Wonderful Wednesday

Today was exactly what I needed.  A day off of work.  A day off of work with my ODB.

I think he was a little surprised that I had never been on a golf course before or driven a golf cart.  I only took a few swings and it was very laughable.  He played and I watched.

The scenery was beautiful.  The rain cleared before we got there and the course wasn’t crowded at all, so he got to play alone.  And I got to distract him and annoy him with questions 🙂

The best part was getting to see him in the middle of the week for no reason.  He makes me happier than I’ve ever been.

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Top 100 reasons Texas is better than any other state

My comments and feedback on Dallas Morning Observer’s recent article “Top 100 reasons Texas is Twice as Awesome as your state”.  Ok feedback on majority of them…..

1. NASA. Cool?  Yes.  But we are not the only state that has a NASA site.  Ours is big and impressive and I have friends who work there.
2. World class birding. Even in the middle of Dallas at White Rock Lake.  I’ve been to the lake once and the wildlife was pretty.
3. Tex-Mex Oh yes!
4. El Capitan Been there, it’s pretty awesome, especially if you are a science nerd like me.
5. South Padre Island (best sand castle sand in the world) I’ve only been once and to be honest, Florida’s panhandle is WAY better.
6. Molly Ivins
7. Ann Richards
8. Taco Cabana I do like Cabana and it’s easy for me to eat there.
9. Sons of Hermann Hall On my list, never been.  I am a Hermann Sons camp alumni and insurance holder (semi-related).  This is their local lodge, but they hold lots of dances and concerts there.
10. Barton Springs, Balmorhea, Krause Springs and all the rest I’ve been to springs, but none of these.  I know, I know.  I need to.
11. When Katrina refugees needed places to stay, we took them in.
12. Nolan Ryan YES!  He was my childhood hero.
13. Willie Nelson Legend!  Saw him live twice and didn’t care for it, but I do like his writing and albums.
14. Robert Earl Keen, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Lyle Lovett and Townes Van Zandt Well yes, some of Texas’ most influential songwriters.    I’ve seen the first 3 live. We have albums from all of them in our house.
15. The most popular poker game in the world isn’t called New York Hold ‘Em, is it?  Not a fan of poker
16. The Frio River Absolutely.  I can’t believe I was 29 before we ever went there!  My mom was there all of the time as a kid and I grew up only an hour
17. The Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater
18. Bottle Rocket, Reality Bites and Robocop were filmed here.
19. Also, Giant, Logan’s Run, Fandango and No Country for Old Men.
20. The Last Picture Show, Bonnie and Clyde, Lonesome Dove and Dazed and Confused, too.
21. Walker, Texas Fucking Ranger OR Chuck Norris
22. Texas high school football is Friday Night Lights.  This is true.  Friday Night Lights and Varsity Blues are JUST LIKE Friday nights in Texas!
23.In some Texas towns, you can hear native Texans speaking Spanish, German and Polish. True.  People still speak Alsatian in Castroville, and Polish in Koscuisko where my dad is from.  In fact, my grandmother and dad used to talk to each other in Polish.  I think it’s really cool, keeping the culture alive.
24. Oh, and Czech, too
25. The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders
26. Our school kids take a full year of Texas History. Can they name all other 49 states? Not sure but they sure as hell wouldn’t bother to rank them below us in a list.  I took Texas History way more than just 1 year in both HS and in college.
27. Chili. Real chili, with no beans and not made with chicken or other yankee bullshit. I like all kinds of chili, sorry.
28. That “The stars at night are big and bright…” scene in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure? That shit really works in real life. And not ironically. We’ve seen it many times.
29. Aggie jokes/tests. 
30. SMU Physics Dept.’s Dark Matter Research (apparently leading the field)
31. Top Tier Universities: Rice (17) and the University of Texas at Austin (45)
32. You’ve heard of “Texas Music,” right?  Music has been a big part of my life since college.  I can relate things back to what has happening musically then.  I met Dan at a Reckless Kelly concert and we both belonged to the Galleywinter forum.
33. Kris Kristofferson, the guy who wrote every song you’ve ever heard (pop and country) I hope to see him someday live.
34. Waylon Jennings, not from Texas but got here quick (Luckenbach, anybody?)  Legend!
35. Tommy Lee Jones San Antonio baby!
36. Can we count Bill Moyers? Born in Hugo, OK but went to UT Austin and was press sec for LBJ.
37. That Larry McMurtry guy with all those badass books he wrote about us.
38. Lon Tinkle, writer, literary critic and Dallas Morning News journalist who now (posthumously) pays for a lot of kids to go to school (Lon Tinkle Award at SMU, for instance)
39.The Texas Freedom Network – watchdog against radical religious conservatism
40. Dallas Mavericks!  Ok I respectfully disagree with this one and 41 and 42.  Sorry.
41. Dirk Nowitzki!
42. Mark Cuban!
43. Denton proving that you don’t have to be a big city to have a phenomenal music scene.
44. You can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”
45. More mega-churches
46. Dr. Denton Cooley performed first artificial heart transplant
47. Best state shape for cookies
48. Regional theater started here with Margo Jones in the 1940s
49. “Cowboying” is still a profession.
50. The Marfa lights and Janis Joplin still aren’t fully understood by outsiders.
51. Everybody knows somebody who has a ranch.
52. Bill Hicks lived and died here.
53. We still have the moon rocks.
54. Betty Buckley was born here and still lives in Fort Worth.
55. SXSW is now cooler than the Sundance Film Festival.  I LOVE SXSW!
56. Cheap avocados. I once thought this but they are WAY cheaper in California.  Most of ours come from there or Mexico anyhow.
57. Great surfing. But we like to keep that to ourselves. I’ve always watched people surfing at Texas beaches and I’ll take their word for it.
58. You can go to an opera and a rodeo and see the same people in the crowd at both.
59. No state income tax. So far, anyway.
60. We get heat, ice storms, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.  Not a fan of any of these.
61. Lots of chupacabra sightings.
62. Frozen margaritas were invented here.
63. The State Fair of Texas, which has changed very little in 50 years but is still the biggest, best damn state fair in the land.  I’ve actually never been.
64. Farrah Fawcett splashed in the NorthPark fountain and was born and raised in Corpus Christi.
65. Currently the leader in most reality shows filmed about one city/state.
66. Did we mention our State used to be a nation? Our state used to be a nation.
67. More songs written about/involving Texas than rest
68. “Everything is bigger in Texas” — We have the most “legendary” perception from others, national and internationally.
69. More than 10 distinct ecological regions (Coastal Plains, Delta Valley, Deserts, Mountains, Hill Country, etc.)
70. UT Austin owns all the Woodward and Bernstein files from Watergate.
71. First state to successfully prosecute those nutty FLDS pedophiles.
72. Dinosaur tracks in Glen Rose  Been here, very cool for science geeks.
73. Texas toast.
74. Real iced tea from teabags, not that California mango crap.  This made me laugh, reminds me of Adam Carolla’s passionfruit tea rant
75. Gruene Hall, which has a unique history all its own Yes!  I love Gruene hall and lots of history for me there.
76. Tubing down the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers  I *think* I remember what it was like for the Guad to have enough water to float in.  The Comal is always too crowded, so while it’s gorgeous and fun, i’ll take it on a weekday anytime!
77. The Alamo, y’all; it’s especially beautiful lit up at night Yes, especially at Christmas.
78. Joe Ely Another Texas legend
79. UT Austin has Norman Mailer’s papers, and also LBJ’s
80. Fiesta in San Antonio (it’s a citywide party)  I haven’t been in years, but Fiesta is a ton of fun!
81. Wes Anderson was born here
82. The sky! And the best thunderstorms you’ve ever seen.
83. Larry McMurtry’s Booked Up shops in Archer City
84. The Harry Ransom Center
85. Chicken fried steak  I used to LOVE chicken fried steak.
86. A state shape that makes for excellent souvenirs, aside from the aforementioned cookies
87. The Texas Rangers are nice boys.
88. Buddy Holly Another legend….seeing a trend here?
89. And therefore, the very excellent Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock  I’ve actually never been to Lubbock
90. Big Bend National Park  I’ve been there once in HS and I REALLY want to go back!
91. Austin City Limits (the show, not the fest)  Been to two filmings, both in the old building at UT.
92. East Texas Bigfoot
93. John Graves
94. Shiner and Rahr Sorry, I don’t drink
95. Enchanted Rock  I am dying to go again soon, I haven’t been since college.
96. Barbecue  Yes please
97. Dead Armadillos Drinking Lone Star, and related folk art/crafts
98. Roy Orbison
99. Roky Erickson
100. George Jones 
Fuck it, Texas has the richest musical heritage of any state in the Union.

Comfort Food at it’s finest


King Ranch chicken is one of the greatest things on earth. If you don’t like it, I am pretty sure you should be kicked out of Texas. I cannot believe my sister has always hated it.  One of the favorite things my mom always made when I was a kid.

Recently featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives when Matthew McCoughney and Guy Fieri went to Monument Cafe in Georgetown (down the street from Dan’s office) and learned how to make King Ranch Chicken.  Their recipe and method was very different!  Sounded good, but not gluten free or waistline friendly.

King Ranch Chicken is legendary in Texas.  I’ve blogged it before Here.

I’d been craving it for over a week (since I saw it on DDD on Food Network), but my schedule and other plans didn’t allow me to make it.  I put it together on Sunday, to toss in the oven on Monday evening.  Leftovers planned for Tuesday night, since I don’t have time to cook after LUNA.

KING RANCH CHICKEN

Serves – 6

10 oz. cooked, cubed chicken breast
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes (I use extra spicy)
8 corn tortillas, cut into fourths
1 cup shredded cheddar (regular, sharp, or jack)
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Methods/steps

Saute onion, garlic and celery in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray until tender. Add soups, Rotel tomatoes and chicken; heat and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Layer 1/2 of tortillas in bottom of dish. Pour 1/2 of soup mixture over tortillas. Sprinkle 1/2 of shredded cheese over soup mixture. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Cover with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and cook additional 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Tips, notes, suggestions

  • I use Pacific Naturals soups, because they are GF. Campbells, store brand, or others work fine if you don’t have food intolerance.
  • You can certainly reduce the amount of cheese or use reduced fat.  Or mix the cheese types.  I used sharp cheddar and Monterrey jack this go-round.
  • Dan’s mom likes to use flour tortillas.  I’m not a fan of that method, the traditional way is with corn.  Some people even use tortilla chips.  I like the oven to make the edges and tortillas sticking out crispy, so I don’t do the chips thing either.
  • I cooked a whole chicken in the crockpot on Sunday and used most of it for this.
  • You can put it together the day/night before and just cover with foil and bake when you want to eat it.  I’d recommend baking a little longer if you do that, because the sauce will be cold before you bake it and it may need a little extra time to heat throughout.  It you make it and bake it all at the same time, the sauce will be hot before you put it in the oven.
  • Good with mexican rice, salad, beans, or just about anything!
  • Weight Watchers Points will vary on the type/brand tortillas, soup, and cheese you use.  As I made it, for 6 servings, it was 6 P+ each.

Things I like Thursday: Extreme Makeover Home-Texas

Many of you have asked what you can do to help in response to the Bastrop Wildfires. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will be in Bastrop December 7th-14th to rebuild one family’s home. They need approximately 3,000 volunteers to build this house; from skilled workers to general volunteers. Additional information can be found on their website (http://www.joinextreme.com/texas).

Things I like Thursday: Holidays

Here’s a list of officially observed Texas holidays, just in case you are just dying to know:

Labor Day
Veteran’s Day
Thanksgiving Day
Day after Thanksgiving
Christmas Eve Day
Christmas Day
Day after Christmas
New Year’s Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Confederate Heroes’ Day*
Presidents’ Day
Texas Independence Day* (my favorite!)
Cesar Chavez Day*
San Jacinto Day*
Memorial Day
Emancipation Day*
Independence Day
LBJ’s Birthday*

*State holidays, but offices remain open with small operating crews.  To me that means: hopefully everyone else will take the day off and i’ll get a lot of work done 😉  I almost always work those type of holidays.

October is the only month with no holiday, which I think is phooey.  Guess only the feds care about Columbus.

I love the state holidays, even if I end up having to work (is it June yet?)

 Happy San Jacinto Day!