Monday, February 15, 2010

Dem bones

I spent the last couple days making beef demi-glace. I'm actually pretty pleased with myself. The picture below is a bunch of beef bones (got them at Super Saver, Günter). Lest you think I'm a ghoul, the red stuff on them is tomato paste. Anyway, I roasted these for a while, turning them frequently.

Then, I roasted some carrots, celery, and onion for a while. Then I put it all together, with a bottle of red wine, some rosemary, and some thyme. Simmered it for 8 hours, and strained it several times through cheesecloth.

Then simmered it about 4 more hours, straining it several times.

Then simmered it a couple more hours, after more straining.

After all that, I ended up with about 2 quarts of this intense jelly-like substance. A couple of tablespoons of it will be about the equivalent of a boullion cube, without the MSG and other chemicals.
I did this with chicken last week, so now I have a wonderful and delicious stash, which, with any luck, will result in some wonderful and delicious dishes (almost every recipe in my new Anthony Bourdain cookbook calls for it).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Political Sausage-Making

I'm so sick of politicians. Specifically, I'm sick of Republicans. I know it's stupid, but I actually listen to Sean Hannity during my five-minute drive home (it's all I can stand). I generally figure it's worthwhile to hear what "those people" are talking about. Mostly, though, they just piss me off.

Don't get me wrong, I actually know and like some Republicans. I grew up in a Republican household. I live in a Republican state. I'm a state employee, and work for a Republican administration.

What really has me going right now, though, is the constant harping about Obama. There is no amount of hard evidence that could get these nut-jobs to open their minds, even a crack. It gives credence to the notion that "If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it." I truly believe that Obama is trying to reach out to Republicans; but if an idea comes out of his mouth, they reject it out of hand. Their whole strategy is simply to "block everything." They don't seem to have any ideas of their own, nor are they willing to participate in any meaningful discussion. It seems ludicrous to me that a majority in both houses of congress can still be so completely and utterly stymied. On everything. Even just confirming Obama's appointments as agency heads, not to mention judges.

This guy is one of our local loons, but he seems to have a lot of traction. If you click on the linked article, you'll see that even our local newspaper treats him like a hero. He has an investment company (actually called a "wealth management" company); and in his ads, he says that if you decide to do business with him, he'll give you $100 towards the purchase of a firearm. Yikes.

I actually heard most of Sarah Palin's keynote speech at last week's Tea Party convention. At the end of it, the crowd started chanting, "Run, Sarah, Run!" which sort of freaked me out. Can you even imagine what the rest of the world would think of us if someone like her could actually be a serious candidate for president?

No, I take it back. I hope she does run. I hope she gets the nomination. A debate between her and Obama would definitely be entertaining, albeit kind of sad.

I also find it disturbing that the federal government doesn't have time to govern. As soon as one election is over, the campaigns for the next one begin. I say "federal government," only because it's not as much as an issue at the state or local level (at least in Nebraska). But I guess it's true that a politician never stops campaigning.

I don't know what the answer is. I just know that, if I could afford it, I'd move to New Zealand.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wild Life In the City

I posted a picture yesterday of a snowy fence. What it is is a dilapidated enclosure where my dopey next door neighbor used to keep chickens and ducks. One by one they got picked off (and Zildjian was responsible for killing one of the ducks that got into our yard). I suspect the fellow in the picture below of being the instrument of at least a couple of the others' demise. Today, this guy got stuck in the enclosure. I managed to snap this picture while Tom was putting on his boots to go over and try to free it. The good news is, he didn't have to -- it got out on his own. So, what kind of bird is it? A hawk?

Okay, after consulting with my brother and a few Web sites, we have determined that it is a Cooper's Hawk.

There's a really old cemetary about six blocks from here. It's pretty big, about 7 blocks by 10 blocks (Charlie Starkweather's buried there), and there is all sorts of wildlife living there. I have actually seen a fox and several owls. We also had a panicked deer run through our yard a few years ago. Pretty strange, considering we're just a mile or so from downtown.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winter Wonderland

We're getting a little tired of winter, but the last couple of days have been pretty beautiful. The weather couldn't decide whether to rain or snow, but when it finally decided to snow, it's that wet and heavy stuff that sticks to every horizontal surface (and it covered up the ugly, dirty leftover snow). It's also been quite warm and non-windy.

Unfortunately, there's ice underneath that pretty snow. Makes driving a little treacherous.
Tom's been working on his cabin fever by building a new coffee cup shelf. It's really cool, and will be followed one of these days by more shelves underneath to replace the hideous metal shelves that I've had since I was in college (does that make it an antique?). Gary, notice the Hal cup in the middle!

Günter and Beca gave me an Anthony Bourdain cookbook (a late Christmas present). It's a terrific read, even if I never cook anything from it. Every recipe in it has witty comments. I had grand designs on making demi glace this weekend, but couldn't get the bones I need (I ordered them, though). Guess I'll have to save my own by roasting a couple of chickens. Almost everything in this book calls for demi glace (super-concentrated stock). I guess ingredients are a lot easier to come by in New York City than in Lincoln, Nebraska.