Archive for June, 2006

My blog has schizophrenia

26 June 2006

Changing gears again.

I’m about to share with you something wondrous.

No, it doesn’t involve nudity, sticks of butter, or whole cloves of garlic, despite the fact that most wondrous things involve at least one of the above.

If you’ve ever spent time in the South, or are from the South, or are fortunate enough to have the acquaintance of a true Southerner, you’ll know instantly what I’m talking about.

And no, by true Southerner, I don’t mean the hate-filled bigots like Trent Lott or Bill Frist that our media presents as icons of the South. Nay, these are not true Southerners and we should repudiate their claims to that identity forcefully and repeatedly. A true Southerner is someone of inimitable grace and hospitality, an easy wit, and unmatched gentility. And chances are, they have their grandma’s recipe for sweet tea.

Southern sweet tea is a thing of beauty. Strongly-brewed tea without a hint of bitterness, brewed in a simple syrup for an extended period, then diluted with cold water and served on ice.

Since I only have 2 liter pitchers around the house, I will give an appropriately-proportioned recipe. If you have a gallon pitcher, just double the sugar and tea bags in the same amount of boiling water, and use the appropriate amount of water to dilute the mother liquor to strength.

Southern Sweet Tea, recipe based on various internet sources and my own recollections.

4-5 tea bags (use strong, cheap tea, like Lipton’s or Luzianne)
.5 C white sugar
pinch of baking soda

To a small, lidded saucepan, add the sugar and enough water to come 2/3 of the way up the side of the pan. Bring to a rolling but not vigorous boil. Kill the heat, then toss in the baking soda and the tea bags. The tea and baking soda will provide nucleation sites for boiling, so expect a vigorous reaction, especially if you’re not quick about killing the heat. Quickly and tightly cover the saucepan, and allow to steep at least an hour. Preferably, if you want sweet tea for the afternoon or for dinner, start the tea a-seeping at breakfast. After seeping, pour the mother liquor (your steeped tea syrup, minus the bags) into a 2 liter (~2 quart) pitcher and fill the remaining space in the pitcher with cold water. Serve over ice, preferably within three days. It will keep up to a week, but the taste goes south (heh heh) after about three days. Not that it’ll last that long.

Best enjoyed on a porch or in the backyard, wearing a straw-brimmed hat and seersucker suit (red tie, of course).

Changing Gears…

12 June 2006

Ginmar's post tonight is the most thought-provoking thing I've read in a while. To wit:

"Treating people as human is not optional. If you don't do that, you yourself are not human. " 

"You recognize the luxury you live in, but then what? It's easy to make some people villains. It's not so easy when the villain is yourself, and when the villainy consists of blindness."

"What is a government for but to protect its people? If the most vulnerable are left without assitance, can one be surprised when their desperation makes them do desperate things? "

"Since when did doing good become a question of merely avoiding harm? Since when is not being actively evil the definition of a good person?" 

 "If we're human, don't we have the responisibility to be humane?"

I certainly don't have an answer to her dilemma. I come from a long line of people whose ethos is defined by serving others. I helped built a shelter/home/turnaround facility for the homeless as part of my Eagle Scout project and also as a summer thing when I was home after my first year at Georgetown. Nevertheless, I still lead a life of hideous privilege compared to most people in the world and a hell of a lot of people in the United States.

 Story time: Several years ago, my aunt was into Beanie Babies. They were the hot item to collect, and many places used them in promotions for business. McDonald's had mini-Beanies that came with Happy Meals, and to collect the whole set, my aunt (usually with Ma and I along for the ride), would buy a ton of happy meals just for the mini-Beanies. Of course, that meant we had got a car full of food that we didn't want and didn't need. Because it was the best thing we could think of to do, we took it to the homeless people that congregate in a local park. They were amazed and more than a little grateful for the bounty of cheeseburgers and fries we deposited upon them. But, something like that doesn't even begin to approach charity: we were entertaining a selfish, materialistic desire and had some small bit of consideration that led to us passing out McD's bags. And that was more than any of them had any hope to expect. And, on the continuum of charity, what we did is a lot more than most Americans would. When I suggested that Dad bring an entire uneaten turkey from Thanksgiving 2002 (we had made two) to a homeless shelter, you'd've thought I suggested we invite them in for a Wild Turkey on the rocks and an orgy.

This is an issue that, although most people have some consciousness of the severity, we easily and routinely put out of our minds. I get irritated that my summer hours, and therefore my paycheck, are cut in half, when on the grand scheme of things I have no need for the money. Our government spends billions at the blink of an eye on crap that will mostly line the pockets of GOP contributors, but balks at parting with a buck to help people for whom that buck would make the difference between eating something and going hungry again.

How is it that we put human need aside to appease petty desires? How can any of us who know where our next meal is coming from stand to stockpile goods in our homes when even a small bit of it, given by each person, could easily end hunger here and abroad? What can we do to change it that's not just taking a few grains of sand off the beach?

Things that are going to keep me awake as I lay my head on a down pillow and wait for the RAZR cell phone to awaken me so I can drive my car to my academic job overlooking the ocean.

I cook like a faggot!

6 June 2006

And I'm damn proud of it, too.

Today's dinner menu:

Suprêmes de Volaille à l'Écossaise

Purée de Pommes de Terre à L'Ail et Le Romarin

Really, 'twas just sautéed chicken breasts with aromatic vegetables and cream with a side of rosemary and roasted garlic mashed potatoes, but it sounds impossibly posh to say those overly-accented phrases above. And no, I don't believe in eating vegetables, so there. Julia Child has been good to me so far. This is probably the fourth or fifth meal I've made from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and each has been better than the last. Usually my sauces turn out somewhat lackluster, but this time the combination of cooking juices, mirepoix (equal proportions of carrot, onion and celery), vermouth, beef stock, butter and cream came together beautifully. The taste was rather splendid, and it had an excellent mouth feel. Look at me, using phrases like 'mouth feel'; how pretentious.

Oh, and I made the mashed potatoes from some purple potatoes I found at the farmer's market last week. So it was a rather surreal-looking meal. In the future I'll have to take photographs in an homage to Aunt Twisty's Morsel Institute.

As a side note, it is unbelievably difficult to buy meat stocks, made from bones and meat, around here. All that the grocery stores carry is broth, made from only bones. I did manage to find beef stock, so go me. We reeeeally need a Whole Foods or Fresh Fields or even a real Trader Joe's around here. The TJ's we have is itty bitty and doesn't carry much in the way of fresh produce, decreasing its utility significantly. Next on my list of foods to conquer is Soupe à L'Oignon, better known simply as french onion soup. A restaurant that makes a good french onion soup goes far atop my list of favorites and I have been known to make squeaky noises of appreciation for an especially fine specimen. The other day, Alton Brown made french onion soup on Good Eats and it made me salivate profusely. So, armed with the TiVo remote and a bushel of onions, I will set out on my sweet soupy journey. Sweeeeet.

Something to Pass the Time

6 June 2006

10 Bands You’ve Seen Live:
1. Sarah MacLachlan
2. Sixpence None the Richer
3. The Pretenders
4. Sheryl Crow
5. Backstreet Boys
6. *NSYNC
7. Céline Dion
8. Diamond Rio
9. Reba McIntire
10. Elton John

9 Things You’re Looking Forward To:
1. The Fourth of July in Catalina
2. Recreating On Golden Pond in Maine
3. The ‘joint communication’ between Magnolia Lodge and Fraternity Lodge
4. Writing my MA thesis
5. Getting into PhD programs
6. Participating in the 4th of July Golf Cart Parade in Catalina (you’ve not known campy until…)
7. Going to my cousin’s wedding on Saturday
8. My next payday
9. Getting the fire clearance done on the cabin (and getting rid of the poison oak rash I’ve got from the process)

8 Things You Wear Daily:
1. Underwear
2. The watch my cousin got me for graduation
3. Gym shorts (okay, so every other day)
4. Pants (unless it’s one of those days)
5. Deodorant
6. Aveda Be Curly (keeps the friz from exploding)
7. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15
8. Socks

7 Things That Annoy You
1. The President
2. The mainstream media
3. Anti-abortion protesters that demonstrate just how much they value the sanctity and dignity of life by making 4′ by 6′ posters of aborted fetuses.
4. Dry-cleaners that try to press the wrinkles out of seersucker
5. Conservatives that think women should be public property
6. Liberals that think women should be private property.
7. Southerners that claim the Civil War was about states’ rights.

6 Things You Touch Every Day
1. **ahem**
2. My PowerBook
3. Edna’s steering wheel
4. Sam the cat
5. Allie the cat
6. My shower knobs

5 Things You Do Every Day
1. **ahem**
2. Some sort of physical activity
3. Sing in the car
4. Read blogs
5. Listen to music

4 Of Your Favorite Bands or Musicians
1. Elton John
2. Howie Day
3. Céline Dion
4. Dixie Chicks

3 Movies You Could Watch Over and Over
1. The Broken Hearts Club
2. Fried Green Tomatoes
3. Star Trek: First Contact

2 Of Your Favorite Songs At This Moment
1. Ama Credi e Vai [Love, Believe & Go] (Andrea Bocelli)
2. Sugar We’re Goin’ Down (Fall Out Boy)

1 Person You Could Spend The Rest of Your Life With
1. In terms of being able to coexist? Jen’s probably the only person I could spend years at a time with and not club with a tire iron.

It’s Always Time for Cava

2 June 2006

Well, the friends I was supposed to go out with tonight bailed on me, so I sit alone with a bottle of bubbly. Oh sure, I could go out on my own, but 1) I'm far too shy, 2)It's almost 70 miles roundtrip, which puts me more than $10 in the hole before I even pay for parking or a drink, and 3) Cost Plus World Market had a very nice Spanish Cava (I know, thats redundant, like Italian Prosecco or French Champagne) for only $6. So, me, a flute, a bottle of Cava, and the Internets. How fabulous.

Be not sorry for me, however. Last night a friend and I went and had dinner at the WeHo Hamburger Mary's for karaoke night. It was a barrel of laughs; they have good food, and our waiter was hot, nice and could sing (qualities, especially the first two, that are exceedingly rare to have in combination in the L.A. Basin). So I've had some measure of excitement this week.

 I also have to be up at o-dark-hundred to finish up the fire clearance at the cabin. This time we're being smart and bringing the weed whacker, because the thought of bending over and picking one. more. fucking. weed. is enough to make me want to forsake the flute and drink Cava straight gayly from the bottle.

A propops of nothing, I love lesbians. I wish I could be a lesbian. Lesbians rock my socks off. I'd marry a lesbian in a heartbeat. Always so much more down to earth and thoughtful than the little gay boys that sprout up from the earth like the aforementioned weeds. Have you hugged your favorite lesbian today?

 And in case you were wondering, no, that wasn't a drunk ramble. I've had maybe half a glass of Cava, which for a Jesuit-trained liver, might as well be a spritz of Evian.

Did you know "Evian" spelled backwards in "naive"? Tells you something, don't it?

Seacrest out. Heh heh, 'out.' Oh, the day that flaming trainwreck comes out of the closet…