Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cooking - Chicken & Rice, Argentine Style

I've been craving a chicken and rice dish for a while now and since it wasn't going to prepare itself, I got in the kitchen and made it. I don't really enjoy going into a big production just for myself, but eventually, one gets tired of rye crackers and cheese.

Don't let the length of the following recipe scare you. I go into a lot of detail here. It's really a very simple, everyday dish and easy to make.

Chicken and Rice Arroz con Pollo


4-6 large chicken breasts or thighs or a combination - I prefer skinless, boneless breasts
1 large green or red bell pepper or both
optional: a couple of jalapeño peppers if you want a little spice
1 large yellow onion
1 big fat or 2 smaller carrots
a few fat cloves of garlic
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 16-oz bag of frozen peas
brown rice
black pepper
olive oil

Preparing the chicken:

1. Rinse the chicken pieces under cold water.

2. Dry the wet pieces of chicken on a stack of newspapers with a paper towel on top. This is a neat little trick that I came up with when I need to drain something on paper towels. Instead of using up a bunch of paper towels to soak up water or oil, use the newspapers to do the absorbing and only a paper towel on the top layer where the food touches. Always thinking... Anyway, pat dry the top side with another paper towel.

3. Sprinkle salt, pepper and turmeric on the top side of the chicken. I use turmeric quite a bit - in tomato sauces, soups, stews, stir fry, ratatouille, etc. I'm probably all yellow inside, but turmeric has some very good properties. Read more about turmeric here and here.

4. In a large stainless steel skillet, cover the bottom with olive oil and heat.

5. Add the pieces of chicken, the spiced side facing down.

6. Sprinkle salt, pepper and turmeric on the side facing up - the side that wasn't spiced before.

7. Let cook on medium heat. You'll know when it's time to turn the pieces over when they can be lifted from the pan without sticking too much to the bottom. Tongs work nicely for this.

Preparing the veggies:

While the chicken is browning:

1. Cut the peppers in half, lengthwise, remove the seeds and ribs (the white part), cut into thin strips, about 1/4 inch.

2. Do the same with the jalapeños. Be careful how you handle those. You might even want to wear gloves. That stuff gets on your hands and you could hurt yourself or someone else if you touch them afterwards. That oil does not wash off easily. I've done this and then went and put my contacts in my eyes. OWWWW!!!! This is not a traditional ingredient. We don't even have jalapeños in Argentina. I added it myself because I like spicy food and it's good for your metabolism. Again, always thinking...

3. Chop the onion into about 1/2 inch pieces.

4. Peel and grate the entire carrot. You'll never notice it in the finished dish.

5. Coarsely chop a couple of cloves of garlic. The best way to chop garlic is to put the cloves on the chopping board with the peel still on them. Lay the flat part of your knife's blade on top of the clove, then with the base of the palm of your other hand, give it a good whack to flatten the clove underneath. The peel will separate from the garlic and you can pull it off with ease. Boom, boom, flatten and peel your cloves. Now, the smashed garlic cloves are much easier to chop up than if you started with intact, peeled cloves.

Sautéing the veggies:

1. In a 6-quart stainless steel pot, cover the bottom with olive oil and heat until a haze forms over it.

2. Dump in all the vegetables, except the garlic.

3. Stir up, to coat the veggies with the oil.

4. Sprinkle salt, pepper and turmeric over the veggies

5. They should be sizzling nicely.

6. Stir a bit.

Putting it all together:

1. The chicken pieces should have already been turned over and nicely browned on both sides by now. Cut the large pieces, the breasts, in half and add to the sautéing veggies. It's okay if they're still slightly pink in the center.

2. After you transfer all the chicken to the veggies, stir a bit and let it continue to sauté.

3. Add the chopped garlic to the pot now. Stir around.

4. The chicken pan should have some nice brown bits on the bottom. This is why you want a stainless steel pan and not a teflon pan. Add about a cup of water to the pan and heat it up, scraping all those brown bits loose with a wooden spatula. You'll have a nice gravey-colored liquid. There's a lot of flavor there.

5. Add that liquid to the chicken and veggies. Stir and continue to sauté. You're almost done now.

6. Dump the entire can of tomatoes in a blender and puree them quickly, enough that all the tomatoes are liquified and no big solid pieces remain.

7. Pour it all into the chicken and veggies.

8. Add water, both into the tomato can and blender, swish around to get all the remaining tomato juice from each. Dump into the pot.

9. Thinly slice another couple of cloves of garlic. Add to the pot. Stir.

10. Sprinkle some more salt and turmeric in there. Turmeric is a natural thickener. Some idiot on a cooking show was marveling how adding yellow mustard to a sauce magically worked as a thickener. He didn't have a clue that it was the turmeric in the mustard that was doing it. Geesh.

11. Bring to a boil. This won't take long at all.

12. Now, stir in the brown rice. I eyeball it. As a general rule, it's two parts liquid to one part rice. So, keep a tally of how much liquid you've added to this whole thing, including the tomato juice, but you don't want the finished product to be dry like plain rice - you want it a little saucy, so use less than half the amount of liquid. If you need a measure, use the empty can of tomatoes. Fill it about 3/4 full of rice. Considering the added water and the tomato juice, that should be about right. You'd rather have too little rice than too much or there won't be enough liquid to cook it.

13. Bring to a boil. Won't take long. Cover. Turn heat all the way down. Let it cook for thirty minutes. Don't touch it or lift lid at all.

14. While waiting for the rice to cook, take the peas out of the freezer, dump into a colander, run cold water over them to defrost them a bit, then let them sit there.

15. After thirty minutes, you stir in all the peas. Check a couple of grains of rice to see that it's cooked to your liking. Cover and turn up the heat a little. Cook about 5 minutes or more, depending on how soft you like your rice. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for about 10 minutes.

That's it. It's really a very easy dish to prepare. Nothing fancy, but very tasty, healthy and homemade, with no prepackaged junk or chemicals.

And if it seems too liquidy, don't worry, the liquid will be absorbed by the rice after sitting a while. Serve it up anyway. And it's one of those dishes that's even better reheated the next day for leftovers, after sitting in the fridge overnight.

White rice is traditionally used in this dish, but I don't touch the stuff. It's not good for you. Brown rice, on the other hand, is very good for you, so stick with that.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sending Out An SOS

The only way I've ever known how to make money is not going to work for me at this time - maybe later, but right now I'm basically a functioning retard, at least in comparison to how I was prior to receiving a thorough thrashing about by life.

What I did for a living was mentally intensive and I can now barely write without errors or read with comprehension without having to slowly re-read. My once iron-trap brain has turned into a sieve. I am still logical though and logic tells me that I need to make a change. This post isn't about my state of mind. Although, most everything does come down to one's state of mind. The matter here involves attempting to overcome said state.

Doing nothing constructive is not helping to improve this situation one little bit. It's my nature to be constructive, accomplishing something, making money or at least attempting to do so. For a long while now I've been floundering around, letting time pass, while I stand still - only it's not possible to stand still relative to time. We just simply fade in its wake.

Anyway...I thought I had hit on a business venture but it fell through. It wasn't a bad plan but it required that I depend on someone and, well, that someone is not very dependable - very, very talented, but ultimately undependable. How could I put time, energy, money and expectations in the hands of someone who I could not rely on 100%? People don't change in this respect. This was a failure waiting to happen. So, instead of getting any further into it and then being stressed over things that I have no control, I decided to drop the whole thing. And it's probably for the best as I have always either stood on my own two feet or fallen flat on my ass. I can accept failing. I can't accept failing because of someone else.

There I was, back to square one. Then last week, I was mowing my yard, a nice sized yard - my house sits on almost a half-acre lot. I was thinking of all the labor I put into maintaining this yard and house. As I am not yet completely brain dead, one thought led to another. I thought, it would be nice to make this yard and house pay off for me. Doggies love nice yards to run around in. People have doggies and have to leave them alone all day long when they go to work. Some doggies live in apartments or condos with little or no yard, rarely getting a chance to run loose. People love their doggies and spend money on them. I love doggies. I love to be at home. I hate dealing with people. I could have a doggy daycare right here at home!

Yes, I could see myself having dogs around during the day, doing their doggy things, letting them run around the yard, coming in and going out as they please. I could put a doggy door in the kitchen door that leads to the garage, then make a doggy door in the garage door that leads to the back yard. I could set up the garage with their food bowls, water and places for them to sleep or relax. Dogs are sociable animals by nature, so they'd get along. And I would only accept sociable dogs.

It would require very little overhead costs - none really. People would provide the food for their dogs. I could also charge extra for bathing them. I wouldn't have to do that myself. Just let them go over into the neighbor's pool... Ha! No, I could call the mobile dog grooming van I've seen around and pass on the cost to the client.

I could also offer pickup and delivery of their furry darlings - for a fee, of course.

I think there is a market for this kind of service. The only thing stopping me from going ahead with it right away is that I don't have a fence surrounding my yard. It's lined with trees and bushes but no fence. And with that large of a yard it would cost a pretty penny to install a fence. I need to have a very good reason to believe that this business could work to justify this kind of expense.

My state of mind being what it is, I am not looking to make any breakthroughs as an entrepreneur. Also, I've never been a business-minded person. But, this doggy daycare seems to be a business that doesn't require much business know-how. I have the property for it, I am very resourceful and have plenty of common sense to make the service attractive to clients and get it going.

So, what do you all think? Am I nuts? Any suggestions, questions, advice, criticism, etc. would be very much appreciated.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Slice of Summer Delight

I've just finished eating a big chunk of my very first watermelon of the year - the first of many that will be devoured throughout the long, hot summer days ahead. Ah, what a delight is this cold, crispy, juicy, sweet fruit.

This glorious creation was designed specifically for hot weather. It is THE perfect summer food. Watermelons are available all year round in the grocery store, but its existence has no meaning outside of the hot summer months. I would even go so far to say that it probably isn't healthy to eat watermelon during cold weather. Watermelon was designed to work on the body to combat heat. And our bodies function differently during warm weather than during cold weather. It seems counterproductive to eat this fruit during the winter. I go by what my body tells me and my body couldn't care less about watermelon from September through April.

Watermelon has some interesting properties. For example, I will get a bad stomach ache if I eat watermelon on an empty stomach. Nothing else does that to me. I don't know why this is but it is. And drinking a glass of ice water will not cool down my body like eating a cold slice of watermelon - my whole body feels like it's cooled down from within. I also imagine that there is no purer form of water than the water that is contained in a watermelon.

I prefer to buy the small, seedless varieties. The meat is sweet throughout, like the heart of the big watermelons, with no seeds to mess with. They also take up much less space in the fridge. I am very picky and will take my sweet time when selecting fruits and vegetables, so I'm thumping and sniffing and squeezing all over the produce department. But watermelons, and melons in general, can be tricky. Sometimes I will get a dud. That is, it's not very sweet or the meat is grainy or mushy. Those are the kind that are perfect for the blender. Just fill up the blender with ice and chunks of watermelon, blend until it's all completely pureed. You have a delicious, sweet and refreshing summer drink.

Speaking of watermelons and drinks... I used to vacation quite often in the Mexican seaside resort towns - mostly Puerto Vallarta. I met and became friends with the owner of the hotel I was staying at the first time I went to Puerto Vallarta and from then on was treated like a queen by the whole staff whenever I'd be there. And PV is a short flight from Dallas so a quick 3-day trip was always a welcome change from inland life - although I'd usually extend my trips to a week or more. Once I stayed more than two weeks, lazing around the beach, playing tennis, drinking, eating fresh seafood. Damn, it was always hard to make myself return to reality. And being fluent in Spanish is definitely an advantage. The Mexicans loved me. Mexicans are wonderful people when they stay in Mexico - where they frickin' belong. As I was saying, the drinks... they make this drink in a large, hollowed-out watermelon shell and fill it with all kinds of alcohols and fruit juices. It has pretty things floating in it and four straws sticking out of it. A very fun and sociable drink, indeed, and you don't need to be at a seaside resort to enjoy it.

Watermelon rinds are edible too...but only if you're a horse. I would always share my watermelon with my horsey. After I'd finish off my part, I'd feed her the rinds. Those huge jaws had no problem crunching down the rinds and she loved it. Life was really good then, almost like a dream, when I think back on it.

Anyway, from now until the end of August, my fridge will not be without a watermelon sitting inside of it. And those of you who don't like watermelon or don't bother with it, well, you're just weird. There is nothing not to like about watermelon! Oh, and I know some people who will put salt on their watermelon. That's pretty weird too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Boob Tube

From Wiki:

The Wasteland Speech was given by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Newton N. Minow on May 9, 1961:

"When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.

But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit-and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you — and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland."

This speech is properly titled "Television and the Public Interest". It was a landmark speech for the medium of television, at a time when there were only three networks in the United States and when the realm of television was much less vast than it is today. Nonetheless, it is counted as one of the one hundred best American speeches of the 20th century by several authorities.

This speech is as true today as it was 46 years ago... ... We interrupt this post for a special message:

Oh shit! I cannot believe this coincidence! I freak myself out sometimes.

I decided to write this post while watching our local morning news program. They were talking about American Idol and I was thinking how I have never even seen one episode of it.

While writing the post, the phrase "vast wasteland" popped into my head, so I Googled television "vast wasteland" to see who originally said it. I copied and pasted the above excerpt because it seemed an appropriate entrance to this post.

Just this instant when I went to check the date to calculate the number of years for my opening line, I see that it was said in 1961, 46 years go, and then I see that it was said exactly on this very day, May 9th! 365 to 1 odds. Maybe I'll buy a lotto ticket today...

We now return to our regularly scheduled posting...

I started thinking about my TV viewing habits. Apparently, I am not anywhere near the target audience that the network programmers have in mind. This is not surprising to me as I have rarely been entertained by popular culture. I can tolerate some of it, but more often it repulses me - always has.

A few years back, for a couple of years, I didn't own a television set and didn't watch it at all. After a while I came to realize, with dismay and disgust, the incredible power of this vast wasteland.

Television is our social dictator. Through this medium we are told what's in, what's out, what to think, what to eat, what to wear, what to do and who to do it with, how to act, what is acceptable and what is not, even our manner of speech. We may think we're individuals but to a large degree we are not - not as long as the majority of us keep our eyes and minds trained on that boob tube.

Here are some past and present popular TV shows of which I have yet to see one episode:
  • American Idol
  • Survivor
  • Any reality show
  • Any makeover show
  • CSI or any of those forensic shows
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • Scrubs
  • Will and Grace
  • Sex and the City
There are many more, but, you know - out of sight, out of mind.

I have neither cable nor satellite so am limited to whatever the antenna on my roof can pick up. I have been telling myself that I will get either cable or satellite, but I must not want it enough to actually do anything about it. Here are the channels I can pick up:

Channel 02: KDTN -Daystar (Denton)
Channel 04: KDFW - Fox (Dallas)
Channel 05: KXAS - NBC (Fort Worth)
Channel 08: WFAA - ABC (Dallas)
Channel 11: KTVT - CBS (Fort Worth)
Channel 13: KERA - PBS (Dallas)
Channel 21: KTXA - Independent (Fort Worth)
Channel 22: KNAV - Genesis - Mexican crap
Channel 23: KUVN - Univision (Garland, Texas) - Mexican crap
Channel 26: KODF - Azteca America - Mexican crap
Channel 27: KDFI - My Network TV (Dallas) My 27
Channel 28: Looks like Christian stuff
Channel 29: KMPX - Spanish Independent - Mexican crap
Channel 31: looks like a shopping channel
Channel 33: KDAF - The CW (Dallas)
Channel 34: Mexican crap
Channel 38: Mexican crap
Channel 39: KXTX - Telemundo (Dallas) - Mexican crap - used to be American
Channel 44: KLEG - Ind./Spanish (Dallas) - Mexican crap
Channel 46: KJJN-LP - Religious/FamilyNet (Mesquite, Texas)
Channel 49: KSTR - Telefutura (Irving, Texas) - Mexican crap
Channel 50: Mexican crap
Channel 52: KFWD - Independent (Fort Worth)
Channel 55: KLDT - Ind. (Lake Dallas)
Channel 58: KDTX - TBN (Dallas)
Channel 68: KPXD - i (Arlington, Texas)

The number of Mexican crap stations around here is alarming. Even more alarming is the type of programming they air. It is beyond rubbish. I am fluent in Spanish but understanding the language is unnecessary to get an understanding of the bad taste, immaturity and stupidity that entertains the Mexican. It is mind-boggling stupid - making The Jerry Springer Show look like Masterpiece Theater in comparison.

I wonder when the first Muslim-approved channel will terrorize the airwaves in these parts.

I consider television to not only be the vast wasteland so aptly described in that speech, but a vast waste of life. Even as a child it would often anger me to see my family idly gathered around the television. It didn't seem right for people to be watching other people living their lives, instead of living their own lives.

Funny how things work out. I have that damned thing on almost all the time now, mostly for background noise, as I rarely direct my attention to it for any length of time. The wisdom of my childhood has been lost on me these days.

Update: I just received this comment, via blogger, which won't show up in Haloscan. I really need to fix that problem with my stand-alone posts. Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise. One never knows on whose eyes our posts will befall.

Posted by Nell Minow to MIND OVER BLATHER on May 14, 2007 10:45 AM:

I got a big kick out of your post about the speech my dad gave in 1961. He will, too. Thanks for the kind words on his speech and your thoughtful insights on its validity today.

You are most welcome, Nell Minow, and thank you for stopping by. I am always happy to give someone a big kick!

It would be interesting to know what Mr. Minow's thoughts are concerning the Internet.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

QubeTV - The Politically Incorrect YouTube

I am plugging a new video hosting site that is attempting to rival YouTube - but without the PC censoring. It's QubeTV. The liberal bias of YouTube has been made evident by the types of videos they select to remove from their site. This is no surprise considering that a gaggle of liberals, Google, owns YouTube. As I abhor anything PC, I am happy to push this counter-PC effort. They still have a long way to go with development, but it's a start. Best of luck, QubeTV.

About QubeTV is dedicated to bringing your conservative take on politics and culture to the Internet. We know that the history of the modern mass media has been liberal in both its ownership and content for decades. With the world of the Internet playing an increasingly vital part in both our politics and culture, conservatives cannot sit back and cede the territory of online videos and pictures. There will, doubtless, be many conservative sites vying for your attention. We here at QubeTV hope to win your loyalty by committing ourselves to making this your favorite conservative place in the Internet universe. You are the star – the investigative political reporter, the anchor, the comedian, the believer, the student, the jock – and you have a camera.

If you live in New Hampshire or Iowa and you have a presidential candidate pulling into town – consider yourself a reporter for QubeTV. Tell us something we don’t know – better yet show us! If there’s a controversy on your college campus or in your community – show us all! And of course, as you navigate through the films, books, TV shows, commentators, and more that fill up our daily lives – give us your take on that too.

Charlie Gerow is a former campaign aide to the late President Reagan and the conservative activist extraordinaire. The head of Quantum Communications, a Pennsylvania public relations firm, he knows a thing or two about the frustrations conservatives have had over the years in getting their message out. Jeff Lord, a former White House aide, has had his own career as an author and commentator. They have joined forces to create an exciting opportunity in the rapidly expanding field of online videos and pictures, a web site completely devoted to the conservative movement that Ronald Reagan led so well for decades.

So come on in and sign up! It’s free! We know you are out there, and we certainly know you are smart, funny, opinionated, thoughtful, creative, clever, well-read, savvy and – conservative!

Join the fun!

Charlie and Jeff

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Go Away May Day

I will be switching channels the split second any crap May Day story starts up. Seeing those invaders brazenly marching on our streets that were paid for by our taxes, carrying their stupid signs, waving their filthy flag in our faces, waving the US flag, which they don't even deserve to touch, and demanding, DEMANDING! rights to which they have zero rights to have, well, it just makes me want to go Cho on the whole brown lot of them. It is a perfectly natural response to an invader. I will not apologize.

Can anyone remember when citizens marched in these numbers across the country? This is a big part of the problem. It would appear by these massive demonstrations that the illegals want this country more than we do. If we, the people, held a counter march, like the very next day, to protest illegal immigration, it would send a crystal clear message to the dirty scoundrel politicians and the Mexicans themselves that WE ARE NOT GOING TO TOLERATE ILLEGALS IN OUR COUNTRY!

Never gonna happen. It's a rotten, crying shame. We are going to tolerate ourselves right out of everything we built here.

It just occurred to me that it's raining. Yes! Let it rain, rain, rain on your frickin illegals' parade!