February 12, 2010

Linking Fool Friday

Deficits matter! Or, at least they've mattered since very recently. Certainly, not before 2009.

Love this clip of Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly. Stewart presses O'Reilly on how, precisely, Obama is a socialist, and predictably O'Reilly comes up empty.

Lastly, many old ballparks aren't properly memorialized. Thus I appreciate this attempt to precisely locate home plate of San Francisco's Seals Stadium.

Posted by Carl at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2010

Chili Nation: I've been everywhere

On Super Bowl Sunday, I made chili, as I do every year. This time out I made a chil-tamale "spread"--basically a casserole of beef tamales topped with green onions, barbecue sauce-based chili with beans, and cheese. It was good, but a bit labor intensive (yes I made the tamales myself).

More importantly, though, this dish was a landmark: it meant I had made the 51st and final chili recipe from Jane & Michael Stern's Chili Nation, a cookbook featuring a chili recipe for every state in the U.S., plus DC. The chili-tamale thing represented Arkansas, where apparently they like to pile different foods on top of each other. I had been sitting on 50 for several years, actually; the amount of work involved in the recipe, plus Kristin's being allergic to corn (and thus not keen on tamales) led me to put it off for a while. But the Super Bowl seemed a prime opportunity to knock it out.

I'm surprised I haven't blogged about this book before. I picked it up when it came out in 1999 after a review in the Post, and I've quite enjoyed it. There are basically four types of recipes in the book:

  • Chilis that are iconic to a particular state: Texas red, New Mexican green, Cincinnati-style for Ohio. Not surprisingly, these are pretty much the best recipes in the book.
  • Recipes that came from an individual or a restaurant in the state: a beer-and-Jack "boilermaker" chili the Sterns picked up from a biker at the Sturgis rally in South Dakota, and the chili from Porubsky's Grocery in Topeka, Kansas. These are typically excellent.
  • Recipes where the Sterns take a state-representive ingredient and add it to chili: chocolate from Hershey, PA, or coffee for Seattle. These are pretty good, with the exception of West Virginia "Fried Bologna Chili." Won't be making that again, thanks.
  • State-representative recipes the Sterns have attempted to turn into chili, by adding chili powder and otherwise tinkering. These are more hit-and-miss. Some weren't entirely bad, like the Tennessee barbecue shrimp chili, or the Maryland crab chili, but aren't necessarily improvements on the original.

    And for your amusement, here are my top ten:

    1. South Dakota: Boilermaker chili. Pretty much everything a chili should be: spicy and filling, with the nice addition of beer and bourbon. The Sterns recommended Dallas Dynamite chili powder from Pendery's for this, and I'm grateful they did. That stuff is awesome.
    2. Nebraska: Chili over mac & cheese. This has become a staple in our house. I was skeptical about chili full of barbecue sauce, but now I like it.
    3. Arizona: Poblano, pork and cream cheese chili. It's unorthodox, but divine. The poblanos have a little bit of a kick, but it's offset by the cream cheese.
    4. Texas: bowl o' red. If the girls aren't home and I have an opportunity to cook for myself, I make this, as hot as possible.
    5. Ohio: Cincinnati-style. 'Nuff said.
    6. Alabama: beef & kidney bean chili from the Whistle Stop Cafe in Irondale. Tastes like the chili my mom made.
    7. Illinois: chili over macaroni noodles. Also makes frequent appearances in our house; spicier than the Nebraska one, and no cheese on the macaroni.
    8. Kansas: the aforementioned Porubsky's chili. Don't skip the horseradish pickles, they totally make the dish.
    9. Montana: green chili and pork stew from El Burrito in Billings. This is a bit more like the green chile stew I make, though I use like twice as much green chile, plus potatoes.
    10. New Mexico: bowl o' green. Now, I was highly skeptical of this when I first read the recipe, having lived in ABQ. Not enough green chile, and too much tomatillo and parsley, IMO; it didn't seem enough like the green chile stew I'd pick to represent the state (from the Frontier Restaurant, FTR). But I made it anyway, and it's delicious nonetheless.

I'll spare you my bottom five--suffice to say they can't all be great, but there's a lot more good recipes than clunkers. (Avoid California, though, if you know what's good for you.) If you want more, the recipes for Colorado, Minnesota (vegetarian!), and Florida are out on Epicurious. Being snowed in is a good time for chili, right? Get cookin'.

Posted by Carl at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

Ten awesome songs on my random playlist today

(Not necessarily the first ten. I'm being more selective.)

Southern Culture on the Skids "Nashville Toupee"
Joseph Arthur "Even Tho"
Sige Sigue Sputnik "21st Century Boy"
Pete Yorn "Murray"
Calexico/Iron & Wine "Red Dust"
John Hammond "2:19"
Stiff Little Fingers "Gotta Gettaway"
R.E.M. "Begin the Begin"
Guided By Voices "Liquid Indian"
Tricky "You Don't Wanna"

Posted by Carl at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2010

Snowpocalypse II: The Reckoning

Snowpocalypse II

This weekend's storm has made December's original Snowpocalypse look positively quaint in comparison. For starters, last night's snow was the usual heavy, wet kind we get around here, which put a strain on all our trees and bushes. Fortunately, we did NOT see the 25-35 MPH winds some weather people were calling for, which may have knocked one of the trees over.

But more importantly, there was the matter of the power outage. It conked out at 5:30 this morning, and it turned being snowed in from vaguely fun to "Yeah, this pretty well sucks" in short order. Normally it takes about 36 hours before cabin fever sets in too badly, but no electricity, and therefore no TV, no Internet, no hot food, and not least of all no heat, put us all a bit on edge. We weren't too keen on taking the kids outside to play, either, what with the interior temperature creeping downward. Hard to get warmed back up with no hot cocoa and the temperature at 60 degrees. Fortunately, the power kicked back on at 12:30--just as we were trying to figure out if we could set up a sterno stove to heat up lunch. I have never been more thankful for hot soup. (I am also deeply thankful for our next-door neighbor and his snowblower.)

We joke a lot about Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter," the most ridiculously blizzard-filled winter's tale ever put on paper. But this weekend has forced Kristin and I to conclude we'd be lousy pioneers. Ma and Pa did have a wood stove in their cabin, but I'd still venture to guess that place was colder than 61 degrees (the temperature in the house just before the power came back on). But we were bemoaning our fate, and wondering how low the temperature needed to get before we thought about going to a hotel. Modern wimps, we is.

Hooray for the fine people of Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, however. After lunch we did go outside and attempt to dig out a bit. The girls waded through the snow, and we shoveled tunnel-like pathways from the house to the playset, much as I did as a kid. I cooked a nice dinner, and plans for Super Bowl Sunday pizza and chili are back on track. I can't wait to down a manhattan, then sleep for like ten hours.

Posted by Carl at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2010

Linking Fool Friday

I'm posting this early, before I escape from the office as Snowpocalypse II descends upon us. If you're in the District, or otherwise close enough to Metro that you can still get out and about, We Love DC has a helpful list of bars and restaurants that intend to stay open.

I enjoy this counter-Westboro Baptist protest.

Canada: still awesome. Did you know they managed to avoid the financial chaos we've had over the past couple years? Is it just COINCIDENTAL that they regulate their banks and other financial institutions much more closely than we do? Because completely unchecked capitalism is always awesome, right?

Also, bipartisanship is crap.

Excellent piece by the excellent Joe Ponsnaski on the history of NFL Films. Via Jason and his Yankees blog, a canonical list of major league ballpark statues. I'm surprised the Nats rank so high.

Enjoy the snoo, people.

Posted by Carl at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2010

My cousin is hell of talented

Posted by Carl at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)