Monday, February 05, 2007

Blues Highways Cookbook

I've had this small spiral-bound cookbook for over 5 years and never cooked a thing from it. That made it a prime target for my little project. I guess haven't used this one much is that I bought it on one of the last outings I had with an old boyfriend. Somehow I just left that sort of stuff along -- which was a mistake.

The author, Jason R. Girard, was the chef at Buddy Guy's Club on Chicago's South Side and he offers more than just downhome, Southern/Cajun Cooking, he offers a lesson in the blues as well. Each section of the book highlight a blues musical legend giving a brief biography and a woodcut illustration. Blind Lemon Jefferson, Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red are among those mentioned. I really enjoyed reading this little bios as well as the forward written by Buddy Guy.

The recipes include all kinds of goodies including Bananas Foster Baked French Toast, Hoppin' John, Legendary Jambalaya and Crawfish Etouffee'. Unfortunately, most of these dishes didn't sound good to my picky daughter, so I decided to cook up something for myself. I choose Bubba's Windy City Chili, making a 1/2 order and freezing it to bring for my lunch. It was a good choice, very easy and turned out yummy. This is a ground beef based chili with loads of green peppers and kidney beans. This has worked out great for my lunches ---very filling.

Another cookbook down -- 50 more to go.

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Geometry of Sin

I found this pretty interesting and worth the ponder. What are all the combinations of the Seven Deadly Sins?
Could second place truly be a path to Hell?

Found at Bits and Pieces by way of Neatorama.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Using what I have

A few weekends ago, I spent the better part of two days going through all my clothes. I opened and sorted through every piece of wearable fabric I own. What a huge job, but a real success.

I had just tons of clothes, but felt like I had nothing to wear. Every morning it was a depressing face-off between me and the closet and the closet normally won. I'm about the heaviest I have ever been (which is a whole 'nother topic) and also a pack rat. Finding an outfit each morning entailed looking at all the stuff I couldn't wear or didn't like. It is a poor way to start out the day.

So starting with my sock drawer (the easiest) I looked at everything. If something was worn out, dated or unappealing I put it in either the garbage or donate piles. What a mountain of clothes for Goodwill --- 5 lawnbags full. I also made a pile of "love it, but too small" that I've stored away for a while. This stored selection maybe a problem in the future, but I just couldn't bear to get rid of some of those items-- I really intend to lose some weight.

Mornings run smoother now that I can easily look at what is available in the closet. Everything fits me and is arranged by color, just like all those professional organizers recommend. I feel like I have new clothes because I found some great things hiding in the drawers.

I learned one thing the closet adventure which can be applied to the "use what I have" project. You have to know what you have before you really can use it.

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Check out Donald Crowdis at Don to Earth

Don Crowdis is a retired Canadian television personality who authors a very readable blog. Since Don is over 90 and a vital, well spoken guy, I decided I had better read him to keep my own hang ups about aging in check.
His current post on blogging raises the issue of the democracy of blogging. I'm not sure where I stand on this -- sure everyone can blog, but who are the readers? It's really hard to know if anyone is reading your stuff, unless they comment. If a blog falls in the forest, is there a sound?
Also, blogs can be echo chambers, I know that I tend to read blogs I agree with and not those that I don't. Since I have many views that aren't covered, as I would wish, in the mainstream press I tend to read blogs that cover them in the manner I agree with. It feels good to find similar minds, finally, after feeling like the lone wolf for years. But I also see the danger in being limited to only people we agree with. In fact, the growth of the 'blog media' may actually be a response to the sameness among mainstream media outlets because they just tend to echo each other, often using the same word in their coverage.
I'm getting a bit deep here for a Friday (especially pre Bears Super Bowl), I better pull out before I bring up Plato's Cave Metaphor....which I think applies. Are we just watching the shadows on the cave wall or have we broken loose and see it clearly in the sunlight?
Anyway, read Don to Earth -- he gives me hope about aging and still being ... cool or something.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

It's Milton Friedman Day

When all is said and done, there are only two economists you need to know about, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman. In 1776, the year of America's Declaration of Independence, Smith published the Wealth of Nation which defined economics (and capitalism) as serious subjects of study. In 1976, Milton Friedman received the Nobel Prize for his economic work on capitalism.
Friedman was a serious scholar and a wonderful teacher whose book and PBS Series "Free to Choose", showcased his ideas. I read that book in college and it was life changing. In the face of 1970's pessimism spread by disillusioned baby boomers, Marxism spouting teachers, this old guy talked about the power individuals had through choice. Thankfully, many people listened to Milton and capitalism helped spread freedom. (I need to re-read that book, I'm finding myself a little disillusioned these days.)

Today has been declared Milton Friedman Day, there should be many good articles to read. To get you started please read Ben Stein's article from November -- he knew the man well.

More events:

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mystery ABCs

Find a crytic note in an unknown alpahbet see some weird symbols on that sword? is the place to solve the mystery. This entire site is devoted to the written word or symbol -- over 150 language systems are cover with illustrations and history. Check out the puzzle section and see if you can help uncover any of the language mysteries there.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

The American Woman's Cookbook

The first cookbook on my shelf is The American Woman's Cook Book (1948). It seemed a good place to start my cookbook project. This was one of the few cookbooks my mother had around the house when I was young. I remember looking for Christmas cookie and candy recipes here.
This definitely vintage cookery here. If you want to what the post-depression, post-WWII American housewife was cooking, it's in this book. Mainly meat and potatoes recipes here with lots of cream sauces -- good for stretching the meat ration. The full color pictures are kind of nauseating, whether it's their strange pastel shades of green and pink or that the subject matter. The picture of ring of noodle aspic with chicken ala king in the middle is a true food nightmare. Thank god Mom only subjected us the the decidedly non-Chinese Chop Suey detailed on pg 334.
I choose an easy, safe dish to prepare for Hannah, Ham Baked in Milk. Pretty tasty, just rum a combo of brown sugar and mustard over a ham slice, plunk it in a casserole and cover it with milk. An hour later you get a yummy ham dinner. I didn't tell Hannah that I cooked the ham differently, but she tasted it and loved it.

So the first dish in the project went well, I'll keep the book. Who knows, someday I may have a taste for noodles in aspic.
If you want you own copy of this treasure, try Ebay and snag one for $9.99, Amazon has this listed for $24.00 and up --- go figure.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

52 Cookbooks

As part of my "Use What I Have" campaign, I took a good look at all the books I have around the house. I don't really know what I have. That goes for my cookbooks as well as my fiction and non-fiction volumes. By reviewing my books, I may not be easily seduced into buying more books on a whim. Cookbooks are practicable items and are supposed to be used, not just left on a shelf.
I have quite a collection, some purchased, received as gifts or inherited from my Mom. The kitchen bookshelves contain 52 cookbooks, ranging from the venerable, Joy of Cooking to the sadly titles Where's Mom Now that I Need Her?, there are pasta cookbooks, fondue cookbooks and even a Belgian cookbook.
I'm sure that when people see all those books there in my kitchen they must think I am a gourmet cook with a huge repitoire of recipes, but no. I just love reading cookbooks and having cookbooks --- at least that is what I have been doing.
This year I've decided I am going to cook at least one thing from each of my books and blog about it. The real challenge may not be the cooking, but getting my daughter, Hannah to try it. Looks for my cookbook project posts.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mistakes, I've made a few....

Today's internet is all about sharing. The younger generation (boy, it pains me to use that phrase) believes in sharing it all on the web. I'm not too into the whole MySpace thing, but I do have this blog --- so I guess I'm part of the movement.

So sharing mistakes is just part of the whole 'open life' on the Web thing. I just found Only Human were anyone can document any mistake they made. Check out the perils of "leaving unattended cool stuff with a dog around". This is just kind of a Duh moment for me, who doesn't know that dogs eat stuff, but I liked his solution, since I'm an animal lover.

It all reminds me of the Mistakes poster at is a wonderful, creative and demotivating company which lampoons those annoying Successories posters. As they say on their Motivation Poster " If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon. "

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