Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"I love you, Shane."

I was in the company of a handful of folks this afternoon. We watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Most of the folks were 21-22; three of us were 50 or 50+. (Apologies, Michael, if you are only 49.) 

The question, "Who's seen the movie Shane?" came up. Three less-than-perfectly-smooth hands went up.

It's at this point that I just want to gloat. If I had said, with the proper voice inflection, "Shane..." when The Girls were all here, I would have been met with a chorus of, "Shane... I love you, Shane." (I have similar feelings about every single string of words in White Christmas.) And that makes me a really Good Mother (even though our rhetoric isn't quite true).
Joey: Shane! Come back!
Joey: I just love Shane!
Joey: Pa's got things for you to do. And Mother wants you. I know she does!
Shane: [to Joey] You go home to your mother and your father and grow up to be strong and straight.
Mr. Big Food, Daughter C., and I watched Rudolph last evening. Daughter C. did some live but not online blogging while we were watching. It's all very incorrect. There are all manner of isms in Rudolph. And by-gum there ain't no icebergs anymore, as Nora would say.

It's disturbing to me that young people in more or less Rural Mississippi don't know Shane

Recipe: Southern Chicken Casserole

“Southern” because it’s cooked to death, until the chicken falls off the bone

[And, I'll add, because it has bacon.]


Serves 4 generously

2 ½ - 3 lbs chicken, whole cut up or parts
½ lb bacon
4 medium potatoes, pared and quartered lengthwise
2 C veggies (green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, squash—you choose; thawed if frozen)
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ C green onions or shallots, minced
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350o. In Dutch oven, fry bacon until crisp. Remove and drain. Add chicken to bacon drippings, browning on all sides. Remove chicken to a 2-quart casserole. Layer veggies on top of chicken. Sprinkle with poultry seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Fry quartered potatoes in remaining bacon drippings, browning on all sides. Place browned potato slices on top of chicken and veggies. Top potatoes with onion slices. Top all with green onions, and parsley. Top with bacon broken into pieces. Cover. Bake for 1 ½ hours.

"Serves 4 generously"  
This is good people like The South. We have a very generous definition of "generous."

A bit of actual web logging

UPDATE: Second best commercial ever (next to the September 11th superbowl ad from Bud).

Weather, not Climate
... as of today it has been 2,226 days since the last major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) hit the US mainland.  Unless a big hurricane hits this winter, it means we are on track to break a 100 year record for the longest gap between major hurricanes hitting the coast.  (The last Big Calm was between 1900 and 1906.)

Occupy the Kitchen by mississippiveggie (plus a soup recipe at the end)
...  Have you noticed that the kitchen is the black hole of every party?  Some sort of old-timey hearth instinct draws people there and then, as they cross doorway, they stop in space and time, lurking at the event horizon.  Thus the kitchen becomes crowded with aimless guests.  They half-heartedly offer to help.  Or try to help but muddle along until they’re more of an insurance liability.  It’s an Occupy the Kitchen movement.  
A MARINE was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU. One day he shocked the class when he came in, looked to the ceiling, and flatly stated, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.” The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am God I’m still waiting.”

It got down to the last couple of minutes when the MARINE ...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Button Box

Contents of Aunt Margaret's button box
ALTERNATE POST TITLE: How to Tempt Poor Little Rocky

I am beginning a project which I will post a bit about from time to time. I won't be able to be particularly specific-- Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, and all-- but I will share parts of it with my reader(s). 

The project-- actually there are three projects, no, technically six, no, three sets of two-- requires buttons and ribbons and other fun things. So last evening I got out Aunt Margaret's button box. The button box is full of crappy old buttons and other stuff. The vast majority of the buttons are mother of pearl. They are quite lovely.

What's even lovelier to me is that I have Aunt Margaret's button box. How many of us even have crappy old button boxes these days? How many of us take the time to remove old buttons from a worn out garment before we toss it in the rag bag? (Who has a rag bag?) And how many of us have a big mother of pearl belt buckle in our button box?

I really like that mother of pearl belt buckle. It will be hard to let it go. But it's destined to be part of the project. I'm sure Miss M. will take good care of it. She doesn't mind crappy old stuff.

Introduction to crappy old stuff.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday Thoughts: Cyber Monday Edition

J.C. Penney, Lines of a Layman, 1956
To be clear, much as I like Mr. Penney, and much as I admire the company he founded, I am no fan of JCPenney these days. JCPenney, circa 2011, is the antithesis of 
That first little store I called "The Golden Rule."*
I've claimed that Mr. Penney would not approve of "Black Friday." By that I mean both the term, and the practices thereof. How do I know this?

Do these words sound like they've been written by a man who would ask thousands of his associates to be at work at 3am on the day after Thanksgiving? I think not.
*Do not get me started on that other retail empire begun by a liar, thief and former JCPenney associate, Sam Walton.

Taking Stock

Each year, about this time of year, we take stock of what remains of the harvest and various collections of other edible things. 

We took stock of some frozen peppers.
This is a fine opportunity for me to divert from the main topic to comment on laziness. Mr. Big Food has a day-job. In fact, for the past 1.5 years, Mr. Big Food has had 1.5 day-jobs. And he still manages to manage our dining experiences quite nicely. And keep the paths cut. And keep up with Big Food. And do his own laundry. And stay abreast of SEC and BCSwhatever. And bring in firewood. And Bar-B-Que 260 pieces of chicken. And entertain me. The reason he's able to do all of these things is because he's organized. As any student of biology can tell you, it takes energy to stay organized. 
6CO2 + 6H2O [in the presence of radiant energy, i.e., sunlight] -->
C6H12O6 + 6O2
So when I hear people say they don't have time to cook at home or have a garden or put up pickles, I just point to Mr. Big Food and say, "Get your lazy butt out of your chair, get organized, and get 'er done." (I say this to myself quite frequently.)

The equation above describes photosynthesis, the process by which green plants convert the radiant energy of sunlight into a form of energy that can be used to maintain the organization we call "life."  When we take stock, we quantify how much energy-- and other good stuff like vitamins & minerals-- we have stored to maintain our lives over the winter.

Taking stock is fun, although it does take a while. No matter how well we try to keep track of what we're putting up while we're putting it up, some things inevitably slip through the record-keeping cracks. For example, we discovered that we have enough frozen whole tomatillos stored away to last a lifetime.

From; Who knew tomatillos were such a good source of vitamin D?
As I mentioned, taking stock does take some time. ...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Surely, you jest.

At 10:54 am Sunday, November 27, 2011 Wunderground Weather is forecasting snow for tomorrow.
Wouldn't that be something?

Accuweather is not buying it.


The Weather Channel is throwing caution to the wind.
These forecasts from the private sector are all well & good but we should only trust The National Weather Service, an agency of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a part of The United States Department of Commerce.

It's settled. TNWS says so.
NOAA has a 2011 budget of $5,500,000,000. That's five billion five hundred million United States Dollars, down fifty-six million dollars from 2010.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Egg Bowl Morning After

It's raining like crazy here. If we'd stayed for the game, we'd be confronting it, driving home, about now.  We went to the tailgate, chatted, took some pictures, ate, chatted, chatted with Daughter C., chatted some more, gave away our tickets, left, and came home. 

This was about 3pm. Very quiet & subdued.
I believe that I've mentioned that I hate my camera.

Bruno & I had a nice conversation about stripes.

Egg Bowl Morning Predictions

1. I predict I will see a lot of this over-priced stuff today, and that the more I think about the relationship between Big Business and Big College Sports, the more ticked off I will become.
You can't get to the Athletics page without going past this advertisement.
2. I predict the "highly-anticipated" matchup has a fair chance of turning out to be not all that good a game.
I predict by the end of the evening, one of these two teams will have a(nother) conference win.
Let's not forget that TSUN's coach and athletic director are gone after this game. And the Dawg's coach called last week's game "worst ever." Enthusiasm. 

3. I predict the chicken wings Mr. Big Food will drop off at the tailgate at 2:30pm (before the roads on campus are closed) will be gone before you can say, "Best chicken wings ever."

4. I predict by the end of the evening, many people will be miserable, despite what the score will be. From the National Weather Service:

[Keep reading for two more predictions.]

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dis-qualified Entrant: Gumbo

As you know, we are having a Fall/Winter Soup Contest. We are making up the rules as we go along.

Gumbo is soup. It is Fall.

I mulled over this all afternoon, and right before we were ready to serve the gumbo, I asked Mr. Big Food what his thoughts were on allowing the obvious winner-- because we are so familiar with it, because we have it in other seasons-- into the Contest. He disallowed it. Because we have turkey and duck and goose gumbo in all seasons. So Gumbo is not, strictly speaking, a "Fall/Winter" soup, even though it is our tradition to have Turkey Gumbo on Black Friday.

We make these rules up as we eat.

Rocky is due to arrive back at The Farm later this evening. I am perfectly blase (insert squiggly line over "e") about the whole thing.

"Black Friday" Thoughts: Pt. 2

America Has Been Good To Me

J.C. Penney, Lines of a Layman, 1956
Today I remember that the years have rewarded me for every talent I possess, and for every effort I've ever made-- amply rewarded me not only with the world's material goods, but richly rewarded me in many, many fine friendships-- rewarded me too with an almost endless series of deep and gratifying experiences.

This is no casual thought. I have often pondered it. I write of this now not merely because America has been good to me. It's often difficult for us in the United States to see this. Most of us were born in this country; we grew up here. Without giving it any particular thought we accept our country and the vast wealth, the many advantages, and the countless opportunities which it so lavishly bestows upon us. We take America for granted.

But while this may be quite natural--and is certainly understandable-- it's also dangerous. "Those to whom much is given, from them shall much be required." This ancient precept is as true for us today as it was for those to whom it was originally addressed two thousand years ago. Sometimes we forget that those stern old statements so cardinal in the faith of our fathers are true, not because they are written in the Scriptures, but rather they are written in the Scriptures because they're true. [Emphasis in original]
From PJM's Tatler; Maybe if he had applied himself when his country was providing him with free education, he'd know that the "?" is not the proper punctuation for this assertion.

Mr. Big Food has asked me repeatedly when "they" started calling the Friday after Thanksgiving "Black Friday." I had no answer. We used to call the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving "Two Big Days," and when stores began opening on Sundays, "Three Big Days." Even the sales circulars and signage were labeled "Three Big Days!!"

Curiosity got the better of me so I consulted that infallible source, Wikipedia, to learn that the term originated in Philadelphia in 1966. 
The term's spread was gradual, however, and in 1985 the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that retailers in Cincinnati and Los Angeles were still unaware of the term.
(No surprise there. Cincinnati isn't exactly up-to-the-minute on these sorts of things.)

I don't think I heard the phrase until the early- to mid-2000s. I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now. I doubt that Mr. Penney would like it. I am certain my dad would not.

Unlike, I'll bet, Mr. Protester, Mr. Penney has been rewarded with "an almost endless series of deep and gratifying experiences." I cannot fathom how participation in Black Friday qualifies as a deep and gratifying experience. But then again, I cannot fathom asking, "What can my country do for me?" 

More Black Friday thoughts here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pie: Pt. 3

The turkey, gravy, dressing "like my mother made," and unseen mashed potatoes

Cranberries, green bean casserole, and PIE.
The winner is Pumpkin Custard Pie.

To be fair, the vote was 2-1. Our dinner guest, The Bart Man, cast his vote for Perfect Pumpkin Pie because it was a perfect pumpkin pie. And that is was.  But the contest was for better pie, not better pumpkin pie. We were not interested in which pie was the pumpkin pie exemplar-- just which pie was better. The rules of these contests can get tricky, especially if you're not there to make them up as we go along.

Pie: Pt. 2 [Vegan update]

The pies, about to go in the oven

Pumpkin custard pie (L); Perfect pumpkin pie (R)

The pies, fresh from the oven

Perfect pumpkin pie (L); Pumpkin custard pie (R)

There will be a "Pie: Pt. 3" post after the sweet whipped cream is whipped, and we decide which pie we like better. "Why is everything a competition?" you may be asking. Because competitions are "critical reviews," says Mr. Big Food.

Miss M. called this morning to tell me she has a new-found respect for me. And she also understands why there was so much cussin' and swearing coming from the kitchen when I was making pie crust. She started cussin' after the first five seconds with her crust. The one I made for these pies, something like "Classic Crisco Crust," was pretty easy to deal with. I even managed to get the fluting around the entire pie. 

Miss M., a vegan, had to make some substitutions in her recipe. Margarine for butter.

I remember calling my mom when I was learning stuff. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pie: Part 1

I felt bad(ly) about ending on such a negative note in the previous post. 

I like pie.

We chose three of the smallest Sugar Pie Pumpkins.
Mr. Bog Food cut them in half and I scraped the seeds and guts out.

Aside... there are roasted pumpkin seeds coming.

And we put them in the oven.

And they came out looking like this:

There is PIE in my immediate future. Sure, I have to make some crust. That's the sacrifice I make to have PIE.

"Black Friday Thoughts": Part 1

Click to enlarge
This is from Lines of a Layman: The Golden Rule in Every Day Living, published in 1956 by WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING CO. Grand Rapids     Michigan.

The author is a guy named James Cash Penney. For real, he's the son of a preacher. He goes by J. C. Penney.

Those of us watching television this weekend are being assaulted by the company that bears his name. 

I was in a Penney's just the other day. I saw that the store was going to open at 4am, and I commented on this to the lady on the other side of the counter. She had to be there at 3. 

I said I'd never met James Cash Penney, but I'd known people who had. And that I thought he would be turning over in his grave if he saw what was going on.

I know my dad is.

Recipe: Creative Cooking Potatoes au Gratin

I expect this will be excellent in my lunch of leftovers.
We only made half the recipe.

“Among vegetables, versatility means potato! … reliable potato recipes guaranteed to spark any menu … Potatoes Au Gratin (great with Glazed Ham) …”—The Creative Cooking Course (1982)


Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 C sliced potatoes, cooked in boiling salted water until partially done, drained
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp flour
1 C milk
1 C cream
1 C chicken stock (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics section)
Salt, pepper, to taste
Dry bread crumbs
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350o. Place potatoes in a lightly greased casserole. Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in flour to make a smooth paste, add milk, cream, and chicken stock, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add salt and pepper to sauce and pour over potatoes in casserole. Bake 45 minutes. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs and cheese, and bake 4 to 5 minutes longer or until browned.

Recipe: Salmon Bake


Serves 4

1 lb can salmon, drained well, skin and bones removed [See below the recipe for the adjustment to this ingredient.]
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 C raw carrots, peeled and grated
1 small bell pepper, diced
½ C mayonnaise or salad dressing (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics and Appetizers … sections)
1 Tbsp flour
½ C milk
1/8 tsp paprika
1 egg, beaten
2 slices white bread (preferably homemade—see recipes in Baked Goods section)

Preheat oven to 350o. Sprinkle salmon meat with lemon juice, and fold in carrots, bell pepper, and mayonnaise or salad dressing. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a saucepan, stir in flour until smooth, add milk, and cook and stir until thick., Remove from heat, stir in paprika, stir a little bit of hot mixture into egg, then stir back into mixture (taking care not to curdle egg). Fold sauce into salmon mixture and spread in a lightly greased casserole. Butter bread slices, cut into squares, and arrange buttered sides up over top of casserole. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly and hot.

Crazy good
 Keep reading to learn how to substitute filets for canned salmon.

Recipe: Chicken & Broccoli Casserole in a Sweet Potato Squash Shell

As promised here's the recipe for Chicken & Broccoli Casserole. Instructions for the "in a Sweet Potato Squash Shell" follow the recipe.


4 chicken breasts
Salted water (to cover chicken)
10 oz broccoli spears, cooked and drained
1 C celery, cut in large chunks
½ C mayonnaise (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics section)
2 Tbsp onion, chopped
½ Tbsp lemon juice
10 ½ oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
½ stick butter crackers (like Ritz)
4 oz mushrooms, chopped

Cook chicken in boiling salted water with celery until done, and drain. Preheat oven to 350o. Line cooked broccoli spears in bottom of a greased casserole. Remove skin and bones form chicken, chop into bite-sized pieces, chop celery, and combine with mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice, cream of chicken soup, and mushrooms, mixing well. Pour mixture over broccoli in casserole and bake 25 minutes. Melt butter, combine with crumbled crackers, spread evenly over top of casserole, and return to oven for 5 minutes. 

Instructions for preparing the squash below the fold.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday before Thanksgiving

Grilled Salmon Bake

I think Mr. Big Food is at his best when he semi-improvises. We were to have a baked striped bass dish this evening. Unfortunately, this morning we unanimously concluded that the bass had seen better days. So he picked up a couple of "Product of U.S.A." frozen salmon filets at the Hog. When we got home, he scanned through The Big Food Manual, and this is what he came up with. (The recipe calls for canned salmon. I don't care for canned salmon.) He started a fire, grilled the filets, brought them inside to cool, picked the meat off the bone and proceeded with the recipe, which I will post.

Grilled Salmon Bake is good.

Creative Cooking Potatoes au Gratin
This was to accompany the baked striped bass dish. It did well next to the grilled salmon bake.

Tomorrow, we roast the Sugar Pie Pumpkins in anticipation of making pie. There will be two pies. One will be traditional. One will be a pumpkin custard pie.

I also need to pull the rest of the rutabagas this weekend. 

Where is A. Leland?

Disobedience and Misbehavior

I am working on a post titled, "The Lesson of Obedience." The main inspiration comes from Book of Good Manners by Frederick H. Martens (1923). This will be another in a "series" of posts on manners and civility. Here are the previous posts:

Meanwhile, I ran across two examples of human misbehavior in my morning travels around the world wide web. 

Tip of the hat to Kris at Shout First, Ask Questions Later-- whose subtitle is "Politics and one mother with a keyboard. Because in front of every informed voter is a frightened politician"-- for the first example. It is a video shot by the mother of two young boys who have thrown/are throwing a five pound bag of flour all around the living room. 

Some questions come to mind. Why is she video taping this instead of disciplining them? Did she already have the camera or did she allow them to continue while she went to fetch it? When is she going to start stopping them? And why-- why??-- would she put this video on-line? This is the equivalent of me catching Rocky doing something unacceptable in the living room, taping him, and then uploading it. "Look! I can't teach Rocky not to poop inside! Aren't I cute? Oh no! Poop. What am I going to do?"

The second story takes us into a future where the two boys, above, have grown up* to become staffers for Mississippi Congressman Steve Palazzo. (H/t Majority in Mississippi) The boys and their fellows throw
a two-night party in Annapolis and tried to impersonate the Congressman after getting a call from local police.
Occupy the Condominium. From the Roll Call (at The Hill) account:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oxford Updates (label: "silly stuff")

The food desert that is Oxford has a new restaurant on The Square.

And this, that I'll just copy, paste and link:
This just in.
The Ole Miss Alumni Association
is exploring the idea…

…of establishing an “on campus” memorial to honor proud alumni and friends. Throughout our history, Ole Miss has touched many individuals and created a proud and vibrant extended community. And while our school has helped shape the lives of those in pursuit of knowledge, it’s the people themselves who have made Ole Miss truly special.

Inspired by the devotion of our alumni and friends, we are considering the establishment of a small, on-campus memorial garden that would feature a columbarium containing the cremated remains of interested individuals. This permanent memorial would honor those who hold our school so dear to their hearts and give them a special place on our campus. We envision a peaceful garden landscape, complete with strolling walkways and reflection benches. Space in the columbarium would be available for purchase in advance of an individual’s passing. [My emphasis]
Read the whole thing. The comments are fun.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole in a Sweet Potato Squash Shell

Mr.Big Food asks if I want the recipe. 

"No," I say, "I'll post it tomorrow."

BEFORE: The casserole loaded into the pare-boiled end of a sweet potato squash

AFTER: The casserole, after it's baked in the par-boiled end of a sweet potato squash
It was so good! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chain-sawing: UPDATED with more photos

Of all of the pictures I took of them, I liked this posed photo the best.

Mr. Big Food (L); Mr. Kant (R)
The only missing element was Rocky.

UPDATE: A few more photos below the fold