Monday, November 28, 2005

Life Is Just Happening Too Damn Fast!

Well, I see I forgot to post the Cranberry relish - well, I'll do it in time for Christmas, I promise. You will forgive me when you hear my story:

About 6 weeks ago, I picked up the phone and heard somebody ask me if I was the same dks married to an Army officer, who lived in MD in 1984-85 and had a foster child named David. When I assented, the caller told me he was that same David, who had spent years looking for us after we had left the area for a tour in Germany.

That David was a sweet, quiet 16 year-old who had spent most of his life in institutions, had been severely abused by his father to the point of brain damage, been separated from his 3 sisters since he was 5, and was very poorly socialized. He didn't even know how to use a knife and fork when he came to our house from a juvenile detention center. He was with us for 9 months, during which time I despaired of him ever making it in the world outside of institutions. He hated homework, didn't read well, had a hard time with the freedom normal family life brings (but really liked it), and needed 24/7 intervention on the part of school officials, medical people, the legal system, and us. In spite of the difficulties, we became very attached to him, and considered adoption, but knowing we were going to have an overseas assignment, decided he couldn't handle that stress. We managed to locate one of his sisters, though, and flew her from another state to spend holidays with us. That reunion was so poignant.

We lost contact with David, but he spent the next 2 years in a number of placements that were not the best. He ran away from the last institution, and turned 18 "on the lam". He looked for us in a number of cities, hitchiking the West where he thought we might be. He eventually gave up, got some job training and a CDL, met a great girl, started his own tanning business, and married her. He has 3 kids. Guess who we had for Thanksgiving this year?

So this sweet boy, so quiet, so damaged, who I thought would be in prison or a group home somewhere, at best, came to see us, looking for the only good family memories he ever had. We thought we had failed him, but he made the best of whatever he got from us, and has succeeded in life beyond our best hopes. He asked us if we could be a family again, so I went from being a grandmother of 2 to a grandmother of 5 over the Thanksgiving holiday. He was surprised to find he had a baby brother, and happy to see his sister, our daughter (Goddess of Purple) again. Their birthdays are a day apart in November, so we celebrated them together again this year. Our daughter gave him a framed copy of a picture taken on his birthday in 1984 of the two of them together. We gave him a more practical gift of hunting binoculars.

Mr. dks is already tired from running for office, and the election is a year away. Every Saturday brings at least 3 "meet and greets". He found a treasurer last week, an old Army buddy, and his own "Band of Brothers" is forming around him. I don't think he'll be "swift-boated", though, for a little Texas Legislative district campaign. But just in case, Terry, Chad, and some others will be there for him. Goddess of Purple is his communications director, Little Harvard is his volunteer coordinator, The Ned will be organizing block-walking, and I, dks herself, have been named campaign manager. It is going to be a hell of a ride. I was idly wondering last night just how many surprises this campaign will deliver; maybe even winning. Now that would be a mighty change, indeed.

Mmmmm. All those turkey left-overs gone yet? I sent mine home with GoP and the Ned. He doesn't think it has really been Thanksgiving if he doesn't eat turkey for 4 days afterward, so he gets the leftovers. I kept the cranberry relish, and have had it for dessert every night since T-Day.

I hate articles about using left-over turkey. We're supposed to eat turkey sandwiches with them, not make them into all kinds of other stuff like "turkey divan" and "turkey croquettes" or "turkey tetrazzini". All that stuff tastes better with chicken, anyway. But there's nothing like a turkey sandwich with a little chestnut dressing, some mayo, and a schmear of jellied cranberry sauce on sourdough bread.

What are you cooking for dinner tonight?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Let The Games Begin! (with pecan pie)

Well, here I am on the third day of weather cool enough to turn off the A/C since February. Not that we actually keep the A/C on all that time - our Army days have conditioned us into thinking Summer begins officially on June 15, the day the Post Commander says it's OK to use the A/C; and ends on September 15th, when we must turn it off. In my old age, I have extended "summer" from May 1 to Oct 1. No matter that I am a crabby menopausal bitch even with the A/C on - but it's a matter of degree. When I pant, rant and stomp the house saying, "It's so fucking hot", mr. dks mildly observes that we do have A/C, and that he would even go turn it on for me. That just makes me more hormonally freaky. But today, like yesterday and the day before, it is actually cool here in South Texas. The cat wishes to spend her days cuddled up to the dog, kneading her side coat. Madame La Chat gives me malevolent looks, trying to force me to turn on the heat. That we do no earlier than November 30th which is the Duck's birthday. But mr. dks came home from work last night, in the cold dark, and said in his commander's voice, "Turn on the heat, now." See, he got some sort of tropical affliction when he deployed to Panama. He can no longer stand cold weather. Some sort of mild, tropical fever he got down there has the lasting effect of have him shivering in temperatures under 75 degrees, and the docs are stumped by it. That, combined with a very weird skin condition he got in Gulf War I, a 50% hearing loss in his "rifle ear", and about 20 stress fractures in each leg and knees that don't work right, are part of his retirement package from the military - along with this strange difficulty I have using the A/C and the heat unless the calendar (or a general) says I can.

I write about Mr. dks today because he and I have made a momentous decision, a decision so unexpected, so far from what we thought we would be doing at this time in our life together, that we are still dazed. Yes, it's true. Mr. dks will be running for a state representative seat in the Great State of Texas. Tonight a lady is coming to talk about setting up a PAC, folks have started already volunteering to work the campaign, and we just look at ourselves across the dinner table, wondering, "What have we done?" I am trying to get used to the idea of wearing makeup, pantyhose and some kind of dress thing in the heat of the campaign summer. People who know me won't recognize me, which will be good thing, because I feel vaguely ashamed, as if I am wearing a Halloween costume, when I wear makeup.

So, in celebration (?) of a new beginning, I offer you my very best, most-requested dessert recipe - Texan By Injection Pecan Pie:

1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick real butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 beaten eggs

1 unbaked pie crust for a 9" deep dish pie

2-3 cups fresh shelled pecans

Combine first 5 ingredients in a 2 quart pot, and bring it to a rolling boil. After the butter is melted, cook the syrup for about 2-3 more minutes. Cool it to room temperature. (I do this by placing the pot in a bigger pot of ice and stirring until it cools to room temp.) Stir in the vanilla and the beaten eggs.

Put the pecans in the pie crust-lined pie pan, pour in the syrup-egg mixture. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes on the bottom shelf of your oven. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake 30 minutes more. Cool to room temperature before cutting.

Now, you can make this even more nutty by using 2 pie crusts in 2 shallow 9" pie plates, using 2 cups of nuts in each, and dividing the syrup-egg mixture between the two, and baking as directed, except to cut about 5-10 minutes off the final baking. It's OK if the top cracks. It will collapse as it cools and look fine. Done this way, the pies are more like candy in a crust, less like a conventional chess pie.

Oh, BTW, I have won contests with this recipe, even modifying it by adding 1 cup of chocolate chips to the pecans, and 1/4 cup bourbon with the vanilla, and calling it North American Cup Derby Pie in celebration of Little Harvard winning medals at every fencing tournament he fenced in Louisville, Kentucky.

If you use clear glass pie plates, the crust will be best on the bottom, but that's your call. I just really hate soggy beige crust - I like a nice dark crisp bottom crust.

Next week I will post Mawgie's Cranberry Relish. You will need 1 large pkg lemon jello, 2 cups fresh cranberries, an orange, some celery, some pecans and sugar.

The Texan By Injection is yours truly. And watch it be 88 degrees on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Geez, how can any American cook, let alone, eat?

"Is Crucifixion Legal Under Bush And Cheney?

Jane Mayer, who along with Jill Abramson wrote Strange Justice, a definitive account of how Anita Hill was smeared and ridiculed during the Clarence Thomas hearing, has written a searing account of the death of a prisoner in Iraq.

Jamadi’s bruises, [a forensic pathologist who examined the case records] said, were no doubt painful, but they were not life-threatening. Baden went on, “He also had injuries to his ribs. You don’t die from broken ribs. But if he had been hung up in this way [with his hands tied behind him in a painful position known as a "Palestinian Hanging"] and had broken ribs, that’s different.” In his judgment, “asphyxia is what he died from—as in a crucifixion.”

As in a crucifixion. At the hands of Americans. And it may not be against the law anymore"

via Digby.

I mean, I am having a hard time even sleeping at night with this torture shit going on - how am I supposed to plan, let alone, cook and eat Thanksgiving dinner? I think it may be time for bread and water for us until we take our country back so decent, hard-working, right-thinking normal people can feel good about being Americans again.

In our early days as a nation, leaders called for days of prayer and fasting when the country was in a crisis. Perhaps it would be a good thing if our star chefs in America did the same thing? Godde knows, our leaders would never do it; but coming from the likes of Alice Waters, Wofgang Puck, et. al., it might have an impact. They could hold special "soup and bread" fundraisers for lefty causes. Hey! How about "Soup and Bread Impeachment Parties"?

It's just about time, isn't it, to stop playing and indulging ourselves, and fast a little? Fast from not only food, but stuff like movies out, those sexy strappy little red heels we saw in the store window, the fast little silver sport car, that new cool kitchen gadget, the $12.00 pound of pasta and the truffle oil?

No recipe today, sisters and brothers. I can't even think about food today.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Tarte Tatin

Created by impoverished old maid sisters, this is one of France's beloved desserts; and it is truly easy to make. Check it out:

1 9" pie crust

3-4 large, crisp, tart(e!) apples, like Granny Smith
1/2 stick butter
@ 3/4 C sugar

Melt the butter over low heat in a 9-10" skillet with oven-proof handle. Peel and core apples and cut them into 6ths. When butter is melted, put sugar into the pan, and raise the heat to medium, shaking the pan frequently until the sugar begins to caramelize. Remove from heat, place apple slices core side up in the caramelized sugar, tucking them in neatly but tightly. Cover the pan, place the pan back on the medium burner, and cook for about 15 minutes covered. Check frequently for signs the apples are cooked through. Remove the lid, cook apples down until browned where they touch the pan bottom. I like mine quite brown. The caramel will cook down, absorbing the apple juices, to a glistening golden glaze.

Remove from heat, and cool to warm or room temperature. About 30 minutes before serving, cover apples in pan with the pie crust, tucking the crust down around the edge of the pan. Bake in a 400 degree oven until well-browned. Cool very slightly, then invert onto a rimmed (to absorb the juices) cake plate. Serve almost hot. To make it "American", top it with some cinnamon ice cream.

Why cookbooks make this sound so hard and fussy, I'll never figure out. It is easy (no, easier) than, well, pie. I keep rolled-out homemade pie crusts in the freezer in an old Rubbermade cake keeper, separated by plastic wrap, making it a snap to make this dessert on the spur of the moment. Who doesn't have apples around? My only caveat is that you really must use real butter - salted or not, your preference.

Now, legend has it that the Tatin sisters were able to keep the family home and body and soul together by baking and selling these tartes in the Fall and Winter. I just love the image of these two old maiden ladies, picking their apples, chopping the wood for their wood stove, peeling and cutting, sauteeing and tasting, gossiping and fussing, hoping to pay the bills by making these treasures.

This kind of thing still can pay the bills. A friend of mine put her daughter through Texas A&M by making and selling tamales between Hallowe'en and New Year's Day.

Maybe I'll try putting Little Harvard thru Harvard by baking and selling my pecan pies, the recipe which I will give y'all for Christmas (but early enough to make and serve on that day).

Yesterday, November 5th, was 94 degrees in Austin, Texas. It's hard to think of cooking Christmas dinner in this heat.

Godde bless.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Culinary Confessions, Part Deux

Got this idea from LisaSD over at Comfort Food, and I am going to run with it cuz I want to confess:

1. I hate papaya, definitely a Problem in San Antonio
2. I actually pay $3.99 apiece for artichokes
3. I sometimes let dirty dishes stay in the sink for 24 hours before I feel guilty
4. I have some tea in my cupboard that costs $165.00 per pound, and I am afraid to drink it. Little Harvard has no fear and brews it lavishly, and cavalierly throws out the dregs with nary a blink. Shouldn't we be making ice cream, salad dressing, or something from the dregs?
5. I read cookbooks in the bathtub
6. I think food and sex go well together
7. I am altogether too fussy about chocolate
8. I adore Rice Krispie Treats cereal, with milk or without
9. I like Pillsbury box brownie mix
10. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, due to all the food
11. I would like Christmas better if there were less decorating required so I could spend more time cooking
12. Speaking of Christmas, I really like fruitcake

Now, to get to the bitching part of my post today - lookee here for a righteous rant about a righteous rant. I am so mad at the RW Wackos running this country into the ground that I sometimes don't even want to eat, let alone cook. For this I am willing to actually get political. So now you know why I rant so much. I have been robbed of my most intense pleasures because I am too pissed off to think creatively.

Pray for me, and send me a good, simple recipe of something delicious.

Godde love ya.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Now, tell me again why Valerie Plame is so

important? This is why. George Friedman (no relation, I presume, to our little Tommy Friedman who thinks so highly of himself) of Strategic Forecasting, tells us about the very real danger to our country's security of leaking even a name of a CIA employee of the Directorate of Operations, ever. Go ahead, pass it on. George says it's OK.

Now, I made a really good salad dressing for a salad for 45 teachers tonight. It is to go with a mexican food themed dinner. You probably have everything you need right now for Chili-Lime Vinaigrette:

1/2 of a 6oz can frozen limeade
3 T frozen orange juice concentrate (or 2 drops orange oil)
1 packet McCormick Taco Seasoning
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1.5 cups olive oil

Mix well at least 2 hours before serving, shaking very well before dressing the salad.

The salad is of spring greens, very thin onion sliced onions, and segments of seedless oranges cut into chunks. If I were really ambitious, I would caramelize some pecans, but - phhhhht. I'm lazy today.

Monday, October 17, 2005

It all has to do with Texas, sadly.

Now, remind me again of what Tom DeLay has to do with the current price of gas?

Ah,yes. I remember now...

Now a word about that expensive salt I was reluctant to use because it was so expensive. I'm talking about Fleur de Sel or Sel de Guerande. It's one of those artisanal food products that are just so hyped, you want to puke. Then you do something like cook a simple pork roast with it, and you become a true believer.

I had some plain-jane-not-berkshire-or-anything-expensive-like-that pork sirloin roast. I decided to pop it in the oven, but on a whim I dusted it with the aforementioned sel, before I put it on a bed of unpeeled garlic cloves and stuck it in a 400 degree oven to brown. After 20 minutes, I covered the pot, lowered the temp to about 300, and cooked it a little less than 2 more hours. The meat was sublime. I guess I will be making room in my budget for said sel from now on, and not just to put on top of my buttered baguette.

The web site linked to above is really neat. Very clever, very French without being snooty. I think you'll like it.

As an antidote to too much pleasure in life, do check out the first link, though. We will not be able to afford fleur de sel if we don't stop these greedies who, evidently, are unable to stop themselves from impoverishing us middle class types who use our credit cards to buy stuff like fleur de sel, and who keep the engine chugging.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The West Point of Capitalism Rips Grover. Really.

Lookee here for some hope for our captains of industry, Harvard Business School graduates. These guys ripped Grover Norquist a new one in the LTE's to the Harvard B-School alumni magazine, after Grover was interviewed by the magazine. Now, Harvard B-School is called the West Point of Capitalism for a reason, and remember they let W in when the University of Texas Law School wouldn't. His daddy had to get him away from cocaine, so he sent him to-----Massachussetts?????? WTF????? The home of gay marriage, people who actually pick up their dogs' shit, and every other danger known to Our Way of Life? He went to Harvard to get sober, y'all, and give him something sort of constructive to do.

No recipe, we ate out of cans tonight; I am so embarrassed...

More war on the middle class? You tell me.

This worries me. I hope it doesn't turn into another stealth campaign against an already-battered middle class. Talk about your kitchen table issues!

Maybe this recipe for fast, cheap, filling food will become an everyday dinner, instead of an after-Christmas-excess stopgap-til-payday meal. It's still good, though, and good when the nights are cold, and your kids can see their breath when they horse around at the bustop in the morning. The richer you are and the thinner you are, the more bacon you can use in it.

But watch that mortgage interest deduction thing, OK? We are all in this together.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A blast from the past, to eat...

This is going to be a little convoluted, sort of like a Garrison Keilor story, but not so interesting. I sort of doubt that I can connect it all in the end the way he does, but it will ramble like his do.

Mr. dks did a lot of hard work with no sleep for many days when Katrina victims were coming to San Antonio. (Don't worry - he actually likes working in crisis mode. I think it reminds him of his Army days) He called me last week, breathless with excitement, and asked, "Would you like to go on a date next Sunday night? You'll never guess who I got tickets to see! (Dramatic Pause) Neil Diamond!!!!!!. Some foundation donated tickets to people who worked for the Katrina evacuees, and they gave me two!!!!!"

I think my reaction left something to be desired, because he said something like, "Aw, c'mon, you might like it! I love Neil Diamond. I know you don't very much, but the tickets are worth a lot. It won't be too boring, don't you wanna go?". So I said, very lovingly, "OK. If I don't have to get dressed up, and if you don't buy the tee shirt."

So, on Sunday night, we left two hours early for the SBC Center on the east side of San Antonio. It was a good thing we left that early, because evidently there are a lot of people in San Antonio who, like Mr. dks, love Neil Diamond, and the roads to the arena were packed. I was already crabby about having to go see Neil Diamond, but I was getting crabbier by the minute with all the sitting at stop lights, cussing at non-turn-signalers, and traffic fumes. When we arrived, we had to pay $10.00 to park 1/4 mile away! But I kept that loving smile pasted on my face.

We got into the arena after my purse was checked for a camera and my cell phone inspected for the camera feature (like, yeah, I was planning to take picture after picture of Neil Diamond from the 4th row from the roof), and I had steered Mr. dks away from the tee shirts. We made our way to the nosebleed seats (that were priced at $86.00 per, btw) a "Survivor"-like adventure, because we had to climb almost to the roof up stairs as narrow and steep as a Himalayan crevasse. And we sat for an hour, while Mr. dks told me again, a number of times, he really likes Neil Diamond, while I felt as though I were in the Coliseum in Rome, and this was my "circus" part of the Roman ration of bread and circuses, thinking, "This is how they keep us voting for jerks every four years, they hypnotize us with Neil Diamond, WWF, and Nascar." I also endured a number of announcements telling us that "Mr. Diamond will perform for two hours without an intermission, and no one will be seated during the first song." To pass the time we discuss again the fact that Neil Diamond fenced saber for NYU (Little Harvard is a fencer).

OK, so 15 minutes late (remember, we are talking about San Antonio, here), the lights dim, and musicians rise from the bowels of the SBC Center, "Mr. Diamond" appears, and Mr. dks tenses with excitement. The show begins, and I am blasted so far into my past that I have hoarfrost in my hair. I can't think of one song from the past "Mr. Diamond" did not sing Sunday night. I endured. With some grace, actually, even through the patriotic light show during his "America" song.

So this week I am feeling nostalgic, amplified by finding yesterday a packing box of vinyl recordings, including, you guessed it, those of "Mr. Diamond". And stuck (probably with sugar) on the back of one of those Neil Diamond LP covers from the early '80's is a recipe I had been looking for since 1984. It is dated "Halloween, 1983, from Patti Vande Krol", and it is for "Monster Cookies". Now, I had found a few similar recipes over the years, but I wanted that original one, the one on the recipe card with the 5 roosters on it, from Patti Vande Krol. And now, thanks to Mr. dks' love of Neil Diamond, I have it again, and I am going to give it to you. The gift of this recipe does not require that you send me any Neil Diamond CD's in gratitude, it is free:

6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pound brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (yes, teaspoons) corn syrup
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 pound margarine softened (I remember using butter)
2 2/3 cups peanut butter
9 (yes, 9) cups oatmeal
12 ounces chocolate chips
8 ounces M&M candies

Mix in order given. Form into 2 tablespoon-sized balls. Place on greased cookie sheets, and flatten with a sugar-dipped glass. Bake at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until medium brown.

"These stay chewy for weeks if sealed tightly", the recipe says. And, yes, you read correctly, there is no flour in the recipe.

I hate peanut butter cookies, pies, candies - I hate peanut butter in any way other than on whole wheat bread with a little honey; but I remember absolutely adoring these cookies, and I wasn't even pregnant when I ate them. So I can recommend them. But I don't remember how many this recipes makes, I only remember they did not last in my house the 2 times I made them.

Godde bless.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Food for thought....

So much that has been going on makes me tear my hair, I haven't had much time to think, really - just read the news with my mouth agape, shaking my head in disbelief over the ruination of the country.

But I do sees signs of hope this autumn - Goddess of Purple and her posse moved out into their own house. I didn't so much mind them in my house, so much as all their stuff and they just kept bringin' more stuff into my house every day. It was getting harder and harder to pretend to treasure the broken happy meal toy my grandson gave me as a present, or the 267th picture with "I love you" written on it by my granddughter. I mean, the refrigerator was completely covered with art and doctor appointment cards from her. But, they are in their own house which they can bring as much stuff into as they wish. Goddess of Purple is employed and enrolled in a master's program, The Ned is not only employed, but employed with health insurance, and Baby Ned is beginning to actually figure out they expect him to really write his name in kindergarten. I can dust off my hands and move on.

So I am moving on to the Courage for Congress campaign. Our friend, John Courage, is running (again) to unseat Lamar Smith in our 21st Congressional District of Texas. It would be real nice to have a congresscritter that actually represented me and my neighbors rather than the businesses Tom Delay wants represented. So Mr. dks and I have been working to help get Congress some Courage.

Just to let you know there has been some cooking going on around all those happy meals and PBJ sandwiches, here's a trick I learned from a Quebecois to make an ordinary roast chicken pretty impressive - before roasting it, even if you season it under the skin, dry the skin, rub it with softened real butter, and sift white flour over the buttered skin. Then roast it as directed by your roasting chart for that bird. When you take it out of the oven, take the skin off it in one or two pieces, then carve the bird. You can then raffle off the pieces of skin, they are that good. This is also a good strategy for roasting a turkey, but you do have to keep the breast tented until the last 45 minutes or so of cooking.

This rather dull, but heart-felt entry was made in honor of Cathy Irish, who liked my other, very rare, entries.

Godde bless!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Back In The Saddle

We just went from a family of 4 to a family of 8 to a family of 12 and back to a family of 7 in 2 weeks. Wanna know how we did it? This is how:

Once we were 4 - myself (AKA No-Knee, Irish Banshee Mother, Book Mother, and Kitchen Bitch), Rev. Mr. Larry (The Patriarch), Bubby (17 year old future Harvard student AKA "Little Harvard", sort of after his coach, who is "Big Harvard"), and Robert the German exchange student (AKA Hans). Daughter Goddess of Purple and her hubby SIL (son-in-law) "came home" to San Anto after SIL lost his job, bringing Molly (the 8 year old Banshee-in-training), and Sam (the randomly OCD 5 year-old who only Molly can really understand). Then Hans' family came from Germany to pick him up, since he, very oddly, didn't want to leave this zoo. So we had Daddy Hans (Herr Doktor Engineer), Mama Hans (Kinder Therapist, AKA Die Renate), Christian (AKA Afrikamann), und Die Esther (15 years old, blonde of Aryan proportions, AKA Brunhilde).

We showed them the glories of a South Texas Summer with tubing on the Guadalupe, obeisance to the Alamo, a River Walk Thing, lots of BBQ and pinto beans, enchiladas and chicken-fried steak (it's really German, you know), and dancing to Two Tons of Steel at the Gruene Hall (including the 110 degree temperature inside at 9 PM). They took Hans and left last Wednesday, probably with great relief.

I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at DemocracyFest in Austin, of which I will write more later. I spent the last two days cleaning the kitchen. Rev. Mr. Larry told me plaintively upon my return Sunday night (Yes, I know it was Father's Day) "I did dishes every night, but it was a loooooong weekend!". I am now determined to blog every few days. I know you don't believe me, but DemFest converted me. After having breakfast with Jerome and Kos, and spending quality time with other cool political blogers, I am going to have my say, too. I am especially grateful to Roses and Othniel from TexasKos for their good example, as well as all the other committed bloggers who keep me informed.

Stay tuned for more. I hate doing HTML, and must learn to do it here on Blogger before I can actually give good Source. Please be patient with me. Oh! Some good news - the A/c Guy told me last Thursday that he thinks he can keep Big Mama (The Condenser) goin' another summer! Godde is good.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Happy Celtic History Month

In our family, St. Patirck's Day begins on February 15th and ends on March 31, or Easter, whichever comes first. We play all all the Irish music CD's we have, over and over and over, until everyone but me goes mad and pulls out their hair. And we eat this recipe for Soda Bread frequently:

Bob McGuire's Soda Bread

1.75 C. buttermilk
1 beaten egg
.25 C. melted, cooled butter

Mix the above. Set aside.

4 scant C. unbleached (King Arthur) flour or 3 C. unbleached, 1 C. fresh whole wheat
1/2 C. white sugar
1 T. caraway seeds
2 C. golden raisins
1 t. baking powder

MIx in large bowl. Add the liquid ingredients, stir carefully but thoroughly. Then stir in, quickly,

1 t. baking SODA.

The dough should be rather soft, like a tender biscuit dough, not too stiff. That is why I said scant cups of flour, but it should not be actually wet. If it is, carefully and quickly add a tad more flour.

Pat into a 10" circle, slash a cross about 1/4 inch deep across the top, and bake at 325 for about an hour. I use a baking stone, but have used a cookie sheet successfully in the past - be sure to grease it if you do.

Test by thumping it , if it sounds hollow, it is done. Put it on a rack, and cover it with an irish linen tea towel, and cool it to room temperature. Cut and serve with strawberry jam and strong tea. It should have a crunchy crust and a tender crumb.

For non-feast days, my Grandmother Annie made this without the fruit, and called it "Milk Bread", a staple in her house. She actually would rather have eaten cream puffs and napoleans, but such is life...

Monday, January 24, 2005

Inauguration Day, Military Retiree Style

Well, Mr. Retired Army Officer scheduled his asshole scope for this Very Day! It was to be a real colonoscopy with knock-out juice, color photos to take home, things cut out for Lab Rats to cut up and look at, everything! And - he scheduled it for - 6 ayem. So he gets up at 4;30, wakes me up at 5:00, fully dressed, the paperwork in his hand. While I take a shower, he is sitting there, paper in hand. Nervous. Very nervous.I notice at the guarded gate to the Army post that a number of vehicles are being very thoroughly searched, but I have no worries, I have Military I.D.! And so, predictably, we arrive at Military Hospital # 3 at 5:45. The regular doors aren't even open, so he goes in the ER, waving me off irritably.I drive back home, wake up the 16 year old who was supposed to have set his alarm, gotten up, run, showered, and been ready to eat the Krispy Kremes I so thoughtfully bought on the way home for him. The way I wake teenagers up is way worse than any alarm clock. I begin by pounding loudly on the door, opening it screaming, throwing water on the sleeper and sending the dog onto the recumbant figure to lick his face. I was pissed, and I guess he figured that out, because he got up right away, ran to the shower, took a record short stay in the spray, and left with his girlfriend who is called Shawnee Woman in our house.After about another hour, I get a call from the nurse on the Asshole Wing telling me the Gas-Passer and the Ass-Master have released Mr. Retired Army Officer, so I head over there. By now, there is so much color commentary on the Inauguration Festivities, that I realize Inauguration Day is the reason for the "enhanced security" at the gate to Military Hospital #3. So I pull up to rescue My Man from the Ass- Master; and, yes, sure as shit, wouldn't you know MY CAR is "selected" for a "random check". I sigh, pull over, get out my ID card for which I had previously attested in writing that I understood by entering a US military installation I was giving up my rights to not be searched and seized. I am instructed to turn off my vehicle, get out, and surrender my cell phone and anything else with a battery in it. Because this is a loaner car, while mine is in the car hospital, I feel quite smug, for there is virtually nothing of mine in the car except my wallet, my garage door opener, and my cell phone. "This will be a piece of cake. That's why they picked me", I say to myself with an easy-going tiny smug smile. Well, they take said ID card off to a little hut, hustle me out, instruct me open every car door, which I do quite calmly, then proceed to take apart my garage door opener and my cell phone, punching buttons on each. I'm thinking, "Dumb Ass, that's a great way to blow yourself up if there are explosives in this vehicle", just as the bomb dog comes out of the little hut and "alerts", by standing at the rear of the rental van that doesn't even have a gum wrapper in it. So there is a bit more urgency to the voices now, and more guys come over with more mirrors and a walkie-talkie - not the cool Secret Service type that discretely come out of the left cuff, but the big, clunky, old, scratched ones they give the soldiers - you know, the ones that are sorta like the old, ragged, non-kevlar, woodlands patterned vests they give the soldiers in the deserts of Iraq? - and I begin to lose my little smile. A guard asks me in a very urgent voice, "Ma'am, Ma'am what do these keys open?"; and I look and see two strange, squat keys in his hands, which he is trying in the ignition, in the glove box, anything with a keyhole. I told him I had never seen them before, and he said he found them in the compartment under the front passenger seat. Then began a sort of flurry of walkie-talkie-ing, mirror looking, and whispered conversation. They took out the rear seat, pulled up the carpet, and looked for a lock box welded into the car body, ideal for hiding drugs or plastic explosives. Now, remember, there is a nurse waiting with Mr. Retired Officer for me, I can't call the clinic because they have my phone, and I am beginning to be rather urgently questioned about why I have a rental car, my purpose for entering the installation ("Because my husband just had a colonoscopy and excision of multiple polyps by your boy Ass-Master who looks younger than my 16 year old who doesn't get out of bed in the mornings, Moron."), and I am being approached by two MP's who are getting out of a black SUV, who are handed my ID card - remember my ID card? - the one that was to get me out of this Inaugural Security Circle Jerk? Well, it was EXPIRED. And I was the Major Excitement for the day. "Ma'am", I am told, "we need to see another form of identification. Your ID card is expired, and we have confiscated it. You will be issued a receipt for it, and you will be escorted to the clinic to pick up your husband. If you do not have a valid driver's license, your car will be impounded." "Fair enough," think I. And after my valid driver's license is validated, I am accompanied by an MP SUV to the hospital door, told to leave my car unlocked, the hazard lights on, and to get Mr. Retired Officer. As I am going in the door, some very old, very shriveled, very disabled old bat with more wrinkles than a 5-year-old dollar bill harrumphs, and says to nobody in particular, "How does SHE rate parking right up front?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Little Tucker C.

I am getting a big kick out of all the schadenfreude about poor little Tucker Carlson getting riffed from Crossfire, and Crossfire maybe even getting the ax. I think it is CNN with it's (middle) finger to the wind, betting that the tipping point is near.

What really interests me is, will PBS dump him after so hurriedly hiring him to add diversity to it's shows, including News Hour? When he started showing up on PBS, I turned it off, and gave up. What the hell were they thinking hiring Baby Rush in a bow tie? Did the bow tie somehow convince the powers that be at PBS that he is an intellectual? Or is PBS trying to quietly keep the wolves (remember the wolves?) from the gate of the quaint PBS Village?

So maybe my read on CNN's bet is just wishful thinking. I am still wearing black.

Tonight I am catering a salad supper for 45 teachers, even though it is 36 degrees here in South Texas. They are getting spinach salad with white balsamic dressing, and finger Caesar salads stuffed with long garlic crouton and julienned parmesan. As a side they are getting mini empanadas.