Friday, May 30, 2008

La Cena Minimale

Please note the Great Cooks Bloglist on the side! I was invited to join, so I did, and now I get to belong to at least three different Food blog societies.



Tonight's Haramfest is for one. Me. Solo, tonight. So, I am going completely minimalismo, and for a nice minimalismo touch I'm thinking either MJQ or Dave Brubeck...I'll precede dinner with Dave but I will have Yo Yo Ma for dessert.

At certain times in my life I like spareness. Dinner is no exception. I like art to have just enough in it that makes it art....and no more. Japanese art appeals to me for that reason.


From Bill Katz' site. The Happy Koi. This was painted by his mother, Nga Bui Katz.


So does Andrew Wyeth's art.





And so, my dinner has to be simple. Simple in preparation, simple in presentation, and then simply enjoyed.


I am making Pan-seared steak with Garlic Butter



and Tomatoes with Mozzarella and Basil. That's it. Simple, ne?

For preparing the steak, whatever cut you have will work fine. Get your dry black cast iron skillet hot, either in the oven at the highest temperature, or on the stove top on high.
Pour some Worcesteshire sauce into the meat, add salt and pepper, and drizzle olive oil over it. Turn it over and repeat the process.

Make sure you have really ripe tomatoes and fresh basil. Also, make sure you use fresh mozzarella, the kind that is almost creamy.
Slice the tomatoes, salt and pepper them on both sides, add a slice of mozzerella and then some torn fresh basil. Lightly oil each slice with extra virgin olive oil.

Your skillet should be ready by this time.  Add your steak, and turn down the heat to medium.
Let it sear for about 5 minutes, and flip. Sear another 5 to 8 minutes, and remove to your plate.
Add a nice dollop of butter you have mixed with roasted garlic and Italian seasoning. You can get roasted garlic in the produce department in olive oil. It is delicious and a real time saver.


Yo Yo Ma. Spare in name. Lovely spareness. Everything there, nothing more to add.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mmmmmm, Cake. I like Cake


Eat Not The Cookie of Satan! Read the whole thing! Follow its wisdom, for Lo! It is Truth!

Eat instead the Cake of the Devil!

Yes, keeds, it is time for a story involving what else: FOOD. I will, in no way try to compete with Gerard Vanderleun's prose, which involves a fantastic recipe for his mom's chocolate chip cookies, and what constitutes the important thing on everyone's mind, these days, but I will tell you a really charming story involving babies...really cute little babies.

These babies. Twenty years ago....sigh. They are our first. Hard to believe they are in college, now.
On the left, Emily, the first born, kicked out of the womb by her bigger little sister on the right, Julia. We nicknamed them various things, starting with the hospital names: Baby A and Baby B. Since there were at least three other sets of twins in the NICU, Baby A and Baby B was a little too confusing. So we called them Trial (Emily) and Error (Julia)...which later became Mei Mei and Shu Shu...and we still call them those nicks! One older gentleman used to call them Icky-Pee and Icky-Poo, depending what happened when he held them...Icky Oh $h!t I am Covered with Vomit, and Now My Shirt is Ruined! being the alternate.
At some point, these things begin to walk and talk and get themselves into all kinds of trouble. Occasional visits from the Social Services Ladies being a sometime rare thing, but only when Trial would wander off, while Error was still in her crib sleeping, and vice versa. Thank Goodness our neighbors weren't cannibals or pederasts. It is those precious, precious times we mothers of twins rue not getting a set of conjoined twins, instead.
One such time was the Tuesday Before the Wednesday Morning Ladies Bible Study, where we all sit around in a circle and eat decadent treats involving Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines and Rice Krispies, Jell-O, Shoo fly Pie, or Pillsbury...and talk about stuff in the Bible sometimes.
It was my turn to make some sinfully distracting comestible and I chose to make Very Dark and Evil Chewy Triple Fudge Brownies. Two batches. With Chocolate Frosting. Enough for each of us ladies to enjoy one without incurring to much of the Wrath of our Hips.
Spending the better part of the morning making brownies, and doing laundry while keeping the babies amused wears a mommy out, and mommy and babies retired to our room to nap til lunch. Which, I did, but the babies had other plans. They climbed out of their cribs, slid down the stairs and toddled into the kitchen, where they climbed up onto the chair, and then onto the breakfast table, where they began to indulge themselves silly in Ladies' Bible Study Food!
WELL! My Mother's Spidey sense aroused me shortly thereafter, and I tiptoed down to the kitchen, only to find Trial and Error sitting, clad only in their diapers, on the kitchen table, four fist fulls of brownies.
Two pairs of baby blue eyes met the holy rage brewing in my face, and startled, Error dropped her ill gotten goody and covered her face in shame with guilty chocolate covered hands, while her sister, Trial...her chocolate frosted face bathed in guiltless joy, contented and sated in a way that only chocolate can, beamed, and through her chocolate crusted tooth, said, "Mmmmm.....Cake.......I....like......Cake."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

If it moves, Grill it!


If I could have changed anything about my life, it would be to have gone to culinary school. I would have done well as a pastry chef, methinks. At the eager age of 12 I made cream puffs from the Betty Crocker cook book my mother had when she was alive. Tonight, though, I decided to try my hand at making a puff pastry dessert called the Napoleon. A Napoleon is a simple thing, really. Just follow the directions on the Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Sheets™ and fill the layers with anything you want. It is much like making a parfait.
I made Napoleon Bananapartes...pardon the pun.

Recipe:

1 box puff pastry sheets, thawed to room temperature unfolded and baked as two square puffs on separate, foil-lined cookie sheets.
2 boxes of instant vanilla pudding
4 cups of light cream
6 small bananas, just ripe, but firm
1 jar of Nutella, microwaved for 30 second intervals, until you can pour it.
1 tub of Dream Whip or other non dairy topping

Bake puff pastry in a 375 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack. And prepare filling.
Mix light cream into pudding mix and stir til thick, add sliced bananas and refridgerate for 15 minutes.

Slice open puff pastry at the point the top rises from the rest of the pastry. There will be a nice line you can use as a guide. You will be cutting it open horizontally.
Fill each half with the bananas and pudding mixture and drizzle with warm Nutella. Fold over the top of one pastry and layer a nice thick amount of the non dairy whipped topping. Add the other filled pastry, and drizzle Nutella over the top.
Easy!

But we were having a large gathering of hungry family members and assorted boyfriends, so a Napoleon Bananaparte would hardly feed our crowd...which is why Lisa made the Strawberry Shortcakes.

I could give you a recipe, but this is one of those things that is done all the time, almost with the first strawberries of the season, so I won't post any recipe for that here.

And just so you don't fret about my well-being, and how I slaved, and I alone, all day, over a hot stove, let me assure you, I did mostly prepwork for the menfolk:
However, I did a whizbang job on the baked beans:


I took Bush's Baked Beans and improved them massively with an additional can of Bushes Black Beans. But first, I fried off a pound of bacon ends, which sell for much less than sliced bacon, and you are guaranteed to get nice hammy chunks in a pound of bacon ends. Just fry til they are crispy, drain almost all the fat off, save about 4 tablespoons and add onions. Fry the onions, and other vegetables, like jalapeños, if you would like, or bell peppers. I just did the onions. Add the cans of beans, and squirt in a good amount of ketchup...No measuring....just taste. A large heaping spoon or two of good mustard. I used a spicy brown, but you can use anything you like. Add a healthy couple of dashes of cumin, and a cup of brown sugar that has been laced heavily with cayenne pepper. Cook over low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
And basically, that was the sum of my work! Here is what the hubster did:


Grilled Salmon


Grilled Steak (Rib-eyes, what else!)


Grilled Egg Plant (one of five things you must eat before you die!)
This is one of the most delicious ways to eat egg plant. I love the meltaway taste. You simply cut them at about 1/3 to 1/2 of an inch thick, season with a marinade of your choice, or with oil and salt and pepper. We used a tomato basil marinade mix. Be sure to let them brown fully, and don't move them too early, they will turn to mush. Let them get a nice brown skin on them, and then they melt in your mouth.


Grilled Pork-Chops (Courtesy of my brother)


Grilled Chicken

It is best to par-cook fatty pieces of chicken in the oven before taking them to the grill. This way, most of the fat cooks out and doesn't cause charring flame-ups, which, in spite of whatever anyone says, ruins the taste of the meat. Burnt is not tasty. But you know that! So cook legs and thighs for about a half hour in the oven before finishing them on the grill. You will get moist, fully cooked dark meat pieces, and you won't have nasty tasting burnt chicken.


And let us not forget the beautiful corn on the cob, which, thanks to warm weather being somewhere, grows all year round, practically. Unfortunately, corn is becoming difficult to buy because now our cars and SUVs have found out just how yummy corn is!

So this is what our picnic consisted of. My husband wanted to grill every kind of thing: fish, fowl, beast of burden and vile unclean haram thing. Who am I to argue! We surrounded the table, heavy with the day's bounty bowed our heads and gave God thanks, and thanks for our young men and women and for our old men and women who have served in our military past and present. The older daughters brought their boyfriends, who were happy to say grace with us, too.
We are truly blessed and fortunate, that there are those who are willing to sacrifice their time, their own freedom, their very lives for so many who are unwilling to be thankful.
I suppose it is their right, the hippies, that is, to not have to be grateful to better people, but that is just the way it is. In that vein, I present a Memorial Day Tribute from Comedy Central.


Mock zem, Mock zem All!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

For Elmo


While yapping with the homies in Ferkaktaville, I came across this website, and I so fell in like with it that I sought to leave a comment, but, alas, my html abilities suck heinously, so I posted the pup, instead. Sorry Elmo. This is probably annoying for you, but, more annoying still, is this guy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What do you suppose the high school mascot is of Shitterton, England?

This is a re-post from 3/21/07. Not especially safe for work or hot liquids...just sayin'.

The Scullery Maid by Giuseppe Maria Crespi

Annie @ Discarded Lies asked the following question: "Is a British accent all you need to succeed in America?" Well, in the words of Twin Number 2, "Hell to the Yeah!"

I know this how? Not because I am British, by no means. I know this because I pretended to be British in order to get a job, a job I got by lying
about everything else through my crooked British-looking teeth, too.

I wasn't always a good liar, since I only lied in order to get out of trouble and pin the blame on my brother. I wasn't very good at it, and I always felt a tinge of remorse....especially if my dad's belt came off and did some harsh asswhoopage. I hope you can forgive me for those times, dear brother. I know I have already gotten over it.

Anyway, back to "How I Became a Fab Success by Lying While Using a British Accent, and How you can, too!"

CHAPTER 1

I was unemployed and apparently, unemployable...at least in the town of Berwick, Pennsylvania.

Although I had worked in the news business for many years, no newspaper wanted to hire me. (They usually hire from within the paper.)
And my abilities as a librarian got me nowhere with the local librarian, who, though desperately needing another librarian, didn't want to pay what I'd made in Lancaster as a newspaper librarian.

So I looked beyond my ken, and applied at restaurants, where no one wanted to hire me because they were always concerned that once a position opened up at the library, I would quit and go there to work.

The grocery stores gave me the same reasons.

Desperate, I decided that the only way to get a job was to lie about my credentials. So I made my mind up to lie.

Number One Rule about Lying to get a job: Lie about everything. I mean EVERYTHING! Make sure that the people you create as references are people you have known a long time, and give fake phone numbers, but make sure it's really long distance, like from England or France, or Morocco, if you want to make sure they won't ever call....and make sure your references are dead, too. I prefer dead references who have died in hideous manners. Suicides aren't necessarily a good idea, but make sure you add in the margins: "Investigators say the explosion was an accident."

Oh, and make sure that the job experience you make up is in relation to the job you are looking for. Which means, if you are applying for a lawyer job or a brain surgeon job...make sure you give yourself lots and lots of brain surgeon or lawyer experience. That way, the prospective boss will really be impressed. And always say that you learn new things quickly.

At this point, I wanted to close the deal, because the personnel director was clearly impressed with me and when she called me in for the interview, I thought to myself, while still out in the lobby waiting, "how do I make sure I get this job, and not these other skanks who are probably better trained than me?"

Answer: English Accent. Boo-Yeah!

As the future boss was looking over my creds and shaking her head with awe at the fact that I had been so well-traveled, she asked me some pointless thing about my childhood...and then, POP, out it came, the Britishest accent you ever did hear!

Well, needless to say, she was REALLY interested in getting me started right away.
She took me to where I would be working, and introduced me to my new work mates, who were duly impressed with me, because of my Acme™ British Accent, including the German lady, who said, "Oh, I Lufffffff Enklant! I used to liffff in Enklant Zvanzik Yearsss! Vayre Vere you born in Enklant?"

Damn, I hadn't thought about that question. Because my birth certificate says Kansas City, MO, and well, I was going to say that I was accidentally born there, yet British all the way, in spite of my mother's botching it. But I didn't say that, because that would have actually sounded plausible. So I said the following:

"Well, I was born in a rather small and insignificant town, you probably never heard of." (Think dammit. THINK!!!! Something. ANYTHING. MAKE. IT. UP!")

So I did, remembering that English towns are often combinations of ridiculous-sounding words and syllables, like Primbole on Sackwhuthers....and thus I created the small village of Twatsworth. You know, Twatsworth? It straddles the river Bumsuckle?

And that is where I became from: Twatsworth-Upon-Bumsuckle.

Fräulein's blank stare didn't bode well, but luckily, the rest of the staff members were American, so they believed me.

(FYI: I decided, when I went home from work, that Twatsworth-Upon-Bumsuckle was given this name after Henry the VIII came looking for a good wench with whom he could sire a manchild, and seeing only a few cows and inbred farmers around, he proclaimed that there was nary a twatsworth to be had in this Godforsaken land, and that's how our town came into being...just in case it ever came up.)

So now I had a point of origin. As I began my on the job training, I vowed to tell one new outrageous lie after another, every day of the week. I was going to be the best damn dishwasher they EVER had.

Tomorrow: CHAPTER 2 In which I was married to an African Prince (NSFW alert)

This time...I promise to publish it. Last time, I had a hard time reckoning with some of the more entertainingly lurid lies I told. I don't know if it's because I regret telling them, or because when I did tell them, I made the waitresses laugh so hard that one of them ended up peeing herself.

Naaaah. That can't be it.

Horrors! The Italians are Changing the School Menus!

Via Gates of Vienna:

(Rachel, reenacting the expressions of immigrant students in Italy when they found out that Yak curds and goat entrails were taken off the menu and replaced with local Italian and Mediterranean cuisine)

It appears that the fartlings are not going to be happy with the new Italian government and its lackeys all around Italy. First, they tear down a mosque in Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet fame, and then name the rubble after Oriana Fallaci. Can it get ever so better than this? What jingoists! What succulent, eggplant parmigiana jingoism! Oh, you should have seen the eggplant parmigiana I made the other night. Sweet heaven on a platter.

Yes, it looked something like this, but I prepped it differently. I made a marinade of herbs, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, dijon, and some garlic and other savory things. I poured part of a jarred pasta sauce into the bottom of the pan and layered my eggplant. I then brushed on the marinade and baked it in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. When the eggplant had browned sufficiently, I added the ricotta cheese mix.

1 8 0z tub of ricotta cheese
3 tbsp of my homemade marinade...leftover from brushing on the eggplant slices
1 bag of asiago/parmesan shredded cheese
1 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese (the dry stuff)
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
Mix all ingredients well, and midway through cooking, spoon over sliced eggplant. Bake another 15 minutes until bubbly golden brown. Serve with pasta, or in our case: With Cannellini Beans and Sun-Dried tomatoes!

This is one of the hubster's favorite side dishes. This is great, because you can add other things, like sausage or bacon, or you can make a curry out of it. It is even great as a White Bean salad.
I just rinsed the beans, sautéed them in a bit of bacon fat, and added sliced sun-dried tomatoes, Italian herb seasoning and some parmesan cheese. Blessed goodness. And bread. We had a nice crusty Italian bread to go with all this goodness.

Unfortunately when Rachel saw the dinner she was about to have, was SHE unhappy!

She fixed herself some ramen noodles and thus did not starve to death. If it had been me, my mother would have let me starve to death, which I did on numerous occasions when we had liver and ketchup and fishsticks and ketchup or her baked beans...mixed with ketchup AND mustard Please don't make me use ketchup anymore. I don't even use it on fries.

She picked out dinner, last night. Chicken, mac'n'cheese and peas. Sometimes, its the simple things in life that give us so many pleasures.

Monday, May 19, 2008

THIS is why I love Italy so much!

The late, great Oriana Fallaci. The last Ballsiest Woman in Journalism.

I love the Italian language. I love Italian culture. Italian wine, and food, and music and movies and books....and Oriana Fallaci. I have loved her since I read "The Rage and the Pride" in 2001.
I have reveled in her Italian flavored English diatribes and always held out hope that for Europe, the hope may lie in Italy and Denmark. I am not disappointed with the news. First in Italian. And how I savor this in Italian:

Piazza Oriana Fallaci al posto della moschee

VERONA - Addio moschea. Al suo posto, piazza Oriana Fallaci. è la decisione della giunta di Oppeano (Verona), dove ieri mattina le ruspe hanno abbattuto un edificio usato dai musulmani della zona come luogo di preghiera, al posto del quale il Comune realizzerà una piazza intitolata proprio alla scrittrice che, con «Rabbia e orgoglio», aveva promosso una campagna molto aspra nei confronti dell' Islam. La decisione di radere al suolo la struttura, aperta dalla onlus «Per il successo dei musulmani», era stata presa dall' amministrazione municipale che aveva acquistato l' area per 70 mila euro allo scopo di trasformarla in uno spazio aperto per parcheggi e zone verdi. «I miei cittadini non volevano che ci fosse questo insediamento - ha spiegato il sindaco Alessandro Montagnoli, neodeputato della Lega Nord - soprattutto perché poteva creare problemi di viabilità e di convivenza con i residenti».

But at Gates of Vienna, Gaia has mercifully translated this into the more inferior English:

Oriana Fallaci Square in place of the mosque

VERONA — Goodbye mosque. In its place, Oriana Fallaci Square.

This decision was taken by the committee of Oppeano (Verona), where yesterday morning a building used by Muslims for prayer was bulldozed. In its place, the Municipality will create a public square named after the writer of The Rage and the Pride, which promoted a bitter campaign against Islam.
The decision to raze the structure which had been opened by ONLUS [translator’s note: Organizzazione Non Lucrativa di Utilita’ Sociale, a non-profit registered Italian charity] “For the success of Muslims”, was taken by the municipal administration, which acquired the area for €70,000 in order to transform it into an open area for parking and green space.

“My citizens did not want this takeover,” explained the mayor, Alessandro Montagnoli, deputy of the Lega Nord, “above all because it could create problems of practicability and cohabitation with the residents.”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No. Really? Do you think the Muslims will be happy with the residents NOW? We need a big Italian equivalent to a pig roast to be held in the Piazza.

Somewhere, Oriana is smiling.


In Memoria di Oriana Fallaci


Perhaps that was too milquetoast for La Fallaci: Maybe this is a better description:

I'm thinkin' boo yeah!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Night Haramfest for May 17th, 2008

Boeuf Bourguignon avec une tarte de pommes.....pardon my French. That is dinner.
I joined the Foodie Blogroll, as you can see on the right. Getting to know my new neighbors and like-minded bloggers, and this morning, not sure about what to make for a special dinner, since College Girl is flying in from Kansas City. She wanted home made tamales, which is one of the things I really want to make before I die, but having never made it before, I told the kid to pick something else. Well, kids don't know much, so it is always up to the parental units to figure things out. So a-surfing I will go. And where should I go, but to Brisbane! Yes, I went, in the blink of an eye to Australia and immediately read one of the best descriptions of Beef Burgundy, ever! Served with rice, instead of potatoes. And for dessert, a lovely apple crostata. Aaah. The kid will be happy.

4 shanks of beef, dredged in flour
Large Spanish onion or 1 bag of frozen peeled pearl onions
1 bottle of Pinot Noir, not expensive, but a good wine you would drink
16 oz. white mushrooms, cleaned
1 14 oz can of beef broth (or consommé, which I prefer for the intensity of beefy flavor)
a bouquet garni of thyme, rosemary, marjoram and parsely.
Salt and pepper

Sauté shanks a few at a time in butter or oil, and after browning, remove. Add wine, broth or consommé and stir the fond off the bottom of the pan. Add back the beef, and add mushrooms and onions and bouquet garni. Cover pot with a tightfitting lid. Braise on a very low temperature, and skim the scum as it rises. Cook over a very low temperature for 2 to 3 hours, skimming any scum that comes to the top.
After cooking the beef, remove to a plate and cover with foil. Remove mushrooms, onions and bouquet garni. Begin to reduce the liquid by raising the temperature. As the liquid reduces, it will thicken. In the meantime, there are few things you can do to add flavor to the sauce. One of the things I like to do is to mix 2 tbspns butter with the same amount of Wondra flour, and add a little to the simmering reduction. Turn the heat down low. This will make for a satiny silky gravy. Lump free as well. You don't always need a slurry to make a gravy. Also, add just a teaspoon or so of Dijon mustard or horseradish for added flavor.
The rice is a simple recipe: 3 parts rice to 4 parts water. If you use a steamer, it is easier, and foolproof cooking. But here is the recipe if you have no steamer: Bring water to a boil and add rice. Stir constantly for 5 minutes and put the burner at the lowest setting and cover. After 20 minutes, turn off the heat. stir in two tablespoons of butter, some fresh parsely, salt and pepper.


The good thing about the crostata is that you can just fold over the pie crust, so there is no waste. I will use either golden delicious or honey crisp apples. Some apple crostatas have nuts in them, but I am putting dried cranberries in it.

2 lbs. apples, sliced
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 stick of butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup of flour
scant 1/4 cup of water
pinch of salt
dash of cinnamon

Toss apples with water, butter bits, flour, cranberries, salt and cinnamon.

Use either a roll out pie crust, which can be purchased in the refridgerated biscuit aisle, or make a recipe that you trust. Pie crusts are touchy things. Either you know how to make it and have a recipe that you always use, or you don't, and don't even know where to start. The best place to look for a good recipe is always, nowadays, the internet. Here is a good recipe. Keep in mind, that ambient temperature, humidity and temperment of the baker affects the outcome of the dough.

Pour apple mixture into center of crust and fold sides up over the top. There will be a nice window for the apples to peek out and taunt you while they bake.

Bake at 375, til apples are bubbly and crust is golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Now here is a good juxtaposition to go with din-din: Sultry, sexy Diana Krall singing Bésame Mucho, with lots of hunky manshots of Andy Garcia. Sigh. I. MUST. Resist. The Urge. To.
Touch. Myself......Inappropriately. I need a mid-life crisis. Sigh.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Painting by Marc Chagall

Happy Mother's Day to all me Ladies everywhere! And such a good Mother's Day it's been for me, too! Today, my youngest presented me potted flowers that will thrive in spite of brown thumbs like mom, here, and the eldest gave me a pair of Michel M. leather sandals. Oh. So. Comfy! And a phone call from my younger sister in Kansas City.

When I was 6 and my sister was 5, my mother was quite ill, and hospitalized. Our aunt took us to the drug store, where we bought some sort of kitschy things for mother. My sister bought her a porcelain swan with a pincushion in its back. I bought mom a matching porcelain swan ash tray, and it swelled my young heart with pride to see her crushing her butts out in my swan. Ah, memories, the sweet liquor of life, ne? After my mother died when I was 8, my father got a mother's day card and a father's day card (with a new ashtray). So this year, I got a call from little sister, telling me what Dad was up to on this, his special day as "Mom".


Dad is in the hospital......visiting Clark Terry, who is one of the last of the Great Jazz Giants. Listen to him doing "Mumbles". Clark was in Kansas City to perform with the Kansas City Youth Jazz, headed by my brother-in-law, Greg Richter. He didn't get to do that performance, because of a 96% heart blockage. Doctors removed it and inserted a stent. He is going to be released sometime later, this week. Hopefully. So keep your fingers crossed, and wish him well.



Dad and Greg hauled their keyboards down to Clark's hospital room to buoy the man's spirits and my sister talked to Clark, himself. I wish I could be there with them all. One of the unfortunate things about Lancaster County, is that while it has a good number of jazz players, Philly is where you want to be if you want to hear good live jazz.


At least the Berks County Jazz Festival is right down the road a piece.


Have an extra serving from another Kansas City Jazz Great....you've been good, you deserve it.

Well, England is off the list of places to visit



We have friends who live part of the year in London. They rave about it all the time. They love the fact that Europe is not much further beyond, and they visit Italy often. I envy them for that. They are quite wealthy, and thus are able to live in relative safety. That is usually how it is with the wealthy. If violent crime appears at all in their neighborhoods, then it is random or familial in some way. At any rate, they are protected from kind of victimization that people like Paul Ray are not.

Paul Ray, who blogs as Lionheart, is a native Briton, a former drug addict and Christian convert. He has helped his community by reporting on Pakistani drug traffickers and has also faithfully reported on the deterioration of the country he loves so much. As a thank you for his civic duty and patriotic efforts, he was threatened first by the dealers, and then...the police?! Yes, those same brave coppers that were mau-maued in the above video, those excessively polite and understanding bobbies whose sole job it seems is to keep its raucous angry and radicalized Muslim population from exploding. They do it by silencing those who would criticize or report crimes committed by Mulims, as Mr. Ray had done.

Read his blog for the details, but I would like to also mention a young man in passing, named Dominic, who died in a traffic accident. Here is his story about Law & Order in the British Isles:
I am printing the exact story as he told it on a thread at Jihad Watch.
Hugh Fitzgerald posted this reminder of what Dominic had said.

Several hundred postings by Dominic can be found at this site by googling "Posted by necessitasnonhabetlegem." A few others can be added by googling "Posted by dominic" or "Posted by Dominic."

Here is one, from December, not about the theory of Islam, but about the practice, as he, an Infidel, was merely taking the Tube, and that recent experience may have soured him on that form of transportation:

"I could not agree more with your last post if I tried. Yes, of course, moslems are an alien body in our midst. Every day in London - on the tube, in shops, in parks, whilst shopping, whilst going about the 101 tasks that make up an average life - this is borne in on me.

In London today moslems dress differently, are rude to locals, jump queues, shout at us, wave their fists at us, call us 'worthless infidel' in public and in loud voices. I have, just four days ago, been elbowed aside by a moslem couple, with sidekicks, whilst trying to top up my Oyster card at a tube station at the automatic machine. Apparently, I had taken longer than the ten seconds that they were prepared to wait and so three burly males forced me aside and, when I objected, pushed me to the floor and - quite literally - and took over the machine which I was attempting to use.

Not, in a crowded and impatient city like London that this was a surprise, but that in this instance that I was insulted by these people was a surprise. The eldest male in the group, dressed in the usual and ridiculous garb of mohammedans everywhere, looked directly at me amd said, in quite clear English, (and I quote verbatim) "Get out of our way infidel slave".

You may imagine how I felt at that moment. To be so insulted in my own capital city was stunning. It took all my self-control not to do something rash at that moment.

Knowing that CCTV cameras would have captured this incident I complained, some three hours later (after having completed my journey and return), to the British Transport Police on the Broadway. I need not have bothered. Not only would no-one there take my complaint of 'technical assault and insult' seriously but no-one to whom I spoke was even prepared to initiate any paperwork whatsoever nor were they remotely prepared to find and look at the video recordings. Indeed, one Officer even said to me that I 'should swallow my pride' and live with it because - and, once again, I quote verbatim 'you are just being racist and you have to remember that it's cultural with them'.

Obviously, at this point, I indicated that I felt that I had been physically assaulted and that I would really like to have my complaint investigated. Well, this is really where everything about that evening begins to stick in my craw. When I said that, the Officer of the BTP who was listening to me actually cautioned me and warned me that if I persisted with making a nuisance of myself I would be charged under the The Race Relations Act 1976 and the RRAA (Race Relations (Amendment) Act) 2000.

I gave up at this point. Cowardice is sometimes the better part of valour. But, damn it, they won, didn't they? I have been intimidated into a dhimmi position by them and the very powers which should have protected me in my own country.

"Happy New Year everyone", I say in a bitter tone of voice.

Dominic.

So this is where the good people of Britain are at this point in time. It is a shame that they have been shamed and cowed into such servile submission. Of course, they wouldn't see it this way, but how else can you see it? And Paul Ray continues to face prosecution of the very act mentioned above. For telling the truth. How long will it be before we face the same Thought Crimes Laws? I hope we never have to find out.
Vigilance.


Friday, May 9, 2008

This is a Test of the Mussorgsky Network





I will see if this works, and if it does, I shall be doing it alot.
Update: Well, that didn't work at all!

Still, I promised some Mussorgsky, and here it is:


There are other parts to this piece of music. Just click through the menu.

Friday Night Haramfest for May 9th, 2008



Comfort Food for yet another rainy weekend in Lancaster County.

Meatloaf is one of those dishes you want to change around and amp up once in a great whiile. Most children hate meatloaf, but I quit trying to make them eat it a long time ago. They manage to survive these cold nights of self-induced starvation, thanks in large part to cold cereal, and still it gives me pleasure to watch them sulk while the old man and I indulge our adult tastes.
So tonight it is Meatloaf Wellington, which is a meatloaf, layered with mushrooms and onions and stuffed into a puff-pastry.

There are two parts to this dinner. Baking the meatloaf first, which should be done earlier, and then the prepping of the mushrooms and onions, and finally wrapping a store bought puff pastry around it and baking it again. Sigh. Don't you kids just wish your taste buds were as sophisticated as your ma and pa's are?

So, let's get started:

Ingredients:

2 lbs. ground beef (80%/20% ratio)
1 can French Onion soup, undiluted
2 slices of bread or else 1 cup of bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce or good steak sauce
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp Dijon mustard or horseradish
1 lb. bacon, cooked and then crumbled
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg + water, for egg wash
1 large yellow or Spanish onion
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
bacon fat or butter for sautéeing

Whisk onion soup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and eggs together. Add breadcrumbs and mix. Add ground beef and crumbled bacon pieces and form into a nice loaf.
Bake for about 45 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Remove to a rack and let cool.
Meanwhile, sauté onions and mushrooms and thyme in some bacon fat or butter until they are completely caramelized. Add a dollop of steak sauce or cognac if you would like, and cook until liquid is rendered out.

After meatloaf has cooled for about 15 minutes, you can begin rolling out the pastry, until it is long and wide enough to cover the meatloaf.
Put some of the mushroom and onion mix in the middle of the pastry and place the meatloaf on the top. place the rest of the mushrooms and onions over the top and sides of the loaf, and then fold pastry over the top of the loaf. Pinch seams to get a good seal and place seams side down on a parchment lined cookie pan. Brush egg wash over the whole schmegiggle.
Bake at 400 degrees for twenty minutes, until it is a lovely golden brown. Serve with a nice brown gravy...and go ahead, use the packets.

I am making mashed potatoes...and I have a myriad of recipes, but the long and short of it is Russets. Use baking potatoes for very light heavenly potatoes. A stick of butter and half and half and a dash of salt, pepper an nutmeg make for incredibly light, float up to your mouth taters. And finally, the husman's favorite: Steamed spinach. Yes, it's Friday night, the most sacred night for eating out or having a pizza delivered, but I am feeling a tad ambitious, so it's this. And if the kids don't like it too bad.

You think I am heartless and mean? Do you have kids? Do you not remember the endless, relentless demands to read YET AGAIN Dr. Seuss' insanity inducing books? How many times can a parent read the Cat in the Hat, or worse, Green Eggs and Ham....where virtually Every Single Line is Repeated on the NEXT PAGE IN ADDITION TO THE NEW LINE?

Not to belabor the point, but kids can drain the creativity right out of you. Eating something good that the tykes usually turn their snot-filled noses up at is fine on Fridays as far as I am concerned. Let Them Eat Twinkies.

I am not the only parent who feels this way, obviously.


Heh!

Monday, May 5, 2008

In a Lovely Jam


Rafal Blechacz

Tonight's piece is Chopin's Waltz in C Sharp Minor

The competitors are Rafal Blechacz and Vladimir Horowitz, and if you can endure the minute and a half of thunderous applause for Rafal, your patience will be duly rewarded. Notice the difference in the two styles of playing. I grew up with Horowitz' version being the epitome of how this waltz should sound, yet Blechacz makes it sound so bittersweet and mysterious, fitting for our jam session!


Vladimir Horowitz at the White House...back in the day.




The pregnant vixen with the craving for sour patch gummy worms left me a large bunch of fresh but equally sour rhubarb. My quest: to make the offsprings and the man who helped me spawn them like Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam. Not an easy task, since the man of the house hates strawberry rhubarb pie. But I am determined, so.....after researching the intarwebs, I have discovered the recipe that might succeed where no one else has failed. For lack of trying.

INGREDIENTS
5 or 6 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
2 cups white sugar
1 bag of frozen strawberries
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin


DIRECTIONS
In a large saucepan or stockpot, stir together the fresh rhubarb and sugar. Cover, and let stand overnight.
Bring the rhubarb and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Boil, stirring constantly, for 12 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat, and stir in dry gelatin mix. Transfer to sterile jars set in boiling water, put the lids on, boil for ten minutes, turn off heat, let cool, and refrigerate. You may get anywhere from 4 large jars to maybe 6 smaller ones.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Haram vs Halal in American Restaurants: The Tasty Jihad!


Endangered Specious.....Keep fighting the good fight, fellas!

I love pork. Most folks love pork. Most cultures but for a few regard pork as a delicacy. I can respect the orthodox, kosher-observant Jew, however, who doesn't want a spare rib waved under his nose. I can even respect the halal Muslim who doesn't want a ham sandwich eaten 2 inches from his face. It's just crude and piglike to do such things. What it also means is that we must give and take, in regards to other cultures....to a point. I can accept dietary restrictions that Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Vegans have placed upon themselves, and I can even respect that. What I can't respect is a busybody. I have no patience with the Food Police, who have managed to ruin popcorn at the movies, and thus, by extension...THE MOVIE itself, french fries, peanut butter samwiches, and just about everything I want to put into my mouth...Especially pork products. Ahhh, and forgive the pun...and here's the rub: Chicken.
That's right. Chicken.
Fried chicken to be exact. My husband and I used to go on dates to Church's Fried Chicken in Billings, Montana, where we had a turgid 18 month workplace romance, including some shackage without benefits of a license, followed by 25 years of sendentary basic marital bliss, with small glitches, mostly weather or automobile-related. At this point we are not even considering a trial separation, unless you believe that separating your grown kids out of the nest is trial-like.
But, as usual, I digress. At this moment, there is a war over pork going on. There isn't much reporting about it, since it doesn't have anything to do with Natalie Holloway or Britany Spears, but it should concern you, since it is about the jihad against pork consumption, or pig displays, or sculptures. Overall, a kind of purging of pork from the mouth and the mind. It isn't a loud campaign. No. That would draw attention to the sinister meddlesome bastards at work in this country. One fine, upstanding Texan, will not have any of it.
I have no solution to fix this problem of busybodies. Only ridicule. Lots and lots of mirthful derision and mockery. And recipes. Lots of pork saturated recipes. With or without Jell-O for dessert.

Oh hey! I forgot! We have a new super hero....Thanks, Bosch.

... And for Haid, who is suffering from a case of vengeful winter ennui:
a little Pork Pie Hat Farewell to Winter!