Saturday, February 17, 2007

Vegetable Chowder in the Kitchen

A lot of e-mails this week and I appreciate all. Let's start off with today's recipe. There are a number of ingredients but, as you read over them, do not panic, it's all going in one pot and this is a very easy recipe.

Vegetable Chowder
2 cups of broth (vegetable, chicken or beef)
2 cups of potatoes (cubed)
1/2 cup of chopped celery
2 cups of frozen whole kernal corn
2 cups chopped cabbage
3/4 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cups of milk
2 tablesppons all purpose flour
black pepper to taste
1 cup of shredded swish cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

That seems like a lot but it is cooked in one pot. Everything except the cheese will go right in. Cook over a medium heat (not high heat) and stir. Continue cooking and stirring until the soup becomes thick and bubbly and then cook for one additional minute (needed to be sure the raw flour taste is cooked away). Remove the pot from heat -- don't just turn off the burner, move it to another burner. You're going to add the cheese now and you need to be away from the heat or the cheese will quickly get stringy. Stir slowly until the cheese is blended in and melted.

On vegetables. I don't measure anymore. I can eye ball and tell if something's a cup or whatever. Lucy e-mailed that she she had trouble figuring out how much to buy when it was cups. Here's my advice for this chowder recipe, if you like an ingredient don't worry. If you don't, buy a little less. For instance, I love potatoes so I would probably use six potatoes (and exceed the recipe's requirement) but you can get the same effect by going with two potatoes that you peel and then cube. I would recommend that you stay away from red cabbage for this recipe.

This is a chowder and those are traditionally white. If you use red cabbage, it's going to turn the chowder purple and that may not appeal to you or others.

This is a good recipe if you're trying to make sure that you're getting enough vegetables and fiber.

Maria, Shirley and Lynda all recommended that I suggest a rice and chicken recipe for Dina and Coy since they're trying to save money for a house. Each offered a recipe and I e-mailed back about why I didn't care for the recipes.

They're looking for other recipes and I'll explain my problem here. I don't suggest a recipe I haven't tried. Someone else can have cooked it and that's fine, but if I'm not eating it, I'm not suggesting it. There was no way I was cooking any of the three recipes offered.

As I explained in my e-mails, I don't care for chicken recipes with canned soup. When my husband and I first moved into our house (this was many, many years ago), you usually had an all day thing (at least one day) of getting the gas on, getting the phone turned on, getting whatever on. A next door neighbor who has passed away came by to introduce herself and brought a dish. It was a chicken and rice dish. She figured we'd be dealing with all that a move means and it was very nice of her to bring the dish.

My husband and I couldn't eat it. We tried. We tried to eat it several times.

It used a mushroom soup on the chicken and in the rice. It tasted as if she'd dumped two cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup (and at least one other cream soup) in, not bothered to dilute without water or milk, and cooked it.

Thus began my only food phobia. My husband and I both tried watering it down and that did no good. He finally gave up on it but I wanted to be a good neighbor and made my way through one serving. To this day, I sample any new dish utilizing chicken, rice and canned soup. None have ever been that bad but a few have come close. Shirley said I needed to share that story because she has a relative that cooks with condensed canned soup and never dilutes it. She knew exactly what I was talking about. So did Lynda who confessed that she once made a dish like that and no one ate it. Only later did she find out why. (She'd been too busy cooking, setting the table and making sure the dinner was going smoothly to actually eat.)

Maria's looking for an easy recipe involving tomatoes (for an arroz con pollo dish) but wanted it noted that she can always count on one of her brothers (and that he can count on her) to tell her when something never needs to be cooked again. She talked about how important it was to have one friend or relative like that. I agree with that.

When you've cooked something, you do want a compliment -- at least one -- but it's also important to have someone who's straight with you. (If you have children, don't worry about finding that one person, you've got it already.) I shared Maria's point with Lynda and Shirley and they both agreed. Shirley said that's probably the most needed ingrediant in the kitchen and the least covered.

She discussed how, when she was first learning to make gumbo, she had repeated problems with the okra. You really need someone to tell you, "It's not there yet." So if you don't already have someone like that, buddy up with a friend.

Now when you're cooking for yourself, a dish can be whatever you want. If I'm making a soup for myself, I'll do whatever I want and won't worry that it's too this or too that. But if you're taking a dish to work or a party or you're entertaining, you really do want to provide something that everyone will enjoy. So buddy up with someone you can provide and receive honest feedback from.

Lynda had one more point on that, never entertain with a new recipe you're making for the first time. I agree with that as well. I mentioned that to my youngest sister, Kathleen, who told me I could share the tale of an early Martha Stewart show that had her convinced she could pull off a recipe and so she dropped the planned meal for that night and, instead, served friends what Martha had whipped up on that day's show and ended up having to call in delivery at the last minute when it was obvious Martha had made it look much easier than it was.

My neighbor who's passed away was someone who would have benefitted from real feedback. I'm remembering her banana breads which were white bread loaves. She didn't use enough bananas and would make several loafs. For white bread, it was pretty good. But if you were expecting banana bread, you weren't getting it. All of her dishes were that way. Any neighborhood get together would find a lot of forced smiles and a lot of wondering who was going to be the one to take her aside.

She never served anything burned or undercooked. It just never tasted right. We were all much younger, in the neighborhood collectively, and no one ever felt comfortable giving her some real feedback. So most of us would go through the motions of eating (I did except on her dishes with canned soups, I lied and told her I had developed an allergy to cream soups). She did make some wonderful fried chicken so, usually, people would try to steer her towards that with a statement such as, "We all love your fried chicken, could you bring that?"

Maria, Shirley and Lynda all urged me to talk about this. I'm not trying to scare anyone off from cooking and, again, if you're just cooking something for yourself, as long as you enjoy it, that's what matters. But if you're cooking for others, buddy up with someone who will tell you that a dish is or isn't working. Lynda shared how she thought she made a wonderful rice, cheese and brocolli casserole until a friend pointed out that gummy rice with a container of Cheese Whiz "wasn't all that tasty." That was fifteen years ago and she was mortified (she'd taken it to her church because she thought that was her best dish) but "enough time's passed and I can laugh now." She said she'd been serving that dish for about four months before she was finally tipped off and that her first thought was, "Who have I served this too?"

Speaking of church, my friend Luisa and I are doing a food thing for Maria, Miguel and Francisco's newsletter. This will be more of a food memories than a recipe thing and we're going to write it every other week. The first one is in tomorrow's newsletter and if you're a community member, you can check that and other things out tomorrow. Luisa came to the United States from El Salvador (when Ronald Reagan's tight relationship with that country's government meant a lot of people, who could, left). She came over last Sunday, a few hours after church, and I was in the middle of reading the newsletter. My husband gets online first thing in the morning to hit community sites and check out the news. On Sundays, I usually move a little slower. So we were reading it together and she noticed that there were many Spanish speaking countries represented in it but didn't see anyone from El Salvador.

She wondered if they'd be interested and we called Francisco who said he loved the idea. I honestly think Luisa can write it herself. But she suggested we partner up because she was concerned about the English translation. I was fine with that (but her English is fine, she's more than fluent in speech and her writing is much stronger than she realizes) but told her that at some point she may want to just make her own contribution and, if/when that day comes, just let me know. She'll read this and say, "I also told you it would be more fun to do it with someone," so let me put that in as well.

I'm looking at the clock and realizing I've run off at the mouth enough for one day so I'll let the snapshot cover all the news you can use. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, February 16, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq (despite the capital crackdown), the House acts 'symoblically,' Ralph Nader explains the importance of making demands, and The Russians Are Snickering!

Starting with news of war resisters. In June 0f 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Last week, he faced a court-martial at Fort Lewis in Washington.

On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis." Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy. This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial." . On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case. Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and "[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public." Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions. By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open. The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury." On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial.

That was last week and, since then, many legal experts have weighed in to offer that, as Watada's civilian attorney Eric Seitz has stated, Watada can't be retried without double-jeopardy entering into the picture.
John Catalinotto (Socialist Worker) observes: "Watada's military defense lawyer -- appointed by the Army -- Capt. Mark Kim, said that he agreed with Seitz's interpretation of military law." Geov Parrish (Eat The State) offers that Watada may have won not just the round but the battle: "How did this happen? It happened because one young officer stuck to his principles, even under enormous pressure, and the Army didn't know how to react. Its handling of the case has allowed Ehren Watada -- young, photogenic, articulate, and deeply moral -- to become a folk hero within the antiwar movement, so much so that even his (supportive) parents have become minor celebrities in their own rights. US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich issued a statement last week: "The court improperly denied Lt. Watada's right to a dfense by blocking him from explaining why he believes the war in Iraq is illegal. Procedural decisions by the court have effectively denied Lt. Watada the right to engage in a protected activity -- freedom of speech. This [the declaration of a mistrial] is a significant ruling which empowers people to speak out against this unjust war."

Jim Cohen (Pepperdine University's The Graphic) ties recent news on the US administration's lies into the Watada story: "A recent report from the Pentagon has concluded that the former policy chief from the Pentagon, Douglas J. Feith, took 'inappropriate' actions by advancing unsubstantiated evidence to bolster the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq. Watada's justification of abstention to fight in Iraq has, in fact, been substantiated. This new information will hopefully give Watada the peace of mind by knowing he was right for following his former commander's advice to study everything, our government's arguments for going to war in Iraq as well as the purpose of the mission. By failing to do this kind of hard work, the commander in chief has left the troops without a mission caught in the middle of a civil sectarian war."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Dave Ward (The Gazette) profiles Tim Richard, a war resister from Iowa who now attends the University of Western Ontario, who tells Ward: "I joined the army with the idea that I would be defending America. But Iraq has nothing to do with defending America. . . . I did have to pay some personal prices. My marriage broke up over it. Not to mention [I lost] what I had identified myself as, which was a U.S. soldier, a very patriotic American. At the same time, I did what I felt was the right thing to do -- which was not to participate in something I knew to be wrong. So I don't regret doing that."

Meanwhile Lance Hering's parents have
been interviewed by Jodi Brooks for Boulder's CBS affiliate (CBS4). Hering, a marine who served in Iraq, was on leave and back in the United States when he disappeared on an August 29th hike. Hering, whose rank is Lance Cpl., has no made press statements but the friend he was hiking with has maintained they staged/arranged Hering's disappearance so that he would not have to return to Iraq. That is what his friend, Steve Powers, has told the press. Hering has not spoken to the press. He may or may not be a war resister. His parents, Lloyd and Ellyne Hering, tell Brooks that Lance's disappearance has led them to begin "talking about the war. Lloyd said he and Ellyne realized that supporting the troops meant stopping the war. Lloyd and Ellyne have traveled to Washington, D.C. twice to urge Congress to stop funding the war. Ellyne writes postcards as part of a nationwide campaign to stop special appropriations for Iraq." Lloyd Hering tells Brooks: "We're here to help him whenever he decides to come back. He'll get legal help, financial help, counseling help, and all the love that we can provide anytime he comes back."

Also in the United States, the House of Representatives passed their nonbinding resolution opposing Bully Boy's planned escalation of US troops in Iraq. As noted by Kris Welch in the middle of
KPFA's Living Room, the vote was 246 in favor of the resolution and 182 against. Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) puts it this way: "The House of Representatives renounced President George W. Bush's latest strategy to resolve the four-year war in Iraq, passing a nonbinding resolution that disapproves of his decision to send about 21,000 more U.S. troops to the conflict. The vote may be the strongest rebuke of a president during wartime since Congress in 1970 rescinded the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that authorized military action in Southeast Asia." Susan Cornwell (Reuters) notes the measure was "symoblic but politically potent". M.E. Sprengelmeyer (Rocky Mountain News) offers excerpts (text) of statements made during the days of deliberation by Colorado Representatives and KPFA has exceprts (audio) of Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, John Conyers, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Thompson, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Mike Honda, Ellen Tauscher. As CNN notes, the Senate now prepares to vote on the resolution tomorrow (yes, that is Saturday, yes they will be in session).

US Rep Dennis Kucinch noted that the measure "is a nonbinding resolution. The war, however, is binding. The real -- and Constitutional -- power of Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, is to cut off fund for an immoral and illegal war. Money is there right now to bring our troops home, and bringing our brave troops home is part of a plan that involves enlisting the support of the United Nations to mobilize international peacekeepers so our men and women can come home. I have a 12-point plan which I have circulated among Members of Congress as to how we can get out of Iraq. The American people will not tolerate nonbinding resolutions as being an excuse for strong and substantive action to end the war as quickly as possible." Meanwhile Reps Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters issued their statement on the measure yesterday as well (Roll Call via Truthout): "Contrary to Republican claims that Democrats have no alternative plan for Iraq, there are in fact several on the table. Our own comprehensive bill, the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Resotration Act, would complete a fully funded military withdrawal from Iraq within six months while ensuring that our troops and contractors leave safely and accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces. In addition, our bill would remove the specter of an endless occupation by preventing the establishment of permanent military bases and reiterate our commitment, at the invitation of the Iraqi government, to working with the international community to assist Iraq in its reconstruction and reconciliation efforts. We also would stand ready, if asked by the Iraqis, to participate in an international stabilization force."

US Rep Maxine Waters is
BuzzFlash's Wings of Justice honoree for the week and among the examples cited is this statement Waters made on the House floor: "The citizens of this country are sick and tired of this war. It is not enough to talk the talk. You have got to walk the walk. They know the difference between nuancing and posturing, and they want action.
. . . They will know whether or not we mean business if we are prepared to stop funding this war."

Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) surveys Soviet veterans of the Afghanistan war and learns "many soldiers who fought there believe they're seeing history repeat itself. The United States -- then the force behind the Afghan resistance -- now appears trapped in a similar downward spiral in Iraq, besieged by a collection of forces not unlike those it trained and equipped to crippled the Soviets two decades ago." This as AP notes that Philip H. Bloom "whose companies made more than $8 million in Iraq reconstruction money through a gifts-for contracts scheme was sentenced Friday to nearly four years in prison." And as the AP reports that "three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done. . . Of the $10 billion in overpriced contracts or undocumented costs, more than $2,7 billion were charged by Halliburton Co., the oil-field services company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney."

Would you rather have health insurance
you can actually aford, or bomb Iraq?
Would you rather have enough inspectors
to keep your kids from getting poisoned
by bad hamburgers, or bomb Iraq?
Would you rather breate clean air
and drink water free from pesticides
and upriver sh*t, or bomb Iraq?
-- "Choices," by Marge Piercy, Poets Against The War, p. 179

Stephany Kerns (Military Families Speak Out, mother of Nickolas Schiavoni who was killed November 15, 2005 in Iraq) writes: "Every time I hear George Bush talk about his determination to make those tax cuts of his permanent it makes me so upset. In reality, he is setting up this scenario: military families grandchildren will be part of the population that pays for this war. If these tax cuts are made permanent, it won't be George Bush or Dick Cheney's grandchildren that pay for it. It will be your grandchildren and my grandchildren who pay. Yes, my grandchildren, who lost their father in this war, will pay for the war that killed their Dad." Grandparents are in other binds as well. Donna St. George (Washington Post) reports on children being raised by grandparents when their parent dies in Iraq and finds that it's not at all uncommon for the $100,000 benefit to either be held (until the child turns 18) or to go elsewhere (such as the husband of Hannah McKinney who got her $400,000 life insurance but is not taking care of her son -- her parents Barbie and Matt Heavrin are.) The stories are all too common and the lack of foresight and compassion on the part of the US administration (can't have it all when you're rushing into an illegal war) is echoed in the (mis)treatment of veterans. Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports on the lack of a support system, the lack of money and the lack of oversight in the supposed 'care' for returning veterans.

In Iraq? It's Friday. There's never a great deal of reporting coming out of Iraq about Iraqis. Officials? Maybe on a day where they issue non-stop statements.


Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Kirkuk that killed one person and left three more wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an IED killed one Iraqi soldier and left another wounded in Baghdad.


Reuters notes the discovery of eleven corpses in Baghdad and four in Mosul.

Kim Gamel (AP) reports that Iraqi Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi claims the "only 10 bodies" (eleven) demonstrates "a big reduction in terror and killing operations in Baghdad" because the average is 40 or 50 corpses and that his remarks were echoed by US Major General Joseph Fil. Really? I suppose some will buy it, some idiots.

But the reality is the figures come from Iraqi officials and US officials. Which may be why many have ignored noting the deaths in the past few days. So citing a decrease in figures you largely control the release of really proves nothing. That also explains why the shooting deaths the press is reporting today are from Thursday. (As
AFP notes, they previously tried to pitch five corpses as success.) It'll be interesting to see if "___ died February 16th" announcements are released tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday by the US military.

Ned Parker and Michael Evans (Times of London) paint a more accurate picture of the latest 'extreme crackdown' in Baghdad noting that both it "and Basra ground to a halt yesterday" which is why the crackdown -- ongoing since June in Baghdad -- has never been a 'strategy' or a 'plan.' It's a holding move and every few weeks, the US administration and the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, increase it even more.

Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) offers four points to end the illegal war and occupation and we'll focus on the first: "Stop funding a sectarian Baghdad regime based on lethal militias. . . . . The coalition is carrying out ethnic cleansing in the name of security. Baghdad, once a mixed city of five million people, is dominated by a huge Shi'a majority." [Hayden recommends the creation of a transitional regime.]

CODEPINK, Ralph Nader, the Green Party and other activists are forming Pelosi Watch "to get Pelosi to take the lead in efforts to defund the war and get all U.S. troops out of the Middle East."

Nader spoke with Kris Welch today on
KPFA's Living Room and noted of the two party system that encourages cowardice, "We've got to really ask ourselves, 'What's our breaking point?' . . . [when you make no demands] You just say, 'You've got my vote, take it and run with it.' If you don't make demands . . . the corporate interests are pulling in the other directions 24 hours a day. which is why both parties get worse when you engage in least worst voting without putting demands on the least worst candidate." He also noted that, "The Democrats have become very good in the last 20 years at electing very bad Republicans."

Finally, as
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "College and high school students across the nation walked out class Thursday in a national student strike against the Iraq war. In California, an estimated 1,000 students at UC Santa Barbara blocked traffic on a freeway. Up to 3,000 students turned out for an anti-war rally at UC Berkeley. And at least four hundred rallied at Columbia University here in New York. More than a dozen other schools took part around the country."