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.

Sweet Potato Rice Pudding: the Lazy Cook’s Recipe Hacks

Iva Mae Swinford from Lubbock, Texas offered up a perfectly good Pumpkin Rice Pudding recipe for Thanksgiving from The Cooking Club of America.

And I promptly proceeded to change it.

I’ll give you her version – tasty enough. And then my changes, which involved, among other things ….. you guessed it – butter.

Iva Mae’s Pumpkin Rice Pudding

15 oz can of pure pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
12 oz can evaporated milk
2 eggs beaten
2 cups medium grain rice
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

(and a whipped topping which we will skip – buy some Cool Whip, food-tards)

Oven at 350 degrees. Whisk pumpkin, sugar, spices in a large bowl. Stir in milk and eggs. Stir in rice, raisins and 1/2 cup pecans.

Pour into 11 x 7 inch glass baking dish: place in shallow roasting pan. Add enough water to come about 1 inch up the sides of the dish.

Bake 15 minutes, stir well. Then bake 30 to 35 minutes until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Rice Pudding

Well, the condensed milk was the first thing off the list. And the whipped topping. I substituted coconut milk. But silken tofu would work too. And I prefer prunes to raisins. And there wasn’t nearly enough fat to make it interesting. Finally, I had just bought some sweet potatoes on sale, so out with the pumpkin. This allowed me to cut the sugar in half. And I added 1/2 stick of butter.

I made it. It was very good. And well received.

But the Lazy Cook took a few bites and said,  “You know what this needs?”

So I made it again; adding in my extras. And I didn’t put it in the double boiler thingy… frankly I forgot. It came out a bit denser (which I liked), so unless you are a stickler for process or your oven burns things, skip it.

Here is my version which is only slightly more involved.

1 large baked sweet potato
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 13 oz can coconut milk: pour off thin milk, keep heavy cream
2 eggs beaten
2 cups cooked medium grain rice
3/4 cup chopped prunes
3/4 cup butter roasted pecans
1/2 stick unsalted butter melted
1 tbsp of cognac (optional)

Oven at 350 degrees. Whisk sweet potato, sweetener, spices in a large bowl. Stir in coconut cream, butter and eggs. Stir in rice, prunes, pecans, cognac.

Pour into 11 x 7 inch glass baking dish. Bake 15 minutes, stir well. Then bake 30 to 35 minutes until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes.

This is a great snuggley warm winter food. Really good hot. Really good for breakfast. Just really, really good.

Enjoy.

The haves.

Never knowing want.

Never wanting to know.

Why are you surprised
when you take the perfect berry
and find it eaten,
empty,
hollowed
by your choice?

There’s some good news!!!! (and then there’s the news we don’t actually care about)

Hey, it’s a party! The richest, shiniest 400 families in America have gotten 5 times richer in the past 15 years!!!!

And OMG BONUS!!!! Their tax rates fell to the lowest rate EVAR!!! Couldn’t you just die??!!!!

Sources: Tax.com NY Times WSWS.org

WHEEEEE!!!! LOOK AT THAT INCOME RISE!!!!

Incomes Go Up!

YAYYYY!!!!! GO AWAY BAD TAXES!!!!!!

Taxes Go Down!

Total income for our top earners was $138 billion in 2007.  That’s up  $263 million from the previous year. They got an increase of 31%!!!  Yayyyy!!!!  they deserve it.

But how much did the shiny 400 pay in taxes? A mere $23 billion. Isn’t that JUST SUPER?!!!!!!!

Our top 400 Awesome Rich People made more in 2007 than the yearly output of most of the world’s countries; rivaling the GDP of Chile .

If the shiny 400 had paid their 2007 taxes (even at the 1995 rate) the resulting $18.4 billion would have covered California’s entire 2010 budget shortfall. Aren’t you just so proud?

Bill Clinton’s administration started the report back in the day to let us ROOT! ROOT! ROOT! for our rich. But the Grumbledy Meanies in the Bush administration shut it down. Leaving us without any way to know how super and shiny our rich people really, truly are.

And guess what! The wealthiest 1% took 2/3rds of ALL the income generated between 2002 and 2007.  But, ya know what? I think they deserve it.

They took 90% whole percent!!! But they deserve it.

Some Economy Guys named Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez  said income for the top 1 percent grew 10 times faster than that of the bottom 90 percent.

10 TIMES FASTER!!!!!!!!

And don’t we all think that’s just FANTASTIC?!!!

Okay, okay, not be a Debbie Downer, but I did promise that other news (we don’t really care about anyway)

It seems the whiny old states think they might have needed those tax dollars. Pouty Pusses.

Center for Budget and Policy

Those Silly Little Recession Numbers

Current.org
As states cut back their budgets, governors are targeting public broadcasting along with other educational and arts programs. Some stations could face a total funding loss.

But really who needs that stuff anyway? That’s all just local musicians and news and artists. We don’t need to know what they are doing, as long as the rich can get richer. Right?

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
At least 44 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted budget cuts that will affect services for children, the elderly, the disabled, and families, as well as the quality of education and access to higher education.

Look, I know it’s tough. But if you are old or disabled, you are going to die soon anyway. And frankly that might be a blessing, because you aren’t pretty to look at in that condition either.

But if you are young and uneducated, the rich are always looking for somebody to trim hedges or cut the grass, you’ll get by. Heck, I bet you could get Timmy out of daycare and the SUPER SHINY RICH could put him to work in a trice!!!

Little fingers like Timmy has are just perfect for making those big expensive wool rugs the rich like to hang on their walls. It takes patience though, so tell Timmy to work steady or there will be no gruel for dinner. Wait…… that’s right. The rule is one meal a day.

Bonus!!!! Timmy won’t have to eat gruel for dinner, cause there’s no dinner!!!! Yay!!!!!!

Don’t we just owe the Rich EVERYTHING?

One could just SWOON…..

Swooning

Swooning

Doom and Gloom: Sunspots, Volcanoes and Earthquakes. Famine, Disease and Pestilence.

Sunspots, Volcanoes and Earthquakes

The problem with being merely human is, compared to the vast scales of planetary time, we are but brief and oh, so vapid bubbles. Our capacity to glimpse and somewhat comprehend the eons that have proceeded us, for the most part, only serves to frustrate and confuse.

It is precisely because our brains, and by extension our minds, are geared with pattern recognition and pattern synthesis as built in survival mechanisms, that we valiantly strive to “make sense” of our world, our universe. Some make sense of their world by becoming artists, archeologists or doctors. Others become psychologist, biologist or astrophysicists. And some, eschewing any attempts to understand, keep it simple by “leaving it to god”.

Others leave it to god, but hedge their bets with virgin sacrifices. This, if you think about it, has more in common with the scientific contingent. Reducing action to a simple experiment: A “What happens if ?” question. Where the scientist and the priest will sometimes differ, lays in which needs a definitive outcome. And which will keep trying to prove their ideas wrong in order to obtain a repeatable result.

In times of heightened stress and uncertainty, it seems the desire to create order out of chaos becomes even more acute. If we were all roaming the savanna, keeping a wary eye out for cheetahs stalking in the tall grass, our actively engaged minds wouldn’t have time to parse out the minutia of conspiracy theories or end-time scenarios. Cheetahs are sometimes useful that way.

As a species, we have been both blessed and cursed with the ability to invent time-saving processes and devices and implement them on a massive scale. And after all those processes and devices are firmly in place, what we are left with are active minds and a lot of free time. Here is where the Brain Squirrels tend to show up.

Brain Squirrels are a side effect of attempting to solve problems and create contingencies with too little useful information. We end up running round and round in our heads, trying to make pieces from different jigsaw puzzles fit into a seamless whole; taking a piece of information here, a bit there with no regard for relevance. The end result is either a shoddy conspiracy theory or a series of valid questions we could do little about, even if we understood the problem and its answer completely. Why our weather is outside the norm. Why earthquakes happen. Why are there droughts and crop failures and starvation and so on.

Sometimes though, if you sort through enough muck, you will find something useful. Something that allows you to mark an idea off your mental checklist and ponder contingencies based on known quantities, instead of hapless conjecture.

So while I was poking around after the earthquake in Haiti, I made a few discoveries.

Some people believe there is a link between the sun and our climate. No, I’m completely serious. Stop rolling your eyes. Yes, we are all aware that the sun warms the earth. We are also aware that the lack of sun cools the earth. But this idea is more subtle and more difficult to prove directly due to the aforementioned fleeting lifespan. We simply don’t have enough long term data to make a firm case. And, as yet, the causal link has not been discovered. So bear with me here, while keeping in mind that I am not arguing a case for or against human induced climate change, but am exploring the idea of links between solar activity, volcanoes, earthquakes and climate variation on Earth.

Climate Change May Trigger Earthquakes and Volcanoes. New Scientist

Evidence of a link between climate and the rumblings of the crust has been around for years, but only now is it becoming clear just how sensitive rock can be to the air, ice and water above. “You don’t need huge changes to trigger responses from the crust,” says Bill McGuire of University College London (UCL), who organised the meeting. “The changes can be tiny.”

Among the various influences on the Earth’s crust, from changes in weather to fluctuations in ice cover, the oceans are emerging as a particularly fine controller. Simon Day of the University of Oxford, McGuire and Serge Guillas, also at UCL, have shown how subtle changes in sea level may affect the seismicity of the East Pacific Rise, one of the fastest-spreading plate boundaries.

So science generally accepts that changes in the climate have effects on volcanic activity and on the tectonic plates. If tectonic plates are affected, it seems reasonable to assume that earthquake activity is also considered under that heading.

Right now, we are in a period of increased earthquake activity where quakes have a much greater total strength:

copyright D. Lindquist dlindquist.com

 

And increased volcanic activity worldwide:

copyright Michael Mandeville

From: Global Volcanism: Volcanic Activity

It is understood that volcanic eruptions spew micro-fine particles and other detritus into the atmosphere. This creates a sort of sun filter, cooling the earth by deflecting solar radiation and heat.

That would, at least in part, account for the arctic cold snap covering the Northern Latitudes.

What might account for the rest? Sunspots. Or more accurately the lack of sunspots.

Sun SpotsThe Blank Year NASA.gov

Note the inverse relationship between the charts further up the column and the one shown here.

According to them that study our friend the Sun, we are right at the bottom of what is known as a Solar Minimum. A Solar Minimum is defined as a time in the Sun’s regular cycle with little or no solar activity.

From the site:

The longest minimum on record, the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, lasted an incredible 70 years. Sunspots were rarely observed and the solar cycle seemed to have broken down completely. The period of quiet coincided with the Little Ice Age, a series of extraordinarily bitter winters in Earth’s northern hemisphere. Many researchers are convinced that low solar activity, acting in concert with increased volcanism and possible changes in ocean current patterns, played a role in that 17th century cooling.


NASA scientists have also noted that the more calm the Minimum, the more quickly the Sun’s systems return to an active state. In addition there are a larger number of strong disruptive events, like solar flares.

Solar Flare

I began by looking at a geology sites on the internet to find some information on earthquake strength and frequency after they Haiti quake. Based on forum postings, the question of earthquakes and sunspot activity comes up whenever there is a major quake. And instead of addressing these concerns, the regular posters flatly and adamantly denied any direct causal link between sunspots and earthquake or volcanic activity in the usual dismissive manner of the pseudo-skeptic.

Since I’m not a fan of flat denial as it has very little to do with critical thinking, I decided to look into the question for myself. After further reading I wondered if the “skeptics” on the geology boards would be willing to admit the possibility of an indirect causal link. A chain reaction, if you will.

I discovered a site with information on a rather interesting theory. On the site M.A. Vukcevic has a formula that discusses the interaction of influence on the mass of the sun from the magnetospheres of outlying larger planets.

http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/

M.A. Vukcevic formula

This chart shows the correlation between the movement of planets Jupiter/Saturn and the incidence of recorded sunspots.

A PDF further discussing his work.

If the Sun’s mass is affected by these planetary magnetospheres, wouldn’t that suggest it is possible that the Earth’s mass, the molten core which helps to drive its magnetosphere would be affected too?

In the end, what I am suggesting is not a simple cause and effect. Instead I’m suggesting like many systems with interlinking chaotic processes, it’s a complex and dynamic cause and effect.

* Reduced sunspot activity due to planetary effects can affect how much heat the Earth receives. This begins to shift weather patterns, which in turn affect the tectonic and volcanic systems of the planet.

* The magnetospheric effects working on the Solar mass are echoed in our molten planetary core resulting in increased volcanic and tectonic activity which results in further change in the planetary weather system.

NASA scientists may not agree with Mr. Vukcevic. I have no idea whether his work is valid or supported. But the scientists at NASA do agree that sunspots, earthquakes and volcanoes are linked in some fashion. At this point they are not willing to forward a hypothesis about the correlations but agree that they are mediated by changes in climate.

Whether this goes toward supporting claims on either side of the global warming vs. global cooling debate is outside my area of interest at the moment.

Famine, Disease and Pestilence

In terms of which aspects of the sunspot/volcano activity are within the purview of my interest I direct you to to:  Nine Meals from Anarchy

“This year is the 10th anniversary of the fuel protests, when supermarket bosses sat with ministers and civil servants in Whitehall warning that there were just three days of food left. We were, in effect, nine meals from anarchy. Suddenly, the apocalyptic visions of novelists and film-makers seemed less preposterous. Civilization’s veneer may be much thinner than we like to think.”

It is certain that the recent Arctic blasts which affected much of North America, has already impacted food security in the United States.

Florida, which tends to be the warmest state during the winter, generally grows tender warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers. The freeze in Florida has crippled supplies of citrus and juices, along with tender vegetables like snap beans, squash, and peppers,

While this, in and of itself, does not constitute a food crisis, the truth is many people are not the position to afford an increase in food prices. It is more along the lines of “Another straw on the camels back”.

If there is a possible link between sun cycles and an increase in deadly earthquakes, volcanoes or weather changes then we are obligated to explore those ideas. Haitians and others across the globe who have been adversely affected by these terrible tragedies are a stark testament to how little we know and how much we need to discover about our world.

Of Greater and Lesser Sins.

The Moral Absolutists and Moral Relativists have both managed to get it wrong. On the one hand, there is no one unyielding truth. No unequivocal right or wrong based, ultimately, on some political, social or authoritarian structure.

On the other hand, the fact that some acts are labeled as wrong across cultures, across societies, across time, tells us that at some primal level, there is recognition of something that could be labeled as “sin”. It can, without judgment, be best described as: When you no longer understand that the person standing in front of you is human. And in being human like you, they suffer the same fears, the same hurt, the same hunger as you.

In forgetting this simple idea, the sinner loses some part of what makes him human too.

The one point of agreement between the two camps is that not all sins merit the same levels of condemnation. There can be great evils and then there are the evils of a lesser degree.

In this series of recent stories, the grim irony of the holy man telling his flock to sin, but to sin carefully, ranks in the measure of humanity, as the least sinful of all.

City of Miami to Julia Tuttle Squatters: If You Are Not a Molester, You Gotsta Go!

Police in Miami, Florida have been forcing those convicted of sex crimes to live as squatters under the Julia Tuttle Freeway after their release from prison. The growing number of laws across the country restricting where sex offenders live make it difficult, if not impossible, to house them.

The presence of a “city sanctioned” tent city created a draw for other, non-offending homeless. No surprises there. The homeless will tell you there is a degree of safety in numbers.

Yet somehow, beyond all comprehension, the morally bankrupt idea of forcing people to live as no better than cattle was compounded when police began ordering the non-sex offending homeless out of the squat. So, now the innocent poverty stricken are being treated worse than the people already being treated as less than cattle?

How to comprehend the mind-bending thought processes in play here?  From the police, to social services, to city administrators, to the justice system, each person in those systems turned their backs on the most basic of moral imperatives: treat human beings as if they possess humanity.

Phoenix Church Ordered to Stop Feeding the Homeless

The premise stripped down and laid bare: The application of zoning laws is more important than the fact that men, women and children are starving.

Yes, little old ladies might find it disconcerting to see bedraggled strangers wandering down the street in order to get at least one meal today. And the uptick in minor crimes is something to be concerned about. But these are manageable problems.

It comes back to the idea that if they keep sweeping this human dirt under the rug, the problem disappears. They have failed to realize this mere trickle is the leading edge of a landslide. Sometimes, there isn’t a rug big enough.

The wise and humane thing, the human thing to do is to find a way to accommodate the concerns of the homeowners and the mission of the church.

Fund boss made 7 billion in the panic

I’m not averse to money. Nor am I averse to people making money. But throughout history, there has always been an inverse proportion between wealth concentration and human suffering.

The tipping point measuring human benefit to human damage in our economic system has long passed. And in its waning, it echoes the arc of the twin cults of Self-Actualization and Individualism. These structures have served their purpose for this cycle in history. They have stopped functioning to benefit anyone. It is past time to move beyond them.

Like it or not: We will be forced to move back toward ideas of shared responsibility. Look at the news from across the globe, look at these stories. We are already moving, out of sheer necessity, back to a collective interdependence. We literally can’t afford to continue supporting people or systems that take food out the mouths of our children under the guise of free market ideals.

70% Of The Q3 GDP Growth Was Cash For Clunkers

Summary: The little White Lies of Statistics aren’t helping anyone.

This will most likely mean further stimuli will be considered necessary. A severe contraction of the GDP in future quarters could spook those meager few who now hold a majority of the wealth. And, right now, them that have the money are the only ones with the ability to move it through the economy.

The problem is, the wealthy are merely human. And, in that frailty, they share the same irrational fears as the rest of us, regardless of means. In the end, this does not bode well for those of us without access to those same means.

Priest advises congregation to shoplift

I am not a religious woman. But if it were in my power to deem him a Saint, I would gladly do so.

Split Pea and Barley Soup with Hot Sausage

There is not much that can beat split pea soup. It is warm, creamy and filling. The tastes of the peas in chicken soup stock with onions and the occasional sweet bit of carrot are a completely satisfying experience.

But as with most of the dishes I cook other considerations, like what needs to be eaten, influence the process of my kitchen experiments.

Split pea soup was on the menu and ½ pound of spicy pork sausage was sitting in the fridge looking kinda lonely. In the process of gathering up supplies, I ran across about a cup of barley and I thought: Why not?

As I noted earlier, I like chicken stock as a base for split pea soup. In this instance I thought stock and sausage might be too rich. So, I cut the amount of stock  and added water for the remaining liquid.

2 cups of split peas and 1 cup of barley.

Add 4 cups of chicken stock and 3 cups of water.

Add salt to taste

Add chopped carrots if desired.

Bring to a boil then cook over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Chop up the ½ lb of sausage and place in a skillet,

Chop one small onion and add to the sausage.

Cook thoroughly

When the sausage is cooked, drain the oil for use with other dishes.

Crumble the sausage and add, with the onions, to the soup.

What I liked: The texture of this soup is amazing. It is full bodied and has a great mouth feel. I always like barley in food because it has a slightly chewy texture that I find very satisfying. The hot sausage was an interesting change from ham. And as with many spicy foods, by the following day, the spices had become more pronounced.

What I found less than perfect: Adding the barley flattens out the taste of the peas.

So there is a slight trade off of texture and taste, I will make this again, but it wasn’t so good that I would let it replace the standard version of split pea soup.

Enjoy.

Curry: Food of the Gods

Curries

A variety of curries available at penzeys.com

Turmeric is a 3 foot tall perennial herb. It is related to the ginger plant and grows in similar regions: India, China, Indonesia, Jamaica, Haiti and other tropical countries. In order to be used, the rhizome is boiled, cleaned and sundried. Tumeric is the component that gives mustard its sunny yellow color and is used in a wide variety of foods including delicious curries.

Now, this amazing spice gives everybody something else to feel sunny about. It turns out a compound in turmeric is helpful in preventing the plaques implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Montefin.com Curcumin and Alzheimer’s

Mid-Day.com Professors Doraiswamy Alzheimer’s Cure

In the history of turmeric’s use, each country that cultivates turmeric uses it for similar complaints. Skin problems including: skin ulcers, pimples, eczema, psoriasis, herpes sores, pox are treated with added ingredients such as coconut oil or lime juice to make a smooth paste. The same pastes are used for snakebites, insect stings and ringworm.

For diaper rashes, the powder is sprinkled directly on to the skin

The Philippine Journal of Nursing (50:95) recommends a turmeric decoction followed by 48 oz. of water to alleviate any bleeding during pregnancy. Bleeding early in a pregnancy can indicate the potential for miscarriage. The turmeric decoction is used as a preventative. Combining this with eggplant makes for an even more effective remedy.

Curcumins I, II and III demonstrate in studies (Int J Immunopharmacol 21 [11]: 745-757, 1999) to have anti-cancer and antioxidant actions, central nervous system disorders, renal cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and melanoma.

The Journal of Ethnopharmacology (7:95-109 1983) noted curcumol and curdione active compounds from turmeric proved very effective against cervical cancer, but only in the early stages. Likewise the same compounds showed strong cytotoxic effects against Dalton’s Lymphoma cells in the beginning stages of development. Cancer Letters (29:197-202, 1985)

Another compound, diferuloylmethane, shows significant effect in inhibiting tissue necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha (link)  (Phytomedicine 7 [4]: 303-308, 2000)

Cell mutations, such as cancer, are not the only ones affected by turmeric. Nutrition and Cancer Institute in Bombay, India discovered that turmeric helps to offset the mutagenicity of hot chili peppers and other food that can cause cell mutations.

And turmeric may also exert a number of other effects in the body: anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, hepatoprotective (protects the liver) and hypolipidemic  (lowers blood lipids)

Turmeric inhibited edema (induced) and subacute arthritis in studies with rats and mice, comparable to treatments like hydrocortisone acetate and phenylbutazone. ½ teaspoon taken morning and evening in juice is suggested from those conducting the studies.

For contusions, sprains and fractures a mixture of 2 tbsps of turmeric mixed with 1 tbsp lime and just enough boiling water to make a smooth paste with a nut butter consistency. This paste can be applied to painful, swollen areas, covered with something that will help maintain the heat and moisture.

Rats fed on a diet containing 10% fat colored with turmeric, showed virtually no fat buildup around the liver, unlike control rats fed with the same diet sans turmeric. The addition of eggplant increased the turmeric’s effectiveness.

As with most spices, turmeric has long been used as a preservative. In olive, soybean and sesame oil, it increases shelf life as well as in fats by its significant anti-oxidant activity. There are studies that show a doubling of shelf life in seafood with the use of a turmeric dip.

As a note of caution for people with gall bladder problems, as curcumin stimulates bile secretions.

Now for the delicious part: Make Your Own Curry Powder

1 tbsp. ground coriander seeds

½ tsp. ground cumin seeds

½ tsp. ground turmeric

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Combine and mix thoroughly. Seal in an airtight jar, store in a cool place.

Use with lamb, fish, poultry, lentil soups, stews and other Far Eastern dishes.

Curries in Asia often contain onion, garlic and salt. The will often contain sour flavors as well; including tamarind, lime, unripe mango. And mustard, coconut and lemongrass are used as well. Enjoy and be healthy.

Hard Times Across America

The first story is from early in the year. As you can see from the subsequent items, things did not improve over the summer.

6 out of 10 people are living paycheck to paycheck

1 in 8 using food stamps

Hunger in US at 14 year high

Having grown up in a single parent household, I understand the stresses of putting off necessary things until payday. And for that reason, I am glad to see that people are utilizing the services that their tax dollars have paid for over the years.

As I was growing up, my mother would not consider accepting “welfare” under any circumstances. Suffering the many stigmas of poverty, the further humiliation of stooping to ask for “welfare” was beyond what my mother could accept. But there were times when more food or something a little more varied than Fried Fatback Biscuits for dinner would have been looked on as a positive thing.

But to offer a fair and balanced view (and actually do it with a straight face), I’ll include this quote from the Hunger story:

“Very few of these people are hungry,” said Robert Rector, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “When they lose jobs, they constrain the kind of food they buy. That is regrettable, but it’s a far cry from a hunger crisis.”

Down the road, a problematic convergence is coming into view. More unemployed means less taxes paid. More unemployed also means more people utilizing the system paid for with tax dollars.

A few brave souls have proposed raising taxes on the wealthy, who seem to be the only ones benefitting from Reagan’s deregulation orgy of the 80’s. I was glad to see a War Tax put on the table by House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey.

If they limit the taxation to those who have supported the war(s) or those who have profited from them, I’d get myself elected just so I could see it passed.

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