It's PANCAKE DAY!
I haven't said anything yet about the tragic tiger attack at the San Fran zoo. But now I need to speak out. Read this. I am incredibly upset that people are trying to diminish the failure of the zoo by ginning up talk about taunting and alcohol.
Here are the facts:
1) There were people at the zoo who may have been misbehaving.
2) A tiger escaped from her pen.
3) The pen was not properly secured.
4) The tiger attacked three people, killing one.
5) The tiger, an endangered animal acting on instinct, was killed to protect innocent people.
Four of those five facts are material facts. That is, they have a real bearing on this tragedy. One of them does not. Guess which one?
The first one.
Tigers are endangered. They are precious. They need to be protected. That protection means not only protecting them from harm, but preventing them from harming people. After all, if the tiger can harm people, it becomes necessary to kill the tiger.
Tigers are animals. They do not have free will. They act on instinct. They can't think about whether their actions are right or wrong. They can only do what their instinct tells them. Their instinct is to hunt, attack, kill, and eat other creatures. Their instinct is to strike hard and fast at anything they consider a threat. They have no fear. They have no pity. They exist to kill. That's what they do.
Tigers can also jump. I mean, they can jump. Don't believe me? Watch this. Caution: it will scare the hell out of you.
Now, experts knew that the tigers at the San Fran zoo could jump across the moat and over the wall. Read this for more details. And this. And, most alarming, this. Even though zoo officials are acting as though they did nothing wrong, it seems pretty clear that everyone involved knew there was a problem. Yet, nothing was done to remedy the problem - and all that needed to be done was to run three feet of chain link along the top of the wall!
Tigers live to kill. Tigers can jump. Moats and walls were known to be too short. No corrective action was taken. Therefore, it was inevitable that, at some point, one of these tigers would escape, hunt, attack, and kill a human at the zoo. Whether or not that human was taunting the tiger is immaterial. Whether or not that human was drinking vodka is immaterial. It is just a distracting coincidence. The tiger could just as well have made her escape as a group of innocent nuns and well-behaved school children were standing in the way. Right now, instead of talking about taunting and drinking, we might have pictures of mutilated kids on the nightly news. It wouldn't be the kids' fault. It wouldn't be the tiger's fault. It would be the zoo's fault.
One person is dead. Taunting an animal and drinking in public might be infractions, but they are hardly worth a death sentence. An endangered tiger is dead. There was little choice but to kill it - but that choice need not have been made - and a dead person would still be alive - if the zoo had acted responsibly and improved the moat and wall when the problem was known and documented.
But now the lawyers are involved, and as such they are trying to shift attention from the real blame, and instead distract us with tales of taunting and vodka.
To hell with them!
A human life is gone. A natural treasure is gone. The only people to blame are the zoo managers. End of story. And the story disgusts me to no end.
I've had hundreds of hits lately by people searching for gooey pumpkin butter cake. OK, I'll make it easier for you: click here.
Slightly different from the classic Paula Deen recipe, this one is an improvement - perhaps I should call it gooey pumpkin better cake?
OK folks, there is some sort of ballot delio thingy going down tonight. I know, I know. Obviously, if you are reading this instead of sitting glued to your television or obsessively refreshing Orbusmax, you aren't interested in the returns. So therefore, I can only assume you are here to talk about...
Now me, I have recently come to love cambozola. This fabulous cheese is basically camembert that has been injected with the same cultures used to produce gorgonzola, resulting in a rich, buttery, triple-cream cheese with mild blue veins. I like it spread (it is fairly soft at room temperature) over a cracker, along with some black grapes. Unlike the cheese guide linked above, I prefer my cambozola with a crisp red wine instead of a chardonnay. But then, I really don't tend to enjoy chardonnay so much. Your results may vary. Anyway, you can find cambozola in nice-sized wedges, about a pound each, just like the one pictured above, at Costco - and at a good price. Well, at the Costco in Salem, at any rate. I highly recommend you look for it!
So... tell us all about your favorite cheese experiences!
The problem is the lack of a real one.
Yes, some kooks out there want to see a slimmer Santa, because the fat Santa gives kids a bad message. Thing is, the make-believe person in the jolly red suit doesn't supply your kids with Twinkies and pop.
The problem isn't the fat Santa. It's the stupid parents.
Kids, especially the youngest kids - at the age when bad habits and body types form - shouldn't be eating anything that wasn't approved by parents. Hey, parents, guess what? Your fat kid?
YOU DID THAT.
Now leave Santa alone.
Two juicy t-bone steaks, with a little worcestershire sauce, a little balsamic vinegar, some garlic oil, and grill seasoning.
Same steaks after a good searing over the Weber; nicely browned on the outside, pink and juicy on the inside.
Served up with some roasted potatoes and a bottle of Cabernet.
Yesterday's bacon post, especially some of the later comments, got me thinking:
How would you make the ULTIMATE burger? Describe your ultimate in the comments, where I will begin with the burgers I made over the weekend...
I was trying to think of something I could do today to help me appreciate the freedom I have as an American, and to honor the sacrifices of the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who give so much to keep me free.
I also wanted to do something to rub it in the noses of those al-Qaeda bastards who thought they could destroy us six years ago today.
That could mean only one thing:
Start cooking your bacon by placing cold bacon into a cold pan. Then, turn your burner up to medium heat. Not higher; not lower - medium. Higher heat will burn the lean parts of your bacon before the fat parts cook. Low heat will keep your bacon from browning, resulting in limp, soggy bacon. If your bacon is soggy, then the terrorists have already won!
Medium heat is like Goldilocks... just right. Oh, in case you are wondering: it's plain old Safeway-brand bacon. Hey, it's smoked, cured, dead pig... who needs gourmet?
As the pan heats up, you will begin to hear the sizzle of grease, smell the aroma of smoky meat, and see the curling edges. Drool. Speaking of pans, this one is from Swiss Diamond. I like it a lot. It has a non-stick surface made from industrial diamonds: very tough, excellent heat distribution, excellent heat transfer, and nonstick without being slippery. So far, I only have the one pan from Swiss Diamond (I also have a Lodge cast iron skillet and some inexpensive T-Fal pots and pans). I would like to buy an entire set when I have the money.
Even though a good pan like this one has excellent heat distribution, it is still a good idea to occasionally rotate your bacon for the most even cooking.
Tech note: you can't tell by looking, but I took this picture upside down (ah, the miracles of digital picture editing and the "transpose" feature!). You see, I am right handed, so I used my right hand to move the bacon while snapping a picture with my left. But my camera can be a little awkward when used with just the left hand (when your left hand is useless like mine). To take the picture more easily, I found that holding it upside down so I can push the buttom with my thumb works really well. If you have similar problems trying to use your camera with your off hand, you may want to experiment with it this way.
In case you are wondering, the camera used is a Nikon Coolpix 4600. I like it a lot. I don't know if it was the best thing in its price range when I bought it two years ago, but I am pretty loyal to Nikon. Back when I did a lot more gun blogging, the folks at Nikon sent me a lot of great promotional gear (not the camera, but they did send me some awesome binoculars as a free gift). Ever since, I have always leaned towards Nikon when considering optics. So, not being so "in" to digital cameras that I cared much about the differences from brand to brand or model to model, I just blindly bought the Nikon that was in my price range. It has worked great for me for two years now. I know this model is discontinued, but you can find many new models in the Nikon Coolpix line.
Back to the bacon... check the underside for doneness. When the fat starts to turn golden brown and the lean part takes on a nice red-brown hue, flip it.
This takes about 8-10 minutes with a good pan at a nice medium heat level, but with so many variables, you want to keep an eye on it rather than trusting your watch. Oh, and this is important: see those tongs?
Even with a very durable nonstick pan, you want to use tools that don't scratch. More pans are ruined by using stainless steel tools on them then all other harms combined.
Anyway... the second side cooks more quickly than the first. Why? Because by the time you flip over the bacon, it is heated all the way through. So after just a few minutes, start checking for doneness. When the bottoms look good and brown, pull the bacon out of the pan.
Note: as you lift each piece out of the pan, give it a good shake to help get rid of excess grease. Place your bacon onto a paper towel to absorb grease. This helps make it nice and crispy, without having to cook it to death.
Yes, I know... I need to clean my counter. In my defense, I did give the work area a good wipe-down before cooking. I would have done a better job before preparing food, but I was hungry and didn't want to wait any longer. By the time you have read this, the entire kitchen will have been cleaned. Thoroughly. Yes, even that bit between the stove and the counter. Hey, you want me to come and inspect your kitchen? That's right, buddy: our troops are over there in harm's way right now to defend our right to be slobs!
Once your bacon is on paper towels, put more on top and blot:
Use your tongs to blot and not your fingers. That grease is HOT and will soak through the towels onto your flesh!
OK, on to stage two... turn your pan down from medium to medium-low heat. Then, crack an egg right over the leftover bacon grease. Be careful not to splatter. The egg will cook quickly, so focus.
By the way: I like eggs from Eggland's Best. They do cost more than generic eggs, but eggs are so cheap that even the premium eggs are affordable for almost everybody. So splurge! They really do taste better. Supposedly they are better for you, because of the special diets of the hens. I don't give a darn about that. I want yummy, and yummy they are!
You can't see it here, but as soon as the egg hit the pan, I put some bread into the toaster behind me. More on that later. Let's focus on the egg. You also can't see it because these are still photos and not video, but as soon as the white of the egg set (in just a minute or so) I gave the pan a little swirl to make sure that delicious bacon grease got under and around all the egg.
Mmmmm... bacon grease...
Then, use your turner to break the yolk and spread it around:
Another tech note: I cheated here and used my right hand to cook, then set down the turner and used my right hand to shoot the photo. It was easier that way. Oh, and note the plastic turner. No metal!
Once the yolk is spread out, give the grease another whirl to help the edges of the yolk cook. You want the yolk to firm up a little before you flip. That's the secret to not making a mess. That, and make sure the flip is both quick and smooth. I wish I had video so you could see me in action. Instead, you just get to see what it looks like after the flip:
Again, flipped and photographed with the right hand. Hey, I never claimed to be ambidextrous!
Once you have it flipped, the cooking will be done in under a minute, so grab a plate and get it ready. Then, give the grease another quick swirl to make sure the edges seal up and...
... set the egg on a plate for now. Turn off the heat. You're done with that. Oh, I can tell you are wondering about that thing wrapped in foil in the background. That is yellow squash bread I made earlier. You can't have it. It is mine! But maybe if you are nice, I might post a recipe for it later...
Now, remember I said something before about toast?
As if by magic, the toast popped out of the toaster about the same time the egg hit the plate. Yes, I know a thing or two about timing in the kitchen. And yes, the surface you see is nice and clean. Maybe a bit beat up from too much rough use, but clean. And no, I didn't rough it up. It was like that when we moved in. Rentals...
By the way, that is whole wheat bread. No, I am not trying to "health it up" by adding fiber. I buy whole wheat bread because it tastes better. Those of you who are stuck on white bread: hey, try branching out a little. Darker bread has more flavor. White bread is... well... you know they use the term "white bread" to describe things that are bland and boring, right? Remember, if you settle for white bread, the terrorists have already won!
Anyway, slather that bread with some butter...
Notice the mise en place. That's cooking-talk for "things in place." When I got the butter, I also grabbed two slices of cheese. If you look carefully at the wrapper, you will see the word "select" printed on it. If you are like me and appreciate the convenience of individually wrapped sliced cheese, but like the flavor of traditional brick cheese better, it is worth it to spend the extra money on the premium slices. Of course, if you insist on spending even more money on a brick of quality cheese and slicing it yourself, I don't blame you one bit!
Now we come to the assembly phase:
Start with one slice of cheese. Then, add the egg on top of it:
Then, add the second piece of cheese on top of the egg:
Move quickly while you do this. The idea is to layer the egg between the cheese slices so the heat from the egg will warm the cheese. Don't dilly dally here! Moving fast really does result in a better final product.
And now... the BACON!
Astute observers may notice that the bacon now seems to be a little bit shorter than it looked in the last photo. Well, as you know, things shrink as they cool down so... oh, who the hell am I kidding? I took a few bites of bacon before putting it on the sandwich. Well, I had to make it fit, right?
Back to the task at hand: add the other piece of toast, and you have a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich!
And look, you have a use for that plate you had out earlier. See, I am logical and efficient that way.
Finally, remember that a meal like this has a LOT of fat and cholesterol and stuff. If you eat like this, you will die. So be sure to incorporate wholesome, healthy foods, like fruit, into your diet:
Hey, food police be damned! This is AMERICA, and our best and bravest are dying over there to make sure I have the right to eat this way if I want to!
Now go celebrate your freedom with BACON! And...
Which one looks better to you: this..
I don't know about you, but I'd rather have steak!
Ethanol fuel seems to be more trouble than it's worth. I remain convinced ethanol fuel isn't so much a savior during the energy crisis as a subsidy for America's corn farmers. There may be a place for biodiesel made entirely from waste products, but sacrificing a valuable feed crop makes no sense. Food is more important than fuel. We can live without cheap gas. We can't live without food. And yes, I know premium steak is a luxury, but remember: if people don't eat steak, they still have to eat something, and the law of supply and demand dictates that all food prices will rise if we continue to produce ethanol fuel.
A recent study confirms what I have known all along: marijuana is our largest cash crop.
We make more money selling pot than corn and wheat combined. Meanwhile, something like 1 in 5 Americans is hungry.
What the hell is wrong with us?
I am generally more of a free-market libertarian than a social conservative. I'd usually rather let principles of economics solve problems, rather than allow governments to intervene. But this is a problem that economics and governments both have only made worse. Capitalism has made drugs into cash crops. The government "war on drugs" has created a powerful international cartel in response, while failing to stop drug use at all. Locally, our "meth bill" ban on Sudafed has shifted production to international superlabs, resulting in more, and more powerful, product hitting the streets.
There has got to be a better way to handle our ever worsening drug culture.