A Quick Catch-Up

Hey! How ya been? It’s been a while since I have written one of these and even though this is a short little blurb about what is going on, BIG THINGS ARE HAPPENING ON THE HORIZON! So with that being said, guess what I have been up to? 

Well, in short, I turned 35 and am having a tough time coping with that fact. People my age have teenagers, can die of a heart attack and it not be too abnormal, grocery shopping is an event that involves a lot of label reading, and the music is too loud. But what are you going to do? Someday we are going to die. You, are going to die. “TURKEY TITS!”

Most unfortunate

Most unfortunate

But that’s not why I am writing this post. This post is about my new office that will be the greatest hub of all blogging and VeggieMacabreTV shows! I bought a desk with 157 pages of instructions and hopefully the end result will be something I can put a cup of coffee on and without it sliding off.

As you can see this is a task. The projected launch should be sometime this week (depending how work goes) and I haven’t been this excited about something since…I don’t know. Is that sad? I have about six articles on hold until like videos can be shot from this platform. It’ll make sense later this month. Until then, I have a V1 screw that needs to be put into board P.

Oh, and did I tell you I got a gig as a part-time model for Joseph A. Bank and Men’s Warehouse? Yeah, that happened too. It’s a long story that will be told in a very short bit.

 

They’re Baaaaack! Fall Beer Review 2012

I know what you’re thinking so don’t even say it; it’s too early. While it is too early to chat Halloween it is not too early to yap about Fall Beer because, shit, it’s already out in the market! I declare this my official duty to tell everyone what is available and drinkable that is orange, black and alcoholic. You can say it’s a silly hobby but I say your haircut is silly. I kid, it looks fine.

The first review of 2012 I bring you Blue Moon’s annual Autumn sample pack. I have reviewed these in the past but this year they did a little something different. Listening to their fan base, the company allowed a select number of Blue Moon drinkers to choose this year’s flagship beer and man, they did good. They did real good. I only review this pick because to review the others would be dull and to be honest, nine minutes of me yapping is too much. Let me present you with this year’s Blue Moon Fall Beer that is 100% Great Pumpkin: Caramel Spiced Apple Ale.

P.S. The new intro song is actually named “Veggiemacabre Reviews” and that makes things a bit more official. Or something like that.

What’s Been Going On?

Alright, the holidays are over. Christmas did what it does every year and that is sneak up behind me, steal my wallet, put 1500 miles on my car, gets me out of shape, pissy and then before I know it I am back in my office wondering why I got so excited about it to begin with. And next year, the same will probably happen. But 2011 didn’t go quietly into the night. Let me catch you up.

What you are looking at above is me, hard at work supplying all facilities with the latest and greatest medical technologies. I have been hard at work in this position for a while and so far, love it. I know you can’t tell by my expression but being an account exec does have its rewards. Let me explain.

Trying to help older people understand the web or applications is a lot like explaining the steps how to DVR Happy Days to your cat when you are out-of-town; it takes a long time and when you come home you can be certain that the Fonz will not be in your future. Older Doctors know a lot about the world of medicine but the when it comes to web applications they make a face much like I do when someone asks me if I know what a Kardashian is. “I don’t understand the question and I refuse to answer it.”- Lucile Bluth

People come and people go in life. I have learned through extinct relationships that going separate ways doesn’t require screaming and lamp throwing. It’s important to know what you want, understand that not everyone is perfect, appreciate the ones who enter your life and appreciate the ones who left even more. So, for now, being a single guy who works sixty hours a week fits well. Like my late great-grandmother said to me when we visited years ago, “…if you are a monkey, be a monkey. Let the zebras have their stripes. Just be a good monkey.” I remember that as though it was yesterday. And after that advice my grandmother took me to Burger King. What a great day.

I’ve finally planted here. While I look for a nice house to finally buy, I will be hanging my hat here and hosting a lot of VeggieMacabre.TV at that bar…thing…it. With about five thousand invested into Ikea and some art from Final Girl, this place will do just fine. I will also get to use my green screen and host the show from space or Newark!

Looks like Alton Brown and I have buried the hatchet. By finding a common bond with flying I soon forgot the present he signed for me a few years ago. In case you don’t know I received a signed copy of his first book. I was ecstatic until I read his message.

Okay, that was a pretty good one. Girl:1 Will:0

I went up north again for Christmas and every year I say it’s the last time but then November comes and I find myself committing to the madness. But, it’s family and sacrificing some time to remind yourself why you live so far away is good for the soul. Also, I get more quality time with Uncle Mark. He is an amazing dude. Although, he drives like a fuckin’ nutcase! Also, he is best friends with the Indian couple that run a Dunkin Donuts. It’s a weird match but at least we had a place to dump the discarded wrapping paper that night!

Well, that’s a quick catch up and I did so in less than 750 words! I thought for sure I would ramble for 3,000. Lucky for you.

I will leave you with a picture from 1983 at my grandmother’s when I was much smaller, Dad’s mustache was much bigger and the world was a lot more fun. I was downloading this picture to Photobucket and the lady behind me asked if this could get any cuter.

Better?

Comfort Holiday Food or CHF For Short

Wow, I never thought a title could be so stupid until I actually saw it typed. And yes, it is amazingly bad so I will leave it. Then again, it does cut to the point of this pointless blog and today I am writing about an easy concoction that any dude can follow. Seriously, if you can’t make this I…I just feel for you. Turn your kitchen into an indoor pool or something because you are obviously like Ozzy Osbourne trying to make breakfast. So let’s get started on this holiday-cold weather-need a sweater-don’t care about calorie CHF for the season: Will-Bill’s take on Shepard’s Pie.

Have you ever had truly authentic Irish food? Not what you were thinking, was it? No, these folks are great at whiskey but when it comes to food in Ireland, I can say from experience, you need an unassuming tongue. But what do I know? I hail from the land of Cheeseburgers. And that being said I have turned Shepard’s Pie into just that…a mashed-up cheeseburger.

First on the list of list is to brown the meat. I always go with the 80/20 because I saw Alton Brown cooking with it on TV and if it’s on TV it has to be right. With the meat I usually add a table-spoon of salt and pepper but thanks to the good people at McCormick, they have their own version that I add to almost everything now.

McCormick’s Grill Mates have a Montreal Steak seasoning that is good on almost everything. If you are worried about your sodium level, they boast to have 20% less salt but lets face it, it’s still a shit load of salt. THIS IS COMFORT FOOD! Read about seaweed and poached kale diets on some other blog. Douse this seasoning liberally to your meat and continue to brown.

Ah, nature’s flavor sponges. I take a package of mushrooms and quarter them. Why do quarter them and not slice, you ask? I really think they are better this way. Don’t worry, mushrooms absorb everything so they shrink. They’ll still fit.

No dinner that I cook is void of these three ingredients: jalapeno, garlic and onion. I chop the jalapeno into halves and add them to the meat right away. (Don’t forget the seeds!) Next I slap-chop the garlic and onion to oblivion. God I love the SlapChop. The only thing I hate though is removing the damn skins from the garlic. But there is no way around it so I guess I will always have to do the whole smash, cuss and peel method. See below.

Alright, the meat is drained (often), and the garlic, pepper, onion and ‘shooms are added. I reduce the heat, cover  and let the mix…mix. Now go to the fridge and get a second beer. GO TO THE FRIDGE AND GET A SECOND BEER!!!

While you are giving the mushrooms time to simmer and soak in the jalapeno and garlic, it’s time to bring out the second phase. I call it “Phase Two”. We are adding one and a half cans of cream of mushroom soup (fat-full kind) and one can of drained whole corn. Usually peas are added too but a certain someone who will be eating this hates peas. I can’t think of a substitute so corn is going solo.

When you feel that the mushrooms have taken in all flavor they can we add the soup and corn, cover and let simmer for about five minutes or so on low heat. By now the smell of garlic should be chasing all vampires out of you attic. I assume that your beer is almost done so head over to the fridge and get another. If I have to say it one more time….IF I HAVE TO SAY IT ONE MORE TIME!!!!!!

We are almost there so next comes the third phase or as I like to call it, “Alpha one”. You need to bring four cups of water to a boil in a medium size pot. Once you have achieved a boil, remove the pot from the heat and pour in two bags of Idahoan instant potatoes and whip with a fork until firm. Why instant and not real? Because I’m not a real cook. These potatoes take less time than Kraft Mac&Cheeze so be ready for them. And by read I mean you need to pour the meat’n-stuff into a cooking pan like so…

God, that looks like the worst brownie in the world, doesn’t it? I looks like you invited an old Eastern Euro-Bloc guy to a holiday office party an assigned him deserts to bring. He would say, “I vill bring brownies for holiday party and you vill like!”. I imagine he would look like this.

I forgot what we were doing. How’s your beer?

Now we pour the potatoes over the Bosnia Brownie (I served 3 consecutive years over there. Let me have that joke!) and spread them over the top much as you would ice a cake.

For the final phase or Phase “I don’t know, Margo” we will add an entire bag of cheese. Generally I use cheddar but when I see the word “new” on a bag I buy it immediately. Now, I forgot to tell you to preheat the oven to 375 but I assume you aren’t reading this in realtime as you cook. If you are, then I love you. But sorry, you need to preheat the oven to 375. Time for another beer or SO HELP ME! Cover the whole…casserole(?) with aluminum foil and bake this masterpiece for 25 minutes.

After all that work you should be looking at something similar to this. Wait till it cools before digging in. I feel like I have to say that for some reason. This is an easy dinner that most anyone will like unless they hate beef, mushrooms, garlic, cheese, potatoes, onions, jalapenos or life. In that case there are TV dinners.

ANNOUNCEMENT! The Practical Cook and I are challenging each other to a video review where we assign one another to holiday items to, well, review. Later today I take on that challenge and it will be posted right here. Rock on and be merry, Harry!

Savannah Trip: The Good, The Beer, The Ghosts

Savannah, Georgia will always have a special place in my heart. It was forged years ago through countless family beach vacations, a middle school field trip where I discovered that girls where not as gross as I imagined, wild college road trips where I really discovered girls were not as gross as I imagined and finally my time stationed near there in the Army. I call it as much home as I do anywhere else and though I am not a current resident, I jump at the chance to bring anyone who hasn’t been. This past weekend I did just that and we hit a few “haunts”, even making time to get a royal sunburn at the beach. Eat it mid-October!

 

We started off for the five hour trek at around four in the morning so by the time we thought about breakfast we were well past the halfway mark. I am not really sure when this happened but somehow I became my parents and insisted we stop at a Cracker Barrel rather than a McDonald’s. I will admit, there is a certain charm about eating under the same roof that has a one pound Sugar Daddy for sale and more Christmas ornaments than the Whoville. I know this restaurant has had some bad publicity with their idiotic rule of not hiring anyone who is gay, but I will admit, their biscuits do make the Pillsbury Doe Boy look like he should be selling ratchet sets instead.

I get a little excited when I am traveling to some place I want to go to, especially cities of nostalgic meaning. Though I don’t recommend breaking the law by exceeding the speed limit AND trying to take a cellphone picture in reference to Back to the Future, in my defense, I saw a palm tree. We were close and by all logic, going 88mph would get us there sooner. Don’t worry, it didn’t last long. I am 3/4 of the way through Crime and Punishment. I get it.

Well look at that. I got us here safe and sound without rocketing back to 1955. Driving down this street brings back so many memories, I can’t even begin to start with the “no shit, there I was” stories and honestly, I am old enough now to realize no one cares. That’s okay because just looking at the cobble streets, historical markers, memorable bars and vibrant tourists traps I have too many warm memories that I don’t mind replaying them in my own head. But this tease of a drive was short because the girlfriend had other plans than being drunk pirates like I wanted. She opted for an afternoon at the beach. I obliged.

I am saving the Tybee Island part of the trip for another part of the blog. I feel that since this is the Halloween season and I had another purpose to come to Savannah, this should take precedence over summer fun. I came back to visit a few places and boy oh boy, they did not disappoint. Not in the least.

Years ago I wrote about a business trip I took to Savannah and the incredible experience that I had at a particular restaurant. I risked looking like a complete jackass and wrote how I saw a ghost.  A full torso vaporous apparition and over the years it has grown into a well sought after story. After that happened I started to become aware that I am not the minority when it comes to spooky happenings in Savannah and this place is known as the most haunted city in America.

Moon River Brewing Company in all it’s glory. This place has been on every paranormal show imaginable and each one has come through with some very creepy footage. What is equally creepy is how all the stories are so similar. It’s not like there are dozens of independent experiences and conflicting sightings. No, just about every person interviewed had like ghostly encounters in the same locations. And one of those location is in the basement where anyone can go, but no one does.

Getting a spot in this place can be tricky but luckily for us we managed to squeeze into a nice two-top just next to the basement stairs with more than an hour to go on the “happy hour” clock. The beers here are incredible and if we didn’t have places to go and ghouls to meet, I would have just camped eating garlic fries and wit beer. But even in beer heaven, my eyes couldn’t leave the dreaded basement stairs and after a couple drinks of courage, I asked our waitress if going downstairs was allowed. She raised her eyebrows, smirked and said, “sure…if you want to”. I did. It’s why I came. The girlfriend, however, was happy to stay with the fries and beer and who could blame her?

I don’t know if all the stories are true and though the “evidence” of a short shadow creature jetting around this place are bone-chilling, I can see how the quiet and musty basement can prod the imagination. But the one thing that I reflect on now is how busy the restaurant was upstairs and I was the only one who was roaming around the famous basement that made shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures so credible and popular. I stayed down here for quiet awhile and took pictures and not a single curious patron decided to come down. Weird.

Another strange thing is when I was taking these photographs I made an effort to take straight photos but so many came out crooked. I know that’s not paranormal but I am a little afraid that I may have a leaning problem.

After enough time passed to piss off a girlfriend, I headed up for more libations and people watching, scouring the pictures for orbs, demons, pirate ghosts, thumbs, and Bigfoot. I got nothin’. Luckily, before we left I was able to talk the girlfriend into a quick tour of the basement because I had a little experiment I needed to conduct.

I know that I can seem a little strange and I am thankful I have someone who puts up with me. I needed to have someone take pictures of me actually in this place. I don’t know, it bugs me that I have thousands of pictures and no proof that I was actually even there. Plus, I needed to show this entity the importance of physical fitness through the power of lunges.

Though this particular lunge is wickedly improper, I think that if there is a…thing in the basement, it got the point. What’s the point, you ask? I don’t know. Ask your mom. (Sorry. You don’t have to ask her.)

But did it work? I don’t know. What do you think?

Well, Moon River Brewing Company was a lovely experience, even if we didn’t “experience” anything. But I will say the atmosphere, people, beer and garlic fries makes this place a step up from any place I would want to be. I just like knowing that wit beer can be consumed while touching the ethereal plain.To the Pirate House!

Remember how I was telling you that Savannah was a dark and creepy place? Yeah, this is similar to a lot of the store fronts and this one in particular happens to be a greeting card and collectible shop. My heart sings knowing the fact that these mannequins are probably stored close to the bathroom and scare unsuspecting grandmothers when they search for a bathroom around April. Had it not been closed, I am sure we would be proud owners of magnolia covered greeting cards. Thank you for your window fronts and also for being closed.

The Pirate House. The last time I was here I witnessed a really strange occurrence that to this day I can not explain. There is no possible way to describe the feeling when I look at this place and going inside it was even more intense. When I left this bar almost six years ago my perception of reality was skewed a bit. Not drastically changed but definitely skewed. I really wanted to get skewed again. In a non-obscene way of course.

We barely made the last call and the bartender looked super annoyed which made me even more annoyed. I didn’t come over here to get the same service as an Applebees in Paducah, Kentucky. I was in an establishment that was older than most states, has tunnels that lead to the Savannah River to shanghai unsuspecting colonials, it is IN the book Treasure Island, famous pirates died here and, most importantly, this is where I saw a ghost. If this bartender wants to be pissy I was in no mood. Much like the guy who puts on the Mickey Mouse suit at Disney World and complains about getting hit in the balls every time a kids hugs him, don’t make the dick-face when we come in at last call. It was 10:30! Don’t be in the service industry of a tourist city and be a jerk. You bag of dicks!

Wow, sorry about that. Where was I? Oh yeah, The Pirate House, established when people lived to be forty and could die from a tooth ache.

I soon got over myself and made it clear that I am glad we were there and the bartender should be performing unicycle tricks on a corner in Pakistan. I observed that the bar changed a little from my last visit and the bar-top was no longer stainless steel but wood and they downgraded the size of their television. Other than that, it was like being right back in 2006. I peered at the corner where I watched some…thing race down phantom stairs and block the TV some years prior. But the mood was different. Too many people. Too many noises. So I excused myself to venture around the now empty restaurant.

You have to admit, even without the countless witnesses of ghostly accounts and the dark history of this place, it does look creepy, eh? I don’t know if it’s the low ceilings or the constant musty breeze but it is impossible to not have a feeling that unless you are carrying dinner rolls and menus, you probably shouldn’t be there. The human brain is a quirky thing but it does let you know that something happened in there. Think I am crazy? You wouldn’t be the first.

Well soon it was time to head out but the cool thing about Savannah (besides the three million other things) is you can get your beers to go. That is right, there is no open container law in this town so we got a couple of Ghost Ales and sat outside for a bit and man, it’s even macabre on the outside!

Well, it was getting late and though walking down River Street drinking Wet Willies’ Mind Erasers and brawling with frat kids sounded fun, I am old and it was time to head back to the room and look through pictures. Those days are long past. Today, I am about craft beer, fine food and folklore. I am an adult. Haven’t you read this blog? (har har har)