Archive for the ‘How-To’ category

Review: Well Done Cooking Classes in Houston

February 1, 2010

For those of you in Houston that have aspirations for food beyond just constantly eating it, I have the most wonderful recommendation for you guys. Megan and I had the pleasure of trying our very first cooking class last Friday and I have to admit I left very impressed and surprised at what a good time it was.

What I Thought It Would Be Like

Prior to our “Dinner in Tuscany” class at Well Done Cooking  last week, I had no idea what to expect. I’m no stranger to restaurant life having spent time waiting tables and bartending for several years while slacking my way through college. I’ve even read Anthony Bourdain’s famed book, “Kitchen Confidential,” and admit that I have a perhaps disillusioned idea of believing I know what it’s like working in a busy kitchen. I even experiment in my own semi-regularly, looking up recipes and recreating my own versions to varying degrees of success. But I still had no idea what to expect going to an actual-hands on class for the first time!

My vague interpretation of what this experience would be like hovered between two ends of the spectrum.

On one-hand, I thought of Megan. After all, the main reason I ordered these classes was as a birthday present since she’d always wanted to try one of these. And hence, if she was happy, I would be too. For this, I imagined that would include some hands-on transfer of knowledge on cooking and then eating the fruits of our labor. The end.

On the other hand, I feared this experience would be like losing my Y-chromosome as I withered away in a corner, drinking my way to oblivion. Maybe watching a cross between something like this clip from “Julie & Julia” live and my college accounting classes. Very boring, no fun at all.

What It’s Actually Like

After stopping by our local liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine (they encourage that), we arrived at Well Done Cooking at the same time as a few other couples. The class only had 10 people total so it had a very intimate feel. It was actually very easy to socialize the entire time without losing any of what was being taught or said.

We picked the ‘Dinner in Tuscany’ class which meant we would be cooking the following:

Appetizer: Seasonal Minestrone Soup and Crusty Bread

Entrée: Roast Pork with Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Brown Butter, and Herbs

Dessert: Classic Espresso Drenched Tiramisu

Chef Celeste and Kathryn were knowledgeable and informative on the why’s and how’s of making everything on our menu. The class was very hands-on and every participant was a part of everything that was being prepared. My favorite part was rolling the Gnocchi. I truly did not know that making pasta was that easy. Nor did I know that Tiramisu was actually made with Lady Fingers. I think I could recreate that as well. And I’ve already got the Roast Pork marinated for this evening so I did in fact learn a lot that I took away from the class.

I even learned some interesting tidbits about my kitchen and Houston in general. For example, did you know that most microwaves, post -1993, take stainless steel containers with no problem? I didn’t either and have yet to try it but that was neat to find out. Also, we talked about the merits of buying fresh, local ingredients and where to get them. I never thought to buy spices in the shops around Little India (Hillcroft/59) but apparently, that’s an excellent area to get every spice short of saffron/vanilla bean  at a reasonable price. Phoenicia Deli on Westheimer apparently is too. And if you want to try some great tiramisu, try Lemon Tree, a small Peruvian restaurant in the Memorial area.

In short, the experience we had at the cooking class was very, very enjoyable.  We learned how to cook some neat dishes and had some good conversation with some interesting people. We even left a little tipsy from our bottle of wine and our bellies fully satisfied with some great food that we cooked for ourselves. Overall, a great date night for us but I’d highly recommend this to anyone who’s even remotely interested in learning more about cooking. Good times!

About Well Done Cooking

Located just off US59 & Weslayan in the Highland Village area of Houston, Well Done Cooking has served to provide Houston residents with culinary classes since June of last year. Well Done Cooking, offers classes on all types of cuisines, all of which are listed on their online schedule. They offer public and private classes and class sizes are kept small and intimate by design, which makes booking ahead a necessity since classes fill up pretty fast.

The purveyor of Well Done Cooking, Chef Celeste Terrell, a native of Louisiana, graduated from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Massachusetts in 2004. Upon graduation, she worked for “Sel de la Terre,” a French Provisional restaurant in Boston prior to travelling abroad and living/cooking in France for a year. It was then that she decided to go share her talents and teach others how to cook in Boston. Now, four years later, Chef Terrell continues to pursue the fruits of her passion with Well Done Cooking here in Houston, TX. Celeste is ServSafe certified, a member of Les Amis d’Escoffier Society of New England and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Chef Celeste and Well Done Cooking were recently selected to host a class for the TLC series, “The Little Couple” this past November. Here’s the clip from television that was on air recently.

How to Super Chill Drinks in Two Minutes

August 28, 2009


As a Friday gift to all you hard workersand loyal readers this week, I am sharing this video on how to chill your favorite beverage in two minutes. This neat  method should come in handy for parties, watching football games, picnics in  the park, and just about any social gathering where you need to get your cans cold in a pinch. It’s thermo-stat tested. I’ve tried it myself. Trust me, this knowledge will do you wonders.

How To Do-It-Yourself – My Grill Story

August 18, 2009

I tried putting together our new grill last night.

I guess the most important part of this adventure is the end result so I’ll get to that first – we finally have a brand-new working grill at our place! We’ve talked about this for months and thanks to the miracle of (almost) following directions, the new charbroil grill is now functional. That means healthy healthier dinners and no more cooking steaks in the frying pan. Not a moment too soon!

Okay, so now that I’ve got my disclaimer of success out of the way, therefore vindicating myself from too criticism…I hope… let me tell you about the more difficult parts of this process s when it’s your turn to put something together, you won’t make the same mistakes.

albundyFirst of all, allocating appropriate time for these projects is a must. In hindsight, I should have allocated more than the 15-20 minutes that somebody told me it would take. I started before the sun went down and felt like I was just about finished when the sun almost came up again. My point – For every minute you are told how long it takes, whether it be from a person or instruction manual, factor in at least three times as much.

Speaking of instructions, it is essential that you follow the instruction manual to the letter. I reviewed it like a divorce lawyer reviewing the papers for his own marriage and still had to repeat steps 1-4 several times. Turns out I didn’t pay attention to which way poles were supposed to be facing. And surprisingly, ‘left’ and ‘right’ can be pretty tricky to figure out sometimes. I really felt like Al Bundy fixing something up around the house there. By the time I was done, I had lacerated my finger and my self-esteem in the process. Random screws, nuts, and washers lay everywhere with no home for what seemed like hours while I meticulously went back through each step. You really learn the second time around. And the third time was a charm. But it would have been so much easier had I read and followed the directions the first-time.

My last tip for you may be the most important one. No matter what you are trying to assemble, make sure are in a comfortable environment with the right tools. I put together my grilly labor of love in a sweltering hot garage. As if the bane of Texas summers was hot enough? Imagine sitting under a 110-degree heat lamp cooking the top of your head as you crouch down in a makeshift chair screwing things with the wrong tools. My condition had the makings of a North Korean prison camp minus the bread and water. Let mine be a lesson learned. Above all else, set yourself up for success instead of worrying about it later.

Hopefully these little tips help you out the next time you’re putting something together. As for me, no amount of knowledge will give me my blood, sweat, and several tears back but at least i have a new grill and therefore retained my all-important manhood in the process.

Grilled _______ for dinner for the next month and half.

A Short Instruction Manual for Living your Life

April 21, 2009


Do you ever wish life came with an instruction manual? After all, our existence does offer up challenges regularly and oftentimes we have no clue. As an avid proponent of continuous self improvement, I’ve read a lot of “self help” type books over the years. Oh yes, everything from “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” to “Who Moved My Cheese?”  to every Guide to Life in between. What I’ve found is that there are about a million things we could do to live a little better. And it’s true. We should always be looking to do so.

Our dear friend Alaina Rivas recently posted this note on Facebook entitled: Life’s Handbook, offering up some tips in the areas of health, personality, society, and life in general. Never hurts to focus on the right things. See below.

Life’s Handbook

1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
4. Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
5. Make time to reflect.
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than you did in 2008.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minutes’ walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

11. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don’t overdo. Keep your limits.
14. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does..
15. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
18. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like
algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful orjoyful.
34. FOOD heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come.
38. Resolve to start every day in a GOOD mood.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Last but not the least:
40. Tell this to everyone you care about.

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from center. – Kurt Vonnegut”

DNC Worldwide’s Top Spring Tips for Life (and some news too!)

April 7, 2009


From the famous cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital to cleaning out the mess in your home, springtime marks new beginnings. In 2009, the significance of this season’s meaning couldn’t have a more beautiful effect. From new ninjas to new jobs to new additions to our own families, it sure seems like everything is blooming for the DNC. But before we get to that, here are some tips to make your life worth living this spring!

DNC Worldwide’s Top 10 Spring Tips for Life

  1. Buy some new clothes for the season!– Throw out everything in your closet you haven’t worn in the past six months and get some new warm weather wear in there! You might have some separate anxiety at first but the new wardrobe will help you get over it!
  2. Start a journal! – Fill it with your dreams and aspirations. Whether its significant or not, write it down! Remember, all great actions begin with your commitment to a single idea! This applies to all aspects of your life.
  3. Begin a new hobby or get back to an old one!– For DNC Westchase, this means volleyball games, more trips to the gym, and Sunday BBQ’s. Spring is an excellent time for golf as well. Wherever your interests lie, there is nothing like beginning something to new to refresh and make you feel alive!
  4.  Do some spring cleaning! – I don’t mean the manual labor kind. Decluttering has creedence also but what I mean is to discard old habits, things, and people that don’t contribute to your overall well being. Anything that doesn’t pull you up only weighs you down!
  5.  Volunteer for a cause!– Accomplishment is your gateway to fulfillment. Some of our ninjas like Eddie Corrin volunteer at hospices around Houston on weekends. You don’t have to do the same thing but there are plenty of activities you can participate in that will help your friends, family, and community out. These things not only help other people but help give you happiness as well.
  6.  Take at least one vacation! – You don’t have to take all two of your weeks at work either. Wherever you are, there must be plenty of places near you where you can take a weekend to go relax.
  7.  Take advantage of the nice weather!– Whether you like jogging, riding a bike, or flying kites, there are plenty of outdoor activities that could provide you a healthy dose of sunshine. And if you’re not the active type, grab a good book and head to a park near you. And if you don’t know how to read, grab your pet or someone else’s and take a trip to the dog park. Just don’t spend the days cooped up indoors. That’s a waste!
  8.  Buy some flowers! – Nothing will bring the sense of spring into your home like some fresh flowers. I know this seems insignificant, especially for you bachelors out there,but it really makes a huge difference! Heck it might even impress your dates more than that dusty X-Box you keep on your floor.
  9.  Enjoy yourself at outdoor festivals!– Here in Houston, we have several coming up. The International Festival and the Texas Crawfish and Music Festival are right around the corner. Check them out and have a good time!
  10.  Make your modeling or acting debut! – Take lots of pictures and/or shoot videos whenever you are having a great time with friends! Make these cherished memories last forever! 
 Bonus: Listen to some Richard Cheese! If you haven’t heard of him, you’ll love me for introducing you to him! Special Thanks for Boss Ninja for the tip!

DNC Worldwide News for April 2009


  •  New seasons and new beginnings also means new ninjas as well! Most recently, Drew Lockwood and JR Casimiro joined the fold as full-time flag bearers for the DNC. Gentlemen, you’re pledge-ship is over and you guys are now bonefide! Congrats men! You’ve earned it!
  •  Last month you heard the saga of Jino’s tense waiting on the status of his graduate school applications. No cause for concern was needed because he got invited to every school he applied to. And now he’s made his decision. Starting this fall, our very own Magneto Manalo will begin his graduate studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies! And not only that but Jino is currently preparing for his MMA fight debut for Lonestar Beatdown at Elite MMA. Jino certainly plans on kicking life’s ass from here on out!
  •  Christopher Reinig was back in Houston from Paris for a quick vacationwith his ninja brethren during the beginning of April.  In the past year, this man has been based in Abu Dhabi, UAE to Paris, France yet he has managed to stay connected through and through. Always good to see my brother from another mother come home.
  •  Spring fever is in the air! This means DNC Spring Break 2009! In a few weeks, we’ll be taking a weekend getaway trip to the Hideout on the Horseshoe on Lake Guadalupe for a weekend of sun, fun, rest, and relaxation  for our closest and most loyal friends.
 That’s it for now guys. Joie de vivre to everyone! – Ninja