Friday, November 24, 2006

Week 12 Selections

Last Week: 2-0 +$200

Year to date: 10-12-1

Cyberbalance: $2230

Last week's "gutcheck games" came through for me so I should be feeling good - but I'm not. I loved Dallas and KC on Thursday but forgot to place my bets so I'm stuck with a short sheet. Not to worry, it's not real money.

This week I like Carolina over Washington and Cinci over Cleveland but I'm laying my cash on Houston getting 5 1/2 points against the Jets simply because the Jets should never be 5 1/2 point favourites, and the Giants giving 3 in Tennessee because I think the Giants are better than they've looked recently and Tennessee are awful. $100 each.

The sucker bet of the week has to be the 49ers getting 5 1/2 in St. Louis, why shouldn't San Fran win this game outright? - run screaming from the game - Vegas always knows something.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Another Bad Voting Day

Back in August I wrote of the horrible miscarriage of voting which allowed Bruce Sutter to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame, well the "experts" weren't done making bad decisions.

On Tuesday this week the American League Chapter of the Baseball Writers of America proved, once again, that they are idiots by voting Justin Morneau as the American League Most Valuable Player. Now I know I should be happy that a Canadian boy from a small market team was given such a prestigious honour, but I'm not pleased - I'm pissed.

Folks, Justin Morneau wasn't even the most valuable player on his own team (flip a coin between Johan Santana and Joe Mauer) so how is he the MVP for the league ?

Morneau finished in the top 5 of the American League in only 1 major statistical category, RBIs, which is as much a factor of his team mates being on base as anything else. I was shocked at the result but even more shocked that Mauer, a catcher who led the league in hitting, finished 6th and that Jermaine Dye, whose numbers were easily better than Morneau's, finished 5th.

I don't even want to go into the Derek Jeter issue ......... but Jeter was clearly his team's leader and his offensive stats, while playing an extremely difficult defensive position, were outstanding. Jeter was the 2006 AL MVP, no doubt and strangely I think the fact that he is Derek Jeter and plays for the Yankees worked against him. It's too bad because Jeter is a class act and a Hall of Famer whose CV will be missing a much deserved MVP award.

The issue, to me, of an MVP is: Where would his team be without him? Without Morneasu the Twins wouldn't have been as good, without Jeter the Yankees wouldn't have won 80 games.

For the record my ballot would have read:

1) Derek Jeter
2) Jermaine Dye
3) Joe Mauer
4) David Ortiz
5) Johan Santana
6) Justin Morneau
7) Frank Thomas
8) Vladimir Guerrero
9) Grady Sizemore
10) Raul Ibanez

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sunday Night Braise, Monday Night Wheel

The skies have been open here in Vancouver for a long time. It rains most every day, often very hard, and there is no end in sight. The good news is - that means it's slow food time. While I love the grill, I also love the rich flavours of braised or stewed meats, and the occasional roast bird is good too.

Sunday was a braise, in this case blade steaks. Slow food requires a bit more of a commitment, in that you have to get started around 2 o'clock to have dinner on the table by 6:30, but that is just fine for Sunday afternoons. Around 2:00 PM I take the blade steaks out of the fridge and pound a mixture of salt, pepper, flour and rosemary into them, then let them get to room temperature.

Shallots and elephant garlic are sweated over low heat until translucent then removed from the pan and reserved. The temperature is turned up to medium high and the steaks are seared for a minute on each side, then the pan is deglazed with beef stock and red wine.

The steaks are transferred to a big oval Creuset dish along with the shallot/garlic mix and some chopped rosemary. The pan juices are supplemented with about a cup of beef stock, which is brought to a boil, and then poured over the steaks, the liquid should not cover the steaks but should come about half way up the sides. Cover the pot and pop it into a 300 degree oven for about 2 1/2 hours. Take the steaks out and let them rest while you reduce the jus, add a bit of roux and a dollop of sour cream and serve with mashed spuds and your vegetable of choice. Sunday night this was served with a very nice Portuguese Red from Jose Maria de Fonseca - Jose de Souza 2003 which had the perfect brightness of flavour and crisp acidity to work with the rich earthy tones of the braise.

Monday night is often Pizza night at our house. Wife tends to have late meetings on Monday so I make Pizza for daughter and I, with resulting leftovers for:

1) Wife upon arriving home late
2) Daughter's lunches for the week

I used to make my own dough but about 6 months ago I discovered an excellent frozen dough, from Calabria Bakery, at Stongs so I now use that as my dough. Take the dough out of the freezer the night before you are going to use it and leave it in the fridge overnight, in the morning take it out and put it in a bowl somewhere warm with, a bit of olive oil on top. If you remember turn the dough ball a couple of times during the day, if you don't remember don't worry.

Around 90 minutes before dinner I punch down the dough ball, cut it in half, stretch and roll into 2 pizzas (I use rectangular baking dishes) - these will be very thin crust pizzas so go easy on the toppings. I top daughter's wheel with mozzarella/romano cheeses, sauteed mushrooms, pepperoni and spinach. The second pizza changes from time to time but will always have some meat (sausage, prosciutto etc), mushrooms and spinach plus sometimes roasted peppers/pine nuts,,,,,whatever. The second pizza may also use a cheese variation. sometimes fontina, sometimes provolone, sometimes chevre - you get the picture.

First pizza goes into a 475 oven for 20 minutes then transferred to the warming oven (225 degrees) while the second pizza cooks - yes I have 2 ovens, doesn't everyone ? Serve with a green salad and cheap red wine ....... enjoy.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Week 11 Selections

Last Week: 0-2 <$220>

Year to Date: 8-12-1

Cyberbalance: $2030

Well the last 2 weeks I haven't been close, Detroit screws me both ways by beating Atlanta, then losing at home to the 49ers. Thankfully I only bet 2 games each week because I would have lost even more by betting my "I also like" picks.

Strangely there are a bunch of games I like this week, K.C over Oakland, Seattle over San Francisco and Denver over San Diego spring to mind, but I'm going with the "gutcheck" games.

Pittsburgh are dead in the water but playing for pride when Bill Cowher is your coach is a big motivator so I'm taking the Steelers over Cleveland giving 3 points.

The New England Patriots have lost 2 in a row and are danger of being referred to as "ordinary", I don't see them losing three in a row and even though the Packers have played better of late I'm going with New England giving 6 points.

$100 each way - and may the force be with me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lyric of the Week

"it should be beautiful
and sweet
like watching Soul Train
with Marvin Gaye on"

Philosopher Kings
"It hurts to Love You"
from "Famous, Rich and Beautiful" -1997

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Week 10 Selections

Quick post 'cause I'm busy as all get out right now.

Got pasted last week so try to get back to .500 with $100 each on Baltimore -7 against Tennessee and Detroit -6 against the 49ers, I also like Denver and the Giants, for what it's worth.

Friday, November 10, 2006

And how would you like your Moose done ?

One of my next door neighbours, let's call him Fred, is an outdoorsman in the truest sense. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking all that stuff in abundance. We joke that if Armageddon comes we're heading straight to Fred's house because we're sure he has enough arms and provisions that we can survive almost anything.

Last week, as I'm arriving home from walking daughter to school, Fred bounds out of his truck and says "Hey, do you want some Moose ?". It appears that he has just returned from picking up the 250 lbs. or so of Moosemeat that was his share of the most recent successful hunt. I gratefully accept and am presented with a package of frozen Moose steaks and another of ground Moose (there is also a side of Sockeye involved but that's another story). I thank Fred profusely and ask him if he knows what cut the steaks are "Nah" he says "he just cuts everything from the loin into steaks", fair enough I think, and toss the steaks in the freezer.

After considerable research I am left with the conclusion that there appears to be no real consensus on how to prepare Moose steaks. Our exec sous at work advises treating it like Bison, but admits to no personal experience with Moose. Various websites offer conflicting reports, some suggest long braise, others short periods of high heat grilling. I forge ahead.

Tuesday morning I take the steaks out of the freezer, by Wednesday morning they are defrosted and placed in a marinade of buttermilk (the buttermilk bath showed up on more than one site) for 24 hours. Thursday morning I rinse off the buttermilk and dry the steaks, upon further examination they look a lot like top sirloin so I decide that I'm going to treat them like top sirloin. The meat has virtually no marbling fat and the colour is almost a bluish tint on deep red. I prepare a marinade of tamari, shallot, dijon, elephant garlic, salt, pepper, red wine and olive oil and pop the steaks in the marinade and back in the fridge - it's about noon by now.

At 7:15 I take the steaks out of the fridge to warm up. At 8:15 I place them in a medium hot pan and saute for 4 and a half minutes per side, then remove to settle while deglazing the pan with beef stock. I place down a bed of onions and crimini that have been sauteed in butter with garlic and rosemary, then finished with balsamic, and slice the steaks and serve over the onion/mushroom combo with a healthy drizzle of pan jus.

The Gods are with me as the steaks are a perfect medium. The meat is not overly gamy but has that hint of "sauvage", it is similar to bison in texture and overall really, really good. Roasted redskin potatoes, baked squash and a very good bottle (Hollick's 2003 Limestone Coast Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon - on sale for $17.99 and a recommended buy) make for a fabulous "Autumn Dinner".

Now do I use that ground moose for ragu, moose burgers or kick-ass moose chili? Be afraid Bullwinkle, I may be developing a habit.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Valdivieso on Sale

One of my favourite Chilean wineries is Valdivieso, and this month the BCLDB has discounted the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (#412858) and Reserve Merlot (#296285) both down about $5.00 to $17.99.

I am very familiar with the Cabernet, and recommend it highly, so last night I grabbed a bottle of the Reserve Merlot 2003 and had it, with Baked Ham, for dinner. The wine is very good, with lots of big red fruits, a little spice and fruitcake and a long velvety finish. This is the reason everyone fell in love with Merlot, it is satisfying without challenging - just a really good glass of wine.

Buy some and enjoy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Week 9 Selections

Last Week: 2-0 +$200

Year to Date: 8-8-1

Cyberbalance: $2470

Well this is hump week; 8 before, 8 after, and I'm .500 for the year.

I'll start by saying that my pick of the week is Dallas -3 over Washington, there is no way on God's Green Earth that the Redskins are going to cover in this game. Tony Romo is mobile enough to make up for Dallas' weak O-line and the Cowboys' big play guys are making Big Plays, whereas the Redskins are flat out awful. That being said, it's not real money so I'm not betting against my beloveds.

I also like Chicago giving 13 1/2 against Miami, (can you imagine how hard Joey Harrington is trying to induce a hamstring pull right now ?) but the last time I bet da Bears with a big spread they tanked so I'm passing on that game as well.

Instead I'm taking two road teams - Atlanta -5 1/2 in Detroit and the "resurgent" Green Bay Packers +3 in Buffalo for $100 each. I'm a little confused that the line hasn't moved in the Atlanta vs. Detroit game but hey ............ it's not real money so I'm sticking with the Falcons.