Archive for November, 2009

Smoked Turkey Day

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we decided to smoke our turkey instead of bake it for our Thanksgiving feast. I was responsible for preparing the turkey which included injecting it with a butter marinade and brushing it with butter. It was by far the easiest preparation I’ve ever had for a turkey. Jake took everything from there and tended the BBQ adding wood chips and coals every so often as well as checking the temperature.

What did I learn about smoking a turkey? Surprisingly the flavor only had a hint of smoke. You could taste it on the skin and in the dark meat, but other than that it is pretty comparable to a baked turkey. For this reason I think next year I’ll prepare it with a similar recipe to what I do when baking which means massaging butter underneath the skin, adding herbs to the cavity etc.

My favorite part about smoking the turkey rather than baking it is that I was able to use all three shelves in my oven. With the root vegetables, the two stuffings, and the veggie casserole, there was actually no room to spare. I can’t imagine what I would have done with a turkey in there too. The roasting pans for turkeys are ridiculously large and they pretty much take up your whole oven. I think smoking the turkey is definitely the way to go if you only have one oven.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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New York Times


Daily News Transcript


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I can’t remember the last time that I truly experienced fabulous journalism in The Seattle Times, but here it is. Rebekah Denn details the story of a local energy bar maker who finds how difficult it is to control his product in, to borrow Denn’s vernacular, the industrial-food chain. After salmonella contamination was found in peanuts, this producer decided to get his peanuts from a small local peanut producer in would-you-believe Western Washington. Not a place known for growing peanuts. I highly recommend the article.

TWO MILES from the Kingston factory where Lunde hand-cuts his Caveman bars is an incongruous sight for Washingtonians: a small, family-owned peanut factory.

Clark and Tami Bowen run the certified-organic “micro-roastery,” CB’s Nuts, with — literally — an open door. Anyone walking into the remodeled fire station can peer from the small retail area to the factory floor, watching the peanuts move from enormous hanging cloth storage bags to the carefully tended roaster to the other stages of processing and packing.

“These guys were a lifesaver,” Lunde says, dropping by CB’s one day on the way to work. Their nuts smell better than any others, he says. They look better, more golden and robust. They taste better — a lot better.

“It’s night and day by comparison,” Lunde says. “At CB’s, I can actually go down and see what they’re doing.”

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Federally backed insurance

You may recall the lovely Dauphin Island from new stories after hurricane Katrina:

Dauphin Island is a barrier island located three miles south of the mouth of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the (Town of Dauphin Island) there are approximately 1300 permanent residents. The island is approximately 14 miles long and 1 ¾ miles wide at the widest point. The eastern six miles are inhabited while the western 8 miles are undeveloped and privately owned.

Dauphin frequently suffers damage from hurricanes and “[o]ver 5 million dollars of state and federal aid have been used to build berms on Dauphin Island.”

But what interests me about Dauphin Island these days is this:

Nearly 20,000 communities across the United States and its territories participate in the NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. In exchange, the NFIP makes Federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in these communities. Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary. Moreover, flood insurance may designed to provide an alternative to disaster assitance to help reduce costs of repairing damage to buildings.

My emphasis. I didn’t do a lot of research for this post, so it could be that I’m missing something vitally important here, but I think it’s crazy that I live in a country where you can build a house on a 14-mile-wide island in the gulf of Mexico that is right down hurricane alley and the federal government will guarantee your flood insurance so that you can continue to live there without risk, yet the federal government will not help you obtain health insurance if you have no other option.  Your health or rather your ability to live or die is less important than your vacation home. It’s really quite crazy.

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One of my favorite English classes at college was 18th-Century English literature. I found I really liked Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope and other satirists. I guess I just really appreciated a time when people talked about serious things but in no way took themselves seriously. Jeni, if you’re reading this, what was the name of that class? It was something witty like “Sense and Sensuality.” Maybe that’s it.

Seattle has been unbearably rainy for the past 2 weeks. Here’s Jonathan Swift’s “A Description of  City Shower.”

Careful Observers may fortel the Hour
(By sure Prognosticks) when to dread a Show’r:
While Rain depends, the pensive Cat gives o’er
Her Frolicks, and pursues her Tail no more.
Returning Home at Night, you’ll find the Sink
Strike your offended Sense with double Stink.
If you be wise, then go not far to Dine,
You spend in Coach-hire more than save in Wine.
A coming Show’r your shooting Corns presage,
Old Aches throb, your hollow Tooth will rage.
Sauntring in Coffee-house is Dulman seen;
He damns the Climate, and complains of Spleen.

Mean while the South rising with dabbled Wings,
A Sable Cloud a-thwart the Welkin flings,
That swill’d more Liquor than it could contain,
And like a Drunkard gives it up again.
Brisk Susan whips her Linen from the Rope,
While the first drizzling Show’r is born aslope,
Such is that Sprinkling which some careless Quean
Flirts on you from her Mop, but not so clean.
You fly, invoke the Gods; then turning, stop
To rail; she singing, still whirls on her Mop.
Not yet, the Dust had shun’d th’unequal Strife,
But aided by the Wind, fought still for Life;
And wafted with its Foe by violent Gust,
‘Twas doubtful which was Rain, and which was Dust.
Ah! where must needy Poet seek for Aid,
When Dust and Rain at once his Coat invade;
Sole Coat, where Dust cemented by the Rain,
Erects the Nap, and leaves a cloudy Stain.

Now in contiguous Drops the Flood comes down,
Threat’ning with Deloge this Devoted Town.
To Shops in Crouds the dagled Females fly,
Pretend to cheapen Goods, but nothing buy.
The Templer spruce, while ev’ry Spout’s a-broach,
Stays till ’tis fair, yet seems to call a Coach.
The tuck’d-up Sempstress walks with hasty Strides,
While Streams run down her oil’d Umbrella’s Sides.
Here various Kinds by various Fortunes led,
Commence Acquaintance underneath a Shed.
Triumphant Tories, and desponding Whigs,
Forget their Fewds, and join to save their Wigs.
Box’d in a Chair the Beau impatient sits,
While Spouts run clatt’ring o’er the Roof by Fits;
And ever and anon with frightful Din
The Leather sounds, he trembles from within.
So when Troy Chair-men bore the Wooden Steed,
Pregnant with Greeks, impatient to be freed,
(Those Bully Greeks, who, as the Moderns do,
Instead of paying Chair-men, run them thro’.)
Laoco’n struck the Outside with his Spear,
And each imprison’d Hero quak’d for Fear.

Now from all Parts the swelling Kennels flow,
And bear their Trophies with them as they go:
Filth of all Hues and Odours seem to tell
What Streets they sail’d from, by the Sight and Smell.
They, as each Torrent drives, with rapid Force
From Smithfield, or St.Pulchre’s shape their Course,
And in huge Confluent join at Snow-Hill Ridge,
Fall from the Conduit prone to Holborn-Bridge.
Sweepings from Butchers Stalls, Dung, Guts, and Blood,
Drown’d Puppies, stinking Sprats, all drench’d in Mud,
Dead Cats and Turnips-Tops come tumbling down the Flood.

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Limericks are not that sophisticated.


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The Great Wall

With Obama’s trip to the Great Wall of China, I thought this would be an appropriate time to recycle and old post about Nixon’s visit to the wall.

From my sister:

I had to send you this quotation, which I got from the book I am teaching tomorrow, a book of poems by Yunte Huang called _Cribs_. It appears in a footnote to the poem. “Note–When Richard Nixon went to China in 1972, his Chinese hosts took him to see the Great Wall. The first thing Nixon said upon arrival was: ‘What a great wall.”

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As I ponder what direction I would like to take the blog in after my three-week hiatus, I’m thinking more photography, especially more food photography, and perhaps less politics. I’m not certain I’ll be able to prevent myself from the occasional snarky comment, but I just think that I’m indulging myself in those posts and not always entertaining the readers.

I’ve noticed some of the things I’ve blogged about get blogged about by other more popular bloggers after I’ve posted them. This is significant because I try not to post things that I’ve read about somewhere else. I guess my instincts are often right, otherwise others wouldn’t be talking about the same things, but there really is no satisfaction in being unoriginal. Or coming in first in a very insignificant contest. Where no one can tell I’m first anyway.

Besides I’ll never match Balloon-Juice for snarky comments. Man, I love that John Cole. How could I ever write something as good as this. Regarding the Stupak Ammendment in Health Care Reform legislation and the absence of a ban on viagra coverage, Cole writes:

I’m sure a lot of people have “serious moral concerns” about the government paying for erections, and as we know, all you have to say is that you have “serious moral concerns” and then no one can question your position. I know I don’t want my tax dollars paying for Senator Ensign to be able to bang his workers or Rush Limbaugh’s dalliances in the Dominican (although there is a good chance he bought the Viagra the same way he buys the rest of his drugs- on the street). If our Republican leadership and the panty-sniffing Blue Dogs can’t get it up the way God intended, with a dildo in the anus while wearing two wetsuits, I don’t see why the American taxpayer should be subsidizing insurance for the little blue pill. Public or private.

I really wish I could write like that. I probably will occasionally still link to other good pieces about politics.

I still love  talking about film, so that will stay. And I’ll probably still talk about my commute to work in Seattle; I’ve actually taken up running to work on occasion.

In the immediate future I’ll be purchasing a point-and-shoot camera so I can take pictures without lugging my SLR around. This should help on my morning runs which is where I usually see the darnedest things. Keep watching.

Photo of the Burke Gilman trail in Seattle from hopeisalot’s photostream.


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Fainting Goats

Who knew

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The Implied Observer Returns

A couple of developments in the Implied Observer’s life. Sorry I was AWOL there for a while. I had a rather important job interview at my work. This would be a transfer to another position at my same place of work. For this reason, I have been uber-focused on work and haven’t had a chance to read as much. Yesterday I found out that for all intents and purposes I have gotten the position, although an offer is not yet on the table.

I did have one amusing insight that I wanted to share on the blog. Jake was helping me with interview questions, and he said at his work one of their favorite interview questions to ask prospective employees is for the person to describe their biggest failure. The philosophy at Jake’s work is that if you are good at your job, you will be able to describe a failure because you will be able to recognize what went wrong in a certain instance and what you learned from it. The idea is that all of us make mistakes, but not all of us learn from them. In addition, if you are totally lying about your experience then describing a failure will be nearly impossible. You just won’t have the details to accurately describe a situation like that.

As soon as Jake gave me this wisdom, I immediatly thought of person who would have failed a job interview at Jake’s work.

At a GOP Presidential debate in 2000:

When a local TV reporter asked the candidates what their biggest personal mistake as an adult was, the crowd shouted her down in a tangible display of the hostility many feel toward the media.

Bush, who many assumed the question was aimed at, had a joke ready: noting that when he was managing partner of the “mighty Texas Rangers, I signed off on that wonderful transaction: Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines.”

I think you get it.

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