Thursday, December 10, 2009

Explosive Chewing Gum?

A new terrorist weapon?

Nope. Just a new method of winning a Darwin Award.

What next?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sweet Curry Something

It's a dip. It's a spread. It's a relish. It's a dressing. It's...whatever you need it to be. Best of all, it's easy.

I don't usually measure by regular teaspoon/cup kind of volumes. I eyeball it, and if it looks good, I use it. But that doesn't translate well for most people, so I'll use various types of balls for measurements and see how well that works. And keep in mind that my method of cooking is open to interpretation and the personal touch.

First, you really need a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. And wooden stirring impliments.

a golf ball of finely chopped red or yellow onion (not sweet)
oil/ghee to cover bottom of pot
two baseball sized tomatoes, finely chopped
two heaping coffee spoons of masala*
a golf ball of honey

Heat the dry pot to medium, then add oil when pot is hot. Add onion immediately, stir with wooden spoon, and keep stirring occasinally until onion starts to caramelize and turn brown.

Add tomatoes, cooking and stirring for about five minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down and go mushy.

Add the masala. Cook and stir another five minutes until the mixture feels thick and smells wonderful.

Add the honey. Mix well. Wait till it starts to bubble, then put the lid on, turn the heat down to the lowest setting, and let simmer about forty minutes without peeking. It's not going anywhere.

After forty minutes, do a taste test. If it's too spicy, add a little more honey to adjust the flavor. If it's too sweet, add a little more masala (but if you do this, you need to let it keep cooking at least another ten minutes; raw masala is not recommended for your digestive system).

It should be thick-ish, and dark red/brown in color. If you think it's too thin, you can let it cook a little longer with the lid off to reduce it; but it will also thicken a little more as it cools.

You can use it hot or cold on meat, vegetables, rice, pasta, bread -- just about everything except ice cream (and I won't make any bets about that, either).

*Masala is an Indian spice blend. You can get powder blends and paste blends; and they come in hot, medium, and mild. Which one you use is up to you. For my first batch, I used an MDH brand powdered chana masala blend (it's fairly hot). You can also use any of Patak's curry paste blends.

This "recipe" is only a guide. Adjust it to your own tastes.


Sunday, November 15, 2009


...and how I make it. Hint: I take short cuts. You can, too.

The word "vindaloo" actually comes from Portugal, like the original dish. It means, "cooked with wine and garlic." Several decades and added variations from local cooks later, it has come to mean much, much more than that. These days, it means intense, concentrated, and focused flavor, full of wonderfully aromatic spices.

And you can get those spices in a jar. At least, that's where I get them.

Patak's brand is a friend of mine. Most grocery stores with international clientelle will stock them. There are verly likely other brands. This is the one I like. You can use the one you like.

So, on to cooking...

You really do need a dutch oven with a heavy bottom and tight-fitting lid. If you don't have one, you might try using what you've got, but be prepared for some burning and bitterness.

While you're rough-chopping a couple of medium-sized cooking onions, start the heat (medium) under the dutch oven. When it reaches temperature (and not until then!) cover the bottom with a cooking oil that has a high smoking point. I use olive oil exclusively. You use whatever you like, including ghee, which is traditional. (I do not recommend using canola or corn oils!) Dump the whole pile of chopped onions into the pot immediately after the oil -- do not wait for the oil to heat up. That would cause burning.

Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until they start to go golden brown. Meantime, chop up some fresh tomatoes (about four to six medium) and set them aside. Then chop some vegetables. I generally use carrots, rutabaga, and potatoes. Sometimes broccoli, green beans...whatever is handy and fresh and fairly firm, anything that can stew over time without falling apart (squash, for example, would not be something I'd choose to put into it, but cooking is an individual thing, and if you like squash, go ahead and use it).

How much? Oh...that's the part that's gonna be totally up to you. I used four large carrots, half a fairly large rutabaga, and two really big baking potatoes, cut up in bite-sized chunks.

If you don't like rutabage, you can leave it out and add more carrots or potatoes or something else entirely. Ignore what your mama told you: PLAY with your food!

So. The onions are turning golden brown, and it's time to add the spice paste. For a full batch in a dutch oven, I use about half a jar. That makes it fairly hot without being impossibly hot. Use less if your mouth isn't acclimated. Add the paste and mix it really, really well with the onions and oil for a couple of minutes. Inhale the steam and appreciate what your nose tells you. Aaaaaaahhhhh...

Now add the veggies, a little at a time or all at once; it's up to you. I generally chop and add as I go -- carrots first (because they take longer to cook), then rutabaga, then the potatoes. Mix well to coat everything thoroughly with the spice mix.

Then add the tomatoes. Stir to mix. Then, when it's all covered with that wonderfully aromatic blend, add only enough water to barely cover everything. Turn up the heat to high in order to start it boiling. When it reaches a boil, put the lid on.

Now...this is the reason for the tight-fitting lid...spin the lid. If it does not spin freely, wait a few seconds and try again. Keep trying until that lid spins freely, riding on a cushion of steam generated from the boiling liquid inside the pot. Then, and only then, turn down the heat to a minimum simmer and go do something else for an hour.

After an hour (and leave it alone until then), test the veggies for doneness. I usually find them to be al dente, which is fine. If you prefer them to be softer, continue cooking awhile longer.

At any rate, this is the stage where I dump in a can of drained and thoroughly-rinsed chick peas, and just let them continue to cook for another half hour or longer. You can skip this, if you like. You're the cook, which means you're the boss.

I ladle this stew over a pile of rice and serve with any kind of bread, salad, and condiments happen to be available.


Afterthought: Yes, you can use meat. In fact, most people do use meat. I made this for a potluck where food sensitivities can sometimes be an issue. If you do use meat, add it right after you put in the vindaloo paste and just before you add the vegetables.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A new ballad by Shelley Rabinovitch, paying tribute to those who have gone before:

Is there someone who still speaks your name with regret?
Are there flowers for you on this shore?
Is your name whispered soft on Remembrance Day?
I swore then he'd lie lonely no more.
Crosses on stone, tears mixed with bone.

Go. Read.

Wear a poppy until 11:00 am on 11 November, then retire it to a field of honor.

And thank your ancestors in whatever manner your heart tells you. Thank all of them. Even the ones you didn't like or those with whom you disagreed. Because without them, and what they did with their own lives -- whether they did good or bad -- you would not be here as you are now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This One's For You, Suzanne

Suzanne, over at Big Blue Wave, is one of those people who gets easily sucked in to all kinds of propaganda -- as long as it's being perpetrated by those who have declared war on a woman's right to choose her own body's reproductivity.

She likes to publish posters and pictures of "aborted fetuses."

Maybe this article -- with accompanying photographs -- will wake her up to the fact that she is being used.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Three Sisters

Three Sisters is the collective name for basic food crops that were planted by American Indians long before industrialized food production and farm factories came into being. The three foods were corn, beans, and squash. And these were the staples of life.

Clearly illustrated instructions on how and why to plant your own Three Sisters garden can be found here, along with a list of the optimum varieties of each Sister.

Heritage varieties, as well as history, can be found here. And, of course, good old Wikipedia.

I've made a couple of different versions of Three Sisters stew/soup. The first time, I made a soup stock from a smoked picnic bone with a fair amount of meat left on it and all the skin, as well. Lotsa minerals in the bone. And lotsa gelatin in the skin. Making the stock was no more complicated than putting the bone and skin into a kettle/cauldron/stock pot/dutch oven, keeping it covered with water, and simmering the hell out of it all day, while I did other things. Multitasking: I can do that.

Once I figure I've got every ounce of soluble nutritional benefit from the bone and skin, I discard them. Oh, you could give the bone to the dog, if you have one, but he won't thank you for it -- there's nothing left for him, not even flavor. It's all in the stock, where it belongs.

To this nice, richly flavored stock, I add: three 19-ounce cans of beans*, drained and thoroughly rinsed (this is important)**, about half a medium buttercup squash, seeded, peeled, and cubed, and some frozen kernel corn, using one of the empty bean cans as a measure. I also add a couple of chopped medium cooking onions, and maybe some celery, if I've got it. Yes, all at once.

That's it. I bring it to a boil, turn the heat down to simmer, and let it stew merrily away for about an hour, stirring occasionally, when I think about it.

Don't look for measurements. The kitchen is my playground, and I never measure anything.

The second version involves a vegan stock: cut the root end off a couple of cooking onions (red, yellow, or white, it does not matter which), leave the skin on, and cut them into quarters; put them in the stock pot. Follow that with a whole head of garlic, cut in half through all the cloves, and leaving the skins on. Add celery, carrot, wilted greens, whatever is in the fridge. If it's in your fridge, you must like it, so pop it into the pot. You can even add apple cores; I did -- I cut the core out of a quartered apple I was going to eat and just tossed it into the stock pot without thinking. It worked out just fine. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer. I added a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, basil, thyme, and parsley, and while it was making stock, it drove me and my neighbors crazy! About the only things I do not use for making stock are potatoes and other flavor-deadening vegetables like broccoli, beans, and cauliflower. I might put them in the soup or stew, but I never use them to make stock.

Vegan stock takes much less time than a meat stock -- about an hour, no more. Discard all the semi-solid vegetable matter (if you compost, it's perfect for that), and your stock is ready for use.

Then add the beans, the squash, the corn. If you like, you can also add freshly chopped onion and celery.

The number of combinations and varieties of the Three Sisters you can use are pretty much endless. And the amounts of each ingredient you use are pretty much up to you.

And it's always better the next day. If it lasts that long. Always.


*I use canned beans for two reasons. The first one is that it saves time and it's convenient.
The second reason is that with dried beans, their age will determine how long they need to soak and how long it takes them to cook properly, and there is no way to tell how old those beans are. I once tried for three days to cook some red kidney beans, before I gave up.

**Canned, dried beans like kidney beans and chick peas and others like them contain an enzyme that makes the beans ferment in the gut instead of digesting properly. This can produce the most excrutiating pain while it's on its way to producing the most obnoxious gas known to chemical warfare! Pour the canned beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly under running water until they stop foaming. Seriously. Your gut will thank you. So will your neighbors.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Death Care In Canadeath

I dunno 'bout everyone else, but I'm more than a little astonished that American opponents of universal health care and access to doctors and medicine and stuff like that there are actually pointing fingers and calling it "Death Care."

Like if you go to a doctor on a socialized medical plan, his sole aim is to kill you. And you had better not protest it, because somebody else is being forced to pay for it.

Blogger Audrey II, with her tongue firmly in her cheek, expands on that theme.

We "live" in Canadeath. Being born only to finally die. Wonder what people in other countries do when they're finished living?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In Conflict With Karma

I've said before that I don't buy into the idea of Karma.

One of the precepts of Scathach is, "Create your own reality."

You cannot do that if you embrace the principles of karma, which says that all has been pre-determined, and removes the possibility of being master of your own fate.

Think about it.

I Luuuuuuurvs A Good Rant

And this one by Lu Cifer is good!

"You've taken the clinically insane spewings of a woman literally to the right of Hitler (pardon my Godwins) and the 1984-like vision of a dystopian author and convinced yourselves that would be a good place to live. Big business is the enemy of the people, always has been. The ideal for the corporate class is to have a small pool of people rich enough to buy their fucking crap and a much larger pool of people so poor and with so few options that they can be used and abused at the corporation's whim."

I'd quote more excerpts, but I'd end up reprinting the entire article, and you'd have no reason to go follow the link. So go follow the link.

Er...possibly not work safe, depending on where you work... :wink:

Sunday, August 30, 2009


No one understands it. Not even those of us who are affected by it.

We can "control" it -- essentially that means we can dampen its immediate effects on the body -- with drugs. Most of the time. But not always.

And each depressive is different, because people are unique. Some people who are clinically depressed have a tendency to break into tears unexpectedly, uncontrollably.

Not me. I have the interesting urge to go for the throat of the next person who pisses me off and sink my teeth in.

Kinda like Dexter. With a little Nick Knight thrown in. Those guys I understand. "Anger Management" is for pussies.

Suddenly, I'm hungry.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I just figured out the difference between those who proselytize -- religion or anything else -- and those who don't.

The ability and courage to walk alone.

Proselytizers fear being alone. They cannot be comfortable with just themselves for company. They fear silence. Solitude makes them unstable. They actively need the emotional support of someone else with whom they share ideals on a visceral level: think-mates.

This is an idea in development. More to come later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pogo Was Right

Reproductive choice. It's a big rope in the current tug-of-war over health care in the United States. There are those who insist that reproductive choice be included in the deal and then there are those who say, "Nuh-uh, the human race will die out if we allow women to choose whether or not they become mothers! We have to force them to do it!"

'Scuze me? Over somebody's dead body, bub! And I can assure you, it won't be mine!

Somewhere recently, I read that about 78% of the anti-choicers are men, 100% of whom will never be pregnant. That's a very interesting point, but I'm not sure it has any real purpose except for those who collect statistics. Not being subject to the proposed laws, what men think really is beside the point, whether they are pro choice or anti choice. Oh, I suppose that even in this day and age, some men still think they can control the lives and thoughts of women; and I have no doubt that there are some sly women who are content to let them think that.

On the other hand, that says that 22% of the anti-choicers are women! Women who want to subject other women to the slavery of no voice and no vote when it comes to the governing of the bodies in which they live! Traitors to their very gender. Subversives.

The Enemy.

And no, I don't think that's too strong a word.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Need More Hours In A Day

And more days in a week. Oy!

I did the Ride-The-Canada-Line-For-Free thingy yesterday, it's opening day. What a crush! Standing in line in the sun for three hours for the dubious pleasure of being one of the first to ride the new train that connects Richmond to Waterfront (and mostly underground, at that) was not one of my brighter ideas, I have to admit. I mean, it's not like I have grandchildren to whom I can tell "I was there when..." stories. But my trip home -- via the West Coast Express and the new Golden Ears Bridge -- was comfortable, at least.

The down side is that I got absolutely nothing else done.

Ask me if I care.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bear With

It's taking a little time to get my art hung in here. That sidebar looks awfully bare, I know, I know. I'm working on it...

Meantime, if you're looking for someplace interesting to engage in some thoughtful discussions, try Religion Clause. Professor Friedman tends to focus on issues regarding the American First Amendment, but he also links to international stories whenever religion and the law and/or the rights of individuals happen to coincide.

Then, if you want to have a little fun in the other direction, try poking Big Blue Wave. She's an absolute anti-choice, anti-feminist, Opus Dei-type Catholic PITA, and until she starts sounding like a broken record, she can be pretty diverting. For awhile. I'm not gonna guarantee you won't want to sharpen your teeth in anticipation of meeting her throat, though. I've felt like that a couple times, myself, when it comes to her and her type.

And, just to be friendly, go say hi to my friend Jean, all the way over in Moscow, Idaho! Among other things, she provides some of the best food porn I've ever seen! And ya gotta love a blog titled, "JeanC's Cat House And Shooting Society: Fat Witch With A Gun!"

Back soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


is wrong with Twitter?

Hey, guys. If yaz want me to keep using it and not go to your competitor, yaz better get yer damned act togther, 'kay?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hare Krishna

I like going to the festivals and celebrations of cultures other than my own. I especially like going if there's music, food, dance, and costumes. I can play all day in another culture's atmosphere Especially if there's music, food, dance, and costumes!

I went to the Festival of India yesterday (Biffy calls it the Hare Krishna Festival). Before and during the parade, it rained and misted all over the place. But as soon as the parade reached its festival grounds, the rain stopped and the sun came out. It was a small event, especially for Vancouver -- only three floats -- but it was joyous and enthusiastic. And I had a good time.

There was a cooking demonstration booth set up, and I got myself a good seat once I realized that a lot of the food is geared to accommodate those with food allergies -- especially gluten, eggs, and lactose -- and that I know so many, many people with those food allergies. I wanted to learn what I could about the seasonings as well as the ingredients...where to get them, how to use them...did someone say asaphoetida? yes she certainly did! Every dish, it seems, is made specially with particular balance to the ingredients so as not to upset the natural rhythm of the body that will be digesting it. Cooking, for followers of Krishna, is not just cooking -- it's a form of worship, as well as a code of conduct and a set of philosophical rules.

The food was delicious. I really loved the way the seasonings introduced themselves to my palate and made themselves at home among my taste buds. I could dine like that frequently. Not permanently, though. I like my meat, my onions, my garlic, my eggs, my raw veggies; and none of those can be found in the diet of this particular culture. I would not make a good follower of the basic philosphies. Much too independent. And determined to stay that way.

And, being a drummer/percussionist, of course I like the music, although it has no meaning for me other than that it's got a good beat, and I can dance to it. I got talking to a mridang player about his drum, and one of those is going on my wish list. And the costumes -- lively and colorful and (mostly) comfortable-looking (and at my age, yes, comfort is of paramount importance!).

One of the absolute best things about living in the Greater Vancouver area in the summertime is the plethora of cultural festivals we have. We get to be short-time exchange students almost at whim.

Are The Gates Half Open Or Half Closed?

I guess the answer to that will depend on your perspective as a reader.

If you are in agreement with my thoughts and philosophies, the gates will be half closed.

If you feel threatened by my thoughts and philosophies, the gates will appear to be half open, and gaping wider all the time. If this is the case, pay attention and trust your instincts (although if this is indeed the case, you probably have no instincts, having been taught to kill them as a child of parents who were terrified by individuality). That might very well be your signal to scram. Or at least to tiptoe, lest you waken an independent thought within your own mind.

There's a line I like from dismissing quarters:

Stay if you will; go if you must, in perfect love and perfect trust.

What's "perfect" about it? Damned if I know. Uncle Gerald musta been smoking some wacky tabacky when he wrote it. But it sounds good to the ear. Earnest, like. Almost as if we know what we're doing...

Okay, we're up and running. Andiamo!