16 November 2010

Pasta E Fagioli With Sausage

Currently listening to From Above by Ben Folds and Nick Hornby

A quick internet search will reveal that there are many different versions of this dish running around Italy. It's apparently typically known as a peasant dish, but it's Italian and has cannellini beans which Charlee and I are huge fans of. Most versions are soupy, but I think I prefer less liquid, which makes it more of a pasta dish. This version came from NPR, but I'm not one to stick to a recipe word for word, and having made this a few times now, I'm confident I can have a go at this from memory.

Salt and Pepper
2 cups cannellini beans
5 cups of water
6-8 stems of thyme
4-6 cloves of garlic smashed and roughly chopped
2 Sage leaves minced
Olive oil
4 sausages sliced (any sweet Italian sausage will work)
4 Roma tomatoes seeded, chopped
1 pound of mini fusilli pasta, or something similar
1/2 to 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Simmer the beans for 40 minutes in a pot with the water, half the garlic, the thyme and pepper. Once cooked soft, drain the beans, (saving the water), remove the thyme stems, and season with salt. Meanwhile cook your pasta.

In a pan heat up about 1/3 cup of olive oil, and cook the remaining garlic and sage for about a minute on medium low heat. Add the tomatoes, sausage, and 1/2 to 1 cup of the water from the beans. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the beans to the tomatoes and sausage and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Mix the pasta with the beans and sausage, toss with salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar to taste. If you want a soupier dish add more of the water from the beans, but I prefer mine less soupy. Looking back, some shredded parm would also top this off well.

Honestly, the only reason I'm posting this is because I'm lazy and can't be arsed to dig through all my recipe books to write this down.

11 November 2010

Liverpool Thus Far

Currently listening to Abandon by French Kicks

We're about a third of the way through the Premiership, and looking over my predictions below, I'm not that far off. I must admit that I'm rather shocked by the form displayed by both Newcastle and Bolton. Having said that, let's not pretend that Bolton can keep this up, but I'm not so quick to write off Newcastle though. They've got the in form striker of the moment (Andy Carroll), and could quite possible ride him to a top half finish.

As for my Liverpool, I'll say this... (and I say this having watched all but the United match)

We're not as far off as some people would have you believe. I still think we'll struggle to finish in the top 4, but I think my prediction of a 5th place finish is spot on. Spurs have seen the effects of just what I spoke about in my last post, Champions League football. They've racked up injuries along their back line at a frightening pace, and they're beginning to see what Liverpool usually has to deal with. A glut of fixtures which puts even more pressure on a thin squad.

Liverpool meanwhile have have been able to quietly go about their business in the Europa League, trotting out reserves and backups in non-league matches, allowing us to focus on the task at hand, getting back to Champions League football. Much has already been made of the ownership situation and how much we've improved on that front, so I don't think I need to rehash those details. What is important to note however, is the shift in policy with the new regime. For awhile now, we've focused our view on the present. We've ignored the future and our youth system is devoid of major talents as a result. In the past we didn't have the money to buy younger players to mold into a first team player, we had to resort to buying risky options (Aquilani), or players who were aging and possibly past their prime (Kyrgiakos). However with the hiring of Damien Comolli to be our new director of football strategy, (who signed the majority of Arsenal's Invincibles and the majority of the current Spurs side), it appears a shift to youth is on the cards.

It's about time. Maybe now I won't have to read about all the rumors of the best young players in football being linked with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Barca, Madrid and United. Maybe now Liverpool will get back to what they used to be, and maybe now we can get back to competing for trophies. If Mr. Comolli needs any help identifying talent, I'd be more than happy to help. I'm pretty good on Football Manager at building clubs, and I've even been offered the chance to manage England. Damien Comolli, if you're listening (which I know you're not), we need a left winger. It just so happens that one of the brightest stars in all of football plays out on the left, and that if we buy him now, we could get the jump on all the other clubs trailing him.

Eden Hazard

02 August 2010

Here's To A Good Season (For a change)

It's been an eventful summer, what with the World Cup keeping everyone's attention firmly fixated on football. Beyond the World Cup, it's been an eventful summer both on and off the pitch for a number of clubs and players. Here are my "pre-season" thoughts on the clubs that interest me... (and my thoughts on a few that don't. I'm looking at all you Mancs out there! No not you Liam... or you Noel.)

1- First and foremost, it's been an exhausting summer for Liverpool and it's fans. We've fired our Champions League winning manager, we've hired an Englishman, sold players, bought few, brought back others we had originally let go, and have seen our club put up for sale. Did I mention that all this is on the back of one of the worst seasons in recent memory?

There is still loads to cheer about. We brought a London lad up north, hired a brilliant manager, and could potentially be sold to the wealthiest of wealthiest investors. Looking at our squad we appear to have quality all over the pitch, despite our obvious lack of depth. Our big three , (Cole, Torres, and Gerrard), are as good as any trio around the world, and did I mention that we have a top 5 keeper?

Still, there is good reason to be cautious. Torres is injury prone, and we have little to no depth. Couple that with the sudden rise of Citeh and I can see us finishing anywhere from 4th to 6th. Two things I know, Arsenal will not challenge for the title and Citeh will challenge United for the title as best in Manchester. The table will look something like this...

1- Chelski
2a- United
2b- Citeh
4- the Gooners
5a- Liverpool
5b- Spurs

You heard it here first.

2- Rangers will not retain the title. The Bhoys are in a "state of flux", to borrow the tag line from my favorite Bloc Party song, this will see them knocked out of Europe after their second leg against Braga. However, this will also allow them to focus on the SPL. Rangers have been selling everything not nailed down, and can't afford to bring in replacements. Boyd.. gone. Wilson... gone. Thompson... gone. Miller... looking to be gone. Do I think the basketcase John Fleck is ready to step up? Doubtful, maybe Lafferty will... again, doubtful. Sorry Steven Davis, I love you but we're in for a long season.

3- Germany will again be dominated by Munich. What else is new? The big question is if Schalke can avoid the dreaded 2nd season slump in Germany. Most clubs in Germany not based in Munich have a tough time competing after earning the right to play in Europe. The toll of playing so many matches begins to pile up for clubs that are hurting to buy quality depth already. Munich gets around it because they have some of the most lucrative sponsorship deals in modern day football. They can afford to splash the cash, but in general the payday from the Bundesliga isn't nearly enough to help clubs purchase the depth necessary to compete on a continental basis. They tend to have to develop players, which is why I look to Leverkusen or Bremen to finish second behind Munich this year and not Schalke. Leverkusen, while not having won anything... well... ever. Have quality everywhere, plus the best keeper in the Bundesliga. Bremen meanwhile, can count on two of the trickiest players in Germany. Ozil and Marko Marin (both of which are only 21).

4- PSG. The less said the better. We'll finish midtable... again. but I'm not holding my breath, we may be even worse than last season. We do have one of the best young centerbacks in the game if that counts for anything. (Mamadou Sakho)

The one good thing about France is that the league is always wide open. The same cannot be said for...

5- Spain will again be dominated by Barca and Madrid. Yawn....

6- Ajax will welcome back Martin Jol who almost found his way to Fulham. Ajax is bringing back the beautiful flowing football of Johan Cruyff, thanks to the wonderful play of Luis Suarez. Suarez looks to be staying at the club, at least until the winter market. Keep an eye out for Christian Eriksen. Despite only being 18, he's already made 15 senior appearances for the club and is being trailed by most of the major clubs in Europe.

7- Inter will retain the title, in a defensive fashion as is the case with Rafa. The big question will be if AC Milan can bounce back. They had a rough season and are seen by most as an aging club. They finished well off the pace and honestly I don't see them improving from last season.

20 April 2010

Italian Serie A shakeup

All around Europe leagues are coming to a close, and if you're like most of my friends you've only really been paying attention to England. If that's the case then you're really missing out. This year has been one of the stranger years in Italian football, but it's made for one of the more exciting finishes.

All season long Inter has been the talk of Italy. They've got the coach, they've got the players, and they're the returning champs. Last season they won the league by 10 points over rivals Juventus and Milan, however this season the cracks have begun to show.

It's never been an easy road for Jose at Inter. He's not made many friends within the Italian media and he's even alienated some players. It's widely known that he's not fond of Balotelli's work ethic. However the club has talent, (although like much of the Italy, they're aging), and they were always expected to be atop the table.

What is surprising is the surging Roma. They finished last season 6th in the table and few expected them to mount a serious challenge to Inter, having made few serious changes to last season's roster, (However they did sell one of their major play makers to Liverpool, Aquilani). One change has been the loan of Luca Toni. Toni is well known in Italy having starred at Fiorentina and Palermo, however his switch to Bayern didn't go as planned, and he found himself back in Italy, and surprisingly atop the table.

Meanwhile such illustrious clubs as Juventus and AC Milan find themselves in a rather precarious position. Much talk has been made of Liverpool's struggles this season and how they are likely to miss out on the Champions League, but just as shocking as Liverpool missing out, is the fact that Juventus is sitting 7th and may miss out on Europe altogether. Not what a club who brought in the likes of Diego over the summer was expecting. I must admit that I do find it interesting that Juventus recently approached Rafa Benitez at Liverpool about being their manager. That's simply trading one incompetent manager for another.

There are just 4 match days left in Serie A, and Milan who sit in third are all but eliminated. It's going to come down to the surprising Roma and Inter to battle it out for the top spot. I'll be pulling for Roma who sit a point up on Inter as we speak. I must admit to having a soft spot for Riise, Totti, and De Rossi. In fact, my Riise Liverpool jersey still hangs in my closet.

Both clubs have favorable schedules to close out the season (however Inter still have to deal with Barca in the Champions League), but I'm hoping Inter stumbles, Jose gets fired, Rafa heads to Real or Juve, and Jose makes his way to Liverpool. It's a dream I know, but with the Americans selling Liverpool, we can finally dream.

The Reset Button

So I've come to realize that when it comes to posting blogs, I'm as consistent as... well I'm not very consistent. I find myself thinking of things to post, and then the pressure sets in. I type out a post and then immediately delete it.

I guess I'll just focus on the things that interest me the most. Those things being; beer, music, and soccer. I'm sure I'll discuss other things that interest me along the way, (such as most things I read on the Huffington Post), but by focusing on what I enjoy most, I'll be able to continue this going forward.

11 January 2010

A Not So Short Response

My amazing fiancee posted a rather candid blog and I'd like to take a moment to kind of respond. Not really for anyone else, but just for her.

Your feelings are not irrational, I've felt the same way at times. But then I realize that, as strange as it sounds, I love you more now than I ever have.

-you're the girl who knows that his name isn't Anderson Cooper, it's Anderson Cooper 360
-you're the girl who took care of me when I drank far too much after Daniel's wedding
-you're the girl who acted like she didn't hear me when I first told you that I loved you, and made me repeat it again
-you're the girl who I had to bail out of jail
-you're the girl who I spent the most amazing weekend in Nashville with
-you're the girl who wears dresses all the time, and you look so beautiful doing so
-you're the girl who gives our dogs voices
-you're the girl who doesn't complain when I force you to listen to Morrissey nonstop in the car
-you're the girl who bought me penguin pants
-you're the girl who does the robot
-you're the girl who corrects me when I finish a sentence with "at"
-you're the girl who goes out with me at 1230 at night to get a cherry Dr Pepper from Sonic
-you're the girl who I spend hours upon hours with in Home Depot picking out paint
-you're the girl who almost made me pass out when we had our first kiss
-you're the girl who used to get drunk and tell me how you just wanted to get married
-you're the girl who gave me a Morrissey birthday cake
-you're the girl who was there when I fell at the bottom of the stairway that night it was raining
-you're the girl who eats cous cous and shrimp and grits with me
-you're the girl who sleeps in a hooded sweatshirt, with the hood on
-you're the girl who has spent the last 6 months waiting for me to come

these are the reasons I love you, nothing shallow or superficial. They may sound like the simplest things, but when you look at them together, you realize that in the two years we've been together, we've shared a lifetime of memories. These are things that not even 20 years apart could change, much less 6 months.

I'm not niave enough to think that we haven't changed. But despite what changes you may or may not have made, you're still "the girl" I talked about up there. You're still Charlee, and I'm still Gene. I'm still that guy who left you pudding on your windshield when you were sick, and who doesn't hesitate to leave the house at all hours to get you Gatorade, and I still love you more than I ever knew I could.

I don't know any other way to feel about you, other than to just love you. You really are the missing piece in the puzzle that is my life. There will be a bit of an adjustment period when I get home, we both know that, but our hearts recognize their reflection in each other. We'll be back to the way we were, the most sickening and in love couple anyone knows. Because you're "the girl" and I'm "the guy", and that's much more than 6 months could ever change.

P.S.- I promise to take care of the dogs for the first month I'm back