Friday, November 25, 2005

Holiday Recipe Blogging

This is a recipe I’ve been making every holiday season since forever, usually for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s that good.

Chestnut Soup

1 pound chestnuts*
Handful of leafy green celery tops (5-6 leafy stalks)
Handful of parsley (about 8-10 sprigs)
1-2 bay leaves (yes, size matters)
2-3 whole cloves
1 ½ tsp of thyme leaves.
2 14oz cans of chicken broth (vegetable stock works too)
½ cup of heavy cream
1/3 cup of medium dry sherry (amontillado)
salt/fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Pierce the flat sides of the chestnuts with a sharp knife then roast them in a 500 degree oven for 6-7 minutes until they are easy to peel from their shells. Remove the shells and inner skins with a sharp knife. Put them in a 3 quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Wrap the celery leaves, parsley, bay leaves and cloves in a cheesecloth pouch and put in the pot with the chestnuts. Add enough water to cover then add the thyme leaves and some fresh ground black pepper. Bring the water to a boil then simmer until the chestnuts are soft, about 25-30 minutes.

When the chestnuts are done, fish out the cheesecloth pouch and squeeze the liquid from the pouch out back into the pot with the chestnuts. Ditch the pouch. Puree the chestnuts, with their cooking water, in a blender. Add one of the cans of chicken broth and blend some more (so it will be thin enough to pour out, the chestnut puree alone is quite thick). Pour the chestnut/broth mixture back into the pot, then start adding the second can of broth. You may not need the whole second can. You don’t want the soup be too thin, maybe about the consistency of cream of tomato soup, so be judicious with the broth. Bring the soup just to the boiling point then turn the heat down to simmer. Warm the cream for about 30 seconds in the microwave, then stir it into the soup. Add the sherry just before you are ready to serve and simmer for two more minutes. Ladle into wide, shallow soup bowls and serve. The recipe should be enough for 4 generous helpings.

*If you find peeling chestnuts to be more than a little bit tedious (I sure do), buy them ready peeled in a jar from Williams Sonoma. If you buy them after the holidays, they will be on sale at something like $7.50 a jar and they’ll keep until next year. That’s cheaper than buying them fresh and shelling them yourself as well as a whole lot less work/aggravation and they are just as good. Plus, it’s a great demonstration of your advance planning skills (or anal retentiveness, whichever you prefer).

Update: Trader Joe's sells frozen pre-peeled chestnuts. (Thanks for the tip Sis!)
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Biofuels Regulations Destroying Rainforests

The law of unintended consequences strikes again. The irony here is delicious. Next up: Spotted Owl Droppings Harmful to Salmon.
(via Instapundit)
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Monday, October 31, 2005

I thought I might try a little photo blogging. One of my favorite activities, when I have time and money to indulge it, is flying. I also like to take pictures of airplanes or more specifically, pieces of them. Airplanes are works of art to me. This picture is of a 1968 Piper Cherokee 180 that I took around the end of July. The airplane is for sale. Sigh. Maybe someday.
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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Well, it seems I didn't have much to say in October, or rather others said it better and first. In that spirit, I guess I'll bookend the month with a link to an Instapundit post in which Glenn is forced to rehash, yet again, the fact that the version of the reasons for the Iraq war peddled by the MSM are just flat out wrong. I can't decide whether the individuals that make up the MSM are just plain stupid and lazy or malevolently dishonest.
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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Go to ZombieTime blog for a great example of how the MSM manipulates the news to give us a completely different impression of events than what is really transpiring. Are you beginning to get an idea of why I distrust the MSM? It's sad really, but most of the time I just assume I'm being lied to when I read MSM publications. (Via Instapundit)
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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Recipe Blogging I

Today I thought I'd try a bit of recipe blogging. I've found quite a few good recipes on other blogs so I thought I'd contribute a few of my favorites to the blogospheric collection. Both of the recipes below are ones that I adapted from other recipes I've found in cookbooks.

I will generally follow the book recipe once, just to give myself a baseline, then start adding/changing things to suit my taste. I suspect that's how most of us do it. Anyway, both recipes require fairly little prep time but will need a while to either marinate or simmer. They're both worth the wait though. I hope you enjoy them.
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Recipe Blogging II

Tuna Steaks in Sesame-Lime-Soy Marinade (for 8)

4 pounds of Tuna (or other firm flesh fish e.g., swordfish), cut into 8 steaks.

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (Try to find ripe, i.e., yellow limes. Those dark green things are probably two weeks away from ripe)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup sesame oil
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
¼ cup finely chopped scallion
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 scallion and 1 strip of lime peel, cut into julienne strips (for garnish)

Arrange the fish in a 9 x 13 glass dish with sides high enough to hold the marinade.

To make the marinade, combine the soy sauce, grated lime peel, lime juice, garlic, ginger, mustard, oil and chopped scallion and pepper in a small bowl. Mix well ( a blender works well here). Pour over the fish. Cover the dish and place in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat the broiler (or grill) until hot. Place the fish on a broiler pan (or on the grill) and broil or grill for 4 to 5 minutes each side. The fish should still have a hint of pink in the middle. Try not to overcook. If using a grill, keep some of the marinade aside and brush on the fish before turning. Transfer to a platter and pour the pan juices over the fish. Garnish with the scallion and lime strips.

Optional: you can also marinate some jumbo tiger prawns, shells on, with the fish and grill them too.

This recipe goes well with a nice dry sauvignon or chenin blanc, or chardonnay if you prefer a sweeter wine.
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Recipe Blogging III - Brother J's Three Bean Chili

This is a recipe I adapted from something I found in a book. It is tasty and fairly quick and easy to put together. It will serve 6-8 people.

1 15 oz. can pinto beans
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans
1 15 oz. can black beans
1/3 cup olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, chopped
3-6 fresh serrano or jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (depending on tolerance/bravery)
6 cloves of garlic
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef, sirloin works best.
3 - 6 tbsp (1 oz) chili powder (see above re tolerance/bravery)
1 ½ tbsp ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cans (28 oz) crushed plum (Roma) tomatoes
2 large bottles (20 oz.) pale ale such as Bass Ale (any beer works in a pinch though)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Drain and rinse the beans. Set aside.

In a large (4 qt), heavy saucepan or (stockpot) over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and chili peppers and sauté, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. When the onions are almost done, use a garlic press to add the garlic then add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne and oregano and sauté, stirring for 2 more minutes. While the onions are cooking, brown the meat separately in a skillet. I like to leave it in fairly large chunks, not fine mince. Drain and rinse the meat then add to the onions and spices, mixing together.

Add the beans, tomatoes, 1 bottle of the ale and enough water to just cover plus 1/4th of an inch. Drink the other bottle of ale (chilled glass optional). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve in bowls. Top with some sour cream and/or grated sharp cheddar cheese and some chopped green onions.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Why Meetings Are No Fun

I was reminded today of the Abilene Paradox. In short, four people end up doing something none of them really wanted to do, each because they think everyone else does want to. In the corporate setting, I call it the "Team Player" disease. It is particularly pernicious when some parties in the meeting are on speaker phone (pitching the idea) and can't see the body language of the other participants. The people in the room are looking at each other and shaking their heads but trying to make positive noises about the item under discussion. The people on the other end of the phone think everything is going swimmingly if only a few minor details are dealt with when in reality, the whole thing needs a fundamental rethink. I wonder how much time we all waste in meetings like this because nobody wants to be the first to say "it won't fly?"
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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Greetings all.

I've been lurking in the blogosphere since 2001, ever since about 9/11 in fact, when I first went and looked up this Instapundit thing I'd heard about somewhere. Since then, I have come to increasingly rely on blogs for my news. With a very few exceptions I've come to deeply distrust and even detest the mainstream media (henceforward the MSM).

I am starting this blog today not knowing quite where I want to go or what I want to do with it. I don't know how often I'll post or about what, save that whatever I post about will be what interests me/grabs my attention. I'll be adding to my blogroll (that thingy over to the left) in the next few days. It will mostly consist of what I consider my minimal daily reads or blog patrol, as I like to call it.

So, here it is, my first post. Let's see were this goes.
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