Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eats: Cooking Barefoot

“If you’re going to wear pleats, wear them like you mean it!” This was the response of my dear friend and fellow gourmand, Meg Behl, when I told her about someone I had gone out with who, to my surprise, wore one-pleated pants – something I had not considered in almost 15 years. But her comment made me think about the level of intensity for which we commit to things, e.g., work, school, fitness, family, friends, and food!

These days when I cook for just myself at home, I stick to a bland diet: eggs, veggies, bananas, cinnamon raisin bagels, wheat pasta, and milk-free frozen boxed lunches. Do not be fooled – this is a new diet. In the past, my dailies included such deliciousness as pizzas of all kinds and Philly cheese steak sandwiches. And when I say daily, I mean daily.

However, when I have time to entertain and cook for friends, I like to cook like I mean it! I owe much thanks to my step-mother Madelyn Harris, Peter Nguyen, and Irvin Lin, who inspired this blog post about food due to the launch of his own blog, Eat the Love, and who I will get to see Tuesday. Yay! During the most recent years, these people have cultivated my culinary knowledge and sluggish knife skills; provided direction in menu planning with interesting yet contrasting temperatures and flavors; and helped me accept the fact that the food I serve may not look like the food in the photographs of some cookbooks.

But when I am not being supervised, I owe much thanks to the brilliant recipes of Barefoot Contessa. They are easy to follow, even for an amateur like me. And my food, more often than not, has actually looked the pictures in her cookbooks! Below are my favorite starters, soup and vegetable recipes I have tried: (1) Raspberry Royale, (2) Roasted-Tomato Basil Soup, (3) Chicken Chili, (4) Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread, and (5) Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples. The recipes come directly from the cookbooks.

Raspberry Royale (Makes 4 to 6 drinks)
Heaven! And if you do not believe in heaven then believe in this raspberry royale! I served this at a brunch last summer and it was a major hit. Major!

· 6 teaspoons raspberry liqueur
· ½ pint fresh raspberries
· 1 bottle of good Champagne, chilled

Pour 1 teaspoon of raspberry liqueur into each champagne glass and add 2 or 3 raspberries. When guests arrive, pop the cork and fill each glass with Champagne. Serve immediately.

Roasted-Tomato Basil Soup (Serves 6 to 8)
I served this last August for friends at a “last minute summer supper.” It was delicious and spicy. The recipe was perfect.

· 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
· ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
· 1 tablespoon kosher salt
· 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
· 2 cups chopped yellow onions
· 6 garlic cloves, minced
· 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
· ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
· 28 ounces canned plum tomatoes with their juice
· 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
· 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
· 1 quart chicken stock or water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss together the tomatoes, ¼ cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in one layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

Chicken Chili (Serves 12)
I served this in January for a dinner party for some colleauges. It was unpretentious, delicious and allowed the company to be the main entrée.

· 8 cups chopped yellow onions (6 small onions)
· ¼ cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
· ¼ cup minced garlic (8 cloves)
· 4 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
· 4 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
· 2 teaspoons chili powder
· 2 teaspoons ground cumin
· ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
· ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
· 4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
· 4 28-ounce cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
· ½ cup minced fresh basil leaves
· 8 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
· Freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

· Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread (Makes 12 large pieces)
Flavorful, impactful, all kinds of goodness! I served this with the Chicken Chili above. Please note that I modified the original recipe. My version is below.

· 2 cups all-purpose flour
· 2 cups yellow cornmeal
· ½ cup sugar
· 2 tablespoons baking powder
· 2 teaspoons kosher salt
· 2 cups buttermilk
· 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
· 1/2 pound (2 sticks) salted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
· 8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
· 1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish (3 scallions)
· 4 oz diced jalapeño peppers
· Small can of Mexican corn

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapeños, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples (Serves 8)
I think this was the first Barefoot Contessa recipe I ever cooked without supervision … Valentine’s Day 2008. This is also a family favorite.

· 4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large)
· ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
· ½ cup heavy cream
· 4 tablespoons (½ stick), melted
· ¼ cup light brown sugar
· 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
· ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 2 teaspoons kosher salt
· 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

· 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
· 3 McIntosh or Macoun apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
· 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Scrub the potatoes, prick them several times with a knife or fork, and bake them for 1 hour, or until very soft when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and scoop out the insides as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Place the sweet potato meat into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and add the orange juice, cream, butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Mix together until combined but not smooth, and pour into a baking dish.

Bake the potatoes and apples for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through.

Looks like I still have my work cut out for me to try some Barefoot Contessa salad, dinner, and dessert recipes!


Monday, March 22, 2010

At the Moment: All About My Name

I just returned from a long weekend in New York City, where I had the pleasure of reuniting with friends from undergrad and those from St. Louis, who had moved there. I also met several delightful people who I hope to see again. I met my new and darling twin nieces and fed and unsuccessfully burped one of them.

I ate at Michelin starred restaurants Perry Street and Rouge Tomate, both which were delicious. I saw “West Side Story” on Broadway, my first time in Times Square. And I saw an outstanding dance performance by KEIGWIN + Company.

I may have overcompensated in activities for my eleven and a half year absence since this was my first real visit to the city since I moved away on August 20, 1999. A lot of memories came back to me including the history of my name. The following is that history. I figured it was time to get everyone on the same page.

Srisak Veggabul, 1975 – 1976
On September 11, 1975, I was born in an orphanage in Thailand. I remember at one point my (adoptive) mother told me that it was rumored that my biological father was a cop and my biological mother was a grad student from up-country Thailand. I was given the name Srisak Veggabul (to my understanding it was pronounced “See-sok Wech-a-boon”). I believe all of us orphans were given the last name of Veggabul either because that was the last name of the lady who ran the orphanage, the doctor who delivered us, or maybe it was for both reasons – sadly, I do not recall what my mother told me because I do not always do a good job at listening. :-)

Anyhow, I lived in the orphanage for six months before my paternal grandmother, Gram (a.k.a., Dorothy Wilson), visited my maternal aunt, Suchada Holmes, and grandmother, Yai (rhymes with “lie” and means grandmother in Thai). During Gram’s visit my parents had asked that Gram go to the orphanage to inquire about the adoption process. So, Gram went to the orphanage and unbeknownst to them all, was able to choose me right then and there. Gram said she chose me because I was the “longest baby in the orphanage” and she wanted to make sure I would fit in well back in the United States.

Brian Wilson, 1976 – 1998
In 1976, I was legally adopted by Peter and Pun Wilson in the United States and given the name Brian Wilson. I grew up my entire life with references to the Beach Boy Brian Wilson: “You don’t look like Brian Wilson” or “How’s Carnie?” But none of this made me think to change my name.

It was then in the fall of 1998 that my dear friend Peter Nguyen asked me what my initials were because he needed them for the monogrammed business card holder that he gave me as a graduation gift.

“B.W.,” I told him.
“What’s your middle initial?” he asked.
“I don’t a have one,” I replied.
“I guess they can monogram it with just B.W.”
“No, they can’t!” I quickly responded. “Give me a week! I’ll find a middle name!”

B. Hadley Wilson, 1998 – 2006
So for one week I researched names. The first thing I did was see how each letter looked straight forward, i.e., BHW, and then in an actual monogram format, i.e., BWH. But before selecting H, I had narrowed it down to G and D. So from there, I researched the meanings of names or found names that I thought sounded good with Brian and Wilson. By midweek I came up with Greer and Dean. I actually thought Greer was kind of cool for a middle name and I told another friend about Greer and she said, “No, you can’t use Greer. That was the name of that strange model I hooked up with.” Ha! So, I scratched that one and chose Dean.

However, before I committed to Dean, I sent an email to the Brian Wilson fan club and asked if Brian Wilson’s middle name was Dean and that I was hoping it was not because I wanted to differentiate our names. The president of the fan club replied and said, “It’s not Dean but close, it’s Douglas.” Well, here was an opportunity for me to end the Beach Boy jokes but with Dean our initials would have stayed the same, so I called Peter Nguyen and told him I needed another week to find a middle name.

So, the search continued until I found Hadley. It was also during this time that my schoolmates and I were researching prospective employers and providing feedback on each others’ resumes. I had changed my resume from Brian Wilson to Brian H. Wilson and my friends kept asking what the H stood for, so I told them and they all said they liked Hadley. So in 1998, I changed all my information to B. Hadley Wilson and started using Hadley as my primary name.

S. B. Hadley Wilson, 2006 – Present
After my mother passed away in 2005, I felt that I owed it to her to become more engaged with my Thai heritage. I thought about taking Thai lessons but that was just too much of a commitment for me. So, in the summer of 2005, I decided that I would integrate Srisak back into my name. I played around with the four names. Such combinations included B. S. Hadley Wilson – you can imagine my own reaction to that one – and B. Hadley S. Wilson, which looked weird to me. By the end of summer, I finally decided that Srisak should come first since it was my given name.

So, a year later, I finally got around to submitting the name change request forms to the St. Louis courts where they reviewed it, filed it, and told me to come back to appear in front of a judge. They provided two dates for me to choose from to appear in court and the first date was September 11, 2006, which was my birthday, so I knew it was a sign.

And that is how S. B. Hadley Wilson was born!



Sunday, March 14, 2010

Leisure: Head-to-Toe Products

Imagine that you are a company. You have a board of directors who reviews your performance but then you have an advisory board who you have selected for when you want to seek advice to stay relevant. If my company were SBHW, Inc. and I had an advisory board that I could turn to for all things related to body, skin, hair, tools of the trade, fragrances, and grooming products other than my norm, I would most definitely seek the advice of Melissa Reel and Irvin Lin.

Melissa is the Chatecaille Product Specialist at Neiman Marcus – St. Louis but she can help you with anything throughout the entire store. Irvin’s knowledge base about historic and current trends, fads, and crazes ranging from pop culture to high culture is incomparable and beyond my level of comprehension. Anyhow, when shopping for your beauty needs or grooming products, here is a tip from Irvin:

“I highly suggest people go to their dept store cosmetic counter … find someone knowledgeable and describe their own skin. What works for me, doesn’t necessarily work for you, and every environment is different (what I would use in SF is totally different than what I would use in Minneapolis or in Hawaii).

Describe your skin type and describe what you are looking for to the person and then ask for samples. If you show a genuine interest in the product, and you are at a reputable cosmetic counter, chances are they will give you something to try out. Be sure to ask for their business card too, so if you like the product you can go back and purchase from the person that helps you.”

Body Care
Melissa says:

ReVive Sans Veines Body Repair Cream: “Deeply penetrating body moisturizer that helps skin maintain firm and supple appearance and also helps with spider veins.”
ReVive Neck Renewal Cream: “Smoothes out the décolletage area and the nasty creases we get on our neck.”

Irvin says:

“I use a glycerin based soap – usually Purely Natural,” which is inexpensive and good for sensitive skin types.

My dailies:

Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar
Jergens Ultra Healing
Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish: This is a new product that Melissa just introduced to me the other week and I look forward to using it once a week. I'm such a believer in this product that even without having tried the Sugar Face Polish I am ready to order some.

Skin Care
Melissa says:

Chantecaille Nano-Gold Eye Cream: “Can’t live without it! Brightens, firms and smoothes fine lines almost immediately!”
Chantecaille Vital Essence: “Can’t live with out this either. Very, very hydrating and allows your moisturizer to penetrate more effectively into your skin.”

Irvin says:

“I also use Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 15. I’m a fan of their Lip Balm SPF15 and I washed my face everyday with their Foaming Non-Detergent Washable Cleanser. It’s tough enough to clean out my pores but gentle enough that I can use it everyday, especially since I’ve got combination skin. I also use their Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub” for exfoliating.

My dailies:

La Mer The Cleansing Gel
La Mer The Tonic
La Mer The Eye Concentrate: Best ever!
Aquaphor Healing Ointment: For lips. Best ever!
La Mer The Moisturizing Lotion: Spring/summer.
La Mer Crème de la Mer: Fall/winter.
Chantecaille Detox Clay Mask with Rosemary and Honey: Once a week.

Hair Care
Melissa says:

Frédéric Fekkai: “I love the Brilliant Glossing Shampoo and Conditioner. I also use the Salon Technician Color Care Rapid Results Moisture Mask a couple of times a month. My hair feels and looks fabulous!”

Irvin says:

“I actually love using a variety of shampoos, and usually rotate between four to six of them. Which seems extreme, but I use a lot of product in my hair and if you use the same shampoo, your hair can get too use to it. Or so I tell myself. I’m usually way too lazy to use a different conditioner so I try to use a moisturizing shampoo. There is a local shop called Nancy Boy who’s signature shampoo is what I use most often. They also have the best shaving cream, something I am very loyal to.

Other shampoos I’ve used include Bumble and bumble Seaweed Shampoo which is great and I feel strengthens my hair a lot and Aveda Rosemary and Mint Shampoo.

For hairstyling, [my partner] AJ uses a Kiehl’s Leave-In Hair Conditioner when he has short hair, and something stronger when it gets a little longer. Here I just use a cheap product called Surf Hair by Fructis. It’s my little secret …” Not anymore! :-)

My daily:

Bumble and bumble Sumotech

Tools of the Trade
Melissa says:

neuLash: “Helps extend and thicken eye lashes within days! (I have used this and love it!)”
Clarisonic: “Electronic cleansing brush for face and body. Gently cleans pores so effectively that your skincare absorbs better into your skin. Removes 6x more makeup and reduces appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles. (I have not used this yet, but want to buy one. The people that have been using it swear by it!)”
Baby Quasar: “Stimulates the production of collagen diminishing appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores. Firms and tones skin. (This is supposed to do what light therapy treatments do at the dermatologist, but A LOT less expensive.)”
Baby Quasar Blue Anti-Acne Light Therapy: “Anti-acne skincare device. Kills acne causing bacteria. It is a light therapy treatment.”

Melissa says:

Chloe: “My favorite right now is Chloe.”

Irvin says:

“… my absolutely favorite fragrance is Odeur 53 by Comme de Garçons. It smells like no other fragrance out there, angular, contemporary and very avant garde (just like their clothes). It’s completely unique and though it’s been on the market for 10 years, I have yet to find another smell that comes close to what they were able to achieve with it. It’s not for everyone, and it’s definitely not a traditional smell, but I love it.”

Irvin adds a tip:

“Just as an FYI, fragrances do break down … If you own a large bottle and don’t go through the scent very fast, I suggest storing the fragrance in the refrigerator. It will help preserve the scent.” Who knew?!

Men’s Grooming
Melissa’s fellow colleague Ryan Britton can sum up his choices in one word: Kiehl’s. Below are his favorites:

Kiehl’s Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion: “Use once a week, good for very oily skin.”
Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado
Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Moisturizer with SPF 18
Kiehl’s Razor Bump Relief
Kiehl’s Grapefruit Body Scrub
ReVive Sensitif Oil Free Lotion SPF 15

Irvin says:

“I used Art of Shaving Unscented After-Shave Balm as it is a good balming feel without stickiness or weird smells. It’s expensive, but a little bit goes a long way.”

My daily:

Gilette Shave Gel for Sensitive Skin

On that note, play around, see what works for you. Just remember, it is our responsibility to maintain what our parents (or plastic surgeons) gave us.


* All of Melissa’s and Ryan’s recommended products are available at Neiman Marcus.
* All of Irvin’s recommended products are available at Aveda, Nancy Boy, Neiman Marcus, Target, and Walgreens.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

At the Moment: 10 Guilty Pleasures

The term “guilty pleasure” seems like a contradiction to me because if something is devilishly joyful then why should we feel guilt? What is the definition of a guilty pleasure anyway? Is it something that we enjoy so much that we become braggarts? Is it something that we covet so much that we turn it into an addiction? Or is it something that we engage in but fear others may find it lowbrow or taboo? I do not know about you but my guilty pleasures encompass all of the above! Here are 10 of mine (in alphabetical order):

1. “All I Want For Christmas Is You”: If I were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one CD, it would be Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” album for the sole purpose of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” I love, love, love this song and do in fact play it year round. You can ask any of my friends who have been in my house or car during the winter or summer months – January, June, you name it, it will be played. This song is so cheerful, so loving – how could you not want someone to sing (or even say) this to you? I am actually smiling as I am listing to it now. :-) Click here for the goodness.

2. American Express Platinum Card: The rules of the Total Money Makeover instruct me not to use my credit card, and I follow that rule 99.7% of the time, I really truly do, but when I go to a fancy dinner I use my American Express card because I do not like to carry that much cash with me. But if I may, the American Express Platinum Card is pretty. Plain and simple. It is fun to use for show. :-) But in all seriousness, it keeps you responsible because you have to pay it off in full, and even more impressively, it has the Platinum Card Concierge service that handles restaurant reservations, assistance in travel planning, and gifts; and the representatives even provide their last names. That is how committed it is to customer service! Oh, and its Departures magazine is filled with gorgeous pictures and worthwhile lifestyle and travel information. Plus you gain access to several airport lounges around the world.

3. Dairy Queen Butterscotch dip cone: I had a butterscotch dip cone in 2009 and the last time before that was 1989. It was as heavenly as I remembered: the sweetness of butter, the honey-like color, the rich and smooth texture of the hard shell. It also reminded me of my childhood and middle school because if we had perfect attendance for a number of consecutive days (I forget how many) we were rewarded with the privilege of having an off-campus lunch and Dairy Queen was right around the corner from school. I often think about it since there is a Dairy Queen only a few blocks away from my house and there are Dairy Queens all over Minneapolis but I have will power, darn it. Thank goodness!

4. Doritos Nacho Cheese: If Jerry McGuire had Dorothy Boyd at “hello,” you could have me at “Doritos Nacho Cheese.” Is it me or is it impossible to eat only one Dorito? I love Doritos Nacho Cheese so much that I actually cannot have them in my house because I will eat the entire bag in one sitting. In fact, that has actually happened. The first time I went to the house of life-long friend Tali Light, I sat on that purple sectional in the living room watching TV and before I knew it, I ate her entire bag of full-sized Doritos Nacho Cheese. Oops.

5. Louis Vuitton: I have learned over the years that consumers are the true owners of a brand’s identity, but to be fair, a company has some control over its brand. Some choose to dilute their brands with sales to gain short-term market share or revenue, and others never discount their brands to maintain “brand integrity” (thank you very much, Louis Vuitton St. Louis Store Manager Debbie Stueckel). I have yet to ever experience a sale at Louis Vuitton; in fact, its prices have only gone up in the recent years. I LoVe Louis Vuitton as much as I love the four aforementioned guilty pleasures and as much as I love the subsequent five. Even if you buy something outside of its Monogram collection, it will still have a dominant presence on your accessory wall. The Kiowa tote that I use for traveling is amazing.

6. MICHELIN (Michelin) starred restaurants: This is my most recent guilty pleasure and it is challenging for me to talk about because I really am ignorant to the methodologies in reviewing restaurants and I am not a foodie by any means. But, I love first-time experiences and the Michelin starred restaurants on the San Francisco and New York City lists are meant to be enjoyed with those you love. My first experience was in 2009 at the French Laundry. Being there had fulfilled my America dining experience but it reminded me of when I finally saw Whitney Houston live in 1999 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. My expectations were so high that I was nervous and skeptical. But the result was euphoric. I will be in New York City in two weeks and have the opportunity to experience Rouge Tomate, and in a few months I will be in San Francisco again and hopefully get the chance to dine at Coi (pronounced “kwah”). I am determined to eat my way through their lists.

7. Target Merona 3-pack socks: Last year in an effort to be more efficient and take out the guess work in matching my black dress socks, I threw away all of my dress socks and started over with socks that were striped, in an argyle pattern, or a colorful solid. But I did end up with one solid black pair of socks by default because they came in a 3-pack with some other styles. The Merona socks by Target are ridiculously inexpensive but stylish enough to pair with your Valentino suit.

8. “Sister Act 2”: As side from Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount’s melodic rendition of His Eye is on the Sparrow and even Ms. Hill’s “Joyful Joyful,” I did not realize I had a strong affection for this movie. However, I blame my NYU roommate, Saurabh Monga, on this guilty pleasure because it was his video that we watched over and over again. Also, when I lived in St. Louis there were numerous weekend afternoons that I would lie on the sofa and watch “Sister Act 2” in its entirety. Who knew?!

9. Slatkin & Co. Bamboo & Jasmine candle: It saddens me that I am allergic to most fragrances but I could burn this candle in my house forever. It has a luxuriously fresh, welcoming scent that is above the rest and its simple packaging is so velvety. I have given this candle as gifts to many and in turn they have gifted it, as well.

10. Whitney Houston: I fell in love with her back in 1985 when I was 10 years old and still love her. To this day, it is not uncommon for me to listen to all her albums on shuffle, on repeat, on my iPod throughout the weekend. We all can read about her history but none of that affects me nor do I find any of it that interesting actually. By no means does it adulterate my adoration for her. My top 10 songs of hers are:

“All the Man That I Need”
“A Song for You”
“The Greatest Love of All”
“I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”
“I Have Nothing”
“I Will Always Love You”
“One Moment in Time”
“Try It On My Own”
“Until You Come Back”
“You Light Up My Life”

And of course, her rendition of The Star Spangled Banner is brill.