Lottery

Ralph, who is not religious, is so down on his luck he decides to pray for some good luck. He prays to god that he win the lottery.

The drawing comes, and passes, and he doesn’t win.

By the end of the week things just continue to get worse, his car has been repossessed and he faces eviction from his mom’s basement, so he prays on the lottery again. But nothing.

Finally, after even his dog bails, Ralph prays again: “God, please, I’ll believe
in anything you say, just let me win the lottery this once!”

A voice booms out from the clouds. “Ralph, just meet me halfway and buy a freakin’ ticket!”

Real Genius

Kent: You’re all just a bunch of degenerates!

Chris Knight: We are? What about that time I found you naked with that bowl of Jello?

Kent: You did not!

Chris Knight: This is true.

Kent: I was hot and I was hungry.

The real genius of this movie was the dialog.  It’s so ridiculous that it almost sounds true.

Saint Patrick’s Day, COVID-19 Edition

We’re just over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.  Most years past we would simply go to Meghan’s mother’s house, and she would put on a traditional dinner: boiled corned beef, boiled potatoes, and boiled cabbage.

Last Year Was Different

Last year we ate a sad dinner on our own, as I had never made corned beef and cabbage before.  I tried it in the slow cooker.  It didn’t turn out very well.  Lesson learned.

This Year Is Different

Due to the wonders of science and concentrated efforts, the world has vaccines in record time and we see the light at the end of the figurative tunnel.  My mother-in-law has been vaccinated and graciously agreed to come to our house.  And I’m taking another stab at making traditional Irish-American dinner.

dutch oven with corned beef and vegetables
Just finished assembling the raw ingredients for a traditional Irish-American dinner: corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, and onions

Recipe

Taken from How To Make Corned Beef:

Stovetop method: For a 5 pound brined corned beef brisket. Place the corned beef in a Dutch oven. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of pickling spice blend and pour in 4 cups beef broth. Add potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 3 1/2 hours. Add water if necessary to keep brisket covered. Slice across the grain.

The Aftermath

I don’t mind saying, it was delicious.  But it might have been a side-effect of having company for the first time in a very, very long time.

after dinner table

We made two exceptions from tradition: I added garlic mashed potatoes, and we didn’t have Irish coffee after dinner.

Korean Beef Rice Bowls

This recipe was an instant hit.  I have to make a double batch if I want leftovers for the next day.

It pairs well with steamed veggies like broccoli or edamame.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of scallions, sliced as a garnish
  • Rice (white or brown, your choice)

Sauce

  • 1/4 up packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, reduced sodium is preferred
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Steps

  1. Start some rice while you prepare the rest
  2. Brown the hamburger and garlic in a pan.  Break it up into crumbles as it browns.
  3. While the hamburger is cooking, whisk the sauce ingredients (brown sugar, soy sauce, red pepper, black pepper)
  4. When the hamburger is browned, drain off the fat and pour in the sauce.  Simmer for a minute or two.  Mix in the scallions.
  5. Serve over rice

Adapted from therecipecritic.com

Lentil Soup

When I was a kid I disliked soups and stews, and hated even the idea of lentil soup.  Fortunately I became more open-minded as an adult, and found that I absolutely love lentil soup.  It’s very healthy for you, to boot.

The red lentils in this recipe break down and make a very creamy soup.  Green and brown lentils may be substituted, but black lentils don’t work out well.

Equipment

  • Dutch oven, or a large pot

Ingredients

  • 2 medium carrots, diced or sliced
  • 1  medium yellow onion, diced
  • olive oil (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, about 1 ½ boxes of store-bought
    • Substitute with vegetable broth for a vegan soup
  • 2 cups dried red lentils (about 1 pound)
    • Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear, roughly a minute

Alternatives

You can try other vegetables as substitutes or additions, including sweet potatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, celery, or whatever you have on hand.

Steps

  1. Heat dutch oven over medium heat with olive oil, until it shimmers
  2. Sauté carrots and onion until softened (maybe 5 minutes)
  3. Add garlic, curry powder, cumin, thyme, and salt.  Cook until fragrant (about a minute)
  4. Stir in lentils, tomato sauce, and broth
  5. Bring to a simmer and cover
  6. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally

Optionally, stir in (up to) 5 cups of spinach before serving.

Adapted from The Absolute Best Lentil Soup.

Pussy Willow

So little Jimmy walks past the general store where the old fellas sit out front. He’s carrying a bag of something. Stan, the youngest of the old guys, calls over to him, “Whatchya got there?”

“Duck tape! I’m gonna find some ducks!” Jimmy yells back. “I don’t think it works that way,” Stan says. Jimmy keeps on walking.

A few hours later Jimmy comes walking back the other way with a brace of ducks in his hand. The old guys at the store are suitably impressed.

A couple of days later, Jimmy walks by with bundle of something under his arm. Stan accosts him again, “Whataya have today, Jimmy?”

“Dog wood. I’m looking for a new dog.” “I don’t think it works that way,” Stan says. Jimmy keeps on walking.

Before the sun gets low in the sky, Jimmy comes striding back towards home, holding a puppy at the end of a leash. A low whistle emanates from the group of fellas.

A day after that, Jimmy is on his way by again, a rod of something in his hand. Stan gives him the side-eye, and suspiciously asks, “whatchya got today, Jimmy?”

“I got some pussy willow.”

“Hold on,” Stan says to Jimmy, “let me get my hat.”

Hello, My Name Is…

This is our family dog.  She is waiting for me to take her for a our regular after-dinner walk.

Butter looking expectantly at me

I am changing her name from “Butter” to “Aka Lana Lana” (“Hopeful Shadow” in Hawaiian) as she closely follows me around the house from the moment we finish dinner until I actually take her for a walk.

Words to Live By

I’m copying and posting this here to remind myself, from time to time, of the message.

Well hey, here’s a valuable piece of information for you.

Most things, fairly universally, you’re wrong about. Yes, it’s true. Most of the things which you believe you’re right about – you are in fact wrong about. To some degree, either by having an incomplete picture of facts but believing you’ve got a complete one, or holding differing viewpoints and not being aware of it, or making a judgement on an incorrect assumption or even bad information you’ve received…

It’s just that most of the time the amount of your inaccuracy doesn’t matter. But accepting that fact is important because it allows room for you to accept errors in your thinking on important issues.

You’re not infallible, you’re not so great, you don’t know much. But that’s OK. Because none of us are infallible, none of us are that great, none of us know all that much.

But if you’re humble enough – you’ll keep learning. Slowly decreasing the margin of our error is all we can hope to do. If you believe you’ve fully closed it…that it’s reached 0, that you’ve finally got it all figured out and there is no more error…well then you’re just flying blind now. It may take a while, but you’ll eventually crash – as any pilot with closed eyes eventually does.

Bricka_Bracka via Reddit

 

Beef Kebabs

I am shocked, shocked I tell you! that my children actually enjoyed this recipe.  I’m not sure why, perhaps they have given up all hope of enjoying a decent meal from my kitchen and now sullenly submit to my demands that they eat the goddamn food that I paid for and worked hard to put in front of them and it’s not like you do any chores around…  Ahem.  I got a little off track here.

Whatever the reason, they ate this one on my first attempt.

These are basically middle-eastern meatballs.  You can cut in other things with the meat, serve them in a variety of ways, whatever floats your boat.  (I rather enjoyed wrapping them in some naan with rice.)  It’s a meatball.  It’s the spices that make it.

The oven instructions are below.  We haven’t grilled them yet, but they should do great, just use a little grill-sense.  It’s a reasonably easy and fast recipe, ~20 minutes to prep and ~20 minutes to cook.

The recipe plus rice and other sides makes enough for 6-8 people.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of ground beef – don’t get a lean mix!  80-85% seems good
    • mix in other ground meats as your fancy takes you, but you need some fats – don’t go too lean
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, or 1/4 cup dried
  • 1/2 small onion, diced fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced fine
  • Garlic, 3-4 minced cloves
  • Paprika, 1 tsp
  • Salt, 1 tsp
  • Cumin, 1/2 tsp
  • Pepper, 1/2 tsp

Directions

If you plan on skewering the meat, and you’re using bamboo or wood skewers, soak them in water for ~30 mins.

  1. Preheat oven too 350°
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl (don’t overmix)
  3. Form the mix into oblong patties, about kielbasa-thick
    • If you’re skewering, shove in the skewers now or form the patties around the skewers
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or grill for ~20 minutes, flipping at least once
  5. For the last couple of minutes turn on the broiler to brown the meat

Usual disclaimer with ground meat dishes: make sure the internal temp is at least 160° before serving.

Serve with some traditional middle-eastern sides, like:

  • Naan bread
  • Tabbouleh
  • Cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
  • Rice

kebab with rice and naan