Thursday, August 31, 2006

Freeway blogger!

I have been reading about this guy for a few years now. Check out his blog! He gives you ideas as to how you can help Impeach George Bush in the Streets!
Someone's got to do it! Why not us? I'll put up signs here in France!
Here's his address!
Since I'm obviously too retarded to figure out how to make this link active in the post, check out the sidebar where I've conveniently placed a link for your viewing pleasure!

Mike posted an article today about the constant growing desparate drumbeat of the administration for a war with Iran. He says that peace begins with an idea and like dropping a pebble into a pond, it's waves spread if enough people believe!
Naive? Sure! But I've always been a believer, so I'm spreading his chant here!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

and another thing!

Why have I been subjected to Donald Rumsfelds highly berserkoid speech to a senile crowd at a VFW Convention at least 4 times in the last 24 hours? He totally crosses the line and proves that he exists in another reality as he compares anyone who questions the war in Iraq to NAZI SYMPATHIZERS! I hope that this display backfires and exposes him as the totally incompetent psycopath he is! Maybe he has hired Ann Coulter as a speechwriter. How many times did he use the word "Fascist" in his speech? Anyone counting? I don't watch TV all the time so I might have misssed a few repeats of him...this was on CNN International!
Time to take off the gloves!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Everything but the NEWS!

Where do you get your news from? Obviously if you are reading this, you are someone with curiosity and enough intelligence to look beyond the glare of your television screen or the mindless droning anger of talk radio. I watch a lot of news from a lot of sources with a critical eye. I watch CNN, BBC, SKY, CNBC, SAHAR2, Al Jahzeera and the French network news. On SKY, we see the CBS Nightly news at about 1:30am. The Nightly News on NBC comes on at 12:30. Of all the news we watch, the American Newscasts are usually 85% fluff! The big stories are ignored, very pitiful sacharine coverage of the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon. Iraq has disappeared into a few furtive seconds of brief mentions of violence. We have been treated to a non stop barrage of sensationalistic non news about John Mark Karr and the Jon Benet case or the Austrian girl who was kidnapped for 10 years. Hours after she was found, there were experts going on and on analyzing her mental state and speculating endlessly on what had occurred. The rest of the news is in depth special reports on the latest prescription drug side effects scandal or some touchy feely America cares moment. Have a nice day.......
There is no in depth reportage about anything real. The administration usually has their speeches reported on and any statement is reported as fact and rarely questioned.
Then there is the proliferation of hate stuff, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Beck, Savage....the list goes on and on. Misinformation that is pure entertainment, there is a very real lucrative market in spreading hate and pure propaganda misinformation. They have created a market which fuels itself, the proof is the phenomena of Ann Coulter, who is a one woman industry who has to constantly try to push the limit, go further with her outrageousness to feed this frenzy.
This seems to be a very American Phenomena. It exists on a smaller scale in Europe, but the news media here in France is very aware of its role. Political Fairness is legislated. All side recieve equal time and given a chance to respond. This is kept track of and tallied.
Political discussions are broadcast in Primetime and can last for one and a half hours.
They are usually the highest rated shows in the time slot.
The results? A highly literate, knowlegable and opinionated public. A wide spectrum of political parties from the very far right to the very far left.
There is no paid political advertising here.
Where do you get your news from? How can you hold the networks accountable for the information and mis information they convey? Why is extreme hate so popular on the airwaves in America? MediaMatters is an organization which tried to hold media accountable for its irresposiblity. Any Ideas?

Friday, August 25, 2006

les figues

Until I owned a fig tree and now I have two, I never ate a raw fresh fig. They were only something exotic in a fruit market or a strange seedy paste in a "newton". Now each year, I am challenged with the reality of TOO MANY FIGS!!!! The bird, wasps and hornets love them so I hang wasp traps on the tree and cover it with netting for the birds. Everyone gets some though in spite of all I do. I love them and eat them off the tree as I pick them...a fig won't wait, thtat's why they are so expensive in the market. They don't keep or travel well.
We make fig confiture continuously, basically a kilo of figs cut into quarters macerated overnite with 800 grams of sugar and lemons. The next day, bring it to a boil, take out the lemons and put in sterilized jars.
You can take the figs and cut them in the center and open them out to a star shape and place a piece of goat cheese in the center, pop them under the broiler until the cheese melts a little and gets some color and Voila! a perfect first course salad on some lettuce dressed with a tart vinagrette!
Then you can get serious, get a few nice slices of raw foie gras, duck or goose, but goose hold up better. Sear the slices fast in a hot skillet.
Meanwhile in another pan, take some figs that have been opened into stars, put them into a little hot olive oil and quickly saute them with a little lemon juice and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Each slice of seared foie gras gets a fig and the dark sweet juicy syrup in the pan poured around it. Encroyable!
I am giving you the Foie Gras recipe in protest to the fact that the City of Chicago has banned it from restaurants. Why? Because Americans are appalled by the accounts of the mistreatment of Ducks and Geese in the production.
Reality check: Most Foie Gras is produced by small businesses. Here in France it is a small time farm industry. The French are obsessed by the quality of food and would not accept an inferior product, hence the treatment of the ducks and geese has nothing to do with the poultry industry in the USA. The animals are for the most part of their life free range and fed the best food. During the last montth of their lives, they are penned and force fed, but again, the horrifiic propaganda you are fed has nothing to do with reality. The animals are kept calm and really get excited at feeding time. In case you were'nt aware, they have no gag reflex. The techniquue of force feeding is the same that adult birds use to feed the chicks.
I get crazy when I read the rants of those so outraged at the cruel inhuman French abusing the poor geese and ducks. They would be doing themselves and America a real service if they concentrated their anger on the American livestock industry and the conditions and methods used to make sure you have your chicken mcnuggets on demand.
I really believe that Americans have real issues with food in general. To me, this disassociation between the food on your table and where it comes from is something I call "The Bambi-ation" of dinner!
To argue that banning foie gras is good because it is an unhealthy luxury product is pretty lame. First, it is fatty, but it is waterfowl fat which is totally different than chicken fat. The fat is an Omega 3 fat which is a "good fat" like fish oil. Here in the Dordogne, refined Duck fat is used instead of lard and butterr in cooking . The results? This part of France has the lowest rate of heart disease in Europe!
Of course the more common sense answer is, who ever has enough foie gras to abuse?
I eat it a few times a year and if you don't want it, too bad for you and all the more for me!!!!!!


Last night I was listening to Radio Plaisance, 102.3fm from Perigueux! A great eclectic station with great new music programs. I hear a lot of stuff I would never hear anywhere else. They also have programming in Occitan, the pre French country patois still spoken here. Sort of a mix of crude Latin and Celt. I was drifting off to sleep when suddenly,my eyes shot open and I was wide awake as "7+7is" by the band Love came on the air. That is one of the songs that have gotten so deep into my brain that I cannot responsibly drive a car and listen to it at the same time! We all have pieces of music that are so totally of a moment to us and are so perfect that they take over when they are played!
If I had to make a list of the 3 songs that do it to me, I would be hard pressed. But here goes.....
Shotgun by Jr.Walker and the Allstars!
7 and 7 is by Love
Flashlight by Parliiament/Funkadelic
That is the shortlist!
There are so many more Institutionalized by Social Distortion!
Trouble Comin' Everday by the Mothers of Invention
Subterrenean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan........
Almost any of Little Richards singles!
You know how it is, but I stand by my short list. How about you? Give me your short list and we'll rate it!
Arthur Lee, Rest in Peace! A true American visionary genius. A black man who was too hip for a white world. Check out those early Love albums, Love, DaCapo, Forever Changes!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

real numbers

Some real numbers to consider.
Since the cease fire in Lebanon, at least 3 children have been killed by unexploded Israeli bombs every day. Many of the bombs have been illegal cluster bombs. The Israelis used the biggest, deadliest ordinance thay could get their hands on against a civilian population.
As of Today, the war in Iraq has lasted 7 days longer than Word War 2 in Europe.
As of Today 2608 American Soldiers have died in Iraq.
Since the Israelis started the present round of actions in Palestine, over 200 civilians have been killed and more than 1000 have been injured and maimed.
68 Palestinian officials and 8 government ministers have been kidnapped.
1% of the population in Great Britain believe that they are safer because of the "War On Terror".
Does any of this add up to anything?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

get a load of them tomatoes!

Okay, so here is my first attempt to publish a picture on this blog! These are just a few of the alleged tomatoes I have raved about in the last two posts! Pretty nice, eh?
Very sunny here now, but it's rained off and on all day. This morning we went to a Vide Grenier in Naihlac...a very nice little village near here in a valley.. It was the Fete de la Noix! Walnut festival! That is one of the main cash crops in this region. There are walnut trees everywhere. I make Vin de aperatif using red wine, sugar, fruit alcohol and either liittle green walnuts or the new walnut leaves in the spring.
The recipe...? sure, it's simple. Pick a lot of little green walnuts about the 21st of June and pierce them with a needle. Put them in a liter of Eau de vie or fruit alcohol and let them sit for a month at least. The alcohol turns black. Then I get 5 liters of good cheap red wine, like Corbieres, but a cheap Bergerac would do. I mix the wine with one kilo of sugar and the liter of walnut infused eau de vie. Mix it well and bottle it up and let it set for at least a month before drinking. It gets better with time.. I have bottles that are 4 years old in the cave. In America, I suppose I would use any dry red wine that wasn't too expensive.
I make a version using sweet white dessert wine, such as a Monbazillac, but you can't get that in America cheaply, I'm sure! You use half the sugar and I would use the early walnut leaves in the spring instead of the nuts as they are more fragrant.
The technique, though is exactly the same....a votre sante!
At the Vide Grenier...Literally "Empty your attic"...a used goods sale, I bought a Limoge box for 5 Euros, an English Royal Dalton January Teacup and Saucer for my wife for 4 Euros. 6 old paperbacks by George Simenon for 2,50 Euros and a realy terrible paperback from the 30's called le Decaptite Vivant! A collection of tawdry horror stories, the title story is about a living human head grafted on an apes body...should be pretty trashy, but lots of fun!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Ancho Chile Sauce

The tomatoes are coming fast and furious. I get up, get some exercise, play with the dog...then look at the (shudder) garden!
Still a few handfulls of strawberries everyday. Pick peppers, eggplants, weed, zuchinnis, check the potato plants for bugs, dig up a fennel bulb if we are going to have it....plan to have corn soon!...actually this will be another post...fresh corn tamales served with ancho chile sauce.....
Then I look at the tomatoes. We planted 14 big red tomato plants and we like little cherry tomatoes. Last year we had a very sweet yellow/orange variety, so we started a few plants...little did we know that even though I plowed the garden in the spring, thousands of yellow cherry tomato seeds were lurking, ready to sprout! If you like them, stop by and I'll give you a few pounds!
But, we have to deal with the tomatoes. Big red sweet meaty tomatoes and lots of them. Janet makes sauce with fresh basil and freezes it. Today, I made a lot of the Ancho Chile Sauce, most of which I froze, but I sauted chicken thighs, then baked them covered with this sauce. I will take the meat off the bones and make enchiladas tomorrow night with the sauce. Here in France, I have found the perfect substitute yellow cheese for Mexican cuisine, a Dutch variety called Mimolette. This sauce uses Anchos, which are dried Poblano peppers. I buy bags of them when I am in New York each year.
This is a recipe for about 3 cups....I made much more today!
Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. When it is hot but not smoking, asdd the chiles (3 nice big ones). Fry until puffed and beginning to brown. Put the chiles in a bowl and add 3/4 cups of boiling water. let them soak about 20 minutes.
Take one big red ripe tomato and put it in in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes. Drain it and put it into a blender. Add the soaked chiles and the water they have soaked in, one small onion and a peeled clove of garlic you have browned in a frying pan, 1/4 each of teaspoon of cumin, oregano, cinnamon, ground coriander. Puree until smooth.
In a fying pan, heat another 2 tablespoons of oil and pour in the puree and fry. Stir until it is thickened...about 10 minutes.
Put it in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, add 2 cups of chicken broth and salt to taste. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
This is a great basic cooking sauce for a lot of Mexican dishes. The perfect sauce for enchiladas or the fresh corn tamales that I plan to make next week!
Tonight, for dinner, we had a fresh tomato mustard was so beautiful, but that is another story!

Friday, August 18, 2006

the best salsa

This blog is about food among other things. I have a huge vegetable garden, un potager. We grow most of the vegetables we eat in the summer and try to save as much as we can for the winter! We were eating last years potatoes until this June! It helps to have a nice freezer. I have been growing raspberries and strawberries for a few years now and had the largest harvest yet this year. I have read a lot about pruning and cultivation of the raspberry plants and expect to have at least three times as much next year! J'adore les framboise!
We have too many tomatoes all at once and it is a challenge not to waste any! I love Mexican food and have to bring back the dried chiliies from the USA when I make my visits, but last year, I started to grow jalepenos. If I start the seeds in a little hotbox, they are going good by thte time to plant outside arrives in June. I chop and freeze a lot so I can have them all winter, but the frexsh ones mean that we can have guacamole and salsa all summer long.
Usually I make a fresh Pico de Gallo...tomato, onion, fresh coriander, jalepenos and lemon juice...a dash of salt.....
But, then sometimes I make Salsa Roja, more like the stuff you find on the table in a Mexican restaurant, plus, it freezes well.
It is a little more trouble, but worth it!
The basic technique:
2 big ripe tomatoes....pan roast them in a frying pan until they are blackend....chop them roughly.
1 nice onion cut into 3/4 inch slices and pan roasted until they are browned...chop them roughly.
3 unpeeled garliic cloves pan roasted, when they are cooled, peel them and chop them.
3 nice fresh jalepeno peppers, again pan roasted and blackened and blistered. Don't seed them. Chop them up and mix all the ingredients.
About a Tablespoon of Oregano
At least a teaspoon of ground cumin
(If you can get fresh Mexican Oregano, all the better, you can heat it in the pan before adding it, it has a different taste. If you have cumin seed, you can roast them and freshly grind them for a definitely better flavor, if not, well it doesn't matter)
The taste it and and add salt. If you are using store bought industrial tomatoes, youmight want to add a dash of sugar.
The amounts of ingredients can vary, but after you fix it a few times, you will agree that this is the best salsa and if you freeze it, you can have it in the dead of winter and remember how great your garden was last year!!!!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

watching everything.....

My wife is a news junkie and I am her dealer....We live in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a country road surrounded by cows and trees and hills....My neighbors are all French speaking profound country type folks. Five years ago, I decided to install a satellite dish with an old analogue satellite receiver. Great! Suddenly we could get BBC World and some Arab and German stations with English language news. Of course, I was on the internet, reading the NY Times, LA Times as well as The Toledo Blade and Detroit Papers. I was just discovering all the alternative news services available on the Web!
Then, I upgraded the satellite system and got a digital decoder and a motorized dish. This was a trip to purgatory for me as I am no techie by a long shot. But somehow, I got the thing aimed and started to program in satellites and now we get CNBC, CNN, SKY, SAHRA2, BBC World as well as BBC1, 2 and 3, Al Jahzeerah, lots of Arab stations, lots of German stations, Euro News as well as all the major French channels. A regular smorgasbord of information.
We see Meet The Press and McGlaughlin Group on Sundays...I usually leave the house when Meet the Press comes on because my wife starts to foam at the mouth and yell at the screen. It's pretty interesting to compare the coverage between what is seen in the rest of the world with the American Media...luckily, I don't get FOX! I would have to pay for it and I don't think I have the stomach for it.
I love the discussions and in depth reportage on the French Channels. I think that is a real problem with American's geared to have minimal impact, then move on to something else, as if there is a plot to keep Americans uninformed and thinking about the newest pointless health scare instead of the real issues. When a French Politician appears on the news for an interview, it is tough and embarrassing questions are always asked, there is no pussy footing compared to the cake walk that Tim Russert usually gives his honored guests. I have repeatedly come away angry because he will ask a "tough" question and he will get a ridiculous answer and let it stand with out challenging it.
Well, in the recent coverage of the Israeli Invasion and destruction of Lebanon, the best western media coverage, hands down was SKY NEWS. Believe it or not! I was surprised! Relatively unbiased gutsy on the ground reportage form the heatt of the action! I saw nothing like it on any other netwok and most of the reporters were SKY personnel! It took real guts and Isay Congratulations to SKY for a job well done!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Last night......

So last night around 11:30, I took my dog, J Edgar out for a walk on the lane. It was an incredibly clear night and I saw the milky way and as stood in awe, I became aware that there were meteors every few seconds. One was quite spectacular, lasting a few seconds and making an orange purplish trail! It was incredibly silent and as we walked, I looked across the valley and saw a brilliant glare at the tree line. This was very unusual and I thought perhaps there was a fire. As I walked to see if I could see more, the glare became more brilliant. I started to go back to the house to get binoculars because if it was a fire, it could become a disaster fast!
Then as I walked back, the fire began to separate from the hilltop and I realized I was looking at the crescent moon low on the horizon rising in brilliance. What a beautiful planet we live on.

A Few Moments to Celebrate!

I just watched a televison news broadcast of Beirut celebrating the cease fire with Israel! My heart goes out to those brave people and how they have suffered. They are flowing back into Southern Lebanon, to their ruined cities and destroyed homes. Perhaps that's the best way to insure that Israel doesn't start anything soon! A country full of people working with the rest of the world to put it back together.
I'm sure that in the days ahead, the real damage inflicted on Lebanon will be come more apparent and it will be the real news story that eclipses everything else. The Media will be hypnotized by the real survivor drama that has been enacted there. There will be an outpouring of sympathty and support for the Lebanese people from all of the caring people on the planet.
The other story will be the fallout for Israel...reality will set in and they will see what they have wrought and it will destroy the Olmert government. They are already blaming the USA in the Jerusalem press for goading Olmert into into the war in the first place. This was the gravest tactical error Israel ever made and only one in a continuing series of insanely blundered foreign policy by the Bush Administration.
You know, Bush has a real opportunity now to do something that might give him the "legacy" he so desires. He could actually start talking to Syria and Iran and all the parties involved in the mideast nightmare, but he won't. Another tragically blundered and wasted opportunity to do something positive!