Sunday, November 30, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
I had some friends that worked at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, and they were kind enough to share this with me. Mustard was one of the most commonly used spices/condiments in the 17th century. With the diet of either salted preserved meat or fresh meat which was quickly going bad due to lack of refrigeration or preservatives, mustard was a valued condiment to improve the taste, as well as cover up any trace of decay in the food of the time.
Here is the recipe from the 1600's rewritten for the modern kitchen. I suspect that it would be good on beef, pork, fowl as well as wild game.
Make some up and eat as the pilgrims did. -grin-
1 cup yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons honey
11⁄2 teaspoons salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 cups red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
Grind the mustard seed in a spice grinder, blender or mortar and pestle. It should be about the texture of coarse cornmeal. Place the mustard in a medium bowl and add the spices. Pour in the vinegar and stir well to combine. Let the mustard stand two hours (or more) and stir again. If it is too thick, you can add water or additional vinegar, white wine or even dry sherry. The mustard can be eaten at this point — however, it will be very sharp. The mustard mellows very nicely over time and is truly at its best at least a week or two after it is made.
Put the mustard in a sterile quart jar. Cover the jar with a lid and allow the mustard to mellow unrefrigerated. Add more liquid as needed. When you are ready to serve the mustard, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Any unused mustard can be stored indefinitely. It will continue to mellow as it ages.
Makes 2 cups.
>>>A French soldier on US troops in Afghanistan
A tip o' the hat to Jean-Marc Liotier at Serendipitous Altruism (certainly one of the more intriguing blog titles I've come across!) for translating observations by a French soldier, serving with an Operational Mentoring Liaison Team, or OLMT, concerning the US soldiers with whom he's based.
We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”. Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.
They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.
Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.
Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by lack of privacy and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled Banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location: books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.
And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seems to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.
And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.
We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.
To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owed this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers.
Outstanding! It's great to hear such glowing tribute paid to our service personnel. I hope and trust that you, dear readers, will forward this praise to all your friends, and make sure that our whole country gets the word. Such acclaim is seldom given to our Armed Forces by our own politicians and media.
Grateful thanks to Jean-Marc Liotier for translating the original French article, and posting it. I'll be checking his blog from time to time to see what further interesting tidbits he dishes up.>>>>
Like I said, I never thought I would say something nice about the French, but if this guy was serious, well what CAN you say other than, Merci beaucoup, mes amis........
Thursday, November 27, 2008
"There is but one answer to the dynamite bomb, and that is the Winchester rifle"
I am very, very, VERY grateful for all the blessings I have received this year. Sure I have had a few problems with this and that, primarily my accursed knees giving me fits as they normally do.
But all in all I have been one lucky fellow and don't have any room to complain. I have a good wife who is mostly bemused by my antics, I have enough money to pretty much do what I want and I got more good friends and buddies than I can shake a stick at. I can't think of a single thing that I need or want, I don't have any friends or loved ones who are currently in "harm's way" (other than a few law enforcement officer friends who do their thing day in and day out, may the Almighty protect and bless 'em all!) so life is pretty good.
My only hope is that all my friends and family are as lucky as I have been in the past year and that they receive all the blessings and good fortune that they so richly deserve.
Love you guys!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I did manage to bring them around with a new approach I was sorta proud to come up with and would like to share with you.
I asked the teacher to step out of the room for a few minutes and asked the class to be honest and tell me how many really LIKED the class. Only a few raised their hands. I then asked how many DIDN'T and most held up their hands. I asked them them why and was told "It was boring" "It didn't have any relevance" "It was too hard" and "They had to cover too much in a short period of time" I listen to their comments a few moments then asked them if they ever watched any of the CSI programs on TV. Almost every hand shot up. I then asked the kids why they liked to watch those programs. I was told that they were "Interesting", "exciting" and so on.
To sum it up, I told them that they were somewhat handicapped because the school system was forced to try to teach them almost 350 years of history in less than 8 months. That this was neither good or bad, but just the way it is. Teachers could only "skim the surface" of the past when they were teaching. With all the limitations of time and course content, they were lucky to get what they had gotten so far. I said that history if you allowed it to be could be as interesting, if not more so, than a CSI program. But that they would have to do a little work to discover the true story. Read a book, look something up on the web, question everything you know or have heard.
Before the day was done, I think I made at least one or two kids think just a little about history, education and how important it is to know what your history is. I also hope that I have pointed them in the right direction and given them the "fire in their belly" to make the extra effort to learn more. At least I can hope so......
Monday, November 24, 2008
I had a pretty good time and the kids were bright and asked quite a few good questions so all in all it was a good day. Tomorrow I will go back to the same school for another day of questions and answers with a different bunch, I am looking forward to it.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
On this day, in 1863 in a small crossroad town in Pennsylvania, a man who had been asked to say a few appropriate words at the dedication of a cemetery stood and spoke for two to three minutes. His speech only had 252 words in it. This was the time of great oratory, when speeches would last for hours so it was considered by some to be a poor effort, even a failure. But in those 252 words, so carefully crafted, this man, created a speech that would live forever. A previous speaker that day said ""I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."
The man was Abraham Lincoln, The speech, The Gettysburg Address:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Scarecrow! Scarecrow! The Soldiers of the King Feared His Name. Scarecrow! On the Southern Coast Of England, There's A Legend People Tell,
Walt Disney recently released the DVD of Dr Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. I think that I will pick up a copy and see if it still holds up. I watched it when I was a young pup on the "Wonderful World of Disney" and it scared the bejesus out of me with the costumes of the Scarecrow and his crew as well as the laugh on the theme song. But with all that I still enjoyed watching it. As a matter of fact, it is one of the very few TV programs that I do remember fairly clearly.
I hope it is as good as I remember. A bunch of TV programs that I watched when I was younger when I watch them today I think "What the HELL was I thinking?" -grin-
Maybe the Scarecrow was the reason I am into the Revolutionary War so much. Who knows?
To be honest, I felt just a little like a dinosaur out there. I only saw two or three people that I knew. I learned that of the 20 people I had gone to instructor school with (back in the dawn of recorded history) I was the last still instructing. The next to the last one, dropped dead from a heart attack seven months ago. Things have changed so much since those days. I didn’t see a single revolver being used all week on the firing line. Back when I started, Semi-autos were the exception. Now the firing line is populated with young’uns dressed all in black with all kinds of high speed / low drag equipment. Semi-autos with all the bells and whistles, lasers and all other kinds of toys. Now mind you, I am not totally opposed to toys, I even took the opportunity to shoot a Glock model 18 which was a blast in more ways than one. That sucker puts out 1300 rounds per minute, which was pretty cool until I figured out how much it cost to feed that beast. (50 rounds at $10.03 was the cheapest I could find, not counting shipping. Do the math yourself) It sure doesn’t take long to empty a 33 round magazine.
I got to talking to a fellow I met out there on the firing line, older guy, like me. We were comparing notes on issues that we had run into and we both agreed that the youngsters that we are getting out of rookie school are missing a little something that most old cops have. You see, most of today's rookies have never been in a honest to goodness fight in their lives. So when they hit the street, they are like lost sheep. They have been trained by society that all violence is wrong, so they hesitate to take action to defend themselves or others until it’s too late. This fellow told me that he was thinking that there would be a sharp rise in Law Enforcement officers being killed and injured in the next few years, since the bad guys (and girls) are not taught the same thing. I had to agree, since I have trained officers who told me to my face that they would me much happier if they didn’t have to carry a weapon on duty. Now that, believe it or not, that was a uniform wearing police officer who told me that. I don’t know what the answer is, if there even is one but to be honest, I am very worried about the future…..
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This poem is dedicated to the men of 1914-1918
In Flanders Fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
And to show how interesting history is, I discovered that on this day 90 years ago, when the rest of the world was putting down their weapons, a detachment of the American 339th Infantry Regiment (supported by soldiers of the British Royal Scots regiment as well as Canadian Artillery) was engaged with multiple units of Red Guards and irregular Bolshevik partisans near the village of Toulgas in Northern Russia. At the end of the battle, it was estimated that the Bolsheviks had lost over 300 dead and unknown numbers wounded. The Americans and their allies suffered 28 killed and 70 wounded. The Americans were in Russia to protect war supplies that had been sold to the Imperial Russian Government and to keep them from falling into the hands of the communist. This turned into a 6 month intervention to try to support the white forces in the Civil War.
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!
Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945
Gone to Florida to fight the Indians. Will be back when the war is over.
Colonel Commandant Archibald Henderson, USMC
in a note pinned to his office door, 1836
Hell, these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima. Bagdad ain't sh*t.
Marine Major General John F. Kelly
I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you f*ck with me, I'll kill you all.
Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders
Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share.
The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth.
Thomas E. Ricks; Making the Corps, 1997
Friday, November 7, 2008
One gallon Apple cider (it's much better if is is unfiltered)
3 or 4 Cinnamon sticks
1 cup of Everclear (grain alcohol)
Take out one cup of cider, replace it with the Everclear, toss in the Cinnamon sticks and let it sit for a day or so. Be WARNED, this stuff will bite you......
1 1/5 bottle of dark rum
4 oz. lemon juice (fresh)
4 oz. lime juice (fresh)
1 cup of dark brown sugar
Mix all of the above ingredients vigorously. Then add water, using the empty rum bottle as a measure, three bottles should be enough. Then taste test. Add additional amounts of the above ingredients to suit your taste.
Rum, water and sugar with a dusting of Nutmeg. (Again, use fresh, not the stuff in a can or bottle)
This was a favorite of seamen in the Caribbean.
You can also take a small quantity of Rum, mix it with about two cups of lime juice and a handful of slightly crushed Jamaican Allspice berries to baste pork with while roasting it. (reserve some for a dip also)
I just had to toss in a food recipe just so folks don't think I am a juice head. -grin-
In 1805 the Lewis and Clark expedition reached the Pacific Ocean after a journey across the North American continent lasting about 6 months.
And no, even if they were in the Pacific North West, they didn't find a Starbucks and have a double latte when they arrived. They built a fort on the south side of the Colombia river, to winter over until they could head back to the east which they did in March of 1806.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The Holiday is still celebrated in Great Britain and the Commonwealth by fireworks, bonfires and the burning of "the Guy" as well as the chanting of the rhyme:
- Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
- The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
- I can think of no reason
- Why the Gunpowder Treason
- Should ever be forgot.
- Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
- To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
- Three-score barrels of powder below
- To prove old England's overthrow;
- By God's providence he was catch'd
- With a dark lantern and burning match.
- Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
- Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And the Leaves That Are Green Turn To Brown, And They Wither With the Wind, And They Crumble in Your Hand
I LOVE fall more than any other season, because it affects my senses so much. There are certain smells (and taste) that you can never replicate any other time than in the fall. The smell of a pile of leaves, just take one up, grind it up between your hands and smell it. The odor of burning leaves, (global warming be damned) the mixture of candle wax and charred pumpkin from the Jack o' lantern on the porch, candy corn and those funky wax lips, fangs and orange whistles that you could get for a nickle at the candy counter only around Halloween. The spices in mulled cider and later when I got older, the spices in a vicious drink called Apple Pie. -Grin- The traditional kettle of Brunswick stew cooked over a open fire in the back yard, (once again, global warming be damned) with hush puppies or a pone of corn bread with plenty of chopped onions in the batter.
The smell and comfort of a old worn sweater first pulled out of the cedar chest when the weather cools off. The sights, sounds and smells you experience while sitting out on the front porch early in the morning with that first cup of coffee. I mean real coffee, not something that should be served up by Don Ho on the big island, or sold at some place by a guy with a nose ring at 5 bucks a cup. With, (dare I say it?) a touch of evaporated milk. (or canned moo, as my grandmother called it)
Fall has a bunch more of things like that to remember, and to cherish. (at least to me) The other seasons don't seem to be as notable, although I don't think that well water has ever tasted quite so sweet as it did on a hot and humid August afternoon here in Carolina, when it was drank out of a beat up rusty tin dipper shared among three very dirty, sweaty, cousins.
I guess I am lucky since most folks feel the memory is a lot better than the reality. I have been told that things that are never quite as good as they remember them but with a very few exceptions, I don't find that to be true.
I'd Like to See How Farming's Done, How Business Is And How it's Run, How Votes Are Cast And Office Won, A Hundred Years From Now..........
Mr. Obama is now our president elect.
I can't say that I am happy with the results, but the people have spoken, so there it is. I only hope that Conservatives don't cut loose with the amount of whining and bitching that the liberals did when they lost. We just need to "man up" and start working toward 2010 and 2012.
I personally don't see how Obama will deliver on all that he has promised and figure that there will be a heck of a lot of people in his party that will be very upset with him in a very short period of time but that's neither here nor there.
No matter what happens, this nation will continue on. We have survived much, much, worse.
Monday, November 3, 2008
On this date, in 1954 the movie Godzilla premiered in Tokyo. Which of course started a whole gigantic monster movie franchise which still continues to this day. Add to that today is also celebrated as Culture Day in Japan, well, the Sake is on me! -grin-