A lot of hockey fans aren't baseball fans, just based on the natures of the two sports. That's understandable, but count me firmly in the baseball fan category. Perfect way to spend a summer weekend afternoon - beer, munchies, and lounging about. Not to mention the strategy facinates me - I've put up with Tony LaRussa for so long I expect every baseball game to be a chess match.
I'm pretty sure minor league baseball's not like that. I've never been to a Gwinnett Braves game, but I do enjoy minor league games. Lots of connection with the fans, and there's a feeling that it's more about the sport and less about the egos. Next Sunday the G-Braves are giving me an excuse to consider schleping all the way out there to see a game. They've organized a local hockey day. It's mostly for minor-league/beer league/youth league teams (note the fundraising chances), but it's still one of those rare cross-sport promotions that're just fun.
If you're not part of a league or anything like that, still go ($15 for infield box? Come on.) and wear your Thrashers/Gladiators/whatever jersey or shirts. Maybe this'd be a good chance for Thrashers fans to do one of our patented tailgates. We're excellent at beer consumption.
We've all had those days - never ending days that just drag on, leaving you so tired that the concept of anything more complicated than beer and a frozen pizza makes your head throb. You just want to flop onto the couch and watch a game. I understand. I feel your pain.
I'm going to mention something to you that will possibly gross you out, but it's actually a super healthy, well balanced dinner that has all sorts of nutrients and helped Alton Brown (of Good Eats fame) drop the ton of weight he put on after eating his way up the Mississippi River. It's an open-faced sandwich. It's got avocado, parsley, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, toasted sourdough bread... it's yummy.
It also has sardines on it.
I know, I know. "Ew!" you say. "That's the little fish in a tin can with bones and skin and stuff. Disgusting!" How about if I tell you that you can get them sans bones and skin? Heck, even with bones that you can't feel or taste these things are freaking calcium bombs? Keep that gross scene from The Burbs out of your mind, and try this. It's no fishier than tuna out of a can, and the sardines put that jar of fish oil supplements in your medicine cabinet to shame. Toss in avocado, and you have all sorts of heart-healthy fats.
Scallops are, it has been said, like the fillet Mignon of the sea. Large, succulent sea scallops, lightly coated with flour, salt, and pepper... pan sauteed in butter... there's little better.
Good quality sea scallops, not previously frozen and pumped full of liquid to fluff them out, are oftentimes priced as high as a good fillet, too. Three or four of them can cost you probably between $20 and $25 a pound, depending on where you purchase them. It's often more economical to buy the little bay scallops, but they're so often ruined by people trying to "dress them up." Cheese, sauces, tossing them in pasta... anything to cover up the fact that sometimes they can be chewy... when overcooked.
That's the danger with bay scallops. They're easy to overcook. Luckily, frying - when done correctly - can prevent this from happening. Sure, you can panko crust and bake these little guys, but that's healthy and not fun. Panko can get smushy in the oven, and scallops hold liquid.
Panko crusting and frying... that's the ticket. They still hold liquid (and therefore a hell of a lot of heat), but they're crunchy little balls of awesome. With a spicy and sweet duck sauce, they're the perfect snack for a hockey gathering. With some steamed rice and fish sauce and some stir-fried veggies, they're the perfect dinner.
Even better - if you don't like scallops, do it with shrimp! It's just as awesome.
Faces of compentency in today's NHL.
Something that Gary Bettman crowed about - as did members of the media and others covering the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers - is that the NHL is on par with other teams as far as relocation goes. The Thrashers were the first team to move in fifteen years, and that relocation happens in every sports league do to economic factors, fan support, the like.
Ok, fine - that does make sense. I'm not going to stand up and say that the economic situations for the relocation of the Nordiques, Jets, Whalers, and Thrashers weren't all terrible - that the teams didn't have the strong ownership that were dedicated to making their teams work in their markets. Phoenix is up in the air as far as their time remaining in their city. As much as I would like to see the Coyotes get a viable owner and stay put, the clock is ticking and it isn't looking good for the team. Last night's crushing defeat of the vote on Long Island to bring the Islanders their long-awaited new arena might also have turned that team's situation into another ticking time bomb. They have until 2015 in the current Nassau Coliseum before their lease is up and they have to move. Their owner, Charles Wang, has lost an absurd amount of money on the team - and his statements that he was "heartbroken" that the vote didn't pass might have less to do about the Islanders' well-being and more to do with his pocketbook.
Sometimes, you just want something easy - some sort of comfort food. Usually for me during the hockey season, comfort food consists of the kind that comes out of a tap. During the off-season, however, I usually have a bit more time and free cash to go for something more special. Special and gourmet doesn't have to cost a ton of money, though. A little extra, sure, but it's worth it.
I suggest for your stay at home meals - that Saturday afternoon where you don't really feel like going out and getting lunch, but you'd still like to have something more adult than ramen noodles (not that there's anything wrong with those) - you get better quality ingredients. They're better for you, better tasting, and keep you full for longer, so there's less of a chance of overeating. It's easy to be lazy and grab two pieces of white bread, some butter for the outside, a piece of bologna, and some American cheese. And yeah, a toasted bologna and cheese sandwich isn't bad, especially as a late-night snack. But this isn't a snack. This is lunch or; with the addition of some french fries, a salad, or some veggies, this is dinner.
Fancy toasted cheese sandwiches are the new gastro-trend now that fancy hamburgers and ritzy hot dogs seem to be played out. It's super easy to mimic these $7 or $8 dollar sandwiches at home for a fraction of the cost.
I suggest going somewhere like Trader Joe's for your ingredients. They're all very high-quality, and they're cheaper than other places like Whole Foods or Fresh Market. A weekend shopping trip there left me with some rosemary ham, herb-crusted goat cheese, and some low-fat Havarti. Toss in a sourdough loaf, and oh look! Sammiches. The cost of all of those items together was around $10, and the total output is probably six toasted cheese sandwiches.
I suggest doing this in a seasoned cast-iron skillet. They get hotter than the non-stick pans, and they form a better crust, too. Prepare the bread in the usual toasted cheese manner. Butter one side of a piece of sourdough, and on the other non-buttered piece, layer a slice of Havarti, some ham (no more than two slices, or else the cheese won't heat all of the way through), spread some goat cheese, and place another sice of Havarti on top. Cap off with buttered bread, buttered side out of course, and lay that side down first in a very hot cast-iron skillet. It should sizzle when you place the bread in. If not, it'll get more soggy than crispy. Butter the top of the sandwich, and press. Flip every minute to minute and a half to get an even toast, and to keep an eye on the crispness of the bread.
Another way you can do this is put it in a panini press or a George Forman grill. If you don't have either of those, and don't mind a little clean-up, you can use two cast iron skillets. Get the bottom of each very, very hot on a burner. Flip one skillet over, place the sandwich on the bottom, and put the other one on top. If the weight of the skillet itself isn't enough to press the sandwich, get a very heavy can of something - or a brick - and place it into the top skillet. Wait about 30 seconds to a minute, and you have an oozy piece of goodness that looks something like this:
... you watch, it has to be this one. It's gorgeous. Few shots of David Backes being all captainly, lots of amazing goals and saves and highlights, and an amazing ending.
For whatever reason, as upset as I was on June first, as torn up as I was watching the draft... this video really, really brought it home at the end: they're gone.
Admit it. The off season sucks. Free-agent frenzy's calmed down to less than a trickle, the prospect and development camps are about to end (or in the Blues' case, never happen), and you have over 70 days until the start of the season. Sure, September's right around the corner, when training camp and preseason starts, but the end of July and all of August just suck.
When you get bored, what do you tend to do? Yep. Have a sip or two. It's no hidden fact that hockey fans drink more per capita than fans of any other sport. We drink constantly in the regular season, because two thirds of hockey fans are fans of teams that frustrate the hell out of them. The other third are in denial. This recipe is useful for long summer weekend nights, or long nights during the season, where you probably need to munch on something. I will warn you, though - this involves deep frying, so make sure you're comfortable with that before plunking things into oil. Either a deep fryer or a candy thermometer that you can hook onto the side of a non-stick (NOT ALUMINUM, please) pot or a dutch oven. Also, a splatter screen's always helpful.
This is from an issue of Bon Appetit, but I'm not exactly sure which one.
Ham and Rice Croquettes
Makes eight croquettes, and these are super good, so they should last all of two minutes once they cool off.
2 cups cooked white rice, cooled (it's suggested you use the in-the-pouch kind, or minute rice)
3/4 cup finely chopped cooked ham - about 3/4 of a pound
1/3 cup grated parmesean
2 large eggs, divided
1/2 plain dry bread crumbs (seasoned wouldn't be bad either - personal preference)
About 3 cups veggie oil for frying
Stir together rice, ham, cheese, one egg, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Put remaining egg, lightly beaten and bread crumbs in seperate shallow bowls.
Heat 1 to 1 1/2 inches oil to 350°F in a 10-inch skillet over high heat. Meanwhile, dampen your hands and form 1/4 cup amounts of rice mixture into 2 1/2 inch cakes. Lightly coat with egg, then with bread crumbs. Fry croquettes in two batches, turning once or twice, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes each batch.
You can serve these with hot sauce or Tobasco (I dig the chipoltle with these), but honestly eating them plain's addictive enough.
I have absolutely nothing but nice stuff to say about Nashville Predators fans. The times that they've come to Phiips Arena - individually or as a Cell Block 303 road trip - they've been super polite, nice, and just really really fun to sit around. Heck, they even shook hands and said "great game" after the Thrashers' beat them here this past season. Their organization's always been accomodating for Thrashers fan club road trips up there. Predators bloggers are some of the best out there, with On the Forecheck leading the way, and of course Bloguin's own Fang Faction. Their crowds have the reputation of being absolutely electric, though how much of that has to do with the cluster of honkey-tonks near the arena remains to be seen.
I've never been up there to watch a game, though I probably will be going to at least a couple this year to catch the Blues. I can't go a whole year without NHL hockey - I haven't done it since 1999, and I don't want to revert to that hockey-free BS ever again. Will I be taking advantage of the "From Thrash to Gnash" plan that the Predators have? No, because I don't want to drive four hours and get a hotel room ten times a season, nor do I want to use the gas to go see two teams play just for the hell of it. Do I think it's smart, smart marketing by the Preds? Damn skippy I do. Are blog posts like this one from Tom Callahan wooing Thrashers fans while at the same time giving a shout out to the Gwinnett Gladiators a good call? Duh.
I appreciate Callahan not using the whole "hey, come see your old team play in their new gear!" angle. I, personally, have very little desire to watch the Jets play. It's nothing personal, and I still support the players and wish them all of the best, but it's tough. I'm sure that it's akin to what the Jets fans felt after their team moved to Phoenix. How many of them were geared up to watch the 'Yotes play? I'm not mad at Winnipeg, but it still kind of hurts, and I'm sure that the game on February 25th against the Blues will be hard to watch for me.
I'm also glad that Callahan didn't mention the trade in of old Thrashers gear for new Preds gear. Sure, my t-shirts and hoodies are boxed up (and I did need a little space, not gonna lie), but I don't want to get rid of it. Jets fans and Nordiques fans wore their stuff for years. Look at Whalers fans, God bless them. Heck, I'm sure there's still some guy rocking a Colorado Rockies jersey. I know I see a good bit of Atlanta Flames stuff. The Thrashers are one of my two teams, and I'm not going to look at my stuff, go "hey, what the heck, let's get rid of this" after supporting them for eleven years. I'll be wearing my jerseys to Glads games, I'm sure, if I don't get around to buying a Gladiators jersey.
I support what Nashville's doing from a business standpoint, and honestly I know a few people are going for those ticket packages. It's not for me, though. I can't be a fan of another Central Division team regardless of how much I respect the organization - and I respect the heck out of Nashville. And I can't trade in my Thrashers stuff and just pick up another team.
For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it was something I conjured up for Cycle Like The Sedins to combine my love of cooking (nom) with my love of hockey. Sadly, CLTS went the way of the dodo seeing as how we all have our own projects to work on, but I really liked my idea for the cooking series.
If you click on the link at the top of the page on the toolbar that says "Puck Pies," it'll take you to the whole category of recipes. I'll try to remember to update it every Monday or so. Of course, not all of these recipes are mine, and I'll give credit where credit is due, but you have to admit... nothing says hockey like snacky, high fat food. Heck, if I can think of something, I'll even toss up some beer pairings to go here.
I'll start things off with re-pubishing some of the greatest hits (ok, the only hits) from CLTS. Once the pre-season starts, I'll get some new things up.
Here's a preview of things to come - crustless pizza w/salami and Vermont cheddar. Go on and drool.