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Valentine’s Day has always been represented by the symbol of a heart. Not a real heart, mind you — the human heart is basically a muscle that circulates blood through the body. For some reason, emotions such as love and sorrow are associated with the heart. I find this to be somewhat deceiving. If you gave a human heart to someone you love on Feb. 14, it would be quite messy. In fact, your loved one would no doubt run screaming from the room and you would probably end up in jail. If one replaced one’s heart with a Valentine heart, one would die — and rather quickly.
It goes without saying — Sunday is a very special day. Millions of households across the continent — mine included — will spend the day preparing for the big event that takes place that evening. It is an event that some folks consider to be the “greatest show on earth.” For the next few days we’ll prepare and plan. How many people will come to the party? What’s the weather going to be like? Will Uncle Phil like the dip? Will the dip like Uncle Phil? I know I don’t.
The wrath of January is only half-endured, yet that last cold spell seemed like a long prison sentence to the most frigid place on Earth — a.k.a. my driveway. The hard snow beneath my feet sounds like squeaky Styrofoam as I walk to my car, unprotected from the elements because the garage-door is frozen shut. Even the sliver of a moon looks oppressively cold, frozen in the middle of an early morning sky.
On New Year’s Day in 1956, my cousin, Vernon Hallbeck, a fullback for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, scored two touchdowns against Rice in the prestigious Cotton Bowl. The other three bowl games — the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl — were also played that day. All in all, eight great teams played and four were crowned bowl champions. That was the extent of it and it was extra special for football fans.
The holiday season arrives early and stays late, like a boorish and inconsiderate uncle who hangs around until the last minute, picking at the scraps of a decimated party buffet. I should know — I’m that uncle. And since it “‘tis the season”—regardless of whether you’re yawning or looking down at your watch, I think I’ll hang around for awhile and ramble off a few random holiday thoughts—just after I ask: “Is there any more turkey? There’s nothing left but bones, here.”
I have always been a poor excuse for a hunter. Growing up in northern Minnesota, this is not a good thing. It’s akin to being a member of the Andretti racing family and not knowing how to drive a stick shift. I flunked out of hunting school as a teenager and never went back.
I have been accused of being a negative person on more than one occasion. For instance, if I complain about the weather someone will no doubt label me as a whiner. “We need the rain,” they might say, or “What are you talking about? Ten consecutive days of 40-below-zero makes the lakes safer to drive on.” It also makes one’s blood freeze. Besides, I didn’t make it onto the lake in the summer when the water was warm, so why in blue blazes would I want to drive a pickup loaded with a cord of firewood (for traction) onto the lake in the middle of winter?
I think it’s pretty cool to be included in the very first edition of the Echo Journal. Having worked in many area restaurants over the years, I’ve come to know so many people and so many places — towns that seem far removed from each other, even though they are separated by only a few miles of highway.
Teriyaki Beef Skewers 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup dry sherry 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and minced 1/4 teaspoon white pepper 1 pound beef round steak, cut across the grain into 1/8-inch strips 24 6-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water In a shallow bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients. Add the steak strips. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Green Gazpacho with Crab 2 cups coarsely chopped, seeded and peeled cucumbers 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green pepper 1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons white vinegar 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro 2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic 1 cup cubed, crustless white bread 1 1/2 cups water 1/2 cup thinly sliced romaine lettuce 1/2 cup fresh crabmeat, shredded 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives Additional olive oil