Cinco de Derby recipes

Today is both Cinco de Mayo, and the Kentucky Derby; both events that exist in the minds of most New Yorkers, at least, primarily as excuses to day-drink.  Still, in light of this convergence of fictional celebrations, it seems worth posting some of my favorite drink and food recipes:

First, a simple drink recipe:

Sweet Tea Mint Julep:

Mint Juleps are incredibly simple drinks, traditional metal mugs notwithstanding: it’s just simple syrup, mint leaves, crushed ice, and bourbon.  This variation essentially uses sweet tea in place of simple syrup.

Step 1: Make tea.  This is, unsurprisingly, the key element.  Specifically, I discovered that Bigelow makes a tea variety called “Plantation Mint”, which is black tea with spearmint.  I usually make enough for a six-cup mason jar, using four bags.  Barring this, you can just add peppermint or spearmint to a simple black tea and accomplish the same thing.

I typically boil tea for this, all the better to dissolve the sugar, but I’ve also made a decent sun tea, so feel free to experiment with that route, as well!

Step 2: Sweeten Tea and chill.  The order of operations there is important.  Hot water is able to dissolve more sugar more readily than cold water, so you want to add the sugar before letting the tea cool.  Indeed,  you’re goal here is to make a saturated sugar solution here: to whit, simple syrup.  For my six-cup mason jar, I add 1 1/2-2 cups of sugar, which is really the barest minimum (true simple syrup is one part water to one part sugar).  Once this is done, put it in the fridge for a day.  Or, if you make it the morning of the Kentucky Derby, shove it in the freezer for an hour or two to cool it a tad faster.

Step 3:Fill cup with crushed ice, pour 2 oz bourbon, add sweet tea to taste, consume. This is pretty self explanatory.

Easy (if time-consuming) Pork Carnitas

  • 1 1/4 lb Pork shoulder, a.k.a. “Boston Butt”, a.k.a. “boneless pork shoulder stew” at my local supermarket.  cubed in 1-2 inch chunks
  • 14 oz (one can) beef stock
  • 15.5 oz jar of salsa.  I typically use Medium or Hot Tostidos Salsa.
  • (optional) Hot sauce, miscellaneous spices.  I usually use Goya adobo powder and some sort of chipotle sauce, for reasons that might be clear below
  • Tortillas and Fixin’s: grilled corn, avocado, cojito and/or oaxaca cheese are my favorite.  But whatever, I’m not the boss of you.

Step 1: Place cubed pork in pan, add salsa and stock.  The recipe I cribbed this from suggested trimming any visible fat from the pork first.  Don’t do this.  It’s incredibly time-consuming bullshit, and honestly, for the sort of cooking we’re doing, leaving the fat in makes for a tastier end result.  Anyway, make sure you have enough liquid to basically cover the meat.

Step 2: Heat to a simmer, and then cover and cook over low heat.  Cook for at least 4 hours (I’ve cooked this for up to 10 hours or so, before).  This sort of cooking -cooking in a seasoned liquid over low heat for a very long time- is called braising.  It basically dissolves the connective tissue, and is a great way to cook your cheaper, tougher, sorts of meat.  It’s also basically all that pot roasts essentially are.  You might want to watch it for the first hour, but if your liquid isn’t rapidly evaporating at this point, and your pilot light hasn’t gone out, you’ve pretty much got this.

If you’re pressed for time, you can (theoretically) use a pressure cooker, which accomplishes the same thing in 30-45 minutes, but they intimidate me so I don’t.  On the other hand, if you’re leery about leaving an extremely low flame on for most of the day, that’s what crock pots are for.

Step 3: Remove pork and roast.  So now, start heating up your oven at ~350, and remove the chunks of pork from the salsa-stock mix.  DO NOT get rid of the sauce yet, we’ll come back to that in a second.  Spread the meat out on a baking sheet; you should be able to flatten and flake out the meat with a fork or the flat of a knife.  This is why pulled pork is called “pulled”: because it can be pulled apart relatively easily, by hand, after being braised or roasted forever.  Remove any big chunks of fat at this phase.  Place in hot oven and roast for ~20-30 minutes, or until it starts to turn richly reddish-brown and crispy.

Step 4: Fajita sauce.  Now, let’s turn our attention back to the stock and salsa.  That stuff is pretty goddamned tasty, you might be thinking to yourself.  And there’s so much of it; are we sure can’t do something with it?  Well, as luck would have it, we can!  Raise the heat to medium, and cook that stuff down.  Add spices and hot sauce: chipotles are smoked jalapenos, and thus chipotle sauce give the sauce a nice smoky flavor that I find enjoyable.  Just remember that the cooked salsa has quite a bit of flavor to it as well, so don’t over-do it!  Cook, stirring occasionally, until this stuff thickens.  This takes about as long, or perhaps a bit longer than the meat takes to roast.  Congrats!  You just made a spicy fajita sauce to pour over your tacos.

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy.  Fill tacos and add fixings and sauce.  Save some for left-overs if you want to.  Be surprised at the fact that there’s so little left for left-overs, since you were pretty sure this makes several servings worth.

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What Limbaugh’s attacks on Sandra Fluke are actually about

I just wanted to reproduce a comment I made in the comments of some other blog, back here, because I think it’s worth saying:

Let’s be honest, this has nothing to do with religion, or even slut-shaming, ultimately: It was about the most influential figure in conservative media attempting to bully a woman into silence by using his platform to heap grotesque abuse on her for several days in a row. And in so doing, to set an example for all women everwhere that might dare have the gall to speak up about their own right to fair treatment, that this is what happens if you try to.

Everything else about this was frankly an ancillary point: the main point, which was pretty effectively highlighted by Darrly Issa’s original “panel on women’s health care, for men” was this: Women should shut up, and leave the opinion-having to the menfolk.

That’s what the Limbaugh attacks have about, plain and simple.  Slut-shaming might have been a useful tool for him, but it was never the point.  There’s no other inference I can draw from one of the most powerful figures in right-wing media attacking a random congressional witness 53 times over the course of three days, averaging nearly one vicious slander every three minutes.

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The gist of the Blunt Amendment

The Blunt Amendement failed, and good reason.  It basically said:

All healthcare decisions should be between a woman, her healthcare provider, her god, her insurance company, her employer, her employer’s god, the god of whatever random claims processor at her insurance company, any larger church hierarchy that might be vaguely affiliated with her employer, and anyone else we can think of, basically.  In order to protect individual religious freedom.

Someone, somewhere along that process, might not share said woman’s religious and moral values, and thus might object! And what is religious liberty, if not the right to interfere in other peoples’ private health care decisions, because they don’t share your values??

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Andrew Breitbart

So, apparently Andrew Breitbart is dead.  Sadness isn’t exactly the word I would use for my emotions.

To clarify, while I’m not one to revere the dead who don’t deserve it, on the other hand, I’m not one to celebrate someone’s death either.  Hell, it made me uncomfortable as hell when people cheered and celebrated the death of Osama Bin Ladin.  And Breitbart is definitely not worth the emotional energy that Bin Ladin was.

Now that being said, Breitbart was awful, and pretty much an overt fascist and race-baiter, (unless we go with the more parsimonious explanation that he was simply himself a racist), who displayed the characteristic conservative bloggers’ sociopathic indifference to the human damage caused by his fabricated stories, and frequently publicly fantasized about murdering liberals, for which he was largely given a pass by the media. He was a terrible person, and the world is marginally better for his passing, even if I’m unwilling to celebrate his death, as such.  If he’s remembered at all, it should be as a sociopathic, fascistic serial liar in reporters’ clothing who personally managed to coursen our discourse as much as anybody this side of Limbaugh.

Note, also, that none of the things I said about him were nearly as nasty nor peppered with personal invective as his own vile comments incident to Ted Kennedy’s passing. Because if my epitath ever ended up being my own words, quoted back at me, I’d prefer it not be quite so damning.

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Nothing topical at the moment, so have another recipe

Welsh Rarebit:

As I mentioned once before, I’ve used this recipe as the template for a few other cream sauces I’ve made, of late.  It’s pretty simple, and makes a really great breakfast/lunch/brunch meal.  A good hearty meal for the whiny vegetarians in your life.

INGREDIENTS:

ingredients

Our assembled forces

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • ~1 1/2 cups cheese, grated, various.  Today I tried Asiago and Cheddar.  Also, I secretly used 2 cups instead of 1 1/2, because there’s no such thing as overdoing it with cheese
  • 1/2 cup dark beer.  This is a critical element of the recipe, as it gives you an excuse to day-drink.  (The original recipe I had called for porter, which can be tough to find.  I’ve tried mixing Guinness and various lagers to reasonable success, though.  Be creative!)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp spicy or Dijon mustard.
  • 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • hot sauce to taste
  • (optional, excessive, even: 1 tomato, sliced)
  • English Muffins

(Optional Step 0.5: Preheat oven to 350.  Place sliced tomato on baking pan, roast until done.  Alternatively, make bacon or sausage or something, if you don’t need to worry about meat-shunners.  The main course is pretty hearty, though, so this is a tad unnecessary.)

Step 1: Melt butter, whisk in flour taking care not to burn it.  As mentioned with another recipe, this is call a roux, and serves as the base for a number of different sauces.  I have no idea what it does, but it’s fun!

Step 2: Add Mustard, Worchester sauce, salt and pepper, and stir until it looks, like, evenly mixed.

Step 3: Add beer, stir some more.

Non-optional Step 3a.  Consume whatever’s left of the bottle(s) of beer you just opened.  Put English Muffins in toaster while you’re doing this.  This is as good a time as any, really.

Step 4: Pour in cream, and gradually add cheese and stir until evenly blended.  It’s pretty important to great grate the cheese in advance, because otherwise your cream sauce ends up all clumpy and half-melted and gross.  Add that hot sauce, too, sometime in there.

Step 5: Put English muffins on a plate.  If you made something else, like tomatoes or sausage or whatever, place these on said English Muffins.  If you’re really lazy, you can just put a piece of ham on said muffin, and not cook anything extra.  Anyway, pour cheese sauce over bread/otherthing combo.

Step 6: Nom.

YUM

My favorite thing about this recipe, other than the fact that its preparation serves as a prime excuse for day-drinking, is its name.  Welsh Rarebit, or Welsh Rabbit, is certainly an obscure British class slur of some sort.  The derivation seems to be that whereas poor Britons could not afford prepared meat, and thus, wild game like rabbit was the poor man’s meat, the Welsh were so poor that their ‘rabbit’ was actually just cheese.

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New Google motto: Be Evil, if it’s profitable and nobody notices

Back in 2010, one big piece of news coming from the right-wing Conservative Political Action Conference was the fact that the conspiratorial anti-communist group the John Birch Society was being permitted to “come in from the cold”, so to speak, having been marginalized by William F. Buckley in the 60′s and 70′s, and now invited to that year’s CPAC.  (The other major news item was that a number of groups, as well as Senator Jim Demint, boycotted the conference over the gay conservative group GOProud’s presence at the conference.  Both GOProud and the Birch Society were disinvited this year.)

This year, CPAC has decided to one-up this previous step, and invited actual white supremacists to host panels.  Peter Brimelow, the founder of VDare, will be hosting a panel on “The Failure of Multiculturalism”.  Given VDare’s stated mission of opposing non-white immigration and supporting a white-dominant America, along with the incredibly racist and anti-Semitic content of their website, it’s not all that difficult to envisage what the content of this panel is.  And reports on the ground further suggest that it was pretty heavily attended, with the crowd flowing out the door of the conference room, so this suggests quite a bit of the general character of CPAC, as well.

Anyway, what does this all have to do with the title of this post?  Well, if you look at the ‘sponsors and supporters‘ page of CPAC, it generally reads like a veritable ‘who’s who’ of right-wing think tanks and political groups.  Only, waitasecond, who’s that way at the top of the list?

Be sure to tell Google what you think of their decision to sponsor events that play host to white supremacists.

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Actually, context doesn’t make it better

"Let them eat $100 bills"

Mitt Romney, Man of the People.

I almost feel a bit sorry for Mitt Romney.  Running for president after making a fortune by putting companies out of business as a corporate raider, and being apparently congenitally incapable of showing normal human affection, he’s basically had an uphill battle in attempting to project an image of himself as something other than a rapacious corporate vulture of a Pander-bot who is simultaneously comically out-of-touch with the needs and concerns of the unwashed masses.  So, given that challenge, it’s especially tragic for Mitt Romney that he has this bad habit of saying stuff that seems to confirm said entirely accurate perception of him.

It was bad enough when he was quoted as saying that he “likes firing people who provide him services“, or when he makes $10,000 bets during a debate, or calls a six-figure speaking-fees income “not that much”.  Even “corporations are people , my friend” didn’t really do him any favors, really.  However, his campaign was right that his most recent Kinsley gaffe has been getting a lot of attention because of the way that’s being used out of context.   Now, a lesser person might point out that turnabout is fair play, as this is the same Romney campaign that used one of the most aggresively dishonest out-of-context quote of recent memory in one of its early ads, where it attributed to Obama remarks that were quoting John McCain’s ’08 campaign.

BUT, I’m a bigger man than all that, so I’m going to grant Romney the context for his remarks that have so often been denied.  It is, after all, the HONEST thing to do.  Of course, much like his “I like firing people” moment, taking his remarks within context doesn’t actually make them look any better, but instead reveals even deeper levels of insulting and wrong.  Anyway, here’s Willard’s full remarks:

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich…. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

Comparatively innocuous, right?  Just as long as you don’t look to closely.  Like, he does say that he’s not worried about the very poor, because of the social safety net that we have.  So, with that in mind, what are his proposed policies vis a vis said social safety net?

Massive, gouging cuts, that’s what.  Romney’s domestic policy calls for slashing away at America’s already weaksauce safety net with enormous cuts to non-defense spending, and he’s specifically voiced support for the Ryan Plan, which calls for increased tax cuts to the super-wealthy, financed in part by replacing Medicare with a voucher system which gives inadequite, and diminishing, coupons for health insurance, and similarly designed to privatize Social Security.  So, when Mitt says “I’ll strengthen that safety net”?  That would be what those of us with some interest in fidelity to the facts would call an “outright fucking lie“.  Indeed, the full context for his remark puts him as saying that he’s not concerned about the very poor, because they have that safety net that he fully entends to slash out from under them, whilst raising their taxes.

But let’s move on, because that’s still not the full story.  In the second half of his remark, he helpfully gives us his definition of “the middle class”.  Namely, that it consists of 90-95% of Americans.  There is literally only one sense in which this is true, and that is that humans, as a species, tend to be incredibly innumerate about this sort of thing, and thus, something like 90-95% of Americans believe that they are members of the middle class.  Honestly, anyone who’s heard the rather-quite-rich talk about their income knows how “upper-middle-class” extends into infinity.   This a similar effect to that which leads 80% of people to believe that their driving abilities are above-average, and so forth.  Naturally, Mitt Romney, and his campaign, must know this full well, and thus this “90% of people are middle class” is itself intended as a cynical pander.

However, let’s go down this rabbit hole anyway.  If 90% of people are “middle class”, then it stands to reason that, if we don’t make any judgement about distribution, then the highest the lower bound could be is the cutoff for the 10th percentile of incomes.  And the lowest the upper bound could be is the 90th percentile of incomes.  So, what do those two numbers look like?

The upper bound of the bottom decile is $10,500 for households.  As a point of comparison, the official federal poverty threshold for one person starts $390 higher.  Mitt Romney’s avowed definition of “middle class” puts people who are literally in full-blown, federally-defined capital-P Poverty in the “middle class”.   Well, it would, if not for the fact, as previously intimated, he’s completely full of shit.  But, anybody giving this a serious thought would call those people the “very poor”.

So what about the other end?  Let’s assume for a minute that the “90% of people” that Mittens is talking about are just the bottom 90%.  What’s the lowest upper bound on his “middle class”, in this case?  Well, the lower threshold for being in the top 10% of households is an annual income of $118,200.   The best point of comparison I can find for this one is the median income of Loudoun County, Virginia, which is $107,207 as of 2007.  That’s right: the average household of the richest county in the United States is also solidly “middle class”.  I think we can all agree that the average Loudoun County resident is “really struggling” right now, in Romney’s words. 

Of course, even by this pretty absurd standard we’re setting, Mitt Romney still falls pretty far outside the middle class, and even stands out amongst the top 1% of incomes: Romney’s personal income almost certainly puts him amongst the top 0.0025% of earners.  Yet, that hardly stops him from lumping himself in with the middle class at campaign stops.

tl;dr, Even in context, Mitt Romney’s lack of concern over the “very poor” proves that he’s either cynical, delusional, or both, and furthermore a profligate liar, no matter what.

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