Adios, Texas!

The end of my first trip to Texas in three years is nigh and I am sipping one of my last American beers in the Houston airport.  Thanks to Google, I’m on free wi-fi and get to catch up on some mind numbing web surfing and prepare for the 12 hour flight ahead.

This has been an incredible trip.  Sitting in Prague, only glued into the Internet and a smattering of US news, one can get the impression that America has seen its last best days.  Being here, in person, amongst Texans, I get a completely different impression.  Yes, times are hard.  Some are faring better than others in these dicey economic times but most are getting by or will be in short measure.  The quality of life here continues to be one of the highest and most egalitarian that I have seen anywhere in the world.  And, if your idea of good living is great music, pretty country, succulent BBQ and incredible Tex-Mex, then everyone here is living like a king.

The American dream continues to roll on, meaning different things to different people.  Many are oblivious to what is happening outside their towns, and contrary to popular thought, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It hasn’t been many generations since man has had reason to worry about what is going on in other places other than the 20 city blocks that they frequent.  Kind of hard to blame them, isn’t it?

Typically, trips like these leave me conflicted.  This one is no different.  Family and friends are in abundance here and I miss and love each one of them.  But we’ve also made a really good life over in the Czech Republic.  We’ve been blessed with great friends, days that are always interesting and unpredictable and the chance of a lifetime.  Luckily, Mrs. NH and I agree that we’re not quite ready for the end of this chapter abroad.

That being said, there’s no place in the world like this great state.  It has everything that is great about this country. The best thing is, as we mess around abroad, Texas just seems to keep on keepin’ on and get better on the way.  So, if this Russian analyst is, in fact, correct, at least I can still be a Texan.

Baked Panko Onion Rings

Last night I tried a recipe that I had been wanting to try for quite a while.  I first read about Panko Onion Rings on the “Crepes of Wrath” site. As it turns out, the author of that site was inspired by a recipe on this site.  Well, after seeing the pictures on both pages, I got hungry enough to try them myself!

One thing to keep in mind with this recipe.   Czech onions are infamously stinky.   There are no “sweet” onions that I have ever come across in this country and the thought of finding a “Vidalia” is delusional.  Still, something about baking the onions in this recipe brings out the sweetness of the onion – even a Czech onion.

After trying this recipe, I’ve decided that panko is one of the best ingredients out there.   It puts the crunch into any item you like.  Plus, I never would have thought of frying onion rings at home before.  Too much mess. But baking these dudes is healthier and much easier to clean up.

Here’s the recipe.  I modified it slightly from both sites.

2 medium onions sliced into 1/2 inch rings

1 1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup panko
Salt and pepper

Mix egg and milk in a bowl. On one plate, put flour. On another plate mix panko and S&P. Dredge onion rings in flour, then egg/milk, then panko/S&P.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and into a 450 degree F oven for 10-12 minutes.

Serves 2 reasonable adults or 1 hungry bachelor.  Oh, and there are no pictures because the NH girls left and took the cameras with them.  Somehow, though,  I think I might be making these for them when we meet up soon in Texas.

Advertising Culture Shock in Washington, DC

While back home in DC, I was whacked up the side of the head with the sheer volume of advertising and promotion everywhere. Yeah, there are ads in Prague but they’re not in my language so I don’t pay much attention to them. As for TV, the satellite service I have has PSA’s instead of the normal ads so the barrage in the US of A came as a bit of a shock.

The strangest was the Ambien CR ad disclaimer that ran during the spot. It went something like this:

AMBIEN and AMBIEN CR are treatment options you and your doctor can consider along with lifestyle changes. When taking either of them, don’t drive or operate machinery. Plan to devote 7 to 8 hours to sleep before being active. Sleepwalking, and eating or driving while not fully awake, with memory loss for the event, as well as abnormal behaviors such as being more outgoing or aggressive than normal, confusion, agitation, and hallucinations may occur. Don’t take it with alcohol as it may increase these behaviors. In patients with depression, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide may occur. If you experience any of these behaviors contact your doctor immediately.

Shoot, I’ll say.  Sounds like this pill may get rid of your sleeping problem but give you a host of others!  It also makes me just think that it is the pill form of this – minus the blueberry flavor.  To each his own!