Monday, April 11, 2011

Know When To Hold Em

Chuck & I got away this weekend. For about 28 hours, anyway. We headed over to Tunica, MS, entertainment capital of the Delta for some rest, relaxation & good music. I mean, how often does one get the opportunity to see Gary Allan live??? Apparently for me, every few months. Don't judge. And Chuck caught him once at Riverfest without me. But it's never enough. Ever. The man is hot & can sing. Enough said.

We started out in typical fashion with Chuck having a traditional last-minute panic attack that the car wasn't clean enough. So we (read that "I") had to make a trip through the car wash, so as not to be offensive to any hitchhikers we picked up along the way. Then we realized we forgot the concert tickets so I went back home and got those. That seems to be a tradition for us too. We ALWAYS forget tickets. After watching Brooks' ballgame, we turned the kiddos over to my Dad (and Jimb0) & hit the road. Except Chuck forgot to get cash. So we had to find an ATM, which, of course, was out of cash. So we had to use the "indispensable" bank app to locate another EVEN THOUGH I WAS TELLING HIM THE ENTIRE TIME, "On JFK Blvd, in Park Hill! You don't need no stinkin' app! C'mon, we're burnin' daylight". Once we got cash, we had an uneventful trip to Memphis. But only because I refused to stop and dance at a strip club along I-40 to earn Chuck some gambling money. (He wasn't serious, holy relatives & friends. Do stop reading to fan yourself a moment. Or drink some liquor. It does a body good.)

But oh, Lord! We hit Memphis. And he thinks we need to use the iPhone map app to get directions even though he has been before and knows the way, cause that makes sense, RIGHT? My husband is the king of utilizing technology unnecessarily. I was like, "Just drive SOUTH. We won't be that far off if it's not this road." So that launches a few miles of discord until I win by refusing to touch the phone & we're all happy again. All two of us. Driving along this lonesome highway that reminds me very much of Missouri Hwy. 60, between Dexter & Sikeston. Which is to say, desolate, unpopulated, dusty farmland. And then....all of a sudden there's Harrah's! "Turn here!" See? Who needs a damn app? Easier than following a yellow brick road.

We check in & decide to save Paula Deen's Buffet for breakfast thinking she'll serve up some hearty grub in the morning too. Right now we want to eat something substantial & well, a little nice. Actually, Chuck wants to sleep but no one sleeps on vacation with a Swafford unless it's after 11 p.m. & you've been given express permission from Noelle or Norm to close your eyes. Period. (Just try us. Goofy Golf at 9:00 p.m. in Florida? Who's in? Not Chuck or Debbie.) I digress. We choose Jack Binion's Steakhouse, which is conveniently located in the same casino at the Bluesville joint where Gary is playing. We take a 6:15 reservation and head out. I suggest that we ask the desk clerk exactly how to get over to the Horseshoe Casino but I should know better than to suggest something so clearly out of line and ILLOGICAL. Because why? Because the iPhone has a fucking map app on it, RIGHT? I'm going to cut this part short and say that the 2 mile trip ended with me saying, "Just shut the hell up & drive toward that tower! And USE THE VALET OR BE KILLED." We made it. Will he ever learn?

Jack Binion's Steakhouse was great. My knowledge of the Binion casino empire is much more extensive than Chuck's because for about three years, anytime I was editing client photos or sitting on my ass, I had crime TV on. So I knew that Jack's dad, Benny, founded the Horsehoe Casino brand and Jack's brother, Ted, who was also in the business & heavily into drugs was allegedly murdered by his stripper girlfriend and another of her boyfriends but both were later acquitted after initially being found guilty. (I'm nothing if not good for an impromptu round of Jeopardy, folks. Please begrudge me that.) Anyway, we were seated and I loved that we had one of those high-backed, semi-circular, plush booths where you scoot in and sit beside each other. Seriously, I felt like I was having an illicit affair with JR Ewing at the Cattlemen's Club, except Chuck failed to remember to wear his Stetson. Seated next to us was an obvious high roller with his even-more-obvious mail-order Oriental bride. They were complaining to the manager that the food was awful and that the waiter did not like them. So initially we thought we might have made a mistake in choosing our dinner locale, but thank God, it appeared that they were just trying to get out of buying a nice meal because the food (NY Strip & Filet of Salmon) was to die for. I highly recommend it. And James, the same waiter to the other couple, had no problem whatsoever with US. But really, I'm nothing if not charming, to MOST.

As for the concert, we ALL know I love Gary Allen and I've seen him more times than I've birthed babies but dear God, the man can perform. It was no less awesome than any other time I've seen him. And if you get a chance to catch someone you really like at Bluesville, inside the Horseshoe, please do it because it's an excellent venue for live music.

I'll spare you the rest of the details from our trip but suffice it to say we had a great time & as for the "How much did you win???" question........we lost $3 that we put in a slot machine to try to win my mother a fortune. Yes, we went to Tunica & gambled exactly $3. I know, right? Not big gamblers, the Buttrys. Actually, if you count the quarter that rolled under the Pepsi machine at midnight, we lost $3.25. And we found our way back home without once using the phone.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Want My Mullet Back (Not yet available on iTunes)

You've probably been asked what you would grab besides your family if your home caught fire. This is one of the things I would grab. It's one of those things I don't ever want to lose because it makes me smile & it perfectly captures the essence of who Wyatt is. He wrote it in the 3rd grade around age 8 at the height of his Weird Al obsession. (I guess it was before he had an official "Rap Notebook".) I'm glad he did it at home because I'm confident his 3rd grade teacher would have tossed it. I don't really expect any of my kids to take a traditional path in life, which mystifies some of our relatives, but in my house, "creativity & happiness" trump perfection. I may not be right, but only time will tell. It's worked pretty well so far for my dad and me.

And now for the translation, since legible handwriting has never been Wyatt's forte':

I want my mullet back!
Too bad I'm gettin' fat! I'll just use my Cardinals hat!
Oh, I forgot that I'm the "King of Cellulite"! (ok, that line could use some work, originally he spelled it cellulat!)

What could I wear?
Prada, Juicy Couture? (sister's influence is obvious)
How about what Jimmy Buffet wore on tour?

I could wear a trendsetter hat!
No, that's lame. I can't decide.
What a shame!

It's like it's right beside meeeee.
I need to fleeeee!
I know what it is --- Gucciiiiii!

Now what kind of music do I need?
Bow-wow? Fergie? Yuck!
I guess I'm having no luck!
The Dixie Chicks? Too girly!
I'll find someone, surely!
Not Bon Jovi or Buddy Holly...

I need to find him quick!
Who should I pick?
How about Weird Al Yankovic?

Yes, that's it!

Written by: Wyatt Buttry

I really do adore my three.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Greek Salad with Chickpeas

(Recipe from Everyday Food: A Martha Stewart Magazine - March 2011, if you have it!)

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (a small one is best)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and ground pepper
1 small to medium cucumber, peeled & cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 C grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 C crumbled feta cheese (2 oz)
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1/2 C pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped (got mine at Kroger's olive bar - LOVE!)
1/2 C lightly packed fresh parsley leaves (I cut mine up with kitchen scissors)

1. In large bowl, combine chopped onion, lemon juice and olive oil & season with salt and pepper to your liking. Toss well to combine & let sit 5 minutes. (I photographed this step just to show you my cool measuring spoons. Love that they're rectangular. I got mine at Williams-Sonoma but apparently you can also get them here.)
2. Add cucumber, tomatoes, feta, chickpeas, olives & parsley.
3. Season again with salt & pepper & toss to combine. (I photographed this step just because I thought it looked pretty with the red tomatoes before I tossed it completely :-)
4. Divide among four bowls and serve immediately.

5. We served ours with buttered, un-toasted French bread & corn-on-the-cob. YUM. I also have a recipe for this delicious Mediterranean cheese bread with olives and I will post when I find where I've misplaced it. It is wonderful!

Nutritional info, if you care: per serving - 306 cal. * 16g fat * 9g protein * 34g carbs * 6g fiber

Note: I had never used chickpeas in a recipe before but found them to be quite good. Just so you won't have to put out an urgent plea on Facebook to locate them in the grocery store like I did, they're with the beans. And they're also called 'garbanzo beans'. And no one in Kroger will be able to help you find them but if you run into my friend, Tom Colford, he'll do his darndest to help you.

My mom LOVED it. Chuck devoured one bowl and a corn-on-the-cob, went to baseball practice, came home and ate what was left. And he complimented me again this morning. I liked it too. The kids just said, "Ewww, what IS that?"

Also, the flatware in the last photo is my favorite I've ever had & it's dirt-cheap from Wal-Mart, baby! I love it. Simple, clean-lined, modern. Who knew?