Monday, November 28, 2005

Brrrr.

Yesterday's high temp was 56 degrees, according to my vehicle.
And this morning, weather.com says it's 30 degrees out there.
That is insane.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

If you do anything

this week in your spare time, and if you really want to know what's going on in NOLA, please read this.

Yes, it will take you a little while. But get to the end. Please.

Friday, November 25, 2005

News

Brownie's got a heckofa new job.

"If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses _ because that goes straight to the bottom line _ then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.


Brown said officials need to "take inventory" of what's going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is.


That's just rich, innit?

Monday, November 21, 2005

does anybody else think

that Bush visited Asia just so he could bring the bird flu back to the US with him, and thereby 'save' the country (read: republicans) with his meager stores of Tamiflu (please contribute to the republican treasurer, Jack Abramoff, if you'd like your own personal stash)?

Maybe it's just me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Brakage

Hey look. You can buy 'my book' on Amazon. Or Barnes & Noble if you prefer.
I feel kinda silly, because I just heard about this today. Apparently it's been available since March. Oopsie.

Oh, and 5% of each retail sale goes to The Hunger Project.

And also? On the B&N page, it says "People who bought this book also bought: 'Me Talk Pretty One Day', by David Sedaris." Which is probably the best thing about this whole dealy-bob. :)

She nice, the Phoenix

Just when I think I can't handle one more day of 100 + degrees and sunshine, the temperature dips down in the 50s and 60s at night and the whole place feels so refreshing again. I've got my chai tea, 'puter, shorts and a sweatshirt (it's a mite chilly this morning) out by the pool, a decent view of the Superstition Mountains if I turn my head just so, and scarlet bougainvilla petals skating around the patio to the music of mockingbirds...this is the life.

Halloween was fun. No winter coats over costumes, no knit hats over wigs or scary 'dos, no snow or freezing rain. People outside with kids, chatting and meeting neighbors for the first time. It snuck up on us--we only had one pumpkin, but that's okay. For you folks in the cold lands, yours might well be buried in snow by now. When we lived in Michigan, this was how we planted pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin got shoved off the stoop by a snow shovel and landed in a bush, and stayed there 'til spring. When the snow melted in April, the rotted pumpkin was discovered and likely disposed of, but the seeds had made their way into the ground by then. In August, a new vine appeared where the pumpkin had landed. Sometimes we looked for the vine, and sometimes it looked for us, creeping its way up the stoop and waving a yellow flower in front of the window. The discovery of the vine was always an event to delight us. We marveled over the way things can grow all on their own -- not only in spite of, but due to our neglect.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner for Americans. FEMA will stop paying for hotels for displaced hurricane survivors as of December 1, yet they offer little in the way of other housing options, besides hundreds of inoperable mobile homes stashed in places where there is no water, sewage, gas or electric hookup. Don't forget these neighbors or your local homeless shelter in the busy-ness of the upcoming holidays. Lots of folks gave more than they could afford in September, but hunger starts fresh every day and local shelters have felt the crunch of their regular donations being sent to these national and worldwide emergencies.

When Jimmy Carter was president, he was highly ridiculed at one point during the energy crisis for giving a speech in which he wore a heavy sweater. He urged Americans to turn down the heat a notch and dress more warmly, and said that he would do the same. I still don't get why that was something to ridicule, but I was just a kid back then, so maybe I don't understand what was really going on. It seems like a good idea for all of us right now -- whether we add an extra layer of clothing for warmth, or figure out a family transportation plan that would lower our use of gasoline, or use our household energy more efficiently by doing laundry and using the dishwasher after peak daytime/business hours, when for some folks, electricity is a little cheaper. We don't seem to have anyone setting an example for the nation on how to stop wasting resources, but we can be an example to our children and hope their generation gets it -- that their future depends on it.

I didn't intend to make this a political rant...but it sort of went in that direction, didn't it. I guess I spent too much time looking at sad faces on the NOLA website. But go there anyway--not all the faces are sad. Kudos to the people of New Orleans and the volunteer workers who took an evening away from rebuilding and had a big ol' party at Fat Harry's.

Anyway, get yourselves a giving cup. Use a tin can, or an empty playdough container, or a small box...whatever you can find. If you have kids, let them decorate it. Put some money in there -- a few quarters, dollars, pennies, whatever you have, and ask your kids to do it too. Clean out your couch cushions, vacuum the car interior, check pockets when you do laundry, stop throwing pennies in the garbage. Then sometime in the next few weeks, bring your cup down to the local mission or shelter, and dump it out on the counter. They'll take it. Every last penny. This winter will be much tougher for the homeless than most of us can imagine.

Happy fall, to all y'all, and warmest wishes to my friends in snow country.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I won something!

And I'm not even in Vegas yet.

Yes, my dear readers, I won a chili cookoff, with my very own made up recipe: Wheezy's Roasted Chicken and Sausage Chili. And my prize is an Art for the Table Spice Collection, which is way cool-looking.

I knew I should have written down that darn recipe as I was making it...I think what gave it the unique flavor was beer (Sierra Nevada -- a pale ale) and lime juice. The chicken was slow roasted (and a little on the delicate, fall-apart side -- added that last so it didn't get all stringy) and I used the sausage drippings instead of oil to saute the garlic, onion and green pepper, for extra flavor.

OH, and you're gonna laugh, so I may as well tell you -- this is a bean-free chili. I can't believe I won a chili contest without using beans. I just wanted to make something my kids would love, and I'm not crazy about beans myself. Huh. How bizarre.

If I can remember all the 'gredients, I'll post 'em here in a bit.

Edited to add recipe:

I think this is about right.

Wheezy’s Roasted Chicken and Sausage Chili

(Serves 12-15)
Ingredients:

5 cloves garlic, diced
1 green pepper, chopped fine
1 yellow/brown onion, quartered*
2 limes

¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. chili powder
1 heaping tbsp. ground cumin
3-4 tsp. sea salt
(blend the above 3 spices together in one container)
½ cup white sugar (+/- to taste)
Onion salt and ground cayenne red pepper, to taste

2 bottles beer (microbrewed, amber or pale ale for more flavor)

6 slow-roasted chicken breasts, diced or pulled (skin and bones removed, duh)
1.5 lbs. mild sausage

4 cans diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz. (drain one or two cans for thicker chili or to allow you to add more beer)
2 cans diced tomatoes with mild chiles, 14.5 oz. can
2 cans diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, 14.5 oz. can
1 can tomato sauce, 15 oz.
1 can tomato paste, 6-8 oz.


Prep time: 45 min
Start to finish: 1.5 hours – all day


Directions: Oven-roast six seasoned chicken breasts (I buy three ready-cooked, slow-roasted chickens from the grocery store and refrigerate until ready to use). Pull apart the meat or chop into large cubes. Season the pulled meat with a dash of salt and red pepper. Refrigerate until needed.

Brown the sausage in a large skillet until cooked through. With a slotted spoon, remove sausage and set aside (refrigerate). Using the sausage drippings, sauté the garlic, onion and green pepper over medium heat until green pepper starts becoming soft (3-4 minutes). Add roughly 1/3 of the spice mixture to the pan with ½ bottle of beer, and continue to sauté a few more minutes until mixed thoroughly. Remove from heat, remove and discard onions* and transfer the remaining contents to a large stew pot (spray the bottom with cooking spray first) or dutch oven (8-10 quart size or larger). Over medium heat, add all the canned ingredients and the rest of the bottle of beer. Stir in the remaining spice combination and 1/8 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes or so. Add cooked sausage and juice of 1 lime.

Once simmering again, taste liberally (being the cook has its advantages) and add any additional spices, more lime juice (1.5 limes tasted right to me), more beer if it’s getting too thick (I used 1.5 bottles total), more sugar if you like it (I used roughly ½ c. total – I liked the balance of sweet with the sour of the lime). The above combination of spices produces a fairly mild to medium kick. A dash or two of hot sauce would add more bite in a hurry, if you like it hot.

Carefully fold in the chicken. Do this last because, being slow-roasted, it will fall apart and get stringy (which isn't as pretty, I think) if it’s stirred too much. You won’t be able to avoid that to some extent, but it’s worth it – the chicken will melt in your mouth. Once the chili is simmering again, do another taste-test to see if any more spices are needed.

When it’s perfect, you can serve it, or transfer it to a crock pot and keep it warm all day.

Serve with oyster or Ritz crackers, shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream if you like. You can also make your own little individual bread bowls, using sourdough or hard rolls. Just cut a hole in the top and remove the roll’s ‘innards’ to make a bowl.

*Onions: can be chopped and added to the chili if you like. Our family prefers the flavor without the chunks, thus the onion salt.

**Adding beans would work nicely too, I imagine