flewellyn: (Default)
So, here's something I don't get.

I've seen numerous news stories about various far-right groups and politicians decrying the entrance of refugee children into our country, screaming about how they are a threat to us, and how they're not our problem and should be sent back to the horrible poverty and violence that they're fleeing. I've seen commenters on various news sites and conservative blogs even cheering and crowing about the fact that many children have been drowning trying to cross the Rio Grande. I've seen video of protestors screaming "Not our kids, not our problem!" and "Go back where you came from!"

No doubt, most of the people saying these things would define themselves as good Christians.

Yet, if these children were unborn fetuses, these self-same "good Christians" would be all for doing whatever it took to prevent the women pregnant with them from having any access to abortion, no matter how dire the woman's circumstances of health or poverty, and insist upon using the power of the state to intervene to "protect" the fetuses. Because that's "pro-life".

But, apparently, there's nothing about cheering at the deaths of refugee children that is not "pro-life".

I mean, unless it comes down to the fact that what we have here are a group of people who are motivated only by loyalty to their own in-group, and virulent mistrust and hatred of anyone who is not like them or does not conform to their narrow and primitive view of how the world "should" work and how people "should" live. It would seem a large segment of the American public is basically living, mentally and culturally, in the early Iron Age, and has no rationally-based ethical or moral framework on which to judge reality.

...Nah. Couldn't be that, right? Right?
flewellyn: (Default)
Sometimes I think about Canada's newest, northernmost territory, and wonder why it's not a fully-fledged province in its own right.

But then I picture the Inuit being asked if they'd prefer to have a new province, rather than just an autonomous territory, and they had a look at provincial politics and said "No, thanks, we'll have Nunavut."
flewellyn: (Default)
So, some of you may be wondering how Miette and Bella are getting on, particularly in the years since Yitzak died. The answer is "Well enough, I guess."

In the weeks immediately following Yitzak's death, Bella needed a LOT of comforting snuggles. She would spend a lot of time cuddling with me, and Miette, normally very jealous of her Flewtime, would give Bella all the space she needed. Also, she would sometimes snuggle Bella herself, which I had never seen her do before.

But, that did not last. Since then, they have settled into a more typical level of affection for their prior relationship, which is to say, none whatsoever. You're familiar with the "love/hate relationship"? This is more of a "tolerate/hate relationship".

Normally, Miette will growl whenever Bella gets too close to her. What defines "too close" depends on the vagaries of Miette's mood, and can vary between "a few inches" and "in the same room or even in view at all". What defines Miette's mood depends on how much sleep she's had, where she is sitting, whether or not she is eating or using the litter box, the time of day, phase of the moon, tidal forces from Jupiter, and the current air pressure inside Miette's skull.

Bella, for her part, is not intimidated by Miette, but generally gives her her space out of, well, if not respect, at least a lack of desire to deal with her growly, whiny fussing. Usually, if this means Miette chases Bella away from me so that she can take over snuggling duties, Bella just leaves; sometimes, however, Bella gets tired of it, bites Miette on the ass, and then runs away as Miette furiously chases after her, hissing and growling. I imagine Bella making the Curly Howard "whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop!" noise as she runs off.

Every so often, though, something will get into Miette's head (probably dust) that convinces her to be nice, and I will find the two of them cuddling together. Usually this happens when I wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, and find them curled up together on the couch.

While adorable, this never ends well. Inevitably, what will happen is this: Bella will decide "We snuggled, this means we are friends now, this means we can PLAAAAAAY!" She will then gleefully pounce on Miette. Miette, who does not do "play" or "roughhousing" or "movement in general", will interpret this as an attack and engage in furious howling and hissing, and then run away as fast as she can. The end result will be Bella looking very confused and slightly sad, and Miette hunching over in a corner defensively with a "DON'T YOU FUCKING TOUCH ME!" look on her face.

On the bright side, they don't try to injure each other, and they share food and space willingly enough, as long as they're separated from each other. So it's usually a kind of uneasy detente, much like the Cold War, but with less nuclear weapons and slightly more hissing.
flewellyn: (Default)
So, it's been a good while since I posted a recipe. But, don't think that means I haven't been experimenting! I've been studying and trying culinary things out quite a bit over the past couple of years, and I have more than a few things to show for it.

One of the things I've been doing is reading other people's recipe blogs. One I'm particularly fond of is Budget Bytes, which is a handy guide for making tasty, filling foods that are not terribly expensive. One of the best things about this blog is that the author, Beth, includes photographs of every step of the cooking process, and discusses why she made the choices she did along the way. This way, you can learn which parts are necessary, and which are optional.

I've made several things from that blog as-is, without modifications: the Easy Sesame Chicken, for instance, which is seriously just like the stuff from Chinese restaurants, or the Tandoori Chicken Bites, which should be familiar to anyone who's had "chicken tikka" at an Indian place. I can also recommend the Chili Cheese Beef n' Mac recipe, for a "like Hamburger Helper, but better" experience, or the Yellow Jasmine Rice if you want some amazing yellow rice. Try those out!

But that's not what today is about. Today is about a recipe that I saw on the site, thought looked good, but then decided that I wanted to change. I ended up changing...well...everything, except the core ingredients. The recipe in question is Beth's Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Thighs, which she does using bone-in chicken thighs, and preparing the pineapple-teriyaki sauce as a glaze to coat the thighs in before baking.

Well, I liked the sounds of this, but I didn't want to do the baking of the thighs thing, for two reasons: first, one of my gamers, Kali (pronounced "Kaylee"), has problems with chicken, but not with turkey, so I usually use turkey, and second, bone-in turkey thighs are damned hard to find at my local grocery stores. So, I had a thought of reworking it to be a simmer sauce, cooking the turkey with the sauce in a skillet instead.

After some experimenting, I came up with this, which has a different balance of ingredients, so I am just going to write everything out.

First, ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of chicken or turkey. Chicken thighs work great, but so do turkey breasts or thighs.

  • 3 cloves of garlic. Or 4, if you want. Garlic is always good, yes?

  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger paste, or the equivalent of grated fresh ginger. You don't want to use powdered ginger for this. Be advised that if you use fresh, it's probably more potent than the ground ginger paste.

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce.

  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of rice vinegar.

  • 1 tablespoon corn starch.

  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.

  • 2 tablespoons of regular vegetable oil. Canola works fine.

  • 2 18 oz jars of pineapple jam.

  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha sauce. This will add a bit of a kick, but not be overwhelmingly hot.

Also, you will want some kind of starch, either rice or pasta, to serve it over. I usually use egg noodles, but you can use other kinds of pasta as well. The sauce is very sticky, so it will have no trouble coating a long pasta, and it will also hold together on top of rice very well.

For equipment, you will need a cutting board, a large skillet, some measuring spoons (or just tablespoons), measuring cup, big kitchen knife, a big stirring spoon, a couple of small mixing bowls, and a bowl to serve with.

First, mince the garlic into small bits. If you're using fresh ginger, grate this finely as well. Keep this in a small bowl. Now, mix in one of the other mixing bowls the soy sauce, rice vinegar, pineapple jam, and sriracha sauce. This can sit for a bit.

Now cut up the chicken or turkey into small chunks, suitable for stir-frying or simmering.

Put the sesame oil and vegetable oil in the skillet and put it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put in the garlic and ginger, and roast that slightly in the oil for about a minute. Then, add the meat and turn the heat up to high. Brown the chicken or turkey, and then add the mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, jam, and sriracha.

Once that's mixed in, get the corn starch and mix in just enough water to make a slurry, then pour that in to the sauce. Mix it together, and then let it simmer on medium-high for about twenty minutes. This is a good time to make your noodles or rice.

After twenty minutes, take the chicken and sauce off of the heat and pour it into a serving bowl. Let it stand for a few minutes to thicken up a bit, and then serve over the noodles or rice.

That's it! And remember our motto at Cooking With Flew: "Less time cooking means more time eating!"
flewellyn: (Default)
*cough cough* Ahem. This thing on?

Uhh, hi. So, yeah, been away for awhile. I've been on Facebook, mostly, not blogging a lot.

I've been doing a lot of things, and much has happened! Let me explain...no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

My work has continued apace, with some nifty new developments. We did a major redesign of our code base last year, and this year we are working with some new satellite imagery providers. It's pretty challenging and interesting stuff, but the details would probably bore anyone who wasn't a GIS geek.

Let's see...oh yeah! I can has girlfriend! Yes, really! Her name is Amanda, although I call her by her online nickname (she calls me Flew, as well). She is from a town an hour away from me, but spends most of her year in Los Angeles, going to UCLA for grad school. She is a Classical scholar who can sight-read Greek and Latin and is well-versed in the works of the major Greco-Roman poets and writers, and has opinions about them (mostly about how they are "the WORST!").

Also, she is a very strong social-justice advocate and radical activist type, at least online; social anxiety makes doing in person stuff rather harder. However, she has made a lot of noise on Twitter, yelling at groups like Autism Speaks for being awful.

And, she is adorable and silly, and a lover of strangeness. I should post some quotes from her on here sometime.

Also also, she is an amateur nature photographer, especially of insects and spiders. She is the only person I know who can text me saying "WASP WASP THERE'S A WASP!" and I know she's happy and excited, not scared.

One final thing: she is, in all likelihood, Zalgo. We're almost certain she has some kind of dark and eldritch powers, at any rate.

Hmm...what else? Well, that's the main big thing. I've been doing stuff with friends around town, of course. My gaming group continues to meet, although often we end up watching television shows or YouTube videos more than actually gaming.

Oh, and I have decided that I am going to blog more about stuff here. Treat this like a real blog, you know? Expect some posts in the next few days about social issues, politics, or philosophy.

Also, recipes. Expect those.

So, muahahaha! I RETURN!
flewellyn: (Default)
If, horror of horrors, Mitt Romney were to win the election, do you know what this means?

PAUL RYAN would be only a lack-of-heartbeat away from the Presidency!
flewellyn: (Default)
Maja: what up G?
Flewellyn: Hmm...
Flewellyn: Up is the direction away from the center of a gravitaionally significant body…and G is the gravitational constant...
Flewellyn: So...
Flewellyn: *does some calculations*
Flewellyn: I would say 9.8 m/s^2
Flewellyn: More or less.
Flewellyn: How about you?
Maja: What! Let me finish. Of course, "G" was also used to refer to the "God" in another person and recognizing their divinty during the 60's civil rights movement
Maja: so put that in your computer and crunch it.
Flewellyn: *does so*
flewellyn: (Default)
Grant me the Serenity to accept what I can't change, the Big Damn Heroes to change what I can, and the Captain Mal to say "Screw the difference, I aim to misbehave."

Well, shit.

Jan. 5th, 2012 08:54 pm
flewellyn: (Default)
Yitzak, Octoberish 1993 - January 5, 2012.

Well, it WAS a good birthday...until I found him.
flewellyn: (Default)
So, I've been trying to get a small interest group going in my town, and I had a bunch of positive replies from various folks in the community. I had a first meeting planned tonight at our local Barnes and Noble, but, alas, nobody showed up.

It's odd. You'd think there'd be more interest in a book club for ninjas...
flewellyn: (Default)
You folks ever heard that song "The Christmas Shoes"? Contemporary Christian light rock song from 2000, by some group called "NewSong", that I only know about from an episode of the Nostalgia Chick. And while I like the Nostalgia Chick, I almost think I was happier not knowing about this song.

In case you haven't heard this song, or heard of it... It's an "inspirational" contemporary Christian song about a man who is doing his Christmas shopping, not feeling the spirit of the season, when he spies a little boy ahead of him in line, trying to buy some pretty women's shoes. The boy doesn't have quite enough, and he starts crying and says he wants to buy the shoes for his dying mother, so she can feel pretty before she dies. And the singer buys the shoes for the boy, who then runs home, while the guy sings that "God must have sent that little boy to remind me what Christmas is all about."

Sounds like regular Christmasy glurge, but if you look deeper, you get into some really dark and awful ideas. Truth be told, I have nothing but contemptuous rage for the sort of theology that this song espouses. Without the last bit, it'd just be a bit of "I did what I could to help someone in pain, and it reminded me that I was losing sight of the true meaning blah blah blah," and that'd be fine. Saccharine, but fine.

But the last verse is where I go from "oh, come on already" to "GRAAAAAAH RAGEFLIP A TABLE!" Seriously, what it's saying is, "God sent this little boy with his horrible, traumatic parental death and his sad, pathetic attempt at a materialistic token of affection, to remind ME, yes, ME, what Christmas is all about. God put suffering in this child's life to teach ME a lesson!"

Seriously, dude thinks that God, the purported CREATOR of the FUCKING UNIVERSE, who apparently is all good and all loving and all knowing, chose to deliberately send horror into the life of this innocent child just so he, the beardy guy warbling this song, could learn a valuable lesson?! Never mind that any god which did so would be an EVIL god, unworthy of human worship, but who the FUCK are you, Mr NewSong Lead Singer Guy? What about YOU warrants the personal attention of the Creator of All Things, especially to teach you the sort of lesson you could get off any Hallmark card, and ESPECIALLY especially when the means of teaching you is killing an innocent woman, leaving this boy without his mother?!


*ahem* So, yeah. Doesn't please me very much.

Nostalgia Chick's review is funny, though:

flewellyn: (Default)
Today, I want to say thank you to our nation's vets. All of you.

Because of your hard work and sacrifice, all of our cats, dogs, hamster, gerbils, mice, rats, birds, and farm animals are healthier, happier, and safer.

Yes, whether it be vaccinating my cats against rabies and other diseases, or performing surgery to fix a horse's broken leg, all of our domestic animals and the humans who love them owe our vets a debt of gratitude...hang on...

*mumble whisper*

...wait...VETERANS Day?!

Oh. That's very different.

flewellyn: (Default)
So, foreclosures. They're happening a lot, a lot more than they should, and for bad reasons. We all know this.

I came upon this story here, in which a group of Occupy Atlanta people set up camp on the lawn of a police officer whose home is being foreclosed upon, to try and block the eviction. I applaud this move and any like it. But, it seems, the commenters were not all of the same mind.

I noted a number of posters complaining about this as somehow immoral, allowing people to "live in homes they haven't paid for" or something like that. Two things I have to say in response.

First, we know that the banks have been engaging in widespread fraudulent foreclosures. We know that the banks have engaged in fraudulent mortgage lending, and fraudulent securitizing of known high-risk mortgages. Given this fact, ANY foreclosure in today's economic and regulatory circumstances is highly suspect. So, why do they want to blame the victims, instead of the perpetrators? I suspect the "just world" fallacy, but I can't entirely rule out less savory mindsets.

Second, it is in society's best interests to keep people in their homes. Foreclosure should be a last resort, not a routine action, and loan modification, restructuring, payment assistance, even forgiveness of debt in extreme hardship are all preferable and very supportable actions by the banks, or by the government. Kicking people out of their homes and disrupting their lives is bad for society at large, and constitutes a much greater moral hazard than "letting" people "get away with" not repaying the full mortgage, if they are truly unable.

So, in closing, I say that this moralizing about "rules are rules" and "how dare someone get away with this" is entirely misguided. Contracts are not the highest moral law, and in fact, it is often necessary to abrogate them, and to forgive debts, when the social and economic landscape has become too unbalanced. The mentality that those less fortunate who need help are "getting away with" anything is highly immoral.
flewellyn: (Default)
Remember, remember, the Fifth of November...the day Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Paraliament and replace British democracy with a theocratic dictatorship.

Who in current American politics is like him, now? Hmm...who goes around brandishing guns and screaming about overthrowing the government because they don't like that their religious beliefs are the law of the land...?

I had to.

Oct. 13th, 2011 12:37 am
flewellyn: (Default)
Dubbug: *watches csi* >.<
Flewellyn: You like that show?
Dubbug: soso
Dubbug: I used to watch it muchs
Flewellyn: I don't know.
Flewellyn: I just thought...
Flewellyn: *puts on sunglasses*
Flewellyn: ...it might bug you.
flewellyn: (Default)
I just found out my good friend Lynn, who I've known for 14 years, and who mentored me in cooking, died this evening at 6:30 PM.

We both knew she would die soon, her liver was failing. But I didn't think it would be this fast.

I'm not sure what else to say right now.
flewellyn: (Default)
Here at Cooking With Flew, we stand by the motto "Always Avoid Alliteration"!

So I had a wild hair* to make a homemade spaghetti sauce. Y'know, scratch marinara. As with most of my recent experiments, this started out with me looking up recipes, comparing and contrasting, and then deciding on some fundamentals. And then, of course, modifying wildly.

I used as a base a recipe I found on Cooks.com, which I followed almost as directed. When I tasted the results, my reaction was: "You're kidding, right?" It was seriously underspiced, and bland. Not good. So, I went to work modifying. Here, then, is the revised recipe!

  • 1 large onion. I used a large vidalia.

  • 4 cloves garlic. In a marinara, you can always use more garlic.

  • 4-6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil. The original recipe called for 1-2, but why skimp on it?

  • 28 oz can tomato puree.

  • 18 oz can tomato paste.

  • 46 oz of water. This is the "fill the cans with water after you empty them of puree or paste" trick. If you want to make the sauce thicker, consider a bit less water, or just simmer it for longer.

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar.

  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine. A red might have worked better, but I didn't have that handy.

  • At least two TABLESPOONS, not teaspoons, of basil. (Seriously, 1 teaspoon? SERIOUSLY?) Add more if you think it needs it, which it probably does. Be liberal.

  • At least a tablespoon of oregano. Again, be very liberal. It's hard to overdo the oregano (or basil) in a marinara, especially with this volume of sauce to work with.

  • Two teaspoons of salt. I used kosher salt.

  • A teaspoon or so of black pepper. Well, a number of turns of the grinder, at any rate. Do this to taste.

  • A teaspoon of sugar. This will help enhance the sauce's flavor.

  • Two teaspoons of cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon! It gives the sauce a very interesting undertone.

  • Half a teaspoon of cumin. This adds an interesting body to the sauce.
And that's just the basics. If you want meat in the sauce, add some. I added a pound of ground beef (I think I will use more next time). Sausage? Go for it. Meatballs? Sure! You can also add vegetables, mushrooms, more garlic, more onion, other spices if you want. It's a marinara, they are not easy to screw up.

Equipment needs are minimal for the basic sauce: just a nice big sauce pot, spoons, a stirrer, and a separate pot for preparing the pasta. If you add other things that need cooking, like meat, you'll want a pan for those, of course.

So, basic instructions. Part of this is just cribbed from that Cooks.com recipe, so I will quote that here:

Dice onion and garlic. Sauté onion in the bottom of a large pot in the olive oil. When onion is clear, add the garlic and cook until very lightly colored.

Stir in the can of tomato puree. Fill the empty can with water and add to pot. Add can of tomato paste, fill can with water, stirring with a spoon to mix all remaining paste into the water; add to pot. Add oregano and vinegar or wine.

Bring sauce to a boil, stirring continuously. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook over lowest heat until ready to serve...

This neglects to instruct you to add the basil, so I would do that at the same time as the oregano. Stir it all in, and then taste it. If it needs more basil or oregano, and it probably does, by all means add some. Add the sugar, the salt, and the pepper at this point.

If you're going to add a ground meat, brown it in a pan at this point, while the sauce is simmering. Add the meat with any fat from it right in there, there won't be enough to really make the sauce greasy, but it will add some body. Meatballs, you should cook in a pan first, and then add. Sausage, well, you can probably just chop that up and drop it in.

Vegetables could possibly go in raw, or steamed or lightly pan fried, depending on the veggies. Mushrooms I would definitely sautee in a bit of olive oil and garlic first.

Spices can be added while it simmers, of course. I used cinnamon and cumin, but other good choices would be ginger, allspice, maybe some cloves, a bit of turmeric. You could try coriander or cardamom, if you want. Don't go TOO overboard here, you probably still want this to taste like a marinara, not a chili sauce. (If you DO want it to taste more like a chili sauce, do not think I intend to stop you.)

Once it's simmered for awhile, which should probably be at least half an hour, serve it over al dente pasta. With a marinara, pretty much any pasta that is larger than couscous or orzo is a good choice: I used linguine, but fettucine, rigatoni, tortellini, ravioli, farfalle, rotini**, tagliatelle, and of course spaghetti will do great. This could possibly make a good sauce base for lasagna, as well.

Be advised: you are going to have a lot of sauce! I recommend being ready to save some. It keeps very well in the fridge, or in the freezer. Or in jars or cans, if you're into that.

That's it for this edition of Cooking With Flew, and remember: less time cooking means more time eating!

* As opposed to a wild hare, who is not appearing in this picture.
** Also known as "Jawa pasta": ROTINI!
flewellyn: (Default)
"We don't allow faster than light neutrinos in here," said the bartender.

So, this neutrino walked into a bar.
flewellyn: (Default)
Dubbug: *peek*
Flewellyn: *sneak up on Gubbie*
Dubbug: *looks around*
Dubbug: hum
Dubbug: must be my imagination
Dubbug: *eat food*
Flewellyn: Shhh! Be vewwy vewwy qwiet.
Flewellyn: Ah'm huntin' Gubbies! Heahahahahahaha.
Dubbug: hmm? oh, oki! *whisper*
Dubbug: ooo!!!
Dubbug: I wanna hunt gubbies tooo!!!
Dubbug: I heard they eat bananas!
Flewellyn: ...wait, you are Gubbie.
Dubbug: so?
Dubbug: are you being a meanie and not letting me join you in your hunting!?
Flewellyn: So how would you hunt yourself?
Dubbug: I'm talented
Flewellyn: Ahhh, okay.
Flewellyn: Well, sure you can.
Flewellyn: Aha, there's one! *POUNCE*
Dubbug: *OMPH*!
Flewellyn: Oops, sorry.
Dubbug: no fair!! you distracted meeee! (whine)
Flewellyn: *picks up gubbie*
Flewellyn: Here you go.
Dubbug: *catch*
Dubbug: ah HAH! *I* caught it!
Flewellyn: You caught...yourself?
Dubbug: yesh
flewellyn: (Default)
The wildfires spreading through Texas were apparently started by a dry piece of brush that caught when Rick Perry walked past.

He'd just given a press conference, and his pants were still on fire.


flewellyn: (Default)

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