Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dinnertime - Shiksa-Bob

Stock Photo - we ate this too quickly for pictures!
Many of you know my affinity for pork products.  If not, you should click here.  I also like the flavors of India and Asia, and I'm looking for new things to do once we start harvesting the ample supply of wild pigs in this country.

1# Pork Sirloin, in 1-inch cubes

1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Cilantro, loosely packed
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 Jalepeno or Thai chile, or more to taste
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Large Onion, 1-inch dice

Combine all ingredients except pork and onion in a blender, puree until smooth.  If you don't want to buy buttermilk, you can combine one cup milk and one tablespoon of vinegar.  In a large bowl, add the contents of the blender to the pork and stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, alternate onion slices and pork cubes on skewers, and cook over high heat on a grill or under the broiler (if it won't stop raining, like here in Cleveland, for example.) until golden brown. 

I served this on warm naan with a green mango chutney from the latest cookbook in our collection, you could add this to rice or even add the marinade to tomato sauce and yogurt for a sauce.  Makes four servings.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tastes (Kinda) Like Chicken, Looks Like The Lower 48?

Call me old-fashioned, but I like my food to look like food.  Sure, it's a well-known fact that I enjoy the little cheese crackers with the peanut butter in them, and that color does not occur in nature except to scream 'poisonous!', but they do look exactly like they're designed to.

On the opposite side of the coin, what's the deal with chicken nuggets?  First it was McDonalds, and now it seems everyone is jumping on the 'that's-not-shaped-like-food' bandwagon.  I don't eat McNuggets, but on occasion, nuggets from other fast food icons make a quick and tidy snack when I'm on the run, and they're all shaped the same. Some of them look like Minnesota.  Some of them are shaped like animators used to draw pork chops back in the 1940's.  Some of them are shaped like paramecia.  Some of them have no rhyme or reason whatsoever, and they're only benefit is the ability to fit neatly into a vat of barbecue or sweet-and-sour.

I get the dinosaurs, the stars and the other amusing kid-friendly shapes, because we want our kids to eat something besides paste and scabs.  But unless you come out with the full fifty state nugget pack to teach them geography, it seems wrong to pick on one or two.  And 50 nuggets would just add to the growing childhood obesity issues in this country, especially dipped in honey mustard.

Round is good.  Shape them like drumsticks, I'll be happy.  It's an extrusion, you can't tell me these are the only shapes we can come up with.
Does that look like a McNugget/New Hampshire to you?
I mentioned my curiousity about this to someone the other day, and they sent me to this article about genetically engineered ground meat.  That's right, scientists are developing cell structures that will grow a hamburger without ever needing to be farm-raised, slaughtered or butchered, and it won't create the mass amounts of greenhouse gas expelled by real cows and chickens. 

This makes perfect sense to me, that half of the meat we consume is already ground, so why not remove the animal cruelty from the picture?  I love the American farm and the American farmer, but I've read much on the environmental impact a single cow can have on global warming, and how each cow produces 1/16th the meat-to-pollution ratio of smaller animals like chickens.  And now, everyone could grow their own meat.  I'm on board.

The only tragedy here?  Every day I don't finish my old novel is a day that my imaginary happenings become closer to truth.

Damn.  I wish I had some of those cheesy peanut butter crackers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where is my flying car? I was promised flying cars!

I don't see any flying cars! 

I'm 40 years old today.  Age is just a number, nothing important as I've been an 'old man' much of my life.  But 40.  Forty.  Four-Zero.  That's 14610 days, if I include leap years (and I have, because that's how I roll.  Nerd to your mother.)  

One of my favorite websites, IMDB, lists over 4000 people born the same year as me, actors and best boys and key grips born 40 years ago.  Many famous, some that nobody's ever heard of.  And I share my birthday with the likes of Salvador Dali and Irving Berlin.  They're no slouches.  

1971 was a big year in the space race, astronauts and cosmonauts vying for supremacy of the heavens.  I wasn't yet born when Americans walked on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission.  I was alive and being adorable when we followed up with Apollo 15, but I don't really remember it.  I was alive when DB Cooper jumped from a Northwest Orient flight and into history.

We were doing that in 1971, and now?  Nothing.  Sure, there's a space station up there somewhere, waiting patiently to Skylab its way back to Earth, but are we really using it for anything?  Science is all up in our faces over alternative fuels and clean energy, but where's my robot maid, my dog-walking treadmill?  Do I need to download an iPhone app?  I don't even have an iPhone.    

As for my physical prowess, I'm not going to win a Superbowl or the Tour de France.  Can you imagine?  Especially those of you who've seen me throw a football or witnessed my first bike ride without training wheels.  Anyone who actually witnessed my face-first assault on the school track back in 8th grade isn't at all surprised that I've never become a superstar athlete. 

So, what have I been doing with myself?  I'm married to a beautiful woman who puts up with far too much of my nerdilated insanity.  Not that I'm asking her to stop.  I have two wonderful daughters and a lovely grandson.  I learned how to ride a motorcycle, and for anyone who was there for my early forays into the bicycle realm, that's probably pretty frightening.

In all, I've managed a pretty positive forty years by most standards.  And the future seems pretty bright.  If only I had a flying car where I could keep my shades.  Then again, I'm fairly old-school.  My razor only has two blades.  Most of my music is still on cassette, many of them taped off of the radio, and my first portable cassette recorder (like a Walkman without the name brand) required me to flip the tape over to the B-side manually.  I did walk home from school in the snow.  I've only owned a cell phone for a quarter of my life.

But being old school means I was taught that when you make a promise, you keep it.  And I was promised flying cars, so I want mine.     

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blast from the Past - The Other Organ Donor

Times continue to be busy around here at CDS Enterprises (A wholly-owned division of NFG Worldwide, Ltd.) and despite recent posts, I still feel compelled to share past musings and crotchety posts from the ether.

In light of my repeated musings on the subject of pork and pork products, I thought I'd share this little gem with you from May '07. 

I've been thinking about the news stories reported below HERE and HERE and the possible implications for the last few weeks, since it ran on our local news (actually, we just looked it up on the station's website, since I can't sit through 58 minutes of human interest drivel just to get to the one potentially significant news story of the evening…). I've had diabetic family members, as has Lori. Our friend was just diagnosed at age 35. One of my clients is active in the state's chapter of the ADA, and we've ridden in the 'Ride for the Cure' pledge drive. However, it doesn't mean I knew anything about the disease, and especially that 20 million people in the US alone are afflicted with it. I can't even imagine 20 Milwaukee-sized cities full of people (or, as it turns out, 20 Cleveland-sized cities). In a world of 6.7 billion people, and even in a nation of over 300 million, the number suddenly seems insignificant. (Actually, the US Census Bureau projects that the US gains one person every 11 seconds, between births, deaths, and immigration, and our planet gains approximately 60 million people each year.)

The medical community has been breeding immunosuppressant swine for years now, to develop xenotransplantation-safe organs since we're wearing ours out faster than we can donate them. For my further thoughts on organ donation, click here.
I may be a selfish bastard, but if we keep curing diseases and cleaning up pollution and driving smaller cars and buying organic vegetables, how long will it be before we've outgrown the planet? Surely a topic for another blog entry would be the exponential loss of farmland in our nation to housing developments, and at the same time the fact that we produce more food on fewer acres thanks again to the scientific community. But that is, in fact, a topic for another blog so that's all I'll say here.

Yes, this is a disjointed commentary, because I have so many unanswered questions. Anyone who knows me understands that this is how my brain works. So, without further ado or segue, what do they do with the pigs once they've donated their bodies to science? If the islet cells are taken from the pigs, do the pigs become diabetic, or can their bodies manufacture more? If the pigs give their lives for this process, does the research lab at least have a nice pig roast the following weekend? I can't imagine such a waste of resources if the resultant meat (as long as it remains immunosuppressantly delicious) were just thrown away, instead of being consumed. Unless, of course, once you've received porcine cells, that eating a pork chop would be tantamount to cannibalism. And what about the Muslim and Semitic populations of the world? Religious dogma for these groups dictates the consumption of pork is taboo, what does it say about having the swine's cellular makeup inserted into the very makeup of our genetic profile?

Like I said, I have so many unanswered questions. And now I'm hungry, too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Random Acts of Thursday - Give me lots of hair

Hey, kids!  I know it's Cinco de Mayo, and I should be writing about beer, and how May 5th ties into the reason so many great Mexican beers are brewed with classic German brewing know-how.  However, that seems too predictable.  Besides, it's been almost two years since the NFG (owner and proprietor of NFG Worldwide and all known and unknown subsidiaries) shaved his face in its entirety, the first time in nearly 12 or 13 years that my chin was cold and nekkid.  That didn't last very long at all. 
For the most part lately, I've rocked a pure goatee, no moustache to strain my soup or tickle Lori's upper lip.  However, I am getting a little lazy in the shaving department, sometimes going a week or more without touching the fuzzy undergrowth.
I really want to do something 'out there' with the facial hair (thanks to La Bev for the linkage).  Handlebar moustache.  Long goatee, a la Scott Ian.  Elvis sideburns.  A la Elvis.  However, in deference to my marriage, I never go beyond joking about it.  Lori seldom laughs.
It's not much of a quiz this week, but since it seems nobody answers many of these anyway, not much risk in offending any of you.  This is a research quiz, for your benefit and mine, feel free to Google or guess, your choice.

1)  Who shaved his trademark moustache first: Alex Trebek or Tom Selleck?
2)  Who has the better beard, Billy Gibbons or Dusty Hill?
3)  For which film did Chevy Chase (known for playing Dusty Bottoms in the film 'The Three Amigos') don a wicked cool beard, Walt Whitman style?
4)  Is there anything besides Whitman's beard which qualifies him as 'cool'?  (Okay, that's a trick question.  Of course there isn't.)
4a) Which actress starred with a slightly zanier Chevy Chase after featuring in the original film production of 'Hair'?
5)  Which surrealist painter made a film about facial hair, and in which film was he dragged behind a piano alongside a fellow surrealist?

Not much this week, but you know.  Gliddy glup goopy, nibby nabby noopy la la la lo lo. Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba le le lo lo.  Feel better?  If not, go have yourself a cerveza.  That should fix it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dinnertime - Ham-tici-pea-tion

I enjoy ham.  This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me.  (Forgive the download, but it really is necessary. Enjoy.)  Sadly, as much as I enjoy a good ham dinner, it's not as though I can, in good conscience, make ham every week.

Okay, I could.  But as it stands, we don't.  However, we did have a glorious ham for Easter, bone-in and spiral cut, and I was in soup mode over the weekend.  Pea, bean, potato?  What could be the best combination of starch and pork?  I decided on pea, this time around.

Spiced Yellow Pea Soup

2 cups diced onion

1 cup diced carrot
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 - 14 oz bag dried split yellow peas
1 ham bone
2 cups diced or shredded ham
2 cups baby carrots, halved
3 quarts cold water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional Garnish
3 strips of bacon, cooked (Did I really say 'optional'?)
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp clove powder
1 tsp cinnamon

In a large kettle, heat oil and add onions, diced carrots and salt.  Sweat until tender, then add curry powder, dill, basil and cinnamon.  Stir until spices become aromatic.  Add one bay leaf, split peas and ham bone, then cover with three quarts of cold water.  (If you're using a small measuring cup, that's 12 cups of water.)  Stir together and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover for an hour or until peas are just tender.

Remove the ham bone and the bay leaf, then puree the soup in a blender or with a stick blender.  Remember that if you do this in a standard blender, take the plug out of the lid and cover with a towel, or you'll have an Exorcist experience all over your kitchen.  Return soup to pot with ham and remaining carrots, and simmer an additional two hours or until soup is reduced by 1/4. 

For the garnish, combine the bacon and spices in a food processor (thank you, Magic Bullet!) and process until fine.  I used pre-cooked bacon for this, and microwaved it for 20 seconds with the spices before processing. 

This makes eight hearty servings, and if you feel you need to wait for cooler weather to have soup, the bone will freeze well. 

And okay, so you could use the green split peas.  However, even though I like most every shade of green out there, I find something unappealing about pea soup green.  Either way, this was delicious.

Be nice and share!

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