Saturday, September 29, 2007


The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in America are to make a statement to the church at large regarding a great many things, all of them geared toward stablilizing the communion and the church at large, in the face of demands by a good many more conservative churches and dioceses in the Anglican church at large. The largest of these is the church in Nigeria, where the state of human rights is so deplorable, it seems laughable to me to even address their concerns until they clean their own house.

The catch=22 of Christianity toward the GLBT community is both intolerable and unsustainable. It makes no sense to promote monogamy on the one hand and make it impossible for people desiring that state to have no acknowledgment or blessing for those unions. I get taht the real controversy behind Gene Robinson's confirmation lies there, cart before the horse, and in general the church acknowledges that's the problem as well. To then demand that the church abstain from codifying those blessings, and to refrain from confirming Gay and Lesbian priests in monogamous relationships, without those blessings is the worst kind of political maneuvering.

I get that maintaining the communion is important. But I'm well past the point where I think that maintaining it at any cost is neither what Christ has extolled us to do, nor waht reasonable people should be willing to do.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Recipe: Poor Man's Stroganoff

I sincerely wish that blogger had cut tags, but they don't so c'est la vie!

Poor Man's Stroganoff (with two bonus cheating tips)

It's all in the seasoning, babies:

Poor Man's Stroganoff

*1-1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef (if you can't or don't buy lean beef, brown the onions and beef together and then drain off the excess fat.)
*One package of egg or wide noodles. (or rice. You can serve it over rice if you prefer, although I wouldn't recommend brown or jasmine rice for this..)
*1/2 large yellow onion, rough chopped
*1 shredded carrot
*3-4 center stalks of bok-choy chopped small (leaves included) OR 2 stalks of celery chopped small, leaves included
*1/2 cup mushroom fresh or canned, sliced. (These will be added nearly last)
*1/2 C sour cream
*1/4 sweet red wine (I prefer Port)
*1/2 tsp butter


*1 package of onion soup mix (the dry kind) PLUS
*1/4 tsp cumin
*1 tsp paprika
*dash of allspice or nutmeg
*1 Tbls dried parsley (yes, dry)
*1 C hot water

Less Quick
*1 Tbls or 3 cubes beef boullion
*1 Tbls chopped or minced dried onion
*1 tsp garlic powder
*1/2 tsp onion powder
*1 tsp McCormick's Nature's Seasoning (You can use another mix but you will notice that no where in this do I mention salt and pepper.)
*1/4 tsp cumin
*1 tsp paprika
*dash of allspice or nutmeg
*1 Tbls dried parsely (yes, dry)
1 C hot water

Put the water onto boil. When it is add the noodles to cook. If you do this right both noodles and stroganoff will be done at the same time.

In a skillet over med-high to high heat (Check your pan specs) brown the beef and onion.

In a medium measuring cup or bowl, mix your dry seasonings and hot water.

Drain meat if necessary, add seasoning mix and bring to a boil. Add wine. Reduce heat slightly an allow to simmer. Check your noodles.

When you've reduced about a quarter of you liquid in the beef, toss in the carrots and cabbage or celery and allow to cook to reduce by half.

If noodles are ready, drain and cool with cold water to stop the cooking process, set aside.

Add butter to beef mixture. I don't like mushrooms but if you do? Add them now.

Stir and reduce heat to low and stir in sour cream.

Run hot tap water over your noodles to heat them up without cooking them, drain again and place on plate or in a past a bowl. Spoon beef mixture on top.

Garnish with a little dollop of sour cream and some paprika, and yes, if you like the taste of scallions, I highly recommend them as a munchable garnish. Take a bit of scallion, then a bite of stroganoff and be amazed.

The cheat tips?

1. Cooling your noodles with cold tap water, even to the point of refrigeration, and then warming them back up again with hot water for a few seconds is a great way to ensure you have plenty of pasta when you need it without worrying about it being overcooked. If you go as far as refrigerating (or even freezing it) toss the noodles with a little oil before storing, and make sure your water is boiling or close to it. You can dip a strainer or collander of cold pasta into the water for about 20 second much like you would blanch vegetables. Two of the restaurants I've worked for did this routinely, and people were always kind of amazed that in a high volume market, the pasta was never over or underdone or cold.

2. That little dab of butter -- butter isn't a seasoning or additive often thought of in connection with beef (although Ruths Chris Steak House has a made a name for itself with it) but for dishes like this, it adds a richness to the sauce and a nice texture on the tongue. You really do only need that 1/2 tsp though -- anything more and your sour cream will taste more like butter cream (or so I think), mostly because used this way it is meant to flavor rather than being a fat to cook in.

3. Not a tip but an add on: this recipe works perfectly well with better cuts of beef as stroganoff is meant to be; beef or sirloin tips are especially nice. But honestly, the seasoning is what makes it good and it works regardless of the cut of beef, so unless you are just into the bite and chew mouth texture of tips, save yourself a few buck and go for the ground beef or ground chuck. I do not recommend stew beef though. This is a fast dish, and stew beef needs time to become tender.

And just for comparison, this is a classic Stroganov recipe: (Excellent, but takes more time and I'm not all that fond of what Worcestershire does for beef when it's the primary seasoning.)

Classic Beef Stroganov

1 pound beef steak, trimmed of fat
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
dash paprika
dash white pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Slice meat across the grain into cut into thin bite-sized strips.

In a skillet over med-high, melt butter and oil until foamy. Add the mushrooms and onion, and cook quickly, until browned. Remove the mixture from the pan and reserve.

In the remaining drippings ( you may need to add more butter) brown meat on both sides. Re-add mushroom mixture, salt, Worcestershire, paprika, and pepper

Reduce heat and add sour cream. Stir until sauce is heated through but don't boil. Serve over noodles and garnish with parsley.


Monday, September 24, 2007


despite the 90 degree weather today, it's still shifted to autumn for me. The evening's are cool after the sun goes down, the air less oppressively moist, and the cicadas are tapping out their last songs for the year. No leaves have turned yet (unless from drought) but the Dogwoods are sporting their red seeds, the Crepe Myrtle's are starting to fade and the grass isn't growing so quickly with or without rain.

I've got nothing of real interest to say at the moment, since I'm not as willing to shift into personal mode here, but I do welcome fall as I do spring. Even here in the south, Summer and Winter are too extreme, too much for me most days and I far prefer spring and fall.

So, I'll bring you some Sara Teasdale instead and a nice cup of cinnammon tea

September Midnights
by Sara Teasdale

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
Ceaseless, insistent.

The grasshopper's horn, and far-off, high in the maples,
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence
Under a moon waning and worn, broken,
Tired with summer.

Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,
Snow-hushed and heavy.

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,
Lest they forget them.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The internet age of idiocy

I was going to post a bunch of links to the SWFA vs. Scribd kerfluffle but I was too slow and other people are far more informational and even-handed than I would be, so instead I will point you to Tobias Buckell who has done an excellent job of summarizing the events and fallout and gather various perspectives.

I keep trying to have faith that at some point, publishers, professional organizations, movie studios, the music industry and other businesses working damn hard to get every consumer dollar they can will figure out a way to use the internet without pissing off the very people they want to give them money for product.