Saturday, May 29, 2010

Morning News 5/29/10

Dinner with Kevilu last night. Thai food. We talked about movies for hours. We both hated "Pulp Fiction" and we don't care who knows it.

SUPER FANTASTIC GOOD NEWS! Malawian President Mutharika pardons couple sentenced to 14 years hard labor for holding engagement ceremony.

Puppet Grief. Avenue Q marks the passing of Sir Gary Coleman.

"Yes. Maybe. Well... No." The success of BP's top kill effort now not so certain.

DADT: Still In Effect. Wapo informs us that Gates reassures everyone "current law, policies and regulations remain in place" as Pentagon continues review and input from military personnel is sought. GOP plans campaign against equality as we gear up to mid-terms.

Volcanoes Are Dangerous. Thousands flee erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Ecuador. This link will take you to a BBC News video, including footage of a reporter who was killed moments after filming a segment.

"Could You Turn The Music Down Dmitri?" Russian activists outwit Moscow police, stage gay rights protest after "cat-and-mouse" with cops.

(Photo of Pad Ki Mao by Eliot from Castro Valley, California.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Menu Says "Galaxy Of Prawns"

"Three prawns is hardly a galaxy."

Gary Coleman, underrated, talented and abused by the system as a child star has died following complications after a fall and head injury. He was 42.

(Prawn Cocktail by PD-PDPHOTO.ORG)

Morning News 5/28/10

The Krusty Brand Seal Of Approval: "It's Not Just Good, It's Good Enough!" DADT compromise passes Senate Armed Services Committee and House. Step in the right direction, but firings continue and the White House shows it is behind the curve on this matter.

"Torture" Is Such An Ugly Word. Zimbabwe gay rights activists freed after six days in police custody.

They're So Cute When They Do That. Recently outed California republican state senator may be turning into a human being.

What Should We Cram In There? Obama heads to Gulf as BP tries to halt gusher. There's a Facebook page where you can vote to plug the oil leak with BP executives. (Hat tip to Gorey Girl.)

(Miss Understood 3 by David Shankbone)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

DADT Update

Multiple news services report that the Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to end the morally unacceptable, bigoted, crappy legislation known as Don't Ask Don't Tell.

We still have to wait for the house vote and for the Pentagon to delay everything by scratching its big, stupid, homophobic skull.

I am not clear on the details of the comprise hammered out over the last few days, and I'm not entirely happy with it, but this is an important step in the right direction.


(Photo of pink champagne bubbles by Gaeten Lee.)

A Few Words About Meatloaf

As far as comfort food goes, meatloaf is way up there on my list. My most recent loaf turned out really yummy, so here goes:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet. I like to use a cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with pan spray. I find this technique helps with clean up.

I started with two pounds of the leanest (96%) ground beef available.

3 eggs
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
8 sliced colossal green olives (optional, but super nice)
2 cloves crushed garlic (Optional, but you're a fool if you skip it.)
3 Tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons thyme
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of mint

Mix all of this together very thoroughly in a large bowl along with your two pounds of ground beef.

Form into a large loaf and place in the center of your prepared cookie sheet.

Using an additional 3-4 Tablespoons ketchup, glaze the top and sides of the loaf. You can use a pastry brush if you've got one, or a large soup spoon works pretty well.

Slip the loaf into your preheated oven and bake for 1 hr and 15 min or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 degrees.

A nice accompaniment is gratin potatoes. I like to use Yukon golds, which I slice into 1/4" coins.

Butter any large baking dish with tall sides and layer potatoes on the bottom. Lightly salt and pepper the potatoes and sprinkle some minced onion and grated cheese on top. Apply a second layer of potatoes and repeat the salt, pepper, onion and cheese. Repeat this process until all the potatoes are gone. Finish with cheese on top. Beat three eggs in a large bowl and add approximately 2/3 cup of heavy cream or whole milk. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. I believe I used a two-pound bag 'o taters in this recipe, half a minced onion and about 2/3 cup of cheese.

(This illustrates and intermediate stage in potato gratin construction.)

If you've done this after you put your meatloaf in the oven, you should be able to bake the potatoes for 45 minutes and the loaf and taters should both come out of the oven at about the same time. You'll know the potatoes are done when you can stick a sharp knife into the center of the dish and it will slide through with only the slightest resistance.

This was our dinner last Friday, when Dr. Snickerdoodle knocked me on my ass with whiskey.

We had avocado/tomato salad with our dinner, but if you really want to go for middle American comfort food I recommend steamed broccoli and/or asparagus and carrots.

Just like Mom used to make. Except my Mom hardly ever made it because my brother lives in pathological fear of meatloaf.

It's a long story.

Bon Apetit!

Morning News 5/27/10

Serious Balls. JMG tells us this morning that Lt. Dan Choi and Captain James Pietrangelo have gone on a hunger strike to demand an immediate end to DADT.

She carries the Sandra Day O'Conner seal of approval. Former justice approves of Elena Kagan.

No, Just No. Israel plans to divert, deport activists who attempt to break three-year Gaza blockade.

Great Parenting Skills You've Got There. Video of a real smoking toddler lit up the internet yesterday. MSNBC quotes the two-year-old's father:
"I'm not worried about his health, he looks healthy," shrugged the boy's father Mohammad Rizal. "He cries and throws tantrums when we don't let him smoke. He's addicted." 
Clap. Clap. Clap.

Whew! I Think. Los Angeles Times reports that initial results in the BP "Top Kill" effort are working.

(Thanks to all my glamorous readers. Consider following The Flaming Chef. It's a low-sodium alternative to reading the damn paper or turning on the idiot box.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crustless Spinach Quiche

I started by blanching two 12oz packages of pre-washed baby spinach, by tossing it into salted, boiling water just to wilt it. Then I poured it all out into a strainer and rinsed it thoroughly with cold water.

I picked the mass up in both hands and squeezed as much moisture out of it as I could.

Then I chopped the spinach:

Then mixed it in a large bowl with a small, chopped yellow onion, 3/4 cup beef stock, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 3 eggs, a generous pinch of salt, fresh cracked pepper and the tiniest pinch of ground nutmeg.

I grated into the mixture about two ounces of Jarlsberg cheese, then I poured the whole thing into a large pie dish.

And grated the rest of the cheese on top.

Then I baked it in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 35 minutes and it came out golden brown. (Next time I'll bake it an extra 10 minutes to make it even crustier.) When the time came I was able to cut and serve it like a pie...

In the meantime I tossed a pint of clean, sliced Crimini mushrooms in a hot pan with another minced onion, diced tomato, half a cup of beef stock, 1/4 cup dry vermouth, 1/4 cup heavy cream, salt, pepper and a generous pinch of thyme.

(Action shot courtesy of Dr. Snickerdoodle.)

I served that on prosciuto-filled perlini pasta.

...with fresh chopped parsley, parmesan cheese and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.

The crustless, spinach quiche is in the back next to a generous slice of buttered ciabatta bread.

The pasta is in the front next to a generous glass of whiskey on the rocks.

Wonderfully delicious and so good for you!

"I Heartily Endorse This Obituary"

Art Linkletter, dead at 97.

(Hat tip to Dr. Snickerdoodle. I took this photo of my 1960 version of "The Game Of Life" designed by Reuben Klamer and owned and distributed by Milton Bradley. The original game of life was designed by Milton Bradley and sold for the first time in 1860.)

True Story: The People You Meet

I grew up in a church, but to me it was just a house.

A house with a two-story vaulted ceiling, gothic arches and an eighteen-foot-tall, stained-glass window; but a house none-the-less.

The man who built it was a lunatic with his own cult which, apparently, didn’t believe in nails or proper carpentry. There were upside-down doors, odd angles everywhere and the whole building was held together by wishful thinking.

The chapel attached to the side of the main building wasn't a chapel to me and my older brother, Duncan. We knew it as the TV room. To us the central step leading up to the stage wasn’t a notch designed to fit a pulpit, it simply offered the comfiest place to curl up when it was time for the Bionic Woman.

It wasn’t just that we lived in a church. It was that we, of all people, lived in a church.

“Aren’t you guys Jews?” my friend Aaron asked one evening, as the setting sun glowed through the stained glass window.

“…and atheists?” he added, gazing up at the glass depiction of a dove in a garden with an olive branch in its beak. The window had some sort of symbolic, God-related meaning that didn’t interest me. But it seemed to mean something to our friends and neighbors.


Morning News 5/26/10

(Achilles and Patroclus: Undermining military readiness, or a couple of bad-ass soldiers?)

Hey Democrats! Don't F This Up. WaPo favors the DADT compromise even though it's not ideal. NYT refers to "unnecessary hand-wringing and delay" over implementation. What the hell is there to "study" people? Should we study whether racial segregation is acceptable policy or not? Give me a minute, I'm "studying" it. I know these things "take time," but there is overwhelming public support to lift the ban and my people are being destroyed by this policy RIGHT NOW - TODAY.


"Young Gun" Loses. Raul Labrador beats Palin-endorsed Vaughn Ward in Idaho GOP upset.

"Thank You, You're All Fired." Rand Paul plans major staff shake-up in wake of his stupid, racist blurtings.

Duh. Study reveals wasting time online playing video games is a waste of time.  I wonder how much time they wasted studying that?

"Well, The Truth Is We're Lying." Huffpo has a nice summary of how the religious right systematically distorts research on LGBTQ's in order to justify their b*llshit.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mother's Little Helper: The Mixed Drink

There's a lot to be said for a simple glass of wine with a crusty piece of buttered bread and a hot, perky bowl of corkscrew pasta with shrimp, tomato and kalamata olives.

But there's another kind of beverage we enjoy at Casa Del Flaming Chef.

The mixed drink.

What could be more elegant than a hand mixed cocktail?

We call this one a "Thing On The Rocks."

I like to start with a full ice shaker and a low ball glass with a few rocks in it.

Take a couple shots of rum and toss them into your shaker. We like Bacardi 151.

(One shot in the low ball glass and the other in the shot glass, just for show. Into the shaker with you both!)

Add four ounces of pineapple juice (1/2 Cup) to the rum in the shaker and shake it around vigorously until your hands are really cold.

Pour over ice and drop in a maraschino cherry for a bit of color.

You can drink it with just about anything, but if you can get your hands on good Mex or Texmex - ooh baby.

This is the kind of beverage that hastens the coming of summer.

Bon apetit!

Morning News 5/25/10

See There, Now Nobody Is Happy. WH mad at BP mad at critics mad at BP mad at WH. Or something like that. ...and still the oil gushes into the gulf.

How Nice. Obama to meet with GOP for lunch today. The Washington Post quotes an Obama aid: "They'll be nice."

It's A Deal... Maybe. Language to hammer out DADT repeal might make it into defense spending bill.

Phew! More than half the People in American today consider me "morally acceptable." Only 42% want to throw me in jail. I wish I had an international coffee to celebrate this moment.

DOMA Challeng In Federal Court Tomorrow. Head over to JMG for coverage.

(Picture of two surprised (Dutch?) women by Stefan Doering)

Monday, May 24, 2010

What is special about the number 8,549,176,320?

The NYT asks and answers this question in a charming obituary for Martin Gardner, who died on the 22nd of this month at age 95.

I enjoyed his puzzles when I was a kid and his Annotated Alice is a lot of fun.

Don't you hate it when you read an obituary for someone when you didn't realize they were still alive?

How embarrassing.

(Photo by Konrad Jacobs, Erlangen)

Morning News 5/24/10

Great. BP top exec "frustrated" by the whole worst-ecological-disaster-in-history thing, as hundreds of miles of coastline, pelicans and oysters (among other things) are devastated. Just great.

"Do People Want Fire That Can Be Fitted Nasally?" Republicans concerned about messaging as midterm cycle approaches.

That's "Mr. Quack" if you don't mind. Dr. who first suggested link between autism and vaccines banned in UK for conducting research "dishonestly and irresponsibly."

How Many S's In Success? Patricia J. Williams over at NPR (and the Nation) discusses the Kagan nomination in a culture where "success itself is masculinized."

I never watched an episode of Lost. Ever.

(Rorschach blot number VIII. Ooh, spooky.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Morning News 5/23/10

Atlantis Undocks From Space Station Ahead Of Wednesday Return To Earth. Final flight for this shuttle.

"If You Mention Extortion Again, I'll Have Your Legs Broken..." Fergie caught in bribe scandal.

Help Wanted. WH finds Director of National Intelligence Post difficult to fill.

"Always Twirling, Twirling Towards Freedom!" Michael Steele not on the same page as Rand Paul.

Ding-Dong, Homos Calling. Equality activists go door to door for marriage.

(Picture of little boy enjoying ice cream. May his appearance on the Flaming Chef hasten to coming of summer weather.)