Saturday, October 27, 2007

Clay Pot Cooking

Nutritious, delicious, fast and easy, with minimal cleanup. What more can you ask for?

Let me introduce you to RÖMERTOPF. That's the word in clay pot cooking. If you guys don't have one of these, let me tell you, they're great and well worth the purchase price. They're not that expensive. I think the largest one is like $70.

If you don't get this brand, be sure the one you get is NOT glazed on the inside. I've seen types like that and that's just stupid. This defeats the whole purpose. The porous, unglazed surface retains water, releasing it to keep the food moist during cooking. Google Romertopf and read about it. You can also order them online or get them at most department stores or epicurean shops like Williams-Sonoma.

These clay cooking pots make the best roasts I've ever had. I have one of the huge ones. Not only does the food come out delicious, but preparation time is minimal. This is ideal for busy mothers or lazy single guys/gals like me.

Here's some info from the Romertopf site:

Clay pot cooking is an easy, efficient, healthy cooking method that seals in nutrients and cuts down on the need for added fats. Simply by soaking the Romertopf roaster in water before placing it inside the oven allows it to create and maintain moisture that cooks recipes to perfection, while preventing the nutrients from escaping.

Romertopf cooking not only saves nutrients, but also saves time. Simply soak the Romertopf in water for 5-10 minutes, place ingredients inside and place the whole pot in a cold oven set at 400-450 degrees. Then just walk away. Workout with your favorite celebrity, play with the kids, or soak in the tub for the 45 minutes to an hour the Romertopf needs to cook your meal to perfection.

Romertopf clay pots are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from the smallest which holds 2-5 lbs to the Maxi, which holds a 17 lb Turkey. They are unglazed to ensure perfect absorption, so that ample moisture is available in the cooking cavity.

There are many recipes for the Romertopf available online and you usually get a little cookbook with your purchase. Here's the basic roast recipe that I normally make.

While your Romertopf is soaking in cold water, you get everything ready. I soak mine for 20 minutes, not the 5-10 minutes recommended. That's about how long it takes to prepare everything anyway. You can't oversoak it. And don't preheat the oven. The Romertopf will crack if exposed to extreme temps suddenly. After you take it out of the oven, do not place it on a cold surface. I put in on the stove top burners.

Vegetables - any or all of the following:
  1. Onions
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Red and/or green bell peppers
  4. Potatoes
  5. Carrots
  6. Mushrooms
  7. Eggplant
  8. Zucchini
  9. A few garlic cloves - peeled and crushed
  10. Any other veggies you care to put in there like green beans, Brussel sprouts, turnips, yams - they all turn out delicious in there and everyone can select the ones they like. I love veggies so I'll throw everything in and have a veggie orgy.
Meat - one of the following
  1. Turkey breast
  2. A whole pork tenderloin
  3. Any cut of beef for roasting
  4. A chicken
  5. Small boneless leg of lamb
  6. Whole Cornish game hens
  7. Any other cut of meat you can think of that will fit in there. You may want to quickly brown the meat slightly on all sides first, in a pan. I will do that with the pork tenderloin.
  1. Salt
  2. Black pepper
  3. Oregano
  4. Turmeric - or any other spice you like
  5. Olive oil
Wash and cut up the vegetables into large pieces or not at all if they're small like the mushrooms. I slice the eggplant into rounds. Not having to chop or dice saves a lot of time.

I place the eggplant rounds on the bottom, the tomatoes on top of them. You can place the meat on top of some of the veggies, then add the remaining veggies on top of the meat and all around the sides of the meat. I usually have a huge mountain by the time it's all in there. Good thing the top is domed. It will settle and shrink after everything softens during cooking. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, a light spinkle of olive oil, turmeric and other spices as you go along putting it all together.

There really is no wrong way to do this. Once it starts going, all the flavors will blend beautifully, cooking in the meat's juices and moisture released by the clay pot.

Place in the center of the cold oven. Set the temp to 400-450 degrees as directed. Then just leave it alone for 45 minutes to an hour.

WARNING: Be very careful when you lift the lid from the pot after cooking is completed! The steam that comes out can burn you. I learned this the hard way.

You can serve the roast with a tossed salad on the side and French bread which is great for soaking up those delicious juices.

I gave a Romertopf to my sister. She has a husband, two kids, doesn't care for cooking and isn't very good at it (she called me up once to ask how to make a baked potato). Pretty ironic. She's a great wife and mother, but just hates cooking. Anyhow, she loves her Romertopf. The husband and kids do too...

Who'd A Thunk It

A while back my aunt had mentioned hearing about this new law, wondering if it was really true. I am happy to see here that it is most certainly now the law in this Great State of Texas. I forwarded this article to auntie. It will come as good news to her. She lives in the country and must often travel along very isolated roads.

It does come as quite a surprise. And to imagine that the anti-gun sheeple must be having fits makes this new law even more delish. Score one for the people! You sheeple can go shake under your covers.

I think I'll take Smitty for a ride today - show him the sights...

New law allows concealed weapons in car

04:26 PM CDT on Friday, October 26, 2007


DALLAS - A change in state law has made it legal for just about anyone to keep a handgun nearby, and that has local prosecutors concerned.

"[I] just feel safer with it in the car," said Gail Lewis, who is getting a permit to carry a concealed gun.

But thanks to a change in state law, she doesn't need a permit to carry a gun in her car.

"We're trying to explain the good side and the bad side of that," said Tom Mannewitz, a gun shop owner.

Mannewitz said the good side is that more people will be able to protect themselves from carjackers and the like.

In the past, a person without a gun license had to be traveling across county lines to drive with a concealed weapon. Now, any law-abiding citizen can drive while armed.

So, according to the Dallas District Attorney's Office, the bad side is not having an offensive attack against would-be criminals.

"Under the old law, maybe we could catch people before they broke the law with that gun," said Assistant District Attorney John Grau. "With the current law, we have to let them go."

The new law also states a gun owner can't take the gun out of the car unless they are taking it into their home or workplace, which means more guns left in cars that may become easy target for theft.

"You could be held liable for crimes committed with it," Mannewitz said.

Mannewitz said he recommends bolting the gun down inside the car when leaving it behind.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Sign of Life

I have wanted to post something to let those of you good people, who have been checking for a sign of life around here, know that indeed I am still among the living and remain somewhat lucid. So, I decided to post this email that I received today from a friend. That's the best I can do presently...

The few things I've heard about Ben Stein have been good in my eyes. I hope and pray that what is good in my eyes is what is good in God's eyes. I think when we nail that, we've got it made. To be on the same wavelength as God is my goal. He made reality, we fight it. I do not like fighting a losing battle nor do I like being manipulated by lesser beings, of which I include myself.

One can't be sure of the authenticity of things passed around the net, but if Mr. Stein did indeed write this, then he has my respect. It's a shame that we've reached the point in this country, in this world, where this sort of a declaration should be notable or even necessary in the first place. If the state of this country offends me, I can't imagine how our Holy God must look upon us - that is if He hasn't already turned His face away.

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this happen?" (regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.. She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in. My Best Regards.

Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein