Archive for January, 2008

Baked Eggs –

31 January 08

This is one of those baked egg dishes that is the devil to get right until you learn your oven and the timing. Then you will not be able to blow it once you learn the looks of the thing done right.

Warning: an uneven broiler (like mine) can cook one dish rock-hard and the dish next to it can be just about raw. That can drive you nuts.To bake eggs use individual gratin dishes or Pyrex bowls of about 3 to 4 egg capacity.

Put the oven rack on the top or whatever will get you about 6″ from the broiler. Yeah, I know we call them baked but it is really broiled. So, preheat the broiler while we get all this together.

Crack the 3 eggs each into separate dishes. You don’t have time to futz around cracking eggs when you get going. Be careful not to break the yolks or get shell into the mix.

Mix up:

1 or 2 decent cloves of fresh minced garlic
1/4 tsp fresh minced thyme. (Use a pinch of dried if you don’t have fresh.)
1/4 tsp fresh minced rosemary. (Use a pinch of dried if you don’t have fresh.)
1 Tbs fresh minced parsley. (Use 2 tsp dried if you don’t have fresh.)
1 Tbs grated parmigiano reggiano. (You can also use a Gruyere for a nice variety. Don’t skimp on the quality of the cheese.)

Put 1/2 tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of heavy cream in each dish and place them on a baking sheet under the broiler until it gets bubbly and hot – 3 or 4 minutes. Pour in the 3 eggs to each dish, salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle on the herb-cheese mixture and get them back into the oven.

Broil for about 5 minutes or until the whites are just beginning to set. Take them out a bit before you think they are ready as they will continue to bake in the dish. Serve them up with the nice toast of your choice.

You can vary this with any topping that you like – or nothing but salt and pepper. A good shredded ham goes well. Or crumbled bacon. Different cheeses vary it nicely.

Enjoy.

Herself Sez: As someone who prefers, nay REQUIRES, her eggs to have s*o*l*i*d whites, this was a big disappointment. As Himself Sed, our oven heats unevenly. His eggs were fine for him (somewhat loose). Mine turned out basically RAW!!! Yetch!! Likewise Retch!! In the future, mine will have to be left in an additional 10 minutes or so OR will have to be put in about 10 minutes before Himself’s go in. I can deal with solid yolks. I can deal with solid whites. I cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, deal with raw (or even shakey) whites (except in egg nog, when they are well whipped, or in a milk nog – again well mixed in). This little experiment was a total failure for me – he’ll have to try again. Luckily, however, his failures are very few and very far between! 🙂

Straining at Gnats and Swallowing Camels –

29 January 08

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/16956300/the_prophet_of_climate_change_james_lovelockJames Lovelock is eminently more qualified to speak on climate change than any 100 popular entertainers or politicians. He is the fellow who invented the instruments used to measure atmospheric ozone. He is not a self-righteous environasty, he is a qualified scientist. Now, it must be stated that he does not have a 100% track record, and admits it. He does not try to make his points by shouting down opposing views.

Lovelock insists that the climate change is going to be much worse than the meanie-greenies admit, and thinks that these people are pathetic and just distracting us from addressing the real problem. While I do not know that I agree with his conclusions I am firmly with him on despising the current politically correct flakes.

The idea that banning standard light bulbs is going to save the planet is simply daft. Expecting America to carry the clean up by ourselves is naïve. I have said many times that this America hating enviro-nut movement is not doing any good, and is probably hurting us worse than the Moslems.

I say again, clean up – certainly. Intelligent use of resources – absolutely. But let us not panic and run around in circles. Let us get real – not politically correct – research to figure out what is really happening. We cannot predict next week’s weather with any accuracy. Next decade or next century is even more iffy. Until we get real data we cannot determine the correct path for survival.

Now it is likely that one of three possibilities will occur. First possibility – nothing that is going to have any long term consequences will happen. Second possibility – there will be a small fluctuation in overall temperature with fairly minimal consequence. And let us remember that between 1970 and 1980 all the climate predictions were for an ice age. Third possibility – catastrophic change that will have devastating consequences that will kill billions – James Lovelock’s scenario.

While Lovelock talks about the Chinese having nowhere but Siberia to go I will give you one a bit more frightening. We may note that the majority of the world’s Moslem population lives in a climate that is already on the upper limit of hot and dry (desert) that humans can tolerate. If their climate gets any hotter or any drier they will be looking to the relatively better Northern European and North American lands. While it is possible that they would try moving in peacefully their history and mindset show that they are much more likely to occupy by conquest – murder, rape, slavery – all the traditional fun activities of their sick belief system. Even if peaceful immigration takes place we have only to look at the current disaster that is European Moslem behavior. Or Denmark. Move in and then suck the society dry.

Of course the peace and love kum-by-yah crowd will say that I am a terrible person and all that. But that does not change the fact that the leopard has spots and 1500 years of track record to examine. I am not at all against Middle Eastern people. I know and admire many Middle Easter Christians – it’s the Moslems that I despise – from their own behavior.

Anyway – back to the main point. If we are in a position to affect this climate change – whatever it is – by bandaid methods that wreck our economy and send jobs overseas – then it is not that big a deal to start with. If we are headed toward a real disaster that will kill billions – then these bandaid proponents are distracting us from the real business of preparation for racial survival.

Like it or not – the libs are distracting us from anything serious and we need to slap them down. Whether or not we would be investigating the climate without these nuts and their howling is debatable. We might be getting good science if there were not all the pressure on climatologists to be politically correct. We might be ignoring the whole mess like the old head in the sand routine. Who know? We have to deal with what is. And that means good science that will shape our policies, not self-hating hysteria.

Are We Crazy Like a Fox . . .

26 January 08

. . . or are we just plain dumb?Here lately the news media has everyone in a snit about the economy. Another example of newsies making the news themselves by getting loose bowels over nothing from all I can see. A recession when we have full employment? Yeah, the stock market does some ups and downs and they report every little correction as though it were the end of the world. Let us remember that the current “down” for the market is still higher than ever before in the history of the thing. Also remember that without a “story” the newsies have nothing to do. If there is nothing to panic about they will make a mountain out of a handful of dirt so that they can report on the new mountain.

Yeah, the banks are hurting a bit because they loaned money to people who were unqualified and/or were buying way more house than they could afford. Let them suffer a bit. There is nothing in the Constitution that says that banks are guaranteed a profit when they make dumb moves.

So, now the government is going to “give” us a tax rebate. First off, how is it giving when all they are doing is rebating the money that we have paid in? I will grant that there is somewhat of a “gift” aspect since they want to use some of my money to give to those who don’t pay taxes, but for most of us it is only a bit of that which was taken from us to start with.

Next, it seems that we are going to be borrowing some money from China. Of course, the Washington crowd says that these are not related. Yeah, and water runs uphill. I don’t really see this as any different than the spendthrifts that charge their plastic to get some ready cash when they are already in hock up to their eyebrows. When you borrow on your plastic the repayment is many times the initial amount. Borrowing your way out of debt does not work.

There are several ways to look at this. Either the President and the Congress have lost their minds and are just spending us into more debt, or there is some clever plan behind all this.

Dumb possibilities – we are just getting more debt and China is just another benign creditor and it will only cost us many times the amount borrowed to repay it. Next dumb possibility – China has always wanted us out of the Pacific, they regard that as their own. They want all Pacific territory up to the California coast and will use this as a weapon to weaken us and call the loan when we are most vulnerable. This also means that they would be totally thrilled to see us destroyed by Islam, which would give them free rein in the Pacific.

Smart possibility – the Chinese have changed their spots and just want us as a valued and healthy trading partner and know that we will spend most of the rebate on stuff that is made in China. This will put them into a position of vested interest in seeing that we remain free, strong, and solvent to be a really strong consumer of their goods. This would also mean that they would have a strong reason to help protect us and the rest of the consuming West from destruction by Islam.

Have the Chinese changed their goals? I don’t really know, but their track record does not lead me to think so.

If the President and the Congress really want to give us a “tax gift” the best thing that they could possibly give us would be the Fair Tax – with no revisions or amendments. Oh yeah, cutting pork-barrel spending would be really nice. If these idiots cut out their fat we could be debt-free in record time.

Fat chance. Odds of the Chinese changing their spots are somewhat better.

Steaks and Roquefort Sauce –

24 January 08

Here is another delightfully different steak recipe to perk you back up when things are just getting ho-hum. Fast and easy and different and delicious.This is for 4 steaks, so adjust to whatever you have. Reduce about 1-1/2 cups beef or veal stock down to ½ cup and set aside. Mix up 2 oz. room temp Roquefort or Blue Cheese and 4 tbs unsalted room temp butter in a small mixing bowl. For this kind of exercise a good kitchen fork usually works better than a blender for putting together this kind of stiff stuff.

Generously salt and pepper the steaks, cook to medium rare. Pan-fried in butter and/or olive oil over medium heat is best, but you can broil them if you like. When things are pan-fried then there is a layer of brown goodies that incorporate into the suace when the pan is deglazed. This is not true when things are broiled. Plate, cover and let rest while you make the sauce. Pour off the fat from the skillet, leaving about a tablespoon. If you broiled them, pour about a tablespoon into the pan. Add ½ cup of reduced beef stock and whisk vigorously to deglaze the pan. Bring the stock to a simmer and add the butter-cheese mixture in chunks. Stir each chunk in until it has emulsified and blended in smoothly, then add the next chunk. Now the trick is that you may have to diddle the heat and/or move the skillet off and on the heat because you want the mix to blend smoothly and not just become oil. When the sauce is nice and thick spoon it over the steaks and serve. If you want to do a traditional variation you can add chopped nuts just before serving. I don’t like it that way myself.

Herself Sez: I prefer it with the chopped nuts. Lots of chopped nuts. This is a GREAT way to serve steak! Almost, but not quite as good as his Steak au Poivre – wherein I licked the plate when he wasn’t looking the first time he served it! 🙂 Yeah! I reeeely did!!

Eggs Benedict –

22 January 08

Eggs Benedict is one of those classic dishes that just about everyone has heard of and most have not had – or have had some inferior version at a second-rate restaurant. The real deal is not all that hard to make. All we have is four basic goodies: poached eggs, Canadian bacon, English muffin, Hollandaise sauce. Nothing at all difficult here. The only touchy thing is getting the timing right so that it all comes together nice and warm.

From the 1920’s to the 1940’s just about everyone named Benedict claimed to have had something to do with the creation. There doesn’t seem to be any definite trail to follow. The only thing that I can say is that any claim after 1898 is probably off, since the oldest reference seems to be in Adolph Meyer’s Eggs, and how to use them, published in 1898. This reference may or may not be accurate, but the basic idea seems to have been around for a while.

Canadian bacon. Only in the US is it called Canadian bacon. Everywhere else it is back bacon. Anyway, get some. Slice thin and heat is all it takes. If it is the pre-sliced, pre-cooked stuff we get in my area then all it needs is heating up.

Poached eggs. There are two ways to poach eggs. The traditional directly in water or the use of a poaching pan. If you have a poaching pan you already know how to use it, so we won’t go into that. The traditional method is pretty easy. Get a large skillet, put about 2″ of water and a teaspoon of vinegar in it. Get the water boiling while you crack each egg into a separate glass or small dish. The reason for this is that you keep all the shells out of the way, and you cannot crack eggs directly into the water as neatly or fast enough so that all the eggs come done at the same time. Once the water is boiling, drop in each egg gently with a quick wrist motion. You don’t want the eggs to contact the bottom of the skillet or they may stick a bit. Reduce the water to a good simmer and cook for 4 minutes for done whites and liquid yolks. 5 minutes if you like hard yolks. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. You don’t want any of the water in your Eggs Benedict.

ASIDE: Herself found some interesting little silicone egg poachers that you float in the water. Work nicely, and the eggs slip out of them very easily.

English muffins. Split, butter, toast. Nothing special here.

Hollandaise sauce. This is one of the easiest things to make.

3 egg yolks.
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted gently.
1 tablespoon hot water.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.

Get the yolks, hot water, lemon juice into a blender. Put on the top with the center removed. Start up the blender and gently pour the melted butter in as the goodies blend. When all the butter has been added keep blending for a minute or two – we want a nice smooth sauce. You can make the sauce while the eggs poach.

Assembly: muffin half, bacon, egg, sauce. Sprinkle with paprika and some chopped parsley. That’s it. The only trick to the whole thing is to get the timing right so that nothing sits around getting cold waiting for something else. When it goes right everything comes done together and assembly is quick and easy.

Substitutions and variations abound:

Florentine: Leave out the bacon and substitute spinach, and you have a sort of ersatz Eggs Florentine. The older version used sauce Mornay, not hollandaise.

Seafood: Shellfish for the bacon.

Veggie: Avocado and/or tomato for the bacon.

Pacifica: Smoked salmon for the bacon.

Redneck: Biscuit, sausage, fried egg, sawmill gravy.

Herself’s Meatloaf

19 January 08

I don’t think I’ve ever made meatloaf the same way twice. As long as the Ol’ Curmudgeon likes it, I won’t worry about it. What is meatloaf? Well it’s a basic food staple.

From time immemorial, people have mixed meat with veggies, breads, thickeners and various spices, baked it in a loaf or patty, and served – sometimes with a sauce or gravy, sometimes without. They did this to stretch the meat in lean times, to use up bits of meat that otherwise might have been thrown out, and to make tough meats more digestible. In early times, the meat used was already cooked – usually leftovers – whereas now-a-days we tend to use a raw ground meat – either beef or pork, but lamb, chicken, turkey and veal can be used, also. Any meat, actually. Horse, anyone? Donkey? Goat? Yup. Any or all of the above!

What I do these days is get or make about 2 pounds of  meatloaf mix – 1/3 ground beef, 1/3 ground pork, 1/3 ground veal. Add in 1-2 sweet Italian sausages removed from the casing. Do not mix, yet!! Now the variations begin! About 1/3 – 1 cup of bread crumbs. I’ve used – pulverized bread out of the loaf, crushed croutons, crumbled cornbread, prepared breadcrumbs from the grocery. I’ve used more, I ‘ve used less. In this case, less isn’t very good, and too much more is not very good, either. Just toss them in on top of the meat. Toss in 1-4 Tbsp of some kind of meat sauce – Heinz, Worcestershire, A-1, Lea and Perrins steak sauce, etc. I tend to use a thick, savory sauce, like Lea and Perrins Steak Sauce. Chop up some onions. About a quarter cup to half a cup is good. “Sweat” them before adding. I don’t add bell peppers, but some people do. If you add them, don’t add much, chop them up very finely, and “sweat” them before adding. Salt, pepper to taste. I use seasoned salt and lemon pepper. Only now do you mix – very lightly – just enough to get a semi-even distribution of all ingredients.

Precook, about half-way done, enough bacon to cover the top of the loaf. While the bacon is cooking, gently pack the meat into a loaf pan. Liberally cover the top with ketchup. I use Hunt’s – nice deep flavor, not too spicy, less likely to be “watery” than other brands. Once the bacon is about half-way done, lay the strips over the top.

Bake in a 350degF oven for about an hour, or until the meat is done in the center (145deg on meat thermometer).

The first night we have it, we just slice it and serve warm. We don’t like gravy on it, but others do. A flour gravy, a sausage gravy, brown gravy – whatever you like will work if you want gravy.

The next day, we slice thinly and make sandwiches with lots of mayo and sweet relish on them. I like some spicy dark mustard on mine; the Ol’ Curmudgeon does not. O well! To each his – or her – own!

Other things that can be done with meatloaf include  rolling up into little dough-covered packets – pasta dough makes raviolis or Chinese gow gees (a type of Dum Sum), yeast dough makes pierogs or pasties, flatbread (pita) makes gyros, tortillas makes burritos, corndough covered with corn shucks makes tamales. Good for lunch pails. The meatloaf should be cooked before adding to these to avoid having food poisoning problems. Every culture seems to have some kind of meat roll.

Roll in packets of wonton skins and cook in chicken-miso stock, then deep fry – you have egg-rolls. (Leave out the meat, only use veggies, cook in miso stock, then deep fry – then you have spring rolls.)

Another delightful thing to do with a meatloaf mix is to roll it in softened cabbage leaves and cook all lined up and stacked in a deep pot (crock pot will do) with some vroth of some kind around it. Cabbage rolls are an Eastern European fave. Think Poland, the Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, etc. Good with a generous dollop of sour cream on top!

Roll into little balls, cook in a skillet – voila! Meatballs! Add to some cream sauce or tomato sauce and serve over pasta – Spaghetti and Meatballs! Or, add to a savory brown sauce and – Hungarian meatballs.

It’s all the same stuff. And it’s all good, plain, basic, country cooking. Country French, country English, country Russian, country Chinese country – add your own geographic area.

To get it to where you like it requires experimentation. That’s something we have problems with in our “Mickie-D” society. We want to do it fast without playing around. Some people are actually fearful of experimenting in the kitchen. To them I say, put your fears aside and get your hands dirty!!

Democratic-Republicans –

17 January 08

One of the most interesting things that I have observed over the span of my life as a white Southerner is the affiliation of the black community with the Democrats. A brief review of history may be instructive here. The Democrats were a party evolved from the Anti-federalists in the late 1700’s. The party won much support in the early 1800’s and evolved into the party which supported slavery. The Republicans started in the 1850’s with one of the main points being anti-slavery and support of human dignity. The Democrats lost power to the Republicans led by Abraham Lincoln. The majority of the Confederacy was Democrat, and after the Civil War, the Democrats were staunchly anti-black and lead the rush to enact the Jim Crow laws that legalized discrimination. Roosevelt and all his cronies did nothing to eliminate legalized discrimination. The party that pressed for the armed forces to be integrated was the Republican. It was the Republicans that started de-segregating the schools in the 1950’s.The Democrats, led by the Dixiecrats, were entrenched in denying blacks the vote and access to businesses. I can remember this in the 1960’s, when segregation was still the goal of the Dixiecrats. Kennedy and the Democrats did little to support black efforts to secure the common rights of the American citizen. It was a Republican congress that, true to its origins, enacted the legislation that buried all the Jim Crow legislation. It was the Republicans who lead the way to the voter rights legislation. It was Democrat legislation that eventually spawned the welfare mentality that has crippled the black community for the last 40 years. The Democrats wanted power from keeping people dependant on government for the necessities of life. It was the Republicans that led the way to people enabled to help themselves.

HERSELF SEZ: The first election I voted in, I voted Republican – because I believed then and believe now “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The party that came closest to securing these rights at the time was – and is now – the Republican Party. I don’t always agree with the planks and platforms of the various campaigns, but I don’t believe in “give-away programs” nor in “bread and circuses.” Therein lies madness.

So, why is it that so many blacks identify themselves as Democrats and liberals? These people see you as second class, unable to do things for yourselves. Only as government pawns. Take your destiny into your own hands. You are only a voting pet if you let these people convince you that you must have life given to you. I say regain your place as free, independent, successful human beings and members of the American society.

Unfortunately, nowadays the Republicans are just as power-hungry and corrupt as the Democrats. Such is human nature.

The peace loving religion of Islam and the evil crusaders –

15 January 08

We in America (and the west in general) have an interesting revisionist way of looking at history. Lately we want to tear down anything to do with Western civilization and elevate anyone else to good guy status. You know the modern western (liberal) attitude: Don’t bother me with facts, my mind’s already made up. After all, all of those nasty 19th century European historians HAD to be wrong because they were such racists and jingoists and all the other bad ists that they were blinded by. People – take off your own blinders and look at history as facts and nothing else.

Let us take the western view of Islam and the crusades. It is popular (and has been for some time) to portray the Europeans who took the Crusades to the East as uneducated barbarians who invaded a peaceful, educated, highly civilized Islamic Empire for no reason except greed and a desire to extend European Hegemony.

Let us look at a few historical facts:

Mohammed was a kook. In the good old American New England Theosophical Society mold: If you don’t like current churches, start your own. If we look at historical records that the Moslems would like buried, we find that Mohammed desperately wanted to be some type of religious guru. He first tried to be accepted by the Orthodox Christian Bishops in Mecca. They rather gently told him that he would have to become a monk and work his way up through the ranks. They were not about to make him a bishop and let him play prophet. Mohammed next tried to get in with the Jews and be accepted as a prophet. They firmly rejected him and told him to get lost. Next he rolled his own. Notice that he felt totally rejected by both Jews and Christians (and he was). Where he found his initial followers is anyone’s guess. But note that both Jim Jones and Charles Manson seem to have had no problem in getting the weak of mind and despondent of spirit to follow them.

The First Crusade was in 1095 as a response to a request for help from Alexis I of the Byzantine Empire to Pope Urban II. The Moslems had been butchering the Byzantine Empire since the beginning, 624 or thereabouts. Christianity had spread across the whole of the Roman Empire and beyond by proselytizing, the spread of Islam was by the sword of conquest, murder and rapine.

The Arabs were not an educated people. There was no great flowering of high civilization in the Arabian peninsula. It takes natural resources to support civilization, and the Arabian peninsula is a little under endowed. Where then, did the high civilization that the Crusaders saw come from? Actually, it was there before the Moslem conquest. The Moslems took it over from the Byzantine Christians. When the Arabs conquered they generally left the Jews and Christians alone other than taking their wealth and placing them in second class conquered status. They usually kept the Byzantine bureaucrats in place. They generally kept Byzantine professionals on the job. Up through the Ottoman conquest, just about all administration was done by conquered Christians. This was the civilization that the Westerners saw. The Arabs did NOT invent algebra, the Byzantines did. In fact, Moslems have contributed nothing to the modern world except pain, suffering, destruction and murder of the innocent.

Now, I’m not saying the Crusaders were perfect, far from it. It is true that the Crusaders killed as many or more Byzantine Christians than Moslems. They looked a lot alike. Middle Eastern people with robes, etc. It is true that the later Crusaders, not the Moslems, dealt the death blow to the Byzantine Empire. The Crusaders destroyed more of Constantinople than the Moslems did.

Now then, if we look at a history timeline, we will see that the Moslem invasion of Europe officially began with the invasion of Spain around 719. Most historians place the crest of the Moslem wave at the battle of Tours in 732. Charles Martel defeated the invaders handily and is credited with having saved Western Europe. This was certainly the rise of the Carolingians if nothing else.

The Battle of Tours was not the end of things. Moslem invasions took place off and on until the Battles of Lepanto (1571) and the last, Vienna in 1683.

It should be noted that the first (Tours) and last (Vienna) were great and desperate struggles fought on European soil. In between, most of the fighting took place in the East, leaving Europe free to have its own internal wars and to come into the Renaissance and beyond. This development could not have taken place if the Moslem Empires from the Umayyad through the Ottoman had not been forced into stalemate in the East.

I know that many people want to talk about the Crusades as misplaced moral wars. Study Clauswitz and the philosophy and causality of war before you go there. Study the science of root causes of war. The stated legal justification for the war is never the real cause of the war. Many people also want to place blame on Western Europe, but really, the first battles were in Spain and France, not the Middle East. So who invaded? It is hard to place the blame for the invasion of Europe on the Europeans. (The same people that think that Americans are reponsible for 9/11 could pull it off). For that matter, we think of the middle East as Moslem, not remembering the great Byzantine Empire that the Moslems tore apart. Moslems are the invaders and aggressors in every historical conflict.

I don’t like George Bush. Not for the same reasons that the liberals hate him. No, for me, he is not nearly conservative or resolute enough. The immigration forgiveness bill made me sick. But – he does have a grasp of the fact that we (the West) are still being invaded by fanatical Moslems intent on conquest and the destruction of our civilization. We either fight them there, or surely we will fight them here. If someone wishes to war with us, then people will die, children will suffer. I suppose it is a bit of a provincial attitude that I have: If the suffering and dying take place because of the actions of some other people, I prefer that it is their people who suffer, not ours. The main thing to remember is that the Moslem terrorists are not fighting for freedom or food or a better future for their children. They hate us. They want to kill us. They want to destroy our civilization. They want to obliterate our culture. And IF they let our children live, they want them to be slaves under Sharia law totally subservient to their Moslem masters.

Gays in the Military –

13 January 08

There are several things to look at here. First of all there are the rights, duties, and obligations of any citizen. Male, female, black, white, or whatever. The fact is that a citizen is a citizen. So, on that level there should be no problem with any mentally sound and physically qualified citizen voluntarily serving.There is another level to this. The practical fact is that there is a great spectrum of people in the military. Many of these people will have no particular problem with people who have some differences. But there are those who do.

When I was brought home from the hospital shortly after birth the first music I ever heard was Mozart’s wonderful opera The Magic Flute. I learned to love classical music, opera, and Baroque – “Ah, Bach” – Radar O’Reilly.

When I was maybe 8 or 9 I discovered my mother’s 30’s and 40’s big band records – old 78 rpm stuff. By the time I was 10 I had discovered jazz at the local library. Jazz from the earliest New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago. Boogie. Big band. Modern jazz. Loved it all. The library also had the wonderful Folkways series. I learned to love all kinds of real folk music: Andean Indian flute music, Russian Balalaika, African drum chorus, Japanese Taiko drums, wonderful stuff all. (This does all tie in).

In the 8th grade we baby-boomers had an overflow class at one of the local grammar schools since we had overloaded the local high school. Therefore the 9th grade was the first time I was actually on the public high school property and had been exposed to older teen types. One day toward the beginning of the school year I was in the band room and one of the older types was going on about the Beatles coming to this country for the first time. You can figure the year from that. Anyway, somehow I got asked about the Beatles and did not know who or what they were. After being told that they were rockie-rollies I must have said something about not liking rock. The next thing I knew I was being beat on by a couple of larger and older types for not liking rock. I quickly learned that blending in with protective camo was a good idea. Minor, compared to having to hide something as large as gay, but instructive nevertheless. Now, this was a persecution for being different, and no matter how right I was or was not; no matter how wrong they were or were not, the bruises were real and I really didn’t lose anything (except more bruises) by keeping my mouth shut when pop music was being discussed. My opinions did not change, just what I exposed. This was only one of the minor things I learned not to blab around groups of redneck boys. These were not really bad boys, I was just different.

Now, what in the hell does this have to do with gays in the military? (Or anywhere else). Well, it is a normal human thing to distrust the stranger. Those who are different may be persecuted. This is a normal pack behavior and we are pack animals. It is all well and good to say that anyone who discriminates against gays will be prosecuted, but if you have been beaten or even murdered that is rather cold comfort to know that you will be avenged. Better to not broadcast your differences and survive. This doesn’t mean that you have to live your life in fear and stay in a closet. It does mean that the correct position is to not rub your difference into others faces. The correct answer to “are you gay” is “that is none of anyone else’s business”.

Go play as you will on leave, but it is not necessary to discuss in bull sessions. The same applies to any workplace environment. If you rub other’s faces in your differences it may be you that gets the bloody nose.

There are two military conditions: not in combat and in combat. If not in combat the main thing you have to worry about is getting beat or shunned. Either is not a goodness. In combat, if your buds think they cannot depend on you, well, you could get shot by the enemy or your own buds. If they think that you are not dependable they may not cover your butt when needed.

This is not to say that gay and military cannot go together. Nuts. They can. People mocked Clinton’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy, but it really is one of the better things that he did. You must understand that I am not a Clinton fan by any means. In combat, you must absolutely depend on your buds and they must be able to depend on you. Any weakness in the unit can be fatal.

It is possible that over time it may even come to the point that sexual orientation is irrelevant compared to the many good things they like about you. But that will take time. No matter how much legislation is passed, you will have to prove yourself as a person and as a soldier before anything else is accepted. Legal props mean nothing in combat. Laws are irrelevant to a corpse. Not fair, I agree, but that is the reality of combat.

I was a Marine. Perhaps the best advice I can give you is: “Just shut up and soldier”.

BTW – rednecks are not the only dangerous group. Try being a conservative around a crowd of libs. Just as bad. Oh, they might not get physical, but the persecution will be just a vicious. They don’t go for the throat, they go for the groin.

Southern Iced Tea –

10 January 08

Everyone in the South grew up drinking iced tea. Sweet iced tea. There was no other kind. Everyone had it in their homes and the restaurants had it. It was strong and sweet and cold and refreshing. You can’t get it anymore unless you make it yourself. There was nothing instant or artificial about it. Even the “Country Southern” restaurants are using instant stuff now. If you have sun tea, custom tea, hippie tea, herbal tea, English tea, or any other they may be good, but they are not Southern Iced Tea. Southern Iced Tea is the real deal. The only point of disagreement among the various tea making artists was tea brand. There were 3 main ones that I remember. Lipton, Tetley, and Luzianne. We were a Luzianne family. It is still the best as far as I am concerned. Lipton and Tetley are good, but will get bitter if over brewed, to my taste. On the other hand, there were just as many, if not more, that preferred one of the others. Try them all, choose your own.

We also used either metal or glass to brew tea. Never use plastic. I can remember when Tupperware swept through the South, maybe the mid-50s or so. There were many things that it was good for. Brewing tea is not one of them. Tastes funky. My family used an old pot with no handle to brew the stuff. Aluminum, I think.

This is the simplest stuff in the world, just remember 3-2-1. Three family size tea bags. 2 cups of water. One cup of sugar. Yeah, that’s a lot of sugar. Your food nazi will not like it. No, you can’t substitute anything else and get the taste. Yes, you have to add it while the brew is hot. You can’t add it later and get the same taste. Not possible. This stuff was consumed by people who worked hard. They did not need to worry about calories or diabetes. They were plumb skinny from hard work. Anyway, boil the water, steep the bags. Remove the bags when they have yielded a strong rich brew but before it gets bitter. Good Southern iced tea is never bitter. Looks like a rich reddish umber to me. Stir in the sugar, making sure it dissolves completely, while the brew is still hot. Let the brew cool to room temperature, you don’t want to melt the ice and get a weak drink.

There were some practitioners that added just a pinch of baking soda. I never could tell that it made that much difference. If you want to try it – go right ahead.


%d bloggers like this: