Presenting the: It’s HOT – It’s Africa HOT – Tarzan couldn’t stand this kind of heat – Edition of the Lazy Cook

When you don’t have Air Conditioning and it’s this freakin’ hot, the last thing you want to do is cook. Well, the last thing you want to do is move. But even in the Lazy Cook’s household, food prep can sometimes include movement.

And while we eat a lot of cold salads and watermelon in hotter weather, those foods don’t tend to “last” in the tummy. It’s the cooler version of Chinese food: 20 minutes later and you are hungry again. So, how do we resolve that problem? The Lazy Way of course.

Here is a picture tutorial for a cooked vegetarian curry that doesn’t require heating up the house with… heat.

The dish: a nice Corning Ware casserole with lid. The lid is a necessary part of the endeavor, so keep that in mind when following this recipe.

To fill this casserole you will need the following:

About 2 cups of Vegetable Broth, or about 1/2 of this container (Chicken stock is good if you aren’t going vegetarian on this one). Wolfgang Puck brand isn’t necessary, I’m just showing off that I got this at Big Lots for $1.50

1 cup of coconut milk or about 1/2 the can:

3 or 4 tender summer squash from the garden, cubed.

Sweet pepper, chopped. This is probably about 1/2 a cup.

A medium onion chopped. (Hello Kitty bowl is not required) And since I had some curried okra canned up from last year, I thought “Why not?”.

Red Curry Paste. I get mine at the Asian Market for about .60 cents a can.

You’ll use a tablespoon, more or less, depending on how hot you like it. Add it to the broth and coconut milk in the casserole. Mix well. This will keep you from getting lumps of paste in your curry. ‘Cause stirring it while its cooking  is too…  hot.

You can add salt at any time to your taste. But at least 1/2 teaspoon. You can add in the chopped vegetables at this point, along with cubed extra firm tofu and cubed carrots. Try cutting them into smaller bits than shown here.

Once you’ve got it all in there, it should resemble this:


Pepper is optional, I just added it as an afterthought. Now for the lid.


Let’s look at the time. Okay 11:30 ish… so we’ll get this in well before noon.

Now into the cooker.

And to set the temperature, we simply go over…

and make it so.

Serve with brown rice, white rice or millet, along with a tomato, cucumber and onion salad. Enjoy.

Mel Gibson has left the building. (heading directly to the chicken coop)

6 weeks ago, give or take couple of days, I picked up a small flock of day old chicks. You couldn’t even call them a flock at that point. They were more of a flick of a flock.

(Possibly) Mel Gibson as a day old chick with consort.

I decided to house them in my studio/basement until they were ready to move to their permanent home in the chicken coop. We had several reasons for using this strategic location:
a) it was out of the way
b) I could control the type and amount of traffic i.e. we have 6 cats and 2.75 dogs (don’t ask)
c) I wouldn’t have to travel too far to get to them if need arose

For the most part, their individual temperaments had shown through from day one. And those traits only grew stronger as the days passed. The skittish ones didn’t get braver, the bossy ones refined their technique and the curious, inquisitive ones kept drawing to mind the Monty Python quote: “…that most dangerous of animals, a clever sheep.”

Their feathers and beak coloring began to come in at about 2 weeks. It was at that point that I began to notice one of the cockerels. Mostly because he was incredibly reckless and stupidly brave. And the pullets, like swooning adolescent fans, seemed to adore him.

I started calling him Mel Gibson right after he did a Brave Heart run across the small pen at me and my American Dingo dog, Sunny Boy Red. He had perceived some threat to his flock. And no matter that we were dozens of times his size and that one of us has a set of rather pointed canines, he charged us like he was going to kick our collective butts.

All of this bluster earned a fair bit of admiration from yours truly. I’m all about the Berserker method as a form of self-defense. Even so, it drew into focus a series of rather pointed political questions on the wisdom of having a charismatic, reckless rooster in charge of the hens you are counting on for eggs.

Yes, he could protect them; from snakes and probably from the cats, if need be. But if he somehow discovered or devised an escape from his confines, would he lead the girls into an overwhelmingly dangerous situation?

Most likely yes. And so, it looked like Mel Gibson was slated for the chopping block.

We had planned for this eventuality; getting a few more chicks than we actually needed. One has to face the harsh fact that, sometimes, some of them just don’t make it to adulthood. Some of them are deformed, or picked on to the point of needing to be removed, or sometimes you get a rooster that goes “cockeyed”. In other words, he becomes dangerously unmanageable.

I had figured, all along, that one of the 2 cockerels would be more suited to keeping the kind of flock I felt would bring us mutual benefit. And I was pretty sure Mel wasn’t that guy. He didn’t seem unmanageable, just a little…edgy.

But, luckily for Mel, one of my kin decided a couple of chickens would be just the thing. So, happy ending, Mel and 3 of his ardent admirers will be moving house in the next few weeks.

I had planned to put everybody in our chicken run last week. They were 5 weeks old and all feathered in. The weather was quite warm, in the 80’s on a couple of days. But with temperatures dipping to 32 degrees and a late snow coming in, I hesitated in making that drastic a change to their environs.

But the natives were getting restless. Mel had gotten in the habit of perching on top of the watering tray, and pooping in it. It was the highest point in the pen and evidently that’s the cockerel version of “Look, I’m driving an expensive sports car”.

I responded by rigging a cap made of takeout trays that was taller and wider than he could negotiate. No more poo in the water. Issue resolved.

The problem with reckless and clever creatures who are also bored is they soon figure out a way to hack your hack. Soon, I was coming in to find the water tray overturned and a bunch of thirsty, slightly freaked-out chickens.

Mel Gibson in the Chicken Run on the Watering Tray in Question

But I only had to buck up til this weekend and they would be more than old enough to deal with any weather swings. Being in the midst of a pollen-induced sinus attack had me bed-ridden and in no mood for moving house and clearing the basement.

Mel Gibson wasn’t waiting that long.

Here is how I imagine it went down:
Mel got bored. He decided to show off for the girls by perching on the water tray. The tray tipped over, as usual, and somebody completely freaked out. This freaked everybody else out and although this wasn’t  The Station, somebody bum rushed the “door”, tipping the fencing, increasing the panic and setting the fully feathered flock into flight.

So, this morning, I rouse myself, drag my 50 lb head out of the bed and stumble down to the studio. I open the door and find that the pen has been “deconstructed” and there are chickens all over the basement. Subsequently there is poo all over the basement.

I stand stock still doing a head count. I hear hidden peeps from beneath furniture, from behind buckets, but the majority of the flock are in plain sight.

I open the dog crate I’ve been using to house them while I clean the pen. I start calling softly: “Chicker, chicker, chicker…” Then, I pick up Mel Gibson and put him in the crate.

I’ve found the easiest way to get the flock to co-operate is to press the cockerels into service. If the boys are in one place, the girls will shortly follow.

As soon as all were crated, counted and calm, I walked them over to the chicken run. I took Mel Gibson out, set him on the ground and as he walked off there was a rush out the crate door. Silly girls.

I’m acceding to their decision. They are only 2 days away from being 6 weeks old. More than old enough to stand a little evening cold. The coop is snug with lots of hay and leaves to snuggle down in. They should have no problems.

Besides, I can always run a lamp out there if I get too worried.

 

Mel Gibson assessing the threat level.

Guy Logic in Tool World

So I’m assembling a new drill press today and run into a perfect example of Guy Logic.

I’ll skip over the part where they assume I’ve assembled a drill press before and leave out helpful explanations and steps. Because, in my experience, the people who write tech. manuals couldn’t have possibly assembled the items they are writing about themselves. So there’s no point in bitching about the universal constant of half-assed assembly instructions.

I’ve gotten about half way through the assembly and everything is coated in machine oil, including my hands. Each of the plastic bags wrapped around each individual of the parts is coated, the machine is coated; I could give the Terminator a full-body massage and still have greasy hands.

I secretly believe machine oil is like some sort of pheromone for men. Either that or they believe it works that way on the women who smell it.

“Oooooo, he must be handy. He smells like greasy nickle soup. Hey, baby, I’m sexually available.”

So, I’m reading the directions and trying to keep the machine oil off the instruction manual – because I’m prissy that way- and come to the part where I am supposed to prepare the head assembly before putting it onto the base. The directions read:

Place the head assembly upside down on a level, flat surface.

In other words, take it out of the box, remove the greasy plastic wrapping and put it upside down on the table. But then I see a note at the bottom of the instruction series:

NOTE: This tool is heavy. Get help when needed.

So, what your sayin’ there bud is I should pick up a bulky, unwieldy, machine part featuring a slick, plastic hood with my grease-coated hands and hey, take care, it’s really heavy and flip it over to put it on the table.

And truly it is a heavy bastid. But the only tools they claimed one would need are a mallet, an adjustable wrench and a Phillips head screwdriver. There was nothing about an extra set of hands, attached or not, to a beefy grease-monkey.

If there were, I would have picked one up at the hardware store on the way home.

Mike Rayburn @ xNASA: a TED Talk

Moonlight: Trashing Trash Culture and A Tale of Requited Love.

I woke up early this morning thinking about vampires.

Okay, quite honestly, I didn’t wake up thinking about them so much as I was having a “contagion” dream. When suddenly, the Spousal Unit starts thrashing about the bed in the throes of a crampy calf muscle. The substantial amount of guttural cursing from the opposite side of the bed would tend to wake anyone; even the dead.

He worked it out and, after popping a magnesium pill and drinking a little water, he was shortly on his way back to that restful place beyond place. The S.U. will most likely sleep through Armageddon. And if woken up, will be able to fall back to sleep until something a little more interesting happens or the alarm clock goes off; whichever comes first. But unfortunately for me, given my tendencies toward ADD, anything that wakes me up, keeps me up.

So, I’m lying there trying to puzzle out the dream. It involved vampires traveling across country. Up until this point their spread had been prevented by some sort of linked rules. In this case, Rule 1056; which coupled with another rule or law, prevented them from spreading their contagion.

The vampires had found a loophole or workaround. Obviously we are talking a mutation of a natural sort, say viral or biotic, either that or some sort of human political maneuvering. Nevertheless, they were on the move. I kept seeing the rules with some golden yellow digital icon beside them. Ah well, a mystery to keep me occupied throughout the day.

As I had started to mentally wander off into my list of chores for today, my current gripes with our PV system and the contractor who installed it and the 3 feral “rescue” kittens that are now occupying the basement needing a home, it became evident that I was not going back to sleep. So I snuggled up to the SU murmuring threats of dismemberment; kissed him and got up to start my day at 4:30 a.m.

Marmalade Click me to see my sibs.

It was well before sunrise and if there were vampires around, they had ample opportunity to inveigle their way into the house. Working on the theme for today, I decided to complete a chore left unfinished last night: chopping up last year’s garlic. What I couldn’t save for eating, was going into organic pest repellant. And again we touch upon vermin as bringers of disease, or sadly, politics.

I realized, in the midst of my peeling, chopping and dream pondering, that last evening I had seen an episode of television’s latest whoring of the vampire craze: “Moonlight”. Or rather listened to most of it and viewed a bit of it as I worked in my studio.

Hey, give me a break. It was that or So You Think You Can Dance with America’s Most Talented Big Brother Idol in Hell’s Kitchen.

To the part of my mind that likes a little verbal distraction to ward off negative self-talk, most “prime time” television is pretty much on par with golf. It’s not so boring that it fails to distract the “super-ego” (i.e. critical) part of my brain, but lacking anything captivating enough to actually engage my attention or imagination.

I don’t usually comment on Trash Culture. That would be like critiquing the food at Taco Bell. What, exactly, would be the point? It’s ubiquitous and uniformly the same; no matter what sort of wrapper you put it in. Perhaps it’s my age, but seeing the same 5 ingredients combined in different ways, pawned off as worthy of ingestion simply because it is in a different wrapper, has become rather dreary.

But regarding this particular Post-Modern Pu-Pu Platter; what makes it especially offensive is the exceptionally wooden acting from the male and female leads. In a story as old as time or at least as old as the American narrative, the warrior hero and his damsel in distress can never be. They must forestall. Failing that, she must die.

Perhaps this uniquely New World genre was a rejection of the louche habits of Old Europe. Perhaps it was formed by the Puritan ethic that moved through the Enlightenment era resulting in the seminal work of the genre: “Last of the Mohicans”.

American heroes never really “get the girl”. That pleasure is reserved, in our ethos, for tales of romantic love or domesticity. There is a restlessness that lies just beneath the surface of our hero tales. One that suggests committing to a singular course or cause leads to a death of sorts. And women often wonder why some men are commitment phobic.

Here, I stray into a level of discourse this TV trifle does not deserve; so back to the juiciness of holy water, blood, stalking and staking.

Those rare moments where I am pulled into this Penny Dreadful by the potential for a dramatically ripe moment, turn into a wrenching brain cramp as I mentally hear the director speaking to the actors:

“Okay, your friend is talking about finding his soul mate after 350 lonely years of being vampire. But when she begged to be “turned”, it went horribly wrong, he has lost her forever and now he is full of self-loathing and remorse. You realize he could be talking about your situation. So Female Lead, I want you to glance up at Male Lead with a bit of longing, apprehension and sadness.”

“Good, now Male Lead, look somewhat stricken; your friend is suffering and you feel for him, because you can sympathize. You have been secretly watching over Female Lead her entire life and you find yourself falling for her. No, no, it’s not at all creepy in a -adoptive father watching his daughter grow up and then wanting to sex her up- sort of way. It’s more of a – two souls meeting at the right time after years of patience- thing.”

So the only worthwhile actor of the 3, the grieving friend, ends up looking a little over the top and hammy by comparison.

This particular actor, Jason Dohring, was the romantic interest in “Veronica Mars”. There he fared somewhat better. At least in that series, there were good storylines, believable dialogue and other good actors to play against.

Trash Culture television has shown itself capable of putting out a good product. The aforementioned Veronica Mars, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to name just two examples. Joss Whedon is an exceptional writer who is fearlessly dedicated to the story. If the story arc requires that a character die, then off to fictional heaven they go. Or Hell, or Purgatory. Ah, yes, purgatory: back to our story.

And you can see where “Moonlight” wants to be “that”. The somewhat earthy male Vampire detective with a heart of gold, finds the spunky, blonde, soul-mate girl of his dreams. The problem is, neither of them wants to consume the other, either by a morally sanctioned execution or through an unholy sexually charged murder. There is no tension here, no ethical angst, not one whiff of existential quandary. And matters are not helped by the fact that these two have all the sexual chemistry of, well, an adoptive father and his pretty daughter.

It is no stretch to suggest the Male Lead’s acting is wooden compared to David Boreanaz’s Angel. In fact, that observation does not even begin to approach the term “understatement”. Boreanaz, at least, has some naturally easy charm that shows through in both his expression and in his physicality. He can passably appear stricken or guilty. He can muster a visage of unrequited longing when the need appears.

In comparison Moonlight’s Male Lead is, quite frankly, a mook. He sounds like he was dragged off the docks sometime last week. And he moves like a ballet dancer in welding gear and steel-toed boots. If vampires represent the animal in us, our connection to the amoral wild, then they should at least move with the easy grace of something less cumbersome and shambling than muskoxen.

And it’s probably unfair to compare the Female Lead to a plain vanilla cookie. It just so happens that I like vanilla cookies. They have both a complexity and depth this actress can not seem to grasp. And both leads seem incapable of expressing anything beyond a range of facial expressions found in your average Botox junky.

Oh, well, look at the time. I’ve nattered on long enough. By now, the sun is well up; time to lay disturbing dreams and wasted efforts in their respective graves. I’m away into the real world of my garden, where life robbing foes are still fought with garlic and fire; only on a much, much smaller, and definitely less epic, scale. And where, subversively, the upright, straight-shooting guy who battles the elements, rights the wrongs, and fights the good fight still, somehow, manages to find the woman who completes him.

FarmerMan

AdamFarmerMan

Even though she may occasionally threaten him with dismemberment for waking her from her dark slumbers.

Can you hear the drums, Conando? A tribute in word and deed.

Link: Can you hear the drums, Conando? A tribute in word and deed. on Vimeo.

Can you hear the drums Conando?
I remember long ago another starry night like this
In the firelight Conando
You were humming to yourself and softly strumming your guitar
I could hear the distant drums
And sounds of bugle calls were coming from afar

They were closer now Conando
Every hour every minute seemed to last eternally
I was so afraid Conando
We were young and full of life and none of us prepared to die
And I’m not ashamed to say
The roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Conando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Conando
Though I never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Conando
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Conando

Now we’re old and grey Conando
Since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand
Can you hear the drums Conando
Do you still recall the frightful night we crossed the Rio Grande?
I can see it in your eyes
How proud you were to fight for freedom in this land

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Conando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Conando
Though I never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Conando

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Conando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Conando
Though I never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Conando
Yes, if I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Conando…


Real Men of Genius

This story exemplifies my assertion that genius is not just creative thinking, but seeing the possibilities and recombining existing things creatively.

And given that it’s a toy Monster Truck remote controlled snowplow, I had to tip my hat to the very funny Budweiser “Real Men of Genius” ad campaign.

Video via Channel 5 in Cleveland

New Testing Method: Math Essay Questions

Math Essay Questions

Famous Paintings Reproduced in Coffee

Famous paintings reproduced in coffee.

An interesting, if overly caffeinated, take on the Master’s Technique of grisaille.

This grisaille of The Odalisque is a perfect example of the technique.

Ingres' Odalisque in Grisaille

This is most likely the original version of Ingres' underpainting of the famous Odalisque

But to the coffee: As an exercise in “I wonder if I could do that?” this is a clever little jaunt. But for my money, I would much rather see the original monochromatic paintings of Mark Tansey. The link shows a close up of work featured below.

Action Painting II

Mark Tansey Action Painting II

The image is linked to a Google search of his work.

They are beautifully rendered, well- crafted and his wry sense of humor shines through in the subject matter

Or check out Gerhardt Richter who has more than once helped me explain to gallery owners that artists don’t simply paint the same thing over and over and over, no matter what Collector’s Monthly says. He’s pretty much awesome no matter what he paints.

"Woman Descending the Staircase" 1964 Gerhardt Richter

Woman Descending the Staircase 1964

But in the end, I suppose it comes down to taste.

Sugar?

Cream?

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