Friday, March 01, 2013

Ear Worms

I'm not sure why, but the other day I pulled out my CD from the early '80s musical, Pump Boys and Dinettes.

We had seen the touring company (including Tom Chapin!) in Detroit way back then, and really enjoyed the show. Frankly, the original cast recording was a bit of a disappointment, but I think most recordings are, when compared to the live experience.

Anyway, there are some memorable songs, and some not-so-memorable ones in the show, but there are two that are stuck in my head right now; real ear worm material.

The Night Dolly Part Was Almost Mine is a really fun tune, as is Farmer Tan.
OK, really fun tune is the positive part - ear worm is the negative.
I've got to find something else to displace them, now, as they're taking turns running through my head.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Little-known New Orleans Flemish Mardi Gras Traditions

The following is purported to have been translated and excerpted without permission from Flemish Life in the New World, by Anke Vandermeersch  published in Ghent, 1893

Mik van de Koningen

The large Flemish community in New Orleans has a centuries-long tradition at Vette Dinsdag (or Mardi Gras) of which far too few “outsiders” are aware. This tradition, parts of which were copied by the French Acadian refugees (also called Cajuns) when they arrived here in the deep South, is that of the festive Mik van de Koningen, now called in French the Miche des Rois (sometimes altered to Galette des Rois – the King Cake).

At the end of Epiphany, each Flemish household would endeavour to rid itself of all the soon-to-be-outlawed items, such as fat and flesh. Unlike their French neighbours, the Flemish – reputedly a somewhat “thrifty” or “frugal” race – were seldom overstocked in the fat area, but rather in that of meat: hence the Mik van de Koningen, the Loaf of the Kings.

The loaf traditionally consists of a mixture of ground beef, oatmeal, crushed tomatoes, and eggs. Typical additions would include diced onions or other aromatics, salt, pepper, possibly nutmeg, and a sauce known to Latin America as salsa inglesa - the venerable Worcestershire Sauce.

No Flemish Vette Dinsdag celebration is complete without the round loaf, festively decorated in the three colours of the kings – Purple for justice, Gold for power, and Green for faith. Adding even more to the anticipation is the hope each celebrant harbours of finding the tiny, hidden representation of the Christ Child in his or her piece of the loaf. Tradition dictates that the finder of the child, if of suitable and legal age, must host the party the next year, and provide the loaf or the beer – a sometimes difficult choice to make in that zymurgic culture!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What to Read Next - 26 Feb 2013

Doc Sidhe, by Aaron Allston

If' you've followed my posted reading, you'll have noticed that I've read this book several times, and usually rated it a 3.5 - above average, but nothing spectacular.

Why, then, do I keep going back to it when I need another book to read?

Frankly, the story is pretty good, but the writing is what brings me back.Allston manages to make most of the characters pretty real, even the ones who have no business being real at all. Further, the in medias res opening isn't just a toss-away scene to get things going, it's something that actually matters to the plot, and to the protagonist.

I haven't read them, but I've been told that Allston's contributions to the Star Wars universe are top-notch as well. Based on this book, I'm not surprised.

Now I need to find the sequel to Doc Sidhe and see what happens next.

Carnage du Jour - 23 Feb 2013

Chicken breasts. What to do with chicken breasts. Again.

Lemon chicken is pretty much always a winner ... aha! let's grab some artichoke hearts and capers and lemon ... chicken piccata sounds like a plan.

Oh. There are no artichokes. Ah, but there are fire roasted green chilis. Time for a modification.

Into a bit of cornmeal, I added the zest of a lemon and a teaspoon or so of minced garlic. That's going to become a crust, and some diced onion is needed as well.

One side of each breast got smeared with the lemon crusting, and into a pan of fairly hot canola oil they went. Once they were well browned on that side, and the crust wasn't going to stick to the pan, they got flipped, the onions added, and the juice of the zested lemon was squeezed in around the meat. A nice pour of Vermouth Bianco and a lid made for a nice, juicy piece of meat.

While the chicken finished, some chopped spinach was added to leftover rice as the side, and it all came together in a very tasty dish.

Give it a shot - it's not hard, and it's delicious.