Wednesday, February 29, 2012

....To Annie.......

It has been a year since Margaret & I were back & forth on the phone trying to plan her niece Annie's 16th Birthday Celebration.  Those moments are vivid to me because it was a few days before the actual day and Mags was insisting on surprising Annie with a limo ride.   Annie's 16th birthday was particularly special to her.  We were also working on a super great CD that was a tribute to Annie & her 16th birthday. We laughed until we cried on the telephone as I browsed iTunes and found crazy songs & I would hold my phone to the computer so she could hear them ..... I've listed the songs below..... (I make CD's as birthday gifts a lot .... originally because it was inexpensive...but now my people kinda expect them...and they really like ' should come up with a little "signature" item that you give your loved ones ...they'll always remember you for it)    We took Annie's birthday CD and the new Black Keys CD ("Brothers" which in my opinion is the best CD to have hit the music world in at least a decade) into the limo & we drove all over Mt. Vernon, Illinois with the music blaring! What laughs we had going through the drive thru and ordering a bucket of chicken nuggets (mainly for Mac who was a bottomless pit) and snarfing red velvet cake balls that Abby & I brought for Annie. Margaret's mom, Flo (aka Fozie), and Annie's dad, Jerry, arranged for the limousine to take us around all the hot spots of the big city and it was truly memorable.

I've had many memories spill over me this past year where Margaret would be so insistent that we make a trip or see a show.  Sadly, it seems like Mags knew that we needed to make the most of all our times. We certainly did make some great memories, but how I wish she were here to make more. Mags spent the past year going to many concerts, shows, restaurants and events with friends & family... and if she couldn't be there...she was probably on the phone with us living the event vicariously through us. She was always calling me & giving me the rundown on someone's tale -- or her own. In April of last year, we high-tailed it to Columbia, MO, to see Cage the Elephant...... it was such a great weekend, staying with my sister, Becky & family...  we had lots of laughs, song & cheer. When we arrived at the Blue Note, there was a giant line winding around the building & down the block. Since we hadn't been there before, we asked some kids in line if this was for the show..... they looked perplexed then assured us that this was the right line. As we walked away, one of the 14 year old boys exclaimed "well you can tell that THEY'VE never been to a concert before.....!" That might've been one of the biggest laughs we had on the trip. And last fall she went to see the Foo Fighters in St. Louis and I went to see a Beatle tribute band the same evening... we both called the other numerous times & left voicemails on each other's phone of the sweet music we were listening to & we wished that the other could be along.

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 1st, will mark Annie's 17th birthday and I'm so grateful to have this fine young lady in my life. She's shown remarkable strength and resolve through many a rough day. I'm in awe of her and the many things she's accomplished.   I have had the great pleasure of spending time with her & my daughter, Abby, who is her "bestie" (but they seem more like sisters), on our many travels.  Margaret & I would have "life lesson sessions" with the girls where we would discuss important issues with them...drugs, drinking, boys, college, health and more.  A couple of summers ago Annie & I drove to Kent State College to pick up Abby at hockey camp.  Little did either girl know that this college had some history.  Abby in particular got pretty jazzed up after I told her about the students that had been killed during a political rally...back in 1970.  Annie pulled up the "Ohio" song by Neil Young and we listened to it numerous times...  I gave quite a lecture to them on keeping yourself safe at college and on the car ride home I requested that they write down what they had learned on this trip...I came across their writings the other day and here are some of their lessons: 
May 4, 1970 Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Neil Young song - 4 people died
Stay in your dorm, don't be a hippie and go to college
It was creepy
4 people died (they were students)
It was for the Vietnam War
There's a song about it; we went to the memorial today..i'm scared
I would've stayed in my dorm, only go to peace sit-ins
Kent State is scary...I'm scared now
Well....I wasn't really going for the scare factor...I just thought they should learn a little piece of history. And so they did.
I'd like to ask that you PLEASE send Annie Viola Jones your birthday wishes via commenting on my blog or on Facebook.    If you can't get either to work for  you...send me an email & I promise she'll get the message 
Even if you don't know Annie ..... trust'll be glad you wished her a day of sunshine & blessings.
Peace & Rock & Roll,
Lanea Stagg
Recipe Records Cookbook

Annie's 16th Birthday Song List:
Happy Birthday Annie (just a generic tune)
Annie (the Broadway Show Tune)
Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen (Neil Sedaka)
Birthday (The Beatles)
Sixteen Candles (The Crests)
Flo  (Smash Mouth)
Jerry (John Mellencamp)
Abby  (Willy McGee - a REALLY interesting song)
Maggie's Farm  (Rage Against the Machine)
All for Leyna  (Billy Joel)
M.A.C.  (by Baby Drew...this turned out to be our most fave song I think)
You're My Best Friend (Queen....there it is....)
Christine Sixteen  (Kiss)
Happy Birthday Punk Rocker  (Jeremy Sweet)
Birthday  (Flo Rida)
Holiday  (Vampire Weekend)
Annie's Song  (John Denver)
TiK ToK  (Ke$ha)
New York Groove  (Ace Frehley)
Dreamboat Annie  (Heart)
Temporary Home  (Carrie Underwood ...  sniff sniff)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sharp & Edgy....the Steel Cook Competition in Evansville

I rarely have much time to watch television due to the many requirements of kids, work & play.  I've missed out on the world of Hell's Kitchen and other chef competitions that I'd normally enjoy watching if I were only at home. One of Margaret's friends from the days of radio, Debra, helps her sister with a cupcake store in St. Louis. Jilly's Cupcake Bar is a fantastic bakery & restaurant that is amazingly cool and absolutely delectable. Jilly's is unique also due to the fact that they won the Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" episode last year and their chef, Casey, was a returning contestant on the recent first episode for this season.

After a 'Lucy & Ethel' - type text conversation one night near Christmas, Debra called me a 'big dork' because I just couldn't tell what everyone was trying to do ...and then I realized I was really out of the loop.  Jilly's chef Casey is phenomenal and I am sure that he is enjoying much success due to his excellence in competing on "Cupcake Wars".  I have enjoyed their fantastic delicacies and suggest you do so as well.  I also noted that the chef competitions on television have taken cooking to a new competitive level and it's pretty exciting.

This leads me to a fantastic event this weekend at Evansville's Casino Aztar where you can see a cooking competition LIVE.  On Sunday, Feb. 19th from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, I will have the great honor of serving as one of the judges for Evansville's next "Steel Cook".  Eight local restaurant chefs will be competing for the crown and title of "Steel Cook."  Last year's winner was Joshua Armstrong from Riverview by Firefly, beating out Kirby's Fine Dining Chef, Scott Schymick who earned the first crown.  This year's contenders are Acropolis, Zuki, Cavanaughs, Kan Pai, Riverview by Firefly, Lorenzo's, Rolling Hills Country Club and three top culinary students from Ivy Tech. Using a common pantry of food items readily available in most area home kitchens and three “secret ingredients” that will be kept under wraps until seconds before the actual competition begins, these professionals will have to call upon every ounce of experience and know-how to advance through the opening “Quick-Fire” rounds to the final round where a panel of three judges will determine whose fare is beyond compare!  Radio and TV personality Brian Jackson will provide the play-by-play and commentary while a camera crew provides close-ups of the sizzling action on giant screens. Some 10 area restaurants will be offering their top creations at just $2.50 per plate, and Casino Aztar will provide a sumptuous cash bar. And  – all the proceeds from this exciting event will fund the Tri State Food Bank. Tickets are limited to 500 only, and are available at participating restaurants and from the TriState food bank or online at Or call 812-99-4465.Any remaining tickets will be available at the door. Don’t miss this historic event and food fest!

And any event wouldn't be complete without Lanea's Suggested Song List......

It Must Be Jelly ('Cause Jam Don't Shake Like That) - Woody Herman...oh yeah.....thanks Frank!!
Hey Good Lookin'(Watcha Got Cookin'?)..... Hank Williams
Eat to the Beat ..... Blondie
Home Cookin' .... Junior Walker
Come On-A My House ..... Rosemary Clooney
Savoy Truffle ..... The Beatles
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant ..... Billy Joel
TV Dinners ..... ZZ Top
Ice Cream Castles ... TIME
Cheeseburger in Paradise ..... Jimmy Buffet
Hot Dogs & Hamburgers ..... John Mellencamp
Breakfast in America ..... Supertramp
Buttermilk Biscuits ..... Sir Mix-A-Lot
The Lemon Song ..... Led Zeppelin

Tickets are available online for purchase at Steel Cook on TicketLeap (add'l online fee)
or you can purchase from Tri-State Food Bank (812-425-0775) or from Premiere Marketing Services (812-499-4465) or by email at
Don't miss this fundraiser for the Tristate Food Bank. To find out more about the food bank, go to

Check out Jilly's Cupcake Bar & Cafe - 8509 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis 63124

Peace & Rock & Roll,

Recipe Records

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Whitney, Bruno & The Grammy's

Unfortunately I wasn't able to view the Grammy's on Sunday night as I was driving home from my daughter's hockey practice in Cleveland, Ohio. All you rockers know that Cleveland Rocks and especially the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which we were able to visit briefly. The vibe there was heavy with the news of Whitney Houston's death, however, in a spin of hilarity, a news reporter nabbed Abby & I for some comedy footage in his piece on Whitney. I told him "hey, if you wanna include a couple of hobos from Indiana..that's cool, especially since we don't know anyone in Cleveland" . His footage included everything except the kind words I had to say about Whitney Houston.  I am saddened for the family of that beautiful, talented woman.

Turning to the Grammy's.......I have heard a lot of chatter about this year's Grammy's, and would LOVE to hear reports from you friends. In my mind, the Grammy's are kind of like the sprinkles on a cupcake. They glitz it up, give you something extra to nibble on, but they aren't really necessary for the basic flavor & substance of the cake.  The performers are usually the most popular stars that you hear on mainstream radio and I love that...but it's the little guys that I miss seeing as well.   I do love getting to see all of the performers - especially my faves like Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney.... But ever since I was a little girl it seemed to me that the people who really made music rock were never on the stage. I vividly remember the year that Fleetwood Mac won all those awards for "Rumours" (I think).... and all I could think of was ....c'mon "Detroit Rock City" is WAYYYY better than that !

The most awesome Bruno Mars performed at the show and also was nominated. I have to say that I think

Bruno Mars is absolutely the bomb-- I love his voice which reminds me of the unmistakable Stevie Wonder. Bruno's writing partner, Philip Lawrence, is an Evansville native and attended the same high school that my kids now attend. These guys write some of the GREATEST pop songs which are clean, clear and chock full of superb lyrics. I had the extreme pleasure of interviewing Philip for a magazine article in Evansville a couple of years ago. Philip & Bruno had been writing together for quite sometime and their careers were just getting crazy.  Philip was gracious and kind in speaking with me for the mag. A couple months after that he was in Evansville visiting family and he called me up & invited me to his newborn son's baby shower. You have no idea what a spin my daughter & I were in when we got to meet him (and his family) . I proudly shook Philip's hand and I told him that he had unlimited talent and his career was going to skyrocket. I also thanked him for writing songs that I will allow my daughter to listen to. This was one of those great memories that I get to share with my daughter and I'm so grateful.  I'm also so happy to see the success that is coming to those boys who have worked hard to get there. 

Check out this photo of Philip with his partner Bruno, along with Ari Levine.

So...since I don't have much information to offer you on this year's Grammy's (except for the fact that YES.... Dave Grohl deserves any and every award available) .... why don't you leave a comment & tell ME your thoughts on the Grammys.

Watch for my blogpost tomorrow about an upcoming chef competition in Evansville ....

Peace & Rock & Roll,
Recipe Records

Monday, February 6, 2012

Heartbreaker... salt shaker ......

On my way to work this bright Monday morning I was thinking about my next blogpost and I chuckled when I heard a song called "Hair of the Dog" by Nazareth explode onto the airwaves.  The first line of the song is a "mondegreen" for me, which is a misheard song lyric.  We wrote a chapter about mondegreens in Recipe Records, wherein we listed a couple dozen misheard song lyrics, such as the number one mondegreen "Scuse me while I kiss this guy" by Jimi Hendrix; the actual lyric being "'Scuse me while I kiss THE sky."  The first line of the Nazareth song has to do with my topic this week, introducing you to another cookbook by Evansville resident, Erik Williams.

Back to the song for a moment.....  I remember distinctly the first time I heard this song because I was with my Mom and it contained a REALLY bad word and I was waiting for her reaction ..... it's got a great cow bell and hey, I always was a sucker for percussion.  I've always thought the first line of the song was:   "Heartbreaker .... Salt Shaker ... "

So I thought this song would be a perfect tie in for Erik's book; that is until I googled the lyrics and found that they are NOT saying Salt Shaker .... they are saying Soul Shaker.  Well... let's call it close.   I've included a link to youtube so you can see if you hear what I've heard for over 30 years....

Erik Williams is a 33 year-old soon-to-be new father, who was the recipient of a heart transplant a year ago.  Erik penned his cookbook, Breaking the Salt Habit, after becoming what I call a self-made expert at the art of preparing and eating a low sodium diet.

Williams was born with a congenital heart defect which ultimately led to the transplant, however he delayed the urgency of the transplant by four years due to his complete diet rehabilitation.  He read, cooked, experimented and stayed focused until he compiled a fabulous collection of information.  Erik told me he simply wants to help other people who are trying to adopt a low sodium diet.  The information is extremely meticulous and complete.  Not to mention the fantastic recipes which are created for the average household, like mine, that operates on basic, simple ingredients.   Years ago I developed hypertension and franticly researched low sodium diets, but gave up because it seemed impossible to establish new habits.  Erik's book has given me new hope for preparing healthy, delicious foods and also choosing healthy foods in restaurants.  The recipes are delicious and will appeal to those folks who do not need to monitor sodium intake as well. 

Erik's book can be found on his website for $12.95 or
He also writes a fabulous blog which contains great low sodium tips and information:

Erik kindly shares his recipe for slow cooker chili-- along with some great tips for prepping the ingredients.

Slow Cooker Chili - by Erik Williams
from his cookbook:  Breaking the Salt Habit

2 lb. extra lean ground beef or ground turkey
2 - 8 oz. cans NSA tomato sauce (no sodium added - there are lots of products like this)
2  -  14.5 oz. cans kidney beans
2  -  14.5 oz. cans pinto beans (Erik recommends reading the labels to find the lowest sodium beans & drain & rinse the beans to lower the sodium content)
1 c. chopped onion
1  -  4 oz. can green chiles
1/2 c. chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
2  -  14.5 oz. cans NSA diced tomatoes
2 1/2 tsp. cumin
2  -  3 Tbsp. chili powder (or to taste) (see below for his no sodium chili powder recipe)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sugar (you can substitute an equivalent sugar substitute)

Directions:  Brown ground beef or turkey in skillet.  Add all ingredients in slow cooker.  Stir.  Let cook for 8-9 hours on low.  Yields 8 - 1 cup servings.  Williams even includes nutritional information for every recipe.... so for instance the sodium intake for this recipe made with ground beef is 367 mg per serving.

*No Sodium Classic Chili Powder (less than 1 mg) - 3 Tbsp. Paprika, 2 tsp. Oregano, 1 1/2 tsp. Cumin, 1 tsp. Tumeric, 1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder, 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small container (yields 15 tsp.)

Be sure to grab a copy of this book and quickly work some of these recipes into your lifestyle. Take advantage of Erik's hard work of eliminating the confusing world of sodium intake and even if you try only one new recipe a week, you are creating a healthier life for you and your loved ones. 

I still think "heart breaker...salt shaker" sounds cooler .....

Send me an email to put your name in a drawing for a free copy of Recipe Records and Breaking the Salt Habit.

Please share my blog & Erik's blog with your friends!

Peace & Rock & Roll,

Lanea Stagg
Recipe Records
Evansville, Indiana