SEE YA!

29 12 2011

Last year I promised to write a blog a week every week for a year – accomplished.  I hope to never make as stupid a commitment as that again.  To volunteer to perform the exact same task one day every week for a year?  No way!

This year I will try to do something different once a week, every week, and absolutely NOT blog about it.  One day I might have breakfast at a greasy dive; one day maybe visit a homeless man at the Vietnam Memorial Park and talk;  buy flowers for Laura for absolutely no reason;  go into the Apple Store and NOT buy anything.   It really doesn’t matter what I choose to do – just one thing completely different every week.   Fix a few things around the house and then hire a professional to fix whatever I screwed up.  But don’t worry, you’re not going to have to read about it anywhere any longer.

Some things bear repeating – blogs do not fall into that category.  Who knows, I might actually learn something.  At least I won’t be blathering away at a keyboard while the world passes by outside my window.  And you won’t be compelled to watch through the window while nothing happens.  Thanks!  John





52nd Post This Year

28 12 2011

WordPress sent me an email this morning asking me to respond to a number of questions regarding my commitment to blog once a week in 2011.  They asked how my blog has changed over the course of a year (not at all); whether I am ready to commit to a blog post a day in 2012 (hell, no); and a number of other questions prompting me to consider my future in the blogging universe (virtually none).

Despair, Inc. (a website everyone should have on their “favorites” lists) has this quote about blogging:

“Never Before Have So Many People With So Little To Say Said So Much To So Few”

I have now fulfilled my commitment to write a blog for every week of the year, which was a sort of New Years’ Resolution from last year.  Tomorrow will be my last blog and will briefly (I promise) describe my New Years Resolution for 2012, which is a very direct result of what I have truly learned from my experience with WordPress this past year.  ‘Nuff said!





Beef Tenderloin (by request)

26 12 2011

Ingredients

  • 2 (2 to 2 1/2 pound) center-cut pieces beef tenderloin
  • High quality extra virgin olive oil, for coating roasts, plus 3 tablespoons for sauce
  • Grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning for Steak by McCormick – warning: all I could find was the “hot” variety – use the regular mix – this is just too spicy for many people)
  • 1 large jar whole roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped, well-drained and pat dry
  • 5 cloves garlic, popped from skin
  • 2 full handfuls flat leaf parley, chopped
  • 1 cup (no more than one cup – this is plenty for this recipe)  high quality pitted kalamata olives, drained well
  • 1 cup italian herbs, either store bought or create your own favorites
  • Juice from two freshly squeezed lemons (thanks to my daughter Jessica for this suggestion – it made all of the difference in this sauce)
Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Liberally coat the meat with extra-virgin olive oil and grill seasoning. Place the meat on a roasting rack and place in oven.  Roast the meat 10 minutes on high then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and cook 30 minutes more. Do not open oven during those first 10 minutes. Remove meat from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Slice into 1/2 to 3/4 inch steaks and shingle two or three on each plate.

(This part can be done well in advance).  Place all other ingredients in a food processor.  Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary – I chose to only add a little bit of freshly ground pepper, but it is really not necessary.  Turn the processor on and stream in high quality extra virgin olive oil, about 3 tablespoons until thoroughly blended.  The sauce will be pretty thick.  Pour into squeeze bottles to drizzle over meat just before serving.  If you do not have squeeze bottles, just be careful how much your pour over the tenderloins – the sauce is pretty rich and goes a  long way.

Serves approximately 8 people as a main dish, and 12 people as a secondary entree dish.

 

 





Healthy Holiday Treat

22 12 2011

OK – after my last blog, the least I could do is include a recipe that won’t make you look like the Michelin Tire Man, so here goes (they are easy too!)

PB and Craisin Clusters

Ingredients:
2 bags (approximately 20 ounces) Peanut Butter Chips
1 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts
1 cup regular oats, uncooked
1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1 teaspoon allspice

Directions:

Microwave chips in a bowl on high power until melted, about 2 minutes. Stir. Add remaining ingredients; mix thoroughly. Using your hands, firmly roll into 1-inch balls. Cool.

Yield: 60 – 70 treats






Largess

20 12 2011

We know from visual experience that a bunch of Americans are morbidly obese.  I prefer the word “grossly” to “morbidly” as an adverb for obese – but that is mostly because if someone expires from obesity, I would no longer have to look at them, and that would make my daily observations less “gross”.  The most recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimates that 33.9% of Americans are obese.

Obesity is a very expensive medical cost, estimated at 147 billion dollars annually.  My contention is that this money could be spent in better ways to combat this epidemic.  Bigger and better burgers are not the answer.  

Non hispanic black americans have the highest obesity rate (36.8%) in these studies.  Taking into consideration the higher rate of unemployment, the unintended effects of bigotry (see unemployment), and the assumption that Charles Darwin’s theory regarding the survival of the fittest (when viewed through the historic lens of slavery) should have propagated the healthiest race of people anywhere.  I could find no concrete explanation for this phenomenon – my only guess is that fast food is generally cheaper and unhealthy compared to their healthier counterparts.

Hispanics have an obesity rate of 30.7%, but these are hispanics in America.  My experience with food in Mexico is very healthy.  On the other hand, for many hispanics to reach America, they must be able to swim which is excellent exercise.

It seems to me that using simple American Ingenuity, for which we are famous, would enable us to find a way to make these 33.9 percent of Americans proportionately taller.  This would seem to be a reasonable response to the problem (and a great way to utilize that 147 billion dollars annually), and could also be a huge boon to the NBA and the WNBA.

Asians have the lowest obesity rate (16.7%) which only reinforces my belief that if we could just make people much taller, BMI would drop dramatically.

But the very best idea yet would be to engineer people to be around 4′ tall and weigh no more than 90 pounds.  The effect on our collective carbon footprint would be amazing.  Virtually everything from automobiles, planes, clothes, and furniture (to list but a few), would have a tremendous impact on the effect humans have on this planet.  These issues could possibly even be accomplished within a few generations using the aforementioned funds.





MOM

22 09 2011

This does not count as a blog, but it is an apology to those few who read this stuff.  My mother passed away on August 23, and I have simply not felt like writing anything since then. 

However, I do have an obligation to write a blog every week, so to complete my promise to myself, I still must post 9 more blogs by the end of the year, and I fully intend to do so.  If any of you have missed me, I am fine and just buried in work (probably a good thing).  Look for new and possibly more politically incorrect blatherings soon – I also have a few new recipes to share so bear with me, I will return soon.  Thanks for your thoughts – all is well and good.   

 





Gingery Sweet Potatoes

22 08 2011

Gingery Sweet Potatoes.





The Best Ever KCRiverFest

11 08 2011

KCRiverFest once again lived up to it’s reputation as one of Kansas City’s greatest family-oriented Festivals.  A full-fledged carnival brought a whole new level of excitement to the event; and the free children’s area filled with giant inflatables (thanks to an anonymous donor and private supporter of the Festival) was a huge hit with families of all ages.

Zambelli once again put on a spectacular fireworks display, choreographed with the Shades of Blue Jazz Band (Air Force), and the inaugural lighting of the new Christopher Bond Bridge (photo above)..

The  entertainment by Bradley Gaskin; the ever memorable group Riverrock; and my personal favorite, Julia Othmer, once again brought down the house.  Many other musical performers added to the wide spectrum of musical tastes, and the Americana Stage was a huge hit with the Ragtime and Barbershop Quartet loving crowd.

Thanks go out to all of our supporters – the multiple volunteers who are critical to our success, and of course the Port Authority, the City of Kansas City Missouri, and Friends of the River-Kansas City.

There are far too many entities to thank for all of the coordination that makes this Festival successful, but mostly it is you, the residents of Kansas City and all of the surrounding communities that make this event fun for all of us.

Thanks again for another fabulous year – we have even bigger plans for 2012, and look forward to seeing you again next year!





African Spice Paste

8 08 2011

This is a spice paste made in Africa using a pepper called Peri-Peri (origin is actually Portuguese), that can be found in a few stores locally in Kansas City, but easily available on the internet.  This recipe is for Chicken Breasts, but is easily adapted to Pork Chops or even Steak.  Use a mortar and pestle to grind the seeds (just makes you feel like you are part of the tradition – a spice grinder works just as well).

Ingredients:

8 Peri-Peri Peppers, Dried (the only way you can find them here)

 2 tablespoons coriander seeds

 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

 1 tablespoon caraway seeds

 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

 2 teaspoons sea salt

 5 tablespoons olive oil

 4 large chicken breast halves (or equivalent pork or beef)

1 12- by 12- by 3-inch disposable aluminum roasting pan.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking with medium-hot charcoal. Coarsely grind chiles, spice seeds, garlic, and peppercorns in mortar and pestle, then stir together with salt and oil in a bowl to form a spice paste. Rub paste all over meat.  Oil grill rack, then grill meat ( skin sides down first if using chicken) over coals, turning over occasionally and moving around if flare-ups occur, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes total. Move meat to area with no coals underneath, arranging  so that thicker sides are closest to coals, then cover with inverted roasting pan and grill, turning  over once, until just cooked through, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4





Tilapia Tacos

28 07 2011

Now that summer is in full swing, those strawberries are begging for new uses.  They are plentiful (at least in the midwest), affordable and beautiful.  Here is an unusual way to take advantage of their availability – enjoy!

Summer Tilapia Tacos with Strawberries, Serranos, and Bok Choy

INGREDIENTS

Cooking spray (preferably olive oil flavored)
1 pound tilapia, boneless and skinless 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 small (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
2 serrano chile peppers, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Juice from 1 lemon
2 cups chopped bok choy

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a glass baking sheet with cooking spray. Place fish on baking sheet, coat with cooking spray; season with cumin, salt and pepper. Stack tortillas, sprinkle with a few drops of water, and wrap tightly in foil. Cook fish, tortillas until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork but is still moist, and tortillas are hot, 10 to 15 minutes. Saute bok choy until tender.  In a bowl, combine strawberries, serranos, chives, (cilantro to taste if desired), and lemon juice. Flake fish into pieces; unwrap tortillas. Divide fish, strawberry salsa and bok choy evenly among tortillas. Fold and serve.  Serves 4 people.