Villa Beausoleil

The current state of the world, plus recipes...

Name:
Location: Boston, MA

I try to keep up with the news, obsessively read my favorite blogs and try not to burn things while I'm surfing the internet...

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Final Post of the Year of Living Dangerously

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! Blogging has been a little slow due to busy busy bees here at Villa Beausoleil, but wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year, and Bonne Annee!! BooBoo and Max want to wish you all the best for the New Year too, but I'm having problems uploading their pics... Don't worry, I should be able to figure it out for the first Friday Cat Blogging of the New Year...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Earthquake

I think we just had an earthquake here in Boston about an hour ago.... Can't seem to get confirmation yet

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Chicken empanadas

Pre-heated oven to 400F. Sauteed half a diced onion and sliced mushrooms in some olive oil, added diced left over roast chicken that was hanging around the fridge, chopped pitted green olives, salt, pepper, and some paprika. Added some chicken stock and made a little well in the middle in which to stir a teaspoon or two of flour. Stirred and simmered it a little until the sauce thickened up. Took left over pastry dough (I had 1 and a half rounds left over from Christmas pies), and cut the full round into two, making 3 half-moons. Placed them onto a cookie sheet. Spooned chicken mixture onto one side of each of the half-moons, folded them over to make rough triangles, and squished the edges together all around each triangle with the back of a fork. Put cookie sheet in oven, lowered temperature to 350F and baked for 20 minutes. Perfect little lunch with a tossed salad.

Forget the blue dress, what about the NSA's dirty laundry?

Just a thought.... When Clinton was impeached, everyone fell into line because his "crime" was exclusive to him, and didn't implicate government secrets -- so they could have a field day without worrying about how our government was going to look, or spilling the beans to our enemies... (never mind that impeaching a president over sexual improprieties made us all look like idiots). But Bush's crimes will never be punished because what would happen if we tried to impeach him? A proper prosecution would involve divulging exactly what he's been doing since 9/11, and a proper defense would mean divulging what they claim other presidents did before him.... in detail. Never going to happen....

Media savvy, alright...

The WSJ Online again illustrates all that is wrong with the MSM...

WASHINGTON – The television commercials are attention-grabbing: Newly found Iraqi documents show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and mustard gas, and had "extensive ties" to al Qaeda. The discoveries are being covered up by those "willing to undermine support for the war on terrorism to selfishly advance their shameless political ambitions." The hard-hitting spots are part of a recent public-relations barrage aimed at reversing a decline in public support for President Bush's handling of Iraq. But these advertisements aren't paid for by the Republican National Committee or other established White House allies. Instead, they are sponsored by Move America Forward, a media-savvy outside advocacy group that has become one of the loudest -- and most controversial -- voices in the Iraq debate.

(...)

Move America Forward has no discernible formal ties to the White House or the Republican National Committee, and the group says it operates independently from the Republican Party establishment. Still, the organization provides a clear benefit to the administration by spreading a pro-war message that goes beyond what administration officials can say publicly. (emphasis mine)

WTF?? "The organization provides a clear benefit to the administration"???? By LYING?? This is a benefit?? I mean, in the corrupt and poisonous atmosphere perfected by this administration, I know it is, but why is this so accepted by the MSM that it's not pointed out?? "That goes beyond what the adminstration officials can say publicly"???? What on god's green earth does that mean?? That the administration has this information about proof of WMD, proof of Iraqi ties to AQ, but for some reason they can't present it? Or that the administration just can't lie publicly like Move America Forward?

Liberals question how the group has maintained its status as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, which requires strict nonpartisanship, given the anti-Democratic tone of its campaigns.

(...)

"When you have people participating in partisan activities with nonprofit dollars, that's really something the IRS needs to look at," says Tom Matzzie, the Washington director of the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org, another frequent target for Move America Forward's rhetoric. "An organization with a shady tax status participating in partisan activities and saying things that aren't true is a rogue element in American politics."

Why "liberals question?" Shouldn't all law-abiding tax-payers be questioning this? Why does this have to be a "he said, she said?" Why can't the WSJO just come out and report what the law is on 501(c)(3)s, SINCE IT'S THE LAW, without "tainting" it as partisan by quoting MoveOn (who I support, but is considered "radical" by many in the mainstream due to right wingnut attacks)?? I mean, it's a great MoveOn quote, but really, why is the issue of what MAF can do or not do with tax-exempt dollars NOT JUST REPORTED AS FACT??

They right about one thing though.... "media savvy" ....

I'm going to go lie down with my headache....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Pass on the meme

Ok, no one passed this meme to me, but I don't feel left out -- I'll just do it anyway (and note, it was hard to pick just four for each category)... Four jobs you've had in your life: bartender in the Sydney Opera House greenroom, intern at the Lexington Conservatory Theater in the Catskills, script supervisor on a film about young hoods in Barcelona, investigating dealth penalty cases in Mississippi and New Orleans Four movies you could watch over and over: Casablanca, Amelie, The Quiet Earth, La Historia Official Four places you've lived: Paris, Sydney, Rio, Barcelona Four TV shows you love to watch: Animal Precinct, Sex and the City, Sopranos, Supernanny Four places you've been on vacation: Rafting on the Copper River, Alaska; Learning outdoor survival techniques in Boulder, Utah; Sailing the Baltic coast of Finland, Sweden, Denmark; Girl Scout Camp in Germany Four websites you visit daily: Atrios, TalkLeft, Huffington Post, CrooksandLiars Four of your favorite foods: Szechuan garlic eggplant, fresh-baked croissants, pumpernickel bread with any smelly soft cheese, Pavlova Four places you'd rather be: Saratoga Springs on Travers Day, Coogee Beach on New Year's, Any outdoor cafe in Paris, Chinatown in NYC

Saturday, December 24, 2005

And now for some lighter fare....

Christmas Brunch (Christmas dinner will be later in the day due to late arrival of my brother): Belgian Waffles with powdered sugar and whipped cream and berries (depends on what looks good at Whole Foods today) Christmas Dinner (decided to forgo turkey this year, due to time passing ever more quickly between Thanksgiving and Christmas as we get older): Crown Roast of Lamb with rosemary and garlic, and mint jelly Roasted little red potatoes with rosemary, olive oil, and lemon Roasted parsnips, carrots, onions, turnips, squash Brussel Sprouts a la Betsy Salad Apple pie with ice cream Pumpkin pie with whipped cream

You can read Mao, but that's about it

The UMass Dartmouth student who was the alleged target of a Homeland Security visit for attempting to obtain Mao's Little Red Book by interlibrary loan has confessed to making the whole thing up. I must say, I am both relieved, and infuriated. Relieved, because it's nice to know that at least in this instance, the government isn't wasting our money trampling on the simple right of Americans to read what they want, when they want to. Infuriated, because as evidenced by the flood of information recently of real ways our government is trampling on our rights every day of the week, and this hoax merely provides fodder for the right-wingnuts to dismiss those concerns with a "Hah!" How about these trampled rights?: 1. Our government is secretly spying on vast numbers of Americans without warrants 2. Our government is spying on little old ladies, animal rights activists, environmentalists, gay groups 3. Our government is infiltrating peace groups and agitating in disguise at demonstrations, causing the legitimate demonstrators to become involved in altercations they wouldn't otherwise have been involved in. 4. Our government is torturing people 5. Our government is torturing people to death 6. Our government is torturing people, resulting in false information that helped justify illegal war 7. Our government operates secret prisons 8. Our government disappears people 9. Our government holds American citizens as enemy combatants for years on end with no charges and no way to clear themselves 10. Our government secretly spies on Muslims in this country without warrants, including entering private property to do so 11. Our government is the top "democracy" in jailing journalists 12. Our government is illegally spying on political opponents 13. Our government regularly perjures itself in court, for example, here and here

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Our Government at Work

Here's another story about how our government is spending its resources in the War on Terra.... I got married in August. My husband is French. One week before the wedding, his French family and best friend arrived from France for the wedding. Because of the numbers arriving, he and I drove in two vehicles to the airport to pick them up. We waited outside that imposing wall between customs check and the excited greeters, craning our necks every time the automatic doors opened, to see if his family was coming. Finally, his mother, sister, brother, and two nieces came out, and we had a happy family reunion. Since we knew his best friend had caught the same flight, we waited for him. And waited... and waited... After an hour and half, and with no official on the outside to ask, I suggested that I take the drooping girls in my car to their hotel, and my fiance and his brother could wait for Pierre (NOTE: all names have been changed to protect the innocent). We loaded up the car, and the girls and I headed out of the airport parking lot. Just as we got to the exit, where I was about to insert the parking voucher in machine to open up the barrier, my cell phone rang. Luckily, I answered, and the following conversation ensued.... "Hello?" "Is this Rachel Morris?" "Yes?" "This is Peter Jackson of United States Immigration. Where are you?" You can imagine my surprise and confusion at this point. I had a slight moment of panic that my fiance's green card was about to be revoked. "I'm in the airport parking lot. Why?" "Haven't you forgotten someone? Someone by the name of Pierre Marquis?" "NO! I'm taking the girls to the hotel! We waited so long.... ! My fiance is waiting with his brother for Pierre in the terminal! What's going on?" Meanwhile, there are cars lining up behind us, and I'm hesitating to insert the ticket in the machine, in case we have to go back... "Are you getting married?" "Yes! In a week! That's why everyone is here! What's going on??" "Is Pierre here for the wedding?" "Yes..." "How long is he staying?" "I don't know exactly, I think he's staying until a couple of days after the wedding, why?? Should I come back? What do you want us to do?" "No, no, we'll let him go in minute. Thank you very much..." Click. So we exit the parking lot, swing back around to the terminal, and I dispatch my fiance's sister to run inside, find my fiance, and tell him Pierre is about to be released. She couldn't find them at first, because (of course!) they were in the airport bar! Finally, we head out towards the city, and my cell phone rings again. It's my sister, who's waiting at my house (she and her boyfriend Jack had arrived from Australia for the wedding just a few days before). "Rache?" "Yes?" "Did you get a call from Peter Jackson?" "YES!!" "He called here asking for you! Luckily Jack answered the phone while I was doing laundry in the basement..." And then she recounted the following conversation... "Hello?" "This is Peter Jackson of United States Immigration. May I speak with Rachel Morris, please?" "I'm sorry, she's not at home at the moment." "To whom am I speaking?" "This is Jack." (Puzzled tone of voice) "And my I ask your relationship to Rachel?" "I'm her sister's boyfriend from Australia, we just flew in..." "Is Rachel getting married?" At this point, Jack had his own moment of panic. Not knowing my fiance's immigration status, he wasn't sure if he should be truthful or not -- luckily, that was only a split second of indecision... "YES! That's why we're all here. She and her fiance are at the airport to pick up his family right now..." "Well, we have a crazy Frenchman here.... " "Oh! That would be Pierre!" This is the point in the story where everyone who knows Pierre, bursts out laughing... Of course, Jack has never met Pierre, but after hearing stories, he managed to say just the right thing with that impromptu outburst! At this point, Jack gave Peter Jackson my cell phone number, and PJ thanked him for being so helpful... Pierre's story: Pierre is scared of flying. By the time the plane landed, he was three sheets to the wind... At Immigration, he began muttering to himself about all the frickin' forms he had to fill out, after having filled out the same forms on the plane... He said something under his breath to the effect of "Fricking forms... fricking immigration... bureaucracy... you'd think I was a terrorist or something.... mutter, mutter, mutter... " At which point, a French-speaking immigration official hauled him off to a back room to meet Peter Jackson. They grilled him on why he was here, why he had travelled to the US twice in the past year, where he was staying, where I lived, etc. etc.... Being Pierre, he didn't know my address, only the name of the neighborhood I lived in, my subway stop, and that my house is green and on a corner. He also didn't know my phone number, but found a phone number on a scrap of paper that turned out to be mine. Being Pierre, he just figured that if we weren't at the airport to meet him, he'd take the train and meander over to our house. I don't doubt that he was a teeny bit belligerent at this point, since they'd confiscated a precious can of veal stock that he had brought in order to cook us up a feast... (Mad Cow, you know. Never mind that there's Mad Cow in the US, but not in France.) You'll be glad to know that Pierre managed to put together a gourmet meal or two without the veal stock, the wedding was a glorious success, and Pierre is even coming back to visit us next summer with his teenage son. This time, however, we'll be prepared. We've bought a little tent and camp stove, and we've already staked out our spot in the airport terminal....

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Fascism comes to New Bedford

In case you missed it, the New Bedford Standard Times reported on Friday that a student at UMass Dartmouth earned a visit from two federal Homeland Security agents because he filled out an interlibrary loan form at the college library for a copy of Mao's Little Red Book. He was doing research for a paper for his class on fascism and totalitarianism. As my friend Jen says, the terrorists have won. If they hate our freedoms (according to Dubya), they have won. If their goal was to spread paranoia in America, they have won. What a waste of resources. The Little Red Book is available at any major bookstore, and you can pay in cash. What are the chances of terrorists filling out forms at libraries for a book they can obtain anonymously? What on earth is the justification for requiring a social security number for library loan? Why did the student want to remain anonymous when the story was reported in the press? If his class was teaching him anything, it should have been teaching him that the only way to fight fascism and totalitarianism is for every citizen to fight against it, and to be proud of standing up against the government. I hope the professor changes his mind about cancelling a class he was intending to teach on terrorism. I hope he goes ahead with it, and I hope it's the most popular class in school, with students fearlessly challenging government tactics that chill freedom of expression and try to control information in this country. I would have been the first to sign up. My husband is French. We spent our honeymoon recently in France. We socialized with Muslim friends there. If Big Brother is out there monitoring my blog, I'll have a plate of Holiday cookies ready for you when you show up at my door.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I Wish the Terrorists Were as Stupid as the Wingnuts

I was going to write on the stupidity of the wingnuts who claim that the leaks of Dubya's spying program are damaging to national security, but Atrios nails it....

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

According to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, warrantless surveillance of communications is legal as long as the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that Dubya's intelligence program is solely aimed at: (1) intercepting the content of communications of foreign powers, or (2) intercepting technical information not including the contents of communications, that are from property controlled by a foreign power (like an embassy) and (3) that there is no substantial likelihood that the communications intercepted will be those of US citizens or permanent residents, and (4) that there are minimization procedures in place to prevent (3), and these minimization procedures are reported to certain Congressional committees. To sum up -- no warrant needed if the communications are those of a foreign power, without involving either US citizens or "agents" of foreign powers (I know, "agents" are not mentioned above, but that's precisely why they require warrants -- see next paragraph). Warrants are needed (from a special FISA judge) in any case involving communications of (1) United States Persons (defined as US citizens or permanent residents), (2) "agents" of a foreign power, or (3) terrorist groups as opposed to "foreign powers". (NOTE: I was originally wrong on this point and have corrected it here.) The business of "agents" as opposed to the foreign power itself is very confusing. Where is the dividing line between the power itself, and the agent? When is a person the embodiment of the foreign power, and when is a person merely an "agent"? The definitions in FISA are not illuminating on this topic. Apparently, United States Persons can be foreign agents for the purpose of FISA. However, "no United States person may be considered a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States." Also, I read somewhere that there may be an amendment allowing "terrorist groups" to fall under the same warrantless search provisions as "foreign powers." But I can't seem to chase it up. If anyone has the answer to this or to my issue with the practical difference between a foreign power and a foreign agent, let me know!! Exceptions: (1) No warrants are needed if it's an emergency, but a warrant application must be made within 72 hours. (2) No warrants needed within the first 15 days after a declaration of war by Congress. So, if the NYT article of December 16th and their follow up of the 17th are correct, is our government violating the law? We report, you decide.

Always-Ready Vinaigrette

Not so much a recipe as a useful idea.... I keep a small glass bottle on my kitchen counter with a screw lid. I think it originally contained fancy maple syrup. Then I carefully pour a little salt, pepper, dried basil, and other herbs I feel like into the bottle, and maybe a small clove of garlic, sliced in pieces big enough to just squeeze through the neck. Then I pour in some red-wine vinegar, and fill almost to the top with olive oil. (I use about 1:3 vinegar to oil). Shake. Taste on a lettuce leaf and adjust seasonings as needed. Voila! A great all-purpose vinaigrette, that can be topped up as needed. And it's always ready.

Jerry's Southwestern Surprise

Fry up some sliced onions and diced garlic in olive oil (put the garlic in at the last minute, as garlic that is more than lightly browned becomes bitter). Add a can of rinsed kidney beans, toss them around a little, and then mash a few times with a potato masher. Leave a lot of the beans intact, but the mashed ones will provide thickening. Add a can of diced tomatoes -- the ones with jalapeno in them are a good choice. Add a small can of (drained) niblet corn. Stir and warm through. (Meat eaters can add 1/2 a pound of hamburger after the onions and before the beans, making sure to brown the hamburger and break it up small with the spatula. But this dish is perfectly filling without the meat.) Put contents of pan in a small casserole dish, add a bag-full of shredded jack or cheddar cheese over that, and top with corn muffin batter (from a box, like Jiffey's). Bake uncovered in oven, following the temperature and time instructions from the back of the box. Too easy, huh? But it's another great winter dish.

The Apprentii

Well, I've gotten over my visceral reaction to Randal's perfidy, and although it seems that there are an awful lot of people out there who agreed with initial thoughts, I have some further musings on the subject, and then I'll put it to bed.... 1. Randal's later explanation that it was like winning an Olympic gold medal fair and square and then being asked by the IOC to share it with the silver medalist goes a long way to explaining what he was thinking. I can sympathize with that. 2. African-Americans who have commented on what they perceived as racism in Trump's proposal, and in the reactions of white viewers when Randal refused to go along with it, also hit a cord. The argument that a black man has to be over-qualified to get a job, and even when he does, he's required to share the spotlight with the also-ran white person is heart-felt and not so far-fetched. 3. These two candidates were by far the best finalists in the whole Apprentice series. Rebecca was a better finalist than the ones who actually won in the prior seasons. It's a real pity that they were pitted against each other, as women and minorities often are. 4. Still, Randal's answer was a shocker to me, and I am sure I would have felt the same no matter what the race or gender of the final two, if they had the same resumes and otherwise played the game exactly the same way. 5. I am sure I would have answered differently than Randal, on the spot, with no second thoughts. But I'm a different person. 6. Here's what Randal could have said, if he'd had any time to think about it at all: "Mr. Trump, I feel like I have just won an Olympic gold medal after working my butt off to get here, and although I won it fair and square, the IOC has just asked me to share it with the silver medalist. So no, I don't want to share my gold medal. BUT if you're asking me whether the Trump Organization would benefit by also hiring the silver medalist, I would answer with an unqualified "YES."" But he had no time to formulate an answer that would both confirm his position, and make him look good and generous in the process. So Randal, while you ended up looking like the bad guy, I apologize for my hasty condemnation, and wish Trump had not put you in that position.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Altruism takes a nose-dive

I know that this isn't the most important thing happening out there in the world, but it seems to be symptomatic of everything about the state of the world that has been getting me down lately... In the finale of The Apprentice last night, Randal, all-around good guy and brilliant scholar and business-man, won the position of Apprentice to Donald Trump over Rebecca, who was a formidable candidate in her own right. It was a tough decision, and I honestly believed that Trump might actually choose both. After telling Randal that he had won, Trump asked him something that he had not asked of the winner in previous shows -- whether Randal thought that Trump should also hire Rebecca. And Randal said "No"!!!! My estimation of Randal immediately took a nosedive. I do think it was unfair to put Randal on the spot like that, especially when Trump went on to say that he was ready to be persuaded by Randal, but since Randal said no, he would go with Randal's decision. What on earth was Randal thinking? Trump's organization is plenty big enough to welcome both of them, there were two major projects put on the table for them to choose from, and they had already expressed interest in different projects (Rebecca would have chosen the giant condominium project in Jersey City, and Randal chose the renovation of the Trump's three casinos in Atlantic City). So again, WHAT WAS RANDAL THINKING?? This was his opportunity to show what a great guy he really was, and how secure he was in his own abilities to shine, and he would have had an ally for life. Instead he chose the low road. And as I suspected, the blogosphere is buzzing today with disappointment and condemnation. The latest Survivor series had a similar situation, albeit with more clear-cut and drastic consequences. Cindy won an award challenge that resulted in her winning a new car. Then she was told that if she were to give up the car, they would give the same type of car to each of four other competitors (one of whom had never owned a car). AND SHE SAID NO!! Again, WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?? She immediately alienated all of her co-competitors, and of course, at the first opportunity, they voted her off the island. She even expressed disbelief that anyone would have reacted differently. As Heather Havrilesky of Salon said, had she made the generous choice, she would have endeared herself to them (possibly winning the show in the end), she would have been feted on all the talk shows, she would have had speaking tours galore after the series, and the car company may even have given her a car anyway. As it was, she ended up with a car, but almost universal condemnation of millions of strangers (and probably not a few of her own friends and relatives). Or maybe, not. I don't know anymore. I can't believe that doing the right thing is so alien to so many people. There have been many debates about the place of altruism as an evolutionary strategy. The superficial analysis is that altruism among animals is an anomaly; that it is counter-intuitive, that it is anti-evolutionary. However, deeper analysis suggests that in groups of animals that share genes, it is a brilliant strategy to ensure that at least some of those shared genes survive and thrive. And on the individual level, it may help the individual to survive and thrive in a society that believes in rewarding altruistic behavior, and that encourages reciprocity of altruism. I find these examples of selfish behavior to be products of a society that seems to be less and less interested in working cooperatively, that seems to be less and less invested in ensuring that we all thrive, and that is increasingly working towards its own decay and destruction. And in the process, short-term gains of individuals will mean the downfall of us all.... Pessimistic, much?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Soup to stick to your bones

The snow is coming down, and it looks like it's going to be a rough winter.... Here's a great and warming soup to help you make it through: Winter Warmer Chop up and throw into a big pot any combination of the following vegetables. This is a good way to use up vegetables that are past their prime, and can be made fat-free: Potatoes Sweet potatoes Leeks Broccoli Zucchini Carrots Celery Onion Winter squash Tunip Parsnip Spinach I find that good mix of white, green and yellow vegetables works best. Be careful not to put too much of any one item, unless you want the soup to be dominated by that taste. I do not add tomatoes, red or green peppers, as they change the nature of the soup considerably. Cover vegetables with chicken stock (store bought is fine) or vegetable stock for vegetarians. Add salt, pepper, and various herbs such as parsley (dry or fresh), basil, oregano, tarragon. Don't let any one herb dominate. Bring to boil, turn down flame, and simmer with the lid cracked slightly for 2 hours or so. Stir occasionally. Being careful not to burn yourself, pass soup through a food mill into a big bowl by ladling small amounts at a time. Transfer back into the pot. Taste and adjust flavoring (especially salt). Feel free to adjust thickness with more stock or some water if you think the stock flavor is too strong. Food mills are cheap and easy to use, and puree the vegetables while not making them glutinous. Unlike a food processor, it also strains out fibers. Since they're so old-fashioned, you can sometimes find them at yard sales for a couple of bucks. At this point, I add a handful of rice and cook an additional half hour or so. Sometimes after the rice is cooked, I add a little cream or half and half, but that's a different soup. Croutons: If I have no good country/French bread for croutons, I lightly toast a few slices of sandwich bread to dry it a bit, and then cube and toss in a frying pan with a little butter. Serve soup with croutons, another hunk of good bread, and a good red wine... This soup gets better with age, so you can make it a day or two in advance, and left-overs are often better than the first time around. When it comes out of the refrigerator, it often needs a little thinning with more stock.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Best Meatloaf

I know that this is similar to the recipe on the box, but it truly makes a magnificent and super-simple meatloaf. In our house, there are only two meat-eaters, so these are the quantities I use for dinner for two, along with some leftovers for sandwiches: 1 lb hamburger 1 cup breadcrumbs 1 egg 1 of those miniature cans of V-8 (they come in 6-packs and hold 5.5 fl oz. -- it's always good to have a supply for last-minute meatloaf or to thin down spaghetti sauce or chili that's become too thick) 1/2 Lipton onion soup packet (make sure to shake first because the onion flakes tend to drift to the top of the packet) Mush together thoroughly with your hands, pat into a small greased loaf pan, and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Voila! To make a more family-size recipe, double ingredients, use a standard-size loaf pan, and bake for one hour. Left-overs: Hot: Slice and fry in a little butter (or for the cholesterol conscious, spray pan with a little olive oil). Cold: Slice and use for sandwiches (room temperature is best), using a little ketchup instead of butter or mayo, and adding a lettuce leaf and/or a tomato slice.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Mixed Messages

Check out the Fox News party invitation: 1. "Holiday Party" -- For those of you who haven't been following the "War on Christmas", various wingnuts like Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson are calling for boycotts of businesses that use "Holiday" instead of "Christmas" in their season's greetings. I expect them not only to NOT attend their own office party, but actively excoriate on air all those bigotted suits at Fox News who DARE to discriminate against Christians who work at Fox News. 2. If you are BLUE, you should be RED? What happened to "Fair and Balanced?" The Fox News official line is to deny, deny, deny that they tilt right... Did I say "tilt"? I meant ram it down our throats. 3. What's with the atomic symbols? Does Fox News know something the rest of us don't? And what would the baby Jebus think?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Brussel Sprouts for people who don't like Brussel Sprouts

Excellent recipe from my sister Betsy --- I've been doing them this way so long I forgot she was the brilliant originator:

Clean brussel sprouts by removing the outer leaves, cut an X in the bottom of the stem side (this helps them cook faster). Then boil or steam until barely tender. Drain, and slice brussel sprouts in half vertically. Melt some butter in a large frying pan, and then place brussel sprouts cut side down in one layer in the pan. Fry until the cut sides are a little brown. Make sure they're not stuck on pan. Turn down heat and pour cream (or 1/2 and 1/2) into the pan until it reaches one half to two-thirds up the sides of the sprouts. Simmer gently until the cream almost disappears. Brussel sprouts will be soft and creamy and delicious and even people who don't like them will be asking for seconds!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Corn bread muffins with a kick

Just made some vegetarian chili, and cornbread muffins to go with. Added a dollop of Thai chili sauce on the top of each muffin (just the regular boxed mix kind) before baking, and they rose up and around the sauce. Yum!

Celebrate Baby Jesus' birth the RIGHT way

Well it looks like O'Reilly reamed someone a big one for listing his tree ornaments as "Holiday" ornaments, because the site's been changed since the hypocrisy was pointed out by liberal bloggers... But what about the bigger point? From O'Reilly's Talking Points:

This Christmas madness will not stop until traditional Americans hold the anti-Christmas forces accountable. If you do that, Christmas will return to the marketplace and to the public square. If you do nothing, the Christmas tradition will diminish to be replaced by the winter holiday tradition. (emphasis added).

And the marketplace is exactly where O'Reilly thinks Christmas should be, apparently. To show your real fundy wingnut creds, you gotta get some of those "O'Reilly Factor" and "No Spin Zone" ornaments, you know. Otherwise the baby Jesus may not recognize and properly reward your family with the latest consumerist crap when his surrogate Saint Nick slides down your chimney...

Defaming the "Defamers"

I wonder if the media sites listed will sue O'Reilly for defamation....?

French Fox TV

Watched TV5 (the French cable channel) with the hubby last nite, and AARRGGH -- they reported on Murtha's speech calling for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, and repeated the trope that Murtha's resolution went down in a resounding defeat... If we can't even trust the French to fact-check Fox, what hope do we have?

Simple Sandwiches

We at Villa Beausoleil have plenty to say on the current state of the world, but first we must eat, so here are a couple of simple open-faced sandwiches for your gastronomic pleasure.... Melted Cheese Sandwich I know, too simple, but really very yum Toast two slices of bread a little before adding the toppings Add thinly sliced tomatoes and cheddar cheese Re-toast in your toaster oven until the cheese browns a little Sprinkle a few drops of hot sauce over the cheese Let cool a smidge so you don't burn the roof of your mouth Avocado and Cottage Cheese Sandwich Sounds disgusting, but wait 'til you try it Toast two slices of multi-grain bread before adding the toppings Spread with a thick layer of ripe avocado Squeeze a little fresh garlic on avocado with your garlic press Spread cottage cheese over the top Add some fresh cracked pepper Eat immediately before toast becomes soggy