Vicky Collins Online

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Start a Holiday Tradition: Christmas Tamales

Every year on Christmas eve I make tamales for my family and neighbors. It has become a holiday tradition and labor of love and my girlfriends join me with their own recipes in my kitchen. We cook our tamales and socialize and drink and it’s all very festive. In the event you’d like to start a tamale tradition of your own, here’s a great recipe. My family loves it and insist I make them every year.  Happy holidays to everyone.

Chicken Tamales Recipe from Maseca Collection – Jesus Bojorquez

Mexican Recipe Ingredients:

6 cups Maseca Corn Masa Mix for Tamales
6 cups Chicken broth
1 cup corn oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 large rotisserie chicken
2 cans salsa verde or tomatillo sauce
1 bag corn husks

Mexican Recipe Instructions:

Soak the corn husks in warm water until soft.
Blend with an electric mixer Maseca corn masa mix for tamales, corn oil, salt, baking powder and the chicken broth to obtain a consistent mixture.
Shred the chicken and marinate in the green salsa or tomatillo sauce.
Spread masa evenly over corn husks, and spread a spoonful of marinated chicken on top of the masa.
Fold the sides of the corn husk to center over the masa so that they overlap to make along package.
Fold the empty part of the husk under so that it rest against the side of the tamale with a seam.
Place the tamales in a steamer and cook tamales for 35-40 minutes. Check every 20 minutes.The tamales are cooked when they separate easily from the corn husk.

Enjoy this delicious chicken tamales Mexican food recipe! I also add shredded Colby/Jack cheese to each tamale.

Preparation Time (min): 60
Cook Time (min): 60
Prep Tool: Tamale Steamer

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

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Facetime Instead of Facebook: 36 Hours in Honolulu

The Sunday New York Times had a feature in its Travel Section today on how to spend 36 hours in Honolulu.  It singled out some of my favorite places like Kapiolani Park, Chinatown and the drive from Hanauma Bay to Waimanalo with stops at Sandy Beach and Makapuu.  With no disrespect to the author, Jocelyn Fujii, I would like to suggest my own itinerary based on recent travels and a reunion with Na Kani Pela, a choir I sang with in high school that represented Hawaii for the Bicentennial celebration.  I guarantee you will have a magical time.

Na Kani Pela choir gathers for 35th Reunion in Honolulu.

First, start by bringing in the people who made your high school years memorable.  Collect them all on Facebook then invite them and their families for a big reunion bash.  Bug them until they say yes, as showing up for a reunion 35 years later gives people considerable angst.  Get people warmed up with a small gathering at the Ground Floor on Richards Street in downtown Honolulu and listen to some Hawaiian music.  Hold a pot luck at the home of your calabash mama who looks just like she did 35 years ago.  Watch the spark of recognition in her eyes with each arrival and the tears of joy as she gives you a huge ohana hug.  Realize you are older now then she was back in 1976.  Shudder!  Celebrate as each of your high school friends walks through the door.  Sing the songs that were the soundtrack of your youth.  Take photos.  Hug alot.  Talk story.  Bring tons of food and pig out.

Stay in room 1431 of the Waikiki Beach Marriott with a view of Honolulu that will make you never want to leave.  Spend time with your sisters for the first time in three decades on your island home.  Bring your sons along as dates.  Let them roam around Waikiki like you did when you were teenagers.  Get up early every day and walk around Diamond Head.  Discover the Farmers Market at Kapiolani Community College.  Have inari sushi, fried green tomatoes and shave ice for breakfast.  Talk to a homeless man named George on Kalakaua Avenue who reminds you that “just because you don’t have a roof over your head, doesn’t mean you don’t have a home.”  Visit your favorite beaches on Oahu.  Eat plate lunch at Zippy’s, L & L, Kaneke’s and Ted’s Bakery.  Have breakfast at Wailana.  Char siu omelet.  Ono!

Na Kani Pela picnic in Waimanalo

Have a picnic on the beach at Sherwood’s in Waimanalo.  Make Kukui Nut leis with your buddies and talk more story.  Watch your children play in the surf and get stung by Portuguese Man of Wars just like you did when you were a kid.  Be baffled as they stay in the water even though the pain makes them want to jump out of their shorts.  Realize that if your son was growing up in Hawaii today it would be a perfect fit just like it was for you so many years ago.  Have a banquet at the Elk’s Club and watch 4th of July fireworks in the distance.  Ooh and aah!  See all your friends in their muumuus and aloha shirts.  Realize you are all older and a few pounds heavier but you can still sing and raise the roof like you did when you were teenagers.  Watch two generations of hula dancers and tell your friends just how much they meant in your life.  Hug some more, this time holding on tighter, as you say goodbye for now.

Sunset on Waikiki Beach

There is no place like Hawaii, and to me, there is no place like Honolulu, where I grew up and still continue to call home.  The only problem is that you eventually have to leave.  36 hours go by quickly.  This time when I flew back to the mainland over the lights of Waikiki I took so much more with me.  I carried my friends from Na Kani Pela, I took a tropical sea of memories and the music that played in the background of my youth.  I came back to Colorado with a full heart and a sense of how lucky I was to be a kid who grew up in a place like that, with friends like that, surrounded by love like that.  That’s how you spend 36 hours in Honolulu.  Now we’ll have to stay in touch on Facebook.

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2010. That’s about 26 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 85 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 193 posts. There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 12mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 7th with 215 views. The most popular post that day was Meeting Aron Ralston .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, yosemitepark.com, en.wordpress.com, twitter.com, and teletrendstv.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for aron ralston, acid attack, acid face, acid throwing, and acid attack victims.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Meeting Aron Ralston December 2009
1 comment

2

Juliette’s Acid Attack December 2008
1 comment

3

Yosemite: From Farm to Table July 2009
1 comment

4

Favela Tour in Rio de Janeiro May 2008
6 comments

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Christmas Tamales

Every year on Christmas eve I make tamales for my family and neighbors. It has become a holiday tradition and labor of love and my girlfriends join me with their own recipes in my kitchen. We cook our tamales and socialize and it’s all very festive. In the event you’d like to start a tamale tradition of your own, here’s a great recipe. Happy holidays to everyone.

Chicken Tamales Recipe from Maseca Collection – Jesus Bojorquez

Mexican Recipe Ingredients:

6 cups Maseca Corn Masa Mix for Tamales
6 cups Chicken broth
1 cup corn oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 large rotisserie chicken
2 cans salsa verde or tomatillo sauce
1 bag corn husks

Mexican Recipe Instructions:

Soak the corn husks in warm water until soft.
Blend with an electric mixer Maseca corn masa mix for tamales, corn oil, salt, baking powder and the chicken broth to obtain a consistent mixture.
Shred the chicken and marinate in the green salsa or tomatillo sauce.
Spread masa evenly over corn husks, and spread a spoonful of marinated chicken on top of the masa.
Fold the sides of the corn husk to center over the masa so that they overlap to make along package.
Fold the empty part of the husk under so that it rest against the side of the tamale with a seam.
Place the tamales in a steamer and cook tamales for 35-40 minutes. Check every 20 minutes.The tamales are cooked when they separate easily from the corn husk.

Enjoy this delicious chicken tamales Mexican food recipe! I also add shredded Colby/Jack cheese to each tamale.

Preparation Time (min): 60
Cook Time (min): 60
Prep Tool: Tamale Steamer

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Waste Not, Want Not

The other night my colleagues and I ordered pizza to be delivered to our workplace at the International Broadcast Centre during our shift at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. There have been tons of issues with the catering here so we had food brought in. At the end of the evening there were still four untouched boxes of pizza that were cold and had been sitting around. We threw them out. On our way back to our hotels we walked past all the security personnel who would be on alert all night and regretted our decision to waste the food. With that in mind I was very gratified today to see what my colleague, Anu, did at a local shopping area. We were eating street food and she ordered something she could not finish. Instead of throwing it away, like we would do in the states, she handed her unfinished dish of lentils to a young boy who gobbled it up. In a country with so much poverty I found it inspiring to pass the food to a stranger rather than throw it in the bin. It was much more dignified for the lad to accept the kindness of Anu than to be hungry or beg or fish the food out of the trash. Anu said if she puts something on her plate she must finish it or she feels bad. If she can’t finish then she shares. It was a win-win for both Anu and the boy and food for thought for this visitor.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Benchwarmers Bails

Benchwarmers Tavern and Grill opened about a month ago in my Centennial, Colorado neighborhood then just yesterday the restaurant, which was an anchor of the retail complex at Arapahoe and Peoria, closed down.  Apparently they stiffed all their employees as they shut the door.  I heard about it on 9News.  It’s all very puzzling but I wonder if something I witnessed might have been part of the reason they ran out of money.  When the restaurant opened I took my 12 year old son to eat there.  Immediately I saw it was kind of a Hooters of sports bars.  The waitresses wore short shorts that climbed up their butts and tight referee tops that were cut low so you could see their red push up bras.  You understood right away what kind of a crowd they were going after.  What really offended me though was that I sat at an adjacent table while the 50 something male manager was doing a job interview.  A lovely young woman came in looking for a waitress job.  She apparently was being mistreated by the boss she was working for and was looking for something else.  The Benchwarmers manager spoke to her and the only thing they discussed (besides her woes at her job) was how she needed to go to see this group of women that would make her model the uniform and see how she looked in it.  Then if they approved of her she could get hired.  I mentioned that I overheard this to the manager.  He kind of shrugged it off then returned to the table a few minutes later to reassure me he talks to them more in depth when they return after their audition.  He also told me it was like he had 30 daughters.  I immediately decided that I did not want my money to flow through Benchwarmers and I would not be returning.  I am not a prude by any means but I felt the restaurant was exploiting women and was not appropriate for a family neighborhood.  I don’t think my high school aged son or husband agree but as a mom I found the place distasteful.  I wonder if other women had the same reaction and that is why Benchwarmers is failing.  My heart bleeds for the young women that were not only exploited but also screwed. Shame on you, Benchwarmers!

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Oil Spill: The Ripple Effect

I finally got to the Gulf coast to work on a story about the oil spill for the PBS Newshour. I didn’t see any oil but what I saw was a a boat load of fear. Correspondent Tom Bearden and I visited Bayou La Batre, Alabama to attend a town hall meeting with Ken Feinberg, the Massachusetts lawyer who must decide how to allocate BP’s 20 billion dollar compensation fund. He has done this kind of work previously for victims of 9/11 and Virginia Tech.  Feinberg was mostly reassuring people that help was on the way and was listening to the concerns among the folks who packed city hall at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. What struck me was how far reaching this catastrophe is on the people who live in towns that dot the Gulf coast. Bayou La Batre bills itself as the “Seafood Capital of Alabama.”  The oil spill has rippled through the whole community disrupting the entire seafood chain.  Obviously the fishermen have lost the season, then there are the people who store and process the seafood like brothers Bruce and Delane Seaman who had to shut down their oyster shucking plant putting about 40 people out of work.  They don’t expect to ever reopen.  Their customers have gone elsewhere.  Then there are folks like Patrick and Lillie Kraver who own Kraver’s restaurant in Daphne, on the other side of Mobile Bay, that sells the seafood and have seen business tumble by about 40%.  When Tom asked them if they could survive they said “God would provide.”  These are people whose families have worked in the seafood industry for generations.  And then there are the more indirect losses. The man who has a candy and gift store on the beach and has seen his tourist traffic dry up, another man who has watched his real estate property values tank, even the local minister who has seen his offerings cut almost in half. He reminded Ken Feinberg that when everyone leaves the area it will be the churches and faith based organizations that care for fragile residents.  People came from as far away as Pensacola, Florida.  Everyone had a story of loss and hardship and a sense of skepticism deep as the Gulf about whether help was really coming or whether this was more PR.  Most have felt jerked around by British Petroleum and are hoping Ken Feinberg is really here to help make them at least partially whole.  He says he has received claims from 48 states so he has a huge task trying to decide who will be eligible to receive money and who doesn’t qualify.  Unlike a hurricane which comes and goes this catastrophe and its impacts could crush the community for years and everyone needs help to weather the storm and stay afloat.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec10/compensation_07-27.html

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Politics with my Cappuccino

My barista leaned over the counter today.  “What do you think of the MSNBC host who said she hoped it was a Tea Party member rather than a Muslim who set the car bomb in Times Square?”  His colleague at the cappucino maker edged closer to hear what I had to say.  “Well,” I replied, “I wish it was someone from the Tea Party.  It actually kind of makes me sick to my stomach every time I hear it’s a Muslim because I think the large majority of them aren’t radicalized and it just gets more difficult for law abiding Muslims.”  My barista rolled his eyes and got back to work.  My barista and I have been sparring politically for a while now.  It has become a regular occurrence. 

Standby for the great irony here.  My youngish, handsome barista who drives a sporty car (he says he married well) is wildly conservative.  Not what you’d expect.  Consider your barista.  Hip?  Trendy?  Teva Sandals?  Mine is a supporter of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party and is sick of all these bailouts.  Me?  I’m the middle aged suburban mom in an upscale Denver suburb, as liberal as they come, who believes government has a financial obligation to its people and coming to the rescue is necessary now and then.  His eyes light up when he sees me come in for my daily nonfat dry cappuccino fix.  “Vicky, what do you think of this?  Vicky, can’t wait to hear your opinion on this one.  Vicky, how are you going to feel when your taxes go up?  Vicky, come over here.  I need to ask you about something.”  Politics is part of my coffee ritual now. 

At first I was a bit surprised by his forwardness.  I couldn’t imagine our discreet back and forth was good for business or that his company or customers would approve.  After a particularly intense exchange, which lasted about five minutes and had his colleagues calling him back to work, I got downright uncomfortable.  We were discussing President Obama and Congress and health care reform.  He made sure I understood that my taxes were going up and soon my income would be shrinking.  I didn’t articulate my position succinctly.  Race came up.  I walked out of the store replaying the discussion in my head.  I talked to my friends about whether I should say something to him or stop visiting.  After thinking it through, I came to the conclusion that this exchange is good for both of us, but in measured doses.  Kind of like one cup of coffee a day.  After all, discussing politics at the local coffee shop is what we do in America.  Right?    

A while back I was listening to NPR and there was a discussion about Melinda Blau’s book “Consequential Strangers.”  These are the people on the periphery of our lives that matter.  They are not friends or colleagues, but rather the people who we intersect with over the course of our lives that have an impact nonetheless.  They are the lady at the bank who greets me when I come in, the woman I sit and talk to on the airplane, people I’ve never met on Facebook who intrigue me with their posts.  Our interactions make a difference in my life.  My barista is a “consequential stranger” and even though I think his politics are strange, I walk through the world more knowledgeable because we talk out our differences.  He knows what I drink, greets me by name, has my coffee ready before I get to the cashier and now he knows my politics and I know his.  I doubt we’re opening each others minds or mellowing each other out.  Most likely we’re just agreeing to disagree and entertaining the staff.  I’m hearing about the Tea Party with my cup of joe.  He’s hearing what I like about our President.  We’re not shouting each other down or holding up signs.  It’s rather civilized.  Like meeting over coffee.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Earth Day: From Farm to Table at Yosemite

During the Clinton Administration there was a move to green up the national parks.  One of the mandates was to source food locally.  Today one of the most successful examples of this is Yosemite National Park.  All the concessions are run by Delaware North and it has chosen not to go with commodities but rather to buy the produce, meats, eggs and dairy from local growers within a 150 mile radius of the park who use organic standards.  Yosemite’s restaurants and concessions use the goods exclusively. 

The relationship between Yosemite and small growers is reaping a harvest of good.  Yosemite is helping support small businesses so that they can be sustainable.  Yosemite also features them on their menus and educates the public about their contributions.  Visitors to the park are able to have a connection to food and “eat their view.”  The restaurants are able to offer menus with the freshest seasonal products at lower costs because they are not passing along shipping to the guests.  For example this past spring The Ahwahnee had a four course prix fixe menu with seasonal food for $45.  If they had used commodities the same menu would have cost $65 to $70.     

When Percy Whatley became the executive chef of The Ahwahnee he realized he could save money with commodities but chose not too.  He had lived off the land when he was young and helped push the park to go organic.  With him as a catalyst, the park has come to realize the importance of buying locally and serving food from farm to table.  Yosemite buys from larger growers like TD Willey in Madera but they also work with small growers and customize menus so they can purchase product that they have available.  For example Brenda Ostrum of Mountain Meadows Farm in Mariposa plants more varieties of heirloom tomatoes requested by Yosemite and Seth Nietschke of Open Space Meats in Hornitos says the chefs work with him to buy what he has available.  TD Willey agreed to plant fennel and fava beans at Yosemite’s request and Percy buys it all.  The relationship is very symbiotic for Tom and Denness who plant 75 acres and are finding more and more pressures that are driving medium sized growers out of business.

It has also been a huge boost to small growers who are finding the economy difficult at the moment.  Clients are buying less so to have an anchor client like Yosemite is good for their farm economy and also the economy of their communities.  Brenda Ostrum who started farming around the same time Percy took over The Ahwahnee says that what makes small farms viable is support of the local community and people like Percy.  She has only 5 acres for her eggs, chicken and tomatoes.  Seth has only 40 to 50 head of cattle and employs two people.  They are sustainable in part because of Yosemite’s mission.  Farmers are proud to be associated with Yosemite and believe this is a natural marriage.  Yosemite is on the cutting edge of this trend and visitors benefit because they are able to not only enjoy pristine wilderness but also the unique flavor of the region.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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What I Learned from Ex-Cons

They were sitting in the living room playing guitars and singing songs about justice and the lack of it.  They had taught themselves to play in prison and they were good.  Dave was in the slammer off and on for 15 years for dealing meth and assorted other felonies.  Ladd served 20 years for being an accessory to murder.  They met in prison and stayed friends on the outside.  They were both working and relishing their second chances.  This time they swear they won’t throw their lives away.

Over the past week I have had a chance to meet several ex-cons who have been blessed with a second chance.  Dave Dahl returned to the family bakery in Portland, Oregon and is the face and story behind Dave’s Killer Bread which has taken off in the Pacific Northwest.  Dave has become a celebrity and his bread is flying off the shelf.  Ladd works in the bakery store.  He is also a face to the public.  For whatever bad judgements they made back then they are contributing members of society now.

In Chicago a group of ex-cons are getting a second chance at a fast food restaurant called Felony Franks.  They are grateful that someone gave them jobs and don’t really understand why there is ruckus over the name.  Jim Andrews who owns the place says his hot dog stand is bringing more prosperity to the neighborhood and is cutting down on crime.  He thinks people who are threatening to shut him down just don’t want felons in the neighborhood.  The homeowners say they think the name is disrespectful, racist, and reminds people of what the West Side used to be like.  They would rather people see a gentrified, changing community.

This is not a circle of people I am usually in contact with but I was impressed by their honesty, their ambition, their desire to contribute.  We need to figure out ways to integrate former felons into society again.  Otherwise there are no options but to continue lives of crime which victimize people in society.  Of course not all are worthy and some crimes are too heinous to forgive but if the men I met are an example there are many more stories of redemption and rehabilitation waiting to be told.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.