Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes in the Kitchen

"Another potato recipe!" cried readers. Okay, I can do that.

Here's one that when you read through, may elict a few groans. However, stay with me on this.

3 large baking potatoes, about 1 1/2 lb (750g), peeled and cut into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat an over to 400 [degrees] F (200 C). On a large baking sheet, spread out the potatoes and lightly coat the tops and sides with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with the rosemary and pepper.
Bake, turning every 15 minutes until golden brown and tender in the middle, about 1 hour.
To serve, divide among 4 individual plates.

I'm thinking someone may see the one hour baking time and groan since the potatoes have to be turned every 15 minutes. If you groaned, that's really three times, just three times. This is a very easy recipe and a tasty one as well. I have a friend who uses olive oil for everything and she uses it in place of nonstick cooking spray. I have another friend who grows her own rosemary and she will also use rosemary she's dried in this recipe (and others). If you're a rosemary wiz, you can probably do this with dried rosemary. I'm not a wiz, so I use fresh rosemary.

I asked Betty to try this recipe as a test run because her kids like potatoes and she's a working mom with not a lot of time. She says it took her fifteen minutes to do the steps before putting the dish into the oven and could probably cut it down to to ten minutes the next time. She set the microwave timer for 15 minutes, sliced some tomatoes for a salad, chopped some lettuce, some green onions and was working on doing the same to the carrots when the timer went off. She turned the potatoes, set the time for 15 minutes, finished her salad, checked on the kids in the living room, had a glass of ice water ("sitting down!"), timer went off, turned the potoes, set the timer again and then set the table. By the time she had the table set, the timer went off and she pulled the baking sheet from the oven and began putting the potatoes on plates.

She said it turned out "really good and that was the first time I'd made it." So this should be an easy recipe for most people. And it's from Cooking for Healthy Living by Jane Fonda. There are a number of wonderful recipes in that book. There are "120 Easy Low-Fat Recipes" according to the cover. I haven't made everyone in the book. I got this book in 1996 when it came out (I'm remembering that as the spring, but I may be remembering wrong). My oldest daughter picked it up for me because I love cooking and we love Jane Fonda in my house. She saw it at a bookstore and knew I'd enjoy it. (On Jane Fonda, C.I. knows I love the movie Julia and mailed me the DVD. I had looked for it on DVD awhile back and it wasn't available. So if there are any other Julia fans out there, it's now out on DVD.)

I do too. But I make the point about the recipes because there are three readers who have just purchased their first cookbooks. One's already given up and, I want to stress this, French cooking is something most are not going to master easily. You'll need patience for that. If you're a novice cook and you're interested in learning French cooking, I'd say you have two real choices: (a) sign up for lessons or (b) find a friend who knows how to cook that way. There used to be a number of programs dedicated to that. There may be some new ones now but I know the ship was pulling out of the harbor on that about ten years ago.

If you're looking for a cookbook to buy, I have a few tips. First off, don't buy one. Go to your library and look through the cooking books they have. See what interests you and check that book or those books out. Use those to experiment. Photos aren't what you're going to eat and a lot of cookbooks with lovely photos have recipes that aren't worth the printed page.

Some of the best cookbooks don't have photographs. But what you want to do is get beyond what a photo shows you (where you may be responding to the place setting, quite honestly) and what a book actually offers you.

If you're buying, or you're someone that doesn't have access to a library (with all the cuts these days, I imagine some areas of the country have that problem), I'd recommend you order Diet for a Small Planet which has never gone out of "style" in my kitchen. Frances Moore Lappe is the author and we've noted it here before. Those are tasty recipes you can follow. I'd also recommend Jane Fonda's Cooking For Healthy Living. Other than that, I'd recommend you go to a bookstore and look through the clearance cookbooks (there are always a large number of those) so you're not spending a huge amount on a cooking book you may not end up using.

If you become someone who frequently uses cookbooks, you'll learn how to flip through one in about ten minutes and know if it's something that you will really use in your kitchen. But when you're starting out, the easiest thing is to get lost in the pictures. My new daughter-in-law and I went book shopping recently and God bless her enthusiasm but after she showed me a photo and said she couldn't wait to make the dish in the photo, I pointed out to her that she was going to be using three pots, a skillet and two hours plus.

She hadn't noticed that. She'd noticed the wonderful photo. They're good about using the photo that hooks you. Then you get home, start making the recipe and may give up half-way through or finish the recipe while swearing, "Never again."

The reader that gave up on the cookbook (a French one) is making pasteries now because when we were all in DC, one morning C.I. made some pasteries from scratch. I was amazed both by how they'd turned out and how quickly it went (for the dish, you have to cut it with butter repeatedly, popping it into the fridge every few minutes). To me, that recipe is one that I will do once a year, in the winter. I'll share it this winter and if you want to try it, that's great. If you want to stick to the bakery, I don't blame you.

But if you get a cookbook and it's not one for you, don't panic. Just set it aside. It may be something that a year's time you're able to go back to. (Or it may be a worthless book, there are a number of those.) But, if you become someone who builds a cookbook library, you may find out what I have, which is that a good cookbook is one that has ten to twenty recipes you're going to use. As you get comfortable cooking, you'll have some set dishes you do quite well and what you'll be doing after that is just adding to those dishes.

When that happens, with new cookbooks, you'll mainly be going through to find recipes you think are interesting and not telling yourself (as I did when I started out), "I'm going to start with the first recipe and cook my way through this book!"

Most people I know who are good cooks tend to make it a point to add a recipe or more a year. That's it. (C.I., who is a wonderful cook, has added five recipes each year which is why C.I. can cook anything. Though frying was never mastered, as C.I. will readily admit.) If you go with one dish or with five and see this as a long range thing, you're looking at, in five years, five recipes or twenty-five that you've mastered.

Again, the point of this site is to provide you with some recipes that will hopefully strengthen the nutritional value of what you're eating and also provide you with a way to eat at a reasonable cost. Good nutrition is always important and with our econmy and our out of control health care costs, you can see it as your first line of self-defense.

I was looking through the morning paper and there's a great deal on the tunnel (Boston Globe, we had a panel in the tunnel to the airport come loose, fall on a car, crush it and kill the woman inside). One thing I heard on Free Speech Radio News this week that I'll note, the tuna situation may be worse than thought. There was a report with a man who recommended that grown ups limit themselves to one can a week. This is something Elaine and I spoke of on the phone yesterday. She called for Mike and we were talking for a bit, as we usually do when she calls. She was a big tuna eater until the warnings. I was as well. I think a lot of women are because it's less fattening, it's easy to fix in a number of ways and it's readily available.

She'd missed the report this week (she's only just returned from her vacation) and I was filling in her in on what was discussed. Another thing I'll note is Iraq. And what I'd like to note there is that when the 'crackdown' in Baghdad (the 'securing' of the capital) began, there was another wave of Operation Happy Talk especially as June closed and July began. If you remember, C.I. was very vocal that this wasn't going to be a calm period, not matter what the Happy Talk stated, and if you've followed the news, you know that's proven to be the case. While it's true that the deaths of US troops is down, it's also true that the deaths of Iraqi civilians continues to skyrocket. My guess is that well over 200 have died in the last seven days. (That's my estimate.) In the paper this morning, I saw some stuff already covered in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" Friday and a lot that wasn't covered. So I'll note the snapshot and then do some recommended links right after. "Iraq snapshot:"

The Operation Happy Talk goes on.
Sean McFarland becomes the biggest doofus outside the administration by delcaring, "I think we have turned a corner her in Ramadi." MacFarland is both an Army Col. and a Happy Talker.
In news that's a little harder to Happy Talk,
Antonio Castaneda (AP) reports that of the 1000 Sunni soldiers who made up the May 2006 graduating class "only about 300 of them have reported for duty".
In other news from the real world,
Reuters reports that the US Congressional Budget Office predicts: "The Iraq war could cost U.S. taxpayers between $202 billion and $406 billion more over the next 10 years".
These projections come at a time when, as
Martha Burk has pointed out (Ms.), the US government has cut "[d]omestic-violence prevention by $35 million, Medicaid by $17 billion over five years and child care programs by 1.03 billion over five years."
In other costs paid,
Reuters reports 12 corpses were discovered in Tal Afar. CBS and the AP note a corpse ("shot in the chest . . . signs of torture") discovered in Azizyah".
noted earlier this morning, seven people were killed ("after Friday prayers") when a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was bombed. Meanwhile Reuters reports that a mosque in Balad Ruz was hit by mortar rounds leaving at least two dead and four wounded while a car bomber in Mosul who killed himself and five others. The AFP covers a mortar attack in Baghdad that left one person dead and nine wounded.
Shooting deaths?
Reuters notes that two policeman were killed by a sniper in Tal Afar while a minibus near Kut was attacked "with machine gun fire" resulting in five dead ("including a wwoman and a child"). Meanwhile, the AFP reports attacks in two cities: a car was "ambushed" in Tikrit by assailants who shot the father dead and wounded the son; and, in Mosul, two different attacks left a police officer dead as well as the bodyguard of a judge. And the Associated Press reports a drive-by in Baghdad that killed a taxi driver.
BBC noted the death of several Iraqi soldiers (12 at that point) in Kirkuk when they were attacked with "rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns". AFX raised the number dead to 13 (citing "colonel Mahmud Abdulla").
following yesterday's kidnapping attempt that left wrestling coach Mohammed Karim Abid Sahib dead, the AP reports that: "Iraq's national wrestling team [has] pulled out of a tournament in the United Arab Emirates".
In the United States,
Saturday July 15th is a day of action calling for Suzanne Swift to receive an honorable discharge including a protest, "at the gates of Ft. Lewis (exit 119) beginning at 12 pm with a press converence at 3 pm" in Washington state -- while in Eugen, Oregon there will be a demonstration outside the Federal Building at noon.
In DC (and across the globe -- over 22 countries), the fast led by
CODEPINK and others continues. As Thursday's The KPFA Evening News reported some Congressional members, including Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Lynne Woolsey took part in a one-day fast on Thursday. Ann Wright, who ressigned from the State Department on May 19, 2003 and is taking part in the actions stated: "The only reason we fast is to force us to remember what's going on here. That innocent Iraqis are dying every day, Americans are dying every day. We need to get this war ended. So, yeah, we're going to up the ante".
Wednesday July 19th, San Antonio, TX will be the location for a "public hearing held by the the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves" -- "in the Iberia Ballroom of the La Mansion Del Rio Hotel, 112 College Street, San Antonio."
There will be two panels with the first lasting from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and focused on "
roles and missions to funding requirements" and the second, lasting from 2:00 pm to 4 pm, focusing on how reserves were "involuntarily mobilized after September 11, 2001".

"Friday "
"A light post (I won't pretend this is deep)"
"What to call it? I'm too tired to figure that out "
"The War Paint Council"
"NYT: The continued decline of Dexy"
"NYT: Trying to give out that peaceful, easy feeling (someone break it to them -- they're a paper, not a rock group)"
"NYT: Worth reports, Dexy role plays"
"My Iraq op-ed"
"Bono's Anti-Chavez Video Game"
"Editorial: American wants the war over now"
"TV: Supernatural -- a tale of bad TV"
"The Hidden War on Women in Iraq"
"The Enduring Logic of Withdrawal"
"Bugging Hillary"

Monday, July 10, 2006

Deviled Eggs in the Kitchen

I had several e-mails. Annie said she was hoping for another potato recipe. Matt said he hoped I was just taking last weekend off because he'd bought a "big bag of potatoes." I'll do a potato recipe this weekend. I'm posting this tonight because Tommy wrote. Tommy is sixteen and they are having a family picnic this weekend. He said his mother works very hard and he wanted to try to help out by making something. He wants it to be a surprise for her.

As a mother, when I read an e-mail like that, I make the time to post. I've already e-mailed the recipe to Tommy and told him to let me know if he has any questions but I'll put it up here as well. He wrote that he could microwave "anything" and that he knows how to boil a potato and an egg "and that's it except how to make toast in the toaster." If you can boil an egg, you can make deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs
12 hard-boiled eggs
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons of mustard
Salt and pepper

I'm going with 12 eggs for a reason. You need fresh eggs. Don't use eggs that may have been the fridge for a week. If you're making this for yourself, that might be fine. But if you're making it for others, you need to go to the store and buy a carton of eggs.

The first step is boiling the eggs. You can boil the water and add the eggs. I do that and use tongs to put the eggs in. If you boil first, and then add eggs, do not drop them in. They can crack and the egg white can bleed out through the crack.

If you're not used to boiling, put the eggs in the pan first then add water until you've got enough water to provide at least an inch of water over the highest egg. (If you're not good with measurements, look at your finger. From tip to the first joint below the finger nail is a good standard.) Put the pan on the stove, turn the burner up to medium-high heat and allow the water to come to a slow boil.

You'll need to let them cook under the slow boil for about 15 minutes. When they've reached that mark, turn off the heat, bring the pan to the sink and run cold water into the pan for three to four minutes. The water will run over the brim of the pan and that's fine. You're replacing the hot water with the cold to cool the eggs.

I've said it before on other recipes, but, again, do not freeze the eggs in an attempt to cool them faster.

You can set them aside, in the cool to cold water, for a half hour or you can peel them under cold water. After you've peeled them, you need to slice them lengthwise or widthwise. I go for lengthwise because they don't tend to fall over after they're done but some people like 'deep dish' deviled eggs so that's your choice.

Using a spoon, remove the yolks and place the yolks in a small bowl. Put the egg yolks on a plate. If you sliced lengthwise, lay them out in any manner you please (they won't tip over). If you've sliced them widthwise, you'll need to keep each egg white shell close together so that they don't roll over.

You'll need to add the ingredients above to the yolk. Think of this as the topping and the egg whites as your pizza crust.

I like to to use a fork to mash the yolks before I add any ingredients. That's up to you.
Add the mayonnaise and mustard (and you can use spicy mustard for more flavor) as well as a dash of pepper and a dash of salt (or salt substitute). Mix the ingredients in the bowl well, stirring with the fork until you have a smooth mixture.

Spoon the mixture into each egg white shell. (Note: This is not egg shells. Egg shells go in the trash as or after you peel the egg. "Shell" is what I'm calling the cooked halves of egg white.) If this is your first time doing this, you may not be sure how much to use. Start off trying to fill almost the top and then, after all are filled this way, go back and add the remains to each egg white shell.

Once you've finished that, you're almost done. If this is just for you, you can eat now. (Though I wouldn't recommend making 12 eggs for yourself due to cholestrol.) If this is something you'll be serving to others, I like to serve them on a tray (if you don't have a tray, you can use a plate) with a bed of lettuce under it. The green lettuce isn't to be eaten, it just gives it a professional look. (Though I have been known to nibble on the lettuce after the deviled eggs are gone if I'm sitting at a table with the tray on it and engaged in a conversation.)

You can also use parsley if you like.

Put the lettuce or parsley on the serving tray, serving platter or plate.

Whether you're doing that step or not, this is where you sprinkle the eggs with paprika.

If you're transferring them, sprinkle them before you transfer.

How much? Paprkia's red. You don't want a layer of red on top of the egg yolk. What you're hoping for is just a few sprinkles.

If you're transfering them to another plate, a platter or tray, you do that now. If you cut the hardboiled eggs length-wise, spread them out. If you cut them width-wise, you'll need to keep them close together with egg whites touching to prevent them from falling over. Cover them with plastic and place in the fridge to chill. These can be made the night before but I wouldn't recommend making them more than a day before. You want them fresh for your guests.

A number wondered why I didn't blog on Saturday? I said I would probably only blog three times a week. But the reason I took Saturday off was because of my son Mike. Friday nights, he and his friends have organized a group that gets together and discusses Iraq. It is now a huge group and keeps growing. My husband and I both attend the discussions.

Friday night, he gave an amazing speech entitled "War As An After Thought" about his impressions of the media coverage of Iraq and of the general reaction to the illegal war itself.
It was amazing. Nina told him he should write it up. (Nina is Mike's girlfriend.) We all agreed with that. It ran in Polly's Brew (which is a newsletter for The Common Ills community) that goes out on Sunday.

I was afraid I'd spoil his column by posting here because I was so impressed with his speech and also that I'd end up making no sense, as you'll see shortly. (His dad was too. As were the people applauding.) My children always had to help out so I can't say, "This is the guy who I have to tell to pick up his socks from the floor." But even though he and all his brothers and sisters are responsible, Mike being the second to the youngest, I still have a hard time sometimes accepting the fact that he's an adult.

He doesn't act childish. But when I see him, with his brush cut, I just still see the kid whose hair I used to cut and wish he'd grow it a little longer so it would curl like it did when he was a little boy. He's got an adult hair cut because he's an adult.

And Friday night drove home what an adult he was becoming. I'm proud of all my children and I've certainly been proud of Mike before but that was just an amazing moment. He was nervous before the speech but you couldn't tell that when he was giving it.

That night, when I was in bed, I started to tear up a little (okay, a lot) and my husband asked me what was wrong? Nothing was really wrong. I was proud of him and really realized that he was a young man now. I started thinking how he's in college now and he'll be moving out soon like his brothers and sisters did. (My youngest, his sister has announced she's "out the door the minute I turn 18.") I was proud of him and kind of sad because the older six have already moved out. I don't know what I'm writing tonight.

Let me put in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today so you have something that makes sense:

Iraq snapshot.
Violence and chaos continue.
Bombings, shootings, corpses, kidnappings -- characteristics of daily life in Iraq -- continue while the miliary releases the name of the five US troops charged this weekend in the Mahmoudiya incident and Iraq attempts to overturn the immunity law that exempts suspects from being charged in and by Iraq (foreign troops and contractors).
The AFP notes that a car bomb in Baghdad killed at least ten and left at least fifty-one wounded. The Associated Press notes that this car bomb happened "near a repair shop on the edge of . . . Sadr City". Al Jazeera notes the second bombing which occurred "outside a restaurant near the central bank in central Baghdad" resulting in at least six dead and at least 28 wounded. A third bomb, roadside, resulted in the wounding of five police officers according to Reuters.
Also in Baghdad, CBS and AP note that a bus was "ambushed" with the seven people on it killed (six passengers and the driver) and the bus set on fire.
As Brian Edwards-Tiekert noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, "violence came despite a security crackdown in the capital raising new questions about the effectiveness of the police and Iraqi army."
Outside of Baghdad, Al Jazeera notes a roadside bomb in Hillah killed one police officer and wounded four while, in Kirkuk, "a sucide truck bomb struck an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan" leaving five dead and twelve wounded. Reuters reports a roadside bomb in Yusifya that took the life of one person and left two more wounded; and a car bomb in Baquba that left eleven wounded. CBS and the AP note a bomb in Mahmoudiya that left ten wounded and a car bomb in Ramadi that wounded four US troops.
The BBC notes that Adnan Iskandar al-Mahdawi ("member of the provincial council in Diyala province") is dead as a result of a drive-by. CBS and AP report that, in Baghdad, a doctor was "forced . . . out of his car . . . and killed in front of his family."
Reuters notes two attacks in Baghdad -- one which left three police officers dead and wounded another and a second where two "bodyguards of a judge" were killed and three were wounded.
Reuters reports five corpses were found in Suwayra, one in Kut ("shotgun wounds") and one near Dugail ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") while CBS and AP note the discovery of "two bullet-riddled" corpses in Baghdad and notes five corpses, not one, discovered in Kut.
Reuters notes that "an agriculture official" was kidnapped in Dujail.
The Associated Press reports that the latest five charged in the incident involving the alleged rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza as well as her murder, and that of three members of her family, are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard. Yribe is identified as the one who, as Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, is "charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crime." The AP notes that "[t]he others face more serious charges as participants" as well as the fact that two of the five charged are sergeants (Cortez and Yribe). The five join Steven D. Green who was charged on June 30th.
The names of the five are released as Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that the US crafted laws for Iraq are facing a challenge according to Wigdan Michael (human rights minister in Iraq) who states "We're very serious about" requesting the "United Nations . . . end immunity from local law for U.S. troops". Michael tells Karouny: "One of the reasons for this is the U.N. resolution, which gives the multinational force soldiers immunity. Without punishment, you get violations. This happens when there is no punishment."
In peace news, Amy Goodman and Medea Benjamin discussed the Troops Home Fast today. Benjamin stated: ". . . we think this fast is one way that they can do it. We've had people who have read about the fast in the paper, and they're in West Palm Beach, for example, and just jumped on a plane and came and joined us. We have a woman from Vancouver, in Washington state, who heard about the fast and decided that she had to do something more, came and joined us for this week. People who thought they were going to fast for one day have ended up fasting for the entire week and are going into their second week. This can really be a catalyst if people join. Every day we have hundreds more signing up on the website and saying they want to participate."
In other peace news, Ehren Watada's mother Carolyn Ho has stated, of her son's refusal to deploy to Iraq for the illegal war, "He is sending that message to all the armed forces, the message that they need to examine carefully the war they are choosing to fight." Ehren's father, Bob Watada, is comparing the fight against the charges the military has brought against his son to a competition and tells Alyssa S. Navares (Honolulu Star Bulletin), "I have always been one of those dads at every game and practice . . . Although I whip him in a singles match, together we pravail on the court. And trust me, we're going to do it again when we fight these charges."
Finally, Reuters is reporting that 200 ex-police officers ("fired . . . for forgery and bribery") stormed the Muthanna governor's office "demanding they be reinstated in their jobs in the southern city of Samawa, the capital of Muthanna province."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July

Here's some news for the day and, hopefully, you'll find something that informs you and something that makes you laugh. Thanks to everyone for letting me participate, it was a great deal of fun.

Iraq snapshot

Chaos and violence continue. As Dahr Jamail said on Monday's Flashpoints, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."

As Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's KPFA's The Morning Show, former US soldier Steven D. Green was arrested and charged Friday with raping an Iraqi female while he was serving in Iraq and then killing her and three members of her family. The twenty-one-year-old Green was a member of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army before being discharged with what The New York Times termed a "personality disorder." The BBC notes that Green's next appearance in court will be July 10th. Various press reports note that four others are suspected of involvement but Green has been the only one charged. The Associated Press reports that Minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli, Iraq's justice minister, has "demanded" that the United Nations provide oversight to ensure that those guilty be brought to justice.

Though the United States military has maintained that the rape victime was at least twenty-years-old, reports beginning with Ellen Knickmeyer's (Washington Post) on Monday have placed the female's age much lower. Yesterday, Reuters reported that the mayor of Mahmudiya declared today that the woman "was no more than 16 years old when she was killed along with her parents and young sister".

In the United States, members of CODEPINK, Granny Peace Brigade, Gold Star Families for Peace, United for Peace & Justice and Women for Peace have gathered in DC and are fasting: "While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq."

Yesterday, they gathered in front of the Ghandi statue at 3:00 PM where Cindy Sheehan spoke: "This war is a crime. We represent millions of Americans who withdraw their support from this government." Others participating include Daniel Ellsberg, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and Dick Gregory. On yesterday's WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe, Janet Coleman spoke with several members of Granny Peace Brigade about the fast and other actions. Among the women Coleman spoke with was former WBAI programmer Vinnie Burrows who sang a portion of one her songs: "The kids are dying far away in a foreign land/ I must keep on trying, their lives are in our hands."

In Scotland last weekend, members of Military Always Delivers (an activist group like the Billionaires for Bush in the United States) participated in a pro-war march and rally on Saturday. Scotland Independent Media Center reports (text and photos) that many pro-war marches were not in on the prank as members of MAD shouted slogans such as "Cut Welfare, Buy More Bombs!"; "War is the Health of the State"; and "Power Grows out of the Barrel of a Gun" while passing out "deception dollars."

Today, in Iraq, Reuters reports that Raad al-Harith, Iraq's deputy electricity minister, and 19 of his bodyguards were kidnapped in Baghdad. In other violence thus far today, a roadside bomb in Baghdad claimed the lives of at least two police officers and wounded at least four; in Hawija, a mortar attack claimed the lives of at least one and wounded at least two others; and, in Falluja, "[g]unmen wounded a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars."

An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822) Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

To date 2538 American troops have lost their lives in Iraq (official count). And 150 members ofAlpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry are headed for Fort Dix and then Iraq.

Around the globe. The AFP reports that confronted with a direct threat of nuclear strikes, from North Korea, the White House shrugs and White House spokesmodel Tony Snow declares, "It is still deeply hypothetical." However, the Bully Boy demonstrates no reluctance to play Wallflower with Iran. The Associated Press reports "Western powers" are demanding a July 12th dealine for beginning talks and ceasing nuclear enrichment -- after that, it's a nuclear dance off! This despite Seymour Hersh's reporting that "Pentagon planners and other experts" are not in support of Bully Boy's plan to nuke Iran. Korea? Iran? Iran? Korea? Michael R. Gordon's head spins as he attempts to figure out which war is a "go" in order to start marketing his own brand of home-made (war) porn. (Seymour and Shane -- what have you wrought!) And in the occupied terroritories? The 'jokesters' at the Associated Press, reporting on continued armed agression, dub their story "Israel keeps up pressure on Gaza." In the real world, Nora Barrows-Friedman, on KPFA's Flashpoints, noted that over 130,000 Palestinians have been left without water; that sonic booms are being used to terrorize the population throughout the night; that Israeli forces, in the last week, have abducted " one-third of the Palestinian government. No one in the international community has yet expressed any outrage at this or the Palestinian political prisoner's conditions."

In election news in the United States, Robert Parry writes on the campaign "tool" that benefitted the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004: Osama bin Laden's rush-released video timed to debut four days prior to the election. Though it didn't fly off the shelves at Blockbuster, CIA analysts studying the release came to the judgement that "that bin-Laden was trying to help Bush gain a second term." Meanwhile, professional politician Joe Lieberman, who never met a baby or an ass he couldn't kiss, has thrown down his Zell-Miller-like marker announcing that if he doesn't win his party's nomination (Democratic), he will run as an independent to hold on to his Senate seat. Particularly surprising to Lieberman may be no cries of: "Say it ain't so, Joe!" This as fellow Democratic War Hawk Maria Cantwell appears to hope she can just wish the war away from constituents' minds. In contrast to Cantwell's fiddle-dee-dee approach, newly declared Democrat Jim Webb stated in Saturday's Democratic radio address: ""I have believed strongly that when things aren't working well, it is the responsibility of our leaders to admit it, and to fix the problem. Some say that speaking out against a war is disloyal to the troops. Whoever says that should consider what it's like to be a troop, wishing someone would speak the truth."

In other election news: Que una sorpresa -- another election in Mexico is rife with accusations of fraud and rigging. Possibly, next time an election approaches, US media outlets could spend less time shoring up the lite candidate as "left" and more time exploring the system that continues to fail the people? (We mean the system itself, but if it's easier to focus on the voting mechanics, even that would be preferred.) The BBC reports that conservative Felipe Calderon is the winner and the less conservative Manuel Lopez Obrador is waiting for a recount while the people of Mexico wait for a real leader to emerge. (The actual count of the votes will not begin until Wednesday, as noted by the KPFA Evening News Monday.)

In science & techonology news, the London Free Press is reporting that: "A huge asteroid whizzed by Earth early yesterday, passing about 433,000 kilometres from the planet's surface -- slightly farther away than the moon." Meanwhile, Jane Kay (San Franciso Chronicle) reports on a new study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science which has found the world's bird population to be disappearing at an alarming rate: "The study, the most thorough analysis of global bird species, says 12 percent of existing species -- about 1,250 -- are threatened with extinction by 2100." La loco bird flies on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post where the always laughable Eugene Robinson shows up days late, without a tardy slip, and rushes to shore up the justifiably (long) tarnished image of Star Jones (a modern-day Joan of Arc burned at the TVQ pyre, to hear Robinson tell it) in a column that will provide laughter for years (print it up, it's doubtful the 'collected works' will ever be published). The always late for the train Robison trots out a seventies spoof of Barbara Walters but seems (not surprisingly) unaware that Star Jones has been spoofed repeatedly in more recent years on both Saturday Night Live and Mad TV. For the record, roaches weren't used in any spoof revolving around Walters. Alleged homophobe, peace-activist hater, and attorney Jones will apparently next argue the case that her firing from The View just because the audiences hated her was a case of wrongful termination at I-Hops and truck stops across the country. Chances are that she won't draw a crowd there either. Meanwhile Robinson is prepping his next hard hitting column: an exploration of Shannen Doherty's public firings. [Note: C.I. participated in the writing of the previous six sentences only after consulting with friends at the Washington Post.] In a better use of space, investigative journalist and internet sleuth Ron Byrnaert discovers that a certain Free Republic poster is apparently better known to many as a voice of the left or 'left.' Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) searches for the answer to the question of "Who is Vis Numar?"

Monday's Democracy Now! offered "We Shall Overcome: An Hour With Legendary Folk Singer & Activist Pete Seeger" while today's broadcast will feature:

StoryCorps: A national social history project records the voices of ordinary people -- citizen and non-citizen, old and young -- telling their stories to each other.

Musical question of the day from Carly Simon's "Playing Possum" (written by Simon, title track to the CD of the same name):

We lived up in Cambridge
And browsed in the hippest newstands
Then we started our own newspaper
Gave the truth about Uncle Sam
We loved to be so radical
But like a rugged love affair
Some became disenchanted
And some of us just got scared
Now are you playing possum
Keeping a low profile
Are you playing possum for a while?

This joint entry written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Wally of The Daily Jot; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; and Ruth of Ruth's Public Radio Report. [With additional help from Dallas and Tracey.]

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Popsicles in the Kitchen

Last week's recipe resulted in some e-mail from parents asking about something simple for their children. There's a kid's cooking website that I always think I'll add to my links but I only see it during the week (at BuzzFlash with the note that the people are friends of BuzzFlash). Next time I see it, I'll bookmark it. I have visited it and it's a wonderful website with a wonderful idea (getting kids involved in the kitchen). I don't have the web address this week. When I do, I'll make a point to include a recipe by them to make sure everyone who visits here knows about the site.

What I can offer is a steal from ABC's kids TV. Bonnie wrote about needing something easy that wouldn't burn her kids' mouths and Kansas and his wife were looking for something similar. I checked with Cedric and asked him if he'd ever made any form of popsicle? He hadn't but knew the ABC kids thing I was talking about. They ran it throughout the seventies and for sometime later.

Here's what you need:

Kool Aid or a fruit juice. (Something you'd eat as a popsicle. I love tomato juice but I wouldn't want a tomoato juice popsicle.)
Ice trays

Pour the jucie into the ice trays, cover the trays with plastic, poke a cube through the plastic into each cube container and freeze. You'll have little cubes as popsicles.

You can also buy items that are made to pour liquids into for popsicles at many drug stores. If you have small plastic cups, you can use them. Fill them with the liquid, cover them with plastic and instead of poking a toothpick through, poke a wooden or plastic popsicle stick through. (You can buy those at most grocery stores.) I'm thinking of a 3 ounce cup as a small one. You can use larger but if you're using this recipe for kids, they aren't going to wait that long.

Cedric wondered, when we spoke, if fruit could be added. It's going to fall to the bottom of anything you add it to (and will therefore be on the top when you pull the frozen liquid out with the toothpick or stick) so you could do that. I think popsicles are messy enough without adding a piece that will fall off if kids don't eat them quickly.

If you haven't had popsicles in your house before, this is something the kids need to eat outside or at the table in the kitchen. This isn't a snack where they sit in front of the TV watching. Even the ice cube, small though it will be, will lose out to the TV and the result will be drip-drip on the sofa or carpet. I once had to sew new cushion covers for the sofa when a non-kid (my husband) dripped one made out of cherry Kool-Aid on the sofa as he watched a baseball game on TV.

Right now, on the Boston Globe website, there's a photo where you can see the strange hair color of Priscilla Presley and her strange chin that Wally wrote of in "THIS JUST IN! WHERE THERE IS GREED, THERE IS BULLY BOY." (Maybe she intended to make popsicles but decided to use the cherry Kool Aid as hair coloring?) Priscilla never got a great deal of points from me. I can remember when I was in high school and there was this or that remark (negative) about Yoko Ono from males who would often say that John Lennon should have gotten a 'child bride' (which she was and she was a child before they were married and her parents allowed her to live with him) like Priscilla. I don't know that she's ever done anything in her adult life to impress me. She's made a name for herself off her ex-husband. I won't touch on her religion (to each their own) but I did think, for many years, "Well, hopefully she raised a smart daughter." Then Lisa Marie married Michael Jackson.

Mother and daughter are quite amused as a world leader attempts to be Elvis. Maybe Elvis would be as well? He did offer to be some sort of narc at one point for Richard Nixon, after all. But I honestly feel they've found yet another way to continue to live off a dead man. As C.I. said, "I suppose it beats working."

I was surprised to learn Wally was an Elvis fan. Elvis really wasn't much of a figure in my own life. (Wally's mother loves the movies and Wally grew up watching them. Of the movies, the one where Mary Tyler Moore's a nun is probably the only one I really remember in any way at all.) Elvis wasn't really part of the sixties or the seventies. He had a comeback in the late sixties. Then he did nothing with it. Then the sideburns got longer and the waist got wider. Then he died.

Before he died there was a lot of talk, by Priscilla, who was trying to establish herself without the Presley name back then, about the imprisonment of Graceland. If that were true, she's managed to turn her own personal Abu Ghraib into a tourist attraction. Bully Boy, besides looking chubby, looks very out of his element. I doubt Elvis was very big in his life either. I don't know that Elvis had any good drinking songs when Bully Boy was an Ivy leaguer.

There's a whole gallery of photos and, C.I.'s right, the Japanese prime minister does come off like Richard Gere in Mr. Jones (a really bad movie even to someone like me who enjoys Richard Gere films).

I told C.I. this morning that I'd probably note Bryan Bender's "US troops probed in rape, 4 killings: Inquiry into Iraq deaths is 5th in recent months" in the Boston Globe. Last week, two US soldiers raised the issue of what they said they'd heard happened in March in Iraq. Now there's an investigation. The story they heard was that what was trumpeted to the press in some accounts as the death of 'insurgents' in March was actually the slaughter of a family following a rape. (Bender writes that they were attributed to secretarian killings.)

The incident took place in Mahmoudiyah. What the two soldiers seem to have heard was that a woman was raped (by US forces) and following that, her family was killed and her body was burned to dispose of evidence -- after which, an excuse was found for the deaths.

Is it true? We don't know. Is it shocking? Yes, it is. If true, the ones complicit are guilty and hopefully we've all gotten over our shock in May enough that we won't live in self-denial and just point at the Bully Boy while blustering with threats to anyone who notes that someone in the US military killed in cold blood. ("14 US troops," Bender writes, "have been convicted in the deaths of Iraqi civilians.") Fog of war isn't an excuse. (This alleged incident happened in a "non-combat" area, Bender reports.) The fact that Bully Boy started an illegal war isn't an excuse. It's true that Bully Boy sent them over there and that he keeps them over there, but people do have to be responsible for their own actions. That an illegal war has resulted in war crimes isn't surprising. That Bully Boy still hasn't been charged with them may be.

Howard Zinn has a column worth reading and, once upon a time, many years ago, I believe we could have read this in the Boston Globe. (Supposedly, they got nervous about his columns.) Here's some of his "Put Away the Flags:"

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.
Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

Here's C.I's "Iraq snapshot" from Friday:

Chaos and violence continue. So much so that Jeffrey Snow (US "Army Col.") tells Reuters the obvious, "I think since we have started Operation Together Forward, you'll find that the number of attacks are going up." He's referring to the "crackdown" in Baghdad. As other news emerged, the latest allegations of crimes committed by US forces, Snow began making noise that "bad" media coverage could "lose" the war. Considering bad media sold the war it would be poetic if "bad" media could end it -- poetic but not likely.
Also continuing is the confusion regarding Romania. AP leads with the withdrawal is now a dead issue which isn't correct. The Supreme Defence Council said no to "withdrawal." Kind of, sort of. What they're doing (today, at this moment) is dropping the number of troops from 890 to 628. That's today's comprise with an emphasis on "today." Why? The council's decision is meaningless if parliament doesn't back it up. (A point Edward Wong failed to grasp in the Times this morning.) For that reason as well as the fact that it will be parliament who will make the decision whether or not the Romanian troops mission is extended at the end of the year (six months away), Calin Popescu Tariceanu (Romania's prime minister) stated: "The decision was only delayed today."
Meanwhile, AFP reports: "In a new blow to the coalition, Poland said it will pull its troops out of Iraq by the middle of next year."
Noting the indifference to Iraq (which I would place with the media), Danny Schechter wonders if we need a "War Clock" to bring the economic costs home since "[t]he drama of human beings dying and a country like Iraq being devastated doesn't seem to register"?
We need something. Iraq's not registering. We'll probably hear some of it even though it's the 4th Weekend so everyone's rushing off to their vacations. What will we hear? Ryan Lenz (Associated Press) reports: "Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq" in Mahmoudiyah. The alleged crimes are said to have taken place in March and the five are alleged to have burned the body of the rape victim.
CNN is reporting that it was a "deadly" day for children, noting that a clash "between gunmen and Iraqi soldiers left a teenage girl dead" in Latifiya and that one of six corpses discovered in Baghdad was "a boy believed to be between 4 and 6. . . . shot . . . signs of torture." Corpses? AFP reports that four corpses were discovered in Al-Rashaad, near Kirkuk ("bullet-riddled"). That's ten corpses total reported thus far.
CBS and AP report that, in Abu Saida, Sunni Sheik Hatam Mitaab al-Khazraji was gunned down. RTE News notes that three are dead and at least seven wounded from a roadside bomb that went off Kirkuk.
AFP is currently estimating that "at least 14 people" died in violent attacks today (Iraiqi civilians) and the AP notes that Kyle Miller, member of 682nd Engineer Battalion, has been identified by Dean Johnson ("Guard Brig. Gen.") as the National Guardsman who died today in Iraq (a bomb "detonated near his convoy").

Now some suggested readings:
"And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)"
"NYT: The oversimplifier in residence, Edward Wong"
"gaza""Where's the Iraq coverage?"
"Listen but be prepared for groaners"
"2nd entry today"
"Shifting Winds on Iraq"
"NYT: Dexy wants to process, everyone in a group circle!"
"NYT: Covering the spin and not much more"
"Specter thinks he might be angry, Dave Zirin and more"
"Guns and Butter"
"Fast on the fourth"
"An Iraqi Withdrawal From Iraq"
"Michael Smith's speech from Law and Disorder"
"The spying goes on"
"Not much tonight"
"NYT: Does that red light ever burn out, Dexy?"
"When Docker Boy Met Diva . . ."
"Law and Disorder interviewed Suzanne Vega and Collective Soul"
"NYT: Gordo's all excited (so you should be scared)"
"Holla' Back Girl Uses Nah-Nah Diplomacy"