Sunday, September 27, 2009

I am ready for my close up, Mr. Treadmill

This is not a food blog but a story about my adventure into making a commercial. If you have ever read my profile you will know that I have lost 125 pounds and kept it off during the last 4 years. During that time I used a treadmill as part of my exercise program. Several months ago the manufacturer sent out an email asking for success stories and I sent them mine. Mine was one of 12 selected. On Thursday I flew to Portland OR by way of Houston TX from Raleigh/Durham NC. I guess they thought that it was not enough for me to fly all of the way across the US from east to west but they would send me to Houston so I could fly the US from North to South as well. A total of 5,862 miles in 2 days. I was gone for 36 hours and spent 21 hours in the air or at an airport. Take out 7 hours for sleep and I was in Portland for a total of 8 hours; about 4 of those hours I spent working on the commercial.

We were told to be ready to leave for the location at 6:15 AM. So I set my alarm for 5:15 AM. I am not sure why as my body is still on east coast time so I was up by 3:00 AM. I went to the lobby of the hotel around 6:00 AM and found I was not the only one in our group who couldn't sleep. There turned out to be 3 others: Laura, Perry and Matt. As we waited for our stretch limo to show up we talked about how far we had come. Our limo arrived about 5 minutes later. Our stretch limo turned out to be a Chevy minivan. We drove out of the city to an area I think was called Canyon Creek, but I am not sure. We went to a house high up on the side of a mountain that had a gorgeous view of the valley below. The house matched the view and you could have easily fit 3 of my houses inside of this one. They dropped us off by the pool overlooking the gardens and the vineyard. We waited for a 1/2 hour or so before they were ready to tell us what to do. I got to go first because I had to leave at 10:00 AM so I could get to the airport for my 12 1/2 hour flight home.

A gentleman, I think his name was Scott, walked with me through the gardens and talked with me. Scott had a small video camera that they were experimenting with and I was the first guinea pig.

Then I went to wardrobe, which was a corner of the 3 car garage. We were instructed to bring, workout, casual, business casual and dress clothes. "Critter" the wardrobe wizard, looked at me and said the clothes I had on were good for the interview. She wanted to see my workout clothes. I showed her my t-shirt and shorts and shoes. The shirt and shoes were fine but my shoes had a logo on them so she pulled a pair out of her Target bag (I think this is a hot new French designer). They had a logo on but it was much smaller then the one on my shoes. She took my work out clothes and the shoes and did her magic. She steamed the clothes to get the wrinkles out and painted the logo gray to match the shoe color so it would not stand out. While Critter was working on my clothes I was whisked off to makeup.

Make up was another corner of the garage, that is how I know what Critter did as I could see her the whole time. I cannot remember the makeup lady's name and I wish I could because she was very nice. I now have a new respect for women because sitting in that makeup chair seemed like hours, I think this is because everybody was watching me so they could see what to was going to happen to them. Apparently my eyes needed a lot of work as she spent most of her time poking me in the eye with various sizes and shapes of brushes. After I was sufficiently blinded, I was whisked off to the interview room. This room was on the lower level of the house and overlooked the pool and vineyards. They had 2 cameras aimed at a sofa that was turned backwards. I sat on the back of the sofa for the hour my interview took. They took a while to set the room up after I sat down to get rid of the weird shadows behind me. They removed and added furniture a couple of time to get things right. The room had large windows that looked out at the pool and the mountains in the background, but they put huge black screens over the windows so they could control the light in the room. Finally as we thought we were ready to start the interview the telephone rings. The phones were unplugged and then we were rolling. When the interview was finally over the screens and the furniture were removed so they could bring in the treadmill. I was amazed because when everything was moved I saw about 8 t0 10 additional people in the room that I did not know where there. I saw 3 camera men, Scott and a person who was standing at the edge of the screen who occasionally called Scott over and they whispered back and forth.

While they were setting up the treadmill, I was whisked off for still photos and then back to wardrobe to change into my freshly steamed clothes and painted shoes. After I changed it was back to the room. I only spent about 10 minutes with the treadmill mainly saying my name and the treadmills name. I also had to say a few bullet points about the treadmill. Then I had to go get still photos of me in work out clothes. Then it was all over. I changed back to street clothes after washing my makeup off, or at least I thought I washed it off. Every time I shower or wash I keep finding little spots of makeup that I somehow missed.

By this time it was 9:45 so I got to go grab some breakfast, my first food since I woke up at 3:00 AM. For the record since this is a food blog breakfast was an assortment of things everything from boxed cereal, bagels, pastries, various breakfast meats, breakfast burritos and bananas. Maybe if I would have got there earlier I would have gotten a better selection, but to me it all looked like buffet food that had been sitting out way too long but since we were outside there were no warming lights to keep it warm and nothing was done to make it look appetizing.

Then it was off to the car and back to the airport. Ransom, the lady who got us back and forth to the airport, hotel and shooting site handed me a stack of papers to sign in the car which basically gave the treadmill company the rights to use my story in their ads and website. By the way I got to keep the shoes with the logo painted over. They don't fit very well but since I was making a testimonial ad I can't get compensated so the shoes are my prize. I think I will bronze them and hang my size 12's from my Mini's rearview mirror.

Finally a special thanks goes to Laura Templeton. Laura was one of the other 3 people who were being taped when I was. She had enough foresight to bring here camera and took all of the pictures in this blog, well except the one above that she is in. Thanks for letting me use the photos Laura and congratulations on your weight loss!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Scallops with Guacamole and Corn & Rice Salad

This recipe is from southwestern Italy, ok not really but once in a while I have to make something non-Italian to keep the family happy. This one was inspired when I read an article where Bobby Flay was making scallops with avocado puree.

Scallops with Guacamole and Corn & Rice Salad

For the Scallops:
Scallops, I used 4 per person
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Guacamole use your favorite recipe or buy a good pre-made one

For the Corn and Rice Salad:
1 cup of left over rice
1 tsp cumin
1 ear of corn
1 tomato, small dice or cherry tomatoes cut in 1/2
2 scallions, finely cut
1 tortilla per person
No Stick Spray

Preheat your grill. While the grill is preheating put rice in a bowl. Cut the tomato and green onions and add to the rice. Mix the cumin in with the rice.

When the grill gets hot throw the ear of corn on the grill and let it get grill marks on all four sides. Remove the corn and let it cool down. While the corn is cooking spray the tortillas with the cooking spray on both sides. Put the tortillas on the grill. When the tortilla get grill marks on one side flip them over and get grill marks on side 2. Remove tortillas from grill. Watch the tortillas closely as they can go from no grill marks to burned very quickly.

Now remove the corn from the cob. Cut the stalk end so it is flat and put that end on the bottom of the rice bowl. Hold the pointy end of the corn and cut the corn kernels off the cob cutting as close to the cob as possible. Mix all of the ingredients together. Place the tortilla on a plate and then in the middle of the tortilla put a large scoop of the corn and rice mixture.

Now drizzle the scallops with olive oil, then sprinkle a little salt and pepper on them. Put them on a hot grill. When the first side gets grill marks flip them over. Be careful not to overcook scallops or they will be tough and chewy. Remove scallops and place on the tortilla around the corn and rice salad mixture. Top with a dollop of guacamole on each scallop or you could spread guacamole in 4 circles around the tortilla and sit the scallop in the center of each guacamole circle.

You could also add a little cilantro to the corn and rice salad.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Marinated Olives

This is a simple appetizer that takes very little active time to make.

Marinated Olives

2 cups Kalamata Olives
1 Orange, juiced and zested
1 Lemon, juiced and zested
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp Rosemary, finely chopped
1 tsp Lemon Thyme, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced

Put the olives in a medium bowl and add enough olive oil to cover the olives. Then add enough lemon and orange juice to make 1/2 cup of juice (I usually do 1/4 cup each but when oranges aren't in season I may add all lemon and omit the orange completely). You will need about 2 1/2 tsp of zest. Cut the zest finely so you don't get any long stringy pieces. Mix all of the remaining ingredients in the bowl. Let this marinate for at least 12 hours.

Any one want an extra dry martini with extra olives?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Limoncello Shrimp

Do you ever get a recipe idea stuck in your head, I have cooked it 5 or 10 times in my head. Tonight I finally cooked it. I am glad I did as this has to be one of the best recipes I ever invented.

Limoncello Shrimp

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon thyme, you could use any green herb that isn't real strong flavored
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup Limoncello
1 tsp butter

In a saute pan heat oil. While oil is heating mix the garlic, lemon zest and thyme together. When oil is hot but not shimmering add the garlic mix. Let it heat up until it becomes aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp. Toss the shrimp to coat with garlic mixture. Cook until shrimp is cooked 3 to 4 minutes depending on size. Remove shrimp from pan. Wipe out any burned garlic. Add Limoncello to pan and let it reduce to about 1/2 the original amount. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Drizzle this over the shrimp. The sauce will be very sweet but when it is added to the shrimp the flavors will balance out.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Grilled Vegetable Pasta

This dish is a good way to use up leftover vegetables. The ingredients I list below can be changed for just about any vegetables you have in your house. Try for about 4 cups of veggies for 8 ounces of pasta. The recipe below is for 8 ounces of pasta and feed 2 with enough left over for a lunch.

Grilled Vegetable Pasta

1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/4" pieces so you have 1/2 moons
1 yellow squash, cut just like zucchini
1/2 small red onion cut into slices and the rings separated
cherry tomatoes
Mushrooms, cut the hard end off from the stem and then slice mushrooms
1 red pepper, cut into 1" pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1" pieces
olive oil, enough to lightly coat the vegetables
1 tbs mixed dried herbs (basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, etc) I use dried here because they will be cooked on the grill. If you want to use fresh herbs add them after the veggies are grilled or as you are removing the veggies from the grill.
Parmesan curls for garnish.

Put a pot of water on to boil.
Start your grill.
Chop the veggies. Put veggies in a bowl and sprinkle with enough olive oil on them to coat the veggies. Add the herbs to the vegetables.
When the water boils add salt to the water, it should taste like the sea, I use about a table spoon. Add the pasta to the water. Put the veggies on the grill.
When the pasta is al dente remove it from the water and drain. Toss the veggies with the pasta when they are done. Put in the serving dish and drizzle with olive oil. Then with a potato peeler shave some parmesan cheese curls over the pasta.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lobster Boil

Ok, this one isn't Italian, but it is an American holiday weekend and this is a good easy recipe that can be changed to feed a crowd. You can add additional things like sausage to stretch it out to feed more people. This is one of my favorite meals.

Lobster Boil
4 lobster tails, I used 4 oz tails for this
24 shrimp
4 ears corn on the cob
4 potatoes or 8 small red ones
1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning

Fill a large stock pot with water, turned to high so water will boil. Add the red potatoes or if using larger potatoes cut them into smaller pieces and add them. Let them boil 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes start to get soft. Add the Old Bay and the lobsters. After 5 minutes add corn and shrimp and let boil 3 or 4 minutes longer until shrimp are cooked. Drain off water and put the food in a big bowl. Enjoy and put out lots of napkins. You may want to put out butter, salt, pepper for corn and potatoes, cocktail sauce for shrimp and melted butter for lobster. Oh yea, don't forget an ice cold beer.