Archive for October, 2008

Weird Chicken –

30 October 08

Weird Chicken –

1 boneless chicken breast or equivalent
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp tarragon
1/2 cup wine of choice
1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock or broth
1 cup green veggies of choice (broccoli is good)

Combine rice, water, broth, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Blanch the veggies if fresh. If the veggies are frozen cook for the package time. Drain and set aside.

{Herself Sez: If it’s green beans, you may want to cook a little longer than package time – in my opinion.}

Chunk chicken into bite-sized pieces, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté chicken in olive oil and butter. Remove chicken from pan, deglaze with wine. Add tarragon and veggies. Sauté until warm, add rice and chicken and heat thoroughly. If the sauce is too thick thin with a small amount of broth.

{Herself Sez: I LOVE chicken. This love affair with clucks began when I was very small and my little Gam (grandmother) would make fried chicken, rice and gravy, salad, and a veggie (frequently southern-style green beans) nearly every Sunday for dinner. Yummm! I’ve been trying to duplicate her recipes for over 40 years. One of these days, I might make it. But I’ll eat chicken from nearly any recipe -except chitlins. (NO, we do NOT pronounce it “chitterlings.”) Tried ’em, didn’t like ’em. Don’t like calamari for the same reason – rubbery, little flavor. So when the Ol’ Curmudgeon comes up with a new chicken recipe, I’m all nose and mouth – the smell, the taste! This one is a great recipe, and is excellent for those times you are short on time. It takes less time to do this than it does to read the recipe and cognitively process it. Really!}


The Strenuous Life

29 October 08

By Theodore Roosevelt

{Herself Sez: dmsgroupster posted a LOOOOOOoong comment, and the Ol’ Curmudgeon asked me to chop it down and put this speech in a blog post.}

(Extract from speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago, April 10, 1899. From the “Strenuous Life. Essays and Addresses” by Theodore Roosevelt. The Century Co., 1900.)

In speaking to you, men of the greatest city of the West, men of the State which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who preeminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual. I ask only that what every self-respecting American demands from himself and his sons shall be demanded of the American nation as a whole. Who among you would teach the boys that ease, that peace, is to be the first consideration in their eyes–to be the ultimate goal after which they strive? You men of Chicago have made this city great, you men of Illinois have done your share, and more than your share, in making America great, because you neither preach nor practise such a doctrine. You work, yourselves, and you bring up your sons to work. If you are rich and are worth your salt you will teach your sons that though they may have leisure, it is not to be spent in idleness; for wisely used leisure merely means that those who possess it, being free from the necessity of working for their livelihood, are all the more bound to carry on some kind of non-remunerative work in science, in letters, in art, in exploration, in historical research–work of the type we most need in this country, the successful carrying out of which reflects most honor upon the nation. We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort. Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been stored up effort in the past. A man can be freed from the necessity of work only by the fact that he or his fathers before him have worked to good purpose. If the freedom thus purchased is used aright and the man still does actual work though of a different kind, whether as a writer or a general, whether in the field of politics or in the field of exploration and adventure, he shows he deserves his good fortune. But if he treats this period of freedom from the need of actual labor as a period, not of preparation, but of more enjoyment, he shows that he is simply a cumberer on the earth’s surface, and he surely unfits himself to hold his own with his fellows if the need to do so should again arise. A mere life of ease is not in the end a very satisfactory life, and, above all, it is a life which ultimately unfits those who follow it for serious work in the world.

In the last analysis a healthy State can exist only when the men and women who make it up lead clean, vigorous, healthy lives; when the children are so trained that they shall endeavor, not to shirk difficulties, but to overcome them; not to seek ease, but to know how to wrest triumph from toil and risk. The man must be glad to do a man’s work, to dare and endure and to labor; to keep himself, and to keep those dependent upon him. The woman must be the housewife, the helpmeet of the homemaker, the wise and fearless mother of many healthy children.

In one of Daudet’s powerful and melancholy books he speaks of “the fear of maternity, the haunting terror of the young wife of the present day.” When such words can be truthfully written of a nation, that nation is rotten to the heart’s core. When men fear work or fear righteous war, when women fear motherhood, they tremble on the brink of doom; and well it is that they should vanish from the earth, where they are fit subjects for the scorn of all men and women who are themselves strong and brave and high-minded.

As it is with the individual, so it is with the nation. It is a base untruth to say that happy is the nation that has no history. Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

If in 1861 the men who loved the Union had believed that peace was the end of all things, and war and strife the worst of all things, and had acted up to their belief, we would have saved hundreds of lives, we would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars. Moreover, besides saving all the blood and treasure we then lavished, we would have prevented the heartbreak of many women, the dissolution of many homes, and we would have spared the country those months of gloom and shame when it seemed as if our armies marched only to defeat. We could have avoided all this suffering simply by shrinking from strife. And if we had thus avoided it, we would have shown that we were weaklings, and that we were unfit to stand among the great nations of the earth. Thank God for the iron in the blood of our fathers, the men who upheld the wisdom of Lincoln, and bore sword or rifle in the armies of Grant! Let us, the children of the men who proved themselves equal to the mighty days, let us the children of the men who carried the great Civil War to a triumphant conclusion, praise the God of our fathers that the ignoble counsels of peace were rejected; that the suffering and loss, the blackness of sorrow and despair were unflinchingly faced, and the years of strife endured; for in the end the slave was freed, the Union restored, and the mighty American republic placed once more as a helmeted queen among nations.

The Army and Navy are the sword and shield which this nation must carry if she is to do her duty among the nations of the earth–if she is not to stand merely as the China of the western hemisphere. Our proper conduct toward the tropic islands we have wrested from Spain is merely the form which our duty has taken at the moment. Of course, we are bound to handle the affairs of our own household well. We must see that there is civic good sense in our home administration of city, State and nation. We must strive for honesty in office, for honesty toward the creditors of the nation and of the individual, for the widest freedom of individual initiative where possible, and for the wisest control of individual initiative where it is hostile to the welfare of the many. But because we set our own household in order we are not thereby excused from playing our part in the great affairs of the world. A man’s first duty is to his own home, but he is not thereby excused from doing his duty to the State; for if he fails in this second duty, it is under the penalty of ceasing to be a freeman. In the same way, while a nation’s first duty is within its own borders it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.

I preach to you, then, my countrymen, that our country calls not for the life of ease, but for the life of strenuous endeavor. The twentieth century looms before us big with the fate of many nations. If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us, therefore, boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.

The role of government –

28 October 08

According to Jeremiah Wright, the government is the tool of the evil white community and it’s main function is to come up with schemes to kill or drug or destroy people of color. I must say that the Moslems must be much more efficient than we are. We imported 400,000 black slaves (doesn’t count the 100,000 or so that died in route) and there are 36 million plus black people in America today. The Moslems imported over 20 million (doesn’t count the approximately 50 million that died in route) and there are almost no blacks in the Middle East today. For that matter the Germans did a pretty fair job reducing the Jewish and Gypsy populations of Europe. Of course, Mr. Wright doesn’t like Jews very much. He doesn’t seem to like white people very much either. But he’s not a racial bigot. He’s not a hate monger. He doesn’t indulge in hate speech. Bullshit. Pardon my bluntness.

By the way – if there were really a white conspiracy to eliminate the black population of the United States – then there would not be those 36 million plus black people in the country.

So, if the government of the United States is so bad why then do the followers of Obama (and Hillary) expect the government to fix all the woes of their lives? If the government is engaged in a conspiracy to eliminate blacks how can it be that the black community wants to trust government to feed them and make all their decisions for them. Remember that one of Obama’s followers said that Obama was the best qualified to “feed the sheep”.

Either the government of the United States is trying to kill off all the black people and is so totally incompetent that it could not be trusted with anything or Mr. Wright is nothing but a bitter, hate-mongering kook.

We have provided the opportunity for each citizen to strive for whatever goals are in his heart. But, we can not and will not guarantee that any given goal will be met. We have simply provided an atmosphere where each individual can determine his own destiny. Success or failure is up to the individual at hand.

Even if one or more individuals put obstacles in the way our society puts no limits on the citizen. It is time for the black community to grow up and get over it. I can do no more than provide the freedom for opportunity and see to it that overt discrimination is punished. Even if I had the means to make every single person in the country an overnight millionaire I would not do it. When the Spanish started conquest of the New World so many people got so rich so fast that the country no longer had anyone who wanted to work. Outsiders started coming to Spain in droves to do the jobs that had to be done. The will to succeed disappeared from Spain and the economy tanked and the country went into a 500 year decline. Spain has been recovered from this self-imposed disaster only in the last 50 years or so. Sound familiar? People do not need an easy life handed to them on a platter. People need to strive for success and achieve it on their own to be happy and satisfied.

How to Defeat America –

25 October 08

The world knows the way not to defeat America – direct confrontation. In the last century Italy, Germany, and Japan tried direct confrontation – to their considerable sorrow. They should have known better. Many officers and high officials of those countries, including the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, were educated in America. Unfortunately for them, they mistook the leftist Ivy League University attitudes that they knew to be representative of the average American’s attitude towards totalitarianism.

In this century Al Queda made the same mistake on 9/11/2001. If you directly attack America, you will be flattened.

There is a much better way, as the North Vietnamese discovered. Fight a very limited holding action overseas and let the American left win the war for you. The North Vietnamese have stated that they knew that the war was lost in the late 1960s and they could not possibly win a military victory. Wise political and military strategists also saw that if they could just keep a holding pattern that the American left would force withdrawal and that the South Vietnamese could not possibly stand against them. And so it was. The first outright defeat of American troops came at the hands of home-grown American traitors, not at the hands of any enemy forces.

The left of the 1960s and their spiritual children who are such haters of this country and traitors are even stronger than ever.

Consider the words of George Orwell:

The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States …

Notes on Nationalism, May 1945

Consider Ward Churchill, Code Pink and other traitors. It is not enough for Code Pink that they will not serve to defend this country, they wish to deny others the freedom to follow their consciences. If an Armed Forces Recruiting station is in your neighborhood then you have the freedom to go in or not, as your own choice. If Code Pink shuts down said recruiting station then they have denied you the choice of going in. That is not freedom. That is totalitarianism.

I find it of interest that Mr. Churchill felt free to lie about his military service and his ethnic heritage. He felt free to misappropriate public funds for his un-factual “research”. I should say that this is typical of the left. Any conduct is ok. Any lie is ok if it furthers the noble goals of the left. Expediency is the byword of the day. The end justifies the means is a fervently held belief.

Given all that, the enemies of America are foolish if they provoke direct confrontation. The way to defeat America is to keep very slow pressure on and court the assistance of the left. Patience and little bites will allow our internal traitors to defeat us.

Make no mistake, the hate-mongers of the left will peace and love this country into the grave. They will destroy the military. They will open the borders. They will allow crime to be rampant in the streets, just so long as none of the criminals is politically incorrect. The rights of the sadistic criminal are more important than the rights of his victims. Remember that there was more outrage over the remarks of Don Imus than there are over brutal repeat child murderers. If a white gang murders a black, then that is a hate crime and there is great outrage. If a black gang murders a white then little or nothing is said.

If you enemies just wait a bit you will not have a military to worry about. You will be welcomed by these Ward Churchills as honorable repayers of America’s sins. After all, he and those like him consider the murder of the 9/11 victims was only what they deserved and asked for.

So, just be patient. Push forward an inch or two. Be ready to pull back half an inch and rest for a bit. Repeat. Let the left think that when you yield up half an inch of your gain that they have won a great diplomatic and moral victory. They will be happy if you just let them have an occasional scrap. Let them keep their pride in their great moral victory while you keep the majority of your gain. Yours will be the final pride when the left sinks America and you just walk in victorious, knowing that the proudest nation on earth is now yours. You can do anything you like if you don’t get in a hurry and let the left feel good about it. Remember Hitler’s big lie tactics – they worked with the left of his day – Chamberlain ring a bell? “Peace in our time!”, while Adolph gulped another country down.

Use lies, the left likes them and uses them. Consider the charge that America is imperialist. Obviously, anyone with an ounce of sense can see that it just ain’t so. America could have annexed all of Western Europe after either World War and no one could have stopped her. Consider that America has taken no foreign nation as a vassal. Think about the charge that the left is currently glorying in: America invaded Iraq for oil. America has not taken any Iraqi oil. I personally think that she should, at fair market value less some reasonable discount, until the cost of freeing Iraq is paid. But America has not chosen to take the oil. Consider some other leftist stupidities: 9/11 was an inside job. The government did it. Katrina could not have flooded New Orleans. The government must have blown up the levees. AIDS is a government plot. Like I said, dumb. But the left keeps spouting this crap. While the left’s policies are in place you grow stronger as America grows weaker. No new oil exploration of our own resources. No new refineries are being developed and built. The politicians are persuaded to waste resources on stupid stuff like ethanol, which costs more to grow and process than the energy it delivers. Outlaw incandescent light bulbs, even though the replacements cost more energy overall. Yes, the left’s policies will leave America so weak that she will fall on her own. The only battle necessary will be to determine which enemy gets to walk in and take over. Don’t worry about conquering. The Quislings of the left will welcome whichever conqueror prevails with open arms.

Not Your Standard Gingerbread –

23 October 08

This is a soft, moist gingerbread cake totally unsuited for the construction of architectural oddities. Forget gingerbread men and gingerbread houses. This stuff is for eating and is mighty tasty. Especially warm with ice cream and/or whipped cream on top.

250 g Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (2 cups)
50 g granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
5 g baking soda (1 tsp)
3 g salt (1/2 tsp)
4 g ground ginger (1-1/2 tsp)
3 g cinnamon (1 tsp)
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
255 g molasses
57 g water
1 large egg
227 g buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″ pan. I like to use unsalted butter kinda’ heavily. Mix up everything in a good stand mixer until thoroughly blended. If you want to do it by hand mix up all the dry stuff. Mix up all the wet stuff and add to the dry stuff stirring until completely blended. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or so – the cake should be just pulling away from the sides of the pan. Gently cut away from the sides of the pan and decant onto a plate or a drying rack. Mine is usually too soft and moist to do well on a rack. Cool for at least 15 minutes before attacking.

Variations: You could use white whole wheat instead of standard all-purpose flour, just use about 25 grams more of the white whole wheat. King Arthur has a pretty good white whole wheat, but you will probably have to order it from their web site unless your local groceries have a better selection than around here.

You could also rough chop 50 to 100 grams of crystallized ginger and stir it in if you really want a potent ginger kick.

If you really want to go the old-fashioned way, make your own crystallized ginger:

Peel and thin slice about a pound or so of fresh ginger root and put it in a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for about a half hour. The ginger should be very soft at this point. Drain off the water and weigh the ginger. Add an equal amount of sugar by weight and put it all back in the saucepan along with 3 tablespoons of water. Now come the tricky part. A gas range is easier for boiling sugar since you can control the heat better. Anyway, bring to a boil stirring very frequently. Boil gently until the ginger is transparent and the liquid has mostly gone. Reduce the heat and continue to cook while stirring constantly until it is just about dry. Toss the ginger pieces in sugar and store in an airtight jar. It will keep for around three months. We call it crystallized ginger but it is really candied ginger. You probably already know that the biggest thing about cooking things in sugar is that you must watch the temperature carefully and keep stirring. To cool and the sugar will not melt properly. Too hot and it will burn and make a terrible mess. The just right between too cool and too hot is a pretty narrow temperature range. You will do just fine if you keep an eye on the temperature and stir constantly. Oh yeah, you want to wash up immediately or you will have a good scrub ahead to get that pan clean.

The candied ginger has been used as a treat for centuries. It has been served with fine coffee in many places. You want a Viennese sort of treat then coat it with bittersweet chocolate and chopped nuts. Try that with cold Champagne or some decent light, sparkling wine for a very traditional European breakfast treat. (I prefer eggs and such myself).

Herself Sez: This is incredibly good! But my Ol’ Curmudgeon didn’t even MENTION Champagne as an option for Saturday breakfast to me! Harumph! He might prefer eggs and such (and I usually have to cook them), but I’d love a “petit déjeuner” of fresh, warm gingerbread and Champagne! Then I could post the blogs in a lovely mood!

I Thought Jews Were Supposed to be Smart –

21 October 08

Back in June, I saw Ellen Ratner on Fox and Friends. She was supposed to be giving commentary on Obama’s resignation from his church. She pooh-poohed any suggestion that his church affiliation meant anything to his campaign, and rather loudly and proudly proclaimed that there would be an Obama presidency.

Deep sigh. Even the so-called intelligent Jews seem to be incapable of learning from history. Let us review. Many of Obama’s advisors and base supporters are Nation of Islam members. His (former) church, the one he belonged to for over 20 years, has a track record of strong ties with Farrakhan, and has had many sermons from the pulpit that are rabidly anti-Jewish and strongly pro-Palestinian.

Obama has publicly stated that he would be sympathetic towards further expansion of the Palestinian “rights” in Israel. He has stated that he would immediately open talks with Moslem groups that have the stated purpose of eliminating Israel and the Jews. Obama has selected Zbigniew Brzezinski as his chief foreign policy advisor. Those who can remember, or bother to research the history, will realize that Brzezinski was foreign policy advisor under Jimmy Carter, arguably the worst president that this country has ever had. Certainly Carter’s track record is that of pro-Moslem and anti-Israeli. Check the funding of the Carter Center in Atlanta. Follow the money, and you will see that Jimmy is considerably beholden to Moslem interests. Zbigniew Brzezinski showed himself to be not a friend to Israel long ago. He does not seem to have changed his spots.

I should point out to liberal Jews like Ellen Ratner that the anti-Jewish sentiment in the world is still alive and well. If America pulls what little support we have for Israel there will be nothing to stop the terrorist Moslems from wiping out the Jews. Check it out, there are very few Jews left in Europe courtesy of the Nazi “solution”. The anti-Jew sentiment in Russia is still as rabid as it ever was.

Many years ago we had a couple over to dinner. They were from Russia and came to our church. Lovely woman, nice husband. But – after dinner the husband started in on a virulently anti-Jewish rant. No logic, just lies and hatred. After a short period of trying to get this guy to calm down, see reason, and understand that I would not tolerate this sort of hateful diatribe in my home, I finally just had to ask them to leave. I could tell that the wife was mortified and ashamed of her husband’s attitude, which was totally illogical and incompatible with Christianity. I felt sorry for her. But not to the extent of putting up with that sort of poison in my house. Don’t ever think that this sort of hatred is not still alive in the world. And make no mistake, this guy and those like him would pull the lever on a gas chamber with glee. Or cheer while others bombed “those dirty Jews” out of existance. Why is it that the great unwashed always talk about “dirty Jews”?

If we allow Obama to weaken support for Israel and it is destroyed how much longer will it be before the racism of the Nation of Islam and other stupid and ignorant groups becomes inflamed to anti-Jewish action in this country? Remember, you liberal Jews who march in the same parade as the Jew-haters, that the Nazis and everyone else who has similar beliefs do not differentiate between those who are religious Jews and those who have Jewish ancestry. To these people, a Jew is a Jew, and the only good Jew is a dead Jew.

We are seeing history repeat itself, but this time the Jews are marching in the same parade as those who would destroy them. Just how smart is that?

The True Face of PC –

18 October 08

This is a link to a news release which discusses a pending case. Rockwell Collins, as so many corporations, has required “diversity training” that employees are required to take online. The employee requested that he be exempted from the portion of the training on homosexuality since he was required to “celebrate and embrace” homosexual lifestyles. He was fired.

Now then. This is PC gone nuts. It is one thing to state that one should not actively persecute someone for being gay, it is quite another thing to require that we all “embrace and celebrate” the gay lifestyle.

I grew up around gays. One of my godmothers in the Episcopal Church was a lesbian. One of my parents dear friends was a homosexual. I daresay that I have probably known and worked with more gays than 99% of the people in Corporate America. I taught ballroom dancing in the 1970’s and was the only straight male teacher in the studio.

Now then. In the workplace there is no diversity. Not in the sense that the pundits mean. Yes indeed, there is diversity of people, but really there is not and should not be diversity of behavior. In Corporate America one must perform the job. Period. That is the only yardstick that can or should be used. To perform most corporate jobs it is required that the individual be able to communicate. This usually means that one speak comprehensible English. This also usually means that one must be able to read and understand English manuals and memos. One must also be able to write a comprehensible memo – in English, preferably with at least reasonable grammar and spelling.

Generally, sex has no place in the workplace. I don’t know (or care) if most of the people at my workplace are married, shacking, playing, solo, or what. It does not belong in the workplace. I am not interested in hearing about Studly Hungwell’s exploits whether the object is male – female – or ambiguous.

Likewise, proselytizing has no place in the workplace. This is usually understood by liberal dominated Corporations to explicitly mean that Christians have to shut up and allow the “diversity” of Hindu, Moslem, Buddhist, or whatever. I have no problem with considerate people of any persuasion. However, the Moslem who believes that women must always have a subordinate position must leave that at home. The Mormon or the Jehovah’s Witness or the Fundamentalist must not preach in the workplace. This is understood. But this also applies to the atheist, the Moslem, etc.

It is understood that the Moslem may not like the Jew, but is not free to express that dislike in the workplace. It is also understood that the Moslem will probably never celebrate and embrace Judaism. Nor is it required for him to do so (yet). It is understood that the Moslem may consider women inferior, and that while his attitude cannot be changed to “celebrate and embrace” females as the equal of male, this is ok as long as it does not get brought into the workplace.

Why then, is homosexuality different? I do not hate homosexuals, nor do I particularly like them. I like or dislike individuals based on their behavior and personality. As a Christian I do not approve of the practice of homosexuality, but I do not hate someone for being homosexual. For that matter, as a Christian I disapprove of any sexuality outside of marriage. No matter what the gender of the participants. Again I state that not putting someone down for being different – as long as they are behaving decently in public and in the workplace – that is all that is required. This business of corporations requiring that I accept, celebrate, and embrace some group or other is more than nonsense. It does indeed look like the people who are talking about the “homosexual agenda” are quite correct. They are not the paranoid nuts that they are depicted in the liberal press and worldview.

As a free American, I may like or dislike anyone or any group at will. What I may not do is infringe on the freedom of another individual. The government – or any corporation or individual – does not have the right to tell me what I must think. A corporation may dictate that hatred and discrimination not be practiced on the job. But said corporation may not dictate that I must embrace behavior which is totally against the teachings of my Church or conscience.

The thought police are on your case. If you do not toe the line your job will be in jeopardy. Last time I looked it was the liberals who were pushing this stuff. Go ahead, elect Obama and a Democrat Congress. This will become an even more common practice. The Constitution is dying. And most are standing by without any protests.

Creamy Drunken Shrimp –

17 October 08

A rather nice variation for shrimp when your taste buds are bored and limp.

For 4 people, scale as necessary.

½ stick unsalted butter
1 minced shallot
thick sliced mushrooms
some broccoli florets or chopped Brussels sprouts

pound of uncooked, peeled, deveined shrimp
2 cups of heavy cream

Melt the butter in a good iron skillet, lower the heat and sweat the shallots, mushrooms, and veggies for 4 to 5 minutes, turning and/or stirring to keep even cooking. If you don’t have shallots handy you can use an equal volume of mild onion, minced. If your broccoli or sprouts are fresh then drop them into boiling salted water for about 3 minutes before adding. If they are frozen let them thaw before adding. It may be good to add a little more butter as this cooks, just use your own judgment.

Add a cup of either champagne or some decent white wine of your choice, raise the heat and boil rapidly for about 4 minutes until the liquid is pretty well reduced.

Add in the pound of uncooked, peeled, deveined shrimp and the 2 cups of heavy cream. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring quite often for 10 minutes or until the shrimp are nicely pink and the cream good and thick.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. If you are doing this for presentation use white pepper, otherwise good freshly ground black is fine. Garnish with a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley.

Serve over whatever suits you. We rather like rice, you may like some kind of pasta. If you are not familiar with cooking rice, see the previous discussion on Japanese Rice.

This is one of those cooking methods where just about anything can be added, subtracted, or changed to suit your taste and current cupboard supplies. You could substitute scallops for the shrimp. You could chop up some chicken instead. You could use some local fish that has a fine taste and texture. You can use whatever vegetable is good to you, just make sure that it will come done about the same time as the rest of the ingredients.

Green Vegetables –

12 October 08

Let us speak of green vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, green beans and the like.

Generally, Americans just boil the things, usually from a frozen state. Not really the best way. I am a mostly fan of the French way of cooking the things, although I will admit to liking Southern style green beans that have been slow simmered with pieces of hog jowl. Very tasty with some good yellow cornbread for mopping up the pot likker.

You can kick the French politically, but their cooking deserves its high reputation.

In the French way of cooking, vegetables are blanched, not boiled to death. For fresh veggies, that means drop the veggies in rapidly boiling salted water. Bring back to a boil and boil for 6 minutes. Drain and immediately cool with fresh water to stop the cooking. At this point they are only about half cooked. By blanching and cooling we have preserved the fresh color and taste.

We can do the same thing with frozen vegetables by allowing them to thaw to room temperature and then blanching them for 3 minutes.

After the vegetables are blanched drain them thoroughly and place them into a well buttered casserole dish of whatever is the appropriate size. Cook them in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes.

There are several good variations that can be done. First, after about 10 minutes in the oven remove, cover the bottom with grated cheese, put the veggies back in and cover the top with grated or shredded cheese. Raise the oven to 400°F and give it another 15 minutes or so.

Second, after 10 minutes or so, add boiling heavy cream to the dish and cook for another 10 minutes.

Third, combine any of the above with any kind of braised nuts that you like at the beginning and cook with the veggies.

Fourth, rough chop after blanching, warm in a skillet to evaporate all the water, then simmer in heavy cream, salt and pepper. After about 10 minutes of simmering it should be done and tender. Add some butter off heat and sprinkle with any garnish such as parsley or mint or whatever you like. Correct the seasoning to taste.

{Herself Sez: I have a love-hate relationship with veggies. The Ol’ Curmudgeon gets stressed about it from time to time. I need to keep some frozen collards, and spinach (creamed and souffle) and turnip greens around. I love broccoli – IF it has lemon juice or hollandaise sauce or a nice cheese sauce. I adore turnip greens with cornbread and potlikker (gee, ya think I’m Southern?). Brussels sprouts? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Green beans? We like them best “overcooked” with a cube of hog jowl in them, but we refrain. I often use “Bacos” but they just don’t give the same flavor. Hog Jowl gives the best flavor – even better than raw bacon. SIGH! Green veggies? I’ll eat them, occasionally!}

Orthodox Church Music –

8 October 08

For many years I was choir director at {…} Russian Orthodox Church in {…} until physical limitations put a halt to that. I found that the available supply of decent English music was lacking. In Russia, the singers grow up in the Church and assimilate the music by osmosis. There the music frequently is not written down, and the director can simply say “sing these words to such-and-such melody” and get away with it. Also, before the Communist Revolution when so many Christians were Martyred, the major cathedrals had paid choirs of professional singers who really knew the music. This situation is not available to American Church Singers. There is a fairly large body of work done by OCA choristers, but the translations that they use are not suited to the services of our Church. I had, in the beginning, what almost every director of a convert church in America has: Untrained singers of the American convert persuasion, some few Russian descendents who knew the music in Slavonic, but not English, some recent Russian émigrés who didn’t have a clue about Church Tradition and singing, but wanted to learn. Some OCA books with different translations than we use. Tattered umpteenth generation photocopies of bits of this and that. And so it goes.

I decided that this was totally inadequate for glorifying God in the Church, and was a mess to keep up with during the services. Frantically shuffling paper is not conducive to proper worship. I went to a local music store that was into computers and music and got a semi-decent midi keyboard and Encore music notation software. Since the clear trend in ROCOR among the “biggie” Russian directors has been Finale, this might have been a better choice. However, Encore was much cheaper and easier to learn and use, and has served my needs. The music was, by and large, “out there”, and it was mostly a matter of finding some version of the music, determining whether or not it would be within the capability and range of my choir, entering it into Encore and twiddling the arrangement to properly fit the translations being used and the vocal capability of my choir. Some of it comes from the “Sputnik” to which I had access. Some of the pieces are outright compositions. Some are reusing melodies that we liked to the proper words (an old and time-honored tradition).

Service books done:

  • Liturgy – John Chysostom and Basil, with or without Deacon.
  • Hierarchical Liturgy
  • Major Feasts/Fasts – Annunciation, Christmas, Circumcision, Cross, Meeting in the  Temple, Lent – Presanctified Liturgy, Pascha (all services), Pentecost, Theophany, Tranfiguration
  • Vigil, or separate Vespers and Matins
  • Panakida, Funeral, Baptism, Marriage, Ordination, Akathist, Moleiben
  • About 5 years of the variable cycle of Troparia and Kontakia

Yes, it is true that an EXPERIENCED choir can sing whatever words to whatever tone at the drop of a hat. However, where this seems to mostly work is where the director is a Soprano and drags the rest through. I am a bass, and it is better to go ahead and provide the music so that everyone is together instead of straggling behind a forceful lead. Even the best seem to fall apart on Tone 3.

General notes for use:

Singers – the music is only the guide. Follow the director. Just because you think that the music shows a given value for a note – follow the director’s lead in humility and love. Even if the director is wrong, it is better to all go together. Go to the practices diligently and realize that your singing is a very important part of the services. Prepare for the service. Not only spiritually but also know you part and warm up properly before you get there. Be on time and prepared to sing. Nothing is quite as disconcerting to a director as looking at a choir that should be there and only seeing 1 or 2 people.

Directors (new directors mostly) – you already know that the music (particularly for note duration) is just a guide. If you carefully chant the words, you should get a general idea of the relative note values. Pace the music so that your Priest is neither waiting nor rushed in his celebration. Listen to some of the better Russian recordings. But do realize that what is recorded is NOT daily parish level. Most of the recordings are Cathedral and frequently Hierarchical services and may not directly reflect what your choir should be like even at its best. Work closely with the Priest and follow his likes and dislikes (even if they differ from yours). Pitch – a lot of the original Russian stuff is in G. You will notice that mostly this stuff is in F. We seem to have more baritone or bass Priests and Deacons in America (better nutrition?), but pitch where your clergy and choir are comfortable – especially on the Litanies. Above all – love your singers and glorify our Lord with your music.

A small fraction of what I have done has been put on the web:

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