Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Piano Christmas





Gabriel Faure

Yet more Link Presents under my cyber tree. From Always On Watch:

All those years without a piano in the house!

People who don’t make music
In the touching of black and white keys
Allow others to make music for them and
Never know the same joy.This year,
Our house hears my music!

Christmas carols — the traditional ones — ring out.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, my favorite carol of all,
Reverberates and uplifts the soul.
I shouldn’t have waited so long to make the
Songs my own once again.
Too many chairs are empty now:
Mom, Dad, grandparents, cousins,
Aunts, uncles, friends — gone. But I coax the keys to
Sing, the circle made whole again in Christ Child timbre.



Go read it there, she does way better with her fonts than I. And she has an intoxicating playlist of Christmas carols....stay for an hour or so. You can almost smell the apple cider mulling there.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Come Sunday


Come Sunday - Duke Ellington And His Orchestra Feat. Mahalia Jackson

H/T One Cosmos

While traipsing all across the Blogalaxy, I landed on Planet American Digest




and saw Gagdad Bob hanging out. It's Christmastime, and everybody's favorite presents are shiny, pretty links, which are only slightly less popular than filthy lucre, gift cards, and a KitchenAid Stand Mixer for yours, very truly, Jau jau, here...heh.

Drat, I just remembered the maxim for 2009. Never mind.

Here are the words, appropriate for both Hanukkah and Christmas. By the way, these lyrics, as she sang them, are most difficult to find on the intertubes, so I wrote them down. Feel free to copy them for reference.

Lord, dear Lord of love, God almighty,
God up above, Please look down and see my people through.
Lord, dear Lord of love, God almighty,
God above, Please look down and see my people through.
I believe the sun and moon will shine up in the sky.
When the day is gray I know it's just clouds passing by.
He'll give peace and comfort to every troubled mind,
Come Sunday, oh Come Sunday. That's the day.
Often we'll feel weary, but He knows our every care
Go to Him in secret, He will hear your every prayer.
Lilies of the valley, they neither toil nor spin
And flowers bloom and spring and birds sing
Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
Often we'll feel weary, but He knows our every care
Go to Him in secret, He will hear your every prayer.
Up from dawn til sunset, men work hard all the day.
Come Sunday, oh, Come Sunday. That's the day.
Lord, dear Lord above, God almighty,
God of love, Please look down and see my people through.
Lord, dear Lord above, God almighty,
God of love, Please look down and see my people through.


And under my cyber tree, behold, what do I find but this beautimus link! Aah, the soul-nourishing things such lovely minds pour out into the blogosphere these days! You know they're gonna pass a law against it, probably sooner, rather than later. We are in the age of Ugliness Ascending. Enjoy your freedom for now. The Dawning of the Age of the Troll Kingdom is upon us.

And not to forget that it is now Hanukkah, here is a menorah that would be a nice edition in my home, if I had room, which I don't. Thanks to floranista @ Discarded Lies for sharing the image.

This is one of my favorite link presents:



If you think that Hanukkah is all about 8 days of eating, dreideling, and lighting the pretty candlestick, well, just to remind you what it's all about.

So to all my best Jews out there - Merry Lights! And the next time 'Antiochus' - whoever that may be, this time, orders you all to bow down and sacrifice at the altar of the false idol named, "Peace".....be as prepared as a a Maccabee to say "Up yours!" cuz they're coming for the Saturday folk, first, and then, come Sunday....for the rest of us folk.

One more pretty little Christmas present for y'all:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holidazed



We went to the youngun's school Christmas program last night. I think it had to be one of the most depressing Christmas programs I'd ever been to. The first song, 'Snowplow', consisted of the 5th and 6th grade Strings Orchestra sawing back and forth between two whole notes in the low register...occasionally adding variety by adding a minor third here and there, setting the tone of morbidity that was the theme of the concert, for the most part.

Actually, the string orchestra was pretty good, pitting the cellists playing 'Christmas is coming, the Goose is getting fat', vs. the violins and violas playing 'Deck the Halls'. Together, while not as sublime as Your Chocolate in My Peanut Butter, it was pleasant and clever enough to make me stick around.

Next came the band. Cacophonous din would be the polite thing to say, or more accurately, the accurate thing to say. I guess there just isn't enough soul-stirring Hannukkah music out there to capture the imagination. One of the flutists was out of tune, which wouldn't have been too bad if she didn't have the same note to play repeatedly. Perhaps, the composer, knowing that such flutists would be in abundance, composed the 1 note flute section for that very reason.
Next came the choir, which was actually pretty good. There was a Hebrew song, executed quite well called 'Hanerot Halalu'....which sounded more like BadaBing BadaBoom.

At least there were no recorders. My goodness people, how many songs, other than Snowplow and Hot Cross Buns can there be that consist only of three consecutive notes?

Which brings me round to the following insanity:

Vicar Bans O Little Town of Bethlehem

Yes, it's all Israel's fault, of course. Now what would Christmas be without the additional British Jew Hatred? I mean, the Peaceful Followers of the Prophet and his god wouldn't have anything at all to do with the suffering Christians in Bethlehem, now would they? Naw.

Poor dears. Just keep cranking out all those lame-ass Nativity sets for the Liberated Church of the Verklempt and Compassionate Marxists to sell in the narthex. (I'm sure you''ll get a pittance of it after the Council of Churches gets their cut. You're just as easy to exploit for cash and attention as your more rowdy Muslim neighbors are by Pallywood.

Satan Claus is coming to Town!


CHURCH OF ENGLAND SHOULD DISESTABLISH DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST ON THE PART OF APATHETIC AND AGNOSTIC POPULACE

Question for the Archbishop: What happens to you when your existence becomes pointless?
Answer: Why, You Become A Useful idiot and a tool.

In the meantime, let us flee that madness and check upon our little French fabulist, Capucine, to see what she is up to.


"What is it ?" from Capucha on Vimeo.


Pssst: Spoiler Alert! It's a Pooh Bear!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Haramfest is back! Sunday's meal of naughtiness

This will get someone a fatwa, that's for sure. Might as well be someone!



Braised meat is the best kind of cooked meat. Unless it's grilled, and then that's better. Unless it's chicken and then it's either roasted over a fire or deep fried. Then THAT's way better. Just to be perfectly clear.

The holiday funk is passing, and yesterday's sadness, while still in the back of my head, is just that...in the back, and not being able to do anything about it means to live my life as best I can, and now ~ the tree is up, the piano is dusted and bedeckled with our Italian-made nativity vignette. The haramfest for this evening's guests (My brother and his family) is braising away in the oven. And it smells like impending Christmassy eats in here.

Braised Boneless Pork Roast



The key to this roast is the rub:
First, pour a generous amount of toasted sesame oil over the roast with one hand, and using the other hand, rub Kosher salt and cracked peppercorn medley into the meat. Rub generous amounts of either herbes de Provence or Greek seasoning (easily obtained in the spice aisle). If you can't find either, use poultry seasoning, dried oregano and ground cinnamon, followed by sweet paprika. Let rest for a half hour, then sear, fat side down first in a roaster that has a tight-fitting lid. Sear meat on all sides, and add a cup of chicken stock to the pan, followed by 2 cups of spiced apple cider. Place sprigs of thyme, rosemary and sage over the meat. Peel a Clementine, and eat the Clementine. Put the Clementine peel into the roaster. Cover roaster and remove from the stove top. Braise in a 350 degree oven for 2 and 1/2 hours. No peeking. Your patience will be rewarded, I promise.

Mashed Potatoes and Apple Cider/Pork Jus Gravy



7 whole Russets, peeled, washed and cubed. Place in cold, clean water that is one inch above the potatoes, and boil for 20-25 minutes til fork tender, but not disintegrating. Drain. In the same pot, melt one stick of butter, and between 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of milk, half and half or cream, and heat til steaming. Add potatoes and mash with a hand masher. Salt, pepper and a couple of dashes of nutmeg finishes this dish off nicely. Parsley is optional.

Apple Cider makes a delicious gravy.
After pouring off the liquids into a fat separator, I poured the jus through a strainer and thickened it with a cornstarch slurry, which is just a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch mixed in with enough apple cider to liquefy it. Pour into the bubbling jus and whisk until thickened.

Corn Maque Choux


1 12 oz package of frozen corn
6 slices of bacon, crumbled, with melted fat preserved.
1 finely diced onion or shallot
1 finely diced roasted red pepper
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
salt, pepper, thyme.
1 cup light Cream
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheese

This is the first time I made this dish, and what a success it was, ladies!
Cut the bacon into small pieces, fry in a hot skillet until the fat is rendered, and the bacon is crispy. Add diced onions or shallots (you can also use leeks if you want) and saute in the fat.
When the onions are clear and starting to brown, sprinkle the flour over the bacon fat and onions, and whisk til it is mixed well. Add the cream and let the sauce thicken. Season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme leaves. If the sauce is too thick, add some milk to thin it. When it bubbles, add the corn and sweet roasted red peppers. After about 3 minutes, or when the corn is heated through, add about a cup of your favorite shredded cheese. In this case I used a combination of cheddar and pepper jack.
Everyone absolutely loved this dish, so a hail and hearty hat tip to Guy Fieri for making it on his show.

Dessert was a home made Apple crisp:


5 golden delicious apples, unpeeled, cored and diced
1/4 cup cranberry jelly
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 stick of softened butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 packets of maple flavored or cinnamon flavored instant oatmeal
2 heaping tablespoons of self-rising flour
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/4 light brown sugar

In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup with the cranberry jelly. Toss with the diced apples and dried cranberries. In another bowl, cut the softened butter into the brown sugar, flour and oatmeal packets. Mix until crumbly but not coming together like a crust.
Take 2 spoonfuls of the mixture and stir into the apples and pour into a casserole or glass pie plate. Add the walnuts to the rest of the oatmeal mixture and sprinkle it over the apples. Bake on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or pour some egg nog over the loveliness.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pendulum

Silence by John Henry Fuseli

Of late, I haven’t had much to say, and the idea of posting snark and recipes and what I have eaten for dinner seemed boring and redundant, so I laid off the blogging for awhile.

Something has been eating at me, and it strikes me not just in its randomness, but also its connectedness. Maybe a foreboding of things to come in the next year, and a culmination of fears not yet realized.

Don’t get me wrong, I'm no Glenn Beck, but things have been happening around me, and being just barely observant enough to notice, I thought it best to just write something down before I forget and resume a bored state of mind.

Yesterday, Mary’s acquaintance died. She’d only met him once, but she knew him well enough, because he was her girlfriend’s boyfriend, so though he’d only been to our house once with K, it was still heartbreaking to learn that he’d died.

We never met him, but the pebble of a boy’s life suddenly gone radiated its grief beyond the splash point of his existence into ours, and we wept with her over his death. It was easy to do, since we can imagine his parents’ grief, and how easily could that grief be our own, too.

He died, after spending two days in a coma, having killed a 48 year old woman instantly, and injuring another man. I’m certain that he didn’t wake up one morning and say to himself, “I am going to get into my parent’s car, drive really fast, pass others in a no passing zone and cause a head-on collision, today.” No, like all the rest of us in a post-Christian world, he thought, “ I am young, and invincible, and I won’t die. Get out of my way, I‘m late!” He wasn’t prepared at all for the reality beyond his present existence. Neither were his parents. Neither am I, though I think about it continually.

Which makes me think of heaven and hell. While people hope all the villains of time, like Hitler, John Wayne Gacy, Timothy McVeigh and all the 9/11 hijackers are there feasting on their Just Desserts, I wonder if the young man who caused death and injury to himself and others, and brought endless pain and grief and suffering to the survivors is in heaven or hell. Cruel of me to ask, I know, but no one wants to give it a second thought, for it is a taboo of the New Christianity, a perverse and all-pervasive doctrine of instant gratification (blessings) in the here and now, which has been transfixed to the hereafter, as well. Toleration of everyone and all ideas is the new creed Everyone simply assumes that he is in heaven, embraced by God and hearing the words, “Well done, Thou good and faithful servant.” I have my doubts.

As I sit on the edge of this year, 2008 Anno Domini, I feel great heaviness. No serenity now, just a dark, calm sense of waiting for the pendulum, heavy laden with sins and consequences, to come swinging back at high velocity, and the knowledge that nothing I nor anyone else can do, will change the course of that swinging weight. There is no getting out of the way of it.

So I find a kind of refuge in prayer. Not the kind of prayer that asks Santa for a new job for Daddy, or to avoid the uncertainties ahead, but the kind of prayer that would have been prayed by Jesus Christ and St. Francis of Assissi. And for knowing what his will is and not to fret about what will come, but to ultimately hear the words, “The Lord said: Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." – Matthew 25:21