Saturday, July 21, 2018

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

This is something I cooked this week. It is based off a recipe that can be found online, but I substituted fresh mushrooms for canned and added soy sauce for that bit of umami wang. 

2 lbs. of ground beef
Half of a Vidalia onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 and half cups of beef stock
4 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 and half cups of sour cream
2 containers of button mushrooms, sliced
Healthy smudge of soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bit of oil, brown the onion on medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook through. Add the garlic for the last five minutes of cooking. 

Put the beef stock and paste into the crock pot, dump the ground beef concoction into the crock pot, and stir. 

Cook on low for approximately six hours. Add in the the sliced mushrooms, sour cream, soy sauce, and seasoning into the cooker and cook for another 45 minutes. 

Serve over rice of wide egg noodles. 

Music Friday: "The World (Is Going Up In Flames)"

The song title effectively sums up my mood lately with Moscow Don continuing to cozy up to Putin and Russia while we know they meddled in our election. 

And Republican lawmakers have no spines. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

Traveling around this weekend, I saw a few cars with the "Blue Lives Matter" flag on their vehicles. As much as I support good, smart policing (the kind that doesn't kill innocent people), people who use these flags are being associated with white supremacists. As related in a recent issue of Harper's, white nationalists and supremacists are beginning to the use the black and white flag with the blue line down the middle as a replacement for the Nazi flag and the Confederate flag. 

What's so hard about using the Stars and Stripes to show one's jingoistic flamboyance? 

This Saturday the Nasty family took in a Single A baseball game: The Lake County Captains versus the Cedar Rapids Kernals. We had great seats behind home plate, but two idiots behind us spoiled the game a bit. They constantly shouted at the opposing team, making asinine comments that I'm sure opposing players couldn't hear. 

Tomato paste is one of those pantry staples I should have on hand at all times, but I rarely have it on hand for whatever reason. 

The same goes for sour cream. 

If your detective senses are tingling, you might sense that I'm making beef stroganoff in a slow cooker. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Music Friday: "Present Tense"

On our drive up to Iowa, this song came across Pearl Jam radio station. The station was playing a concert from '98 at the Forum in Los Angeles. 

I had forgotten what a great song this is with its varied instrumentation. Here's the band playing on the Letterman show. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

There have been a number of articles speculating about how Democrats might take back the House of Representatives. 

We'll see. 

In addition, here's an article that focuses on a key Senate race, the midterm race to replace Bob Corker. In "Trade War Changing Minds in Senate Battleground," the authors recount how Moscow Don's trade wars might be significantly influencing the midterm elections because higher costs for steel and worries about international markets being less competitive for US products like pork. 

As the article relates, "An estimated $1.4 billion in Tennessee exports are threatened by Trump's trade moves, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a longtime Republican ally." To take a more comprehensive view, the Chamber notes "$75 billion in exports will soon be subject to retaliatory tariffs." 

The emphasis on pork exports makes me think of my home state of Iowa, a state that has more pigs than people. I wonder how all those pork and soybean producers feel now about this trade war with China?  

Make America More Tariffed Again? Not very catchy though...

Regardless, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is speaking out against a Republican president's trade policies, that act is an eye-opener. 

When I was a kid my parents put the old fashioned pencil sharpener in our detached garage. I always used to complain when I had to go sharpen pencils in the dead of winter in northern Iowa. During the rough winter months I'd have to put on a winter coat to sharpen pencils. 

So, of course, where do you think I placed our pencil sharpener? In the garage. 

The sins of the father...

The Washington Post article, "Scientists Link Record Heat and Power Outages in Southern California to Climate Change," informs readers about temperatures in southern California making demand for air conditioning outpace supply. This was correctly predicted by climate scientists over a decade ago. 

It's way past time to start listening to real scientists. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Stay Positive: The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

I usually reserve my Stay Positive posts for good news.

I just finished the dystopian sci-fi novel The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner. It was published in 1972, and Brunner's predictions are dire and depressing, but in many cases he's spot on with some of his predictions. It seems he was well read in scientific research, and he saw our future through dark-colored glasses. 

To use a fancy word to describe the novel, one could call it prescient. Some of the prose is just eerie. 

So here are some direct quotations from the novel that show his foreknowledge:

  • ...people seem to assume that any medical drug is good.
  • ...trying to discourage pig and chicken breeders from buying feeds that contained antibiotics, and they simply wouldn't listen
  • Praise be, if Anyone is listening, for those who struggle to save us from the consequences of our mad cleverness.
  • Page: And our biggest export? Quarrey: Ton for ton again, it's noxious gases.
  • For one thing the [Environmental] Acts don't have enough teeth. One can apply for all kinds of postponements, exemptions, stays of execution, and of course companies which would have their profits shaved by complying with the new regulations use every possible means to evade them.
  • Most papers were losing money.
  • Who do you know who doesn't have to take pills of some kind nowadays?
  • ...a folder of papers about chemicals in food.
  • It follows that the meek are chosen of God. I shall try to be meek, not because I want the earth--you can keep it, after the way you've fucked it around it's not worth having--but because I too should like to be chosen of God. QED. Besides, I like animals better than you bastards.
  • We can repent together, or we can die together; it must be our joint decision. 
  • Beaches fouled with oil and sewage, air so bad you can't go out without a mask, the water at your sink reeking of chlorine...
  • bees of California became extinct in the sixties
  • You and your ancestors treated the world like a fucking great toilet bowl. You shat in it and boasted about the mess you'd made.
  • a little Stephenson electric not meant for long distances, with only a hundred-mile range between rechargings
  • The rich countries have ruined what they own, so they're out to steal from the people who have a little left. 
  • right-wing mayors were axing their welfare budgets on grounds of economy
  • [fish] hopelessly high in dangerous substances such as organic mercury
  • that the news media were complying with the president's celebrated dictum, "If the papers know what's good for them, they'll print what's good for America."
  • You can't blame the people who can't hear the warnings; you have to blame the ones who can, and who ignore them. 
  • The government couldn't go on forever bailing out mismanaged giant corporations, even though it was their own supporters, people who ranted against "UN meddling" and "creeping socialism," who yelled the loudest for Federal aid when they got into a mess.
  • And every day senators and Congressmen who in public were inclined to turn purple at the mere mention of state control wheeled and sealed behind the scenes to secure for their home states the fattest government-financed contracts they could nab
  • We're divorced from reality, in the same way as the Romans went on thinking of themselves as invulnerable and unchallengeable long after it ceased to be true.
  • We had centuries of unplanned progress, and the result can justly be called chaotic.
  • You couldn't look to that straw dummy Prexy [President] and his cabinet of mediocrities for anything more useful than pious platitudes.
  • Commenting on the report just prior to departing for Disneyland, where he is slated to deliver a major speech on education, Prexy said, quote, Well, you don't have to go abroad to know our way of life is the best in the world. End quote.
  • For example, there's an inherent distrust in our society of highly intelligent, highly trained, highly competent persons. One need only look at the last presidential election for proof of that. The public obviously wanted a figurehead who'd look good and make comforting noises. 
  • When the politicians claim that the public isn't interested any longer in environmental conservation, they're half right. People are actually afraid to be interested, because they suspect--I think rightly--that we'll find if we dig deep enough that we've gone so far beyond the limits of what the planet will tolerate that only a major catastrophe which cuts back our population and our ability to interfere with the natural bicycle would offer a chance of survival.

Music Friday: "Falling to Pieces"

Let's go back to the 90s. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Music Friday: "Love Boat Captain"

I woke up today with this song in my head. 

I've been listening to SiriusXM's Pearl Jam Radio station a lot recently, so it's no surprise it floated into my consciousness. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

I despise how journalist use the term "false claim" such as Moscow Don is "making a false claim" that the Democrats are to blame for his administration separating children from their parents. Call it what it is: It's a goddamned LIE. 

It's what that narcissistic goon does best: Lies. 

During Josh Brolin's appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Brolin read Trump tweets in Thanos's voice. Check it out. 

It starts around 9:45 in. 

Music Friday: "Mr. Tillman" & "Date Night"

That Father John Misty character has been productive. Last year he gave us Pure Comedy

This year he gives us God's Favorite Customer

Here are a couple of solid tunes from his latest opus.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

A week or so ago a fraternity brother of mine bought the cardboard sign (below) from 1969 for me. I collect Schlitz memorabilia, and I found this piece wonderful. First, a beer company/distributor created a sign for teachers for some reason. Second, I am amused by the unnecessary quotation marks. This is going in my office. 

On July 1 my son and I are going to a Braves-Cardinals baseball game at Busch. My son is going with his travel team, which is the damned Redbirds. I'm a Cubs fan, and I throw up a little in my mouth when I see my son in his Redbirds jersey. For the game we're going to, I purchased a throwback Braves cap. I'm not a Braves fan, but I like the retro cap. 

So I wonder which team Moscow Don is rooting for in the World Cup? My bet is on I Russia. 

I enjoy watching the World Cup. There are certain teams I'll root for. I've always liked Spain. I like Spanish culture, and they usually have a solid team. As I type this though, Ronaldo just tied up the game with Spain. That dude is incredible. 

I'll cheer for Denmark because I'm part Danish. I'll also root for the African countries in the Cup: Egypt, Nigeria, and Senegal. I also like the underdog Latin American countries: Uruguay, Peru, and Costa Rica. France and Mexico's teams interest me too. 

Music Friday: "The World Is On Fire"

I picked up the recent album by American Aquarium yesterday and have given it a couple of listens. It's another solid offering. At times, the record has more a country twang than I'm used to. I like it when they rock.

Here's the opening tune on the album. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Leftover T-Bone and Peas Rice

This is a simple leftover lunchtime meal that I made today.

I had some leftover t-bone steak, so I put it to good use.

Leftover t-bone steak cut up
Leftover peas
Soy sauce

Reheat the steak and peas in the microwave. Put them into rice you have cooked and add a bit of soy sauce. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

Any American citizen needs to pick up the June issue of Harper's because one of the articles is a forum done at West Point. The title in the magazine is "Combat High: America's Addiction to War." The panel was made up of former soldiers, most of whom saw combat in Afghanistan and/or Iraq. 

Here are some snippets that should get your attention: 
  • Dempsey: "Americans are beset by an attitude of respectful indifference."
  • Kreps: "The United States has its tentacles everywhere."
  • Dempsey: "It is utterly absurd. It ties in with the idea that the military can do no wrong."
  • Dempsey: "Sadly, being played for suckers in other people's wars might just be the purest expression of American exceptionalism." 
  • Bacevich: "To acknowledge that is to commit what, in the context of our civil religion, is a mortal sin."
  • Daddis: "We have moved from having respect for the military to being unable to criticize it." 
  • Daddis: "It's not a job ~ it's a drug. We've addicted our soldiers to war, and to the cycle of war. The costs of being addicted ~ damaging soldiers' psyches, tearing families apart, creating an unhealthy relationship between soldiers and the adrenaline rush of combat ~ are hidden until later." 
  • Dempsey: "He's [Moscow Don] almost irrelevant to the argument. He was probably faced with, 'Do you want to be seen as a loser, or do you want to just keep bombing for a couple of years? And keep bragging about how great you are?" 

In addition, the issue has an essay that Seymour Hersh adapted from his memoir. It's about his dogged pursuit of his first and subsequent articles about the My Lai massacre, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. It's titled "Looking for Calley: How a Young Journalist Untangled the Riddle of My Lai." 

On a dumb lark the other day, I bought a tiny bottle of Old Camp Peach Pecan whiskey at my local liquor store. I poured it into a highball glass, took a drink, and hated it immediately. I dumped it out in the sink. 

Why do all these bourbon companies have to corrupt perfectly good whiskey with flavorings? Honey, blackberry, cinnamon, and whatnot are adulterating perfectly fine bourbon. What a shame. The fact of the matter is though that probably most of concoctions use some bourbon and then use grain neutral spirits to make it cheaper and thus not true bourbon. Atrocious.  

Friday, June 8, 2018

Music Friday: "Back in the U.S.S.R."

This Music Friday post is to complement the current President's obsession with being nice to Russia and Putin because apparently he wants to reinstate Russia to the G7 and is threatening our allies via trade

Stupid Moscow Don.