Daily Archive: 11/27/2013

Nov 27 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: The impoverished Republican poverty agenda

What are Republicans for? We know they are against health-care reform. They voted en masse against it, shut down the government to stop it and have voted nearly 50 times to defund it. We know they are against government spending. They’ve voted for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s draconian budgets, which would slash spending so deeply that even some Republicans are in increasingly open revolt. But those budgets don’t go anywhere. So what do Republicans propose that actually addresses the challenges facing the nation or its people?

Republican leaders are clearly concerned that their policy house is largely vacant. In his dissection of the lost 2012 campaign, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus noted that Republicans suffer a “major deficiency” – the “perception that the GOP does not care about people.” He urged a renewed effort to become “the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder.”

Zoë Carpenter: Will Congress Wreck the Nuclear Deal with Iran?

or the first time in three decades, Iran and the United States appear to have established a meaningful diplomatic relationship that disrupts the cycle of escalation towards armed conflict. The interim agreement reached in Geneva on Saturday freezes much of Iran’s nuclear program and exposes the country to extensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency in exchange for modest relief from some economic sanctions. Ultimately, the deal opens the door for a long-term resolution to derail Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

This may be the last, best shot for a diplomatic alternative to a nuclear Iran. Before the deal, Iran could have produced weapons-grade fuel in as little as a month. If Iran upholds its end of the bargain it will lose its stocks of uranium enriched above 5 percent, setting its capabilities back. The chance that Iran will renege on the agreement is real-but so is the risk that US lawmakers will undermine it by passing new sanctions.

Deborah Cramer: A Bird Whose Life Depends on a Crab

GLOUCESTER, Mass. – HORSESHOE CRABS have been around for 475 million years, making them among earth’s oldest animals. They emerge from waters along the Eastern Seaboard during the high tides of full and new moons each May and June to spawn and lay their eggs on sandy beaches. The world’s largest population is concentrated in the Delaware Bay off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware.

Arriving not far behind the crabs are thousands of small russet-colored shorebirds, known as red knots. They show up just in time to feast on the abundance of crab eggs before resuming their 9,300-mile journey from Tierra del Fuego to the Canadian Arctic. More than half of the red knots along the Western Atlantic flyway converge at this crucial springtime refueling stop, our own avian Serengeti.

But the number of horseshoe crabs has declined over the years. We’d been catching too many to use as bait to snag other sea creatures. That has meant trouble not only for red knots, whose numbers in the Delaware Bay have plummeted by 70 percent since the early 1980s, but for us.

Jessica Valenti: Birth Control Coverage: It’s the Misogyny, Stupid

Today the Supreme Court announced it will hear two cases concerning the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that companies’ insurance plans cover birth control. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties claim the mandate violates their belief against certain kinds of contraception-pitting female employees’ right to a nondiscriminatory health plan against a company’s religious freedom. (I also fervently hope these companies are fighting as hard to ensure that their unmarried male employees don’t have access to sin-pills like Viagra.) [..]

There’s also an incredibly slippery slope here-if employees’ health plans have to adhere to company owners’ religious beliefs, what happens if your boss doesn’t believe in vaccinations? Or as Guardian columnist Jill Filipovic tweeted, “What if your blood transfusions violate your employer’s religious beliefs? No surgery coverage?” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America said in a statement, “Allowing this intrusion into personal decisions by their bosses opens a door that won’t easily be shut.”

Laura Gottesdiener: The Empire Strikes Back: How Wall Street Has Turned Housing Into a Dangerous Get-Rich-Quick Scheme — Again

You can hardly turn on the television or open a newspaper without hearing about the nation’s impressive, much celebrated housing recovery. Home prices are rising! New construction has started! The crisis is over! Yet beneath the fanfare, a whole new get-rich-quick scheme is brewing.

Over the last year and a half, Wall Street hedge funds and private equity firms have quietly amassed an unprecedented rental empire, snapping up Queen Anne Victorians in Atlanta, brick-faced bungalows in Chicago, Spanish revivals in Phoenix. In total, these deep-pocketed investors have bought more than 200,000 cheap, mostly foreclosed houses in cities hardest hit by the economic meltdown.

Wall Street’s foreclosure crisis, which began in late 2007 and forced more than 10 million people from their homes, has created a paradoxical problem. Millions of evicted Americans need a safe place to live, even as millions of vacant, bank-owned houses are blighting neighborhoods and spurring a rise in crime. Lucky for us, Wall Street has devised a solution: It’s going to rent these foreclosed houses back to us. In the process, it’s devised a new form of securitization that could cause this whole plan to blow up — again.

Ellen Brown: Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance

“Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. “Control food and you control the people.”

Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.

According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.

Nov 27 2013

On This Day In History November 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 27 is the 331st day of the year (332nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 34 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1703, a freak storm over England, that had begun around November 14, peaks.

The unusual weather began on November 14 as strong winds from the Atlantic Ocean battered the south of Britain and Wales. Many homes and other buildings were damaged by the pounding winds, but the hurricane-like storm only began doing serious damage on November 26. With winds estimated at over 80 miles per hour, bricks were blown from some buildings and embedded in others. Wood beams, separated from buildings, flew through the air and killed hundreds across the south of the country. Towns such as Plymouth, Hull, Cowes, Portsmouth and Bristol were devastated.

However, the death toll really mounted when 300 Royal Navy ships anchored off the country’s southern coast-with 8,000 sailors on board-were lost. The Eddystone Lighthouse, built on a rock outcropping 14 miles from Plymouth, was felled by the storm. All of its residents, including its designer, Henry Winstanley, were killed. Huge waves on the Thames River sent water six feet higher than ever before recorded near London. More than 5,000 homes along the river were destroyed.

Eddystone Lighthouse is on the treacherous Eddystone Rocks, 9 statute miles (14 kilometres) south west of Rame Head, United Kingdom. While Rame Head is in Cornwall, the rocks are in Devon.

The current structure is the fourth lighthouse to be built on the site. The first and second were destroyed. The third, also known as Smeaton’s Tower, is the best known because of its influence on lighthouse design and its importance in the development of concrete for building. Its upper portions have been re-erected in Plymouth as a monument.

The first lighthouse on Eddystone Rocks (first picture above) was an octagonal wooden structure built by Henry Winstanley. Construction started in 1696 and the light was lit on 14 November 1698. During construction, a French privateer took Winstanley prisoner, causing Louis XIV to order his release with the words “France is at war with England, not with humanity”.

The lighthouse survived its first winter but was in need of repair, and was subsequently changed to a dodecagonal (12 sided) stone clad exterior on a timber framed construction with an Octagonal top section as can be clearly seen in the later drawings or paintings, one of which is to the left. This gives rise to the claims that there have been five lighthouses on Eddystone Rock. Winstanley’s tower lasted until the Great Storm of 1703 erased almost all trace on 27 November. Winstanley was on the lighthouse, completing additions to the structure. No trace was found of him.

Nov 27 2013

What’s Cooking: Fried Turkey

For the more daring and adventurous cooks

Republished from November 23, 2010 for obvious timely reasons.

By now you should have defrosted that frozen turkey and it should be resting comfortably in the back of you refrigerator. If you haven’t, getteth your butt to the grocery store and buy a fresh one because even if you start defrosting today, your bird might not be defrosted in time. I discussed the how to cook your bird to perfection in a conventional oven, now for a method that’s a little daring, deep frying.

Alton Brown, is one of my favorite TV cooks. Good Eats funny and informative, plus, his recipes are easy and edible. I’ve done fried turkey and while I don’t recommend it for health reasons, once a year probably wont hurt. Alton’s “how to” videos are a must watch on safety tips, how to choose a turkey fryer, equipment and, finally, cooking directions. If you decide to try this, please follow all directions carefully and take all the safety precautions.

Below the fold are recipes and more safety tips.

Bon Apetite



Nov 27 2013

What’s Cooking: Carving the Bird

Now that we are all geared up to cook the turkey to a turn. Forget the Saturday Evening Post pictures of Dad carving the bird at the table, that’s for magazines and movies. Trust me, it makes a mess and there is hardly enough room at the dining table, not to mention the danger of doing this on a slippery platter.

To start you need a sharp carving knife and a sturdy cutting board on a large surface. The New York Times invited Ray Venezia, master butcher and Fairway Market meat consultant, who demonstrates how to carve and plate the turkey.

Nov 27 2013

What’s Cooking: Gobble Tov!

Hanukkah emoticon photo hanuka13_zps37bc5de1.gif In a rare occurrence Thanksgiving and Hanukkah converge this year, with the first night of the eight day holiday beginning Wednesday night, making Thursday the first day of Hanukkah. So in many households it will be carve the turkey and pass the latkes and light the second candle of the menorah  on Thursday night. The last time this happened was in 1888 according to the Associated Press. So in the new tradition if “Thanksgivukkah,” the New York Times some recipes for variations of the traditional potato latke with versions that will go right a long with turkey and cranberry sauce. Here’s a sample that I am adding to the menu on Thursday.

Blair Moser’s Sweet Potato Latkes

Blair Moser’s sweet potato latkes photo 22wellthanksgvukkah5-tmagArticle_zpsd76a4c5a.jpg 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled

2 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled (equal in weight to the sweet potatoes)

Salt

4 scallions, finely chopped, including some of the green stems

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

3 eggs, lightly beaten

Olive oil (or high-heat safflower oil) for frying

1. Grate or finely shred all the potatoes into a bowl of large cold, salted water (using about 1 tablespoon kosher salt) and let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Drain the potatoes in a sieve, then dump them into a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much moisture as possible.

3. In a bowl, mix the potatoes with scallions and garlic.

4. Sprinkle flour over the veggies and toss to combine, then stir in the eggs and mix well.

5. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a heavy skillet (preferably nonstick). Firmly pack a heaping tablespoon of potato mixture and flatten it on the griddle with the back of a spoon. Do not crowd the skillet, but fry each batch until lightly browned, then turn and fry the other side, maybe 3 minutes per side, adding more oil as necessary.

6. Remove the latkes to a cookie sheet lined with paper-towels and keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all have been cooked.

7. Serve at once with sour cream and applesauce.

Paula Shoyer’s Apple Latkes, from “The Holiday Kosher Baker

Paula Shoyer’s Apple Latkes photo 22wellthanksgvukkah4-tmagArticle_zpsda97e548.jpg These pancakes look just like potato latkes. You can serve them either as a dessert or a side dish during Hanukkah.

1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour, plus one tablespoon, if batter is very wet

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 apples (Fuji, Gala or Granny Smith)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. Place a paper bag over a cookie sheet to use for draining the latkes after frying them. Heat 1/4 inch (6 mm) of oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.

2. Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder into a large bowl and stir. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Set aside. Peel and core the apples and grate them on the large holes of a box grater or the large holes of a food processor blade. Add the shredded apples to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, add the beaten eggs and mix.

3. The oil is ready for frying when it feels very hot when you place your hand two inches above the pan. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of the apple mixture and gently drop it into the pan, using the back of the tablespoon to flatten it. Fry the latkes for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, until golden. Drain them on the paper bag and let them cool for about 15 minutes.

4. If the batter gets very watery halfway through the frying, add a tablespoon of flour to the mixture and mix it in.

5. Use a sieve to dust the latkes with confectioners’ sugar. These are best eaten fresh but can be reheated in the oven. Store them in the fridge for up to three days or freeze them for up the three months. To reheat, place frozen latkes onto a cookie sheet and bake them in a 400 degree Fahrenheit (200 degree Centigrade) oven until crisp.

Yield: 20 latkes.

Nov 27 2013

What’s Cooking: Potato Latkes

Hanukkah starts at sundown this Tuesday evening, along with the lighting of the first candle and spinning dreidels, Potato Latkes are a must. Here is my favorite recipe Reposted from December 4, 2010

It isn’t Hanukkah without Potato Latkes, those wonderful, crispy pancakes of shredded potato and onion served with apple sauce. It’s lot easier than when I was growing up in the 50’s. Back then we had to shred them with a metal grater that often resulted in some shredded knuckles, too. Food processors have saved a lot of knuckles and teary eye from shredding the onion.

This recipe is really simple. The trick to getting latkes that hold together and aren’t “oily” is the  potato. Idaho’s win, hands down.

Traditionally, according to kosher law, when latkes are served with a fish meal they are fried in oil and served with sour cream. If they are served with meat, they are fried in chicken fat and served with apple sauce. Since, I haven’t kept a kosher kitchen in over 40 years, I fry the latkes in oil and serve both apple sauce and sour cream.

Because this recipe has no flour or egg, the latkes are more delicate and lacy. These are best served when they are fresh from the pan, so, we take turns making them all during the meal. It can actually be fun.

Pure Potato Latkes

  • 4 large Idaho potatoes, about 2 1/4 lbs.
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

In a food processor with a coarse shredding disc or o the large shredding hole of a hand grater, shred the potatoes. Squeeze them well to rid them of as much water as possible and place them in a bowl. I use a cotton dish towel to squeeze the water out. it gets them really dry. Shred the onion and add to the bowl. Add the salt and pepper. Mix well. More water will be exuded and should be squeezed and drained thoroughly.

In a large heavy frying pan (a 12 inch iron pan works best), over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons until a slight haze appears on the surace of the oil. Drop about 1/4 cup of the mixture into the oil, flattening slightly with the back of a spoon Leave a little pace between the pancakes for ease in turning. They should be about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and will flatten as they cook.

Cook about 7 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Flip and cook another 5 to 7 minutes or until the other side is golden brown. If the oil starts smoking or the latkes brown too quickly, reduce the heat and briefly remove the pan from the heat. Remove the latkes and drain on layers of paper towels Continue with remaining mixture adding 2 tablespoons of oil with each batch.

Serve with apple sauce and sour cream.

Bon Appetite and Happy Hanukkah!