I have everything to make mulligatawny soup but I forgot to pick up chicken thighs and the only ones I have are on two whole frozen chickens so that is out of the question. Do you think I could substitute shrimp instead? I have a bag of frozen shrimp I picked up a couple months ago on sale and forgot about in the freezer. What are your throughts?
NY-14 Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a virtual townhall on Friday and had this to day about President Biden and the administration: [USA Today]
“One thing that I will say is that I do think that the Biden administration and President Biden have exceeded expectations that progressives had,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a virtual town hall. “I’ll be frank, I think a lot of us expected a lot more conservative administration.”
Ocasio-Cortez, a vocal member of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, also said Biden’s willingness to collaborate with more progressive members “really impressed” her, and despite areas of disagreements, the administration’s conduct has been “not just in good faith but active incorporation of progressive legislation,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
“Biden announced that he plans to cut emissions by half by 2030,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that two years ago it was almost unthinkable to think that Joe Biden would be making an announcement like that.”
During the campaign, Biden set a goal of zero emissions by 2050, so the half by 2030 target isn’t an “unthinkable” acceleration of the stated timetable, IMO. But it’s true the needle has moved on party consensus for seriously addressing climate change. Good!
In personal news, I got stung by something on Friday. I think it was a horsefly; one was allegedly seen leaving the scene of the crime. Had a nasty reaction to it, as I often do when bitten by venomous insects or arachnids. I probably should not live in a swamp, but here I am.
Yesterday, I did a shopping run and then loafed around, keeping the affected arm elevated and taking Benadryl to address the symptoms. I watched two bad movies on Netflix: “Stowaway” and “Crimson Peak.” Neither is recommended. “Stowaway” in particular was a pity because the actors are really good and deserved better material.
Recommended viewing on YouTube for those who enjoy cooking shows: “Buon-A-Petitti,” which features an Italian grandma living in New Jersey who cooks traditional Italian meals for her apparently very large family. Also, “Pasta Grannies,” which is a series about grandmas (and a few grandpas) making pasta from scratch and a variety of sauces, mostly in Italy.
I find these shows comforting in a similar way that the Great British Bake-Off episodes are comforting, or at least were in the old days before Mel, Sue and Mary Berry decamped, then Sandi left, and then they brought in the weird, awkward, vaguely creepy guy.
It’s a rainy morning in Camp Swampy. I’m making a blueberry pie since blueberries are in season and I picked up a vast quantity of them yesterday at a produce market. I’ll update the post with a photo of the pie when it comes out of the oven.
I believe this will be my first blueberry pie. I’ve made blueberry cobbler many times but never a pie, at least not that I recall, and wouldn’t that be something a person would remember? The mister does most of the baking around here.
Anyhoo, the recipe I’m using advises bakers to let the pie cool for a full three hours before slicing to give it time to firm up. We’ll see how that goes. How’s your Sunday going?
This is a NO-Knead recipe. Simple and quick.
I used this recipe for the bread: English Muffin Toasting Bread _ King Arthur Baking
And it was so simple and darn near perfect. If you’re looking for a yeast bread that’s foolproof, this is it. No kneading, just mix up, add to a loaf pan and let rise. Bake, cool and eat!
Even better toasted with a good cup of coffee. This one will be made again. And probably often.
This year’s edition:
I dropped it off yesterday for my mother-in-law, who is now fully vaccinated but still being careful about gatherings because she’s a kind person who is not an idiot. She’s having Easter dinner with other fully vaccinated friends in her quarantine pod.
When I stopped by, we talked about how this is our second pandemic Easter. Last year, I wore gloves to pick up the sanitized cooler that contained her butter lamb, and I left it and a Cloroxed package of paper towels at the end of her driveway. We waved and shouted “love you!” from a distance before I drove away.
Yesterday, we had an outdoor conversation, and MIL expressed hope that next Easter, we can have the family all together again. I hope so too. But I think my husband will be nostalgic for pandemic-related restrictions on socializing and get-togethers for the rest of his life. He dreads big holidays.
Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!
PS: If you’re wondering what a butter lamb is, there’s an explanation (and tutorial) here.
Since I bought this wok and have been cooking delicious spicy dishes and curries and all sorts of wonderful stuff, I have lost my taste for other foods. I had a nice steak last night with smashed potatoes and broccoli and beets and goat cheese and when I finished all I could think was “BORING.”
I mean why eat that when you can have spicy shrimp with vegetables or thai chicken and cabbage noodles or all that good stuff that is healthier?
Passover 2021 has arrived. I can tell by the festive masks!
— Hannah Simpson חנה הייה-לב סימפסון (@hannsimp) April 8, 2020
(This is Ms. Hannah Simpson*. The Instagram with her original and initial post of the image is at this link.)
For those of you who celebrate Passover, as well as for those that don’t, like a lot of Jewish holidays it can be boiled down to: “(Insert name of oppressive ruler or nation here) tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!”
The longer version can more accurately be distilled down to two key parts. The first is that the ancient Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptians when a new dynasty came to power, eventually rose up, and, through a successful slave revolt that featured a lot of the hallmarks of what we today think of as irregular and asymmetric warfare, gained their freedom. The second is that the reality, that our religious forebears were enslaved simply for being who they were – a distinct community – has a relevance for all Jews in every generation in terms of both understanding the world and relating to it. While the Passover ritual, the Seder (Hebrew for order), focuses around why this night – the first night of Passover in Israel and the first two nights everywhere else – is different from all other nights, the lesson is that, in truth, this night isn’t all that special. That some three thousand years or so ago, depending on which dating schema one subscribes too, our forebears were enslaved. That we, their spiritual successors should consider ourselves to be in their place; hence the constant use of “we” throughout the Seder. And, as a result, we need to understand that the world of 2021 isn’t all that different from the Egypt that enslaved the ancient Hebrews as there are far too many who are still enslaved discriminated against, and/or subjugated for simply being a distinct community.
The lesson here is one of empathy leading to action. It is recognizing that the inequalities and inequities that our fellow Americans, regardless of faith or ethnicity or race experience, and that non-Americans face every day is exactly the same as what our forebears experienced in Egypt. The ongoing attempts by those who lost the Great Rebellion, now doing business as the Civil War, on the battlefield to win the post war peace by consolidating minoritarian, white Supremacist rule through reimposing and reinforcing the Jim Crow system first created in the 1870s to keep Black Americans functionally enslaved in a legally permissible manner given that slavery was and still is technically illegal and unconstitutional is one example.
The abuse of those non-Americans fleeing tyranny, oppression, and political, criminal, and/or domestic violence to reach the US is another. As was the case with the Hebrews led by Moses into the desert, no one grabs whatever they can carry, takes their children, and flees from danger through danger for shits and giggles. They do it because they have no choice. Because staying put is not a viable option. And, in the case of those fleeing to the United States, because they know if they can make it to the end of their journey, they’ll eventually reach the border and, if they’re seeking asylum, a US government facility flying the American flag. They know that if they can make it to the end of their journey, if they can survive fleeing from danger through danger, they’ll eventually see the American flag, like a pillar of smoke by day or a pillar of fire by night, and they’ll know that they’ve reached safety. Because they believe to the point of knowing that where that flag flies, there is hope and safety and the chance for something better. A modern promised land even if those of us living in it all too often take it for granted and we fail to live up to the ideals that inspire non-Americans to risk everything to join us here.
The intolerance, discrimination, and abuse of LGBTQ Americans, especially the recent shift of focus to discriminating and abusing Americans who are trans, is a third example. Since the political and judicial battle regarding gay marriage has been lost, the same bigots, or simply political and religious hucksters seeking to enrich and empower themselves through the use of a wedge issue, have decided that transgender Americans make a useful target. Exact same type of bigotry with brand new packaging and marketing to continue a grift that puts people lives at risk.
Passover teaches us, in the words of Faulkner, that the past isn’t dead; in fact it really isn’t past. But where Faulkner’s turn of phrase was meant to illuminate the benighted nature of the south that was the Confederacy, for Passover it has, or it should have, a different meaning. Specifically, that because our forebears were slaves then, which has to be understood as we were slaves then, that we cannot forget what it means to not be free, to fight for one’s freedom, and to make sure that we continue to help others do so until everyone is free.
And now, if you’ll indulge me, I will put on the emergency tiara, the new grill gloves (rated to 1,427F!), and the frilly apron so I can regale you with the culinary part of Passover 2021.
I just got a new 22 inch Weber Master-Touch Kettle Grill. And I inaugurated it this afternoon by doing an indirect heat roasted boneless leg of lamb and roasted root vegetable medley of multi-color fingerling potatoes and carrots for my Mom and myself for a small, COVID-19 safe Passover meal. I did the reverse sear method. So I brought the lamb up to an internal temperature of 125, removed it from the indirect heat side of the kettle, wrapped it in silver foil, and let it rest for half an hour while my oven warmed up to 500F. Then I reverse seared it for 15 minutes until it was nice and crackling crisp on the outside, removed it, and sliced it. I had the indirect heat side of the grill at a consistent 278 to 283 degrees and the direct heat side around 375 or so. It took around 2 and a 1/2 hours from lighting the charcoal chimney to doing a 20 minute burn off to prepare the grill, to actually roasting the lamb and the vegetables, to resting the lamb, to reverse searing it, to slicing and serving it.
Here’s a picture of when I opened the kettle to put the potatoes and carrots on:
And here’s the finished product ready for serving:
It came out perfect. You could really taste the difference between doing it over coals versus in the oven. I’m sure I’ll be doing steak or chicken on it over the next couple of days, but the next big project for the kettle grill will be to do a hybrid brisket sometime in the next couple of weeks. Basically, this’ll be for my mom who doesn’t really like smoked foods other than pastrami and lox. So while I’ll set the kettle up for an indirect heat as if I was smoking something, the snake method of setting up the coals, I’m not going to add any wood chunks for smoking, just the all natural chunk wood charcoal. And I’m going to prep the brisket like I would for in the oven: trim the hard fat that won’t render, then apply kosher salt and black pepper in a dry brine/rub for 12 to 24 hours prior to cooking to form a pelicule. Then a light wet rub of mustard with a little tomato paste or ketchup and bed it down in a roasting pan on thinly sliced onions with more on top just before roasting time. This will go on the grill and I’ll use the indirect heat to do it low and slow. So not a Texas style smoked brisket, but sort of a hybrid of how I’d do it in the oven with doing it over hot coals. I’ll do a post to let everyone know how it turns out.
PS: Last night when I removed the lamb from the shrink-wrap so I could dry brine it, I managed to splash lamb’s blood all over my face and head. So I’m pretty hopeful that the Angel of Death will definitely be passing over tonight.
* Update 11:30 PM 4 APR 2021: Ms. Simpson reached out and contacted me, via the comments, which, of course got caught in the SPAM filter for a week and would’ve gone completely unnoticed if WaterGirl hadn’t been in there trying to recover a regular commenter’s comment that had been eaten out of there. She wanted to let me know that she was both the creator and the model for the image in the original post and, of course, to be properly acknowledged as such. I’ve updated this post with her tweet of the image and a link to the original image she posted at her Instagram and done a new post giving her explicit credit and apologizing for not attributing the original pic because I had no idea who it was.
Report from @lreiley that should shut down, "Oh, no, there is no systemic racism." From the new Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack: “We saw 99 percent of the money going to White farmers and 1 percent going to socially disadvantaged black farmers." https://t.co/Bv2ysMKYSb
— Michelle Singletary (@SingletaryM) March 25, 2021
Elections have long-overdue consequences, sometimes, and this snippet of the American Rescue Act is a good start. Tom Vilsack, like his new boss, seems to have learned from his previous mistakes:
… In an interview with The Washington Post, Vilsack for the first time noted the extent to which the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated existing disparities across the American economy.
The distribution of coronavirus relief increased those gaps, he said.
Of those who identified their race or ethnicity, Black farmers received only $20.8 million of nearly $26 billion in two rounds of payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program announced by the Trump administration last April, he said.
“We saw 99 percent of the money going to White farmers and 1 percent going to socially disadvantaged farmers and if you break that down to how much went to Black farmers, it’s 0.1 percent,” he said. “Look at it another way: The top 10 percent of farmers in the country received 60 percent of the value of the covid payments. And the bottom 10 percent received 0.26 percent.”
Of the 3.4 million farmers in the United States today, only 45,000 — 1.3 percent — are Black, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s down from 1 million a century ago, because of widespread land loss.
Vilsack said the Biden administration would be focused on closing those inequalities. The USDA will battle three systemic problems concurrently, he said: a broken farm system, food insecurity and a health-care crisis…
After months of national debate about systemic racism and reparations for slavery and segregation, Vilsack says he will make rooting out racism at the agency, and in agriculture, a priority. The American Rescue Plan will pay $5 billion to farmers of color, who have lost 90 percent of their land over the past century because of systemic discrimination and a cycle of debt…
Of course, one reason for Sec. Vilsack’s interview is that the Disloyal Opposition has already been busy trying to gin up resentment: