Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The real North Korea

Due to a famine hitting the country because of international trade sanctions, North Koreans are forced to live off of food rations from the government. The government claims that they provide their citizens with all that they need but in reality, as this photo which was secretly taken of a grocery store proves, this is not necessarily the case. This Pyongyang supermarket is for the above average (although not elite) North Korean, and shows the paltry offerings on hand, mainly apples, turnips, and leeks. Yum…

Most of the country of North Korea is starving, with a huge percentage of the population dangerously malnourished, eating rats and squirrels for sustenance. The country is therefore trying to increase its arable farmland in order to feed its people. However, due to still using farming methods from the 1700s, this isn’t really working out, with people all over the country emaciated and malnourished. North Koreans who escape to China are easily recognizable for being extremely thin, and for their tendencies to eat everything they see. 

When foreigners come to visit the Hermit Kingdom, they are taken on tightly controlled, heavily monitored tours where photographing the wrong thing may just put you in jail, or worse. This photographer risked his life by taking a photo of a nearly empty train station. North Korean citizens are closely watched, and they are not allowed to travel outside of their own town or village without express written permission from the regime. The train here is mainly for tourists, and just another cog in the regime’s propaganda machine. 

Just like in a chapter of 1984, everyone’s movements and words are monitored by the government. There isn’t a place in North Korea where you aren’t being watched, with hidden cameras and microphones located everywhere from homes to offices, parks and squares to even buses and cars! It is a not uncommon sight to see North Korean military watchtowers watching towns, making sure that everyone is in line.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Crock Pot Ham and Bean Soup!

Taking a cue from a package of Hurst's 15 bean soup package, I thought to try out an 'Owenized' version, using just the foodstuff I actually had on hand. 


10 oz of Hurst's 15 bean soup package (1/2 a package)
2 ham hocks
½ packet of ham flavoring (included with Hurst package)
15 oz can of chicken broth
15 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
¼ onion, chopped
¼ tsp garlic
Dash of Cayenne pepper
¼ tsp of lemon juice


For this meal I used a small 2 quart Crock Pot, that I had ordered from Amazon, as it does a great job when cooking up smaller amounts of food.

To start this recipe off, I rinsed the beans (about half the package) and added them, along with the onion, ham hocks, broth, garlic and Cayenne pepper into the Crock Pot which was set on high. The lid was put on and it was allowed to cook for 5 hours. (Note that if you boil the beans prior to adding them to the slow cooker, the time is reduced to about three hours). After that time had elapsed, I removed the ham hocks, cut off the meat and discarded the bones. I also checked the beans for tenderness. I then stirred in the can of diced tomatoes, lemon juice and ham flavoring.

I let this cook for an additional 30 minutes to allow the flavors a chance to meld. Serves about 4.

Notes: The Crock Pot I used, when set on high, reached a temperature of about 232 degrees Fahrenheit. This was hot enough to cause the contents to slightly boil or simmer.

Monday, May 15, 2017

One Forsyth Missouri area park still open after the flood!

Forsyth MO. – After suffering from a 100 year flood, and even as two area parks (River Run and Shadow Rock) were both completely inundated with water, one small park area survived.

Empire District's small park area just to the southwest off Powersite dam was still open for business. This public park area supports picnic benches, a covered area, a boat ramp and bathrooms. And even if a few areas had water on them, most of the area was good to go when I visited on May 14, 2017. 

Even as record levels of water continued to flow over Powersite dam, the Taneycomo Lake area remained close to normal levels even as Bull Shoals was almost to that level! It's thought that both the Bull Shoals recreational areas will be closed for the balance of the year, even if no more rain were to fall. A situation deemed somewhat unlikely as more rain was forecast for later in the week of this post. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Another global cyber attack possible on Monday!

Site of attempted WannaCry infections!

The war is apparently on in the global cyber world! With over 200K systems now infected with the ransomware known as 'WannaCry' the world, especially the UK is girding its loins for a tough Monday, May the 15th!

According to an article in The Telegraph, a UK publication, the threat from the cyber attack that crippled international services "will continue to grow" as people return to work on Monday, the head of Europol warned.

The virus, (which was stopped this time by a 22 year old computer genius), is anything but over. According him, 'a further attack is likely' and he stressed that 'it's very important that people patch their systems now.' [Microsoft has a patch you can download].

The anti-hacker also stated that, "We have stopped this one, but there will be another one coming and it will not be stoppable by us.” He also admonished, "There's a lot of money in this. There's no reason for them to stop. It's not really much effort for them to change the code and then start over.”
Some experts now fear this latest coordinated attack which hit over 90 countries world wide, may only be the tip of the iceberg. In many ways, the individuals responsible are not unlike ISIS. They both are on missions to destroy entire countries. One side does this for religious reasons, while the side is in it for the money. Either way, the damage they are doing could be beyond horrific.

In a rare step, Microsoft published a patch for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8—all of them operating systems for which it no longer provides mainstream support.

Users can download and find more information about the patches in Microsoft’s blog post about Friday’s attack from the WannaCry ransomware.

Does anyone remember 911, and how surprised we all were that some simple minded people who were also radicalized could use a few planes to bring us down? Now, consider a cyber attack followed up with a strike at our electrical grid. It wouldn't even have to be particularity effective to throw millions into a panic.... Next day, a new Dark age. Meanwhile, we all sit staring at our TV's, cellphones and computers like mindless lemmings....

Friday, May 12, 2017

Five way Cincinnati chili!

I like chili and spaghetti, so it was nice when I first heard of this very popular dish. According to my research, Cincinnati chili originated with immigrant restaurateurs from the Macedonian region who were trying to expand their customer base by moving beyond narrowly ethnic styles of cuisine.

Tom and John Kiradjieff began serving a "stew with traditional Mediterranean spices" as a topping for hot dogs which they called "coneys" in 1922 at their hot dog stand located next to a burlesque theater called the Empress. Tom Kiradjieff used the sauce to modify a traditional Greek dish, speculated to have been pastitsio, moussaka or saltsa kima to come up with a dish he called chili spaghetti. He first developed a recipe calling for the spaghetti to be cooked in the chili but changed his method in response to customer requests and began serving the sauce as a topping, eventually adding grated cheese as a topping for both the chili spaghetti and the coneys, also in response to customer requests. To make ordering more efficient, the brothers created the "way" system of ordering.

That style has since been copied and modified by many other restaurant proprietors, often fellow Greek-Macedonian immigrants who had worked at Empress restaurants before leaving to open their own chili parlors, often following the business model to the point of locating their restaurants adjacent to theaters.

My meal selection on this day, was a five way order meal-a-deal! Following is a list of 'ways'.

3-Way: Spaghetti covered with bean-less chili, topped with shredded cheddar cheese.
4-Way: A 3-Way with onions or beans.
5-Way: A 3-Way with onions and beans.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Critique: Banquest's Salisbury Steak Meal circa 2017!

It took me quite some time before I came to the realization that TV dinners actually evolved and changed. What existed in 2015 was not what was offered in 2017! Only the price of $1.29 seemed to remain somewhat constant.

One of the changes was the masked potatoes, or what I would better describe as baby vomit. The texture was wrong and the taste a bit on the grainy side. Not cool.Even repeated nuking in the microwave did not improve that mush. Likewise, I never got a good look at the Salisbury steak as it was covered by an annealed mass of sauce. But, unlike the mashed potatoes, it tasted OK.
Gag me, totally!

On the better side of things, the corn tasted like corn (duh) with the desert being the real star of an otherwise very disappointing late afternoon encounter. Other insults that came from this 350 calorie mess were the extremely high doses of saturated fats (23%) and the completely insane load of sodium at 1340 milligrams. (Were I a much younger man sponging off of poor parents, and that was all they could afford, I could live with it. But, as an older and hopefully smarter person, I elected to dump most of it into the trash...).

I scored this a 3 on a scale of 10 and would not recommend it... well, maybe I would to my enemies.

Monday, May 8, 2017

An ETM with fried potatoes breakfast! WHAT?

ETM stands for Egg, toast and milk. (My acronym for an often eaten morning repast)! This breakfast has a lot going for it... for the most part. Let me count the ways...

DA EGG - 46 grams at 90 calories

More than half the protein of an egg is found in the egg white along with vitamin B2 and lower amounts of fat and cholesterol than the yolk. The whites are rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Eggs are close to a perfect human food as they are almost entirely absorbed in the small intestine. And yes, they are high in cholesterol, although recent research has shown the impact of that has been much maligned according to this WebMD post!

RYE TOAST (dry – no butter) - 32 grams at 80 calories

Since its gluten is less elastic than wheat's, and it holds less gas during the leavening process, breads made with rye flour are more compact and dense. Since it is difficult to separate the germ and bran from the endosperm of rye, rye flour usually retains a large quantity of nutrients, unlike refined wheat flour. Bottom line, rye bread is much better for you than white ever will be!

MILK - 100 grams at 64 calories

Whole milk is a rich source of calcium, a mineral essential for healthy bones and teeth. Cow's milk is also often fortified with vitamin D, which is also beneficial for bone health. And sure, 100 grams in a glass ain't all that much!

The above three come in at at diet healthy 234 calories and were I to leave it at that, I could pat myself on the back and move on. However, us guys have a way of mucking up even the most well intentioned efforts, and so I also like to often add in a serving of fried potatoes... so, sue me!

FRIED POTATOES - 126 grams at 240 calories

OK, I know we've all been rather brainwashed when it comes to eating French fries, but just hold on! My method of cutting a fresh Russet potato into slices and then browning that in olive oil is world's apart from the junk food you might get at McDonald's! Without going into too much detail, the potatoes made my way offer up a lot less surface area for the oil to cling to. In addition, I never burn them ( a really bad idea), but rather just get them to the cooked stage. These are then dried on a paper towel and sprinkled with a salt substitute. The end result is a high carb addition that many nutritionists can live with!

There you have it! This meal-a-deal came in at about 474 calories and was everything a growing boy needs to stay fit and trim.. now where did I put the chips and beer?

Notes: Other condiments used in this preparation were I Can't Believe it's Not Butter and A1 sauce!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Subway Cold Cuts knockoff!

As much as I love going to Subway to eat, I don't always have the time or the cash. To fix that, I purchased some of the ingredients at my local grocery and made myself a homemade version of their Cold Cuts sandwich at home!

Real deal at Subway!

Now, while I only had a few ingredients, I made do as best I could. Here's what I had to start with:

Sliced roast beef
Sliced ham
Romaine lettuce, shredded
Hot pepper rings
White onion
Shredded cheddar cheese
1 Bolillo* roll

I began by slicing the roll long ways, laid it open face on a rack in a convection oven set to broil and then sprinkled it with some shredded cheese. I then set the oven and waited about 2 minutes for it to brown the surfaces and melt the cheese.

Next, I removed it from the oven and added a layer of meats followed by the peppers and onions. Lastly on went a layer of lettuce fallowed by a slathering of mayo. This baby was then ready to eat!

The taste was great, the calories livable and it was easy to make to boot!

Note: A bolillo (Spanish pronunciation: [boˈliʝo]) or pan francés (meaning "French bread") is a type of savory bread traditionally made in Mexico. It is a variation of the baguette, but shorter in length and is often baked in a stone oven.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Critique: Red Baron's Deep Dish Single Pizza!

It had been some time since I'd had any pizza and so it was that I bought a Red Baron Deep Dish pizza package at my local grocery store on a whim. There were two small pizza's in a box that cost me $3.34. when I opened the box up, after I got home, I was surprised to see how small they were. Almost immediately I was then shocked by the nutritional information! Each little pizza 'bomb' that weighed a mere 159 grams or a third of a pound or about 5 ounces contained 430 calories, 20 grams of fat, 40 mg of cholesterol and 990 mg of salt! In other words about as bad a piece of nutrition as there is anywhere to be found! And, while I may be somewhat suicidal, I wasn't crazy!

To that end, I made the quick decision to only try ½ of a serving. By doing that I cut the whole nutritional mess down to a livable portion. I then substituted in a small salad and called it a day.

The taste of my little portion was as feared. Incredible! My only complaint was that I felt that the crust was a bit too crunchy. But, why is it that the poorer a food is, the better it seems to taste overall? Mine was gobbled up so fast, I almost bit off my fingers! I then finished this lunch off with the salad that served as a rather boring counterpoint the the entire interlude.

Monday, May 1, 2017

James Olmos with Heaven in My Eyes!

Sounds complete, my life so sweet. James thought to sing of life this day. I'd love his sounds anyway. For that which comes from a heart so pure, springs anew and brings a cure...