21 November, 2008



Over at the KisP Institute (http://www.sondrak.com/) the Headmistress posted an esoteric news snippet :

"South Korean housewives make 140 tons of kimchi, a traditional Korean dish of spicy fermented cabbage and radish. The food is to be distributed to more than 13,000 poor households."

Which immediately prompted a discussion thread of personal experiences with kimchi and other utterly oddball cultural culinary delights. Which, in turn, started me thinking of regional oddities I have experienced.

From Southwest TEX-MEX menudo and rattlesnake, to Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple to southern delights like pickled eggs and "trotters" (pickled pig's feet), the ranchers delight, "Prairie" oysters or "Rocky Mountain" oysters...and my own ongoing search for the best plate of the ubiquitous, belly-busting, All-American, road hounds delight: Biscuits and Gravy (http://theprairiemelts.blogspot.com/2007/03/biscuits-and-gravy-at-searchlight-cafe.html) I have eaten some things which others find patently offensive and inedible.

However, there is an deeply ingrained southern tradition which involves two recognized regional foods: Moon Pies and RC Cola.

DW (Dammit Womann) added to the KisP thread that when her travels take to Baton Rouge, she purchases a case of fresh Moon Pies. Which started me thinking of the springtime I spent in Florida.
The recollection of working in the Florida citrus groves in the Spring of 1967 came rolling back into mind. My college roomate and I were drinking salutations to St. Patrick and talking about his impending trip to Florida for a semester's worth of work. He asked if I would like to join him. Never being one to miss an opportunity to travel, I hollered: "Hell Yeah!"....and ordered another pitcher of beer.
Three days later, we flew into Tampa. His crusty ol' cracker grandfather met us, packed us into his ancient Ford station wagon and we headed off to Winter Haven. The experience of living with Bob's grandparents is worthy of a post all its own. Suffice it to say that I learned to jig for freshwater crab and enjoy crayfish, how to make spicy, grapefruit wine and how to "court" soft, doe-eyed southern gals.

I also learned about the southern class and caste system. How, in Florida at least, it had less to do with race than with perceived social status, education and language.

Bob and I applied for work at the Gypsum/Drywall manufacturing plants. They took one look at our skinny white college aged selves and laughed. They wanted big ass southern men not pansy assed boys. Bob's grandfather had a friend who ran an irrigation service for the citrus farmers.

He needed help and he didn't care who or how big or how educated. He just wanted bodies to set and change out irrigation pipe for ten to twelve hours a day. It wasn't rocket science and it wasn't extremely physically demanding.

We showed up for work at the crack of dawn the next day, signed our legal papers and were told where to meet the bus to take us out to the groves. Five minutes or so later, five of us, three old black men and we two young white boys, crawled into a beater of a Volkswagon bus. It was driven by the biggest, blackest person I had ever seen. His skin was purple black. He must have weighed 280 and stood 6'10". Buck was his name. From the peppering of grey in his hair, I figured him to be in his late 40's.

He gently smiled so broad and warm it would have melted February snow...and introduced himself and the other workers. They were elderly and skinny men, quiet and unsure of these "whitey collitch bow'ies" in their midst. Buck started the bus and we headed down the sandy road. About five minutes later we pulled up in front of a weathered clapboard corner market with a broken screen door and rusty tin signs which held the building together.

The crew silently piled out of the bus and into the store. Buck looked back and motioned with that engaging smile and a nod of his head that we should join them. Inside it was dark and damp, lit only by three or four bare, yellowed bulbs. It smelled of over-ripe produce, stale sweat and tobbacco. All the men headed for the cooler, pulled out a iced bottles of Royal Crown and each took a Moon Pie. At the check out, some asked for plugs or ropes of dark tobacco. One asked for a bag of "Red Man" chaw.

Bob and I followed suit, taking the iced down RC Colas and moon pies to the counter where a young black woman with dark, brooding eyes, watched our every move. We smiled...She didn't. Bob and I both smoked Pall Mall straights. These we asked for and paid out our pittance in coin.

Buck then came up and spoke to the gal. He assured her that we were OK...."jes' young'un's a-workin' fer a spell." There was that smile again! The gal's stern countenance softened.

Back in the bus, twenty minutes later and a million miles from anything I had known before, Buck pulled into a drive deep in the middle of citrus groves. There loomed a huge rusty electric well pump and head-pipe and an old tractor with a trailer loaded with 8 inch diameter, 10 foot lengths of aluminum irrigation pipe. Each length had holes drilled every 6 inches or so on opposite sides. Buck taught us the slow dance of off loading, laying pipe and turning on the pumps, taking just long enough that when we returned to the pump, we had five minutes of "settin'time" before we began moving the next line of pipe. Except for the whine of the electric motor, the deep throb of the pump and the shlosh of the water as it ran...we lived those days in relative silence. The only time we spoke was at lunch. And lunch was "learnin'time."
Once, during one of the "settin' time" breaks, the old feller who had shelled out two bits for a bag of Red Man politely asked me if I would like a taste. Hell, I didn't know anything about chew, except that Dad Anthony and Uncle Bob always had a packet of Beechnut in the logging truck up at the cabins up in the Rockies.

That day, Bob and I learned about Moon Pies and RC Cola and tobacco you didn't smoke. We learned to set and break down irrigation pipe. And we got a taste of what it meant to be a minority.

What we learned later about Buck and the crew he lead is another tale for another day.

20 November, 2008

Sixty-One and Counting

The Casper, Star-Tribune reported today that Jason Phillip's plea for "self defense" in the the assault case was denied by the Natrona District Court. Mr. Phillip was arrested for biting off the ear of Benjamin Ledford in a bar fight last July.
That, dear friends, was the first bit of news I heard this morning as I awoke to grey skies, freezing rain and a foul, cold day ahead. 61 years ago today, I popped out and began my earthly journey while Mom listened to the live broadcast of Princess Elizabeth's marriage to Prince Philip.
Mom tells me that there was a raging blizzard in Denver. Heh!.......that figures!
I think I'll leave work a little early, maybe shoot a goose...more appropriately, shoot "AT" a goose.
OH, and don't forget to wish ex-UN ambassador, John Boulton, a happy B-day. He and I are the same age.

19 November, 2008

National Ammo Day

The Other Side of Kim (hot link)

The good Corporal General Kim Du Toit, Grand Poobah of "The Nation of Riflemen" movement and basic all around curmudgeonly good guy, is celebrating his natal anniversary day. (That would be "birthday" for those of you in Yorba Linda.)

Pop on over and give a celebratory greeting.

In his honor...and for your own safety and security... Go out and buy AMMUNITION today. Try for 100 rounds of rifle and/or 100 rounds of pistol and a brick (500 rounds) of .22 rimfire.

For those of us who reload....primers, wads, cases, bullets and more powder should all be on the list.


18 November, 2008




When the last of the Olathe Sweet Corn comes to market, along with fresh Sakata Farms Roma Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Big Button Mushrooms and sweet Vidalia Onions. Its a perfect time to crank up the charcoal grill.

The above is the plating of the following menu:

- Beer Marinated Chicken Breasts - skinned and boned, Red Bird Farms Chicken Breasts lightly tenderized with the tines of a fork. Marinated for an hour or so in beer, chopped fresh roma tomato, chopped fresh basil, onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper. Grill over direct heat, turning frequently. At each turn, dip back into the marinade and allow the tomato and basil bits to cook along with the chicken.

- Vege Kabobs - Skewer quartered fresh Vidalia onion, halved Roma tomato and chunked Bell Pepper and de-stemmed Mushroom on bamboo skewers. (Bamboo holds veges better'n steel!) Grill off direct heat and brush frequently and liberally with Extra Virgin Olive oil spiced up with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, Sweet Chimayo chile powder and a dash of worchester. Turn frequently and gently with tongs.

- Corn on the Cob - Grilled on the edge of direct heat and brush frequently with the same spiced Extra Virgin Olive oil. Turn as the kernels brown.

*NOTE: Getting each of the different elements to come off of the grill at the same time means good grill and coal heat management. The chicken takes the longest and most direct heat, followed by the corn and finally the vege kabobs.


"Ya' Sure Ya'betcha its Autumn"


When the local late apples begin to come off, its time to go Northern European with a Pork Loin Roast, surrounded by fresh sauerkraut, sliced onion and apples, served with dill/caraway mashed 'taters and salad.

- Pork Loin Roast - Drench the roast with flour spiced with salt and pepper. Brown in a hot cast iron skillet, liberally oiled with bacon grease, rolling till all surfaces are toasty brown. Place in a high sided roasting pan wiped down with EVOO on a bed of sauteed, finely chopped onion, garlic and celery. Roast at 350 degrees for 15 minutes and turn the roast over. Roast for another fifteen minutes and add two cored and sectioned apples, coarse chopped onion and about a pound of fresh sauerkraut sprinkled with dill and caraway seed. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes, or until the apples begin to soften.

-Dill/Caraway Mashed 'Taters - Scrub and coarse cube three or four or six Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes...depending on size and how many folks you plan to feed. Leave the skin on! Place in a large sauce pan, cover with water, add a couple pinches of salt and about a teaspoon of caraway and dill seed. Boil till soft. Drain and add lotsa buddah and whole milk and hand mash until the chunky yet smooth.

These are truly seasonal meals. Damn tasty!