Today, I am 40…

I often thought that hitting 40 would be so much more of a big deal. I was expecting a little fanfare, balloons and cake and hey, maybe even a parade! (I can dream right)

But in reality, I greet this day with a smile, the well wishes of my loved ones and friends and the expectation of a great night out tonite with amazing people and good music. No big deal. No pressure. No soul searching melancholy on the meaning of my existence as I reach middle age. No, just acceptance, a smile and looking forward to this new chapter in my life. I’m happy and but not content and that makes this birthday so much better than all the rest. New opportunities, new friendships, new loves (or maybe even an old one), I’m looking forward to what is to come. Forward, with no regrets.

Ah 2009, you will be missed….

Why hello! Fancy meeting you here. I know it’s been awhile. I have no excuses. I wasn’t sick, there were no major catastrophes either meteorological, financial, familial or sociological. Let’s just call it what it is: I’m a lazy ass.

Since June, I have been writing and keeping notes on life, but to be honest, I really haven’t sat down in front of the computer to bring those thoughts to a public forum because, well….I’m lazy. And even with some gentle prodding from other bloggers (Cas, Allison, Romi, Pam and Natalie, to name a few) I just couldn’t find the motivation. The computer screen had become another blank canvas for me.

Let me explain: In the spare room in my house, there sits a canvas. About one year ago, I set it up on the easle, broke out some paints, poured myself a huge cup of coffee, set up some music and I went in with every intention to start….something. Unfortunately, when I sat down in front of the canvas, I realized I had no idea where to begin. All I saw was white. No direction, no thought, no emotion. Just a blank field of white. I remember sitting there for several hours, listening to the music, sipping my coffee. Nothing changed. I got up, shut off the music, put away my paints, shut off the light and left. Every few days, I would wander in, stare at the canvas again. I don’t know if I was looking for divine inspiration but the motivation was eluding me. I couldn’t even get started. The canvas sat on the easle for 6 months before I finally gave up and put it away. And I think I did the same thing here.  I gave up.

This past year has been a wild roller coaster ride of emotions. I worked 2 jobs for awhile which nearly drove me insane. I travelled to Texas, fell in love and had my heart broken more than once. (That story is still on going and I definitely plan to write about that at another time…there may be a happy ending to that tale). 

2009 was a year of being caught in an emotional holding pattern. Afraid to move forward, refusing to go back and no chance for finding some firm ground to hold on to. I felt like my life was circling the airport, waiting for the word to land and finally find some peace.

I saw my best friends lose their jobs and I realized I was more worried for them than they are. They are happy and content with their lot in life. Found myself wondering: why wasn’t I? Could I be so centered and happy if life threw me a curveball like that? I can’t even be happy with my life as it is.

My mother’s health improved as mine kinda deteriorated a little. Nothing to worry about, but certain things in my life that I put on the back burner were becoming more and more of a problem. Stress from the two jobs, lack of sleep and a chaotic life had sent my blood pressure through the roof, resulting in some weight gain, lack of motivation, etc. Since losing the second job, my health and outlook has improved. I’m on a more positive path to wellness and health. By the way, I have stories to tell about that second job…..

It wasn’t a year of all doom and gloom, however. Amazing friends, loving family always make everything easier. I recconnected with scores of old friends from high school through Facebook. This strange phenomenom seems to be the norm for almost everyone. People reaching out across the internet to find each other once again. I love it. I love seeing what other people have done with their lives since the hellish days of Winnacunnet High School.

Music once again dominated my life with shows all over New England. Some I worked for the band, others I was there just to support the music. I fell in love with Pandora and LastFM, both introducing new music into my life while reminding me the of the joys of my musical past.

There was amazing food and food that should never be mentioned again! I’m looking at you, chicken fried bacon! The Texas State Fair may classify you as food and you may be delicious, but you are sooooooo wrong! Wrong on every level that is wrongness.

So many more things I could mention here, but I feel I have prattled on long enough. So without further ado, here is my official list of New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Find a healthy weight. (you’ll notice I carefully avoided the cliche of  “lose weight”)

2. Let my heart heal. Allow myself to finally just get over the hurt and find the happy again. Love has entered my life, crashing in, demanding and I want to explore this without the regrets and hurt of the past.

3. Yard sale!!!! Yes, I’m finally going to have a yard sale. I’m working on minimizing in my life (read: cutting out the unneccessary crap) and the first major hurdle will be to have an epic win of a yard sale. Need some books? Come talk to me, I’ll hook you up….

4. Take a real vacation. Ya know, one that involves real rest and peace…maybe camping on a lake someplace….

5. Spend more times with the crazy people I call friends and less time with the computer.

6. Paint. I bought a new set of watercolors, some good quality paper and a few new brushes. Now, just need to get my ass out there and do some real work. Watercolors are not my normal medium, but I figure trying something outside my comfort zone may motivate me more.

7. Finally commit to blog all the stories I have rolling around in my head and incomplete here in my drafts.

8. Finally read the manual for my new camera and figure out what it can really do rather than just winging it all the time… 🙂

9. Appreciate my mom more and remember to tell her I love her every day. It’s tough taking care of mom, this is not how I pictured my life to be, but she is my mom and my responsibility. Sometimes I feel burdened and sometimes I wish my life were different, but she needs me and this is what I have to do.

10. Find some peace and contentment, the kind we all dream about….

So Happy New Year everyone! Kiss 2009 goodbye and bring on 2010! I can’t wait…..

Another Interview, Another Challenge

Trisha asked and I answered the call! And I really have to thank her because I needed something to write about and I am in a rut….

1. You’ve been chosen as a contestant on Survivor Devil Island. What skills would you bring to the island to help your team and then ultimately yourself?
scan0022 As you can see by this example, I’m more than adept at building houses out of available materials…
Ok, actually, this a “Fairy House” I came across on my first trip to Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. And it’s made from twigs, bark and moss and not mighty branches and logs from the massive trees in the woods…and yeah, did I mention I didn’t actually build it? Yeah, so I really have nothing to offer when it come to survival in the wilderness.  Besides watching “SurvivorMan” or “Man VS Wild”, I have no experience with surviving in the wilderness without basic camping gear. Give me a tent, some cooking gear and maybe a gun, and I might make it 24 hours….So I think the first camp council on my season of Survivor would involve the rest of my tribe voting off my sunburnt (yeah, the native american genes did not involve my pigmentation at all!) and crying ass.
2. You’ve just won $28,000,000. in Powerball! What will you do with all that money?
66-5So after everyone in my family has been taken care of…and after I’ve quit my job…and after I’ve moved in to my new seaside villa…and after I’ve whipped myself into shape with my 24 hour on call personal trainer…and after I’ve taken care of my good friends needs…and after I’ve bought my friends bands new gear and funded their next album…and after I’ve set up a scholarship foundation for underprivileged art majors…after ALL of that, I would load up the car and fullfill a lifelong dream. I would drive out to Chicago and find Old Route 66 and drive cross country. I have a fascination with all the old kitschy stuff that cropped up along this once major highway that runs from Chicago all the way to Santa Monica. One of the purest joys in my life has always been just hopping my car and just driving and seeing all the old Americana, being able to experince a truly “American” experience (the fabled love affair with the automobile and all the road side attractions that helped build) and maybe writing a book about my experience or at the very least, do some photography and painting along the way. One thing I would have to add to this experience would be stopping along the way and visiting with the many amazing people I’ve met online over the years. 🙂
Then after all that, I would open up the restaurant I mentioned in my last post and hopefully somewhere in my travels, I would have met the woman of my dreams. But thats a post for another time…
3. Giada DeLaurentis asks you to audition for her show. What dish would you prepare for her and give us the recipe , please!
giadaI have to admit, the idea of being featured on a cooking show would definitely intrigue me. Whenever I cook for my friends, I have this tendency to talk out loud about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, how long something takes to cook and how to properly dice something. Aparently, this is an unconscious habit that I do even when I’m alone. Ok, I know that sounds like I’m a little nutty, talking to myself while I cook, but you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t enjoy some of my eccentricities. 🙂
I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that Giada would ask me to audition for anything, but lets say she wanted me on to feature a recipe from my restaurant (you know, the one I would open after I win Powerball…) so I’m thinking I would have to make something slightly italian so I would probably make a cold cut and italian sausage omellette.
4 eggs beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsely
a sampling of italian deli meats chopped roughly equalling about 1/2 lb : prosciutto, mortadella, capicola are some good examples.
1/4 lb diced pancetta, pan seared
2 italian spicy sausages, grilled and chopped
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
2 roma tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped roughly
roasted red pepper, chopped
one cup mozzarella
1/4 fresh parmesan, roughly grated
juice of one lemon
In a large bowl, combine the eggs with the milk and whisk to combine. Add oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste. In a large non stick pan, grill the onions till they start to carmelize and combine with the green and red peppers, garlic, pancetta and sausage.
On a large flat skillet that has been either buttered or at least had some non stick spray applied to it, pour on the egg mixture. Make sure the skillet is piping hot before tossing the egg on there. From here, this all comes together rather quickly. I’m a big fan of the tri-fold method of omellette making so the egg spreads out thin across the skillet, giving you a rather large middle area to combine your ingrediants. As the egg starts to firm up, put down a handfull of mozzarella and then layer on the deli meat followed by the pancetta/sausage/veggie mixture. Squeeze on top a little juice from a lemon, add another handfull of cheese and fold together the omellette. Remove the pan from the heat, layer the sliced tomatos across the top of the omellette, then smother with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Then take entire pan and set in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes to further melt the cheese and fuse the flavors. After the cheese has melted and appears golden brown, remove from oven, garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with your favorite hash or a mixed green salad.
4. If you could make a home for yourself anywhere on the planet where would you live permanently? Can you describe your home in detail? Money is, of course, no object.
scan0007scan0047scan0012Monhegan Island would be somewhere near the top of my list. I loved this place from the first moment I set foot on the island.  I wrote about my first experience there here, here, here and here. That one experince made me a fan. Sadly, I’ve only been back there twice since and only on the same kind of day trips. Eventually, when I get the free time, I plan on spending alot more time there. It has long been a refuge for artists, the Wyeth family had a home there, Hopper painted here and countless other artists have immortalized this tiny little slice of heaven.  Isolated as it is in the Gulf of Maine, it would take alot of committment to want to live there year round. A healthy love of all things seafood and a stronger set of sea legs would be a start. But the idea of living and breathing art for the rest of my life? Yeah, thats pretty tempting….And if I had a house on the island, I would want an ocean view (not hard to do on an island) with a large studio space custom built with huge bay windows facing the ocean. All the rest would be details, but a massive kitchen to cook and entertain in and of course my own mini  movie theater. 🙂
5. You’re dissatisfied with the work you do. If you could do only one thing for the rest of your life what would you do?
sirsy7joey-sarah-and-lourdsI think I would be the happiest man in the world if I could help my friends in Sirsy and Lourds. I would love nothing better than doing photography and and promotional work for them and helping in some small way. And I would definitely do this on breaks from living on Monhegan Island. 🙂
So heres the rules again in case you forgot already:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Moments of Joy and Other Sublime Silliness


I have been feeling way too adult lately.

Deadlines. Meetings. Quotas. Bills. Taxes. Registration of my new car. Spring cleaning looming on the horizon.

It’s all been adding up to a whole heck of a lot of stress thats been bearing down on me for the last two weeks. I need a reason to be happy.  Surfing the blogs the other day, I came across the beautiful Miss Shepherds entry and felt a little inspiration. My mind started it’s own list of natural highs and moments that bring me joy.

1. Walking along the beach on a warm night, my toes sinking into the wet sand, the waves around my ankles.

2. Lying on the sand on a summer night, listening to the beat of the waves.

3. Making an elaborate meal for my friends when they are down.

4. Planning and cooking a huge meal for an event (Thanksgiving) and having it all come together perfectly.

5. Sinking into the couch on a cold day, wrapped in a warm blanket with a huge mug of coffee and a stack of dvd’s.

6.  Stealing a few minutes on my break to drive down to the beach and watch the waves for awhile and let my mind decompress a little from the stresses of the day.

7. Planning a road trip with my fellow ‘road warriors’ to see the bands we love.

8. Having a total geek moment and walk into a comic books store and talking all things X Men and Dark Knight and all things in between with fellow recovering geeky nerds like myself. Once in awhile, the nerd has to be let out!

9. Walking through the toy section at Walmart and seeing all the neat and highly detailed toys, secretly wishing I was a little kid again….

10. Picking up a book I haven’t read in a long time and falling into it’s pages like putting on an old sweater: comfy and warm.

11. Losing 8 hours of my life wrapped up in a video game. I realize some would see this as a waste, but sometimes getting lost in a little fantasy land is what my brain needs. And before you say “Go read a book”, I do read darnit and nothing compares to seeing your character run through that fantasyland and directing the action yourself. Don’t hate. 🙂

12. Having some song from the 80’s pop on the radio that I haven’t heard in a long time causing me to dance joyously. Melt With You and Rock Lobster are two songs that always make me giddy.

13. Having the lead singer dedicate her next song to me. I always get a little weak in the knees when that happens.

14. Being a dj and playing the music I love and actually having listeners. I truly miss this. When I was a dj at Keene State, I loved knowing people were listening.

15. Music Geek moment: going into a record store and ending up in a conversation with a total stranger about whether Trent Reznor sold out, or if the latest Ani Difranco album rocked or sucked or who was on tour and what shows we have been to, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

16. The smell of fresh brewed coffee.

17. The smell of my kitchen when I have been cooking up a storm.

18. The smile of a stranger who caught me glancing their way.

19. Playing with my camera and photographing the little things in my life.

20. Giving and recieving a hug when I least expect but when it was most needed.

21. When my rockstar friend tells me I’m one of her favorite photographers. I’m humbled that anyone would consider me a ‘photographer’, but for that to come from my friend who has been through professional photshoots for magazines and her own promotional work, I think I must have blushed three shades of red. Makes me want to take photography a little more seriously….

22. A moment of silence with friends. Not an uncomfrotable silence, but a sort of silent soldarity where there is nothing to say and we are content and comfortable with each others company and don’t have to fill each moment with talk.

23. Seeing a band for the first time, the thrill of hearing new music and a new voice.

24. The smell of laundry fresh from the dryer.

25. A clean house.

26. Getting in my car, loading up on music or books on cd, hot cup of coffee in hand, picking a direction and just going. No destination, no cares, no worries. Just me and the car driving as far away as possible.

27. The experience of a ‘destination’ restaurant. Picking a cuisine or restaurant from a review either online or on a Foodnetwork/Phantom Gourmet/Travel Channel reccomendation and going for their signature experience. I have a list a mile long of everything from greasy spoons to haute cuisine that I want to experience. Anyone up for a little road trip???

28. Sucking out a flush or a straight on the river and cleaning out my friends at the poker table when I was sure I had made a mistake by going all-in on Jack/Ace suited. Yup, I play way too much poker…..

29. Waking up to find my cat nuzzled into the crook of my arm.

30. Las Vegas! I loved that town when I visited in 1999 and been dying to go back ever since. I felt like a kid in a candystore there! A very adult candystore, but nonetheless….

31. Holding hands with someone for the first time, that fumbling of fingers and palms, finding how your hands fit together.

32. A first kiss, melting into each other for the first time.

33. The unspoken dialogue of eyes and movement, knowing someone so well that you know what they are thinking without ever speaking a word.

34. Hugs that linger and last too long, conveying more in that moment than words can capture.

35. WordPress Geek: Checking my stats and seeing what people are reading…I do this all the time. Makes me smile to see what people like.

36. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

37. Going to a wine tasting and being suprised by some obscure shiraz,  merlot or pinot noir that I had never heard of.

38. Catching up with an old friend and laughing about how much time has passed and how old we are getting.

39. Realizing how much your friends and family really care about you.

40. Successfully writing out 5 more moments of joy than Pam. (Couldn’t resist putting a little competitive spin on this)

Year of the Gut – A New Blog Coming Soon

It starts this friday.

I’m not going to abandon this blog. On the contrary, I think I will need this blog more than ever as an outlet. But but but…I need something that will keep me honest, keep me on track and keep me in mind of my goals. So ready or not, the Year of the Gut is coming.

One of the best tools reccomended by most nutritionists and trainers I have spoken with is to keep a daily log of what you eat and how you exercise, including days of rest and any cheats you may have throughout the day. The Year of the Gut will feature a starting photo (due to popular demand, there will be NO photos of me in a speedo with no shirt on like the Biggest Loser), weekly weigh-ins and a comprehensive list of my daily bad habits and how I am going to work towards making them healthier. I’m not that strong with the whole calorie count thing, but I plan on noting what I eat, how often I eat and I will welcome any suggestions on how to make it all healthier.

I can’t garuntee how entertaining or even interesting the new blog will be, but I would love your support and feedback as I work on changing my life and improving my health. The Year of the Gut is going to be a tough one, full of temptation, frustration, but most importantly, it will be a year of hope. I want to change and I know I can do this.

A special thanks to the Amazing Miss Romi for inspiring the title for my new venture. I certainly hope she doesn’t mind me using her former blog title and sees it in the humorous light as  it was intended. 🙂

Dorkiness or Why the hospital staff knows me so well….

I feel the peer pressure. ‘Everybody’s doing it man! Come on!” But I have to ask a simple question here: Why oh Why is dorkiness equated  with self inflicted injury? Everyone has these lists about dorkiness and all have involved some horrific stories of near maiming and death due to silliness. So rather than mask this as just a list of dorkiness, I’m stating upfront: I’m surprised I’m alive sometimes when I think of the crap I’ve done to myself. This is a list of maiming and mutilation. Yea of weak stomachs, turn away now.

  • When I was 6, I watched an episode of the old Superman tv show (in re runs for the smart asses who come up with any age jokes). Immediately inspired by the daring-do of our hero Superman, I immediately went outside, climbed on top of the picnic table. Now would be a good time to point out that the picnic table was situated over a cement patio. I looked in through the kitchen window at my mom and with arms outstretched I yelled “Look MOM!!! I’m SUPERMAN!!!” And with that, I took a flying leap. Gravity is a cruel mistress and one I hadn’t been properly introduced to until that day. I landed face first onto the concrete slab. All of my baby teeth broke in half and literally blew out of my face through a lovely gash in my cheek. I was unconscious of course, and don’t remember anything of that day or the rest of that month. I suffered a severe concussion and I think the count was 60 stitches to repair my face. The only thing I have to remind me of that old scar is a tiny portion of it on my upper cheek.
  • When I was 7, I decided it would be a fabulous idea to ride my bike barefoot. Ah, the joy of feeling the cool breeze between your toes as you cruise around the neighborhoood. I really do reccomend it, but be carefull. Don’t go popping wheelies like I did. I popped a wheelie in my friend Justin’s yard. He had been daring me and daring me all night, so finally, I pulled an epic wheelie, going fully vertical with the bike. Unfortunately, the bike didn’t want to stay upright and own I crashed. As I was heading to the earth, my bare foot caught the spokes of the front wheel which were still spinning away. I felt a slight tug and I looked down in time to see the ball and heel of my right foot get sliced off. They spent 2 hours scraping rocks and fressh cut grass from the wound. Maybe it wasn’t two hours, but certainly seemed that way.
  • Also when I was 7, I started experimanting with cooking. I would help my mom prep veggies, roast chickens, boil pasta. I was a fast learner but the one thing I didn’t learn right away was technique and proper equipment for the job at hand. So one night, I’m skinning carrots with a paring knife. I was holding the carrots out in front of me and slicing away with the knife. Suddenly, the knife mistook my left forefinger for the carrot, a common mistake, I’m sure. The blade easily sliced through the finger and into the knuckle, breaking the bone and severing the nerve endings. I remember the pain was so excrucutiating that I ran around the house uncontrollably, shaking my hand to and fro hoping the pain would go away but all that did was redecorate portions of the house with a splat of color here and there. They re-attached my finger and it still works, but I have no feeling in it. This one finger has been the source of the most hospital visits since that day. It has been broken 4 times, sliced or cut so deeply as to require stitches at least 7 times and dislocated 10 times.
  • When you are a kid, your best friends can come from some of your worst experiences. My best friend in elementery school was Jerry. But he wasn’t always my best friend, in fact, the way he introduced himself to me, well, you would think we were enemies. On a dare, someone asked him to load his lunchbox with rocks and hit someone with it. So he went out into the shoolyard, found the biggest rocks he could find and jammed them into his Battle Star Galactica Lunchbox, the one with the Cylons on the front and when you opened it up, the inside had, written in red, “Intruder Alert!” and “By Your Command!”. As we were being let out for the day, he spied me in the hall in front of him. Without a second thought, he hauled back and then smashed the back of my head with the loaded lunchbox. Severe concussion later, we were best of friends.
  • On a hot summer day when I was just going into 4th grade, I decided to make stovetop stuffing for myself, an easy meal to make and I was pretty confident in my cooking abilities at that point. The problem is, nobody had every explained heat stroke. With no A/C and a temperature of 90+ degrees, I started boiling the water for my stuffing. One of the symptoms of heat stroke is disorientation and loss of consciousness. Standing in front of the stove, with the boiling water in front of me and the heat of the day all around me, I got a bit woozy. I remember not being able to stop myself as I fell forward. I reached out for the first thing I saw, which was the boiling pan of water. The pan flipped over spilling its contents of boiling water, butter, bread crumbs and seasonings (mmm, can almost smell it just thinking about it) onto my right foot. Skin does a funny thing when its boiled and I don’t reccomend anyone trying this trick to find out how funny. Second and third degree burns later, I was still hungry.
  • I’m skipping lots of other dorky injuries here and going straight to high school. My freshman year, I used to play with knives. Now, don’t panic, I’m not a weirdo. And for those with a wee bit of a fetish, no, I’m not into ‘knife play’. Someone had given me a butterfly knife and I became obsessed with being able to open and the close thing with lightning speed. I didn’t feel like a bad ass, I wasn’t being macho. I have OCD and when someone showed me how to use that knife and the steps involved in opening and closing it, well, I just had to learn that for myself and it became a repetitive habit. Opening and closing, flicking it around my hand, tossing it half opened from one hand to another. I like to say I was quite good. Then one day, I slipped. The phone rang while I was juggling this thing around and I got up to answer it. Funny thing about coffee tables, they are never in the way unless you have something breakable, hot or dangerous in your hands. I tripped and fell face first, strecthing out my hands to stop myself, I forgot the blade was in my right hand. I didn’t notice until I got up that my arm was all wet and my hand felt strange. I looked at the back of my hand and there was a large bump sticking up and to the outside part of my hand, slowly turning purple. I turned my hand over, it felt heavier somehow and thats when I saw the hilt of the blade sticking out of my had, the blade itself buried in my palm. I laughed, I couldn’t feel a thing. I wrapped my hand in a towel and called my mom at work to let her now I was going to the hospital. The pulled the blade out and 12 stitches later, my hand was good as new, just a patch of scar tissue in the base of my palm to remind me and to remind all you kids out there: Never Play With Knives!!!!

So I guess I had a funfilled childhood and I didn’t even mention the life threatening asthma, the fights, the bullying, being kicked by horse, almost drowning, electrocuting myself by peeing on an electric fence….ah, good times.

Christmas Kitchen Rockstar

I realized something important today. I’m a rockstar in the kitchen. I’m a certified, club filling, multi-million cd selling, crowd pleasing rockstar when it comes to cooking. I may not be arena rock level, rock n roll hall of fame inductee or legends of rock on VH1’s Where are they Now? but dammit, I am a hell of a good cook. I chop, slice, dice, bake, baste, braise, broil, sautee, whip, chunk, stir fry, chill, blend and boil with the best of them.

Ok maybe not the best…I’m sure if I was in the same kitchen as Gordon Ramsey, I would be reduced to a crying little heap in the corner, but the food I manage to create kicks some ass.

Today was Christmas, and, as has become a tradition with my family, it was my time to just go wild with the menu and cook up a storm. The menu was simple enough:

Steak Roulade: pounded out a 3lb piece of steak, layered it with garlic, spinach, feta cheese, parsley, green onion, mozzarella, salt and pepper,then rolled it up, tied it together as a roast, seared the outside and then baked at 300 degrees for 90 minutes or until thermometer reads rare (I know, real precise, but its the only meat thermometer I could find). Cover completely with tinfoil and let rest. Any carryover heat should continue to cook the meat to medium rare or medium.

Mixed veggies roast: sliced various veggies: carrots, red onions, green pepper, sweet red pepper, summer squash, zucchini, fennel, garlic, added some basil, oregano, salt and pepper, drizzled with olive oil, mixed and placed in large roasting pan to cook at 400 for 40 minutes,then finished under the broiler for 15 minutes.

Garlic smashed potatos: an old standby. 5 lb bag of red potatoes, 2 sticks of butter, one small container of half and half, chopped parsley, chopped green onion, several large heaping tablespoons of diced garlic, salt and pepper. (I know how fattening this one sounds, but damn its good…)

Gravy: made from the left over juice from the roulade. Bring to boil and sift in 1/2 cup of flour, whisk until thick.

Cranberry Sauce: from a can, nothing special.

So seeing all this on the table in front of my mom and my brother in law, I began to think “I wish I had a bigger audience” and just as that thought popped into my head, my brother in law looked up and said “You should have stayed in the restaurant busines because I would pay for a dinner like this.”

Today was a great day, full of good memories, family and some damn good food. I can think of no better way to connect with family and friends than sharing over a meal that has been lovingly prepared. But I realized, I need to expand, I need a broader audience. I’ve outgrown the band and need to experiment more with my style. I don’t know if I want to open a restaurant, with no formal training in cooking other than just years of experience running restaurants, not sure how qualified I am….but it would be fun to try.

If you are reading this, then you are my friend and we need to cook together sometime: whatever you want to cook, I’m down with it. Barbeque? Hell yeah! Italian? No problem? Hot and spicy latin food? Ah, you know me too well….