Don, Amy, Emmalee, and Alexis drove all the way down from Michigan to spend the week with us in Rehoboth Beach. They arrived Sunday. Brenda was there to greet them. I arrived Tuesday evening, and Amanda and Arty joined us on Wednesday evening. The weather played along perfectly, with sun pretty much every day. Some days were crazy hot, but on the beach there was no humidity and a nice offshore breeze. We watched the Rehoboth Beach fireworks over the ocean on 7/3 (because Rehoboth does not believe in calendars, I guess), and over the Delaware Bay in Lewes on 7/4. We enjoyed a lot of great food, and I for one, had a great time! Here’s some pics – click on one of the thumbnails below and to the right of the image to run through them.
Kelsey asked for a couple recipes of the food that she was able to choke down when she lived here. First one is the Tuscan Chicken Soup. It’s pretty good, if I do say so myself. Oddly enough, I think it’s an old Weight Watchers recipe. I got it from a friend at work. He said he often makes it for guests and that they always like it. In fact, I just made it a couple days ago, and there’s a bowl or 2 left over in the fridge right now. Yum.
Tuscan Chicken Soup
- olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 Cup chopped onion
- 1 pound ground chicken
- about 3 14.5oz cans of chicken broth
- 1/2 Cup uncooked orzo
- 1 – 14.5oz can of stewed tomatoes (chop up the tomatoes, but keep the liquid and add to soup)
- 1 – 16oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas) drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp black pepper (fresh ground is best)
- 1 – 6oz package of fresh baby spinach
- shredded Parmesan cheese
- Cook garlic and onion in oil about 5 mins until tender. I ususally cook the onion for a couple minutes, then throw in the garlic Add chicken and cook about 5 more minutes and crumble the chicken as it cooks
- Add the broth and the next 6 ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer about 20 minutes until orzo is done.
- Stir in the bag o’ spinach until the spinach wilts, about 2-3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls, and top with cheese. Eat the soup.
Chili is one of those “make it up as you go along” kind of recipes. The basic recipe is a chopped onion and a few minced cloves of garlic cooked in oil until they start to soften. You can also add some chopped green pepper and/or jalapenos if you like that kind of thing.
Add about 2 pounds of ground beef and cook until it’s no longer red, breaking it up as it cooks. You can also use ground turkey, or rough chopped chuck for chili, or a combination if you want.
Then add a large 29oz can of crushed tomatoes, and four 14.5 oz cans of small red beans or kidney beans or whatever beans you like. I usually dump in a 12 oz can of V8 juice and/or a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes because it usually needs more liquid and I like tomatoes.
You need to put in about 3 tablespoons of chili powder to start, and some cumin is nice, about a tablespoon. Add some pepper, maybe a teaspoon or so. Be careful with salt. It’s easy to over-salt. I’d put in just a little, maybe a teaspoon or so, then add small amounts as it cooks if you think it needs more. Remember, you can always add a little salt, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there. Taste it as it cooks and add chili powder or whatever you think it needs more of or what would be good. It will need more chili powder. Worcestershire sauce is good in chili, as is some liquid smoke, if you like liquid smoke.
Let it simmer over low heat until the beans are the correct degree of softness and it thickens up a bit. Put in bowls and if you want, add cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, cornbread or crackers on the side, whatever. Eat the chili.
Julian and Olivia and their parents stopped by yesterday to wish Amanda a happy birthday, and to kick off St. Patrick’s Day. Amanda made some St. Patrick’s Day cookies for them, and put together goodie bags full of St. Patrick’s Day enchantment. Then we all went out to dinner in the Mosaic District. I was great seeing these guys. We’ll have to do it again soon!
Click on the first picture below to embiggen, and then click on the right to run through them.
Julian had a terrific birthday party on Saturday. Lots of his friends and all of his grandparents, and others stopped by to join in the festivities. His parents had games and many activities for the kids set up in the backyard. Happy Birthday, Julian! Click on the first picture to embiggen, and then click the right side of the pics to run through them.
Here’s a little video of Julian playing his new 3/4 size Squire guitar.
It’s supposed to be lucky to eat beans on the first of the year, or so says the “Organization of American Bean Producers.” So, we started 2016 out right with a batch of Cowboy Beans using Brenda’s Dad’s recipe. Yum!
Like any good cook, Brenda’s dad had no written recipe for this, he just made it up as he went along. It’s sweet, tangy, and bacon-y. What’s not to like?
- 5 or so slices of chopped, uncooked bacon,
- about a pound of hamburger,
- about 1/2 chopped onion,
- about 4 cans of various kinds of beans,
- about 1/2 cup ketchup,
- 3-4 tablespoons of vinegar or more (depends on how tangy you want it),
- 1/2 cup or so brown sugar,
- a tsp of mustard (powdered or prepared),
- salt, & pepper.
You can also throw in green peppers, molasses, chili powder, liquid smoke (hickory flavor), or whatever you have laying around that you think might taste good.
Cook the bacon, onion, and hamburger and drain. Throw in everything else and play around until it tastes good to you.
Today is the winter solstice here in Freedom’s Land. On the east cost, where I am, that occurs at 6:03 this evening a little while after the Lions beat the Bears. [UPDATE: 20-14 Lions!]
That means that today is the shortest day of the year and technically the days should be getting longer starting tomorrow. Yay! But don’t pull out that seed catalog quite yet, it’s still going to look pretty wintery for a while longer.
Winter Solstice occurs when the sun’s daily maximum height in the sky is at its lowest, and the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun. This results in the least number of daylight hours and the longest night of the year.
The length of a solar day varies because the axis of the Earth’s rotation is tilted – 23.5 degrees from vertical – and because its speed fluctuates as it orbits the sun, accelerating when it is closer to the star’s gravitational pull and decelerating when further away.
It takes a while for the clock and the solar days to align: evenings draw in towards their earliest sunset a couple of weeks before the shortest day, and mornings continue to get darker until a couple of weeks after.
Back in the day, Winter Solstice was called “Yule” and northern Europeans used to burn a huge Yule log to keep away the night (the original fire pit), and to celebrate the coming longer days by eating while the log was burning. That’s why Yule logs are huge – so they would burn as long as 12 days (12 days of Christmas), in order that the celebratory eating would last as long as possible. The wisdom of the ancients runs deep.
Brenda, Amanda, and I, along with four dogs spent the long Labor Day weekend at the beach. It was glorious! Saturday started out a little cloudy as you can see in the picture on the left. That’s Amanda on her bike, ready to ride to the beach. In about an hour the clouds disappeared. The water temperature was perfect. I spent more time in the water floating like a manatee in 2 days than I have during all the summer visits this year combined. Last night, Brenda and I went into Rehoboth and had dinner at Claws. It was great of course, plus I had a leftover fish breakfast this morning. Bonus!
The only downside is that Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer. Absolutely unbelievable how fast the summer went this year. Once again, I feel as though I’ve wasted the summer.
Marshall Crenshaw wrote an angry song back in the early 1970’s, called “Summer’s Over.” Some lyrics:
“I put my foot through my TV screen when I got up today…I’m mad, cause summer’s over.”
That song runs through my mind every Labor Day.
[Originally published 9/2/2013, but lost when my stupid web host accidentally cancelled my account.]
The important thing to remember about Labor Day is that the word “labor” here does not mean “work,” it means organized labor, i.e., unions. Labor Day was…well, let Professor Krugman give us a little history lesson:
It wasn’t always about the hot dogs. Originally, believe it or not, Labor Day actually had something to do with showing respect for labor.
Here’s how it happened: In 1894 Pullman workers, facing wage cuts in the wake of a financial crisis, went on strike — and Grover Cleveland deployed 12,000 soldiers to break the union. He succeeded, but using armed force to protect the interests of property was so blatant that even the Gilded Age was shocked. So Congress, in a lame attempt at appeasement, unanimously passed legislation symbolically honoring the nation’s workers.
It’s all hard to imagine now. Not the bit about financial crisis and wage cuts — that’s going on all around us. Not the bit about the state serving the interests of the wealthy — look at who got bailed out, and who didn’t, after our latter-day version of the Panic of 1893. No, what’s unimaginable now is that Congress would unanimously offer even an empty gesture of support for workers’ dignity. For the fact is that many of today’s politicians can’t even bring themselves to fake respect for ordinary working Americans….
I know that these days it’s not kewel to speak well of unions. And a lot of that of that is labor’s fault – some of them have become bureaucratic, some were taken over by organized crime for their juicy pension funds, but mostly they did not understand the relentless propaganda that the 1% would employ against them and they failed to rebut it. They assumed, incorrectly it turns out, that reasonable people would ignore the nonsense, such as “right to work”
for peanuts laws.
People forgot that their income is my spending, and my income is their spending. If I (or a bunch of us) stop spending because I’m laid off, or I lose my house, or I’m sequestered, then your income goes down too. You’re better off when we’re all better off. Even crusty old arch-conservative Henry Ford understood this. When confronted by his fellow top-hat-wearing one-percenters over the $5 a day he paid for his factory workers, he supposedly said: “I got to pay them $5 a day. If I don’t, they can’t afford to buy a Ford.”
Back in the 1950′s and 1960′s about 35% of American workers were unionized. It was not so coincidentally, the peak years of the American middle class. Union membership fell off in the 1980′s and the middle class has been dwindling along with it. The data is clear in these two charts to ruin Labor Day. Wages as a percentage of GDP (the overall economy) are at an all time low. Blame it on de-unionization, tax policy, or to a lack of investment in education, but for whatever reason, gains in productivity have not translated into higher wages.
Here’s some Labor Day music from
Irish commie union thugs the Dropkick Murphys. Happy Labor Day!
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