Refusing to Hate

Nov 26

In: Family life, Personal, Philosophy

I hope everyone is having a restful Thanksgiving.

I’m in charge of the turkey and gravy, and Mrs. T and the children are cooking everything else. Low-maintenance guests are coming over. So, it is a remarkably stress-free holiday for me, thus far. I even have time to read and blog a bit.

In addition, to family, football, and food, Thanksgiving means many different things to many people. I’d like to throw out “refusing to hate” as one theme.

To that end, from a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, up top (or, click here) is a very moving video. It is about a man whose wife was killed in Paris during the terrorist attack. He makes a choice about “refusing to hate.” He is a bigger man than me.

May we all be grateful for safety and an everyday normal and boring life. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

My Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy Recipes

Nov 25

In: Food

If you’re cooking for Thanksgiving, you know the drill: it’s Go Time.

My children encourage me to write down my favorite recipes, and so, here is my take on Thanksgiving turkey.

For me, brining is essential, to give a pretty bland bird some tenderness and flavor. The sugar also helps caramelize the turkey, and gives that good-lookin’ and golden-brown color. I’ve tweaked a recipe from Alton Brown.

Also, I’ve found that there’s never enough gravy, and it’s good to make that ahead of time, to relieve the time crush that happens as you hit the two-minute warning mark.

This gravy recipe may seem complicated, but it’s pretty easy. It uses homemade stock from roasted chicken wings and vegetables. The roasting gives a really good color and adds tremendous flavor. Chicken wings impart significant umami to the broth.

2 lbs. of chicken wings
4 onions, quartered with skins on for added color
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
4 celery ribs, in chunks
A few garlic cloves
2 cups of white wine
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lay out chicken wings and vegetables in a large and deep roasting pan and roast for about 1 hour. Stir once halfway. You want to see dark brown. Use the broil setting at the end of you need to.

Don’t fear the burn. You are the host of this roast. You’re in charge of this heat barrage.

To a large stockpot, add the chicken wings and vegetables.

Put the empty roasting pan on a burner set to medium. Add the wine, and with a wooden spatula, scrape up all the brown bits. Add all that to the stock pot. This is a very important step, FYI.

Add all remaining ingredients and 6 quarts of water to the stock pot. Set to boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours. Add salt to taste.

Drain the stock through a sieve or cheesecloth. Chuck the solids and keep the broth.

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of chopped shallots
1/2 cup of flour
6 quarts of homemade stock, warmed
2 tablespoons of soy sauce, for color and umami
Drippings from turkey
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add flour, and stir constantly to make a roux. Cook until flour is golden brown. Lower heat as needed to make sure the roux doesn’t burn.

Gradually whisk in stock until mixture thickens and is smooth. If thick enough, don’t add all of the stock. If too thick, add water. Stir in the soy sauce.

Cover and chill. You can make this a few days before Thanksgiving.

To serve, reheat over low heat. Scrape bottom of turkey pan for the drippings and brown bits and add to the gravy.

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 quarts apple cider
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 gallon of iced water

Combine all ingredients except for iced water in a stock pot and heat until solids are dissolved. Place in refrigerator to cool.

When ready to brine, place the turkey in a large 5-gallon beverage dispenser (a big orange one from Rubbermaid is what I use). Add brine and iced water. Cover tightly and place outside in a shaded cool spot, such as a garage. Brine overnight. Turn the turkey a few times throughout the brining process.

A turkey, about 1 lb. per person (or, 1.75 lbs. per person if you like a lot of leftovers)
1 red apple sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 sage leaves
Canola oil

Heat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse. Chuck the brine. Place the turkey on an oiled roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water and heat in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. Place this mixture and the fresh herbs inside the turkey’s cavity. Truss the bird, if you want (I like this method). Coat skin with canola oil. Insert thermometer probe into thick part of the breast.

Grab a glass of wine. You’ve earned it.

Roast turkey in oven for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 degrees. Cook until its internal temperature is 165 degrees. If the breast is starting to look pretty brown, cover it with aluminum foil to keep it from drying out (I like this approach).

When done, remove bird from the oven, loosely cover with foil. Somehow, get those turkey drippings and add to the gravy (see above).

Wait at least 20 minutes before carving.


The Small Things

Nov 25

In: Brain hacking, Personal, Philosophy

It is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. You almost can feel the nation start to change gears. That’s what I’m about to do.

I shortly am going to the office to meet with an entrepreneur and to wrap up some loose ends. I’m behind on filing my expenses, for example. Everyday life stuff. It will be only a half-day.

But, as I sit here at my favorite coffee shop, I cannot but help think about the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali, about the friends and friends of friends going through chemotherapy. There is a lot of stress out there.

Somehow, in spite of tremendous odds and great suffering, people grit it out and continue. We are a remarkable and adaptable species in that way.

I try not to let the news stories get me down. But, honestly, it is hard to do.

So, I am here after a long work-out, choosing to enjoy a chocolate croissant and a well-made cortado. To realize again how blogging has been a gift for me and that I can do it on my phone. You know, relish the small things.  I’m trying to “just be.”

Tomorrow, I want to focus on gratitude, to think about the small everyday things about which I take for granted. I want to remember the many, many people who have influenced my life.

My sincerest wishes for a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Father-Daughter Dance…in Prison

Nov 20

In: Brain hacking, Personal, Philosophy

I’m a big believer that unconditional love from a parent to a child makes all the difference. I’m a big believer that the lack of that can create pretty serious issues downstream.

As I recently told a friend, everyone needs to feel safe and protected, to feel accomplished and approved, that he/she “already is enough.” In other words, everyone craves the feel-good brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine.

If they don’t get them from family relationships, they’ll seek them in other ways. Some of those ways are healthy. Others are not. The root chemical involved in most addictions? Dopamine.

I cannot think of a more compelling cause than to protect, and provide for, children.

I’m writing this because I recently saw the above TED Talk (or, click here) about a father-daughter dance in prison. With their fathers in prison, these young girls have very little contact with an important parent. To have a brief moment of physical contact with their father was something to be very cherished.

Even the prison guards were moved.

New Investment: Mavrck

Nov 13

In: Entrepreneurship, Technology and VC


I am really excited to write about a new and recent investment, which is in Mavrck. We recently led their $5MM Series A financing, and it was announced about 30 min. ago. More here.

We have been meeting with CEO and Co-Founder Lyle Stevens for quite some to time. I first connected with him in 2013, back when he was involved with Betaspring and the company was called Splashscore. Then, Bob Lentz connected us again in 2014 via the Northeastern incubator program. And, after, we heard more when the team was involved with TechStars.

Throughout, Lyle has impressed us with his integrity, drive, and leadership. We conducted many reference checks on the company, and we heard consistent feedback that this entrepreneur and this team were special.

It was no surprise before the financing closed that the company was named by Entrepreneur magazine as having a Top 25 culture. Great energy and values there.

Moreover, brands really liked the granular and scalable way with which they can target micro-influencers. In fact, they loved the software’s ability to help them create a real ROI to find more customers or to activate and organize their most valuable ones in a very powerful way.

So, we are very excited to partner with this group and with Tim Wright of GrandBanks. We are looking forward to working with Lyle, Sean, Chris, Shoeb, Liz, Brian, Howard, and the rest of the team.

Sometimes, an investment takes a while to happen. We’re glad this one has happened.