Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Mixed Poultry Veggie Soup

This Saturday I made some soup from the carcasses of a couple of birds I roasted. I used the frozen remains of the turkey from Xmas and the carcass of a chicken I roasted last week.

I'm a wild and crazy guy, I tell ya. Straight up silly  ...  and handsome.

First, I made the stock.

Ingredients for Stage One:
1 turkey carcass
1 chicken carcass
1 unpeeled onion, quartered
2 carrots, chopped in big pieces
2 stalks of celery, chopped in big pieces
8 peppercorns

I placed the turkey and chicken parts in a large stock pot and covered them with water, kicked it on high, and waited for it to get to a boil. Once it gets there, you reduce to a simmer. Let it go for about thirty minutes and then add the other ingredients. Simmer for anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, and you need to periodically skim the scum off the top about every twenty minutes or so.

Then comes the straining. So strain the bones, vegetables, etc. out of the broth and keep any of the good pieces of meat you want to add back in the stock.

Ingredients for Stage Two:
2-3 peeled carrots, cut thinly
1-2 stalks of celery, cut thinly
3-5 peeled red potatoes, diced
2 roasted chicken breasts (I used bone-in), cooled, and cut into bit-size morsels
Healthy smidge of smoked paprika
Smidge of Herbs de Provence
Garlic Powder to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

An additional ingredient was one carton of low sodium chicken stock. Since I had simmered the stock for a good while, it had reduced by a lot, and I had already cut up the veggies for the soup. So for the Foodie purists out there, reduce the amount of vegetables and chicken you're going to add if you don't want to use store-bought stock.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Music Friday: "Katherine Belle," "PBR Promenade," "Cape Fear River," "Lonely Ain't Easy," & "Redheads and Adderall"

!It's an embeddapalooza! Six, count 'em, six videos. Five songs, sure, but the final two videos provide "Redheads and Adderall" in full band and solo formats.

American Aquarium is a band I've been listening to a lot this week. Lifting from CDBaby, Lastfm has an entertaining description of the band:
"Put broadly, American Aquarium is an indie rock band with a country flair. Whether you call it alternative country, twang-core, or garage folk, one thing is for certain: these guys love to play loud music. When people are confronted with the electric twang of a three-guitar assault (two electrics and one acoustic), they are taken aback. At first glance, the shaggy hair and thrift shop stylings might typecast this group as just another garage band making noise, but when a twangy southern howl blasts over the six-piece band, stereotypes go out the window.

Comprised of a neo-folk everyman, a guitarist who thinks it’s 1975, a veteran hardcore drummer, a hard rock bassist, a beatnik with a viola and a true soul-man on keys, American Aquarium as a whole breaks down all boundaries of what a band should sound like. A majority of people, including some band members themselves, don’t know what genre of music this stuff fits into. Wouldn’t the southern vocals make it a country band? Well, would a country band have a double kick drum?

These six musicians have set out to make original rock music that can be enjoyed by as many different people as possible. Chugging guitar riffs and catchy hooks make these songs easy to rock out to or sing along with. It is impossible to pigeonhole American Aquarium into one style of playing. They may play a thunderous rock song that has the crowd moving with every chord of the guitar, then silence the same crowd with a five minute piano ballad. The band’s live show is where they take the most pride, and as such have built a large fan base in their hometown of Raleigh, NC. Regularly drawing a few hundred to every show, American Aquarium loves to keep the crowd guessing. Be it two songs or two hours, this band just generally loves to play music. Their array of musical taste has not only allowed them to bring something to the table for everyone, but for everyone to leave satisfied."                

It sounds like the last two songs are new ones from a forthcoming album, an album that Jason Isbell is producing if I'm interpreting his tweets correctly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

Today is one of those days when I could really use playing a trap set for about 30 to 45 minutes. It wouldn't sound pretty, but it would make me feel good. Or hitting a heavy bag would work.

Poor planning: I made the mistake of thinking, "I'll just wait 'til the new store opens up to get some groceries." Stupid. Really stupid. You see, the big happening this winter is that County Market has opened a new store in our little hamlet. For those not familiar with the County Market but familiar with St. Louis grocery chains (I know part of my audience), the new store is a lot like the Schnuck's stores that proliferate/d with suburban sprawl, particularly in St. Charles county, or similar to the new Schnuck's off Loughborough in South City. Sort of like those but probably not quite as big. I had a number of items on my grocery list, but with the gawking, bustling, and visiting among the patrons tonight, I had to bail on getting all my stuff. Too many people. Too much foolishness. I was looking forward to a better beer and wine selection than the previous store, which it has, but it's not as diverse as a beer snob like me would like. So I picked up some Schlafly Winter ESB. I hope some Schlafly dry-hopped APA ventures eastward.

The Nasty household got a new chair delivered today. Everyone is taking turns sitting in it. Hell, I'm sitting in it now.

I know this is probably because I'm not used to them, but the past couple of days I've been examining Excel spread sheets. They make my eyes fuzzy. The interesting thing is that the resource I examine for my fantasy baseball draft also uses the spread sheets, but I don't get fuzzy eyes usually. I wonder if data related to the past and present isn't as sexy as future-oriented projections. Or maybe it's just the baseball related nature of the documents.

Before you know it, pitchers and catchers will be reporting.

I once had a girlfriend tell me that I was "stoic." It wasn't a compliment.

She was a bitch.

Tonight I got a good chuckle at my eight-year old daughter asking Mrs. Nasty to turn down her TV because she's trying to go to bed.

This is the same daughter, who, after coming home tired from gymnastics practice, got all upset when she got the reply she didn't want to hear about whether she could eat food on the new chair (which was "No")--the same rule we have on our new couch/sectional dealio. She proceeded to tell us she felt that we care more about the couch and chair than we do about her and her brother. She stated that she wants the old couch and chair back and even tried to guilt-trip her mother by relating that the old chair was Mrs. Nasty's grandfather's. That little gal knows the rhetorical appeal of pathos. Teenage years should be wonderful.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Music Friday: "Buzz & Grind," "Windfall," "Down to the Wire," & "Tear Stained Eye"

For Son Volt fans, this week we got some good news.

As related on the band's FB fan page, Jay Farrar collaborated with Will Johnson (Centro-matic/South San Gabriel), Anders Parker (Varnaline, Gob Iron), and Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket) to create an album of Woody Guthrie songs called New Multitudes. Son Volt's website describes the album as "an intimate interpretation of American icon and musical legend Woody Guthrie's previously unrecorded lyrics."

Even further, the website informs us that a new Son Volt album will come out this fall.


So today I'm offering "Buzz & Grind" from the Gob Iron album, "Windfall" and "Tear Stained Eye" from Trace, and "Down to the Wire" from American Central Dust.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

It's a bad sign when at 2pm on a Wednesday you're mentally exhausted -- just hit a wall.

Literacy brings questions: On the drive home today, my daughter, who is now an avid sign reader, asked me what a Women's Resource Center was. Not expecting such a question, I fumbled around with an explanation for a short bit and kicked into some concise informative prose.

One of my birthday presents last week was a light saber like my son's. We're taking on the Evil Empire one nasty dude at a time. He hits 'em low. I hit 'em high. Watch out Mitt Romney.

"No one gives a damn about the things I give a damn about./ The liberties that we can't do without seem to disappear like ghosts in the air./ When we don't even care, it truly vanishes away." ~Jason Isbell, "Alabama Pines"

From the January Harper's Index: "Percentage of workers with only a high school diploma who received employer-based health insurance in 1979: 70; Percentage of workers with a bachelor's degree or higher who receive it today: 66"

"There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare." ~Sun Tzu, The Art of War II.6

Friday, January 13, 2012

Music Friday: "Say Hello to Heaven," "Pushin' Forward Back," & "Hunger Strike"

I've been watching this Metal Evolution documentary by filmmaker Sam Dunn on VH1 Classic since it started. It's been interesting.

Although I wouldn't consider myself to be a heavy metal enthusiast, I certainly like and listen to a number of bands that could be considered metal or at least influenced by metal--Metallica, Alice in Chains, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, Rollins Band, Van Halen, and others. Unfortunately, many of the metal or hard rock bands I grew up with were during the audio cassette era, so when I jumped to CDs all that got lost for the most part. I didn't want to shell out more money for CDs of Pyromania by Def Leppard or Turbo by Judas Priest. By the time I was buying CDs, I was interested in different and more diverse music.

But in last week's episode of Metal Evolution, Mr. Dunn traveled to Seattle because in his genealogy of metal, he lists "Grunge Metal" as a strand.

I don't buy grunge as a strand of metal music. Most of it is/was heavy and guitar-oriented. However, it's more of what I would consider to be hard rock, which itself is a slippery concept.

Nevertheless, grunge was a needed antidote/corrective/death knell to the glut of glam metal bands that were at the forefront of the music industry in the late 80s and early 90s.

In other words, @#$% power ballads and hairspray bands.

So for this Music Friday, I offer three songs from the important Temple of the Dog collaboration, an album that came out in 1991.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Hangover: BCS National Championship -- LSU

Roll Tide.

What a dominating performance in all phases of the game.

Going into last night's game, I was concerned about special teams play, particularly the kickoff coverage unit, and the defense's ability to defend LSU's option game.

No problem.

For those who want to whine about Alabama not winning their conference championship or for the Oklahoma State apologists, check out "No Doubting Saban, Alabama" by Gene Wojciechowski, an esteemed sports writer. In regard to Oklahoma State, as much as I like Iowa State as an institution and I'm happy their football program is improving, a college football national champion does not lose to the Cyclones. The two best teams in the country played last night.

But back to the game.

These numbers bear repeating:
  • First Downs: Alabama, 21; LSU, 5
  • Net Yards Rushing: Alabama, 150; LSU, 39
  • Net Yards Passing: Alabama, 234; LSU, 53
  • Total Yards of Offense: Alabama, 384; LSU, 92
  • Time of Possession: Alabama, 35:26; LSU, 24:34
  • A. J. McCarron: 23 completions of 34 attempts, 234 yards
  • 5 field goals made out of 7 attempted by Alabama
  • 1 rushing touchdown by Trent Richardson
  • Number of Times LSU passed mid-field: 1
  • Number of Touchdowns Alabama Gave Up This Season: 9

This year's defense rivals the defenses of the 2009, 1992, and 1966 seasons, and the offense moved the ball well in the game. It just didn't convert their drives into touchdowns, unfortunately.

On ESPN today they're already picking the top 5 for next season.

Alabama is not in that conversation since they'll lose a lot of folks to graduation and early entries into the draft. Below you'll find a list of players who will not be on the squad next season:
  • Trent Richardson, RB (early entry)
  • Dont'a Hightower, LB (early entry)
  • Courtney Upshaw, LB/DE
  • Mark Barron, S 
  • Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (early entry)
  • Dequan Menzie, CB
  • Marquis Maze, WR
  • Darius Hanks, WR
  • Josh Chapman, NT
  • Jerrell Harris, LB
  • Nick Gentry, NT
  • Alex Watkins, DE
  • William Vlachos, C
  • Brad Smelley, TE
  • Chris Underwood, TE

Regardless, congratulations to the Crimson Tide on its 14th national championship.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Music Friday: "Heart of Steel"

I had plans to do a bunch of work in the office today. Didn't happen.

I caught some crud that gave me a fever and the feeling like someone hit me in the back of the head with a two-by-four. Last night I slept in the guest bedroom downstairs, and my son informed me this morning, "Jeez, you stink." I'm sure I did.

In the midst of sleeping from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, one of the dreams that I remember was about the upcoming BCS National Championship game. I don't know if it was on the opening kickoff, but what I remember is that LSU ran a kickoff back for a touchdown and immediately after New Orleans experienced a major earthquake, which stopped the game and is great since we all know New Orleans hasn't had enough natural disasters.

An easy read of the fever-drenched dream is that I'mconcerned about Alabama's special teams play like I have been all season.

To hopefully ward off an impending earthquake in New Orleans and/or a crappy performance by the Crimson Tide on Monday, I offer Galactic playing "Heart of Steel" at Tipitina's.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Since I'm a week away from my birthday, the comic on Basic Instructions from a couple of days ago seems appropriate.

I still have a few flannel shirts from the 90s. I may wear one of them next Thursday. In my opinion, flannel never goes out of style.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

Since I'm watching the Stanford and Oklahoma State game, I'm just had to hear draft advice from Matt Millen, which makes me cringe. The Detroit Lions have finally recovered from his tenure as that organization's GM.

Today my son today bought a sweet light saber with his own money. Since he chose a blue saber, one that is supposed to be a replica of Ben Kenobi's, I will now enjoy calling him "Obi Wan." The Force will be with him.

We still have our Christmas tree up.

TV execs pound genres to dust. Reality TV and the CSI octopus are easy examples. But now we have Cajun Pawn Stars and a Storage Wars set in Texas.

But I kind of like the second Storage Wars.

As many of you can probably imagine, Tim Tebow annoys the hell out of me. And if there is a God, I highly doubt she/he/it cares about the outcome of a Broncos' game. Quit praying to your God for selfish reasons.

And to various athletes everywhere, Jesus Christ or God or Allah or whatever didn't guide you to have a great game. You had a great game because of your skills, cultivated talent, and intelligence.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in a Simpsons episode, the one where Homer is trapped in a Port-o-Potty as an enraged rhino is about to kill him. Homer's line as he prays for protection is "Jesus, Buddha, Allah -- I love you all." However, Marge drives her monstrous El Ranchero SUV to rescue him.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Crab and Scallion Quiche

I've always wondered why quiche has such a bad reputation with some folks, mainly men. Is it an aversion to food starting with the letter q? Is it because Americans are usually Francophobic?

It's basically scrambled egg pie.

Win. Win.

Here a quiche I made to begin the new year.

pie crust from the freezer
1/2 lb. of real or fake crab meat
3 green onions, chopped finely
3 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt
dash of nutmeg
smidge of smoked paprika
1 cup of shredded cheese
1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt, nutmeg, and paprika. Mix in the crab, scallions, cheese, and flour into a frozen pie crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or so.