Saturday, April 26, 2008

Surviving a Liquid Diet

The brutal part of my dental surgery was that they had to do some cutting into the jawbone. It's the moral equivalent of broken right now. That means even soft foods aren't in the cards for a while. What then would a dedicated epicure do?

Answer: Home made yoghurt.

You might have guessed a couple of things about me. One of which should have been that I am a total homebody. Working mostly out of the house has really spoiled me. That and being essentially a misanthrope. I don't go out much because I prefer my own company and the company of my critters. I'm into a lot of home made stuff, my bread, soft cheeses, yoghurt and such. It's much better food than what you buy.

I got into Yoghurt making a long time ago. I was on this whole "gotta cut down on sugar" kick. It would have been a lot healthier if I had quit shooting dope, but hey, first things first you know? Anyway, I am acting like a sugar cop in the store and I get a carton of plain yoghurt. When I read the label I notice that it had high fructose corn syrup in it. I'm trying to cut down on sugar and these bastards are plotting to pour karo syrup down my throat. I figure enough's enough so I start doing a little research about it.

The first thing you need is a half gallon of milk. Some people prefer skim milk, and that's fine with me. I use skim milk from time to time, but most of the time I just use what ever is in the fridge. Put this on the stove over a high medium heat. To the milk add a can of evaporated milk and 2 cups of nonfat dry milk. This increases the milk solids that are present and will improve the consistency of your end product. Heat until a covering of small bubbles is present and it is almost boiling. If it does boil it's no big deal, it just makes a horrid mess is all. The main thing you want is for the temperature to reach at least 180° for a minimum of two minutes. This kills any other bacteria that might be present and readies the milk for the introduction of the bacteria we want. Let the milk cool down to a little above body temperature (warm, not hot) and add the yoghurt starter. There might be a skin formed on top of the milk. In Poland this is called a ploika and is eaten on hunks of bread. Mine go to the dogs, if they don't get their issue they might not let me move away from the stove. For a half gallon batch, half of a small carton of plain yoghurt (and don't forget to read the label in case the syrup spies have been active in your neighborhood). The best way is to scoop some of the boiled milk over the yoghurt culture in a 2 cup measure and mix it until smooth. Stir it into the rest of the boiled milk and then transfer to a clean, airtight jar. (I like the Kerr small canning jars, single serving size) If you don't have a yoghurt maker (I love my Danvier) you can use a rack style dehydrator, or barring all of that put the stove on warm (you're going for an average temp of not less than 110° yet not more than 120° I found that the "warm" setting on the oven dial with the door slightly cracked worked just fine. If you are using the oven method you will want your jars in a bain marie which is a fancy ass french way of saying put the jars in a 12" by 8" baking pan and the add water around them. This will ensure that the yoghurt sets up evenly in your containers.

Leaving it alone for about eight hours should do the trick, but the longer you leave it in the heat the tighter your yoghurt will be. If you pick up one of your jars and it looks and feels solid in the jar, you're done.

There are some variations. In India they will take the finished yoghurt and strain out much of the liquid through a cheesecloth. It makes a cheesier, denser yoghurt. There are a lot of things to do with it from here. I substitute it for around half of the mayonaisse when making tuna or potato salads. There are lots of Turkish, Lebanese and Indian dishes that use yoghurt.

Since this isn't pasturized again there will be live culture stuff present and you'll want to make new yoghurt after two weeks in the refridgerator. Give this one a try and you'll end up hating the stuff they pawn off on you at the store as much as I do.

This was from a couple years back. I figure more people than just Konagod are reading the blog now so this might even be news to some of you.

I went through a "golden age" of yoghurt making back when I was still in Arizona. The next door neighbor had goats, the goats had milk. More milk than he could use, so he started giving me goat's milk and I started giving back yoghurt. That stuff was the bomb. Now, I'm back to out of the carton cow milk from the store. I'm casting around for some 4H kids who keep dairy cows to see if we can start trading again. I loves me some country trading.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Random Ten (Fifteen Years Clean And Sober Edition)

I spent my anniverary of sobriety mostly on the couch. I was watching the Kenneth Branagh version of "Hamlet" which is a lush, huge, and beautiful production. He does the entire play, without cutting scenes for the sake of time. So far, Jack Lemmon and Charlton Heston have popped up in little roles of no importance. Both of them have proven the old show business cliche of There are no small parts, only small actors. Watching Lemmon work in the role of Marcellus, and Heston as The Leading Player is watching two absolute masters take something small and turn it into something huge. Very well done.

I went to a meeting yesterday. I had to go, it was my fifteen year sobriety anniversary. I did my usual traditions, I bought a Big Book for the newest newcomer in the room, I gave a dollar a year into the collection plate, I turned in the chip I've been carrying for a year so that somebody else can use it. I had a friend explain to folks why I wasn't talking much. Then, I went home.

Sobriety has been the single best decision I've made in my life. All the other good decisions, like knuckling down to be the best single parent I could manage, or any other good thing in my life right now has sprung directly from my decision to quit doing drugs and stop drinking.

So, let's get on to the soundtrack for the morning.

No Seas Tonta Mujer - - - Flaco Jimenez
The Crave - - - Jelly Roll Morton
If I Should Fall From Grace With God - - - The Pogues
I Ain't Always Been Faithful - - - Linda Ronstadt (live bootleg me on guitar)
Childish Things - - - James McMurtry
Amsterdam - - - Jacques Brel
Sweet Georgia Brown - - - Django
Sweet Lorraine - - - Patty Griffen (me on the martin)
Our Love is Here To Stay - - - Peggy Lee
Nightrider's Lament - - - Jerry Jeff Walker

Bonus Track:

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy - - - Smokey Robinson

normally i don't crosspost random tens but this time i'll make an exception

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Apology for Light Blogging Period

Tuesday, I had some very major dental surgery. It was, like most dental procedures, brutal and bloody. My dentist is a compassionate man who is very good at what he does. He also knows about and respects the fact that I have 15 years clean and sober. Sometimes he respects that a little too much. He sent me home with a prescription for Motrin for the pain. Motrin didn't cut it last night. Today, since in many ways, I live in a place with a small town attitude and ethic, the dentist came over to my house and brought a new supply of pain medication.

Being in recovery, and dealing with pain medication is a whole delicate subject. After all, my body doesn't distinguish a bit between pain medication I take for legitimate conditions, and the stuff I used to do for recreation. The body doesn't know or care.

Here are some of the things I do to make sure that I keep my sobriety when I'm dealing with pain issues.

First and foremost, every physician is totally aware that they are not only dealing with somebody in recovery, they know that my main abuse was with heroin.

I also make sure that my condition is absolutely and completely legitimate. There isn't any of this "it hurts around my C4 doc. . ." bullshit. Nope, the pain that I am in right now is real. The only reason I jumped up to the major analgesics was on account of I also know that untreated severe pain can easily become more dangerous to my sobriety than the pain meds.

Here's the other thing I know. There are times when I can be following every single rule, dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" and, even though I am truly remaining as somebody clean and sober in recovery, I am under the influence of narcotics right now.

I can go to an AA meeting, and I will be going to one tomorrow. Thing is, because I will be under the influence of narcotics, I will shut the fuck up. I'll still be clean and sober, but I will, out of respect to the program that showed me how to establish this beautiful life, remain silent.

It should also apply to most blogging. Any thoughts or profound observations will easily wait until I am not swallowing opiates.

Until then, I have a stack of netflix, the basketball playoffs, and a nice collection of "mas tardes" pills. I call them that because I don't believe that there is any such thing as a pain killer. These are pain postponers. Sooner, or later, I'm going to feel all of this shit.


Monday, April 21, 2008

A Letter From Michael Moore

I received this in my in-box this morning. Thought you might enjoy hearing from Michael Moore.

My Vote's for Obama (if I could vote) Michael Moore

April 21st, 2008


I don't get to vote for President this primary season. I live in Michigan. The party leaders (both here and in D.C.) couldn't get their act together, and thus our votes will not be counted.

So, if you live in Pennsylvania, can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote -- and yours -- on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?

I haven't spoken publicly 'til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don't give a rat's ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there's a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word "Democratic" next to the candidate's name.

Seriously, I know so many people who don't care if the name under the Big "D" is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.

Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I've watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name "Farrakhan" out of nowhere, well that's when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the "F" word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama's pastor does -- AND the "church bulletin" once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!

This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!

Yes, Senator Clinton, that's how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can't win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry "Uncle (Tom)" and give it all to you.

But that can't happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.

How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come -- but it won't be you. We'll have to wait for the current Democratic governor of Kansas to run in 2016 (you read it here first!).

There are those who say Obama isn't ready, or he's voted wrong on this or that. But that's looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.

That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what's going on is bigger than him at this point, and that's a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

I know some of you will say, 'Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?' That's a damn good question. In November of '06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?

I'll tell you why. Because I can't stand one more friggin' minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I'm almost at the point where I don't care if the Democrats don't have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain't "Bush" and the word "Republican" is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that's good enough for me.

I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters -- that big "D" on the ballot.

Don't get me wrong. I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.

It's foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgement and a hope that one day we will have a party that'll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.

Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Rev. Wright up in his face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Every time she does this I shout at the TV, "Say it, Obama! Say that when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky, who did she and Bill bring to the White House for 'spiritual counseling?' THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!"

But no, Obama won't throw that at her. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be decent. She's been through enough hurt. And so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.

That's why the crowds who come to see him are so large. That's why he'll take us down a more decent path. That's why I would vote for him if Michigan were allowed to have an election.

But the question I keep hearing is... 'can he win? Can he win in November?' In the distance we hear the siren of the death train called the Straight Talk Express. We know it's possible to hear the words "President McCain" on January 20th. We know there are still many Americans who will never vote for a black man. Hillary knows it, too. She's counting on it.

Pennsylvania, the state that gave birth to this great country, has a chance to set things right. It has not had a moment to shine like this since 1787 when our Constitution was written there. In that Constitution, they wrote that a black man or woman was only "three fifths" human. On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.

Michael Moore

Cool thing. If you email Mr. Moore, there is a strong chance that he will answer personally.


Sunday, April 20, 2008


This is the old fashioned country way to make lemonade. At first your kids might not like it and insist on your giving them the old tried and true snotty green stuff that comes in a powder. I suggest that before you introduce this marvelous beverage that you simply empty the shelves. Force them to drink a glass. It helps if you make them very thirsty first. I recommend having them do barn chores, or work in the truck patch on a hot saturday morning.

Halve and squeeze enough lemons to make 1 cup of juice. Put the juice and the lemon halves in a large non-reactive pot.

Add 3 cups water and 2 cups sugar. I used raw sugar that had been in a jar with vanilla pods for a long time, but, use any old kind of sugar.

Bring the water, sugar, lemon juice and lemon halves to a rolling boil while stirring constantly. When you're done, it will look like this:

The boiling will release a great deal of pulp, more juice than even the best squeezer can bring out, and the volatile oils from the peel. This is the step that sets this lemonade apart from all others.

It's also the step that gets discarded when they begin to make lemonade on an industrial and commercial level.

Allow the lemon halves to steep in the resulting syrup while it cools to room temperature.

Once cooled, take the lemon halves out of the syrup and squeeze them again into your pitcher. Use a tea strainer to fish out any seeds, while returning the pulp to the syrup. Pour into a pitcher and cut with more water to your taste. Chill.

Serve in tall glasses with plenty of ice and a slice of fresh lemon for garnish.

After they've consumed an entire pitcher of this nectar your kids will start looking at you with hurt expressions if you ever serve that powdered crap again. Even better, they will start bringing their friends over if they are given a glass of the other stuff while visiting.

Keep a steady supply of this in the fridge during the summer and they'll write songs about you.

Mine did.


According to John McCain

and the good folks at CNN and ABC and Fox all insurgents and folks in the resistance to the American occupation are now all to be identified with the term


Not, even Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (who, by the way, weren't even there before Bush invaded)

Just. Al-Qaeda.

Fine with me. From now on I will lump all republicans together with my own label.

From now on, whenever I use the term Depraved Cocksuckers, I'm talking about Republicans.

Good for the goose and all that shit.