Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Food And Manliness

Just decided to pull myself away from the TV, watching some ridiculous show on the Travel Channel about the "manliest" restaurants in America. Really? To be totally honest, I could give a flying fuck about how "manly" a restaurant is. I have no problem with hitting a steakhouse - if I'm flush with cash or someone else is buying. But I'd much rather cook it myself. Isn't putting a slab of dead animal on the grill and cooking it yourself by its very nature primordial and therefore manly - not to mention a whole fuck of a lot cheaper?

And of course, different people have their own notions of what a 'manly' restaurant ought to be. Here's Denis Leary's take from No Cure For Cancer (fast forward to about 7:15). I have to admit to having something of a soft spot for Denis Leary's comedy. But why not take it a step further? Why not have every seat in the restaurant be a toilet, with a woman under the table giving the patron a blumpkin as he ate his giant hunk o' meat? If the link I just gave you isn't informative enough, I'm sure there's probably some.... how shall we say it.... adult-oriented website out there that has a video of it. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I'm as much of a red-blooded man as anyone else, does anyone else find something like that to be a bit much? I'm not even particularly interested in going to a Hooters. Hot chicks in next to nothing doesn't make up for mediocre food if you ask me. And since there are plenty of strip clubs with full dinner menus out there - my wife and I visited on in Bend, OR once - doesn't that make a place like Hooters irrelevant?

I'm just not impressed with guys who feel they need to establish status and credibility through displays of overt masculinity. I could give a fuck less who the 'alpha dog' is, or who has the 'type A' personality. I don't give a shit if you feel you have to make some display of superiority in front of me. I'm not impressed. You ordered the sixty-ounce steak and you're going to try to eat it all in one sitting? Enjoy the vomiting, asshole. And the cholesterol. I'll be just fine with the twelve-ounce portion, or maybe the sixteen if I'm really hungry. You really should only be eating four-ounce portions of proteins, and leavening that with lots of vegetables and grains. You might feel manly, but I'll live longer and better. You feel the need to drive a lifted truck down the highway at 80mph? Hey, gas is only $3.05 a gallon or so here in Port Angeles, who cares if that monster only gets 10 miles to the gallon? I'll drive my POS at 55 - I won't even take it over 65 unless absolutely necessary - and get where I'm going safely, efficiently, and not pay an arm and a leg for gas then sell a kidney to cover the insurance. I don't feel the need to display my masculinity on a minute to minute basis. My wife loves me just the way I am. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get dinner started. It's time for my awesome meat loaf.

Sorry, just had to rant.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Talking The Weekend That Was In Sports

Pretty interesting, for a variety of reasons. First off, let's talk what was once the most popular sport in America, if not the entire world. Floyd Mayweather knocked down his latest tomato can, Canelo Alvarez. To me the most interesting thing I took from it was that despite every media report saying that Mayweather utterly dominated his opponent, one of the fight's judges scored it a draw. Do we need any more reason to believe know that boxing is utterly corrupt?

And Mayweather himself is no better. He ducked Manny Pacquiao just long enough for Pacquiao's skills to erode, using every excuse he can think of to avoid what would've been the biggest fight in a generation or more. And if you paid for "The One", you're to blame as well, because you plunked down $75 to watch Mayweather bob and weave, and every once in a while hit a man whose nickname means cinnamon. I wouldn't dare question Mayweather's skills, and I'll be more than happy to agree with the boxing cognoscenti that Mayweather is easily the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. But this is a guy who chose to 'fight' The Big Show over Manny Pacquiao - can you really take him seriously?

Two of my favorite punching bags intersected as fans of the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars held a rally in the parking lot of their stadium to demand the team sign  the equally hapless Tim Tebow. Twenty people showed up, while thirty people were there to cover the 'event'. This proves two things. The first bieng that America loves the NFL just that much, and the second being that Jacksonville doesn't love the NFL just that much. Which is also why the Jags will probably be playing their home games in Los Angeles or London in the very near future.

There might be more later, but I'd rather go kill Orcs and Khajiit in Skyrim.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Talking Tebow

I don't really know why I've neglected this blog for so long, there's just so much for me to talk about. But with the beginning of a new season in the NFL, I find interest in the plight - if that's what you want to call it - of the most popular football player not suiting up for an NFL team this season, your friend and mine Tim Tebow. Unless you've been under a rock for the last few months, our boy Teebs was cut from the New England Patriots on the last day of the preseason. Staying positive, Teebs tweeted that he'd remain in 'relentless pursuit' of his dream to be an NFL quarterback. But since his release, nobody's really been a-knocking at his door - at least not with the offer he wants. According to ESPN, several NFL clubs have offered him contracts that hinged upon him changing position from quarterback to say, tight end or fullback. He's been pursued by the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. He even received a contract from the Los Angeles KISS (yes, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are part-owners) of the Arena Football League. And most intriguingly, USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville tweeted that Tebow should consider the oval ball over the pointed one, though no formal offer was actually made to him.

So what do we have here? Here's the facts. He's an amazing physical specimen. He's a proven winner. He's a man of unimpeachable character. But he also lacks the proper throwing mechanics and decision-making ability that an NFL quarterback absolutely must have, and this has been proven beyond any doubt. But as gifted an athlete as he is, he can learn. But if he truly wants the job he desires, as the old saying goes how does he get experience without a job, and how does he get a job without experience? He could take any of the offers that have been presented to him. He could switch positions. He could play in a lesser league. He could even switch codes and play the game that's the ancestor to American Football. So why not?

Because it's not what he wants, that's why. That whole 'relentless pursuit' thing. But when does relentless pursuit become a quest to assuage wounded pride, or to justify arrogance? What we do know about his brief NFL career is that when he had the chance, he did lead the Denver Broncos to the playoffs, even managed  to win a playoff game in dramatic fashion. But he did it with a hastily retooled offense that played to his strengths as a runner, with few pass plays that didn't involve some sort of play-action to keep defenses close to the line of scrimmage. It's ironic that the read-option offense he ran in college is coming into vogue in the NFL, albeit run by quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, guys with far better passing and decision-making skills than Tebow possesses.

So what should he do? Where should he go? Since he won't switch positions, he probably won't be suiting up for an NFL team any time this season. The CFL's regular season is almost over, so I doubt he'll be making reservations at Joe Beef any time soon. And I really doubt that he'd even want to be in the same room as KISS - he probably thinks they're Satan worshipers. Which is a joke, because the only thing KISS worships is money.

And that leaves the offer not yet made, to represent his country as an Eagle of USA Rugby. And there is some precedent for a move like that. This winter the rugby world was fairly turned on its ear by a former Division III college running back-turned-Olympic sprinter named Carlin Isles, widely considered the fastest man to ever play rugby. Former Ohio State standout (and spectacular NFL flameout) Maurice Clarett is currently learning the intricacies of the oval-ball game with the Tiger Rugby Academy in Ohio with an eye towards playing for the USA in rugby's return to the Olympics in 2016. There have even been discussions between the NFL and Premier Rugby Ltd. (the company that operates England's top rugby competition, the Aviva Premiership) about the idea of training NFL washouts in rugby, with the goal being developing talent for a possible American professional rugby league. I think Tebow would make one hell of a scrumhalf.

What do you think?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On Republicans And Scandal, or "Open Letter To A Wingnut"

A friend of mine on Facebook asked my I considered Republican criticism of President Obama to be racist. Here's my answer.

It's actually fairly easy to justify most conservative criticisms of President Obama as racist. Why is that, you ask? Because in so many words, almost all of those criticisms are pure, unadulterated bullshit, and swept away with little or no effort, which leaves you with white people being critical/disrespectful/hateful towards a black man for no reason whatsoever. Using Occam's Razor, the only logical answer is that those criticizing are racist. Let's debunk the major hysteria points:

“He's not a Real American”

Horseshit, people. Like it or not, Barack Obama was born in Hawai'i in 1961, with two separate Honolulu newspapers announcing the birth. Even WorldNet Daily eventually accepted that he's an American citizen. The ultimate irony is that Orly Taitz, the high priestess of the Birther movement, is not a natural-born American – she was born in France, and is a naturalized citizen. What it all boils down to is older white people frightened by the concept of an empowered black man. Although let's be honest for a moment: Bill Clinton was the first 'black' president. I would go so far as to suggest that Obama is actually our first nerd president. Ironic side note: Texas Senator Ted Cruz is rumored to be considering running for the Republican nomination for POTUS in 2016. Cruz is not legally eligible to become President, because he was born in Canada, regardless of his parents being Americans. Where do you think the nickname 'Calgary' comes from? An irrational love of Stampede Wrestling?

“He's not all that smart”

Uh, I don't recall Harvard Law School accepting just anyone, let alone handing out degrees to anyone. Please note that had it not been for politics, his career track as a constitutional law scholar had him pointed towards a career in jurisprudence. Which leads to the next point:

“He's a commie/nazi/socialist/librul”

Remember Harvard Law School? Obama was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, which has never been known for having a liberal bias. In fact, many of his more liberal colleagues were quite upset with him for not taking the Review in a more liberal direction, and for his surprisingly close associations with more conservative members of the Review.

Now let's look at those buzzwords for a moment. We've already eliminated 'librul', so let's move on to 'commie'. What makes him a communist? Is he, for example, making you stand in line for bread, or shoes? No. Do you even know what communism is? In its purest theoretical form, communism is democracy on steroids, as every person in the community (that's where the word 'communism' comes from, after all) has a say in everything the community does. Which is also why communism is simply unworkable at any level beyond say, a group of a hundred people. Lenin tried to install the collectivist principles of communism, but his stroke and eventual death from said stroke in 1924 pretty much ended the communist experiment, and Josef Stalin dressed up a megalomaniacal state-controlled apparatus replete with a massive personality cult centered upon himself (something Marx, Engels and Lenin found abhorrent) in Lenin's old suit and called it communism. Conservatives bring up this buzzword (as well as 'socialism') as the Obama administration has attempted to re-regulate the various sectors of the economy, something actually applauded by no less than the grand poobahs of deregulation and supply-side economics that set America on the path to economic collapse under George W. Bush.

Now let's look at 'socialism'. Do you even know what it means? Conservatives use it like they do 'communism', to paint the illusion of a megalomaniacal President trying destroy our freedoms. The funny thing is that the word 'socialism' is actually a put-down of states and governments that either fail to implement collectivist principles, or only go part-way in doing so. The term was actually created by communists to mock states and governments that didn't have the fortitude to finish the job.

And now, let's look at 'nazi'. People who call the President a 'nazi' make me laugh. No less than Rush Limbaugh has called the President a nazi, his reasoning being that the Nazis were socialists. I almost pissed myself laughing at that. Let's explain the fat guy's lunacy for a moment. “Nazi” is actually a diminutive word, essentially a nickname. Here's the full name of the Party (pardon my sucky German):

National-Socialist Deutscher Arbeitung Partei

That translates to “German National-Socialist Worker's Party”. Of those five words, the only two that accurately described the party were “German” and “Party”. The rest, to use the words of Geroge Carlin, was a marketing decision.

Let's go back in time a bit, to the time between the World Wars. The defeated Imperial German government was recast into a constitutional republic, with the organizational meetings held in the city of Weimar – hence the term for the period's government being the 'Weimar Republic'. The Republic was under threat almost immediately from communist agitators from within and without, as German communists attempted a coup d'etat in 1919. Hitler attempted his own coup (or putsch, in German) in 1923, and was promptly arrested for it. The governments of the Republic were usually left-of-center, mildly socialistic, and the German people generally liked the idea of 'socialism', though not really aware that the word itself was actually a perjorative as I mentioned above. Hitler came upon the idea of branding his party as “National-Socialists” in order to attract voters to his party, while portraying the actual Socialists as being secret tools of a foreign power trying to keep Germany down – any of this sound familiar?

The ironic thing is that this false branding isn't without precedent. In post-Czarist Russia, there was actually a brief attempt at democracy, with Communists winning a majority in the Russian legislative body known as the Duma. However, a split developed between the Communists, with a tiny minority breaking away from the larger bloc. This breakaway group contained all the major players of what was to come – Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Molotov, etc. - and they had the balls to declare themselves Bolsheviki – Russian for “majority”. And in a response that doomed them to history – not to mention firing squads – the larger bloc of Communists declared themselves Menesheviki - “minority”. Stupid, no?

But why use such words in the first place, when none of them are remotely true? Welcome to politics, Lee Atwater-style. Atwater's first rule was that if enough people repeat the lie often enough, eventually people will believe it to be the truth, no matter how audacious the lie is. Look around the darker corners of the conservative blogosphere, where you'll see bloggers making the most ridiculous accusations against the President, the First Lady, even their children. These accusations eventually bounce around the blogosphere, and those that gain the most traction among the faithful eventually move on the biggest manure spreader of all, FOX News. Case in point being the President's trip to India last year, and the accusation that this one trip alone cost the American taxpayers two billion dollars, when the reality was that the trip cost a tiny fraction of that. Calling the President a 'communist' and such is merely red meat thrown out to an audience conditioned to believe anything told them. And it's also safer than using the word many on the right wing prefer to use – you know, six letters, starts with an 'n', rhymes with my favorite resident of the Hundred Acre Wood. And we're not talking about Eeyore.

But here's the funny thing: if Obama is an unintelligent socialist/communist/nazi, then why is the economy improving? Why is unemployment going down, the Dow at record levels, corporate profits at all-time highs? If he's a socialist, he's the worst socialist ever. If you actually look at his voting patterns and policies, what you've got is an Eisenhower-era Republican, business-friendly and all about getting Americans back to work repairing our crumbling infrastructure. If only the party in opposition didn't consider putting Americans back to work in something other than minimum-wage jobs (oh, and the Republican-controlled House just voted to eliminate the forty-hour work week and overtime pay for hourly workers – remember that) to be part of some evil plot to destroy America.

“He's Coming To Take Our Guns!”

This is the current lie in vogue. Believe it or not, there actually are people on the Left who wish that somehow the President could just snap his fingers and presto! No more guns. We have words for people like that: ridiculous, silly, unrealistic. And here's the one that's most important to the current debate: IGNORED. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of the public to bear arms, that is without question. The problem is that conservatives consider this right to be God-given. God didn't write the Constitution, folks. The people who wrote the Constitution lived in a world where a trained marksman could maybe get off three or four shots a minute (I do count black-powder rifle enthusaiasts among friends, and I'd hope you all saw old Lou Huber demonstrate his love of muzzle-loaders in school). Modern military-grade weapons can fire dozens of shots in a second. Does the average American need access to military-grade firearms, or more importantly, why does the average American need access to such weapons? Is an invasion imminent? Are Chinese paratroopers descending upon us, like in the recent remake of Red Dawn? Oh, I know, the writers of the movie crossed out any references to China in the script, and wrote 'North Korean' over the top of those crossed-out references. But that's who they were thinking about.

So if there's no invasion a-coming, why on earth does Joe Sixpack need an M-16 and a thousand rounds of ammo stashed in the basement? Fear, people. Fear and paranoia. The commies are gonna get you! They're gonna steal your guns! ATF agents are going to parachute into your house and steal your guns, then those dirty libruls are gonna make you have gay sex and abortions, and.... and.... read books from people other than Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity! Yeah, that's right!

But why? Why be so afraid? Here's why. The genesis of the current gun hysteria actually has very little to do with the recent mass killings in Colorado and Connecticut. What it does have to do with is a United Nations arms treaty cracking down on the illegal arms trade that the current Administration is in support of. Now mind you, this treaty is about rogue nations (North Korea, Iran, et al) selling arms to terrorists, or arms dealers selling to backwater hell-raisers with armies of child-soldiers. But since this treaty is about restricting sales of arms, the NRA (who really is a mouthpiece for the arms industry and not you, Mr. Responsible Gun Owner) created the lie that this treaty will somehow make private gun ownership illegal, and is busy pushing the lie to any and all who will listen – even if they aren't interested. Here's the rub though – the UN matters about as much as a bag of beans when it comes to orderly democracies, and said treaty means exactly zilch in this country. But the NRA would rather you not know that, so instead they stoke the fear and paranoia, because making people think that the President will be personally parachuting into your front yard tonight with a hundred ATF agents in tow to steal your guns and rape your wife and daughters.

I wish I was kidding when I said that. But such is the state of the wingnut id, where darkest nightmares have become feverish, fetid reality. The funny thing is that no less than Ronald Reagan said that the American public had no need to own assault rifles, and as recently as ten years ago Wayne LaPierre himself said that extended background checks were more than copacetic with the NRA, to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. But now? THE BOOGEYMAN'S GONNA GET YOU!

So what does it all mean? It's trust issues for the most part. When their guy was in office, they figured that kind words would be enough to placate the masses without actually doing anything. Now that their guy isn't in charge, and the big scary black guy that isn't their guy in office might actually do something, it must be part of some commie plot to enslave the populace, right? Now that the other guy is in office, suddenly law enforcement is irrelevant if not in on the conspiracy, and that 'the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun'. That's the job of police, not of paranoid vigilantes.

And even if somehow private gun ownership were to be banned in the US, how could it possibly be enforced? According to best estimates, there are over three hundred million firearms in the hands of private owners – which would probably make the American public the single largest army in the world. It would require an inconceivable amount of manpower to somehow go house to house and physically remove every firearm from every home, needing every soldier and policeman in the entire world and then some. Which – let's be honest here – is completely ridiculous, let alone unrealistic. This was why during World War II, Germany or Japan never even considered the idea of invading the continental US. When the great Japanese naval strategist Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was asked in 1942 if an invasion of the continental United States would be successful, he was quoted as saying that an invasion would be doomed to failure because 'there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass'.

“But, but.... what about....”

Oh yes, you and your scandalmongering. Everything, every last little perceived slight is some sort of 'scandal' to you. Do you even know what a scandal is? Watergate was a scandal, a sitting president's plan to undermine his political enemies by quite literally stealing their secrets – never mind the fact that Nixon would've won the 1972 election regardless of whatever dirty laundry G. Gordon Liddy and his cohorts might have found. Iran-Contra was a scandal, selling weapons to repressive regimes and brutal insurgents (you know what they say, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter), and financing the entire scam by inventing crack cocaine and turning it loose upon America's inner cities. Reagan only survived the scandal because in all likelihood, Alzheimer's Disease had robbed him of any serious mental capacity. By those standards, the 'scandals' of today's wingnuts are tempests in teapots, and for the most part they only exist in the minds of those who invented them. Obamacare is a scandal! The nerve of that idiot Marxist Kenyan usurper, how dare he propose legislation that might help us all, let alone get it passed!

“What about Benghazi, you librul prick?”

What about it? It might not have ever happened had GOP intransigence forced budget cutbacks – especially for embassy security! And what about the e-mails that suggested a cover-up? Well, it turns out that ABC – those who broke the story initially – they didn't even read the fucking things all the way through. Turns out that there was no cover up.

“What about the IRS investigating Tea Party groups?”

Gee, where was your manufactured outrage when your President let the IRS investigate liberal groups? It's okay when your guy does it, but it suddenly isn't when someone else does it, right? Hey, give Obama credit: he fired the head of the IRS when the incidents became public.

“What about the Marines?”

Oh, don't make me laugh. For those unaware, there are wingnuts out there claiming that the President somehow violated the rules of the Marine Corps by having Marines hold up umbrellas when a sudden downpour interrupted a joint press conference between himself and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Uh, I hate to break this to you, but the Presidential cadre of Marines are under the President's personal control – if he asked them to start doing improv comedy for the crowd of reporters, they'd do it, because he's the fucking President, that's why!

It's just like I said in the beginning, when you boil away the lies and bullshit, you have white people hating a black man for no reason other than being told to. Sounds like naivete, fear, paranoia, and racism – a toxic mixture at that. And that's exactly what the people controlling you want from you, wingnut. They don't want you to think. They want you to be scared of the intelligent black man. They want you to be so scared of him, they created the lies they want you to believe. Never mind that the House Republicans just voted to end the forty-hour work week and eliminate overtime pay for hourly employees. Never mind that those same people are hard at work trying to eliminate voting rights. Never mind that they're busy undermining the rules and regulations that keep your food safe, your air and water clean, the products you use in every facet of your life safe for use. Never mind that they think it's perfectly okay to anonymously purchase weapons of mass destruction and thousands of rounds of ammunition for those weapons – weapons then turned on innocents, on children! None of that's important to you, is it? Not when there's some other imaginary scandal about!

I pity you, wingnut. I pity the people around you, the people who have to live with such a paranoid lunatic. But there is a cure for you. Turn off FOX News. Quit listening to Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck. Quit reading Drudge, Breitbart, Malkin – you do know that they're using you, right? The only reason they want you watching, listening and reading – aside from keeping you stupid and scared, of course – is to sell you things, sell you rip-offs and scams like credit-monitoring services and scrap-gold buyers that will give you maybe one-fifth of what your scrap gold is worth, all the while telling you that you're getting 'the best price available'.

I pity you. And if you don't like what I have to say, then fuck you. You're what's wrong with this country – not me, and certainly not our President.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Playing With Your Food

One thing that I love about what I do as a musician is the downtime between my runs to Nevada and wherever else the music takes me. I'm at home with my wife and family, and I cook for everybody several times a week, basically alternating days with my mother, while my little brother pitches in once a week or so. And I get to make wonderful meals that everyone enjoys, unbeknownst to one little detail: I'm experimenting on them.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not going all Josef "Angel of Death" Mengele on them. No, my level of experimentation is much more subtle than that. I like playing with recipes, modifying and mutating them, seeing how far I can push the envelope before somebody tells me that the dinner I just prepared was too hot/bland/salty/sweet/what-fucking-ever for them. But I don't really hear that very often - except when I bust out the Thai curry pastes I love. But tonight's meal wasn't Thai, not by any stretch of the imagination. Just a simple meatloaf. But if you know me, you know that I'm just not capable of simple. I've just got to fuck with things a little.
My meatloaf recipe is pretty safe and straight-forward: a pound of hamburger, a pound of pork sausage, with some diced onions to add a little crunch, and eggs and panko to act as a binder. sometimes I'll throw something else into the mix, like a package of chorizo. And then there's the Mighty Bacon Bomb, which aside from being king-sized gets its name from the woven mat of bacon that evelops in in wonderful flavor while keeping the loaf moist.
This time around, my variation was adding tiny pieces of salt pork to the mix, left over from when my mother made potato balls for our birthday. Yes, I was my mother's 23rd birthday present. Some present, right? I fried up the salt pork to get the pieces nice and crispy, then laid the lardons, (as the French call it) on a plate that went in the fridge to cool them down before throwing them into the loaf mixture. The loaf goes into a loaf pan (natch), then into a 400-degree oven for thirty minutes. The loaf got pulled from the oven at that point, to be basted with a homemade barbecue sauce before going back into the oven for another fifteen minutes. After that, the loaf is pulled from the oven and very carefully turned out on to a cutting board, and the rest of the loaf is basted with the barbecue sauce and allowed to rest for about ten minutes before serving.
I've got several layers of experimentation going on here all at once, and the next layer is the sauce. The barbecue sauce is make for meatloaf is based on a recipe from of all people, a Canadian internet porn star named Elli. For the record, I'm not a member of her website (NSFW), and I found her blog quite by accident, but I am kinda partial to her stage name (it's my granddaughter's), not to mention the sheer variety of topics she covers on her blog, and the sometimes brutal honesty she puts into it, which in turn inspred me to start the blogs I write. Elli's barbecue sauce recipe was something I discovered while I was still living in Reno, and I've tweaked it enough times to make it into something truly my own. If you want the recipe, I'm pretty sure it's in the archives here, so start digging if you want it!
When I make proper barbecue, like ribs or pulled pork, I make my recipe straight. But when I make meatloaf, I change things up a little bit, primarily by swapping out apple cider vinegar for balsamic vinegar, and reducing the amount of garlic I use, though this time there was no garlic in it at all - kinda odd for me, right? I also tried something else totally new to me, adding a shot of whisky into the mix.
I have to digress here for a minute. If you know me, you know that I don't drink. And when I say that I don't drink, it's not that I started then stopped. I never started drinking. Growing up with mean drunks for a father and older sister, I decided that it was simply easier to not go down the path they followed and not drink at all instead of becoming an alcoholic, and then a recovering alcoholic. The downside to not being a drinker is that there's a lot of good recipes that require alcohol, and since I never allowed my palate to be exposed to alcohol, I really don't know that much about what kind goes best with what recipe. I'm willing to give it a taste, to see what's good with what, but I don't trust my palate all that much because I'm bascially fighting my own aversions to alcohol to try to learn about using it as ingredient, instead of as an intoxicant. Here's more or less what tonight's meatloaf sauce was comprised of:
One 15oz. can of tomato sauce
One shot (1.5oz.) of whisky
One pony shot (1 oz.) of balsamic vinegar
One pony shot of soy sauce
Three to four tablespoons of brown sugar
A few dashes of the hot sauce of your choice to taste - tonight I used plain old Tabasco
Three drops of liquid hickory smoke
In a saucepan over medium heat, add the ingredients in order, then bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about twenty to thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.
Along with the loaf was my first attempt at a cold pasta salad from scratch. The same day my mother made potato balls, I was asked to make an appetizer that everyone in the family loves - homemade mozzarella cheese. Really, making your own mozzarella is piss-easy. Go google 'make your own mozzarella' and you should be rewarded with a good recipe right off the bat. After breaking the loaf of mozzarella I made into little balls (a gallon of milk will produce about a pound of mozzarella), I marinated the cheese and some halved kalamata olives in a mixture of store-bought italian dressing and store-bought balsamic vinaigrette, and that was when the idea of using making a pasta salad with the cheese and olives hit me. So I went to Wal-Mart the next day and bought some rotini (corkscrew) pasta, and figured that I'd have to do this in the next few days, so I wouldn't forget.
So tonight I boiled the pasta long before I started making the meatloaf, then drained the pasta and put it into a bowl that went into the fridge to cool off for a while. Once the pasta was sufficiently cooled, I grabbed my cheese and oilves from the fridge and diced up the lot of it before throwing it in with the pasta and tossing the salad together to make sure the pasta was coated with the marinade, with the bonus action of tossing the salad being breaking up the cheese into even smaller pieces. The salad still seemed kinda dry to me, so I added some more of the balsamic vinaigrette to the salad, then returned the salad to the fridge to let the ingredients marry. While the verdict from the family was that the salad was very good, they agreed with me that it was still a touch dry, and could've used a touch more dressing.
I guess that what I'm trying to say is to never stop experimenting, even if you think your recipe is already perfect. Play with your food - it's always worth the effort. And my family always appreciates my efforts.