13 March, 2009

Sure and ya'might be a Celt..

If there is one drop of Celtic blood in your body, it will rise and hear these young men.....

Ohhh, sure now the laddie and lassie and the pipes....the once outlawed pipes.

From Braveheart:

Young William: "What are they doin'? "

Argyle Wallace: "Saying goodbye in their own way. Playing outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes. "

Click on the title....turn up the volume and listen.

12 March, 2009

The .454 Casull

Freedom Arms developed the .454 Casull back in the late 1950's. It is basically an extended and strengthened Colt .45 case with a powerful punch. The round is fitted with a small rifle primer and a progressive burning powder. Both of which allow for an increase in the chamber pressure and therefore the velocity and energy delivered to the target.
Like the .357 Magnum, which is an extended and strengthened .38 special, the .454 can chamber and shoot the smaller, standard Colt round...And just as a .38 cannot fire the .357, the same holds true for a standard Colt .45 and its bruiser big brother.

Both Sturm-Ruger and Taurus of Brazil have built pistols chambered for the massive .454. Both manufactures have included a muzzle brake to help tame the powerful recoil.

The pic above is the Ruger iteration chambered for the .454 Casull.
Here's a visual aid for comparing rounds. On the far right is a .22 long rifle. On the far left is a 3inch, 12 ga. round. The .454 Casull sits just to the right of the "AA" battery.

What are the rounds between the 'lil .22 and the "AA" battery? I'm glad you asked!

Right to Left:
.22 long rifle
.32 ACP
9 mm Luger
.38 Super
.45 ACP
.38 Special
.357 Magnum
.44 Rem. Magnum
.45 Win. Magnum
.454 Casull

11 March, 2009

Alaskan Tales

Grin ~and~ Bear it


Brigid is a consummate writer and prolific blogger:

She loves the wild, and respects it for what it is...untamed and dangerous to those who wander out into it uprepared. Her latest post on visiting and living in Brown/Grizzly Bear country brought to mind a story told to me back in the spring of 1995.

Whilst teaching at an exclusive private school in Denver, the 6th grade class took a week long field trip to the Mesa Verde area in order to study the Anasazi culture. Every Spring we would split the class into two groups. A long tenured teacher and her archaeologist husband owned a large section of land in the slick rock country west of Cortez, Colorado, in McElmo Canyon. They and a staff made up of teachers and hired help created an outdoor classroom and campus base where the students stayed, ate slept and studied.

That piece of land is home to a two important archaelogical sites and has been part of private and public funded research into the Pueblo/Anasazi culture connection in conjunction with Mesa Verde National Park and the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. It is a magical landscape. It lends itself to stories and tales, being the home of long resident spirits. They are the ghosts of the Anasazi, the Hopi, Navaho and Zuni.
In the late Spring of 1995, I was asked on to be part of the support staff for both weeks. It was there I met the author of the Alaskan tale. His name was Glen, a big man from Vermont. Glen was the camp cook. Blessed with a brilliant smile, bright blue eyes and a well toned physique and an easy likability, he went by the camp name of "Grog." His mother, he said, gave him that nick-name:

" Grog the frog from Cedar Bog. "

This is his story.

Grog was a short order cook in a small town cafe in Vermont and an erswhile student of natural science. While attending college he began to feel constrained by the close culture, the confined New England atmosphere. He wanted to expand his horizons. He wanted to explore the wilderness. He wanted ALASKA!

While perusing want ads he found a help-wanted ad for a small restaurant/bar on the outskirts of Anchorage. Grog jumped at the opportunity, called the owner and clinched the job. In his studies of Alaska, the spectre of Grizzly/Brown/Kodiak bears kept rising to the fore. He decided he probably should have a firearm for protection...a BIG firearm.

A local hunter friend suggested that he buy a .357 magnum pistol. Grog found a used Ruger with a couple of boxes of ammo for cheap. That, he thought, would be just the ticket to provide his self defense needs in the wilds of sub-arctic Alaska. He packed his truck, said his goodbyes to New England and headed west-by-northwest.....to the last American Frontier: ALASKA!

Some 10 days later, Grog drove into Anchorage and found the small cafe/bar where he was to work. He was tired and thirsty. He introduced himself to the bartender. The barkeep had been told to keep an eye out for Grog. He poured a shot and drew a beer for Grog and went into the office to call the owner. While settling in to his beer and bump, he noticed a weathered and scarred old fellow at the end of the bar. The ol' feller stared at the young man, eyes glittering without fear or compromise. And, he said nothing.

The bartender returned, told Grog that the owner would talk to him later in the day and poured him another round of drinks. Grog pulled out his tobacco and rolled a cigarette. All the while, the ol' sourdough at the end of the bar kept a bright eye on him. Finally, Grog wandered over and asked the ol'coot if there was a problem.

He said "NO." then asked: "You're new to Alaska, ain't ya?" Grog answered in the affirmative and offered to by the old man a drink. Which led to conversation and the conversation turned to the Bush and to the Grizz.

The ol' feller asked Grog if he had a "Brush Gun." Greg answered in the affirmative and proudly told of his .357 Ruger.


"Well, " the ol' coot finally said, "Did ya' file off the front sight yet?"

Grog's mind was reeling. What did he mean? Was there a special way of shooting that was made easier with the front sight gone? The whiskey and beer were taking their toll. The big kid from Vermont was totally stumped, flummoxed. He grabbed the shot glass, hammered down his last shot of rotgut and turned to the ancient face, still staring at him.

Grog looked him straight in the eye and asked him what the hell was with filing off the front sight of a perfectly good gun? The whiskey burned in his belly.

-Again, Silence-

The bartender stood in the shadows, arms crossed, watching the exchange.

The wizened old man turned to Grog and stood up. Even with his bent and battered frame he could almost look the young man in the eye. This is what he said:

"Well, young'un....ya'see it won't hurt so much after ya' empty that pea shooter in ol' Grizz an' all you've done is piss him off... An' he takes that pop gun and shoves it up your arse!"

Then both the ol'coot and the bartender began to laugh....long and loud and hearty. It turned out that the ol' Sourdough was the owner of the bar!

He slapped Grog on the back and told him to settle down. The owner bought the next round and began teaching Grog about what he REALLY needed in Alaska.

Grog sold the .357 and bought big, long barreled, stainless .454 Casull. Not much later, he added a Remington 870 shot gun with an extended magazine.

Grog told me that the 870 did save his bacon one time while he was out in an ocean kayak, touring the Archipelago.

Whether all of this is true, I will leave it to the reader to decide. Whatever the truth, it made for a great fireside story under the stars, down in the magic of McElmo canyon.

And, I do believe even some of the old Anasazi spirits laughed.

10 March, 2009

Szekelygulyas~ Szeged Goulash

One Thing Leads to Another
As an addendum to the last post, I offer this lil' bit of Eastern Europe cuisine, specifically from the Republic of Hungary. While researching the Szeged Paprika, I came upon a very fascinating recipe for a Szeged Goulash.
What's that?...where is Szeged? I am glad you asked.
This is NOT your mother's Betty Crocker goulash. Not by a long shot. Here is the quinessential recipe, translated, unedited and its making my mouth water!
Ingredients: 250g fat belly pork
500g pork shoulder
1 tsp salt, 2 tsp caraway seeds (kummel)
250g onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
500g sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
125ml sour cream
1 tbs flour

(Szegediner Gulyas, Szeged Goulash, Hungarian Pork and Sauerkraut Gulash)

For a variation, you can use smoked polish sausage, cut into bite-sized rounds, as well as—or pork confit instead of—fresh pork. If you use pork confit, the first hour's cooking is superfluous. Simply fry the onions and garlic, add the paprika, sauerkraut, sour cream and meat, cook in a moderate oven for 40 minutes, and serve.

Goose confit can also be added for a special occasion.

The dish is much improved if you salt the pork in advance. Leave it covered, in a cool place, for several hours, turning from time to time. In extremis, you can omit this step, but even a few hours salting will help the flavour.

Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks, bruise the caraway seeds in a mortar, together with the salt, mix these with the meat. Leave for a few hours in a cool place, preferably overnight.

Gently render the fat from the belly pork, in a large pan, then fry this and the shoulder pork until golden brown. In the same fat, fry the onions gently until golden. Off the heat, add the paprika and garlic.

Add 125ml water, cover and cook in a gentle oven (150 °C 300 °F) for 1 hour.
Remove excess fat. Add the sauerkraut to the meat. Mix the flour with the sour cream to form a smooth paste; add this too. Finally, add enough boiling water to not quite cover the cabbage. Return to the oven to cook for 1 hour more (or more).

Serve with bread (rye bread works well), beer, and salad.

Szekelygulyas comes from the Hungarian Town of Szeged. It is also called Szeged Goulash, Szegediner Gulasch, Szegediner Gulyas, or Gulasch à la Szekely. Note for robots: "recipie" and "recipies" are `misspellings' of "recipe" and "recipes".
Now, beloved, I am not at all certain what the dickens that last sentence means....Why would robots care about spelling.
However, replacing the pork belly with bacon....which is basically salted and smoked pork belly, seems to be the first and only change that I would make.
Given that a Goose Confit is used at holidays.....Well that gives me an excuse to shoot a couple of Canadian or Snow geese this coming season!
AND- I would serve it over wide egg noodles. I like the idea of a dark Czech beer and a cabbage based salad.
Now...........I only have to make the time to do this!!!!

Szeged, Hungary ~ Capsicum Paprikash

Dinner from Hungary


While poking about the spice shelves at our local grocery salvage outlet, The Friday Store, I spied a tin that had a very familiar look to it. I have used Pride of Szeged Paprika before, both sweet and savory. They have great flavors that are unlike our local Southwestern capsicum chiles, similar, but sweeter, less pungent.

This tin was something I had never seen before. Given that I liked their other products, I figured WTF... for a dollar, I'd give it a try.

Early yesterday afternoon, I made a marinade with the Pride of Szeged Chicken Rub, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Once it was mixed thoroughly, I brushed it on two chicken hind quarters, put them into a plastic container and covered them with the remaining marinade. I put them in the refrigerator for about four hours.

After marinading, I placed the chicken in a cassarole and added a medium onion, chopped coarse, and the juice of half a lemon, covered it with foil and put it into a medium (325/350 degree) oven.

I pulled the foil off after an hour and allowed the meat to brown, turning once. Total time in the oven, 2 hours.

While the chicken baked, I made up a herb/garlic mixture of wild and domestic rice in the rice cooker (great things, rice cookers are!) And served the chicken and rice with a spring greens salad (Mesclun) ....and more lemon! I topped off the chicken with a dollop of Gene Amole's Summer Chile (picalilli) recipe.

~Dinner from Hungary~

09 March, 2009

Monday Recollection

Once, There Were Heroes

Back in the early '90's, an anthology of poetry was published. That fact, in itself, is nothing new, exciting or of any consequence. Writers write and publish their works every year and editors compile and publish anthologies every year.

What made this anthology different was the fact that it was a book edited by men, for men, and about men.In this Anthology, the so called "Men's Movement" and all of its secular and sacred iterations had been distilled into a fine work for reflection and study. I'm not one to join in with the fellers who get naked and paint themselves with sweat and mud and dance in the desert at full moon. Hell, I did that before it was considered politically correct and theraputic. I did it for fun, howling at the moon, stoned and wicked smiles, back in the dark ages.

What the anthology did for me was to pull a switch, light a fire, instill a need to create, to write. And that is what I have been doing ever since. Since I recently joined the ranks of the unemployed...or underemployed, I have been going through long neglected stacks of stuff.

(*Sidebar: If you feel called to do so, you can donate to the unemployment fund using the Pay-Pal button on the right side.)

In one particular stack, I came across poetry written back in the late 80's. One in particular I want to share. Its about one of my heros, Dad Anthony.


My Father's Hands

Soft April sunrise sifts light
Pastel colors woven warm through
Pale Palo Verde shadows and Mesquite fans.
The silent Sonoran desert cradles morning.
Worn white wicker creaks on the summer porch.
We sit, coffee cups steaming in our hands.
80 years turned and tolled in their memory
Pulled deep from long years recalled.
His still strong hands, long fingered,
Liver mottled, baked brown
Parchment in the Arizona heat.
How long will they linger?
These hands that held me close,
Drew strong man circles
‘Round my broken childhood.
How long before the phantom
Pull of gravity draws him down
And the Father season folds its weary hands.
And mine, uncertain still, gently hold
This faded April memory.