Saturday, September 09, 2006

Mac & Cheese in the Kitchen

We have a 'test kitchens' recipe today. Barbara wrote that her seven-year-old son will eat mac & cheese but nothing else lately. He'll pick at anything else just enough to be allowed to leave the table. She wondered if I knew any recipe that would include a vegetable. I sent her this on Tuesday and she's sick of it because she's made it every night but she says thank you because he is eating it. It contains peas. You can also slip in onions -- red, yellow or white as well as green. Wally's mother tried it with all the onions this week as a favor to me and agreed that yellow doesn't really work. I'm not fond of yellow onions. They aren't my favorite and they are the ones I purchase least. So I asked her to try it with the different onions and, though she likes yellow onions, she felt it worked better with the other three. However, if you're a yellow onion lover, you'll probably enjoy it with those. If you're adding any of the four onions to the dish (or maybe more than one) do it in the step where you add the peas. If you're making it for children, dice the onions unless you're kids enjoy onions. (If they do, you can simply slice them.)

1 1/2 cups elbow macranoi
1 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon spicy or Dijon mustard
2/3 cup sour cream
8 ounces shredded cheese
10 ounces frozen peas
dash of pepper

Preheat over to 400 Degrees. Grease a shallow 1 /1/2 quart backing dish.
Cook the macaroni according to the package directions and drain.
In a blender, food processor or with a wisk and bowl, mix the cottage cheese and mustard to a smooth consistency. Add the sour cream and a dash of pepper. Mix those as well. Add macaroni, 6 1/2 ounces shredded cheese and the pas. Mix. Spoon the mixture into the backing dish.
Take the remaining cheese and sprinkle it on top. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

If you have kids, you know that the mac & cheese love-fest is not uncommon. Six of my eight kids went through that phase where mac & cheese was expected every night at dinner. If you're using a box to save time and your children already eat vegetables, this isn't to make you feel bad. But if they're not eating enough vegetables or if you're looking for a way to sneak some in for yourself, this is a fairly easy recipe that will do that. A tip for when you first serve it to kids, include the section with the cheese on top. After they've developed a taste for it, you can scoop from anywhere in the dish and it won't matter whether or not the cheese is just among the ingredients or also there and on top. But when you're trying to get them to try this, be sure to serve them sections with cheese on top. (Also make them equal sections if you're serving to more than one child. My two oldest would fight over whose piece had the most cheese on top. They did that, sad to say, for over a year. The fact that they were eating it made it that much easier to get the younger children to eat any of it. If they see one of their siblings excited about a dish, they'll be excited as well. Which, looking back, makes me wish I'd thought to bribe one of them to act excited the first time I served cabbage rolls.)

Let me urge you to read Betty's "The Central Proof" (this is a turning-point chapter). And there are many other things I'd love to suggest but I'm attempting to hurry.

On the subject of NSA, illegal wiretapping of American citizens, I saw this online and wanted to excerpt from it. This is from David Lindorff's "Sen. Feingold Stands Up...Again" available at Common Dreams:

Once again, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), has nailed it, doing exactly the right thing, acting in a courageous manner as a progressive politician should act.
It is clear to everyone in Congress that President Bush knows he's in deep political and legal trouble over his warrantless NSA spying program. It has been declared a violation of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence law passed by Congress in 1978, and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, by a federal judge in Detroit. His justification for breaking those laws--that he is the commander in chief in a so-called "war" on terror--was summarily slapped down and tossed out by the U.S. Supreme Court in the course of itsHamdi v. Rumsfeld decision in June. And anyone who thinks honestly about why the president would have decided to violate the FISA law and avoid seeking warrants for the spy program from a group of secret, top-security-clearance-rated judges in a special FISA court that has only rejected four such requests in 28 years has to admit that Bush is clearly doing something outrageous (most likely spying on his political enemies in a replay of Nixon's actions‹the very crime that led Congress to pass FISA in the first place).
My own Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican who keeps playing at liberal to the home crowd in Pennsylvania but who has shown himself to be nothing but an enabler of Bush's constitutional crime wave, held hearings on the NSA spying. He huffed and puffed a little about its being illegal, and then came up with a proposal that, if passed by Congress, would retroactively exonerate the president of his crime against the Constitution, while establishing a new shortcut to permit the warrantless spying to continue unabated, and unmonitored by either Congress or the FISA court.
It looked like this atrocity of Specter's was going to pass into law, but Sen. Feingold, with the help of, not Democrats, but three Republican senators he rounded up who still respect the Bill of Rights and rule of law, managed to fend it off by way of a filibuster threat.

That's bipartiasanship that I can get behind. We had a Washington Post story in my local paper so I'll use the link to it (I believe their archives are available longer online). This is from Jonathan Weisman's "Iraq's Alleged Al-Qaeda Ties Were Disputed Before War:"

A declassified report released yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence revealed that U.S. intelligence analysts were strongly disputing the alleged links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda while senior Bush administration officials were publicly asserting those links to justify invading Iraq.
Far from aligning himself with al-Qaeda and Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Hussein repeatedly rebuffed al-Qaeda's overtures and tried to capture Zarqawi, the report said. Tariq Aziz, the detained former deputy prime minister, has told the FBI that Hussein "only expressed negative sentiments about [Osama] bin Laden."

The report also said exiles from the Iraqi National Congress (INC) tried to influence U.S. policy by providing, through defectors, false information on Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capabilities. After skeptical analysts warned that the group had been penetrated by hostile intelligence services, including Iran's, a 2002 White House directive ordered that U.S. funding for the INC be continued.

The White House didn't just lie us into war by accident, they chose to lie. That's something to remember as they attempt to market the anniversary of 9-11 to their own means.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" covering the news from Iraq:

Friday, September 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, bits of the long over due US Senate reporton the lies that led to war (they're calling it a look into the intell) are scattered like crumbs, US soldier Mark Wilkerson reflects on how he reached the decision not to take part in the illegal war, US soldier Darrell Anderson is reportedly headed back to the United States after attempts to be granted asylum in Canada,
and Australia's Bully Boy says Brendan Nelson is doing a "fantastic job."
In the United States,
AP was first out of the gate with: "A senate intelligence committee report says there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaida associates before the Iraq war." CBS and AP quote US Senator John D. Rockefeller stating of the report: "Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence" and that it shows "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."
Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."
Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows
Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."
The lies that led into illegal war. Yesterday,
AP notes, the Senate passed a spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with another $63 billion dollars.
As the cost in blood and currency continues to add up, more and more people turn against the illegal war. In the United States,
Byron Pitts (CBS) reported on the mood in Jacksonville, North Carolina and spoke with retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper who admits to vote for Bully Boy twice but intends to vote Democratic for the first time. Van Riper tells Pitts: "I've turn him [Bully Boy] off. I've tuned him out." The cost in blood? AFP notes the Baghdad morgue body count for August stands at 1,584. It also includes 2666 US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war, 118 British troops (that includes the one who died Thursday) and 115 "other" for a total of 2899.
Of the US fatality count,
Emil Guillermo (Asian Week) notes, "Ironically, of the Iraq war deaths, over 2,500 came after" Bully Boy's "declared on May 1, 2003, 'Mission Accomplished'."
CNN reports that, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb left six injured and killed three ("including a mother and child" among the dead) and that a US soldier died "south of Baghdad" from a roadside bomb. Reuters reports a car bomb in Baghdad that killed a police officer "and a bystander". Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports the death of eight in Kerbala from mortars.
CNN reports that three people were shot dead in Baquba and a sunni tribal chief was shot dead in Hawija. Reuters identifies the man as Ibrahim al-Khalaf and notes that an Iraqi soldier was shot dead near Samarra (with two others wounded).
AFP reports six corpses were found in Baghdad ("tortured . . . shot to death"). Reuters reports the corpse of Haider Hamza was discovered "shot dead in front of his house" and that he had been "an interpreter working for Danish troops in Iraq".
AFP reports that Brigadier Muzher Kamel Mohammad ("head of the police force protecting Iraqi courts") was kidnapped in Baghdad. This as Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'." Falluja. Again. As if November 2004 wasn't destructive enough. Hearts and minds, as Mark Wilkerson has noted, are not being won.
And the much touted non-handover? As
Jim Sciutto (ABC) notes: "Watching the headlines in the American media today, you might think the U.S. military handed over military control in Iraq to Iraqis. There was certainly a ceremony yesterday -- a handshake at a military base where Iraqi commanders took control of an Iraqi army division from coailtion commanders -- but the real story is the arithmetic. Yesterday's handover affects the tiny Iraqi navy and air force, with a few hundred folks in each, and a single Iraqi army division, the 8th Army with 5500 to 7000 troops. This means only about five percent the 115,000 regulars in the Iraqi army now take their cues from the Iraqi prime minister. The rest remain firmly under foreign control -- and so do the most dangerous areas of the country, such as Baghdad and the volatile Anbar province in the west. The 8th Army operates in the relatively small -- and relatively quiet -- Diwaniyeh province in southern Iraq."
In peace news,
Diana Welch (Austin Chronicle News) reviews the case of war resister Mark Wilkerson noting his disillusionment ("When we went, our general mission was to win the hearts and minds of the people. But when I got there, and I saw the people and how we were treating them, I thought, 'We're doing exactly the opposite'."), his awakening (finding out who was profitting -- "certain individuals were making on this war, how much money the corporations like Halliburton were making"), having his conscientious objector application rejected as he was called up for another tour of duty, and then deciding to check himself out. Alan Gionet (CBS4) reports that Rebecca Barker, Matt Wilkerson's mother, stated, "I think the public is looking at anyone who goes AWOL as cowards and it goes much deeper than that." Welch notes that Wilkerson could face a special court-martial (if found guilty, one year sentence is the maximum) or a general one (which would led to seven years if found guilty). Gionet reports: "Wilkerson is confined to base while his unit faces what could be its third deployment."
Phinjo Gombu (Toronto Star) reports that war resister Darrell Anderson will be leaving Canada and returning to the US, according to his mother Anita Anderson. This should take place during the last weekend of September and he will be met at the border by peace activists and Vietnam veterans as well as by Jim Fennerty, his attorney. "If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in. It is one of the two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier."
In Washington, DC
Camp Democracy continues through September 21st. It is free and open to the public. Today's events focused on labor issues. Saturday, September 9th, many events will be taking place and among those speaking will be Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda), Ray McGovern and Bill Moyers. The events will kick off at 9:00 a.m. in preparation of the 9:30 a.m. march around the Capitol Building "To remember the fallen and remind Congress and the public of the human cost of the War on and Occupation of Iraq." Sunday, September 10th will feature Juhasz, Ann Wright, Raed Jarrar and others. A complete schedule can be found here.
And beginning September 21st (International Peace Day), via
United for Peace & Justice:
"It's time to answer fear with courage, to step out of our personal comfort zones and take bold action to end the Iraq War.
Join us in a week of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, from September 21-28, and in pressuring pro-war politicians all this fall through the Voters for Peace pledge."
In Australia, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson continues to be a subject of discussion over his role as self-designated media spokesperson for the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco.
First into the fray was prime minister John Howard who has "full confience" in Brendan Nelson. Of course he also claims to have "full confidence" in Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston whose testimony directly contradicts Nelson. And it's also true that Howard is the Bully Boy down under. So no one really cares what he says as he speaks from both sides of his mouth except possibly for this statement which has strong echoes of "Heck of a job, Brownie" -- from ABC's The World Today, Howard: "Dr Nelson is doing a fantastic job." Fantastic of a job, Brendie!
For those who missed it,
yesterday Houston told the hearing that he had repeatedly warned Nelson not to speak to the press because the events of Jake Kovco's death were not clear. Or as WA Business News sums it up: "Defence force chief Angus Houston has directly contradicted the Defence Minister's statement to police about private Jake Kovco's death, saying Brendan Nelson ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the shooting."
Samantha Hawley summarizes (on ABC's PM) thusly: In a witten submission to the Military Board of Inquiry, Dr Nelson says it was Air Chief Marshal Houston who told him that Jake Kovco had been handling his loaded weapon in some way when it discharged. But Angus Houston directly contradicts that claim. In his own submission, the Defence Force Chief indicates he repeatedly urged the minister against speculating about the cause of death, saying it appeared to have been a tragic accident but this would need to be confirmed by the Board of Inquiry."
We turn to this statement from
April 27, 2006: "Of course we are, and I'm personally, very angry about it. I'm very disappointed. The inquiry and the investigation will get to the bottom of it. But I just ask Australians, it's very easy to criticise Defence. It's a large organization. It does wonderful things for Australians and for people in times of trouble, but don't just, I just say to Australians, don't just take a free kick here."
A free kick? Hasn't Brendan Nelson earned it? The statement above was when he went to the press to announce that Jake Kovco's coffin had returned home but not his body. It's been one mix up after another. Put yourself in the Kovco family's place, think of all the mix ups/screw ups Nelson's overseen and been responsible for and wonder if Brendan Nelson is the poor-put-upon he'd like to paint himself or someone performing their job very poorly.