Monday, April 30, 2012

A world in which allergies have gone wild!

There is no mistaking that the climate is warming here in the North American continent. And, with that all that warming comes a few nasty surprises, not the least of which will be the brutal manner in which people who suffer with allergies will find things getting worst! Some plants (like ragweed) are in absolute hyper-drive due to the very favorable and warm climate we experienced this early spring. (March temperatures in my location, close to Branson Missouri, ranged an average of about twelve degrees above normal in March and have been over eight degrees above normal in April). People who are already sensitized to certain forms of pollen may really get walloped as we head toward the summer and fall months.  

But that’s not all! Count on some species of wasps like yellow jackets and other hornets to make big time inroads into the middle states. These insets will attack with the least provocation and their stings can be severe! Also, mosquitoes which are the vectors for such illnesses as West Nile Virus, EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis), WEE (Western Equine Encephalitis), St. Louis Encephalitis, La Crosse Encephalitis, Dengue Fever and Heart worms are on the rise in some states that have had few problems in the past. Add to that growing list, the progressive incursions of such nastiness as the fire ant and African bee and you might just become afraid to leave your house!

The bottom line; be on your guard this summer and make sure to take some form of protection with you when you venture outside.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Random thoughts in late April 2012

California, a study in how to get shellacked!

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Take a moment to study the map provided by Gas Buddy. If red meant dead that would pretty much describe California and how they’ve been taking it in the arse lo these many years. Both they and New York and to some extent Oregon pay way above the national average day in and day out.  Now why do you suppose that would be? California, in particular is sitting on a gold mine in terms of proven reserves right off their coast. Seriously, it’s all about their CF of a state economy, not to mention the out of control corruption and extremely leaky borders.  Four more years of Obama should just about do it for states like this. Well, perhaps we could sell off the Golden State, I’m not terribly sure anyone would even want New York for free.

Is Obama secretly holding the cost of food down?

Now, mind you, this is just a wild theory of mine. But, suppose that the current Administration is artificially holding down the wholesale cost of food just so the Anointed One can get re-elected! Sound a bit absurd? Yes and no. The stakes for this Republic will never be higher than what they will be in the coming election. Make no mistake, things will get ugly and every political advantage will be exercised. My thinking is that if the Democrats can just hold down the wholesale cost of food that would go a long way to helping insure a contented (sleepy) voting population.

The only fly in the ointment is the rising cost of gasoline and other petroleum products. A situation made extremely volatile considering recent events in the Middle East. Should war erupt with Iran, the cost of a gallon of gas (and then food) could really take off. And speaking of bets to get Obama re-elected… those would be off as well.

Gingrich to drop out Wednesday, May the 2nd

Apparently Newt Gingrich will be throwing in the towel when he announces his intention to drop out of the presidential race on May the 2nd. He is expected to endorse that bag of pistachio nuts, Mitt Romney. Good for him. That will now leave just Ron Paul as the only alternative candidate on the Republican side. So, short of old Mitt having a heart attack, it looks like he should have things pretty much sown up by June.

That will leave just two men going toe to toe as we enter the summer months; a summer that in all likelihood will be somewhat on the chaotic side of things. Look for riots in Chicago, a war with Iran and the collapse some countries in Europe to help set the stage for what might be a very entertaining sets of campaigns.

A tomato that's been raped!

See that thing up there on the left? Leaning up against the edge of what's left of a basket of hamburger and fries is a slice of hot house tomato that no one in their right mind would ever want eat! What's a hot house tomato? Oftentimes it's a tomato that's grown in a greenhouse, not a farm, and brought to the point where it is still green (not ripe or mature) and is then assaulted by the introduction of Etheline gas to force it to turn red. Sounds sort of like fruit rape to me. These tomatoes, while they may look ripe, are still immature inside. That's why they taste so terrible and that's why I would never include one in my food at any restaurant.

Having said that, many tomatoes are grown on commercial farms that are located thousands of miles away in states like Florida and countries such as Mexico. Because of the great shipping distances involved, they are intentionally picked green and then shipped to distant locations where they are then given the old gas treatment to force them to ripen just prior to shipment to stores and restaurants. When they get to my favorite restaurant, the fruits are still firm (which chefs like as they can be cleanly sliced without all the mushy seeds falling out). So, in effect, in order to facilitate delivery the industry forgoes taste in favor of firmness!

How can one get around this problem and still go to a food joint to enjoy a really fresh sliced tomatoes on a hamburger or in a salad? Easy. Just grow your own an smuggle them into the restaurant in the summer time. During other times of the year, I've found that plum and cherry tomatoes make great substitutes!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Critique: Best Choice New Orleans Style Rice Mix!

While perusing the isle in my grocery store that has rice products, I came across a package of Rice Mix, New Orleans Style. Well golly, I thought, who doesn’t like a good old plate of beans and rice from time to time? I bought a package for $1.50 that contained 227 grams or 8 ounces of product. I must confess, my expectations were running high.

The preparation of this dish is quite simple using a 2 quart pot with a lid; you add some water (3 cups), a tablespoon of butter and the package ingredients. These are brought to a brief boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for about thirty minutes. Voila – simple as can be.

Since I had some left over ham, I cubed a slab to form a meaty platform for the rice mix. A note of caution. Taste before you add any salt! A cup of this stuff packs a 1,060 mg of sodium. So, it’s already somewhat salty to the taste! As to taste, it wasn’t all that bad! I think the next time I try some, I’ll add a shot or two of Tabasco sauce to liven it up a but, but otherwise it was quite good. An interesting thing about this dish is that when beans and rice are eaten together, they supply all the essential amino acids a body requires. You could actually sustain your life by only eating this mix although that could get a bit boring after a month or so.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Lobster Cake Funderall kind of breakfast!

Tipper and her owner. Tipper is on the right!
Fate, it was a cruel sort of fate, that brought me together with two denizens of the small town of Forsyth Missouri for a most unusual repast. A meal that may well live in infamy in the dark recesses of my mind. A festering sore that has changed my view of the 'Free Meal' forever. But, how rude of me. Let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Dan-O. I'm a mild sort of fellow with a quick mind and little to no sense. Then, there is Dan-E the Chef who prepared a most unusual breakfast this day in the early spring. Next, there was Coon-E. A quiet sort of man and buddy to Dan-E Da Chef. Rounding out the ka-tet was Tipper who is not actually human. She's a Labrador with a weight problem.

On this day, I was responding to what was billed as a sumptuous breakfast at Dan-E's home. However, in order to get said meal, I first had to go an pickup the Coon as he does not deign to drive. Fortunately, the Coon does not live far away. As a retired individual who chooses to live alone, he resides in a quaint one bedroom apartment that comes complete with a rocking chair. (Something I've found great use for as Coon-E does everything in slow motion). On this particular morning, I found him making coffee as I entered through the front door.

Knowing that I was fated for a long wait, I settled into the rocker and began to dose off. Off in the kitchen I could hear the assorted bangs and ringing of metal that men make when they work in unfamiliar territory. Time passe and a sunbeam that struck the floor by my feet made a slow transit across them. I think I fell asleep at some point.

Some time later, cane in hand, Coon-E was ready to go. We walked out to my Jeep, got in and made an uneventful trip of some three miles to Dan-E's place. On arrival, I got my first whiff of meal I was destined to eat. The smell that assailed my delicate nostrils took me back to a time when I worked in a fish market in Chicago. Uh oh. I thought to myself. Fish for breakfast!!

As this smell assaulted me, I sat down on a couch next to Coon-E. (A man who can move surprisingly fast whenever food is about to be served). The expression on his face was neutral although I thought I could detect a slight downward turn to the corners of his mouth.

“Oh, no!” Shouted Dan-E in a raised voice. “No eating in the Living Room! You guys will have to sit at the dinner table for this, my masterpiece!”

We both arose and then ambled over to the table. As I approached it, the smell of seafood became overpowering. “So, what are we making this fine morning?” I inquired as I took a seat at the table. Coon-E was seated directly across from me and also looked up as I made this innocent inquiry.

Well, I so happy you asked.” Dan-E responded holding a spatula in one hand. “I think I'd call this creation a Lobster Cake Funderall kind of meal.” With this he presented me a plate that held two blobs covered with a dark gravy. I cautiously poked at one blob with a fork. “So, this is a Lobster CF Breakfast” I asked, tongue-in-cheek.

Dan-E, totally missing the barb, launched into a description of his creation. “What you have there is a layered pile composed of two halves of an English muffin, on top of which is a lobster cake topped with a slice of provolone cheese over which has been placed a poached egg.” He stopped to take a quick breath and to serve Coon-E his plate. “And, over all of that, is some of that great leftover deer gravy we enjoyed last week. Remember?”

I surely did remember that meal. Gosh darn it, and I thought for sure I'd seen the last of that crazy deer meat gravy of his. (On that occasion he'd used it to cover some oven-burned biscuits. Biscuits that were so hard Coon-E had eaten only the gravy). I was interrupted in my reverie by Coon-E asking what the little brown dudettes were on top of the gravy. “Those are fish eggs.” I quipped. “Naw” intoned Dan-E. “Those there things are capers! I thought they'd add a little class!” Coon-E sighed and resumed eating, looking for all the world, like a condemned man.

That meal did get finished and I can now admit that it wasn't all that bad. Were it up to me I'd of eighty-sixth the lobster, but on reflection, I did get the benefit of some Omega three fatty acids.

Coon-E, bless him, ate all of his portion and even old Tipper may have gotten a lick or two of that durn gravy. Well, all's well that end well I say. Next time breakfast at a regular eating emporium will be my treat!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Yes, we’re all hanging on the edge of our seats…

…to hear my ruminations for the balance of 2012. To me, the world seems to have become one big ticking time bomb, as of late. Almost everywhere I look, there seems to be a crisis brewing. Here are a few along with my short, but sweet, predictions:

Q: Iran, Israel and the US – Will there be war?

A: You betcha! That whole region is primed to explode. Why do you think another strike force is headed that way?

Q: Will gasoline top $7 a gallon this summer?

A: I’ll go out on a limb and state we will see $9 a gallon before fall.

Q: Who will occupy the White House this time next year?

A: Sadly, I’ll predict it will be Obama as the rank and file American is too stupid not to vote for this idiot.

Q: Will the ‘big one’ ever hit the West Coast?

A: Yes. It will hit this fall and only add to the general chaos!

Q: Can the average American ever again afford decent healthcare?

A: Do you even have to ask?

Q: Will food prices rise this fall?

A: Yes. At least 25%!

The mighty Korean mouse roars again!

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I have to give credit where credit's due. North Korean officials just don't know when to stop. Instead of not launching silly missiles and not performing underground tests that impress no one, this group of CF's feel the need to continue to embarrass the twenty something Kim Jong Un on an international stage.

I say, job well done.

America under Obama's heel!

Wow! What a whirlwind it's been since that day in January when Obama was first sworn into the highest orfice of the land. He immediately tackled the sad state of affairs of this Union and saved it somehow by insuring its ultimate bankruptcy. Uh, say what?

He oversaw a Congress that could get absolutely nothing done. No fiscal budget was ever passed as spending freewheeled out of control during his watch. He managed to get exactly one bill of any significance passed. (A very sick health bill that seems destined to be essentially de-funded by the courts this summer). But wait! There’s more! He's alienated our only friend in the Middle East (Israel) while consistently bowing to our enemies. He's been instrumental in crushing any hope of energy independence in this country for at least another decade or more. He has consistently shown his disdain for a free market in favor of socialism. Finally, he has thumbed his nose at our Constitution in blatant and uniform fashion ever since his first day in office. Enough already!

Obama is everything that the heart of America is not, and yet incredibly, there are many who would like to see this Bozo have at it for another four years. Unfortunately, that bag of pistachio nuts (Mitt Romney) he will be running against, isn't much better. Sadly, the Republican Party also stands in disarray and currently shares some extremest attitudes in its own right. (Case in point; their everlasting hard-on for war). But, surely dear God (I'm praying now) – even old Mitt will make a better President than the CF who currently occupies the Oval Office!

In any case my fellow tapped out Americans, you can bet whoever the next Commander in Chief is, will need a mighty big shovel to fill in that 17 trillion dollar hole. Update: 3 years later and the debt is 19 trillion, the country is in a shambles, America is an International joke and Obama was currently sucking Putin's ass. And.. we have another year and a half to go....

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fairground Hotdogs are horrific! Really!

Sure, I know that meat prices are soaring at this time. I also know that everyone is out to save a buck here or there. But, trying to save money by buying junk like the hotdogs under the brand name of Fairground (distributed by the Save A Lot food chain) is just plain ridiculous! We can do better than this America!

Everyone is aware that hotdogs, as a class of food, are not the best thing in the world to eat long term. But, if you’re going to insist on eating one ( I love personally love them), then at least make sure it’s an ‘all beef’ product.  I paid about a buck for the package pictured above that I wouldn’t feed to a starving dog! Eating one of these was an insult to my taste buds! They had a texture that actually felt slimy on my tongue (gag me). Nutritionally you’re getting hit with about a quarter of the recommended allowance for salt and 130 unneeded calories.  Contrast that to an all beef hotdog from producers like Oscar Meyer and you’ll see, smell, feel and taste the difference immediately. OK, that’s your choice... real beef or chicken and pork parts. Hmmm. That’s  a toughie.

Now, here's the real deal! Hotdogs may eventually kill you, but as they say, what a way to go! The difference in price was about three dollars more for something that's all beef and all American! I would be proud to serve these at a BBQ in the park or at home to hungry kids.

Update: In my 2016 review I changed my tune - the Fairground dogs had improved re-markedly!

Disclaimer: This post was not intended to be a plug for Oscar Meyer - there are many other quality franks out there for sale.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thar she goes! North Korean missile launch!

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OK, OK! I get the phallic impressionism going on here. This test was, after all, to 'climax' the ascension of Kim Jong Un to absolute authority over millions of starving subjects. At the very top of the missile was a warhead satellite whose purpose was apparently to observe the weather two miles down in the pacific ocean. One observer commented that the cost of this effort to dump hardware into the ocean was equal to about 60 billion bowls of rice!

The missile, which I think was named Jong's Dong II, barely made it over water before self destructing. I also understand that very shortly after this disaster occurred, a group of missile scientists were seen running pell mell towards the southern border.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bagel thins! A new exciting bread idea or what?

A friend recently gave me a bag of bagel thins to try out.  Apparently someone had the idea of taking a standard wheat bagel and removing the middle portion so all that was left was the tops and bottoms. This reminded me of the old Seinfeld series where Elaine was trying to sell the concept of eating just the muffin tops and leaving the rest for the homeless to eat! Not sure that worked out very well.

Since I had received a bag of these for free, I figured I’d give them a try. At just 110 calories compared to ‘normal’ bagel varieties with 350 calories, I felt I could even afford to spread on some jam and still keep things diet-nice.

Not one to wait, I went right ahead and tossed two halves into my toaster. A few minutes later, after slathering them with a pat of butter and some grape jam, I sat down to taste the result.

What can I say! It was similar to eating the end of a loaf of bread… in this case, wheat bread. While I’m sure there are people out there who like that kind of thing, it wasn’t for me.  While this may have been a good idea, I doubt that it will make it very far, especially considering how good a real bagel tastes!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why a restaurant can lose its customers!

Any venue that serves food has it tough. Eating is a uniquely personal experience that places special demands on both the cooking and serving staff. Often times a period when no customers come in the door are punctuated by a ‘rush’ when it seems the whole town shows up all at once! During such times, the employees go into ‘max stress mode’ when everything that can go wrong often does. Adding to the on and off again chaos are customers who are oftentimes indifferent and sometimes even surly in their attitudes. Is it any wonder, then, that the employee turnover rate is so high at many venues?   

Today, during what some consider the second Great Depression, it even harder for an owner to hold everything together. Two factors come into sharp focus when bad economic times hit; the cost of food and a customer’s generosity or lack thereof. As food costs climb an owner will oftentimes have no choice but to either raise the menu prices or to cut back on payroll. Sometimes he or she must do both! This puts an added strain on all the staff during times when customers are rushing through the door. Then, adding insult to injury, the customers will sometimes cut back on what they tip to help them make up for what they consider to be unfair price increases in the menu.

The end result of this process over time is that many of the really good professionals will leave such a place in search of better paying jobs. The vacuum that’s left then quickly filled with individuals who are poorly suited for this line of work. You then have a situation where ill mannered, cheap patrons are being served by poorly trained newbie’s who are often just as rude and inconsiderate as the person they are serving. A lose-lose situation for all concerned, not to mention the owner! Over time, some venues can lose so many customers that they are no longer able to stay open and so close their doors. What’s left in their wake are increasing numbers of ‘cut rate and shoddy’ businesses that hire poorly trained part-time workers, serve low quality food and survive by screwing everyone and thing within reach.

Who do we have to thank for this? Obama of course!