Archive for February, 2009

28
Feb
09

Of Fowl and Iron

This is a fun time of year for folks who like rustic fare. At least here in the Houston area. I live out in the county (read: unincorporated burbs) and we are now getting covered up with white winged dove. While it’s not hunting season for them… using something other than a firearm to very quietly snag a few from the backyard is pretty easy. For those of you who are already blanching at the thought of eating a game bird… relax. Dove tastes like chicken used to taste. It has flavor and is quite savory without being too gamey. Cleaning them is pretty simple and quick and you are really only going to use the breast meat.

Salt and pepper as many breasts as you like (4-12 per person), toss on a few jalapeno slices and some queso blanco chunks, wrap the breast up with some good slab bacon and then fry it up in a cast iron skillet (cast iron is mandatory).  Black beans and rice with a truckload of cilantro makes a good side dish. If you are skilled, bake up some fresh bread… Otherwise, have Jon Tillman bake it for you and don’t tell him you are eating meat.

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28
Feb
09

Stuffing Envelopes

I’ve just finished up a little mailing campaign for one of the enterprises that I am involved with. Every time I stuff an envelope I think of Sandi Stewart. She taught me how to do it right. What’s this about there being a right way and a wrong way to stuff an envelope? Yep. About 25 years ago I can remember walking past Sandi’s desk at the office. She was very deliberately folding letters and stuffing them just so into envelopes. I was kind of mesmerized with the diligence of what she was doing and actually had the temerity to ask why she was doing it that way. I was rewarded with a wry smile and a “Because it’s the right way to do it.”

Sandi went on to explain that it was important that the first thing a recipient sees when they open the letter was the sender’s name or letterhead image. And just as important was that the recipient should not have to work to see that. The B plan was to stuff the envelope in such a way that the recipient only had to slide out the letter and unfold once to see the name. The A plan was that the recipient merely had to slide the letter out. Most of us fold a letter with the text toward the “inside” of the fold and stuff the envelope. If you put the open edge of the letter situated such that the recipent has to remove the letter from the envelope, turn it around and open two folds to see who it is from… you’ve wasted their time. Sandi folded the letter accordian style and stuffed it so that all the recipient had to do was begin to remove the letter and they instantly knew who it was from. Genius.

25
Feb
09

For The Children

The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”  -Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

23
Feb
09

Person of Pallor

Eric Holder thinks that we are a nation of cowards. He’s the new attorney general of the US.

Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.

We spend so much time, as a country, pointing out our differences. The threat of intimidation for even the appearance of intolerance is very real. Yet we delight in attaching labels to ourselves: Typical White Person, Black Man, Pacific Islander, etc. Maybe it’s those damn labels? Or maybe we’re just afraid that Al Sharpton is going to set up a picket in front of our house?

Well, I’m a Person of Pallor. I’m a pasty white dude. No really, pasty. I’ve had a bunch of skin cancers cut off my body, so I rarely go outside without a shirt. Is that label enough for you? I also have thick skin and can take a joke. So let’s share some BS in the driveway and fix the world’s problems.

22
Feb
09

Social Boundaries (kinda NSFW)

Reviewing ad copy from the 1970’s can be rather depressing. The styles, tastes and limits in the ads is pretty riveting. This ifrom a Levi’s blu jean ad from the 1970’s (in a great Flickr set from the era)… a Netherlands Levi’s ad. I feel fairly certain that Levi’s would have simultaneously caused a huge surge in sales and call for a boycott if that ad had ran in the US.

22
Feb
09

Picky Eaters

I still enjoy cooking a lot. But having two teenagers in the house means that dietary preferences and timing frequently result in a “non-aligned” gastric approach. Translate: nobody likes eating the same thing at the same time in this house. Getting the whole family together for a home cooked meal that every one thinks is yummy is a rare event. It happened last night.

Family Chicken Rave

Ingredients:
3 Chicken breasts, trimmed and butterflied
White wine
Juice of two lemons
Fist full of slivered fresh basil
8 ounces of plain goat cheese
1 package julienne sun-dried tomatoes
2 small jars of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 stick of cold butter
Caesar salad dressing
Olive oil
Fresh black pepper
Coarse salt

Method:
Pour some Caesar salad dressing in a glass pan large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Add some black pepper and some salt. Mix and spread evenly on the pan bottom. Lay the butterflied chicken breast on top of the dressing, add some more salt, pepper and dressing and shmear to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and shove it in the fridge for a few hours.

Get a large pan and pre-heat it to medium high. Add a dash of olive oil and lightly brown the chicken breast on both sides. While this is happening, thoroughly clean your marinating pan. Pre-heat oven to 350. Remove just browned chicken to glass pan. Add about a third to half of a bottle of white wine to the pan (how much is dependent on how much you drink while cooking). Add the tomatoes and the basil. Stir well and allow to begin reducing. While this is happening, shmear the goat cheese on top of the chicken. Lick your fingers. Scatter the artichoke hearts on top of the cheese. Back to the sauce, which should be reduced by half in volume. Add the lemon juice and continue reducing. When the volume is down, again, by half, remove from heat. Add the cold butter to the sauce about a tablespoon at a time, stirring to incorporate bit by bit. Pour all of the sauce over the chicken. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes while you are steaming veggies as a side dish.

Bask in the applause of your entire family and even hear both of your children say “this chicken kicks ass, Dad!”. Or something like that.

19
Feb
09

Slurping Up Bodily Juices

This is a fire ant. It serves no useful purpose in the United States other than generating a massive income stream for the folks who make, market and sell substances to combat the little demon. I live in the Houston area and have spent countless thousands of dollars in my own little jihad against these stinging insects. They invade my yard, disrupt the enjoyment of my lawn, ruin the gardens and flower beds and find ways to get inside my house and annoy my family and pets. A fatwah! Perhaps there is a better, more organic way?

Of course, bringing in a non-native species never quite works out, does it?