24 April 2005

"Separation" of Church and State

I wonder if Senator Bill Frist has actually ever read the Constitution. I'm inclined to think that he has not. In any case, the image below accompanied another brilliant piece by Frank Rich (and I'm not just saying that because he wrote me back when I wrote to compliment his work) in today's NYTimes. To access the article you need to register, but it's free and as long as Mr. Rich is there, worth it.

church and state
Barry Blitt, Courtesy of the The New York Times

15 April 2005

In defense of my AMAZING culinary skills. . .

Wael, your memory is indeed faulty. CANNED lima beans?? First of all, I'm a southerner, and my grandmother would roll over in her grave if I did such a thing, though I will own up to Ranch dressing all over steamed broccoli. Steamed rice for sure, you gave me the steamer. Wonderful gift. One of many wonderful gifts as a matter of fact. The gifts that keep on giving. . .

But honestly, I ate out a lot in San Francisco. WE ate out a lot in San Francisco, Wael. My inner cook, which thrived in Austin, retreated a bit in SF, and was in FULL effect in Scotland. Which brings me to a story about a guy I used to work with. Last summer I waited tables in the restaurant in a 4-star hotel in Stirling. Great food came out of that kitchen to be sure. Horrors were to be encountered in the staff canteen, however. One night, while having my dinner in the canteen, the food and beverage manager for the hotel came in to have his dinner, too. Cool guy, we always had great conversations. In any case, on this particular evening he came in with 2 bags of crisps (that's potato chips for the Amis out there). He then took two slices of white bread, smeared butter all over them, and then placed the crisps on one piece of bread. He then covered that with the other piece of bread, creating a white-bread crisp sandwich, which he washed down with a Strawberry soda, while I looked on horrified. I told him it would be quicker to just shoot himself, which he found hilarious. And it's not like this guy doesn't know food. Whatever.

Finally Wael, the kitchen in my Post Street pad wasn't THAT tiny.


Coming soon: Bayern M√ľnchen 3 : 2 Chelsea

10 April 2005

Just Say NO...Please

Listen, I'm no technophobe, but I'm stressed enough flying these days without having to listen to EVERYONE around me chattering away on their bloody cell phones. To that end, I have made the FCC aware of my feelings by submitting my comments on their website. According to Information Week, the majority of air travelers DO NOT support in-flight cell phone usage, but just to be on the safe side, I would encourage those of you who feel the same to let the FCC know before their May 26 deadline.

Now I realise that giving you the web address means that those of you who would like to be able to hear all kinds of inane conversations taking place around you, while you're jammed in that uncomfortable seat, peeping the guy across the aisle who's on his fourth gin and tonic and becoming loud and aggressive, will also want to comment. I can't stop you from using the link, but I'll stop speaking to you for a while if you do...

Martin Luther King dot Org

Last Monday, April 4 to be exact, I wanted to post something about it being the anniversary of the day Dr. King was assassinated, as I did for Malcolm X on February 21. I wanted to find a photo to post that wasn't too common, perhaps a childhood photo like the one I found for Malcolm X. In any case, I typed "Martin Luther King" into Google, and the third site on the list of thousands of sites featuring Martin Luther King, was www.martinlutherking.org.

Well I figured this had to be a good one, it ranked above the King Center (which I nevertheless tried first, but which took too long to open). Before you click on the link to check it out for yourselves, however, let me save you the trouble. The site is connected to Storm Front, the hate group. But I didn't know that. When I opened the site, there was a nice portrait of Dr. King, along with a banner inviting school children to take a quiz on Dr. King's life. To the right of his portrait were several categories about his life, which you could click on for further information, including information about sermons, etc. To the left of his portrait, however, was an alleged quote from Time Magazine, which included reference to Dr. King's taped extra-marital sexual activities.

As they say in Scotland, I had trouble getting my head around that.

I simply couldn't understand how the quiz for schoolkids, the sermons, and the quote from Time were related. So I scrolled down the page and saw a link about repealing the King Holiday, and then I was really confused. But because I'm a bit thick sometimes, I was still trying to put all of this in the context of a site owned by some King supporters and archivists. Okay, so I'm REALLY thick. Whatever. I kept scrolling and ended up at the bottom of the page where there was a link to a forum to discuss Dr. King; the forum was hosted by Storm Front. Needless to say I wasn't in the mood for doing the post after that.

So there you have it. A racist hate group owns MartinLutherKing.org.

And the only publishable thing I can think to say to that is, I hope that the Black Panthers own KKK.org...

07 April 2005

Lemon and Saffron Risotto

Rumor has it that single people don't cook. Further to that, it is offered as fact that women don't like cooking unless they're cooking for a partner. Don't believe it. I love to cook, and there's no one in the house except me. This doesn't mean, however, that I don't like cooking for others. I do, but I also LOVE taking care of myself.

So here, for your consideration, is one of my favourite recipes. It's inexpensive and tastes wonderful. I usually serve it with steamed sugar snap peas, but I can't find any here, so I've substituted a Feldsalat. The key to this recipe is the vegetable stock. If you don't have time to make your own stock, buy a low-sodium version. Otherwise it will be too salty. I usually make my own vegtable stock (the recipe is also below) and freeze it in 1-litre containers. The recipes are taken from Zest, a fabulous cookbook by Michele Cranston. What I love about the book is that the recipes are arranged by flavours: savour, tang, seasoned, piquant, zesty, aromatic, fragant, and ambrosial. Yum! Well, that and the fact that there's a photo of each dish, so you have some idea of whether or not your creation is anywhere close to what was intended.

In any case, if you try it I'm sure you'll love it (just check out the photos below). Or should you find yourself in Berlin, I'll be happy to make it for you!


Lemon and saffron risotto

1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock (recipe below)
50 g (1 3/4 oz) butter
1 onion, finely diced
15 saffron threads
275 g (1 1/4 cups) arborio risotto rice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
80 g (2 3/4 oz) grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the stock in a large saucepan over a high heat. When it is almost boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and saffron and cook until the onion is soft and transparent. Add the rice and stir until the grains are glossy and well coated in the buttery saffron. Add 250 ml (1 cup) of hot stock and stir until it is absorbed. Continue to add the stock until it is all absorbed and the rice is tender. Add the lemon juice and Parmesan to the risotto and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon into warm bowls.


Vegetable Stock

2 onions, roughly chopped
2 leeks, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 parsnips, sliced
150 g (1 bunch) flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 garlic cloves
6 peppercorns
4 sprigs thyme

Heat a large saucepan over high heat and add the onions, leeks and olive oil.

Stir until the onions begin to soften, then add the carrots, celery, parsnips and 3 litres (12 cups) of cold water. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmering heat. Continue to simmer for 3 hours. Remove from the heat and strain into a large bowl. Using the back of a large spoon, press the vegetables into the strainer to draw out most of the flavour.

Before
before


After
after

05 April 2005

Did I say Carolina by 3?

Okay, so I was off by two points. Man oh man, how sweet it is, as Jackie Gleason used to say. No, he didn't say the "man oh man" bit, I said that. He said the "How sweet it is" bit. IN ANY CASE, I woke up this morning almost frightened to log on and check the score. But there it was. A CAROLINA VICTORY. And my prediction wasn't bad, either.

The last time we won the National Championship I was living in San Francisco, and was lucky enough to have friends who were from North Carolina and who hosted a party the night of the finals. We put money into a pot which allowed us to bet on the sum of the final score. I don't remember anymore what my individual scores were, but my sum won and I got the pot. Eighty bucks I think. And a Carolina victory. That was truly sweet.

Last night I couldn't find my T-shirt from that 1993 victory, but I did go to sleep in my Carolina Alumni sweatshirt. Actually I only just realised that it was my Carolina sweatshirt. I wore it to bed because it's a bit chilly in my apartment and since it's April, they've already turned off the heat. That said, I'm sure that on a sub-conscious level I knew what I was wearing because it could just as well have been my Pink Panther sweatshirt, but it wasn't.

Okay. And to my brother who was at the game, I sincerely hope my NEW shirt is in the post...

Once again the photos are courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.

sean

dunk

overhead

sean dunk

felton

number 1

Coming Soon: How I tried to get photos of Martin Luther King, but ended up with hate material from Storm Front instead.

03 April 2005

Carolina by 3 over Illinois

Although the world (at least according to me) doesn't make a lot of sense these days, college basketball still does. Of course that's because I'm a Carolina alum whose nerves have been stretched to the limits during the NCAA tournament. Compounding my misery is the fact that no one I know in Berlin cares about college basketball, though I've spotted a few hip hoppers wearing Carolina baseball caps. I asked one kid about it and he said that his friend got it for him when he was in the States, that he didn't know anything about the University or the teams, but that the light blue really matched his eyes.

Okay, whatever. We've made it to the finals and that means I will spend Monday night tossing and turning (much like I did on the night of the presidential election when BBC Radio led me to believe that Kerry had a chance before I drifted off to sleep).

Like I said, whatever.

My brother John, who is a basketball coach at Texas Southern University, is at the Final Four and you'd think he'd get his big sister a T-shirt or something. Particularly as I introduced him to Carolina players when I was a student and he was a little kid. We'll see..

In any case, it promises to be a great matchup and I guess I'll have to be content with the excellent coverage from the LA Times, which is where I swiped the photos.

Go Heels!!!

Carolina's Sean May
Carolina's SEAN MAY

Illinois' Luther Head
Illinois' LUTHER HEAD

01 April 2005

A van Gogh Christmas...

I had just moved to Berlin and into my new apartment. No furniture, no TV (still no TV as a matter of fact), no internet. My boxes had arrived from Scotland on December 23, so I did have music. There's so much I could say about time between Christmas and New Year's, but I won't. The pictures speak for themselves. In retrospect, however, I think this probably looks more pathetic than it actually was...

jigsaw1

jigsaw2

jigsaw3

jigsaw5

jigsaw7

jigsaw9

jigsaw11

jigsaw13