Monday, September 30, 2013

"Pub Theology:" Was Jesus a peasant revolutionary? Does it matter?

Was Jesus a 1st Century Palestinian revolutionary who wanted to bring down the Roman Empire and the Jewish Temple, as Reza Aslan suggests in his new book, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth"?  Come join us as St. Thomas Episcopal Church convenes our first “pub theology” conversation Tuesday evening, Oct. 1, at Louisville's popular Napa River Grill.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Who does eggplant best?

Imam Bayildi pilaf.
This, of course, is a leading question that takes us down paths we don't need to travel. I would argue that any country or culinary region where eggplant is grown has learned to do good things with it.  China? Check! Japan? Check! Southeast Asia? Of course!  Let's not forget the Mediterranean, from Greece through Italy to France ... or, for that matter, the Americas.

But on any given day, I might turn to Southwestern Asia, from Turkey around to the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, as the place where this meaty, hearty veggie (or is it a fruit?) comes into its own.

And one of the best dishes from this food-favored land has to be "Imam Bayildi," which is said to translate as "The Imam fainted," implying that this garlic-rich dish is so impressive that if you feed it to visiting clergy, they'll faint dead away. (Lesson to seminarians and wannabe clergy: Don't be so full of ourselves that we make the people we visit want to put us to sleep.)

Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Every three months, roughly, using the change of seasons as a guide, I like to spend a few moments sharpening my small set of cooking knives. 

They’re nothing really special - Chicago Cutlery from back in the days when it was still a respected brand - but I’ve been using them for most of my adult life. The larger chef’s knife has been my No. 1 kitchen tool since around 1974, so it’s an old friend.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Did the Flying Spaghetti Monster create Farfalle and Farfalle?

Here's a fun response to yesterday's uproar about tone-deaf anti-gay remarks from Guido Barilla, chair of the pasta company that bears his name. Pastafarian competitor Bertolli now comes out, so to speak, with this cute graphic of dancing pasta couples.

So, did the Flying Spaghetti Monster create Farfalle and Farfalle?

Good $5 wine. Really?

Hey, everybody! I found a really, really good cheap wine at Trader Joe's!


Mention "Really cheap wine" and "Trader Joe's" in the same breath, and most everyone will assume you're talking about "Two Buck Chuck."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ten paradoxical traits of creative people?

I generally have my doubts about this kind of non-scientific “study,” but as a person who tends to self-identify as “creative,” I have to admit that I recognize myself in more than a few of these points. To some extent with all 10, really, although I’m particularly down with 1, 2, 6, 7 and oh, yes, especially 5.

Here’s a summary of the 10 key traits from  Click here for writer Faisal Hoque’s full article online.

Posted without comment

Really, there's nothing more to say.

Food Tank: Can I have a reality check?

I get occasional Email from this relatively new outfit, Food Tank, and on the surface it appears to be something I would really want to get behind.  See below for their "elevator speech" from the Web page.

So if it looks good and seems to conform with my own deeply held views on food systems and food justice, why do I have an instinctively wary sense of caution?

Is it just that their stuff looks so slick and commercial? Where's the harm in that?  Is it because they appear to have chosen a relentlessly positive approach ("Let's look for solutions!") in favor of an aggressive approach ("Let's name and shame the bad guys")? Or is it that they seem to be putting a lot of effort into a fund-raising "Become a Food Tank Sustainer" program? (Are they a non-profit? In a quick prowl of the Website, I haven't found anything explicit on this.)

So, I'm not sure. What do you all think?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Who said it? Sitting Bull or Jesus?

This quote attributed to the Lakota Sioux leader Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake) strikes me as wisdom that closely parallels much of what Jesus said.  There's something universalist about this, and good.  Does it matter who said it? I think the content counts.  And I'd love to hear a conversation between these two prophetic voices.

They Make Many Rules the Rich May Break
But the Poor May Not

Some prophetic commentary from Sitting Bull about the dawning of America:
Hear me people: We now have to deal with another race--small and feeble when our fathers first met them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possessions is a disease with them. These people have made many rules which the rich may break but the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A $5 Italian red in 2013! But will I like it?

Villa Cerrina 2012
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
So I poked my head into Trader Joe's wine shop the other day and ... hello, what's this?  A 2012 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo for a penny under five bucks?

Even in the land of Two Buck Chuck, this is a pretty good deal, but of course, "pretty good deal" explains in three words why I periodically run by our TJ's despite my general preferential option for the local shop.

I do love cheap Italian table reds. They and I go back a long, long way, and it has generally been a happy if occasionally rocky relationship.  I've loved me some cheap Chianti - and some cheap Montepulciano, too - since I was barely legal. Okay, I wasn't legal, but close enough, and I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has run.

Anyway, I just wanted to throw this out there.  Have any of you tasted Villa Cerrina 2012 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, from Trader Joe's or any other source?  Will it be worth $4.99? I'm hoping that I'll actually like it ... and will return after dinner to let you know.

When the question "Why?" becomes subversive

I just wandered into the wild world of the TwitterVerse and ran across this old favorite, a simple, one-sentence statement that pretty much defines liberation theology:
@KurtWillems  “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a Communist” - Dom Helder Camara
Sit with it for a few moments and think about it. A moment of meditation that may be well worth the time spent. And if you liked it, pass it forward.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sichuan-style snow pea-tofu stir-fry

Sichuan-style snow pea-tofu stir-fry.
It's funny how the "correct" modern transliteration for the spicy Chinese regional cuisine that I learned and loved as "Szechwan" has become "Sichuan" in recent years, but once I figured out that "Szechwan" was the old patriarchal colonialist "We'll tell you how to spell your name" thing, I'm down with the modern form.  Which is actually probably something like "川菜", if I'm spelling that right.

But that's not important right now.   What's important is that I threw together a pretty quick, pretty good Sichuanese dinner on short notice tonight.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fusion cooking: Two Boots pasta!

"Two Boots" roux-and-okra gumbo on pasta.
When I lived, briefly, on New York City's then barely gentrifying "Alphabet City" for a time when I moved to the city to take a job with a national non-profit, one of the great joys of this adventure was discovering the wealth of good cheap ethnic eats that abounded in the East Village and environs.

A favorite was a little bistro called "Two Boots" for its creative fusion of flavors from the boot-shaped lands of Louisiana and Italy.  Since I love both Cajun-Creole and Italian cuisine and can cook both flavors reasonably well, this was a natural mashup for me.

Tonight, faced with a bunch of fresh okra and skinny white Asian eggplant from the garden, but uncertain whether I wanted a pasta dish or a rice dish, Indian or Asian or Italian or ... hey, Cajun!  Two Boots it would be!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fennel gratin!

Fennel gratin.
This may be the best thing I've ever done with fresh fennel bulb, or second-best anyway. My standard-in-the-rotation roast fennel risotto is mighty hard to beat.

This one wins for simplicity, though, and ridiculously great flavor.

Ratatouille on the grill!

I am so doing this!  It's a good cooking video, too, only 3:18 and worth watching all the way through.

The New York Times

When it comes to ratatouille, there is no shortage of recipes. There’s the traditional, time-consuming kind in which you sauté all the vegetables separately, then stew them together slowly in a casserole. There’s the shortcut method of simmering everything at once. There’s roasted ratatouille, microwaved ratatouille and even steamed ratatouille ...

Scientific American on the "Deep Structures of Language"

This is extremely geeky, yet if you enjoy language and words as much as I do, I think you’ll find it well worth the long slog through. 

In an alternative to Chomsky’s "Universal Grammar," scientists explore language’s fundamental design constraints
By Joshua K. Hartshorne
 Scientific American

There are two striking features of language that any scientific theory of this quintessentially human behavior must account for. The first is that we do not all speak the same language. This would be a shocking observation were not so commonplace. …

The second striking feature of language is that when you consider the space of possible languages, most languages are clustered in a few tiny bands. That is, most languages are much, much more similar to one another than random variation would have predicted.

Sen. Mitch McConnell suddenly looking vulnerable?

The conventional wisdom has it that Sen. Mitch McConnell’s seniority, his vast war chest of “campaign contributions,” and his bloody take-no-prisoners campaign style render him invulnerable in his reelection effort this year, particularly against a Democratic opponent who’s a youngish, relatively inexperienced woman.

But wait! LEO Weekly’s “Fat Lip” column, headlined, “Inside the PCAF poll showing Grimes beating McConnell 46-40, reports, “Lake Research Partners polling memo for the survey released by the Public Campaign Action Fund last week … showed Alison Lundergan Grimes already ahead of Mitch McConnell 46 to 40 percent and further detailed how McConnell’s support for unlimited campaign contributions and his 2008 vote to bailout some of his biggest contributors — Wall Street banking interests — is toxic among Kentucky voters.

What? Could Mitch McConnell possibly be vulnerable after all?

How evolution works ... in minimalist motion graphics

Click to view the video.
“Creationism is a small, dogmatic minority, legendary science writer and evolution-illuminator Stephen Jay Gould proclaimed, “and they make more noise than their numbers.” 

But despite Gould’s confident optimism,” Maria Popova writes in “How Evolution Works, Animated in Minimalist Motion Graphics.” on the blog, “we live in an age when creationism is still taught in classrooms and mythology requires constant debunking with reality in order to keep the voice of reason from being drowned by that noise. Sometimes, however, it’s simply a matter of conveying the science of evolution with equal parts captivation and clarity.”

Popova’s report includes a direct link to a delightful, informative (and quite British) animation overview of evolution and how it works, well worth the 11:48 view time.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

“Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart.”

Reminiscing this morning upon the latest diminution in the long, stately slide of the once great Louisville Courier-Journal through mediocrity toward whatever lies beyond it, and its latest publisher's painful effort to spin it as the next great thing, I feel a bit like the creature in Stephen Crane's short poem, "In the Desert."
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”

Review: North End Cafe

Today's review appears in the print and online editions of Louisville's Voice-Tribune.
North End Cafe: Now a local institution 
VOICE-TRIBUNE Review by Robin Garr
The quinoa-chickpea cake at North End Cafe.
The quinoa-chickpea cake 
at North End Cafe.
North End Cafe has just about become a Louisville institution, and it didn’t take all that long to do so. Co-owner and Chef Christopher Seckman celebrated the 10th anniversary of the original North End Cafe on lower Frankfort Avenue last spring – it’s a place of enduring popularity. 
Now the second North End Cafe, located at the Douglass Loop in the former Club Grotto location, appears to be going strong after a year and a half. Personally, I’ve never quite figured out the “North End” meme, since the map of the Louisville metropolitan area seems to place Southern Indiana in that geographical zone.
Click to read the full review on and in The Voice-Tribune.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ramsi's Cafe on the World's mjadra: 1001 Arabian lentils

Ramsi's Arabian lentils and rice
I ran across this recipe from Ramsi's Cafe on the World in an article by Ron Mikulak in The Louisville Courier-Journal today. Having all the ingredients on hand, I couldn't wait to whomp up a batch of it. It worked out well, although I reduced the recipe (purportedly for four) to one-third of its original proportions and still got more than enough as a meatless main course for two.

Review: Village Anchor thrives in old Anchorage

Cillage Anchor. LEO photo, Frankie Steele
 When Village Anchor Pub & Roost and its companion watering hole, The Sea Hag, opened three years ago this past summer, I thought they were pretty cool.  But I wondered if it would stick. ... 
Was there any chance that a good-size bar and wacky gastropub-style eatery (along with the similarly appealing attractions of Anchorage Cafe in the same development) could fit in long-term to the buttoned-up environment of wealthy, conservative Anchorage?  
Check out the rest of my weekly dining review on this bright, bold and edgy eatery that has become an Anchorage destination during its first three years.  Read the full review on LouisvilleHotBytes and catch it in LEO Weekly:

Village Anchor Pub & Roost
11507 Park Road

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Panang-style Thai green bean cashew cream curry

Panang-style green bean cashew cream curry
with basmati rice.
So I had the rest of that cashew cream I made the other day staring at me from the fridge yelling, "I'm not going to stay fresh forever, you know!"  The cream, an experiment, came out, well, creamy, rich and sweet, and I thought I might use it in place of coconut milk to make a Thai Panang-style curry.

I also had a bag of green beans fresh from the garden the other day that needed to be used while they were still fresh.  They had great flavor but, maybe thanks to a recent dryish spell, were a bit stringy.

Hmm.  If I were using a flank steak or brisket, I would probably cut it short across the grain to minimize the stringiness.  Why not do green beans the same way?  That'll work!

Faithbusters. Who you gonna call?

Two archbishops from opposite sides of the earth, two very different points of view.  The gentle, charismatic Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa, having devoted much of his long life to the fight against apartheid, now stands up for gay rights because he says justice demands that he do so.

Meanwhile, Roman Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt, a gent who is a bit less of a household name than Archbishop Tutu, is off on a rant, claiming that Satan (seriously!) is the force behind gay marriage, sodomy, condoms, pornography and lots of other bad things.

Eh? Are these two guys working for the same Divine?  I know who I’m gonna call.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu, come on down!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fake beef - why the hate?

It’s a funny thing about plant-based meat analogues, a.k.a. faux meat, or for those who prefer to keep it in English, “fake” meat: it seems to make hard-core vegetarians and hard-core carnivores both almost angry to see people enjoying something like Gardein meat-free Home Style Beefless Tips.

I'm not sure I understand this.

Smitten by the idea of miso-peanut spread

NY Times photo of miso-peanut spread.
I could eat this.  I could eat about a pound of it.  Now.
Miso-Peanut Spread
The New York TimesSept. 16, 2013
Use this nutty, sweet and salty spread as a stand-in for peanut butter, or serve with crudités. 

Read the article and recipe in The New York Times online.

You think the recession is over? Ask your hungry neighbor!

Percentage of Americans who struggled
to afford food in the past year.
Not so fast!  Virtually all the “recovery,” it appears, has gone to the already comfortable, while there’s been little improvement for those not so well-off.  In truth, If you were uncomfortable before, you are probably even more uncomfortable now.

This is why we’re seeing more hungry people than ever at the monthly Food Pantry at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Louisville, where 100 families or more come every month to receive food … and, for many of them, to help serve it.

More Americans Struggle to Afford Food
Americans' overall access to basic needs is close to record-low

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Chipotle sticks thumb in Big Ag’s eye …

Yes, I understand that the Chipotle chain remains corporate, even after severing its ownership ties with Mickey D’s.  I recognize that its commitment to avoid hormone-laced, inhumanely treated concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) meat and to use local produce is weasel-worded in terms like “whenever possible” and “when practical.”

But that said, you’ve got to love Chipotle's recent “Scarecrow” advertising campaign, and the way it sticks a thumb in the eye of Big Agriculture.

Pasta with vodka tomato sauce and cashew cream

I found a jar of raw cashews in the back of the fridge and remembered that I had intended to try making non-dairy cashew cream. Belatedly gave the simple process a try: wash raw (not roasted or salted) cashews, soak overnight, rinse, then blend with just enough water to make a heavy cream. Strain out solids and use. Mm, not too bad. 

Now I had some “cream.” What to do? I've also got some fresh made garden tomato sauce - pureed garden beauties with basil and onion - so I grabbed an ancient jug of rarely used Stoli hot pepper vodka, browned some onions and garlic and brought all the parts together into a Palm Beach-style pink vodka sauce for pasta. Tastes just like the real thing with a fraction of the fat and none of the cholesterol. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

30 Second Wine Advisor: Chianti, meet Rhone, meet food

Wine enthusiasts spend a lot of time contemplating which wine-and-food combinations go together well, which pairings don't work and play together well, and why it's not always easy to find the perfect match.

But sometimes one would just as soon push past the angst and the drama and just get right down to pulling a cork and breaking bread.

That's when we start looking for the basic rules, the simple principles that make picking a good wine for dinner an easy chore.    Here are a few tips that go beyond the basic, too-simple, "red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat."

Read the rest of my "30 Second Wine Advisor" column for this week.

A toast for Robert Farrar Capon

Robert Farrar Capon
Author, foodie, theologian, Episcopal priest, fascinating thinker:  Let’s remember Robert Farrar Capon, who died last week at 88.   

This lovely remembrance by Denise Frame Harlan in Christian Century Blogs captures the way Capon brought together thoughts of food as nourishment, inspiration and mission in lyrical prose.  I don’t guess I have to underscore how deeply this touches me.

What!? What does Jesus mean by that?

Eat. Feed. Love. Live.: What!? What does Jesus mean by that?: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 What!? What does Jesus mean by that ?
For the record, blogging my Senior Sermon at Louisville Theological Seminary.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Best pimento cheese ever?

Well, the best pimento cheese I've ever made, I mean.  I made way too much for an event Saturday and brought a nice portion back home, where it's been serving me for lunch and snacks ever since.

As pimento cheese should be, it was just as simple as can be:  Grate extra-sharp cheddar (Cuisinart grating blade), then mix with a jar of diced pimentos (drained) and about the same amount of roasted Italian peppers, also small dice, with just enough good quality mayo to moisten.

Then the doorway to flavor glory opens with the flavorings, where you want the final dish to be piquant but not fiery.  So, to taste, sampling as you go:

Gross and grosser ...

I’m not trying to gross everyone out here, but it alarms me - and makes me angry - that the Obama administration appears just as much in thrall to the mega-agribusiness industry (and the corporate sector in general) as its predecessors. Americans didn’t vote those guys out - twice - just to get the same old thing!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to make a black bean burger for lunch.

Meat inspector: “We are no longer in charge of safety”
"Chunks" of feces are making it through the USDA's flawed meat inspection program

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HotBytes review: What’s a Brix?

Grilled pork chop at Brix. LEO photo by Ron Jasin.
So, what's a Brix? Let's ask the Intertubes!

"Degrees Brix (symbol °Bx) is the sugar content of an aqueous solution. One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution and represents the strength of the solution as percentage by weight (% w/w). If the solution contains dissolved solids other than pure sucrose, then the °Bx only approximates the dissolved solid content."

Right! I knew that! Well, I knew the gist of it, anyway. You see, "brix" is wine-geek talk of the highest order, viticultural trade jargon you don't really need to know at all, unless you're the boss of a vineyard.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pro-market libertarianism: big business propaganda?

This should be a fascinating series on AlterNet, digging into the dark underbelly of pro-market libertarianism.

“Before Milton Friedman was earning plaudits as an economic genius, he was a shill for the real estate industry and an early pioneer for big business propaganda known as libertarianism.

“Pull up libertarianism’s floorboards, look beneath the surface into the big business PR campaign’s early years, and there you’ll start to get a sense of its purpose, its funders, and the PR hucksters who brought the peculiar political strain of American libertarianism into being — beginning with the libertarian movement’s founding father, Milton Friedman."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Roasted eggplant and tomatoes on penne

Roasted eggplant and tomatoes on penne 
The summer’s likely last harvest of skinny white Asian eggplant left me with a good-size basket, but I wasn’t in a mood to do anything fancy with them.   I wanted something simple, easy, tasty, a good dinner to wrap up the weekend that would go with a bit of leftover Tuscan table red. And just to make things a little more complicated, storms passing through made the idea of grilling them unattractive.

So, how about this?  Quickly rough-cut them into half-inch chunks, skin left on; toss with S&P and olive oil and roast them on a cookie sheet at 425 until soft, creamy and delicious.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Are you going to eat that chicken ... er, never mind ...

National Public Radio is reporting that the fast-food industry may soon be feeding us (or those of us who eat such things, anyway) chicken “nuggets” made in China, sold in the U.S. without country-of-origin labeling or on-site inspection by U.S. regulators.

“Consumers eating chicken noodle soup from a can or chicken nuggets in a fast-food restaurant (won’t) know if the chicken came from Chinese processing plants," according to NPR writer Maria Godoy. “That's a pretty disturbing thought for anyone who's followed the slew of stories regarding food safety failures in China in recent years.”

As far as I’m concerned, it was already “disturbing.”

Hey, everyone! It's #sermoniac time!

Hey, everyone! It's time for another #sermoniac post!  I suspect Rev. Anne Vouga reads ahead in the Lectionary and assigns me to preach on the Sundays when the readings are strange and scary. ;)

This time I need to work out what Jesus meant when he told the crowds that they would have to "hate their families" and "give up their possessions" (yes, all of them) in order to follow him.  

So help me out here, and as always, you don't have to be a seminary geek or even a believer to play, just keep it respectful, please:  How do we read this challenging advice? What might we do with it to help us live better lives in 2013?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Top chef, no hype?

Fried green tomatoes at Marketplace.
In today's review of Marketplace on Theater Square, shared with The Voice Tribune, I ruminate on the current phenomenon of "top chefs" devoting a lot of their energy to hiring PR flacks and battling to get national publicity via Food Network and high-profile competitions.  Yet one local chef wins applause, and frequent visits to New York's James Beard House, while keeping a lower, more modest profile.
Marketplace at Theater Square: Top Chef, No Hype

Rosh HaShana: The Day of the Blast!

Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, began at sundown last night. Here’s a fascinating study of the holiday and its significance by Hebrew Bible scholar James Tabor. (Twitter: @Jamesdtabor)

While Passover celebrates the freedom of Israel from slavery in Egypt, Tabor writes, this “Day of the memorial Blast”  is a call to all humankind.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mushroom risotto for red wine

I love making risotto, and this one was a great success: domestic crimini mushrooms and reconstituted dried porcini, kicked up with browned onions, tomato paste and other umami flavors to bring it up to a Tuscan red wine. 

Yeah, the dish is brown.  Sometimes that's just what plant-based dishes do. This is a rich, appetizing brown. So is a well-seared steak. I'm fine with that.  :)

Sent from my iPad

"To see the world in a grain of ... rice?"

I've long admired William Blake's simple, compelling opening stanza in Auguries of Innocence:
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"What everybody knows ..." Really?

In general, James Fallows’ “Why Local Money Matters” is a good article about the benefits that local business and local entrepreneurs can bring to their own communities … and, inferentially, why we should support them.

But I fear that Mr. Fallows builds a serious flaw into this “nut graf” that sums up the gist of the article:

GMOs: Safe or scary?

I’m an easy mark for an anti-GMO campaign.  In the modern world of loosely regulated multinational corporations, it seems reasonable to assume that Big Agriculture, like Big Tobacco and Big Pharma and all the other Bigs, is far more interested in shareholder profit than it is in protecting people like you and me and our families and friends.

But it’s hard to get clear, unbiased information on a subject as complex as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Monsanto and its competitors are so big, and the tip-of-the-iceberg glimpses we get of their mendacity so horrifying, that I’m loath to entrust my personal health, and that of future generations, to their assurances that all they want to do is use technology to feed the world.  

So, all that said, while I see and acknowledge a propaganda tone on the other side of the issue in this YouTube video urging passage of the I-522 initiative in Washington State, it speaks to my concerns, and it raises questions that I’d like to see answered, ideally by neutral third parties, if such a thing exists.

Bottom line, though, I’m wary of GMOs, and inclined to seek organic corn and soy products, in particular, in hope of minimizing my exposure.

"I think I detect cracked leather ..."

A friend sent me this ... a wine-geek poem about tasting!  I thought it was nice enough to share. Follow the link below to read the original and, if you like, to sign up for the daily Email.

Wine Tasting
by Kim Addonizio

Kim Addonizio

I think I detect cracked leather.
I’m pretty sure I smell the cherries
from a Shirley Temple my father bought me

in 1959, in a bar in Orlando, Florida,
and the chlorine from my mother’s bathing cap.
And last winter’s kisses, like salt on black ice,

like the moon slung away from the earth.
When Li Po drank wine, the moon dove
in the river, and he staggered after.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Which side are you on?

The great Pete Seeger and a rousing union song with Kentucky roots to remind us that Labor Day isn't just about Monday off and a picnic.

I could eat this …

They had me at “... adds an intense, nutty character by caramelizing the brown sugar first.”
Butterscotch Pudding: Creamy, Light and Nutty
Evan Sung for The New York Times 
Chocolate pudding variations abound on dessert menus — pots de crème, flan, budino — as does anything containing the formerly exotic dulce de leche. But cozy, old-fashioned butterscotch pudding still remains largely in the home cook’s domain.

Our relationship with Syria: "It's complicated"

Sometimes I think that the scariest thing about world politics in these fractious times is that it's hard to know who to trust.

Even in the mainstream media, what agenda lies behind any given article?  I'm no tinfoil-hat type, but I've spent enough time in journalism to know that one's own attitudes and prejudices can't help but color your reporting. And when "news" shifts into "analysis," how can we know where the writer is coming from, whose ax is being ground and what water is being carried?

But all that said, this article from The Washington Post strikes me as a seemingly balanced and even-handed analysis of Syria's situation in the world today and the challenges that beset any U.S. response.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Italian Buttah!

If we're going to use butter, let's do it right!

A farmers' market dinner

A farmers' market dinner tonight, a simple ragout of fresh lima beans and tiny, pea-size Brussels sprouts braised with onions and garlic in Parma butter and a bit of tomato paste until the limas were tender and plump, finished with a small scoop of crème fraîche.

Crabbing around the Möbius Strip, Bach and forth

This is amazing!  It begins with a remarkable classic work, Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Crab Canon,” a short work that manages to capture incredible complexity in a very small space. As a casual lover of classical music, I’ve long known of this work, and was bemused, although never really had the discipline to get into, Douglas R. Hofstadter’s deep analysis of it in his book, Gödel, Escher, Bach, which I owned in the late ‘70s (and still do) but never managed to do more with than browse.

But now, piling genius upon genius, comes essayist @ColinMarshall on the Open Culture site, with The Genius of J.S. Bach’s “Crab Canon” Visualized on a Möbius Strip.