Until early 2009, Silk brand soy milk was made using organic soybeans. But earlier this year, Dean Foods (owner of the Silk brand) quietly switched to conventional soybeans, which are often grown with pesticides. But they kept the same UPC barcodes on their products, and they kept the product label virtually the same, only replacing the word "organic" with "natural" in a way that was barely noticeable. They also kept the price the same, charging consumers "organic" prices for a product that was now suddenly made with conventionally-grown soybeans.
Many retailers and consumers never noticed the bait-and-switch tactic, so they kept buying Silk, thinking it was still organic. The shift on the product label from "organic" to "natural" wasn't well understood by consumers, either. Many consumers continue to think that the term "natural" is basically the same as "organic," when in fact they are almost opposites. The term "natural" is entirely unregulated, and almost anything can be claimed to be "natural" even when it's sprayed with pesticides or treated with other chemicals.
If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad; if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal." - John F. Kennedy
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Watch Your Soy Milk
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Positive News on TASER Use
A federal appeals court on Monday issued one of the most comprehensive rulings yet limiting police use of Tasers against low-level offenders who seem to pose little threat and may be mentally ill.
In a case out of San Diego County, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals criticized an officer who, without warning, shot an emotionally troubled man with a Taser when he was unarmed, yards away, and neither fleeing nor advancing on the officer.
As lawsuits have proliferated against police and Taser International, which manufactures the weapons, the nation's appellate courts have been trying to define what constitutes appropriate Taser use.
The San Diego County case is the latest ruling to address the issue.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit affirmed the trial judge's ruling on Monday, concluding that the level of force used by the officer was excessive.
McPherson could have waited for backup or tried to talk the man down, the judges said. If Bryan was mentally ill, as the officer contended, then there was even more reason to use "less intrusive means," the judges said.
"Officer McPherson's desire to quickly and decisively end an unusual and tense situation is understandable," Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote for the court. "His chosen method for doing so violated Bryan's constitutional right to be free from excessive force."
Some lawyers called it a landmark decision.
Eugene Iredale, a San Diego lawyer who argued the case, said it was one of the clearest and most complete statements yet from an appellate court about the limits of Taser use.
He said after Monday's decision that courts will consider all circumstances, including whether someone poses a threat, has committed a serious crime or is mentally troubled.
"In an era where everybody understands 'don't tase me, bro,' courts are going to look more closely at the use of Tasers, and they're going to try to deter the promiscuous oversue of that tool," he said.
"Certainly the officer should be able to articulate the reason the force (was used), and a mere resistance to comply may not be enough," said Sheriff John McGinness.
The sooner police understand that they can use a TASER under very strict rules and not just to make their jobs easier the better off we will be. Police have a tough job but taking the easy way out with such a dangerous device is not the answer. It's a brutal weapon and it kills. This is going to battled around in the courts for a while yet but at least we are seeing some movement in the right direction.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Reasons To Have A Suet Feeder in Winter
2010 Might be Better
According to Mary Matalin. Shrub inherited 9/11 from Bill Clinton and the employment numbers actually improved in his first year. The first assertion is insane and the second is an outright lie.
Good old political has been Newt Gingrich was on fire this weekend and was in his usual excellent crap slinging form. Among other things he insisted that President Obama has refused to work with the Republicans this year and what's more the GOP should respond with a 'positive alternative vision' which would be to run on repealing health care reform. That's a sure winner if I ever saw one.
Mitch McConnell, not to be outdone by a has been like Newt, insisted that the GOP was right to oppose President Obama on every issue and especially health care reform which meant that they were being bipartisan. You figure it out.
Last but not least, Jim DeMint declared health care reform unconstitutional but won't commit to filing a lawsuit against it.
If the Repubs think running on a platform of repealing health reform, even the seriously flawed reform that is likely to come out of reconciliation, then they are more deluded than I thought. People want constructive ideas and want positive change. If the Dems can do more in the next 12 months with respect to enacting progressive legislation then they will continue to hold sway.
Avatar Is Worth a View
Lightning is Your Real Enemy
Nate Silver does the numbers on terrorist attacks.
Over the past decade, there have been, by my count, six attempted terrorist incidents on board a commercial airliner than landed in or departed from the United States: the four planes that were hijacked on 9/11, the shoe bomber incident in December 2001, and the NWA flight 253 incident on Christmas…
Over the past decade, according to BTS [the Bureau of Transportation Statistics], there have been 99,320,309 commercial airline departures that either originated or landed within the United States. Dividing by six, we get one terrorist incident per 16,553,385 departures.
These departures flew a collective 69,415,786,000 miles. That means there has been one terrorist incident per 11,569,297,667 miles flown. This distance is equivalent to 1,459,664 trips around the diameter of the Earth, 24,218 round trips to the Moon, or two round trips to Neptune…
There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.
h/t to Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
If you are traveling do so with care as roads in lots of the country are bad news. If you are going by plane expect some increased hassles due to the terrorist attempt in Detroit.
If you are not traveling try not to clean up all the Christmas goodies in one day.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
OK it's Officially The Christmas Season
We are going to Minimonks for Christmas Day (she is on duty for Christmas Eve) and rumor has it that we are going to have steak on the grill. There was talk of going to see Avatar as well but the first showing is not until 3pm on Christmas Day so that will just have to wait for another day. Now if the 'frog strangling' rain predicted for tonight and tomorrow morning will clear out of the way in time we are go for Christmas.
All you guys have a Merry Christmas and a safe one to boot. Careful about how much brandy gets into the egg nog and all that.
Down the Bunny Hole
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
In A Nutshell
As PZMyers says ' Isn’t this what the global warming debate is actually all about?'
Monday, December 21, 2009
Who Did I Vote For?
This is a brutal, but accurate, assessment of the Obama presidency so far. It's a bit long but if you are like me you will have some 'Ah ha' moments and recognize some of what you have been thinking for the last few months but couldn't put into words. The article in annoying because it is spot on.
Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people to the political process. It isn't hard for them to see that the winners seem to be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the insurance industry). In fact, the president's leadership style, combined with the Democratic Congress's penchant for making its sausage in public and producing new and usually more tasteless recipes every day, has had a very high toll far from the left: smack in the center of the political spectrum.I guess the big question is...What can we do to change it and can we?
What's costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn't a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both.
What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting.
The problem is not that his record is being distorted. It's that all three have more than a grain of truth. And I say this not as one of those pesky "leftists." I say this as someone who has spent much of the last three years studying what moves voters in the middle, the Undecideds who will hear whichever side speaks to them with moral clarity.
Here's to Carl Sagan
Donna has a photo of a Tutulemma: Solar Eclipse Analemma that is seriously cool.
Happy Winter Solstice
In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, which is located at the latitude of 23.5 degrees south of the equator.
Happy first day of winter and all that stuff. Bryan at Why Now? also reminds us to put out the turnips as it is also Hogswatch.
updated to correct the spelling of Hogswatch.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I just read the actual info on the Echo site (the new brand for Haloscan) and it is only 12 bucks a year. I can afford that.
Anyhow....system is back to normal so ignore all that crap about Haloscan off and stuff. Everything should be back to the way it was.
Sheesh a wasted afternoon.
Disqus Comments Are Up and Running
Let me know if this is going to work or would you rather see the blogger native comments.
Testing Disgus comments
Haloscan Comments Off
Update: Still trying.
Haloscan has powered the comments on this blog almost since its inception in 2004.
Although I haven't received one yet, apparently emails are going out announcing the cancellation of the service and the impending loss of all comments unless you either a) download them for posterity; or b) upgrade to Echo, Haloscan's subscription-based successor. I really appreciate the notification in a prompt and timely manner.
Well, that's not happening. I really don't get enough comments to justify what a pay service demands($10/month), which would be something like charging me 50 cents a comment. Even though Haloscan was the only game in town back in 2004, that's not the case anymore: in addition to Blogger's native comment system, there's also Intense Debate, Disqus, and I'm sure plenty of other free services that will work for this tiny little blog. My big concern is losing all the great input from you guys since the beginning....yeah even you David!
So, at some point in the very near future, commenting on this blog will change. I'm looking at Disqus as it appears that they have some method of rescuing the old comments from Haloscan and it seems like a pretty robust system and it is free (for now). Meanwhile, Haloscan lets users export comments in something called CAIF (Common Announcement Interchange Format) and I have done this for all 8,000 comments made on the site since the beginning up until yesterday.
So if you come in here in the next couple of days and it is totally fried and comments don't work or they do and are completely different then you know why. The first step will be to disable Haloscan and revert to the native Blogger I guess but until I get into the conversion I really don't know. I know just enough about HTML to be dangerous so who knows what will happen.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
No Snow --Thank Goodness
Madam and I have a dinner party for some friends tonight and snow would have been a real pain. I don't care to cook all day and have no one show up. We are just a little cold and damp from all of the rain yesterday.
The menu for tonight is butterflied and rolled pork loin stuffed with a saute of leeks and fennel. Roasted butternut squash with honey and cumin, haricot vert, fresh rolls and a French apple tart for dessert. California (Fetzer) Gewurztraminer is the wine selected. Should be nice for a cold fall night.
Oh! the recipe for the pork loin can be found here... it's from Ina Garten.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Honey Roasted Nuts
Honey Roasted Nuts (with or without spices)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup honey
1 pound unsalted roasted mixed nuts (about 4 cups)
You can use mixed nuts or all one nut like pecans, walnuts or almonds but I like mixtures. A really nice mix is 1 cup whole cashews, 1 cup whole almonds, 1 cup whole pecan halves, 1 cup hazelnuts but mix whatever you like...I avoid using peanuts but you can if you want.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the sugar with the salt and set aside for later. In another large bowl mix the honey( with the spices if using). Add the nuts and stir to coat. You can heat the honey in the microwave for 20 - 30 seconds to make it a little easier to mix. When all the nuts are nicely coated spread them in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 10 -15 minutes. (If you are using raw nuts then another 10 - 15 minutes might be needed to completely roast the nuts. I normally just used roasted but unsalted nuts.) Remove from the oven and let the nuts cool slightly and then toss them with the sugar-salt mixture to coat. Discard the parchment and spread the nuts out on the baking sheet to finish cooling. Once cool you they are ready but you can store them in a tightly sealed container for a week at least.
If you want to make a spicy nut mixture then add 3/4 tsp of cayenne pepper to the honey. Other options would be 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp ground cumin or even a tsp of smoked paprika. Whatever you like but cayenne is usually my go to for spicy nuts.
If you want to make these nuts extra crunchy then use a coarse sugar like turbinado (like Sugar in the Raw) and kosher salt.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
No More Whipsawing
Right now I am leaning toward passing whatever shitty bill finds its way out of the morass as the cost and effort and even the possibility of starting over is impossible. The last major effort at health care reform was under Clinton and we just can't afford to wait that long to move forward, however small. We take what we can get out of this embarrassment and hope to improve it as we go down the road. If what the progressives who are calling for 'Kill Bill" say will happen comes to pass then there will be that much more pressure on government to do something to fix it and that much less credibility on the part of insurance companies and pharma.
I am not happy but the whipsawing and confusion are just draining. It is better to wait until we actually have a bill to measure and understand before we go insane.
Update: Marcy Wheeler(Emtpywheel) has a post at FDL discussing the downside of passing the Senate bill as it now stands with respect to enforcing 'Corporate Feudalism' and it is worthy of a read.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Facebook has kept this one quiet.
Monday, December 14, 2009
High Fructose Corn Syrup Is Still Bad News
Don't expect to read this in American papers.
Scientists have proved for the first time that a cheap form of sugar used in thousands of food products and soft drinks can damage human metabolism and is fuelling the obesity crisis.
Fructose, a sweetener derived from corn, can cause dangerous growths of fat cells around vital organs and is able to trigger the early stages of diabetes and heart disease.
It has increasingly been used as a substitute for more expensive types of sugar in yoghurts, cakes, salad dressing and cereals. Even some fruit drinks that sound healthy contain fructose.
Experts believe that the sweetener — which is found naturally in small quantities in fruit — could be a factor in the emergence of diabetes among children. This week, a new report is expected to claim that about one in 10 children in England will be obese by 2015.
Previous studies of the potentially adverse impact of fructose have focused on rats, but the first experiment involving humans has now revealed serious health concerns.
Over 10 weeks, 16 volunteers on a strictly controlled diet, including high levels of fructose, produced new fat cells around their heart, liver and other digestive organs. They also showed signs of food-processing abnormalities linked to diabetes and heart disease. Another group of volunteers on the same diet, but with glucose sugar replacing fructose, did not have these problems.
People in both groups put on a similar amount of weight. However, researchers at the University of California who conducted the trial, said the levels of weight gain among the fructose consumers would be greater over the long term.
Fructose bypasses the digestive process that breaks down other forms of sugar. It arrives intact in the liver where it causes a variety of abnormal reactions, including the disruption of mechanisms that instruct the body whether to burn or store fat.
“This is the first evidence we have that fructose increases diabetes and heart disease independently from causing simple weight gain,” said Kimber Stanhope, a molecular biologist who led the study. “We didn’t see any of these changes in the people eating glucose.”
Not A Good Monday
So far this morning it seems that the Climate talks in Copenhagen are in the shits with developing countries pulling the plug on negotiations with the big boys. Doesn't look good for any substantive progress.
The HCR process in the Senate has gone from bad to worse as Smokin' Joe continues is campaign to piss on anything progressive and punish all the damn liberals who wouldn't kiss is slippers in the last election.
Frankly speaking, I am beginning to believe that Gregg Levine is correct about the Senate health care reform. If what we wind up with after the Senate gets through is what it looks like now then we had just better forget the whole thing and walk away. What is developing as this country's effort at fixing our health care woes is a lot like 'burning down the village to lose the rats'.
Friday, December 11, 2009
The Definition of Screwed in Just Two Sentences
The point is that an economic team made up exclusively of callous millionaire-assholes has absolutely zero interest in reforming the gamed system that made them rich in the first place.
There’s no other way to say it: Barack Obama, a once-in-a-generation political talent whose graceful conquest of America’s racial dragons en route to the White House inspired the entire world, has for some reason allowed his presidency to be hijacked by sniveling, low-rent shitheads.
I think the last sentence pretty much distills what is making me crazy about our government.
Potato Latke or Kartoffelpuffer
Since its the beginning of Hanukkah I thought it would be fun to share a recipe for one of the traditional dishes of the season. Most Jewish cooks call these latke but if you are German(or have spent any time there) you might know them as kartoffelpuffer or potato pancake. If you have made them before using 'traditional' recipes then there is a good chance you have found them to be just a little on the heavy and slimy side. Traditional recipes just grate the potatoes and onion mix in some flour and egg and fry. While I have nothing against the 'traditional' latke I like them just a little lighter and have found that mixing the grated potato and onion with mashed potatoes produces a lighter and tastier product. Instead of grating all the potatoes I take half the potatoes and boil and mash them before adding them to the shredded potatoes. This is also a good way to use left over mashed potatoes.
3 lbs. Yukon Gold or Idaho(russet) potatoes (about 5-6 medium potatoes)
1 large onion
2 large eggs, well beaten
2-3 Tablespoons flour (or matzoh meal for a very traditional latke)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Peel all of the potatoes. If you keep the peeled potatoes covered in a bowl of water it will keep them from discoloring. Take half the potatoes and cut them into one inch cubes and boil them in salted water for about 20 minutes or until they are tender and you can insert a knife into them without resistance. Drain and pass through a food mill, ricer or take them for a spin in the food processor or use a hand masher. Set aside.
Note: if you just really don't want to go the mashed potato route and want to be more 'traditional' then you can grate all of the potatoes. You'll get better texture in the finished product if you grate a third to a half of the potatoes on the small grate side and the balance on the the large grate side.
Using a box grater shred the onion on the small grate side and the potato on the large grate side. I usually do this on the tea towel (cotton towel not terry cloth) that I will use for squeezing. After everything is grated use your hands to mix the onion and potato together as this will keep the potato from discoloring. Fold up the ends of the cloth and with the potato and onion in the center twist and squeeze as much liquid as possible from onion-potato mixture. Now put everything in a big bowl and mix it thoroughly.
Note: Rinse out the tea towel with cold water just as soon as you get the potatoes and onions out and into a bowl. The starch from the potatoes will discolor it very quickly if you don't.
Using damp hands form into palm-sized patties that are about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and set aside on waxed paper or parchment. Once you have all the patties made(you are looking for about 10) you can start frying in a large skillet in at least a 1/4 inch of corn or peanut oil (a 1/2
inch of corn oil is actually better). Traditionally, olive oil is used but I don't recommend it. If your oil is the right temperature the latke will need to cook for about 5 minutes on the first side. If they are more than slightly brown after a minute or two of cooking, your oil is too hot. After 5 minutes peek at one of the latke by lifting up the edge with your spatula, they should be a nice deep brown, if they are flip with a spatula and fork and cook on the other side for about 2 more minutes, or until dark golden brown. You want to make sure they are a nice dark brown as the sugars in the potatoes and onions will have carmelized and produced a full deep flavor. Too little browning and you have a bland latke. Not good.
Drain thoroughly on paper towels. Serve immediately with applesauce, salt, and/or sour cream.
You should get about 10 latkes from this recipe.
A few cooking notes/tips:
Use at least 1/4-1/2 inch of oil in your skillet and shoot for a temperature of about 300°F to 320°F but no hotter. Normally you fry at 350 - 375°F but that is too hot for this recipe as the latke will brown on the outside before the middle is cooked.
Really, really squeeze the shredded potatoes and onions. If you don't get as much water as you possibly can out of them you will get slimy latkes for sure.
These are really only good fresh from the frying pan. If you have to make them ahead leave them at room temperature for as much as 3-4 hours covered with paper towels(or a tea towel) and then reheat them in the oven(350°F) until they crisp back up.
The Right Wing Noise Machine Versus Climate Change
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Cajun Style Red Beans
Let me begin by saying that if you are not in New Orleans or Louisiana then finding the proper ingredients for 'real' red beans is going to be tough. Finding good andouille sausage and tasso ham or pickled pork is probably going to be impossible. Since I am in Atlanta I have to make do with what I have and can get locally so while this recipe is very good and very close, it is not real Cajun red beans only a fine substitute. You can order the real deal from Louisiana at Cajunsausage.com and it is the real deal and very good.
1 pound small red beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and checked for stones and bad beans, soaked overnight in salted water.
4 slices smoked bacon , chopped fine(substitutes for the tasso ham)
The Cajun trinity which is:
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped fine ( 1 small pepper) (I also like poblano peppers for this dish as well and it brings a small amount of heat to the party)
1/2 cup celery , chopped fine
3 cloves garlic , minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika ( I use the sweet)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme ( you can use dry but back off to 1/2 tsp)
1 bay leaf
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water and maybe a little more
1 Tsp red wine vinegar
8 ounces andouille sausage cut into 1/4-inch slices( I cut sausage in half and then in 1/4 inch bits as you want the sausage about the same size as the beans) (Whole Foods makes it in house and they also carry Wellshire Farm which is not too bad. You can order it online from Jacob's)
First the beans. The day before you are ready to cook the beans you need to soak them. A lot of people use kidney beans for their red beans but you should use the small red bean. I can get them at Kroger(house brand) and they are packaged by Goya as well. They are labeled small red bean(Frijoles Rojos Pequenos). Kidney beans don't work as they get too pasty and not creamy.
Soak the beans overnight(at least 8 hours) in 2 1/2 quarts of water and two Tbsp of Kosher salt. Adding salt to water helps the beans keep their skins intact during cooking and it also gets the salt into the bean where it belongs. After the soak you need to drain and rinse them well.
In a large pot (Dutch oven) cook the bacon pieces until it is brown and then add the trinity (peppers, celery and onion) and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add all of the seasoning and herbs, the chicken stock, water and beans. Bring to a nice simmer and cover. Cook over low heat for about an hour and a half. Add the sausage bits and the vinegar(they use pickled pork in real Cajun red beans and the vinegar brings a little acid to the party and brightens the flavor. I use the Whole Foods andouille which is raw so I brown it before I add it to the beans. If your is fully cooked then you can just add it now. Cook with the sausage in it for another 30 or 45 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the beans are nice and creamy but not broken up. You might have to add a little more water as you go if the beans get too dry or thick...use your judgement but I don't like my beans too watery. I like to be able to just barely see the beans in the pot which means only about a 1/4 inch of liquid above the beans. You can overcook beans! You don't want them mushy.
Serve over white or brown rice or just by itself as a soup. It's good over fresh cornbread as well. If you want to be a real Cajun then a few dashes of Tabasco is in order as well.
Note: If you do have access to Tasso ham then use it instead of the bacon. If you just can't get andouille sausage then kielbasa can substitute but....
Update: I added a half hour to the first phase of cooking based on my experience yesterday with my pot of beans. It all depends on how old your beans are and how long you soak them. You just have to use your own judgment and how you like your beans. I like mine with a little texture and not too much liquid.
Bageant on Obama's First Year
This frustrating ping pong game in which the margin of first-time, disenchanted and undecided voters are batted back and forth has become the whole of American elections. That makes both the Republican and Democratic parties very happy, since it keeps the game down to fighting the enemy they know, each other, as opposed to being forced to deal with the real issues, or worse yet, an independent or third party candidate who might have a solution or two.
Thus, the game is limited to two players between two corporate parties. One is the Republican Party, which believes we should hand over our lives and resources directly to the local Chamber of Commerce, so the chamber can deliver them to the big corporations. The other, the Democratic Party, believes we should hand our lives and resources to a Democratic administration — so it alone can deliver our asses to the big dogs who own the country. In the big picture it’s always about who gets to deliver the money to the Wall Street hyena pack.
Americans may be starting to get the big picture about politics, money and corporate power. But I doubt it. Given that most still believe the war on terrorism is real, and that terrorists always just happen to be found near gas and oil deposits, there is plenty of room left to blow more smoke up their asses. Especially considering how we are conditioned to go into blind fits of patriotism at the sight of the flag, an eagle, or the mention of “our heroes,” even if the heroes happen to be killing and maiming Muslim babies at the moment. Patriotism is a cataract that blinds us to all national discrepancies.
Same goes for climate change. The latest polls show that the majority of Americans no longer feel the science is 'good enough' which means the disinformation campaign by the mouth breathers is having its intended effect. I will continue to do what I can to change the tide but I am feeling less and less encouraged by what I am seeing. It's all rather depressing and everyday I feel like 'the stupid' is winning.
I had such high hopes for this country/world at one time and now it seems rather hopeless. Don't get me wrong...I'll keep doing my part and where I can, effect change, but it tilting at windmills seems the order of the day.
So as is my wont I am going to turn to my normal distraction and go cook. I am going to go bake some bread and get my red beans going for Cajun red beans and rice. Yeah I know it is not Monday but for some reason it just feels like what I need. If anyone is interested I will share my method for this great Cajun dish. It is not vegan since it requires a liittle bacon and andouille to be authentic. You can, of course, leave out the meat and just have red beans and rice which is very good as well, but just not Cajun.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Pissing Off the Liberals Because They Can
And boy, is it effective! Those liberals sure get steamed when they think about how reckless behavior will result in millions of unnecessary deaths. They blow smoke out their ears when you drive around in an SUV precisely to show how little you give a shit if worldwide drought creates worldwide war. They may be smarter and cooler than you, but by being a mega-watt asshole of sociopathic proportions, you gain the upper hand because you piss them off. There are a lot of ways to piss liberals off. You can be pointlessly racist or sexist. You can sniff around in people’s private lives and carry on about how vegetarians are stupid. But few things really can top the global warming denialism. The sheer magnitude of the damage that it does is so severe that it’s impossible for liberals not to get upset. And so you win!
Amanda's post is well worth it if you, like me, can't seem to understand what makes the global warming deniers so stubborn and generally whacked out on the subject of climate change. As Digby notes...when you boil it down, pissing off liberals seems to be their only motivation.
Looking forward to watching it tonight on a very cold and rainy day. Just what the doctor ordered.
Public Option Dead?
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Minestrone, Hearty Italian Soup
1 28 oz. canned plum tomatoes with juice (try to find San Marzano from Italy) fresh plum tomatoes will work too of course and if you have them you will need about 10.
3 medium carrots
2 medium leeks (very nice but not absolutely necessary)
4 -5 ribs of celery
2 medium onions (red or sweet are best)
1 small head of savoy cabbage (you can use regular cabbage but it is stronger in flavor and if you want you can substitute fresh spinach or kale instead of cabbage.)
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (if you only have dried then use half as much)
3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable but the chicken is best)
14 oz can of white beans (cannellini or garbanzo) optional (drained, rinsed, drained)
1 cup(handful) of fresh basil, torn into small bits (if you only have dried basil then a tablepoon will do the job but fresh is really best)
6 oz small pasta, (elbows, ditalini, etc. or even spaghetti broken up into inch pieces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese, grated(Parmigiano Reggiano is best)
Get all of your vegetables chopped. Using only the white and light green part of the leeks, quarter lengthwise, rinse well and chop. Cut your celery in half lengthwise and chop. Quarter lengthwise and chop the carrots. Chop the onions and garlic. Core and roughly chop the cabbage. It's important when preparing all of the vegetable that they wind up about the same size so that they will cook evenly. I like it when they are about 1/2 inch or so.
Put the carrots, leeks, celery, onion, garlic and rosemary into a heavy bottomed soup pot like a Dutch oven with about two tablespoons of olive oil and cook over medium heat until just tender (maybe15 minutes). Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the stock, bring back to the boil and add the pasta and simmer for 15 minutes to cook the pasta. Add the cabbage, cover the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes. Now you can add the basil and canned beans (if using) and bring it all back to the simmer and cook for 5 additional minutes. Adjust for salt and pepper. The soup will be pretty thick since the pasta will thicken it quite a bit. It is really important not to overcook the cabbage, it should still have its fresh dark green color.
Serve with good crusty bread or drizzle the sliced bread with olive oil and toast in a hot oven (400F) for 10 - 15 minutes (my favorite). It is nice to drizzle some additional olive oil over each bowl right as you serve it. Serve a bowl of grated Parmesan on the table for those that wish it.
Update: Madam pointed out that I meant cannellini beans not cannelloni beans. Cannelloni beans are hard to find and making them yourself is a real pain...stuffing each bean with marscapone.
Indian Pudding Redux
I am not sure how much this really has to do with "Native Americans" but I can imagine that when my ancestors were being saved from their folly by the natives they were offered some variation of a slowly cooked cornmeal dish made with suet and possibly dried fruit or berries. The "Indian" version was probably the result of just having corn mush cooked over an open fire for hours and sweetened with what was at hand.
This recipe is very old fashioned and today you find myriad variations. This one is basic and was first published in a cookbook by Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife first published in 1829. I got this recipe from Julia Child's book Julia Child and Company published in 1979. Julia says they are from a different line of Childs.
This recipe makes about 6 cups of pudding and makes a simple but wonderful dessert with the addition of a little lightly sweetened whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream. Not too shabby with a traditional cooked English custard sauce either.
1/4 cup of corn meal (stone ground is best)
2 cups of cold milk (you can use low fat)
2 or 3 Tb of unsalted butter, lard or beef suet
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
2 tsp powdered ginger (make sure it is still fragrant)
1/2 cup of dark unsulphured molasses
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, coarsely grated (should be about a cup)
1 cup of additional milk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put the cornmeal in a heavy bottomed 2 quart sauce pan and gradually whisk in the 2 cups of milk. Put the pot over medium heat, add the butter, salt, ginger and molasses. Gradually bring to a boil stirring with the wire whisk to make sure it is nice and smooth. Once at the boil add the apple and then simmer for about 15 minutes more stirring frequently to keep it from scorching on the bottom. You should wind up with a think porridge like mixture.
Pour your pudding mixture in into a buttered 2 quart baking dish and set it uncovered in the middle of the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes or until it bubbles. Stir it and add 1/2 cup of the additional milk and blend it in. Clean the sides of the dish with a heat proof spatula and return the dish to the oven turning down the temperature to 250 degrees and cook it for another hour and a half to two hours. Remove from the oven and stir as before scraping down the sides as well. This time pour the additional 1/2 cup of milk over the top but don't stir it in. It is going to form a dark skin on the pudding as you cook it for another 3 or 4 hours.
This needs to be served warm so if you are not ready to serve it can be kept covered in a warm oven for a while.
Serve this thick brown sauce like dessert with the whipped cream, ice cream or custard. I imagine in the old days it was just served with some heavy cream and maybe some sugar.
You can make this ahead a day or two and just reheat in a water bath. This is earthy and elemental and a far cry from the sweet desserts we know today.
I know this seems like a long time from beginning to end but actual hands time on is small. This is slow food and you cannot get the same result by speeding up the process as many modern recipes try and do. This is way our ancestors cooked, trying to make the best out of some lowly ingredients. It is worth the trouble.
Slim 'Really' Fast
If you having a slow day and need a little excitement...not only do they taste really bad but now Slim-Fast diet drinks can cause diarrhea and possibly nausea and/or vomiting due to possible contamination with Bacillus cereus. Sounds serious. Seriously!
Unilever Conducts Nationwide Voluntary Recall of Slim-Fast® Ready-to-Drink Products in Cans Due to Possible Health Risk
Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 3, 2009 – Unilever United States, Inc., in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is conducting a nationwide voluntary recall of all Slim-Fast® ready-to-drink (RTD) products in cans, due to the possibility of contamination with Bacillus cereus, a micro-organism, which may cause diarrhea and possibly nausea and/or vomiting. The probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.
The products were sold in stores nationwide.
Britain's Greenest Town
Wee Bit O' Snow
Worried About GMO Foods?
The Institute for Responsible Technology and the Center for Food Safety have put out a Non GMO Shopping Guide that can help as well. You can download it here.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Come On Texas
Tests administered to Mr. Woods over the years placed his I.Q. between 68 and 86, prompting a bitter debate between his lawyers and the state over whether he was too impaired to face execution. The state and federal courts repeatedly sided with prosecutors.Those of you who have been here any length of time know that I am 100% against capital punishment and 200% against it when there is any question whatsoever about the validity of the conviction. This is just sad. What does it say about Texas that an IQ of 68 to 86 is not considered mentally impaired? If I was a Texan I would be insulted not to mention ashamed.
The debate reflects the gray area left by the Supreme Court in 2002, when it ruled that the mentally impaired were not eligible for the death penalty but left it up to state courts to interpret which inmates qualified as impaired.
Finally Some Good News
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
We will likely see further erosion in the job market tomorrow when the official numbers come out and more and more economists are looking at the entire year of 2010 as stagnant or even a worsening jobs picture. Even Krugman is starting to mention the dreaded 'double dip' recession possibility.
I am afraid that all of the momentum and positive energy reflected on the left after last year's election has been wasted. The Obama administration was too timid in addressing the need for economic stimulus and it is clearly obvious that they took the 'Wall Street Way' and not the 'Main Street Way' when tackling the Bush economic disaster. The timidity has now granted the deficit hawks the upper hand and going back to the well for additional and necessary stimulus is not in the cards.
I expect any day now to hear the talking heads start to redefine the 'normal'. Nine or ten percent unemployment is the new 'norm'. Hungry is the new 'norm' for millions more Americans. Homeless will be the new 'norm' for millions of Americans. Everlasting war will be the new 'norm'.
I am beginning to believe that material change is not possible within the current system. The politicians and corporate leaders need the status quo as it is what makes their pleasant lives and existence possible. If we got the change we really need in this country one of the first things to go would be them and they know it. It is in their vested interest to keep their feet on our necks and nothing short of a revolution is going to change anything and the needed changes most surely won't be a result of top down effort.
It is just time to do what you can to insulate yourself from the 'matrix' as best you can. Don't expect the 'leadership' to tell you to quit buying useless crap or grow your own food or live more simply, you just need to do it. The only way we are going to be able to change things is from the bottom up and that is going to mean individual and incremental effort to rebel against what we have been taught to do which is use and abuse our world and live beyond the world's ability to sustain. It may already be too late but I am going to feel better for the effort.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Original Wealth Versus Original Debt
It's a rather long article but here is a snippet:
Keynes, like most economists at the time, believed that investment runs the economy. The more money made available for investment, the more the economy could grow, even if that investment money was borrowed. “We’re borrowing from ourselves,” the saying went. Unfortunately, what this really meant was that “we the people” would end up owing large sums of money to “we the very, very few people.”
In contrast, the “raw materials economists” like Wilken tried to make the point that no economy could be based on debt. The foundation of a healthy economy, he argued, was “earned income based on the parity monetization of raw materials,” meaning that real wealth comes from the tangible products we bring forth from the earth, AND a fair price paid to those who do the extracting. An exacting mathematician, Wilken came up with a formula that would accurately predict America’s national income fourteen years running: National income was always roughly seven times the farm income.
He explained it this way: The earth is the only producer of “original wealth,” meaning that the earth gives her yield without charging interest. Each season, new wealth is infused into the economy. The farmer is the first earner and first spender of that wealth, which “reverberates” through the economy. The farmer pays the feed storeowner, pays for farm equipment, and buys clothes, etc., fueling the prosperity throughout the local community. Meanwhile, as this new harvest is distributed more people make money and more communities benefit, all the way down to the local grocer or supermarket. Think of it this way. If there were no food to sell, Whole Foods would have to call themselves Whole Nothing. Food is the basic “fuel” for our economy because it is the most constantly and consistently consumed item.
Consider further that if a farmer raises 100 bushels of corn and gets paid $10 a bushel, that infuses $1,000 into the economy. But what if -- in the name of lower food prices -- the farmer only gets $5 a bushel? That means that only $500 is infused into the economy, half as much. To prove his point, Wilken pointed to the farm income in 1929 -- the last year before the Depression -- and in 1932. Farm income dropped from $11 billion in 1929 to $5 billion in 1932, and yet production remained the same! The only difference was a loss in buying power.