Beans & Rice with Sri Racha Sauce

2014-12-17 23.42.55Line a bowl with cooked bacon

Combine hot cooked rice, thyme, smoked salt, garlic powder, dill, red pepper, onion powder.  Spoon down center of the bowl

Ladle hot cooked pinto beans down the middle of the rice. Drizzle Sriracha sauce along the top.

Serve with corn tortilla wraps.

You want amounts?  What you have on hand combined with the number of people you need to serve, squared by personal taste testing. Add other cooked beans or grains.  Add diced, cooked onion or tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes.

Instead of lining the bowl with bacon, chop the bacon and stir into the rice or beans.

Add chopped peppers.

 

 

 

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Vintage winter scene, printable colouring page

winter pic girl feeding birds

This little girl is feeding the birds in the snow. She’s either been doing it a while, or they are very hungry, seeing how friendly they are.

From Primary Plans, Volume IV, 1906
The original was graphed for easy of copying to a black board. I removed the graph marks

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So somebody explain this to me

Michelle Obama, a very tall woman, went shopping at Target two years ago. Another customer asked her if she would mind reaching the detergent on the top shelf and handing it down.

Two years ago when she told the story it was a nice tale about how she had managed to shop unrecognized and still connect with a fellow shopper, give somebody a hand.:

“No one knew that was me. Because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not. And the only thing she said — I reached up, because she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down. She said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good.”

Now it’s an act of micro-aggression.

I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”

Michelle was wearing a baseball cap, her hair was tucked up in it, she was wearing casual clothing, and she was at a Target.  She’s like, 5’10”.  I am totally baffled by the implication that she should not have been mistaken for a tall lady who could reach the detergent and would be willing to help a short lady out.

I am not a tall person, so I have on occasion asked a taller customer if they can reach something for me.  I don’t do it often, but I have done it, and I always choose the person I ask based on height and proximity.  Shame on me.

I also  often have people assume I work at stores where I am shopping. I have never really stopped to wonder why- I assume it happens to everybody. A few other times I’ve been asked for help it’s not because one of my fellow customers has assumed I work there, but he has assumed I know more about where things are than he does, and he’s asked me where the, say, turmeric is, or if this is the right kind of oil. I say he because it usually is a male, generally an older man sent to the store like a lamb to the slaughter by his wife. (and by few I mean in comparison to how many times they’ve assumed I was an employee, it’s still more times than I could count).

Sometimes, though, it’s a college girl, usually if I forget that I live in and near a college town and never want to go to Walmart or the grocery store nearest the campuses in the opening weeks of school.  The college girls see me and I naturally just scream to them “Housewife and Bargain Shopper” so they ask me where to find something- the ironing boards or something.  Poor dears.  I never iron.  Anyway.

The point is- this does happen to me a lot, and by a lot I seriously mean half the time I go to a store (more, if I forget and go during dormitory shopping season).   I have never been offended by this. I’m usually glad to help, presuming they don’t want me to take their list and do the shopping for them.  I guess I should have been insulted?

I have also just learned this is itself also an act of micro-aggression, this hearing one person tell a story about something that happened to them, and me replying by saying this has happened to me, too.

But, how is that microaggression when,  in fact, it does happen to me, and lots and lots of times, more than I could possibly keep track of. I do not accept that it’s an act of micro aggression or remotely racist to point this out. I don’t find this insulting or annoying, it’s just common experience. Based on reading that last link, the real issue is that people who aren’t caucasian and who go around calling themselves POC and writing about micro-aggressions are completely oblivious to just how common an experience it is. I mean, in the comments people sharing their shared experiences of similar outrageous behavior, a few of which were really obnoxious and clearly race related, but most of which were just…. somebody at the store asked them where the something or other was.  My favorites are the numbers of commenters  saying, “Oh, yes, that happened to me before, too,” and then they say it happened twice, or some other small and very definite number.

Tsk tsk.  Really? I can pretty much guarantee that I will experience somebody asking me for help in a grocery store about half the time- so one for every two visits.

It is about as human an interaction in the America that I know as saying hello, nodding your head to somebody as you pass by, or, oh, I don’t know- grocery shopping.

It’s also happened to me at the library, people have assumed I work there.

It’s happened at thrift shops, possibly because I can’t look through the books without straightening them up, somebody assumes I work there and asks a question about policy or location and if I can answer I do, if I can’t I say so.
When my five oldest kids were stairstepped little goslings flocking around me, I was mistaken at least once for a nun, and many times it was assumed I was their daycare provider rather than their mother.

Racism definitely does exist- I am not saying it doesn’t.  I see it in my community, I hear it from people here and there, I see it sometimes when I’m out with Blynken and Nod.  Once Blynken was playing with a hispanic little boy at the library- Blynken is biracial and looks like he could be hispanic.  Nod is not biracial.  He came up to his big brother and asked if he could play.  There was a conversation where the hispanic child was shocked Nod and Blynken were related, and he was pretty much done playing with the Blynken once Nod showed up.  It might have been because he didn’t want to be bothered by a preschooler, which Nod was at the time, but I was there, I heard the questions he asked, and I don’t believe it for a second. (in case it’s not clear, Nod is black).

It’s a thousand, million times better than it was fifty years ago, forty years ago- but it’s still around and it’s still wrong. (rule of thumb: when somebody tells me they aren’t racist, or they don’t see colour, I can expect to hear them say something racist and cringe-worthy in the next five minutes)

But when you have to change the nature of a story you shipped as a feel good tale two years ago, and now are retelling as a ‘see, people still see us as the help’ tale, you actually are the one undermining the real problems that do exist.  It’s like crying wolf.  Because this particular example- being asked for help at a market, or having somebody assume you work there when you don’t,  does happen to almost everybody, regardless of colour, and we all know it.  So when you call something this common to the human experience in America a racist act and it’s something that white people experience pretty commonly and quite regularly, it’s hard to take you seriously when you talk about racism.  You’ve already shown yourself to be given to exaggeration. And it’s particularly egregious when you are speaking such nonsense from your position of power as the wife of the elected head of state to what was quite recently a great super power.

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Christian View of Torture

Thanks to Perry for the links- he’s the  good man of my friend Kim C, whom I met via our blogs (the site where she’s currently not blogging is ‘In a Shoe’).

While some of the ‘anti-torture’ rhetoric is unbelievably silly (don’t yell at them?  Really?), and some is irrelevant (it doesn’t always produce good info?  What interrogation method does?)- the defenses are nothing to boast about either.

They seem to boil down to pragmatism, or utilitarianism, and Christians are to have a much longer view in mind.

I’ve read the defenses. They appeal to a side of me I am not proud of.  I’ve been reading two different articles this morning, and they have me thinking.

There’s this:

Torture is terrorism. You cannot be pro-life and defend torture. A very important book on this topic is (from Mercer University Press) “Religious Faith, Toerture And Our National Soul.” Different chapters by different authors. Excellent.

Dr. R.J. Rushdoony, in a piece titled “Justice and Torture”, in “Roots of Reconstruction,” says:

“…In terms of God’s law, thus, even a God-established confession must have the corroboration of evidences. Clearly, confession in itself had no real standing in Biblical law. In this respect, Biblical law preserves the person of the suspect with all the respect due to one created in the image of God.

 

According to George Horowitz, in his influential study, The Spirit of Jewish Law…because a confession was in admissible as evidence, torture was not and could not be used. This preserved the person of the accused from torture, the third degree, or any other like method of extracting a confession. It meant that justice required evidence gained by lawful means.

 

Read the rest, linked above.

And this, which begins:

In the 4th Volume of his History of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff devotes a chapter to the discussion of torture. Professor Schaff is wholly opposed to the use of torture in order to extract information or obtain a confession of guilt, and it is clear that he believes the best of Christian thought is also opposed to it. However, Prof. Schaff freely admits the church’s failings on this point. He begins with the ancient history of torture, moves through the early church and middle ages, and then concludes with the 18th and 19th Centuries.

It is an informative and not lengthy read.

 

I understand how we get there- we are desperately afraid, desiring to stop the next attack, to save our people.  Would I be opposed to torturing somebody who had information that could prevent a certain known brutal and heinous attack on my daughters?  I confess I could probably apply the hot irons, knives, bamboo splinters and other instruments of pain myself and in a frenzied rage if I were confronted with that situation.  I pray God I never, ever am, because I do not believe that would be the best part of myself.  The desire to protect my children is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s the ‘at any cost’ side that is questionable.  Nor do I think the humbled admission that I would personally attempt to tear somebody apart limb from limb, with my teeth if I thought it would protect my children, is a good standard upon which to judge right from wrong.

We often are asked this hypothetical question- what if you knew it could save lives, would you waterboard this man? Would it be okay for somebody else to waterboard this man to save lives?  And we are supposed to answer yes.  But let’s take this hypothetical question game and play it out a little further.   How far would we go?  Is it okay to cut off his fingers? If not, why not?  We’re saving lives.    Is it okay to rape his child in front of him to get him to talk? If not, why not?  We’re saving lives, after all.    Are there limits?  Where are they?  Why there?

The thing is…. well.  There’s not just one thing.

We were told that only 3 people were subjected to a specific torture here, three well known terrorists known for a fact to have specific information that we needed that would save lives (and if we weren’t told that specifically, it was definitely implied).  and now that turns out to be highly unlikely to be true, and we’re just talking about waterboarding.

Other acts of torture left at least one person dead, and he turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.

The torture report, flawed political document that it is, reveals that our government lied to us, deliberately, often, repeatedly, to hide more brutal methods of interrogation than voters wish to sanction.  And it’s still lying to us, keeping secrets, redacting information.

I can’t help but think that if your job is to brutally mistreat others, or to protect those whose job is essentially educated, deliberate brutality, that cannot help but coarsen your attitude toward other people- including the anonymous faces you allegedly work for, Joe and Jane Taxpayer, and pretty soon the people who look guilty to you make up a larger and larger group.

I also have this sense that even if torture saves lives sometimes (and I am totally willing to conced that it probably does), is it ever at too high a cost?

It not only coarsens your attitude, it coarsens your soul, and eventually the national soul.  What are we protecting and preserving in the end?  The land of the free, respect for human rights, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, due process, the Rule of Law?  Or just… us.  If protecting the American way requires denying the American Way on our way to totalitarianism, maybe it is not worth protecting.   Isn’t that a cost too high?  And what would be the point of protecting something that you have to destroy in order to ‘protect’ it anyway?

 

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Pork Onion Apple Stew

Pork Onion Apple Stew

Serves 8

I cut this out of a magazine in 1982, the year we were married. I think it’s the November, 1982 issue of Woman’s Day, but I am not positive.  Originally, the recipe called from dredging the meat in flour, but I skipped that step below to make this Whole30, Paleo compliant

Ingredients:

two pounds boneless lean pork shoulder

1 teaspoon each salt,  ground cumin, smoked paprika (or regular paprika)

1/2 teaspoon pepper.

oil for cooking

two large onions

two large tart apples

Mix the seasonings and rub them onto the pork- I prefer to wear gloves.  Sometimes, though, I just sprinkle it on the pork and rub it in with a spoon.

cut the pork into one inch pieces.

Brown this in some oil a large dutch oven or 2 quart saucepan- your’re not cooking it all the way through, just browning it around the edges.

Add 2 large onions, cut into eighths, mix well,  Add 3/4 cup of hot water

Cover, simmer 40 minutes, adding more water if necessary.

core and peel (if desired) two large, tart apples, cut them into wedges and add to pork/onion mixture.

Simmer about 10 minutes- the apples should still hold their shape, but be hot all the way through.

Serve immediately.

Good with a sweet potato or cabbage side dish.

 

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The Hobbit Movie

I did not go to the theater to watch the first two hobbit movies with the rest of my family for various reasons.  For one thing, whenever the rest of the family goes to the theater at the same time, we either take the Cherub or I stay home with her.  The Cherub doesn’t enjoy movies, she mostly won’t even look at the screen, so that means we spend 5 to 8 dollars so that, from her perspective, she can sit in an unfamiliar place for a couple of hours of random sitting in the dark for no good reason.

The third movie is coming out and I had agreed to go to the theater to see it with my husband, and the other family members are going at different times so there will be somebody who can stay at home with the Cherub.

So we checked out the first two DVDs to catch me up.

I’m seriously regretting agreeing to go to the theater for this, and I only have watched the first one.

On the principle of if you can’t say something nice, say nothing, here are five positive things I can say about the first DVD:

1. The music is gorgeous, as always.

2. The scenery is stunning.

3. I now desperately want to reread the book.

4. Did I mention the music is really nice?

5. I liked the Misty Mountain song so much I bought Neil Finn’s version and the one sung by the dwarves at Bag End.

I would say more, but then I’d be violating the ‘if you can’t say something nice principle.’ Quit laughing.  I know you’re thinking, “And why not, since you seldom follow it anyway?”  Well, I agree with you.  Acerbity is the most common seasoning ingredient used in my posts on politics or culture. But I don’t have to because they did it better:

They said it all, and then some, with all the acerbity the thing deserves.

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Beef Tongue

2014-12-17 11.50.03 I have now experimented with several different ways to cook beef tongue, starting with have somebody else do it. While that remains my favorite method, it’s not that easy to recruit a volunteer, especially more than once.

Apart from letting somebody else do it, the best way is actually the easiest:

Ingredients:

Beef tongue

Water

Soy sauce or amino acids (optional)

Directions:

Put the tongue in the crockpot with a little bit of water- it does not have to cover the tongue, just 1/2 to 1 whole cup of water is fine. I also like to add a bit of soy sauce or amino acids. Then cook it all day on low.

When it is fork tender, remove it from the crockpot to a plate. Take a knife and slice just through the skin- the tough outer layer- at one end or the other. Then holding the tongue in place with a fork, use a pair of tongs and peel the skin off. Cut away the fatty part on the under side. Slice the rest and serve, or chill it for sliced sandwiches later (my preference, it slices very nicely when cold).

You want to remove the skin while the tongue is still hot, because it just pulls away for the most part when hot. If you let it chill with the skin still on it, you will have to slice it off. This is not that difficult, but it results in more edible meat wasted as it’s harder to get just the skin when you use a knife.

And that’s really it.  It does help if you are good at disassociation so you can peel the tongue while thinking about many other things and can even put yourself mental in a completely different space and time.

I have put the tongue in the crockpot frozen, as well as thawed, and it didn’t make a significant difference other than a little bit longer cooking time.  As long as there is some liquid in the crockpot you can’t overcook it.

I used to add balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, whole peppers, garlic cloves and a bit of onion to the crockpot with the tongue, and I have used my great grandmother’s receipt for spiced boiled tongue,  and while that does make the house smell like a marvelously skilled cook has been hard at work, I can’t tell that it really makes a substantial difference to the flavor.   It’s slightly more aromatic and savory this way, but most of the seasoning goes to the outer layer that you have to discard anyway, so I do not always think it’s worth the time.

I’ve used cooked tongue in soups, stews, and stir fries.  I’ve mixed it with cream cheese for a cracker spread.  Lingua tacos are delicious.  But I really just like beef tongue best sliced thin, salted and eaten plain or as a sandwich filling.

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Gelatin: Seafoam Jello Salad

2014-12-17 15.12.59Seafoam Gelatin Salad (who are we kidding, this is a fruit dessert)

1 1/2 cups of boiling water

2 3 oz packages of lime gelatin

1 1/2 cups of cold water

1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple with juice

1 cup of plain whole yogurt

1 16 oz can of sliced pears, drained

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water.  Add cold water, pineapple with juice and yogurt.  Mix gently.

 

2014-12-17 11.05.36Lightly oil a 5 cup mold and then put in the pear slices.  Pour gelatin fruit mixture gently over the pears.  Chill until set.  Makes 6-8 servings.

It’s not health food, but it is pretty and it’s tasty as well.  The color is about the same as the mint part of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  And while it isn’t health food, if you or the kids have been a little dehydrated from a tummy bug, this can be a pleasant way to get them to take in a few bites, and gelatin is good for dehydration and it’s easy on the stomach.

 

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Smoky Tofu Bits

Crumble 1/2 lb of firm tofu

In a skillet, combine 1/4 cup of soy sauce or braggs amino acids

1 crushed garlic clove

1 tablespoon sugar or honey

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs oil

2 Tbs water

Whisk this together well, turn the heat on low and add the tofu crumbles.  Cook this until the moisture is gone and the tofu is brown and crunchy.  You need to stir it often and watch it well.

Drain well, shaking on a paper towel or coffee filter.  Serve over salad.  you can keep this in the fridge for several days.

 

I initially found it a vegan recipe for a substitute for bacon bits, which it totally is not, of course.  But it is a tasty addition in its own right.  I know people have issues with tofu, but I like it.=)

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Thoughts prompted by the Sydney tragedy

Sydney mourns, and we mourn with them-  Two hostages are dead.   The gunman is also dead, and we have trouble summoning up much concern over that.  .

In general, I’m not a Muslim/Islam apologist. I don’t think acts of terrorism are isolated, nonrepresentative events. I think they are the natural outgrown of what the Koran actually says. ISIS, a large and powerful Muslim group, is issuing reprintable Q and A document defending the capture, enslavement, and rape of nonmuslim women and girls, for crying out loud.  Al Ahzar University, a powerful voice for Sunni Islam, refuses to denounce ISIS as unrepresentative of Islam.

Read more at this link:

The following pronouncement originated with Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Rulings by Al-Azhar are instructive, because there is no higher authority on Sunni Islamic doctrine. The institution is the closest equivalent to the Vatican that can be found in Islam.

Al-Azhar has now declined to pronounce takfir against the Islamic State, which would have placed the Caliph and his followers outside of Islam. This raises an important question: if Al-Azhar — whose scholars know more about Sunni Islam than anyone else in the world — will not anathematize ISIS, how can dilettantes such as Barack Obama and David Cameron declare so confidently that the Islamic State “has nothing to do with Islam”?

 

While it could be argued that this particular criminal was mental ill, his mental illness certainly seems to have taken form in expressions of his religion and his sense of personal religious privilege as a Muslim male:

Monis was convicted and sentenced last year to 300 hours of community service for sending what a judge called ‘grossly offensive’ letters to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2009. He later was charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. Earlier this year, he was charged with the 2002 sexual assault of a woman. He had been out on bail on all the charges.Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2875643/Australian-leader-lays-flowers-memorial.html#ixzz3M62FUEs9

I don’t think such acts happen because of something wrong the victims or their countries did. They happen because the goal of the loudest voices in Islam is not peaceful co-existence, but a worldwide caliphate. They happen because this is a religion based on a book that teaches those outside the religion are second class citizens at best, subhuman creatures who exist at the whim and goodwill of their Muslim betters.

While the Sydney gunman appears to have gone rogue, that is only the first assessment.  Just this week Canada released information that the two so-called lone wolf terrorists who murdered Canadian policement recent were not so very lone-wolf after all- they were in direct contact with terrorist leadership overseas.

In general, as a matter of strategy, less sympathetic victims are chosen first and then everybody elsel can comfortably engage in victim blaming and self-pats on the back assuring themselves it will never happen to them, because they are good people.  But Islamic acts of terror are committed because of who the terrorists are, not because of their victims.

“These events do demonstrate that even a country as free as open as generous and as safe as ours is vulnerable to acts of politically motivated violence,” the Prime Minister said. “But they also remind us that Australia, and Australians are resilient and we are ready to respond.”

Make no mistake about it, however, when the less sympathetic victims are checked off the list, the violence will not end. It will spread and grow. And by less sympathetic, I don’t mean that there’s anything inherently flawed in the victims- I mean that for whatever reason, they don’t count so much with the rest of the world. While the world is shocked and grieving over the terrifying siege and the death of two hostages in Sydney- a truly heartbreaking and stunning event, the Taliban attacked a Pakistan school, held it by seige and slaughtered at least 132 children and ten school staff members.

It happens because of who they are, not who we are:

In the wake of the hostage-taking in Sydney, this horrific event is a reminder that Islamic terror attacks are not mounted solely against non-Muslims, but also target Muslims who are not Islamic enough. Statistically, takfiri-denounced Muslims and/or innocent Islamic bystanders are far more likely than kuffar to be killed by mujahideen.

One reason for the widespread slaughter of Muslims by Muslims is that it is much easier for a jihad group to mount a successful attack in a pest-hole like Pakistan than in a civilized Western country. There is a larger population of potential jihad recruits, the security forces are less sophisticated in their ability to monitor and interdict a terrorist conspiracy, and the government, the army, and the police are more extensively infiltrated by terror-minded zealots who can help a plot succeed.

The incident in Peshawar was billed by the attackers as a retaliation for recent military operations against the Taliban. The fact that the location was an army-run school was considered sufficient justification under sharia to make it a lawful target. The attackers were ordered to “ordered to shoot the older students but not the children”. Evidently ten-year-olds are not considered “children” in northwestern Pakistan, because some of the victims were that young.

The hostage taker in Sydney had a long criminal record.  So why was he still on the streets?  Perhaps it was political correctness?  Did too many people bend over backward to avoid the appearance of ‘backlash’ against Muslims?  He declared himself to be a man of peace:

Back in 2009 Sheikh Haron, the allegedly late alleged hostage-taker in Sydney, was arrested and charged with sending hate mail to the families of deceased Australian soldiers. He was a self-declared man of peace in those days. He said, “This pen is my gun, and these words are my bullets.”

I’m sure everyone believed him back then, just as they are now expressing their solidarity with self-declared “peaceful” Muslims and warning against a “backlash”.

While there are no doubt peaceful practitioners, the idea that this is a religion of peace is a propaganda talking point, it’s not a fact.

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