Archive for July, 2008

Overnight San Francisco Sourdough –

31 July 08

This is definitely a lazy way of making a decent loaf of sourdough. There is little fooling around, just put it together and let it alone. My kind of recipe. This works best with a somewhat clangy San Francisco sourdough starter.

60 g sourdough starter (1/4 cup) just take it straight from your starter jar, well stirred
1000 g (1 kilo) bread flour (6-1/2 cups)
570 g water (2-1/2 cups)
14 g salt (2 tsp)

For a little different kick you can vary the flour with some whole wheat, just reduce the bread flour to 850 g (5-1/2 cups) and add in 150 g whole wheat (1 cup).

Mix on low speed 3 minutes. Mix on second speed 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mixer sounds labored. If you are a masochist, knead by hand for about 20 minutes. I let the mixer with a dough hook do the work. Let rest for about 30 minutes, then form into baguettes or rounds. Place on a floured couche, seam side up and cover with another floured linen, or lubed plastic.

Let rise 12 to 16 hours, or until doubled.

Ease it onto a pan or peel seam side down and slash as appropriate to the shape.

Bake at 375°F in a well-steamed oven for around 45 minutes, or until deep golden brown and around 207°F to 210°F at sea level, adjust for your altitude.

You can also do this in standard bread pans. After the long rise pat and fold, let rest for about 15 minutes, then shape into the pans. Let rise again until about doubled, probably 6 to 8 hours in most home kitchens.

Resist temptation: don’t cut it until it has cooled.

A comment: you will notice that no additional yeast has been added, that is why the rise is so long and slow. That is also why there is a good bit of complex flavor in this bread.

If you don’t have a San Francisco starter you can look on the Internet, there are several places that can supply you with one. You can also get all kinds of weird and wonderful starters to play with.

A word about starter storage, keep it somewhat warmer than many people keep their refrigerators. Starter works best if no colder than 38°F and Herself keeps our refrigerator about 33°F. Solution: get one of the 1.5 to 2.0 cu. ft. mini-refrigerators and set it about 40°F with a good thermometer. Works very nicely and keeps harmony in the kitchen. This is important.

By way of a historical note. This is pretty much the timetable that people had to use in the days before commercial yeast was available. You can see that, while fun for the home baker, this would be somewhat oppressive to a cook who had to get grub out every day to a bunch of hungry people.

I can say what I want –

29 July 08

. . . when I want. That’s a quote I heard one woman saying on TV. We Americans tend to think that this is so. Particularly 60’s generation and forward. That’s not really the way it works.

You cannot shout out fire in a public place, thereby endangering people. You cannot crash into a church and holler obscenity, or anything else that interrupts a service.

What it really comes to is that you can think anything you like, no matter how silly, stupid, contrary, ordinary, brilliant, or whatever. You may express that opinion in writing anywhere you can get it published and no one can stop you.

You can express your opinion anywhere you are not disrupting other’s lives. However, what so many people seem to miss is that if you are bloviating away others are also free to disagree with you and to also express same.

‘Taint stated in the Constitution or in law, but implied in the early thinking of the Founding Fathers is the notion that ordinary rules of human courtesy and civilized behavior would be the norm. If you watch most so-called debates on the boob-tube you see people interrupting each other, talking on top of each other, and refusing to let the opposing view have a say. Debate is not shouting down those who disagree with us. Proper debate means listening carefully and courteously to what the opposition has to say. Then speaking logically and rationally, answering the opposition’s points and raising points of your own view.

What you see mostly today is not debate, it is childish argument. People frequently do not discuss, they have an emotional investment in “being right” and “winning the argument”. If logic cannot persuade the opposition then they resort to rude behavior to try to win by browbeating. It might just be interesting to actually and politiely listen to each other. Too many times the shouting down is used so that opposing views cannot even be heard. This is usually a tactic often used by liberals, but it is not exclusive to them. Funny, I often hear libs go on about how they want “dialog” and are then the ones who will shout down anyone who disagrees with them.

Just as, within the proper place and time, you can express any view that you like, I can pay no attention to you or completely tune you out, or respond, or walk away. These are my free choices.

Also remember that the Founding Fathers tried their very best to form a government that would insure the maximum freedom with the maximum protection of us from ourselves. They almost succeeded, but not quite. Look at the current shenanigans of the anti-gun nuts. The Supreme (narrowly) actually ruled to support the Constitution and several city councils are still doing what they damn well please even though their laws are illegal. (New York, Chicago, DC and others). Remember Vox populi vox dei can best be translated as “My God! How did we get into this mess!” I think I stole that from Heinlein. If not, it is still muy true.

Coquilles St. Jacques –

26 July 08

Is a traditional French scallop dish that comes in two basic flavors: A La Parisienne and A La Provencale. (Plain talk = city and country). I generally prefer the richer Parisiene variety over the more robust Provencale. The Provencale is heavier with garlic and herbs. I will probably write it up one of these days.

Back in the middle 1960’s there was a restaurant on Piedmont near La Vista called The King’s Table (I think) that served a pretty decent Coquille. If memory serves that was probably the first place that I ever had this particular goodie, and I have been fond of it ever since. At that time there were many good Southern restaurants in Atlanta, also barbeque and steak houses. Oriental meant sort of Chinese, forget Japanese, Thai, Indian or anything else like that. Continental and French were just beginning to appear, and The King’s Table was one of the first that had decent seafood prepared French style. I loved it. They also had European style service. Very impressive for a date. Didn’t take hippisses there – coffee houses with folkie music were good for them.

Herself Sez: It was King Arthur’s Table. And they also had the best steaks I had ever had in my life to that point. I mourned when they closed!!

The basic Parisienne is scallops only and should be served in genuine scallop shells. However, you probably can’t get the real deal without taking the first-born to the bank and hocking him. And his wife might be a bit stuffy about that, so use frozen scallops and/or shrimp. Works pretty well. If you use frozen and/or shrimp you won’t have the shells, so use gratin dishes if you have them, or a reasonable sized casserole dish.

HERSELF SEZ: Obviously Himself doesn’t do the shopping. Scallop shells (cleaned, dried, sterilized, packaged) can be had at the local fresh market for slightly less than the monthly mortgage payment!

Base:

3/4 cup dry white vermouth or white wine (use good stuff)
1/2 tsp sea salt
5 to 10 grinds pepper
1 whole bay leaf or 1/2 leaf crumbled
2 Tbs minced shallots or green onions

Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add:

1 lb scallops and/or shrimp
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
enough water to cover

Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then remove the solids to a dish, crank up the heat and reduce the liquid (boiling heavily) to around a cup. Remove the bay leaf if you left it intact. Not necessary if you really minced it.

Sauce Parisienne:

3 Tbs butter
4 Tbs all purpose flour

Melt the butter, reduce heat, blend in the flour stirring constantly until they foam gently for about 2 minutes. Do not let it brown. Remove from heat and blend in:

The reduced cooking scallop/mushroom liquid (should be about 1 cup)
3/4 cup milk

Back to the heat and boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

In a separate bowl:

2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a separate bowl blend the egg yolks and the cream. SLOWLY add the hot sauce mix in small amounts, stirring constantly. If you go too fast and/or do not stir enough the eggs will cook solid. This is not good.

Return the sauce to the pan and boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

salt to taste – go easy
pepper to taste – go easy
lemon juice to taste – go easy

If it is too thin reduce slowly, stirring constantly. If it is too thick add a little heavy cream, stirring constantly. Yeah – there’s a whole bunch of stirring in this thing – not for the faint-hearted. Adjust seasoning to taste, but be gentle with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice. You want to sneak up on the right taste, It is difficult to remove seasonings if you go too far. This is one of the places that sea salt is definitely superior. If the sauce has too many solids you may want to strain it. You want it nice and smooth.

Assembly:

butter
grated cheese of choice – a nice Gruyere or Emmenthaler goes well here.

Cut up the scallops cross-grained about 1/8″ thick. If using shrimp just cut into bite-sized pieces. Mix the scallop/shrimp/mushroom stuff with 1/2 to 2/3 of the sauce. Butter the shells/gratin dishes/casserole dish(es) and spoon the stuff in. Cover with the rest of the sauce. Dot with butter and sprinkle cheese liberally. Put the dishes on a broiling pan.

You’ve done most of the hard work now. This can be refrigerated for up to a day at this point. Do the rest just before serving. (About 15 minutes).

Get the broiler hot and a rack about 8″ down. Slide them in and heat to nicely brown. Serve immediately.

This is traditionally a side dish, but we like it for a main course. With some good French bread – of course. Good stuff.

HERSELF SEZ: Well, when he sent this to me, the Ol’ Curmudgeon sed, “This is about important stuff – y’know – food. Like I said, as I get older my brain moves from my crotch to my belly. Howsomever it is also true that I have always enjoyed good food.”

That is a dangerous statement. Always subject to dispute – from both of us! {snarky grin}

About this recipe, I told him next time to cut back a little on the mushrooms and add more of the “good stuff” (the shrimp and scallops). He SNEERED at me!! I like mushrooms, I love mushrooms, I just don’t like them overwhelming the scallops and shrimpies in my Coquilles St. Jacques! The last time we had it, the mushrooms ever-so-slightly-overwhelmed the scallops and shrimpies to my taste. Of course, my taste is not his taste, nor yours, so vary the proportions of the ingredients as you desire – a little more of one, a little less of the other TO YOUR TASTE!

Who Elected YOU God –

22 July 08

The philosophy of the Founding Fathers –

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

As stated and embodied in the Declaration of Independence. You should read the whole thing and meditate on the meaning. Ultimately the FFs very nearly slipped over a perfect system of creative anarchy. Read also the Constitution and the Federalist Papers and all sorts of other goodies from the Revolutionary and Pre-revolutionary period.

What the FFs had in mind was that the role of government was to be minimal and forbidden to do most things. The general idea is that each individual is pretty much free to do as he pleases. The only real role of government is to keep what I do from hurting your freedom to do as you please. And vice-versa. The other things that the government could do were co-ordinate national and international trade, coordinate nation defense, regulate and adjudicate differences between the states.

The basic idea was that total individual freedom should not be abridged, even to the point of allowing individuals to fail and die as may need be. As long as the failure was one’s own and not because another person infringed on your right to do as you wished. Another way of looking at it is that they felt that one should enjoy the benefits and also suffer the consequences of one’s own decisions.

Let us look at just a few things and see where we get. Under the philosophy of the Declaration, Constitution, etc. I ask by what tortured logic do you have the right to shove a gun in my face and tell me what I must or must not do? Oh, you don’t use a gun? Yes you do. When you pass laws restricting what I can do you use the force (guns) of law enforcement – and ultimately the military – to force me to obey laws that I may not agree with. Let us consider the restrictions on smoking, drinking, and drug use. Now I will agree that we have to restrict drinking and driving, or drugs and driving, or any related activity in that we know that impaired driving is dangerous to others. Even if you are drunk and crash and only kill yourself you still leave it to the rest of us to pay for cleaning up the damage. However, except for restricting you from causing damage to others no one else has the right to stop you from doing as you please with your own life. “It’s for your own good!” is the usual cry of those who would restrict our behavior. Who the hell elected them God? If you want to go to hell in your own way there is no reason that anyone else should be able to stop you by force. Now the rest can say that if you choose to drink yourself to death we will not pay your expenses, but we have no legal or moral right to stop you. By logical extension that also applies to drugs. I certainly don’t want them anywhere near me, but if you want to dope yourself to death – go right ahead. I have the freedom to tell you that it is pretty stupid, I can preach (you don’t have to listen). But I cannot stop you by force unless what you are doing will directly harm me or another citizen.

Samey-samey on contracts between citizens. What right do you have to say what I have to pay for a given service? What right do you have to dictate what I am paid to do a service? Yet the liberal driven Congress has decided that it does have just that power. It is called minimum wage. If I wish to hire someone and can find a qualified person to do the job for some price that is a contract between me and another person – you should keep your nose out of it. If it is not moral for you to do as an individual it is not moral for a government to do it. Of course, the logical extension is that if I do not wish to pay enough for the service that I need I will not be able to find a qualified person until I am willing to pay more. This is called the free market.

Obviously there are some things that will have to be regulated and coordinated. Traffic comes to mind. It is just too big to expect individuals to build roads. There must be traffic laws to keep us all going in the same direction safely. This is a good example of protecting me from you and vice-versa. Proper government function. Of course, one can decide not to go along with the traffic laws. Many people do. The problem is that we don’t take drunken or drugged driving nearly as seriously as we do political incorrectness. There are fewer consequences for drunk driving than there are for publicly uttering a racial slur – real or perceived.

It is interesting that our current mindset makes prostitution illegal. What right do you have to say that a citizen cannot sell sexual services? What right do you have to say that another citizen cannot buy sexual services? Obviously, it must be illegal for a pimp to force someone into involuntary prostitution (which is slavery), but where does the Constitution say that you have the right to make a free exchange of service for money illegal? Under the philosophy of the FFs we can regulate prostitution to insure that both parties are protected from venereal disease since that comes under the heading of protecting a citizen from the act of another citizen. We seem to have it backwards – we have made prostitution illegal – and do not stop or punish those who spread venereal disease. I am of the opinion that there should be a death penalty for knowingly spreading venereal disease. It is callous murder and should be treated as such. We do have the right to protect ourselves and our families. That trumps the right of an individual to be a jerk. We cannot force someone to be treated for his disease, but we can insist that he does not spread it to others.

And so on. Like I said – who elected YOU God? According to the FFs our rights come from God. There was no possible discussion – “We hold these truths to be self-evident”. Self-evident means that you can see it if you are not brain-dead. Needs no further proof. You libs may deny the existence of God, but you certainly have not taken His place. And only He can remove my rights – not you. Keep trying and eventually us grumpy old free citizens will have to implement the FFs solution. “…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …” and “…it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government…” Like I said, read the founding documents. It just might open your eyes.

“…deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” You have my consent to protect yourself from me. You do not have my consent to rule my life. I will grant that the majority of people want to be pampered pets, with their decisions made for them. Fact is most people don’t have the brains, the grit, the foresight to take care of themselves. Let them leave. Let them die and not pass on their genes and values. But – do not let the weak fools force you to give up YOUR liberty. It is not that most people resent slavery – they don’t. They just want to be pampered pets instead of working slaves. If the current tend keeps up, Obama will only be the first of the Socialists. Others will follow, promising something for nothing until all freedom is gone and the money runs out. Then there will still be no freedom but the serfs will move from pampered pets to field hands. Just as in the Soviet Union people will be told what they will study, where they will work, where they will live and will not enjoy the fruits of their labors. Only the government bosses will gain the fruits. Government makes a treacherous servant and a cruel master. Do you really want this? Just keep voting bread and circuses and pass restrictive laws “for your own good”. The current “climate disaster” (warmer/colder/whatever) is just an excuse to deprive citizens of freedoms on the part of the radical left. Sell your birthright for a mess of light bulbs? Even the so-called “conservatives” are not anymore – they are only slightly less liberal. McCain is NOT a conservative – he is a liberal from 30 years back. Obama is not an old-style liberal – he is a socialist – and he has no idea what this country is about.

The main danger in electing Obama is that he can appoint judges that cannot or will not read the Constitution with open eyes. That is a long-run danger. The immediate danger is that the Congress can and will be liberal and – for “your own good” – will pass laws that gnaw away at our freedoms. Count on it – they will.

Don’t think I am only anti-Democrat. I also dislike the current crop of Republicans. The Democrats are despicable – as exemplified by Harry Reid, Pelosi and the like. The Republicans are stupid and corrupt. The Democrats will betray us for bent ideals – Reid and Pelosi seems to genuinely hate this country. Funny things about wannabe socialists – they cannot point to a single successful socialist country in history. The Republicans will sell us out for stupidity and/or greed. We elected the Republican Congress back in ’94. We were betrayed. What the dems don’t want you to remember was that Bill Clinton was not elected by an overwhelming majority. Ross Perot elected Clinton by taking a ton of conservative votes away from Bush, Sr. The ’94 Congress was overwhelmingly elected by an energized conservative country. The Republicans did not follow up on the mandate that they had received. We were betrayed. The country has been teetering back and forth in disillusionment since. Pendulum swings. This swing can and will result in a further loss of freedoms. Upon your own heads be it.

Sauce for the Goose –

18 July 08

. . . seems to no longer be sauce for the gander. A couple of things have been in the news lately. The one you probably heard about was the dust-up between Whoopi Goldberg and Elizabeth Hasselbeck on The View. Of course, it is a totally dumb, totally liberal show and no rational person pays any attention to it. However, it is instructive to note that Mrs. Hasselbeck took issue with Jessie Jackson’s use of the word nigger. Her point is that if it is wrong for one person to use it – regardless of race – then it is also wrong for another person to use it – also regardless of race. Whoppi Goldberg told her that black people could use the word but that white people could not. Bull. The whole point of the Civil Rights movement was to secure equality for all citizens – which is really a Constitutional principle from the get-go. One set of rules for white and another for black was precisely what was being protested. Now we are told that blacks can say words that whites cannot? This is nonsense of the worst sort. This does nothing to foster better racial relations in this country. This does nothing to strengthen anyone. Let me point out that if the practitioners of this absurd viewpoint wish to keep pushing “whitey” that eventually there will be severe backlash. No matter what yardstick is used if the race-baiting is pushed into real conflict there is no way the black minority can win.

Incidentally, Whoopi used the Humpty-Dumpty defense for her stupid assertion.

…There’s glory for you!’

`I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

`But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

`The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

`The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master — that’s all.’

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

`Would you tell me please,’ said Alice, `what that means?’

`Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. `I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’

`That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

`When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `I always pay it extra.’

`Oh!’ said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.

`Ah, you should see ’em come round me of a Saturday night,’ Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side, `for to get their wages, you know.’

(Alice didn’t venture to ask what he paid them with; and so you see I can’t tell you.)

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

In the real world, Humpty-Dumpty arguments are known to be logically fallible arguments where words are re-defined in opposition to their known and accepted meanings. Any truly rational (and reasonably educated) person can usually spot these phonies easily. Only the deliberately blind or ignorant are swayed by these stupid lies. Whoopi claims that blacks have adopted and redefined the word so that it is ok for black people to use it but not white. Anyone who buys this is stupid and or ignorant. Never mind political bias, either conservative or liberal. Behavior is either moral for all or moral for none.

The other example or rampant stupidity comes to us from the Brits. The National Children’s Bureau, which receives considerable British government funding, has issued a rather hefty set of guidelines for pre-school. Like 366 pages of bull, encouraging pre-school teachers and councilors to report children for racist tendencies and to “strongly encourage” them to give up their “racist attitudes”. Kinda reminds me of Nazi or Soviet thought police. Anyway, one of the real bad give-always for “racist tendencies” is that if the young kindergartener does not like being served spicy food, such as Indian, Pakistani, or some other highly spiced food. If said child even says “yuk” then the child has grave racist tendencies. The child must NOT react in any negative way to the “experience of other cultures”! One wonders if they will feed the Pakistani children ham sandwiches to see just how they will react. Highly spiced curry is not part of MY culture, but ham sandwiches are definitely a cherished part of my heritage. Do you think that they will use that test? I don’t. Racial insensitivity can ONLY be from white people. No one else is capable of racial insensitivity, bias, or bigotry.

Do you people not know hypocrisy when it bites you in the butt? Or are you merely concerned with making white western Europeans into a persecuted sub-class? I must firmly state that correct moral behavior applies equally to all people. There is no different set of rules for different race, religions, sexes, genders, or what have you. Anyone who thinks that different rules apply are exactly no different from any other bigot. The worst white racists are exactly the same as these bullshit black racists. The idiots who say that I am a racist because I don’t like Indian food are full of it. I don’t like the spicier Mexican, Thai, Indian, Korean, or whatever. I do like French, American, English, Japanese, Chinese (mandarin – not Szechwan), and many, many others. It has dead zero to do with racism and everything to do with my own taste buds. Period. And, as a by-the-way, I have considerable French blood. Escargot is part of MY racial heritage. If you will not eat escargot that makes you a racist and I AM OFFENDED! (Stupid – isn’t it)???!!! I am also an American Southerner – if you don’t eat the noble barbecue then you should be whipped for being such a nasty person – even if you don’t like it. What a ridiculous position. How ‘bout you eat what you like and I will eat what I like. There are people who like to eat shit. It is called Coprophagia. Are you a bigot if you do not share their tastes?

The thing to do is to see hypocrisy and bullshit for what it is and not tolerate it any longer. Golden rule applies to all. The Constitution (not to mention common sense) applies to all. When the white racists used the argument that black children learn differently from white children to justify separate (and mostly unequal) schools, it was morally reprehensible. And declared illegal. It is no less reprehensible when kooks like Jeremiah Wright use the same arguments to justify their bigoted positions. It is also still unconstitutional whether whites want to exclude blacks or vice-versa.

Equal rules for all or we descend into hell again. The stupid and the liberal (same difference) may buy this crap, but eventually the majority will react very negatively. Pendulums swing. We must stop this swing or the reverse oscillation will be even more powerful than it was in the past. No one of any intelligence or reasonable humanity wants that.

Your children –

15 July 08

Are being brainwashed. Whether you like it or not.

If your children go to government schools they are not being taught fundamentals. Things you learned, such as the fundamentals of English grammar and how to write a coherent sentence. Minor details like basic math. Geography, basic science such as beginning chemistry and physics are no longer taught. We have teachers who are barely literate. Teachers who seem more interested in posting their undressed drinking exploits on the internet than they do in learning their subjects and teaching them properly.

Math is one of the most fundamental skills that a human can have. All civilized activities require math. Math is also one of the easiest subjects to learn – at least on the basic and intermediate levels. I can already hear the cries of anguish out there. Let me state it as simply as I can. If a reasonably intelligent human who can walk and chew gum at the same time does not understand math the problem is most likely that said human was never taught properly. The major difficulty with learning math for a normal human is bad teaching.

Seems to be the rage amongst academics lately to state that English is beyond the intellectual potential of the students. This is bull. It may be beyond the level of the semi-illiterate teachers, but children can be taught just about anything when it is properly presented by someone who knows the subject. It might be useful to drop all the education courses and actually teach the teachers from textbooks of the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. People actually learned things back then.

The one thing that you can count on is that your children will be indoctrinated with the liberal religious beliefs about being green and saving the whales. The funny thing about the left’s fervent beliefs about “alternative energy” is that, although it may be out there, it certainly will not be attainable without mathematics, physics, and chemistry. There can be no development of energy sources by basket weavers, rap “artists”, actors, or any of the other soft fields that the teachers are fitting our young to be in. If these teachers wish for the “green revolution” to come about they would do better to teach the science that will be needed to discover and develop same, rather than ruining the young minds with their left-leaning fluff.

I find it interesting that for the past 50 years or so academics have tried to eliminate memorization and rote from the grammar schools. At the same time the TV advertisers have learned that if they pound the same message that people will absorb it on the unconsoious level. Maybe it would be wise for academics to wake up and smell the real world. In the real world, if we were managers with employees as incompetant and biased in their jobs as these government school teachers we would fire them. I don’t know of any manager that pays as little attention to his employees as most parents pay to the educators of their children.

Magical Mustard Pork Chops –

13 July 08

Sometimes in cooking the oddest combinations turn out to be wonderful. This is one of those things that at first glance doesn’t quite seem right. Mustard and cream? Well, yes – magic.

It’s really rather simple. Take some nice, thick, boneless pork chops. Dry them off with a paper towel. Sprinkle them with kosher (or sea) salt and fresh ground pepper and press it in. Do the same for the other side.

Coat a good skillet (preferably cast iron) with a splash or two of olive oil and a pat of butter. When it has gotten hot enough – about medium – fry up the chops, about 5 minutes per side. You only want to get them just past the pink stage – you do NOT want them shoe leather done and dried out. Nice juicy gray-white is what you’re aiming for.

When they are done, set aside on a warm plate and tent them with aluminum foil. Drain off the liquid except for about 2 tablespoons of the pan juices. Add about ½ cup of apple cider (hard). If you don’t have applejack – I usually don’t, just add some apple vinegar or unsweetened apple juice with a couple of splashes of good white wine or white vermouth. Add alcohol with the burner off. Turn the burner back on and whisk about to deglaze. When the alcohol has evaporated (or you can flame it) and the pan juices and bits are completely incorporated, add a tablespoon or two of coarse stone ground mustard – the German type works well. Then add about 1/3 cup or so of heavy whipping cream. Keep stirring over low heat until it thickens a bit. With cream you have to keep whisking or it can skin over to the detriment of the taste. When it is thickened you can either add the chops back in for a few seconds per side to coat it, or just pour the juice over the chops. What we usually do is serve the juice on the side in a dipping cup.

If you don’t care about food nazis, Pommes Anna goes nicely here. If you do worry about same, a good green salad might be your ticket.

Are They Really That Stupid? –

10 July 08

The leftier liberals in Code Pink are protesting the Marines Corps recruiting station in Berkeley, California. They are blocking access to the building where the station is located. They even want reserved parking spaces and permits to violate the noise ordinances. Never mind that there are other businesses in the building and in that area that they are affecting detrimentally. Never mind that they are loud, rude, and obnoxious. They are convinced that their self-righteous bigotry excuses them from any trace of proper public behavior.

The city council of Berkeley seems to be supporting the idiots while taking Federal funds for their city. Ok, if Berkeley wishes to be against the Corps, let them. Also let them be deprived of any and all Federal funding and services. That would also mean National Guard – they are also military with Federal funding. No disaster relief for anything or anyone in Berkeley if they were honest in their position.

Among the nuttier lefty rants is the constant mantra – George Bush started this war to get Iraq’s oil. Bull. To my knowledge we have not taken one drop of Iraqi oil. Let the left come out from under its tin-foil hats and show us dummies where the oil is and who has profited from it. If there were one shred of truth to that accusation the lefty newsies would be beating us to death with it.

Actually, I think we should take Iraqi oil. We should take exactly enough to repay the cost of freeing those people. We should take enough to repay the cost of all the infrastructure improvements we have been making to their country. The people of Iraq will benefit from the roads, bridges and buildings. Not the people of the United States. It is only fair the Iraqi resources be used to pay for the benefits to that country. The oil should be calculated at fair market value. We do not need to make a profit, but we should not pay for their free ride.

Back to the CodePink people. To quote their website: “CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities. We reject the Bush administration’s fear-based politics that justify violence, and instead calls for policies based on compassion, kindness and a commitment to international law.  With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.”

Blocking access to public buildings, waving signs, cursing military recruiters is “joy and humor”? Different definition than I know. George Orwell pointed out that one of the major tools of tyranny is redefining language.

These idiots have their heads in the sand. If there is no military, then we will lose the current war. It is not fear to look at a mad aggressor and decide that you must defend or die. The fact is that the “peace-loving” religion of Islam has a stated goal of dominating the earth. Islam has killed over 270 million people since its founding by a nutcase. Sharia law encourages killing, rape, torture, and slavery as acceptable practices. Shari law states that women are only worth half what the least man is worth. Shari law states that it is acceptable to kill women who are not behaving in accordance with accepted Moslem practices.

Yeah, sure. Let’s respond to the next murderous attack with compassion. Compassion for whom? For the murderous attackers? For the families of the victims? Do we just stand by and compassionately watch the butchers kill more people? My idea of compassion is to destroy the murderer before there are more victims. Not theirs, apparently. Compassion does not live in Sharia law. It is a Christian concept.

There will be no protests under Sharia law. There will be no “alternate sexuality” under Islam. Didn’t they see the mad dog ruler of Iran in New York? “We don’t have homosexuals”. Period. That is not even a possible lifestyle under Sharia law. The penalty is death.

I guess they really are that stupid. The only thing that stands between them and subjugation is the military. If we “don’t study war no more” the forces of Islam will be here the next day. Do they think a little local police force can protect them from armed invasion? Libs wanted to “get Binladin” with police type tactics. Libs, as exemplified by Clinton appointee Janet Reno, wanted the forces of law (FBI) to act as assault troops in Waco. Libs just don’t understand that cops cannot be military and armies cannot be cops.

Protest Islam? They wouldn’t think of it. It is only freedom and Christianity that are abused by these idiots. If they were genuine they would be protesting tyranny and injustice everywhere in the world. If they were genuine they would be protesting Islam’s treatment of women. But – they are not really as advertised. They only hate freedom, responsibility, the United States, Christianity and decency.

Plain Old Vanilla Wafers –

8 July 08

Herself is a big fan of the ubiquitous vanilla wafer. These are not something that I’m terribly fond of, but I make them for her. Not that I can judge all that well, but herself says that these are very good. So – here you go, they’re pretty easy.

2 sticks Unsalted butter – softened (1 cup)
425 grams Sugar (2 cups)
2 large eggs
21 grams Vanilla (2 Tbs)
400 grams All Purpose Flour (2-2/3) (King Arthur preferred)
6 grams Baking Powder (1-1/2 tsp)
4 grams Salt (1/2 tsp)   (Kosher preferred)

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Cream butter & sugar.

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients, mix well.

Drop by Tablespoons onto baking sheet.

Bake until edges are golden brown, takes about 15 minutes in my oven. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool.

Makes around 70 or so.

Herself swears that these are totally superior to the boxed variety. I will caution you that they will not last nearly as long since there are no preservatives in them.

Shrimp Casserole Sort of Scampi –

5 July 08

This is a rather easy and pretty good meal when you don’t have a whole lot of time and/or energy. It is kinda-sorta scampi-like. Most any of the ingredients can be substituted or swapped around to suit your own taste buds (or what you have on hand).

Olive oil
Butter
Garlic
Tomatoes
Parsley
Shrimp
Cheese
Lemon juice
Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

You will need somewhere around 6 to 12 shrimp per person depending on the size of the shrimp and the appetites involved. Rough chop some onions about equal to the volume of shrimp. Put some olive oil and butter in a good skillet and slow sweat the onions on very low heat while you do the next stuff. Peel and devein the shrimp and set them aside for the moment. Rough chop some tomatoes, somewhere between equal volume and twice volume of the onions. Toss them into the pan and raise the heat up a little bit. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. Toss in about 1 clove garlic per person, rough chopped, and stir it in. Let it mellow for about 2 minutes. Toss in the shrimp and around a quarter cup of parsley per person and mix it up. After about 1-1/2 minutes turn everything over and give it about another minute.

Put into a lubed casserole dish and cover with grated or crumbled cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano go well together. Feta gives it a nice Greek accent. Gruyere is also very nice. A mix that we like is sharp white cheddar – the Cabot Seriously Sharp Vermont is good – Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano. Bake for around 10 minutes. What you want is the shrimp cooked and the cheese melted. Don’t overcook it. The cheese will not be browned, but that’s just fine.

As soon as it comes out of the oven spritz on a little lemon juice and add a few grinds of pepper. You can use white pepper if you are going to serve it to company. Black works beautifully if you don’t mind the pepper showing up over the cheese. Taste and see if it needs any salt. Ours usually doesn’t.

Now, using the same technique, you can substitute just about any of the ingredients around, or add more of whatever you have. Just adjust the cooking time up or down so that between the skillet and the casserole everything comes done at the same time. This works as a main dish with sides or as a single taste meal when you are too tired to fiddle with cooking several different things.


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