My friend Irving and I were talking about the job market for young people and how there appear to be so many positions available as we enter the leading edge of Boom, Bust, & Echo. Irving’s comment was: “Sure there are jobs but they don’t need to work, they have PhD’s”. “PhD’s?” I asked, puzzled by his response. “Sure…Papa has Dough!”.
Here’s the natural progression of higher education:
First comes B.S.
Then, More of Same (M.S.)
Finally, Piled Higher and Deeper (P.H.D.)
An oldie but goodie, just in case you haven’t heard it before. Right up there with the type of car I’ve promised my kids: BMW (Bus, Metro, Walking). Words to live by.
Yesterday I made Stewed Rabbit Chassuer (Hunter Style) in the slow cooker. The slow-cooker or “Crockpot” is a wonderful invention; just throw in all the ingredients (no searing, etc., required), turn it on and leave it alone all day. The end result is meat that falls off the bone and sauce that’s thick and tasty from all the vegetables that have slowly dissolved in it. I can only guess that the nutritional value is probably higher too since it never boils and there’s no steam escaping with the nutrients attached. And the pot itself is pretty cheap to buy, about 20-30 bucks.
Lately I’ve been using a secret ingredient in my cooking (that won’t be secret anymore after this!): Maple Syrup. Yup, maple syrup! In small quantities (a couple of tablespoons) it’s almost imperceptible from the sweetness perspective, but it nicely balances out any acidic sauce such as tomato. Of course, people have used sugar to do the same thing for centuries, but the maple syrup, IMHO, is just a little bit better. Try it. I use the darker and cheaper variety of Quebec maple syrup, but of course, any type will do so long as its real.
- One large onion sliced into very thin rounds or semi-rounds;
- One large rabbit cut into eight pieces;
- Four large carrots and four large celery stalks, coarsely cut into large pieces;
- One liter tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes, fresh, diluted paste, etc. will all do);
- One cup white wine;
- Two tablespoons maple syrup;
- Vegetable broth to cover (I use Pacific brand organic vegetable broth). Water will also do;
- Spices: I like smoky paprika, bay leaves, ground chipotle peppers, salt, and black pepper. Some liquid smoke is also nice.
Throw everything in the slow-cooker, turn it on, and leave it alone. Don’t stir too often, especially towards the end as the meat will separate from the bone and look a mess. Drain the liquid into a saucepan and boil down until reduced by about half. Return to slow-cooker. Put on low and keep warm until ready to serve. Goes great with homemade fresh polenta (I use the 3-minute variety), or German egg noodles. Or just plain crusty French/Italian/Greek bread.
Polenta, for those unfamiliar with it, is just cornmeal grits. A very versatile food, it can be served fresh and soft like mashed potatoes, or put into a bowl or other form and allowed to cool and stiffen in the fridge. Then it can be sliced and brushed with olive oil and grilled on the BBQ or pan-fried. A terrific alternative to potatoes, rice, or pasta.
The “Speed Kills” mantra has been driven into our collective consciousness for at least a generation if not longer. Yet, road designers and car builders continue to create infrastructure and vehicles that enable us to go ever faster, while police and their radar traps tell us to slow down…a frustrating speedus interruptus designed to create easy cash for government coffers under the disguise of road safety. But lets face it, its a lot easier to sit by the side of the road with a radar gun catching people going over the speed limit than it is dealing with the real problem…driver and vehicle impairment. See, if speed really does kill, everyone in Germany should be dead by now! But they’re not, and in fact Germany has one of the lowest accident and death rates from car accidents in the world, despite very generous highway speed limits (40% fewer deaths per km driven than the USA).
What speed really does is that it acts as a catalyst. If you are impaired (not just by alcohol, BTW) and get into trouble, it will magnify the effect. If you would have hit the tree at 30 mph, you would have survived, but at 60 mph you’re most likely gonna die (and the poor slobs around you!). But it would have been far better not to hit the tree in the first place!!
When we speak of impaired driving we typically think alcohol and illicit drugs. But there are many types of impairment, divided into two general categories:
- Talking on a cellphone while driving;
- Emotional turmoil due to immediate life events (wife announces she’s leaving you, boss fires you, etc.). I’ll never forget the well-dressed man in the luxury car stopped behind me at a red light…he was flinging his arms in the air and banging his head on the steering wheel – who knows what news he had just received?;
- Alcohol and illegal drugs (may also qualify as Chronic, see below);
- Low driving skill level due to poor training (many people still don’t go to driver’s ed for their training but learn from old Uncle Joe or some other relative). This is a biggie. Most people may know “how” to drive but many don’t know the “why” of driving, i.e. the underlying logic of the various rules.
- Physical disability due to age or medical condition (one of my friends has only one eye and it is full of cataracts, yet still has a license and drives!;
- Poorly maintained vehicles;
- Machismo, testosterone, and stupidity that results in reckless and aggressive driving. How many times have you said to yourself “where are the cops when you need them?” Well, where are they? Stopped by the roadside with a radar gun, that’s where!;
- Prescription medications;
- Chronic alcohol and illegal drug use.
I could go on, but I’ll let you think up a few on your own. The point is: Focusing on speed without dealing with the underlying impairments is like trying to solve the suicide problem by lining the sidewalks with mattresses so the people who jump off buildings will have a softer landing! But governments are addicted to the money that comes from controlling speed because its EASY! Tougher licensing requirements on the other hand would prevent people from buying cars (Heaven forbid we should slow down the economy) or worse…place a burden on the crappy public transit system that needs billions of dollars to become truly “public”, i.e. readily accessible when people really need it.
It was back to the E. J. Loxley razor today with a fresh Swedish Gillette blade. This after two weeks on the GEM G-Bar and a series of straight-razor close shaves. But the face was starting to take a beating from too much closenes and it was time for a return to a kinder, gentler time (or razor, as it were). The Loxley/Gillette combo performed magnificently paired as it was to a l’Occitane CADE soap and cream superlather, worked up with the Plisson E.W. Badger brush. The “gloss” pass was with the CADE shaving oil, and the final result a solid 9.8 shave, finished off with the alum block (no sign of irritation) and CADE After Shave Balm, plus a splash of l’Occitane cologne. Mmmmmm!
Let’s face it, I get to shave with some pretty great stuff. The danger is: Its pretty easy to comfortably settle in with some wonderful combination that works really, really, well…and never touch anything different again; after all, when you’re getting consistent 9.8-9.9 shaves, why bother switching? So, every once in a while, its important to shake oneself out of pleasant complacency and “get out there” once again trying old and new product combinations and techniques. Starting tomorrow, I’m shelving the absolutely glorious GEM G-Bar and the Gold Dachs soap, and moving on. Let’s see what the future holds.
When I was 10 years-old or so, the sight of parsley or any other green herb embedded in my food brought on waves of nausea. Later, on the rare occasions when I saw adults eating lobster it all seemed rather grotesque and certainly inconceivable that I should taste such a nasty looking thing. When my son was eight or so, for about a year, he would only eat his pasta plain….I mean with nothing on it whatsoever; no sauce, no cheese, no oil, no butter, no salt. Most parents knows that taste evolves in childhood and there is little point in forcing the issue, other than making sure that a large variety of good foods is readily available and that junk is kept out of the house.
But does taste evolve in adulthood too? I’ve read a number of food writers over the year who’ve emphasized that eating really great food consistently, changes your taste and that you begin to find almost all commercially prepared foods unpleasant. Its been a few years that my wife and I have been gradually moving to a primarily home-cooked, organic, and high-quality ingredient diet. A few days ago I was at our large Loblaws megamarket and bought their heavily advertised “Naturally Smoked” sausages and specially designed “Hot-dog First” and “Hamburger-First” flatbread buns. The first few bites tasted O.K., but by the end of the first sausage and bun combination there was an unpleasant taste in my mouth; the sausages were way too salty and synthetic tasting, and the buns pasty and gritty. Now, I used to love this kind of stuff, and I found it strange that I could react so unpleasantly to things that I used to eat with great gusto. And I’ve found this increasingly true for just about anything prepared and packaged that I buy, even if it says “all natural” or comes from a health-food store. Packaged products just taste nasty for some reason…all of a sudden. So maybe there’s something to the idea that you can retrain your palate to distinguish good quality “real” food from the commercial junk…..either that, or its a brain tumor!
Apparently, Italians would rather be tied to the front grill of an old FIAT and be driven through Rome traffic than eat leftover risotto. I must say I sympathize. I made Friday night’s risotto about an hour before serving so I would be able to join our guests in drinks and appetizers. But in that one hour the risotto had already thickened and softened substantially as it absorbed its remaining moisture. It was still good, but lacking the creamy texture for which it is famous. Moral of the story: Most things can be prepared ahead of time, but risotto must be served immediately.
Now, what to do with the leftover? Apparently, Italians use leftover risotto to make risotto pancakes (risotto al salto) or deep fried rice balls (suppli or arancini). I made the pancakes, which involved nothing more that mixing in a few well-beaten eggs to the cold risotto (about one egg per cup of risotto), and putting it into my handy Patti-Stacker to create a number of 1/4 inch-thick “rice burgers” which I then pan fried in a little olive oil until they were brown and crusty on both sides. I served sauteed three-pepper shrimp on top of the risotto pancakes accompanied by half-split radiccio that had been drizzled with olive oil and BBQ’d until wilty and charred. Absolutely out of this world and the whole meal for five people in 30 minutes! Good enough to make the risotto just for the purpose of making the pancakes.
Friday is card night. I don’t care for card games, but for the last few months have gotten into Liverpool, a rummy-type game that has become a form of religious observance on Friday nights, bringing together a strange mixture of nationalities: Greek, Israeli, Italian, Russian, Romanian, and one token English/French Canadian (my wife) for political correctness. This is the middle-aged person’s version of “swapping” or “The Lifestyle” as its known…although in our case we swap recipes and verbal abuse (a later-life form of oral sex!). We move around from house to house over the weeks, and its the host’s prerogative to cook whatever he/she wants.
Here’s tonight’s meal plan (since its my turn to “cook”):
A United Nations’ Menu:
- Mexico: Spicy organic blue corn chips with Salsa Verde, and Atonement Margaritas (I have to atone for last week’s really crappy ones!);
- Greece: Thick slabs of spanakopita as the appetizer;
- Asian: Five-spice crusted lamb tenderloin done using Son-of-Leisureguy’s oven hot pan method;
- Asian: Sake and coconut broth risotto with garlic, ginger, and cilantro;
- Canadian: Steamed broccoflower;
- Italian: Cesar salad with my homemade dressing and organic bacon from a farmer friend (if people still have room);
- French: Saint-Morgon cheese on Raincoast Crisp (the world’s best crackers IMHO) Cranberry and Hazelnut crackers;
- Caribbean: Artisanal Mango sorbet (just fruit, no sugar) with fresh blackberries and blueberries.
- Greece: Lyrakakis Kotsifali Cretan red wine
- Scotland: The Singleton 12 year-old single malt scotch.
Rather pedestrian-sounding I know, but hey, its Friday night and we’re all too tired for elaborate cooking 🙂
Today I was in the mood for a very simple shave: the GEM G-Bar, Gold Dachs soap applied with the Shavemaster brush, and the CADE oil for the finishing “gloss” cut. I’ve written before that the GEM G-Bar produces an incredibly close shave, almost as good as what I’ve had at the hands of a professional barber and a straight razor. But there is one caveat: The closeness comes at a price….you need a great, protective lather to keep irritation at bay, and the Gold Dachs by itself is not enough…evidenced by the extra sting of the alum block and the red irritation bumps post-shave. The same shave with some Florena shave cream added to the Gold Dachs produces a much richer, wetter, and more protective lather.