Thursday, October 11, 2018

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Basil Sauce in the Kitchen

 Leonard e-mailed asking about spaghetti squash.  His neighbor's given him some and he's not sure about how to cook it.  There are many ways.  The easiest is to cut it in half -- used a large knife like a butcher knife, it's easier that way.  You're going to cut it in half so you have two long pieces.  You put the pieces in a large pot -- I use a Dutch oven -- with some water.  Bring to a boil for 15 to 20 minutes -- the water (before boiling) does not go over the top, it's just about to the top.

Now you can also bake it.  That's what they do in the diabetic friendly recipe below:

1 medium spaghetti squash (4-5 pounds), cut in half, seeds removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅔ cup chopped onion

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, diced (about 4 cups; save juices)
    • ¼ cup vermouth, dry red wine or dry white wine
    • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 8-10 fresh basil leaves, torn


    • Prep
    • Ready In
    1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Place spaghetti squash halves, flesh side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife, 40 to 50 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and continue cooking until golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices. Increase heat to medium-high. Add vermouth (or wine) and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to breakdown, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in pepper and salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover.
    4. When the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the flesh from the shell and add it to the tomato sauce. Stir in basil.

    Nutrition information

    • Serving size: 2 cups
    • Per serving: 268 calories; 12 g fat(2 g sat); 8 g fiber; 37 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 68 mcg folate; 0 cholesterol; 17 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 2,368 IU vitamin A; 47 mg vitamin C; 115 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 322 mg sodium; 1,028 mg potassium
    • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (78% daily value), Vitamin A (47% dv)
    • Carbohydrate Servings: 2½
    • Exchanges: 7 vegetable, 2 fat

    So that's two ways to cook spaghetti squash.  I do love it with a sauce but I'll also eat it plain with just a dash of sea salt.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:

    Thursday, October 11, 2018.  The Iraq War continues and guess who suddenly noticed?

    REUTERS reports that last night in Anbar Province, one Iraqi military officer was killed and three Iraqi soldiers were kidnapped.  KUNA reports a Kirkuk car bombing which left two people dead and four more injured.  In other violence, Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) notes:

    Ten security personnel were killed during an attack at the Akkas oil field in Anbar province.
    In Tikrit, a bomb near a petrol station left one person dead and five wounded.
    An attack on a military vehicle in Qaim left one soldier dead and two missing.
    Five policemen were wounded by a blast in Dibs.

    An unknown number of people were killed during a clash in Gwer.

    No, the Iraq War hasn't ended.

    In a new opinion piece at THE BOSTON GLOBE, Linda J. Blimes wonders, "Is the US Forgetting The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?"  And what I say to that is, "Goodness me, Blimey, I thought you were dead.  We certainly haven't heard from you -- or Joe -- in forever.  Ten long years of silence, right?"  From her piece:

    Ten years ago in “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and I predicted — controversially — that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would cost far more than anyone expected. Fast forward to today. The total bill has spiraled to over $5 trillion, most of it paid for on the national “credit card.” Nearly 7,000 American troops and a similar number of contractors have given up their lives. With no political end game in sight, more than 15,000 troops remain on the ground. And yet Congress pays almost no attention to the wars — even though the cost continues to run at more than $70 billion a year.

    She has to reference the ten years ago because she and Joe are not objective actors.  They fell silent for Barack Obama's two-terms because they supported his presidential campaigns and his presidency and that took priority over noting the costs of war.  Barack is gone and Donald Trump is in the White House so suddenly Linda's found her voice -- IT'S A MIRACLE!  Found her voice, please note, not when Donald Trump was referring to the the cost of war back in February.  Dropping back to the February 13th snapshot:

    Let's start with the stupidity.

    You really don't need to harp on everything Donald Trump Tweets or says.  But if you do and you call him out, you need to be correct.

    Kyle is wrong -- no surprise, he works for blowhard Lawrence O'Donnell.

    WaPo Fact Check: Trump has repeated this number at least 21 times. “It's flat wrong.”

    Experts say the U.S. spent about $1.8 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001-2017. (Plus, Afghanistan is not actually in the Middle East.)

    I don't care what some WASHINGTON POST link says.  I'm not even going to go there.  And I'm fully aware that Kyle was in Australia for two years and apparently didn't think that a war the US was (and remains) engaged in was something he needed to follow.


    "Experts" say many things.  Doesn't make them right.

    Kyle types, "Experts say the U.S. spent about $1.8 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001-2017."

    I don't know what"experts" he's citing and really don't turn to THE WASHINGTON POST for reality on Iraq due to its history (only THE NEW YORK TIMES has a worst history).

    But I do know his statement is wrong.

    From March 2013, Daniel Trotta (REUTERS) reported,"The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said."

    That was almost five years ago.

    And that was Iraq alone.

    So maybe next time, when you're going to town on him, know your facts so you don't end up looking like an idiot.

    In November of 2017, THE COSTS OF WAR PROJECT estimated that by the start of 2018, the wars (post 9/11) would cost the US 5.6 trillion.  That ended up being the headline in November when it was reported on.  Now read the actual report when veterans issues are added in or just skip to Table Six where you'll find the cost is expected to be $7.9 trillion when veterans expenses and interest (the US government did not increase taxes to pay for the wars, they borrowed money to do so) are added in.

    THE COSTS OF WAR PROJECT is generally considered the expert on the issue -- not THE WASHINGTON POST.  It's run by Brown University's Watson Institute.

    They say $7.9 trillion.

    So not only has Kyle Griffin's 'fact' check made Donald Trump look more informed, it's also raised serious issues about the intelligence level at MSNBC's THE LAST WORD.

    Linda didn't speak up then because she's a partisan.  Don't mistake her for an independent voice or for someone who tells the truth.  She stays silent unless she sees a personal, political benefit.  Which is why, in October, she's writing about the costs of war when she could have spoken out in February when, remember, the press actually was paying attention to the costs.

    The press was paying attention not because they gave a damn about the costs but because they wanted to mock Donald Trump.  And because the cost was being used to mock Donald Trump, Linda stayed silent.  She allowed MSNBC and others to promote the lie that the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars was less than 2 billion dollars.

    If there's a problem, Linda, and I agree with you that there is, part of that problem is you.  Look no further than your mirror.

    Back to Blimey, now talking about silence:

    Compare this to the Korean and Vietnam wars, when Presidents Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon Johnson used their annual State of the Union addresses to highlight the expense of the wars and how to pay for them. Powerful congressional committees held multiple hearings on the cost of the Korean and Vietnam wars, and Congress helped end the fighting in Vietnam by asserting its “power of the purse” to cut off funding. By contrast, in the past 17 years the Senate and House Appropriations Committee subcommittees on defense have focused on the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan in just a handful of hearings. The same pattern exists in the fiscal authorizing committees. 
    The conspiracy of silence has been made possible by two factors. The first is the unprecedented budgetary process used by Congress to fund the conflicts. In past wars, most of the money to pay for military operations was appropriated from the regular military budget. This meant that lawmakers were obliged to make difficult trade-offs, cutting domestic programs and nonwar military spending in order to prioritize the wars. In the current wars, between 2001 and 2011, trillions of dollars were spent using “emergency” appropriations — a process normally reserved for unexpected natural disasters such as hurricanes, when money is required quickly and with minimum oversight. Since 2011, Congress has been using a special “Overseas Contingency Operations” fund that is also exempt from regular budget constraints. The fund has also been a magnet for Congress to spend money on programs unrelated to the wars that it can’t force through the regular budget.

    Yes, Linda Blimes, there is a conspiracy of silence and you are part of that. You're also part of a conspiracy of lying.  You're lying right now in the above passage.  Harry Truman, Richard Nixon and LBJ didn't Tweet.  Donald has Tweeted about Iraq repeatedly.  I know because we have to consider every time he does whether or not it's pertinent to an Iraq snapshot and, if it is, is it more pertinent than other Iraqi issues at that moment.  In the case of the cost of war, it was important that we weigh in.  Other times, it's not.

    Does anyone watch his State of the Union Address?  I don't.  I read the transcript.  I've had to watch him twice -- both for pieces Ava and I did at THIRD.  This is from one in 2005:

    But hey, we aim to please. So we looked at the TV schedule and decided that The Apprentice is the one show we could watch. After all, any show that presents the Donald as a benefactor is only fooling the willfully stupid who apparently slept through the eighties and never saw an interview with former wife Ivanna.
    There are two teams competing to win the praise of the Donald -- that and cheapo prizes. (Oh wow! Our picture taken with the Donald! That's so great! I mean it's not as though we might already have a DVD boxed set to remember him by!) The two teams are apparently dopey and ditzy.
    [. . .]
    Donald's The Art of the Deal has petered out into The Fart of the Steal. Gasbag Donald (wearing a wig even Della Reese would look at in askance) steals your time with the assumption that you may actually learn something about business. That's what the people on campus that watch the show regularly offer as their reasoning. "It's important to study business," one dewey-eyed business major told us. Yes, and switching from plain Milky Way to Milky Way Dark will help you along the road of fine cuisine as well, no doubt.
    Let's be honest, that's a self-justifying reason to cheer on someone else's humiliating public f**k-up. That's all this is about. And probably why so many losers show up on these shows. Gotta make the rubes watching at home feel like they're smarter. Why lift an audience up when you can flatter them with debasement?
    To it's credit, no one's yet to offer that they're "learning about relationships" from the show, the way they do when asked why they watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Most people will never enter the corporate boardroom and thank God for that. But we all have relationships (even if they're only one sided). So The Apprentice's skewed world view does far less damage than some of the shows pretending to educate about the human heart. That's about all we can say for it. Watch at your own risk. Donald, you're tired.

    There's another one, probably in 2009, when THE APPRENTICE became CELEBRITY APPRENTICE.  I don't watch him on TV other than that.  I don't think most people do.  But his Twitter feed certainly does get reported on and consume hours and hours of TV.  So maybe Linda should have included that?

    But she skews the world, right.  She weighs the scales.  In her world, there are only two reasons for the silence on Iraq and Afghanistan: Congress (Republican controlled) and the White House (ibid).  Strange how that works out, right?

    And strange how she won't call out the media.  Is her column one of hundreds that THE BOSTON GLOBE has published this year on Iraq?  There are 365 days in a year, they publish at least two guest columns (three?)  a day.   We're near the end of the year so surely, this has to be the 200th column, right?  Wrong.  It's not even the tenth.  THE BOSTON GLOBE hasn't even published ten columns this year on Iraq.  The war continues and it's in year fifteen, Iraqis die daily, US service members have died this year as well.  But they can't even manage ten columns in a year on the Iraq War.

    Somehow, strange, Linda misses the press when she's finger pointing.

    But the press is the problem.  They're too busy selling the Iraq War still -- via another wave of Operation Happy Talk or their silence.

     As we were noting yesterday, the rah-rah of new prime minister (and sometimes also new president) in Iraq was not reality based and was nothing but an attempt to resell the US presence in Iraq (conveying the thought: This time we'll get it right!).  As Renad Mansour (Chatham House) concludes of these developments:

    The elite and the traditional political parties remain stronger than state institutions, so the new president and prime minister will have an uphill battle translating recent developments into structural changes that make last week’s events a turning point rather than an anomaly.


    Staying with reality, we'll note this from  Zaid al-Ali (ALJAZEERA):     

    Women are bearing the brunt of Iraq's disastrous modern history.
    Despite early advances in women's rights, including the fact that Iraq was the first country in the Arab world to have a woman serve as cabinet minister back in 1959, and that Iraqi women have been allowed to train as doctors for almost 100 years, society has taken a number of steps backwards in gender equality and women's rights in recent decades.
    Today, many Iraqi women try to meet overwhelming work and family obligations with little assistance from men. Some are forced to care for their children, parents and siblings all by themselves, as men in their lives continue to fight and die on ever-shifting military fronts. To make matters worse, most extreme forms of gender-based violence are also prevalent in Iraq. In recent years, religious militias massacred dozens of sex workers and tortured journalists in Baghdad. Meanwhile, ISIL enslaved thousands of Yazidi women, many of whom are still missing today.

    In the last couple of months, another worrying trend has emerged. Between August and September, four high-profile women have been assassinated. They lived in different cities and had different occupations. They only had two common traits: They were all women and they were all successful in their respective fields.

    And in another story we've been noting, the targeting of LGBTQ community -- and those thought to belong to it -- in Iraq, Rayana Khalaf (STEPFEED):

    A video capturing the brutal murder of a teen in Iraq has sent shockwaves on social media.
    According to media reports, the victim is a 15-year-old social media personality known as Hamoudi Al-Mutairi, who was once dubbed as the "King of Instagram."
    While authorities are yet to issue an official statement on the matter, many social media users speculate Al-Mutairi was killed because of his suspected sexual orientation.
    According to Lebanese media outlet LBCI, Al-Mutairi was kidnapped from the neighborhood of Yarmouk in Baghdad.
    In the graphic video, which apparently captures the victim's last breaths, he can be seen lying on the ground with blood around his abdomen. 
    When the man behind the camera asked about his name, the victim mumbled, "Hamoudi." The man then asked about the victim's male friend, named Sajjad.

    There is much to note about Iraq, certainly enough for more than ten columns a year in THE BOSTON GLOBE.  In other news, XINHUA notes:

    The historical use of herbal medicine, also known as Arab medicine in Iraq, has thrived in the past few decades due to unrest in the war-torn country.
    In Iraq, using herbs in medicine dates back over 5,000 years to the Sumerians, who created clay tablets with lists of hundreds of medicinal plants such as Myrrh, which is a natural gum extracted from small and thorny trees.
    For centuries, the traditional Arab medicine was the backbone of treating illnesses, but at the beginning of the 20th century, the modern chemical medicine dominated, leaving Arab medicine the second choice for people.
    The traditional herbal markets nowadays are located in old districts of Shorjah, Souq al-Arabi, Shawaka and Kadhmiyah in Baghdad, but the increase of demand for such treatments pushed people to open dozens of herbs shops all over the city.

    The herbal treatment is widely wanted by many Iraqis as it proved its success in treating illnesses with fewer side effects, in addition to its low cost comparing with the chemical treatment.

    Remember that the DC Women March on the Pentagon action takes place this month:

    Mark your calendars: October 21st outside the Pentagon in DC.

    Join us at the Pentagon on October 21st. Hear from Nick Braña and others as we call for an end to the bipartisan war machine.

    Between now and next weekend's events we need to raise an additional $5,000 to cover costs such as stage and sound system rental and to fund Civil Assistance action. Can you help?

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated: