Friday, April 1, 2011



I am not a particularly big fan of the S.F. Giants after having my team eliminated from the post season by them.  I can say however I have been to numerous games in both San Francisco and Oakland to watch my Phillies play the home team.

I have been on the receiving end of good natured ribbing from both A's and Giant's fans while wearing my Phillies gear in both respective cities.  The smack talking was particularly bad before Game 4 of the 2010 NLCS in San Francisco.  My wife and I had to park all the way in the back of an enclosed parking garage full of Giants fans and walk several VERY LONG BLOCKS to AT&T PARK.  It kind of reminded me of walking down the halls of a Roman Coliseum to await being eaten by hungry lions.

I have a friendly exchange of words on a regular basis with one of the grocers at a local Nob Hill (Think ACME, SUPERFRESH, SHOPRITE etc...) when he sees me with my Victorino Jersey on.  My experiences thus far as a Phillies fan in California have generally been beneficial to my health and welfare (with the exception of my wanting to jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge after being eliminated last year...).

There is no reason the fan of an opposing team should fear for their safety just because they are wearing a different jersey.  Sports stadiums are not rival gang territory.  Opposing team fans are not there to take anything from you, or screw your wife, or do you harm.  If you can't act like an adult at a sporting event you need to be permanently banned from attending, as well as permanently banned from breeding.  There is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

I hope the Giants fan has a speedy recovery.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Of all the places...

I was at the gym this morning on the elliptical machine after lifting weights at like 5 am.  I'm wearing my Flyers beanie and in walks a guy with an Eagles shirt, one of the old school green ones.  It turns out he's from Chester County PA and went to Temple.  We got to talking about the Flyers and Temple getting knocked out of the NCAA.  I love running into people from back home.  Turns out one of the employees at the gym (one of the trainers) grew up in North Philly, then moved to South Jersey and is out here now.  He always sports his Philly gear as well.  I hope our boys give me a reason to celebrate with my fellow Philadelphians this year.  Go Flyers!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hometown loyalties and newfound fun.

I was born and raised in the City of Philadelphia.  I grew up in Olney right across the street from Dougherty High, even went there for a year before getting kicked out.  I attended St. Helena's grade school for 8 years.  I lived in Philly for nearly 20 years prior to finally leaving for Parris Island, United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot.  I was an active duty U.S. Marine for 8 years.  I have not lived in Philly since 1996.  My wife, friends and co-workers (99% of whom are native Californians) will all tell you I wear my pride for Philly on my sleeve like a badge of honor.  It is apparent as my still present Philly accent (or so they tell me).

Throughout the years it has been difficult at best to keep track of my favorite teams from back home.  The internet has made it considerably easier nowadays than it was when I first left Philly.  With that being said it's one thing to be able to track the Flyers, Phillies, Eagles, and Sixers online as opposed to being able to watch them in person and celebrate with my fellow Philadelphians the triumphs we have had over the past several years.  Thank God for NHL Center Ice, MLB Extra Innings, and 610 WIP online.  Unless you're an ex-pat like I am you would not understand where I am coming from.

That leads to the following.  I live on the Central Coast of California now.  I continue to wear on a nearly daily basis my Philly sports gear.  Oftentimes I am surprised by fellow ex-pats who will give me a loud "Go Phils!" or "Go Flyers!" when I least expect it.  Not only does it make me feel less homesick but it makes me feel extremely proud of my hometown teams and the pride my brothers and sisters from the Philadelphia area have for their sports teams.  I have run into quite a number of native Philadelphians since having settled in Salinas, California.  Whether from inside the city itself or the suburbs it's always a treat.  I am however, a fan of sports.  I enjoy watching sports on TV, but particularly enjoy watching sports live and in person.  Because of this love of sports I have taken to some of the local sports teams.  This has been a monkey on my back as you can probably imagine.

On one hand I continue (ALWAYS HAVE AND ALWAYS WILL) to support my hometown teams in favor of the local team.  On the other hand due to the relative absence of my hometown sports teams in person I have had to make the decision (sometimes painfully) to root for some of the local professional sports teams.  Let me explain with my following sports loyalties and the reasoning behind them:

*Please note, my #1 team will almost always be the team from Philadelphia*

MLB Baseball:

1: Philadelphia Phillies
2: Oakland A's

I chose to root for the A's for a couple of different reasons.  The main reason is due to the fact they they are formerly the Philadelphia Athletics.  I don't see how you can argue with that.  The second reason I choose to root for them is because they are an American League team.  How well they perform or do not perform during the regular season or the playoffs has no bearing on what will happen to the Fightin' Phils one way or the other unless they happen to meet in the World Series.  With that being said if it were to happen I would be Phillies all the way.

I choose not to root for the S.F. Giants as my west coast team because they are a National League team that have the potential to knock the Phils out of the playoff's, as they did in the 2010 MLB season.  I also hate the fact that so many around here seem to adore Barry Bonds, whom I simply can't stand.  I never have and never will.  I have been to plenty of Giants games and I'll give it to them, their ball park is great and I'd walk a mile for the Gilroy Garlic Fries any day of the week.  I love baseball but in the end it's the Phils over ANYONE else.

NHL Hockey:

1: Philadelphia Flyers
2: San Jose Sharks

I root for the San Jose Sharks for a few different reasons.  One, as with the A's, they're not in Philly's division/conference.  The Sharks are a Western Conference, Pacific Division team.  They'll meet the Bullies once, maybe twice a year.  I root for the Flyers HANDS DOWN over the Sharks whenever they meet.

With that being said I love the NHL.  The San Jose Sharks are only a bit more than an hour away from where I live now.  They're the closest professional sports franchise to me.  As of the time of this writing they're hands down the hottest team in the NHL.  Being a genuine Philadelphian there is nothing I love more than a good hockey fight.  Ryan Clowe delivers that in the absence of Dan Carcillo.  They're also a VERY EXCITING team to watch play.  While they had a less than favorable first half of the season they have done a total 180 from where they were pre-all star game.  Logan Couture is the premier rookie in the NHL and it is hard to root against the top shelf goal tending of Antti Niemi.  Yes, he beat the Flyers last year while playing for the Blackhawks, I feel that pain.  I also get caught up in the excitement of seeing him stop shot after shot against such teams as the Canucks and Red Wings.

Most of my friends and family remain in the great state of PA and unless you're an ex-pat and sports lover like myself you'll never understand how I can possibly become the fan of a team other than one from Philly.  With that being said I'm looking forward to seeing the Flyers vs Sharks in the SCF's and the Phils vs A's in the WS.  Go Flyers and Phils!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Okay, it's been far too long...

Alright here we go.  I started this blog for a reason and I don't want to give up on it.  It's been over a month since I last posted and that is for various reasons.  But since excuses are like assholes I will just go on with my next post.

The original intent of this blog was to get things off of my chest, particularly what it is like to be an ex-pat (Philly) living in CA.  For Christmas I got the wife-unit a Phillies cook book whose money goes to charity.  I have thus far reviewed I believe two recipes.  Here is the third recipe I am going to review.


Now being born and raised in Philly there is a large segment of the population that is Hispanic, but it is mostly Puerto Rican.  My best friend is of Guatemalan descent and I have never personally known any Dominicans although I know there are quite a few around.  I have never even actually met a Mexican until I joined The Marines in 1996.  That is 2 years after I graduated High School.  So needless to say living in Central CA (The Salinas Valley) I am in one of the hearts of Hispanic Food country but unfortunately have nothing against which to judge Placido's Dominican Chicken Stew reciepe.

I will start out by saying that it was relatively easy to make.  The recipe is quite simple and seems to follow the steps needed to be taken (Unlike THE MIGHTY ROSS GLOAD'S BAKED ZITI.....) to complete the recipe.  But then again, Ross Goad is from NY originally so who really knows as to the level of education he has completed...Anyhow, I digress.

I had most of the herbs and spices needed already.  The only thing I needed to purchase was the veggies and the chicken itself.  I have never caramelized sugar before and while preparing the stock for the stew recipe I burned my arm due to the sugar boiling and sticking to my forearm...ouch!  Other than that it was easy going.

After browning the chicken in the sugary broth I just had to make the red beans and rice.  I decided to add some New Orleans style andouille sausage to it only because I have been craving some Jambalaya lately and figured this was a good compromise since the wife-unit will not try any.......she's a tough audience and likes to stick to what she knows.

So a little while later the red beans, rice, and sausage were all done so I am just keeping them on the stove for now.  The actual recipe calls for cooking the stew on a medium to medium-high heat for about an hour.  I am not a novice cook by any means so I decided to cook it on simmer for a few hours instead, allowing for the spices and flavors to sink in.  Besides it's only about 1:45 pm and the wife-unit will not return home until about 3:30-4:30 pm.

So now comes the hard part.  Waiting here until The Missus comes home so I can stuff my face.  I'll be honest, it smells really good so I guess I'll have to taste test just a tad bit of it prior to serving.  If there is one thing I have learned from watching Gordon Ramsay's HELL'S KITCHEN it is that you should always taste the plate prior to serving it to a paying customer...

Mmmmmmmmmm well, so far, so good.  As I said before I have nothing against which to judge it so I guess I'll have to see how the better half feels about it.  I am not quite sure how much to let the broth boil down though.  I love beef stew and am used to the broth being a tad bit thicker but this seems to be more of a soupy broth so I'll have to let you know how that turns out.  I'll check back in later.  Time on deck is:  1430 hours.

1645 hours.  Okay the wife unit is home and hungry.  As I began stirring the stew I noticed that the bones came all apart and it took me about 10 minutes to fish through the stew and pick them all out.  The recipe called for serving the stew over red beans and rice, which was a good call because it added a little more substance to it. 

The stew actually came out a bit more like a soup so I think next time I am going to make a bit of roux to thicken it up a little bit.  I may add more veggies as well because had it not been for the added rice and red beans there would not have been enough in the soup itself other than the chicken.  Now maybe the stew is supposed to be a bit more soupy, I don't know much about Dominican stew, but I prefer a thicker broth for my stews.  The flavor itself was very good and the better half seemed to be happy with it.  It was also much easier to figure out than the Ross Gload Baked Ziti.  This is another recipe that will go on my list of things to cook again.

I have not decided what recipe I am going to attempt to cook next time but if you are interested in trying some out yourself click on the picture below.  The picture will take you directly to the webpage to purchase the cookbook yourself.  In the mean time Spring Training is about to start and the 2011 MLB season shortly thereafter.  Here's to a great Phillies season!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ross Gload Baked Ziti.....where do I start?........

This is my second recipe review from the PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES COOKBOOK.

Okay I am going to be up front and honest as I usually try to be.  Prior to tonight I have never had baked ziti.  I have heard of it and seen it on menus but have never actually had it, let alone make it.  As of the time of this writing there is 21:30 left for the Ross Gload ziti to finish cooking.

You remember Ross Gload.  He's the right fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies whose stellar post season performance sky-rocketed the Phils past those pesky San Francisco Giants and onto a third straight world series.............OR NOT!

I am not sure whether or not to blame Mr. Gload himself or the editors of the cook book for what I am about to complain about though.  I am leaning more towards the editors as they should have picked up on it prior to it going to printing...

First of all, to give you a bit of background on me, I am a police officer and a field training officer (FTO).  That means that I get to train the new guys fresh out of the police academy.  One of my responsibilities is to ensure that their (the trainee) crime reports are thorough, grammatically correct, and  contain all elements of whatever crime the bad guy is being charged with (think all of the ingredients...).

There is a reason behind this.  When a juror reads over a police report he/she needs to ensure that the suspect actually committed all of the elements of whatever crime he/she is being charged with, otherwise the crime is not complete.  Similarly, when I open up a cook book it is because I am NOT a professional chef and need the information required to complete the recipe (crime) that I want to stuff my face with.

Uh oh....the timer just went off!  I will devour the said recipe and continue this review.........

Okay so back to business (on a full belly now, and slightly intoxicated).  My main gripe so far is that Mr. Gload forgets to tell you what the crap to do with the 2 pounds of ricotta cheese he tells you to buy.  As I said before I have never had ziti so how am I supposed to know what to do with it?  Luckily for me the wife unit told me to mix the mozzarella cheese (a whole pound of it) with the ricotta.  I don't know if this is what you're supposed to do with it but it made sense to me coming from somebody that makes pretty good lasagna.  It just didn't look right though.

So anyhow, I took the advice of the wife unit and continued to follow the rest of the directions that were in the book.  That is when the next problem came in.  The directions tell you to layer the sauce and mozzarella and never mention where the noodles come into play.  Well there was not enough of the cheese mixture to do that so I decided to just mix EVERYTHING together and put it in the large baking pan that the recipe calls for.

When the ziti came out of the oven it did not look as appetizing as I remember Carmela Soprano's looking but after taking a bite out of the ziti I was quite happy that Mr. Gload seems to be better at cooking than he is at playing baseball.

I have another issue with this recipe though.  Certain recipes tell you to add certain ingredients (salt, oregano, cumin etc...) to taste.  Well, unless you made the recipe before it is difficult to know how much to add because many recipes you simply can't do so because it is still raw.   This is one of them.  While the ziti was not bad by any means, I think it needs just a tad bit more of a tomato sauce flavor to it.  I guess I'll just have to experiment with it a little more next time.  I am not sure whether this is due to the fact it contains three whole pounds of cheese, or not enough tomato/spaghetti sauce.  I would definitely eat it again but in my opinion it needs a bit of tweaking.