Monday, November 23, 2015

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Angel Hair con Zucchini

I had an extra zucchini from when I made the vegetable stew, so I decided to use it and follow the principle of KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.

What follows is basic dinner you can whip up in about ten to fifteen minutes. 

1 medium zucchini, cut into medium-size half moons
1/4 cup of finely chopped yellow onion
1 garlic clove, chopped into big chunks
A couple of fistfuls of angel hair pasta (I used leftover pasta)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
Healthy smudge of Italian seasoning - I used Penzey's Tuscan Sunset
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 small lemon wedges

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. First, put in the onions, sweat those for about five minutes, add in the garlic for a minute, and dump in the zucchini. Cook until the zucchini is fork-tender. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the butter until it melts. Add the pasta and mix thoroughly with tongs, so the pasta sops up the olive oil and butter mixture. Move it to a plate or bowl, top with Parmesan, and then squeeze the lemon wedges on top. 

Eat and later take a nap. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Slow Cooker Vegetable & Bean Stew

Crock pots are wonderful machines. Just dump some stuff in them and slow cook away. What follows is a recipe for some vegetable stew.


1 46 oz. can of tomato juice
3 cans of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1 can of beefy mushroom soup (or French onion might work well too)
1 zucchini, chopped into medium-sized chunks
1 yellow squash, medium-sized chunks
Half of a green cabbage, chopped well
2 small cans of baby lima beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Half of a yellow onion, chopped finely and sautéed until brown
4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Strong smidge of ground cumin
Strong smidge of chili powder
Smidge of Penzey's Northwoods seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste


Dump all of the juice and tomatoes into the crock pot. Chop the vegetables and combine into the pot. Add all of the drained beans into pot also. 

Brown the onions, take them off the heat, and add the garlic for a few minutes. Dump those aromatics into the slow cooker. 

Add the seasonings. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. 

Sunday Hangover: Charleston Southern

I was a little concerned about this game. I didn't think they'd lose, but Coach Saban's reminder in one of his press conferences about Georgia Southern running all over the 2011 squad got me skittish. 

Apparently, he did the same for the players. 

Alabama, as one would imagine, dominated the game - to the extent that the starting quarterback and running back weren't even playing at the end of the second quarter. 

Derrick Henry looked good as usual: 68 yards on 9 carries with 2 touchdowns.

But what I really wanted to see was the two backup running backs getting some solid playing time, and they did. Both Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough had strong games. Harris is a shorter back and hit the holes pretty well. Scarbrough, though still reportedly not 100%, looked like a slightly shorter version of Henry. 

As for receivers, it was good to see Cam Sims play quite a bit. He's a big receiver who has a lot of promise. Next year I expect him to make a much bigger contribution. The Tide will have a solid receiving corps with Ridley, Stewart, Foster (who is out this season), Sims, and Charlot in '16. 

The star of the contest on Senior Day was senior Cyrus Jones. He had two punt returns for touchdowns, intercepted a pitch, and played well at his cornerback position. 

Next up is the Iron Bowl. The Tide must win this game. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Music Friday: "Don't Come Around Here No More"

For the U.S. House of Representatives this week, this tune seems appropriate. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Hangover: Mississippi State

A score of 31 to 6 sounds like a blowout. 

The game in Starkville sort of was but wasn't for a good while. 

The Tide offense was bottled up for a good while until three big plays in the first half: A 69-yard punt return for a touchdown by Cyrus Jones, a 60-yard passing touchdown by Calvin Ridley, and 74-yard run for a touchdown by Derrick Henry. 

A big loss in the game, and season, is Kenyan Drake breaking his arm. He's out for at least three weeks. That's a big blow because the running depth behind him are freshmen who haven't seen much playing time: Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough. 

They'll get plenty of reps this coming week and probably lots of playing time against Charleston Southern, the game in T-Town before Alabama travels to Auburn to play in the Iron Bowl. 

The most impressive part of this game was, once again, the Tide defense. They sacked Dak Prescott 9 times. They had 4 quarterback hurries, 7 passes broken up, and 11 tackles for loss for 58 yards. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Music Friday: "Holiday in Spain"

A holiday in Spain sounds really good right now. I thought about this song after hearing "Raining in Baltimore" on my iPod's shuffle. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday Hangover: LSU

Five in a row. 

The Crimson Tide has defeated the LSU Tigers five games in a row. 

Besides two mistakes--Mattias-Smith getting beat on a long pass via a corner blitz and Henry fumbling in the fourth--Alabama played really well, especially the defense that held Fournette to 31 net yards. That's the guy who has been repeatedly called "the best player in college football."

Derrick Henry's actions and stats might counter that talking point. Henry had 210 net rushing yards on 38 carries and three touchdowns. He's a beast and has the pundits seriously considering him, finally, in the Heisman race. 

Kenyan Drake had a good game too with 68 net rushing yards on 10 carries. He also had 40 yards on three catches in the passing game. 

Another big star in the game was the defense of Alabama. Except for a few plays, they just whipped the offensive line of LSU. It was beautiful. 

Next week's game is worrisome because Mississippi State has been playing well, and Prescott is a very dangerous quarterback. He's been running a lot more this season, and true dual-threat quarterbacks usually give the Tide headaches. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Music Friday: "Burdens" & "Doing It Right"

I read about The Yawpers from a post on HearYa last week. 

I've been listening to the band's album, American Man, quite a bit since I picked it up. 

If you enjoy steady driving rock-n-roll, you'll probably like The Yawpers. The second video is macabre, so fair warning. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Random Notes from a Crank

Since tomorrow is Halloween, I thought I'd share some topical cartoons. 

This comic explains why he never showed up. 

This appears to be a fair assessment of the clowns in the GOP primary. 

I'm really enjoying the second seasons of Fargo and Manhattan. The latter TV series inspired me to purchase The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. It's a monstrous book, but it's supposed to be one of the best books about that topic. 

My friend recommended The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. I'm reading that one before the Atomic Bomb book. 

Chris Cornell: "Murderer of Blue Skies" & "Before We Disappear"

Higher Truth, the new album by Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden, came out a little while back. 

Much like his other solo albums, the tunes are more soft spoken and refective in contrast to the wonderful barbaric yawps he belts out on Soundgarden songs. 

Have a good weekend, folks. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Hangover: Tennessee

If you're not familiar with the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry, you might be wondering, "Why is Derrick Henry smoking a cigar beside Coach Saban?" 

The tradition is that if the Tide wins against Tennessee, one of its most storied rivals, the team smokes cigars after the game. 

Even though the Vols don't have a great record this year, they played with fire on Saturday. Alabama, on the other hand, looked tired. The upcoming bye week is coming at the right time or could have come sooner. And Tennessee, like Georgia and Texas A&M, had a bye week before they played the Crimson Tide. 

Tennessee played a good game, especially at getting pressure on QB Jacob Coker. 

When Tennessee went up in the fourth quarter after a quick-as-hell scoring drive, I had grave concerns.  

With 5:43 left in the game and starting on their own 29, the Tide then marched down the field to score. Key were two long passes on third downs to Stewart and Ridley. They finally got the run game going consistently, and Henry punched it in for a touchdown with 2:24 left on the scoreboard. 

Besides an interception Humphrey should have had early on during Tennessee's attempt at a drive, the Tide D played superbly. On one sack, Jonathan Allen got past the center and bull rushed a guard to slam into Dobbs. The very next play resulted in another sack by Ryan Anderson. But Dobbs lost the ball, and big A'Shawn Robinson nabbed the ball in mid-air with his left hand and rumbled his way to Tennessee's 4-yard line. 

Game over. 

Henry had a rough first half but did much better in the second half. He had 143 net total yards with two touchdowns. 

Statistically, Coker had a fine game: 21 pass completions on 27 attempts for 247 yards. However, I'm still concerned he's staring at certain receivers and not looking off the secondary. 

Both Eddie Jackson and Ronnie Harrison, the number one and two safeties on the depth chart, got banged up in the game, but Jackson was back out there in the second half. The week off will do them some good. 

I'm still concerned about the offense. 

Kenyan Drake has not be the multidimensional weapon like he was in the first half of last season before he got hurt. I hope he busts loose versus LSU in two weeks.

The blocking must get better, especially when passing the ball. 

Here's to some good rest and recovery. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Music Friday: "Getting Ready to Get Down" & "Where the Night Goes"

Josh Ritter's new album, Sermon on the Rocks, came out recently, and I've been listening to it often this week. 

Check out these two tunes. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Hangover: Texas A&M


Texas A&M only scored a touchdown the traditional way after Cyrus Jones fumbled a punt in Alabama territory. The other score was a punt return. The rest were field goals. 

The Tide offense only scored 20 points in the game. The defense actually outscored the offense with three pick-6s: two by Minkah Fitzpatrick and a massive 93-yard pick-6 by Eddie Jackson. 

On the offensive side of the ball, when the Tide had it, my frequent refrain during the game was, "Just run the ball."  

And they did. Derrick Henry amassed a career-high 236 net yards and two touchdowns. 

Early in the game, the Aggies dared them to run by playing their nickel defense, which surprised the heck out of me.

Jacob Coker displayed a game manager type performance in the game, which resulted in a W. 

I hope Kenyan Drake's leg bruise heals up for the Tennessee game, or else we'll see Damien Harris get some significant snaps in the upcoming game. He better be ready.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Music Friday: "Building Chryslers"

South Broadway Athletic Club by The Bottle Rockets came out last week. 

It's a damn fine album. 

There aren't a lot of songs on youtube yet from the album, but I found this live performance. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Random Notes from a Crank

Chile is investing in alternative energy, building a smarter grid, and using a carbon tax, all to be sustainable but also to have an economy that grows in a smart way. Check out "Solar Power Lights the Way to a Cleaner Economy in Chile" if you're intrigued. 

Over at The Atlantic, Sarah Boxer published a detailed and interesting article about Peanuts: "The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy." I'm not a hater of Snoopy like some critics, but for me Charlie Brown was the best character of that strip even though I started reading the comic during the heyday of Snoopy. I also always checked out Peanuts books from the library that had the older strips from the 50s and 60s. 

I'm surprised about Coach Spurrier's immediate retirement. I agree with Ryan Nanni's sentiment from the EDSBS thread that "if he's leaving, I'm gonna miss the gel out of Steve Spurrier. Were not getting another one, and I suspect he knows that." The search of South Carolina head coach job will be a high-profile one, and it'll be a search that will probably make some current coaches get pay raises. 

After watching a bunch of MLB games over the past couple of weeks, I'm really tired of all of these pecker-pill commercials.