Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Franks and Beans for Dinner

Franks and beans for dinner. Wanted something that would cook slowly and not take a lot of prep time because I have a garden to admire and some lawn to cut. So I decided on franks and beans. Started off with two nice short/fat slabs of salt pork in a bit of olive oil. Once that was good, tossed in more olive oil with lots of rough cut garlic, and a diced large red onion. Sizzling, I added 16 Ballpark beef franks, cut in half-inch pieces and browned them. Once that was good I diced four nice tomatoes; two from the vine, two Roma, and let them cook a while. Then I added a 32 ounce can of Bush's Original Baked Beans and a 32 ounce can of Texas' own Ranch Style Beans. Then a quart of organic vegetable stock.
Now I'm going out to do what I need in the yard and I've left the pot on at a "2", so it won't burn. When I come back I'll add some good mustard, cracked black pepper, sea salt if it needs it, some Heinz ketchup, Peruvian paprika, and then, when near done, a bunch of fresh cilantro, minced. If I need body I'll borrow half a beer from Devon and add that; if not, I'll just add more stock till it's spicy and rich.
I'll serve it topped with good smoked cheddar cheese over jasmine rice, and serve a side of broccoli and cauliflower florets in minced garlic and a bit of olive oil.
Papaya for dessert.
Nice Noble Vines 337 Cabernet on ice in an old pickle jar to help me get through the heat of the lawn mowing.
I hope you are all eating well tonight. I wish I could serve everyone in the world. Imagine if we had stoves that could feed 7 billion people, the cooks to do the cooking, the food to cook, the plates or leaves to serve it on, and the will to get it done. Wouldn't that be great? Have no one in the world going to be hungry because they had no food, or thirsty because they had no water. Ah, shit. This world sucks, but I got to keep trying to fix it, one post, one meal, one invite at a time. I don't know what else to do.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Shift of Perspective

Lately I've been indulging in self-pity. Pitiful. I'm too fat, my freaking back is locked up tight, I can't breathe well, I have too many stories to write before I leave town for two Jungle Jaunts in Peru. All that jazz. Fortunately, a friend started to straighten me out: he pointed out that with the wine I drink and the number of cigarettes I smoke, it's up to me to change or die.
So I cut back on both and will cut back further when I have the guts. For the back, I've been weeding the garden, painting, mowing lawn daily. Those things, coupled with a chiropractor every couple of weeks have loosened me up considerably. And helped me breathe better because I got to force myself to push that damned lawnmower over 5,000 feet of lawn daily in order to get the acre of grass cut every week.
And then this morning I woke up with lightning in my head. I had promised myself to get one of my stories in by tomorrow afternoon, but I've been slogging. Just no oomph! in the work. But this morning I woke with the idea that I should stop complaining. I got to change the way I'm looking at it: This isn't work. This is a chance, as an investigative reporter, to give voice to those who normally have no voices: In this case a huge population of women in Texas prisons and the treatment (lousy) they receive. What a gift to me to get to do that!
Ah, Gorman, what a self-indulgent old fart you are! Time to take the love, grab the gifts and kick some ass!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Meant well, but going nuts

So I wanted to write a short and sassy piece about the left over food that's sitting on my counter as I prepare tonight's meal. I've got a bit of highly seasoned chopped meat that was used in an open burrito, something I think we used to call Nopalitas--feel free to correct me. That takes a heated tortilla. Put the well seasoned (cumin, garlic, onion, tomato, black beans) meat mix on the large tortilla. Grace with pico de gallo (diced onion, tomato, cilantro in fresh lime juice with a bit of salt and a touch of garlic oil), cover with cheese. Heat. When finished heating, adorn the open tortilla with sliced avocado--room temperature--sour cream, an lettuce or a Spring mix. Eat.
There is also a bowl of shrimp and clam pasta in a garlic clam/shrimp skin reduction. That, with good garlic bread, was fantastic.
Then there is the last piece of the Chicken Cordon Bleu--a half a chicken breast stuffed with good diced ham and swiss, breaded, sauteed, baked, and then covered with a mushroom Marsala sauce (basic white sauce with fresh mushrooms and Marsala wine). I was not happy with the quality of the Marsala wine but now I know better. Too thin, not what I would have used in the New York restaurants I ran. Still, that was a meal to drool over as the cheese oozed out with the ham into the sauce.
Then the barbeque: All that's left are some barbequed veggies: Broccoli, cauliflower, zuccini, yellow squash, corn on the cob, and onions that were par boiled (except for the onions), then soaked in an oil/white vinegar/teriyaki marinade that had lots of onions and garlic and black and red pepper in it. Then barbequed, of course. With the chicken, sausage, and the potato and egg salad (with mayo and a bit of white vinegar to give it a bite), it was a good barbeque.
So I wanted to write about that. But then I'm thinking about the damned Embassy in Jerusalem that Trump insisted on, and which lead to nearly 60 Palestinians being shot like fish in a barrel by the Israeli army--guys using sling shots are NOT a threat to the military, I don't care how scared you are!!!--and another 2400 wounded. And it continues today. Do not believe the lies. These poor Palestinians are being massacred say my friends on the ground over there.
Then we find that Trump decides to ignore the Chinese phone company's violation of the Iran and North Korea sanctions--which automatically disallows them from buying American parts they need--three days after the Chinese government backed a park that will bear the TRUMP name for $1/2 billion dollars, which will be matched with another $500 million from Chinese Banks. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Let's just (fill in the blank) the motherfucker or douse him in hot tar and feather his ass. How the freak am I supposed to write nice stories when so much horror is going on in the world, and so much of it is directly caused by the USA and Don Trump? Ivanka was doing a ribbon cutting ceremony while Palestinians were being slaughtered! Damnit.
I could go on but I'd probably have a heart attack, so I won't. Man, I cannot find anything worthwhile about this president. Everything is for him and his friends. That $20 a paycheck you got from the tax stuff was already eaten up by the highest gas prices in several years. We're at $2.66- to-$2.89 here in Joshua, Texas, generally the cheapest place to buy gas in the USA. When Trump came into office it was $1.89 and I was pissed off about that as it had been around $1.70 for most of the Obama administration and rarely went above $2.00.
Ah, I better stop. Sorry, my blood is just boiling with the greed and distain for life--from immigrants to pot smokers, to Palestinians, to Syrians, to people who need medicaid to pay for their old folks homes, people who need clean water and air, to damned near everybody who ain't fukkin' rich, that this administration shows.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Sapo and food

Someone in a kambo page on FB recently noted that they were going to have their first encounter with frog medicine and they said they'd fasted for 12 hours, but wanted to know what else to do to prepare. I couldn't help be a wise guy and suggest two cups of coffee and an egg sandwich. Well, that threw some people off in a big way because in the Brazilian style of doing the medicine, which is called Kambo there, you normally drink a couple of liters of water after fasting, and then do the medicine with a concentration on vomiting and cleaning out the gut. Well, I had to explain myself, so I made an edit to my initial post suggesting that people look at a new post further down the page. Here is that post:
Explanation of gorman comment above: When I first used sapo and watched the Matses use sapo, it was still an epoch when few Matses had fields to speak of. They were serious hunters, aiming at bringing back about a kilo of meat per person per day. If a man had 4 wives and 20 children, that meant 25 kilos of meat, or about 60 kilos of animals hunted. That was not a monkey or a boar. It was 10 monkeys or two or three boars. Every day. So in my experience, the majority of sapo use occurred when a hunter's aim was a bit off. They would not have been able to explain it scientifically, but what they benefited most from in that regard was the combination of turning on the adrenal cortex and opening the arteries. The first allowed them an extra level of calm when hunting; the second provided more blood to their organs, sharpening their senses, including their eyesight, their sense of smell, their hearing,, all vital tools to hunting. Those elements also allowed them to run faster, longer, without tiring, and to stay out hunting longer without being thirsty or hungry. Vomiting when doing sapo was incidental at best. Yes, there was stomach cramping and a bit of bile might get eliminated, but no one in my experience ever did sapo for the purpose of stomach cleansing. That is apparently different among the Brazilian kambo users, where vomiting seems to be vital to the use of the medicine. So while I am being, or trying to be cute when I say to have "two cups of coffee, maybe an egg sandwich," what I really mean is that it never mattered to the Matses I knew. They simply did sapo when they wanted: Sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes in the middle of a meal, sometimes after a meal. At a session in my home yesterday, one fellow had eaten some fruit, one fellow had had several cups of Yerba mate' and I had had two cups of coffee (half decaf) when we decided to do sapo. We did, no one threw up, all was fantastic cleansing, lots of sweating out toxins through the pores of the skin, and then afterwards we did several shots of nü-nü each to 1) finish up sharpening our eyesight to incredible levels, and 2) to eliminate any residual "drag" from the sapo toxin release. That style is just different from the kambo style with a focus on the gut. So sorry I was a wise guy, I guess I just wanted to draw attention to another way of approaching the medicine. And no, to be honest, I do not recommend a huge meal before sapo. That becomes very painful and is utterly pointless.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Remembering the Kent State Massacre

Unless I have my dates wrong, May 4, 1970 was the day that 4 unarmed college kids were gunned down by the Ohio State Guard at Kent State University for protesting the illegal bombing of Cambodia by the Nixon administration. Kids that were putting flowers in the rifle barrels of the National Guard. The Guard shot a total of 67 rounds, killing four, permanently paralyzing one and injuring, I think, 8 others. It is a day of infamy. A day of horror. Let us never forget or forgive. Let us stay ever vigilant against the powers that be lest they think they are actually the power, not we. Because we are the power that moves this country. WE are it. The corporations, the military, the administration, they are all just working for us at our disposal and whim. We can change them out in a heartbeat. They are our gardeners, nothing more. At Kent State, they thought they were the power and rained down on us. That must never happen again. That means Black Lives Matter, Kids' lives Matter, Your life Matters. Stay strong, stand tall, do not quiver.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Not for the Vegan-Hearted

Not for the Vegan-Hearted
The world is both a beautiful and terrible place. There is so much pain, so much unnecessary suffering, so much intentional infliction of suffering that it is overwhelming. I spend my days mostly doing investigative reporting in the Fort Worth area. That includes looking into private prisons and immigration--both intentional infliction of suffering on populations unable to protect themselves and having few rights by which to protect themselves. I also read about wars that I do not cover, and starvation caused by greed and all sorts of awful things.
By late afternoon I retreat to some red wine and then cooking food. I'm always willing to share the food with whomever shows up and I'm always happy when people show up for it. The wine is another matter: Better to bring your own if you want to have a glass.
The food here is always good, but sometimes there is a string of a few days when it's just mouth-watering. We just finished a couple of weeks of that. When a dozen friends came in from around the country two weeks ago I started with chicken parmesan and a side or two of veggies, after some nice homemade guacamole and good fruit. The next morning was baked eggs replete with lots of veggies and good bread. That evening we had a barbeque of marinated chicken thighs, marinated shrimp, sausage and tons of marinated barbequed veggies, including asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, scallions, yellow squash and zuccini.
For a going away dinner for the crew my friend Mike made a crawfish boil with corn and potatoes, to which Chepa, my wife/ex-wife added a great ceviche and a mountain of yucca..
Next night, with only a few guest left, I made a baked bean dinner: garlic, onions, diced tomatoes, nicely seasoned; then some fat back bacon, then the really good beef franks cut into 1/2 inch slices. When all was sauteed to the right color, a couple of cans of good beans went in, to which was added mustard, some ketchup, cilantro. A lot of cheating in that recipe but it's the best darned franks and beans I know of, for real. Top it with a bit of cheddar when serving and you're in pig heaven.
Somewhere along the line I made an Uncle Clem's chicken--diced, sauteed chicken breast over a big bed of steamed broccoli florets, covered in a rich sauce then topped with mozzarella cheese and baked till the cheese is brown. Served over Jasmine rice.
We also snuck in lime chicken one night (chicken breaded with good crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese, sauteed, then baked with lots of fresh lime juice so that when you eat it your mouth squeals with delight), with spaghetti squash and sauteed spinach in garlic. Then we went light with hot roast beef sandwiches: fresh rosemary sourdough bread with a bit of mayonnaise popped into the oven till warm, then topped with rare roast beef, homemade coleslaw and swiss cheese. I think we served a side of a melange of broccoli, cauliflower, zuccini, tomatoes, and onions, all cooked in a bit of olive oil and lots of garlic.
Couple of days ago I was in the mood for lamb, so I made a variation on the Greek dish, pastitsio. Instead of using pasta, I covered the base of the baking dish with mashed new potatoes, topped that with lamb sauteed with onions, garlic and scallions and tomatoes, to which was added smoked paprika, cumin, a bit of curry, allspice, and a bit of this and that, which was topped with more mashed potatoes and then covered in a bechamel--a white sauce with parmesan cheese and nutmeg. The whole thing baked for about 30 minutes at 325, till the sauce was lightly browned. Man, that was good.
Last night was an old fashioned mac and cheese. I cooked fusilli cause I like the way the sauce sticks to the screw shaped rings of that pasta. For the cheese I used cheddar, swiss, some mozzarella I had laying around, some colby jack, parmesan. To that the yolks of three organic eggs was added to help keep it light. Also, to the cheese was added smoked diced ham sauteed in garlic and onions and tomatoes (I use that combo a LOT). It was topped with breadcrumbs and parmesan, then baked till brown.
I am sure I'm forgetting the roast pork dinner baked with potatoes and carroes on a bed of celery, onions, apples, and pears; the sauce espagnole I made over the course of two days (with no flour) that I added to several of the dishes; and plain old chicken wings.
I think there is plenty of good stuff left in the fridge, so don't hesitate. When you get here I'll be working on a new story that's due in two days. At least till late this afternoon, when it will be time to cut the grass, open a bottle of wine, and think about what I should make for dinner.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sapo Note on Vaso Dilation

Someone was talking on a forum about the need to physically purge when doing sapo/kambo to get the desired effect of a good stomach and liver bile cleansing. To encourage that, a lot of practitioners have their clients drink a couple of liters of water half an hour before a sapo/kambo session. I disagreed. I said that among the indigenous Matses very few people purged and that in my experience forcing the medicine to work on one specific area might be to the detriment of it working on other areas. The example I gave was the clearing of plaque from arteries that would then allow more  oxygen to get to your vital organs, a very beneficial side of the sapo/kambo medicine.
    Someone liked that and asked which peptide in sapo specifically eliminated plaque. This was my response:
George: I'll have to refer to Vittorio Ersparmer's (late, great pharmacologist who worked with the Phyllomedusa bicolor frog that produces sapo/kambo) work to tell you which of the peptides acts as vasodilator. The example I use, and I hope it is a good one, is this: Let's say you are blowing up balloons for your kids and nieces and nephews and letting them fly around the room. Sooner or later one or two will drop behind the couch or what have you and no one retrieves it. A couple of months later someone cleans behind the couch and finds it and your kid asks you to blow it up for him/her again. Only problem is that the balloon is now all scrunched up and non-stretchy because the sugars and proteins in your breath when you were blowing it up previously have all dried and made that balloon no longer stretchable. So you stretch it by hand and those sugars slowly drop off--simply from the act of stretching--into the belly of the balloon and in a few minutes you've got a stretchy balloon again that you can blow up. The plaque in your arteries, or the feathering around your heart valves that can result in an irregular heart beat is a build up of things that eliminate the stretchyness of those arteries, or the smooth opening and closing of those heart valves. Introduce a high powered vaso dilator that blows those arteries open a bit and that plaque will simply fall off into the blood stream and later get eliminated. Same with the feathering of goop that can build up around heart valves. So while Ersparmer did not talk about a peptide that officially eliminated plaque he did talk about the burst of vaso dilation (leading to a temporary drop in blood pressure) that I think would be the equivalent of you stretching out that dried up balloon and causing the sugars to drop off the inside of the elastic skin. Make sense?