All posts by brianS

Comfort food — a plate o’ beans

It's an off-day today. Which doesn't really distinguish today from most of the days of the past month, really, now does it?

As the parent of a vegetablearian daughter (nay -- a vegan daughter!!!111one111!!), I'm always on the lookout for simple, satisfying and repeatable dishes that I can make for the whole family. Today's contribution is drawn from the very essence of simple, satisfying, and repeatable: pinto beans.

Yea, I know. Gloppy refried beans on your tray on "Mexican food" days in school. Ugh. But I'm here to tell you that, properly made, pinto beans are sublime. And really easy to make.

My recipe has three steps to it: soaking, simmering, and finishing. While I add some minor bells and whistles, the approach is simplicity itself. Anyone can make a great bowl/plate of beans. And trust me, these are deliciously creamy and flavorful. You will question why anyone would ever buy canned refried beans after making these.
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2011 Game 33: Twins at Sawks

So, about that winning streak. It was nice, wasn't it? The last two games, not so much.

Tonight, Our Boys make an appearance on Monday Night Baseball on the 4ltr. I'm sure we are all excited to have the nation see our AAAA (AAA?) squad take the field. Will Cuddyer play shortstop?? Go team!

Game time: 6:10 p.m. Central.
Pitching matchup:
Nick Blackburn (4.41 ERA, 5.53 FIP, 4.47 xFIP, 6.18 tRA, 15:13 K:BB, 6 HR, 34 2/3 innings)
Josh Beckett (2.35 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 3.26 xFIP, 3.07 tRA, 35:12 K:BB, 3 HR, 38 1/3 innings)

On paper, this one does not look good. We get Blackie instead of F-Bomb, who has been suffering from "Flu-like symptoms." Mebbe next year, the team can set up a flu shot clinic, please?

Blackburn has been awful in three of his six starts so far, having given up five runs each on April 15 and April 20, then seven in 3 1/3 horrible innings at home on April 28. But there are glimmers of hope, as his other three starts have been quite good, including a solid 6 2/3 inning outing to beat the Bitch Sox on May 4. When things are going well, Blackburn is a league-average pitcher who doesn't miss many bats, but who generates a lot of ground balls. In his three good outings, he induced 35 ground balls against only 17 fly balls and 9 line drives. In his three bad outings -- 27:19:16.

For his part, Beckett has been good-not-great so far. I see some hope in that he gave up 7 fly balls and 3 walks in a rain-abbreviated 4 1/3 innings against LAAAAAA on May 4th in his last start, and got hit hard by the Orioles (4 runs on 2 HR, 10 fly balls and 5 LDs in 6 innings) the start before that.

Fenway Bandbox isn't the sort of place you want to be giving up a lot of fly balls in, so let's hope the Good Blackie shows his beard tonight, and Beckett pipes a few to the Dude and Mountie.

Chaat room: Pav Bhaji

It has been mentioned once or twice that this site could use more food posts. Never let it be said that Management is unresponsive. And consider this an invitation to all with authoring privileges to contribute to this intermittent series, The Nation Has An Appetite. (If you don't have authoring privileges and have a burning desire to contribute posts, talk to the Milkman)

I recently purchased from my local grocer a handful of foil pouch packages of heat-and-serve Indian dishes, one of which I had for lunch last week at work -- Pav Bhaji, or Mashed Vegetable curry, by Kitchens of India. It was among the better $3 I've spent recently, because that stuff was delicious.

Still, I knew that I could probably make a whole vat of bhaji (the "pav" part refers to the bread that is the traditional accompaniment) for about the same price as this single serving. My mouth has been watering at the prospect for days.
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First Monday Book Day: Dram-atic Adventures

Programming Note: This is a Very Special Episode of First Monday, as it features contributions from both bS and Daneekas Ghost. Enjoy!

Book bS
Man, these are tough times around the Nation. Tough times require tough action. Fortunately, I chose a book this month that fits the times -- a book about whiskey.

I picked up a hardback copy of Kate Hopkins' 2009 book, 99 Drams of Whiskey: The Accidental Hedonist's Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink for a song at my local used book store recently.

What is whiskey, you ask? Why, whiskey is mediocre beer made over into nobility.

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.
--Noah S. Sweat, Jr., 1952

I'd dare say that we need a song in our hearts right about now.
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A Happy Easter Recipe

A sweet little side dish recipe to go with your Easter dinner today. Popular Greek Recipes. Buy at Amazon.com

One of my oldest and bestest friends from Spamtown is a first-generation American of Greek heritage (or, actually, generation 1.5; his dad immigrated around the time of the Greek civil war; his mom was native-born) . His family founded the legendary George's Pizza.

Mmmm, greasy pizza cut into little squares. Heaven on earth. And Uncle Dino's Gondola truly was the "Noblest Sandwich of Them All."

One of my treasured possessions is a wedding gift from George and Ethel T (you are both missed), Popular Greek Recipes, published by The Ladies of the Philoptochos Society, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Charleston SC. I've used this cookbook a lot over the years. It is my go-to recipe place for satziki, avgolemono soup, mousaka, pastichio, and today's recipe, fasoulakia yiahni, string beans in tomato sauce.

I will start with a faithful rendition of the recipe (p.186), then discuss modifications below.
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2011 Game 16: Twins at Orioles

6:05 Central Time start. Why is this night different from all others?

Happy Passover. Orioles are indeed kosher.

I for one have had about enough of bitter herbs this spring. Time to make some Hillel Sandwiches out of the opposition. Pass the matzot. And don't ask me what I am drinking in the third inning.
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