"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Walter Mosley and Thom Hartmann -- Two of My Favorite Writers -- Together Onscreen

Two of my favorite writers, Walter Mosley and Thom Hartmann are together, online, onscreen on Thom Hartmann's RT TV Show.

On Thom Hartmann’s show, "The Big Picture" (http://rt.com/shows/big-picture/), he has a special segment called “Conversations with Great Minds.” In this segment, he converses with Walter Mosley. I do not know the exact date of this particular show other than I uploaded them in May 2011.

Love is a funny word. It can have many meanings. I love the public personas of Walter Mosley and Thom Hartmann and the depth of their delicious, curious and intelligent minds.

First, I need to say, Walter Mosley (http://www.waltermosley.com/) is the only writer I have ever read who captures the intimate chemistry between words between people -- he touches that river where trust, love, fear, and joy shimmer and change in moments, especially in his mysteries featuring Easy Rawlings.

Mosley has also written several nonfiction books like The Twelve Steps Towards Political Revelation where he analyzes America's failing political system and offers the public suggestions for how to change our failed system.

I have not read the book yet but this book is part of Thom Hartmann and Walter Mosley’s conversation.

Mosley notes that Americans are miseducated exemplified by the fact that most Americans think that their only political activity is to vote, not realizing that they should be active in politics by participating in "town halls", by educating ourselves about our government and by making our opinions known to our politicians. He suggests an online or participatory town halls.

Another perspective Mosley describes is that there is no middle class, most Americans are working class.

He states we are not citizens, we are denizens because it is money that controls our political system.

He says we are fooling ourselves, because capitalism is killing us.

As I watched these two smart, educated, intellectually curious men converse, to me, sparks flew as their ideas lit up the screen.

Mosley also wants to find a way to use our technology to create a place for public dialogue.

Thom warns that neocons would hijack an online system and make it reflect a right-wing perspective just as neocons are actively re-writing Wikipedia to reflect their propaganda and to rewrite history with misinformation.

This post is just a brief glimpse of the conversation between Mosley and Hartmann.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tuna Fish Sandwich and Homemade Croutons

I am running, screaming from the kitchen.

A “simple” tuna sandwich turned into an ordeal. I have too many recipe ideas in my head and too many tasks I have given myself.

I wanted to spice up my tuna sandwich and also make some croutons from a sack of leftover bread I had been collecting. Sounded simple.

As I was making the tuna mixture, I decided to add some green pepper. Looking in my frig for one green pepper caused an avalanche because I had so many items leftover from experimenting with other recipes, jars of  sauces and teas, bags of onions, potatoes, carrots, peppers, squash, celery and more, they all came spilling out. As I plucked the green pepper from the heap, I realized that I would have to cut up the whole pepper and freeze the remains.

I went forward cutting up the bread ends into cubes and tossing them in the skillet. I doused them with olive oil and and lots of oregano and stirred them frequently as they toasted.

As I had noted previously, Mexican tuna fish in cans is more soup than solid. So, rather than drain the oil and save it, I decided to add some croutons to soak up the oil. While I diced up the onion, green pepper and celery, the dirty dishes began to pile up. 

At first, I doubted the croutons would work but they did, they also disappeared into the tuna mixture. I ladled a few spoonfuls of the tuna mixture onto a kaiser roll and took a bite. Not bad, the oregano added a tang and I could not taste the bread per se. From about 10 bread ends, surprisingly, I only ended up with about 3/4 a small baggie of croutons.

Even though I tried to wash a few dishes as I went, the sink was still full of dirty dishes. I struggled to free a bottle of ginger ale from its plastic harness. It was so thick and tight even the scissors broke trying to cut it loose. But, soon I freed a bottle and with a glass of ice, I settled down to the tuna sandwich. Ginger ale is my favorite soda, so it made all the difference between a disaster and an eatable lunch.

But, boy, those dirty dishes are such a deterrent. I am going to rethink my budget to include a lot more eating out.

Tuna Fish Sandwich and Homemade Croutons

1 can tuna fish, drain if desired
1 heaping tablespoon mayo
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1/3 stalk of celery, diced
3 tablespoons, croutons (optional)
1 kaiser roll or bread slices
salt and pepper, season to taste.

Mix ingredients together (except kaiser roll or bread slices) in a small bowl or container with a cover.
Season to taste.
Ladle a few spoonfuls onto one half kaiser roll or slice of bread.
Top with second half of roll or slice of bread.
Cover remaining tuna mixture, store in frig.

Optional: serve on bed of lettuce instead of bread.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What to Do? (Chicken & Vegetables in Tomato Sauce)

I found this “recipe” for chicken in tomato sauce with the fewest instructions I have ever seen. The links did not lead to a fuller recipe. 

"ChooseMyPlate.gov ‏@MyPlateFast & #Easy= simmer skinless chicken breasts in tomato sauce with veggies & Italian seasonings Serve over pasta  http://ow.ly/uqpLc  "

So, into the wilderness, I went. Braving the unknown, I guessed at what the directions might have been.

Based on what I had on hand, this was my approach.

Chicken and Vegetables in Tomato Sauce


2 skinned chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
2 cups water
2 stalks celery, sliced into chunks
1 carrot, quartered in chunks
1 onion, quartered in chunks
1 potato, quartered in chunks
1 8 oz container of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons rosemary, crushed*
2 tablespoons thyme, crushed
2 tablespoons oregano, crushed
2 tablespoons Basil, crushed
salt and pepper, season to taste
1 small bag of pasta

*crush spices between your palms and sprinkle over dish


Put water into microwaveable casserole dish (with lid).
Put vegetables into dish.
Top with chicken legs.
Sprinkle spices over chicken and vegetables.
Pour tomato sauce over mixture.

Cover and microwave on high for 20 minutes.

While dish is cooking, make pasta.
When pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.
When mixture is cooked, spoon one serving of pasta onto a plate
Place one chicken leg on top of pasta.
Spoon vegetables and tomato sauce over chicken and pasta.
Use a fork to remove chicken meat from bone.

I divided the remaining mixture (after pulling chicken off the bones) into four containers and put three into the freezer.

I think I reached the "summit", let's raise the flag or a cup of tea to success.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Welsh Rabbit or Rarebit with Ginger Ale

I call this dish a “romantic” dish. For some reason, I associate Welsh Rarebit with history, mystery and romance. For example, in the TV adaptation of Agatha Christie’s the Tommy and Tuppence mystery, “Finessing the King”, the couple goes to a cafe to get a late night snack. One of the menu choices is Welsh Rarebit which they order.

I think this is an illustration of how television shows and novels affect us.

I like the taste of my Welsh Rarebit but I had to make several variations and substitutions based on what I had on hand.

Most Welsh Rarebit recipes call for butter and beer, I used olive oil and ginger ale.

Also, I was low on milk, so I had to make 2 cups of milk from a dry powder mix.

Then, I had to microwave frozen bread slices for 15 seconds before toasting in a skillet.

Welsh Rabbit or Rarebit with Ginger Ale

2 slices of bread
a dollop of olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons cup flour
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon mustard, wet
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup ginger ale
2 cups white cheese, sliced and diced
pepper to taste

Add a dollop of olive oil to skillet.
Add slices of bread.
Heat bread until toasted.
Flip and toast other side.
Set aside.

Add olive oil to skillet.
Add flour and seasonings.
Add Worcestershire, milk and ginger ale.
Cook on medium.
Stir until mixture is melted and combined.
Continue to stir and smash flour lumps for several minutes to make a smooth mixture.
Spread spoonfuls over toast.


I used a multi-grain bread. I think it added to the flavor.

The consistency of the hot mixture would also make a good fondue.

After reheating the mixture to make another snack, the mixture had thickened which I liked.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stone Cold Sober Mocktail

I like cranberry juice, so I wanted a Mocktail with mostly cranberry juice.

When I say cranberry juice, I mean the kind that comes out of a bottle or package, not homemade.

So, I took a cocktail recipe and made a mocktail variation but the differences between the two drinks are so dramatic, I would say the original merely pointed me in the direction of cranberry juice with a few ideas for flavorings.

I liked the end result. It was a bit tart without a sweet overtone. I am developing my own mocktail taste descriptions. As someone with a chicken and beer palate, the idea of a taste vocabulary is amusing.

Look at the Stone Cold Sober Mocktail.

Ignore the sandwich, it's fried SPAM with sliced vegetables and a cream cheese spread. It's ok but it still needs tweaking.

OMG It's Almost Chicken Soup

My refrigerator has been acting funny. The freezer wasn’t freezing but the inside shelves were -- so I had frozen cucumbers, tomatoes and onions and frozen juices etc.

After setting adjustments and a few salvage attempts, I decided to see if the frozen cucumber would work in soup along with some other leftovers.

I had no clue as to whether it would turn out.

I added enough water to a pan to cover the bag of pasta with about 2 more inches.

Then, I added leftover chicken broth and 1/2 a vegetable bouillon.

Then I sliced up the previous frozen cucumber, carrot, and onion.

Decide to try the spice Thyme. So, I crushed about a half a teaspoon of thyme between my palms and added it to the soup mix.

Added about 5 peppercorns.

I battled with the electric stove top for about 2o minutes looking for simmer but getting either a rapid boil or vaguely warm. Eventually, settled on a slow boil.

But, as time when on, the pasta sucked up most of the water, so I eventually added about 6 more cups of water because I really wanted a soup.

At 11:00 I got a simmer.

At 12:00 I tried soup.

While it tasted good, the noodles were getting soft and still very little soup. I could have added more Thyme and peppercorns. So now I have this huge batch of almost soup with soggy noodles. The frozen cucumbers worked well. Let’s see how this freezes and how it tastes when reheated and tweaked.

What I wanted was a soup that I could use for leftovers. This one will work, I just have to adjust two cooking times. First, one for the vegetables to soften them; two, for the pasta, add in the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Eons ago, in the distant past, when I made a soup, I thought I cooked it for over an hour. Hmm, sounds like I need to do more research.

Lessons Learned:

Add noodles 10 minutes before soup is done cooking.
Add more Thyme and peppercorns.
Don’t need to cook soup for an hour.
Fell in love with peppercorns and Thyme.

Chicken (flavored) with Leftovers Soup

1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
1/2 Bouillon cube, vegetable
1 cucumber sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 small bag pasta
1 teaspoon thyme
10-15 black peppercorns

Add about 8 cups of water to a large pan.
Add broth and bouillon cube.
Add sliced vegetables.
Add spices and stir.
Cook for about 10 minutes on medium-high on simmer to soften vegetables.
Add pasta.
Cook on high for another 10 minutes.
Check water level, add more water if necessary.

Note: add more vegetables if desired.

Will need to retest this recipe in a few months. I have enough soup to last quite a while.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Here Are Recipes I Will Never Make Part 1

Since I am not a real cook, I can not "invent" a recipe, so I research recipes to find ones I feel I can afford and attempt.

I do enjoy researching various recipes and love finding unusual recipes.

But, there are some recipes I will never attempt. These are just two of them.

I came across these recipes in an article by Maria Popova on Brainpickings.org.

George Orwell’s Dessert Recipes
(From: George Orwell’s Recipes by Maria Popova at http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/01/31/george-orwell-recipes/)

In George Orwell Diaries, he wrote down recipes by Mrs. Searle)

Mrs. Searle’s Fruit Loaf Recipe

1 lb flour
1 egg
4 oz. treacle
4 oz. mixed fruit (or currants)
8 oz. sugar
6 oz. margarine or lard

Cream the sugar and margarine.
Beat the egg and add it.
Add the treacle and then the flour.
Put in greased tins and bake about 1/2 to 3/4 hour in a moderate oven.

Mrs. Searle’s Sponge Cake

5 oz. flour
4 oz. sugar
3 oz. grease (butter best)
 2 eggs
1 teaspoonful baking powder.
Mix as above and bake.

Tomato, Basil, Bean and Pasta Salad

Yeah, another success!  Thanks to the USDA SNAP-Ed Connection Program Recipe Finder.

I was leery about using all the pasta because I had just ruined a whole batch of pasta by tweaking a recipe, so I did not want a repeat performance and waste all the pasta. But, I like pasta with olive oil and basil, so I ended up with two dishes.

Not sure why, but my vinaigrette was too vinegary, so I added more olive oil.

Tomato, Basil and Bean Pasta Salad
(Adapted from USDA SNAP-Ed Connection Recipe http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/recipes/tomato-basil-and-bean-pasta-salad)


1 small pkg of pasta
Olive oil
Basil, season to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup apple vinegar
2 teaspoons mustard, wet
pepper, season to taste

Added Ingredients
1-3 tomatoes, sliced and cut in half
1-3 tablespoons beans, kidney, or garbanzo or black beans (cooked dry beans, or canned, drained)

Canned Parmesan cheese, season to taste.


Cook pasta according to package directions.
After straining pasta and placing in a large bowl, add about 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Add more oil if necessary.
Add crushed Basil, season to taste.
Stir thoroughly to mix.
Set aside.

In small jar, mix oil, vinegar, mustard and pepper to make a dressing.
Stir well.
Cover and shake.
Set aside.

Single Serving
In a single serving bowl, add enough pasta to make a layer on bottom of bowl.
Add tomatoes.
Add beans.
Pour a little of vinaigrette over mixture and toss together.
Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
When serving, add toppings.

Store leftover pasta, vinaigrette and added ingredients in separate covered containers and refrigerate for later use.


Make a larger portion of recipe by combining all of pasta with additional added ingredients and all of vinaigrette. When serving, add toppings.

Other added ingredients can be: other fresh chopped vegetables such as cucumbers, peppers, small summer squash, carrots, broccoli or cauliflower.

Use your favorite salad dressing instead of making your own.

Use cooked rice or cooked, cut up potatoes in place of pasta.

Optional toppings: chopped walnuts and shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese.

While this recipe appears complicated, it is fairly easy. Just make the pasta. Make the vinaigrette. Gather the additional ingredients and make a single serving or multiple servings.