Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Cinnamon Bear!

Here's a link to last year's post - a little late! I don't think I could improve upon it, so I won't try...Remember, the series is designed to start the day after Thanksgiving so you may be behind the 8 ball!
Here's to another season of The Crazy Quilt Dragon, the Inkaboo's, and Queen Melissa!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The 2005 Blazer Dispersal Draft

Portland is now into year two of their third and latest epoch in Trailblazer history. The first epoch, The Witty Epoch, included Blazer history from expansion team through championship team on up until the day Bob Whitsitt was hired. Thus began the Whitsitt era which began with the slow dissolution of the "awesome core" of Drexler, Porter, Duckworth, Williams, Kersey, Adelman, and Schonely on through the Isiah "I like dice" Rider and several other players that generally found ways to alert the police to their presence.

The third and current era of the Blazers is known as the Witless epoch. This era, captained by John Nash and Steve Patterson, is tasked with the final destruction of the Portland Trailblazers and its rapid descent into an expansion team. Their means of doing this is to alienate and eliminate the main core of Blazer talent and replace them with people who've never attended college. Let's take a look at what was given up in the last 12 months...

Derek Anderson, Houston, 11.3 pts per game (PPG)

Richie Frahm, Minnesota, 5.3 ppg (in 12 minutes!)

Nick Van Exel, San Antonio, 7.0 ppg

Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Sacramento, 15.4 ppg, 7.5 reb, 3.8 assists

Damon Stoudamire, Memphis, 10.1 ppg, 4.8 assists

Those are some darn fine players there. There was a moment in time, when the Blazers got rid of Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells and received Abdur Rahim and Theo Ratliff when I was excited for them and looked forward to great things. Then came the 2005 dispersal draft when the Blazers jettisoned the people above as well as Coach Maurice Cheeks (whose 76ers now lead their division by the way), decided to let a front office person coach their team and decided to play only the youngest and most inexperienced players at all times.

When the current season rolled around, Ruben Patterson decided it might be fun to play to win and got verbal about it. In the tradition of going nuclear with the slightest provocation, the Blazers decided to sideline Patterson (as if a momentary outburst were the equivalent to seasons of public whining [Terrell Owens] or beating on a random fan [Ron Artest]). I'm sure it made Nash et.al. feel righteous and tough though, as if the entire Blazer fan base were as gullible as 700 Club viewers. If the Blazers lose Ruben Patterson, the bell curve from 1970 to 2006 will be complete with the parts of Geoff Petrie and Sidney Wicks played by Darius Miles and Zach Randolph and the part of LaRue Martin played by Sergei Monia. Luckily, we have the high part of the bell curve where we can remember Bill Walton and Clyde Drexler.

Looking at the post-Blazer careers of Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, perhaps Portlanders were pointing their fingers in the wrong direction. Both are prospering with other teams and not having the same problems as they did here...coincidence? I think not.

For those who might want a taste of the pre-Witless epoch of Blazer history, I suggest paying more attention to the Sacramento Kings. With Geoff Petrie in the front office and Rick Adelman as coach along with Bonzi Wells and Shareef Abdur-Raheem, there is a lot to like here. There is a statue of the Virgin Mary weeping blood at the Vietnamese Catholics Martyrs Church in Sacramento. Sometimes I think she is crying for the Blazers.

How About Another Snabulus Caption Contest?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Here's wishing you all a safe, warm, and palatable Thanksgiving! (No turkey and mashed potatoes for me over here in the Land of the Rising Sun, so here's a picture we can share and pretend. Some of those bird bits look a bit carbonized, though...)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Cause to Celebrate...from Oregon State!!!!!!

Although I do admit they say it's probably not that big a deal.

Apparently dark beers, stouts, porters, and ales may actually be beneficial to your health. They apparently have substantial amounts of flavonids, anti-oxidants that neutralize cell-damaging "free radical" oxygen molecules in your blood.

Any beverage that makes use of hops contains flavonids, but darker, thicker brews are much more richly blessed (in more ways than one).

Despite the potential benefits, however, OSU doesn't recommend suddenly increasing your craft ale intake. You're only liable to end up with a beer gut for your trouble.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Reversing a Destructive Trend

The link to this article posted on Fark said very cynically: "Remember the fuss 20 years ago about how acid rain was going to destroy our forests and lakes and basically end civilization as we know it? Well, it didn't"

The article itself is far less obnoxious.

Some of the most sensitive lakes and streams in Britain, which were ravaged by acid rain, are now showing positive signs of recovery. Levels of acidity in the water have halved, and wildlife is starting to make a healthy comeback. All this is clearly thanks to an 84% decline in emissions of sulphur dioxide and a 37% decline in nitrous oxide since the 1970s.

Coal miners weren't too happy about Britain's switch to natural gas power from coal, but Mother Gaia is apparently showing her gratitude in no uncertain terms. If nothing else, we know our one and only planet will recover from abuse if we let it.

And our government still tries to deny acid rain even exists...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

West African Peanut Stew - NOT VEGETARIAN!



There were no good pictures of the stew (almost all vegetarian versions with no rice), so instead I've posted a pic of a Malian lady in traditional native dress (another one of my hobbies). The title bar link goes to some interesting info on this country.

This is a great family meal, I got it out of some cookbook that a relative who shall remain nameless (!) gave me. This was the only good recipe in that whole dang book, so I copied this one recipe out and Goodwill got another book to sell...


West African Chicken & Ground nut Stew

2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbl veg oil
1 med onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 28oz can tomatoes, undrained (pureed if whole)
1 15.5oz can great northern beans undrained
1 11 oz can corn DRAINED
1 potato, peeled & chopped
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tbl tomato paste
1 ts salt
1 ts chili powder
1/2 ts ginger
1/2 ts cayenne pepper
Hot Rice

In 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook chicken in oil until no longer pink, stirring frequently. add onion and garlic, cook & Stir 3-4 min or until onion is tender. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. bring to a boil. reduce heat to med-low ; cover & cook for 30 min or until potato is tender (may add tomato stuff last, as tomato products prevent the potatoes from cooking completely) serve over hot rice.

Notes:
Chicken - of course, boneless breasts or thighs are easier to use, but more expensive
Potatoes-add more if you want to stretch the meal
Peanut Butter-I love peanut butter, so I've always doubled or tripled the recipe amount
Ginger-it's weird, but don't leave it out, I made it once from memory & forgot it - it definitely adds something!
Garlic-you can buy pre-minced garlic for faster prep and less mess
Hot Spices-adjust the chili powder & cayenne pepper to your or your family's taste

Friday, November 11, 2005

The New Home of the Teletubbies

I was posting a comment when I saw this in my word verification:



I think it accurately describes most of what I see in the glowing box in the living room.

Armistice Day

I thought I would repost last year's entry by our resident jarhead Infogeek:



Today we take the time remember the end of World War One, which symbolically ended on the 11th hour of the 11 day of the 11th month in 1918. We don't call today Armistice Day in the US anymore, we call it Veterans Day. If you are in Canada, Western Europe, Australia or New Zealand, you probably call today Remembrance Day. In fact, we don’t just remember the people who served during World War One anymore, we hopefully remember all the people who served in all the wars, fought all over the world.

Most people do this by wearing a Poppy on the 11th of November. If you are unaware of this tradition, please follow the link for a far better explanation than I could ever produce. Significance of the Poppy .

I think if we can honor the wish of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, and ‘never break faith with those who have died’, we would not only honor the dead, but the living as well. We shall always have wars, but if we make every effort to remember those who have died in past struggles, maybe, just maybe it might help us to work toward reducing the number of wars we fight in the future. I can only hope so.

May we never break faith…

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Verboort!


Hello Everyone! Another year of Verboortian goodness has come and almost gone...
Title Bar link goes to an article KATU did a little while ago.

I didn't plan it, but my arrival at approximately 3:30 am got me the first slot in line this year, along w/$25.00 in FREE sausage! They don't normal give out any for any reason, and other years people have come at midnight, or 1:00 am, (I thought for sure the guys in the RV would have reserved their normal 1st place w/chairs, but no...). It didn't rain until about 7 am, and it' wasn't as cold either. "It's downright balmy!" said one of the early birds who's been there in years past like me.

I spent the wee hours w/Becky, who's husband is up in Vancouver B.C. painting the Lion's Gate Bridge. He's been there since May, and is planning on coming home around Thanksgiving or Christmas - the communte, long separation and high cost of Canadian life, plus the growingly nasty weather are all part the decision to leave the job early. They are just like Snabby & me, like to spend 24/7/365 together! (Their first phone bill after he took the job she admitted was $1,000!)

He's not missed one Verboort Sausage Festival since they've been together, so she was grabbing kraut & sausage and heading up to B.C. for a 3 day weekend!

The next group of people were old timer's from Tigard. They have lots of family/friend parties like we do, and over discussions of how to make your own kraut and camping advice, they spoke about a "Salsa Garden Party". Basically you grow tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro and when it's all about ready, (they often go to a local farm to supplement supplies), have a Mexican-themed party w/Margaritas and everyone can make their own salsa!

I think it's a great idea and I'm going to try it this year, as last year we didn't have a garden. Yay!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Butternut Squash Bisque


Here's the recipe for the soup everyone raves about. It's from the Tomato restaurant in Vancouver, B.C.

Head Cheff David Alsop's Recipe

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Butternut Squash (about 2 1/4 lbs.)
-peeled, seeded & diced into 1" cubes
2 large cooking onions (4 0z each)
-halved and cut into squares
1 TBL tomato paste
1 tsp each salt & pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups water
1 cup whipping cream

Heat oil on med heat in a large heavy bottomed pot. When oil starts to ripple add cubed squash. Spread out in pot & stir to brown squash evenly. Toss and stir squash for about 10 minutes. Add diced onion and stir into squash and satue until onion is tender-5 minutes, then add tomato paste; stir to coat onion and squash. Brown together for 3 minutes. Add water. Stir well to deglaze pan. Bring to simmer and cook until squash is soft and begins to fall apart. Remove pot from heat and strain out solids w/a sieve. Puree solids in a blender ro kitchen aid until it is a smooth paste. Add some of the liquid stock to make smooth. Return puree to the rest of the stock on the pot. Return pot to medium heat burner. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and rosemary. Add cream and stir well. reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir frequently. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

My Notes:
Butternut Squash-firmer and harder to peel (I just use a strong vegetable peeler). I usually get the biggest one I can find, just so it makes more soup. It's much easier to get the seeds out though.
Onions-I usually dice the onions quite finely (see my other note below). I sometimes don't use a full two onion's worth .
Rosemary-I usually use dried, but only about 1/2 (or so) what the recipe calls for. I crush the dried rosemary in a plastic bap with an spoon, empty glass or whatever. Then I don't have to waste a whole lot of fresh rosemary, or remember to buy it.
Whipping Cream-sometimes I just use milk, depends on how thick I want it to be.
Sieving/Blending Solids/Pureeing-I don't bother with all that, I take my trusty stick blender and stick it the pot (another reason to more finely chop the onions) and puree the whole thing together. If it's too thick I add more water, and stir to bring up any large onion or piece of squash.
Final notes-This is often best made a day ahead, as it let's the flavors blend. Make sure to properly and promptly refrigerate any leftovers!