state it anyway, this is the best damn band in the land! They are astute artists that incorporate a wide range of influences and are able synthesize it into music that is fun, refreshing and intelligent.

Keep an eye out for this show in your local listings. Nels Cline alone is worth the price of admission.

Nels Cline

Friday, November 02, 2007

LSU vs. Alabama

The long awaited clash between the Cajun Tigers of LSU against the Crimson Tide of Alabama will finally occur tomorrow in Tuscaloosa. The newfound, and quite intense, enmity of Tiger fans towards the Tide is due to the perceived traitorous nature of their former coach Nick Saban who took the head coaching job at Alabama without the blessing and permission of football fans in Louisiana. They are especially upset because he decided to coach a rival team in their own division (the SEC West). That he coached the Tigers to the 2003 national championship title seems to matter not a whit in their low estimation of his tainted character and honor.

A popular shirt in Baton Rouge

LSU is currently ranked #3 in the nation, with a good shot at the national title, yet Tiger fans are still harboring a boatload of venom towards their former coach Nick Saban. It must be very disheartening to their current coach Les Miles, who is rumored to be considering a move back north to coach his alma mater (the Michigan Wolverines) next season. I think all of this Cajun fanaticism is beginning to wear on him more than a little, because in Ann Arbor they're quite happy if all you do every year is beat Ohio State.

Of course, in Alabama the arrival of Nick Saban is viewed quite differently.

The odds makers in Las Vegas have picked LSU as a 7.5 point favorite but I think emotions will be running high in Bryant-Denny Stadium and the Tide will emerge victorious 31 - 27.

This wonderful spectacle of SEC football will air on CBS at 5:00 PM Eastern time. I'll be grilling chicken served up with homemade slaw and home fries. Y'all come on down!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pecan Pie again

It's pecan pie time again here in the Deep South and I'm sharing my recipe, which I published last year in a similar blog post. I found it in a fifty-year old copy of Gourmet magazine (November 1956) that I bought at a library book sale in Utah.

As I mentioned before it is important to use a good quality cane syrup if you can find one. Most brands that are available in major chain grocery stores use a mix that often blends in corn syrup or dextrose, which is not as good as 100% cane syrup.

I bought the above jar in Louisiana at a country produce market and am always on the lookout for the "real thing" when traveling throughout the South. There is a wonderful roadside market on U.S. Hwy. 27 in Lamont, Florida where I can reliably obtain pure cane syrup that is locally produced. They also sell white chocolate covered pecans to die for!

So have at it you busy bakers out there, nothing puts the folks at home in a better mood than the sweet smell of freshly baked pecan pie wafting through the corridors of the house. You'll always attract a crowd around the oven, mark my words.

Southern Pecan Pie

Boil 1.5 cups of cane syrup with 1 cup of sugar for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Slowly add the hot syrup to 4 beaten eggs, stirring constantly. Add 1/4 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1.5 cups of coarsely broken pecans, and stir well. Turn the mixture into an unbaked pie shell and bake pie in a moderate oven (350 F) for about 45 minutes, until the shell is browned, the filling is set, and a knife inserted near the center comes out dry.