The Future is Now

Yesterday, my wife and I chatted with my parents in Virginia, via Google video-chat. I'm a big fan of the video-chat, as it offers more of a conversational feel than cell phones can if there are more than just 2 people involved; also, my dad got to show off his grizzly new scar, and my mom got to peek fondly at Nana & Grampa's kitchen behind us while we talked. After we hung up, I realized how sneaky the future can be. I can distinctly remember as kid, thinking that video-phones would be a 'eureka!' type discovery, like one day we would be talking on our home phones—maddeningly-clumped-together-spiraled-phone-cord stretched taught across the kitchen—then, there would be a 72pt newspaper headline—DANES INVENT VIDEO PHONE— and after a week of stampedes to Circuit City, we'd all be talking into intercoms while looking at each other's bedhead and bathrobes. Well it didn't happen like that all, much to the chagrin of Circuit City, but here we are: I call my parents, tell them to hop on video chat, and a normal conversation ensues. A couple more years and the streaming and sync delays will be gone, I'm sure. I submit: awesome.


Turkey Sarasota

The turkey and tomatillo stew I made last night came out especially flavorful, bright and delicious, according to my own reviews. The picture I posted previously on Facebook yielded a few requests for the recipe. I made it up as I went along, but here's my best recollection plus the adjustments I would make the next time I try it.

for the stock*:
2 turkey thighs
1 med. onion chopped
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
3-6 peppercorns
4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1/4 C. white vinegar

*it would of course, be much easier to use some chicken stock here instead, but a) homemade stock is way more fun, and b) you have to simmer the turkey anyway, so why not go for the gold...

1. put everything but the turkey in about 1 1/2 qts of water and bring to a boil, then add turkey, cover and reduce to a simmer for 45 min to an hour
2. remove from heat and put turkey in a bowl to let cool for later
3. pour the contents of the pot through a strainer and there's your stock

for the stew:
1 1/3 lb. tomatillos, husks removed
1 med ripe tomato, with an 'x' sliced in the bottom (for peeling later)
1 small onion, diced
1 rib celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic chopped finely
2 med yellow squash, into spoon sized pieces
1 lb. or so of red or creamer potatoes, chopped like squash
3 long hot peppers or a couple of jalepeƱos, or whatever your heat demands dictate
a couple of stock-worthy pig parts, like maws or hock (about 1/2 lb)
white wine
celery salt (to taste)
black pepper

1. in a sauce pan, boil the tomatillos for 7 - 8 minutes, then add the tomato and boil for another couple of minutes
2. strain contents, peel away the tomato skin, then puree the tomatillo and tomato
3. in a dutch oven or cast iron job, saute onion, garlic and celery and add pig parts to brown it for a couple of minutes
4. add puree and let simmer to thicken for about 5 minutes
5. add about 1/2 cup white wine and continue simmering for another 5 minutes
6. add turkey stock [just the liquid!] in the neighborhood of 4 C. but you'll have to adjust as necessary for a good stewy consistency, then add squash and potatoes, lay the peppers on top, cover and simmer for 1/2 hour; meanwhile, pull apart the turkey thighs into strips and chunks
7. remove the pig parts, throw in the turkey and most of your chopped cilantro, and let simmer for just a couple minutes
8. remove from heat, serve with chopped cilantro and a wedge or two of lime per bowl

enjoy with crusty bread and tell me how it goes!


Retiring to Florida

I'll be starting at Hunter at the end of January. Becky has just completed her first semester at NYU Nursing, but when you count all the science prerequisites she had to cram in beforehand, she's been in school for over a calendar year straight, with very few breaks. And so, we are taking two full weeks--count 'em TWO-- to hang in Gulf Coast winter's spring warmth. We don't have much of an itinerary beyond the pool and walking on the beach, with some trips to the movies, Super Target and thrift shops, when the weather isn't cooperative. I've had some quality ocean-hopping travels in the past, but as much as I'd love to go to Europe with Bec and run around from town to town, I think a slow-moving schedule with very few demands is the perfect vacation for us at the moment. Our family jokes about how when we're in Sarasota, it's wake up; have some coffee and fruit and figure out what we'll do for lunch; then pool; then have lunch and figure out what we'll do for dinner; then pool. Not bad, huh!


Fix Bayonets!

I just completed an American History course of the Civil War era. I loved it; it was totally cool. I've never enjoyed studying as much as I did for this class. I'm not sure if prior I'd ever enjoyed studying--probably not--so I can't say if it was just that I'm older and more curious about history, or if the class was great or it's just the material is in my wheelhouse, or what. Growing up in Northern Virginia and going to school in Charlottesville for a couple years turned out to be a dormant catalyst for my interest. Between drives on Int 81 and Rts 29 and 50, two years in Charlottesville, I'd inadvertently taken a thorough tour of the Virginia war theater. I blame Fairfax County Public Schools for this gap in knowledge. Anyway, the class was a good way to get my feet wet, as it'd been some time since I took a written exam, and I'm planning on starting grad school in January. So far I'm in at Brooklyn, City College and Fordham. I'm hoping to go to Hunter, which of course is the one I haven't heard from yet.

Apropos: if anyone is looking for a good read - University of Illinois' Lincoln Studies Center's printing of the Lincoln Douglas Debates is great. There's a small intro at the beginning of each of the seven debates, and with just a little refresher on Wikipedia re. some of the bills discussed, it's totally readable. Lincoln is a sass-master and sounds like the most thoughtfully measured and witty person who's ever lived.


Kiss & Make Up

Well, after all this talk I've come to the conclusion that I can't leave the Washington Redskins. A friend of mine from high school [also a Skins fan and currently living in Berlin] noted that I do in fact come from the Washington area, and that is an important thing to remember. He has a point. I have seen the effort it takes to remove a full-grown tree stump from the ground though, and it makes perfect sense that 'rooting' is what one does for their team. Twenty-five years a 'Skins fan makes it nearly impossible to dig up and toss out that loyalty, at least not without a truck and winch and some laborers. There's a pavlovian effect that happens wherein anything 'your team' triggers interest-- their name mentioned in a headline or on the news, their colors or logo somewheres-- and I'm paying attention and hoping it's good. That's just how it goes, and it's not something that changes, I suppose.
So, I'm sorry Redskins. I'm sorry we had to have this door-slamming-foot-stomping shouting match. A couple days after I made this decision, the Redskins-Raiders game was on here in NY. I watched it. They looked pretty sharp. Tough defensive, and more watchable offensively. I'm a big fan of their quarterback, whom they'll probably get rid of in the coming season, but what can I do besides fantasize about some giant karmic swing wherein a debilitating fiscal or physical ruin befalls Dan Snyder and the Skins get sold to a wise and philanthropic old Washingtonian who rights the ship immediately.



Well, not just yet. But I've thought this through enough that I'm not sure I can turn back. The Washington Redskins are not the Washington Redskins for me anymore. So I don't get lost in the frustration and disappointment, I'll be brief. The only reason for me to like this team is that I've rooted for them since I was 7. That's a good reason. But here's why I don't like this team. The owner. And it's not that I merely think he's a jerk, because that I could weather. He's a meddling, corrosive, narcissistic jerk. He's turned a perennially classy team into a perennially underachieving squad of overpaid mercenaries, with a revolving door policy on both coach and quarterback. It's absolutely dreadful to watch and in no way reflects what I would like in the team I root for.

So can a guy make the switch? I'm not sure. On one hand, maybe I'm supposed to just grit my teeth and stay loyal to the burgundy and gold laundry I'm so accustomed to. Of course, Dan Sn*der could be the owner for the next two or three decades, dampening my enthusiasm for the sport and making me embarrassed of my choice all the while. I'm not sure if logic or emotion are even allowed into this argument. I know a lot of dudes would say that your team is your team for life. But doesn't that involve a large degree of mindless obedience?

I'll have to continue with my escape plans and alternatives in my next post...