Saturday, November 25, 2006

Reality in the Kitchen

Margaret e-mailed with a complaint, if she eats anymore raw broccoli or cauliflower, she says she's swearing off vegetables for good. Why is she eating so much?

Her grocer has had a sale on the two for over two weeks. She says she knows how to steam and how to boil them but that's all and is she's sick of both.

So we'll try something here. First, when boiling vegetables, you want them cooked, not overcooked. I steam many of my vegetables, but I will boil still. Boiling does destroy more nutrients than steaming (or microwaving). If you've never boiled a vegetable, you want it flexible. The longer you allow it to boil, the more nutrients will be lost. (They are in the water and you can use that for a vegetable stock.) Since these are both vegetables that you can enjoy crips, I'd suggest first time boilers place them in pans of water, then bring the water to a fast boil and allow to boil for three minutes. Turn off the stove burners, remove them from heat and break off a piece to taste. If you're pleased with the taste, remove from the water. If you're not, allow them to remain in the water a bit longer. The water is still hot and they will continue to cook until the water cools.

What follows is a simple recipe and it may seem like all you've done is boiled and butter. I checked with Margaret and all she does is boil, put it on a plate and sprinkle some grated cheese over it.

You'll need:
a head of cauliflower
broccoli, most is in three bunches with a rubber band around the bottom of the stalks
paprika, cut off the stalks and stems so you're only using the tops
1/4 cup melted butter

Boil (or steam) the broccoli and cauliflower. Not in the same pan. If you've never boiled broccoli before, let me warn you the water turns green. You don't want your cauliflower to turn green.
Put the caulflower in a serving dish (you can use a large plate). Arrange the brocoli around it. Pour the melted butter over the top of the cauliflower where it will then travel down. Sprinkle with paprika.

I'm neutral on paprika as a spice. In this case, it makes the dish and really adds a strong flavor.
I passed it on to Margaret who tried it out and enjoyed it. She also added that, when boiling, she either serves it with cheese sprinkled on top or leaves it in the pot and has her family help themselves. She said this was a nice change.

I'm not able to help the majority of you who wrote on Friday. I'll try to have something prepared for Christmas. But a lot of you are asking about what to do with the left over turkey.
I have a very large family and come from a very large family. Left over turkey has never resulted in recipes in my family because we really don't have any. At most, there's enough for one or two sandwiches. You could cube it or shred it and add to a salad.

I wanted to talk about Tuesday's New York Times, specifically the Dining In section, and focus on Kim Severson's "Pass a Drumstick, and an Olive Branch" which struck me as the "Rest Cure" for dining. For those unfamiliar with the "Rest Cure," I'd recommend Charlotte Gilman's classic short story "The Yellow Wallpaper." The "cure" was an attempt to quash the spirit of women and to 'remove' them from the stress of life by rendering them bland.

Severson, hopefully, cooks better than she entertains.

She advises that you should avoid talk of politics at the table during Thanksgiving.

She must hail from an equally soft-headed family.

I don't mean to shock the delicate flower of feminity that I'm sure Severson must be, but the nation is at war. She can bury her head in the sand all she wants, but Iraqis and foreign troops don't have that option.

I was furious about with her attempt to circumvent the real world from entering her dining room.

I grew up with lively discussions at the dinner table. We were expected to contribute to those discussions. The holidays were no different and the only ones at the table who have ever offended my father were the guests who would think the thing to do was to recall fond holidays.
Usually around their second trip through nostaliga, he'd cut them off with, "If we could talk about something happening today . . ."

Now that may not be the case for every family. But I'm sure my family gatherings were bigger than Severson. Both of my parents came from large families and we all live in the same area to this day with the exception of one member. I myself have a large family, a husband and eight children. My husband also comes from a large family. We're both Irish, so maybe that has something to do with the sort of conversations we have around the table? Maybe the horsey-set is a bit different and shocks easily?

But in our home, we've had the same sort of dining experience and encouraged our children to weigh in with their thoughts and feelings on things happening today.

I showed the article to a friend whose husband teaches political science and she said, "If we didn't talk politics at the dinner table, we'd eat in silence."

Severson's rest cure may provide an enjoyable, bland, salt-free, flavorless dining experience and if that's what she needs, by all means, let's not rock her sinking boat; however, the fact remains to suggest that you focus on bland topics might produce a hazy coffee commercial feel, it may not, real families would probably balk at her bland dinner, it won't reflect your family.

Her suggestions don't reflect the reality of all and that's something she might want to consider before riding in on her Taste Horse next time.

I'm really sorry for her that dining together is something she can have on a regular basis. I'd argue that's all the more reason not to encourage people to play act at being something they're not.

I hope every table across the nation discussed the war this Thanksgiving. I don't care if you're against it, as I am, for it, or still searching for an opinion. The fact of the matter is the nation is at war and this is the fourth Thanksgiving in a row where the nation has been at war.

To not deal with that reality is shameful and hardly reflective of instilling 'manners,' let alone citizenship.

But does the New York Times care about citizenship? I saw it not only as an attempt to relegate women to the role of simpleton, I also saw it as underscoring the paper's reliance on 'official sources' who always know best and the rest of us should just sit on the sidelines and wait for 'the powers that be' to straighten everything out.

Even the old Dusty Springfield song "Wishin' and Hopin'" was more proactive than what Severson proposes.

My family was against the war before it started, for the most part. The few who needed to wise up did so some time ago. So no, there wasn't going to be any conflict discussing the war at the tables this year. But guess what, Iraqis are being killed, Americans are being killed, Americans are coming back to this country with lost limbs, with severe psychological traumas. To imply that you somehow deserves a segregated, safe, little world where even talking of the war cannot penetrate your bubble is not just laughable, it's disgraceful.

Whether you're for the war or against it, when you nation is at war, you darn well talk about it.
Severson wants some sort of fantasy-dinner, in a fantasy world, where reality never intrudes.

I find that offensive and shameful.

"Who cares that almost 2900 Americans have died, over 100 British, over 655,000 Iraqis, let me have my faux dinner where we all retreat and cocoon."

That's how the article struck me.

If you're family supports the war, I truly hope you talked about it. I don't mean, "Talked about it and got smart!" I mean, I hope you expressed your thoughts and beliefs. People are dying, this is a war, it needs to be recognized.

If you're family is against it, I hope you had the kind of conversations we did.

If you're family's split, I hope there was serious debate.

If you avoided it, I'm very sorry for you. I'm sorry that you think chit-chat somehow honors the people who are dying.

I can picture some Donna Reed type in a house dress, hand to head, bemoaning that her Thanksgiving was ruined, ruined!

Oh how sad that must have been. I can't imagine anything more tragic . . .

Except maybe that 14-year-old Abeer was raped, murdered and set on fire by US soldiers, one of whom has now confessed to his own actions in court and pleaded guilty.

Except maybe mothers like Cindy Sheehan who had one less plate to set because they lost their child in this war.

Except maybe someone like Danielle Green whose dream was to play pro basketball but lost a hand serving in Baghdad.

Those are just three examples, there are many, many more.

To counsel a retreat from reality doesn't make you 'tasteful' or a 'good hostess.' It makes you apethetic. I have more respect, even now, for those Americans still cheerleading this illegal war than I do for the mushy-headed fools who think they're being 'tasteful' by counseling on what is an acceptable topic and what isn't.

Advice like Severson's not only dishonors those who have lost their lives or been wounded (on all sides), it dishonors the notion of an informed democracy. The fact that her article ran in the New York Times is hardly surprising.

While she babbled and blathered, the real world was ignored. That includes real problems with gatherings.

My son Mike was very busy the morning of Thanksgiving. Family members of all ages were arriving, they needed help with dishes, he was helping my husband set up the backyard for the kids area (in a large family like we have, that's no easy feat, nor just one or two or three tables).
I was pretty much set up in the kitchen full time, doing my own cooking, warming the dishes others had brought. It was a hectic and busy time. The only newcomer this year were dates. Most of whom arrived later.

While Mike and Elaine are dating now, she was at the last Thanksgiving and every had a chance to meet her then. It hadn't even entered my mind that Elaine would be treated any differently this year. However, she was. There was a natural curiosity due to their relationship. There was also a prying uncle and cousin who were following her around tossing questions at her.

I only found out what was going on as we were getting ready to eat and I asked where Elaine was? She was out in the garage using her cell phone. Mike went to tell her it was time to eat and I wasn't thinking much of it. She'd had to return calls from or about two patients earlier in the morning and used my laundy room for that. I was assuming that it had just gotten too noisy, as even more friends and family had shown up, so she'd gone out to the garage.

That wasn't the case, as my uncle informed me. Instead she'd been asked nonsense like, "You know you're going to break Mike's heart?" And that was one of the nicer statements masquerading as a question. She wrote about it in "Thanksgiving" and she wrote about it much kinder than I would have.

For the record, my son will get his heart broken in life. All my children will, many already have. It's part of growing up and part of life. It may be due to a job, it may be due to a relationship, it might result from another questionable election or anything else.

That is life. It never stops reminding us that it isn't planned out ahead of time. If it were, as Lily Tomlin has often joked, we'd live in a world of cowboys and ballerinas and any other thing children pretend to be when they're younger.

Mike's a grown man now. I can still see my little baby I brought home from the hospital when I look at him, but he's a grown man. I've heard 'jokes' about "apron strings" for as long as I can remember. I can think of few sitcoms that haven't included them. Apparently, the aprons were borrowed on Thursday and passed out. While it's nice that people love him so much that they worry about him, there is a difference between worries and obsession.

He wants this relationship, they both do. Is someone going to end up hurt? Maybe.

Maybe not.

I don't spend a great deal of time trying to predict the future love lives of my children. I just hope that they find someone who can make them happy. That's the case with them.

When Mike was involved Nina, my only concern there was they both seemed to be rushing into marriage. Nina would have been a wonderful addition to our family. She is still welcome in my home. But the two of them were too young to be thinking about marriage. I didn't say that then because they weren't openly discussing it so my opinion wasn't needed. But it was obvious they were privately considering it.

I felt it would have been a huge mistake. Nina's planning on getting an advanced degree which means more than four years of college. She's finding herself and exploring and who will she be six years from now is unknown to her or anyone else. I'm sure she'll be just as wonderful a person as she is today, but dreams and hopes do change over time.

There was an intensity and a rush, by them and others, to turn that into the 'last' relationship by which I mean marriage. It was too soon. For anyone worried about my writing of Nina, we still speak and I called her Friday to give her a heads up to what I intended to write.

My son is very mature for his age and always has been. My only worry there is that at some point the crisis has to pop up. It will pop up. It may wait until mid-life, it may be next week. But he's always been the most responsible and while that's wonderful for a parent with a lot of children, knowing you can always count on at least one not to wonder what burns quickest and how much foam from a fire extinguisher is really needed?, the reality is that everyone needs to be a little goofy at some point. My six other adult children have hopefully gotten their wild days out of their system. (My youngest is still in high school.)

Mike may never have a crisis. He may be one of those even-keeled people who never do. I don't count on that, but it is possible.

What I do know is that Mike and Elaine are in love. They are a couple and they want to be. I was very happy when she 'broke' that news to me. He told his father and she told me. I agree with Nina completely that this was going to happen. It was obvious to everyone but the two of them. It has happened, they're a couple and they're happy. There was no reason to grill Elaine or make her feel like she was somehow endangering him. My father was calling him an "old soul" when Mike was still in the crib. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Elaine sometimes felt she was involved with an "old man." He has his silly side, but he's always been responsible. Sometimes, too responsible. I think the relationship is good for both of them and if it ends up in marriage on down the line, great. If they end up deciding to part, that's a part of life as well.

One of my daughters was miserable in her marriage. If I can really bear down in the mother voice for a moment, she married too soon. But she was going to stay in it. He was miserable as well. They thought the answer might be to have a child. When neither of you wants to be in the same room together, trust me, an infant crying at three in the morning will not make your relationship better -- unless you decided to bond together against it maybe.

But they were considering it and they were getting 'counseling' on that from the two busybodies who made themselves a real pain Thursday. As I pointed out to both, their expertise must stem from the fact that, as a result of no relationships at all, they've had a great deal of time to ponder.

They're prying with my daughter almost resulted in a minor mistake becoming a huge one. (When you know the marriage is over, you shouldn't bring children into it expecting them to salvage it.) They're prying on Thursday was so bad and constant that Elaine was seriously freaking out. She didn't need or deserve that. The next time Severson wants to fret over what could lead a happy gathering astray, she might want to visit the real world.

Even when there were a few members supporting the war, discussing it at the table did no damage. The same can't be said for the actions of 'well intentioned.' Busybodies sticking their noses into relationships are far more damaging than acknowledging the realities of your country.

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

Friday, November 24, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, over 200 die in Baghdad on Thursday, war resister John A. Rogowskyj Jr. finds that the US military feels no obligation to follow even their own written policy, Bully Boy's meet up in Jordan comes under attack, and is Nouri al-Maliki on the way out?
Starting with resistance within the US military. Conscientious objector John A. Rogowskyj Jr. was deployed to Iraq at the start of this month. The twenty-two-year-old Marine was deployed, as the
Associated Press notes, after a Marine captain recommended he be discharged, after a major said he couldn't serve in compbat duty in June, because a D.V. Odell Jr. ("commander of the Fourth Marine Division") doesn't seem to grasp what a c.o. is the policy that the US military has on them. The AP notes that Odell, a major general, found Rogowskyj to be "theologically confused and [he] does not reflect any officially recognized faith group."
Take that, America's forefathers. The slow witted Odell Junior might also make some time to check out "
Selective Service System: Fast Facts" which notes: "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest." By the military's own guidelines, Odell Junior's statements are not only insulting but ignorant. "May be religious in nature, but don't have to be." Rogowskyj was deployed as a result of Odell Junior's failure to grasp the policies the military has set in place. There ought to be disciplinary actions for Odell (busted back down to a New Orleans post?). More likely, everyone will play stupid (well the tone is set from the Oval Office).
Edward Colimore (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports that Rogowskyj declares in the court papers: "I see now that I must separate from the military with all due haste, or suffer without the forgiveness of grace, for defying the truth that I see plainly before me, that violence as a means or end cannot be tolerated."
To repeat for the slow witted Odell Junior, who not only fails to grasp the freedom of religion clause in the Constitution but also fails to grasp official military policy, Rogowkyj need not belong to any church or faith, need not subscribe to Odell Junior's notions of 'old time religion,' in order to be granted c.o. status.
Rogowskyj signed up for the reserves in 2002 thinking he would be helping stateside during national emergencies.
In Iraq, yesterday the violence prompted ABC to break in to their daytime lineup with a breaking news announcement by Elizabeth Vargas on what is being called the most deadly attack in Iraq since the illegal war began. For which ABC got the usual number of complaints, though nothing like the concerned and outraged comments they received in 2003 when they broke in to announce that Bully Boy was carrying a fake turkey around a base in Iraq.
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that 144 people were killed. That number is incorrect today and was wrong yesterday as well when AFP reported that 152 were already dead. Today, All Headline News reports that the death toll is now 202, that at least 250 more are injured with doctors not expecting all to live and that "Officials said that the death toll could rise, as body parts and bodies are dispersed throughout the city and could not be counted." The BBC reports that "at least three" car bombs were used in the cooridnated attacks on Thursday followed by mortar rounds and quotes photo journalist Kareem al-Rubaie on witnessing the violence, "I saw a car from a wedding party, covered in ribbons and flowers. It was burning. There were pools of blood on the street and children dead on the ground." Reuters places the number of bombs at six. CNN reported Thursday: "Thursday's attacks, launched within the course of half an hour, were part of a spasm of violence that shook two Baghdad bastions of support for anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- the Sadr City slum in the Iraqi capital's northeast and the Health Ministry compound, controlled by the cleric's political movement."
BBC reports that Baghdad is now under curfew and the Baghdad Airport has been closed. Reuters states that all vehicle traffic is banned in Baghdad for Saturday as well. AFP adds that the airport in Basra has been closed as well as well as "its southern seaports."
The 202 dead and counting from Thursday's attack surpasses the previous reported most violent day in Iraq. The
BBC notes September 14, 2005 as a day when there were 182 reported deaths in Baghdad.
As if the violence on Thursday wasn't bad enough, rumors floated that Dick Cheney was in Iraq on Thursday.
CBS and AP report that the White House denies those rumors. Current rumor is that Cheney was supposed to be in Baghdad and the press would be alerted after landing; however, the violence on Thursday resulted in the trip being cancelled.
Press reports continue to caution that Iraq might be on the brink of civil war which leaves one wondering how they might have reported Sherman's March to the Sea?
The violence and chaos continued today.
CBS and AP report that a mortar attack was launched at the Association of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad leaving four guards injured. This is seen as a retaliation for Thursday's attack as are the multiple attacks, noted by Al Jazeera, in the Hurriay district of Baghdad that targeted "four Sunni Mosques with rocket-propelled grenades" and claimed the lives of at least thirty. Reuters reports one dead and two wounded from mortar attacks in Diwaniya and the bombing of "an office of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's . . . in . . . Baquba". CNN reports that a man set off a bomb "strapped to his body" and one in his car in a parking lot in Tal Afar and killed at least 22 people while wounding 30 more.
Reuters reports that at least two funeral goers are wounded in Baghdad after a US helicopter fired on a funeral.
Reuters reports that thirty corpses were discovered in Baghdad while three were discovered in Mosul. Reporting on Wednesday's UN report, Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) noted that, in the September and October period studied by the UN, "Sixty-five percent of all deaths in Baghdad were categorized as unindentified corpses, the signature of militias, who kidnap, kill and throw away bodies at a rate that now outstrips the slaughter inflicted by suicide bombers."
They do so even when the capitol is under 'curfew' (and the never ending 'crackdown').
In addition,
AP reports: "Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, and seven Sunni mosques came under attack as Shiites took revenge for the slaughter of 215 people in the Sadr City slum."
BBC reports the death of a British solider in Basra and notes that 126 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The British military announces: "The soldier sustained gunshot wounds during the operation and was evacuated to a nearby military hospital. Despite the best possible medical care, the soldier later died from his injuries. The soldier was a member of the Parachute Regiment, on secondment to Headquarters Multinational Division South East, Iraq."
Thursday's attacks and today's is having ripple effects in Iraq that go beyond bombs and bullets.Tuesday,
Charles Wolfson (CBS) reported on next week's planned meet up in Jordan between Bully Boy and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. The meet up was quickly announced following the announcement of al-Maliki going to Tehran for a Saturday meeting with the presidents of Iran and Syria. The meet up with the Bully Boy is now in question.
CNN reports that, today, "Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc threatened to withdraw support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki should he meet President Bush as planned next week" and quotes spokesperson Salih al-Aleiki stating: "We announce that if the security situation and the basic services do not improve, and if the prime minister goes ahead and meets with the criminal Bush in Amman, then we will suspend our memberships with the Iraqi parliament and the government." As Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) notes, it's not an idle threat: "The United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite political parties, won 128 of the 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament in December's elections." Should the al-Sadr block withdraw their support, the United Iraqi Alliance would fall from a 128 member bloc to a 98 member one. That's on the condition that all 98 remain behind al-Maliki -- should he find new support his bloc could increase. The second largest bloc, with 53 members, is the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan which successfully backed (with US support) Jalal Talabani for president of Iraq.
The above follows on the heels of
Tom Hayden's report (for Common Dreams) that the US is putting out feelers for new governing officials in Iraq which could include the disposing of al-Maliki.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Panic in the Kitchen?

A number of readers e-mailed to say last week's post calmed them down. I was already to think "good" but then I read on. "I need something amazing!" seemed to be the tone of many e-mails. Something amazing to take to a Thanksgiving gathering.

No, you don't. You don't need amazing in the sense that people will see the dish and "ooh" over it. You're not going to a photo shoot. You'll be attending a dinner. At a dinner people eat. You want something that will be eaten. So instead of attempting a new recipe (Suzette's been trying all week to make cranberry sauce from scratch), find a recipe that's worked for you in the past -- from here or elsewhere.

The biggest compliment to something you cooked isn't, "Oh, that looks amazing!" The biggest compliment is an empty pan. With that and e-mails requesting another potato recipe in mind, I'm offering this:

Potato Strips with Cheese
3 large baking potatoes
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup or 3 ounces of cheese
Chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice the potatoes into strips the way you would if you were making fries. If you leave the skins on normally, leave them on, otherwise peal the potato skins. You need a rectangular dish ideally and it should be 10 x 7 and glass. Place the strips of potato into the dish. Pour the 1/2 cup of milk on top. Dot the strips with butter. Sprinkle with pepper and salt (omit salt for people who have to wash sodium intake). Cover the dish and put it in the oven to bake for 45 minutes at 425 degrees (on baking, remember those with electric ovens, you do not bake on the 'preheat' setting).

Are you cooking in your own kitchen? If so you will now sprinkle with the cheese of your choice. You will then sprinkle some parsely on top of that for a visual more than anything else. This is not a layer of parsley. Just a bit to give it another texture and another visual. Put the dish, uncovered, back in the oven and bake for an additional ten minutes. You are now done. (Make sure the milk has been absorbed. If not, extend for five minutes.)

Are you taking the dish to another home? Stop after the initial forty-five minute baking period. If you're dish is warm, get a cardboard box to carry it in. There are things made for carrying but I prefer a square cardboard box. Why? When you put it in the car, the dish is safe in the box. Everyone knows the box is there, they don't accidentally step on it. In a container, combine the cheese and parsley. By keeping the dish with the potato strips covered, it is staying warm. That's the entire time it's covered. So if you are unable to get it to an oven upon immediate arrival, do not panic.

You need to heat it for ten more minutes. Ask (ahead of time) whether you can use the oven or microwave oven. Either will do. You don't need to make alternate preparations for using either, but you do need to ask ahead time. When I'm cooking and people show up, I always remember who gave me a heads up that they'd need space. The person responsible for most of the cooking has enough headaches without worrying about a long list of people waiting to use their resources.
Asking ahead of time may not put you top of the list. I've often let a whiner go first just to get rid of him or her. But it will be appreciated, that you gave a heads up, by the person whose kitchen you're using. You need ten minutes of oven or microwave oven time tops. Most of the milk will have absorded during the time the lid was kept on (do not remove it) after you took the dish out of your own oven. The dish, covered, will have acted in the same way that a slow cooker does. So do not panic as you wait your turn. You also want your dish to be warm so do not get nervous if you're near the end of the line. Pies, for instance, need to cool, so they should go in before anything that's being served as part of the meal.

When it is your turn, sprinkle the cheese and parsley on top, put it in the oven at 425 degrees (don't worry about preheating unless the oven is cold) for ten minutes. You did not do this at your home because if you had, warming it up now may lead the cheese to burn. You are putting the dish in the oven without the cover. If you'll be eating within ten minutes, you may not want to put the cover back on. If it'll be more than ten minutes, place the cover back on the dish and leave it on until it's time to start eating. That will keep the potatoes warm.

If you're using a microwave, you will probably need ten minutes. Do it in two five minute periods to make sure you do not overcook the cheese. As with the conventional oven, cover the dish after you take it out of the microwave unless dinner is starting within ten minutes.

I love mashed potatoes. I never eat the dish I've just given the recipe for (or never at Thanksgiving). But I make it every year and it's always the first pan emptied. I think it's because it's similar to fries. Most children who try to avoid vegetables will eat it. (We've discussed the cheese factor before.) Many adults will as well.

If you're responsible for the turkey, people will remember and talk about that. The same with a dessert. Everything that is a side will be overlooked by most. The compliment is did it all get eaten. The reason sides are brought to a meal is to be eaten. They can also extend a turkey. Drop ins often mean that the turkey you thought was big enough isn't. A side dish that goes quickly is appreciated not just by the people who eat it but by the person responsible for most of the cooking.

Unless you are famous for bringing a green bean casserole (can of green beans, can of mushroom soup, onion topping of some sort), do not take one. Everyone makes that dish and everyone thinks they make it well. Everyone is not correct. (And you may be 'infamous' for that dish -- not 'famous' for it.) If you've never mastered it, don't bother to. That's the one thing all my friends complain about after Thanksgiving and Christmas -- how too many people brought that, how too few ate it. Because the ingredients are all canned (most use onions that are similar to Funyons -- the snack) it's apparently considered an easy dish to master. Few who think they've mastered it actually have. What you usually end up with is a running dish that no one wants to look at, let alone eat.

If you usually take that dish and are wondering, "Do people think that about me?" well . . . Unless you're prone to paranoia, they probably do think that about your dish. So drop it. Immediately. The fact that the potato recipe above is easy is one reason I went with it. Another reason is that since most Thanksgiving dinners include mashed potatoes, very few people bring other potatoe based dishes. You can bring that and be pretty sure that you're not replicating someone else's dish. If children will be present, especially bring it. They love it. (I have a nephew who has to put ketchup on it. He's been that way since he was a child and he is that way now that he's a young man. It's because they're similar to fries. And that's why the dish is popular. Don't be offended if someone asks for ketchup.)

If there's a dish you've already prepared this year and you were happy with the way it turned out, prepare it. Don e-mailed that he was thinking about the cole slaw recipe up here this summer because he made it and it turned out well. He was wondering if he could bring it since it's "a picnic food"? It's a salad. There may be some who will not eat turkey or any other meat. They'll be grateful it's there. There are salad eaters who do eat meat that will still be grateful it's there, chances are. If you bring it or another dish that causes someone to say that it's not really "Thanksgiving food," just reply that you were trying to bring something that wasn't already being brought. (Green bean casserole people tend to be the most critical of the dishes other people brought. Again, the confidence must come from the fact that all their ingredients come from a can.)

Now I'm moving quickly because C.I.'s already done this morning's entry and, due to a catching a plane, saved it to draft. Jim's posting it today. And he's waiting on me to post here so that it can be noted.

Is impeachment off the table? Nancy Pelosi has said so, but have we the people? I don't think so. This is from Cindy Sheehan's "Impeachment Proceedings" (BuzzFlash):

There are many important issues facing our nation and the 110th Congress. Minimum wage increases and universal health care are long past due. I certainly appreciate the stirrings about bringing our troops home from Iraq within 3 or 4 months, too! After all, six more troops were killed yesterday while our politicoes are playing footsies with each other! We thought that Nov. 7th was a day to celebrate! When the last of our brave young people come limping home to their relieved families that will be a joy-filled and historic day.
I believe, though, that those same troops and others who have fought so bravely, died so needlessly, and have been wounded for life deserve justice for what the Bush regime has put them through. I believe that this country and the world deserve justice for the raping and pillaging by the pirates who have stolen our liberties and inflicted torture and other pains and hardships upon the world. I believe that impeachment proceedings are the most important issue that the 110th Congress should put on OUR table.
Since I have written open letters to George and Reps Pelosi and Conyers, I have had almost overwhelming support for the ideas, but there are also some legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.
First of all, many people believe that impeachment proceedings will be seen as "political" revenge for what the Republicans have done to the Democrats for the last 12 years or revenge for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Impeachment is not a political tool as used by the Republican Congress, but it is a Constitutional remedy for elected or appointed officials who are abusing their powers. If George has not abused his powers as president and commander in chief, then no president in history has. I will not detail his high crimes and misdemeanor and crimes against peace and humanity, because all of his illicit activities have already been well documented. Justice should not be a partisan issue and if Congress took their oath to the Constitution as seriously as they take their allegiance to the special interests and to partisan politicking, George would have already been impeached.
[. . .]
Please visit
Impeach for Change to learn about the new and powerful people's movement for accountability. Sign up for an impeachment forum in your area on Human Rights day, December 10th, or organize one locally if there is not one near you. I will be speaking with, among other notable Americans, Elizabeth Holtzman, at the forum in NYC that day.
Please visit
Gold Star Families for Peace to learn about our Walk for Change campaign in the Halls of Congress on January 3rd and 4th, 2007. You can join Gold Star Family members in our demand for peace and accountability.

The second excerpt I wanted to offer is from today's paper, Rick Klein's "Meehan targeting 'don't ask, don't tell'" (Boston Globe):

Two leading House Democrats said yesterday that they intend to reverse the 13-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians in the military when Congress comes under Democratic control in January.
Representative Martin T. Meehan, a Lowell Democrat, said he plans to hold congressional hearings early next year of the House Armed Services Subcommittee, which he is likely to chair, on a bill that would allow homosexuals to serve in the armed forces.
"We will have hearings, and then we can have an honest dialogue with members of Congress," Meehan said.
"I believe, and have always believed, that once people see the facts, it will become clear that this is a policy that actually hurts national security and hurts the military."

I have seriously mixed feelings about the above. Everyone should be treated fairly and equally but with the illegal war ongoing, I'd be just as happy if no one could in right now to fight Bully Boy's illegal war. If gays and lesbians want to serve, there should be no barrier preventing them from doing so. At another time, I'd read the story and think, "I'm so glad someone's standing up." But with the illegal war . . .

If you use the link, you'll note the pundit who rushes in to talk 'cohesion.' England opened their military to service by all and I haven't heard reports that their 'cohesion' has vanished. It's a nonsense argument. Gays and lesbians have always served. They will always serve. The only question is whether they will be able to do so with dignity or be shoved into a closet.

The US military has had an openly gay member who was openly gay while serving and was able to fight back legal challenges to drum him out. Perry Watkins was his name (he's deceased now) and for information on him and this issue you can read The Third Estate Sunday Review's
"Recuriters struggle to meet lowered targets but gays and lesbians are still 'unfit'." Also please read Betty's "The Girth of the Tabby." I'm not sure whether I'm posting next weekend or not but Betty will be doing another chapter (I can't wait for that).

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

Friday, November 17, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Bully Boy's long journey to Vietnam is complete (you can refer to the various stops since Tuesday or you can take it back to his days in and out of the National Guard); Ehren Watada's father Bob wraps up his current speaking tour Friday night; Tony Blair may have lost a supporter; war resister Kyle Snyder still needs support; and the US military has all sorts of announcements and numbers including 57,000 US troops to deploy to Iraq next year.

Starting with yesterday's kidnappings -- there were two.
Reuters cover this: "Passengers from up to six minibuses may have been abducted after being stopped at a fake security checkpoint in the capital, police and local residents said" from yesterday and, in addition, there was a kidnapping in southern Iraq.

C4 reported on the mass kidnapping in Baghdad one of the few that did.* Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) noted: "Much of the day's other violence was directed at Shiite Muslims. Gunmen erected fake checkpoints in a Sunni neighborhood and seized Shiite passengers off minibuses." Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) noted: "Six missing minibuses were mostly carrying Shiites when gunmen, some in uniform, pulled them over for bogus security checks, police sources said."

The dickering over this kidnapping among Iraqi's various members of government follows the pattern after Tuesday's mass kidnapping which
Kirk Semple (New York Times) observed was being seen (by Jalal Talabani, Iraqi president) as a potential "complete collapse of the government"). Queried by Jon Snow, of England's C4, as to whether "you think there are other ministers in the government who are complicit?" in the kidnappings, Iraq's minister of Higher Eductation, Abd Dhiab, stated he did believe that and, while refusing to answer whether he personally believed the police could be trusted, he noted that "the people" do not feel they can be.

Jon Snow: You seem to be describing a situation of anarchy here?

Abd Dhiab: Anarchy clearly, nobody can deny that.

Jon Snow: But, I mean, if you feel you have to resign then in a way we're beginning to see the disengration of the government?

Abd Dhiab (in a rambling answer) agreed.
Kirk Semple noted Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi (Muslim Scholars Associaton) declared on Al Jazeera TV, "I don't know how to describe it, but it represents the bankruptcy of the sectarian government following one scandal after the other." The willingness of officials go to public with their own stark observations about Iraq comes as Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, is in Turkey. Louise Roug (LA Times) reports that al-Maliki believes the matters can wait until next week to be resolved in a meeting of his cabinet.

Bully Boy believes that the answer for a 'win' is, as
Simon Tisdall (Guardian of London) reports, "a last big push" that could result in increasing US troops in Iraq -- not withdrawing them. Tisdall also reveals that sources say "Bush family loyalist James Baker" and others on the supposed independent Iraq Study Group are now doing the bidding of the Pentagon and will include the following points as "victory strategy:"

1) Increase US troop levels by up to 20,000 to secure Baghdad and allow redeployments elsewhere in Iraq.

2) Focus on regional cooperation with international conference and/or direct diplomatic involvement of countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

3) Revive reconciliation process between Sunni, Shia and others.

4) Increased resources from Congress to fund training and equipment of Iraqi security forces.

David Jackson (USA Today) reports that Bully Boy declared in Hanoi that "he was unaware of a British newspaper report that he is considering an additional 30,000 troops in Iraq."
20,000 and, if Bully Boy's denying, chances are it's true. (Flashback to his performance of "My Guy" to Rumsfled right before the election and then, after the election, his rendention of "Hit the Road, Jack.") The
AP reports that Bully Boy has compared Iraq to Vietnam yet again and offered, "We'll succeed unless we quit." Not quite as catchy as "stay the course" but certainly many of lemmings will show up, possibly in face paint, at his domestic gatherings to change "We'll succeed unless we quit." Of course, the reality is you suceed unless you lose and, more reality, the illegal war is lost.

CNN reports it's whack-a-mole time again "as 2,2000 more Marines are being deployed to Iraq's volatile Anbar province". Interviewed by Joshua Scheer (Truthdig), US Congress Rep. Dennis Kucinich noted of al-Anbar that it's "a place which was already declared 'lost' for the purposes of military occupation. Why are we sacrificing our young men and women? Why are we keeping them in an impossible situation? Why are we stoking a civil war with our continued presence? We have to take a new direction in Iraq, and that direction is out."

This as
Al Jazeera reports Rabah al-Alwan of "the Union of Lawyers in al-Anbar governorate in western Iraq" is asserting that 211 families have been thrown out of their homes in Al-Anbar Province so that the US military can occupy them. Among the homes seized is al-Alwan's and he states: "Ten months ago, the US army seized my house and dozens of houses in the neighbourhood where I live. Residents were not allowed take any of their savings, jewellery, furniture or clothes. . . . They [US snipers] killed a lot of people, such as Ayad Mutar and Muhamad Ayad, for approaching their [own] houses to try to get some of their families' clothes and belongings." al-Alwan tells of promises to compensate families for their homes with money that never got handed over, of attacks on the homes now that the US military is lodged in them, and the continued occupation of the home have led former occupants to join the resistance.

Hearts and minds? Or are they supposed to take comfort in the empty words mouthed by the Bully Boy, as
noted by Mark Tran (Guardian of London), "One lesson is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while."
A while? What is known is that the illegal war hits the four-year anniversary in March of 2007 -- four months from now.

What is known also includes the fact that yesterday's other kidnapping, in southern Iraq, resulted in the kidnapping of at least five people. The
BBC reports that the abducted were four Americans and one Austrian. Will Weissert (AP) reports that two of the abducted turned up: an Austrian who was dead and an American "gravely wounded" -- in addition, Weissert notes that "[n]ine Asian employees" were kidnapped and that they have been released. Xinhua reports that 14 people were kidnapped and that the area was under the control of Iraqis having been turned over to them by Italy in September. Kirk Semple (New York Times) identifies the site of the kidnapping as the Nassiriya. AP places the location as Safwan. Edward Wong (New York Times) reports that searches are ongoing to find the abducted but that there are denials of any of the kidnapped being released or found.

In other reported violence . . .


Reuters notes that four police officers were shot dead outside a bank in Baghdad, that two brothers are dead from a Baghdad attack, that a civilian was shot dead in Kirkuk and "his baby daughter" injured and, in Baquba "Lieutenant Colonel Sattar Jabar, chief of police media" was shot dead. Aref Mohammed (Reuters) reports "the British military said a British private security guard was wounded in a clash with Iraqi police. The police said two policemen and another Westerner were killed" and that Zubayr was where "police said colleagues stopped an unmarked car. Western in civilian clothes inside opened fire, killing two officers and wounding two women passers-by. Police returned fire, killing one of the Westerns and wounding another." The 'Westerners' may or may not be British or American.


Reuters notes two corpses were discovered near Falluja and and two near Numaniya. CNN reports that 25 corpses ("bullet-riddled") were discovered in Baghdad today.

Also today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed by small arms fire Thursday during combat operations in Diyala province." The total number of US troops who have died thus far this month to 45, and to 2865 since the start of the illegal war. This as Donna Miles announces on behalf of the Defense Department that 57,000 US troops will being deploy to Iraq (8,300 to Afghanistan). The 57,000 will be part of the rotation to keep the total number of US troops on the ground in Iraq at 144,000 -- the increased number that was put in place last summer for the now-cracked-up Baghdad crackdown.

In other signs of the dissention in the puppet government,
Hannah Allamn and Mohamed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report that the Shi'ite dominated Interior Ministry "issued an arrest warrant for one of the country's most prominent Sunni Muslim clerics, charging him with violating antiterrorism laws." The BBC notes the cleric, Harith al-Dhari, is the head of the Association of Muslim Scholars and that he is currently in Jordan. Ross Colvin (Reuters) notes that the reaction to the warrant (issued while both al-Dhari and al-Maliki were out of the country) has been intense with the largest Sunni political party (The Islamic Party) calling it a "mercy bullet" that would put the dying government down. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes that the Association of Muslim Scholars is requesting "Sunni politicians . . . quit Iraq's government" in response to the arrest warrant and notes that: "The move came as cracks emerged within Iraq's six-month-old unity government over the numbers of government employees taken in a mass kidnapping on Tuesday and whether some were tortured and killed." In addition to the above support, Al-Dhari also received support from Sunni clerics and, as Will Weissert (AP) reports, from one of Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, who stated that the warrant "is destructive to the national reconcilliation plan." And CNN updates to note that the Iraqi government has backed off ("clarified") the warrant which they now maintain was never to arrest al-Dhari but merely to "check security files linked" to him.

In other news,
Mike Corder (AP) reports that De Volkskrant, Dutch newspaper, has reported that "Dutch military interrogators abused dozens of Iraqi prisoners in 2003, dousing them with water to keep them awake and exposing them to high-pitched noises and strong lights" and conducted by "members of the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service in November 2003 in buildings of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Samawah, 230 miles southeast of Baghdad." Alexandra Hudson and Nicola Leske (Reuters) report that the report, which emerged Friday, has already resulted in announcement from the Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp that he knew abuses were possible but an earlier investigation had not turned up anything -- now he's "announced an independent investigation into the earlier study by military police and his own conduct in the affair." As the BBC notes, the revelations come "days before the country's parliamentary elections."

Meanwhile, in England, the
Guardian of London reports that Margaret Hodge has created a stir in England. The MP Hodge is seen as an ally of Tony Blair so it came as a surprise to some when it was reported that she called the illegal war Tony Blair's "big mistake in foreign affairs" while speaking to the Islington Fabian Society where she also noted that she accepted pre-war claims because "he was our leader and I trusted him."

In peace news, Vietnam war resister
Gerry Condon has posted a letter at Soldiers Say No! on Kyle Snyder. To recap, Snyder, on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Since then Snyder has been underground, surfacing to speaking out against the war.

Condon is requesting more calls supporting to Snyder:

Thanks to all of you who have made calls to the Commanding General at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The phones have been ringing off the walls there. Now it is time to make the phones ring at Fort Leonard Wood. Say hello to Fort Leonard Woods's brand new commander, Major General William McCoy, Jr., recently returned from the U.S. occupation of Iraq (you can read his emotional address upon assuming his new command at
Here are the numbers to call at Fort Leonard Wood
Office of the Commanding General (that's how they answer) 573-596-0131
Public Affairs Office, tel. 573-563-4013 or 4105, fax: 573-563-4012, email:
We want to deliver one clear message:

Kyle Snyder is a US war resister and part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes people such as Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. That's just the ones who have gone public. (Over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.)

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. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January.

Bob Watada, father of
Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, is wrapping up a speaking tour he and Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) have been on to raise awareness on Ehren Watada. The tour winds down tonight, a full schedule can be found here, and this is the final date:

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

In addition, to Atlanta,
Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:

The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.

iraqehren watadabob watada
kyle snyder
the new york timeskirk semple
the washington postsudarsan raghavan
gregg k. kakesako
joshua scheer
edward wong

[*Thank you to a friend at C4 for calling -- repeatedly -- to pass the C4 interview on.]

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Turkey in the Kitchen

The New York Times talked turkey Wednesday. And shocked a lot of people judging by my e-mails. No, they weren't getting honest about the 'reporting' of Dexter Filkins. This was in the food section and, judging by the e-mails, people really only focused on D7.

I really think D7 can be compared to Dexy's go-go, rah-rah, feel good reporting when he was living it up in the Green Zone and failing to provide readers with actual facts (but didn't the military love him for being their personal puppet?). Why is that?

Marian Burros has left many with a false impression, just like Dexy did. While Dexy took an alarming (and appalling situation) and disguised it, Burros takes a fairly normal experience and turns it into a raging inferno.

First-time and learning cooks had high hopes for Thanksgiving and then they read Burros and everything collapsed quicker than a first time souffle. Burros used to be a writer I found useful but the paper's Dining In section really doesn't serve cooks these days. It's lively, it's attention getting, it's just not very useful.

Burros, even just a few years back, wouldn't have come off like such a defeatist in print. But she does and I'm sure the crowd that reads the Dining In section to feel superior was quite pleased with her alarmist commentary. I'm sure their heads rose a little higher, so high they may have gotten nose bleeds.

For those of you who wrote in, forget everything she wrote. You're not creating a turkey for a photo shoot, you're cooking it to be eaten. Phoebe wondered if she needed to buy two turkeys to have one on hand as a back up turkey? No.

Cooking is fun. That's something that the Dining In section too often forgets (Burros wasn't always that way). Anytime that it's not, you need to figure out whether the problem is you or the recipe (or advice).

Everyone of you can make cook a fine turkey, first time or not. We're going to start with a recipe. This is from page 144 of Jane Fonda's Cooking for Healthy Living. Long before the book came out in 1996, I was cooking turkeys with no problems. This recipe took it to another level and I'll talk about why after the recipe. For now, if you're one of the people alarmed by the Dining In section and, like Beverely wrote, thinking, "Well, I guess I'll do a ham" or, as Nicole wrote, wondering if you should just buy an already cooked bird, read the recipe and stop worrying.

1 turkey, about 10 lb (5 kg)
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith or pippin, cored and sliced
1 onion sliced

Preheat an over to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Coat the rack of a large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Remove the giblets, heart, liver and neck from inside the turkey and reserve for another use.
Rinse the bird inside and out, pat dry and sprinkle inside and out with the salt and pepper. Place the turkey, breast side up, on the rack in the pan.
In a small bowl, combine the margarine, rosemary and thyme. Brush the turkey with the herb mixture. Insert a meat thermometer deep into the thickest part of the thigh, next to the body but not touching the bone. Spread the apple and onion slices around the bird.
Place the turkey in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degress C). Roast, basting every 15 minutes with pan drippings, until the thermometer registers 175 degrees F (75 degrees C) and a drumstick moves easily in the joint, about 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Transfer to a platter and discard the onion and apples cover the turkey with foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Remove the skin, carve and serve. One servince is 6 ox (185 g).

What gives this turkey it's special taste? I think it's the apples and oranges. I had the book open on the table this morning and Elaine and Rebecca both said, "Talk C.I." I called C.I. and was told please do (after being asked why the people e-mailing me were alarmed about cooking a turkey).

This is a story of Elaine and C.I. mainly. All three met right before college. Elaine knew C.I. through her (Elaine's) brother. Rebecca met C.I. through Elaine. The three ended up living together throughout college. Elaine's parents died when she was very young (I believe she had just turned 12, her brother was 18) and she and her brother more or less raised themselves. Money wasn't a concern because their parents had planned ahead and because the family was well off. Her brother (whose name I don't intend to put in so if I do by accident, I'll be removing it) went to college and went into banking. He was doing investments which really wasn't his interest but it kept him close by. Two months before Elaine was to start college, he was offered the dream job he always wanted but it meant moving to Europe. He turned it down and Elaine found out about from one of his friends. He'd turned it down because they really were all they had. She told him to take the job, that she'd be fine and, since she was starting college, not even living close by.

That worked out very well. He was able to retire very early, so it worked out very, very well. But what Elaine hadn't thought about was the holidays especially something as short as Thanksgiving which doesn't provide the lengthy break that Christmas does. Rebecca was getting ready to go home for Thanksgiving (and cutting out early) when they learned Elaine had no where to go. Rebecca emphasizes it was "discovered" because Elaine hadn't said a word. Elaine jokes that the story always makes her sound like the child in a pleasant custody battle -- "No, you take her!"

C.I. bailed on the notion of a family get together and C.I. and Elaine celebrated Thanksgiving together which they've done "more years than I can count" ever since according to Elaine. Though Elaine maintained this morning, as she usually does, that she's not a cook, the truth is she can cook any dessert. The fanciest French dessert in the world is no problem for her even if she's never cooked it before. So they decided, Elaine and C.I., they'd split up the tasks and also to check and see if anyone else was not going home for the holiday?

They ended up with a crowd throughout college. The first Thanksgiving was the first time C.I. had ever cooked a turkey (Elaine says, first time anything was cooked for the most part). Everything that could go wrong did. They had an electric stove that went out at one point. The heating coils were too low, they finally decided and ended up rigging it from below by propping it up on a square pan and then the oven came back to life. This was in the middle of cooking the turkey. At another point, while they were attempting to set the table and clean the place up, C.I. forgot to check the turkey for a lengthy period. When they were back in the kitchen, the turkey was wrinkled. It was saved.

That's the point of the story, turkey's can be saved. It turned out to be a very juicy turkey and a very tasty one. That was due to rescuing it by constant basing and the use of many sticks of butter and chicken stock. C.I. was aware that, growing up, the family's cook had used apples. No idea why. But C.I. ended up using apples, onions and everything. They had prepared celery appetizers and the remains of the stalk and the leafy part went into the pan holding the turkey.
Elaine, who was leafing through a cookbook (which in those days were rarely simple), wondered if spices weren't needed?

The bird had been salted, that was all the spice that was used. It still is when C.I. fixes a turkey today. By following the directions for the amount of time to cook the bird and making the rest up ("and a lot of luck," C.I. says), a recipe was stumbled upon that's still used today.

The 'recipe' results in panic to anyone who peaks in the oven while the turkey's being cooked as various things are scattered around in the pan. Elaine says the stuff is 'chopped' very loosely because, the first time, when they returned to the kitchen and found a wrinkled bird in the oven, it was "a rescue mission" and C.I. was hollering for celery "NOW!" so she was just splitting stalks with her hands and handing it to C.I. who was tossing it around the bird. When it's done cooking, you put the bird and only the bird on a platter. The remains of the onions, et al, get tossed in the trash. The dressing isn't cooked in the bird. That's due to the fact that the sole cookbook Elaine had contained a recipe for cooking dressing in a pan. Since she had a recipe for that, Elaine made that her task.

The only thing that is used is a few spoonfuls are put into giblet gravy. This being their first time cooking a Thanksgiving meal, they realized they hadn't planned for everything. They had a turkey, they had dressing, they had mashed potatoes, a vegetable dish, rolls, two pies and brownies. But late into the morning, they realized they didn't have a gravy.

C.I. will tell you, and has told me many times, "I can't fry worth s**t." Outside of an egg, C.I.'s never been able to master frying. To make gravy from scratch required more than C.I. could handle so Elaine attempted to make some in a skillet. Elaine remembers it as watery with what looked like globs of goo. An early guest wasn't able to go home to Tennessee and she spoke of her mother's giblet gravy. She didn't know how it was made but C.I. was saying, "Okay, I can do this." (Elaine says that was the mantra throughout the first two Thanksgivings.)

You boil the neck, heart and livers (contained in the packet inside the bird). Then the neck, heart and livers are removed. You slice the latter two and strip the neck of meat. Flour, butter and some spoonfuls of pan drippings (from the bird) are added along with a little milk and the meat (neck, heart and liver). When the guest from Tennessee popped back into the kitchen, she exclaimed, "Oh, you've made country gravy!" They didn't know what C.I. had made, but it tasted good and everyone enjoyed it.

The point to all of this is that it's not gene-splicing. Two novice cooks (Elaine's reading over my shoulder and says "novice cooks" is far too generous) prepared a Thanksgiving meal themselves, first time out, and everyone enjoyed it.

Baros is making Thanksgiving much harder than it is. Elaine is now dating my son Mike so she's spending Thanksgiving with us this year. So Jess' parents will be handling the dressing duties at C.I.'s but, if Elaine were having Thanksgiving with C.I. this year, "I'd still be in charge of the dressing and still be using the same, basic recipe with modifications I've made over the years."
That's what cooking is. You try your best, you learn each time.

C.I. still cooks the bird the same way (whether it's fresh or frozen) and states, "I honestly don't understand what the fuss is. It's not that hard. Especially if you don't know what you're doing."
So the point of this story is to calm the thirty-four people who read Barros this week and immediately decided they couldn't cook a turkey now. You can.

On the third Thanksgiving, Rebecca's family were visiting her father's side of the family which required traveling and Rebecca wasn't in the mood. (Elaine also points out, though Rebecca swears she doesn't remember this, that Rebecca had a date for the night following Thanksgiving that she didn't want to miss with a boyfriend whom she didn't trust.) Rebecca was in charge of the appetizers but otherwise out of the kitchen for most of the day. When the turkey was pulled out of the oven, her attitude was, "What the hell is that?"

The chunks of apples, et al in the pan "frightened me." Then the turkey was transferred to a serving platter and "I had never seen a more golden turkey. I ran out of the kitchen to grab my camera because you really did need to take a picture of it."

What you need, according to C.I., to save any mishap is cans of stock and butter. The most C.I. has ever used is four cans "so have it on hand, even if you only end up using one can." I heard the story last year when Elaine spent Christmas with us and had used butter but never thought to use chicken stock. I now pour two cans over the top of the turkey and let it stream down the bird in the last two hours of cooking. (One in the second to last hour, the second at the start of the last hour.)

You'll have mishaps. The third Thanksgiving, Rebecca's first, contained a mishap that C.I. still doesn't know about but Rebecca says, "It's been years, and no one noticed." C.I. was showering and asked Rebecca to be sure to stir the gravy. "Which I did," she points out.

Rebecca is a smoker and she was smoking while stirring. An ash from her cigarette fell into the gravy. Elaine gasped and they both wondered who was going to tell C.I.? Rebecca said, "We're not saying a word." Rebecca stirred furiously and added a lot of pepper. No one knew. No one complained. Elaine says she didn't have any gravy that year and Rebecca's response to that, this morning in my kitchen, is one word: "Prude."

Rebecca swears that it tasted fine. She said to share that story because mishaps happen and you just make do. Though I've never served a guest a dish seasoned with ash, I have had spice mishaps. I'm usually rushing and forget that I've taken the top of a spice, go to sprinkle some and end up dumping the contents in. After you remove what you can, you've got two choices, water or milk, depending on the dish. You have to dilute a spice mishap.

But you learn each time and you learn to adapt. Your attitude, if this is the first time you're trying something out (especially a cooked Thanksgiving dinner that you're cooking) should be, this is going to be fun. If it's not fun, you've destroyed Thanksgiving.

For yourself absolutely because you'll be so stressed out throughout the cooking (and probably while people first starting eating) but also for everyone else. The holidays often bring their own sources of tension and you don't need to add anymore.

Check your ovens with a thermoter to be sure they are the degrees inside that the dial shows. Stock up on chicken stock and butter. And grab onto Kat's motto, "It is what it is." You'll be fine. Instead of being an alarmist at Christmas, or next Thanksgiving, the New York Times would better serve readers by attempting to alert them to think on their feet and not scaring them but the Dining In section is less and less about cooking.

On Thursday, the news came down that the US military was going to court-martial Lt. Ehren Watada. Watada signed up in 2003 and was promoted fairly quickly because of his performance on the job. When he learned he would be going to Iraq, he was advised by his superiors to study up on the war so that he would be informed and able to inform those serving under him. As he studied up, he quickly realized that the war was illegal. In January 2006, he submitted the first of many resignation requests. When that was denied, Lt. Watada had to decide whether to go blindly off to an illegal war or take a stand. On June 22, 2006, he became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In August, the military held an Article 32 hearing and the recommendation was a court-martial. Thursday, the military announced that they would be court-martialing Ehren Watada.

I'm not surprised that the military is going through with a court-martial. I am shocked that independent media has not felt this was a story worth covering. Yesterday, Rebecca's "remember the ladies? forgotten at the democracy now round-table" surveyed independent media outlets to find out who was covering it and my son Mike's "Ehren Watada's going to be court-martialed and indymedia doesn't bother to tell you" followed up on that last night. I've checked this morning and nothing's changed at those who could update today.

Now Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck and Joshua Key should all be in the independent news headlines this week. They haven't been. Mark Wilkerson is an unknown to many people. That's true of the majority of war resisters. What we do know tends to come from the mainstream media, not our independent media. With Ehren Watada, there actually was a great deal of coverage, early on, about him in independent media. Possibly, his being an officer gave the nervous-nellies of our independent press the cover they needed to hide behind?

This week, I read an e-mail from a family member of a war resister. (C.I. noted this in Thursday's "Iraq snapshot.") It brought home even more how important the stands against the war are, how they need to be covered and how many people are effected.

Today is Veteran's Day, formerly Armistice Day. It is especially shameful, as various link-fest sites do their headlines, often noting today, that they have nothing on the fact that Watada will be court-martialed. I think a lot of people are dabbling. That's not going to end the war. And if, on Veteran's Day, we can't even take the time to note the ones in the service who are saying no to war, that's a pretty sad statement about today's independent media.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday with lots of information, links and the news that Bob Watada, father of Ehren, has several events in NYC today:

Friday, November 10th. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces they will court-martial Lt. Ehren Watada, the US military also announces the death of five more US troops in Iraq, John Howard makes Australians and the rest of the world glad that there's only one of him, and David Swanson explains what really happened in DC.Starting with news on US war resister Ehren Watada. In June, Watada went public with his refusal to deploy to Iraq because the war is illegal and deploying would subject both himself and those serving under him to war crimes. In standing up, Watada became the first US commissioned officer to publicly refuse to serve in the illegal war. On August 17th, Article 32 hearing was held. [For details on Ann Wright's testimony, click here, Dennis Halliday click here, and here for Francis A. Boyle.] Following the hearing on the 17th, the US military announced August 24th that the presiding officer of the hearing, Lt. Colonel Mark Keith, had made a recommendation, court-martial. Yesterday, The KPFA Evening News reported that the US military had decided to court-martial Watada. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that "Lt. Gen. James Dubik, agreed with the recommended charges of missing a military movement and conduct unbecoming an officer." Gregg Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that conviction during the court-martial ("held next year") could result in "six years in jail and a dishonorable discharge." Honolulu's KITV spoke with Eric Seitz, attorney for Watada, who stated, "Unfortunately the army does want to make a martyr out of him. They have told us they will not enter into any agreement that doesn't include at least a year of incarceration, and that's just simply something we are unable to agree to." Rod Ohira (Honolulu Advertiser) notes the following statements by Watada after learning of the recommendation to court-martial him:"I feel the referral of the charges was not unexpected and at this time, I'm moving forward as I always have with resilience and fortitude to face the challenges ahead. . . . I think as the recent elections show more and more Americans are opening their eyes, but we aren't there yet. It is my hope that actions such as my own continue to call for the truth behind the fundamental illegality and immorality of those who perpetrated this war."
Coverage of war resisters in the US independent media has been embarrassing and shameful.
Rebecca checks in on several independent outlets only to find that none have anything on Watada this morning. He appears to getting the full-Brobeck from independent media. (CBS notes Watada here.) War resister Ivan Brobeck returned to the US from Canada to turn himself in Tuesday and he didn't even make the indy headlines. (Nora Barrows Friedman did interview him on Monday's Flashpoints.) It's not cutting it. Not for Brobeck, not for Kyle Snyder who's also been ignored after returning to the US and, on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Not for Joshua Key who learned that the Canadian government was denying him refugee status.
A list of war resisters within the military would include Watada, Key, Snyder, and Brobeck. It would also include many other names such as Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. That's just the ones who have gone public. (Over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.) It is a movement and should be covered as such. Ehren Watada's father and step-mother are currently on a speaking tour (tonight they're in NYC) and details on that will be at the end of the snapshot.
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. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January.
Grabbing headlines is Ali al-Shemari. The Iraqi Health minister announced a number for the death toll of Iraqis due to the illegal war.
AP notes that he places the death toll at 150,000. The KPFA Evening News pointed out on Thursday that is he was actually basing his 'count' on the United Nations estimate of at least 100 Iraqis dying each day "that calculation would be closer to 130,000." CBS and AP note that he rejects the number of approximately 655,000 in the Lancet Study but thinks his own number is "OK." Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) calls the number "an off-the-cuff estimate". Puppets can't go off-the-cuff or off-script which may be why AFP is reporting that the estimates being watered down (the Health Ministry is now saying between 100,000 and 150,000).
the US military has announced today "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province" and also "Two 89th Military Police Brigade Soldiers were killed and one Soldier was wounded Thursday after their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device at 12:48 p.m. Thursday in west Baghdad." Later in the day would come more announcements. This: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died today from non-hostile causes while operating in Al Anbar Province," and this: "One Soldier assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) was killed and another wounded Nov. 10 during a combat logistics patrol when their truck was hit by an improvised explosive device west of Hadithah" for a total of five deaths announced today. ICCC currently lists 24 as the number of US troop deaths in Iraq for the month, thus far (2842 since the start of the illegal war). As the numbers continue to climb, Michael Luo and Michael Wilson (New York Times) report that funerals have become so common for the First Battalion, 22nd Infantry in Iraq that planning time for services have been cut from 45 minutes to five minutes.
While the numbers (on all sides) continue to mount,
AP notes Donald Rumsfled stated (yesterday), "I will say this -- it is very clear that the major combat operations were an enormous success." Oh White Queen, get someone to help you a-dress quickly. Forgetting the illegal nature of the war for a moment, that's a bit like a drunk driver who plows into a car and kills an entire family stating, "I will say this -- I pulled away from the curb nicely."In some of the reported violence today . . .
AFP reports: "In violence on the ground, a powerful blast killed an Iraqi army colonel and his five bodyguards in the northern town of Tall Afar. Reuters notes it was a car bombing and that 17 people were wounded while, in Kirkuk, a roadside bombing injured two Iraqi soldiers.
Reuters notes that, in Yusufiya, 14 people were kidnapped (by "gunmen") and then found dead and a man was shot dead in Diwaniya. Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that three family members were shot dead in Baghdad (home invasion).
Reuters reports, "Police fished the body of a woman, bearing signs of torture and bullet wounds, from the Tigris river in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said." In addition, Christopher Bodeen (AP) informs that 33 corpses were discovered "in Baghdad and several nearby cities."
In Australia, War Hawk and prime minister John Howard's
laughable comments yesterday have resulted in more punch lines. Gillian Bradford observered to Eleanor Hall (ABC's PM) that "Whatever the opinion polls here may say here about Australians' desire to get out of Iraq, the Prime Minister isn't swayed" and he intended to ring Tony Blair up just as soon as he (Howard) finished his cricket match. Give 'em Flair, Howie. AAP reports that: "Prime Minister John Howard should tell George W Bush that he's pulling Australian troops out of Iraq when the two leaders meet next week, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says. Mr Howard will have lunch with the US president during next week's APEC meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam - their first meeting since Mr Bush's Republican party was thumped in US mid-term elections." Bully Boy gets to Vietnam a lot more today than when he 'served,' doesn't he? Meanwhile Xinhau reports: "Howard said he will commiserate with Bush in person at the APEC meeting in the second half of next week.Howard said he had always accepted that the majority of the Australian public had been against the military commitment to Iraq." Howard 'accepts' the majority opinion, he just doesn't 'respect' it.
In peace news,
yesterday's snapshot noted Cindy Sheehan was arrested outside the White House while attempting to deliver a petition (with over 80,000 signatures) calling for the US troops to be brought home. Not quite. David Swanson (Let's Try Democracy) reports she was arrested outside the White House long after the petition: "Late Wednesday afternoon Cindy decided to lead a sit-in right in front of the White House, and then -- finally -- the Park Service arrested her. The Associated Press changed the lede to its article to read as follows: 'Activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested Wednesday as she led about 50 protesters to a White House gate to deliver anti-war petitions.' Not quite accurate. The petitions had been delivered several hours before the arrest. But what the heck, it probably got more editors to pick up the story. Thanks, again, Cindy!" Swasnon outlines the events as being stalled at the gates of the White House when attempting to deliver the petition leading activists to place pages in the fence and to send pages over the fence. Hours later, Cindy Sheehan staged the sit-down.In other news of activists who refuse to hit the snooze button, Wendell Harper reported on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News and today on KPFA's The Morning Show that Medea Benjamin was among those activists participating in a rally outside the soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco office calling for troops home now.
Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Due to increased interest there have been some date changes and a full schedule can be found here. Upcoming dates include:

Nov 10, Early PM, New York City, NY., Press ConferenceLocation: UN, 777 United Nations Plaza, First Avenue and E. 44th Street Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34 Contact: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,
ltbrin@earthlink.netGeorge McAnanama,

Nov 10, 7:30PM, New York City, NY.Location: St. Paul/St. Andrews Methodist Church -- West End Avenue and West 86th Streets, Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34 Contacts: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,

Nov 11, 10AM-2:30PM, New York City, NY.,Veterans Day Parade Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapters 34 & 138, IVAW, MFSO Contacts: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,
ltbrin@earthlink.netGeorge McAnanama,

Nov 11, 3-5 PM, Flushing, NY., Location: Macedonia AME Church (718) 353-587037-22 Union St.Sponsors: "United for Lt. Watada"Contact: Gloria Lum 646-824-2710,

Nov 11, 7 PM, New York City, NY., Manhattan, Location: Columbia University, Broadway and W 116 St., Bldg- Mathematics Rm 312 Sponsors: Asian American Alliance, "United for Lt. Watada",Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34 Contact: Gloria Lum 646-824-2710

Nov 12, 11AM-1PM, Providence, RI., Location: Brown University, The John Nicholas Brown Center, 357 Benefit Street at Williams Sponsor: Veterans For Peace National Contact: Naoko Shibusawa, 401-286-1908,

Nov 12, 7PM, Rockland County, NY., Location: TBA Sponsor: Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice, Veterans For Peace National and Veterans For Peace Chapter /Rockland County Contact: Nancy Tsou,
LYTHRN@aol.comBarbara Greenhut

Nov 13 , TBA, Ann Arbor, MI, "The Ground Truth" and Bob Watada, Location: University of Michigan, Angel Hall, Auditorium B, Sponsors: Michigan Peace Works, Contact: Phillis Engelbert, work - 734-761-5922, home - 734-662-0818, cell- 734-660-489,

Nov 14, TBA St. Louis, Mo. Location: Friends Meeting House, 1001 Park Avenue Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, 314-754-2651 Contact: Chuc Smith, 314-721-1814,