Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Parties - Tiki Party (food)

Mad About ... Parties

(This is a continuation of the Tiki Party post. I decided to break it up into several posts to make it a little more manageable. The original post was dated December 14 and can, quickly, be found in Labels under "Parties.")

Nuts and Bolts
(Pile this up in some of your little bowls and let people munch as they mingle)

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c bacon fat
1/2 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. garlic salt
2 tsp. celery salt
4 c. mixed nuts
4 c. wheat Chex
4 c. rice Chex
2 c. (plain) Cheerios
2 c. thin pretzels
1 8-10 oz. package of Cheeze-its or other cheese cracker snack

Preheat oven to 200F.
Melt butter and combine, in pan, with oil and bacon fat. Stir in Worcestershire sauce. Add salts. Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes. In a large roasting pan combine buts, cereals, pretzels and cheese snacks. Pour sauce over and toss. Bake, uncovered, for 2 hours. Turn every 30 minutes.
This recipe makes 5 quarts, so you can send some home with people in bags.

Salmon Mousse with crackers
(Serving suggestion: lay some banana leaves on a white platter or large plate; in the middle of the mold, arrange tropical flowers; around the mold arrange crackers.)
Recipe by Martha Stewart

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4 ounce packet)
4 ounces smoked salmon, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 c. sour cream
1 to 2 Tbsp lemon juice
coarse salt

Place 3 Tbsp. cold water in a small saucepan, and sprinkle with gelatin; let soften, 5 minutes. Gently heat over low, stirring, just until gelatin dissolves; set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine salmon, sour cream and lemon juice. Puree until smooth; season with salt. With motor running, add slightly cooled gelatin mixture, and blend until combined.
Pour into large ring mold or ramekins; I recommend a ring mold for this situation. Without touching the surface, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight.

Shrimp Cocktail
(If you buy frozen shrimp, look for "flash-frozen", this means it's frozen at sea. You can thaw a day ahead. If you are buying fresh, get it the day of your party and follow the directions bellow. I'm providing three cocktail sauce recipes - you can pick one or try all three! Look up more of the recipes at
Shrimp recipe by Martha Stewart, Cocktail Sauces by

2 pounds large shrimp ((16 to 18 count)
4 quarts water
1 halved lemon
2 dried bay leaves
1 Tbsp. salt

Prepare shrimp: Hold each shrimp, leg side up, and peel shell from inside curve, leaving tail intact. To devein, gently run a pairing knife along center of outside curve from head to tail, exposing vein. Remove vein, wash shrimp.
Fill a large pot with 4 quarts water; add lemon, bay leaves, and salt. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Return to a boil. Add shrimp. Cook until bright pink and opaque, about 1 minute 5 seconds.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer shrimp to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; cover with ice, and let cool, about 5 minutes. (To store, fill a bowl 3/4 full with ice. Put shrimp in reusable plastic bags. Place atop ice; cover with more ice. Refrigerate up to one day, replenish ice as needed.)
Arrange shrimp along the rim of an ice-filled bowl; set smaller bowl of cocktail sauce in the middle of the bowl and surround with tropical flowers.

Basic Cocktail Sauce
1 c. tomato ketchup
1/2 tsp. chili powder
dash of cayenne powder
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 large minced garlic clove

In a small mixing bowl, add all ingredients. Mix until even and consistent. Transfer to a serving dish. You can make this a day ahead to let the flavors mingle.

Wasabi Cocktail Sauce 
4 c. tomato ketchup
4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. wasabi paste
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt

In a medium size mixing bowl, add all ingredients. Mix until even and consistent. Transfer to a serving dish. You can make this a day ahead to let the flavors mingle.

Japanese Cocktail Sauce
2 c. mayonnaise
4 slices of canned peaches
3/4 c. mineral water
1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato ketchup
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to a blender. Pulse until you have a smooth and even texture. Transfer to a serving dish. You can make this a day ahead to let the flavors mingle.

Cocktail Sausages with Roasted Pineapple
(Serve in a shallow bowl with a few toothpicks stuck in some of the sausages, and more in a serving dish on the side. Cocktail sausages (or "weenies") have been around for awhile and are super kitschy.)

2 (15 oz) packages cocktail sausages
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple (un-drained)
1 c. apricot preserves
1 c. brown sugar

In a skillet, lightly brown sausages. In a large bowl, mix pineapple, apricot preserves and brown sugar. Add to the sausages; simmer for 30 minutes.

Polynesian-style Ham with brown-mustard and blackberry jelly
To make life easier, buy a pre-cooked ham. Slice into thick slices and then dice into medium squares - big enough to spear with a toothpick.
In a medium saucepan, mix 1 c. brown mustard and 1 c. blackberry jelly. Simmer over low heat, until it's a little runny.
Place ham in a large baking dish. Pour sauce over and toss, making sure every piece is coated.
Bake until caramelized in a 350F oven.
It's not rocket science!

Hawaiian Coleslaw
(In the spirit of finger foods, consider serving in lettuce cups)

4 c. shredded cabbage
1 (11 ounce) can of mandarin oranges, drained and liquid reserved
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 c. crushed pineapple, drained
1/3 c. mayonnaise

In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, 1 Tbsp. reserved orange juice, salt, ginger, nutmeg and pepper. Toss pineapple and orange into the mixture. Stir in mayonnaise until evenly coated. Chill before serving.
As I noted above, you an serve this in lettuce cups to make it a little more handy. If you do go down that route, make the cups and arrange on a large platter that has been lined with banana leaves and strewn with chunks of fruit. If you prefer to leave in a bowl and let people serve themselves, put out with tongs and tuck a large tropical flower in the middle or off to the side.

Ambrosia Fruit Salad
(Perfectly old school!)

1/2 c. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
4 ounces sour cream
3 c. (approx.) mini marshmallows
1 c. Clementine orange segments (approx. 6 Clementine)
1 c. chopped fresh pineapple (canned is fine, just make sure to drain well)
1 c. freshly grated coconut (bagged coconut is fine, make sure it's unsweetened)
1 c. toasted, chopped pecans
1/2 c. drained maraschino cherries

Place the cream and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip until stiff peaks are formed. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine. You can use a hand-held mixer, or, even do it by hand. Add the marshmallows, oranges, pineapple, coconut, pecans and cherries and stir to combine. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
I recommend serving this in you most elaborate looking bowl and embellishing with lots of tropical flowers.

Rum-Soaked Grilled Fruit Skewers
(Make sure to soak your wooden skewers in cold water over night. This prevents any flair ups or burning when you grill.)

1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/4 c. jelly made from tropical fruits - your choice
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. dark rum

40 1-inch chunks of assorted tropical fruit: mango, papaya, pineapple, kiwi fruit, and star fruit.

Make the marinade: blend orange juice, jelly, mustard, ginger and curry powder in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Add lime juice and rum.
Assemble skewers: thread four pieces of fruit onto skewer. Arrange in a shallow container. Pour marinade over, cover, refrigerate. Turn the skewers every so often. You can marinate for 3 hours or even overnight.
To grill: if you are using a multi-level grill, place the skewers on the upper rack. Cook until heated and slightly browned in some places. If you are using a single-level grill, keep the heat low and to one side, if you can. Cook to the same consistency.
Serve on a platter, lined with banana leaves. Pile the skewers as high as you can and tuck a few tropical flowers in there.

There you have it! Give yourself two weeks to get yourself together. Go through the check list, send out your invitations, time the cooking/serving, time the prep/serving of the drinks, buy all the decorations and supplies. In the days leading up to the party, try to get any food prep out of the way. The night before, decorate and set out all of your serving dishes so you have optimal space. The day of? Relax! Don't stress. As I said before, something is bound to go wrong and if it all goes belly up - have the number for pizza delivery near by. At least the drinks taste great, right?

Parties - Tiki Party (drinks)

Mad About ... Parties

(This is a continuation of the Tiki Party post. I decided to break it up into several posts to make it a little more manageable. The original post was dated December 14 and can, quickly, be found in Labels under "Parties.")

When it comes to drinks, mix them up ahead of time and store in pitchers. You're already familiar with the Mai Tai and the Zombie - find recipes for both in the Cocktail section. Let's try out two new ("new") drinks:

Pina Colada
one part white rum
one part cream of coconut
three parts pineapple juice

Shake with crushed ice until smooth. In this case you might want to blend them in a blender just before everyone arrives and stash in a large pitcher in the fridge. Serve in a coconut shell, if you dare.
(What's this "one part" business? Just gives you the freedom to make the drink as fun as you like.)

Tiki Punch
8 ounces triple sec
8 ounces gin
3 ounces fresh lime juice
1 1/2 liters chilled champagne

Mix triple sec, gin and lime. Pour over large chunk of ice in a punch bowl. Stir and chill for half an hour. At serving time add the champagne. A fun idea is to freeze chunks of exotic fruits and float them in the punch. They act as ice cubes and impart a little flavor to the drink.

Parties - Tiki Party (run through)

Mad About ... Parties

(This is a continuation of the Tiki Party post. I decided to break it up into several posts to make it a little more manageable. The original post was dated December 14 and can, quickly, be found in Labels under "Parties.") 

Tiki Party
It only makes sense that my sample party be centered around Tiki culture! This is a template for a party. Obviously, you might want to do something different.

Date/Time: About two weeks before Christmas/4 pm - 9 pm (let's people mingle outside while the sun is still out and wraps things up early enough so you can clean up and relax).
Location: Home, in the backyard and living room/dining room.
Theme: Tiki Christmas party.
Number of Guests: Approximately 20 people - keeping it a small gathering.
Menu: See post.

Plates: Smaller cocktail plates - paper - in tropical designs and brightly colored plates. Shuffle them before setting out, so there is a selection.
Napkins: Plain white cocktail napkins with a small Christmas detail.
Cups: Clear plastic tumblers and champagne flutes. Since the gathering is pretty small, bust out some Tiki glasses.
Cutlery: Multi-color toothpicks and clear plastic forks.
Tablecloth: Plain white plastic table covering, tapped down. Over that, a plain white tablecloth.
Tableskirting: Grass skirt! Even though table skirts tend to be fancy, doesn't mean you can't get creative with it!
Serving Accessories: Plain white is always a good call because it can be embellished with decorations. Here it could also be fun to use retro-looking bowls or even natural bowls, made from hollowed out melons of coconuts.

Candy/Nut Cups: As mentioned above, little bowls are the best. For a Tiki party, kitschy is better.
Place Cards: Always stick with plain white cards, for the reasons I listed above, but embellish with one or two stickers in your tropical theme.

Centerpieces: Since this is a Christmas party, it only seems fitting that the tree be the centerpiece! A fake tree would be super retro, though natural is always nice. Some chunky, colorful lights; tinsel and retro decorations are a nice touch.
Room Decor: More lights, especially those big chunky, colorful lights that your grandparents probably put out, are perfect. Some other nice touches: snowflakes, fir garlands and tropical flowers and fruits.
Outdoor: The Tiki torches I recommended above are perfect for this occasion. Some more lights and paper lanterns keep it festive and shed some light.
Candles: Outside, bug-repellent candles are best. Cluster small groups of tea lights, or slightly bigger candles, on tables tops. Inside, big chunky candles with some banana leaves and holly circling them.
Confetti: Look for some snowflake shapes and tropical shapes; pineapples, palm trees and star fish are fun examples.

Invitations: If you do chose to send out paper invitations, go totally retro. You can make the cards yourself and print off some 1960's Christmas designs and Tiki designs. For a small party, it can go either way. Since the guest list is pretty small, addressing paper invitations isn't that big of a deal. Emailing the RSVP invitation and then sending physical invites to those that have confirmed, is a good compromise.
Thanks You Notes: If you like, you can keep the theme going but plain cards are just fine.

Party Favors: There's a fun British tradition of using "crackers" - they are a little weird to describe, but the basic idea is a tube that is filled with toys and a paper crown. You "crack" them open and fun ensues.
Candy: A couple sampler boxes of See's Candies is easy and always welcomed.
Goodie Bags: Mini-bottles of rum, candy, Christmas card - plain bag with tropical stickers.
Hats: You can check this off your list if you use the crackers. If not, then you can skip it or pick up something to your liking.

A good mix of Christmas songs and Bossa Nova will put everyone in the mood. Make your own play list and press play.

Parties - Tiki Party (miscellaneous)

Mad About ... Parties

(This is a continuation of the Tiki post. I decided to break it up into several posts to make it a little more manageable. The original post was dated December 14 and can, quickly, be found in Labels under "Parties.")

Party Favors
There is nothing kitschy-er than party favors! Noise makers, like horns, kazoos, slide flutes, oh my! These are also available at party supply stores in a variety of colors and designs. You can leave some around your party space, on a coffee table or displayed in bowls and cups so people can grab them at any time.

Disposable Cameras (optional)
Most people don't use these much anymore, what with digital cameras and camera phones being so prevalent. But you can pick them up for cheap and scan whatever you develop onto your computer. If you'd rather not buy them, suggest that your guests bring their own cameras or even use their phones and send you pictures. Just make sure to take some pictures!

Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker. Meaning: don't sweat it. Keep in mind that you only need to put out one or two things, since there will be other foods to pick at. For Christmas-time, you can set out a selection of chocolates from See's Candy. Hersey Kisses are always nice, same with M&M's. During summer you can put out funky candies, like those sugar coated gummy candies or Laughy Taffy.

Goodie/Loot bags
These are some of my favorite things. I obsess over them whenever I plan a party, devoting much more time to them then I should. I like to get solid bags, not see-through, so when people receive them it's a surprise. You can get bags with designs on them or in solid colors that match your theme. Brown or white paper bags are fun to decorate, too.
What you put in them is up to you. For strictly adult parties I recommend tossing in some mini bottles of booze - highlighting alcohol you used in that evening's drinks. Home made treats are always nice, as are vintage candies. Have fun with it!

Piñata (optional)
Traditional to birthday parties, piñatas are a fun way to get everyone involved. Piñatas come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so there's a good chance you will find one that fits your theme and needs. A small piñata is a good call for whatever the occasion. And, just like with the Goodie Bags, if you are having an adults only party fill the piñata with mini booze bottles.

Hats (optional)
You can keep these optional or just use them on certain occasions - birthday parties, New Year's Eve, etc. I like the traditional cone hats with the elastic band - it's pretty retro. But elaborate crowns and men's hats are a blast. Pick up a selection and let your guests chose.

Those are the basics. Don't think that you have to do everything or buy everything on that list. The main thing to remember is that you want your guests to be comfortable and to have fun. If you really don't have the means to all the extra stuff on the list, don't worry about it! Make sure to check discount warehouses, "99 cent stores" and second-hand shops - they usually have great deals.

Parties - Tiki Party (social stationary)

Mad About ... Parties

(This is a continuation of the Tiki Party post. I decided to break it up into several posts to make it a little more manageable. The original post was dated December 14 and can, quickly, be found in Labels under "Parties.")

Depending on how formal your gathering is, you might want to forgo the actual stationary and visit a website like They offer thousands of designs for any occasion. Make sure you give as much information as you can; some people like to put out an RSVP invitation and then give the location/direction once they have a head count. It's a good way to weed out party crashers and flaky people. Facebook is another great way to reach out to people, though I suggest using that for smaller informal gatherings or big casual gatherings, when you need to reach lots of people.
Paper invitations are a great option. They can be elegant and classy, reserved for the most special of occasions. Or you can design and print them up at home. It's a nice personal touch, but not necessary; with technology so a part of our day-to-day life, the email invite is hardly considered tacky. But keep the tangible invitation in mind - it could be a fun touch.

Thank You Notes
I think "Thank You Notes" are a lovely touch that has, sadly, fallen out of fashion. It's such a personal touch and, these days, people are pleasantly surprised by them. You can by blank "Thank You" cards at most stores, like Target. You don't need to get anything super fancy - though if you did, it wouldn't be the worst thing ever. Just a simple "thanks" and a small notation is more than enough.

Parties - Tiki Party (decorations)

Mad About ... Parties 

(This is a continuation of the Tiki Party post. I decided to break it up into several posts to make it a little more manageable. The original post was dated December 14 and can, quickly, be found in Labels under "Parties.") 

You don't have to sacrifice fun just because your budget is small. One of the easiest ways to get more bang for your buck is to pick one kind of decoration and spend most of your budget on that. Flowers, balloons, streamers, etc. will take center stage. And remember that you are decorating with all of your supplies, too.
Centerpieces (optional)

I am a big fan of centerpieces because they capture the theme of your party and condense it into one explosion of color and design. You can have one big centerpiece and then a few smaller variations strategically set around your space. Centerpieces don't just have to be flowers! You can use fruit, rocks, jewels, etc. to make a statement. And don't forget the vessel it's in either; find an interesting vase, bowl, etc. to display. And, if you like, you can send them home with some of your guests - it's a nice gesture.

Room decor (cutouts, streamers, banners) (optional)
These could best be called accessories. I love accessories. You may already have fun little accents laying about the house or you may have found something when you were shopping - elaborate on that. But be frugal; the best rule to keep in mind is simple is chic. There are cases for excess - the aforementioned "Tiki party" is one. Just remember that if you go crazy it's going to come off as kitschy; if that's not what you were going for, scale it back a little.

Balloons (optional)
These are optional but they do add a nice touch. You can go big and make a balloon archway, or just bundle a few and strategically place them around your space. Balloons are great for backyard parties and they add a splash of color to any occasion. Plus, they are deliciously retro - I can't think of one movie from the 80's where the prom scene didn't have hundreds of balloons.

Outdoor (yard signs, banners, etc.) (optional)
Yard signs and banners are best if you're having a big theme party and want to let people know where your location is. They can be posted in your front yard or on the door; or, if you are at a park or the beach, post a sign at the entrance of the parking lot and pin up your banner at the actual location. Balloons would work well here, of course. It's important that you make sure your sign and banner is eye catching; if you have a very specific theme, make sure that it shows.

Warm lighting is flattering lighting. Of course, if your party is during the day then you may not want to bother. Candles are versatile - you can float them in a swimming pool, use them in Chinese lanterns, place them in your centerpieces, etc. I don't really suggest burning scented candles - it can over-power the food you're serving and some people may be put off by the fragrances. I'm going to group torches in here; torches don't have to be regulated to just Tiki themes - they are all purpose and make a fun addition to any backyard space. Try to pick up torches that have bug repellent in them - same goes for out door candles.

Confetti (optional)
Sure, it's seems silly (and it can kind of be a bitch to clean up) but confetti is really fun. Strew it around, on your buffet and the bar, on a coffee table or tables where people will be sitting. A Christmas party would be even more fun with white "snow" confetti. And sparkly gold and silver confetti on New Year's Eve? Give everyone a handful at midnight and enjoy. Confetti is pretty cheap and you can even make it at home. Give it a try!

Parties - Tiki Party (party supplies)

Mad About ... Parties

(This is a continuation of the Tiki Party post. I decided to break it up into several posts to make it a little more manageable. The original post was dated December 14 and can, quickly, be found in Labels under "Parties.")

Party Supplies
This is another fun way to express yourself; consider whatever your theme is and emphasis it with your supplies. This also cuts down on expenses - there's no reason to blow your budget on tons of pricey decorations, if you don't have a lot to spend. Let the little details speak for you.

You can use regular china if you like, especially if it's a smaller gathering, but it's recommended that you go for paper plates. Try to find the sturdiest plates available and match the color/pattern to your theme. As for size, it's always better to err on the side of smaller; if you are doing a buffet, you can opt for regular sized plates, but if it's just nibbles and canapés, stick with smaller cocktail plates. And always buy extra - people like to throw away their plates or forget them somewhere.

Cloth napkins are an elegant option but, again, reserve those for smaller gatherings. Simple and sturdy is all you really need. If you like, you can match the color or design. If your plates match the theme, you napkins don't really need to - and visa verse. However, if you want to go all out, then by all means - do so! Going over-board is perfect for something like a "Tiki Party." Sizing is the same as plates - make sure they are equal to each other. And, yes, buy more than you think you'll need.

While glass sounds like it could be fun, it's not. You don't want to be washing every glass you own for hours after the party - and you don't want to clean up the inevitable broken glasses. So, even for smaller gatherings, opt for plastic. Not those horrible red plastic cups - those just scream "frat party/date rape." No, a nice clear plastic is just fine. Most craft or party supply stores offer a wide variety of styles, including cocktail and champagne flutes. Again, how crazy you want to get is up to you, but it's always good to have some simple 4-6 ounce glasses.

This all depends on if you are actually going to need it. As I suggested above, finger foods are the best choice for parties. So consider toothpicks as part of "cutlery." You can find all sorts of fun toothpicks at party supply stores, boutiques (like Cost Plus) and even your grocery store. Look for some with different colors, designs carved into them, and some that are made of unique material, like bamboo. Buy tons - and I mean tons. You will never have enough. Now, if you do need cutlery, get plastic - it's easy and disposable. There are a lot of options when it comes to plastic - clear, plain white and a variety of colors. I suggest clear since it goes with anything. Even if you are serving with toothpicks, have a box of plastic cutlery on hand just in case someone asks for a fork, knife or spoon.

Essential. The last thing you want to worry about is cleaning your own table cloth or the table beneath it, later on. Stash your everyday table cloth and use one purchased specifically for the party; if it gets ruined you can throw it out and be done with it. Basic white is always nice, same with a crisp black - but do whatever you like, especially if there is a specific theme. Pick up a plastic table cover as well and tape it to your table, then cover with the cloth.
Tableskirting (optional)
These are totally optional. They look nice and are pretty fancy but are hardly essential. If you do get one, they are best for more elegant gatherings and should be in solid colors.

Serving Accessories (bowls, trays, utensils, doilies)
If you have your own selection of serving accessories, by all means, break them out! Now is the time to show off your wears. And even though you may not think you do, you probably have some stuff that will suffice. The important thing is to take stock of what you need. Think about the dishes and how you want to serve them, then look at what you have. If your cupboards are bare, then go shopping. But I don't suggest buying disposable here - instead, go to your local Goodwill store or a second-hand shop and find something fun. It's also perfectly acceptable to ask friends if you can borrow things.
A word on doilies: they are, as a rule, terrible. But they serve a purpose; lay down a doily, place mat, etc. and you instantly add flair to your table. They help with spills, too. Just know that, here, "doily" is an all-purpose word and can mean any sort of place mat.

Candy/Nut Cups
I will elaborate more on including nuts, candies, fruit, etc. on your menu, but for now you should just remember that they will be served. Have enough small-ish bowls to set around your space, so people can reach out and grab a snack. They can be simple white or really fun and creative - matching the theme of your party. A fun alternative to basic bowls are vintage ash trays. When my grandmother gave up smoking, she had a fantastic collection of these weird, colorful, metal ash trays and she would put candy in them.

Place Cards (optional)
These may seem a little formal, but they are actually very helpful. A basic card stock is more than fine, in white, with the name of the dish neatly printed on it. You can add a fun little design to the side, but keep it simple; people will be reading the card to see what the name of the dish is and if they can't see the name then what's the point? They are also helpful because it keeps guests from asking you repeatedly what's on the table. Making some notation of whether or not the dish is vegetarian, Kosher, etc. is a nice touch.

If you think of anything else that you may need, make sure to write it down so you don't forget to pick it up.
Buy everything you need a week before the party, but leave it in it's packaging. If you happen to see something else that you like in the mean time, you can always buy that and return it's original. Check off everything once you buy it, so you know what you have and what you still may need to buy. Keep in mind: the more organized you are, the easier things will go for you. Besides, it hardly takes more than a few minutes to jot down a list and check things off of it.

Pauvre de moi!

Ugh. Just ... ugh.

I've been sick for awhile and have only begun to get better. Added to that: my internet took a dump for almost a week. It's fine now. Everything is fine now. Fine. Fine. Fine! I just dislike all these pauses in productivity. And I'm no help to myself - I've got Conan on in the background and it's making it hard to concentrate.

But I'd like to just get back into it and finish out "Men's Week" and keep rolling along.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Books - "Sterling's Gold"

If you follow the fantastic TV show Mad Men, then you are aware of Roger Sterling's autobiography. Many ad men at the time (the 1960's, duh) wrote autobiographies or "tell alls" detailing their time in Madison Avenue advertising agencies. But most of those men were the creative types - like Don Draper. Roger, on the other hand, was an account executive and spent most of his time keeping clients happy. His position as Senior Partner of Sterling Cooper came later in life and was practically handed to him by way of his father. Coming from old money, Roger lived an entitled life, spoiled by his position in society.
This made for some great stories. And, sadly, none are here in this book. The few snippets we heard during various episodes had me chomping at the bit. Occasionally we are treated to excerpts from Roger's life but for the most part, this is a book of quotes. Good quotes but quotes nonetheless.

Reading the book, you are treated to:
"When a man gets to a point in his life when his name's on the building, he can get an unnatural sense of entitlement."

"I'll tell you what brilliance in advertising is: 99 cents. Somebody thought of that."

"My dad used to say, 'This is the greatest job in the world except for one thing - the clients.' "

Roger's view on the art of seduction.
"See her this weekend. You hit it off? Come turkey day, maybe you can stuff her."

"Remember, when god opens a door, he opens a dress."

Roger's views on drinking.
"You don't know how to drink. Your whole generation. You drink for the wrong reasons. My generation? We drink because it's good. Because it feels better than unbuttoning your collar. Because we deserve it. We drink because it's what men do."

"We can solve this problem with a flask."

Roger's views on business ethics.
"I try to be as civilized as you can be."

"Since when is forgiveness a better quality than loyalty."

Roger's views on women.
"I like redheads. Their mouths are like drops of strawberry jam in a glass of milk."

If anything, you'll learn some fun bon mots to drop at your next cocktail party or around the office. But I don't suggest you run out and buy a copy right away. At $16.95 it's not a very good deal. But the novelty factor is pretty great (the cover is an exact replica of that in the show) but you're better off ordering it on Amazon or simply waiting till it goes on sale.


Since I completely pissed off and didn't post yesterday, you get an extra today. This is a cocktail recipe from Ricky the Bartender and is for everyone. But, guys? Make a batch for your next holiday shin-dig and you will be a hero.

Cocktails - Hot Buttered Rum

With the nights growing quite chill (and here in southern California, rather damp), it's time we turn to comfort. And what's more comforting than a warm cocktail? Maybe two. Make a batch and cuddle up with someone special. And if there's no one special enough, call over some friends!

This kind of retro drink goes so far back we find ourselves outside of the current century. But that's OK; it's a classy concoction and we are all about class. And rum.
The history of this drink is ... odd. In the later half of the 1800's America was divided by many things, alcohol was one of them. In the south it was whiskey (unless you were a plantation owner, then it was imported French brandy and the like). Rye was the poison of choice in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. New Jersey - applejack. New Orleans - brandy. Out west it was every man for himself. Ohio and the newer Midwest states were stoking the flames of prohibition. This leaves New England.
It was rum or get out of town. And who can blame them? The history of their rum trade is a sordid story and I'm not going to get into the particulars here - just Google "Triangle Trade" and you'll get an eye-full.
Anyway, whatever wasn't exported they drank. They drank it anyway they could - hot, cold, straight, mixed. They drank it with water, juice, sugar, other boozes and all manner of Christmas spices. They even drank it with egg, milk, cream, and - yes - butter. Why? Still not sure. Charles Browne claims it's there to lubricate the mustache. Either way, it's a hot toddy - meant to warm you during the cold months. Even today, most New Englanders will tout the medicinal properties of rum. And who are we to argue?

1 quart of ice cream
1 pound of butter
1 pound of brown sugar
1 pound confectioner's sugar
3-4 Tbsp ground clove
3-4 Tbsp ground allspice
3-4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 bottle of Meyer's gold rum
1/2 bottle of Rose Angel tequila (gran centenario)

Just add hot water and you're golden!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Seuls les hommes

This week is all about men. But, ladies, please feel free to take a peek. I think it's very important that members of the opposite sex know something about each other. There should be a little mystery, of course. But a solid grasp is nice. Anyway. Yes, this week is all about men - what they are wearing (or should be), what they are drinking (or should be), what they might want to be reading, and a few other things.
This also marks the first week I will have an original concoction for you, from Ricky the Bartender. It will most assuredly be a manly cocktail. I'm going to re-edit some of the previous posts, so you might want to give them another gander.

I hope your holidays were fun-filled and soaked in gin! I know mine were.